Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

I am a beer-sipping expat

In Brussels it has rained consistently for the entire duration of this year. This turned the press corps even more whiny than usual about the city. In fact, it looks like I am not alone in flanking this city. As put by the Wall Street Journal, “beer-sipping expats and whole Facebook pages love to moan about Brussels life”.

Meanwhile, the newspaper translated into common jargon the Commission’s country-specific recommendations for Belgium, with suggestions like: “the traffic jams are so bad you are wasting 2% of gross domestic product”; “you guys are really uncompetitive”; and “you guys have the most unfairest tax system”. The article, which you can read here, is basically a list of Belgium’s problems taken entirely from the Commission’s recommendations, available in all the country’s official languages. The article, of course, does not compare Brussels to London or Paris (although The Telegraph did a while ago, and Brussels won). But it provoked an interesting debate on Brussels, which continued on twitter with the hashtag #ceplatpays, which was used for positive and creative news about Belgium. These include:

  • moules-frites at Place Jourdan
  • comic book murals
  • Archiduc
  • the triumphal arch in the late afternoon
  • septante and nonante
  • Tripel Karmelit
  • the Turkish shop down the street
  • the eccentric old ladies in Grand Place


Why does France insist school pupils master philosophy?

I have been staring in admiration over the shoulder of my 17-year-old daughter, as she embarks on a last mental rehearsal before a much-dreaded philosophy exam. My primary thought is: Thank the Lord I was spared the torment.

I mean, can you imagine having to sit down one morning in June and spend four hours developing an exhaustive, coherent argument around the subject: Is truth preferable to peace?

Or: Does power exist without violence?

Or possibly: Can one be right in spite of the facts?

Read the article on BBC News Europe.