Monday, June 30, 2014

5 Reasons to Hate: Belgium

The US made it through the group stage in consecutive World Cups for the first time ever. They disposed of their arch-nemesis Ghana, got a point against Portugal and held the efficient Germans to just one goal. Thanks to a Portugal victory over Ghana (I never would've guessed I would have celebrated a Christiano Ronaldo goal that much), the US is moving on. In isolation, being able to advance out of a group that featured Germany, Portugal and Ghana is an accomplishment in and of itself. Doing so without striker Jozy Altidore for the majority of the time is incredible. Now it's on to the knockout stage against Belgium who has gotten off to slow starts in each of their three group games. The Belgians have yet to score a goal in the first 70 minutes of a game. After conceding an early penalty kick to Algeria, Belgium trailed for 45 minutes before equalizing in the 70th minute and taking the lead in the 80th minute. Against Russia, it took until the 88th minute for Belgium to score and they managed a goal in the 78th minute while playing with 10 men against South Korea. As we have seen so far in the knockout stage, games are never over until the final whistle, as Mexico and Costa Rica have both conceded goals in stoppage time. The Belgians are late finishers so the US will need to play a complete game. But let's be honest, you didn't come here to read about what the US needs to do.

If you want legitimate previews of the US side, you should be reading:
When you think about Belgium, the first thing you probably think of is Belgian Waffles, which do not suck. Waffles aside, there are plenty of reasons that Belgium does suck. Here are five.

5. Brussel Sprouts

Literally the worst food ever came from Belgium and is named after the Capital of Belgium. Isn't that enough?

4. The Big Bang Theory

Monsignor Georges Lemaitre was a Belgian Catholic priest who applied Einstein's theory of relativity to Cosmology. Of course, from talking with most people who "F***ing Love Science" you'd never know that the Theory of Expansion of the Universe and the Big Bang Theory were developed by a Catholic priest.

The saddest part of all of this isn't the fact that people don't know where The Big Bang Theory came from, but that people now more readily associate the term with a TV show instead of the actual scientific concept.

Basically what it boils down to is that through the transitive property, Belgium is responsible for this:

3. Disproportionate Flag

Congratulations, you are a sovereign nation. Unless you are Nepal, your flag is a square. Nepal gets a pass because their flag needs to be more aerodynamic in order to withstand the winds of the Himalayas. Switzerland and Vatican City have perfectly square flags. Most countries in the world have rectangular flags that are either at a 2:3 proportion or 1:2 proportion. Belgium just couldn't make up their mind. Their official flag proportions are 13:15 which is not quite a perfect square but also barely a rectangle. Their civil, state and naval flags are all 2:3 but they just had to go and be ridiculous with their national flag.
National Flag Proportions:

Civil Flag Proportions:

2. The Horror, The Horror

Is that actually what Colonel Kurtz said? We may never know. What we do know is that Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, which pretty much everyone read in high school, was set in the Belgian Congo. Belgium's rulership over the Congo started under King Leopold II. Leopold turned the Belgian Congo (which is now primarily the Democratic Republic of the Congo) into his personal fiefdom, because being King of Belgium obviously wasn't enough. The indigenous peoples were put to work as slaves in mining copper and on rubber plantations. By some estimates, the native population of the Congo was halved because of Belgian rule.
Conrad's book gave a glimpse of some of the conditions deep within central Africa under Belgian rule, which Conrad had experienced personally as part of a Belgian trading company traversing the Congo River in 1890. According to the United Nations' Human Development Index, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ranks last in the world. Belgium is pretty much the reason that things in Central Africa suck so bad.
Michael Crichton's Congo was also set in the former Belgian Congo, and things sucked pretty bad there too. "Belgians in the Congo" is also featured in one of the worst songs of all time:

1. Beer Monopoly

I know what you're thinking. "But Belgian beer is pretty good!" For the most part, you're right. But did you know that a Belgian company is actually responsible for a lot of the crap that is brewed as well? Actually, it's even worse than a Belgian company. It's a Belgian company that bought out an American company. In 1987, the two largest breweries in Belgium merged for form Interbrew. Interbrew merged with AmBev (which was formed from the merger of two large Brazilian brewers) in 2004 to form InBev. Finally, in 2008, InBev acquired (or "merged with" depending on the terminology you want to use) Anheuser-Busch.
That means that every time you drink the Official Beer of the World Cup, you're actually supporting a Belgian company. The Anheuser-Busch/InBev corporation accounts for the Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Beck's, Hoegaarden, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Labatt, Natural Ice, and many other brands of beer across the globe. They also own distribution rights to Bacardi and Monster Energy drinks. So in conclusion, even though it's the official beer of the World Cup, you should probably boycott Budweiser, Bacardi, Labatt, and Natty Ice during Tuesday's game. Unless you want to support Belgium.
For Pittsburghers, this hits especially close to home because it was Anheuser-Busch that ceased production of Rolling Rock beer in Latrobe after acquiring the brand in 2006. This was before Anheuser-Busch's merger with InBev, but it should not be overlooked that drinking Bud or Rolling Rock is supporting the company that stopped brewing beer in Latrobe and supporting Belgium. Basically, if you drink one of these beers during the game, you hate America.

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