Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, September 06, 2002
Islamic rap music

In Afghanistan they would have been banned, but luckily in the evil U.S.A. they have a website: the Soldiers of Allah, where you can download Islamic rap music, and all sorts of Islam'y stuff. Hmmm, why would a peace-loving religion need 'Soldiers' anyway?
(via: Tal G. in Jerusalem)

Guns for the Belgian police

Yesterday it was announced that the Belgian police would buy FN P-90 machine-guns for certain anti-gangsterism special units. This gun is quite powerfull, and can shoot though multiple layers of Kevlar. After the recent upheaval about guns for Nepal, all politicians felt the need to comment on this. But one stood out for stupidity: Patrick Vankrunkelsven (I don't even know which party he's in now, he switched a couple of times, long story). He claimed that this would lead to an arms race: because police got better weapons, gangsters would get even bigger ones, and why couldn't we just ban the sale and production of the P-90 anyway?
What planet is he from? The gangsters already have Kalashnikov machine guns, heavy explosives and other stuff. And that's not because the police has heavy stuff too. Pray tell me, oh Patrick, what should the police use to fight these people with? Broomsticks and prayers? Maybe if the police completely disarmed, the gangsters would only use sticks and stones? And banning the P-90? Like that's going to work... plenty of other sources of guns in the world... for the gangsters, that is. The police has to stick to the law.

Flight 93

Two days ago Belgian state television showed the 'Flight 93' documentary, re-enacting the final moments of the fourth hijacked plane on september 11th. Even now I'm still a bit shaken by it. I can't help thinking how it must have felt for the people aboard it: of all four planes, they were probably the only ones that knew what the terrorist scumbags on their plane were up to, thanks to cell- and airphones... Imagine what it must have been like, calling home for the last time, and knowing it.
That the brave counter-attack they mounted against the bastards in the cockpit resulted in the thwarting of their evil plan is the only bright spot in the whole affair. But how much better would it have been if they really had managed to take control and land the plane. But unfortunately life isn't like the movies, and we owe it to those brave passengers to make sure such things never happen again.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

I just helped the ladies of the Fashion Police get their blog on the road. Pop over and have a look... nothing much there yet, but I bet they'll start posting real soon now...

Bad driving

One of the things I love to complain about: other people's bad driving! Over at Kuro5hin they now have The Interstate driving HOWTO, and it rocks...
Although there are a few differences with Belgian highways (higher speed limit, no passing on the right), I found it very recognizeable nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Greek government stupidity

Because Greek government officials are unable to tell the diference between a computer game and a gambling device, they decided to ban *all* electronic games.
How stupid can one get? Here are some more proposals for Greek laws:

  • Because it is hard to distinguish a tank from a car, all vehicles in Greece are banned.
  • Because it is hard to distinguish endangered species from normal meats and vegetables, eating anything is now forbidden.
  • Because alcohol is hard to distinguish from other liquids, drinking anything is now forbidden for minors.
  • Because minors are hard to distinguish from adults, that goes for adults too.
  • Because criminals are hard to distinguish from ordinary people, everybody in Greece will be locked up.
  • Because the Greek government is hard to distinguish from a bunch of idiots... er, no, wait, that one actually is true!

Monday, September 02, 2002
Guns for Nepal: conclusion

A few days ago I wrote about the government crisis here in Belgium concerning the sale of arms to Nepal. In the mean time, this crisis has been resolved, and it turns out to have been a major PR disaster for the Flemish green party (AGALEV). After their minister resigned, the replacement green minister claimed at first they were going to re-evaluate the arms export license. Didn't happen. Then they claimed they would see what happened in parliament. Majority (including greens) voted yes. Then they claimed they had at least been able to delay the export of the weapons until the Nepal elections in november. But, not even allowing the greens this little symbolic victory, the PM stated that the arms would have been delivered in december at the earliest anyway, because of production schedules.
So now the Flemish greens are left with a major black eye and an empty box (the Walloon greens, in an ironic twist, favoured the sale, because the arms factory is in Wallonia and would provide jobs... Nevermind that greens are supposed to ignore those kind of concerns, but when you're competing with the Socialist party for voters you have to make compromises).
And now rumor has it that all of this was a set-up by Louis Michel, the Walloon vice-prime-minister, in order to discredit the Flemish greens for the next elections. Don't you love Belgian politics? (don't answer that one...)

Another perspective on the Saudi thing

Over at Dean's World, there is an insightfull article on the US-Saudi relationship. He compares it to the US-USSR relation during WWII: although they knew Stalin to be an evil dictator, and enemy of the US, they nonetheless allied with him to defeat an even greater evil. Same with the Saudi's: they are evil, but as long as they are nominally allies, they won't get in the way too much... And when Baghdad falls, the Islamist faction in the house of Saud might just fall with it...