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“Isn’t the Right to Work a Civil Right?”

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Lutz Brockmann is the first mayor who the union speaker can remember who managed to appear on each and every May Day rally in Verden to date. “Only you have managed that, Lutz.”

Good to know that our mayor got something done in his six first years in office.

Verden's mayor Lutz Brockmann greets the masses

Verden's mayor Lutz Brockmann greets the masses

Apart from Mr Brockmann himself who is a member of the social democrats (SPD), neither the SPD nor the “Left Party” had information booths at the rally. The (market)-liberal democrats (FDP) were obviously missing, too, and so were the conservative christian democrats (CDU). The Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG Metall) had a booth there, and so had the Green Party.

At least one employer was there, too, but stayed on the sidelines. The union speaker didn’t invite him for a beer.

The rally was organized by the German Federation of Unions, the DGB. And it was a smart decision to let a green politician talk. Brigitte Pothmer is a member of the German federal parliament (Bundestag), and she was the one who could actually deliver something that deserves to be called a speech. She even had the nerves to tell her audience that Greece needed financial help, and that it would get financial help: “The longer it take, the more costly it will be.”

That said, just like everyone else, she kept talking about the rights of young people to be trained in the companies after finishing schools, about the right to earn good money for ones good work, the right to this, the right to that. No word about the need to do a good piece of work before getting paid, and no word about the duties to learn reading, writing, and to acquire a basic numeracy before being unleashed on innocent industrial units.

“Isn’t the right to work a civil right? Aren’t decent wages a civil right?”

Obvious answer: to prepare oneself for a good working life is a civil duty. To get the means to make it happen is a civil right. To dumb oneself down is not.

There was a lot of talk about the youngsters and their rights. Their right to oversleep wasn’t mentioned, but it was manifest yesterday morning. You saw many greyheads there on the rally, and I remember no0ne who might have been younger than thirty.

And that, even though they only started at eleven a.m., rather than at 10 a.m. as tradition would demand.

It would have been an even smaller congregation of early Christians if they hadn’t been joined by unionists from the neighbouring town of Achim, who organized a bicycle tour to Verden. Achim itself hasn’t seen a May Day rally this year.

Anyway, Mrs Pothmer made an entertaining talk. And the trade unionist, as usual, managed to produce at least one phrase which made no sense at all. Something like “more work for more money”.

Weather was nice, same as last year. It only started raining in the afternoon. And the Bratwurst was even better than last year.


The German Schools are Ready

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I felt tempted to say that they are ready from day one, but Hilary Clinton said she was, and her day didn’t come. But anyway: we, the teachers are ready, and the schools are ready.

Many questions are asked about the schools. In most cases, they are asked by people who should ask questions about themselves instead. By parents who are glad to send their kids to school, not because they want their children to learn something, but because they are glad to see the back of them, at least for a while. Politicians who put parents’ voliton first, and neglect teachers’ expertise, because there are many parents, but only few teachers in their constituencies, should ask themselves questions.

And if parents or teachers – or both – start asking themselves question, day one will be here.

That’s haughty, right? But you see, teachers have constantly asked themselves questions during the past ten or fifteen years. And teachers have studied, been trained on the job, and twenty or thirty years ago, as a student, I would have survived even the worst of my colleagues of today. Compared to my teachers decades ago, they are geniuses.

It’s time that others start asking themselves questions now.

Robert Enke, One of the Last Defenders

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Once in a while, I’m teasing a friend from Portugal. Portugal is the country where the evening news start with soccer results, and more soccer results, and lots of backgrounders, and comments from coaches and managers, and outfield players, and of course the last defenders. And may be after tons of information of that kind, the Portuguese will be informed about a big tax reform, rates of unemployment, or the death of their president (if their president passed away).

I won’t tease my Portuguese friend again. Maybe the Portuguese are a bit dumber than us, but we will soon catch up with them.

Robert Enke was a German football goalkeeper. He played at Barcelona, Benfica Lisbon, and Fenerbahce Istanbul, and until Tuesday, at Hannover 96. He was also one of the German national soccer team’s goalkeepers.

He was 32 years old when he died. He used a train and its drivers to get killed. In the media accounts, he “apparently threw himself in front of a train”. Or maybe he just stood there and waited for the train to hit him.

Bishop Margot Käßmann, recently elected to lead Germany’s Lutherans (“church must be where the citizens are. This is true for the sunday services, but also for radio and television”) led an initial memorial service in Hannover.

Enke and his wife had suffered a stroke from fate when they lost their daughter at an age of only two, and Enke had suffered from depressions for several years.

Now, everyone is very sad, which brings a line from the incomparable British Queen to my mind, after the death of Princess Diana, and H.M.’s immanent beheading for not showing her feelings (or so it appeared):

“Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her. I for one believe there are lessons to be drawn from her life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death.”

Can there be a more subtle way to criticize a howling mob?

Robert Enke was probably an admirable man. Even more so, as he was ambitious, but not showy. He played a constructive role in public life, without the annoying attitude of a popstar. And he did his job as a last defender as long as he could. That he didn’t seek help when he needed it is a tragedy, but no exceptional tragedy.

Let’s hope that the train drivers – one colleague was making another familiar with the section around Hannover when their train struck Robert Enke – will be able continue their work, without a trauma. Very little is said about them.

And let’s hope that Mr Enke’s widow, Teresa Enke, will get what she asked the fans for: a funeral limited to family people and close friends. It’s a natural and legitimate request.

The fans should figure out someone who actually needs their sympathy. A soccer club is no family.

Written by taide

November 14, 2009 at 10:22 am

Asma al-Assad is the Queen Diana of the Orient, Die Zeit says (not)

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Ooooh! Aaah! Wow! Asma al-Assad is so cool! Her Chic even outshines  Michele Obama and Carla Bruni! And she’s so unassuming, she even takes her and her awkward and stiff husband’s (that’s the president of the Syrian Arab Republic) children to the kindergarten herself! And beside her housework, she beguiles us on the national and international stage!

OK. Anyway, Germany’s weekly Die Zeit, a paper which traditionally minded its reputation as a serious news source, it absolutely beguiled. Asma al-Assad belongs to the growing circle of modern Arab first ladies who – skilled and self-confident – know how to act on the international stage (the term “stage” is used for the second time in the article here), and claim their public position at home, too, Die Zeit advises us.

Why does this picture make me think of... [click on the picture]
Why does this picture make me think of…  [click on the picture above]

And what’s the sensation? Syria’s first lady grew up in Britain. Did Die Zeit believe that wearing a burkha and never inching outside her home without her husband is in an Arab woman’s genes?

At least they don’t refer to her as the Lady Di of Arabia. They only quote Paris Match, a gossip magazine (yes, that how a gossip columnist with Die Zeit refers to gossip magazines) as saying so. Or, rather, Queen Diana, Die Zeit says Paris Match says.

Or who says so? Die Zeit doesn’t mention the name of the article’s author.

Or was it really mohdsuak who wrote it? That’s right, the Die Zeit article is also available in English – everything you ever wanted to know about the Queen Diana of the Orient! If the link should get lost, let me know, and I’ll post the English article here in full.

So was the original in article in German or in English? Was it bulkware written by a histrionic intern writing bulk articles for a news agency? Did he or she meet Mme Assad in the real world and conduct an interview with her?

Who knows? And who cares?

Written by taide

September 12, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Not-So-Brainy Talent Search

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Advice for Parents: Media Skills and Optimal Braces Are the Way into your Child's Happy Future!

Advice for Parents: Media Skills and Optimal Braces Are the Way into your Child's Happy 'n Successful Future!

Der Spiegel explains why children who start school earlier than others often lose out during the school years. They are reportedly about  30% less likely to enter college later, than other pupils.

Unfortunately, there is no material about what can happen when a child enters school at a regular age, but then leapfrogs one schoolyear or several due to excellent school performance.

Whenever parents want to see their brat start working as soon as possible, so that they can at last pay off their ambitious homestead, pushing the kids into college at an age of two years less than average may look like a wonderful strategy. Besides, who doesn’t want to have a wunderkind?

But unfortunately, their kids often fail even harder than traditionally weak learners. They may become verhaltensauffällig (“behaviour disordered”) and are frequently disembarked at child or adolescent psychologists’ practices as a result. Arguably pretty often, the professionals won’t try to talk real sense into the parents – after all, they want to keep their business.

Written by taide

September 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Sex and the Souq

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Ulrike Putz reports from Damascus, Sankt Pauli Nachrichten sorry, DER SPIEGEL, proudly tells us. Ms Putz’ story about sexy underwear on sale in the souq of Damascus is mostly about future mothers-in-law buying this kind of lingerie, reportedly as dowry for their daughters, so that the sons-in-law may be too fascinated with their newlywed to care about other women.

most wanted

most wanted

Terrible, isn’t it? The most beautiful stuff of the world becomes a profane investment! Isn’t that prostitution?! Anyway, DER SPIEGEL’s readers seem to find it terrible, too. Sexy Underwear for Thousand and One Nights was most wanted yesterday.

To learn from DER SPIEGEL and Ulrike Putz is to learn victory. So this is my contribution.

It's hot in here

It's hot in here

Expecting terrific traffic this weekend:

Tai De

Written by taide

April 18, 2009 at 9:16 am

“Improving School”

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Wilhelm Hogrefe is a member of Lower Saxony’s state parliament in Hanover. His constituency is Verden. He is also chairman of the district school committee.

Germany’s federal government will offer an amount of about 900 mn Euros, provided that Lower Saxony will add 300 mn from its own coffers. And the federal government rules that 65% of the package have to be spent on education.

Mr Hogrefe wants to call a study group, and he has some suggestions for its agenda already. The study group should agree to improving school lessons and school equipment. Interactive blackboards (called whiteboard when interactive) would come at 1.5 mn Euros if introduced in all the district’s schools.

Besides, Mr Hogrefe calls for a Region of Learning under the auspices of the regional Adult Education Centre and the regional Vocational School.
And he wants better-trained teachers, especially in the field of media competence.

No question – he is making all the right suggestions. All the right suggestions to get re-elected, that is. If this leads to better education is a different story.

Media-competent teachers? Chances are that teachers know when it is time to switch off television – or the internet – and get to work themselves. They could teach children a good deal about that, if only it was their business, and not the parents’ business. That’s media competence.
Inter-active whiteboards? Cool! Old-fashioned Chalkboards might look like work and discourage the poor children.

Last but not least, Mr Hogrefe would like to encourage teachers, students, parents and  vocational instructors to take part in an ideas competition.
Yes, even teachers!

What’s wrong with that? Is this another frustrated teacher who refuses to improve his professional skills? Not at all. Let me put it this way: school in Germany works best where parents have less of a say.
But asking only teachers wouldn’t get Mr Hogrefe re-elected. He’s doing nothing wrong. He only shows us once again what is wrong with our educational system.

What a bummer about the money. And the students. You bet they won’t be much smarter in ten years. Not thanks to this investment programme anyway.


P.S.: JR has an interesting Chinese take on Western fun-schooling there.

Written by taide

February 1, 2009 at 3:01 pm