Werner Herzog's Death Penalty Documentary 'Tod in Texas' Tonight at 00:10 on ZDF
American Criminal Punishment: Self-Defeating, Discriminatory, Inhumane

Germany's Overdue for Another Hysterical Fear Attack

Seems like it's been a long time since Germans have become paralyzed with fear over something. Life here's so comfortable that the media have to invent crises and disasters, and often the only thing that presents itself is tainted raspberries or genetically-modified food or bird flu. Headlines suddenly sprout: "Tainted-raspberry Crisis Spreads Terror in Brandenburg!" "Avian Flu Set to Destroy Civilization!" "H1N1 Virus Carves Path of Death and Misery Through Unsuspecting Middle Class!"

But it's been disappointingly quiet around here lately. So let's take a trip down memory lane! In 2006, morgues overflowed and canned-food riots erupted because of nature's latest remorseless kill-bot, the Dornfinger or yellow-sac spider. Here's the fleshy beast:


You can tell that this spider became an obsession in German-speaking Europe because the German Wikipedia article on it (g) has (deservedly) won a prize. In 2006, which must have been a particularly dull summer ('Coalition Approves Preliminary Draft of Proposal for .00034% Pension Contribution Rate Adjustment'), some reporter saved the day by discovering that the Dornfinger spider's natural habitat was moving north owing to global warming, bringing Austria and Germany within its spidery crosshairs.*

Finally, something to wet our collective pants about! Dornfinger triggers Hysteria, screamed one typical headline. The article notes that after a series of breathless press reports in Austria, 190 people streamed into the hospital in Linz in one day claiming to have been bitten by one, although only 8 'even came close' to displaying the symptoms. The spider's bite, needless to say, is non-fatal, although you might have a day or two of discomfort.

The German media's falling down these days. We need a crisis, and we need it fast. What'll it be this time? Horsemeat in your Wurst? Genetically-modified Lederhosen? The creeping menace of philtrum fungus? Come on, lazy reporters, start spreading the panic.

* The articles didn't mention how Southern Europeans have apparently managed to survive this fiendish predator's onslaughts for the last 8,000 years.

And speaking of spiders, can anyone identify this beast? About 3-4 mm long in total, crawling on the walls of my apartment: