Selfie Museum

We have learned that games are not only played for fun. So-called serious games have found their way into health applications where we might learn while playing a game of how to integrate more walking into our life in the city. While walking after work I happened to pass the Selfie Museum in Zagreb. In fact despite carrying the name of museum it is more an assembly of scenarios in which you can realize many selfies in different settings that have been prepared for that purpose. Hence your production of photo shooting with yourself as the major character is facilitated and you no longer have to spend a lot of time on the setups. Call it a museum and you’ll have more visibility and visitors.

Styles of selfies have changed and shooting very short videos to post on tiktok is of course easy there. A real threat to huge and expensive cinema studios considering the enormous reach some of these selfies can reach. It is a bit like a theatre with multiple stages for everybody to use at moderate costs. Before long we shall come to realize the potential for many more interested in theatre to become actors and directors themselves. Democratize the world of theatre is the new social dimension here. Test yourself in another profession through playful interaction. Test and learn about other competencies. We are in the middle of the next wave of “gameification” previously reserved to people ready to accept higher risks of likely failure. The young can now take their parents to the museum and show off their culture and skills. Intergenerational learning has a new aspect as well. The sociology of the virtual has another phenomenon to evaluate.

Zahgreb 2023-12 Selfie museum

Arms trade

The sustainability of war depends a lot on the availability of arms. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) publishes regularly updated data on arms trade. The report ranks countries who are the most important exporters as well as importers of arms (from 2018-2022). The lists show for exporters that the U.S has been at the top of exporters with 40% of the global export share followed by Russia with 16%. France 11%, China 5.2, Germany 4.2 come next on the list. Taken together Italy, Spain and the U.K. reach another 10% jointly of global exports. South Korea and Israel come in with shares of 2.4 and 2.3 respectively. The top ten serve allies but also more broadly the world arms trade and race. New dynamics have started to come into force. The Russian aggression and war on Ukraine territory will have an impact to the extent that Russia is probably exporting less and shift to a more importing state.
Among the importing countries India is leading the ranking followed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. More generally Asia and the Middle East were the most important buying countries. Importing arms might be interpreted as an indicator of perceived threat to a country. Long cycles of arms renewal may also drive statistics of arms trade, but new threats like cybersecurity and space technology have created new fields of potential attack and defence.
All in all, yet another rationale attributed to Clausewitz seems to play a role in driving the arms trade. “If you are perceived to be weak, an enemy will use this to attack”. Well, this also means that buying arms, producing or importing them, could deter a military aggression. That form of deterrence of aggression is known from the nuclear arms race as well. In the realm of conventional weapons, we have thought, it would no longer apply. We were mistaken in this respect. The dividend of peace has come to an end for many countries. The SIPRI report (2003, summary p.9) shows the continued rise on the global level of the arms trade. Why are we so scared of each other? Russia has reverted to imperial politics using conventional weapons. Containing such disrespect of internal law needs our full attention to avoid a spreading to other areas. The link of diplomacy and trade needs close scrutiny.


In societies it is not easy to derive collective preferences of citizens. Elections every 4 years tell sometimes nothing on specific issues which were not debated or of sufficient relevance at the time of the election. Dealing with snow and slippery sidewalks is hardly an issue at all. However, the preference to clear roads meticulously rather than bicycle and pedestrian paths in a dead end road reveals preferences for „s‘heilig Blechle“ the holy tin box (car) in many cities. Our orthopedic units in hospitals are crowded at such times and those costs are hardly attributed to the source of human negligence for fellow humans. We would expect that aging societies start to address such topics but little change has occurred so far. Hence we claim airbags for pedestrians and cyclists😂. Preferences probably have changed already but implementation is slow and faces strong opposition as well. It’s always easier to lock frail persons into their apartments at such snowy times. It feels a bit like corona where it was also easier to restrict mobility for pedestrians and children than to deal properly with the virus. Aggregation of preferences in societies remains a challenge and sociology has a lot to offer in this regard.

Energy Storage

News agent Reuters has published an analysis of the setback for short peak coverage of electricity by power plants fueled with gas. Conclusion: economically no longer viable. Investors draw back even from contracts already signed. What is the game changer technology here. Batteries that store energy just like the batteries of millions of cats that have a storage capacity to supply energy for a whole household for more than 2 days. Other giant batteries cost only half the price compared to 5 years ago equal to $150 per kwh. In five years solar energy doubled its share of energy production to now reach the same amount as energy provision by gas.
Reaching a critical turning point in energy generation, investors flock to the more profitable medium or long-term investment. Good news for the planet. Wind and the sun are all around us. We have only started to cover roof tops of office buildings, car parks and other shelters. Start thinking about your energy storage as of now and reserve a suitable space for it. Costs are coming down rapidly in a few years or maybe only a few months.

Twitter Retreat

There are many migrating species in nature. Birds form a large part of the them. This follows a kind of annual or seasonal pattern. Depending on the migration experience and dangers some, sometimes many don’t come back. This seems to describe the migration experience of the tweeting bird called twitter. Changing the name from Twitter to X, whereby X for maths-oriented people stands for a variable name that can be filled with any value. For the cinema industry X stands for x-rated adult only content and has rather obnoxious content. This might hold for web content as well.
Online through “ the disastrous consequences of harsh human resource policies and lack of political sensitivity can be followed. Multiplying biased opinions of right-wing extremists, the platform has been highjacked and many tweeting birds leave or have left already.
Leaving is not easy though. People and enterprises have invested substantial amounts of money into tweeting and software developers have created specialised features to make it easy to spread press releases or info via these add-on services. I myself benefitted from services to show my tweets on my webpage or to easily publish info or links to the webpage. As of now, with migrating away most of these investments will be lost. It was smooth and easy, but now we start this all over again with other comparable platforms and assistance from developers. Mastodon and Bluesky are on the rise as alternative platforms and most likely we shall use both for some time just like Netzpolitik and many others. If already 1/3 of users intend to leave Twitter/X the impact of big advertisers leaving the platform has even more impact. After all they pay for reaching potentially millions of platform users, but now they reach only a steeply biased subset of previous users. Deleting the Twitter/X app saves you from other potential unwanted monitoring or tracking. Only the addresses on Mastodon for example are a bit longer like Decentral monitoring of illicit undesirable content has advantages and disadvantages. We shall have to monitor this a bit ourselves and contribute more actively to save such platforms from bad weather or seasonal migration.

APP Circus

We are all keen to have as many APPs as possible on our Smartphones. Instead of collecting post stamps some of us collect APPs on our mobile devices as well as desktop computers. As with almost all so-called for free software, the APPs are not for free, we just pay with our personal information used for some usually not disclosed other purposes. On webpages we are used to at least confirm that we agree to the use. Alternatively, we should have the option to decline the use of transmitting personal information, user analytics or tracking. The organisation “” has published a short overview article on the results of the research by  Konrad Kollnig published in Internet Policy Review. The main message is: even 5 years after the adoption of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) little has changed for the tracking and data collection in the world of APPs. Both Apple store IOS and Google Play Android are concerned.
In contrast to webpages APPs a vast majority of APPs, which we perhaps thought would provide tracking-free access to services, does in fact use “secretly” the tracking. Additionally, many APPs transmit personal information and credit card details even without encryption. A so-called middle man attack would “listen” to the transmission and potentially abuse the accessed information. The proof of the abuse of your financial details will be on the side of the consumer, completely ignorant of the potential threat from all sorts of APPs. This market is evolving with rapid speed and what used to be at the top in 2022 is no longer at the top in 2023.
Based on an online query for France on 2023-11-28 via the data reveal interesting market insights. Gaming is making a new push on the APP-market again. TIKTOK still remains fairly high up in the ranking. Conversion from free download to paid versions seems to work in several instances as well. It needs to be checked whether the paid versions do use less tracking and provide better overall security. A frugal use or regular checking whether you really need all those APPs you have currently installed on your device should reduce your very own cybersecurity risk. It seems like “Less can be more” – fewer  APPS, more security – is also valid in this respect.


Over a generation the association with the word mail or AI has changed. Younger generations will automatically think of email as the obvious association with “you have got mail”. Asking people for their mail address, most people will respond immediately with their email account. That has certainly changed over the last 20 years. Email has become extraordinarily important for contacts, content and “crime”. The original set-up of mail servers were supposed to exchange data and information between trusted and trusting individuals. Nowadays we have become “anyone” on an email-list or part of a cascading email-chain. Pishing emails that try to lure us to potentially fake webpages to enter personal information is widespread. A whole new industry of cybersecurity has evolved in parallel with ever faster pingpong of new threats and costly remedies. Most critical remains the human factor to protect email and vital information from abuse. All training to better manage email should therefore begin with awareness building on the need to take cybersecurity seriously right from the beginning. It is not an issue to deal with towards the end of learning about it. Some general points have become common practice. Think carefully if you need to open the mail. Check whether there are external links in it. Do you really need this extra information? Be careful about the number of persons you forward or put in the copy field of your mail.

Unfortunately the simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) makes it technically fairly easy to abuse email addresses and send an email from a domain name which you do not own. Same holds true for the content of emails. Originally only basic letters and numbers were allowed, no Umlaut etc. But then the “multipurpose internet mail extensions” (MIME) enabled more formats of attachments and illicit links and files within the email content.

In consequence it became necessary to scan emails en masse for malware and obnoxious content. Hence the quality of your email programs reveals itself with the amount of spam you still receive. Next come the email filters that sort your inbox for spam and other modern plagues like unwanted newsletters or notifications.

In consequence we sometimes wonder that we never received certain emails albeit the person sending it reiterated that the email was sent. Even checking your spam folder in the email program might not solve the issue because your receiving email server has been instructed not to accept emails from previously unknown mail servers. Not much you can do about this as an individual person, you mail server is just not on the so-called white list from which to accept incoming emails.

With a mail address from the big national or international companies you have little to worry about in this respect. Smaller companies or organizations might suddenly face a thorny issue if their i@xy.z address appears on a dubious list. You will end up sending but nobody receives your emails. It might take you quite some time to find out about it and even more to fix the issue. Hence the take home message is, have more than one email address registered on different mail servers to check that sending out and receiving emails works properly for you. Managing an own webpage with email service for members or employees is a nice service, but beware of the implications for cyber security as well.

Once upon a time we drafted letters to 1-2 friends 🫠

Beer Temple

Brussels has recently opened a new attraction. A splendid temple-like building devoted to the unnamed God of beer-drinking. The renovation over several years of the centrally located “Bourse” has created a new popular attraction right in the centre of Brussels. From the outside the building reflects the classical temple architecture from Greek and Roman times. Although the building was for a long time the trading place of shares, obligation and currencies and thereby very closely linked to a country’s wealth and economic fate, it has found a new destination to represent the diverse and spirited culture of the people or peoples of Belgium through the lens of a beer glass. Of course, this is surrealism à la Magritte et al. (Museum and galleries within walking distance). The shifting fate after a financial crash to transform the “Stock Exchange” into a temple of surrealistic experiences is great idea and its realisation as popular move to transform the stock market into a temple to worship beer, beer drinking and conviviality a great idea. Without joking, the restaurant in the temple proposes good food that can be matched with a selection of 30+ kinds of Belgian beer (including 4 non-alcohol-containing beers).
Framing beer drinking culture differently from the image of beer and football hooligans is hard to achieve. Public images of beer drinking on television are all around us, anew every weekend. The Brussels stock exchange is a great place to reflect on shareholder versus stakeholder issues. Brussels has opted for a popular conversion of the building. Paris has gone for the upmarket more exclusive transformation of the previous stock exchange (Bourse commerciale) into a gallery of modern art from the private Pinault foundation.
The museum of beer in the upper ranks of the building in Brussels offers even tastings we were told. Well, beer drinking and stock trading (gambling) have both addictive potentials. Ruining yourself, the one or the other way, is equally disastrous not only for yourself but potentially others.
Know your limits is easier said than done. It is a behavioural phenomenon for individuals as well as regions or whole countries. With the apparent “Limits to Growth” for our planet or our ways to trade, even praying in the renewed beer temple is unlikely to solve the bitter-sweet issue. Perhaps discussions in the new Brussels temple will spur new coalitions and stimulate new ideas to overcome the locked-in political trading positions.  Maybe the European Parliament should have a futuristic surreal session in the historic site. The only problem is, they would no longer want to return to their usual forum for debates.


„These were the days my friends, we thought they’d never end …“ And yet the Concorde served for decades as a massively polluting aircraft for those paying or had their flights paid be their enterprises to cross the Atlantic ocean. Yes it was the fastest way, but we learned that it didn’t really make sense. After a technical default with an explosion the entire craze got stopped. Now next to Orly airport the remainders of this undoubted design highlight is exposed. It serves more as a warning that not all technical innovations are viable as commercial or ecological innovations. The delta-design as aircraft is still the most common design children play around with as paper models. Wing designs have made progress to adapt the bent end on each wing. So should do our paper models of them. The Concorde is also a perfect example to learn from concerning the link between “Society and Technology”. Similar mistakes seem to occur still today. “When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn…”.

Concorde near Orly airport France 2023

CO2 Footprint of Books

In view of the worldwide size of book publishing we should also keep an eye on the CO2 footprint of book publishing. The Italian association of publishers gave a brief overview of the likely CO2 footprint the printing of a book causes. Their best guess is at ½ a kilo of CO2 on average. For simplicity of calculation and assuming that an editors’ association is unlikely to overstate the amount, let us assume it is 1 Kg CO2 per book. The most CO2 is consumed not in the book production but in the transport of the items, machinery and personnel involved in producing, editing, selling etc. Of course, paper is recycled to a large amount. Certified sustainability of paper from trees has become a standard in most countries.
Nice twist to the issue: your own library at home has become a CO2 storage, if you keep them or lend them or pass them on to others. Reading can be a little bit addictive and buying books as well. Reading online or electronic books reduces your CO2 footprint. The best way to imagine the reduction of your CO2 footprint, however, is to buy or to borrow a book on travelling which replaces the actual journal by reading on the couch. Yes, being a couch potato is good for the planet, and if you want to buy a book, walk to the book shop or the library if possible. If you enjoyed flying previously shift over to buying books on planes, airports, clouds in images or stories that involve extensive travelling instead for the sake of your own CO2 footprint and future generations.
Even a book will need somehow wood as input, many alternative ways of leisure time or professional activities are worse in terms of CO2 footprint. Any e-book, e-journal or e-newspaper is even better for the planet, especially if we think of the millions of paper copies across the world that are printed but never sold. Knowing your market is crucial to reduce misallocation of ressources. E-books are so much easier to store as well using regenerative energy for the content servers around the world.

Civil Protection

A lot of important activities do not receive the attention they deserve. During a humanitarian crisis, Europe frequently acts with varying involvement of Member States. This holds true in droughts, inundations, earth quakes, civil wars or imperialist state conflicts. The extent and time of commitment are an additional and differentiating element. Coordination of such activities is important for those wanting to help and those asking or receiving assistance. Efforts, equipment and political support vary enormously as well. There is a need to approach this topic more strategically. The Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network (UCPKN) goes a long way to attempt to find a common language, data infrastructure and responses in this respect. It surely is important to go beyond the piecemeal approach of the past to be able to address emergencies in multiple kinds more effectively. It is, however, also in some instances a highly controversial issue as well. For each term in this old (Tschernobyl nuclear disaster) and still novel field (Fukushima) for joint activities, we have to come up with compromises of definitions.
For example, what constitutes an emergency? Does the climate crisis and disasters related to it already constitute an emergency now? Some say yes, we have to act now to avoid bigger floods and wild fires as of next year. Others, do not want to tackle the root causes, but rather focus on curing actual devastating effects of disasters.
We are back to a well-known topic of preventive rather than curative approaches. In the meantime, we are convinced that we have to commit more resources to both approaches: immediate relief and structural change to prevent an otherwise never-ending sequence of disasters in varying places.
Most important probably is the keeping of address books and fast digital networking facilities to react and communicate with the competent institutions and civil organisations. Beyond the involvement and linking of experts in the field, the larger public and volunteers make up for additional invaluable resources to act.
It is crucial to make it possible for decentral links between cities like in city partnerships to be involved. Building on existing human to human links motivates and mobilises huge additional resources. Of course, continuous training is a very important element in all those efforts. We should embrace it in the private and public sector, at school and in retirement even. (Image: Extrait de Peter Paul Rubens La chute des géants MRBAB, Brussels)

World in Common

The Tate Modern Gallery in London has an exhibition of photography on display which challenges our Western view of art works. With a focus on photography and African photographers it is complementary to the many other photo exhibitions. We have a world in common, says the title of the exhibition. The images, however, reveal another vision of African photographers. Other perspectives on beauty, architecture and the distribution of wealth and waste across the world becomes explicit. Beyond the documentary effect of a lively African scene of photography and past colonialism the forward-looking vision of African photographers is also evident. Colours and Imagination of a unique kind allow us to look beyond the current state of affairs. Rising from the ashes and western waste the colours of Africa will prevail.
Only through the force to imagine a different trajectory for the continent we shall eventually be able to see new flowers blooming.
Positive images have to be put in front of the “negativity bias” in Western media when reporting about African countries. The light, the sun, the sea and coast lines, all can contribute to the rise of Africa in various ways. The photographers in the Tate exhibition demonstrate an impressive power to go beyond the day-to-day topics.
Broadening our scope of visuals with more images from Africa certainly are  fist steps to enlarge the spectrum of photography and art. A chance to browse through the catalogue allows to go back from time to time to counter our usual stereotypes. (Image taken from Tate catalogue A world in common, 2023 Muluneh Aida 2018 p. 202-3).


Bereits in 2009 folgte das Buch „Kriegsenkel – Die Erben der vergessenen Generation“ auf das Buch über die Kriegskinder 2004 von Sabine Bode. Im Vorwort zur 9. Auflage in 2014 wird deutlich wie sehr es weiterhin nötig ist, sich mit Familienlegenden und Familienbeziehungen zu befassen, wahrscheinlich auch wegen des lieben Familienfriedens willen. Selbst etwas überraschend berichtet Sabine Bode, dass so viele Kriegsenkel das Buch über die Kriegskinder gelesen und diskutiert haben. Es ginge dabei nicht um Schuldzuweisungen, sondern eher darum, sich über eigene Verunsicherungen, Unausgesprochenes und bisher Unbewusstes klar zu werden. Sabine Bode schreibt über die „Familiengespenster“ oder wie der Titel des ersten Kapitals heißt. „Gespenster aus der Vergangenheit“. Otfried Preussler mit seiner Mitläuferbiografie hat mit dem kleinen Gespenst versucht, eine positive Wendung für Familiengespenster, zumindest als Fiktion zu generieren. Der Versuch einer beispielhaften Immunisierung gegen NS-Versuchungen bringt dann sein etwas düsteres Buch Krabat.
Sabine Bode interviewte auch die Kriegsenkel und berichtet von einem bei vielen vorhandenen „verunsichertes Lebensgefühl“. (S.21). Sicherlich ist die sexuelle Revolution in den späten 60er und 70er Jahren viel daran beteiligt, dass die Kriegsenkel weniger und viele keine Kinder bekommen. Dennoch lässt sich nicht ausschließen, die Verunsicherung der Kriegsenkel hat ebenfalls zu dem Rückgang der Geburtenraten beigetragen. Das ist allerdings kein einfaches empirisches Unterfangen. Starke Rückgänge der Fertilität in Kriegsalliierten Nationen Japan und Italien weisen in eine vergleichbare Richtung, aber es lassen sich auch Gegenbeispiele aufführen. Verunsicherung der Identität der Eltern kann sich noch bei den Kindern als Orientierungslosigkeit äußern. Bode zitiert selbst (S.22) aus einem Theaterstück von Fehling über das Beziehungsgefälle zwischen Kriegskinder und Kriegsenkel. Die Enkelin gesteht darin etwas frustriert, Sorgen macht sich ihre Mutter gerne, „aber immer nur um sich selbst“. Anders als intrinsisches Mitgefühl eignet sich das Kriegskind lediglich die Missgeschicke der anderen an, sozusagen in der Relevanz für sie selbst. Weitere anekdotische Evidenz dazu weist auf einen hohen Wiedererkennungsgrad dieser Geschichte hin. „Risiken und Nebenwirkungen“ eben auch für die Kriegsenkel und Kriegsenkelinnen.


Müll Klischees

Die Deutschen lieben ihren Müll. In kaum einem anderen Land wird so liebevoll der Müll getrennt, wie hier. Wir erinnern uns alle an die sorgfältig gespülten Joghurtbecher, die in der Plastiktüte im Plastikmüllbehälter entsorgt werden. Seit der Covid-19 Pandemie haben wir ein runderneuertes Verhältnis zu den „essentiellen Berufen und Tätigkeiten“, die unsere Gesellschaft am Laufen halten, wenn sonst fast alles zum Erliegen gekommen ist. Die seit 2019 laufende Fernsehserie „Die 3 von der Müllabfuhr“ hat einen erstaunlichen Erfolg im deutschen Fernsehen. Mit „Views“, die von 3-5 Millionen Fernsehschauenden reichen ist das ein Quotenbringer im 1. Was sagt uns das außer wir lieben unseren Müll. … und das ist gut so. Für den Erfolg der Serie ist neben dem historisch angelehnten Titel „Die 3 von der Tankstelle“ von 1930 mit Heinz Rühmann wohl auch die Arbeitsatmosphäre, die menschlichen Umgangsformen und die Umgangssprache, die anschlussfähige Art der Fernsehserie. Beliebte Schauspieler, allen voran Uwe Ochsenknecht mit seiner beeindruckenden Filmografie, lassen mehrere Generationen beim Zappen dort anhalten. Dabei kann der Müllmann bei den Einschaltquoten noch nicht zu dem Bergdoktor (in Spitze 7 Mio) aufschließen. Müll ist eben doch nicht ganz so kitschig, oder so sexy, aber der Umgang unter Kollegen, zu wenig Kolleginnen übrigens, hat mich einem schlechten Image in der Gesellschaft zu kämpfen. Abzuwarten, ob sich an dem Image der Müllabfuhr durch die Medien doch etwas ändern lässt. Der körperliche Verschleiß durch die harte körperliche Arbeit macht sich meist erst in den späteren Arbeitsjahren bemerkbar. Da wird verständlich, warum die Erhöhung des Rentenalters diesen Berufsgruppen wie ein Schlag ins Gesicht vorkommen muss. Eigene organisations-, gesundheits- und arbeitswissenschaftliche Studien mit Befragungen hatten bereits vor 10 Jahren nahegelegt, dass der erhöhte Krankenstand im fortgeschrittenen Alter sich nur mit umfassenden präventiven Maßnahmen eingrenzen lässt. Gabis Spätkauf ist in der Berlin-Schöneberger Realität auch eher ein Frühstückslokal, wo es noch einige Tageszeitungen gibt. Die Verdichtung von Arbeitsprozessen und Privatisierungen in der Müllbranche setzen diese Tätigkeiten weiterem Stress aus. Das ist aber ein eher undankbares Thema für einen Freitagabend im 1. Deutschen Fernsehen entsprechend der klischeehaften Erwartung der Fernsehschauenden.


Die Recherchen zu den Nachkriegseltern von Miriam Gebhardt haben eine  persönliche und geschichtsschreibende Funktion. Die Zusammenfassung der Erfahrungen der Nachkriegseltern aus Biografien und Tagebüchern aus dem Literaturarchiv Marbach haben ein interessantes Psychogramm einer Generation von Eltern entstehen lassen, die sich meistens überhaupt nicht der Prägung durch die menschenverachtende, nationalsozialistische Ideologie bewusst waren und viele immer noch auch sind. Gut recherchiert und mit zahlreichen Originalquellen unterlegt beschreibt sie die Schweigsamkeit und Fokussierung auf wirtschaftlichen Erfolg dieser Generation von Eltern. Familienorientierung und Fixierung auf beruflichen Erfolg war gepaart mit traditionellen Rollenbildern von Frauen in sekundären Funktionen.
Spannend sind darüber hinaus die Anspielungen, wie die Erfahrungen unserer Väter und Mütter uns, die Babyboomer, bis heute prägen. Statusdenken überall, oben und unten in den Hierarchien klar bestimmt. Das christlich-konservative Menschenbild prägt vielfach neben den Eltern eben noch die Kindergeneration der Nachkriegseltern.
Wichtig bleibt es daher, sich dieser überkommenen pädagogischen Methoden bewusst zu werden, damit es keinen Automatismus des Weitertragens geben wird. Die Angst der Nachkriegseltern, die Akten und Beweise der Gerichtsprozesse oder Entnazifizierung einzusehen oder anzuerkennen, bezeichnet den meist verdrängten Gewissenskonflikt dieser Generation der Nachkriegseltern. Auf den Seiten 64-67 wird die Auswirkung der Gewaltgeschichte Deutschlands in der ersten Hälfte des 20.-ten Jahrhunderts, auf die Fähigkeit mit Emotionen umzugehen, bezogen.
Empathielosigkeit und mangelnde Fähigkeit zum Gefühlsausdruck begründet die erstaunliche Sprachlosigkeit einer Generation, wenn es um die Verbrechen der Nazizeit geht. Als geradezu tragisch bezeichnet Gebhardt die Empathielosigkeit gegenüber den eigenen Kindern und oft noch den Enkelkindern. Wegducken, Verschweigen und Wegdrücken scheint weiterhin die Prämisse. Miriam Gebhardt gelingt es vielleicht, eine Gesprächsbasis zu legen, die die Generationen zum besseren Verständnis aufnehmen könnten. Wahrscheinlich werden sich darüber aber lediglich die Kinder und Enkelkinder der Nachkriegseltern austauschen und versuchen, mehr emotionale Wärme in die Familienstuben zu bringen.  (DLF-Interview, BR-Video Interview)

Flotow Jazzy

Es war wohl nur eine Frage der Zeit bis mir der Suchalgorithmus diverser Plattformen eine Jazzvariante einer Melodie von Flotow raussuchen und vorschlagen würde. In Verbindung mit einem Abstecher an Flotows Ehrengrabmal in Darmstadt war es dann so weit. Der überraschende Vorschlag eines Arrangements, das gleich mehrere Melodien von Flotow zitierte, war erstaunlich, aber eher gedacht für FreundInnen von Jazzimprovisationen, die Spaß an Kompositions- und Improvisationstechniken haben.
Die Beteiligung der Bayerischen Philharmoniker an der Produktion zeigt, was in den 70er und 80er Jahren so alles möglich war. Cross-over zwischen Musikstilen war sehr willkommen. Das ist meiner Einschätzung nach sogar noch vielfältiger geworden, aber nicht unbedingt häufiger. Also habe ich mich anregen lassen, die Herausforderung anzunehmen. Der Beginn schien mir zunächst wenig gelungen, die Referenz zu der bekannten Flotow-melodie nur am Rande hör- und erkennbar. Das Experiment wurde rasch zu einem anspruchsvollen Musikrätsel. Wie viele Melodien oder Werke wurden zitiert? Das wird zu einer musikanalytischen Aufgabe, die nicht so rasch zu lösen ist.
Für Personen, die wenig mit Flotow vertraut sind, wird das Rätsel vielleicht erst gegen Ende der Einspielung überhaupt als klassische, romantische Vorlage erkannt. Trick gelungen: Klassik mag ich nicht, aber das da schon. Das kann also vielleicht sogar Generationen zusammenbringen.
Der Arrangeur und Pianist Eugen Cicero, ein aus dem sozialistischen Rumänien geflohener Pianist und Komponist hat sicherlich in der oft als Trauermelodie bezeichneten Arie „Die letzte Rose“ Trost und Inspiration gefunden.
Laut seiner Biografie gab es dazu eventuell Anlass, die Selbsttötung seiner Stieftochter mit 14 Jahren. Letztere Geschichte ist in dem Roman und Kinofilm „Chritiane F. – Die Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo“ ein Hintergrundmaterial gewesen. Vielen ist dieser Film in unvergesslich tragischer Erinnerung geblieben. Die Fentanyl-krise in USA und beginnend in Europa ruft solche Schrecken ebenfalls wieder in Erinnerung.
Die Discografie zu Flotow und die Verarbeitung durch Flotow der ursprünglichen irischen Volksliedvorlage könnte copyright-Expertinnen heute schier zur Verzweiflung bringen (Transponieren von D-Dur nach F-Dur erweckt mehr Tiefe statt Leichtigkeit und mehr Koloratur haben daraus einen internationalen operngängigen Hit gemacht, siehe Druckauszüge hier). Zu solchen Anlehnungen entwickeln sich heutzutage ganz umfassende Rechtsprechungen, die durch KI-unterstützte oder geschriebene Melodien nochmal etwas komplizierter werden. Einfach ignorieren geht nicht mehr. Das kann sehr teuer werden. Es bleibt uns ein passendes interdisziplinäres Lehrstück zum Thema Musik, Komposition und Gesellschaft.

Publishing in War

The right to publish without censorship is one of the first rights that suffers during wars. This has been the case since warfare has used communication as a strategic weapon. Therefore, it is important to research the often, subtle forms of control and censorship applied before and particularly during each war. The printed press was the prime target due to the scope of readers that can be reached timely and repetitively. From the history of how to silence critical voices we can learn about the proceedings, which even today find lots of authoritarian regimes copying these methods.
Using many illustrations from the 1st and 2nd world war in Belgium, 3 major forms of resistance to censorship become apparent. (1) The most obvious is closing down a newspaper rather than endure censorship and thereby being forced to contribute to war propaganda. (2) With risk to their own life, many people in the resistance movements relied on information to actively counter the worsening conditions of life and oppression of opinions or criticisms. (3) The third way at these times consisted in quitting the active contributions, but it incurred the danger that in fact the newspaper continued to appear as before, although with lenient journalists and editors. Today we would frame the latter form of continued appearance of a journal as “continued as fake news”. However, the issue is more complicated than that. Apparently, the readership needed still access to vital information of how to get access to food stamps or other day-to-day necessities including distraction from the horrors of war as it became an enduring feature of life.
This is my short summary of the inspection of some of the historical newspapers that are available with online access and the most valuable summaries provided by Emmanuel Debruyne and Fabrice Maerten in their blog entries on the overview pages linked to the “Belgian War Press” project. These are also valuable sources that hint at war crimes committed at these times as the collaborating press did not shun away from bragging about crimes. The clandestine press was also important to coordinate the various resistance movements and spread ideas of how contributions could be made to weaken the occupying criminal forces.
At times of communication via internet, in addition to the printing press, the war of communication needs much more resources above all digital-savvy resistance movements. A huge task to train people time to enable them to identify fake news and careful exercise of spreading correct and verified information nowadays.
Image Source: Extrait du « Bulletin Intérieur du Front de l’Indépendance », daté 15-11-1942, CEGESOMA BG85, Brussel.

Over tourism

There are a few very popular places that many people want to see or experience by themselves. In the Moselle valley Bernkastel-Kues is such a place. The small mediaeval market place with tiny houses, built with massive wooden structures attract a lot of visitors. Arriving by car or bus has created a mess around the place. Arrival by ship is even worse. Masses of people make a short stop and pour into the small city. Many places that become popular through Instagram, tik-tok or vimeo or youtube videos have a similar fate. Over tourism is no fun for locals. Some business interests thrive selling gadgets made in China to more and more Chinese tourist groups. This is probably the worst- case scenario.
Watching the ships pass by is somehow the better option. Watching the rowing sportspersons is even more interesting. Reflecting on sustainable development is a by-product. Tourism of the masses is part of the problem, Rowing couples part of the solution.

Ant population

Studying ant populations is a fascinating topic. Structures of these populations reveal various functions, each pursuing its own goals. Albeit the whole system is not breaking down due to well organised ways of communication. From a bird’s perspective human populations appear a bit similar to ant populations. Maybe our sets of tools we use for building accommodation for our species have an extended repertory. Our mass media might facilitate instant spreading of messages to all members of a specific community and even beyond our own hive. Watching a video of people moving around on a large square,

we are puzzled that there are almost no accidents occurring even over longer time spells. Speed adjustment is key. Respect for the other person’s trajectory is yet another precondition for the sake of the benefits for all. Even different modes of transport bicycles, scooters and the tram find their way crossing the square.
There seems to be an optimal way of adaptation to the more or less crowded place. A construction site may restrict the available space, but the crowd has little choice but to circumvent the obstacle. Climate or simple weather change necessitate adaptations. On a warm autumn day many persons decide to walk after work or school. The physiology of the population has an impact on speed patterns. Communication and meeting people is another function of the square. All these parameters are important elements of urban planning and a city’s adaptation to climate change. Cooling trees will structure meeting points and walking paths if there is too much sunshine in summer. Adaptation is easy if you start to adapt early.


In einigen Städten gibt es ganze Listen mit Städtepartnerschaften.  Diese werden mit sehr unterschiedlicher Leidenschaft gepflegt. Berlin-Kiew ist eine Partnerschaft, die erst seit 2022 wieder richtig wichtig geworden ist. Solidarität mit den Menschen, Schicksale teilen und Unterstützung gewähren, wenn es nötig ist,.Das alles lässt sich einfacher bewerkstelligen bei etablierten Kontakten. Verantwortung für Vergangenheit und zwischenmenschliche Beziehungen überwinden viele Barrieren. Die deutsch-französischen Partnerschaften bilden ein weitgespanntes Netz, das viel zur Verständigung der Menschen beigetragen hat. Deutsch-polnische Partnerschaften ergänzen seit einigen Jahren die gegenseitigen Besuche und Kontakte, die die so wichtige Aussöhnung zwischen den Völkern befördert, gerade in Zeiten von konfliktbeladener Regierungspolitik.
Es reicht nicht, wenn Schulklassen einmal von West nach Ost oder umgekehrt fahren. Zum beiderseitigen Verständnis braucht es mehr Anstrengungen. „Spiele ohne Grenzen“, die populäre Art mit Spaß bei der Sache einen Wettstreit inszenieren, das hat in den 70er Jahren gut funktioniert. Feste feiern mit interregionalem Austausch ist ebenfalls eine interessante Alternative. Straßennamen Plätze mit dem Namen der Partnerschaft helfen wenig für wirkliche Verständigung. Okay, die Nazis hatten die Städtepartnerschaften zu übler Propaganda missbraucht, zur Indoktrination und Machtdemonstration in anfangs noch widerspenstigen Regionen. Gerade deswegen müssen wir andere Modelle der Verständigung anregen, die das Menschliche in den Vordergrund stellen. Lange Zugfahrten können Anregungen bringen, aber wer kann schon so viel Anregung noch vertragen.

Human Rights

At times of war it is even more important to highlight the importance of respect of human rights. Russia continues to bombard civilians and destroys infrastructure that heats and feeds millions of people. Hamas in the Middle-East has killed more than a thousand civilians in Israel. Pushing violence beyond limits without respect of basic human rights is a very dangerous path for all human beings. Structures within each society need to take care of respect of these limits. The rule of law is fragile in authoritarian states or outright discarded. This makes human rights violations especially in wars or warlike conflict even more likely. The Human Rights Film Festival Berlin attempts to raise awareness to the facts of human rights violation wherever they occur across the globe. Following the link you have a chance to view some of the films online. The online flipbook allows to turn the pages of the magazine, which accompanies the film festival and provides a lot of additional information on the various categories. The section on the deep fakes is demonstrating how the use of fake news and fake images have an influence on us. The intensity of such fake news usually rises when elections approach in democracies. European elections will be seriously endangered through this kind of interference by Russian computerized disinformation networks and China is catching up on such misuse and systematic blocking of free information to its citizens. We shall have to be even more attentive to details in information and misinformation campaigns. Trusted websites and information channels of mass media have to step up their cybersecurity defences. Even small sites like this one have a responsibility to guard against abuses. In opening up the comments on the blog entries only for some time had the consequences of deleting “hundreds” of spam entries and undercover advertisements offering links to malicious sites. Filtering such spam is a professional task and has relatively high costs involved. A potential threat to the freedom of opinion and freedom of speech. Support for film makers and documentalists is important to strengthen the support of human rights.(Image: Human Rights Festival Magizine p.18 by Jenny Brunner, HateAid)


Wie weit sind wir mit der Angleichung der Lebensverhältnisse in Ost und West im Jahre 33 der Wiedervereinigung. Berlin liegt ja immer noch mitten im Osten der Republik. Da sollten sich im Osten der Stadt die Veränderungen seit der Wende bis zur Zeitenwende 2022 studieren lassen. Gebaut wurde viel. Das war, was viele vergessen haben, für Personen, die in der Nähe wohnen oft eine ziemliche Belastung. Wenn die Gebäude oder Infrastruktur dann endlich errichtet sind, denken wir, jetzt kehrt der Alltag wieder ein. Doch das ist oft weit gefehlt. Nehmen wir mal als Beispiel den neuen Bahnhof Gesundbrunnen in Berlin Nord. Alles neu, ein paar undichte Stellen am Dach, sonst funktioniert der Umsteigebahnhof recht reibungslos. Ein großes Einkaufszentrum in der Nähe mit den üblichen großen Handelsketten. Im Bahnhof wird der Reisende mit McDonalds Fastfood und einem Biomarkt empfangen. Das sieht eher nach Westen aus. Es gibt sogar keine Currywurst mehr in der Bahnhofshalle. Kulturschock für einige. Dazu noch die Abfahrten mit internationaler Destination jenseits der sowjetischen Großfamilie der kommunistisch verbundenen Länder.
Fotos können diese Eindrücke oft besser verdeutlichen als viel Text. Daher die kleine Bildergalerie mit Eindrücken aus dem Oktober 2023 nahe Berlin Gesundbrunnen. Das Einigungsdenkmal aus dem Jahr 1967 steht auf dem Flakturm im Park direkt am Bahnhof. Es bleibt noch viel zu tun bis die Teile wirklich zusammengewachsen sind und vergleichbare Lebensverhältnisse erreicht sind.

Nobel Literature2023

Jon Fosse has been awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2023. Alfred Nobel donated the original funds out of his entrepreneurial empire build on the patents for dynamite. The explosives have ample use in peaceful times, but especially at times of war with noisy and destructive explosions. Experiments, with the tragic outcome killed together with 4 other victims his own brother. It did not stop him to pursue his entrepreneurial endeavour. In 2023 the Russian aggression continues to use explosives to kill innocent civilian victims. The sound of bombing continues to traumatise or destroy existences. The Nobel Prize for literature awarded to Jon Fosse does not bring those killed to live, but it is yet another reminder that silence or the absence of Alfred Nobel’s noise is invaluable. Norwegian Fjords and the water all around surely inspired Jon Fosse.
The scope of his writing ranging from theatre, prose to poetry and children’s books is comprehensive and impressive. This is probably all well known to many theatre-goers and readers beyond their mother tongue. For Germany there is an additional feature to the literary work of Fosse. Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel is the almost exclusive translator of the German language editions. This is already an impressive amount of work and long-term commitment to and from a translator as well as the publishing house Rowohlt. The Wikipedia entry for Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel shows the numerous works as translator of Jon Fosse as early as 2001 and still more to come. Additionally, Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel translates other classic authors from Norwegian into German in collaboration with the publishing house Guggolz located in Berlin-Schöneberg.
Besides the passion for translation Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel is active to defend the rights and salaries of translators. The threat to professional translation work by AI-programmes is imminent and just like authors and actors (not only in the USA) face continuing challenges for proper remuneration of their work. Being the German “voice” of Jon Fosse, it depends very much on specific contractual arrangements, whether a translator will also benefit not only from the popularity, but also in financial terms from the “windfall” profits reaped by authors and publishers. This constitutes probably a rather explosive issue, but worthy to be addressed eventually by the Nobel Committee. It is a “winner takes all” system just like with explosives, at least until next year’s awards. (Image Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel presenting Biermann in Staatsbibliothek Berlin 2023-9).

Aging Challenge

Several countries face an aging challenge now and in the near future. The OECD provides some basic data, figures and projections. All data to calculate the aging challenge are more subject to change than they used to. The Covid-19 rise in mortality rates has implications as the number of premature deaths of the elderly (65+) has risen even in the economically advanced countries. The so-called old-age dependency ratio is a widely used indicator to assess the charge or pressure on the working-age population (20 to 64) to finance those in retirement (65+). demographic ratio is defined as the number of individuals aged 65 and over per 100 people of working age defined as those at ages.
Major factors that have an impact on the ratio are mortality and fertility rates as well as migration, but also participation rates in employment for those younger than 20 or older than 65 years of age. Seminal shifts in participation of women in the labour force contribute also to reduce the old-age dependency ratio. An influx of about 1 million of refugees who have immediately a work permit like Ukrainians in Germany have a substantial impact as well. Life expectancy is expected to rise again after the years of reduction due to Covid-19. In 2024 and 2027 these ratios do not move too much. Extending the time horizon to 2050, when people born in 1985 would start to retire shows more reason for concern. Whereas in 2024 France, Germany and Italy are still fairly close to each other (2.4 percentage points), the gap starts to widen as of 2027 (5.5 percentage points). In 2050 Italy is projected to have an old-age dependency ratio of 74.4%, about 20 percentage points higher than France.
Okay, in the long-run we are all dead, says an economist joke, but changes to increase fertility or allowing more migrants in are not in sight for Italy. Therefore, the urge to react is increasing there. Younger generations might not be able or willing to foot the bill of high pension expenditure in Italy. Compared to Italy or even Japan the pressure on France is much less pressing, contrary to the national government’s opinion and policy initiatives to increase retirement age without parliamentary majority.
Source for projections and figures: OECD (2023), Old-age dependency ratio (indicator). doi: 10.1787/e0255c98-en (Accessed on 04 October 2023).

Avoidable Mortality

Mortality in many instances is avoidable. Estimates Mühlichen et al. (2023) for Germany are as high as 19% of all deaths in the years 2017 to 2019. For men the figure is as high as 24%, for women “only” 13%. The scientific interest in the concept of avoidable death originates in the interest to indirectly gauge the efficiency of health systems. In order to do this the authors estimated cause-deleted life tables in a fine graded regional fashion. Avoidable deaths are defined as deaths that occur before the age of 75 and are either classified as medically preventable or preventable through a different life style. The study applies a quasi-experimental design in comparing German speaking regions within Europe. This allows to measure the influence of health care systems on a general level within Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Tirol in Italy. The study corrects for different age structures in these regions. For Germany avoidable deaths are substantially higher in the North than in the South. Additionally Eastern parts of Germany have higher avoidable deaths. Even the best performing regions in Germany have higher rates of avoidable mortality than Switzerland.
The differential to other countries health systems is worth a concern, because the expenditure in the German health system per 1000 population are among the highest in Europe (OECD 2021). Despite the high expenditure per head, avoidable mortality remains particularly high for German men and in the North and East of Germany. Lack of prevention of unhealthy life styles is most likely the decisive factor to explain the disappointing results. There might be another “unaccounted” risk factor that originates in the lack of sufficient preventative health care and environmental risks during the young age of the regional populations. 33 years of unification and a cut-off age of 75 mean that in East Germany the oldest people lived through 40 years of high pollution coal as primary heating system.  Similar to Northern and Western Germany little concern and careless use of risky fertilizers might drive higher mortality decades after exposure. Life style patterns might additionally contribute, but are harder to assess in comparison. Research to clarify these differentials are just at the beginning. A valid conclusion remains: prevention is key, but it has many facets.