For the past three years citizens of Koewacht, a village straddling the Dutch-Belgian border, has been receiving anonymous hateful letters, but two weeks ago the perpetrator was caught.
Cristel was known to be a respectable woman, living a model life with her husband and dog in a detached house. However, behind those immaculate walls, AD says, the 51-year-old was busy writing letters to her neighbours signed with “a mother of three children” and “the group” in which she told the recipients that they were ugly, had ugly faces and big posteriors, and that she hoped their children wouldn’t grow up to be as ugly.
Don’t trash talk my children, a 32-year-old victim must have thought, and she contacted the neighbourhood cop who as it happens had also received hate mail from the same author. The police discovered about 15 people had received hurtful and sometimes threatening letters. Eventually the author was caught on 15 October and confessed immediately.
Last week during a meeting in the village’s only restaurant, ‘T Hoekske, the letter writer apologised to the victims. Her husband told people that his wife is undergoing treatment, although it’s not clear from the newspapers if it’s for her hateful tendencies.
Since none of the victims filed charges, the police won’t prosecute, much to the chagrin of the online peanut gallery who immediately branded her as a lunatic and a terrorist and clamoured for her arrest. This in turn led columnist Luuk Koelman to conclude that the woman’s biggest crime wasn’t writing hate mail, but doing it through the traditional post.
“On Internet forums it is custom to belittle everybody who disagrees with you. In real life the police may hunt you down when you tell a neighbour you think she is ugly. Online you can safely express your desire to see her dead or wracked with cancer. Nobody bats and eyelid at that.”
(Photo by Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, some rights reserved)
Tags: borders, commenters, hate, hate mail, letters, police, policing, post, Zeeland
Starting next year Ms Hennie de Haan will become the new chairperson of the Poultry Farmers’ Union of the Netherlands, Telegraaf reports.
In itself this is not interesting news, but if you understand Dutch you’ll realise her name means ‘Hen the Rooster’. Never was there a poultry farmers’ union’s chairperson with a more fitting name, I imagine.
Ms De Haan told AD that she hadn’t even noticed the funny pairing at first: “Well, I’ve had this name for 45 years now. You don’t often stop to contemplate your own name. My partner had to point out [how remarkable this is]. [...] Usually chicken farming is discussed in terms of the environment and the treatment of animals. If my name causes a smile [...] I consider that a bonus.”
A popular go-to person for the Dutch press whenever a plane threatens to fall out of the sky is the former chairperson of the Association of Dutch Commercial Pilots, Benno Baksteen, whose last name means ‘brick’.
Every year popular radio DJs Coen & Sander collect the funniest names they can find and crown one of them the ‘shame name’ of the year. Two weeks ago that award went to Wil Helmes, which sounds like the title of the Dutch anthem, ‘Wilhelmus’. Number 2 was Ben Bouten, which means ‘off to poo’. Third place went to Leen Kleingeld means ‘borrow small change’.
Tags: animal cruelty, chickens, farming, funny names, names, poultry, Wilhelmus
A man and a woman from Haarlem were arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of theft after the man had left his Facebook page open on the victim’s computer.
The pair had ‘befriended’ the victim earlier when the latter was walking his dog, Haarlems Dagblad writes. They rang his door, asked if the woman could use the facilities, and while the man suggested he would log in to Facebook to ‘friend’ the victim, the woman stole the victim’s wallet.
The two then stole a bike from the apartment building to make tracks.
(Photo of Haarlem city hall by J. Kunst, some rights reserved)
Tags: dumb criminals, Facebook
Why say sorry if you can sing it, make people smile and rip them off even more? That is exactly what Dutch Rail decided to do when they apparently hired jazz singer songwriter Baer Traa to pose (!) as fictitious train conductor Job van Gils.
Dutch Rail has been making a veritable fortune by not paying back any money owed to people who forgot to check out with their public transport chip card. Now subscriptions holders who forget their pass card and have had to pay a fine cannot ask for their money back either. Even the Dutch Rail employees are appalled and somehow somewhere Baer Traa dressed up as a train conductor got a gig telling people ‘sorry’, or in less polite and more accurate terms, how Dutch Rail is screwing them over easy.
Traa gives ‘peddling excuses’ a whole new meaning at Amsterdam Central Station in this video. He starts singing again at 1:08, as the beginning of the video was the end of one song. He actually tries to explain that Dutch Rail has a new policy that shafts more people than even before.
(Link: brekend.nl, Photo by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Amsterdam Central Station, Baer Traa, chip card, Dutch Rail, jazz, train
Needing an amputation, Leo Bonten wanted to keep his right leg after the operation because he wanted to make a lamp out of it, claiming it would help him deal with his loss. Ethical clinician Erwin Kompanje and pathologist Frank van de Goot have a discussion about it with Bonten in attendance (see video).
The hospital said ‘no’ to Bonten keeping his right leg, but the law actually has nothing to say about it, only what to do with corpses. Kompanje was surprised at the hospital’s answer, which was entirely baseless. “Your body is your property, unless you give it away,” he explains. The ethical clinician compares it to leaving the hair from your haircut on the floor at the salon: you give permission to have it sweeped up by leaving it there, while you could ask for it and bring it with you.
Van de Goot, who prepared the leg for amputation, says social safety issues must be taken into account like hygiene and infection, which Bonten agrees with as well, although not an issue in his case. Van de Goot agrees with Kompanje that Bonten could keep his leg. He tells of people keeping their baby teeth in a box or gallstones they have had removed, so why not a leg.
However, Bonten was told that he could only get his amputated leg back after it had been buried to follow the letter of the law, which was costly never mind a bit ridiculous. Bonten refused and was initially refused the amputation by the hospital. It was eventually sorted out, but Bonten had to fight for a right he already had to keep his own leg and make the lamp he wanted. “The hospital didn’t have a leg to stand on,” says Bonten jokingly.
The big unanswered question is, what constitutes a corpse, because this kind a situation could very well happen again and the law apparently has no clear answer.
Tags: amputation, ethics
The Greek firm that runs the lottery for Staatsloterij (the Dutch state lottery) is susceptible to fraud, Volkskrant writes.
Several former employees of the company, called Intralot, told the newspaper last Saturday that they are capable of removing lottery numbers from the draw. Since this would happen after Staatsloterij has sold the tickets, this doesn’t change the amount of money that can be won, but it does change the chances each player has of winning. As long as the same percentage of winners is distributed equally across regions, ages, and so on as the percentage of players, Staatsloterij has no way of knowing if tickets have been doctored and if so, which ones.
Gambling is strictly regulated in the Netherlands, a monopoly kept by the government under the guise of protecting citizens from addiction.
An investigation has been started into the vulnerability by the Dutch gambling authority. Due to an unfortunate accident the Ministry of Finance tipped off Staatsloterij before the investigation started, Volkskrant adds in a second article. As the Dutch saying goes, ‘where people work hard, people make mistakes’. Other examples of instances where the government made mistakes are the two black boxes that disappeared from the site of the Bijlmer disaster and the lost film of the Srebrenica massacre. Do you know of any other country where the government works this hard?
(Photo of young children wearing colourful inflatable Staatsloterij crowns by Orangemaster)
Tags: Dutch government, gambling, legal criminals, lottery, Staatsloterij
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority recently paid a visit to a few locations in the city centre of Amsterdam and made some interesting finds. They confiscated some ivory artworks, 19 stuffed animals and four bottles of cobra vodka, the latter of which is highly illegal and a bit scary if you ask me.
According to the author of the cobra vodka in this picture, which is surely similar to the one that was confiscated:
“It’s Laotian rice whisky in a bottle with a very dead cobra in it. I’ve seen pictures of such snake wine in Vietnam and was surprised to notice that the concept exists in Laos as well. The belief is that the spirit of the snake inside will make you as strong as a cobra and give you more manly virility. I’d probably reluctantly drink a shot if given to me in a shot glass without the snake, but looking at this bottle with the snake inside does make this super creepy.”
(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo of cobra vodka by shankaronline, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, cobra, vodka
In 1955 fireman Cor Priele and two colleagues had to guard the Gold Coach which was on display in Rotterdam at the time.
Guard duty must have been boring. The firemen, Poot, Smaal and Priele, started using the royal carriage as a room to sit in and even to play tag around. That’s where things went south. Priele’s boot got caught behind the royal bench and a golden string broke off.
The three guards decided not to tell anyone because it would mean they would get fired on the spot. “I was very, very scared”, the former fireman from Sleeuwijk, Noord-Brabant told Omroep Brabant. He took the string home and kept it in an empty jam jar.
But this year, 50 years after the heinous deed and with both of his colleagues deceased, 83-year-old Priele decided to make amends. He wrote King Willem-Alexander a letter explaining what happened and offered both his apologies and the return of the royal, golden string.
The Gold Coach was built in 1898 by the Spyker brothers (even before they started making motor cars) as a gift from the citizens of Amsterdam to Queen Wilhelmina on the occasion of her ascension to the Dutch throne. Citizens of Amsterdam chipped in 25 cents each.
It is as yet unknown whether the King has taken Priele up on his offer or not.
(Photo by Zoetnet, some rights reserved)
Tags: fire brigade, gold, Golden Carriage, guards, King Willem Alexander, Spyker
Last week bright pink refuge islands started popping up on Havenweg in the town of Wijchen near Nijmegen.
According to Volkskrant, the civil servant responsible for ordering the paint used the wrong colour code (it should have been a dark red) and the painters never questioned the result, so now Wijchen has its own ‘world famous’ refuge islands.
Realising their mistake, the municipality wanted to have the pink islands painted over but citizens liked the effect, so the striking colour stays. Deputy Mayor Paul Loermans said about the mistakes: “To err is human. Apart from getting the colour wrong, the painters actually did a neat job.”
Omroep Gelderland suspected a marketing stunt because a bike race for women will be passing through Wijchen next week, but everybody involved denies the allegations vehemently. “A lucky mistake”, both the organizers of the race and the municipality told the broadcaster.
This shade of pink is sometimes called ‘zuurstokroze’ in Dutch, ‘candy cane pink’.
(Photo: reconstruction via Google Street View)
Tags: bicycle racing, candy canes, colours, Nijmegen, paint, painting, pink, taxonomies, Wijchen
Dear stand-up comedians: Christmas has come early this year.
Like two cars swerving to avoid a duck crossing the road in slow motion, two Belgian Piranha-type tanks rammed each other near Valkenswaard, Limburg on the busy N69 (giggle) motorway, attempting to avoid a tractor. Both tanks are leaking fuel, but fortunately no one was hurt. I’m sure some egos are bruised though, as they should be.
Let me see how many cheap shots I can take before reading other people’s comments:
‘Sergeant! There’s a big green tractor that keeps getting closer! BAM!
‘Whew! It’s a good thing this is just a military exercise’.
‘Crew cruise control on these things really suck.’
After the crash:
‘Right, I’m off for a slash, toodles’.
Tags: army, Belgian, Limburg, Valkenswaard