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Old 12-12-2010, 06:29 PM   #46
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Believe it or not, and I must admit I was surprised to find this, per capita car sales are higher in Germany than the US, though this may simply be because Germany is basically a wealthier country than the US.

In my experience, while wealthy Germans will splash out on the latest top range models from Mercedes and Porsche, which they can easily afford, many average middle class and working class Germans are happy enough to drive 12 year old cars. I have only visited Berlin, Munich and Cologne, and in my experience, in the central business districts of these cities, you will see great public transport systems but also plenty of flashy motors, particularly in Munich. (I remember seeing a pristine brand new bright yellow Lamborghini Diablo crawling down a Munich high street circa 1994.) Of course, those cities would not necessarily be representative of Germany on the whole, particularly not the east, some of which is still relatively underdeveloped and poor by German standards.

I think that in Europe it is much more common to have a car but opt to rarely use it, e.g., many Europeans use public transport for work and maybe take the car out for a Sunday drive in the mountains, whereas Americans who have cars tend to use them for pretty much any journey.
It's true, average age for German cars is eight years (it's down a little due to the cash for clunkers scheme last year, but not much, 8.1 years as opposed to 8.2 years the year before). Yet, Germans are famously obsessed with cars. It's a common joke to say for many Germans the car comes first. The wife may come second, but as well third behind the dog (Datsun or German Shepherd). Sometimes, I'm afraid it's not just a joke.
There's more than 50 million cars in a population of some 81 million. I think we have the second highest number of luxury cars, and also among the highest number of oldtimers.
For people who have a job it's natural to obtain a car. But the high average age of the cars is there for a reason, too.
But it has to be considered that fuel prices in Germany are about two to three times as high. Hence, we tend to drive less. The American, statistically, starts using a car when he has to travel 200 meters (about 650 feet). I don't know the figure in Germany, but would say it's a little higher. The only drive-thrus in Germany are at McDonald's restaurants. And public transport in the cities, as well as into the cities, is way better.

And two years ago, many German cities started to introduce so called environmental zones. That means, your car has to meet certain emission standards to be allowed into the inner parts of a city.

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Americans will drive a few miles to a health club where they can run or walk around an indoor track for a few miles and then drive back home.
I always loved the picture of the fitness club where the entrance was about ten to twenty stairs up, and there were escalators up and down just leading to the entrance.

Though, I'd also have to add, when it comes down to driving, the reason Germans may drive less is not really out of environmental concern. It pretty much comes down to the cost of driving, and to some extent the quality of public transport. But if they could, they would drive just as much. Also, SUVs or big luxury cars are commonplace in Germany. People like to show off.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:39 PM   #47
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they took the elevator (lift) to the health club on the 20th floor.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:08 PM   #48
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It's a common joke to say for many Germans the car comes first. The wife may come second, but as well third behind the dog (Datsun or German Shepherd). Sometimes, I'm afraid it's not just a joke.
This is logical, as your car performs its function reliably (assuming it is German made) and dogs are always loyal, whereas wives may not necessarily possess such characteristics.

Sensible chaps, these Germans.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:16 PM   #49
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I think you meant Dachshund not Datsun didn't you? Must have cars on the brain.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:28 PM   #50
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Got my van with German Shepherds in mind and Phil would say they come first!
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:52 PM   #51
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Re: American two-year colleges, aka 'community colleges'--those are primarily vocational schools, though a significant minority of students do use them as a springboard to a four-year degree (by transferring to a regular college/university after completing their two years). Mostly, they offer two-year 'associate' degrees (e.g. accounting, real estate) or technical certificates (e.g. welding, computer repair), which--hopefully!--enable their holders to successfully change careers, to advance within their careers, or perhaps to continue on to the next level of professional education. Some larger community colleges also offer four-year (bachelor's) degrees in a few of the traditional higher-ed fields (e.g. education, nursing), but that's pretty rare. By law, community colleges must accept everyone who applies, so long as they have a high school diploma or GED (exam-based high school equivalency cert), and the majority of entry-level community college students require remedial coursework to catch them up to their freshmen counterparts at four-year colleges.

I'm not sure what Moonlit Angel meant about doing a regular BA in two years at a community college--I've never heard of that.

One of Obama's declared education policy goals is to expand and enhance the community college system, since it's often the only point of entry into the higher education system available to the most disadvantaged (and/or underachieving) students. In general, I support this idea, but there are some red flags--for example, the graduation rate of community college students is typically very low: e.g., here in Indiana it's 14%, compared to our four-year system's rate of 72%. And such disparities are typical. So, a good deal of research must be done first to get a clearer picture of who exactly is enrolling in these schools, why they're choosing them over four-year schools, what their motivations and goals for their education are, and what their major obstacles to achieving those goals are, so that the funding is targeted appropriately.
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If I had to, I could easily walk or bike, or find someone else that comes down my way.
Another aspect of the 'can't-live-without-a-car' thing is that many, many American towns and small-to-midsize cities are virtually devoid of sidewalks (not to mention bike lanes) outside their downtown areas. Big cities, older (and/or wealthier) towns, and college towns are more likely to have those 'amenities.'
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:15 PM   #52
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i don't know what the details are, but i'd be pretty fucking angry too if my student fees (which will be coming out of my tax/income for the next 247 years) went up by that much.
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Old 12-13-2010, 06:38 AM   #53
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This is logical, as your car performs its function reliably (assuming it is German made) and dogs are always loyal, whereas wives may not necessarily possess such characteristics.

Sensible chaps, these Germans.
There's some truth to that.

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I think you meant Dachshund not Datsun didn't you? Must have cars on the brain.
Oh yes, Dachshund is it in English. The Japanese guy I met in Montana always called them datsuns (he even had one himself), but apparently it's not really the name.
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:52 AM   #54
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Re: American two-year colleges, aka 'community colleges'--those are primarily vocational schools, though a significant minority of students do use them as a springboard to a four-year degree (by transferring to a regular college/university after completing their two years). Mostly, they offer two-year 'associate' degrees (e.g. accounting, real estate) or technical certificates (e.g. welding, computer repair), which--hopefully!--enable their holders to successfully change careers, to advance within their careers, or perhaps to continue on to the next level of professional education. Some larger community colleges also offer four-year (bachelor's) degrees in a few of the traditional higher-ed fields (e.g. education, nursing), but that's pretty rare. By law, community colleges must accept everyone who applies, so long as they have a high school diploma or GED (exam-based high school equivalency cert), and the majority of entry-level community college students require remedial coursework to catch them up to their freshmen counterparts at four-year colleges.

I'm not sure what Moonlit Angel meant about doing a regular BA in two years at a community college--I've never heard of that.

One of Obama's declared education policy goals is to expand and enhance the community college system, since it's often the only point of entry into the higher education system available to the most disadvantaged (and/or underachieving) students. In general, I support this idea, but there are some red flags--for example, the graduation rate of community college students is typically very low: e.g., here in Indiana it's 14%, compared to our four-year system's rate of 72%. And such disparities are typical. So, a good deal of research must be done first to get a clearer picture of who exactly is enrolling in these schools, why they're choosing them over four-year schools, what their motivations and goals for their education are, and what their major obstacles to achieving those goals are, so that the funding is targeted appropriately.

Another aspect of the 'can't-live-without-a-car' thing is that many, many American towns and small-to-midsize cities are virtually devoid of sidewalks (not to mention bike lanes) outside their downtown areas. Big cities, older (and/or wealthier) towns, and college towns are more likely to have those 'amenities.'
Those studies make most sense to those who have a clear vision of what they want to be over the long-term, but in order to get there they still need this extra-qualification. But that's quite an incredibly high drop-out rate indeed. May it be that many people start a community college because they haven't been succesful getting a job or a real college, and in order to do at least something they sign up for community college? Or maybe a false impression about what a community college is, and what the study's purpose there is, and as soon as it becomes clear to them, they opt out? It's right, it'd be important to get behind the reasons for the low success rate before such programs.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:54 PM   #55
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Oh yes, Dachshund is it in English. The Japanese guy I met in Montana always called them datsuns (he even had one himself), but apparently it's not really the name.
Ahhhh, OK. I wasn't sure whether you simply didn't know the English word, or were committing this wonderful unintentional irony by mistakenly typing it as the name of a car! Yes, Dachshund is also the proper English name. But of course we can't properly pronounce that, so we wind up saying 'Da-shoond' or 'Docks-sunned' or various other half-assed approximations, with the result that confusion is rampant about how it's supposed to be spelled and pronounced. You can also call them 'wiener dogs,' which is easy to pronounce but, well, that just sounds silly in English...
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May it be that many people start a community college because they haven't been succesful getting a job or a real college, and in order to do at least something they sign up for community college? Or maybe a false impression about what a community college is, and what the study's purpose there is, and as soon as it becomes clear to them, they opt out?
Yes, probably both of those apply to many; then there are also those who realize at some point that they can't afford to finish the degree, or who don't have time to finish it (because they have full-time jobs, kids etc.), or who just don't have the aptitude for (or interest in) the trade/discipline they're studying that they'd initially assumed they had...there are so many potential factors, some of which could certainly benefit from well-targeted public funding, some of which probably couldn't.

One problem community college students do share with their four-year counterparts is a well-documented tendency to underuse the career counseling and academic advising services available to them for free at their schools. And that's an even worse problem when you're dealing with students from highly disadvantaged backgrounds, because they don't have the instincts students from better-educated, better-connected backgrounds do when it comes to formulating a plan, marshalling the resources they'll need to carry it out, and regularly conferring with properly trained advisors to ensure that they're still on the right track. Better-off students just understand automatically that there are experts out there whose job it is to help you, that you can and should claim your right to their services and put them to work for you; that no one ever gets from Point A to Point Z on work ethic alone. Plus, I'd be willing to bet community colleges' counseling and advising services are underfunded and less coordinated than those of four-year schools to begin with, since they have much less money overall. So, that's probably one smart area to direct funding towards right there. But yes, more studies are needed.
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Old 12-16-2010, 06:07 PM   #56
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Greek Protesters Beat One Of The Former Ministers! - Breaking News Allvoices

Violent protests erupted in Athens on Dec. 15, in response to wage cuts in government austerity measures.

Police used tear gas and flash grenades on groups of protesters outside Parliament and the Finance Ministry, after some protesters threw firebombs at the police, Bloomberg news reported. There were an estimated 20,000 protesters.

Former Greek Prime Minister Kostis Hatzidakis was stoned by a group of protesters after emerging from the Greek Parliament building, leaving his face bloodied with a gash above his right eye. BBC correspondent Malcolm Brabant managed to escape to a nearby building, according to a video from BBC.

Flights were grounded at the Athens International Airport, and public transportation was shut down. Several public services were also closed, including medical services and garbage disposal. Banks and schools were also closed.

All reports came from foreign reporters in Greece, since Greek journalists participated in the strikes, as instructed by the Athens Daily Journalists' Union (ESIEA).
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