Warum wir weiter arbeiten, und was wir machen

Erste Campus by Wikimedia/Herzi Pinki cc-by-sa 4.0
Erste Campus by Wikimedia/Herzi Pinki cc-by-sa 4.0

Aktuell stehen vor allem kleine Unternehmer virtuell Schlange bei den Banken um kleine Überbrückungskredite. Vielen bricht gerade der gesamte Umsatz weg, und bis der Krisenfonds der Bundesregierung auszahlen kann, wird es zumindest ein bisschen dauern.
Für die Banken ist das unter normalen Umständen durchaus ein Problem, viel eher als hohe Bargeldabhebungen. Geldinstitute unterliegen ja einem recht strengen Regelwerk, und die aktuelle Situation ruiniert ihnen die Risikokennzahlen.

Eine der Risikodimensionen im strategischen Risikomanagement ist das sogenannte Konzentrationsrisiko. Im Kern geht es dabei darum, dass eine zu große Abhängigkeit von einer einzigen Branche, einem Kundensegment (also zum Beispiel kleine Unternehmen), einer Region, einem Land usw. ein überproportionales Risiko darstellt, weil dann schon eine einzelne schlechte Entwicklung die gesamte Kundengruppe gefährdet. Banken versuchen also – unter Normalbedingungen – ihr Risiko, so gut es geht, zu steuern und derartige Konzentrationen zu vermeiden.

Natürlich leben wir aktuell nicht unter Normalbedingungen, und wenn Banken im gesellschaftlichen Gefüge eine Aufgabe haben, dann die, eben dieses Risiko zu nehmen und damit umzugehen. Die Erkenntnis setzt sich auch langsam durch. Der erste Impuls wäre, das Geschäft einfach einzustellen, aber wir wissen natürlich, dass das den unvermeidlichen Schaden nur noch deutlich vergrößern würde. Keine Bank wird, so hoffe ich, diesen Weg gehen.

Trotzdem müssen die Kolleginnen und Kollegen natürlich mit aller Sorgfalt vorgehen. Dazu gehört, dass man sich überlegt, ob die Produkte, die wir anbieten, für diesen Fall geeignet sind.  Zinssätze sind aktuell weniger das Problem, da ohnehin nah am Nullpunkt. Sind die Laufzeiten zu lang? Die Verträge flexibel genug? Mit den Instrumenten, die wir aktuell zur Verfügung haben, werden wir nicht immer das Auslangen finden, also müssen schnell neue her. Wir müssen in der Lage sein, rasch Geld zur Verfügung zu stellen, aber wir müssen auch immer wissen, welchen Rucksack wir dadurch für später aufnehmen.

Eine wesentliche Aufgabe der strategischen Risikomanager ist in dem Zusammenhang, dass sie Prognosen erstellen, wie sich bestimmte (angenommene) Ereignisse unter diesen Bedingungen auswirken. Dazu können sie Stresstests rechnen, ganz ähnlich, wie das die EU seit 2009 regelmäßig macht. Es werden Annahmen modelliert (z.B.: bei Privatkunden fallen 5% mehr Kredite aus – mindestens eine Rate kann nicht bezahlt werden – als sonst), und eine Statistiksoftware berechnet die Auswirkungen auf alle möglichen Bankenkennzahlen. Wie viel Eigenkapital haben wir dann noch? Wie ändert sich die Ausfallswahrscheinlichkeit, der Verlust im Fall eines Ausfalles?

Wenn wir diese Dinge wissen, können wir uns überlegen, wie wir gegensteuern. Das Ziel ist jedenfalls dasselbe wie sonst auch: Gleichzeitig so viele Leben wie möglich zu retten, aber auch die Gesellschaft am Laufen zu halten, damit die jetzt notwendigen Einschränkungen nicht später im Jahr dazu führen, dass Jobs und Vermögen verloren gehen.

What It Is All About

The pride, or shame, of Europe are not what these days are about. Not even the people on the march. It’s our lives and freedom that are at stake.

Refugees are coming, no matter what. They will risk their lives in search of a better life (or life at all), and many will make it, no matter how many obstacles we put in their way. They will board airtight lorries as well as rickety boats, climb through barbed wire, cross the sea, and walk hundreds of kilometres in flip flops, if need be, carrying their children on their backs. I am sure they would also climb walls, duck under spring guns, and cross mine fields if it came to that. It still would’t be worse than what they’ve already been through.

The question is, what happens to them once they are settled. Will they fall prey to hate preachers, become radicals, and threaten the stability of the continent?

Or will they actually get a chance of integrating themselves into our society, become convinced that our way of living and the values we keep preaching are indeed better? Will we show them that those values – freedom, equality, human rights, the best possible life for the greatest number – mean something, or are they just hollow phrases that we throw overboard the minute they come under threat?

This is the moment to show the world we won’t. We need to live these values, now more than ever, and that includes welcoming those arriving every day now, finding food and shelter for them and giving them a perspective. Let’s teach them our languages, and our culture, because it’s something worth being taught, not something we desperately cling to out of fear. Out of self-preservation, if not out of kindness. Let’s also learn from them what there is to be learned. I’m sure it’s a lot.

If we fail in that – which right now it doesn’t look like we will – we fail as a society, but the change will still happen. In fact, it will happen much more drastically, and the result will look much bleaker.

Something’s Got to Give

I talked to a few refugees in German class today. Hardly surpriningy, what they wish for most, is to get in a car or on a train and go home. Of course, that option is not open for any of them.

And then, there are people like that woman I saw on TV the other day who had nothing better to say than, “how about they all just stay at home?” As if they could! How can people be so callused?

Yes, I know, we all have our own cross to carry. Believe me, I know that better than many. And yet, for some of us, the world is a much, much harder place to live in than for others. And everybody can do something.

Even if it is just to read the news and generally educate about how things are, and not let yourself be taken in by con-men and rabble-rousers.

Please, Europe! Get your act together and get to work!

Flash Plugin Update for Firefox on Linux

I was annoyed by Firefox blocking Flash all the time – or, more to the point, by the necessity for it and the task of downloading and unpacking it, so I wrote a shell script that will do it for me. I run it as root so that the cp at the end will work. You may want to consider setting the privileges on /usr/lib/adobe-flashplugin/ so that that isn’t necessary.

#!/bin/bash
cd /tmp
mkdir flashdownload
cd flashdownload
VERSION=$(curl http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/ | grep -A 2 "<td rowspan=\"2\"><strong>Linux</strong></td>" | tail -1 | sed "s/<td>//" | sed "s/<\/td>//" | sed "s/^[ ]*//")
echo "Downloading version "$VERSION
curl https://fpdownload.adobe.com/get/flashplayer/pdc/$VERSION/install_flash_player_11_linux.i386.tar.gz > flashplugin.tar.gz
tar -xzvf flashplugin.tar.gz
cp libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/adobe-flashplugin/
cd ..
rm -rf flashdownload

Rehab Alland, Day Twenty-One: Pros and Cons

I’m going home in the morning.

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*throws playing cards during the appropriate line*

Here’s my personal list of Alland pros and cons. Your mileage may vary.

pro: Lost a lot of weight (more than 10 kilos).
con: BIG con. Crash diet. No idea how this is supposed to help finding a sustainable lifestyle.
pro: Lots of exercise.
con: Very few different kinds of exercise. I would have preferred a wider range of options so that I could find something I would like to continue at home.
con: For my joints, some of the therapies were actually painful, especially underwater gymnastics.
pro: Beautiful house and environs.
pro: With a few notable exceptions, the staff was friendly and competent.
con: Most of the lectures were on a very basic level and thus not very educational.
con: My personal situation doesn’t fit the pattern very well. Some of my problems just weren’t addressed.
con: Days start obscenely early. Some mornings you’re supposed to be present at 6.00 AM.
pro: You’re supposed to participate, but you’re not locked up. You can leave the premises and skip meals on Saturdays and Sundays, provided you haven’t got therapies.
con: You only get your timetable for the day the night before, which makes it very had to plan visits.
pro: Nice rooms, provided you’re not in a double. Most rooms share a bathroom and lavatory with one neighbour.
con: Really bad mobile phone signal.
con: The quality of the food left a lot to be desired.

Would/Will I come again? Probably not.

Does that mean I advise you to stay away if your doctor wants to send you here? Absolutely not. Just be prepared, give it a thought beforehand what you expect and what you need. Try to maintain an attitude of personal responsibility for your well-being. Have everything explained to you in great detail and take part in all the decisions. After all, you’re the person that knows best.

Rehab Alland, Day Nineteen: The House

The facility I’m at has a rich history. It was built in the 1870s as a hospital for sufferers of tuberculosis and other diseases of the lung. After World War II it was requisitioned as quarters for the Red Army. In the 1980s, when tuberculosis wasn’t that big a problem any longer, it was established as a centre for metabolic disorders, especially diabetes.

The history has left its marks. Over time, several wings had been built and subsequently demolished. Currently, the house consists of two wings that are connected on the lower level. The central wing contains a reception area, a large common room and, most importantly, the dining hall. There are other common rooms scattered all round the house. Most of them offer some kind of entertainment, like a pool and air hockey table, a Wii, a darts machine, or a foosball table. There’s also a small café, although I haven’t been in there.

I really like what they’ve done with the place. 😀 It’s gorgeous. It’s also rather large and hard to find your way around. Some people might call it a labyrinth. There are patients here who, after almost three weeks, still have problems knowing where they are and where they need to go. It’s probably an inevitable consequence of the many reconstructions the place has undergone, but it can also be a real nuisance at times. Kafka would have loved it.

Another thing people find troublesome is that due to the rather remote location, it’s really difficult to get a signal on your mobile. I’m very lucky in that respect, as my room looks out towards the closest phone tower. That way I’m getting a tolerably good signal in my room as long as I stay close to the window. Not everyone is as lucky, though.

The medical facilities have been overhauled and greatly extended only last year. As a result, you can get a wide variety of therapies, both active, like ergometer training, and passive, like massages or hay compresses. They also have a pool for physical therapy that’s large enough for swimming, and that’s open several times a week at night.

The extensive grounds are very well kept and give you lots of opportunities for long walks. If that’s not enough for you you can venture out into the Vienna Woods, which are gorgeous at this time of year.
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Rehab Alland, Day Seventeen: The Woods

Vienna Woods
Vienna Woods

The town of Alland is located in the middle of the Wienerwald, or Vienna Woods. It’s a forested area some 45 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide to the south to west of Vienna. Part of it is actually inside city limits.

The area isn’t exactly mountain territory, although technically it is the start, or end, however you see it, of the main chain of the Alps. The highest hilltops are no higher than 900 metres and the whole area has been saved from planned deforestation in the 19th century, so it’s still heavily forested. A very small part is even said to still be primeval, although I’m not sure that is true.

Alland doesn’t have any hot springs or peat or whatever highlight you might find in spa towns. Instead, their therapy is based on long walks through the woods. If you want to lose weight, that happens to be exactly what the doctor prescribed. In my case, literally.

To be honest, hiking will never become my favourite pastime; although I must say I find it a lot more enjoyable than when I was forced to do it occasionally while still in school. Maybe it’s because here I can set my own speed and choose where I’m going. I’m not slacking off when it comes to steep or otherwise difficult terrain, either.

Anyway, I took my camera on most outings and made good use of it. Hope you like the pictures. My apologies if I’ve used one or the other before in a post.

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Rehab Alland, Day Fifteen: November

Apparently people have been reading my blog, although I get very few comments.

I’ve been very busy the last couple day, mostly hiking through the woods. I’m planning a longer post about the Vienna woods, which are gorgeous this time of year, so this time I’m just including a few pictures I took, trying to catch the foggy November weather.
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Oh, and incidentally, only one more week to go. Yay.

Of course I was forewarned that there would be setbacks. Everybody makes a special point of telling you that, and yet I wasn’t prepared for it at all.

Maybe it’s the foggy weather. Or I might be coming down with something.

What I had expected was an unexplainable weight gain. Or some serious motivation issues. Wanting to slack off. That’s not it at all.

Instead, everything is hard today. It’s not that I’m especially tired or demotivated, it’s just that every move of a muscle needs just that extra bit of effort, just a little more exertion, just a little more sweat. It’s also just a little bit easier to get agitated.

The right way to deal with it is indeed to accept the limits, to still go for a walk choosing a gentler route, to not get carried away by ambition, yet still keep at it. I must not ignore the difficulties, but accept them, and concentrate on the small pleasures.

A week after I arrived in Alland we’ve settled into a routine of some sort. We get up for breakfast at 7.30 unless we have checks before that. Then therapy, lectures, lunch, more therapy, a walk, supper. After that, we mostly hang out in one of the common rooms and chat or play games.
Most of us have already lost several kilos. All is well.

The door that leads nowhere.
The door that leads nowhere.

Of course, there are setbacks. Nearly everyone has already had days where they’ve actually gained weight. Sometimes it’s really hard to make do with 1100 calories. Sometimes I just want to get away from it all and just lock myself in my room and be on my own. That’s part of it.

Luckily, the other patients know exactly how you feel in that situation. You wouldn’t believe how liberating it is that for once I’m not The Fat Guy, but simply a member of a group of peers.

Mind you, I have no reason to complain about my friends or colleagues. I’m used to asking and getting special considerations if I need it. And yet, here I don’t have to ask, because we’re all (roughly) in the same boat. Makes for a nice change.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to post daily updates. Soon I’ll be running out of topics. Many thanks to everyone who has read these pages and given me support.