Blaupause

To this foreigner, Blaupause looks like “blue break,” which might indicate a nice use of free time in a well-situated beer garden because “blue” means drinking in Germany. But the word actually means “blueprints.”

New ESM head Jeroen Dijsselbloem angered some small countries whose economies are dependent on a large banking sector or at least threatened by large bank failures when he indicated that elements found to work in what the EU does in Cyprus—reduction of a banking sector that had grown to 7x the size of the country’s economy, reregulation of the remaining banks—could be applied to other Member States that get in too much trouble.

About Cyprus: German news reports that, during the past fortnight of negotiations when large transfers from Cypriot banks were supposed to be frozen, over a billion euros were nevertheless transferred off the island by foreign banks, mostly in London. A whistleblower list has appeared containing names of parliament members, local officials and associated companies and organizations that received millions in loans between 2007 and 2012 from the country’s two largest banks (Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank, plus Hellenic Bank in only one instance so far) but did not have to pay the full loans back. The only Cypriot political parties not represented on that list were a social democratic party and an environmental party, fwiw. A second whistleblower list is expected to appear containing names of large deposit holders who managed to get their money off the island just in time.

The corruption details cited in the Spiegel article were reported by the Cyprus news portal 24h.com.cy, Greek journalist Kostas Vaxevanis, and the Greek newspapers Ethnos and Kathimerini.

(Bl ow! Pow! Zah.)

Sektsteuer

“Sparkling wine tax.” In 1902 Kaiser Wilhelm created a champagne tax to help finance construction of the Kiel canal.

(ZECKED shtoy ah.)

Brunsbüttelsche Schleusenschienen

“Brunsbüttel lock rails.” The world’s busiest artificial canal is said to be the Kiel Canal from Brünsbuttel to Kiel that allows ships to bypass Denmark. The canal was first built from 1887 to 1895, though many of the key components still in use were completed later, just in time for WWI. Brunsbüttel’s hundred-year-old lock gates urgently need repair, probably rapid replacement in fact, but this is difficult due to heavy traffic on the canal, the scale of the project and the fact that the work has had to be done underwater by divers at visibility of 1–2 cm. The locks’ sliding gates (Schleusentore) are hung from steel rails (Stahlschienen) and driven by toothed gears and chains on concrete and steel grooves installed on the ocean floor. These rails and grooves urgently need to be fixed and don’t always work well anyway as ship propellors and other excrescences can knock the gates out of place. The Brunsbüttel locks were closed, drained and fixed for a week this winter, forcing ships to take the 800 km-longer route around Denmark from the North Sea to the Baltic, but much more needs to be done. The canal has two locks at either end, and a fifth lock is planned to be built in Brunsbüttel to keep the canal open during repairs.

(BROONZ en bütt ellll scheh   SHLOYZ en sheen en.)

Parlamentarisches Pokern

“Parliamentary pokering,” brinksmanship on the part of some politicians from countries with bartering and/or bluffing cultures.

(Parl ah ment ARR ish ess   POKE ern.)

Piemont-Kirsche

The famous Piemont cherry® found floating in highly alcoholic cherry liqueur and surrounded by good dark chocolate in German Mon Chéri bon-bons. The Piemont cherry does not come from Italy though, and it has its own entertaining chapter in the charming book Hessen verfälscht (“Hessian Fakes”).

(Pee AYE moant   KIRR sha.)

Besichtigungsbauwerk

“Structure built for viewing purposes.”

Investigations are still ongoing into the March 2009 collapse of the Cologne city archive, though it’s pretty clear that subway tunnel work caused the tragedy. The five-year statute of limitations will expire in only one year. Engineers and the district attorney are now working together to find out how exactly what occurred, including building a fascinating “viewing structure,” 30 meters deep, into the relevant subway support walls and possibly shifting soil layers. Which is good inter alia because the massive stone walls of Cologne’s 800-year-old cathedral, one of the world’s few ships of time, which were strong enough to survive WWII bombing may be being damaged by vibrations from a new subway tunnel that went into operation in December 2012.

Update on 18 Jan 2014: Cologne prosecutors filed charges against ~100 people, including employees of the office responsible for the project, Cologne Transport Services [Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe, KVB], and of three construction companies and one subcontractor firm, who were working as inspectors, planners, “projecters” and construction workers.

The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger said the scenario currently favored by prosecutors for causing the collapse of Germany’s most important municipal archive is that there was a hole in the wall of the subway tunnel under construction, through which water continuously got into the tunnel, creating a hole between the tunnel and the historical archive.

Two people died in the collapse. Ultimately, about 95% of the (unique, irreplaceable) historical documents kept in the archive were recovered from the wet sinkhole, Spiegel.de reported, but it is estimated that it will take about forty years to restore them. The Cologne archive had ~30 kilometers of shelves. About 60,000 of the recovered Cologne documents have been distributed to multiple archives in Germany for restoration and digitization.

Update on 24 Feb 2014: Charges have been filed, but it may take years for the trial to start as engineering investigations continue. Spiegel.de said they’re now focussed on “lamella 11” in an underground “huge construction” called a “slotted wall” or “slurry wall” [Schlitzwand]. After a sudden flood of water bursting in from underneath was ruled out by an expert [a so-called hydraulischer Grundbruch], the current scenario is that lamella 11 may have been damaged during final tunneling work, “but although the foreman should have noticed it no notification was made to construction management” because, it is assumed, they wanted to be done. There was serious cost pressure to finish, among other pressures. In this scenario the records documenting the work may also have been manipulated shortly thereafter. Divers are now using the Besichtigungsbauwerk to search for more evidence, presumably contending with even more interesting pressure differentials as Seattlites discovered after the breakdown of our giant tunneling machine in December 2013.

(Beh ZICHH tee goongs BOW verk.)

Doschd

“Dozhd,” an “optimistic” independent Russian television channel. Its name means “rain” in Russian. Started as an Internet-only channel in April 2010, Dozhd became known internationally after their in-depth coverage of protests following the 2011 Duma election. German Wikipedia says their content is two-thirds live reporting and discussion, plus concerts, readings, experimental programs, documentaries, video art &c. There is an affiliated radio channel Serebrjanny Doschd (Себебрянный дождь,”Silver Rain”).

Update on 08 Feb 2014: An interview on Australian ABC Radio National’s Media Report mentioned that despite recent Russian legislation recriminalizing defamation, making it possible to blacklist websites for carrying the very vague “unlawful content” and redefining treason so broadly “that it could be now that any information shared with an international journalist is an act of espionage,” as host Richard Aedy said, the critical broadcaster Doschd has been suppressed by applying huge pressure to the cable operators connecting it to viewers to drop the channel. Guest Norman Hermant said Doschd was perhaps Russia’s most independent broadcaster, disseminating primarily by internet but also to consumers’ televisions by cable and satellite networks. “It’s now been left to an internet stream. Now an internet stream in Russia is very good for people who want to see it in Moscow and a few other big cities. But the vast majority of Russians still get their news and information from broadcast media.”

Anlegergerecht

“In a way fair for investors.” Since June 2012 new rules have been in place for the investment side of German banks, which must now, according to the 4 Mar 2013 F.A.Z., “disclose fees, keep a record of what is said during investment consultations and give a copy of this record to the consulting clients. Investment advisors must be able to show documentation proving that they have been trained to have expertise in this area and that they have professional liability insurance.” Critics of the “gray capital market” say these rules are insufficient.

(On LAY grr geh RECT.)

Eierlegende Wollmilchsau

“Egg-laying wool milk sow,” a product that can do everything.

(EYE er laig end eh   VOLL milchh zow!.)

Marmarameer

Sea of Marmara, called the Propontis in ancient times, connecting the Aegean to the Black Sea through Istanbul. Amid Istanbul’s thousands of mosques, fascinating bridges and the most imposing ancient stone defensive walls I’ve ever seen.

(Mar MAR ah mair.)

Tausendsassa

Jack of all trades, renaissance man. Also called a “Wunderwuzzi” in German.

(T OW! zend zahss ah. VOO n dare VOO tsee.)

Tschingderassabum

Sounds made by a marching band.

(Ching dare ASSA boom.)

Geflügeltes Wort

“Winged word.” A meme, popular saying. Wikipedia says the phrase comes from the poetry of Homer (ἔπεα πτερόεντα, epea pteroenta).

(Geh FLUE g ell tess   VORT.)

“Kein Buch mit sieben Siegeln”

“No books with seven seals.” Slogan for a movement being shared and discussed at the 2013 Leipzig Book Fair that publishes simplified-language versions of adult books to entertain adults with reading difficulties and help them practice reading. As someone who learned to read German as an adult by forcing my way through children’s books, stopping to look up words on every page, I really appreciate this project! It should also open new markets for publishing companies, in and outside Germany.

(K eye n   BOOCHH   mit   ZEE ben   ZEEG ell n.)

Bierkastengross

“About as big as a case of beer,” how a German newspaper described current desktop 3D printers in its recent examination of “direct manufacturing,” with profiles of MakerBot and Shapeways.

(Beer CAST en gross.)

Fusion der Zivilisationen

“Fusion of civilizations,” what Singaporean writer Kishore Mahbubani predicts will happen in lieu of Samuel Huntington’s notorious clash of civilizations.

(Foo zee OWN   derrr   tsee vee lee zot zee OWN en.)

“Den kleinen Kreis der Kenner zu einem grossen Kreis der Kenner zu machen”

Much-loved words of Bertold Brecht in the 1930’s. He said, “What is democratic is turning the small group of people ‘in the know’ into a large group of people ‘in the know.'”

(Dane   KLY nen   k rice   dare   kenner   tsoo   eye nem   GROSS en   k rice   dare   kenner   tsoo   MOCHH en.)

Singvogelstimme

“Songbird voice.” From a charming review of a new volume of the translated and commented collected works of Czech poet Vladimir Holan who, writes the reviewer, managed to maintain standards during his country’s most difficult times (1937 to 1954), adding “who cannot benefit from the luxury of having this bilingual edition and marvel at the immense opportunities for play in the succinct, richly colored, singing Czech language; you have an œuvre before you that countered the ravages of the genociders and suppressors with an almost defiant, tragi-beautiful songbird’s voice.”

(ZING foh gell SHTIM eh.)

Monarchische Kirche vs. demokratische Kirche

“Monarchic church versus democratic church.” German schools have to teach religion by law, and apparently this is the kind of discussion students are having about the Catholic church there.

(Moan ARCHH ish ah   kir chh ah   verse ooss   dame oh CROT ish ah   kir chh ah.)

“Wer als möglicher Papst ins Konklave geht, kommt als Kardinal wieder raus”

“S/he who goes into the conclave as a possible Pope, comes back out as a cardinal.” Old Vatican rule of thumb.

(VAIR   alss   meg lichh err   POPST   inss   con CLAVA   gate,   come t   alss   car din AL   vee der   rrrrauss.)

Störsender

“Interference transmitters,” jamming devices, have been set up around the Sixtine Chapel to prevent mobile phone communications.

(SHTƏR zenda.)

Netzentgeltbefreiung

“Network fee exemption.” All electricity consumers in Germany have been sharing the costs to build alternative power sources and now to build new power lines to connect alternative power sources, such as the wind parks out in the North Sea, to the power grid. All electricity consumers in Germany? Well, not quite. Businesses that consume a lot of electricity have been getting exemptions from the government, and those businesses’ unpaid share of the costs has then been redistributed among everyone else, mostly private individuals and families. On 06 Mar 2013, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court overturned the rebates to high-volume electricity-consuming businesses from the shared costs of building the new power lines, saying the Energiewirtschaftsgesetz [Energy Industry Act] does not allow this exemption.

Update on 14 Jul 2013: The E.U. is investigating the legality of high-electricity-consuming businesses’ exemptions to the German EEG-Umlage and Netzentgelt (this investigation was started in March). If the competition commissioner decides the rebates were impermissible, they might even be eliminated with retroactive effect, leaving companies owing millions of euros. State aid to companies in Europe must be approved by the E.U. commission, said Manager Magazin, to prevent competitive distortions.

Update on 26 Aug 2013: There’s still a paucity of power lines connecting the North Sea wind power parks to the mainland grid. Two of three finished German windparks are connected to the mainland. Not only are power line builders behind on connecting existing ocean windmills, but the maps in German television news show there’s so much more area there that has been zoned for windparks yet to be built, which will also have to be connected up. They’re looking for investors. A “Cuxhavener Appell” was signed by investors in North Sea German wind parks seeking planning security. Chinese companies might be very good at building this infrastructure.

Update on 13 Dec 2013: The E.U. Commission has initiated proceedings against Germany’s EEG-Umlage because of the hundreds of rebates to it that were granted to high-power-consumption businesses. Multiple countries filed complaints about it in Brussels, saying the German exemptions to its own law distorted competition in the domestic European market. The formal start of the proceedings is scheduled for Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013. Experts writing opinions for the E.U. competition authority’s investigation said the rebates to companies were a problem but the payments to small renewable-energy feeders contributing electricity to the system were “not overcompensated,” meaning fine, Süddeutsche.de reported. A German Green party member of the European Parliament accused E.U. energy commissar Günther Oettinger (German CDU) of using the E.U. competition authority’s (understandable!) problem with CDU-granted exemptions to the EEG-Umlage to try to endanger Germany’s entire investment program in renewable power sources, rather than work with Brussels to eliminate the sole sticking point, one that his party would be rather well-placed to fix. Süddeutsche.de said there was great opposition in the European Parliament to the Commission’s announcement that it would try to declare Germany’s entire Renewable Energies Act an impermissible subvention, rather than just the exemptions granted to it “which Berlin has steadfastly refused to touch.” Mr. Oettinger should send a clear message to Brussels that Berlin is now willing to talk about reducing the exorbitant exemptions, the Green party said.

Update on 14 Dec 2013: Spiegel.de reported that E.U. competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia is trying to hurry up and change the E.U.’s Energiewende model before the E.U. election in spring 2014. He will announce plans on Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013, they said, for auctioning off renewable energy subventions (“market premium” model) rather than guaranteeing them (“fixed premium”). His preferred model has been shown to result in the E.U. in countries’ building fewer renewable energy generation sites than planned.

Spiegel.de said it saw internal E.U. documents indicating the following troublesome European components in the competition commissioner’s plan for changing E.U. renewable energy policy. The promised fixed prices for purchasing clean electricity for a defined number of years that have resulted in so much renewable energy construction in Germany are “a thorn in the eye” to Mr. Almunia and his Competition office, said Spiegel.de. Instead, he wants electricity to be purchased from renewable energy generator operators at market prices plus a premium decided in an auction-type process. To keep the premium as low as possible, construction of new renewable-source generators is to be opened up to competitive bidding, with the contract awarded to the builder offering to accept the lowest premium on the electricity their site will produce. Spiegel.de pointed out this adds obvious uncertainty to the apparent profitability of building new renewable energy generators, large and small, but also less obvious uncertainty, such as: companies that win these auctions could go bankrupt, leaving the rewewable energy infrastructure construction project and/or electricity seller high and dry in future years.

According to its new coalition government agreement, Germany had planned to switch to the electricity market price + premium model, but not before 2017 and then “only if certain relevant pilot projects were successful.”

Spiegel.de said some members of the E.U. Commission felt Mr. Almunia’s “market premium” model was suitable for Europe, now, and some felt it may be suitable for countries in which the switch to renewable sources [Energiewende] is well-established but not for countries starting out on that path. In his draft guideline, which he’s trying to push through before the springtime election, he changed a definition that might make Germany’s success in this area an obstacle for member states attempting to replicate it: the definition of a mature technology was changed from a certain percentage of the electricity consumed by a country to a certain percentage of the electricity generated by the entire European Union. “Solar, wind (on land and sea), hydropower and biogas plants already exceed Mr. Almunia’s limit” in the E.U., Spiegel.de said, meaning that “in future they could only be supported [subventioned] by competitive bidding” even in countries just starting down that path, even in countries less wealthy than Germany.

In addition to creating a high impediment for countries in which technologies redefined as “market-mature” have not yet been built to competitive levels, Spiegel.de quoted opponents to the measure as arguing, this “direct marketing” model allegedly doesn’t work as promised. “Small electricity operators will need a marketer to sell their electricity,” and this marketer could go bankrupt, after which the operators couldn’t sell their electricity and would lose their right to a subvention [Förderung]. Banks would see the increased risk and raise interest rates on loans for constructing renewable energy sources. Building new renewable generators would become less attractive, meaning the market premium would have to go up for construction to occur: in the end, this model could prove more expensive than Germany’s current system (now being copied by over a dozen E.U. member states Spiegel.de said) while resulting in less construction of the new infrastructure.

(Nets ent GELT beh fry oong.)

Kernkraftwerksbeseitigung

“Nuclear power plant elimination.” Japanese journalists and engineers are travelling to Germany to see how nuclear power plants are being dismantled and disposed of there. This ZDF video for example shows metal holders for fuel rods that have been kept in water for years, then soaked in acid, hand-cleaned with high-pressure water, air and/or sand, and placed into temporary storage. There are no permanent storage sites in Germany for nuclear waste. The tour guide explained that some plant parts will be stored for at least fifty years before they can be taken apart.

(KERRRN croft verks beh ZITE ee goong.)

“Eine kluge Erinnerungskultur”

“A smart memory culture,” what every society needs to devise in order to teach new generations about the past. What history shall we share, how will we communicate it, how will we refresh it? The theme of this year’s Buber-Rosenzweig award was “Giving the future a memory” [“Der Zukunft ein Gedächtnis“]. In her interesting speech at the ceremony, Dr. Charlotte Knobloch talked about “eine kluge Erinnerungskultur.” She quoted Hessian general district attorney Fritz Bauer, whose hard work made the Auschwitz trials happen, as saying “Nothing belongs to the past. Everything is present-day and can become the future again” [“Nichts gehört der Vergangenheit an. Alles ist Gegenwart und kann wieder Zukunft werden.”] and called for mehr Mut! More courage.

(Eye neh   clue geh   err IN err oongs cool tour.)

Bärbeissig

“Bear bitey.” A very important force behind the amazing success of the German Green party over the last three decades was Joschka Fischer, a high-school dropout and one of the world’s most amazing politicians. The director of a documentary about Joschka described his relationship with the media as “bärbeissig” but also said, “It wasn’t always easy, but it was always open.” When the Greens were governing Germany in a coalition with the SPD, and Joschka Fischer was foreign minister, I remember my surprise at how he would answer the questions journalists asked—not providing an answer to a different question entirely, as I had gotten used to since Reagan—and yet not make the situation worse. While speaking openly and well, he makes situations better.

There’s a new book by Joschka Fischer that came out in 2011 about the war in Iraq, which occurred while the Greens and SPD were in charge. Its title is taken from something he told Donald Rumsfeld: “Excuse me, I’m not convinced.”

16-second video on YouTube:

“You have to make the case. And to make the case in the democracy you must convince by yourself. Excuse me, I am not convinced. This is my problem. And I cannot go to the public and say, well, let’s go to war because there are reasons and so on, and I don’t believe in them!”

(Bear BICE ichh.)

Sparen nach Rasenmäher-Methode

Lawnmower savings method,” i.e. the USA’s unusual choice to implement across-the-board spending cuts on itself. On Tuesday, 5 Mar 2013, Jeremy Keehn wrote in Harper’s week-in-review,

“President Barack Obama blamed the sequestration on the intransigence of House Republicans; House Republicans blamed Obama’s desire for new tax revenues in addition to budget cuts and Senate Democrats’ failure to pass a replacement bill; House Democrats blamed House Republicans for spitefulness and Obama for underestimating House Republicans’ spitefulness; Mitt Romney blamed Obama for poor leadership; and lexicographers blamed the prevalence in the media of the noun ‘sequester’ on the complexity of the more proper ‘sequestration.'”

(SHPAW wren   nochh   ROZ en MAY err   met ODE eh.)

Das Share-Economy, Shareconomy

B2B sharing, the theme for next week’s CeBIT in Hanover.

“Denk mal nach”

Means both “monument afterward” and the more obvious “give it some thought (for once).” Scrawled in chalk on the pavement at the protests before the largest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall, sections of which are to be torn down to create accessways to new luxury apartment buildings in the former “killing zone.” Berliners were very upset at destruction of this last, art-covered piece of the Wall; they protested and the teardown was temporarily halted after removal of one section. At the protest, the handmade signs, chalk graffiti and interview comments of artists and demonstraters were excellent. Protesters also created and painted a replacement section out of Styrofoam to fill the new hole.

(Dengk moll nochh.)

Abzockerei

“Ripoffery,” word used in an exciting Swiss voters’ referendum to limit bonuses, and not just in banks! In Switzerland. The election is Sunday, 3 Mar 2013. Proponents of the referendum want performance-based salaries and for executives’ compensation to have to be approved by shareholders, the actual owners of the companies concerned. Pro-referendum posters say things like “Compensation excesses harm pension funds + Swiss old-age and survivors insurance + the people’s economy.”

(Ob TSOCK err eye.)

“Empört Euch!”

The capitalism-critical essay written in 2010 by Stéphane Hessel (orig. French title: “Indignez-vous!”; in English, “Time for Outrage”) who died this week aged 96. Born in Berlin, he became a French citizen in 1939, fought the Nazis in the Résistance and was captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp, from which he escaped. After the war, he helped with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was a diplomat and writer.

The sequel to Hessel’s 2010 essay is “Engagiert Euch!” (“Engagez-vous!”, “Get Involved!”), written in 2011 with Gilles Vanderpooten. Wikipedia says these essays helped inspire people in the Occupy movement, among many others.

(Emp ƏRT   oychh.)

Bourguiba Spracheninstitut

Language institute in Tunisia where Salafists recently tried to halt filming of a “Harlem Shake” video, actually fighting with students and waving but not wielding a Molotov cocktail. After Education Minister Abdellatif Abid (Ettakatol party, a secular center-left ally of Ennahda, Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party) threatened to expell students or fire staff involved in Harlem Shake videos this week, the Tunisian Ministry of Education’s website was hacked and a call went out via social media for a giant H.S. on Friday, March 1.

(Boor GWEE ba   SHPROCHH en in stee toot.)

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