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Messages - Frenzie

3
Hobbies & Entertainment / Re: Bicycling
Traffic lights for pedestrians over here are still not halfway as bad as in USA though.
Oh yes, in the US they're completely absurd. Here's a video about it, but I've experienced it firsthand. They had a sign saying something like "wait for cars to turn right before crossing." The first time I did that… and never was able to cross. The second time, I stepped in front of the cars as if I was in Italy.[1]

I determined that the made up nonsense of "jaywalking" (what we call "walking") was probably the safest method of crossing the street, because you can simply do it when there are no cars, whereas the traffic light where you're supposed to cross is:

a. horribly far
b. significantly less safe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ByEBjf9ktY
Meaning ready to jump back but pretending not to.
5
Hobbies & Entertainment / Re: Bicycling
There are usually big problems with a bits-and-pieces approach when trying to improve cyclability: Okay, you will build four bicycle-friendly crossroads, but what about the way for the bicyclists to get to the crossroads?
You have to start somewhere, or you'll get nowhere. I think it's okay to update infrastructure as it naturally approaches its end of life. But keep in mind you can do some easy things to existing infrastructure without upending it completely. That does require an actual plan to extend it, of course. I guess you're implying they have the absurd impression that the work is done?

That's how we did it in the Netherlands. In the '70s it was as car infested as anywhere else. When you look at the Netherlands in the 2020s what you see is the result of four decades of mostly naturally improving things as they needed renovations anyway. It didn't happen overnight. As soon as you start, within a decade you'll see massive improvements. The Netherlands that I grew up in in the '90s was somewhat similar to Belgium (or at least Flanders) today in 2022.

is not accidentally omitting some vital elements that make it work?
One thing they are very much omitting in Belgium despite building fairly properly nowadays, perhaps because it's not so much visible as experienced, is that the traffic lights themselves are programmed differently — of course I mean better. Regardless whether you're driving, cycling or walking, it's just significantly more pleasant in the Netherlands. Here they're more stupid timer-based affairs rather than having '80s-level intelligence.[1]

In the Netherlands, the traffic lights will let you go as soon as it makes sense. You rarely feel like you're waiting for nothing. That's particularly true for pedestrians and cyclists compared to many a country that doesn't seem to have given traffic light programming any thought at all, but by car it's also significantly nicer than elsewhere. For some reason people don't seem to realize that when street design is actually given some thought driving is a million times better too.

Btw, the third article is entitled Comment les piétons investissent les villes. My father likes to tell the anecdote of how back when he did his high school exam in, what was it, '55 I think, one of the assignments was a text about piétons. One of his classmates had written about how if a python wants to cross the street, first he should look left and right, and so forth.

My conclusion is that non-planning is better when it comes to street and road infrastructure. Competent city planners do not exist in this part of the world and overall they are far and few between. Now, I have happened to see really splendid bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly street infrastructure in some West European cities, but the funny thing is that at its very best the result resembles the completely unplanned countryside where I grew up.
I'm not convinced. The '50s through '80s Belgian infrastructure was borderline unplanned and as far as I'm concerned it's atrocious. Though I suppose it was still more or less planned by the local municipalities rather than by the people living in the street. But those needn't be opposites. The municipality can act as an enabler, like it mostly does in the Netherlands.
It's possible that they're even better today in the 2020s but that's neither here nor there.
6
Hobbies & Entertainment / Re: Travelling and such
If it makes no difference, then why go out of your way to block walkers so that there is no chance in hell?
I wasn't talking about Milan Airport of course. That the airport should have proper infrastructure goes without saying. I have no idea what they're smoking over in Italy; that sounds more like something you'd find in Texas. It also goes without saying that you can stroll over from Schiphol to Hoofddorp (or to Amsterdam, but that'll probably take you 3+ hours), or from Zaventem (Brussels Airport) to, um, Zaventem (and Brussels), though I also know walking over from Brussels Airport won't be the most pleasant walk, not in line with the Netherlands.[1] Walking up to Antwerp Airport is perfectly pleasant though, unless you expect to be able to walk across the runway.

Anyway, my point was I don't see a problem with for example Schiphol being a 3 hour walk from Amsterdam given that it's only a 10-30 minute train/bus ride away. And keep in mind the airport also serves many other cities. Being more properly in Amsterdam would arguably make its location worse, geographically speaking.
See here for what parts of that might look like. But maybe there are some nicer paths to be found?
8
Hobbies & Entertainment / Re: Travelling and such
As long as you can conveniently get to the airport by tram/bus/train I don't see what difference it makes? Noise pollution-wise it seems better to have it at a slight distance.
15
DnD Central / Re: What's Going on in Russia?
Samuel Furfari of Université libre de Bruxelles says that Erdogan of Turkey is awesome for achieving the grain deal between Ukraine and Russia.
I can't find the guy saying anything like that in Dutch/French.

Over at Le Figaro, a business banker says that, instead of imposing sanctions on Russia and supporting Ukraine, we should democratically discuss the costs of doing so and then probably not do it.
lol what? They barely cost us anything at all.
17
DnD Central / Re: Should Pot Be Legalized?
I didn't know that cannabis was illegal in Belgium and needed legalising.
It is indeed, but of course not quite in the absurd American sense.

Does "salle de shoot" mean here a (legal) bunker for addicts? Do they already exist anywhere in Belgium already? Are they more like clinics, sobering cells or more like underground clubs?
I believe that in English it's called a supervised injection site.

I think we just call it addict care, and (addict) treatment centers.

Growing weeds became legal, there's no law about trade yet, while public smoking is still illegal.
Weird, but it may well make more sense than effectively the reverse situation we have in the Netherlands and to a lesser extent Belgium.
19
DnD Central / Re: What's going on in Benelux?
If the law only "requires employers to consider" it, then it's not a right.
This article or at least your quote is incorrect or misleading, though of course it's a limited right nonetheless. That employers are required to consider it is the current (well, past) situation. They could just say no. The new situation is that they are required to grant the request if it's "reasonable and fair".

What that means exactly is up to the courts. As an example, an employer might try to refuse all requests by saying going to the office is a requirement for "social cohesion". A judge will then follow through by asking whether it wouldn't suffice for social cohesion to be at the office two days a week.

So no, there's no right to hybrid work, but there's also no employer's right to refuse working from home to grant hybrid work as it's always been until yesterday.

The initial proposal went further, namely that employers would only be able to refuse with weighty arguments. It took a year of negotiations to come up with the final form. Employer's organizations were afraid they wouldn't be able to make people come to the office now and then.

But in essence, employer and employee organizations were both in favor. No one was seriously opposed to some form of solidifying hybrid work as a limited right.
20
DnD Central / Re: The comings and goings of the European Union
The end values and framing of the topic matters a lot. His end values are governance and socio-economic indicators as defined and measured by World Bank and the like, which is perfectly scientific as far as economics and economic history goes. His framing is "colonial legitimation", i.e. the more natives become employed by the colonial institutions and receive its services such as healthcare and education, the more it counts as (legitimate) colonialism, whereas mere slave trade will not count as colonialism insofar as slave traders are mobile between trade posts and do not govern a colony.
Unfortunately I can't remember who wrote it (perhaps the minister of colonies?), but as I said that was almost exactly the argument for why Indonesia shouldn't be independent.

Incidentally, the former colony learned how to be invited as a colonial power: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Free_Choice
21
DnD Central / Re: The comings and goings of the European Union
The first few pages I thought it was tongue in cheek, but it's not.
It seems to be riffing on things people wrote back in the 1920s and 1930s, that we read in history class. The gist of it being self-governance is a lofty goal, but these people aren't ready for it yet.

I find it somewhat amusing that within the internal logic of the article, most of the "anti-colonialism is bad, actually" shtick reads to me like Russian colonialism is a lot worse than Belgian/British/Portuguese colonialism, rather than an actual absence of colonialism.

Put another way, it's not so much the case for colonialism, but the case for 1930s style Western European colonialism.

A random thought:
Quote
“Since gaining independence, Congo has never had at its disposal an army comparable in efficiency and discipline to the former [Belgian colonial] Force Publique,” was Van Reybrouck’s sad conclusion.77 Maybe the Belgians should come back.
The army was there to fight Germany and the locals. It's unclear why we should assume there's some inherent good in it?
22
DnD Central / Re: The comings and goings of the European Union
Now, GDPR in particular is such that it better not be different anywhere, if it is to have any point at all. And it isn't. It has a uniform global effect. Namely, the cookie popups are pretty much global. Another reaction from many American websites is to just block European visitors. The cookie popups and visitor-blocks are global effects of GDPR, but definitely not good effects.

But if you are not experiencing cookie popups globally, then again we have a difference...
The technically legal in some circumstances cookie popups already existed prior to GDPR. The ePR was supposed to come into effect at the same time as GDPR in 2018, but is largely separate except for where the handling of personal data part overlaps.

There is indeed a failure of sorts there being fueled largely by France if I'm not mistaken.

Overall, the video is from an EU-positive British perspective. Brits and Western Europeans have in common a denial of their colonial attitude.
I'm not sure if it's helpful to analyze certain types of at best unhelpful protectionism as colonialism, but yes, it's unfortunately all too present in recent years.
23
DnD Central / Re: The comings and goings of the European Union
while the Eastern EU tries to follow the regulation to the letter with rather adverse results to the common citizen.
Your example above doesn't seem to show that. Crudely paraphrased, the situation regarding direct neighbors hasn't changed substantially, therefore the EU is useless. In practical terms that'll be true much of the time because of course you deal with Finland and Latvia more than with Belgium or Spain. In this limited sense the EU is useless for the entire EU. But when you deal with France or Greece, you're also treated the same way as an EU citizen. The fact that this will often be invisible to a big minority or small majority of the population hardly makes it a net negative. I don't know why you would expect the EU to have much of an impact on relations with your neighbors whom you already had good relations with. When an Estonian peat company ships peat to the Netherlands, it can do so without having to deal with all manner of complex customs nonsense due to common peat standards. The Estonian government would have had to negotiate an individual peat agreement with every country it wants to export peat to. Instead it can just export peat to all of the EU, and outside of the EU on the basis of EU peat trade negotiations with for example the United States.[1]

But I wonder if people younger than you would even agree that it's all that invisible unless you look. Universities are full of Erasmus students from Estonia (and from all over the EU) for example.

To summarise, the most visible effects of GDPR are outright evil. The less visible effects, such as fines on some companies and institutions who treat your data and credentials badly, are incremental. Historically the situation used to be better long before GDPR.
That's not true at all. The situation was significantly worse before GDPR. If it didn't improve in Estonia, then you've disproved your earlier statement that it's just for new members that EU rules make a difference, although obviously any prospective new member will have to align with the EU rather than the reverse. No matter the subject, the situation won't improve in some member states because the EU enforces a certain minimum and any member state is free to go beyond. GDPR makes it so that all of Europe is now similar to how it already was in Germany with regard to personal data, and that's a great improvement pretty much anywhere except for Germany and Estonia.

Without the full story, it is more plausible that bans or threats of bans on imports of raw materials, playing with tariffs etc. is a game of colonialism by the EU. Some countries occasionally lash back against European colonial attitude.
Switzerland isn't in the EU last I checked.
I mention peat because it's the most visible Estonian product that can be found in every store, but of course the same applies to Estonia's IT industry and all other imports and exports. The fact that you pay at least 6-10% less than you otherwise would is invisible.
24
DnD Central / Re: What's Going on in Russia?
Quote
“The fact that the funds have not been transferred to the recipients is not our problem,”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Not our problem seems very cavalier, but afaik the basic tenet of it is true? That is, if you phrased it as "not our fault" instead of "not our problem" it would be accurate. Because no matter whose fault it is, it is their problem.
25
DnD Central / Re: The comings and goings of the European Union
But I'm not talking about shared Dutch or French[1] Requesting the translation aid is a non-issue in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Italy in my experience. There's no need for any kind of certified translation because of that piece of paper. It does indeed make you wonder what purpose it serves at all, and some of the authorities involved might eye it suspiciously[2] but your description is simply not how it has worked for me with birth, marriage and residence certificates — I couldn't tell you about death ones, but I have no reason to assume it's any different.
NB The language is possibly the least shared in archaic officialese.
Ew! Foreign!