Chris DeBurgh is Alive!

It's the last Saturday in January, so that means it must be time for the Winter Festival of Folk Music!! I poured myself a nice mug of Glühwein, fired up a gigantic joint cinnamon-scented candle, and switched on ARD.

And who should I see but one of the many washed-up underappreciated stars of the Anglosphere who have found refuge in Germany — Chris DeBurgh. Here, DeBurgh — who clambered onto the edge of the Anglosphere's radar screen in the mid-1980s and then disappeared forever — sings a duet with Florian Silbereisen.

I had assumed that DeBurgh was moldering in permanent rehab or running a B & B by now, but he's alive, kicking, and…step-dancing:

Note: Apparently Sony Music, as part of the music business' ingenious business strategy, has decided to prevent Germans from seeing this video, which was broadcast on a German public television station just two days ago. Your TV taxes at work! This software (which is annoying but effective) can help.

UPDATE: Found a clip that seems to work better, who knows for how long…

Kantian Hangover

Over at Crooked Timber, there's a discussion of the German Federal Constitutional Court's case on shooting down hijacked airplanes:

In the UK we are being treated to a rich and enjoyable series of programmes on Justice featuring Michael Sandel . No doubt there will be quibblers, but I think he’s done a great job so far. Last night’s episode discussed Bentham, Kant and Aristotle and, for my money, both utilitarians (in the shape of Peter Singer) and various German Kant-fans came across as slightly unhinged. The moment that most summed this up, however, was discussion of the German Constitutional Court’s Kant-inspired dismissal of a law that would allow the federal authorities to shoot down a hijacked airliner destined to crash into a city with catastrophic loss of life. Judgement here . According to these Kantians, even if the passengers are doomed to die in the next few minutes and shooting-down the plane will save many lives on the ground, to attack the airliner would show a lack of respect for their human diginity, purposiveness, endiness etc. and so is forbidden. For me, that looks like a reductio.

A comment:

[I]t’s at least not at all obvious that Kant would require the decision the German court suggests here. I’ve only skimmed it, but the idea that, in such a case, the government would be “intentionally” killing the innocent passengers is at least not obvious, and I don’t see why Kant would have to accept that, so it seems more the reasoning of the court that’s to blame than Kant here. (I’m not sure that Chris is saying otherwise.) The court seems to suggest that either we are merely doing a crass utilitarian balancing of lives here or else we must say this course of action is completely impermissible, but that’s just wrong (and not something Kant is committed to, I think.)

As an American lawyer, however, what interests me is that the case could be brought at all. I’m not a huge fan of the rules of standing in the US, but I’m fairly sure that here the people who brought the complaint would not have had standing to do so, and in this case that doesn’t seem an unreasonable outcome.

Kafka the “Muscle Jew”

Sarah Wildman describes the short, ingenious workout system that had Mitteleuropeans — including Kafka — gyrating into the 20th century:

At the turn of the last century, Müller's wildly popular cult of physical fitness swept Mitteleuropa, turning parlor-sitting dandies from Copenhagen to Berlin to London into ironmen. Müller's My System was published first in 1904 as little more than a long, bound pamphlet graced with an image of the Greek athlete Apoxyomenos naked and toweling himself. The exercise guide, which promised that just "15 minutes a day" of prescribed* exercise would make "weaklings" into strong men (and women), was ultimately translated into 25 languages, reprinted dozens of times, and sold briskly well into the 20th century.

The Müller system … is something like a precursor to Pilates, it borrows from ballet, and it needs no equipment, other than commitment. It is strict but appealingly accessible. Unlike some of the other popular physical fitness gurus of the time—including the Prussian Eugene Sandow, who is known as the father of bodybuilding—Müller wasn't interested in building muscle mass through dumbbells. And while My System wasn't only aimed at men—in his original pamphlet, he explains that a woman needs to develop a "muscular corset" (that is, core muscles)—Müller, eventually, added to his bookshelf, writing My System for Ladies and My System for Children. There was also the remedial My Breathing System for those for whom, trapped in a Victorian sartorial nightmare, respiration had to be taught.

You can read Muller's book here. It's full of good old Mitteleuropean common sense. I may actually try out the system myself. After all, if it was good enough for Kafka…