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stoneunhinged
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Hey folks,

Just wondering if this story is getting any press in the States. It has been perhaps the biggest news item in Germany for a couple of weeks.

Mr Guttenbern is Germany's defense minister. That little "zu" means he is a noble (although Germany officially did away with official priviledges for nobility during the Weimar Republic), so he lives in a castle and is a very rich man whose only previous real job was running the "company" that invested the family's money. He is married to a woman who holds the German title of "Gräfin" (the equivalent of a countess") who is the great-great-granddaughter of Bismark, and who is a serious hottie ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stepha......2010.jpg ).

The guy was already controversial, but still a kind of political up-and-coming giant. In the first article I ever read about him, he claimed to read Plato in the original Greek for purposes of relaxation.

There was an incidient in November in which a sailor died when she fell from the rigging of the Gorch F-O-C-K (not with hyphens, but the anti-swearing robot replaces the real word with asterisks)--one of those high-masted ships that navies use for "training" purposes (perhaps Santa could explain why modern sailors need to know how to rig a sail)--after which some of the younger sailors refused to climb the rigging anymore and Mr zu Guttenberg promptly responded by firing the captain.

But nothing has compared to the furor resulting from the fact that Mr zu Guttenberg plagiarized huge chunks of material in his doctoral dissertation in 2007. This came out last month, and is the talk of TV shows, bars, restaurants, family picnics, talk shows, conferences, and...well, you get the idea.

At first he simply said it wasn't true. Then he said that he hadn't done anything wrong, but that he wouldn't use the title "Dr" anymore. (Here in Germany, the Dr. in front of your name is an official title--i.e., recognized by law--that can be used on everything from driver's licenses and passports to automobile registration papers, and if you use it without having officially earned it, you could pay a very large fine--we're talking thousands, not hundreds.)

About a week later, the university withdrew his doctorate.

What's really fun about the whole incident, however, is that he has so far retained his position as Minister of Defense. Ms Merkel has, as of this morning, continued to defend him, saying that the matter is a "private" one between him and the university. In other words, he retains the support of his party. But everyone else thinks he should resign. They seem to think that cheating at a high academic level is a sign of poor judgment and low character. (Or any academic level, for that matter; but it does make a difference if you have the "Dr" in front of your name on campaign posters.)

It's hard to think of how something similar would play out in the US. If one of Obama's cabinet members had done something similar, would he or she be forced to resign? If not, should they be? Would you care?

(The only similar case I can think of in the US is that of Martin Luther King. King was a plagiarist, but it wasn't discovered until after he died. By then King's deeds in the real world had over-shadowed any academic accomplishments, so the committee reviewing his case got weak-kneed and did not recommend revoking the doctorate of an already nearly mythological figure of American history. Shameful, but in some ways I understand. If some historian came up with irrefutable evidence that Abraham Lincoln had rigged electoral votes in Florida, I suppose I'd still think he was a great President.)

So, now you have the story of Mr (note I did not write Dr) zu Guttenberg, a thief and a liar who lives in a castle with the hottie granddaughter of Bismark, and who is in charge of Germany's military.

Enjoy your coffee.
Woland
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Stone,

Yes, I had seen some reports about the plagiarism issue.

Actually, it has come up a few times in the past decade. Joe Biden did some plagiarizing, and was called out on it, but to little effect, and the President (or his speechwriter) also appears to have "borrowed" some phrases from Deval Patrick, inter alia. The press here is not interested in either the cardinal sins or peccadilloes of politicians whose party affiliation is with the !@#$%^&.

Of course, it's now known that Theodore Sorensen wrote "Profiles in Courage," too. Ted Kennedy was expelled from Harvard for engaging a friend to sit a Spanish exam for him, but was readmitted a couple of years later, having demonstrated "good character" after serving in the honor guard at SHAPE headquarters in Paris. (One wonders how his Spanish language skills were some 10 years later, when as Attorney General of Massachusetts, he toured Latin America, meeting with communist agents and renting an entire brothel for a night in Santiago de Chile.)

I think that part of the issue in this case is that the title "Dr" is much more widely used in Germany than in the United States. Over here, it is mainly used by medical doctors, and does not in ordinary speech connote academic attainment. In Germany, I think the title is more widely used by lawyers, engineers, and others. In fact, as of course you know, holders of two doctorates in Germany are typically called "Dr Dr" and a similarly endowed Professor would be called "Professor Dr Dr" -- his wife would be "Frau Professor Dr Dr."


Woland
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Oh. Forgot to mention. She is hot. Good genes there somewhere.

W.
tommy
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Reminds me of the Reverend Ian Paisley. Politician, Minister of religion and general gob, said to have bought his qualifications from some fake university in the USA or something, which caused a little stink at one time here.
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stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2011-03-01 07:16, Woland wrote:
I think that part of the issue in this case is that the title "Dr" is much more widely used in Germany than in the United States.


Indeed it is, because in Germany it is actually assumed that it confirms status and gets people recognition and such that they otherwise would not get. Hence the Prof. Dr Dr is banking on his or her titles to get ahead.

Generally, however, people under fifty (like myself) seldom if ever use the title for anything but official correspondence. I wouldn't ever consider booking a hotel room for "Dr Stone", for example; neither does the "Dr" appear on my driver's license or mailbox or anything like that. Also, students usually refer to me as "Mr" rather than "Dr". So partly it's a generational thing. But it is also a cultural thing within Germany that "conservatives" (not to be in any way confused with what is called conservatism or liberalism in the States) give more weight to lofty titles than those on the left. Hence Mr zu Guttenberg's use of the title was in part a sign of his belonging to the right rather than the left.

UPDATE: the press is reporting that zu Guttenberg resigned at around 10:30 this morning.
tommy
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A con man I know changed his first name to Prince and pretends he is royal.
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Magnus Eisengrim
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The story got decent coverage in Canada. Here is what the CBC reported this morning.

John
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The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Woland
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Just as a footnote on German titles of nobility. As you note, Dr. Stone, noble status was abolished after The Great War, but German nobles continue to use their titles as their family names. I met then President Richard Freiherr von Weizsacker at one time and also a Prince "zu" W*****. His wife wanted everyone to call her "Prinzessin" - even though "Prinz zu W****" was actually his (her) name. I always liked the "von und zu" connector . . . .

W.
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On 2011-03-01 05:11, stoneunhinged wrote:
There was an incidient in November in which a sailor died when she fell from the rigging of the Gorch F-O-C-K (not with hyphens, but the anti-swearing robot replaces the real word with asterisks)--one of those high-masted ships that navies use for "training" purposes (perhaps Santa could explain why modern sailors need to know how to rig a sail)--after which some of the younger sailors refused to climb the rigging anymore and Mr zu Guttenberg promptly responded by firing the captain.


Apparently Magicsanta hasn't read this yet, but I think I can give you an idea.

If you know how to sail a ship, then you know how wind and water affect vessels. It becomes easier to power through the water with your destroyer/heavy cruiser/aircraft carrier if you have a basic knowledge of how wind and water are affecting your vessel.
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stoneunhinged
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Thanks, Ed. Do most navy people go through such training? Or just those who are on some kind of captain track?
critter
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On 2011-03-01 09:03, tommy wrote:
A con man I know changed his first name to Prince and pretends he is royal.


But he "don't wanna be the king/ that's why you heard him sing:
My name is Prince! And I am funkay!"
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
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thorndyke
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I checked the link and your right, she's hot!
MagicSanta
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She is cute.....

Stone, I shall explain the rigging of a ship. The simple fact is no one can rig those old ships anymore, they can fake it but it is a lost art. Anyone finding a link claiming they can do it they are making it up...I'm talking the 1800 style rigging. Modern rigging is more efficient. The Navy does not teach regular sailors how to rig and we don't get to play on the sailing ships (the USS Constitution does have enlisted men but lets me honest, they turn it around once a year, when they tried to sail it not only couldn't they rig it they dang near sunk it) that is the domain of officers and they ship belongs to the academy. The main reason you they learn to rig is teamwork and tradition, which is very important. We do call the top part of a ship 'the rigging' still though you don't want to go up there cuz you could get fried by a radar or something. If that ship she fell from was a sailing ship with full rigging I betcha it was associated with a training cruise and she was in a naval academy. Those ships are very cool by the way.

Ed is also right about learning seamanship for officers but teamwork is the idea and the tradition.

I just noted you said the younger guys wouldn't climb up and the captain was fired. Not to sound harsh but that was the right thing to do, when people die on board, and they do, you still have to do your job and the captain is responsible if they don't.

Note: Rope tying is the domain of the boatswain and while I never was very good at it at all we did have guys who could tie ropes and line very well.
kcg5
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MIght this be in some way compared to Clinton, and his actions while in office? Something of a moral action?


I would LOVE to see some evidence of this Kennedy *** house trip
Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!!!!!



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MagicSanta
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By coincidence I was reading about castles and there was a Guttenberg in Germany mentioned but it was about the 12th century.
Al Angello
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Jeff
The handling of the rigging that one learns manning a tripple masted scooner is called marlinspike seamanship.
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MagicSanta
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Marlinspike refers to the tool and encompasses all the different rope related things. We use to carry buck knives that had blades and a marlin spike. Side note: A very good knot guy can be called a marlinspike seaman, they can knot ropes that are very tight and the spike helps get them out. You need the skills to do rigging but it denotes the knot knowledge and one doesn't have to do rigging to be one. The real good guys use to make carriers they put on their belts out of line for their knives and spikes.
stoneunhinged
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OK, OK, but I *still* don't understand why just an extremely small number of people go through such training. If it were simply about teamwork or knots, perhaps everyone in the Navy ought to do it. But they don't. So who gets chosen, and why, and what good does it do for the country?
Al Angello
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Jeff
The guys who do train on wooden sailing ships are officer candidates, and marlinspike seamanship is sailing 101. The boatswans mate does the actual handling of the rigging, but it's the officers duty to handle the ship. Duty on wooden sailing ships teaches future captians how to be captains.
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critter
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I thought the ultimate mark of a captain was whether he was willing to go down on the ship? With! With the ship! Dang it.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
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