Ich werde reisen an den Bodensee

Good news for me! I get to spend a week in Germany, attending the Nobel Laureate meetings at Lindau on 28 June-3 July. I get to have all the fun, but at least you’ll benefit indirectly, since I’ll be regularly blogging the talks here. In English. You wouldn’t want to see the butchery I would do to the lovely German language.

I was looking over the schedule, and what jumped out at me right after seeing all those great titles was that they are actually confining Nobel laureates to only half-hour talks. That will be something to see, too.


  1. says

    Well, I think it is time to move things in order to nominate PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins as Peace Nobel Prize candidates. Next year we want PZ at Landau blogging… and lecturing.

  2. Steve LaBonne says

    I was looking over the schedule, and what jumped out at me right after seeing all those great titles was that they are actually confining Nobel laureates to only half-hour talks. That will be something to see, too.

    I remember way back in grad school attending a yeast meeting in which the late Elizabeth Jones, as formidable a lady as she was a scientist, was a session chair. When a speaker already well over his time allotment said “next slide”, she boomed out in her big, deep voice, “LAST slide!” And so it was. That’s how it’s done!

  3. JJR says

    Ich werde an den Bodensee reisen.

    (verb + infinitive @ end)


    Ich reise an den Bodensee
    (present tense verb, but implied future event)

    /ex-German teacher pedant]

    Nun, mach doch Spass!
    (“Have Fun!”)

    Alles Gute!
    (“Best Wishes!”)

  4. Hank Bones says

    “Building and Breeding Molecules for Fun and Profit” by Prof. Dr. Roger Y. Tsien.

    Sounds a bit like a Baby Farm to me. Thats the kind of organic farming I can put my weight behind.

  5. oriole says

    I live pretty close to the conference, in Zurich. Any chance of a couple rounds of beers with Pharyngula ex-pats în the area in some lovely German Kneipe?

  6. Wayne Robinson says

    And if you drive, always remember where you park your car, so you can ask for directions if you forget where. “Einbahnstrasse” is always a good street to park on.

  7. says

    Hey! I’m not a zillion kilometres away, albeit not as close as oriole, and “a couple rounds of beers with Pharyngula ex-pats în the area” is an intriguing idea…

  8. Chris Davis says

    Aha! There’s a restaurant on the west shore that serves… well… bloody awful fish, actually.

    Best avoided, all things considered.

  9. says

    I was invited by the organizers, who last year supported bloggers from scienceblogs.de.

    I’m hoping there will be free time to meet with any local Pharyngula readers…but of course, I also have some professional obligations to the organizers to attend and report on the meetings.

  10. Devysciple says

    Hmmm, PZ will be only 377km (235m) away from where I live… guess that’s the closest I’ll ever get to you. Unfortunately, I have neither the spare time nor the money to actually make the trip :(

    A few hints, though: Don’t go to Switzerland for some decent beer. They have awesome chocolate and great cheese, but no one (except maybe the Chech people) can compete with Bavaria in terms of beer (oh, and maybe some Belgian monks).

    Don’t confuse the grumpiness of Bavarian waitresses with unfriendliness; it’s our special way to show our appreciation of our guests.

    Make sure to check out as many local food specialties as possible (sorry, no squid though).

    Should anything go wrong: The German equivalent of 911 is 110. But don’t count on any Bavarian policeman being able to understand, much less speak, English in a comprehensible way.

    If you have more urgent questions, I’ll be happy to answer them.

    Viel Spaß! (Have Fun!)

  11. Richard Smith says

    Regarding the half-hour time limit, maybe they’ll borrow Miss Sweety Poo to tell long-winded laureates that she’s bored…

  12. Mrs Tilton says

    Well, if that’s where you’re headed in Germany, it’d be something more like “Ha leck mi am Arsch, i werd fai an den Bodesee reise, gell!”

    It’s a lovely part of the country, as many have noted. Maybe I’ll even make the trek down from the far frozen north.

  13. says

    I was there last year as one of the ScienceBlogs.de Bloggers that wrote about the conference and it was really amazing! As a “media representative” I didn’t had the opportunity to join the discussions with the laureates – but even so, it was much more interesting than any other conference I ever visited. Plus, Lindau and the Bodensee are really, really beautiful!

  14. says

    Nun, mach doch Spass!
    (“Have Fun!”)

    “Macht doch Spass” means “it is fun”. “Viel Spass!” means “have fun” (literally “much fun”).

  15. 'Tis Himself says

    When in Zurich, go to UBS or Credit Suisse and ask to meet one of the famous gnomes.

  16. Tezcatlipoca says

    einbahnstrasse! LOL! I actually saw someone try that at einbahnstrasse by Michigan State University between Trowbridge Rd and Spartan Village. I am sooo jealous about your trip also.


  17. molecanthro says

    Hey! That’s not too far from me…I’m just a few hours drive away at the MPI in Leipzig.
    Will you have time for any sightseeing/drinks with your busy schedule? You should see if other Germans (or wandering PhD students;) are around…it’s just by Frankfurt.

  18. molecanthro says

    Oops…I thought you said Landau instead of Lindau…still, only a bit over 4 hours (on the autobahn anyway ;)
    It’s beautiful in that area…spent a few weeks near Innsbruck last year and loved it! We were planning on driving down to Italy this summer and stopping in Munich anyway, so let your loyal readers know if you’ll have a night out for some tasty German beer.

  19. grasshopper says

    Some of Mark Twain’s comments on the German language

    My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years. It seems manifest, then, that the latter tongue ought to be trimmed down and repaired. If it is to remain as it is, it ought to be gently and reverently set aside among the dead languages, for only the dead have time to learn it.

    In early times some sufferer had to sit up with a toothache, and he put in the time inventing the German language.

    It’s awful undermining to the intellect, German is; you want to take it in small doses, or first you know your brains all run together, and you feel them flapping around in your head same as so much drawn butter.

    There is much, much more.

    Stay optimistic, PZ.

  20. Adrian T says

    PZ – above all, make sure you sample the great Kristallweizen beers! german beer is truly one of the world’s great wonders.

  21. Kaela Mensha Khaine says

    Ahh … always lovable, when american people are visiting the Heimat … viewing something familiar through the strange eyes (and even stranger worldview) of the new world.
    *Is hoping to get interesting stories in gratuitous german afterwards*

  22. David Marjanović, OM says

    Nun, mach doch Spass!
    (“Have Fun!”)

    WTF? Do they say that somewhere in Germany? Where I come from, that would mean the rather nonsensical “now, be enjoyable”!

    auf den Autobahn

    Auf der Autobahn. A highway is a she – it would be a he if it actually were a way… :-)

  23. X. Wolp says

    #24 : but that is proper Bavaria, we are talking of the utter outmost corner here.
    And everybody knows Swabonia is not really a part of Bavaria anyway.

    When in doubt what to expect in a traditional Bavarian restaurant one should always consult Monty Python (“Ja in Bavaria, where the trees are made of wood”)

  24. catta says

    Great! If any kind of meeting is going, I’d consider dropping by even though it’s all at the wrong… er, other end of Germany.

    So, will we manage to compile a phrasebook until June? “Ich bekomme Post” (I get mail), “Es ist nur ein Keks!” (It’s just a cookie/cracker), “Da, wo ich herkomme, sind acht Arme ganz normal!” (Where I come from, eight arms are perfectly normal)…

  25. Sven says

    I’m slightly jealous, I spent a summer in Lindau years ago, it’s beautiful, situated in a gorgeous valley with a beautiful lake.
    Don’t be tempted to drink the Stroh Rum, though, that stuff will scorch your throat (it’s 160 proof).

  26. Jochen Bedersdorfer says

    You go to Bavaria? Ahh, forget about all the german you might have learned. These guys in south germany have a very funny accent, which for you means: you won’t understand a word.
    Some of these local natives won’t even try to speak proper german!

    But fear not, english is our second language, at least for the younger generation.

    Have fun down there!

  27. Gerry L says

    Ahh, Lindau. I used to vacation there when I lived in Germany. Please report back about whether the orchestra still performs several times a day on the waterfront.

  28. gaypaganunitarianagnostic says

    2nd the suggestion of the Zeppelin ride. Airships have fascinated me from childhood – I would love to fly aboard an NTZ. Saw one at the Port of Beaumont a while back.

  29. Thalia says

    Nice! I live about an hour west of Lindau, between Lindau and Zurich. I didn’t think I’d ever be that close to PZ :-)
    I won’t be at the conference, but I’m always up for a beer!

  30. OurSally says

    Das freut mich ausserordentlich!

    I live there too. So many of the commenters seem to live nearby, I think we should organise a Treff. I suggest the Golden Lamm, the best genuine Bavarian Wirtshaus in Lindau. What do you say?

  31. OurSally says

    Second comment: I have been on a Zeppelin ride. Family and friends organised it for my 50th birthday. It cost a small fortune, I understand, but was worth every penny.
    If you want to go book it now, because there is a waiting list, and if the weather is bad it gets postponed.

  32. Anonymous says

    Oh, so you are coming to Bavaria? I’m down there that week, let’s go get drunk!

  33. Felix says

    I wish I lived close enough to join a Treffen. Anyway, those of you who do decide to meet, take care to reserve a large table right in everyone’s view, and demonstrate that you are a group of strident and militant atheists, by typically not offending anyone and tipping graciously, no Gottseisgedankt involved thank you. They just luuurve us down there.

  34. Gavin Mcbride says

    I am also a Germany local these days, having moved here from Ireland. So let me know if you need anything during your stay, including german translations or a place to stay.

  35. says


    can’t wait to read you travel stories and hope to see some pictures (you still have that DSLR of yours?), Lindau is very, very nice.

    As for Kristallweizen: some like it, I don’t. Don’t judge German beers only by what Bavarians mistakingly take it for ;)

    Best, K

  36. That German Guy says

    Oh, so you are coming to Bavaria? I’m down there that week, let’s go get drunk!

  37. Scott K says

    I live up in Wiesbaden but don’t think I could make it down to meet up. Still, if something gets organized, I’d consider it.

  38. Equisetum says

    I’ll definitely try to make to any meetings. Just say when and where.

    Oh, yeah: Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel. Best freakin’ beer in the world.

    Viel Spaß!

  39. says

    Aha! I live in West Munich, not a million miles from there. I’ve been here over a year and never yet made it to Bodensee (or Lake Constance to those of you of a less tutonic persuasion). I’m told it’s a beautiful place so enjoy!

    I shall think of you now every time I cycle along Bodenseestrasse.

    As for the limited time for speakers, well perhaps they are following the north German way:

    nich’ lang schnacken Kopp in Nacken.

  40. Chris says

    German? A lovely language? You must have smoked dope, man.

    Let me quote Dan Sorenson on that:
    Germans, of course, have no love life. They can’t, since whispering “I love you” to your sweetie sounds just the same as telling her that you wish to eviscerate her corpse and place the head on a spear in the front yard as a warning to others.

    My mom’s German, and since I grew up near Heidelberg, I fully agree with Dan.

  41. says

    Dear PZ,
    congratulations to your invitation to Lindau — Lindau and the Lake of Constance is a lovely place, if not the loveliest. Actually, it is quite close to the place where I grew up (less than 30 km) and I might be back home around that time, too. So let me (us) know if there is a chance of meeting for a beer or something.

    In terms of leisure time activities, I can highly recommend a bicycle tour from Lindau to Friedrichshafen (30 km one way), where you’ll pass through a couple of lovely villages and have a splendid view of the Alps.

  42. Peter Ashby says

    Come on now PZ, when was the last meeting you went to when the heavyweights felt constrained by the nominal time limits? Besides if the audience were so worried they would walk out and head for the coffee and strüdel which they never do. Not even the prospect that people in other sessions might scoff all the comestibles will do it. They finish when they want to finish, not before.

  43. Rorschach says

    mal locker bleiben,500km ist ja nun gar nichts in den USA,reitet man doch auf einer Backe ab !

  44. Thanatopsis says

    Lindau… Thats just 250km from Tuebingen… I might just make it too. But by the number of commenters that wish to attend we might just need to actually reserve the whole room and not just a table.

  45. Rorschach says

    Lindau… Thats just 250km from Tuebingen

    I studied Medicine there mate.Long time ago.
    Used to live at Waldhaeuser Ost.
    Gee,long long time ago !!

  46. Tiska says

    JUST 250 from Tübingen you say…! I’m sitting in Tübingen too and there’s no way I have the time to abandon studies for driving to Lindau that far away. :(

    Couldn’t PZ just .. y’know… do a little germany-tour?

    I mean Tübingen is a great city to see, why not drop by? ;D

  47. Azathot says

    Hey, im sitting in Tübingen too, why not share a ride und cut costs down?
    But getting PZ up here is a great alternative, I’m sure we’ll find a place somewhere at the university^^

  48. Rorschach says

    You slackers,250km,dont be ridiculous,the man is flying in from the US,its a frikkin weekend at Bodensee for you guys,if you want to meet PZ,you drive down there,its a fucking 2 hour drive down the A 81,you just look like some spoilt brats to me.

  49. Tiska says

    Costs is not so much the problem as time. I mean that’s 6 hours there and back. I’ve got a REALLY tight schedule these days.

    If PZ were to plan a visit I’m 100% positive there’d be a possibility to find a place for him to stay (depending on how spoiled he is ;) )

  50. Rorschach says

    I’ve got a REALLY tight schedule these days.

    Naja,wie sagt man,”was einem halt wichtig ist”.
    Gelle !

  51. Rorschach says


    ich habe ein Medizin Vollzeitstudium in TUE gemacht,waehrend der Zeit ein nahegelegenes Jugendhaus ehrenamtlich gefuehrt und habe nicht ein einziges Wochenende nicht frei gehabt,um fuer ein paar Stunden die Strasse runter an den Bodensee zu fahren !
    Wir sprechen hier von PZ Myers,und wenn der nach D’land kommt,wirkt kleinliches Getue ueber die 250km etwas laecherlich !!
    Gruss aus Australien.

  52. David Marjanović, OM says

    German? A lovely language?

    Depends entirely on which German it is. <unbearably smug, ever-widening grin>

    Rent a powerful BMW and enjoy a ride on the Autobahn @ 150 mph LEGALLY.

    The accidents are really spectacular. They have to be seen to be believed. 0:-)


    Ouch. That’s called a hypercorrectivism.

  53. Ben Breuer says

    In all likelihood, I’ll be in Frankfurt (am Main) in late June/July. If you have a layover there (or decide to go on the grand tour), there are a few nice pubs around. Just saying …

  54. Alexis says

    I think it’s a darn shame that we hear more in the American news media about how an ignorant ball thrower scratches his ass than about what a Nobel laureate did to merit his award. And if the laureate was not American and did not write in English, fuggedaboutit! I suggest that we all write letters to our local media in the weeks before any Nobel related events, asking for more detailed coverage.

  55. catta says

    Dan Sorenson has messed-up hearing and an unhealthy evisceration fixation, is all I can say.
    Find me another language where, when you say I love you, the subject and the object rhyme. That’s style.

  56. Mrs Tilton says

    David @75,

    Depends entirely on which German it is

    Oh, I agree. As I emailed my secretary from Vienna a few weeks ago, “Scho den hoiben Dog bin i do, und noh kaan aanzigs Känguruh hob i net gsehn, gell!” Now, that’s music.

    Seriously, though, you’re right. Hochdeutsch is, as a written language, extremely admirable in many ways. As a spoken tongue, though, it is suitable only for the barking of dogs and Offiziere.

    With many dialects the story is very differnt. My own bias is to the south. Bairisch, now; I could listen to Bairisch all day long (I presume you know the Biermösl Blosn?) Swabian has a lovely Tonfall and its nasal sounds echo those of the French. The fat round gorgeous vowels and pleasing cadences of Franconian more than make up for its coarse and bumpkinlike obsessive-compulsive voicing of consonants better left unvoiced. Even Hessian is, if ugly, at least sympatisch; and its ugliness is of the jolie-laide sort. Away up in the far north, too, the various subvariants of German are often pretty; sometimes one has the half-impression the speakers are English people who never really completely learned German.

    It’s just that broad swathe in the middle that I can’t stand. Whether Hochdeutsch, Kölsch, Pottlerisch or Sächsisch, I’m sorry, it just makes my ears shriek and seek cover. At least Sächsisch is inherently comical.

    Weanerisch is OK too, I guess, if you think of it as a peculiarly debased variant of Bayrisch…

  57. says

    I can read hochdeutsch, slowly and painfully, but I have absolutely no idea what you told your secretary. I hope it is nothing that will get you in trouble with your spouse or investigators of corruption.

  58. Mrs Tilton says

    PZ — it was merely a amateur naturalist’s disappointment at failure to see the expected local fauna.

  59. Anonymous says

    “Scho den hoiben Dog bin i do, und noh kaan aanzigs Känguruh hob i net gsehn, gell!”

    Ich glaube es heisst “Schon den halben Tag bin ich da, und noch kein einziges Kängaru hab ich nicht gesehen, gell!”, wenn ich das richtig übersetzt habe.

    Austrians and Bavarians have a double negative, just like ungrammatical Americans.

  60. says

    Oh, wait…I understood the translation. I’ve called the vice squad to cancel my complaint, never mind.

    So Bavarian is to Hochdeutsch as Jerry Lewis is to English?

    (Uh-oh…now I’m going to be greeted at the airport by a band of torch wielding Bavarians, aren’t I?)

  61. bruno says

    Down here (I’m living 10 miles from Lindau) we don’t speak Bavarian but Swabian although Lindau is a part of Bavaria (praise be upon Napoleon).

    But I’m sure most foreigners that manage to speak German will have a very hard time understandig either the Swabian or Bavarian dialect.

  62. Mrs Tilton says

    Anonymous @84,

    yes, that’s pretty much it.

    Though it might be ungrammatical for Americans (and Hochdeutsch speakers) to use a double negative, in Bavarian/Austrian and Alemannic dialects it is no less grammatically correct than it is in French.

    PZ @85,

    no, the Bavarian dialect is feckin brilliant. (Unless you are, against all I have believed thus far, French yourself, in which case yes, the Jerry Lewis comparison is quite apt.)

    As for Bavaria itself, you will understand it instantly if you think of it as Texas translated into German; with everything that implies, the good and the bad.


    1. Both places had been sovereign, sort of, before joining the larger polity.
    2. Both have their own distinctive dialect.
    3. Both have their own distinctive traditional dress, instantly marking the wearer as a Texan/Bavarian, or at least dressed up like one.
    4. Both are the largest political subdivision of their respective countries, not counting non-contiguous exclaves. (OK; for the US, that’s Alaska; for Germany, it’s a big red rock in the North Sea and a tiny valley or two along the Swiss-Austrian border. But who cares about the non-contiguous, anyway?)
    5. Both have not only a traditional enemy but a highly idiosyncratic definition of same. (In Bavaria, it’s the “Prussian”, which means not only Prussians but anybody from outside Bavaria and, if you’re really old school, from the northern half of Bavaria as well. In Texas, it’s the “Yankee”. In the rest of the South, this means you’re from the North. In Fort Worth, it means you’re from out of town.)
    6. Both have an unfortunate tendency to backwards, authoritarian religiosity.
    7. Both have an unfortunate tendency to backwards, authoritarian politics.
    8. But equally, both have a strong if unfortunately minority tradition of pugnacious freethought and dissent. (Only a Yankee could be surprised to learn that Molly Ivins was Texan; only a Prussian could be surprised that Bert Brecht was from Bavaria.)
    9. And if that were not enough, Bavarians and Texans both dip snuff.

    Really, if you ignore the purely superficial differences, the only way to tell Texas from Bavaria is the beer. In Bavaria, it’s usually very good. (Pace whoever that was upthread, if you’re only going to have one wheat beer during your visit, go for the unfiltred Hefeweizen rather than the unobjectionable but lightweight Kristallweizen.)

  63. Mrs Tilton says

    Bruno @87,

    ausländerischer wie ich geht’s nicht; ob Schwäbisch gschwätzt oder Boarisch gredet wird, komm i trotzdem mit. Ha, do glotscht fai, gell!

    In principle you’re right, of course. But then, the fishheads and coaleaters and Ossis can’t understand Bavarian or Swabian, why should foreigners be expected to?

  64. Xom says

    Are you just going there for sightseeing, PZ, or is there any chance of you holding talks in Europe too? If so, please let us know on Phrayngula so I can drive my kilometers from the Netherlands. Cheers!

  65. DS says

    PZ, if you get a chance, try to check out the butterfly house on Mainau. Well worth it.

  66. Azathot says

    If you consider it… most native speakers will have a hard time understanding Bavarian and especially Swabian, which in my opinion is the ultimate proof for god’s existence, no human being could create such a horrifying dialect… well maybe the Bavarians did it^^

  67. jellay says

    Ganz toll! Wenn die Grippe nicht zu problematisch ist, studiere ich nächstes Jahr neben Stuttgart.

    Ich wünsche Ihnen auch viel Spaß während der Fahrt.

  68. Thanatopsis says

    @#69 & #68

    Going there together would be great. Makes that drive a lot more bearable and affordable :-) And Rorscharch is right… PZ is flying in from America. 2h should not keep us from meeting him. Who knows if he will be in these party ever again.

  69. Rorschach says

    @ 93,

    Wenn die Grippe nicht zu problematisch ist, studiere ich nächstes Jahr neben Stuttgart.

    Neben Stuttgart? Die deutsche Sprache scheint sich im freien Fall zu befinden.

    Who knows if he will be in these party ever again.

    Then again,so does the English language apparently…:-)

    Jungs und Maedels,wenn PZ Myers nach Deutschland kommt,macht euch auf den Weg,ist doch einfach mal was anderes oder??