Roland Dürre
Thursday January 29th, 2009

(Deutsch) Computer Vintage #9 Meine erste Visitenkarte (1978)

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Detlev Six
Wednesday January 28th, 2009

(Deutsch) Ein Lob dem Einheits-Manager

The FAZ of Jan, 13th, 2009 printed an article on: The Uniform Manager. The theory was: due to similar career steps, managers get more and more uniform. My advice is for you to read the article and then refrain from automatically consent, because the truth is a little less drastic.

The Uniform Manager is a rhetorical figure of speech ideal for verbal combat and in reality should be called efficient manager.

I am sure you remember that Peter Drucker, the great philosopher in the field of management, defined the difference between an effective and an efficient manager as follows: an effective executive gets the right things done, whereas the efficient executive does things right. The latter delivers high quality output of what he has been told to do, whereas the former constantly questions what is on the agenda and defines his own priorities. In my estimation, the distribution is about 98.5 % against 1.5 %, and when one of the 1.5% effective executives travel to Germany, then this is truly no vacation for him, because in this country, we have a culture of efficiency. Mind you, I do not mean this in a negative sense. The dire consequences of crises can be softened and the way out of them can be copied from effective cultures.

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Roland Dürre
Tuesday January 27th, 2009

Great Orators and their Stories – #3 Hans-Strack Zimmermann

I met Hans Strack-Zimmermann often and in many roles. I know him as a real pioneer of information technology. At CERN, he set the corner stone for the world-wide-web, he made Unix a standard at Siemens, and he promoted the IXOS archive system. Many of his ideas and activities supported the creation of Brainloop. In terms of “scrum terminology”, he was always the “product owner”, the visionary type who promoted themes.

Like all those I am writing a tribute to in this series, Hans is, of course, not “just” a “professional” orator. He is director of his own enterprise with technological knowledge and always prepared to take up a new challenge. Although he has been at the top, he always remained down-to-earth. He never adapted “in the interest of less friction” and always stood up for what he believed. He fought with passion for his projects. As an orator, Hans has special charisma. His audience – no matter if customers or employees – was downright swept away. What had to be said was said and he did not believe in beating around the bush. For him, there is no difference between talking in German and talking in English.

I was privileged in having had the chance to witness him in various situations: as project manager at Siemens, as orator on IT events at SAVE (that is the community of Siemens users), GUUG (German Unix User Group) and GI (Gesellschaft für Informatik) and, of course, as co-founder and managing director of IXOS. Or at the Uniforum in the USA.

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Klaus-Jürgen Grün

Thinking Magical Thoughts

This weekend, Klaus-Jürgen Grün enjoyed making good use of time spent travelling in trains by doing some writing and reading. Finding a “train companion” motivated him to write this new text for the IF blog.

A Bible salesman promotes his ware by saying: “If you have Jesus, you have life. If you do not want to miss true life, read the Bible”. Deutsche Bahn AG prints the slogan in the handouts that inform passengers in InterCity trains about their respective connections. The salesman offers his internet address www.werjesushathatdasleben.de and I am sure he will find customers.

Promising real life, however, the slogan twists our understanding of reality, instead of making us fit for real life. We cannot deny that someone reading the Bible can get the impression of just having met the entrance to real life, just like a chain smoker will have the impression that his addiction will never physically harm him.

In the case of smokers, society has intervened. Society believes that smokers must be saved from themselves and passive smokers must be protected against the avoidable perils caused by the dangerous life-style of smokers. We have a law that forces cigarette advertisers to explicitly state the high risk for your health and life if you enjoy their products.

Why do we believe that our health might not suffer just as much from the about-face of our natural perception of reality, i.e. the promise that we will find real life through the Bible? Wherever you look your experience tells you that shifting your mental powers from real-life objects to an other-worldly, imagined, magical and only virtually existing truth is highly dangerous. If, appealing to the mental power to just believe strongly enough in the real value of the paper, you hand on a foul cheque, you will cause considerable damage in the real world. People buying shares the value of which exists only virtually trust in the same magical mental power of a mere thought as the one the Bible salesman is offering in his illusion.

After all, a foul cheque is no different from a bond gone sour in that reality does correspond with what it says on the paper. These foul cheques rouse expectations they cannot deliver, and they also promote the tendency of humans to consider pious expectations more real than a solid perception of reality.

Our loan system has been seriously wounded through the false credo (credo = “I believe”. It is no surprise that the most important financial terms are derived from the Bible: “creditor”, “debtor”, “credit”, “e-mission”). Just because we humans never learned to distinguish adequately between merely imagined and actual values, we tumbled into a financial crisis that makes all former crises look tame. To be sure, we can say there will always be crises, but sometimes they grow into revolutions. So what if the current crisis marks the end of capitalism? That is definitely a possible scenario, and if it happens, then we will have no reason to lament about the sacrifices this crisis demands from us.

The only thing that is really regrettable is what an enormous bureaucratic effort we make in order to, for example, minimise the harm done by smoking. We claim that we want to protect the rest of society against the loss of reality smokers suffer when it comes to evaluating the health risk they themselves take. At the same time, the sources of magical concepts are permitted to enhance, exploit and satisfy with undeliverable promises the already weak sense of reality of the Germans by spraying incense that is beneficial their own profit and interests. Instead of doing their duty and pointing out the dangers of deficits in rational human thinking, they are allowed to poison the human mind so drastically that humans will eventually no longer be able to live in the real world.

But we humans are easy prey to seduction. Give us the belief in the reality of mere letters, instead of using real words for what is real. Similar to the inscription on every pack of cigarettes, there should be a warning inscribed on every Bible:

“The content of this book may be harmful to your concept of reality.”

KJG

Translated by Evelyn Gemkow

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GRÜNSIX
Sunday January 25th, 2009

Radio Philosophy #001 – ETHICS.

Ethics boom.
Ethics is about good manners.
And about morals.
So why does it currently boom?Simple.
When times are splendid, we need no ethics.
Everybody lives in abundance.
When times are dire,
people automatically move closer together.
Then nobody has time for ethics.
It only booms shortly before everything collapses.
So if you are sick and tired
of hearing about morals and justice,
just wait a little longer.
Until the real shit hits the fan.

KJG/SIX

Translated by Evelyn Gemkow

Roland Dürre
Saturday January 24th, 2009

My Personal Declaration of Values – Very Short!

The sections from the Bavarian Constitution I discussed in my last article made me thoughtful. What exactly are the values, expectations, interests and needs of a human being? In German, the acronym WEIB (from Werte, Erwartungen, Interessen und Bedürfnisse) has been installed as a mnemonic (© Rudi Jansche) – Comment of translator:  and maybe vein is not too bad either, in that it symbolizes a rather vital part of the human organism without which life certainly would not be possible.

Here are some answers that come to mind spontaneously:

Convenience is my greatest enemy and the cause of many things that went wrong in our society.

I believe in

  • Tolerance
  • Liberty and
  • Courage to stand up for one’s ideals.

I abhor

  • Torture
  • Fascism and
  • Force.

In my opinion, man’s greatest achievements are

  • Enlightenment
  • Human Rights and
  • Equal Rights

The only way we can solve this world’s future problems is through international consensus. My confidence in governments and commissions is not great, which is why I think international NGO’s (Non Government Organisations) are very important. Examples for such that I am particularly fond of are Amnesty International and Wikipedia (many people are not even aware of wikipedia being a powerful NGO). And the internet might well become the key to the new world, just like the printing press turned out to be the source of our great achievements.

RMD

(translated and slightly completed by Evelyn Gemkow)

Someone wrote a cynical (?) comment under my article about texts on the financial crisis, where I cited sections 151 and 157 of the Bavarian Constitution. I found this comment rather terrible. I really believe that it is hardly possible to better describe the purpose of economy and legitimate free market economy than those two articles do it. And I also believe that our constitution was drawn up by wise people who felt a high ethical responsibility. It will therefore not be easy to improve on our constitution.

Consequently, after reading the aforesaid comment, I took an even closer look at our Bavarian Constitution, during which process I found several other sections that made quite an impression on me. I will therefore relate them as follows:

Article 141 Protection of the natural basis of life and cultural tradition; the right to enjoy the countryside

(1) Care for and protection of the natural environment held in trust for the benefit of future generations is the duty of the individual and the State community. Animals shall be respected and protected as living beings and fellow creatures. The State, Municipalities and legal bodies also have a paramount responsibility, to protect the ground, water and air as the natural basis of life, to relieve or restore damage which may occur and to ensure that they are used as economically as possible, to preserve and constantly enhance the productivity of the ecological balance, to protect the forest with regard to its particular importance for the ecological balance, and to relieve or restore damage which may occur, to care for and preserve indigenous species of animal and plant life, their natural habitats as well as characteristic natural sites and landscape.

(2) The State, Municipalities and legal bodies have a responsibility, to care for and preserve artistic treasures, historical and natural monuments as well as the landscape, to restore damaged artistic and historical treasures as far as possible to their former condition, to prevent the exportation of German artistic treasures abroad.

(3) Everyone is entitled to enjoy natural beauty and relaxation in the open countryside, particularly through access within reasonable distance from towns to forests and mountain meadows, streams and wild fruits. At the same time everyone shall be obliged to care for nature and the landscape. The State and Municipalities have the right and duty to provide open access to mountains, lakes and rivers and other areas of natural beauty, to extend access through the restriction of private ownership, and to provide pathways and nature parks.

Article 152 Supervision of the economic: provision of energy

The ordered production and distribution of economic resources to meet the needs of the population shall be supervised by the state. The state shall be responsible for ensuring the provision of electricity for the Land.

Article 158 Obligations attached to property

Property entails obligations. The manifest abuse of property and ownership rights shall not be countenanced by the law.

Article 160 Property in mineral resources, traffic and utilities; public ownership

(1) A corporate body or co-operative under public direction shall generally control property in economically significant mineral and energy resources, in railways and other routes and means of public transport, in water distribution and in power utilities.

(2) Generally essential means of production, major banks and insurance concerns may be transferred to public ownership in the interest of the population as a whole. The transfer shall be effected under the law and shall be adequately compensated.

(3) Enterprises in public ownership can be managed in a private enterprise form if this is in accordance with the commercial purpose.

Article 161 Distribution and use of land

(1) The distribution and use of land shall be supervised by the State. Misuse shall be terminated.

(2) Increases in the value of land which arise without particular effort or capital investment on the part of the owner shall be utilised for the general public.

The aforementioned citations are in agreement with my set of values. However, I notice massive violations of every one of these articles every day. What use are a constitution and laws if we no longer take them seriously? Just because we have been living in a part of our planet that has been pampered and spoiled by general wealth during the last 50 years, we have no right to forget the really important things in life. We must not throw away our future. I therefore demand that our constitution must again be adhered to, because:

🙂 You cannot be an enemy of the constitution if all you demand is the adherence to same, can you?

By the way, I found a typing mistake in the German version of the Bavarian Constitution. Section 169 is headed as follows:

Artikel 169 Midestlöhne, Tarifverträge

Which, of course, should read: Mindestlöhne and can be translated as follows:

Article 169 Minimum wage; collective wage agreements

(1) Minimum wage levels may be established for every occupational field such as make possible for every employee and his family a minimum standard of living according to the prevailing social conditions.

(2) Collective agreements on working conditions formed between employers and employee associations shall be binding on the members of the employee associations, and may be declared generally binding where they further the general interest.

I am a little on the conservative side. In my opinion, typing mistakes are acceptable in a blog. However, a constitution should be free of typing mistakes, especially if published in the internet. And especially in the internet, typing mistakes should be easily identified, since the spelling checker puts red dots underneath them. That is why I will now send an email to the Bayerische Staatskanzlei and ask them to correct the typing mistake.

Or is the typing mistake symptomatic for the fact that nobody is interested in our constitution anyway? That would be real bad news. Here is the  Link if you want to inform yourself.

🙂 Typing mistake was corrected in end of January!

All texts in cursive types:© Bayerischer Landtag

RMD

(Translated by Evelyn Gemkow)

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Roland Dürre
Friday January 23rd, 2009

(Deutsch) 2-Wochen-News – #14

Radio philosophy

This Sunday (and on all following Sundays at midnight) you get to read radio philosophy.

That is philosophy in very small units,
tiny, undividable mental atoms.
Their dynamic power might well, too, be atom-like
if mental patterns have become inflexible (as in: paradigm).
Are you prepared to let your paradigm explode?
Then welcome each Sunday.
But beware: unexpected side-effects
might occur, if you are a well-established manager.

KJG/SIX
(translated by Evelyn Gemkow)