Strange news from the Netherlands
No Flood Today

February 1953. Giant flood in Zeeland, south west Netherlands.
What on earth is this?
  • Strange news, copied- errr, translated from renowned sources.
  • Humor.
  • Dutch culture and strange or bad Dutch habits.
  • Dutch internet news and interesting links.
  • My opinion.
  • Published irregularly.
  • It used to be a newsletter. Now it's a kind of weblogzineletterdiary.
Sounds good. How can I subscribe?
You can't.
I can't subscribe. What's wrong?
Nothing.
So it's not possible to subscribe?
You got it!
Who are you?
Hi!
My name is Onno Zweers. I work as an internet specialist. I like landscapes and swimming. I don't use drugs and I most certainly don't wear clogs. In fact, I don't know anyone who wears clogs. To find out more about me, check out my home page. But beware! Even if you can read Dutch it will be hard to understand, due to abnormal use of irony.
Why is it called No Flood Today?
Half of the Netherlands is below sea level. One day we will regret this small design flaw.
Is there more about Dutch culture?
Here's a good start:
 
The UnDutchables
If you want to know about Dutch culture, buy this book! It's by two Anglo-Americans who have lived in the Netherlands for years. They sold 100.000 copies. I bought one for Maria, my Greek girlfriend, and she was very amused. Fortunately, she still wants to marry me.
 
Brian Branson's "Dear Henry" letters
Very funny. This Englishman lives in the Netherlands and writes funny letters about Dutch culture. Both funny and informative. Have I mentioned yet it's funny?

Learn Dutch

An online course to learn what some people call "the most useless language in the world".
Your English sucks.
You are very perceptive. English is not my native language. Please direct your complaints to onno2001@xs4all.nl.
Where can I find past editions, from the illustrious time when NFT was still an email newsletter?
You can find them at the archive.

  

2001, May 13
Dear friends,
The Dutch have a dubious colonial past. Who knows what my ancestors did wrong. They tortured, oppressed, they made slaves and did all kinds of unfriendly things that no-one over here is eager to admit.
 
Once, the Dutch "owned" a considerable part of Asia. Whether this is a great achievement or a geat mistake remains to be seen.
 
Take Indonesia. The Dutch have occupied it for 350 years. They robbed the country of its natural wealth. Dutch writer Multatuli has written a nice book about that. 
 
In 1942, the Japanese kicked the Dutch out of Nederlands IndiŽ. After the war, freedom fighters fought against the returning Dutch rulers. The Dutch brought in lots of soldiers to fight the freedom fighters, including my father, who fortunately only had an office job. But under heavy international pressure, the Dutch had to withdraw from their colony in 1949. Nederlands IndiŽ became Indonesia.
 
Now, a Japanese film director has made a film that suggests Japan helped liberate Indonesia from the Dutch. Excuse me? U bedoelt?
 
The Indonesians don't agree: "We never, never considered the Japanese a savior from colonial power". Not only the Dutch have been put into Japanese concentration camps, also Indonesians have suffered at the hand of the Japanese.
 
I really admire the British. They made a great biopic about Gandhi, in which they themselves are the bad guys. That's really neat.
 
Prettige dag verder.
2001, May 11
Dear friends,
Don't confuse Holland with the Netherlands. Merel Roze found a nice page in English that explains the difference.
Prettige nacht verder.
2001, May 9
Dear friends,
You probably know already what a weblog is. I'll explain anyway, to annoy you. It's a diary of a web surfer, noting which interesting places he/she has seen, so that you who reads the log, can also visit the very same places.

Weblogs are hot and cool, they are beautiful, they are fun, they are hip, they rule, or in modern Dutch: ze zijn vet.

It's a new generation that speaks out. In the sixties they probably would write pamphlets or books. In the zeroes (you know, 2000-2010) they log.

For some unknown reason there are many Dutch weblogs. I'll try to find out why and report back to you.

The Dutch webloggers are one big family. They know exactly what the other loggers write. When they copy a link, they politely name the weblogger that they took it from. One web logger made a map of where each logger is located. Another made a calendar when each log has its birthday and how many candles are on the cake. I want to be part of this creative family too!

Some weblogs are very popular. Alt0169 has 2000 visitors per day. That's really not bad. Many people realize that weblogs are the discoverers of the web. They boldly go where no-one has gone before. By peeking once per day, you know what's hot before it's in the newspapers.

In the world of weblogs you don't praise one another out loud. You just simply link. That's all. Big compliments are sent via email, hidden from the general public.

To my surprise, I discovered that I have a weblog too. It's my Logboek, describing what's new on my extensive web site. It's not a weblog, it's more an autolog, but Caroline was so kind to put it in her list of logs. And now some people start to think of No Flood Today as a weblog. Jolly good! I'm part of the family!

What else can this weblog report to you? There is no flood today. The weather is so good that consumers go to the retail shops demanding discount on all long sleeves.

And Willem and his fiancťe Maxima have planted a tree together in tulip park de Keukenhof in such a lovely way, that now the whole country is totally in love with the couple. OK, time to zap.
2001, May 8
Dear friends,
Especially for you I went out into Amsterdam to take some strange pictures.

2001, May 4
Dear friends,
The remains of the church in Leiden where the Pilgrim Fathers stayed, will not be removed. The municipality of Leiden decided to respect the concerns of many American citizens.
Ancestors of president Bush married in this church. Fortunately they left ;-)
 
That's all for now. I'm going to Barbara's birthday. To give her my condolences. Because her birthday is always on the same day as the commemoration of the dead of World War 2.
Prettige dag verder.
2001, May 3
Dear friends,
Tomorrow it will be five years ago that I made my first web site. But that's not what I wanted to tell you.

Disasters always seem to happen when I'm not around. I don't have enough misery to entertain you. I'm thinking now of the day in September 1999 that Maria and I went to walk on a mountain near Athens. Only 5 days later that mountain was the epicenter of a major earthquake. I was in Amsterdam.
I'm also thinking of the ferry we took from Greece to Italy. On the same day another boat of the company sank because the crew was watching soccer.
 
Last Monday it was queens day. There was great chaos around Amsterdam central station. Roads around the station were blocked, so people could not leave the station square fast enough. The square was completely filled, and so were the platforms. Trains could not enter the station. So the frustrated passengers stepped out of the waiting trains and walked along the rails. Because of this, the trains could not move anymore. Chaos was complete. NS closed the station. There were fights between public and police. Hundreds of people had to spend the night outdoors.
 
I missed it. I was in Germany. I missed it because it is in my nature to miss all the action. I have a great talent not to be a reporter.
 
My friends, the boss of the biggest trade union, FNV, is a man to my liking. He wants the people with 300 times the minimum income, to pay 100% taxes over every next guilder. This way the managers should be stopped from giving themselves excessively high incomes. Manager salaries have increased very much in the last years.
 
My friends, have you ever had a perfect excuse for not going somewhere?
Maria asked me to be at a concert of her German class mates next saturday.
"Is your piece going to be performed? No? Then I won't be there."
"But my classmates asked me if you could record it on video."
"Tell them I won't be there. Tell them... Tell them it's the day that the Dutch celebrate the liberation from the Germans!"
 
But Maria's flute piece will be played after all. I will go to record it with the camera. Probably all sorts of adventures and disasters will happen in Holland, while I am in Germany. Perhaps a flood, who knows!
 
It's now five past midnight. Happy birthday, my web site!
Prettige avond verder.
2001, April 23
Dear friends,
Last week Monday, Maria and I went to Cologne by car with a box full of delicious foods. But when we had left Amsterdam, I panicked. I remembered suddenly that a few weeks before, I had seen on TV that travelers at the airport Schiphol had to give all their foods to the police. Why? No food was allowed to be exported. With such measures they tried to keep the foot and mouth disease from spreading.

What a pity. Our box was full of delicious chicken meat, onions, tomatoes, cucumber. We also had lots of juice, because the German juices are really disgusting. And probably we would have to give them all away at the border... Why didn't I think of these border checks before? What a pity.

On the other hand, if you think of all the animals that have been killed to prevent the disease from  spreading, a box of chicken meat would be only a small sacrifice to make. If they find one sick animal on a farm, ALL animals on that farm are killed. As if this isn't enough, also all animals in a 2 kilometers radius are killed. Even if they are in perfect health. Why? To prevent the disease from spreading.

The unlucky farmers are pretty desperate. They don't understand why the animals can't be vaccinated. The European Union does not allow its members to use vaccinations. Why not? Because it is bad for the export of meat. All meat is checked at the borders for traces of foot and mouth disease. But also vaccinated meat will trigger the foot and mouth alarm. So, vaccinated meat cannot be exported to countries like the USA and Japan. This loss of profit seems to be more important than the well being of the animals.

What to do with our foods? We decided not to hide anything and just to see what would happen and hope for the best.

One and a half hour later, at the border, all traffic was directed through a checkpoint. Five policemen were looking through the windows of the car. But they were not alarmed at all and we could continue without stopping. It seemed that only the transport of living animals was forbidden.

We felt very relieved. But I could understand a little bit better how the unlucky farmers must have felt.
2001, April 10
Dear friends,
There are some things you should know about the Dutch railroads. The BBC once had a documentary about railroads, in which they masturbated at the thought of the Dutch NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen). The NS compared to British rail as a swan to a dead parrot.

The last few years things have changed. Trains are full. Trains are late. And last week, trains were on strike. Why? Trains are late and full because the NS has not enough trains. They have ordered new trains but it takes years before they are ready.

They striked because the NS administration wants the personnel to cover smaller distances. Now, a conductor travels from Haarlem all the way down to Maastricht. Next year, they have to travel from Haarlem to Amsterdam, where another conductor takes over the train and the first conductor goes back to Haarlem on another train. They call this a rondje om de kerk (around the church).

This is unacceptably boring for the personnel. So they strike.

And which is the only part of the Netherlands where they don't strike? Exactly! The region where they already go rondjes om de kerk. They don't seem to mind it.

During the strikes, everybody uses their car. Because of this, the roads are completely jammed with traffic. A colleague of mine has been 8 hours on the road on last Thursday, just enough to have lunch at the office.

It seems that our swan is in a severe coma. How is the British parrot? Still pining for the fjords?
2001, April 9
Dear people, let me tell you about Dutch democracy. The queen is not elected. The prime minister is not elected. The mayors are not elected. Managers of companies, even the important companies, are not elected. Oopsy! It seems that Holland is no democracy!

How does it work then? The kingship is inherited. We vote for a political party: the biggest party gets to pick the prime minister. Mayors are appointed by the queen. Fortunately, we do elect the city council. And the queen has no power - officially. But behind the curtains she is said to talk politicians round.
I would be very interested to see a democratic company! To choose your own boss... That would be something.

On the 25th of April there is a referendum in Amsterdam. We get to choose if the city center should have its own stadsdeelraad (city part council). Frankly, I couldn't care less. What I do want is to elect the mayor. And why don't we get to elect our own prime minister?

Dear friends, the Volkskrant magazine, that comes with the Volkskrant newspaper, had a special on the victims of the Volendam cafe fire. On new years eve, a few people were killed and something like 100 people burned, some of them severe. The owner of the cafe had neglected several safety precautions, even after warnings.
That's another disaster that I failed to report to you earlier. Oopsy!
 
Otherwise the papers are full of Maxima. So I unsubscribed from the Volkskrant. I will read the news from internet and Teletext (It will save me 200 guilders per year and half an hour per day.

Another subscription I will terminate is the cable internet. UPC, the cable company covering Amsterdam, has made so many losses that they are raising their internet fee from 90 to 100 guilders per month. While UPC has the worst reputation of all providers. A nice moment to quit.

By the way, there was no flood today. Prettige avond verder.
2001, April 6
Dear friends,
I have not made an edition of the No Flood Today newsletter since 13 march 2000, that's one year. That calls for a celebration! So I went to the bakery to get a birthday cake with one candle. Unfortunately I didn't have enough money. A great emptiness has come over my bank account since I met my wonderful girlfriend Maria, and spend lots of guilders on phoning and airplaning to Greece. So, no cake today. Instead, I feast on the most wonderful mousakas you could ever imagine.

I have decided to turn No Flood Today into a web letter.

During this year, I failed to report on the big fireworks disaster in Deventer in may 2000. A few blocks of houses were destroyed and something like 20 people were killed. You would think that Dutch people have had enough of fireworks now. Wrong. New years eve has been explosive as ever.

Dear friends,
Our crown prince has a girlfriend. Her name is Maxima. When I hear the word maxima I usually think of people with high income. The Dutch royal family certainly has a high income and Maxima will soon get her share of it.

Maxima has one problem: her father. Zorreguieta has been a minister in the Argentinean junta of dictator Videla. This is not politically correct. What to do now? To become queen or be friends with daddy?

Since last week, Maxima and the prince, Willem Alexander, are engaged. It went with lots of royal hugs, kisses and blushes from the prince. He could easily have been mistaken for a fire brigade truck. Maxima declared in charming Dutch that she didn't approve of her fathers support to the junta. Her father will not be present at the wedding. This way, the Dutch public can forget about nasty juntas in Argentina. Problem solved. Now, everybody loves Maxima. She's politically correct.

I want to emigrate to a republic!

Dear friends,
Another nice thing. Thousands of cows and sheep are killed because of the Foot and Mouth disease. Not because they are ill, but because there is a chance they are ill and will spread the disease further. I urged the minister of agriculture to go for vaccinations instead of preventive killing. Now, in some areas the cattle will be vaccinated.
Why does Europe want to kill instead of vaccinate? Because vaccinated cows can not be exported to the USA. We would sell less meat. The cows die because of our boundless greed.

Dear friends,
A month or two ago, a French woman published a book about Dutch men. They are totally unromantic and unsexy, she complained. No wonder. When surrounded by Dutch women, even a foreign man would become unromantic. I got my woman from abroad. I rest my case.

Dear friends,
There is no flood today, nor has there been one this winter. The water had defied all physical laws and ran up the English hills instead of into the lowland swamps. That's it for now. Prettige avond verder.