It has now been almost fifty years since I was first permitted to vote. And, as far as I can remember, I also always took part in the elections. Because my super-ego always ordered me to go and vote – even if I did not feel like it.

Only a few days ago, I discovered that the voting procedures (and consequently also the rules) are quite different for federal elections, state elections and district elections.

Initially, I was outraged about my deficient political education. Then I asked friends I consider wise democrats – and it turned out that they, too, were quite ignorant. During the electoral campaigns and from the messages on quite a few election posters, I discovered that even some of the parties and their candidates, at least partly, do not know the differences between the federal, state and district electoral systems.

That was a consolation, but it also motivated me to describe two important differences:
As opposed to the federal election rules, the Bavarian State Elections are organized in such a way that the first votes, too, will be counted following the proportional representation (see: Bayerisches Landtagswahlsystem and Bundestagswahlrecht)!

When it comes to the district elections in Bavaria, the five-per-cent rule is ignored. Conversely, there is a minimum rule for the Bavarian State elections (until 1973, the Bavarian rule said ten per cent for the district level. Since 1973, we have now had the state-wide five per cent regulation as written down in Art. 14 of the Bavarian Constitution. Since the Bavarian Electoral System has no Basic Mandate Clause as we have in the Federal Electoral Regulations, this also means that persons who won their seats might actually not receive a mandate).

What does that mean?

First and foremost, the voter in Bavaria should, when giving his first vote, not apply the same reasoning as he would in Federal Elections, because he might do something he had not intended to do.

Secondly, if you give your vote in the district elections, you can also elect “small parties” without the risk that these votes will practically be cancelled and titled “others”, as would be the case in State Elections.

You remember?

Tomorrow, we have both State and District Elections. And remember: there are different rules for the two although you vote on the same day in the same election office.

Some more information:

In the 2013 district elections, the CSU did not have the absolute majority in any of the seven Bavarian districts. In the district parliaments, we do not only have the representatives of the well-known parties CSU CSU (89), SPD (38) , FDP (6), FW (21), Grüne (18), but also representatives of the Leftists (5), the BP (6), the ÖDP (6), the Franken (2) and also the Piraten (4). I took the numbers of the 2013 elections from Wikipedia.

I do not understand why the parties that know they will hardly have a chance to top the 5% in Bavaria do not tell their potential voters that there is no 5% clause for the district elections. Presumably, quite a few voters would probably elect a small party.

I would propose that we standardize the voting procedures – and we could at the same time reform it. To might make it easier for the citizens.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday October 5th, 2018

Is Democracy in Danger?

Here is what I think about the Bavarian Elections in a little more than a week.

Between ruins (South Georgia – whaling).

Democracy in Danger?
I hear this question more and more often.
And my answer is:
Yes – but it has been in danger for a long time already!

The democratic idea includes that people who live in a country (and therefore are this social system) elect their representatives who then find social consensus in parliament and realize said consensus in the form of prudent legislation. But this has not worked well in a long time.

My friend Detlev Six writes:
Liberal democracy is the most sensitive creature of the world. Nurse the baby!

Well, I, too, think that democracy is a rather tiny plant that should be well tended. However, that is not what we do. Instead, said plant has been threatened and harmed by various pests for decades.

I identified the following reasons why democracy in Bavaria and many other countries has been in the decline:

  • A general weakness in education and learning.
    Schools and universities produce consumers and workers who are more and more adapted to what the system needs, instead of autonomous persons in an ethically responsible awareness of values.
  • Party oligarchy.
    The parties no longer work towards the “social consensus”. They do not want the best for the people but continuing power. For said power, you need votes, which they want at any cost.
  • Interest associations and lobbyism.
    
The citizens see that the government, the parliament and the parties are ruled by foreign powers where the individual interest has priority over the interests of the people.
  • Marketing makes elections ridiculous.
    
How electoral campaigns are organized irritates the people and de-values the elections. You can now again see it in Bavaria. What nonsense you read on the posters that have been distributed all over the streets? Neither do the manifestos of the parties convince anybody. You get the impression that the party where most money flows into marketing and where people are best manipulated will win the elections.
  • The candidate selection and the internal party sleaze.
    
Again and again, party members that have never been elected into top positions get them.
  • Feeling powerless.
    
Huge parts of the population see themselves as powerless (either because that is how they feel or because they really are).

However, the “democracy in danger” question is now asked because the populists in Europe have such success and because of the imagined – and perhaps also real – threat of rightist movements and nationalist tendencies in Germany.

However, I believe that these problems are just a consequence of the factors I listed above and other similar developments. For me, this means that we ourselves caused the entire dilemma. By democratic failure. Both actively and passively.

And, as so often, those that lament most about what is wrong are those who caused it. We will probably have to accept that it is all our own fault, if we like it or not.

So whom am I supposed to give my vote?

I do not yet know. I do not like the Green Party because they were the ones who, along with the SPD, made it possible for our armed forces to be stationed abroad. CSU and SPD do not look electable to me. As far as the CSU is concerned, this is not only because of the current protagonists. The SPD did not understand #newwork at all, although this could (should?) be their topic. The FDP covers its clientele policy by promoting an “educational push“ and is millions of miles away from a “liberal“ policy, which means I cannot give them my vote. As I see it, the Left Party has some nice and good things in their program, but they also say many adventurous things. When it comes to “work life”, they are just as bad as the SPD. The AfD is not at all my world. That leaves only the ÖDP, which looks honest to me, or the “Die Partei”, which at least does not have a manifesto that makes you laugh as much as that of the other parties. Well, and ever since they tried to write a common political manifesto (see IF-Blog five years ago), I no longer like the Pirates either.

But here comes what is most important: 
Many of us are really well off. Let us enjoy life and give a little bit of our strength and nourishment (and nursing) to the little plant “liberal democracy”! And the first step is probably to actually go and vote.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday July 5th, 2018

Fuckup! Nights! Munich!

Something new happens all the time. A few days ago, I discovered the FUCKUPNIGHTS. And I decided that I want to be part of it. 🙂 .

We Live Life Without Filters

That is the motto of this movement, which calls itself FUCKUPNIGHTS. It started in Mexico, from where it continued its triumphal procession into large parts of the world.

It is about failure. We also discussed this in June 2016 at the Berlin PM-Camp. Because failure is simply part of life. It might sometimes even be a source of success. Because there is a lot you can learn from failure. And you can not only benefit quite a lot from what you learned from your own failures. You can also share it with others. It can help those others to avoid failure (= to be a success).

The Techdivision– Marketing brought the Fuckup Night to Munich and Rosenheim. On July, 5th, (that is today), the FuckupNight will be held in the Munich Balanstrasse. And they were still looking for a speaker. Consequently, Sacha (the boss of Techdivision at Balanstrasse) asked me:

Hi Roland, would you like to present a personal fuckup example from your life in seven minutes and with a maximum of 10 slides?

Here is all the information on FUCKUPNIGHTS in Munich. Today, the event is already overbooked, as mostly happens with Techdivision events (you will find them all at meetup).

Well, I gladly obliged. However, it also meant that I needed to prepare. Consequently, I started thinking:

  • What were my greatest errors, my worst blows below the belt?
  • When did life really make me feel small?
  • What was it like when I felt I was an absolute failure?
  • What can you relate publicly without exposing other people?

There is also a FuckUpNichts Speaker Manual:

 


Speaker Manual: What exactly are FuckUp-Nights?

“FuckUp-Nights“ sounds offensive? Well, it is not! The FuckUpNights were initiated in order to publicly speak about projects, work and ideas that failed and to share these experiences in the community. In a relaxed atmosphere, precious experiences made by successful managers, enterprises and start-ups are discussed during these evenings in order to learn from the mistakes they made.

For seven minutes, three or four people tell you, for a change and with lots of wit, humour and openness, not about their great successes, but about how everything can go wrong – which means they had so-called fuck-ups.

How to present my FuckUp in seven minutes?

  1. Please send in advance 10 slides that illustrate your failure.. 
The images should be numbered from 1 to 10 and later appear in that sequence. Please remember that each image has only about 40 seconds, because otherwise you will need more than seven minutes.
  2. A short biography, because we need to introduce you on the day of the event (1-2 paragraphs).

During your presentation, you will want to remember the following:

  • Who am I?
  • What was the original idea for the project/business?
  • What went wrong?
  • What should I have done differently? What have I learned from the experience?

And please do not forget!!!
We are talking FuckUp-Nights! People make mistakes. All is well as long as you can tell them with enthusiasm, wit and humour. So enjoy your presentation! 🙂


 

I rather like that. So I gladly think about my personal fuck-ups. I am always hardest hit if a disappointment is personal, especially if people are concerned. They hurt – but I would not wish to publicly speak about them on a fuckup-night, because in doing so, I might not do justice to others or even hurt others.

Consequently, I will focus on my entrepreneurial failures. One of them was the great visionary idea of magicHIT. It cost the InterFace Connection a lot of money and eventually turned into a total failure from the economic viewpoint. It might be a good presentation, I will relate it tonight. And I will write down the story here. It starts with: I was a …


i) Third Generation IT-Pioneer (Computer Science after 1969) and

no longer all that young – but, considering the times, a rather young entrepreneur.

Years of training at Siemens and Softlab.
Focus on: industrial computer science (knowledge for the sake of domination).
Unfortunately, I paid too little attention to “the toys“ produced by Commodore and Atari.
Later, it turned out that this was a huge disadvantage.

 

 

 

 

ii) late founder with instant start (1984 – I was already 34 years old)

Here is a happy entrepreneur, because things worked out.

  • The start went well – Wolf (my partner, whom I had spent a long time looking for) and yours truly were in paradise. Especially when we had our first team and were able to develop a product.
  • In a nutshell, you have four relevant business/income model types in an enterprise:
  • Service, i.e. time and material,
  • the lot,
  • full service,
  • a product

Unix is our topic! And a product is the best of all disciplines. Consequently, our goal was:

We want to develop a product for Unix (because a product will give you identity and a scalable income).

We build CLOU/HIT!

 

 

 

iii) Innovation is creative destruction

Evening event BICCnight it at media / Foyer Funkhaus Bayern /Muenchen / 22.07.2011
Foto: Stephan Goerlich
Foto: Stephan Goerlich

Also Digitalization. Which means: no more filing cabinets, typewriters and telefax machines (all of which were still relevant communication tools at the time).
Data bases instead of paper. Documents will be automatically generated, the communication is via computer networks.

We start with the destruction of the old world.

 

iv) Life is a dream

Absolutely guaranteed: far from everyday problems – a few years ago in the South Sea.

Our product CLOU-HIT sells marvellously.
If your are the leader on the market in no time, this feels wonderful. Major customers (both public offices and enterprises) use our software at a huge scale. They fill our purses with money and give us prid

 

 

 

 

v) The competition does not sleep!

CLOU/HIT is a success. But the product is no longer the newest.

We know that. Regardless, we enjoy the success of our product. And we celebrate it. Parties are an important part of every enterprise.

Yet we know that innovation continues and that we need something new. Because if you sit on your laurels, you have them at the wrong part of your body.

 

 

 

 

 

vi) We start developing MagicHIT …

This is how Christian and Daniel see me(©
Visual-Braindump) – at least it is how they saw me on the last Dornbirn PM Camp in 2016.

… the first ODA-/ODIF-EDITOR (ODA/ODIF is ISO norm) world-wide, as a “wysiwyg“ system with the extremely powerful semantics on UNIX and X11).
Every document is an object of a category, its semantics are determined by the category (examples: invoice, contracts, official orders, …).
We port MagicHIT on Windows
A special team with ten employees works in a huge old flat Im Tal near the Munich Viktualienmarkt, where they have their special work environment.
After a few years, the first version of the product is finished. There is a wonderful manual.

 

vii) Many warnings!

Wake up! The bell rings!

Famous partners from huge enterprises and offices warn us:

“You must be suffering from brain-damage. You cannot win against MS?!“

We are idealists and ignore the warnings.

After all, there is (still) enough money.

 

 

 

viii) One customer is not enough!

CAREFUL – I know them.

After huge efforts in sales, we have found only one customer for the new MagicHIT – the German Armed Forces.

They want to turn their command posts into automated commands through MagicHIT.

Things start to get messy. The costs remain, but there is no success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ix) Game over

“My post – InterFace life ?“

All offices and huge concerns buy word and windows. It no longer makes any sense. We capitulate and give up. The development of MagicHit is terminated.

 

Maybe someone will need it many years from now.

🙁 And I must postpone my exit …

 

 

x) Fiasco and Happy End

We have to do the calculations. For almost ten years, ten or more of our best employees worked for nothing. Depending on how you do the calculations, that is an investment of between 10 and 20 million DM/EURO. For nothing!

But:

The know-how we gained in this way is extremely helpful. We learned a lot. That helps us to survive for the next ten years. Basically, it helped right up to this day.

 

 

xi) Lessons learned

Many thanks to Jan Fischbach, agility master and my photographer this time.

David will not always win against Goliath.
Wonders will not repeat themselves.
The product that is most beneficial will not always win.
Progress is slow.
More often than not, you cannot fight against power, corruption and fraud.

But still, it was nice!

RMD

P.S.
Basically, it was a three-times fuck-up. Because around ten years later, we again implemented MagicHIT for Siemens and the Bavarian Justice System – we called it ForumStar-Text for them.

Due to the ignorance of a partner, we later lost the bidding process that had already been practically won (second fuck-up). For similar reasons, we also lost the visionary project to – in cooperation with TUM – bring ForumStar to the Bavarian Justice System and Siemens AG as an Open Source. Even Siemens, represented by (chairman of the IT provider ), had already agreed. It might have been a great hour for Germany or even Europe.

Then Siemens AG cancelled the meeting between representatives of TUM, the Bavarian Justice System and us at short notice. They did not appear. Fuckup, von Hammerstein left the SBS a short time later and became an important reformer at Kabel Deutschland. You can admire the remainder of SBS at ATOS and the InterFace AG still does its business, now with IT compliance, CLOUD and still with software development (our motto is: ”long live devop!“). … And the Justice Systems in Bavaria and

Germany  public authorities concerning judiciary are now serviced by IBM. Such is life.

P.S.1
And many thanks to the great Lydia of Techdivision for all the huge support she gave me!

Roland Dürre
Saturday May 26th, 2018

The Good Children and the Evil Internet …

Selfie in Greece, antireflection coating in Greek and English.

There are about seven billion people living on this planet. Less than half of them have internet access. The majority do not have it. It seems to be clear that those people and nations that have internet access will become richer. And those that do not have access to the internet will become poorer. They already talk about the new poverty caused by the lack of digitalization.

Something similar is true for children. If children learn to handle the internet early, they will usually have better chances in their lives than if they are kept away from it.

In our country, children under the age of sixteen will need the formal consent of their parents if, for instance, they want to be part of social media. Among social media are: FB, Twitter, Instagram, MeetUp, LinkedIn and many other often very useful systems that change the world.

If I activate a usercode in Wikipedia, I will be member of a large social media system. Even in Wikipedia, there is a huge danger that it will swallow me whole. And there is a lot of mobbing going on, too  – I can really tell stories from personal experience.

Now let me ask the lawyers and all those wise legislators:

Will a thirteen-year-old genius who won “Jugend Forscht” need his father’s written consent in order to become a Wikipedia member?

And here is a question for you all:
Will a Mormon father (small religion with perhaps 20 million people) or an Islamic father (huge religion with about 2 billion believers, slightly behind Christendom but with a better trend) give his child said consent?
I am not sure. The mother will not be allowed to do it.

But let me switch from general considerations to my personal experiences and mental experiments.

As some of you know, we have seven children. I am sure that nothing in life taught me as many positive and important things as my children did. That includes my parents in the same way as my mentors and teachers, perhaps even Barbara. From whom I also learned a lot. As opposed to school, which you can forget about.

That was true for life in general and especially for digital life. And this is true regardless of me having been the IT professional (and pioneer) in our family who actually created some of it.

Today, if a grandchild of mine wishes to participate in facebook or twitter, then I will support him or her. I would give advice and ask if he/she likes it if I follow. And I would learn the new things he/she would bring me. The only way I would be worried would be if he/she chose a “private modus”. That would actually make me doubt if he/she has been socialized properly.

So here is a mental experiment:    
What would I do if he/she were to experiment in the “darknet”?    
Note: the darknet is an attempt at moving through the internet in absolute anonymity through wearing a mask. You hide your authenticity (what you really are) in order to move under an identity that cannot be tracked back!

Argh! That is exactly what the tax agency wanted to abolish, which is why Swiss numbered accounts were made illegal.…

For technological IT reasons, this goal is just as impossible to reach as absolute data security – even if it is supported with very archaic methods, it can basically not be guaranteed. If this were not so, the success of the cyberspace armies in the darknet would not be possible. All you need to know is how it has been programmed. And you need to be good and industrious. Perhaps a little more proficient than the enemy. But there are always ways.

My grandchild – if he/she has learned a little more in the internet – will soon contradict me and point towards blockchain technologies and bitcoin.

After all, in these scenarios, it is guaranteed (even at a high price) that, as soon as you choose your identity, you have a guaranteed part of a percentage of a totally virtual (and limited) number without having had to give your authenticity. Or rather: back-tracking is made impossible (which, incidentally, is only true for the one who actively and successfully does the “mining“).

A normal buyer will definitely have to identify himself or herself, again and again (at least until his/her bitcoins have become worthless).

So if my grandchild were to start moving in the darknet or trying bitcoin , I would probably get a little worried, but I would not ask them to terminate their experiments. In the case of the darknet, I would recommend the highest degree of caution, in the case of bitcoin, I would fear that they will probably go crazy. After all, I personally know quite a few people who believed in it and some of them ended really tragically (or, in the best case, they only went crazy).

Well, basically, I can also well imagine that children under sixteen might, strictly under the law, be allowed to generate some part of a bitcoin – even without the consent of their biological parents. After all, all they would have to do is find a clever way of joining a few asic systems –  don’t young people enjoy to experiment a little?

And if they successfully generate bitcoins, then they have them. Regardless of the fact that they do not actually own them. It is more like “possession they achieved through computer capacity and algorithms” – which, strangely enough, is a very small part of a virtual and limited range of numbers. Numbers some analysts believe in and some gamblers are prepared to pay money for. Just as it was a long time ago with tulips in Holland.

Because, as far as I know, the exciting question if bitcoin is virtual possession or virtual ownership has not yet been answered. At least the tulip bulbs were real – allegedly, you could even eat them when they no longer had any value.

Now this was heavy material. I know that even many of those who regularly talk and write about bitcoin and blockchain will not understand it. So, please, excuse my digression.

There are so many exciting – and also simpler – things happening in the internet that I could write about, and whenever there is an opportunity, I will probably do so. And over-emphasized topics such as “mobbing in facebook“ are certainly not the most important issues, even if some grown-ups like watching their occasional porno (which, of course, they will deny). Neither are Parship, Elite-Partner or Tinder the real problem. There are many far more exciting things happening – in many dimensions.

But now our children have to ask dad and mom if they want to test a new social media platform on the internet. Mind you, there are so many more important things the parents need to do, such as earning money and washing their first and second cars.

But currently, I am in Greek and the sun is shining – and, to me, those are more important things! So long.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday May 24th, 2018

Why the DSGVO is moving in the wrong direction.

Roland als Insel-Philosoph mit (sauberer) Wäsche in Sifnos (Kykladen, Griechenland).

A philosophical analysis.

My theory:

We have too much property and too little common land.

We strive too much after ownership and too little after shared social life and survival, experiences, …

Here are a few facts that support my theory:

  • 62 super rich people practically own half the world.
    (62 Superreiche besitzen so viel wie die halbe Welt)
  • Why is it a matter of course that humans (“natural persons”) can acquire (buy) soil and property to their hearts’ content?
  • Why is everyone allowed to own a car that causes considerable damage to the common good? Or a yacht? Why can huge social systems with an economic goal be completely owned by few people or other social systems?

Something is rotten with property. To be sure, I understand to some extent – and even wish for myself – that people, who in our legal system are called “natural persons”, can own property to a reasonable extent.

But why do “legal persons” like capital companies (GmbH, AG, Company Limited … – in French, they are called  “society anonyme“) have the same rights?
If a “natural person” dies, the problem of inheritance is added, which strengthens the polarisation of “poor and rich”.

“Legal Persons” will not die naturally. But they can become bankrupt. And what then? Even with our modern bankruptcy laws, the protection of those who are owed something has priority over saving the enterprise.

In addition, money will usually increase by itself. That makes property more and more powerful and power richer and richer.

Now let us look at the components of ownership.

Initially you own objects. As I see it, that is ok as long as we are not talking objects that should belong to the community and as long as the situation does not do any damage to the common good.

It gets harder when we are talking the ownership of rights. Is it really fair that someone who, with his team and in a fortunate communication system, developed a patent and therefore has a huge income over many decades, can buy any property he feels he wants in Munich City every year? That the authors of bestselling novels or soccer stars will be billionaires after a few years?

To be sure, I understand that the effort of an artist should be suitably paid for. But why is the right to mental property given in the same way to “legal persons” as to “natural persons”? Why does the music of Bob Marley or of the Beatles not belong to all the people of this world, rather than to a few concerns? The same is true for the dramas of Bert Brecht?

And now we also have ownership of data? Isn’t that totally grotesque? As I see it, we do not need data security but the obligation to be transparent! And that we should not try to protect ourselves against institutions that manipulate us. Instead, we should abolish them.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday April 22nd, 2018

Cultural Skills – How they Come and Go!

Here is another Sunday sermon. Mind you, I certainly do not wish to play priest or teacher.
But:
From the geo-chronological (geochronologisch) point of view,  we are now in the era of  Anthropocene (Anthropozän) and the world is facing an abyss. The reason for this is the species homo sapiens. And we pretend that there is no problem!


Even yesterday, what we did at the time was not ”right“ and not „good“. Today, it might be “extremely evil“ and tomorrow it will probably take us into the abyss. Consequently, we have to change matters drastically.

There is no “right” or “wrong”, no “good” or “evil”. There is only one fact: we currently destroy life on this planet at a speed that has been unimaginable in the history of the EARTH. We also have the option of trying to improve or at least preserve life in all its dimensions. 
Basically, the only question is what we want.


Roland – at an age at which stress started.

This is an appeal in favour of self-determined learning and the realization that “yesterday’s concepts” will not really help.

This article is a supplement to my last one, where I postulated that our school system denies children exactly those things that adults demand for themselves. Or to put it the other way: that we expect of our children exactly what we grown-ups do not want at all.

In this article, I state that children are forced by the “system” to learn things that, basically, they are not interested in learning about. Things that grown-ups, too, can no longer really do, or can do only rudimentarily. My idea is that we should give children the freedom to find out by themselves what they are interested in and what motivates them. What they are eager to learn.

Instead of forcing them into concepts defined by old prejudices, like that everyone has to be able to read, write and do arithmetic. That these allegedly undisputed truths, too, need (and have) to be questioned like many other self-evident certainties.


Digitalization and Cultural Skills?

Digitalization – as any technological progress – changes our way of life. Cultural skills are needed less and less – just like in former times survival techniques became redundant. In part, they already disappeared from the daily life of a “normal person”.

Everything changes and can be critically questioned!

I believe this also has to be true for the so-called “cultural skills” (like reading, writing, arithmetic and foreign languages,…). As I see it, the value of these skills is highly overrated.

After all, technology and social change also replaced “survival techniques”. We no longer force our children to learn “survival techniques”. Yet we believe that cultural skills are irreplaceable.

Let us look at former times?

In former times, people had survival techniques. They were important if you wanted to survive. Some of the skills were the knowledge how to hunt and how to skin an animal, how to make a fire and how to collect plants. Later, there were skills such as growing plants, slaughtering animals and preparing meals, as well as craftsmanship in the fields of woodwork, stone and clay. None of these things – perhaps with the exception of clay work in art lessons – are taught to children today.

Today, the cultural skills are trained. Perhaps the survival techniques were the cultural skills of earlier times? Today, institutions with their experts, along with machines, make sure that everybody survives!

Specialization, “machinization’” and digitalization were only possible due to cultural skills.

Without the written word, the skill to write and arithmetic, it would hardly have been possible. And since we had no machines for it, we had to do it ourselves.

This means that many “subjects” are no longer taught because you no longer need them. Regardless, most of the knowledge does not get lost. Quite apart from the circle of experts, there are many people who work towards qualifications as gardeners, do-it-yourselfers, cooks, etc. However, they were not taught these skills at school. Instead, they are self-taught. Perhaps some of them attended the occasional course. Simply because they enjoyed doing it or because they were motivated by financial or other reasons.

Where are crafts and household economies today?

When I was young, we still had some of the “old” survival techniques as official curriculum subjects. Of course, they were gender specific: boys learned what you need as a do-it-yourselfer and girls learned household economies.

Because a man should have some competence when it comes to woodwork and other materials. After all, he was going to be the one in the household who would do all the repair work. A woman was first and foremost responsible for housework – according to the prevailing values of the time, it was more important to be a good cook, cleaning lady, knitting expert and mender of socks than to have a scientific degree.

No specialization without cultural skills!

Society became more specialized, which meant they taught reading and writing at school because that was essentially necessary if you wanted progress. After all, the sources of knowledge were now no longer stories told by word of mouth but printed media such as books and later, thanks to movable letters, newspapers. Consequently, reading and arithmetic were absolutely necessary.

Can anybody still do calculations?

Doing calculations mentally or on paper, too, was taught in the new compulsory schools. It was huge progress – after all, as late as one century earlier, the only places in Germany where you could, for instance, learn to do multiplications, were very few selected universities. And even there, they taught it in a very strange way (with logarithmic tables).

And a few decades ago, we got another great change. Nobody needs to do any calculations any more, because now we have calculators. You can even do your calculations with your telephone – which is no longer a telephone. Who of you can still do precise sums on paper if you have long and multi-digit columns of numbers – as we spent hours doing them at school in “bookkeeping”? Who of you can still do multiplications on paper, or divide on paper or even approximate a root?

There are only very few people left who can actually do mental arithmetic. Who of you can still, in no time, calculate how much you will have to pay if you buy six bottles of wine for 2.69 € each along with 4 bars of chocolate for the special bargain price of 69 Cent each and three buns for 37 Cent each?

I remember that, in former times, this was quite normal procedure for me. Today, it is a real effort for me to do the above calculation correctly without any tool. Only people who are fascinated by this magic and, intrinsically motivated, taught themselves to do it and practice it regularly can still do it.

Does this still exist: Learning something by heart?

For me, lyrics were a drama, both in primary school and in grammar school. I found it extremely hard to learn these lines by heart. It was a cruel, almost impossible homework for me. And as soon as I had memorized the fifth stanza, I had forgotten the first four. If I started at the beginning, the end lines were gone… And if I was able to cite the entire poem in the evening, then it was all gone by the next morning. Consequently, I am glad that today, “Learning something by heart”, used to be an important cultural skill. Especially before the written word came around. The entire history of men was transported through “learning by heart”. Today, only actors need this skill. And among them, I know some who immensely enjoy memorizing verses.

How bad is illiteracy?

And we have another huge change. Digitalization makes reading and writing obsolete. The mass of humans no longer need to be able to read. Only the “elite” (some very few per cent of the population) need to have the skill.

Martin Luther is a good example: he nailed his written pamphlets  onto wooden doors and that was how he revolutionized the entire world – even though only very few people were able to read.

Something similar will probably happen with reading and writing skills. Who wants to read long texts if he can just as well have audio output in whatsapp? And if he can transport his emotions through his own voice (and through his mimicry and gestures in case of video) without using these terrible Emojis?

Who will want books or e-readers if there are talking books? Why would anybody read texts if you can just as easily have them read out to you at any time and in high quality?

IF-Blog as Podcast?

”Voice“ is something modern people do not feel disturbed by. After all, they run around wearing headphones all the time anyway. Because they need their hands and eyes for driving their cars and playing their computer games. Consequently, it is no surprise for me when, more and more often, people ask me if I would like to offer my IF Blog as Podcast blog.

Reading and writing are also skills that, so I assume, only some people will master in the future. Some will have rudimentary knowledge. Others will learn it intrinsically because they actually like doing it or because they still need it for special tasks, perhaps for programming

🙂 But then, programming is probably not a good example, because more and more often it is done in the clicky-clicky mode with graphic elements. And perhaps it will soon be done by artificial intelligence.

When I was a child, I had to learn stenography and typing (with ten fingers). My father considered it a necessary requirement if I wanted professional success as a white-collar worker. After all, we children of this generation were to have better lives than our parents.
In life, these skills were not really very useful. But when I was young, stenography (not typing) gave me lots of joy – it was a lot more convenient than writing in long style. Even today, I very much enjoy writing stenography. For me, it is some kind of calligraphy that I always draw just for my own pleasure. But then, what else did I learn at school? English and French!

Why would I still want to learn a foreign languages?

Why would I want to learn to speak French? I would like to understand the reports written by my Chinese, Dutch, Polish and Russian friends in facebook. I do not have many French friends these days.

After all, there are excellent translation programs and, in my experience, they work quite well. Yet they can be improved considerably through the progress we make with self-learning systems.

Incidentally, they are called “artificial intelligence” (AI), which is incorrect because the current implementation of AI is more like “experience generated with technology“. As I see it, it would be better if only those persons who actually enjoy it would be allowed to (have to) learn a foreign language. And I think that is what we will see in the future.

Because if I am in a foreign country and want to buy something at the local baker, I will just say it in the local language through my mobile phone.

And then there is the humanistic education?

Ancient Greek and Latin are “dead” languages. Currently, students are still forced to learn them at the “humanistic grammar schools” – provided you are unlucky enough as a child to be sent to such a grammar school by your humanistic parents.

Incidentally, I am sure that these languages will not die out if we abolish them from the curricula, because there will always be a few connoisseurs who will continue to speak them. And if someone wants to study medicine, then he can do his qualification in Latin in no time. Apropos ”humanistic” – as you all know, my favourite subject is religious education.

What business does religious education have at school?

It is still part of the curriculum and you also get grades! You can get a special exemption, but then you get leisure time in the morning and have to stay for ethics lessons in the afternoon as a punishment. That is how I experienced it with my sons and daughters, at least before the all-day school system came. How I enjoyed and made good use of the free afternoons when I was young! But back to religious education.

Many people will not dare to apply for an exemption as a matter of principle. If I force a child to attend certain lessons due to imagined or real social pressure, then this is forced learning. And this is how children are taught ideas (i.e. indoctrinated) that can actually leave psychological traumata.

For example because there are still some teachers of religious instruction who use the fear of the all-controlling and punishing God as a pedagogical means. I will not go on about paradise beyond or the virgins in heaven.

Perverse cultural skills!

Especially religious instructions are something that should only be taught if the person concerned really very actively wishes for it with all his heart. And if he attends the lessons voluntarily.

Incidentally, the same is true for circumcision, both male and female. Circumcision is probably the worst of all cultural techniques I can think of. At least in our country, we have to protect children from such damage. It cannot be counted as an argument in favour of legalization that circumcision has been and still is handed on as sacred religious tradition. That is another cruel form of misinterpreted humanism.

Circumcision is really something that needs to be abolished. Both for men and women. As I see it, it is a disgrace that it is still possible to do such an evil thing to new-born babies in Germany for religious reasons.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 30th, 2017

UNOFFICIAL TERROR WARNING!

Munich, December, 30th, 2018, 12:00 – Source: IF Blog

Urgent:

Unofficial terror warning, level 4, for all the citizens of the FRG, especially in big cities. 

A billion dollar deal!

Attention:
Tomorrow, a huge collective mass, not necessarily defined by religion, but certainly fanatic humans, will become victims of consumer terror. In almost exactly 36 hours, there will be a category 1 fine-dust attack on the environment (not only) in Germany.

The target of this collective terror will be the air we breathe, especially in big cities. Among these small terrorists, you will – not totally to my surprise – find many car drivers who add to the misery they spread all the year round by a big bang. They will shoot rackets into the night until the last one is spent.

This environmental catastrophe will continue until the early morning of January, 1st. It is triggered by masses of firecrackers. The alarm can only be turned off in the morning of January, 1st. The main attack against our health will last for about one hour. More sporadic explosions and emissions are still possible during the subsequent hours and days.

Especially elderly, handicapped and sick persons, along with children, are strongly advised to remain in their flats and keep the windows closed during the night between December, 31st, 2017 and January, 1st, 2018. All exercise in fresh air, such as hiking or riding a bike, are strictly forbidden.

Due to collateral events accompanying this eruption, the advice is also directed to all females (see additional sexism warning below).

The considerable noise is a collateral damage related to the terrorist attack but can be ignored. To be sure, if you listen, you might be reminded of war and bombs and thus suffer traumata. But basically, the only living creatures that really suffer are animals.

Since the rockets do not contain military pay-load and the explosive charges – let us hope all of them – have to be empty (experts call them castrated explosive charges), the physical and emotional damage, as well as the material destruction of objects and houses, will, luckily, be minimal.

But we have to give a massive warning because of the increased alcohol consumption of all the prosperity terrorists involved. Consequently, there is quite a chance that “anonymous situations” will be used for sexual assaults (from turning you on verbally over physical closeness to rape).

Women, therefore, should avoid locations where masses of people converge. This is especially true for railway stations and plazas near other traffic junctions.

If a woman really needs to leave her home around the critical time, then she should only do so wearing total body mummery and she should be accompanied by several strong men.

If you ignore this unofficial warning, you must take responsibility for possible consequences and cannot claim that “you did not know”!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
This article is only partially meant as a joke. Because fine dust at Sylvester (Feinstaub an Silvester) is not at all something I find funny. It is also interesting that the Bayerische Staatsministerium für Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz gives an “official” warning that exploding firecrackers can cause injuries.
However, this official source does not mention at all how essentially and massively the maniac fireworks create fine dust. But at least the Federal Ministry gives a statement. The church used to have a motto: “food instead of fireworks”.
But that, too, seems no longer en vogue?

You know, even as a child, I rather liked Rumplestiltskin! It was such an exciting thing to listen how the fairy was dancing in front of the fire in the dark wood – and how it sang “Lucky me that no one knows that my name is Rumplestiltskin”. In fact, it was so exciting that I really cannot find words to describe it…

Yes, and then, a few sentences later, when the fairy self-exploded in front of the princess later in the story – that was just great! What a consistency and courage – to just self-explode! I never forgot this impressive image!

But here comes the moment of truth! This unappetizing “Rumplestiltskin Affair”. I am sure you, too read about it in the media: it is about an affair between the European upper nobility and a German Mr. Müller!

The kings and the Müllers are said to have behaved quite evilly and a lot of money was allegedly involved!

European money – of course!

To be precise, said Müller – i.e. a certain ’Soy-Bean Müller’ – who has the world leader soy bean mail-order house in his backhand, is said to have tried to make gold out of straw together with an extremely respectable European dynasty!

Mind you, this was regardless of the fact that he, Müller, does not even own straw. He only owns ’soy bean cake’. That is basically just the waste from soy flour production – but no straw!

However, for straw, the European Commission would have granted considerable subsidies from its agrarian fond. But not for cake, i.e. ’soy cake’!

Naturally, this was not good news for the soy flour mail-order house and its stock. In fact, it was actually a catastrophe. After all, stock, too, is just human, i.e. there are persons hidden behind the stock.

Persons with all their strengths and weaknesses. Just like with Müller’s small daughter Annegret who had always had a certain weakness for everything that smelled of royalty.

That is especially true for last year’s ’Vienna Opera Ball’, where she danced left-waltz with an extremely sweet young king. Left-waltz until she was dizzy and sank into the blue-blooded arms of the young king.

Due to the low stock-exchange rate, those same arms need much persuasion before they led her to the marriage altar. It did not come as a surprise that not only the love of these two doves immediately grew, but also the stock exchange rate of the ’soy flour mail-order house’. Did they grow, or what?

Consequently, it took only a few days until this activity caused a grumbling in the world of the financially potent oligarchs and a so-called ’Rumplestiltzkin ’ appeared. Nobody knew who it was and where it came from and what its name really was.

But being an industrious person, said ’Rumplestiltzkin’ had no problem getting the delegates of Romania, Bulgaria and of the newly wed kingdom to vote in her favour at the European Commission. Consequently, a majority supported the concept that ’soy-cakes’ are to be declared straw in the future and thus they are gold-coated with EU money!

It is unbelievable what Rumplestiltzkin can do and it is certainly a good thing that nobody knows its real name…

The news that the Austrian rum producer ’Straw’, too, allegedly was part of the deal in that he is said to have delivered a considerable amount of 85% ’Straw-Rum’ to the president of the European Council Junker and thus also acted in the role of Rumplestiltzkin is only one of those fake news from Russia. After all, we all know that Russia constantly aims at destabilizing the European Union!

Which, under Putin, does not come as a surprise to anybody!

The same applies to the news that the newly married ’soy flour queen’ was now allegedly impregnated by this suddenly appearing Rumplestiltzkin – rather than by the European High Nobility?

What additional shameless defamation! Those lousy Russian hackers were not even kind enough to give credit to her handsome Pilates coach in their disinformation campaign against the young queen. It is truly something that could give you offspring!

Which is exactly what happened.

But this evil pregnancy defamation is at least a good explanation for Rumplestiltzkin by all means wanting to get hold of the new-born child of the young queen, isn’t it? Of course, it is because it does not want a paternity test, and it was not at all eager to pay alimony for an entire Rumplestiltzkin life on top of having acted extremely beneficial. This is absolutely clear!

The queen was in a similar situation: she wanted to keep her new-born child without proof of paternity. And she did not hesitate to rub Rumplestiltzkin’s nose into what she wanted via twitter, along with 10 million followers!

Maybe she should not have done that. Being nobility and all! Twittering all the time! Because the Russian secret service read it all and then threatened the allegedly Russian Rumplestiltzkin with filing suit before the European Court of Law for prince robbery …

What is not really believable – and for me personally, this is rather a disappointment – is that this unknown Rumplestiltzkin is said to have angrily self-exploded afterwards. Just like the one in the fairy tale!

And they say it happened right before the blue eyes of the soy-floury queen who did not want to let go of her child. Isn’t it awful? Just self-exploding and ending up in two parts. From top to bottom. Atrocious!

After all, today, after 300 years of cultural evolution, you can do the job far more elegantly by tying an explosive from the internet to your belt!
Such a method would also have been far more media-friendly!

And we all would have certainly been able to download the atrocious event in no time through our smartphones from some video supervision camera or other immediately after Rumplestiltzkin’s self-explosion. In other words: we would all have been there – in fact, all Europe would have been there!

Thee usual stereotypical condemnation of the deed by all the politicians, too, would have been noticed by far more citizens – than this silent, ego-maniac ’Rumplestiltzkin self-exploding’!

Even the IS did not find it worthy of claiming responsibility!

It really is a pity! What a pity that Rumplestiltzkin failed so miserably! Everybody would have benefited from a proper explosion? I mean You, You and You! All of Us! Europe would have been truly united by such an explosion! At long last, what belongs together would have come together. What a pity …

KH
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Thursday October 19th, 2017

(Deutsch) Hell’s Angels

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday June 1st, 2017

An Outrageous Summing-Up!

He had promised himself that this was going to happen: when he, ’Colonel ’ Vatter – two “t-s”, please – would turn seventy, and if by then he would still be clear-headed, – then he would write a summing-up of his life in front of the entire family clan Vatter, especially in front of his wife Cornelia, his daughter Conny and his son Corni! And since, even in early childhood, he had been given the nickname ’Colonel’, the ’ruthless summing-up of his life’ was a foregone conclusion.

Or rather, it was ’some kind of summing-up’! Just like you also have double accounting!

Basically, it was a dry listing of ’positive’ and ’negative’ assets, including a subsequent ’balancing’, just like on a scale, that was now determined!

Without qualms and totally self-critical, he was going to list under ’positive assets’ everything that he had managed to accomplish in his life and how he had left all losers behind. And, naturally, under ’negative assets’, he was going to list everything that others had failed to accomplish! He was going to list their failures in the most precise and unbiased way, just like all diligent book-keepers traditionally knew that was their duty!

Basically, in his opinion, every upright man should make such a list when he nears the end of his life in a neutral and humble way! A balance sheet of life where you focus as clear as glass and judge your success and other people’s failures.

Even your own family could not be left out of such a balance sheet, provided you wanted to include them.

But then, everything had to be dug up and put on the table. Even if you only had the dining room table – because no other table was big enough. Naturally, this was a nightmare for his much-loved Cornelia: because said dining table was overflowing with stone-hard breakfast eggs, tough steaks, burnt schnitzels, half-cooked chicken legs, mushy beans, hard milk-rice and many, many more ’delicacies’ from her kitchen!

But then, after a short hysterical spell of screaming, she would certainly have calmed down and understood that such a balancing only made sense if it was carried out with the highest possible degree of honesty.

And if on this ’dinner table of life achievements’ space would have become really scarce – since perhaps Conny and Corni, too, would have bashfully added their ’failure packets’ – then he, the ’Colonel’ would certainly have been quite willing to place his ’palette of successes’ underneath the table. After all, there was plenty of space and Conny and Corni would have had an ideal opportunity to learn in a very pedagogic way how the German proverb ’modesty is a virtue’ can be both strikingly demonstrated and lived in practice! And they would have experienced themselves what our Federal Chancellor had recently said when she had talked about ’our values giving us a sense of feeling at home’…

Initially, he had actually believed that this kind of ’life balance sheet’ might well also have been written as an ’interim balance’ focussing on special phases in life. For instance, even as early as on his fiftieth birthday, such a balance could have been written – especially if you looked at his unparalleled career!

But unfortunately, at the time, his well-loved Cornelia had run amok and had, out of the blue, demanded a divorce. Just because, again, she had made an elephant out of a mosquito, this time named Marianne! Mind you, it had been Cornelia herself who had introduced this Marianne to the family. Against the wishes of the ’Colonel ’!

My God, how she had idolized the much younger Marianne! The two were inseparable! And every shopping tour with her had been celebrated like a glimpse of paradise. Cornelia could and would simply not see that the golden Marianne was bringing nothing but discord into the harmonious Vatter family.

Actually, at the time, he, the ’Colonel ’ himself, had to get active and show her once and for all where the limits were that she could not trespass. However, she needed to be shown those limits all the time. It had been really bad – there were days when – hard to believe though it might be – she needed three limits in a row!

Eventually, the ’Colonel ’ had been more than happy when Cornelia finally saw that this Marianne person had to leave. And instantly! However, the idea Cornelia – in some sort of somnambulant shock – had come up with that they needed a divorce, was quite over the top and called for medical treatment. Of course, the ’Colonel’ was more than considerate and thus, to make matters bearable for her, refrained from the aforementioned first ’interim life balance report’ when he turned fifty: After all, among the ’negative assets’, one would have had to write Cornelia’s less than beautiful desire to get a divorce, while, at the time, he would have had to write his advance into the concern management among the ’positive assets’. That would have been the only way for such a documentation to make sense, rather than just becoming a stale re-interpretation of the truth.

But, naturally, he did not want to thus punish Cornelia! She was desperate enough as it was!

The children, too, had been against the idea. Well, they hardly had anything noteworthy to report under ’positive assets’, which would have meant he alone would have appeared there …

No – it had really been quite a good idea at the time from which all parties concerned benefited to refrain from this first ’partial life balancing’. After all, for him, a ’Colonel’ such an omission was definitely bearable!

Following the logic at the time, another chance for an ’interim balancing’ would have been when he had turned sixty! In fact, he had been quite prepared to do so and had already collected and listed loads of material. But then this excruciating data theft became fashionable, where illegally gained information about diverse Swiss accounts had been offered to the German finance system. Since ancient times, the entire world had parked their dirty money on these accounts. And suddenly, everybody who owned perhaps a million or two more was called a tax fraud – and worse!

Naturally, the ’Colonel ’ had to be the shining model for his children Conny and Corni and, by being one of the first who reported himself to the authorities, demonstrate to them that tax fraud was just something you did not do! And that, if your slate was clean, you never had to be afraid that the legal authorities who suddenly started to move all over the place might come after you.

However, when suddenly, one week before his birthday, the finance authority officers had invited themselves for a kind of ’pre-birthday-party’, his much-loved Cornelia opined that, this one time, it was probably a good idea to limit the celebration to the immediate family. Since her nerves were already very tightly strung, the ’Colonel’, naturally, agreed without hesitation. When expressing his gratitude in a few words, he refrained from even the slightest hint at a ’life balancing’. With his tendency towards honesty and unadorned truth, such behaviour would only have stirred up unwelcome dust from his environment. Not to mention the immense problems that the very fragile health of his extremely old mother and his even older father would have caused. Neither of them had long survived the subsequent debacle of the European Financial World – they had each lost too much money …

But now, on his seventieth birthday – the ’life balancing’ was finally going to happen!

At least a short version thereof!

All that would have been inconvenient had now more or less been omitted or made itself obsolete: for instance Cornelia, who, five years ago, had separated from her ’Colonel’ and was now living in Belgium with a musician. Allegedly, Conny was doing well with her family in the USA and Corni was in an important bank director in England.

Well, the problem was actually that now, although nobody was in his way, there was also nobody he could have told about his grandiose successes. Except the two drunken nephews and the cross-eyed cousin he had not talked to in thirty years! And, of course, Marianne, with whom he had now lived for six years, because she had never given up her habit of breaking down all obstacles that blocked her path!

Marianne, however, although she was a wonderfully attractive lady, had not the slightest bit of understanding for his, as she called it, almost ’sickly chronic self-indulgence’: on the contrary, she herself wanted to be admired! And all those silly memories from the past were things she certainly could not have cared less about!
But if he, the ’Colonel’ felt that he needed to give a life balancing, then why did he not himself write down his great life achievement. Quasi as a last will for the entire Vatter family. And now he also had time, didn’t he?

With these words, she pressed a brand-new, lockable, leather-bound note book into the hands of her ’Colonel ’ – hands that were overflowing with age spots. She added a quick kiss on the dried-up wrinkles of a forehead that already reached to the nape of his neck.

If, however, this was too much of an effort for him, whispered Marianne, then he could feel free to tell his entire life balancing story to Inge the cleaning lady who, as always, was going to care well for him: since she turned off her hearing aid most of the time anyway, it was a good idea to tell her about his great life on a daily basis –and in the process, he could include all his small, big and even bigger indecencies in detail! Wasn’t this a great way to spend the day for a man in his prime! And – without catching air – she happily told him that now, in a real hurry, she had to be on her way to the airport, since she was flying to the Algarve with their daughter Carola to play golf! Even from the already open door, she managed to send an entire salve of the hottest kisses towards her ’Colonel ’ …

KH
(Translated by EG)