Sich ein genaueres Bild machen

“To make yourself a more detailed/precise picture.” When German politicians are photographed flying over a flood or hurricane looking out the airplane window, they are “making themselves a picture” of the phenomenon.

In a more positive-sounding example, the troika put together from the E.U. Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund that audits the austerity measures of financially strapped member states’ governments before allowing them to borrow more money is now being audited itself by the E.U. Parliament. Particularly the M.E.P.’s from countries subject to the troika are examining their work in detail, with criticism and questions and reporting back to their home newspapers.

(ZICHH   eye n   geh n OW! air ess    BILLED   mochh en.)

“Gerüchte verbreitend”

“Rumormongering,” for which Chinese bloggers are being sent to prison in new ways. China’s new internet rules permit the arrest of people who use blogs or Weibo microblogging (Twitter has been blocked in China) to e.g. comment on the obvious and deadly air pollution or support Bürger-Bewegungen, burgher movements, such as the one that dared to demand party functionaries publish how rich they are.

Tagesschau.de reporter Christine Adelhardt said,

“What’s a rumor is of course defined by the Party. And thus the new rules are becoming a free pass to gag critics. The Communist Party is worried about its opinion superiority [Meinungshoheit] in the internet and its power monopoly in the country.”

Her report is so well-written that it’s difficult-in-a-good-way to translate:

Was ein Gerücht ist, das bestimmt selbstverständlich die Partei. So werden die neuen Regeln zu einem Freibrief1, um Kritiker mundtot2 zu machen. Die Kommunistische Partei furchtet um ihre Meinungshoheit3 im Netz und ihre Machtmonopol im Land.”

(Geh R-R-R-Ü chh teh   furb RYE tend. )

1  Charter, get-out-of-jail-free card, free pass, but not a letter of marque which is a Kaperbrief or ship-capturing permit

2  “Mouth-dead”; gagged, muzzled

3  Opinion superiority, high ground that allows those controlling it to be the ones who define opinion

Physikgesäubert vs. chemiegesäubert

“Cleaned by physics vs. cleaned by chemistry.” In the late 1990’s, to this tourist, it appeared that U.S. appliances were designed so that ever-more-sophisticated soaps and/or soap marketing would get laundry clean, while German appliances were designed to use physics to get laundry clean. The latter had gotten so good at it that for years they’d been competing by promising not cleaner clothes but to reduce the electricity and especially water required to do a load of wash.

The fabrics in clothing sold in 1990’s Germany were much higher quality than the kleenex clothes sold in the U.S.A.: thicker, stronger, less likely to wrinkle. At the time I thought this was because German consumers complained before purchases more, both to each other and to the stores*, but perhaps it was also due to post-purchase complaining after clothes designed to be worn twice and soap-laundered dissatisfied chatty consumers rather egregiously when worn four times and agitation-laundered.

In both countries, water in rural creeks and rivers formed persistent foam that did look like soap bubbles, originally white but turning yellow with dust as it was carried downstream. But friends said this was caused not by household soaps but by artificial fertilizers in runoff from farmers’ fields.

(Fizz EEK geh ZOY bat   vair seuss   chhem EE geh ZOY bat.)

*   “Are you trying to verarsch me with that see-through, pilly, short-fiber cotton?”

Marcel Reich-Ranicki

Marcel Reich-Ranicki met his wife Theophila in the Warsaw ghetto. They escaped together, walking away from a freight train, and were hidden for years by friends and strangers. But the rest of his family was killed by Nazis in World War II. Yet after the war and, as tagesschau.de said, after having witnessed the complete breakdown of the ethics of the German people, Mr. Reich-Ranicki decided to live in Germany and pursue a life devoted to literature there. He was a literary editor at Die Zeit and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, among others, and discovered television late in life where he contributed wonderfully to, as many have said after his death this month at the age of 93, the education of the German people, “Volksbildung.” His television show “The Literary Quartett” was watched by millions each week. His polite public refusal of the German Television Award in 2008 is popular YouTube viewing to this day:

“Ladies and gentlemen. In my life, and in the fifty years I’ve spent in Germany—a bit more than fifty all told, I spent my youth in Germany as well, in Berlin. In those many years I have received many literary prizes. Very many. They included the highest ones, such as the Goethe prize, the Thomas Mann prize, and some others. And I always said thank you for these prizes, as you should, and, please forgive me when I speak openly: it didn’t present any difficulties to me! To say thank you for these prizes! But today I’m in a very bad situation. I must react somehow to this prize I have received. And [?] said to me, please, please, please, don’t say anything too rough! Yes. (Laughter.) Truthfully. I don’t want to aggrieve anyone, insult or hurt anyone, no. I don’t want to do that. But I would also like to say very openly that I will not accept this prize.”

Apparently he concluded each Literary Quartett episode with a quote from Bertold Brecht: “Und so sehen wir betroffen den Vorhang zu und alle Fragen offen.” This can be translated as “and so we see, deeply moved, the curtain closed and all questions open,” yet if Fragen were not capitalized it would completely change the meaning of the sentence, turning it into the preface “and everyone openly questioning” anything that followed his show. ZDF heute journal’s Marietta Slomka said Mr. Reich-Ranicki is also said to have said, “I don’t want to bore myself.”

Update on 01 Jun 2014: The city of Frankfurt/Main held a celebration in the Paulskirche commemorating what would have been Marcel Reich-Ranicki’s 94th birthday. Some of the speeches will be printed in the Feuilleton of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 02 Jun 2014.

Auf dem reichen Auge blind

Blind in the rich eye,” a punning headline for a Zeit article about Bayern Munich soccer club president Uli Hoeneß that reminded readers Bavaria is the state with the least number of tax auditors per capita and the least number of audits per auditor (29 audits per 100,000 taxpayers in 2011). Taxes are still collected state-by-state in Germany, not by a central federal office like the USA’s IRS.

“Steep theses,” “sometimes tending toward polemics” this review said but also that the 2013 book Die Selbstbediener: Wie Bayerische Politiker sich den Staat zur Beute machen (“Serving themselves: How Bavarian politicians make the state their booty”) by Speyer professor Hans Herbert von Arnim started the recent discussion about the Bavarian CSU party (which has monopolized their state gubmint for fifty years and is also the only state party to join national-level ruling coalitions, such as Angela Merkel’s current government CDU/CSU + FDP). People are still shocked by the 500 million euros recently discovered in Uli Hoeneß’s Swiss bank accounts and by the number of Bavarian MP’s (17, no 30, no 79) subsequently discovered to have taken advantage of loopholes in a 2000 nepotism law to hire their relatives at government expense. Von Arnim says the nepotism is just the tip of the iceberg for upcoming Bavarian parliamentary scandals.

Other emerging facts that shocked this week included: that the Bavarian state parliament members (CSU monopoly) complained loudest about southern European countries takin’ all our money yet paid themselves the highest income of all the German state MP’s, at 10,200 euros/month before taxes. Von Arnim says this is possible because of a lack of transparency in Bavarian state budgeting which other German states have deliberately prevented by passing separate rules governing important financial issues such as legislator compensation. He criticizes insufficient transparency and controlling in Bavaria’s very large budget, which is the size of several other German states’ combined.

How can corruption like this happen? Recent angry op-eds said the newly discovered nepotistic politicians aren’t exactly Raffke (Berlin slang from ~1920 for a greedy grabber) but that after a party is in power for a long time its members’ mentality can shift. Politicians in the party no longer orient their moral sense on what’s right and wrong, but instead on what the other politicians are doing and, eventually, toward what’s possible. Politicians in other parties of the monopolized government begin to think the same way as well. So far the only party in the Bavarian parliament not discovered to have employed family members after 2000 is the FDP, which wasn’t in the state parliament because it lacked the votes.

(Ow! f   dame   REICH en   ow! ga    blinned.)

 

Kumulus und Kunnilingus

What German university students complain become the main preoccupations of the rare few who are lucky enough to become German college professors, in a process not unlike deification. No one can check you or make you work after that rapture, students said, and the money is great. In the 1990’s physics students told me there was a tendency for new professors to buy an ultralight aircraft, cancel their monthly office hour and the lectures they promised during the interviews, and spend their days circling high above the countryside, looking down on everyone. I’m sure the situation has improved since then.

I shall regret this terrible post but it’s too funny. The insight into university institutions new and old provided by the controversy around Annette Schavan reminded me of this old joke.

(COOM you loose   oond   COON ee ling goose.)

auf dem rechten Auge blind

Blind in the right eye. The accusation that for years state and federal German police failed to catch right-wing neonazi serial killers because of internal police failures that have yet to be clarified. At least three, now four, high-level heads have rolled so far. Mysterious documents were mysteriously shredded. The investigating committee now claims the shredded files have been recreated, reviewed and weren’t mysterious.

Apparently some German police have been paying people in the neonazi scene for information for years. This has undermined evidence when neonazis were put on trial, made it difficult to outlaw neonazi political parties and dropped a lot of money into neonazi treasuries, while failing to provide good information about e.g. neonazi serial killers.

(OW! F day m reck ten OW! geh blinn d.)

Fusel

Low-quality moonshine. Also: airplane fuel.

(FOO zill.)

Plörre

Bad beer or wine. Nasty brew. Swill, dishwater, gnat’s pizzle, camel micturation, acid rain.

(PLERR ah.)

müffig

Fusty, frowsty, moldy, muggy, musty, unventilated; in the case of beer, skunky beer.

(MEFF ick.)

abgestanden

“Off stood.” Beer in glasses that has stood around for too long. Its foamy top has begun to subside!

(OB geh STOND en.)

Griesgram

Bellyacher, crab, crank, curmudgeon, grumbler, sourpuss.

(GREEZ grom.)

österreichischer Schmäh

The Austrian, um, schmäh. Dark, usually delivered with a smile. An oppositional attitude. Can be a bit misanthropic. May include surface-level humor and  life-affirming melancholy.

(UHST er rike ish er SHMAY.)

missgönnerisch

Begrudgingly, unwillingly, reluctantly, resentfully, enviously, bitterly, indignantly, and, oh yes, with a feeling of ill will.

(Miss GUN er ish.)

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