Friday, July 23, 2004

Something's fishy with the Kerry campaign. We all know that Sandy Berger is in deep, and now we have the Kerry campaign removing their plan to fight terrorism from their website. At first I thought Berger's actions were simply a cover your ass move, but now it seems there may have been more to it. Either way, someone's got some splaining to do...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Armstrong crushed them all on Alpe d’Huez. Mind you, it may mean nothing to you over there, but over here that timerun up a 15,5 km long steep slope is mythical.

You always have to be prudent, but I figure that Sunday, in Paris, history is going to be written. In the 101 years of its existence, no-one ever won the Tour more than five times. Watch out guys and gals!

More news from the Magic Kingdom! People, July 21 is Belgian Independence Day. In 1830 we kicked the Dutch out of Brussels (they poured back in but, admittedly, the French helped us defeat them). I found this pearl of prose on the Daily Crap Online:

Deze 21e juli staat in het teken van de 60e verjaardag van de bevrijding van België. Aan het defilé nam ook een Duits detachement deel.

Means: This July 21st has as theme the Liberation of Belgium. A German detachment took part in the troop show.

Belgian logic.


Tanks waren er niet te zien. Dat heeft te maken met nieuwe politiek van het Belgisch leger om geen voertuigen met rupsbanden meer te gebruiken.

Means: There were no tanks anymore. That is because of the new policy of the Belgian army not to use tracked vehicles anymore (in the troop show I might hope. Or would they mean on the battlefield too?)

Sigh… To paraphrase Kim du Toit, the pussification of the Belgian Male continues. They ain’t got me yet however. And no pics today. The Blog Dictator thinks my ISP is screwed up.

Michael, I weep for Belgium after reading this. Hopefully this national treasure can be saved before it is too late.
Here is an interesting summary of last month's EU elections (scroll down to "Shock swing towards euroscepticism") - it looks as if the antis made some headway, particularly UKIP (a party which I suspect I'd support if I lived in the UK).

Michael, I've been meaning to ask you. Where does Vlaams Blok stand on the issue of European integration?
Our very own Kevin has alerted me to this story about nuclear warheads being found in Tikrit, Iraq.

If true, this will (obviously) have huge implications - particularly this November.
The latest from Linda Ronstadt:

"It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know."


Tuesday, July 20, 2004



Piece of cake people. Piece of cake.

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!!! Timerun upon the dreaded Alpe d'Huez!!! Those mythical, terrible 15 and a half kilometers up a slope with an average climbing rate of 8%. You think that ain't nothing? Go try it yourself. Pray for your hero(es).
Ladies and gentlemen, not long ago we talked about France's excruciating 35-hour week. The first cracks appear.

Workers at a Robert Bosch car parts factory in France have voted to work longer hours in an effort to save jobs, the firm said on Monday, making them the first employees to vote to scrap France's 35-hour week. 

The decision sets a precedent that unions fear could eventually unravel France's 35-hour working week. Many employers want the law restricting work hours scrapped to increase the competitiveness of French industry. 

A large majority of the 820 workers at the German auto supplier's factory in Vénissieux, near the southern city of Lyon, voted in favor of working 36 hours instead of the current 35 without any compensation in wages, the company's management said.


A potent strategy by the Democrats

A pattern has arisen in the Democrats' efforts to discredit the president and win the White House in November. It's not necessarily a new strategy, but it seems to be gaining momentum as of late. The strategy is simple and centers around the "Bush lied" mantra that we've been hearing since the beginning of the Iraq invasion. Before the invasion, Bush outlined a number of reasons that he felt justified the invasion of Iraq. Among these reasons was Iraq's WMD program, which has become the centerpiece of the "Bush lied" movement. Since stockpiles of WMD's have not been found, the worst accusation is that Bush knew there were no weapons and went to war anyway, and at best, he took us to war based on faulty intelligence, which he should take full responsibility for. Never mind that there have been WMD's found in Iraq (just not sufficient quantities to satisfy opponents of the war) and David Kay's report concluded that Saddam had the infrastructure to be able to ramp up production of WMD's very quickly. Never mind that this report also concluded that there were very likely large shipments of WMD materials shipped out of Iraq before and during the invasion (some of the materials shoed up in a container ship in Holland.) Never mind that the famous "16 words" regarding Iraq's attempt to procure Uranium from Niger in Bush's SOTU address have recently been proven to be accurate. All that the left has had to do is raise the shadow of doubt and keep saying "Bush lied," or, as the Kerry campaign prefers, "Bush misled" (you've got to wonder about people who are so easily misled by a president that is supposed to be a simpleton.) It has become such a part of the public consciousness that the Bush administration looks ridiculous when they try to prove otherwise. The fact that the Bush administration has remained rather silent in light of recent findings regarding the "16 words" and statements from the 9/11 commission which support the validity of pre war intelligence (both from the US and abroad) suggests that they have already lost this debate on some level, regardless of the facts, and that any attempt to point to these facts just makes them look desperate. While it's no surprise this has happened given the support the Kerry ticket has in the media, it has proven to be an effective strategy. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If you repeat something enough it becomes fact to many people. Bush lied about Iraq, the economy is horrible, the environment has worsened; these are all cornerstones of the campaign against Bush, and are all patently false. Let's hope the Bush campaign can figure out a way to explain simple fact before it's too late.
Does anyone else see the irony when celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Linda Rondstadt, Elton John and the Dixie Chicks, who owe their careers and cushy lives to a capitalist free market, suddenly start crying censorship when their actions cause their value in this market to drop? I just thought I'd ask.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Colonel Count Von Stauffenberg

Fate has offered us this opportunity, and I would not refuse it for anything in the world. I have examined myself before God and my conscience. It must be done because this man (Hitler) is evil personified.

                                                            -Oberst Graf Klaus Schenk Von Stauffenberg
On July 20, 1944, failed the last serious attempt to kill Hitler. It was carried out by a brave Colonel of the German Reserve Army, Count Klaus Schenk Von Stauffenberg. Somewhere around 12.37 Eastern European Time on that fateful day he entered the conference room in a wooden barrack in Hitlers supersecret Eastern Front Headquarters, the Wolfsschanze, near Rastenburg in East Prussia. The room was full of high-ranking officers, aides and bodyguards. He shoved a briefcase containing a powerful bomb, activated minutes before, under the table upon which large maps of the Ostfront were displayed. Soon thereafter he left under the pretext that he had to make an urgent telephone call. At 12.42 EET the bomb exploded. Scores of men were killed and wounded, Hitler, standing on the opposite side of a heavy wooden leg of the table and somehow protected by it since he was leaning heavily over it, survived. In the meantime, Stauffenberg, with incredible luck and courage, had managed to talk his way out of the compound and flew to Berlin, where his co-conspirators had managed to disable critical communication lines and put the Reserve Army, whose cadre contained many officers sympathetic to the cause, on high alert using the procedures of the so-called Valkyrie Operation – an operation initially designed to mobilize whatever reserve forces were available in Germany in the event of an uprising among the millions of slave workers in the country.
Critical in keeping this Reserve Army under their control, and hence having the military clout to thwart any Nazi attempt to keep the conspirators from power, was the arrest of key Nazi figures. Perhaps the most critical of these was Joseph Goebbels, the Reichspropagandaminister. A bewildered Major Otto-Ernst Remer of the Wachbattailon Grossdeutschland, a decorated Eastern Front veteran, entered Goebbels office in Berlin’s Governments District. Being a military man through and through, he wanted indeed to obey his orders and arrest Goebbels. As fate would have it one critical phone line was still on and Goebbels was able to let Adolf Hitler talk directly to Remer. Albert Speer, Hitler’s Armament’s Minister, who was also present, watched transfixed as Remer, upon hearing the Fuehrer’s unmistakable voice, stiffened and upon Hitler’s request to quell the revolt, shouted: “Jawohl, mein Fuehrer”!
Essentially the coup was foiled from then on. Accomplices in Paris were able to fool and even lock up die-hard Nazis but after that fateful phone-call all was lost.
That same night, Von Stauffenberg was executed by a firing squad on orders of General Fromm, Chief of the Reserve Army, who was also a conspirator but tried to escape his fate by silencing as many as possible of those involved. 

Because Hitler stayed in power, millions would die still. The events of that distant July 20th once more emphasize the responsibility the world has in not letting dictators stay in power. Von Stauffenberg was a man who knew that responsibility. He was also a man who believed in God, family and country. Colonel Klaus Schenk Von Stauffenberg was a Rightwinger. 

Here's a great primer for the presidential election. It takes a while to load, but it's worth it.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Tour, Anik F2 and Norwegian Salmon
Spaniard Aitor Gonzalez of the Fassa Bartolo Team won  today’s stage from Carcassonne to Nimes. Thomas Voeckler keeps the Yellow Shirt, Lance remains at no. 2 still 22 seconds behind. No worries, today’s 14th Stage over flatland was a milkrun. If your Texan had wanted the shirt he’d have it. Still kudos for the young Frenchman though. I haven’t checked out French press but I figure he must be a national hero by now. Tomorrow is a resting day.
Btw, Carcassonne. If you ever venture to France and you want to impress those at home with other stories than climbing the Eiffel Tower or visiting Chenonceaux Castle you might want to check out this magnificent must-see town with still intact medieval walls and towers. In 1997 UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Center. Nearby is also Cathar Country with lots of ruins of the Cathar Sect’s last strongholds, the most famous being Montségur. It is easily reached by plane, e.g. from my country there are regular cheap flights by either Ryanair ( from Charleroi) or Virgin (from Zaventem, Brussels).
Carcassonne at the foothills of the Pyrenées
Today was a good day for ESA, NASA’s European counterpart, as an Ariane 5G rocket brought the largest telecommunications satellite ever – nearly six tons - into orbit. Launch took place on ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana. Now why do I tell you this, have I become a space freak? Well, I might say I mention it, firstly, just to show you we in the EU are not sitting on our asses when it comes to space exploration. The European Space Agency is doing fine and its projects reach well beyond commercial space activities. An important part of NASA/ESA/ASI’s Cassini project to Saturn, the Huygens probe , which will land on Titan, is a 100% ESA project. There is also the Rosetta comet chaser, the Mars Express Spacecraft  and ESA’s participation in the ISS, with a.o. the recent Delta Mission.
Secondly though I thought it worthwile to mention since Anik F2, the satellite launched today, will provide North America with digital communications services and high-speed Internet access, so you will probably benefit from it. Anik F2 was designed and built by Telsat, the Ottawa-based Canadian company which made history in 1972 by launching Anik F2's far cousin, Anik A1, the world's first domestic communications satellite for geostationary orbit.
"The Anik F2 Ka-band system will provide a large user base with small, low-cost terminals as well as with low airtime costs, while meeting the high performance requirements associated with high-speed interactive multimedia and Internet applications. 
The Ka-band payload on Anik F2 will provide an array of services — including retrieval/transactional (e.g., Internet access, e-commerce), conversational (e.g., video-conferencing, tele-medicine), messaging (e.g., fax, e-mail, file transfer), and distribution (e.g., video multicasting, caching) services — even though they have diverse characteristics3. Homes (telecommuting during the day and educational/ entertainment web browsing in the evening), schools accessing the Internet and small multi-site businesses are projected to be the primary potential user groups for this multimedia payload.
Anik F2 provides Ka band for North America
I might clarify though that the actual building, operation and commercial exploitation of the Ariane launchers is the responsibility of the  Arianespace company, although as said the place of launch is ESA territory. I must admit I don’t know exactly how it goes in the States, and whether those commercial launches you have fall under NASA’s responsibility or a private company’s, or both. Anyway, Arianespace has currently 50% of the global share in GTO (geostationary) launches.
To top it all off, I might add that the new Belgian Foreign Minister is Karel De Gucht, former VLD chairman. As some of you may remember, your servant was a member of the used-to-be-centre-right-but-now-centre-left-as-a-result-of-the-greenhouse-effect VLD. Well, since there have been, on June 13th, not only European but also regional elections in Belgistan, there is a shakeup and/or departure of federal excellencies to either the European Commission or the regional governments. Our current FM, Louis Michel, aka MOAP (Mother of All Pompous Asses) goes to the European Commission and Karel De Gucht will assume the vacant post. I have no particular sympathy for Mr. De Gucht, although it pleads for him he took at least a token stance against the municipal voting rights for immigrants in spring, when greens, socialist AND Michel’s MR party forced that folly down our throats. Anyway, anybody at Belgian Foreign Affairs is better than Louis Michel, even a dog with a hat on. I just hope that the European Commission gives him a post in which he wreaks the least havoc. I suggest surveillance of salmon populations in the Lofoten fjords. Yeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaah, I know, poor salmon.