Revolutionary New Ideas for Consistent Gendering in the German Language

Die deutsche Übersetzung dieses Textes findest du unten!

If you have read a few of my blog posts, you will have noticed that I like to write about the future. This is mostly due to the huge amounts of newspapers and books that I read every day. Here’s another look into my magic crystal ball.

The gender discussion is now finding its way into our language. This is a positive development, as the language that all of us use for communication should be respectful of people who are different. Language should be inclusive; if it isn’t inclusive, it shows that our society and we as citizens aren’t.

It is a challenging topic though, as in many languages certain words have a clear ‘sex’. In English, and in my native language (Dutch), this isn’t so dramatic, since in these two languages only a few forms exist. For example: “Look, a horse! It is beautiful” is the sexless form. “Did you ask the doctor?” is sex-neutral, and only by going into more detail, the sex becomes apparent: “Did you ask the doctor and what was her answer?” So, in English or Dutch, it is quite easy to navigate the cliffs of possible sexism.

How different is the German language! Here, many words have a pre-assigned sex. Sexless examples are: das Pferd, das Kind, das Mädchen (the horse, the child, the girl. Confusingly a girl is sexless as the word contains a diminutive; let’s skip that for the moment). But all other words are either male or female: der Arzt and die Ärztin (the doctor), der Lokomotivführer and die Lokomotivführerin (the trainengineer), die Krankenschwester and der Krankenbruder (the nurse), even der Mond (the moon), and die Blume (the flower) have a sex.

The current gendering in German results in sentences such as “Sehr geehrte Bürger*Innen” (“Dear citizens”. Notice the use of the *). In this way, people now write (and speak) about Arzt*Innen, and Lokomotivführer*Innen. The difficulty is that German grammar knows many more articles than der/die/das. For instance: “Der Stein war zu groß. Ich habe den Stein verkauft.” (The stone was too big. I sold the stone). In regards to correct gendering, this can become quite complex, and the result isn’t very pretty.

The biggest challenge: all current proposals for gendering are half-assed solutions. and as we all know, only radical solutions drive true innovation.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see how the German language will change over the next twenty years. Most likely (like in real life) the absolute male and female forms will disappear. This will probably happen because the articles die/der will disappear, like in the sentence: “Das Doctor arbeitet in das Krankenhaus” (The doctor works in the hospital), “Das Stadt, das Blume und das Mond sind schön” (the town, the flower and the moon are beautiful – notice how perfectly this works in English?) or even “Das Frau kauft das Blume” (The woman buys the flower), and “Das Stein war zu groß. Ich habe das Stein verkauft.” (The stone was too big. I sold the stone.)

Conservatives will probably fight this tooth and nail, which is not unusual for changes in language. In the end, reality dictates what a language looks like, not artificial regulation or feeble attempts at conservation. Language constantly changes, and usually at the speed with which society changes. And our surrounding world is changing rapidly.

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Revolutionäre neue Ideen für konsistentes Gendern in der deutschen Sprache

Wenn du einige meiner Blogposts gelesen hast, wrist du bemerkt haben, daß ich gerne in die Zukunft schaue. Hier ist ein weiterer Blick in meine Kristallkugel.

Die Geschlechterdiskussion findet nun ihren Weg in unsere Sprache. Dies ist eine positive Entwicklung, da die Sprache, die wir jeden Tag für die Kommunikation verwenden, Menschen, die anders sind, respektieren sollte. Sprache sollte inklusiv sein; wenn sie nicht inklusiv ist, zeigt es, daß unsere Gesellschaft und wir als Bürger es nicht sind.

Es ist jedoch ein herausforderndes Thema, da in vielen Sprachen bestimmte Wörter ein klares „Geschlecht“ haben. Auf Englisch und in meiner Muttersprache (Niederländisch) ist dies nicht so dramatisch, da in diesen Sprachen nur wenige Formen existieren. Zum Beispiel: “Look, a horse!” ist die geschlechtslose Form. “Did you ask the doctor?” ist Geschlechstneutral. Nur wenn man mehr Detail nachliefert, wird das Geschlecht offensichtlich: “Did you ask the doctor, and what did she say?” Auf Englisch und Niederländisch ist es also ziemlich einfach, die Klippen des Sexismus zu navigieren.

Wie anders ist die deutsche Sprache! Hier haben viele Wörter ein vorab zugewiesenes Geschlecht. Sexlose Beispiele sind: das Pferd, das Kind, das Mädchen (Verwirrenderweise ist ein Mädchen geschlechtslos, da das Wort eine Verkleinerung enthält). Aber alle anderen Wörter sind entweder männlich oder weiblich: der Arzt und die Ärztin, der Lokomotivführer und der Lokomotivführerin, die Krankenschwester und der Krankenbruder, der Mond, die Blume.

Die aktuelle Geschlechterdiskussion führt zu Konstrukten wie “Sehr geehrte Bürger*Innen“. Auf ähnliche Weise schreiben (und sprechen) die Leute jetzt über Arzt*Innen, oder Lokomotivführer*Innen. Die Schwierigkeit besteht darin, daß die deutsche Grammatik viel mehr Artikel wie “der, die und das” kennt: zum Beispiel: “Der Stein war zu groß. Ich habe den Stein verkauft“. In Bezug auf korrektem Gendern kann dies komplex werden und ist nicht sehr hübsch.

Die größte Herausforderung: Alle aktuellen Vorschläge zum Gendern sind halbherzige Lösungen. Aber: nur radikale Lösungen treiben echte Innovation voran.

Es braucht keine Kristallkugel, um zu sehen, wie sich die deutsche Sprache in den nächsten zwanzig Jahren ändern wird. Höchstwahrscheinlich (wie im wirklichen Leben) werden die absoluten männlichen und weiblichen Formen verschwinden. Die Artikel werden verschwinden, wie im Satz: “Das Arzt arbeitet in das Krankenhaus”, “Das Stadt, das Blume und das Mond sind schön“, oder sogar “Das Frau kauft das Blume“, “Das Stein war zu groß. Ich habe das Stein verkauft”. Wenn du versuchst, diese Sätze ins Englische zu übersetzen, wirst du feststellen, daß die englische Sprache diese Änderung bereits durchlaufen hat (“The stone was too big. I have sold the stone.”)

Konservative werden sich mit Hand und Fuß gegen diese Änderungen wehren, was für Sprachreformen nicht ungewöhnlich ist. Am Ende bestimmt die Realität, wie eine Sprache aussieht, nicht künstliche Regulierung oder schwache Erhaltungsversuche. Die Sprache ändert sich ständig und normalerweise mit der Geschwindigkeit, mit der sich die Gesellschaft ändert. Und unsere Welt verändert sich rasant.

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The Corona Pandemic. A View from the Edge.

Repost of a blogpost that was originally posted in April, 2020. As a biologist with virology experience (obtained at a large pharma company during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s) and as an author of the 2010 corona-pandemic novel TWO JOURNEYS, I can claim to know more about epidemics than most… yet definitely not enough to call myself an expert. Nevertheless, I’ve come to the realization that this is a lonely situation: I seem to be surrounded by virologists and economists, literally EVERYBODY suddenly seems to have deep insights into Corona and its effects. I already hinted at this phenomenon in my previous blogpost “The Corona Crisis and how it will affect all of us.”

I read about Corona on a daily basis, and have found some trustworthy and good resources too (within the hyperlink above). I have also been reading up on Corona on social media. Mildly put, this is an unwise decision, as the average post or comment on e.g. Facebook has as much value as a fart at a funeral. It seems that every Hans, Fred and Harry, who in the past would blurt out their skewed view of the world in a neighborhood speakeasy, now knows how to use highly efficient social platforms to create considerable reach. People talk about herd immunity without understanding the true issue with that approach. People start to confuse result and cause: „corona isn’t a dramatic disease, because nothing much happened.“ Yeah… but perhaps that is because of the measures that most countries implemented, dumbhead? And, yes at least 100,000s if not millions will die because of this pandemic. Throw into this mix a limited knowledge of data and data interpretation, some conspiracy theories and strong personal opinions, and bingo: suddenly any government or official advice on how to deal with the pandemic does not sound so sensible anymore.

Not that any alternative is offered; it is just criticism. 

Bluntly criticizing without offering alternatives – in any setting a poor show. I talked to a neighbor next, a gentleman over 70, who, due to a previous lung disease, clearly belongs to the COVID-19 risk group. An intriguing conversation, mildly put. First, the whole “panic about corona is a complete exaggeration” (this was probably the reason why he kept moving closer, forcing me to step back to keep a safe distance). Second, “They will make us pay the bill for this”. He said this in a way as if the “others” are yet again forcing him to pay something; as if this is a ploy by our (democratically elected) government to get his money. Again, criticism against ‘others’ without any constructive idea on what the alternative could be.

Some pundits on social media do this in a very clever way, by overloading their arguments with factlets and selective information – but in the end, again no proposal on how tor resolve the issue. Obviously, populists and extremists are very good at this. Some are conspicuously quiet at the moment, although I can guess why: most of them never talk about SOLUTIONS, but only about PROBLEMS. And in the current situation, what we need most are solutions. But don’t worry, once the virus has been defeated, they will come out of the wood works with full energy.

The issue is that if a catastrophe happens, society as a whole will need to pay the bill. This happens after every storm, every explosion, every war and every pandemic. And society is made up of citizens, which means that this pandemic will cost US money, yes: YOU. It will also cost ME money, if that offers any comfort. Economic crises happen every seven years or so (the old testament already mentioned this), and every fifth crisis is probably a real big one, so get used to the idea that you will encounter a financial crash several times during your life time (see my blogpost “Getting Started as an Investor. Six Straightforward Steps.” You can’t blame the government (that you may have elected into office?) or anyone else. This virus is bigger than all of us together. You can criticize officials for how they handle the pandemic, but what does the alternative that you suggest look like? Is it really better? What is your evidence, or is it conjecture? What actually is your personal contribution to improving the situation? And did you vote this government into office, and why? Would your favorite party or politician be able to do a better job?

My corona-pandemic novel TWO JOURNEYS sets off in Japan, a country that I was privileged to visit a dozen times. We can learn a lot from Asian countries in this crisis. I am sure that Japanese also have grievances with their governments and fellow countrymen; but what is obvious in Japan is that when the government communicates advice on how to behave in a pandemic, the Japanese seemingly do a better job at simply following the guidance. Now, you may argue that Asian people are much less critical and outspoken. However, my impression is that the Japanese do this because they have respect for other people. That is why, even in times when no pandemic is about, many people in Japan keep their distance to other people, or wear face masks when they have a cold. This respect is something that we should try to adopt, as it makes coping with this situation much easier. 

We, in the west, are all critical of our government, any government. By itself this is laudable, but in case of this pandemic, this has lead to many of us being slow in adopting any official guidelines – and with possibly dramatic consequences (the postmortem on this pandemic will provide interesting insights). This starts out by a certain stubbornness, for instance the refusal to keep any distance, or the refusal to wash hands properly. Several people told me: “I always wash my hands. I don’t understand this guidance. My mama taught me so.” My answer: “What? Your mother taught you to wash your hands for 25 seconds, to also scrub the inside and back of your hands, each single finger, and 5-10 times each day – and you already did that BEFORE the pandemic? NO WAY!” This stubbornness goes all the way to partying on the beach or in the park, going out even if infected, or even purposefully sneezing in the face of policemen (an incident that occurred in the Netherlands. The culprit was sent to jail). For a long time, governments were afraid to say that face masks are a good thing to stop the spread – I presume that one of the reasons was that all face masks would be hoarded and that none would be left for the hospitals. Like with the bogroll: you can’t make this up.

What my neighbor doesn’t understand is that sometimes it is best to just shut up and follow the rules. If the rubber hits the road, pause the discussion. Our democratically elected governments, the hospital staffs and the “real” virologists and epidemiologists (yes, the actual experts that we ourselves think we are) bring considerable experience to the table, and they seem (from where I am sitting) to be conscientiously evaluating the situation day-by-day, if not hour by hour. And the guidance that we have is simple: avoid crowds, keep 6 feet distance to strangers, wear a mask, and wash your hands. That isn’t asking too much: in China they spy on their people through mobile phones, no wonder they can claim that the infections go down (whether that is really the case at the rates they suggest is another matter). And the beauty is that if we all do this, very stringently, we will in the end flatten the curve, save lives and be able to return to work again.
More food for thought in my blogpost: Corona. How you can help stop this Pandemic in its tracks

Stay healthy and help kill this thing.

The Author with a anti-corona (non-medical) mask, made out of a clean handkerchief and two rubber bands.

Read more about corona in these blogposts. Find out about my books on amazon.com.

Originally posted 2020-04-03 21:03:31.

The Corona Pandemic and How it Affects All of Us.

(Originally posted in April 2020). Back in 2011, I published my pandemic adventure novel TWO JOURNEYS (soon followed by its sequel FIELDS OF FIRE). Both books deal with the dramatic effects of a Corona virus pandemic. The inspiration for these books came from the SARS epidemic that occurred a few years earlier, in 2003.

Both novels continue to gain a lot of attention. This pleases me; first of all as an author and artist, but also as a scientist that has been active in biomedical research and healthcare for many years, also in virology. My books are pure fantasy and adventure, yet they have a scientific basis and contain a few warnings that are worth highlighting in this post.

Without doubt, the 2020 Corona pandemic has a big impact on society. I blogged some words of advice already. Part of that impact we cannot even start to fathom today. The great Flu epidemic of 1918-1920 provides some insights, although corona now, and h1n1 then, as well as the healthcare, economic and social situation, are not completely comparable. This pandemic will cost all of us a lot of money, that’s for certain. It may lead to political instability and a shift in the global powerplay; early examples include the apparent Russian disinformation campaign or Chinese attempts to lay the blame elsewhere. However, most of all, the Corona virus has the potential to create a lot of sorrow and pain.

Surprisingly, crises like these also highlight the strength and good in us humans (listen to these Italians singing; perhaps not completely on tune :-)).

Alan, the hero of TWO JOURNEYS, soon notices that in pandemic times, several forces start to kick in:

  • Facts and truth start to suffer. Today, it seems that a majority of people have difficulty to understand exponential growth-curves, or aren’t interested to build up that knowledge, or even to listen to experts that can interpret exponential growth. Yet, suddenly everybody is an amateur virologist, and every bit if information is (mis-)used for own purposes. This forces some of these individuals to make a 180 degree turn in opinion within mere days – damage done.
  • People start blaming experts, either for not warning early enough, or for being too pessimistic: “they were wrong about the SARS epidemic, weren’t they?” This reveals a deep misunderstanding of how science works; which is an education issue. If you have no clue how science works, get involved and read up on it… but NOT in the National Enquirer, the Sun or on Facebook or other social media. Don’t develop opinions about things that you do not understand; certainly don’t start spreading those opinions. Read this interview with the prominent virologist David Ho to understand the Corona pandemic mechanisms and the right measures. The pertinent information is out there: for instance at the CDC, at your local government website, but also from multiple doctors reporting directly from Italy‘s Bergamo.
  • Downplaying the crisis or (even worse) creating panic about it. Putting on your blinders for the issue as it develops never helps, especially since you as a layperson do not have all the relevant data at your disposal. Read my other post The Corona Pandemic. A View from the Edge. At the same time, IF all the advice from the authorities is followed by ALL of us, any emergency can ultimately be contained. And once that tipping point is achieved, not only will the exponential growth curve of a viral infection be broken, but also the growth-curve of all the associated concerns – health, financial, societal. Stay realistic, don’t panic, and always realize that a pandemic is a moving target, where even the best experts and politicians will need to constantly adjust their policies and advice (if you think you can do a better job, I urge you to apply for a job at your local health authority – don’t waste time writing about it on social media ;-).
  • People start to use the pandemic for their own populist agendas. In TWO JOURNEYS this is embodied in the character of the wannabee dictator Somerset, who believes that with a decimated population world-power is within his grasp. Populists play with their citizens’ lives, as they only have their own objectives in mind: to get re-elected, for financial gain, to strengthen their power, or whatever sick idea they follow. Populists, in contrast to sincere politicians, experts or the members of the healthcare staff in the ICU of your local hospital, do not regard helping you as primary objective. They simply can’t, it simply isn’t in their DNA. Populists have a goal, and will filter and (mis)use data that seems to substantiate that goal. Science and common sense do the opposite: collect data first, then define a theory and finally a goal. Needless to say, populists will impact their own citizens’ lives dramatically – and your life too. A pandemic (the word implies the ‘global’ impact of an epidemic) will not stop at a national border… or your doorstep for that matter.

These observations could be the ingredients of a highly depressive story line. But every cloud has its silver lining. TWO JOURNEYS is very much a story of hope. It highlights the goodness of people, and their ability to persevere in the hardest of times, together. We can see the same happening in today’s situation: our strength is our willingness to help one another; to be sensible, to focus on facts, (blogpost) in a disturbing, shifting situation. And not to panic. Forget about hoarding toilet paper.

Stay healthy and let’s come out of this stronger, together.

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Our dog Buddy enjoys the outdoors and spots a stork during our self-isolation.

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Originally posted 2020-03-21 16:45:28.

Will humanity survive forever?

During a walk with a friends in our favorite, nearby forest, we talked about the corona pandemic. At one point, someone mentioned that whatever may happen, it is a certainty that humanity will survive forever. I didn’t contradict the point at the time, as I didn’t want to be regarded as overtly pessimistic, but as the author of post-apocalyptic books, I have read many articles about the topic and have developed my own views.

Realistic and not pessimistic views, I like to point out.

Humanity has been around for about 300,000 years, which on the scale of the birth of life on the planet (3.7 billion years ago) is a mere blink of an eye. All organisms constantly mutate and change, and although a minority of species may have survived for very long times (“living fossiles,” like jellyfish, certain types of fish or crabs, all of these are relatively primitive in structure), most organisms tend to mutate and change over time (to better adapt to modifications in their surroundings). It is a good guess that humans will also continue to mutate and evolve, so it could well be that a few hundred thousand years from now, Homo sapiens will have given rise to a new species, a Homo futuris. At that stage it might well happen that Homo sapiens will disappear, just like homo neanderthalensis did disappear about 40,000 years ago. Clearly, the overwhelming power of evolution is, by definition, not favorable for the eternal existence of any species.

More dramatically, looking back at the history of life on our planet, several mass extinctions occurred over time. The disappearance of the dinosaurs is definitely the most well-known example, but scientists have identified at least five such dramatic events over the past 500 million years. In addition, the Great Ice Age began about 2 million years and ended 10,000 years ago, and has also been identified as a major cause for the extinction of many plants and animal species; especially many mammals. The mammoth, the saber-toothed tiger and many other mega-fauna species went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Life on our planet is constantly changing, and this will continue to happen; there is no guarantee that Homo sapiens is in some way “immune” to getting extinct.

One could argue that humans may be able to somehow “fight” against these evolutionary trends, e.g. through the use of advances technology. Although humankind has progressed scientifically, and inventions like antibiotics or other medications, or the advance of genomics, may offer a clue how this could be done; but realistically, the technology to safeguard our survival isn’t available currently. It is questionable whether we can fight or control the evolution of our species – or if we want to do so.

On the other hand, our technological prowess is now greatly endangering our species. About 5500 years ago the earliest form of writing appeared. This was a watershed moment in humanity’s history, as it allowed the storage and dissemination of knowledge. This has led to magnificent inventions that have greatly improved our lives. Modern healthcare, more efficient production of food, better communication to tackle problems – I would argue that all of these have positive impact on our lives and help halt unnecessary disease, famine and war.

But let’s not fool ourselves: these technologies also show highly scary potential to wipe out humanity in a very short timeframe. As an example, there are about 400 nuclear reactors on the planet. Should, for some reason, the maintenance of these reactors be halted, within weeks sufficient radiation will be released into the atmosphere to greatly endanger our existence (I explain this point in my soon to be published new novel). Individual humans may show considerable intelligence, but as a group we behave like primitive bacteria; as another example we continue to push back nature (e.g. through deforestation) and this is now seen as one of the reasons that the SARS, MERS, and the Corona outbreaks occurred (perhaps you should stay tuned for more pandemics in the future). And finally, through the release of copious amounts of carbondioxide into the atmosphere, humanity is changing the climate, to an extent where we can expect tremendous changes to occur in our ecosystem. Many species (for instance all the mammals larger than the cow) may will disappear, other species will gain more dominance: varmints most likely.

Humankind’s survival is not a given. This isn’t a pessimistic view, as an optimist at heart I believe that we can change the tide; one step at a time!Read more about evolution in my other blogposts.

 

 

Are we all just part of a magnificent computer simulation?

About a year ago I was the host of a business dinner in New York, half a dozen men and women met at a fine restaurant after a day of intensive meetings. Perfect food, some great wine and a very nice group of people from hard- and software companies, the majority from the USA, some from Europe.

The conversation focused on business, but as the night carried on, turned to other topics. We discussed politics, history… and computing. These people were all computer specialists, many with engineering degrees. At a certain point the discussion turned to the theory that was humans do not exist, but instead are just avatars on a piece of very advanced hardware. This theory is not new: Elon Musk is one its proponents. It is based on the observation that computers are becoming more and more advanced as well as that the distinction between virtual reality (VR) and reality seems to be disappear. Some time in the far future, somebody will be able to create a computer that doesn’t just simulate a human brain (which according to some estimates may be possible in 50 years or so), but the brain of all humans. It is just a matter of scale; throw in some quantum computing, sufficient hardware and real-time analytics with deep machine learning, and it should be possible to do this.

We could thus easily just IMAGINE that we are physically alive, today and here on this planet; whereas in reality we are just characters in a very advanced computer game played by a acne-faced teenager 200 years in the future. Everything that we experience; all pain and war and suffering and all love and rewards and happiness would then only be part of a simulation.

Little speaks against this theory from a technical standpoint: as long as technical progress continues (to accelerate) at the same pace it has for the last 150 years, this is easily imaginable. This is naturally also a weakness of the theory: life on Earth as well as history hardly ever were linear (although this may seem so to us: we only experience a very small fragment of all of history, yet we think it is all encompassing). For instance, about every 1000 years or so, a major volcanic eruption happens, which tend to dramatically alter the progress of humanity’s culture. Nevertheless one could argue that such catastrophes might delay the development of a super VR computer, but delay doesn’t mean that it could never be created.

So why do I still think there is no value in the theory that we are all just part of a very advanced computer simulation? At the Free University of Amsterdam where I studied biology many years ago, one of the highlights of the first year was a course in Philosophy and Methodology  of Natural Sciences. I have forgotten the professor’s name, but the man did a tremendous job at hammering home some basic scientific principles. Thus, the main argument is that although the simulation theory MIGHT be true, there is NO way to prove or disprove it; it is a theory that isn’t falsifiable. By what criteria could anyone prove that we are, or are not part of a simulation? After all, at some timepoint, the simulation would be so perfect that it couldn’t be identified as a simulation anymore. It is similar to stating that we are created by an invisible fairy living at the bottom of our garden – a theory that people may shrug at, or ridicule, but which would be very hard to prove or disprove. And, as my professor taught us, non-falsifiable theories have, from scientific point of view, no value.

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Originally posted 2019-01-12 20:35:00.

A Bit of Astronomy: how to get to the Star Betelgeuse (Turn Right on Your way from Monoceros to Alzirr).

Always wondered how to find Betelgeuse? Here are the directions.

Betelgeuse is also called α-Orionis. Betelgeuse originates from the Arab word yad al-ǧauzā, the Hand of the Giantess, sometimes also referred to as the shoulder star of Orion.

Why is Betelgeuse intriguing?

Betelgeuse is a giant star and is classified as a red super-giant. It has about a thousand times the diameter of our sun and has about ten thousand times more luminosity, as a result of which Betelgeuse can easily be seen in the night sky, as it is the tenth brightest star. This star is of great astronomical interest. Its radius was the first to be determined by interferometry and it varies by about 15%. As a result, Betelgeuse’s brightness varies a factor between +0.3 and + 0.6. This is one of the very few stars that are visible from Earth as a surface, not just a point in the sky. Most likely this star is an amazing 500 light-years away.

In the opinion of astronomers, Betelgeuze will end up as a supernova (read this Guardian article from 2020). Opinions vary when this event might take place: it could happen within the next thousand or one hundred thousand years. The resulting supernova will be easily visible and will shine over the entire firmament. With a red giant of this type, you can expect a 16,000-fold increase in luminosity. This supernova could reach the brightness of the full moon. Luckily enough, the axis of rotation of the star does not point towards the Earth, and the gamma-ray flash would not be strong enough that it would affect the Earth’s biosphere. Now, THAT would be a post-apocalyptic experience! The remnant of this supernova is expected to be a neutron star based on the mass of 20 solar masses.

Originally posted 2018-05-13 04:38:00.

Bonsai in the national botanical garden of Tokyo

When traveling to foreign countries I always attempt to find a few attractions off the beaten track. Botanical gardens are such a spot; as a biologist by I have visited gardens in places such as Paris, London, New Mexico, Hawaii … and now in Kyoto.

In a corner of the Kyoto Garden is an absolutely impressive collection of bonsais. In fact, it has inspired me to start growing a bonsai myself. I’m still in the information stage, so very little progress to report except that growing a bonsai  doesn’t seem to be trivial. I will keep you posted!

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Originally posted 2019-11-16 20:12:00.