Category Archives: Fun

Copy-paste journalism – plagiarism in the media?

I have been working on a paper on dating for a while (hopefully ready for publication in summer), so I try to gather articles on the subject when they appear in the news I read. It so happened that the Economist published an article (Sex and Love: The modern Matchmakers) in its current edition (from 11 February 2012) reviewing a published journal article by Eli Finkel of Northwestern University. Finkel is assessing if online dating websites are as successful as they claim to be. Apparently she finds that there is no evidence for this.

After I consumed that article last weekend, I was stuck yesterday when another story on online dating appeared in the BBC online news – interestingly referring back to the same article by Finkel. And to make things worse, today the German edition of Spiegel Online published another article, again, refering to the same Finkel journal article. Continue reading

Travel light – on packing and sleeping

I came across three useful travel tips that I should I should share. (And note to self.)

The funniest, and maybe most useful, is from last weekend’s Financial Times. Always wondered how to max your hand luggage? – Here is the solutionn – the Dutch version of ‘wearable luggage’. This is a coat into which you can put up to 10kg of luggage and later (e.g. after check-in) fold into a bag. Very handy for flying with hand luggage only! Find out more at their website (Note that they are selling with 25% discounts until end of October).

Spiegel Online ran a nice article (unfortunately only in German) on how the freak travellers (backpackers) minimise the weight of their luggage. The bottom line is to buy a scale. But not the one you think. We are talking about the ones you normally use for food or letters etc., i.e. one to measure the 50 grams some stuff weighs too much. More in this (how to pack) and this article (how to spread in your backpack).

Read this blog if you consider a longer stay-over in an airport (or an overnighter). Nice reviews of experiences of sleeping over in various airports world wide. A particularly relevant read for Ryanair & co travellers. – My Facebook agreement with Manila having been voted the world’s worst airport has created a debate among friends, and it turns out that some Asian airports have probably not (yet?) received the (negative) attention they deserve. But Manila is a seriously crappy airport, with no proper connections between the four terminals and clueless staff all around. Point made.

Never forget to pay your bills in Singapore

Some say Singaporeans are greedy, some say they are bureaucratic and some that they are uber-honest. I think this is all crap stereotyping (as if the Germans would be orderly… or the Indians talkative…). But here is a warning from the Singapore university library of what happens if you do not settle your fines (no matter what amount!):

Eating out and food in Singapore

Ok. Today is a special day. I could write a comment about some Florida idiots who wanted to burn books some consider holy – or the reactions to this. But all these crazies on either side really deserve no further attention. It is time to start writing about Singapore. And what could be more important than religious debates? – Something that is more visible in Singapore than politics. Something that is big story in Singapore. Food.

One of the first things you read in any travel guide about Singapore is its focus on food. Or should I say obsession? Given the lack of what us westerners would regard as classical or traditional culture, this special place Singapore is surely building some of its culture around food. And food comes in many particular ways here. Lesson one: food (like so many other products here) is not big here because it is grown in Singapore but because locals (and probably even more immigrants) have been skilled to make the best of varieties of influence from all around the south east asian region (and beyond). Thanks to these diverse cultural influences food is big here. And it is diverse. You can probably generalise and say that the Singaporean kitchen is composed of the same ethnic influence as its society overall: Chinese, Malaysian and Indian. On top of that you have the hard-to-avoid American Continue reading

West Wing to explain the EU

CC from aka The European Citizen has written an interesting post about why the EU should possibly have its own West Wing (WW) series to explain the EU. And yes, there is not only West Wing but also Yes, (Prime) Minister or The Thick of it. I do not know well the two latter ones and vaguely remember that also the German public TV (ZDF) once tried to copy WW with Das Kanzleramt – and flopped. But why would an EU version of West Wing be interesting – and why would it help to explain the EU?

Let’s first consider what West Wing was: It was, no question, the the best (I say THE best) TV series ever! – It was so good not because it was about politics and that is what I like. No, it was good because it was smart, it had brilliantly-drawn characters with personality, excellent actors, it was realistic – and it had an intelligent but all-embracing humour. I am sure that we can find excellent actors and draw equivalent characters for an EU “13th floor” (as Conor calls it) series. But would we have the play writers to come up with dialogues and characters of such brilliance? In the end, I have not come across any European TV series that has impressed me so far…

I am sure public broadcasters in the EU with possible arte as a frontrunner would be happy to unite and prepare such a show. Moreover, the EU will surely make its MEDIA funds available for this – and the Commission, Parliament (and possibly less so the Council) would be happy to offer some insights and filming opportunities. So, all this should be set – if we only found the script writers!

Would this help to explain the EU?

Yes, Continue reading

Kampagne für Wolfgang Schäuble als EU Kommissar

Deutschlands EU Kommissar

Diese Woche hat die CDU endlich ihre Plakatmotive zur Bundestagswahl vorgestellt. Kaum überraschend für die CDU geht es einmal wieder vorrangig um Köpfe ihres bekannten Spitzenpersonals. Netzpolitik und andere haben sich zu Recht gleich über die provozierenden Gebote von “Freiheit und Sicherheit” vor Innenminister Wolfang Schäuble hergemacht. Ausgezeichnet ist in diesem Zusammenhang ihr Remix-Tool für einen veränderten Text über Schäuble.

Ich hab dies zum Anlass genommen, meine letzte Hoffnung für eine bessere Freiheitspolitik in einem Abschieben von Schäuble nach Brüssel auszudrücken und eröffne hiermit offiziell seine Kampagne “Ich bin der Überwachungs-Opa, schickt mich nach Europa”:


DDR Fahne auf EU-Preisverleihung

DDR FahneIch dachte immer, ich wäre der einzige, der als einzige deutsche Flagge im Hausstand die Fahne der DDR hätte… Aber vor wenigen Tagen wurde ich eines besseren belehrt. Da hat doch eine dieser lahmen Agenturen aus dem EU-Umfeld bewiesen, dass sie im Gegensatz zu mir nicht nur eine DDR Flagge besitzen sondern diese auch für zeitgemäß halten. Anlässlich der aktuellen Wirtschaftspolitik könnte man von Zeit zu Zeit tatsächlich auf diese Idee kommen, der Anlass der Beflaggung war aber ein anderer.

Was passierte also?

Am 23. Februar wurden in der Brüsseler Bibliotheque Solvay die Preise an die European Green Capitals Hamburg (für 2011) und Stockholm (für 2010) vergeben. Die Grüne Hamburger Umweltsenatorin nahm den Preis für ihre Stadt entgegen und im Hintergrund hängt neben der EU Flagge die DDR Fahne (s. BILD Bericht oder Hamburger Abendblatt). Continue reading

Happy New Year (in Slovakian) and the blogging

After more than two months without my blog, I could not wait to get started again. There are just too many things that should not go uncommented, so here we go again.

As much as I will try to improve my writing on this blog, I must admit that I have become a little unfaithful. I have started to blog about career perspectives for the LSE’s Finalists Blog and I will also try to share some thoughts about the EU budget on a new project called But whenever I feel that my comments on those blogs can also be interesting for my readers here, I shall notify you here.

But let’s call it a night – and a happy new year – with this great New Year’s card from our old family friend Ilja from Slovakia who reminds us of the great development of Slovakia joining the Euro by Januar 1st 2009.

Happy New Year 2009 - à la Slovakian