Hans Holbein the Younger

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543) was a German painter and printmaker who worked in the Northern Renaissance style, and is considered one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century.

Holbein was born in Augsburg, Bavaria, but he worked mainly in Basel, Switzerland as a young artist. Holbein travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from the great European thinker, Erasmus of Rotterdam.

Holbein was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, the Archbishop of Canterbury, where he quickly built a strong reputation. By 1535, he was King’s Painter to none other than Henry VIII of England.

Of particular interest to us as students of German culture are minutes 22:20 to 25:00 in this very interesting mini-documentary about Hans Holbein. Pay particular attention to the segment 24:00-24:37. “If you wanted precision, quality and Vorsprung durch Technik (the current motto of Audi) you bought German.”

And by the way, the documentary is done exceptionally well. Tudor England. Henry the VIII. Thomas More. And, of course, Thomas Cromwell. Very much worth watching in full.

selbständig – independent

“The team at Minderleinsmühle opened up their hearts to me. From the first minute onward I felt very comfortable. In my area I work independently. My colleagues, however, are always there for me should I need help. Every day I learn something new.” Anna, Intern in Quality Control, 2019

Minderleinsmühle near Nuremberg, Germany. From their website:

“Our mueslis & cereals, pastries, sweets, chocolates and snacks stand for high-end quality, sustainability and best taste. Under leading of the Hubmann Family, the Minderleinsmühle was arisen from a craft mill with connected agriculture to an established manufacturer in the sector of organic food. As a grown enterprise with a vision, we unify craftsmanship and experience with technology and innovation.”

Germany’s future? Look at its cars

A well-done description of the current – September 2021 – situation in Germany. By the economist. Using the German automobile industry as a window into the wider challenges to the German economy and to German society.

It’s bottom-line question is whether the German people are capable of responding to the challenges of today and the near future.

Designed in U.S. Made in China

American businesses have a history of designing products in America, but then sending the designs to companies abroad, especially to third world countries, to be assembled. Why would a first world country, with the capacity for better materials and production processes, outsource the building of their products to lesser developed nations? The answer is simple: cost.

One of the most common countries for assembling American-designed products is China. In 2011, there was an article in Forbes titled “Buying from China is in Fact Buying American.” In this article, the author talks about his friend Johnny, a middle class American who owns a couple of small restaurants. 

Most of the cooking utensils and furniture in Johnny’s restaurants were made in China. Like most middle-class Americans, he shopped at stores that sold primarily Chinese-made merchandise. Johnny’s reason for using these Chinese-assembled products: they were cheap and “good-enough.”

The article went on to talk about different American companies that sell products that are made in China (Apple, Dell, Gap, Hasbro, Nike, etc.) and how, according to a San Francisco Federal Reserve study, an average of 55% of the value of American imported goods from China goes to American companies and workers. 

This is compared to 36% for American goods in general. Not only can companies that outsource to China sell their goods at a cheaper price, but they actually make a lot more money in the process.

The Image of Exclusivity

In his May 12, 2015 article Taking the Fast Lane in the Handelsblatt Global Edition, Christian Schnell (schnell means fast in German) wrote about Porsche’s success in the U.S.

“Porsche keeps setting sales records in the United States, with double-digit percentage growth over four years. Of 190,000 Porsche’s sold last year, 47,000 were delivered to U.S. customers. The brand, part of the Volkswagen Group, has grown sales by double-digit figures for four years straight.”

Porsche is a niche player. It has a U.S. market share of only 0.4 percent. “It shouldn’t become much more than that to protect the car’s image of exclusivity, in Porsche’s view.”

“We have not set a figure as a target. Instead, we want to get a sense of how much we can expand the brand,” said Porsche-CEO Matthias Müller. “We’d rather sell a car less than one too many.”

Schnell noted: “At other companies, such elitist thinking has led to conflicts.” In 2014 the chief executive of Ferrari, Luca die Montezemolo, said he only wanted to build 7,000 cars per year. “The statement angered Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Ferrari’s parent company Fiat.” Not long thereafter, Montezemolo was out of a job.

It was an incident which the Porsche-CEO could not understand. “If Mr. Marchionne thinks he can turn Ferrari into a mass market brand I can only say: ‘A very warm welcome’.”


The book American Gods by Neil Gaiman, follows the adventures of a man called Shadow as he travels across America. At one point during his voyage, he finds himself stranded in the middle of the Wisconsin, attempting to rent or buy a car.

As it turns out, there is nowhere nearby for him to rent, so he has to settle for buying. In an attempt to find someone willing to sell him a car, he tries talking to a woman manning the till at a gas station:

“Car died a few miles down the road. It was a pieceashit if you’ll pardon my language,“ said Shadow.

‘Pee-Oh-Esses,’ she said. ‘Yup. That’s what my brother-in-law calls ’em. He buys and sells cars in a small way. He’ll call me up, say Mattie, I just sold another Pee-Oh-Ess. Say, maybe he’d be interested in your old car. For scrap or something.’”

Eventually, Shadow meets the brother-in-law, and although he has plenty of money with him, at this point in the story he only needs to drive about 500 miles, so he tries to buy the cheapest car that could take him the full way. 

“The piece of shit he chose was a 1983 Chevy Nova, which he bought, with a full tank of gas, for four hundred and fifty dollars. It had almost a quarter of a million miles on the clock, and smelled faintly of bourbon, tobacco, and more strongly of something that might well have been bananas. He couldn’t tell what color it was, under the dirt and the snow. . . The piece of shit had a radio, but nothing happened when he turned it on.”

Nevertheless, despite the poor performance of the vehicle, Shadow was content with his purchase because it was cheap.

Engineers – Quotes

„Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.“ James Michener

„Engineers are behidn the cars we drive, the pills we pop and the way we power our homes.“ James Dyson

„Silicon Valley has evolved a critical mass of engineers and venture capitalists and all the support structure – the law firms, the real estate, all that – that are all actually geared toward being accepting of startups.“ Elon Musk

„I’ve actually found the image of Silicon Valley as a hotbed of money-grubbing tech people to be pretty false, but maybe that’s because the people I hang out with are all really engineers.“ Linus Torvalds

„I think one problem we’ve had is that people who are smart and creative and innovative as engineers went into financial engineering.“ Walter Isaacson

„The South produced statesmen and soldiers, planters and doctors and lawyers and poets, but certainly no engineers and mechanics. Let Yankees adopt such low callings.“ Margaret Mitchell

Mechanicians Musicians Metaphysicians

“The Yankees, the first mechanicians in the world, are engineers – just as the Italians are musicians and the Germans metaphysicians – by right of birth. Nothing is more natural, therefore, than to perceive them applying their audacious ingenuity to the science of gunnery.” Jules Verne

Does Verne mean with „gunnery“ the making of weapons? And does he mean with „them“ the Yankees (Americans) or the Germans?

Verne (1828–1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwrite best known for is adventure novels and his great influence on the literary genre of science fiction.

QIC Awards

Every year the American National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) grants Quality in Construction (QIC) awards to any asphalt producer, paving contractor, and/or road owner in the United States who completes a project “that deliver(s) on the promise of high performance and drivability.“ 

In 2014, 205 projects were honored with a QIC Award, and of those 90 projects were singled out for their use for sustainable construction practices (such as using recycled materials). Some of the 2014 winning projects include:

Golden Gate Constructors of San Jose, California for work on the San Francisco International Airport. The company had to construct new taxiways to allow for installation of an engineered material arrestor system. Crews worked round the clock to produce a high quality pavement under budget and 30 days ahead of schedule, allowing an early reopening of the runways.

Everett Dykes Grassing Co. Inc. of Cochran, Georgia for work on SR 27 in Appling County. The project included milling, resurfacing, and shoulder rehabilitation, and through the use of careful paving techniques and careful quality control, the company produced a pavement that was 58 percent smoother than the previous road.

J.H. Rudolph & Co. Inc. of Evansville, Indiana for work on Evansville Regional Airport, which included rehabilitation, reconstruction and new construction work. Paving with multiple laydown techniques and employing strict quality control, J. H. Rudolph & Co. achieved a smooth pavement seven days ahead of schedule.

Earle Asphalt Co. of Farmingdale, New Jersey for work on SH 33 in Monmouth County. The project required the mill and overlay of both westbound and eastbound roads to achieve a 36.5 percent improvement in ride quality. Paving crews worked at night to limit traffic disruptions.

Malcolm Baldrige Award

This award was established in 1987 by the U.S. Congress in order to raise awareness of quality management and to recognize American companies that use successful quality management systems. 

Initially, awards were only given in 3 categories: manufacturing, service businesses, and small businesses. However, in 1999 education and healthcare categories were added, and finally in 2007 a government and nonprofit category was added. 

Up to 3 awards can be given in each category annually, and the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology manages the award. Recipients are chosen based on their performance in seven areas: 

  1. Leadership: How upper management leads the organization, and how the organization leads within the community.

2. Strategic planning: How the organization establishes and plans to implement strategic directions.

3. Customer and market focus: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers.

4. Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance.

5. Human resource focus: How the organization empowers and involves its workforce.

6. Process management: How the organization designs, manages and improves key processes.

7. Business/organizational performance results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction, finances, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operations, governance and social responsibility, and how the organization compares to its competitors.