Following the trend of protesting or trying to shed light on issues by setting up a Facebook page, a resident of Amsterdam’s De Pijp district who lives on the Van der Helstplein (Van der Helst square) has had enough of the heaps of trash accumulating there and has set up a Facebook page called Van der Helst-belt.
The square is full of restaurants and cafes, which would explain the preponderance of trash, but not why it isn’t picked up often enough or on time. The other problem is that people tend to put out their trash every day, which goes against the rules of that area.
Trash is a complicated business in Dutch cities. In Nijmegen for example, unless it has changed recently, residents pay extra money to use city-approved trash bags, which you buy at the regular store, so basically you pay for what you throw out. In places like Amsterdam, you pay a flat fee per year depending on the make-up of your household. In my co-blogger ultraposh neighbourhood it’s a Wednesday-Saturday affair, while in my lesser yet decent part of town, I can go across the street anytime and put it in one of the three underground bins.
Dong Nguyen, a doctoral student in computer sciences is part of a group of researchers at Twente University near Enschede which have compiled lists of words and sequences corresponding with different ages and specific genders, albeit in Dutch for now. Based on almost 3,000 tweets, users simply enter their username into the online programme which calculated age and gender by comparing the last 200 tweets with the words and phrases in its database.
“We note that users use more uniform language from about 35 years and older. There are larger differences between a users aged 15 and 20 then there are between users aged 45 and 55,” Nguyen said. The difference between men and women is apparently very stereotypical.
Problably best known for Puckipedia, 13-year-old Puck Meerburg from Delft has been coding since he was six. Meerburg has developed apps for a range of different mobile platforms already, including iOS, Android and BlackBerry.
Although Puck hasn’t quite mastered the art of giving interviews, which is maybe a lot to ask from a 13-year-old, he speaks better English than many of his adult counterparts. I like the way he ‘slags’ Apple for him not knowing how many copies of his apps he has sold. Apple lets people offer them apps that costs them no money at all to develop, which has hundreds of thousands of people (let’s cut the PC nonsense: mostly boys and men) around the world working day and night like slaves in the hopes of being picked up by Apple who apparently takes a whopping 30% off the top.
The Next Web tells us that, “His latest release, CatStacker is based on the growing hype around, you guessed it, placing items on a domestic cat and sharing them via photographs posted online.”
In May last year an appeals court in Arnhem has upheld a murder verdict on the basis of the contents of the suspect’s browser history.
The court noted (PDF) that the suspect had been searching the Internet, mainly using Google, for amongst others ‘revolver’, ‘pistol’, ‘corpse delivery’ and ‘definition shot in the neck’.
In order to determine under Dutch law whether something is murder or manslaughter, the court must decided if the suspect acted with premeditation. “Following a plan that leads to the death of the victim”, the court writes, “counts as such. The court believes that lawful and convincing evidence exists that this is what the suspect did. He acquired a fire arm, found out how to use it, has looked for ways to make a corpse disappear, has searched on the internet for words like ‘death’ and ‘bullet through the head’ and has contacted the victim shortly before the latter disappeared.”
The suspect was convicted to 18 years imprisonment.
Webwereld reports that its sister publication Computerwereld and two scientists of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have made an inventory of the cases in which the browser history of the suspect made the difference between a murder and a manslaughter verdict. They found at least five such cases. According to Webwereld, this difference can lead to 8 years more gaol time. Suspects searched for phrases like ‘murder without evidence’ and ‘getting away with murder’—oh, the irony.
Decision-maker Clemens Cornielje has told candidates for the mayorship of Arnhem ‘not to Google the names of the other possible candidates’ during the application period. Cornielje believes that searching on the Internet using the names of candidates as search words will leave traces behind and comprise the confidential nature of the process.
Hello? First thing the candidates did was in fact google the lot apparently. Cornielje claims to be the only one with the right information, which is why googling is a bad idea [insert Dutch finger wagging image here].
Point of clarification: Dutch mayors are not elected, they are appointed by bright lights like this guy. While some politicians and citizens find appointing mayors backwards, most people don’t care and so it stays the undemocratic process that it is because when they did try elections a few times, it went sour.
First of all, telling people not to do something (Mr Cornielje, do you have children?) is a surefire way to get them to do it. Secondly, appealing to people’s moral sense when it comes to the Internet is the worst thing you could ever do. If we listened to people who preach morality to others, but often don’t follow it themselves, then porn, downloading music and the likes would all be magically gone. And unicorns with rainbow capes would run wild and free, throwing sweets that don’t damage teeth to cute, well-behaved children.
It’s embarrassing that ignorant people have the right to make important decisions. Good luck, Arnhem.
Yet another Dutch Facebook page has recently made its online entrance, and this time it’s roughly called ‘No king without a beard’ (‘Zonder baard, geen koning’).
Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander soon to be the country’s first king since 1890, will be the only one without a beard if he doesn’t grow one soon.
Besides the fact that beards were trendy for Dutch kings in the 19th century and the fact that beards are totally in at the moment, the photoshopped picture of Willem-Alexander with a beard is quite flattering as it slims down his pudgy face. At 100,000 likes, the page admins will present the RVD (Netherlands Government Information Service) with an official request for the future king to grow a beard.
Amusingly enough Tsar Peter I (aka Peter The Great) of Russia in an attempt to force Russian men to look more European imposed a beard tax in the late 17th, early 18th century: “Peter’s visits to the West (which included the Netherlands) impressed upon him the notion that European customs were often superior to Russian ones. He commanded courtiers and officials to cut off their long beards and wear European clothing. The men who sought to retain their beards were required to pay an annual beard tax of one hundred rubles.”
Mustaches were OK though and it seems that trends change from one century to the next.
UPDATE: Beard tokens, based on the one carried by beard tax payers, are in and you can buy them online (tip: TheBloodTheSweatTheBeards). The Russian inscription ‘деньги взяты’ literally means ‘money has been taken’, and the letter ‘я’, (‘ya’), the backwards ‘R’ but with an extra leg on this medallion was in fact turned into the backwards ‘R’ when Peter The Great reformed the alphabet in 1917-1918.
After weeks of debating the ‘Zwarte Piet’ tradition during Sinterklaas, which involves blackface considered a tradition here but racist abroad, a steady number of Dutch people on Facebook are now pissed off at the Pope.
The Pope’s famous Dutch saying, “bedankt voor de bloemen” (“thanks for the flowers”), is often the first thing that pops to mind if you mention the Pope to a Dutch person. The Facebook page Geen bloemen naar de Paus (‘No flowers for the Pope’) wants to stop sending flowers to the Pope at Easter and is venting its anger at the Pope’s heteronormative Christmas speech, which angered Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans who lashed out in the media at the Pope’s ‘homophobia’:
“If every person is unique, as the Pope’s representative said in Dublin last week, then why should that unique person not have the right to stand up for their own sexual orientation? Marriage between two people of the same sex is having respect for the uniqueness of the individual.”
I for one will never, ever get over the amount of child abuse reported from the Catholic church since I was old enough to understand what it was.
More than 40 civil rights organisations and security experts from around the world are said to be ‘gravely concerned’ about a Dutch proposal to break into foreign computers and search and delete data. “The proposal would grant powers to the Dutch police to break into computers, including those located in other countries, in order to search and delete data and install spyware. The Dutch government argues that the new powers are required to effectively combat cybercrime in the Netherlands.”
Breaking into computers in other countries is a breach of that country’s sovereignty, not to mention crappy diplomacy. Dutch digital rights organisation Bits of Freedom is urgently calling upon the Minister of Security and Justice to withdraw his proposal, to be debated in Dutch parliament this week. Problem is, many countries are likely to follow suit. Imagine countries hacking each other back and you’ve got a subplot for an entire season of American hit TV series Homeland.
Anyone involved in politics, as well as journalists, dissidents and the likes run the risk of being hacked purely for reasons of blasphemy, homosexuality or alledged copyright infringement.
Although mobile apps for smartphones and tablets are more popular than websites and make use of the same user information to push adverts and the likes, the cookie law doesn’t apply to them. However, apps do have to comply with the personal privacy protection law, which they gladly choose to ignore. App builders know that the chance of being fined is slim, so they would rather take the risk than have to try and figure out the law, following an obvious trend.
If this isn’t a group middle finger salute to a poorly written law I don’t know what is.
This week Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum launched an online database of 125,000 high resolution masterpieces called ‘Rijksstudio’ that can be downloaded and used for free. The images are copyright-free, and the idea is that you can make your own collection of images, post them to social media, caption them, make mouse pads out of them and all kinds of other creative stuff.
Rijksstudio was royally opened by Prince Constantijn and has a localized Pinterest feel to it.