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The Banality of Evil: NSA Recruitment Edition

Madiha Tahir, a journalist and PhD candidate, presents a transcript of her interaction with NSA staff who came to recruit at the summer language program where she is studying. "I had intended to go simply to hear how the NSA is recruiting at a moment when it’s facing severe challenges," says Tahir. Recruiters apparently discussed their "fun" after work, doing karaoke, having costume parties, and getting drunk. One of their slides asked the language students at the event "Are you good at manipulating people?" In the Q&A, Tahir and other students held their feet to the fire over surveillance of Germany and other EU countries.
posted by gusandrews on Jul 3, 2013 - 179 comments

Wagner's Dark Shadow: Can We Separate the Man from His Works?

Nike Wagner, the composer's great-granddaughter, puts the question that this raises in these terms: "Should we allow ourselves to listen to his works with pleasure, even though we know that he was an anti-Semite?" There's a bigger issue behind this question: Can Germans enjoy any part of their history in a carefree way?

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 27, 2013 - 122 comments

Germany in 2013, a political sketch

"[Peer Steinbrück, the chancellor-candidate] is a good man, with quite a bold programme for ‘social justice’. Tax increases for the better-off, a proper minimum wage, dual citizenship for immigrants, less elbowing individualism and more solidarity in a society where das Wir entscheidet – ‘it’s the we that counts.’ The German public, surprisingly, mostly agree that increasing taxes is a sound idea. What they resent is that the idea comes from the SPD. In the same way, the Augsburg programme is widely thought to make sense, but the voters don’t fancy Peer Steinbrück. They are pissed off with Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, but reluctant to let go of Mutti’s hand. In short, the public are in one of those sullen, unreasonable moods which make politicians despair." The LRB reports from Germany. [via]
posted by rollick on May 31, 2013 - 20 comments

Two Cathedrals

My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity…
All a poet can do today is warn.

Two 20th century choral masterpieces share more than Biblical texts. Benjamin Britten’s well known War Requiem, Op. 66 and Rudolf Mauersberger’s lesser known Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst were both written in response to the destruction of medieval architecture and major churches in WWII bombings. Since 1956, the cities of Coventry and Dresden have been twinned to promote peace and understanding. [more inside]
posted by Madamina on May 27, 2013 - 10 comments

Please don't frack with my beer

German Brewers Say Fracking Will Mess Up the Country's Beer (via The Atlantic) Brewing the world's best hefeweizen, you see, requires great drinking water -- and fracking, they said, "could reduce or even completely eliminate the security of the water supply." In a letter (in German), the organization (Deutscher Brauer-Bund) argued that this newfangled way of extracting energy would conflict with Europe's oldest food purity law, the Reinheitsgebot of 1516.
posted by michswiss on May 27, 2013 - 34 comments

The Myth of Nazi Efficiency

The Myth of Nazi Efficiency
posted by Miko on May 18, 2013 - 84 comments

World War II’s Strangest Battle: When Americans and Germans Fought Toget

Days after Hitler’s suicide a group of American soldiers, French prisoners, and, yes, German soldiers defended an Austrian castle against an SS division—the only time Germans and Allies fought together in World War II. Andrew Roberts on a story so wild that it has to be made into a movie.
posted by cthuljew on May 13, 2013 - 26 comments

Just remember to obey the red man and get some qualifications…

How to be German in 20 easy steps; also, from the same author: how to be English. Elsewhere: how to be a really hip German.
posted by acb on May 11, 2013 - 84 comments

Endbahnhof, bitte aussteigen Sie!

Endbahnhof, a collection of photographs of every U-Bahn station in Berlin, organised by line and showing the variety of architectural styles in the system. There is an interview with the photographer, Kate Seabrook, here.
posted by acb on Apr 28, 2013 - 10 comments

A little sunshine on a rainy day...

The Virtual Power Plant: "Critics of renewables have always claimed that sun and wind are only intermittent producers of electricity and need fossil fuel plants as back-up to make them viable. But German engineers have proved this is not so." A pilot program funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment offers a rebuttal to critics who claim renewable energy sources have an insurmountable variability problem.
posted by saulgoodman on Apr 5, 2013 - 24 comments

Operation Overlord

PhotosNormandie is a collaborative collection of more than 3,000 royalty-free photos from World War II's Battle of Normandy and its aftermath. (Photos date from June 6 to late August 1944). The main link goes to the photostream. You can also peruse sets, which include 2700+ images from the US and Canadian National Archives.
posted by zarq on Mar 19, 2013 - 12 comments

“...but the numbers are unbelievable.”

"The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking" [NYTimes.com]
"The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945."

posted by Fizz on Mar 2, 2013 - 61 comments

Bowie: "Get your own pig!"

"There are reasons why this film is obscure. It is, in the most charitable possible evaluation, a mess: Bowie has described it as "my 32 Elvis films rolled into one." And yet life on that ever-dwindling island of not-on-region-one DVD films is a harsh fate for any film and particularly for this one, which is at least as interesting as its cast suggests and a good deal more. You don't need to dig out the VHS player to watch Mick Jagger run an agency of gigolos in The Man From Elysian Fields—you shouldn't have to do so to watch Bowie play one. " David Bowie's Lost 70s-era Weimar Berlin Movie: Just a Gigalo.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 2, 2013 - 17 comments

iDon't Believe It

A German store hires an ace salesman to sell its iPads (SLYT)
posted by MuffinMan on Jan 29, 2013 - 32 comments

A German take on IRL Gaming

Camover is a new game from Germany.

The rules are simple: First, organize a crew starting with "Command", "Brigade" or "Cell", followed by the name of a historical figure. ("Van Der Lubbe") is one of many currently in use.) Next: Destroy as many CCTV cameras as possible! [more inside]
posted by dunkadunc on Jan 28, 2013 - 45 comments

It's not easy being meme: Techno Viking sues creator

You may dance like nobody's watching, but what if your dancing is videoed and becomes the base of an internet meme and subsequent cottage industry, all without your knowledge and without you receiving any compensation for it? Should you have the right to stop this exploitation, or was the artist who first popularised you in his rights to create new artwork based on the original video? That's what's at stake in the lawsuit of the Techno Viking against Matthias Fritsch. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 27, 2013 - 69 comments

Copy Culture in the US and Germany

The American Assembly has released their much-anticipated and well-presented study on Copy Culture. The random phone survey of 2303 Americans and 1000 Germans answers many questions about the demographics and public perception of file sharing and piracy. TorrentFreak pulls out some highlights.
posted by gilrain on Jan 15, 2013 - 17 comments

The Brutality of Experience

Brutal Baroque: An Ode To Midcentury Modern Churches: French photographer Fabrice Fouillet traveled across Europe photographing some of the most important examples of postwar churches, creating a catalogue of the spaces called Corpus Christi. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Dec 13, 2012 - 18 comments

Conservative politics, German-style

Jens Spahn is a parliamentarian in Germany's centre-right party, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and a committed Catholic. He is also gay, and has been openly so throughout his 11-year political career. While he does not focus specifically on gay issues, he advocates equal civil rights for gays and lesbians (including gay marriage, tax parity and adoption rights) from a conservative position. He does not regard this to be a contradiction.
posted by acb on Nov 24, 2012 - 32 comments

Prison of Debt Paralyzes West

Be it the United States or the European Union, most Western countries are so highly indebted today that the markets have a greater say in their policies than the people. Why are democratic countries so pathetic when it comes to managing their money sustainably? This clear, well-written essay in Der Speigel lays out the current debt crisis - along with current, proposed solutions - in an understandable manner. Not included among the so-far-proposed solutions is one other that has opened up a veritable financial market and debt Pandora's Box - i.e. a central bank debt jubilee.
posted by Vibrissae on Nov 19, 2012 - 118 comments

Memories of Amikejo

In the first decade of the 20th Century, a German Chief Justice was asked to hear the case of a man who had recently been found guilty according to a law code enacted in the last years of Napoleon's short-lived empire. No state in Europe still used that exact set of laws, but in one small part of the continent, there was an 850 acre plot of land which no state had claimed since the final defeat of Napoleon: Neutral Moresnet, also known as Kelmis, La Calamine or Amikejo. In To Govern, or Not to Govern: Prussia, Neutral Moresnet [pdf, click 'Download This Paper'] Steven Michael Press explains how Neutral Moresnet came to be, and how the Chief Justice ruled in the case. For more information, visit the Neutral Moresnet website. For an account by a visitor, read Unvisited Places of Old Europe by American travel writer Robert Shackleton [starts on page 157]. Finally, here's a podcast lecture by journalist and historian Neal Ascherson called Memories of Amikejo [iTunes link] reflecting on Neutral Moresnet's short existence and whether it tells us something about modern Europe. [Neutral Moresnet previously on MetaFilter]
posted by Kattullus on Oct 24, 2012 - 21 comments

"Are we the baddies?"

Danish author Sven Hassel (Wikipedia, official site) has passed away at the age of 95. (Danish - Translation) Hassel fought for the Germans during WWII and became famous after publishing Legion of the Damned, a semi-autobiographical account of the war. He went on to write thirteen more books following the adventures of his convict battalion, incuding Wheels of Terror which in 1987 was made into the movie The Misfit Brigade staring Bruce Davison and David Patrick Kelly (clip). He will be remembered fondly by all who browsed the bookshelves of charity shops as young men.
posted by Artw on Sep 23, 2012 - 31 comments

A pong traffic light in Germany

A pong traffic light in Germany
posted by adrianspiegel on Sep 10, 2012 - 27 comments

Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels

The Big Three of EU Foreign Policy: Stefan Lehne on the contrasting roles of Germany, France and the UK.
posted by rollick on Aug 3, 2012 - 4 comments

Aurochs

Heavy Breeding. "In 1920, the brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck, directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively, began a two-decade breeding experiment. Working with domestic cattle sought out for their 'primitive' characteristics, they attempted to recreate 'in appearance and behavior' the living likeness of the animals’ extinct wild ancestor: the aurochs. 'Once found everywhere in Germany,' according to Lutz Heck, by the end of the Middle Ages the aurochs had largely succumbed to climate change, overhunting, and competition from domestic breeds." [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Jul 21, 2012 - 31 comments

"The FDA recalled more than 60,000 tissue-derived products between 1994 and mid-2007."

"The business of recycling dead humans into medical implants is a little-known yet lucrative trade. But its practices have roused concerns about how tissues are obtained and how well grieving families and transplant patients are informed about the realities and the risks." After an eight month international investigation, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published an extensive four-part exposé into the black market for cadavers and human tissue: Skin and Bone: The Shadowy Trade in Human Body Parts (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 20, 2012 - 32 comments

The Pantone Merkel Chart

A Pantone chart of German chancellor Angela Merkel's many coloured jackets
posted by 0bvious on Jul 17, 2012 - 43 comments

"Maybe Monk Time is here at last."

You're a Monk, I'm a Monk, We're All Monks is a short video introduction to The Monks, a band founded in 1964 by five American soldiers in Germany. They put out only one album, the abrasive, noisy, minimalistic Black Monk Time in 1965, that sounded like nothing else at the time. They also dressed in all-black, shaved monkish tonsures in their hair and wore bits of rope as neckties. In 1966 they appeared on German TV shows Beat-Club and Beat, Beat, Beat, and played three songs on each, Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice, Monk Chant, Oh, How to Do Now, Complication, I Can't Get Over You and Cuckoo. Aaron Poehler interviewed The Monks and wrote about their history back in 1999. That same year they got back together to play at the Cavestomp festival. And here The Monks are being interviewed by a hand-puppet on public access television in Chicago. [The Monks previously on MetaFilter]
posted by Kattullus on Jul 12, 2012 - 49 comments

You eat too fast, and I understand why your antidyspeptic pill-makers cover your walls, your forests even, with their advertisements.

In 1891 author and lecturer ”Max O’Rell” (being the pen name of one Léon Paul Blouet) published an amusing account of his travels through the States and Eastern Canada - "A Frenchman In America" - that, along with the charming illustrations, reflect on then popular national stereotypes and character and is presented on Project Gutenberg in its entirely. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Jul 7, 2012 - 16 comments

"During the proceedings, the prosecutor took the time to mention that no other printer in the world could do what Kuhl had done."

Hans-Jurgen Kuhl was able to create "shockingly perfect" copies of the American $100 bill by using his artistic talents to conquer the various security features present in the bill.
posted by reenum on Jul 4, 2012 - 28 comments

Two Particularly Wonderful Mashups for Your Morning

Mashup-Germany - "The Day the Music Died" (YouTube/Soundcloud) and "Hey Jude, I'll Be There".
posted by WCityMike on Jul 3, 2012 - 13 comments

Circumcision in Germany is now illegal

A German court has ruled that male circumcision is "bodily harm" and that a child's right to "physical integrity" trumps parental or religious rights. Jews and Muslims have reacted strongly to the decision, with some going as far to allege anti-Semitism. Intactivists are generally pleased.
posted by mrgrimm on Jun 27, 2012 - 493 comments

For Everything Else, There is MarxCard

The German bank Sparkasse Chemnitz recently launched a Karl Marx credit card. It needs a tagline.
posted by vidur on Jun 17, 2012 - 53 comments

Animated Histories of European Football

In advance of Euro 2012, the Guardian has made animated histories of six of the competitors: England, Spain, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Germany and France. (Autoplay video in last six links.)
posted by hoyland on Jun 6, 2012 - 21 comments

The Party’s Over!

Missing Foundation was an underground industrial band formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1984 and year later, in 1985, the band relocated to New York City. Formed by Pete Missing along with two members of KMFDM and Florian Langmaack they were known for their destructive shows. They were active in 1988 riot in Tompkins Square Park (attempting to start another one in 1993) and lighting the stage of CBGBs on fire and destroying their sound system. Other members include Vern Toulon, the father of kid-punk band Old Skull. One of the indelible and lasting marks of the group was their logo: inverted martini over a three pronged tally along with slogans such as "1988 - 1933" and "Your House Is Mine". The slogans were illusions to what founder Peter Missing described as society verge of collapse and that a police state was imminent. The years representative of the year the Nazi's overtook the Weimar Republic. The logo symbolized the bands personal slogan of "the party's over". Founder Peter Missing now lives in Berlin and his artwork has exhibited at The Whitney, The Getty, MOMA after riding out some tough times in the mid-aughts.
posted by wcfields on May 25, 2012 - 19 comments

Women's lib... in space!

Star Maidens was an obscure and pretty much forgotten British/German low budget (they borrowed sets from Space 1999 ) science fiction televsion series from 1975... On the planet Medusa where the women (naturally all hot) rule over the men, two of the later inferior species escape (including Gareth 'Blake' Thomas!) to the 'paradise' of Earth [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 4, 2012 - 13 comments

Dream Pictures: hand-tinted glass travelogue slides by Branson DeCou

Moscow of 1931 is a collection of hand-tinted lantern slides by Branson DeCou, an American photographer and travelogue lecturer who traveled the world for 30 years before his death in 1941. You can view more of the DeCou corpus online at the Branson Decou Archive at the University of California, Santa Cruz where they've been attempting to sort, preserve, identify and digitize 10,000 DeCou slides received in 1971, a gift referred to the university chancellor by photographer Ansel Adams. [more inside]
posted by taz on Apr 14, 2012 - 16 comments

The attack of the dot-clones

How Three Germans Are Cloning the Web
"Launched out of a loft in New York City’s Garment District last June, Fab had sales of $20 million in its first six months and is on track to earn $100 million in 2012....Six months after Fab launched, it was knocked off. An e-commerce design site called Bamarang opened for business in Germany, the U.K., France, Australia, and Brazil...
Bamarang is the creation of Oliver, Marc, and Alexander Samwer, a trio of German brothers who have a wildly successful business model: Find a promising Internet business, in the U.S., and clone it internationally. Since starting their first dot-clone in 1999, a German version of EBay, they’ve duplicated Airbnb, eHarmony, Pinterest, and other high-profile businesses. In total, they’ve launched more than 100 companies."
[SLYBloombergBusinessweek]
posted by FirstMateKate on Mar 16, 2012 - 51 comments

Professors have status and responsibility?

Taking their position of status and responsibility into account, Germany's Constitutional Court has ruled that German university professors are underpaid. [more inside]
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow on Feb 14, 2012 - 46 comments

flower power

One of the last surviving members of the Edelweiss Pirates, a group of rebellious teenagers from western Germany who formed a resistance network against the Nazis, has died aged 82: Jean Jülich [more inside]
posted by Mister Bijou on Feb 7, 2012 - 19 comments

Nazi Propaganda

During a recent visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., I was reeducated in the power of branding — especially as applied to poster design — at the special exhibition, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, which demonstrates how the Nazi party used carefully crafted messages, advertising and design techniques, and then-new technologies (radio, television, film) to sway millions with its vision for a new Germany. (related)
posted by Trurl on Feb 2, 2012 - 28 comments

78 78s

78 78s - In Search Of Lost Time - is a streaming mix of beautiful 78s from around the world, collected and curated by Ian Nagoski. "I started sifting through boxes of junky old 78s that no one else wanted about 15 years ago, and almost right away, I made a rule: Anything that wasn't in English, buy it." [more inside]
posted by carter on Jan 29, 2012 - 15 comments

History doesn't always repeat itself; sometimes it rhymes

Germany celebrates a leader who was instrumental in bringing her power and glory as well as being responsible for carving up Poland [more inside]
posted by Renoroc on Jan 25, 2012 - 25 comments

The Lucas Cranach Art Archive

"The Cranach Digital Archive is an interdisciplinary collaborative research resource, providing access to art historical, technical and conservation information on paintings by Lucas Cranach (c.1472 - 1553) and his workshop. The repository presently provides information on more than 400 paintings including c.5000 images and documents from 19 partner institutions."
posted by peacay on Jan 18, 2012 - 4 comments

Julius Neubronner: apothecary, inventor, and a pioneer of amateur film and (pigeon) photography

Julius Neubronner, born in Germany in 1852, was the son of Wilhelm Neubronner. Wilhelm carried on the family-run pharmacy and had introduced rapid medicine delivery by way of carrier pigeon (Google books). Julius continued the family practice, including pigeon-delivery. As a young boy, Julius was interested in the then-newly invented cameras, and his hobby and his career merged when a once-punctual pigeon took was waylaid a month. Interested to find the source of the delay, Julius placed a miniature camera on the pigeon to see where it went. The effort was successful, and he improved upon the design, patenting a panoramic pigeon-carried camera that resulted in novel photos. Julius is also distinguished as an early German experimenter in amateur silent film. His recordings, including daily life, historic events, and film magic, were restored in 1996 (Google Quickview; original PDF).
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 9, 2012 - 15 comments

Fußball ist kein Tennis

During the month of December, 1. FC Union Berlin raised money to finance a new stand in its stadium by selling shares in the stadium to fans, under the slogan We're selling our soul. But not to just anyone! (YT--German). This is the second phase of renovation at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, to bring it up to 2. Bundesliga standards. Much of the work on the first phase was done by the fans themselves (DW video--English). [more inside]
posted by hoyland on Jan 2, 2012 - 9 comments

Class War: Low Wages and Beggar Thy Neighbor

A presentation by Dr. Heiner Flassbeck, a former deputy secretary in the German Ministry of Finance and currently chief economist the UN agency for World Trade and Development in Geneva. He talks about EMU and interest rates, and then links it all to class war and America.
posted by marienbad on Dec 13, 2011 - 8 comments

German bagpipes, y'all

I've been enjoying listening to this German guy playing the German bagpipes. That is, the Hümmelchen. Check out the cool tuning maneuver at the 0:57 mark of this clip for some hot Hümmelchen tuning action! And here he employs a groovy canned beat. Ya! He also dabbles in the Irish pipes, and loans out his workshop on occasion as a spot for some of the locals to get a little wild. Oh, and, of course, he also plays the Rauschpfeife. Yes, the Rauschpfeife. Hören!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 1, 2011 - 16 comments

The Great War

It's the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month where I am right now, so I present to you Europeana, a project collecting memorabilia and stories from the period of the Great War (1914-1918).
posted by unliteral on Nov 10, 2011 - 30 comments

Rise and Fall of a Condom Empire

Julius Fromm, a “quintessential ‘entrepreneurial proletariat’”, and a modest man with minimal education, sought a career alternative to making cigarettes and began taking evening classes in rubber chemistry around 1912. Julius Fromm then hit upon the idea of making condoms. The early condoms from the eighteenth century were generally made of animal intestines, and were used primarily by wealthy men – like Giacomo Casanova, who referred to them as “English riding coats” . . .
The Great Rubber Robbery: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis. via 3 quarks daily
posted by Rumple on Nov 9, 2011 - 2 comments

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