On 26 January as of 7:30 CET you can follow a whole bunch of Dutch and other skaters live with commentary, interviews and Dutch music (they’re live now) who have successfully cut work and shimmied down to Austria to skate the Alternative Elfstedentocht on the picturesque Weissensee in Austria.
Headquartered in Utrecht, Dutch frozen fish company Iglo is looking for a new Kapitein Iglo (Captain Iglo). It’s a real job with requirements and everything. From 1967 to 1998 well-known British actor John Hewer was the face of Captain Birdseye, as it’s either Birdseye or Iglo depending on where you buy the products in Europe. German taxi driver Gerd Deutschmann played the captain from 2008 until his death in 2012.
There’s never been a Dutch captain and since there’s no time like the present, Iglo wants someone to hand out fish sticks, sail around a bit and show up at sea-related festivals. However, it doesn’t say they want a man because that would be illlegal as women are technically allowed to apply as well, if they feel like wasting their time that is.
The job vacancy cleverly uses the Dutch word ‘gastheer’ (‘male host’), which automatically excludes women the same way ‘gastvrouw’ (hostess) always excludes men. On a darker note, wouldn’t a Dutch captain be expected to be Caucasian? One could argue that the captain should look the same as he (not she) always has, so then you’d get an older white man with a full white beard. The vacancy says “candidates of all ages may apply”, which is odd because technically you can’t exclude anyone based on age unless the salary is such that it fits the complicated ageist EU rules of paying younger people less and older people more in certain roles. In other words, they’ve overtly omitted specifying a man or a skin colour, which means women and non-Caucasian can apply and waste their time, but they have no problem telling us they’d be willing to pick a younger man by highlighting something that’s already a legal given. It smells a bit fishy.
If you’re casting a Dutch film and you need a Russian gangster type, you can then specify you want a man who looks Russian, is bad ass and 30 without any bad feelings. In this case, why don’t they just come out and say that Caucasian and male would be preferable? My money says the winner is going to be a man as white as the inside of a fish stick.
As of 1 January 2016, free plastic bags, the thin ones given out by shops and markets, are illegal. We get it: there’s plastic bags in our seas and forests and it has to stop. However, there are exceptions, as my local baker can still give me a thin plastic bag with my bread. The exceptions have to do with food that otherwise couldn’t be reasonably protected like bread, fresh fruit and vegetables or raw fish. Sealed plastic bags at airport tax-free shops and in the plane remain legally free as well.
For quite some time the Dutch have been used to carrying around plastic shopping bags or cloth ones for buying food, and no fuss is made about having to pay around 0.10 euro for a good one at supermarkets. In October 2015 shops in the UK had to stop dispensing free thin bags and now charge 5p (0.06 euro) for one, something that you’ll hear British people complain about a lot. Exceptions in the UK are pretty much the same as here. Recap: the UK pays 0.06 euro for the crappy thin ones, while for 0.10 we can get one that’s three-four times the size, way thicker and actually reusable.
Instead of getting rid of the next to useless thin bags in the UK and replace them with good ones, charging for something that wasn’t quality in the first place is a bit odd. If you read these stories though, you’d think paying 5p was equal to giving away your first born.
Time to start carrying the big ones around like we do and stop the plastic soup. Simples.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of jokes and less funnier stories about lost bags, but this fine film should make you smile: a baggage car from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport gets lost like a tourist in Antwerp.
It’s an advertising stunt for Schiphol because “Schiphol, is closer than you think.” The baggage car is driving through the main square, attracting all kinds of attention. The Dutch driver goes around asking how to get to Schiphol. Some people were helpful with instructions like “drive along the Schelde”, the river that runs in Antwerp, and “keep on for two kilometres then ask again”.
The makers also claim that Antwerp is only an hour train ride way, but that’s with the expensive Thalys train, as there are no normal trains running between Antwerp and Schiphol, a well-known headache for years now. The normal train service between Brussels and Amsterdam that also includes Antwerp and Schiphol is not a direct service and is still a mess (dated article, but gives you an idea).
Then again, Brussels Airport, aka Zaventem, is closer, so why go to Schiphol I wonder, especially if your baggage gets lost in a foreign country.
After solar-powered bike paths, heated bike paths and glow in the dark bike paths, the next trend in bike paths would be wooden ones. The city of Emmen, Drenthe has announced that it is planning to renovate a 200-metre stretch of bike path using a biocomposite material made from woodchips and bioresin for its robustness and resistance to wear. Any new material for something like a bike path needs to be able to also deal with vandalism, the weather and last a long time.
If the test goes well, it could lead to the manufacturing of these sustainable biocomposite plates in a factory that would employ 75 people in Emmen. The entire idea is part of getting more innovation going in the region.
Five Dutch students of the Delft University of Technology are designing a back pack with a plant in it which would replace the use of gas masks in polluted cities. “The bag allows fine particles to be filtered out and cleans the air,” said team leader Marnix de Kroon. It provides instant fresh air to the wearer thanks to a filter that sifts it through the roots of a plant inside the back pack.
Plant-wise, “it seems that aloe vera may be a possibility,” De Kroon explained. An expert was quick to cut the plant bag idea down, claiming it wouldn’t be useful and the filter itself could ‘weed out’ 99.9 percent of the fine particles.
The team still believes that in cities like Beijing and Tehran, which have serious pollution problems, could be their main market. After all, the prototype did bag a Dutch design prize.
Noord-Brabant student singers Grenzeloos Gek have made the news with their carnival song ‘Vluchtelingen uit Aleppo’ (‘Refugees from Aleppo’). They can’t sing on key and dance around a touchy subject, but so far they’ve not caused any actual controversy except for fueling the annual carnival lovers vs. carnival haters ping pong online.
Here’s a rough translation of the chorus:
“Refugees from Aleppo, over the mountains so high
Refugees from Aleppo, farmers, bakers and biologists
They’re coming here for four days of beer.”
It’s about a bunch of white male Dutch students drawing attention to themselves with a sub-par song using a ripped off melody and a hot topic. It’s about drinking beer and having fun and singing as flat as a carnival beer. The song amusingly implies that refugees drink beer when in fact a lot of them probably don’t and didn’t flee for their lives for a few watered down carnival beers with frat boys. I’m still wondering if this would have worked with a bunch of white Dutch girls: depending on their looks, they’d been written off or tolerated because of them.
On 16 January, the Arcade hotel in Amsterdam will open its doors, the country’s first gaming hotel, where the Aalborg hotel in the De Pijp district used to be. The idea of a gaming hotel came from Montréal, Québec (where I’m from), and the owners promised to serve poutine, although I wonder how they will get the cheese curds for it because nobody makes that kind of cheese here.*
The rooms offer a lot of retro games, some that gamers can’t find as easily from Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft and they’ll be at least 10 kinds per room. And if that’s not enough, the lobby will also feature comic books as reading material, another favourite of new manager Daniel Salmanovich.
“Hotels always claim that they want to be a home away from home, but that’s nonsense. People want something different than what they have at home when they’re travelling. There’s enough hotels that offer pay-per-view and Netflix to their guests, and I wanted a hotel for people like me who relax with gaming.”
Salmanovich also says he’ll be offering poutine, Québec’s world-reknowned fast food dish, which newspaper Het Parool got wrong by saying it had ‘grated cheese’ (cheddar bits would have been more accurate), but called it a ‘unofficial national dish’, which means that the journalist has a better grasp of geopolitics than food.
*The Québec Delegation in Brussels, who represents the Benelux worked very hard to get a Belgian cheese maker to make 40 kg of cheese curds for the Québec national holiday parties on 24 June a few years ago.
The stop motion series ‘Pat a Mat’ from the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) created by Lubomír Beneš and Vladimír Jiránek from 1976 to 2015 has a wildly popular Dutch version called ‘Buurman en Buurman’ (‘Neighbour and Neighbour’), two handymen getting themselves into all kinds of trouble. The fun part is they never get mad at each other, delighting children and parents alike, so much so that some people probably think it’s Dutch of origin.
Yesterday on the Dutch telelvision show ‘Jinek’ named after host Eva Jinek who happens to have a Czech background, theatre show creator Jelle Kuiper announced he had been given the green light to write 10 more episodes of the show in collaboration with the Czech makers for international distribution sometime in 2017. Kuiper was thrilled to be asked to do this, again highlighting the popularity of the Dutch version since it first appeared on television in 1986.
During Jinek, Kuiper explained that the Germans tried to launch the show three times and failed, something that surprised the guests and the host considering how much Czech culture the German have embraced. Kuiper said that “the Germans didn’t like things going wrong”, and apparently the Dutch love that part a lot.
As of this month and until the end of June 2016, The Netherlands will hold the presidency of the European Union. The lucky Dutch government is said to be working on “migration and international security, sound finances and a robust eurozone, Europe as an innovator and job creator and forward-looking climate and energy policy”, which sounds like a long wish list. In reality, they’re stuck with the refugee crisis and negotiating concessions to keep the UK in the EU.
Amsterdam firm DUS Architects has created the Mobile Europe Building made from 3D-printed bioplastic and a tensile fabric structure in order to create “a sculptural façade” for the building where serious EU meetings will take place, located in the marine area downtown. It has a ship and water theme to it as well – how very Dutch. Although built to host the Dutch presidency meetings, it will move onto Slovakia for the second half of the year as its name implies.