on Belgium

What will Belgium do next? At the end of last year it was up to its ears in a political crisis, which as far as I know has not been resolved. I mean, the fact that I see nothing of Belgium in recent news can only mean that Verhofstadt‘s interim government is still ticking along in a holding pattern, waiting for someone to make a decision. Because this is Europe, life goes on pretty much as normal for everyone else.

Despite having read up on it, I can’t figure out why Belgium is even a country. They’re not united by a common language or culture, or anything except the fact of having hosted a lot of the major wars of the last 500 years (while not actually being involved themselves in these wars – I seem to be the only person who thinks that’s weird: Germany has a disagreement with France, and steamrollers Belgium. The Spanish and the Austrians are miffed at eachother, so they go beat up the Belgians. Huh?). The linguistic-nationalist divisions are growing every day, they’re threatening divorce, and DrBob says it’s not going to happen, but if it did, it’d be so fascinating to be there, watching history in the making. Fascinating, yet safe, which is not something you can usually say when a country is falling apart (Yugoslavia, anyone?).

Anyway, Amy asked what Belgium’s like, and I don’t actually know how Belgium is, to live in. I was there as a semi-tourist, visiting my cousin Shane, about, oh… 16 years ago? That’s where I met Melanie, actually. But, you know, it’s Europe. Northwestern Europe, even. You can expect high prices, good health insurance and a decent infrastructure, which puts it light-years ahead of most other countries I can name, even countries not on the verge of political meltdown. I mean, yes, Belgium’s a mess in European terms (though of course still not as bad as Italy) but we’re talking European terms here – political disputes are settled by men in suits talking a lot, not men running around with machetes.

Song du jour of the day: heh. Sanomi, by Urban Trad. This was Belgium’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, and is sung in a made-up language, presumably because the Belgians would otherwise have been unable to agree on which song to send.


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