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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘germany

[URBAN NOTE] “Berlin’s Startup Hub Wants to Prove It’s More Than Just a Scene”

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Adam Satariano and Stefan Nicola wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek about Berlin’s emergence as a startup hub. This is not mentioned in the article, but I wonder how Brexit will help or hinder this.

The Factory would feel pretty much like any big Silicon Valley headquarters, if you couldn’t see the death strip. In the 19th century, this 130,000-square-foot Berlin warehouse held a brewery. In the 20th, it was an air raid shelter, then rested in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. East German watchtower guards gunned down people trying to scramble across the border. (Hence the term “death strip.”) Today the retrofitted space is home to dozens of tech companies, including Uber and Twitter, and is the headquarters of the music streaming service SoundCloud.

Inside, the Factory is packed with all the perks of a Silicon Valley campus: nap rooms, scooters, 3D printing stations. Headphone-wearing millennials hunch over MacBooks or mill around a lounge where guitars hang from the wall near books with titles such as The Lean Startup and The Startup Game. Conference rooms are named for the regulars at Andy Warhol’s Factory. There are 700 people here; in addition to the full-time employees, a lot of individual tech workers pay €50 ($55) a month for access to a common work area.

“It’s a social club for startups,” says Factory co-founder Lukas Kampfmann, 30, wearing a T-shirt bearing the names Steve (as in Jobs), Elon (Musk), Bill (Gates), and Mark (Zuckerberg), printed in the font Helvetica like the familiar Beatles shirt. On the roof of the warehouse, with a clear view of the former death strip, Kampfmann says his community’s emulation of Silicon Valley isn’t an accident. “We admire American movies, culture, fashion, music,” he says, and this is the logical next step.

Across Berlin, young tech workers from throughout Europe are flooding into cafes and rehabbed Soviet-era buildings, drawn to the German capital by the promise of foosball-casual work environments, cheap rent, and an uninhibited party culture. It’s a package deal that can be tough to match elsewhere in Europe. A decade ago there were a few dozen tech startups in Berlin. Now there are 2,500, and the Investitionsbank Berlin, the government’s regional economic development agency, says there are 70 percent more digital jobs there than there were in 2008.

Although a handful of old-school conglomerates such as Siemens and SAP remain Germany’s most visible technology companies, they’re no longer the country’s main draw for aspiring hardware or software developers, says Martin Hellwagner, a 27-year-old coder who moved to Berlin from Austria in early 2014. “I really wanted to work for a startup,” says Hellwagner, who spends 60 hours a week working on Uberchord, a guitar-lessons app. “You have more responsibilities. It’s not just a 9-to-5. You actually change something, and your opinion matters.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

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  • Bloomberg notes concerns over Northern Ireland’s frontiers, looks at how Japanese retailers are hoping to take advantage of Vietnam’s young consumers, examines the desperation of Venezuelans shopping in Colombia, looks at Sri Lankan interest in Chinese investment, suggests oil prices need to stay below 40 dollars US a barrel for Russia to reform, observes that Chinese companies are increasingly reluctant to invest, and suggests Frankfurt will gain after Brexit.
  • Bloomberg View gives advice for the post-Brexit British economy, looks at how Chinese patterns in migration are harming young Chinese, suggests Hillary should follow Russian-Americans in not making much of Putin’s interference, and looks at the Israeli culture wars.
  • CBC considers the decolonization of placenames in the Northwest Territories, notes Canada’s deployment to Latvia was prompted by French domestic security concerns, and looks at an ad promoting the Albertan oil sands that went badly wrong in trying to be anti-homophobic.
  • The Inter Press Service considers the future of Turkey and looks at domestic slavery in Oman.
  • MacLean’s looks at China’s nail house owners, resisting development.
  • The National Post reports from the Colombia-Venezuela border.
  • Open Democracy considers the nature of work culture in the austerity-era United Kingdom, looks at traditions of migration and slavery in northern Ghana, examines European bigotry against eastern Europeans, and examines the plight of sub-Saharan migrants stuck in Morocco.
  • Universe Today notes two nearby potentially habitable rocky worlds, reports that the Moon’s Mare Imbrium may have been result of a hit by a dwarf planet, and reports on Ceres’ lack of large craters.

[URBAN NOTE] Bloomberg View on the cities that will compete with London

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Bloomberg View’s Mark Gilbert writes about the advantages, and disadvantages, of London’s different Eurozone competitors for its financial industry. Paris seems to come out broadly in the lead.

Have you heard? The platforms of London’s St. Pancras train station and the departure lounges of its airports are packed with anxious investment bankers, ordered by their employers to relocate following Brexit.

Of course, that isn’t happening at all; the U.K. decision to leave the European Union hasn’t prompted an overnight exodus. But the banks that warned they’d consider moving thousands of staff out of a non-EU Britain are surely assessing “the next two weeks, two months and two years,” as consultancy firm KPMG put it when appointing one of its senior partners to be head of its new Brexit division. “The French government, the German government, a number of governments, are making, if I may call it this way, a case for people to move to their jurisdiction,” UBS Chief Executive Officer Andrea Orcel said on Tuesday. So which competing financial center looks most attractive?

On cost-cutting grounds alone, there are a number of options. London regularly vies with Hong Kong as the most expensive world city for renting office space. It ranks second according to figures compiled by real-estate firm CBRE for the first quarter of this year, with Paris 14th, Dublin at 30th and Frankfurt down at 47th. For a bank seeking a cheap European office, Frankfurt and Luxembourg look the best bets:

For a human resources department seeking the best overall environment for its employees, Frankfurt also looks attractive. In its annual scorecard of cities based on overall quality of life, including considerations such as political stability, economic backdrop, personal freedom and school systems, the consulting firm Mercer ranks the German financial capital as the seventh best place to live. Its 2016 ranking of 230 cities puts Luxembourg 19th and Dublin 33rd[.]

Bankers ordered to relocate can anticipate lower housing costs wherever they end up. For city-center apartments, London is the second most expensive city in Europe after Monaco, with Paris third at almost half the cost, and Luxembourg 10th. Frankfurt and Dublin, though, are even cheaper[.]

Written by Randy McDonald

July 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

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  • Bloomberg notes Ireland’s huge unexpected recent reported growth, looks at the deindustrialization of Israel, observes Deutsche Bank’s need to search for wealth abroad, looks at the demographic imperatives that may keep healthy Japanese working until they are 80, notes the slipping ANC grip on Pretoria and looks at the rise of anti-Muslim Pauline Hanson in Australia, and predicts Brexit could kill the London property boom.
  • Bloomberg View calls for calm in the South China Sea.
  • CBC notes some idiot YouTube adventurers who filmed themselves doing stupid, even criminal, things in different American national parks.
  • The Globe and Mail reports on the plans for a test tidal turbine in the Bat of Fundy by 2017.
  • MacLean’s looks at the heckling of a gay musician in Halifax and reports on the civil war in South Sudan.
  • The New York Times looks at the new xenophobia in the east English town of Boston.
  • Open Democracy notes that talk of a working class revolt behind Brexit excludes non-whites, and reports on alienation on the streets of Wales.
  • Wired looks at how some cash-strapped American towns are tearing up roads they cannot afford to maintain.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Discover introduces its new blog Astrobeat.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at our operations throughout our solar system.

  • Dangerous Minds shares recordings from Prince’s Sign o’ The Times tour rehearsals.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study of gas giant HD 95086b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes evidence for pre-European trade in eastern Polynesia.
  • Gizmodo notes that a large vertical farm is being built in New Jersey.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Kim Davis is being accused of hiding requested public documents.
  • The LRB Blog notes that the Chilcot report proves Blair’s culpability.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the weakness of Deutsche Bank, looks at how the weak pound won’t help Britain, and observes Italy’s weakness.
  • Steve Munro considers reviving the Scarborough LRT proposal.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes Australia’s problems with Internet speed.
  • Supernova Condensate looks at the Juno probe’s arrival at Jupiter.
  • Transit Toronto notes that high speeds have slowed down rail transit in Toronto.

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • Bloomberg notes the rail boom in Bangladesh, looks at the fall in the value of the pound, notes a German proposal to give young Britons German citizenship and observes Spanish concern over giving Scotland a voice, looks at competition between Paris and Frankfurt to get jobs from the City of London, looks at how a Chinese takeover of an American ham company worked well, and observes that revised statistics show a much rockier economic history in Argentina.
  • Bloomberg View notes that Merkel is Britain’s best hope for lenient terms and compares Brexit to the Baltic break from the Soviet Union.
  • The Globe and Mail notes continuing problems with the implementation of tidal turbines on the Bay of Fundy.
  • MacLean’s notes that pride marchers in the Manitoba city of Steinbach can walk on the street, and looks at the impact of immigrant investment on Vancouver’s housing market.
  • National Geographic notes the endangerment of Antarctica’s penguins.
  • Open Democracy compares Brexit and the breakup of the former Soviet Union, looks at water shortages in Armenia, and examines the impact of Brexit on Ireland.
  • The Chicago Tribune looks at urban violence.
  • Universe Today notes the Dutch will be going to the Moon with the Chinese.

[URBAN NOTE] “Exactly 346 people voted for Berlin to be renamed Kitchener”

The Waterloo Region Record‘s Jeff Outhit notes that, exactly one hundred years ago today in the middle of the First World War, the southwest Ontario city of Berlin had its name changed to Kitchener against the will of its inhabitants. (Via James Nicoll.)

Residents voted narrowly to change Berlin’s name in the midst of the First World War to prove loyalty and stem the backlash against a city with deep German roots.

Canadian soldiers were battling Germany, dying amid distant thunder on the Western Front in Europe. Canada, consumed by anti-German sentiment, eyed Berlin darkly, uneasy about buying goods stamped Made in Berlin, suspicious of its young men who were reluctant to enlist.

It was the darkest time in the city’s history. You can see the city on edge in a new exhibit by that name at the Waterloo Region Museum. It runs through December.

The space is laid out like a maze. That’s meant to disorient you just as people would have felt in 1916. “We want people to feel confused,” said Tom Reitz, museum manager.

The exhibit has what you might expect, relics and artifacts, and what you might not, modern podiums and touch screens to explain how the name change still resonates. There’s film and art and sound and conflict.

There’s the printing plate from the ballot that produced the new name. There’s a napkin ring that might have been crafted out of a stolen, melted bust of Kaiser Wilhelm I, but probably wasn’t. The Kaiser’s ghost hovers above it all.

Reitz is from German stock. His great-grandfather immigrated as a carpenter and lived on Wilhelm Street in Berlin. He wonders: how did his ancestors feel about abandoning Berlin’s name? Did they vote?

“What did they think of this?” he asks. The answer is lost to time.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 28, 2016 at 7:00 pm


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