The United States and the European Union

This is an essay I wrote for a class I took in the fall of 2016 titled “Austrian Politics and Society in a European Context.” I’ve decided to publish it here because… why not?
In the wake of the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the world was left massively changed. The era of two superpowers had ended; for a while, the world lived under the hegemony of the United States of America. That era, too, has come to an end, though a much quieter one: new superpowers have begun to develop. China is coming into its own as a world power; India has high aspirations that have yet to be realized; the Russian Federation has, under the control of Vladimir Putin, used the legacy of the Soviet Union to re-emerge as a military superpower, if not an economic one. The most interesting emergent superpower, however, is the European Union: rebuilt in the wake of the Second World War by the United States as a colony-esque bulwark against the spread of Communism, it has become an economic powerhouse to rival the United States. The European Union, thanks to its history of US-backed construction, has the most in common with the reigning hegemon; it does, however, have some key differences. It is these similarities and differences that will be examined in this paper.
The core institutions of the European Union (E.U.) are, in writing at least, more complex a structure than those of the United States (U.S.A.): while the E.U. has seven key institutions, the government of the U.S.A. is split into three.12 What is, in the U.S.A., the Executive Branch of the government is in the E.U. distributed across several institutions: the European Council, combining the heads of state of all the member nations into a President-by-committee; the European Commission, to handle the day-to-day functionality of the E.U. in all its aspects; the European Central Bank, coordinating the monetary policy of the E.U.; and the Court of Auditors, ensuring that the monetary policy and budgetary strictures of the E.U. are actually being followed. The Legislative Branch is, similarly to the U.S.A., a bicameral structure, though split into the Council of the European Union and the Parliament, rather than into a Senate and House as in the United States. The Judicial Branch in the U.S.A. is closely matched in structure by the European Court of Justice in the E.U.: the Court of Justice itself at the top, in answer to the Supreme Court of the U.S.A., with a network of lower courts beneath it.
Within these structures are further differences. One of the most visible differences is in the party systems of the two unions. In the U.S.A., two parties have nigh-on absolute control of the political system: the liberal Democrats and the conservative Republicans. Smaller parties exist, but none are large enough even to have ballot access in every state, making them largely irrelevant on the national playing field.3 In the E.U., the political system allows for representation of more parties: in the current European Parliament, seven different parties are represented amongst the 762 Members of the European Parliament (M.E.P.s), and 31 M.E.P.s are listed as “unattached” – generally referring to an affiliation with a party that exists only within their member state, and not across the E.U. as a whole.4 A point of similarity across both, however, is the existence of partisan politics – the vitriolic nature of the recent election in the U.S.A. demonstrates the prevalence of blind party loyalty. The E.U., as well, is to some degree guilty: take, for example, the actions of the European People’s Party to shield Hungary’s Orban government from criticisms in the European Parliament.5
The varying parties are not the only way in which the two superpowers differ. The U.S.A. has always had a common foreign policy; it is one of the rights granted to the President and the Congress by the Constitution. In the E.U., this is not so – though the Treaty of Lisbon created the office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the powers of that seat are still limited largely to defense and security policy.6 The other core difference between the two is in their sources of revenue: the U.S.A. is able to levy taxes directly, while the E.U. income is a mix of direct contributions from member nations, a very small percentage of the E.U.-wide Value Added Tax, and import duties on non-E.U. goods.7 This creates a sharp difference between the amount of monetary force the organizations are able to throw behind their various initiatives. For example, the United States federal research and development budget for 2017 is almost the same as the entirety of the E.U. budget for the same time period.89 The budgetary differences alone are enough to guarantee that the federal government of the U.S.A. is much more powerful, relatively, than the E.U. is in relation to its member states.
Economic differences, however, are not the only reason that the federal government of the U.S.A. holds more power than the institutions of the E.U.: the largest part of this difference is due to the set of powers given directly to the organizations. In the E.U., this list of powers (or rather, competences, as they are termed by the organization) is fairly concise: the creation of a customs union, the ability to create competition rules to maintain the internal market, Eurozone monetary policy, the common commercial policy, a limited ability to conclude international agreements, and the common fisheries policy for the conservation of marine biological resources.10 In the United States, that same list of fiscal powers is given to the national government, but has several additions on top of that. These additions include the full spectrum of foreign policy, notably the declaration of war; the creation of the armed forces, as an extension of foreign policy; the creation of post offices; and the ability to create any law that is “necessary and proper” to carry out those other powers.11 And, of course, the fact remains that the E.U. does not have the capability to levy taxes, while the federal government of the U.S.A. shares that ability with the states. At their root, the two superpowers have a very different stance on the centralization of power; as a result of this, the governance of the U.S.A. is much more cohesive than that of the E.U.
Economically, the two have quite a bit in common: they are the two most powerful economies in the world, and sit comfortably at the top of the “developed” economies list.12 The top ten companies worldwide, by revenue, includes three U.S. corporations and three E.U. corporations, in a mixed order.13 The picture changes a bit when sorted by profitability: the three Chinese state-owned and the Japanese contender all vanish… as do the three E.U. corporations. Instead, the list becomes entirely U.S. companies, mostly financial services firms but made incredibly top-heavy by the presence of Apple.14 In both finance and information technology, the U.S.A. has a strong lead over the E.U., a gap that may grow larger with the pending Brexit talks: not only will Britain take BP (the 10th-largest company in the world) with her when she goes, but with her goes London, the “financial capital of the world.”15
At the governmental level, more similarities and differences are evident: the U.S. Dollar remains one of the world’s strongest currencies, and serves as the official currency of the entirety of the U.S.A., as well as a remarkably long list of other countries. The Euro, though nearly as strong, lacks the historical backing of the dollar, and theoretically only applies to those member states that meet the requirements to join the Eurozone – though, one should note, that a few non-Eurozone member states use it as their official or de facto currency, and the membership requirements for the Eurozone have not always been met by its members.16 The central banks of the two superpowers have similar levels of power, though their response to the global financial slump in the 2000s was quite different: the European Central Bank focused on containing inflation, while the Federal Reserve System in the U.S.A. was much more active in restoring the U.S. economy.17 There is also a notable weakness in the European banking system, thanks in no small part to the different division of power: the lack of a strong pan-European banking union.18 In the U.S.A., the Federal Deposit Insurance Company provides deposit insurance to member banks, providing a strong signal of trustworthiness for member banks to show to their customers; the E.U. does not yet have anything of a similar scale.19
By far the largest difference between the two powers, however, is defense spending. The U.S.A. famously spends more than $500 billion per year on defense, while the E.U. as a whole spends less than half what the U.S.A. does. Per capita, the difference is even larger: the U.S.A. comes in as the third-largest per-capita spender at just under $2,000 per person per year, while across the E.U. the spending averages just under $350 per person per year.20 This disparity likely arises from the history between the two: during the Cold War, the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union seemed poised, at all times, to turn Europe into a battlefield once more. As a result, the U.S.-backed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) poured more and more military resources into Europe. When the Soviet Union fell, NATO did not, and has left Europe with a strong military defense that is, by and large, funded by the U.S. taxpayer. The continued presence of U.S. personnel and matériel in Europe, then, helps to reduce the need for either European states or the European Union as a whole to seriously invest in their own military.
The ongoing presence of NATO is not the sole reason for less military spending in Europe than in the U.S.A.: another significant contributing factor is the cultural differences between the two. Taken as a whole, the U.S.A. is significantly more in favor of violence than the E.U., in a variety of ways. The most visible, of course, is their policies on guns: the Second Amendment has ensconced the right to ownership of weapons in U.S. law for centuries; the E.U. makes no such constitutional provision, and, in fact, has been working to limit gun access across the entire E.U.21 As a people, Europeans like guns less than Americans: there are three guns in private hands for every ten Europeans, while the figure in the U.S.A. is nine guns to every ten people.22 Even their response to gun violence differs massively, with a requirement for E.U. membership being a ban on the death penalty; compare this to the U.S.A., where in the 2016 election three states passed ballot measures that implemented or re-implemented capital punishment.2324 On punishment in general, the U.S.A. is harsher than the E.U., with nearly six times as many prisoners per 100,000 people. Even the most punishment-happy E.U. country – Lithuania, with 254 of every 100,000 people incarcerated – only imprisons people at a third of the rate of the U.S.A.25
This stands out as an area of heavy government involvement for a nation that generally prefers their leadership to have a light touch. As a whole, the people of the U.S.A. tend to be very individualistic, and regard their own work ethic and abilities as the primary, if not only, driving force behind their success or lack thereof in life.26 This stands in contrast to the peoples of the E.U., who generally see success in life as being determined by forces outside their control; in Germany, the strongest economy within the E.U., less than a third of the population agreed with the individualistic mindset of the U.S.A.27 In a similar vein, the origins of the European welfare state are fairly visible in the ideals of the E.U. population – Americans largely want to be left to achieve their goals alone, while Europeans would rather their governments “guarantee that no one is in need.”28
This is not to say that Americans and Europeans disagree on everything – the U.S.A. and the E.U. form the core of what is regarded as “the West,” pitted against the forces of the East – the former Soviet Union, and now, the growing power of China. For the people of the West, democracy is a core ideal, and the freedoms that come with it and help to ensure it are of great importance to the peoples of the U.S.A. and the E.U. both.29 Religious freedom is fairly important to both superpowers, but they differ significantly in where they come from that stance: Europe, long the bulwark of Christianity, has fallen from that position as their increasing wealth brings decreasing belief in god.30 The U.S.A., meanwhile, is considered “the great exception” – a country that is both wealthy and deeply religious; the bastion of Christianity, maintaining belief when the original stronghold fell.31
The U.S.A. is unified by more than just belief in the Bible. Perhaps the most important unifying factor for the country is the fact that the entire population shares a single language – only seven percent of the population does not speak English to some degree or another.32 Within the E.U., no such universal language exists – English is the most broadly-spoken language within the E.U., and only a third of the population can speak it.33 This, obviously, can make communication difficult across the E.U.: Europeans regard translation as an important part of life, if not an every-day component of it.34 For the average U.S. citizen, though, such a thought is unlikely to enter their mind – there are a variety of jokes told that riff on the concept of U.S. citizens telling tourists or immigrants to “speak American” when they hear a language other than English being used. Jingoism aside, having a single common language allows for other commonalities – like the existence of a single news network to cover the entire country. Though the U.S.A. does not have a single news network covering the country, it does have networks that provide nationwide coverage – CNN, ABC, and Fox all jockeying for ratings across the entire country. There is no pan-European news network, however; the closest analogue would be broadcast news that cycles through coverage in multiple languages.
The E.U. has more problems with unity than just the lack of a common language across the E.U.: it also lacks a cohesive culture. Within the U.S.A. there are different subcultures: each state has their own identity, and different regions also have theirs. But some things are universal: the nation comes together to watch the Super Bowl, to light off fireworks on the 4th of July, and to never forget 9/11.35 Europe has an answer to the first in the World Cup, but there is no European Independence Day, and no shared day of mourning.36 The U.S.A. has their share of heroes – Abraham Lincoln may be a bit controversial in the South, and Stonewall Jackson similarly so in the North, but George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Hamilton are fairly universal in their appeal. Though the Commission has tried to create a list of founding fathers of the E.U., for one reason or another they have not picked up the same amount of dramatic flair.37 Looking further back into history, each country has their own heroes, from Empress Maria Theresia for the Austrians to Napoleon for the French. But each of these heroes is a villain in another place: Maria Theresia was a religiously oppressive empress, and Napoleon did so much damage to Europe in his wars that he was sent to exile multiple times. There are no universal European heroes, as of yet, and with neither heroes nor language in common, the citizens of the E.U. can find it difficult, at times, to see anything truly keeping them together. This lack of a coherent identity is an ongoing problem faced by the leadership of the E.U., though hopefully they will find a way to address it before it pulls the E.U. apart at the seams.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the world has gone through a series of major changes. Fortunately, the age of unilateral rule by the U.S.A. was a short one, and new superpowers rose to counterbalance U.S. power. The E.U., as one of these counterbalancing powers, has the most in common with the U.S.A., but they are certainly not the same. Politically, the two have strong structural differences, from the further division of high-level power present in the E.U. to the relatively lesser powers of the states within the U.S.A.. The relationship between the two is interesting due to the split in power present in the E.U. – some foreign relations are handled at the E.U. level and others at the per-state level. Nonetheless, both are democratic organizations and are unified by their devotion to those ideals.
The U.S.A. has remained the dominant world superpower thanks to having a blend of both hard and soft power – the U.S. military is second to none, and the country remains the most powerful single economies in the world. The E.U., though lacking in any real amount of hard power, is a strong contender for the coveted spot of top global economy. The development of the Euro has brought the countries of the Eurozone closer together, though not without some bumps along the way.
Finally, the two superpowers are culturally very similar – both are, almost by definition, Western civilizations. Both value democracy highly, though the manners in which they do this vary – the people of the United States tend to be more individualistic than their counterparts in the European Union. More than just that divides them – the United States has a strong identity as a country, while the European Union is still struggling to establish such a concept of itself as a coherent whole. This is not expressed solely in the opinions of the people that make up the two superpowers: it is also eminently visible in the different degrees to which the two have centralized power. In sum, though the European Union and the United States of America have some key differences, they also have a great deal in common.

Bibliography

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 Matthias Matthjis and R. Daniel Kelemen: “Europe Reborn: How to Save the European Union from Irrelevance” from January/February 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs
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 Tom Dyson and Theodore Konstadinides: “Understanding the Limitations of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy” http://www.e-ir.info/2013/09/26/understanding-the-limitations-of-the-eus-common-security-and-defence-policy-a-legal-perspective/ Published 2013-09-26, accessed 2016-11-15
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EUR-Lex: “Directive 94/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on deposit-guarantee schemes” http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:31994L0019 Accessed 2016-11-23
EUR-Lex: “Division of competences within the European Union” http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3Aai0020 Accessed 2016-11-20
Europa: “Budget” https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/budget_en Accessed 2016-11-15
Europa: “How is the E.U. funded?” https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/money/revenue-income_en Accessed 2016-11-15
Europa: “The Founding Fathers of the EU” https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/history/founding-fathers_en Accessed 2016-11-20
Fortune: “Global 500” http://beta.fortune.com/global500/ Accessed 2016-11-20
Fortune: “Top 10 Most Profitable Fortune 500 Companies in 2015” http://fortune.com/2016/06/08/fortune-500-most-profitable-companies-2016/ Accessed 2016-11-20
infoplease: “Powers of the Government” http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0877699.html Accessed 2016-11-20
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  1. Strasbourg l’européene: Detailed explanations about the Institutions of the European Union 
  2. USA.gov: Branches of Government 
  3. Ballotpedia: List of Political Parties in the United States 
  4. It’s Your Parliament .eu: Groups 
  5. Matthjis and Kelemen, page 107 
  6. Dyson and Konstadinides, “Understanding the Limitations of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy” 
  7. Europa: How is the E.U. funded? 
  8. White House Office of Management and Budget: “The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017” 
  9. Europa: “Budget” 
  10. EUR-Lex: Division of competences within the European Union 
  11. infoplease: Powers of the Government 
  12. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook: Statistical Appendix 
  13. Fortune: Global 500 
  14. Fortune: Top 10 Most Profitable Fortune 500 Companies in 2015 
  15. KennedyPearce Consulting: London vs New York: Which is the world’s financial capital? 
  16. BBC News: Greece admits fudging euro entry 
  17. Kang, Ligthart, and Mody: “The ECB and the Fed: A comparative narrative” 
  18. Matthjis and Kelemen, page 104 
  19. EUR-Lex: Directive 94/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on deposit-guarantee schemes 
  20. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute: SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 
  21. CNN Money: Europe’s gun laws are about to get even tougher 
  22. Ash, page 74 
  23. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union 
  24. Reuters: Death penalty gains new support from voters in several U.S. states 
  25. BBC News In Depth: World Prison Populations 
  26. Pew Research: 5 ways Americans and Europeans are different 
  27. Ibid. 
  28. Ash, page 74 
  29. Pew Research: Support for Democratic Principles 
  30. Pew Research: Generally, poorer nations tend to be religious; wealthy less so, except for U.S. 
  31. Ash, page 74 
  32. U.S. Census Bureau: Language Use in the United States: 2011 
  33. European Commission: Special Eurobarometer 386: Europeans and Their Languages, 19 
  34. Ibid., 9 
  35. Statistica: TV viewership of the Super Bowl in the United States from 1990 to 2016 (in millions) 
  36. FIFA: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Television Audience Report 
  37. Europa: The Founding Fathers of the EU 

The Reforms of Maria Theresia and Joseph II: The Enlightenment in Austria

This is an essay I wrote for a class I took in the fall of 2016, titled “Austrian Cultural History.” I’ve decided to publish it here because… why not?
The Enlightenment took longer to arrive in the Holy Roman Empire than it did for the other superpowers of the time, but arrive it did. Thanks to the lack of a strong bourgeois class within the population of the Empire, however, Enlightenment did not spring up from below as it did in France. Instead, it was applied from the top down, by the reigning monarchs of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine: Maria Theresia and, later, Joseph II. Under those two rulers (arguably three, because Leopold II, the Emperor following Joseph II, seemed to have plans to continue the works of his predecessors before he died) the Holy Roman Empire felt numerous changes to bring it more in line with the Enlightened thinking of the day.
The Enlightenment brought numerous changes to Europe as a whole, but undoubtedly the furthest-reaching area in which those changes were made was the realm of civil rights. Under the Habsburgs, these changes were limited, as “Enlightened monarchs saw it as their duty to think for their subjects.”1 The largest change implemented in the Habsburg empire was the abolition of serfdom, a slow and complex process that occupied Maria Theresia and her son Joseph II during their respective reigns. Maria Theresia began the process, granting her peasant subjects many of the rights previously afforded only to free tenants. The peasantry was endowed with freedom of movement, the ability to marry without the explicit approval of their liege lord, and freedom to choose their own occupation – though what was granted on paper and what was granted in effect were different. Also notably absent from the list of rights granted to the peasants was freedom from personal service to their liege lord – it was Maria Theresia’s opinion that doing so would lead to the complete dissolution of the lord/subject relationship, eventually causing a complete slide into anarchy.2
Under Joseph II, the expansion of the rights of the peasantry continued – though, in his characteristic fashion, it was done too rapidly and wound up causing more problems than it solved. With the tax and urbanarial regulation of 1789, Joseph II converted the requirement of personal service to their liege lord into a monetary burden, a 30% tax intended to replicate the work accomplished by the traditional system under which two of every five working days were filled with working the lands of the liege lord.3 What he failed to account for was the fact that the agrarian areas in which this was to take effect did not work on a monetary economy like Vienna and the other cities of the empire, but almost entirely on barter. Prepared for argument from the liege lords, Joseph was surprised by the vehemence of the resistance offered by the peasants themselves – the very people his reform had been intended to help.4 Joseph II also brought about other civil rights reforms, beginning with decreasing the amount of censorship in public – though, it should be noted, he replaced it with strong disincentives for those producing works that didn’t match the utilitarian party line. He also enacted legal reform that meant the laws treated all, from the peasantry to the nobility, equally. Unlike his mother, he even opted to halt the use of capital punishment. In this regard he was once again more utilitarian than humanitarian: his Code of Substantive Criminal Law of 1787 replaced capital punishment with life sentences of hard labor, in order “to give the government the benefit of a wretched criminal’s toil.”5
The Enlightenment also brought with it an increasing concern for public health. While Joseph II focused on the construction of public hospitals, Maria Theresia focused more on altering the policies of her empire in order to effect change. Under her reign, vaccination came to the Holy Roman Empire – thanks in no small part to her willingness to have her own children vaccinated. Having used her own flesh and blood to prove the efficacy of the then-unpopular concept, she began to expand the use of vaccination further, going so far as to host a dinner at her Schönbrunn Palace for the first group of children to be vaccinated. She also made provisions for the increasing of medical knowledge, creating a law that made autopsies mandatory for all hospital deaths in the city of Graz – a mandate that produced one of the most thorough records in all of Europe.
For Joseph II, public health reform was an easy decision – not only was it the humanitarian thing to do, but it also met his utilitarian goals: “healthy subjects meant a healthy state.”6 Foremost of his projects was the construction of the Allgemeines Krankenhaus, and the accompanying  Guglhupf (née  Narrenturm), the first such construction the Empire had ever seen.7 Rather than regarding the poor, the ill, and the insane as a single group that should be avoided at all costs, he saw that their problems were distinct and should be treated separately. This focus on public health went further: he opened both the Parter and the Augarten to the public, ignoring the complaints of nobles regarding the lower class invasion of their formerly private rectums. were being invaded by the lower classes.8 He also ordered the cobbling of all the streets within the Viennese city proper, and instituted both a law requiring those new streets by wetted twice a day to prevent dust and a system of prisoner labor to provide such maintenance as the city needed.9
But once again, Joseph had his failings: in the regard of public health, it was his overzealous attempt to regulate the ways in which the Viennese could bury their dead. For the sake of efficiency, he created a system by which the bodies of the dead were put in mass graves, rather than taking the amount of space and effort that individual graves required. What was universally regarded as a step too far, however, was the reusable coffin – a wooden construct into which the body would be laid. The funeral (also regulated down from a miniature Baroque pageant, in the true Viennese style, to something as time-efficient as reasonably possible) would be carried out, and then the priest would release a mechanism, opening the bottom of the coffin and unceremoniously dropping the body therein into the grave below. This affront to the sensibilities of his subjects could not be borne, and after only four months he was forced to retract the decree that created the system of reusable coffins in the first place.10
Though Joseph II is rather famous for having attempted far grander reforms than his mother, there was one area in which he left her changes largely untouched: education. This is perhaps because education was the one area in which Maria Theresia’s reforms were on the same grand scale that Joseph himself preferred to work. Education was also the area that likely would have caused her the most personal anguish, being a large break from the way she herself was raised. Under Maria Theresia, the absolute control of the Austrian education system was finally wrested from the Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church and instead placed firmly under the auspices of the state. While the educational system as a whole was not secularized – Maria Theresia was a steadfast believer in the tenets of the Catholic Church, while Joseph II at least recognized the utility of religion in the daily lives of his subjects – the colleges were allowed to expand from the realm of theology, and the long-standing requirement that the students be Catholics themselves was removed. For the lower levels of education, Maria Theresia acted the caring grandmother, creating a school system based on the one used in Prussia that was mandatory from the age of 6 up until the students were 12 years old. She was quite vehement in ensuring that it would take effect, as well: those who resisted the new system were arrested. Perhaps she could have stewed less dissent if she had provided for the costs of the education, but the education was not free; though the seizure of the assets of the Jesuit Order had provided some income that was put towards the new system, this was not able to meet the full cost of the education system.11 Between the cost of textbooks and the cost of tuition itself, the newly implemented schools were none too popular with the parents of the freshly-minted students.
For Joseph, this system was apparently satisfactory. He left it almost entirely untouched, though he did reduce the stature of some of the smaller universities of the realm, judging those in Prague and Vienna to be sufficient to meet the needs of his grand bureaucracy.12 As in all things, he was a utilitarian, and intervened with the university programs to ensure that all their work was for practical purposes: “[Joseph] supported general education only to the extent that the material benefits for society were demonstrable.”13 The only large change he made came as part of a larger edict, by which the institutions of the imperial government as a whole changed their formal language from Latin (or, in some cases, the local language) to German, helping to consolidate the governance of the Empire.
Unlike in the field of education, in the realm of religion Joseph II was far more willing to create change than his mother. Under Maria Theresia, religious reform was so limited as to be nearly nonexistent. She argued that religious freedom was something that “no Catholic prince can permit without heavy responsibility,” and, by and large, wanted little to do with the regulation of the church.14 Her sole aim, with regard to the Church, was to ensure the “primacy of government control in Church-state relations.”15
Joseph II stands in contrast to her restraint towards ecclesiastical affairs. As his reign began, he issued the Patent of Tolerance, granting permission for Jews and Protestants to practice whichever religion they so chose.16 Barring certain architectural limitations, they were also permitted to construct places of worship for their religions. He was not, however, in favor of unbridled religion: even as he was allowing other to practice theirs, he began to limit the ways in which faith could be displayed. The regulations he produced, spanning everything from how long a sermon could last to how many candles were permitted at the altar, “occasionally assumed the character of pettiness.”1718 The aforementioned burial changes were a part of this crusade of efficiency, one of the most visibly unsuccessful aspects of it. But by far the largest of his religious reforms was his nationalization of roughly half of the 2,000 monasteries in Austria and the collection of some 60 million Gulden in taxes and seized assets.19 The resulting funds were placed in a Religious Fund (Religionsfond) that was used to fund the construction and maintenance of a wave of parish churches, striving for an ideal by which “no one should be more than an hour’s walk from his local church.”20
The core of Joseph’s religious reforms was the idea that Catholicism, and religion in general, was a tool of the state. There is even some evidence that he considered the foundation of a Church of Austria, taking religion from an area where it was regulated by the state to a realm in which it was directly controlled.21 As part of these efforts, he made numerous other changes to bring the Church to heel: marriage was made from an ecclesiastical into a civil procedure; the number of religious holidays recognized by the state was reduced; and joining monasteries was discouraged, in no small part by banning the taking of monastic vows before the age of 24.2223 His concept of ‘modernized Catholicism’ was not only a Catholicism obedient to the state, it was one that did as little as possible to interfere with the productivity of the populace, instead encouraging the subjects of the empire to work for the collective betterment of the state and her people.
There were other reforms, of course, though none quite so far-reaching as those mentioned above. No discussion of Maria Theresia’s changes would be complete without a mention of the “comprehensive reforms” of the Empire’s military that she was forced to make in her struggle to hold the throne.24 In order to support her new military machine, she also became responsible for the construction of a new centralized bureaucracy, “adapting ancient institutions to modern needs.”25 Many of the new institutions she created are still functional today, including “the Officers’ Military Academy at Wiener Neustadt and the ‘Theresianum’ Diplomatic College in Vienna.”26 In doing so, she increased the status of Vienna as a whole, making it even more than before the heart of the Empire.27
Of Joseph II’s reforms, many have been left unmentioned – he was rather prolific in that regard. Unlike his predecessors, who left the Baroque palaces of Vienna and Austria, he focused on the construction of public goods – hospitals, orphanages, barracks, and so on.28 He continued his mother’s expansions of the city of Vienna, not only cleaning the streets but also lighting them, and enforcing the clear labelling of streets and houses.29
Maria Theresia, known as the ‘daughter of one age and mother of another,’ marked the beginning of the Enlightenment in the Holy Roman Empire. Though she herself wasn’t fully in favor of the ideals of the era, she nonetheless made numerous changes to help modernize her realm, starting with the requisite military and bureaucratic reforms needed for her to remain on the throne, but then expanding to some civil rights reforms and the educational system for which she is still known today. Her son, Joseph II, was truly an Enlightened emperor – though one who was far less effective, in the long run, than she was, thanks to the overzealous nature of his numerous reforms. Nonetheless, between the two of them they were able to make a great deal of progress towards bringing Enlightened ideals to the Holy Roman Empire.

Bibliography

Kann, Robert A.: “A History of the Habsburg Empire: 1526-1918”
Lehne, Inge and Johnson, Lonnie: “Vienna- The Past in the Present: A Historical Survey”
Parsons, Nicholas: “Vienna: A Cultural History”
Rickett, Richard: “A Brief Survey of Austrian History”


  1. Lehne-Johnson, 70 
  2. Kann, 196 
  3. Kann, 198 
  4. Kann, 199 
  5. Kann, 180 
  6. Lehne-Johnson, 64 
  7. Parsons, 186-187 
  8. Lehne-Johnson, 64-66 
  9. Lehne-Johnson, 66-67 
  10. Lehne-Johnson, 67 
  11. Kann, 193 
  12. Kann, 194 
  13. Kann, 192 
  14. Parsons, 176 
  15. Kann, 187 
  16. Lehne-Johnson, 61 
  17. Rickett, 65 
  18. Lehne-Johnson, 63 
  19. Parsons, 185-186 
  20. Parsons, 186 
  21. Kann, 184 
  22. Kann, 180 
  23. Kann, 189 
  24. Kann, 160 
  25. Rickett, 63-64 
  26. Rickett, 63-64 
  27. Lehne-Johnson, 58 
  28. Lehne-Johnson, 67 
  29. Lehne-Johnson, 70 

Playlist of the Month: March 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day, the Worst Holiday.
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions In The Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Half Light – BANNERS
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Afterthought – Close Talker
Ghosts – Blueneck
Real – Majik
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Lullaby – ö
Haze – Amber Run
Fickle Game – Amber Run
Friends (under the influence) – Majik
Oh Brother – Saint Raymond
Hands Held High – LINKIN PARK
On Hold – The xx
Replica – The xx
Performance – The xx
Saved – Khalid
Alps – Novo Amor & Ed Tullett
Brave For You – The xx
A Violent Noise – The xx
Dream – Imagine Dragons
White Lie – Amber Run
Are You Home? – Amber Run
Machine – Amber Run
In The Morning (Mura Masa Edit) – NAO
Wild (feat. Khai) – Kidswaste
Island – Amber Run
Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay1
Hypnotised – Coldplay
Body High – Harrison Brome
Wastelands – Amber Run2
Allaround – Parcels
Visions (ft. Leu Leu Land) – Danrell & Alec King
Dante’s Creek – THEY.
Words – School of X


  1. This song popped up about two days after Chase pointed out that there wasn’t any Coldplay in my playlist at the moment. Chase, point out the lack of new Explosions in the Sky next, okay? 
  2. We’re talking about romanticism in my music history class at the moment, and I keep wanting to bring this song up, because “And I know you’ll fall in love again/ When you do, I hope you’ll find somebody/ Who you can love like I love you” is just ugh so beautifully romantic 

Playlist of the Month: February 2017

There are more links this time! I changed how I’m doing them, it was a whole thing, don’t ask.1
5AM – Amber Run
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Half Light – BANNERS
Gods in Heat – Tobacco
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA2
 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
Neptune – Sleeping At Last
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Afterthought – CloseTalker
Ghosts – Blueneck
Real – Majik
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Play Dead – Tom Walker
Lullaby – ö
Stranger – Amber Run
No Answers – Amber Run
A Little While – Yellow Days
Haze – Amber Run
Beretta – Matt Black
Fickle Game – Amber Run
Friends (under the influence) – Majik
I’m At The Bottom of The Ocean – Soleil Soleil
Oh Brother – Saint Raymond3
Hands Held High – Linkin Park4
On Hold – The xx
Perfect – Amber Run
Harder – OLIVER RIOT
Replica – The xx5
Performance – The xx
Saved – Khalid
Alps – Novo Amor & Ed Tullett6
Brave for You – The xx
Wayfaring Stranger – alextbh
A Violent Noise – The xx
Smile – Imad Royal
Dream – Imagine Dragons
White Lie – Amber Run
Are You Home? – Amber Run7
Machine – Amber Run
 In The Morning (Mura Masa Edit) – NAO8
Wild (feat. Khai) – Kidswaste
Island – Amber Run


  1. The short version is I’m switching to iTunes links, since Amazon Music was fairly hit-or-miss, and I never actually use it myself beyond finding the links for these things. And I’m putting links on everything now, because it’s significantly easier with iTunes than with Amazon. 
  2. At some point I’m going to figure out the actual lyrics to this, because there’s one line that every time I hear it makes me doubt my understanding of the whole song. 
  3. This one is so fun to sing along to 
  4. Chase goes “y’know, they wrote this song about George Bush. Sucks that it’s relevant again.” 
  5. This album is so good, 10/10 would recommend 
  6. I really like this one but it’s hard to listen to while I’m out listening around because the slightest background noise and it’s just utterly inaudible. 
  7. I honestly haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, but so far this is one of the strongest contenders for being my favorite song off the album. 
  8. I’m a big fan of this one, as well. 

“What’s On My Phone,” or, “without these apps I would ACTUALLY DIE”

School has begun again in earnest, which means I’m suddenly remembering just how much I rely upon my devices for keeping me sane and, more importantly, organized. It’s something I’m apparently rather good at, and I think it’s pretty useful for just about everyone, so I figured I’d share some of the tools I use.1

Calendar (system default)

When you’re taking as many classes as I am,2 plus trying to cram in an extracurricular or two to stay ‘well-rounded,’ it can get a bit hard to remember where you’re supposed to be next. The single best piece of advice I can give you is to figure out how best to use the built-in calendar on your device. Connecting an iCloud or Google account to get it syncing across everything, and you’re golden.34

To-Do List (Things)

Following a well-organized calendar, I’d say the single most important thing to have is a good to-do list. Things is my app of choice for having a to-do list, but there’s a few other options out there – OmniFocus is the powerhouse, but it’s a good bit more expensive than the average college kid is willing to pay. I haven’t really looked into the other ones, but they should all work. The main point here is to have a to-do list. The human brain sucks at remembering things – we all think we’re good at it, and we are horribly wrong. Get into the habit of, when you think of something you have to do, putting it on the list. Doesn’t matter if it’s an app or just a page in your notebook – just get it out of your head and into something permanent.5

Mail (Airmail)

Email!6 It’s a thing, it’s basically mandatory for living in a first-world country, we can’t escape it. May as well make it fairly manageable. Apple’s Mail app is a pretty solid implementation of email, but it’s a bit lacking in integration with third party apps and customizability. Airmail is pretty great at both, and all the settings somehow do iCloud sync better than Apple’s stuff does. And, killer feature? Snoozes. Fairly common in mail apps these days, they make the whole ‘inbox zero’ thing way more manageable.

Writing (Ulysses, Drafts, and Day One)

I do a heck of a lot of writing, and I’ve found that markdown is one of the nicest ways to do it. It’s a very lightweight writing syntax – just type like normal, but if you want to italicize something, wrap it in single-asterisks, and if you want bold, do the same with double-asterisks. It’s got fancier features – links are incredibly easy, footnotes not too difficult, and lists make a lot of sense – but depending on what you’re planning to use it for, those may be all you need. So it makes sense that all the apps in this section are compatible with it.
For the majority of my writing, I use Ulysses. Their library of export themes includes fairly ready-to-use themes that make converting a paper from markdown into ‘ready to submit PDF’ just a couple of clicks, and the library organization makes my heart happy. And, with my writing style,7 the killer feature is footnotes – instead of Markdown’s default footnote syntax, I just type (fn) and it pulls up a nice overlay to write my footnote in. So delightfully easy.
Drafts is for lighter-weight writing – it’s a spin-off of the “don’t try to keep things in your head” system I mentioned under the To-Do List heading above. Not everything that I want to remember is a thing that needs to be done – sometimes it’s a scrap of an idea for a blog post or another piece of writing, or maybe it’s a nonsensical quote for my collection.8 Either way, being able to open up a new note and have it ready to type immediately is nice. That said, there’s very little organization to speak of, so for the sort of stuff I’m doing with Ulysses9 it really wouldn’t work.
Finally, Day One is a journaling app of such high quality that, I kid you not, it was one of the main factors in my deciding to switch to macOS (then OS X) after I graduated from high school. I try to write a summary of every day before I go to bed,10 and it’s nice to be able to flip back through all my old entries and see what I was thinking.11

News (Feedly, Instapaper, and Overcast)

None of my recommendations for news are algorithmically-powered – I have yet to find an algorithm that does a good job of figuring out the sort of news I want to read. So I stick with straight RSS. Feedly is the strong contender for RSS readers ever since the death of Google Reader,12 and while they provide a good API that means there’s a bit of an app ecosystem around them, I’ve found their default app (on iOS, and the web app for macOS) to be perfectly enough.
Now, as you’re reading your RSS feeds, you may come across something you want to read… but not right at this moment. Instapaper is a pretty good service for that – the app is very well-designed, and functions beautifully without internet access, so if you’ve got a cell-service-unfriendly commute, or just a limited data plan, I recommend it as a way to keep a bunch of articles ready to read.
Finally, podcasts seem to be all the rage these days. Apple’s built-in Podcasts app is… there. In case you want something that hasn’t been forgotten by the people who make it, Marco Arment’s Overcast is wonderful. He’s a big proponent of open web technologies, something I’m clearly13 in favor of, and Overcast as an app is the sort of app I’d like to make one day.14 Killer feature? Smart Speed – who has time to listen to a podcast at normal speed when you can crank it up to three times faster than normal? Overcast does that without making everyone sound like chipmunks using what I can only assume is some sort of deep audio wizardry.

Music (iTunes/Cesium)

If you’ve been around on my blog for any length of time, you’ve noticed that I post my playlist every month. As a musician, I’m not a big fan of streaming music – they still aren’t doing a great job of paying the artists, and yadda yadda you’ve heard it all before. I’m just an angry old man, shaking my cane at kids, telling them to get off my lawn with their new-fangled streaming services. I just stick with iTunes and actually buying songs for my music needs.
That said, the people designing the Music app on iOS clearly have no idea that people without Apple Music still exist, and the app is borderline hostile to users who don’t have a subscription. I got fed up with it after the last iOS update and took advantage of the ability to remove the built-in apps to replace it with Cesium, which I’d describe as “what the default Music app would be if Apple hadn’t launched Apple Music after iOS 7.”

I think that’s where I’m going to leave it – I’ve got a few more apps on my phone, obviously, but I think I’ve hit all the really useful ones, at least for the college kid trying to stay organized about the whole “oh god so many classes” thing. Good luck with the coming semester (or the rest of the quarter, if you’re one of Those Schools) and, I suppose, fire me a tweet or a message if you’ve got a suggestion of something else that really needs to be on this list.


  1. I’ll be linking to the iOS apps for most of these, but a couple are web services, and most of them have a macOS app of the same name. 
  2. I’m sitting at ‘1 credit above the 18-credit maximum,’ and working on getting signed up for an online class that’s about a 3-credit equivalent. Free time is something that happens to other people. 
  3. Hint: use the macOS Calendar app to set stuff up, it’s a bit easier to get the ‘custom repeat’ stuff to line up with what the class schedule actually looks like. 
  4. Second hint: BlackBoard Learn and, I assume, the equivalent pieces of software at other schools, have something hidden away in the settings that allows you to export an iCal feed of due dates; set that to import into your calendar for low-effort reminders of when things are due. 
  5. My organizational system is vaguely based on the Getting Things Done system, but it’s inexact because I’ve never actually read the GTD book. With Things, I have Areas set up for Home, Work, School, and Media. Tags within that keep track of what stuff is for what class. Setting the due date of assignments is quite nice, as I can have things sort by that or by class. 
  6. Or E-mail! if you prefer. 
  7. “The bastard child of Terry Pratchett and David Foster Wallace” 
  8. The photo book I put together at the end of my study abroad in Austria captioned all the photos with contextless quotes from my fellow students. 
  9. Notes and papers for classes, all of my blog posts, a manuscript or two… 
  10. Which, to be fair, sometimes consist of “I did a lot of things today, and so now I am very tired. Good night, future self.” 
  11. Plus it’s a great way to vent without spitting out a wall of sub-tweets. Journals are an underappreciated way of dealing with being mad at people. 
  12. Not that I’m still bitter or anything. 
  13. Proudly powered by WordPress! 
  14. Not literally a podcast-playing app, because that’s not a competition I want to get into, but the ideals behind the way he builds i- oh whatever, you know what I mean. 

Playlist of the Month: January 2017

How is the first month of 2017 already over? I’m still writing “2014” on papers!
5AM – Amber Run
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Sight – Sleeping At Last
Half Light – BANNERS
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
Better Man (Feat. Peter Gregson & Iskra String Quartet) – FYFE
Kusanagi – ODESZA
Gods in Heat – Tobacco
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
White Ferrari (Vasta Remix) – Frank Ocean
Neptune – Sleeping At Last
Small Crimes – Nilüfer Yanya
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Afterthought – CloseTalker
Landslide – Oh Wonder
the mood – stefan
White Blood – Oh Wonder
Hypnos – Blueneck
Ghosts – Blueneck
Real – Majik
Snow – Sleeping At Last
Get Away – Saint Motel
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Move Magic – Julian Maverick
Falling – ursa major
ODESZA – Bloom (Live) – Day for Night
MNYMS – DENIAL – Day for Night
Play Dead – Tom Walker
Lullaby – ö
Stranger – Amber Run1
Let It Snow – Filous
No Answers – Amber Run
A Little While – Yellow Days
Haze – Amber Run
Beretta – Matt Black
Lonely Lullabies – Kweku Collins
Fickle Game – Amber Run
Friends (under the influence) – Majik2
I’m At The Bottom of The Ocean – Soleil Soleil3
Bright Lights – Vandelux
Oh Brother – Saint Raymond4
Hands Held High – Linkin Park5


  1. I’m very excited for when the full album comes out. 
  2. Pretend I put a link on here, because I’m in a wifi so slow as to not actually qualify as wifi, and I’m not willing to spend two hours waiting for Amazon pages to load so I can get them. 
  3. Ditto for the link on this one. 
  4. And again, insert your own link here. 
  5. This isn’t at all a new song but it’s one I felt like listening to, and so it’s back. 

Playlist of the Month: December 2016

Y’know, I mentioned at some point that it’d be fun to do some sort of analysis of my playlists over the course of the year. However, I’m sick, so I really don’t have the energy for that. Maybe next year.
5AM – Amber Run
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Sight – Sleeping At Last
Touch – Sleeping At Last
Half Light – BANNERS
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
Shadow and a Dancer – The Fray
Better Man (Feat. Peter Gregson & Iskra String Quartet) – FYFE
Kusanagi – ODESZA
Stay High – One Room
Gods in Heat – Tobacco
Haunt / Bed – The 1975
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
Worth It – Moses Sumney
 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
715 – CRΣΣKS – Bon Iver
White Ferrari (Vasta Remix) – Frank Ocean1
Neptune – Sleeping At Last
29 #Strafford APTS – Bon Iver
Sun – Sleeping At Last
Small Crimes – Niliüfer Yanya
Brooklyn Baby – The Code2
Hallelujah – Pentatonix
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Coventry Carol – Pentatonix
Coldest Winter – Pentatonix
Afterthought – CloseTalker
Landslide – Oh Wonder
the mood – stefan
White Blood – Oh Wonder
Heart Hope – Oh Wonder
Belong – Roosevelt
Say That You Want It – Abroad
Ivy (Air Zaïre Remix) – Frank Ocean
Ferns – Iris Temple
Down – Buster Moe
Open Up – Jack Eagle
Earth – Sleeping At Last
Six Feet Under (Jerry Folk Remix) – Billie Eilish
Menswear – The 1975
Hypnos – Blueneck
I Heard the Bells – Sleeping At Last
Ghosts – Blueneck3
What Child Is This – Sleeping At Last
Real – Majik4
Snow – Sleeping At Last
You Are Enough – Sleeping At Last
O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Sleeping At Last
Same World – YATES
O, Holy Night – Sleeping At Last
Get Away – Saint Motel
Mercury – Sleeping At Last
Water Flow – Klyne
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Move Magic – Julian Maverick
Other Gods – Blueneck
Plans – Oh Wonder
From Beyond – Blueneck
Rats in the Wall – Blueneck
Falling – ursa major
Southern – Sleeping At Last
ODESZA – Bloom (Live) – Day for Night
MNYMS – DENIAL – Day for Night
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Pentatonix
Slow Motion – Saint Motel
For Elise – Saint Motel5
White Iverson – Post Malone (Jake Miller Cover) – Jake Miller
Turn Off My Love – Xander Singh
Without You – Oh Wonder
Play Dead – Tom Walker
Waiting – Midnight Pool Party
Source – Tycho
Lullaby – ö
The Rain – Oh Wonder


  1. Chase keeps complaining about my choices of remixes and I keep ignoring him, and that’s how that goes 
  2. It’s like “I kinda want to punch this guy in the face for being like this” condensed into song form 
  3. I have multiple songs named “Ghosts” that I really like. Does this say something about my taste in music? 
  4. Probably one of my favorite ones on here, go listen. 
  5. I get the feeling I’m going to be hearing this one around the music department a lot when school starts back up. 

“Budapest,” or, “12 miles and 50 flights of stairs? WORTH IT”

The semester in Austria is done! But why go home right away – if I stay a bit longer, the price is “changing my tickets home and whatever I spend traveling around Europe,” which is a significantly better deal than “buying a ticket to Europe, whatever I spend traveling around Europe, and buying at ticket home from Europe.”
My mom didn’t really have the first option there, but she’s been wanting to go to Europe for quite a while, and “well, my son is already there” turned out to be the motivation she needed to plan out the whole route we’d be taking and hop on a plane.1
Thus begins the Whirlwind Tour of Europe.2 First stop: Budapest.
Continue reading “Budapest,” or, “12 miles and 50 flights of stairs? WORTH IT”

“The House at Baker Street,” or, “the patriarchy is an even more insidious villain than Moriarty”

A couple weeks ago us Austria students spent two days setting up for and helping at a charity bazaar. The entire first day was devoted to setting up the tables – a couple metric tons of books take a while to lay out nicely, you see. This was a dangerous proposition for me, because in the face of that many books I am weak and I wound up buying several. Which I now have to get home somehow. Whoops.
The books I grabbed were “City of Dark Magic”,1 “The Clockwork Scarab”,2 two others that I haven’t yet read, and “The House at Baker Street”, which I finished just last night.3
I’ll admit, finishing the book last night wasn’t the best decision I’ve made recently – I’m fairly tired and irritable now, having stayed up a bit later than was advisable – but I’d gotten to that point in the book where you just can’t put it down.
The book was written as a take on the Sherlock Holmes story that is entirely compatible with the original novels – one or two of the things that the author treated as canonical aren’t precisely confirmed as such, but even those are based in popular interpretations of the canon.4 The core of the idea is “what do Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Watson do all day?”
The answer, as it turns out, was generally ‘putter around doing appropriate things for a woman of the time to do’ … right up until the beginning of the book when Sherlock, rather characteristically, rejects a potential client. Mrs. Hudson offers the young woman tea, and winds up hearing her troubles – someone is blackmailing her, not with anything she did but just with the threat of spreading the sort of nasty rumors that can ruin someone’s life. Mrs. Hudson, and Mrs. Watson, being nicer people than Sherlock, decide to take up the case and help the young lady as best they can.
And then it starts to get fun, because it’s just a delightful romp through the world of the background characters of the Sherlock Holmes books. I really don’t want to say anything more, because it’s still a mystery novel, and it’s quite a good one – I didn’t see the ending coming, and I’m usually fairly good at calling how things are going to go.
In sum: Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson are awesome, go read this book about them.


  1. Which I didn’t finish, so don’t hold out hope for the review of that one. My silence is my review. 
  2. I liked enough to share a link to it, but I was so irritated by the ‘buy the next book!’-ness of the ending that I decided against writing a full review when I finished reading it. 
  3. One of, I should add, three Sherlock Holmes themed books – “The Clockwork Scarab” being the second, and the third I can’t recall the title of but appears to be a Russian riff on the Holmes theme. 
  4. The one I’m referencing here is the idea that Mrs. Hudson’s first name is Martha – my understanding is that it’s never explicitly stated, but the general consensus is that that’s the case. 

“Votivkirche,” or, “it’s hard to take pretty pictures while also writing final papers”

So my time here in Austria is coming to an end.1 As a bit of a last hurrah with the folks I’ve been here studying abroad with, a couple of us went over to Votivkirche, the big fancy church you see above that we saw every Tuesday and Thursday on our commute to and from the University of Vienna campus where we were taking German.
Continue reading “Votivkirche,” or, “it’s hard to take pretty pictures while also writing final papers”

Playlist of the Month: November 2016

It’s been a busy month, and the next one is going to be even busier. Fortunately for you, dear reader, the second half of next month should, if everything goes according to plan, lead to a lot of fun travel posts.
Anyhow, the playlist from this month has the beginnings of Christmas in it. Hey, I’m in Europe, it’s not like they celebrate Thanksgiving here.
5AM – Amber Run
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Team (Lorde Cover) – Matthew Mayfield
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Home (Tim Palmer Mix) – Blue October
Sight – Sleeping At Last
Touch – Sleeping At Last
Half Light – BANNERS
Be Somebody – Kings of Leon
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
Shadow and a Dancer – The Fray
When The World Sleeps – Lowland Hum
Better Man (Feat. Peter Gregson & Iskra String Quartet) – FYFE
Kusanagi – ODESZA
Stay High – One Room
Division – Tycho
Gods in Heat – Tobacco
Haunt / Bed – The 1975
Two Blue Eyes – Tall Heights
Fallingforyou – The 1975
Where’s My Love – Syml
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA 1
Doing the Right Thing – Daughter
Worth It – Moses Sumney
Slack – Tycho
 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver 2
Receiver – Tycho
 715 – CRΣΣKS – Bon Iver 3
White Ferrari (Vasta Remix) – Frank Ocean
Field – Tycho
Neptune – Sleeping At Last
29 #Strafford APTS – Bon Iver
Sun – Sleeping At Last
Small Crimes – Nilüfer Yanya4
Brooklyn Baby – The Code
Hallelujah – Pentatonix
Emphasis – Sleeping At Last
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Horizon – Tycho
Epoch – Tycho
Coventry Carol – Pentatonix5
Coldest Winter – Pentatonix
Rhythm & Blues – The Head and the Heart
Afterthought – CloseTalker
The White Strip – Blueneck6
Landslide – Oh Wonder
Robbers – The 1975
the mood – stefan
White Blood – Oh Wonder
Heart Hope – Oh Wonder7
Hold On – Chain Gang of1974
Dancehall Remix – Horses Heaven
Belong – Roosevelt
Say That You Want It – Abroad
Ivy (Air Zaïre Remix) – Frank Ocean8
Good Grief – Bastille
Power – Bastille
Ferns – Iris Temple
Down – Buster Moe
Open Up – Jack Eagle
Give In Ft. Airling (Golden Vessel Remix) – Xavier Dunn
Miko – Chain Gang of1974
Earth – Sleeping At Last
Six Feet Under (Jerry Folk Remix) – Billie Eilish
Menswear – The 19759
Dark Days – Local Natives
Transformations – Sleeping At Last
One In Ten – Sleeping At Last
All We Ever Knew – The Head and the Heart


  1. I find this name oddly hilarious. If it wasn’t in all caps it wouldn’t be nearly as funny, either. 
  2. People give me concerned looks when I walk around the school singing “it might be over soon” quietly to myself 
  3. seriously the names on this album are so pretentious 
  4. Knowing how to type umlauts before I started learning German was quite helpful. 
  5. This is a great christmas song for singing along to. 
  6. I consider Blueneck to be vaguely christmas music, which is… weird, to say the least. 
  7. No seriously just get this whole album okay 
  8. I just really like the way that lowercase-i-with-umlaut looks 
  9. The link caption for this one is “Amazon: Menswear” which makes me feel like I’m just linking to the online version of a department in a Macy’s. 

“Upper Belvedere,” or, “I, too, use gold foil and hypnotoad as my decorating theme”

It’s been a while since my last post, but the weather has been getting colder and colder, and my focus has been more and more on writing the various final papers for my classes. Which is, y’know, not the most exciting thing for people to read about.
But we’re still going for the occasional tour: this week, we spent some time in the Upper Belvedere, one of the many palaces the city has to offer.
Continue reading “Upper Belvedere,” or, “I, too, use gold foil and hypnotoad as my decorating theme”

“Imperial Vault,” or, “no thanks, just launch my body into an erupting volcano”

Our tour this week was a bit spookier than most, even the one in the graveyard1 – we went down into the Imperial Vault. Which is not, as I initially thought, where they used to store their crown jewels and whatnot – that’s the treasury. No, it’s where they store their dead relatives. Because, y’know, normal graveyards are too passé.
Continue reading “Imperial Vault,” or, “no thanks, just launch my body into an erupting volcano”