Yes, humans are capable of creating a happy and successful liberal society: The Netherlands

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As U.S. headlines bombard us with proof of how low humanity can go, here's a look at a happy, peaceful, and prosperous country -- The Netherlands -- to remind us that it is actually possible for the human race to get it right. If people want to change present circumstances through liberal ideals, it's helpful to look at a liberal, politically stable country with a strong and open economy. Also known as Holland, the country does not have the same history and culture that creates the inherent social and economic problems in the U.S., but it is clearly moving in the right direction -- forward.

It's a great destination for liberal ex-patriates looking for a place to live and work -- especially in the tech sector -- that already has its shit together, in case you really are now considering moving out of the country. Staying or going, it makes sense to see what a liberal society looks like and how it works. 

We've compiled a list of facts about The Netherlands to show you what humans can do when they're not fighting en masse on Twitter:

The Dutch government plans to ban the sales of petrol and diesel-powered cars in 2025Healthiest country in the world for dietKeeps closing prisons due to a lack of prisonersFirst to legalize same-sex marriageHighest concentration of museums in the worldHighest English-proficiency in the world where it is not first languageHighest population density in EuropeHome to more bikes than peopleCycling in the Netherlands is the safest in the worldAmsterdam’s Schiphol airport offers more direct flights than any airport in the world83 percent of the population live in urban areas but there are few high risesLargely secular country: up to 40 percent of Dutch say they have no religion, 30 percent are Catholic, and 20 percent are Protestant. Read the rest

Delft plates with images of nuclear power stations

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The Atomteller plates update the Dutch tradition of plates that feature windmills with more up-to-date power-generation -- nukes: "Monuments of error - hope of yesterday - folklore of tomorrow." €39 each, 20cm in diameter. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

To do in San Francisco: Richard Kadrey and Thomas Olde Heuvelt on July 17

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Coming to San Francisco's SF in SF reading series this Sunday, July 17: Richard "Sandman Slim" Kadrey & Thomas Olde Heuvelt, the Dutch author of "The Day the World Turned Upside Down," the first translated work to ever win a Hugo Award. Read the rest

Fold-flat furniture looks like isomorphic illustrations when it's collapsed

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Jongha Choi's Master's thesis for Design Academy Eindhoven involved the creation of "De-dimension" furniture, which collapses into a flat, easily stored form when it's not in use -- but when it's in its flat form, it looks like a perspective drawing of its expanded shape. Read the rest

Stylish furniture made from discarded supermarket trolleys

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Dutch designer Etienne Reijnders rescues discarded shopping trolleys made by Wanzl, purveyor of the world's largest trolleys, and remakes them into beautiful, minimalist pieces of mid-century-modern-inflected furniture. Read the rest

Gorgeous and colorful vaulted murals of Rotterdam's Markthal

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Rotterdam wanted to honor the history of its public market by creating a space that felt open even though it was enclosed. The resulting Markthal has a beautiful vaulted ceiling adorned with bright murals of food. Read the rest

LED lamp made from real dandelion fluff

Studio Drift's Dandelight uses a "stem" of copper that mounts directly to a 9V battery, and its halo of dandelion seeds are hand-plucked from a real plant and glued, one at a time, to the business-end. Read the rest

Just look at this banana-art.

Just look at it. Read the rest

Snap-together Strandbeest kit

Theo Jansen's amazing, wind-walking Strandbeest (featured in my story the Man Who Sold the Moon) can be had as a 6-inch-cubed snap-together, 80-piece, chunky "rhino" kit: assemble and blow on it and it will walk across your desk with the odd majesty of the Strandbeest. Read the rest

Dutch IT contractor lays out the case for spying on everyone's wearables, always

A promo video from Pinkroccade, a prominent IT contractor to Dutch local governments, makes the case for spying on wearables (if your heart-rate rises because you're about to be mugged, the police could be alerted, and get GPS from your phone, find nearby phones belonging to people with criminal records, check the view from your Google Glass, and respond -- case closed).

Read the rest

How your smartphone betrays you all day long

Ton Siedsma, a lawyer for the Dutch civil liberties group Bits of Freedom, volunteered to have a week's worth of his phone's metadata collected and analyzed by researchers from Ghent University and by Mike Moolenaar. Read the rest

Magnificent contraption: vacuum-cleaner/foam-ball particle accelerator

Niklas Roy's DIY particle accelerator contraption is based on vacuum-cleaner-powered pneumatic tube technology, installed in a beautiful glass pavilion located in the middle of a roundabout in Groningen, The Netherlands.

Read the rest

How accounting forced transparency on the aristocracy and changed the world

In the 16th century, celebrated Dutch painters did a brisk trade in heroic portraits of accountants and their ledgers. That's because accounting transformed the lowlands, literally bringing accountability to the aristocracy by forcing them to keep track of, and report on, their wealth. As Jacob Soll (author of The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations) writes in the Boston Globe, from the 14th century invention of double-entry bookkeeping until the 19th century -- when accounting became a separate profession instead of something that every educated person was expected to practice -- accountancy upended the social order, elevating financial transparency to a primary virtue. Read the rest

Charity collection-boxes shaped like life-sized homeless people

The Dutch homelessness charity Badt dressed mannequins as homeless people, sawed coin-slots in their foreheads, and seeded them around Amsterdam with signs soliciting donations. It's a clever campaign, but it says something a little unpleasant, in that we are apparently more willing to give money to a doll with a slot in its forehead than an actual homeless person. Read the rest

Visualizing inspiring quotes about privacy

Kevin writes, "With the Privacy is a right project I try to visualize the global privacy debate by using quotes on the subject and turn them into large (in real life) visuals. I started out with key figures in this debate (such as Edward Snowden, Kirsty Hughes and even Cory Doctorow) but now everyone can react and share their view on the subject by submitting a quote on the site. Any inspiring quote will then be turned into art by me. Some of the visuals will be part of my graduation exposition (25th - 29th of June) for the Willem de Kooning Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam, the Netherlands."

Read the rest

Dutch court unblocks The Pirate Bay

A Dutch court has ruled that the country's ISPs need no longer block The Pirate Bay. The court ruled that the block was disproportionate and ineffective, and ordered (notoriously corrupt) rightsholder group BREIN to pay restitution to ISPs, including XS4ALL, an ISP with a long tradition of fighting for free speech and the open net. Read the rest

Dutch Masters recreated as exploded, mixed-media collages

Michael Mapes's Dutch Masters series recreates 17th century paintings as blown-mosaics composed of "photographic prints, insect pins, pinning foam, gelatin capsules, glass vials, optomotrist lens, paint samples, modeling clay, dried botanical matter, fabric, magnifying box, plastic specimen bags, cotton thread" (what a list!).

His other work applies similar techniques to other subjects. Man, I love this stuff. Read the rest

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