Tag: Berlin

Stop Sepsis. Save Lives.

Monday, 9 September, 2013 0 Comments

The first-ever Berlin Sepsis Summit (PDF) opens today in Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus. Your blogger has a personal interest in the disease as he contracted sepsis, with near fatal consequences, while in hospital during summer and nothing concentrates the mind more wonderfully than the prospect of closure and its causes, to paraphrase Dr Johnson. For those unfamiliar with the syndrome, sepsis occurs when the body is unable to fight bacterial infection. Perversely, many of the advances in modern healthcare weaken our immune system, opening the door for sepsis. These include cancer treatments, medicines for gastro-intestinal illnesses and drugs that affect the immune system, like cortisone.

Every three seconds someone around the world dies of sepsis and, terrifyingly, it is now the second-leading cause of death in non-coronary intensive care unit patients. Even in first-world countries such as Germany, with a much-praised healthcare system, some 160,000 people die from the disease annually. Imagine, then, the havoc it wreaks in less developed societies?

The keynote address in Berlin today will be given by Ciaran Staunton, whose young son, Rory, died of sepsis in April last year in NYU Langone Medical Center. A preventable death in one of the world’s best medical facilities produced a storm of outrage and led in January to the enactment in New York State of “Rory’s Regulations“, a series of protocols to diagnose and treat sepsis before it turns fatal.

World Sepsis Day will be marked globally on Friday and the declared goal is reducing the incidence of the disease by 20 percent by 2020. Stop Sepsis. Save Lives.

World Sepsis Day


The European NIGHTVISION of Luke Shepard

Tuesday, 22 January, 2013 0 Comments

Click on the arrow or thumbnail of the NIGHTVISION navigation to experience some memorable photos of Europe’s cities. It’s all the work of Luke Shepard, a student at the American University of Paris. His after-dark video exploration of Paris, Le Flâneur, was so well received two years ago that he decided to crowd-source funds on Kickstarter to bring the NIGHTVISION concept to to Valencia, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Athens, Barcelona and Brussels. The modest estimate for the job was $17,000, and the project closed at the end of September last year with a total of $19,446 pledged.

[iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/17894033″ width=”100%” height=”480″]

To make Le Flâneur, Luke Shepard used a Nikon SLR D90 camera and a tripod. Unlike typical time-lapse video, however, he shot 2,000 images a short distance apart and put them together using Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro.


Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools

Saturday, 21 July, 2012

Denitza Todorova (MC DENA) was born in Bulgaria and now lives in Berlin. She paid homage to her adopted city by shooting the video for Cash, Diamond Rings, Swimming Pools in the city’s multinational Neukölln district. “I live in Kreuzberg. It’s like the Brooklyn of Berlin. For the eight years I’ve been here, it’s getting […]

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e-book review: The Making of the Greek Crisis by James Pettifer

Friday, 25 May, 2012

It is possible that James Pettifer was overcome by philhellene emotion when writing The Making of the Greek Crisis. Or he might have been the victim of over-hasty editing, or the short e-book format chosen by Penguin for this topic is unsuited to the complexity of the matter. In any event, the reader is often more perplexed than enlightened when swiping through the text.

Peffifier: Greek Crisis “The European Union and International Monetary Fund negotiators who sit in authority in Athens in 2012 have many antecedents,” begins Pettifer. It’s an unconvincing start as Athens in 2012, so far, has produced more chaos than authority and those responsible for this are primarily Greek politicians. Pettifer continues: “Men and women completely ignorant of the Greek language have played their parts in the making of modern Greece, with varying degrees of success.” To suggest that the EU/IMF negotiators, whatever their nationalities and native languages, do not have access to Greek-speaking support staff is incredible.

Pettifer can be sharp. He notes: “The Euro currency ‘project’ did not originate in Greece. As Victor Hugo observed in 1855, the notion of a single European currency, like all bad ideas, has been around for a very long time.” And he crafts some colourful images: “Yes this crisis did not drop from the sky as an eagle in Epirus might drop a sick lamb.” But he cancels this out with truly baffling sentences like this: “The wish to reject the American Exceptionalism of the Bush period has meant an often uncritical adherence to frequently superficially understood multilateralist ideas in international relations and abandonment of some aspects of US legitimate claims to world leadership.”

He correctly identifies the decision by Greece to host the 2004 Olympic Games as pivotal in the country’s loss of fiscal reason, but he undermines the argument with ideological point scoring such as, “…it appealed to the American corporations whose major players connected with big sport, like Nike and Coca Cola, had become sponsors and advertisers with all recent stagings of the Olympic Games. The Olympics embodied the culture of health, anti-smoking campaigning, intense and unbridled Darwinian competition and many other neo-conservative social objectives.”

While politics are personal, facts are not and more careful editing would have prevented 17 becoming 27 here: “The euro project was doomed because it was impossible to chain together twenty-seven different economies into one currency and one central financial institution without any tax revenue raising capacity.” One wonders, too, where the editor was when this drifted by:

“When I first went to little hilltop Exohorio in about 1983, very old ladies sung songs and wove on looms in their houses that had changed little since Homeric times. Now on nearby beaches you are as likely to hear the programmed chit-chat of Whitehall civil servants from London or Zehlendorf doctors from Berlin, and where the loom once stood is an ugly chrome exercise bike in a second home. Few of these north Europeans bother to learn any Greek at all, and some like the parsimonious Dutch are notorious locally for bringing their own food from the Netherlands in their neat motor caravans.”

If only the Greeks had been as parsimonious as the Dutch, James Pettifer would not be writing about the tragic crisis that has engulfed the land he so clearly loves. But Athens is not Amsterdam, and neither is it Berlin or London or Washington, as he points out repeatedly.

The Making of the Greek Crisis is short, but it would have benefitted from cutting in places. Experienced editors of e-books are scarce and the knack of fitting chapters, paragraphs and sentences to tablet and smartphone screens is being learned on the job, so James Pettifer might have profited from a kind of guidance that’s not widely available yet. Still, he has made an entertaining contribution to a debate that continues to dominate the headlines.


Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?

Friday, 16 December, 2011

“My own favorite Merkel story comes from 1981, when she left the husband whose surname she still carries, Ulrich Merkel. They had met while studying physics in Leipzig, married, moved to East Berlin, and for three years Ulrich had the apartment done up while Angela completed her doctorate. When the place was spick-and-span, she decided to leave. ‘One day, she just packed her things and moved out,’ her ex-husband recalls. An almost wordless operation, apparently. She took only one item — the refrigerator, removed while Ulrich was out of the house. That’s Angela Merkel for you: a woman who runs away with a refrigerator.”

So writes Roger Boyes in Newsweek. His profile of the German chancellor “Angela Merkel and the Euro Crisis: Women in Leadership” is highly entertaining but it’s not going to go down well in Germany where it will be perceived as British payback for the recent Merkozy humiliating of David Cameron in Brussels. This is a pity as Boyes has spent 35 writing about Germany and he’s one of the most perceptive analysts of the country, its politics and its culture.

Beyond Berlin, though, the blush is well off the rose and much of austerity Europe now sees Angie through the perceptive eyes of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards who peeked into their crystal ball in 1972 and wrote, “With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats / You can’t say we’re satisfied.” That’s Angie.

Angela Merkel