Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Hot" Water for Sale?

It always amazes the gimmicks that Germans come up with....for commercial sales.

This week, there's a rumor going around that a Berlin group is focused on a new water-energy type drink....called Fukashima Water.

Caffeine and sugar-based?  Well....yeah.  But the water is pumped out of the deep wells of the town of Fukashima (Japan).  It's tossed in some plastic bottles and shipped off to Germany.

Price?  Unknown presently, but I'll guess that it sells for roughly the same as Red Bull (another energy drink).

Radiation in it?  So far....folks claim it's 'clean'.

Would it sell?  Around twenty years ago....someone came up in Germany with the Micheal Jackson Mystery Drink.  It was a herbal tea gimmick, with a heavy dose of caffeine and sugar.  It lasted on the market for about three months, then quietly disappeared.  For the office snack fund....I actually bought a case of the stuff.  I gave a few samples out to the office personnel and had hopes of it selling (I had twenty-four cans of the stuff).  Six months later....other than the can I drunk and the two I used for the sample tastings.....I still had twenty-one cans.  No one bought the stuff.

For some reason, I envision Fukashima Water going the same way.  Maybe they'll find some soccer star or washed-up 1970s singer to advertise the stuff.....but I doubt if it ever takes off.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our Dependency

We are utterly dependent upon people in our lives.....to do the 'right' thing.

When we board a bus in the morning....we depend upon the driver to safely get us from point A to point B....even if he's had a bad morning, suffering from limited sleep, or having issues with his wife.
When we board a plane....we depend upon the pilot to safely get us from point A to point B....even if his son is awful sick, his financial situation is deteriorating, or his wife dumped a major threat of divorce upon him last night.

When we go to the garage for significant work upon our car....we depend upon the mechanic to do the repair correctly and not make the car a dangerous vehicle to drive.

When we go to the local Greek restaurant around the corner....we depend on the cook in the back to be of sound mind and not attempt to mix poison in our food.

When we get approached by some policeman....we depend upon him to be free of anxiety and stress.  He should be of a calm and professional nature.  We shouldn't have to worry about him utilizing his gun in a simple traffic stop.

When we board some ferry to cross the river....we depend upon the boat captain to be competent and reliable at doing his job.  We shouldn't have to worry about him hitting some rock or capsizing the boat because he was stressed out or drunk on the job.

When we come home tonight....we depend our our wife to cook and deliver some safe dinner....without rat poison or attempt to kill us.

When we have the heat repair guy come over and do some work with our basement furnace system....we depend upon him to fix the problem and leave it in operational order.  We shouldn't have to worry that he allowed a gas leak to occur and an explosion to occur hours later....because he missed his mediation for the past two weeks and is acting bizarre.

A hundred years ago....our review of daily life didn't really involve a bunch of people doing their job....performing in a flawless way....and acting with minimum stress and anxiety issues.  Today, I'd take a guess that I probably have to interact with at least a hundred people a day who might interfere with my own personal safety.  By some miracle.....I survive an entire day.

After looking over this German Wings episode this week.....you come to a point of appreciating the complex nature that we live our lives upon.  So many possible things can go wrong, and we overwhelmingly rely upon those odds every single day.  We absolutely depend on people being capable of doing what they were hired to do, and in a safe and professional manner.  It kinda shocks us when they don't perform at this level.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Age Rule

Up until this week in my local German state of Hessen.....we had this rule in place which had been around for decades.  To be a mayor or city council member.....you had to be between 25 and 71 years old.

The logic?  Well....it's simply the rule....no one can really say if it made sense or not.  Maybe there were some screw-ups with eighty-year-old guys or with twenty-year-old guys as mayors.

A simple piece of legislation passed though.....through the Hessen state government which brings things back to a eighteen-years or older rule for mayor or city council positions within the state.  There's no cut-off now.

Oddly though.....they then inserted another rule into the system which said that you have to pull eight years or more as a mayor or city council guy.....to get some type of government pension deal.  It used to be from day one.....you got something of a pension.

The odds of seeing a eighteen-year-old German run for mayor's office?  You'd have to get vetted by your political party, and I suspect in most large villages (1,000 residents) or a full-up city.....it'd be impossible to talk the political party apparatus into allowing you as a eighteen-year-old to run for such an office.

However, we have so may different parties now....that some of the older and more wiser of folks might look at their dismal chances of winning and just throw everything to the wind, and say that Huns.....the crazy eighteen-year-old kid who parties all the time and acts like John Wayne at local parties.....might get approved by the party apparatus, then find enough young folks in the village who'd vote for the guy as a 'protest-type' vote, then win.

My humble guess is that the Green Party will be the chief party testing younger political candidates.  But I won't guess to the success of the idea.  Who knows.....maybe after a decade....they agree to go back to the old age limit deal because they discovered youth isn't a great thing for the mayor's office.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Impression on German Wings Episode

It took around thirty-six hours to figure out that the pilot was on a toilet break in the German Wings plane, and the Co-Pilot refused to let him back into the cockpit....locking door with the computer system.....and setting the plane into a decline over a seven-to-eight minute period.

Suicide?  No....I don't refer to a case like this as plain suicide.  Guys like this deserve a special category....murderer.  He wanted a body count and an impressive act as part of his departure plan.  Typically....ninety-nine percent of people on a suicide plan....do it without involving anyone else.

Around six years ago in the Pfalz....we had two Air Force personnel returning from a Xmas function on Ramstein.  They were driving north out of the region and headed toward Baumholder.   Somewhere in the darkness...on the autobahn....they rounded a corner and some gal ran intentionally across the road to be hit by the car.  The murderer in this case wanted to involve the two Air Force folks in their last moments on Earth.  The murderer ended up flying through the windshield and caused some minor injuries to the car passengers.  They survived....the murderer died....and the two survivors end up with a life-time of memories over a five-second moment.

German cops couldn't say much after the Pfalz episode....gal was under some treatment, but that was mostly the end of the story.

This co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz?  I suspect the cops will go to his apartment....find some writings of depression....mental stress....then question friends from his school days.  Most will probably say that he had some dark tendencies and they just didn't know the real Lubitz.  Maybe he got some mental health counseling as a kid.....maybe he got even more recently.

The gameplan?  It was never suicide.  It was to murder a bunch of folks and make a dramatic show out of it.  There's no punishment for Lubitz now....he basically is slammed via the news media and his former co-workers will simply ask who the real Lubitz was and why he was this crazy.

As for tomorrow?  The US has a FAA policy....pilot or co-pilot want to go to the toilet?  Stewardess is called in and she stands there while the guy is gone.  No one say much over what the policy is if the remaining aircrew member starts to get up and move toward the stewardess....but I'm guessing she'll open the door and give a warning of some type.  My hunch is that all EU airlines will enact this policy within two weeks.

The reason why you get some nuts like this?  Simple....business expansion.

It used to be in the 1960s and all the way to the 1980s....all of your airline pilots (US, Japan, Canada, Britain, France, etc)....had military pilots who had been screened by their services.  Once the boom period of the 1980s came around....there just weren't enough pilots of a military background. So you started to get guys who had some brief college years and a certification for the type of plane they wanted the pilot to fly.  Airlines didn't ask a bunch of questions about mental issues....if they did.....they wouldn't be able to get enough folks to fill all of the various requirements.

So, they accepted guys who had depression issues, mental issues, etc.  This guy here?  He just wanted to murder folks in a creative way.  Maybe there's some test for this type of disorder, but I kinda doubt that it'd be that effective and work each time around.

Yeah....we were so worried about jihad nuts.....we didn't really focus on just plain average nuts in a pilot's uniform.  It's that simple.

Cops on the Move in Hessen

Hessen cops were active this morning in Frankfurt....search warrant acted upon....with a Salafist Islamic organization.  News media simply says it was one residence of several (it was in the Bornhelm area). Other warrants?  News from HR says four German states (Bavaria, Hessen, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Schleswig-Holstein).  All of this started around sun-up (6AM).

What the authorities in Hessen will generally say is that they've developed a new strategy.  They kinda figured out that most all recruitment is against teens (shocker there, if you ask me.....it took them two or three years to realize that?).  So, they've started a counter program to wise-up young guys in schools and make them ask stupid questions of the Jihad-pretender guys.  They've also wised up on the Salafist leadership and think there's more to the picture than shown.

Info from the raids?  My guess is that the leadership of the Salafist guys are fairly smart.  They know the cops will focus on them, and therefore....little will be found in their residence.  The money for the Salfist organizations?  It's all charity money out of Saudi Arabia....clean.  It's like going after a mafia unit....they figured the money-laundering tricks....communications work-around episodes....and how to structure secondary leadership to take orders and carry out the functions.

If I were the German cops....I'd recruit some mafia experts and bring them in to advise.  They know how to run a quiet operation, and they would demonstrate the tricks to go after.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Smoker Story

Starting tomorrow....in any Wiesbaden city kid's playground area (all 150 of them)...smoking is forbidden.

Yeah....quietly, the city council moved this way a number of months ago.  No one said much.  The signs will go up tomorrow morning and it'll be a remarkable entry into a new era.

The trigger to this?  The group asking for the no smoking ban wanted to set up a role-model type situation....so kids wouldn't see people smoking while playing.  Yeah, it's a fairly bogus mindset, but that's the world we live in.

You are still safe in the city parks, and on the streets of Wiesbaden....at least for the time being.  I suspect....within ten years.....most city streets will be a forbidden zone for smoking.

Will there be inspections done and people cited?  I would imagine there's probably some guy on the city parks department who has some role as a smoker-inspection dude.  Most smokers might take the role of the guy as a joke, but he'll just call up the cops if you don't play the game correctly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Greek Solution

Generally, if you go up to a guy and ask him for a full view of his financial status....to say on a broad scale where the debits and credits are located.....after an hour, he'll give you a nice simple answer.  He'll say he's still owing 100,000 Euro to the bank on his house, owes 8,000 Euro on his car, and has some retirement-related account worth 40,000 Euro.  There's an answer to your question.

You could probably walk up to eighty million Germans, and I'd take a guess that sixty million of them could do their calculation themselves and give a fairly honest and truthful answer.  Some folks have significant investments and it might take a week to assemble the data to say the debt/credit situation.

On a country level....generally, most countries have a number of smart guys around and if you asked them what financial level that the country itself lies in.....these guys can give you a ninety-percent answer.  It might not be perfect....but it's fairly close.

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal....there's an interesting piece over Greece and this statistical organization that helps to explain where Greece is on debt/credit.

Greece runs this organization called ELSAT.  Their job is financial analysis....at the national level.  These are the guys who say where tax revenue is coming on....where spending is occurring within the government.....and where bank loans are covering spending by the government.

Around 2010, because of the economic woes of 2008.....ELSAT hired up this new guy who came over from the international banking sector (IMF).....Andreas Georiou.  This is a guy who studied at a regional Athens university.....went onto Amherst College in the US for a bachelors degree, and finished up at University of Michigan with a PhD in economics.

For roughly twenty years with the IMF, he had various responsibilities.  He even picked up some exterior work as a professor for the University of Michigan.

In 2010.....he came over to run the ELSAT statistics department.  He was there to crunch numbers. His results?  Fairly dismal.  His numbers drove a great deal of the trend toward austerity and got Greeks fairly negative about the whole financial situation.

Well.....some folks have hinted that he walked into ELSAT with an agenda....worked with German banks....and conspired to create this fraudulent austerity situation. This week...the Greek government is working up charges against the guy and intend to bring him into court.

The general accusation?  Well....several folks within ELSAT say that Georgiou has no background or expertise with statistics.  The same folks suggest that he can only deliver what he's told to deliver.....not necessarily the facts.

What will happen?  One might take a guess that the new political situation in Greece requires some dramatic flip to dump austerity and keep Greece within the Euro.  If they could prove that the statistical picture given back five years ago was totally wrong....that austerity is not necessary....that European pressure to reform is unnecessary, then they carve out a brief period of calm (my word for this 'mess').

The problem here.....it's almost impossible for a nation to sit down and balance their books today, and show a debt/credit situation.  You might be able to talk about yourself.....but a nation of sixteen million or eighty million?  No.

The banks will watch this soap-opera unfold and eventually say 'fine'.....go on and pretend austerity is not necessary but don't come and ask us for loans.  Countries within the EU will likely say the same.....pretend austerity isn't necessary and just work this out on your own without our pocket money.  At that point....this gimmick kinda falls apart, if you ask me.

Missing Gal Episode from 2014

About a year ago, I blogged over the disappearance and possible murder of a local gal here in Wiesbaden (Schlangenbad)...."Britta B".

Authorities took the original story that the husband told....spent days searching for her.....never found a body, and came to view the husband in some murder episode.

The regional cops spent a number of months trying to find the body.  Without it....it's near impossible to win in court unless you find some accompanying evidence (pool of blood, DNA evidence, etc).  They eventually had to let the guy go.

This husband eventually left the region and went back to his home country of Belgium. This past weekend, Belgium cops came and arrested him on a warrant from Germany.  There's court action underway and you can probably bet on questions being asked in a Belgium court over how you prosecute a guy without a dead body.

The odds of success?  Last year....after the prosecutor tried to run murder charges....the Hessen court intervened and said that it just wouldn't work with the body issue.  What changed?  Don't know....the local press hasn't found much of anything in terms of changes other than the husband packed up and left Germany.