Saturday 10 August 2013

santo cรกliz

Our little neighbourhood is having a little celebration with live music and a beer-tent called after the community's namesake, St. Lawrence—a Laurentiusfest. It falls on the weekend of his Saint Day and matyrdom. Originally hailing from Aragon, Lawrence went on to study theology and liberal arts at the university of Zaragoza where he became acquainted with Sixtus—the future pope. After completing his studies, the two traveled to Rome in the mid third century.  There Lawrence was ordained as a deacon of the Church and given the important office of treasurer, overseeing accounting for the inventory of artefacts (hence his patronage of librarians and accountants, records still exist showing where the diaspora of treasures ended up), donations and charitable disbursement.
All was thrown into disarray, however, when the Roman emperor demanded that the Church offer him all their treasure as tribute. Methodically, Lawrence was able to give away all Church property to the poor and when the legates of the emperor can to demand tribute, Lawrence presented them with the faithful and humble members of the community, announcing that the poor was the Church's greatest treasure and was far richer for them than the Empire will ever be. For this affront, the delegation grilled Lawrence alive on a gridiron (hence his patronage for roasters and comedians, supposedly having asked to be flipped over as he was done on one side). One particular item on the books, a cup hewn out of a piece of agate and regarded by many, including Pope Benedict XVI who used it during a Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Valencia in 2006 and Pope John Paul II in 1982, as the genuine Chalice of Christ used at the Last Supper, the Holy Grail, Lawrence saw fit to entrust to a soldier who was on his way from Rome back to Lawrence's homeland by the Pyrenees. The soldier delivered the relic to Lawrence's parents, and has been since preserved and venerated in various monasteries and churches in Spain, mostly quietly and without the Hollywood treatment or the romance (though with no less reverence) associated with the other contenders for this vessel.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

the rites of spring or where the wild things are

As Winter looks to be coming to an end in earnest, photographer Charles Frรฉger shares his sociology project of documenting ritual traditions and variations across nineteen countries in Europe, capturing the costumes and customs put on in order to coax in brighter days. These ceremonies date from pre-history and have continued uninterrupted, even in the midst of thoroughly modern Europe.

Friday 25 January 2013

autostrada

Since their inception, there have been standards enshrined in the culture of highways, Autobahnen with the intent of breaking up monotony without sparing on utility. There are mandates for gentle curves in order to keep drivers alert, in contrast to straightaway, required in some places to allow for emergency airplane landings.
Sometimes such subtler persuasions are overshadowed by constant construction works, same-otherwise by a few vistas of spectacular scenery and roads hugging the contours of the landscape. There are still, however, quite a number of long numbing stretches of road, especially for the express route through flat lands. Although not common in America or Germany, there are score of techniques tried in France, Denmark and the Netherlands to with art streaming along the margins, posts a-pace with the traffic that change like flip-book animation, rather abstract and Jungian and light installations. Some really creative things have been done, but now such Dutch civil engineers are applying their artistry to creating smart-roads, beginning with a stretch of highway by Eindhoven.

Though the pavement is yet to be steam-rolled and there is a balance of skeptics, planners are brimming with ideas, like hyper-colour reactive paint, that yields neon blue snow flake patterns on the asphalt when temperatures dip below freezing or luminescent lanes that glow in the dark, roads that monitor traffic conditions and issue reports (displaying warning to drivers of on-coming traffic jams), cull wind power from passing cars to power a lane designated for electric automobiles that they might be charged en route. I imagine that quite a bit of energy could be harnessed in intelligent and passive ways. A lot of ideas to make vehicles more efficient are making some head-way but still fall short of where we should be, but paying heed to the pavement, the other substrate may yield a lot of inventive solutions.

Sunday 20 January 2013

mountain high, valley low

Two recent articles featured via Neatorama offer up an intriguing triangulation touching ethics, technical feasibility, the capacity for imagination as well as questioning what it means to be human through the lens of speciation. The latter points to a very interesting interview between reporters with Der Spiegel and a Harvard professor who is one of the leading thinkers in the field of synthetic biology, regarding the possibility of resurrecting the Neanderthals, whose genetic map has already been successfully sequenced and cloning this branch of the family of man would be (after all the questions are answered, and the scientist and his team invite public debate as essential) a relatively simple matter of finding a willing surrogate.
Like the Jurassic era (adapted into an early cautionary-tale) is named for a mountain range in the western alps, the sub-species Neanderthal is named after a valley (Tal) near Dรผsseldorf, frequented by a pastor in the 1800s, called Joachim Neumann (Neander is the Greek-form of new man) for inspiration. The characteristic limestone layer of the age was first discovered in the Jura mountains, and the fossilized skeleton of our cousins was first recognized for what it could be in Neander’s valley. Notwithstanding the harvests of genetically modified crops that have infiltrated our food supplies mostly out of business interest (we have not yet made good on the promise of drought-resistant crops for famine-struck regions but that is not a profit that companies can necessarily take to the bank), vaccines, and pedigrees of dogs and cats, it is not acceptable to create or revive sentient beings purely for the benefit and advancement of human kind—in the style of Planet of the Apes, however, Neanderthal physique was at minimum more robust than ours and may have been smarter than their lither and perhaps crueler competitors.

We already do not know how to procede with the little knowledge we already have about tinkering with DNA and are not able to treat other humans humanely, so perhaps this sort of thinking is a bit premature but it still does not remain unreachably in the realm of fantasy. Neanderthals could conceivably have a different take on intellect and help solve the problems that the surviving Homo sapiens created, make new scientific discoveries and be kinder, more empathetic leaders—maybe the ruling class we need rather than putting our trust in the hands of robotic overlords. Mingling our genetic material would create more diversity, too, and perhaps provide resistance to a host of human diseases. These last two benefits lead to the former article regarding what the Star Trek franchise has taught us about evolutionary biology.
The humans accepted the benevolent tutelage of the more experienced Vulcans before arrogantly taking on the Universe like the Wild West, and characters like Mr. Spock, Mr. Worf (Worf was raised by adoptive human parents), Counselor Troi, and B’elanna Torres were outstanding representatives of both sides of their families. One wonders if alien races could really inter-breed, and perhaps it was just a plot-device to excuse costuming and set-design due to budget-constraints (the teleporter was written into the storyline because it was cheaper than staging a ship landing every episode) but the analysis recalls an episode from the Next Generation that explains the humanoid appearance through panspermia, orchestrated by a dying primogenitor race—as well as the hybrid children, since the concept of specie is marked by the ability to cross-breed naturally. Maybe science fiction does not answer all the ethical and philosophical quandaries when it comes to experimenting with genetics, but it probably does provide a good place to start.

Friday 28 December 2012

sweded

The Swedish language is celebrated as a plastic and living entity and each year dozens of new words are championed by the Sprรฅkrรฅdet, the national language council.

While many of these new words are for the nonce, topical, portmanteaux or English adoptions, may not be destined forever and ever in the country’s lexicon, it is laudable that such an institution takes an interest in bon mots. Among my favourites on the list released for 2012 (the story is no longer there but please visit the Swedish daily for similar ones) are Ogooglebar (something or someone who produces no hits in an internet search), Nomofob (anxiety due to being on-line and disconnected—from no mobile phone phobia), and Henifiera (to make a statement gender neutral, in reference to the re-introduction of the neuter pronoun hen to the Swedish language this past year, a grammatically correct way to use the ambiguous and incorrect they instead of committing to he or she). The year before, some of the inventive terms included: Sรคpojogg (a word to describe the gait of secret agents running in business suits after their wards), ร…siktstaliban (someone who won’t give other opinions consideration) and Flipperfรถrรคlder (the exact opposite of helicopter-parenting, adventuresome and encouraging pin-ball parents).

Tuesday 20 November 2012

null set

I first thought it was a gag-headline but soon realized that indeed, with various levels of earnestness and symbolism behind the dissent, all fifty states of the union have filed petitions (via an official submittinator) for peaceful and orderly withdrawal from the United States of America.

A block including Texas and many of the original secessionist states of the Confederacy has garnered more than the threshold of signatures and support to warrant (not deign, mind you, and to the horror I imagine of a silent majority of stake-holders that would rather remain part of the US) an official response from the White House. Maybe the hardliners ought to be allowed to try it on their own, most likely to their own chagrin since many of these maverick lands are the biggest recipients of federal aid and get more in return in national taxes than they pay in, not to mention infrastructure, social support and protection and quite a bit in the way of services hard and costly to recreate on a sub-national level. What’s astounding to me is that each and every state has expressed a desire to divorce itself either from select members or from the whole club. It’s as if one might as well start over—and more than a bit disheartening. Even the most notorious and incorrigible members have been spared being forcibly ejected so far—and even with more uncertain and arguably less venerable unions, I don’t believe there’s been discussion or the will to let it splinter into its constituents.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

ojos bien cerrados or pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

There a perfect cover for the meeting of finance ministers and reserve bank chiefs of the G20 nations going on in Mexico. One wonders about the timing of such things and though the meeting seems kind of formal and anodyne, one still cannot quite shake the feeling that important decisions are being vetted—the kind that governments cannot rely on democracy and openness to choose wisely. There is no rudeness, nor strategic advantage, I think, in not waiting for the outcome of the US elections, even though neither of these events went unplanned or were scheduled in a vacuum.

I fear that the results will be hotly contested and unknown for weeks, but regardless of the conclusion and attendant consequences, the US president will be accedes to the same fiscal situation. Most of the discussion in Mexico seems to be economic-boilerplate, not choking off near-term growth by too great a focus on austerity and discipline, deferring the savings and necessary restructuring for later, all which might seem a rather insignificant message to come out of the gathering of so much talent, power and influence ten-thousand kilometers away (for the EU representatives) but bureaucracy is often like that.
In as much as some events might like to have the spotlight stolen from, maybe this conference also stands for the scales that fell away from one’s eyes in another regard (scales—that phrase has been haunting me throughout the campaign, an obscure and automatic saying like, “As I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyes as I descend into the underworld”): the chaos the whole of the banking and financial system has wrought. Maybe the illusion is dispelled that covered up the cycle of boom and bust that is a dissonance and a disconnect from the real economy and only plays policy into the hands of money-managers. The allure and ease, stoked by private concerns, keep central banks and ministers distracted from the real charges and warrants. The charade crested in 2008 and left many disillusioned but so long as there is money to be made off of money, some will try to keep up this effluvious momentum. Maybe such overshadowed events, spared some attention through timing, are acknowledgments that people are weary of talk without protection, calls for reform and toning down the rhetoric of ascetics, and efforts and assessments to bridge disorder best not receive top-billing so we’re not all heir to this fiscal froth.

Saturday 6 October 2012

la serenissima

The UK daily the Telegraph is reporting on a secessionist movement and mass rally along the canals of the city of Venice, which may gain more traction at a quicker pace than other parallel calls for independence in Scotland from Great Britain and Catalonia from Spain.

United Italy already hosts the devolved Papal States as the Vatican, the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta and the Republic of San Marino (plus a few other aspirants) within its borders, and the maritime and mercantile empire of the doges only became annexed due to the barn-storming of Napoleon’s armies, like many other city-states and pocket-republics across the continent—with some notable allowances. The roots of this protest go back decades but economic instability and having to pay tribute to Rome may be the trigger that carries this popular movement. Reasserting lapsed boundaries, once the first province is freed, I think will cascade quite quickly and I don’t know how the map will look afterwards.

Friday 7 September 2012

gabriel blow your horn

The Way-Back Machine at the Retronaut featured some illuminated illustrations dating from the 10th century of the Spanish theologian Beatus of Liรฉbana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse.
It was the buggy, Picasso-esque figures that initially cause my attention in this particular rendering from the monastery at El Escoria. Perhaps the Spanish painter was influenced by such artwork on this manuscript. What is more interesting deeper within this study, however, is the de-symbolism, the stripping of allegory, behind the pictures. Contrary to popular historical context that makes fables out the oppressors of the day, reading the characters of Revelations as the Roman Empire, Gnostics, or, contemporaneously with Beatus’ writing, as the Muslims of then Islamic Spain, there is no mention of mistreatment or persecution and no topical interpretation of the biblical text. Rather than targeting heretics or people of another religious background for blame, the treatment instead suggests that the real nightmarish fiends represent elements within the established Christian community, holy-rollers, that profess one thing but really use the Church to advance their own interests. That’s a very modern technique from a classic source as well.

Saturday 18 August 2012

verkehrsverhรคltnis

On roadways throughout Europe and beyond, vacation season cues traffic congestion and traffic jams (Staus). The phenomena of herding over multiple lanes, however, is an interesting one, though the study and wonder while one is in the middle of things unfolding and taking interminably long to reconcile itself does not make the occurrence merely academic. Still trying to understand the causes of such viscosity is part of the journey.
 I was not expecting such stop-and-go traffic conditions in Denmark, but these signs that indicate lanes merging that look like an awareness-ribbon along their highways seemed to signal without fail a bottleneck. It is understandable, I suppose considering this country of just five million is being descended upon by travelers coming and going could spur some relative over-cautiousness, which is probably just an extension of being polite and courteous. The display was more acute and regular there, but most Staus pass without explanation or incident with the hesitation and the snowballing reactions of being put in and taken out of formation. Often times, the only delay visible is from people rubbernecking at a scene in the opposite lane. Everyone should be safe and patient, and of course that goes a long way to minimize a true accident, since the occasion for rushing is almost always before one leave home. Sometimes I think the whole mess could be sorted out in no time with a holographic traffic warden directing cars to stay on course and discouraging second-guessing and hesitation. Driving, however, is a taxing and unnatural activity and one ought to acknowledge the compensation and tactics needed to keep traffic flowing may not always be instinctual.

Monday 6 August 2012

from russia with love or ladies-in-waiting

Over on the side bar, are you seeing those solicitations for romantic services for those wanting to meet women from Eastern Europe, too—or is that just a glitch in my own marketing algorithm? Those advertisements are prejudicial and tawdry and I think reinforce negative and unwarranted stereotypes, and makes one wonder about the threshold for promotion and sponsorship quality. Still, seeing such ads made we wonder what people might say about the girls from this particular Ukrainian locality.

Thursday 28 June 2012

teufels kreis

Among the many woes and aspects bemoaned about our very global economy—and a worry not countermanded by some other positive element but unilaterally punishing—is the potential that no matter how carefully planned, sacrifice and contingencies made flexible and more than yielding, the weakness or strength, decisions or sentiment touching any other markets could undo all the hard work, arrangements and negotiations and exacerbate problems by posing even bigger set-backs. Eurocrats and eurozone functionaries are gathered together for another installment of talks to issue a way forward, which is of course not just a dodgy doddering through, and a road map is something, although a path fraught with obstacles. Approaching a meeting with only the aim of maintaining a system at all costs rather that with convictions and principles only results in empty compromise, escalation and the true vicious circle (Teufels Kreis)—throwing money at problems and amounts to same good as not discussing or ignoring a problem as a surrogate solution. The diplomacy of map-making, no matter how the landmarks may be shifted or toppled by macroeconomic factors or caprice, are still indelible features to be navigated.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

golden parachute

Why is it that financial institutions seem to be the last ones to suffer and made to accept the blame in moments of crisis? Of course, numerous banks are being battered by outside appraisers, but that affects the clients that have graciously allowed the banks to hold their money—or not just hold it, in many cases, but rather do something risky and maybe a bit evil, subversive with it too—but restructured or commandeered, the money-managers are not allowed to lose, while credit, savings and mortgages for the public flitter away or are leveraged with insurmountable interest rates to guard against instability.
Of course, these imbalances are compounded in business and government as well, in the forms of lost capital, revenue and social-services. If any other utility—and again that’s all that any bank is, like the electric company or Reading Railroad—business enterprise or government failed as consistently and unapologetically to deliver, they would be rightfully remediated or dismissed.
The same financial institutions that are bringing the euro to the brink, like giant babies in some blameless but willfully destructive playpen, are admitting to nothing, nor being held with any responsibility by their host governments that created the framework for them to raise amazing wealth. I don’t think there is any extraordinary conspiracy behind the governments of the European Union trying to cobble together a fragile fiscal pact four years after certain inevitabilities became apparent (other than the anodyne corruption of politics and wealth). 
Delay and unchecked speculation, however, has only afforded the chance for bankers—not the cleverest or most creative lot—to huddle in their war-rooms and quietly, only eking out panic in controlled doses—prepare to re-tabulate the score, drafting the new financial order while economic ministers obliged with a believable cover, again deflecting blame and becoming the saving champions of the markets.

Monday 23 January 2012

marco polo or year of the water-dragon

Today marks the first day of festivities for the Lunar-Solar Spring Celebration, more popularly rendered as Chinese New Year. Though there is a lot of regional variations and private, family traditions, this time for reunion and renewal is an affair spanning several days to nearly a full two weeks, with different auspices and ritual attached to each day of the festival. There seem to be a lot of birthdays observed in this period, too—the second day, according to some traditions, is the birthday of all dogs, for instance, and the ninth day is the birthday of the Jade Emperor of Heaven. I can't say for certain there are Western analogues and I would like a better cultural understanding the significance and symbolism. Understanding is not only in what's parallel at first glance and sometimes seeking the familiar carries with it the risk for over-simplification. The Chinese calendar, whose years are reckoned from the reign of the legendary Yellow Emperor, cycle through more than just a mythological menagerie and the ruling animal is also paired an element, making for a sixty-year series. Asian astrology is more akin to Western Numerology and the animal year of one's birth only determines one’s outward projection, while inner perceptions are flavoured by months, days--true animals, and even by hours, secret animals. On the most basic level, water dragon is "hidden dragon" and most have an optimistic outlook for the coming months. Another event coinciding with Chinese New Year is Croatia’s plebiscite for European Union membership. The Croatian island of Korฤula, a thalassocracy in its own right, along with the Most Serene Republics of Venice and Genoa, claims Marco Polo among their native sons--sort of like the competing Belgian, German and French claims for Charlemagne. It was through the travels and writing of Marco Polo that Europeans were first exposed to the lands of the Orient, and his reconnaissance and engagement helped inspire the golden age of exploration. Although I guess no one knows when or where Polo was born but I do wonder what the secret animals of his hours said of his character and ambition and what the timing of this decision has in store for Croatia.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

penny dreadful

Der Spiegel has an insightful, rather thrifty and sparing with words to let the satire and paradox appreciate, piece on the Prolefeed and rabble-rousing spectacle that is framing not only the Republican’s campaign for the US presidential party nominee but political deportment in general. European values have become a soft-target, a punching bag and it is not just the Republican candidates that are shrill about being less European than their competition: policy-makers and editorializers squarely blame Europe for threatening the world economy, blocking quick and unilateral action against rogue states (thereby enabling the terrorists) and debasing faith and religion with an Ersatz secularism that Europe is only too happy, apparently, to export. Any one in American politics, it seems, interested in keeping his or her job is quick to distance themselves from international partners, and a similar tenor is coming also from just across the English Channel. This revived McCarthyism is nothing new and the pith and moment of campaigning can certainly excite feelings of xenophobia and patriotism that turns in on itself. Once, however, the mudslinging and bashing is over and strained diplomacy resumes and deals are kept out of the public view, there is little hope that opinions and image can be rehabilitated (for the victims of Euro-bashing or any other scapegoat) or the ironies, deflections and the side-shows cleared away. One boon and bane (Fluch und Segen) is that constituents usually do forget this heated levying of accusations and find it novel when the whole spectacle is drug out again.

Monday 2 January 2012

¡achtung!

H and I are finding an unlimited stream of documentaries on Justin.tv and the latest saga that we are engrossed with is the history of submarine warfare during WWII, endearingly produced by the Royal Spain Marine.

There's a lot of in depth knowledge presented in the series, that makes good use of a wealth of historic footage--clips are never repeated nor the soundtrack of incidental music which is always different too. The documentary has a charming A/V class feel to it sometimes (translated from Spanish to English, then dubbed in German), but certainly not in quality of in scholarship. Although we have watched a lot of programs on this theme and been to the U-Boot yards and docks along the Atlantic, it never really registered to me that submarines were taking advantage of more than a niche in the battlefield. The documentary took the time to people the culture of the submariners and impress what a really big piece of the war that front was, and not the planes and rockets that garner more attention. Similarly, WWI some contend that the Empires fell for the want of horses. One of the most significant denouements of the war was perpetrated by sloppy manufacturing of torpedos, which led to a reversal of power and untold lives and supplies not lost. The Italian war-time navy even produced little one-man vehicles that zipped around the Mediterranean like under water Vespas. One architect of the Kriegsmarine's submarine campaign, Otto Kretschmer, surrendered and was taken as a prisoner-of-war to Canada. Afterwards, he joined the German civil naval forces and rose to the admiralty of the NATO navy. Like the German engineers who became darlings of the American space agency during the Space Race, many apparently could transition into such careers. The components of peace and war are quite complex affairs to unravel.

specie

The rampant and entrenched fear of euroblivion for the common currency and for Europe's economic and political future relevance seems to me rife with dishonest and expedient bursts of fright. The currency union, many skeptics and hand-wringers argue, was conceived with errors, primarily citing that the push for economic integration without political alignment was too naive.
On the surface, that is a compelling argument but maybe that also smacks a bit of sophistry: Greece and Spain may not have the same tax regime and collecting mechanisms as Germany or France, nor perhaps the exact same philosophy when it comes to maintaining social programs, but I think that peace, cooperation, and willingness to participate in the EU parliament and abide by those rules does suggest a good degree of coming together politically. Differences that are not mutually exclusive, even in the context of the shared euro, and there is no politics or policies incompatible with the whole of the community. And granted financial inequalities glossed over made it possible for some nations to secure more and more cheap credit, but all that virtual money is created in a vacuum, betting on making good on outrageous debts, without the backing of property or manpower hours behind it—on both sides. Now these ledgers threaten a renewed stripping of that varnish, moves to create inequalities artificially and enhance competition. I am sure there was greed all around and not all players had the purest of intentions, but the goal of the EU was not this inversion. The fear that is visited on the economies and governments of Europe is not only a diversion-tactic and is going to spur the change that will safeguard these ideals, but rather help vouchsafe the lenders and usurers who've exhausted the opportunities elsewhere. Responsibility, fairness and stability are not fast-moving commodities.

Thursday 22 December 2011

taxiway

The American airline industry and various echelons of the US government are complaining bitterly about new European Union emission levies to go into effect with the coming of the new year. The EU efforts to single-handedly maintain the spirit of the Kyoto Accords to reduce negative environmental impact by imposing a carbon-tax on all flights taking off and landing in European airports are being decried as Europe slouching towards more of an isolationist policy, not integrating (I suppose) with the flagrant push for commerce and tourism at any and all costs with the rest of the world. Such vocal complaints and taunts are recent developments, however, and may be reflecting the pressure and shame that is being directed towards the EU for the way it is handling its economic affairs, as these arrangements have been known (and opposed) for over three years. The EU, upheld by Curia in Luxembourg and other legal observers, won’t fold on this project, despite the resistance of others. The US would find itself exempt from any surcharge, which surely would be passed along to the flying public in any case, if they had their own scheme and regulations in place to reckon and curtail pollution.

Friday 2 December 2011

booster-shot

Distinction are being made between the sovereign debt crisis in the Euro zone countries and the real economy, the market place. And while I agree that difference does merit attention, since after all orderly, responsible commerce and healthy and gainful employment are quite separate from the untold trillions in virtual currency shifting accounts and balance-sheets. Maybe the meaningless scale of indebtedness and indenturedness does not translate to inflation, at least at human proportions. And maybe a second infusion of cheap US dollars (to service, pay the interest on close-held and strewn about obligations) won't denigrate funds world-wide, making the real economy and resources too dear. Or was this follow-up flooding by the central banks a distraction and delay, which won't be without negative consequences? A billion dollar bill must be a pretty flimsy and filmy thing, were it ever available in hard-copy, nearly transparent and feeble. I'm not sure about these strategies, but I am ever baffled by the credence put in the enthusiasm or skepticism of barons, magnates, bankers, investors and other underwriters. Managing money ought to be regarded no differently than marshalling any other resource--water, trash, electricity, fuel--and compensated accordingly, not rewarded for creating more money out money.
Too much incentive has been levied against this sleight-of-hand, and this great gossipy game of Mah-Jongg (no offense against Mah-Jongg players, which is more social, honest, challenging and philosophical) is only about creating wealth from wealth and is not producing anything of real utility. I cannot gauge the nascent inflation in America, and do hope that the spheres of facetious debt (genuine but hardly authentic obligations often coerced and cultured) and finance and business have a stream to brook before mixing, but more over I hope that this line of thinking is not just a noble-lie to keep the public disengaged and unaware, secure in their jobs and purchasing-power--speaking of the German public, of course--or dangling optimistic messages while in reality, everything is getting more and more diluted.

Thursday 1 December 2011

metonymy

After a year and a half in the receivership of a caretaker government, Belgium is finally set to form a coalition, permanent regime. Political and cultural contention meant that the Low Country surpassed civil war-torn Cameroon and occupied Iraq for the modern record of operating without a proper elected government. Now, for the first time since the 1960s, the liberal and social-democratic parties have joined together under the leadership of a prime-minister from the French-speaking region of Wallonia. I think that this is a big accomplishment and wish the Belgian people continued success in their affairs, but it is a bit strange how the daily business of politics limped along over the past five-hundred days in a self-described power-vacuum towards this notorious record given that in Brussels there is already super-imposed seat of the European Union and those vested powers and a perfectly good royal family and given that the outcome of elections and party-partnerships will never please everyone. There are significant divides and cloying for representation between the Francophone Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemish, and politicians are generally disappointing. Belgium's perseverance to secure a proper government sort of reminds me of the biblical Israelites insistence on a human ruler out of king-envy and peer-pressure. Maybe it was a bit awkward to tell their neighbours that their king was God. The Israelites got some very good and wise secular leaders but were eventually tuned into the fact that earthly leadership was prone to error. Now that Belgium is not just Brussels, as the EU capital, hopefully the political loggerheads can be navigated and place more emphasis on unity rather than division.