Saturday, 16. September 2017
Who (not) to vote for in the Berlin republic

I am putting this as a question to myself - in just over one week, I'll have to decide, on paper in the election booth.

The "not" is in there because I know a lot of parties I won't be giving my vote in times of Trumpian "foreigner" bashing... Merkel selfie with a landed refugee in Germany, in '15

  • The CDU/CSU ("Christian" parties), headed by our mostly spineless lady chancellor, have been making a lot of disconcerted moves in one direction or another, but almost always opportunistic & to benefit their economic clientele (currently esp. car makers are in the news - the C parties have been upping the maximum nitrates in the air spewed out by Diesel engines for years, totally uncaring about consequences for lung-challenged people like me). Her ladyship did something right for once when she showed a bit of humaneness to war refugees 2 years ago (cf. above photo, taken at that time) but is now constantly rolling back in fear of the far right noise, i.a. made by her supposed partners in the South (yeah, that's the Bavarian C offshoot with the S in the name - guys who are economically potent, but constantly flirting with the far right). Her current election posters are once again totally bland, minimally texted, as in many elections before; can't overwhelm the small German electorate mind with content now, can we?
  • The SPD, a near miss for my cross in previous years, has been dithering about, and letting its partly good work in government be "owned" by the CDU. Until recently they had a pretty opportunistic party chief, who is now our foreign minister; this guy also took part in the Diesel scandal as economic minister for years (workers' votes are more important than general health). Because of their dithering on the "foreigner stampede" thing, they are massively losing votes as I write this. Mine, too...
  • The FDP is coming back into parliament with a bang (the prognoses say), overtaking both remaining left parties in percentage points. But I see no difference to the old FDP, that got pushed out of parliament because of their all-too greedy posturing & client-serving. Instead of being a real liberal party in the mode of their great old boys & girl, like Baum, Hamm-BrĂ¼cher & Dahrendorf. Now they've even jumped on the "foreigners leave!" bandwagon to fish for votes of Germans afraid of losing their status quo to those o so criminal "foreigners".
  • The AfD, that far right demagogic bunch alluded to above, used to be a plain somewhat-conservative anti-Euro economic-"reform" party. But it was quickly taken over by extreme far-right populists, at least one of which is now implying to forcibly get rid of "non-Germanic" politicians in speeches, to make Germany grate again... But they will have one of the biggest parliamentary debuts in terms of votes in 8 days that the F.R.G. has ever seen.

Germans need to go vote just to reduce the last-named idiots' section in the Bundestag as much as possible.

But who should I vote for? Basically, of the parties that remain with a chance of getting into parliament (i.e. get more than 5% of the vote - an important German voting laws restriction to keep small extreme parties out of parliament), only the Greens & the "Left" (a more socialist splinter off the SPD after Germany reunited) remain.

I more or less hate the former, whom I voted for a lot in younger years, because they've turned out to be a lame, status-quo-keeping interest group for ex-"revolutionists" and '68ers; and of course they support the Climate Change hype (cf. some previous blog posts on that theme to know where I stand). But they are the only ones who are in line with my wishes for how to deal with "foreigners" in our country, having been an immigrant in another country myself for over a decade. One of their party chiefs is a pretty opportunistic guy who already stepped down once due to attempted embezzlement, it seems; I really don't like that guy.

The last party I mentioned, the "Linke" (= "Left") is okay, mostly, if always a little too heads-in-the-cloudish concerning how their many dreams for a better (socialist) world would be financed. When it comes down to it in the end, I only hate that they - and esp. their thorough-bred electioneer, a pretty lady called Wagenknecht - always give the impression they much prefer to be in the opposition than ever actually taking part in government; hey, it's so much easier when you don't have to follow through (incl. all the messy real-life consequences) on your special priorities - thus setting prerequisites too absolute for other parties to ever build a coalition with you. The latter has already made them steadily less electable for many still-wavering voters.

And one thing I do not want to do this election is throw away my main vote by giving it to a party that will have no chance to form a government. We need more civil common sense up there, NOW! We need enduring backbone to deal with old (Erdogan) & new (Trump) tyrants, and not just the temporary variant for not quite two years Merkel proved to have re war refugees. We also need backbone to sell the hard story to Germans in the near future that we can't keep living like royalty on the economic backs of others; i.e. living standards in Germany - & some other parts of the EU - need to generally start coming down nearer those of the rest of the world.

So, Greens or Lefties it will have to be, with set teeth & stiff upper AND lower lips... Damn!

(The photo is a reduced version of a larger one
in the archives of the German news broadcaster, N-TV.)

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Sunday, 3. September 2017
Bad physics in movies & C.C.C. reporting

One of my favourite books is Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait. Today I was reminded by news on the radio of more bad physics, and recall 3 instances noticed in recent times... The first 2 concern the way physical phenomena are portrayed in films; the last is on a typical bad trope often repeated in reporting on Catastrophic Climate Change (C.C.C.). Here goes:

  1. Currently the biggest evacuation of people since World War II is taking place in south-western Germany, in and near Frankfurt (two sites!). Old unexploded bombs from that war were found, and need to be disabled by state professionals. Thousands (!) of people have been asked to leave their homes for a good many hours (they can return by 8 p.m. if all goes well), including a hospital and all its patients, and a radio station. -- Now, the question why so many is answered by the large blast radius of such a big bomb: One-and-a-half km's (roughly one mile). Inner bodily injury is still possible near the full extent of the radius, and it's this that reminded me of typical "escapes" from big explosions in Hollywood, like I saw last night when watching that hours-long-ad-disguised-as-a-movie BATTLESHIP. Guys diving/boating away from huge explosions easily just a few 100 metres away, and never having any problems due to the expanding spherical pressure wave. If at least one could see their ears bleeding afterwards...

  2. Another typical peeve - actually mentioned in Plait's book as #4 in the "B.A. goes Hollywood" chapter - in that movie is the visible beam of light/whatever being shot from a satellite into outer space. Not only is such a beam not visible if it's a laser (or other form of plain light), it would take at least the no. of years indicated by the no. of light years the target is distant from the Earth for a one-way trip. Regarding its visibility, it could of course be a stream of very hot plasma - i.e. actual matter - issuing from the satellite... but then it would take an order of magnitude longer to get to the target planet!

  3. Not many months ago, the current climate rollercoaster (yes, I of course accept that the world climate is going through a tumultous phase, but C.C.C. predicts permanent change for centuries!) made a large piece of ice shelf break off in the Antarctic. Immediately we again had many newspaper & other reports warning of rising sea levels, as if the current event had anything to do with that. That is scare hype! As the name indicates, a "shelf" is a horizontal extension of thick ice already floating in sea water. Ice suspended in water does not raise the water level as it melts - it has already displaced some water volume as it is inserted or formed in/on the water; i.e. current levels are already "raised". Should the rollercoaster abate, the shelf will probably reform in its original size over years.

(the photo is taken from a German blog
mentioning the current evacuation -
it is also my source for the 1,5 km radius
mentioned; click on it to go to the blog)

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Sunday, 30. July 2017
My A.J. Simpsons conjecture

I haven't read much about a psychological theory of non-substance addiction similar to this, so here goes writing it up.

The axiom this hypothesis bases itself on is Freud's Pleasure Principle. I think it isn't hard to agree that fear is a most basic emotion in humans, and that fear from pain drives us toward pleasure.

What does the "A.J." stand for? Well the "A." is for Attention, and/or its seemingly more civilised variant Appreciation. One built-in way in humans to achieve freedom from pain seems to me to be the attention of other humans, preferrably ending in some form of deeper understanding. Without it, we feel painfully alone.

As a rule, I suspect, people have built one - or even several - more or less smoothly running inner appreciation engine(s) by the time they reach the end of teenage. Some way to generate a feeling of being understood/accepted, perhaps even loved. The latter may even end up in constant "proof" in the forms of promotion, gifts or sex. I think it may be our job as adults to identify which engine we use, and whether it runs cleanly/sustainingly for the rest of what we are (e.g. our health).

Unfortunately the brain seems to easily pick up new ways to "assimilate" at least the feeling of (shared?) appreciation all the time. One becomes in danger of becoming addicted, a junkie - the "J.".

Recently I find myself watching random YouTube clips every day, something I never used to do until about a month ago. It seems to be my brain harking back to an old addiction of mine - T.V.. I got rid of my last T.V. about 18 years ago, and it gave me loads of time and space to develop new interests - i.a. I read a lot more "slow news", e.g. newspapers, since then. But my brain is media mad, and so seems to always go for moving pictures over static stuff...

It could be anything, even binge-watching the Simpsons again from the beginning.

This propensity of my brain to seek recyclable moments of seeming attention - hey, there's moving/talking people in the room! - is harder to kick than any substance addiction I have had, or may still have (sugar?). Simply also because it's so well hidden.

So, should this not just be me - but a generally homo-sapient feature - pay attention!

(The logo is borrowed from the Jamrain site,
which I hereby endorse, after superficially scanning its offers.)

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