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Archive for September, 2009

Two KLM posters from the fifties combined (*) with a Google Earth view of Amsterdam and 7 examples of cut-out, non montaged real street photographs of oversized Dutch wooden shoes (klompen) that can be found in all tourists areas of the town outside the shops that sell tourist gadgets; tourist like to pose for their family  or friends in these disproportioned footwear; an uncountable number of such photographs can be found in personal collection all over the world as a reminder of a visit to the city of Amsterdam

Two KLM airway posters from the fifties combined (*) with a Google Earth view of Amsterdam and seven examples of cut-out, non montaged real street photographs of oversized Dutch wooden shoes (klompen) that can be found in all tourists areas of the town, outside the shops that sell tourist gadgets. Tourist like to pose standing in them for a picture – by their family or friends. An uncountable number of such photographs of people in disproportioned Dutch footwear must be around in personal collection all over the world as a reminder of a visit to the city of Amsterdam. It keeps me wondering, was it really fun? Did they have any association wearing these big clogs, like the word ‘sabot’ for wooden feetwear of workers in French, from which comes the word ‘sabotage’? The Dutch wooden shoes, ‘klompen’, have mostly disappeared from daily  life in the Low Countries, though some farmers and workers in the fields may still use them. The footwear was meant only for outside and would be left at the porch, so one was walking inside on ‘socks-feet’ (op kousenvoeten). ‘Klompen’ for the Dutch themselves associates strongly with no-fuss, sometimes even rough behavior, something fragile being trodden by a sabot. The most frequently used Dutch expression referring to ‘klompen’ is “dat kun je op je klompen aanvoelen” (you can sense that with your wooden-shoes on). Click picture for full size view of the collage. 

Splendid weather yesterday,  a late September saturday afternoon, it made my friend and me decide to walk to the Lindengracht market at the other side of the town center. So, the Red Light district, the major shopping streets and one of  the soft-drug tourism arteries, the Haarlemmerstraat had to be crossed. These are areas which I always try to avoid when going by bicycle, but now we were on a social-geographic survey of these parts of town, which I had not seen for quite a while.The streets were bustling with tourists and their non-directional pace of walking: halting to study their maps without concern for the other pedestrians and cyclists – often in the middle of the road; whimsically crossing as if the streets were empty; framing their camera pictures while forgetting about the world outside their viewer – causing frequent near accidents; being absorbed in consuming their walk-about-lunch; trying to keep group cohesion despite the fragmented Amsterdam public sidewalks with their thresholds and anti-car parking poles. A mixed aroma of exhausting fumes, hashish and the smell of cheap pizza touches our nostrils as we manage to proceed slowly in the direction of our evening meal shopping market in the Jordaan neighborhood.

I montaged two modernistic tourist photographs in this illustration, found on Flickr made by what seems to be amn under the alias 'Urbandiscount' who has a talent for catching the scenery beyond the regular flat tourist pictures (*). Click Picture for full size view.

I montaged two modernistic tourist photographs in this illustration, photographs I found on Flickr, made by a man posting under the alias ‘Urbandiscount’; a photographer with a talent for catching the atmosphere, better than most regular flat tourist photographs (**). Click picture for full size view.

Two views in one of the yourist crowds in the Warmoesstraat

Amsterdam, Warmoesstraat, at two different moments montaged in one view, showing the regular tourist crowds. Click picture to study the text and images on the sign posts.

As this walk was meant a survey as well, I scan the street fronts of the houses and shops for apparent changes, and there were many. The main trend is not typical for the inner town of Amsterdam, but maybe more outspoken and dramatic than elsewhere. Most of the surviving shops that had some direct function for the life of the locals are gone: grocery and green grocers, the traditional coffee-burning and grinding shops, tobacconists, hardware shops, dry cleaning and the like, with one exception, the bakery shops, the last ones seem to survive all modern massification and monopolization and are thriving with new tourist customers. Venues like the open front walk in ‘coffeeshops’ are examples of replacements. Coffeeshops (the Dutch way of spelling it) whose business is in fact selling hashish and offering smoking facilities for those who claim to smoke it pure… (so the anti-smoke law for public spaces does not apply). Waves of  loud music pour from these establishments and there seem to be no more local residents left at the floors above who could rightfully protest against the reproduced sound levels. Shops specializing in ‘recreational drugs’ paraphernalia pop up with regular intervals along our trajectory, also tattoo and piercing studios, male and female lingerie boutiques  and sex cinemas. The condom shop is still there (called ‘Condomerie’) it exists already for twenty years in the Warmoesstraat, once started as a fun idea in  one of the groundfloor shops of the then squatted housing block ‘Blauwlakenblok’, developing into a regular business enterprise soon after. A bit further on, in the direction of the train station, many gay bars, hotels and ‘darkrooms’ (mainly male) have settled in the last two decades. A historical function one may say, as the Warmoeststraat has done the sexual catering for both the sailors and local inhabitants for centuries. What is different though – compared to the past – is the density of such facilities now, and the fact that homosexual services are openly promoted. House after house in the Warmoesstraat and surroundings have been taken over by a ‘troika’ of the recreational sex and drug industry combined with what we Dutch call ‘horeca’ (snackbars, restaurants, cafés). The ‘horeca’ is there mainly to supply the armies of ‘lurkers’ – those who are just watching – with an alibi to have a drink and snack, wander around and stare. Step by step this troika has pushed out services providing for the daily needs of local residents. I still remember the area as a mixture of cafés, restaurants, sex business, small workshops and family living. I have not seen statistics yet on the dwindling number of normal resident houses or apartments in the Red Light district and adjacent areas, but that it is strongly diminishing is something anyone “can feel with their wooden-shoes on.”

"The pink margin of dark Amsterdam,  rise of the homosexual bar-culture in Amsterdam 1930-1970" a publication from 1992 by Gert Hekma and his wide circle of informants. With a map showing the location of bars over 60 years.

“The pink margin of dark Amsterdam, rise of the homosexual bar-culture in Amsterdam 1930-1970” a 1992 publication by Gert Hekma (University of Amsterdam) and his wide circle of informants, with a map showing the location of bars over 60 years. Each dark triangle in the rosettes on the map represents a decade. At the left a facade drawing I found in the municipal archive of Warmoesstraat 20, where from 1955 to 1971 Hotel Tiemersma with its pre-darkroom facilities had its abode. I have slightly colored the facade drawing because it would otherwise hardly be visible. To be able to see the details you have to click the picture..

What was – only forty years ago – a very much needed sexual emancipation of suppressed gay people, has grown into an industry concentrating to such a level in certain areas of town, that other social and economical functions are marginalized by it, or cease to exist. In a very instructive little book “De roze rand van donker Amsterdam” (the pink margin of dark Amsterdam) delivered by Gert Hekma of the University of Amsterdam in 1992, one can read about the very slow rise of “a homosexual bar-culture” in the period 1930-1970 and the inventive ways of gay people  to congregate in times that homosexuality was a thing not even mentioned. It is only in the fifties that the worse forms of police prosecution are over and several membership clubs start to offer some sort of safe heaven for (mostly male) homosexuals to meet, like the drab DOK cellar at the Singel (in ‘gebouw Odeon’) seen – once forty years ago – as the biggest gay dancing in Europe. The Warmoesstraat and its surroundings do have over half a century of history  in supplying gay entertainment. A pioneering place was Hotel Tiemersma, once a tobacco shop at number 20 of the Warmoestraat, started by a sailor man Sako Jan Tiemersma. From the early fifties the hotel also had a tiny bar (without a permit at first) with a permissive barkeeper that allowed some forms of intimacy. The hotel rooms had no lock and the clientèle also behaved with little restrictions and a kind of ‘darkrooms’ avant-la-lettre existed there. The hotel was a meeting point for the early leather scene (‘leerwereld’ in Dutch, which is a funny word as it also means ‘world of learning’), a scene that heralded the shift from the feminine tot the macho-type of homosexual behavior. The Amsterdam homo community before WWII had its  division in active penetrating males (called ‘tules’) and passive receiving feminine males (called ‘nichten’). It was a community in which sexual partners from the twilight zone of heterosexuality also participated as ‘tules’. With the advent of the leather scene this attitude changed, as  Hekma puts it “The ‘homos’ now could fornicate each other and horniness, to be satisfied, needed the outside world much less.” [my free rendering of his sentence on page 73; tj.] Any nowadays sex tourist can find the new gay-meeting points by a quick search on the internet, zooming in at leisure to specialized areas like the Warmoesstraat and reads about: – Argos at number 95 “The oldest and possibly most famous leather bar in Amsterdam. Sexy, cruisey and heavy. S.O.S. (Sex on Sundays)”; – Dirty Dicks at number 86 “A late night leather bar. This place really lives up to it’s name”; – Stable Master at number 23 “Bar and Hotel famous for it’s jack off / wanking / masturbation parties in the downstairs bar held regularly.”

Indirect depiction of the dark room phenomenon a sling and smeared walls exposed by  a flash light from a camera.

Indirect depiction of the dark room phenomenon without real action: a sling and smeared walls exposed by a flash light from a camera. In the middle a reflection in a puddle of a Warmoestraat gay bar by a talented photographer I found on Flickr using the long alias name “AmsterS@m – The Wicked Reflectah’s photostream” (***)

When emancipation of homosexuals ends up in a commercialized segregation of leisure and pleasure with expanding specialized zones clustering around Amstel-Rembrandtplein-Utrechtsestraat-Reguliersdwarsstraat, Warmoestraat-Zeedijk, and Kerkstraat-Leidesplein,  I am tempted to ask what about “equality” as one of the important substances of my own idea of what emancipation is about? Why not have fun all together, beyond the tender and gender divide? Why this self-imposed social Apartheid? Also, what about the level of, say ‘homosexual’ emancipation and ‘tolerance’ of drugs in all the countries of origin of the hordes of sex and drugs tourists filling the Amsterdam inner town? Did they vote Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Merkel, Putin and thus can’t they smoke a joint at home or in a pub in peace? Is it the Pope, an imman, a rural evangelic fundamentalist that keeps them from doing or at least inquiring about unknown sensual territories at home? And … most important for us locals, is the blunt commercial exploitation through which the tourists are paraded in Amsterdam, – with some side-tripping to Anne Frank and Vincent van Gogh – something we should be proud of? Is that what we want to present to the world? Or is it this, what is most typical Dutch after all, only about making a good buck… on anybody using any opportunity?

Recent Indonesian history depiction of the arrival of Cornelis Houtman at Bantam in 1596

Recent Indonesian history depiction of the arrival of the brothers Cornelis and Frederik de Houtman at the Bantam (west coast of Java) in 1596, the picture does not show the firing of ship canons at the native settlements  as a result of animosity between the locals, the Portugese and the Dutch. The middle picture is a drawing of the pepper plant from the VOC archives, at the right Robert Jasper Grootveld (1977) while talking about the origin of Dutch drug-trade and the importance to keep everything ‘droog’ (dry),  the origin of the word ‘drugs’.

“DROOG, here in the Netherlands, is the most important word.” All the coffeeshop signs with cannabis leaves, in the streets we passed through – this saturday afternoon  September 2009-  made me think back at that sentence which starts a brilliant and humorous discourse by Amsterdam’s city shaman Robert Jasper Grootveld back in 1977.  Grootveld (1932 – 2009) spoke about Amsterdam’s historical role as a market for spices, dried plants and herbs – from far away places like the East Indies – in a documentary movie by filmmaker Louis van Gasteren: “Allemaal Rebellen” (all of them rebels) about Amsterdam radicals of the fifties and sixties. Droog in Dutch is ‘dry’ in English and most lexicographers point to the possible origin of the the word ‘drugs’ in English, ‘drogue’ in French, ‘droga’ in Italian, ‘Drogen’ in German and so on, from the Dutch word ‘droog’.  “Dry,  here in the Netherlands, is the most important word, a land that had to be drained from a swamp (…) that did send its sailors to the other part of the world – whereby half the crew did not make it back- which was a human offering! … why all that? What you could find there, was something extra, to give some spicy jolt to life: pepper, mace, nutmeg and other plantlike products … and there was only one way to get that from there to here, namely by keeping it: dry (droog).” In this lively interview Grootveld reminds us of the staple-market economy of Amsterdam in the 17th century and the importance within that constellation of – what he properly calls – the “drug-trade” (drugshandel). Grootveld is not an academic, his associations and actions do have a strong persistency nevertheless. The Dutch involvement in opium trade from 1613 up to 1942, during the 19th century even a monopoly of the state from the beginning of the 19th century onward, is something Grootveld certainly knew, but does not mention during this interview. In 1928 the law curtailing the use of  opium and other narcotic drugs is proclaimed in the Netherlands, though at the same time keeping the opium trade in the colonies of the Dutch East Indies outside of these regulations. Ewald Vanvugt has written an extensive book on this matter “Wettig Opium” (Lawful opium) in 1985, no translations exists in English, but there is a short interesting online English reference by Dirk Teeuwen (2007), about Dutch state opium trade.

Natives smoking opium in Batavia (Djakarta) 1925 and a view of the Jl. Salemba opium factory in Batavia, 1925 with machines for mechanical filling of tubes with opium.

Natives smoking opium in Batavia (Djakarta) 1925 and a view of the Dutch Jl. Salemba opium factory in Batavia, 1925 with machines for mechanical filling of tubes with opium. The opium production and trade was a Dutch state monopoly starting in 1827 in the East Indies and lasting till 1942.

Back from sidestepping and continuing our trip.. As we walked the streets and struggled through the tourist crowd, I had a short fantasy of my own, being a telepathic guide, able to impress my views of the town and its history on each of the leisurely wandering tourists that catched my eye:

“What you see is the product of Double Dutch standards, moral sermons at home, covering up far away exploitive practices. Like our prime-minister Jan Peter Balkenende who does not get tired to preach about the Golden Age and the ‘spirit of enterprise’ of the Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) which we should try to regain today, forgetting to mention the black pages of history of the trading and maltreatment of black slaves, let alone the life of the 17th century poor in the Low Countrries. The historical ‘freedom of trade’, which found once in the city of Amsterdam one of its important bases,  was nothing more than the freedoms one can allow oneself when making bad deals – for the natives – backed up by warships with canons. Half the number of poor souls that were crimped into VOC service as sailors died on their voyage to the east. Recruitment officers would round up bums in taverns and on the street, even imprison them, till the moment their ship sailed away. The Dutch that nowadays like to praise themselves for their development aid to poor countries, still fail to recognize that they were fighting colonial wars up to 1961, officially called – to this very day – pacifying ‘police actions’ (“politionele acties” in Indonesia 1945 – 1949 against the Indonesian War of Independence)… “

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende opening the exhibition "Power and Glory" shipping in the Golden Age, in March 2008 in the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam

At the left a (not montaged) photograph of  Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende opening the exhibition “Power and Glory: shipping in the Golden Age”,  March 2008 in the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam; overlayed at the right with an allegoric painting commemorating a century (1602 – 1702) of VOC (United East Indies Company) business in Amsterdam  by the painter Nicolaas Verkolje (who made  in the same period a painting depicting Ovidius’s “The theft of Europe”, the ‘theft of Asia’ was a theme far beyond the imagination of any European artist of that time). The painting is part of the Rijksmuseum collection. Click picture for a full size view. Note at the right hand side of the painting two cherubs with a cornucopia from which spices pour: cinnamon and nutmeg, the last is even a tiny bit hallucinatory when used in big quantities.

As it is just a fantasy, I do not get out of breath and my audience does not walk away from the historical hootch their guide is offering,  I even manage – for myself – to make a desperate link between things of the past and the present, between the historical void in the brains of the oversized tourist crowds and my own agitated feelings of having lost something, the town I knew, the town I liked… and I explain to my imaginary audience once more, before taking a side street out of the Red Light district:

“The 17th century Dutch trade mentality still lingers on in the veins of the city,  sips through the pavement,  leaks into the cellars, pollutes the drinking water, but its object has changed. It is is not any more wealth gathered in faraway countries brought back to the Netherlands, instead, there is a progressively developing reversal: tourists flying en masse to Amsterdam and trading the city  away. The wooden shoes, once the trademark of this country, its firmness, its endurance in the fight  against wind, rain and sea, have grown to an absurd size and – as in a fairy tale – they fit only the tourists, who have great fun banging around in them, not on purpose, just unconscious of the fragility of the city’s civil structures they encounter.”

Crossing the main streets to the Central Station, The Damrak and Nieuwe Zijds Voorburgwal, brings us out of the Red Light district and the number of sex facilities decreases, though the occurrence of coffeeshops only diminishes when we reach the more classy areas of what is called ‘de grachtengordel’ (the girdle of canals). This has a historical reason as the old city ordinances prohibited the construction of alleys and houses of the poor in this area. Also here something has fundamentally changed lately: terraces have sprang up at the most odd and unhandy places, leaving even less space to walk as in the traditional sidewalk layout of this part of town. Where from the fifties onward cars had invaded the inner city and lined all the canals to supply the needed parking space, a new and more profitable development can be noticed: tiny terraces scattered on the sidewalks, along the waterfront and at the sides of bridges. As it was a very warm and sunny September afternoon, all terraces were filled to the brink and so the glasses of the customers, making what was once a quiet zone into yet another bustling boulevard, a scenery even further enlivened by a parade of private pleasure boats in the canals with their ostensibly wealthy and joyful drinking passengers and the traditional big tourist boats maneuvering in between them…

Canal side frenzy with neo-colonial rickshaw services, rentable canalbikes and terraces filling each empty corner.

It can not be helped, describing the scenery of  the overcrowded inner town of Amsterdam, ends up in a discouraging and irritating litany  …  we did arrive in the end at the Lindengracht market and that was not a happy ending. I could have known it, the gentrification of the Jordaan neighborhood have downgraded the variety of foodstuff and upgraded the prices. It did not compete in any way with our regular trip to the Albert Cuyp Market in the 19th century neighborhood of  De Pijp. “It looks like a market, but it is only a visual suggestion of it” was my friend’s comment.

On our way back – this time evading the Red Light district – I pondered over the question whether there is any limit to which extend a town can be consumed? What it is that needs to be done to alert people about the negative effects of oversized tourism. A comparative study of mass tourism might be an idea. Paris, Rome and London certainly are not a model because they are much bigger in size and city layout than Amsterdam.  Venezia, Firenze  are smaller but have a much more cultural oriented clientèle. The Amsterdam city authorities are far from even envisaging such a studious exercise, they may try and shift away the focus from sex and drugs to culture (there are many reports about that), but whatever their fancy, growth of the number of tourists is their uncontested prime policy. Debating tourist policy is anyhow a very unpopular subject with many of my fellow citizens. There are those who do not care because they do not live in the city center or are fortunate enough to find themselves in some of the non-tourists corners. Next comes the economic argument, that it brings a lot of necessary income for the town.  As I do not sell beer or drugs and do not own a hotel or restaurant I can see very little direct profit coming my way and indirectly I only notice the rising of municipal taxes over the years as I am supposed to live on what is called a  A-locations and taxes are determined by real-estate market value. Nobody has seen it fit yet to study the nuisance of the tourist and party-industry in the inner town and translated that in a tax reduction equal to the level of suffering inflicted on the inhabitants. Is it unacceptable egoism that makes me wish to exclude all those suburbia prisoners that are craving for a real city experience and buy a temporal escape ticket to Amsterdam?

"Hands of my town" (blijf van mijn stad af) somewhere near the Jordaan on our walk I saw a poster with this text

“Hands of my town” (blijf van mijn stad af) somewhere near the Jordaan during our walk I saw a poster with this slogan and I thought at first “Ah! these are people which are fed up also with the down side of the leisure industry.” WRONG! At home I searched for their web site and soon discovered that this is a local pressure group that wants less limitations on terraces, red light district, and other rules regulating inner city life. They are the organizers of a recent ‘drink inn’ to protest against a new local rule that forbids people on terraces to gather and drink while standing (an odd rule that has some rationale in exceptional cases where a whole street will be filled with a drinking crowd). They plan to hold a city referendum turning back all kind of regulations they see as limiting their freedom. Little can be read in their manifesto about neighbors who need some sort of rest, some sort of subdued city silence and one wonders where all the signatories of their petition are living. Certainly not straight above a popular terrace frequented by a “freedom loving” crowd, is my guess. When you read Dutch you may enjoy their argumentation that sounds similar to the good old VOC time rethoric of our prime-minister: “Amsterdam, once the center of the world. Where Rembrandt harvested his fame, Michiel de Ruyter (a Dutch admiral) began his voyages, the great philosophers Descartes and Spinoza wrote their most important works…” Well let me stop here, enough nonsense as De Ruyter was mainly fighting wars and was not a discoverer, which is suggested, Descartes was traveling a lot and only spent two years in Amsterdam, and Spinoza had to flee Amsterdam after conflict with religious and city authorities, doing his writing in Rijnsburg, Voorburg and The Hague. What to think about the concluding paragraph on the city of Amsterdam: “A fantastic place where especially freedom of the way of life and enterprise is signed on its banner for centuries” (Een fantastische plek waar juist vrijheid in leven en ondernemen al eeuwen lang hoog in het vaandel staat). The relativity of the notion of freedom must have escaped this bunch of happy hour drinkers, who direct most of their person oriented anger at the head of the inner city council. Click the picture to have a look at their web site.

Is there some hope in recent developments of  Dutch cities next to the Belgian border, that have closed all coffeeshops and organized even a kind of razzias against cross-border drug tourism? No, in spite of all my observations and negative appreciation of the Amsterdam drug tourist scene, I dislike this abrupt and oppressive option. Like the homosexual emancipation there has also been an emancipation of the drug user, from a persecuted criminal to a tolerated recreational consumer. The liberating mind expanding aspects of soft drugs as formulated by idealists of the sixties may have long faded away and turned into hard core business, but the basic assumptions remains valid: to be master of one’s own mind and body and decide by one’s own reasoning instead of external coercion.

There are many options and levels of steering, controlling, and arguing which could bring the transborder soft drug users and the international leisure industry back to acceptable proportions and some sort of balance with the social environment they share with others. When only those who are profiting have a say, when authorities are deaf for the complaints of their citizens and turn a blind eye on the degrading effects of mass tourism, one has to wait for the occurence of some sort of tragic incident before the extravaganza of oversized tourism, of Klompenmania, will be countered.

 

Maybe we should replicate Amsterdam a few times and post it on each continent in the appropriate theme park. A pioneering exercise has already be done in Japan, Nagasaki with the Dutch Theme Park Huis ten Bosch, which has its canals, cosy European alleys and a detailed replica of the Central Station in Amsterdam (this by the way is the second time that this building has been replicated in Japan, Tokyo Central Station

Maybe we should replicate Amsterdam a few times and post it on each continent in an appropriate theme park. A pioneering exercise has already be done in Japan, Nagasaki with the Dutch Theme Park Huis ten Bosch, which has its canals, cosy European alleys and a detailed replica of the Central Station in Amsterdam (*****)  

Maybe it is time for the ’emancipation’ of  city dwellers, recognizing their  “equal rights” on the use of the city, not treating them anymore as Disney actors in their own town, appreciating them for their living knowledge of their house, their street, their neighborhood, their city. The first step toward a city dwellers emancipation is the recognition that injustice has been done, that it is time for measuring tourism, to fit it to the existing scale of a city and not the other way around.

Epilogue

The association in the article with Robert Jasper Grootveld and his discourse on ‘droog’ and ‘drugs’ may seem somehow beside the point  for those who have not witnessed the rise of  the recreational drug tourism in Amsterdam from the early sixties onward. So I feel a need to explain why it is essential for me. Grootveld has played an important dual role in the history of Amsterdam as a soft drug tourist center, both as one of the first street campaigner against the smoking of tobacco and the dangers of cancer, and as a propagator of the smoking of marihuana, instead. Tobacco was for him not only a health danger, but also an example of of consumer manipulation. He aimed his playful actions at first against the big tobacco industries and their psychological tricks – their “hidden persuaders” – that lured people into satisfying needs constructed by the advertisement industry. His utmost primitive duplicated magazine “De Hippe Zweter” was pointing to the book “Hidden persuaders” By Vance Packard (1957). His actions – an odd mix of dadaism and ‘urban shamanism’ – were aimed at “the liberation of the addicted consumer of tomorrow.”  Grootveld’s actions fell in fertile ground. The Amsterdam scene of the sixties was a constant turmoil in which dissidents from the artistic, political and esoteric realms mixed. The people involved came from different backgrounds but still had something strongly in common: egalitarian and communal principles. This  has laid the basis for all kinds of social movements that – over the years – freed Dutch society from its authoritarian straightjacket.  It is unfortunate  that by now this heritage  has been spoiled and the  former liberating principles only remain as an “imago”. Grootveld’s vision of  1962, a “Magic Amsterdam” as a center of the “Western asphalt jungle”, was already taken over by KLM and the Dutch Tourist Agency (VVV) in the mid sixties and started the influx of beatniks and hippies and  other ‘sleeping-bag-tourists’. Only an echo of it rings in the 21st century advertisement agency slogan “I Am Amsterdam” commissioned by the municipality, a faked tourist industry imago that is eagerly consumed by a new generation of  ‘addicted city hopping  consumers’.

xxx

 This photograph by Cor Jaring (****) is from 1971 and shows the boat ‘De Witte Raaf’ (the White Raven) moored straight opposite the local Amsterdam police station of Kattenburg, selling marihuana plants, for one guilder each. We see Kees Hoekert at the left and on the right (with a spade and ‘klompen’) Robert Jasper Grootveld. It is a playful subversive enterprise under the name “Lowland Weed Company.” At that time someone had studied the Dutch anti-opium law and had discovered that it banned only explicitly the dried leaves of this plant. Growing plants were not subject to this law and it is through this loophole in the jurisdiction that the wide  use of  this soft-drug and the soft drug tolerance policy of Dutch authorities came into existence. Grootveld who had been active as an anti-smoke-magician fighting the big Tobacco industry in his own unique ways (because of cancer danger of regular cigarets) had been using and propagating marihuana (instead) from early on. It is at the end of the sixties and the very beginning of the seventies, with the influx of hippies and other young people traveling around cheaply by hitchhiking, that a new form of tourism started to develop in Amsterdam. At first the young people often slept outdoors on the steps of the National Monument at the Dam Square and in the Vondelpark. Outdoor sleeping was soon regulated by limiting the permitted areas and providing cheap accommodation called ‘sleep-inns’, a kind of hip youth hostels, that often provide some cultural program at the side. Youth clubs came into existence, some of them squatted at first but soon legalized, others initiated by the city government who tried to get the youngsters of the street by offering them music and dancing halls. Local cannabis production (nederwiet) was sold in small quantities in these venues. The whole multi-million  recreational drug industry originates in this chain of sub-cultural events. 

Almost four decades lay between the “Lowland Weed Comapny” of Kees Hoekert, Robert Jasper Grootveld and others, run from a crummy houseboat, a little bit offside the town center,  and new cannabis businessmen like Arjan Roskam and Olaf van Tulder. The businessmen own  a chain of  enterprises with different outlets: coffeeshops, a clothing and accessory line and luxurious rental apartments in the town center (several coffeeshop owners have started to diversify their businesses, in case the tolerance policy will change). There is a Youtube movie of the opening ceremony of their sumptuous coffeeshop at the Haarlemmerstraat (opposite the historical building of the Dutch West Indian Company). First speaker is August  de Loor, a former street-corner worker helping hard-drug-addicts for decades, now presented in the movie as a “Drugsexpert”, his speech is about the legal front door for the customers, the half legal shady back door where the drugs come in and the threat of a possible change in the liberal soft drug policy of the government. The proud owners explain the decorations in the different rooms of their new establishment, including their own depiction in Delft Blue tiles, dressed up  as “King of Cannabis” and “Lieutenant Admiral of  Greenhouse.”

In january this year a new coffeeshop (from the Greenhouse chain) has opened in the Haarlemmerstraat, where the owners have chosen to display themselves on the walls in colonial settings in newly made ’Delft Blue’ tile tableaus. The shop owners and managers can be seen on deck of a 17th century sailing ships. A banner text is partly visible and seems to read: “…those who have the history … will shape … the future.” In a Youtube video owner Arjan Gorter speaks about “the inspirational history of Amsterdam in the Golden Age” which has been brought back in the interior. It is as if I hear Prime Minister Balkenende speak similar words, about a national past that never existed.

———–

(*) The two KLM posters that have been fused in the left hand part of the Klompenmania collage can be found on the web site of  the “Urban Nebula” study group. The site has some flash animation installed which does not allow me to make a precise link, you have to search the checkerboard of poster details to find your way.
(**) Warmoesstraat pictures by “urbandiscount” posted on
Flickr.
(***) “Some guys and a Sexshop on the Warmoesstraat, reflected in a puddle in Amsterdam”, artistic photographs of Amsterdam reflexions in rain puddles  by “AmsterS@m – The Wicked Reflectah’s photostream” posted on
Flickr
(****)
Web site of photographer of Cor Jaring, a must for anyone interested in Amsterdam history  as seen form the margin.
(*****) The
website of Huis ten Bosch Nagasaki can be found here.
This by the way is the second time that this building (Amsterdam central Station) has been replicated in Japan, Tokyo Central Station, dating from 1914 is somewhat freely modeled by the Japanese architect Tatsuno Kingo after the creation of P.J.H. Cuypers from 1889, though ther are archiecture historians who deny it; I personally know both station well and must say that I was struck by their ananlogies from the first moment I entered the Tokyo version.

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on the internet you are visible like a car on a high road

on the internet you are constantly visible like a car on a high road

1) the ip-number of your connections to the internet

2) the operation system of your computer (Windows, Mac, Linux, …)

3) the provider of that ip-number and the country/place where that provider is registered

4) the kind of web browser you are using

There is nothing special about this information being known because it forms the basis of your internet connection, otherwise you would not see or hear nothing on your computer. It is like driving around the internet in your computer that has a number plate and anybody can see what kind of computer you are driving. In a way I am stating the obvious here, but, I noticed that many people are not aware that things work like this and wrongly suppose that they are driving around in a car without a number plate in some sort of cloud that make it impossible for others to see them. Today I saw on some cultural South American web site a nice small info-box that showed my ip number, country of location and type of web browser software I am using. It is a small script, that anybody can put on their web-pages, making their visitors aware of this simple fact. Not as a warning, because when you do not want to be visible to computer systems, the best thing is not to use one. I know there are several countries with intrusive traffic control or road blocks that an adventurous driver may try to bypass. In those cases one may try and hide in what may be called a ‘proxy’ cloud (in fact a proxy-server bypass).

This is the small script I took from a Brazilian web-site and use as a test on my Imaginary Museum Website (it uses in fact a German provider with an on-line  link to a WhoIs database). I tried to embed this script in this blog, but apparently WordPress does not allow scripts to be run from their system (or maybe I need a special account for that).

<script src=’http://servicos.morelhp.com/status125x125-en.js&#8217; charset=’ISO-8859-1′ type=’text/javascript’></script>

The actual script called: status125x125-en.js looks like this

O=”%3E%0D%%3B%20%3A%2%3D%%20%2http%3A0A%3Cle226qupx01252in”.split(‘’);Q=”document.write(unescape(%3Cahref22 //morelhp.com/2007/04/status.htmltarget22_blank divtit Coloqueot%3BSTATUSotnoseusite/blog.sty cursorpoterbackground-imageurl87 //www.wieistmeeip.de/ip-address/79widthheightmarg0paddg0px /div a/%3E));”;o=” ”;for(J=14;J>-1;J–)Q=Q.split(o.charAt(J)).join(O[J]);eval(Q.replace(//g,'”‘));

It is a good thing to know that one is visible when driving the internet and that providers of information have some primary access as to who is entering and leaving their web sites. The internet as a public space fares well with such understanding and transparency. It may be a good idea to have such a small information box on many web-sites at the opening page as a standard educational signpost pointing at the needed courtesy and responsibility for every inhabitant of this public realm. Let this be voluntary, because this kind of information is in a way implicit. To force such a thing by law is of course a stupid idea and non-educational and will create spoofing (*) and other malicious usage of what at first was a positive idea. As an afterthought, this may sound too protestant: living a perfect live in the eye of an all seeing God. Dark alleys exist as well on the internet – as in the real world itself – and if they were not there in abundance, we might be tempted to create them…
DarAlleys

———-
(*) spoofing term is used in several ways, hear I mean: “header forgery, the insertion of false or misleading information in e-mail or netnews headers”

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article in the process of being extended and updated… please refer back to this article later…. 20/9/09 tj.

Op 2 september 2009 schreef ik onderstaande brief aan de leden van het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens. Op 16 september kreeg ik een beleefd en niets zeggend antwoord. Meer of minder had ik ook niet verwacht. Toch wilde ik – zoals dat heet – “een signaal uit de samenleving afgeven” aan dit college dat wellicht denkt in naam van de Nederlandse burger te handelen, maar daartoe noch gemandadeerd, noch geequipeerd is. Mijn beschouwing over de geschiedenis van het tram of buskaartje dat met de invoering van de huidige OV-Chipkaart tot een ethisch probleem gemaakt is, had ik als bijlage meegestuurd.

Het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens schuift aan bij de regententafel. The members of the Cuncil for the Protection of Personal Information joins the table of the Dutch 'regenten' (governers, commissionars).

Het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens schuift aan bij de historische regententafel. The members of the Council for the Protection of Personal Information joins the historical table of the Dutch 'regenten' (governers, commissionars). Van Links naar rechts/from left to right: mr. dr. J. Beuving; mr. M.W. McLaggan-van Roon; mr. J. Kohnstamm; M. van Son; de binnenvader H. Linteloo; D. Nolthenius. (Re-production by courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) Click Picture for full size view.

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From: Tjebbe van Tijen <email@adres>

Date: 2 September 2009 17:48:28 GMT+02:00

To: info@cbpweb.nl

Subject: Aanbeveling aan de college leden van het CBP voor een andere vorm van debat en besluitvorming en advisering

Aan de leden van het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens

l.s.

Onderstaande uitgebreide tekst begint met de geschiedenis van de strippenkaart en eindigt met een evaluatie van uw college in het perspectief van de discussie over de OVchipkaart. Ik zou het op prijs stellen als u de moeite wilt nemen van de inhoud kennis te nemen. Mijns inziens is de samenstelling van uw collece te eenzijdig en de focus teveel een juridische. Ook is de wijze van samenstelling/benoemding van uw college verre van democratisch te noemen hetgeen, als u zelf geen initiatieven neemt om uw taak door een breder maatschappelijk platform te laten dragen, uiteindelijk tot een publieke confrontatie over uw functioneren zal leiden. In mijn visie is het debat over privacy veel meer een ethisch en historische dan een juridische kwestie en ik zou ook willen voorstellen in deze zin tot een herschikking van uw taak en werkwijze te komen. De gevolgen van de huidige vrijwel ongebreidelde toepassing van positie-registratie-systemen, daar aangekoppelde databanken en de interactieve hanteerbaarheid van gecombineerde informatiestromen, was bij de oprichting van uw collecge niet geheel te voorzien. De huidige praktijk zou u moeten brengen tot een heroverweging van uw mandaat en beschikbare middelen. Uw college is niet echt geequipeerd om een historisch gegrondveste ethische evaluatie van de digitalisering en tabellisering van de samenleving aan te gaan. Het verschil in gewicht ingebracht door overheden en bedrijfsleven vergeleken met dat van de aan deze systemen onderworpen burgers, is volledig uit balans. Uw timide suggesties voor de OVchipkaart zoals te lezen in uw aanbevelingen uit het jaar 2005 getuigen wel degelijk van inzicht in de materie, maar zijn uiteindelijk onvoldoende scherp geformuleerd om zoiets als het OVchipkaartplan te doen aanpassen.

Het door mij beschreven detail, over het feit dat een anonieme 65+er kaart niet verkrijgbaar is moge daar een voorbeeld van zijn. Lees nog maar eens uw eigen aanbeveling na over het voorkomen van economsich gemotiveerde dwang om een toch maar een gepersonaliseerde in plaats van een anonieme kaart te kopen.

Kunt u zo vriendelijk zijn om mij ook een bevestiging van ontvangst van dit schrijven, alsmede een bevestiging dat dit schrijven doorgestuurd is aan alle leden van uw college, te sturen?

Bij voorbaat dank en met vriendelijke groet,!

hoogachtend

Tjebbe van Tijen

Amsterdam 2/9/2009
——————————————————————————————————————-

From: “Disseldorp-Happel, mw. A.A.M.” <…@cbpweb.nl>

Date: 16 September 2009 09:58:17 GMT+02:00

To: <email@adres>

Subject: Van Tijen/Aanbeveling CBP

Den Haag, 16 september 2009 
Ons kenmerk e2009-02268

Geachte heer van Tijen,

U geeft in uw e-mail aan het College bescherming persoonsgegevens (CBP) een historische schets van verschillende privacy-gerelateerde verwerkingen aan de hand waarvan u het CBP aanbeveelt om over te gaan op een andere vorm van debat, besluitvorming en advisering.

Het CBP heeft met belangstelling kennis genomen van de inhoud en bedankt u voor de moeite die u hebt genomen om dit onderwerp onder de aandacht te brengen. Uw melding stelt het CBP in staat zijn werkzaamheden optimaal te kunnen uitvoeren en het zal bekijken op welke wijze het uw signaal bij zijn activiteiten kan betrekken.

Het CBP vertrouwt erop u hiermee voldoende te hebben geïnformeerd.

Hoogachtend,

——————————————————————————————————————

The Achilles heel of the European Electronic Pasport system. Click picture to see full size.

The Achilles heel of the European Electronic Passport system. Click picture to see full size.

Een nog verdergaande inbreuk op een ieders privacy is in aanmaak: het verplicht laten registreren van de vingerafdrukken van iedere Nederlander voor een nationale databank – en in het huidge tijdsgewricht daarme ook beschikbaar voor internationale databanken (EU, USA). Een registratie die gekoppeld gaat worden aan het afgeven van een nieuw paspoort. Het paspoort-project ooit begonnen om vervalsing beter te kunnen bestrijden, groeit uit tot een opsporingssysteem  waarbij iedere burger – tot op kinderen toe – gemaakt wordt tot verdachte van elk mogelijk nog te plegen of in het verleden gepleegd misdrijf.

From the age of twelve children will also have to give their fingerprints. Biometric information of face and fingers of younger children - from their birth on till twelve - is not yet seen as viable with the actual state of the technology

From the age of twelve children will also have to give their fingerprints. Biometric information of face and fingers of younger children - from their birth on till twelve - is not yet seen as viable with the actual state of the technology.

In theorie en daarmee ook in de praktijk is het in de nabije toekomst mogelijk dat met de volautomatische beschikbaarheid van de biometrische gegevens van vingers en gezicht van alle Nederlanders,  ieder dossier met een “koude zaak”  die enige biometrische gevens bevat tot een “hete zaak” gemaakt kan worden, met een simpele druk-op-de-knop van de  ‘Cold Case Machine’.

The cozy days of 'Cold Case' archive searching as a human affair are over, when national and international biometric database will be available to police and other public safety bodies. What awaits us is a quantative shift that will bring us a new "quality"

The cozy days of 'Cold Case' archive searching - by a humane detective collective with individual responsibilities - are over. The emblematic US television series with its shelves full of cardboard boxes, each of them holding a collection of authentic papers and other evidence objects, will show us - in hindsight - the advantage of a local and restricted set of information. The singularity and isolation of such a physical box-archive makes it into something that is stabile over time and can not easily be tempered with. When information materials will be digitized, replicated and distributed over networks and actively combined with national and international biometric digital data, problems of authentication will occur. The effects of failure, fraud and mistakes, that are part of any human made system, will be sysThe logic advantages of networked digital systems, might prove to be more of a problem maker than a problem solver.

Gelukkig is er enig protest en ook effectief handelen, door de Vereniging Vrijbit – waarvan ik spontaan vandaag lid geworden ben – zij hebben  op 2 augustus 2009 bij Het Europese Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens een voorlopige voorziening aangevraagd, in afwachting van een bodemprocedure bij hetzelfde Hof, die de Nederlandse staat ervan moet weerhouden om de vingerafdruk dwang door te voeren. Inmiddels (vrijdag 18 augustus 2009) is dat verzoek door het Hof afgewezen en kan de Nederlandse Staat ongestoord van start gaan met het aanmaken en opslaan in een centrale databank van de vingerafdrukken van iedere staatsburger  (van mij zijn die vingerafdrukken er al sinds lang, veertig jaar geleden genomeneen na arrestatie als toenmalig woningkraker en buurtactivist, met zo’n inktrollertje, een vies plankje en een papieren formulier). De Vereniging Vrijbit zegt nog een een zogenaamde ‘bodemprocedure’ bij het Europese Hof te hebben lopent (kon deze nog niet terugvinden op de website van het Europese Hof), maar het is twijfelachtig of een paar nationale protesten, de sinds het jaar 2000 in gang gezette Europese persoonscontrole-machinerie, nog kunnen stoppen.

Een vingerafdruk gereedschapskistje van een Brits Eugenetisch Laboratorium uit 1911, de Big brother Award toegekend door ... aan ... en het handige apparaatje dat de Japanse regering recentelijk heeft ingezet om van iedere niet Japanse resident een vingerafdruk te kunnen maken. Dit laatste heeft tot protesten geleid zonder dat dit inbloed had op de werkzaamheden.

A fingerprint tool box of the British Eugenic Society dating back to 1911. The principle of fingerprints as a signature dates back to ancient Mesopotamia and China. Cases of use of finger and hand imprints as proof of identity in court cases are known from millennia back. Organized use of fingerprints - in the modern sense - goes back to the end of the 19th century and systematic police application was first done in Great Britain, followed by the Police of New York. Until recent fingerprints where mostly associated with the capture of criminals or the identification of lost persons and where not at all linked in the popular mind with totalitarian systems. The logo of the "Big Brother Award" combined with a fingerprint is from very recent (The BB-awards exist since 1998 and are given to control-compassionate authorities or institutions by national branches of the international non-governmental organization Privacy International). The George Orwell concept of a person or entity 'Big Brother' who by tele-surveillance is watching and controlling everybody, is now sixty years old and its original associations with Stalin and Hitler have faded. More and more non-conspicuous devices for registration and surveillance are introduced every day, like the cute Japanese machine at the right, in use at the main airports of Japan. Recently all foreigners residing in Japan have been obliged to give their fingerprints and there was some protest by those who (still) felt to be treated like common criminals.

xxx Click picture for a full size view.Ook het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens was uiterst kritisch over de vingerafdruk-verplchting, met name over de opslag en inzet van die gevens (advies aan de Staatsecreatis van Binnenlandse Zaken van 30 maart 2007) maar dat advies heeft uiteindelijk geen enkele invloed gehad op de voordracht van de verantwoordelijke minister en de leden van ons parlament. Lees even met mij mee wat het CBP te zeggen heeft….

Ingevolge Verordening (EG) nr. 2252/2004 van de Raad van 13 december 2004, Pb EG L 385 is Nederland verplicht biometrische gegevens op te nemen in de reisdocumenten: eerst de gezichtsopname en later twee vingerafdrukken. De verordening verplicht evenwel niet tot het opnemen van deze gegevens in een administratie, centraal of decentraal. Biometriegegevens voor identificatie- en verificatiedoeleinden zijn uitstekend bruikbaar door deze op te slaan in het document zelf zonder deze gegevens op te nemen in een (centrale) database. Bij serieuze grootschalige toepassing en gebruik van biometrie zullen er alleen al door de intrinsieke fouten in biometrie veel personen serieuze nadelen ondervinden van valse meldingen van die toepassingen. Uit de in 2005 afgeronde biometrieproef en daarop volgende evaluatie, gedaan in opdracht van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties, bleek dat in 3% van de gevallen er iets mis ging. Gesignaleerde tekortkomingen worden (mogelijk) deels opgelost door twee extra vingerafdrukken op te nemen. Welke correctiemaatregelen men ook neemt: intrinsieke fouten zullen blijven bestaan met alle gevolgen van dien. Het is dan ook de vraag of het grote vertrouwen dat in biometrie wordt gesteld met de huidige stand der techniek terecht is. [vet gezette regel door mij tj.]

xxxx

xxxx

Het duurde even, maar in april 2008, werd in een gezamenlijk wetenschappelijk onderzoek “Fingerprinting Pasports” van de Radboud Universiteit van Nijmegen en de Lausitz Universiteit in Senftenberg, Duitsland, bewezen dat betere controle en bescherming tegen identiteitsdiefstal – de voornaamste reden voor het invoeren van het nieuwe Nederlandse paspoortsysteem met biometrische gegevens – het tegenovergestelde resultaat boekte. Curieus genoeg was dit onderzoek medegefinancierd door twee Nederlandse overheidsinstanties (het Ministerie van Economische Zaken en de Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)). Ik citeer hier het abstract van de onderzoekers Henning Richter, Wojciech Mostowski en Erik Pol:

Passports issued nowadays have an embedded RFID chip that carries digitally signed biometric information. Access to this chip is wireless, which introduces a security risk, in that an attacker could access a person’s passport without the owner knowing. While there are measures in place to prevent unauthorised access to the data in the passport, we show that it is easy to remotely detect the presence of a passport and determine its nationality.

aaaaa

A successful design, deployment and operation of biometric systems depends highly on the results for existing biometrical technologies and components. These existing technologies as well as new solutions need to be evaluated on their performance. However it is often forgotten that the biometric (iris, finger, face e.g.) is only one part of a fully deployed application. As biometric (sub)systems are often not designed with security and or privacy in mind, system integrators will need to address the requirements of the deployed application in this light. The fears and concerns of a significant segment of the user population need to be addressed as early as possible in the design process, to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to reassure such users. These concerns may relate to privacy or to safety issues, which may be addressed in part through legal and regulatory measures. This article discusses the requirements, design and application scenario’s of biometrical systems in general and the introduction of a new biometrical passport in The Netherlands.

zzzzz Click picture for a full size view.

zzzzz Click picture for a full size view.

Dit totaal gebrek aan invloed van het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens is niet incidenteel, maar structueel (zoals ook blijkt uit hun advies over (overbodige) opslag van OVchipkaart gegevens dat eveneens niet nagevolgd is). Trekken – na deze twee recente démasqués -de Dames en Heren van die commissie daar de enige juiste conclusie uit: OPSTAPPEN? Nee dus. Dat is jammerlijk, want door te blijven zitten en niet hun mandaat terug te geven aan degenen die hen aangesteld hebben, geven ze al die overheidsbeslissingen die tegen het beschermen van onze privacy ingaan een brevet van  gecontroleerde democratische goedkeuring door een “onafhankelijk College”. Zo staat het op de website van het CBP:

Onafhankelijkheid van het CBP
Het CBP houdt toezicht op de naleving van wetten die het gebruik van persoonsgegevens regelen. Het CBP houdt dus toezicht op de naleving en toepassing van de Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens (Wbp), de Wet politiegegevens (Wpg) en de Wet gemeentelijke basisadministratie (Wet GBA).

Het College bestaat slechts uit drie leden die bij “Koninklijk besluit” benoemd worden:

mr. J. Kohnstamm, voorzitter

mr. dr. J. Beuving, plaatsvervangend voorzitter

mr. M.W. McLaggan-van Roon, lid van het College

Er is dus geen enkele sprake van enige democratische procedure van aanstelling, noch van enig vorm van vertegenwoordiging van bepaalde gelederen van de Nederlandse bevolking. Het is niet meer dan ouderwetse Hollandse ‘regentenpraktijk’, waarbij degenen die het toch al voor het zeggen hebben de bestuursbaantjes aan elkaar toewijzen en er angstvallig voor waken dat geen anderen toegang tot zulke ambten krijgt, of althans enkel nadat personen van buiten blijk hebben gegeven voldoende gezagsgetrouw te zijn (dit is wat bij “Koninklijk Besluit” naar mijn inzicht betekent (in die zin is er in driekwart eeuw  met een gelijke constatering van historicus Jan Romein nog niets veranderd in ‘de Lage Landen’ (**)).

De premisse van toezichthouden waarop dit College is gebaseerd is haar grootste zwakte. Haar taak is slechts het toezicht houden op naleving van dat wat door volksvertegenwoordiging en regering in wetten is vastgelegd. Zou het nog zo zijn dat het CBP alle Nederlandse wetten en door Nederlandse Staat ondertekende internationale verdragen zou kunnen toetsen aan principes van bescherming van de persoonlijke levenssfeer, dan zouden wellicht ethische en morele bezwaren ingebracht kunnen worden die nu achterwege moeten blijven.  Toetsing van privacy-deelwetgeving op mensen- en grondrechten behoort niet tot de taak van dit College. In hun opdracht staat het heel simpel: “naleving van wetten die het gebruik van persoonsgegevens regelen.” Meer is het niet. Zij mogen enkel kijken naar en adviseren over sub-wetjes die niet meer dan een regelement zijn waarin de toepassingspraktijk beschreven wordt.

Dit verklaart  waarom het CBP enkel uit juristen bestaat. Het juridische – op het niveau van het CBP – wordt gezien als iets wat ‘objectief meetbaar’ is en volgens ‘formeel juridische standaarden’ vastgelegd in de Nederlandse jurispredentie. Subjectieve overwegingen,  dat waaruit datgene wat uiteindelijk beschermd dient te worden – de persoonlijke levenssfeer – bestaat, kunnen niet aan de orde komen. Het hebben van een toekomsvisie op basis van bekendheid met de historische ontwikkeling van adminstratie- en controlesystemen, is niet iets waarvoor juristen opgeleid worden. Inzicht in de wijze waarop bestaande sociale verhoudingen beïnvloed of versterkt worden door technologische vernieuwingen is niet iets waarvoor een weldenkend mens bij een jurist ten rade zou gaan (hoe goed ook  zo’n jurist op het eigen vakgebied kan wezen). Ergo, de bescherming van onze persoonlijke levenssfeer tegen de beveilingsindustrie en haar opdrachtgever  de overheid, bestaat helemaal niet. Het ‘juridiseren’ van de huidige privacy problematiek kan niet anders opleveren dan een gereduceerd inzicht in de krachten die spelen in de moderne informatie-maatschappij. Privacy-bedreigingen worden gevoed door twee gedachten, een moderne en een oude: dat met het huidig menselijk kunnen heel het leven voorspelbaar en regelbaar is en het spiegelbeeld van die redenering, de angst voor het ongewisse en het noodlot dat ieder moment kan toeslaan. Het bewust zaaien van angst als machtsmiddel (terrorisme) en de verborgen blijvende of  onverwacht oplaaiend geweldadigheid van enkelingen, zijn altijd moeilijk beteugelbare krachten geweest. Het inzetten van hoog-technologische controlemiddelen in dit krachtenveld  zijn vaak niet meer dan bezweringsrites van hoogpriesters voor hun geloofsgemeenschap. Erger nog, de nu immens populaire rite van het aanleggen van een databank van alle mogelijke verdachten of allen die bescherming dienen te genieten, ontaard voor xxx

Fingerprint mania how fear creates a market for control systems that can be spoofed easily by people with bad inetentions while the mjority of good intenioned people will feel oppressed by such mechanisms

Fingerprint mania how fear creates a market for control systems that can be spoofed easily by people with organized bad inetentions while the mjority of good intenioned people will feel oppressed or alienated by such mechanisms. These are electro-mechanical secluding space devices that are surrogates for direct social control

Juist daar waar het gaat om het beschermen van het ‘persoonlijke’ is een toetsing nodig waarin fundamentele menselijke waarden, te weten de harmonische relatie tussen individu en gemeenschap, centraal staan en juristerij er enkel is om die waarden te bevorderen en in stand te houden. Persoonsbescherming is gediend bij stimulering van sociale samenhang en het vermijden van maatregelen die vervreemding in de hand werken.  Het gevolg van de toepassing van nieuwe technologie kan zowel bevrijdend als onderdrukkend zijn, afhankelijk van specifieke maatschappelijke verhoudingen. Een nagestreefd doel kan enkel met middelen bereikt worden, die ook in overeenstemming met dat doel zijn. Bescherming van het individu en veiligheid worden uiteindelijk niet gediend door onbeheersbare controlezucht.  De huidige ontwikkeling van informatie- en communicatie-systemen draagt een dubbel vermogen in zich:  bevrijding én onderdrukking. De bevrijdende potentie van deze nieuwe technologieën krijgt nog onvoldoende aandacht.  Dit is een positieve visie,  die tegenover de nu aan ons opgedrongen beperkende en onderdrukkende maatregelen gesteld kan worden. De taak van belangenafweging – van volksvertgenwoordiging en adviesorganen – behoeft meer dan één maatschappelijke visie, wil er gewogen kunnen worden. Het meeste gewicht lijkt nu gelegd te worden in de schaal van wantrouwen, angst en controle.
———-
(*) Popular mechanics 1934 on fingerprints: Signatures can be forged, but not a fingerprint. To speed up the search for a particular set of fingerprints, a system of classifying them by certain whorls, lines and other marks has been evolved. In a recent test, the exact record of an unidentified person’s fingerprints was located within three minutes in a file containing more than 1,500,000 records. The New York city police department has been collecting citizens’ fingerprints for several years. Between 15,000 and 20,000 persons volunteer each month. Other cities are taking up the work. The Department of Justice in Washington is the clearing house for most fingerprints. The master criminal file contains 5,000,000 records. The civilian file will be separate. Instead of a stigma, the record will be a form of personal protection.
(**)  Jan Romein schreef over het regentendom in zijn populaire geschiedenisboek uit 1934 “De Lage landen Bij De Zee”:
“De heele samenleving in de eeuwen der Republiek ligt besloten in twee woorden: ‘heeren’ en ‘volk’ en het is niet alleen historisch verhelderend de maatschappij dier dagen van uit dat oogpunt te bezien, maar ook na te gaan hoe die voorstelling in het verleden terugrijpt en zich tot in het heden voortzet.” [p.340]
“De heeren ‘zaten op het kussen’, d.w.z. ze regeerden niet alleen, maar ze regeerden uitsluitend in hun eigen belang en steeds hechter wortelde de sociale ethiek die dit room-van-de-melk-scheppen tot een geboorte-recht maakte.” [p.358]
“Het sprak vanzelf, dat de heeren met het geld en de macht ook het recht in handen hadden (…) [p.358]
N.B. Jammer genoeg is dit historisch zo belangrijke boek van Jan Romein nog niet in de Digitale Bibliotheek van Nederland (DBNL) opgenomen, zodat ik hier geen link naar de volledige tekst kan maken; wel heb ik bij DBNL een verzoek ingediend om dit boek op de lijst van publiek toegankelijk te maken primaire bronnen van Nederlandse geschiedenis te plaatsen. Van jan Romein staat op DBNL wel
deze overzichtspagina...


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Two days ago I went to a combined theatre performance and action meeting in the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam in support of the the Libyan migrant Ahmed Al-J. (also referred to as Ahmed Issa) who has been at the center of years of court cases and juridical and technical researches about a fatal fire on October 27, 2005 in a detention center at Schiphol airport for migrants, waiting for the result of their appeal against planned extradition.  Ahmed had at first been labeled by the court as the main culprit, because of a burning cigaret in his cell that set the whole section of the center aflame an left 11 people dead. Recently he has been acquited of this charge, as a whole series of management and construction mistakes have come to light, as result of a  series of inquiries and counter-inquiries. I will not further detail this case too much here as the facts are widely known by now. The incessant support for the traumatized migrants by several action groups (of which at least two should be mentioned here Migrant To Migrant/M2M and All Included), lawyers and some politicians, have had some concrete results, but the essential question of who is to be held responsible for the fact that a single cigarette in a prison-like new facility can lead to so many victims, has still not been answered in a satisfactory way. Singling out the Libyan migrant and his cigaret has allowed to keep out of focus the planners, management and local authorities who have to control the safety of this detention facility (located at Schiphol Oost, originally build to house drug smugglers captured at the airport). Many see this as a form of scapegoating.

Detail of painting (1854) "The Scapegoat" by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)

Detail of painting (1854) "The Scapegoat" by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) Exiled animal that bears the sins of the Jewish people (according to the Old Testament) a white goat with woolen threads between his horn like a trickle of blood, symbolizing purity, prefiguring the Messiah wearing the crown of thorns. For the whole painting and a more detailed description at the Hungarian Web Gallery of Art, click the picture...

Ahmed Al-J. who has now officially been exempted from responsibility for the death of 11 people, has found no clemency for his ordeal of the last four years (of which he spent two in prison). He has been ordained to be sent back to Libya. This in spite of the fact that he and his lawyer have appealed against this decision by the ministry for migration affairs. If he is still in the Netherlands at the moment of me writing? This I do not know.

Another depiction of a purifying ritual by driving out a scapegoat that carries the problems and sins of a community, with the goat like demon Azazel in the middle and a recent poster of the Free Ahmed Isa campaign, which reads: Schiphol keeps on burning (blows the fuses). "Thus the goat will bear al my  faults.." Ahmed Isa  scapegoat. Campaign Free Ahmed Issa.

Another depiction of a purifying ritual by driving out a scapegoat that carries the problems and sins of a community, with the goat like demon Azazel in the middle. Antique Greece knew a similar ritual whereby pre-selected persons (a slave cripple or criminal), called 'pharmakos' (Greek: φαρμακος) would be expelled from the community at the occurence of a disaster or at pre-configured days of purification. The word 'pharmakos' later became a term for a healing potion or drugs, hence 'pharmakeus' and nowadays 'pharmacy'. At the right end a recent poster of the Free Ahmed Isa campaign, which reads: Schiphol keeps on burning (blows the fuses). "Thus the goat will bear al my faults.." Ahmed Isa scapegoat. Campaign Free Ahmed Issa.

Back to the theatre evening where three short performances were given, each of them by one actor in a monologue form. One by an Iranian migrant with a  dance like performance about three generations of men being called into wars, especially referring to the mass slaughters of the Iran-Iraq War. Another,  an attempt to give some insight in the inner soul of the protestant christian former Minister of Justice Donner who had abdicated because of his formal responsibility for the burned down detention center and is put on stage trying the Catholic system of confession to find redemption. The last actor was a descendent of a maroon  tribe of run-away black slaves in the former Dutch colony of Surinam, who did a sort of ‘winti-pré’ (Surinam form of voodoo) about the officialdom hypocrisy embedded in the idea of “Dutch free citizenship.”

After these performances there was a modest attempt at discussion and a question what could or should be done. This brought into my mind a series of recurring odd associations during the last months and weeks, with Libya as a binding factor.

Here we had an absolute non glamorous, low profile most probably economic motivated migrant from Libya who had had lots of bad luck and had been forced into unwanted infamy and fame (Ahmed always have tried to keep his face hidden when entering court, and has tried hard to keep any picture of  his face out of the newspapers). While elsewhere another Libyan – also both infamous and famous – Gaddafi (*) has been stealing again the international news shows. After having been re-introduced on the international stage, late 2007, by French President Sarkozy his star has been rising again. Sarkozy maneuvered the French state oil and energy company ELF/Total in a successful barter with Gaddafi exchanging wrongly accused Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian medic for new Libyan energy supplies and other favoring economic contracts.

It took another year before another President, Silvio Berlusconi, could not resist the historic opportunities and the money and energy reserves of Colonel Gaddafi and invited him for yet another reconciliation visit. The ‘acte the presence’ of the Libyan leader was once more overwhelming, but what stroke me the most was his show with a historical photograph pinned on his uniform, next to the battery of color-codified military medals, rubbing Italy’s colonial history straight in the face of its actual president at the very moment of his arrival. Then, shortly after, Gaddafi popped up as a guest at the G8 meeting and had a tête-à-tête with British prime minister Gordon Brown. Again a barter was made, this time a rightly accused and convicted countryman of Gaddafi, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, who in exchange for a Libyan energy deal, was abducted from the independent nation of Scotland – where he did his twenty years prison sentence – to be flown back to a glorious reception in Tripoli as a lost national hero.

Welcome party at Tripoli airport of

Welcome party at Tripoli airport of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, one of the Lockerbie terrorists convicted to twenty years of imprisonment, relieved from prison for humanitarian reasons as he has a terminal stage of cancer on August 22, 2009. Gaddafi commented to the international press on the British prime minister and the Scottish parliament, calling the freeing "a courageous humanitarian gesture."

All these events and the images of them displayed in the media got connected in my mind – against all odds – with the case of the Libyan migrant in the Netherlands, who will await no happy crowds, who may need to fear for his well being once returned to his country. Visions came to me, in that Amsterdam theatre, where the question was posed what could be done for Ahmed Al-J…. I saw Ahmed being picked up by the Libyan leader with all his post-revolutionary pomp, the humiliation of the Dutch authorities, the oily business deals that would certainly be made on the side…. and a need arose to visualize all this, if it would not happen in real, to have it at least performed as a concrete fantasy on my and your screen… and some derivations following the history of the historical photograph pinned at the uniform of Colonel Gaddafi….


It is ex-minister of Justice Jan Hein Donner who has the honor to accompany Colonel Gaddafi

It is ex-minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner (middle left) who has the honor to accompany Colonel Gaddafi (middle right) during the inspection of the guard at Schiphol Airport, commanded by new strategic NATO commander Jeroen van der Veer (left foreground), with in the far left corner Profesor Pieter van Vollenhoven (chairman of the Transport Safety Board and member of the royal family) with his camera ready, to see to it that everything is handled correctly. Van der Veer wears the traditional green beret of the Dutch marines in his new military role at NATO, after having served with Royal Dutch Shell for three decades, last as Chief Executive Officer. Donner, who resigned in 2005 as minister of Justice after the fire in the Schiphol Detention Center that left 11 people dead - but was taken back in grace shortly after for another role of Minister of Social Affairs- wears the governmental decorations of repeated service to the nation, the 'orange earmuffs' (with the inscription: "non audi et alteram partem"). Van der Veen - in expectation of energy arrangements at the side - has instructed a multi-national battalion to unfold the standards of ENI, TOTAL and Shell as a subtle hint for the Colonel that nothing is for free in this world. The center of attention Ahmed Al-J. - the man who has recently be acquited from the charge of being responsible for the the fatallities of the detention center fire - does not attend the ceremony yet . He is waiting in his residence at the Schiphol Oost Detention center for the Colonel and his cortege arrive through the high security gate and to finally deliver him from Dutch state hospitality.

You are invited to study the above high resolution picture in all its details by clicking on it;  a new window will open that allows you to have both an overview and also to study the details by clicking once more, which will show the picture full size;  if possible try to enlarge your browser window to the maximum size; if needed use the sliding bars of your browser to pan through the big size tableau picture.

Gaddafi had pinned a color photograph of the Schiphol fire to his uniform in a demonstration that the wounds of the neglect of the migrant detenees by the Nterlands still run deep.

Gaddafi had pinned a color photograph of the Schiphol fire of the year 2005 to his uniform in a demonstration that for him the wounds of the neglect of migrant detenees by the government of the Netherlands still run deep. Gaddafi later told the journalists that this tragedy was "a cross for the Dutch Nation" without making any allusions to a tragedy that could have been called 'his own cross': the Lockerbie disaster of 1988 with its 270 casulaties. Happily minister Donner was still wearing his earmuffs at that moment, so a direct diplomatic embarrassment did not occur. Gaddafi has used similar emblematic tactics during his recent historical visit to Italy in June 2009, where he pinned to his uniform a historical photograph of Omar Al-Mukhtar, the Libyan resistance fighter during the colonial era who was hanged by the Fascist military government in Tripoli, a picture that showed Al-Mukhtar in chains at the time of his arrest in 1931. Click photograph for a full size view.

Ahmed Al-J. waiting at the gate of the Detention Center for Migrants Schiphol Oost, nicely refurbished after the disaster of October, 25 2005

Ahmed Al-J. - for years consequently keeping his privacy with minimal means - waiting at the gate of the Detention Center for Migrants Schiphol Oost (nicely refurbished after the disaster of October, 25 2005, with protective high fences and electrical wires), being confused about where and what is the inside and outside of Dutch Control Society. Click the picture for a full size view.


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June 14, 2009 Italian prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Gaddafi at Ciampino airport, Rome. A step to turn several pages of the past, from the Italo-Ottoman War from 1911-194 (which war saw the first aerial bombardments in history with bombs thrown by hand by Italian pilots on human settlements), the fascist occupation and colonization of Libya in the thirties and forties of last century and the American air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 in retaliation of Libyan (at first alleged and hard to prove) involvement in a series of terrorist attacks in Europe in the previous years (Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking, Rome and Vienna airport attacks, West-Berlin disco visited by American servicemen).

xxx Click picture for full size view.

The photograph Gaddafi was wearing at his arrival in Italy in June 2009. It shows the main leader of the resistance - Omar Mukhtar (Arabic عمر المختار ‘Umar Al-Mukhtār) (1862 - September 16, 1931) - against the Italian fascist colonization with its white supremacist violent policy that started in the year 1922. Before, there had been a period of Italian competition with what remained of the Ottoman empire in the North of Africa. A period with changing alliances between tribes and occupiers developing into some sort of civil war in the end. Omar al-Makhtar (also written as Umar...) was a Cyrenaican muslim tribesman that led for several years the struggle against Italian occupation. When he was finally captured in 1931 his importance and influence was so great that the Italian general Rodolfo Graziani choose to hang him in front of 20.000 forcefully gathered tribesmen. Good statistics of the number of victims of these decades of violence are hard to find. Some indication can be derived from the statistics on the Italian policy of area control, involving a concentration camp system in which a hundred thousand Libyans were imprisoned. Historians have estimated that more than half of these prisoners did not survive and some have labeled these gruesome events the "Italian Holocaust" (**) Click photograph for full size view.

Violence from the past  needs to be acknowledged to purge the motivation to keep carrying it into the future.

Violence from the past needs to be acknowledged by the perpetrators of it, to purge the motivation to keep carrying this experience into the future by new violent acts. Comparisons of the number of victims, caused by one and another historical event, is seen as an amoral exercise by many. Nevertheless knowledge of the scale and impact of violence is essential for our understanding of causes and finding remedies. Several tens of thousands have found a violent death during the fascist Italian regime in Libya over two decades; 270 people died in a few seconds over and in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Forty to sixty people are said to have died in the retaliation air strikes ordered by USA President Ronal Reagan in in Libya. The highjacked ship, airport attacks and disco bombing produced a total of approximate 20 dead. Click for full size view.

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(*) Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi1 (Arabic: معمر القذافي‎ Mu‘ammar al-Qaḏāfī; also known simply as Colonel Gaddafi; born 7 June 1942) has been the de facto leader of Libya since a coup in 1969; some of the many alternative spellings of his name are: Gadafi, Gadhafi, Qadhafi.
(**) One of my sources on the Italian violent colonization of Libya is “The making of modern Libya: state formation, colonization, and resistance …” by Ali Abdullatif Ahmida. Several pages can directly be viewed via Googlebooks.
(**) There is a dramatized rendering of the fight against the Italian occupiers of Libya in the feature movie “Lion of the desert” with Oliver Reed and Anthony Queen; directed and prduced by Moustapha Akkad in 1979, whose fate was to be killed in the hall of an American owned  luxury hotel in Amman by a radical Islamic suicide bomb attack in 2005. It may be clear that this is – like almost all war movies – a propaganda film, this time  from a radical Islam viewpoint with a big financial aid of the Gaddafi administration, now thirty years back.

A detailed description of the movie via a link... click the picture to go there

A detailed description of the movie via a link... click the picture to go there

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 "The Brief Account of New Netherland" published anonymously in 1662 in Amsterdam (later attributed To FranciscusVan Den Enden (1602 - 1674). Click picture for a full size view.

"The Brief Account of New Netherland" published anonymously in 1662 in Amsterdam (later attributed To FranciscusVan Den Enden (1602 - 1674). It is a proposal to the city councillors of Amsterdam concerning the democratic constitution of a Dutch colony in New Netherlands, a publication "in behalf of the poor people (of the Netherlands) that wanted to emigrate overseas." (Wim Klever; Foglio Spinozi; 2001-11-7). The montage picture has four elements, from left to right: - a replica of the ship of Hudson 'Half Moon' on the Amstel river in Amsterdam in the year 1909; - the cover of the 1662 publication, with in the background a montage from the Manhattan project a split visualization of the ecology of Manhattan Island thousands of years ago and the actual urbanized situation; - another newer replica of the 17th century 'Half Moon' ship (build in 1989) on the Hudson River New York. Click picture for a full size view.

This post will display in due time my belated comments on the mechanical and meaningless commemorations of Dutch officialdom, with yet another example of an attitude I have baptized under the name: “de huichelhollander” (the inner alliteration is difficult to catch in English: deceiving-dutch, hypocrite-hollander, and a Curaçao friend suggested ‘lying-dutchman’). It is the 400 years party of an English captain on a Dutch sailing ship getting lost and landing on what is now New York in the year 1609…..

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Halfbloedjesland

A quick collage made for the OER magazine on the basis of a picture I did find on the cover of another Surinam related printed magazine OSO (vol.28; number 1; April 2009) and the editors have ripped this picture from some archive (I will check what the actual picture origin is, just out of curiosity) it's for a column called "halfbloedjes land" (land of little half bloods). Collage keeps a picture alive!

Last week, by email, two old friends crossed my way, bending back my time line to thirty years ago, to Surinam and Carib literature and working in Paramaribo. Henna Goudzand who I first met in Paramaribo – during the days of a sergeants state and their imposed curfew – was a colleague of my girlfriend Josien Eissens  who had taken a job to instruct new Dutch language teachers over there.

Henna  lives since long in the Netherlands and she did ask me recently to make an illustration for her new digital magazine “OER digitaal vrouwenblad“. The first issue of OER was announced on a blog about Caribbean literature and that appeared to be produced by another friend of who I had lost sight, Michiel van Kempen. At the end of the eighties  – in Amsterdam – he had been introduced to me by Henna as a possible candidate to work on a bibliography of Surinam related books from the collection of the University of Amsterdam. From 1973 till 1998 I worked as a curator of the Documentation Center of Modern Social Movements at the University Library of Amsterdam and my prolonged stay in Surinam – in 1980 – had woken my interest in the cultural heritage gab produced by the Dutch colonial history. In 1991 I had written a proposal for making an inventory of any kind of publication relating to Surinam in the collections of the University of Amsterdam. It was Michiel van Kempen, together with a colleague of mine from the library, Kees van Doorne, who did a splendid job by finding and cataloguing almost 8000 publications (including historical maps), all this within five years. The results have been published in a fat printed catalogue with an impressive index: Suriname-Catalogus van de Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam in 1995.

The last decade I had little contact with the Surinam milieu and so it is a pleasure to be connected again. Yesterday I wrote my first post  for the nice Caraib literature blog, and in the writing process I had a vision of Google helping a project of colonial “Widergutmachung” by scanning all those publications from the University of Amsterdam …. (because when I flip through the description of 8000 or so neatly catalogued books and other publications related to Surinam, such bibliographical items  always give me the sensation of visiting a Gulag camp with thousands of books suffering and moaning, waiting to be set free and communicate with all those eager readers outside the barbed wire fence of academia and copyrights).
aitomatic book scanner

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Het navolgende korte bericht citeer ik met beleefde dank aan de NRC van 7 september 2009 in zijn geheel om haar inherente dwaasheid te documenteren:

SCP: bewakingscamera’s selectiever inzetten: Den Haag, 7 sept. De overheid zou bewakingscamera’s selectiever moeten inzetten. Dat zou de effectiviteit van het toezicht kunnen vergroten. Dat meldden onderzoekers van het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP) vandaag.

Zij onderzochten het ‘Actieplan overlast en verloedering‘, dat de overheid vorig jaar lanceerde. Toezicht met camera’s voorkomt geweld niet, maar volgens het SCP zijn er aanwijzingen dat op sommige plekken, bijvoorbeeld in parkeergarages, de camera’s criminaliteit en overlast terugdringen.

De onderzoekers waarschuwen dat er niet te veel van de camera’s verwacht moet worden. Het SCP ziet in menselijk toezicht, door agenten, parkeerwachten of zelfs horecapersoneel, veel voordelen. Uit eerder onderzoek bleek al dat menselijk toezicht vaak effectief is, stelt het instituut.”

Het is een fraaie contradictoire conclusie, iets waarvoor je gestudeerd moet hebben om hem te verzinnen (ik neem maar even aan dat bij het Sociaal Planbureau enkel afgestudeerde lieden werken) alsook bij die niet bij name genoemde instelling die “eerder onderzoek” deed.

A fragment from the vsiaul scroll Orbis Digitalium Pictus, I made last year for a conference of the Theatre Institute of the University of Amsterdam. For the whole scroll see note (*). To see this fragment full size click the picture.
A fragment from the visual scroll Orbis Digitalium Pictus, I made last year for a conference of the Theatre Institute of the University of Amsterdam. For the whole scroll see note (*). To see this fragment full size click the picture.

Allereerst moeten we aannemen dat de genoemde camera’s verbonden zijn met kabels of draadloze verbindingen die naar schermen leiden waarachter dan weer menselijke observanten zitten. Want “cameratoezicht” in de zin van het hier beschrevene is menselijk toezicht op afstand. Ik mag niet aannemen dat het om volledig geautomatiseerde bewegings- en audio-detectie gaat, want daar waar die wellicht in theorie al iets zouden kunnen betekenen (zo zijn er camera + microfoon systemen die bij overmatig geluid met een bepaald profiel zoals dronkemansgelal een waarschuwing afgeven) blijft nog de vraag wat dan de geautomatiseerde actie zou moeten zijn voor het bewakings-computersysteem. Geflitste automobilisten worden al automatisch bestraft, maar omdat met ” het voertuig van het menselijk lichaam” te doen, hebben we (nog) specifiekere herkenningsroutines nodig om de daarbijbehorende mens te corrigeren en te bestraffen. Herkenningsroutines voor specifiek mensen gaan nu nog middels wat ik voor het gemak maar even samenvat als ‘poort-situaties’: pinautomaten, scanners voor indentiteitspasjes, electro-magnetische sensors (zoals van de OVchipkaart), vingerafdruksensors, oogscanners en als laatste in de rij gezichtsherkenning (dat is tot op heden nog de zwakste schakel).

xxx
A fragment from the visual scroll Orbis Digitalium Pictus, I made last year for a conference of the Theatre Institute of the University of Amsterdam. For the whole scroll see note (*). To see this fragment full size click the picture.

Moderne vormen van brandmerken die aan zo’n automatische bewakingssysteeem te koppelen zijn, bestaan al sinds lang, maar de publieke weerstand ertegen is en zal dusdanig zijn dat deze effectieve middelen niet gemakkelijk ingevoerd kunnen worden (daar helpt zelfs geen 9/11 aan). Het bij binnentreding spuiten van een met het gewone oog onzichtbaar pufje verf met een ingebouwd uniek getal of code (een soort dot matrix code of een bepaalde unieke waarde) die dan weer optisch (infrarood) en/of magnetisch (RFID) gededecteerd kan worden, is voorstelbaar. Verplichte radio-traceerbare arm- of voetbandjes (zoals die er nu al zijn voor ouders die bang zijn hun kinderen  te verliezen en voor electronisch huisarrest) en het meest logische middel de persoonlijke mobiele telefoon (GPS). Het is wel zeker dat de laatste toepassing al daadwerkelijk in praktijk gebracht wordt bij het uitoefenen van bepaalde politietaken.

Gesteld dat individuele personen volautomatisch, effectief, gedetecteerd kunnen worden in specifiek daartoe uitgeruste publieke ruimtes, dan blijft de vraag wat dan? Wat te doen als een persoonlijke overtreding van een of andere regel door het systeem gedetecteerd is? Kan er een boeteroutine ontworpen worden met raadpleging van een register van eerdere overtredingen door sofinummer zo en zo? Het is zeker voorspelbaar dat de schuldenaarscentrale in Tiel een dergelijk register zonder enige moeite zal weten te implementeren (de hele infrastructuur daarvoor is al operationeel), maar, is een geldstraf wel een effectief middel? Zolang automatische afboeking door de overheid van bekeuringen nog niet geregeld is (en wees er van overtuigd dat een dergelijke regeling in het nabije verschiet ligt) creërt dit weer een incassotraject en ook mag aan de educatieve waarde van geldboetes gewtijfeld worden. Vrijheidsbeneming levert geen geld op, maar kost geld, dus dat is ook geen optie.

Dit moeten de redeneringen geweest zijn die de sociaal-culturele planologen van het SCP doorlopen hebben alvorens tot de conclusie te komen dat uiteindelijk “menselijk toezicht” als meer “effectief” bestempeld mag worden. De mens is immers niet langer de maat der dingen.

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(*) Orbis Digitalium Pictus Scroll link.

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