Miscellaneous Sustainability

Meat you halfway?

I have been following the trend towards more plant-based foods. I think this is important. For health reasons. For ethical reasons. And for climate reasons. Now, if this is good, how do we get there and increase the number of people embarking at least on a partially plant-based diet?

There are two approaches:

One is to restrict the offerings and make it somewhat harder for people to get their daily sausage. I have just come across Berkeley. It is the first US city planning to eliminate all animal products it serves. So for employees, it will be less convenient if they want to have an animal-based (is this the correct term to describe the opposite of plant-based?) meal. They have to get out and search for diners, restaurants, or food joints. Staying within the organization and have a plant-based meal is more convenient. Cool move by the Major and the Council.

For most company or university restaurants it would be nice to see plant-based meals to be the default and meat to be the exception. How about a Meat-Monday?

The second option is to make plant-based food really desirable and win over the most passionate carnivores. Vegan butchers (although this term seems to be a contradiction within itself) might go a long way in this direction:

Additionally, if you like the yummy taste of European sausages HEDI might be your supplier (the page is in German only).

However. I am not sure if plant-based food should ‘copy’ meat-based products. For certain occasions and certain cravings, this may be helpful. If perfect, this might win over some customers. But showing consumers that a plant-based diet has more to offer – in terms of taste and texture – can be a worthwhile endeavor.



Today, maybe in search for a ‘side-hustle’ (was it boredom that drove me?), I ran into a nice and brief essay by Josh Pillay about the very same thing: boredom

Perhaps our attitudes to boredom are really a by-product of our insatiable need for excitement and entertainment – an expectation and anticipation that something has to happen in any given moment.

Josh Pillay

At the end of the essay, Josh Pillay advises that

It is time we reinstated an active and joyful engagement with the natural world and its changing seasons,

I can full-heartedly agree with that, having been out in the dunes today and seeing tens of thousands of pasqueflowers—what a great sight. I want to share just a simple image. The weather, the flowers, just marvelous.

Art Design Miscellaneous

Death in Venice?

Rather to the contrary, I hope. Its about life.

On May 22, the 2021 Biennale Architektura opens its door. The bold question How will We Live Together? is the overarching theme of the exhibition.

Hashim Sarkis the curator of the exhibition says:

The world is putting new challenges in front of architecture … I look forward to working with participating architects from around the world to imagine together how we are going to rise to these challenges.

Hashim Sarkis

Nicely put, but – if you ask me – a bit too weak an expression on the first page of the Biennales website. The topic has been set well before the pandemic and was expected to focus on climate change, migration, and political polarization. Now the pandemic will put its mark on the exhibition as an additional aspect.

If you want to see what the Biennale has to offer in this department, then you might be itching to go to Venice because – and now sit tight – the event is supposed to be a physical event. For one reason or the other, you and I might share the fate that we cannot attend. Luckily, some countries such as Estonia, Switzerland, Lithuania, Great Britain, Finland, and Luxembourg provide a self-organized online platform to supplement the main event. This initiative is joined by other countries as well.

The platform:

I am very much looking forward to spending time at the virtual part of the Biennale this year.

Innovation Miscellaneous

Crisis and Small Scale Innovation

My colleague Johannes Dahlke summarizes his thoughts and a paper of ours under the headline ‘Why we need to support small-scale innovation projects during crises‘. There are three reasons:

1) People are willing and capable of generating crisis-driven innovations in their communities.

2) Being part of innovative solutions creates a sense of purpose and control.

3) We need to support crisis-driven innovation at the local level.

In my opinion his most important thought in Johannes’ piece is the following.

To make it clear: This is not at all to be understood as an argument for handing over complete responsibility to citizens by loosening restrictions or launching reopening projects for political gains at the risk of vulnerable groups.

[Please note that in the following paragraphs I blow off some steam.]

Johannes wrote this on May 2. But today (May 6), it is even more true – especially the reopening part of the statement.

The German parliament has voted for loosening restrictions for fully vaccinated people and cured COVID patients. In Germany, we have less than 15% of the population this applies to, so no big deal, you might say. I still consider this move a thoughtless one. For two reasons: First, I do not see how you can possibly control this and enforce the remaining restrictions that might limit our freedom to save lives. In particular, the new quarantine rule sounds rather unenforceable. Second, being an economist, I strongly believe softened requirements are an incentive for creating a sizeable black market for vaccination documents (think: forged driving licenses for underage drinkers in the US). I frankly do not believe that this brings out the solidarity of people to carefully forego immediate satisfaction of needs for a greater common good.

Where are the politicians that call for solidarity by the vaccinated with the not yet vaccinated? To me, it looks like a move for political gains by all the parties in the parliament that I take seriously. After all, federal elections are coming up in autumn this year.

Just as human dignity, health is a fundamental human right that needs to be protected by the government because people cannot simply solve a pandemic on their own.

Johannes, I could not agree more.

Design Miscellaneous Visualization

Colors? What Colors?

I have to admit that I am not completely color blind, but I have some issues with red and green. I only recognize a 17 in the image below. Others – I am told – also see a 42.

Maybe this is why I opted for a clear black and white contrast in the re-launch of my website. After seeing the image below, I am even happier that I choose an easy and not ambiguous color scheme.

Colors can be deceptive. Look at this and decide whether you see balls of different colors.

If you believe that the balls are of different colors – shades of blue, red, and green – then you are not color blind, but the whole optical illusion worked.

Frankly, I could not believe it. I really had to test it with the pipette tool in Powerpoint (not any fancy graphical applications). Here are the colors of the top row of the balls (the ones that are cut off a bit):