2020: My Year of Books

Books are an important part of my being, I would even say I define myself through them. Not only have I enjoyed reading since my early youth, but I’ve also been writing books for almost two decades, on average one a year.

For the past two years, I’ve been keeping my own list (as a Google Sheet and now also on Librarything) of what books and magazines I’ve read. In 2019, I came up with 216 books, comics, and magazines, organized by category: 117 comics (mostly French) and 56 nonfiction, a few biographies, picture books, and even children’s books. I read most of them on my travels, and there were quite a few in 2019. I’ve been to Europe a total of 10 times, and on each trip I managed to read two to four nonfiction books. And yes, I really do lug the books around with me in print form, not digital. And they grace my apartment. I probably have close to 3,000 volumes spread over seven shelves in two rooms.

As a writer, books are also working materials and inspiration. Just as a filmmaker watches films, and artists themselves visit galleries and performances, so too must an author read. I myself read between two and four hours a day, and i spend the same number of hours writing every day. Under normal circumstances, I would be a coffeehouse literate, reading and writing books in the coffeehouse. This year, that was only possible from home, but I still maintain the coffeehouse vibe with proper preparation of my coffee, Viennese style.

Café & Literature (Instagram)
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How Can Men Help Women Against Cyberbullying?

As a fairly active user from social media, yes every now and then a troll or comment comes across that raises doubts about the evolution of man. As a white man, this seems rather annoying to me, but I do not shy away from fighting back. I have had to assert myself rhetorically in the past, namely when the second half of my research project for the dissertation underwent a change of personnel at the sponsoring company and suddenly politics took center stage, as well as several times during my military service. There, too, several people tried to get their way through mobbing and bullying. It’s just stupid when you’re sitting in the middle.

Case 1: Women from Culture, Research and Politics

However, this is no comparison to what I observe when women become the victims. For some time now, I have been following – after a call from the German cartoonist Ralph Ruthe, who asked on Twitter which interesting Twitter accounts of women he should follow – a few of those accounts. QuattroMILF, Natascha Strobl or U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are some of these women. The first, Jasmina Kuhnke, is a mother of four with German-African roots and a comedy writer and comedienne who speaks out with a sharp tongue against racism – which she herself experiences firsthand – against racists and Nazis. Natascha Strobl is an Austrian political scientist, author, analyst, publicist and, above all, an expert on right-wing extremism and politics who razor-sharp dissects the logic and rhetorical tricks of right-wing old-boys, politicians, thundering women and other right-wing hacks. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials AOC, on the other hand, is the Democratic Party’s youngest congresswoman with Puerto Rican roots, who worked her way up from poverty into politics by working waitress jobs and being valedictorian.

What all three women have in common is that they are very self-confident, experts in their field, eloquent and incredibly smart. I can mostly agree with their positions, arguments and statements, and if not, I find them very interesting in any case. Three very interesting women whose contributions I find very inspiring and enriching.

AlphaSophia and me

Wie man die Zukunft vorhersagt und designt

Wie können wir die Zukunft vorhersagen und uns besser auf sie vorbereiten? Das ist eine Frage, die sich viele Unternehmen stellen, die auch für die persönliche Zukunft Konsequenzen hat.

Dieser Online-Kurs lehrt eine Reihe von Werkzeugen, mit denen Kursteilnehmer Anzeichen für das, was kommen könnte, selbst entdecken können, wie man die Zukunft beeinflussen kann um heute bessere Entscheidungen treffen zu können.

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Trump’s Revenge on the TikTok Generation

The fact that the American president Trump now wants to ban the social media app TikTok so quickly is a little surprising, and then again not. His just signed executive order orders TikTok to stop its activities in the USA within 45 days. Unless the company is sold to a US company. Microsoft is apparently in negotiations with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.

The pretext for the alleged danger of TikTok is given with the data collection of the app and some alleged other security related offenses.

Another reason is much more obvious. The TikTok generation – young people – have caused the Twitter president a humiliation that came out of nowhere.

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How Lego Sets Kill Creativity

As a child, I always wished for a Lego train that could be driven electrically. The dream remained unfulfilled, but in return I got a model railway (Arnold N for the nerds among you), which I still have today and which now stands in a showcase and decorates the living room.

I had Lego like probably every child but very much so. An old Omo detergent can – at that time, detergent was still available in large cardboard cylinders – was used to store the bricks, of which, in my opinion, we had far too few. What my siblings and I had here were standard bricks, which today are more or less the same as those sold under the title Classic Lego.

Standard Lego
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Japanese Notebooks of an Italian

Who hasn’t? You rummage in a bookstore, and a work catches your eye that appeals to you and whose creator is unknown to you. Igort – short for Igor Tuver – an Italian comic artist born in Sardinia, was responsible for Japanese Notebooks: A Journey to the Empire of Signs. In it, the artist documented his years in Tokyo, where he has been drawing very popular mangas for various publishers since the 1990s.

And Igort’s style is versatile, as you can see in his Japanese notebooks. Half comic, half narrative, he guides us through his personal experience with his longer and shorter stays in Japan, and introduces us to Japanese history, stories and special features. He changes his drawing styles to match the respective narrative level.

Cover of Japanese Notebooks
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Duckenstein And His Duck Homunculus

For some time now, the French publishing house Glénat has been publishing a new series of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comic albums that stand out in their quality. After wonderfully drawn volumes like Horrifikland or Mickey and the Lost Ocean, Duckenstein (English: Disney’s Frankenstein) is now coming out.

As can be seen from the title and cover picture, it is an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story of fictional author Mary Shelduck follows Shelley’s plot very closely, with slight adaptations that make it less gloomy and lighter for a younger readership. Of course, all the well-known characters appear, such as Uncle Scrooge, Gladstone Gander, Daisy Duck, and the Donald Ducks nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Donald Duck himself Victor von Duckenstein. The plot itself is set partly in Ingolstadt and partly all over the world.

Cover Art Duckenstein
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YPS With Gimmick – A Walk Down Memory Lane

Occasionally childhood memories come to mind and make you wallow in nostalgia. For me as a primary school student in the 1970s, the most desirable weekly magazine was YPS with gimmick. This children’s magazine differed from all the others at the time in that each time a more worthless than valuable toy – the gimmick – was included.

This had to be assembled first, if it was anything made of plastic. Sometimes it was a powder or simply a plastic sheet, which were then imaginatively advertised as “primeval crabs” or “adventure tents”. Often they were scientific gimmicks, like a hygrometer – a moisture meter, which failed with me because I couldn’t find a hair long enough, and which would contract or expand with changes in humidity and would control it that way – or because other parts were missing, like the zeppelin, to which I had no helium. Or simply that the parents didn’t play along, like with the square eggs.

While the gimmicks were usually quickly broken again, the comics still remained in the booklet. And they were of different quality. There were some original comics that only appeared in the Yps, like Yinnie+Yan, a TV crew that had their wild adventures. Or Yps, which was also the name of a striped kangaroo.

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Sangre – A Girl Sees Red

A young girl with a rare gift makes one cut after the other to a priest to bleed him as painfully as possible. This is the introduction to a story by the bustling French scenarist Christophe Arleston and skilfully staged by Adrien Floch.

What begins with amazing brutality at the hands of the young Sangre has a history that goes back years. Her parents, who were wine merchants, were massacred by the Dark Skimmers, along with their caravan, in the fantastic world. The Skimmers use flying dragon creatures to attack their victims, slaughter them with magic and traditional weapons, and steal their belongings.

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The Chocolate Mom In Her Second Career

I could not live in Switzerland, and that has nothing to do with the wonderful landscape or the nice people. The reason lies in something much more banal: chocolate. The country has brought the art of chocolate to a level that would make it difficult for me to exercise discipline. I would simply eat far too much of the sweet stuff inside me, and I would be happy, but too soon to die.

Chocolate Mousse

While I – in vain – try to keep my distance from chocolate, the Frenchwoman Catherine Bréard has done exactly the opposite. She threw herself into the chocolate business. As a young wife and mother, she prepared chocolate mousse for her son Alix whenever she could, with a passion she had inherited from her own mum and grandma. He called her his ‘chocolate mama’. But like so often life came in between and her job at the employment office left her no time for frivolities like chocolate mousse. Until her son, now grown up and moved to Japan for professional reasons, asked his mama the following: “Promise me that one day you will live out your passion.”

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Can One Go Through Life Without Ever Hurting The Feelings Of Others?

The film classic Ronin from 1998 had this great moment when Robert de Niro answered the question “Ever killed anyone?” without missing a beat with “I hurt somebody’s feelings once.”

Even though we are not killers – at least most of us are – I wondered if we can go through life without ever hurting the feelings of others? And what are feelings anyway?

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