A “spying spiral,” falling into an espionage arms race. Süddeutsche Zeitung echoed Chancellor Merkel when they wrote, on 10 Jul 2014,

Despite everything: Permanently spying on each other is wasteful.

“Intelligence agencies are always insatiable. They take as much money, personnel and technology as they can get. Whether this really makes the world a safer place is hard to prove. Of course there are threats, such as international terrorism, against which Germany must effectively defend itself. Including by working with the U.S.A. The energy spent on permanently spying on each other in addition to all that is wasted energy.”

On 16 Jul 2014, Chancellor Merkel’s spokesperson said it again:

“It seems to the Chancellor, and surely to the entire federal government as well, that it’s not sensible for everyone to be spying on everyone, as if we were still in the Cold War. Especially not among friends and allies.”

(SHPAY shpee RAH lah.)

Die „Sonne“

The Sun, a new climate-change and deep-sea research vessel that left its construction shipyard this week for a year of testing. In 2015, she’s scheduled to replace an eponymous predecessor built in 1969. The newest Sonne is praised for her high mileage and low pollutant emissions.

(Dee   ZONN ah.)

„Zum Schutz des Kundenerlebnisses“

“To protect your customers’ experience.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung’s translation of part of the C.E.O. of Netflix’s carefully formulated blog post carefully indicating that Netflix now has to secretly pay off countless intermediaries in the U.S.A. between its streamed content and its paying customers. If Netflix has to do this, presumably the other content providers do too, including companies too small to afford it. Netflix’s customers are also paying off some of the same intermediaries—a very small number of them—in order to get internet access.

The squeeze on content-providing companies apparently includes use of the following loophole: U.S. internet providers are claiming network neutrality while selling content providers more-direct inputs into their pipeline. It appears from the S.Z. article that U.S. internet providers are saying everything leaves their boxes at the same speed; they merely receive some folks’ data more indirectly than other folks’ data. Pay them off and your content won’t bounce through as many service providers [Dienstleister] before it has been officially received.

The squeeze on internet content consumers: One third of all American consumers have only one internet provider to choose from, the Süddeutsche informed its readers, and another 37% have only two providers. In the technology Hochburg known as Seattle: perhaps 2.3. Earlier this year Seattle’s new mayor canceled the city’s plans to build municipal broadband, and my I.S.P. almost doubled my bill shortly afterward.

Apparently groups who are partially responsible for the inadequacy of broadband infrastructure construction in the U.S. can use this dearth to extract more money which they use to further impede broadband construction. And the agency nominally in charge, the F.C.C., seems to keep restricting its own ability to regulate.

(Tsoom   SHITZ   dess   CUNNED en eah LABE niss ess.)


Uniform plug.

The E.U. agreed on a universal adapter for recharging electric cars!

They’ve even chosen the model: in German it’s called the “Type 2” or “Mennekes” plug.

(EYE n heights SHTECK ah!)

Nachrichtendienstlicher Schattenhaushalt

A non-native speaker’s attempt to translate
“intelligence agencies’ black budget”
into German, after the non-native German speaker was
very impressed by the clarity of WashingtonPost.com’s
succinct presentation showing where ~$50 billion goes that the U.S. government allocates annually to agencies in its National Intelligence Program.

One reason the C.I.A. is the top recipient (at ~$14 billion annually) is because e.g. they’ve been modding aircraft and G.P.S.-controlled 500-pound smart bombs and giving them to e.g. the government of Colombia. This is also from an excellently explained WashingtonPost.com article, with a well-designed timeline of the history, map of the area, blueprint of the missile and scaled drawings showing the relative sizes of the aircraft and bombs used in the four-step attacks on the F.A.R.C.

(NOCHH richh ten DEENST lichh ah   SHOTTEN house halt.)

Einheitliches Handy-Ladekabel

“Common recharger.”

After compromising five years ago by having manufacturers voluntarily provide an extra U.S.B. phone recharger port in addition to their mutually incompatible plugs, the E.U. parliament has now reached a “provisional deal” for a mandatory common device that can recharge all mobile phones (and all tablet devices) sold in Europe, effective in three years. This requirement will be added to the radio equipment rules package that hasn’t been entirely negotiated yet. Before the three-year countdown can be started (estimated possibly March 2014) it must still be approved by the Member States’ governments and the European parliament’s plenum, and get past some officials from the Industry Committee [Industriekommission] thought to be against mandating universal chargers though their boss, Antonio Tajani, is for it. Officials from the Industry Committee would also be responsible for deciding which device would become the universal charger, said Süddeutsche.de.

(Eye n HEIGHT lichh ess   HEN dee   lodd ah cobb ell.)

Neues SEPA-Zahlungssystem

“New S.E.P.A. payment transfer system.”

A new bank transfer system for making payments is scheduled to go into effect in 33 European countries on 01 Feb 2014 for companies and associations and at a later date for individual people. S.E.P.A. transfers will use new 22-digit I.B.A.N. bank account numbers. There were concerns that some businesses hadn’t updated their forms in time to fit in the extra digits. On 24 Oct 2013 the Bundesbank warned that some firms were starting late and their mistakes could hurt their employees.

The new transfers between accounts in any of the 33 countries are supposed to cost no more than a domestic transfer and arrive no later than the next business day.

(NOY ess   ZAY pah   TSOLL oongs iss taym.)


“Dust sucking.” Starting September 2014, no household appliances can be sold in the E.U. that use >1600 W. In September 2017 that limit will be lowered to 900 W.

This is aimed at vacuum cleaners.

Effective Sept. 1, 2014, household appliances will also have to be labeled with simple symbols showing their power consumption, ranging from a green A for low electricity use to a red G for egregious.

The “Ecodesign Regulation” created exceptions for the following types of industrial-type vacuum cleaners, which sound funnier in German than in English:

Nasssauger, Saugroboter, akkubetriebene Staubsauger, Industriestaubsauger und Bohnermaschinen.”

“Wet suckers, sucking robots, battery-driven dust suckers, industrial dust suckers and Bohner machines.”

E.U. officials said vacuum cleaner manufacturers were consulted in advance, most models >1600 W have been sorted out already, and it’s not the size of their Watts, it’s how well they suck dust that counts.

(Sht OW! bzz OW! g en.)

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?”


A tatterdemalion carpet of many colors, a rag rug, a patchwork quilt. As a metaphor it means a medieval landscape of organically-grown legacy laws that vary unpredictably between numerous small zones (whose locations and borders may also be unpredictable). These countries are fun to visit and very instructive to the historian.

Though most modern economies are trying to make their laws simpler, more uniform and thus more predictable for businesspeople, some are not rationalizing their inherited lawscape and some are even heading in the opposite direction.

(FLECK en TEPP ichh.)


“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.)

Erfolgsmodelle sammeln

“To collect successful models.” E.g., the EU’s plan to implement Austria’s “youth guarantee” program to counter long-term unemployment in today’s young people. Looking around the EU and the world for government projects that work well, and then implementing similar projects in other countries.

(Er FOLLLGZ moe dell eh   ZOM ellln.)


“Cabinet drawers thinking.” Thinking in stereotypes, heuristics, shortcuts, biases, ruts.

In We, Robot: Skywalker’s Hand, Blade Runners, Iron Man, Slutbots, and How Fiction Became Fact, Mark Stephen Meadows wrote, “It appears that the ability to make stereotypes, generalizations, and snap judgments are all quite important to being both intelligent and stupid.”

(SHOE blod en DANE can.)

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