Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘germany

Nazis X: The worst damage done by the Nazis / my motivations

leave a comment »

After the extensive discussion of the 25-point plan, I am understandably a little tired of the topic, and will likely not resume my (main) work until late next week.

In the meantime, a few words on my motivations and a shortened version of a text that I have long had in mind (independent of the current text series):

Over time, I have grown to suspect that the three (see below) worst effects of Nazi-Germany include neither WWII, per se, nor the Holocaust. Both were horrifying, no doubt, but they were, from a historical perspective, very limited in time. Negative side-effects are lasting far longer and are likely to either already have accumulated a greater damage to the world, or to do so in due time. A significant motivation behind this text series is to combat the second, with a chance of a positive side-effect on the third. (The first is mostly gone, but still lasted far longer than e.g. WWII.)

  1. The destruction of Nazi-Germany left the door open for the Soviets to conquer half of Europe—and to keep this empire for over four decades. This extended the destructive reign of Communism geographically and likely, within the Soviet Union, temporally. The greater importance of the Soviet Union then lead to problems like a higher military spending and a further popularity of Communism as a (perceived) alternative to Capitalism.* To boot, the related Japanese loss in the Pacific might well have increased the likelihood of the Communist takeover of China.**

    *To some degree reflected in my native Sweden, e.g. in that the Swedish Communists looked less like idiots, and in that the Social-Democrats could push that “Third Way” with some plausibility. However, the main effect was likely seen in poorer and less educated countries.

    **Which is not to trivialize the evils performed by the Japanese in China, or their possible extension with another war outcome or absent a war. I would still be surprised if the expectation value of “Japanese damage” vs. “Communist damage” was higher: the Japanese were merely building an empire, no matter how ruthlessly, not forcing a destructive ideology and a broken system onto the people by any means necessary; and a Japanese–Soviet conflict, like a (non-WWII; cf. below) German–Soviet conflict, could have been beneficial to the world.

    This is the more tragic, as Hitler was in part motivated by a wish to strengthen Germany to avoid a division of the world into the Anglo-American/Capitalist and Soviet/Communist camps.* Had he been successful, the West might have been able to relax while the two great evils, Nazism and Communism, slugged it out, or Germany might have proven a useful temporary ally in the defeat of the Soviets. (The latter scenario, to some approximation, reflects what did happen, but with the Soviets and Germany switched around.) In effect, Hitler managed to create the scenario that he wanted to prevent—a weak Germany squeezed between two foreign superpowers.

    *Going by my vague and 2010 (?) recollections of “Mein Kampf”.

    (As a counterpoint to the above, there is a strong possibility that the strength of the Soviet Union slowed the build-up of Communist and/or Marxist sympathies in e.g. the U.S.)

  2. The Nazis, especially in combination with the erroneous classification of them as “Right-wing” and the Leftist tactic of guilt by association, have given the Left endless ammunition for unfair attacks against its opponents, and has often allowed it to occupy an entirely undeserved moral high-ground. Suggest X and you are a Nazi. Identify as Right-wing and you are a Nazi (or evil, because the Nazis were evil and Right-wing). Suggest something nationalistic and you are suspected of wanting to invade Poland. Etc. Etc. Etc. (As I have noted in the past, evil is never more dangerous than when it has the guise of good—and anti-Nazi propaganda has done much to distort the popular view of the Left.)

    This to a large part, because war propaganda demanded that everyone condemn and keep condemning the Nazis, and because the Nazis became ingrained as the enemy through countless WWII movies and whatnots.

    Moreover, and in contrast, Communism and, if to a lesser degree, other Leftist variations could benefit from the war propaganda and other consequences. For most of WWII, a message of “Uncle Joe is our friend and ally” was present, and even after the war it took time for a saner message to be established. Most Leftist groups in Germany and the occupied countries could draw on the claim that they had fought* against the Nazis—“we” must be the good guys, “we” won, you can thank “us”, “we” were more farsighted than “you”, etc.** Then there are all those Leftist martyrs, many or most of whom might have been no more worthy of admiration than Horst Wessel.

    *Sometimes, literally; sometimes, through protests in the open; sometimes, through protests among themselves. The difference is likely of little importance, once propaganda replaces memory.

    **Likely fallacies throughout. For instance, that some Communists or Social-Democrats fought the Nazis in the streets during the Weimar Republic does not automatically make them good guys. They also fought each other in the street. From another perspective, if members of the Russian mob attack a Colombian drug syndicate, neither of the two become police organizations.

  3. The Nazis gave everything relating to eugenics, evolutionary forces relating to humans, “human biodiversity”, whatnot a bad name. Indeed, even attempting to bring such to discussion can often lead to a blanket accusation of being a Nazi or a “Social-Darwinist” (a phrase almost as deplored today as “Nazi”)—unless the accusation is racism or, worse, “scientific racism” (even closer to “Nazi” than “Social-Darwinist” is).

    This is the worse as there are strong signs of a current and damaging dysgenic pressure which risks the long-term prosperity of humanity; as it favors race-based policies that are very costly and virtually doomed to fail;* and as it ignores the individual’s characteristics, talents, limitations, whatnot. The last e.g. through applying one-size-fits-all schooling and expecting everyone to come out equally bright and productive or through denying the possibility** that other aspects than social influences can lead to a criminal career. (No, the Nazis might not have been better in these regards. This does not alter the fact that they ruined public opinion for much more enlightened groups.)

    *Cf. the constant fiascos in the U.S. relating to e.g. affirmative action and inner-city schooling; and note “The Bell-Curve”. Of course, this issue could to some degree be seen as a special case of the following issue. Both overlap strongly with “blank-slateism”—which was scientifically outdated already in the 1970s and where we now have half-a-century of additional, too often ignored, evidence against it.

    **Note the importance of this denial: it would have been wrong, until very firm proof were present, even had social influences truly been the only major cause.

Excursion on the greater and lesser evil:
I do consider Nazi-Germany a lesser evil than the Soviets, respectively Nazis a lesser evil than Communists. This with an eye on at least three things: (a) The Nazis-at-peace were less harmful to their own population than the Communists under e.g. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. (b) The likelihood of a peaceful and/or early unseating of the Nazis seems more likely, especially once Hitler died or retired.* (c) Even the Holocaust was matched by similar atrocities by Communist regimes, notably, again, under Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

*Which would have happened before the fall of the Soviet Union (let alone the still-standing Communist China), and likely by a very considerable margin—he was born in 1889 and not overly healthy.

But what about WWII? Here it is important to remember that much of what happened was not according to Hitler’s plans. He is still, of course, to blame, but his plans were directed at easy success eastwards and/or in the colonial world. The immense scope of the war, the immense number of deaths, the immense destruction, whatnot were never intended. He only fought the Brits and the French (later, the Yanks), because they declared war on him—and he would very much have preferred not to fight that war. Occupying the Benelux and half of France? Not part of the pre-war plans. Occupying Denmark and Norway? Not part of the pre-war plans.* Bombing London? Not part of the pre-war plans. Attacking the Soviets? Very different story—but the length of the campaign (not to mention losing) was not according to pre-war plans. Superior German forces fighting on a single front were supposed to win (comparatively) easily.

*Indeed, I have heard claimed that Germany barely preempted an Allied invasion of these two countries…

Excursion on a pre-war stop:
When it comes to hypothetical scenarios, I find the constant “What if the Axis had won WWII?” boring. For something more interesting, consider e.g. “What if Hitler was murdered before invading Poland?” or “What if Hitler ignored Poland and the Soviets and went colony hunting?”. These are, of course, unknowables, but the 20th century might have looked very different, and there is a fair chance that Hitler, himself, would have been remembered more like a 20th century Bismarck or Friedrich der Große than as a counterpart to the likes of, again, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.* (Also note an earlier text on The complication of the untested evil-doer, where we do have a failed test for Hitler, but might have had an untested Hitler in this alternate reality.)

*With some reservations for what degree of Holocaust would have taken place—another unknowable.

Excursion on the importance of the Normandy landing:
The Normandy landing (and the Allied invasion of Italy) was not that important in defeating the Nazis—chances are that their days were counted and/or that Germany could only have saved it self by withdrawing from France to concentrate on the Soviets. Its true importance lies in saving important portions of Europe from the Soviets.

How much more the Soviets would have taken, if left to their own devices, is unclear, and might depend on issues like remaining motivation and length of supply lines. However, they would almost certainly have gobbled up all of “West-Germany” (possibly, excepting some token areas for the French); and it is very conceivable that they would have taken Austria and Italy, too. Some further countries, including Finland, might well have been at risk.*

*I am a uncertain why they did not take Finland even as is. Maybe, Finland had proven to expensive; maybe, too many troops had to be left on the continent to balance the other Allied powers; maybe, a renewed war would have looked bad; …

In a next step, after a few years of rest, it is not impossible that the Soviets would have tried to sweep the rest of continental Europe + (Finland/)Sweden/Norway, maybe helped by portions of the strong French Left and revenge-hungry Spanish Leftists. A highly weakened Britain, without U.S. help, could hardly have stopped them.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 25, 2022 at 11:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Addenda to earlier texts

leave a comment »

Two addenda:

In [1], I speak of a fetus being connected to the mother by the umbilical cord. Strictly speaking, the umbilical cord connects fetus and placenta, with the placenta having an interface (or whatever term might be used) to the mother. In my case, I spoke without thinking the situation through; in the case of some others, there might be a genuine belief in the umbilical cord as a direct physical connection, similar to how the esophagus (and many other “pipes” and “cables” in the human body) is firmly attached at both ends,* and unlike how a pipe in a plumbing installation or an electric cable typically will be detachable on one or both ends. If so, it would go some way to explain the discussed misconception of the fetus as an actual part of the mother’s body. (Maybe, in that only the severing of the umbilical cord would create a physical separation, like the surgical separation of two Siamese twins. See excursion.)

*Indeed, with an eye at developmental history, the esophagus might be seen as part of a single long piece of plumbing, from mouth to anus, with a mere differentiation in role along the way. However, this does not affect the analogy.

In [2], I note that the West shut down access to Russian news-media over the Ukraine situation, with the implication of a wish to censor Russian war reporting and Russian perspectives on the war. There might, however, be something else behind it: I have visited the German web-edition of RT once or twice a week since the blockade began,*/** and have noted a considerable amount of non-war news and opinion contrary to what the German government likes to see. This includes critical takes on the German handling of COVID and on German energy policies. Maybe, the true reason is a wish to silence external critics of the German and other Western regimes? That the likes of RT might have broken through the one-sided, one-voiced, partisan messaging with an alternative take? (The war was then only a welcome excuse for the shutdown.)

*There are replacements sites and I use the tor network for most of my surfing, which makes the blockade easy to circumvent. I will not mention an explicit site, to avoid any anti-democratic or anti-rechtsstaatliche repercussions; however, finding one over an Internet search is likely easy.

**As I noted in some earlier text, the very fact of the blockade made me curious—Streisand effect.

Excursion on Siamese twins:
Siamese twins provide two other angles of attack against the “my body, my choice” idiocy. Firstly, even Siamese twins are typically* two adjoined bodies—not one shared body. Sometimes, the join might be extensive; sometimes, small and shallow. Sometimes, the one twin might depend on organs from the other; sometimes, they are independent. Even should umbilical-cord-is-a-fix-connection thinking be correct, it would be absurd to speak of the fetus as part of the mother, as, by implication, the one Siamese twin would a fortiori be part of the other.** Secondly, by applying “my body, my choice”, we could have situations like one twin committing suicide and taking the other, still wanting to live, with him.

*Maybe, always. I would need to research this more in depth. If, for instance, they are separate from the hips up, but have only one pair of legs and whatnots, is the lower body strictly shared—or is it more accurately viewed as belonging to one of the twins, with the other being legless and adjoined? In contrast, two fully formed bodies that just happen to stick together at the hips is clearly different from each other.

**With another complication of who is the “true” person and who the mere part.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 24, 2022 at 3:11 am

Germany not free from COVID-restrictions, after all / Follow-up: More on my current situation (and complaints about politicians)

leave a comment »

A month ago, I wrote:

Yesterday, I read that Germany was finally caving and beginning to lift its destructive and scientifically unfounded restrictions of various kinds. This with the likely additional implication (knock on wood; there was no explicit mention) that the threatened forced vaccinations would be off the table for the time being.

Come Sunday (20th March), in a mere two days, things should have been almost back to normal, after a prolonged phase-out. This appears to not be the case anymore, as the individual states/Bundesländer have the option to use stricter guidelines—and have often chosen to do so. This includes, unfortunately, the state, NRW, in which I live. (And, as always, there is no direct information to the citizens, who have to search for information about what applies or does not apply at any given time.)

As I wrote close to a year ago:

[…] if the [German] federation does not screw something up, count on the Bundesländer to do so; if the Bundesländer do not, count on the municipalities.

To make matters worse, forced vaccinations are still on the table and currently under debate in the German parliament—this despite the current state of scientific knowledge and despite even Austria having backed off. The matter is further complicated/made the more absurd by a timeline that puts the beginning of these vaccinations (in my understanding and should they be decided) at some point in the autumn, when we might have a completely different situation in terms of COVID, vaccines, and/or knowledge of COVID and vaccines.

I am, in fact, contemplating outright leaving Germany, my home for close to 25 years—and have had this contemplation on and off for a long time. The problem? Where should I go? Too many of the obvious candidates in Western Europe and North America have proved themselves highly problematic too. Eastern Europe might be an option, but I do not know the languages and there are a great many uncertainties involved, which might require months of research. (The same applies to most of the non-Western world, while Australia and New Zealand, if anything, appear to be worse than Germany.) Back to Sweden? Maybe; however, while it has handled COVID much better, we still have the extreme dominance of PC and Feminist politics and propaganda.

Nevertheless, Germany has again and again, even before COVID, proven it self to not be a Rechtsstaat and its standing even as a democracy is extremely weak. Moreover, year by year, it has gone further and further towards the Left, forcing me to repeat my observation that today’s Germany has more in common with the DDR of the 1980s than with the BRD of that era. And to imagine that I once left Sweden partially to get away from the Left-dominated politics … Germany, at least, has the advantage that the Left is still tilted a bit more towards the “old” Left (compared to e.g. Sweden)—but how long will that last with the current trends?

(The old Left might be economically naive, entrenched in class thinking and the class-over-the-individual attitude, whatnot; however, the new Left is just insanity from beginning to end.)

The simple truth is that the world is in need of a Great Reset—in very dire need. The Great Reset actually being pushed by the likes of Klaus Schwab, however, is in many ways the exact opposite of what is needed, a taking of old misdevelopments and pushing them yet a few steps further, when a proper reset would push them back.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 18, 2022 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

German news and dubious COVID reporting

leave a comment »

A particular annoying type of misreporting, whether it be through incompetence or in a deliberate attempt to mislead (both are highly possible):

Day after day after day, the video-text of ARD claims

Damit erhöht sich die Zahl der gemeldeten Todesfälle binnen eines Tages auf x*.

Translation:

Thus, the number of reported deaths increases to x* within one day.

*Where x is the accumulated number through the entire pandemic (in Germany). Today, x was 105.506.

The intended statement is that, factoring in the reported deaths since yesterday*, we now have an accumulated total for the pandemic (in Germany) of x—counting since early 2020.

*Exactly what values are compared is, more understandably than below, unclear, as there is both an issue with delays in reporting of deaths and a delay between the establishment of these numbers and the publication in video-text—and a further delay before they reach the reader.

Then, why “within one day”?!?!?

At best, it is redundant; at worst, it can lead weak readers* and thinkers and/or those who have an insufficient knowledge of the actual death rate to believe that we had 105.506 deaths (or death reports) within that one day. To this I note (a) that there is an enormous amount of panic making; (b) that I have seen at least one study, in which many overestimate the deaths from COVID enormously;** (c) that the great intellectual limits on the average citizens is a recurring topic in my writings.

*In fact, the formulation is so idiotic that I would consider the reader justified in his interpretation, were that sentence the sum of the reporting. (Which, fortunately, it is not.)

**Maybe by a factor ten or hundred—I am vague on the details. However, with such misestimates, is there any wonder that many are in a state of panic and/or accept the gravest civic-rights violations and a destroyed economy to fight COVID? Indeed, if such numbers were true, my own writings on the topic would be very different, and I might well have been the first in line for a vaccine shot.

There might even be a risk that those who do know better are susceptible to a subconscious distortion, becoming used to associate the overall number with a single day.

Note that any of this would be damaging even if only a small minority is mislead.

If we assume that the formulation is a deliberate attempt to mislead, it is a particularly perfidious one, as there is perfect deniability. Accuse ARD of an ethics violation? Pointless, as it can always hide behind a claim of ambiguity, the overall text, and a (naive or dishonest) claim that “we think more highly than that of our readers”.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 11, 2021 at 9:37 am

Vaccines, myself, and defamatory politicians

with 4 comments

The COVID situation in Germany, as in much of the world, is deteriorating disastrously. I am, of course, speaking of the countermeasures—not the disease.

Consider:

  1. The unvaccinated are slandered and libeled in a horrifying manner, including claims that they would ignore science, be a danger to themselves and others, and prevent the defeat of COVID. Then there is that “pandemic of the unvaccinated” … Most recently, decisions have been made to bar the unvaccinated from almost everywhere. Grocery stores are still allowed, but that too might change over time.

    Indeed, looking at recent claims and the sheer strength of rhetoric, a good case for e.g. Volksverhetzung could be made, except that the corresponding German law is one of the many that should have been written to be generically applicable, but, in fact, are limited to a fix enumeration (in this case, of groups or types of groups). Corresponding claims about e.g. Jews would have been extremely problematic. (“You only have to wear masks because the Jews could infect you!”, “We have a pandemic of Jews!”, etc. Goebbels would be right at home.)

    Speaking for myself, I am unvaccinated, largely and originally, because I have never, ever received any type of information or notification on how to proceed or even when it would be appropriate to do so. On the contrary, early (sensible) claims were that those not in a risk group should be responsible and remain unvaccinated, to allow the vaccine doses to go to risk groups first. With no clear delineation or clear statement from the government, the governmental and press attitudes have gradually, over the space of roughly one year, changed to “the unvaccinated are evil”. (Remember that boiling frog?)

    And, no, being called evil, stupid, uninformed, whatnot, is not something that will increase my likelihood of taking a vaccine. A clear “we now recommend that persons 45–50 contact a physician to be vaccinated”, on the other hand, might have. For the record, I am extremely intelligent and educated, far above the typical German MP or journalist, and I am considerably above average in the extent of my readings on specifically COVID. Politicians seem to have an image of mouth-breathers who have never made it further than the cartoons or the sports section in the news-paper, but this image does not in the least match what I have seen on the Internet—and it is as far from me that one can get.

    The claims about science and being a danger to others, etc., are simply incorrect. (Cf. below.)

  2. There is considerable uncertainty about the both the effectiveness and the safety of the current vaccines, and there is a very strong possibility that those not in a risk group would (statistically and on average) worsen their health outcomes by taking the vaccine.

    Unfortunately, making an objective judgment on this point is near impossible, because the “official line” is supported more with rhetoric than with facts and reasoning—including the constant “Fake news! Fakes news!” to quash any actual debate. Well, decades of experience has taught me to trust the party that tries to bring arguments and debate over the party that quashes debate. (Something which applies to much of the rest of this text.)

  3. Similarly, there are considerable concerns that those who take a vaccine before having had COVID see a long-term reduction in their ability to counter future infections (relative those who have had COVID before, or instead of, the vaccine) through original antigenic sin.

    Of course, the apparent constant need for boosters increase the risk from (and cost of) the vaccines greatly, while pointing to the poor long-term protection.

    For those in a risk group, this is not much of a concern, because COVID now could kill them, and the risk of COVID in twenty or forty years might be academic. For someone like me, this is different: I am very likely better off taking a COVID infection at 47 and having the strong immune system to survive renewed attacks at 67 and 87, than to take the vaccine and possibly die of COVID when I have grown old and am a member of a risk group.

    Again, 47 and no known other risk factors, outside a little too much fat. My risk of death, here and now, is minuscule. In the future? Who knows.

    Then there is the question of future vaccines: So far, vaccines have been poor, but newer and better ones, with more conventional characteristics, unsurprisingly, appear to be in development. What if I e.g. get a shitty vaccine today, or am forced to take one in a few months, when a good one would have been available a little later? (And would the first injection only have been an unnecessary cost and risk, or would the original antigenic sin sabotage the newer and better vaccine?)

  4. But my health is only half the equation. What about my possible effect as an infector of others? A possible source of new mutations? Etc.

    Firstly, I would pose an even smaller risk after COVID than after a vaccine, which points to a natural infection being a solid option, even from the point of view of society.

    Secondly, the point of herd immunity is that not everyone need be vaccinated or otherwise immunized. (And note that the COVID vaccines fall well short of the normal bar for vaccine efficiency.) For instance, Wikipedia on R0 currently gives a herd immunity threshold of 80-88 % for the “Delta variant”. (And, knowing how the misinformation works, I would not be surprised to see the true number being considerably lower. However, even 80–88 is enough to make e.g. a “100 % vaccinated” demand overkill.)

    Here, of course, we have to understand that we are invariably heading for a herd-immunity and/or endemic COVID scenario. Exterminating COVID is a pipe-dream—and will remain so for the foreseeable future. (Have we exterminated the flu? No.) The only alternative, cf. original antigenic sin, is that herd immunity fails through the too weak vaccines …

    Thirdly, there are strong signs that it is actually the vaccinated (alone or in combination with lockdowns and whatnot) who pose the real risk of new and dangerous mutations and/or allow dangerous mutations a chance, through mechanisms like “leaky vaccines”. This maybe to the point that the unvaccinated would have been fine as unvaccinated—had it not been for the vaccinated and their distortion of the natural development of COVID. (This is a point where we might have to wait and see, before we can tell for certain, and where the ability to make good predictions has been particularly hampered by the lack of debate.)

  5. Contrary to claims by e.g. German politicians, we do not have a pandemic of the unvaccinated—unless being unvaccinated, per se, should be seen as a disease. Every time that I have seen statistics, it has amounted to “roughly the same proportions of vaccinated as unvaccinated fall victim”, “more vaccinated than unvaccinated have fallen victim”, or similar.

    True, there might often be circumstances that make a direct comparison misleading, like the vaccinated (still!) belonging to risk groups more often than the unvaccinated, but not to such a degree that a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” can be justified. Moreover, without a scientific debate, we can neither know whether such mitigating circumstances have a truly major or only a marginal effect. In particular, I have yet to see a serious attempt to quantify such effects. (Not that the attempt would necessarily be successful, but the lack of even an attempt is disturbing.) What we have now is comparable to “many athletes have far larger stresses on their knees than non-athletes, and are more susceptible to knee injuries” vs “but their stronger leg muscles help to protect their knees”, which leaves far too much up in the air.

  6. A particular failure of e.g. politicians, often used exactly to push for more vaccinations, is the implicit combination of characteristics from different variants of the virus. For instance, the new omicron variant seems to be more virulent than the prior variants–but also less dangerous. (With reservations for its recency and lack of accumulated knowledge.) The politicians, however, just argue based on the virulence and assume the same amount of problems (deaths, hospitalizations, whatnot) as for other variants. The result is an extremely misleading image of ever more dangerous versions of COVID, while the (entirely expected!) trend has been towards more virulence but less severe problems.

    As I have said before, the “common cold strategy” is very strong; the “Ebola strategy” is very weak. Evolution is expected to make, and so far has made, COVID more virulent but less dangerous—more like a regular flu or, even, common cold. Unless the lockdowns and the vaccinated get in the way of evolution, COVID is expected to resolve it self.

    (As a clarification: My remarks on Ebola refer to its behavior in humans. In other animals, e.g. IIRC dogs, it is less deadly and can have an endemic status.)

Excursion on my having or not having had COVID:
I have not been diagnosed with COVID at any point (and I have written the above under the “not” assumption). However, combining the often weak symptoms and the repeated colds or cold-like diseases that I have had during the COVID era, I strongly suspect that I have already had it.

Excursion on information on policy:
The issue of information on policy has been highly problematic and by no means restricted to “when should I get vaccinated”. Policy decisions have often been made from one day to another; have never been communicated directly to the people, who have to rely on the news to stay informed; the news is often incomplete or contradictory; the (overall) policy has often had multiple actors with different restrictions, e.g. on the federal, state, and municipal level; and the policy has often contained conditions depending on (constantly changing and hard to find) numbers, like the infection rate per 100.000 persons in the local community.

Indeed, I have on repeated occasions received the first warning that something new was happening from an English language source, like The Daily Sceptic, rather than the German sources …

Written by michaeleriksson

December 3, 2021 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Tax filings for 2020 / The German IRS and Elster (again)

leave a comment »

And again fucking, unusable Elster!

Among the problems encountered:

  1. I began the process in (likely) July, by creating the needed documents and making some preliminary entries. With one thing and another, the rest of the job had to wait, which should have be no problem in light of a COVID-related and blanket three-month extension of the deadlines.

    But no: A few months later, I received emails that some of these documents would now be automatically deleted by Elster, because they had gone unedited for too long. I wrote back and forbade this deletion, while pointing out that this was an inexcusable act of user hostility. (Even by the standards of Elster and the German “IRS”.) I note that there is no advantage to such a deletion, but potentially enormous disadvantages.

    They were deleted nevertheless.

  2. The field for messages to the IRS still (!) does not take line-breaks.
  3. That I had added such a message brought Elster into a destructive loop, where (the German version of) “check document” led to a semi-error page that pointed out that I had left such a message (and why?!?!), which repeated again and again on subsequent attempts. The document was still sendable, but this broke the apparently preferred-by-the-IRS workflow of check-and-send-from-the-results-page. (Cf. an older text for these absurdities.)
  4. The “check document” for the main document originally failed on the claim that I needed to indicate whether I had received COVID support—even when I had not. There was no obvious field for this anywhere, there was no indication of help on how to do this, and only an internet search revealed that I needed to add an entire new attachment to the document, which then contained two fields, one for yes/no on whether I had received help, and another for the amount for those who had.
  5. Generally, “check document” is extraordinarily incompetent at indicating where an error (real or imagined by Elster) is located and makes odd jumps. (And there is not or only rarely a visual indication which fields are mandatory in advance.) For instance, in the EÜR document, there are two fields that seemed irrelevant to me, but where “check document” insisted on an entry. I made one entry (indicating 0) and clicked the confirmation button for that entry. Now, I obviously wanted to continue with the second field, which was immediately below the first. But no: Elster took me back to “check document”, forcing me to go back and find the relevant field again.
  6. Did I mention that mandatory fields are usually not marked as mandatory? (Yes, I did.)
  7. I copied a calculated-by-Elster value from one document to another (and why is this not handled automatically?!?), because this value was needed as an input in the second document. The output value contained both a thousand separator and decimal places (and a decimal separator). The input field required a value in whole Euro (no decimal places) and could not cope with the thousand separator, giving me two separate error messages.
  8. A great help in filling out the EÜR could have been pre-filled fields based on last year (which works well with the other documents, where the advantage is lesser), so that I could e.g. see where I had put postage and where train rides and where this-and-that. Specifically in the EÜR, this does not seem to work, however, as only trivial fields (like name and identifiers) are filled out. Then it is down to guesswork or Internet searches to find the right fields.

And to this a few things I might have forgotten, the great many problems discussed in earlier entries, the incomprehensible German tax system, …

Fucking amateurs!

Written by michaeleriksson

October 29, 2021 at 10:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

COVID curfews / Follow-up various

leave a comment »

I have repeatedly mentioned the risk that curfews will be imposed in Germany. In particular, in [1] I wrote:

As to [a suggested nightly curfew], what is that supposed to achieve?!? The nights are the times when the streets are almost free of people anyway, when there is the smallest risk of infecting or being infected. By locking people in at night, they either lose an option of fresh air and exercise for no good reasons or are forced to move these activities to the day time, when the risks are larger … Utterly idiotic. (Note that bars, discos, and the like are closed to begin with, irrespective of this curfew.)

Nevertheless, nightly curfews have become more and more common in Germany. Beginning today,* these curfews are pushed through on the federal level and imposed nationwide. The rules, however, are quite confusing and inconsistent, e.g. in that it is forbidden to leave one’s residence after time X**, unless it is done for exercise (or some other limited reason), in which case time Y** applies.

*Probably and with some reservations for the local incidence rate. Cf. excursion.

**I have seen conflicting claims and have not verified which exact numbers apply at the moment. The earlier, more local, Wuppertal curfew probably had X as 9 P.M. and Y as midnight.

This re-raises the question: Given that there already are strict restrictions on inter-household contacts (irrespective of time of day), that discos, bars, restaurants, etc. are all closed to begin with, that the few stores that are open close at 9 P.M.* anyway, that most workplaces close a lot earlier, etc. what could the purpose of this be?

*Going by the grocery stores in my neighborhood—other localities might have (or have had, pre-COVID) longer opening hours. Non-grocery stores typically close even earlier.

There is, obviously, some chance that this is yet another case of politicians making incompetent decisions, possibly just for the purpose of showing that “we are doing something” (even should what is done be ineffectual or do more harm than good).

In light of the exceptions, however I see a suspicion supported that I have hitherto left unstated for fear of looking paranoid, as it points to something truly nefarious, an inexcusable GDR-level agenda—that these curfews are intended to make it easier for the government to enforce other restrictions. Effectively, they are not there to (directly) combat COVID, but to give the government the tools to force the people to compliance (even be it with the indirect purpose of combating COVID).

For instance, without a curfew, family A could go visit family B, and unless they are observed together, a disgruntled family member tattles, or similar, the police would not be able to do very much. With a curfew? Nick them for violating the curfew on the way over, instead of the actual “crime” that they were about to “get away” with. (Conveniently, the exercise exemption is limited to one or, possibly, two persons, while the visiting restrictions have a similar one-person exemption.)

Looking at the future, this is could be highly problematic on at least two counts: Firstly, restrictions on civic rights are becoming ever more extreme and the ever more extreme is becoming “normalized”.* Secondly, this attitude of curfews and whatnots for the purpose of controlling the people could easily find a post-COVID** continuation, e.g. in that curfews are imposed to prevent AfD*** members from coordinating or that you-are-not-allowed-to-surf-the-Internet-anonymously-lest-you-spread-Rightwing****-hate-speech suggestions resurface.

*Notably, restrictions of dubious justification relative the crisis and the foreseeable benefit.

**If there is such a thing as post-COVID. Another immense danger is the COVID might remain and/or be milked by the politicians for so long that the next pandemic or whatnot appears in time to make the situation permanent.

***A popular-with-many-voters and hated-by-the-old-parties political party which is demonized and used as a threatening specter by the German Left—they must be suppressed or in a few years we will be gassing Jews and invading Poland.

****And note how often the focus is on explicitly “Rightwing” this-or-that, despite the Left almost invariably being the bigger sinners.

Excursion on governmental duty to inform:
As I noted in [2], there is too little information flowing in an explicit manner from the government. In effect, the citizens are supposed to hang on every word the press says, and hope that the press has got it right, in order not be ignorant of the current regulations. (And, again, not limited to COVID.)

This situation simply is not conscionable, especially with the way that the government dithers back on forth on some issues (note the Easter topic from [2] and some earlier texts) and with the often varying regulations on the federal, state, and municipal levels. Indeed, I outright missed the original imposition of a local Wuppertal curfew, only learning about it several days after the fact, because it did not find mention in any of the more nationwide sources that I had read. (And, frankly, I do not read that much German news anyway—in part, for lack of quality sources; in part, because of the high degree of paywalling.)

It absolutely, positively, and categorically must be the responsibility of the government to ensure that such information is given to the people—not the responsibility of the people to research whatever the government is currently up to. (The “how” I leave open for now, but this is one of the few areas where an email newsletter might make sense. With COVID and the often very short time from suggestion to decision, even putting paper notices in mailboxes might be justified.)

Written by michaeleriksson

April 24, 2021 at 11:15 am

Follow-up II: Plastic bags, the environment, and dishonest companies

leave a comment »

To revisit the topic of plastic bags vs. paper bags (cf. at least [1], [2]), especially with an eye on irrational and environmentally counterproductive policies:

For quite some time, most grocery stores have offered only paper bags and/or only sturdy plastic bags intended for multiple use. The chain Netto has been a pleasant exception, offering “regular” plastic bags until quite recently.

Now, these regular plastic bags, the misleadingly called “one-time” or “disposable” bags, have been quite good for multiple use: they fit well in the pocket of a jacket; are sturdy enough to use half-a-dozen to a dozen times;* and when they are too worn out, they can be used for garbage.

*Possibly more, as the limiting factor in my case has been the need for garbage bags …

The intended-for-multiple-use bags are, paradoxically, inferior in this regard: they do last even longer, but are a much worse fit for a pocket and I doubt that they are better on e.g. a uses-per-quantity-of-plastic* basis. Moreover, of the two bags that I have so far tried to use for a prolonged time, one fell out of my pocket and was lost within less than a dozen uses, the other developed a tear within a dozen uses, which grew to the point that I did not dare use the bag within a total of two dozen uses.

*To illustrate the principle: If a regular bag can be used a dozen times and an intended-for-multiple-use bag uses ten times as much plastic, it would take 120 uses to reach the same level.

The paper bags are near useless for repeated use: (a) they do not take folding well; (b) they easily tear, often on first use (and once torn, they are exceptionally weak); (c) a simple rain, and Wuppertal is very rainy, can kill them even on a first use. Moreover, even on a first use, they are sufficiently much weaker than a plastic bag that care must be taken to not load them too heavily and to not have e.g. the corner of a carton in a position to poke a hole. (d) they are less useful for other purposes too, e.g. as garbage bags (vulnerable to moisture, not closeable in the manner of a plastic bag).

Looking at Netto, the first sign of trouble was in January: I visit(ed) Netto almost exclusively for the plastic bags (cf. excursion), typically loading up enough on groceries to justify two bags, which I then used while visiting other stores until the bags were re-purposed as garbage bags, after which I went back for a rare Netto visit, lather-rinse-repeat. My January visit was a disappointment, as no plastic bags were available. I had to resort to a big paper bag, which was highly impractical for repeated use, even if somewhat sturdier than most other paper bags. I was highly annoyed upon discovering the almost taunting presence of ten check-boxes on the bag, where the proud and environmentally friendly owner was supposed to mark off how many times he had used this unsuitable-for-multiple-use paper bag! Not only was this a virtual taunt, but it also displayed a customer despising attitude where the customer is considered an idiot and/or a pathological virtue signaler and/or is to be used to shame other customers into repeated use.

I gave Netto a second chance a little later, and indeed found plastic bags again.

But: Today, I was out of plastic bags again. I went to Netto—and again found only paper bags. I restricted myself to one bag’s worth of groceries, packed up and left. Barely out of the store, the bag tears to such a degree that I had to carry the remains, barely covering my groceries, in my arms. So much for the quasi-prescribed ten uses!

Considering various other issues (cf. excursion), I will stay away from Netto indefinitely.

Now, about pockets: Should it not be obvious that pockets make the regular plastic bags the preferred version? Apart from human stupidity and irrationality as an explanation why this is not the case, there seems to be a wide-spread assumption that grocery store visits are done by car. Certainly, someone traveling by car need be less concerned over what fits or does not fit well into his pockets, what might fit but fall out (cf. above), and similar. But would it not be better to remain with regular plastic bags and discourage car travel instead?

Excursion on the impact of German reductions:
In the time since my last text on the topic, I have encountered claims (but not kept references) that the number of plastic bags ending up in nature from Europe is dwarfed by the African and/or Asian numbers (to some part, because the recycling quota is much higher in Europe). If so, the bans become the more absurd, as the your-plastic-bag-is-polluting-the-oceans argument is weakened considerably, and as the first lesson of optimization is to optimize where the effect is the largest. Moreover, I have encountered claims that, contrary to propaganda, the overall environmental cost is dominated by the pre-purchase effects. If this is true, the emotional manipulation through claims about suffering animals becomes the harder to justify and the use of e.g. paper bags becomes the more disputable as they, in my understanding, have a higher pre-purchase impact on the environment than plastic bags do. As with e.g. the disgraceful attempts to banish nuclear power, even at the cost of increased use of fossil fuels, the environment might then be harmed by the very attempts to protect it.

Excursion on Netto and my reluctance to buy there:
Visiting Netto is often highly annoying, especially through a repeatedly displayed customer-despising attitude. The three most notable issues:

Firstly, advertising statements that go on ad nauseam. Where other stores, gratifyingly, appear to slowly move away from this annoying intrusion, Netto has begun to use them comparatively recently.* Indeed, I have no recollection of them occurring, or occurring more than rarely, before the first COVID-lockdown, about a year ago, when Netto began to blast the customers with ever-repeating, patronizing, and redundant messages that the customers should keep their distance, and so on, and so forth. I suspect that Netto abused the situation to push advertising through the same channel, after the COVID-related messages were phased out. This especially with an eye on the ad nauseam, which applied to the COVID messages and now applies to the advertising: other stores might play a pop song** over the loud speakers, broadcast one or two ads, play a pop song, etc. Netto has a period of silence** followed by an ad, followed by an ad, followed by an ad, followed by an ad, on and on and on for minutes at a time, before the next period of silence begins.

*Reservation: their presence or absence sometimes vary from store to store, even within the same chain. My local impressions need not reflect the German-wide situation.

**Whether pop songs or silence is preferable, I leave unstated, as these songs are often poor or even annoying in their own right. However, with music there is at least a nominal trade similar to the one of most radio stations—we give you music and in return you listen to our advertising.

Secondly, the particularly annoying and patronizing COVID statements. The aforementioned loudspeaker announcements have been largely phased out; however, the store is still plastered with signs, including the absurd message “Heute trägt man Verantwortung”—“Today one wears [or carries] responsibility”. (Presumably, as a failed joke on the wearing of masks.) The view of the customers that shines through is inexcusable, as are the attempts at cheap manipulation, shaming tactics, etc. (In contrast, a legitimate message would have been e.g. “Per city [or whatnot] ordinance, we must enforce the wearing of N95-masks. We ask for your understanding and cooperation.”.

Thirdly, there is usually only a single check-out line open, even during “rush hour”, which leads to a disproportionate risk of queuing, with the associated delays and, I strongly suspect, an increased risk of COVID spread. (Which makes the aforementioned COVID messages even more absurd.)

Written by michaeleriksson

March 18, 2021 at 5:12 pm

Countermeasures more damaging than COVID / Follow-up: Various COVID-19 articles

with one comment

I just read a very interesting article on the damage by COVID counter-measures and how they, according to a peer-reviewed study, do more harm than good. This plays in well with things that I began to say as early as March 2020, or roughly ten months ago. (See [1] and [2], as well as quite a few later texts.)

Below, I will discuss portions of this article, but first I want to point to another case of pinning the tail to the COVID donkey. Going by current German reporting*, there are plans to (a) institute a nightly curfew, (b) mandate FFP2-masks** in e.g. stores. As to (a), what is that supposed to achieve?!? The nights are the times when the streets are almost free of people anyway, when there is the smallest risk of infecting or being infected. By locking people in at night, they either lose an option of fresh air and exercise for no good reasons or are forced to move these activities to the day time, when the risks are larger … Utterly idiotic. (Note that bars, discos, and the like are closed to begin with, irrespective of this curfew.) As to (b), either this is an(other) unnecessary measure or it proves that the old/current policy, in place for many months, was deeply flawed. The latter might very well be the case, as it allowed the use of virtually any mouth covering, including home-made masks and the scarf that I, myself, have been using. If so, however, it should have been obvious to begin with, and the old/current policy was mostly unnecessary, a cheap psychological measure, and/or another case of pinning the tail.

*Source is the non-archived Internet version of “ARD Text”. As I try to minimize efforts on this closed blog, I will not research alternate sources.

**Roughly equivalent to the U.S. N95-masks.

To the main issue:*

*Quote marks present in the cited article have been kept to indicate what words stem from the author of the study (one Dr. Ari Joffe) and when the author of the article. This especially as the article appears to, it self, quote another article/interview extensively.

  1. The study, by a previously pro-lockdown physician, claims that the damage outweighs* the benefits by a factor 10 (ten!). I do not know whether this figure pans out, or whether it pans out everywhere**, but it is a strong further indication that the crisis has been horribly mishandled.

    *And this likely limited to health, while measuring the effects of e.g. bankruptcies only indirectly through health effects. (As I began to write, I assumed the opposite, and only discovered my likely error during writing. For reasons of time, I will not research this in detail. This potential misunderstanding might be preserved in sub-optimal formulations below, but will not render the underlying thoughts incorrect.)

    **The study is likely based on Canada.

  2. A particularly important portion reads:

    Explaining further to the Toronto paper why he initially supported the lockdowns, Joffe noted he’s not trained to make public policy decisions.

    “I was only considering the direct effects of COVID-19 and my knowledge of how to prevent these direct effects,” he said. “I was not considering the immense effects of the response to COVID-19 (that is, lockdowns) on public health and wellbeing.”

    Not only does this match my main complaint, that there is no awareness of e.g. opportunity costs and side-effects, but it also points to a danger of listening to experts without applying own thought.

    However, exactly this blind following is often demanded or voluntarily practiced. This, unfortunately, appears to include the politicians who should know better in terms of public policy than the average physician: “Fauci et al. say that X, Y, Z; ergo, we must A, B, C.” Why not consult a few experts on business and economics, a few civil-rights’ lawyers, and whoever else might be relevant in addition to Fauci? Why not a few psychologist and psychiatrists on top of physicians and experts on infectious diseases?

  3. Overlapping, the article claims:

    He pointed out that government and public health experts did not conduct a formal cost-benefit analysis of various responses to the pandemic.

    I would go further: from what I have seen, even an informal cost-benefit analysis has only rarely been made or, when present, had an influence on decision making.

  4. The negative effects are not just economic. As I have pointed out, there are also competing health effects.

    “It turns out that loneliness and unemployment are known to be among the strongest risk factors for early mortality, reduced lifespan and chronic diseases,”

    I would have said “Duh!”, expect that most politicians appear either unaware of or “willfully ignorant” on this point.

  5. The media have been as bad as the politicians (another “Duh!” moment …):

    “Popular media focused on absolute numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths independent of context,” he said. “There has been a sheer one-sided focus on preventing infection numbers.”

    In a bigger picture, this repeats the failure of media (discussed in many previous texts) of providing the population with the information needed to think for themselves: media has a ready-made, pre-chewed opinion and the population should just swallow that opinion.*

    *Note that this is a bad thing even should the media have a sound opinion.

  6. Another big complaint of mine is that the risks of COVID-19 and number of the deaths from it has not been put in perspective relative other causes of death.

    “Each day in non-pandemic years, over 21,000 people die from tobacco use, 3,600 from pneumonia and diarrhea in children under 5-years-old, and 4,110 from tuberculosis,” he noted. “We need to consider the tragic COVID-19 numbers in context.”

Disclaimer: I have not read the underlying study, nor made any attempts at verifying the science or credibility.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 18, 2021 at 9:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Pointless smoke-detector tests and waste of other humans’ time and money in Germany

leave a comment »

I have repeatedly written on both undue government interventions and undue invasion of privacy and other intrusions through various service/test/measurement/whatnot companies, e.g. in A German’s home is not his castle / a few issues around inspections and meter readings ([1]).

Earlier this week, I had the yearly smoke-detector test: a professional service company (Objektus) came by, a man walked in with a broom stick (or something similar), used it to push the test button on the two smoke-detectors, noted that they made a hellish noise, and left again—after having spent likely less than twenty seconds in my apartment and doing nothing that I could not have done myself.

This for a legally mandated yearly check that involves paid professionals, a load of travel and bureaucracy, and which forces the victims to take large chunks out of their days to meet the dictated times, with direct and indirect costs that are in no proportion to the value* of the service.

*Even assuming that smoke-detectors bring significant value to begin with, to which I am at least somewhat skeptical (this appears to be more propaganda and lobbying than science and data, cf. parts of [2]); and even assuming that a yearly test, as opposed to e.g. simply swapping the detectors every three-or-so years, has more than the slightest value added, to which I am extremely skeptical.

For instance, this particular company dictates a yearly date with short notice (around a week) and allows one dictated back-up date with (this year) six days’ notice. At least the back-up date had a two-hour interval (12:15–14:15). For many, the time of day, length of interval, and a bit of a commute might well mean that half the work-day is gone. For someone with a longer commute, it might take out an entire day—in extreme cases, an entire week!*

*I have repeatedly done weekend commutes over very long distances, e.g. Düsseldorf–Munich. The current date was a Tuesday, implying that I would have had no realistic choice but to miss both Monday and Tuesday. With five-or-so hours of travel in each direction (main station to main station, not including “local” travel, not including time to deal with hotels, whatnot), I might then have been better off foregoing the entire week. Had the date been on a Wednesday, I more or less would have had to. If the lost time is not enough, consider the considerable travel costs relative the smaller amount of billable hours per travel.

Last year, at least, some actual work was done in that the smoke-detectors were swapped, but this is apparently not a yearly task. (I have owned the apartment for longer, but in prior years various factors have lead to no service at all taking place, including one case of my being entirely oblivious to the dictated dates as I did not occupy the apartment and one case of the service company simply not showing up on their own dictated date. But, apparently, the legal mandate extends even to uninhabited apartments.)

A much saner system would, as in the past, leave smoke-detectors to the discretion of those actually living in the apartments. Barring that, a system where a service company replaces them every X years and the inhabitants are simply mandated to confirm that “we pressed the buttons and a painfully loud noise followed” once a year, would be much better. Barring that, some better solution of date handling must be found (some variations are mentioned in [1].)

Excursion on opportunity costs:
The opportunity costs do not just involve time and money, but can also include lives—and I am far from convinced that this mandated yearly check leads to a net-savings in lives. For the check to bring value, we have to assume that the batteries run out (or some other problem occurs) between changes, that the inhabitants do not voluntarily make tests, that a fire actually does occur, and that the circumstances are such that the smoke-detectors actually would have saved lives in that fire. (Which they would not have e.g. if a crucial exit was blocked, if the fire was too small, or if the fire was discovered by someone awake before the smoke-detectors triggered—and I do suspect that most fires take place in the day time.) How many lives this will be per year, I cannot judge, but it will not be many—it might even be none in a typical year. Against this we have to measure deaths caused by the checks, e.g. through unnecessary traffic accidents due to travel by testers or inhabitants, increased stress at work,* negative effects through extra costs,* and similar. Here, too, I cannot judge the number of lives, except that it will be a low number. The relevant question is, will it be a higher or lower number? Here I would strongly suspect a higher number …

*Looking at aggregates over sufficiently many humans such factors are relevant, even if they are highly unlikely in any given case (and far less spectacular than a car crash).

Right now, there is also the whole COVID-thing to worry about. Considering how much else has been banned in wild panic, I find it inconsistent that the comparatively high-risk task of having service staff move from apartment to apartment and contact with stranger after stranger has not been banned. This, however, is likelier to be an issue with the Pinning the tail to the COVID-19 donkey approach to policy than with the current topic.

Written by michaeleriksson

August 28, 2020 at 10:19 am