Small Business Act / Gesetz zur Förderung von Kleinunternehmen

The new Small Business Act (Gesetz zur Förderung von Kleinunternehmen, Kleinunternehmerförderungsgesetz, KFG): here, the Federal Finance Ministry lays down the form for the statement on excess of receipts over expenses that has to be submitted by professionals /freelances and small businesses that do not have to submit a balance sheet. (That was a mouthful!) There are PDF files containing the form.

Gesetz zur Förderung von Kleinunternehmen: das Bundesfinanzministerium hat genaue Richtlinien für die Form der Einnahme-Überschuss-Rechnung festgelegt für Freiberufler und nicht bilanzierungspflichtige Kleinunternehmen. PDF-Dateien enthalten das Formular.

From Handakte WebLAWg via AdvobLAWg.

Weblog software

What shall I do with this weblog? I’ve long since reached the point where Movable Type won’t post fully. I get a 500 error screen, then I have to rebuild the index, and everything looks OK. I don’t know if I have a defective table in MySQL, or if it’s just a bandwidth problem.

My provider is domainfactory, and I’m happy with them. They temporarily gave me 20 MB transfer space instead of 10, but it didn’t help. However, the recommended U.S. site Blogomania gives from 13,000 to 18,000 MB transfer bandwidth, and this is a big difference. I think, however, that domainfactory is normal for German standards.

Alternatives: I am probably going to switch providers and take my domain name with me, thus leaving all links in place. Wurchblog did this successfully to a small provider specializing in weblogs. (Wurch is a great name for a blogger, and it even appears to be genuine). Mind you, he’s on a Mac, so he could try Tinderbox, which isn’t out for Windows yet.

I could get my own server, but I haven’t yet reached the point where I want to do that.

Here’s a list of weblog software.


Movable Type problems: I am dependent on the server. I managed to install it OK but it will be a pain to move. I certainly won’t move servers a second time, but start a new weblog with different software – but I suppose I haven’t really got time to do that now. If I want a question answered, I may be lucky – there’s a volunteer-run forum and even a Wiki now. Commercial users should get more help (I haven’t succeeded in getting that). People who’ve been through the same thing post once and then disappear into the ether. I don’t know enough about scripts and my questions are probably irritating to long-term users.

Typepad: easier to use, but would involve having a new blog with different links, if I left the old one in place. Or maybe I could import my entries, but I think the links would still change. Typepad has superb features, but only the Pro version would allow me to change ‘About me’ into the ‘Impressum’ required by German law. See the site of Ernie the Attorney. He runs a serious law blog. See the ‘About me’ at the top left, including biography. It is too inflexible. Typepad is obviously catering to those who like to put private diaries online, as in LiveJournal, with ‘What I’m reading’ and so on. – I couldn’t run my other website on the same server as Typepad, but I could use domain mapping so they appeared to run on the same site. Still, I would need two providers.

pMachine looks good, but it needs learning and it may well have the same posting problems as Movable Type.

I toyed with the idea of joining the Austrian / German twoday community. This has two problems for me: firstly, I get the impression that the standard format irritates me visually. Secondly, if I used comments, I think you have to log in, and it’s a German-language community, whereas a lot of my readers speak English – I suppose in theory they should speak German too, of course.

Most interesting to me is Radio Userland. That would run on my computer and could easily be moved to another provider. Still, when I read about it, it has the same problems as MT, that it’s hard to get help. It looks easy out of the box, but if you want to do something more advanced, the materials are said to be hard to understand. These things are all relative, but without trying it out it’s impossible to say.

Probably I will change provider now and keep the alternative up my sleeve if I ever get in this position again.

I don’t want to run down Movable Type, which is a wonderful program to use, but of course it’s only when you use these things that you realize what problems you have with them.

German report on American law

Californian marketing company fined $2m for sending unsolicited emails.

The German American Law Journal blog cites a report from (newsfeed available) and is worried that German readers may get the wrong impression. They might think there is a law and precedent for the whole of the USA, whereas this is just California and the jury’s verdict may be revised.

The Tagesschau report does say it was a California court and a California statute, so I wonder where the problem is. Perhaps it is the fact that ‘California’ is not mentioned in the first paragraph, which traditionally sums up the whole story.

The German American Law Journal blog says:
For instance, whenever juries deliver astounding verdicts, the German press points to them as examples of American excessiveness, without noting that such verdicts frequently suffer a remittitur. As a result, even 10 years later you hear Germans refer to that verdict as typifying the American legal system, without the benefit of knowing at least foggily what they are talking about and how wrong and embarrassing such statements are.

(Link to a definition for remittitur is given.

As the GALJ blog also points out, mistaken ideas about German law are also rife in the USA.

Ostalgia enters the English language

I can’t imagine WordSpy’s latest word, ostalgia, has a big future outside German (Ostalgie), but quotes from The New Republic (see below), Newsweek, and the International Herald Tribune back it up.

bq. “Die DDR Show” and at least three other retro programs like it are riding an unprecedented wave of nostalgia for all things East. Communist-era products that had long disappeared from German supermarket shelves are enjoying rapidly rising sales. Reissues of East German films and music are selling like hotcakes, as are a slew of new books by young authors telling tales of their childhood in the East.

It would probably be better to watch these TV programs with someone from the east. For a more in-depth view (in German), see Ostblog.

I sometimes translate texts about reunification, and I have acquired Das große Lexikon des DDR-Alltags.

ICC Elements of crime/’Verbrechenselemente’

I had one question about the ICC (last entry on the topic). The term ‘elements of crime’ in the Statute of Rome is rendered in the official German version as ‘Verbrechenselemente’.

I asked why not Tatbestandsmerkmale. I got an interesting answer but it left me confused. Dr. Kaup said, ‘I’m glad you asked this – it gives me a chance to say something about “elements of crime”‘. Apparently the elements of crime were added by the Americans (before they decided not to ratify the Statute!). They were insistent on having these elements. We in Germany don’t have such a thing. Elements are like a list of requirements, a checklist that you tick off (Mr Casey was invited to give a better definition, but this definition is OK). – I was told that German law and international law doesn’t look at offences like this. I said I don’t need to understand the English, I need to understand the German, but obviously that was of no interest to many of the audience, and Dr. Sheldon told me that it’s legal translation we’re talking about, and it isn’t just like translating Bleistift as pencil. Huh! That shut me up.

In my opinion, elements has two meanings. Either it means actus reus and mens rea (these are close to the German objektiver Tatbestand and subjektiver Tatbestand), or it means smaller components of both those.

For instance, theft is defined in English law as follows:

bq. A person is guilty of theft if he (1) dishonestly (2) appropriates (3) property (4) belonging to another (5) with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and ‘thief’ and ‘steal’ shall be construed accordingly.
Theft Act 1968, s. 1

You could say theft has either 5 elements, or 2 – the actus reus (which is numbers 2, 3, and 4) and the mens rea (which is number 1 and 5)

But the German definition of theft is not so different

bq. Wer eine fremde bewegliche Sache einem anderen in der Absicht wegnimmt, die Sache sich oder einem Dritten rechtswidrig zuzueignen, wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu fünf Jahren oder mit Geldstrafe bestraft.
Strafgesetzbuch § 242
(A person who deprives another of movable property belonging to another with the intention of appropriating the property to himself or to another person shall be sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years or to a fine.)

Well, I need to look at a students’ textbook to see, but I think those elements are dealt with similarly in German.

Anyway, without pursuing that any further, I looked at the Statute again when I got home and saw that the elements of crimes were actually published as a separate document. I even mentioned this here, but without giving it much thought.

(I also saw that mental element (a more up-to-date version of mens rea) was translated as subjective Tatbestandsmerkmale). I wonder if they didn’t run out of vocabulary before adding the later elements of crime document.)

So we get in the Rome Statute, Article 6:

bq. For the purpose of this Statute, ‘genocide’ means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group,

and in the Elements of Crimes, we get:

bq. Article 6 (a)
Genocide by killing
1. The perpetrator killed2 one or more persons.
2. Such person or persons belonged to a particular national, ethnical, racial or
religious group.
3. The perpetrator intended to destroy, in whole or in part, that national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such.
4. The conduct took place in the context of a manifest pattern of similar conduct
directed against that group or was conduct that could itself effect such destruction.

I must admit, that makes sense to me. Why would it not make sense to the Germans? Well, it may be unusual in international criminal law, and it may be typical of civil law systems not to flesh things out in the statute, but I really think German criminal law and English criminal law are not far enough apart for elements and Tatbestandsmerkmale not to match up.

Law in Friday’s foreign press – JURIST

For over a week now, JURIST has had a column called Law in Today’s Foreign Press. Today’s entry gives links, inter alia, to the Independent story on the first woman law lord in Britain (sorry, that was the Guardian link – here’s the Independent one), Dame Brenda Hale, being appointed next year (vocabulary of lords and ladies has varied over the years). Other links are to Guardian reports on trademark claims in the European Court of Justice, and a new motor vehicle law being drafted in China under which motorists would be held liable for any traffic accident with a pedestrian.

VOA broadcasts in simplified English

Voice of America broadcasts in simplified English, called Special English. You can also listen to programs stored on the website or download them. Only 1,500 words are used, and you can download a file containing all the words.

I tried listening to a news broadcast but couldn’t stand it because every word was carefully separated from the next. That’s what a lot of Germans do when they learn English – they carry it over from German instead of running the words together. There would be little hope for them after listening to this.

I got this from Maddog, and it’s just a pretext for another Maddog link, totally off topic for me: the use of a ceramic fly on the urinal at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, to improve aim (with photo). Apparently this goes back to a bee in 19th-century England (the Latin word for bee, apis, being a pun). This link in turn I got from Transmogriflaw, who presumably has as little cause as I have to be interested in Dutch urinals.

Amazon text search has indexed some of the text of 120,000 books and you can search it. FAQ here.

You have to register and give a credit card number (for security reasons, they say) in order to use the feature, at least if you haven’t got an account. They haven’t indexed all the pages of any book. The publisher’s permission has to have been given, so some whole books or parts of books won’t be available. Still, I can imagine this being useful for a lot of translators, although its purpose is to show people enough of the books for them to decide whether to buy them or not (a bit like the present feature that shows you some pages of a book).

From Languagehat, who got it from MetaFilter.