Author Archives: Jan Van Haver

Quote of the day #97

“When men and women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different.”

George Santayana


Doctors defined from economic point of view

Doctors are women and men who have studied years and years, gathering the best knowledge available to help you solve health issues whenever those arrive, right? Well, yes of course that is a good definition (and I’m absolutely thrilled that they are there and do just that), but it does not cover all possible angles.

Let’s for example try to come up with addtional definitions for some subcategories of the medical profession, from an economic perspective:

  • medical specialist: someone who will only make some decent money if whatever is wrong with you is caused by something related to her/his specialty
  • surgeon: someone who only makes money if (s)he can cut you open
  • plastic surgeon: someone who stops earning money when you look perfect
  • psychiatrist: someone who stops earning money the minute (s)he utters the words “There is nothing wrong with you.”
  • general practitioner: someone who will only keep earning money from you if (s)he consistently provides you with the correct diagnosis

OK, admittedly that’s all a bit over the top (except for the last one), but still it can be a very useful dimension to keep in mind when seeking medical advice.

Just asking #4: Translating metric units

Some countries mainly have dubbing or voice-over for movies and TV shows (Germany and France to name a few obvious examples), in others subtitles are being used. The latter is true for the Dutch speaking part of Belgium – where I often spend some time watching subtitled video content. [For those who have ever wondered why more or less everyone in the Dutch speaking area is quite fluent in English: exposure to video content in English with subtitles in Dutch is definitely a key element.] And what has always puzzled me is the way some English or American metric units of distance are being translated into Dutch subtitles.

You have to realize that 2 ‘levels’ of translation are happening when creating that particular bit of subtitles: at the first level, the words are translated, but for the metric unit there is an additional layer of translation as the anglo-saxon metric unit needs to be converted into the international one. I completely agree that in an sentence such as “The top speed of this car is 154 mph”, the translation of the speed should be “248 km/h”. But what about “The next town is 20 miles down the road”. Should the 20 become “32,2 km” (as I’ve already seen in actual subtitles)? Or should it be “32 km”? Or simply “30 km”? To me the last option definitely seems to be the most natural one – and certainly the one that best captures the underlying meaning of the original phrase, as that was most probably not meant to mean “exactly 20 miles, not 19,9 or 21,1”, but rather “something roughly in the neighbourhood of 20 miles”. So is 20 miles 32,2 km or 30 km? Just asking…


Quote of the day #96

“Dictatorship is a mushroom on the dung heap of national despair.”

Alexander Comstock Kirk (US diplomat)


Song of the day: Portishead – Glory Box

Give me a reason not to like this song. In a lot of cases, songs with electrical guitars in them, contain – for my personal taste – too much of it. But not in this Glory Box. Here it is an element that perfectly blends in with the mix of melancholy and restraint that unites the other musical instruments and lead singer Beth Gibbon’s voice. Definitely one of my favorites from the 90’s (also because it contains a sample of a Belgian classic from the 60’s : Daydream by Wallace Collection).


Open letter to all business owners

Dear business owner,

As you might have noticed while observing every life around you these days, quite a few of the phenomena that have become extremely popular among a large part of the population (obviosuly including a sizeable chunck of your customers) are focused on sharing things – more often than not online. On Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter to name just a few.

A smaller group of people is sharing not only their personal experiences and the pictures of their pets (or kids, or food, or hobbies, or any combination of those – never seen the one with the cat seemingly playing the guitar being chased by the kid covered in spagehtti sauce?), but also knowlegde and/or useful information. Wikipedia is the obvious example there. But also the Local Guide initiative from Google belongs in this category: ordinary people all over the world Continue reading


Quote of the day #95

“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

Sun Tzu (in The Art of War)