repeatedly reported on the Dutch people’s preference for deep-fried delights on
harlekin.blog, I would now like to address the issue of how the citizens of my
adopted country manage to keep fit despite these temptations.
observations, I can say that this must partly due to the fact that cycling is
still extremely popular in the Netherlands, even in sub-optimal climatic
conditions. All manner of more or less roadworthy versions of child seats,
child trailers, etc. are to be seen often with mothers or fathers and three
small children distributed around the bike.
the start of the new millennium, conditions for mobile work got better. The
number of Deutsche Telekom DSL connections grew from 0.6 million in 2000 to
13.3 million in 2008. The introduction of Skype in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and
Janus Friis made it possible for the first time to make video calls without
having to pawn house and home. So I (finally) had video at my disposal in
addition to telephone and email, which had become prevalent by then. My laptops
became lighter and more powerful and had integrated modems.
Recently I was asked for a holiday recommendation, to which I unhesitatingly responded: Asia. ”Ooh, nah, it’s hot and dirty there” was the reaction.
Our recent experiences in Japan proved the exact opposite. The first thing that strikes you as you speed into Tokyo on the high-speed train is how clean the place is. Crowded, yes, what do you expect if you cram 38 million into a city? But the houses are spotless and well-tended, no graffiti is to be seen, and the streets free of litter, chewing gum and dog souvenirs. They say they had to remove all the litter-bins after the sarin attack on the underground, but that alone cannot explain such cleanliness.
…or how I learned to stop worrying and love Big Data.
For the last couple
of years I have been dabbling with genealogy. My family in England has always
been convinced we were related to Jack Cornwell, a 16-year-old Naval recruit
who died a heroic death at the Battle of Jutland in the First World War. My
mother was German so I was curious about that side of me too. Most of my
relatives are dead, so I had just a few recollections of family anecdotes and a
handful of old photographs to start with.
Internet to the
rescue! Mormons in Salt Lake City, whose mission in life is to find salvation
for their forefathers by genealogical research and ordinances performed by
proxy for them, run several online sites to help you “discover your family’s story.” The story goes that before and after the
Second World War dozens of Mormon researchers photographed and transcribed huge
numbers of church and public records in Europe long before anyone had thoughts
about data security. There are now millions of records on their databases.