About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

State of Failure: Flemish Brabant


Introduction

Flemish Brabant owes its existence to the ever-changing language conflict, a quarrel that escalated after some cockfighting. But the province has so much more on offer. Discerning visitors will find undisturbed areas of silence right next to mega festival grounds. Some fields are still manually harvested, right next to toxic industry zones and cancer factories. And, there are woods with magnificent palaces next to villages where everyone still gets their water from the village pump.

Important facts

The name ‘Flemish Brabant’ has caused some confusion, because there is also a ‘Walloon Brabant’, and, in the Netherlands, ‘North Brabant.’ The story is a pretty simple one: everything from Waterloo to Eindhoven (NL) used to be the Duchy of Brabant.

However, Antwerp insisted on naming its province after itself, and North Brabant simply couldn’t let go, like a spurned ex-husband who keeps his wife’s photographs and still has an old key. Belgian Brabant got split in 1995 into its Dutch-speaking and its French-speaking halves. Like in that JCVD flick where he has an evil twin, both Belgian Brabants now eye one another suspiciously.




A crippled child

No province summarizes Belgium better than Flemish Brabant. When it started out in 1995, the Walloons took the best agricultural grounds with them, and Europe claimed Brussels as its own, literally driving a hole into what remained of Flemish Brabant. Ever since that tri-partition, there has been an unending gyre between three peoples.

Rich French-speakers from Brussels move to Flemish Brabant, who in turn leave for Walloon Brabant, where the houses are somewhat more affordable, driving the Walloons to Brussels. It’s basically like the plastic soup in the Pacific, only it’s made of disgruntled people.

The cordon sanitaire

To avoid crime and immigration problems from Brussels spreading out to the rest of the country, the province has created a cordon sanitaire around it. The ‘Green Belt’ around Brussels is maintained by both language communities. To the south, a demarcation line is observed by rich, French-speaking racists, and everywhere else, Flemish racists guard the front.

Each year, Flemings drive up the ante by intimidating Bruxellois only the way middle-aged men with too much time can: they cycle around the Green Belt aggressively, in fluorescent spandex and with lots of beer.

To see and visit in Flemish Brabant
 

Louvain

Louvain is a city of records. It boasts the world’s longest bar, the most enlightened despot, the largest number of civil action committees and the greatest amount of student unions per square meter. Louvain is also home to the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, who discovered the secret of how to turn river water from the Dyle into quality beer and pay €0 in taxes while doing so.

Last but not least, here is also Europe’s only university that manages to lose knowledge rather than gain it: visionary rectors have let its library perish in flames, or chased out half their staff to the other part of the country. In a more recent past, rectors gave away interesting knowledge for a few quarters to so-called spin-off companies. For instance, rector Torfs himself began a retail chain of shoe stores.

The ‘Rand’
Travelers are advised to avoid most of the so-called ‘Rand’ around Brussels. Its western part, the Pajottenland, has been terrorized for decades by the elusive bandit Urbanus van Anus. The eastern portion is more developed, with the national airport of Zaventem. But, despite the Oslo Accords and resolution 446 of the UN Security Council, French-speakers keep building new colonies.

Werchter

The area around Werchter is world-famous for its summer music festivals. Its reputation as a free haven for young people for wild, aberrant behaviour, unique music experiences and seedy sex is greatly exaggerated.

In the past few years, the area mainly attracts thirty-something middle class people, and the number of incidents because of urine odours is greater than the number of people who actually hook up.

Tienen and the Hageland

The Tienen area is Belgium’s most well-known wine region. The vineyards from the Hageland have such sour produce that kilograms of sugar have to be added to make its wines suitable for consumption. Tienen’s flourishing sugar industry has spawned many imitators, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Haïti.

Risking lives in Brussels

Every day, many Flemish Brabantians risk their lives to go into Brussels, spend 8 hours at a desk and then go home, without ever checking their prejudices. Pictured: frightened civil servant. Civil servants then regale their scared children with tales of great courage, like how they once saw a beggar look at them strangely, or how they were sure those crafty Moroccan boys were discussing their next gang rape in unintelligible Arabic.

Other Brabantians work in academia, either until they die, drop out out of exhaustion, or die from exhaustion. Flemish Brabant is also home to smug self-made men who are literally experts at everything from cars to building houses to politics and to gratifying oral sex.

Entertainment for idiots and grannies

Vilvoorde is the locus of Flanders’ more commercial television entertainment. Television station VTM has done more to make old people frightened of statistically very unlikely crimes than anyone ever could. Pictured: terrifying the shit out of your granny.

Another great pastime is the rivalry of the Catholic University of Louvain with its liberal counterpart in Ghent to see who can produce the greatest intellectual lightweights. Former Louvain rector Rik Torfs currently holds the candle, but up and coming fedora slinger Maarten Boudry from Ghent is sure to be a tough challenger.