Monday, January 27, 2020

Trump's Speech of Lies in Davos

With disgust and shock, I listened to Trump's speech in Davos last week. It sounded almost like one of his usual election campaigns. Even though it might have been written for him for the occasion. First, he dissed his predecessor, President Obama, without naming. Then he listed in a staccato his successes as 45th president. One lie after the other:

The result could hardly be more idiotic: Since Trump's election, America's economy has not gained market share worldwide but has continued to lose it - from 10.8 to 10.2 %. According to OECD estimates, US exports this year will grow more slowly than average demand in the sales markets for the fourth year in a row. Last year, US sales worldwide may even have fallen. Great revival...

Conversely, import pressure has not eased either. The share of total demand that was covered by purchases from a distance was 15.2 % in the USA in 2016 - now it is 15.6 %. Turnaround? None!

The preliminary Trump balance sheet for foreign trade as a whole is correspondingly bizarre. According to OECD forecasts, the Americans are likely to receive 600 billion dollars more on balance from abroad than they sell there. That is 170 billion - or 40 percent - more deficit than when the "dealmaker" started. This means that the US economy is once again approaching the records that were set shortly before the major financial crisis of 2007 took hold. As a reminder, the goal was a reduction, not an explosion. And this is not only statistically relevant.

Industrial Jobs are Being Cut
No revival of the industry - and of the regions where, as in the legendary Rust Belt, so many have chosen Trump out of frustration. Since 2016, the share of industrial jobs in employment in the USA has not risen again but has continued to fall. Worse still, since the economy began to weaken in 2019, not only is the ratio falling - real jobs are also being cut again.

While, all in all, a good 2.1 million more people were employed nationwide at the end of the year than a year earlier, there were almost 20,000 fewer jobs in the US auto industry. The mining industry lost 21,000 jobs within one year. Even in the oil and gas industry, which Trump protected so well, jobs were recently cut again (minus 24,000), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The preliminary balance sheet is no better with regard to Donald Trump's declared intention to revive economic dynamism in the USA through major tax reform. This came at the beginning of 2018, which reduced the government's revenue ratio by a good 2.5 percentage points - to 31.2 percent of gross domestic product.

What has so far failed to materialize is the noticeable revival of economic momentum beyond the short-term one-off effect. US companies basically did not need the tax breaks, says Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz. Anyway, they had historically a lot of money that they still didn't invest. Measured by GDP, investments today are lower than in the 1990s - not higher.

The national deficit is soaring senselessly. No wonder is apparent in the productivity statistics either. On the contrary: at around one percent per year, the increases are actually much lower than the 1.7 percent between 1992 and 2002.

In reality, many companies have hoarded the money and bought their own shares - for lack of confidence in future real sales opportunities. What made the stock boom figures more beautiful is nothing that makes the country stronger or more innovative.

This is all the more dramatic because the tax break was quite expensive. Last year, the national deficit skyrocketed to seven percent of GDP - more than twice as much as Europe's peak value was once set. And this is the best time for the economy when it would be easy to run surpluses. It is not difficult to predict that in the next recession it will quickly reach ten percent or more. Like once in Greece or Ireland around 2010.

The total debt ratio for the USA is now well above 100 percent of GDP. Even that would be half as bad if the money had been invested in things that are important for the future and would then pay off at some point - whether in rebuilding the infrastructure or fighting further climate disasters. But now it is instead in the stock portfolios of people who are already well-off.

What's crazy is that none of this will necessarily lead to Trump's popularity ratings plummeting. All the side effects may not be felt until the next crisis: when masses of people in the industry lose their jobs again; when taxes rise for everyone in order to reduce government deficits. Or when the Americans realize that all that beautiful money should have been better invested in schools, bridges and a stable climate.




Sunday, January 19, 2020

7 Easy Tips How to Improve Your Writing

When you are reading your writing, all you need to do is to watch out for seven typical weak points. "If you can find them and fix them, you will be well on your way to improving your writing skills" advises Derek Haines. You can learn how to become a better writer by noticing common weaknesses:

The Passive Is To Be Eradicated

Well, I should say that you need to eradicate the passive. It is the first piece of advice great writers learn.
The active voice is always more descriptive and gives much more information. The passive voice is quick and easy, and because of this, it very often simply slips out of a writer’s fingers in a first draft. But it is uninformative.
As soon as you see the verb to be followed by a past participle, change it as in the following examples.
was instructed to go on a diet. My doctor instructed me to go on a diet.
We have been told that our flight has been delayed.
The airline told us that there was a delay in our flight.

This, That and The Other

This might come as a surprise. Um, what will?  Starting a sentence with this or that is usually a bad idea because it is often an unclear pronoun.
I didn’t finish high school. That was because I had to work.
I didn’t finish high school because I had to work.
The government is out of control. This is why I won’t vote for them.
I won’t vote for the government because it is out of control.

Read all of Derek Haines' fantastic advice on how to become a better writer:


Advice on how to market your books can be found here:

111 Tips on How to Market Your Book for Free:
Detailed Plans and Smart Strategies for Your Book’s Success 

Book Marketing on a Shoestring:
How Authors Can Promote their Books 

Without Spending a Lot of Money 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Do Micro Wave Ovens Kill Nutritions?

Lightly microwaving vegetables may actually help retain more nutrients than stove-top methods such as boiling. The advantage of cooking in the microwave is you often don’t need to add a lot of water than if you were boiling vegetables. Just don’t over-microwave vegetables to death.

Any form of cooking affects the nutrients in some way, as some nutrients can be heat sensitive.  The less we cook it in water, the more nutrients are going to be kept.  Likewise, the more water you cook them in, the more they can leach out.

Are Microwave Ovens Safe?
When used according to manufacturers' instructions, microwave ovens are safe and convenient for heating and cooking a variety of foods.  However, several precautions need to be taken, specifically in regards to potential exposure to microwaves, thermal burns, and food handling.

Because of the potential for uneven distribution of cooking, food heated in a microwave oven should rest for several minutes after cooking is completed to allow the heat to distribute throughout the food.  Food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe, and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Antioxidants are substances that theoretically protect against cell-damaging free radicals in the body, and they abound in FRESH fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.

Scientists found that baking, griddle-cooking and, yes, microwaving produced the lowest losses, while boiling and pressure-cooking were the hardest on antioxidants. Frying was somewhere in between.

The real culprit for lost nutrition isn't how you heat up your veggies, but how much water you use, the researchers found.  Boiling and pressure-cooking cause nutrients to leach out of veggies and into the cooking water.  When it comes to preparing vegetables, the authors concluded, "water is not the cook's best friend."

Scientistic Research
Micro-waving vs Cooking, Steaming, Blanching: The Effect of Domestic Cooking Methods on Antioxidant Capacity of Fresh and Frozen Kale

Cooking Tips:

Use microwave-safe dishes.
I think it’s always best to stick to containers which are microwave safe, and glass is also a good option to use.

Stir frequently.
To avoid any food contamination, make sure you stir your meal every so often while microwaving, especially when reheating rice.

Only add a bit of water.
For vegetables, you don’t have to use a lot of water. Just a few spoonfuls of water is fine.

Cook vegetables until just firm.
To avoid potential nutrient loss, microwave vegetables for a shorter time.

Understand your microwave.
To avoid over or under-cooking, get to know how strong your microwave is.



Wednesday, January 8, 2020

USA: Germans Refugees as Successful Entrepreneurs

"The Americans are very inclined to put the Germans a little behind. They only keep the immigrants good for work and cheat them where they can" - these lines were written by a German immigrant, a law student without an exam from the Weser estuary, in 1863, returning home from the USA.  Another let the relatives in Germany know: "... the Americans have a great dislike for all Germans and set them back everywhere...".
Around 52 million Europeans left the continent in the 19th century, a large proportion of them moving to the USA. Germans, in particular, migrated to the land of "unlimited opportunities".  This is about a time when the Germans were the refugees - and they founded companies in their new homeland that are still famous today.
Germans who left their homeland and disembarked in New York were not welcomed with open arms -  probably also due to the large number.  In the years from 1880 to 1885 alone, around 850,000 Germans are said to have left their homeland and made a pilgrimage overseas. It was a strenuous journey - and yet some six million! Germans set off on their journey between 1820 and 1930.

"Nowhere else does the legal, wise and active man live so well, so freely, so happily as in America, the poorest better than the one in Europe two steps higher," wrote H. W. E. Eggerling in "Short Description of the United States of North America" in 1832.

The USA became a place of longing.  At the beginning of the 19th century, few Germans left their homeland.  Religious reasons - once an important reason for flight - faded into the background.  However, failed harvests and the resulting price explosion, famine and the arrogance of the craft guilds made emigration more attractive - despite the strains of the crossing.

Hardly Controlled Migration
The migrants were on the move for up to six months: by ship and barges, horse-drawn carts and on foot.  "The period between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the beginning of the First World War was a phase of unbound 'proletarian mass migration'," writes historian and migration researcher Jochen Oltmer.
This phase was "characterized by 'free' cross-border migration, which was hardly hindered and only rarely controlled by the state or the administration.  This phase, which spanned the entire so-called 'long' 19th century, led over 50 million Europeans overseas. Apart from various continental immigration and emigration movements, with around 40 million, mostly to the United States.
Hamburg, Bremen, and Bremerhaven were developing into major emigrant ports. This poses logistical challenges for the cities because those willing to travel want to be accommodated until the ships leave.  Emigrant houses were being built.  And the US ports were also increasingly gearing up for the wave of migrants.  Ellis Island, an island at the mouth of the Hudson River, had been developed into an immigration station.
Ellis Island                                                                         
"The decision to make Ellis Island an immigration collection point in New York was made by the US government.  Since 1890, it has regulated nationwide immigration," Barry Moreno, explained a historian at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York.  "The government wanted to enforce stricter rules to limit the number of immigrants.  Since immigrants were blamed by the population for the rising crime rate, authorities preferred an isolated location."

Germans and the Problem of Integration
About 40 percent of all Americans have ancestors who came into the country via Ellis Island.  From 1892 on, inspectors controlled the immigrants:  What is the profession of the newcomers?  How much money do they have with them?  Do they have diseases?  And: Do they speak enough English?
The German immigrants were particularly lacking in language - this also contributed to their bad reputation.  And it made their integration more difficult.  However, they worked hard and were considered to be resourceful.
Some Germans Refugees Became Successful Entrepreneurs:
At the end of the 19th century, German workers, especially from southern Germany, were recruited - among other things for the construction of the railway lines.  Many Companies founded by these immigrants from Germany have survived to this day.
One of them was Marcus Goldman from Trappstadt in Lower Franconia, who left his homeland in 1848 and went to the USA.  After the turmoil of the Civil War (1861 to 1865), he opened a one-room office in New York, where he bought promissory notes from tobacco and diamond dealers and sold the bills of exchange to bankers.  In 1882, his son-in-law, Samuel Sachs, joined the company.  Goldman's son Henry and Samuel Sachs are considered the founders of the world-famous bank Goldman Sachs.  In 2017, the financial house generated approximately 916 million US dollars.

Karl Pfizer from Ludwigsburg also wanted to make his fortune in the USA.  His emigration was not entirely voluntary: he is one of the "forty-eighters" who left Europe in the wake of the failed European Revolution of 1848/49.  Pfizer, the fifth child of a master confectioner and himself a pharmacist's apprentice, joined forces with his cousin Charles after his arrival in New York.  They borrowed 2500 dollars and opened a pharmaceutical shop in Brooklyn.  There they sold Santonin, a chemical used to combat parasitic worms. These white crystals were to become the first commercial success of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
Airplanes Instead of Lumber
Wilhelm Eduard Böing lost his father whom he admired very much, at the age of nine due to influenza.  Wilhelm Böing Senior had migrated from Limburg/Sauerland in the USA in 1868 and had made a considerable fortune with a timber trade in Detroit.  His mother sent him to a boarding school in Switzerland.  When he returned to the USA, he changed his clearly German name to the more English variant William Edward Boeing.  Although he worked in his father's timber business, his love for airplanes made him one of the most important producers of airplanes.
Friedrich Trump, the young man from Kallstadt, Rheinland Pfalz, had already completed a hairdresser's training and had migrated to the USA at the age of just 16.  Trump was not satisfied.  Now, in his early 20s, he wanted to become rich.  He borrowed money to take over a small restaurant in a filthy Seattle district.  Until then, he was living with his sister in New York.  A very German life: He spoke German, dressed like he did at home, and ate German food.  In Seattle this period was over, he became an American.  But it wasn't until real estate deals in Queens that he became really rich.  The empire was inherited by his son and then Donald Trump, his grandson.



Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Roasted Chestnuts: My Favored Winter Treats

Chestnuts are a quintessential flavor of the holiday season. Roasting them on an open fire means one thing: Christmas. It's the first line of the "The Christmas Song," - but the holiday staple deserves a spot in more than just carols and the turkey stuffing.  

One of the most delicious winter food treats I am missing most in North America is roasted chestnuts.  Walking in cold weather over the Christmas markets, warming my hands on a bag of chestnuts, just taken out of the oven, is one of my beloved winter memories. 

In Switzerland and Italy, you can find the chestnut paste, pressed through a sieve, looking like spaghetti and topped with a generous load of whipped cream, in every coffee shop or gelateria.

In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Slowakia, Tschechien, and many other countries, the chestnut paste is offered in every grocery store. There you can find it in the frozen foods department, usually in the ice cream section.

Chestnuts taste buttery and slightly sweet and are a great snack on their own.  They also can be used in a myriad of recipes ranging from stuffings to desserts.  According to The Local, Swiss people eat nearly 2,000 tons of chestnuts a year.  The chestnuts are usually eaten in sweet desserts or just roasted and eaten out of paper cones on the street.

"Chestnuts are an excellent source of manganese, molybdenum, and copper and a good source of magnesium.  In addition, they are a good source of vitamin C as well as vitamins B1, B2, and B6 and folic acid.  The health benefits of chestnuts center on their nutritional content.  However, unlike other nuts, chestnuts are a low-fat variety and do not provide the benefits of a high level of monounsaturated fat."
Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

"Chestnuts are the only low-fat nuts, containing just 1 gram of fat and a little less than 70 calories per ounce of dried or roasted nuts.  Additionally, chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C.  In fact, just 3 ounces of chestnuts supply about 45% of the recommended daily amount of this vital antioxidant nutrient.  And they’re a great source of dietary fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. When chestnuts are in season, you can roast them in the oven.  If you’re pressed for time, you can buy them prepackaged and ready to eat any time of year.  You should eat up to three ounces of chestnuts a day to maximize their benefits."
This content originally appeared on

The Chestnut Trail in South Tyrolia
The chestnut trail in the Valle Iscarco, in German called “Keschtnweg”, connects the 60 km long sunny slopes between Bolzano and Bressanone and from Bolzano and Merano.
Particularly in autumn, the chestnut trail is definitely one of the hiking highlights in South Tyrol.

No matter if you prefer to do a tour of several days or just one or two single stages, hiking on the chestnut trail is always a great opportunity to connect hiking and enjoying tasty local dishes and drinks, particularly during the “Törggelen“ time between September and November.

Tips for Roasting Chestnuts
Oven-roasted chestnuts are easy to make and give you a buttery and slightly sweet snack that is good on its own or in recipes. The shell must be cut before roasting.  If the shell isn’t cut, it will cause the chestnuts to explode from the trapped steam.  Plus, this makes them easier to peel.

Steam makes peeling easier.  Soaking the scored chestnuts helps them absorb water between the shell and the nut.  This creates extra steam between the nut and outer shell and separates the two for easier peeling.  Bonus, it also helps keep the nuts moist.

There are two layers of shell.  There is the hard outer shell, as well as a fuzzy, thin inner shell.  This inner shell can grow into the ridges of the chestnut and be difficult to remove, especially if the chestnut is dry or old.  Use the tip of a sharp knife to help remove the difficult spot.

Adding them to your diet will benefit your weight loss journey. According to various studies, eating plenty of fiber may help promote bowel movements, reduce blood cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels and keep your gut healthy.