The U.S. Is Much Less Xenophobic Than Europe

Foreigner poll

Here's another cultural difference to add to the others.

If you believe it's a good thing for a country to have a generally positive attitude toward diversity, then you must acknowledge that the USA is morally superior to any European country. European elites overwhelmingly think diversity is a good thing, which makes the results of this survey problematic to them. How can a country which embodies so many things they disapprove of 'score' so well on a value they desperately wish their countrymen shared?

If you're neutral on that question, as I am, this is just an interesting difference. Doubtless the main factor here is that the US is a nation of immigrants, while European nations all have native traditions and populations and thick, deep cultures and identities.

 


Anglosplaining and the Amusingness Gap

The Economist looks at why the most high-middlebrow shows and books about Germany are written by Brits:

This popularity of Anglo-Saxon storytellers “really is astonishing”, says Hermann Parzinger. He is a German archaeologist (best known for his work on the Scythians) and president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which owns museums, libraries and archives in Berlin. He is working with MacGregor in dreaming up how to curate the Humboldt Forum’s exhibits.

German academics, Parzinger says, write books to impress the five most important experts in their field. Popularity is suspect in German academia. The German word unseriös, etymologically the same as “unserious”, in fact means “lacking credibility”. But Anglo-Saxons, Parzinger thinks, “have it in their blood to make these things suspenseful and interesting even for lay people”. In particular, they know how to integrate into their storytelling “both the high and the low, without anything being banal”. Thus MacGregor effortlessly mixes Luther and Goethe with sausages and garden gnomes into one analysis that makes Germans feel they’ve understood something about themselves.

The Anglos also come across as likeable rather than belehrend, says Parzinger. That German word means “lecturing”, and is often used by Germans of Germans. The greatest fear of intellectuals in Germany and other continental countries is to appear shallow. The greatest fear of Britons is to seem pompous, says MacGregor. So they enliven their knowledge with good delivery and showmanship....

But even among outsiders the Anglos have the edge in Germany over, say, French, Polish, Dutch or Danish intellectuals. These neighbours were often part of German history – as enemies, victims or collaborators. German audiences expect them to reflect that perspective. A French historian talking about the 1940s, say, should probably also expound on Vichy and French collaboration.

The Brits, however, were always “geographically more outside”, says Parzinger, which makes them appear credible. Since the 1960s, for example, it has been all but taboo for German writers to argue anything other than that Germany bears sole responsibility for starting the first world war. Clark gleefully ignored that taboo in “The Sleepwalkers” – and outsold all the Germans, even in Germany. Clark can say the question of guilt is complicated, says Parzinger, but hearing it “from a German would have been more difficult”.

This goes back to a fundamental cultural difference which virtually every Anglo-Saxon picks up on quickly in Germany: Most Germans just aren't funny in ways Anglo-Saxons recognize, and a substantial minority aren't funny at all. Free-floating, value-neutral absurdity; obscene wordplay; sarcasm and irony; casual teasing insults among friends -- these styles of communication are much rarer in Germany than in the Anglo-Saxon world. Unless you know someone fairly well, the safest mode of communication is straightforward communication about mundane details of everyday life or anodyne remarks about current affairs which do not reveal a controversial personal opinion.

This is not to say there ain't no funny Germans, etc. etc. As with everything in life, this is a matter of probability distributions and bell curves, not of absolutes. Behold this scientific-looking graph:

DddThe more to the left you are on this graph, the more sincere and loyal. You become more entertaining as you move to the right. Germany is the bell curve with the peak of 52. England with the peak of 76. The separation is too wide, but it still makes the point. There's plenty of overlap (i.e. decent and funny people) in both directions, but the average Brit you meet is likely to be more entertaining than the average German.

The canon of values the average German has been raised with tend toward sincerity, honesty, credibility, punctuality, and loyalty. You can be a worthy, admirable person on this scale while being crushingly boring. In fact, being crushingly boring can actually be a helpful strategy, since humor, used inappropriately or at the wrong time, can undermine your reputation. Leave humor to the professionals. Or if you are called upon to be funny yourself, have a few memorized jokes or sayings on tap, just in case. Even if they're crushingly unfunny, people will laugh. Out of politeness.

Maybe I can't make you laugh, says the German, but I will take time out of my busy schedule to visit you in the hospital, and bring a thoughtful gift. Which is more important?

Growing up in the Anglo-Saxon world, there's a premium on being entertaining. Your cultural heroes are likely to be comedians rather than violinists or human-rights activists. You're likely to spend hours each day consuming humor. Dull people are ostracized. Unlike in Germany, where you might bring them along even though you know they'll just sit there silently, in England and the USA you will simply avoid them and mock them.

In this atmosphere, even renowned historians often learn to be decent storytellers and amusing chaps, because everyone is expected to be a decent storyteller and an amusing chap. In Germany, you can live a life that you and others would consider rich and full without ever (1) intentionally provoking (2) sincere laughter in another human being.


A Modest(y) Proposal: Muslims, Build Your Own Pools

The Washington Post looks at the burqini ban:

While the burqini may sound straightforward, it is quite controversial. German media recently reported that a public pool in Neutraubling in the German state of Bavaria had banned swimmers from wearing burqinis. According to Abendzeitung, the decision had been made after a young woman had turned up to a water aerobics class in a burqini. A number of other women in the class had complained, which led town officials to decide the outfit was not appropriate at the pool and should not be allowed.

Town Mayor Heinz Kiechle told the paper that there was no “burqini ban” per se, and that instead swimming pools simply required conventional swimwear. For women, that would be a standard one-piece swimsuit or a bikini. A burqini would not be allowed, but nor would a wetsuit or a T-shirt. An additional reason for the rule, Kiechle told the Mittelbayerische Zeitung, was that there had been complaints about male asylum seekers in the area attempting to use the pool while wearing underwear.

Swimming pools have become a surprising battleground in Europe’s culture wars in recent years. At the start of this year there were reports that asylum seekers and migrants in a number of countries had been banned from swimming pools after alleged sexual assaults. A more complicated issue is female modesty: In Sweden, a country that prides itself on gender equality, the idea of female-only swimming hours has prompted a backlash by those who say it goes against the country’s ethos.

There are two cultural divides at work here. First, the obvious one between the burqini wearers and the other women.

The other is between an American and a European reading this article. When an American reads this article, the question that pops up is: why are all these people sharing the same pool? If the Muslims want special rules and conditions for pool use, then they should all get together, pool their money (so to speak), and build a pool.

European society still reflects an ever-diminishing glimmer of the idea of communal ownership and enjoyment. You don't have to buy your own car, big plot of land, or swimming pool. We will provide trains, parks, and public pools for you. You'll have to share them, of course, but you'll get 80% of the enjoyment at 1% of the price. And besides, sharing is good for society. Helps combat alienation and selfishness. Sweden's social democrats once lived by the motto: 'Nothing is too good for the people'.

But communal goods presuppose a community of people which can agree on how to use them. There has to be social trust and consensus. Immigrants who don't understand or accept that you have to bathe in different clothes than you live in screw that up. And it's important. I won't go into details, but bathing in clothes causes disgusting hygiene problems.

America is a place with lots of room, prosperous immigrants, cheap real estate, plenty of different ethnic groups, and no broad sense of entitlement that the government should provide free amenities to all. So if Muslims want to swim in a way that fits their culture, they can build a private swimming pool. They can keep everyone else out, if they want, or let them in. It's up to them.

America is full of communal gathering places for various ethnic groups -- there's even a Slovenian Hall in San Francisco. Now, the name is merely historical, you can rent the Slovenian hall for weddings. This is because Slovenes moved out of the immigrant ghettos in a few generations, forgot Slovenian, and no longer feel the need for ethnic solidarity.

The US Midwest is plastered with hundreds of thousands of remnants of the era when German-Americans created their own Singvereine, Kulturvereine, restaurants, festivals, cultural meeting places, and other institutions. There are thousands of American hospitals with ethnic and religious names, which were founded to provide medical care mainly -- and sometimes exclusively -- to one religion or ethnic group. New York City used to have a German hospital located in 'Little Germany'. It changed its name to Lenox Hill Hospital in 1918.

And all of these buildings were built with private funds. Jews built their own hospitals for their fellow Jews, Germans for their fellow Germans, Catholics for their fellow Catholics. Now the objection might be that the kind of conservative Muslims who might want a private swimming pool might not have enough money to build one. As is the case almost everywhere, there's an inverse relationship between how devout people are and how rich they are. The typical American answer to this question is: tough toenails. American-style cultural laissez-faire means nobody will interfere if you want to build your own separate institutions, and that nobody will help you.

Muslim Germans are a minority in a country whose majority doesn't share their cultural predilections. They have a right to fair treatment, but can't expect any sympathy or help from that majority to help them preserve their own alien traditions. Gentiles didn't build Jewish hospitals for American Jews, nor did the US government help Catholics build their own hospitals. If Muslims want their own swimming pools, but cannot yet afford them, they will just have to be patient and keep saving. Or follow the rules at public pools.


Patriarchy, Social Trust, and Smiling

The Atlantic summarizes a recent study:

Why do some societies not encourage casual smiling? I got my answer, or at least part of one, when I stumbled across a new paper by Kuba Krys [Kuba Krys? Didn't he lay down a smokin' freestyle on that Kendrick Lamar album? - ed.], a psychologist at the Polish Academy of Sciences [Oh, that Kuba Krys - ed.]. In some countries, smiling might not be a sign of warmth or even respect. It’s evidence that you’re a fool—a tricky fool.

Krys focused on a cultural phenomenon called “uncertainty avoidance.” Cultures that are low on this scale tend to have social systems—courts, health-care systems, safety nets, and so forth—that are unstable. Therefore, people there view the future as unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Smiling is a sign of certainty and confidence, so when people in those countries smile, they might seem odd. Why would you smile when fate is an invisible wolf waiting to shred you? You might, in those “low-UA” countries, even be considered stupid for smiling.

Krys also hypothesized that smiling in corrupt countries would be, um, frowned upon. When everyone’s trying to pull one over on each other, you don’t know if someone’s smiling with good intentions, or because they’re trying to trick you....

He found that in countries like Germany, Switzerland, China, and Malaysia, smiling faces were rated as significantly more intelligent than non-smiling people. But in Japan, India, Iran, South Korea, and—you guessed it—Russia, the smiling faces were considered significantly less intelligent. Even after controlling for other factors, like the economy, there was a strong correlation between how unpredictable a society was and the likelihood they would consider smiling unintelligent.

In countries such as India, Argentina, and the Maldives, meanwhile, smiling was associated with dishonesty—something Krys found to be correlated to their corruption rankings.

I've lived here in Tschermany long enough to witness a change or two. One is the increase in smiles on websites. Just anecdotally, I think the percentage of people smiling in websites about firms and universities has risen steadily. At one point, smiling too much in German would get you the reputation of being 'unseriös', but that seems to be fading these days. Also, cosmetic dentistry is becoming mainstream and affordable here. With the standard delay -- about 20 years after this happened in the USA.


Europe Doesn't Have Private Charities for Refugees

 
Non-Europeans can't understand the immigration debate in Europe without recognizing a key fact: Every single migrant who enters a (Northern) European country and files an asylum claim is immediately entitled to state-funded housing, healthcare, and education, plus a monthly cash stipend and child benefit. And is automatically legally entitled to all these things indefinitely, no matter what.
 
If they eventually get to the point where they are employable and then turn down suitable jobs, the benefits may be reduced. But never eliminated. Since the vast majority of migrants arrive not speaking the native language, and a large percentage never learn it to proficiency, all immigrants will be welfare cases for at least 10-15 years, and many will never stop being welfare cases.
 
In many Western countries, including the U.S. refugees are sponsored and funded by a public-private mix of government (which does the screening), and private charities, often religious in nature, who find housing and aid in integration. This doesn't happen to anywhere near the same extent in Europe. In Europe, private charities operate on a much smaller scale, since they have essentially been frozen out by state welfare. Religious charities run by the major established churches usually have significant government involvement. As the chart above shows, Germany has a comparatively small private charity sector. It's about the OECD average, but it's worth remembering that the OECD includes a lot of countries much poorer than Germany. 
 
So every migrant let into the country who possesses no job skills immediately begins costing the state money. And lots of migrants cost lots of money. Germany is now spending an amount on refugee welfare that exceeds its annual federal education budget. It is spending almost €3 billion per year (g) just caring for 65,000 unaccompanied minor migrants.
 
Denmark has similar policies to Germany's. Which brings us to Daham Al Hasan, his three wives, and his twenty children: 
In Denmark these days, Daham Al Hasan is making headlines. He has twenty children with three wives, but two years ago fled alone from Syria to Denmark, and left his wives and children behind. Recently, under the Danish rules of family unification, one of his wives and eight of his children have joined him in Denmark. But Al Hasan wants all his children with him, as well as all his wives. He has been granted permission for nine additional children to join him, but as Denmark does not allow polygamy, the two remaining wives, under the same rules of family unification, are not permitted to join him. Lawyers, however, estimate that the remaining wives will also be able independently to join their children in Denmark, once they are there.
The case has caused rather a shock in Denmark, not only because of the extraordinary size of the family, and what it will cost the Danish state just in child allowance, but because Al Hassan claims that he is too ill to work or even to learn Danish. "I don't only have mental problems, but also physical problems", he says by way of explanation, "My back and my legs hurt." He has admitted that his "mental illness" consists of missing the children he voluntarily left behind. This means that he and his family live exclusively off the Danish taxpayers' money.

Random Crime by Migrants and Trust in Strangers

Anyone who grew up in the US during the crime wave of the 1970s-1990s learned never to open the door to strangers. If a stranger knocked at your front door claiming to need help, you were supposed to communicate with them through the door, and offer to call help. That's all. Criminals often faked accidents to gain access to homes, then robbed, raped, and/or murdered the occupants. As in this case. Of course these incidents were rare. Certainly 99% of the time, the people knocking at your door genuinely needed help.

But what if you opened the door to the 1%? Humans make decisions based on rare, spectacular, and recent risks. One random crime by a stranger has more effect on society than a thousands crimes committed by people who know each other.

Which brings us to the latest random murder committed by a recent migrant in Germany. The suspect is a Pakistani man who has been in Germany for 3 years. So far, there is no information about why he was allowed to stay that long. He has already compiled a criminal record. A week ago, he gained access to the home of a 70-year-old woman who lived near his migrant shelter in Bad Friedrichshall. He then beat her to death (g), stole property from the home, and left messages in English and Arabic in the home. Police say there is no evidence of any connection between the suspect and victim. DNA evidence ties him to the scene, as well as his possession of property stolen from the home. There were no signs of a break-in, suggesting the woman let him into her house.

Germany who visit the USA are often shocked by how inhospitable Americans are to strangers knocking at their door -- especially when the homeowner shoots at someone he thinks was a threat.

Now that Germany has imported tens of thousands of career criminals and mentally unstable persons from the Middle East and North Africa -- and spread them throughout the country -- Germans are going to have to unlearn their touching trust in strangers. It'll happen slowly, like the proverbial frog in boiling water. But once it's gone, everybody will notice.

Welcome to 1980s America, Germany. You're not going to like it.


Sanity in the Extreme

So, the Alternative for Germany party convention (g) rejected a platform plank that would have declared that Germany is "not a country of immigrants" and instead approved the following: "Immigrants who have relevant qualifications for the labor market and who demonstrate a high degree of willingness to integrate are welcome here."

Whenever the AfD is criticized as extreme and xenophobic in the coming years -- and it will be, constantly and unrelentingly, in a barrage of propaganda -- remember that sentence:

"Immigrants who have relevant qualifications for the labor market and who demonstrate a high degree of willingness to integrate are welcome here."

That is the party's official stance on immigration. Not only is there nothing extreme about this, this is currently the policy of the overwhelming majority of countries on the face of the earth. All countries to which a rational person might want to immigrate -- and many others -- openly and frankly say to potential immigrants: we only want you if you can contribute to our society. Otherwise, we won't let you in. Our country's immigration policy puts the interests of existing citizens first, and there is nothing shameful, wrong, or even questionable about that.

Noted racist authoritarian backwater Canada, on an official government website, lists the factors it uses for its own immigration point system:

Screenshot 2016-05-01 15.07.14

In Canada, you have to score at least 67 points. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that current German immigration policy, driven by a bizarre form of cultural masochism, is drawing mainly people who score less than 20 points on this scale. Many less than 10. Many less than 5.

It's hard to know where to place on this scale the tens of thousands of (often illiterate) 2015 immigrants to Germany who have already committed serious crimes. They are, after all, not only not benefiting Germany in any way, they are actively harming the country. Perhaps we need to expand the scale below 0 to capture Germany's current immigration policy.

-20? -50?

So remember, whenever les bien-pensants accuse the AfD of xenophobia, they are condemning the current immigration policies of virtually every developed nation.

That may give you a new perspective on who the extremists are.


Nordic Social Democracy Is The Only Desirable Future

Anu Partanen, a Finn, explains why Nordic social-democratic policies enhance individual freedom and flourishing, don't inhibit innovation, and are the only way forward in a world in which full-time jobs with benefits are vanishing: 

But this vision of homogeneous, altruistic Nordic lands is mostly a fantasy. The choices Nordic countries have made have little to do with altruism or kinship. Rather, Nordic people have made their decisions out of self-interest. Nordic nations offer their citizens—all of their citizens, but especially the middle class—high-quality services that save people a lot of money, time, and trouble. This is what Americans fail to understand: My taxes in Finland were used to pay for top-notch services for me.

When I lived in Finland, as a middle-class citizen I paid income tax at a rate not much higher than what I now pay in New York City. True, Nordic countries have somewhat higher taxes on consumption than America, and overall they collect more tax revenue than the U.S. currently does—partly from the wealthy. But, as an example, here are some of the things I personally got in return for my taxes: nearly a full year of paid parental leave for each child (plus a smaller monthly payment for an additional two years, were I or the father of my child to choose to stay at home with our child longer), affordable high-quality day care for my kids, one of the world’s best public K-12 education systems, free college, free graduate school, nearly free world-class health care delivered through a pretty decent universal network, and a full year of partially paid disability leave.

As far as I was concerned, it was a great deal. And it was equally beneficial for others. From a Nordic perspective, nothing Bernie Sanders is proposing is the least bit crazy—pretty much all Nordic countries have had policies like these in place for years.

But wait, most Americans would say: Those policies work well because all Nordics share a sense of kinship and have fond feelings for each other. That might be nice if it were true, but it’s not, as anyone who has followed recent political debates about immigration or economic policy in Nordic countries understands....

Nordic countries are well-ranked when it comes to helping facilitate starting a business. At the most basic level, what the Nordic approach does is reduce the risk of starting a company, since basic services such as education and health care are covered for regardless of the fledgling company’s fate. In addition, companies themselves are freed from the burdens of having to offer such services for their employees at the scale American companies do. And if the entrepreneur succeeds, they are rewarded by tax rates on capital gains that are lower than the rate on wages.

Nordic economies go through cycles like all countries, and they make mistakes like everyone else—Finland is in the midst of a recession right now, whereas the Swedish economy is doing phenomenally well. As in any region, some Nordic companies eventually crash and burn, and others never get off the ground....

In an age when more and more people are working as entrepreneurs or on short-term projects, and when global competition is requiring all citizens to be better prepared to handle economic turbulence, every nation needs to ensure that its people have the education, health care, and other support structures they need to take risks, start businesses, and build a better future for themselves and for their country. It’s simply a matter of keeping up with the times.

Americans are not wrong to abhor the specters of socialism and big government. In fact, as a proud Finn, I often like to remind my American friends that my countrymen in Finland fought two brutal wars against the Soviet Union to preserve Finland’s freedom and independence against socialism. No one wants to live in a society that doesn’t support individual liberty, entrepreneurship, and open markets.

But the truth is that free-market capitalism and universal social policies go well together—this isn’t about big government, it’s about smart government. I suspect that despite Hillary Clinton’s efforts to distance herself from Sanders, she probably knows this. After all, Clinton is also endorsing policies that sound an awful lot like what the Nordics have done: paid family leave, better public schools, and affordable day care, health care and college for all.

The United States is its own country, and no one expects it to become a Nordic utopia. But Nordic countries aren’t utopias either. What they’ve done has little to do with culture, size, or homogeneity, and everything to do with figuring out how to flourish and compete in the 21st century.

In the U.S., supporters of not only Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but also of Donald Trump, are worried about exactly the kinds of problems that universal social policies can help solve: worsening income inequality, shrinking opportunity, the decline of the middle class, and the survival of the ordinary family in the face of globalization. What America needs right now, desperately, isn’t to keep fighting the socialist bogeymen of the past, but to see the future—at least one presidential candidate should show them that.


Democracy v. Predictability

Center-right US commentator Christopher Caldwell on Frauke Petry and the AfD (h/t MM):

The AfD would be only a shadow of itself had Merkel not promised to admit 800,000 Syrian refugees late last summer, driving half the country into a frenzy of charitable activity and the other half into an existential panic. In the event, 1.3 million migrants came—most of them economic immigrants, practically all of them Muslims, and only a minority from Syria. There is no workable procedure to sort the humanitarian rescue cases from the opportunists. They will all, eventually, have the right to bring their families. They are still coming in at the rate of more than 3,000 a day. The March vote came, luckily for Merkel, at a time when the stream had fortuitously paused, as migrants sought to adjust to Macedonia's having closed its border with Greece. This summer the numbers will probably swell.

Merkel reacted with the sangfroid that we have come to expect of presidents in American midterm elections. Like George W. Bush in 2006 and Barack Obama in 2010 and 2014, she very forthrightly said that she had heard the voters' fury, and now she was ready to redouble her efforts to carry out the very policies that provoked it. "In terms of the basic approach," Merkel said in a press conference, "I'm just going to continue doing what I've been doing over the last few months." Her strategy seems to be to gamble that voters do not really feel the worries that they express, and that they will now allow party leaders to go back to making policy unmolested. But this strategy seems more foolish because the situation is getting more risky.

...

One can ask whether all the historical monitions to AfD voters are really meant or even understood, or whether they are pious blather. Is Merkel really protecting Germany against a "return to the horrors of the twentieth century"? Perhaps she aims to, but in showing herself indifferent to the fate of her country, she is increasing the risk of what she claims to fear. People expect a sign—almost any sign—that their leaders care whether Germany survives or not. This sign need not be belligerent—it could be the slightest acknowledgment. But the public is not receiving it. From anyone.

Now, through the AfD, they have begun to insist on it democratically. No one can doubt that Petry is right to call the recent election "a very good day for democracy in Germany." But that may be precisely the problem, and the problem may be a deeper one than we think. Europe and the United States have built an enormous architecture of international rules on a foundation of democratic nation-states. This architecture consists of international bureaucracies, treaties guiding global corporations and finance, the informal rules of international migration and world "governance." The problem is that the two are at odds. International organizations require predictability: The Elmar Broks of the world describe this need for predictability as "international law." Democracies require flexibility: People must have real choices about how they govern themselves. For a while we found a middle way, offering the people fake choices about how they govern themselves. But they have seen through it. Now that they have, one of the two—flexibility or predictability—is going to have to go. Merkel has chosen to keep predictability. We should not be too confident that her compatriots, or ours, will make the same choice.

 


Weber The Ironmonger

From the Facebook feed Pearls from Düsseldorf, which is pictures of Düsseldorf from local graphic designer and photographer Markus Luigs (g), this picture of an old-school German storefront:

12419106_2185343131494609_1081350606375068115_o

'Iron-Weber' is the name. The store sells Eisenwaren (iron goods), tools, house and kitchen appliances. So, basically, a hardware store. But the name Eisenwaren is satisfyingly antique; from an era in which tools actually were made mostly of iron. So the capture the old-school flair, I'd translate it as an 'ironmonger'.

This picture gives you a good idea of German street architecture. The sidewalk, as you'll notice, is clean. Then you have the underground-access grates. Some of these are for city utilities, but the ones close to the building are for trash: you take your trash downstairs to the cellar, then put it in a special dumb-waiter like contraption under the street. The trashmen open the grate and haul up the square plastic trash can through the opening, or sometimes go down into it. All the while yelling at each other in a mysterious language that probably takes years to learn. Children love watching the trash and the men disappear up and down the magic sidewalk-holes. It's loud, but it solves several problems: first, no trash bins waiting on the street. Second, the garbagemen don't have to enter the store to collect the trash.

Here's one difference between Germany and developing countries. You will never see these grates lying open in Germany, posing a threat to pedestrians. Never. In my many years living here, traveling all across the country, in neighborhoods both haughty and humble, I've never seen one of these things lying open, unattended, unless it was roped off with warning signs and tape. Nor do they ever break. You can walk over them every single time, without giving them a second thought. The average German probably walks over 30 of them every single day, never giving them a second though. Contrast this to basically any developing country, where sidewalk murder-holes are a fact of life. Here's a picture I took in Alexandria:

Alex - Street near Pompey's Pillar

The contrast may help explain why so many people from places like Egypt want to relocate to places like Germany, no?

Then you have the display cases on either side of the storefront. Often, these are only big enough for posters, but these seem to have room enough for small displays. Then the actual display windows. If you want to run your own shop, you will generally go to a vocational school to learn, in great detail, how to structure an appealing shop-window display. This is called Schaufenstergestaltung in German. Of course, since this is a hardware shop, Weber hasn't really put all that much effort into it. Anything too schicki-micki (fancy) would probably drive away customers for these sorts of things.

Then you have the A-shaped ad placards to put in the way of pedestrians, stored safely beneath the chain protecting the door. Of course, since this is Germany, there are detailed regulations (g) for how large these stand-up signs (Stellschilder) can be, where you can put them, and how long you can leave them out. You may chuckle at those crazy Prussians, but you shouldn't. These signs are already an annoyance, and if the rules weren't there, they'd probably clog the sidewalk even more than they do already. Which would lead people to destroy them. So, a delicate balance is required between the needs of the shopkeeper and those of the public. That's what rules are for.

This store is almost certainly going to close soon, to be replaced by an artisanal vegan fair-trade frozen-yogurt studio. If this were Japan, the entire store would be recreated lovingly inside a museum, staffed by animatronic shopkeepers giving tinny mechanical advice to animatronic customers:

DSC_0164

But since this is Germany, 'Eisen-Weber' will probably just disappear forever. At least we'll have the photo.