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Arnon Grunberg - Blog

The day-to-day life of Arnon Grunberg


Sotto voce

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 13:40:14 +0200



Overheard in Central Park.
Man: "A man walks into a bar and says: 'A girl in Sydney gave me a sexual transmitted disease."
Woman: "Is this a joke? I don't get it."
Man: "It's a joke, but the joke isn't finished yet."
He finishes the joke sotto voce.
Woman: "I still don't get it."
Man: "It's maybe hard to explain."



Sat, 24 Jun 2017 16:19:28 +0200



James Kanter in NYT on The Beatles and The Brexit:

'Earlier in the day, several European leaders urged Britain to reverse course and remain a member of the European Union.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, the body that organizes summit meetings, invoked the John Lennon song “Imagine” in discussing his hopes for a change of heart.

“Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed, and whether I could imagine an outcome where the U.K. stays part of the E.U.,” Mr. Tusk told reporters. “I told them that, in fact, the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So, who knows? You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”'

Read the article here.

I don't believe that Tusk is a dreamer. We can safely bet on a Brexit-in-name-only.



Fri, 23 Jun 2017 07:05:52 +0200



One of my nephews is visiting the US. He is here for a summer camp, or so he told me, he is going to be a youth leader.
For about twenty minutes he was in my apartment, he liked it a lot. But the glasses were not kosher enough, he needed a plastic cup.
We went to a kosher restaurant, where he played with his two phones. We drank a beer and he munched on French fries.
At the corner of 34th and 7th we said good-bye. We hugged each other. I wanted to get back into my cab but he said: "Let's hug a bit longer."



Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:06:37 +0200



Ten days ago or so I had drinks and dinner with a lady and her daughter. I hardly knew them, but it was a pleasant evening. Evenings with strangers can be very pleasant.
Two days later I got a text message from this lady: "I had to ask the doorman at my hotel for fifty dollars because my credit card wasn't working. Could you send him a check? Of course I will reimburse you."
I answered: "No problem." I refrained from asking further questions.
Since the hotel was in a neighborhood not far from where I live I decided to hand the money personally to the doorman.
We had exchanged a few messages, but despite these messages he appeared to be surprised to see me.
It was a small effort, but when I left the hotel I felt I had done a good deed.



Wed, 21 Jun 2017 06:26:35 +0200



Lunch in Amsterdam (Bolenius) dinner in New York (Sant Ambroeus) - traditions are important.
I discussed vacation in the Alto Adige with the manager at Sant Ambroeus.
"That's the best part of Italy," the manager said, "it's Italy, but it's also Germany. It's well-kept, it's clean."



Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:16:51 +0200



Tonight was the launch of the literary game "Hearts" or "Chasing Hearts" - based on a character in of my novels.
The idea is simple, you have to seduce a women by writing love letters to her.
One of the women in the audience wanted to know: "Am I writing to a machine or to a human being?"
"Well," I answered,"half machine, half human being."



Mon, 19 Jun 2017 00:37:55 +0200



The Guardian on extremism and content online:

"Google says its engineers have developed technology to prevent re-uploads of known terrorist content, using image-matching techniques.

Google will increase the number of independent experts in YouTube’s Trusted Flagger programme, and will expand its work with counter-extremism groups to help identify content that may be being used to radicalise.

It will take a tougher stance on videos that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content."

Read the article here.

This is great news. Now it comes down to the question: what is radical?

Just waiting for the technology to answer that question as well.



Sat, 17 Jun 2017 17:55:46 +0200



Friday night, the opening of the poetry festival in Berlin, Charlotte van den Broeck and I repeated our address on the occasion of the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016, which went just fine. A man asked: "Did you write it for this occasion?"
"Not tor this occasion," I answered.
What's an occasion after all? I was impressed by the poet Dagmara Kraus. Take a look at this line for example:

gott will immer alles panieren

Roughly translated : god always wants to bread everything

It's more than poetry, it's theology as well. Undoubtedly God prefers breaded things.



Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:11:00 +0200



In 2013 the International Literature Festival invited me to Berlin. The festival had arranged a reading for me in library in Marzahn, far east in Berlin.
People told me: "This must be a joke. There are only neo-Nazis in Marzahn."
"Well," I answered, "I'm going there, it's too late to say no."
The reading in Marzahn turned out to be one of the better readings in my life in Germany. And I didn't see any neo-Nazis in Marzahn.
Last night I was back in Marzahn for my third reading there. I plan three more readings in Marzahn before I'll go to Switzerland to die.



Thu, 15 Jun 2017 18:15:54 +0200



David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt on IS and cyber weapons in the NYT:

"In the endeavor, called Operation Glowing Symphony, the National Security Agency and its military cousin, United States Cyber Command, obtained the passwords of several Islamic State administrator accounts and used them to block out fighters and delete content. It was initially deemed a success because battlefield videos disappeared.

hat the material had been either restored or moved to other servers. That setback was first reported by The Washington Post.

The experience did not surprise veteran cyberoperators, who have learned, through hard experience, that cyberweapons buy time but rarely are a permanent solution. The attacks on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, begun in the George W. Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games, destroyed roughly 1,000 centrifuges and set back the Iranians by a year or so — the amount of time is still hotly disputed. But it created some room for a diplomatic negotiation."

Read the article here.

What kind of weapons offer a permanent solution?

And yes, it's reasonable to be wary about permanent solutions.