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The Road to Nowhere by Catherine M. Byrne Sat, 10 Nov 2018

Posted by greyowl in History, Rezensionen / Reviews, Uncategorized.
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 Isa and her young family emigrate from the tiny Orkney island of Raumsey to Alberta, where her parents are already living. An unfortunate young English girl, Sarah, happens to arrive at the same time, destined to marry a friend of her father’s, who is much older than she. The vastness of the prairie environment and the harsh climate prove enormously challenging for the newcomers. Hard work, tight finances and cruel weather strain Isa and Davie’s marriage and he spends months up north working on the paddle steamers.

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Mary Rosie’s War by Catherine Byrne Tue, 30 Oct 2018

Posted by greyowl in History, Rezensionen / Reviews.
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 This book, number 5 in the Raumsey series, not only portrays the horrors of WWII through the eyes of simple, ordinary participants, but sheds a sidelong glance at the morality of a war initiated at some high level, far away from those who are forced to carry it out without understanding why.

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Die Schweiz sprach Sun, 21 Oct 2018

Posted by greyowl in Interviews, Politik / Politics.
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Im Rahmen des von verschiedenen Schweizer Medien organisierten Projekt “Die Schweiz spricht“, das Begegnungen mit politisch Andersdenkenden fördern wollte, habe ich mich heute mit JP zum Austausch getroffen. (more…)

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett Wed, 26 Sep 2018

Posted by greyowl in Berichte / Reports, History, Politik / Politics.
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This is an amazing book, the first of the Century Trilogy. It is superbly researched and masterly written. We follow the events leading up to WWI through the eyes of several interrelated characters, from America, Great Britain, Germany and Russia. (more…)

Deep convictions under fire. Flame in the Night by Heather Munn Tue, 18 Sep 2018

Posted by greyowl in History, Rezensionen / Reviews.
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Flame in the Night by Heather Munn is a captivating drama about the resistance movement in occupied France during WWII. Teenage scouts conceal Jewish children from the Gestapo in remote farms, attics, treetops and caves, while everyday life continues as usual: cultivating vegetables, going to school, shovelling snow, attending church.

An informer, working for the compromising Vichy government, takes up residence in the village. Injured German soldiers from the Eastern front are sent there to recuperate. The pastor and his assistant encourage the faithful to practise nonviolent resistance, and they establish a network of helpers, which enables many Jewish children from Poland or Germany, whose parents have been deported to concentration camps, to go into hiding or to take on new identities and mingle with the locals. However, some lads join the underground armed Maquis. And so the agonising questions of conscience keep surfacing. (more…)

Two Streams Sat, 3 Sep 2016

Posted by greyowl in Gesellschaft / Society, Jesus-Familie.
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Jesus told His followers: The world hates you. I’ve been thinking about that.

Is it true? Surely, not everyone hates us. Recently, I have observed two different streams within western society – the ‘Lorders and Hoarders’ and the ‘Carers and Sharers’. (more…)

Battling Prejudice Mon, 8 Aug 2016

Posted by greyowl in Gesellschaft / Society.
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They invited me to their house-warming party, though I’d never met them. They aren’t even married.

Loud rock music greeted me before I entered the garden. Other guests clustered around beer cans. The hostess was smoking, her bare arms boasting brazen tattoos. She introduced me to her partner – equally tattooed, equally smoking. In his free time he’s a DJ at a seedy nightclub. He was offering guests Red Bulls with vodka. I helped myself to tiramisu and found a seat. At the end of the table sat a person of undefined gender, equipped with a massive German Shepherd dog. A seven-year-old girl with a coy look revealed her underwear as she pranced around and fluttered seductive eyelashes at the menfolk. (more…)

Does God care about nations? Thu, 18 Feb 2016

Posted by greyowl in Jesus-Familie, Politik / Politics, postmodern.
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Each morning, I read the Daily Moravian Bible Texts – first in German (Losungen), then in English. Both today’s Old Testament and New Testament readings refer (in German) to the Nations (Völker). This made me stop and think.

Tut kund seine Herrlichkeit unter den Nationen, unter allen Völkern seine Wunder. Psalm 96,3

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. Psalm 96:3 (NIV)

Paulus und Barnabas berichteten, was Gott alles durch sie getan und dass er allen Völkern die Tür zum Glauben aufgetan habe. Apostelgeschichte 14,27

On arriving there, Paul and Barnabas gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:27 (NIV) (more…)

The Mending and Recycling of Clothing in Late Antiquity Mon, 10 Aug 2015

Posted by greyowl in History.
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Visualising Late Antiquity:

Clothing in Late Antiquity was not the disposable commodity it is nowadays; it was valuable enough to be named in a will, used as surety for loans, or included in a dowry. Literary sources suggest that wealthy and high status individuals had many and beautiful clothes, however for the middle and lower classes clothing was an expensive necessity that was not to be wasted. This was true for the majority of the population, and ranged from enslaved and poverty stricken workers to the relatively prosperous members of the working middle class. While we might expect the former to have ragged and patched clothing, the evidence indicates that even members of the latter group might have needed used or recycled clothing as well as materials to embellish, mend and maintain their clothes.

A child’s wool tunic featuring skilful darning in matching wool (Whitworth Art Gallery T.8375). [Photo: Faith Morgan]. A child’s wool tunic featuring skilful darning in matching wool (Whitworth Art Gallery T.8375). [Photo: Faith Morgan]. Faith Morgan’s examination…

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Liars and Outliers [Kindle Edition] by Bruce Schneier Sat, 7 Jul 2012

Posted by greyowl in Gesellschaft / Society, Rezensionen / Reviews.
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It took a while, but I’ve finished it now.

I was a bit previous in my earlier judgement. Schneier has realized there are moral aspects to the question of trust.

Nevertheless, I’m still rather disappointed in the book. There are a few penetrating insights and provocative assertions:

  • Defectors are endemic to all complex systems (p. 32)
  • Perhaps Mother Teresa wasn’t really altruistic; she expected her reward in Heaven (p. 34)
  • We have the ability to decide whether to be prosocial or not, and most of us, most of the time, decide positively (p. 35)
  • But while our cultures evolved, our brains did not. (p. 41) – Who says?
  • all of these are vestigial remnants of prehistoric kin recognition mechanisms (p. 92) – It’s amazing what one has to believe if one has no God!
  • Investment managers who sold the toxic securities were the ones who got the big bonuses (p. 172)
  • bad products drive out good products (p. 184)
  • society needs more security, to further reduce the amount of defection, in order to keep the potential damage constant (p. 189)

But it could all have been said much more briefly. What all the tediously repetitive arguments and societal dilemma tables come down to, is that ‘natural’ mechanisms for ensuring trust in a community don’t scale adequately to the present globally networked world. Four societal pressure systems are needed: moral, reputational, institutional, and security systems. And the ‘defectors’  – who have a certain valid raison d’être, since they are the ones who challenge traditions and thus facilitate progress – will always try and usually succeed to outwit those who implement the institutional structures and security systems.

There’s no real conclusion. And, coming from a widely acclaimed ICT security specialist, there’s precious little mention of technological approaches or solutions.

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