The Flexibility of the Dutch Language

Something that we noticed during my recent study of the German language is the tremendous promiscuity of Dutch with English which goes even further than I had previously noticed. We all know the usage of many English words in Dutch as if they were our own, but I wanted to pay attention here to a special case: the fully imported verb.

These are present in phrases such as:

‘Hij kon het niet meer handelen.’ – “He couldn’t handle that anymore.”
‘Ik loop hier onwijs te struggelen.’ – “I’m struggling like a fiend here.”
‘Dat gaat niet happenen.’ – “It’s not going to happen.”
‘Hard hosselen.’ – “Hustlin’ hard.” (special case)

There are a couple of things to pay attention to.

Firstly Dutch people pronounce almost all of the English words they use as if they were Dutch. You can oppose this with Germans using words such as ‘clever’ or ‘teenager’ with the (more or less) proper pronunciation. In Dutch we will say ‘fuck’ a lot, but we won’t pronounce it \ˈfək\ but more like \ˈfɵk\. It’s a subtle difference, but especially on the ‘u’ vowels it is very audible.

This same mechanism is at play here, the imported verbs are pronounced as if they were Dutch, but the familiarity between the languages goes even further. The English words are conjugated into faux Dutch infinitives to make them fit into the Dutch sentences. I don’t know if there is a word for this use of loan words with conjugations.

‘Hard hosselen’ is a special case because there the English word ‘hustle’ has been assimilated even further so that it is hardly recognizable anymore.

Talking in this fashion is very poor form but also very convenient which makes us use these kinds of phrases all the more. If you have more (or more extreme) examples or can shed some linguistic light on this, please put it in the comments.

Week 317

The week before this on Monday (almost two weeks ago), I went to a lecture by Graham Harman. Notes on that were blogged in a timely fashion.

That week also involved a one-day trip to Munich to present on the work we did for a client there. More on that on the Hubbub blog in due course.

My desk optically flipped (not an Instagram filter)

Thursday I worked at the Kreuzberg Academy for Nerdery and Tinkering next door. I really love how Oranienstraße is coming together as a creative technological hub of import in Berlin.

Endless streams of tourists resume

The rest of the week was used developing Ripple Effect and with maintenance on

Recess! 10

I played a bunch of Ultratron over the past couple of weeks. It’s beautiful pulsing dance of bullets that lost its charm somewhere past level 100 where I thought I had the game beat, but everything keeps on repeating ever faster. That was eleven hours of obsessive pleasure (according to Steam) followed by emptiness.

Something that does give me a lot of meaning recently but which you probably cannot call a game are my Moves stats. Definitions are not important and neither are buzzwords. Moves hits the ‘quantified self’ buzzword and foregoes the ‘gamification’ one but still numbers and feedback are key to the experience. Its prescriptive restraint is tasteful and it tracks all the bike rides I could not be bothered with. Automatic and good enough turns out to be near perfect.

I’ll be looking for more meaningful ways to play games in my day to day life in the near future but for now there’s more work than play in my life. With the Berlin summer upon us, if I play anything, I’ll be looking to do it outside. I’ve been meaning to learn cricket, but I’m open to other suggestions too.

Week 316

The week before this is getting a bit boring, but as soon as the current project is over I promise that adventures will resume again.

German lessons continued even with one of our participants being back in the Netherlands:
Language class remote

Sun was enjoyed at last after the gruelling Berlin winter we had to endure:
Drinking a filter coffee in the sun.

And my laptop crashed again during the week and this time because I had already performed all backups and come to terms with the mortality of the device, this time the decision was quickly made to buy a new laptop. This is something I should have done a year ago.

And I’m noticing that Berlin police are very helpful if you’re cyclist. One example:
Berlin police being fucking helpful and blocking the bike path. Also I don't understand why it takes 9 people to detain one black guy.

Graham Harman at the Universität der Kunste

Last Monday I heard Graham Harman give the International Flusser Lecture in Berlin. The lecture was in German and for me as a non-native speaker somewhat hard to follow, but the present Germans loved it. ‘The English dominated academia’ seems to be problematic for them.

Harman put Heidegger, McLuhan and Clement Greenberg through a comparison and treated their views on the surface of things and their essence. Greenberg sounded to have been thrown in to make a connection to the art world.

Given that being can only show itself on the surface, I started to wonder whether a object based approach to ANT borrowing from programming might not be a useful analogy? The links between objects are along API surfaces that can be made to interact with each other under certain circumstances. The trajectory of an object is its internal state. A state that is in a black box that we cannot access except through the API it exposes. We may be able to open the black box but that could have unintended consequences such as breakage or discovery.

A final example that Harman gave was about writing about something such as wine. He said that by putting it into a machine, you could get a definite analysis of the wine, but lose its essence. To me it seems that a wine writer, writes about wine for humans and a machine writes about wine for machines. Presupposing that the human’s point of view is the only one that is valid, devolves to the anthropocentrism that we had just left behind us. Of course, wine to a robot is something else than wine is to us, and robots may have electromagnetic pleasures that we in turn cannot fathom, but translations can always be made however much they lose of the ‘essence’ of the object (as translations always do).

Harman’s response dives back into qualia, something which I had hoped to avoid:

And because of the lecture I found this book New Materialism: Interviews and Cartographies and I’m looking forward to reading the interview with Manuel DeLanda that is in there.

Add provenance to your bitcoin

I had penned some notes about bitcoin before the entire thing exploded last week. So it seems that everybody is blogging pretty much everything about bitcoin there is to blog. So trying to see if I have some points that are still worth publishing.


The main improvement over a physical currency, is that with a digital currency you can in fact track all transactions. This is in fact a feature of bitcoin with its global transaction register.

The problem with that is that most transactions are done anonymously so you can see that money went from A to B but you don’t know who A and B are nor why it moved. This makes bitcoins very attractive to people selling illicit wares.

Now comes the challenge:

1. I don’t want to live in a failed narco-state (and I don’t think many others do either).
2. In principle I am for a currency where every transaction is public and traceable but I am not for the increase in state power that this will entail.

So there is probably some more crypto-trickery necessary to be able to get a currency where you can prove that: it wasn’t used for certain types of transactions, or that certain taxes were indeed paid in previous transactions.


I used to think that bitcoin would not be viable because the market and individual actors are too easily compromised. The checks and balances are so weak that any computer exploit means you lose all your money. Right now I think that is in fact a feature not a bug.

Bitcoin was envisioned as an exchange currency and if you use it as such all of these problems go away. Whenever you need to buy something online, you convert some money into bitcoins at the day’s rate and do your business.

So it is in fact not necessary to store large amounts of bitcoins for a prolonged amount of time except if you want to speculate. All others would buy bitcoins as necessary and sell them when they don’t need them and this would increase the liquidity of the currency.

Week 315

We’re in the middle of a big project, so pretty much everything is that right now. In between some small things happen, but we’re rather busy shipping right now.

I did post the answer to the most frequently asked question I get, which is how you actually pronounce my name:

And in between stuff I dropped in on this book presentation at c-base, which was pretty weird:
Hacker artist book presentation with buzzword bingo: ‘business, art, disruption, entrepreneurs, networkers’

And I had a strange encounter with Berlin police who it seems cannot look around them.

Furthermore I did some account maintenance for Open State, getting things in order for our new CEO who arrives next week.