September 2, 2013

Prosecutor wants carless woman imprisoned for not paying car insurance; judge protests

Filed under: Automobiles,General by Branko Collin @ 4:49 pm

An unnamed Dutch woman was threatened with imprisonment for failing to insure her non-existent car in March of this year.

She was saved from that fate by a sympathetic judge in Noord Brabant who felt that the way the justice department hid behind its automated processes lacked care. The justice department should have noticed that something was amiss when they tried to repossess the uninsured and, most importantly, non-existent car. After all, why would a person own license plates but not a car?

Instead of stepping in and finding out what was going on, the justice department let its automated systems do the thinking and had the system pile up fine after fine until the computer said that now might be the time for imprisonment.

It is unclear if the accused will be taken out of the system or if the justice department will try and jail her again. The justice department seems to think that if the computer says so, you’re guilty, regardless of what a buttinsky judge thinks.

The blogosphere seems to believe this mess is the result of failing automation. I side with judge Wim Verjans who feels the humans hiding behind the computers are ultimately responsible.

Keeping the remainder of a punishment after the original punishment fell away because there were no grounds for punishment is a classical Dutch meme. The saying ‘Barbertje moet hangen’ (Babs must hang) stems from this principal. It was novelist Multatuli who wrote the story that started the meme—his Max Havelaar took a stand against the Dutch colonial system in 1860, but the underlying bureaucracy that pushes people around like they are nothing lives on. The unjust law with which alleged traffic offenders are pushed into this bureaucratic mess is called the Wet Mulder and was only introduced in 1989.

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October 18, 2009

Van Gogh’s letters and Max Havelaar in English

Filed under: Art,History,Literature by Branko Collin @ 11:34 am

English translations of Vincent van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo have been released in a 6 volume boxed set by the Van Gogh Museum in a 15-year-long cooperation with the Huygens Instituut. The original letters in French and Dutch have also been reproduced.

The entire set contains all the pictures referenced in the letters, that is, all 4,300 of them, The Guardian reports.

If you don’t feel like shelling out the 325 UKP that the set is undoubtedly worth, you can also read the letters and their translations at The Huygens Instituut is part of the Dutch academy for sciences.

Story via (Dutch), who in a totally unrelated story also points out that another Dutch giant of the 19th century, writer Multatuli, published his masterpiece Max Havelaar 150 years ago last Tuesday. The Havelaar has been in translation for a long time, and a public domain English version can be found at Google Books.

If you do not like PDF or EPUB, you might be able to extract the HTML version from the EPUB file (which is just a ZIP archive under a different name).


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