What happened on our side in 2015?

deutsche Version

Fortunately, our health has allowed us to spend our energies on society at large and friends in particular. Here is a list of recent projects.

  1. Kathrin, a good friend of ours and daughter of the family that lived in our house before they sold it to us in the mid 1990s, needed medical advice. She had breast cancer (her mother and her 2 brothers died of cancer), got surgery, radio- and chemotherapy, leaving her with the heart problems common to this therapy. She felt somewhat neglected by the local physicians, so with the help of PubMed I compiled a literature review and from that a list of questions in preparation of a visit to a Berlin specialist I have known for years.
  2. Kinder auf der Flucht

    Germany is welcoming a wave (estimate: 800.000 refugees in 2015, more than 1 million in 2014 as well as in 2015) of asylum seeking (wo)men and children, recently mostly from Syria (statistics 2015). Many children have been arriving on their own, unaccompanied (Petition for help, video by SOS-Kinderdörfer, details). We made us familiar with some literature dealing with the issue of long term integration - a rather meagre attitude compared to what friends of ours do here.

    Applications For Asylum in 1953-2015

  3. Having joined Campact during its founding stages (Campact is Germany's largest organization at the interface between citizens and government, organizing demos and conscious raising) we felt the responsibility to criticise the organization's attitude towards new political parties such as Alternative für Deutschland (comments on a controversial play by Falk Richter of the Berlin Schaubühne). We started a discussion within Campact about the dangers of political polarisation, with an emphasis on how Perestroika dealt with a similar problem.
  4. Aaron Swartz

    Source: The Internet's Own Boy: the Story of Aaron Swartz
    The film follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties. (Source: Anonymous Official)

    In connection with the revelations by Edward Snowden we decided to become members of the German NGO "netztpolitik.org early 2015 and have kept us informed (e.g. annual report in German) about the issues
    • net neutrality,
    • surveillance,
    • and the political, legislative and judicial activities we might need to join.

  5. We greatly reduced the use of our car, following the widely spreading trend. For us living in the countryside and no longer being under time pressure, the car is easily replaced, mostly by the bicycle and occasionally by the train. From a study of the Scientific Counsel on Global Environmental Change (WBGU) we learnt that Germans are carbon insolvent, meaning that we used up our all time share of CO2-emissions. Consequently, for each ton of CO2 we emit, we have to pay 70 - 100 $ into a fund out of which CO2-reducing projects are financed. For the average German citizen this amounts to an annual payment of 700 - 1000 $. The two of us are not living up to this challenge.


  6. In addition to that we are having a constant stream of mostly young guests (mid 20s - mid 40s) via airbnb which challenges our adaptability to and understanding of issues we thought we had forgotten.
  7. Jochen's Concise Untold Recent History of Germany

Version: 2 January 2016
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Jochen Gruber - Marianne Steenken