I never imagined a 12-foot tower of orange rubber work gloves could be so sublime. Before walking around the Schipbreuk- en Juttersmuseum on the little Dutch island of Texel, beachcombing meant a shell or two picked up on vacation, something to decorate the bathroom, a sand dollar if I was lucky. The jutters (beachcombers) of Texel have brought the regurgitated goods spat up from the North Sea and built from them a new city of salvation.

 

The Juttersmuseum on Texel is 70 years’ worth of beach-combed curiosities, collected and displayed for the general public. Texel is one of the Frisian islands in the Wadden Sea, meaning Texel can also be described as “remote.” It lies west of the Netherlands, the first island in an archipelago that arcs all the way to Denmark. If you started… More…

A war has been brewing in Europe and no one seems to care. Admittedly, the hostilities have been mild so far: hurt feelings, insults, diplomatic wrangling. Yves Leterme (a Flemish politician) questioned whether people in the French-speaking part of Belgium have the “intellectual capacity” to learn Dutch. Belgium, Leterme suspects, holds together as a nation only because of three things: “king, national football team and certain beers.” Not even all the beers.

 

Belgium is not the most obvious candidate for a unified state. It is, and arguably always has been, deeply and fundamentally divided between the French-speaking southern half of the country (Wallonia) and the Dutch-speaking northern half of the country (Flanders). The separation runs back to the Frankish invasions of the area back around the fifth century, which is a pretty longstanding divide even by European standards…. More…