December 26th, 2008


Blogging barmaid booted by Belgians

I can't imagine how I missed this story at the time: several weeks ago, Nathalie Lubbe Bakker, a Dutchwoman working in a Belgian bar in New York, wrote a blog entry about the atrocious behaviour of the Belgian defence minister who dropped in one evening after a particularly pointless taxpayer-funded transatlantic flight. Nathalie then mysteriously got sacked a few days later, after a mysterious phone call from the Belgian defence ministry to the bar owner, once the story had hit the Belgian press.

On the one hand, if you are working in any industry and write blog entries about your dealings with your customers, identifying them by name, it is a clear violation of professional confidence, and you can expect to lose your job. (Had she just been a fellow customer, that would be a completely different matter, of course.)

On the other hand, if you are the Belgian defence minister and you turn up stinking drunk in a New York bar and start singing bawdy Flemish folk songs, you can expect that the story will get back home. There is some justice in the fact that De Crem lost his job, along with the entire government, last week; with any luck, he will be among the ministers who don't return once the new government is formed, whenever that is.

December Books 11) Nation

11) Nation, by Terry Pratchett

A lot of people have been raving about this, and why it is the best Pratchett book for ages. It is set in a mildly alternate universe, in what might or might not be the South Pacific (the mutiny on the Bounty and Moby Dick are referenced); in Pratchett's characteristic liberal humanist way, religion and good behaviour are explored, in a coming-of-age tale for his two teenage protagonists. Lots of gently witty one-liners, but the one that will linger with me longest is the observation that "the perfect world is a journey, not a place". Awfully good.