Where are my Things?


The day came to an end. Jack, ever so reluctantly, was ready to go to bed. He hated  getting ready for bed. Normally, it took him  about thirty minutes, and by the time he was hitting the sack, his wife was fast asleep.

He should have got ready earlier while his wife Betty was asleep in front of the TV, not watching the  show she  was  desperate not to miss. Jack  did not like the show, but he watched it anyway  to be with his wife. When it was over and he switched off the TV,  the sudden silence  brought Betty back to life. She announced it was time to go to bed, and she disappeared into the back of the house.

Jack knew that the window of opportunity, to use the bathroom, had passed. Betty had overtaken him in the race to the bed. Well, he cleaned up a few things and trundled to the bathroom when he noticed Betty entering the bedroom.

The look into the bathroom mirror confirmed to him that his face looked drawn and tired. He wanted to remove his bottom denture to clean it but found it wasn’t there. Where was his denture? Jack had completely forgotten, when and where he had taken it out.

“Betty, do you know where my dentures are?” he shouted to the bedroom.

Betty answered from the bedroom, “Do I have to look after your choppers, too?”

Jack could not hear what Betty was saying. and shouted back, “What did you say?”

“It seems to me, that  you are not using your hearing aid either?”

Jack had gone into the bedroom to be able to understand better what Betty was saying, “No, no, I mislaid them earlier and can’t find it. I need my glasses to look for the hearing aid.”

After a pause, in which he looked for his glasses, he said, “The bloody glasses are not where they are supposed to be.  – I’m sick of getting old and constantly searching for the things I need to be a full human being.”

Betty grabbed a book and told  him, to hurry up as she would not stay awake forever. Jack went back into the living room and searched for his hearing aid. It was not that he wanted to use it, but he wanted to put it into its proper place where he would be sure to find it in the morning. Order and consistency were important to him to find his way through the daily life. Everything has to be in the right place. Then he would be able to cope.  Everything else would be chaotic and create only stress for him.

He found his denture near his computer, his glasses were on top of the coffee machine.

What Jack found!

                                                  What Jack found!

After he finished, what he called his body maintenance, he came back into the bedroom where Betty was fast asleep with a book still in her hand. He carefully took the book out of her hands, switched off the lights. But sleep would not come easily. Thoughts were still racing in his head. He dreaded the morning when his creaking body would have difficulties getting into gear again.

At his age, every day was a bonus day, even if the bonus  was mixed  with the difficulties of  advanced age.


The survival value of a just Society

In a comment to a recent blog of mine, “The Crime of Poverty” I was asked the question, “…does justice have a survival value?”. I tried to answer it and my answer became rather long. I thought, I could just as well make a post for my  blog out of it. And here is my answer:

An interesting question! I would say there are different answers within a society and among societies.

Within a society, justice is important, as injustice, in the end, leads to revolution (as in France 1789 and the Russian Empire 1917). Those particular societies went under in a bloodbath. The governing elite could have prioritized justice, but the greedy, property owning elite did not want to know. The “let them eat cake” mentality led to their demise.

You can ask yourself, which are so most stable societies? The answer is the Scandinavian countries! They have created societies, through the redistribution of wealth, that are relatively more just than other societies.

The human race lives in densely packed societies today. Justice is an important part of keeping the inner peace. The hunter-gathering societies lived in clans and love among its members was sufficient justice for survival.

The storm clouds in the Western-orientated societies are already gathering. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the property owning class has become bolder and bolder. People are not happy taking note of this development.

Populous movements are springing up in many countries. They might not be the solution, but they are the expression of their frustration with the daily injustice they experience.

I learned today, that there at present 3.5 million unoccupied apartments in Spain. Yet many people have no place of abode. People are being evicted from their flats, as they can’t serve their mortgages. The system has failed them and that is perceived as injustice.

There is no social Darwinism. The Nazis believed in the survival of the fittest. The more just (not perfect) societies won the war. Darwin advocated a biological evolution only. Western societies invented enlightenment to create a better and just society. It is a work in progress and at this stage we witness a struggle of the enlightened people and the Ayan Rands of this world.

There is no guarantee that the former will win because Arthur Schopenhauer said, in a conflict between “Will and Reason” “Will” will win anytime. Still I think a just society has more chances to survive longer.

My Brain – my Master or an imperfect Tool?


Spring is in the air - an Australian Wattle in full bloom

Spring is in the air – an Australian Wattle in full bloom


Sometimes I wonder whether my brain is in charge or I am.

I have come to the conclusion that there is  a difference. My brain is a bit of a bully. It likes to tell me what to do and how to do it. And this independently from my wishes.

It starts already in the morning. While I definitely want  to sleep another wink, my brain has no compunction giving  me signals to get up. The first signal arrives via the bladder of course. I try to ignore this signal by calling on the god of dreams, Morpheus. But he has gone to where the night has gone to and can’t hear my prayers anymore. I have to get up.

All day, my brain is urging me on, even when my body can’t go on anymore. We would assume, that the brain knows the condition of the body, but this is not so. I like to jog and I get ready and go out and  hit the road. My brain encourages me instead of warning me. At my age, a step in time could mean  a step in pain.

My mind is not my brain. It uses the brain too, but then, the brain does its own thinking and tries to influence me. The brain ages too, but it does not know it! The memory is shrinking but still, the brain does think with a reduced capacity.

A quiet place for contamplation

A quiet place for contemplation

Even uneducated people  do a lot of thinking, but mostly,  they come to the wrong conclusions. Having an old brain is like being uneducated as the knowledge to know better has dissolved. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein, who said we are using only 1% of our brain. But what if we lose the good 1% first? Wouldn’t that create havoc with our lives?

This happens a lot to me, because of my failing memory. I try to get by with my feelings and how I perceive the world at a certain moment in time. But my brain has not a bar of it. It urges me on, bullies me, to do things that are dangerous.

My hearing and my vision are impaired, but my brain takes no notice of it. When we were children we had problems estimating the speed of oncoming traffic. I had a childhood friend who ended up under a tram. For Christ’s sake, one cannot overlook a big monster like a tram.

Now that I am old, I experience the same problems. I might be able to estimate the speed of a car, but not the time that has passed between looking right and left. My own actions are much slower and by the time I have checked in both directions a car might be approaching which was nowhere to be seen a moment  earlier. Still, my brain gives me the okay to cross the road. If I hear the screech of the brakes, I’m okay.

Two creatures listen to their inner feelings

Two creatures listen to their inner feelings

After the age of forty the brain shrinks by 5% each decade. That means, in my case, 20% of my brain is gone. Surely, my cognitive ability must be suffering. But I’m sure my brain has no idea and thinks all is fine and dandy.  How often we have heard from people, who clearly look aged beyond their years. “I still feel young!” they pronounce, unaware  that their brain is playing tricks on them. Perhaps not on purpose, but out of sheer ignorance. It seems ridiculous, but the brain can’t even estimate its own age.

If there is a repair to be done around the house my brain urges me to do it. I’m the man, I have to do it! When I get the ladder out, there is no warning, just the instruction, “Do it!”

On wobbly legs, I climb up and put myself in mortal danger. My wife can see that, but my brain has no idea. Is it, that the brain has a death wish? That would explain why so many elderly people have  accidents. It is almost like the brain wants to get rid of me.

Strong roots are a strong foundation

Strong roots are a strong foundation


Perhaps, I am old enough to recognise, that I can’t do anything about my brain. It is the one I developed myself in the womb. I’m stuck with it. Now, I have to control it instead it controlling me.

At the Bell of Gratitude overlooking the Illawarra region of NSW towards Mt Kembla

At the Bell of Gratitude overlooking the Illawarra region of NSW towards Mt Kembla






Last evening this message from my daughter Caroline came up on my FB site:

Work for the day and the week done. Social media for the day done. Time for some dinner and a glass of red to start a rejuvenating weekend. Have a good one everyone”

What did the message say? That she was happy with her achievements of the week? It almost sounded like the Bible and that the Lord was happy when he “saw it  was good” and now it was time for the Sabbath. She hoped to rejuvenate when she would  face the tasks in  the next week.

That is how it should be; work and rest in the right proportions.

As an aged pensioner, I do a lot of rejuvenating already and I can tell you,  it is not easy. I’m using a lot of energy just doing the rejuvenating. But actually, I’m not rejuvenating att all. I’m aging whatever I do.

When I was a youngster and just starting out with my working life I too looked forward to the weekends. It was time to meet up with friends and chasing girls. On Sundays, we dressed up in our finest.

A trench coat was compulsory on a rainy day. Three friends at a local festival (I'm the one on the right)

A trench coat was compulsory on a rainy day. Three friends at a local festival (I’m the one on the right)

Cinema was the big thing and they just invented CinemaScope. The big picture really hit us when the curtain opened. The first film of this type I saw was “The Robe” with Victor Mature. In those days, I loved historical films. Even if they were not entirely true depictions of the events, they nevertheless fired our imagination.

Now, Sundays are like any other day  we try to rejuvenate. There is one exception, I refuse to go shopping on a Sunday! Still, we have to adjust some of our activities to the work life of others.

In two weeks time, we will take the (slow) train to Melbourne. There is no fast train as our governments don’t like working for the future  and the joke is, that they call the train, “Interstate Express”.

Next Saturday we will go to the theatre in Sydney. We will see “The Bleeding Tree” by Angus Cirini. I will write a blog about it, but here is one sentence Angus Cirini says, The primary role of government is not to manage the economy it is to allow for a healthy society to flourish.”  Well, I think governments have forgotten this lesson or they just ignore it.

Here is what the Griffin Theatre writes about the play:

In a dirt-dry town in rural Australia, a shot shatters the still night. A mother and her daughters have just welcomed home the man of the house – with a crack in the shins and a bullet in the neck. The only issue now is disposing of the body.

Triggered into thrilling motion by an act of revenge, The Bleeding Tree is rude, rhythmical and irreverently funny. Imagine a murder ballad blown up for the stage, set against a deceptively deadly Aussie backdrop, with three fierce females fighting back.”

We have our next two weekends  covered and they are “footy-free”.

The Crime of Poverty

The beautiful Hunter Valley NSW, Australia

The beautiful Hunter Valley NSW, Australia

We. my wife Uta and I, are members of the “Association for Good Government” and last Saturday they held a conference near Pokolbin in the Hunter Region  of NSW.

The association is propagating and teaching  the ideas and principles of the American economist and social philosopher Henry George.

The theme of the conference was  based on a speech Henry George gave on 1st of April 1885 at the  Opera House of Burlington. Iowa, USA.”The Crime of Poverty“.

Burlington Opera House in 1910

Burlington Opera House in 1910

If you read the speech you will find it was no April fool’s joke. We learnt, that about four hundred people attended who each paid  a 50 cents entrance fee.

George suggests, it is not a crime to be poor but poverty is a social crime of which we, the whole society, are all guilty of. It is a curse and in the end we will all suffer from it, even the rich. The rich can not live really  in peace with poor people all around them.

The present financial crisis in Greece and the refugee problem the rich states of Europe have to grapple with are good examples. The “rich” are coming under pressure from the poor.

People all over the world produce goods and food in abundance, but all is not distributed equally. Sure, the world has changed a lot since 1885 but in principle George’s theories are still correct. Still, people are being exploited by other people. And it was ever so.

According to Henry George all has to do with the control of the land by the few. By land, he doesn’t only means the land under our feet, that can be worked, but also all the resources that can be found in the earth.

When we are born we are already designated slaves. At least we a have to work like slaves to satisfy the greed of the rent seekers. All land is already taken by generations who came before us. Henry George was of the opinion that “Land” is a natural right for living beings to share.

If you see a herd of animals or a flock of birds you don’t see a percentage of them starving or living in poverty. Why then can’t we share, with other people, the fruits of the land?

We also learnt at the conference that early, white settlers pushed the Aborigines off their land and even refused them access to the Hunter River for water and fishing. It is always control of the land which controls the people.

Fighting poverty in this environment is much easier.

Fighting poverty in this environment is much easier.

The conference also touched on Tiberius Gracchus a popular Roman politician of the 2nd century BC. He was also a brave and popular military leader who found, that after he and his soldiers came back from the Third Punic War that many had lost their land in their absence. Their wives and children could not make a living from their land without the help of their men. They went bankrupt and the big landholders were buying the land cheaply. The increased holdings were then worked by slaves instead of by free men.  The now poverty stricken people streamed into Rome.

The Gracchus brothers, Tiberius and Gaius by Jean-Baptiste Claude Eugène Guillaume

The Gracchus brothers, Tiberius and Gaius by Jean-Baptiste Claude Eugène Guillaume

Plutarch reports Tiberius Gracchus saying, “Wild animals who live in Italy have for each of them a place to rest or hiding place. But the men who fought and died for Italy have nothing more than the air and light; unsettled, without home nor house, they roam the land with their wives and children. The generals lie to them during battle, when they call on them to  defend the graves and holy shrines against their enemies. None of those poor Romans owns a grave or altar of their  ancestors. They are fighting  and dying for the wellbeing and the wealth of others. They are called the rulers of the world – but in truth they own not even one crumb of this Earth.”

Tiberius Gracchus then had the idea, that the returned soldiers should be given   plots of 30 iugera confiscated from the rich landholders. The landholders did not like the idea at all and organised a massacre in which he and four hundred of his followers were beaten to death and thrown into the River Tiber. This, according to the Roman historian Plutarch, was the first outbreak of civil strife in Rome.Theodor Mommsen, the German historian, called the year of the massacre, 133 BC, a defining year in the history of Rome.

Settling the land question with a bloody massacre is a defining moment?  It shows that the elite of Rome was just a bunch of land-hungry parasites.

Capitalism teaches us that it is an advantage to have a pool of  poor and unemployed people. That is where the injustice and the crime of poverty originate from. People who have no access to land and its resources live in poverty.

According to a  UNICEF report, 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. and 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. This happens because the human race is not able to  share.

On the way to the conference, we stopped for a short tea break at  Mooney  Mooney, at the banks of the Hawkesbury River.  It is a nice spot alright and not only people are attracted to the picnic area but also the wildlife. Brush Turkeys are coming out  of  the bush and try to find something edible we humans drop accidentally or otherwise. And what did we see? Among them was a feral hen who lives happily thinking she is a turkey too.

One hen and two Brush Turkeys.

One hen and two Brush Turkeys.

What do I want to say here? That two species can live together and share the resources available to them and we humans, seemingly, can’t do the same.

Dawn of Justice?

Today, on my FaceBook page, I received a message from my favourite cinema in Sydney. They want me to  see,  “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” when it opens next year.

Well, I won’t. 

I’ll  give that movie a miss. It is absolutely childish to believe in a fantasy figure who can bring justice into this world. Why does Hollywood want us  to believe that a miracle is just around the corner? The dark forces in our societies are the ruling classes and the property owners who are just a bunch of rent seekers.  

As soon as you get rid of one group of those bloodsuckers, another group is taking over. Superman, or a revolution, is not the solution. Movies about it give us false hope and we are paying for it as well with our hard earned dollars. Even illusions cost money.  

I noticed the accompanying trailer has been viewed almost 8 million times!!!

Most of them, I assume, will be eager viewers of the movie and they can’t wait. So, they are having a foretaste.  A few, like me, are having a peek to get a grip on it and what it is all about.

Do we really think Superman or Batman could be our saviours? The Jewish people believe fervently in a Messiah. They are awaiting a king of the Jews, a kind of superhero; the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people and destroyer of their enemies.

There was one, Jesus of Nazareth, but he did not measure up and  he told them, to turn the other cheek. This is not justice as they understood it. Superman a pacifist? Not very likely!

They were more inclined like the modern cinema goer. They wanted someone who can destroy buildings, and indeed  (evil) empires with one punch with his fist. A King Hit or Sucker Punch is often seen  as a weapon of the protagonist to deal with an unfair situation. 

Drastic times ask for drastic action people think. That is why superheroes are so popular.

After WW 1 the German people felt humiliated and when a new hero appeared from another land (or planet) they thought he will restore their dignity. Of course, he only gave them false hope and a further humiliation awaited them.

Doesn’t the question arise why a cartoon character should be better in restoring justice than an imagined god? Further, we have to ask, what is justice; and justice for whom?

Justice for all is only a pipedream. Poetic justice to me seems only to be  possible in literature and  in Hollywood films; like the old Western. In real life, it remains a pipedream and lingers on in the darkened confines of the cinemas around the world.

But it was always like that. Cinema is “Illusion” and it was right from the beginning when the ever so smart Berliners coined the word “Kintopp” for it.

Why Australia?

Today, in a conversation, the question arose, why did we come to Australia? When was the seed planted in my mind?

Ostensibly we came to Australia to have a better future  for us and the children. We could have chosen Canada or the United States instead and could have tried our luck there.  But why Australia? It is the furthest away from Germany and the chances of ever coming back seemed remote at the time.

I have no idea when, in my childhood, I became aware of the continent  called Australia. But it struck me, that the whole continent was one country, that is, one nation where the people are having all this landmass to themselves. . It was almost as big as Europe which contained so many countries. Throughout history, Europe suffered  numerous wars among its nations.

Probably Australia entered my consciousness when I heard that our two pet budgerigars’ homeland was Australia. Then Christmas 1948 or 49 my mother gave me a book for a present. The story of the book was set in Australia at the  birthplace of  European settlement, Botany Bay. The events of the story happened in about 1946 when a group of boys living at  Ramsgate Beach tried to steal an old  cargo ship that was anchored in the middle of Botany Bay with only an old Polish migrant living on it.  He was supposed to keep it in good nick in case the owner wanted to use it again. It was always under steam.

Botany Bay 1788, Charles Gore. The image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW.

Botany Bay 1788, Charles Gore. The image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW.

The boys were roughly my age and I liked their freedom with which they pursued their adventure.

I don’t know the title of the book anymore,  nor do I know who the author was. I’m in contact with the library of the Municipality of Rockdale, but so far nobody knows anything about the book.

Around the same  time, two Australien films were shown in German cinemas. They were “The Overlanders” and “Bush Chrismas“. Both films were very popular in Germany and both were starring Chips Rafferty in the main roles. He was an iconic Australian actor. The big, wide country promised a freedom undreamed of for me living in a big city.

Chips Rafferty, picture from Wikipedia

Chips Rafferty, picture from Wikipedia

A few years later I decided to inquire about migrating to Australia. In Berlin, there was no embassy and all inquiries and applications were handled by a Military Comission at the Olympic stadium. When I arrived there with a friend, we found the Commission was closed due to a public holiday. It must have been their Labour Holiday in October. It was a Monday and I learned, that Australians like to have their public holidays on a Monday. This  gives them a long weekend every time. It was just another reason to migrate to this dream country.

A couple of months later I tried again and got as far as applying for an assisted passage. I could not have paid for the full passage at the time. I needed the permission of the government employment agency, and they knocked me back as I had a trade that was highly in demand after the war. I was a bricklayer and they wanted me to rebuild Berlin.

What that knockback did, was for me to change careers. Bricklaying was not for me. A few career changes later and living in Düsseldorf with a wife and a toddler, I saw by then an ad in the local paper. We thought it was directly speaking to us since it said  “Australia needs You!”. There was no need to convince Uta. We both wanted to go, especially since we still had no apartment of our own and a second child was on its way. We applied and  after going through all the procedures we were accepted and the Germans were happy for us to leave: It meant one family less on the waiting list for an apartment.

Today, when we drive along Grand Parade, on the Western side of Botany Bay, I look across Lady Robinsons Beach and think of the book and the story I read as a twelve-year-old and wonder whether my mother planted the seed of migrating to Australia in my mind.

"Montereybch" by J Bar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Montereybch.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Montereybch.jpg#/media/File:Montereybch.jpg

“Monterey Beach” by J Bar – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Montereybch.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia