Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, December 19, 2003
Sewer Rat?

Don't know if this is true, but this article by a U.S. soldier familiar with Iraqi construction method claims that the hole that Saddam was found hiding in might well have been a sceptic tank! I can't think of a more fitting place for that turd to hide, frankly...

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Don't ask how, but I got to see the first episode of the new 'Galactica' series. Galactica used to be a stunning SF series about twenty years ago, but due to budget constraints and a move to a more 'family friendly' timeslot it was totally pussified and retired into shame.

Without giving away too many spoilers, I liked it a lot. The space physics are unrealistic, just like most SF series, but they look more believable than what we are used to (ships turning around in mid-flight and continuing on their original course, mini-thrusters to rotate ships). I also liked the fact that the 'virtual camera' in the space sequences does some very quick and extreme zooming-in sometimes to try and capture the distances involved.

The distinctive 'laser beams' and sounds have gone (replaced by rapid fire cannons and missiles), and the 'Galactica'-theme isn't in the credits anymore too (althoug it did make a cameo halfway through the episode). Oh, yeah, and Starbuck is a woman.

Let's move on to the plot a bit (SPOILERS AHEAD). The entire episode was more or less an exposé of the characters and story. Suffice to say that the Cylons (badass robotic race) are once again starting a war against humanity, and Galactica is one of the few ships not to be destroyed in the initial wave, thus setting the scene for more action and adventure filled episodes.

What I found most interesting about this first episode, however, is the deja-vu feeling you get as the human's main planet is nuked from orbit in a surprise attack. Then it hit me... 9/11! The story had everything: a surprise strike by a perfidious and mysterious enemy with unknown motives. The (new) president on a plane. Fighters being scrambled. Dust-covered firemen. Panic-stricken civilians, often still clutching their briefcases, running away. Shocked anchors and reporters who can't hide their emotions on TV. The struggle between restraint (do rescue operations first) and revenge (immediate counterattack).

Another deja-vu I got had to do with another series: "Space: Above and Beyond". I used to be a huge fan of it before it was cancelled after one season. At the time, S:AAB was also compared to Galactica, due to the similarities in setup (the adventures of a bunch of pilots living on a big mother ship carrying fighter ships, in a war against an enemy race bent on destroying humanity). S:AAB seemed to have borrowed quite a lot from Galactica, but now it is the other way round it seems (vector thrusters, rotating in flight, cannons and missiles, female kick-ass pilots...).

It will be intersting to see how the series develops...

I'd Like to See Mainstream Media do This

This is why I love the blogosphere: a major story seems to break, but when it turns out to have been a fake, retractions are made immediately and receive the same amount of attention as the original story, even when it goes against your own bias: The Command Post - Iraq - MSNBC: Atta Memo "Probably Fabricated".

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
I've Got a Fan!

Two, in fact: I just bought myself a new fan and heatsink for my home desktop machine, and swapped out the old one. The thing was making so much noise it seemed like my PC was preparing to take off every time I switched it on. But now? The quiet, efficient hum of a generic, made-in-China piece of high-tech equipment...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Samizdata has some very nice pictures and a report of a visit to my former home town: - Thoughts on a trip to Antwerp, and legacies of the villainy of King Leopold II. The stuff about Leopold II is a nice added bonus.

Burning Coal Processing Factory

Big smoke cloud over Brussels today. For the past few days there has been a fire at an old, abandoned coal processing factory on the edge of the city. Now and then there has been a flare-up, but this morning's one was particularily big: a smouldering fire in a storage tower started burning more intensely again, resulting in a cloud that can be seen (and smelled!) from miles away.

The fire department is now trying to douse the flames with some kind of special foam, but it is not easy to do with a fire that is 50 metres above ground (about 150 feet).


Just a random thought I had in the car this morning: there seems to be an awful hoopla about Taiwan making noises again about independence and Bush trying to pour oil on the waves because he can't use another crisis at this time. And besides, in practice Taiwan has been independent for the last few decades anyway, so it is all rather symbolic anyway, in my view.

Basically, after WWII there was a communist insurgency that swept the country in China, which replaced the former nationalist government everywhere. Everywhere? No, on one tiny island the insurgency didn't take hold and it remained in the hands of the old government, which today still regards itself as the 'legitimate' heirs of the former regime. This island is called Taiwan.

So what I don't understand is: why should Taiwan want to declare independence? It is the rest of China that broke away, from their point of view. True, the breakaway part got international recognition and a seat at the U.N., which Taiwan didn't get, but still, they are in no position where they should have to ask for independence: they were never 'dependent' to begin with.

In my view, an elegant solution to the problem would be that Taiwan 'recognizes' the independence of the People's Republic of China. I'm sure the mainland Chinese will be thrilled by this: finally freed from their capitalist oppressors at last! Unless their leaders would want to object to it?

First Sighting

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the first sighting of the slogan 'Free Saddam' used in all seriousness by a real lefty: Bush legt bekentenis af : IMC Belgium, check the comment by 'Harko'.
The article comments are in Dutch, but his signature line is in English and guess what it says...

I guess it is sad, really, that the left is now supporting facist dictators like Saddam.

Sunday, December 14, 2003
More on IndyMedia Reaction

Saying that Saddam has been captured is deemed to be 'provo' by the IndyMedia censorship division:
[Imc-belgium-robot] notification of article administration -- 78703: "post Saddam capturé id nr 78703
Edited by christophe
Reason (optional): provo
Add a comment for the hiding reason (if any) : Add a comment for the hiding reason (if any)"

'If any': that about sums it up...

Talk about Predictable

The reaction over at Indymedia Belgium was predictable: the news was immediately censored. Click the link to see what they removed, then press CTRL-A or select the entire page: censoring at IndyMedia means turning the background colour black so the black text isn't 'visible' anymore...


Now even Paul Bremer is saying it, so I guess it's official now:
Ananova - Saddam capture 'confirmed by US official'

Good News if True

My wife was on the phone with her sister, and she told us to turn on the TV. CNN is talking about the 'possible' capture of Saddam Hussein. Well, guess G.W. Bush can scratch off another one.
I wonder what they'll do with him if it is true. Put him in Guantanamo? Try him? Before which court? An Iraqi one? And would they condemn him to death? Or worse, release him at a well publicized time and place in central Baghdad...