Dear Mr Söder,

on 22.06.2022 you said on Deutschlandfunk radio on the topic of extending the operating lives of nuclear power plants that the situation was very serious and that one should not “retreat to ideological corners” in this situation. Oh, Mr Söder, you speak from my heart! By the way, as far as the issue itself is concerned, the head of the energy company RWE, Markus Krebber, has an interesting objection. He said that the fuel rods could not simply be bought from anywhere, because they would have to “match the reactor type exactly”. And unfortunately, most of the uranium comes from Russia, which is why the “question of safety architecture or safety checks” should not be underestimated. When questioned about this, you pointed to expert appraisals by the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment and TÜV Süd, which came to completely different conclusions.

Continue reading “Dear Mr Söder,”

My favourite feathered friend

I’m visiting friends in Hamburg, who live on the 5th floor of a modern house with a small garden. And early in the morning at 4:30 a.m. I am woken by the piercing chirping of my favourite bird, Troglodytes troglodytes. This animal alarm clock is the loudest loudmouth (between 40 and 90 decibels!) in relation to its body size (about 10 cm) in the diverse ornithological kingdom: my favourite bird, the wren. With its tail always up when it sings, it acts with great self-confidence. The male belts out “with warbles and trills and ends abruptly. It (the song) is composed of about 130 different sounds.” (Wikipedia)

According to a very old fable, it also reputed to be a trickster who likes to fool other animals.  In order to escape the revenge of the aggrieved, he is said to lurk mostly in hedges and bushes. Trickster or not, I like the little fella, even at 4:30 in the morning, when he is the first to open the dawn chorus.

My favourite moment

Somehow I’ve been anti-cyclical more often lately. While everyone was sitting in the office, I was in the home office. Now it’s the other way round and I miss the freedom to organise my working hours now and then. Working from home, I sometimes work in the evening, but I have lunchtime free: for example, to stroll to my favourite cosy café and let it all hang out there, relaxed, with cake and coffee. And yes, that works fine in the morning at 9:00 too.

My favourite photographer

… is Robert Adams, an internationally renowned and environmentally-aware landscape photographer. Together with other American photographers, he shaped a new direction in landscape photography in the 1970s: “New Topographics”. I studied his writings and illustrated books carefully and found in them the foundation on which I built my own photographic work and from which I developed my own visual language. Through him I learned that a successful photograph combines three aspects: geographical, metaphorical and autobiographical.

My favourite wine

Ti Amo (I love …) Ai Suma, a wine from Piedmont. Not as popular as Tignanello and Sassica from Tuscany, just not a super Tuscan. Nevertheless, a very special wine from the Barbera grape. In principle, it is harvested like a German Spätlese (late-harvested wine), although this quality classification does not actually exist in Italy.  Only Giacomo Bologna had the courage in the last century to harvest his Piedmont Barbera much later and produce a truly great wine. On a visit to the estate in the 90s, his daughter Raffaella Bologna warmly welcomed us to an extensive wine tasting, even though she had already sold all the wines by subscription beforehand. We were able to taste all the wines – but not buy a single bottle from her.

My Favourite Piece of Music

As a stereotypical Gemini it is hard to single out any one thing as a favourite. However, one piece of music has stayed with me since I first heard it as a student and never ceases to move me: the Adagietto, 4th Movement of Mahler’s 5th Symphony. The music has, thanks to its use at Kennedy’s funeral and the movie “Death in Venice”, often been associated with mourning. In actual fact it was a love song to Mahler’s future wife. It leaves me breathless at the way Mahler gently weaves through an abstract melody tune with just strings and a harp gliding from minor to major, resolving lines of a melody only after stretching the anticipatory note, instructing the orchestra to switch gently from soft to sonorous, melancholic to passionate. A wonderful expression of Romantic longing.

My favourite recipe

Because it’s quick and delicious. And it’s easy too.

Lemon spaghetti (serves 3-4)
1 onion
1 lemon (untreated)
Lemon thyme (if available)
Lemon balm (if available)
2 cups crême fraiche
500g spaghetti
Olive oil

Put the water for the spaghetti on to boil and salt it, of course, and as soon as it boils, cook the spaghetti until al dente. At the same time, chop the onions and grate the zest of the lemon. Chop the herbs if you have them. Fry everything together in a pan with olive oil until the onions are glazed. Add the crême fraiche and stir. Squeeze half of the lemon and add the juice to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until the spaghetti is ready and serve together.

Harlequin’s favourites

Dear friends of the Harlequin!

The Harlequin team is now taking leave for the summer holidays. While we are away, all the Harlequins will be sharing their personal favourites with you. Today we start literarily- minded, but depending on your interests, “Harlequin’s favourite” can also be culinary, ornithological (alcoholic? philosophical? … ). Let us surprise you!

We wish you and ourselves a wonderful holiday!

Sunny, summery greetings

Your Harlequin Team

My favourite novel character…

… is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. I devoured the Miss Marple detective novels as a teenager and was thrilled by the English atmosphere. Everything was “so very British”! From Miss Marple I learned that most things in life are not what they seem at first sight. A very useful lesson that will accompany me all my life!

An algorithm has no tact

Where artificial intelligence gets it wrong, why it affects us and what we can do about it

I am not a specialist in Computer Science issues, but have been at home in the IT environment for many years as an Agile coach and organisational developer. I can recommend the book with the title above especially to “non-IT people” like me who want to take a closer look at the cryptic and not easily accessible topic of artificial intelligence and associated algorithms. In casual language, the author explains to us what algorithms are, how they work, what difficulties the unrestricted use of algorithms entails and at what point we can (and must) exert influence on their uncontrolled use. Katharina Zweig is a professor of Computer Science at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, where she heads the Algorithm Accountability Lab and is the founder of the “Socio-informatics” degree programme, which is unique in Germany.

Continue reading “An algorithm has no tact”

Quantum physics for hippies

While regularly checking my SPAM filter last year, I came across a news mail that surprised me. I knew that research was being done in the field, but this message showed it in a completely different light:
Fraunhofer and IBM present live: Quantum Computing in Germany
Inauguration of Europe’s most powerful quantum computer in an industrial context 15th June 2021 – 14:00

While I was still in the process of clearing the SPAM filter, the realisation hit me that I hadn’t the slightest idea of how quantum computers work. As a result, I bought some books and read posts about it. But just as a basic understanding of the electron is needed to understand how the current generation of computers work with transistors (or formerly valves), a basic understanding of quanta and quantum physics is needed to understand a quantum computer.

Continue reading “Quantum physics for hippies”