The police have found 60 mail bags containing about 13,000 undelivered letters at a Dutch postal worker’s home in Eelde, Drenthe. A local resident filed a formal accusation against PostNL after not having receiving important letters and the police who investigated discovered the mountain of mail at the postal worker’s home.
The worker claimed to be overwhelmed and let her work pile up quite literally from 2012 to August 2015. In 2013 a quick Google search tells us that in Tilburg a postal worker hoarded mail in his shed for three years as well.
Some 20,000 people (lots of women, students and seniors) work mainly part-time delivering mail in the Netherlands, as compared to the image of the full-time possibly unionised mail man. Another quick search using ‘Nederland’ (‘The Netherlands’) and ‘postbode’ (‘mail delivery person’) will regale you with postal workers hoarding mail up and down the land.
Trying to smuggle alcohol into Saudi Arabia where it is illegal carries serious consequences if we believe the media. Smugglers have tried to disguise 48,000 cans of Heineken as Pepsi cola ones using crafty stickers. We could also flog the makers of Heineken, but that’s just a pipe dream.
Just this week an elderly British man living in Saudi Arabia was released from jail after spending one year in a cell for making homemade wine. More than 230,000 people had signed an online petition calling for the British Prime Minister to intervene to stop Mr Andree from facing 350 lashings, a punishment the man would probably not have survived after battling cancer and being asthmatic.
In the Netherlands, a song by Jaap Visser once told us that in fact ‘Heineken is a hard drug dealer’ and makes a great argument for banning it.
Heineken wrecks everything
Leidseplein, your marriage
Heineken is a hard drug dealer
The hospitals are full
With victims of alcohol
Heineken is a hard drug dealer
Don’t let yourself be cheated
Don’t let yourself be fooled
Heineken is a hard drug dealer
And if the stadium is violently destroyed
Heineken sits sanctimoniously at home
Counting his money
The Platform for the Reform of Dutch Universities (H.NU) lets all of us vote on the ‘stupidity ranking 2016’ with Dutch university slogans. Amusingly, the voting is in Dutch, but there’s enough Dunglish and misused English that many of you can join in. It’s three points for the dumbest slogan, then two points, then one point. The platform has also included the local parody version of some of them, which makes it even more fun.
The problem with these slogans, which resemble useless city marketing ones, is that they don’t relate to education. They’re too vague, trying too hard to sound like American or British universities or trying too hard altogether. One sticks out above the rest in our view, it’s the RUG with ‘Born Leaders Reach For Infinity’ that has the flow of an acronym, but the appeal of an overflowing bin bag with rotten food begging to be taken out.
An Amsterdam legal firm made up entirely of women was compared to an escort service in a tweet by a well-known legal business publication based solely on a recent firm picture. The tweet reads “Marketing question: legal firm or escort service?” and was met with astonishment and disgust by men and women alike. The photo has five of the firm’s lawyers sitting on and around a couch surrounding the managing partner, Marielle Van Essen.
Van Essen said she could not understand why colleagues would imagine it’s OK to call them prostitutes. “We like to look good, that’s all. If other people want to wear a sloppy suit, they can. This is what we do.” On Twitter there are parodies popping up, with pictures of policewomen being compared to hookers and doctors to whores to drive the point home. Many people commenting also wonder if it was a case of the dumb, young white male intern trying to be funny, but the publication has refused to comment or rectify anything. Trashing lawyers because they’re women is someone’s idea of normal in 2015 and it shouldn’t be.
This would be a non-topic if it was a bunch of men. It is free publicity, but the firm has more work than they can handle with Van Essen herself stuck at home with the flu as I write this.
On 2 December the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) together with science-oriented Dutch public-service broadcaster NTR will be launching the ‘Sprekend Nederland’ app that analyses groups of speakers and what they think of each other. Are some variants taking over or in fact disappearing? A lot of data has to be collected to be able to draw conclusions and Dutch speakers can contribute, including ‘ethnic varieties’ because even ethnic groups speak different types of Dutch depending on where they live.
The app needs to be installed on a smartphone so you can record a few sentences and contribute. Researchers point out that it would be nice if the kids made sure their grandparents joined in as well, a group that’s a bit less tech-savvy than most. And what about getting Dutch-speaking foreigners like myself? I wonder if I can join or if it’s for card-carrying Dutch people only. I’ve asked.
UPDATE: Anybody who speaks Dutch can contribute, ‘even with a different background’.
‘Patat’ or ‘friet’? They both mean ‘fries’, but people use one or the other depending on where they live. The research here is not about dialects, but about ‘regionally different versions of Dutch’. The scientists and app builders from Amsterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen had never sought to analyse the diversity of Dutch on such a large scale before. They wanted to build an app that was scientific, but also appealed to the mainstream. The boffins also want to create a Flemish version, but that’s not in the cards yet.
Trade union federation FNV said the aim of the stunt was to launch a petition calling for better working conditions in the food and hospitality industry.”The industry’s turnover has gone up for the eighth quarter in a row, but the personnel have not benefited,” the union said.
In 2013 marketing geniuses in Amsterdam decided to call the coastal cities of IJmuiden, Bloemendaal and Zandvoort ‘Amsterdam Beach’, and nobody calls it that because it doesn’t make any sense, geographically or otherwise.
Another bunch of marketing geniuses are contemplating calling the historical beach of Scheveningen ‘The Hague Beach’ to attract more tourists, a change already implemented on the district’s English Wikipedia page. They argue that The Hague has 11 kilometres of beach that ‘nobody knows about’, as if pronouncing ‘Scheveningen’, admittedly not easy, was the problem. The Hague is really called ‘s-Gravenhage’ and was simplified in Dutch to Den Haag, but that hasn’t stopped anybody ever.
Not far from The Hague, but way closer to Rotterdam is Rotterdam The Hague Airport, which was historical called Zestienhoven because that’s where the airport actually is. It was later renamed Rotterdam Airport and finally Rotterdam The Hague Airport to give it more international appeal. Nobody cares.
According to AD.nl, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Ronal Plasterk, born and raised in Scheveningen said in a tweet: “Slippery slope: I was born in Scheveningen, not at The Hague Beach”, to which the city marketing spinners retorted that The Hague Beach is just what we’ll tell tourists, which is as condescending as sounds. Foreign nationals, historians and locals hate the idea. The city’s website still calls it The beach of Scheveningen, which almost sounds like painting by Adriaen van de Velde.
British furniture chain Seats and Sofas, which also has outlets in the Netherlands, got ‘pwnd’ with a ‘Trojan’ cake, and a song and dance. In the video below we learn that the company is well-know for advertising the price of a sofa and then in very small print adding instalments that makes the couch twice the advertised price, effectively misleading shoppers.
The Dutch and Belgian pranksters called both Dutch and Belgian shops to ask if the advertised price of 499 euro on a sofa was correct and both said yes, failing to mention the fine print story. And not reading the fine print is what bites this one shop in the arse in this video.
Although in Dunglish, the subtitles are enough to understand the prank that has been played on the furniture giant. And the video is a delight to watch: Seats and Sofas can’t be arsed to read fine print or read a situation for that matter.
Beer, broads and a bacon sandwich! Watch the video to hear more festive alliterations.
An interactive installation called ‘Toon’ (‘Tone’) by Dutch artist Jeroen Bisscheroux at the Vincent van Gogh College in Assen, Drenthe, features three dark-red horns a person can sit in the middle of and listen to environmental sounds. They can hear sounds from three different locations, including nearby sports pitches, passers-by from the park, as well as the sounds of people leaving school. By having three horns pointed in different directions you get a mix, creating a veritable soundscape.
Bisscheroux has many different installations related to sound, one of which called ‘Oor’ (‘Ear’) that many people drive by on motorway A50 near Son en Beugel, Noord-Brabant.
After years of having disappeared, the Hericium erinaceus also known as Lion’s mane (in Dutch ‘pruikzwam’, literally ‘wig mushroom’) has made a much appreciated comeback for mycologists and mushroom fans alike on a beech in the woods of de Velhorst in the province of Gelderland.
Lion’s mane is apparently edible and taste like seafood, has several medicinal properties, grows on many continents and is a rare treat to find. According to Wikipedia it is also known in English under other names such as Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Satyr’s Beard, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom, pom pom mushroom, or Bearded Tooth Fungus, none of which have to do with wigs.