Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Folklore and new technology

Today is a colourful day in the Dutch government centre of The Hague. Today it is princes’ day. It is a rather folkloristic event, in which the Queen and members of the royal family figure. Queen Beatrix will be carried around in the Gold carriage (for a pdf cut-out model) from her palace to the Houses of Parliament, while the prince royal, Prince Alexander, will follow with his consort Princess Maxima. The royal tifosi will line the route. The royal family is still rather popular in the Netherlands and has become more popular since the wedding of the heir apparent with Princess Maxima. Even convinced republicans (like me) have no problem with the royal family as Beatrix takes her task seriously and Prince Alexander and Princess Maxima are seriously performing in respectively water management and micro-credit.

This folkloristic event is coupled to the annual opening of the Dutch parliament. After the tour Queen Beatrix enters the Parliament building and reads a document comparable to the State of the Union. The wording of this document has been made comprehensible over the years. All the members of parliament, consisting of two houses, are present. Especially the lady members of the parliament compete with each other in wearing hats; it looks a little like Lady’s Day in Ascot (England). This year the competition will be stiff as there will be elections in November.

On this day the budget for 2007 will also be presented. The minister of Finances will show an attaché case to the members of parliament. So far this budget, including the departmental budgets, addenda, press releases and other papers, have been presented in print; the volumes of this printed work weighs over a kilo in paper. But this will change this year as journalists will receive the budget on a 1Mb USB memory stick.

The budget was already published on a CD-ROM for some years as a product of the Staatsdrukkerij, comparable to Her Majesty’s Stationary Office (HMSO) in the UK. But as an extra service to the journalists, they will receive the complete text and graphics on a memory stick, so that they immediately can call up the texts and start writing.

(USB-memorysticks have regularly been the talk of the town. Police dettective and high ranking miltary officials have been negligent with these sticks. They were found lying around hired cars or were stoilen from their cars. Trying to save money, the police and military administrators did not buy protected USB memory sticks.)


Blog Posting Number: 513

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