After the hurrican was over

We had a furious hurrican recently, which broke down the three largest trees in our garden. Luckily, except from a completely damaged wooden hut where we keep garden stuff, ski and bicycles, nothing else was broken.

I wish I had more time to sit peacefully with our dog and something good to read.

Im Garten mit Ivo

You can get so much pain for a dime

I had a crash with my bicycle a week ago, and I still feel the pain. It was my very own fault. I can not blame anyone else than myself. In fact, it was not my inability to ride a bike, but it was a combination of stinginess and too well working bike brakes.

I use to listen to some musik or audiobook or just a radio-programm while riding the bike every day 8 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the evening. Last Monday, riding along the narrow path across the plain fields that circumfere our research center, the right earphone came off and in the few seconds while it was hanging on the cable in the wind it lost its rubber earplug. This earplug costs perhaps a few cent if one buys it in a large pack at Media Markt. Without much thinking, I pulled the bike brake with full force, not anticipating that it is a rather new disk brake. In this second, my only consideration was to get back this silly earplug. The brake on the front wheel worked so well, that it not only fully stopped the bike in a second, but it also made the rear wheel come offb and catapulted me over the handlebar. Since I flew for some moments head on before landing 3 meters in front of the bike, I was perhaps lucky that I use intuitively my hands to protected my head from a hard landing on the footpath. Anyhow, everyting was a matter of tenth of a second, and I can not fully remember which parts of my body hit the earth hardest. But it must have been in the order of

1. right upper leg

2. right chest

3. right jaw

The leg looks pretty scratched (superficially), and I wont post a picture hear unless somebody is keen to get one privatly. But since there are only muscle under the skin, I don’t feel much pain.

The chest, however, is still pretty painfull. I am not sure if a rib was broken, but it could be. It is difficult to laugh or to caugh now, and when I touch the ribs under my right armpit, there is a really pointed, stinging sensation.

The right lower jaw must also gotten a punch, but this I only recognise when I press on it with my fingers.

Conclusion:

1) Hunting for something worth a dime can cause a lot of pain.

2) It is great to see how amazingly potent our bodies are in healing injuries.

3) I still refuse to wear a bike helmet.

This short, happy life

In two weeks time, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) will release its 3rd World Happiness Report (to avoid any confusion, it won’t deal with happiness in the “Third World” as the developing countries were name in the past). Using a standard set of questionaires and socio-economic parameters, it will rank 156 countries in terms of higher or lower “happiness”. This rank list takes three pages of the entire report. On the remaining 150 pages it will try to make sense of the gains and loses of happiness over the last years, and why some countries are much happier than others.

With some certainty one can expect that Denmark is heading the rank list again, as it did in the 2o13 report (where it was tightly followed by Norway and Switzerland). Since I am more involved in medical rather than mental issues of life (which with no doubt can affect the anticipated level of happiness more), I am rather interested in analysing the life expectancy, and the duration of a disease-free life. And here something funny becomes obvious: the leader in happiness, Denmark, is rather bad in terms of life expectancy (38th rank in the world with only 78.25 years as compared with the winning Japanese, who on average reach 86.2 years). Japan on the other hand was only on position 43 in terms of happiness, which places it in the lower half of all OECD countries.

It was not only me who got confused by this discrepancy. Last year the Danish minister for public health was interviewed about this issue. She should give an explanation why the Danish people have a lower life expectancy than many other (and according to the World Happiness Report 2013) and less happy European nations. She came to th conclusion that it must be a rather unhealthy life style in Denmark: high caloric and fat food, a lot of hard alcoholic drinks and widespread smoking. If she really has evidence that the Danish live such a unhealthy life-style, it would indeed explain a relative shorter life expectancy.

My concern is, however that their unhealthy life style somehow might be the reason for the anticipated happiness. Who knows, maybe they also do car races in urban areas or free style base jumping with an umbrella or other adrenalin boosting activities in their free time. They might all increase the degree of subjective happiness, and at the same time reduce the chance for a long life.

Depleted currency

RIght in time with the agreement between Iran and five permanent UN security council member states and Germany about the limitations of IRIs nuclear activity and the lift of the economic sanctions, the Iranian national bank has issued a new banknote of 50.000 rial. Whereas the old one from 2007, designed under the command of the late IRI president Ahmadenijad, displayed proudly the ambitions of the country to become a nuclear superpower, its 2015 replacement version shows a more neutral architectural detail of the Tehran University.

OldRial-dark

The script next to it cites the prophet Mohammed with the words “The Persians will reach every knowledge, be it here on earth or later in heaven”.  The phrase might sound cynical, since it threatens that if they won’t surrender under the muslim conquest, they would be eliminated.

NewRial-dark

On the new banknote, together with the ambiguous atomic symbol also this phrase by Mohammed was removed together with another detail:  the naming of the Persian Gulf. Instead of Mohammeds words it is now the classical Persian writer Firdawsi, creator of the Shahnameh who gained the honor of reminding the customers who carry this banknote in their pockets of the great era of science, arts and philosophy that flourished in their country more than a 1000 years ago. A green tree left of the university gates can also be seen as a political symbol, since there is a lot of concern among the Iranians about the neglectance of any environmental protection in the country.

Amoz Oz’ great novel

Buchcover | Bild: Suhrkamp Verlag Now I understand why I had to wait for years for a new Amoz Oz novel.  It is because a novel as amazing as “Judas” can only arise after the author spend quite some time, to let the characters and their relationships ferment and mature like a good wine. I would call it a centuries novel, and one easily feels that it represents Amoz Oz’ statement of a life experience. It is about the relationship between an individum and his own honest believes, and the common opinion of the society. And although they are so much in conflict with each other, it is only in a free and liberal country like Israel that this conflict will never overcome love.

If the Stockholm Nobel price committee would not be full of political prejudies, they should understand that there is hardly any other writer alive (with the exception of Lars Gustafsson, Salmon Rushdie and Philip Roth) who deserves the literature Nobel award as Amoz Oz does.

A short moment of happiness

In two weeks time, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) will release its 3rd World Happiness Report (to avoid any confusion, it won’t deal with happiness in the “Third World” as the developing countries were name in the past). Using a standard set of questionaires and socio-economic parameters, it will rank 156 countries in terms of higher or lower “happiness”. This rank list takes three pages of the entire report.  On the remaining 150 pages it will try to make sense of the gains and loses of happiness over the last years, and why some countries are much happier than others.

With some certainty one can expect that Denmark is heading the rank list again, as it did in the 2o13 report (where it was tightly followed by Norway and Switzerland). Since I am more involved in medical rather than mental issues of life (which with no doubt can affect the anticipated level of happiness more), I am rather interested in analysing the life expectancy, and the duration of a disease-free life. And here something funny becomes obvious:  the leader in happiness, Denmark, is rather bad in terms of life expectancy (38th rank in the world with only 78.25 years as compared with the winning Japanese, who on average reach 86.2 years). Japan on the other hand was only on position 43 in terms of happiness, which places it in the lower half of all OECD countries.

It was not only me who got confused by this discrepancy. Last year the Danish minister for public health was interviewed about this issue. She should give an explanation why the Danish people have a lower life expectancy than many other (and according to the World Happiness Report 2013) and less happy European nations. She came to th conclusion that it must be a rather unhealthy life style in Denmark: high caloric and fat food, a lot of hard alcoholic drinks and widespread smoking. If she really has evidence that the Danish live such a unhealthy life-style, it would indeed explain a relative shorter life expectancy.

My concern is, however that their unhealthy life style somehow might be the reason for the anticipated happiness. Who knows, maybe they also do car races in urban areas or free style base jumping with an umbrella or other adrenalin boosting activities in their free time. They might all increase the degree of subjective happiness, and at the same time reduce the chance for a long life.

On the persistence of rudimentary habits

When we were kids, it was common habit to get a full body cleaning in the bathtub once a week. For a long time I could not understand why on earth this had to be done precisely on Saturday evening at around 6 p.m., just around the time when the most important TV program started: “The Flintstones“, brought to us cross the Berlin wall from a West-German TV chanel. It would be the wrong conclusion to assume that our parents tried to keep us away from this american cartoon serie, since at the same time they had no problems to permit us watching “Star Trek“, “Gunsmoke” or “Streets of San Francisco“.

So it was a perment husle to finish the Saturday evening bathing in time, before “The Flintstones” started, and I could never understand why bathing was not done on another evening, for instance at Friday or Sunday. I also found it more reasonable to have a decent bath on Friday, since this would clean us of the dirt we collected at school during the week, or have it on Sunday, to make us fresh and clean for the comming week.

Only recently I understood the real reason why kids were always given the weekly bath on Saturday evening. It obviously goes back to the times when the highlight of social life was the church service on Sunday morning. For this event, people wanted to appear clean, and since it was considered risky to go out in the cold with wet hair, right after having a bath, the whole body cleaning was done Saturday night.

It is funny, how resilent such a traditions can be, considering that we, children in the 70s in a socialist country, never went to any church service on Sunday (except when it was Christmas time to hear some music). We were also not afraid to go out in chilly weather with wet hair, since we had hair-dryers of course, but at the same time we liked to be outside with wet hair during swimming season.

But still, every kid had to get its weekly bath on Saturday evening.  I am wondering if later in life, our own son who is 16 years old now, will also wonder which strange habbits he had to follow in his youth.

A new year that started with an annoying text

Today I was ashamed to share my given name Michael with a french highly celebrated writer: Houellebecq. Since I was always distracted to read his books by the media-hype around him, I was curious today to learn something about him by reading an interview he recently gave to the french journalist Sylvain Bourmeau. After reading his stammering retraction rejection of enlightenment, his newly discovered defense of catholizism, his really stupid and uneducated opinion about Islam, I can only say that he is one of the greatest idiots who has managed to fool the literature world.

He would have done much better if he continued to work as a farmer. He would have been successful in growing cabbage, and nobody would have realized that his brain is a big cabbage as well.

Upside down waning moon

This is the waning moon on December 19th. Because the telescope optics invertes everything, and because I was too lazy to invert it back with photoshop, it looks here like a waxing moon.

Waning Moon dec2014

 

Leonides meteor shower 2014

In the night between Monday and Tuesday, in the early morning hours, this years peak in the Leonides meteor shower will cross the earth orbit. It is expected that with a naked eye one will spot around 12 meteors per hour. Look out in Eastern direction. As the name suggests, the meteors seem to originate from the constellation Lion. In reality, however, they don’t originate from any star, but from a former comet TEMPLE-TUTTLE, which a couple of million years ago exploded or was annihilated by spaceship Enterprise.
In case somebody has an urgent wish to address to the Leonides, I have to warn that in astronomy we are counting not days, but millions or years. So whatever wish you silently send to the meteors these nights, be a bit patient for its delivery. I, for example received something extraordinary this summer, for what I asked for already 4 years ago.

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