Der Palast der Republik 
Friday, 26 .May, 2006, 12:28 - English Entries, Germany, History, Online/Blogs, Politics

Der Palast der Republik, Berlin, Germany Lewis wrote a very good article on German architecture, that I recommend you to read. One of the buildings mentioned there is "Der Palast der Republik", which is currently being demolished. The building is located in the Eastern part of Berlin and the so-called Parliament (Volkskammer) of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR or in German: DDR) had its seat there.

It is with no doubt good that the GDR does not exist anymore and that Germany is re-united. But the decision to tear down the Palast der Republic, which was taken by the German Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag), is just a shame. It might be that the building seems ugly to some - we have more ugly buildings in Germany than one can count, so that is not an argument. The major reason is, that this building represents a part of German history, that most Germans are not proud of and some people also don't want to be reminded of it. With this reasoning it is still a violent act to destroy the building - it is the pride of the winning side in a cold-war between two ideologies.

» English Wikipedia: Der Palast der Republik
» Take a stroll through the palace online
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Let me vote "Yes" for the European Constitution 
Saturday, 15 .April, 2006, 10:27 - English Entries, Europe, Politics

The Finish parliament seems to be willing to ratify the European Constitution. It is April 2006, the Constitution was already ratified by several member states, but rejected by the referendums held in France and the Netherlands. The Union was in distress for a while, it was said that processes inside the EU are not transparent enough and that people had problems with the ongoing process of countries joining the Union.

I am a supporter of the European Union and its constitution. There are problems and things I am not happy with, but in general I am very glad to see that Europe starts finally understanding itself not only as a community of friends but as a union of individuals, that all at least try to work towards prosperity and peace. That might sound too idealistic, but I think Idealism is needed to get such projects going.

What happened since the French and Dutch "No" is not only disappointing but also embarrassing. Nobody knocked on my door and told me with enthusiasm about the great Europe we are going to shape. Nobody explained to my Euro-sceptic relatives why we and generations after us will benefit from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia joining the Union, why even Macedonia, Ukraine and Serbia-Montenegro would be welcome, alongside with Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belarus (after they kick out their dictator hopefully soon).

I had to buy my copy of the Constitution on my own. It is a very interesting little book in which I read every now and then and I like what I see in there. But why did I myself have to go to a book store and buy it? Did I miss the postman or was really no free copy sent out to me in order to inform me about and to promote it? That is my Constitution, the law I will live under if it gets accepted throughout the continent and our politicians do not even see the need to show this law to me?

Spain also held a referendum on the constitution and it was clear that they would accept it with great joy, as Spain sees a lot of immediate benefits from the EU. But still, the government (even under the conservative Aznar) sent the constitution to every citizen and promoted the "Yes" for Europe everywhere.

And think of all the countries that want to join - how they understand the idea of Europe, how they want to be part of it. One can say they are just greedy and their only intetion is to take away a share of our wealth - but swallow it, lots of the money that the industry of the Western European countries make is already produced in Eastern Europe, so let's have the dignity to not only regard these countries and the people withim them as a new market, but also as equal partners.

I ask myself if I am the only one in Germany or Finland who feels enchanted when thinking of a united Europe. Without being nationalistic or patriotic. Our grandfathers killed each others on the ground on which we recently abandoned all borders. We have the responsibility to make this project work, to build a fundament that will not be shaken easily by storms in the future. This is not about globalization or centralism, this is the idea of a society that works on a common better future and that regards all the differences inside it with respect.

Is it really so hard to make this vision clear to the people? I know that politics is a hard business these days, as most of the people do not trust their statesmen anymore and think they are corrupted liars. But is there really nobody among this government crowd that can induce passion for one of the biggest peaceful political projects that history ever has seen? Are they blind for the idea themselves or are they afraid of democracy?

German edition of a very valuable bookAnd aren't they all running around and looking for visions? Well here it is – shiny and colourful. Take it, promote it, make us burn for it and give us back confidence in modern society, the democratic process and ourselves. Dear Prime Ministers and Presidents, show us that we are playing our role in history and that there is more to this century than a fearful war on terrorism. Bring out the idealists in us, point out that we do not only have a common currency but also common roots in culture, that our variety is not a blocking point but that our diversity will enable us to master the challenges of the future.

I don't want any German or Finish parliament to decide over my constitution. I want one day, on which everybody in Europe can vote on this little book. I want every member state to agree on a European Euphoria Budget to bring a vision of a bright and united future to every person within Europe. I want to personally, freely and happily vote "Yes" for this document.

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MTV - stay on the air! 
Thursday, 13 .April, 2006, 19:33 - English Entries, Movies, Politics, Religion

Protect the pope! Danger is brewing from Germany, his own home country. I am here in Finland and don't know any other way to help him than to raise my weak voice in this article. It is cruel and of course the root of the problem is again the Island: the Great British nation. There it is where they make fun about gods representative on Earth and all his fellow believers.

I talk about "Popetown", a British cartoon series that German MTV plans to show from May 3rd on. The series was produced by BBC, but the British broadcasting company did not dare to put it on air. Wikipedia writes the following: Popetown is a controversial animated sitcom following the life of Father Nicholas, who lives in a Vatican City parody referred to as "Popetown". The series was originally commissioned by the BBC in the UK, but was dropped from scheduling without a screening in the wake of protests from Roman Catholics.

Britain in the last minute prevented itself from what we all need to be afraid of: hurting the feelings of the Roman Catholics.

Yesterday the online version of German magazine "Der Spiegel" collected reactions from German officials on popetown:

  • Secretary General of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Söder, a person that I admire in a very special way, stated: "German TV is no place for such a series. [...] It is about time to protect religious symbols by law.". Söders party is part of Germanys current government.
  • The spokeswoman for human rights(!) and humanity(!) of the Christian coalition in German parliament, Erika Steinbach, was not happy that the series depicts Jesus Christ and the pope in denigrating ways. Airing the program would be a unbearable insult towards all Christians.
  • The German commission for youth media protection (Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz - KJM) wrote an open letter to MTV, in which it proposed to check after the airing of the first issue of Popetown. What exactly they want to check is not clearly said in the article, but it seems the item of discussion is whether there should ever be a second issue of popetown on German TV.

I share a deep understanding, that a humorous TV series is one of the biggest threats towards an organization that is completely and seriously committed to teaching the only evident truth, as it it revealed in a several thousand years old book.

Soon it is not necessary anymore to envy the US-Americans for their progress on intelligent design, the religious influence on politics and the election of a god-fearing president. We start to slowly walk along the same path by selling TV censorship under the headline of youth protection and humanity. Naturally avoiding the question who protects youth from enforced church service by their parents or from compulsory religious education in German schools.

Jello Biafra once sang "MTV get off the air" and nowadays should be surprised to hear the religious right in Europe joining in his chanting. I always liked that song, but for the moment I hope MTV stays on the air and keeps a strict line towards providing a religiously disturbing program.

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Freedom of Speech 
Thursday, 09 .March, 2006, 05:03 - English Entries, Travel, Music, Thoughts, Politics

Bob Dylans life once was saved thanks to freedom of speech. He reports about this exceptional event in the very educational and entertaining song Motorpsycho Highway, in which he can only escape from a patriotic American farmer by pretending to be very fond of Fidel Castro (and his beard). Besides that, this song includes violence, shooting, a daring jump out of a window as well as a not very much hidden invitation for having sex, i.e.: all the things that you really miss from modern music.

As said already I am currently in China and the hotel that I am staying in provides a desktop PC in every room, including broadband internet access. It is worth switching it on. After chosing the English version Windows 98 comes up and everything looks normal. Great. So what was the name of the place around here, at which this big Buddha statue is located? Just type in http://en.wikipedia.org and ... uuups: Error message. Maybe the network is down. But no, http://www.spiegel.de comes up fine.

After several tries it became clear, that I could just not access Wikipedia from here. I was not sure whether it is generally blocked from China or it is just not available due to additional security measurements in this hotel, and found more on this issue at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_mainland_China.

What do we learn from this? Maybe that you do not need freedom of speech if you can express your preferences for Castro without running into problems. Maybe that every blocked page is in good company. Maybe that you need to experience a restriction yourself to find out about what it really means.

What I appreciate is the internet access via my mobile phone (GPRS). It connects to the network via Finland and there is no blocking inbetween. Maybe it's after all not too bad to work in this industry.


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Welcome back to the dark ages - my personal outrage and doubts about religion 
Saturday, 04 .March, 2006, 15:48 - English Entries, Thoughts, Politics, Religion

On September 30th, 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published several cartoons that depicted the islamic prophet Muhammed and made fun of extreme islamic views. These cartoons caused demonstrations of so-called fundamentalist muslims in many Arab but also European countries. Some of these demonstrations caused riots and other forms of brutality. In Europe we had nothing better to do than the question the right for freedom of speech.

The question is, whether we should further restrict our personal freedom in order to not make other people angry. The people who get angry about jokes is the usual fanatic crowd: believers in a super-natural entity that created the world and nowadays obviously cares shit about it. I thought we had enough people in the European past who shut up just to not get killed (for example this guy) - and others who opend their mouth one time too many and were then used as fire wood (as it happend to this person).

I see no reason why I should be tolerant towards a person who believes in something that cannot be proven and who derives actions from this believe. If these people would at least talk with a common voice, but they all have different values and ideas about the perfect world and its maker.

And my dear Christians, this is also true for you. I am sure that your nearly 2000 year old political organization ("the church") will use any weakness of modern society to gain power again and feed people with thoughts of guilt and fear. I do not make any difference here between catholic, orthodox, protestant or whatsoever churches - please note that explicitly. Any believe that teaches about something that cannot be noticed by our senses and that can only be explained by contradicting nearly everything that science found out during the last several thousand years, is either totally crazy or used to keep people stupid. The momentary problem of the church is, that it has a hard time to establish a society as e.g. in Iran or Syria.

Yes, Christianity is all about love and kindness. That sounds good, but actually I do not remember that human rights were derived from the Bible or from any Christian organizations publication. As far as I remember our ancestors had to fight for any of their freedoms and later on some pope or bishop said that they agree to the new liberty and that it is (somehow) in-line with god, the bible and the church.

But still, what I write here has no base in todays reality. It is clear that we are here in the free world, uninfluenced by strange believes, and some countries in the middle- and far-east are under the dictatorship of religous fanatics. Is it so? Read the newspapers!

Today I had to read that Tony Stupid Blair said, that it was Gods decision to send British troops to Iraq. Oh sorry Tony, I missed that part of modern history. Maybe the creator just visited your flat when no camera was present. Maybe he let a fart and you mis-interpreted it. Maybe you were drunk. Whatever the reason was - you should have been wise enough to keep your mouth shut about it.

We already know that ex-alcoholic George W. Bush believes, that his mission in Iraq (and Afgahnisatan) is in-line with the will of the holy trinity, that nobody can understand and therefore you just have to believe in.

Wow! We are again in an age of religious wars. I do not doubt a second that George and Tony are true believers and that at least part of their statements are true. They believe in god and at least as much in their mission. Isn't that cool? We most likely never left the age of crusades.

Welcome back to the dark ages! If you saw some light during the last years, it was just a moral irritation.

And then again: I am doubtful by how this all teaches me that I am not as tolerant that I have thought. During this last month somebody stepped on the accelerator and lots of others were willing to speed up as well. Maybe we run towards a conflict, I don't know, I don't want to make any stupid prophecy. But I am concerned that it is so easy to take a clear position in this dispute - and how hard it is to understand the other side. I am surprised how strong I believe that our society is better to live in than any other currently existing or that ever existed before. I would like to doubt myself, but it does not work, the moment I hear something from any religous camp I can at best just shake my head.

In the end it is about belief. There is no right and wrong without belief. Some people say, they feel that there is a higher order in this world, there must be a meaning behind all this. I do not think so. I think, whoever searches for a bigger meaning is taking him- or herself too important. We are not important. All that is here was caused by chance and accident and we are just one product of a long serious of meaningless happenings. Our problem is, that we look up in the sky and want to explain what we see. That's how we came up with flash-throwing gods that transform into animals and make love to innocent princesses. But more and more we find out, that we can explain the mysteries by scientific means and that we find no reason why the things are as they are. We find constants, numbers, formulas, but no guidance how to live our lifes. And if you ask 100 people what is right, you will get at least 150 opinions.

A religion is a man made system that tries to give guidance. But we are walking faster than religion can adjust its rules. We are asking questions to which ancient books cannot give answers. We experience daily that there is no right or wrong, that there are only possiblities and taking them or leaving them will change our future. That's why I think religion is wrong - because it prentends to have answers, that do not exist. Because it takes away one of the true wonders that humans can experience: the doubt over something that they are able to do.

And that is finally why I think we should not be too friendly and too tolerant towards any kind of religous outburst either here or somewhere else. It is important to stay grounded on the few facts we have about our existence and not to start flying into metaphysical spheres. It is not that we have to teach others our view of the world, but we have to protect our freedom. That might sound militant or aggressive to some. It is not. Look again who started the violence and point out the one person, that did not have a religious background.


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