Insight No. 78: Breaking-through Technologies: “AI for Everybody”

Insights, Technology

Artificial intelligence has so far been mainly the plaything of big tech companies like Amazon, Baidu, Google, and Microsoft, as well as some startups. For many other companies and parts of the economy, AI systems are too expensive and too difficult to implement fully.

What’s the solution? Machine-learning tools based in the cloud are bringing AI to a far broader audience. So far, Amazon dominates cloud AI with its AWS subsidiary. Google is challenging that with TensorFlow, an open-source AI library that can be used to build other machine-learning software. Recently Google announced Cloud AutoML, a suite of pre-trained systems that could make AI simpler to use.

Microsoft, which has its own AI-powered cloud platform, Azure, is teaming up with Amazon to offer Gluon, an open-source deep-learning library. Gluon is supposed to make building neural nets — a key technology in AI that crudely mimics how the human brain learns as easy as building a smartphone app.

These products will be essential if the AI revolution is going to spread more broadly through different parts of the economy.

Insight No. 212: “Breakingthrough Technologies – 3D Organ Bio-Printing”

Creatures, Insights, Nature, Technology

Almost 114,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant. Another name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 min.. On average, 20 people die every day from the lack of available organs for transplant.

But the shortage of organs for transplant is a universal problem.  Unfortunately, there is a lack of statistics about the demand for organs in other world regions. The statistics below refer to the USA only…

IN GENERAL

3D bio-printing, the process of using bio-ink composed of tissue or human cells, has come a long way over the last decade. The goal of developing functioning whole organs, such as kidneys, livers or hearts, is becoming more and more of a reality.

3D bio-printing uses a typical layer-by-layer 3D printing method, depositing bio-inks or bio-materials, to create 3D tissues or structures used for medicine or tissue engineering. This technology is being applied to regenerative medicine to address the need for tissues and 3D printed organs for transplant.

THE BONES, BODY PARTS & TISSUE

In 2017, a team from the University of Glasgow developed a new technique called “nano-kicking” to grow 3D samples of mineralized bone for the first time. Using this method, the researchers were able to turn stem cells taken from human donors into 3D bone grafts. These grafts could be ready for implantation as early 2020.

In the meantime the group has already demonstrated functional bone grafts after implanting them into a dog’s leg — one which would otherwise have required amputation. This technology is also specifically being funded through a collaborative effort with Find A Better Way. The goal is to help those who have suffered landmine related injuries.

THE HEART

The most promising of of 3D printed organs for transplant is the heart. As organs go, the heart is actually one of the easiest to recreate because it doesn’t employ any complex biochemical reactions. Rather, its primary function is to act as a pump.

Biolife4D, a biotech startup, hopes to create miniature hearts for testing in small animals within a year. The process was developed in part by several research groups:

  • First, a patient’s heart is scanned with an MRI machine, creating a digital render of the shape and size.
  • Next, using a blood sample from the patient, blood cells can be converted into stem cells and then converted again into heart cells. The resulting hydrogel mixture is their bio-ink to be used with a 3D printer.
  • The bio-ink is printed layer by layer onto a biodegradable scaffold. It provides a structure on which cells can grow, forming the exact shape of the patient’s heart.
  • Within a few days, the hearts cells join and begin to beat like a heart. Once ready, the scaffold can be removed with heat and the heart is ready for transplant.

Using the patient’s own cells to prepare the organ means it’s less likely to be rejected by the host. As such, the patient isn’t required to take immune-suppressant drugs, which might otherwise make them susceptible to other diseases.

THE KIDNEYS

Of the potential 3D printed organs for transplant, a 3D printed kidney is one of the most difficult. That’s because of the complexity of the organ’s structure, which is necessary for its function.

In 2016, Jennifer Lewis’ lab at Harvard developed a novel printing method that uses ‘inks’ consisting of kidney cells and surrounding material. This ink ends has the consistency of toothpaste and can be extruded at room temperature, allowing them to make complex tissue structures.

Thanks to this novel ink, the research group has been able to recreate part of the nephron, the functional unit of the kidney. The nephron is responsible for filtering the blood and reabsorbing all of the useful components and excreting out the rest. With this achievement, the field of 3D printed organs for transplant is a lot closer now to creating a functional kidney.

3D printed artificial kidneys are already used for training purposes. More advanced models might act as a substitute for organic implants. Of course, scientist are working on the objective to develop 3D printed kidneys made of organic cells that are suitable to replace the original human organ.

Scientists also work on solutions to replace at least parts of the kidney by 3D bio-printed products to fill the dramatical lack of donors.

THE LIVER

Organovo, a San Diego-based bio-printing company, has already demonstrated that it can 3D print human liver tissue patches, implant them into mice and be functionally beneficial. 

These liver patches are currently as thick as a dollar bill and are used to extend patients’ lives until they can recieve proper transplants. These partial liver transplants are currently targeted for human trials in 2020.

Until liver transplants begin, Organovo is also using their bio-printed liver patches for pre-clinical testing and drug discovery research. Using multi-cellular 3D human tissues that mimic a real liver, they can better assess the effects of specific drugs and compounds without risking lives.

A San Diego-based start-up “printed” the world’s first 3D human liver this year, but cautions that the ability to bioprint transplantable human organs will take years.

THE LUNGS

Scientists successfully 3D print an organ that mimics lungs recently.

In a 3D printing first, scientists have figured out how to print artificial versions of the body’s complex vascular networks, which mimic our natural passageways for blood, air, lymph, and other vital fluids.

“One of the biggest road blocks to generating functional tissue replacements has been our inability to print the complex vasculature that can supply nutrients to densely populated tissues,” says Jordan Miller, assistant professor of bio-engineering at Rice’s Brown School of Engineering.

Miller says our organs contain their own vascular networks, like the lung’s blood vessels and airways, and the bile ducts and blood vessels in the liver. “These interpenetrating networks are physically and biochemically entangled, and the architecture itself is intimately related to tissue function,” he says.

But Miller and his team are the first to develop bio-printing technology that “addresses the challenge of multi-vascularization in a direct and comprehensive way.”

The scientists created a new open-source bio-printing technology that they called “stereolithography apparatus for tissue engineering,” or SLATE. During the SLATE process, layers are printed one at a time from a liquid pre-hydrogel solution. When that solution is exposed to blue light, it becomes solid.

The scientists made a lung-mimicking structure as a test. SLATE held up, showing itself to be sturdy enough to create a rhythmic intake and outflow of “breathing.” Red blood cells had enough room to carry oxygen through the body. Researcher outline that there is still a long way to go to print organic lungs. In fact, they admit they still have to learn more about the human body`s architecture but significant progress is made.

Tipp No. 20: “Königsberger Meat Balls” from East Prussia – A Traditional German Recipe with History (“Königsberger Klopse” aus Ostpreussen)

Food, Insights, Reisen, Tipps, Travel
Königsberger Klopse.PNG

My Mom was born 1939 in Königsberg in East Prussia (Ostpreussen in the very North-East, former map of Germany).

Germany before 1945.png
Ostpreussen flucht Haff.jpg

Like thousands of Germans (the vast majority of refugees were elderly people, women and children), her family crossed the frozen “Haff” (= huge “Danziger Bay” between Königsberg/Pillau and Gdingen) with the aim to escape from the Russian Red Army and their revenge. Many lifes were lost and entire treks of thousands of refugees disappeared under the ice of the Baltic Sea (the last escape corridor) after East Prussia was isolated and cut off from the German territory by the Red Army in winter 1944/45.

MV Gustloff

As far as my grandma told me, my mothers family was trying to reach the last ship leaving the harbor Gotenhafen / Gdingen (todays Gydnia) at the Baltic Sea…the famous military transport ship “MV Wilhelm Gustloff”, which was acccepting civilian refugees.

But my grandma and her family was about 1 hour too late and missed the “Wilhelm Gustloff”. The transporter ship left Gotenhafen for his final tour this day.

9.400 lifes lost after bombarding refugee rescue ship

On 30 January 1945, the “Wilhelm Gustlow” operated under the flag of the red cross was bombed by submarine S-13 (Soviet Navy) and sank immediately after being hit by 3 torpedos. By one estimate, 9.400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in world history.

2,5 mio German refugees evacuated by a fleet of 1000 merchant- and warships. 

In a desperate act of humanity, about 2,5 mio German refugees were evacuated spontaneously by a quite unprepared fleet of approx. 1000 merchant-ships & warships quickly relocated to the Baltic Sea.

Do you notice something? Yes, we have caused a (admittedly just Germany internal) refugee crisis as well just one generation ago.

Königsberg.jpg

Königsberg – Kaliningrad

However, Germany lost all Eastern states/ territories (Ostpreussen, Schlesien, Pommern, Berlin-Brandenburg, Sachsen und Mitte) to Russia and Poland, as a result of the WWII. Königsberg and the region East Prussia (Ostpreussen) was part of the reparation package, Germany paid.

After being largely destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing and Soviet forces and annexed by the Soviet Union thereafter, the old German city “Königsberg” was renamed Kaliningrad because the Soviets wanted to gain access to the Baltic Sea for geo-strategical reasons.

Königsbergs unique regional cuisine is unforgotten

Königsberg was well-known within Germany for its unique regional cuisine. One of the popular dishes from the city was “Königsberger Klopse”, which is still made today in some specialist restaurants in Kaliningrad and present-day Germany.

koenigsberger-marzipan-teekonfekt--28708_04

Other food and drink native to the city included:
+ Königsberger Marzipan for teatime (pic l-h-s)
+ Kopskiekelwein, a wine made from blackcurrants or redcurrants + Bärenfang + Spirgel or Spirkel + Schwarzsauer + Klunker Soup + Rader-Cake (polnish: Faworki) + Tilsiter Cheese (Tilsit is a town in East Prussia) + Ochsenblut, literally “ox blood”, a champagne-burgundy cocktail mixed at the popular Blutgericht pub, which no longer exists.

East Prussia and and its formerly flourishing capitol Königsberg is lost but not the recipes of our grandmothers forwarded to our mothers…and then to us….

KÖNIGSBERGER KLOPSE IN CREAMY CAPER SAUCE

Für die Klößchen (for the Meat Balls):
250 g Rinderhackfleisch (Ground Beef)
250 g Schweinehackfleisch (pork minced meat)
1 Brötchen, eingeweicht (in water soaked roll) 
1 große Zwiebel(n) (big onion)
2 Ei(er) (eggs)
2 EL Paniermehl (2 soup spoons bread crumbs)
Salz (salt)
Pfeffer (pepper)
etwas Sardellenpaste (some anchovy paste)

Für die Brühe (for the stock / bouillon):
1 Liter Fleischbrühe, klare (Bouillon)
Salz (salt)
1 große Zwiebel(n) (big onion)
1 Lorbeerblatt (bay leaf)
3 Körner Piment (3 corns of pimento)
3 Pfefferkörner (3 corns of black pepper)

Für die Sauce:
3 EL Butter
2 EL Mehl (flour)
Zucker (sugar)
Zitronensaft (Lemon Juice)
375 ml Brühe vom Kochen der Klopse (Bouillon from meat ball cooking)
125 ml Sahne (creme)
Kapern, 1 Röhrchen (caper, 1 glass)
1 Eigelb (egg yolk)
Salz und Pfeffer (salt & pepper)

Außerdem: 1 kl. Bund Petersilie, zum Garnieren. Besides: 1 Little bundle of parsley for decoration.

Das Rezept ist für 4 Portionen kalkuliert. The recipe is for 4 person.

Zubereitung (Preparation)
Arbeitszeit: ca. 45 Min. / Koch-/Backzeit: ca. 40 Min. / Schwierigkeitsgrad: normal / Kalorien p. P.: ca. 754 kcal

Klopse (Meat Balls):
Aus Hackfleisch, dem ausgedrückten Brötchen und der geschälten, fein gehackten Zwiebel in einer Schüssel mit den zwei Eiern, Salz und Pfeffer einen geschmeidigen Fleischteig kneten. Den Klopsteig mit Paniermehl binden. Je nach persönlichem Geschmack kann auch noch ein wenig Sardellenpaste hinzugefügt werden. Aus der Teigmasse Klopse formen.

Brühe (Bouillon):
Die geschälte, klein gehackte Zwiebel und die Gewürze in die Brühe geben. Brühe erhitzen, evtl. nachsalzen. Die Klopse in die Brühe geben und ca. 10 Minuten köcheln lassen. Dann das Lorbeerblatt, die Pfefferkörner und Pimentkörner herausnehmen. Die Klopse in der Brühe in weiteren ca. 10 Minuten gar ziehen lassen. Dann herausnehmen und abgedeckt warm stellen.

Kapernsauce (Caper Sauce):
Butter erhitzen. Mehl darin anschwitzen. Mit der Brühe unter Rühren ablöschen. Die abgetropften Kapern und die Sahne hinzugeben. Die Sauce nun nicht mehr kochen lassen. Mit Zitronensaft, Zucker, Salz und Pfeffer süß-sauer abschmecken. Anschließend ein Eigelb zum Legieren in die Sauce rühren, die Klopse hineinlegen und mit der Petersilie garniert servieren.

“GUTEN APPETIT!”

ostpreuss.jpg

East Prussia – Ostpreussen is today a part of Russia, Poland and Lithuania.

Further Details about The Evacuation of East Prussia and Königsberg

In 1944 the medieval city of Königsberg, which had never been severely damaged by warfare in its 700 years of existence, was almost completely destroyed by two RAF Bomber Command raids — the first on the night of 26/27 August 1944, with the second one three nights later, overnight on 29/30 August 1944. Winston Churchill (The Second World War, Book XII) had erroneously believed it to be “a modernized heavily defended fortress” and ordered its destruction.

Gauleiter Erich Koch protracted the evacuation of the German civilian population until the Eastern Front approached the East Prussian border in 1944. The population had been systematically misinformed by Endsieg Nazi propaganda about the real state of military affairs. As a result, many civilians fleeing westward were overtaken by retreating Wehrmacht units and the rapidly advancing Red Army.

Reports of Soviet atrocities in the Nemmersdorf massacre of October 1944 and organized rape spread fear and desperation among the civilians — leading to collective suicides of entire villages of old people, women & Children left behind by their men servicing in the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces).

Thousands lost their lives during the sinkings (by Soviet submarine) of the refugee ships Wilhelm Gustloff, the Goya, and the General von Steuben.

Königsberg surrendered on 9 April 1945, following the desperate four-day Battle of Königsberg. The number of civilians killed is estimated to be at least 320,000.

However, most of the German inhabitants, which then consisted primarily of women, children and old men, did manage to escape the Red Army as part of the largest exodus of people in human history: “A population of East Prussia which had stood at 2.2 million in 1940 was reduced to 193,000 at the end of May 1945.”

Following Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II in 1945, East Prussia was partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union according to the Potsdam Conference.

Southern East Prussia was placed under Polish administration, while northern East Prussia was divided between the Soviet republics of Russia (the Kaliningrad Oblast) and Lithuania (the constituent counties of the Klaipėda Region).

The city of Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. Most of the German population of the province had left during the evacuation at the end of the war, but several hundreds of thousands died during the years 1944–46 and the remainder were subsequently expelled.

Germany losses

Tipp No. 153: “Merciless, Thinking Illustrations & Cartoons” – by Gerhard Haderer (Austria)

arts, Cartoons, Creatures, humor, Insights, Psychologie, psychology, Reisen, Tipps, Travel
migration crisis
Adolf HItler, an Austrian migrant in Germany
Think Big! (right-wing populists: Trump, Geert Wilders / Netherlands, Boris Johnson / UK)…the Blonde Marie Le Pen / France and others are missing…
climate conference
Xmas Gifts
Dear Syrians Welcome!
Here in Austria, it is veeery “schiach” (bad / difficult / ugly)!
Germany is much more beautiful!
Or Sweden or England!
Besides we have got Mr Strache and the FPÖ (right-wing party in the government).
Have a lot of fun on your continued journey!

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Gerhard Haderer (born 1951 in Leonding, Austria) is an Austrian cartoonist and caricaturist.

Haderer studied at a technical art school in Linz for four years from 1965, and then studied engraving in Stockholm Gerhard Haderer (born 1951 in Leonding, Austria) is an Austrian cartoonist and caricaturist.

He returned to Austria in 1971 and worked as an independent commercial artist and draughtsman. He developed his photo-realistic style working on advertising, illustrations, and even designing maps for the Salzburg tourist board.

In 1985, after a cancer operation, he abandoned his commercial career to become a freelance caricaturist and satirical illustrator.
His first satirical works appeared in the upper-Austrian magazines “Watzmann”, “ORF-Ventil” and “Oberösterreichische Nachrichten”.
He soon began to appear regularly in the Austrian weekly “Profil” to which he still contributes.
His work then began to appear in newspapers and magazines in other German speaking countries.
Since 1991 his work has appeared regularly in Germany’s “Stern” magazine as “Haderers Wochenschau” (“Haderers weekly news”).

From 1997 to 2000, and from 2008 he published his own monthly satirical comics magazine called “Moff”.
He has produced designs for several satirical puppet shows.

Honors:
2001: Deutscher Karikaturenpreis, Geflügelter Bleistift in Gold (German caricature prize, winged pencil in gold)
2008: Goldenes Verdienstzeichen des Landes Wien (Golden Merit of Vienna)

Tipp No. 100: “Anthropocene” – Amazing Landscape and Industrial Photography by Edward Burtynsky (Canada)

arts, Insights, Kunst, Movie, Nature

It was a tough decision to select examples of EDWARD BURTYNSKY`s brilliant series of landscape and industrial photography.

Well, I would like to introduce the ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT that includes a collection of remarkable photographic insights to you…

“[We] come from nature.…There is an importance to [having] a certain reverence for what nature is because we are connected to it… If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.”
– Edward Burtynsky

Phosphor Tailings Point #4
Near Lakeland, Florida / USA 2012
Saw Mills #1,
Lagos / Nigeria 2016
Imperial Valley #4
California, USA 2009
Lithium Mines #1
Salt Flats, Atacama Desert, Chile 2017
Clearcut #2
Palm Oil Plantation, Borneo / Malaysia 2016

THE AESTHETIC OF DESTRUCTION

To talk about “Terraforming” of the Earth by mining, urbanization, indus-trialization, industrialized agriculture, deforestation, etc. that is resulting in a reduction of biodiversity, climate changes, equalized biogeographies etc. is a minimization in my view. Let`s face the truth…it is bare destruction.

EDWARD BURTYNSKY is able to capture moments of heart-breaking beauty even within all this destruction. Sometimes it takes a second till you realize the entire scenario. I think, this smart twist contributes to the feeling of disturbance, his work is leaving.

FINE ARTS TO MAKE THE UNSEEN VISIBLE AND TO RISE AWARENESS

Watching his outstanding landscape photography involuntary leaves you with the impression that our planet is eaten alive — by us.

Deadly injured, covered with open wounds and scars, the Earth still provides us with all resopurces we need to further expand, dominate the creation and grow our population without any rhyme or reason.

Desparation, feeling helpless, and guilty… Let`s begin with changing ourself. I am sure that each one of us knows best where and how he is able to reduce his personal ecological footprint….Right?

BY THE WAY, WHAT IS THE “ANTHROPOCENE”?

Admittedly, I had to look it up….

The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change. Various different start dates for the Anthropocene have been proposed, ranging from the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution 12,000–15,000 years ago, to as recent as the Trinity test in 1945.
The most recent period of the Anthropocene has been referred to by several authors as the Great Acceleration during which the socioeconomic and earth system trends are increasing dramatically, especially after the Second World War. (wikipedia)

Ähnliches Foto
Anthropocene – The Sinkhole in Guatemala City (image of the ETH Zurich)

ABOUT THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT

Another collaboration from Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky, and Jennifer Baichwal, The Anthropocene Project is a multimedia exploration of the complex and indelible human signature on the Earth.

Originally conceived as a photographic essay and the third in a trilogy of films including Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013), the project quickly evolved to include film installations, large-scale Burtynsky High-Resolution Murals enhanced by film extensions, 360° VR short films, and augmented reality installations.

Embracing and developing innovative techniques, the trio embarked on an epic journey around the world (to every continent save Antarctica) to capture the most spectacular evidence of human influence, while taking time to reflect on the deeper meaning of what these profound transformations signify. The result is a collection of experiences that will immerse viewers in the new world of the Anthropocene epoch, delivering a sense of scale, gravity, and impact that both encompasses and moves beyond the scope of conventional screens and prints.

The project includes:

  • a major travelling museum exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada before it will travel to Manifattura di Arti, Sperimentazione e Tecnologia (MAST) in Bologna in Spring 2019;
  • a new release of Edward Burtynsky photographs;
  • a feature documentary film;
  • immersive interactive experiences in augmented and virtual reality;
  • an art book published by Steidl;
  • and a comprehensive educational program.

theanthropocene.org

IN THE NEWS (09th Jan. 2019): ANTHROPOCENE won $100K Rogers Best Canadian Film Award – Congratulations!

ABOUT EDWARD BURTYNSKY

Edward Burtynsky (born February 22, 1955) is Canadian photographer and artist known for his large format photographs of industrial landscapes. His work is housed in more than 60 museums including the Guggenheim Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Tate Modern in London, the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris and others.

Burtynsky received his BAA in Photography/ Media Studies from Ryerson University in 1982, and in 1985 founded Toronto Image Works, a darkroom rental facility, custom photo laboratory, digital imaging and new media computer-training centre catering to all levels of Toronto’s art community.

Early exposure to the sites and images of the General Motors plant (the workplace of his father) in his hometown helped to formulate the development of his photographic work. His imagery explores the collective impact we as a species are having on the surface of the planet; an inspection of the human systems we’ve imposed onto natural landscapes. 

Edward Burtynsky won several well-known prices & awards (e.g. Officer of The Order of Canada in 2006) and received several honorary doctorates.

Furthermore, he is an active lecturer on photographic art, who is welcome in various notable galleries, universities and libraries.

His images appear in numerous periodicals each year including Canadian Art, Art in America, The Smithsonian Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Flash Art, Blind Spot, Art Forum, Saturday Night, National Geographic and the New York Times.

For further details, please feel free to visit his website that contains more galleries of awesome photos, an overview of his publications and EDWARD BURTYNSKY`s event calendar:

https://www.edwardburtynsky.com/

Insight No. 34: Upgrade Your Life – Downgrade Your House – 3M Houses (Modular, Mobile, Micro) – Mini Häuser

Insights, Tipps
nomadhome_nacht

THE HOUSING MARKET – A DISASTER!

THE SOLUTION: TINY, MICRO, MOBILE, MODULAR MINI HOUSES?

THE SITUATION:

800 Applicants for one 2-room appartment in Berlin

  • shortage of affordable living space in particular in cities and small towns

Euro 160.000,- for 40 sqm appartment in Hamburg

  • Escape into “concrete Gold” due to no-interest policies in financial markets and the Outlook of another even bigger financial crisis in 3-5 years

Rising number of job nomads due to increasing number of temporary labor contracts and desire to improve life quality

  • requires increased demand of mobility – also covering housing

Rapidly aging Population in Germany

  • increases demand for smaller, obstacle-free appartments in cities and small towns that are offering a better service infrastructure and social life.

Rising number of Single households

  • cause booming demand for small appartments in cities

Rising cost and  lack of building sites

  • leads to usage of alternative building sites like roof tops,gaps between buildings,  use of the garden of your parents to build your tiny house – or house boat Solutions

Trend to simplify our life by reduction of consumption, to use shared economy service offerings and to foster minimalism

  • growing demand for simple, flexible, mobile, multifunctional, and smart housing Solutions

Decreasing purchasing power

  • increasing demand for low-budget houses Euro in the Price range of Euro 80K – 110K excl. building site and admin cost.

EXAMPLES OF MICRO HOUSES IN SERIAL PRODUCTION

EXAMPLES OF NARROW / SLIM HOUSES

EXAMPLES OF ROOF-TOP HOUSING

IMPRESSIONS OF MICRO HOUSE INERIOR

MODULAR, MINI HOUSES:

  • Nomad Houses
  • Option, Weber Haus
  • Cubig Houses
  • Fincube
  • Smart House
  • and so on

Delivery Time: approx. 6 months

Build-up: 1 – 2 days

Cost dependent on size in sqm: About Euro 60K – 120K and scope of extras, interior selection and personal contribution

Shared No. 117: “Family Photo Friday!” — by John Spiers (Blog: My Life With Gracie”)

arts, Cartoons, Creatures, humor, Insights, Kunst, Nature, Tipps, Zen

Last Saturday, I set up what you might call “The Smallest Book Promotion Booth In The World” at out church’s annual Flower Festival. (All royalties from the book until December 31st of this year will go to support the mission of St. John’s Church.) The little wooden stepladder was the one my chickens used when […]

Family Photo Friday! — My Life With Gracie

Postcard No. 31: “ALNWICK” – Alnwick Poison Gardens, England

humor, Insights, Nature, Oddities, Reisen, Tipps, Travel
The gate to the garden
Arum Lilies – Don`t stop, touch, eat and smell!
Childrens must be accompanied at all times.

While the trumpet plant Brugmansia was described by the duchess as “an amazing aphrodisiac before it kills you” and relaying that Victorian ladies sprinkled the pollen in their tea for LSD-inspired effects, further research into this plant suggests that the kind death it serves up is nowhere near pleasant – causing sweat-soaked convulsions and foaming at the mouth.

Ready for an adventure? …then enter the Alnwick Poison Garden in Northumberland.

ALNWICK – Alongside the typical gardens you would expect to see near an English castle is the Poison Garden of Alnwick. Behind the locked gates of the Poison Garden, guides share tales of deadly plants. Myths and legends are uncovered, along with facts from science and history.

Established in 2005, this unusual garden houses more than one hundred infamous killers; plants that throughout history have been responsible for countless deaths and illnesses, and used by many as an instrument of murder.

An unusual botanical garden, where only deadly or narcotic flowers are grown, this strange Alnwick Poison Garden was the idea of duchess Jane Percy and it was opened in 2005.

The opening required many of government’s permissions, as the garden is host to many dangerous plants, such as cannabis, opium poppies, magic mushrooms, deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), hemlock (Conium maculatum) and much more.

Before entering the garden you will see the signs with warnings not to touch the flowers or even to smell them, as it can be deadly. The walk in this garden can be compared to walk on the edge, but at least it makes it fun.

For more details, please visit the gardens website:
https://web.archive.org/web/20150405215459/http://www.alnwickgarden.com/explore/whats-here/the-poison-garden

Insight No. 121: “What Boris Johnson doesn`t understand about No Deal Brexit” +++ Informed Decision-Making – by TLDR News UK

Insights, Oddities, Tipps
Sorry, but ….Mr. Johnson don`t know the WTO rules
…or he is simply ignoring them to promote a no deal Brexit….respectively his career development.

ABOUT INFORMED DECISION-MAKING

WTO GATT Article 24, § 5 a + b + c and § 7 very well-explained.
Please, take a few minutes and have a look into the unbiased presentation of TLDR UK News above if you´re interested in facts.

GATT Article 24 does not provide any preferential treatment of UK after a no-deal Brexit.

An “Agreement” with EU is required.
To fall back on Art. 24 GATT requires an AGREEMENT with EU and a Brexit execution plan and trade agreement because art. 24 only provides an interim solution till an already existing plan will be effective.
Each single WTO member (in total: 164!) will be able to have a say.
They can provide recommendations (UK and EU would have to agree on), and they are able to exercise a veto right.
That is the reason why GATT art. 24 was never used before.

….and there is no backstop solution ahead either.

Insight No. 120: TAX JUSTICE ahead – FRANCE will introduce 3% taxes on the revenue of internet companies

Insights

FRANCE BECOMES A FIRST MOVER IN TAX JUSTICE

The French government has proposed a new tax in the country, that would charge large internet companies including Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook a 3% levy on their revenues.

The French parliament approved a law on last Thursday that would make France the first major economy to impose a tax on internet heavyweights (aside of Austria).

The proposed 3% tax on French revenue of large internet companies is expected to pass the French Senate and could yield €500m (£450m) a year.

Dubbed the Gafa tax – an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – the legislation will target companies with at least €750m (£675m) in annual revenues and apply to revenue from digital business, such as online advertising.
The US said it was “very concerned” by the planned digital service tax, a move which could see the States retaliate by imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions.

In a statement announcing the investigation, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said there were concerns the tax “unfairly targets American companies”, although all global corporations will be impacted by the tax rules.

President Donald Trump has ordered an investigation into the digital tax.

Lighthizer said the US president had directed the investigation find out whether the tax is “discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce”.

Previous investigations by the US have included Chinese trade practices and EU subsidies on large commercial aircraft.

The tax would hit some 30 companies, many of which are American, but also Chinese, German, Spanish and British companies.
One French firm and several firms with French origins that have been taken over by foreign companies will also be included in the tax plans.

ENGLAND IS PLANNING TO INTRODUCE 2% NEXT YEAR

The UK is also planning a similar digital services tax of 2% on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces serving UK customers, which is due to come into force next year. The tax would be applied only to companies with global revenues in excess of £500m and revenue of at least £25m from UK activities.

The proposals were detailed in the Treasury’s latest draft finance bill on Thursday, which is now out for consultation, and could risk a similar US reaction.

France has led a push for internet companies with significant digital revenue in the EU to pay more tax at source, but has made little headway as Germany is cool on the idea, while member states with low corporate tax rates such as Luxembourg and Ireland firmly oppose the proposal.

HOW LONG WILL GERMANY CONTINUE TO HESITATE?

In Germany, the introduction of so called “transaction taxes” in response to tax evasion and tax avoidance – not limited to internet / e-commerce & advertisement giants was subject to discussion too. Actually, there is a wide-spread consensus among the citizens and SME`s that these corporations and institutions shall be forced to pay their fair share of taxes like any other company or the people.

Actually, the German government didn`t keep its promise yet because of concerns that the German automobile industry might suffer from US sanctions in response to closing tax loopholes. As already reported, the States are considering to initiate a trade war with the EU to rescue struggling BOEING and to punish the EU over AIRBUS for not supporting US foreign policies and sanctions (e.g. Iran, Syria, Qatar, China etc.).

In my view, US tariffs e.g. on cars, aircraft etc. might result in a break-through in coordinated EU tax policies because there won`t be no reason left to hesitate. Also considering the fact that thousands of automobile industry jobs will be lost anyway as soon as e-cars substitute conventional cars.

In my opinion, taxes on internet business revenues shall be introduced in any case. No fair tax payments – No Sales. I hope, the other 27EU members – and in particular Germany – will support France and UK and follow them asap.

From a German perspective, there would be no reason to be an EU member state and net payer if the EU is not able to close lines in case of trade war threats – including tax evasion / unfair competition and anti-social business practices.