Monthly Archives: December 2006

Orson Welles in Belgium

It is still working! 68 years after the original radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles. Listen to the original here: RTBF, a Belgian public television station repeated the exercise. This time without aliens invading planet earth but with the political destruction of Belgium. In the version of (french-speaking) RTBF, Flanders, the dutch speaking region declared unilaterally its independence. According to newspaper reports 89% of the viewers believed the hoax which is of course the result of two years of preparation. Even international media (BBC, The Independent, Spiegel) reported about this rather special TV event.

Obviously, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was not amused and was quoted with this statement:

In the current context, it’s irresponsible for a public television channel to announce the end of Belgium as a reality presented by genuine journalists.

But the truth is that Belgium has a huge unresolved problem regarding its federal structure and the two biggest language communities. Vlaams Belang, a nationalist/conservative/xenophob party (Slogan in the last election campaign: “Secure, Flemish, Liveable”) has been very successful in the last years promoting Flemish independence and managed to double its seats in local municipalities from 439 to 800 in the 2006 elections being now one of the biggest parties in Belgium.

But thanks to the ‘cordon sanitaire’ of the other parties a public discourse about this issue is still a taboo. Maybe the brave journalists really get a public debate started that helps to reunite the French and the Dutch communities….well, wishful thinking I suppose.


2015: The future is truly scary

I don’t know how I managed to miss this. I must have been offline for a while. Anyway, I don’t know what is more scary: The prospect of being deceived by Google and Co. in a few years or how the advertising machinery already controls our minds.

EPIC 2015: Googlezon

How to order Pizza in the future (with Googlezon running the world)

DOVE: Evolution (or how to work with photoshop professionally)

I am also wondering if this blog gets more traffic now because I posted something about google as it is supposed to be….(according to rumours in the blogosphere 😉

Giddens in Brussels

Today, Anthony Giddens promoted his new book in Brussels. It is called “Europe in the Global Age” and it is about the “European Social Model”. Before I go into details, I need to stress the fact that I have not read the book and I also do not have the intention to do so. Not because of the fact that I don’t think Giddens is a good writer but I have the feeling (after his presentation) that it offers no new insights into the topic. Giddens offered some nice catch phrases about social justice and economic efficiency but no groundbreaking research results.

He started off calling the EU “a gigantic learning machine” that has various ‘social models’ that obviously learn from each other. The major problem of the European social model (that does not exist in this sense) is not, as commonly argued, globalisation but rather an aging society and the development of a knowledge – based – service – society. According to Giddens there are only best practices but no best models. A society is sustainable only if it manages to do structural reforms to address the challenges of the future. After two years of research he came to the conclusion that three points are essential for a country to be successful in the 21st century:

1. competitiveness has nothing to do with the promotion of low tax regimes

2. social justice and a high level of employment are also important

3. “women and children and young families first”

In the second part of the lecture he stressed the fact that the Lisbon agenda of the EU is “weak on social justice” compared with the economic efficiency/ competitiveness rhetoric. Even though many countries that have pursued policies in the Lisbon agenda style succeeded, Giddens warned that the winners from today might be tomorrows loosers because they might forget about the importance of “social justice”. But we should not think in old patterns here: “The people that are poor today are different from the people that were poor 30 years ago.” Commenting on the current state of the EU, Giddens stressed the fact that we should not be too pessimistic and that the EU is in a much better condition than people think.

All in all, nothing new. And be honest: would you buy the book?