Monday, 31. August 2020
Berlin cinemas + 2 thoughts (Corona benefits & a run at rehabilitation)

I wrote this mostly end of last month, so I'm backdating it to then. Too much to do for a relatively recently-become sexagenarian. (And no, that does not mean more sex was had. :-))

DELPHI LUX

The newish Delphi Lux cinema in the centre of West Berlin
The newest Yorck cinema, with several contained ones. In a nice building near Zoo Station, with many mod cons & decorations! Very "it"... A little miracle in the "home cinema" and (at the time) burgeoning streaming tsunami, brushing one cinema after another off the German map. So glad to be in a city where cinemas' existence is fought for!

Wow, Corona!

Again, as for the similar titled thought some months ago in this blog, I am aware of the terrible plight this pandemic means for many many people, especially those struck down into a hard death or half-life after heavier symptoms (which, luckily, many folk who get it, don't develop!).

But at this time of global (mental) depression, some positive things I've noticed:

  • The pandemic has apparently forever changed the airline industry. There will be fewer flights in future, not to mention fewer companies. People will probably no longer have to be packed into seats like sardines - sonething I'm looking forward to! (Source: ECONOMIST)

  • Kids in Germany, having more spare time due to school outages, have ended up running around and generally moving more than before the lockdown phase (in Germany that was mainly in April + x)! Yeah, despite more video learning/gaming... (Source: SPIEGEL) So, perhaps kids need slightly less hectic schooling in future?

  • The service industry in Germany has finally gotten going in a major way. After years of lagging behind other Western countries. Which means many more small jobs. Sounds good to the layman (= me)...

  • By not looking like it will be over before November (or even begin of next year), CoVID in the US has shown what a hollow "manager" the Great Orange Pretender really is, and has been. And what ends he is prepared to go to, to prevent what will likely happen in that month. (I.a. the looming loss of his "diplomatic" immunity before the law.) Unfortunately it has also demonstrated to the world, on what run-down traditionalist stilts the US political system is built. A reform of Congress & a more representatively set-up Senate badly need to follow in 2021, in my opinion, and the presidency hollowed out to prevent future idiocies by media-magnetic incumbents, it seems to me (& perhaps many Europeans?)...

  • On a personal note, for the first time I took part in a meetup of an s.f. society on another continent. Usually I can't be at these regular meetups, but now I just ZOOMed in! :-D

It's taken 7 years

There was a time when I was scared to write out the name in this blog. But now a U.S. federal court has begun rehabilitating Ed Snowden, one of the true heroes of the last decade, way ahead of any Wonderful super variants or MAGA "men"! What a comeuppance! And despite the antics of previous & current presidents (before this year!) to demonize him - instead of the abusive officials who Big-Brothered full steam ahead into an inhuman future!

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Saturday, 18. July 2020
Berlin cinemas + 4 thoughts (last month on some political reforms I'd like to C)

This is the June entry, a little Late (my secret middle name). I decided to unhumbly* make a few reform suggestions for countries, whose Corona handling has been in the news, recently.

KURBEL

Inzw. geschlossenes Berliner Kino DIE KURBEL in 2013
This old - and closed for some years now - cinema, was a favourite haunt of mine, built in, I guess, the Twenties or Thirties. This is what's great about Berlin - this city was one of the centres of international cinema a century ago, and you can still come upon remnants of that today. Unfortunately, people don't realise what a treasure old cinemas are, and several more downtown are threatened with closing due to the Corona phase... (One site where one may be able to help: www.startnext.com - yeah, it's in German.)

A) Reform South Africa

Let's start with the littlest case first: RSA has an exacerbated Corona crisis at the moment, despite stringent earlier precautions, IMO due to the "state capture" level gargantuan embezzling spree of the last president, Zuma, and his cronies (many of whom have by now left the country):

  • To help prevent abuse like this happening again, the special new office created by RSA's new constitution of just a quarter century's standing, the Public Protector, whose job it is to oversee government officials/institutions, in the name of the public (who can call on the P.P. directly to follow up larger infractions!) must IMO be appointed independently by non-governmental instances only - e.g. the justice system, or by popular vote, or a combination of the two. In addition, I feel, the office needs its own force of unarmed observers on general elections of all kinds, making sure that people are not influenced/harassed at polls on Election Days!

B) Reform the U.K.

I thought ol' Blabber-mouthed Boris had learnt a lesson from his own bout with Corona, but he's promising stacks again, while only putting low-funded fingers in Corona-reducing-dike breaks and at the same time driving straight for a hard Brexit. So...

  • The House of Lords needs special powers IMO to recommend far more strongly the Queen dissolve government if the prime minister is endangering the fundamental (e.g. economic) well-being of the country. If the House is too uppity in the eyes of the common man to have that kind of power, the country may generally need some kind of devil's advocate office, not derived from aristocracy or the government, to do that job. (Cf. Public Protector idea, above.)
  • In the middle term, how about finally getting a clear & powers-inhibiting constitution done, Brits? I.a. to constrain demagogic future p.m.s?
  • IMO the NHS needs to be put on a better financial footing in general to handle future crises like the current one - how about a light capital tax on stock exchange etc. transactions for expressly that purpose? (And with "capital" I mean London, and all that it contains. The tax could be sold as a humane incentive for share holders, that they can advertise; IMO this may help to keep them on the London stock exchange, as Brexit looms.)

C) Reform Germany

Yes, even my home country has some idiocies currently showing up:

  • Don't rain non-repayable gifts of money on any who apply (as was done in Berlin city state) during crises to save their assumed businesses. Set up a permanent disaster fund, and a clear set of conditions to apply for monies from that, perhaps via the stats the states' revenue system (each province's "Finanzamt") can supply; the applicant would have to allow the fund administrators to get that data once-off to make a decision whether a bonus/credit is given.
  • Start a Bundestag (i.e. parliamentary) commission to investigate the micro-dust ("Feinstaub", mainly from Diesel engines)/noise/CO2/whatever emission dips that have occurred during the Corona lock-downs, to find a way to make some of these permanent! Show some backbone IMO vs. the ever-complaining AfD & pseudo-liberal FDP folk, and you'll find a majority more strongly following you in future... (Same goes for micro-plastics, by the way! Let's go!)

D) Reform the U.S.

O, man, so much to suggest here; let's keep it really brief:

  • Take away presidential powers to turn the country into a Banana Republic - no judges appointed by him, no misappropriations of major funding, all open speeches/"edicts"/Tweeting to be okayed by 2 officers appointed by Congress & Senate!
  • Get Congress to wake up and take over on health & lobbyism reform - and actually running the country! The latter includes doing much more to expand the currently contracting middle class, as well as a major reform of the election process after the Primaries - no more Westminster winner-takes-all voting, allowing smaller parties to get representation, thereby immediately hollowing out gerrymandering.
  • Get the Senate to better represent population sizes of states; 2 senators per state is ludicrously out of date!
  • Set up a system of control of sheriffs and how they actually apply their powers, especially outside of major cities. Defund police unions to allow state control over what policemen are actually taught, how they are armed and how they then enact their duties (reviewing the latter regularly); once this catches, fund police better, so they have less motivation to become (at least financially) corrupt. Also fund social projects better, so police do not have to cover so much ground, keeping cities going.
(* IMO above means "in my opinion";
the "humble" before the last word left out for now...)

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Sunday, 31. May 2020
Berlin cinemas + 1 thought (this month on Twitter growing up) + 1 remembrance

The lockdown continues, though loosened in Germany. I still miss going to cinemas a lot, so this blog series tides me over a little. I hope you, too!

ASTOR

The most luxurious public cinema in Berlin, the Astor on Ku'damm
This independent cinema is i.a. run by at least one great fan of the glitz of old cinemas - it's probably the most luxurious of Berlin cinemas, next to perhaps one other. It has a long glass-walled foyer with ticket booth, champagne or wine refreshment at small tables, then an interfacing section for tickets to be checked, after which you arrive in a 2nd larger foyer with a proper bar incl. offers of drinks and snacks, and a place to leave your coat etc.. The cinema itself is a wonder of retro design with a large, curtained screen. The seats are perhaps the most luxurious you'll ever experience in a cinema, leather, each with its own arm rests, and a small "night table" every two seats, incl. a light, where you can deposit drinks/snacks. There's even a way to order replenishments during the movie (although few people do that) - the bar is open all through the movie. In addition, the management offers old movies once a month, shown on old reel projectors - as advertised in the photo in the right glass case (the poster with Elisabeth Taylor on it). Heaven!

Twitter, somewhat better

First off: I do partake of this social medium - much more rarely than in the first few years after my registration, because I came to hate its becoming mostly a platform for facile public ridiculing and denigration. Which is of course exactly how the Great Orange Pretender in the U.S. has been using it. Mostly.

But a few days ago, Twitter actually grew a bit more of a spine, and replaced a threatening tweet by that GOP guy by a message box usually reserverd for "lesser" subscribers when they advocate physical hate. Not much earlier, it also added fact-checking links below 2 of his tweets on his most newly "discovered" conspiracy: Mailed-in votes.

Twitter et al benefit from a special law making them - as opposed to, say, newspapers - legally inculpable for things their tweeters etc. post. Of course Mr. GOP & his cronies immediately now threaten to revoke this law - which he has profited mightily from for many years!

I wonder what made Twitter cross this Rubicon? (And whether they'll stay on the fair side for long.) Perhaps it was the impassioned open letter they received earlier, of the widower of the campaign aide of ex-Congress-Rep. Joe Scarborough, who died after fainting & falling badly in one of Scarborough's remote offices years ago?

For the benefit of his don't-believe-what-you-can't-see fandom, the tweeter in the O. Office of course a.s.a.p. removed all tweets that had been post-processed by Twitter. (I checked an hour ago.)

R.I.P., Rolf Hochhuth

This famous German playwright died near mid-May, at age 89. He was well-known for his impassioned assertions on certain ignored or purposely hidden historical facts, which he occasionally made the subject of one or other stage production.

The most well-known of these is probably The Deputy, on the role of Catholic Pope Pius XII on hushing up - and not condemning outright! - what was happening in Nazi concentration camps. In which some Catholic priests were also interned, and later industrially murdered. So Hochhuth was a working minder & reminder of things people tend to forget.

But his range of possible targets was wide. The play that brought him to my attention initially, was Turing - and all the stuff it disclosed (at least to little-informed me!) about how the European part of the World War was to an amazing degree won by the great technical efforts made in Bletchley Park in England, led on the code-breaking side by Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, who i.a. on the side predicted the feasibilty of the virtualisation surge the i.t. world is experiencing for the last decade or so!

I greatly admired the angry old man for that play, and because of that got round to reading a few of his others.

[Go in peace, rest in courage...]

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