The natural regions of Germany (5): The Southern German Scarplands

The scarplands extend on both sides of the Rhine valley. The part west of the Rhine valley is quite small and encompasses the mountain ranges lining the rivers Saar and Mosel and the Palatinate Forest, the northern spur of the Vosges in France. The Nahe valley is a wine growing region producing some of the finest Riesling wines in Germany. The Saar valley was one of the centers of German coal mining and steel production. The steel works in Völklingen were closed in 1986 and are now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

The scarplands east of the Rhine valley extend over a vast area, covering most of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and extending into Southern Hesse.

The red sandstone hills of the Odenwald, Spessart and Southern Rhön are mainly forested land, dotted with small towns and villages enclosed in fields in the valleys. They are lined with picturesque historic towns and cities, such as Heidelberg, Freudenberg am Main, Wertheim am Main, Zwingenberg am Neckar, Neckarsteinach, Erbach, Amorbach, Miltenberg, Michelstadt, Beerfelden, and Buchen.

They are followed by the Gäulands, lower lands intensely used for agriculture. In the recent decades, they have become Germany’s economic powerhouse. The south-western region encompassing Stuttgart and Heilbronn in the Neckar valley is particularly strong. It is not only home to big companies like Daimer (Mercedes-Benz cars), Porsche (sports cars), Bosch (mixed technologies), but also to thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, which are highly specialized and often world market leaders in their field. A magnet for tourists is the historic town or Rothenburg ob der Tauber with its nearly undisturbed medieval city center.

The north-eastern parts are more rural with smaller and medium-sized cities located in the river valleys. Notable here is the city of Würzburg, former residence of a Prince-Bishop and home of a traditional university. It was here that Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered the X-rays.

Another important metropolitan area is centered around the old trade city of Nuremberg. Nürnberg as it is spelled in German was the home of renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer. Severely destroyed in world war II, it was rebuilt along the historical layout but with modern facades. Its museums, the imperial castle, and the famous Christmas Market, the oldest one of its kind, are major tourist attractions. In the early 20th century, Nuremberg was a center of National Socialism in Germany, evidenced by the unfinished but still gigantic Nazi Party rally grounds. After the end of the ‘Third Reich’, the principal leaders of the Nazi party and the persons mainly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity had to stand trial here.

The historic old town of Bamberg is a UNESCO world cultural heritage and popular with tourists from abroad. Its town hall, built within the river Regnitz to represent the two halves of the city, the civil and the episcopal half, is one of its landmarks, alongside with the cathedral and the palace.

The Black Forest is Germany’s highest and biggest upland and a major tourist destination. The specific architecture adds to the picturesque landscape to please the eye of hiking holiday makers looking for rest and relaxation. For centuries, its main product was wood, which was shipped down the river Rhine to the Netherlands to build the fleet that warranted the Dutch strong stance in worldwide trade. Precision engineering is another traditional business branch. Some well-known watchmakers and entertainment electronics businesses were located here, but most of them were unable to compete with the Asian competitors and went bankrupt or have changed their field of operation.

The Keuper-Lias-lands and the Swabian and Franconian Alb are limestone plateaus interrupted by deep valleys. There are some interesting karst formations, including deep and dangerous caves. New caves are discovered almost every year. The Nördlinger Ries is an almost perfectly circular valley and one of the biggest impact craters of the world. The upper reaches of the river Danube are in the process of becoming a tributary of the river Rhine. The waters disappear through cracks in the riverbed and make their way dozens of kilometers through underground cavities until they reappear in a karstic spring that drains to the river Rhine. The riverbed of the Danube below these sinkholes is meanwhile dry for 155 days per year, when it loses all its water to the Rhine. One of the most beautiful karstic springs is the Blautopf.

Hohenzollern Castle at the northern edge of the Swabian Alb is the origin of the House Hohenzollern, which has ruled Prussia for centuries.

A geographical oddity is the town of Büsingen am Hochrhein, which is a German municipality completely surrounded by the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen. It belongs to the Swiss customs area and is thus not part of the customs area of the European Union. Swiss laws are also in place. A set of complicated rules regulate the judicial status of the exclave. Swiss police may arrest people, but the number of Swiss police is restricted to 10 at any given time and must only act on issues that concern the Swiss laws that are in place in the exclave. German police forces must not exceed three police officials per 100 residents and must only act on issues concerning German law. There are strict transit restrictions for German police officers through Swiss territory. Most people of Büsingen earn their money in Swiss Francs, and many transactions are done in Swiss Francs although the official currency is the Euro. Pensions, however, are paid in Euro. The steep rise of the value of the Swiss Franc made the economic situation of the residents of Büsingen difficult. As a result, many German pensioneers have left Büsingen, while Swiss pensioneers have moved there. The town has two zip codes, a Swiss and a German one. Letters sent from there to Switzerland may be franked with either Swiss or German stamps; the latter option is cheaper. Büsingen has a German prefix number, but many residents have also a Swiss phone connection. In front of the post office, there are a Swiss and a German public phone. Both Swiss and German mobile phone networks work at the respective domestic tariffs. In the summer of 1980, Büsingen was in a different tine zone than the rest of Germany because Switzerland had not yet introduced the daylight saving time and Swiss time laws apply in Büsingen. The local football (soccer) club is part of the Swiss Football Association.

Beyonce Gets Political, and I Get Snatched Bald: An Overview of Themes and Motifs in the Formation Music Video

It is important that you know, I am not even a Beyonce stan like that. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the post I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced of Jacob Marley’s death before the play began, then there would be nothing remarkable about him showing up at his “business” partner’s house to bitch him out in the middle of the night.

It’s also important to note that Beyonce usually doesn’t go in for this sort of thing. She’s not really the Artist/Activist type. This video is the most political she has ever gotten, and I swear it took the convergence of Black Lives Matter, Black History Month, Mardis Gras, a Nat Turner Rebellion movie, the blatant disrespect of casting a white man to play Michael Jackson, and all the planets to bring us this blessing. Many have said Formation is the phrase, “I love my blackness, and yours.” given physical form. It is all that and more.

Originally posted by lahnvahn

This opening line prepares us for the realness to come

Let’s start with the fact that Formation features a voice over by Big Freedia the Queen Diva of NOLA Bounce. If you don’t know Bounce music, or you don’t know Big Freedia–and if you don’t know Bounce, you won’t know Big Freedia–let me direct you to Youtube so you can educate yourself. I recommend you start with Excuse, and Y’all Get Back Now. Big Freedia also has a very nice feature in Ru Paul’s Peanut Butter.

All throughout this video we are treated to imagery from Black queer culture, from Big Freedia’s voice-over, to dancers, to queens just slaying in the beauty shop. Again, if you are unfamiliar with the richness of Black queer culture, I direct you to the internet, because there’s just too much to explain. Start with Paris Is Burning on Netflix and go from there I guess? Like, literal books have been written and it is too big an undertaking for me alone. But Formation is an anthem for Black Femmes as much as it is for Blackness in general.

Originally posted by yoncehaunted

Beyonce heard all y’all talking that shit about “Why is her hair always done, but she can’t make sure her baby’s hair is done?” Uh, because Blue is a child, and that is her NATURAL HAIR, and she clearly is ROCKING IT.

In fact, this video features A WEALTH of natural hair, textured hair, weaves, perms, braids, Black hair in general.

Note: Baby hairs are small, fine, wispy hairs on your hairline that your mother would brush or gel in a specific way. If you don’t know what a baby hair is, ask a Black person, or someone with “ethnic” hair (gag).

Originally posted by yoncehaunted

Originally posted by freekumdress

Originally posted by 711vevo

In fact, every single person in this video is Black except for the cops.

And let’s talk about that scene

Originally posted by ecstasyformyears

A little black boy dancing his heart out in front of a line of cops in riot gear,

and the cops put their hands up. YES YES YES YES YESYEYSYESYES!!!!!

Originally posted by dorawinifredread

Please note the multiple nods to Majorette culture (okay ladies, now let’s get in formation, prove to me you got some coordination, slay trick or you get eliminated) which is very southern.

Formation is very southern

Originally posted by nerd4music

From Southern Gothic imagery

to people dressed for Mardis Gras

To the scenes with people dressed in 19th century Creole garb, in their parlors, with fans.

Now let’s examine some of the lyrics:

My Daddy Alabama, Mama Louisiana

This is more than a statement about Beyonce’s roots. The vast majority of Black Americans can trace their ancestry to the South, after many of us moved to northern cities in the Great Migration. To this day, the majority of Black people in the US live in the South. I’m a New Yorker for generations back on either side, but guess what? The family reunion each year is held in Virginia, because that’s where my people come from.

I like my negro nose and Jackson Five nostrils

There has literally never been a more full-throated, stalwart, stark as hell positive affirmation of Blackness in mainstream, popular media since the original Black Is Beautiful movement in the 60′s. Maybe not since the Harlem Renaissance? I predict In a few years, people will be inverting their contours and getting plastic surgery to achieve the coveted Jackson Five nostril. Only by then they’ll rename it something more palatable to the mainstream (Read: white people).

I got hot sauce in my bag

Let me tell you something about my septuagenarian Grandparents: they literally always have a bottle of hot sauce in their car. Like many retirees, they like to travel, take cruises, do old people stuff. Never have they ever gone anywhere without a bottle of hot sauce. Never has my grandfather been in a restaurant and not requested hot sauce–even though he always has his own.

As I type this, I have a bottle of hot sauce on my night stand, next to my bed. Why? Because I put that shit on everything, and it’s just more convenient to keep it handy. I put hot sauce on pepperoni pizzas. Sometimes I sip out of the hot sauce bottle like it’s a fine wine.

I make all this money, but they’ll never take the country out me

A reminder to never forget your roots, a statement about preserving your identity under the pressures of assimilation, or commentary on respectability politics–no matter how much money you make, how famous you become, you’ll always be Black to the powers that be? Trick question. It’s all three

Originally posted by northgang


Note: Red Lobster is known to be the de-facto Black date night restaurant. I have no idea why.

All of this culminates in Beyonce, sprawled atop a NOLA police car, sinking into the flood waters of Katrina. She metaphorically drowns the police in a flood caused by the colossal abdication of responsibility by those in power at the expense of the disenfranchised. She is prostrated on the symbolic corpse of the oppressor as it is subsumed by water.

I Literally Can Not.

Other images that made me want to praise dance:

  1. Black man riding a horse down the street. Little known fact, Black people were some of the first cowboys in the American west. For the most famous example, see the actual man The Lone Ranger is based off of.
  2. The newspaper with the picture of Martin Luther King and front page headline that read, “More Than A Dreamer.” A reference to the #ReclaimMLK movement, which is about countering the sanitized, white-washed, commodified version of his message with the reality of his radicalism.
  3. The fact that the portraits on the walls of the mansion are of Black women
  4. I slay, I slay, I slay

@crissle, @melinapendulum, @chescaleigh, @jemandthediazepams

On this day in 1937, Margaret Mitchell wins Pulitzer Prize for “Gone With the Wind”.

Margaret Mitchell was born on November 8, 1900, in Atlanta, Georgia, into an Irish-Catholic family. At an early age, even before she could write, Mitchell loved to make up stories, and she would later write her own adventure books, crafting their covers out of cardboard. She wrote hundreds of books as a child, but her literary endeavors weren’t limited to novels and stories: At the private Woodberry School, Mitchell took her creativity in new directions, directing and acting in plays she wrote.

In 1918, Mitchell enrolled at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Four months later, tragedy would strike when Mitchell’s mother died of influenza. Mitchell finished out her freshman year at Smith and then returned to Atlanta to prepare for the upcoming debutante season, during which she met Berrien Kinnard Upshaw. The couple was married in 1922, but it ended abruptly four months later when Upshaw left for the Midwest and never returned.

The same year she was married, Mitchell landed a job with the Atlanta Journal Sunday magazine, where she ended up writing nearly 130 articles. Mitchell would get married a second time during this period, wedding John Robert Marsh in 1925. As seemed to be the case in Mitchell’s life, though, yet another good thing was to come to an end too quickly, as her journalist career ended in 1926 due to complications from a broken ankle. With her broken ankle keeping Mitchell off her feet, however, in 1926 she began writing Gone With the Wind. Perched at an old sewing table, and writing the last chapter first and the other chapters randomly, she finished most of the book by 1929. A romantic novel about the Civil War and Reconstruction, Gone With the Wind is told from a Southern point of view, informed by Mitchell’s family and steeped in the history of the South and the tragedy of the war.

In July 1935, New York publisher Macmillan offered her a $500 advance and 10 percent royalty payments. Mitchell set to finalizing the manuscript, changing characters names (Scarlett was Pansy in earlier drafts), cutting and rearranging chapters and finally naming the book Gone With the Wind, a phrase from “Cynara!, a favorite Ernest Dowson poem. Gone With the Wind was published in 1936 to huge success and took home the 1937 Pulitzer. Mitchell became an overnight celebrity, and the landmark film based on her novel came out just three years later and went on to become a classic (winning eight Oscars and two special Oscars ).

During World War II (1941-45), Mitchell had no time to write, as she worked for the American Red Cross. And on August 11, 1949, she was struck by a car while crossing a street and died five days later. Mitchell was inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement in 1994 and into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2000. Gone With the Wind was her only novel.

Sources: and
They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.
—  Lakota chief Red Cloud (1822 - 1909). He was a widely respected Lakota Sioux warrior who led a successful campaign in 1866–1868 known as Red Cloud’s War over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. Red Cloud also led his people in the transition to reservation life after the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. He continued to advocate for his people’s interests, including traveling to DC to meet with President Grant and negotiating strongly with various Indian Agents.

A day by the sea (c.1914). Dorothea Sharp (British, 1874-1955). Oil on canvas.

A gentle breeze lifts the tent flaps and the children’s towel while the two adults rest and read in the welcome shade. They are on a beach in the Languedoc region of Southern France. The red and white stripes of the deck chair and the child’s bathing suit, together with the straw hat laid nonchalantly aside, suggest that this warm sunny day is for rest and enjoyment.

Animals You Didn't Know Existed

1. The Dhole

The Dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans which occasionally split up into small packs to hunt. It primarily preys on medium-sized ungulates, which it hunts by tiring them out in long chases, and kills by disemboweling them. Though fearful of humans, dhole packs are bold enough to attack large and dangerous animals such as wild boar, water buffalo, and even tigers.

2. The Babirusa 

Babirusa, meaning “Hog-deer”, are members of the pig family found in Wallacea, or specifically the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula and Buru. If a babirusa does not grind its tusks (achievable through regular activity), they will eventually keep growing so as to penetrate the animal’s own skull.

3. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is approximately 3.5-4.5 inches long, excluding the tail, and is pale rose or pink in color. It has the ability to bury itself completely in a matter of seconds if frightened. It is a nocturnal animal and it burrows small holes near ant colonies in dry soil, and feeds mainly on ants and ant larvae near its burrow. It uses large front claws to agitate the sand, allowing it to almost swim through the ground like it is water. It is torpedo-shaped, and has a shielded head and back.

4. The Fossa

The fossa is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal that is endemic to Madagascar. The fossa is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar and has been compared to a small cougar. It has semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles that allow it to climb up and down trees head-first, and also support jumping from tree to tree.

5. The Gerenuk

The gerenuk, also known as the Waller’s gazelle, is a long-necked species of antelope found in dry thorn bush scrub and desert in Eastern Africa. The word gerenuk comes from the Somali language, meaning “giraffe-necked”. Gerenuks have a relatively small head for their body, but their eyes and ears are proportionately large. Gerenuks seldom graze but browse on prickly bushes and trees, such as acacias. They can reach higher branches and twigs than other gazelles and antelope by standing erect on their rear legs and stretching their elongated necks.

6.Naked Mole Rat

This creature has a lot of characteristics that make it very important to human beings. For one it is resistant to cancer. They also live up to 28 years, which is unheard of in mammals of its size. It seemingly does not age much in those 28 years either. It remains “young, healthy and fully fertile for almost all its days, which for an elderly animal is equivalent to an 80-year-old woman having the biological make-up of someone 50 years younger.” The naked mole rat is used in both cancer research and the study of aging. Not only making it a bizarre creature, but an incredibly important creature as well.

7. Irrawaddy Dolphin 

The Irrawaddy dolphin is a species of oceanic dolphin found near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia. Genetically, the Irrawaddy dolphin is closely related to the killer whale.

8. Markhor

The markhor is a large species of wild goat that is found in northeastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. The species is classed by the IUCN as Endangered, as there are fewer than 2,500 mature individuals. The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan. While chewing the cud, a foam-like substance comes out of its mouth which drops on the ground and dries. This foam-like substance is sought after by the local people, who believe it is useful in extracting snake poison from snake bitten wounds.

9. Yeti Crab

Also known as the Kiwaidae, this crab is a type of marine decapod living at deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The animals are commonly referred to as “yeti crabs” because of their claws and legs, which are white and appear to be furry like the mythical yeti

10. Snub-Nosed Monkey

Snub-nosed monkeys live in various parts of Asia and get their name from the short stump of a nose on their round face. Snub-nosed monkeys inhabit mountain forests, in the winter moving into deeply secluded regions. They spend the majority of their life in the trees and live together in very large groups of up to 600 members. They have a large vocal repertoire, calling sometimes solo while at other times together in choir-like fashion.

11. The Maned Wolf

The Maned Wolf is the largest canid in South America, resembling a large fox with reddish fur. This mammal is found in open and semi-open habitats, especially grasslands with scattered bushes and trees throughout South America. The maned wolf is the tallest of the wild canids and it’s long legs are most likely an adaptation to the tall grasslands of its native habitat.

12. Southern Right Whale Dolphin

The southern right whale dolphin is a small and slender species of mammal found in cool waters of the southern hemisphere. They are fast active swimmers and have no visible teeth and no dorsal fin. They are very graceful and often move by leaping out of the water continuously

13. Southern Red Muntjac

Found in south Asia, it has soft, short, brownish or greyish hair and is omnivorous, feeding on grass, fruits, shoots, seeds, birds’ eggs as well as small animals. It sometimes even displays scavenging behavior, feeding on carrion. It gives calls similar to barking, usually upon sensing a predator. Males are extremely territorial and—despite their diminutive size—can be quite fierce. They will fight each other for territory using their antlers or their tusk-like upper canine teeth, and can even defend themselves against certain predators such as dogs.

14. Cyphonia Clavata 

It is a species of treehopper called Cyphonia Clavata that literally has an ant growing out of its head. Well not literally, the ant-like thing on its head is an appendage that hides the treehopper’s actual body from predators.

15. Sunda Colugo

Also known as The Sunda flying lemur, it is not actually a lemur and does not fly. Instead, it glides as it leaps among trees. It is strictly arboreal, is active at night, and feeds on soft plant parts such as young leaves, shoots, flowers, and fruits. The Sunda Coluga can be found throughout Southeast Asia in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore

16. Tufted Deer

The Tufted Deer is a small species of deer characterized by the prominent tuft of black hair on its forehead. It is a close relative of the muntjac, living somewhat further north over a wide area of central China. It is a timid animal, mainly solitary or found in pairs and prefers places with good cover, where it is well camouflaged.

17. Lamprey

Lampreys are a type of jawless fish that live mostly in coastal and fresh waters whose adults are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. They attach themselves to fish and suck their blood. Lampreys have been around for nearly 300 millions years and their body structure has remained relatively unchanged.

18. Raccoon Dog

The Raccoon Dog, or Tanuki, is a canid indigenous to East Asia. The raccoon dog is named for its resemblance to the raccoon, to which it is not closely related. They are very good climbers and regularly climb trees.

19. The Patagonian Mara

The Patagonian Mara is a relatively large rodent found in parts of Argentina. This herbivorous, somewhat rabbit-like animal has distinctive long ears and long limbs and its hind limbs are longer and more muscular than its forelimbs.

20. The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher

The Amazonian Royal Flycatcher is found in forests and woodlands throughout most of the Amazon basin. They are about 6 ½ inches in length and like to dart out from branches to catch flying insects or pluck them from leaves. They build very large nests (sometimes up to 6 feet long) on a branches near water. The nest hangs over the water which makes it hard for predators to reach.

21. Zebra Duiker

The zebra duiker is a small antelope found in Ivory Coast and other parts of Africa. They have gold or red-brown coats with distinctive zebra-like stripes (hence the name) Their prong-like horns are about 4.5 cm long in males, and half that in females. They live in lowland rainforests and mostly eat leaves and fruit.

22. Star-Nosed Mole

The star-nosed mole is a small mole found in wet low areas of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It is easily identified by the 11 pairs of pink fleshy appendages ringing its snout, which is used as a touch organ with more than 25,000 minute sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs, with which this hamster-sized mole feels its way around.


Since the topic crossed my dash yet again (because I’m lucky like that: I glance at this site and I get migraines) let’s be civil and try to explain this once and for all.

  • The absolute dichotomy: white people/poc as tumblr understands it is deeply rooted in USA’s culture: which doesn’t mean there is no racism in other places, but that each country has its own brand of awfulness that shares some aspects with the one you are most familiar with without being “the same”. Discounting one because “in the USA is not like that” is awfully imperialistic. 
  • “Person of colour” here in Italy is used to refer to a black person ONLY.
  • Italians (because of our history of foreign invasion and domination after the fall of a huge multiethnic empire) happen to be quite an heterogeneous group as far as physical characteristics go. There are the “mozzarelle” like me and my dad and the “mediterranean” ones like my sister. Last person that went famously on and on about an “Italian race” was Mussolini, so most decent people here in Italy do not like how that sounds. 
  • You can be unconvinced by my arguments and are welcome to research them, you should actually, and me being Italian doesn’t instantly make all of my opinions about Italy gospel truth. YET my 20+ years living (mostly) here and being raised in this socio-cultural context mean I speak (with all of my biases) from an informed point of view. Skepticism is good, arrogantly dismissing the opinions that do not fit your narrative when having little-if-any knowledge of the topic is not

That said: Italians here in Italy consider themselves “white people”. 

And it is no “new fad” either.
We had our culture and our prejudices long before the USA were even conceived and, while Italian emigrants have embraced USA’s stereotypes and racial biases to better their position in American society, Italians in Italy never saw themselves as “pocs” when compared to other Europeans.

Having you override this because “it is an honour to be called a poc” is not only imperialistic, arrogant, and dismissive of our culture, but ultimately a waste of perfectly good ATP and oxygen since people in a foreign nation will not form a new opinion of themselves to fit your cultural stereotypes

Last but not the least: Southern Italians are Italians and consider themselves white. 

That includes Sicilians. 
Come on people: at least know which Italian island has a truly unique and unrelated dialect (which is almost a language of its own) before spouting such nonsense! Spoiler: it is Sardinia not Sicily.
The only ones who would deny that Sicilians are Italians are some of the people following our xenophobic party: Lega Nord, which before understanding that it could have exponentially increased its consensus targeting migrants, was intent on trying to break Italy in two pieces (while stepping on the flag, using the Constitution as toilet paper et other amenities).
The divide between North and south was not as much ethnic (the Northmen held the South for a time so there are light blonde and redhead Neapolitans/Sicilians le GASP), as it was socio-economic. They hated “southern red-necks” because those "terroni” were poorer, and “stole their hard-earned money” not because they considered people from the South any less “white”.
In fact many followers of “Lega Nord” when I was a kid didn’t consider themselves Italian at all and wanted out of Italy to “regain their regional independence”. Some still very much do (even though the focus has shifted now). 

I hope this was exhaustive enough.