Thursday, June 29, 2006

Things I like about Germany- part IV


I realized it during the Soccer World Championship. People were surprised about the friendliness and readiness to help of the German people.
We came in contact with some Americans who came over for the championship (!). They were surprised and had to revise some prejudices about the Krauts.
I think it is also helpful that most Germans speak at least a little English and many of them also a second foreign language. On the other hand many hardly speak any German, well just a joke.
Germany 2006: A time to make friends!


Some people talk about
crisis but Germany has a large variety of noted and qualitative outstanding newspapers. As there are:

Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ):
My newspaper! I have a subscription since 1990.
Published in Munich. Although the title means literally "South German Newspaper", the Süddeutsche Zeitung is read throughout Germany (447,505 copies). The editorial stance is center-left—leading some to joke that the SZ is the only opposition in the state of Bavaria, which has been governed by the conservative CSU party almost consecutively since 1949.
I enjoy the fabulous sports, feuilleton and economy parts. Opinion leader in Germany besides the
Spiegel and well in some lowbrow aspects the tabloid Bild-Zeitung.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ):
Founded in 1949, it is published daily in Frankfurt am Main. The Sunday edition is the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. It is the second largest newspaper in Germany (406,279 copies). Its political orientation is liberally conservative (as far as such description still makes sense today) with an occasional support for nationalist views, but it is not afraid of providing a forum to commentators with different views.
Traditionally, no photographs appear on the title page of the FAZ.

Die Welt:
"Die Welt" is a German national daily newspaper published by the Axel Springer AG company (that also publishes Bild, see above). It was founded in Hamburg in 1946 by the British occupying forces, and takes a centre-right political position (in its own words, "liberal cosmopolitan").
The average circulation of "Die Welt" is currently about 250,000 which means number three in the German market. Daily regional editions appear in Berlin and Hamburg, and in 2002 the paper experimented with a Bavarian edition.

Following are:
Berliner Zeitung (207,800 copies)
Frankfurter Rundschau (FR; 186,942 copies)
Der Tagesspiegel (148,000 copies)
die tageszeitung (taz; 68,414 copies)

At last I want to mention the weekly newspaper

Die Zeit (weekly, 475,342 copies)
Die Zeit is a German nationwide weekly newspaper (literally translated: Time). It is the most widely read German weekly and has a very high reputation as a quality newspaper. The publishing house is seated in Hamburg. The first edition was printed February 21, 1946.
The founding publishers were Gerd Bucerius, Lovis H. Lorenz, Richard Tüngel and Ewald Schmidt di Simoni.
Another important founder was Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, who published Die Zeit from 1972 to her death in 2002, from 1983 onwards together with former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, later joined by Josef Joffe and former German federal secretary of culture Michael Naumann.
The paper is very centrist and high brow, and has oscillated a number of times between slightly left-leaning and slightly right-leaning. It is known for its very large physical size and its long and detailed articles.

I grew up and therefore I would like to mention it, with the northeast Bavarian newspaper
Frankenpost (literally: Franconian mail), exactly its layer "Selber Tagblatt" (I went to school in Selb). The editorial stance was center-left in former days, I don't know if this has changed. The result of elections changed from social democratic to conservative, also in this former stronghold of porcellaine and textile industry.
I remember the horrible sports coverage of Rugard Knöchel. He had the worst writing style. Oh, I just read, that he has
retired. Lucky readers. Maybe I should go and apply for his job.

I have lost the thread and so I will finish for today. Good night and good luck.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gone but not forgotten - Brown bear Bruno

Bruno, the first brown bear on German soil in 170 years, has been shot dead. When he entered Bavaria in May from neighbouring Austria, Germany celebrated the return of the native son, but in the weeks to follow, Bruno's insatiable appetite for sheep, rabbits and chicken and fearlessness of mankind became cause for concern. While animal rights groups demanded Bruno's live capture, politicians wanted him dead or alive with a growing preference for the former.
Why this? How did the bear grow up? Teenager, loner, problem childhood, violent, migratory background, multiple violations of the Schengen Agreement, non-vegetarian, suspected of behavioural disorder. A few counts against him.
There's no doubt that he would have been better off if he had behaved decently and integrated, as a speaker from the federal ministry of supposed natural protection said. Nonetheless, I insist that as a foreigner, Bruno should have been subject to "criminal law for the enemy" and that "expatriation (expulsion to a third country, here Italy) or incarceration (preventive detention)" would have been preferable to simply mowing him down (more on Bruno's end here and a picture of him here). Poor Bruno, shame on you, killers!

Friday, June 23, 2006

News from poetry part V


A swing grinds on its chains.
A child sits pushing.
There's no eucalyptus,
atlas pine, or flowering ash,
no other child is calling
from the tender modulations of leaves:
just each note
of her ringing heart,
the feeling of being pushed
into the air.
I often think about
the long process that loves
the sound we make.
It swings us until
we've got it by heart:
the music we are.
But sometimes I sense
the child's life
twisted away from its
own mystery: the voice
struck, held back.
I long to be a symphony
levitated by grace-notes.
Quietly, I wait,
listening to myself
when, suddenly innocent of misery -
that feeling comes
of being lifted into the air:
that clear singing
above bare stones, above
the common rattle
of chains.

Judith Beverage, Australia

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Expulsion of paradise - Dallas Mavericks and Edmonton Oilers defeated

It could have been a dream, but it turned out to be a nightmare.

Dallas had a 2:0 lead in the NBA finals and lost the following four games to lose 2:4 against the blazing Miami Heat.
Shaquille O'Neal showed signs of age but the rising Dwyane Wade put the team on his back (believe me, Shaq and Antoine Walker are heavy!) and lifted them to the sky and their first (Shaq's fourth) championship ring. He was named MVP of the finals and he has deserved it.
Dallas had started furiously but broke after losing game three after a huge lead. They never regained the will to fight back and believe in their chance. Especially after the dramatic loss in game five, with some stupid mistakes (100:101).
What a chance missed by Dirk Nowitzki and his team. These final games of all games turned out to be the bewitched. But after all a glorious season nevertheless and hopefully the guys will come back after digesting the series in summer.

The Edmonton Oilers had the chance to win the Stanley Cup after 16 years of failure.
They came back from a 1:3 standing after winning in Carolina scoring on a shorthanded breakaway in overtime in game five and tying the Stanley Cup Final with an impressive 4-0 victory at Rexall Place in game six.
But the Carolina Hurricanes took home their first Stanley Cup in game seven in Raleigh, N.C.
Entering Game 7, historical stats favored the Hurricanes, as home teams had won 11 of 13 Game 7s in Stanley Cup Final history. But the Oilers appeared to have more gas left in the tank after pulling even in the series after dropping three of the first four games. The Hurricanes seemed finished after a 4-0 loss in Game 6 in Edmonton, but Carolina lived up to its motto of "Whatever It Takes" and somehow summoned the energy and grit to become champions.
North Carolina sounds more like summer and heat than ice hockey to me, Tina has lived there for two years and told me about it.
But they seem to be good at winter sports as well.
I hoped for Edmonton, sorry Steve, I hope you are not too frustrated.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Heinrich Heine Award 2006: The unfair decline of Peter Handke

The Heinrich Heine prize of the city of Düsseldorf was established on the occasion of Heines 175th birthday. The honor is awarded to personalities who through their work in the spirit of Heine's emphasis on the basic rights of man, advance social and political progress, mutual understanding of the peoples, or spread the idea that all people belong to the same group: mankind.

Controversy concerning Peter Handke in 2006

The jury that decided the prize consisted of 5 members of the city government, 1 representative of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the rector of the Heinrich Heine University, and 5 other members (critics and literary experts). The 5 members from the city government have 1 vote each, the others 2 votes each.
On May 20, 2006, the jury voted 12:5 to award the prize to Peter Handke (the state representative was not present). The major congratulated Handke, and Handke accepted the award.
According to press reports, a majority of the city council of Duesseldorf did not want to award the prize to Handke, arguing that his (perceived) support of Slobodan Milošević's oppresive regime was in blatant conflict with the spirit of the prize. According to the statutes of the Heine prize, "the city council awards the prize based on the decision of the jury". On 2 June 2006, jury members Siegrid Löffler and Jean-Pierre Lefèbvre decleared to leave the jury in protest.
A huge battle over Peter Handke started to rage (more here, here and here).

Peter Handke finally refused the Heinrich Heine award 2006 and a farce came to an end.

In an article entitled by the paper "Je refuse!", the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published the brief correspondence between Peter Handke and Düsseldorf Mayor Joachim Erwin on the subject of the Heinrich Heine Prize. Handke writes: "I am writing to you today with the express intention of saving you (and the world) the bother of a meeting of the Dusseldorf City Council (if that's what it's called) to declare the decision to give me the prize null and void. I'm also doing this to save myself the bother, or rather the ghost of myself which is currently haunting the public, and even more importantly to save my work, or should I say stuff, from being exposed again and again to this kind of ridicule from one party politician or another."

In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Thomas Steinfeld took a bitter look at the Heinrich Heine Prize affair, with especially harsh words far the city's politicians: "The last idea the city council had before Peter Handke officially refused the prize was that Heinrich Heine University should organise a symposium at which his work could be discussed, and where Handke himself could answer for his words and actions. The whole thing would have constituted a tribunal arraigning the poet, to his own detriment. There is something consternating about the idea. Can the Düsseldorf aldermen really have learned nothing from the conflict of the last ten days, do they really not see what an injustice they have done?"

One of the most important authors of the German-speaking region was damaged irreversible.
Some of the politicians admitted, that they have never read a single book of Peter Handke! How can they presume to judge about works they do not know?
What an attack on the freedom of arts. The jury, which awarded Handke the price, possessed sufficient artistic, aesthetic and political-moral authority and did not require the correction by political instances.

But: Harm set, harm get. Time will tell.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Soccer World Championship 2006 in Germany

One week is over now, here the first resumee. Besides some annoying aspects like

  • poor organization of ticket sales, e.g. only 30% of the tickets for free sale (for the fans!)
  • ridiculous greed for money of the FIFA, leading to marketing that nobody, nobody understands
  • the omnipresent "Emperor" Franz Beckenbauer, the chief of the organizational committee
the Soccer World Championship 2006 in Germany seems to be a success so far.

I'm in Italy and therefore I can look it from abroad with the neccessary distance. We get some information from our friends and families at home:

  • Nuremberg is on of the game hosting cities. It offered Mexico vs. Iran and England vs. Trinidad-Tobago. There were 40.000 Mexican and 60.000 English fans in town. Huge parties took place, no riots as far as we know.
  • Thousands of teenagers camp in Nuremberg and turn the night into day.
  • Interesting and fair matches (no penalty so far!) with nearly sold out stadiums

We had the chance to watch almost all the games here and enjoyed this. Germany has won the first to matches against Costa Rica and Poland. In the round of sixteen probably England or Sweden will wait for us. That's hard enough.
Sweden is my favourite besides Germany. They have beat Paraguay yesterday in an unbelievably fast and technically outstanding game. We can start to pray already.

No success for Africa up to know, but this can change soon. We saw Trinidad-Tobago fight, maybe the biggest outsider.
None of the favourites started very convincingly. Even Brazil hat its problems.
Looks like some thrilling weeks lying before us. I will stay tuned.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mavericks smother Heat with big defense - Take 2-0 Lead

Ratcheting up the defense and stifling superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade to the point of frustration, the determined Dallas Mavericks moved a step closer to their first NBA championship with a thorough 99-85 defeat of the Miami Heat.

German Dirk Nowitzki regained his scoring touch with 26 points, 16 rebounds and 4 assists for the Mavericks, who opened a commanding 2-0 series lead. After not playing particularly well in a 90-80 win in Game 1, Dallas dominated every aspect of Game 2 as it led by as many as 27 points.

Where Dallas truly dictated was on defense, using its growing advantages in depth and quickness to make O'Neal look like an earthling and Wade -- who has been sick in these latter stages of the Playoffs -- look like a man in need of another boost of vitamins.

Carry on, Mavericks!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Holiday coverage: From Punta Ala / Tuscany / Italy

What has happened? We are here for one week on the beautiful camping site Baia Verde; eight buddies willing to live on beer, coffee, sun, sea, laughter, watching Football World Championship and air. We arrived safely after a 10 hour trip, driving 1000 km from Germany to southern Italy.

  • Germany has won its first round match against Costa Rica 4:2
  • One of my favourite teams, Sweden, hasn't managed to win against Trinidad Tobago (only 0:0). But they will come back
  • Dirk Nowitzki has won the first match of the NBA Finals against Miami with the Dallas Mavericks
  • Tina and Emma are in Lienz, Austria with Tina's parents (who are there for the "millionth" time). I will miss them a lot
  • Yesterday we had perfect weather, right now it's raining. I'm wrong, the sun is back again. It's changing every minute or so
  • My sister-in-law Catrin and her boyfriend Steve are close to leave Cananda for a trip to Europe, starting on Thursday
  • I slept for 9 hours, I don't know when that has happened in the last months
  • Who has won the tennis French open?
  • I will have to write about the scandal around the Heinrich Heine Preis and the author Peter Handke when I am back to Germany; that is so annoying
  • Now I'm heading to the beach

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tina's day: June 9, 1974

It's Tina's 32nd birthday today. I have written a poem for her, logically in German. Happy birthday, darling!!!


Der Sinn des Lebens,
ist alles vergebens?
Was bleibt wenn wir gehen?
Was wird denn bestehen?

Bäume, gepflanzte,
Tänze, getanzte?
Häuser, gebaute,
Blicke, geschaute?

Träume, geträumte,
Chancen, versäumte?
Kontinente, entdeckte,
Küsse, geschmeckte?

Tränen, geweinte,
Menschen, vereinte?
Worte, gesprochne,
Herzen, gebrochne?

Lächeln, gelachte,
Nächte, durchwachte?
Kinder, gezeugte,
Rücken, gebeugte?

Welten, gestürzte,
Lippen, geschürzte?
Haut, gespürte,
Menschen, berührte?

Was nun aber bleibt?
Frage an die Ewigkeit.
Die Antwort vom Orakel:
Prüf nicht auf jeden Makel.

Leb’ für die Liebe hier,
sie ist des Lebens Elixier.
Der Rest und darauf mein Schwur:
der Rest ist nur Makulatur.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Nobel Prize 2040

My sister-in-law Catrin has written about Emma.

I couldn't have said it better, but as the father this would have sounded presumptuous.
Emma is an amazing little baby, that's what I can say. When she looks at me, I feel like she looks right through me. It's hard to fool her, but anyway who would want to?
She loves to talk to us and we laugh a lot. She has the prettiest smile you can imagine.
Her funniest words are Mahlzeit (enjoy!) and Hausschuh (slipper), which she pronouces perfectly.
When we tell her, that a guest will come, she keeps repeating the name of him/her. Although she often doesn't know them. Yesterday we had a Peter and she kept saying Peter, Peter, Peter all the time. Her favourite guest are her Omas and Opas (grandparents).
She is reading books, when we change her diapers. The incarnation of a subsequent toilet reader.
She could live on bananas, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, pretzels, spinache and sausages if we would let her. Not the worst diet after all.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Mavericks regain speed - Lone star Nowitzki scores 50 - Two matchpoints ahead

The Mavericks came back from a frustrating loss in Phoenix which led to tied series (2:2).

In the second quarter, Phoenix' Tim Thomas blew a kiss at Dirk Nowitzki. In the fourth quarter, Nowitzki blew away the Phoenix Suns.

Nowitzki scored 22 of his franchise playoff-record 50 points in the final period to power the Dallas Mavericks to a 117-101 victory over the Suns in the pivotal fifth game of the Western Conference finals.

Responding with a vengeance after his first poor game of the postseason, Nowitzki took complete control and moved the fourth-seeded Mavericks within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals. They can get there with a win at Phoenix on Friday.
The breakout star of the postseason, Nowitzki has carried Dallas with his scoring, rebounding, leadership and toughness. He finally showed he was human in Game 4 as he managed just 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting. But he came back better than ever and showed his strengh.

The team's dream is within reach now. Dallas has two matchpoints on Saturday and Monday.
Their potentials opponents in the Finals Miami and Detroit can already start to shiver.

For Dirk Fans like me