Monday 5 June 2006

The Mark of the Beast

Vorsprung durch Technik

We all got familiar with the German punch line Vorsprung durch Technik in the Audi adverts of the early nineties – whilst it means Progress Through Technology, it has also become representative of German efficiency.

This weekend, I witnessed two perspectives of this generalisation that has been contestable and can be easily debunked by views of other people, but I stand my ground.

Yesterday afternoon in the Kreuzberg district, there was a whole parade of floats representing all countries contesting in the World Cup.

Sweep them away

Even cynics have to agree that the German do have a word for fun – spass – and they do have fun, flag waving, load chants, friendliness and camaraderie.

Unfortunately, this about to be destroyed by another poorer sight of Germany – adherents of National Socialism who in their quest for racial purity, take civilisation and civility out of humanity and send the human race back to Gorillas in the midst. Regrettable!

Anyway, I walked up the road towards the tail-end of this procession and there, people were sweeping, cleaning as road sweepers moved in tandem clearing up after the procession.

Basically, behind those trucks it was like nothing had ever happened before. I had seen this activity once before as I watched a pride procession of floats disappear towards the East, now, I know that it is all part of the arrangements for street parades. That is efficient.

Leaving on a train again

So, on my way back from Berlin, I got to my seat just in time, which was occupied by a couple who should have been in an entirely different part of the train, but as the doors had closed, and there was no interconnecting link between the joined-up trains, they had to wait till the next stop.

I tried as much as I could to find them alternative seating arrangements, but in the end, they walked the length of this end of the train to bring them into proximity of the other to be able switch trains at the next stop.

There are probably 8 or so stops between Berlin and my change-over station Duisburg. However, in a journey of the duration of just about 4 hours, it is reasonable to have ones tickets checked twice.

But just as we approached Duisburg and we were quite close, because announcements for the station had been made and everyone stopping off had already moved towards the exits, along comes a third conductor.

Miffed with Jobsworthy

I remonstrated, I have already shown my ticket twice from Berlin, but he insisted on seeing them regardless, I could have just refused and had him get off with me at Duisburg, but I could not be bothered anymore, so I opened my bag retrieved my ticket and had it stamped again by Conductor Jobsworthy.

Suffice it to say, I was quite miffed, but this not my idea of efficiency nor is it the right way to go about massaging employment figures. Well that is another side of German efficiency.

Convenience is what I need

However, it then struck me that I would prefer to have a situation when my ticket was checked once and soon after that, any subsequent conductor just knows it has been done.

The convenience of not being bothered by anyone and ensuring everything is just so, like, walk into a shop, purchase whatever you want, the till is your exit with the tags on your goods charged to the account read from the chip embedded in you.

Instant identification for the ultimate convenience and computers churn away in global data warehouses linking your whereabouts to your lifestyle, your purchases to your purchasing capability and your life risk ratio is computed against your health data to ascertain your comprehensive insurance premium automatically charged at the computer’s discretion.

The global Patriot Act

Who you meet; what you say and wherever you do is private; until you hit an inconvenience threshold. That brings on the scrutiny of eyes bigger than Jupiter.

The product is complete convenience driven by unsurpassed efficiency, everyone wants it, not knowing that the Mark of the Beast it the hallmark of convenience – we are not far from that day.

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