Roland Dürre
Saturday March 31st, 2012

Travel Journal PALERMO #1 The Journey is the Reward

Tonight, we start another vacation riding our bikes. Consequently, here is a new travel journal of mine. We go to Palermo, so that is how I will call my travel journal. Let us start with Palermo #1.

Yet, basically the goal is not Palermo. The actual goal is the journey. We will ride to Palermo via Rome, starting at Ottobrunn. I would like to spend the first leg until Rome sleeping.

From there, we take the CNL 485. It is scheduled to depart from platform 12 at 9.03 p.m. with the destination of Rome. That means we can spend around 12 hours lolloping in the beds of our sleeping compartment. In Roma, we will board a train to Naples, from where another train takes us to Salerno. And then we will start riding our bikes.

There are four of us. We had planned to ride as a couple – just Barbara and yours truly. But then Maresa wanted to come, too, and all of a sudden, Sophie also wanted to join us. Well, we are flexible, aren’t we? So now I will spend the next ten days in Southern Italy with three young ladies. I already look forward to seeing all those envious Italians.

The direction is simple. We always go south. Perhaps we will manage to spend two or three days on Sicily, as well. And maybe we can even see Mount Etna from up close.

On Thursday, April, 10th, we will have finished riding our bikes. In the evening, a ship will wait for us in Palermo. It will take us to Civitavecchia during the night. From there, it is a stone’s throw to Rome, where we hope to board the train CNL 484 to Munich at 7.03 p.m.

But now it is about time for me to finish. The bikes are already packed, sitting on the driveway. We will start in less than an hour. We are (still) lazy and take the S-Bahn train at 7.47 p.m. to Munich Central station from Ottobrunn.

Well, and as soon as I have internet access again and after I will have taken a few nice pictures, you will get PALERMO #2. Let us wait and see what lies ahead…

RMD
(Translated by EG)
P.S.
And there will also be an April-Fool’s joke tomorrow.

Roland Dürre

brand eins in April

This time around, it sat in my post box on April, 29th, – the new “brand eins”.

It sprawls on the hunting-leopard’s fur – capitalism. There is a black ribbon running horizontally over the page – and on it, they wrote with red ink: No Half-Measures.

And underneath: 
Focus capitalism
.
After relevance in March!

Is there a special meaning to the red ink? Will “brand eins” become a leftist inflammatory pamphlet, like the Bavarian Constitution?
See my article on the world-wide financial crisis (Texte zur Weltfinanzkrise).

To be sure, we are now approaching the end of late capitalism. Is that why “brand eins” now has the focus on capitalism? Well, I quickly open the magazine and take a closer look.

The editorial by Frau Fischer calms me down. She is right: many things are topsy-turvy in this world. But there are worse things than capitalism. Even if it is to some degree responsible for what went wrong. Just like its small brother, communism. Well, it died already. Or at least, it disappeared (because the corpse has not yet been discovered).

No matter how you see it, capitalism is currently without competition. We all know the absence of competition makes you weak, but capitalism will survive even this phase. And it will change and always be resurrected. Because humans have this late-capitalistic gene.

“brand eins” in April tries to explain why so many people (I think by now it is the absolute majority) feel uncomfortable and are scared. And why we are so worried because of our extremely late-capitalist economic habits and the radically non-sustainable consequences.  How, with gruesome thoroughness, we exploit everything, really everything that seems even the tiniest bit worth exploiting. We do this without any regard to loss and totally ignore all better knowledge to the contrary.

The few articles I managed to read yesterday want to explain the uncomfortable feeling. Speaking for myself, I must say they rather heightened my uncomfortable feeling, instead of lessening it.  I find it great that a business magazine is courageous enough to look upon the system that, after all – just like we all – “brand eins” depends on for survival, from a totally different, critical perspective.

Consequently, even if it is quite heavy, the magazine will be part of my bike luggage when I go to Munich Central Station tonight. At the station, a late-capitalist, feudal 1st class compartment with its own shower will be waiting to bring me to Rome. I already look forward to occasionally, at the end of a beautiful bike day, taking “brand eins” out in the evening when I stay in a nice Hotel between Naples and Palermo and enjoying a good glass of wine. Surrounded by mafia environment, I am sure I will think a lot about how late capitalism makes sense or not!

😉 And, of course, I will also think about how I can best profit from it…

RMD
(Translated by EG)

🙂 Before I start my vacation, I am going to be really grumpy!

Yesterday morning, as I read the SZ, I discovered the following note in the local section:

The number of the day – 2.9 – successful harbour!

It is about the “Bavarian Harbour at Regensburg”. Here is what it says:

General tendency is growth!

Because during the last year, the turnover increased by 2.9 per cent, now being 7.6 billion tons!

Well, I think to myself, maybe then the Rhein-Main-Donau-Channel makes some sense, after all? And I am a little surprised.
A few lines into the article, I am no longer surprised. Because here I can read:

The growth, however, is exclusively thanks to the products transported by trucks and railway. Shipping only has a turnover of 1.5 billion tons. That is a decrease of nine per cent compared with 2010.

That annoys me!

Is that what they call the number of the day for the “successful Bavarian Harbour of Regensburg”? Or are we talking a container reloading site with a little shipping as a by-product?

But then there is the explanation that saves the day. The decrease is easy to justify, because:

The director of the local branch, Andreas Pippig, put most of the blame on the difficult weather conditions last year. Danube flood, ice locks and the week-long low water level in autumn kept making it hard for shipping.

Well, maybe the gentleman has never heard about the climate change? Perhaps someone should come and enlighten him?
So what do I do about it?

I try to be honest, instead of lying to myself and to others in such an unscrupulous way as at least the headlines of newspaper articles do.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

I already wrote about the Schlecker insolvency. But the “schleck” continues.

Many of the German states have now negotiated the continuation of the remaining branches of the ailing chain. As always, the leading argument was that jobs must be saved.

That Annoys Me!

To be sure, a small minority of states refused the rescue investments. This might be painful for the employees, but it is probably the right decision.

I never understood why all the drugstores had to extend their product range in such an extensive way. Consequently, I also never understood why they could have been such a success. Especially if these drugstores were situated right next to the discount shops where you, basically, could get everything you need for personal hygiene.

For me, drugstores have always been the embodiment of a perverse combination of body-cult and consumption prurience. But the multitude of “stylish” products with their empty promises of beauty, nice smells and sexual success and whatever else they offered simply appealed to the “consumers”.

That made these chains money presses. With an unbelievable expansion speed, they generated billions of profits for their owners. It does not matter if they were called DM, Müller, Rossmann or Schlecker, all they sold was basically crude oil in the shape of over-expensive organic chemical products, dressed in extravagant packing and re-named hygiene articles. Well, it was plastic waste multiplied.

Now one of them is finished. One that never enjoyed the best of reputations. One for which probably there is no longer room on the market. And everybody starts lamenting and demanding money in order to preserve jobs. And the citizens are supposed to pay for it!

A short time ago, the consumption temples of a department store chain were suffering. The building supply stores will be next (you can already hear whispers about the “Praktiker” dynamically increasing its yearly loss on a high level (SZ). Another one of those former gold-mines that made their owners rich by selling cheap junk.

Neither do I have any confidence in the XXL furniture shops with their mega unethical price structures. They, too, are nothing but “Cheapies”, cheating their customers with inexpensive products for the bulky waste and super discounts.

Should we really rescue all the ailing department stores, discount stores, drugstores, building supply stores and furniture stores with our tax money? Or will there be a second rescue umbrella for the internal consumption?

So what do I do against it?

I try to reduce my consumption to a minimum! And I ask people not to buy all the rubbish they see. Instead, they should start thinking, before buying!

And if I really need something urgently (which, incidentally, happens rather seldom), then I buy quality.

So what else annoys me about today’s news?

The report about the solution they found for Müllerbrot, which certainly was also painful but probably the wrong solution. The fact that the EURO rescue umbrella is to be extended to one billion Euros, the confirmation by the SZ that the great statistics concerning the unemployment are really rather sugar-coated…

And I secretly do the calculations about how long it will take until the gas bubble in the North Sea will reach the small light burning on top of the drilling platform and when there will be the great POUFF.

So here we go – into the rain …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday March 29th, 2012

Kindle For All!

Unterhaching, March, 30th, 2012

Press Release

Kindle@InterFace

During the first ”Blue Friday“ – that is the periodical meeting of all colleagues at Unterhaching – of 2012, the InterFace AG presented all its employees, working students and interns with a new Amazon Kindle 4.

The Kindle technology caused the development of a fascinating system for knowledge distribution with various software tools both within and outside Amazon. Free software is available. Using it, you can convert texts of many formats into the Kindle format and distribute them on Kindle devices.

There is even an alternative operating system for the Kindle. You can use it in addition or instead of the one you already have. This technology literally “smells” like it has to be used in knowledge-based enterprises co-working, collaboration or co-creation. Consequently, we have to support our production processes with the new procedures and tools in the entire enterprise, thus testing where we (and others) can improve.

This is true both for generating knowledge and supporting communication and quality within the enterprise. That – and also me wanting to thank everybody for their active support during the successful year 2011 – was the reason why every InterFace employee, along with all working students, was given a new Kindle 4 for private use last Friday.

InterFace AG chairman Roland Dürre says: ”We assume that this technology – even though it is no longer all that innovative – will play an important role in the future. The paradigms for applying and using IT will continue to change and increase dramatically. By supplying all our employees with a Kindle, we want to introduce all ”InterFace-ers“ to this technology as quickly as possible, thus improving the chances for our enterprise to remain creative, vital and technologically leading.“

Contact: Roland Dürre – Mail: roland@duerre.de   Tel: 0171/4850115

P.S.
Feel free to use the picture for publication

(Translated by EG)

Here are my tweets of last week on

Blogging and Twitter, Wisdoms and Rules:

120412 Both friends and enemies will get burned in hot water – be careful, twitterers and bloggers. #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120413 New brooms sweep clean – sometimes true for blogging and. #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120414 New findings come from poor people – also true for twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120415 Everybody likes singing new songs – also true for twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120416 News is always welcome – just like when twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120417 New laws will cause new fraud – material for twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120418 Fresh arrivals are always welcome – also when it comes to twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the proverbs from Alle deutsche Sprichwörter.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday March 27th, 2012

Financing Political Parties Still The Right Thing To Do?

Last weekend was another election weekend. For me, this is reason enough to think about parties and politics. And about how political opinions are shaped today. After all, it is one of the tasks assigned to parties. They are paid for it by the state.

But:

Today, taking part in a democratic forum for shaping your political opinion is nowhere near as costly as it probably was 50 years ago. We live in times where this is possible without having to sacrifice long nights full of cigarettes and red wine.
The “only” thing an active citizen has to invest these days in order to shape his political opinion is his time. What is needed is the good intention and the potential of as many people as possible to acquire knowledge and evaluate the challenges of the modern society in an autonomous and self-responsible way. You have to think, understand and accept other people’s opinions and views, or else counter them.

In order to do so, you have to develop values and your competence for dialectically debating arguments. Fighting slogans and simplified dogmas are no help. Electoral promises are no longer welcome. The citizens have to remember their autonomy and refuse to accept simplified “certainties” and frivolous babble. They must start anew as responsible citizens who question things.

And, above all, they must be prepared to re-evaluate their own interests and vested rights.

Democracy is a question of culture and education. It depends on the willingness to accept the general welfare as a common value. That is something you basically need no money for!

We live in a time when the shaping of political opinions can be achieved extremely easily. Nowadays, you can inform yourself and others at a low cost, communicate and discuss matters with others without problems, make up your own mind and convince yourself and others. Even if the other parties concerned live far away. Because we now have the internet!

Consequently, the state should no longer throw the money of its citizens away by subsidizing fossilized party structures!

Basically, the money is just spent for marketing, thus strengthening the oligarchic position of the existing parties (Oligarchie der vorhandenen Parteien). And that is something the German philosopher Karl Jaspers warned us against as early as 40 years ago. Unfortunately, his warning went unheeded.

Modern parties will not need federal money for their central tasks. Giving them bounty on head for each voter only supports the crustification of grown power structures. Those who are powerful get most of the money and thus can invest even more into marketing.

I often hear the argument that party financing helps against a situation as we find it in the USA. There, a candidate only has a chance to get elected if he is either super-rich himself or/and has friends with a lot of capital who (for whatever reasons) are prepared to give him money for his electoral campaign. However, those sums are in a completely different league. Some additional (federal) money would not really make a huge difference.

So here is what I propose:

Ban marketing for politics (as has been done for tobacco and alcohol), reduce propaganda through public ostracism, base the electoral campaigns on facts, rather than influencing the opinion building process through the supply of party structures with “federal money”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday March 26th, 2012

Do Not Forget: IF Forum

On April, 17th, (that is a little more than four weeks from now), the next IF Forum takes place.

This time, Frau Heidi Schiller will be our guest. She will speak about

Black – White – Multi-Coloured.
Some impulses for looking upon this one world of ours a little differently.

It is all about living (and surviving) sustainably!
As always, we will broadcast the presentation by Frau Schiller live into the internet and we will also make a recording.

To put you in the right mood, here is the video of our IF Forum EXTRA of January, 25th, 2012 with
Klaus-Jürgen Grün about “The Art of Negative Thinking”!

And here are the three videos with the presentations of 2011. The motto was “Humans&Knowledge(Science)”.

“Nano Technology – the Future of IT” with Dr. habil. Walter Riess (November, 18th, 2011).

“Evolution or Creation? – An Attempt at a Synthesis”, with Prof. Dr. Gerhard Haszprunar (July, 20th, 2011).

“The Sound of the Big Bang” with Dr. Stefan Gillessen (March, 1st, 2011).

Enjoy!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Mähnicke & Six
Sunday March 25th, 2012

(Deutsch) Der tägliche Wahnsinn: Kommissar Facebook

 

Roland Dürre
Saturday March 24th, 2012

Work and BALANCE

Sitting on the podium at BALANCE – the conference about how work will be organized in the 21st century – I took part in discussing the following thesis:

Flexibility is a way out of the crisis. The crisis is stability.

Flexibility also includes the process of work getting more dynamic, for instance through “borrowed labour”.
The thesis has two sentences. I did (and still do) not agree with the first sentence of the thesis. After all, it assumes that we have a common crisis that also manifests itself in a work-life crisis. That is not how I see it.

To be sure, we perhaps have a social or a moral crisis, but there is certainly no work or luxury crisis. It may (and probably will) come in the future. Currently, however, we have a luxury problem. And many among us have a strange concept of work (and life). It is roughly:

After the housework in the design flat has been done (provided you have no cleaning service to do it for you), you take your extravagant Mini out of the underground parking and drive it from your home to the parking place at work. On arrival, you get into the lift of the even more extravagant “office tower” and ride to the upper floors.

All through the long day, you practice self-fulfilment in front of your PC and in all kinds of meetings – and in the process you even climb the career ladder (and as a by-product, you get rich). Since, however, the environment is so inimical, you suffer from monstrous ailments like stress and work pressure, so you have to recuperate from those in the evening by selecting various environments full of life style.

Except, that is not life and neither is it real work.

For me, however, the entire consideration is annoying for another reason. Basically, some things are totally neglected:

Work is a very special commodity
and
The “tenure working contract” is not at all something God-given in order to pay you for the work you did.

Work is a special commodity. The “generator” of work as we here understand it is the human being. Machines “do not work”. Well, you might call what some animals, such as horses, do work.  In return, they get food. In order to achieve an optimum cost-usefulness relation with animals, you also have to give them a minimum of care.

All parties concerned agree that we do not wish such a systematization of humans as work products. Because with humans, it would be called “slavery”.

Let us still use another comparison of work with a “hard” product and look at the dairy cow. There is no doubt that it produces milk. Regardless, we often mean the farmer when we speak of milk, even if today he is often an agro-industrial enterprise.

During the endless years as a father of small children, I always went to the farmer by bike in order to get all the milk we needed. Due to the structural change in agriculture, this is no longer possible for me at reasonable cost. When I was a young boy, I took the milk can and fetched the milk at a branch of the dairy – it was called “milk shop”. That, too, is something you can hardly ever do today.

It comes down to me having to get my milk from one of the monopolistic merchants. More often than not, they only sell it extremely pasteurized in the tetra package. Getting fresh milk in the bottle – which is my favoured model – is quite hard.

The situation with the product work is not all that different. It rarely happens that the end user can get a service “legally” directly from the producer. If at all, it usually happens in the form of moonlighting or in a legally conspicuous and questionable way.

As a general rule, I, too, get work through a long chain of suppliers. Within this chain, the work comes more and more often as free-lance “employment”. These contracts are often “clandestine employments”, filling a grey zone that might easily be considered a violation of the AÜG. Incidentally, work is something that comes with some sort of “directive” and a dependency upon only one supplier is quite common.

But that, too, is not my main issue. Work is a special commodity, because the producer “human being” sells himself. He sells his conscience and his personal goals (system agent), his competence (expert), his experience and his knowledge (“innovation worker”), his health (physical labour) and in some cases even his body.

So the “labourer” gives away something of his own. And the really absurd thing about it is that the process of giving something away – except if an individual or a team do piecework (which in many cases is not possible and we do not want, either) – is measured in time units?!

Because we pay according to the TIME someone has spent doing something. During employment interviews, the income is always based on this aspect. The variable time components with target agreements – I personally consider them very deficient – do not change this. Basically, it is the working time account that determines your “achievement”. Incidentally, achievement is also a difficult term – try translating it.

To be sure, employment based on a working time account with respect to the income is certainly “better” than serfdom or slavery. But I am absolutely sure we still have a long way to go when it comes to “paying human labour”.

Let us think innovatively. Time is the relevant component.

In the highly civilized societies, time might even get the function of money. It might work like this: you can have my time, during which I do something for you. In exchange, you give me your time and you do something for me.

Here is what I feel about the second sentence of the thesis:

The crisis is stability.

I would like to improve a little on this sentence. There is no such thing as a life without crises. Not for humans as persons and not for humans in a society. The type, seriousness and frequency of crises, however, changes. But this does not mean that the crisis becomes stability (or even causes stability, as the sentence seems to suggest a little). No, there will be more and more serious crises – and they will get harder to overcome. And in the future, overcoming those crises will cost ever more real or so-called sacrifices. That is something we cannot ignore.

And do not let us forget: there is a chance in every crisis. My teacher – Dr. Baldur Kirchner – showed me that the great “CIC” can change even deep characteristics of a person’s personality. “CIC” is for catastrophe, illnesses and crisis. The same is probably true for societies.

But there is a second reason for us to be optimistic. We complain on a very high level. Because we have hoarded luxury that can be dissolved before we will have to pay the price with our own bodies.

I like to give the following examples for our hoarded luxury: individualized traffic, irrational consumption and eating habits (both with respect to quantity and quality), a life style that only allegedly makes us happy, in many cases very lavish living conditions…

In our society, we have wastefulness left, right and centre. A little Kaizen would certainly do no harm in our lives. Consequently, there is no reason to despair, because there are many things that do not really make us “happy” and that we can do without.

RMD
(Translated by EG)