Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.

Some Dutch links

Some Dutch links...

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-02-27 23:19:15   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: linkstuffs, Nederland


Hip-hop music has been around for several decades now. Although it originated in the US, there are hip-hop bands in just about every country in the world today, often rapping in their native language rather than English. The Netherlands are no exception; nederhop records have topped the charts, and new crews are emerging everywhere, even rapping in fairly obscure dialects.

It wasn't always like this, though. In countries like Germany and France, people started rapping in their own language fairly early. While Die Fantastischen Vier, MC Solaar and IAM had success with hip-hop in German and French, there was a more snobistic attitude in the Netherlands. Rap music had to be in English and nothing else.

So when a band from Amsterdam, the Osdorp Posse, started creating hip-hop in the Dutch language (and came up with the word "nederhop"), they were often met with ridicule. Their first albums were well received in the "underground", but didn't have mainstream pop appeal. In spite of this, they became more and more popular on festivals, and caused a number of other underground rappers to start using the Dutch language rather than English.

Because of this, Dutch hip-hop became more well-known, and eventually other rappers and producers saw the commercial possibilities, even though they had been rejecting the concept for years. A rapper called Extince can be credited with the first nederhop chart success, much to the dismay of the Osdorp Posse, calling him "the Dutch Vanilla Ice" (and a lot of other things ;-) because he switched to Dutch rap purely for commercial reasons.

The first chart success spawned a cascade of other artists trying their hand at rapping in the Dutch language. Slowly, this kind of music gained acceptance. What was once a curiosity, eventually became big business. (Well, "big"... we're talking the Netherlands... but you get the idea. emoticon:smile)

These days, there are lots of hip-hop bands rapping in Dutch. Some names: Brainpower, Opgezwolle, Haagse Mark, White Wolf, Ouderkerk Kaffers, De Uitverkorenen, Z-Bomb Unit, Spookrijders, Yukkie B, ABN (Belgian), Onderhonden... Heck, there are even crews that rap in the dialects of Limburg (which sounds a bit silly, IMHO :-), like the OZL-Crew and the Pikkatrillaz. Even if you don't understand Dutch, they might be worth listening to.

What must be grating to the OP is that the current "hip-hop scene" gives them little respect. Nederhop is mainstream now, there are lots of bands trying to make a buck, reviewers are making money writing about it. The OP almost single-handedly built this scene; without them, all these groups most likely would not exist. Yet some artists, reviewers and listeners claim that they don't make "real hip-hop" (whatever that means), and don't consider them part of the "scene". Some rappers even claim that *they* were the first to rap in Dutch, rather than the OP. The question remains why we never heard of those rappers before, so this last one is pretty much a non-issue.

Some of the sites above have legal downloads. Start here, for example. Or here...

On a side note: the Osdorp Posse's label, Ramp Records, has some interesting ways to battle diminishing CD sales. For example, they lowered their CD prices by ~50%. (Their CDs are now €9-10; usual prices are around €20.) Also, they have special offers, like a CD that can only be obtained with a ticket for one of their concerts.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-02-07 20:16:30   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: music, Nederland

Back (3)

Being back in the Netherlands was quite a culture shock. All houses close together. Narrow little roads with lots of traffic. Weird traffic rules, and lots of constructs to pester car owners. Stores close at night and on Sundays (and holidays). ...All very different from my current situation in the US.

I'm not saying all these things are bad -- a 24-hour economy is nice for consumers, for example (bored at 3 AM? go to Wal-Mart or Denny's) but not so nice for people who are forced to work nightshifts at minimum wages. The obnoxious traffic rules protect pedestrians and people riding bikes. And so on. The point is, that the US (or at least this part of it) is a *very* different society from the Netherlands, and it comes with different rules, and different ideas about what is acceptable.

I really missed Dutch food. But as my luck would have it, I got sick, and lost my appetite, causing me to eat tiny bits of things and be full. Maybe next time I can sample more food and have a frikandel, or a kroket, gehaktbal and so on. Soda has a different taste too, probably because over there it isn't loaded with potassium and sodium benzoate. And chocolate, and drop, and borrelnoten... emoticon:kwijl

The trip itself was terrible. A 2 hour drive to Orlando, wait for several hours at the airport, 7h40 hour flight (and 9h45 back), 2.5 hour car drive from Schiphol... and then a nice jet lag. For some strange reason, security wasn't very strict when going from Orlando to Amsterdam, but it was when coming back. (To the point of being ridiculous... what's the point of checking your carry-on luggage three separate times? And why do you have to go through a metal detector when you come *out* of the plane in Orlando?)

The difference in temperature was, uh, interesting too... in the Netherlands it was freezing, sometimes snowing... but when we got back in Orlando, it was around 80°F. Hmm, maybe I won't need that sweater and thick coat anytime soon...

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-01-06 18:11:10   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: general, Nederland

Back (2)

Well.... I'm back in the US again. My visit to the Netherlands would have been good, had I been able to enjoy it. And now we're back in this stupid place again. I have a nice list of resolutions, which will be very hard to get done, since nothing ever changes here. I would like a decent job, and more control over my life, including money and what I can and cannot do. Hey, one can always dream.

If at all possible, I want to write a book this year. I better finish my Py article first, though. :-)

More later, when I'm in a better mood, hopefully.

Posted by Hans "alleen als je geld hebt is de vrijheid niet duur" Nowak on 2004-01-06 08:46:36   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: general, Nederland

Prettige kerstdagen en gelukkig nieuwjaar

Back in January.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-19 11:42:50   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: general, Nederland

Santa's twin

This article suggests that Santa Claus can be traced back to St. Nicholas of Flüe from Switzerland. Hmm. That doesn't seem right. I have also heard that Santa is really the same as the Dutch Sinterklaas, brought to the New World by Dutch settlers. Sinterklaas was not Swiss; rather, he was the Bishop of Mira, a city in Turkey. Or so I've been told.

Of course, there are arguments against Sinterklaas == Santa Claus as well... they wear different clothes, have different helpers, different means of transportation, and a different nameday. Not so alike at all, after a more careful examination.

This page has more about it.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-18 11:33:28   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: general, Nederland

Fun with the Dutch language

(via Ned Batchelder) Joho the Blog: The Dream Comes True. This post talks about "English" words with 4 consecutive vowels. (I say "English" because apparently it has to borrow heavily from other languages: sequoia, hawaiian, etc.)

Although Dutch and English are closely related, the way they create new words is very different. In English, you often just put them one after another: "computer" and "screen" make "computer screen". Dutch, on the other hand, glues words together: "auto" + "verkoper" => "autoverkoper" (car salesman). In that respect, it is more like German.

One peculiarity is that there really is no limit to the length of the words you can make this way. A far-fetched, but not unrealistic example would be:

  • arbeid (work)
  • ongeschikt (unsuitable)
  • ongeschiktheid ("unsuitability", is that a word anyway?)
  • so, the lack of ability to work would be arbeidsongeschiktheid
  • in the Netherlands, it is (or was) common to get a compensation if you are unable to work due to accident or illness. Such a compensation is called an uitkering. So, you would get an arbeidsongeschiktheidsuitkering.
  • an official organization is also called an instantie. So, the organization that hands out the aforementioned compensation would be an arbeidsongeschiktheidsuitkeringsinstantie.

Nobody actually uses that word in real life, but it *is* real, and so is the organization that it describes. I used to work for one...

Also note that Dutch often glues words together with an -s- in the middle. That's why it's uitkeringsinstantie, rather than uitkeringinstantie. Other combinations do not grow this -s-. There are virtually no rules for this, which adds to the language being difficult to learn. (To foreigners, *and* to the Dutch themselves...)

As for strings of consecutive vowels, Dutch has a few nice words, like papegaaieëieren (parrot eggs) and koeieuier (a cow's udder). However, with the introduction of the Nieuwe Spelling in 1995, it seems that these aren't valid anymore. (Yes, one of the favorite pastimes of the Dutch is to change the spelling around every N years, to make things extra confusing.)

The Nieuwe Spelling didn't affect the long words with consecutive consonants, though: the infamous angstschreeuw (cry of fear) is still valid, and so is slechtstschrijvend (worst-writing? writing the worst?).

But if you think this is bad, there are languages (like Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian) that have words with no vowels at all. Dutch is really no match for them... ^_^

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-11-20 10:28:04   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland

No credit for the wicked

The stupidity of some laws and regulations never cease to amaze me. Especially here in the US, or maybe it's just Florida, people seem eager to reward stupid or anti-social behavior. My latest encounter was with this phenomenon called "credit".

It sounds reasonable at first. You buy something, pay it off in terms, and if everything goes well you get "good credit". If you fail to pay your bills (in time), then you get "bad credit". Cool. Except that 1) if you just pay things cash, up front, then you will have no credit at all, and 2) everybody and their dog seem to have access to your credit history.

#1 bites me, #2 amazes me. In the Netherlands, when you want a loan, or you want to rent a house, etc, people look at your income and expenses. When I applied to rent a house, the corporation didn't have access to my full credit history, and rightfully so... it's none of anybody's business. (I suppose this is arguable -- after all, banks need to be able to make an informed decision whether it's a good idea to lend you money. But should others, like employers, have access to this kind of data? I don't think so.) Either way, I don't think there's an organization that keeps track of it. (If there is, I've never heard of it.)

Anyway, my experience is that the best way to buy something expensive, is to save for it, then pay all of it at once. Not only will paying it off in terms often be more expensive, it also introduces a risk: if your financial situation changes, will you still be able to pay? I did that in the Netherlands, and I have been doing that over here as well, but now my credit history says that I have "no credit". Great, so I am punished for prudent management of my finances. If I had done it the other way, I would have been rewarded... I would have had "good credit", which is useful when buying a house, for example.

Oh well. I guess you just have to play the game and go with the rules, no matter how stupid they are. emoticon:frusty

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-11-13 23:40:21   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland


"Limburger" seems to be a well-known, though not necessarily popular, cheese here in the US. But, wait a minute... I come from a province in the Netherlands called Limburg. How come I never heard of this cheese? (At least not before the Monty Python "cheese shop" sketch -- it's really very runny, sir.)

Wikipedia has the answer. In this list of cheeses, Limburger does not show up under Netherlands; rather, it appears under Belgium. Sure enough, the cheese has its own entry, which tells us: "Limburger is a very strongly smelling cheese which originated in Limberg, Belgium." A Google search for this place doesn't yield much, so I wonder if that shouldn't be Limburg instead; Belgium happens to have a province too with that name.

Today's trivia brought to you by a native Limburger. emoticon:smile

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-11-06 21:11:18   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland

Sweden says no to euro

So far, the euro hasn't been a great success in the Netherlands. I can't speak from experience, really, since I left for the US before the euro was introduced. However, this is what I grokked from conversations with family and friends so far. (Dutch readers, feel free to correct me.) The story of the euro in 5 easy sentences.

Dutch government: Let's introduce the euro! A referendum will not be necessary, since we know what's best for everyone.
Stores: Ha, this is a good opportunity to raise prices!
Bars and restaurants: Even better, let's just replace the guilder sign with an euro sign!
People: (complaining)
Government: According to our statistics, prices didn't rise in 2002.

I don't understand how the Swedes cannot want this. emoticon:devil

Posted by Hans "goud zij met ons" Nowak on 2003-09-14 22:19:55   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland

Dutch bloggers

Dutch bloggers by zip code. If I still lived in the Netherlands, I would be in 64.

Posted by Hans "Nederblog leeft" Nowak on 2003-07-07 17:32:09   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland

Hey, I know that snake...

This one, to be precise... I used to have it, or one very similar, back in the Netherlands. Sadly, I couldn't bring it with me to Florida.

In other pictures: looks like somebody farted... emoticon:smile And, why did the photographer take a picture of somebody's foot? emoticon:loveit (Extra points if you know who it is.)

Also (old EuroPython 2002 notes) (Q = audience, A = Guido):
Q assignment inside expressions?
A no, never (scattered applause)
Q so why is it used in the C source to Python?
A oops, we've run out of time

(same page:) I wonder who said "Cannot find Python developers"... they can always hire me, then.

Posted by Hans "from the useless-fact-of-the-day department" Nowak on 2003-07-02 21:29:05   {link}
Categories: Python, Nederland

Barren wastelands

Judging from the discussions in some newsgroups (like nl.comp.programmeren ), large groups of people still have no clue that there are other programming languages out there besides the well-known commercial ones. I wonder if this is a common problem, or that the Netherlands are a backwards country when it comes to programming. <0.3 wink>

Languages like Java, C++, Delphi, C#/.NET, and Visual Basic are discussed like they are top of the bill, and generally the best choices around. Partially that is because of the “everybody uses language X, so let’s use it too” mentality. Partially it is because there’s a bunch of myths that people like to believe in (commercial languages guarantee better support, non-commercial languages are not maintainable, etc).

I don’t know, but stating that C++ (or Visual Basic, Java, whatever) is the best language because many people use it, is like saying that Britney Spears makes the best music.

But the biggest myth is, that it doesn’t matter which language you use, because inherently they are all the same. “What you can do in Visual Basic, you can do as well in Delphi or C++.” That is sooo wrong. Especially when you throw a language like Python in the mix. (I mention it because I’m obviously a Pythonista, but I could have said Perl as well, or Smalltalk, Lisp…)

Programming languages shape the way you think. If all you do is design forms and make components do stuff, then maybe you won’t need to think so much, and then any language with a GUI builder is just fine. I personally am not content with that anymore. I want to write code that is maintainable, elegant, well-written, reusable, and extendable. I want to whip up a prototype in a few hours. I want to just deal with the problem at hand rather than fight the language. I gladly sacrifice such dubious benefits as support, GUI builders, MSDN subscriptions, or “market value”. (Not to mention, compile times, buggy releases, and static typing…)

That’s why I use Python. Maybe someday you will see the light too. :-)

Posted by Hans "thou art arrogant, mortal" Nowak on 2003-05-23 21:20:53   {link}
Categories: programming, Nederland

Fun vs unfun

In spite of some serious problems we're currently dealing with, some silly April Fool's jokes brought a smile to my face today. For example:
  • Zoids are released in the Netherlands (ZoidFans list)
  • Stackless Perl (comp.lang.python)
  • PEP 313, adding roman number literals to the language (comp.lang.python)
  • The George Foreman iGrill, with USB connection (Thinkgeek, via Slashdot)
  • An "evil bit" will be added to TCP/IP packets (via Slashdot)
  • New whitespace-only programming language (via Slashdot)
  • MetaFilter looks like Google
  • CPAN looks like a weird hobbyist page with collections of scripts
  • Raid on KaZaA users in the Netherlands (FokZine)
OK, I guess you had to be there... :-) There were other attempts, that were not so funny, like the supposed release of Enlightenment 1.0, free software hits back when detecting a DoS attack, article about Windows XP as a secure OS, etc. These were either too obvious or too obscure. The drawback is that it's sometimes difficult to tell the real news from the jokes... is Peter Jackson going to remake King Kong or not? :)

In other news, and this is not a joke: There has been an explosion at DSM, a large Dutch chemical company. It used to be one of our major customers, back in the day when I worked at Info Vision (which was acquired by CSS later). Most of us regularly had to go there.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-04-01 13:21:01   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland

Tegenstrijd, again

Def P: Ik denk dat je met 'Liefdaderheid' zelfs gezeik met de wet kan krijgen als je dat als single uitgeeft.
Interviewer: Hoezo?
Def P: Het nummer is 'aanstootgevend en roept op tot geweld'... En dat mag niet.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-02-27 22:24:37   {link}
Categories: music, Nederland


Tegenstrijd. Kopen die moddervette CD. :-)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-02-19 21:58:29   {link}
Categories: music, Nederland

Try to explain this to an American...

CBR maakt rijbewijs duizend euro duurder [Dutch]. Basically the article says that getting a driver's license in the Netherlands will cost €1000 more than it does now. In the near future the total cost will be around €3000. Even if this raise is just a rumor, the current cost is around €2000.

At the moment the euro (€) has roughly the same value as the US dollar. Hmm, I wonder what Americans would say if they had to pay $2000 or $3000 to get their license... not to mention, take weeks or months (or years, in my case :-) of drivers lessons, followed by a very strict and difficult exam, where only around 35% of the candidates actually pass. Once you have your prized license, you get rewarded by the driving experience in the Netherlands: lots and lots of traffic signs (and you are expected to see them all at once), lots of narrow streets, roundabouts, speed bumps and 30 km/h zones, and interesting rules, like, bikes coming from the right have the right of way. I am not making this up.

Also, most cars are stick-shift, making it all the more fun. And don't expect kids on bikes and mopeds (or anywhere else, for that matter) to know the traffic rules. They do whatever they want, cross red lights, etc. And if you accidentally hit them with your car, it's your fault, no matter what they did.

But if you think that is ridiculous, you don't know the price of gasoline in the Netherlands yet... ^_^

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-02-05 13:38:58   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland


This article (Dutch), obviously about Longhorn, also mentions Palladium. And presents it like it's a good thing. Oh well, who cares about freedom, eh? :-)

Good thing there will still be Mac and Linux boxen, where I can do what *I* want...

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-01-15 11:43:44   {link}
Categories: general, Nederland

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