“Mouth of the Peene.” A town near where the Peene river meets the sea.

(PAY neh MIN deh.)


War equipment that was exclusively inherited by male heirs under medieval German law. Though the concept apparently exists since at least Carolingian times, Heergewäte was first mentioned in the 12th century, then disappeared relatively early from towns and cities but persisted in rural areas until the 17th century.

(HAIR ge vey teh.)


“Coppersmith” is a straightforward term in German, but surprisingly to me these craftsmen were also called brownsmiths in English because of the colors of the metals they worked.

According to London’s 1891 census, blacksmiths worked iron, redsmiths gold, whitesmiths tin, greensmiths lead, and brownsmiths copper or brass.

(COOP fer shmeed.)

Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas, Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen, BNetzA

German Federal Networks Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railroads, a federal regulation authority tasked with maintaining and promoting competition in “so-called network markets,” according to Wikipedia.

(BOON dess NETZ ah gen tour foor elek tree tsee TATE, goz, tay lay com MOON ee ka TSEE OWN, post oond EYE zen bonn en.)


Prebendary, a type of canon in the Catholic or Anglican church. Now used in German to mean someone who receives a stipend without having to work for it. A sinecure holder.

(FRIEND ner.)

Leipziger Strombörse

The European Electricity Exchange runs platforms for trading in many power-related markets. It is located in Leipzig and was created by a fusion of Leipzig’s LPX and Frankfurt/Main’s EEX in 2002.

A study commissioned by Germany’s Green Party has announced that while for years now electricity prices have been steadily falling on the EEX, electricity prices have been steadily rising for Germany’s small private consumers. Cost reductions have not been passed along to private consumers and cost increases have. German consumers are paying an estimated EUR 0.02/kilowatt hour too much, totalling three billion euros this year. High-volume customers, such as industrial clients, have meanwhile negotiated lower electricity prices with the utilities and lower environmental contributions with the government. The Bundesnetzagentur has now calculated e.g. that Germany’s biggest electricity customers consume 18% of its electricity but pay only 0.3% of the alternative energy law costs.

Responding to the report, the power companies blamed the flawed system, which they say is politicians’ fault. Also, they say, high prices are caused by taxes and environmental contributions.

ZDF heute journal reports that small private consumers aren’t switching electricity providers enough to create a sense of market competition.


Nationale Anti-Doping Agentur, Germany’s national agency for combating illegal substances in sport. A recent Spiegel-Online editorial felt NADA could learn from the excellent recent work of its U.S. equivalent, USADA, which after years of investigations has successfully placed a lifelong ban on cyclist Lance Armstrong for doping.

“USADA has shown… in an exemplary manner, what is possible when an agency does not succumb to the pressure from sports, politics and sponsors, but instead investigates autonomously, fulfills its core task and wants to get close to the truth. With the spectacular Armstrong case, the USADA has emancipated itself, in an outstanding way. …Tygart and the USADA have shown what is possible when you’re interested in clarifying a matter and you use all the information at your disposal.” By which he means tax information from the IRS, inter alia.


“Four-eyes principle,” sometimes called the two-man rule in English. Important decisions are not made and important activities are not carried out by just one person.

Beschleunigtes Vergabeverfahren

“Accelerated distribution process.” A paperwork system at least one physician, working at Göttingen and Regensburg university hospitals, was caught manipulating to artificially improve some statuses in lists of patients awaiting organ transplants. It turns out a suspiciously high percentage of hearts and livers has been allocated using the alternate, accelerated procedure in Germany. Records are now being re-examined and the organ allocation system will be overhauled. More transparency has been promised, to restore public confidence. This will be accomplished via “more intensive inspections” (unannounced and “end-to-end”), publication of inspection reports and implementing an “extra eyeballs” principle ensuring more than one person will be checking steps executed in the process.

The responsible medical administrators do not want government involvement additional to these agreed changes to be superimposed on these ethical decisions. Patient rights organizations do, however, and have asked for a central authority to be created to oversee related medical ethics considerations. Both sides agree that the penalties for such manipulation should be made tougher.

Update on 03 Jan 2013: Munich was also caught doing this. Now Leipzig University Hospital physicians have been implicated in a similar scandal. The Leipzig problem was discovered by the Göttingen, Regensburg and Munich reforms, which included a review or audit commission (Prüfkommission), “extra eyeballs” principle and increased risks and penalties for tricksing.

Update on 04 Sep 2013: The investigation has found that Münster was also doing this. There is a discussion about the incentives to doctors and hospitals for performing organ transplants in Germany. It’s more subtle than just money, examining ego but also structures that encourage competition among medical departments. Meanwhile, burghers have shown they have less incentive to opt in as organ donors until these issues are clarified.

(Beh SHLOY nick tess   fer GOB eh fer FAR en.)


Small autonomous groups of rebels fighting the Assads’ military machine in Syria. According to ZDF heute journal reporting on 11 August 2012, these small units or brigades fight on local territory, defending their neighborhoods. Each katiba has a logistics officer, and they organize their own money, food, weapons and medicine. It is not entirely clear where their money is coming from, but the local neighborhood defense means that foreign fighters are few, ZDF says, and when foreign fighters have joined the rebellion against the Assads it tends to be in border regions.

The BBC posted this map yesterday showing who may have recently been holding which territory [thanks,]. Nearly all the territories marked on this map appear to be in border regions.

(Kah TEE bah.)


“The right to capture any wild ones.” Some medieval German princes claimed they had a right to enserf any free nonaristocrats passing through their territories.

(VILL d fong reckt.)


Ballpoint pen gun. Used to kill former West German border guard Hans Plüschke in 1998.

(SHEESS koo gell shry ber.)



The “grumbling of your feelings.” Having a weird feeling about something…

(Geh FOOLS grue meln.)


World Mummies Congress of the EURAC Research Institute in beautiful Bolzano, Italy.

(Velt MOO me en con gress.)

Leitwölfe und Siegertypen

“Leadership wolves and winner guys.” Accusations made before yesterday’s loss to Argentina that players like these are not representing in Germany’s national soccer team. Germany’s national trainer said such accusations were not helpful and fatigued him slightly.

(LIGHT vulf eh oond ZEE gerrr toop en.)


The “alkali-silica reaction” causing miles of road construction every summer. The source of a de facto speed limit on the autobahn, this is a materials issue wherein silica (Kieselsäure, lit. “gravel acid”) reacts with cement to form a gel bubble that pushes up to the driving surface, making it as soft as sand. The ingredients in new autobahns are said to be no longer susceptible to this but old ones are crumbling. Much research has been done over the years into ways to slow down Betonkrebs without replacing too much road. Sprays tested have included epoxy resin, boiled linseed oil and/or “hydrophobization,” according to ZDF heute journal reporting on 26 July 2012.

(Oll call ee KEE zell zoy reh ray ock tsee OHN.)


“Caustics.” In optics, caustics are the light reflections rippling on the bottom of a swimming pool.

(Cow STEEK.)


“Summer hole.” The lack of interesting news stories in summer when everyone goes on vacation. Outside the USA, the English translation for Sommerloch is “silly season,” according to Wikipedia. Inside the US, it’s called the “slow news season.”


“Fried skull.” A dummkopf.

(BROTT shay dell.)


Another syllabbreviation, this time for “Oberlippenbart, vorne kurz, hinten lang.” Upper lip beard, short in the front, long in the back. Mullet and mustache.

(OH lee faux koo HEE la.)


“Overhang mandates,” overhang seats. Unusual parliamentary seats resulting from Germany’s two-vote election system. With their first vote, burghers choose a candidate. With their second vote, a political party. If a party has more direct candidates elected in a district than the seats they would have won by percentage, the party can still retain the directly elected excess candidates as Überhangmandate.

According to ZDF heute journal reporting on 25 July 2012, after Angela Merkel’s government’s recent electoral reforms there were an unprecedented 24 overhang seats in the subsequent election, a new record, and all belonged to Angela Merkel’s ruling party CDU/CSU. The Federal Constitutional Court has now declared the recent reforms imperfect and in need of revision, during which there will presumably be substantially more debate and resistance from the opposition, who now say these reforms were in fact rather inconsistent and hastily pushed through the legislative process.

In future, the Constitutional Court said, a maximum of only 15 overhang seats will be permissible.

Update on 21 Feb 2013: The Bundestag reached an agreement on the new election rules. Überhangmandat seats will be canceled out by Ausgleichsmandat, compensation mandate, seats.

(OO ber hong mon DOT eh.)

Schwuppdiwupp, Zack, Heidewitzka, Hopihalido

SHVOOP dee VOOP = ta daaa.

TSOCK: 1) pow, 2) voilà.

HIDE eh VITZ ka: woo hoo.

HOPE ee HOLL ee dough = cheap beer from Hamburg’s Holsten brewery.


“Reservoir data storage,” “advance data saving,” now also being called dragnet e.g. surveillance + storage. When a government collects and saves people’s personal communication data in advance, without cause, before needing the data.

Germany is in trouble with the EU for not implementing the EU rule that telecommunications data should be collected without cause and saved for six months. German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) supports the six-month EU plan but many other German parties and politicians do not. The German Supreme Constitutional Court found that the EU rule conflicts with German law.

Update on 18 Dec 2012: Spiegel-Online reports that more than 11,000 concerned Austrians, including telecommunications employees and Carinthian civil servants, have asked the Austrian constitutional court to postpone deliberating on Austria’s new data privacy law until the European Court of Justice can determine whether the EU rule violates basic human rights. By law, communications data in Austria have had to be saved for six months since 1 Apr 2012. The EU rule was passed in 2006. The Irish High Court asked the European Court of Justice to examine the rule in mid-July 2012, and it may happen in 2013.

Update on 12 Dec 2013: The European Court of Justice is examining the E.U. guideline requiring telecommunications companies to save customers’ data for “up to two years” in case they are suspected of committing crimes in the future. An expert opinion submitted by an E.U. Advocate General to the court found the two-year dragnet data storage guideline conflicts with the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights. ARD moderator Jan Hofer said the court usually follows such expert opinions.

Update on 08 Apr 2014: The European Court of Justice overturned the E.U.’s 2006 guideline requiring mandatory dragnet surveillance and recording of all electronic phone and internet data because it violates fundamental human rights [Grundrechte].

(FORE rots DOT en shpy cher oong.)


“Mumbling rock.” Jim Morrison; Udo Lindenberg, Herbert Grönemeyer, most delightfully Illegal 2001.

(NOODGE zshel rock.)


“Cuddle rock.” This is a real music category in Germany. Probably includes some David Hasselhoff.

(KOO shell ROCK.)


“Plan determination process.” People living near Berlin’s new Willy Brandt Airport are trying get a court order to change the proposed landing paths, by petitioning for a new Planfeststellungsverfahren.

(Plon FEST shtell oongz fer FAR en.)


“Size craziness.” Such as the overdimensioned construction projects Valencia’s politicians built with money the Spanish region didn’t have.

(GRUE senn VON.)


“Legal nihilism.” What a lawyer for Russian punk band Pussy Riot called the fact that all the defense’s requests for access to the files, documents, witness reports, expert statements &c. have been denied by Putin’s government. “We can’t do a normal defense like this. If they’re declared guilty, that will be an expression of legal nihilism.”

(WRECKED snee hee leez moose.)


“Wealth destruction weapon.” Criticism of a new plan to have the ESM buy up debt from struggling EU countries and, if needs must, exchange that paper for new euros from the European Central Bank. Some fear this will overeliminate incentives for struggling countries’ politicians to learn to stop overspending. And of course German economists think inflation might result.

(Fer MÖ genz fer NICK toongz voff eh.)


Nickname of a yellow highrise the Axel Springer publishing company built next to the Wall in Berlin’s old publishing district.

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