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April 26, 2016

Tourists still missing King’s Day due to date change

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 11:06 am

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Three years into the switch from Queen Beatrix to King Willem-Alexander and from 30 April to 27 April (26 April if it’s a Sunday), tourists are apparently still booking holidays for King’s Day three days too late based on crappy intel, and booking agencies aren’t exactly warning them. Why would tourists have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days?

I was talking to my best friend in Québec on the phone recently, telling her about how royally excited I get about the flea market that is the Netherlands on King’s Day. I explained the tourists mishaps that keep happening and she said “what kind of country changes the day of a national holiday?” A country that celebrates it on the birthday of their King or Queen, rather than a set date. Canada Day is celebrated on July 1 for the signing of the British North American act in 1867, so the only moving going on on that date is the Province of Québec (follow the link to get the joke, you’ll thank me).

As luck will have it, Wim-Lex just happens to have his birthday close to 30 April, on 27 April, so that was an easy move. However, the date did not move for Queen Beatrix because her birthday is in January, so we’re inconsistently consistent. According to Wikipedia, on Princess Wilhelmina’s accession to the throne in November 1890 the holiday became ‘Koninginnedag’ (‘Queen’s Day’), first celebrated on 31 August 1891. In September 1948, Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana ascended to the throne and the holiday was moved to Queen Juliana’s birthday, 30 April. The holiday was celebrated on this date from 1949 until 2013.

Moving the holiday wasn’t new, but it hadn’t been moved in a while and moves when it’s easier, a bit like in the Province of Québec.

(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl)

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April 2, 2016

Amsterdam celebrates 15 years of same-sex marriages

Filed under: Dutch first,History by Branko Collin @ 9:56 pm

amsterdam-same-sex-marriageThe city of Amsterdam released a video yesterday titled 15 Years of Equal Marriage.

The video shows the city celebrating and looking back on the four same-sex weddings that were held at city hall on 1 April 2001. The weddings were officiated by Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam, at midnight.

(Video: Vimeo / Amsterdam; image: crop of a still from the video)

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March 18, 2016

Anne Frank themed escape room in Valkenswaard

Filed under: General,History,Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:39 am

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Noord-Brabant, one of the Dutch provinces that unwillingly served as a doormat for invading troops during WWII, now has its very own Anne Frank themed escape room advertised with “Hide before the Germans find you!”.

Located in an old WWII bunker, ‘Het Achterhuis’ (‘the shed’ or ‘back room’ and also the original Dutch title of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’) is the theme of this espace room, and its 19-year-old owner Thijs Verberne swears it has an educational purpose. The Valkenswaard escape room lets you ‘walk in Anne Frank’s shoes’ and fuelled by fear of being sent to the camps you need to find a way to get out of it that I bet doesn’t involve writing in your diary.

On Facebook there’s people totally into it and there’s a lot of disgusted folks as well. The espace room apparently looks like the Anne Frank’s house, the original of which is about 87 kilometres away in Amsterdam, although there are others around the country.

The city of Valkenswaard, which was always planning to do something with the bunker, will make sure the escape room is being run properly, although this sounds like something you would say to the media. The Anne Frank Foundation has not yet made any statements about the escape room.

UPDATE: The Anne Frank Foundation is not amused in the slightest.

(Link:www.ed.nl)

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March 4, 2016

Dutchman receives compensation for Nagasaki bombing

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 11:24 am

Dick Büchel, a 95-year-old man from Waalre, Noord-Brabant has received the equivalent of 8800 euro in damages from the Japanese government for surviving the atom bomb that hit Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

He served in the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army on the island of Java where was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and the bomb exploded just 1700 metres from his prisoner of war camp.

Interestingly enough, Büchel believes in the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Americans, claiming that the bomb saved him. Some Koreans in the Netherlands were also given compensation, although everyone had to file a law suit in Japan to get it.

(Link: www.omroepbrabant.nl)

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February 27, 2016

Monks eye move to Schiermonnikoog after 400 years

Filed under: History,Religion by Orangemaster @ 7:23 pm

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Schiermonnikoog, one of the Wadden Islands in Friesland, originally named after Cistercian monks in grey robes who lived there centuries ago, will be home to monks once again after some 400 years.

With a population of about 830 people, Schiermonnikoog (‘Grey Monk Island’), will get a small Cistercian monastery for seven brothers who plan to leave their abbey in Diepenveen near Deventer, Overijssel and ‘retreat in simplicity’ on the island. Their current abbey in Deventer can house 100 monks, and they feel staying there doesn’t make much sense any more. Four of the seven brothers are already on Schiermonnikoog, while three of them are in Belgium waiting to join the rest.

(Links: www.nu.nl, www.frieschdagblad.nl, Photo of Coat of arms of Schiermonnikoog by Arch, some rights reserved)

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February 14, 2016

Chiptune pioneer Jeroen Tel took on the British gaming giants

Filed under: History,IT,Music by Branko Collin @ 11:53 pm

hawkeye-boys-wo-brainsIn the 1980s a couple of famous rivalries were fought out in the media and on the playground: Coke vs. Pepsi, Michael Jackson vs. Prince, Commodore 64 vs. the ZX Spectrum. And if you had the former, Rob Hubbard versus Martin Galway.

During the era of the 8-bit home computer, the Commodore 64 ruled supreme. To this day it remains the best-selling computer model of all time. Part of what made the Commodore 64 great was the fact that its sound chip, named SID, could do more than just produce the odd beep, as it was a fully featured polyphonic synthesizer. In the hurried run up to the release of the computer in 1982, designer Bob Yannes had to make compromises, but the result was still more than competitive. (Yannes later helped make the Ensonic ESQ-1 which did have the features he had originally wanted for the Commodore 64).

Games in those days were often made by and for the British market, and British game music composers were known by name to the public, more so even than the games’ programmers or artists. Everybody had an opinion about which of these composers was better, Rob Hubbard or Martin Galway. Contrarians opted for Ben Dalglish.

And in 1988 the Maniacs of Noise popped onto the scene, two boys from the Netherlands, Charles Deenen from Holthees and Jeroen Tel from Helmond, Noord-Brabant. Deenen was the programming genius who created the machine code sound player, Tel was the composer of numerous tunes such as the theme music for Cybernoid II and Hawkeye (by Dutch software house The Boys Without Brains) and the demo song Kinetix (see above).

In an interview with Tweakers.net last November, Tel said that though he had written hundreds of songs, “all the music I wrote for the Commodore 64 is 750 kilobytes combined when compressed in a RAR file.”

Tel’s attraction for programmable music started with the Casio watch, which had tunes for each day of the week. “I liked the discreteness of it. The discreteness of oscillators. So it turns out this was programmable. Mind blown. This is what I wanted to do.”

Gaming companies knew well how to exploit the teenage heroes that created their properties. Tel said, “you never get royalties. You get a lump sum and that is it. When you make music for films or television, you get paid for the broadcast rights. With games it’s more like, here, have 20,000 euro while we make a billion. And that’s only if you are one of the better composers.”

“I had no business sense, but how was I to know the value of money? What child does? If you had 10 guilders in your hand, right then and there, you were happy. And I was holding 1000 guilders in my hand. I was happy.”

Arriving in 1988 ensured that the name Tel (and that of his colleague, Reyn Ouwehand) was not on the tip of everybody’s tongue. The active life of the Commodore 64 would be another four years, insanely long for any computer platform. People were already getting into 16-bit machines, the first of which, the Apple Macintosh, was introduced in 1984. These new computers had the memory and speed to play long tracks made using samples. Tel nevertheless managed to get his name into the Top 100 List of SID tunes 13 times, twice even in the Top 10.

(Illustration: detail of the game Hawkeye)

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February 9, 2016

Demolition company scores Delft blue tiles

Filed under: Design,History by Orangemaster @ 12:54 pm

delftware-morgaine

Last year in Southbourne, England, a wall of valuable Delft blue tiles (not the ones shown here) worth up to £50,000 (roughly 64,350 euro) was uncovered during the demolition of a Victorian house. The wall had 256 tiles in all, bricked in behind a fireplace. It was uncovered by a demolition expert who had also found tons of valuable letters and such during the demolition of JRR Tolkien’s former Poole home in 2008, many of which were located around the fireplace, the place to check.

“The remarkably well-preserved collection of hand-painted tiles includes some decorated with patterns, biblical scenes, rural settings, animals and colourful birds.”

(Link: www.bournemouthecho.co.uk, Photo by Morgaine, some rights reserved)

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February 1, 2016

Do you know your seven sins? Test yourself with Hieronymus Bosch

Filed under: Art,History by Branko Collin @ 11:32 pm

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There was never a better time to get your Bosch on.

The Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch, the town that one of the Netherlands most famous mediaeval painters was named after, has a major exhibit of most of Hieronymus Bosch’ works coming up in less than two weeks.

The Guardian calls it “the impossible”, an exhibition of 20 of Bosch’s 25 surviving panels in a small, local museum. The exhibit will run from 13 February to 8 May 2016.

If you are unable to make it to the museum, the Bosch fever sweeping the country ensures you can engage with the great painter in several other ways. The local newspaper, Brabants Dagblad, has an online quiz that will let you spin the wheel to find out how much you really know about the seven deadly sins. The questions are in Dutch and cover topics as varied as Doutzen Kroes, Roy Donders, frikandels, Mike Tyson, Snow White, civil servants, Louis van Gaal, FIFA, the biggest hamburger in the world, plastic surgery and David Beckham.

The paper has five other games for you, each one based on a different painting by Bosch, which can be reached through the quiz’s main menu.

If Dutch isn’t your forte, broadcaster NTR lets you explore the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. There are spoken versions of the interactive tour in Dutch, Dutch for children and English. If you just want to admire the painting, Wikimedia Commons has a huge photo of 30,000 × 17,000 pixels (223 megabytes). Should you print that file, you would need a wall of five metres wide and almost three metres high to display it.

(Illustration: screenshot of the Brabants Dagblad game, edited to convey the impression of spinning motion)

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January 28, 2016

Unsellable theme park becomes regular park

Filed under: History,Nature by Branko Collin @ 8:34 am

land-van-ooit-videocrop-ralph-denessenLast May the grounds of the Land van Ooit theme park (‘Land of Someday’) in Heusden, Brabant, that has been for sale since 2008, were turned into a temporary regular park by the municipality.

Before opening the grounds to the public again, drones had already taken the opportunity to shoot a couple of videos.


Video: YouTube / Ralph Denessen.


Video: YouTube / WOUW! Luchtopnames.

The theme park’s attractions were auctioned off in 2008, a year after the park went bankrupt. In 2015, after opening the park to the public again, the municipality of Heusden destroyed all the buildings in the park except the 13th century Castle d’Oultremont. It seems the pond with Napoleon’s drowning army also still exists. The municipality is still hoping to sell the grounds.

In 1989 former Efteling CEO Marc Taminiau founded Land van Ooit. He was trying to escape the fierce competition between ride-based amusement parks by creating a theme park based on theatre. The central deceit of the park was that it was its own fairytale country with its own anthem, salute and border crossings. Visitors were called Anderlanders, Otherlanders. Its motto was children are in charge. In its heyday Land van Ooit managed to attract up to 375,000 visitors a year.

(Photo: crop of the Ralph Denessen video)

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December 30, 2015

Borders to change between Belgium and The Netherlands

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 7:10 pm

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In February 2014 we told you about a border correction that was to take place between Belgium and The Netherlands two years down the road. Apparently, it should happen in 2016: the Presqu’ile de l’Islal, a small Belgian peninsula stranded on the Dutch bank of the river Meuse (Maas), will become Dutch territory much to the delight of the law on both sides.

At present, the uninhabited Belgian peninsula is off limits to the Dutch police and because it’s only linked to Dutch land, Belgian police can’t go there without a hassle. The story goes that it’s a lawless sex, drugs and rock n’ roll place, especially in the summer. The Belgian cops didn’t like having to go there by boat, either.

Belgium and The Netherlands also have the joint legal weirdness of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog to deal with, which is so complicated even Google Streetview had its work cut out for it back in 2010. And then there’s that murder case that gave the place an extra layer of headache.

It’s nice to see a border swap rather than a border dispute in this day and age. Bring on 2016!

(Link: www.theguardian.com, Map by OpenStreetMap contributors, some rights reserved; the big purple line is the border)

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