August 6, 2017

Shock, horror – “local or organic food is … often available only in Canada to the wealthy”

Filed under: Cancon, Germany — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Chris Selley just got back from a European vacation, where he observed some odd German activity:

Last month, on vacation, I happened across what might be the platonic ideal of a fancy urban farmers’ market. The smell of wood smoke led me to a quiet street in Berlin’s leafy Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood, where a man was smoking various kinds of fish in the middle of the road. As one does. There was a little mobile bicycle-powered coffee shop selling vastly overpriced espresso. There was the requisite improbably expensive produce and charcuterie and cheese. (My God, the cheese. Why do Canadians put up with our benighted dairy industry?) And to shock my Ontarian senses, there was a big booth selling local wines — which one could drink, out of glasses, in whatever quantities one saw fit, right there out in the open. Tipplers weren’t even confined to a secure pen. There wasn’t even a security guard!

Even more than at Toronto’s fancier farmers’ markets, it was abundantly clear this was a place for wealthy people with time to spare. And it never occurred to me that was a problem. A new study co-authored by Kelly Hodgins and Evan Fraser of the University of Guelph suggests it is, however — and a recent headline on the matter made my eyes roll so far back in my head I feared they might get stuck: “Access to ‘ethical’ food often available only to the wealthy, study says.”

“While eating local or organic food is often touted as superior from a health, environmental and oftentimes ethical perspective, such foods are often available only in Canada to the wealthy, with limited access for those living on lower or even middle incomes,” The Globe and Mail reported.

I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. Who would ever have expected that?

October 11, 2015

Compare and contrast – Berlin in 1936, and in July, 1945

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Open Culture posted these two films of Berlin, one from shortly after the Nazis came to power (the caption notes that there is footage from 1936 through 1939) and shortly after the allies took control of the German capital at the end of the war in Europe.

Here’s the “before” view:

Here’s the “after”:

I suspect I’ve posted the second video before, but I think it’s worth repeating.

July 7, 2013

America’s Ministerium für Staatssicherheit

Filed under: Europe, Government, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:36

Rick Falkvinge looks at an interesting appropriate pairing: the former German Democratic Republic’s Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Stasi) and the American NSA:

If you were to compare the evil, reprehensible Stasi to the NSA side by side in a visual comparison, who’s the worse surveillance hawk? The people over at OpenDataCity have put together a nice visual guide with astonishing results. We tend to think of Stasi-scale surveillance as the epitome of evil surveillance, and have completely lost track of what today’s governments are doing to their people.

When you go to this page (in German), you are presented with a nice map that compares the size of the Stasi archives — a large building in Berlin — with the corresponding NSA archives. It’s clear that the NSA’s archives — if used with Stasi technology, for an apples-to-apples comparison — would be quite a bit larger:

Comparison of the Stasi and NSA archives. The Stasi archives were a building in Berlin, the NSA archives seem to be more like a couple of entire blocks.

Comparison of the Stasi and NSA archives. The Stasi archives were a building in Berlin, the NSA archives seem to be more like a couple of entire blocks.

Keep reading … it’s like a “powers of ten” exercise.

January 29, 2013

Taking the fight against CCTV surveillance to the streets of Berlin

Filed under: Europe, Government, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:00

TechEye looks at the “gamification” of resistance against CCTV surveillance in Berlin:

A group of German activists has come up with an intriguing campaign to counter state surveillance — turning the destruction of CCTV cameras into a game.

Dubbed ‘Camover’, the aim of the game is simple: destroy as many CCTV cameras as possible.

Once your target is destroyed, you can upload a video of the act to YouTube for internet points and kudos. The rules say players should come up with a name starting with ‘command’, ‘brigade’, or ‘cell’, followed by the name of a historical figure, then destroying as many CCTV cameras as possible.

“Video your trail of destruction and post it on the game’s website,” the activists suggest, but warn that the homepage is continuously being shut down. It’s recommended that players conceal their identities, but this is “not essential”.

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