Roland Dürre
Monday July 6th, 2015

My “Destina”

🙂 From the South-Sea Island of Runit to Munich Rosenheimer Straße.

„Runit Dome 001“ von US Defense Special Weapons Agency

”Runit Dome 001“ by US Defense Special Weapons Agency

In the SZ weekend edition (July, 4th and 5th, 2015), I found two articles that horrified me. And I posted them as often as possible in Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

The first article appeared in the “knowledge” sector and was titled: “Dome of Death”. It is about what the 67 nuclear bomb tests executed by the USA between 1946 and 1958 on the atolls Eniwetok and Bikini left behind.

The second artikele  is titled “Extensive Human Tragedy” and tells us about a declaration by the Nobel Prize winners they published during a meeting in Lindau, demanding a fierce fight against the climate change (Klimawandel).

In the first report, the extent of the catastrophe happening in the South Sea truly horrifies me. It again brings back to my mind what a huge danger radioactive waste is. And how small-minded and futile the current attempts to find safe disposal zones in Germany are. Again, politics terminated a project that, de facto, is destined to fail.

I can well understand both the people and the counties opposing a disposal zone. After all, it seems to me that contaminating even more regions on this earth is the biggest possible mistake. Because, naturally, there can be no safety in this area.

Here is another note. The aforementioned article also again mentions that plutonium is one of the most poisonous of all radio-active materials and has a half-value period of up to 24,000 years. Well, in times when we are constantly confronted with billions, 24,000 years seem almost negligible, don’t they? Except – it has been only 2,400 years ago that the first human cultures invented writing – and that is one digit less.…

However, the second article made me almost more furious. In all fields of our lives, we trust science. When we eat food, we trust that science guarantees us healthy nutrients. When we fly, we are sure that, thanks to physics, we will not fall down. We get vaccinations and trust in science. When driving cars, we trust our airbags and even when we ride a bike we follow the laws of science.

But whenever said science provides us with matching results from different disciplines and sources, we do nothing if we do not like those results. My special fury is directed to our current government.

Regardless us of being bankrupt ourselves, they stage a “Western Community of Values” that costs hundreds of millions of Euros in Elmau. And all they can show for it in the end is a few “programmatic decisions” – all of which, even a few days after the declarations, turn out to have been nothing but lip-service.

Germany’s government actually celebrates itself for being the teacher and guardian of public virtue for all Europe and does not even hesitate to come up with slogans such as:  “If the Euro dies, Europe will die”. Incidentally, this is a statement that, like many others from the same source, will not survive dialectical questioning.

For the Greeks, she has a program even the IWF finds totally counterproductive, demanding that they must reduce the retirement money they pay but that they cannot under any circumstances reduce their military budget.

And much more of the same.

Except that she is not doing her homework, for instance by introducing a general speed limit in Germany. She does not put a stop to the gigantic subsidies of company cars. Putting taxation on plane kerosene, too, is something she cannot even allow herself to think about.

And she bathes in self-praise, looking on as infra-structure and education in this country go south. How profits are privatized and losses are socialized and thus how the rich get ever richer while the number of the poor increases along with their dwindling property. To make up for it, she is number one in Europe when it comes to indoctrination and coming up with stupid dogmata.

That is when I occasionally start asking myself if my “destina” might not be to fight all this stupidity and counter-productivity. But that would mean I have to stop doing what I am currently doing, namely linking and mentoring persons and supporting start-ups. And I have not yet quite reached that stage.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Tonight will be the first time in many years that I will again be part of a demonstration. I will sit on my bike and ride it for a fair distribution of space on the Munich Rosenheimer Strasse: Radel-Demo Rosenheimer!

P.S.1
I took the picture “Runit Dome 001“ by US Defense Special Weapons Agency from Wikipedia:– http://sonicbomb.com/albums/album61/runit.jpg. It is licenced under “common property” through Wikimedia Commons –

Roland Dürre
Sunday May 24th, 2015

The Mumbai MonoRail.

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In the street facing the Dodha complex – which is the skyscraper I am currently living in – a lot of concrete is being used for building the MonoRail tracks. Over the narrow street, a two-lane concrete line is snaking its way through many very different houses. Eventually, it is supposed to prepare the way for the Mumbai monorail train through the city.

The only other project of this kind is the “Fly Over”, probably the most important higher-level street in Mumbai, part of which also detours onto the ocean, thus connecting the city districts and their skyscrapers. As I already wrote, you can categorize the skyscrapers into three classes: “already finished”, “still under construction” and “not finished, but no longer under construction”. In fact, I am sure you could find quite a few other exciting categories, as well.

Somewhere in Mumbai, the MonoRail is already active, connecting it to a not-yet finished future city. It has almost become a tourist attraction. However, one cannot really call it a tourist attraction in the same league as the magnetic levitation train to Shanghai Airport.

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To me, the MonoRail looks like a prestige object of Mombai. In terms of public transportation, I doubt that it will be all that beneficial. But then, a MonoRail is definitely something special and therefore a good means to improve the reputation of Mumbai as a modern city. Besides, the project will also mean that some very rich will become even richer. In India, a few always means a few more. And whenever a huge project will increase private prosperity, then it is definitely justified.

A short time ago, a new government was installed. It is leaning towards right-populist. Instead of dealing with apparent problems, the first thing it did was forbid the consumption of beef, making it punishable most severely. And before the elections, they promised to install air-conditioning in all those many old Metro trains with open doors and windows. Because AC is always something people are in favour of. This intent is probably something totally impossible to put into practice.

In another district, they want to introduce an identity card for every cow. In order to guarantee that the cow has a happy life. Regardless of the fact that India is one of the world’s biggest – if not the biggest – beef exporting nation. However, it seems more like these measures are meant to oppose Muslims, who allegedly are the powers behind the Indian beef industry.

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To me, it also seems the women are still treated rather strangely in India. They do not seem to be met at eye-level, there is always the insinuation that they are second-class persons. Sexuality is rather absent from public life, so it seems that the society is a rather prudish one.

And apparently, this causes friction, at least among the male population. In order to avoid escalation, you get separated compartments for women in the often over-crowded metro. Just like there are compartments that may only be used by disabled persons or cancer patients. These are easy to recognize by the symbol for cancer, which is a big circle with a huge crab in the middle and the handicapped symbol we, too, are familiar with.

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We, however, being Westerners, mostly go places by car (a white Toyota six-seater) and consequently spend (too) much time on the streets of Mumbai. Somehow or other, there is no alternative. Even if we go only short distances, it takes quite long, because of the traffic jams. The ever-present AC makes it bearable.

Our driver works for a company that is a sub-company of a sub-company of a very big company. They also drive for Western companies. Formerly, these enterprises had their own cars and employed drivers. But that was expensive – although objectively it was very cheap. And then they started saving money and outsourcing.

Now, the combination driver/car is supplied as a full service by huge enterprises, using various providers. Some provide the cars, others the drivers and again others the service. The drivers get less money, the customers are less happy, but the enterprises make a mint. Basically, all services seem to be provided by huge service enterprises.

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Foreign companies in India mostly produce things that probably nobody will need any more in the near future, for instance turbines for steam engines. They are for coal-fired power stations. In fact, they mostly do not produce the high-end products. After all, who wants a steam turbine from India for his nuclear power station?

As early as May, the temperature is higher than 40 degrees Celsius, even in the office buildings where the engineers work and where the quality management and similar things take place. You have propellers on the ceilings, but no air conditioning. Because electricity is expensive in India. So it is no surprise that the customers are not always satisfied with how the projects are finished.

The representatives of the state are all friendly and eager to help, which is true for most of the people I met in this country. Allegedly, however, corruption has gigantic dimensions: they say that, without small or larger contributions, nothing goes.

Some families are incredibly rich. The truly rich persons can afford everything; the high import tax on luxury articles does not make the slightest difference. In some underground car parks, you will find a collection of the newest cars with the logos we know quite well, next to some vintage cars that look like they were new. The rich live in fenced communities. In the underground car parks of these areas, you will see entire brigades of people giving their luxury state coaches a new polish after each outing. I have not often seen so much car tin polished to high-gloss and shining chrome as during my few days in India.

More and more people get poorer and poorer. They live on streets that, to my perception, seem even dirtier than they used to be. People live in circumstances that almost defy description. As soon as, two weeks from now, the monsoon will arrive, their homes will regularly be under water.

Live is considerably better in the mostly self-administered slums. But it is not at all easy to get access. Especially if you have absolutely nothing.

At the crossroads and noisy streets, beggars are aplenty. Among them are women and children, elderly persons and handicapped persons. Some women carry a toddler or small child in their wraparound garment while begging. Strangely enough, those children always seem to doze. I never saw any of them cry or sob. Someone told me the babies get medication in order to make them peaceful when the beggaring is under way.

All of Mumbai has a funny odour. You could say it smells. Leaving the plane is not the only moment when you realize that this is so. It seems like the rubbish and dirt increases every year. And Mumbai is a noisy city.

On the 29th floor of the skyscraper, the smell of the city is a little less obvious, but, regardless of the so-called “sound proof window”, this is not true for the noise. On the cars, it often says “horn me” – and that is how it sounds, too.

In between all the common noise, both in the day and at night, you will occasionally get the shrill trumpets of the railway and the loud humming of the helicopters. They drive and fly both by day and night. The noise of the trains comes from below, that of the helicopters from all sides as they fly over or between the skyscrapers. And from above, the noise of regular air traffic will add to the ruckus. All of these contribute to, again and again, robbing me of my sleep in the hot Mumbai.

Some developments I seem to remember from home. Well, not quite as strongly as here. But at home, we also have notices for building contracts concerning public transport where providing the vehicles and the drivers are separate affairs. Especially as a biker, I notice that the plastic waste along our streets constantly gets more. Just like I discover more and more prestigious projects and a tendency towards gigantism by our administration. I also know laws that make no sense and politicians who are incompetent in Germany. And the fact that society drifts apart is not something unknown, either.

It seems like we are learning from the Indian example. But then, as I see it, this sort of “progress” and “growth”, which I am not at all in favour of, seems to happen all over the world: in India and Cuba, China and the USA, Italy and Portugal… And also in Germany.

Luckily, we at home have not yet reached the dimensions I witness in Mumbai. Yet the tendency seems to be the same. The question is: will we manage to turn around? In India, I see no hope that it might still happen.

When I last visited India late in 2013, one Euro still changed into more than 80 Rupies. Currently, I get 70. I ask myself how many Rupies I would still get for my Euro late in 2016? Perhaps only 60? However, since my last visit, life in India has not become any cheaper.

This makes me thoughtful. Perhaps the Indian society is actually the pattern after which the future will form itself –in our country, too?

And yet!

So far, our days in Mumbai were very nice. To be sure, we had a privileged life. I was annoyed to witness the circumstances as I related them. Because noise, smell, sitting in the car during traffic jams and similar things are not at all the world I feel comfortable with.

Yet it was a good time with very happy days. It was nice to share and experience so much with Barbara, my son and his family. And I was lucky enough to see many “Shiny Eyes” in the faces of many simple and certainly in those of poor people on the streets. That is also something to make me happy.

It is probably both the sad and nice thing about being human that we can stand and endure so much. And absurdly enough, we find it easier to be happy when we have less. And when we have to suffer a little. As soon as we are too well off, the shiny eyes disappear in expensive pubs and bars. And near the swimming pool, more often than not, the only shining eyes you sometimes see are among the children.

Consequently, you get happy eyes more often in Mumbai than on the streets of Munich. Basically, this is incredible. But then, I got the same impression during my bike tour through the west of Cuba a few months ago.

RMD

P.S.
I learned the term “Shiny Eyes“ from Nadja. With her work, Nadja wands to contribute towards “more shiny eyes”. As I see it, this is a wonderful idea.

The wrappings look nicer and nicer, yet the content gets weaker and weaker“

Airbus_A380-841 -LufthansaYesterday, I flew LH from Munich to Mumbai. Regardless of the GermanWings crash of Barcelona, the fear I felt was limited. The direct connection was uneventful – perhaps the landing was a little more robust than usual. Other than that, everything was as always.
But: one riddle has been solved for me.

I am not a frequent flyer, nor do I care very much about entertainment on board. As a general rule, what I have on my screen while dozing is the “flight info”. That is an image where the position of the flight and data such as flight altitude, outside temperature, speed and more is (used to be) displayed.

And consequently, I never understood why, among the passengers on board the Barcelona crash flight, there was no panic or uproar. Because if I imagine myself looking at a flight altitude of 1,000 metres on my flight info screen – and that directly before the Pyrenees – then I can easily imagine myself being bathed in cold sweat.

As of yesterday, I know that the new entertainment system of LH no longer makes such a thing possible. And that probably the crash flight already had the new system on board. Just like yesterday my flight from Munich to Mumbai had it.

The new system will provide the user with only very little information. You have a menu with four items to choose from: the display of connecting flights, two cameras you can watch and something called SmartFly whatever.

The screen for connecting flights had a notice that you will be able to see information on connections shortly before the end of the flight. As to the cameras: one of them probably was tilted downwards and the other towards the front. Neither of them rendered special information yesterday – there were clouds underneath and darkness up front. The fourth (smart) item showed virtual images – beautifully designed with a Lufthansa plane in the middle – about the area we were flying over with occasional names of cities. However, there were only three items of information.

Well, we are talking distance from destination, remaining flight time and current time. No flying speed and altitude. …

I am only writing about this because, to me, this development seems strongly representative for what generally happens in our society. There is less and less transparency, information is kept secret from us, everything is wrapped in cotton wool and delivered… and then we are told this is all in our best interest.

I do not like it. I would like to know what is happening, instead of always only being made a fool of. Even if facts are not pleasant. Just like I do not appreciate constantly being spied upon.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the picture from Wikpedia – but we flew a smaller Airbus.