vol. 5 #9– 17 April 2012
The Sentinel Amsterdam
Integrity, heart, humour
Prague welcome! PERSPECTIVES LIFESTYLES OPINION REVIEW TECHNOLOGY art FILM TRENDS HEALTH & WELL-BEING SPORT CLASSIFIEDS
In this issue feature p. 04 CULTURE
P. 10 REVIEW p. 50
Amsterdam housing Prague Welcome! urgencies ‘The question of whether the agency is allowed to demand a fee from the tenant’
‘Sometimes the review can span a lifetime’
Opera Prima ‘Looking like blown-up, luxury chocolate packaging’
Health & Well-being p.66 sport p. 68 more:
The Gold Room
ARt p. 48 Hello Love TECHNOLOGY p. 56 Don’t be Evil, twice
‘Consolidate movement in all three planes of existence, using the kinetic chain
SPOTTED p. 60 Where is this in Amsterdam? FILM REVIEW Room 2C
trends p. 62 Who watches the watchmen? CLASSIFIEDS ColoPHon The Sentinel Amsterdam e-mail: email@example.com website: www.thesentinel.eu The Sentinel Amsterdam does not intentionally include unaccredited photos/illustrations that are subject to copyright. If you consider your copyright to have been infringed, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editors – Gary Rudland & Denson Pierre Design, realisation and form – Andrei Barburas & No-Office.nl Webmaster – www.sio-bytes.tumblr.com Webhost – Amsterjammin.com
Contributors: Guust Augustijn, Caro Bonick, Jane Hutchison, Antonia Egon, Simon Owusu, David King, Dirkje BakkerPierre, Peter Fenwick and Fleur Berkhout
AMsTERDAM hOUsING URGENCIEs
‘The tenant pays a fee; normally one month’s rent (plus 19% value added tax)’ By Guust Augustijn
Amsterdam’s Wijksteunpunten Wonen (District Housing Support Group) provides legal advice about renting accommodation in Amsterdam. Most international residents living in Amsterdam find their apartments through a housing agency, which also arranges the contract with the house owner and for which the tenant pays a fee; normally one month’s rent (plus 19% value added tax). So, the more expensive the apartment, the higher the fee. The question is whether this a fair price, since it bears no relation to the effort expended by the agency? Of greater importance is the question of whether the agency is allowed to demand a fee from the tenant in the first place! In most situations the agency is already being paid by the house owner and, as a court ruled last year, an agency may not demand a fee from both parties. An agency also needs a permit from the city council to bring tenants and house owners together in Amsterdam. So, if you paid a fee as an international resident, try to find out who is paying who and consider a procedure to claim back your money. Another issue is that of temporary rental contracts. If you rent an apartment in the private sector, the contract usually includes the word ‘temporary’. According to Dutch
law this is very exceptional. There are only very specific situations when a contract cannot be extended beyond the initial period of tenure. If one of these exceptional cases does not apply, the contract will be extended by law and the tenant doesn’t need to sign a new contract to continue renting the apartment. Renting a furnished apartment can be very handy if you are only planning to stay in Amsterdam for a short time. Most of the apartments rented to international residents are fully furnished. In general, this is not at the request of the tenant but is the house owner’s preference. It reinforces a ‘temporary feeling’ for the tenant, which suits the house owner very well. It is by no means forbidden to rent out a furnished apartment but the contract must specify the amount that the tenant must pay for using the furnishings on a monthly basis. The law states that the landlord must not make a profit on the furnishings, which also applies to so-called ‘free market’ apartments. The general rule is that the landlord may only charge one-60th of the total value of the furnishings per month. So, for example, if the tenant pays €100 a month for furnishings, the value of the furnishings must be at least € 6,000! Landlords often charge much more than the fraction permitted. Based on Dutch law, you can start a procedure to claim back the overpaid amounts. The Wijksteunpunten Wonen is an organisation for tenants and also provides free advice to international residents. You can find them at: www.wswonen.nl/english.
‘If you paid a fee as an international resident, try to find out who is paying who and consider a procedure to claim back your money’
â€˜There are only very specific situations when a contract cannot be extended beyond the initial period of tenureâ€™
By Denson Pierre
‘We were brought there to take back a fresh view of the Czech Republic’s capital and what it has to offer’
‘It is a true rush, as a forty-three year old, to approach such a desirable journey as a ‘virgin’’
Spring is a time of year that is unfailing in its ability to engender ideas of re-evaluation and renewal. Sometimes the review can span a lifetime, as we say goodbye to yet another northern winter with its long, dark days, which so naturally demarks another year passed, never to return. This spring I was the guest of the city of Prague, as part of an international party of journalists and photographers. We were brought there to take back a fresh view of the Czech Republic’s capital and what it has to offer. We would cover as much cultural ground and five-star accommodation options as stylishly possible during our four days and the pleasing impressions gained should encourage you to visit soon. Despite a personal history of generally getting along very well with Czech colleagues and casual friends, in addition to the fact that one of my two favourite authors is a native of the country, I had never before visited. It is a true rush, as a forty-three year old, to approach such a desirable journey as a ‘virgin’, so to speak. The author I refer to is Milan Kundera and, although he was born in the Moravian city of Brno, he studied literature, aesthetics, film direction and script writing in Prague. Kundera introduced me to a form of philosophically digressive writing that I find the most
interesting of all styles. In his most famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, he spends time explaining a perceived repetitiveness in life’s trials and outcomes. I paraphrase from the novel, “we only borrow from the lexicon of human experiences”. Perpetually armed with this memory I stumbled across a description of Prague from an even more illustrious giant of 19th/20th century thinking. I had opened the Spring 2012 edition of TTG Czech Luxury while catching my breath in preparation for considering the initial impact of the city and my room, which I was checking out before heading out. The magazine contained a bold quotation, which I read during my first hour in the city. Having now returned to Amsterdam, which is but a very comfortable sixty-five minute flight away, I have no qualms about avoiding repetitiveness and redundancies but rather to borrow from a much more expressive past exponent of the human experience to convey my awe: “...the city of Prague is wonderful, that beautiful that this city alone would already prove value for a longer journey.” (Albert Einstein) Over the following few issues of The Sentinel we will continue to revisit all things Prague and Czech. For now, I offer you a photographic tour of the city, sights visited and some of the experiences enjoyed as part of a guided group during the first two days of our stay. Our guide turned out to be a genius in people skills and an absolute master of knowledge regarding his beloved city, but you will hear more about him later. Now, let’s walk a little...
‘“We only borrow from the lexicon of human experiences”’
â€˜We would cover as much cultural ground and five-star accommodation optionsâ€™
â€˜The most interesting of all stylesâ€™
â€˜Our guide turned out to be a geniusâ€™
Familiar and yet always innovative Marriott! The Prague Marriott Hotel is located in the heart of the city center, a few steps away from historical landmarks, such as the Municipal House, and a short walk from the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. After a decade in the Czech market this Marriott flagship property represents a symbol of superior and dedicated service combined with local know how and expertise. The hotel interior was recently renovated; its rooms and suites now offer even more comfort and luxury. All 293 spacious guest rooms are fully equipped with high speed wired and wi-fi internet, personal safe, mini-bar, satellite TV with LCD screens, movies and music on demand, voice mail, data ports, individual climate control and a comfortable working area.
The hotel offers 1450 square meters (11 conference rooms in total, some with daylight) of newly renovated flexible conference, reception and banquet space, located on one level. Whether you need to organize a board meeting for 8 participants or a conference reception for 750 delegates, the Prague Marriott will provide a tailored service that exceeds your expectations. The professional event management team will create a successful event you will always remember. Since July 2009 we have incorporated “green events” into our everyday standards. By applying the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle to all events and meetings, we make them more eco-friendly and help guests and meeting planners reduce their carbon footprint on the environment.
â€˜Our entire group of world-travelled and previously guided visitors was tremendously impressedâ€™
â€˜You will notice all of my international colleagues making Hitchcockian cameo appearancesâ€™
A few ancient and uplifting books followed by a crafted beer.
Art nouveau sets the scene for a Michelin starred cooking class.
From the sublimely critical to the Gothic.
Deep breath, international half marathon.
When the President of the Czech Republic speaks, women smile, an East African wins the race and the first Czech finisher wears yellow.
Four Seasons comfort to cast iron and glass art.
Pariz Hotel; local cake.
Traditional folk party.
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‘The words mouth-watering and mesmerising come to mind’
‘Staff are welcoming, helpful and nice’
By Antonia Egon
Opera Prima Kinkerstraat 224, Amsterdam
The Kinkerstraat; we all know it, we’ve all been there. It is a typical shopping street with its own, rather strange charm, which you get to know slowly if you go there fairly often, as I do. It is not pretty and might even be one of Amsterdam’s ugliest shopping streets. It has lots of obscure shops among the standard Dutch chain stores, interrupted by cheap eateries (snack bars, kebab shops, roti shops, Chinese restaurants, etc.). It’s also great for cheap clothes and shoes with some shops seemingly changing ownership every six months; from sale to outlet shop to bargain store and back to sale. A short while ago a new little shop opened that looked so out of place it made me curious. Looking like blown-up, luxury chocolate packaging, Opera Prima is like Cinderella lost in space. Nothing else has ever looked this attractive or luxurious on Kinkerstraat. One recent Saturday, two friends and I decided to go for lunch at the new delicatessen/shop/restaurant/cake shop and we lingered for a while. The choice of food and cakes is so amazing that it’s difficult to know where to start. Just take a look at the photos and head there as soon as you can to see for yourself. The words mouth-watering and mesmerising come to mind when recalling the gorgeous cakes and
heavenly sweet pastries on offer in this unique place. The wallpaper is luxuriously striped, there are ornaments, shades of pink, black and gold with nice tables and seats, and a chandelier. Staff are welcoming, helpful and nice, in an un-Amsterdam-like way, and appear happy to see you no matter how busy they are. It also serves genuine Italian coffees, nice Pukka and fresh mint teas. I would have been happy to stay there all day, especially in the upstairs area where comfortable seats lure you into changing your plans. The cheesecake kept my usually quite talkative friend quiet for some time… My other friend enjoyed a luscious small pie with duck confit, which was just one of the many great savoury dishes: pies, empanadas, lasagne, risotto or whatever they felt like making that day. You can choose from different main courses and a daily soup, which you can either eat there or take away. In addition, it has a great selection of luxury goodies, like champagne, jelly, chutney, olive oil, chocolates, vinegar and more, so you can take some of this great quality feeling with you and enjoy it even more. You will want to return to Opera Prima at least once a week. The opulence and ultimate quality, mixed with the homely and welcoming atmosphere, make you feel like it is exactly the type of place you were looking for. It is probably the best lunch place in Amsterdam at the moment and a great excuse to visit the Kinkerstraat and Ten Kate market. Offer rating 9.5
â€˜You can choose from different main courses and a daily soupâ€™
‘Google must have knowingly given this third-party vendor permission to use its own Google internal network’
Evil by stealth, TWICE TechBit: Sio-Bytes By Simon Owusu
“Don’t Be Evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served – as shareholders and in all other ways – by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains”. Following on from our previous instalment, quoting Google’s IPO statement above, we examine two interesting cases of the company’s ‘evil doings’. Mocality, in Kenya, owned the largest database of Kenyan businesses, which it acquired through a reward scheme. Kenyans provided the information, which Mocality verified for accuracy before paying the information supplier. In September 2011, Google entered the Kenyan market with GKBO (Getting Kenyan Businesses Online), an initiative aimed at helping Kenyan businesses. Following the GKBO launch, Mocality started to receive calls from companies in its database asking for services Mocality did not offer. Mocality checked its database and found that the companies that had called them had been accessed through its database from a specific internet location (IP address) a few days earlier. It appeared that someone was accessing Mocality’s client database and offering them alternative services.
Mocality decided to change its website code, so that anyone accessing its data from that specific IP address would be provided with an alternative business number to call. The fake number would be routed through to a Mocality call centre, enabling the company to find out who was accessing its database. Not long after the code change Mocality received a call from someone representing Google Kenya, who claimed to be working with Mocality. This representative then proceeded to offer various services to the call recipient which, in fact, was Mocality itself. This happened repeatedly, throughout the investigation, and Mocality estimated that, on a daily basis, around 25 of the businesses in its database were contacted and offered services by Google Kenya. In some instances, Google Kenya offered to sell listings from Mocality’s database, which even Mocality did not do, since they offered this as a free service.
‘Google admitted that some of its employees were responsible’ Access from that specific IP address stopped after a few months, yet Mocality still received calls from businesses
claiming they had been offered services by the company. So, Mocality reviewed its database and again found a single IP address to be responsible for a large proportion of the database trawling. This address was traced back to Google India. After setting up the same trap, Mocality received calls from Google representatives in India, selling the same services as before and claiming collaboration with Mocality. It appeared that the Google Kenya operation had now been outsourced to India. Mocality later found out that the calls from Google India were placed by a third-party vendor. Google must have knowingly given this third-party vendor permission to use its own Google internal network to trawl the Mocality database. This proved that this was not just a group of rogue employees at a single location, but something that spanned various Google offices. After some initial denial, Google admitted that some of its employees were responsible, but were quick to point out that they were part of a small group of individuals. The full investigation is detailed here: http:// bit.ly/I3KuqV. Just a few months ago, Google was also accused of illegally placing small files of information on people’s computers, enabling Google to track their online activities. These small files, called ‘cookies’, can be turned off using an internet browser option, making it no longer possible to be tracked in this way. However, Google programmers found
a bug in certain internet browsers that allowed them to circumvent this option, allowing the company to continue tracking people against their wishes. This bug was not exploited by accident, but through clever programming by Google. When this was discovered and pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, Google apologised saying that it did not consider what they were doing to be wrong, but they disabled the code anyway. Google had been almost literally caught with its hand in the cookie jar. In both of these cases, Google clearly knew what it was doing and was making a concerted effort to increase its competitive advantage through its actions. Think about the company’s motivation; Google is built on advertising revenue, which accounted for 96% of the US$ 37.9 billion it made in 2011. One has to question how many more of these activities are still going on undetected. Like an animal backed into a corner, Google is lashing out uncharacteristically in response to threats from Facebook, Amazon and Apple. These three companies have thrown a spanner into the works of the Google business model and we will look at how this has come about in our next issue. In the meantime, Don’t Be Evil!
Where is this in Amsterdam? Answer to: email@example.com
Room 2c film By David King
The Blair Witch Project (1999) The makers of this horror film managed to frighten us with an original twist to the â€˜if you go down to the woods todayâ€™ genre. Made to look like a cheaply budgeted MTV short, it got us shaking with its fidgety camera work, lack of light and, most importantly, the use of our imaginations. Overhyped, yes, but we all love to be scared and this movie does that well.
Room 2c film By dpmotions
Coma (1978) There was a time when giant posters were the stock mass-publicity tool of Hollywood movies. This production generated a particularly eye-catching and intriguing publicity shot. It sets up the entire plot and all we are asked to do is follow the drama that explains the scene portrayed, which still manages to bewilder. Michael Douglas provides the leading edge and Tom Selleck appears without a Ferrari 308.
â€˜Women who drink between one half and one glass of wine or beer per day have a fifty per cent reduced chance of suffering a strokeâ€™
Who watches the watchmen? Part I
By Dirkje Bakker-Pierre
Every day I check the latest news on the internet. There’s a Dutch news website that I probably check at least ten times a day, but don’t ask me why. It’s not as if I really expect some groundbreaking news report every time I look. I mean, I just checked it an hour ago, what could have happened in the meantime? Mostly the headlines consist of nothing of real interest, such as marginal articles on Dutch politics and the economy with a lot of updates on crime-related stories and sad stories that could be called ‘sensational’. What I did notice the other week (22 March) was the headline, ‘ALCOHOL PREVENTS STROKES’. The article reports on an American piece of research, which concludes that women (they didn’t research men) who drink between one half and one glass of wine or beer per day have a fifty per cent reduced chance of suffering a stroke than women who never touch alcohol. The article wasn’t very clear on the effects of alcohol when used in larger quantities, only remarking in the final line, ‘the use of too much wine and beer can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the chance of having a stroke’. With reading behaviour these days consisting of either just browsing headlines or maybe a few lines here and there, I wonder what most people who like a drink would have picked up on. Especially since probably more than fifty
per cent of them haven’t gone beyond the headline and may have told others they know about it while drinking in some nice Amsterdam bar. Other headlines on nu.nl in recent years have included: ‘ALCOHOL MAKES YOU MORE CREATIVE’ (12 February), ‘ALCOHOL IMPROVES PARTS OF MEMORY’ (15 April 2011), ‘ALCOHOL REDUCES RISK OF DIABETES’ (25 May 2010) and ‘ALCOHOL BEAUTIFIES SKIN’ (27 October 2009). ‘Aha!’ you must think; some good news after all :). One conclusion I can draw from my own little research is that there are a lot of reports focused on the benefits of alcohol on our health (mostly from the US). Who is/are actually funding all of this research and why isn’t this money being spent on AIDS, cancer or malaria research, or into other serious diseases? Because, honestly, even if we ‘all’ like drinking, it is already well known for a very, very long time that alcohol is, in the long run and in general, much more damaging than it is beneficial. I can only conclude that the choice of headlines at nu.nl points toward urges to sensationalise news, as well as pleasing drinkers, or they have some clandestine endorsement deal that they aren’t telling us about. I cross-referenced The Guardian’s website and haven’t found a single article on the positive effects of alcohol, but rather quite the opposite.
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GOH GOH further! go! By Peter Fenwick
By Fleur Berkhout
My name is Peter Fenwick and I am a member of the GOH team. My background is very diverse and covers dance theatre, human movement sciences and my continuing study of Chinese medicine. I have developed a method of training that not only motivates you but produces results, and that is what ultimately counts. It combines all aspects of movement to create a functional training method, which not only focuses on heart rate and condition but stability and core muscles. Together, these further enhance the effects of weight loss and muscle toning. The sessions have been designed in such a way that they consolidate movement in all three planes of existence, using the kinetic chain.
My name is Fleur Berkhout and I am a nutritionist. I am very happy and proud to be the third member of the professional team that has created and put into practice the GOH concept. I studied nutrition and diet, and possess a degree in Nutrition & Health Care. My previous work has been hospital-based and I am now in private practice, where I help people lose weight and combine effective food habits with sports. I found out eventually that this is where my heart lies as a nutritionist.
We, the GOH team – David Billy (Physiotherapist), Peter Fenwick (Personal Trainer) and Fleur Berkhout (Nutritionist) – are delighted to introduce you to a full-service programme that caters for your health and well-being goals.
firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/GOHconcept +31(0)6 44519526 (David Billy) +31(0)6 51890832 (Peter Fenwick) www.billysfysio.nl www.fenwickpersonaltraining.nl
Being overweight or physically unfit affects the two most important things in life: health and self-esteem. What people most need, therefore, is good coaching in both eating and physical activity habits (and, of course, willpower and motivation). The GOH concept combines the expertise of a physiotherapist, a personal trainer and a nutritionist. This is what makes it so special and complete. As a nutritionist, I can teach people how to adjust their food habits, so they can more easily reach their personal goals. Besides giving food advice, I can also work on people’s discipline and self-esteem, enabling them to feel good about themselves and making it much easier for them to keep up the good work.
The Gold Room By Denson Pierre
Season reviews and player nominations for honours are afoot or already completed and it as good a time as any for us to consider players who have missed out on selection in the FFG-CL but who may be stars, or stars in the making. One position played in football which, if watched closely, turns out to be the most spectacular is that of goalkeeper. One only has to stand inside an official-sized goal frame to realise the vast space professionals are meant to protect with what is, in real terms, 0% room for error. The entire objective of football is to get the ball into the net (getting the entire ball over the goal line, strictly speaking). Ultimately, one person stands in the way of all efforts on goal. Goalkeepers are usually athletic eccentrics, since theirs is a job in which relatively long passages of play, in all weather conditions, can pass without their direct involvement. When they do become involved, it is invariably a crucial intervention. The points tallies of goalkeepers in the FFG-CL reveal that Joe Hart of Manchester City is leading, Petr Cech (Chelsea) is in second place and the truly impressive Wojciech
Szczesny (Arsenal) is third. I suggest that the Poleâ€™s performances have been the best overall in the Premier League this season, given that Hart has had an easier time with an awesome defensive midfield bank and very good defenders in front of him, while Cech, despite the upheavals at Chelsea, remains a mature master. Szczesny, on the other hand, is the new, opinionated, young gun(ner) with all the attributes to already place him in the category of â€˜spectacularly brilliantâ€™. Should his price indication in this fantasy football competiton remain reasonable and the promise of Arsenal improving as a unit in the real world continues, then I foresee Szczesny being very popular with managers next season. Before the next campaign begins, we will have the opportunity to see this young man during Euro 2012, exhibiting his truly impressive powers of concentration (he often appears to anticipate actions, including the angle and pace of attempts on goal, before they are made), which make his supremely athletic saves even more assured. It is my feeling that, with home-nation, emotionally charged support, Szczesny is unlikely to disappoint and will inspire a new generation of wannabe goalkeepers as he makes his very difficult job appear so very easy. He is elegant, powerful and excites while practising his sporting craft.
Wojciech Szczesny - Arsenal
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