Republic of Pontus map

Countries That Almost Existed

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand proposed dividing up Belgium between France, Germany and the Netherlands. Heinrich Himmler fantasized about crowning himself regent of an independent Burgundy. The Allies in World War II had multiple plans for Balkan federation. Iraq and Libya both pushed plans for Arab unification.

The only things these schemes have in common is that nothing came of them. Belgium still exists. Burgundy doesn’t. The Balkans and the Arab world are even more divided.

What if history had taken a different turn? Here is a look at the countries that almost existed.

Continue reading “Countries That Almost Existed”
1955 nuclear weapons test

World War III Without Missiles

Most World War III scenarios start with a Soviet first strike, but it were the Western Allies who first planned to use nuclear weapons in Europe to offset the Red Army’s numerical superiority.

From Britain’s Operation Unthinkable to America’s Operation Dropshot, these war planes help us imagine a land war in Europe fought only partially with atomic weapons.

When technology progressed in the 1960s — more and bigger atomic bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles — NATO moved away from integrating nuclear weapons in its war planes. It envisaged either a conventional land war or mutually assured destruction with nothing in between.

The Soviets moved in the opposite direction. Joseph Stalin saw little use for nuclear weapons, but the West’s technological edge compelled his successors to integrate them more seriously in their offensive plans. It wasn’t until the 1980s that both sides abandoned the tactical use of nuclear weapons.

Continue reading “World War III Without Missiles”
The Great Gatsby show

Be Part of Gatsby’s Entourage for a Night

The Great Gatsby Belgium, an immersive play, has premièred at a secret location. Currently running in Dutch and French, soon the London cast will travel down to Brussels to perform the original English version here as well.

As we mentioned in our preview of the show, The Great Gatsby is nothing like you’re used to. People aren’t taking their seats in a theater and watching what happens on the stage. Here you are literally part of the play. Actors will interact with you, you might be asked to follow them into another room, alone or with a small group of people. You might become the focal point of a scene.

Continue reading “Be Part of Gatsby’s Entourage for a Night”
Comic Comic Brussels Belgium

Steampunk at Comic Con Brussels

Last weekend, it was time for Comic Con Brussels in its traditional venue, Tour & Taxis. The event has in recent years become Belgium’s largest and most popular pop culture convention, and the dense crowd of this edition proved it.

Regardless of the masses of people, it was great fun, and, just like always, quite a few steampunks had flocked to it. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy.

Continue reading “Steampunk at Comic Con Brussels”
Casa Amatller Casa Batlló Barcelona Spain

Modernista Architecture in Barcelona

Modernisme is the Catalan version of Art Nouveau. Its popularity coincided with the late-nineteenth-century expansion of Barcelona, which more than doubled the city in size. Walk around the Eixample district, which rings the historical city center, and you’ll find countless examples of this organic architectural style that is rich in decoration and incorporates Arab and Gothic elements.

Some, like Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Família and Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s Hospital de Sant Pau, are well known. Others you would probably pass by if you didn’t know where to look.

What follows is only a selection. The best way to explore Barcelona’s Modernista architecture is to take a day to roam Eixample and give yourself time to gaze at the many beautiful buildings here.

Continue reading “Modernista Architecture in Barcelona”