Tuesday, November 13, 2018

New Health Concept

There's some radical initiatives on the horizon in two years within Germany, within the medical field.  I noted this story via ARD (the public German network, Channel One).

The idea?  You could call up your doctor from the house, with Skype, and get a consultation for some minor episode....like the flu, a cold, or some minor discomfort.  The nurse would have your info on file (he's your local doctor), and later in the morning....he'd call you and do a quick two-minute check-up, and then issue a prescription.

The telemedicine prescription?  It'd go quickly over to your local pharmacy (within just minutes).  You'd walk over there and pick up (probably within fifteen minutes) after the call concludes.

The problem left here?  Well...the Health Minister (Spahn) needs the health insurance companies to agree to the concept, and doctors have formulate a system to handle call reservations and call-backs.

My guess is that it'll be argued about for at least a year (maybe two), and it might be 2021 before this really starts to occur.  Plus I think it'll be a listed group of conditions (probably less than twenty) that this call-deal and telemedicine routine would be appropriately blessed to work.

A positive for the public?  I'm guessing that a number of folks are supporting the idea.  To be honest though....the one big positive is that flu-folks won't be sitting around in some waiting room and coughing on you during flu-season.  For me, that's really a five-star plus-up.

The Battery Freight Truck Debate

There is a fairly detailed report over at the German news magazine....Focus....today, which details out this battle about to start involving the EU, member states, the trucking industry, and freight companies around Europe.

The hot topic?  The EU wants to put up regulation which mandates less CO2 production, and it's going to be aimed at vehicles....not just cars, but freight trucks.

So this discussion is going on....the truck production companies are looking at the regulation and shaking their heads.  Basically, you'd have to go and produce battery-driven freight trucks.  You'd then have to convince freight companies to go and spend literally hundreds of millions to flip over to the new vehicles.

The added weight of the batteries?  You can figure it's a minimum of five tons....maybe even up to seven tons....of batteries on the vehicles.  You can imagine the added weight on roads, and more wear-and-tear for asphalt. 

But then you come to this curious question for the freight companies....charging times, charging stations, and the necessity of additional parking spaces across the country (autobahns and towns).

Frankly, no one has sat and really done a through analysis of how much this would cost and how this would all work.

If you came to a German freight company with 200 trucks/260 drivers, and said here's the new truck....but you have to recharge the battery power every 3.5 hours....where exactly will you recharge?  And once you arrive at a potential charging station on the autobahn....will it be empty and ready for you to charge-up?  Or will there be a line of forty trucks sitting and waiting on one of the eight charging stations to be open?  Could your guy be there at the rest-stop for six hours....just to get a 3.5 hour charge?  And the next charge....will it be just as difficult?  And if you added up the extra hours....extra drivers....giving the bill to the customer....is this a 50-percent increase in freight fees coming up shortly (my number)?

A big mess?  Probably.  And the EU is driving as fast as possible to reach this conclusion.....without a lot of thought process involved.

If you've ever been across Germany and stopped at autobahn rest-stops.....there's typically forty to a hundred parking spots for truckers.  Freight companies have been whining about this for a decade.....that the nation needs to double up on parking spots and offer more accommodations (like showers, coffee shops, etc). 

Recharging stations?  If you drive these days and stop at the autobahn points for rest....I'd say maybe one out of five spots might have a couple of recharging stations for battery cars.  Course, there is chatter about more stations and maybe in five years.....you might see a majority of rest-stops with charging stations for cars.  But for trucks?

I would take a guess that you'd be talking about a minimum of one billion Euro required to put up an adequate number of truck charging stations just in Germany itself, and that only gets you to the first acceptable level.  You could be talking about a hundred billion Euro when talking about all the 28 EU member states and having the right number/quantity of charging stations for freight trucks.  Who will pay for it?  Yeah, that's the real question here. 

Bike Path Project

It's little short news segment that appeared on ARD (public German TV, Channel One) yesterday.  The video is embedded at the site I listed.

Basically, some innovative folks have designed a solar collection cell....which you'd put down flat on the ground.  And what they have done for their first project?  A bike path segment, which is 90 meters (300 ft) which not only collects solar energy, but also heats the path to some degree (melting snow or ice in the winter).  The amount generated by this 300 ft long and six-feet wide path?  Enough to handle one single German house in a normal year.

The odd thing in this report....they avoid the cost of the project.  My humble guess?  This 300 by 6 feet path area?  Probably over 100,000 Euro.

But I sat and looked at the material 'sheet' that they had and kinda wondered.....why couldn't you cover a house with this rubber-like collector 'pads'?  With no shrubbery around a house and collecting all year round.....you might be able to generate all the power you need.

Show Worth Viewing

Last night, ARD (public German TV, Channel One) ran a 45-minute documentary news piece....on the stagnant effect of wages, pension problems, and the cost of living.  Focus (the news magazine) covers part of the story this morning.  The show was called 'Tricked at Rent, Income, and Pension'.

If you wanted to watch the piece.....use this site.  It'll be up for about four weeks. Note, it's all in German.

The emphasis you can take out of this....a whole lot of Germans are reaching retirement ages (sixty-plus) and coming to realize that when you add up the rent, the utilities, and your pension....it won't be enough to live your current lifestyle.   The show also jumped into marginal pay-earners (not even in the retirement scene yet) and how their rent and utility cost makes their lives complicated.  Affordable housing?  In major cities, it's a joke.

Thief Episode

Yesterday, I was in Wiesbaden...in the shopping district.  I was about to head up an escalator to one of the mini-malls in the inner-city.  Coming down the escalator was a guy (mid-20s, obviously not a German) and being chased.  The second guy (the chaser) got a arm gripe on the guy at the escalator point and they fell backwards, and then behind them came the third guy.....a store detective.

So I stood and observed.

A bunch of chatter occurred.....mostly in Turkish (from the store detective) and some type of Arabic (from the younger guy).  Whatever the younger guy had grabbed....he's handed off at some point in the chase (upstairs), so they didn't have evidence.  This is normally the strategy for the front guy of a chase to avoid having evidence and being arrested/detained. 

So there's some yelling going on.  The young guy wanted to be released.  The older detective wanted an ID.  The younger apprentice detective held the thief in a locked position.

So finally the thief pulled out a billfold and produced his 'ID'.  Well....that's the thing....he had no 'ID'.  What he had was a piece of paper which is stamped and issued by the Auslander Office (the immigration folks) when you've arrived and have no passport or real 'ID'. 

My wife (the German) was standing there with me and just got huffy.  This is part of the internal German frustration with the migration situation.   

At this point, the store detective is writing down the guy's name and ID number.  He's telling the young punk that he is forbidden from entry into the store.  There had to be at least forty people standing there and watching this whole thing take place. 

The sad thing here is that the guy probably got out with some item valued at 300 Euro.  His buddy is taking the item onto the apartment and they have some middle-guy who will purchase the item for probably 100 Euro.  That guy will show up at some flea-market and sell it for around 200 Euro. 

How often does this occur?  Two years in Karstadt (the big store in town) I saw a 15-year-old kid make the run out of the store with a high-value perfume box.  This year, I've probably observed two chases with store detectives.  I'd take a guess that just out of this electronics shop (3rd floor), there's at least one chase every single day. 

At some point, I think that the stores will eventually get tough and have some kind of airport security gate erected where you have to pass through two gates to get out, and the chase business will officially end.  The sad thing is that you are making it tough on 'real' customers. 

This 'snatch and go' business?  It's now basically all non-German.  It's all young males....sometimes even getting into the younger teens.  Germans observing this?  They all grumble, and feel frustrated.  Why the thief episode?  Well....once you arrive and get into some immigration 'hall' or compound, the German government is only going to give you enough money for welfare living, and you won't get the work-card until you reach some visa-stage.  So to supplement your welfare situation, you rob Germans or sell drugs to Germans.  The system, frankly, is screwed up. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

TV Reality Show

Two weekends ago, the commercial German network 'Sat 1' started up a new reality show.....'Wedding at First Sight'.  So the intent was to run for two hours with two men and two women, on a programmed effort that meant neither couple had ever met.....but they would be reviewed by various 'experts', and a marriage would occur, with neither party ever having met.

Yeah, it's pretty much something that you would not think as TV entertainment.

So the ingredients are running along these lines.  These are all people over the age of thirty-five.....never-married....no real long serious relationships.....and not seeing any future on the marriage landscape.  Their friends have insight that this reality show thing is a great idea. 

I sat there watching this, and shaking my head.  It's a very messy and complicated business, and you are arriving at some nicely planned out wedding deal....with no idea who the spouse is.

So episode one ended two weekends ago, and I missed last nights episode.  This morning I went back to review it.  Well....marriage number one....basically failed about 30 minutes after the ceremony.  The wife-to-be.....kinda fell apart and just said this wouldn't work.  She's around 45 years old and I think she was just happy as being single, and this excitement was just too much to handle.  For the poor guy dragged into this mess?  The network has put him back up on the board and offering a second 'marriage'. 

It's pretty weird stuff, but apparently Germans like it as 'entertainment'. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hessen Politics

Since the state election ended a couple of weeks ago, there's been some chatter over the formation of a new state government.  Well....things have taken a turn.

Normally, unless your party gets 50-percent of the vote or more.....you have to form a government with a second and perhaps even a third party.....to lead the state government.  The CDU (Merkel's party) won but doesn't have the votes to run the government by itself.  Their two choices....either partner with the Greens (which they did for the past five years) or partner with the SPD.

A funny thing occurred....the FDP stood up and suggested why not have a Green-FDP-SPD conference.  Could they skip around the CDU (the winners)?  Yes.  If both the SPD and Greens refuse to partner with the CDU.....they have the right to ask for a three-way deal.

Reaction by the public?  A bit surprised, but no one is sure about this formation.  It might happen, but it might not.  Anger by CDU voters?  If this does happen, it'll anger a few people and they have to accept the matter. 

The Stranger in Your Land Syndrome

So a Leipzig University study came out.....they went and interviewed around 2,400 Germans and produced this 328-page document.

What it says its that a majority of Germans....around 56 percent....felt that the time had come to ban additional migration of Muslims into Germany. Note, it was higher in the eastern side of the country than the western.

What's going on?  If you go back 2014....you would find the national public news media and hyped-up and positive over immigration (any and all groups).  By the spring of 2016, that national feeling was rapidly moving to a negative feeling.  Today, I suspect if you limited your data collection to strictly working-class Germans....you'd easily find three-quarters who have serious questions and don't think that the Merkel vision is valid any longer. The intellectual crowd or university folks?  Most, I think, are still pro-asylum. 

So will the study will do much of anything?  No.  I doubt if the national public TV news folks will talk much about it or mention it.  If they did.....they'd be chatting over how to convince people to feel better about migration or asylum.

The issue here is that people have this general feeling of German lifestyles and culture, and they think it's being challenged or modified.  If you live in a rural area....you might think this in a lesser way....but if you live in a highly urbanized area, then you see weekly events to make you wonder about the stranger in a strange land  syndrome (my phrase for this).

Resolving this syndrome?  No.  I think part of the path ahead, where Chancellor Merkel finally retires in 2021....might see some shift and change.  But you have to remember....the Green Party, the Linke Party, and a strong part of the SPD Party....all favor this multiculturalism and open-door policy on migration.  Just because 50-odd percent of the public feels this way....doesn't really mean much in terms of party politics.