Work, Life and Chance – Backgammon: The Game of Princes

Iran, Esfahan (Isfahan) – Ali Qapu Palace

“Your life’s whatever you make of it.” That’s a popular phrase meant to bolster confidence – or even motivate employees… Well, there’s more to life than meets the eye at a glance. Anyone who’s gone through life longer than just a couple of decades has come to realize what Baz Luhrman so aptly said:
“Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.”

Many smart comedians, philosophers and coaches will tell you that. It is actually a wise person who realizes it – it has been known for centuries if not thousands of years among people, mankind even.

There was a ‘modern’ urge when the civil society began to form that found one outlet in the possibility to emigrate to the USA, then dominions still. With a huge country apparently all there just to find your luck without any shackles or strings attached, the credo was: “Your life’s whatever you make of it.”

Was it, really?

Even the first settlers faced grave challenges, partly from indigenous peoples who wouldn’t all easily accept that land-taking by strangers. Bluntly put.

Additionally, so few conditions known, many pioneers just died from starvation due to completely different climate and soil conditions.

Yet, marketing and people who wanted to sell this idea and self-promoting methods as new ways to happiness and self-made wealth just persisted publishing self-help guides.

The idea of course is appealing. But in the long run it will lead to anger and frustration, because it leaves out all those chances life presents us all with: Recently we were all witnesses to it again on a huge scale, a pandemic, with millions of deaths.

We were lucky too, in many ways, in many parts of the world. But the long and the short of it is this:

Life is full of chances and conditions and surroundings that will make it easy or difficult to reach goals you wished to attain.

Sometimes, just knowing there is a philosophy behind it, summarized like this, can help:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Here is a fine short documentary on the game of Backgammon and its vital difference to chess: Chess is like war. But Backgammon is like life: And it is thousands of years old. It was even used to teach princes at the ancient courts of Persian kings to be sophisticated and wise leaders of their governments.

We cannot control everything in life. A lot depends on luck and surroundings. But we can always try to do our best in any given situation.

It’s a German language version with English subtitles:

Talks and Decisions – Let Them Hear Our Voices

image showing swarm of birds at sea shore
Seagulls’ calls are impressive – Image courtesy unsplash.com – free license

Politics are no games; they are power plays and diplomatic arenas as well as sometimes ‘hunting’ grounds. If as voting individuals in a democracy we want to stay that, namely have a choice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to some party’s politics – we need to stay put:

Bother the wrong choices – each and every day. Raise our voices additionally to voting, to stop them, whoever they are: In Brazil (Bolsonaro, recently lost 🙂 ) the US (the last but one president till 2021 and his followers) or Italy (sadly extreme right won this time; but Italy may change their government again soon) in China, Russia or the Ukraine, or any other place:
There are always those that hunger for more, more wealth, more power, more attention. And never have enough. And those that don’t.

Let reason and free thinking prevail – by keeping to be bothersome.

The voice of reason is the voice that can be heard in the United Nations’ Human Rights Declaration – and all who make it their task to remind those other ‘hungry’ ones of those rights.

Each day and any day: Let’s keep bothersome! Push them into the right direction by letting them hear our voices.

Iran 2022 – The Protests for Civil Freedom and Equality

Image of Iran windcatchers in Yazd province
Windcatchers in Iran, Yazd province, an age-old system of cooling houses using wind (free license online via Ecosia.org)

Iran: A wonderful country of thousands of years of culture, tradition and cuisine, as well as a highly developed sense of community; a unique, Indo-European language; some of the most wonderful poems by world-famous poets come from there. Almost all of them were largely apprehended and adopted in new forms by European poets, such as Goethe and his “The West-Eastern Divan”.
Hafez who inspired it, also is widely known all over the country of Iran. People put the book of his poems in a central place on the highest festival of the year, ‘Nowrooz‘ – the spring festival dating back over 3,000 years. Or the epicurean poems by Khayyam, to name only two larger-than-life figures.

The main language ‘Farsi’ (Persian) has been preserved over centuries of being conquered and occupied.

Architecture, crafts, painting, music, hand-knotting of rugs – the finest worldwide – there’s almost no field you could mention in arts and crafts that hasn’t great works to offer.

One of the oldest religions, root for all theologies that are monotheistic, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, comes from there: Zoroastrianism

Compared to the long history of all of it the Islamic Republic is comparatively young: A little over 40 years ago now, the clerical part of the society took over power. Clerics had always been one part of the power factions throughout Persia’s – or by its younger name ‘Iran’ – long history, especially since the 16th century AC by Western reckoning.

The people now protesting in the streets of Iran and risking their freedom and even their lives have been raised to another movement of protest by the death of a young woman; a student, who was detained by the police for not wearing the ‘hijab’, the headscarf mandatory to wear for women in public places or in the company of men other than close family.

The civil rights in Iran have been a sad story to say the least ever since the revolution of 1979. Things hadn’t been easy before. The Savak, the Shah’s secret service was present everywhere.

But things became worse, in many respects, after 1979.

This is a reminder to all who care: Iran is worth it, every day. More civil rights and the basic human rights would be a start.


The song above states the reasons for the ongoing protests. Hashtags as sources the singer assembled the Twitter-posts of protesters and made this song called ‘baraye’ = ‘for’…

It was published originally on Twitter or Instagram. It has been retweeted 153 million times, so the information on another retweet I have a URL to. Since I am not a Twitter member myself, I use this post that adequately translates the Persian words with English subtitles on youtube. The singer has been arrested.

Cruel Attack on Salman Rushdie – Award-winning Writer

Image showing Salman Rushdie discussing with mic in hand
Image courtesy Ecosia Search Engine – Free license

After all this time someone managed to hit, cruelly: Salman Rushdie, wonderful poet and writer of award-winning books was attacked on Friday with a knife and hit 10 times. At the moment of this writing he seems to  be out of danger. I hope he will recover and heal mind and body to come out even stronger than before.

The darker side of any religion sometimes is revealed in such acts: Manipulated simple-minded people who actually believe that freedom of press, opinion and religious following could be considered a sin, exist. They existed in ancient history when Muslims and Christians killed each other in the ‘Holy Land’ apparently over who would own it.
When it really was about power in that region and trade ways as well as roads.

In ancient times and these days: Any religion can be abused to manipulate people into cruel deeds, into following someone for the sake of simple solutions in words, in order to feel special, in a dangerous, deceptive safety of woolly-headed idolatry.

The only way out of what Plato described in the cave allegory: People sitting in a cave, with the entrance behind them, a slight elevation and a light on it between, watching the cave walls. Life and its figures passing by the entrance outside, to such humans appear like flickering shadows on that back wall.

To leave that cave of misinterpretation and age-old manipulation means: Train your mind.

Learn about thoughts and ideas. Understand that humans need to respect each other in order to be able to live in a world of peace and joy. To be able to even let their dreams come true which might be just – to live and let live in peace of mind.

To watch over human rights as declared in the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations – is without alternative!

War, Power, Power Plays – Power Balance – The Cruelty of Politics

game of chess with fire in background
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

Politics is about tactics too, the official definition in the Oxford dictionary states, as one meaning:
The activities of governments concerning the political relations between states.
Politics can be wise and be based on sound values – or they are cruel and serve a few with no values at all, except their bank account(s).

Others use politics as a means to heal wounds of vanity, retrieved some time during their lifetime. Like, dreadful example, though one of many, really, Adolf Hitler, ‘Reichskanzler’ (Chancellor of the 3rd Reich) during the Nazi dictatorship in Germany.

Famously applied at the Vienna Academy of Arts and rejected he spent the rest of his life redeeming a fragile self-confidence or rather image.

To this day dictators often are about this more than anything else: Many take the wealth in the wake of power as a means to an end – and bathe in any kind of public recognition and the approval of one part (usually the rich and extremely rich) of the respective society.

These patterns are recurring, and usually do so cruelly – as per latest example, in regard to Putin in his way to power – and the Ukraine.

The Ukraine is part of the power plays between nations and actually the former Soviet Union and its remnants – as well as a personality the likes of Putin who took over this vast country of Russia bit by bit in more than two decades.

His own motives may be hidden in biographical privacy yet – but they seem rather apparent when watching recordings of his public and private appearances: Extreme understatement standing out as the apparently simple guy, the almost nice, familiar neighbour who wears his business suit anywhere, even in parades among numerous highly decorated militia…

Yet, when seen driving big motor-cars and enjoying the fact that he is a ‘force to be reckoned with’, the purported modesty and neighbourly demeanour are revealed as so much window dressing.

In the long run educating people to the values that have proven to be vital to any civil, democratic society, namely the Human Rights Declaration, are the only real weapon we have against such populism and cruel repression.

In the short run, being aware of the balance of power and respect it early on might be the safe route around war.

„War and Peace“? – War is the Ultimate Failure of Diplomacy

image of map of Russia, Europe Ukraine marked
Image courtesy OpenStreetMap, France

Ukraine, Russia and the US, Europe in between – it is not really new – it is once again the fight for power and money. Gas, weapons and influence on the continent are among the most prominent features of this conflict.
The global balance of power too is at stake, to some extent. Or so it appears.

But:
War is no option. It is no solution. War is driving a knife into the ‚Gordian‘ knot that others have tied – sometimes it‘s not even really ‚Gordian‘, just made to appear that way.

War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy.

War sometimes is just a means to hide even uglier goings-on.

Sometimes it is used as a means to make more money by selling weapons to both parties.

Sometimes it may even be a means to reinstate apparently lost pride. Which is perhaps the most pitiful of all reasons for war imaginable. In my opinion that reason would be sign of a severely disturbed mind.

History is full of examples for that too: Russian opposition in any shape or form is handled so cruelly and severely, not even murder being excepted in subduing any other than the official opinion; it‘s sad, tragic and dreadful all at the same time. Putin for quite some time now has become another sorry excuse for a man.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born and raised in peaceful and democratic surroundings, living in such a country where I can write what I think without having to be afraid.

That the expansion of NATO is viewed with vary eyes from all – others – concerned is only natural. Having Russian influence in Cuba for decades is one of the other variants of these opposing forces.

I could go on writing and perhaps not end till after another thousands of pages, because the principles involved are very very familiar.

Lets learn! Let‘s learn again and make peace. Not war!

Which means:
Learn and start realizing if not already done so, to understand each of the parties’ involved necessities to ‘safe face’. Which is probably the most crucial aspect of international diplomacy.
After that: Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate again, and again, and again. Perhaps that kind of patience can be learned from trade:
No trade, no profit; no agreements – no trade…

War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy – and no doubt about it.

Open Letter to the US Democratic Party

drawing of USA map as a shape

(I sent the following to the Democratic Party of the United States and its Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer:)

“Ladies and gentlemen, hello esteemed party of long standing and its representatives [Hello Mr Schumer,], for lack of a more personal[/formal] address,

I am a German who lives in Austria. I am extremely concerned about how things seem to be in your nation/country.
I am also very surprised to learn that the democratic party seems to be bent on supporting D. Trumps 2nd run for office?
Are none of you smart enough to see the signs?
He was on the brink of overthrowing (albeit rather clumsily the 1st time) a democratic parliament only a couple of months ago! Hitler and his 3rd Reich were almost the same! He failed the first time and even went to prison for a while. Then, he tried again. I hope you know what dreadful and cruel results that had!
Do you not know history well enough?
Do you really believe that a nation such as the U.S. would never be in danger of becoming a real dictatorship? History – if only outside the US – should be able to teach: Ever since mankind ‘invented’ the concept of democracy around 2000 years ago in Greece, Europe, history has shown us again and again and again that *no country is safe* if its parties and population do not watch out.
Greed and the decision to do as one pleases and disregard others, the community at large, are eternally there, alongside other human traits.
I would earnestly and seriously ask you as well as your and your party’s supporters to reconsider and unite behind a president such as Joe Biden: Free of most of the more mundane shortcomings (be that drink, adultery or worse, please excuse this rather realistic yet blunt mention) as far as I can tell, he has great plans and he and his supporters should see your party indeed united!
I am sorry that I feel like saying: “Shame on you to be so careless about this government – or D. Trump’s so obvious plans!” Have you forgotten that the majority of supreme court justices have been named by him?
I would a little pathetically declare: “Wake up.” (Sorry, here comes the blunt version: “Wake up, d…n it.”)
PLEASE!
D. Trump has caused so much unnecessary pain and suffering as a president the first time around!
Your country needs fresh impulses to bridge gaps – not create ever deeper rifts.
Have a heart and say no to more greed and short-sightedness!
Countries all around the globe are painfully dependent on US (foreign) policies.
Watch out, be smart and careful! This may be your last chance, really.
Kind Regards”


Author’s note: The tone of this letter is rather less businesslike or formal or polite than I have used on similar occasions.
I feel the matter to be urgent. I hope to catch the attention of the politicians concerned – as well as others who might be able to do something directly – this way, better, in this case.
The idea being of course that instead of first caring about their own interests, the democratic party politicians who recently refused support will think again: D. Trump whose name I do not really like to bring up at all, has already started his own alternative to Twitter. From day 1 he had and still has enough wealthy supporters who are interested much more in their bank accounts than anything else. Underestimating ‘enemies’ is foolishness, as the old saying has it:
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
See also the documentary on D. Trumps life and background broadcast on PBS, created by award-winning documentary producer Michael Kirk, for details.

‘Reading the signs’: In archaeology as well as in history, journalism, psychology or in criminology one thing you learn early, if the teaching is of any use at all:
Gather your material carefully, check back with existing facts and start putting a line of reasoning together that fits all the facts.
Anything else will not hold water.

The Oval Office’s Heavy Burden – The Fight for Internal and External Peace

image of planet earth ion space with dove of peace about to land on it

The last but one president of the US was a nightmare, a cruel and selfish excuse for a man, who does everything he can to regain power and a sort of reputation, even if the worst: A possible dictator who’s just good enough to influence people that are not well-educated enough to see the whole story – and understand the truth behind his ‘tantrums’.
One of the worst being the attack on the Capitol he initiated – directly or indirectly.

He also instated a couple of supreme court justices, let’s not forget that. Last, but not at all least, the impeachment process was not even properly started against him.
This means he could run a second time for another ‘go’ at the office – and if he succeeded he might fulfill what he seems to have tried once already: Become a modern ‘king’, in terms of a then void democracy and its rights and laws and freedoms – a ‘dictator’.
And in his case the freedom of the press would go first. No doubt about it.

It is a relieve every day to have someone like the present president Joe Biden there. In the place of a so-called ‘superpower’s’ most powerful seat.

Politics are no child’s game. Anyone making out they were, is a fool. To say the least.

In particular in the 20th and 21st century with a heavy historical burden, often left over for generations by all kinds of governments with very different, no to say multiple, secret agendas – left wing, right wing, right wing again.
So many actions and reactions just forced by industries in the background who provide money and thus the necessary media forces to ‘advertise’ one’s cause. Not least of all that sorry excuse for a man, Mr Trump, who wouldn’t be where he is in terms of actual infamy without those industries and conglomerates and banks.

‘Marketing’, ‘advertisements’: There is no way around them. In order to make an impact you have to use social media and the internet these days, just as TV appearances and talk-show discussions or have newspapers write about you.

A sad fact is too that traditional media such as TV or newspapers have to sell. So, to some extent, if someone does not offer much sensational ‘fodder’ for talk, it may become quiet around him – or her.

When all is said and done, anyone in their right minds should know how precious peace is, and equal chances for all – the best possible attempts we can make for a planet that will not ‘overheat’ after all – and that supporting all those who really are fighting for it is no less than an obligation.
Or, simply: A fine cause.

Austria, Politics and Political Approaches

Flag of Austria with ensign
I love this country of Austria. But mine is not of the kind that makes you blind… On the contrary I can safely say, I see patterns, in politics just as much as everywhere else. Mine is surely not the definitive position on this matter. Just one among many…

In general, there are a few ‘inalienable truths‘ about politics as well.

Politicians need networks in order to get somewhere – and stay there for a while. Once they have proven their ‘staying power’, things can and usually will change:
Others are craving the place in the limelight; or the possibility to wield the power, as in: Have influence and a position in society, more or less respected…

Look into recent and older history of the world: Some politicians are and were extremely ruthless, some are corrupt, some are even cruel.

Some are ‘just’ using the age-old instruments that can be smaller or larger kinds of ‘buddies’ to build a network and sustain support.

To always be white-headed and innocent in such a system, where everyone else encourages one to take advantage – apparently is impossible. Not one single country in this beautiful part of the world – or anywhere else – can say that such things never happened to them.

And power, alas, also has the ‘power’ to corrupt people who weren’t in the first place… I still think that modern democracies that have a working system of exchanging their governments at regular intervals by some kind of voting system, are the best possible solution.

Politics are – human, therefore not perfect. One should make sure to control as far as possible the weak points – point out failures in order they can be put right. But also not expect too much, in view of the facts above.

This is a peaceful country, beautiful, with many, many kind and responsible people around, let’s not forget that!

Learning and Knowledge – Simplistic? The Democratic Change

ancient printing press and printers
No large numbers of readers without the printing press

‘If they all loved research, who would do the baking?’

What I mean? Consider this quote:

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Sounds familiar? It’s said to be a quote of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.
Complaints of one generation about the next are an age-old phenomenon. Be that their behaviour – or quality of education.

“Knowledge is power.”

This is true too.

The Power of Knowledge in Religion

That is why for centuries the bible would not be translated into German (from Latin). In German speaking countries, Martin Luther, founder of the protestant religion, was the first to translate the full text. After more than 1000 years of the Christian religion’s existence! Between 1522 and 1545 he worked on that, not alone, but it was his initiative.

The Christian faith had been used to manipulate people and keep them in fear of the church’s dogma before that. The majority of people would not be able to read even then. But they would start to understand the text itself.

Luther’s motives were mainly religious, and he ‘only’ wanted to ’empower’ believers into choosing the right preachers. Into understanding instead of following the priests like a flock of sheep.

This example makes it a case in point: Knowledge and understanding need to be spread. Appropriately.

Learning and Knowledge Degrading?

Recently we hear and see (written) complaints about knowledge becoming too simple, too lightweight, as it were.
That people for the wealth of media to consume forget how to read properly, for example.

But let’s remember for a few minutes: The general ability to read and write was not available to the whole of a population until only a couple of generations ago.

Basic Democracy

The general compulsory education was not introduced until well into the 18th and 19th century in many countries!

It also meant a very basic education, mostly. When the civil society really took a stronghold politically. When more and more leaders of countries, emperors, kings, local potentates, started to realize that an educated population ultimately strengthened innovation and the future of business – and thus their power.

People did not have computers, but they had theatres, with lightweight comedies, too. Types of ballads / dramatic songs (according to regional tradition) with images that were sung to the audience or explained by those that displayed them. Ghoulish songs and fairy stories, some more some less deep…

There will always be those that love to do research. Who love to read heaps of books from cover to cover. Who love to be scientists and answer the basic questions of mankind.

But not everybody wants to be a scientist. Just as some love to repair cars or bake bread for a living.

If they all did research, who would do the baking?