Leipzig Book Fair Sets New Record

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LEIPZIG- There are two ways of looking at the new record that was set at this year’s Leipzig Book Fair (Buchmesse). According to information provided by public radio station MDR, about 208,000 visitors paid homage to the convention during the weekend of 23-27 March, which takes place at the Leipzig Messe, breaking the 200,000 mark for the first time ever. About 285,000 people attended the largest in-city book events in Europe- Leipzig Liest (Leipzig is Reading), where restaurants, libraries and other public places held reading lectures by guest authors. Over 3,400 events occurred this past weekend, which is also a new record. And even the Manga convention, where tens of thousands can dress in costumes and buy products made in Japan, saw the mark of 100,000 guests get cracked by as many as 5,000. Over 2,500 booths filled all five convention halls, ranging from publishers, teacher organizations, media firms and even the antique book stores in and around Leipzig to electronic gaming companies, food vendors selling foreign goods and even costumes shops. Over all, people took advantage of both the spring-like weather and the start of Daylight Savings Time to make a pilgrimage to the Buchmesse to check out some cool items. 🙂

There are two ways to look at the record. The first one is based on the traditional way, where the stereotype of books being part of the German culture and true and more stressed than ever before. A while back, I had written about how Germans treat their books like the Bible, having shelves full in their homes and collecting even more books to read and share with others (this article can be found here.) Regardless of age or profession, everyone took their share of opportunity at the books, picking out their favorites as well as some interesting books worth taking home with, regardless of where.

As for the second way, that has more to do with the Manga convention than the book fair itself. While Lithuania was this year’s guest at the convention, and much of the literature was found in the second convention hall, the Manga convention in the first hall featured booths laden with Japanese-style comics, fashion clothing, electronic goods and even food- all coming from Japan. A lot of events dealing with this theme, including the costume contest, were also found in the hall, which explained the reason why one in ten people dressed up as Japanese comic figures. Many scenes at the Book Fair resembled scenes in such American films, such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam. It felt like being in a Hollywood studio, either at Warner Brothers or Universal. It was……simply……awesome! 😀

Together with my wife and daughter, we hit the market on Saturday, the peak day of the convention and came away with some great books. Even some books commemorating Martin Luther’s 95 theses, whose 500th anniversary celebrations are in full swing. These books will be highlighted in the later articles. In the meantime, we wanted to give you some highlights of the events at the Buchmesse, which you can click here and it will take you to the facebook version of the Files. There, you can see what you can expect from a really great book convention in Germany and plan for the one in Frankfurt (Main) in October. The 2018 Leipzig Book Fair will take place 15-18 March. In case you want some tips on how to plan ahead,….. 🙂

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  1. While the Leipzig Messe (convention center) is easily accessible by S-bahn (light rail) especially from Leipzig Central Station, some long-distance trains also provide you with direct access. When booking for the next Leipzig Buchmesse, talk to the ticket personnel at the train station regarding some deals. However, be forewarned for the trains can get crowded in the afternoon hours.
  2. Book a hotel as early as possible and plan an overnight stay. Especially in the months before the Buchmesse, hotel prices can skyrocket by as much as 500%. So instead of an overnight stay for 50 Euros a night, you could pay up to 450 Euros at the time of the book fair. Look for the best deal and ask a friend living in Leipzig to stay a night. It will help a great deal.
  3. Although family rates for the book fair are really affordable (this year’s rate was 37.50 Euros), it is highly recommended to visit the Manga first- and in the mornings. The reason: In the afternoon and early evening, it can be awfully crowded- and exhausting if there is not much air inside the convention hall.
  4. Check out the rest of Leipzig for a weekend. While the readings and lectures are good, spending time in the city as well as its parks are even better. It’s OK to buy a good book, go to Clara-Zetkin-Park and read for the rest of the afternoon, while enjoying the best in Japanese snacks. My tip for the next convention. 😉

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Remove Donald Trump as President Without Delay.

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It’s no secret that Donald Trump is touted as the most disliked President of the United States and his policies have isolated many of the country’s (even long time allies), as well as the rest of the American people. After all, the only people that are benefitting from his policies are the under-educated and the rural communities, which explains the reason behind him winning the US Elections in terms of the electoral vote despite losing by a landslide by the popular vote.

Yet given the current trend in his presidency, especially as he enters his third month in office, it’s becoming clear that his policy-making and executive orders are for his own interest instead of his own, and that more and more opposition is accruing at an alarming rate. With scandals and investigations looming and many people afraid of their lives and their futures, it is high time that measures are taken to remove him from office without delay and call for re-elections, finding a real candidate that is able to address the problems affecting the country and the rest of the world. Among other things include health care, infrastructure and the environment/ climate change.

This flyer has been circulating throughout the social network that calls for that, plus shooting down pleas of people to give Trump a chance for that particular reason. Read the post, and if you agree, sign it in the comment section, and spread the word through other social networks, including (and especially) twitter, so that the President knows that he is not welcomed in Washington, DC and he’s better off taking his business elsewhere. Whether it is on his own will or by legal force, Donald J. Trump must go and we deserve a chance for a President who can tackle the real issues:

This is where I stand. The 45th President, his power hungry cronies taking positions of authority in his Cabinet and administration, and the majority of Republicans in Congress are a real and active threat to me, my way of life, and all or most of the people I love.
Some people are saying that we should give Trump a chance, that we should “work together” with him because he won the election and he is “everyone’s president.”
This is my response:
•I will not forget how badly he and so many others treated former President Barack Obama for 8 years…Lies about his legitimacy and hatred for his principles and his attempts to work within the system.
•I will not support the degradation of women.
•I will not “work together” to privatize Medicare, cut Social Security and Medicaid.
•I will not “work together” to build a wall.
•I will not “work together” to persecute Muslims.
•I will not “work together” to shut out refugees from other countries.
•I will not “work together” to lower taxes on the 1% and increase taxes on the middle class and poor.
•I will not “work together” to help Trump use the Presidency to line his pockets and those of his family and cronies.
•I will not “work together” to weaken and demolish environmental protection.
•I will not “work together” to sell American lands, especially National Parks, to companies which then despoil those lands.
•I will not “work together” to enable the killing of whole species of animals just because they are predators, or inconvenient for a few, or because some people want to get their thrills killing them.
•I will not “work together” to remove civil rights from anyone.
•I will not “work together” to alienate countries that have been our allies for as long as I have been alive.
•I will not “work together” to slash funding for education.
•I will not “work together” to take basic assistance from people who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
•I will not “work together” to get rid of common sense regulations on guns.
•I will not “work together” to eliminate the minimum wage.
•I will not “work together” to support so-called “Right To Work” laws, or undermine, weaken or destroy Unions in any way.
•I will not “work together” to suppress scientific research, be it on climate change, fracking, or any other issue where a majority of scientists agree that Trump and his supporters are wrong on the facts.
•I will not “work together” to criminalize abortion or restrict health care for women.
•I will not “work together” to increase the number of nations that have nuclear weapons.
•I will not “work together” to put even more “big money” into politics.
•I will not “work together” to violate the Geneva Convention.
•I will not “work together” to give the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party and white supremacists a seat at the table, or to normalize their hatred.
•I will not “work together” to deny health care to people who need it.
•I will not “work together” to deny medical coverage to people on the basis of a “pre-existing condition.”
•I will not “work together” to increase voter suppression.
•I will not “work together” to normalize tyranny.
I will not “work together” to eliminate or reduce ethical oversight at any level of government.
•I will not “work together” with anyone who is, or admires, tyrants and dictators.
•I will not support anyone that thinks it’s OK to put a pipeline to transport oil on Sacred Ground for Native Americans. And, it would run under the Missouri River, which provides drinking water for millions of people. An accident waiting to happen.
I will not “work together” to legitimize racism, sexism, and authoritarianism.
This is my line, and I am drawing it.
•I WILL stand for honesty, love, respect for all living beings, and for the beating heart that is the center of Life itself.
•I WILL use my voice and my hands, to reach out to the uninformed, and to anyone who will LISTEN:
That “winning”, “being great again”, “rich” or even “beautiful” is nothing… When others are sacrificed to glorify its existence.

Sign your name in the comment section and where you are locate and share with others, so that they get the word. Use all weapons available to make it happen.

Thank you! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interesting Facts About Germany: Books and the Ten Commandments

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Here is an interesting story to share with you to start off this article: At an elementary school in Bad Oldesloe (between Luebeck and Hamburg), a group of pupils during an after-school class (Schulhort) saw an elementary school clearing the bookshelves of old, used school books, to make way for newer materials to be used in the classroom. Instead of putting the old books into boxes to be given away to the needy, the teacher instead discards the books into the garbage can- right in front of other pupils. An average of 30-35 pupils attend the Schulhort to do homework, activities and other things while waiting for their parents to collect them- a concept that is non-existent in the US and other countries, where classes run from 8:00am to 3:00pm- ending two hours later than in Germany.

Fortunately that group that saw the incident fished out 10 of the books and divided them up among themselves to take home with them. And while a complaint against that teacher has been sent to the headmaster of that school, little is known what action will be taken there, if at all.  But this incident conveyed the message to the pupils, whose parents and other educators would object forcefully:

 

 It is OK to throw books away because they are waste. It is OK to kill more trees because we don’t need them. It is OK to pervert the environment more than it is already.  And it is OK to waste the minds of the next generation because they are indeed cogs of the elite that believe the Earth is dead already- why not make it even deader?

 

I bet Betsy DeVos (America’s newly elected Educational Minister) is reading this right now and is about to kiss me for those comments, while also inviting me to dinner with Josef Stalin and all the evangelical Jesus-freaks, including Paul Ryan and Steve Bannon. 😉

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Ana Beatriz Ribeiro introducing the new open library at the Poniatowski Restaurant in Leipzig during last year’s Intercultural Blogger Conference. Ana is the founder and columnist of the Leipzig Glocal

 

But away with the sarcasm, the discarding of books in general would make a German cringe, for if there is one sin that is unforgivable, it is reading the book and then desecrating it. Germany prides itself on books, for one in three German households have an average of 1,200 books in their libraries! And while people may think only one in ten have a library or can find books in each room of the apartment or house, don’t be fooled when you check in the forbidden areas, where you can find boxes and shelves of books in the cellar, garage, some attics and underneath beds in the bedroom. I even saw a library of books in a neighbor’s basement! No matter where you go in the neighborhood of a German community, books are everywhere. This is why we have these key facts to consider:

 

  1. A community has an average of two libraries; in a university city- six counting a university library. For larger cities with more than two universities, don’t be surprised if university libraries are divided up ad customized, based on subject of studies and spread out throughout the city, justifying the need to bike from one end to the other.

 

  1. Each suburb of a city with 70,000 people or more has its own library full of new and used books, and these libraries have as full of capacity as the normal central libraries as well as the university ones.

 

  1. Germany prides in having book stores. You will find an average of one book store franchise and one private, family owned one in a city of 50,000 or more. And both are well-visited.

 

  1. Germany is the only known country to have an open library. On trains, in the park and in city centers, one can see a glass case with books for you to take. However, it comes at a cost of giving away one of your own. You can also borrow, read and put back if you wish. The open library displayed by Ana Beatriz Ribeiro at the 2016 Intercultural Blogger Conference at the Poniatowski Restaurant in Leipzig is another example, but it is one of the firsts in the country to have this in an eatery.

 

  1. Most importantly, Germany prides itself in hosting two international book fairs: One in Leipzig in March and another in October in Frankfurt/Main. Both taking place at conference centers (Messe), as many as a million visitors converge on these fairs to read and even purchase books from writers and publishers from as many as 90 countries on average, including one theme country.

 

To summarize, Germans treat books as Americans treat the Bible- they see these as sacred gifts never to be desecrated, period. Therefore when a person is lent a book and returns it in the form deemed different than what it was before- creases in the pages and covers, plus coffee spills (even if unintentional), that person can expect to be blocked on facebook and spammed in the GMX accounts. Ruining a book can ruin a friendship. When a person throws away books deemed useless, you can expect book lovers rummaging through the paper garbage containers at night, fishing them out to save them. Believe me, I’ve done this myself as my wife and I are bookworms ourselves.  And what is wrong with selling a book at a flea market (Trödelmarkt) for a buck? (One Euro) A loss in profits is a given, but at least the next person can share in the experience in reading the book as much as you did before selling it. 🙂

 

As a writer and teacher myself, if there is a Ten Commandments as far as books are concerned, there would be the following:

 

  1. Thou shall treat the book like the Bible. Handle it like it’s the most valuable gift in the house.
  2. Thou shall not desecrate the book in any form. Karma will kick the offender in the Gluteus Maximus for any petty misdemeanor with this.
  3. Thou shall treat the book like a gift. Books are great gifts at any occasion and no person can deny this.
  4. Thou shall not discard books for any reason. Even if a person dies, his books are also your valuables.
  5. Thou shall donate unwanted books. Libraries and second-hand shops are always forthcoming in taking on books for their collection.
  6. Thou shall ask before lending out books. When living in a flat with your partner, if you have a book to lend to a colleague, consult first before carrying it out.
  7. Thou shall treat a borrowed book like the Bible. It is a sin to read the book and return it altered.
  8. Thou shall visit one international book fair in thou’s lifetime. You’re not a true German if haven’t spent a whole day at a Buchmesse- better, two: one in Frankfurt and one in Leipzig. Both are experiences of a lifetime.
  9. Thou shall cherish the memories from reading a book. Books are brain food, providing some memorable experiences when reading it and some topics for discussion.
  10. Thou shall set examples for others when treating the book. Remember, one tree produces 5 books. One book produces memorable experiences similar to a vacation. That means paper can be recycled but not the book itself.

 

With a lot of writing greats coming from Germany, one should try and write a book to keep up with tradition. Not a column like this one, but a classic 200-page novel dealing with mysteries, travels, social and medical themes, business and history- the things Germans love to read. 70% of Germans prefer print media over e-media. That trend is bound to stay the same in the coming years. The smell of paper from the press is impossible to refuse, and e-books to many is just a piece of plastic that hurts the eyes. Germans have a very close and erotical relationship with books and the paper product with pages needs to be taken very seriously.

After all, as one person in a forum about Germany and books stated: Having a library full o books does not justify NOT buying more books. So if you see that in a German household next time, imagine a library full of Bibles, Quorans and Testaments, treat them with care and understand why books are to be kept as collectibles and not desecrated.

Thank you! 🙂

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Disclaimer: The location and name of the school where the incident took place was changed to protect the identity of those involved. 

Alexandra Back in Service

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The Alexandra at the Dock Schiffsbrücke in Flensburg

109-year old passenger steam ship back in Flensburg Harbor after “Heart Transplant” in Husum.

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FLENSBURG/ HUSUM- It has been four months, since Flensburg’s iconic ship, “the Alexandra” disappeared from the dock area Schiffsbrücke, located near the Rum and Ship Museum (Schiffahrtmuseum). The 109-year old steamship, built in 1908 by Janssen & Schmilinsky, is the last saloon ship of its kind that is operated on steam, had been at the docks of Husum, undergoing one of the most complicated operations in its own history.

That operation was the replacement of the boiler!

Crews at the Husum Dock and Repair Corporation had to cut open the 37 meter long ship, removing parts of the upper deck and its signature smokestack to remove the boiler that had been in the ship’s hull since the ship was built. The boiler, which used wood and coal to heat the water and at between 180 and 200°C, was considered functionally obsolete and was therefore swapped in place of the newest boiler, which has the same function as its predecessor, but dependent mostly on wood. The total cost for the replacement was 780,000 Euros (appr. $810,000)  A film demonstrating how the new boiler works, courtesy of SHZ.de, is below to show the readers.

Although the replacement took place in November, rebuilding the ship to its original form, combined with technical inspections and pursuing permission to operate the ship and return it back to Flensburg delayed its debut until today.

After a two-day journey, totalling over 400 kilometers, the Alex was greeted by thousands of visitors and fans today as it arrived at its original home for the first time after a four month absence.

The replacement of the boiler was one of seven successful restoration projects on the Alex since 1975. In 2015, new steel was added to the ship’s hull, replacing original parts that had corroded and put the ship at risk of being decommissioned. With the ship back in Flensburg, the next steps are to prepare it for its seasonal use beginning the weekend of Ascension Day in May. By then, the ship will welcome visitors, locals and fans as it tours the Flensburg Fjorde, while the ship’s captain, Guenther Hermann, talks about the ship’s history, together with the city’s history.

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  1. The ship was named after the Princess of Schleswig-Holstein/Sondernburg/Glücksburg  Alexandra Victoria (1887-1957), whose royal family had resided in Glücksburg Castle until 1918.
  2. The ship runs at a horsepower of 420 PS and travel at a maximum of 12 knots (22 km/h)
  3. The ship was the ambassador for the sailing competition at the 1936 and 1972 Olympics. Kiel was used as the venue for both, even though the remaining competition was in Berlin and Munich, respectively.
  4. The ship was used extensively for scuba crew and as a torpedo interceptor during World War II. It was also a rescue ship.
  5. The ship provides passenger service between Flensburg and Glücksburg, as well as tours around the Fjorde.
  6. Since 1982, the Alexandra has been listed in the Denkmalschutz Buch, the German equivalent to the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. Since the 1990s, it is the last passenger steamship of its kind in operation in Germany.

 

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JC Insurance Now Offers Insurance Coverage

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LUTHERSTADT-EISLEBEN, GERMANY:  Indulgence, the one way ticket to Heaven without having to do hard labor at the Purgatory. According to Catholic tradition, when a person passes on, he/she is taken to the Purgatory where the determination of his destination is dependent on the number and degree of sins the person committed during his/her life time. The purgatory is like doing hard labor, the person works off the guilt before taking the next step to heaven. To avoid that, at least according to Catholic history and later stressed and criticized by Martin Luther in his 95 Theses in 1517, people can buy indulgences, cleansing him of their sins and guaranteeing direct passage to dine with God and talk to Jesus in person.

Although indulgences had long since been eliminated by the Catholic Church by the 1600s after Luther reformed the Church and eventually branched off to form his own, they are making a come back in Germany. 🙂  Recently, JC Insurance has started offering indulgence insurance to church-goers wishing for direct passage to heaven, while at the same time, wanting protection from potential sins in the future. It’s a rather unusual concept, but one that required some research into finding out how it works.

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Thanks to a tip by a local Jehovah Witness chapter in Leipzig, I interviewed Jeremy Christian, the JC Insurance agent based in Lutherstadt-Eisleben. Located 30 miles west of Halle (Saale) in Saxony-Anhalt, Eisleben is both the birthplace of Martin Luther as well as the place where he perished. Why he has an insurance agency in the heart of the Protestant Church, the place where Luther started the religious cult is a mystery, especially, as Catholicism can be found in Bavaria, however, his concept was rather interesting to know about.

Because of the length of the interview, I’ve decided to provide you with a link, taking you to the page where you can read it in full. Please click on the picture below, and you’ll be directed to the wordpress version of the Files. Then you can see if opening an insurance selling indulgence is right for you. Keep in mind that the picture has an important meaning as you read about indulgence coverage in full.

Therefore, click on it and enjoy! 😉

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