I bike. Therefore, I am… not a user of google maps to navigate my native city of Amsterdam. Sure, it will plot directions just fine. But will it plot that route via the the street with the best bikepaths or know to take a shortcut through the park? No. Google Maps is for cars.
For biking Amsterdam, there’s no substitute for this handy Bike Route Planner from Routecraft. Comes as an iPhone App as well.
Dear Google, hear my prayer. One way you can help stop global warming is to build support into your maps for low-CO2 emission, carbohydrate-fuelled, single human engine two wheeled transport. I’m sure the good folks at Routecraft would consider an offer.
We have house guests here at Casa Fitzgerald, one of whom emailed his grandmother back in the States. She was overjoyed to get an email from Amsterdam:
“I didn’t know the internet worked across oceans!”
Once again, Boing Boing earns its monniker as a “Directory of Wonderful Things.” Behold, the bike-light that paints a laser-lit bike-lane on the road around you, a concept by Alex Tee and Evan Gant.
Of course, this would be redundant in most of Amsterdam, where more than 400 Kilometers (249 miles) of the city’s roads have wide, conveniently marked bike lanes already installed. And it wouldn’t be all that much use in these, the 11 most bike-friendly cities.
But for those have-not streets, and have-not cities, this is brilliant. Now, when do we get the activist version, which leaves a painted version behind?
One downside of living in Holland is the near-absence of Nature. But being out on a frozen lake that stretches for miles on a crisp, sunny day can make you forget details like the fact that the lake itself was hand-crafted as a works project in the 30s.
Clan Fitzgerald headed out to the IJsselmeer — or, more properly, the hydrologically distinct Markermeer — for a day on the ice. It was packed with long-distance skaters racing by, parents towing little ones behind on sleds, toddlers learning to skate in the Dutch fashion, behind a kitchen chair.
Every Dutch person I talked to last week, as the freeze settled in and the live coverage of skate races began on TV and skate fever seriously settled in, talked about skating with a whimsical, backwards-glance at their childhood, and more than one mentioned “that sound” — shhhhhh shhhhhh shhhhhh of long skates on ice. Not skating in circles in a rink, but out on a river or a canal or a lake, surrounded by the ice-quiet air. This is a deeply ingrained part of the Dutch psyche — not just the Hans Brinker foreign stereotype.
It’s been 12 years since this part of the Netherlands has seen this deep a freeze. My eldest son, Doon, who is utterly Dutch in most ways, has never had the chance to be out on anything but artificial ice in his lifetime.
What will he remember of the great Dutch tradition of skating? The changes that the Earth are going through are changing far more than just the weather.
Thought-provoking, disturbing article in the New Yorker argues the Dutch “pillar” system of cultural tolerance is a failure, as evidenced by the presence of radical islamicism within its borders. The modern implementation of the “pillar” system is the product of Ruud Lubbers and the liberal left in this country, by which cultural sub-groups have been allowed to (and in some cases encouraged to) maintain their languages and identities and value systems rather than integrating into those of mainstream Dutch society. Jane Kramer, who wrote the piece, slams this policy and (in my reading) the left’s failure to confine the right in making this their issue — a bit of the same “why does the left miss populist opportunities that the Right capitalizes on” analysis that the Democrats in the US have been worrying over ever since the fundamentalist Christian right discovered the fax machine.
I don’t want McCivilization — a single homogenous mass. But I also found myself struggling to find a position against some of the arguments in this piece: that there is simply no means by which one culture which permits wife-beating can live with another culture which forbids it. That aggressive intolerance of homosexuality can’t be defended as a religious right. In an American context, this is a fight in which the line is between the fundamentalist Christian right and the liberal left.
Here in Holland, the left has created an environment of cultural tolerance which has meant not just a tacit allowance, but an active defense of the right to those fundamentalist values.
And if you want to talk about failure to integrate, I realized midway through the article that I learned more about the politics and culture of the Baarsjes, a neighborhood two blocks away from me, from a magazine published in Manhattan than I’d learned in ten years of living here. I don’t necessarily want Dutch society to insist that I learn to love Edam Cheese, but I certainly could have used a push to learn Dutch well enough to eavesdrop on the tram. So I’m supporting the position of the conservatives, who have introduced mandatory integration and language courses for immigrants?? You see my predicament here.