Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 23 December 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.Size matters at Christmas
At this time of festive cheer, spare a thought for the postman. This year, says De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' biggest postal company TNT Post will handle over 180 million Christmas and New Year's cards. But under the headline "Small cards are a handful" the paper reveals that it's not just volume, but also size that affects the yuletide workload.
This year, staff at the main sorting centre has been snowed under by cards which are too small to be sorted automatically. "Little is hip," sighed one postal worker.
"You can barely fit a postage stamp on some of the cards we've seen ... Luckily we've managed to adapt one of the machines to cope with the undersized cards."
The paper reveals that the sorting centre still has around 16 people sorting cards by hand. On average they manage to get through an impressive 1,000 cards an hour.
"But when you realise there will be between 30 and 40 million cards coming through today, we've definitely got our work cut out for us!"
Woody Allen as enthusiastic amateur clarinet
Amsterdam got a little star-struck on Monday night as Woody Allen hit town, not in his professional capacity as film director but in his role as enthusiastic amateur clarinet player with a jazz ensemble.
The columnist for nrc-next summed up the audience: "There were two types of people ... fans of Woody Allen's films who were dying to see him in real-life and were prepared to sit through a jazz concert ... and fans of New Orleans jazz who were prepared to accept that there was an amateur clarinet player called Woody Allen in the band. The former numbered around 498, the latter around 2."
De Telegraaf strikes a similar chord: "Why would anyone pay over EUR 70 to see Woody Allen play mediocre clarinet? Because it's Woody Allen of course!" But for all his musical shortcomings, it seems the neurotic New Yorker somehow managed to steal the hearts of the jazz-loving Dutch.
"Allen plays clarinet like he directs his films and lives his private life: restless, busy and unorthodox" wrote De Telegraaf's reviewer. While acknowledging that the director's playing was no match for that of his fellow band members, the critic concludes "But only a grouch would gripe about such matters. Even people who had no affinity with traditional jazz left Paradiso last night smiling from ear to ear."
Zeeland students tackle province’s flood problems
Trouw reports that Zeeland University of Applied Sciences is getting school children armed with Lego to tackle the province's environmental problems. The university's students are working with teams of secondary school pupils to build model dykes that can cope with rising water levels.
"It looks like a game but it's absolutely serious," insists the paper. The kids are dealing with a genuine problem in the city of Vlissingen, where storms cause water to wash over the boulevard, disrupting traffic.
The aim of the project is to get the kids interested in ecotechnology and civil engineering but one of the scientists thinks it could even lead to interesting solutions. "The kids are really creative. They may well hit on something we can actually develop."
However, he also points out that the problems being solved by the kids aren't all that urgent: it's only the cars on Vlissingen's boulevard that are affected by the water, not the houses.
[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]