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English as a foreign language

Living as a German in an increasingly English-speaking world

Something that needs to be said

2020-06-27: wear a mask, people

Listen people. I’ll let you in on a secret.

Now of course I know there are those of you that don’t give a rat’s arse about other people and refuse to wear a mask in public because it interferes with your right to breathe (it doesn’t, you can breathe just fine wearing one), and it fogs up your glasses (it does, I know, I wear glasses myself), and is generally a royal pain in your behind (it is).

But there may be a little-known benefit to wearing a mask: It may, just possibly, save you from dying a real miserable premature death. How so? Well, you know, this mask that irks you so much may limit your exposure to SARS-CoV-2 just enough to save you from a severe case of COVID-19. Maybe you will not be infected at all; maybe you will be spared hostitalization, being put on a respirator and ultimately dying.

This is your public service announcement for today: wearing a mask in public is not a perfect protection from being infected, but it may contribute to protect you. The exact degree of that protection is unknown, but it is very likely significant.

Wear a mask. For your own benefit, and for the benefit of others. That will be all for today. Thank you.

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.

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.

2017-05-20: Some thoughts on resolving the Middle East situation

First things first. I’ll try to tread lightly here because I am a goy and all that, but I’d really welcome any comment on my views. Let me make one thing clear before we start here. I do recognise and support the right of the state of Israel to exist. Israel means, and that to me is a non-negotiable fact, within the borders before the 1967 war.

That means two things. (Well, at least.) One is that any organisation calling for Israel to be “purged off the map” needs to lose that before they can be taken seriously at any negotiating table. But it also means that Israel has no jurisdiction, military or otherwise, outside its pre-1967 borders.

There is never going to be lasting peace with a one-state solution where the one state is the Jewish state of Israel. That is just a fact; there are too many people in the region that would not be happy that way for that to ever work.

Independently of what I personally think should happen, I can tell you now that if current trends continue, Israel as a country in its present form is not going to be around for a whole lot longer.

Allow me to explain.

There is a portion of the Jewish population of Israel that is just living normal lives: working for a living, falling in love, having sex, having babies, the lot. Keeping the place afloat, essentially. That part of the population is shrinking.

Then there is the non-Jewish (mainly Muslim and Arab) population of Israel. Those guys are doing much of the same stuff; but they would not support the notion of Israel as a Jewish state. Their share is growing.

And then there are the Haredim. They have the have-sex-and-make-babies thing covered, but beyond that they are doing fuck-all for the economy, or the country. Their numbers are also growing, rapidly.

Guys, you are headed for a train wreck. The people that keep your boat afloat are dying out.

That leaves Israel with a few options, none of which appear to figure highly on the current Israeli government’s agenda.

One is a two-state solution: Leave Palestine to the Palestinians, and keep Israel within its pre-1967 borders. Maybe with some negotiated land swaps. Possibly, some Israeli Arabs would leave for Palestine when that is an actual functioning country. That won’t solve the normal-Israeli vs. Haredim conflict but then that’s going to be a domestic problem. Israel will probably require some security guarantees from Palestine, but I am sure that can be worked out eventually.

Another is a one-state solution, but the one state is a religiously agnostic, secular state. Possibly a federation of a Jewish and a Muslim region. I personally like that option the most.

Or Israel can wait until the non-Haredim Jewish population is no longer able to sustain the State of Israel. I surely wish for another solution to be found before this happens. But unless a solution is found in time, it will happen, eventually.

2011-03-13: Nuclear energy isn’t safe. Stop fooling yourself and others.

The events currently unfolding in Japan should, once again, teach us one very simple, yet powerful, lesson: nuclear energy isn’t safe, never was and probably never will be.

Boing Boing has published a good basic overview of how that mysterious thing called “nuclear energy” works, and it tells us this: in order to be safe, there needs to be a way of cooling the reactor core at all times, come hell, earthquake or high water, or the whole thing will blow up.

Well, even if hell didn’t come (this is a Christian concept and doesn’t necessarily apply to largely non-Christian Japan, anyway), earthquake and high water did come, and at roughly the same time, too.

Guess what? The quake took out the primary energy source necessary for cooling the core in this type of reactor, and the tsunami took out the secondary source, and the tertiary – batteries – lasted for only eight hours, not enough to re-establish either the primary or secondary one.

Yes, I know this reactor design dates back to the seventies, and later designs are improved in this area. But the core fact still remains: in order to be safe, nuclear power requires more infrastructure to be available at all times than even a highly-industrialized country like Japan can provide.

So our common aims needs to be to phase out nuclear power over the next one or two decades; the sooner the better.

2011-02-25: Free Libya!

Future Libyan Flag

The probable flag of the Libyan nation after having rid itself of dictatorship.