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Archive for January, 2007

Jan 30,2007


I think like a lot of journalists, especially those inordinately interested in U.S. politics and Washington’s machinations, I have been drawn to the coverage of the ongoing trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

And as the trial starts to rev up, we get some really interesting testimony, like we did yesterday from former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who happens to be the person I wrote my first “real” news story about, for the White House Bulletin.

But the amazing part to me wasn’t Fleischer’s testimony, its how the media reacted to it. Boy do we as a business love to navel gaze. But this is to new extremes.

With reporter John Dickerson, now of Slate, then of Time, in the courtroom, he became the focus of attention — and the subject of testimony.

But it gets worse — because in his news story today, Dickerson makes news (wait, I thought we weren’t supposed to do that as journalists) and actually may have changed the outcome of the case — and the storyline — just by writing it.

This isn’t navel gazing. This is digging the lint out of your belly button, and eating it.

Jan 25,2007

Dell, the world’s now-No. 2 computer maker, yesterday “broke ground” on the expansion of its biggest German facility, in Halle, about 2 hours south of Berlin.

Michael Dell, the founder and chairman of the company, stopped by on his way to Davos, and spoke (auf Englisch) to a room full of Germans.

Michael Dell

(Although, from this reporter’s perspective, it seemed like English was more prevalent at the Dell Halle offices than even in Prenzlauer Berg, the seat of Berlin’s expat community.)

The visit also included a tour of the Dell facilities, which were very nice and modern — which was even more incredible, after walking around the city of Halle, which has an unemployment rate of 20%, and which Time Magazine two years ago called Halle, “by any measure…the worst place in Germany, a symbol of what’s wrong with the nation.”

Out front Dell

But Dell’s european VP said that’s actually one of the reasons the company located there, because unemployment was so high there was a cheaper labor force, plus two universities nearby, in Leipzig.

Global warming on ice?

  • Filed under: News
Jan 25,2007

Berliners woke up this morning to their first snow of the year.

Snow on my street

Other parts of the country got far more snow this week, but the whiteness of Berlin was a shock, and for long-time residents, a relief.

Snow has shut down airports and traffic in many cities south of Berlin, like Basel and Prague, and many climatologists say that this is just the beginning.

Several Germans I’ve talked to here in Berlin are almost resigned to the fact that this might be the new winter, snow and ice around mid-January, and far more drastic weather until early March.


That’s what happened last year, at least, and what it looks like happen this year as well.

Which just feeds more fuel to the global warming debate. As the World Economic Forum in Davos kicks off this week, you can be sure that will be talked about especially since this current storm seems to have missed Davos thus far.

Here’s a constant update on the weather here.

Jan 19,2007

Some Berlin residents are still seething about the opening of a Church of Scientology Center in the trendy west Berlin neighborhood of Charlottenburg. The country has long refused to recognize Scientology as a religion.

The relationship between the German media and the growing church has long been touchy – at best. And it wasn’t just the media – several high-powered government officials spoke out as well. In fact, one of the group’s most outspoken critics is Günter Beckstein, the interior minister of Bavaria, who was in the news for another reason this week — he looks like he may take on a very high-profile political role in the country’s wealthiest state of Bavaria.

Beckstein says Scientology is “trying to approach students in order to gain more followers” and “brainwash them,” so you can see has isn’t really tiptoeing around the decision.


Why Berlin rocks

Jan 12,2007


The city is on the edge, if you can call it that, of style.

And I stumbled on this great website that tries to document the fashion, again if you can call it that, here in the city.

“Stil” auf Deutsch, is obviously “style.” And so, I give you, stilinberlin.

Googling myself

Jan 10,2007

The “blind date” certainly isn’t what it used to be. Aside from the cultural-destroying TV show of the same name, I think a lot of people already “know” who they are meeting in most of these set-ups.

People now have the whole Internet, Google, MySpace, and other social networking sites to find out the life and times of the person they are meeting. And as much as it sounds scary, I think going on a date with a total stranger is even scarier. Which is why, I think, Googling people has become so common, and in fact, accepted.

When I meet someone professionally (and even, sometimes, personally), I expect them to either have already searched for me on the web, or expect them to do so soon. Especially as a journalist, if I am interviewing someone, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have listened to my previous stories. Or read my stuff on Lexis-Nexis In fact, I’d recommend they do that as a background check to figure out what type of reporter with whom they are dealing.

So, as a test, I googled myself today, and here is what I found that I didn’t expect:

I think its interesting all the pieces are from at least 3 years ago, and all are reported/editorialized material in other publications. My real hope is that when someone searches for “Ethan Lindsey” on the web, and finds all that, that shoe comment doesn’t scare them off.

Get your fix of Berkeley news

Jan 8,2007


Sunday’s NY Times had a great article on the changing demographics at Berkeley.

On how those changes are almost a bellwether for the rest of California, and the country.

It’s interesting in that it really focuses on the racial awareness students have these days, but also about how that awareness may be a important and effective way to fight prejudice. But the most striking, and significant, piece of the article is how the racial breakdown at schools like Berkeley is so totally unreflective of our country as a whole.

Great reporting by National Book Award winner Timothy Egan:

The revolution at Berkeley is a quiet one, a slow turning of the forces of immigration and demographics. What is troubling to some is that the big public school on the hill certainly does not look like the ethnic face of California, which is 12 percent Asian, more than twice the national average.
But it is the new face of the state’s vaunted public university system. Asians make up the largest single ethnic group, 37 percent, at its nine undergraduate campuses.

Bowl system or Playoffs

  • Filed under: Sports
Jan 5,2007

With Monday’s BCS national championship game already a disappointment in light of the amazing comeback Fiesta Bowl victory that gave Boise State a 14-0 record, sports reporters all over the country are again fretting about the college football bowl system, and whether we’d be better served with a playoff system at the end of the year, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament, or as we all call it, March Madness.

Normally these calls are standard, and could very well be reprinted every year at this exact time. Except this year we got two very interesting, and I must say, compelling arguments against a playoff and for the status quo.

One is a mea culpa from LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke, giving the bowl proponents some props.

Per Plaschke:

“What we saw was pure, raw emotion,” said Keith Jackson, the retired legendary announcer. “What we saw, you can only see in college football.”

And then better-argued, and certainly a tour de force argument for any sports fan is Chuck Klosterman over at ESPN. That is a must-read.

New Year’s Eve

Jan 3,2007

Boy do the Germans love their fireworks. I swear there were more fireworks shot off on New Year’s Eve here in Berlin than in the whole of the United States on July 4th.


In fact, from the fourth-floor of a Prenzlauer Berg walk-up, we almost got hit by the battalion-load of bottle rockets fired from the street in front of us.

I have to say, I did miss all the 12:01 am phone calls from friends at different parties in different cities, and sometimes even different time zones. But we did manage to pop a bottle of champagne for the occasion, even if I’d recommend free beer instead.

All that said, “Gutes Neuesjahr!”

(Flickr thx: geobeo).