Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Just enjoying a nice day at home with wife and daughter. I must say, the past month of fatherhood has brought me some insight in certain matters. Up to now I never quite understood all these works of art that were simply titled "Mother and Child". By now I'm starting to get them.

One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen was when I came from the kitchen into the living room and my wife was asleep on the couch with little Klaartje sleeping right next to her, on mommy's arm. If you're not a father yourself, like I was a month ago, the previous sentence probably sounds like a description of a quite dull scene. But I have a feeling that any other dads reading this will understand that it wasn't dull in the least, but the most touching thing I ever saw...

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Are You Sorry Yet?

Loic Le Meur wants to know: : Are Americans sorry for their Country?

He is currently in San Francisco and it seems some Americans have offered apologies for their country and said that Chirac was right after all.
(ed.: not about the WMD's anyway)

My guess is that San Francisco is hardly representative of the general American opinion. Am I right or am I wrong? Go over and drop a comment (or an apology).


Just finished viewing the repeat of the late news bulletin of the Belgian state television. Nothing on the Sarin shell. Nuff said.

Monday, May 17, 2004
Unexisting WMD Shell Explodes in Iraq

Reuters must be lying, because Iraq had no WMD's!

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A small amount of the nerve agent sarin was found in a shell that exploded in Iraq.

Chances that this will make the evening news in Belgium? Pretty slim...

Cracks in the Alliance?

The unholy alliance between extreme left and hard core islam seems to have some cracks in it: lgf: Gays Attacked At Palestinian Protest.

A similar rift could be observed here in Belgium when during the last election the Arab European League formed an alliance called 'RESIST' with the PvdA (Worker's Party). Gay activists at IndyMedia Belgium asked a lot of poignant questions about the League's stance on gay issues, which were promptly surpressed by the local PvdA/AEL censors (the Belgian Indymedia site has become a shell for the PvdA/AEL since a long time and everybody knows it).

Which seems to prove once more that their alliance has not so much to do with ideological similarities but more with a shared common enemy (i.e. Western capitalism). And that they both see each other as useful tools to further their ends. But just who is going to get shafted by who in the end still is to be seen...

Election Stock Market

Just like for the last federal elections in Belgium, newspaper De Tijd has organised a contest about the upcoming regional and European elections here in Belgium. Basically you pay them 10 Euro and you get an account with 100.000 game-Euro, which you can spend on the game stock market. Only, instead of trading shares of companies you trade in political parties.

At the end of the game, after the elections, every share will be worth as much in game Euro as the percentage the party scored in the Flemish regional election. Since people have different opinions as to what the final scores will be, a lively trade develops and it becomes possible to make some money with day-trading as well.

Fresh shares are introduced into the market by the 'bank', where you can buy 'portfolios' that contain one share of each party for 100 Euros. Prices of shares inside the portfolio may vary, but since at the end of the game a full portfolio will be worth 100 Euros by default this doesn't upset the market.

The goal of the game is not only to provide a good time to some people but also to see if the election can be predicted in this way. Right now it looks as if the current coalition is going to get shaken up a bit: after the last election the Flemish government was made up of VLD (economically right, socially conservative) with Groen! (green party) and SP.A (socialists). Currently these three parties (and two other small parties that have allied with VLD and SP.A) are worth less than 50 Euros in the game. See here for market analysis and graphs...

Most of this is due to the result of the VLD, which even after an alliance with the tiny Vivant-party keeps losing voters (also in the polls) mostly over infighting and a reputation of not standing up for their issues enough (at least that's what I think).

Sunday, May 16, 2004
Okay, So They Ran the Retraction...

Gazet van Antwerpen, the Belgian newspaper that I read daily, ran the story of the British Iraqi prison abuse pictures. Now that it transpires these pictures were actually fake and that the editor of the British newspaper that first ran them has had to resign, of course there is a retraction.

On page 22.

In a small column.

Titled: "Daily Mirror Apologizes for Publication of Fake Pictures".

Really clear for people who haven't been paying attention recently, I must say...