Artificially Intelligent, Maybe

But is it smart?

Technical progress by decree?

AI

Germany is often criticized for sluggish levels of digital investment, particularly in AI. The government wants to invest €3 billion before 2025 to try and close the knowledge gap with world leaders in the field.

Germans are smart, of course, but they can’t even spell AI properly. They call it KI. Ridiculous. And when you look at the amount being invested, well, maybe they’re not all that good at math anymore, either.

“This amount is much less than companies, such as Microsoft or Google, invest in AI in a single year. So people should not think that Germany will suddenly become a world leader in the field, able to compete with the US and China.”

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Your Tax Euros In Action

You know the drill. These studies are routinely published (in this case by the German Federation of Taxpayers) demonstrating how tax money is burned by the government.

U-Boot

There were some real beauties in this report, too. But my personal favorite is the Case of the Squandered Submarines. The German navy has these six way cool new fuel cell driven submarines that set the German taxpayer back three billion euros. The only problem here is that none of them are currently operational and have spent most of their time dry-docked. Additionally, there are only three submarine commanders available to command these vessels. One of these subs has only been deployed once – in thirteen years. Wow. With a navy like this who needs an enemy?

And I’m sure the next tax increase is already in the works.

Die sechs U-Boote der deutschen Marine mit Brennstoffzellenantrieb gehören zum Modernsten, was die Nato in diesem Bereich zu bieten hat. Drei Milliarden Euro kosteten sie. Das Problem: Laut Schwarzbuch ist keines dieser U-Boote derzeit tatsächlich einsatzbereit.

To Rival Silicon Valley?

Good luck with that. Honest. It’s great that big industry finally wants to pump some money into Berlin again but keep your pants on already, Siemens.

Siemensstadt

The German engineering giant has unveiled plans to build a huge innovation campus in Berlin, harking back to its early days in the German capital and aiming to rival Silicon Valley in the United States.

Investment in a new campus to be called Siemensstadt 2.0 (Siemens City 2.0) will come in at €600 million ($680 million) on offices and residential accommodation, as well as laboratories and production plants, according to an agreement signed by Berlin Mayor Michael Müller and Siemens executive member Cedrik Neike on Wednesday.

The plan is to transform the historic Siemens site in Berlin-Spandau into a location for research and startup centers by 2030.

Der Weltkonzern baut in Berlin für 600 Millionen Euro seinen Zukunfts-Campus. Mit 2000 Wohnungen, Forschungslabors, Geschäften, Schulen und eigenem S-Bahn-Anschluss

German Of The Day: Vorsitz

That means chair (of a company). Or chairman. Or chairwoman in this case.

Vorsitz

And chairwoman of the CDU is what Angela Merkel now no longer wants to be.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Monday took her first concrete steps to move away from political life, saying she would give up leadership of her conservative party while vowing to finish out her term as chancellor until 2021.

Ms. Merkel made her announcement, in a meeting of conservative leaders, after two disastrous results in regional elections that saw her party and its allies slump to near-record lows.

“Zeit, ein neues Kapitel aufzuschlagen.”

They Still Don’t Feel Anything

They’re still numb. And if they’re honest, they’ll admit it. Germany’s Willkommenskultur has always been a myth.

Feel

We asked Germans what they really felt after Angela Merkel opened the borders to refugees in 2015.

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to keep her country’s borders open and give shelter to hundreds of thousands of refugees was praised by commentators and leaders around the world. Her decision was also approved of by thousands of German citizens who welcomed refugees and provided clothes, food, and other support.

The term welcome culture, or Willkommenskultur, was frequently used in political debates and the media to describe the events of autumn 2015.

But a year later, the picture had changed dramatically. By the end of 2016, the public debate had shifted to focus on the so-called refugee crisis, or Flüchtlingskrise, alongside the religion of refugees and migrants, and limits to Germany’s capacity to integrate them. The change of perspective was reflected in discussions about upper limits – Obergrenzen — of the numbers of refugees that should be allowed to enter the country.

Our recently published research suggests that welcome culture has never been as widely embedded in German society as public debates in 2015 would make us believe.

Despair Is In The Air

But there ain’t nothing new about it.

Despair

Germany’s New Politics of Cultural Despair – The Authoritarian Revolt: The New Right and the Decline of the West (a book by Volker Weiss).

Nothing against new takes about how the West is in decline (again? still?) but the West has been in decline for as long as anyone alive can remember, not to mention for as long as a whole bunch of folks who are no longer with us could.

Take Oswald Spengler and his The Decline of the West, for instance – from 1922! Nothing against declination, folks, but how much longer is this decline of the West going to last? As a wise man once said: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

In modern times, fears of social change and spiritual impoverishment can always tempt the malcontented to imagine that the present is an interregnum destined to yield to a new age of faith and wholeness.

The Two-Party Is Over?

And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of folks. Or Volk, if you prefer.

SPD

The German Social Democrats’ (SPD) existential crisis can no longer be treated as a typical party crisis. The party captured a mere 9.7% of the vote in regional elections in Bavaria this month, and it is trailing both the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the Greens in national opinion polls. With another important regional election fast approaching in Hesse, polls indicate that the SPD will lose still more support, albeit not as dramatically as in Bavaria…

Most likely, the fall of the CDU/CSU-SPD duopoly will undermine German hegemony in Europe, even if no other country can replace Germany in that role. At the same time, the weakening of the SPD will diminish the socialist faction in the European Parliament, where a similar eclipse of two-party rule could be in the offing. Yet without the twin pillars of the European People’s Party and the Party of European Socialists, the parliament will be incapable of making even insignificant decisions. As Germany and the SPD go, so goes Europe.

Not Bad

The polling predictions made before the Bavarian election yesterday, I mean.

Polls

Whether the actual results are bad or not depends entirely upon your point of view.

The CSU’s drop was not quite as bad as predicted (although they will no longer be able to govern without a coalition partner), the SPD’s drop was breathtaking (the worst regional election result in their history) and the AfD did not get the votes that many had feared they would. This was probably due to the success of the regional “Free Voters” party (CSU-light) that will now most likely be the CSU’s coalition partner. The free market-friendly FDP just got in by the skin of their teeth with 5.1 percent of the vote (5 percent minimum needed). The Left didn’t make it in, as usual. The Greens made a huge leap forward but who cares? This is Bavaria and they don’t go for this utopian stuff so they’ll make a fine opposition party which is where they belong.

So it looks like Angie Merkel will live to resign another day, as usual.

Die CSU hat die absolute Mehrheit in Bayern verloren, sie kommt nach dem vorläufigen Endergebnis nur noch auf 37,2 Prozent. Die SPD erlebt ein Debakel. Wahlgewinner sind die Grünen, die Freien Wähler und die AfD.

Der Spiegel Analyzes The “Kavanaugh Disaster”

As only Der Spiegel can. And oddly, they almost got it right.

Kavanaugh

For one thing, they were honest enough to admit that it was a disaster – for them, of course – because “the President and the Republicans achieved a great victory.” And then they continue  on with their five-point explanation of why this is such an awful, terrible and unspeakably bad thing.

1. Trumpism reigns. They got that right, too.

2. The Kavanaugh nomination was a farce. They almost got that right. The nomination itself wasn’t a farce, of course, but the freak show that accompanied it most certainly was.

3. Consensus culture is a foreign word. Absolutely correct. Take Germany, for instance, where they call it Konsenskultur. Every German knows that there is no consensus when it comes to Angela Merkel’s migrant madness meltdown, for example, but the difference between Germany and US-Amerika here is that the Germans behave as if there is. Germans normally being the all too direct ones, it is the Americans this time who make no qualms about how divided they are in Trump America.

4. There are no clear rules for dealing with accusations. Not true. Making false accusations, like the ones made against Kavanaugh here, is against the law. American laws allow those falsely accused of a crime to pursue a course of action in court, generally based on defamation of character. And this, I believe, needs to be done here.

5. The Supreme Court is now in a real mess. Well, they got the mess part right, I guess. But the Supreme Court mess is now in the process of being cleaned up, although there is certainly still quite a bit of work yet to do.

All in all, a solid job, Spiegel journalists. I’ll give you a seven for your five points this time. Keep the change.

Mit der Wahl von Donald Trumps Kandidaten Brett Kavanaugh zum Richter auf Lebenszeit am Supreme Court haben der US-Präsident und die Republikaner einen großen Erfolg errungen.

German Of The Day: Sitzfleisch (vs. Aussitzen)

Take Angela Merkel. Please.

Merkel

To have Sitzfleisch (sitting meat) means, on the one hand, to be able to sit still for the long periods of time required to be truly productive; it means the stamina to work through a difficult situation and see a project through to the end. On the other hand, it can also refer to someone who doesn’t know when to leave. You know, like the guest who won’t go home or the chancellor who won’t go home, either?

Aussitzen (sitting something out), however, is to deal with a difficult situation or crisis by not doing anything about it. That is, to just wait it out until it finally goes away – or until the person waiting it out claims that it has gone away. You know, what Angela Merkel and other politicians like her regularly do?

“German condenses what would take about seven or eight words in English into one particular word. The humour comes from the density of the word and the fact that it expresses something in such condensed form that we can’t get anywhere near.”