Thomas Mann describing his early-twentieth century idea of the “civilization littérateur,” from I think his 1918 essay “Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man”:
“Nothing, I said, was more indicative of the literary disposition than the twofold and basically only uniform activity of those humanitarian journalists of the time of the Enlightenment, who, in criminological-political writings, summoned society to the forum of humanity, who educated their contemporaries to despise the barbarisms in the administration of justice, to be against torture and capital punishment, and who paved the way for milder laws—and who characteristically made names for themselves at the same time by pedagogical writings on language and style and by treatises on the art of writing. Love of mankind and the art of writing as the dominant passions of one soul: this meant something; not by chance were these two passions found together. To write beautifully meant almost to think beautifully, and from there it was not far to beautiful deeds. All the moral improvement of the human race—this could be demonstrated—came from the spirit of literature, and even the popular teachers of antiquity considered the beautiful word to be the father of good deeds. What a sermon!”
(Tsee vee lee zah tsee OWNS lit tay rah t.)
Finding pleasure in experimenting, forgetting about what you “ought” to do, and being free of fear.
From Zeit’s profile of a 61-year-old Irishwoman who just spent a year as an Erasmus student in Berlin.
In her blog, Lulu Sinnott described discovering a city but also what it felt like to be totally free for the first time in her life. And the atmosphere in a Berlin pub when Germany won the World Cup.
“Since I was sunbathing at the many lakes in Berlin, trying out all the groovy cafes and dancing as often as I could, I endlessly postponed the finishing of the school work I had to do, and ended up doing all the work in the final week. I couldn’t believe myself. I’m the person who hands essays in early usually, who never risks having to get an extension, who spends her weekends at the desk. Will I be able to revert to being a swot again? Having a completely laid-back semester has changed me in some way, made me less anxious about results in general, since they are all a ridiculous fiction anyhow.”
(Exp ear ee meant EAR froy dichh, flichht fair GESS en oont angst FRY.)
“Gallic villages,” meaning holdouts. Metaphor from the comic book series Asterisk & Obelisk.
(GAUL ish ah DIRF ah.)
To start construction on the basis of false cost estimates in which the numbers have been manipulated to be too low.
On multiple major taxpayer-funded boondoggles in Germany, politicians appear not to have been incentivized to not approve fiascos.
Swiss engineer Jürgen Lauber—the author of BauWesen/BauUnwesen, an analysis of notorious construction projects—proposed solving this problem by changing the German penal code’s “Untreue” paragraph 266 so that “breach of trust” would include building on a basis of irrational numbers.
(Tsoo BILL ichh LOOS bow en.)
Paying it forward.
A retired U.N. negotiator said, on Australian radio, that he was once asked, “Why do you care what happens to people who aren’t from your tribe?”
He answered, carefully, “What if twenty years from now your son can save the life of my son?
“To do that, you and I would have to stay in contact, yes, and I would do everything I can now to help that happen twenty years from now.”
(FOUR verts TSALL en.)
Spiegel’s description of an amazing 1916 Sherlock Holmes parody starring Douglas Fairbanks and possibly cowritten by Anita Loos.
When a villain growls at the diminutive heroine, “Girl, You Are In My Power,” she kicks the villain’s ass. This would speak for an Anita Loos authorship.
(Koch AYN com OE dee ah.)
No herb against that grows.
(Da GAY gen issed kine KRAUT g’VOX en.)
“Media economist,” a job title seen amongst the pundits discussing journalism’s future.
(Mae dee en ÖKO gnome.)
“Finance scientist,” a job title some German economics experts are using in lieu of “economist” in interviews on German television.
(Fee NONCE viss en shoft lah.)
“To lay yourself in the stuff,” meaning to put nose to grindstone & shoulder to the wheel, go to work and hit them for six.
(Zichh inns TSOYG lay gen.)
Protective passes with brio.
Wonderful discussion on Australian radio about Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg’s artistry, imagination and powers of persuasion which he used to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis.
As an architect, he could design very satisfying fake Swedish documents, with lots of stamps. He successfully used the fact that many Nazi soldiers hadn’t learned many foreign languages in school. German guards told to shoot at him were even said to have fired over his head because they admired his bravery.
(Chutz pah shutz pess ah.)
Peter Scholl-Latour was considered one of the greatest foreign correspondents.
Some tributes to him in German media called him a “world explainer,” and some called him what might be a “worlds explainer.”
ARD tagesschau.de said he turned his kidnapping by the Viet Cong in America’s Vietnam war into an opportunity for amazing reporting.
ZDF heute journal said in addition to being known for the quality of his foreign reporting he became Germany’s most successful nonfiction author, writing at least one book a year, “with iron discipline.” In handwriting.
(VELDT eah CLAIRE ah, VELDT en eah CLAIRE ah.)
From the cradle to the bier: forms to fear, forms to fear.
(Fonn dare VEE geh biss tsoor BAH rah: foam you LA rah, foam you LA rah.)
Sig Sauer’s sniper rifle that can shoot accurately over distances >1 kilometer.
The SSG 3000 has only been manufactured in Sig Sauer’s German facilities, i.e. not at their U.S. subsidiary.
Colombian police have confirmed that they have some SSG 3000’s. Yet Sig Sauer never got a German weapons export permit for Colombia for this gun.
(Ess ess gay dry TOWSE end.)
Coxswain’s seat (lit. “steering seat”).
Or, the tax district where your company is headquartered, taxable situs (lit. “tax seat”).
The Obama administration is thinking of ways to, unfortunately without the help of the U.S. Congress, prevent U.S. companies from buying a foreign company headquartered in a low-tax country such as Ireland, Holland or Switzerland and then moving their Steuersitz there in order to pay lower taxes. For example, the U.S. government could stop purchasing from companies that do this. That would especially affect enterprises in the health care sector or defense industries (and in the U.S. almost every company provides goods or services to the military).
(SHTOY ah ZITZ.)
Increase of the minimum monthly wage from 400 to 700 Egyptian pounds (from 41 euros to 72 euros per month), which Egypt passed in 2011.
The French multinational Veolia has been suing Egypt for this since 2012. The case is still ongoing. It’s being heard before an arbitration tribunal at the World Bank. Veolia said increasing workers’ wages by 31 euros a month violated garbage collection agreements they made in a public-private partnership with the city of Alexandria.
(Air HƏH oong dess moan ott lichh en MINNED est loans fonn FEAR hoon drett ow! F ZEE ben hoon drett aigue IPPED tish ah FOONED.)
Core labor norms.
In the discussions about finding resolutions to the different practices in the E.U. and U.S. for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership now being negotiated, the Süddeutsche Zeitung mentioned some differences in labor laws.
All 28 E.U. countries have ratified all eight of the International Labour Organization’s core labor norms, the S.Z. said.
The United States has only ratified two of these norms: the ban of the “worst forms” of child labor and the transitional rules on forced labor.
(CAIRN ah bites norman.)
Things that go without saying.
The supreme court in Karlsruhe [Bundesgerichtshof] said companies may not make ads praising themselves for doing things they’re required to do by law.
A lower court had decided the ads were okay because the “money-back guarantee,” which German law required of these companies anyway, wasn’t particularly emphasized in the ads in question. The Bundesgerichtshof disagreed. It doesn’t take much emphasis to mislead consumers, said the Bundesgerichtshof.
(ZELBST fair SHTENNED lichh kite en.)
The state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein commissioned a study of the legal protections accorded to whistleblowers who are German government employees. It found they have no protections, even when they report crimes.
Although Germany’s laws do end a whistleblowing official’s obligation to maintain secrecy about her job if she sees corruption crimes, they do not end her obligation to trustworthy behavior or her duty to advise and support her superior and to follow the chain of command, wrote Heribert Prantl in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The study’s authors regretted that the current legal framework pertaining to public whistleblowers is plagued by “uncertainties” and “interpretation problems” and “to the greatest extent unclarified.”
In 2011, a decision by the European Court of Human Rights gave some protection to whistleblowers who are ordinary workers but not public employees.
The parliamentary assembly of the European Council has urgently advised the member states to pass a law protecting informants.
(Fair TROU enz VIRRED igg ess Fair HAULED en.)
To bung in.
The F.A.Z. said Bernie Ecclestone is negotiating events with autocratic regimes that are getting “bunged in” to the Formula One calendar. Sotschi in October 2014 for an estimated $50 million. Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2016.
People who build tiny ship models inside glass bottles.
A small Baltic sea town has a museum of these tiny model masterpieces: the Buddelschiffmuseum in Boltenhagen. There are other Buddelschiff museums in Holland and northern Germany, according to a list kindly provided by der Spiegel.
At the Boltenhagen museum, kids can help put the ships in the bottles.
There is also a Verein of bottle ship builders: the Deutsche Buddelschiffer Gilde e.V. New members are very welcome.
Spiegel said Hans Euler was the hardest-working Buddelschiff builder of all time. “He put 16,517 ships into glass according to the Guinness Book of World Records.” For a model of a famous 18th-century sea battle, “Euler forced an entire armada through the narrow neck of a 50-liter wine fermenter.”
After Hans Euler died in 2001, the most famous Buddelschiff builder was Jonny Reinert from Herne in the Ruhrgebiet. Jonny started bottling ships late in life, after working as a coal miner. His best-known work was a whale hunt in a 129-liter bottle.
The oldest bottled model ship found so far was made in 1725 and is on display in a museum in Lübeck.
(BOODLE shiff BOWER.)
Beautifully writing writers.
In its report on the 30th anniversary of the first German email—which arrived after 24 hours in transit at the university of Karlsruhe—ZDF heute journal showed four old-fashioned Schönschreiber at work. Their job is to write messages in beautiful handwriting. Of course their pens were adequate. Their manufactory also had quite an arsenal of papers. Some of the professional handwriters worked in fingerless white cotton gloves.
(SHIN shribe ah.)
Human sausage links, in a good way.
The last band in Arte and Spiegel’s livestream of the 2014 heavy metal festival at Wacken asked everyone in the audience to link arms with the people on either side of them so they could sway back and forth together with nobody “getting lost.”
(MENCH en VOO ahst.)
The Cinnabar Coast, near Portbou, Spain, where the Walter Benjamin hiking path ends.
From the memoirs of Lisa Fittko, who guided many groups of refugees from the Nazis over the difficult route through the Pyrenees:
“Far below, back where we came from, you saw the dark blue Mediterranean Sea. On the other side, ahead of us, cliffs fell abruptly to a glass plate made of transparent turquoise—a second sea? Yes, of course, that was the Spanish coast. Behind us, to the north the semicircle of Catalán’s Roussillon mountains with the Côte Vermeille, the Cinnabar Coast, an autumnal earth with innumerable yellowish-red tones… I gasped for air. I’d never seen such beauty.”
(Tsinn OH bah KISSED ah.)
The path Walter Benjamin walked over the Pyrenee mountains from France to Spain to try to get to Lisbon and catch a boat to the U.S. in 1940, only to have a Spanish guard say he would be sent back to Nazi-occupied France because he lacked a French exit stamp in his passport.
The route has now been made into a hiking path you can follow, marked by painted arrows and piles of stones.
There’s a small spring, the Font del Bana, with a sign saying this is where Mr. Benjamin’s group took their first long rest.
Footpaths that follow the old narrow water irrigation channels down the beautiful Dolomite mountains in southern Tyrol, among other places.
“A mixture of church hymn and weather report.”
Switzerland’s current national anthem, as described by someone from the Verein tasked with judging the ~200 new Swiss national anthems local composers have submitted in response to a Call For Anthems.
(Eye na MISH oong ow s KIRCHH en HIM na oont VET ta bear ICHH t.)
Big questions arising from Sipri’s peace research.
In an informal-sounding interview, a researcher from the peace studies institute in Stockholm described some questions observers have about international weapons sales.
Why did Greece need to buy so many guns and tanks?
Why does Saudi Arabia need so many high-tech weapons?
Will China start massively manufacturing and exporting arms?
What new weapons technologies will Russia develop?
Is there a connection between India’s problems with corruption and its status as the world’s biggest arms importer? The research director at Sipri said India’s biggest arms deal scandals involved companies from western countries.
I have some questions myself:
Is it a problem that the French government controls so many French arms manufacturers?
(GROW sah tsoo ZOM en heng ah owss dare SEE pree FREE denz foah shoong.)
On 01 Aug 2014 the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Klaus Ott reported that it looked like Bernie Ecclestone had successfully negotiated a deal with a Munich court to pay $100 million to make his bribery trial go away.
One indication the court would accept the settlement, the largest ever in Germany, is that after the Friday, 01 Aug 2014, meeting with Mr. Ecclestone the court “uninvited” Tuesday’s witnesses.
If the Munich court accepts the deal, Mr. Ecclestone could continue as boss of Formula One racing. Secrecy was one of the deal’s conditions.
Mr. Ecclestone is on trial for bribing a manager of the Bavarian Landesbank BayernLB with $44 million eight years ago to cheat BayernLB in Mr. Ecclestone’s interest. They used fake invoices and letterbox companies to pay the bribe, and then with the manager’s help Mr. Ecclestone was able to negotiate almost the full bribe out of BayernLB. Mr. Ecclestone’s defense at the Munich trial was that it wasn’t a bribe but blackmail.
(CLOSS en yoos TEETS.)
A link, a connection.
Turkey’s vice president said women shouldn’t laugh loudly in public. Because it is unseemly.
Bülent Arınç said he fears society’s downfall, what with the increasing rates of violence against women in Turkey. Yet, said a Frankfurter Allgemeine writer, Mr. Arınç (A.K.P.) did not postulate a Junktim between women’s public laughter and violence against women.
“The paucity of values was a big problem, he said. ‘Virtue is so important, it’s not just a word,’ he said. ‘It is an adornment for men and women equally.’ But then he aimed his remarks primarily at women: ‘Where are our girls who blush ever so slightly, bow their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their faces, thus becoming a symbol of modesty?'”
When you “can do something out of the Effeff,” in German, my online wiktionaries say, that means you have it down pat, can do it blindfolded, know it backwards and forwards.
Biggest economic court case ever.
Earlier this month, an arbitration court at The Hague decided that when the Russian government said the oil company Yukos owed $27 billion in unpaid taxes and then broke the company up and auctioned it off, they did this to eliminate oligarch Michail Chodorowskij’s political challenge to Vladimir Putin and to benefit state-controlled companies, such as Rosneft.
The arbitration court awarded Yukos shareholders $51.6 billion (plus $64 million in attorneys’ and court fees).
Prior to this, the biggest award to investors in arbitration was $2.5 billion.
(Dare GRISS ta VEE OUGHT shofts prote sess dare YAY molls geff IRRED VOOR da.)
In German, fiction is Fiktion but nonfiction is Sachbücher.
(ZAW chh bew chh ah.)
Criminal investigation archeologist!
The Roman-German Central Museum in Mainz employs at least one justice archeologist, who is documenting and seeking legal fixes for illegal excavations in e.g. Spain and southern Italy. The job includes finding and notifying relevant offices in national and extra-national governments when stolen ancient objects are up for auction around the world, as well as providing evidence and analysis of objects of questionable provenance and of their probable origins.
(Crim een AWL ah chh æ oh LO! gah.)
Industrial heritage site.
The Völklinger Hütte or Völklinger Ironworks in the German Saarland was the first site to be placed on UNESCO’s list of industrial heritage sites, in 1994.
The Hütte’s de.wikipedia article said the factory is located conveniently near the Völklinger train station for rail tourists who want to see the current ancient Egypt exhibit. A partnering Italian museum set up millennia-old Egyptian sarcophagi etc. in glass cases between the smelters. 19th-century German archeology was made possible by 19th-century German industrialization, the curators said.
(Inn douce TREE dengk mall.)
The problem-plagued nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France.
Luxembourg and the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland have been urging that Cattenom be taken offline for safety reasons for years.
After a malfunction this week, one of Cattenom’s four reactors was powered down. In May 2014 there was an accident in which ten employees were irradiated. In July 2013 a transformer caught fire.
Der Spiegel reported that Cattenom has had >700 “incidents” in recent years.
Minutes before a concert in Salzburg, Austria, Daniel Barenboim recorded an appeal for peace that was sent to ZDF heute journal to broadcast on the evening news on 23 Jul 2014.
|How many people have been killed.||Wie viele Menschen sind getötet worden.|
|How much cruelty.||Wie viele Grausamkeit.|
|And everyone’s right.||Und jeder hat recht.|
|It’s inhuman, what’s happening over there.||Es ist ja unmenschlich, was dort passiert.|
|Because there’s only one possibility: that is the future, and the future means, no military solution.||Weil es gibt nur eine Möglichkeit: das ist die Zukunft, und die Zukunft heisst, keine militärische Lösung.|
|This is not a conflict that can be solved by a military action.||Es ist nicht ein Konflikt, der durch eine militärische Aktion gelöst sein kann.|
|It’s a conflict between two peoples, who are deeply convinced that each has the right to live on the same tiny piece of land. That they may live there, and that they must live there.||Es ist ein Konflikt zwischen zwei Völkern, die zutiefst überzeugt sind, das Recht zu haben, auf das gleiche, kleine Stückchen Land leben zu dürfen. Und zu müssen.|
|Without the other group.||Ohne die anderen.|
|And that! That’s what we have to change.||Und das! Das müssen wir ändern.|
|A cease-fire is absolutely necessary. Long overdue, even.||Waffenstillstand ist absolut notwendig. Sogar, viel zu spät.|
|But it’s not enough.||Aber es reicht nicht.|
|We have to bring the parties together, so they can talk with each other, and so they understand first and foremost: that there is no military solution.||Wir müssen die Parteien zusammen bringen, dass sie miteinander sprechen, und dass sie als erstes das verstehen: dass es keine militärische Lösung gibt.|
|And then the rest of the world must provide real support for this.||Und dann muss der Rest der Welt das wirklich unterstützen.|
|Then, it will be very simple, and it can be solved.||Dann, wird es sehr einfach sein, und es kann gelöst sein.|
Hamburg’s “Transparency Law,” requiring the administration to publish all its documents with the exception of e.g. personal data and business secrets. The compulsory publication will go online in October 2014 in a central “information register.”
Hamburg passed this law in 2012 after an initiative by Mehr Demokratie!, the Chaos Computer Club and Transparency International.
So far the city-state’s government has held 120 training seminars to tell 1700 officials what the new law will mean.
One trainer began his sessions with an 1838 quote from Prussia’s interior minister, Gustav von Rochow.
“It is not fitting for subjects (…) to apply the standards of their own limited insight to the head of state’s actions and to presume in their bigheaded arrogance to make a public judgment about the lawfulness of said actions.”
(Tronce paw RENTS geh zetts.)
“The biggest and most important tax conference ever held in Germany,” which will be in Berlin in October 2014 to sign, seal and deliver the new international agreement for the automatic exchange of tax data, after it is approved by the G20 finance ministers in September 2014.
67 countries and legal regions are on board; 40 want to implement the new O.E.C.D standard in 2017. Countries implementing the standard include Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, the Bermuda Islands and the Caymans.
This achievement was accomplished by pressure from the U.S., whose “Fatca” law required banks outside the U.S. to provide tax information about customers who had to pay tax in the U.S. The U.S. negotiated this in bilateral agreements. Then five E.U. countries said if the U.S. could do it, the E.U. should as well.
“The task of automatically exchanging the many billion data that could be relevant for the financial authorities across borders is considered extremely complex. It has already been decided that all sorts of income will have to be reported, including interest, dividends, income from insurance contracts but also capital gains [from sales]. Banks will be involved but also brokers, investment funds and insurers. This will cover the accounts held by natural persons and by trusts and foundations and the natural persons who control them. Finally, guidelines on implementation and specific details on the safe transfer of data were worked out.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
(Dee GRISS ta oont bed OY tend sta SHTOY ah cone fah RENTS inn DEUTSCH lonned, dee ess yay geg GAY ben hot.)
Reliability verification procedure.
This month the responsible federal bureaux apparently stopped processing Sig Sauer’s applications for weapons export permits while investigations continue into how Sig’s guns were found in Colombia and Kazakhstan despite export permits that said “United States.”
(Tsoo fair LESS ichh kites PROO foongz fair FAR en.)
A “spying spiral,” falling into an espionage arms race. Süddeutsche Zeitung echoed Chancellor Merkel when they wrote, on 10 Jul 2014,
“Despite everything: Permanently spying on each other is wasteful.
“Intelligence agencies are always insatiable. They take as much money, personnel and technology as they can get. Whether this really makes the world a safer place is hard to prove. Of course there are threats, such as international terrorism, against which Germany must effectively defend itself. Including by working with the U.S.A. The energy spent on permanently spying on each other in addition to all that is wasted energy.”
On 16 Jul 2014, Chancellor Merkel’s spokesperson said it again:
“It seems to the Chancellor, and surely to the entire federal government as well, that it’s not sensible for everyone to be spying on everyone, as if we were still in the Cold War. Especially not among friends and allies.”
(SHPAY shpee RAH lah.)
“Manipulation of public opinion, calumny campaigns and reality distortion… rigging online polls and altering view counts for websites.”
How Spiegel.de described some of G.C.H.Q.’s “weaponized capabilities” from a July 2012 list that Glenn Greenwald published on Bastille Day, 2014.
(Mon EEP eula SEE OWN dare if ent lichh en MINE oong, ROOF moahd comp ON yen, ray all lee TATES faired SERR oong.)
what Spiegel.de called the two World-Cup Snowden revelations in its “Eleven Things That Happened While You Were Watching Soccer” article: