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English as a foreign language

Living as a German in an increasingly English-speaking world

2020-04-30: Why the lockdown was a good idea

Imagine someone sitting in a warm and cozy house while there is a bad blizzard outside.

Imagine that person commenting that heating was totally unnecessary because it was warm and cozy.

You would tell that person that they are completely crazy, right?

Anyone who tells you that the lockdown was unnecessary: it’s exactly the same thing.

2020-04-17: Stay safe, safe healthy and stay sane!

Inside your home, you can act as if you were not infected. Unless you know or suspect you are, anyway. Because the people living with you have probably cought any SARS-CoV-2 you might have before you ever knew you had it.
But outside your home, please act as if you were infected, even if you think (like I do) that in all probabilty you are not.
Wear some form of mask when you go out. Okay, if you are going for a walk and you are not expecting to meet any other people, fine, don’t. Have one around your neck and draw it up if you are encountering other people. But if you are going out for provisions, definitely wear something to cover your nose and mouth. An improvised mask, a balaclava, a scarf, anything. Anything is better than nothing.
You are not doing it for yourself. You are doing it to protect everyone else. So stay 1.5 to 2 metres or more (5 to 7 feet for your metrically impaired people) away if you can. Yes, I know you can’t at all times; you might want to hold your breath while you can’t, like when you are passing people on a crowded track.
If you are outside, it will certainly not hurt getting more space between you and other people, especially people that are exercising. (Please don’t exercise in popular spaces. Try to limit your intensive exercising to non-scenic routes if you can. Even better, talk a leisurely walk outside and then exercise on your stationary bike inside your home if you can.)
Please stay safe, stay healthy and stay sane.
See you on the other side.

2020-04-08: Coronavirus tells us: health care and sick-leave pay need to be accessible to all, or at least most, people

What do you think happens if you have a pandemic going on, and people with symptoms shy away from seeking medical help? Yes, they go on with their daily lives and infect boatloads of other people.

This is dangerous. Societies need to be organised so that people who are sick can stay at home without losing pay, and seek medical attention and treatment without risking financial ruin for themselves and their families. Which is important. Not only for those at risk directly, but for societies at large.

2020-03-20: flatten the curve, and stay the fuck home

What is there more to say?

2019-07-30: A child dies, and the Nazis are having a field day.

The Nazis are having a field day, after a man apparently shoved a 8-year-old boy and his mother under of a high-speed train at Frankfurt Main station. The boy died.

A suspect was apprehended by passers-by, was taken into custody and is now officially under arrest.

The suspect is a married father of three from the Swiss canton of Zurich. And he is a Christian.

Why are Nazis having a field day then? Because they see a slightly darker-skinned guy and immediately think he must be a Syrian refugee from the 2015 refugee crisis. And a Muslim. Neither of which he is.

All these calls for “Mummy Merkel looking the family in the eye and explaining why we imported scores of murderes” are pure racism. We didn’t. We clearly imported some questionable characters (as would be normal in a crowd of about a million) but not all that many, and the Frankfurt suspect clearly, absolutely, positively wasn’t one of them. A Christian from Eritrea who somehow found his way into Switzerland (admittedly, apparently illegally) and was granted asylum there more than ten years ago (permanently fixing the problem of having come into the country illegally), and only started acting strangely literally a few days ago.

Nazis go home.

2019-07-23: Christian? Hopefully not.

And that’s another thing I want to address. Is Germany (or the United States, oder any other country that is a democracy, or at least weakly aspiring to be something even remotely similar) a Christian country?

Hopefully not. I give you this. “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die.” This is a verbatim quote from the bible. (Deuteronomy 22:22, if you must know.) And there’s more. What about this? You have to give about 2.5 per cent of your income to charity. That’s one of the five pillars of Islam. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Our society is based on the principles of humanism, which transcend religion. And that is A Good Thing.

2019-07-23: Pro-life versus pro-birth

Don’t tell me that you are pro-life because you oppose the right of a woman to determine what happens inside her own body. If you call an embryo or a fetus a “baby”, all that you are demonstrating to me is that your command of the English language is severely lacking. A “baby” is a human that has already been born.

And that’s where the interesting part begins. If you are pro-life, you will want this new-born human to have a good start into their new life. Universal health care for everyone, so that neither kids nor their parents die of curable illnesses because they can’t afford treatment. Good social services, paid for by the government. Paid paternity and maternity leave for the parents. Financial assistance for the needy. All these things are pro-life positions.

Being against abortions is pro-birth, not pro-life.

2018-11-07: 6-P in English are 5-V in German

I just realised that the 6-P rule in English (many variations, also with a different number of P’s, exist; I’ll go with “proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance”) actually translates pretty well into German as the 5-V rule: „Vernünftige Vorbereitung verhindert völliges Versagen“ (which translates literally as “reasonable preparation prevents total failure” but that’s close enough for me).

2018-10-28: Back to sanity

Finally, the clocks have been set to sanity around here, and normal time has returned. One would hope that we have suffered through “summer time” for the last time (but I don’t believe we have).

You see, the thing is that there is no such thing as “winter time”. If summer time means that you change the clock so sunset is not at 20:00 but at 21:00, winter time would mean that you change to clock to move the sunrise from 08:00 to 07:00. It’s an entirely feasible concept, but I am not aware it has ever been done, and definitely not here. No, we don’t have winter and summer time, we have normal and summer time, or rather normal and abnormal time. Sane and insane time, even.

Don’t forget that the reference median for UTC+1, to which we have returned, is at 15° East, near Görlitz on the German-Polish border. That means that all of Germany suffers a mild case of summer time even at UTC+1 (the sun reaches its highest point only after 12:00). The westernmost parts of Germany would actually be better served by UTC±0 as they are approximately at 6° East and therefore closer to the UTC±0 reference meridian (which of course goes through London).

Now time zones are of course a good thing. Before telegraphs and railways, there was no value in having the same time everywhere: every town and village had their own time. It was noon when the sun was at its highest point. When no communication or interaction could happen at a higher speed than that of galloping horse, it simply didn’t matter. Today that would be a nightmare. And while the almost globally (except for some nutty exceptions) accepted idea of hour-wide time zones is by no means the only possible choice, it appears to be a good compromise.

Strangely, though, the concept was pretty much perverted in Western Europe. UTC+1 is overall a good choice for Germany. For any countries west of Germany, like the Benelux countries, France or Spain (or Andorra and Monaco, of course), it’s a terrible choice. So I think those countries should have one more change, in the autumn of 2019, to UTC±0.

2018-09-02: Pumpkin Spice Season

It’s coming on to Pumpkin Spice Season again, and this is just to make people aware of the following fact:

Pumpkin spice does not contain any pumpkin, just as dog food does not contain any dog.

Pumpkin spice is a spice mixture for pumpkins, so many pumpkin dishes are flavoured with pumpkin spice. Dog food is food for dogs, so many dogs are fed using dog food.

However, while dog food is usually not used for anything besides feeding dogs, pumpkin spice is sometimes used to flavour other things, such as coffee.

It is still perfectly fine to contain no pumpkin, much as dog food is fine to contain no dog.

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