Roland DürreTuesday April 30th, 2013
On systems and their agents, epikie and civil courage
Now they are probably again going to postpone the trial in Munich. I am sure that this is quite awful for many persons, because it is all about a particularly unfortunate chapter of our national history. After the trial, said chapter will probably turn out to be even “more unfortunate”.
However, the NSU trial is also a good example for another negative development in our society. Our social systems get both a life of their own and de-personalized. The employees become more and more system agents and remote from reality. They ignore what our society actually needs and subordinate themselves to some super regulation, questionable rules and their own paranoia when having to make decisions.
For instance, from the outset, they decided to choose a trial chamber that is too small “for reasons of safety”. But what stage have we reached if we cannot even guarantee safety in our trial chambers? Can we really permit the rightist scene to restrict our freedom of decision to such an extent?
At this juncture, I just have to hint at our Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution: maybe they should focus more on the safety of our judicial institutions, rather than doing one disservice after another to our democracy by probably illegal and totally controversial activities of their dubious v-men.
And since we are all afraid the verdict might not hold in the appeal stage, the law is interpreted in such a way that it no longer has anything to do with what our society actually needs. Of course, it was totally out of the question that, for instance, the Turkish Press representatives were not admitted as observers of the trial. Just as it is out of the question that now a newspaper like the FAZ – with its many readers – is allegedly to be excluded from trial report status.
Processes and rules obviously were often given priority over common sense. Unfortunately, they interpreted the actual wording of the law in a most restrictive way, ignoring what had actually been the purpose of the law. Instead of looking for solutions that would make sense and have a chance of survival, they bowed like slaves before what was allegedly inevitable.
In our system, epikie (Epikie), an important even if hardly known virtue, is too often forgotten. In a nutshell, epikie means you should “hold up the laws of a nation in such a way as a sensible legislative body would have meant and wished for them to be held up”. If you want to practice epikie, you often need another primary virtue, namely civil courage (Zivilcourage), also known as moral courage. Those are the virtues we need, along with common sense. Both should be applied, based on socially accepted values.
And I am afraid there are sectors of our society where these virtues, as well as a healthy and value-based common sense, dwindle more and more. But that is not a problem, because there are still humans around who actually practice all these things and have an influence. Consequently, when all is said and done, I am quite optimistic.
My readers, however, are welcome to speculate which circles I am talking about …
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreSunday March 24th, 2013
I like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and many more …
I constantly hear sentences like…
“… all those Facebook and twitter affairs are evil … personally, I absolutely boycott social media … virtual friendships are rubbish, because you have to see each other face-to-face, anyway… and worst of all is, after all, this stupid: I like!”
… from persons who are otherwise basically to be taken quite seriously. I mean people who climb into their cars and drive off at high speed or go back to watching TV – which means they actually use technology that used to be quite modern and relevant.
I prefer to keep quiet on hearing their comments. After all, I know that any and all of my attempts at explaining things (social media) to them is totally useless. There is nothing you can ever do about dogmatic know-all manners, especially if those know-alls do not even know what they are talking about and consequently cannot understand it. This is actually true in general.
In the last ifcamp (barcamp at InterFace) on our BlueFriday (of March, 22nd, 2013), I introduced one “knowledge management” session. It was about how we can set knowledge free and then share it. In order to then evaluate it together and identify what is relevant. With the goal of finding the right and probably better decisions for the future from the “crowd”.
In the course of our discussion, the Facebook phrase “I like” also came up. And we concluded that this is probably a first and extremely simple tool for social feedback. You can use it if you want to show people that you like something. Or that you appreciate them. Or that you simply are sympathetic. …
During the session, we came to the mutual conclusion that there is a need for a refined and neutral “feedback technology” for applications intent on using the crowd and the good social web. For these systems, this would be an absolute necessity. Without this technology, these kinds of projects cannot succeed.
We spontaneously found ways to improve on “I like”. Here are some examples.
- Give a limited number of “I like”-s to each participant;
- Assign a certain amount of them each month;
- The participants get dynamically more “feedback units” as the social relevance increases, perhaps similar to klout;
- Or maybe there could be something like a “Page-Rank” for members of a social system;
- It might also be a good idea to introduce “feedback units” with different weightiness…
In a nutshell: I believe the “feedback technology” is a very important and central component of all kinds of crowd and social web applications. But this is not at all a trivial topic; it is well worth dealing with in great detail. I am sure there is also a considerable number of scientific works with good ideas which one might be well advised to take a closer look at.
Here is an example from another field that surprised me:
I like writing in stenography. So I had this idea that the technology of “writing quickly and ergonomically (instead of tense) by hand” – which has been developed and perfected over hundreds of years – could be used for text processing on tablets or with gesture-controlled systems. And then there was a friend of mine who works among the Academia who found it a wonderful bachelor theses topic, so it was very thoroughly analysed.
So – let us get under way;
Let Us Share Knowledge – and Use It!
(Translated by EG)
This article does not suggest that I find everything Facebook or Twitter does agreeable. If, for instance, I will notice certain tendencies towards tampering with “social metrics” at Facebook, you will have seen the last of me there sooner than you might have imagined. But such a turn of events at FB will not change my opinion that social networks and shared knowledge applications mean social progress. In fact, it would be one more reason to rekindle the old philosophical and ethical discussion: how can we get to a stage where the production of articles and services will be done decently? After all is said and done, this will again end up in a discussion about privatization or the social responsibility of those who own all the production goods.
Roland DürreTuesday February 12th, 2013
I “pilfered” the title from Prof. Dr. Axel Börsch-Supan (Director of the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging MEA) at Max-Planck-Institute for Social Justice and Social Politics. He gave a strong presentation with the same title at the event “How to Guarantee Experience for Future Generations (Erfahrung für die Zukunft sichern)” at TUM for the „Project TUM Emeriti of Excellence“ .
I already wrote about this presentation in my article: “A rolling stone gathers no moss (Wer rastet, der rostet)”. For me, the event brought many new, well-researched items of information. Professor Börsch-Supan proved in a constructive way that the early retirement habits of our contemporary times are wrong. He also told us that this is detrimental for all parties concerned: the retirees, the enterprises acting in this manner and all of us.
A short time ago, I met a friend whom I hold in very high esteem. He is the same age as I am. A few months ago, he entered the “early retirement” phase. And he is a good proof of all I learned in the presentation. Here is how I often see pre-retirement:
It is almost complex (very complicated) and serves many critical themes. If you know this, you also know how expert know-how is extremely important in this sector.
A friend of mine is a top expert when it comes to a very relevant database technology. He is particularly adept with extreme volumes and demand situations. In all Europe, there are probably only a few experts who can hold a torch to him.
My friend is the same age as I am. His employer is a first-class concern. A few years ago, this concern offered a lavish early retirement package to its older employees, practically following the principle “handing out to all and sundry”. My friend, too, took the bait.
A few years later, the day has arrived. My friend is now retired. Mind you, he is still as much of a first-class expert as he used to be. Financially spoken, he made a good deal.
However, he also realized that his knowledge will be missed by the enterprise. Consequently, he tries to hand it on to his colleagues in a pro-active way. He offers to teach workshops on a voluntary basis, even after office hours. Because, due to all the pressure during office hours, there is simply no time left. This concept, however, does not work well. He is rather disappointed to see that there is not much interest and that hardly anybody wants to come and learn from him.
Then the day of retirement comes. And now you have nothing but losers:
Some very important know-how is lost. If, for example, in the future, a process comes to a standstill because the IT does not work as it should, it might well be because something is not as it used to be. Because the know-how is now lost and consequently there are a few things that will no longer run as smoothly as they did before.
Initially, he found early retirement absolutely thrilling. The new “freedom” was just wonderful. There were still a number of activities left from the time as an active member of the work-force. Good intentions were formulated – and adhered to. A few months later, everything already looks different. Less social contacts, the good intensions, too, are no longer quite as strictly put into practice … And slowly frustration comes. I witness it quite closely.
This friend does actually exist. However, it is not one friend. Everything I understood from the presentation seems to match reality.
When all is said and done, everything the speaker told us and warned us against actually happens in real life:
Use it – or – lose it.
Well, let us wait and see if I can learn something from this for my future.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreSaturday February 9th, 2013
Some friends of mine organise a conference or a workshop. I am part of the team. Here is a first outline of what the conference will be about. It was written by Marc Borner (mb). We have not yet decided on a title and date.
Since the content nicely supplements one of my recent articles (Work has not been created for humans – Nicht der Mensch ist für die Arbeit da …), I would like to publish the following text by Marc:
Since the 19th century, Homo Oeconomicus has been the dominating concept of our business life. It views the individual person as part of a total mechanism that is supposed to function and can be optimized and analysed mechanically. The individual person becomes an “homme machine”, represented by a number. The belief that those numbers can then be controlled in volatile work surroundings is based on exactly this short-sighted image of business players.
This approach totally ignores who actually initially did all the work. To be sure, every individual person is also part of a company, but besides being a mere means to an end, he is always also the reason why the company exists. If this idea is forgotten, the consequence will not only suffer massive economical loss, but also a progressive alienation felt by the individual participants in a business process, which will cause damage to the emotional capital.
More recent scientific work, especially in the fields of psychology and neuroscience, proves that the aforementioned assumptions are correct. They also show a way out, pointing towards non-reduced work conditions characterized by participation, trust and responsibility. In this manner, you can create a fear-free, transparent area where clarity prevails and individual persons work together at eye-level, instead of against each other.
Generating these kinds of work conditions that meet the needs of the individual persons a lot better will stimulate a homeostasis between enterprises, entrepreneurs, managers, employees and laborers. It will create a new concept of leadership and make an enterprise not only more successful, but also take it back to where it originated: as an institution serving the general well-being.
The workshop will explicitly deal with this topic and try to both enlighten us on the current scientific state of the art and build the bridge to practical applications.
I rather like this text. We were already successful in finding eminent speakers for the event. Now I am interested in finding out how you feel about the text and/or if, for example, you would be interested in the topic and probably attend this kind of workshop.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreThursday January 31st, 2013
I am sitting in my office. The spring sun is pouring in and the window is open. A copy of the Motorwelt magazine found its way to my desk.
Here is some information for all those nerds who do not know it: the ADAC is Germany’s most important association. It is the car drivers’ association. With 18 million members, it is the second biggest automobile club of the world (after the US’s AAA). The “Moborwelt” is the monthly tabloid and central organ of the ADAC.
Formerly, the ADAC was mainly the lobbyist of the “car-drivers’ community”. Today, the ADAC is an organisation that mainly tries to get hold of their members’ best: the money. One of the means to this end is the “Motorwelt”. Through numerous adverts, it tries to seduce the ADAC members (and others) into buying marge-strong “special bargains” (often from highly profitable ADAC subsidiary enterprises).
The focal topic of the current edition (No. 2, February 2013) is “TRAFFIC JAMS”. It demands massive investments for extending the road system.
Here are a few citations from the magazine:
“Germany needs an all-enveloping street modernization program.”
As early as the title page, we are informed that:
“Nothing but TRAFFIC JAMS – 595,000 kilometres of cars standing in line – chaos on German streets.”
On page 20, I read:
“Et an average, every German citizen spends eight work days each year sitting in a traffic jam”.
And a little later:
“Citizens and the economy suffer from street conditions getting worse and worse. The politicians witness the strong increase in traffic but do nothing about it.”
For me, this is again something that stuns me. Because I believe we in Germany have more serious problems than the condition of our streets (education, demographic data, society, climate, …). In my opinion, the chaos is not caused by the standstill, but by all this mobility. To me, it seems that not only the German car drivers, but also the citizen “with foreign roots” is stuck. I am in favour of a soft but constant reduction and de-emotionalisation of individual traffic.
And speaking of myself, I am glad to no longer belong to the species “German car driver”. After all, I won eight work days, didn’t I? And when I also take into consideration how many hours the ”German car driver“ spends not sitting in the traffic jam and instead having to work behind the steering wheel, I feel truly happy. Some way or other, I seem to save a lot of time and energy. And then I can use some of what I saved for writing an IF blog article.
(Translated by EG)
Klaus HnilicaThursday January 24th, 2013
Carl and Gerlinde (XXIX)
Each day, it got clearer for Carl that there was no way out of the “thunderstorm that cleans the air“ in the form of an argument with Gerlinde. Otherwise, he was in danger of being driven to insanity by her shopping mania.…
For several weeks, no day had passed without Gerlinde persistently telling him that, again, some absolutely sweet, light-blue little pullover with beautifully open-worked raglan seams had shrunken so much without her having done anything that there was definitely no option but to throw it away: regardless of the fact that she had only worn the beastly thing three times and only hand-washed it in lukewarm water twice – could you imagine!
And then what about the annoyance with these stupid apricot-coloured cardigans you could not find in any of her usual boutiques, except at abominable C&A! And there – typically! – you only could get them in sizes fit for pregnant walruses and sumo-ringers, but not for normal humans. Let alone for her after her eight weeks of New York Diet and minus six kilograms, who now urgently needed all kinds of new clothes; including underwear – of course from Carl’s spring collection!
Or else she would grumble at the breakfast table, even before her first sip of coffee or bite of bread, about totally uncool Wedge Sneakers from Goethestrasse she had bought for a celestial bargain price. Due to the new padding she had to wear, these same sneakers caused her feet such pain that the only thing left for her to do with them was give them to the OXFAM people. Her only consolation was that those torture sneakers had not gone well with the new, exquisite, black Zoé Lu bag she had discovered in a tiny boutique after weeks of search, anyway.
But other than this exceptional lucky strike, so she lamented without ever pausing to catch her breath, the last few weeks had been so lousy for her that you really could no longer file it under ’the usual hard luck’! No – no matter how Carl tried to soften the blows, there was definitely more to it. After all, it was not just her impossible clothes where she kept being out of luck, she eagerly said while chewing: all Carl had to do was remember those insane, black, Moroccan olives from the market a short time ago. There had been such a huge discount on them that she absolutely had to buy four pounds, because everything else would have been the height of stupidity. But as so often, our dear Mister Carl had not liked their taste – and consequently they were thrown into the biological waste still wrapped in their original packaging!
Or the twelve bottles of Spanish red wine from Freixenet she bought at the bargain price of four euros and ninety-nine cents because she had intended to surprise him. They had immediately ended up in the sewers!
These days, this was always the typical chain of events whenever she wanted to do something nice for him, Gerlinde pouted – and then she disappeared among coughing and sneezing into her freshly prepared anti-chill bath, which almost had overflown, as well. …
“Just relax!“ Carl shouted after her. But then he was truly glad that she had left, because he simply could no longer put up with this wretched nonsense. Mind you, he certainly was patience and endurance personified. How often had he tried, during endless and grueling discussions, to discourage Gerlinde from this unspeakable hunt for bargains and rags. He had advised her to buy purposefully, moderately and without hurry, and told her it did not matter if it cost a little more! Above all, he had told her to always follow an exact plan when shopping and only buy what she had intended to buy! Wasn’t that a simple rule everybody could understand and stick by? Even she as a woman?
But today, Gerlinde was incapacitated by this admittedly evil cold. So here was his chance that, at least for one day, there would be no shopping chaos in his household! Due to this one-time chance, he was even prepared to go to the supermarket and quickly – before office hours – get the few things Gerlinde had written down:
1 LOAF OF WHITE BREAD – 4 LEMONS – 4 TINS OF SARDINES – 2 packages of BUTTER – 1 kilogram of LENTILS …
That was all!
It would be best to buy the white bread as he passed the bread counter when leaving, that much he knew although he definitely did not know his way very well in this allegedly so great supermarket, where he always had to spend endless time searching.
But maybe this was why they always did this product re-arranging. Besides, he had read that, in all the supermarkets of the world, the customers were encouraged to walk counter-clockwise, because significant studies had revealed that sales were higher than if customers went through the rows clockwise.
But now, with all this running counter-clockwise, he first had to find the lemons – he was sure they must be with the fruit!
Gerlinde often lamented that there was far from enough fruit – and when she arrived it was often already sold out!
Today, there were heaps of gorgeous mangoes on the tables, also two brands of sweet melons and beautiful papayas – they were not precisely cheap, but huge – delicious-looking pineapples – at a bargain price – and heavenly, yellow kiwis. She liked kiwis, didn’t she? So what could be wrong with him taking advantage of this unique opportunity and really stock up? He was sure Gerlinde would be enthusiastic…
But where to find those damned sardines? As far as he remembered, that was next on the list. Or where to find someone you could ask? Today, the supermarkets no longer seemed to employ those people! They were hiding, because they themselves did not know where to find things; after all, the products were now put into the shelves by cheap leased labor.
In his misery, Carl simply asked the small, corpulent saleslady behind the fish counter where he could find the sardines! And since she was so friendly with the information she provided, he also bought from her a good portion of seafood salad and two delicious portions of smoked trout she assured him more than once had only just arrived.
But before he actually reached the alleged proximity of the desired sardines, there were a few tests he had to pass – like in a fairy tale: countless long and high shelves filled with inlaid herrings in hundreds of different jars and tins. He got the impression you could get twenty different kinds or marinade and more! In fact, you could even get them in tomato juice, which was something Gerlinde had asked him to get a hundred times already. Consequently, he boldly put no less than five tins of them into his trolley, topping them with eight different glasses of mussels, before starting to look for the butter…
Who but his impossible, stubborn solar-inspired neighbor Konrad and his frozen Luise were standing before the butter shelf! And were they not just at the moment trying to find what they wanted among all the two hundred different butter brands? Just like he was going to?
There was nothing to it but escape!
At dawn, the Konrad family was definitely not something you wanted to cope with. Not even Gerlinde could expect this kind of sacrifice of him! As fast as lightning, Carl turned left towards the red wine and instinctively grabbed a bottle of Amarone for 36 euros.
But unfortunately, he was too late!
“If that isn’t our dear neighbor stocking up his wine depot after the holidays“, he heard someone say behind his back. Carl turned around, pretended to be surprised at seeing them and said: “Oh my God – it is the Konrad family! Are you, too, out shopping?“
“What does it look like to you, Mr. Neighbor?“, a smiling solar Konrad yelled over the distance of five rows of shelves.
“Aren’t you in a good mood so early in the morning?“, Carl’s attempt at humor was a little forced. Still, he asked Mr. Konrad if he, too, liked Amarone.
“My husband only drinks German wines“, wrinkled Luise interrupted them, “with those, at least you know what is inside“.
“That is true“, Carl nodded thoughtfully, “but if you stick to the high-priced wines in here, you will also never go wrong …“
“Well, we certainly cannot afford to buy one bottle of wine for forty euros“, Mr. Konrad grumpily replied.
“So what do you drink?“
“You know, in the Palatine, you can get quite a good vintage for next to nothing if you buy directly from the winegrower?
“Is that so?“, Carl said while adding eight more bottles of Amarone with a feeling of satisfaction he seldom experienced. Meanwhile, the Konrad couple shook their heads and went their way.
But Carl really got fed up when, back at home, Gerlinde – in cross-examination style – asked no less than five times about the stupid lemons and sardines. Not to forget the eight times she asked about the shitty butter and lentils. Did she imagine there were no other problems in the world?
Typically female: never look beyond your own plate. After all, there might actually be more to see than these narrow-minded household peanuts.
The great fruit he had bought was not even ignored!
And when he dared to politely mention it, Gerlinde only retorted she did not know what to do with this amount of products? Was he supposed to get a bigger refrigerator immediately now, as well, or what on earth did she expect? Unbelievable what women imagined …
If that was all the gratitude he got for voluntarily doing Gerlinde’s household chores, then thank you very much – he was not going to do it again!
The same was true for such wisecracks as “I do not remember having written Amarone onto the shopping list”. Consequently, Gerlinde was never ever going to hear about the eight beautiful bottles of Amarone that were still sitting in his car: except if she was prepared to join him when he indulged in all the eight little bottles…
Klaus HnilicaThursday January 10th, 2013
No, she is not really crying, it is more like a tiny, voiceless whimpering. The only reason tears were still streaming out of her swollen eyes was that her small, rounded body dressed in the bloodied, white kitchen apron was permanently shaken by an invisible power which immediately pressed even the smallest tear appearing behind her lids out of her eyes.
And although Pauline had been cowering in front of her grey metal locker in the windowless dressing room for kitchen help all the time, she was not able to take off this abominably dirty kitchen apron or to wash the sticky tomato paste off her face.
Mind you, the Lower Austria State Government’s canteen kitchen had been tidied and made ready for tomorrow a long time ago. All her colleagues had left hours ago and she was sure nobody was left in the building except the security people.
But she – only sat there whimpering, wiping her eyes and staring into space.…
She was terrified of the way home! On the other hand, she refused all help: she had said she could do it, although she had known well enough that she would have to walk all the way. Even in the terrible state she was in today. Nothing else was even possible.
After all, during the last months of this miserable year of 1945, there was hardly any electricity in the Russian occupation zone of Vienna. So the tram was not an option. And even if the tram came, it would not be faster than walking, since it had to drive through the heap of rubble that was the fourth district. Starting from the first district, where she worked, even she with her dog tracking walk was faster to reach the fifth – British – district than the tram.
And regardless of having to walk she still usually carried leftovers of food home with her – it was the least she could do, wasn’t it? – and distributed it to the poorest in the house. But today, she was sure that her strength would not be enough to take anything home with her. In fact, she had to be happy if she herself managed to get home at all.
And if it had not been early October now, when the Russians had taken over their monthly assignment for the first district, this drunken Russian soldier would certainly not have sneaked into the empty kitchen.
Appearing from nowhere, he seemed to suddenly stand in front of her: gigantic, wearing an untidy, dirty uniform, the hood far back, underneath which two angry eyes and a broad, fear-inspiring smile with hideous, broken front teeth had leered at her.
Pauline was shocked – and cried! And already he stood next to her, grabbed her by the neck like a rabbit, shoved her onto the only chair in the kitchen and pressed his second smelly paw over her mouth.
”Nix schreien/No cry – Mamuschka“, he hissed into her face, exuding an abominable smell of schnapps, so that she could hardly breathe. Frightened, trembling and moaning, Pauline moved like a snake in her death struggle in a frantic attempt at freeing her mouth. But her helpless attempts at pulling at his animal paw only seemed to amuse this terrible Russian: he found it hilarious to take turns pressing her neck and her mouth and nose. And the more her face turned blue, the more amusing he found it.
Suddenly, he seemed to be distracted and let go! Pauline gasped for air. She hardly dared to feel her painful neck and sore mouth with her numb fingers.
Some way or other, the Russian seemed to have changed his mind!
All of a sudden, he looked at Pauline without malice, mumbled something about hunger and ‚nix essen/no eat’ and staggered through the tidy kitchen searching for food.
But nothing was here – everything edible was in the cooling chamber.
Since neither he could understand her, nor she him, Pauline just shook her head and pointed towards the locked cooling chamber door while he rampaged the cutlery cupboards. Pauline was incapable of saying anything or uttering a single syllable.
At that moment, the Russian was unfortunate enough to stumble over the unmentionable five-liter bucket of tomato paste the clumsy Maria had not stowed away. The bucket fell over and the Russian fell down. Nonchalantly, he opened it, reached into it with his fingers, tasted it and looked at Pauline – who moved from side to side on her chair and was as white as chalk – with a smile on his face.
It was almost like she had seen it coming. Suddenly, he took up the bucket, grumbled ”Tomaten/tomatoes – Wangen rot/cheek red – Mamuschka“ and simply held the entire bucket of tomato paste to her mouth..
”Du trinken/you drink – Mamuschka- viel trinken/much drink…“
Pauline struggled. She turned her head away as much as possible and pressed her teeth together; but this monster pressed the bucket against her lips with such force that they split and started to burn. She had no choice but to swallow at least some of it. And then some more and some more, and still some more. …
Again and again, she tried to push the bucket away in order to breath. Each time she did this, the red tomato brew ran over her chin and neck and into her blouse and down the kitchen apron. Bellowing, the monster ripped open her blouse and put the bucket down. But as soon as Pauline had had a little rest, the Russian was again there, pressing the bucket between her teeth even more ruthlessly. And Pauline swallowed and gasped and felt herself sinking deeper and deeper into the sour tomato brew.…
Suddenly, the Russian stopped!
As fast as lightning, he pressed the bucket between Pauline’s feet, ran squeaking to one of the sinks, let himself fall to the ground and then returned to Pauline with a devilish grin on his face. Between his fingers, he proudly dangled a fearful and struggling mouse by its long tail.
Paralyzed with terror, all that Pauline registered was how he laughed and dangled the shrieking mouse over his open mouth as if about to swallow it. But then he immersed it in the tomato paste in front of her feet until it stopped moving. Visibly content, he held the mouse up, tumbled back to Pauline and then pushed her head back by the hair with his other hand, before moving the dripping and quivering mouse closer and closer to her mouth …
Then – there was a thundering order in Russian and a cannonade of abuse! Four hands grabbed the monster and dragged it away with the quivering mouse. Pauline moaned and struggled for air with wide open eyes. The remaining Russian soldier, wearing an immaculate Russian uniform and saluting her asked if there was anything he could do to help her…
Pauline, dripping tomato paste all over the place, mechanically shook her head no.
The Russian apologized in broken German and said you could find pigs everywhere – unfortunately also in the Red Army. But he himself had a Mamuschka in Moscow and knew how she felt. He was going to get help.
He quickly saluted before returning to his comrades who had already disappeared along the corridor, while Pauline spat and spat and gasped and was sick again and again in quick succession.
And then she was finally able to sob. …
(Translated by EG)
Picture: Martina Roth, Mystisch, Acryl auf Leinwand, 64 x 45 cm
Roland DürreThursday December 20th, 2012
I am fed up with the discussion about “a too low birth rate in Germany and what the state could do about it“.
Consequently, I take part in said discussion.
First and foremost, in my opinion the state should normally leave it to the individual persons to decide how many children they want. Even a population policy that seems rational or reasonable – perhaps for strategic reasons – like in China has two sides. I cannot “ethically” judge it.
But I get particularly upset whenever I hear the cry for and the discussions happening in this country about child-care centres (note the abbreviation Kita!) and child care subsidies. Consequently, I will now write down my own ideas.
You should not separate a child from its mother too early in life. The child might suffer early fear of loss. Which might then prevent the basic trust we all need so very much in life from being built up properly. Being a layman, I do not know how long the necessary time for a close mother-child relationship should be. However, I believe when we are talking issues of this importance, we should always try to “err on the safe side“. And this means that, in this case, actually “a little more” might be better than too little.
Consequently, it is a good idea for mothers to have the opportunity to spend as much time with their toddlers as possible. In a rich, modern and humane civilization, this should be possible. Society, enterprises and the state just have to want it.
In my opinion, there might be a correlation between the number of child-care places and the number of births, the former might even explain the latter. However, I do not think there is a causal link. It is just possible that in a “child-friendly“ society, there is more readiness to invest in something like a child-care centre. To me, it does not really sound plausible that a couple decides whether or not to have children dependent on whether or not there will be a place for their children in a day-care centre.
Something else – and perhaps this is more relevant – gets more and more obvious in my perception. It is not the women who decide how many children a couple will have! In my environment, there are quite a few couples where the woman would actually have liked to have or have had a child (or even more than one). And mostly the man is the power behind the decision against children or for only one child.
Women – being the balancing and partner-oriented creatures they are – accept this. They love (and fear) their husbands and do not wish to cause emotional difficulties with their “inappropriate and irrational demands”.
Perhaps the women find it a little easier to accept the male demands and abstain from having children in a “reasonable decision“ because it is also quite comfortable not to have children. It certainly makes the course of life less complicated (see career and self-fulfillment) and thus seems to have quite a few advantages.
To me, it seems a wrong assumption that women in our cultural area decide how many children they are going to have and that their decision is based on what infra-structure the state provides or what career chances remain for them. No – it is the men who mostly determine how many children there are in a partnership. Why don’t you just ask a few of the couples you are friends with how many per cent of the “mutual decision” were the man’s?
(Translated by EG)
Future is female!
Roland DürreSaturday November 24th, 2012
On Friday, it was already sitting in my letter box. And at first sight, it actually looked like a folder with spiral binging. We at InterFace have a few brochures of this kind. One of them is called flatland.
It tells you what sort of entrepreneurial culture we would wish to practice. Well, it is a little utopian. But I believe in it. It is very exciting. The new bran
eins reminded me of “flatland“. But I will write about “flatland“ some other time.
As always, the first thing I do is let the outside appearance of the new brand eins sink in. A friendly gentleman looks at me from the cover page. He is probably older than I.
That is something I enjoy, because it means that, after all, I might still have a chance of some day landing on the cover page of a magazine. The gentleman emanates piece and dignity. Well, that is good news, isn’t it?
Then I see the heading: Not For Cowards Olla! What might be the meaning of this?
I still do not know if I am a coward. Or am I (what)? What is the opposite of a coward?
A courageous person? A fear-free person? At the moment, I am too lazy to look it up. I will do so tonight. Incidentally, being lazy is an important virtue. It brings a lot of happiness. All you have to do is dare to be lazy. In a way, being lazy is not for cowards.
I read on and get to the focal thesis The Good Life. Again, something comes to mind. Do I have a good life? My spontaneous answer is – doubtless, I do! But then I also read the small print on page one: “Today, I have the nice feeling of having decided in favour of the right priorities” Gerd Knop, 70. Well, once in a while, it pays to read the small print. It is the solution to the riddle. The gentleman looking at me in this content way is Herr Knop and he is 70 years old.
So I plunge into the magazine – as always, the first thing I read is the editorial by Frau Fischer. It says “Not a Matter of Luck” and I think to myself: “it is probably not a matter of luck whether or not you set the right priorities“? Well, this is nowhere near as easy as it looks. I do not know. But it is certainly exciting.
To me, it seems like the magazine is quite bulky. It has 170 pages. Well, that is a lot, isn’t it? Again, the first thing I have to do is hold it up and give it a shake so that a lot of adverts can fall out. I am sure you remember me writing about this the last time around. So I get the wastepaper basket and dump all the adverts in it. I feel like Mother Hulda. You can expect it to snow soon on our planet. And the result is – the magazine is now a lot less bulky.
So am I now the kind or the unkind girl? Basically, I know: I must be the kind girl. After all, I did a lot of shaking out material. And I also have the nice feeling of having my priorities just right. And I enjoy life as long as I can still learn and experience new things.
It only takes a few pages for me to see that, again, there is a lot of precious stuff I can learn from this magazine. With other high-gloss magazines, this never happens. Not even with “Playboy”. Neither with business weeklies or manager magazines or periodical journals with the same words on their cover pages (just like there are many parties with words such as “Christian” or “Social” in their name). No matter how I turn them upside down, nothing useful for me will ever fall out.
So here it is in a nutshell: again, they wrote a beautiful magazine with a great title. I will let a few other people read it and then take it with me on my travels. And here is what I say: if you read brand eins, you will not become the unkind girl.
So here are the kind girl’s best wishes for your weekend.
(Translated by EG)
Roland DürreSaturday November 17th, 2012
Last Tuesday, Wilfried Bommert of the WDR was our guest at Unterhaching. Wildfried Bommert is a well-known expert when it comes to “feeding the world”. He also published several books on the subject. Currently, he and a few partners are establishing the Berlin “Institut für Welternährung”.
Our last presentation in the series “living and surviving in a sustainable way” was yet again another highlight of the 2012 IF Forum. Herr Bommert deliberately kept his presentation very short and concise. We had planned this, because, after all, we wanted to produce an attractive video recording for Youtube as an extra value.
I think we succeeded. Every single sentence uttered by Herrn Bommert was right on target. Without employing unnecessary emotions and questionable judgements, he reported facts in a very objective way and came up with simple, logical conclusions.
Consequently, there was a long discussion after the presentation. It was extremely constructive and passionate. And we agreed: the messages sent by Herrn Bommert are important. He demonstrated in a very simple and rational way how feeding the world dangles on a thin string. And how easily this string could and perhaps will break.
However, Herr Bommert also showed us ways to change matters. And he also showed us that it is, indeed, possible for us to prepare for the time after our stupid and eventually fatal economic habits will have caused a collapse. Consequently, his finishing lines after a very thought-inspiring list of facts and judgements were rather nice and optimistic.
With Vienna sausages and meatloaf (of course from the butcher Schlammerl of Ottobrunn), we spent quite some more time discussing things in small rounds. And finally, when the hot spiced wine and ginger bread were served – also from a local bakery: Götz of Taufkirchen – the general atmosphere was one of courage in view of a possible future and joy about all the interesting information and the culinary delicacies.
I already look forward to watching the video recording by Friedrich Lehn. As soon as it is finished, we will make it available for you on all our diverse Youtube channels.
Here are a few pictures to refresh your memory and maybe arouse your appetite for the video.
Wilfried Bommert talking to Mr. and Mrs. Gerlach. Thomas Gerlach works for the Bayerischer Rundfunk. He was the one who first introduced Herrn Bommert to me.
The introduction to the presentation. It will start right away …
As so often, all pictures were taken by our Rolo Zollner.