Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday, December 05, 2016

Dean's cookies policy

Can you see the funny side of Dean's cookies policy note?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Bethink yourselves

Image "borrowed" from A. Christoyannopoulos' Conversation article

In a recent article at The Conversation, Alexandre Christoyannopoulos suggests four things you can do to make a difference, if you think the world is in a mess:

1. Be a reflective "producer" (this is about one's work choices)
2. Be an ethical consumer
3. Be an active citizen
4. Be a principled person

In conclusion, the author refers to Tolstoy, who wanted us to “bethink ourselves”. It turns out that Tolstoy's essay with the title Bethink Yourselves was written against the background of the Russo-Japanese War and contains this noteworthy statement (not least in the context of Remembrance):
Strange as this may seem, the surest and most certain deliverance for men from all their self-inflicted calamities, even the most dreadful of them – war – is attainable not by any external general measures but by that simple appeal to the consciousness of each individual man which was presented by Jesus nineteen hundred years ago: that every man should bethink himself and ask himself who he is, why he lives, and what he should and should not do.
The word "bethink" is interesting from a linguistic perspective. The Oxford English Dictionary confirms the "suspicion" that it is etymologically related to the German word "bedenken". It seems a shame that it is "obsolete". Perhaps it will make a comeback.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Weekend reading

Paul Mason in the Guardian, also Guardian Weekly 11 November:
The battle over Uber and driverless cars is really a debate about the future of humanity

  • "Uber drivers were right to claim employment rights. But in a world where driverless cars may soon make them redundant, we face long-term dilemmas about the systems we choose". 
  • If we accept – as Oxford researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne stated in 2013 – that 47% of jobs are susceptible to automation, the most obvious problem is: how are people going to live?
  • "In a way, Uber has done us a favour by making concrete the kind of rightwing libertarian dystopia that would come about if we allowed Silicon Valley to design the future. Instead, we should begin by recognising that, as machines plus artificial intelligence begin to replace human beings, the entire social, political and moral dilemma for humanity becomes a question of systems".

Guardian Weekly 11 November reader letter under the heading Time to get rid of elections, with reference to George Monbiot's article under the heading Lies, fearmongering and fables: that’s our democracy and the Sortition Foundation.

Guardian 25 October: 'Nobody calls it Czechia': Czech Republic's new name fails to catch on


Guardian Weekly 4 November: The prime minister of pretence – Theresa May told lies to win her job and now she is doing the same to make people believe she is acting in their interest.


Owen Jones, Guardian Weekly 4 November: "We all possess a natural empathy for other human beings. But once we Lose that, it is easy for injustice to flourish. The solution? Tell humanising stories".


Guardian Weekly 21 October: Liquid assets: how the business of bottled water went mad.  This article was heavily criticised in a reader letter under the heading The great water folly in GW 11 November for "totally ignoring the many real issues surrounding the bottled water industry".

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Football United

Mural at the St Augustine Road end of Rally Park, Leicester

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Another memorable night at the Phoenix in Leicester. Same procedure in 2018, probably. (Doing it every year would probably be overkill).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Albert-Ueberle-Straße, Heidelberg

Die Albert-Ueberle-Straße in Heidelberg ist unter Heidelbergern recht bekannt.

Dass sie nach dem letzten Neuenheimer Bürgermeister benannt ist, dürfte weniger bekannt sein. Laut Angaben des Heidelberger Geschichtsvereins wurde Albert Ueberle 1828 in Neuenheim geboren und war "Holzhändler und Pächter der Neckarfähre zwischen Neuenheim und Heidelberg". 1881 wurde er  Bürgermeister von Neuenheim und wurde 1888 wiedergewählt, bis Neuenheim 1891 nach Heidelberg eingemeindet wurde.

An einem Haus in der Albert-Ueberle-Straße befindet sich der einprägsame Spruch:

Ein Autor namens Leo Gold, über den im Internet wenig zu finden ist, außer dass er an den Universitäten in Tübingen, Freiburg im Breisgau und Frankfurt am Main Germanistik studiert hat und in der Nähe von Wiesbaden lebt, hat den Spruch in sein Buch mit dem Titel Streichle mich mit deinen Worten aufgenommen. Zitat:
An Tagen, an denen es heftiger zuging, hoffte Max naturgemäß, sich bald in den Feierabend verabschieden zu können. War es soweit, schwang er sich auf sein Fahrrad, fuhr über die Alte Brücke, von dort die Ziegelhäuser Landstraße entlang, die in die Neuenheimer- überging, bis er scharf rechts in die Albert-Ueberle-Straße einbog und bis zu dem Haus fuhr, auf dessen Fassade ein lustiger Segensspruch gemalt war: „Behüt’ das Haus vor Wetter und Wind und Menschen, die langweilig sind“. Max hatte in dessen Nachbarhaus eine Souterrainwohnung gemietet. Zwei Zimmer, Küche, Bad und eine schöne Terrasse, von der er auf den Neckar und zur Heidelberger Altstadt schauen konnte. Sein Fahrrad lehnte er an die Außenwand seines Schlafzimmers. Bei gutem Wetter aß er eine Kleinigkeit auf der Terrasse.

Autumn at Oxford House

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Save this house from... boring people

An updated version of this blog post can now be found on the HE Translations blog at

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Quality of Leicester

Publication of the third (apparently entirely new) edition of the popular and impressive The Quality of Leicester book should be more or less imminent, as indicated by author Michael Taylor during a talk he gave last November (see "poster" below).
In the meantime, 'preview' photos were installed on the hoardings around the construction site at the recently demolished "Faulty Towers" building (former HQ of Leicester City Council) – see screenshot from Google Street View below. The temptation to take "photos of the photos" was too great to resist, resulting in an online photo album.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Sogenannte "Autoposer" scheinen in Deutschland zu einem Problem zu werden. Siehe Spiegel-Berichte hier und hier.

Foto: Spiegel

Foto: Spiegel

Interessanterweise steht "Poser" (und "Poserin") bereits im Duden! "Autoposer" wird wahrscheinlich demnächst aufgenommen.

Als Reaktion auf Autoposer empfiehlt sich demonstratives Wegschauen.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Reading list: The Goblin Reservation

The Goblin Reservation, described as a forgotten classic and "more light-hearted than most of Simak’s other novels" comes with a 'highest recommendation' as "a near-perfect blend of action, humor, and conscience". It was also recommended by a Russian translator colleague.

Cover of the original Berkley paperback edition
of 1968, courtesy of Polite Dissent

Illustration by Soviet artist Eugenia Sterligova,
from Wikipedia

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Laundry balls

Laundry balls were all the rage a few years ago. The corresponding marketing claims always seemed somewhat pseudoscientific. Cf. Wikipedia. It seems quite a few 'eco stores' were taken in by the apparent greenwash propaganda – or worse, were perhaps 'complicit' in misleading well-meaning 'green consumers'. Could it all have been a load of balls?

Update June 2017:
Further "research" and the German page here would suggest that the mechanical effect of certain laundry balls can in fact be beneficial. In one of the tests, better results were achieved with 50% of the normal washing power quantity than with 100% washing powder and no balls!
Our laundry balls have since been "recommissioned".

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blast from the past: HP 15C

I still have my HP 15C calculator from my uni days (described here as "THE killer scientific calculator for engineers and chemists back in the '80s"), including the German Benutzerhandbuch. Looks like they are selling for USD 100 or more (see eBay or Amazon).

Website of the day: World Ocean Observatory

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Has Chris Huhne been brainwashed?

Chris Huhne's 'performance' at the memorable Shell/Daily Telegraph Energy Scenarios event in London back in 2010 was impressive. He indicated strong commitment to energy efficiency, renewables in general and in particular a European supergrid for renewables, major study on which was translated by the HE Translations team and published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Notably, Chris Huhne told the audience – in direct response to a question I put to him on this subject – that he was "completely sold on interconnection".

Equally impressive  was Chris Huhne's passionate broadside against anti-wind pontificators at the Renewable UK 2011 conference in Manchester, during which he referred to an "unholy alliance of short-termists, armchair engineers, climate sceptics and vested interests ... selling the UK economy short by their refusals to acknowledge the benefits that renewables will bring".

Sadly, his performance in an interview about the Hinkley C madness on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning was lamentable. In complete contrast to his previous enthusiasm for renewables, he pontificated about the variability or renewables in a manner one is used to from unenlightened renewables sceptics and about the alleged need for new baseload (which is an outdated concept), verging on enthusiastic support for the Hinkley C white elephant. A classic Victor Meldrew moment! Tom Burke, on the other hand, was in his usual excellent form on the same programme.

Chris Huhne at the Delabole windfarm in Truro, England, c.2011.
Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Virtual Reality

Memorable comment from John Humphrys at the end of a piece about Virtual Reality on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning:

We've had VR on the wireless for ages, of course – you just shut your eyes...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wir sind nur Gast auf Erden

The other day The Flowing River sculpture at Harlow Lock by Anthony Lysycia (see photo below) was brought to my attention by a fellow narrowboater. It reminded me of the wording on my father's gravestone – see photo below. When we chose the wording for the gravestone, I knew that "Wir sind nur Gast auf Erden" is a hymn, but I didn't know much about its history/origin – it just seemed very appropriate, and it still does. I assumed that the hymn is 'quite old', and that there may be an English version, but it turns out that it was only written in 1935. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the theme is said to be critical of the Nazis, as were other works by the author, Georg Thurmair – see here, for example.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Feel the Power

Following the Brexit debacle and further depressing news and developments in  the UK and elsewhere on a daily basis, there is a sense of disillusionment amongst some campaigners, and one could be tempted to use the recent Feel the Power Savage Chickens cartoon for 'guidance'.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Tuesday, July 05, 2016


During the EU referendum propaganda battle, Michael Gove (in)famously declared: "the people of this country have had enough of experts". One can't help wondering how many Leave voters wish they had realised that "being anti-expert is the way back to the cave", as Prof Brian Cox put it the other day. See below for further reading.

Michael Gove before a Sky News interview with Faisal Islam

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Royal Enfield

If one was going to resurrect one's enthusiasm for motorbiking (abandoned some time in the last millennium), Royal Enfield would be an option.

On that note, in February 2015 the Leicester Mercury reported: Royal Enfield motorcycle firm to create design centre in Leicestershire

Update January 2018: Unfortunately the above article seems to have disappeared from the Mercury archive. A truncated version is available here.

A further article appeared in the Leicester Mercury in December 2017 under the heading: Leicestershire at heart of global expansion plans for Indian motorbike giant Royal Enfield

Friday, July 01, 2016

Energy Institute

Attended Energy Institute events this week in my capacity as Treasurer for the East Midlands branch:
  • AGM
  • 2016 Melchett Award Lecture by Sir David King
  • Branch Forum
The home of the Energy Institute was recently refurbished to an impressive standard – see photos below. Note the plaque commemorating the eminent Alfred Waterhouse, architect for the Natural History Museum and described as "probably the most successful of all Victorian architects" (financially speaking).

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Keep calm and carry on!

Recent expressions of Brexit despair prompted a British (English) translator colleague (who, incidentally, has been married to a German lady for decades) to come up with this memorable recommendation:

"Keep calm and carry on!"  
(or, as one of our local Indian restaurants has it, keep calm and curry on).  

Of course, everyone knows that the "Keep calm" phrase originated in (don't mention) the war, but  did you know that, quoting Wikipedia, "the poster was hardly ever publicly displayed and was little known until a copy was rediscovered in 2000 at Barter Books, a bookshop in Alnwick".

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wuthering Heights at Bradgate Park

Very enjoyable performance of Wuthering Heights at Bradgate Park this evening, preceded by sumptuous picnic. The increasingly heavy rain during the second half only added to the atmosphere.

Looking forward to Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles in August, also with Chapterhouse Theatre Company.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My kingdom for a... mask

Superb publicity stunt by Healthy Air Leicester and Leicestershire and Leicester Friends of the Earth, highlighting air quality issues in the City. The story made front page news and also triggered an editorial in the Leicester Mercury – see below.

Reminiscent of Leicester FoE's good old 'direct action' days.

If the print in the scans below is too small, you can read the online version here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Jo Cox: an attack on humanity, idealism and democracy

Difficult to do 'business as usual' today, without reflecting on what happened here in the UK yesterday. Not easy to find one's own words to describe it. Today's Guardian editorial seems to sum up the situation pretty well. The subheading says: "The MP murdered on the street embodied decency and a commitment to all that humanity has in common. What a contrast with so much that is rotten in politics".

Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in. According to the BBC, they were led by Jo Cox' husband, Brendan, who describes himself in his Twitter profile as a "campaigner, activist, boat dweller and dad", and said: "Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it everyday of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people".

As a translator colleague said, straight after the news broke yesterday:
"Let’s hope some good comes of it".  

At 5:50 this morning, Dirk Kurbjuweit, deputy chief editor of the German magazine Der Spiegel, sent this pertinent comment in his Morning Briefing, under the heading "unendlich traurig" (infinitely sad):
Liebe Leserin, lieber Leser,

es ist unendlich traurig, das Jo Cox sterben musste. Ein Mann ermordete die Labour-Abgeordnete gestern auf offener Straße in Birstall. Bei Attentaten auf Politiker in Demokratien gibt es danach die Hoffnung, dass der Täter ein Irrer sein möge. Wäre der Täter bei halbwegs normalem Verstand und hätte Jo Cox ermordet, weil sie für den Verbleib ihres Landes in der EU war, hätte Großbritannien eine Staatskrise. Aus der harschen Auseinandersetzung um den Brexit hätte jemand die Schlussfolgerung gezogen, dass ein Mord seine Position stärkt. Dies würde die politische Kultur des Landes in Frage stellen und den an sich ja notwendigen Streit um den Brexit diffamieren. Kommt die Tat aus einer allgemeinen Verwirrung, wie bei Lafontaine oder Schäuble, fällt das weg. Ein Trost wäre das nicht, aber eine Erleichterung.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Did Germany react in a knee-jerk way to Chernobyl and Fukushima? Errm, no.

Prompted (once again) by the question: "Is there really a role for nuclear in the low-carbon energy transition?" on Rod Janssen's blog (to which the short answer is a resounding NO!), it is worth reflecting on the strong and deep-rooted nuclear resistance in Germany, and the closely related emergence of the Energiewende. Contrary to the unenlightened superficial and indeed quite ludicrous view that one hears and reads occasionally to the effect that it was a knee-jerk reaction to Chernobyl and/or Fukushima, not surprisingly the story is much more complex.

Stand by for further elaboration in due course.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Leave Hinkley to the hedgehogs

Excellent illustration in the Guardian/Observer on the ongoing Hinkley C debacle. Conclusion:

We can do better – much better – than Hinkley.

When will Britain wake up and put a stop to this crazy project once and for all? 

 Decision expected imminently. Illustration: David Simonds

Two fingers to the world: is that your message, Brexiteers?

Excellent opinion piece by Chris Patten in the Guardian.
The European Union is an extraordinary creation in which countries that believe in pluralism, democracy, welfare economics and the rule of law gain extra leverage in the pursuit of their national interests by sharing sovereignty. So what is Brexit’s message to the world: two fingers? Or maybe as Ferdinand Mount, the former head of Thatcher’s policy unit, says, we’ll catch the Brexiteers belting out that Millwall chant, “No one likes us, we don’t care.” Like the football team, they’ll sing it all the way to the third division.
See also plea for a little more positivity here.

Monday, June 06, 2016

King Power

When the name of the home of Leicester City Football Club was changed from Walkers Stadium to King Power Stadium some years ago, it took some time to sink in, especially in view of the fact that the new owners weren't exactly local (unlike Walkers).

Still, after the amazing events surrounding King Richard III, and now that LCFC are football kings of England, it certainly all makes sense!

See photo collection below. Note that even Leicester Cathedral was flying the LCFC flag! Wouldn't have happened in the old days, would it? Note also the special Walkers Crisp package at the end.

Brocks Hill Garden Party

Very enjoyable Garden Party yesterday afternoon at the superb Brocks Hill Centre, run by Oadby & Wigston Council.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Muhammad Ali RIP

BBC Breaking News Alert just in under the heading "Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies aged 74". See BBC report here.

I have relatively vivid memories of my father watching boxing matches in the middle of the night, probably not long after we had our first TV, i.e. from circa 1964 onwards.

Muhammad Ali NYWTS

Update 5 June
The Guardian reports that Barack Obama led tributes to the incandescent athlete, activist, humanitarian, poet and showman with a statement that caught the mood of many. It said: 
“Muhammad Ali was the Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d ‘handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail’. But what made the Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.”

Pavarotti in Market Harborough

Superb entertainment by Fingers 'n' Fumbs at Ian Joule's 80th birthday party at Joules Yard!

Friday, June 03, 2016

EU Leicester Rally - Leading NOT Leaving

Uplifting pro-EU rally/meeting under the motto "Leading NOT Leaving" in Leicester yesterday, organised by the European Movement (of which Charles Kennedy was president from 2004 until his death exactly one year ago), with:
  • Sir Vince Cable - Former Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems and former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Liz Kendall - Labour MP for Leicester West
  • Caroline Lucas - Green Party MP and former Green Party Leader
  • Anuja Prashar - Executive (Treasurer) European Movement UK and Lib Dem former parliamentary candidate
The speakers were in good form and admirably managed to leave party-politically differences behind, (almost) entirely. The speakers were in agreement about the need for EU reform. Caroline Lucas quite rightly pointed out that the same applies to Westminster [applause]. On that note, see previous reflections on PR here. Advance preparation for the discussion session after the motivational speeches enabled me to get the following points across:
  • Andrew Rawnsley's description of Boris Johnson as an "incorrigible attention-seeker", and  Guardian columnist Matthew d'Ancona's reference to the situation as an "Eton mess", including his memorable statement: A battle between two Etonians is a poor way to decide what kind of country we want Britain to be.
  • 'Sound bite statement' from my blog entry of 3 March: After the madness of WWI and WWII, it would be fundamentally crazy to undermine the foundations of the 'unity' achieved since then, not to mention environmental aspects.
  • Paraphrasing from a recent 30-minute interview* with Joschka Fischer, who is described in Wikipedia as a leading figure in the West German Greens since the 1970s and was German Foreign Secretary (Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs) from 1998 to 2005 (cf. reflections on PR referred to above) and President of the Council of the European Union for six months in 1999 (see here for speech), in which he reflected on his experience in Council meetings: God, how tedious and boring these meetings often were, at times verging on the absurd... But then I thought: hang on a minute, there were times during my father's and grandfather's era, when this kind of debate was carried out on battlegrounds. Wouldn't you rather put up with tedium?
    *Political correspondent Florian Eders described the interview (in German) in yesterday's edition of his Politico Morgen Europa briefing – see here.

Joschka Fischer's reflections attracted a round of applause and were picked up by the event chair in his closing remarks, in which he referred to his own father and grandfather and the respective wars.

A Leicester Mercury report on the event can be found here.