oddly enough, quicklink

Night of the long knives.

Kids, don’t click this link if you cannot entirely rule out the possibility of having a plastic surgery one day. Via Lillimarleen comes this link (Update 06/02/2014: link not working) to awful examples of plastic surgery.

And indeed, having at least a little idea of the kind of stunning effects well done plastic surgery can have, I am surprised that even some A-list celebrities are still being visually handicapped by their beauty-ops. Anyway – have a look, if you dare.

Oh, and here’s another beauty related statistic I recently overheard: In Venezuela, half of the upper-class girls aged 16-20 are getting “something” done -maybe that’s the reason why Venezuelan girls are renown for their beauty.


Eve And The Last Gentlemen.

Gentlemen, if you aren’t already feeling bad because of the weather try reading Steve Jones’s essay “The image of Y” in today’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (premium). Jones is about to publish a book about the genetic deficiencies, disadvanatges and misconfigu­rations of the stuff that makes us what we are. And no, I am not talking about beer, football, Porsches or even Playboy magazine, but the “Y”-chromosome. Not surprisingly then, his book is called “Y“.

In addition to the significant costs of being male that we’re already bearing – shorter life expectancy, no multiple orgasms, only to mention a few – according to Mr. Jones it might well be that

“…in less than ten million years, the male gene-machinery might take an entirely different turn, and what we call man today might have changed completely.”

Gentlemen, it might not be immediate, but we could be an endangered species. This, my fellow Adams, seems to be a point worth mentioning when talking to specimen of the Eve-il female genetic predators out there…

German Politics

Unintended Consequences.

The investigation against a Ukrainian criminal women trafficing organisation that has also led to cocaine possession charges against the tv talk show host and vice chaiman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany is having a positive side effects. Just as Mr Friedman’s home was raided and searched for cocaine because he had talked to call-girl-ring pimps whose phones were monitored by police, some German Parlamentarians seem to have become involved in this investigation.

Prostitution (but not pimpimp) is entirely legal in Germany so they could not be charged for indulging in sexual favours of East European women, but, well – for all our old European decadent open-mindedness – paying for sexual services is still something at least most public figures will certainly never talk about freely (But then again, there are public figures who used their party-paid-for airline miles for personal trips to Bangkok…)

So now German MPs are seriously annoyed about the simplicity with which “third parties” to an investigation can become dragged into a criminal prosecution and possibly have to bear the negative consequences of publicity, an argument made for ages by just about every privacy advocate with a public voice, including Green MP Christian Stroebele.

While I usually don’t agree with his loony-left arguments, I hope he is right when he says that (according to Spiegel Online) personal vulnerability could help MPs from all parties to rebalance privacy and security arguments.

German Politics, oddly enough, quicklink, sex

Skandal im Sperrbezirk?

The ongoing investigation regarding a ring of east European women trafficers that has led to alligations of Cocaine posession against the German “political” talk show host and vice-chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Michael Friedman seems likely to become some sort of the Berlin Republic’s first Heidi Fleiss scandal.

Meanwhile, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reviews the Bonn Republics history of scandals and comes to the conclusion that there really wasn’t anything saucy… but now, luckily, things are about to change ;-).

Political Theory, USA

It’s Been A Hard Day’s

and I’m having trouble with my computer. So I won’t be exactly long winded for a change ;-).

There are many reasons for people to pursue a particular lifestyle or live in a particular culture. Some do it by choice [disregarding for practical reasons that any discussion about “choice” will sooner or later approach the “free will” dilemma], others less so – if for genetic or societal or whichever reasons. And in many instances there is no clear-cut criterion for a moral ranking of any of these lifestyles or cultures – they are incommensurable.

I have been confronted with this thought twice tonight. For the first time while I have been reading a recommendable essay by the University of Chicago’s Richard A. Shweder. It is called “Moral Maps, ‘First World’ Conceits and the New Evangelists” and deals with some problems relating to the seemingly eternal moral rivalry of “cultural relativism” and “moral universalism”.

Richard A. Shweder is an anthropologist, but as he states himself in the essay, that doesn’t actually say a lot about a person’s belief system (anymore). I very much enjoyed reading this essay although I do not agree with his final conclusion that the world’s cultures will not converge economically if cultural conversion to western values should indeed be a condition for this to happen. But read and decide for yourself.

And then – the second time – I found a practical example of the new evangelism/moral universalism Mr Shweder was alluding to – even within the geographical “west” – an article on MSNBC news about a new mission Southern Baptists (apparently a larger American evangelical denomination) have assigned themselves to –

“The Southern Baptist Convention announced a new initiative Tuesday to convince gays that they can become heterosexual if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their ‘sinful, destructive lifestyle.'”

I might disagree with Mr Shweder with respect to the question of cultures choosing less productive economic models over more productive ones in order to preserve socialised identities in the very long run (in my opinion, the real question here is, how exactly does de- and re-institutionalisation of cultural elements and their importance for individual identities work in reality – a question to which the Iraki “adventure” will probably add some observations) but I doubt the Southern Baptists will be particularly successful on their latest mission…

OK, now that was a bit longer than I thought it would be.

compulsory reading, oddly enough, USA

American Girls Are Easy. German Guys Are boo-ZAH.

For the better or worse, in my experience it’s the same with American girls as with girls from anywhere – some are easy, most aren’t.

However, two self-proclaimed easy ones, Erin and Meghan, who are “young enough to pay an added fee on rental cars, but old enough to feel uncomfortable in college bars“, have written an internet travel diary during their not-exactly-back-pack trip to Europe last summer. And after that they sat down and compiled their experiences with “semi-disposable [male] EUrail-friends” (Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet) into a handy guide for easy American girls touring Europe – old and new – whose title slightly reminds of Kate Hudson’s latest movie effort (in which she played a certainly non-easy American girl) – “How to Find a Man in Europe and Leave Him There“.

Obviously, I was interested how the two Las Vegans on the run verbalised the impression my people (meaning German guys) made on them. Writing this kind of extrapolatory generalisation, especially tongue-in-cheek-writing this kind of extrapolatory generalisation is clearly difficult because you have to find the right balance. The balance between stereotypes and “grain of truth” as well as the balance between witty writing and inclusion of facts.

And Erin and Meghan do it quite well, although I have to say their verdict is overly strict sometimes as the travel dictionary indicates how much fun they had over here. Their essay is certainly much more about witty writing and stereotyped fun than about inclusion of data points and scientific generalisation. But that doesn’t hurt, and moreover, doesn’t come too unexpectedly – how many data points could one actually expect after a few weeks’ journey, even for easy American girls?

So after having read my (actually quite unnecessary) disclaimer, you can now go on to read their assessment of my breed in the entirety. Or just stick with some goodies…

“… A German man thinks arguing is fun. Just argue back for a while and before you know it you’ll have him laughing (maybe) and buying you a beer for being such a good sport. …

All the hype about German efficiency comes to a halt at four-way stop signs. Europeans do not understand the concept of line formation or one-at-a-time and Germans are no exception. Instead of smashing into one another, as is customary in many countries, Germans yield to car on their right. As you know, a four-way stop is a square, so there’s always someone on the right. As they can’t break “the rules,” there is often a long, confused delay….

Germans also save time when speaking. Every language cuts corners when it’s spoken, but German takes corner-cutting to another level. When ordering from a restaurant, a German would not say: “I’d like to have the schnitzel and fries, please.” He’d simply demand, “Schnitzel and fries.” Germans have weeded most niceties out of their language; being polite takes too much time….

If you’re lucky enough to find a good-looking guy in Germany, we recommend approaching him first because Germans aren’t the most brazen men. If you lack guts, you can easily manipulate the situation and give him a reason to approach you. For instance, crossing the street without the proper pedestrian green light will make him yell. And yelling can ignite a great conversation. … You’ll find it surprisingly effortless to get your German man target riled and screaming at you. Just keep smiling and keep cool and before long you’ll have a date Saturday night.

We advise against asking any questions about your appearance because you may get harsh answers. In fact, you may get harsh answers without asking any questions. If he dislikes the clothes you’re wearing, he’ll tell you. If he thinks you look fat, he’ll tell you. The same brutal honesty goes for questions directed at him. If you ask how he’s doing, be prepared for an extensive discussion about his gastrointestinal problems the night before.

A German man will know many gory details about your country. In fact, he can probably name more American state capitals than the majority of Americans. He’ll assume you know basic history (Everyone in his country does.), so to stop from coming across as a moron, try to fake your way around things you’re unfamiliar with…

If you want to give a German guy the cold shoulder, good luck. If you think his sense of humor sucks, wait until you see his people reading skills. He’s used to dealing with practical, direct Germans so he’s not going to pick up on your desperate subtleties. If you pull the, “I’ll be right back, I’m going to the bathroom” stunt, you’ll find him waiting outside the ladies room. If you try the bathroom trick eight times in one night he’ll think you have a small bladder. You’ve got to be direct.”

Oh, and of course – they have this pocket phonetic dictionary that will help you survive over here, certainly in these rough times of the transatlantic rift… and it proves the Erin and Meghan do really seem to understand German culture a little…

“A beer from the tap, please – Eye-n beer here.
Can I drive your car, please? – Gib meer dee shh-LOO-sell YET-zst.
Does your dog bite? – Bice-t dine who-nd?
Does your wife bite? – Bice-t dine-uh fr-OW?
Just because I’m blond doesn’t mean I’m perfect. – Halt dine moon-d.
Please don’t invade my country. – Hill-f mish.
Where can I recycle this? – Ish ha-BUH mule.
Why are you yelling? – Vuh-ROOM bist doo so boo-ZAH?
You should laugh, the joke was funny. – K-eye-n on-gst, eye-n fitz ist goot.”

media, photoblogging, US Politics, USA

Living History. Deleting Posts.

Ken Starr Grand Jury - Monica is not here

After Blogger decided to shred two of my planned entries today I have settled for one involving only very little typing.

I was in Washington, DC, back in 1998 when the Starr-Rreport was released, and I have never in my life seen so many journalists per square-centimeter.

I only had a tiny disposable camera with me, and the reddish part in the right hand side – yeah, that’s my middle finger.

I guess Hillary Clinton will have a more interesting account of that part of her living history. Der Spiegel has some German excerpts from her biography/political re-positioning in this week’s print edition.

I am not particularly interested in this kind of books, but I did have a brief look at the excerpt. I can’t help but wonder. What does Hillary Clinton really mean when she writes about she and Bill managed to get on after, well, you know –

“The Key to understanding our marriage is certainly our common history. But to be true, our relationship is too profound to be put into words. Maybe I could express it this way: In the Spring of 1971 I began a conversation with Bill Clinton, and more than thirty later we still talk to each other.”

“We still talk to each other?” Now here I can’t help but wonder if I believe this is a positive or negative verdict about their relationship…

Note: As this is a re-translation from German, I don’t know what she actually wrote. Last week’s Wolfowitz-oil quip should be a sufficient reminder of the perils of translation.

Iraq, oddly enough, quicklink, sex, USA

Make War. Then Love.

Well, not quite love, but it’s closest capitalist pseudo-substitute. According to this Reuters report, a Nevada brothel has come up with a truly unusual marketing ploy.

It is offering 50 “free rides” to US military personnel with Iraq exposure – “‘We want to feel patriotic and feel we are doing something for our servicemen,’ [a brothel representative] said. ‘If we owned a Dairy Queen we would be giving away free ice cream…'”