The Fish
for 26 May 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
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Road Rage

Skinner,

I visit Suck quite
frequently to get a clue how
you folks overseas interpret
current stuff in politics,
culture, etc.

Again, I am astonished at the
ability of "foreign" (my
point of view) journalists to
stick their heads into their
behinds, uh, I mean the
ground as soon as it's
Germany they're writing
about.

As you've shown with your
other articles, you wouldn't
have to rely on cheap
bratwurst mit sauerkraut und
senf
stories to amuse your
readers.

Maybe you had other things on
your mind today/yesterday,
but next time - please - take
the time to think again.

Regards,

Tom (from Germany, obviously)
<teicher@juliet-z6.de>

As we like to say around the
dinner table at the old
Skinner haus, "Es gibt nichts
neues unter der Sonne.
"

You're right, of course: the
American media can't seem to
get the story straight on
Germany. I freely admit to
indulging in cheap
stereotypes and intentional
misunderstanding - which,
after all, are two of the
Five Pillars of Suck. (The
other three have to do with
money and sex.) But I had a
higher purpose, which was
___________ (fill in
appropriate expression of
liberal neuroses about
xenophobia and fear of
xenophobia blah blah blah).

Still, my basic premise seems
incontrovertible: Would it be
more accurate to say
reunification didn't work,
German industry is lagging
well behind the rest of the
world, and that - seriously -
the "Right Wing" is busy
hatching its nefarious plans
for the Fourth Reich?

I didn't think so either.

Warm regards,

E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Back in the days of the cold
war, several of us suspected
that much of the spying in
the Germanies had more to do
with East/West German
sabbaticals and information
exchange than East/West
ideological differences.

Deutschland über
soi-dissant super-powers.

I'm waiting for SAP to buy
Microsoft.

Ned Kittlitz
<kittlitz@world.std.com>

You raise a really
interesting point: The
continuing angst over
"Westies" versus "Ossies" and
how that's played out in
American media.

Basically, everyone seems to
think the only story in
Germany today is the
persistent social troubles
of reunification, as if the
friction between old
economies will re-ignite the
dreaded Right ... such a
conflagration, no matter how
small, negligible, and
juvenile, is guaranteed to
have everyone from Berlin to
Tokyo shitting their pants.

Well, in light of Germany's
current ass-kicking corporate
agenda, there are plenty of
other - better - reasons to
don the adult-sized diapers.

E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Just throw in a few
stereotypes, mix it with bad
American satire and the
result is your "article."

Please try harder next time -
even when it is't about
Germans....

Greetings from London,

Dieter Müller
<dieter@industria.demon.co.uk>

I apologize for indulging in
stereotypes and bad American
satire. But you wouldn't
believe how we Americans eat
this kind of thing up. Surely
you've heard of Seinfeld by
now?

Anyway, there's no arguing
about the facts: Germany's
industrial prowess is
undeniable. The question is
whether it actually means
anything or not. I was
banking on it.

And I will try harder.

Warm regards from San
Francisco and points beyond,

E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Skinner,

OK, Mr. Skinner, Sir. I
confess that my first
response to your piece on the
German industrial blitzkrieg
was to wonder if we'd be
hearing a short do on the
"Yellow Peril" or the Vatican
Connections to fascism. Then
I thought for a moment (never
easy before the coffee) and
realised HEY! this guy is on
to something ... and you're
not the only one getting the
creeps.

But let's think for a moment:
part of Hitler's Great Plan
was a United Europe with
Germany at its political and
economic center. Is it
coincidence that the German
Bank is the strongest economy
in the EU? A second part of
the Great Plan was economic,
um, hegemony. (One hates to
use words like domination and
enslavement.) And, with our
friends at Volkswagon
"creating buzz" by just
driving around, (I've seen a
lot of the little buggers in
San Francisco - not a one
with plates or stickers)
perhaps their next hegemonic
targets are post-hippie boomers
and their now-graduating X-er
off-spring.

Ah well. Was all this timed
to happen just as images of
English "confessions" to
Germany for World War II
bombing faded from memory? Or
is the rise of the European
Right (in France as well as
in Germany) just a side
effect of something else
(like "Candidate Dole" and
Viagra)?

Bill Bailey
<bailey@usfca.edu>

The really interesting thing
here is how Germans continue
to find a way to carry out
this Faustian marriage of
sacred/profane, high/low ...
the Volkswagen-Rolls Royce
deal being the perfect
automotive analogy (Peoples'
Car versus the Motor Carriage
of the Aristocracy). In the
news, this plays out as "look
at the poor Ossies, just
can't get up to speed after
reunification, and now
they're rolling out the
swastikas" - meanwhile, their
industries are goose-stepping
all over the globe.

Warm regards,

E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Skinner:

I was a bit distressed by
your recent piece. Reminded
me somewhat of Mr. Burns'
taunt: "Oooh, the Germans are
mad at me. I'm so scared!
Oooh, the Germans!" C'mon,
now. Consider a few points.

I seem to remember a similar
furor (heh heh) over the
Japanese a few years back, a
cultural vilification that
gave us the movie where Tom
Selleck went to play baseball
with the little Nips, as well
as Rising Sun, and bashing on
small, cheap Japanese cars.
They were a convenient source
of frustration for fired
American workers who would
rather believe their
unemployment was the fault of
foreign companies, not their
own management's stupidity
and greed. But the Japanese
economy crashed, like all big
economies after a boom period
and now the Japanese are more
of a joke/source for articles
in Salon.

Now we have Germany, which
would certainly be an easier
enemy to vilify, given the
whole Nazi thing. Sure, the
Japanese were in World War
II, but as a people they're
kinda short and funny
lookin'. The Germans, on the
other hand, are big and
menacing and scary. Germans
are torturers and hit men
(see Die Hard 3).

But don't forget: it takes
two to merger. The greed of
the former owners is just as
much to blame as the evil
foreigners. Yes, they may be
buying up parts of our
cultural heritage, but have
you been to a foreign country
lately? Know what you see
there? McDonald's. Tom
Cruise. Baywatch. America has
already colonized the world,
not by buying it, but by
selling to it. Germans making
cars is like English people
playing rock 'n' roll: They
can do it, but they can't own
it.

Don't get me wrong. I hate
the Germans as much as any
decent American. I just wish
Americans had a little bit of
that "exquisite
self-loathing."

Eppy
<eppy@grendel.org>

Yeah, unfortunately it's hard
to say anything interesting
about Japan and Germany that
doesn't set off a million
alarms courtesy of George
Santayana.

Let's just say we've seen the
future of fascism, and the
future of fascism is us. In
other words, we're moving
toward a world economy where
everything we ever wanted is
ours - with no apparent side
effects (just like Viagra)!
We just can't be real picky
about those annoying umlauts.

"Germans making cars ...
English people playing rock
... they can do it, but they
can't own it." - That's the
best punch line ever that
Joey Anuff didn't write.
Thanks.

Best regards,

E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Short Shrift

While Citizen Kane is
regarded as one of the best
films ever, that's no reason
to knock How Green Was My
Valley.
It's an excellent
film with well-written
dialog, a tear-jerker plot to
kill for, inventive camera
angles, composition, etc. It
definitely deserved a best
picture Oscar. Against Kane?
Probably not, but there are
far more egregious examples
in the Academy (The Greatest
Show on Earth,
etc.) than the
film that made Roddy McDowall
a star.

Don't forget, of course, that
the near-slanderous
semi-portrayal of the
intelligent and talented Mrs.
Hearst as the opera-faker
floozy, burnt a lot of
bridges in the Hollywood
power structure....

Don Smith
<dsmith@health.org>

Speaking of Roddy McDowall,
why has the Academy continued
to ignore Class of 1984? That
was a searing, chilling
journey into the grim future
of juvenile delinquency. It
features Roddy McDowall in
his finest role since Escape
from the Planet of the Apes

(That's a minority opinion I
know, but I never trusted him
in the role of Caesar quite
the way I did when he played
Cornelius - he just didn't
seem to fully inhabit the
character; and as for his
role as Galen in the TV
series, don't get me
started). And it provided a
crucial early role for
Michael J. Fox. Truly a
forgotten gem.

Vicki

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

I have to hand it to you once
again for drawing a parallel
between the Net and real
life. In this case, I didn't
think it could be done.

In the minds of the great
unwashed, I guess there's
less distance between
California Prop. 187 and Time
Warner's periodic popularity
contests than I like to think
about. So, since the topic is
silly Web polls:

We should call for more
security for Web polls,
dammit! That way, we can
distinguish between simple
ballot-stuffing and the more
difficult task of rousing
enough people from apathy
long enough to find the site
and push a button.

Just how solid is Time's
implied social contract with
its public - is Time bound to
use the poll results
verbatim, or can it
legitimately exclude the
genocidal politicians of its
choice from its honor roll?

Since Microsoft's publicity
drive targeted at state AG's
was exposed, do you think
they should try targeting
those ubiquitous Bill Gates
vs. Janet Reno poll sites?

Just a few questions to keep
you guys up at night.

Bruce J. Bell
<bruce@ugcs.caltech.edu>

Actually, there was no ballot
stuffing at the Pathfinder
site. It was protected
against bot voting and any
other forms of
system-cheating. Still, a
couple People people,
apparently unaware of the
concept of a voter
registration drive,
complained that the Stern
gang had gotten its followers
out in force, with the
implication that this was
somehow undemocratic.

The real question is why you
have to register more than a
month before the election.
Does it really take that long
to do the paperwork (I'd
doubt it, since even at
big-city polling places you
have to sign your name in a
big Book of the Blessed that
looks like it's older than
me)? Or are they just trying
to make it harder for you to
vote? Come to think of it,
why can't you just vote by
phone? Or why don't they just
have a big truck that goes by
with a guy writing down votes
that you yell to him out of
your window?

Vicki

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Prophetic words E. L.,
actually, I believe they call
it the "info-bahn" already,
in most of Europe and the UK.
As we move forward with
Internet regulation here in
America, we can just remove
the "h" to establish a global
standard term.

Your friend,

Christopher T. Dahle,
Attorney
<ctdahle@amigo.net>

Hi, Christopher. Thanks for your
note, you silver-tongued
devil. I just hope when it
DOES officially become the
info-bahn, that we can go as
fast as we want to, and that
the resulting crashes will
contribute significantly to
personal injury litigation,
which - I'm sure you'll agree
- has been sort of moribund
in recent years.

Best regards,
- E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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