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Kingair? No, A Fokker!

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

One of the most unexpected moonlighting job stories came to light this week when the King of the Netherlands, 50 year-old King Willem-Alexander, revealed that for more than 20 years he has been a co-pilot on scheduled flights for the Dutch national airline, KLM. 


King Willem-Alexander, 50, said he has ended his role as a regular 'guest pilot' after 21 years on KLM's fleet of Fokker 70 planes while he previously also flew jets for Dutch carrier Martinair.  He announced that he will now retrain to fly Boeing 737s as the Fokkers are being phased out of service.

This news comes as a surprise to many, since the king has always kept a low profile, flying only once or twice a week and always as a co-pilot.  The father of three and monarch to 17 million Dutch citizens calls flying a 'hobby' that lets him leave his royal duties on the ground and fully focus on something else.

'You have an aircraft, passengers and crew. You have responsibility for them,' the king told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. 'You can't take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying.'

Willem-Alexander said he is rarely recognized by passengers in his uniform, especially since security was tightened on board planes in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.   'Before September 11, the cockpit door was open. People regularly came to have a look and thought it was nice or surprising that I was sitting there.'  When he makes announcements to passengers, Willem-Alexander says that as a co-pilot he doesn't have to give his name.  'But most people don't listen anyway,' he added.

True, the Dutch Royal House of Orange is much more low-key than its British counterpart, where second-in-line to the throne, Prince William, also part-times as a pilot, flying a local air ambulance helicopter close to his Norfolk home but William makes no pretence to hide his identity, which must leave some of his rescue patients more than a little non-plussed.  And let’s face it, being King of modern-day Holland doesn’t exactly sound like a full-time occupation so who could blame him for wanting to full his extra time doing something he loves and doing it for love, not for money?

I’ve sometimes wondered what it must be like to be born royal, wealthy and immensely privileged so that you never have to consider a career, at least not one that is expected to offer much in the way of financial reward. In England, in previous centuries, the eldest sons of landed gentry and titled folk had every expectation of inheriting the family fortunes and estates, through the statute of primogeniture, or inheritance by the first-born.


Though they would have been expected to involve themselves in the running of the estate, that still left a fair amount of free time to pursue the usual country sports of hunting, shooting and fishing and spend time in the grand house in London, taking in the theatre, visiting one,s tailor and drinking at one’s club.

But today, such a life, though still enjoyed by a privileged few, is not the norm.  We look at the likes of Prince Charles and wonder ‘what do you actually DO all day?’.  Of course he has a diary of royal engagements but they by no means fill up his calendar, leaving an awful lot of spare time to tend his beloved Highgrove garden where, by his own admission, he talks to his plants to encourage them to thrive. 


If that sounds a little dotty, it probably is – that’s what having no real job till your mother pops her clogs can do to you, particularly as his mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is still going strong at 91, leaving Charles, now 68, still twiddling his green thumbs, a once and future king but not just yet.

Consider that, for a moment, if you will.  What must it feel like to be nearly 70 years old and know that your ‘proper job’, the one you’ve supposedly been preparing for for most of your life, is still ahead of you, at some unknown time in the future.  It’s even feasible, though not necessarily likely, that he could shuffle off his mortal coils before his dear mama, sending him to his grave without ever having reached his full potential, nor claimed his rightful title.  

Meanwhile it has been announced that as his grandson, Prince George, has been enrolled in a London prep school in September, Prince William, Charles’ eldest son, will be relocating to the capital with his wife and family which will mean he has to give up his part-time rescue work so he too will effectively be out of work.  

So let’s celebrate the quirkiness and work-iness of Dutch King Willem-Alexander who, a couple of times a week, dons the uniform of an airline First Officer and takes to the skies with a planeload of hoi-polloi passengers, not for guts and glory, not to win the approval of his subjects who might otherwise think him somewhat of a dilettante like his British would-be counterparts, but just for the sheer love of flying and doing a job he clearly loves.  And as a wise man once said ‘Find a job you love and you will never work another day in your life’.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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