World maps

foodaid.png

“Territory size shows the proportion of all contributions to international food aid programmes that come from governments there.”

Eamelje.net, where I found the link to the Worldmapper service, displays almost exactly the same map, but there the legend says: “Territory size shows the proportion of all McDonalds restaurants that were open in 2004, that were found there.” (Go spot the differences.)

Remarkable news from the Netherlands

A friend and I started a blog that will report trivia from the Netherlands in English. It’s called 24 Oranges. We believe enough interesting things happen in this country that those who don’t speak Dutch might like to know about.

Wim Helsen’s poetry readings

Eamelje has the beginnings of a nice Vrienden van de Poëzie collection. Flemish comedian Wim Helsen has been given a couple of minutes at the end of each Belgian Man Bijt Hond (small news) episode to read poetry, and Eamelje makes it a point to post the best of those. All in Dutch of course.

LRRH’s brook found, claim archeologists

Archeologists claim to have found the brook in which the wolf was thrown that ate Little Red Riding Hood. As you may remember, the wolf had seduced Little Red Riding Hood with his sweet words, and then eaten her and her grandmother, and had fallen asleep afterwards. Luckily for the two women a hunter came by, who cut open the wolf’s stomach, released the women, and replaced them by stones. After that, the hunter sewed the wolf’s stomach back together. The wolf went for a drink in a nearby brook, and the weight of the stones made him fall into the water where he drowned.

Now, archeologists say they have discovered this brook, and not only that, but they have also found something that may or may not be the remains of the wolf.

Of course, this all proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there once were sapient, speaking wolves. Yay for science!

(Via Sargasso.)

How to mess with telemarketers

Telemarketers giving you a hard time on the phone? Here’s one solution.

(Via Xt.)

WKRP in Cincinnati

Tip for the Dutchies, because I don’t think this has ever been shown on these shores: “WKRP in Cincinnati” (or just: WKRP) is a straight-forward 1970s sitcom about the daily life at a tiny commercial radio station. You’ll find it on the greynet.

(P.S. I seem to be attaching an entirely different meaning to the word “greynet” than other folks do. That’s all right, but it’s something you should know.)

(P.P.S. Thanks to Natasha for the tip.)

Hildebrand Nawijn third sexiest politician?

They say voters are swayed more by presentation and looks than by actual politics. A good-looking politician is considered a weapon in the battle for votes. But how well do our politicians look if you unleash their pictures on an unsuspecting audience, on people who have never heard of these candidates before?

The Writer’s Block blog decided to test the sexiness of the campaign leaders for the upcoming Dutch parliamentary elections by posting their portraits anonymously at Hot or Not. Or so they say; I find it hard to believe that the comparison subjects scored so highly.

The results are surprising too. Our supposedly hottest politicians, such as Hildebrand Nawijn, all stem from extreme right or fundamentalist Christian parties.

China today

It started at Maciej’s. He’s leaving China (and looking for work):

He was not the first Western guy to treat China as his own personal sexual buffet. To put it in the D&D terms that many of the guys who benefit most from the effect will readily understand, living in China gives you +4 attractiveness. The love handles (metaphorically) shrink, the hairline advances, teeth straighten, previously soupy eyes blaze with a new rakish light. […] You’re a computer programmer? You’re quiet and like to read? You live with your parents? You never drink? You are sexually inexperienced?

HEARTTHROB!

[…]

Most guys are able to take this in stride (so this is what it feels like to be a woman!), but there is always the small minority of men who find themselves up at one in the morning, writing blog posts entitled Undressing Tingting.

He linked to EastSouthNorthWest, who quoted Calving Ching (Cyrus Ching? “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”) and Qin Hui:

I told him: “Following your standards, neither leftists nor rights have power in China. For you, your leftists are supposed to hold the rulers accountable; your rightists are supposed to limit the powers of the rulers. Both these types of people are being suppressed in China. But the Chinese rulers also prop up the types of leftists and rightists that they need. They need the ‘leftists’ to expand their power, and they need to ‘rightists’ to help them evade their responsibilities. So it can be said that in China, both ‘leftists’ and ‘rightists’ are being favored by the rulers.”

[…]

[China’s economic] growth cannot be regarded as “the success of the government” as interpreted by the left-leaning scholars, nor as “the success of the market” as interpreted by the right-leaning scholars, nor does it have anything to do with the so-called “Beijing consensus” about the “combined success of market and government.” Apart from low wages and low benefits, China is able to use its “advantage” in “low human rights” to push down the price of the four major factors (manpower, land, capital and non-renewable resources). The “cost of transaction is reduced” by prohibiting price negotiations as well as limiting or even eliminating certain trade rights. China rejects democracy, it suppresses participation, it pays no attention to ideas, it despises religious beliefs, it scorns justice and it uses materialistic stimulation to promote a single-minded desire to chase after the mirage of wealth. This was how it came to have an astonishing competitiveness seldom seen in open market or welfare states, and all the other liberalizing countries in the world that adopt either “gradual development” or “shock therapy” fall far behind China.

then linked to Joel Martinsen:

Cosmetology students offering free haircuts in a public park in Jiaozuo, Henan Province, were chased off the “Young Volunteers Plaza” by park management who suspected that they were merely using the park as a free practice ground. Which, if you are familiar with beauty training schools, is probably not a bad guess – the school claims that it has provided 13,000 free haircuts to city residents since March.

Each side’s spin:

– Jiaozuo City Oriental Technical Institute president: “There’s a sign set up at the entrance reading ‘Young Volunteers Plaza’, proving that this place is authorized by the government. The students weren’t taking any money for their volunteer hair cutting, so why didn’t they let the students learn from Lei Feng and donate their generosity?”

– Park administrater Lu Ren: “Although the students were voluntarily cutting hair and not taking any money from the citizens, the school had taken money from the students. Under the banner of volunteerism, the school was in fact turning the People’s Park into a training ground, and the park has no obligation to assist them.”

– [Forrestry folks snipped]

I call spruitjeslucht.

Maciej and the Secret Space Center

Had I mentioned that Maciej Ceglowski is in Beijing? The other day he accidentally wandered into one of the city’s most secret space travel facilities. He gets busted, and his feeble possessions investigated.

At some point the fat cop walked in again to make another attempt at the cell phone, guards springing back to attention around him. Having suffered the slings and arrows of the phone’s outrageous user interface for three months, it gave me a secret thrill to watch this battle. But as confident as I was of the outcome, I worried that the cop might accidentally squeeze the button on the side of the phone and thereby discover the phone’s built-in camera.

By my estimate the phone had about fifty photographs stored on it – two of my bewildered face squinting at the phone, one of my hand, and forty seven of the inside of my pocket. I had no way of verifying this, though, because the built-in photograph viewer was not navigable by mortal man. Only the pure of heart, to whom the user interface would open like a blushing rose, could activate the picture viewer.

Who knew that bad usability and international espionage go hand in hand?

Zwartboek

Nice trailer (WMV) for Paul Verhoeven’s new movie, Zwartboek.

Edit: and I am not just saying that because, as someone put it, “Carice van Houten has the nicest ass in a trailer ever”. Though that helps.