Gastautor(en)
Friday July 20th, 2018

Article by a Young Guest: The Transatlantic Circus.

Today, I (Roland Dürre) would like to introduce Götz, the son of Detlev Six. In the past, Detlev contributed hugely to the IF Blog with his articles. Among the things he wrote was also the  Radio Philosophy. Let me remind you of former times: the radio philosophy (Radiophilosophie) consists of 80 – as I see it, a little underestimated – philosophical articles, all of which follow the motto: “success regardless of thinking“.

But now, let us give his son the spot light. His topic is:

The transatlantic circus:

One would imagine that it is a good thing if the presidents of the two biggest nuclear powers meet in order to reduce tensions, especially since it is not the first time that an American President officially meets a Russian President. However, as we all know, there are people who see this differently. One of these people is the “Zeit” columnist Matthias Naß, who finds Trump’s politics “scary”. In his opinion, he gets support from Stefan Kornelius, who is the boss of the foreign correspondents department at “Süddeutsche“ and who writes: “These days, democracy suffers its worst setback since the fascist 1930ies”. In other words, Trump meeting Putin reminds Kornelius of the rise of Adolf Hitler – and Naß even calls him a “special transatlantic person“ for saying this [1]. Well, boys, I would like to thank you for this chip pass. Incidentally, both of them – like many other journalists [2] – are members of the transatlantic political lobby “Atlantik Brücke”.
Basically, one could just find such a circus hilarious, but there are quite a few problems with this attitude: the positions of Naß and Kornelius are such that they are considered far from obscure clowns. They are important clowns. Besides, this one example, sadly, covers the complete mainstream range of opinions. Additionally, there are still many people who actually consider these kinds of comments journalism. So now let us look at the reasons the mainstream press gives for their demand that Trump should not talk with Putin.

The “Annexation” of the Crimea:

In the UN Charta, which is the so-called international law, the terms annexation and secession do not exist, i.e. these words are not defined. In said Charta, we find the “right of self-determination of all peoples” and the “territorial integrity of countries”. When they sent the green men to the Crimea in order to make the former possible, Russia violated the latter. So regardless of the fact that international law allows a referendum that decides secession, the majority of the experts argue that the vote cannot be in accordance with international law because it was initiated through a breach of international law. However, some experts argue in favour of a secession [3]. There is no doubt that the so-called annexation of the Crimean is not a fact but an opinion. On the other hand, there is no doubt at all that the United States annexed the Island of Guam [4].

War in the Eastern Ukraine:

The MSM is quite good at not mentioning that Janukovich was not overthrown by the people, but by sharp-shooters. They shot from buildings that, at the time, were controlled by the opposition [5]. After the citizens of the Eastern Ukraine, who did not accept the forced coup, had declared their independence, a new Ukrainian government sent the army to the eastern regions, calling the entire process “anti-terror operation“. This activity triggered the fights in the Donbass region and made it a popular holiday destination for Russian soldiers. To be sure, Russia makes this war possible by supporting ethnic Russians in their neighbouring country, but the conflict was definitely triggered by others.

The influence on the elections:

Between 1946 and 2000, the USA influenced 81 elections and Russia and the Soviet Union influenced 36 [6]. If now the USA get upset about an alleged election influence, then this is a little like a Mexican drug cartel calling the rocker crime rate in Europe un-ethical. Additionally, there is the fact that, to this day, there is no publicly available proof. Most of the material is based on what the secret service said – and I mean the same secret service that faked the proof of Iraq mass destruction weapons. And those allegations do not even claim that what the Russians did actually had an influence on the election results [7]. But what about Mueller’s accusations? Yes, it is possible that, at long last, they will find something that sticks, but as of now, the benefit of the doubt still seems appropriate. The accused are all Russian citizens and companies operating in Russia. Basically, it is not very likely that any of them will appear in front of a court, which means Mueller does not necessarily count on having to provide proof. Surprisingly, now one of the firms that were accused of being troll farms appeared at court and pleaded “not guilty”, wishing to see proof. The first reaction by Mueller was that he tried to delay the release of said proof [8]. Unfortunately, German media had not time to write about this.

This is basically how propaganda works. Once in a while, some piece of information is withheld, some connections are not mentioned. The process is called fragmenting and de-contextualization of information. It generates a distorted image onto which then an unnaturally simplified range of opinions is imposed. And said distorted image is then held to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is how you can lie without telling a lie and it all sounds very realistic, because the information fragments you presented are mostly true. However, the same is not true for the overall image. Currently, the press massively promotes Cold War. Any attempt at closer contact or de-escalation needs to be avoided. But it is important that you do not let yourself be brainwashed by this propaganda. There is a lot you can say against Trump, but his approach to Russia is a good approach.

[1] https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2018-07/donald-trump-nato-gipfel-usa-demokratie-5vor8
[2] http://spiegelkabinett-blog.blogspot.com/2013/03/journalisten-der-atlantikbrucke-in.html
[3] http://m.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/die-krim-und-das-voelkerrecht-kuehle-ironie-der-geschichte-12884464.html
[4] https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolonien_und_Protektorate_der_Vereinigten_Staaten
[5] https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/propaganda-statt-journalismus
[6] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_electoral_intervention
[7] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PSieUmpeDSw
[8] https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/04/mueller-russia-interference-election-case-delay-570627

So much for Götz Six.

My conclusion? Perhaps we should listen more carefully to what young persons have to say and also give them more responsibility in politics and in enterprises?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Das Grauen der fossilen Welt nach Transfer Patras-Venedig auf einer nicht minder stinkenden griechischen Fähre.

The terror of the fossil world after a transfer from Patras to Venice on a very smelly Greek ferry.

In this article, Jörg Schindler wrote down a few ideas on the question that sprang to mind recently.

He talks about pure battery cars (E-cars) that get their energy through re-loading the battery from the common energy outlets.

Basically, there is only one possible conclusion – not just after reading this article. We have to drastically re-think and change our mobility. However, in our society, change can only be done from the bottom, for instance through grass root movements.

On January, 4th and 5th, 2016, we start our first barcamp for “Active Mobility in Everyday Life“ in Unterhaching – AktMobCmp.

So here is the article by Jörg Schindler:

What e-cars contribute towards reducing emission and making us less dependent upon crude oil.

A change of course in the propulsion technology and the fuels of the automobile industry is inevitable for various reasons:

  1. The cities literally suffocate under the exhaust fumes of car traffic, not just in China.
  2. In the long run, kissing oil good-bye – and consequently kissing the combustion motor good-bye – is inevitable, because less and less fuel will be available.
  3. For reasons of climate protection, this farewell should happen pretty soon. Consequently, a change of technology from the combustion motor to electrically powered vehicles is necessary and makes sense.

There is no doubt that it must be our goal to drastically reduce the number (and/or the use) of cars powered by oil quickly and considerably. E.-cars will emit no harmful substances locally, thereby making a contribution towards improving the air quality at the place of their use. Yet the global emissions are not zero.

Instead, they depend on how the electric energy has been produced. In Germany, electricity is still produced with an enormous fossil percentage (hard coal, brown coal and natural gasoline), which causes an enormous locally effective pollution in the power station, as well as globally effective emissions of greenhouse gas. With the current mixture of energy production in Germany, e-cars are “emission elsewhere vehicles”. Currently, the greenhouse emission is not reduced.

With respect to availability of resources and greenhouse gas emission, e-cars only make sense if they come with a profound change of primary electric energy sources from fossil to renewable.

The positive effect of e-cars when it comes to the quality of life in the urban environment

Apart from less emission at the place of utilization: no positive effect. In the public domain, motorized individual traffic is still domineering, regardless of the e-cars. And its political priority continues. The plan to open bus lanes for e-cars even exacerbates this tendency. As before, cars dominate the public domain. Self-induced chances of mobility for children and persons who do not own a car do not improve. There is no promotion – let alone priority – of active mobility.

The social and industry-political aspects

For persons who do not own a car, the transition to e-cars is not an improvement in their chances of mobility. The discussion about promoting the sale of battery cars is motivated by industry-political aspects – it is desired that said transition should not hurt the industry. It is more likely that the goal is reached if you calculate taxes according to carbon dioxide emission.

Additionally, it is obvious that tax reductions for Diesel fuel should be abolished (as they now plan to do in France by 2020). A radical banishment of cars with health-hazardous emissions in inner cities is also necessary.

The list of necessary measures can be added to almost at random (for instance: speed limit). Besides, we already have relatively clean small conventional cars (for instance those that emit less than 95 g of carbon dioxide per 100 km). But they say it cannot be expected from those who drive business cars, from the average car driver and from the German automobile industry to use them.

The proposed 5,000 Euros in subsidies for those who buy an e-car would suffice to give three Hartz-IV recipients a Pedelec, which would considerably improve the mobility chances for deprived groups. (It might be worth thinking about why these kinds of alternatives for spending public money are not even considered).

Promoting e-cars more and more aggressively (since said promotion apparently is a failure on the market), those solutions already possible and currently much more effective are concealed through the one-sided propagation of tomorrow’s solution. In doing so, these currently possible solutions are ignored and kept from influencing the current political debate. Consequently, things that could and should be done immediately and would have a far more positive effect are left undone.

Trapped in the paradigm of fossil traffic

As before, the general agreement is: it is better to be motorized than not. It is desired that the structures remain unchanged, only the technology has to improve. Sustainability as an add-on (just like whipped cream on the cake).

You will always see the same pattern: there are no explicit political alternatives. Instead, technological problems are re-defined and a solution has to be found for them: e-cars as the solution for all urban environmental traffic problems.

Another example for repressing political solutions: a possible (re-)structuring of the public (street) domain is not made the topic of any discussions – except when it can absolutely no longer be avoided, like on the Munich Rosenheimer Strasse.

The necessary transition to the post-fossil mobility is a lot more all-encompassing.

Clean power production and the transition to renewable energy sources for motorized traffic are a matter of necessity. But it is not sufficient to solve all the problems of modern traffic.

Reduced availability of crude oil and energy that will be more expensive in the long run will increase the local resistance, i.e. the economic, time and emotional effort necessary for getting from location A to location B with motorized means of transportation on the street, on water and in the air. Through the increased local resistance, what is nearer will become closer and what is farther away will become more remote. Consequently, reaching places in the vicinity will become more important than reaching remote places.

There is no doubt that efficient ways of travelling are a necessity in this context. But it is just as important to have efficient spatial patterns and urban structures that minimize the realization of human mobility needs. This structural change is made possible and promoted by active mobility. To the same extent as this happens, the necessity of motorized individual traffic will decrease.

Why active mobility is our topic and why it is the right topic

Short-range mobility in urban structures with short distances is the solution of many traffic and environmental problems if the distance can be and is covered on food or by bike. That is what we mean when we say active mobility.

It will increase the quality of your stay and the safety in the public domain. It creates equal mobility chances for all groups in society. And it will promote the physical and psychological health of all humans.

Neubiberg, October, 28th, 2015

About the author:
For many years, Jörg Schindler was managing director of LBST (Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik) and now he is director of ASPO Deutschland e.V.. He has spent many years discussing future relevant topics in the energy sector. For instance, he is also well-known for his numerous publications and as co-author of a series of technological books.

Many thanks to our guest author Jörg Schindler.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Do come to the barcamp Active Mobility in Everyday Life !
P.S.1
The picture is my own work. I hereby authorize everybody to use it under common licence following the rules therein.

Gastautor(en)
Tuesday October 6th, 2015

My Friend, the Software Cheat …

Yesterday, I received mail from Hans Bonfigt. Hans is much appreciated by me for being an excellent software and IT man. He is quite famous for his stubbornness and drastic language. This morning, he wrote to me:

Dear Roland, I hope you are fine!

A short time ago, I wanted to reply to your recent forum comment on the VW affair and your assumption that it is probably a novelty for software being used to manipulate. During a longish train trip, I took down a few – unstructured, brainstorm-like – observances on my blackberry. The final result gave even me pause.

Even if I probably do some damage to myself and although it is still a little early for a life confession at 55: here is a guest article for your IF blog.

Yours,

Hans Bonfigt

I, the Software Cheat.

betrugThe relevant part of my life can easily be summarized in one sentence: quite often, I successfully combined basic insights from scientists like Newton, Gauß, Boltzmann, Steiner, Euler and Shannon with the technological knowledge of my customers in order to generate programs that were supposed to help the experts towards working more efficiently.

This is how, with exactly said paradigm as a mental concept, I started developing software in 1980 – for calculating electronic motors, parable springs or lifting ranks, or for controlling temperature, passage, pressure and location.

As far as I was concerned, things might have continued endlessly in that way…

As early as in the 1970ies, my old man had made fun of the “academic proletariat” by pointing towards an FAZ cartoon: loser type wearing doctoral cap is holding the door open for decadent opera goers and the title is, “Dr. rer. pol. Rolf Wüllweber, dissertational thesis supervised by professor Steiner, ‘The socio-cultural meaning of the Loden coat with special focus on the late Weimar Republic seen in the light of modern insights on socio anistrophy and abstraction analysis‘. Maybe he should have listened to his professor Steiner when he said: “Wüllweber, all you can do with this dissertational thesis is become a doorman.“.

All of a sudden, everybody studied something and nobody had any use for those affected pseudo theorists. Those empty nuts could not be used for doing a good day’s work, consequently they made their clandestine ways through the companies in the departments documentation, “communication”, internal regulations (note by the lector: product planning) …

At Siemens, this species allegedly even invented a “greeting order”, telling people who had to greet whom first where, when and following which protocol determined by rank (next note by lector: I definitely knew the regulation about which rank was entitled to having curtains in their office …).

But then, something happened that was called “QM”: Quality Management.

Nobody wanted it and all enterprises I know willingly conclude that the quality of their products definitely got worse after they introduced quality management. Well. There are at least two ways for dealing with this kind of news:

For instance the Russians and Italians simply took their DIN/ISO badges and glued them onto their products – and that was it. The same happened to the UL and CE badges. In Germany, this is something you cannot do. Hundreds of thousands of morons who had never worked in their lives, were “trained” to become ‘quality managers‘. During the time that followed, they came up with the most abstruse of regulations, none of which had anything at all to do with what the final product was actually supposed to do. Yet all these regulations made the production more and more expensive, thus driving another nail into the coffin of the already existing location disadvantage Germany was suffering from.

No enterprise can suffer a technocrat without fantasy for more than five years (let us leave VW and Carl H. Hahn out of the equation for the time being). Consequently, the hot air merchants, following the principle ‘promoveatur ut amoveatur‘, moved on to become managing directors and – even worse – to sit in all sorts of norming committees as lobby-affine lackeys. This is how works like the “DIN EN 1570″ were generated. I personally had to spend quite some time professionally with this regulation. It is a lot too specific when it comes to details and far too wishy-washy when it comes to important criteria.

And this is where my personal sin originated:

Since the norm annoyed me enormously, I started to misinterpret it intentionally and make use of all the many gaps therein. Because both the European and world-wide competition could not have cared less about this great new Euro norm – yet the products of my customer were controlled following it. Before that time, I had been proud to have produced algorithms that actually were a model of reality – now I manipulated the model by using definition gaps.

And as I am writing this, it suddenly dawns on me that, in fact, creating a wishful image, rather than modelling reality, was something I started a lot earlier than I thought.

For instance, there was the carrier who was notoriously victimized by the police and the authorities: they kept sending control brigades who took a really close look at the trip recorder discs that had to follow strict archiving regulations. Any violation was detrimental both for the carrier firm and the driver – and the grapevine said: “if you want to keep your driver’s licence, you do not want to work for W.”.

Well, what can I say? My connections to KIENZLE were quite good, so I got myself a tachograph, modified it in such a way that it got a V.24 interface and designed a computer program that expected the time, driven kilometres, starting and destination points and then “faked” a disc that was in accordance with the StVO regulations.

We also developed other devices that significantly increased transport safety for the same industry: I am sure you, too, know someone who, at least once, almost or actually hit the car in front when the driver of said car abruptly hit the brakes on seeing a radar trap? Using our active RadarJammer, you could continue driving at the same speed as before, because it interfered with the then used “Multanova 6F“ and “Traffipax“ through phase interference.

When all those impossible “intrastate” messages became compulsory for many enterprises, we were the ones who wrote a module for the then used analysis software “CBS/IRIS“. It provided the statistics experts with pure random numbers. We were especially proud to have managed printing with laser printers on forms that had to be ordered – if I remember correctly – from Saarlouis. It had been desired to concentrate on following product groups, but that was not a must. Consequently, many of our customers sent us entire boxes full of forms addressed to the statistics authorities. However, no OCR system in the world would have been able to read all these different fonts and – naturally – the dark-grid background.

We also offer solutions for the “Elektronischer Gelangensnachweis“ and for the “reverse charging“ – turnover tax procedure, but since these are currently still used, I cannot write about them. So now, having reached the last third of my professional career, I have to accept to my own horror that one third of my “work” was directed at evading bureaucracy – to say it politely.

Of course, I have a motivation for all this cheating: for instance, if the UE finance ministers go on about those “criminal turnover tax carousels”, then why don’t you abolish the entire turnover tax? You could considerably reduce the burden of the enterprises and put taxation on those who in actual fact are exclusively the ones paying it: the famous “men on the street”. So what happens instead? The already complicated and complex turnover tax regulations, incidentally without legal foundation, are added to by more harassment, which again has a detrimental effect on the competitiveness of German enterprises.

This is where civil disobedience becomes our first duty as citizens!

But there is also an opposite side of the coin. I want to illustrate it with a real-life example: it is next to impossible to build a certain type of spring with a tolerance of less than 15% – the inner friction is too high and even as you assemble it, the radius and thereby the springing rate will change. I cannot give you the type of spring I mean, because knowing it you would be able to conclude who it has been built for. Everybody knows that the norm is idiotic, the required precision is unnecessary and the assumed weight is totally unrealistic. Consequently, the quality control person of the customer will visit regularly for acceptance tests, criticise the part of the springs that are beyond the tolerance scope, take the bribe and disappear.

As I see it, the worst about it is that the bribe is ridiculously low, since it typically consists of one crate of the least expensive spirits available. I saw the crate myself but refrained from trying. Because: this acceptance lackey will also betray himself and his job for truly safety-relevant car components the characteristics of which really should be within the tolerance range in order to avoid serious accidents.

Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur — there is really no other way to explain the VW “scandal”. Well, VW always cheated, and I mean in a very blunt way. I never dirtied my hands by doing anything for their products, because VW actually is an insult to the intelligence of all mature persons.

Let us remember the mid 1980ies. While BMW and Mercedes used reasonable exhaust gas treatment systems for their vehicles, for instance an air-mass controlled BOSCH Motronik with lambda regulation that produced a stoichiometric mixture in all active states, VW kept using the mechanic primitive injection with pressure plate and flow divider. The concern proudly announced: “We drive without a catalytic converter because that is what we believe in”. And for those customers who were obstinate enough to still want one, they had a full load enrichment switch everybody could see clearly on the control slot guide of the throttle valve.

As soon as the driver really asked his “Power-Through-Joy-Car” to show what it can do, the gas/air mixture was overly lubricated through full-load enrichment in order to prevent the primitive proletarian vehicles cost-optimized at the lowest possible embarrassment borderline from collapse due to overheating. Now, unburned fuel would end up in the catalytic converter, which has the effective surface of a soccer field. Now, as soon as the VW driver goes back to part-load, the oxygen can flow back to the catalytic converter which is now full of fuel. Due to its small specific heat, the ceramic substrate was not capable of discharging the energy of the strongly exothermic reaction, which means that the platinum layer evaporated.

After a few thousand kilometres, the VW catalytic converter was totally damaged – and everybody knew it! But that is only half of the story. Through targeted lobbying, not just by VW, they managed to abolish exhaust examinations for cars with catalytic converters – un unimaginable farce, but nobody noticed.

I could not believe my eyes when, in 1988, I saw a Volkswagen with a decent fuel-injection system in California. When I asked one of the VW employees, he told me: “Yes, of course, we know that our fuel injection is crap. Consequently, we reduce the power of our US models and take an injection system that actually works. Because in California, the cars have to undergo regular checks and if a catalytic converter is defunct, we have to replace it at our own cost “.

And now do not tell me you could not have known any of this, because almost everything I have been writing here was published in the daily newspapers. At the time, Lutz “Luigi“ Colani got carried away and was heard with the bonmot: “VW is a dungheap on top of which [Carl H.] Hahn is sitting“. Any intelligent person who wanted to know it knew: VW is the automobile pendant of Microsoft. For people without culture, brains, taste and the capacity to judge.

Basically, compared to the cheating I just wrote about, the current affair is ridiculous, isn’t it? They come up with a regulation that is far from practical and VW complies by doing something that is far from practical in their tests. That means they passed the tests, didn’t they? So what?

You can see the sad state of affairs when remembering that, nowadays, Audi is building “sound design” into their cars near the exhaust pipe. Besides taking up space and weighing something, they have no use whatsoever except to create a “full sound”. Because the typical AUD-iot will be satisfied with dummies.

Cheating on such idiots – well, I would have no scruples — mundus vult decipi. Secretly, I am still hoping that my manipulation would not have been discovered.

This article has been published verbatim for and in the name of Hans Bonfigt. And many thanks to Hans! – RMD

(Translated by EG)

Gastautor(en)
Wednesday February 19th, 2014

Planning Substitutes Error for Coincidence

The stock market depends on good news and the hope that even more can be earned, which means that the stock-oriented enterprises have to show better results all the time in order to live up to the expectations of the investors and to the promises of the fund managers. What you need for this are transparent strategies and an optimistic planning of results.

In order to increase the market share, you have to provide a constant push: be it in terms of turnover, profit, or buying out the competition. As opposed to this, deviations from the plan (warnings about potential profit) will make poor news and consequences will not be long in coming. The entrepreneur or manager must “pull a new parrot out of his hat” at all times, otherwise the investment experts will lose patience.

In the ’New Economy’, the importance of planning increased drastically and the vocabulary of the neo-liberal business concept introduced the respective terms as a fixed part of news and leadership methods: ”Business Plan, Strategy Planning, Performance, Shareholder Value, Profits, Annual Growth, Controlling“ and „Win-Win – Situation“.

While the long-term result planning and planning control mechanisms were basically restricted to huge enterprises, this concept now spreads more and more to the medium-sized enterprises.

For me as managing director of one branch of a medium-sized company, this was reason enough to critically investigate planning and its accompanying concepts: error and coincidence. I will shed a little light on the relationship between and the consequence of planning in small and medium-sized industrial firms and the increasing collection of data.

Planning

On Wikipedia, you can find about planning: ”Planning describes the human ability to mentally anticipate behavioural steps that seem necessary for achieving a goal. You get a plan, mostly in the form of a set of data structured according to time.“

Coincidence

On coincidence, Wikipedia can be cited as follows: ”If an individual event or the convergence of several events cannot be explained causally, then this is called coincidence. Potential causal explanations for events are mostly general rules or the desires of active persons. This means that the explanation of coincidence is the very absence of a (causal) explanation“.

Error

For error, someone wrote in Wikipedia: “Basically, error is a wrong assumption, statement, opinion or belief – with the party concerned being absolutely convinced that his or her statement(s) are/is correct.“
In Planning, you replace coincidence by error.

Planning in the course of history

The first groups of humans or hordes roamed the country looking for food, followed the herds of animals or explored the rest of the world seeking new sources of food. These migrations were triggered by lack of food and followed no strategy. Nothing is known or handed down about a long-term life planning.

Conversely, agriculture necessitates order and organization, i.e. planning.
After the first step towards founding settlements came the building of towns and countries, which is what we generally call civilization. Civilization will not be possible without planning.

The people in Mesopotamia and China were masters of early civilizations. We still admire their competence, for instance the Mesopotamian system of aqueducts and the Chinese Wall(s). Planning genius was displayed by the Romans, who gave us countless and sustainable proof of their strategic settlement policy. It is justifiable to say that the planned realization of a population census in the Roman Empire still influences the world today.

Planning became the cornerstone of our modern world.

Basically, planning is supposed to see to it that coincidences no longer happen.

You can have different opinions about when planning became part of business life. We know that the Sumerians wrote down business transactions on clay tablets. The Phoenicians, the merchants of antiquity, developed a simple alphabet and wrote it on papyrus, which was the determining progress for business planning. In my personal opinion, the double entry bookkeeping is the basis of modern management. In bookkeeping, there is no room for discrepancies, errors, coincidences or mistakes. A business transaction must be transparent and the balance must be precise if you want it to be the basis for a reliable planning process.

But any coincidence can change the plans.

A reliable bookkeeping is necessary, but outside influences, such as natural catastrophes, economic crises or the intensions of other parties can change or even destroy plans. It is the nightmare of every businessman that non-causal influences will make it impossible to reach the goals. But on the other hand, coincidence is also a motivation to plan anew or to correct the direction of your planning.

If you exaggerate, beneficence will become a menace.

Order controls rights and duties for group members and planning is the mental anticipation of future behaviour in order to reach a goal.

If you exaggerate order or discipline, then the unconditioned obedience will quickly become will-free dependence on others.

If you exaggerate planning, you will also get dependent and subordinate in order to reach a goal.

It is clear that the anticipation of future behaviour, planning and the secondary virtue of order, along with exaggeration, can easily cause an unpleasant controlling mechanism in our lives. To put it provocatively: the exaggeration, going over the top, is the menace coupled with planning.

Planned Economy

Thinking planned economy or centralized administration will automatically make you remember the times of the USSR and COMECON, where all decisions on work, capital, property ownership, production of goods and services were planned by a central office for a fixed time of five years.

However, the first ideas for the business concept of planned economy go back to ancient times. Plato himself summarized the planned economy of a state in his “state designs”. Jean Jacques Rousseau also dealt with planned economy in his “social contract”, before it was realized as a fixed part of Marxism.

During the cold war era, where ideologies clashed, the Western States foulmouthed the planned economy as an economy of shortages. They kept pointing out the plan derivations and shortages “in the East” and considered the social or free market economy superior. It is little known that Charles de Gaulle, too, introduced five-year plans in France after the end of the war. They ended in 1992. Well, the French central planning survived the end of the social planning economy by one year.

In this article, I do not wish to discuss how much sense state-controlled planning makes for the economy. It is a fact that we in our complex state structures and connections cannot really do without plans and business regulations, unless we are willing to accept a one-sided distribution of goods, capital and property. The argument about what the ideal planning of our global economy would be, however, is not yet resolved.

Planning in the New Economy

After the strategy comes the business plan, which is accompanied by reporting and controlling. This is what the successful multi-millionaires show us.
Can we transfer this model to smaller industrial units 1 : 1?

  • The answer might be yes if we are talking the production of serial parts the amount of which has been budgeted in advance with the customer and when precision, quality and a deadline are the relevant factors. A typical example is the automobile industry, which depends on component suppliers of various sizes.
  • You can also agree if we are talking consumable supplies, such as screws and tools.

For both instances, planning and control is absolutely necessary.

Plant engineering, where special solutions are required, is a totally different issue. After all, industrial engineering plants – unlike automobiles or canned goods – are not produced in a series. The sub-contractor, who is often a medium-sized enterprise, will have to adapt with his solutions.

Planning CANNOT replace the following qualities: communication, spontaneity, creativity and flexibility. These functions are demanded every day.

The setting of the course towards error: exaggeration.

Whenever a universal program for managing a company is introduced, grown and harmonious teams are destroyed, because they will not fit into the logic of the program. In sales and technological leadership, which formerly were often held by one person, communication, spontaneity, creativity and flexibility might be considerably impeded.

A deep-rooted structuring and re-distribution of tasks into units that can be planned will slow down the work because overlapping functions are hard to unite in the program.
This is how the way towards error is opened even wider, because structuring and strict adherence to tasks according to a master plan are exaggerated.

With the best of intents, errors are committed if adaptations are not possible, even though everything has been arranged according to the book and planning logic. Coincidence as a possible approach to solve the problem has never been taken into consideration.
Or, returning to the original topic: coincidence is replaced by error.

Examples

In this article, I will only take small and medium-sized industrial enterprises into consideration. More often than not, the processes in these companies from the sales contract to the production and distribution are organized in few departments. Sales and contracts were realized in one department, in close cooperation with construction. Acquisition was often separate, which was also true for preparation and production.

If these processes are realized by some software or system which takes care of all internal processes, then the overlapping tasks are cut down into individual steps as the logic of the software requires. The old departments have to be dissolved and new departments have to be created. Orders are cut up into many small steps. It is not unheard of for an order to first have to pass seven or eight stations before it can be approved. This is how three to four weeks can pass before a deadline can be approved. Said approval might well be far from the originally planned goal. This will cost the salespersons nerves. They will constantly have to execute time-consuming research in order to find out where exactly in the system the order is at a given time. Unfortunately, precise information will not be returned with pressing a button – as in view of the central data base you should assume.

Criticism

Time and again, I see company counsellors or new holders of leadership positions trying to change structures in specialized companies of small or medium size according to the model of the ’Big Ones’. Demolishing these old structures causes enormous friction. The planning costs a lot of energy and time if finally you want to present a modern and planned entrepreneurial structure on paper.

Systems generated for entrepreneurial leaders strictly demand data input which in old times was only available after the project had started and which was then entered flexibly. Overlapping competence is amputated, because the planning phase has to follow a structure determined by the software program and strictly distinguishing between the tasks. The individual tasks pass this structure as emails or program codes and not through personal communication.

During these planning games, it is not at all assured that the desired success, the slimming down of the process and the quicker processing, will be achieved. More often than not, the opposite is true. Caused by additional costs because of extra jobs created in planning, the total cost increases, which generated financial pressure. In order to cover the cost, you would have to increase the marginal return at the same ratio. This means you would soon need new products with a higher marge, but the planning process has its own rhythm and will hinder spontaneity – so this is a truly vicious circle.

It is an error to believe that planning can replace the knowledge in the technological or distribution sectors. Especially medium-sized companies need personalities versed technologically who are appreciated both by the customers and in the firm because of their competence and long years of experience. They need the support of a routine staff. You cannot replace such characteristics with the planning of structures, neither are those persons simply replaceable. I get the impression that the “new economy” planning staff has a different opinion on this. In fact, they seem to consider those ideas highly suspect, preferring the “renovator” with planning technology software. Expertise is not something that necessarily matters.

Claiming that software contaiining all business processes for small and medium-sized companies is an exaggeration is provocative.

So what can we do?

Medium-sized companies in plant engineering must remain flexible. Planning certainly has its place. There is no doubt that production must be efficient. The machines must work properly, but there must still be room for flexibility in exceptional cases.

It goes without saying that costs and results must be written down instantly, but who says this needs to be done by a huge number of control reports, monthly balance sheets, three-month balance sheets, sales input planning, controlling, three-year plans, distinguishing between products and numerous other tables for every individual problem.
Data control and tables are back-oriented, but the real challenge lies in the future. There must be time to philosophize about the future and to give coincidence a chance, instead of remaining erroneous.

I know our guest author well. For good reasons, he will not publish his name (RMD)

(Translated by EG)

Gastautor(en)
Tuesday November 12th, 2013

Stepping on Virgin Soil.

A friend of mine sent me the following story “from the internet”:

On the planet Virgin Soil, the mainland foundation Transmissio, also known as TCP/IP, surrounded by the ocean communication, has been built. Around this foundation, various islands rise over the water of the communication ocean. The streams and rivers all flow into said communication ocean, which means they are all connected.

Virgin Soil researchers found out that the mainland foundation, along with the islands, has layers which, as time went by, rose higher and higher.

The most important and biggest of those islands are Mailanesia, Usenetasia and Minor-Complaint-City. Apart from those, there is also Efteponia, Telnetia and several others. Almost all the islands are or have been inhabited. As usual, the peoples of Humanum drifted apart over the years and now they speak different languages.

The cultures and behavioural codices of Mailanesia and Usenetania are closely related, so the people living in both islands can mostly understand each other. Whenever they want to talk with someone from the other group, the Mailanesians use SMTP, whereas the Usenetanians use NNTP. Both peoples speak languages which – apart from dialects – are rather similar to the language Mailanesians and Usenetasians use when communicating with each other in their own dwellings.

Some of the Mailanesians live rather lonely lives and have contact with only a few other Mailanesians. They are called “One-to-One-Mailanesians”. Other Mailanesians have contact with many of their fellow citizens, which gives them the title “One-to-Many” or “Listo-Mailanesians”. Consequently, the rules the Mailanesians gave themselves outside the SMTP culture are rather few and far between. The One-to-One Mailanesians decide among themselves, the Listo Mailanesians mostly leave it to a higher authority to come up with rules or to occasionally remind them of rules that had been agreed upon.

With the Usenetanians, it is different. For them, the public system and protection against alien intrusion is important. So their culture, called “NNTP”, created many places with identical design, which guarantees that an error at one place will not cause the entire public system to collapse. Instead, it can always switch to other places. For the Usenetanians, it is important that their culture and their many locations are not owned by anybody and that any person at all can join at any time. In order to be able to understand each other and exchange ideas, they made rules which make it possible for everybody to reach each of their locations and to be a free citizen with equal rights of their island.

However, we must admit that the population of Usenetania has now suffered from a dramatic demographic change for some time. This is not true to the same extent for some individual, remote Usenetanians who settled on small islands and, although still nurturing the NNT culture, no longer have any connection with the proper Usenetarians.

Minor-Complaint-City is an island the landscape of which is far more broken than that of the others. There are numerous layers and summits, all of which, of course, are based on the same series of layers as the other islands. However, the higher you climb, the more the structure will differ – and on the top layers of the mountains, the differences are rather significant. The Minor-Complaint-City culture is called HTTP. It is a place where they like it sharp and colourful. There are uncountable places and locations, but the public system and reachability is not as much of an issue as in Usenetania.

Every clan has its own place and its own special niche and an outsider will not find it easy to find it. This is how, in Minor-Complaint.-City, many dialects developed and nowhere near every inhabitant can start contacting any other inhabitant of his liking. Besides, the inhabitants of Minor-Complaint-City are not very interested in questions of ownership on their island, which means that they do not come up with so many prevention regulations concerning the closure of places or the restriction of their freedom. For them, the meaning of the word “freedom” tends towards being permitted to camouflage their own identities. In fact, the latest fashion is the “digital Burka” – which they call “locking mechanism”, because they found out that they are spied upon by unwelcome guests who never asked permission. Incidentally, they share this experience – along with the annoyance about it – with the Mailanesians.

Another characteristic of the people living in Minor-Complaint-City is that many of them believe they are the only inhabitants of Humanum and there are no other islands on the planet. In fact, some inhabitants of Minor-Complaint-City actually never leave their mountain. They expect others who have a question to come and climb their mountain. After having made this special effort – for which, more often than not, you need special equipment – you will find them a fairly friendly people. Provided the guest takes pains to speak in their dialect and does not belong to the aforementioned “unwelcome guests”.

So much on this. In my opinion, it is rather nice and you might find it easy to continue in the same manner. I looked for the source and found out that it is by Sabine Baer <baerks@t-online.de> in the Newsgroups: free.de.piratenpartei. The subject is “Post Card from Virgin Soil”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Gastautor(en)
Saturday February 2nd, 2013

(Deutsch) Britischer Humor

Gastautor(en)
Wednesday December 26th, 2012

Christmas Greetings to all Sysadmins!

Here is an article by a much-loved IF Blog friend whose IF Blog comments we enjoy fairly often. It is Hans Bonfigt. For me, it was a total surprise that he now, for once, accepted the role of guest author. Here come his:

Christmas Greetings to all System Administrators

If we are totally honest, there was always this special way in which “we” IT persons have always been, well, what in our country you would call “wound up”. No, it has nothing to do with Mr. Jobs’ plagiarism. Instead, it is owed to a certain lack of understanding:  “You only start working when the lights are turned on”, is what they said about us. Of course, my dear users (we know no worse name to call anybody), how else are we supposed to repair the systems you, once again, managed to damage, if you are still sitting in front of them? Formerly, it was not possible at all, because the typical work place used to be a one-desk system where, naturally, only one person could work. At some point, the machines became ‘capable of multi-tasking’, but that did not mean the users had learned to work with a multi-tasking device. We are a little more demanding – we mostly want the machine exclusively for ourselves.

And while you have been lying on your sofa since at least last Friday, a small minority has been busy since Friday noon trying to bring order back to where you produced rubbish. Their maximum number of hours of sleep is two in 24. After all, we know what outcries we again get to hear tomorrow, on Thursday, if some minor glitch is still discovered: “WE CANNOT WORK …” !  –  Well, tell us something that is News to us!

Indeed, every year the Augean Stables you produce in our systems get more annoying and, above all, bigger. And you just do not seem able to learn. Mind you, I never seriously assumed you would stop putting the post-its with your passwords on them underneath the mouse mat. After all, I know what stupid expressions you choose and there must be a place where all those facebook losers originated.  Well expecting something like a minimum of responsibility – that would be truly foolish. If that were what I expected, I would have chosen another job.

Yet, over the years, I actually had hoped you might at least form a habit of doing those things that would make life easier for you: but nothing could be farther from the truth!

– Use no spaces and no umlauts in file names – that is what we have been preaching for more than twenty years. And, above all, do not copy the entire text or your document into the file name. You of all people, who you are not even capable of distinguishing between a capital ‘O’ and a zero, should definitely not take for granted that umlauts, or even only upper or lower case are implemented cross-platform and interoperable in file names. Let alone in your so-much-loved windows, which, incidentally, only knows the “8.3″ nomenclature – which stank to high heavens even under DOS.

– For at least as long, we have been preaching that you should “save shared files centrally AND STOP MAILING THEM TO EACH OTHER”. And we also tell you, “USE THE CORRECT CITATION METHOD and stop forwarding all the never-ending exchanges of replies and replies to replies at the bottom of each mail”. So, guys and dolls, I have now been sitting in front of a 24 TERABYTE mail spool since last Friday and am expected to downsize it to 12 TB. And you can bet that this is exactly what I did. And you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.

– How often have we told you to empty your rubbish bins? But do not worry, this is also something I did for you. The razor sat as deep as your neck.

– Since we are at it: I also removed all your browser caches. Because I was simply not in the mood to save the huge pornographic collection you designed with all your clicks and to migrate it to the new SAN you claimed was necessary.

The information society definitely no longer has a slim, even face. Instead, it has a bloated visage like Dirk Bach. Thinking of former times makes me nostalgic:

I was among those who actively remember all the punch cards: the maximum source file size of the KIENZLE SLM was 2,780 lines, which just about fitted into a small suitcase. It was truly a nuisance, really heavy and it definitely took time to ‘do a quick copy’. Merging was hell on earth. We all definitely had to be word perfect in the machine language, because an assembly run with a comparable number of cards took 2 1/2 hours. If you were not able to patch manually, you were literally “at the end of your teethers”.

The ECMA-34 – cassette was a blessing. Well, my dear users, you know it as a music cassette, but basically, it had not even been intended for you. Rather, it had been intended for us. An entire suitcase of punching cards was now small enough to fit into a shirt pocket: there was room for 900 groups with 256 symbols per group and you could use both sides. Even better: the 8-inch-floppies. It was no longer even necessary to load the source data. You could process them directly.

The next revolution were the “big” hard disc drives which no longer crashed every other week: basically, you no longer needed to handle data storage media, because everything was on the system, anyway. All there was left to do was save the data. Saving data with the half-inch tapes was somewhat tedious, the maintenance was quite time-consuming: you had to set the “cat’s eyes” which resulted from the printing head signal and the phase-delayed echo by 180 degrees of the reading head correctly when using the oscilloscope (yes: that is really what they were called). The tape machines were devilishly fast and had an almost unlimited capacity.

With the Cartridges, ibs, the QIC Cassette, affordable systems were now available. Our first sweetheart managed to process 20 MB in half an hour.

We are talking about the time when those unappetizing “Commodore” machines were flooding the market. They looked like bread shelves. This was in the late 1980ies.

So what exactly had changed?

Currently, I am supposed to design a complete SAN over the holidays. ALL, and I mean rally all data of a medium-sized enterprise should be stored there. And I have to delete ALL. Of course after having made a copy on tape before and, naturally, redundantly. And because it is important: also dissimilarly redundant.

The Cartridges have become smaller and faster. Currently, more than 140 MB are flying from the tape to the hard disc per second. That means the system manages about seven times as many data as were common in the 1980ies on the QIC 20 cassette. Instead of 3.5 hours, we now need one second.

This equals a production increase of 1,259 %.

But, hey, is that REALLY true?

The enterprise I am currently working for also had a QIC-20 tape station in the 1980ies. It was connected with an IBM /38 which supplied the entire enterprise with the necessary infra-structure.

Basically, this is exactly what the new IT is doing: supplying 200 persons with diverse programs, just like it used to be. Maybe a few more persons are working there today. In the 1980ies, a migration took three days – in the new situation, I have already been at it for five days. And I will not be finished before tomorrow morning at five o’ clock. On the old machine, a well-trained service technician could do the job. The new system is ultra-complex, combining almost all the latest technologies in one box – in particular, it can no longer do without windows and the oh-so-great IBM RUBBISH-TOR – this is a pile of rubbish built from randomly connected JAVA parts that smells to high heavens. No human being can handle it. Luckily, I am not a human being.

Basically, the old machine was never out of order. To be sure, due to the redundancy, the new one is also never at a standstill, but individual components are faulty all the time. And the then necessary repair work makes you perspire with anxiety.

The old machine was really quick. So is the new one, but the JAVA/AJAX/PINGPONG – stupidity interface is extremely slow and the users are just sitting around and twiddling thumbs.

Yes, my dear users – I HAVE NO MERCY! You were the ones who wanted the GUI, now you have it. Low-quality raised eyebrows for low-quality employees. Each to his own.
But where did progress go? Didn’t we have it at some time in the past?

The answer can be found with Bertrand Russell. Let me cite once more:

Every technological growth will cause a corresponding growth in wisdom, provided it also means an increase in human happiness.

Vulgo: the IT landscape changed from being a ‘Tool’ to being a ‘Toy’. With all the unpleasant consequences. A short time ago, a secretary at Northwest AG told me how she had produced a letter ten times as fast using HIT/CLOU, an InterFace AG text program, than she can do it now with the current “Word” version. Mind you, she needed about the thousandth part of the computer capacity, main storage and disc memory.

We have become slow, obese and degenerate.

Well, and some way or other, the spirit is missing. There used to be a time when I actually enjoyed those “night-flights”. I relished the soothing noise of the air conditioning and, above all, I was absolutely certain that the job would be finished by the deadline.

After all, only the fact that I can grasp the design of a system at all will put me in a position to be able to take responsibility.

Today, I can no longer be sure I actually understand the complexity. And if there is anything I failed to notice over the last days, then 200 persons will not be able to work next Thursday. Neither on Friday. Neither the week after. Because we have neither programs nor data. Income and salaries will still be fine, that is done externally, but it is questionable if they can be paid.
And I had better prepare to live under the bridges.

And, YES, there are many persons who, even now, do something that is a lot more important. For instance all of the train drivers: unlike me, who is “haunted by” the idea of 200 persons, they are responsible for 800 persons. Or the stressed-out traffic superintendents who have to act with the highest possible responsibility, although they are given damaged machines to work with. If you take the degree of responsibility into consideration, basically everything becomes relative, even the money you get for it. For instance, what was Mr. Mehdorn “responsible for”?

In many ways, Roland is a model for me. In the years to come, I will start exercising more and downsize the admin job, which is still a third of my work life, until it dwindles to nothingness. Because it is a very tiring job. When I was an adolescent, I heard something Günter Grass said, “powerlessness tested with rubber walls”.

I would like to send greetings to all this world’s administrators who, equipped with Pizza, Cola, Junk-Food and Cigarettes, under high risk and with a relentless deadline and almost unendurable stress still manage to put enterprises back to the network on time for their first day of work.

Hans Bonfigt

I was truly delighted to read this article. Dear Hans, let me thank you very much for writing it.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Gastautor(en)
Tuesday April 24th, 2012

The World of Insects …

Here is another article I found on the internet.

For many years, the industrious ants have been gladly coming to the enterprise each day. They love their job, are hardly ever ill and work happily all day long. All jobs are done quickly and to the greatest satisfaction of the customers. Since they like their job, the ants will hum their song whenever possible.

But times change.

One day, the managing director (a big stag beetle) realizes that he actually has no idea what the ants are doing.

“This cannot continue in this way!”

He generates a new post for a supervisor and employs the dung beetle who has tremendous experience from his various dung heaps. First and foremost, the dung beetle starts with the agenda: office hours. He standardizes the beginning and end times and comes up with a complex rule for working hours. Diverse reports are introduced, the job descriptions have to be described minutely with much effort.

The incoming reports are processed and analysed. This causes overwork for the dung beetle. The managing director stag beetle employs a beautiful ladybird beetle secretary for the dung beetle. Said ladybird beetle also institutes an archive and controls the on-time processing of all the complicated reports.

Regardless, the ants keep working happily and enthusiastically, because they still enjoy their work. Their song, however, is heard less and less often.

The managing director stag beetle is enthusiastic about the work of the dung beetle. At long last, he has numbers he can read in the evening when comfortably sitting in front of his chimney. Since, however, these numbers look jumbled up, he also wishes to get graphic representations and analyses. And, above all, he wants a nice quarter-year prognosis.  Consequently, it is now necessary to employ another assistant for the supervisor, on top of the secretary ladybird beetle. A fly is found. She gets her own colour printer in order to be able to print nice and colourful reports.
The industrious ants hardly ever sing these days. They complain that now they have to fill in so much paper rubbish. In order to manage all this extra work, overtime has to be accepted. At the same time, general manager stag beetle notices that the customers are now less happy.

“We need an administrator for the department where all those ants are working!”

For this responsible job, the cricket is employed. Her chirping is louder than the humming of the ants. First and foremost, she demands an office of her own. The cricket also brings her own assistant, the locust. Because locust always worked as the secretary of the cricket.

The ants no longer sing. They get more and more restive, nervous and sceptical. They fear for their future and call in sick more often. The enterprise goals increase, the to-do list is growing and the planned numbers are climbing.
However, the managing director stag beetle notices after looking at his graphics that, though the cost increases, the turnover does not. Consequently, he has an idea that, from his perspective, makes sense:

“We must see that we become more productive!”

They are looking for a counsellor who isolates savings potential among the ant production. Done as said. They find a mosquito as counsellor. She measures all the production steps of the enterprise. Both the structure and process organization undergo modification. The activity is expensive, the actual benefit minimal.

When reading all the reports and prognoses, the managing director stag beetle realizes that the costs increase while the turnover does not. During the coming quarter year, great losses are threatening. Consequently, he asks “The Glow-Worms”, a famous and expensive counselling company. They get the mandate to analyse the enterprise and work on a plan for saving it.

The Glow-Worms spend three months inspecting all the departments of the company day and night. Eventually, they present their final report. The result is:

“There are too many employees in this enterprise!”

The managing director sticks by the advice. Several sectors are either laid to rest or sold out, some sectors are outsourced and many ants are given notice.

I do not know the author of this story and I made only a few changes.

RMD

Gastautor(en)
Monday January 16th, 2012

Hurrah! I Can Read the IF Blog on my Kindle!

Here is a short instruction 
(not just for the IF blog)

Being an enthusiastic user of my new Kindle, I find it great that I can now read Süddeutsche, Zeit, Spiegel and much more, as well as browse through the IF blog, while sitting in the S-Bahn train.

🙂 The “installation” is a little tiresome, but afterwards…

First, I installed the program Calibre on my computer. It is a free Open Source e-book management application. Using it makes it possible to convert books and files into the “Amazon format”. But you can also call up RSS feeds and then transfer them to the Kindle.

For installation, you have the option “call up news”.

You can choose between:

  • Time-controlled download of messages:
    what you get is countless pre-arranged RSS feeds, among others currently 68 newspapers, some of them free.
  • Add new individual news source:
    that is what I need in order to be able to read the IF blog on my Kindle in the future.

mehr »

Gastautor(en)
Monday January 2nd, 2012

Rolo’s Favourite Story

It was Rolo who pointed me towards this story and its author:

Jobber’s Story

We jobbers assembled wires and spirals, put small plastic discs into oval red-painted metal pieces – and at the opposite end of the assembly line sat Mehdi. He drilled a hole through the eggs with his machine, then the thing was finished.

During the first few weeks, I still tried to find out what it was I made. After all, you wanted to find something that made sense in what you did – or at least that was the idea. Well, said one of the jobbers, a politics student from Sierra Leone, the piece is obviously for car motors. It plays an important role in the carburator. The Polish student of religions said it is for export to Japan, where it will be part of a shintoistic sect cult and highly venerated.

The only thing we knew for certain was that the finished pieces were rather expensive. Behind closed doors, it was said that they cost 300.- Deutsch Marks per piece. But nobody knew for certain. The eggs had different sizes. They varied weekly. Our foreman adjusted the machines to fit and we had to do everything exactly as he ordered it.

He enjoyed being in charge and ordering people around. Soon, these students would leave the university and then play boss with their bizarre theories, but here, in the practical world, it was still he who was boss.

His favourite sentence was: »We do not pay you for thinking, but for working.« He was really one of the old types. For him, the phrase “co-operative leadership” belonged in the same category as homosexual swinishness.

One morning, shortly after seven o’clock, Mehdi, the exiled Iranian, called to the foreman: »The machine is not correctly adjusted.« The foreman’s reply was: »How would you know that, you stupid Turk. Shut up and do your work.«

Around eight, Mehdi again called the foreman: »Can’t you see! The machine is not properly adjusted. The angle for drilling is too steep. I think if you…«

The foreman said: »We do not pay you for thinking, but for working.«

Mehdi drilled. He drilled and drilled. 120 eggs per hour. The smile on his face got broader and broader. Occasionally, he shook his head with an air of incredulity: »Rejects«, he said. »Friends, do not waste hard labour on this«, were his words to us, »I am turning all your work into rejects, anyway. These are all rejects.« He chuckled softly. We started wondering when they would discover it.

They found out half an hour before the day’s end. The department head yelled, sounding like he had fallen into the skip. Mehdi was already cleaning his machine when the hierarchy approached him: the department head, the master, the foreman. Well, said Mehdi, hadn’t he told them that the machine was not properly adjusted? The foreman asked how Mehdi assumed he would know this kind of thing.

Mehdi said: »Well, I study machine engineering in the eighth semester.« With tears in his eyes, the department head asked Mehdi if he was aware of the fact that he had produced rejects to the tune of a quarter million Deutsch Marks. »Is that how much it was?«, said Mehdi. The rest of us who were standing around quickly did the arithmetic. Well, it meant that the 300 Deutsch Mark per piece were true.

I think this is a truly beautiful story!

The author is BOV BJERG
Bov Bjerg, born 1965. The former truck driver is now editor for the magazine »Salbader« and columnist of the Berlin city paper »Scheinschlag«. He reads at the »Reformbühne Heim & Welt« and at the »Mittwochsfazit«.
(On the internet: www.bjerg.de)

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Rolo is  Rolo Zollner, a cherished friend and excellent photographer. Occasionally, he permits me to publish pictures he took in the IF blog.