Archive for the 'Germany' Category

Wahl-O-Mat zur Bundestagswahl 2009

Wahl-O-Mat zur Bundestagswahl 2009

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Neology: wikifizieren

At work, I’ve started using an expression in 2005 when dealing with internal memos and information we enter in our knowledge database, a mediawiki installation: wikifizieren means just that, entering information into a wiki and using wiki formatting. I had to explain to my boss and colleagues what I meant, but I think it sounds reasonable. What do you think?

update: I found the term in Wikipedia (where else), the earliest entry is from 2004.

Chaos Computer Club: Election-Rig-O-Mat

Chaos Computer Club: Election-Rig-O-Mat: Nothing easier than a landslide win

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Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It, Deutsche Telekom!

I’m employed as a test center manager at my company and the list of my duties is longer than today’s first page of this blog. How come I can leave for a full month and travel to South Korea with my family? In the last few years, out of a number of reasons my company used to have its employees work from home. My duties and responsibilities allow me to work almost completely as a telecommuter, although I prefer being in the office several times a week. I’ve been “away” for a whole month last year and it worked, this year it’s most probably the last time for the next couple of years and it works again. I didn’t have an internet connection before yesterday though, which was quite a problem since I need to be online, especially during TOEFL preparation courses or TOEFL and other tests. My parents-in-law’ new apartment already has DSL network plugs built into all rooms, but they don’t have a computer thus no need for an internet connection. After our arrival, my sister-in-law called a local internet provider, hanaro, on a Saturday morning (at 10 a.m.). Not only it was possible to do this on the weekend and confirm an order for one month of broadband per phone, but their customer service visited us within 8 (eight) hours! That’s quick – and it didn’t even cost the world. It would have cost three times as much with Deutsche Telekom, they’d need a week or even more and I’d have to split internet connection and the provider and switch the latter to another company, because Deutsche Telekom doesn’t offer internet for one month.

Abgeordnetenwatch

Abgeordnetenwatch.de Find your representative, ask questions, get direct answers and track their voting record.

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Female Prisoners

This is a sobering number: only 5% of all prisoners are female. Only 4100 of the 76600 prisoners in Germany are women, not just because women tend to be more law abiding, but also because their criminal offenses are lighter than those of men. Furthermore, women are less prone to repeat their mistakes after they leave prison.

Make Your Own Market

My wife paid a visit to the 32nd International Dental Show in Cologne today. As road shows go, all booths try to lure customers to their counter and hold on to them as long as possible – or a deal is worked out. Some have novelties on display, magazines, all kinds of freebies. Ironically, everyone offers sweets, cookies and chocolate. Cavities, sir? No problem, please have a seat. Want a Cookie?

Besmirch

besmirch means exactly what you think it means. Who would have thought that beschmieren entered the English language?

Salon.com News | Submarine accident sparks debate over Navy policy

New Tabacco Laws

Taxes for cigarette-sticks in Germany are going to be leveled with the rest of tobacco products. People will have to pay the full tax, no matter the size or form. That’s another incremental step into the right direction, but what we actually need are Irish anti-smoking laws. They’re strict and effective – and I have a lung to protect:

  1. Signs against smoking (which already exist in Germany but are often ignored) would have to be displayed in all affected areas
  2. If you break the law and smoke away you’re fined up to €3,000
  3. Environment Health Officers are hired to enforce the ban and conduct regular checks

The reasons why Germany should and can introduce this law is self-evident. If it works for them, it can work in Germany, too. The sooner our lawmakers learn from the Irish experience, the better. Don’t get me wrong, if somebody wants to smoke, let them – but give me the same freedom of choice to not to be exposed to it.

No Taxbonus for cigarette-sticks

How Things Should Be

I’m back. Bonn and the DAAD Freundeskreis convention were great. We’ll construct a main portal with space for each regional group, so this unprofessional pell-mell of private emailaddresses, not standardised or even missing websites is soon going to end. Since having a website depends on having a tech-savvy member in the group we’re going to centralise all regional groups and build-up a technical support group for the clubs who need help.

And now to something completely different: I’ve been in the city today – too bad I didn’t have a camera, because this is what I encountered. A vibrant crowd strolling through the city, enjoying the day (despite of the snow) and shopping. Please note that today is sunday – which doesn’t mean much to people who don’t live in Germany. On sundays, German cities look much like this. See the difference? There’s nothing wrong with Germany’s economy when you look at the export. We’re top-notch exporters of high-quality products and services – but the national economy is ailing. The regulation of opening hours strangles consumption and lowers employment. I’m well aware of the sociocultural (and even religious) reasons to keep things as they are, but as far as I’m informed there’s no other country in Europe keeping the lid on the opening hours as we do here.

The first time I got to experience the pleasure of being able to go shopping in the middle of the night was in Jackson, Michigan in 1995. I don’t remember anymore what I bought, but I can recall my fascination about some mall in the area being open at midnight as if it was yesterday. Four years ago I had the opportunity to buy new glasses for a couple of ? on a sunday afternoon and get them adjusted to my visual acuity in no time. Good luck with getting your local optician to do that for you in return for money in Germany.

I can only hope the new coalition is going to do something about the national economy, but their coalition agreement doesn’t look too promising.

Koreanbook

This is Paradise!

The best place to get Korean books about and from Korea:

Koreanbook.de

Currently, I’m reading Ihr seid hier im Paradies (engl. This Is Paradise!) by Kang Hyok and Phillippe Grangereau. Great book so far, rather short with 256 pages, but with such detailed information about misery and sorrow about his life as a kid in North Korea that it blows my mind. I thought I know about the life conditions since my wife told me quite a lot about it in the last four years and I’ve read about it before. We’re actually reading it together… but I had no idea how bad it really is. There’d be too many pieces from the text to quote, so I’ll leave it at a general recommendation: If you have ten bucks to spare, go and get it.

News from Harvard

A worth while article why Harvard should be a role model for German universities by professor for Japanese Studies in Tübingen, Klaus Antoni:

Offener Brief aus Harvard

All the Rage

Seems like Blogging is going through the roof image-wise. Now even Spiegel Online uses Technorati links to link to discussions in weblogs related to their articles. Take a look at this one, it’s at the bottom of the page, not a very prominent place, but it’s there. Trying to find the reason what’s behind this novelty, I found this IHT article by Thomas Crampton (via Joi Ito) as a possible explanation. Focus and Spiegel compete directly with each other, one eager to have a lead over the other. Spiegel announced the cooperation with Technorati on November 3rd, but I’m waiting for a real German Spiegel blog, beside Teheran Bytes by Nahid Siamdoust and the English Buzz Blog, which doesn’t look much different from the usual articles on the rest of the site.

Interview with Filmmaker Lars von Trier

An Election Less Ordinary

Half a year ago, Chancellor Schröder proclaimed that the people of Germany are going to vote for a new government this year. At that time, the SPD had just about 24% support in the population. The CDU, on the other hand, was in high favor with about an absolute majority. It seemed to be all so clear, today’s election was supposed to show a clear way for the future. One side defiant, insisting on continuity, the other side proclaiming the Wechsel (change), dividing the bearskin before the bear was killed. It came all so different than everybody expected. Instead of a clear mandate, neither SPD nor CDU got the upper hand, but look yourself:

SPD CDU Green FDP Linke other
33,9%
35,3%
8,2%
10,2%
8,4%
3,9%
-4,6%
-3,2%
-0,4%
+2,8%
+4,4%
+-0%

The “red-green coalition” is no more. The SPD gained remarkable 10% in the last months before the election, but still failed to become the biggest faction in the Bundestag. The only way Gerhard Schröder will continue to govern Germany is by asking the FDP into the boat. They again, announced they would never do this. Angela Merkel’s CDU lost over 3% in comparison to 2002, which is certainly disappointing and they can’t form a coalition with the FDP as planned. What’s left to do? They won and lost this election, the mandate to form a government is theirs, but with who? The Green Party announced they would rather be in the opposition than form a government with CDU and FDP. So, it’s either the Green Party or the FDP, one of them will have to sell its soul and contradict themselves in their respective campaigns. Both parties would loose all credibility and very possibly be marginalized until 2009. Every party announced they would talk to everybody else, except to the Linke/PDS. They said they are going to work in the opposition. They have no other option, since they can’t abide a red-green coalition, it would contradict everything they stay for.

Which leaves us with a big coalition. A Chancellor Merkel with Schröder’s SPD? I don’t see it, but the numbers don’t leave even one other politically viable option.

Pay-per-Vote

Don’t know who to vote for? Take a look at this, creative Ebayers offer advice for undecided voters or sell their own vote:
illegal Ebay auction (might die quick)

If you’re short on money and didn’t vote yet, take a look at Cashvote (German).