Primary Sludge: "close fiction" from German utopian writer Sina Kamala Kaufmann

[Last spring, I ran into Nikola Richter at the Republica Festival in Berlin; she told me about Sina Kamala Kaufmann, a celebrated German climate activist and sf writer whose debut short story collection, Bright Matter, had been published by Richter's independent publisher Mikrotext to great critical and public success. I offered to run one of Kaufmann's stories here in English as a way of exposing her work to a new audience. -Cory] Read the rest

The Youtubers' union just wants Google to give them the rulebook

Google has blinked in the ongoing attempt to organize Youtube creators in a new organization called Fairtube, under the umbrella of the powerful German trade union IG Metall. Read the rest

German bank robber staged a 5-day fillibuster with his legally guaranteed right to a post-sentencing "final word"

German law allows convicted criminals to deliver a "final word" ("Schlusswort") in court after their sentencing; this right is typically waived or used to deliver a few words of apology and remorse, but when a Hamburg court sentenced 71-year-old bank robber Michael Jauernik to 12 years in jail, he used his "final word" to speak for five solid days. Read the rest

Drunk Oktoberfest e-scooter mayhem causes hundreds to lose driving licenses

Police in Germany say driving licenses have been suspended for hundreds of people who used electric scooters while drunk at the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich. Read the rest

German motorist douses Autobahn car fire with beer

Because of course he did.

After unsuccessful legislative reform, German radicals defy the law to dumpster-dive at grocery stores

I've always been fascinated with dumpster diving: my first feature sale to Wired (21 years ago!) told the tale of Darren Atkinson, the most successful high-tech diver I know. Read the rest

Drive-in sex booths may be installed at Berlin's former airport

In 2008, Berlin's historic Tempelhof airport was converted into a public park. Now, Stephan von Dassel, mayor of the city's central Mitte district, is proposing the installation of drive-in sex booths where sex workers can service clients in their vehicles. Resembling rows of car ports, they are called verrichtungsboxen and can be found in Bonn (above), Utrecht, Amsterdam, and other European cities. From CNN:

Stephan von Dassel, the mayor who represents the Green party, is attempting to combat prostitution on Kurfürstenstrasse, an upmarket street in Mitte with a history of sex workers.

"Residents and businesses have been calling for a ban on street prostitution for many years," he wrote in a statement. Yet he notes that the Berlin Senate has refused to implement regulatory restrictions "because it fears a deterioration of the overall situation."

He is now proposing a restriction on street prostitution in the district, instead offering sex workers booths in controlled areas in a bid, he says, to improve the lives of "residents and sex workers" alike...

Dassel argues that the current situation for the sex workers on Kurfürstenstrasse is "inhumane," and by refusing to act, the state of Berlin is tolerating "forced prostitution, violence against women and drug addiction."

image: "Verrichtungsboxen" in Bonn, Germany (Leonce49, CC BY 3.0) Read the rest

1,000 musicians gather to play Rage Against the Machine hit

"Killing in the Name" has never been played quite like this! Thanks to Rockin'1000, a thousand musicians from around the globe gathered at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt, Germany to play Rage Against the Machine's 1991 hit song together. In some ways, it's a hot, loud mess. In others, it's a beautiful, beautiful thing. Judge for yourself (or not, you don't have to do what I tell you).

Rockin'1000 previously on Boing Boing Read the rest

Eastern Blocks: photographs of the brutalist towers of the former USSR

Zupagrafika's new book Eastern Blocks (subtitle: "Concrete Landscapes of the Former Eastern Bloc") collects more than 100 beautiful photos of the brutalist towers of ex-Soviet nations, "‘Sleeping districts’ of Moscow, Plattenbauten of East Berlin, modernist estates of Warsaw, Kyiv`s Brezhnevki." Read the rest

Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union is organizing Youtubers to force Google to play fair

As Google has enacted a series of high-handed, opaque changes to how Youtube monetizes, upranks and censors videos, Youtubers have found themselves battered by the changes: they built Youtube into a global multi-billion-dollar success story, but they don't get a say in how it's managed. Now, a group of Youtubers have teamed up with Germany's powerful IG Metall trade union to fight back, using Europe's broad privacy laws and Germany's broad labor laws to force the company to come to the negotiating table and give them a say in how the service is run. You can read more about it on the Fairtube campaign site. Read the rest

Germany says nein danke to Microsoft

Microsoft has a history of attempting to give Microsoft das boot (yes, I know boots in German is stiefel, but work with me here...) Read the rest

After Microsoft moves its servers back to the USA, German state's privacy commissioner advises schools not to use Office 365

After the Snowden revelations, US-based Big Tech companies raced to reassure their non-US customers that the NSA wasn't raiding their cloud-based data, moving servers inside their customers' borders and (theoretically) out of reach of the NSA; then came the Cloud Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act), in which the US government claimed the right to seize data held on overseas servers and the companies began consolidating their servers back in the USA. Read the rest

"It's easy to play the Nazi card"

This video from Bohemian Browser Ballett on Germany's public broadcaster Funk is absolutely genius: a comic dialogue between a literal uniformed Nazi officer outraged that someone had the temerity to call him a Nazi: "Just because someone doesn't share mainstream opinion it doesn't mean he's a Nazi. Maybe I'm a concerned citizen who is afraid of foreign domination!" (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Coffee cups made from coffee grounds

Back in 2011, I bought a new countertop made from "Curface," a composite material made from a mix of melted down used coffee cups and coffee grounds; we still have it and it's wearing beautifully -- you can treat it like solid wood, sanding off imperfections and oiling it back up to a shine; or you can treat it like a polymer and treat it with waxes like Turtle Wax for a durable finish. Read the rest

Dieselgate 2.0: 42,000 Mercedes diesels recalled for "illegal software"

Germany's auto regulator has ordered Daimler to recall 42,000 Mercedes diesels because the company installed illegal software in their engines that gimmicked the engine's thermostat, which would allow the manufacturer to selectively tune its cars' emissions. Read the rest

Berlin Senate approves five-year, citywide rent freeze

The Senate of Berlin has approved a five-year, citywide rent freeze in a bid to halt the city's skyrocketing rents, driven by increased demand that has attracted large-scale corporate landlords who have acquired swathes of properties and raised rents on them, pricing tenants out of their own neighborhoods. Next, the bill proceeds to the Berlin Parliament for approval; it is expected to pass, and will go in effect in January, and apply retroactively to June (heading off any last-minute rent-hikes ahead of the freeze). Read the rest

After viral Youtube denunciations, Germany's establishment parties falter -- so the ruling party's leader faxed her colleagues demanding action

Ahead of this week's EU elections, the popular German Youtuber Rezo published a 55-minute video explaining the missteps of the ruling CDU party and other establishment parties in addressing climate change, inequality, rising militarism, and internet freedom (notably, the German support for the wildly unpopular Copyright Directive), a statement he backed up with hundreds of references. Read the rest

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