Rants and Observations

Jun. 7, 2018

Salzburg and the Nazis- A nasty secret.

 There was an exhibition at the Salzburg library, about the library’s role during the Nazi era. It seemed to avoid blaming the host population for the massive crowds cheering the Anschluss and Hitler and the Nazi leaders during their visits. It was as though the library and its leadership were somehow the only Nazis in Salzburg.

 A little research showed that there were only a 100 Jews in Salzburg in 1933. It was already one of the most anti-Semitic places in Europe. The tradition started with the expulsions and murder of the Jews in 1492, by the Catholic Bishop prince.


There were only 600 Jews in 2017.

 After WW2 the US occupied Salzburg and the Russians were in Vienna. Part of the early cold war was that the Russians tried to popularise their great composers in Vienna and the US countered by encouraging  Von Karajan, the famous ex Nazi conductor in Salzburg.

 We were surprised how very few immigrants were in Salzburg, given the rhetoric of the Austrian government.

Jun. 3, 2018


One of the best fun things in Salzburg was to visit the hunting lodge of the Prince Cardinals/Archbishops of Salzburg at Hellbrunn.
By way of background, the whole area was rich in valuable salt and gold. It became a virtual kingdom, under the Holy Roman Empire, but was ruled by princely aristocratic bishops for hundreds of years. It was tipical for a noble to become bishop at 12 and cardinal at 18 and to live the good life on the entire riches of the territory

One bishop, Wolf Dietrich Rattenau, erected a huge palace for his mistress who bore him 15 children. All of them lived of the labour of the peasants, ruled ruthlessly. He had a high old time.
Markus Sittich von Hohenems, son of an Imperial general, spent the money on Hellbrunn in the early 16th Century.
He developed a water garden, wherein he got his senior subjects drunk, then sat them around a stone table. At a signal, a flunky pulled a lever. A jet of freezing water shot up the bums of guests, leaving only the worthy Prince dry. The whole area was full of sprays to wet his guests. Oh, how they laughed. (Better than suffering in his torture chamber.)
Thinking on this, how would I have been in his position? He was raised to nobility and peasants were there to serve him. I guess I would have been the same.
As I come from a long line of peasants, my instinct would be to line his kind up against the wall. Our choices depend on where we come from.


May. 29, 2018

Chris and Ivy decided to celebrate their 25th in Munich and Salzburg.

They chose not to have a party, rather spending it all on themselves. Socialists can be such hypocrites. Aaron appeared uninvited a few times to throw things into chaos.

The Sacher Hotel is world class. Salzburg is so chocolate crazy that the hotel even have chocolate soap and shampoos. Chris smelt like a Hershey bar for days.

 Pictures of famous guests adorn a wall. Bill Clinton with two smiling young women. No surprise.

What? It’s the Dali Llama's picture on the wall? No wonder he is always smiling. The President’s suite there costs mega bucks a night.

The first noble truth of Buddhism is that there is suffering. Was he suffering here, because they ran out of the death by chocolate Sachertorte, when he got the bill, when he had to leave or what?

Apr. 19, 2018

Interesting, but hardly inspiring

I cannot remember why I bought this book second hand. Morbid curiosity perhaps. Finally, I read it. The mercenaries described were involved in Africa and latterly elsewhere.  They seem to be cynical, usually sociopathic misfits, keen to kill.

On reflection, that description fits those involved in most military forces throughout history. If soldiers don’t start out that way, the training turns them, especially when they are young and full of testosterone and hormones. It worked on me for a while. The mercenaries seem to be stuck in a particularly murderous groove.

The book describes the background and reasons for the conflicts adequately enough, but rather briefly as there are many stories to relate. The description of the cynical involvement of the UK, French and US governments behind the scenes is further evidence of the bankruptcy of these nations foreign policy, if it were needed.

The writing is mainly a recounting of facts and interviews, not aspiring to any literary merit and not having any.

The book is worth reading if you are interested in the mess that was and still is post-colonial Africa. It adds horror and further detail to what you may have read already.

Mar. 24, 2018

Man Booker Prizes are no recommendation.
Julian Barnes- The Sense of an Ending.

The black edges to the pages of the paperback were oddly intriguing. Was it a Victorian death cult novel?

The opening, about four somewhat pretentious London schoolboys in the 60s, made me laugh a little. It caused me to compare my own memories of more serious rebellion and different pretentions.
The lives of the three main characters, quickly became mundane and boring. The narrator's over reaction to his dull girlfriend's tediousness and dumping him seemed ridiculous. I asked myself, 'Why write about such uninteresting folk and why am I still reading this?'
As the book was short and well written, I pressed on. The narrator turned out to be mean spirited as well as a sad failure. The twist at the end was a surprise, but hardly riveting.

You have to wonder about why such light-weight books win prizes. The 'Luvvies', who control the traditional publishing industry, are more motivated with impressing other luvvies than the inherent merit of the books they churn out.