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December 8, 2014

Dutch professor’s past changes view on Holocaust

Filed under: History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:04 pm

book_stack

Dutch-American Saskia Sassen, 67, is a professor of sociology at Columbia University in New York City whose Nazi collaborator father is part of a recently translated book from German into English entitled ‘Eichmann Before Jerusalem’ written by German philosopher Bettina Stangneth in 2011. Sassen’s father, Willem Sassen was a Nazi journalist and close to Adolf Eichmann when they both lived in Argentina in the 1950s. Sassen would extensively interview Adolf Eichmann, a major Holocaust figure, at their home in Argentina on Sundays, which upset Saskia’s mother a great deal and had her parents arguing after he left.

For a long time Saskia Sassen refused to talk about that chapter of her life, leading a very successful career as a professor author and authority on many subjects in her own right. However, in recent years Sassen has, “found herself repeatedly confronting this missing chapter of her biography, as archival records emerge and scholars, journalists, and filmmakers seek her participation in projects connected to her father’s history.”

In 1948 Willem Sassen escaped with his family to Argentina, where he met a group of local and refugee Nazis who were obsessed with discrediting what they saw as enemy propaganda about the Holocaust. Sassen was horrified by the bloody details he learned about the concentration camps, but was sure Eichmann had been manipulated into organizing such crimes. Sassen wanted to write a book about it all, but it never materialised. In 1960, Israeli agents abducted Eichmann and rumors spread in Argentina that Sassen had betrayed him.

The rest reads like a thriller and could make an excellent holiday gift for some of you.

(Link: chronicle.com)

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December 7, 2014

Special specs with live subtitles for hard of hearing

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 8:44 pm

glasses1

Together with the help of engineer Michiel van Overbeek who himself is hard of hearing language researcher Niels Schiller of Leiden University developed a pair of glasses that provides live subtitles during one-on-one conversations. The glasses display the translated conversation on the inside of the glass with a delay of some hundred milliseconds per word and at a rate of 172 words a minute. Film subtitling, which is commonplace in the Netherlands, runs at 120 to 160 words a minute.

Schiller claims this could really change the daily lives of people who are deaf and hard of hearing, especially the elderly who are not eligible for a cochlear implant and who have issues learning sign language. After testing the glasses, their comprehension went from 25% of a conversation to between 70% and 85%.

However, just like other translation devices, the glasses still get it wrong quite a bit and the speech recognition microphone doesn’t always work the way it should. Schiller points out that like when using autocorrect on an app, the person with the glasses on has to correct some words within the context. In the future, the glasses could be used when visiting a foreign country where a person can’t speak the language, and place a light on the outside of them so the person talking knows when the translation has been completed.

I trust a lot of issues have to be addressed: what happens when the wearer already wears glasses? Durability? Price? Quality of speech recognition in busy and loud places? And there’s nothing wrong sign language although the Dutch have five sign language dialects.

(Link: www.kennislink.nl)

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December 5, 2014

Dutch-American company to make marijuana gum

Filed under: Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 10:53 am

Dutch-American company Axim is working on the world’s first medicinal marijuana chewing gum, which will be produced in Almere, Flevoland. It should be on the market in two years and it is currently being tested on Dutch patients who have chronic pain due to multiple sclerosis. This special chewing gum will work like nicotine gum, with the cannabis being absorbed slowly by the body in some 20 minutes.

You can easily buy ‘nutraceutical’ chewing gum that contains cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of pot, but Axim plans to make chewing gum with THC in it, the psychoactive ingredient of pot for patients who suffer chronic pain from many different medical conditions.

(Links: www.foodlog.nl, www.in-pharmatechnologist.com)

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December 4, 2014

Shell from Java features oldest ever engraving

Filed under: Dutch first,History by Orangemaster @ 10:28 am

Shell

A 500,000-year-old shell found on Java in Indonesia is said to feature the oldest ever engraved geometrical pattern. The zig zag pattern, which can only be seen with oblique lighting, is said to be older than the weathering processes on the shell arising from fossilisation. As well, the study excluded the possibility that the pattern was created by animals or natural weathering processes.

The shell will be on display in the Naturalis museum in Leiden from 4 December onward.

By applying two dating methods, researchers at the VU University Amsterdam and Wageningen University have determined that the shell with the engraving is minimally 430,000 and maximally 540,000 years old.This means that the engraving is at least four times older than the previously oldest known engravings, found in Africa. An international team of researchers, led by Leiden archaeologist José Joordens, published this discovery on 3 December in the periodical ‘Nature’.

(Link and photo: www.sciencedaily.com)

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December 3, 2014

Experimental office with no desks or chairs

Filed under: Design by Orangemaster @ 12:36 pm

The-End-of-Sitting-by-RAAAF_dezeen_468_1

The idea was to build an experimental office environment where people didn’t have to sit at a desk all day, which is said to be unhealthy for long periods of time. In this space you can lean, perch yourself, lie down or use bits as makeshift table to read, etc.

Dutch studio RAAAF and artist Barbara Visser first started working on the concept earlier this year. They were invited to create this – their first working prototype – at Looiersgracht 60, a new exhibition space in Amsterdam.

I wouldn’t want my laptop sliding off a surface so when I see one in the picture, I wince. Some of these surfaces look too high for shorter people, which makes them look like counters. I think it’s an idea worth exploring and maybe the surfaces could even have tech built in like subtle screens with clocks and some Wi-Fi.

(Link: www.dezeen.com)

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December 2, 2014

Looming privacy disaster with ID system and police

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:46 am
privacy

As of 2015 Dutch citizens will be able to file charges with the police using DigiD, the national government’s digital identification system. If there’s a company that’s not thrilled with that idea, it’s advertising agency Digi-D in Waalwijk, Noord-Brabant.

For years, Digi-D, who opened shop three years before DigiD came along, have been receiving people’s personal data erroneously and trying relentlessly to get the government’s full attention on the matter. The government decided first to bully the ad agency into changing its name, which was too expensive. At the moment, the government is listening a bit more closely and is trying to come up with a solution, albeit not fast enough. As of 27 Nov, Digi-D has received 45,282 wrongly addressed requests with people’s personal data, so you can imagine how antsy they are about getting police reports as well. Oh, and they are also the victims of hackers who can’t spell. The company is run by two people and they surely have better things to do than monitor municipalities who keep telling their residents to register with Digi-D because they can’t spell either.

(Link: www.nu.nl)

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December 1, 2014

Abandoned bikes to Jordan, almost as far as depot

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:38 am

Sending hundreds of bikes to Syrian refugees in Jordan sounds like a great way to clean up the clutter caused by abandoned bikes in Amsterdam. The idea isn’t new, as the city of Amsterdam said this summer that it wanted to send 10,000 bikes to Jordan. Bikes are useful for transporting large objects and can be converted into many things.

Having tens of thousands of abandoned bikes in a city of some 813,00 inhabitants makes it sound like we grab a bike and leave it on the street every time we go out. The bike depot, a ‘refugee camp for bikes’ that were parked illegally yet often removed incorrectly by the ‘bike police,’ is so far away that people cannot be bothered and just use another bike. It’s not a very green attitude, but it does save time and money.

If the city would just lay off people’s bikes unless they were really abandoned carcasses with no wheels left, that could be a good start. If the city would build more bike racks, that would help considering the current depot system apparently runs at a loss. If that depot wasn’t so ridiculously far away or there were a few smaller ones, that would help. So go ahead, ship a bunch of ‘abandoned’ bikes to Syria (or talk about it for months) instead of fixing the real urban problem, that’s the ticket.

(Links: www.dutchnews.nl, www.parool.nl)

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November 29, 2014

Rich foreigners won’t immigrate to the Netherlands

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 12:31 pm

Security and Justice Minister Fred Teeven had a plan to lure rich foreigners to set up shop in the Netherlands, hoping they would pump money into the economy by being allowed to invest in innovation – and nothing else. In one year’s time, one millionaire was interested but got caught up in red tape and gave up.

The idea behind the plan was to lure small IT companies rather than rich millionaires who buy a mansion and don’t invest, but that was never specified. Dutch online newspaper app Blendle is being funded by Americans, while the Dutch guy behind travel app Gidsy who left Amsterdam for Berlin with money from Aston Kutcher is now continuing his career in San Francisco. When an opportunity to fund innovation crops up, the Dutch government is glaring absent yet it believes to be competent enough to school rich foreigners on innovation.

“Foreigners who invest at least 1.25 million euro in the Dutch business community can get a residence permit for one year,” but only if they invest in innovation. Last time I checked how capitalism works, you let the rich people make business proposals and see if that fits the rules. When I left Canada 15 years ago you could get a resident’s permit for one year for 2,000 CDN (1,400 euro). I can’t possible imagine the price is anywhere near 1.25 million euro and being dictated to by a Dutch uncle.

Teeven doesn’t want criminals coming over and “parking their money”, but let’s be honest, he has a hand in letting in poorer immigrants who are turning to crime. And indeed with a few hundred failed asylum seekers still roaming the streets of Amsterdam two years after we told you about them, Minister Teeven’s policies are epic failures on all counts.

(I wonder if the NLTimes knows it’s using a promotional picture from the American vampire television series ‘The Originals’)

(Links: www.z24, www.nltimes.nl)

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November 28, 2014

Edible insects now available at the supermarket

Filed under: Animals,Dutch first,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 10:28 am

Grasshopers

As of today Jumbo supermarkets in the cities of Groningen and Haren will start selling edible insects products. ‘Buggy balls’, ‘buggy burgers’ and even ‘buggy crisps’ (great, more junk food) will be available. Many parts of the world apparently eat insects either as a delicacy or because they’re poor. The Western world hasn’t joined in yet except for special events.

I can’t listen to the health arguments for selling these protein-rich products because supermarkets sell us tons of junk food and have forfeited their say in people’s health ages ago. I can’t listen to the lame argument of eating bugs as an alternative to eating meat because there are vegetarians and vegans out there doing just fine without it.

Eating bugs is expensive (one portion of ‘buggy balls’ costs between 5,95 and 6,79 euro), which doesn’t make them an alternative to anything. The price won’t go down if more people buy because if that were true, the price of veggie burgers would have gone down. And if you eat peanut coated chocolates that contain red E120 colouring, you’re already eating bugs.

Bonus argument: Belgium is one of Europe’s top suppliers of insects, but its production is illegal yet tolerated. Sound familiar?

(Links: www.z24.nl, nos.nl, Photo of Grasshoppers by ad454, some rights reserved)

November 27, 2014

Supermarket gets local language wrong in advert

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:13 am

AH-bag

Supermarket Albert Heijn has advertised its delivery service throughout the province of Groningen on many billboards in Frisian (see pic), the language of the province next door, which irritated the locals. In Groningen the dialect is Grunnegs, which looks and sounds quite different, and in the case of the adverts implies that proud Groningen has been lumped in with the province of Friesland. Picture the Italian Captain Bertorelli of ‘Allo ‘Allo! saying “What-a-mistaka-to-maka!”.

Albert Heijn has admitted it messed up and will remove the adverts. I don’t understand how it even got that far.

(Links: www.deondernemer.nl, www.adformatie.nl, Photo of Albert Heijn bag by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)

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