Detlev Six
Saturday January 31st, 2015

We, the Cheese Cover Freedom Heroes.

They said in the news that the Cologne satire wagon on the Hebdo assassination that was to have been part of the carnival procession was cancelled for reasons of safety.

Immediately afterwards, they broadcast the sitcom: “Third Floor Left”. Sitcom is short for situation comedy and (so the producers said in the pre-view) was supposed to spontaneously process current events.

Well, tough luck so far.

Because the first twenty minutes of the show were not, as I had expected, dedicated to the “Cologne Angst” (which is a sub-category of “German Angst”). Instead, they were actually dedicated to Frau Merkel. The cheese remained inside the borders set by the Islamists.

While doing so, it pretended to have applied its own cheese cover, because within the security zone, there was quite a bit of serious satire. Frau Merkel playing the harmless substitute victim for the dangerous Paris murderers. Well, that would certainly give the cabaret cheese a strong flavour.

Maneuvers? Not at all! Dutifully, everyone laughed. They all knew the western desire for freedom has nothing more to offer.

The same is true for me, which is why I wrote “we” in the title. To this day, I am glad that I did not have to show my courage during the Third Reich. The idea that I might have been a smooth follower is too close to home.

After twenty minutes, I switched off the sitcom. And I promised myself that, in connection with freedom and free talk, I will remain mute, instead of shooting my mouth off.

SIX
(Translated by EG)

Klaus Hnilica
Tuesday January 27th, 2015

Cardiac Fibrillation…

Carl and Gerlinde (XXXIX)

A sleepless night, a burning breast ache, a tottering heart and Dr. Riffelmann’s diagnosis sufficed to convince Carl that, just maybe, it is a good idea to join Hannelore and Gerlinde two weeks later when they went to their stupid ’ladies course’…

ZZYVoimg162But Gerlinde had been right! He had to take things easier to prevent that ship – no, his ship – from either leaving or leaving him behind!

“This auricular fibrillation episode was an alarm signal and should be taken very seriously”, Dr. Riffelmann had said without his otherwise usual smile. Carl was lucky to be only in his mid-fifties and justs have a slightly high blood pressure: a mere beta blocker was enough to bring the ’hearty tantrum’ back to normal. No need yet for anticoagulants…

”But you want to be careful: matters might worsen sooner than Carl might be prepared to acknowledge”, Dr. Riffenmann said with just a hint of a smile. In order to prevent that from happening, Carl would have to immediately start a routine exercise program, drink only a minimum of alcohol and reduce his daily stress considerably!

When he heard the words ’reduce stress’, Carl suddenly found himself in a smiling contest with Dr. Riffelmann! How was he supposed to manage that, with the avalanche of problems on the international knitwear market?

But then, maybe he could snatch away the job red-faced Fritz Kuhlmann was now holding as porter at the company and offer him his knitwear salesperson position along with the cardiac fibrillation in return? And maybe his boss, ’Little Eastercorn’ would – for a change – offer some constructive help, rather than just talking? And maybe so would the works committee?

”Well, you know you do not have to throw the baby out with the bath water”, Dr. All-Smiles suggested, “most importantly, you have to learn how to better deal with stress! And how to reduce it? Meaning not by drinking more beer and Whysky in the evening and instead exercising daily and applying a special relaxing routine!”
”Relaxing routine?“

”Yes – there are excellent courses you can take to learn this kind of thing”, Dr. Riffelmann was quite enthusiastic.

“I am sure you are not suggesting relaxing routines from the wonderful kingdom of Chakras and singing bowls where energy-charged rubber dragons make all tension inside me disappear for 125 Euro, do you?”,

Carl moaned as loud as if someone had just drilled on one of his nerves.

”No – I certainly would not advise you to start Yoga Vidja; I know you well enough. But how about common Autogenous Training?“

Carl rolled his eyes and mumbled something incomprehensible.

“Yes! Why won’t you try and give relieving stress through ’AT ’ a totally unbiased chance?“

”Well, Dr. Riffelmann, the reason is that next time I see you I will not simply have a cardiac fibrillation.

Instead, you can be dead sure that I will return as a homicidal maniac: because if my right arm is supposed to become heavy and my left leg is supposed to start burning, I am going to go nuts!” Carl’s face had turned scarlet and a new fibrillation attack was underway when he grunted his reply. …

“And what would be so bad about that? I do not mean the homicidal maniac part but the heavy right arm and the warm left leg! You would not believe how relaxing it can be and what a stabilizing effect it has on your heartbeat, as well..…“

“Sorry, Dr.Riffelmann. With me, this ’AT ’, as you call it, can have only two mutually exclusive effects: I will either become as aggressive as a starving varan! Or else I will immediately fall into a comatose-like sleep.…“
“Well – you know, actually, the latter would not be a bad idea! With the exception of having to transport you home, which might be a little complicated. But then, maybe there is a nice person you can think of who could help with that?”, Dr. Riffelmann said with a grin that said relish.

In fact, the sun-tanned smile of before had been more comfortable, Carl thought when he collected the recipe for his beta-blockers from the doctor’s assistant.

So much more surprising was his about-face!

Or was that not what it was, after all? Was it again one of the usual Gerlinde-style Manipulations? After all, she knew exactly how to pull the nose ring of her run-down bull Carl in order to make sure he landed on the path she wanted him to land on …

Well – it took exactly two – more poorly than well-slept-through – nights before Carl informed Gerlinde during breakfast after a two-minute coughing attack caused by a piece of French Baguette he had spread finger-thick with apricot jam as usual that this strange Dr. Riffelmann whom she had at the time recommended to him had not been able to tell him anything better than that it might be a good idea to, quasi as an additional preventive measure on top of the beta blockers against his cardiac fibrillation, enrol in an AT course for stress reduction. Although he of all people should have known how much Carl hated all kinds of esoteric knick-knack.

”So why don’t you come and join Hannelore and me”, Gerlinde said, sounding no different than if Carl had asked for a second egg for breakfast.

”What? – How? – Where? You want me to take part in your ladies’ course”?

”Why not?“

“Is there any man in the course at all?“

“Certainly.“

“I mean one who is not gay?“

”My God, how should I know about that “!

“Hm!“

“Yes…“

“And who is in charge of the course?“

“Well, that is Severin?“

“What! A man?“

“A sports student!“

“And is he gay?“

“I would say: certainly not”, Gerlinde whispered with a dirty smile.

“Why are you so positive?“

“Just because I know – and Hannelore also confirmed …“

“What is that supposed to mean?“

“Well, that she, too, is quite certain …“

“Phew – am I in the wrong film here!“

“Why would you think that?“

“Well, seeing as your eyes turn all glazy as soon as you mention the sports student…“

“Why don’t you come and take a look at Severin yourself …“

“Is that possible?“

“All is possible if I speak with him …“

“This gets stranger and stranger”, Carl moaned before getting on his way to his office without another word. Somehow or other he had the feeling that the next attack of cardiac fibrillation was soon going to be upon him unless he saw to it that the distance between him and his Gerlinde quickly became as far as possible.

And on Saturday morning, Carl actually trotted along when Gerlinde left home to attend this strange AT course!

“Well, I guess it will not do any harm – although I am sure it will not do much good, either”, he fizzled with an embarrassed smiley on his face when he spontaneously joined her in the car.

Well – and Gerlinde was wondering if the best time to tell him that Severin was currently, but basically had all the time been replaced by Uschi Müller would be on the way there or later …

KH
(Translated by EG)

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Saturday January 17th, 2015

Legal is Illegal.

Dreidimensionale Darstellung der eulerschen Formel

Three-dimensional representation of the Euler Formula

A short time ago, I was really scolded. Just because I wrote in this blog (Frustration Splitter – Frustsplitter) how happy it makes me to know that Uli Hoeneß has become a day release prisoner with the beginning of this year. One of the reasons is that, many decades ago, I sometimes met him when he was walking his dog. From those days, I remember him as a nice guy.

My short reasoning was as follows: Concerns get away with things for which the “common big-time tax sinner”, such as Uli Hoeneß, will be put behind bars. This follows the motto: “the truly big ones remain free and the medium-sized criminals will be hanged”. Because compared to what the concerns do, the money Uli cheated with was “peanuts”. Even if there are certainly some “tax sinners” who have to accept penalty for damage that is “peanuts” in comparison with the Uli Hoeneß operation. You have to remember that all is relative.

You cannot imagine what scolding I was subjected to. The outrage of some of my readers was immense. Basically, they said you cannot compare those things! After all, the big concerns might have acted “morally” in a bad way, but other than that, they acted totally “legally”. That is precisely the difference between the concerns and Uli.

Well, speaking of “legal”: isn’t this exactl one of the basic problems of our society? Incidentally, you cannot do all that is “legal”. This is true for many things, not just for taxes. Just think of our environment and all the things we are permitted to do, yet we certainly should not at all be permitted to do those things.

Back to taxes: no set of rules will ever be perfect enough not to make “legally possible” some things which actually are the opposite of what the set of rules wanted. Especially if we are talking something as complex as or tax legislation. As a consequence of this permanent sophistication and increase of our laws, we have an immense increase in transaction costs (not just legal and surveillance costs) and an ever stronger misconception when it comes to what we feel is right and wrong.

There is an exponential increase in amendments and new laws. More and more “legal service” and blind achievement are promoted. Only the real big ones can afford this. In fact, even now we live with a state of affairs where some laws contradict each other and reasonable interpretations and decisions are no longer possible (just think of the “data security” legislation).

It is just like with the security glitches – not just – in Microsoft software. You get ever more contradictions and one functional goal will exclude the other. You make a huge effort patching up one hole in the “firewall”, and two new ones are already in the making. It reminds you a little of the courageous slayers of multi-headed dragons: in olden days, those people made the experience that, after having cut off one head of a monster, two others grew in its place immediately. In the fairy tales, the solution lay in burning the heads with the pitch torch.

Another good example for this development is the increasing complexity of our technological and social systems. Many fear it as one of the fearsome dragons of our world. But this development, too, is very easy to explain. The systems get more and more complex because the correction of the discovered mistakes gets harder and harder. Consequently, these corrections keep increasing the complexity of the system. The next generation of errors will be even harder to handle, leading to the next increase. This is a way towards catastrophe constantly strengthening itself.

The tax evasion model is a gigantic advantage in competition for those concerns that win. They accumulate no end of net profits and can invest hugely, which again will give them new advantages. They will end up being able to remove competition they do not like (especially smaller companies) – no matter what the cost – and to steal their know-how. They can afford the most expensive marketing campaigns and, supported by expensive lobbyists, they will seek world supremacy.
This is how the wonderful spiral of power increase works!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday January 16th, 2015

Golden Barbed Wire

Currently, it seems like both institutions and enterprises are in a state of inertia. And humans always seem to suffer. At least that is what diverse polls tell us. Also, I hear many laments during direct conversations. Frustration at work increases, more and more persons succumb to inner resignation.

I can easily understand that. The collective life in enterprises is increasingly subjected to being moulded into processes. This development has been going on for several years, step by step and consequently not really easy to make out. Yet it keeps getting stronger. Nobody can escape it. More and more regulations and written rules of behaviour are generated. There is a simple answer for every question.

Those who are still capable of feeling it feel dependent and incapacitated. A feeling of powerlessness spreads, dissatisfaction grows, you are frustrated and often do not even know why. At the same time, the systems protect you as never before. Security is all, risks are undesired. The total care through the system is the slogan of the hour.

Actually, the care is something those who enjoy it gladly accept. After all, it provides a comfort zone and promises security. Because you are in a protected area and basically there is nothing you need to worry about. Because you are part of a big “community” – one of many.

This is how the concern employee will feel comfortable. Yet this is often quite treacherous. But then, how does this situation arise? Both as a student and later as a regular employee, I spent almost ten years working for Siemens, where I personally made the experience of gliding into the world of security.

For me, the “lulling process” started with eating in the cafeteria. Usually, that was where I got good food at fixed times and for a reasonable price. And, like most people, I found “my” company cafeteria quite good. Also because it made my life easier.

Well, it means the cafeteria was the central point of the work day. It decided what we were going to eat. There were two standardized meals. At Siemens, we had one “simple” meal (green voucher, 1.20 DM) and a “higher-quality” meal (red voucher, 1.50 DM). The vouchers looked like those coins you can use instead of EURO coins when you need a trolley in the supermarket.

The vouchers were available from a very basic machine. If you paid 6 DM, you could choose between getting five green vouchers and four red vouchers. The same vouchers were available in yellow – for dessert. The price was 0.30 DM. For 1.50 DM, the machine gave you five of them. In those days, even dinner was available in the cafeteria – very comfortable.

The daily choice between green (basic) and red (better) meal became the most important part of daily life. The question “what’s to eat today” certainly gives diversity to the day. It suggests decisiveness and some last vestiges of freedom. Besides, going to the cafeteria at noon provided a break in the work routine.

This is what you get with big companies and institutions – all is provided for. You get food and warmth. The cafeteria as the tip of the iceberg consisting of a complete all-out provision by “Mama Siemens” or similar. “Mama Siemens” (as a metaphor for huge concerns) gives their people a place to work, a good income, warmth and light, and nice offices. At the gate, the security guards keep a watchful eye. The boss will select the courses his employees might find useful. And if an employee had a health problem, he or she could feel free to consult the company doctor. What more do you need?

This is what I experienced as part of the working population during my first years. I sat in a golden cage. We were domesticated and mollycoddled, like tamed pets. Until all this care – and if I am honest, there were other reasons, too – made me leave.

Many of my friends and colleagues did not manage to escape. They became prisoners inside the “golden barbed wire”. Initially, it was the company retirement money that attracted them. Then the dismissal protection. Without noticing it, they became zombies of the system that provided everything. Everything was pre-conceived and pre-arranged. No problems, no challenges.

Today, we also have set processes for everything: vacations, appraisal interviews, the hours you work, business trips, meetings, employments or notices, personnel-related issues, social media: everything is ready-made and served conveniently.

As soon as they reached their 50th birthday, if not sooner, they started looking towards the end with anxiety. And many were permitted to leave before they were sixty – well provided for, but basically too young to stop doing something meaningful.

And as systems always work: 
As soon as the regulations have started, they will never stop. Be it communication, creativity, development, marketing, sales: everything is standardized. „Best practice“ gives way to processes, bureaucracy will flourish endlessly, lateral ideas are not welcome.

Instead of “common sense” you get “this is how we are going to do it”. Creativity is replaced by planning. Transparency becomes an unwelcome threat. Everything must be measurable, even the suggestions for improvement. Customers’ wishes and the needs of your providers will fall victim to the Shareholder Value.

The system overshadows everything. Only what is useful for the system can ever be good – even if this is only allegedly so.

Consequently, the enterprises wear a mask that gets stronger and stronger. It is a fir tree they used to call structure organization – with mistletoes of structural concepts hanging from it.

To be sure, from the inside, those enterprises look different, because the industrious colleagues will ignore the fir tree with its mistletoes where necessary (which is quite frequently) and instead directly communicate with each other. This is how they see to it that the enterprise will be a success, after all – in violation of the rules.

Many enterprises remind me of the image of a city where the pulsating life starts to be structured by the construction of signs and barbed wire fences. Yet they leave enough – basically unlawful – holes for everything to still function.

It is called bureacracy!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Klaus Rabba
Tuesday January 13th, 2015

Something is Rotten – In All States!

Introduction by Roland Dürre:

In Facebook, some friends of mine had an exciting discussion about #JesuisCharlie. Of course, we could not really find a satisfying solution to the problem in facebook (if such is possible at all).

Because the reasons for the dilemma the entire world is facing seem to be many. Here are some of the contributing factors:

We have a radical globalization which totally neglects all borders for trade, yet it leaves the borders for normal persons. The worker living in a low-wage country is the one who produces for the rich world, yet she has to remain in the poor world.

It seems like the wall-street mentality and the shareholder value principle, a rushed-through free-trade agreement, lack of freedom, corruption, lies, frustration of humans, second-hand emotions, manipulation through various systems, total marketing and powerful lobbyism, massively heterogeneous religions which seem to exist in different epochs, the distance between poor and rich, non-species-appropriate keeping of humans, a common feeling of helplessness, radicalization of societies, violation of feelings, the clear priority of profit, the tendency towards esoteric behaviour, the loss of enlightenment, the development of dogmata, lack of freedom, torture and much more are getting more and more the upper hand.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little order and clarity? What are the reasons? What can we do against it? There are numerous exciting questions one can ask.

This discussion motivated us to “give the topic a boost in the IF Blog”. Perhaps we will even manage a blog parade. As far as I am concerned, I will invite everyone to join us in a blog parade as soon as we have created a basis.

As a starting point, Klaus Rabba will report from his adopted home in France.

France.

The Paris atrocities catapulted the violence and terror from the Orient and from Africa right into the middle of our countries.

The public reaction is enormous. Up to one million people went marching on the streets in order to demonstrate for our hard-won rights: freedom of opinion and physical integrity.

France defends her ideals from the French Revolution: Freedom, Equality and Fraternalism.

So how is the social situation and what could society have done in order to prevent these atrocities from happening?
Arguments as published in a prayer-like way both by politicians and the media are amass and quickly found. Yet many of the enlightened but less politically aware citizens no longer want to believe them:
.

  • Show tolerance towards those who think differently and believe in another deity.
  • We are collective
  • Equal Opportunities
  • If you want to do it, you can do it
  • Education is the key to integration
  • Fight fascism

Nobody can seriously oppose any of these arguments unless he wants to find himself in the off or in the Brown corner. Yet this is not a good state of affairs, because urgent questions are pushed to the background.

Society.

As opposed to other European societies, the French society achieves extraordinary things in education. All children aged three will enter the full-time kindergarden very close to his or her home, the ”École Maternelle“. Children of working parents get lunch, there is a bed for the toddlers to go to sleep after lunch and no child is ever forced to leave the premises before 5 p.m. – even if the parents are not on time for pick-up. After 7 p.m., the children can be retrieved at the gendarmerie. All children attend the Maternelle, because otherwise they would have no chance of successfully starting school with their peers.

The years at school follow the same pattern and, basically, this should be the key to equal opportunities in education – provided the parents cooperate. More than ninety per cent of all parents play their role. So what about the others? Both in federal schools and universities, you find strict freedom of religion. Nobody is permitted to wear a cross, nor a headscarf or Kipa. Religion is everybody’s private affair. There is no state religion.

Equality.

Regardless of federal care, there are still holes in the social network. All societies have school deniers and other children who are not motivated by the educational model. This is where the state comes in, providing a huge number of educational measures and support facilities for these children. All well? No!
After you are sixteen, there is no more federal support. The adolescents are then on their own. If their families are not intact or the environment is not as it should be, school or education is terminated. Even in a homogeneous environment, this is a tragic thing to happen, so how bad is it in an immigration environment!
The rich send their children to catholic private schools or move into areas where almost everyone is rich, which means that those schools are the best in the republic.

Migration Background.

France has a long history of immigration. Lost colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria triggered the first immigration wave, since the collaborators had to fear for their lives. Which meant that France allowed them to immigrate. Civil wars in the former French Colonies brought more immigrants into the country. An open asylum policy also permitted persecuted persons from China to relocate.

As early as in the 1960ies, what you saw in the streets of Paris looked rather heterogeneous. Times of full employment camouflaged the basic differences among the immigrants – for the time being.

Increased unemployment, family members joining their families and the high birth rate among Arabian and African immigrants made the differences more acute.
While the Asian immigrants live extremely private lives and actually like the French educational model, the Arabians and Africans among the New French citizens have more problems. Religious differences were never much of an issue with Asian persons. None of the children took it as an excuse not to do well at school and they made sure they entered the workforce in well-paid positions. Some Africans and Arabians, too, managed to fight their way through the educational institutions and arrived at the universities, but relative to their numbers, there were too few of them.

Parallel societies grew in quickly built residential areas. These areas slowly turned into ghettos. In these parallel societies, a huge number of the various immigrants find a place to stay today. And all of a sudden, religion, too, plays a role in society which formerly was not obvious.

Today, these residential areas are the homes of varieties of people. Some of these immigrants have work, some families have an income, some not, and, above all, these people belong to various religions.

In such a conglomerate, the excellent federal educational models no longer work. Too many who terminated their school careers without having gained enough competence in language and orthography and without hope for the future live there. The first conflicts happen in these motleys, where loiterers molest those who work. Women and girls are the first victims.

Ghetto Culture.

In the less favoured districts, the young persons developed their own language: Verlaine. It is a rudimentary French where terms are phonetically jumbled; ”femme“ becomes ”meuf“, ”flique“ becomes “keuf“, just to give you an example. In these circles, “rap” plays a huge role – as well as a crude kind of Islamism which is supposed to increase the sense of discrimination.

The next step for the young men in this society is to become small-time criminals. Their aversion to the French society model is shown through strong aggression. It is directed against all policemen and firefighters, but also against emergency doctors. Cars are set on fire and the approaching firefighters are beaten. Emergency doctors often fare no better – so-called “no-go-areas” developed.
As soon as a member of these communities of strict enemies of society is wounded or killed when a criminal is chased, you get these notorious upheavals.

Anti-Semitism.

In France, and especially in Paris, there are Jewish communities. Not all Jews are rich and live in the classy arrondissements of the city of Paris. Many of them live in suburbs and belong to the lower middle class. This is the group of Jews the hatred of the Islamic fringe area youth focusses on. The conflict between Palestinians and the Jewish State has been carried into the French cities and results in daily aggressions.

The pressure is enormous – which means that thousands of Jews leave France every year and move to Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister Nethanjahu affronted France during his state visit when he encouraged all French Jews to come and settle in Israel because France is no longer capable of protecting them.

Extremism.

For extremism, it is easier to fall on fertile land in the underprivileged areas and the persons living there than in functioning communities or families. As everywhere, the converts are the exception to this rule.

Uncontrolled preachers from Northern Africa play a sinister role. The French legal system makes it extremely hard to expel so-called hatred preachers. Neither does the situation improve through the fact that Muslims, as opposed to Christians or Jews, have no organization that speaks for all the believers. President Sarkozy founded an Islamic Council in order to have a contact person for religious affairs of Muslims for the French Government.

The foundation of the Islamic Council was accompanied by unbelievable tribal factionalism, because the Muslims come from different nations, for instance Algeria and Morocco – and they oppose each other vehemently. Well, it would take more than this article to discuss the great Islamic Schism. It is a fact that the Islamic Council is only heard by a part of the believers, let alone the inner circles of the Ghetto. If you think the Muslim World is united, you are definitely totally wrong.

Economy.

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the world has changed, because there is no rivalling model against capitalism left. Simultaneously, an Intra-European job migration wave started. The economically strong countries attracted workers on all levels. At the same time, the work conditions were released, causing a ruthless wage dumping. Labourers from Eastern European companies work for a ridiculously low wage in Western Europe. The German economic policy is the driving force of this development.

As a consequence, more and more French companies, for instance in the food sector, close down, because they have to pay the legal minimum wage while German slaughterhouses provide the big European super market chains through low-wage labourers from Eastern European firms without social security. This development minimizes the number of potential jobs for small-time earners, which is what many immigrants are. Fortunately, France is one of the biggest tourist countries of this world and can offer many jobs in this sector. Without immigrants, the French gastronomy and hotel sectors would collapse.

Exterior Policy.

France promotes the French-Speaking regions of all continents and each year there is a world congress of ’Francophonia’. As a matter of tradition, the relations with former colonies have been preserved, both economically and politically. Except in Algeria, Indo-China/Vietnam.

The special feature is that the French language initially was the official language in the newly generated countries, and mostly it still is. Of course, economic interests were also nurtured and the regimes were supported with militia. They even introduced a Paris-supported currency in the francophone countries of Africa. Simultaneously, there was a constant emigration from these countries into the mother country.

All over the world, more than 10,000 French soldiers are doing active service at all times. The major part of them is stationed in Africa, where fighting is common. French soldiers try to de-escalate the atrocious genocide in the Congolese province of Kivu, keep the Ivory Coast from gliding into civil war, see to it that Mali will not be divided and stabilize the governments in Togo, Congo and Cameroun. At the same time, they control huge economic zones on the ocean. Along with the British Air Force, the French Air Force was the central power making Gaddafi’s downfall possible. If the situation had not totally escalated, they would probably also have become involved in Syria against Assad.

As a consequence of this policy, France became a target of Al Kaida, the Islamic State or Deash, as it is called in France.

System Criticism.

Globalisation with Wall-Street conditions advances forcefully. Societies like the French must join in the change unless they are content to become a deficit state which is downgraded by “rankings” and punished. This process is dire for all parties concerned, since the re-distribution from bottom to top which the new business model causes also results in the middle and lower classes having less spending capacity. Not to mention weaker social security.

The French policy fights this development, and so far there was neither a Maggi Thatcher nor a socialist like Gerhard Schröder who cut down on the social system with his agenda, thereby preparing the state for the global market. Much is at stake: for the educational model, for the civil servants, for the workers who get a guaranteed minimum wage.

The socially weak are the first victims of a rigorous austerity policy. Since the state and the economy are led by elites, the chances of immigrants for a lateral entry are practically nil. Those who leave the educational system and are older than sixteen will be left to fend for themselves. Immigrants with no inclination for education will be permanently excluded from upper movement, which only serves to increase the isolation even more. A second-chance education is possible, but it is even harder than the normal educational path.

Politics, media and intellectual circles keep believing in the multi-cultural ideal, meanwhile neglecting the self-isolation of groups in socially weak regions. By now, the French society is believed to be more responsible for the isolation than the immigrant groups who feel isolated yet do everything in order to preserve this situation.

The religiousness of the fringe groups is strongly apparent, providing potential conflict material during the fast month and the prayer times. Religion promotes isolation in a secular environment and prevents the establishment of inter-religious connections. Through the generations, immigrants insist on giving their children names from their homelands, instead of choosing neutral or French names.

In France, we have a state of sullenness when it comes to politics, which is obvious if you look at the low voter turnout. Many scandals in the leading parties and in the President’s Palace caused a loss of trust. Too many French persons believe their government is not capable of solving the most urgent problems.

So what can be done in order to achieve better integration or a sense of belonging together? Well, first and foremost you would have to practice honesty and openness on a daily basis. All members of the society must understand that immigrants are needed. At the opposite end, the new citizens must experience that they cannot continue living like they used to live at home without any changes. They must adapt. After all, people coming to Europe originated in societies where prosperity so far has not been generated. Consequently, what we need is a critical view of society.

In order to get the losers off the streets, you will need changes in the educational program. Naturally, you cannot lower standards in order to facilitate affairs for late-comers. That would cost the entire society. What you need is school courses where the different backgrounds of students are taken into consideration. Apart from that, socially unstable adolescents need guidance beyond their sixteenth birthday.

Children from broken families with an immigration background have a particularly hard future ahead. The attraction of getting money through crime – instead of waiting for success on the job – is ever-present. As everywhere in the world, drugs play a significant role. It is important not to send adolescents into normal prisons. Instead, you need open and self-dependant law enforcement.

Final Note on the Charly Hebdo Assassinations.

The assassins have an immigration background and were orphaned early. They lived in asylums and received professional training before ending up criminals. The radicalization probably happened during their time in prison, where a preacher had a strong influence on the assassins. This is something you cannot blame society for. After all, society met its obligation towards the orphans. When all is said and done, every individual person alone will decide if they want to commit murder or not.

KR
(Translated by EG)

Bauer-GoosI consider myself to some extend as a third generation informatics pioneer. And I like remembering my first huge projects in the 1970ies. They were called START, ITS, Dispol or SNATCH.

In my private order of things, the second generation of IT pioneers is represented by F.-L. Bauer, whom I personally hold in high esteem. When I was a mathematics student at TUM (at the time it was still called TH for Technische Hochschule) in the fall of 1969, I sat in his lecture when I first studied my minor subject: computer science. Incidentally, the book you see on the picture is my personal copy bought at the time. As you can easily see, it has been read in quite often.

In those days, informatics was something totally new for me. And I probably chose the minor subject because I did not really know what it was. Simply because, in some way or other, it pointed towards the future.

BauerAlmost as a logical consequence, I did not understand everything professor Bauer wanted to teach us during this beautiful lecture course. Very regrettably.

During the last few years, I was permitted to accompany professor Bauer when he gave several guided tours in the Informatics department of the Deutsches Museum. Those tours were held for our (InterFace AG) customers, friends and partners. Many things I had not understood as a young student became a lot clearer in the wake of those tours.

Incidentally, I count Konrad Zuse among the first computer science generation. I made his personal acquaintance at the end of the 1086 InterFace-Konrad-Zuse-Bike Tour. He gave us a great welcome, delivered a wonderful speech and presented us the picture you see here during the great reception at Hünfeld. Today, you can see the picture hanging on the wall at the InterFace AG building in Unterhaching.

K_ZuseBy now, informatics has moved on by “light years”. I was and still am a computer scientist with all my heart. For me, the combined meaningfulness of my work, my life and society has always been important. Consequently, the development and future of informatics is important to me. Articles written by third parties about the subject and by distinguished informatics representatives are, naturally, of special interest.

In the 14th edition of the TUM magazine “Faszination Forschung” – a first-class high-gloss TUM München magazine – dated June 2014, I found the article  “Connecting the World”.

Here is the trailer:

In the future, everyday objects will be linked via the Internet, enabling them to interact autonomously. To realize this vision, computer scientists are developing virtual models they can use to test practical implementation and monitor the security, safety and reliability of connected systems.

The article describes the future of computer science on the technological level. It is basically about how systems can be coordinated in a future “cyber physical world”. Since I consider the article worth reading and a good basis for further discussion, I am providing you with the download: Cyber-Physical (406).

My friend and partner in the InterFace AG advisory board, Professor Dr. Manfred Broy, is cited in the article. You will also find his picture. It can be assumed that the content of the article is partly the result of the research supervised by him.

I do not totally agree with the article. To be sure, there will be remarkable future developments in our technology, perhaps even more remarkable than those described in the article. However, I do not believe in what applications are predicted. Instead, I assume that the society of the future will have to cope with totally different challenges than we assume today. And I am sure we will then find very exciting solutions. But those solutions will not be part of this “brave new world”.

Yet matters begin to get exciting (and for me alarming) when I read the reply written by Professor Werner Meixner. In a presentation, professor Dr. Meixner described how this article “strikes someone (him) who basically understands the meaningfulness of his professional life as a fascination with the natural sciences as a humanist value”.

This presentation is also part of an open letter addressed to Professor Dr. Manfred Broy with the title: 

Where is informatics headed?
Like before, I am providing the link for downloading of the open letter by Professor Meixner:
Wohin geht die Informatik? (466)

Since I wish to motivate IF blog readers to read the articles, I will now cite a short but perhaps central part of the article:

All human decisions – and concerns know this quite well – contain an act of added value, which means they are valuable per se. The most important factor is that the owner of the produced value is the one who made the decision and is responsible for it. This is exactly the meaning of privacy and the consequence is the indisputable worthiness of privacy protection. All business behaviour is a consequence thereof.

In fact, I do not quite understand what the author wants to say. My attempt at analysing it dialectically results in me finding a random truth claim which is easy to disprove.

🙂 However, since I am a blogger, I never write open letters to anyone. Instead, I publish my personal opinion in my blog. Totally transparently, everybody can read it.

Here comes:

I find the TUM magazine article one-dimensional. The “open letter” gave me consternation.

In both articles, I find a concept of the world and humans which is no match at all with what I see in the real world. The first article reminds me a little of the nuclear energy euphoria (which at the time was controlled by business interests) more than fifty years ago. The second article glorifies a meaning of privacy and laments its worthiness of protection which – based on my experience in life and my knowledge of anthropology, neurology, psychology, philosophy and sociology – is not at all justifiable. Even theological reasoning would probably fall short

For all of us, the real challenges will quickly be others than those described. The dream image of a networked world will not help us to cope with all those challenges. Neither will the convulsive protection of our private data – which, basically, cannot be protected anyway.

The current news about the IS fronts, other wars and their consequences, refugees seeking asylum in the EU, the assassinations in France , or #Pegida and #Anti-Pegida in Germany are clear indications of a reality that quickly changes and that we have to accept. Also, we have to learn how to deal with this reality in a rational way.

A dominating global economy which creates free markets for products yet leaves labour unfree (a seamstress in Bangladesh cannot move to Europe and do her work there, even though the dresses she makes are exclusively sold in Europe) will come to its end. The rich persons of this world (we) exploit the poor more than ever in human history and the number of slaves is higher than ever.

The tensions generated by these contrasts will probably discharge themselves like earthquakes. It has already started. Basic conditions (climate, food and soil) in many regions already deteriorate and will geometrically continue to do so. Sooner or later, this process will catapult us into critical spheres. The tensions will become more and more noticeable.

In fact, we might be approaching a rough awakening from our current dreams faster than we had anticipated. It is my hope that here, too, informatics can help. Naturally, I do not yet know how this might happen. All I can do is imagine how it might be.

I think the IKT can only contribute positively towards the humaneness of mankind if it – above all – succeeds in supporting a highly complex, world-wide and truthful discourse which thus will render striking results. This is the only way to come to a consensus not based on enmity and exploitation. Instead, it should prepare humans (us) for the necessary changes in our mental concepts and life.
This is the only way to change society without violence. It is the only way to transform today’s economy into a “common-good-economy”. And it is also the only way to find solutions for a better copyright and patent system. Through the wisdom of the masses and against the simple-mindedness of the individual person.

[Note: perhaps our colleagues at Youmigo.de already understood this – which is why they wrote a wonderful APP for “world agreement”.]

As to the TUM magazine article: I would argue that we do not need a luxury world of networked technology which, when all is said and done, will only enslave us even more. As to Werner Meixner’s theses, I think he inflates the topic “pretty good privacy” like a profession of faith. However, instead of giving credible reasons, he remains dogmatic.

And I also believe that our privacy will be something we will be fairly indifferent about in the future. Because we will have other problems. Also, we humans will always move in the stress field of individuality and collectiveness. Either way. With data protection or without. And the only way we can manage to do that in a humane way is if we think and act in a value-oriented way. Dogmata and their prayer-like publication will not be helpful.

Here is another idea about personal data. Isn’t it a rather normal part of human civilization to collect information about people. After all, there were good reasons to come up with administration and, for instance, write down when a child is born. Of course, technological advancement made unbelievable things possible since they invented filing systems and cataloguing.

With “new” technologies, you can certainly collect a lot more data than formerly. Yet this is only the continuation of a development that started with the invention of writing on paper as a means to conserve and hand on information. Quite possibly, the invention of filing systems (certainly an IT invention) brought another impulse. And IKT yet another.

But: did IKT really make such an enormous difference? And how huge is the damage? And isn’t it just great that in general information can be made available by whistle blowers and that it was IT which made it easier?

I see a threat if “a-moral systems” (like unlawful systems) get hold of the data. But if it comes to that, no data protection will help us, anyway. Instead, we should see to it that “a-moral systems” never gain control over us. And that is a permanent social challenge for every citizen. Basically, you can only resist “commercial utilization” of data by being autonomous. But then, the same is true for the continuing threat of manipulation through marketing. And if you consume senselessly, it will only cost money, rarely your life.

Personally, I consider the avoidable damage the “old” technologies caused us during the last hundred years and still cause us permanently today significantly higher than the damage done by the new technology IKT during the last 25 years.
For instance, the technologies of the last century stole our piece. Does any of you still know a single place in Munich where you hear no “technology noise”? Yet the noise pollution is only a truly harmless example compared to the 1.2 million traffic fatalities each year – caused through motorized individualized mobility on a world-wide scale. And it is a fact that we also like to ignore other threats, such as the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere.

In the same way we accepted the limitless noise emissions, we also got used to our (still very limited, regardless of all efforts) transparency. Limited, because even the networking systems used in industry and in the world 4.0 will find it hard to read our thoughts. And because, if we want to survive, we will definitely have to develop into autonomous persons in a self-determined frame.
Maybe the permanent calls for secrecy of data are nothing more than an outcry of protest, because, after all, you have to be against something, don’t you? And you are not courageous enough to actually stand up for the real threats.

But then, do not let us forget:

Only the new technologies provide us with a chance of networking and sharing our ideas with others. Which is how we can fight ignorance, intolerance, dogmata, irrationality and much more of the same.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday January 8th, 2015

#JeSuisCharlie

Basically, I am reluctant when it comes to commenting such atrocious events. This time, however, I would like to share a few ideas. Simply because, to me, it seems like the public discussion is too oversimplified and prejudiced.

I miss people demanding from the investigating offices (or even better: the intent of said investigating offices) to investigate with a huge amount of transparency and publicity. At least parliamentary control should be guaranteed. To me, it seems like the argument that this is not possible because it would threaten the success of the investigation is not legitimate.

I would demand this because the past taught us again and again how cautious you must be with condemnation in advance of trial. Too often, we saw how in such situations offices have been pushed by individual interest or made “blind on one eye”. Even our enlightened Federal Republic of Germany gives us lots of examples: from the Octoberfest assassinations in 1980 through NSU. Consequently, you cannot and must not condemn in advance of trial in such a case as this.

It also seems remarkable to me that in the USA, a country where weapon enthusiasm and weapon lobby are ever-present, a country where the death penalty is a normal thing and where both individual persons and the executive powers react to violence with counter-violence, – that in this USA the pencil is now becoming the new super-weapon. In my opinion, this is cynicism and in itself deserving a caricature. The USA especially missed the chance of showing greatness too often, causing world-wide damage with un-thought-through politics.

So far, they are only looking for “alleged culprits” and talking “main offenders”. Even if it turns out that the culprits were Muslims, this does not mean the motivation had its roots in religion. Just like there are “insane Americans” who commit the crimes of a homicidal maniac, you will also get insane Muslims. Statistically spoken, you should actually have more of them, because there are more Muslims than Americans living on this planet…

I mentally associate this latest with assassination attempts in other countries. For instance I find public outrage rather minimal whenever a weapons fanatic in the USA massacres people in a school. And how quickly it is all forgotten in the media and then how easily the NRA (The National Rifle Association) has both the public opinion and the government again under control.

Last not least – I wonder why? – I remember the terror an Israeli army caused in Palestine not so long ago at the command of its government, laying in ruins an entire city.

Consequently, I would recommend even with this atrocious event in Paris that we retain a little serenity during the discussion. Maybe it is a good idea to first wait and see who is behind the scenes.

Imagine, for instance, what would happen if the murderer were “occidental warriors” of a French “Pegida” who staged the attack in order to make it look like “Islamic warriors”. That would be the occidental Worst-Case Scenario. And perhaps this cannot be? Also because Madame Le Pen and consorts would not appreciate it.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

"Mein Leben nach InterFace ?"

“Beyond Leading”

A young computer scientist who works in the subsidiary company of a huge US IT concern told me a short time ago:

”My work is far less demanding that I would wish. The problem is that, in a little more than one year, there were three different superiors of mine. Consequently, the current boss does not even know me. Nobody really knows my true competence. It annoys me to be so misjudged and I am going to look for another job where my competence is appreciated.“

Huge enterprises and concerns organise themselves anew in ever shorter time intervals. They want to show that they are capable of and willing to react to changes. This is to increase efficiency and decrease costs. The intention is to make it clear that they understand the market and initiate new concepts. More often than not, the re-structuring is not really a consequence of some acute tragedy, but you will always find a reason.

Once in a while, a mere change of managing directors will suffice. After all, the newcomer has to show that he brings change. In the wake of such re-structuring it can easily happen that two thirds or even more of the employees suddenly have a new superior. One they did not know at all or just from a distance before.

I am rather sceptical about this tendency towards re-structuring in ever shorter time intervals. An “introductory phase” that deserves the name requires that you trust each other. And the first requirement of trust is getting to know each other. How else should you have at least some knowledge about the values, expectations, interests and needs of the persons you are working with, as well as their competence and special talents?

Today, leaders are responsible in a “disciplinary sense” for many more people than formerly. In times gone, a “boss” was directly responsible for perhaps seven employees. Today, it is often many times that number. Leadership did not get any easier through this, since, basically, there is just not enough time for the individual person. It is hardly a surprise that in surveys most of the employees say they would like to have more time with their boss.

The HR Department (“Human Resource”), relying on a sophisticated HR software, is supposed to compensate for the loss of time with your immediate superior. Said software also contains very detailed employee evaluations. The leadership work is pressed into artificial personnel processes. External support for leaders is used with counsellors from outside the company. They subject internal employees to a “profiling” and then have “professional” feedback discussions with them.

I very much doubt that this will ever work. On the contrary: if a stranger, for instance, “evaluates” an employee who has been in the company for a long time and then tells him what type of person he thinks said employee is, this will often cause bizarre or ghost-like situations. More often than not, those situations will cause frustration or at least “inner resignation”.

To sum it up, I would say all re-structuring in huge concerns, as well as in small enterprises, should be executed with a lot of sensitivity. Forming (too) big teams with only one leader should also be well-thought-out. In such a context, frivolous and radical measurements usually do more harm than good.

Change as it happens today will certainly call for a permanent change in your own organization, too (both in structure and processes), yet it should happen as a continuous process and after long consideration.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

For more articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Roland Dürre
Monday January 5th, 2015

As Time Goes By …

KettenkarusselI need only look back upon the thirty-one years of my life at InterFace AG to see: many things have changed over the years! On all levels and in all dimensions. Looking at society and technology, or the way knowledge is treated today, what I see is more than a little surprising.

Totally new disciplines became important and made huge progress – and, as I see it, they also changed the world. Along with technology, I am also talking sciences such as psychology, neurology, behavioural science, along with game theory and good old philosophy. Not to mention how values and morals, even the concept of life for the individual person as well as in society and collectively, underwent change.

These developments exacerbated each other, thereby increasing speed in a way that I would no longer call linear. In fact, I considered and consider it more like “geometrical or exponential”.

This is why the following model I discovered a short time ago is one I am in favour of. It is about the words knowledgeable and ignorant, as well as competent and incompetent.

You could assign these four characteristics to a matrix with four quadrants. The top line of the matrix is “incompetence”, the lower line is “competence”. The right column is “knowledge” and the left column is ”ignorance”.

The upper left quadrant would then mean “knowledgeable yet incompetent”.

If you take the real-life example of an adolescent who knows that he cannot drive a car, you get the result that he is “knowledgeable yet incompetent”.

The lower right quadrant means “knowledgeable and competent”.

In our example, the adolescent grows to become a young man and learns to drive a car. Now he knows he can drive a car. And he will drive a car. Consequently, he is “knowledgeable and competent”.

The lower left quadrant represents “ignorant yet competent”.

As the young man grows older, he drives his car a lot. Consequently, he will become very good at driving a car, yet he is no longer actively aware of said competence. Whenever he drives a car, he is “ignorant yet competent”.

The upper left quadrant represents “ignorant and incompetent”.

We already can imagine what the story will be in the upper left hand corner. The man has turned ancient. He certainly should no longer sit behind a wheel, because he is no longer fit to drive. Yet he is not aware of this. Consequently, he will continue to drive with “ignorance and incompetence”.

Well, isn’t that a nice example? Yet there is one disadvantage. It suggests that man is the one who, due to age-inflicted change, mutates from “knowledgeable yet incompetent” via “knowledgeable and competent” and “ignorant yet competent” to “ignorant and incompetent”.

More often than not, however, it is the world or the environment which quickly changes. Whenever you enter a new social system, you will immediately notice that you have to work towards “being able to participate”. You learn the new system and then you become part of it. Except that, even after a phase of being “ignorant yet competent”, you might quickly become “ignorant and incompetent’.

Because the rules and the actual functionality of the system changed so fast and so dramatically that you never even noticed it. That is when you will look stupid and no longer understand the world – in which just a short while ago you felt ever so much at home.

Well, once in a while I, too, feel I am getting caught in a chain carousel that rotates faster and faster all the time, making me feel quite dizzy.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

The picture is called “Wellenflug auf dem Roonkarker Mart”. I found it in Wikipedia with the carousel article. It is originally be Wilfried Wittkowsky.