Question: Which thinker taught you to think?

Out on the streets of Tehran the opposition is protesting, disputing the June 12 election. The brutality being used against them by the riot police is just horrible. I’ve read that this election and the US election of 2000 are both being discussed as “stolen elections” and being compared, as if they were shades of the same kind of thing. Now, that’s very misguided. Come on. If Americans had taken to the streets in 2000, they would not have been shot down. The stolen US election of 2000 was very, very unfortunate! But the stolen Iranian election of 2009 is a crime against civil society. It’s a real pity when people start comparing apples and oranges.

I don’t pretend to be a great thinker. Going to college didn’t go to my head, but the experience did teach me to use it. So I’d like to ask you: Which thinker taught you to think? For me, one of the most important thinkers was Jürgen Habermas, who turned 80 last Thursday. His belief in our communicative competence and his theory of communicative reason influenced the way I think and live. Let me tell you about him in this week’s podcast.

I’d love to read what you have to say about a person who taught you how to think, and why that person is important to you.

Think! Use your head!
If something goes to your head (in den Kopf steigen) you become arrogant.
A heady experience is one that leaves you excited and high (berauschend). College was a heady experience for me.

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Question: What do you do alone, by yourself, on your own?

One may be the loneliest number, and no man is an island, but some things are better, or turn out better, when you do them yourself. The process itself may be more effective or rewarding. Or the product may be better or more enjoyable if it’s (mostly) yours. Perhaps you have learned to do something and there is just nobody else who can do it as well, even though you’re banging your head to find someone to delegate it to or share the job with. So you do it yourself.

Let me tell you about the things I find myself doing alone in this week’s podcast. And I’d like to hear from you about what you prefer to do alone. Please post your response as a comment, or as a link in the comment section below. If you want to join this project with a blog of your own but are not sure how to start off, read this, watch this video, or get in touch with me.

Do it yourselfselbst machen: I made this jam myself.
Do it (all) by yourself1. ohne (jegliche) Hilfe; I can’t lift this by myself, it’s too heavy. Wow – she did it all by herself.
2. (völlig) in sich versunken: I was in the garden (all) by myself.

Do it on your ownaus eigenem Antrieb; I’d prefer if you cleaned up on your own. Don’t tell me, let me figure it out on my own.
Do it aloneunbegleitet; “I want to be alone.” (Marlene Dietrich)

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Starting an EFL blogging group

Are you feeling clueless about what a blog is and how to set one up to become part of the Island Weekly blogging project group? I’ve made a video for you.

Set up your blog here: or here:

If you’d like to see what a Posterous blog looks like, have a look at mine: With Posterous, you don’t even have to set up your blog. Just post an email to The subject line (Betreffzeile) will be the title, and the text will be your post. After you have sent off your first email you will get an email from Posterus asking you to “claim the site”. Follow the link and give your blog a name.  Posterous asks you to use your name, but instead you can use any name, so instead of “annehodgson” just give your blog an imaginary, imaginative name.

After your first post and claiming your blog, you always post to Posterous by sending an email to That automatically posts to your own blog, and you get a confirmation email with the link. It doesn’t get any simpler than that!

“EFL” stands for “English as a foreign language”. I’d be especially pleased if people who are working on their English would join our group.

Questions? Comments? Just click on the “comment/s” button below this entry.

Question: What’s your happy day?

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but several magazines here in Germany (Spiegel and Focus) have featured “happiness” as their title story. Well, it’s clearly a good thing to think about and discuss. The Beatles sang “Happiness is a warm gun”, with more than a touch of irony. For me, happiness is a wet sailboat, or more specifically, a wet catamaran. Here you see me rigging the “Seebock”, which got its name because it once threw Helmut off and sailed away without him across the lake. Listen to the podcast, and I’ll tell you what exactly it is about sailing that makes me happy.


So : What makes your day happy? Or can you describe a really happy day? Please post your response with a link to this question post, or comment below. If you’re not sure how to start off, read this or get in touch with me by email.

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Question: Heroes or victims of circumstance?

It’s Memorial Day weekend, a national holiday dedicated to the soldiers who have fallen serving their country. By definition, that makes them heroes. Or are fallen soldiers victims of circumstance? Soldiers have a very important job to do, and we ask them to do their duty for us. Does doing that duty make them heroes? What exactly are we celebrating here? This is an issue I admit to being very confused about, as you can tell from my muddleheaded podcast.

What do you think: Are we right in asking soldiers to do their duty? Are they heroes or victims of circumstance?

Please post your response with a link to this question post, or comment.

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You’re invited to the Island Weekly Question

Writing clears and frees up the mind. It’s also a great way to improve your language skills. So I’d like to invite you to join a blogging group.

Each week, you’ll find a question here. Respond in your own blog and link to the question post, so that others can find your response. If you don’t have a blog, add a comment here.  But it takes just a minute to set up your own free space, which is good for all sorts of things. Isarblick recommended – you just write an email with an attachment and ping! you’ve got a blogpost that you can edit. If you’d like to see what a Posterous blog looks like, have a look at mine: Or, where Google helps readers find you quickly. Or Or use Facebook or StudiVZ or or wherever you and your friends are communicating anyway. Just remember to write your link in the comments section below my question post so that other readers can find you.

Write in German or English – if you’re not a native speaker, you’ll find practice makes perfect – or with a picture you draw or take or a video or podcast you make. This is an open project. Just an invitation to bring something to the barbecue. Oder am Stöckchen teilnehmen. Come to the BYOB party (bring your own beer). Come as you are.

Island Weekly Question Day is Sunday. Respond any day of the week.