A “civil punk.” In Germany, someone who may appear societally conformist on the outside but who “lives an interior anti-attitude” against unquestioned burgher conventions.

(Tsee VEEL punk ah.)


“Blocking minority.” If, for example, Bersani’s (center-left) coalition gains control of Italy’s House but Berlusconi’s (center-right-f’tang-f’tang-biscuit-barrel) coalition wins enough votes in the Senate, Italy will be ungovernable because Bunga-Bunga will have the ability to block legislation. Hopefully, Bersani and Monti, perhaps even with television comedian Grillo’s help, will gain enough seats to call for another election, which will be blessed with better turnout. Spiegel-Online ventured to note that the new parliament might consider passing some electoral reforms before the new election, to stabilize the Italian government and make Italian politicians seem more reliable to voters.

(SHPERRRM ee nore ee tate.)

Neue Geilis

“The new horny ones,” an abbreviation for die Neuen Geistlichen Lieder, “the new spiritual songs,” modern hymns created by and for German Catholics between the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) and the new German Catholic hymnbook being published this year. From an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

(NOY eh   GYLE eez.)


“Rat catchery,” how departing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti referred this week to billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi’s ridiculous campaign promise to pay voters’ real estate taxes out of his own pocket, hot air intended to encourage poorly-informed people to hitch their wagons not to a 21st-century democratic system but to a strong-seeming man no matter what ethics he displays.

(ROTTEN feng err EYE.)


Former rebel East-German pastor, then after reunification the head of the office maintaining and investigating the Stasi archives, now Bundespräsident, Joachim Gauck is carefully and sympathetically using his symbolic role as Germany’s president to put some good suggestions in motion. The F.A.Z. reported that Gauck said in a recent interview with the “Real Change”-type newspaper straßenfeger that he considers the President of Germany “as a type of translator between operative politics and the burghers” and that he would listen to burghers’ questions and concerns and then debate them with M.P.’s; candidly, he saw that “he can also motivate people by inviting them or giving them awards,” and he wanted to open up the presidential palace and encourage discourse. On 20 Feb 2013 the Bundespräsidential web page announced that Gauck wanted to create and drive forward public discussion via “new types of events for dialog with burghers” that will be held at the presidential palace of Bellevue, to be called the “Bellevue Forum.”

The Bellevue Forum series began Friday, 22 Feb 2013, with a touching, rousing, humble, insightful speech about Europe at Bellevue Palace before about 200 invited international guests. In the text of the speech Gauck talked about values, European Union design features that have to be corrected, the complexity of solutions to complicated problems, and practical suggestions that included creating a common European television/internet channel—like the wonderful German-French Arte, plus C-Span—to broadcast news stories from around Europe. Television highlights of the 22 Feb speech focussed on the warmth of how he reached out to people of other nationalities and faiths, how he said that to Germans more Europe does not mean a German Europe but instead a European Germany (which sounds much less lonely!), and particularly how he spoke to the UK:

Dear people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, dear new British citizens! We would like you to stay with us! We need your experience as the oldest parliamentary democracy, we need your traditions, your pragmatism and your courage! During the Second World War, your efforts helped to save our Europe – and it is also your Europe. Let us continue to engage in discussion on how to move towards the European res publica, for we will only be able to master future challenges if we work together. More Europe cannot mean a Europe without you!

The speech concluded with a manifesto:

  1. Do not be indifferent!
  2. Do not be lazy!
  3. Recognize your ability to make a contribution!

(Bell VÜ   fore OOM.)


“Sow sty.” In German, the sow is a more intensive metaphor for the pig. Pigs are pigs, but the sow is the SOW. After a six-month investigation of the Saxony state Verfassungsschutz office (Saxon LfV), the investigating committee (of “independent experts” under a former German Attorney General) has said the place wasn’t a complete sow sty but they still have some recommendations for reform. The commission proposed creating a permanent “Verfassungsschutz commissioner” for Saxony, a position that does not yet exist in any other German states and would be similar to the state “data protection commissioners” who are already widespread. The Verfassungsschutz commissioner should have an intelligence background, investigate independently, and not be dependent on which parties control majorities in state parliaments or on legislature election periods.

The investigation was started half a year ago by the CDU governor of Saxony after some Saxon LfV files relevant to the serial-killing neonazi terror cell turned up but no one knew whence or how. Although the independent commission did not discover the origins of those files either, they did find many problems with the Saxon LfV’s filing system and also recommended “tightening things up” organizationally inside that authority, leaving power structures as they are but sending “the best people” to federal centers.

(ZOW! shtoll.)

“Senf verfärbt nur das Ergebnis.”

“Mustard merely discolors the achievement.” Dittsche on condiments and mystery meatballs in the fast food industry.


Children’s word for horse. From the hilarious rambling discussion of mislabeled horse meat in the first 2013 episode of Dittsche. “Bears can grow to be quite old… but horses aren’t getting old anymore, are they?”

Wiktionary writes that the word comes from the German words for “gee” and “haw,” with hott meaning right and meaning left.

(Hotteh hüüü.)

Anlassbezogene Prüfung

“Investigation because investigation is indicated.” German Minister for Work and Social Matters Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) has announced that Amazon.de will be investigated for maltreatment of its workers in Germany. The situation reached national attention after an investigative report by ARD about worker rights abuses at the company. In response to the report and the uproar, Amazon has fired its relevant private security firm, H.E.S.S.

(On loss beh TSOH geh neh   PROO foong.)


The type of the two transport planes Germany originally sent in January 2013 to support France’s intervention in northern Mali. France then asked for more military support from Germany, such as planes that could refuel French fighter jets in the air. Germany’s Green Party was among those questioning the wisdom of this; Bundestag member Katja Keul said for example that it is crucial that any military aid should transition to a political process, “because the military can never bring the solution to the problem.” However, Germany then agreed to send 40 soldiers for training purposes. On 18 Feb 2013 Spiegel-Online reported that Angela Merkel’s government was planning to ask the Bundestag to increase that to “up to 330” soldiers, i.e. 180 for training and 150 for logistics. The 18 Feb Spiegel article also mentioned that Germany was now providing three Transall and one in-flight refueling Airbus planes to the multinational effort in Mali.

(Tronz ollll.)

Hildegunst von Mythenmetz

Poet who is supposedly the author of Walter Moers’ City of Dreaming Books, which Moers said he merely translated from the first two chapters of her 25-volume opus, Travel Memories of a Sentimental Dinosaur.

(HEAL deh GOON st   fon   MOO ten METS.)


“Onion tower,” the round domes on old towers in Russia, Bavaria and parts of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

(TSVEE bellll TOOR m.)

Finanztransaktionssteuer auf Wertpapiergeschäfte

“Financial transaction tax on securities transactions.” The responsible EU commission has submitted a draft proposal for a tax of 0.1% on transactions in stocks, loans, shares in investment and money market funds and derivatives in the EU, to be collected from large investors such as banks. Financial products for small investors are not going to be subject to the FTT. Some or all of the estimated >30 billion euros resulting from the tax will be used to bail out the large institutions paying the tax if new crashes occur in future, taking taxpayers off the hook for these institutions’ miscalculation of risks. The FTT will have to be approved unanimously by all EU countries before it can go into effect in Europe as scheduled on 1 Jan 2014.

Update on 12 Nov 2013: Apparently another English name would be a “Tobin tax,” named after Nobel economics laureate James Tobin. It’s a penalty he proposed decades ago on “short-term financial round-trip excursions” in order to “dissuade speculators.”

(Fee NONTS trons awk tsee OWNS shtoy er   ow! f   VAIR t pop EAR geh CHEF teh.)

Minister für Nationale Aussöhnung

Syria’s Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs responded positively on 12 Feb to the Syrian opposition-in-exile’s 10-Feb offer of dialog, agreeing to direct talks if they might result in elections in Syria.

(Min EASTER   fir   ow! ss LEN dish eh   ow! ss ZÖ noong.)


“Bridge builder,” what the Latin word “pontifex” means.

(BRICK en bow er.)

Wir waren Papst

“We were Pope.” Süddeutsche Zeitung’s recent riff on a famous headline from the notorious Bild magazine.

(Vir   varren   pop st.)

Jemand, der zum Lachen in den Keller geht

“Someone who goes in the cellar to laugh.” Someone with no sense of humor.

(YAY mond,   dare   tsoom   LOCHH en   in   dane   KELLER   gate.)


Bucket. Large buckets used to transport harvested grapes in Germany’s wine regions were turned upside-down and used as lecterns for humorous speeches during Karneval celebrations, which is why today’s poets and jesters are called Büttenredner or “bücket orators.”


“Mainz bleibt Mainz, wie es singt und lacht.”

“Mainz remains Mainz, in the manner in which it sings and laughs.” A formal annual municipal mardi gras television show that lasts for hours. News-related poems, jokes, songs and speeches are presented to the good-humored costumed crowd, whose tables are kept cheerful by a steady stream of beer and wine. Eventually, clown nose-wearing viewers fall into a reverie before their tv screens, occasionally remembering to blow “tra la!” on toy horns.

(My nts   bl eye bt   my nts,   vee   ess   zing t   oont   lochh t.)


“Power-heat connection.” Some German cities are using waste heat from the cities’ relatively low-pollution gas-powered electricity generators to heat private residences.

(Croft VAIR meh cup loong.)


“Fisheries reform”; the EU passed a reformatory Common Fisheries Policy this week with a very solid majority. The Greens celebrated. Details still need to be worked out with individual countries’ governments, but the policy is intended to help combat overfishing and will, e.g., make it illegal for vessels to dump part of their catch back into the ocean in order to meet fishing quotas or because the caught fish have low market value. It is also supposed to stop overfishing in developing countries.

(Fisher EYE rrreform.)

Tag des sicheren Internets

“Safer Internet Day,” 5 February. The 2013 theme was “Connect with Respect.” This is sponsored by the European Union’s Safer Internet Program.

(TOCHH   dess   ZICHH er en  INternets.)


“Majestic.” How tagesschau.de described the way light cascades into New York’s Grand Central Station, which recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Jackie Kennedy helped save the station from being torn down in the mid-twentieth century.

(My est ATE ish.)


“Air passenger rights regulation,” the EU’s Passenger Compensation Regulation. A recent European Court of Justice decision narrowed their definition of force majeure exceptions to airlines’ responsibilities for stranded passengers in the European Union.

(FLEW ghast WRECKED eh fair ORD noong.)

Kapitalpolster, Kapitaldecke

“Capital cushion,” “capital blanket.” The former is an informal and the latter a formal way of referring to the money a bank holds in reserve to cover its wagers, reserves which tended to fall dangerously low during deregulation but are now recovering. Deutsche Bank for example moved from <6% to 8% “core” capitalization in the past year. A bank with insufficient capital held in reserve is apparently said to have “thin capitalization” in English, whereas in German you would say its capital blanket is too short.

(Cop ee TALL pollster,   cop ee TALL deck eh.)


Separation banks.” Germany’s ruling coalition has indicated that it wants to pass legislation that prevents banks from speculating with money from savings accounts. ZDF’s Valerie Haller said this would split today’s universal German banks into two entities under one roof: one for “consumer business” and one for “risk business” (probably “commercial banking” and “investment banking” in English). If the laws are in fact drafted and then pass, the new rules would come into force two years from now.

Update on 5 Feb 2013: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet has announced it will start putting together “a comprehensive bank regulation package” on Wed. 6 Feb 2013. They say it will include civil and criminal punishments for managers whose assumption of risk endangers their institutions, will separate “speculative banking” from “customer banking” and will require banks to have emergency plans in place in case of worst-case scenarios.

Update on 7 Feb 2013: They did it. On Wed. 6 Feb 2013 Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) announced the proposals in his characteristically clear, reasonable, reliable-sounding way. The opposition criticized that the new banking regulations are late and don’t go far enough. “Too late and too vague,” said the SPD’s chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück, who said he submitted a proposal to separate universal banks six months ago. About ten large banks in Germany will be affected by the new rules.

(TRENN bonk en.)

“Weltbürger, Wutbürger oder Passivbürger”?

World citizens, fury citizens or passive citizens“? 30 Jan is the anniversary of Hitler’s lawful accession to power via structural weaknesses in Germany’s first democratic government, known as the Weimar Republic. Discussion and analysis of whether Germany’s current democracy is structurally strong enough to resist international and national erosion factors included the commentary that a democracy requires sufficient numbers of democratic citizens who participate in it. Former Volkswagen C.E.O. Carl Hahn also said that citizens who travel and see non-democracies for themselves will prefer democratic governments to the alternatives, and that the best stability for a democracy depends on how well it educates and communicates values to the next generation.

(VELT burgher,   VOOT burgher   ode er   poss EVE burgher?)

Erfahrung, Entdeckung, Gestaltung

“Experience, discovery, creation.” Gerald Hüther researches brains in Göttingen and talked about (non-extreme cases of) ADHD recently on ZDF heute journal. He emphasized that children are in a development process and said they require experience, that not getting enough of the right experiences and too much of the wrong experiences can lead to ADHD symptoms. “There may never have been a time when children had so few opportunities to show what they can do, to work together with others to solve tasks and problems.” He said in schools that are getting it right “children learn to set off together and discover things or create things or, even more important, to work together to handle/take care of something [sich um etwas kümmern]. Children want to be important. Boys especially. I think that’s why boys have more problems with ADHD, because in contemporary society they scarcely have any opportunities left to simply show that they can do things, that they are important.” When asked to suggest solutions for parents who might not be able to send their children to the most ideal schools, Hüther said one thing caregivers can do is think about what they can undertake together with children, “not so much hobbies as working together with children to handle/take care of something/fix an issue. Going together with children on expeditions of discovery, creating together with the children. Kids who are in the Scouts have lower incidences of ADHD. Kids who live in rural areas where there’s lots to do, where they can work with others to take care of something, have lower rates of ADHD.”

(Er FAR oong,   ent DECK oong,   ge SHTOLT oong.)

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