Tuesday, February 27

and that was the week that was....

Walloon Minister for Budget and Finance, Michel Daerden, is to inflict a CD single upon an unsuspecting Belgian public. La Derniere Heure reports that it is to be called ‘Daerden’s Song’ – well he was hardly going to call it Verhofstad’s Song now was he.

Daerden does not actually sing on his record, he speaks. Hopefully the words will make more sense than they did when he gave his ‘victory interview’ following the elections last October. Tired and emotional is the phrase I believe. Three sheets to the wind. Pissed as a fart.

A true original is Mr Daerden. The Witloof can’t remember too many people making the leap from politics to music. Although willing to be corrected, moving in the other direction is much more popular.

Man! ample ass, lady crooner!

Brussels has been inflicted with several “singers” who think that they have more to offer than simple song. Nana Mouskouri was an MEP from 1994-1999. Rosemary Scallon, won the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest as Dana, had a stint in Brussels between 1999 and 2004 although little did we know at the time that Dana Rosemary Scallon MEP is an anagram of Man! ample ass, lady crooner!

Speaking of the Eurovision Belgium announced Krazy Mess Groovers as the latest in a long line of representatives seeking to emulate the feat of Sandra ‘J’aime la vie’ Kim in 1986. As Flanders news puts it, they can’t spell so let’s just hope they can sing.

Celt man gone!

Even if they lose and according to UK bookmakers they certainly will, Belgium’s Eurovision future looks rosy, for it turns out that three time eurovision winner Johnny Logan is embroiled in a paternity dispute with Belgian singer Wendy van Wanton. Johnny is vigorously denying that he is the father of van Wanton’s youngest son Clément.

Let’s take another look at the hard evidence that moustachioed comedian Bert Kruismans presents us with. He substantiates his allegations by referring to the fact that a) the 2 singers know each other, b) together, they recorded the song "You've really got a hold on me" c) Mr Logan was in Belgium at the time of the birth.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, the witloof can exclusively reveal that, C!ement Logan turns out to be an anagram of Celt man gone! Johnny, we think it is time that you started paying that alimony…..

Ali G prepared for violence at Batibouw

And finally, Ali G sensationally turned up to the opening ceremony of Belgian building fair Batibouw promising violence to anyone who would listen. It appears that G, having misinterpreted the pronunciation of the event, believed that it would bring together Belgian homosexuals for a week long celebration of being batiboys.

Ok, so that last one I just made up.

Vlaams Belang goes to Washington II

Find more on the VB trip to Washington here.
Jeez, even where there are checks and balances it appears that these guys are getting air time....

Sunday, February 25

Vlaams Belang goes to Washington

Although mindful that there are lies, damn lies, and then statistics, a recent state of the blogosphere makes for interesting reading. It tells us that:
 technorati is currently tracking more than 57 million blogs and counting.
 as of October 2006, about 100,000 new weblogs were created each day.
 the blogosphere is doubling in size approximately every 230 days
 about 55% of all blogs are active, which means that they have been updated at least once in the last 3 months.

What is everybody blogging about? You name it. There are blogs on almost any topic you can imagine. The sublime, the ridiculous. I love even the dullest blog in the world.

In an interesting article in The Guardian, Nick Cohen writes that ‘most bloggers …write about their lives, what books they are reading and music they are listening to.’

The most successful chroniclers of their everyday escapades - Zoe Margolis as the Girl with a one track mind, Judith O’Reilly as Wife in the North, and can anyone have escaped the furore caused by Catherine Sanderson, alias La Petite Anglaise - become quite famous in their own right.

Some blogs appear to be quite influential in other ways. I was reading only this week of the key role that bloggers are playing in the run up to the Oscars.

Cohen is more interested, however, in the relationship between politics and the blog. Whether the internet is giving a voice to the disenfranchised as well as to the over/under-sexed singleton or the mother of four in ruritania. Here things are not going as well as planned. ‘Although the net has given welcome space to new political writers who otherwise would never have been published’, he argues that it has generally failed to meet the inflated expectations of those who expected it ‘would allow oppressed peoples to escape censors and read forbidden opinions’. Instead – witness the recent imprisoning off the Egyptian author of a blog called The Critic - the net is proving surprisingly easy for dictatorships to control.

I would not dispute any of this. In fact I would argue that even in Europe or the U.S. the lack of checks and balances, referred to in the opening paragraph of Cohen’s article, on the web can cause potential problems.

With a headline ‘Vlaams Belang goes to Washington’, Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported on 21/02 that Filip Dewinter and Frank Vanhecke, the two top men from the (very) right-wing Belgian political party (formerly known as Vlaams Blok), are going on a three-day visit to the US. They quote elements of the speeches that the two men will deliver during their visit. With reference to Eurabia and the ‘dangers’ that Islam poses to Europe:

“We are fighting for the survival of the West. We are fighting for us and for our children, We are fighting for Europe, but also for America. Therefore we deserve your support. Help us to survive.”
The speechwriter, according to De Standaard, is Paul Belien, the man behind the popular blog Brusselsjournal.com

There are several blogs that I know of with a focus on life in Brussels that have links to the Brussels Journal in their blogroll. I am sure that they have absolutely no intention of providing support for a forum that cherishes ideas such as those espoused by Vlaams Belang. But the links are there.

Nobody wants censorship on the web, as Cohen outlines all too powerfully. If the authorities in democracies are to be kept out of it, however, self-censorship is important. Those of us active here in Bruxelles can make a start by removing the links to the Brussels Journal.

Friday, February 23

Commission to establish mission on second life. Eyes permanent move.

Sources within the European Commission have exclusively revealed that the Commission is seeking to open a Mission on Second Life. “We are seeking to open a Mission on Second Life”, they said.

The move comes just a month after Sweden announced similar intentions. The key difference, however, is that the Commission is believed to be thinking of moving permanently and in its entirety. Officials believe, and they would be right, that this can be done without any noticeable effect on European life.

It is understood that the idea, which emanates from the Commission President’s ‘crack ideas team’, the self-styled ‘wonks boffins’ - or boffins wonks in French - of the Bureau of European Policy Advisors, is a panic reaction to alarming new statistics revealing the extent their own uselessness. Contacts at Eurostat refused to comment but seemed to combine a cough with the figure 100%.

The secret operation is understood to have been given the codename ‘lock, stock and barrel move to second life by 31.12.2007’. Disgruntled former KGB code-crackers contacted by the witloof are interpreting this as an indication that the Commission is hoping complete the move by the end of the year. Experienced Commission watchers are sceptical that any (and by that they appear to mean any) policy can be effectively implemented by the end of the millennium.

Nobody from Second Life could be reached for comment but, let’s face it, they are unlikely to be very enthusiastic.

Poll: Would you invite the European Commission into your home?

tips for flying

As seen on www.tvbelgiek.be

If you are sitting next to someone who's irritating you on a plane, train, bus...
1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.
2. Remove your laptop.
3. Boot it up.
4. Make sure the person bothering you can see the screen.
5. Open the message below.
6. Close your eyes and tilt your head up to the sky.
7. Then hit this link: http://www.thecleverest.com/countdown.swf
8. Enjoy & relax :-)

Monday, February 19

Clijsters keeps her cool to lose

Kim Clijsters marked her last match on Belgian soil by doing what she does best, coming second.

Refusing to break the habit of a lifetime, Kim admirably managed not to let the raucous backing of a partizan 15,000 Antwerp crowd get to her. She went down in straight sets to the Frenchman Amelie Mauresmo. Normally in a tournament final Kim would lose to her rather dull, a-cupped, compatriot, Justine Henin (sometimes Hardenne).

There was some consolation for the home crowd however, as they took in the improbable sight of thighs that size doing the splits.

In a retirement move that stretches even Belgian definitions of hanging up the boots early, 23 year old Kim was moved to tears at the end of her match. It appears that she was crying over the fact that she somehow managed to blot her copybook by winning the 2005 US Open title, the only stain on an otherwise perfect run of defeat.

With marriage to American basketballer Brian Lynch – who plays for the world renowned Belgian side Bree – impending, Kim now wants to concentrate on domestic life and losing games such as scrabble and ker plunk, as well as her figure.

Wednesday, February 14

flemish helpful but not essential

a few flemish you tubes (seeing as everyone is doing it)

laughing at someone with no balls (please avert your eyes now; even if you've seen it before)

when will i will i be famous (you tube provides the perfect tool for this belgian idol; make sure to stick the first minute and a half out))

the third time the germans came (or belgian bus company taken over by the germans)

Friday, February 9

Wit-Lof from Belgium

Further proof of the power of the witloof over the Belgian psyche is provided by the title of Gust De Coster's epic history of the flat country's pop music.

I can only presume that the title is an extremely poor play on With Love from Belgium. But why?? Anywayz, if you fancy a copy you can pick up one of the very few left, here.

If you would prefer to save your money for purchasing the music itself, you can find a decent listing of Belgian bands on myspace.

Picking up the latest (or last in Jacques' case) Brel, Deus, Soulwax or Arno probably won't win you any prizes for originality but they'd be well worth it. Nuit Blanche by Vive la Fete, Camino Real from Buscemi, Club from Jaune Toujours, and (although this might be a bit of a faux pas) The Sailor not the Sea by Ozark Henry are also recommended, wit-lof of course.

Sunday, February 4

So this is what they do at DG Regional Affairs

This is 4 real. A busy afternoon at DG Regio.....


Dear colleagues,

All of us who use the small freezer which is placed in the small room in the middle of our floor remember very well that it was in an inadmissible state of dirtiness.

I have found different kind of food which was perished, mouldy or had a bad odour caused by bacteria as the best-before date had expired for more than six months ago.

As you know there is no cleaning service foreseen for this freezer and it has to be kept clean by the people who use it.

Last Wednesday, I had to summon up all my courage and decided to clean it myself hoping that from now on everybody who uses it will make an effort to keep it clean and empty the food before it gets rotten.

Last but not least, the lady who has forgotten her vaginal cream in the freezer, is kindly asked to take it as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and have a nice week.