Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bubble house

Pic of the week

The Travelled Monkey - Bubble house
Photo by John Weaver

I got a taste of Belgian surrealism this week when a cloud of giant bubbles drifted down on my path while I was out for an evening walk in Mechelen. I traced the bubbles to their source, a man named Bart who was making them from his second-story window and then taking pictures of his creations as they floated away into the faded blue sky.

We had a nice chat and at one point he asked me: 

"Do you have a tripod?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Ya ever take pictures of fire?"

"No," I said, laughing.

"Ah man, we gotta do that!" he said. 

…maybe a future project!


Smile when you say Taxes

Here’s a new term they didn’t teach us in Economics class:

'Reverse Robin-Hoodism' - the belief that economic success depends on being nice to the rich, who won’t create jobs if they are heavily taxed, and nasty to ordinary workers, who won’t accept jobs unless they have no alternative.

This comes from this great NYT article by Paul Krugman, in which he argues that adults in their prime working years (25 to 54) across Northern Europe are much more likely to have jobs than their U.S. counterparts.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Europe’s new poster children

Quirky Belgium

The Travelled Monkey - Europe's new poster children

Woman carrying a child past a wall designated for campaign posters. Belgians go to the polls this Sunday to vote in federal and European elections, in which anti-immigrant and anti-European Union far-right parties are expected to make gains. Photos by John Weaver

“Uw stok achter de deur,” or “Your stick behind the door,” goes the campaign slogan of the Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang. Replace the word “stick” with “baseball bat” and you have a pretty good idea of what the party stands for – protecting their property (read: Flanders) from intruders (read: foreigners) using the blunt instrument of populist rhetoric.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mr. Accordion

Pic of the week

The Travelled Monkey - Mr. Accordion
Photo by John Weaver

Mr. Accordion sat down 

to put on new socks. 

Black, clean

Saturday, May 10, 2014

From Mexico to flamenco


The Travelled Monkey
Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico Photo by unknown 

I don’t know who took this picture, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head all week. Whoever you are, I’d like to thank you – and thank my Mexican host-brother’s wife Nury for posting it on Facebook – because it brought back a tidal wave of happy memories and forever-lasting emotions from my time as a high school exchange student on that island – Ciudad del Carmen.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Diversity's many faces

Quirky Belgium

The Travelled Monkey - Diversity's many faces
This year Mechelen celebrates 50 years of diversity. Various (multi-)cultural events are being staged around the town, including this collage on the post office. It is part of the FACE-IT project, depicting over 120 people from different origins that call Mechelen home. Photo by John Weaver

Today, half of all the children in Mechelen that are 11 years old and younger come from an immigrant background. That means either themselves, their parents, or their grandparents were born in another country. With 128 different nationalities represented in this town of about 82,000, it’s worth asking what that means for one’s identity?