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.

***********DEUTSCH***********DEUTSCH***********DEUTSCH***********

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.

image12

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.

More exciting news about my novel Fields Of Fire

The novel Fields of Fire ebook is now also available in Japan:
http://www.amazon.co.jp/Fields-English-Edition-Clemens-Suter-ebook/dp/B01DI4MRTG

These are just a few of the many options to get a copy of the paperback or ebook. For instance: Don’t feel like spending any money on books?
Fields of Fire for free at Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/mobile/book/306198027/Fields-of-Fire. Buy this exciting eBook in the Netherlands at Bol.com: https://m.bol.com/nl/p/fields-of-fire/9200000057424409/

Fields of Fire - a great adventure story Fields of Fire

Want to pre-read a section of Fields of Fire?

I bent over Tom and used scissors to remove as much of his trousers as possible. I asked the two men to clean the wound with disinfectant. As they started to wipe away the blood and dirt I looked at the state of the leg. Blood vessels and tissue had been ripped and shredded beyond repair, and what I saw confirmed my belief that there was no other option than amputation. All injured tissue had to be removed while simultaneously sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. Should we amputate beneath or above the knee? I couldn’t recall ever having seen amputees with a part of the lower limb missing. There are two bones in the lower limb, but only one in the upper, and I thought the procedure might be easier and more likely to succeed if done above the knee.

I didn’t mention any of this to the two men. I was playing this game with the skimpiest of knowledge and in the belief that if I didn’t act, this man would die. I pulled up Tom’s eyelid and checked his heartbeat. As far as I could tell, he was sleeping happily. Without too much difficulty, I found the vein in the crook of his elbow and hooked him up to an infusion. Rummaging through the drawers, I collected bottles of medication. I passed them to one of the men outside the door and asked him to find a medical book and check what the substances did. He hurried off.

I had found a rotary reciprocating saw, designed to cut through bones. I had used them in anatomy class—but never on a living human. We were getting closer to the decisive moment. The three of us removed our soiled gloves and cleaned our hands again.

Sooner than expected, the man returned with a book, which he handed to me. He pointed at a text about chloroprocaine, a local anesthetic that apparently also constricted blood vessels and reduced blood loss. He also handed me back two of the bottles that I had given him. My hands were trembling slightly as I pulled the liquid into a hypodermic needle. I ordered the Big Man to pull a tourniquet tightly around the patient’s thigh. I asked the other man to start tracking Tom’s pulse. Deftly, I injected the anesthetic in several spots above Tom’s knee, taking care that the area was disinfected beforehand. I threw the needle in the bin and grabbed a scalpel.

Search the store on your smartphone or reading device for FIELDS OF FIRE. Or check here for all options.

 

Originally posted 2016-03-31 14:22:24.

The Willpower Celeterra Watersoup Diet – How I Lost 15Kg in as Many Weeks

I have tried to lose weight on and off, but not very successfully. In reality, my weight kept on inching up, as the children were born and grew up. At one point I had arrived at 97 kg (~214 pounds, 15.3 stone), and at 189cm (~6’ 2”) my body-mass-index was well above the “normal” BMI range for a man of my age. Since then I have lost 15kg in as many weeks – that is 1000g per week. For those of you interested in knowing how I achieved this, here the method that I have used. I have summarized this method in 20 easy steps.

I call this the Willpower Celeterra Watersoup Diet – although it isn’t really a diet (explained below) and the enigmatic Watersoup played only a small role in this method. But I did carry out this diet while writing my second novel CELETERRA and yes… you will need willpower.

1. Decide that you really want to lose weight. Sounds simple? Think: you must really, REALLY, want to lose weight. Accept the way that you are – that’s fine (and even essential for a happy life). And accept that you ARE ALWAYS changing – and CAN ALWAYS change.

2. Fix the date when to start. How about starting right away?

3. Choose a realistic target. I chose to lose 10kg at a rate of 500g per week. It turned out that I lost more weight and at a higher rate why not.

4. Determine how best to lose weight, do some homework. The tricks below come from many diverse website sources, I didn’t re-invent the wheel here. There are many informative and motivational websites with a lot of good tips, a ten minute web-search will direct you to a dozen useful ones. Do not rely on one site, but compare methods. It pays off to inform yourself.

5. Weigh yourself each day, directly after you have gotten out of bed and gone to the toilet. Enter your weight into a graph. I used the Withings iPhone app to track my weight, but any app or piece of paper will do. Spend a few minutes each day to study that graph and to decide on your next steps. What went well? Why did your weight increase / decrease? What did you eat, how does that explain the curve? This will help you to understand the dynamics of weight loss, your body, your eating habits, your exercise, and ways to improve.

6. Reward yourself for milestones achieved. Obviously, food is not a good reward. A book? A new headset? Something that you always wanted to have?

7. What to do if you are not losing weight consistently? Obviously, your body doesn’t want to lose that precious fat. On top of that, your body will become more efficient at making the most out of the food that it gets. You will thus have to further decrease the calorie intake, or increase the burn-rate. It is mind-over-matter: is your brain winning the game – or will you let your body’s craving and compulsions win? There, that’s WILLPOWER for you!

8. Fluctuations in weight (see my curve below) are normal. However, once you have gone down one kilo or one pound, the chance that you move up to your previous weight is greatly reduced. Bye bye 90kg. Bye bye 88 kg: we will never meet again, sucker.

Weightloss with the Willpower Watersoup Celeterra Diet

(Above: Withings app visual of weight-loss between March and August. The real weight is the thin line with the dots, the fat line is a calculated trend. I made it a rule that my real weight should never go above the trend line – which I managed most of the time.)

9. You are not dieting. You are changing your eating habits. For the rest of your life. And how? read on.

10. Eat breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; and dinner like a beggar. And don’t eat anything between meals:

11. Eat big breakfasts, they can suppress hunger until 4 p.m. For example: 300ml fat-free yoghurt, 0-2 table spoons of shredded wheat, 200-300g of fruit (melon, orange, apple, banana…). Slice of bread.

12. Lunch: a big salad, no dressing, one spoon of olive oil, a dollop of fat-free yoghurt or mustard. Occasionally some noodles or a potato of some fat-free meat (I’m a vegetarian myself – which by the way does not have any effect on your weight or weight loss).

13. In between meals: coffee and tea are ok, but no drinks with sugar or milk. No snacks, no fruit. The sugar level in your blood has to go down to zero between meals. This positively impacts insulin levels and protects against diabetes.

14. Drink lots of water. Start with a big glass in the morning, continue drinking the entire day.

15. Dinner: the “watersoup-diet” kicks in: that’s irony, folks. Try Japanese miso soup, a 1 liter bowl – which is almost free of carbohydrates or fat, so the only saturating effect is the liquid.

16. Admittedly, the evenings are the most challenging, but here are a few tricks:

  • Continue drinking lots of water.
  • Eat 250g of fat- and sugar-free cottage cheese (makes you feel full) with a teaspoon of cinnamon (great to support a weight-loss program – read about it on the internet) and optionally some lemon juice (vitamins + saturating effect).
  • Keep busy; you feel more hungry sitting on the sofa. Move about, do some housekeeping.
  • Go for a walk. This will make you feel tired, so you will sleep better.
  • In emergencies, eat some salad, carrots, tomatoes or fruit.
  • Obviously, if you are actually losing weight at the rate that you decide, you can also eat more than the above. You don’t have to starve to death. Nevertheless, a few evenings a week, your food intake must be very low, otherwise there won’t be any effect, which is not motivating.

17. Exercise. Walk 10000 steps a day. I have used the Withings Pulse Ox  to track my steps and running. Go cycling, swimming, jogging, Nordic walking. Get your heart-rate up to 100 bpm for at least 30-40 minutes, three times a week. Start slow – you will automatically improve over time.

18. Some people say that you should never feel hungry during weight-loss, but if you want to see some result within a reasonable time, you will have to experience hunger. Hunger is not bad by definition: if you have hunger, you are actually burning body fat. I felt quite hungry at times during the first three weeks. But then the stomach starts to shrink! Over time you will automatically need less food (what did I say under point #1? You are always changing).

19. Next to eating less fat, you must also cut the amount of carbohydrates. Try to avoid sugar and alcohol, in whatever form. The liver converts surplus carbs, sugar and alcohol into fat very efficiently. Read the labels on the food that you buy, compare products to see how much energy they provide.

20. Build muscle. Even in rest, muscle burns calories! Muscular people can eat more without gaining weight.

Losing weight – it takes willpower and a change in lifestyle. Don’t listen too much to other people, as advice comes cheap! You will have to invest some fun time in getting a grip on your body, and the dieting information out there in the big world.

Motivators. What did I gain during and after my weight loss period, and what could YOU gain?

1. Agility. Effectively I now carry 10kg less weight: that’s ten bottles of water! As my weight decreased, my exercise capabilities increased.

2. Blood values improved: cholesterol, liver gamma-GTP, blood sugar

3. My blood pressure went down

4. Low heart rate (in rest: 50 bpm)

5. Back-pain disappeared

6. I’ve stopped snoring !!!

7. I sweat less

8. Never out of breath

9. Eating is joy, not frustration. No “nasty pangs of guilt”

10. Compliments from colleagues and friends: YEAH!!!! People admire you if you suddenly are slim.

11. Pride

12. I feel better, physically and psychologically

Needless to say, these benefits will help you to better survive the apocalypse, should the day occur!

**************************************************************************************************

Read more here about ‘going vegan’.

Get my books on Amazon Germany

Originally posted 2015-08-09 11:53:13.

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.

img00011 20100430 0808

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

Www.Clemenssuter.Com/books

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

Two Journeys at Barnes and Noble – Nook Book eBook and paperback

Many thanks for the following reader 5-star rating !
http://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-journeys-clemens-suter/1100075096?ean=2940011065743

Great thriller – review by Vasee (at Barnes and Noble) 

I started this book thinking it couldn’t possibly work. At least, not at the length it runs. But it truly does.
Though this kind of apocalyptic tale has been tackled plenty of times before, Suter makes it so personal that it’s difficult for a reader to stay at arm’s length. This is despite the main character only ever being referred to as “Alan”. It was exceptionally easy to place myself in the characters’ position. I felt keenly Alan’s waning resolve and his increasingly broadening acceptance of his situation.
I found Suter’s prose worked almost as a setting, too. This is a character with a simple goal and a stripped-bare existence. The prose is utilitarian, and it’s obviously a conscious decision of the author’s to present the story in this manner. On those occasions where utilitarianism gives way to sensation, the impact is enormous because of the intelligent use of contrast.
This is by no means an easy read. But it is difficult to stop once you’ve started.

The Two Journeys novel - vailable in all internet stores (as paperback and eBook)

The Two Journeys novel – available in all internet stores (as paperback and eBook)

Learn more about the books by Clemens P. Suter https://clemenssuter.com/books

Originally posted 2014-11-28 15:00:31.

The Most Powerful 10 Minutes Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. Vegan. All of us are earthlings.

Check out this video on YouTube. “Vegan” food for thought for the weekend. All of us are earthlings.

I am a great fan of Mr. Phoenix. I loved him in the Johnny Cash biography Walk the Line, and his performance in the romantic movie Her is truly inspirational. Inherent Vice is one of the weirdest and surprising movies of the last years, and Mr. Phoenix provides key quirkiness in his role as the detective in this who-done-it set in the seventies.

I was very interested to hear that he is vegan.

By his own admission, Mr. Phoenix has been a vegan for all his life. I am a vegetarian and at least partially vegan myself; mostly because of the dramatic impact of the meat industry on animal welfare, our environment and our health. The YouTube movie below provides some very relevant statements; core focus on the similarity between humans and animals, which I (as a trained biologist) find very inspiring.

http://youtu.be/cEBXZuPbHQs

Treat animals with the respect that they deserve

An Earthling walking the streets of Cairo

Alan, the hero of two journeys and fields of fire is a vegetarian too. I suspect that Alan mostly does this out of compassion for animals. After all, in a post-apocalyptic world there won’t be any necessity to protect the environment. With human kind gone, nature will again take over, and many species that are currently struggling to survive due to the tremendous evolutionary pressure delivered by man, will flourish again.

Compassion towards animals is what makes us truly human and going vegan is the way to go. As recent research on animal behavior shows (and research methods have dramatically progressed over the last decennia) The boundaries between being a human and a ‘mere’ animal have become very fuzzy. There is much more of the animal in humans, and much more human in animals.

 

Originally posted 2014-11-28 09:58:31.