Live from Brussels
Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Bush in Baghdad
I was a little bit worried yesterday when they interrupted normal radio broadcasting for a special news bulletin. But then it turned out that it was because G.W. Bush had made a surprise visit to the troops in Baghdad, and also to the provisional ruling council.
I don't care what anybody says about that visit (propaganda ploy, electioneering, stuntwork...). I think it was a brilliant, balsy move, guaranteed to impress and encourage the people it was meant for. As to all the critics, they hate his guts anyway and one more event like this won't change that at all.
Even under utmost secrecy it takes guts to land on an airfield where just days ago some crazy jihadi loonies fired rockets at a cargo plane that was also non-military. And a mortar shell won't stop just because you happen to be the P.O.T.U.S.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Skynet Blogs Improvement Launched!
Great day at work today! We finally launched the new features of Skynet Blogs, Belgium's finest (and only) blogging service. Improvements include blogging via cellphone text messages, customizable skins and a bunch of new stuff that can be added to blog sidebars...
To see some of the new features in action, visit my work blog... (I keep the politics here, on blogger, to avoid any conflict of interest).
Flemish Block Letter
Here is the letter mentioned two posts down. There are two letters in the file: the first one is in Dutch and is adressed to the television station that is to air the 'offending' West Wing episode. The second one is adressed to the U.S. Ambassador ad interim in Belgium.
Apparently, FDW does not ask to pull the episode off the air directly. In his Dutch letter all he does is ask if it is opportune to show the episode. And in the English letter he asks for a meeting with the ambassador to explain the true nature of his party to her.
If you ask me, stupid move: he'll gain nothing and it will only cause more publicity for the episode in question, thus guaranteeing higer ratings and making it even more likely to be shown (possibly even earlier than planned...).
Terrorism? Or Stupidity?
Funny story in the Belgian media today: somebody noticed a suspicious box attached to a streetlamp and called the cops. They in turn called the explosives disposal unit of the army (DOVO). DOVO blows up the box, just to be sure. A short while later in another town, same scenario.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Traffic Safety is doing a study on Belgian driver behaviour, using small radar speed detectors to automatically count the traffic and record average speed. They wonder why somehow somebody blew up two of their radars... Two times € 2000 of taxpayer money down the drain...
Now they put stickers with their phone number on all their boxes...
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
The West Wing
A minor flap has evolved in the Belgian media about an episode of 'The West Wing', an American science-fiction series in which a Democrat is president of the U.S.A. Belgian blogger Luc Van Braekel had the story two weeks ago, but now the newspapers and people involved have started noticing too.
What is all the fuss about? In the series, Martin Sheen, who plays the president, is worried about the Belgian election results, because 'the anti-immigrationalists are gaining in the north!' And who are they? He calls them by name: 'The Flemish Block, ultra-nationalists in Belgium. Skinheads really, neo-nazis. They're wearing three-piece suits, speaking in coded discourse now instead of angry chants, and they're gaining in the North'.
The Flemish Block happens to be a real party here, which is really gaining in the north... And they are not happy about being called skinheads and neo-nazis. So they do what any decent person who is insulted by a fictional character would do: complain to the media, thus ensuring even greater publicity for the whole affair. Filip Dewinter, a very prominent Flemish Block politician, even intends to write to the U.S. ambassador...
Aside from the fact that the episode in question will probably only be show in Belgium in two years (yes, the series is that far behind here), what does he hope to accomplish? I guess the U.S. ambassador's reply will be short: sorry, we can't do anything, see amendment 1 of our constitution, have a nice day...
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Watched a DVD with my wife tonight: Tillsammans (trans. 'Together'), a Swedish movie about a woman and her two kids who go live with her brother in a communal house after her husband hits her. Of course, the house is full of pinko commie hippies, and hilarity ensues...
To give just one example: one of the hippie couples removed the Pippi Longstockings children's book because Pippi is a materialistic capitalist (that bag of gold coins and all...). Another one: one of the inhabitants is a librarian by training, but his party (the Marxist-Leninist communist league or something similar) wants him to work as a welder so he can be next to the workers. Result: burnt fingers all the way...
The movie was made in 2000 but is set in the seventies. The makers did such a great job at recreating the period (including in the credits) that at first I thought I was watching a real seventies movie! The horrible floral patterns on the walls, the completely wrong clothes, the awful music... Everything was there. Being born in 1976 I only have vague memories of the period, but everything sure looks like what I remember...
I'm not going to spoil the ending, but suffice to say that if you are of the a similar opinion as me on communism/socialism/collectivism, you will not be disappointed...
Just saw Steve Stevaert, president of the Flemish Socialist Party (SP.a, part of the ruling coalition in Belgium). He was in a TV-debate about advertising for plastic surgery. Quote: "More and more, we're getting a society where everything that is not forbidden is allowed!"
Erm, Steve? You make it sound like that's a bad thing? Or do you really want to have a society where "everything that is not allowed is forbidden"? Makes sense, for a socialist. Me, I like freedom... the more the better!
Monday, November 24, 2003
Just burned me a couple of tracks to a CD for morning commute listening pleasure. The result? 30,5 points in this eighties lyrics quiz...
Mass Graves in Iraq
Just found out about this site via Healing Iraq. Graphical images that demonstrate perfectly why it was right that Saddam was overthrown: Iraqi Sites Guide - The Mass Graves.
Think about these images next time an IndymIdiot screams that the war was 'all about oil!!!' Sure, and liberating Auschwitz was all about safeguarding American exports to Europe...
Free Speech and All
One of the effects of being pro-free speech is that you don't get to delete comments that you don't like, like the first one on this post of a few days ago:
I don't believe in censorship and all that to end 'hate-speech' (whatever that may mean). Instead, I prefer more free speech: denouncing, ridiculing and exposing works so much better to kill dumb ideas.
So here it goes: Some twat is trying to peddle his 'right-wing' 'news' site in my comments. Geez, some news they've got there... But what to expect of a site where they review movies by counting the number of coloured and Jewish people in positive roles (the higher the number, the lower the rating...). Bah, their subtitle even is 'No Jews, Just Right'!
They seem to imply that Jews are inferior, stupid, dumb and smelly people, who nevertheless managed to infiltrate, subvert and control most of the world. Oh, and black people are bad too, it seems.
About the only thing on their entire site that I agree with is this, at the bottom in the disclaimer: "The views expressed at VNN do constitute free speech as protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.". So does this post, by the way, as it is hosted in the U.S.A. Feel free to add more free speech in the comments! Or better yet,
to their reader-mail...