Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Keeping calm...

Two recently discovered iterations of the meme, although the 'stay classy' exhortation is also an example of another meme family which sees the Chanel logo given the wildest permutations.

I am trying to keep calm, although you could today colour me cantakerous.

However, before I switch to grumpy-old-git mode, a couple of positive notes. Firstly, the month which just ended was the mildest since meteorological records have been kept in Germany, with the highs every day reaching double digits and a few times even fifteen degrees. Hardier souls, or masochists, were even drinking their skinny lattes at Starbucks sidewalk tables. Sweet!

A second positive: Last Friday I was comparison shopping (reading price-tags) in a chic gentlemen's outfitters in downtown Munich when I saw five young men (late twenties, early thirties, mere kids in my book) of Middle Eastern appearance (as Uncle Sam's TSA thugs might say) comparing the merits of Dolce and Gabbana shirts with some stylish Paul Smith models.

On the spur of the moment I greeted them with "Eid Mubarak!" and got five surprised "Eid Mubaraks" in return. A brief chat ensued and they were from Dubai. Anyway, it was a nice feel-good moment. (It occurs to me now that they were quite conceivably civil servants enjoying the long holiday break... see yesterday's post.)

Cantankerous, though?

Firstly on account of the idiotic Swiss referendum result with regard to the banning of minarets. It would so serve the small-minded xenophobes right if every Franc deposited by Moslems in the banks of the EIdgenossen were swiftly withdrawn!

Secondly I am far from approving of Germany's striking students. Their ire has been aroused by the reforms through which the Bachelor and Masters degree programs, as determined in the Bologna agreement, are increasingly being implemented.

The criticism is that in comparison to the system being replaced the new curriculum is too 'verschult'. Now that's a word which is hard to translate. 'Scholarized' might come close. German's university students see the threat of a new level of regimentation on the horizon, compulsory attendance, regular testing, many of the attributes of the system which has worked so well for decades in the United States and much more rigorous, disciplined and demanding than the rather cosy regime which has prevailed hitherto in Germany. With regular scoring of results achieved flexibility is facilitated, with grade points transferable so that the university years could start in Heidelberg, continue in Hull and conclude in Halifax. For example (q.v. the Beggars' Litany, apt in a way).

Kids! Get real!

Reminds me of a tee-shirt slogan I saw... My reality check just bounced.


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