Monday, 18 December 2017

Boycott Austria?


Austria’s new extremist right-wing government is sadly no surprise. We are, after all, surrounded by the USA, Poland, Hungary, Israel and the unmissable gnarls in the UK, France and Germany, to name but a few.

The Austrians have already announced that they will be cutting the monthly payments to refugees. 

Has the time come to boycott Austria back to its senses? How about skiing in France or in Italy instead?  How about giving the Salzburg Festival a miss this year? If it makes it any easier, Munich’s opera is better anyway.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Getting Older


The New York Times ran an article, a few days ago,  suggesting that people my age, spend more time:
1.   Playing golf
2.   Playing cards
3.   Playing with their grandchildren
4.   Playing with the remote control


So: I have never played golf, nor have I played any game of cards, since I was a child. I do not plan to start either. I do not have grandchildren to play with, nor do I own a TV.

Therefore, dear New York Times, I am unable (and unwilling) to follow your advice.

Happy new Year.

McCarthy - No Dream


Nazi Germany introduced laws faster, but they had the advantage of full control. Trump still, occasionally, has problems with Congress. Where we would be without the hardly checking and definitely not balancing is demonstrated by the latest report on banned words, allegedly issued by the US Government’s Center for Disease Control.

Staff at this federal agency were given a list of words or phrases, which should not be used in any official documents prepared for next year’s budget. The list includes: fetus, transgender, vulnerable, diversity, entitlement, evidence-based and science-based.  The new speak, approved by the Trump  Politruks,** is  “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

Next step will be the punishment of those still caught using decadent language.

WAKE UP AMERICA.
**  In the Soviet system, the Politruk, the political commissar, was the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organization, and committed to the civilian control of the military.

Monday, 4 December 2017

America - No Hope


Americans are not a race and forming an opinion about “the Americans” would therefore not count as racism. It would undeniably be a generalisation. Yet what is one to think, when one learns that a year into the election of this despicable man, his approval rating has hardly dipped amongst Republicans in the United States.

After a year of Trumpism, four out of five Republicans, still support this vile man. He represents their values, views and wishes. They trust him to navigate their country best and feel comfortable in being represented by him.

An approval rating that has not gone lower than 79% and according to the latest Gallop poll, a few days ago, stood at 81% is sick and is worrying. Not only is there no hope of impeachment (Republican politicians who criticise Trump, get punished by voters!), but with such ratings, there is no hope for America.

At a party in Los Angeles, last May, friends of friends said to me “do not think badly of us, here we did not vote for him.” This is difficult. It is difficult not to think badly of a society that allows such deterioration.

 “God Bless America”, like so many slogans, is also empty and meaningless.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Is Trump a Terrorist?


Yesterday, Theresa May criticised Trump for his recent incendiary tweets in which he repeated hate emanating from a far right and nationalist group in the UK. The subject of Trumps hate speech were his pet-enemies, the Muslims. In reaction to Theresa May’s condemnation, Trump came out with: “don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

Trump is partially right, we should not focus on Trump as a person, his hair colour, his mannerisms, his primitiveness, his many bankruptcies, his sexual abuse, his pathological lies, but rather on Trump the terrorist. Trump who has been allowed by the voters of his country to terrorise the world.

Terrorism, according to one definition is “the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror, or fear, to achieve a political, religious or ideological aim.” Violence can also be verbal and an important element ensuring the success of terrorists is the reporting of their deeds.  A bomb we do not know of, may kill the people directly hit, but does not terrorise the rest of us.

The Americans elected this despicable man as their president. It would help us all were the media to stop reporting every noxious smell he produces. Let the stench remain in the USA.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Russian Prostitutes


I made a note of this in January, but then forgot to publish…  

This is definitely a first: a prime minister bragging about the quality if his country’s prostitutes: “…ours are undoubtedly the best in the world”, Putin said, a-propos his statement in defence of Trump, who Putin does not believe had been serviced by any of the best of the world’s crop.

Between them, Trump and Putin are definitely raising the standards of public discourse.  

Oh, and one more thing: how does Putin know that his country’s “girls of loose morals” are the best in the world?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Istanbul


The Albanian, who sat next to me on the flight, spoke about the hot girls and the good food. “Nothing to worry about, mate”, he said, “you will love it, mate” I carefully suggested that as I was old enough to be his grandfather, “sir” might be more appropriate than “mate”. He did not quite understand my objection but when we landed, said “I enjoyed our conversation, sir, and have a good time in Istanbul.” 

The line at passport control at Atatürk airport was long and rather slow. After more than 25 minutes, I reached the sign which read “open your passports at the visa page”. They all did. Everybody – except me –  seemed to have a visa. It had not occurred to me that I would need one. So, I had to leave the line again and find the automated station at which, for $20, I was able to acquire a visa. Ten minutes later, back at the line, I was able to just about make it to the place that I had left earlier.

Istanbul - Fatih

Where I was staying, one seemed to see fewer scarf wearing women than on Edgware Road in London or in Neukölln in Berlin. Fatih is the part of town, – I was told – where I should go, if I wanted to see where the other half lives. A kind local friend of a friend went with me.

In Fatih, virtually all women were covered in black. Men, however, or rather their cloths, came in many colours: Some wore burgundy red trousers and overcoats, others had light grey outfits. Often, they wore blue-checks, sometimes white shirts. To hide what should be hidden, trousers were mainly of the harem trouser type. And then there was a whole array of hats. Very many were white, some were intertwined with coloured motifs.

Ultraorthodox Jewish sect-like dynastic groupings are often recognisable by their dress and I was curious to find out whether the same was true here, in this part of town, in which the Islamic sects, the tarikatlive. Can one tell the sects apart by their clothing?  My friend did not know. 

There is no colour coding whatever, the very friendly salesman, in the clothing shop that I entered, told us. Compared to the predominantly black, which women were wearing, men seemed to have more freedom for fashion and personal taste. Interestingly, the shopkeeper added that ever since IS has taken to wearing black hats, many people – to make the distinction – choose to go for white ones.

He came for Religious Education


A 17-or so - year-old, wearing a black overcoat and a white hat, overheard me asking my friend about the building opposite, “was ist dieses Gebäude?”, and said “eine Schule”, a school. So, we got talking and that gave me the opportunity to verify the information about there not being any colour codes in the male garments, which he confirmed.


The young man, born and bred in Stuttgart, where they speak the ugliest of all German dialects, spoke impeccable accent-free German. Why did he leave Germany, I asked? He came for religious studies, was his answer. What will become of that friendly, courteous young man? How far will these studies take him? Is he being taught at an extremist school? Will he stay? Was he sent by his parents, or was it his idea? We were running out of time and I was unable to find out more.

Istanbul - Downhill ?


Dangerous … going downhill… I wouldn’t go, if I were you, some of my friends said, when I told them that I was going for a weekend to Istanbul. Indeed, the hotel manager told me that tourism is now virtually only from Arab countries. There were hardly any Europeans or Americans coming, he said. It is difficult to see where the country is going. Having said that, they are not the only ones. Where, for instance, is the UK going?