This weekend’s state elections in Berlin were interesting, to say the least. The full election results with wins and losses, vote distribution, etc… are here by the way. There’ll be some analysis and neepery about German politics behind the cut, so just skip if that doesn’t interest you. I also have a few writing and SFF related links, so you may want to scroll to the end.
Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit was reelected for a third term, though he will have to look for a new coalition partner, as both Wowereit’s Social Democratic Party and their coalition partner the Left Party experienced slight losses, which add up to the current coalition government losing its majority. The conservative party CDU made slight gains, but not enough to mask the fact that the CDU has serious problems getting young urban people to vote for them. The Green Party is still riding on the wave of renewed anti-nuclear power sentiment initiated by the Fukushima disaster and made significant gains.
Klaus Wowereit was one of the first openly gay high level German politicians. This means that any international politicians and heads of state visiting Berlin, no matter how homophobic, will have to shake the hand of at least one gay man, because the mayor of Berlin is usually present during state visits. Of course, for the moment, international state visitors have to shake the hands of two gay men, when visiting Berlin, because the current German foreign secretary Guido Westerwelle is also openly gay. And yes, this makes me proud of my country.
However, the question is for how long Westerwelle will remain in office, for the liberal (liberal in the European, but libertarian in the US sense) party FDP continued its slide towards irrelevance and managed to win less than 2 percent of the vote. This is the fifth state parliament that the FDP got kicked out of this year, and the party’s decline is largely due to incompetence at the leadership level. Just last week, the FDP chairman Philipp Rösler caused the stock markets to crash and nearly caused an international incident by “thinking out aloud about letting Greece go bankrupt” in what was a pretty transparent ploy to gain votes in Berlin by playing into popular resentment about Greece and the euro. Coincidentally, Mr Rösler is secretary of the economy, i.e. not the first person who comes to mind when discussing international financial issues. Never mind that the chairman of a party that is very much focused on economic issues should not provoke a stock market crash, because his voters will care far more about crashing stocks than e.g. the voters of the Left Party. By the way, Philipp Rösler is Asian-German (Is that a word?), born in Vietnam and adopted by a German couple as a baby, so yeah for diversity in German politics (we also have a woman chancellor, a disabled secretary of finance and a possible lesbian in the cabinet).
But of course, the biggest news of the day was that the Pirate Party made it into the Berlin state parliament and just in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day, too. The German Pirate Party was founded in 2006 based on the Swedish Pirate Party and was initially a single-issue party organized around issues of unrestricted internet access, anti-copyright and anti-censorship policies. They’re still very much a single issue party, though they have also added calls for legalizing marihuana and abolishing fees for busses, trams and subways (this is a big issue, since Berlin is very much dependent on public transport). But then, the Greens were a single issue party, too, and look where it got them.
Personally, I have some issues with their problem, because while copyright law could certainly use a reform or two, I don’t see how creators would be paid at all for their efforts, if the Pirate Party had their way. But I can see why they would be so successful to take almost 9 percent of the vote right out of the gate. Because the established parties, including the Greens and the Left, are woefully clueless about the Internet and mainly see it as a nuissance at best and a threat at worst. Over the past years, we have seen countless clueless attempts to regulate the internet from an ill-advised initiative to block child porn sites (which plenty of people feared was really a front for blocking torrent sites and other undesirable sites, because no one can speak out against blocking kiddie porn without looking like an arsehole) via politicians calling for making adult sites only accessible at night (it’s always night somewhere on the planet, so duh) via a law treating bloggers like newspaper and magazine publishers, so every blogger has to post their full personal information somewhere on his site (which makes a lot of people including me uncomfortable for obvious reasons) to protecting the country from the grave threat to public safety that is Google Streetview. With idiocies like this on display with all established parties, it’s obvious why a party organized around the issue of a free and unrestricted Internet access would be popular among young people for whom the Internet is an integral part of their lives. Never mind that it’s fun seeing a twenty-something in jeans and t-shirt sitting among all the people in stuffy suits in the so-called elephant circle of party leaders doing post-election analysis on German TV.
The Green Party was born, because established parties ignored the widespread fears about the environment and nuclear armament, the Left Party survived the collapse of East Germany, because many voters on the Left in both East and West no longer felt represented by the Social Democrats of the Schröder era and beyond and now the Pirate Party is come on the scene, because the established parties are clueless about the Internet. It’s obvious really.
And now for something completely different:
I have a new post up at Pegasus Pulp about recent author versus publishers and agent conflicts, wherein I also touch upon the recent
At the Outer Alliance, Julia Rios has a round-up of links about the recent discussion about GLBT YA.
Also on the issue of promoting diversity within the SFF genre, a previously unknwon to me blog called Cold Iron and Rowan Wood calls for establishing a Hope Mirrlees Award, that is a sort of Orange Prize for SFF.
At the Book View Café, Sherwood Smith shares several lesser known space opera treasures. Lots of great suggestions for little known books and series there.
At Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig offers 25 plotting techniques. What I really like about this post is that instead of a one-size-fits-all approach (You must use an outline/index cards/follow Campbell’s hero’s journey) it offers more than enough approaches for every writer. Indeed, I have done several of these at one point or another.
The Atlantic has put a profile of George Lucas that ran in the March 1979 issue on its website. This is of particular interest, because Lucas changes his story of why he made the films, what inspired him, what he wanted to achieve, etc.. about as often as he recuts the films themselves. And this article was written fairly close to the release date of the original Star Wars and before the release of any of the sequels, so it provides illuminating insights in how Lucas viewed his films at the time.