Visit the SMART HOME of the future! Tips & tricks from your favorite interior designer. Add more newspudding.

The SMART HOME of the FUTURE – everybody talks about it, but what does it really entail? Here’s your chance to get a close-up view of our SMART HOME, simplifying our life every day.

Below the center piece of our SMART HOME: our SMART SOFA. As a visitor sits down, the sofa automatically determines the weight of that person. Almost as if by magic. This weight information, together with age, sex, home address, and email details, as well as buying and sexual preferences, is automatically not transferred to a server system somewhere in Alaska (not owned by Facebook, Amazon or Google). This facilitates more meaningful and open conversations between host and visitor.

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Our SMART water collecting system. With the help of advanced gravity, rain water collected on the roof is transported into the container. Fully automated, the home owner can lift the lid to check water levels in the tank, and with a special receptacle (green, lower left), water can be distributed amongst the potted plants. (This was not necessary on the day this picture was taken, as the automated system noted sufficient precipitation through visual and haptic detection).

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Our SMART HEATING SYSTEM. If a family member gets cold, a piece of wood is inserted into the receptacle, and lighted with a small Sulphur stick. As it takes long to get a fire going, strain and frustration will sufficiently increase body temperature.

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Below our SMART BURGLARY ALERT SYSTEM. With 24/7 availability, this four-legged burglar alarm immediately emits a loud sound as anyone gets close to the house (30 feet will do, thank you). This includes not only fiends, but any guest or even family member. This alarm is always accompanied by a visual signal (moving tail, tennis ball in mouth) and in some instances amplified by the sound of crashing cutlery or glass, dropped by unsuspecting and shocked witnesses. In contrast to ordinary networked alarm systems, the SMART BURGLAR ALARM of the FUTURE cannot be hacked through cyber-criminal-led brute-force attacks.

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Our SMART DISHWASHER allows the SMART HOME to save on electricity and water (large amounts of valuable resources, energy & water are needed to produce, transport and recycle ordinary dishwashers). Fully automated, the SMART DISHWASHER alerts the family members that it is full to capacity (as on this picture) and after longish debate and negotiation, rinse & dry cycles commence. A pleasant view of the inner court is offered through the kitchen window.

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Impressed? Intrigued? You too can live in the SMART HOME of the FUTURE ! Learn more about the SMART ENTERTAINMENT CENTER here: www.clemenssuter.com/books.

 

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Shenanigans at an international business training. I need a stronger coffee.


Due to illness a colleague couldn’t attend a business training and passed the invite to me. I hurriedly packed my bag, and drove to the hotel where the event (“competitive research”) was to take place. A menacing venue, a skyscraper with (no doubt) all amenities and an undersized pool in the cellar. I stormed into the building. Many participants were already onsite, almost exclusively men in black business suits with vests. Very friendly men, who ignored my jeans, shirt and the absent tie, instead involving me in their conversations. Yes, they were also attending the M.E. event, yes it was going to be an exciting day. I lined up in the long queue to get my training material, all the while feeling more and more out of place. Finally, the friendly ladies at the reception illuminated me; this queue was for the M.E. event “IT for Banking”. I was booked for the M.E. event in the next building, reachable by the connecting bridge. I sighed with relief and waved farewell to my new friends. I hurried over the bridge and found the correct meeting room, where a dozen participants and the single presenter (all dressed in a similar fashion as I) were just getting ready to start. One participant (a representative from pharma) was still missing, explained the presenter, but he had been in contact with him, and suggested to kick off anyway. We did a round of introductions and expectation setting, the usual stuff. The presenter started off on a lengthy and very dry presentation, which didn’t bode well for the day. I longed for a coffee (which I had missed due to the hullabaloo). Twenty minutes in, and a man threw open the door. He stared at us, and we stared back. Sweaty and red-faced, he clutched his briefcase to his chest and made for the single free chair. He sat down, got out a notepad and picked up one of the pens on the table. Curious behavior, as there was a pen visible in the pocket of the vest that he wore beneath his black suit. I, and some of the other participants looked at the presenter with question marks in our eyes. But the presenter, undeterred, just kept on rambling on. In fact, he increased volume and speed. The new participant started to fidget about. He looked at the presenter, then at us. He played with his necktie. He picked up a brochure from the table and flipped through it, his face getting redder and redder. The tension in the room rose to an unbearable, mortifying level, the presenter talking faster and faster, the banker realizing from the narrative that this was the wrong meeting altogether, that this was not “IT for Banking”. After several excruciating minutes, I bent forward and whispered: “The IT meeting is in the other building.” The man jumped up, mumbled an apology, and ran from the room, the door banging shut behind him. Ten minutes on, the participant next to me said: “He forgot his briefcase.” The presenter ignored the statement and moved to the next chapter.

Read more of my work here: www.clemenssuter.com/books

A typical hotel lobby where your next international business training may take place

Don’t read this if you like avocados

On the photo: an avocado, and here comes the reason why I will never eat avocados again. Don’t read on if you want to continue enjoying avocados. Love avocados? Then stop here.

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Two weeks ago I was at a party, or more accurately, a “social event” to celebrate something or the other, and in the line at the buffet I started chatting with the girl in front of me. Or woman? She seemed to be one of the younger guests, and with a slightly unkempt hairdo and poor complexion, she could have been post- or delayed puberty – or simply ageless. I soon found out she was one of the organizers of the event. She also stated she had prepared some of the dishes. Without too much enthusiasm; apparently cooking was notably less enjoyable than climbing the Mount Everest.

“Oh look,” I said, “Avocado dip! Delicious! I’ve heard avocado is extremely healthy. Full of useful nutrients, nutrients, nutrients. Vitamins D and K, ethereal oils, unsaturated fats and you can even eat the nut.” The kind of bullshit you chat about at buffets. I smeared a copious amount of avocado on a cracker and inserted it into my mouth. With my mouth full I managed to say “I even heard you can use avocado as a facial mask; extremely healthy for your skin.”
The girl looked at me blankly and said: “Yes I know. Where do you think this guacamole was last night?”

Read more of my work here.

Eat Yourself Healthy – All about New Trends in Nutrition

Everyone has to eat. No other industry has the potential to so directly impact the well-being of the global population than the food industry. Innovative technologies are already affecting us all: from the rise of wearable fitness devices and DNA-based nutritional profiling, to nutraceuticals and the use of nanotechnology to increase nutrient concentrations in food. Good health is good for us as individuals, and our nutrition also affects business.

The challenge

How does food affect our health? First of all, all over the globe, food is stigmatized as not being that good for us at all: obesity is a global epidemic. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults were overweight, and this situation is worsening. Currently, obesity is the fifth leading risk for global deaths: 44% of diabetes burden, 23% of the heart disease burden and 7% to 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to obesity. At the same time, we sense that food and nutrition have profound positive effects on our health: just think of the “promotion” of fresh vegetables by our parents at family meals; or special low-fat or low-carb foods available in any supermarket.

Obesity has a dramatic effect on healthcare costs (e.g. 200B$ per year in the USA), and governments are taking this issue very seriously. Individuals are following suit: people are taking charge of their health experience. They expect not only medical care, but any kind of health-related product to be tailored to their specific needs, so that they can live full and healthy lives.

Changing attitudes in nutrition

People are becoming more conscious of what they eat. The number of vegans in Britain rose by 360% in 10 years to half a million individuals – the perceived health benefits driving the trend. Tofu schnitzel, tofu bratwurst, tofu kebab: with 10% of its population going meatless, Germany has the highest rate of vegetarianism compared to its European neighbors. In addition, consumers are reaching out for biofoods, to ensure that fewer chemicals and pesticides land on their plates – and in their stomachs. The European organic market grew by 7.6% to more than 26 billion euros in 2014. U.S. organic sales reached $43.3 billion in 2015 – outstripping the overall food market’s growth rate of a miserly 3% – by growing a whopping 11%. Healthy food is no longer a fad, it is a business.

Far reaching effects

The effects of obesity have been investigated extensively, and the direct causal relationship to e.g. diabetes type II or the increased risk of stroke through heightened blood pressure are well described. However, in many other instances, the effects of food on health are enigmatic. The immune system may well be at the core, as this highly complex, yet very effective apparatus has the capability to protect our body from many attacks. The immune system can detect and destroy abnormal cells and thus prevent many cancers. There is also a direct link between neurological disease and the immune system. Overall, the immune system is influenced by many different nutrition factors – to name but a few: zinc, selenium, vitamins A, C, E and B6 and folic acid; and thus by our diet: e.g. processed food has been described as threatening to our immune system.

The Microbiome

Most interestingly, the gut is the primary site of interaction between the immune system and microorganisms. Just imagine: humans carry ten-fold more bacterial cells than human ones. The microbes that live in our gut (tens of thousands of different species) can easily fill a half-gallon jug. Together they make up the human micobiome, with a tremendous potential to impact our physiology, in health and in disease. These microbes contribute to metabolic functions, protect us against pathogens, educate our immune system, and affect directly or indirectly most of our physiologic functions. The microbiome has therefore been implicated in diseases such as asthma, autism, multiple sclerosis, depression and anxiety, ulcers, and (suprise, surprise) obesity. Needless to say, the microbiome flourishes or suffers by our diet, and thus our food intake has, through the health of our microbiome, an additional effect on our health.

Nutrigenomics and more

What if we could improve our health by eating some foods and avoiding others, based on who we are as individuals, all the way down to our DNA? In comes genomics; or better: nutrigenomics. Adapting dietary advice for particular subsets of people is still very much a work in progress. Classic example: people with phenylketonuria lack an enzyme that breaks down phenylalanine. By limiting phenylalanine in the diet, those with the mutation can avoid intellectual disability and other problems. For that reason, phenylketonuria is screened for at birth. Lactose and gluten intolerance are also genetically hard-coded, although in the latter case the underlying mechanisms are harder to interpret. As the cost of sequencing a human genome continues to drop, it is highly likely that in the nearby future all of us will have our fully annotated genome sequence in the cloud, accessible through a smartphone app. Why not sequence our microbiome on a daily basis – as we flush the toilet? Combine the information from the two in that same app, and receive real-time notifications on what you should eat that day; always up-to-date with the latest insights?

How companies react

Crystal ball aside: many consumer goods companies are investing in the area of nutraceuticals, example focusing e.g. on Alzheimer’s. Again, and perhaps not surprisingly, gastrointestinal health is one of their focus areas too. Brewers are not only turning to genome sequencing to identify how to create certain flavors through knowledge of the yeast genome. A London brewery has launched a service to create a beer personalized to your DNA-based taste preferences. A range of new applications is envisioned in the area of nanoparticles in nutrition: e.g. to improve the bioavailability of bioactive food components. Taken together, as technological progress continues to take quantum leaps and as more scientific facts become available about the interplay between nutrition and health, consumer interest in food quality and beneficial foods will continue to increase.

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The Fat Years Are Over – Time to Start Thinking About Healthy Nutrition?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This article is adapted from the original blogpost on LinkedIn; the latter contains all the references).

Also look at my novels : www.clemenssuter.com/books

Sun-yin-yang-tattoo. To be or not to b…eherm: tattoo! Free advice from your beauty expert.


Beautifying yourself is crucial, it is rewarding to stay in tip top shape and your fellow humans will respect, appreciate and like you more. In that regard it may be very rewarding to be able to say: Finally the Sun Yin Yang tattoo is ready!

Yin and Yang and the sun and a tatoo

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Admittedly NOT on my body, thank you! After long consideration I decided against ANY skin mutilation. After all, this may be hype now, but in ten years that hype may well be over… but any tattoo would still be there! So instead of investing money in this rather special art form, I decided to invest into THIS. In any case, If you’re thinking about tattooling, start small. Give yourself a chance to learn the process, how your skin takes ink, and how your body heals. Don’t do it cheap: a suspiciously cheap tattoo parlour, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You’re altering your body for life. If that’s not worth a decent investment, I don’t know what is.

No matter how madly in love you are now, putting your hubby’s or one-night stand’s name on your body is risky – if not stupid. Be certain that you stand behind your choice for the rest of your (or your partner’s) life. As a tattooist of mine once said, “You want it removed? Bring an axe bro.” Changing Mary to Harry is simple enough (if you adjust in other dimensions as well), but changing Mary to Zebedee, or Kevin Spacey to George “Nespresso” Clooney is near impossible. If you’ve got a tattoo, people will talk about it. They’ll judge you, they will put you in a mental drawer, and they will slam it shut and lock it and throw away the key. So you have to decide about the location: a hidden spot (chest, your back, buttock, or certain organs) or out in the open (cheeks, nose, forehead, hands, neck, ears, calves if you are a short-/skirt-man or certain organs, if you’re that kind of guy).

In any case. Stay in shape, stay clean, dress well – and leave your body as it is – that’s my motto.

My books on Kindle.

Photos from Milan, Italy – capital of the Lombardy. A very wintry visit.

It was ice-cold and foggy in Milan, Lombardy. Few tourists about, and like us, they all huddled in winter coats and gloves and shawls. Winter was saying farewell with a vengeance and we had to spent a lot of time in espresso bars and restaurants to warm up – which turned out to be very pleasant actually !

Sample from Two Journeys.

“There are journeys that you choose to make and others that you embark on because you have to. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
The company that I worked for always made us fly out to customers on Saturdays. The airplane tickets were cheaper if there was a Sunday between flight out and flight back.
My wife hated that.
“We lose the weekends, and nobody is paying you those back.”
Naturally, she was right.
Nevertheless, on Saturday, April 24, I took a taxi to the airport from our house in Lichterfelde, Berlin. I was supposed to fly to Frankfurt first and    from there on to Tokyo.
My company sold software to large pharmaceutical corporations all over the world. The Japanese liked our products, and because of that, I traveled to Tokyo or Osaka at least once every quarter. This time, I was supposed to meet my colleagues Chris and Frank in Tokyo on Monday morning. Together we would then drive to the first customer of the week to do our sales pitch in front of sleeping Japanese scientists.
It was an uneventful business class flight. I knew the faces of some of the Lufthansa flight attendants, but […]”

A visit to the ossuary of the church San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, Italy

It is the attempt that counts. A piece of art, on the verge of the macabre.  San Bernardino alle Ossa (Saint Bernhard of the Bones) is a church in Milan, not to far from the Cathedral of Milano, by itself an inconspicuous building. This church is best known for its ossuary (a skull and bones collection) in  a small side chapel.

In 1200s, the local cemetery ran out of space, I am not sure why, but one guess could be that famine struck northern Italy. A room was built next to the church to hold bones to tackle that problem. After all, you cant simply throw corpses in the river or burn them, can you? The result is a haunting, octagonal room, with hundreds of skulls stacked to the ceiling. As the church suffered from some catastrophes, and needed to be rebuild a couple of times, this work of art is in actuality much younger.

What struck me during my visit was the perfect symmetry with which the bones and skulls are stacked. The creators invested a lot of time to get it right and to make it esthetically halfway acceptable (if you go for that kind of thing). What I also wondered was how they separated the flesh from the bones. Were these people first buried, and the skeletons dug-up later? A human body may take about 1-2 years to be free of flesh, depending on its location, e.g. a body in a field will decompose much faster than a buried human (see my novel Two Journeys for more grisly details).

The skulls were all small, much smaller than the ones I saw in anatomy class. I suspect that most belonged to children, as only few seemed to be adult-size. An alternative explanation would be that these people were very small – perhaps it was indeed a famine? One or two skulls had impressive deformities; elongations at the back.

Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge.

Skull and Bones

San Bernardino alle Ossa – Stacked Skulls in the Ossuary

A scary sight: these stacked skulls and bones. Isn’t that Mario on the left?

 

Stack ’em ! Quite artistically done, yet still macabre. You’ve seen one ossuary, you’ve seen them all.

Celeterra also available at Barnes + Noble and many other stores

The novel Celeterra is available as paperback and also in many e-book formats, for instance at Barnes and Noble. If you would like to read this exciting novel, simply go to the bookstore on your device, or visit your favorite bookstore, like for instance at Barnes and Noble.

What is this book about? It has many different aspects. On one side it is a crime story; there are some mystery aspects to it. It has to do with religion, and it is set both on Earth, and in heaven. It is definitely a dystopian story, about people who are power-hungry and want to misuse religion for their purposes. Most of my books deal with that motive, in some form and shape: individuals that want to profit from the misfortune of other individuals.

In the end Celeterra is simply a great adventure story to read and you won’t be able to put it down.

Celeterra excerpt

Altijd bent towards Vance and whispered in his ear. “Adolf Hitler!”

Vance’s mouth fell open. “What? Adolf Hitler, the German dictator, is in Heaven? Are you sure? He was a terrible war criminal, directly responsible for the murder of millions of people!”

“I met him here! Let me tell you what happened. One afternoon, Ballew and I were walking hand in hand along a small brook. The trees were golden, soft music filled the air. Extraordinary birds hopped on the path, which was covered with small diamonds. Two men came in our direction, both casually dressed; trousers, shirts, sneakers. The man on the right was Adolf Hitler, I recognized him immediately. We stopped and talked to them. Ballew seemed to have met both of them before. Hitler was rather quiet, not speaking much at first. He made a serious and subdued impression. When he did speak, it either was in German or heavily accented English. His companion was less reserved and chatted away happily with Ballew. If I remember correctly, his name was Ed Gean or something… I cannot recall exactly. Ballew mentioned later that he had been a notorious killer in his earthly life.

“Anyway, I was challenged to follow the conversation, I just stood there and stared at Hitler. He seemed to be slightly embarrassed by this. During a break in the conversation, he turned to me, stiffly, as if his back was rigid.

“‘Well, Altijd, how do you like it here?’

“At first, I didn’t know how to reply. Then I mumbled that I thought it was a great place. Hitler smiled. “‘You know, young man, I have been here for a long time. I have very much enjoyed every day of it.’

“To me, his statement sounded rather unconvincing. He had said it somewhat mechanically, as if he was reading it, from a piece of paper. Ballew took a hold of my arm. “‘Adolf is one of our most honorable guests. He has been here for quite a while, and if you have any questions about this place, just ask him, there is nothing that he has not seen or heard about. He knows every corner of Heaven and many of its more interesting inhabitants too.’

“Adolf Hitler smiled weakly beneath his moustache and took a hold of Ballew’s hand and kissed it. Ballew giggled with pleasure. “‘You are always so charming. Come, why don’t the two of you join us for our walk?’

“We continued along the path. We talked about this and that, and Adolf and Ed pointed out some of the sights. I still had difficulty taking part in the conversation, I was truly flabbergasted to stumble upon this singular, most brutal dictator in Heaven! However, my three companions chatted away happily. Even Hitler seemed to have thawed to some extent. Still, on several occasions, I saw him shooting quick glances at me.”

Altijd interrupted his narration. They were following a small track leading down into one of the valleys, towards some distant music. It was getting later in the day and the sun was setting. Sheep stood in the heather and munched away at sparse green grass. Vance noticed that he was getting hungry.

“What happened then?”

Altijd walked in front of him. Without turning around, he continued his story. “We picnicked together, underneath a tree. Blankets had been laid out for us. We had some champagne and toast with smoked fish. It was a pastoral scene, Arcadian – like a Tomas Cole painting. Ballew looked absolutely marvelous, she was always so very pretty when she was enjoying herself. She was sitting very upright and in the center. We three men rested leisurely on the grass. Hitler started to tell stories about his childhood in Austria, about small boy’s pranks and escapades. Despite myself, I had to admit that his narration was extremely funny. He was charming and a great storyteller. One story stands out in my mind; how he and his childhood friend had gone out to steal apples from a neighboring orchard. When the farmer discovered them, they had to run off as fast as they could. His friend was a bit overweight, and as they climbed over a fence, his trousers had torn. He got a proper spanking from his mother. At that part of the story, Hitler got up and was gesticulating passionately, like I had seen him do in some of those old documentaries. However, this time he was not rallying for war, but talking about his youth and imitating his friend’s mother! He was so funny!”

More here.

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CELETERRA paperback cover

 

The Swimmer. A sketch from the sketchbook – thoughts about creating, crayons and dishwashing

I try to write at least three pages each day – and likewise I try to make at least one drawing every day too. The picture of the swimmer (below) is one of such drawings. Creating is very fulfilling. Only through practice, practice, practice can perfection be achieved. Productiveness is a great way to stay motivated within the creative process. The relaxation moment is crucial. By getting out the pen and paper or the crayons and the sketchbook, and sitting down, switching off the mind and focusing 100% on the task at hand, thoughts dwindling by like little sparks that die out above the campfire, the author or painter gets into a flow that is quiet yet unstoppable. Yes, I know my sentences may be too long, yet the creative process is not controlled by everyday rules. You have to love what you do.

Dishwashing and Creating

Hard cut to dishwashing. “Oh, what this sudden change of topic? ” you will wonder. Many years ago, our dishwasher broke down. Buy a new one, or look at alternatives? Which alternatives are there to a dishwasher?! Doing the dishes by hand. We got rid of the dishwasher, and now I wash the dishes by hand two to three times a day. Dishwashing is an interesting occupation. It may not sound very creative at first, but through practice, you can become really good at it. The dishes have to be spotless in the end, but you also will want to be as economical as possible with detergent, hot water and spent time. Dishwashing is a creative process, but interestingly with a single outcome: clean dishes. It has a strong Buddhist experience to it. I couldn’t live without it, yet I also dislike it at times, especially in the evening. It is a bit like art.

And art is the only way to survive the apocalypse 😎

Sportsman

Crayon sketch of a swimmer

The swimmer

This is a very simple sketch, I don’t want to exaggerate its importance. I do like the dynamics of this tanned body, as it jumps into to sea and at a perfect angle. It reminds me of summer, my favorite time of year. Will I turn this into an oil painting, as I often do with sketches? Nope.

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Find more artwork here: http://www.clemenssuter.com/art.

More newspudding: Moguls, Magnates and Sexual Harassment

The  unlucky episode around Harvey Weinstein. When it started to develop, my initial reaction was something like: no surprise here, after all, the man is a movie-mogul – and isn’t harassment exactly what moguls are supposed to do? But on second thought I wondered: what is a mogul actually? And is obnoxious behavior a perk of a Mogul’s job, or, even worse, part of the essential job profile? (“Our studio is seeking a motivated, experienced individual to fill the role of Senior Movie Mogul. A proven track record in lewd behavior towards junior employees and subordinates (both sexes) is a requirement. We look forward to your meaningful application. Please provide photographic evidence.“).

Time for some research 

According to the dictionary, a mogul is also defined as a magnate, either a business magnate (a prominent person in a particular industry, kinda what William Randolph Hearst was for newspapers), or a media mogul, a “person who controls, either through personal ownership or a dominant position, any media enterprise”. I like the phrase “who controls […] through personal ownership or a dominant position”: both fuzzy and threatening, like the silhouette of a shark in the murky depths of an ocean.

The phrase Mogul smoothly associates with Kings of Exotic Countries: it has a dark, foreign resonance (how different from “Trump,” a name that sounds like a blown musical instrument commonly used in classical and jazz ensembles). Indeed, the Mughal Empire, from which the word Mogul originates, has its history in India, and was founded in 1526. It was ruled by a Muslim dynasty with Turco-Mongol Chagatai roots from Central Asia. Interestingly, the Mughal Empire did intervene in local societies during most of its existence, but balanced and pacified them through new administrative practices. The rulers of this dynasty had a highly relevant positive influence on science, trade (mostly with Europe), governmental policies, and architecture. Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, gave the world the beautiful Taj Mahal.

Further (admittedly highly superficial) investigation

This seems to indicate that like in any other dynasty, kings had varied characters and quirks; yet the word “Mogul” seems to refer mostly to the unifying character and resulting vastness of the kingdom, and less to the embarrassing behavior of the rulers.

No mention that a typical King of the Mughal Empire or, for that matter, a Movie Mogul, must embark on lecherous, randy, lewd, degraded, embarrassing, harassing, disgraceful or shameful behavior.

It simply isn’t part of the job description.

More like this here.

“Clemens Suter” | adventure novels on Kobo

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