Sunday, December 25, 2011

My favorite flash mob

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Appearances, not content

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...
The allegedly unpresidential-looking Ron Paul. Image via Wikipedia
Earlier this year, I wrote over at SolarServer about my surprise at how Germans were willing to listen to nuclear experts who looked like hippies. I also blogged about it here:

My feeling is that, whatever their actual expertise, critics of nuclear power would need to look like conservative businessman to be heard out [in the US].

My observations were unfortunately spot-on, as we can now see in the coverage of presidential candidate Ron Paul. As the folks over at FAIR point out, the Washington Post starts off with the claim that Paul simply does not look right for the job. Another article in the Post also claims that Paul does not look "presidential."

Such reporting is indeed not uncommon in the US, where articles often start off with or at least include a description of the person. But as FAIR correctly states, the media are acting like it is unfortunate that we pay so much attention to appearance when, in fact, they could simply stop talking about it themselves and report on what Paul has to say – and I say that as someone who is diametrically opposed to many of his views.

Paul looks like a conservative businessman. The media's neglect of him on grounds of his looks and mannerisms is enough to make the Little Prince cringe.

Last week, I published this interview with British author Peter Watson, who agrees with me that Germany is far too grown-up for such shenanigans. (The German version is here if you want to read the [mostly negative] comments from German readers.)
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Plagiator to protect "Internet freedom"

Around two years ago, when Germany's current governing coalition took office, I wrote about how I could not understand the cabinet appointments. Now, it seems that a certain Mr Guttenberg, whom I have written about considerably (the former German Defense Minister who committed flagrant plagiarism in his dissertation), has been asked to help EU Commissioner Kroes look into how freedom on the Internet can be protected.

Once again, I fail to understand why this particular person was chosen – though, of course, a slew of people have already felt free enough on Internet forums and blogs to surmise that Mr. Googleberg (aka Minister of Copy & Paste) is obviously the perfect choice for Internet freedom.

Nonetheless, he has apparently never said anything or had anything to do with this issue. Decisions like these undermine public faith in our democratic processes by making the impression that some politicians are simply too important to drop. In other words, personality trumps merit.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Korean cuisine

One of the most important experiences in a foreign country is the food. In Korea, the emphasis is on freshness and variety. I don't think I have ever seen so much freshness in my life, and the wide array of side dishes made some meals seem like they had 15 courses.

The Korean diet seems to be largely based on vegetables, and is very low on salt and fat. My hosts certainly made sure that I had enough to eat during my visit, but I did not gain any weight during those 8 days.

I put together a video for you to explain the experience. We have a lot to learn from Koreans. If Americans and Europeans switched from their prefab food to fresh vegetables, obesity would be drastically less common – as the waistlines in Korea show.