Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, February 13, 2004
Small Page Change

Following this advice on styling the Downes referrer script, I adapted the template of this page so that my left column won't get screwed up anymore anytime somebody with a long URL links to me ;-)

Turmoil in Belgian Politics

What else would you call it if the president of the biggest party is forced out by the Prime Minister, who is a fellow party-member? Yet that is what happened to VLD-president Karel De Gucht, who was replaced by P.M. Guy Verhofstadt at the political helm of the party.

More info:
"De Gucht angered Verhofstadt earlier this month when he warned that the VLD might pull out of Belgium's coalition government in protest at plans to give non-EU foreigners the right to vote in local elections here."

Yes, you read that right: we are only a single voting session in parliament away from extending the right to vote in local elections to anyone who resides legally in Belgium. Despite a majority of the population in Flanders, the biggest part of the country, being against it. And despite the obvious discrimination this entails: Belgians don't have the right to vote, they have a duty. Not reporting at the voting booth results in legal sanctions. But foreigners would just have a 'right'.

Then why would the Belgian parliament and senate approve this you ask? Quite simple, really: the French-speaking parties hope it will increase their number of votes, because most foreigners don't speak Dutch. The leftist parties want it out of principle, and also because they hope the foreigners will thank them by giving them their votes. And the centre-right VLD will approve of it because that was part of the deal they made to form a coalition government.

So that leaves only the christian democrats and the far right to vote against it. Which means the new law is almost sure to pass... democracy in action!

Bug in Technorati?

For those of you who don't know it, Technorati is an on-line service that tracks which sites link to which other sites. This might not seem very useful, but it is if you have a blog or are promoting a site. For example, I have been heavily promoting my hobby site Random TV by pitching it to various bloggers and link-aggregating sites, and on this page at Technorati I can track who linked to it.

Most pages tracked by Technorati are blogs, and using the tool it becomes possible to see which ones are influential and well linked to. The number of inbound links to a blog kind of defines how popular it is... For example, InstaPundit has insane numbers (4223 Inbound Blogs, 5995 Inbound Links). This site, by contrast, has more modest numbers (78 Inbound Blogs, 84 Inbound Links).

Recently however, I wanted to look up who linked to Loic Le Meur's blog, after meeting him in person. During our meeting he had shown me his Technorati stats, and I distinctly remembered that he had about 70 or 80 inbound links. Imagine my surprise when I got this result: 15 Inbound Blogs, 22 Inbound Links.

What happened? Did he suddenly lose a lot of links? Were Technorati's servers acting wonky? Was Loic's demo faked?

In fact, after some experimenting, I found that I had used a different url in my Technorati query than Loic had. I had used, while he had shown me, which did have 71 Inbound Blogs, 101 Inbound Links.

Some further investigation showed me that (without the dash) gave 8 Inbound Blogs, 8 Inbound Links.

So it seems the URL people use to link to your blog matters a lot: it can dramatically distort your Technorati numbers. Interestingly enough, there seems to be some provision in the system to partially solve this problem: both and return the same results.

A suggestion to Dave Sifry of Technorati: perhaps an option could be added where a blogger can indicate that two or more URLs are in fact the same blog. After a simple check (downloading the two pages and comparing), a note could be made in the Technorati DB and the two blogs would be merged. Naturally, if the pages are different, no action should be taken... I think this would also help people who have both a real domain name and an 'old' name, like and (currently down, it seems).

Thursday, February 12, 2004
Statistics & Stuff

Well, it's been quite a few days here at Live From Brussels, visitor-count wise. No less than three Instalanches, and one Little Green Footbalanche to top things off. Graphically it looked like this:

The first peak was when Glenn linked to this story about the Belgian Defense Minister making some idiotic comments.
The second (much smaller one) on February 3rd and 4th was when he linked to the image referred to in this post.
The third one was a link to my Fisking of the reaction of the guy whose image I parodied.
Finally, the last peak, was LGF linking to this story about an incident of Jew hatred in Belgium.

I hope some of you new readers stick around, there's plenty of older material in the archives for your reading enjoyment. New stuff gets added almost daily during the work week and infrequently during weekends... Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Skype Surprise...

Imagine that: less than two hours after I posted the last message, I got a Skype internet phone call from a guy who said he was a writer in New York and whose wife was in some Jewish organisation and currently in Brussels. He wanted to know more details so he could forward them to her... Isn't the information age great?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Jews Not Allowed on the Subway in Brussels

Today I read in the paper (Gazet van Antwerpen) that Jewish children going to the Athénée Maimonide Bruxelles, a Jewish school, are not allowed to take the subway at the nearby Lemonnier station anymore.
Because of frequent attacks by 'muslim youths', the school board has decided that the kids are not allowed to use the station. One teacher said to the paper that the attacks follow current affairs, and have started when the 'second intifada' began. He also said hatred against Jews was something temporarily, and that it wouldn't take long for the situation to cool down.

Hmmm... now where did I read very similar things not too long ago? Oh, yeah, I remember: history books!

More About North Korea

An Auschwitz in Korea. Question is, what do we do about it? Did I mention that North Korea is also trying to develop WMDs? Not that it matters: a concentration camp is a concentration camp, even if the guards don't have nukes (yet).
So what have you done lately against this genocide? The least you could do is e-mail somebody in your government about it. I have. If you're in Belgium too, try this one: Louis Michel, are you listening?

Another Investigation into War Claims

Right now the only thing about the Iraq war that hasn't been investigated, reported and analyzed is also under investigation: the anti-war movement. Following in the footsteps of the Hutton Inquiry, I give you the The People's Inquiry. Only half not-serious....

Monday, February 09, 2004
Is It Just Me?

Or does anyone else have the impression the Downes referrer system in my side column has been less than reliable in the past few days? I seem to remember much higher numbers for 'Merde in France', for instance... Maybe they lost their logfiles or something?

Interesting Guy

Last Friday I had the opportunity to meet briefly with Lo?c Le Meur of U-blog fame. I pnly talked with him for about an hour, but I can tell you this: the man takes blogging, electronic networks and other related internet phenomena very seriously. Check out his blog...
I can't tell much more right now, but I have a feeling some interesting things are going to happen in the near future involving him and me and some other people I can't mention right now... Keep an eye on this blog for more!