Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Thursday, October 09, 2003
Observations on America (21)


  • Most American towns and cities are arranged in a grid pattern, with the streets following some logical naming convention: east to west are numbered 'streets' or named after presidents or named alphabetically... while north-south are 'boulevards' or geographical names or something else...
    A consequence is that people hardly need to give directions when giving out an address: mostly they just indicate the nearest intersection and expect you to be able to figure out yourself where on the grid that is. Quite easy, compared to the historically grown layout of European cities with their twisting, turning and intersecting streets mostly converging on a central square.

    Arnold for Governor

    Some might expect that people in Belgium find it strange that Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected yesterday. In fact, many people do find it funny that 'those dumb Americans' elected an actor. But actually it shouldn't be that weird at all.
    In fact, right now in Belgium we have politicians in elected positions that were once actors, beauty-queens, sports personalities, writers, news-anchor... So nothing strange there! And certainly no cause for mocking either, consequently...

    Tuesday, October 07, 2003
    Observations on America (20)

    My, my, twenty observations already!

  • American television channels fill an incredible amount of screen space with news tickers, station logos, clocks, stock quotes, weather information and other assorted junk. The rest of the space is left for actual programs. Except when there are commecials on, then the entire screen is used...

    Michael Moore Says Something Interesting?

    Many people have been bashing Mr. Moore's 'seven questions' in the blogosphere (here is the relevant Guardian article).

    But just as with 'Bowling for Columbine', Moore seems to be making some kind of point while causing an enormous cloud of controversy obscuring the interesting implications of the conclusion.

    For example, 'Columbine' made the point (valid or not) that it aren't guns that create the violence in the U.S.A., because in other countries they have guns too and yet they aren't as violent as the U.S.A. (Canada, is the example in BFC). So actually BFC isn't really anti-gun. It is more anti-American, or anti-scared-Americans, or whatever... But all of that got lost in the controversy about the distortions, half-truths and manipulations it contained.

    It would have been interesting, in my opionion, to ask Moore how he would solve the problem of violence in America. Not by banning guns, I suppose, because they aren't the problem (Moore says so himself in his movie). The point of his movie seems to be that the violence is caused by white people scared by the media. So the conclusion then would be...?

    But everybody is too busy attacking the movie so the question never gets asked...

    Same with these 'seven questions'. Moore makes vague accusations of Saudi-Bush complicity, FBI conspiracies and Saudi 9-11 involvement. Suppose some of his questions have a grain of truth in them. What conclusions should we draw then, Mr. Moore? Oh, Bush should be impeached, probably (seeing as it is Michael Moore asking the questions). But what then?

    Should the U.S. Army point it's divisions in Iraq southward? Should Mecca be nuked? Should Wahabism be exterminated?

    Alas, nobody is asking these questions, because everybody is too busy bashing Moore for bashing Bush... (here and here).

    Monday, October 06, 2003
    Hint for Journalists

    The white area is where Saddam might have sought uranium, according to G.W. Bush in his State of the Union.
    The purple area is where this Wilson guy says Saddam didn't look.

    You're welcome!

    Observations on America (19)

    Almost twenty...

  • Free soda drink refills seem to be pretty standard at most eating places. Nice! Not so in Belgian restaurants: you order another coke, you pay for another coke! But then again, they don't expect a tip afterwards so it might even out in the end...

    Terrible Weekend

    Some dweeb coming from a dancing hit my parked car on saturday morning. He had a learner's permit, and obviously still needed to learn a lot. Like not to hit parked cars at high speed... I mean, his freaking front right wheel came nearly of! My rear right wheel, aside from being jammed in folded up bodywork, stood at an odd angle and this meant no more driving with that car...

    The impact also caused my car to hit the neighbour's car parked in front of it: more damage! Scratches to my front bumper and to the rear bumper of the other car. Drats!

    Pictures of the whole thing can be found here, for all of you disaster tourists... (my car is the dark blue one).

    Took me most of the morning to get the insurance papers filled out properly, as the dweeb didn't even have his insurance papers in his car so his dad had to bring them first.

    The only good thing that happened was that when I phoned the lease company one hour later they were already there with a temporary replacement car and a tow truck to take my car to a garage. The new car was a brand new Ford Focus, but you can't have everything...