I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories. Manys the time I’ve been found cornered by someone who is convinced that world events are micro managed by a collective of Illuminati lizard men based out of a secret underground base that would put Dr. No to shame. As exciting as these tales of double dealing and intrigue sound, I have a much stronger belief that the world is governed by more prosaic methods, such as greed and stupidity. It was these Conspiracy theorists I thought of as I learned of the NSA’s Prism project (hi by the way, I know you’re reading this, why don’t you answer my emails?). I can only imagine what these people felt as all their Christmases, Birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs came at once. I guess it was like the compulsive gambler who finds a scratch card on the street and somehow finds themselves winning €1,000,000. At least someone managed to find the silver lining from all the rather depressing news that America and Britain know about those embarrassing websites we visit and purchases from Amazon that we made. I like Beenie Babies OK, no need to go storing that fact in some server in Utah. Have some respect! Possibly the most depressing aspect was the discovery that Britain had been spying on everyone in a rather needy and desperate attempt to remain relevant and interesting to sexy old America. They would have looked less ridiculous if they had just sold a kiss and tell to The Sun, got a tramp stamp and eaten a wide and disgusting array of animal genitalia on a jungle based reality show. Of course, the Germans were a little miffed with Britain and voiced their concerns but Britain was too busy calling Obama for the hundredth time and leaving lurid voice mail messages to really hear. Germany’s problem with Prism and Britain’s spy fest stems from its ideas on privacy and it’s this subject we will be focusing on today.
Mine’s the Next Splotch on the Left
German’s can be quite guarded about their privacy and no more so than when it comes to Google Street View. Only recently the German government fined Google for being a bit over zealous in its collection of every last detail about Hamburg residents. I mean, really Germany, why shouldn’t Google know what you had for breakfast. I welcome a future where Larry Page and Sergey Brin introduce ‘Google Rectal Examination‘ which allows some hipster types to come knocking on doors and forcibly inserting cameras up everyone’s bums. Until that day eventually comes, I can simply enjoy surreptitiously spying on people via street view. Well at least I could, until Germans started having their houses blanked out. This has become so common that streets begin to resemble some kind of surrealist landscape, and it makes it slightly impossible for people to recognize where the hell anything is. It’s now got to the point that using street view is more akin to a simulation of what life would be like to have cataracts.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T BEND OVER!!
In contrast to the German view of privacy is the German approach to the gym or Fitness Studio. Maybe it’s just my particular gym, but getting changed before and after a workout can leave you with a severe case of PTSD, which may take years of therapy to recover from. My feelings, like many of my British compatriots, are that getting changed at the gym is a necessary evil. Like any uncomfortable social situation, I attempt to get through this with the maximum amount of dignity and the least amount of visible penis flashing. Sadly for me, I find that most of the German men getting changed around me are actively flouting these basic rules. Instead, freed from the strict social confines of the outside world, these men seem to delight in inadvertently placing me in the most uncomfortable scenarios. One example I seem to be confronted with on a weekly basis is certain persons entirely forgetting how to get dressed effectively. In my formative years, I learned that when getting dressed one should first put on some pants. It’s fairly obvious, well at least to me. However, in Germany it seems that you should get every piece of clothing on the top half of your body (t-shirt, shirt, tie and jumper) and then wander around conversing with everyone entirely nude form the waist down. I’m not a prude (per se) but this process seems entirely illogical to me. What’s worse is they seem to then drop anything and everything at all opportunities and then spend a good few minutes bending over and rummaging around for whatever it was they dropped. I may sound like a mental, but that’s slightly off putting. It seems to me that the message being sent out is; don’t you dare look at my house on a computer but feel free to stare up my arse if you like. I swear, one time it winked at me.
Britain loves cameras. We love them so much that we decided a long time ago to put them on every street in the UK so at all times someone is catching our good sides. Unfortunately, Germany is not so photogenic and this is probably why they have very few cameras situated anywhere. In fact, as the above video shows, some Germans are so ugly they have taken to wearing masks and smashing cameras wherever they can be found. Obviously this is a joke, Germans are very pretty. The video is really from a group calling itself ‘Camover’, who have taken to playing a real life video game. The game consists of forming teams to smash cameras around any city (mostly Berlin) and then posting the resulting mayhem to Youtube. They are then scored points by viewers and users for damage and style, which is why at one point someone smashes up a camera with a piece of drain pipe. That’s a 10/10 from me.
Fancy a Swim?
When not smashing the living daylights out of cameras, one of the favored past times in Germany is going for a swim, especially on a hot day. Although this is a great way to cool down, for non-Germans, be careful when you decide to take a visit. Not satisfied with odd dressing protocols in the gym, Germans like nothing better than getting their kit off and swimming around in the scud. At first I was shocked (OK, I am a prude but I can’t help that I’m British) but now I’ve come to realize that it’s an integral part of the German culture. Nude Saunas, swimming and beaches can be found almost anywhere. I won’t be trying it anytime soon but I’ll be damned if I’ll criticize anyone one who does it. After all, in Germany, nudity is not the scary thing it is in Britain and America. This mature view of the body does lead to some odd sights though, such as seeing topless women parading around on TV at ten in the morning or seeing top shelf “grumble mags” displayed at a child corrupting level. Oddly enough, this hasn’t led to a breakdown in society which every Daily Mail reader is sure will happen if all smut isn’t hidden from sight. I’m sure it will happen soon though; I mean The Daily Mail surely couldn’t be lying…could it?