American Views Abroad

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Taking time off for complex spine surgery on Monday in Hamburg's largest and newest hospital in Eppendorf means little to no posting in the coming month. One aspect of being confined to the house for months on end, unable to simply go out for a walk or anywhere on your own is how much your personality changes. You get to notice a side to yourself that isn't necessarily a nice one. You become angry and bored. You find there is so much time on your hands but little energy to be creative. All those books lined up to be read? It's difficult getting involved in then plight of others. Politics since the election has taken a back seat. You have to give Obama time to find his voice as President, though he seems to be getting it right this past week.

One good thing about living in these times is the internet, a lifeline to the world outside when one is coped in. Another thing you find yourself doing is taking walks down memory lane. And then comes the magical moment when the two meet. Roaming through various Brooklyn (my hometown) blogs, the Kingston Lounge appeared and there, as if out of nowhere, was The Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital Complex, its history and stunning photos of a hospital, the hospital I was born in many years ago and one I long thought had found its end with the wrecking ball. No, instead here one can find photos of a hospital with an even older tradition than the one I'm entering tomorrow. Long before the Civil War till 1948 it served long and well. And it's still there. And it's beautiful.

Thank you Kingston Lounge for making my day this week.

Monday, February 23, 2009
Grim reading. Nick Turse: Closing Down Main Street at .

Monday, February 16, 2009
Germany is basically a country of renters rathen than house owners. Hamburg, for example, has an array of not-for-profit building associations and people who sign up can, after a waiting period, find a good, decent apartment rather inexpensively, certainly compared to many parts of the US. This is particularly interesting for young people looking to get out on their own and the elderly. People here have never be hounded by the idea that buying a house should be a top priority. Thus it was very interesting to read an interview with urban theorist Richard Florida in The Atlantic.

In The Great Reset he states: And I think we're going to have to figure out ways not to reflate housing prices but to make housing much more affordable. It seems to me that maybe people should be spending no more than 20 percent of their income on housing and related durable goods. How are we going to grow if people are forced to spend the largest share of their income on this product that isn't really contributing to economic growth? And how we shift to much more rental housing could be part of that conversation.

Sunday, February 08, 2009
Numerous theologians and Christians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are asking all concerned persons to sign a petition calling for the full recognition of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council. They are responding to the extremely problematic annulment of the excommunication of bishops belonging to the traditional priestly society of Pius X.

After completion the petition will be handed over to the Vatican, the German Bishops' Conference, the official Catholic lay organization and the press.

Information in German, English and French at

Monday, February 02, 2009
Four US citizens in Berlin who voted for President Obama were invited to read for (people read tv) during the week of his inauguration. They are members of Democrats Abroad Germany, Berlin Chapter and American Voices Abroad, Berlin. Though the introduction is in German, three of the readings are in English. Ann Wertheimer, Chairperson for American Voices Abroad, Berlin read her favorite children's book, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.

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