Monday, September 25, 2017

The morning after the night before

CSU: 26,6% (-6,6%
SPD: 16,3% (-9,0%
Grüne: 21,1% (+3,7%
FDP: 16,7% (+7,2%
AfD: 5,9% (+1,7%
Die Linke: 8,2% (+4,6%)

In our bourgeois-bohemian corner of Munich, the result was not so very different from the predictions of the polling organizations on a national level. Now it remains to be seen what kind of coalition can be put together to perpetuate governance that lives up to the centrist slogan (Die Mitte).


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Decision time

In little more than six hours we will have a first estimate of how Germans have voted in today's critical national election. We'll learn how important the far-right populist party will be in the new parliament and whether there is support out there for the single-issue party advocating Unconditional Basic Income. 

Exciting times!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Got it!

Equinoctial balance

With a nod to equinoctial symmetry, I'm inclined to seek a balance, with the ravings of Herr Drumpf and his partner in Pyongyang weighing heavy at one end of the seesaw.

A while back Barack Obama visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of my alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. 

Even more recently, following further incoherent hyperbole from Trump, the ex-president had this to say:

“Your response has to be to reject cynicism and reject pessimism and push forward with a certain infectious and relentless optimism, not blind optimism, not one that ignores the scale and the scope of challenges, but a hard-earned optimism that’s rooted in the stories of very real progress that have occurred throughout human history.” 
So 'roll up your sleeves', as Obama put it, stop worrying about North Korea, take your daughter to the Whitney and explain what art is about and prepare her for our brilliant future. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

More UBI

For any reader unfamiliar with the UBI idea, here is a link to an article from (inevitably) The Guardian. 

Do not expect me to explicate cryptocurrency, though, for I must confess that Bitcoin baffles me! The storyteller that I am, however, draws me to Silvio Gesell, German merchant, theoretical economistsocial activistanarchist, libertarian socialist and, in the earliest days of the twentieth century, formulated his FreiwirtschaftAccording to Gesell, all human-produced goods are subject to expensive storage, whereas money is not. Grain loses its weight, metal products rust, housing deteriorates. 

In 1932 the 'Miracle of Wörgl' saw the introduction of a local currency in an Austrian commune that had been ravaged by the Great Depression. It was a currency inspired by Gesell that was taxed if hoarded. The incentive, therefore, was to spend or invest in order to avoid the punitive and non-productive taxation. The result was a period of prosperity in the Tyrolean town.

The experiment was short-lived. Gesell had died in 1930 and had by no means prevailed with his unorthodox theories. After the collapse of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, in which he participated, had come to a violent end, Gesell was detained for several months on a charge of treason but was acquitted by a Munich court.

I think he's worth a novel!

Pig positive

We're not there yet. We still live under governments defining themselves in terms of ideologies which have long passed their 'sell by' date. A week from today we in Germany will likely learn that the nation has once again put their trust in 'Mutti' Merkel, although the prediction is that there will be a presence of the right-wing populist AfD party in the new parliament.

Nevertheless. Europe and the rest of the world will look to Berlin and see there a glimmer of hope that here at least stability and progress can coexist, even if a Pig can not yet take flight.

Although as a resident ex-pat I can vote in communal elections, I cannot participate in next Sunday's national polling. However, I feel no compunction to withhold from my few readers the choice I would make if allowed to place my voting paper in the urn. Note that the representation system demands that two choices must be made; one for a named local candidate of a party, a second choice of a 'party list' from which parliamentarians will be installed proportionately.

My second vote would be for the Bundnis Grundeinkommen, a party founded here in Munich just a year ago to promote the concept of Unconditional Basic Income as an alternative to unwieldy and often unfair welfare support mechanisms. Their message is hotly contested, seen as naively utopian by some, dangerously radical by others. My view is that UBI is at least innovative and forward-looking, which cannot be said of the platforms of the established parties.

Encouraging, too, is the growing resistance to craven political idiocy. Opponents of the incoherent 'Trump agenda' are making their voices heard, as are those who well understand that the plebiscite that resulted in a tiny majority for Brexit was a tragic accident. 

The German expression Ich glaubmein Schwein pfeift, is literally translated as 'I think my Pig is whistling' and is used to exclaim disbelief, usually at an absurd or extremely unexpected situation.

Enough said.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

O’zapft is!

The footballers of the Bayern Mümchen team remind that today marks the start of Oktoberfest 2017. Since Tuesday the kids are back in school after the summer break and in a week's time Germans will be heading for the polling booths.

Okay, Prosit!

Monday, September 11, 2017

The pedals fall silent

It was fun! For twelve weeks I had an almost daily dose of classic cycle road racing to watch on television and, yes, it was thrilling to witness Team Sky dominating both in the Tour de France and La Vuelta. Chris Froome's historic double victory commands respect indeed.

But the wonderful theatricality of the sport was for me best expressed when, on the last day of real competition, Alberto Contador won the taxing mountain stage, at the very last moment the first for a Spanish rider this year. Add the fact that he yesterday rode into his home town, Madrid, on the last stage he will ride as a professional. 

He will retire from racing a happy man! Grand stuff, to be sure.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


How trivial they are, any complaints about inconveniences, shortcomings or troubles experienced in the tranquility of a peacefully autumnal Schwabing-West. The lunchtime newscast reports of Hurricane Irma's arrival in Florida.

Holidaymakers returning from devastated islands will have stories to tell when they reach the safety of their homelands. 

Residents of the Sunshine State must not only pray that they survive the life-threatening weather phenomenon but must thereafter endure long months of chaos while the battered infrastructure is mended.

The people themselves will need mending, too. I have an online friend who lives just north of Miami, a client actually, for whom I undertake manuscript editing. When will the power be restored so that she can read and comment on the latest changes to her story that I have proposed? Is she, and her two newly acquired kittens, safe from the caprices of the forecast tornadoes?

On a less personal note, will inundation at Mar-a-Lago persuade Herr Drumpf that climate change is a reality?