Misty and dull here. Just the right weather to remember terrible days in history, with men and woman fighting in the damp, cloudy, freezing hell of Flanders Fields.
On a visit to Scotland 10 years ago, me and a friend of mine would go to a pub in Ullapool regularly, called "The Ferry Boat Inn". It was one of the last stops when you were going to the most Northern point of the English Isles. After Ullapool, there was nothing but lochs, moors and rocks.
One evening, an older man came to sit next to us on a barstool. We started talking and I noticed he had a pin on his vest that I couldn't recognise immediately. When asked, he calmly said "Oh, I was in Belgium you see. Lost a lot of friends then ... ."
Offering him a drink, which he refused, I told him "we had a lot to thank him for", while my friend opposite of me nodded (he was a history buff, with enough brains to know what sacrifices the fights around Ieper, or Ypres, had taken and what they had meant for our country and others).
Until today, I clearly see in front of me the blink in this veteran's eye, from the tears that were starting to well up, while he briefly stared in my face. He got up from the stool, saying "Thank you Sir, thank you very much" silently, almost whispering, opened the door and went.
Mark Steyn has an excellent peace on a bisexual prince, Ikea and poppies, Remembrance Day and the Great War, one small quote here:
After September 11, I wondered rhetorically (in The Spectator) what are we prepared to die for, and got a convoluted e-mail back from a French professor explaining that the fact that Europeans weren't prepared to die for anything was the best evidence of their superiority: they were building a post-historical utopia - a Europe it would not be necessary to die for. Or as Robert Kagan's recent thesis puts it: these days Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus.
In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Over at Live From Brussels, Maarten Schenk has gotten into a discussion with Belgian newspaper Gazet Van Antwerpen. Basically he's contesting them using the term "end of war" falsely: Bush never said "the war was over", he said "major combat operations were over".
Let's hope they listen to what Maarten is saying, but viewing this I'm inclined to think they're either deaf or bad in maths:
... Results of a public inquiry indicate that a majority of the Americans (51 percent) disapprove of Bush's policy on Iraq. The inquiry was done on demand of ABC and The Washington Post.
[Translation and italics mine, the original article is here]
Why not say it was a huuuge majority, like in "huuuge European efforts to help Iraq", or "huuuge efforts in Belgium to keep news fair and balanced"? More on that last bit later ... well maybe, I'm starting to rant already.
Feel free --or in case you're a Belgian, do not, seeing we're living in a society with parallels to the former Soviet Union-- to write a rant yourself to the paper: here's the page where you can find their contacts, I suggest you use this e-mailaddress, that's the one for the Belgian news, just to pull their legs, heheh ... . Or better yet, where it says "Informatie redactie GVA", there are a whole lot of them grouped together, use them all! Should keep them busy for the second half of the week. If you want to do it politely, use this one.
Via Christoph C. Cemper (seems like a very informative blog!):
Link goes to a bigger picture. Just thought it was a great cartoon, very visual and original, anyone know who it's from?
Quote of the week, on Belgian TV-channel VTM:
"The average age of the Belgian soldier is about ten years more as compared to an American soldier."
Signed: Willy Herteleer (one wonders if that's his friend in front of him here, standing first from left), former Chief of Staff of the Belgian (a)(A)rmy.
The answer was given in a very fast response to the question as to what Belgium might do to help rebuild Iraq.
Herteleer is also remembered as the first army boss in history to openly admit "not to be able to motivate" his warriors into fighting a war in Iraq.
With an army like this, who needs enemies ... .
[Note to self: do not make a habbit of thinking about national defense before going to bed]
Life has taken me through a few whirlwinds, hence the three-week hiatus in blogging. You know that feeling when all kinds of things happen around you, at work, in relationships, between family members, without any possible amount of control from your side? That's what happened, and all at once too. I'm not going to bother you with details, there are enough other blogs describing the weekly measured length of the cactus on the balcony or the cat that jumped from or on it.
In case this lengthy absence happens again: make life easier on yourself. If you hadn't noticed, there's an RSS feed on this website. Programs called RSS feed readers or news aggregators can pick up this feed and notify you whenever there's a new article being posted on your f(F)avourite website. Personally I use Awasu: basic service is free and it does what I want it to do, and even more. I don't know how other programs work, but here's where you can find some more free ones for Windows. Saves you a lot of time because there's no need anymore to surf from one site to the other just to notice they haven't written anything new.
And time I can use! I hardly know about anything that has happened in Belgium these past weeks. Ah well, there's always The Neighbourhood (on the left) where I can catch up on all sorts of Belgian quagmires, and the ones beneath them aren't doing a bad job either.
Speaking of which, thanks much to Former Belgian and Colby Cosh for linking to these pages! Go read them!
Belgian quagmire in Hove today, a village close to Antwerp: a suitcase was found, tied to a tree by means of a large metal chain. Local police feared the device to contain explosive material, placed there by terrorists.
DOVO, the military service that is responsable for the cleanup of explosives mostly found on the beach or in other places that have seen a lot of military activity in WW I and II, was immediately called up to come and dismantle the stained black office case.
Even before this internationally known group of highly specialized soldiers was at the location, a few youngsters hasted themselves to inform the authorities that there was nothing to fear.
To everyone's surprise, members of a scoutinggroup had played a game wherein the suitcase played the role of "object to be found", only to be forgotten after the children returned home.
Police and detectives found the suitcase to contain a carton of -- to their regret -- low-priced orange juice.
The scoutinggroup has apologized, leaving neighbours with something to talk about at work on Monday morning. After all, Belgium is not a country where one should be concerned about possible terrorism.
[Note: yes, I know this has all the looks of a Scrappleface story, but that's what really happened. Remember, this country produces comicbooks, ánd surrealism. Be sure to check out Scrappleface's latest news about the launching of SMART-1 though, flying around the moon ... look! ... Now it's gone. ... Look! ... Now it's gone ... . Look! ... ]
Glenn "Mac" Frazier -- yes, the man is still active, blogging slowly, but at least I can keep up with his pace now -- put me at work today by linking to the Guardian article announcing the death of Edward Said.
I didn't think I'd heard of the man before, but the same news popped up on news:be.politics, a Belgian newsgroup, when things started falling into place. The original poster only announced the news and linked to this site and called it "an overview" of the writer's work. That may very well be, but at the top there's a quote:
"The vast majority of our people are now thoroughly sick of the misfortunes that have befallen us ... On the other hand, I have never met a Palestinian who is tired enough of being a Palestinian to give up entirely." -- Dr. Edward Said.
Now that's the kind of quote that makes me think "Something smells odd" (or it gives me the feeling that I already know which direction things are headed).
The first link on "the overview" goes to The Palestinian Chronicle and Kofi Anan saying that
"While not sharing all of Professor Said's opinions, the Secretary-General always enjoyed his company, savoured his wit, and admired the passion with which he pursued his vision of peace between Israelis and Palestinians".
Yeah well, the UN has to mourn almost everyone's death, except Stalin's, but I didn't see any official press releases on this one, and those even come with titles like "LONGER-LASTING ANTI-MOSQUITO BEDNETS IN AFRICA COULD SAVE MILLIONS OF LIVES".
Anyway, wanting to keep our own very distinguished newsgroup from falling into the trap of being "too unbalanced", I felt the urge to post a reply on the original post and changed the title into "Intellectual Terrorism" (I'll tell you where it is as soon as Google has had its 12 hours to archive things -- UPDATE: you can see the thread here). The last link especially seems very interesting so all I'm going to do is copy-paste my reply here and give myself a chance to catch up on reading. Yes, that's something I do when I can't catch sleep. The other links to Winds Of Change and Blogirish should keep you busy as well.
Tomorrow's a familyday and Sunday the kite should be going up again. Have a nice read, and a nice weekend of course.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE
Yes, the Taliban was a paranoid hallucination, Mary Robinson was deluded in thinking that they did not treat their women well, and as for their destruction of the giant Buddha statues, well, degustibus non est disputandum. Wealthy Wahabis did not fund Koranic schools that served as recruiteing grounds for Al Quaeda; and if bin Ladin pined for lost Andalus (1492!), well that was the Yanks' fault too. Saddam did not oppress the Shias, and the Shia theocracy does not employ thugs to abduct and beat students protesting for democracy in Iran. Palestinians did not dance in the streets over the Twin Towers and do not beat up pollsters who reveal that 90% of them have no interest in "returning" to Israel.
a deeply dishonest man whose work remains one of the primary contributors to the deep incomprehension of the Mideast. He's a contributory cause of our pre-9/11 blindness, and his remaking of the Middle Eastern Studies field into its current pathetic state badly hampers our efforts to defend civilization to this day.
Said admitted in the afterword of the 1994 edition of Orientalism that "I have no interest in, much less capacity for, showing what the true Orient and Islam really are." In other words, Said was not interested in advancing scholarship, but only anti-Western polemical screeds, being mostly content with hurling vitriolic and malicious invective against past and present Orientalists, such as Silvestre de Sacy and Bernard Lewis.
And last but definitely not least:
The most pernicious legacy of Said's Orientalism is its support for religious fundamentalism , and on its insistence that "all the ills [ of the Arab world ] emanate from Orientalism and have nothing to do with the socio-economic , political and ideological makeup of the Arab lands or with the cultural historical backwardness which stands behind it "
CNN's Jim Clancy called it a black and white view of the world, referring to George W. Bush's speech before the U.N. today. From Islamofascist (do I still have to use caps for this word?) terrorism over nukular toys of Iranian Mullahs or North Korean dictators, to sextourism, AIDS, malaria and overall poorness.
Here's another black and white view:
Yep. A lot of work in front of us. All we need now is someone to roll up its sleeves and help the ones that have started the work already.
ADDITIONAL: LVBlog links to a NYT article on Hayek Institute on why the French are weaseling out of things and why we should feel very sorry about it:
What is so amazing to me about the French campaign - "Operation America Must Fail" - is that France seems to have given no thought as to how this would affect France. Let me spell it out in English: If America is defeated in Iraq by a coalition of Saddamists and Islamists, radical Muslim groups - from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris - will all be energized, and the forces of modernism and tolerance within these Muslim communities will be on the run. To think that France, with its large Muslim minority, where radicals are already gaining strength, would not see its own social fabric affected by this is fanciful.
. . .
Says John Chipman, director of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies: "What the Europeans are saying about Iraq is that this is our backyard, we're not going to let you meddle in it, but we're not going to tend it ourselves."
Ill weeds grow apace ... .
As Dog Of Flanders pointed out in the comments to the previous post, more than one weasel jumped out of his chair after hearing the news about Flanders thinking about organising the 2016 Olympic Games. Everyone wants a piece of the cake.
On the other hand, it's quite normal if you come up with this kind of needle that sticks in the other half of the country's eye (not to mention Brussels). Remember the playground? "If you're steeling from me, I'm gonna play alone and build my own sandcastle! Na-nana-naa-naah!"
Oh well, two weeks from now and you won't be hearing a thing anymore. Bart Somers' -- the Flemish minister that started it all off -- popularity rate goes up, he got to be in the news, and the Walloons received another warning to be carefull on how to keep demanding for Flemish money to be pumped in the South.
In another era, when Belgium was still a harmoniously coherent country, things would probably have been easier, like in 1920 for instance. That's right, this little country already organised the games once in Antwerp.
So why not do it again? Belgium Prime-Minister Guy Verhofstadt is planning on spending money in public infrastructure (is this going to be Belgium's New Deal?), so why not do it combined with the Games, ánd let the Walloons have a piece of the cake, they're going to enjoy the spinn-offs anyway. If they want in, let them do their part of the job, and two heads make more ideas.
Again, as we're used in Belgium, we will see. 2016 is a long time from now.
The evening is not, to my surprise, as far anymore and the tide is coming in. I'm organising my own Olympic Games and taking the kite out. Now there's a highflyer that goes up.
Have a fun weekend yourselves!
UPDATE: Tuesday 23rd September 2003: in a reaction to the Flemish idea thrown before their feet, now Brussels is going to propose itself to the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Comittee (BOIC). On condition that the rest of Belgium is going to chip in mind you. Well, if others are going to pay your festivities, there's no need to do an expensive study to see how realistic the project would be, is there? Expect some more communautarian fireworks.
The Deadly Bell Rock Reef had terrorised seamen for centuries. Eleven miles out to sea off the East Coast of Scotland, it was the scene of countless shipwrecks - in one night alone in 1799, seventy ships went down. But taming these wild northern seas with their mountainous waves was considered so dangerous that no one believed it was possible to build a lighthouse on Bell Rock. Then in 1800, one young pioneer, Robert Stevenson, claimed it could be done.
See, water and wind and maybe even some romanticism: you know where you can find me tonight.
Maybe I'll tell you something more tomorrow about Flanders organising the Olympic Games. Huh? Yes, you read well, not Belgium, not the Walloons, but the Flemish are talking about organising the 2016 Olympic Games.
Heheh, eat that!
Not too many new stuff to see here the last couple of days was there? I'll try to make up for it as the week goes along. If this Belgium bloggingservice lets me that is, I hope you people didn't have to wait too long to download these pages. Apparently Skynet (see the teenie weenie ad on the top left corner) is going up the same road as Blogger and Blogspot: too much succes on a too short note, resulting in servers being unreachable or other things just getting screwed up. Be prepared to change your bookmarks in due time, this is a state-funded service, no chance for Google to buy this kind of Govzilla.
Thanks again to Michele Catalano who was kind enough to let me use the picture of the last standing girder at Ground Zero. Unbelievable how she managed to hold on while reading all the stories sent in for the Voices Project. If you want to send in your story, please don't hesitate, I'm sure she'll know what to do with it. Click on the Voices logo -- on the top right, it'll stay there for quite a while -- to go there.
I found this years' September 11th to be quite different from what I thought it was going to be. It was different, but not less intense, on the contrary. It wasn't easy to write the text for Voices either, I felt torn back to those days and emotions.
I thought I had read and seen everything about the September Atrocity, until the Blogosphere started tuning in.
Eric's discussion about the Insta putting up the picture of The Falling Man showed me that the memories of that day are and will be for a long time to come, engraved in our memories.
Personally I didn't mind at all seeing the picture, on the contrary, but please feel free to form an opinion yourself, after reading the photographer's thoughts on it that is (subscription free and worth it, or go here, here or here for an hour worth of reading).
ADDITIONAL: (25th September 2003): regarding Michele's pic of the girder, I forgot that the last standing girder was driven away on a lorry, in a ceremony last year. Snopes has more info.
Yet nearly everyone seems to grasp intuitively that if the anti-American terrorists were to get their hands on a nuclear bomb, they would use it at once, and may perfectly well be planning such a thing even now.
How reassuring that would be--to learn that our enemy has the dimensions of a small street gang! It may even be true that, at least in regard to the attacks of September 11, only a few dozen people were involved. But that would be like saying that Pearl Harbor was attacked by merely a few hundred Japanese pilots.
But we are facing a substantial and well-organized enemy. Our enemy is the combat wing of radical and Islamist movements that are genuinely enormous.
The solution, in short, lies in effecting enormous changes in large parts of the political culture of the Arab and Islamic world--the sort of transformation that can be achieved, if at all, only after many years or even decades of struggle, and not through any single decisive strike.
It's a six pages long text, but it's very to the point and worth the read.
Thanks much to Howard's Musings for putting up part of a previous article on Slate about the writer (titled "Bush is an idiot, but he was right about Saddam" ... probably a good advertising policy by the people of Slate ... ).
ADDITIONAL: more Belgian Bloggers showing their feelings towards 9/11.
This one from LVB got me by the throat. Notice the timing of the post. The title says "In Memoriam - without words" ... .
ADDITIONAL2: there will be one post on Thursday, no more, no less. I was planning to post it at the same time that the first airplane flew into the World Trade Center, but I'm not taking the risk of this service being down like it was today, so I'm putting it up now.
All my support goes out to the people concerned, be it directly or indirectly.
Written in response to Michele Catalano's "Voices" project, over at A Small Victory, asking people to write down their memories of 9/11, so as not to forget.
Dedicated to the future.
Belgium, September 1st 2003
We didn't expect it to happen ... nobody did. Draped in a warm cocoon of luxury we all thought we were safe. Sure, "We wouldn't forget" ..., we saw the -- by now sloganesk -- writings in movies, plays and books a hundred times and more: "Never again" ... . But we still did forget.
In a timespan of half a century the idea of war was pushed to the backs of our minds. Things looked quite good anyway: we all had cars to take us through a cold winter morning. We had television to entertain us and make us forget the sorrow of a slightly more difficult day at work. And hey, the Wall came down, one less problem to deal with, why worry? The evils of fascism and communism were defeated and the Age of Aquarius was coming, mankind developed and it was time to think about the future, in a not-too-modest positive way if possible.
People who work in shifts tend to feel a bit strange now and then. It's strange to come home at noon and having the feeling it's night already. But you try to adapt, you eat something while listening to the radio, one ear hearing the radio, the other is there to hear yourself thinking about what you are going to do with the remaining part of the day.
Vaguely I overheard that something had happened in New York, a building on fire ... special news report ... probably an accident ... no surprise in that ... all those skyscrapers ... busy airtraffic ... damn ... .
Then another news report, and another, ... quite normal actually ... the "Media Contemplating the Big Apple ... ". A few minutes pass, I was already on a slightly higher state of alert than I was when I came home. When I was young I used every second of my spare time to read about space and everything that flew beneath it. I never liked it when one came down.
The music stopped. Not in the kind way. Not in the way music is fading out when radiopeople want to announce a traffic jam, or even put a few giggles in between. It was done the hard way, with the push of a thumb instead of the gentle strike of the index finger, unorganized. You could hear the unrest even in the speaker's voice.
Connections were broken, re-established again, texts were spoken with a lot of pauses in between. My heartrate had already gone up quite considerably by that time.
"A second airpl ..." was all I could stumble. It was all that I needed. Things went fast from then on. Something had announced a very long day, well into a short night, into a new era.
I felt myself rising from my chair, dropping everything at hand, knife and fork falling loudly on my plate. Things were still falling when I was watching CNN, the only American channel Belgian cable companies were providing at that time.
Staying at my parents' house, there was a small couch on four wheels in front of the TV, about 3 meters away from it. That's where I sat for the next two, three, four hours ... for the rest of the day, hands between legs.
All those questions running through one's head: "Who did this? Why? How many people are in there?" Then a third plane, a fourth, still later a fifth. "How many were there? How did they do this?" At the time, I didn't yet realise which effect this was going to have on everyone's lives. I think it was only later, at the same time that a helicopter pilot could be heard yelling "Holy shit!", that anger and bitterness started coming in. Before that, it was only bewilderment.
Throughout the whole day and many days more from then on, I tried to imagine what it was like for the people inside. A young man above the hole where the first plane hit, calling on the phone with his grandmother, comes to mind, asking her what that "rumbling sound was he could hear in the background" ... .
Tower Two was gone ... I felt frozen.
If this one came down, the other one is going too, I remember thinking, and the people inside Tower One must realize it. Later investigations showed that at least some of them did. They broke the windows to get some air, some cameras captured them waving their shirts or whatever they could find, crying for help, in vain.
Some jumped or fell, nobody can ever forget those images. Nor the sounds of people crashing into glass, which I later saw, frightened even the Firefighters. Some researchers brought forward that it may very well have been that people didn't choose to jump, but instead searched on hands and knees, keeping low to escape the smoke and the heat, trying to find a way out, not realizing they were going towards an open window.
It was such a long day. I remember feeling exhausted when Building 7 came down, as I was preparing to go to bed. "How many more?"
When you look back at things, you realise how much our world has changed. A new -- formerly ánd now still -- underestimated threat has come into our world. Letting those two years run through my mind, I see the days, weeks and months afterwards, reading all the articles, watching all the news, hearing a lady captured under a firefighting-truck scream out for help through a radio she had found.
I lost friends because of differences on how to fight this struggle.
We are barely in the first day of this week in September, but I have already met myself a few times when someone pointed me to this audiovisual file. I remembered it from seeing it before tens of times, but it still catches you when looking at it. Go here if you don't get through, I suspect the site will be down more than once this week but they have numerous mirrors.
The September 11th Collection is there as well for thumbnails and audiovisual stuff -- requires RealPlayer and/or Quicktime, if, again, their server is willing -- but they have a chronology in HTML (faster connection!) as well of the days after that sunny Tuesday morning.
On the happenings (...) in Iraq, Sparkey linked to a great site full of pictures, taken by US Marines there. If you're wondering how luxurious the men and women over there are living it, caption this (link goes to bigger picture):
But then again, I guess they know why they're getting pushed through this dirt, and we owe them gratitude.
Well, it'll be two years since already, I'm writing this while watching a BBC documentary about the discussion last year on the rebuilding.
Besides the pictures of Michele at A Small Victory, there will be a lot of bloggers continuing their focus on 9/11 this week, Starhawk over at Freedom Lives is doing a great job I think, now and then he's posting pictures of his visit to Ground Zero in May.
Shell links to someone over at Little Green Footballs who has both lived through Pearl Harbor ánd the attacks of 9/11, interesting read.
Let's not forget about the third and the fourth plane that went down: here's where you can find the people of Shanksville remembering the 40 victims that died in their town. The picture shows "40 angels":
And then suddenly, someone comes up with what is probably the only video capturing both planes. I mean, how can you? Showing them off in pubs or something?
The tape was shot by a Czech immigrant construction worker, whose young son at one point came close to accidentally erasing it.
While hundreds of people have been working on investigating these things for about two years? "Relax, have a beer, I've got this great video I shot while on vacation?"
A friend of Hlava's wife obtained a copy of the tape and traded it to pay off a bar tab. Another woman learned of that copy and informed Karling, who took the tape to the Times.
The Times and ABC both said they did not pay for the tape. Karling refused to comment.
I would too if I were in his shoes. Here's where you can find the NYT's coverage of the story, requires (free) subscription. Astonish yourself.
UPDATE: LGF has put up an extra thread -- where people are also asking questions on the surfacing of the video. Don't you wonder how many are still around? Or even worse, sold?!?
If you don't want to subscribe to the NYT, use "f r e e n y t" twice, without the spaces (id and password), thanks for the reminder reaganite!
I don' t really have a way to put everything I want to say in a nice and clean story, so here's where the "short-paragraphs-next-to-little-stars-mode" comes in:
* Arab news channel Al Jazeera's English website is back online. Hope it stays there a little bit longer than last time. CNET has a good article for more details.
* Personally, I am going offline, well partially anyway. I started this site to taste the virtues of automated blogging and it hasn't been a bad experience. The "other, more boring blog" has thus -- I'll keep it online though -- met his master.
* Contrary to what Undymedia may think, the Americans are not thát bad after all:
... (2003-08-25) -- The United States will send 22 million troops to Iraq this year to ensure the safety of every Iraqi and every structure in the country.
... The spokesman acknowledged that military recruiting would have to "increase substantially" to provide such a force, but in the meantime Manpower Inc. would provide temp workers to fill most of the positions.
The right hono(u)rable gentleman who brought us this very warming news has blogrolled me! (Sorry, I didn't want to brag or anything, just couldn't resist ...)
* Someone was willing to spend $2,398.55 to take over 313 of my shares, restructuring my facilities, I s**t you not. He did this by exercising his right to use a U.N. Resolution. All advice, or more uhm ... concrete,
hard cash ... investments, is, are ... welcome.
* More on money-matters: there are 5,274,344,473 people poorer than me. Think you're poorer? Odds are indeed that you're not. Now that's a nice one to go to bed with isn't it? Sweet dreams!
Billy Connolly on the Beeb yesterday, in his usual manner:
"I think the Romans hated the climate in Scotland. If you came from Rome and you were wearing a wee toga the Scottish climate isn't everything you could wish for. They decided to give it a miss about Northumbria and built this wall."
Actually I didn't see that particular bit -- I started watching too late, go here for more info on the show itself -- but I did see this:
Can't figure out what it is? It's awesome, it's beautiful, it's grand! I think I love it!
90,000 vehicles pass it every day. It stands 65 feet high and has a 54 metre (175 feet) wingspan, bigger than a Boeing 757 or 767 jet and almost the same as a Jumbo jet, it weighs 200 tonnes and rests on massive concrete piles that go 20 meters deep in the ground.
Can you imagine the technology that went into it:
[Diaphragms] - looking like ribs on the surface, they are actually 50mm thick horizontal plates which go right through the body - up to six metres by three metres and weighing almost five tonnes. There are five of these - the most crucial in the chest which line up with the horizontal diaphragms on the wings to provide a solid anchor point.
To be honest, since I was a small guy I was made familiar with the world of steel-construction and welding -- my grandfather was a blacksmith -- so I am quite well placed to understand what it took to build this. I'm just amazed.
Mind you, it's not only the numbers that count, not to me anyway. You have to take into account that the statue is built on a terrain where there used to be coal mining factories, and I see a few analogies there. Think of the endless manhours that were spent underground, the pain, the desperation, the sweat, the sickness. But yet, the Angel stands firm and tall, proud. Not moved by the Scottish windy storms. It's a tribute.
Almost Stalinistic you say? Megalomania? I don't think so, it's much more subtle. Look at the wings. Is that what an angel's wings are supposed to look like? "Carré", like they say in French? "Square-shaped?" Look closer: I Googled around to find more and more pictures of it, and the longer I looked at them the more I was thinking how difficult it is to take a picture of the damn thing. The pics I found just don't represent it in the right way. I don't think they can. You have to walk around it, bend your knees, turn your camera to get the right angle. And even then. That's what great art is about: it's almost as if there was only this one, maybe divine possibility: put the wings a bit more to the front or to the back and it would have turned out the wrong way. There hás to be some stiffness in this design.
That's why the wings are square-shaped. Picasso's lemons almost "looked" more acid than the real ones because they were like triangles. They weren't supposed to be round. It's not supposed to be an angel with feathered wings as well. It represents the harshness of The People Of The North, who worked underground for centuries. Their soul is in the statue.
While having the day completely influenced by this once-in-a-year meet-up with -- by now very popular -- culture I looked up some more links. Here's one from Brian Micklethwait, contributor to Samizdata but this is from one of his own blogs:
We are, in Britain, just at the beginning of a new golden age of public sculpture, heralded by the Angel of the North. This, to me, somewhat half-hearted figure has revealed, by the mere fact of its public existence, a huge fan base for public sculpture that is of something, that really says something and celebrates something, in this case, presumably, the rise of a new North of England from the rust and dust and mud of the old. The happy hubbub of talk that surrounds this somewhat banal but nevertheless appealing little figure, stuck up above the A1 just south of Gateshead, is in extreme contrast to the bitter and angry public silence by which all those Hepworth-style blobs were surrounded by when they were unveiled. And just like the architects before them, the sculptors have decided which response they prefer, and are lunging for public glory. Good for them.
I should think so. For the art-lovers: in this blog of his Brian is focusing on a lot more of the artworld.
Here and here's where I found a few more pics (the last one has a few good ones for desktop purposes I think, just browse through folders 5 and 6).
If anyone has more pics to contemplate or any comments, don't hold yourselves back!
Shock & Awe, meet your master, in all it's beauty. Antony Gormley, thank you for The Angel Of The North! Ullapool, I'll be back!
Update (11th March 2004): Ross Noble, stand-up comedian, in one of his shows, when asked what he thought about The Angel Of The North:
Oh, I think it's fantastic! But hey, you know what? It was only up for about half an hour and it was already called "The Gateshead Flasher"! [hilarity ensues--ed.]
Ah, English humo(u)r ... love it.
Q: A large number of self-described objectivists and libertarians firmly opposed the war in Iraq. Yet you have been generally supportive of the Bush administration's war policies. Why the disconnect, do you think?
FORKUM: The disconnect is that Objectivists aren't libertarians, not if they follow Ayn Rand's ideas consistently. She explicitly rejected libertarianism as anarchism years ago, and today it's even clearer why she did. Prominent libertarian organizations opposed the war with Iraq as meddlesome government intervention, as if all government action is inherently wrong.
Objectivism, however, holds that government is essential to a just society but must be limited to protecting individual rights. Such protection sometimes involves foreign intervention, such as waging wars against hostile enemies. If anything, it was a lack of intervention -- from the Iranian hostage crisis to the USS Cole bombing -- that emboldened the Islamist murderers of 9/11. Objectivists might disagree about military priorities, such as whether Iraq should have come before Iran, but none that I know were against war in principle. I recommend that people read the op-eds at the Ayn Rand Institute for more information.
Q: You seem to pick on Democrats more than Republicans. Why is that?
COX: I can't draw elephants.
He can, mind you, and donkeys too. Go read and see the article over on Capitalism Magazine, they have put the appropriate cartoons between the dialogue, which makes things ... well ... more clear ... as in cartoons.
Thanks to Andrew Medworth for the pointer by the way. Check out his blog, it looks very interesting to me. And he beat me to it because I wanted to link to Mark Steyn also -- see Andrew's previous post -- dammit ... .
Fancy buying some stock? Added this site to blogshares.com -- see the spiffy button at the bottom on the left.
Just realised I don't know anything about stock markets though, that's why I put a screaming ad above the button, "Hey this blog is still cheap, it's not even available to trade yet ... oops ... ."
You mark my words, I may hardly be able to buy a fr**ging share at the moment -- see my huuuuuuuge portfolio -- things will improve in Q4 of this year! (What with winter and all ... summer over ... cold outside ... )
This is the first kite video I ever made. I was at the beach filming my dog in the surf when suddenly I looked up and saw some dude flying over my head, hanging upside-down attached to a kite. I kept filming for an hour and when I got home and watched the video it BLEW MY MIND! I've been obsessed with filming the sport ever since. Starring Bill Kraft, Andy DeFilippis and Billy Blackmon.
Great site with lots of free kite movies. Added it to the blogroll on the right.
Blogging really is a lot easier with the appropriate software, unlike updating a normal (?) webpage like "the other blog".
Maarten and Phil H have been doing a great job putting up the Skynetblogs service (French version here, Dutch here, as if there's not enough advertising on this site already!), but quite a few major functions are still missing or are malfunctioning. But yes, I do feel tempted to make this one the main blog instead of the Geocities mess. Mess? Well, I'm putting it together with Frontpage and apparently both the editors (Frontpage and the manual one from Yahoo) don't go too well together. For whatever reason, hyperlinks get mutilated once they are uploaded, and that is just half of the story. Time will tell I guess.
For those of you who are not too familiar with the Blogosphere, the Master Blogger has (again, I know) a few nice links to get you started:
And there's already a few updates where that came from. Go read!
Ganz grade auß yah!
Whilst looking at the beatiful pictures of "The Spray", I noticed they have a link to Babelfish and tried some myself, only the fish started to get quite freaky when I translated a previous post of mine (see "On a roll", permalinks don't work well yet):
Hmmm, beginne ich zu wie ihm hier. Schaut nettes huh? Gießt jemand den Code in etwas wie Dreamweaver oder so? Ich scheine, mich an das sprechende Fiedeln der Leute mit dem CSS-code zu erinnern.... OH-, hinsichtlich meines anderen blog -- jemand kam wirklich unten dort, zu erlernen wie "erhalten um geocities Bandbreite". Brunnen nicht fragen mich daß, aber falls die Yahoo-Leute mich nicht mehr mögen, ich ruhiges hergekommen kann. Hey, sogar hat das Insta ein Unterstützungswerkzeug... .
In French I even played some violin, no kidding! Go here to have some fun yourself and of course I cannot forget Lileks who suffered a headache from reading these things: "I fainted once, and hit my head on the desk; ten aspirin couldn’t betaeuben the ache."
Here's the article Lileks is having fun with -- "How zuegelloser can the Information Minister get when it comes to fantasien about the Besatzers?"-- hilarious !!!
Have a great weekend!
One of the best sites I've seen ever when it comes down to sailboatconstruction: good luck to "The Spray" !!!
Just finished selecting a few sites for my Cartoonroll: this one is a good one to illustrate the dubious (now how does that ring another bell?) behaviour of Foreign Minister Louis Michel. No let me refrase that: he's the National Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Michel is portrayed as a UN (see VN, Verenigde Naties in Dutch) "Blue Helmet", referring to his earlier refusal -- amongst others ... -- to sell weapons to Nepal. (At this moment his socialist colleague Stevaert seems to rebut the selling of a few worn-down F-16 fighter jets, there would be no surprise in it if things would slide away in another endless discussion).
Anyway -- this is supposed to be a fun site -- the letters on LM's Helmet have been overwritten saying "FN": Fabrique Nationale d 'Armes de Guerre in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Michel, being a National Minister but also a Walloon, does not seem to mind putting a few ethical questions aside when it comes down to providing work to his voters. "Dubya" indeed ... .