November 30, 2018

Dutch massively encroach on municipal ground

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 4:40 pm

According to research conducted and recently published by the University of Groningen, some 100,000 Dutch folks are guilty of ‘stealing’ (‘encroaching on’) municipal ground when they build extensions to their gardens, driveways and houses.

The research looked at five municipalities: four of them had folks doing some serious encroachment, on average 20 to 40 square metres, with a few whoppers of more than 400 square metres.

When the city comes asking for its ground back, it often leads to court cases and claims that there’s a statute of limitations, with people getting away with the ‘theft’. The idea is to modify the law, so that cities can ask for their land back at any time, which I imagine would deter people from stealing it in the first place. In the case of an entire house partially built on municipal ground, that’s going to be difficult to rectify.


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November 24, 2018

Instagram cat gets own student ID in Groningen

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 5:47 pm

Professor doctor Doerak (pronounced ‘Durak’, from Russian Дурак) is his name and he is well-known character at the University of Groningen, where he frequents law school classes.

That is why this cat of Instagram received his own student ID card a few weeks ago. His owners, who live next to one of the university buildings in the city centre, requested their cat got a student card. The administration replied: “We are working on it. An invitation to pick it up will follow.”

Jorien Bakker, spokesperson of the university, told local university magazine UKrant: “We liked the idea. Doerak is a sweet cat. He is a good student and we appreciate how much he means to students and staff.”

(Illustration: screenshot of Durak’s Instagram account)

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December 12, 2016

Going to the edge of space with Dutch instruments

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:18 pm


In a few days, weather permitting, NASA’s stratospheric balloon STO2 will be launched from Antarctica to the edge of space to measure cosmic far infrared radiation in order to find out more about how stars and planets come to be.

The STO2 design has been headed by the University of Arizona, with vital contributions from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research (Utrecht and Groningen) and Delft University of Technology.

One of the tools is a receiver at 4.7 terahertz, one of the three frequencies that help find the presence of elements in space, including electrically neutral atomic oxygen. The localisation of the latter can be achieved using a 4.7 terahertz receiver, the first time such a tool will be brought to the edge of space for an unrestricted view, for two weeks.

As well, The teams of Alexander Tielens (Leiden University) and Floris van der Tak (SRON/University of Groningen) will help analyse the observations.


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February 26, 2016

Groningen University wins bullshit bingo slogan award

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:31 am


Last November we told you about the Dunglish/bullshit bingo fest that made up Dutch university slogans, and we even had a favourite horse in the running.

“One sticks out above the rest in our view, it’s the RUG with ‘Born Leaders Reach For Infinity’ that has the flow of an acronym, but the appeal of an overflowing bin bag with rotten food begging to be taken out.”

We proudly picked a winner. I even did a search using the word ‘infinity’ to find our original posting.

The second place goes to the University of Amsterdam with ‘We are U’, ‘U’ here is the Dutch word for ‘you’ and a nod to the word university, which is oddly quite North American. Third place was taken up by Leiden University and their ‘Excel in Freedom’ albeit actually in their own language ‘Excelleren in vrijheid’, which is airy, like the clouds in the sky.

These awards are part of a debate about university financing because someone paid someone good money to come up with these ridiculous slogans while universities waste money badly mimicking businesses rather than act like proper universities.


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February 26, 2015

20,000 people sign up for free Dutch courses

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 9:37 am

The Language Centre of the University of Groningen has received 20,000 responses from people all around the world wanting to take their free, online Dutch courses. The amount of people signed up was so unexpected, the university cracked open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate its success. The Dutch course was offered on where millions of people browse through free courses offered by all kinds of universities.

According to the Telegraaf, people want to learn Dutch to find a job, because they have a Dutch partner or just out of curiosity. Asylum seekers and potential immigrants could also try to learn Dutch this way although they would need regular access to a computer with Internet, which for many of them is not a given. Another issue is that the course explanations are in English, so someone needs to be able to understand English first before they can go Dutch.


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June 13, 2014

Girls don’t do enough sports, too often aimed at boys

Filed under: Health,Sports by Orangemaster @ 7:30 am


Sport experts from the University Medical Center Groningen and the University of Groningen have concluded that girls between the ages of 13 and 19 don’t do enough sports at school. The problem is that the emphasis is on sports that require balls (football, basketball and volleyball, etc.) and not on what girls actually would like to be doing like dancing, zumba or horseback riding (not all that posh here). Schools seem to be pushing competitive group sports and the girls seem to want individual sports, at least in this article.

What do some experts suggest? Separating the boys and the girls for gym class, which goes against many principles and proper social integration.

Here’s a crazy idea: what about offering something girls would actually like and making the boys follow suit for a change? Is pushing an outdated agenda that makes girls unhappy but keeps boys busy really a proper option?

If I had my way, I’d get all the girls and the boys who want to join on roller skates because it’s super fun and trendy. Or more skip rope, if that is not already being done because boys can pretend they are training to be boxers and girls can show off and even play in groups like at recess.

More co-ed suggestions? Boxing, kick boxing, aerobics, yoga, capoeira, ice skating, you name it.

But for the love of future generations experts have to stop acting like what boys do and want is normal and what girls want is some sort of problem to be solved. I won’t even get into the boys who would rather do something else for a change, either.


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April 21, 2013

Groningen researchers want to exterminate the housefly

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 11:03 pm

I have here before me what may be one of the dumbest press releases of the year from the University of Groningen.

A team of evolutionary biologists led by Leo Beukeboom is “well on the way to pinpointing [the gene that determines the male gender] in houseflies.”

According to the press release, the biologists are considering to use this knowledge for “developing ecofriendly methods of controlling this pestilential insect. The partner university in Göttingen, Germany has already bred sterile male specimens of the harmful Mediterranean fruit fly. Breeding sterile male houseflies may constitute an effective method for controlling these pathogenic insects in the future.”

Or, as the writer of the press release puts it in big, bold type, “evolutionary genetic research makes fly swatters superfluous”.

Maybe I don’t understand what they are saying and maybe they’re not saying it right, but it seems to me that disrupting an ecosystem is the exact opposite of ‘ecofriendly’. A fly swatter kills just the flies you can reach, and after half an hour of chasing flies through the house you might just consider doing a better cleaning job next time, but spraying pesticides or even eradicating an entire species (it is not clear to me what exactly the University of Groningen wants) seems to be a lot more invasive.

Do any of you have an explanation?

(Photo by Bbski, some rights reserved)


November 12, 2012

Life line for Frisian studies

Filed under: Science by Branko Collin @ 8:15 am

During one of his last days in office former Education Minister Halbe Zijlstra has saved the bachelor programme Minorities and Multilingualism: Into the Frisian Laboratory at the University of Groningen (RUG).

The minister granted the program a subsidy of 120,000 euro per year, the provincial government reported last Tuesday. The RUG will sponsor the programme for the same amount.

In 2010 only one person studied Frisian at the RUG.

Frisian is one of the two official languages of the province of Friesland, the other being Dutch.

Halbe Zijlstra was born in Friesland in 1969, in the town of Oosterwolde.

(Photo by Rupert Ganzer, some rights reserved)

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June 24, 2011

University of Groningen gaining popularity with Brits

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 2:21 pm

While the slow Dutch students run off to Flanders to finish their studies, the British students in question don’t necessary plan to study up north in Groningen, but their application numbers have gone from 38 to about 100. Big whoop? Not if you can study at a good university for 2,000 euro instead of the 10,000 (9,000 pounds) they will soon have to pay in England. According to the BBC, tuition fees in England will go up from 6,000 to 9,000 pounds as of 2012.

Back in 2010 Maastricht University was busy cashing in on Brits who failed their A-level exams (British entry exams for higher education) by offering degrees in English in eight subjects, with the cost of tuition about half that charged by British universities. The idea behind Maastricht University’s move was to tap into the huge mismatch between demand and supply in the UK in general, amounting to some 150,000-200,000 students missing out on a place.


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