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Friday, December 15, 2017

Tulips from Amsterdam

 

What was a massive hit in the English-speaking world for Max Bygraves had already become something of a national anthem in Holland, while in neighbouring post-war Germany every housewife hummed it as she was stirring her pot of 'Linsensuppe'.

Tulips - their name derives from the Persian word for turban which they resemble - originally came from Turkey, and were introduced to the Dutch in 1593. The novelty of the new flower made it widely sought after and therefore fairly pricey. After a time, the tulips contracted a non-fatal virus known as mosaic, which didn't kill the tulip population but altered them causing "flames" of color to appear upon the petals. The color patterns came in a wide variety, increasing the rarity of an already unique flower. Thus, tulips, which were already selling at a premium, began to rise in price according to how their virus alterations were valued, or desired. Everyone began to deal in bulbs, essentially speculating on the tulip market, which was believed to have no limits. During the height of the Tulipmania from 1634 to 1637, one single tulip would sell for the price of a house. When it was all over, you could buy it for the price of a common onion.

I was reminded of this when I saw this chart of the rise and fall of some famous bubbles:

The current Bitcoin bubble has "outbubbled" the lot of them and the time has come to stop and smell the tulips rather than to buy them.


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

A snapshot of society back in time

This is the full-length movie. Enjoy!

 

The Australian classic "Don's Party" is almost a documentary of Australia in the late 60s with all that partying and bonking going on which leaves you wondering how they still had the energy left for any political discourse.

Not that much has changed as Labor voters are still self-righteous, ill informed, intolerant and aggressive towards those whose views are even the slightest bit different. I strongly identified with Simon, the mild-mannered accountant, not only because his company made those yellow plastic indicator-hands used on trucks but also because he was the only one at the party who supported Liberal, didn't drop his daks, and wore one of those safari suits I'd worn in South Africa but never worn since (mind you, his wife would've probably robbed me of my will to live ☺).

Having only just returned to Australia in April 1969, I had no political opinion yet nor would I've been allowed to vote on it as my Australian citizenship was still three years away, but having grown up in post-war Germany next to the 'Iron Curtain', I'd been put off any sort of -isms like socialism or communism for life.

"Don's Party" was adapted from a play by David Williamson, the same David Williamson who wrote "Travelling North" which is my favourite.


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Life explained

 

And what better person to do it than Kurt Vonnegut with his theory of ‘story shapes’. He is, of course, best known for 'Slaughterhouse-Five', an antiwar novel that resonated with its readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War.

His famous deadpan wit includes many gems:

“There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president. This was true even in high school. Only clearly disturbed people ran for class president.”

“If Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being. I’d just as soon be a rattlesnake.”

Wonderful reading if you're going through your midlife crisis, or, as in my case, an end-of-life crisis.

I leave you with a final quote from "A Man Without A Country": “We are on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”


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P.S. Whetted your taste for more of Vonnegut's trademark wicked wit? Here's an audio version of "Timequake".

 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Somewhere in Tonga

 

If you're a juvenile in Germany and lack the money to travel the world, all you need is a knife: under Germany's 'enlightened' justice system you'll be able to live on a tropical island in the Kingdom of Tonga instead of spending time in jail in Germany.

The island, the tropical paradise of Kenutu, is real and so is the story, and both are now the subject of a feature film in which you can watch how 16-year-old Marcel, who in Germany under the influence of drugs killed someone with a knife, repays his 'debt to society' in paradise.

It may surprise you that a country, which sends the riot police to your house if you don't take your library book back on time, should give a murderer a holiday on a tropical island. Perhaps you'd be less surprised if you knew that the same justice system did not persecute hundreds of Middle Eastern and African rapists because they hadn't yet 'culturally assimilated'. How much 'kultcha' do you need to know that you can't just rape any woman you happen to pass in the street.

I'm glad it's not me that's mad - it's the justice system!


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

I just wished you understood German

 

Not the Germans but what Mark Twain called 'the awful German language'. As an 18th century classics scholar once remarked, "Life is too short to learn German"; so simply read the subs at the bottom of the screen, insufficient as they are to do justice to what this elo-quent woman says about Europe's suicidal madness.

And don't feel too smug about yourself because the same is happening right throughout the Western world. We are being manipulated by interests detrimental to our own. Remember the photo of that little boy's body washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015? Tragic as this was, public opinion changed overnight and Europe's doors opened wide.

The bigger picture, this collective madness the consequences of which we won't see for decades to come, are not being discussed. Those who try are being shouted down as xenophobic, racist and labelled Nazis.

I'm glad I am 72. Because I won't have to see the world these people are creating. Thank God I'm on the way out and not on the way in.


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