Altruism wherever you look

I like this guy’s attitude, I think.

“As a student studying in Berlin for the year, I’m fighting that tired stereotype Europeans hold of the United States of America: that Americans are heartless and lack compassion. They point to our cutthroat capitalist system as well as our failure to guarantee a more equitable distribution of our nation’s wealth. They also bring up the disregard we show for the natural environment. One even mentioned our propensity to resort to violence, both domestically with our high incidence of gun-related crimes and internationally with our notion of foreign intervention.

But this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth…” He then goes on to explain how Americans are actually quite generous and altruistic.

“I give back to the people by drinking beer from liquor stores. Hear me out: In Berlin, you can return beer bottles and other glass products to a recycling center and receive some money in return for your effort. As soon as I heard that, my whole outlook changed – from that point forward, it was all about the homeless for me. With the knowledge that homeless people could derive a livelihood from my drinking, I stopped my selfish habit of simply placing my empty bottles in the trash can; I now prefer flinging them into bushes that homeless people must eventually sleep in, or setting them down right after I chug them on street corners, in order to save them some searching.”

“Sometimes I’ll be seized with such a fit of compassion that I will drink way more than is physically healthy.”

PS: I’m taking my sabbatical year now, for a few weeks. It’s time for a Schaffenspause (creative break). And no, it has nothing at all to do with those last few posts of mine. Enfach so. See you soon or something.

Warmer, warmer…

No, not really. German-American relations at the top, I mean. Angie’s visit to Washington this week will only be another reminder of how Washington and Berlin don’t see the big issues eye to eye, or the ways to combat them – not even now (or especially now) that Mr. Good Guy (Mr. Right?) Himself is in office. What is more, Washington seems less and less inclined these days to even care about what Germans have to think about it.

Angie in Wunderland.

It’s family history in the end, I suppose. Especially when it comes to how the two countries are tackling the financial crisis. Germans, cautious as ever, are being as cautious as ever. Americans, behaving as if their backs are up against the wall, are less so.

“Archaic fears, combined with the memories of two different years, are at the root of the two countries’ fundamentally different positions on the purpose and tools of monetary policy. The Americans remember the 1929 global economic crisis with horror. For them, there is nothing worse than a shrinking economy, which they see as the epitome of hunger, hardship and ruin. The Germans, on the other hand, think of 1923, when hyperinflation destroyed assets and plunged many into poverty.”

Good that history never repeats itself, right?

“In the new world order, Europe is looking increasingly irrelevant for the US.”

Speaking of stealth technology…

How about some way cool NSA-like spy equipment to help Iran’s mullah regime identify, locate and crackdown on Iranian Internet users? It’s German equipment by the way, or at least in part.

Siemens calling.

Joint venture Nokia Siemens Networks installed monitoring equipment in Iran’s “Telecommunication Infrastructure Co.” government-controlled telecom network a few months back, you see. And now Iranian government spook types have switched on the technology’s full capabilities and are using it to hunt down those who would not do as they are told – that handful of nasty opposition types that won’t go away and is turning out to be more of a handful than the handful calling the shots expected.

This gives the slogan “connecting people” a whole new meaning. But don’t let this type of thing bother you, Germany (I know, it isn’t and it won’t). Business is business, especially when it’s German business. German business is always business for peace and Entspannung (easing of tension) and international understanding and all that.

It just remains to be seen how much easing of tension this easing of tension business will be easing in the coming days and weeks and, well, however long it takes to come.

„Iran hat von „Tätern“ eine ganz eigene Vorstellung – und hat angeblich mit Hilfe von Nokia Siemens Networks mittlerweile eines der weltweit ausgeklügelsten Systeme zur Kontrolle und Zensur des Internets entwickelt.“

German subs to help thwart latest Taliban offensive

Or why else would Germany be selling such highly expensive weapons systems to one of everybody’s favorite nuclear-armed states?

The Taliban will never know what didn't hit them.

That’s right, after Chancellor Merkel’s government quietly gives its OK to the sale of three Class 214 submarines to Pakistan during the visit of a Pakistani delegation in Berlin today, Pakistan will become the first nation in maritime history to use these deadly underwater weapons against Islamist radicals in the mountainous border region between Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

When asked how on earth a submarine could possibly be of any use in the rocky reaches of South Waziristan, a German military expert who refused to identify himself smugly replied “These are German submarines. They’re that good.”

“The money would be better spent on equipping and training its land forces to combat terrorist insurgents.”

Tempelhof Love Parade

Tempelhof Love Parade

Only without the parade and the love part.

Hey, stop clowning around!

Nobody quite sure just why yet, a bunch of crazy Autonome (lefty anarchist types) attempted to take over the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin yesterday (I think it had something to do with capitalism or exploitation or land speculation or something – or maybe McDonalds?).

And nobody quite sure just why yet either, the Berlin police did something completely out of character for once and actually stopped them.

“Das Gelände gehört uns!”

Where was this stuff when we needed it?

Sure we still do, but still. Talk about a product that’s going to sell like hotcakes. A Munich research team has come up with a new drug which will combat panic attacks. It’s called XBD173 and stands for “eXtremely Beneficial Drug after 173 tries”, I think. Or maybe it means “eXtremely Buzzed Doctors after 173 tries”, hard to say for sure. Or how about “eXcellent Bitchin’ Dope, Dude”? Nah, that’s with two Ds.

Angst is gonna gettcha!

Anyways, this stuff will supposedly take care of your panic attacks in no time (and don’t pretend like you don’t have any because we all know you do). It messes with nerve cell receptors, should you still have any, and prevents them from passing on critical Angst chemicals to other nerve cell receptors long dependent on the stuff, should you still have them, too (Angst is German for angst, by the way). Sure everybody will be going through a little cold turkey for a while. But this is science. So shut up and bite the bullet already.

Unfortunately though, it may take another ten years to get this product on the market. And that could be too late for some of us, like me. And just thinking about that puts me in a panic already.

„Die Pharmaindustrie unterstütze die Entwicklung.“

PS: Have you ever noticed that we live in an angst-driven economy/culture/world/life? This drug may not be a good thing after all, in other words. My suspicion: The usual suspect dark forces are actually behind this development. Think about it (OK, stop now you’ve thought about it enough). Maybe we should just say no…

Flashmob this!

Stübi only meant well. Well, maybe he didn’t mean well. Maybe he was just being a prick, but still. Kids will be kids or something.

Jeez, the beach stinks today.

After losing his job and his girlfriend, this guy in Hamburg (his friends call him Stübi) organized one of those newfangled impromptu flashmob get together thangs – on the German resort island of Sylt (just a couple hours up north by train). How should I put it? Some 5000 friends showed up.

Needless to say, folks on Sylt don’t flashmob. They just rake in the money from all the regular and über-regular folks who come to their rather overpriced island to vacation. They expect the appropriate attire and behavior and money, of course. The el cheapo student/backpack/beach tent types should stay down home in Hamburg or Berlin or wherever the hell it is they belong and take a long walk in the park or go to one of those artificial beach thingies instead.

Now everybody on Sylt is pissed off that this wild hoard of drunken punks could somehow have managed to breach their sandy island castle walls and wreak (reek?) havoc among their otherwise so peaceful and well-behaved guests. They want to sue Stübi, in other words, maybe the whole crew, damn it. But sue all 5000 of them? Hey, wait a minute. This could be a new source of revenue the Sylters hadn’t thought to tap into yet…

“Alle Mann zum Verwaltungsgericht, wir gewinnen den Prozess”.

More beer rations!

Soldiers like to bitch, I guess. But German soldiers seem to be pushing it a bit these days. Or at least that’s the impression their boss seems to have of them.

Good moaning.

“We cannot guarantee soldiers that they will have an all-round feel-good experience,” Germany’s most senior officer General Wolfgang Schneiderhan has said about the German moaning when it comes to tours abroad.

No, they may not be able to guarantee it, but if you read about the unbearable conditions these guys have to live under “down there” in Afghanistan, for instance, it comes pretty close. Unbearable to read, I mean.

“We have to tell a professional soldier who complains about his third tour of overseas duty that he has to get a grip — this is his profession.”

Buy German – or Czech if you prefer

So much for my theory about this being a German car subsidy conspiracy plan. What a lemon, this German Abwrackprämie or cash-for-clunkers idea has turned out to be. If you work in the German car industry, that is.

Buy-a-wreck?

The government stepped in as usual and helped everybody again and no force in the universe could stop them, as usual again. But this time it was the German government helping out the Czechs, unintentionally of course. I know this sounds complicated at first but that’s only because it actually isn’t.

Since Berlin has been shelling out 2,500 euros to anybody who trades in his or her old wreck for a new one, I mean a new car, Skoda’s production plants have been at full production, if you get my drift. Hyundai, Renault and other foreign plants have been profiting from the handout, too.

Hey, the government meant well. They always do. Now if one could only find out how to stop them from helping maybe things might finally start moving forward here.

“Since the end of March, we are in full production — five days a week, on three shifts.”

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