Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
Mail me...

Friday, May 09, 2003
 
Good for a Chuckle or Two

The Lemon: History Of The Internet

Wednesday, May 07, 2003
 
Election Frustrations

Why is it that politicians on the campaign trail never give a straight answer to a straight question? With the elections nearing, we are bombarded with interviews of the respective heavyweights of all parties, but none of them seem to be able to answer a question with 'yes' or 'no'. Some questions I'd like answered:
  • Are you going to raise taxes?
  • Will you consider a coalition with the Green party if the numbers allow it?
  • Will you vote down the now infamous 'Genocide Law' with its universal reach?
  • Do you feel the economy is important and if so, what do you plan to do in order to repair Belgo-American relations?
Unfortunately, right now all I hear is vague weaseling on all questions, and the last one isn't even mentioned at all by anyone here in the media.
And so I still don't know who to vote for...

Tuesday, May 06, 2003
 
Meanwhile in Belgium

The rest of the world might still care what happens in Iraq, but in Belgium news about that country has completely vanished from the front pages of the newspapers or the headlines of the TV news. What keeps Belgium awake? Night flights by cargo jets... literally!
The airport of Brussels is located in Zaventem, a community just outside the highway looping around Brussels. People living around the airport have been complaining for years about noisy cargo planes taking off at night, keeping them awake. Recently, after much ballyhoo and 'frank exchanges of ideas' in the government an agreement was reached: the flights would be concentrated above certain areas, to reduce overall noise pollution. Naturally, the people living in these areas didn't agree...
But the point was that the government had reached an agreement between all political parties in the coalition. And then, just like that, the minister of transportation (from the French speaking Green party Ecolo) refused to carry out the agreement. When the P.M. threatened to take away her authority on transportation matters, she refused to come to cabinet meetings for as long as the P.M.'s threat remained. "I won't work with a gun to my head", she claimed.
But the P.M. stood his ground, backed by all parties except Ecolo, in both parts of the country! For Belgium, that is quite a unique event... The minister was stripped of her authority, after which she and the other minister from her party resigned.
Belgium being Belgium, two new ministers were quickly appointed, one from each remaining French speaking coalition party (the number of Dutch speaking ministers has to be equal to the number of French speaking ones at all times according to the constitution, even if they have to invent new ministries for it).
All of this with less than three weeks to go before a national election...


Monday, May 05, 2003
 
Ooomph!

James Lileks has done it again: go read his latest piece. It knocked the wind out of me just by reading it...