sister_luck: (oops)
The world has gone well and truly mad. Or I guess it was ever thus.

An old guy talked about "new, spectacular and symbolic gestures to wake up the sleep walkers and shake the anaesthetised consciousness" and then killed himself in his country's most famous church.

I don't need to tell you about Woolwich, because you've all seen the guy with the bloodied hands. Putting him on the front pages was the wrong decision I think. Yes, publishing the pictures and video seeems unavoidable, because it's out there on social media anyway and by putting it in the traditional media journalists can add some context, but don't give him front billing. Apart from the usual "Think of the children" argument, which I believe is valid here, it does send a dangerous message to those unstable enough that they want to go out in a blaze of glory. It's the same with school shootings and suicides. And let's be clear about this: These guys essentially wanted to commit suicide by cop - killing a soldier was the main message of course, but they wanted to die in a firefight.
As an aside: I'm glad they survived. I'm still angry that the two guys of our right-wing terror cell managed to kill themselves when their cover was blown.
Back to suicides and murder-suicides and terrorist suicide attacks. The WHO tells (pdf) the media what they can do to prevent suicides and still report about them. It all boils down to a couple of simple points:

  • Take the opportunity to educate the public about suicide

  • Avoid language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems

  • Avoid prominent placement and undue repetition of stories about suicide

  • Avoid explicit description of the method used in a completed or attempted suicide

  • Avoid providing detailed information about the site of a completed or attempted suicide

  • Word headlines carefully

  • Exercise caution in using photographs or video footage

  • Take particular care in reporting celebrity suicides

  • Show due consideration for people bereaved by suicide

  • Provide information about where to seek help

  • Recognize that media professionals themselves may be affected by stories about suicide

I know that the above guidelines aren't exactly much help with what happened in Woolwich. With suicide bombers (who obviously don't need bombs to scare us - a meat cleaver will suffice) it's not only about trying to prevent others from imitating them, but also about how journalists help them to make their targets feel terror - and the targets aren't only the people who are killed and maimed, but of course everyone living around them. So, don't make them look powerful by giving them a platform.
Remember when there was a debate whether the Unabomber's manifesto should be published or not? This guy promised not to kill more people in exchange for publishing his views - now it doesn't even need that promise and you get a slot on primetime.
Of course, I'm not advocating NOT to report on terrorism, but please use some restraint. It all reminds me of the Gladbecker Geiselgangster Degowski and Rösner. Things have changed though - you don't need a camera team and a bunch of journalists to record a video and interview the culprits. But the German media learned from the events and have kept their distance (at least a little - school shootings and the suicide of German goalkeeper Robert Enke didn't bring out the best in them).
Don't make it look spectacular - in the sense of spectacle as attention-seeking. For some, especially those who feel powerless, that guy with bloodied hands wielding a meat cleaver might have seemed like one of the cool gangsters straight out of a Tarantino film. (Please note, that I am in no way blaming this on violent movies.)

I've got lots more thoughts about the media representation and the general trend of lone wolf duos and terrorism, but this is enough for today.
sister_luck: (Default)
I can't believe that another week has gone! I was so very close to forgetting about a language link.

But a visit to Languagehat has provided me with a link to an NPR (that is America's public radio station) story about the word random - you can listen or read a written version here. What I took from it: It's not only okay to use random outside of its mathematical context, the mathematical meaning wasn't even first! Also, Jesse Sheidlower, the editor at large for the Oxford English Dictionary, is purple-haired. Not new to me, but worth repeating: "Life, like language, evolves."

Word of the week: Selfie to mean a self-portrait taken by a mobile phone camera. Found this in a story about Justin Bieber who made the mistake of taking a picture of himself with a mobile phone that some random girl threw on stage during a concert. Guess what? Cue more mobile phones being thrown at him. Video evidence here.
sister_luck: (Default)
When I bring chocolate to school, I share it with my colleagues. I also might share the latest gossip.

Whereas I can use the same word in English, in a German sentence I'd probably use teilen or verteilen in the first example and "verbreiten" or "mitteilen" in the second. - My first theory was that teilen is only for physical objects that are divided among a group of people, but we also use teilen with joy or pain - Geteiltes Leid ist halbes Leid. The important factor seems to be that you divide something and then re-distribute it - hence we use teilen when we talk about numbers too: Was ist 4 geteilt durch 2?".

There is a shift going on though, because teilen is increasingly being used in contexts where I wouldn't expect the word. Social media, and especially facebook, is behind this, I think, because this is where we do our sharing of stories and pictures and suddenly there is "das meistgeteilte Photo auf twitter" which sounds rather odd, because no, the picture is still intact, it wasn't cut up in lots of tiny bits.

I wonder whether I'm alone in my feeling that this use is unusual, (I don't think so) and whether it is only older people who share my opinion (here we use teilen, too!) or whether the line is along frequent users of German social media and those who stay clear of it.

Edited to add some ideas that came to me after a twitter conversation about the same issue:

German can use prefixes to make teilen more specific: I'll say verteilen or austeilen when I hand out copies of a text or picture or poster. Mitteilen is used for (verbal) sharing of news or stories.

But it looks to me like we just don't do much sharing in German - when we share ideas, we say austauschen which is closer to the meaning of exchange - I give something to you and you give something to me. "Thanks for sharing" is difficult to translate - if it's just a helpful hint you've received you might say Danke für die Mitteilung, but if someone has just told you an amazing and touching story or showed you beautiful holiday snaps? I don't know what I'd say. Maybe thank them for telling me the story or express my gratitude for showing the pictures, but I wouldn't expect the verb teilen.

But as I said, it's starting to change, as a result of a direct translation of share in the contexts of social media.
sister_luck: (television)
Not sure whether anyone is interested and/or willing and/or able to read, but here is a linkspam of German newspaper and magazine reviews of The Avengers.

Once again, I am reminded that review writing says a lot about the reviewer and their need to sound clever.

Süddeutsche Zeitung


Die Welt


Spiegel Online
sister_luck: (television)
So, Thursday and Friday we actually went to a real-life totally old-fashioned multiplex cinema. In the Netherlands. When my colleagues ask me about where I went on holiday I'm going to say that I spent two nights in Holland.

Last time I went to the cinema was the local shoebox, which is very cozy, but as I was herding a bunch of kids, it wasn't actually much fun. The film was a German A Knight's Tale only with Goethe instead of knights - slight hyperbole, I know. And I won't tell you about the time before that, because it's honest-to-god embarrassing how long I went without seeing the inside of a cinema. That new Bond film has been delayed for an awfully long time, hasn't it?

First, let me just celebrate and squee the experience of going to a moviehouse to see a film (yes, I'm mixing BE and AE to my heart's content) and the excitement of not knowing whether you'd still get tickets and didn't just drive roughly 35 km in vain. We got the tickets and thus I saw Cabin in the Woods on Friday the 13th with lots of Dutch people, a surprisingly high numbers of which were girls probably lured by the male actor hunks, and some Germans who'd come even further than we did, judging from the licence plates in the parking garage.

On to the films - spoiler-lite: )
sister_luck: (Default)
Or rather: how to start a panic:

Post a link on facebook to an article about a protest against a child molester moving to the neighbourhood.

Watch the news spread online and in real life.

I was told about this at the playground with my informant proudly mentioning that she, too, posted it on facebook.

She got most of the details right from the article that I found in one of our regional tabloids: Someone accused of child molestation in a neighbouring town was first put on remand and then set free apparently because of a procedural error. The trial is to continue in the next days. He's moved to one of the streets around here and neighbours have started a protest.

I don't want to start pointing to the principle of presumption of innocence because that usually goes out of the window when people panic about the well-being of their kids and the newspaper article certainly didn't presume any innocence.

This happened in September 2009.

My research method: I searched "" for my neighbourhood, found a mention of the article, searched it on the newspaper's website, realized that the mention of the funfair 'this weekend' was a bit odd because it was two weeks ago and then looked at the date.
sister_luck: (oops)
In the BBC commentary for the Germany-England game at 14:45 Jonathan Stevenson posted the wrong German anthem. We don't sing that stanza any more for obvious reasons. It is NOT Deutschland, Deutschland über alles and those rivers? Not a single one is on German territory.

I don't have time to check on the accuracy of the details, but the wikipedia article about the Deutschlandlied offers some background information.

May the better team win!
sister_luck: (Default)
There are two very different stories in the media here at the moment that both deal with rape and sexual assault. One is about a media person/celebrity being accused of rape; the other about a serial rapist finally caught after nineteen years of offences ranging from sexual harassment to brutal rape.

Facts, opinions, experiences )
sister_luck: (Default)
I mean, I'm all for breastfeeding if it works out for mother and baby, but that doesn't sound like a good idea:

Nursing behind the wheel - a woman was stopped by the police because she was breastfeeding her 18-month old child while driving. When challenged, she didn't see anything wrong with what she had been doing. Needless to say, seatbelts weren't in use.

Usually I would doubt the story, but this is fairly local.

Makes a change from the usual distractions that get reported: phoning, shaving, applying make-up or masturbating.


sister_luck: (Default)

June 2017

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