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The first snow

In the Netherlands, we’re used to all kinds of weather. Our summers can be both wet and cold or awfully hot and dry as your average desert. Our autumn this year, however, is one of a kind. Earlier this month, we (nearly?) broke a heat record for the month November, and last Friday, snow set in.

Snow in a developed, Western country like the Netherlands? Apparently a big problem. A total traffic jam length of 800 kilometres, power-outs in parts of the country (Mark, you were lucky) and many many complainers was the result of a bit of snow. The lights in our home were pulsating because they needed our power elsewhere. Cycling was a very silly experience, as you either didn’t move at all while trying to move rapidly or moved much more than you intended. Cars experienced this same issue, judging by the speed they passed our house.

The contrast is particularly lovely: adults groan, children play. Winter’s coming, people!

iPod tax

I’m a lover of music. I buy my albums, cherish them and put them neatly onto my shelves. I buy the “special” editions because I get more music (for, admittedly, more money, but I can take the hit). I make sure I rip them properly to my hard-disc, that it’s all tagged properly and that I can go through my complete collection easily. I listen to that music a lot. It’s why I bought an iPod back in August last year.

When you live in the Netherlands, you’re used to some crazy stuff. Drugs legislation is an easy one, but there’s a lot more. It amazes people every single day, those from abroad and those who’ve been here for as long as they live. “Terrorists” are a Dutchman’s worst fear, but in most cases the government takes the cake. I guess I’m okay with living here.

Sometimes, stuff happens. People get together, forge insanity, sharpen it with media attention and stab right through my heart and that of many others. It will not necessarily be new to you—I recall myself ranting about this to a select few some months back—but apparently some Dutch society of music rights protection (mind you, this is not the official Buma/Stemra) got a plan through to throw many euros of tax over MP3 players. This can be as pricey as € 25 over the price of my 20GB iPod (and even more on the new 30GB and 60GB versions!). The money goes to this crowd of bright minds.

It is on moments like this that I shake my head in despair. I paid a lot of money to get my music. Many people do the same and may want an iPod just as well. I guess you can fill in the lines. What’s the next prey? Hard-discs? Of a terabyte? Thank you, so-called “music rights protector”, and good bye.