Drunken Germans

First, a program note. I'll be in the U.S. visiting friends and doing the conference thing until April 12th. Posting will be spotty.

And now for something completely different. An excerpt from the 1962 documentary Mondo Cane, showing us the Reeperbahn in all its glory (h/t MG):

"More," the yearning melody that underpins these scenes and forms the red thread throughout the whole movie, sounds like a standard that's been around forever. Yet it was actually written for this sleazily* ingenious B-movie! As we Texans like to say, "Well, I'll be dipped in shit!"

* The spellchecker doesn't think 'sleazily' is a word. Pity the spellchecker.

Is Nicholas Sarkozy the Antichrist?

Can there be two?:

"Welcome to the club of states who don't turn their back on the sick and the poor," Sarkozy [said in a speech at Columbia University]. From the European perspective, he said, "when we look at the American debate on reforming health care, it's difficult to believe."

"The very fact that there should have been such a violent debate simply on the fact that the poorest of Americans should not be left out in the streets without a cent to look after them … is something astonishing to us."

Just joking about the Antichrist part. Sarkozy may be many things, but he is definitely not without "regard for the desire of women." His comments are typical of the response of European conservatives: Why was this such a big deal? You could hardly ask for a more perfect illustration of the gulf between American and European conservatism…

Is Javier Solana the Antichrist?

A reasonable question, but one that surprisingly few have the guts to ask. Once asked, though, the answer is clear: Javier Solana is terrifyingly close to becoming the Antichrist. Yes, Javier Solana. All he needs to do is (1) hack off his genitals (to eliminate his evident “regard for the desire of women”); (2) deny that Jesus is the Messiah; (3) proclaim himself greater than any god; and (4) recover from a fatal wound to the head.

Perhaps some background is in order. Above, you can admire the robust men of the Hutaree Christian militia of Michigan, a group of Christian soldiers that has recently received some unwanted attention from the ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government).

Lest you think these raids are of concern only to those writhing under Obama’s steel-toed socialist jackboots, I point you to a webpage from the Hutaree website (yes, this is America — even the Christian militias have websites) called 10 Horns of the European Super State, Mr. Europe, and 7 years of Peace in Israel. One John Reynolds, acting on a hot tip, combs through the Bible for a list of tests to indicate whether Javier Solana is the Antichrist.

He came up with 25 action items. The results are terrifying. An excerpt from this (extremely long) disquisition:

15. He will not believe in any god at all [except for himself] [Daniel 11:37]

16. He will have “no regard for the desire of women”: [Dan 11:37]

· It is quite possible that exists now. Although Solana is married to a woman named Concepción Giménez, and they have two adult children, Diego and Vega, he lives alone in Brussels .

17. He will claim to be greater than any god [Daniel 11:37; 2 Thess 2:4]

18. He will claim to be God [2 Thessalonians 2:4]

19. His arrival on the world scene will be accompanied by miracles, signs and wonders[2 Thess 2:9]

· This is a possibility as well. I know many of you have seen the statues of Mary or Christ on the crucifix crying tears of blood. They just recently had a statue of Mary that was supposedly moving its arms over in Italy. The list is endless

20. He will deny that Jesus is the Messiah [I John 2:22]

21. He will be worshipped by many people [Rev. 13:8]

22. He will receive a fatal wound to the head and appear to be healed [Rev. 13:3; 17:8]

23. His name will be related to the number six hundred and sixty six— [Rev 13:17-18].

· Javier Solana seems to be surrounded by the number 666.

You hear that, Europe? Surrounded.


Jetlagged No More

Kevin Drum relays a simple cure for jetlag based on the magnum opus The Promise of Sleep, by sleep researcher Dr. William Dement:

A lot of people believe that if you, say, travel to Europe, all you have to do is force yourself to stay up all day on your first day and you'll be OK. You won't be. Here's why: twice a day your body releases stimulants that wake you up. This is (awkwardly) called "clock dependent alerting," and it happens once around 6 am and again around 7 pm or so — though this varies from person to person. So when I travel from California to Paris, even if I stay up all day and get to sleep just fine at midnight, around 4 am I'll wake up. And for the next three hours, no matter how hard I try, I can't get back to sleep. Around 6 or 7 am I can, but by then it's time to wake up. Result: I'm completely wiped out for the rest of the day.

So here's the answer: sleeping pills. Get a good quality prescription sleeping pill and take it when you go to bed even if you don't need it to fall asleep. You don't. You need it to stay asleep. I now take a sleeping pill every night for about a week (plus one on the plane over) when I travel to Europe, and it's like a damn miracle. I literally have no jet lag at all.

I can vouch for this. I am highly prone to jetlag, and am constantly flying across the Atlantic. Not a pretty combination. I sort of independently developed a similar approach to the one Drum describes, and with similar results. I plan to follow Drum's instructions to the letter next time I fly back to the U.S. (which will be in less than a week) and I'll report what happens…

The Latest in American Puritan Madness


Alabama has passed a law that will result in every strip club in the country being shut down. And forget hiring a topless waitress in an attempt to get around the bar: the law, which was passed with no votes against and only two abstentions, will make it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.

Oops — did I type Alabama? I meant Iceland! Sorry.

‘Rescue Dawn’ Thrills, Existentially

heart-stopping herzog

On a friend's recommendation, I watched Rescue Dawn last night, a 2006 movie by Werner Herzog about Dieter Dengler. Dengler was born in the Black Forest but moved to America and became an American citizen and Navy pilot. He was shot down over Laos on a secret mission in 1965, and held prisoner in a Pathet Lao camp. The film, which is based on Dengler's own account, traces his life in the camp with prisoners from Air America and his attempts to escape from the camp and from Laos.

Like so many Herzog movies, this one features an outsider stranded in the wilderness (sometimes metaphorical, this time real), hacking his way through the jungle, sweating and cursing. Bale plays Dengler with reckless intensity,* and the ensemble cast of American prisoners, including a bearded, broken Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies doing his best Crispin Glover impression, is stellar.

All of the men in the camp were on secret missions, so they have no idea whether their fate is on anyone's radar screen back home. Some have waited for rescue for years, as chronic malnourishment took its toll and their mental composure frayed. At first greeted with suspicion, Dengler emerges as a focal point for the group of prisoners, and uses skills obtained from a metalworking apprenticeship in Germany to free the men from the shackles in which they're kept at night. Eventually, Dengler develops a plot to escape from the camp, but the others are skeptical: even if they manage to flee the camp, they will still be stuck deep behind enemy lines, barefoot, emaciated, and with no idea where they are or where to go.

The film was shot entirely on location in Thailand, and you can just imagine wildman Herzog stomping around in the mud, tearing and staining the actors' clothes and insisting that they march for hours (behind him) to acquire real sores. The jungle is an oppressive, threatening backdrop, teeming with merciless parasites and villagers thirsting to avenge themselves on the foreigners who have been bombing them for years. The only training the men have in jungle survival was a short film shown, to general amusement, on board the aircraft carrier.

Rescue Dawn is a thrilling action film, and a harrowing account of human beings pushed to the limits. Bale is masterly, showing Dengler's initial proud defiance melting into anguish, but never despair. And since this is a Herzog film, there is no flag-waving or moralizing. You become intensely involved in the characters' fates because of the humanity they show in the face of their crushing existential** predicament, not because they're on any 'team' you are expected to identify with. A gem, perhaps even a late Herzog masterpiece.

* Like all red-blooded Anglo-Saxons, Bale can deliver himself of a rousing profanity-laced tirade when the occasion arises. Evidence here.

** It's a Herzog movie, so I had to use the word 'existential' in the review. It's not just a good idea, it's the law!

But it fits, it fits…

Peter H— Redux

In comments to my last post NM, quoting Ferdinand Kleist, says: 

"It is clearly against the rights of people who have not been convicted of anything to be fully named. So why should the German press stop protecting people just because there are barbarian countries with less developed safeguards against such infringements?"

I really can't express my feelings any more eloquently than this. Right Said Ferdinand! I am really quite shocked that Andrew H. should treat this issue so flippantly – especially in the context of allegations as serious as child abuse. Before someone has been convicted of something so grave, they have a right to remain anonymous. Especially given the strength of popular feelings on this issue – next you'll have one Peter H., accused, not convicted, having been pre-emptively attacked, or worse. Or even someone who has the misfortune of sharing the same name. As evidence that this is no joke whatsoever, I refer you to a case in one of the barbarian realms a few years ago in which a doctor was attacked by a mob, under the misapprehension that a "pediatrician" was just a highfalutin name for pedophile.

Incidentally, I hope you get sued for revealing the accused's (!) name.

That would be an interesting test case, wouldn't it? However, I have a feeling that neither Hullermann nor the Catholic Church has an interest in bringing more attention to this situation.

And by the by, if you'd been reading the English-language press, you'd know that Hullerman actually was convicted of child molestation by a German court, and sentenced to 18 months' probation. That is the entire point of the Hullermann scandal — that the man was permitted to continue serving in close contact with children even after this conviction. And after a therapist specifically warned the Church hierarchy that the man should never again be allowed to work with children. The parents of the children with whom Hullermann served were never informed of his criminal past.

As for the general practice of failing to refer to criminal suspects or defendants by their full names, that's one legitimate way of protecting their interest in privacy. However, I would point out that this rule doesn't prevent German newspapers from publishing easily-recognizable photographs of criminal defendants, nor does it prevent them from revealing plenty of details about them that could lead to their identification. And, as in the case of Hullermann, once the defendant has actually been convicted, the public's right to know generally outweighs any remaining privacy interest (g) enjoyed by the defendant.

I'm not sure about 'barbarian' countries in which crowds of peasants wielding pitchforks and torches prowl the alleys for 'pediatricians', but in the U.S., the defendant's interest in his or her reputation is protected by the requirement that they be identified as 'alleged' wrongdoers until their conviction. However, they can be identified by name, and the U.S. authorities trust the masses not to lynch them. In general, the U.S., thanks to its exceptional protections for free speech, offers fewer protections for personal privacy. This has its drawbacks, but it also has its advantages. One of them, perhaps, being that the entire scandal surrounding pedophile priests was uncovered in the U.S. decades ago, while many Germans cluck-clucked to themselves about how that was an "American" problem that would never surface in the Old World…

Kleist also argies:

It is like arguing that because people in Nigeria can legally defraud people over the internet the German government should also allow fraudsters in Germany.

I'm sympathetic to the argument about the Internet sparking a race to the bottom, but I think this analogy is flawed. Fraud is illegal in Nigeria; it's prohibited by Section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, the problem is lack of enforcement. And in any event, fraud is generally considered a malum in se, something which is always intrinsically wrong. Rules about protecting defendants' privacy, on the other hand, are matters of national policy. My point was not that Germany should change its policies about defendants, but that it seemed a little odd to continue failing to identify Hullermann by name even though (1) he has been convicted; and (2) the issue has attracted so much international attention that his name can be found in thousands of places all over the Internet.

Andrew H— Finds this Amusing

Do a simple experiment: go to Google's German-language news service and do a search for "Peter H." You'll find, as I did, dozens of articles concerning a scandal-tainted German priest whom the news organizations will call only Peter H. They are apparently following a policy of refusing to identify the family names of people accused of misdeeds.

Then, if you will, do a search for "Peter Hullermann". You'll find, as I did, dozens of articles, all of them in English, discussing the exact same person. There's even an op-ed piece by the German writer Peter Schneider in the New York Times which uses the man's full name.

There's something quaint about the German press' last-initials-only policy. It reminds me of novels and memoirs from the 19th century which recount weekends spent at "Countess L—'s" estate in the province of "—nia." But with this new-fangled Internet all the kids are talking about, any news story that spills over international borders is going to render all that H—'ing instantly obsolete. Shouldn't the German press just face up to this?