Built for Belgian Roads

When we first moved to Belgium, Eve and I derived a fair bit of amusement from the fact that you could always tell when you crossed the Dutch-Belgian border from the road noise.

Dutch roads, in general, are well built, well maintained and very quiet to drive on. Belgian roads… aren’t.

It appears that some marketing hack at Mitsubishi has made the same observation.


The Joy of Automation

I have long been a keen advocate of automating everything. As far as I am concerned, any job that can be automated should be automated — and will be automated unless someone explicitly tells me not to. It’s an attitude that has saved my sanity in more than one occasion when I’ve found myself single-handedly supporting a business critical application.

It also earned me a fair bit of leeway when my manager, thinking I was awake at 2:00am resolving issues with overnight jobs, would say nothing about my inability to drag myself out of bed.

But it never got me promoted.

I take my hat off to Serge, who was promoted for slacking off, and to Louis, who was given a pay rise for oversleeping. I really must try harder to do less.

Quote of the day: And Another Thing

The Resorts of Han Wavel were so obscenely luxurious that it was said a Breqindan male would sell his mother for a night in the Sandcastle Hotel’s infamous vibro-suite, This is not as shocking as it sounds as parents are accepted currency on Brequinda and a nicely moisturized septuagenarian with a good set of teeth can be traded for a mid-range family moto-carriage.

Eoin Colfer

Let’s not ruin a beautiful evening

European leaders’ beer summit as Britain dines alone

After Wednesday night’s inconclusive Brexit dinner, French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel walked back to their hotel together.

After a leisurely 25-minute stroll through Brussels’ old town, Macron received a text message from Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel: “Come and join us.”

A few minutes later Macron, Merkel, Bettel and Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel were sat round a convivial table on the city’s Grand-Place, beers in hand.

My favorite part of this story, though, comes from VRT, which notes that Visitors from Germany and the US struck up a conversation with the leaders. Inevitably, someone asked about Brexit, to which Angela Merkel replied:

It’s a beautiful evening, let’s not spoil it!

Quote of the day: The eleven percent

[I]t comes as a big surprise to almost nobody that a survey earlier this year found that 41 per cent of internet users entering personal information online tend to falsify their details. Wonderfully, only 30 per cent of respondents did so out of security concerns, which means another 11 per cent did so out of sheer unbridled mischief.

I love you, 11 per cent. You are my kind of people.

Alistair Dabbs

A local party for local people

It’s Local Election day in Belgium on Sunday and, in my part of the world, there’s a new kid on the block. One of the parties standing is determinedly local and claiming to eschew ideology in favour of pragmatic solutions to local issues.

They are not unique and I have subsequently become aware of several other parties standing in a single community. Obviously, I know little to nothing of other campaigns but here the new kids look quite appealing. The party is made up up a mix of business owners, liberals and others and their program does promise to be as pragmatic as they suggest.

The only things that put me off a bit is their newness and the fact that, as far as I can tell, only two people on the list have any actual experience of local government.

That and The League of Gentlemen.

On a related note, local elections in Belgium are well worth taking seriously because (compared to the UK), local councils have a remarkable amount of power. The country as a whole is very decentralised and when you look at the number of things for which the town council has direct responsibility, it becomes clear just this decentralisation has gone.