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December 17, 2013

‘Selfie’ is the Dutch word of 2013

Filed under: IT,Literature,Online by Orangemaster @ 10:37 am

Another English word has become a Dutch word, as ‘selfie’ has been chosen by the Van Dale dictionary as the Word of the Year 2013. A selfie is a self-portrait taken with a digital camera, smartphone or webcam. A feature of the selfie when taken with a smartphone is that you can see the phone in the picture. The international media is currently swooning over a picture of Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking a picture of herself with Barack Obama.

Social media and IT have definitely changed Dutch vocabulary for good. In 2012 we had ‘Project X-feest’ (‘Project X party’), a local word from the name of a birthday party event on Facebook turned into a riot and in 2009 ‘ontvrienden’ (‘unfriend’) on Facebook, Twitter and other apps was the winner.

The Van Dale only started inventorying words of the year in 2007 and before that it was done by companies and blogs only going back to 2003. ‘Selfie’, ‘Project-X-feest’ and ‘ontvrienden’ are social media and IT related, while other words stem from traditional media such as ‘gedoogregering’ (a type of minority government that keeps things quiet) (2010). The crowd favourite at parties is ‘swaffelen’ (2008). If you don’t know it, click to read about it.


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December 2, 2013

Singer Gordon accused of manipulating Top 40 list

Filed under: Music,Online by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

One of the authoritative hit parades of the country has accused artists such as Gordon and record companies of manipulating their positions by buying their own products, according to the chairman of the Dutch Top 40 foundation, Erik de Zwart.

Who’s Gordon? He’s the culturally insensitive talent show jury member who fired off ‘racist’ Chinese jokes on live television recently that in the end were indeed insulting to the Chinese candidate.

When determining the Top 40 airplay is also taken into account, contrary to another well established hit parade, the Single Top 100, making it susceptible to manipulation, De Zwart says. Gordon comes in at 38, 27, or not at all on major radio station lists. De Zwart believes that it doesn’t jive that Gordon is at Number 1 for weeks on the Single Top 100. Gordon’s response was that De Zwart was envious of him and trying to ruin his good name.


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November 8, 2013

The trend of sharing unstamped train tickets through Facebook

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 11:09 am

Sharing unstamped train tickets started with a Facebook page for Utrecht Central Station, the country’s biggest train station, with 9,400 likes and counting, and is spreading like wildfire to the rest of the country. Although many people now use a public transport chip card for train travel, paper tickets are still available until next year, and this trick works with paper tickets. It all started with a girl who took a picture of her train ticket and put it on Facebook to share it. Then three guys picked up the idea and started Facebook pages to do the same, with rumours of developing an app.

I plan to go from Amsterdam to Utrecht and back the same day. I buy a paper train ticket, get in the train, travel, and go back to Amsterdam in time for dinner. The train staff didn’t stamp my train ticket, so it can be used again for the same trip. The goal of the Facebook page is to share these tickets by leaving them somewhere at a train station, making someone’s else day, with a small treasure hunt as a bonus.

Technically a train ticket cannot be used twice and it is illegal to do so, but if nobody checks, nothing can be proven, and it’s been like that for ages. So why is it trendy now? Social media makes it easier to share these tickets and the prices keep going up, but not the service, so people are getting creative. As well, finding out that Dutch railways (NS) has been evading taxes to the tune of 250 million euro by buying trains through Ireland will make you stop your moral questioning since the NS is not burdened by any such feelings.

Then again, these Facebook pages are encouraging people to commit fraud, which won’t get the NS to check train tickets more often as they simply do not have the staff for it. The sharing is also not very convenient for one way tickets.

Either way, the message is clear: train tickets are too expensive and people are not happy with the NS.

(Links:,, Photo of train by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)

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October 24, 2013

Dutch comedian who plays up his blackness under fire

Filed under: Food & Drink,General,Online by Orangemaster @ 11:40 am

An advertising campaign featuring comedian Steven Brunswijk from Tilburg, Noord Brabant aimed at young people working in the hospitality sector (hotels, restaurants and cafes, aka ‘horeca’) has raised red flags with anti-discrimination groups as being offensive.

Brunswijk has been known for a few years as the ‘Braboneger’ (‘Brabant negro’ or ‘Brabant n*****’), which is his shtick. It is his stage name and his Twitter handle. What started off as a joke with Brunswijk and his friends making funny videos from a Black guy’s perspective on Noord Brabant (accent, culture, etc.) turned into a character that is on its way to becoming famous.

If anyone thinks that the ad agency came up with the character, then yes, that would be cause for alarm, even though the campaign is about young people getting proper working conditions and nothing to do with discrimination. The problem here is that people are now offended by Brunswijk’s own use of the N-word and therefore the ad campaign is considered to be offensive.

Brunswijk does use the abbreviation ‘BN’, which is also the Dutch abbreviation for celebrity (‘Bekende Nederlander’), again a nice coincidence. Maybe they could have used that instead, but others would see that as censorship.

Noord Brabant television station Omproep Brabant seems nothing but pleased that their guy is head of this campaign.

(Link:,, YouTube screenshot)

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October 18, 2013

EU court declares storing fingerprints in database illegal

Filed under: Online,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:05 am

Back in 2011 we told you about a woman who refused to be fingerprinted to get a new Dutch passport. Although she finally got one, she definitely made her point of not wanting to let the government store her fingerprints in a database that could be used for other purposes.

The European high court has declared that using fingerprints in a passport is fine, but storing them in a centralised or decentralised database is illegal, as it does not serve the purpose of the passport. Furthermore, there is ‘no legal basis’ for storing the fingerprints, as they could be used for other purposes. Pursuant to Article 4b of the Dutch passport law, the government stores passport fingerprints in a central database, which the Ministry of Justice eventually intended to use to track down criminals, using them for other purposes.

I can imagine why the woman did not want to give away her privacy for free and the EU court agrees with her completely. There are a lot of cases pending and for now Big Brother is on the losing side.

(Links: – vingerafdrukken,

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October 1, 2013

Scooping up toy cars to win a real one

Filed under: Automobiles,Online by Orangemaster @ 10:11 am

‘Grab a small one, win a big one’: Amsterdam advertising agency Brandbase placed 100,000 miniature cars on Rotterdam’s Binnenrotte street near the local market. One of the toy cars had a marking under it with which you win a real car. Dutch advertising agency Brandbase patiently placed all of these cars, which were scooped up in 23 minutes. Marktplaats, a Dutch auction site also sell cars. Since it has a lot of competition, this was as an attempt to position the site as the ‘quickest route’ to getting rid of your car.

It was definitely the fastest way to get rid of one real car and 100,000 small ones. My childlike brains says it’s also nice to have all those toy cars to play with even if you don’t win.

(Link:, Photo of Matchbox toy cars by sarflondondunc, some rights reserved)

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August 30, 2013

Bad haircut shaming: funny or cyberbullying?

Filed under: Fashion,Online by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

I was on my way to the hairdresser’s once when a Dutch friend warned me as a joke not to get one of those easy to manage short haircuts that tired women over 30 get after they’ve given up on their looks. Today I am pretty sure he meant the ‘daring’ haircuts featured on the Facebook page of Henk’s Fashion.

Henk’s Fashion has chosen to make fun of Dutch women with certain types of short haircuts that are deemed unflattering at least by the 13,500 people who have liked their Facebook page so far. And then there’s those cockatoo mullets and matching white capri leggings that also fit the bill, style-wise.

While the Facebook page is meant to be funny, it does point fingers at people and has been deemed akin to cyberbullying, even though it is legal to use Facebook photos of others on Facebook according to the social network site’ own terms and conditions. Whether or not the photos used are from Facebook is difficult to check. I would very much like to understand why some women (we could use a page for the men as well) get a haircut that is arguably unflattering, but also a stereotype in gender, age, background and social status.

(Link:, Photo of Hair salon by Travel Salem, some rights reserved)

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August 14, 2013

The Netherlands is Europe’s top porn peddler

Filed under: Film,IT,Online by Orangemaster @ 4:18 pm

While big European countries like France (0.78%, population 63 million), Germany (1%, population 81 million) and the UK (7%, population 63 million over four countries) host very few porno sites, the Netherlands comes in second place of the world’s Top 10 porn hosting countries, with a whopping 26% of all pages in the world. The Netherlands is only second to the United States where 60% of all pornography is hosted, a country that produces some 66% of all porn in the world, made mostly in California.

Top 10:
1. The US (60%)
2. The Netherlands (26%)
3. The UK (7%)
4. Germany (1%)
5. France (0.78%)
6. and 7. Australia and Canada (0.3%)
8. Japan (0.27%)
9. and 10. British Virgins Islands and Czech Republic (0.21%)

The Netherlands is also way in front of other European countries when counting the number of adult-only domain names registrations, with nearly two million domains for porn. The AMSIX, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, is the world’s largest data transport hub in the world, accounting for some 10% of the world’s Internet traffic. That, and the proven cliché of the Dutch being all liberal with sex, probably makes for an acceptable explanation of its porn-pushing status.

(Links:,, Photo by Mephisto, some rights reserved, based on a photo by Daniel Mayara)

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May 29, 2013

Trash bags in Amsterdam get their own Facebook page

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 10:19 am

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.


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May 15, 2013

Guessing age and gender based on tweets

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 5:56 pm
Pink bike

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.


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