Thursday, March 30, 2017

The moniker Iraqgate

The United States supported Iraq and dictator Saddam Hussein (officially the fifth President of Iraq) during the war against post-revolutionary Iran. The dubious support that involved the US government, US companies, middle-men, Italian and American banks and various other “players” eventually got the label Iraqgate. This moniker refers back to another political scandal that occurred over a decade earlier during the Nixon presidency. Both Watergate and Iraqgate encompass a complicated web of schemes, tricks, cover-ups and questionable activities—incompatible with a mandate of legal and transparent policy.   

Journalist Sally Denton investigated the history and development of the US-based Bechtel enterprise and its intersection with US foreign interests. In The Profiteers Denton summarizes Iraqgate—the scandal that sensitive Iraqi projects, including the Bechtel-led construction of a plant capable of manufacturing chemical weapons, were financed by US taxpayers—as follows:

Iraqgate left behind a trail of murky US government-backed financing through Italian and American banks, dummy corporations, criminal allegations, and an international cast of conspirators. Before it was over, a full-scale congressional investigation would expose the presidential administrations of both Reagan and his successor, George H. W. Bush, for their double-dealing policy of collaborating with foreign arms merchants in arming the loathsome Saddam while condemning such efforts publicly. The probe would find that BNL [Rome-based Banca Nationale del Lavoro] had funneled billions of dollars, some in US credits, to build Saddam's formidable arsenal. Called “the mother of all all foreign policy blunders” by Texas congressman Henry Gozales, in Iraqgate, US taxpayer turned a “run-of-the-mill dictator” into a Frankenstein monster. The BNL shell game was a case study of how the “executive branch, working with private business” ran an off-the-books foreign policy, according to one study that described it as a “deal with the devil.”

Keywords: investigative journalism, conspiracy, sale of dual-use technology, influence peddling, illegal activity.

Sally Denton: The Profiteers. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2016; pages 198-199.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What is Content Syndication?

Content syndication is the transfer of content from one site of publication to another. Typically, the term “content syndication” refers to the process in which blog, website or video content is pushed from one site to another, with the goal of getting exposure to new audiences [1-3].

Examples: I recently transferred some of my posts to Niume, a rapidly growing collaborative platform helping bloggers to share and promote content by interest theme [4]. The “transfer” may simply require to copy text. Often, however, you want to make minor changes and adjustments; especially if your original post contains hyperlinks and pictures. For example, I metamorphosed my Blogspot post “Lassen Peak Trail: from the Lassen Park Road to Lassen Peak Summit” into the Niume post “When is the best time to hike the Lassen Peak Trail?” and the post “The land of burnt-out fires” into “Getting started with Lava Beds caves.” The latter got an immediate and relevant Niume community response from Australia (suggesting a visit of Queensland's Undara lava tubes), while the Blogspot precursor never received any such comment.

Benefits of content syndication

Besides the possibility of generating more likes, comments, other feedback and also more revenue for your efforts creating content, syndication multiplies your content and thus archives your content within different services or organizations. Consider content syndication as a back-up of your content. But don't completely rely on it. Make sure, you have a personal cache for your content. Build your own content syndicate!

References and more to learn

[1] Search Engine Watch: What is content syndication and how do I get started?[].
[2] Scribble: The Do's and Don'ts of Content Syndication [].
[3] Hubspot: How to Syndicate Content Without Getting Dinged in Search [].
[4] Realwire: Introducing Niume: The Social World Of Shared Interests [].

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What kind of articles can you find in Crelle's Journal?

Crelle's Journal, or Crelle for short, has published notable papers in mathematics. The journal was founded in 1826 in Berlin by the German road and railway engineer August Leopold Crelle (1780-1855, or 1856?), who was eager to promote mathematics in Germany [1]. Crelle became the Journal für reine und angewandte Mathematik (Journal for Pure and Applied Mathematics). It is still published today and “insiders” keep referring to the journal using the informal titles Crelle or Crelle's Journal.

Crelle advanced to a leading mathematical publication in Germany and worldwide. Articles are in German, English or French. The success derives not only from the journal's visionary founder and editor, but from the early, pioneering contributors including the Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) and the Swiss geometer Jacob Steiner (1796-1863).

The Scottish-born mathematician and science fiction writer Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960) summarizes the Abel-Crelle-Crelle relationship as follows: “If Crelle helped to make Abel's reputation, Abel more than paid for the help by making Crelle's.”

In a letter that Abel sent from Berlin home to his tutor and friend Holmboe in Christiana (now Oslo), he mentions the “fantastic help and support Crelle provided” [2]. Abel got access to Crelle's scientific and social circles in Berlin. Today, Abel is best known for his work proving that no general algebraic solution exists for the roots of a quintic equation. He published his original mathematical research in Crelle, initiating his own and the journal's fame. In the detailed account on Abel and his Times, Arild Stubhaug (born 1948) writes [3]:

Abel wrote six brilliant papers that were published in the first issues [of Crelle's Journal] that came out in 1826, the first appearing in February of that year. It was also widely acknowledged that due to Abel's contributions, the journal rapidly achieved renown. Most of Abel's work were published in Crelle's Journal, and if it had not been for this publication, it would not be easy to see how Abel could have gained inspiration for his further work.

[1] August Leopold Crelle (for example, see,,%20August%20Leopold.pdf and the following reference).
[2] Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1937; p. 315.
[3] Arild Stubhaug (translated from the Norwegian by Richard H. Daly): Niels Henrik Abel and his Times. Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, 2000; pp. 331.

Friday, December 30, 2016

How do you say “Happy New Year” in German?

Germans like to be “froh” or “fröhlich,” as testified by the Christmas greetings “Frohe Weihnachten!” and “Fröhliche Weihnachten!” (see How do you say Merry Christmas in German?). In Germany, folks wish each other “a happy new year”—“ein frohes neues Jahr!”, typically using the indefinite article at the phrase beginning. 

Ein fröhliches neues Jahr!” is grammatically correct, but considered too long and rarely used. Also common are “ein gutes neues Jahr!” and “ein schönes neues Jahr!” meaning “a good new year!” and “a pleasant new year!”, respectively.

Of course, you can get creative by using other adjectives. For example, “ein gesundes neues Jahr!” for “a healthy new year!”; “ein erfolgreiches neues Jahr!” for “a successful new year!” or  “ein friedliches neues Jahr!” for “a peaceful new year!”    

And then there is the greeting “Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!”, or shorter: “Guten Rutsch!” It is somewhat of a mystery, how this phrase derived.  The noun “Rutsch” means slide or glide. So, you may take this phrase literally as “slide well into the new year.” Considering that New Year's Eve often comes with snow-and-ice weather conditions, this greeting can evoke a dark-humor connotation. However, an older meaning of  “Rutsch” is travel. In this regard, the phrase “Guten Rutsch!” casually wishes a good journey into (and through) the next year.

German-English Vocabulary to derive German “New Year” greetings/wishes

ein: a
erfolgreich: successful
friedlich: peaceful
froh: happy or merry
gesund: healthy 
gut: good 
Jahr: year
neu: new
schön: pleasant

Friday, December 23, 2016

How do you find mulled wine on a German Christmas market?

A “Glühwein” bar on Bremen's Christmas market
If you don't find it by its smell, you want to look for the word “Glühwein.” This masculine noun is composed of the stem “Glüh” and the noun “Wein.”  “Glüh” is derived from the verb “glühen,” meaning “to glow.” And you already figured that “Wein” means “wine.” The hot alcoholic drink has a glow to it (depending on how you are looking at it)—and you will glow after drinking one or two cups or mugs.

A typical “Glühwein” recipe asks for red wine (white wine is possible too), water, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, and orange slices. I prefer honey instead of plain sugar. Although I never tried it, I think maple syrup would be another flavorful alternative. To further spice up the drink, a piece of ginger may be added.  “Glühwein” is not an instant drink. “Glühwein” requires  time to both be prepared and be enjoyed. 

Looking for something sweeter and stronger than “Glühwein?” Try a mug of  “Feuerzangenbowle” —the more sugary and rum-enhanced version of mulled wine.

A “Glühwein”mug to drink mulled wine

Thursday, December 22, 2016

How do you translate “Beeswax” into German?

Beeswax candles
Beeswax candles at Christmas market in Bremen, Germany
The English compositum “beeswax” is one of those words that can be translated by simple concatenation of the translated nouns from which it is built. The German word for “bees” is ”Bienen,” the plural form of the feminine noun ”Biene.” The German word for “wax” is the etymologically related noun ”Wachs.” Stringing ”Bienen” and ”Wachs” together, we get ”Bienenwachs.”

The top picture shows candles made of beeswax for sale at the Christmas market in downtown Bremen, Germany. A sign promises that the candles are made of 100% pure beeswax. If you want to buy a beeswax candle, you would ask for a ”Bienenwachskerze.” The feminine German noun ”Kerze” means candle. The plural form of  ”Bienenwachskerze” is ”Bienenwachskerzen.”

Shopping for beeswax candles
Shopping for beeswax candles at a market hut on Bremen's Christmas market

Friday, December 2, 2016

How do you say “Merry Christmas” in German?

Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings
Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings at Christmas market in downtown Bremen: “Frohe Weihnachten” und “Frohes Fest

  • English: “Merry Christmas”
  • German: “Frohe Weihnachten or “Fröhliche Weihnachten 

Merry Christmas” means “Frohe Weihnachten” (pronounced: froo-he vi-nach-tenn) in German. Note that the first “h” in “Weihnachten” is not pronounced.  The dipthong “ch” is glutteral. The longer greeting “Fröhliche Weihnachten” is used synonymously for “Frohe Weihnachten.”

The shorter version “Frohe Weihnachten”often is the preferred form in writing—such as the sugar-ink writing on gingerbread hearts, one of which is shown in the picture above. The blue-rimmed heart in the background says: “Frohes Fest.” In this context, “Fest” means “holiday” with the undertone of “celebration.”

If you are going to wish someone “Merry Christmas” in German or want to finish your letter, postcard or e-mail with a seasonal greeting, you also could include the word  “Tag” (meaning “day”) or “Zeit” (meaning “time”) in  your greeting phrase. “Ich wünsche Ihnen frohe Weihnachtstage!” means “I wish you merry Christmas Days!” Yes, there are two official Christmas holidays in Germany (December 25 and December 26). “Ich wünsche Ihnen und Ihrer Familie eine frohe Weihnachtszeit!” means “I wish you and your family a merry Christmas time!

Keywords: Christmas greeting; translation; Übersetzen; English-German; Englisch-Deutsch.