Internet miscellany/ Vermischtes aus dem Internet

1. Try out mobile phones / Handy ausprobieren bei TryPhone (more models to be added). via Lifehacker

2. I know why I’d be worried about a referendum on the EU Treaty in the UK: it’s the British media. The Economist blog, Certain ideas of Europe, does a good job of showing them up, on the basis of a Sun article copied elsewhere, that refers to European judges as ‘unelected’ as if English judges were elected and places the ECJ in Luxembourg.

3. Audio: During the German train strike, rob-log produced a spoof ICE announcement to passengers (in German, but with a very authentic-sounding attempt at a brief English message at the end): …bitten wir kurz um Ihre Aufmerksamkeit…

Pied piper of Hamelin / Rattenfänger in Spanien

The plague of the common vole (Microtus arvalis, Feldmaus) in Spain this year has led to desperate measures such as burning.

Such drastic measures are only permitted by European Union officials in exceptional circumstances and many observers are questioning why the EU has wasted so much time and money in dragging voles through the courts on previous occasions when burning them to death is so much quicker, cheaper and effective.

This precept could be applied to many court cases.

It’s a shame they are not the right food for the vultures that have now emigrated to the Netherlands after carcasses were no longer left out on the hills.

I’m not sure that driving the voles with ultrasound to where they can be burned or drowned is quite the same as the Pied Piper of Hamelin luring them away with music. But perhaps the playing of various instruments in Villotilla is?

According to my book on European mammals, the common vole is breeds faster than any other mammal. One vole lives for 4 – 5 months and can produce 500 descendants in that time. If the population is too dense, they attack each other and may even eat weaker ones. The situation improves when there is mass death, usually at the beginning of the cold weather.

Thanks to Trevor, who is taking the vole plague with equanimity.

EU reform treaty / EU-Reform-Vertrag

EUobserver reports that last Thursday, Giuliano Amato said “They [EU leaders] decided that the document should be unreadable. If it is unreadable, it is not constitutional, that was the sort of perception”.

He said that if the document was unreadable, it would make it easier for the UK prime minister to say there is no need for a referendum.

The speech was recorded by UK based think tank Open Europe. It is also available on YouTube.
“This is an extraordinary admission from someone who has been close to the negotiations on the EU treaty”, said Open Europe director Neil O’Brien.
“The idea of just changing the name of the Constitution and pretending that it is just another complex treaty shows a total contempt for voters.”

But quite a few voters have been worn down by the misinformation constantly appearing in the press. I’d heard that to sell the treaty in the UK, it was necessary for it not to be called a constitution – no matter what was in it.

The organization Open Europe has a weblog. The heading of its report on this matter is ‘Loathsome Smugness’. I am not sure it separates fact and comment, but I suppose that’s the thing about blogs.

EC Asparagus Directive/EG Spargel-Richtlinie

Here it is in German, with links to all other languages.

We don’t talk of translation here – all versions of the EU directives are original legal texts. But this is odd:

in Erwägung nachstehender Gründe:
(1) Spargel ist in Anhang I der Verordnung (EG) Nr. 2200/96 als eines der Erzeugnisse aufgeführt, für die Normen festzulegen sind.

(1) asparagus are among the products listed in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 2200/96 for which standards must be adopted.

And again later:

The condition of the asparagus must be such as to enable them:

Asparagus is treated as a plural! But what about this?

Asparagus is graded into three classes defined below:

In fact, plural and singular use are mixed. This means that a number of lawyers drafting legislation for the EU are capable of writing a text without being consistent as to whether the main term is singular or plural. Why am I not surprised?

The OED has no illustrations of this, although others seem to want to count.

I see asparagus as a mass noun/uncountable. German has Spargel, but counts as Spargelstangen and Spargelköpfe.

And here’s some of the important bit:

Die Spargelstangen werden nach ihrer Färbung in vier Gruppen eingeteilt:
1. weißer Spargel;
2. violetter Spargel: der Spargelkopf muß eine rosa bis violettpurpurne und ein Teil der Spargelstange muß eine weiße Färbung aufweisen;
3. violett-grüner Spargel: Spargel mit teilweise violetter und grüner Färbung;
4. Grünspargel: der Spargelkopf und der größte Teil der Spargelstange müssen eine grüne Färbung aufweisen.
Diese Norm gilt nicht für Grünspargel und violett-grünen Spargel mit einem Durchmesser von weniger als 3 mm und für weißen und violetten Spargel mit einem Durchmesser von weniger als 8 mm, der in einheitlichen Bündeln oder Packstücken abgepackt ist.

Asparagus shoots are classified into four groups according to colour:
1. white asparagus;
2. violet asparagus, having tips of a colour between pink and violet or purple and a part of the shoot white;
3. violet/green asparagus, part of which is of violet and green colouring;
4. green asparagus having tips and most of the shoot green.
This standard does not apply to green and violet/green asparagus of less than 3 mm diameter and white and violet asparagus of less than 8 mm diameter, packed in uniform bundles or unit packages.