Registered as having fallen on 27 October 1873 in Diepeveen, Overijssel, a piece of a meteorite popped up at a hobby exhibition and may actually be made up of substances older than our solar system. The one shown here is the biggest known meteorite in the world, the Hoba meteorite in Namibia.
The ‘Diepenveen’ (meteorites are named after where they were found) weighs only 68 g and it just 5 x 3 x 3,5 cm in size. However, it is the fifth meteorite ever found in the Netherlands, making it very rare, according to Dutch expert Marco Langbroek. The rock is currently undergoing detailed analysis by Langbroek and his colleague Wim van Westrenen of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, which cannot be rushed as the rock is very fragile and needs to be handled with the utmost care.
The other four known meteorites have fallen in Uden, Noord-Brabant; Blauwkapel, Utrecht; Ellemeet, Zeeland and Glanerbrug, Overijssel.
For many years when I was small I lived in an area called Manicouagan (in Québec, Canada), which is apparently “one of the oldest known impact craters and is the largest ‘visible’ impact crater on Earth” of which Dutch astronaut André Kuipers took a breathtaking picture from space.
(Link: www.kennislink.nl, Photo of Hoba meteorite by coda, some rights reserved)
Tags: meteorites, Overijssel
Groningen, a city in the North of the Netherlands whose slogan is ‘Er gaat niets boven Groningen’ (‘Nothing tops Groningen’) has some 196,000 residents, a quarter of which are students and where half of the population, if not more, gets around by bicycle. The film by Clarence Eckerson Jr., an American who was inspired by what he saw, tells the story of how cycling took over Groningen.
Travel times by car are longer (see screenshot) and cycling is faster because cars need to go around the city center to get from one part of town to another, while bikes can go anywhere. At about 9:00 into the film, you can see that even IKEA, apparently a very big one, has serious accommodations for cyclists. The one downside of this film is that it’s not bright and sunny like that very often, but again, when it is, you have a great excuse to get out on your bike.
Watch the whole film and get a feel for Groningen, always a lovely place to visit and a city we like, too:
Lou Reed’s Perfect Day rings out in Groningen
University of Groningen gaining popularity with Brits
Groningen students build world’s largest touch screen
Watch the film, it’s in English (and some Dunglish):
Groningen: The World’s Cycling City from Streetfilms on Vimeo.
If you want more, there’s always Bicycle anecdotes from Amsterdam, which has a friend of 24oranges nicely waiting for a tram to go by.
(Image: Screenshot of Groningen: The World’s Cycling City)
Tags: cycling, Groningen
Archaeologists are claiming to have found the city of Rotterdam’s oldest city seal from 1351 on the site where the country’s biggest covered market is being built. The seal is made of beeswax and was discovered in a copper box. On the seal can be read “clavis sigilli de rotterdam”, or ‘key seal of Rotterdam’, and was used to seal the back of documents.
The seal is said to depict the Rotte river, while the vertical bar is a dam. However, in this modern day and age the ‘international sign of friendship’ (aka ‘the bird’ or ‘three-finger salute’) does come to mind more quickly than a river and a dam.
Back in 2011 we told you about the oldest graves of the Netherlands discovered in Rotterdam.
(Link: www.ad.nl, Photo: BOOR)
Tags: archaeology, Rotterdam
Yesterday I went to the Saint Nicholas parade in Amsterdam.
The bishop of Myra visits the Netherlands, Belgium and other parts of Europe each year to give gifts and candy on his birthday (6 December) to children that have been good and to take children that have been bad back to his palace in Spain.
Recently the appearance of Saint Nicholas’ helpers, the Black Petes, has drawn criticism for its uncanny resemblance to a black caricature.
As a response to the criticism, the city of Amsterdam promised to tone Black Pete down a bit. I did not see much evidence of that, the lips were caricaturally red as ever, although golden earrings seemed to have disappeared.
Tags: Black Pete, racism, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, tradition, Zwarte Piet
This past summer Texas game manufacturer Pandasaurus released a board game called Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam) about the earlier years of the 17th century Dutch colony that was run by the Dutch West Indies Company, which later became New York City.
New Amsterdam was founded by the Dutch West Indies Company in order to encourage the lucrative beaver pelt trade with the local Native American hunters along the Hudson River. To establish a trading post there, they needed a town and a fort, which was built on the tip of Manhattan Island. To encourage European patroons, settlers of means or noble birth to populate the colony, they granted them both land and indentured servants. The patroons became the lords of a new feudal system not unlike in Europe. In New Amsterdam, players are those patroons, and they bid on action lots in order to build businesses, work land for both food and building materials, compete in elections, ship furs to the Old World, and trade with the Lenape Indians – a process that gets more complicated as players claim more land and push the Lenape camps farther up the Hudson River.
It is apparently not yet available in the ‘old country’, but I’m sure it’s just a question of time.
Here’s a review of New Amsterdam:
(Links bright.nl, pandasaurusgames.com, Image: Castello Plan of the tip of Manhattan)
Tags: board games, New Amsterdam
After World War II the Netherlands took two small villages and an assorted number of small territories from the Germans as reparations, most of which were returned on 1 August 1963 in exchange for 280 million German marks.
At the time of the return, certain food stuffs like butter, coffee and cheese were much cheaper in the Netherlands than in Germany, Der Westen reports. A kilogram of butter was 2 guilders cheaper, which is 5 euro in today’s money. Smart entrepreneurs—the site doesn’t mention names—spotted an opportunity and drove 150 trucks worth of goods into the village of Elten on the night of 31 July, what later became known as ‘Butternacht’ (Night of the Butter). When the clock struck midnight, it is said these entrepreneurs made a profit of about 50 to 60 million guilders by ‘transporting’ goods from the Netherlands to Germany without moving the goods one inch and without having to pay import duties. Instead the border was moved. At the time a guilder was worth about 0.25 US dollar or 0.1 British pound.
The Dutch occupation doesn’t seem to have hurt Elten. Hundreds of thousands of tourists came to the town each year to look at the spoils of war and climb the Eltenberg, a 82 metre high hill. When the Dutch returned the town to the Germans, it was the only German town in the neighbourhood that wasn’t in debt, De Volkskrant wrote last Saturday.
Original Dutch plans for reparations included annexing large areas of the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia and deporting the 10 million Germans living there, but the Allies and especially the US did not look kindly upon those plans and only allowed the annexation of an area containing some 10,000 people. Now, in 2013, the only land that hasn’t been returned to Germany since the war is the Duivelsberg, a hill near Nijmegen that was hotly contested during Operation Market Garden after it was taken following a short fire fight between the Able Company of the 508th USA Parachute Infantry Regiment and a German company. Much later during my student days it had turned into a famous local make-out spot.
See also: Murder on the border, about the Dutch-Belgian town of Baarle where you may cross a border simply by walking from one room to another.
(Photo derived from a newsreel by Polygoon-Profilti, some rights reserved)
Tags: borders, butter, Butternacht, Elten, Germany, history, World War II
The oldest man in the Netherlands, Mr Serob Mirzoyan of Amersfoort, turned 107 last Monday.
Interestingly Mr Mirzoyan was born in the Armenian part of what then was the Ottoman Empire (currently Turkey). According to a website called Horizon Weekly he moved from Diarbekir in Turkey to Iraq and from there to the Netherlands in 1996. Mayor Lucas Bolsius of Amersfoort came by to congratulate the birthday boy.
It is not clear whether Mr Mirzoyan was still living in Turkey when the Armenian Genocide took place, but if he did his reaching such an old age seems to be a triumph over the Turks that tried to exterminate the Armenian people.
According to De Stad Amersfoort, Mr Mirzoyan is a devout Christian who has read the Bible at least twenty times front to back. He also likes to listen to music.
(Photo of ponds near Diyarbakır by Wikipedia user Dûrzan, some rights reserved)
Tags: Armenia, Armenians, genocide, holocaust denial, people
I write this while waiting for a package to be delivered by PostNL which could take a while because the strike at the package delivery division of the former Dutch state monopolist ended yesterday and the delivery people still have a backlog to contend with.
Since its privatisation PostNL seems to have dealt with a constant flow of bad press by changing its name every five years. The company started out as Koninklijke PTT (‘koninklijke’ means ‘royal’). In 1996 it became TPG Post and in 1998 the telephone and mail divisions split into two companies, the former getting the name KPN, the latter becoming TNT, Wikipedia says. TNT later became PostNL. (There are actually solid reasons for all the name changes, but those solid reasons only highlight the company being adrift.)
Nobody seems to know why the former state rail monopolist Nederlandse Spoorwegen (which is still a monopolist, just no longer legally so) messes up all the time, but at least with PostNL there seems to be a couple of reasons. The rise of the Internet appears to have killed off much of the need for mail and the liberalization of the postal market makes it so that when in the past a house was passed by one postal worker a day, now it’s several. PostNL responded to the rising cost of labour by hiring cheaper workers. They gave it a nice spin by labelling the process “[offering] jobs for people distant from the labour market“.
In 2012 PostNL decided to pay their workers for overtime; before that workers were being paid for a mythical number of hours that they should be working according to some bean counter rather than the number of hours they actually worked. In the same year Dutchnews.nl reported that the “Dutch jewellers and goldsmiths’ federation has advised its members to stop using PostNL to deliver packages because so many disappear en route to their destination”.
This week’s strike is fairly unique. PostNL is responsible for delivering about 70% of the packages, but hands those packages over to smaller one-person delivery companies. The people who strike are not employed and therefore not unionised, which means that they strike on their own dime. The largest Dutch union, FNV, decided to help out with the negotiations nevertheless, Omroep West writes. The union is also labelling the workers as ‘schijnzelfstandigen’, self-employed people that in reality work for just one customer without receiving the many benefits and protections employees have under Dutch law. RTL Nieuws reports that online stores have suffered millions in damages because of the strike.
The agreement between PostNL and its freelancers states a new rate for delivery of packages and the setting up of a grievances committee that the freelancers can use to complain about working conditions, Dutchnews.nl reports.
Tags: Koninklijke PTT, KPN, mail, post, PostNL, PTT, telephony, TNT, TPG Post
An enormous cliff wall on the planet Mercury has been given a Dutch name. NASA named the cliff after the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship Duyfken, the first European ship to reach Australia in 1606. The Duyfken cliff is 500 kilometres long and lies in the southern hemisphere of Mercury.
For the big fans, you can look at hundreds of pictures of Mercury and I bet you one of them could contain the Duyfken.
(Links: www.dutchnews.nl, www.nasa.gov)
Tags: Duyfken, Mercury, VOC
Jip Moors and his father Holly went to the volunteer-run botanical garden in Haren and asked each volunteer what their favourite spot was. This led to an album of 16 photos by Jip Moors. Father Holly interviewed the volunteers and wrote the accompanying text.
The hortus botanica features amongst others a Chinese garden, a rock garden, an apple orchard and a bamboo forest.
The Hortus Haren was founded in 1626 in Groningen by pharmacist Henry Munting out of necessity—colleagues sent him plants from all over Europe and he needed a place to put them. Munting’s knowledge of plants grew enormously and at 1654 at age 71 he even became the first botany professor of the republic. Later, the Muntings had to sell the garden to the state because they couldn’t afford the upkeep, but they were hired for generations to tend the garden.
In 1917 the garden was moved to the nearby town of Haren because it was getting too big. The owners wanted to add new greenhouses for which there was no room at the inner city location. Currently the garden occupies 200,000 square metres.
(Photo: Jip Moors)
Tags: gardens, Groningen, Haren, Holly Moors, Jip Moors, pharmacy