Monday, April 24, 2017

Dare we hope?

The French voters have set up a deuxième tour which will have consequences for all of us who call Europe home, even for the Brits for whom there is no Macron offering a glimmer of hope.

William Keegan in The Observer
"Not to put too fine a point on it, Theresa May has called this election to get it out of the way before enough people wake up to how catastrophic Brexit is going to be. [...] At a time when this country has a surfeit of economic problems – for example, the pressure on the health service and social care, the savage cuts to the budgets of state schools, and the rise in crime associated pretty obviously with cuts to the police force – the last thing we need is Brexit on top of a misconceived austerity programme."

I think that, however various elections turn out, it will be hugely important that grass roots movements seize the opportunities that widespread anti-establishmentarianism is offering. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cologne protest

As we await the outcome of the first round of French elections, it is heartening to learn that in Cologne today there are up to fifty thousand protesting against the Alternativ für Deutschland. The AfD seems to have taken over the hotel that was my home for several months in the early nineties, times more peaceful than these, when we would have laughed at the absurd idea of any return to xenophobic nationalism 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Reading Matters

Any reader addicted to crime and espionage thrillers will quickly become used to storytelling in which certain universities play a role. I cannot support my assertion with statistics, but my feeling is that Oxford and Cambridge predominate in this respect. 

Imagine, therefore, my surprise to discover that my own alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and the city's Highland Park enclave, feature In Mark Giminez's book Absence of Guilt

...The Independent
"One of the writers whose work is most often compared (favourably) with Grisham's, is Mark Gimenez. While, however, the new Gimenez novel trades in legal thriller territory, its ambitions are much wider. An Isis attack on the United States is thwarted when the FBI discovers a plan to detonate explosives during the Super Bowl in Dallas. Two dozen conspirators are indicted by a federal grand jury, including the hypnotic and influential Muslim cleric Omar Al Mustafa. But there is a problem - a conspicuous lack of evidence against the hate preacher. And newly appointed US districtjudge A. Scott Fenney has a dilemma:  if Scott sets him free, will there be devastating consequences?  This is Gimenez at epic length, but thepages turn with great rapidity."

Friday, April 14, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sitooterie time

With her iPhone Jessi managed yesterday evening to include in this quirky shot of Pa and Ma her own 'thumbs up' gesture. It indicates her approval of the fact that for the first time this year the family (and there's Felix, the black Labrador, under the table) was able to gather at an outside table, under trees now showing healthy new leaves. Munich heaves a sigh of relief!

It was only a quick weekend visit and Berlin calls Jessi back to work. But there, too, the sitooteries of the capital await their hipster clientele.  

Sitooterie: The word is a Scots colloquial term, though not a common one in print. It means a place to sit out in a summerhouse, a gazebo or the terrace of a café. It comes from 'sit' plus 'oot' (a Scots pronunciation of 'out') plus the noun ending '–erie' of French origin  familiar from words like menagerie and rotisserie.

Thursday, April 06, 2017


“An unprecedented number of people are becoming engaged in movements and politics, which is the silver lining of Trump. It is important to be able to step back from that barrage of news that we are overwhelmed with and think about how we got here, what we can expect, how things can get worse and think strategically how things can get better."
from The Guardian
Naomi Klein's last book, This Changes Everything, published in 2014, discussed how unregulated capitalism was a direct cause of catastrophic climate change. She said this book would make similar vital links between austerity, racism, the corporate world, climate change and the importance of oil prices to Trump’s determination to instigate a fossil fuel frenzy.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

A digital divide

For many a year I have appreciated the possibility of switching on the BBC World News television channel. Since settling in Munich my viewing has amounted to only about three hours in an average week. 

As of today, however, it will drop to zero! My cable provider no longer gives access to analogue channels and my old television set cannot handle digital transmissions. It would be the perfect time to upgrade to the big ultra high definition 4K receiver I cannot possibly afford!

How fortunate that my main news and current affairs source is not television, but BBC Radio Four