Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Climategate – go figure!

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

So, now it’s official: the “fact” that CO2 emissions cause global warming can not be proven. E-mails leaked by a whistleblower from the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University (Norfolk, UK) tell an ugly story of the state of climate research. This research has been the reason for many laws (or ridiculous ideas for new legislation) and has lead to changes to our way of living (classical lightbulbs anyone?). Now researchers have to admit that they know – nothing!

I have always been a sceptic, because of the speed and willingness of governments to jump on this topic. It must have been too tempting to finally get control over the citizens, to further regulate and control our lives, and ultimately to extract more tax money from us.

Please read my previous post on The CO2 Scam (from 2007) and my review of Michael Crichton’s excellent novel State of Fear. Published in 2004, Crichton de-masked the whole global warming story as a scam long before Climategate could actually prove it.

Here are some more pointers for you:

Short Message for London Cabbies

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Mark Zanzig/zettpress

I have been in London for a few days for a client, and I had the pleasure to stay in the beautiful town center right next to the Tower Bridge in a five star hotel. Because of my luggage I decided to go for the decadent approach and take a taxi from Heathrow to the hotel. I say “decadent” because I would usually take The Tube or the express train to the city. But not with all this gear! Too heavy. Too bulky. Too valuable.

The airline magazine mentioned a price tag of around 50 Pounds (83 US Dollar or 56 Euro) for the trip, so I figured that it would be a good and welcome job for any Cabbie. Hmmm. It seems to be welcome, but only if you pay cash. What? Yes, I indicated that I wanted to pay by credit card, and the not-so-friendly lady at the taxi stand (who assigns the next taxi to you) mumbled something along the lines of “will be difficult, may cost 10% surcharge”. WHAT??

So, the third or fourth taxi was indeed willing to accept this trip, and instead of 50 Pounds it cost incredible 85 Pounds (140 US Dollar or 95 Euro). Yes, the airline magazine was entirely wrong, off by 70%.

Anyway, the shooting went well, and when I wanted to travel back to the airport I was already prepared for the issues surrounding my desire for credit card payment. And indeed, four Cabbies stopped in front of the five star hotel and – rejected me! Sure, they all wanted to get the job (except one who just did not want the job at all) and offered “to stop by a cash machine somewhere”, but I told them to bugger off.

Finally, the fifth taxi was happy to carry me and my luggage to the airport. I still think this was a good trip, and I do not understand how any taxi driver in London can not have a wireless credit card payment solution in their cars? Why? Why? Why? They’re working in London, one of the few true world capitals, but they act as if they are running a horse drawn carriage business in the 19th century.

Here’s my short message for all you London cabbies: if you want to carry me and my gear for healthy (i.e. expensive) fares, GO AND GET A WIRELESS CREDIT CARD MACHINE! It can’t be that expensive.

Rant over.

Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Florian Sedlmaier 1974-2009

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

(25-JUN-09) Yesterday, when I got home, Petra told me the news with tears in her eyes: Our friend Florian did not wake up after a surgery in the hospital. He had had a broken toe that was almost healed and was asked to perform a standard procedure to correct some minor issues he had experienced. At first he had resisted the surgery in his typical fashion, with a wide smile – “it’s getting better, it’s not that I can’t walk” – but the doctors convinced him to do it. And then, during the surgery, a problem occurred. It’s not yet clear what happened exactly after he entered the surgery room, but whatever it was, Florian did not get back into life again.

And at 35 years, he had a full life. Known as the “Party Flo”, Florian was where the action was, and the action was where he was. In his spare time, he organized the biggest parties for his friends, ranging from simple BBQs at his home to dozens of tables at the Oktoberfest and wonderful ski meetings in the Alps. It was next to impossible to imagine him sitting alone on the sofa at home watching TV (except when his favorite soccer club, Bayern München, was having a match). We always joked that he should quit his day job to do event planning and event management full time. That was his true passion. Yes, he enjoyed life to the fullest.

Munich, 18th August 2007

I first met Florian two years ago when he was a new colleague of Petra. He had joined Petra’s company, and he was planning the wedding with his lovely wife, Daniela. At first they did not think about hiring a wedding photographer. Then Florian saw my work and the couple decided to go for it. It was one of the biggest and most joyful weddings I have ever photographed, thanks to the friendly families and numerous friends attending the ceremony and party. And over time I enjoyed to become also one of Florian’s friends.

If the joy he found with Daniela could be topped, it was the birth of their daughter Marie two months ago that actually did this. Following Marie’s birth, Florian became even more relaxed than before. He had a very natural way of handling the kid – it all looked so easy with him. If you told others how naturally Florian had assumed his role and responsibility as a father, people were stunned. Despite of the new family member, he did not need to give up too much of his previous lifestyle, though, and so the tiny Marie appeared as a silent admirer on various smaller events with Florian and Daniela. It was all just natural to them.

Munich, 13th June 2009

Like they did about two weeks ago. The small family attended a Munich “Waldfest” (a pre-runner to Oktoberfest), where Florian was playing with his traditional Bavarian folk band under a clear blue sky on a warm sunny day – perfect for this kind of fest. Florian, Daniela, and Marie, were again a joy to see, and it was once more clear that this small family was a match made in heaven. Both Petra and I are very glad that we attended this Waldfest to enjoy yet another good day with Florian, Daniela, Marie, and their families.

That Florian is gone forever, taken in the middle of his full life and way too early, is unbelievable to us. It feels weird to know that Florian will not return, that he will not anymore bring his joy to others, in his unselfish style. No, that can’t be. I guess it will take us a long time to get used to that thought. There will be many times when I will start a thought involving Florian, and then stop it in shock and deep sadness, realizing that Florian is not among us any longer.

We will miss Florian, and our thoughts are with Daniela and Marie, and their family.

Oktoberfest 2009 beer price +3.8%

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

As every year in spring, the city of Munich has announced the official price-span for drinks at the official Oktoberfest 2009 in Munich. This year, one liter of beer will cost you between 8.10 Euro and 8.60 Euro; the weighted average price is 8.44 Euro. Compared to 2008, this means a price increase of 3.8% (after 5% last year).

As a side note, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the beer price over the past 24 years is 4.1% (i.e. the prices increased each year on average by 4.1%), so this year is slightly below this average. Then again – 8.60 for a liter of beer?

Which brings me to more practical issues – the cheapest tent this year are two smaller tents, Burtscher and Heinz Heilmaier oHG Hbr., where one liter of beer costs “just” 8.10 Euro.

Apparently, Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest beer are not seeing a crisis, and this surprises me a bit, to be honest. Yes, people still are thirsty during Oktoberfest, but when everybody else is feeling the pain from the economical downturn, I’d have expected at least a flat pricing that reflects reality. Companies will further cut budgets for team incentives at Oktoberfest, and individuals will probably either stay at home more often during the fest, or consume less while in the tent. It will be interesting to see how the “what crisis?” strategy actually will turn out.

If you want to find out more about the original Munich Oktoberfest, please visit