Wolf Biermann lays it on the line

November 30, 2006 at 1:01 am | In ideas, social_critique | Comments Off on Wolf Biermann lays it on the line

Thank god for blogging, where you can just gush and not worry about measured prose and proper balance. Therefore: for pete’s sake, read Wolf Biermann’s most excellent and impassioned speech, Germany betrays Israel. That’s all. Just read it.

It’s a shortened version of a speech he gave in Israel last month. The German original was published in Die Zeit, Deutschland verraet Israel.

Even this shortened version is long (Germans aren’t necessarily known for being pithy), but it’s one of the best things I’ve read on the topic in ages. Absolutely to the point — and I write this in full acknowledgement of my own stance of opposing the war. But the way things are going now, I think Biermann is right.

Some excerpts:

As I see it, it was a mistake for Germany not to line up with the Americans and the British in the war against Iraq in 2003. I would go as far as to say that the French president Chirac and his little German pal, the false pacifist Bundeskanzler Schröder, bear much of the blame for the Iraq war of the Americans and the British against Saddam Hussein’s terror regime. The war three years ago might possibly have been avoided, because the dictator might have stepped down had the West spoken with one tongue and threatened with one fist. Yes I think that the Germans and the French are to blame for the fate of this monumental racketeer. Because their appeasement policies suggested to Saddam Hussein that he might be able to save his bacon with his totalitarian tricks, live on as bloody-minded dictator. Saddam was not expecting that Bush and Blair would be so naive as to launch into war without their most vital allies Chirac and Schröder. He lacked the imagination to picture himself leaving his perfumed kitsch palace for a stinking hole in the ground, followed by an iron cage in court and finally the gallows.


The simpler-minded average German sides with the Arabs. There is much under-the-breath muttering, growling and whining of that old chorus: the Jews are to blame for everything! And when faced with reflex accusations of anti-Semitism, today’s Jew-haters reply coolly: “Surely one can criticise one’s friends!” The Germans have a steely eye on the Jews in Israel, and a moist eye on the Arabs in Palestine. But the German romantic sympathy for the Islamists in the Middle East conflict has its reasons. In the German mind, the Arabs are maniacs, immature third-class citizens, quite beyond the reaches of humane Enlightenment. This German sympathy is a form of patronising contempt. The gushing respect for foreigners is nothing but self-satisfied arrogance. The multi-culti rhapsodising of my peers is, in my opinion, the flip-side of the sinister racism of yesteryear. [emphasis added]

When the money-minders of the EU regularly transfer alms to the Palestinians, they do so with their eyes shut to the fact that the hard-boiled mass murderers of the Fatah are only really arguing with the fanatical mass murderers of the Hamas over details in the final solution to the Jewish question, because they are all agreed on one thing: Israel must be destroyed!


The slogan “The Jews are to blame for everything” is obviously as ineradicable as the idiotic prejudice that all Jews are highly intelligent. The Jews were and remain, even in the opinion of the Elite-Pack, to blame for everything. The Jews are to blame for bomb-belted Hamas and Hisbollah suicide killers. The Jewish Neo-Cons in New York drove the bigoted simpleton George Bush into the war against Saddam Hussein. The Jews and their global power politics are to blame for the Iran’s nuclear programme. The money Jews in the stock exchange with the aid of the the IWF are to blame for driving the poor countries into the debt trap. This idiotic logic is also applied by educated imbeciles who also shift blame on the Jewish war profiteers for making the German taxpayer fork out to send expensive war ships to Lebanon. The know-it-all version: we have to protect the Jews from the Jews.

Balanced reporting on the Middle East conflict is for the popular Germany weekly Stern, a fig leaf the size of a finger nail. And the most influential magazine in the West, Der Spiegel, is bending to the anti-Israel mood in Germany, and reinforcing it at the same time with a supposedly balanced tone and a lot of eye winking. Even most of the reporting on the radio and various TV channels are singing with false voices and true feeling, just like the German harp maiden in Heine’s Germany: A Winter’s Tale.

And meanwhile Israel is burning under a sky of rocket missiles. The Jews are sitting in bunkers again, or fleeing from North to South. But the country is small. The Arab missiles are flying ever further and hitting every more accurately. Lebanon is burning under a sky of bombs from the blindly confused super power Israel. Standard German commentary: “And all that for a few kidnapped soldiers.” And where the elders of Zion were the child-eaters of the old days, the Israelis are the child-killers of today, who want to bomb a Christian-Muslim civilisation back to the stone age. When in actual fact it’s the Arabs who want to wipe out Israel and then go on to destroy Western civilisation.

In case there’s any doubt whose side he’s on — the human side — Biermann also adds this:

And there’s no way I’m an enemy of the suppressed Arab peoples whose minds are rotting under totalitarian military dictatorships, degenerating in godless theocracies. I can’t cut them out of my humanity – even the fanaticised Intifada kids and their grief-stricken, cheering hero-mothers and all the illiterate men, dancing with joy in West Jordan for every false martyr. But the Palestinians are being cut out of humanity by their Arab brothers and sent into mortal combat. The huge, rich Arab countries surrounding Israel with their vast resources of fertile land, earthly treasures and ancient high culture should invest their oil billions to bring a peaceful life to these poor wretches. [Read the whole speech here…]

You said it, Wolf Biermann.

And he can sing, too. I think I’ll dig out one of his old records and play it now.

Given what I’ve seen in multi-culti Canada since my return here in 2002, I think Biermann really nails it when he accuses the defenders of allegedly non-judgemental multiculturalism of an inverted racism — or elitism. At the risk of taking Biermann off-topic, but also because I think the mendacity he addresses is so pervasive and underlying, I’ll add this: I have experienced tax-payer funded bureaucrat youth workers preach (and assume) the position that one has to create “youth-friendly” language because (1) youth are incapable of understanding regular English (we’re talking about youth up to the age of 25!) and because (2) it would be “privileged” of educated people to speak in normal English, given that youth are youth, i.e., too stupid to understand normal English. Meanwhile, these same sociology-trained professional “outreachers” are constructing reports in the worst sort of passive-voice English, the sort of language that makes a person’s ears bleed and their teeth vibrate and hurt in the very bone of things — i.e., the kind of language that should be forbidden by all that’s right and good — while at the same time they agitate, in the name of non-judgemental multiculturalism, for a new language, namely the above-mentioned “youth-friendly English” (whatever the hell that means — and Orwell is spinning in his grave).

One wonders how economics factors into it all: if I had a cushy job in the field, I’d probably look for strategies to cement my position, too.

Wolf, you’re no slouch when it comes to dialectical thinking and all that marxist analysis entails: the money trail leads not just, as the politically-correct lefties would assume, to the higher-ups, but it also points to the feathered nest of all the little bureaucrats, that petit-bourgeois pack of enablers, that keep the machine humming right along.

Bashing Israel and being on the side of the oppressed Palestinians (regardless of how the powerful Arab states have turned them into dumb pawns) is the most egregious example of stupidity run amok, but once you start paying attention, it’s amazing how a grey goo that enables relativist idiocy has infiltrated every aspect of civil life.

As seen by google earth: perspectives, and the streets are paved in gold…

November 28, 2006 at 8:59 pm | In architecture, ideas | 4 Comments

Well head, Medicine Hat

The image above is not a bas-relief carving of a face — it’s a Google Earth photo of the Medicine Hat, Alberta region. The Toronto Star has a fascinating photo essay link from Oct.25 on this page (scroll down at least a third of the way), introducing the series thus:

Since its debut, Google Earth, a program that combines satellite and aerial photography, has offered computer users a whole new realm to discover. Here’s a look at a few of the site’s intriguing images. [note: there’s a javascript here, which I can’t reproduce as a link: javascript: gallery_open(‘thestar’, ‘1161770509929’); — it’s best to find it on the Toronto Star page and click through there.]
Click through to the Java script pop-up, and you’ll see the photo, with this description:
What might look like an iPod wearing native American is actually a well-head just east of Medicine Hat, Alta. This location can be found here using Google Maps.

There are several other weird images, including a building in San Diego (on the naval base, of all places) that looks from above like a giant swastika. But this natural formation of the “iPod wearing native American” has to be the spookiest one of all…

I’m fascinated by how the ubiquity of satellite imagery is mediating our sense of being on the planet, or, more specifically to my interests, being in an urban environment. Recently, for example, the LA Times ran an article on how google earth is affecting architects’ perception of “the lowly roof”:

Architects say the influence of the bird’s-eye view seems to grow by the week. Clients arrive for preliminary meetings having studied overhead views of their building sites on the Internet. (…)

There is a significant political dimension to that shift. The overhead view has always been synonymous with power. Indeed, many satellite images in Google Earth were once available only to government agencies.
“For me, Google Earth is revolutionary in that sense,” said Enrique Norten, a Mexican-born architect based in New York. “Even a year or two ago, it was a huge problem just to get a single aerial photograph for a site. And you had to pay for it.”

But there are reasons to be less sanguine about the implications for architecture and urbanism. Precisely because it is so easy to use, Google Earth suggests a kind of access to cities that can’t be matched in the real world, especially after the attacks of Sept. 11. It may tempt architects to play to their growing virtual audience at the expense of a building’s day-to-day users, creating new architectural icons designed to look striking not from the sidewalk but from above, on a computer screen.

And the technology may promote a false sense that cities are somehow knowable at a glance. The power of that illusion has become clear on cable news programs, whose anchors use satellite imagery to zoom in, godlike, on the site of a story.


In beginning to grapple with the effects of technology on the design world, architects have fixated on the fluid, “blobby” shapes made possible by powerful software. But Google Earth suggests the most significant result of the marriage between architecture and computer power has to do with perspective rather than form.

What’s changing most radically, in other words, is not how buildings look but how we look at buildings.

What’s so curious here, of course, is that when we’re in the flesh, we typically don’t float several kilometres above the earth, looking down at buildings. We look at them from the street. If perspectival shifts, facilitated by “the marriage between architecture and computer power,” are working their magic on us, and if these shifts affect what we accept as interaction at street level, this could have truly far-reaching consequences, and make attractive the kinds of propositions that we currently don’t want to endorse wholeheartedly: think, for example, “vertical streets,” in the sense of some high-rises popular in some fast-developing, industrialising Asian nations, architecture which is severed from the economic life on the horizontal street. Verticality permits the better-off to set themselves apart, literally perpendicular to, the less-well-off at ground-level: a gated community into the sky, as it were.

As it happened, I was just reading an article in the Wall Street Journal, Robert A.M. Stern; New York, New York, by Eric Gibson. (It’s a subscriber-only article, alas.) Robert Stern has just published New York 2000, volume 5 of his book series on New York City, and Gibson gives his readers an overview. Author and journalist are soon on the topic of “iconic” architecture or stand-out buildings; what Stern had to say was heartening — and woe to us if we forget it:

Yet for all the non-stop building that goes on in — and defines — New York, the uncomfortable fact remains that beyond a handful of familiar icons it is, well, hard to point to a lot of truly distinguished buildings. The criticism made by architectural critic John Schuyler in 1898 and quoted in “New York 1900” still applies: “The real defect of modern architecture,” he wrote, lies in “the estrangement between architecture and building — between poetry and prose.”

With land and construction costs high and continually rising, most architecture is driven by a pragmatic, bottom-line mentality…


Mr. Stern concedes there is a school of thought that argues that “we need all these dazzling icons,” but asks, by way of response, “what are they doing for the streets of the city, what are they doing for the neighborhoods? That’s the way they should be measured, not just that they stand out.” Besides, “I think New York has been great in that architects have been very pragmatic but some of them have produced poetry from the pragmatism. The poetry of pragmatism is New York’s strength,” he asserts. “You know, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Waldorf Astoria hotel and Rockefeller Center were buildings that were meant to have ‘curb appeal’ if you will, but also were meant to meet the bottom line.”

That, it seems to me, is a trenchant way to bring perspectives back to earth — ground-level earth, I mean, not the godly perspective bestowed by the technology of computer power.

Psychics read your dog’s mind at Victoria’s “Pup ‘n Cup”

November 10, 2006 at 2:39 pm | In scenes_victoria | 1 Comment

I first read about Pup ‘n Cup around the time they opened: they put leaflets on many edge-of-downtown telephone poles …at dog-eye level. What was advertised was a cafe for people and dogs, but alas, the scheme immediately ran into trouble with the local health authority. As a result, Pup ‘n Cup also immediately became the beneficiary of considerable free advertising, since the news outlets picked up on it, and reported the saga at length.


Today’s paper has yet another follow-up, which is so enticing that I, too, feel I’ll soon have to take my dog there: for a nominal fee, I could get Jigger’s “mind” read. I know for a fact that this stubborn little terrier is constantly trying to use mind-control on my mind, when, for example, he stops at a corner and looks at me …doggedly (sorry), trying to convince me through hypnotic, nearly accusatory staring, that we really should go that way, not this way.

The article, Pup N Cup offers coffee and dog mind-reading, would suggest that I’m not the only loopy human convinced that my dog is trying to tell me something:

Twice a month the 1391A Hillside Ave. store holds psychic evenings for four-legged patrons. These sessions have exploded in popularity with dogs and their owners packing the place.(…)

Pup N Cup’s next psychic event starts Friday at 7 p.m. Owners can register by calling 475-5837 or going to the website at www.pupncup.com. Admission is $5 for owner and dog, and a $5 minimum donation for a reading with two animal communicators. Readings are 15 to 20 minutes long and “they will, I guarantee you, blow your mind,” Schwind said. Owner’s jaws’ drop at what they hear. People laugh and cry.

One psychic puts her hands on the dogs and does “automatic writing” to share the animal’s’ thoughts. Another picks up on their physical and emotional needs. “Dogs never speak badly about people,” Schwind said. Rather than blasting an owner’s behaviour, a dog may couch its words by saying, “The guy didn’t treat me was well as he could have.”

When a dog recently “told” a psychic it was thirsty, the session ended and the pooch went for a drink of water, he said. Several rescue dogs have been brought in to help understand their past and nutritional needs.

These events are such a hit that an amplifier was added and, at intermission, Luker plays guitar and sings.

Other special events include a Halloween fashion show featuring 10 dachshunds and techno-music. A dog first aid course is coming up later this month, along with a course on how to take photos of your pets. Schwind is also hoping to stage a Saturday evening of stupid pet tricks in the future. (More…)

Wow. I have to admit that I’m in awe of Pup ‘n Cup‘s dumb (or is it savvy?) luck at falling into such a treasure trove of free advertising through the relatively simple mechanism of defying the health authority.


I wonder what Jigger thinks of all this?

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