Future

Uterus Groove, The Babypod Lets You Pump Music Into The Womb

"Hello fetus listeners ..." The Babypod is a speaker that, inserted vaginally, will expose a fetus to music of your choice inside the womb. But what kind of music should we choose?

Don't Worry Baby
Don't Worry Baby
Alena Schroder

-Essay-

MUNICH â€" This column will, for once, deviate from its usual pattern and begin with a small exercise in abstract thinking, as this time around we will not be talking about sex, but about babies. How these two are related is something you might want to Google for yourself. And when you have done that you can rejoice, as 2016 will be known as the year in the history of mankind in which a serious lack of knowledge was successfully addressed.

This lack of knowledge is one that expectant parents have always felt most keenly, as they ask themselves: How can we stimulate our child’s intellectual development while he or she is still in the womb?

Spanish researchers have delivered the answer to this most pressing question by developing the Babypod, a speaker that is inserted vaginally and allows a fetus to listen to music. Every unborn little genius can now be exposed to Mozart’s music for hours on end, for a mere 150 euros, so that the synapses in his or her brain can form new connections and thrive.

But what to do if parents want more variety for their unborn child? Say, a specifically designed program of music, useful information and entertainment? Never fear: The radio channel 99.9 Radiogaga FM provides a program tailored to the needs of the Babypod user, broadcasting live to the uterus of your choice via the Babypod. Let’s listen in for a bit.

“Hello fetus listeners, that last track was Britney Spears with ‘Hit Me Baby, One More Time.’ I hope all of you have been kicking along to the beat? Don’t forget, if you are kicking, try to aim for the bladder! And for those of you who are already in the head-down-position, a kick to the spleen is also quite neat, especially now that your host is lying down on the couch and trying to relax. Just keep on kicking! You already are the movers and shakers of your generation!"

"Right, let’s leave the exercise regime behind and get to the latest traffic news: No further obstructions in the parturient canal. Only little Maximilian Meyer in Unterföhring is experiencing a disturbance through someone coming towards him from the wrong end of the birth canal. But not to worry, that’s just your dad and he will be finished in a minute. Let’s continue with some music! Here are The Doors with "Break On Through (To the Other Side)"..."

"And here we are again on 99.9 Radiogaga FM. Next up: Chinese vocabulary words of the day. Hétóng means "completion of a contract." Repeat after me: Hétóng. The next word is JiÇŽngjÄ«n, meaning "bonus payment." All together: JiÇŽngjÄ«n. And the last word for today is Bìshuì, meaning "tax-saving model." Repeat after me: Bìshuì. Well? Have you all been able to commit this to your subconscious memory, you sweet little cell amalgamations? And next up, our personal shout-outs to our listeners. Today’s shout-out is from Horst Müller of Bad Salzuflen: ‘Dear Sophia Aurelia, I am not your father and your mother is a lying bitch.’ Goodness, that was a bit emotional … Let’s continue with some more music, this is Madonna with ‘Papa Don’t Preach.’"

"Well, here we are again on 99.9 Radiogaga FM, your station for the most boring months of your existence, so boring, in fact, that you won’t even remember them later on. Time for some ads now. Are you stressed? Suffer from insomnia and restlessness? Are you longing for inner peace? Then ‘White Noise’ is right for you! Available as an MP3, a CD box set or in a special vinyl edition! More than 100 hours of murmuring gurgle sounds await you on this brilliant compilation. Be enchanted by such realistic sounds as ‘hairdryer,’ ‘extractor fan,’ ‘Mom’s flatulencies,’ ‘dishwasher’ or ‘Mom’s heartbeat.’ Recommended by all leading psychotherapists! A bit more music now: Here is Metallica with ‘Enter Sandman,’ and it’s goodnight from me here at the studio. Sleep tight everyone."

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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