July 24, 2018

Dutchman keeps breaking Rubik’s Cube world record

Filed under: Dutch first,General by Orangemaster @ 12:06 pm

Rubik's cube-fake

Mats Valk from Amstelveen (he probably lives and studies in Amsterdam), who broke the Rubik’s cube record in 2016 with 4.74 seconds, has just broken it again at the 2018 World Championships in Madrid with an average in the final of 7.24 seconds. There are many different competitions, including one contestants seem to do with their feet.

When he was 11 years old, his [female] teacher gave him a Rubik’s cube to solve and the rest is history. Valk’s best tip is ‘be patient’. Sometimes he trains a few hours a days, sometimes he doesn’t train at all. However, he always trains

(Link: parool.nl)

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May 5, 2015

Spanish museums feuding over Bosch painting

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 7:32 am

Two Spanish museums, both located in Madrid, the Prado Museum and the newly built Museum of Royal Collections, are having a ‘Mexican standoff’ that involves fighting over four paintings, including the world-famous tryptich ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Dutch medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch. The new museum is scheduled to open in 2016 and has been told by many experts that it won’t attract the number of visitors expected with the pieces it currently has in its possession.

The Spanish royal family have owned the Bosch painting since 1593 and had it restored in 1933 then stored at the Prado in 1936. The painting has been on loan for a long time, but now that the Museum of Royal Collections wants to have it, the Prado won’t budge. The chairman of the Prado’s board said that if the country’s public heritage agency who owns the painting wanted to have it for its new museum, they’d have to “wait until hell freezes over”. Other museums around Spain are on alert because some of their paintings could be next.

(Links: www.nytimes.com, www.omroepbrabant.nl, Illustration: fragment of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Conjurer)

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April 15, 2012

How Dutch beer created Belgium

Filed under: Food & Drink,History by Branko Collin @ 2:07 pm

Belgian beers are widely recognised as some of the best in the world, but ironically it was Dutch beer that had a hand in creating the country of Belgium.

The latter at least is something that two Belgian economists argue in their paper War, taxes and border: how beer created Belgium (PDF).

Between 1568 and 1609 the Dutch fought a war of attrition against the Spanish in an ultimately successful attempt to get out from under the rule of the house of Habsburg. At the end, the Seventeen Provinces split into a Northern part (largely coinciding with current-day Netherlands) and a Spanish controlled Southern part (Belgium).

Koen Deconinck and Johan Swinnen from the Economics faculty of the University of Leuven in Belgium argue that the high costs of the war were covered on the Dutch side by high taxes on beer. Small cities would have dozens of brewers, and the beer they sold would often account for as much as half of the municipal tax receipts, large chunks of which would go straight to the war effort.

The success of the beer excise was in part due to a highly efficient system of tax enforcement (Unger 2001; 2004). During the sixteenth century, most cities in the Netherlands developed a similar system to minimize the possibility of fraud and tax evasion based on a strict separation of beer production, beer transportation and beer selling. In practically every town, only officially licensed and sworn beer porters were allowed to transport beer. No barrel of beer could leave the brewery unless there was a receipt to prove that all necessary excises had been paid. Porters were forbidden from delivering beer unless there was a receipt, and it was their task to hand over the receipt to the buyer. Anyone who sold beer (e.g. in a tavern) needed receipts to prove that all taxes had been paid. […]

Governments were also concerned about other possibilities for tax evasion. Ship builders, for instance, could traditionally buy beer tax free. To avoid evasion, the town of Amsterdam decreed that they would have to pay the taxes first, and then ask a rebate afterwards. Another case concerns home brewing, which was in principle subject to taxation, although this was difficult to enforce in practice. In the 1580s the government of Holland, following an earlier move by the town of Amsterdam, simply outlawed home brewing in the entire province.

Beer was the go-to drink in those days. Wine was expensive, coffee and tea non-existant, water polluted and milk perishable.

(Via: Mick Hartley)

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June 1, 2010

Football players wanted for September polder cup

Filed under: Art,Nature,Sports by Branko Collin @ 8:35 am

Spanish artist Maider López is organising a football tournament on September 3 and is looking for both participants and an audience.

The tournament called Polder Cup will take place on the pastures of Ottoland in South Holland, halfway between Utrecht and Rotterdam. Contestants will be given food, drink and swag all for coming out to the middle of nowhere (using the charter bus of the project) and having their picture taken.

What’s the catch? Is there a catch? There is always a catch! As you can see in the photo, the pitches will be drawn across drainage ditches, and the players are expected to come up with their own rules and methods for dealing with these hazards. If you want to know beforehand how to fish a ball from a brook, check out Hans van der Meer’s photo book on Dutch football pitches. As for crossing ditches, see here.

(Link: Bright. Photo: poldercup.nl.)

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October 19, 2008

Second Dutch Project Gutenberg sampler

Filed under: Art,Literature by Branko Collin @ 8:36 am

I decided to make another Nederlandse Project Gutenberg Reader, containing the Dutch books that were released in the past month at the internet library. Once again you can find it at Brewster Kahle’s excellent Internet Archive.

Since the past month was a bit quiet with regards to new releases, I decided to add a couple golden oldies. The new releases were Jacob Cats’ Spaens Heydinnie and Shakespeare’s Twee edellieden van Verona. Cats was a moralistic writer from the Dutch Golden Age. Spaens Heydinnie (Spaans heidinnetje, Spanish gypsy) is a reworking of Cervantes’ La Gitanilla, in which an infant girl of noble birth is kidnapped and raised by gypsies. The third release last month was a lecture held in 1840 for the Frisian Association, which I find wholly uninteresting, but I am not going to be all judgmental about your kinks.

I added two extracts from older works. The first is a travel account of the Netherlands, Door Holland met pen en camera, by the French journalist and photographer Lud. Georges Hamön. Let me translate a bit for you:

One has to keep in mind though that Holland is a desperately flat and monotonous region, that it does not spark any fierce emotion, nor does it lead to excited enthusiasm or even quiet inner delight. Holland is the land of serenity, where one submerges in the calmest comfort.

The opposite of calm comfort is Herman Heijermans’ Diamantstad (Diamond City), a novel about and an indictment of the poor living conditions of the inhabitants of the Jewish quarter in Amsterdam around the turn of the century. Earlier I sort of translated the fragment I quote in the reader over here.

Photo of Father Kick in quiet contemplation by Lud. Georges Hamön. See also the first Dutch Project Gutenberg Reader.

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