German Of The Day: Aneinander vorbeireden

That means to talk at cross purposes. In this case when German politicians use the same word in different ways – gehören (meaning both to belong to and ought to belong to).


In an interview with the German newspaper BILD Seehofer said: “Islam is not a part of Germany. Germany has been influenced by Christianity. This includes free Sundays, church holidays and rituals such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. However, the Muslims living in Germany obviously do belong to Germany.”

This statement conflicted with the position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel said, even though Germany has been influenced mainly by Christianity and Judaism, there are more than four million Muslims in the country, they “belong to Germany and so does their religion.”

Hey, depending upon how you look at it, Germany does not belong to Germany. Neither does Christianity belong to Germany. Let’s not even start with Judaism. So I think Horst Seehofer is right on the money when he says that Islam does not belong to Germany, either. What’s the big deal? We’re all not in this together, folks.

Da muss man schon präzise sagen, was mit dem Ausdruck “gehört” eigentlich gemeint sein soll. Das kann man ja als schlichte Bestandsaufnahme oder Feststellung meinen: Man gehört zu einer bestimmten Familie oder einem Verein an. Man kann es aber auch so verstehen wie bei der Formulierung: Kinder gehören zeitig ins Bett. Dann bekommt die Aussage eine Sollens-Komponente und erhält eine ganz andere Bedeutung. Und drittens könnte die Frage angesprochen sein, ob der Islam die Bundesrepublik Deutschland in ähnlicher Weise geprägt hat wie das Christentum. Je nachdem, mit welchem Akzent man das Wort “gehört” verwendet, bekommt dieser Satz einen anderen Sinn. Diese Unterschiede werden in der politischen Diskussion leider nicht beachtet, und deswegen redet man munter aneinander vorbei. Das ist vorhersehbar und langweilig.


German Of The Day: Verliererin

That means loser. In feminine form.


A German federal court has rejected a customer’s demand for her bank to include the feminine form of words such as “account holder” on official forms.

The Federal Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that plaintiff Marlies Kraemer hadn’t suffered any discrimination under German law from her bank’s use of the “generic masculine” on forms, a common practice. The German language adds a suffix to turn nouns into feminine form. In the case of account holder, “Kontoinhaber” becomes “Kontoinhaberin.”

Kundin bleibt Kunde: Klägerin unterliegt im Formularstreit.

And The Message From 1886 Read…

“Is Merkel still chancellor?”


Message in a bottle tossed into the ocean in 1886 discovered on remote Australia beach.

“Incredibly, an archival search in Germany found Paula’s original meteorological journal and there was an entry for June 12 1886 made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard. The date and the coordinates correspond exactly with those on the bottle message.”

Nachdem die Finderin die Flasche dem Western Australian Museum überlassen hat, wird sie dort von Donnerstag an zu besichtigen sein. Mit 132 Jahren gilt sie als die älteste Flaschenpost-Sendung der Welt. Laut Guinness-Buch lag der bisherige Altersrekord einer Flaschenpost bei etwas mehr als 108 Jahren.


“Muttiland” Does Have A Nicer Ring To It

But not even Mutti wants to remove Vaterland (fatherland) from the German national anthem. And if Mutti don’t want it, ain’t nothing going to happen. “Equality czar” or not.


Equality czar? What is that? Why don’t they introduce a common sense czar instead? They could call him the sense czar. And he could get rid of all this nonsensical sense-czar-ship going around here these days.

Germany’s equality czar wants to remove words like“fatherland” and “brotherly” from the country’s national anthem, following Canada and Austria in adopting gender neutral phrases.

Kristin Rose-Moehring, equality commissioner since 2001, made the proposal to strike male-specific references from the anthem in a letter to staff at Germany’s family ministry ahead of International Women’s Day, German media reported on Sunday.

Ahead of Women’s Day? How you figure? Every day is Women’s Day over here.

Die Kanzlerin sehe “keinen Bedarf einer Änderung.”

PS: I’m going to ask this woman to look into “mother nature” while she’s at it. It irks the hell out of me every time I hear somebody use that term. The nerve. Person nature will do just fine, thank you.


Acute Threat Now Just A Cute Threat

A senior German politician has confirmed today that hackers have been able to collect confidential information from Germany’s government network.


He quickly stressed, however, that this information was expressly labeled confidential and he is therefore quite confident that the hackers won’t read it.

“Confidential means in confidence, after all,” he said. “So when one indicates confidentiality it imparts that this information is a private, even a secret matter. Intimate even, although we certainly don’t have any of that kind of material in our network. Strictly forbidden, you know. So why would one who is not in confidence read confidential information? Would you? Of course not. I wouldn’t, either. I just wouldn’t have the confidence to do so. Well, it’s been a long week everybody. Have a nicer weekend!”

According to reports in German media, the hackers focused their attack on the foreign ministry, which in the view of some lawmakers would suggest a foreign intelligence agency as the orchestrator of the hacking operation.


More Redistribution Needed

Or that’s what this article seems to suggest.


And this in a country that has already been redistributing the wealth for decades and decades or longer.

When it comes to the superrich, however, there are relatively reliable estimates in the form of lists of the world’s wealthiest people, with the one compiled by the US business magazine Forbes leading the way. A similar list is compiled in Germany by manager magazin. A team of tax experts led by Stefan Bach of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) has examined the wealth statistics compiled by the ECB and augmented them with lists identifying the ultrarich. And the team did so for three countries: Germany, France and Spain.

The result: The 45 richest households in Germany own as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. Each group possessed a total of 214 billion euros in assets in 2014.

Bad superrich! Bad!

Why would more redistribution be necessary in a country like Germany? Maybe because it doesn’t work. It can’t work, in fact. It is not, nor has it ever been, a zero sum game, this wealth business. Here or anywhere else. But it’s a great way for redistributing politicians to get elected. Again and again and again. To no avail.

“Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.”


Germans Can’t Live Without Facebook

Or at least that’s the impression I get. Otherwise, if they were so terribly worried about what Facebook does with their data, they would simply stop using it. It’s still a “free” service, right? But, of course, nothing is ever for free.


Facebook is open about collecting a broad variety of personal information, from facial recognition data to, yes, “likes” on other sites. Privacy-minded people can easily find out what Facebook knows about them and even download the data. So it’s not as if users were deceptively kept in the dark about Facebook’s harvesting of “21st century raw materials.” That, however, is not the Federal Cartel Office’s main concern; it’s that Facebook, as a company dominant in its market, forces users to agree to these harvesting practices: They don’t really have any place else to go for their digital social needs if they feel uncomfortable about how their data are used. If it’s a choice “between accepting ‘the whole Facebook package,’ including an extensive disclosure of personal data, or not using Facebook at all,” as the regulator put it in a December document, and if Facebook is a dominant company, it’s illegal in Germany.

The regulatory attack on personal data harvesting is based on the unproven assumption that the data are valuable.


German Of The Day: Fremdschämen

That means “external shame.” Second-hand embarrassment, that is, or feeling embarrassment for somebody else – especially when that somebody else is clearly somebody else who knows no shame. Like Gazprom Gerd (SPD), for instance.


Now we can cringe at him being in love with what will most likely be his fifth wife and read all about it in the Bunte even though there is no force in the universe that can make me do that but still.

“Wo Schröder inzwischen privat Pipelines verlegt, wissen wir seit September… Der Altkanzler und seine koreanische Freundin Soyeon Kim zeigen uns ihr großes Glück und verraten, wie sie ihre Zukunft planen. Wird sie seine 5. Ehefrau?”


Going, Going…



Here’s another one of those well-intentioned-do-gooder-mandates-from-above-meeting-reality kind of things. Why is it that reality is always popping up its ugly little head all the time, anyway?

The two parties likely to form the next coalition government in Germany have agreed to give up on the country’s climate targets for 2020. The goal was to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels. In 2016, Germany’s had only reduced emissions by 28% versus the baseline (pdf), so the plan is now unrealistic.

There are two ways to interpret the announcement.

A charitable response would be that the news isn’t a surprise. Although Germany has made heavy investments in renewable energy, it has also been shuttering zero-carbon nuclear power plants since 2011. Giving up on the 2020 climate goals makes sense, especially if the coalition maintains the 2030 target of a 55% emissions reduction versus 1990 levels.

A harsher response would be that the news is devastating. “This damages the credibility of Germany but it also damages the whole international climate process,” Tobias Austrup, an energy expert at Greenpeace told the Financial Times. “Why should other countries stick to their climate goals if we don’t?”


Food For Thought Police

“Please spare us the thought police!” read a headline in Wednesday’s Bildzeitung.


As recently reported, the latest German censorship craze (exemplified by the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz or “Internet Enforcement Law”) is already being abused by those who would make us think what we are told. This type of thing never takes very long, of course. I read this in a book in high school once long, long ago in a galaxy far away. It was called 1984 or something. The book, I mean.

Anyway, this law… meant to curtail hate speech on social media in Germany is stifling free speech and making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted. The law which took effect on Jan. 1 can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly. Twitter has deleted anti-Muslim and anti-migrant posts by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and blocked a satirical account that parodied Islamophobia.

But the case I really like is this one here: A German thought criminal had the audacity to criticize Germany’s reticence to support the protests in Iran and write “one could get the impression that Germany has become an unbelievably cowardly nation” in Facebook. This horrid example of hate speech was enough to get the user promptly blocked.

The outrage about this outrage about the other outrage (I’m running out of outrages) among the German population also remains rather reticent, to say the least. But they are law-abiding citizens, after all. The Germans. They don’t want to commit any thought crime or anything.

Einer der beiden Fälle betrifft Irina Schlegel (33), die Chefredakteurin des Kreml-kritischen Recherchemagazins „InformNapalmDeutsch“. Sie schrieb am 1. Januar im Zusammenhang mit der deutschen Zurückhaltung zu den Protesten im Iran: „Man bekommt den Eindruck, Deutsche sind eine unglaublich feige Nation geworden“. Zwei Tage später löschte Facebook den Post und sperrte die Verfasserin für drei Tage.