11 Jan, 2014
Society - Why The Young Turks? ...


… because they are great. But wait, I’m going to explain everything here.


Of course saying something was great is totally subjective, well, not totally, it depends how many people agree. The more people agree the more confident can you be saying something was great.


But it’s a good starting point and reminds me of some heavy discussions I had on facebook a year ago. I try to explain all now to solve some misunderstandings.


First of all I need to define some expressions. What’s the difference between saying „The Young Turks are great!“ and „Global warming is a fact!“? First one will always be subjective, the Young Turks may be as great as it get’s to everybody in the world. It’s still an opinion, something that can change and be different. You can always find pros and cons for or against it.


The second sentence on the other hand is a fact. What’s a fact actually? A fact is a circumstance that you can prove. There’s no pros and cons for or against it. To stick to Global Warming you can research the internet and find multiple scientific studies during the last couple of years that prove it. A good starting point is almost always Wikipedia. Wikipedia is amazing, because it became better and better over the years, it’s open to everybody and it self-corrects by us people and those who research. That makes it as objective as it gets. You will always find pros and cons or different opinions to controversial topics and people correct errors or wrong statements over time. That makes it pretty reliable because there is no company controlling everything but the whole world overlooking it, it’s incredible.


Anyway, Global Warming is a fact because you can prove it. Who says that all this is true? Especially as there are so many people in the world who don’t believe in Global Warming. Are they all wrong? Yes, they are! Isn’t that pretty arrogant? Not really because it’s not arrogant to tell the truth, it’s just uncomfortable to hear it when you believe in something else.


Do I believe I knew everything? Of course not, but I know some things and I can prove that I’m right. But this sounds arrogant! Well, maybe, but there is a difference between the things you say and what people understand. It’s often about misunderstanding, the reason for arguments or even wars by the way. People just don’t understand each other correctly and it’s very difficult to say things so easy that everybody understands them the same way. This is a problem often described as relationship level in psychological terms.


What’s a relationship level? It’s the opposite of the content level in conversations. The content level consists of facts or claims, opinions or just random words. In the content level personal relationships, experiences or undertones are irrelevant, they don’t belong to the content level but to the relationship level.


One little example: Two men know each other for quite a long time, one is very passionate about environmental issues, the other less so and a bit annoyed by his friend. One day the eco guy comes up and says: „Do you actually know how bad Global Warming is?“. The careless guy could have answered: „No“ or „Yes“ or „Yes, but I don’t care!“ on a content level, but screams: „Leave me alone with your crazy ideologies!“. He completely leaves the content level, not even answering to the question, claiming the eco guy would believe in crazy things. He could have said: „I don’t know but I’m really not interested in it right now. And to be honest, I’m a bit annoyed by your stuff.“, to stick to the content level.


Anyway, what has all this to do with The Young Turks? The Young Turks is a news network on the internet, apparently the biggest in the world, but still only very little people know it, at least out of the US. It’s based in L.A. and was founded by Cenk Uygur. He is a Turkish American who came to the States when he was eight years old. He became a lawyer and worked as an attorney in Washington and New York. At some point he realized that there’s a lot of bad things going on in his country, especially involving money in politics. Another huge problem in the US in his mind is that public media is pretty bad, telling lies to the people and being financed by huge corporations and appropriate interests.


It’s in fact so bad that he decided to skip his law career and found a news channel on the internet. One that is based on telling the truth. That’s a bold claim for sure, but it’s not too hard if you focus on what makes great journalism, f.e. researching and basing reports and broadcasts on things you can prove, especially scientific studies. The easiest way to stay focussed is to keep ads away and only rely on donations like Wikipedia does or subscriptions. The Young Turks seem to be successful. By the way it’s pretty wise to try to never say something that is wrong, well, or apologize if you found out you did. One single lawsuit against The Young Turks could ruin their whole business model, making it even more likely they do a good job. And I’m convinced Cenk has just the right education to know how to play save.


The Young Turks have become pretty big over the years and there’s a lot of topics and shows that are live discussions regarding specific issues rather than only telling facts like on a news show. But it’s almost always that you can experience Cenk’s brilliancy in putting things straight. Knowing that he wouldn’t dare lying to you makes it even greater!


Check them out, they are well worth it www.tytnetwork.com and this is one example ...






29 Aug, 2013
Society - Lethal


photo by Paul Fusco


With so many horrible things going on in the world - wars, genetically modified food, factory farming, corrupt politicians, terrible conditions in the clothes production industry, complete internet surveillance, only to name a few - people get frustrated for good reason. The problem is, though, that most people feel helpless and resign. 


I think it‘s wrong. It‘s wrong because resigning prevents change. We‘re so many people on earth it‘s wrong to resign because we‘re powerful. We can‘t let all this go unchallenged, we the people need to stand up and say no. What‘s the point of being a human being when you just let everything happen without protest?


We humans are responsible, responsible for ourselves in the first place and responsible for our environment and other people as well. Sounds extensive and like a lot of work? It‘s not, it‘s about doing little things right. Our own behaviour regarding things we do or take for granted have a big impact on the environment and other people‘s lives. We don‘t necessarily need to help others actively but changing our behaviour in many areas can help others to have a better life or to keep our precious earth intact. Not taking plastic bags in the supermarket for example helps to prevent even more plastic to get into our oceans and pollute fish and the sea world.


But to bring it back to my point of not resigning and standing up the complexity of problems requires to set priorities. Some problems in our world today are minor compared to others. Some problems are lethal. One of those problems is radioactivity. You may ask, radioactivity? Why radioactivity? That‘s a legitimate question because we don‘t hear about problems with radioactivity anymore. Fukushima seems to be forgotten and Chernobyl all the more. The fact that public media doesn‘t speak about it anymore doesn‘t mean the problems were resolved. Politicians don‘t speak about it anymore because they play together with the big electricity companies and cover it up.


I don‘t wanna talk about Chernobyl today. I wanna talk about Fukushima. I am following events since the disaster happened in March 2011, I sat in front of the TV in Ascona, Switzerland, and cried. I can still remember when Chernobyl happened. My parents were building our own house in summer 1986 and we kids were not allowed to play in the sand outside the brick shell because of the „acid rain“. I cried in 2011 not only because we‘ve been to Japan two years earlier and visited cities like Sendai that have been badly hit and destroyed by the tsunami before the nuclear catastrophe and we‘ve been to places like Hiroshima or Nagasaki. I also cried because I immediately realized what this incident would mean for the Japanese people and this wonderful country. I felt that this was a true disaster and at least as horrible as Chernobyl 25 years earlier. I also cried because I was so sad and angry about our politicians and the electric power industry not having learned a lesson at all from Chernobyl and that the worst had to happen again in one of the most advanced countries in the world. Fukushima showed once again that nuclear energy is lethal and uncontrollable. Nuclear energy is disproportional because it threatens the health of people, it even risks and takes their life. If you do a weighting of the advantages and risks you come to the conclusion that there simply is no justification for risking people‘s lifes, and money should actually be taken out of consideration. As a lawyer you would have to call nuclear energy generation to be illegitimate, especially after events like Chernobyl but also those like Three Mile Island or Sellafield. Anyway, people have not learned from Chernobyl and did the best to cover up all that came with it, especially the thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of cancers. I cried because all this is coming to Japan, too, the country we fell so in love with. I cried because I knew the story would repeat and that responsible people would cover it up again despite other people getting sick and die. These responsible people need to be sued and go to jail. This is so outrageous, it‘s the worst disgrace in our modern world in my eyes.


I‘m coming up with this today because I stumbled over some interesting news regarding Fukushima in the last days. TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, who is responsible for what gets into public media is lying for two and a half years. First I thought it was wise to not let millions of people panic and make it even worse. I soon realized that it was their strategy and team play with nuclear companies, industrial nations, the health care industry and everybody making a money out of this dangerous business all over the world.


To make it short they all lie to keep the business going, reality is that Fukushima is far from being under control and it‘s in some ways much worse than Chernobyl. We got four reactors with three complete melt downs directly beside the sea, here the Pacific ocean. The molten mass is in the ground somewhere below the plant and there is no way to remove it. Japan had to admit a couple of weeks ago that 300 tons of highly contaminated water has been flowing into the Pacific every day for the last two and a half years and still does. There were tuna caught off the California coast a year ago all contaminated, as time goes by it gets worse and worse. The bad thing is, there is no way to stop all this. The only thing the Japanese can do is pour more water over the destroyed reactors and fuel rods still in the top stories of the four buildings. The contaminated water will flow into the sea probably forever as the radioactive mass has to be cooled so long. The only „good“ thing for us people in other parts of the world is that the Pacific is big enough that this tragedy will only be really bad for the people quite close to Fukushima, the Japanese. Anyway, you probably wouldn‘t eat fish in California anymore knowing that it‘s not deadly but still contaminated.


There‘s another really big problem in Fukushima. The reactors made by General Electric have their spent fuel rod pools in the top stories of the buildings. All four buildings are severely crippled with building four to be the weakest structurally, so there‘s a high risk the building may collapse, especially as there‘s still a chance of earthquakes. The spent rods need to be removed as soon as possible and stored the way it‘s done in intact plants on a general basis. The problem in Fukushima is that no machines can be used to remove the 1.300 rods, they simply don‘t work in such highly radioactive environment. The delicate removal has to be done by humans in extremely strong protective clothing, including very small and very thick glass to look through. This makes the undertaking even more delicate and dangerous.


The biggest problem still is the possibilty of a chain reaction and the many different ways this may occur after a sudden „weather event, power outage, earthquake, tsunami, cooling system failure, or explosion and fire in any way, shape, or form, at any location on the Fukushima site.“


So to summarize we have the cooling that constantly pollutes the sea with highly contaminated water, we have the risk of a chain reaction that can lead to an “Open-air super reactor spectacular“ as Dr. Christopher Busby calls it. We have the fuel rod removal problem and we have the three molten fuel blobs somewhere in the ground doing something nobody knows because it never happened before. This is pretty bad and for the rest of all our time a risk that endangers at least the life of the Japanese and the health of all other people in this world.


Dire ... So, we need to power down all nuclear plants, something we should have done for the last 27 years, at once, simple! And please don't tell me we couldn't do it, that's not even ridiculous, it's reckless and stupid!





sources: Interview with fallout researcher Christina Consolo, 300 tons of contaminated water daily, Accusing TEPCO, Contaminating the whole Pacific?, Pump and Pray by Christopher Busby, Worse than Chernobyl by Christoper Busby, RT is an international multilingual Russian-based television network




5 Aug, 2013
Society - Consumption


Monday is originally my gear day, but I will post my article about dynamic range tomorrow as I am on the bus at the moment and wanna post some sample images with it.


This week my Monday will be my Tuesday. One big problem in our world of today is consumption. We all use much too much of everything. Really? Well, you may argue, so what, humans only live for a hundred years maximum, why not do whatever you want? Fair enough, but what‘s the point about being a human when you only care about yourself. Aren‘t we here on earth to make the best out of everyone‘s life, aren‘t we here to be compassionate, to help others, too, and keep our planet tidy. We may not, but to me that‘s one important thing about being a „good“ human being.


What does consumption have to do with being a good or bad human? Like with most everything consumption has at least two sides, precisely it has something to do with physics. Consuming something means some energy has to be put into it to create it in the first place. In our world it‘s easily illustrated. To drive a car for example you need gas. To drive a big car you need more gas to travel the same distance. To drive the bigger car fast you need even more gas. Gas consumption is bad twofold. You first have to extract oil to produce it. Because we used so many billions of tons of oil we now do very silly things like Drilling or Fracking even in the most dangerous or precious places, for example on the oceans‘ floor in earthquake regions of the world. We take the risk to pollute the environment tremendously to simply get oil. Why do we do this? Because our consumption of oil is so high that we simply „need“ it. What for? For cars, ships, planes, to produce plastic and all sorts of synthetics and for millions of other things. Oil is our lifeblood. But isn‘t it a bad idea to risk our precious mother earth to get this oil?


You may think after all those centuries human kind should be wise enough to have alternatives. There certainly are, many! Which? One very easy but highly effective one is to consume less. That‘s uncomfortable!? Well, to tell you the truth, it‘s high time. Pollution and global warming are at a point where reduction is actually necessary to prevent the worst. And it often means you do not even have to compromise or give up on too much. Driving an electric or hybrid car will also bring you to your final destination by consuming far less gas thus oil. There's also things like wind or solar energy, water power plants, natural materials, kinetic energy recovery systems to only name a few.


Second bad thing about oil is the fact that it‘s consumption comes along with emission of carbon dioxide, very bad for our climate worsen global warming even more.


And third, consuming less oil has another very useful impact to improving the situation, it‘s saving our own money. Driving a hybrid car saves you enough money on a trip to pay for an extra evening in a bar with your friends or to buy a present for yourself or your partner. Beside you play a part in contributing to saving our world, pretty cool, eh!?


Well, you may not like to contribute to a better world and simply love to drive big cars and fly even on the shortest trips. Fair enough, but don‘t expect attentive people to respect you, for a good reason.


But it‘s not about oil alone. Consuming less also refers to other things, and remember, as long as it‘s something made out of plastic oil is used again. A really bad thing today for so many reasons is meat! Meat? Why meat? Aren‘t humans meat eaters, we are, but only to some extend. Our meat consumption has become pretty excessive over the years. Do you remember the good old times of Sunday roast. You may argue we‘re not in war times anymore, right. But we don‘t need to eat salami in the morning, a sausage for lunch and a steak for dinner every day either. Meat production is very energy consuming. Why? Because a huge amount of material, effort and time has to be put into the whole production process. It starts with the feed for the animals, manure and water for the fields for the crop, then factories in the production chain to stables and breeding. It‘s quite logical that it consumes far more resources, time and money to first breed animals with vegetables and crop instead of eating both strait ;-) So, we can contribute to a better world by simply eating less meat? Yes! And we don‘t have to kill innocent animals either, bravo!


Why do we all consume so much? It‘s our capitalist system that not only makes billions of money out of the production of all those things, it actually is dependent on this massive amount we consume. Why? Because most companies are stock companies listed at the stock markets. Share holders are expecting better financial results every year thus we need to consume even more to really satisfy those people. I say those people because shares are held by institutional investors mainly, not normal citizens, not so great, right? And worse, when citizens try to invest themselves they get suckered by the investors and banks. And when those banks go bankrupt because their greed knew no boundaries. Guess who pays the bail-out, the poor, dumb citizens. Ring!? Sorry for simplifying but you get the point. But to stick to the topic, our world is related to shareholder value. It‘s not a vicious circle, though, it‘s just that in 2013 companies are trying nearly everything they can to make us believe we needed all those things and worse, even more of it every year. Advertising tells us we need new cellphones as soon as possible, there are idiotically many car models on the market and every year it‘s becoming even more new ones. That‘s part of the terrible throwaway society we‘ve deteriorated to. Most things, even expensive things, don‘t last very long anmore, they don‘t need to because the system is telling us to buy new things soon enough anyway. Too bad, I love to use old things and love things that last long or that are efficient. I am wearing shirts I bought 15 years ago and they still look great.


Clothes is another field that has become completely pervert. Workers in the production chain are mostly suffering really bad working conditions because share holder value forces companies to squeeze out every bit they can compromising on labour conditions and industrial safety. The result are burning or collapsing factories with thousands of innocent workers dying who are treated inhuman in the first place anyway, disgusting! That‘s one reason why I created my clothing collection in the best and most appropriate way possible. Although I know that it's difficult to sell those clothes because most people don‘t care and I can understand it. Why buy a T-Shirt that has sole production cost of nearly 10 € (marketing and everything else not included) when consumers can buy a Jeans on Sale at stores like kik for as low as 1,50 €. People are hardly earning enough themselves to afford a normal living. Labour law and wages is another problem in a system that needs to produce as cheap as possible instead of building on fair and human standards and respecting those.


OK, longer than planned, synopsis, let‘s consume less of everything, going completely without is not necessary most of the time, although in some case you just get used to it and don‘t feel for it anymore, meat for example. Drinking less beer helps, too ;-)


See you next time, happy saving