Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Snow On Mars

(from Flickr's Fooishbar. Deep fried Mars bars with powdered 'snow' sugar on top).

I repeat...how many damn times will they report that there is water on Mars?

(from geenstijl)

I mean, really.


Thursday, September 25, 2008


Dear Mr Solomon Okoro:

You have been recommended by an associate who assured me in confidence of your ability and reliability to proscecute a highly confidential financial transaction on behalf of my partners.

I am a high-ranking official in Treasury Department (DPOTT), Republic of America. We hold a sizeable sum in US Federal Bank awaiting remittance into a foreign bank of our choice.

However, by virtue of our position as civil servants, we cannot receive this money in our names.

I have been delegated as a matter of trust by my colleagues to look for an overseas partner to whose account we would transfer the sum of $700,000,000,000 (SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS).

We have agreed to share the money
-20 percent with the account holder (YOU)
-80 percent for us (THE OFFICIALS).

Please reply so that I can respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully

Rev,Mr. HENRY Paulson

1125 15. TH. Street, NW. Washington, DC

(the american roadside)

No, I didn't think of this first...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dutch Blog "War" - GeenStijl vs GeenCommentaar vs NOS


The NOS reported today that a "war" has broken out between GeenStijl and GeenCommentaar.

That's the Netherlands' BBC equivalent, reporting on the blogs NoStyle and NoComment.

GeenStijl is the most popular Dutch blog, and it got that way by being smart and well, tasteless. Love 'em or hate 'em (I love 'em), they can't be ignored.

GeenCommentaar is a lesser known site designed as a response to GeenStijl (which is populist and perceived as right-leaning).

Recently GeenCommentaar put up a fake petition, guessing (correctly) that GeenStijl would invite its readers to deface it. But GeenCommentaar simply gathered the IP addresses of users coming in on the GeenStijl link to create a database of the site's readers.

Then they began offering the database as a "GeenStijl Checker" so that other leftist websites could use it as a filter to prevent GeenStijl readers from commenting again in the future.

So in retaliation, GeenStijl launched a denial-of-service attack on the site where the database was housed. Which is technically illegal under Dutch law.


(by chance I happened to see this interview taking place near Artis this morning _ I wondered what it was all about; if I had known I would have stopped to take my own photo and ask a few questions).

The NOS played an interesting role in all this. They've been wrong-footed by GeenStijl frequently in the past, but this time it seems to me they did a nice job of ruffling the feathers of the infant terrible, without getting their own hands dirty.

GeenStijl put out a lengthy response to the NOS piece, photoshopping a frame grab from the program and crying "boo hoo" (one of their favorite phrases for mocking complainers) about the database, claiming it violates privacy laws. Doubtful, dudes.

I forget who it was who first said this, but in U.S. politics and in life, once you have to start explaining yourself, you've already lost.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wouter's Wise Words

Wouter is the Dutch finance minister.

He says

I can't imagine that the American financial system will ever again be as it has been. Everyone who now still dares to assert that the financial sector is capable of regulating itself, and shuts his eyes to the fact that that has led in practice to free rein for greed, irresponsible risks and disproportionate, perverse bonus systems, won't be taken seriously anymore. This kind of Capitalism is gone. I think for good.

As a side note, I see the Dutch media all misquoted him slightly. Interesting the things you find out when you use a recording device.

Actual quote:

Ik kan mij niet voorstellen dat de Amerikaans financieele systeem ooit nog wordt zoals het geweest is. Iedereen die nu nog durft te beweren dat de financieele sector in staat is zichzelf te reguleren en de ogen sluit voor het feit dat dat in het praktijk geleid heeft tot eigelijk vrije baan voor hebzucht, onverantwoord risico's en buitenproportioneele, peverse bonussystemen, zal niet meer serious genomen worden. Deze vorm van kapitalism is voorbij. Ik denk voorgoed.


In the Dutch media (ANP, repeated by NOS and RTL):

"De hele crisis betekent de definitieve teloorgang van een systeem dat is gebaseerd op hebzucht, onverantwoorde risico's en perverse beloningen", zei de bewindsman vrijdag na afloop van de ministerraad.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kanker Luiers - Lost in Translation

Once again, big trouble in little Hemonystraat.

Someone has vandalized the Taco Mundo with the following message:

"Brommer vrij Hemonyplein kanker luiers ! "

Which presents translation problems.

The folks over at GeenStijl are having a field day with it.

Actually, the GeenStijl/Dumpert headline, "Look An Angry Small Business Owner," kind of misunderstands the situation.

It's not the store owner who's mad (other than than his store got vandalized).

Let me explain. But first of all, let me say I deny any involvement.

I think the basic idea has to be, this is an expression of anger by a local about the Taco Mundo employees riding their scooters too fast over Hemony square, where lots of kids play. Including mine.

So the first part is "(keep) Hemony square scooter free" or "Hemony square (should be) scooter-free."

Kanker luiers = "cancer-diapers," presumably a play on the common Dutch insult kankerlijer or "cancer-sufferer."

Yep, that's really a normal insult here. There's a whole range of sickness and disease insults.

But "cancer diapers" instead of "cancer sufferer." The pronunciation is close. Assuming it's not a mistake (which can't be ruled out), what are we to think?

As if the message was scrawled by a gang of tough toddlers who call themselves the cancer diapers?

Or as if the author wishes to portray Taco Mundo couriers as so young they are still wearing diapers, which are cancerous?

The mind boggles.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Subprime Subway

(the damage doesn't look that dramatic from across the street).

A bit of a cockup this week by the the genius Dutch engineers building the Amsterdam subway.

Peter Doeswijk, a neighbor, told NOS news he had no faith left in the city.
"They said 'we've got everything under control, we've investigated everything,'" he said. "All kinds of experts came by to try to reassure us. Then they go back to work for two days and it happens again."

I wish they would just hurry up and finish the damn thing.

The 'Vijzelcircuit'' (sorry about that spelling) has been a wreck for like, six years now.

Beautiful day though.

What I find less-than-comforting is that these are the same engineers who are telling us, no problem, the dikes are going to hold...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Amsterdam fiber optics co to offer 1 gigabit/second connection

This is not a record.

Glasvezelnet Amsterdam is going to be offering a commercial fiber optic internet service at 1 gigabit per second by 2010, the company said at a demonstration Wednesday.

I would have liked to do a story about this for AP, but it doesn't quite rise to the level of news: there are already similar services available in Sweden and Hong Kong.

Still, that makes my 20 mbps/s connection with VersaTel look like a steamy pile.

Japan has roughly 14 million fiber users (compared with 1.2 million Verizon subs in the U.S.). But they are not getting anything near 1 gig _ in Japan, they're getting 50-100 mbps, not that much better than the best xDSL++

I also got some good data on the current situation in the Netherlands: Glasvezelnet has around 43,000 houses passed, but very few connections. They expect to have 22K or so clients by the end of 2010.

Including KPN and many other builders, there will be 150K-200K subs in the Netherlands by year-end.

My apologies for the abrupt slowdown in posts. Unfortunately, it's not likely to be a temporary thing. The pressures of fatherhood and other life goals are cutting into my blogging time, probably forever.

Het is niet anders...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

August Amsterdam

My fascination with Dutch weather, and Amsterdam's beauty in all seasons, continues. According to the KNMI, or Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute:

"August was pretty disappointing in terms of summery warmth and sunshine. Pretty much the whole month was determined by depressions. The weather pattern attached to that was very variable, with a lot of days of rain."

How many days, you ask?

"In many places, some rain fell on 27 of the 31 days."

Ah, but the last two days of the month were both sunny...