Germany’s Fateful Day and America’s Day of Destiny

lahikmajoe:

Spent most of the weekend reading a seemingly endless number of articles in both German and English about the fall of the Berlin Wall a quarter of a century ago today.

While I might still write about it after digesting the data, here’s what Michael Owens had to say.

Originally posted on Laptops and Lederhosen:

November 9th, 1989. The latest example of Germany's 'Fateful Day'.

November 9th, 1989. The latest example of Germany’s ‘Fateful Day’.

In the United States, July 4th is a day of celebration, and in many ways it reaffirms America’s belief in its destiny, especially ‘Manifest Destiny’. In Germany, if there is a day that is similar to America’s July 4th, it would be 9 November. It is the day that the Wall separating the two Germanies came down, and from the ruins a stronger, united Germany rose. In a scant 25 years since the fall of the Wall, that one Germany has become the undisputed leader of Europe. But whereas America’s July 4th is a ‘Day of Destiny’, and has only positive connotations, Germany’s November 9th is a “Schicksaltag’, or Fateful Day, and though the recent celebrations have given most Germans a time to reflect, and for many, an opportunity to celebrate their good fortune, November 9th is not…

View original 1,338 more words

Germans and Bavarians LOVE a Little Chaos

lahikmajoe:

Good stuff.
While I wouldn’t explain these things in exactly this way, I’ve certainly noticed the same things.

Originally posted on Laptops and Lederhosen:

Nymphenburg Palace, Munich, Bavaria, not a stone out of place. Not one single stone.

Nymphenburg Palace, Munich, Bavaria, not a stone out of place. Not one single stone.

The Germans/Bavarians desire for order is legendary, and rightfully so. Few cultures place so much emphasis on punctuality, tidiness and ‘the plan’. Meetings are held to decide when the next meeting will be, begin promptly at 9am and end almost an hour later. They would end exactly an hour later but don’t because the next group has booked the meeting room for 10, and it would be impolite to have them begin at 10 with stale air and warms seats.

But there are a few instances when all of the ideas and rigidity of structure are lost like a scooter in a New Delhi traffic jam. The reasons for this lapse are very vague or possibly reside in a den with a Wolpertinger*. Either way, they seem as inexplicable as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or what…

View original 688 more words

Germans Love a Day off, even if the Reasons Behind it are Uninspiring

lahikmajoe:

Hmmm…there’s a lot more to this. Not just the costs.

Although it’s been quite expensive, most here seem to generally support the idea of Reunification. I think the criticism has been with how it was handled and that the costs continue to this day. It’s seen as a bureaucratic boondoggle, and if you question it, then you’re somehow a stingy bastard.

Originally posted on Laptops and Lederhosen:

2 GermaniesThis morning the sky was grey, I think. It was difficult to see though through the even greyer fog. Tis the season of grey, which is exactly how many Germans view their country’s Einheitsfeier, or Germany’s Day of Unity, which takes place today (3rd Oct).

Here in Bavaria the feelings of blaise are even more acute.

The following conversation I had with a Bavarian is by no means an absolute representation of ALL Bavarians, but it is a fair gauge of many Bavarians. (The conversation took place in German, over a coffee-not a beer.)

Me: “You’re too young to have understood fully the significance of the end of communism, what did your parents think?”

Fritz: “Well, I remember my father watching the events on television. He was transfixed. When the demonstrators clammered up the wall, I distinctly remember him turning to my mom, shaking his head and saying ‘this is going…

View original 85 more words

Confessions of an Oktoberfest Hater

lahikmajoe:

Thanks for this Albert. Good stuff.

Originally posted on Laptops and Lederhosen:

A young man tossed this before being tossed by security, at 11:15 in the morning!This post is a guest post from my good friend Albert Mooney, who sums up succinctly what about half of the people in Munich actually think about Oktoberfest.

It must be like living in Rio and hating Carnival. Or being a Dubliner who dreads St. Patrick’s Day. Or a citizen of Nero’s Rome who has long grown bored with the repetitive tedium of watching Christians being thrown to the lions. I am part of a beleaguered minority of Munich residents for whom the final two weeks of September is something to be endured, not enjoyed. Ours is the Loathing that Dare Not Speak its Name.

I hate Oktoberfest.

I hate the noise. I hate the crowds. I hate the back alley stench of stale alcohol, sour breath, and undigested meat that wafts through our streets as if a drunken giant had just belched. I hate the febrile atmosphere of borderline mania that…

View original 326 more words

Another coffee, please…oh, and why are you so worried about people looking through your stuff?

IMG_3555.JPG

Mostly I write at home, but sometimes between appointments I find myself scratching something out in a café. Like this one.

There’s a column in one of the local papers where readers ask questions and one of the journalists answers in depth. Well, as in depth as is possible in a few paragraphs.

The question today was something like:

Why are Germans so obsessed with data protection?

If could probably do a better job of paraphrasing the answer, but it seemed to come down to a few major things. One was the populace encountering two data-collecting dictatorships in relatively recent memory. There’s no question that this is part of the story.

The other main point was that we are constantly reminded in the media, as well as by word of mouth, that our data is being collected and potentially used.

One factoid that I was a bit surprised at was that half of German Internet users are not just on Facebook, but regularly active on the platform.

If I’d had to guess based on a non scientific sampling of my friends and acquaintances, I’d assume that most Germans weren’t even using social media.

Truth be told, most of my friends here who are active online are using false names and constantly feeding false data to the monsters in the machine.

So, I’m curious. If you’re German and reading this, do you have an opinion on data protection/online anonymity? Obviously, you can contact me privately if you’re uncomfortable leaving a trace of your existence here.

Alternatively, if you’ve worked with Germans and/or lived among them, what do you think of this phenomenon? Are your German friends more cautious online?

I should warn you ahead of time that your answers could be used in an article I’m writing on the subject.

Club of the Polish losers

IMG_3952.JPG

I’ve seen this place before, but it’s not been open when I happened by. At some point I want to go in and see if they’re being hipster ironic or if this place is what they say they are.

And what’s a Polish loser like anyway? How might he be different from any other run of the mill loser?

If you ask nicely, I might go do a bit of sleuthing and find out.

Don’t call me right now

‘Can you just go without your phone for a few minutes?’

He asked me this and I thought, ‘Yes, of course. It’s the weekend. No-one’s trying to reach me right now. I’ve got plenty to be doing, anyway…’

That was several hours ago. I wish I could say this was easy. To be truthful, this is the culmination of a story that began a few years ago. It’s useless to tell the story without going back and explaining my bizarre relationships with smart phones.

Not that this is going to be pretty.

It all starts with the ridiculous envy that’s built into the eyePhone. I’m a convert to nearly everything iOS, but simply can’t get over the sticker shock of buying one of those damned devices. I can almost hear some of you saying, ‘Just bite the bullet and get one of them already. Mine is so amazing. I can’t imagine my life without it anymore.’

Well, that’s part of the problem – that ubiquitous need for this one product. I find myself resisting to lengths I’d rather not admit.

It was somehow easier and quite practical when I originally went an alternative direction. There’s this behemoth of a formerly-nationalised telephone company here in Germany, and I wanted nothing to do with them. At that time, the only way to legally use an eyePhone was to use this company.

Someone explained the intricacies of jail breaking a phone so I could bypass this legality and use the phone, which I wasn’t even willing to purchase to begin with, with my mobile phone provider. It was somehow the lesser of two evils to simply buy another phone.

Which I did.

However, I’ve hated the choice from day one. I’ve cursed my device. I’ve written murder ballads with this ridiculous little piece of machinery in the role of the vanquished lover.

The company who made this thing, once a proud and innovative market leader, is now a sinking ship. There’s no point in harking back to the glory days. I loathed this phone from the first time I set eyes on it.

Finally the thing has given up the ghost. It’s not dead, but it’s on its last legs. It’s provided some sort of easer vice despite my constant ridicule.

I’m trying out new phones – still in the hunt for something that is not an eyePhone. I don’t need the nicest thing on the market, and I’m at a distinct disadvantage, because I’m simply not technically inclined.

It’s why I’m so glad I’ve got a phone guy. Someone who’s helping me decipher the Byzantine realities of mobile technology. It’s not getting any easier, incidentally.

You might say I shouldn’t have such a personal reaction to my phone. Like one of those people who names his car. Or actually thinks the television works better when you talk to it.

You’re probably right. Oh and one more thing. Don’t call me right now.