OSU FlaggenVor dem Gebäude, in dem ich arbeite, wehen die Flaggen des Landes, der Nation und der Uni. Gestern wehten sie auf Halbmast.

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Wie schon angekündigt, gab es ein paar Mitschnitte von Ensembles, in denen ich mitgespielt habe.

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Filled with deep sadness I have to realize that I can't watch the games of the soccer world cup 2006 in Germany live on TV.

Why? They are on, aren't they?

Ah, well, yes. But they are on around noonish, and at work, we don't have cable, so I am stuck with taping them and watching them later. Which is not even remotely as spicey as watching a game live.

However, I can probably be sure that I won't meet anyone all day who cares about the world cup, so at least nobody will spoil it for me ;) Back home in Germany, it wouldn't take any more than like 10 minutes until somebody cheered outside, telling you who won.

Especially when it was the German team who won.

By the way, if you are into betting on sports events but don't really want to spend money, try Stoccer. It is a market research project from my home university back in Germany and it works like a stock market for national team "stocks". They try to predict who'll win the world cup from analyzing what users "buy" what teams. Sounds like fun, I think I will join it!

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Die Übermittlung europäischer Fluggastdaten an US-Behörden ist illegal. Das hat der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) in Luxemburg entschieden. Der EuGH erklärte entsprechende Beschlüsse des EU-Ministerrats und der EU-Kommission für nichtig und folgte damit einer Klage des Europa-Parlaments. (via tagesschau.de)

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Am Dienstag sind meine Eltern zu Besuch gekommen, und deshalb kriegen sie gerade die volle Ladung amerikanischen Kulturschock. Natürlich habe ich schon das ein oder andere mal damit beeindrucken können, dass ich viel zu schnell sprechende Bedienungen in bekanntere, deutsche Sätze packen konnte.

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Today a colleague asked me...

... by the way, do they celebrate Veterans Day in Germany?

hm. Ah, well... not quite.

But he figured it out himself ;)

German flag, half-staffAnyhow, the question is actually not as stupid as it sounds. The Federal Republic of Germany does not quite celebrate the "great work" of the German soldiers during World War II with a veterans day, for obvious reasons. However, we celebrate Volkstrauertag (similar to the idea behind "Memorial Day" in the U.S.), which is dedicated to those who died during wars in general, or suffered from them (especially the two World Wars). Regardless of their nationality, by the way. It is celebrated each year in November, two sundays before the beginning of advent.

The flags on official buildings are set half-staff, and the President holds a speech in the German parliament, the Bundestag. Afterwards, they play the national anthem and usually, the "good comrade" ("Ich hatt' einen Kameraden"), a famous German dirge. All over Germany, people get together to commemorate and put down memorial wreaths in front of war monuments. (I myself usually play the aforementioned songs with my orchestra in our home town).

So, now you know how it is, dear readers :). Of course, everything is different in Germany, but as you see, it is often still quite similar.

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That kind of impressed me today when I saw this Washington Post article on digg.com:

A Washington Post poll shows that the majority (63%) of Americans are ok with the cyber and wiretapping efforts of the NSA. Almost the same percentage, even a little more, are ok if their personal calls were collected by the NSA. Americans are apparently willing to sacrifice privacy for security.

That disturbs me a little bit. Are these people concerned about privacy so little? Are basic civil rights not an issue, as long as gas is cheap? It seems to be a socially inherent problem in the U.S.: Society (in the majority of cases) here seems to be highly judgemental, insisting on personal freedom far more than I have ever seen before but at the same time not leaving their hands off issues that are just not their business, i.e. somebody else's private concerns. <!--more--> For me as a foreigner, this is a highly interesting, unusual paradox to watch. Everybody claims to be trying so hard to keep the government out of their lives, not pay many taxes, almost unrestrictedly bear arms, etc.; however, when it comes to revealing your whole life to random people, including governmental organizations, in fact they sacrifice so many basic rights that I myself are sometimes deeply impressed and also a little sad. How come do I have to do a big "screening" process when I want to move into a new apartment, for example? Why do I have to put my social security number on almost every ridiculous small flyer I am filling out somewhere? Why are companies selling my address and additional information to other companies without my consent (and without getting punished)?

People here say that other countries are not as free as this one (quote: "Is Germany a little free too, or are you totally excited about being in a free country?"). They say, we can bear arms, you can't. They say, gas is so expensive in Europe. They say, you can't be a Nazi in Germany, so it's not free.

But when it comes to rights of personal freedom, e.g. the sanctities of the home (which are much easier to circumvent here than where I come from), "innocent until proven guilty" (which seems to be the other way around, just in case your word stands against the one of a cop) or simply informational self-determination (i.e. deciding what information to give people about yourself and what not), people are so up to sacrificing every single piece of the rights that truly make a democracy a place worth living in. Not to speak of basic things that, sorry to say that, are just none of everybody else's business but the people's who are involved. Are the people who shout the word freedom out so loudly the same ones that took ages (in fact, till 2003(!)) to eventually realize that other people's bedrooms are usually not of public interest (many still don't believe it)? The same who gladly sell you a gun years before they allow you to have a beer with your lunch?

I just want to shake them. Wake up, you are sacrificing yourself here. Get conscious. Life is not about getting three cents off the gallon of gas. There's more to it.

But they keep sleeping.

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September 2005:

  • ich: "Eine Pizza... bitte."
  • Bedienung, sofort: "Oh, aus welchem Teil Deutschlands kommen Sie?"

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Long time no blog. Didn't have too much time to do geeky stuff recently :-/

Doesn't mean the world stopped spinning, though:

You know that the world is still spinning the right way when:

  • the preacher in front of the university library is still preaching, as usual
  • the fellow students are still wearing either pjs or shorts, regardless if it's less than 50 degrees (10 ºC) outside
  • the sun is shining but at the same time it's raining anyway. After all, this is Oregon.
  • you found yet another annoying yet ineffective OLCC trap that kept you from buying a beer in spite of you being old enough
  • due to the obvious lack of sound isolation, you can still hear every single step of your neighbors upstairs
  • the commercials still use German words to sound more "hip"... and it apparently works
  • and after all, you seem to be the only one thinking that some of these things are a little weird, sometimes ;)

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Finally I got my Oregon License and from now on, I won't have to

  • give people my passport
  • take care of the immigration documents not to fall out of it
  • show them which page to look at
  • help them to find the birth date on it
  • wait five minutes until they can finally read it
  • make an evil face to match the photo


Yeah :)

I will miss the evil face part, though ;)

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