3743 – Rovinj – The Town

 Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R  Comments Off on 3743 – Rovinj – The Town
Jan 182017
 

On my short trip to Rovinj, a beautiful small coastal town in Croatia, I used one of my lightest travel kits: the 9-18/4.0-5.6, the 25/1.8 and the plasticky 40-150/4.0-5.6.

The latter is easily the most underestimated lens in my whole lineup. Stopped down to f8 it’s sharp, it’s incredibly lightweight, and it’s very cheap. I’ve bought it used “as new” for 150 Euros, but you often get it for less than 100. If you don’t have it, get it.

Sep 272015
 

Imagine for a moment living a normal life in some medium-sized country. You are not rich, certainly not by first world standards, but you get along. Your dictator does not bother you, your kids go to school, your mother gets her insulin, war has been over for ten years, things seem to get better or at least not worse. It’s the only life you have and you have decided it’s good.

Then something strange happens. Some idiots fly planes into skyscrapers, somewhere in a city that you only know from TV. It has no connection to you or to anybody you know, even your dictator did not do it or support it, but for some insane reasons you get punished for it. Your country gets bombed, your dictator killed (good riddance at least), your country gets occupied, insulin (just like other medication) gets incredibly expensive. Your mother dies, your two surviving kids have no school any more and you hunger.

Would you feel justly treated? Or would you probably applaud an uprising, led by people from your own culture and religion, people who promise to throw out the occupants and their puppet regime?

Or, say you live in a country that for some years has experienced the worst drought in recorded history. For the last 42 years your country has been formally at war with a neighboring country, but at your age of 35 years you can’t remember anything but peace. Your dictator does not bother you, and although you are not rich, your country’s economy is rising.

Then one big super-power, a long-standing ally of that neighboring country, decides to bully every other country on this planet into grave economic sanctions against you. Additionally they support rebels against your government, incite a war in your country, all with the aim of forcing you to overthrow your own government.

Due to the sanctions your economy breaks down, your factories have to close because of a lack of raw materials and spare parts. The health system goes down the drain, hunger and poverty plague millions of internal refugees.

Who would you think is right? The super-power with its politics that you don’t understand, acting like an alien god without mercy? Your own government, increasingly brutal and desperate, trying to stay in power? Or maybe a new “State” that arises from the turmoil and seems to be surprisingly successful?

You can call this post “Support of a terrorist organization”, but it is not. It’s a challenge to think outside of your convenient place in a safe country and show a little empathy. How does it feel?

3264 – Croatian Sunsets

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3264 – Croatian Sunsets
Sep 252015
 

We’ve seen furious ad hominem attacks on Yanis Varoufakis, and of course he was unprepared for that.

Well, I wonder how the new leader of British Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, will and can do. I’ve seen an interview with him on Channel 4, and actually I was shocked about how aggressive the interviewer was and how obvious his agenda. It was pretty disgusting and reminded me of Nazi “judges” at the “Volksgerichtshof”. But then, nobody can say that Corbyn did not know what to expect.

Still, it is unclear if any person could withstand a concerted attack of the mainstream media. We’ve seen in Italy how mighty a media monopoly can be, and how an obvious criminal can use the media to attack political enemies and to thwart all attempts to bring him to justice.

Cameron is not Berlusconi and Corbyn is not opposed by a media monopoly, but still, the media are in the hands of rich people. There is no conspiracy, but then, no conspiracy is necessary either. A concerted action would arise simply out of common interest.

Could Corbyn survive even until 2020, the time of the next general elections in the UK? Can any political leader stay in power and still oppose the real powers in this world? Corbyn wants to reign in corporate tax evasion and he wants to get rid of the UK’s nuclear weapons. Neither will be in the interest of the US.

The question is, can any person have a completely clean browsing history? No inconvenient and exploitable secrets? And even if so, governments and secret services have all means necessary to plant false evidence on everybody’s computer. If they want to present Corbyn as a child pornography consumer, they can do that.

So again, in our current surveillance state, in our sick travesty of democracy, in this nightmare of uncontrolled and uncontrollable secret services, secret courts and secret laws, is it even thinkable that a politician makes real decisions based on real facts? Honestly, I admire those who still try.

Sep 232015
 

It’s Sunday evening while I write this. I’ve just read the news: SYRIZA has again won the elections in Greece. I wonder what this could mean and if, after Tsipras’ defeat in June (or was it July?) there could be any effect at all, regardless of the outcome of elections.

Today or yesterday I’ve also read another comment about Greece. I can’t remember the newspaper, most likely it was the Austrian “Der Standard“, but like in so many comments the blame for everything that went wrong in Greece was put on Yanis Varoufakis.

I can’t hear it any more, it’s so stupid. Fact is, Varoufakis was outstandingly competent for the job, but what he said, although logically correct, was not what his peers wanted to hear. I guess exactly the same principle was at work, that a study from Duke University just described, namely that humans tend to deny a problem when they don’t like the solution. You’ve invested in oil or coal? Simply deny climate change! You’re opposed to a cut of Greece’s debt? Just pretend that another credit of a hundred billion Euros will magically fix the preoblem! I really grow tired of seeing so many decisions (in politics as well as in business) based on ideology and not on facts.

But let’s get back to Greece. Tsipras seems to have won his bet. SYRIZA is first, the left splinter group seems to have failed entirely, and although he’ll need a coalition, he will have at least one or two options.

But then? I think his biggest problem is, that he has lost every degree of freedom. He tried to negotiate a better and socially more acceptable deal than the conservative governments before, he failed, gave in, and I can’t see any further option.

If, on the other hand, we ignore the outcome of the elections and assume a victory for Nea Dimokratia, the traditional party of the old oligarchy, how could that have been a change? Therefore I suppose SYRIZA is regarded the best option in an election without real choice. At least they try to put up a fight.

All in all it looks real bad for democracy, with only one bright spot: at least the Nazis of “Golden Dawn” did not take over. It’s bad enough that they’re in third place again.

3261 – Croatian Boats

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3261 – Croatian Boats
Sep 222015
 

The sea has always had a wonderous fascination on me. I was already 12 years when I first saw it, and when we were on vacation in Yugoslavia with my parents, it was a long and tedious journey that had to begin in the middle of the night.

Today from Villach I can take the highway to Italy and after 90 minutes I am at the sea in Grado. The other option is the highway through Slovenia and to the Slovenian coast. Two hours bring me to Portorož.

The third option is via Slovenia down to Croatia. There I can choose between Pula at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, elegant Opatija near Rijeka, or via the bridge after Rijeka, the island of Krk. All of that can be reached within three hours. Sometimes I fear we don’t recognize how good our times are.

But then, not everybody is so lucky in this world.

3260 – Morning Moon Over Calm Sea

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3260 – Morning Moon Over Calm Sea
Sep 212015
 

I’ve been on vacation and I have used the time to read books. So far this year I’ve read 22 books, thus a total of 30 this year is not unlikely. Wow!

On the other hand, if I keep reading at this speed, I may read another 1000 books in my lifetime. Could be a few more, but the magnitude is correct and that’s a frustratingly small number. I may even have more books already bought than I ever could read 😀