Fox with a foot fetish


Christian Meyer via Twitter

For Christian Meyer, it wasn’t so much about what the fox said but what the fox may have stolen. A resident of the Berlin neighborhood of Zehlendorf, in late July, Meyer made the shocking discovery of 100 pairs of stolen footwear after he had followed a thieving fox to its hideout…

Meyer caught the furry fiend in the midst of stealing a pair of blue flip-flops but was unable to see the investigation through. Then, days later, he spotted the thieving fox again. Meyer followed the animal into the woods, presumably headed toward its hideout.

Dedicated to solving the mystery of the locals’ missing shoes, Meyer followed the fox through the woods where he spent about an hour crawling around the brush in pursuit of the four-legged bandit. Luckily, Meyer’s perseverance paid off: the fox led him to a stash of more than 100 pairs of shoes.

All reasonably clever critters have their own tweaks, I guess. Shoes ain’t one of mine, though.

The American Wall


Leonard Freed, 1961

❝ “We, he and I, two Americans. We meet silently and part silently. Between us, impregnable and as deadly as the wall behind him, is another wall. It is there on the trolley tracks, it crawls along the cobble stones, across the frontiers and oceans, reaching back home, back into our lives and deep into our hearts: dividing us, wherever we meet. I am White and he is Black.”

Leonard Freed, 1961

China is Building “Sponge Cities” Facing A Critical Aspect of Climate Change

❝ China is taking the repercussions of climate change seriously. One consequence of our warming world is increasingly frequent and more severe flooding. This is especially problematic in growing, crowded cities, which has made certain regions in China more vulnerable. To combat this growing issue, the country is pursuing the development of “sponge cities.”

❝ The Sponge City Initiative, launched in 2015, invests in projects that focus on absorbing floodwater. Currently, spongy designs are being explored in 30 cities, including Shanghai, Wuhan, and Xiamen. The current aim of the initiative is that, by 2020, 80 percent of urban areas in China will re-use at least 70 percent of their rainwater…

The creation of a sponge city is not a singular, defined process. Each project is customized to its region and aims to improve upon previous techniques and overcome difficult challenges. Strategies include using permeable surfaces and green (meaning that it incorporates plant-life) infrastructure. The concept has so much potential that other cities around the world, like in Berlin, are looking to become more “spongy.”…

❝ Increased natural disasters will be a consequence of climate change that threatens all countries around the world, as illustrated by the recent hurricane and resulting flooding in Houston. …China is taking a firm stand against such flooding with this initiative, and the rest of the world might follow suit. From advanced drainage systems to roadways capable of absorbing water and creative planting, sponge cities are getting increasingly innovative in how they might be able to better fend off treacherous floodwaters.

Or we might continue with the existing style firmly grounded in conservative American politics. “Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers” for the victims of a growing number of environmental disasters.

Eurofurence 22 in Berlin — Europe’s largest furry convention


Click to enlargeCarsten Koall/Getty

More than 2,500 people have gathered in Berlin for Eurofurence, a convention for “furries” – lovers of anthropomorphic cartoon animals. Many of those attending Europe’s largest “furry” convention wear life-sized fantasy animal costumes, while others are fans of those who wear fursuits.

Members of the furry fandom often create their own “fursona” – an animal character. This avatar allows them to express characteristics quite different from their own personalities. Although around 80% of furries are male, many of their avatars are of a different gender.

Hope the weather ain’t too hot for furry suits.

35,000 Germans rally in Dresden against ethnic, religious, hatred


Anti-bigotry rally in Berlin

A rally against racism and xenophobia on Saturday drew tens of thousands of people in the eastern German city of Dresden, which has become the center of anti-immigration protests organized by a new grassroots movement called PEGIDA.

“We won’t permit that hate will divide us”, Dresden’s mayor Helma Orosz said in front of the 18th-century Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).

Around 35,000 people attended the rally that was jointly organized by the state government of Saxony and the city of Dresden…

The movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) is holding weekly rallies in Dresden with a record number of 18,000 people attending last Monday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the anti-Muslim demonstrations, urging Germans to turn their backs on the movement and calling their organizers racists full of hatred.

The Paris attack has fueled fears that it could boost anti-immigration movements around Europe and inflame a culture war about the place of religion and ethnic identity in society.

Speaking after a party meeting of her Christian Democrats (CDU) in Hamburg earlier on Saturday, Merkel stressed the need for intercultural dialogue and warned against prejudice.

Good to see this. If there is a nation in the world capable of taking the lead in opposing rightwing populism, opportunist ethnic hatred. it is Germany. They know the potential results almost as well as the nationalities murdered by German fascists in the mid-20th Century.

Aargh! – Pirates win almost 9% in Berlin regional vote

With laptops open like shields against the encroaching cameramen, the young men resembled Peter Pan’s Lost Boys more than Captain Hook’s buccaneers when they were introduced Monday as Berlin’s newest legislators: They are the members of the Pirate Party.

Asked if they were just some chaotic troop of troublemakers, Christopher Lauer, newly voted in as a state lawmaker for the district of Pankow, replied with no lack of confidence, “You ought to wait for the first session in the house of representatives.”

By winning 8.9 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election in this city-state, these political pirates surpassed — blew away, really — every expectation for what was supposed to be a fringe, one-issue party promoting Internet freedom. The Pirates so outstripped expectations that all 15 candidates on their list won seats…

These men in their 20s and 30s, who turned up at the imposing former Prussian state parliament building, some wearing hooded sweatshirts, and one a T-shirt of the comic book hero Captain America, were no longer merely madcap campaigners and gadflies. They had become the people’s elected representatives…

They are absolutely not a joke party,” said Christoph Bieber, a professor of political science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. While there was certainly an element of protest in the unexpectedly large share of the votes the Pirates won, they were filling a real need for voters outside the political mainstream who felt unrepresented. “In the Internet, they have really found an underexploited theme that the other political parties are not dealing with,” Mr. Bieber said.

The state election in Berlin on Sunday was full of surprising results. The pro-business Free Democrats, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partners in the federal Parliament, crashed and burned, again, receiving less than 2 percent of the vote. That is well below the 5 percent needed to remain in the statehouse. The Green Party continued to build on its recent successes and may well become one of the governing parties in Berlin.

While issues like online privacy and data protection may seem incredibly narrow, even irrelevant, to older voters, for young people who often spend half their waking hours online, much of it on social networking sites where they share their most intimate moments, it is anything but a small issue. And the Pirates’ call for complete transparency in politics resonates powerfully with a generation disillusioned by the American case for war in Iraq and galvanized by WikiLeaks’ promise to put an end to secrecy.

The Pirates’ surprisingly strong showing came as further evidence of voter dissatisfaction in Germany with the established parties, and what many see as their inability to look beyond self-interest and focus instead on the needs of their constituents…

The effort made to build a sustainable Germany after World War 2 included a reliance on democracy long ago subverted in the United States. In almost every state, the deck is thoroughly stacked against a minor party getting on the ballot. And the 2-Party private club owns all the people who administer and regulate the process. Still, these folks are an inspiration.

Of course, the number of articles appearing on radio and TV, in mass media newspapers across the USA – relating the tale of this minority miracle – is less than coverage of the average NFL quarterback developing a hangnail on his throwing hand.