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Quidditch in Real-life?

Augsburg Owls and the Bavarian League

Quidditch is a fast-paced and full-contact sport that combines elements of handball, rugby, dodgeball and flag football. A quidditch cadre can contain up to 21 players. 7 athletes per team are on the field at any one time. It is played in coed teams with nor more than three players of the same gender on the pitch during play.

In 2005, it made its way into the real world when students in Middlebury, USA, found a way to adapt the sport from the Harry Potter universe to a world without flying brooms then, both the sport itself and its community are growing tremendously.

Quidditch in Germany and Augsburg

In Germany, the sport has become increasingly popular as well, especially in recent years. There are over 40 teams registered with the German Quidditch Association (Deutscher Quidditch Bund) or in development. The local team in Augsburg is called Augsburg Owls. The team was founded in 2015 and remains Augsburg’s first and only Quidditch team to this day. Besides taking part in the annual Bavarian League, which is one of the six leagues throughout Germany, the greatest success of the team has been the qualification for the European Quidditch Cup 2020, which was postponed due to the Covid Pandemic and is expected to take place in Limerick, Ireland in 2022. Furthermore, the team managed to win the Bavarian Cup, which was first held last month.

© Anja Volkwein

How to participate

For interested and curious students, the Owls offer a starter course within the sports program of the University of Augsburg. Additionally, so-called “Newbie trainings” take place regularly at their home club FC Haunstetten. So, if you want to discover the sporting world of Harry Potter beyond the books and movies, check it out and have a try at handling quaffles, bludgers and brooms. Your real-life Quidditch experience is closer than you might think.

Author: Anja Volkwein

Be Careful, Children! That’s a lot of Sodium!

Some facts about salt you may not know yet

A simple ingredient, salt is contained in most of the meals a person could have around the day. Sodium chloride is a rock, which makes it the only family of rocks regularly eaten by people. It could also be used as an effective cleaner in the kitchen or on bathroom appliances. With so many different applications, it’s not surprising that there are some things about salt that aren’t commonly known – so let’s have a look at some!

Salt, the answer to all suffering?

Kosher salt or kitchen salt can be used for cooking or cleaning. It is free of any additives, such as iodine. Iodised salt sounds chemical and dangerous but rather is a prophylaxis for serious health issues. Mixing a small amount of iodine in salt was a requirement in states like Switzerland, Austria, USA, and in the German Democratic Republic before the reunion. Today, in the reunited Germany the use of iodised salt is not legally required but many German households use iodised salt. Why is that? Due to the national iodine deficiency, which is no longer an issue, the WHO recommended only using iodised salt. Until today this type of edible salt helps a great deal in preventing serious iodine deficiencies and resulting health issues.

Be careful children, that’s a lot of sodium

What is often shouted out as a joke is not nearly as fun when it comes to health risks associated with a high sodium intake. According to the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), the average Indian consumes around 10g of salt per day. The recommended amount would be only half of that. But reducing the salt intake is often easier said than done. Since the taste for salt is acquired, one should only consume very little amounts from an early age. Fast food items like burgers or pizza are higher in sodium due to their serving size. Adding extra salt to meals like salads could be dangerous. Processed foods like salad dressings, pickles or ketchup are also extremely high in sodium. One might think adding sea salt would be healthier, but you’re up for a surprise. Sea salt and table salt roughly contain a stunning 40 per cent amount of sodium. When you’re trying to go for healthy seasonings, try garlic, pepper, herbs like oregano, sage, rosemary, or a little bit of acid like lemon juice or vinegar, which boosts flavour without adding sodium.

Did you know?

In ancient Rome, salt was so valuable that soldiers were paid with it. The Latin word for salt, sal, is the etymological root of the word salary. If a soldier did not do his job right, he was not paid in full which is the birthplace of the expression “not worth his salt”.

Only 6 per cent of the salt used in the United States is added to food. 17 per cent of the salt is used to salt the streets, so they don’t freeze in the winters. The 10-cm Don Juan Pond is the saltiest pond, with a salinity level of 40 per cent which ensures that the water in it rarely to never freezes.

Aside from some fun trivia about salt, there’s something else we can take away from this: even the most innocuous-looking everyday items in our homes can have a rich history.

Author: Katerina Bompodakis

Disney’s colors of the wind – POC presentation and Disney movies

“Encanto” is the newest animation movie produced by the Walt Disney Company. With its release date set on the 21st of November 2021, Disney fans can look forward to a humorous addition to the list of impactful and love-filled 3D animation movies. Especially one country is celebrating the announcement of “Encanto”: Columbia. With the story taking place in the beautiful and culturally diverse South American country, Columbians are ecstatic to see themselves being represented on the big screen. But why exactly is it important to have diverse representation in media, and why is it especially impactful that the movie is a Disney product?

The ever-changing entertainment industry

With the rise of social media came a new way to amplify your own voice online, which is especially important for minorities and people of color (POC). While today’s media landscape might seem colorful and representing a wide variety of people, this wasn’t always the case. White people were dominating the movie industry, which meant the media they produced were heavily focused on white people as well. If people of color were included in movies or shows, they often were subject to stereotypes. For years, however, the industry has been changing and is becoming more inclusive. More and more movies and shows are being directed and written by people of color, and more POC actors are shown on screen.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall

Why exactly do we need POC representation in our media? The answer is simple: it’s a more accurate reflection of our world. There isn’t just the British or American culture and there are not just white European people. There are more cultures in the world than many can even imagine, and they have the same right to see themselves being represented in media as anyone else. A Columbian child growing up and only seeing European or North American culture being portrayed in their favorite shows might lead to them missing out on their own culture.

Disney, the media giant

The Disney company owns many big movie studios and popular franchises in the industry, among them Pixar and Marvel. With their movies being the more successful ones on the market, they have a huge influence on what, and more importantly who, we see on the screen. As many superhero movies in Disney’s arsenal already state: with great power comes great responsibility. Disney arguably has a huge responsibility to bear when it comes to accurately representing POC and different cultures. There are, of course, older movies that already made attempts, for example Aladdin or Pocahontas. However, these movies often succeeded only partially, and their representation is subject to criticism. With “Encanto” Disney has granted themselves another try at satisfying their diverse fanbase, and hopefully they won’t disappoint their Columbian fans.

Author: Oskar Kartasinski

Dear Diary …

Writing as a way of learning about yourself

The way we document the events of our lives has changed from a way of saving our private thoughts and memories to an action that is shared with the world. We switched from pen and paper to smartphone cameras and social media. However, there are still benefits to writing in a journal and expressing the mind with pen and paper.

… they said: “stop taking pictures”

Nowadays, with being constantly connected to others through social media, some people tend to think that the events in our lives, our greatest memories, are meant to be seen by other people on the internet. Other people also share pictures of their vacation, so we should do it as well, right? The answer is: it is up to you. The important thing is not to put pressure on yourself. Don’t allow the thought of taking the perfect picture for the internet to distract you from gaining pleasant memories.

Sitting down in the evening and writing in a diary is a good way of raising awareness of your actions throughout the day. Writing about your conversations can help to reflect on your relationships with others. Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves how much impact our environment has on us.

… I think I haven’t done anything today

Through writing regularly, we can also track our productivity and overall, how we are living. Having nothing to write about can mean that we spent a lot of time doing something that might not be worth mentioning, like browsing through the internet for most of the day. We can reflect on that and figure out if it was just procrastination or exhaustion after events or tasks of the past days. Flipping to prior pages is enough to find out. While reading through those entries, we can also see if we spend most of our days living exactly the same or take the necessary time to meet friends, travel and make memories. Writing almost every day that we’ve spent eight to twelve hours working or studying and only having the energy left to lie around afterwards is what makes the contents on social media so interesting to us. Instead of experiencing certain things for ourselves, we rather watch how others do it.

… I’m feeling better now

Writing can be calming and ease the mind. We can be honest with ourselves and let our emotions flow into the paper. As already mentioned, diaries raise our awareness, not only of our actions but also of our feelings. Sometimes, we might think that the issue that is bothering us is not important to us. “Let’s forget it and not bother others with talking about it.” Our diaries will never be bothered. These abstract emotions get a physical form on paper and become visible. If the same issue is mentioned several times, we can do something about it.

The diary gives us the opportunity to learn about what makes us happy, what is overwhelming, and what should be changed in our lives. We get to know ourselves better and that’s why documenting daily events in your diary has way more advantages than sharing it online.

Author: Merve Cevic

Is Cancel Culture working?

Why Cancel Culture is Problematic

Cancelling people has become a widespread phenomenon in the last decade. Not only celebrities, but journalists, politicians, professors, artists and across the entire media and political landscape are affected. Cancelling an individual, however, often goes beyond simply pointing out mistakes they made. It is often imbued with ideological beliefs, posing a huge threat to constructive criticism and real progress.

Understanding the Debate

Cancel Culture can be seen as a position of moral high ground which is used by an individual or a group of people to oust someone from social or professional circles. It’s often connected to social media, as it poses as an easy way to publicly point out mistakes people have made. An example where social media was predominantly involved is the #MeToo movement of 2017, in which women were encouraged to come forward with stories about sexual harassment they have experienced. A prominent figure that was – justly – cancelled was Harvey Weinstein. The case of Weinstein clearly shows one of the advantages Cancel Culture provides: successfully seeking and often rightfully pointing out grievances.

The Shortcomings of Cancel Culture

Even though there are many instances where Cancel Culture came forth as useful, inspiring entire movements, it shouldn’t be treated uncritically. Especially on social media, cancellations can happen almost at lightspeed. Earlier that day someone was a genuine, down-to-earth celebrity and from one moment to another, they are someone to avoid. Cancellation instead of conversation seems to be the mantra of such debates. James Gunn, for example, was called out when a right-wing media personality discovered offensive tweets that he posted in 2009 and 2010. The outcry on Twitter was tremendous, leading Disney to fire the director in a response to the outrage. The media backlash was mostly led by progressive leftists despite having originated from the opposite side of the political spectrum. All of this happened without taking into consideration how Gunn’s position on the matter has changed since then, rendering his personal growth in the past ten years practically invisible. Even after having apologised for the tweets that he posted a decade ago, it took a lot of effort from various actors and actresses to get him rehired by Disney. Judging people based on things they did throughout their lives doesn’t always paint an accurate picture of what they stand for today. Another shortcoming is the actual lack of reach and consequences for people that have been cancelled. Kanye West, for instance, faced a massive backlash as well after publicly supporting Donald Trump and calling slavery “a choice”. Yet the outcries have had very little consequences for his career, his music, and his fashion.

What Cancel Culture Misses

Cancel Culture can be problematic because it’s often used as a weapon more than it’s used to point out grievances. However, this isn’t to say that it can’t be used to hold people accountable. The way it is often executed is just missing vital parts of any discussion: constructivism and engagement in good faith.  Sometimes, it can be more about destroying a person and making way for personal beliefs rather than constructive criticism based on facts.

Author: Samuel Brand

The story behind garden gnomes

Cultural heritage or just a funny German tradition?

Walking through a German suburb, you often get to see some little red-capped and white-bearded creatures, smiling or staring at you. Garden gnomes. “Oh no”, you think while passing by, “this is so typically German”. In fact, an estimated 25 million garden gnomes live in Germany’s gardens. So, no wonder that they became a part of many people’s imagination of a German stereotype. But do you actually know where this trend comes from?

What are garden gnomes?

Garden gnomes are small statuettes that are used as garden décor. Most of them look like squat little men with white beards and red pointy hats, so-called Phrygian caps. You can spot the typical gnomes doing leisure activities like gardening (while holding their garden tools, of course). However, a current funny part of this trend is that some gnomes portray stereotypes of certain groups or carry uncommon attributes. So, a real garden gnome collector may be in possession of figures with biker suits, a German football jersey or a bathing suit and sunglasses. People might even give them names – there really are no limits to creativity!

The origin of garden gnomes

To discover how these little guys actually came to end up in our gardens, we have to travel back to ancient Rome, when decorating already was a huge thing. Back then they put statues of their fertility god in gardens to defend them from evil spirits. During the Renaissance era, the folklore around gnomes grew thanks to German fairy tales and myths. Inspired by stories portraying gnomes as little creatures living in forests, people put the statues in their gardens as well by the beginning of the 18th century. However, at this time only wealthy families could afford that, as the first gnomes on the market were made of terra cotta. Nevertheless, the trend soon spread across Europe and the production of garden gnomes flourished in Germany. Thanks to new and more economical options for material, gnomes also became affordable for lower classes.

The mystic part behind it

“Garden gnome” comes from the Greek genomos meaning “earth-dweller”. As I already said, the popularity around gnomes emerged from myths and legendary tales. Gnomes were believed to have magical powers and to live underground or deep in a forest. Traditionally, people believed that gnomes could help humans in their garden, but only during the night when nobody could see them – as in the light of day they would again transform into stone. We might probably never know if this part of the story was really true – or have you ever spent an entire night in your garden looking to see if anything was moving?

The traveling gnome prank

If you’ve never heard about the Garden Gnome Liberation Front, this game will probably amuse you. The community originating in France made it their mission to liberate garden gnomes from their owners’ servitude and take them with them on their travels. The owners then received pictures of their stolen gnomes in front of famous places – and when the gnomes were returned after their journey, they often carried a travel diary documenting their newly gained freedom.

So, a German cliché?

As you’ve seen, there’s much more behind the story of garden gnomes than you might have thought. Their stories date back to ancient mythologies about gnomes and dwarfs, which were told through generations. Today, apart from a handful of serious garden-gnome-collectors, people certainly regard them as funny. However, they’re still part of Germany’s cultural heritage.

Author: Marie Peter

Garou, the Tragic Monster

Justice from the Point of View of an Antagonist

Being the strongest character is the ultimate goal for the protagonist of any Shōnen anime – but what if that ultimate power is also a curse?

The anime One Punch Man starts off by handing us a protagonist, Saitama, who’s already the strongest character in his universe. In fact, he’s so strong he can defeat any enemy with a single punch – hence the name. This power is his ultimate curse, as it leaves him bored and depressed. He simply doesn’t get excited about anything anymore. Now, my favorite character from One Punch Man is not Saitama, but Garou, a 19-year-old human with martial arts skills. Garou is not a friend of Saitama’s; he is, in fact, the exact opposite, an antagonist, who even calls himself a monster, despite being an ordinary human.

While Saitama is the protagonist of One Punch Man, every character has their own unique background story, circumstances, and motivation for what they’re doing, and Garou’s are what make him my favorite antagonist in all of anime history. His story starts as a little kid, when he’s playing with his classmates. Every kid has watched TV shows about heroes fighting bad guys, but Garou, unlike the other kids, is always rooting for the monsters, who get so close to defeating the heroes, but can never succeed. When playing with the other kids, he always plays the villain, and he gets bullied and beaten up in return. Whenever he stands up against a “hero”, other kids come and help that kid defeat Garou. In the light of these events, Garou decides that he wants to be different: he wants to be a monster that breaks the cycle of the heroes winning. He wants to become the ultimate monster that will defeat every hero.

Because he’s getting bullied and beaten, Garou quits school and joins a Martial Arts dojo run by S-Class heroes, who are the highest-ranked heroes on the fictional planet of Silverfang. He trains every day to become stronger and more powerful, but his Sensei has no idea about Garou’s actual intensions. When he turns 19, he realises that he can´t learn anything at the Dojo anymore, so he leaves. Before leaving, however, he defeats every other student and almost kills them all. Garou thinks he’s now ready to end the constant defeat of villains and monsters, so he declares war on the Hero Association. He defeats a few heroes with ease; however, many more follow and try to stop him. Although struggling, Garou manages to strike them down. Now, in most movies and TV shows, the villain first overpowers the hero(es) and comes really close to winning. In the last possible moment, the hero(es) get that one, critical extra boost of power through friendship or love and manage to hold their ground. With Garou, it’s the exact opposite: at the start of each battle, the heroes overpower him, and he needs to find some extra strength to defeat the heroes.

What’s interesting is that I found myself rooting for him every time, because to me, he feels more like a misunderstood hero. Even though he’s the antagonist of the anime’s actual main character, whenever he is on screen, he becomes the protagonist. After all, we’ve learned his backstory, seen fights from his perspective, heard his thoughts, know his ideas and anticipate his tricks. Those are all features usually reserved for the main character! So Garou is presented to the viewer as the protagonist, even though he is a villain. To me, that makes him the best antagonist in all of anime.

Author: Chris Schneider