Monday, November 24, 2014

Back to the Roots?

In an earlier blog I had written: Most beer drinkers know about the German purity decree for their favourite brew. It actually is not German since it was Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria ordering on April 23, 1516, the Reinheitsgebot. Since 1994 the Tag des deutschen Bieres (Day of the German beer) is celebrated on 23rd of April.

The other day in Munich Red Baron was shocked about his ignorance when he read on a sign at a Maibaum on Viktualienmarkt (Munich's touristic food market) that the Munich Reinheitsgebot already dates from anno Domini 1487. In that year Duke Albert IV the Wise of Bavaria-Munich cast an order of the Munich magistrate of 1453 into law, dass Bier und Greußing* nu füran auch aus nichts anderem dann Hopfen, Gersten und Wasser gesotten werden (that from now on and forever beer and mild beer shall be seethed using nothing else than hops, barley and water).
*a beer with less hops

Yeast is not mentioned here because in those days fermentation of the mash started spontaneously by bacteria from the surrounding air. This is similar to the method my mother used when milk was left in an open receptacle in the kitchen for two or three days until it became set.

Six years later on February 16, 1493 Duke George the Rich of Bavaria-Landshut issued another purity decree for his territory: Item die Bierbräuer und andere sollen auch nichts zum Bier gebrauchen denn allein Malz, Hopfen und Wasser, noch dieselben Bräuer auch die Bierschenken und andere nichts anderes in das Bier thun, bey Vermeidung von Strafe an Leib und Gut (Also the beer brewers shall use nothing else for making beer than malt, hops, and water and shall as the beer-houses not put anything else into the beer thus avoiding punishment for body and property).

Following the reunification of the various parts of Bavaria Duke Wilhelm IV proclaimed on April 23, 1516, the above mentioned common purity decree for the whole of Bavaria: Wir wollen auch sonderlichhen dass füran allenthalben in unsern stetten märckthen un auf dem lannde zu kainem pier merer stüchh dan allain gersten, hopfen un wasser genommen un gepraucht solle werdn (We want in particular that everywhere in our towns, markets, and in the countryside to any beer no more than barley, hops, and water shall be taken and used). Later this Bavarian purity decree formed part of the Reichsbiersteuergesetz (Imperial taxation law for beer) and was called Vorläufiges Biergesetz (Preliminary Beer Law) in the Federal Republic. Preliminary, because its articles now are part of the Lebensmittel- und Futtermittelgesetzbuch (Legal code for food and fodder) of September 1, 2005.

Back to the roots? We Germans should not be too proud as already in 1438 Duke Philip III the Good of Burgundy had issued a Pflichtenheft (functional specification document) demanding that for the production of bierre only water, Burgundian hops, and barley must be used. Purists claim that Duke Philip was not concerned with the purity of the beer but rather wanted to protect the monopoly of Burgundian hops.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christopher Clark

He was in Freiburg, Professor Christopher Clark from Cambridge, and gave a lecture in perfect German and in the framework of the Saturday University: Die Schlafwandler - Wie Europa in den Ersten Weltkrieg zog (The dreamwalkers - how Europe went to war in the First World War).
Professor Clark and a lady announcing his lecture
Red Baron went early to get a seat in front (ears and eyes obligent) and found the Audimax of the University already half full. At 11 a.m. s.t. the auditorium was fully packed and when Professor Clark started his lecture at 11 a.m. c.t. some latecomers had to stand.

Had all those people come to listen to what you read in many reviews of Clarks book: Germany was not to bear the blame for the outbreak of the Great War? It is amazing; more than 250 000 copies of the history book of nearly 1000 pages have already been sold in the German edition not counting the upcoming holiday season. Two months ago another known specialist, Professor Gerd Krumeich, teaching in Freiburg remarked at the end of his lecture about the Great War somewhat jealously: How can anyone read such a book? Read mine; it is shorter (Juli 1914. Eine Bilanz, 362 pages).

There is a difference in opinion between the two historians about the war. A nuance is that Clark thinks that all the actors in 1914 are guilty, whereas Krumeich states that Germany takes the Lion's share. In his lecture, however, Clark made it clear that the Schuldfrage (question of guilt) is not the main objective of his book. The question that concerned him was the circumstances of how the European countries slipped into the Urkatastrophe (seminal catastrophe). The Great War destroyed four empires (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire) and cost ten million lives of young men.

September 2014: Gerd Krumeich (right) and Christopher Clark (left) discussing in the presence
of a "moderator"at the German Historians Day in Göttingen (©Ziko/Wikipedia)
The years before the war were a time of great instability. One international crises followed another with Germany mostly acting impolitically. Who had the power in the European capitals? Clark said structural deficiencies in the decision making reminded him of Heisenberg's Unschärferelation. Is the uncertainty principle now valid in history?

This was a Steilvorlage (hand on plate) for Red Baron. In the discussion I said that in physics the Heisenberg uncertainty principle meant that if you fix one parameter of an object, e.g., its speed then its location is known only with an uncertainty. I asked the historian whether he could clarify his statement. He answered what he meant was that when in those days you approached a government official for a decision he (women regrettably were no decision makers in those days) would shrink back, i.e., taking no fixed position. Clark admitted:  I have to work on the uncertainty metaphor.

Reading Clark's book is "heavy" although Red Baron bought The Sleepwalkers as an e-book. Having read only four fifths of it so far I promise to come back to it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Too Little, too Late

Two world leaders met
and the summit labored and brought forth a mouse.

Looking for help (©BZ/Haitzinger)
We read in the press that the US and China agreed on a future reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in spite of the fact that only 41% of the Americans recognize that the climatic change observed is man-made. The Beijing agreement is hailed by a few as a major breakthrough but seen with mixed feelings by many.

The positive aspect of the mutual understanding is that China being the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide with nearly 10 billion tons per year no longer insists on its status of a developing country with a per capita emission of only 7.1 tons of carbon dioxide per year compared to 16.4 for the US and 9.7 for Germany. It seems that China eventually recognizes its responsibility towards its citizens* when Chairman Xi announced to level off fossil fuel consumption by 2030.
*We all have seen those pictures of massive air pollution in the streets of Beijing

Total emission and emission per capita of carbon dioxide in 2012 (©BZ/dpa)
The main reason, however, for Xi's decision is that by 2030 China will have little left to burn.

China's yearly consumption of coal (©Der Spiegel)
Fossil fuel reserves of our planet and
coal reserves of selected countries (©Der Spiegel)
Red Baron did a back of the envelope calculation based on the two graphical presentations above.
China's coal consumption leveling off in 2030 as promised by Chairman Xi
China's reserves of coal amount to 110 billion tons in 2014. In extrapolating the yearly consumption the rate will increase from 3.6 in 2012 to 4.2 billion tons per year in 2030. In that year the country will be left with a reserve for another 10 years when using coal at a constant rate of 4.2 billion tons per annum*. So it will be high time not only to level off but to peak off coal consumption in China as indicated in the sketch. So what some consider a major breakthrough in China's climatic policy is just born out of necessity.
*A scientific MIT-Tsinghua University study also concluded that China's coal consumption will peak 17% higher in 2030 compared to the year 2014

At the same time President Obama announced that the US will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 26% below 2005 levels by 2025. When he made the promise, did he consider the new political constellation in Washington? I understand that the coal lobby is strong among Republicans with many of them simply denying man-made climatic change*. Indeed Americas coal reserves are much bigger than those of China . In addition there are the "new" fossil fuels gained by fracking. Presently cheap fossil energy is consumed in the States at a high rate with a per capita emission of 16.4 tons of carbon dioxide per year as mentioned before. China's present value of 7.1 will possibly stay below 8 by 2030 taking the scenario developed above and a rather moderate population growth into consideration.
*cf. Jim Inhofe's book published in 2012: The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future

And my country, green Germany? The goal is a 40% reduction of carbon dioxide emission below 1998 levels by 2020. With the present measures only 32% will be reached and drastic actions are needed. The fight is on for the shut-down of lignite fired power stations.

Still the biggest polluter: Kraftwerke (fossil power stations)
(©Wikipedia/Robert A. Rhode))
The Minister of Environment claims that only by shutting down a couple of those old polluters the goal of 40% by 2020 can be met while the Minister of Economy and Energy states: You cannot shutdown nuclear power* and fossil power at the same time. A delicate fact is that both ministers belong to the Social Democratic Party.
*Nine nuclear power station are already shutdown in Germany with the rest to follow until the year 2040.

Red Baron's gloomy guess is that the world will miss its goal limiting the temperature rise to two degrees centigrade by 2100. Why are we more concerned with the climatic change and speak little about the limited resources of our planet?

So even when we loose the climatic battle renewable energy is needed. It is part of the intergenerational justice that we create the energy sources of tomorrow for our descendants.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Demining Switzerland

To the tourist Switzerland is a beautiful country with flowery alps in summer and sunny ski slopes in winter, a country of cheese, chocolate, and the Swiss franc, i.e., therefore expensive.

Few of those visiting Switzerland know that the country is still a military fortress where every male not only has to serve in the armed forces but keeps his assault rifle together with a soldered up can of ammunition in his wardrobe. Somehow this is a tradition for in the Middle Ages Swiss soldiers were known for their crossbows, their halberds, and their bravery. On many occasions they had fought and won battles against the Kaiser and the Habsburgs. As a result the Eidgenossen (confederates) eventually gained independence from the Holy Roman Empire in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Swiss soldiers were coveted by European powers and were fighting on all fronts. In many a battle Swiss stood against Swiss and frequently the country paid a high death toll. Nowadays the only Swiss soldiers serving outside Switzerland are those of the Swiss Guard protecting the Pope.

Defending the Swiss border in 1914 (© DLM)
The Swiss Wehrwille (combat spirit) to defend the country was strengthened during the two World Wars. They built the Alpenfestung (Alpine Fortress) and mined strategic roads, tunnels, and bridges particularly those crossing the High Rhine. Special caves located inside the foundations were permanently filled with TNT to be exploded in case of an invasion from the north. If it was not for the Germans it was aimed against the Warsaw Pact forces during the Cold War.

Even the historical wooden bridge crossing the Rhine at Bad Säckingen
had explosive chambers filled with TNT (©dpa)

Only recently Switzerland had emptied all
Explosive chamber in the
Bad Säckingen bridge (©Lipp/Der Sonntag)
foundations of bridges of their permanent TNT loads. Red Baron does not know how often in the past he had passed over tons of TNT crossing the Rhine between Switzerland and Germany. Swiss experts assured the somewhat astonished traveler that in case of a fire TNT will not explode but simply burn and stink. For an explosion you need a detonator and they were always kept apart in good custody.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Odd Munich

Here comes somewhat late my blog about Elisabeth's and my visit to Munich. Red Baron had lived in Bavaria's capital from 1957 to 1966, first as a postgraduate, and later, I had my first job there. From time to time, knowing the city pretty well, I like to visit the place, to meet old friends, and to look at new attractions.

Entrance to the Platzl Hotel
Elisabeth and I stayed at the Platzl, a charming hotel in the old part of the city just opposite of the infamous Hofbräuhaus.

All in one place: Hofbräuhaus and Hard Rock
As Goethe knew and wrote in Faust: Wer vieles bringt, wird manchem etwas bringen; und jeder geht zufrieden aus dem Haus (Who brings a lot, brings something that will pass: And everyone goes home contentedly).

In spite of the strike of the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway), we had safely arrived at Munich Hauptbahnhof. The check-in completed we took our first walk passing the municipal taxation office. During my stay in Munich, I always had entered the building head bowed, and I came out fully bent. Therefore I had never noticed the inscription high up: Moneta regia (Royal mint) that the Munich citizens translate as money reigns or Money makes the world go round as Liza Minelli once sang in Cabaret.

On our way through the city we saw a man unloading a fat gander from his bicycle possibly for a performance.

Gander looking ...
and attacking
When the animal noticed me taking pictures it came towards me protesting and attacking. I escaped just in time passing the (again infamous due to the Hitler-Putch in 1923) Feldherrnhalle. We reached the entrance to the Hofgarten where a jazz band was playing.

The following morning started with a shock. During my stay in about 1000 hotels in a lifetime it had sometimes happened that I had to repair showers but here for the first time the water refused to enter the shower head. I turned all faucets and nearly destroyed the valves, in vain. I called the reception. Eventually a man came to my rescue showing me how operate the shower.

For the solution of the mystery, wait until the end.

The Pinakothek der Moderne (museum of modern art) was inaugurated already in 2002 but Elisabeth and I visited the art gallery for the first time. If you love modern art or, as the Nazis called it, degenerated art that is the place to see. Taking pictures was allowed so I took lots of photos of paintings by German expressionist and abstract painters but I am not showing them here because of copyright. The only picture presented below is by a French artist which he painted in 1914. The man had well anticipated the mechanical killing of modern war fare.

The hand washing facilities in the restroom of the Pinakothek der Moderne look modern too:

Following lunch and espresso Elisabeth and I passed the inner court of the university on our way to the Englischer Garten when I stopped and stared looking at the wall to the right.

Inner court (Lichthof) of  Munich's Ludwig-Maximilian Universität
Those who read my blogs remember that I had written about the Horace citation Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori which was once carved into the marble of the inner court. Now I read the following inscription:

Monument of pius remembrance to the dead of three wars.
They did not succumb in vain to their fate. 1959
Not all those who perished in a war lost their lives in vain! This unexpected inscription is far from the proposal Red Baron remembers and wrote about: Mortui viventes obligant (The living are obliged to the dead).

So far all efforts to rename the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität to Geschwister-Scholl-Universität aborted. Nevertheless a plate at the entrance commemorates the Weiße Rose (White Rose) reproducing the flyers against the Nazi regime sister and brother had distributed in the inner court to their fellow students:

On our way back to the hotel Elisabeth and I passed the well-protected US-Consulate near the Englischer Garten.

A fortress
The following morning it was raining and we visited an exhibition called Rembrandt-Tizian-Belloto, the latter better known as Canelletto. There were a few Canellettos and Tizians alright but just one painting by Rembrandt. Photos were not allowed so here I present a picture taken of a reproduction at the entrance to the exhibition: Canelletto's view of Dresden with the famous Frauenkirche (Our Lady's) on the left.

Note the bollards crowned by red lights protecting the synagogue against bomb attacks by cars
The new synagogue in Munich is well protected. It was around 11 a.m. when we arrived but two guards at the entrance told us that the building was already closed for Sabbath.

The closed entrance
So we visited the Jewish Museum nearby. The general exhibition was small and rather poor just showing a few cult objects. No photos were allowed, an order I really regretted in case of the special exhibition War 1914/1918, Jews between the fronts.

On two floors the efforts of the German Jews to show their loyalty to their country was documented. Although the Jews enjoyed equal rights in the Second Reich under the Kaiser in practice, however,  they were not on equal footing in any of the European countries in the period preceding the Great War. The following photo I took at the entrance to the museum.

German Jewish soldiers are celebrating Hanukkah 1916 - the commemoration of the rededication
 of the Holy Temple - in the snow showing the nine armed menorah.
The Festival of Lights frequently coincides with the Christmas holiday period,
I am sorry that I cannot document the tragic fate of Hans Bloch, a Jew from Munich, with documents (pictures were not allowed within the exhibition). He and his father fought in the First World War and young officer Hans was attributed the Eiserne Kreuz First Class, the highest distinction a soldier could get. After the war Hans studied law, got a doctor's degree, and became a lawyer. Somehow his Jewish origin became forgotten because in 1934 on the 20th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War Chancellor Adolf Hitler bestowed on Hans Bloch a special medal of commemoration. As a Jew he was no longer allowed to exercise his profession but as veteran of the war the Nazis did not harm him. When Germany started the Second World War Hans wanted to fight for his country but as a Jew he was not allowed to serve in the German army. When his appeal against this decision was refused he committed suicide by electrocution in 1942. I never had imagined such a tragedy.

Passing the Viktualienmarkt (Munich's popular food market) I saw the following Maibaum (maypole) with a note shaking my knowledge of the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot.

The Bavarian purity decree was not issued on April 23, 1516,
but as early as November 30, 1487
In the evening Elisabeth and I had dinner at the Schneider Weisses Brauhaus. Remember my blog What's Brewing. At the Brauhaus they had several wheat beers on tap and some bottled including TAP5 with the unusual 8,2% alcohol. Here comes the full list:

Red Baron started with TAP7, our original (5,4%), continued with TAP11, our light wheat beer (3,3%), and ended with TAP4, my green (6,2%).

Tap4, Mein Grünes
Standing naked, being under stress waiting for the water, would you have found the nob for activating the shower?