Saturday, May 15, 2021

Be Consistent!

By now, my readers know my discomfort with gendering. In February, I gave you an example of gender madness in Germany:


Studentinnen (female) and Studenten (male) are now not only officially but commonly called Studierende.

That's not all. When I passed the other day the entrance to this very Lutheran Students' Community building, I read the following:


So what is the correct name of the Community?

Let's face it; Use of the present participle and the Binnen-I to make the language gender-equitable are not the only possibilities currently discussed in Germany.

These options are not part of the official orthography, e.g., Genderstern (Student*innen), Gendergap (Student_innnen), Doppelpunkt (Student:innen), and Mediopunkt (Student•innen). Of those, the internal-I, the gender asterisk and the gender gap are widespread. The Council for German Orthography does not endorse these options but at least discusses them as means to strive for gender-equitable written expressions.

In 2020, the Duden* listed the internal-I as a possibility of "gender-appropriate language" but insisted that its use is "not covered by the official rules."
*Germany's Webster

The Council for German Orthography only admitted, "Since the internal-I has a ‘graphostilistic' aspect, it is an element of text design."

There is no end to the discussion. The Greens recommend more gender-neutral terms for official communications. Should one use the asterisk instead of the interior-I to include all genders and gender identities?


The slightly right-wing Verein Deutsche Sprache (German Language Society) bitterly opposed to any gendering of the German language wrote, "In principle, a gender starlet is nothing more than five silly apostrophes* arranged in a circle."
*comparable in English to the grocer's apostrophe

Which now? Red Baron keeps shaking his head.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Standard Model

Red Baron loves the Standard Model in physics and admired it in several of his blogs.

 

My latest encounter with this beauty I had during a lively discourse by David Tong, professor of theoretical physics at Cambridge University, titled The real building blocks of the Universe. Most of the pictures shown below I drew from his talk.


David talked in the same lecture hall where Faraday in 1828 demonstrated the phenomena of electricity on a piece of furniture still present today.

So here is the nowadays well-known illustration of the composition of matter …


… and here is ...

 

... or as David called it ...


The world is made up of 12 fundamental particles. Stable matter only needs the first row where two up and one down quark held together by the strong nuclear force compose the proton; neutrons contain one up quark and two down quarks. Proton, neutrons, and electrons in various combinations form all chemical elements.


Our world is held together by four known forces. These forces correspond to fields where "ripples" in those fields give rise to particles like gravitons, photons, quarks, and intermediate bosons, 


The Higgs boson fills in a gap. Ripples in the Higgs field give particles their mass.

So far, so good or so far and not so good. Physicists are not satisfied with the present Standard Model, as presented here in a so-called TOE:


In their time, Einstein and Heisenberg had tried hard to develop a world formula. Einstein spent the last thirty years of his life formulating a unified field theory, while in 1958, Heisenberg published his Materiegleichung (matter equation). Without the present knowledge, their efforts remained laudable patchworks.

As I mentioned before: The above equation does not allow the calculation of the masses of particles and has no term for dark masses and energies. So there must be more physics beyond the Standard Model. However, the search for "new" particles at energies available at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was unsuccessful, but they are a Must, according to the New Physics.

In an article in Nature, I read the following sentence: Since the Standard Model was first put together in the 1970s, it has passed all tests and has survived almost unchanged. But physicists are convinced that it must be incomplete, and some hope that muons will reveal its first failure.

The fact is that the magnetic moment g of the muon is slightly different from 2, where in a first approximation this difference is explained by the Standard Model and can be calculated within this model.

Because the g-factor of the muon may be affected by physics beyond the Standard Model, it has been measured very precisely in the past at CERN and recently independently at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermilab near Chicago.

Red Baron still remembers the g-2 experiment that ran at CERN at the beginning of the 1970s. At their muon storage ring, Emilio Picasso and his collaborators obtained a magnetic moment, i.e.,
a (g-2)/2 value for the muon of 0.001 162 ± 0.000 005, which Emilio and bis team at that time considered in agreement with the then theoretical value for the muon of 0.001 165.


The progress in technology never stops. Look at the results. In 2006 the discrepancy between the up to the now accepted theoretical value of 0.001 165 918 1 and 0.001 165 920 9 for the (g-2)/2 E821 experiment at Brookhaven smelled a new physics.

However, in the meantime, an independent measurement at Fermilab lowered the agreed experimental value to 0.001 165 920 6. At the same time, a recent "more refined "calculation by Szabolcs Borsanyi et al. resulted in a number for (g-2)/2 of 0.001 165 919 5.

Taking the uncertainties of both measurement (±0.000 000 000 6) and theoretical calculation (±0.000 000 000 9) into account, do you still believe in physics beyond the Standard Model? 

Or do you rather like the world on a string around your finger like Ol' Blue Eyes? But that's another story, sorry, I mean theory.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Oldtimer

... is a so-called false friend. This is how Germans call their vintage cars.


The other day just at the corner on a neighboring street, I saw it parked: a vintage Beetle from 1959. Why do I know the year?


I still remember one of the Volkswagen slogans at that time: Blinker statt Winker, i.e., from August 1, 1960, Volkswagen replaced the traditional VW semaphore turn signals with conventional flashing directional indicator lamps.

The Beetle on the right could have been my car (©VW Oldtimerfreunde)
If you watch the vintage car closely, you notice that a chromium piece covers the slot of the original semaphore. The owner has replaced the turn signal with a flashing directional light integrated into the small red taillight. However, when the rear light is flashing, it is difficult to distinguish between intermittent braking and a change of direction.

 (©VW Oldtimerfreunde)
Subsequently, in 1961, Volkwagen modified the taillight into a two-chamber system: orange indicating a change in direction and bright red when the brakes are in action.


Red Baron bought his first car in December 1960, a brand new red (what else?) Beetle dashing out about 2000 euros.


Here is the rear of Red Baron's 1960 Beetle, proving that the rear bumper of the Freiburg vintage car is not an original part.

The photo was taken in 1962. In that year, I worked on my thesis at an institute located in a suburb of Munich. Note that I kept my Hamburg license plates (Hansestadt Hamburg) while residing in Munich.

In the backyard of his lab, Red Baron in a white lab coat is replacing those dangerous taillights. I had bought the new casings and refitted them.


Another Volkswagen slogan that impressed me in December 1960 was: Vier PS mehr (Four more hp). On August 1, 1960, VW increased the power of its 1200 ccm air-cooled engine from 30 hp (22 kW) to 34 hp (25 kW). 

My Indian-red Beetle had a Schiebedach (translated as a ragtop, but better described as a folding roof).

Near Primošten, Yugoslavia, on our honeymoon trip. Elisabeth, looking at the photographer, is standing in the car. Sorry, but in the 1960s, most photos taken in Germany were black-and-white. 


Looking for the red color of my Beetle, I found the above car offered for 23,000 euros on eBay. It has the original taillights, bumpers, and folding roof, but the tires are not correct, and the color of the car is only approximate. The red in the photo with the flashing directional indicator lamps shown above comes closer. Indian-red Beetles were only produced in the period 1960/61. 

 There was a third slogan about the Beetle I remember well: Er läuft und läuft und läuft ... (It runs and runs and runs ...). It is true I never had a major breakdown or was stranded with my Beetle in the middle of nowhere. But I experienced the slogan's spoof too: Er säuft und säuft und säuft ... (It heavily drinks and drinks and drinks ...). My Beetle was a boozer.

Every Monday when I entered my lab in Munich, a gloating colleague had already his slide rule* out, declaring, "My Beetle was a piggy bank again, only 7.6 liters (of gas per 100 km)." This corresponds to a range of 31 miles per gallon, while my car never made it above 22. My colleague had the previous 22 kW engine while I had the famous 3 kW more and the well-known gas-guzzler. 
*There were no pocket calculators in 1961

 The car that I nowadays drive is from 2009, has a power of 215 kW and a range of 23 miles per gallon or better, manifesting the technical progress in 50 years.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Chalice Passed Once

Due to Corona at Freiburg, Kieser gym still drives auf Sicht, i.e., within a clear distance or an assured clear vision.

Falling or stabilizing?
When in Freiburg on Saturday, April 24, the corona incidence rate of 103,8 infections per 100,000 people exceeded 100, followed by a value of 102.5 the following day, Red Baron feared that the Bundesnotbremse will come into force and Kieser gym will shut down.

But when on April 26, the incidence rate was only 98.2, the condition of three consecutive days above 100 was not fulfilled. The counter was reset, or the chalice had passed for the first, and hopefully last time.

Red Baron is frustrated for the Bundesnotbremse measures everything by the same yardstick. As I wrote before, Kieser gym is no source of infection. We know by now that the transmission of Covid-19 goes via aerosols with prolonged or intense exposures in ill-ventilated rooms.

At Kieser's gym, distances are kept, masks are worn, and windows are wide open. Every time I am exercising, I fear that I will catch a cold instead of the coronavirus. But this feeling is untrue for the peoples' increased observation of hygiene rules made that seasonal flu-like infections were at a minimum.


There is another topic presently raising tempers in Germany. The government hesitates to issue a decree with the nice, prosaic title in German: "Verordnung zur Regelung von Erleichterungen und Ausnahmen von Schutzmaßnahmen zur Verhinderung der Verbreitung von Covid-19 or short Covid-19-Schutzmaßnahmen-Ausnahmenverordnung – SchAusnahmV (Ordinance on the Regulation of Facilitations and Exemptions from Safeguards to Prevent the Spread of Covid-19, i.e., Covid-19 Safeguards Exemptions Ordinance.)"

This Safeguard Ordinance states in glorious detail that vaccinated and recovered persons will be able "to enter stores, visit zoos and botanical gardens, or use the services of hairdressers and chiropodists, e.g., without prior testing."

In addition, contact restrictions are to be relaxed, and exit restrictions will be lifted. However, the obligation to wear a mask in certain places and the distance requirement in public spaces will continue to apply to everyone.

Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said that she is pleased that the government gives more freedom to recovered and fully vaccinated people liberating them from "far-reaching restrictions on fundamental rights."

Suppose there is no longer any reason for the restrictions, i.e., protection against infection. In that case, Christine affirmed, "Constitutional principles must apply, especially in times of crisis and pandemic."

If parliament and senate agree the Ordinance could come into force the coming weekend.

N.B. This is my 800th blog.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Asterix et le Griffon

The two partners in Gaul, Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad, are back! They had and still have happy confinement and concocted an invigorating potion for us: a new Asterix album to be found on October 21, 2021, in all bookstores in Gaul and the Known World!

What a positive announcement.


Red Baron has a complete collection of Asterix albums and, besides at least 60 centimeters of secondary literature on the odd couple Asterix and Obelix and surroundings.


The title of the 39th volume of the comic will be „Asterix And the Griffin.“ 

In mythology, a griffin is a legendary creature that borrows the body and the face of an eagle and the back and hind legs of a lion.


Added to the announcement of the new comic is the above mystery page.


Red Baron started reading the Asterix comics in 1969 when he began his work at CERN, struggling with Molière‘s language.


Here is the cover of my and the first volume (1969) of the Asterix comic series slightly gone yellow ...


… and the repeating introduction page.


Already in the third volume, the two heroes started to travel, adventuring into the Goth territory.

 

The Goth comic harps on the stereotypes French readers foster about their German neighbors. Dialogs in this volume, although in French, are in Gothic-type letters and the Goths are martial males wearing spiked helmets.


Their sixth adventure brings Asterix and Obelix to the British Isles …


… where it's (always) raining, the beer is warm, and Obelix‘s favorite diet, wild boar, is served cooked in mint sauce.

Red Baron is looking forward to October 21.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Island of Bliss

In Germany's southwest, Freiburg and its surroundings remain below an incidence rate of 100 covid cases per 100,000 people.

©ntv
If you look at the map, it is an island if you englobe neighboring France. Regarding German corona restrictions only, Red Baron lives on a blessed peninsula.

©Der Tagesspiegel
Above an incidence rate of 100, a "federal emergency brake" grips from yesterday night on.

Parliament (Bundestag) and Senate (Bundesrat) tightened and revised the Federal Infection Protection Law in an expedited proceeding. Grudgingly, in a special session last Thursday, the Senate voted in favor.

The governor of Hesse, Volker Bouffier (CDU),  said, "The law represents the deepest cuts in fundamental rights that have ever existed."

Concluding the session, the governor of Saxony-Anhalt and present president of the Senate, Reiner Haseloff (CDU) sharply criticized the shift of responsibility in a pandemic to the federal government by the amended Infection Protection Act. "Today is a low point in the federal culture of the Federal Republic of Germany," said Haseloff. "The legislative initiative and the discussions to justify have inflicted damage on the cooperative federalism we have successfully lived for decades. That won't be easy to heal."

However, given the third wave of covid infections infesting Germany, time is of the essence. The Federal President signed the law last Thursday evening.

©ntv
The covid situation remains tense.

©ntv
The available number of intensive care places in hospitals is not limited by the number of ventilators but by the number of capable nursing staff.

©Der Tagesspiegel
Within the third wave, the age distribution of covid-stricken persons has changed. While during the second wave, the age group from 80 to 90+ needed intensive care, now persons from 15 to 60 are the most infected group. Old people, including Red Baron, are vaccinated, but the younger cohort shows more severe disease progression and a need for longtime intensive care.

Yesterday night the "federal emergency brake" came into force in 325 of 401 German counties and cities with a seven-day incidence of more than 100 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past three days. Key measures include nighttime curfew restrictions, contact, and shopping restrictions, and federal rules for schools and daycares:

Curfew restrictions: If the number of reported new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a county or city exceeds 100 for three days in a row within seven days, people will not be allowed to leave their homes after 10 p.m. There are exceptions to this rule: Walking and jogging alone, for example, are permitted until midnight, and driving to work or home from work is possible. Those in need of medical assistance can, of course, get out as well.

Meetings: Likewise, if the seven-day incidence exceeds 100 for more than three days, no more than one household may meet with another person, excluding children 14 and younger.

Shopping: Up to an incidence of 150 for three consecutive days, stores may only offer shopping on appointment or by "click and meet," and only to customers who present a negative Corona test. If the incidence exceeds 150, only "click and collect" is possible.

Schools and daycare centers: If the seven-day incidence exceeds the threshold of 100 for three consecutive days, alternate instruction becomes mandatory from the day after the next. If the incidence exceeds 165, attendance classes are prohibited from the day after the next, and regular care in daycare centers is not permitted. Graduating classes are exempt.

Home office: Employers must continue to offer home office if possible, and employees must take up the offer if reasonable.

The updated Infection Protection Law leaves it up to the federal states to lay down additional, mostly stricter rules.

In the meantime, opposition parties, groups, and individuals sent more than thirty emergency appeals to the Federal Constitutional Court (Germany's Supreme Court) to declare, in particular, the curfew as an "authoritarian state." regulation and, therefore, as unconstitutional.

©BZ
Freiburg presently has an incidence rate of 96. Red Baron keeps his fingers crossed that the number will stay below 100. In case of exceeding the mark during three consecutive days, Kieser must close. For that emergency, I still keep a prescription in my wallet worth ten sessions of machine-supported physiotherapy at an authorized medical center.

Breaking news: Tonight, Freiburg passed the limit of 100 and is at 103.8. Red Baron‘s hopes are zerstoben (dispersed)!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

On the Poetry of the Higgs Boson

Our master of ceremonies started off the Freiburg Writers' Group meeting on April 13, "talking about the essay, the genre able to hold all other genres, and the genre most frequently associated with figuring out what one thinks about a certain topic."

"We, also, as usual, looked at an exercise in Brian Kiteley's 3am Epiphany: '#84, Fact and Fancy,' which asks the writer to alternate factual, 'objective' sentences with personal, 'subjective' sentences and pay attention to the tensions created between sentences."

"And we started writing essays on various topics. Since we all attempted, we were all successful."


Red Baron tried hard to write about his topic, "On the Poetry of the Higgs Boson," but wasn't so successful with all my insufficiencies regarding my active vocabulary in poetry. After all, the English thesaurus comprising Germanic- and Romance-rooted words is huge.

Here is a slightly improved version of what I was able to write by hand* on April 13, in the limited time given:
*Red Baron likes those finger exercises being the one but the only opportunity to keep my handwriting abilities active. The writing of letters of condolence is always so depressing.

When the long-awaited Higgs boson had finally been discovered, the high-energy community was relieved but still left unsatisfied. The standard model now being confirmed does not explain the world. There must be physics beyond the Higgs.

The rose of physics only to be compared to Luther's rose (©Stefan Mesoli/CERN)
I, on the other hand, as an old man and a physicist, feel satisfied. I see the beauty of the by now classical system with the Higgs boson falling just into the right place.

Leave me alone, you unsatisfied young guys, although you are right in pointing out the deficiencies of the standard model of high-energy physics. Only to mention: Why can't we still predict or better calculate the masses of all known particles? What about the missing dark masses and energies that must be somewhere guaranteeing the stability of the world in which we live?

Presently all experimental physicists are frustrated looking for a "new physics" without success while theoreticians create one complex string model after the other.

We don't need those even bigger and more expensive machines. They become too complex, like string theories. Aren't all established laws of physics simple and full of mathematical beauty?

What we need is a new genius capable of writing treaties like Kepler's Astronomie nova, Newton's Principia, Maxwell's electromagnetic equations*, Einstein's relativity theories, Pauli's exclusion principle, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and Gell-Mann's quark model.
*lagniappe at the end

So far, I don't see anybody in sight. Has the human brain finally reached its level of incompetence? Too bad.

Lagniappe

When James Clerk Maxwell had published his "A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism" in 1873, the scientific world was excited. So was Ludwig Boltzmann, another giant of physics who had just joined the University of Vienna as a professor of mathematics.

 

He, like many others, tried hard to understand the four "simple" and beautiful equations describing all electromagnetic phenomena.

Boltzmann had difficulties and fell into one of his frequent depressions. His colleagues urged him to take some holidays.

The evening before the departure, his best friend opened Boltzmann's luggage. On top of all the clothing lay Maxwell's "A Treatise."

Later in his life, Boltzmann lectured theoretical physics. When he taught his students electrodynamics, he always referred to a line in Goethe's Faust, "War es ein Gott der diese Zeichen schuf … ?" (Was it a god who created these characters?).

Ludwig Boltzmann is famous for his interpretation of heat as a statistical phenomenon. Max Planck honored him by introducing the Boltzmann constant.

In 1906 while on vacation, another depression made him commit suicide.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Non-Fiction Into Fiction


The title reminds readers well-versed in the Bible of Isaiah 2:4, "swords into plowshares," and this was my problem during the recent ZOOM meeting of the Freiburg Writers' Group.

Indeed, the topic of the evening was "Revision as an act of violence," i.e., in the worse case, breaking an existing oeuvre into pieces and using these as building blocks for a new creation. 

How do you "break" a text? The possibilities of "breaking" a text are endless. Here are a few examples proposed by our master of ceremonies:

cut it up à la Burroughs

delete every xth word

n+7 (replace every noun with the noun that comes seven places after the original noun in the dictionary)

retype the whole text/single sentences/single lines backward

switch perspectives

change the setting

change the tense

insert new words, new sentences, new paragraphs, new pages, non-sequiturs footnotes endnotes bifurcations, interpolations endlessly nested parentheticals

anagram it

again mart

Maria gnat

Most participants took one of their poems, omitted words, starting from the end, or even took the existing words, mixing them into a new text, and eventually worrying about what to do with the remaining, unused words.

While all others worked hard, Red Baron desperately browsed through his 787 blogs looking for a short contribution that lent itself to be "broken."

When the time was up, I was astonished by what I had written in the past but concluded that non-fiction does not allow modifications, or should I try to transformer non-fiction into fake?

During the following discussion, the idea was born to revise a non-fiction text into fiction or, as proposed, "switch perspectives."

Here is a short section that I took from one of my blogs in 2015: Deutscher Wald. There I had made some excursion into the reoccurring plots of German fairy tales concerning German woods and then started a new paragraph: :

Enough of those atavistic reflections. Let me instead dig into the BZ article entitled: The trees and we. What I learned was that German attachment to their woods dates back to the Middle Ages, where arable farmland was scarce and generally insufficient to feed the families with many children given the poor agricultural yield in those times. There was no room for pastureland; thus, farmers drove horses, cows, and pigs into the woods to look for their food. Those pigs were particularly happy. They ate acorns and beechnuts for lunch, dug for cockchafer grubs for dinner, and closed their meals with truffles.

While the Grimm brothers had left Hansel und Gretel hungry in the woods, my "stroppy" fiction goes like this:

Hansel and Gretel's stomachs growled as they marched in the woods. The boy started to weep. "Get hold of yourself," Gretel snarled at her brother, "The pebbles you took from home we cannot eat, but there is plenty of food in the woods."

She gave a pig digging for truffles a beating with her stick. Squeaking, the saw took to her heels. Gretel bent for the black tuber, and, weighing it in one hand, her eyes started to glow.

"I can't eat this, " whined Hansel. "You fool," retorted his sister, "We will become rich selling truffles. Let those pigs work for us," and ordered poor Hansel to run after them.

And he ran happily after the pigs, ever after.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Corona News, Corona Blues


Note the Easter holiday dip in the otherwise rising curve.
Germany is in the tight grip of the third wave of Corona. Infections are rising, with the more contagious British variant responsible for 90% of all cases.

 

Presently, the Corona incidence rate in Freiburg is 73.5 per 100,000 people, higher than at Easter, 66.6, but still low compared to other regions in Germany.


On March 23, step 4 of the federal opening plan became effective, i.e., if the corona incidence rate stays below 100 cases per 100,000 people over three consecutive days, indoor non-contact sport is allowed.

Kieser gym in Freiburg on Grünwalderstraße has taken advantage of this opening, and Red Baron had his first muscle training on March 24.

Clients must register and reserve their hour of practice in advance. They do their workouts and leave.

Five new people may enter the Kieser training premises of 500 square meters every 15 minutes. Half the machines for muscle strengthening are blocked. With such a timely and spacious distribution of customers, Kieser over fulfills by far the distance rules.

Due to the low occupancy, the gym's opening is not worthwhile economically, but as the Kieser spokesperson claims, "Our focus at the moment is on maintaining health." Thank you, Kieser.


The rise of corona cases of the third wave in Germany is alarming. The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, warned, "We are now being caught up in the clinics by the infections that took place four weeks ago."

With more and more older adults getting their jabs, now the age group between 30 and 60 is concerned. The head of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, said that according to data from around 70 clinics nationwide, more and more younger people had to be treated in hospitals because of severe respiratory infections. Intensive care units were filling up rapidly. He added, "This development, unfortunately, shows that the situation is very, very serious."

 

Intensive care specialists hit the alarm, for it is easy to predict that a percentage of those infected now will later find themselves in intensive care wards. Besides, young people struggling for their lives remain in the hospital for more extended periods.

Hospitals nationwide are once again preparing for an onslaught of new and, this time, younger patients. Will Germany's intensive care units enter into a period of triage?

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Hans Küng R.I.P.

Having reached the biblical age of 93, the outstanding Swiss theologian died last Tuesday in his house at Tübingen.


Hans Küng was one of the best-known church critics in the German-speaking world. Again and again, he criticized the structures of his Catholic Church, e.g., he expressed doubts about the dogma of papal infallibility.
 
No wonder that the Church revoked Küng's teaching license in 1979, but he remained at the University of Tübingen as a faculty-independent professor of ecumenical theology.

Red Baron is always interested in the fundamental question, "Why do we exist?" So Küng became my trusted and loyal comrade in my seeking of God.


Here are some of his books (from left to right) that I read: On Being a Christian (1974),
Judaism: Between Yesterday and Tomorrow (1992), Christianity: Its Essence and History (1995), Islam: Past, Present, and Future (2007), Eternal Life: Life after Death As a Medical, Philosophical and Theological Program (1984), Credo: The Apostle's Creed Explained for Today (1993), What I Believe (2010), The Beginning of All Things – Science and Religion (2007).

There is an anecdote. During a three-month scientific stay at the High Energy Accelerator Research Center (KEK) in Japan in 1980, I stowed the heavy volume On Being a Christian in my luggage to study it carefully while at KEK.

On February 8, an article appeared in The Japan Times, "Kueng: Member of the Loyal Opposition," describing the ousting of Küng as a professor of Catholic theology. The tenor of the paper and most letters to the editor harped on the inquisitional attitude of the Church.

On the other hand, in a letter to the editor, Red Baron deplored Rome's inflexibility. I claimed that changing times need fresh interpretations of the gospel. For me, Küng was one of the heralds of good tidings, a modern evangelist.

In the early 1990s, Küng initiated his project Weltethos, of which he became president. Küng described the Global Ethic Project's goal as "Peace among religions, cultures, and nations based on some common elementary ethical values, standards and attitudes."

©Gunther Schenk/Wikipedia
Here is a picture from those younger years: Mayor Boris Palmer, Old-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and President of the Global Ethic Foundation Hans Küng (from left to right) on May 8, 2007, in Tübingen on the occasion of the "Global Ethic" speech organized by Küng and delivered by Schmidt. Palmer still serves as Mayor of Tübingen.

The query "Why do we exist?" still haunts me. When in 2005 I had finished Küng's book, Der Anfang aller Dinge (The Beginning of All Things), I felt fit to address the religious war on evolution, giving a talk on Intelligent Design versus Darwinism at the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft.

In 2010, I read Küng's book Was ich glaube (What I believe) and later was deeply disappointed by "Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design.

In December 2012, after more input to my religious quest, I concluded with the Beatles, "All you need is love."

Again in December, but two years later, I read an article about "True Religion." When I had finished, I repeated the conclusion of the author, "All religious movements are based on faith; and faith, which is belief in the absence of convincing evidence isn't true or false, but simply irrational."

But there is hope. My favorite astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson published a book, Cosmic Queries, StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going.

If Neil doesn't answer the query, "Why do we exist?" will he at least teach me where we are going? I am eagerly waiting for Cosmic Queries to become available as an e-book.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Happy Easter

Let me take the occasion of Easter to present you with a few splinters. The information is too small for entire blogs to write.

This morning I went downtown to the Minster Market. While waiting for the streetcar, I noticed a long queue aligned on the other sideway.


White Asparagus


They will pay any price for the white gold.
Those people keeping their distances were patiently standing in line for buying the first asparagus of the year. Faithful readers may remember that Germans are mad about white asparagus. Red Baron likes the vegetable too, but this year may have to do without if Freiburg's specialized restaurants remain closed during the asparagus season (April to the middle of June).


A Cashpoint



A month ago, this cash dispenser suddenly appeared near my streetcar stop and immediately became the talk of the town. The ATM machine, placed on private ground in a recess of an existing building, waits for customers. Up to now, I haven't seen anyone getting cash from the banknote dispenser.

Although no cash is dispensed; the landowner cashes in a monthly fee from the teller machine's operator.

The reason for the machine being idle is twofold.

All major and saving banks in Germany have cash dispensers of their own where customers fetch their banknotes free of charge.

Although Germans love their banknotes and despise credit cards, they need less cash during the pandemic with retailers and restaurants closed. So all banks in Germany have already reduced their cash dispensers by 20%.

While people in my quarter think that the cash dispenser is at the wrong place, it is definitely there at the wrong time.


Holbeinpferdchen


©BZ

©Lindt

Red Baron blogged about the foal named Holbein before. He also accompanied the slimming-down action.

Now the foal was dressed up as the well-known Golden Easter Bunny.

Although marked "Lindt," don't bite into the wrong bunny!


Kieser Training



Following the opening of Kieser Training on March 22, Red Baron has used their equipment extensively, always coming home feeling stiff and aching.


Will they still be allowed to operate in 10 days? It all depends on the Covid-19 incidence rate in Freiburg. Yesterday the city was at 66.6.

In case the figure exceeds 100 over three consecutive days, Kieser must close again. I keep my fingers crossed. My weakened body needs exercise!


Magnolia in Blossom



Remember my blog about my personal spring indicator? The magnolia in front of my kitchen window came into full bloom just for Easter. 

A Happy Easter to all my friends and readers.