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April 10, 2014

The Anne Frank tree in Amsterdam is branching out

Filed under: History,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:08 am
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Back in 2010 the world famous Anne Frank chestnut tree had blown over and broke. In an effort to save something of this tree mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary, branches were take in order to try and grow saplings.

Today, one of the saplings is big enough to be planted, and its prestigious destination will be the Capitol in Washington, DC, the seat of the United States Congress. This is not the first time the United States has planted saplings from the Anne Frank tree; in fact 11 have already been planted throughout the country.

The sapling will be planted on the Capitol’s west front lawn on April 30.

(Link: www.miamiherald.com, Photo: annefranktree.com)

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April 9, 2014

Eindhoven to premiere innovative swimming device

Filed under: Dutch first,Sports by Orangemaster @ 2:29 pm

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The 10th annual Swim Cup Eindhoven, held from 10 to 13 April, will feature the world premiere competition use of the Omega Backstroke Start Device (video in English).

Backstroke swimmers will no longer have to worry about their feet or toes slipping at the start of a race, which has been an issues for ages.

Starting platforms for swimmers are constantly being adapted so that swimmers don’t slip, so I can imagine it’s about time the backstroke crowd got their ‘starting device’ as well.

(Link: www.ed.nl, Photo of Olympic pool by diamond geezer, some rights reserved)

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April 8, 2014

Lego creation strolls down the beach

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:31 am

Inspired by Theo Jansen’s ‘Strandbeest’ (‘Beach Animal’), Jason Allemann of JK Brickworks has built a creation called ‘Steampunk Walking Ship’ (see video below), entirely made of Lego components featuring several play features, including the functional cargo crane.

“Power and control is provided by the Lego Power Functions system, which includes the remote control, IR receiver, battery box and two M-size motors. The frame, crankshaft and legs are built using Lego Technic elements.”

More Lego stories:

Rietveld Schröder house in Utrecht gets immortalized in Lego

Drug dealer accepts payment in Lego

Lego computer built for Alan Turing’s 100th anniversary

(Photo of Lego by tiptoe, some rights reserved)

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April 7, 2014

Two billion euro in gold? Nah, keep it!

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:47 pm

gold-bars-sprott-moneyDutchnews wrote yesterday: “The Netherlands has no plans to try to recover 60,000 kilos of Dutch gold stolen by the Nazis during WWII and sold on to Switzerland, finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has told MPs.” Parliamentarians had been asking questions—it turns out the government had already decided not to ask the Swiss for the stolen gold in 2000.

An interesting story, but perhaps even more interesting is the question: does the Federal Reserve in New York still hold fifty percent of the Dutch gold reserve? According to Wikipedia the Netherlands is the country with the tenth biggest national gold reserve (654 tonnes), but half of that reserve is supposed to be in New York. When the Germans asked in 2012 whether they could come over and count their gold, they were told “no”. Germany then told the Federal Reserve it wanted some of its money back, to which the bank said it could take a while.

The American attitude has sparked rumours that the Federal Reserve has stolen the gold that a number of foreign nations have entrusted to it and is now scrambling to buy it back so that it can be returned to its owners.

(Photo by Sprott Money, some rights reserved)

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Dutch parliament to bin secure voting in favour of electronic voting

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:42 am

vote-counting-rnwThree weeks ago there were municipal elections and according to AD on 27 March there is a big discrepancy between the number of voters that showed up and the number of votes counted.

In 235 of the 380 municipalities that participated, the numbers didn’t add up. AD claims that at least 7,387 errors were made. Some of the municipalities decided to have a recount, NRC reported the same day, Wassenaar and Heerlen among them.

Counting both voters and votes makes it harder to commit fraud. The ‘ghost votes’ (spookstemmen) as AD termed the discrepancies led to commotion in parliament. Members for PvdA, D66, GroenLinks and VVD declared themselves to be in favour of the reintroduction of electronic voting which works much less transparent and is therefore much harder to check for fraud.

The fact that a discrepancy between votes and voters was discovered means that manual counting works. The political parties mentioned above said they only wanted to reintroduce electronic counting if it is completely secure. Considering that the job to build these computers must be given to the cheapest supplier according to European laws will pretty much ensure that security will end up at the bottom of the list of requirements though.

(Photo by Branko Collin, some rights reserved)

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April 5, 2014

Foam carpet by Nightshop

Filed under: Design by Branko Collin @ 9:38 pm

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This carpet by Rotterdam-based designers Nightshop is made to look like a classic oriental carpet—from a distance—but when you look closer you’ll see it is actually made of foam.

foam-carpet-nightshop-2Mocoloco says the carpet (called Showdown) will be on display next week at Ventura Lambrate during the Milan Design Week.

Nightshop is the design studio of Ward van Gemert and Adriaan van der Ploeg. They are keen on “investigating the boundaries between good and bad taste”. I don’t know if this carpet will be for sale and for what price—why not find out for yourself by contacting the makers at intothenightshop.nl.

(Illustrations: Nightshop)

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April 4, 2014

Netherlands ordered to retro-actively pay pregnant freelancers

Filed under: Health by Branko Collin @ 1:27 pm

pregnant-frank-de-kleineThe Dutch state owes 20,000 women who were self-employed and pregnant between 2004 and 2008 maternity leave benefits. NRC wrote yesterday that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has ordered so.

The committee was the last court of appeals for the Clara Wichmann legal fund, having first been denied by all Dutch courts including the Supreme Court. Like most countries in the world, the Netherlands has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women which includes an article on the right to paid maternity leave.

The Clara Wichmann fund tries to improve the position of women in society through test cases. According to Volkskrant, until 2004 the self-employed had obligatory insurance against income loss because of pregnancy and illness and since 2008 the unemployment office pays out so-called ZEZ benefits (Zwanger En Zelfstandig, meaning ‘pregnant and self-employed’).

(Photo by Frank de Kleine, some rights reserved)

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April 3, 2014

Google Naps maps good places to crash outdoors

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:39 am

In the spirit of April’s Fool, Dutch creative agencies Venour of Rotterdam and cartoonist Kakhiel (held up in a secret lair) created Google Naps, a parody of Google Maps, although it does give excellent tips about where to crash outdoors. Just like the real Google tool, Google Naps allows users to plot out specific locations on interactive online maps.

Writing this in downtown Munich next to the beautiful Isar river and its big city parks, Google Naps is telling me the place I relaxed under the sun with friends and beers was a good place to get some sleep and I agree. However, everyone can put in a suggestion and so sleeping under a bridge may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The creators also put in a Dunglish disclaimer just for Google’s founders, asking them to not get upset and not sue them because they don’t have any money. They then say, “whenever you are in the Netherlands you can have a nap on our couch if you want, just e-mail us: kakhiel@gmail.com. We can also make coffee and bake eggs if you like that (for a small price).”

(Link: www.ctvnews.ca, Photo by Flickr user RelaxingMusic, some rights reserved)

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April 2, 2014

Both lesbian mothers now recognised by the state

Filed under: Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 10:37 am

On Tuesday 1 April legislation kicked in that made the partner of lesbian mothers gain equal rights as the parent of their child. For the longest time, the ‘second’ mother (or co-mother) had to go through a costly adoption procedure in order to become the legal parent of their partner’s child. The procedure lasted at least 6 months, cost at least 1000 euro and was very stressful. If something happened to the child in the mean time, the co-mother had no rights whatsoever, turning the child into an orphan. Thanks to this change in the law, children of lesbian parents have rights that equal those of children born of heterosexual couples.

Before, only the birth mother was considered the mother and a second mother had no legal rights. When a heterosexual couple adopted a child or went through artificial insemination, the father just had to sign some papers and never had to go through any kind of adoption procedure like gay women did.

Once marriage is made legal for homosexuals, the next step is taking care of such parenting issues, so foreign countries, take note.

(Links: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, www.coc.nl, Photo of Crying baby by Chalky Lives, some rights reserved)

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April 1, 2014

Government strong arms journalist, journalist to sue for libel

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:15 am

Earlier this month the government issued terrorist warnings to its employees about investigative journalist Brenno De Winter, which were unwarranted, and had to be rectified. These warnings were sent to every single security department of every single ministry, including personal details about the journalist.

Problem is, the government didn’t put in as much energy in rectifying the situation as they did slandering a well-reputed journalist. The national police invited De Winter for ‘a cup of coffee’ (aka a sit down) to talk about what happened and diffuse the tension, but managed to make it worse by telling De Winter he could not bring his lawyer, which looks like intimidation. De Winter told this to the press in the hopes of indirectly getting the national police to change their mind about him bringing his lawyer along ‘for coffee’. De Winter and his lawyer plan to sue for libel at this point.

After questions from the floor, the Dutch government distanced themselves from dealing with this and is hoping the Minister of Justice and Safety Ivo Opstelten will mop this up and make it go away.

So far, no dice.

(Link: thepostonline.nl, Photo of journalist Brenno de Winter by Roy van Ingen, some rights reserved)

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