Troubles Of The Autobahn Bourgeoisie

mercedes screw up
Top – 2015/16 cla, Bottom – 2014 or older cla

Let us take a moment, dear worst-reader, to contemplate the dilemmas of the few & far-between. Or, as I like to put it: let’s have a go at the problems of the Autobahn bourgeoisie. For it is that time of season once again. Like the periodical cicada I experienced in my youth, it’s a good thing the season I’m referring to here doesn’t happen regularly. Those cicadas were a bitch, especially if you drove a motorcycle. Getting hit with a flying cicada while driving fifty-five mph on a Honda is nothing to shake a stick at. Nomatter. Continue reading “Troubles Of The Autobahn Bourgeoisie”

Brake Driving

driving-with-brakes-in-germany
There are two (more) things today to say about driving on the Autobahn. Well, actually, there are a lot more things to be said but I don’t feel like typing so much this morn. For example. If you ever want to know how Germany works, you know, as a way to figure out why such a little country in the middle of Eurowasteland, compared to its compatriots of the blue and gold flag of Brussels, is doing relatively well compared to the other gold stars of said flag, look no further. Look only to the Autobahn. The Autobahn is the perfect metaphor for describing, figuring out, what Germaninland is all about and how it functions. So today, dear wurst-reader, we will focus on two words that fit best to this metaphor–I mean, fit best to describing the Germania.

Two worst-words of the day plus an added bonus.

  • Geil
  • Krapp
  • There is no evolution in the here and now. In other words, there is good reason you cannot perceive evolution as it happens directly under your feet for it is the space that most Eurowastelanders walk on, the space between the(ir) arrogance and the rotted ground they have sown through out history. Here we have the true meaning behind the myth that is the non-metaphorical Pandora’s box. But there are some that believe Pandora was a lie to begin with. A lie that was perpetrated to steer the Automaton mind from the truth. For the box is coded and within it is the soul. That’s right. The soul of humanity. Prosit!

Ok. Let’s focus. Did you know that in Tommi’s version of the Germanin language Geil and Krapp are the same difference? These are two wonderful words. Within them is an incapsulated, or is it embeded, I can’t tell those words apart since the start of oil wars, oh well. Anywho. In these words is a meaning that goes beyond the here and now. Within them life’s secrets exist and without them there would be no green coloured ice-cream or the plasticky feel to the metal Apple uses for its products. Nor would there be Würst.

The first, Geil, is basically the/a feeling you get when you have the hots for something or someone.

  • Ex. 1a: He thinks that Lamborghini is so geil… er könnte das Ding sofort besteigen.
  • Ex. 2a: She whisked her hair in my face and I felt so geil I could… leck die/der/das Schmalz vom ihren Ohren.

Krapp is a word I am proud to claim as my own. That is, I think, kinda, that I coined it. Wait. I may have stole it from a play–or maybe I stole it from the anger one feels when confronted with certain realities of life and the living-death of an automaton existence. Or did I just invent it and forget how? Nomatter. It deals with the same feeling as Geil but instead of there being the hots you get the colds. And. Better put for the layman, krapp is something doesn’t attract but instead distracts. Capisce!

  • Ex. 1b: He couldn’t decide which he wanted more, the girl or the Lamborghini… und das findet er krapp.
  • Ex. 2b: Just as he was about to undo the snap on her bra while kissing heated earlobes… er merkt das Sie eine Menge krapp hinter ihre Ohren hatte.

So when you drive the Autobahn for the first time it’s a rush like no-other. The first time I drove it was in a rental car. I think it was an Opel Vectra. Damn thing drove just like a cheap Chevy but it also drove, once you got it going, like a bat outta hell. Cute little four cylinder huffing and puffing but rolling that thing along at around 180kmh. And that was well over twenty years ago. I eventually graduated to driving the Autobahn with one of the toys proud to claim: made in Germany. (Opel is GM owned.) The first time I drove a Quattro I thought I finally made it. The world can come to an end–but not by driving. In fact, it could end as long as I could drive that damn car to oblivia. (Don’t worry, ‘oblivia’ is another word I invented. So just go with it.) But eventually something happened. I think, in part, that something has to do with the German birth-rate. Then there’s the idear of driving the German Autobahn for twenty years. That’s the amount of time where one can look back and claim: Die Zeiten ändern sich. Indeed, times have changed. As ambiguous as that is, one thing is clear: When time changes and has no direct effect on humanity, that change is usually good. Evolution has clearly not been a comforting process. When time changes and you’re in the change, that’s usually not good. That is, you are in one way or other paying for that change. So it never ceases to amaze (me) when driving on some of the best roads, with the best mass produced cars, with people who pay out the ying-yang to get a license to even drive, driving on the Autobahn sucks batballs! And why is that? Because the Germanins have all the above but are missing one important thing that could/should/would make it all coalesce if only they’d all stop driving with their brakes.

Links:

Rant on.

-ts

Analogy For The Future (Part 2)

June 18, 2008

Part 1 is here but I haven’t linked it yet.

This is yet another attempt to explain my continuing expat saga of living among z’Germans. Please forgive me in advance for any misleading soliloquies and I appreciate every effort on your part, dear worst-reader, to try and find humor where there is none. With that in mind, I started Part 1 so long ago with the premise that I had I found out what is (was?) wrong with the locomotive of Eurowasteland. Of course, I didn’t actually find out anything. But that’s not the point of writing in a blog that no one reads, or wanting to be funny but can’t, and living with the personality trait of taking myself way to serious(ly).

Anywho…

The Germans have done a few things right since the days of doing all things wrong. For one, they build pretty good cars. No. Wait. Let me start again.

I’m still quite angry that Germans do not have one, NOT ONE, alternative fueled vehicle in the production pipeline. Also, since I’ve been driving various German (luxury) cars since the early nineties, as far as build quality is concerned, they are doing the same thing Detroit did back in the seventies. They are making the cars cheaper and cheaper and cheaper and… The difference to American cars, though, is that even as the Germans make them cheaper, they still go like a bat outta hell. And the reason for that isn’t a passion for making great cars, nor is it great engineering. Just look at what the Italians build. They build awesomely beautiful cars that are questionably engineered. So. The reason the Germans do what they do is much simpler than just making something pretty. What the Germans do (what they build) has nothing to do with the cars themselves. No. Not at all. Instead. What the Germans do they do because of z’Autobahn.

No? Make no sense? Nomatter. I’m not starting over again.

Now. Germans build cars not because they have a passion to do so. They build them to justify having really, really great roadways. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been here a long time. The roadways the Germans build are deteriorating, that’s a given. But compared to the road ways around Chicago… To justify those roads being good, z’Germans have to at least offer a car or two that can drive on them. On the other hand, I wonder if the reason Germans don’t have alternative powered cars is because they know something about gas supplies that other countries don’t know?

Wait. I’m tangent-ing again. Bare with me, dear worst-reader.

In order for Germans to build good cars they first have to build great roads. Enter Autobahn heaven, baby. Even though currently most of their Autobahns serve as government subsidized work placement programs, there are still parts of the A3, the A2 and my particular favorite the A27 (between Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven), where you can drive so fast that the horizon snaps shut before your eyes have time to blink. Seriously. At the risk of bragging and making a fool of myself because of the outrageous carbon footprint that I leave behind, I comfortably admit, when possible, I drive at speeds of and around 240km/h. It’s an absolutely crazy thing to do. If I could afford it, I would take the train. But Germany, like so many other western countries, is a slave to whatever it needs to keep the status quo going. Thereby the train system, that once might have been good, now sucks and is in no way competitive with the Autobahn. What a shame, eh.

Let me put the speed-thing in perspective. For you NASCAR lovin’ mama-boys out there, get this: when I’m in a good mood, when the weather is sparky and I have no family members in the vehicle, when my contact lenses are clear and there’s no stress ringing in my ears, I sometimes drive a well-powered Audi at speeds (on public highways) faster than those who win at [4]Dover International Speedway. Now if that won’t motivate young men (with a driver’s license) to come over here and experience Oktoberfest, I don’t know what else should.

Warning: this is not an advert—seriously.

The last thing Germans do right that I’ll address here has nothing to do with cars either. It has to do with the only other invention that should be recognized as its industry’s VW Bug. I’m talking, of course, about Aldi  the discount supermarket chain where practically every continental German speaking person has at one point or other in their lives bought something. I have a thing for Aldi (and not because it rhymes with Audi).

Aldi is short for Albrecht Discount. The little stores have also been called ”Albrecht’s Fine Foods” or ” Albrecht Delicatessen”. I’m not kidding. Today every continental German speaking person buys something at Aldi at sometime or other. That’s a business taking in money from well-over a 100million people. Such success has made the founders of Aldi, the Albrecht brothers, the richest men in all of Germany—and they regularly make the Forbes richest schmuck list. Say what you want about rich people, Bill Gates included, but there’s good reason the Albrecht brothers are swimming in cash. It boils down to Aldi just being plain good at what they do. Which is not something you can claim of companies like Wal-Mart. I’m a regular Aldi goer and I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from that store that was necessary to throw out because it was junk. Do I need to mention Wal-Mart again? Wait a sec…

Oh no, that’s not true. I’m just exaggerating because this is potentially a post that a German might read and then say, hey, this (American) guy [9]complaining about Germany all the time ain’t all that bad.

So.

I did buy one of them multi screw-drivers at Aldi once and I had to throw it out after a day or two of use. But hell, it only cost something like five Euros. It worked up until I used it to try and unscrew some heavily rusted bolts while replacing a thoroughly rusted exhaust pipe. The thing snapped in two pieces. I went through two other tools during that escapade, as well. But I don’t remember where I bought those tools.

Aldi’s secret of success (according to Tommi) is this. Dictate to manufactures a certain quality and then buy & sell volume. Nothing unique there  except maybe the dictate part. The thing that Aldi seems to do different than other discounters is that it retails fairly good quality stuff.

Cheap is one thing, but cheap quality is another.

Btw, Aldi was the first “discounter” of its kind to sell real Champagne? Seriously. I’m talkin’ Champagne as in the bubbly from real Champagne, France. Aldi to this day sells a bottle of it for something like 15,- Euros. It’s a bit sweet, but what the heck—chicks love just the idear of drinking Champagne. So you can accredit Aldi for helping weak-ass German boys getting laid. Aldi also gets North East American fisheries to ship over frozen, whole Lobsters and then sells them for something like 7,- Euros. I’ve had them. They’re great. Needless to say, when the lobsters arrive there’s a run on all the stores. But then there’s the wine. I’ll keep it short and just say, Aldi features some of the best wines from Chile to Italy and they cost half of what they’d cost elsewhere. Dictate away, Aldi!

A bit more Tommi-2cents on wine here.

When I was still working as an industry analyst for various consulting companies I was giving the task of researching Aldi. Of course, like many other analysts, I got nowhere. It’s not because I couldn’t find the information. I was a great researcher and analyst. The problem was (is) Aldi is collectively tight lipped. It is a private company and therefore not required to release any information—at least there’s a serious clamp on info regarding how it makes so much damn money. Even the people that work the registers are told that they should never answer any questions about the business.

And now on to the ANALOGY that would never be.

Businesses that make the kind of money that Aldi does usually fall to the whims of cycles and downturns or whatever. Or does that only apply to companies that are dependent on the loan-capital derived from being on a stock exchange? Didn’t UPS used to be one of the most successful companies NOT trading a stock? In fact, it wasn’t till 1999 that UPS went public. But I’m not here to bash the current and obvious ill-nature of the stock market and/or the western world turning to speculative finance to keep its fail-upwards ways afloat. Aldi pushes along and just keeps making more and more money—and is not publicly traded. It is simply a no-frills company  which is reflected in its stores the world over and seems to focus solely on a level of end consumer quality that is, in my opinion, unmatched—at least in the German market.

So what am I really addressing here going from z’German autobahns and Audi to Aldi and outrageous profits? This may be both a bit pretentious and naive but what the heck. Aldi represents not just an untapped business principle but also a principle that could/should apply to life. That principle is balance. It seems that a company like Aldi can balance the madness of running a bidness above and beyond just being a profit center. In fact, in my whacked-out way of seeing things (aka Stough-ism), most corporations and their constituencies are only interested in annihilating at least one part of the supply and demand equation that has ruled our lives since Adam Smith first blew his nose. Obviously, I’m no economist. I only worked in management consulting for the better part of ten years. I might be way off base here. It’s just that when I sit back and look at how things work in the western world these days, I’m worried. Our corporate driven, survive to consume situation is way beyond unsustainable—and not just because of the way we’ve compromised productivity via outsourcing labor. So I’ve been looking for examples that potentially are sustainable. I mean, come on, Aldi is rarely in the press for any controversy and more importantly, its employees all seem to be content with their earnings. Wow. Talk about balance. Business Balance? Oh, and before I forget. Make cars based on the roadways that they can drive on them. Now there’s a thought!

So.

I’ve heard some say that the reason Wal-Mart pulled out of Germany was because of Aldi. The thing about Euro business is that companies have to yield (the word ”yield” is not part of the German language which you can also see on the Autobahns) in some way or other to governments. Where American neo-con/Republicans hypocritically claim to be all about reducing government in the markets, Euro companies gladly oblige governments as at times governments seem to fill the employer/employee gap that has so obviously been part of the downfall of corporate American’t. For companies like Wal-Mart, balance is completely irrelevant.

I have to go to Aldi and get some bubbly.

Links:

Rant on. 

-tgs-

Analogy For The Future (Part 1)

June 7, 2006

Part 2 is in the near future. Seriously.

Yet another instalment of Tommi’s ex-pat experience? Probably not. But this will be good enough to fill a blog post.

Subtitle to this post: A possible solution to western societies problems can be found in Germany. It’s hidden deeply in an analogy. Come along with me, try a bit of real nonsense.

Worst-writer has found what is wrong with Germany as of 2006 and this might apply to the whole of the world. Off we go to good ole’ sauerkraut country where the beer flows freely and so to do the Fräuleins.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad in all cases but, in Germany, it takes an Ausländer to figure things out. Historical examples of this include importing Austrians to produce television. This was the result of not being prepared for the inhumanly difficult task of actually producing quality entertaining TV after Germany’s rundfunk deregulation. Germans realised quickly that you can’t make TV with a bunch of pseudo-communist civil servants or a handful of bored professors and intellectuals. And it doesn’t stop there. In order to make TV funny they imported Dutch people, as well (because none of the Brits they invited would come). And then, of course, they imported Italian and run-away east-block and thrown away French women to expose their breasts in order to give TV a bit of spice. So much for the issue of being an Ausländer in Germany.

Also, to better set the mood here. Let me refer to a former statesmen who, at the time, was able to summarise Germany’s problems in relatively simple terms:

  • Bismarck: Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.
  • Wilhelm: Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.
  • Hitler: How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.

Germans haven’t found a simple way of likening their current problems with everyday, simple stuff. Just look at their tax laws. (I cant believe Wiki has an English article on the complexity of German tax laws.)

Now, I don’t want to wax myself too shinny here but I think I might have found what the Germans need. I haven’t put it into a nice little sentence worth quoting yet, but I have found it in the form of an analogy.

The Autobahn

If you’re interested in getting a feel for what it’s like on the infamous Autobahn then see my short story here. The German Autobahn is an amazing place in the cosmos of all things-worst. This is mainly because the Germans are able to build roads that are simply motherfucking good. Of course the friggin cars are ok, too, if you can friggin afford them. The only problem Germans have is, like other countries, they are a day-late and a Euro-short in actually building enough roads for all the cars they sell. But that’s not what I want to get into here.

If you drive the Autobahn on a regular basis – like I do – you might start noticing that life is a bitch not due to speed-limits or construction sites but because of the lack of understanding regarding the dynamics of modern life. And it’s the same for politics, right? Again, comparatively speaking, with their outrageous system of learning how to drive, Germans are actually quite good and I trust them when they’re on the right, left or front of the road. Hell, compared to America, where I learned to drive, I’d rather drive with the French around the Arc de Triumph.

Because of the dynamics of high speeds and cars that can go like a bat out of hell, the Germans have to eventually realise that there is more to life than left, right and front. Allow me to digress for another moment. Here some basic rules, written and unwritten, about driving in Germany. These same rules apply, relatively speaking, to running a country:

  1. Never pass on the right
  2. Use signals to change lanes
  3. Use left signal to pass – on the left only!
  4. There is a 20km/h cushion with cameras to avoid tickets
  5. Never break for wild-animals, domesticated pets or humans (if they’re on the Autobahn)
  6. Know your adversary buy understanding the engine designations which are posted on the rear of ninety-five-percent of German cars.

These rules are really cool and well thought out in a world where everything is right, left and front. But here’s the problem. What happens when right, left and front break down? Enter the fourth (dare I say) dimension of autobahn life. That’s right. Its time to start watching and proactively working with what’s coming up your ass.

A consumer driven society has become accustomed to focussing on one of three of the possible four sides of life. One of the reasons for this is that the three sides of life (left, right, front) have been sufficient up to, well, the end of the twentieth century. Theres simply been no need for the fourth.

Exit stage right. Enter globalisation stage…

Globalisation is ultimately nothing more than a backlash to the improper behaviour of the working class. (Think, if you will, for just a sec, of Plato’s tripartite.) The ruling class realised during the boom of the 90s that not only their existence was threatened but they were about to overwhelmed by group of people that were working harder than their grandparents, who whom ever they inherited from, ever did. They quickly discovered the weakness of the rising tech-nerds and countered. Enter G. W. Bush. Obviously this was easy coup de tat as the tech-nerds, confused by their sudden wealth, most of them looking like the Beverly Hillbillies with pocket protectors, didn’t invest any of their wealth in themselves but instead put all their money in the play ground of the ruling class, i.e. the stock market. And we all know what happened after that.

What does that have to do with the German Autobahn? The only way for things to work, politically and economically, is that the fourth side to life is allowed to enter the game. The ruling class knows this, btw. (And if you ask me, and no one will, there is a class that Plato forgot  but that’s for another post.)

Keep in mind, politicians are all clamouring to stop the fourth side of life. That’s because politicians (all of them) are in the hands of some corporate overlord. And so. The reason the Autobahn (metaphor for western governments?) unfortunately doesn’t work anymore is because people don’t understand that in order for traffic to flow consistently drivers must not only watch out for what is in front, to the right and left, but also what is behind and cumin up their ass. Drivers on the Autobahn must adjust, matching the dynamics of all directions. Does this idea blow anyones mind? Think about driving and not only watching the front and all sides but also the back. What a great idear, eh! To add to the flame, a driver should also be able to understand the dynamics of the rules posted above especially the last one. So. Am I advocating a class society determined by our automobiles?

Who knows? But here this: wake up sheople.

What is clear is that something has to happen so that I can drive my new Audi from Frankfurt to Düsseldorf in an hour. That would be really kraut-cool.

Rant on.

-tgs-