Monday, January 31, 2011

Belgium is awesome: fun with statistics

The lottery of birth is responsible for much of who we are. If you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like? Would you be the same person?
This is the introduction to, a site that allows you to quickly and elegantly compare statistics between different countries. I've decided to compare Belgium to the ten countries where most of my readership is from. I've highlighted the stats that are in favour of Belgium because, well, I want Belgium to look good on my blog. As a result, you may feel that your own country is put in a bad light. If this is the case, please feel free to retaliate with a similar blog post of your own.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kim Clijsters wins the Women's Singles at the Australian Open

 "I finally feel like you guys can call me 'Aussie Kim' because I won the title," the popular winner said in her victory speech.
I don't enjoy tennis nearly enough to write much about this, but if you're interested there's a nice story over at The Sunday Morning Herald. What the article doesn't mention, however, is that the Girls' Singles was also won by a Belgian: An-Sophie Mestach. Congratulations, Belgium!

The smartest human in the world is also the Belgian of the week


I know little to nothing about Bert Kruismans except for the fact that he's from Aalst and is possibly the only Flemish comedian to do most of his work among the francophones of Wallonia. Oh, and he also just won the final season of Flanders' ridiculously popular quiz show "De Allerslimste Mens Ter Wereld".

Friday, January 28, 2011

How many Belgian road workers does it take to fill a hole?

Watch the video of the week, filmed yesterday in Leuven, to find the answer.

Jukebox Friday: Sandra Kim - J'aime la vie

The 1986 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Bergen, Norway on 3 May. The winner was 13-year-old Sandra Kim from Liège, whose song was titled "J'aime la vie" ("I love life"). Even though she lied about her age to get into the competition (the age limit in the contest was 15 at the time), she was allowed to keep her victory. This is Belgium's only win in the Eurovision Song Contest to date.

New column: Song of the week

As soon as I'd posted one "Belgian of the week" I forgot all about the column. I apologize. It won't happen again (at least not on purpose).

This little slip doesn't keep me from inventing new columns, though. Starting today, I'm going to post one song by a Belgian artist every week. Suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Belgian trains set a record in delays and cancellations

Most people around the world probably think the trains should be more on time. Today Belgians got some solid numbers to back up this claim.

Today's Metro reveals some shocking figures from a recent report by Infrabel, the company which manages Belgium's railway infrastructure. The fact is that trains in Belgium have never been more delayed than they are now.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slide show from my 2009 summer holidays in Belgium

Between 10 and 27 July 2009 I visited my fiancé and her family in Belgium. This slide show is mostly from the vast amount of sightseeing I did (why does that sound twice as boastful the day after posting?). The rest stays in the private collection.

Hope this convinces at least some of you to come see this wonderful country.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gossip about Kim Clijsters, lose job

Sports don't usually catch my interest, but this story made me laugh. It's old news by now, but that's never stopped me.

Kim Clijsters (b. 1983 in Bilzen) is Belgium's biggest female star on the tennis court. As of 6 December 2010 she is ranked World No. 3 in singles and in doubles.

On Thursday she had just defeated her second-round opponent in the Australian Open when retired tennis star Todd Woodbridge approached her for a postmatch interview. Clijsters seized the opportunity to call him out on a text message he had sent to another tennis player, Rennae Stubbs. Here's the clip.

I don't know whether Woodbridge did lose his job or not, but this definitely didn't make him any more popular.

Read more at ESPN

Friday, January 21, 2011

Collective nicknames in Belgium

From Wikipedia:
Besides or replacing the demonym, some cities and villages have collective nicknames for their inhabitants. This tradition is still strong nowadays in Wallonia (Belgium), where this sort of nickname is referred to in French as "Blason populaire".
This is not only true for Wallonia. Here's a monster post of collective nicknames from all over Belgium, with some curious back-stories to boot.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bart De Wever cancels plans to return to De Allerslimste Mens Ter Wereld

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, Bart De Wever attracted much attention for appearing on the popular VRT quiz show De Allerslimste Mens Ter Wereld while at the same time being entrenched in cabinet negotiations after winning the 2010 federal elections.

The next week of the show will see the top ranking players from this season pitched against each other to determine who will be the "very smartest human in the world". Today, however, Belgian newspapers report that De Wever has cancelled his plans to return to the show. From Het Laatste Nieuws (translated by Google and yours truly):
"I want my calendar and my head free for the political negotiations," said De Wever.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Late winter in Hallerbos

Hallerbos ('Halle Forest') is popular among people of this region who enjoy afternoon walks in fresh air among towering trees. The forest is famous for its bluebell blossoms which cover the forest floor each spring, attracting thousands of visitors.

Today the family had the first Hallerbos Sunday stroll of the year. This was the first time I got to see the forest in its winter dress. All the sparkling green was gone and had been replaced by discreet shades of red, black, brown and grey.

The lack of foliage allowed me to look much deeper into the forest than before. I half expected something to look back at me from the shadows between the silent oaks. (photos after the jump)

New column: Belgian of the week

This weekend I introduced a new regular column, "Belgian of the week". It will appear every Saturday and will feature men and women, young and old, the living and the dead, writers, poets, actors, scientists, celebrities, politicians and other criminals, all remarkable people who help to make Belgium what it is today.

You can find the first post here. Let's see how this works out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Belgian of the week: Bart De Wever

Bart De Wever (b. 1970) is a Flemish politician who in 2004 became the chairman of the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), a party which strives to make Flanders an independent European state. In 2010, his party won the federal elections by a landslide. Since then, De Wever has been tasked with helping to form a functioning Belgian government.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Things that are great about Belgium

When I lived in Norway, I thought I lived in the best country in the world, and chances are that I did. But darn it, this place is pretty neat. Here are nine things that make Belgium a pretty great place to live in - at least to a guy who used to live here. Most of it is food, for some reason.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The national flag of Belgium

(UPDATE: The .svg files in this post are not viewable in Firefox but work perfectly in Google Chrome. Just saying.)

If you like flags, you're gonna love this.

Friday, January 7, 2011

De Slimste Mens Ter Wereld and Bart De Wever

De Slimste Mens Ter Wereld ("The Smartest Human In The World") is a quiz show on the Dutch-language TV station Eén. So far, nine seasons have been produced, with the ninth - an "all-star" show featuring winners from previous seasons - aptly named De Allerslimste Mens Ter Wereld ("The Very Smartest Human In The World").

Ten Belgian comics, vol. II

(part one here)

Here are some more gems from the voluptuous Belgian comics industry, once more in no particular order.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Belgium 2011: my prophesies

Having spent eight months in Belgium as an unemployed free-loader, do I know enough about this amazing country to make some dubious predictions for the coming year? Absolutely! After all, Nostradamus got 9/11 right, and he never even visited the United States.

Here are eight prophecies, one for each month I've spent in Belgium so far. May there be many more!