Germany

Get your German interior minister's fingerprint here

A fundamental flaw with biometric ID cards has been demonstrated in a very high profile way.

In the most recent issue of Die Datenschleuder, the Chaos Computer Club printed the image [of the fingerprint of Wolfgang Schauble, Germany's interior minister] on a plastic foil that leaves fingerprints when it is pressed against biometric readers. (my emphasis)

"The whole research has always been inspired by showing how insecure biometrics are, especially a biometric that you leave all over the place," said Karsten Nohl, a colleague of an amateur researcher going by the moniker Starbug, who engineered the hack. "It's basically like leaving the password to your computer everywhere you go without you being able to control it anymore."

Schauble's fingerprint was captured off a water glass he used last summer while participating in a discussion celebrating the opening of a religious studies department at the University of Humboldt in Berlin. The print came from an index finger, most likely the right one, Starbug believes, because Schauble is right-handed.

Whoops.

NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state

Visited Countries

I've updated my visted countries maps, and they look like this (with Germany and Austria being only fleeting):

County map
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?

made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.

On the UK map, much is to be taken with a pinch of salt, it's very easy to go between UK counties! I've only been to Scotland once, and that was fleeting. I've been to most counties in Wales (if not all), but am making best guess, and I really can't recall the southwest of Wales, the rest is on a 'best guess' basis. The nearer to London, the more sure I can be of the counties actually visited. I tried to tick only for actually setting for in the counties, rather than setting wheel - so I can't be sure of Rutland, and can't recall going to Norfolk at all (though I think I was taken to the Broads once, I have no memory of it).

EU map
create your personalized map of europe

US map
create your own visited states map

World Map
create your own visited countries map

Germany vs. Argentina?

For the English supporter, this is a tough call... who do we want to win? Whenever I've asked someone today who they'd prefer to win, the answer has been 'neither'!

We have a history with both (both on and off the field), so we can't just look at that. I think I'd prefer Germany to win, as assuming that England get through (not a safe bet in my opinion), a final against Germany would be preferable to one against Argentina. This is because Argentina have looked the stronger team, and playing Germany at home (and hopefully beating them) would be sweet.

Admittedly, there's another match before the final, so it's possible both could get knocked out.

... and there are still two major obstacles before England has a chance at seeing the final. If we survive Portugal, the last obstacle is Brazil - although admittedly they're no longer as formidable as they once were, they're still fairly scary.

The laws of narrative suggest that an England/Germany final in Germany would be a good end to this world cup. 40 year of hurt and all that. Does the real world run on narrative?

Reply from the German Ambassador

I've received a reply from the ambassador...

... actually, from his assistant.

Thank you very much for your letter of 30th January 2005 addressed to the German Ambassador, Thomas Matussek, who has asked me to reply to you on his behalf

The allegation that in Germany unemployed women can now be forced into prostitution is, of course, absurd. The article you refer to has clearly distorted or confused the fact that prostitution has been legalised and is therefore now part of the official labour market.

However, the job agencies do not advertise or publicise job offers in this sector. Only persons out of work who specifically inquire about such job offers would be informed accordingly.

In any event, no one can be forced to accept such job offers, as any unemployed person still has the right to decline any job for moral reasons.

The new situation merely means that prostitutes are given more rights and are more protected socially than they used to be.

We hope that we have been able to resolve any misunderstandings deriving from this article.

Yours sincerely

Albert Luig

This all derived from this post and this article.

I have sent the following reply:

Sehr geehrter Herr Luig

I am writing to thank you for your response to my letter of 30th January. I had my suspicions about the article; however the consequences of it being correct were unthinkable, hence the letter. I am sure that you appreciate the natural concern expressed.

I am pleased to hear that the concerns were unfounded. Especially as it is possible to see many benefits to the German policy, not least of which being an improvement in healthcare.

I trust that you have clarified the situation with the newspaper concerned.

Hochachtungsvoll,

The story was updated to 'False' from 'Undetermined' on the Urban Legends page yesterday.

Letter to the German Ambassador

Following this post, I've drafted the following to the German Ambassador in London. I will send an email copy to the Today Programme (BBC Radio 4). I'm not the only one who has spotted this.

I've modified the letter slightly since first putting this on the site. This is the final version.

Herr T. Matussek
c/o Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
Side Entrance
23 Belgrave Square
London
SW1X 8PZ

Sehr geehrter Herr Matussek

I was surprised to read in The Telegraph, that a woman in Berlin faces loss of benefit as she refuses to work as a prostitute in a brothel.

URL referenced

I understand the rationale behind the legalisation of brothels, for example improved healthcare and working conditions, yet I cannot believe that the German legislature believed that it would be "too difficult to distinguish them from bars".

Given that the businesses are legal in Germany, there is nothing at all wrong with the business advertising for employees. Nevertheless there is absolutely everything wrong with the state pushing people into this profession against their own moral code. Such action reduces the state to the position of "pimp" or worse.

I look forward to hearing your opinion on this matter, and I hope that you will pass this message on to the relevant authority in Berlin.

Hochachtungsvoll,

Update: The reply has been received.

Berlin Wall

It was 15 years ago today that the Berlin Wall fell. For months, the eastern block countries had eased travel restrictions, and hungary was taking in many east german refugees. On the 4th November, 1989, a pro democracy rally forced the resignation of the East German government. On the 9th thousands turned up at the Berlin Wall demanding to be allowed to pass. The border guards stood back as people flooded through, and people began to pull the wall down in celebration.

In less than a year, Germany was reunited.

I well remember these momentous events. At the time I had just started my A Levels, and amongst ourselves there was uncertainty about what would happen - we had a fear that the troops would start shooting, only ever having known the 'Iron Curtain'. Fortunately we were wrong, and it's one of my regrets that I didn't just jump on a plane and get myself over there. I was probably too young though, 16 going on 17.

War: A quote from Goering

A quote from (of all people) Herman Goering: Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.