October 25, 2021

Sintel and Scales, a dark animated short about losing and finding your dragon

Filed under: Film by Branko Collin @ 5:06 pm

This 12 minute short film follows a young woman called Sintel as she tries to track down the creature that abducted her pet dragon, Scales.

The indie was produced in 2011 in order to showcase the possibilities of free and open source software Blender, and was funded using financial support from the Netherlands Film Fund and from hundreds of private sponsors.

The film was directed by Colin Levy after a screen play by Esther Wouda, in turn inspired by a concept by Martin Lodewijk. The characters of Sintel and the shaman were voiced by Halina Reijn and Thom Hoffman respectively and the music was composed by Jan Morgenstern.

Every year the Blender Foundation creates a so-called ‘open movie’ to show what can be made with the current version of its software.

(Illustration: crop of the video, YouTube / Blender Foundation)

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September 19, 2021

This window sticker threatens to shoot you

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:03 pm

Orangemaster and I came across this sticker on a window overlooking the back alley of taco bar Mr. Haz in the Jordaan neighbourhood of Amsterdam.

It shows a drawing of a revolver pointed straight at the viewer and a text that reads “Beveiligd door” (“Secured by”), followed by a company name and phone number.

I had to chuckle. Security guards in the Netherlands are not allowed to carry arms, making this is a crude joke or an announcement that the security company staff are worse than the people they are supposed to stop. It strikes me as variant of the sticker that contains a picture of a dog and the text “hier waak ik” (“I guard this place”) – except of course that guard dogs are legal.

Recently, there have been voices from the Dutch security industry, especially from the so-called BOAs (community service officers), asking to be armed (Dutch).

(Photo: Orangemaster)

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January 16, 2021

Sailing from Rotterdam to Amsterdam (time-lapse video)

Filed under: Architecture,Film,History,Nature,Photography by Branko Collin @ 4:22 pm

In 2013 Shell had to transport an eight-story metal building from Rotterdam to Amsterdam.

They hired a company called The Timewriters to create a time-lapse video of the transport, which has now been released in glorious 4K format on YouTube, accompanied by a beautiful, if somewhat ill-fitting Dvořák piece.

The day-long journey begins on the Nieuwe Maas river near the Feijenoord neighbourhood in Rotterdam, then goes past Gouda, Alphen aan de Rijn and Schiphol Airport to end in Amsterdam. If it hadn’t been dark by then, you might even have been able to see my house at 9:14.

This is worth watching for the bridges alone.

And then you come back a second time for the places you know and a third time to figure out how and why the Dutch created their environment the way they did.

Also check out the comments on YouTube, lots of insights from people who recognise certain types of trains, planes and places.

(Source: YouTube / The Timewriters)

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December 31, 2020

The year 2020 on 24oranges – my favourite stories

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:55 am

Like every year I present you my favourite stories of the past twelve months.

As you might expect, there will be some coverage of the health crisis below. However, what might surprise you is that my top story is not a post, but a month. A virus makes a lousy protagonist, but a great prism. The things we take for granted can suddenly be seen in a different light. In April we only wrote covid-themed posts: about an artist stuck in the country because of the virus, about the impact on unsold potatoes and about the oldest survivor of the disease.

Another tale from the trenches was that of a Belgian beer store that suddenly found itself involuntarily included in a Dutch lockdown when Belgium closed its border with the Netherlands for non-essential traffic in May. At that time Bart Cuypers’ Bierparadijs could only be reached through the Netherlands.

Amsterdam and Utrecht have been inspecting their canal walls over the past year, and it was about time. In Amsterdam, one such wall actually collapsed in September. On the other hand, Utrecht ended up in the news when the city used ground-penetrating radar and found that there may be as many as 60 still undiscovered wharf cellars.

I don’t know which YouTuber taught me this, either Justin Rosniak or Not Just Bikes, but apparently it’s easier to find funds for large infrastructure projects (which require ribbon cuttings, flag placings and other assorted photo opportunities for politicians) than it is for day to day operations. That’s why things like the biggest bike bridge in Europe fill me with unease when I read about them. If we didn’t need such bridges before, then where did this suddenly spring from?

Other posts that tickled my fancy:

And finally, what should in a way be the ironic news of the year: Dutch shortage of medical devices on the horizon. Published in January, when covid-19 was still considered strictly a Chinese affair, the lesson here seems to be that we should not let capitalism be our only compass for value. Did we learn from it?

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September 1, 2020

24 Oranges stays on Flickr, but no longer as ‘Pro’

Filed under: General,Photography by Branko Collin @ 5:57 pm

In 2008 we joined Flickr, a photo sharing site that was also one of the first social networks. Shortly after we switched to their Pro account because it made sense at the time – back then it looked like we might soon be bumping into the limits of the free account.

Recently, the new owners of Flickr, Smugmug, have done us the honour and favour of stimulating us to re-evaluate how we want to keep using the service by raising the price of the Pro account by 300%.

We have decided to stay on Flickr, but switched to the free account. The effect on you, dear readers, should be limited. We have maxed out the number of photos we can post to Flickr, so we can no longer do that. In the coming months Flickr may also decide to delete our oldest 232 photos. Smugmug have said that they will not remove CC licensed photos, but it is not clear if they mean all such photos or just the ones that would cause a PR stink if deleted.

We have always distributed our Flickr photos under a Creative Commons license. Please rest assured that this license remains valid, even if you can no longer find the photo.

(As a tip for your copyright audits, you may be able to find the link between a photo and a permissive license on the Wayback machine, even after a Flickr user decided to change a license; also, Wikimedia Commons often copies photos, including their licenses, from Flickr.)

(Photo by Liz West, some rights reserved)

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July 27, 2020

Horse helped determine law in the age of the Internet

Filed under: Animals,Dutch first,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:48 pm

It was 1914, there was a world war being fought, and a clever man thought he had found a way to smuggle a horse.

In that year, exporting horses from Azewijn, in the neutral Netherlands, to warring Germany was illegal. As local newspaper De Graafschap-bode told the story at the time:

L. Lueb, 32 years of age and farmer in Klein Netterden (Germany) is being tried for exporting a horse on 7 September 1914 from the municipality of Bergh across the border at Klein Netterden, by pulling said animal through the water of said canal towards the place from which he was pulling whilst standing on the German side of the border canal while the horse was on the other side of said canal, with clear intent and by means of a rope tied around the neck of said horse.

People used so many words in those days…

The courts could just smell that Mr Lueb was guilty, but legally, a whiff is not enough. A law needs to be found by which to convict a person. But more than that, they had to agree they had jurisdiction. The law rarely determines that somebody can be tried for something they did in another country.

The result was that the case ended up before the Dutch supreme court.

The original court held that not the location of the perpetrator, but rather the ‘exportable object’ determined the location of the crime, Haal Je Recht writes.

The appeals court disagreed and came up with a post-human solution: the rope is an extension of the arm, and the arm was on Dutch soil at the time of the crime. The Dutch supreme court reworded the verdict, but came pretty much to the same conclusion: one can use an instrument to act in a different place from where one currently is.

In our current day and age, it has become much easier to use an instrument to act in a different place. The supreme court referenced the Case of the Horse of Azewijn as recent as last year when it convicted skimmers who had tried to plunder Dutch bank accounts from an ATM in Milan, Italy.

In 1915, Mr Lueb was convicted to a prison sentence of three months. What happened to the horse, I don’t know.

Photo of he German – Dutch border canal near Netterden by Pieter Delicaat, some rights reserved.

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March 31, 2020

Woman claims prize, a (now) antique radio, after 80 years

Filed under: Gaming by Branko Collin @ 1:32 pm

A woman from Rotterdam won the first prize in an 80-year old competition that she had forgotten to enter as a girl.

In 1940 a then 11-year old Tjits Drenth solved a rebus of the Jamin candy chain store, but then the war broke out and she either forgot or ignored the competition.

Earlier this year, when cleaning her place, she discovered the old rebus and decided to send it to Jamin as a historical memento. The company saw a marketing opportunity (or so I assume) and decided to award a prize.

Jamin wasn’t able to find out if the prizes for the competition had ever been awarded, its archive having a big 1938-1950-shaped hole in it, so they decided to give the now Mrs. Den Tuinder-Drenth the main prize. An original Erres tube radio KY 188 was found on Marktplaats, an Ebay owned classified advertising site, and fixed up—although it also gained bluetooth in the process somehow.

The competition asked entrants “What does baron Benjamin say?” The first prize was a radio, the second a sewing machine, the third a vacuum cleaner and the fourth a bicycle—all from Erres, a company from The Hague later bought by Philips.

Mrs. Den Tuinder – Drenth was glad she won first prize, which she received on 3 March from Jamin CEO Maarten Steinkamp. She told AD.nl: “I do not know how to sew, so the sewing machine would have been of no use to me. I am very happy with the radio, however, because I listen to the radio a lot.” Her favourite channels are NPO1 and NPO5.

(Illustrations: AD.nl)

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February 29, 2020

The Letter for the King gets the Netflix treatment

Filed under: Dutch first,Literature,Shows by Branko Collin @ 1:59 pm

On 20 March 2020, Netflix will start running its mini-series The Letter for the King based on the 1962 children’s book of the same name by Tonke Dragt.

Set in the middle ages, knight-in-training Tiuri is tasked by a stranger to deliver a letter to the king and save the world in the process. The adventure spans six episodes. Dragt wrote a sequel to her book, The Secrets of the Wild Wood, so who knows? If this series does well, they might commission another.

According to an interview with Dragt in Trouw last year, this is the first Dutch book that is being turned into an international series by Netflix. Dragt, now 89:

I immediately said no to a couple of [changes Netflix had planned]. No torture! They wanted to remove shield-bearer Piak from the story but I said: Piak stays. And they wanted to make Tiuri’s background more interesting, but I was against that—he is a regular boy. Children must be able to think: that could happen to me. Will I keep the promise [to deliver the letter]?

I had never heard of [Netflix]. So now I need to stay alive for a little while longer, until I have seen at least the first episode. Will it be good or disappointing? I will decide then if I will watch more of it.

Dragt’s stories often revolve around dualities, about finding that crack in the middle to slip through. Tiuri gets the tough choice: do I follow the formal steps that will get me knighted or do I throw that all away so that I can behave knightly?

In De Zevensprong, a so-called seven-way junction is the starting point for a mystery: there are only six roads. The book plays with the notion that a fork in the road is where a single road splits in two—or are they three roads meeting? The duality must be resolved to find the key to the mystery.

And Dragt’s The Towers of February posits that today, Leap Day, is the only time you can slip between realities.

See also: The Dutch like Dutch children’s literature the best

(Illustration: Netflix)

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December 31, 2019

24 Oranges Rewind 2019

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:29 am

The year 2019 in review for 24 Oranges starts with one of the coolest stories I have read in a while: microscope pioneer Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s original specimens were photographed by Wim van Egmond through one of the former’s original microscopes. Among the specimens were the optic nerve of a cow, a slice of cork, and ‘heavenly paper’, a matter that people in the seventeenth century described as paper fallen from heaven but that Van Leeuwenhoek brusquely identified as some sort of dried-out pond scum.

The cutest story must have been that of a kitten stowed away on a fishing boat that sailed from Harlingen, Friesland. The fishers took pity on the animal and let it gorge itself on fresh herring. They could swear little Katrien put on some weight during the trip.

Have you given up on the idea of a Huxleyan hell scape of soma and surveillance? Then we had some good news for you, yes you! In Helmond—because what is in a name?—you could get free housing for a year. The catch? Companies would get to record your every move using sensors, and harvest the resulting data. “Own your data”, they called it, because the scheme turned your complete lack of privacy into a handful of pennies.

You may have heard of a verbal agreement being legally binding, but Dutch law doesn’t have much to say about how you agree on anything, as an unnamed amateur football club from Rotterdam found out to its own detriment. A contract written on a coaster was enough to force the club to pay one of its players 11.000 euro in back pay.

In 1991 Manja Blok became the first female operational F-16 pilot in the world, and in 1993 she became the first Dutch Air Force pilot since WWII to engage in armed combat. We probably should write an article about her some day. Blok has left the Air Force long since and this is not that story. The days of a progressive Dutch Air Force and competent pilots seem behind us, now that Dutch fighter pilots actually shoot their own planes during exercises. In January an F-16 managed to catch up with the bullets from its own MA61A1 Vulcan Gatling gun at a military range on the island of Vlieland.

While Dutch universities closed their Dutch language studies, the Dutch tried their hand at seagull scream impressions. The Netherlands also experienced its warmest summer day in history.

Finally, for us at 24 Oranges HQ personally 2019 stood out mostly because of a short but sweet experiment in a different medium. We had our own radio show! From May to October we had a weekly programme on Broadcast Amsterdam called Happy Hour in which Orangemaster and I discussed the local news. Sadly, we had to give it up (doing the show took up Orangemaster’s only free night), but we had a great little run!

Related: last year’s review.

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November 7, 2019

Tom Scott visits Waterloopbos, a former open air laboratory to study the way water flows

Filed under: Nature,Science,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 7:56 pm

YouTuber Tom Scott visited the Waterloopbos in Marknesse in the Noordoostpolder and had a little chat with Leo van Rijn, a specialist in modelling the flow of watercourses.

As wiki says: “The Waterloopbos [literally ‘Watercourse Forest’] was the property of Delft Hydraulics […]. In 35 large scale models of sea arms and harbours, such as the Deltaworks and the harbour of Lagos, tests were performed in order to learn how to predict the way large hydraulic systems influence the course of water.”

The laboratory closed in 1995 and the forest is now owned by Natuurmonumenten and is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset (Dutch). It is part of the Voorsterbos, the oldest forest in Flevoland, a province that was entirely reclaimed from the water.

Read more about Waterloopbos at Holland.com.

(Photo: screen capture of a video by Tom Scott / Youtube)

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