December 25, 2010

Winter hunting ban; porn and clown voices; secretary most wanted job; and more

Filed under: Animals,Automobiles,General,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 3:20 pm

* Several provinces have instated hunting bans for a variety of animals because of the cold weather. Zeeland, Drenthe, Noord Holland and Limburg have ordered a general hunting ban, while others have limited their bans to a selection of animals. The Party for the Animals (PvdD) has called for a nationwide ban, Trouw reports.

* Car navigation software voiced by porn actress Kim Holland was the most popular of the stable in 2010, Blik op Persbericht reports. Her voice was also the most popular in 2009. The winner of 2008, Clown Bassie, came second this year. Unrelated: recently Holland’s demand that Internet provider Ziggo release the personal data of a customer suspected of infringing her copyrights was rejected on appeal.

* The most wanted job title on in 2010 was secretary, just like last year. Visitors searched 500,000 times for the title. Manager and controller were other popular job titles, Blik op Nieuws writes.

* Almost 1 billion worth of guilder coins and bills are still hiding underneath mattresses and in other places, Z24 reports. Half of that money is in coins, and can no longer be exchanged for euro. Paper money can be exchanged at the central bank (DNB) until 2031. The amount of unclaimed banknotes seems to be the same as last year’s.

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January 31, 2010

25 years of Tex-Mex in the province: Rowwen Hèze

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 2:47 pm

For a long time the band Normaal symbolised music from the sticks, the ZZ Top of the Achterhoek (literally: back corner) sang in their local dialect about beer, women, and any combination of the two. Then in 1985, the Limburg band Rowwen Hèze was founded, and suddenly people were speaking of a trend.

Like Normaal, Rowwen Hèze makes good party music, based oddly enough on the continental immigrant music of the United States: Tex-Mex, polka, fanfare, Irish folk. They take standards (or songs that sound like they ought to be) and add silly local texts to them: Enselma becomes Bestel Mar (order up), and Ay Te Dejo En San becomes Kroenenberg (a place name). Of course, when they sing Los Lobos’ and Flaco Jimenez’ songs, they invite these guys onto stage too.

The other side of Rowwen Hèze (named after a local tramp) is introspective:

Saint Anthony was said to know
— dear friend, he wrote, it is true —
it can be better to lose something beautiful
than to never having had it before


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May 30, 2009

Supply the poor government with some much needed transparency

Filed under: General,Online by Branko Collin @ 7:15 pm

Brenno de Winter needs your money to force the government to become transparent. On June 11, he will organize a benefit in Amsterdam of which the proceeds will go to this war chest.

During his recent attempts to figure out how many local governments are using so-called Free and Open Software, several of these governments have been actively conspiring to thwart De Winter’s efforts. They ‘forgot’ to send some of the required documents, billed him for their time, and 22 municipalities and three provinces outright refused him the documents they are obliged to send, forcing him to start a separate law suit against each one of them.

De Winter expects costs to run up to EUR 7,000, an amount he is unable to cough up himself. If you can spare some cash, you can send some his way to bank account 4241287 c/o Stichting Vrijschrift in Workum. You can also visit the benefit event at the Pick-up Club at the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, which starts at 5:30 pm on Thursday, June 11, and which features an introduction to WOBing by De Winter, and a debate about transparency between journalists, hackers and civil servants.

I am an adviser to the Stichting Vrijschrift (Scriptum Libre in English) and can tell you they are legit. Their only weakness is their unwillingness to toot their own horn, so let me list some of their feats:

  • Instrumental in defeating software patents in the EU
  • Acquired financing for GPS devices for the Dutch chapter of Open Street Map
  • Working to convince the government of the benefits of open educational materials, such as text books that any teacher can edit and improve.

(More info at Iusmentis (Dutch). About the picture, is it normal that spray bottles like this one have an extra grip for a sixth finger?)

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