January 13, 2018

‘Dutch produce tons of food, but it’s bland’

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 9:42 pm

Saying that this small country can feed the world sounds very impressive, but when the crops are only for profit, you wonder what you’re buying. Subjectively, most people who live in the Netherlands and who are either not of Dutch origin or have lived abroad wonder very often on social media and at parties why Dutch-grown tomatoes and cucumbers taste like water. Google ‘Wasserbombe’ and find out what Germans think of these red-coloured ‘water bombs’.

“A country [like the Netherlands] can become an agricultural powerhouse without having a rich food culture, but the focus on price, efficiency, and practicality has undermined how the Dutch both consume and produce their food”, says Pinar Coskun of Erasmus University of Rotterdam, also echoed by Leo Marcelis, Professor of horticulture at Wageningen University, according to Yes Magazine.

In September 2016, National Geographic sung the praises of Dutch agriculture, with no discussion at all on taste, purely on output, saying that “more than half the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture.” Sure, if it’s just about feeding people like in a sci-fi series, sure. But if you want some sort of quality, that’s the not the point. To be fair, that’s possibly the case in many countries around the world.

There was also the onion-shallot war between the Netherlands and France. The Netherlands produce cheap shallots by replanting shallot bulbs and harvesting mechanically, while the French plant seeds and harvest manually. The Dutch shallots are cheaper, that’s for sure.

(Link: yesmagazine.org, Photo by FotoosVanRobin, some rights reserved)

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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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August 24, 2014

Extending the self into the corporate cloud

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 9:19 pm

interferenceI went to Interference last weekend, a hacker convention run by anarchists in a former squat called Binnenpret. Most Dutch people know the part of the complex called OCCII, a music venue on Amstelveenseweg.

The talks were somewhat similar to what I have encountered at other hacker conventions in the past. If there was a difference, it was that in the Q&As audience members were criticizing language that could be used as a weapon, as a means to disempower outgroups.

Also, the hosts did not appear to serve coffee.

Cory Shores had a talk about post-humanism and spoke about the blind man’s cane. This is apparently an issue of some contention in philosophy: is the cane part of the man, of the self? A blind man ‘sees’ with the tip of the cane after all, his hand being no more than a relay.

A similar extension of the self was identified by Paulan Korenhof and Janneke Belt who pointed out technological differences in the way people remember things, such as remembering a shopping list versus writing one down. They did not further explore the issue of the self, but instead looked at where our shopping lists (and therefore maybe parts of ourselves) end up: in the cloud, specifically in the indexes of search engines owned by international companies.

Earlier this week I mocked visitors of the Lowlands festival in a posting who gave away their privacy for RFID trinkets, but perhaps my commentary wasn’t entirely fair. The Lowlands RFID wristbands do have some value to the user as they extend the self, even if the company behind them is solidly grounded in the philosophy of “if we give you something for free, you are in fact the product”.

See also: the Interference reader.

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May 28, 2007

Tulipmania myth debunked

Filed under: General,History by Branko Collin @ 8:01 pm

For the casual observer looking at the Netherlands, the Tulipmania story has it all: tulips, the Golden Age, the start of modern capitalism, windmills, clogs… OK, so everything but the last two. For the puritans among you, this tale has even got a moral. Here’s a quick recap of how the story goes:

In the 17th century, the Dutch were at the top of their wealth, both financially and culturally. The Dutch trading ships controlled the seas, and brought the treasures of foreign countries to these shores. This wealth ignited the local Renaissance, giving artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer, and scientists like Van Leeuwenhoek and Grotius a chance to plie their trade. A story from that time goes that the first economic bubble was also created by the Dutch. Among the many things they imported were tulip bulbs, which started to fetch higher and higher prices. At one point, a box of bulbs would cost as much as a house. But in the spring of 1637 the bubble was burst; Dutch pride was punished, and thousands of traders went bankrupt.

At least, that’s the popular version of the story. According to a recent book written by Anne Goldgar, most of what we know about the bubble stems from propaganda from the period. An interesting review from the Financial Times tells more:

Some contemporary pamphleteers attacked the trade, baffled by what one Englishman called the ”incredible prices for tulip rootes”, and disquieted by the godless materialism of it all. […] Most tulip tales we know, scolds Goldgar, ”are based on one or two contemporary pieces of propaganda and a prodigious amount of plagiarism”.

In fact, during her research Goldgar could not find the name of a single person who had been bankrupted by the burst of the bulb bubble.

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