The News is a Waste of Time, German Edition

I've been following Ralf Dobelli's excellent advice to ignore the news (g) for months now, and have been enjoying it. Any time I accidentally survey the German media landscape, I notice it's clogged with at least 4 categories of uselessness:

No. 1: Ineffectual bloviation (g) In this case, former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt calling for reductions in German weapons exports. Um, not going to happen!

No. 2: Breathless fear-mongering concerning the German urban bourgeoisie's hobbyhorses, such as nuclear power, genetically-modified crops, the death penalty, Facebook, and 'turbo-capitalism'. Remember those heroic workers who embraced certain nuclear death (g) to try to save the Fukushima nuclear plant? They're fine. Remember the rats (somehow) encrusted with horrifying tumors thanks to genetically-modified corn? Study debunked (g). Anytime you read 'catastrophic' in German news, automatically replace it with 'slightly problematic'. Better yet, don't read the news at all.

No. 3: T & A (g). At least this stuff's entertaining!

No. 4: Superfluous profiles of achingly dull German politicians (g). After a cabinet reshuffle, German ministries now have different titular heads, but are still run by the same shadowy functionaries. For vast numbers of the Germans, the 'new' cabinet will have no direct practical consequences at all. And you have no control over what changes actually do affect you, anyway.

The news, honestly: intermittently accurate information about events that don't affect you and over which you have no control. 

Protocol #74: Ideas for the Taking


  • The national anthems of many South American countries seem to have been composed by Gilbert & Sullivan.
  • While visiting Berlin with a friend lately, she suggested that one way to reduce the amount of dog shit on the streets would be to offer a deposit on it, just like with used glass bottles (h/t JR).*
  • Yesterday, I met a former member of a band called the Drellas. 'Drella' -- a combination of Dracula and Cinderella -- was the nickname Loud Reed gave to Andy Warhol. But wouldn't 'Cinderacula' have been even better?
  • Idea for an edifying TV series, 1: 'Unplayable'. Each episode features a work of classical music that was originally deemed unplayable. Explains who thought it was unplayable and why, why it was actually beyond the capacities of the performers when it was written, and why it isn't now.
  • Idea for an edifying TV series, 2: 'Bad Laws': An X-part series featuring the nastiest laws ever passed. The Nuremburg racial laws, England's Bloody Code, Jim Crow laws, etc. Who proposed them, what was the vote by which they were approved, what were the consequences, how were they got rid of.

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Too Many Bettinas, German Swamis, Oak of Our Dear Lord

  • Is it just me, or does anyone else get the impression that at least 1/3 of all German females are named Bettina?
  • Belgium lost its oldest tree, the 1200-year-old 'Tree of Our Dear Lord' (an oak) to a storm this last July.
  • The complete works of Robert Musil which I own used to belong to 'Sw. (presumably swami) Anand Nigama'; a.k.a 'Gerhard Peschke'. I know this because you can take the swami out of Germany, but you can't take the Germany out of the swami: Swami Anand / Gert had a stamp made with both his names, and stamped all the volumes. Anyone know more about this chap?