Sunday, November 02, 2008

Civilian Security Forces!?

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." Sen. Obama.

Now, historical precedents should tell us something, I believe. Did anyone hear of the Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse (KdA), for instance? What about the Blackshirts? Or the Sturmabteilung?

I thought the liberals were aghast at the idea of paramilitary services and left them to the "right wing nutjobs". Apparently not anymore.


Friday, October 03, 2008

This is getting a bit too creepy...

Could it be we hadn't seen things like that in the western world since, say, the mid '40s?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You've got to be kidding, FT

From the Financial Times "Republican legislators ripped into a $700bn financial rescue package backed by almost the entire US political establishment. "

Now:

- 94 Democrats, members of the party holding an overwhelming majority in the American House of Reporesentatives, voted against the package, included 5 committee chairmen

- the House (democratic) speaker, besides being unable to keep control of more than one third of her party's votes, thought it was a good idea to lunch herself in an aggressive speech right before the vote criticizing the very idea of a bailout, putting all the blame on the republicans (first video) and casually forgetting the prominent role of the democrats in refusing regulations on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae which could had avoided the subprime crisis (second video)

- Contrarily to McCain, Obama didn't even try to help the bill pass (NYT: "Aides to Mr. Obama said he had not directly reached out to try to sway any House Democrats who opposed the measure. ")

... and the republicans ripped into the package?

Monday, September 29, 2008

An Autumn afternoon walk in Bretzenheim

The light and the colors of Autumn, the houses and look of Bretzenheim:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Unassuming

German classes every day at 8.45 is not a light task, I can assure you... however, at 10.30 we get 20 minutes of a pause. After much searching, finally a place was found worth of the walk (and the occasional 50 cents of fine for getting back late...) . It's in Fort Malakoff, which is unassuming from outside (left) and unassuming from inside (right).










The Bar itself is unassuming (so much that, having gone there a half dozen times, I still have to catch the name of the place), with unassuming fa├žade (left), unassuming customers (except when the occasional first or second grade class parks in front of it, which happens surprisingly often) and, you bet, unassuming espresso... but then... try the apfelstrudel or the puddingbretze...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Igloos

A couple of days ago, Mainz demonstrated as the climate change might be affecting the city, but also that they will be ready for the next ice age, as the new polar compound stood proudly in Gutembergplatz.
No, seriously, it was a series of tents to host some kind of intercultural manifestation, but considering it was FIVE degrees this morning, one has to wonder...

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Here we are again... for the third time in my life, I try once again to learn German. After having signed with the Berlitz school here in Mainz for a course that never started and made me waste 2 whole months, eventually I signed up at the VolksHochSchule... will I manage this time to grasp at least the basics of this barbaric and hypercomplicated language? Ich weiss nicht...


The school (left) , located downtown near the Zitadelle and Fort Malakov, and the old style corridors of the school (right).








The classroom empty and with some of my colleagues. The group s incredibly varied, with people coming from 4 diferent continents and countries as Italy, Iran, Iraq, Chile, Hungary, Japan, Turkey, Greece, Philippines, Cambodia...







Kindergarden feelings: the sparrschwein (left) where people arriving late must deposit 1 euro and (right) an awesomely useful rigmarole to try and remember the insane rules of the language







The two teachers: Angelika (left) and Peter, who apparently has been an actor in the past and that indeed does show when he teaches, making him the funniest German teacher I ever met...

Monday, September 08, 2008

The night of the open churches

Once a year, the churches in Mainz (well, 18 of them) are kept open untill late at night, each organizing some music, reading or similar events. It was an interesting chance to give a peek to places of Mainz I hadn't been before and so, there I went. Eventually, I visited 12 out of the 15 open churches, stopped in my plan to visit all of them by the storm that struck the city at about 11pm... Here are the pictures from ten of them, St. Bonifaz is missing as it is a modern church whith little or nothing of note, while the rain was already pouring by the time I reached the Altmuensterkirche, preventing me to take pictures.

One note, however: while the protestant churches in Mainz are, as any protesta church, pretty bare, here also the catholic ones tend to be disadorned. That is mostly due the fact that just about all of them were bombed and burned down in 1944. What a little wonderful gem must have this city been before the war, one can only wonder...

S. Quintin (click to enlarge)










The Cathedral (St. Martin)




















St. Johannis










JohannisKapelle










St. Cristoph (what used to be the abside is still a small church, the rest was never rebuilt after WWII)














KarmeliterKloster










St. Peter










ChristusKirche











St. Emmeran (which, I discovered, is the Italian parish of Mainz and where I still have to understand why they have that kind of tent...)










St. Antonius










Sunday, September 07, 2008

How many times...

...Can people repeat something over the years before that becomes a meaningless mantra?" Following the democratic side of the presidential campaign, apparently a number higher than a lot and closer to infinite. In fact, googling for "republican failed policies" returns 1.060.000 results, "republican divisive politics" returns 517.000 hits. Not that all those hits are about democrats accusing the republicans of either or both, but an overwhelming majority definitely is. At least we know that for democrats, republicans are twice as failed than divisive... in a country that has Chapter 21 and personal failure in a venture is regarded as much less as a social stigma as it is in Euope, but rather as a wrong attempt on the path ro success, perhaps that is not all that bad.

Bu really, don't people ever get bored in the USA? Perhaps so. Maybe that's why as a mean of diversion, democrata tend to use the terms against each other too like here, here, here...



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Various from the world

Russia, unsurprisingly for all but the western foreign ministers it seems, officially recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Protests and shrieks followed from the western capitals, calling the move illegal and unacceptable, proclaiming the territorial integrity of Georgia untouchable and vowing that the two small breakaway regions will never ever be independant.

Yet, not a single politician or analyst who dared to draw a comparison between the case for Kossovo's independence and South Ossetia's and Abhkazia's ones to demonstrate the differences advocating for a different treatment.

In South Africa, a land reform bill which effectively gave major powers to the government to exporpriate the white ladowners to redistribute their properties to the black people was, at least for the time being, shelved. Considering that was the very move that precipitated Zimbabwe from being a relatively wealthy african country and a breadbasket for the continent to a eight (nine? ten?) zeroes inflation rate and economic disintegration, perhaps that's not a bad news at all.

In the meanwhile, in the States, the democratic convention is going on. Considering I didn't join an investment program because I didn't trust a banker with decades of experience to administer my money, it is still beyond me how the democrats could trust so much part of their life in the hands of a nearly-zero-experience orator. Hillary Clinton had sum it up as no repubblican could with her famous statement "I know Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.". Even now, I feel Hillary doesn't regret saying that a bit.



Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pro-Russia

A semi-authoritarian country wishing to re-exert its control on a breakaway province which has been practically independent for more than a decade resolves to armed intervention which includes firing on peacekeeping forces present in the region, but is pushed back by the intervention of a superpower strongly opposed by its long time cold-war era opponent. Are we talking of Serbia, Kossova, USA and Russia? No, rather of Georgia, South Ossetia (and Abkhazia), Russia and USA.

Now, all would be a "normal" old fashioned sphere on influence's quarrel were it not for the uncommon, even for the protagonists of the events, amount of hypocrisy involved. It is not one year yet that the USA supported the independence of Kossovo, the breakaway province of Serbia, after having been the leader in the war that wrestled it away from Serbia's rule. Having in Kossova's case explicitly rejected the principle of territorial integrity for Serbia, now they want it upheld for Georgia.

And what would be the difference? That Georgia is a democracy that needs to be defended (which is false) , that Russia has been unlawfully deploying forces in South Ossetia in the first place (false, considering that the Russian forces have been there after a joint agreement dated 1996 between the then Georgian president and the South Ossetian one following the war in the early 90s). All that, disregarding that South Ossetia and Abkhazia had been "donated" to Georgia by Georgian soviet dictator Stalin (himself a Georgian) despite ethnic, linguistic and religious differences.

Now, even more worrying (and no doubt a trigger, if not the trigger, of the crisis) is Georgia's bid to enter the NATO. Personally, I think it's an absolute nonsense and a very shortsighted move to allow countries neighboring Russia to enter the NATO, potentially forcing an armed reaction from the western countries in what Russia consider, and rightly so, its backyard. The USA almost started WWIII when Russia moved to install missiles in Cuba, would Russia back down seeing USA doing exactly the same forty years later? Is it worth risking a shooting war with Russia for a semi-dictatorial aggressive state in the Caucasus? No, thank you.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

B-2-B: Back to Blog

Can't believe it has been almost 10 month since last time I posted something on the blog. I would say that the Master kept me totally busy, but that would be a half-truth at best. What had me discontinuing my blog for real was a casual comment by SO (and that's not Second Officer) about her not wanting to start one due blogging being wonderful for keeping in touch with friends, but hazardous for your career, as more and more firms Google applicants' names first time in the hiring process.

Intrigued I Googled myself and, lo and behold, the first entry is exactly this page. That made me think and a whole 10 months at that. Granted, this blog would prove to a potential boss that I can decently write in English, but would I want to disclose much of my personal events or thoughts? The answer was an unqualified no.

So what do I do back here? Well, I still like writing and still need to keep in touch with a number of people (even if Facebook now helps with that) without the time to emailing each and one of them. So, for now, I've decided a partial resurrection of this blog which, however, will contain more comments about politics, news, books and, possibly, movies (I do not get to see many of them in Germany...) and less and definitely sketchy news about me personally. Probably more boring, I know.

As for now, the interface was totally redone as a sign of good will signalling I really intend to be back. Posts will follow, probably not at the pace of 2006... we'll see how it goes.