Roland Dürre
Tuesday October 25th, 2016

Winter Time & Summer Time – As Useless as Cancerous Growth

P1070194Now you will read my personal opinion!

On October, 30th, the day will again have come: all clocks will stand still for one hour at 2 a.m.. After that one hour, they can continue ticking away. Or else you just turn them back one hour in the morning. So if it was eight o’clock a minute ago, it will now suddenly be seven o’clock. In the evening it is suddenly dark far too soon…

For me, that will again mean between three and five days of not really being myself. Somehow or other, this “homeopathic” time change by one hour is worse for my system than a proper jet lag of several  hours.

The accident statistics, too – both for traffic and household accidents – peaks around the time of the change. Occasionally, people probably die because of the time change. And on March, 26th, 2017, the reverse process comes again.

They originally said this manoeuvre was introduced to save energy. Except that I have no idea how that is supposed to work. If at all, the only energy that, in theory, could be saved is electric energy for illumination. But how? After all, all activities of humans are just pushed back by one hour? If you turn off the light one hour earlier and then turn it on one hour later, this sounds a lot like a pure zero sum game to me…

As most people I know, I think this entire time change theatre is total nonsense. For me, it is another example for our hopeless political situation: a Bavarian solo would probably cause serious conflict in Berlin. A German solo is not possible because of EU laws. And it sounds more and more unlikely to me that the EU will ever decide something that makes sense.

Consequently, we will probably have to continue living with this nonsense for many years to come. Until this EU will finally break up.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I almost cannot mention that Putin actually ended this nonsense in Russia. After all, he is an autocratic dictator who was never elected by his people. Incidentally, he decided to have winter time all the year round, while I would recommend summer time all the year round. Because this is a better fit for us.

This is where I would like to thank all the Wallonians for countering the growth and efficiency mania of a lobby structure that is totally dominated by late capitalism.
Whenever humaneness and solidarity are discussed, I like thinking globally. But when they try to give huge concerns total freedom, I prefer the local approach. And that means I wish for regional protective mechanisms, rather than a declaration of bankruptcy and the abandonment of all self-determination.

Even if there is a risk of being seen as the evil guy if you have this opinion. Especially by all those people in this world who are named  Gabriel and Schulz.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday December 16th, 2015

What Annoys Me #35 – System Agents.

Dürre_RolandIt was unavoidable: during my “linked life” I again and again met politicians and functionaries of associations and clubs. I am sure the representatives of these systems, too, are only human. You must not judge them too sternly. To my surprise, I find totally different “faces” among those persons.

In many clubs, you will find wonderful people working for a cause with competence, idealism and knowledge. They are also capable of integrating people. But even in these circles, I (too often) meet persons who will not work towards a shared idea, instead promoting “their own agenda”. And then, it is only a logical conclusion that decisions will not be in the interest of the common good, but instead for individual profit.

As soon as I turn away from clubs – where, after all, people often work on an honorary basis – and towards the world of associations and parties, my image will quickly become a negative one. This is where the system agents are the majority. More often than not, they are also “system agents” promoting their own interests. Consequently, there are quite a few persons both in the large-scale and in the small-sale “public domain” who I do not like at all.

Mostly, I am talking persons of mediocrity who define themselves hugely through their office and who want to distinguish themselves and look important. Because they are not really taken seriously in their lives, so they can only compensate for this lack through their office or role. They often hide behind rules, put particular emphasize on the fact that they have to consider circumstances, justify decisions that are not made by talking practical constraints, operate with moralizing (you cannot do that!) and basically accomplish nothing when all is said and done.

What is worse: due to non-existent education, intellect or personality, they confuse many things and live from the strength of their system which, although in the throngs of death (agony), can continue for quite some time because of the accumulated riches. They could not care less that they, along with “their” system, are less and less appreciated. After all, they still have the glamour (and often the significant income) of their offices.

How could these persons ever become the holders of their offices? More often than not, they managed to gain surprisingly good positions in the hierarchy of their association, club or party. Their main characteristic is their “steadiness” and being able to simply ignore negative feedback. Consequently, they climb the ladder in roles others consider “too stupid” and show persistence on their way through the system instances. During their march, they take in a lot, which is their true strength.

The final wages come in the form of long-sought-after importance. They do not care that said importance is only borrowed. With every step in their career, they get a little closer to the centre. When they reach their goal, they are finally “somebody” through their title. It feels like winning to them and mostly they also get quite some money in exchange (both directly and indirectly). Neither would have been possible for them in any other way.

The list of persons, associations and parties I am referring to is rather long. I am thinking of a number of representatives of all kinds of interest groups, business associations and IHK-s, employers’ and employees’ associations, big clubs like for instance for car drivers, diverse sports organizations and church associations; associations that represent classes or occupational groups belong there just like those who specialize on certain job-related topics or believe they own some secret for best practice or some such. Even NGO-s who want to do “good” suffer from these system agents. And more often than not, they will fall victim to commerce.

Incidentally, we now have an inflation of clubs and associations, for all possible purposes and intents. Consequently, there are ever more jobs for system agents. But it is even worse when I look at parties and lobbyism.

What seems disproportionally negative to me is the situation of the political parties and their associated institutions (for instance for opinion forming). In theory, it is their job to generate variants of social consensus that then can be democratically voted on. This concept no longer works. The mayor of a not very small city on the river Rhine once told me that usually persons joining a party hope for private advantages. Well, if even members behave in this way, can you actually hold it against political functionaries that they, too, base their decisions on personal advantages?
If such persons then lament that they are the only ones who do anything at all and accuse others of only talking, then I sometimes get truly angry.

The worst of all are the system agents of lobbyism, the lobbyists. They must and should promote the interests of the members of an association in society and politics. And consequently, they often have to push forward interests that are clearly against the common good with “carrot and stick”, i.e. by all possible means. Naturally, if that is what you have to do, you will need a particularly high degree of ruthlessness directed against the rest of the world. In my vocabulary, I would find the words: scum and vermin.

RolandSchwimmen1Just lamenting is one thing. It will not do any good. Better act. Consequently, we have to end our own sluggishness and turn our spectatorship into activities.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday March 24th, 2015

Cars and Motorways – Above Everything.

AutobahnkleeblattThis morning, I read in the SZ under “rural district” that the costs of an individual motorway project – the necessity of which, incidentally, I also cannot understand – will rise by 19 million Euros from the originally planned to 44.3 Million Euros.

In the end, it will probably be even more than that.

Let me cite from the SZ, district of Munich, of March, 24th, 2015:

Cost Explosion at A 99

The re-positioning of the exit Aschheim/Ismaning on the motorway A99 from Highway B 471 to District Road M3 will cost significantly more than has been estimated so far. This is what district chief executive Christoph Göbel (CSU) told the audience during a district council meeting in the Pullach Bürgerhaus on Monday afternoon. It is said that the Motorway Administrative Board South Bavaria informed the district administration that the construction works will cost a total of 44.3 million Euros. Initially, it had been assumed that the cost would be more than 25 million Euros. When the construction work started in summer 2013, they already talked 29 million Euros. The new exit on the crossroads of motorway A99 and District Road M 3 will be built as a full four-leaf clover.  The old exit of M 3 onto Highway B 471 will become a circuit with an underpass for the passing traffic.

I am particularly impressed by the second citation in this article. District Chief Executive Göbel just states:

“We have to assume an additional increase of general costs by 15 per cent.”

I can easily imagine that. Except that I keep hearing we have too little inflation.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the picture „AK-Detail“ from Wikoli at deutschsprachige Wikipedia. It is licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0 through Wikimedia Commons.

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 13th, 2014

Leaf Blowers

Blick aus meinem Schlafzimmer von Neubiberg rüber nach Ottobrunn. Wer findet den Laubbläser?

The view is from my bedroom in Neubiberg looking towards Ottobrunn. – Who can find the leaf blower?


This is again the time of the year when they are operational.

All over the place.

As soon as I look out of my bedroom window over the little park in the morning, I discover the first of them.

Using the cyclists’ path on my way to the Phönix (that is the Ottobrunn public swimming pool), I come across the next couple. And this is how it continues all day long.

There are two kinds of leaf blowers. The private ones where people absolutely had to have a lawn mower and a leaf blower in their garden shed – on top of their luxury villa, their different cars, motor bikes and scooters. All of these gadgets have a combustion motor to make them really noisy. And then once in a while, you have to do some blowing. After all, this is what everybody does, isn’t it? Actually, those crazies are not the persons I address with this article.

Today, I want to write about the professional leaf blowers. They are driven to their places of service by the community car and then they have to blow all day long, wearing protective gear both for their ears and mouth. Some of them wear their motor on their backs like a backpack, others have to carry the entire device on their shoulder holster and some very exceptional employees have a four-wheel vehicle for doing the “blow-job”.

These leaf blowers are a particular annoyance to me. How I pity the people having to work those machines! On wet days like this morning, you can more or less put up with it. However, on a beautiful dry workday with a little sun, they are absolute hell for me as a biker. Because they blow so much dust into the air – and quite a few particles will inevitably end up in the eyes of the biker.

Yet this is not the place for me to write about what a foolish idea leaf blowers are. Basically, all they achieve is that companies like Stiehl and others become rich. Other than that, all they do is produce noise and smell. Of course, they also need fuel – which often smells bad when the person who did the re-filling was a little jittery.

Now I am sitting in the train, which is a leaf-blower free zone (you cannot use the mobile phone, either) and going to the EnjoyWorkCamp. I have to think of all those people dressed up in their leaf blower costumes. Four hours of noise, in between a sandwich break, then lunch and another four hours of noise. All by yourself, no human contact. Moving the leaves from one corner to the next – and then having to see how the wind again blows it somewhere else.

Now I wonder what answer they would give if I asked them after a day’s work: “What kind of day have you had?” – And I am afraid the reply would not be pleasant.

Incidentally, it could easily be organized differently. We could send people – always in twos – with a rolling container, some shovels, brooms and rakes out to do the job. While they are doing their work, they could have conversations with each other. And they could proudly observe how many containers they managed to fill and remove every day.

And perhaps you could even give them an extra sack for plastic and other rubbish (cigarette boxes, all sorts of paper, Coffee2GO containers, aluminium cans,…) which nowadays are a disgrace to all our roads, squares and streets. Along with a device for picking up all the rubbish. The additional advantage for these persons would be that they could also be proud to leave a track of cleanliness behind them.

If I asked these persons “What kind of day have you had?”, then chances are that perhaps the replies would be a little more enjoyable than those of the leaf blowers. Aren’t there enough people sitting at home and having no job – either living on Hartz4 or social welfare. My idea might be a little more expensive, but it would certainly make a lot more sense. Besides, it is never a bad idea to suggest that someone should get active in the great outdoors.

Please refrain from saying that this was only true in former times!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

Apropos fresh air. History teaches us another lesson, too. Whenever I arrive at my goal by bike in the best of moods on a rainy or snowy day, or generally when the weather is bad, people are surprised and ask me how anybody can ride a bike with this kind of weather. My usual reply is that there is no such thing as wrong weather, the only problem is wrong clothes.

In the future, I will point out that there are people who have to work outside at all weathers: for instance leaf blowers, both female and male.

Roland Dürre
Friday August 15th, 2014

Start-up (1) – Failure

As during many summers before, I am currently camping at Porto Ageranos. The campground is situated on the Peloponnesus, on the middle finger, about 10 kilometres south of Gythio, shortly before the mild climate of Mani. From our tent, you have only 10 metres to go before you reach the ocean. The first night was truly great. And since we know the region quite well, we have been feeling really at home from the outset!

I take advantage of the time I spand at this place for relaxing, contemplation and, not least, for making plans. And, of course, I also do a lot of swimming and bike-riding, I eat well and simply spend quality time with my beloved family and friends. And, naturally, I also write some articles (for the IF Blog).
This time around, my main topic is start ups.

I know many people. With some of them, I am good friends. Among them are also quite a few young colleagues. It seems to me that I am actually doing quite well when it comes to getting along with the young generation.

A few years ago, I started getting interested in the foundation of new enterprises. For instance, I am constantly asked to sit in the jury for a business plan contest. As a mentor, I counsel persons and enterprises, sometimes intensely, sometimes sporadically. Consequently, I know a little about what is going on.
Most of the teams I know and acompany are truly great teams. They are industrious and creative and they try to lead their lives independently and to build up an enterprise, investing the utmost personal enthusiasm on many levels based on an exciting idea.

And then they fail.

Some of them fail at the very outset, others as soon as promotion programs, such as EXIST are over, or else after the first financing. More often than not, the period of suffering will continue for some time. Once in a while, they find an “emergency exit”. And only very few of them will be a success – and those mostly in a totally different way than they had originally planned.

Most of those who fail leave behind a huge amount of strength and also money. The only consolation for them is that they learned a lot, in other words: they “failed successfully”. Yet this is not much of a consolation, is it? After all, if they had taken up an alternative life line, for instance through a good job with a medium-sized company, they could probably have learned a lot more for their personal future.

As I see it, this is a gigantic waste of capital, creativity and industriousness (“waste” in the sense of Kaizen). Also, the frustration and disappointment many of the young persons concerned suffer is painful. And I often think that this frequent failure might have been avoidable in many cases.

Because the mass-failures are easily explained. Mostly, the founders work just like the expertise of a past epoch tells them to. And this pattern never really worked very well. Today, it generally does not pan out at all. How are the success patterns of yesterday supposed to work in the world of tomorrow, anyway?
And the very few exceptions – incidentally, they are all due to the accumulation of particularly lucky circumstances – only prove this rule.

Why is failure normal?

The answer is simple: for instance, big concerns, too, constantly try to throw new products onto the market. These concerns have everything you need for a new product idea: capital in masses, a well-known brand, excellent marketing, strong marketing organizations, world-wide access to the markets, great engineers and providers, and much more. And above all: they know their market, because more often than not they have been “learning” and “working towards it” for decades.

And still their new product inventions often fail. If they are lucky, as few as 10 % of such new inventions will become more or less a success on the market. Make your criteria for the definition of “success” a little stricter, and you get an even lower number.

Except how is a young team that has none of these things supposed to compete? Just with their young light-heartedness and creativity? This is nonsense!

One conclusion might be that young founders will only have a real chance on totally new markets. That would mean young founders should shirk (almost) all business ideas around existing technologies and solutions. The current development seems to justify this argument. Well, perhaps I can give a first tentative piece of advice to start-ups:

Be careful if you wish to enter into markets where others already have their standing.

To be sure, great concerns with their organization and processes are their own stumbling block when it comes to creative topics. Their success has the negative side that they will always think in old patterns. They know this and consequently look for innovation outside their own walls. The foundation of “acceleration“ departments and their looking for cooperation with start-ups is their way out of it. After all, this is also the latest idea of “UnternehmerTUM” of Munich Technical University. The same is true for the new first mayor of our state capital Munich, Mr. Reiter.

The magic word “cooperation between concerns and start-ups”, however, will not work, either. Firstly, the old enterprises intensely live the rejection from outside as in: “not invented here“. I witnessed this quite frequently and also made the experience myself in strategic cooperation with big firms – more than once. And I could also name quite a few examples where the results of XXX acceleration or XXX invest failed.

But the “old methods”, too, are only successful in few exceptional cases. Let me exemplify this with almost all “tax-saving models”. For many years now, we have witnessed this not only in sectors such as “film”, “realty”, “shipping”, or “alternative energy”. The huge losses suffered by investors in projects around railway and canal building are also good examples.

Mostly, their failure was not because they fell victim to fraud or untrustworthy businessmen. To be sure, those also happened. But mostly the reason was that the underlying business models and plans were just wrong. Regardless of the fact that they had been made by experts in a “professional” way. Experts who really knew their markets. And regardless of having been controlled critically by other experts, for instance in banking. Mind you, those banking experts were really serious, because, after all, they had a share. Here, too, I could write about very personal experiences: in one case, the Sparkasse München, which I hold in high esteem, lost a few million Euros – in my own case, we are, luckily, only talking something in the middle five-digit range.

But if even projects written by experts and validated by many other experts do not work, how can you then expect a young team of founders without any experience and knowledge of the market to steer their enterprise successfully into a non-predictable future?

Seen under this light, founding a new company is basically a hopeless or at least very courageous adventure. An adventure no sane person should by any rights let himself be drawn into.

However, I think that it is possible to improve the chance of success for a start-up from what feels like 1 : 100 to something that perhaps even comes close to 1 : 1 (success versus failure ratio)..

I know that this is a rather courageous announcement of mine. Consequently, I plan to use my two weeks on a campground at the southernmost end of the Peloponnesus on Mani for writing a few articles about “start-ups” here in my IF Blog. This is both for the start-ups I myself counsel and all others.

RMD (Translated by EG)

P.S.

I will start with my own experiences as a young entrepreneur in the next instalment. As I see it, you can already learn quite a bit from it.

Roland Dürre
Sunday May 25th, 2014

A Splitter of my Medical History …

My Tonsils Have to be Removed

I consciously remember more than 50 years of my life. Consequently, I also have a medical history. What I mean with this is the interactions between myself and doctors and hospitals, as well as the interference with my body by doctors.

Fortunately, the list of interferences of members of the medical profession on my body is short. I say fortunately, because the ratio between useful and detrimental medical procedures and treatment in my case is 1 : 2. And my best visits to doctors were those when the “Gods-in-White” said that “we could do something about this, but it is not absolutely necessary” – and then I was happy to avoid treatment.

Here is one of my less positive experiences. I only relate it here because once in a while, it is a good idea to do your own public outing.

During the winter of my last term at elementary school (1959/1960), I had a particularly serious cold. Mind you, this was not because I was physically a very weak child. In fact, it was more because I was always disobedient and ignored all the many good pieces of advice given me by the “adult world” around me. So when the weather turned frosty, I still refused to wear a woollen cap, regardless of what my parents had said. My parents used to say: “Those who don’t want to hear must feel!” or just: “you have only yourself to thank for it!”

So when I was nine years old, I was rather seriously ill for a considerable time after Christmas and had to see the doctor several times. Our general practitioner, Dr. Halbeck (I am not sure if I remember the name correctly) was a mild-mannered elderly gentleman who – in my perception – was actually quite aware of how difficult it is to deal with health, medicine, causes and the correct treatment.

Which is why he transferred me to the specialist, the perhaps most famous ENT (ear-nose-throat) expert in Augsburg, a Dr. Harlander. This is also a name I am not sure I remember correctly, which means I cannot say if this is actually his name. Just like I do not know if Dr. Halbeck received a “kick-back” from Dr. Harlander for the transfer …

We were welcomed warmly in the practice by Harlander. After all, we, as the family of a tenured civil servant, were privately insured. Dr. Harlander had an impressive practice in a huge villa, he was a very wealthy and important person in Augsburg. And in the Diakonissen-Haus (an extremely abominable hospital near Augsburg Central Station), he had an entire set of so-called in-patient beds.

And, medically spoken, Dr. Harlander was an absolute genius. He saw immediately what was wrong with me! The tonsils – they must be removed! – was his quick verdict. And he assured my parents that soon, when I was going to attend grammar school, I would be in considerably better health, which would drastically improve my chances of graduating from high school. My parents liked what they heard and consequently, they wanted him to remove my tonsils.

It so happened that Dr. Harlander’s in-patient beds in the Diakonissen-Haus were occupied for many weeks in advance. After all, Dr. Harlander was a very successful doctor and had his standards. And “no sweet without sweat”. Consequently, the good doctor did as many operations as his tools could master. And such a thing as an empty in-patient bed was not an option for Dr. Harlander.

And then came spring and I was healthy again. But alas, the in-patient bed was booked for me. Consequently, I had to make my appearance at the Diakonissenhaus although I was in perfect health and the sun shone brightly.

I do not very well remember the operation and its surrounding circumstances. But after the operation, I got to eat ice-cream every day. And my parents also brought a present to the hospital when they visited. In those days, Viking cars in HO scale were my true love. So I got three plastic cars in a sack, as a reward for having been so courageous.

The three toy cars looked rather cheap. Besides, they were not Viking cars. Instead, they were special bargains from one of the supermarkets which at the time sprouted all over the place. Very plump fakes with plenty of weaknesses if you looked at details. I was disappointed. And from that time on, I had to go through life without my tonsils. And ever since then, I also hate “fakes”.

To make up for it, I have been suffering from chronic neck throat aches to this day. The only times I feel really fit around the throat is when I spend a few days near the ocean. And as soon as I am back in high Munich or in air-conditioned surroundings (plane, ICE, modern building), my neck starts feeling bad.

Today, I read that it is not at all a good idea to have had your tonsils removed. Among other things, persons without tonsils have a statistically higher rate of suffering from throat cancer.

With our seven children, the occasional ENT specialist also advised to remove the tonsils. But we always declined. Today, they are all grown up, still have their tonsils and, at least as far as I know, enjoy excellent health….

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

The picture shows the view from the hospital complex in Augsburg. It was taken from the angle of Riegele Brauwelt, which is right opposite of Augsburg Central Station.

Now, yet again, someone “took total and political responsibility” – and then he resigned, before his club excluded him.

Politicians, too, like to “take responsibility” after something has gone awry. Or if something was made public knowledge that was basically “strictly confidential” and not at all meant for publication. Except that, today, politicians no longer resign. That was in former times. Today, if they have become truly unacceptable, they will wait for a lucrative offer to change careers.

The term “taking responsibility”, more and more often also “full” or “political” responsibility, has become mere lip service. Not much will happen afterwards. The best you can hope for is a few new compliance rules to be sanctioned and publicly sworn to. And then they will instantly be secretly circumnavigated.

We all have already done something stupid in our lives. I know the feeling well. But then I admit to what happened and try to control the damage or see if things can be put right again. It would not be appropriate for me to lament about the consequences or to come up with excuses, or else to point towards the “true culprit”.

And then I would be well advised to keep quiet, because nobody needs a public “taking the responsibility”. Nor does it help anybody.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Now I just rode my bike through Germany for three days coming from Switzerland. I stayed overnight with a friend and twice in a hotel. First with Wolf in Rorschach, then in two normal tourist hotels in Oberstaufen and Füssen.

And every evening on arriving at the hotel, I had to fill in a form at the check-in: last name, first name, date of birth, home address, date of birth and first name of my wife.

However, I did not have to do it when I stayed with my friend. So why was that? After all, I spent the night in Rorschach, didn’t I? Don’t you have to fill in a form if you have private accommodation? And can anybody tell me why not? Why we only have to do this in a hotel? After all, the chance of me being a potential danger to the state will not change if I stay in a hotel.

Incidentally, whenever I offer people to stay overnight with us – and I often have guests who stay overnight – I do not let them fill in a form, either. Neither do I register them anywhere. I wonder if, being a law-abiding citizen, I should do it?

Since I often travel, I often have to fill in these forms. It is unnecessary work. I used to believe that the data are all in my passport. As well as on many of my small plastic cards in these small chips. Consequently, you should think people can read them from there, can’t they? At least this would be a way to avoid having to take up a biro and soiling paper. After all, I already know my date of birth and my home address, so I need not practice writing them.

Incidentally, all of this seems quite useless to me. Basically, all the world knows at all times where I was and where I am. Consequently, having to fill in all those forms is just bureaucratic harassment.

Of course, filling in forms is particularly absurd if I look at my smartphone in the morning. It talks back to me, telling me each morning where exactly I am, what the weather is like outside, and much more. And there are many more applications which always know exactly where I am at what time.

Regardless, I will probably have to fill in the form in the future just as always. Totally useless. Like so many other things in our world.

🙂 Well, basically, it is not something I get really annoyed with. It is just stupid.

So what? I will just continue to fill in forms.…

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday September 17th, 2013

What Annoys Me #32 – Many Speakers’ Degenerateness …

I keep attending events sponsored by all sorts of organisations, where I hope to learn something new. Perhaps also because I wish to extend my social network. At these events, I listen to presentations.

More often than not, the speakers are glamorous personalities with impressive titles. In their visiting cards, you can read things like “author and key speaker”, “innovative constructor and instructor” or “trainer and speaker”. Naturally, they are all members of the GSA (German Speaker Association) or similar associations. And they pretend to have special expertise on some not very precisely defined topic.

And then they lay it on thick. Using too obviously trained rhetoric skills, they present slides like zillions of times before where the only things they modified are the place and the date. In their show, they link commonly known psycho tricks with banalities, interspersing caricatures that only seem funny at first sight. To make up for it, they keep mixing populist with allegedly provocative theses.

Each of their presentations is full of the same old flat jokes and they always laugh routinely at the same places. They make use of the prejudices of their audience for confirmation of many a thick theory. If you are lucky, they will at least give you a nice cabaret performance.

Then they take their money and disappear. We even celebrate them because, after all, we are used to far worse presentations. Presentations given by persons who have no talent at all but bought their speaker invitation with sponsoring or something similar.

To me, it seems like the number of these make-believe speakers increases all the time. A presentation should be humble and moderate. The speaker should relate what is important to him in an authentic and truthful way. He should talk about what moves him, share his knowledge and experience in life and do without all this knick-knack. Because, when all is said and done, you will otherwise only get distracted from what is really important. Well, getting distracted will also keep you from noticing mistakes.

In a nutshell:

I am fed up with this narcissistic mixture of cheap showmanship, claptrap, semi-truths, more or less hinted at conspiracy theories and the constant game with all kinds of effects used by this commercialized new world of speakers.

And I know from my personal experience as a speaker that it is not at all necessary.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

In my opinion, public restrooms where you have to pay are a symptom for our society’s decline!

At the airports of this world, there are always really lots of toilets. The number is gigantical, each one of them is equipped lavishly. In my experience, toilets on airports are basically always clean – and hardly ever crowded.

At Munich airport, they even ask me – after my cost-free use of the restroom – to give them some electronic feedback on the experience. You can press a button with sensors and smiley symbols as you exit. It seems to be the newest fashion. The luxury toilets at our airport and all other airports I know are always free.

Neither is excuse: “this is how it has to be, because you cannot be expected to carry change in all national currencies” legitimate. We have a big, shared European currency; besides, every adult air-traveller carries at least one credit card or similar global means of payment (cell-phone) at all times. And children are permitted to dive through even in the German malls. And for a country with its own currency, such as for instance Switzerland, it would certainly be easy to organize, for instance by selling two special-purpose coins on crossing the border: to be used at public airport toilets.

But air-travellers are something special and, consequently, airports are privileged places. Also with respect to toilets. You also have toilets at railway stations. But they really cost big time! Except if you are a privileged railroad user owning a “BahnCard Comfort”. Then you are permitted to enter the lounge – where using the restrooms is free. But only in big cities.

The ZOB (Munich Central Bus Station) at Hackerbrücke also has modern and clean facilities. They, too, cost money – and I mean MONEY.
On the other hand, small railway stations and bus stations usually have no toilets at all. If you use the regional cross-country busses often, you will know that quite a few stops are really remote places.

Politicians and Bums

At Munich Central Station, you can witness what comes from this kind of policy. Because in this area, you have a few more homeless persons than elsewhere. And they cannot afford using the restrooms. You can see and smell the consequences.

Now I imagine life as a bum at Munich Central Station.

And let us assume I am already somewhat elderly  – therefore needing restrooms a little more often than I used to. So if I reside near the Central Station and wish to “do my business” legally, it gets expensive.

Let us say I need to spend a penny ten times a day. These days, you have to pay considerably more than 50 cents each time, sometimes up to one Euro (so far). Well, it gets expensive. You will have to pay five to ten Euros every day. Just for the disposal of physical necessities. It is probably more expensive than providing the body with physical necessities.

Even if I were a collector of returnable bottles, this would not give me much of a head-start. You get less than 10 cents for a glass beer bottle – and even the precious ALDI plastic bottle will only gain you 25 cents. That means I have to find at least ten bottles of beer for one visit to the toilet. Taking my example, that would be a hundred bottles each day – a real challenge for a bum.

Basically, that leaves you with only one alternative: you have to be mobile – and move to the airport. But I am afraid the security might be just as well-organized there as the toilet crew. And I am sure there is no room for bums at the airport. It seems that life gets harder and harder for bums – but not only for them.

I always find it tragic that our society does no longer have money for public toilets and similar things of the same importance. After all, providing this kind of infra-structure in the public domain is a central basic task of every society, isn’t it?

Consequently, I demand public, clean and free toilets at all highly frequented places! And I am quite prepared to accept a video supervision including alarm function – so that vandalism committed at those places can be traced to the perpetrators and they can be caught and made to pay.

Incidentally, the punishment I would advise for vandalism is not money or jail. Instead, they should have to work as toilet cleaning persons where they did their deed.
Which would include their right to use the toilets in a civilized way.

RMD
(Translated by EG)