BLOG ON SEMI-HIATUS (Sticky Post)

3 09 2018

I have left St. Louis for job in the Rhine-Ruhr Region of Germany.

This blog is in a state of semi-hiatus, as of September 4, 2018.

I’ll write posts here every once in awhile, just to update you all on how I’m doing, and my thoughts on whatever big news breaks. Our favorite doggy will chime in every once in awhile with his own guest posts. Other than that, expect posting around here to be sparse going forward.

Reading material:

My Labor Day 2018 farewell post — My final post from St. Louis for awhile, perhaps ever.

My post from July 26, 2018, announcing my departure.

The preview of my Summer 2018 travelogue that I’ll probably never get to write in full.

My long and frequently updated post on my condition and recovery — If I experience any significant progression or regression in my recovery, I or our favorite doggy will let you know, and this post will be appendaged. As of the time of my moving, my cognitive functioning has mostly recovered in full, but my physical functioning is still far from it, I’m still in a wheelchair during waking hours more often than not, and if I can stay upright on two feet, it’s for an hour at the longest, usually less.

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Foot in the Door

15 10 2018

Munich

I would have liked better than ten percent and fourth place.

But if you remember my preview, I told you that no result within a very wide range would have surprised me, and this result was within that range, albeit very close to the low bookend.

Since the benchmark was the 12% the AfD got in the Federals in Bavaria thirteen months ago, this actually represents a step backward.

The other bad news is what you read in the last paragraph of my preview.  I don’t yet have hard or soft evidence, but I get the feeling that one will find close to a perfect negative linear correlation between median household income in a jurisdiction and the percent of the vote the AfD got.  Meaning that, while Bavaria is overall prosperous, the least prosperous people in a prosperous state were the ones most likely to vote AfD.  Meaning that, if my hunch is right, yesterday did not kick the nagging reputation.

So, all in all, while there were a lot of older Americans for a long time that still voted for FDR over Hoover, and while there are a lot of older Swedes we saw last month that will vote SAP no matter what, the CSU is still a reflexive voting habit for a lot of people around here.  But as we saw yesterday and today, they’re not the future.

Geographically, while the AfD was not expected to do well at all in Munich itself, and it did not, in fact, Munich is mostly where the Greens bled away from the SPD, it obviously did much better everywhere else.  In the preview, I speculated about a differential between the “real” Bavaria and the parts of Franconia and Swabia that are now in the current state of Bavaria.  From what I see, there was no marked difference.

The good news is that, since the AfD entirely bled off the CSU, and the gains for the Greens over 2013 were bled entirely off the SPD, (don’t let any of the clever talking heads around here tell you any differently as far as that goes),  it means that the AfD is the singular reason why the CSU no longer has an absolute majority in the Landtag, and must seek partners.  Almost all of the news and hype over yesterday relates to the MacGuffin tale of how this affects Merkel, Seehofer, Söder, the CDU and CSU, and the Grand Coalition in the Bundestag, not much about the AfD itself.  I was hoping for a seven alarm Drudge headline because the AfD did so outstandingly well, but bonk.

The other good news is that the AfD now has its foot in the door, and enough of a share of the Landtag to shape state policy on occasion.  And something to build upon

***

After almost a month here in Munich, I finally get to leave tomorrow.  I really do like the city, but I’ve got other places to be and other things to do. We’ll meet each other again, in Spaceballs II: The Search For More Money

I’ll be headed back to Cologne, but I have stops to make in Hechingen, to visit Hohenzollern Castle and fill up on some Swabian cuisine, to Basel, Switzerland, because reasons, to Freiburg and the Clock Route, in order to arrange for my mother’s 80th birthday present to be sent to her, and from that, I guess you can figure out what the present will be.  All goes according to itinerary, I’ll finally be back “home” in Cologne on Sunday.

That said, I’m glad I didn’t go back to Cologne today.

***

Repeat performance in Wiesbaden two weeks from yesterday, and of course I’ll be there.





Swiftly Flow the Days

9 10 2018

Brussels

A few of you in my peanut gallery have plonked this in my inbox, figuring it was relevant to me, and wanting to know my opinion.

I already wrote about it back on September 18 in my Minds feed, but I’ll cut and paste here.

***

Germany and the entire EU does clock changing on the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October.

What this means is that we’ll be falling back the last Sunday of this October, then springing ahead the last Sunday next March for sure. If Germany sticks with daylight time, then no more changing the clocks, if standard time, then fall back the following October then stay there.

As an aside, I’m sure that clock changing days are really hectic along the Clock Route in the Black Forest.

Cologne is slightly misplaced in time zone, it is slightly west of 7.5 degrees East (6.95 E) which indicates it should be in the UTC+0 zone (England) but is really, like all of Germany, in the UTC+1 zone (Central European), a zone which, BTW, is way too big and way too overextended. For instance, France, virtually all of which is in UTC+1, should be in UTC+0, because virtually if not actually all of it is west of 7.5 degrees East. Spain is the same way, though in its case, it’s definitely entirely west of 7.5 E.

What this means for Cologne is this:

Compared to St. Louis, Cologne is much further north in latitude, and much further west compared to the baseline longitude of its time zone, and that baseline is 15 E for the UTC+1 zone. St. Louis is close to its time zone’s natural baseline (90 W for UTC-6).

What this means is that, compared to St. Louis, Cologne’s latest summer sunset is very late, but the tradeoff is that its latest winter sunrise is also very late.

Latest Winter Sunrise

Cologne: 8:35 am
St. Louis: 7:19 am

Earliest Winter Sunset

Cologne: 4:26 pm
St. Louis: 4:39 pm

Earliest Summer Sunrise

Cologne: 5:18 am
St. Louis: 5:36 am

Latest Summer Sunset

Cologne: 9:50 pm
St. Louis: 8:29 pm

Which means if Germany sticks with daylight time, the latest winter sunrise will be 9:35 am. However, if it sticks with standard, earliest summer sunrise will be 4:18 am.

During the summer voyage, we got as far north as Hamburg, and there, the effect is even more pronounced. 4:50 am summer sunrise, 9:54 pm summer sunset, 8:37 am winter sunrise, 4:00 pm winter sunset. So if Germany sticks with daylight, the winter sunrise will be 9:37 am, but if it stays with standard, the summer sunrise will be 3:50 am.

Another problem is that the EU is not requiring all member states to come to the same decision of either standard or daylight, all it’s doing is requiring the end of switching. Meaning that in the same literal time zone, one country could be ahead or behind another.

Recommendation: EU should make France, Spain and Benelux countries switch to UTC+0 which is more natural zone, then make either daylight or standard a choice that all member states should make in the collective.





The Great Bavarian Fun House of Question Mark Mirrors

9 10 2018

Munich

Now my promised handicapping.

As you can figure, Oktoberfest has given me a good close read on Bavarians, so I’m ready to make a prediction on what will happen this coming Sunday.

But before I do that, I have to point out several indisputable facts:

(1) Bavarians march to the beat of their own drummer, and have for quite some time, pridefully so. Which means that the kind of conventional wisdom that works for most people may fail when trying to apply it to Bavarians. They’re hard to grok.

(2) Bavarians are generally content, happy and prosperous. Here’s a hint: Of Germany’s large cities that non-Germans of an average geographical education can easily identify, Munich has the highest GDP per capita. And by “highest,” I mean it beats the second place city by a wide margin.  The second place city happens to be Frankfurt, which, being Germany’s and continental Europe’s banking hub, would be a city that one expects to have a high GDP per capita.  For Munich not just to beat Frankfurt at all, but beat it like a drum, and doing it as a city that is not itself a banking mecca, tells you just how prosperous is Munich.  Furthermore, Munich’s GDP is distributed more equitably and more fairly than Frankfurt’s GDP (Gini coefficient).  Meaning that in terms of percentage odds, the average Munichista is much more likely personally to feel his city’s prosperity than is the average Frankfurter.  The rest of Bavaria is generally prosperous, by first world smaller city and small town and rural standards.

(3) Bavarians are really nervous and skittish about the immigration, demographic and national question. Mainly because they know that the mystery meat have the want to plant themselves in Bavaria, especially Munich, precisely because of what I told you in (2). Immigrants don’t cause prosperity, they go where the prosperity already is. Just in case that little bit of correlation-causation tripped you up.  Even if they don’t want to plant themselves in Munich or Bavaria, many have to pass through here to get to other places, and cause a lot of problems while just passing through.

(4) Election day is precisely one week after the end of Oktoberfest, always a happy and joyous occasion, and I think the timing of that will matter to the outcome.

(5) Election season is coming on the heels of the Battle of Chemnitz, which is pretty close by. Then again, by American standards, any two places in Germany are really close to each other. Yet and still, by German standards, Chemnitz/Saxony are close, in fact, the states of Bavaria and Saxony have a little bit of a common border.  That is also timing which I think will matter.

(6) Election season here is only a little more than a month after the Swedish national elections, where the SD made improvements but fell short of “expectations,” i.e. what I believe to be the media and political establishment parroting SD-friendly outlier polling data knowing they wouldn’t do that well, in order to prefigure the “zomg disappointment” manufactured media talking point. It could be the case that the SD making big steps forward but still short of being the first or even second place finisher could be harbinger for how it will turn out for the AfD here in Bavaria on Sunday.

(7) This will be the AfD’s first try in the Bavarian Landtag. The previous election, September 2013, the party was barely an infant, having been formed nationally in February of that year, so it didn’t compete here in Bavaria in that cycle. However, in last year’s Federal elections, the AfD competed everywhere, and the Bavaria-specific results were CSU 38%, SPD 15%, AfD 12%.  Compared to the national results of Union 33%, SPD 21%, AfD 13%.

(8) Historically, the CSU finishes in first place, has in every Bavarian Landtag election since the end of WWII with the single exception of 1950, and a majority of the time gets an absolute majority of the vote. In 2013, it got 47%.

(9) This election season is happening in the wake of the Merkel-Seehofer-Maaßen soap opera, and the real story there, in spite of the media hoopla and MacGuffinization, is that Seehofer tried to weaponize the BfV to throw shade on the AfD purely to beat them back in advance of this coming Sunday and what they could do to Seehofer’s CSU.

(10) We found out more than a week ago that within the last several months, Seehofer is the major German elected public official who has experienced the most precipitous decline in esteem and favorability. No reasons were officially speculated, but I just told you why: People weren’t cool with his dirty tricks. His stench I think will land on the CSU Landtag candidates, even though Seehofer is a Federally elected politician himself, leads the CSU in the Bundestag.

(11) The CSU is a Bavaria-only party, and it would be an existential embarrassment if it lost control of the Bavarian Landtag. When I was here in Munich as a tourist over the summer, I saw that the CSU has a pretty new building here in town for its party HQ, and I’m sure it’s got a nice big fat mortgage payment. The bank certainly can’t afford for the CSU to go kaput now.

(12) Which is why Merkel, Seehofer, Markus Söder (current Bavarian state premier) have all been working hard to nose right and coopt the AfD agenda in the last few weeks, and will continue to do so for the rest of this week.

(13)  Within the last two weeks, a national poll came out to show that the AfD is the second most popular party in the country with 18% support.

(14)  A slightly complicating factor is that the current state of Bavaria is way more extensive than the traditional quintessential Bavaria.  It contains much of what used to be Franconia, including Nuremberg and its satellite cities, and a little bit of what used to be Swabia.  Bavarians might march to the beat of their own drummer, but I don’t know if that’s so true for Franconians and Swabians, save Swabians have what is as of now the most prominent surviving extant dialect of the German language, and a unique cuisine, some of that I’ll be filling up on, on my way between Munich and Basel, next week.  Yet and still, most Franconians and some Swabians get to vote in Bavarian elections, which will complicate my handicapping.

Mash this all together, and my ultimate prediction of what will happen on Sunday is that I have no solid cock-sure prediction.

Seriously.

I can see anything from as bad as the AfD finishing in third with single digits, from as good as the AfD finishing at first with a plurality but not majority percentage, to anything in between. Any one of those scenarios would not surprise me in the least.

Bavarians’ happiness and prosperity, and the election coming after Oktoberfest, and the SD’s not quite punching through in Sweden, and the fact that the AfD are rookies, and the fact that the CSU is so politically-culturally ingrained in Bavaria, and the CSU’s coopting the AfD manifesto, points to them sticking with the CSU.  There’s also the matter of the aforementioned bank that holds the mortgage on the new CSU HQ building, and I have pretty good reason to believe that the bank in question has been trying to wield subtle political influence to swing voters to the CSU.

Bavarians’ nervousness over immigration and seeing what happened in next door Saxony (a state where the AfD finished in first place in last year’s national elections, the only state where they did), and perhaps their aversion to the anti-AfD dirty tricks the homeboy Seehofer tried to play, points to them switching to AfD. If you use the 2017 Federal numbers as a baseline, and figure on some minimal level of AfD growth, then you’d think that at the very least the AfD will come in second with at least 15%. Or maybe, Bavarians, with their march-to-their-own-drummer quirkiness, will do something for reasons I can’t fathom.

Then there are the wild cards of Franconians and Swabians.

After having read all this, I know you’re mad, because I teased and tempted you with all this cogent analysis, yet I won’t give a prediction.  So there you go, sticking a gun between my eyes, forcing one out of me.

2nd place with 17%.

Why?

Remember, in the 2017 Federals, the AfD only slightly underperformed its national average in Bavaria.  Now we know it has 18% nationally, so I’m just shaving a percent off.  And guessing that a party that gets 17% in Bavaria considering the chess board situations of the other parties will finish in second place.

The Bavarian Landtag uses a mixed member proportional representation system, similar to the Bundestag, but with a few cosmetic differences.  Which means, if the AfD does finish in 2nd place with 17%, it will get some Landtag seats just as a matter of some of its candidates finishing in first place in some districts, but it will also be apportioned some seats based on getting over a certain threshold, and I’m sure 17% is well above whatever that is.  Based on the fact that a Bavarian Landtag voter, just like a Bundestag voter, gets to vote for both person to represent district and preferred political party.  What it means is that, if the AfD does get 17%, that political energy won’t be wasted in a first-past-the-post or winner-take-all dummy load.  It would result in that which Horst’s Ass Seehofer has feared for months:  Sinking the CSU under an absolute majority in the Landtag constituted from Sunday’s results.

***

However, I will say this with certitude: It’s important that the AfD at the very least shows well, and by that, I mean rock bottom 15%/2nd, for this reason: It needs to demonstrate that it can do well among prosperous people. In order to beat back the meme that nationalist politics are only the province of economically destitute losers.





Homage to Bavaria

9 10 2018

Munich

Oktoberfest, yes, it was a whole hell of a lot of fun.

But on the other hand, I’m glad it’s over.

Because I don’t think I could have taken any more fun.

***

A few observations:

(1) I look at Oktoberfest on two levels.  On one level, it has to be the world’s greatest annual festival whose reputation is indicative of a country.  The only competition I can think of off hand is Carnival in Rio, but its pleasures are way more carnal than alcoholic.

On the other hand, I get a feeling of deja vu, because it’s just like the county fairs and the Missouri State Fair I schlepped to during my lobbying days, in that it’s a big center for political networking and gossip trading.  It and Salzburg before that were a really good opportunities for me to fatten by German and European ‘Dex, because it’s not like I exactly came here with an extensive one.

Because learning German for me is going to be way more of an immersive experience than a theoretical experience, Oktoberfest was also a good classroom.

(2)  During the summer voyage, Munich was going away my favorite big city.  If I didn’t have to live in Cologne or anywhere in the 3R for strategic and logistical reasons, and I could live anywhere I wanted in Germany as long as it was a big city, it would definitely be Munich.  By the time I get to leave here a week from today, I’ll practically have every nook and cranny and back alley in the city memorized.  But before I go back to Cologne, I have stops to make in Hechingen, Basel, Freiburg, and the Uhrenstraße.

(3)  I used the word “homage” in the title of this post.  On one day during the first week here, someone that looked really familiar to me walked past me along with someone else, he got as close to me by maybe three yards, while going in the opposite direction of where I was sitting still.  I couldn’t figure it out at first, but later that night, the word “homage” came to my mind for some reason, then it all fell in place — “Homage to Catalonia,” by Orwell.  Catalonia.  Carles Puigdemont.

I still wonder what he was doing here in Munich, and as it so happens, during that same week, it was the one year anniversary of the referendum in Catalonia, and exuberant supporters of independents and the cops mixed it up.  I wonder if that has anything to do with his being here.

As you know, I have mixed feelings about the current question of Catalonian independence.

Also there were rumors going around on Sunday, the final day, that Bill and Hillary Clinton were hanging around this scene over the final weekend.  I can’t confirm that with my eyeballs, but I let myself go in terms of knocking ’em back over the final weekend, in contrast to before when I did mind my Ps and Qs because I was trying to schmooze and network, so they could have been ten feet in front of me, but I was so far gone that I would have been none the wiser.

(4)  I never had a collection of fine beer mugs before now, but I’ve just started one.

(5)  A lot more mystery meat here than I would have thought, and more than I was comfortable with.  I put my life in the hands of the BKA and the Bavarian Police, hoping they’d prevent any of those trucks of peace or 72 virgin seekers.  While there was nothing that major, there were plenty of minor incidents involving mystery meat, a Pakistani woman tried to finger rape another woman, a Somalian dindu kept it real with a cop, a few stabby Afghanis, a few bite-y Afghanis, a father was charged with assault because he saved his daughter from a potentially rape-y Ethiopian.  Other than that, nothing unusual happened, considering there were masses and throngs of people, most of them were a bit tipsy and some were three sheets to the wind, and you always have to expect some level of stupidity and lame-brainedness from people that far gone.

(6)  Oktoberfest would for me have been a lot more fun around 2004.  This is part of the travelogue I’ll never get to write, but in spite of what people might guess, the big problem with modern day Berlin is that it’s flopping around like a fish out of water trying to find an identity.  But, from reunification to the financial crash in 2008, Berlin was one of the world’s great party towns, indicative of the young adults of Germany’s equivalent of Generation X squatting in abandoned East Berlin holes in the wall right after reunification, and eventually developing one of the world’s great party music scenes.  A disproportionate percentage of the club and party music in the circa 1992 to 2008 time frame, some of which I spun during my amateur DJing days, came from Berlin, and in fact, in my own collection, one can find three different artist-group names alone with “Berlin” in the title, and many more individual songs by others with “Berlin” in the title, not to mention the many others from Berlin without “Berlin” in the title.  During the 1992-2008 time frame, I understand, the best spinners from the Berlin party scene would come down to Munich for Oktoberfest and show off their new warez for the occasion just as the breweries show off their new special occasion Oktoberfest beers.

But, the thing about hot parties is that eventually, they don’t jump like they used to, then they end.  Which means I’m in a wheelchair, and Berlin is trying to find an identity.

(7) In case you’re wondering, while I wore casual-formal attire for most days, I did take the plunge and wear lederhosen for the final weekend, including the feathered hat.  I hope I have possession and control over every photo of myself wearing them, because if anyone else has any, I know they’ll make for very good blackmail fodder.

***

Now I’m turning my attention to the real reason I’m here, and that’s this coming Sunday, though it’s not as if I wasn’t focused on that day for the last two weeks and change.  My next post here, which I will write after I hit the big red button on this one, will be my handicapping Sunday’s vote.





Don’t Misunderstand Steve

9 10 2018

Rome

MLP misunderstands what Bannon is up to.

Maybe it’s because of the way Bannon carries himself, with his swagger. She must think that Bannon is the quintessential Ugly American only in a photographic negative sense, in that instead of trying to Americanize Europe as has been the official American want since the end of WWII, he is instead thinking himself some civic nationalist white knight riding into the continent on a golden unicorn to save the continent from itself, showing those backward anti-nationalist rubes how it’s done.

But she’s reading him and his intentions inaccurately. And she’s missing the implications and inferences of his doing what he’s doing in Europe, though the fact of that is hardly her fault, because it takes x-ray eyes to figure out what’s really going on in that stead.

That’s all I can say so publicly.

But as a make good for not being able to fill in all the blanks, I’ll provide some musical accompaniment.

 

 





Why I’m Really Here

9 10 2018

Munich

Oktoberfest ended on Sunday, I’ve finally recovered from the hangover and other afflictions, and now the real order of business kicks into high gear, insert BMW pun here.

No, not quite that, but close enough in the opinion of some people.

What I’m really trying to do is prevent this:

That big political shock headline out of Brazil you saw on Drudge yesterday? We’re all hoping for another one five days from today. I just hope they saved enough beer for our victory party on Sunday night and Monday, hope they didn’t drink it all at Oktoberfest. Though this being Germany and Bavaria in particular, of course there will be enough beer. There’s always enough beer.

I’ll have three more posts following this one, shortly.





In Other Words, the Teenage Sons of Your Cheap Domestic Servants

7 10 2018

East Quogue, New York

Schaedenfreude, to use a word the people of my native country borrowed from the language of the people of my current country.

Or, if you prefer, petard hoisted own.