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Tag: Austria

Enoch Powell on Sebastian Kurz

Monday, 27 May, 2019

At 32, Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Chancellor, is the world’s youngest state leader. Or was. Kurz has just lost a confidence vote in parliament and must now wait until President Alexander Van der Bellen decides who is going to run the country until elections take place in September.

Enoch Powell, the classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist, poet and Conservative Member of Parliament, was right when he said that all political careers end in failure. Actually, what Powell said was: “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.”

The political life of Sebastian Kurz has just taken a knock at an unhappy juncture for Austria but he’s only 32 so he’s far from midstream yet.


The unmasking of the overrated Martin Selmayr

Friday, 29 December, 2017 0 Comments

This is deft and devastating: “The Selmayrs are by origin Bavarians, who have always seen themselves as European rather than Germans — except during the Third Reich.” That pause there is masterful and it’s the work of Daniel Johnson in the current issue of Standpoint magazine.

Martin Selmayr is the latest scion of this ancient family to make news and he bears the capital title of “HEAD OF CABINET” in what the Brussels bubble calls “President Juncker’s team“. The admiration of the young bureaucrat ends at the English Channel, however. Selmayr has few friends in London as he is “blamed for a series of malicious leaks during the Brexit negotiations, ranging from unflattering remarks about Theresa May’s appearance to preparatiosn for the fall of her government,” notes Daniel Johnson, who sees him as a combination of “gatekeeper, enforcer and eminence grise in a manner reminiscent of the Merovingian emperors of the Dark Ages, who were ruled by the mayors of the palace.”

For Johnson, much of what makes the junior Selmayr what he has is and what he has become can be found in the ‘journey’ of Josef Selmayr, a truly opportunistic, amoral piece of work. Snippet:

“Martin’s grandfather Josef was a professional soldier during the Weimar Republic and later rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Wehrmacht. He was imprisoned for war crimes in the Balkans, but only briefly. Josef Selmayr’s experience made him useful in the Cold War and led to his rehabilitation: first as a member of the shadowy Gehlen Organisation, a CIA-funded group of former Nazi intelligence officers, then from 1955 to 1964 as the first director of MAD, the German Military Counterintelligence Service, with the rank of Brigadier. His career paralleled that of Kurt Waldheim, whose role in war crimes in the Balkans did not prevent him later becoming UN Secretary General and Austrian President.”

Daniel Johnson points out that the Selmayrs are a family of public servants in an long-standing German tradition of an elite offering its skills for the development of an idealised sate. “Fatally, they conflated the Nazi state with the rule of law.” To make amends for this blot on the copybook, as it were, Martin Selmayr “has always seen Europe as a source of redemption from Hitler’s toxic legacy.”

For these people, Britain was, and Brexit now is, the nemesis. It threatens their vision of Utopia and no amount of Utopian Europe, with its killing fields, bloodlands and mass barbarism, can deter them. The Project must be completed.

Martin Selmayr


Autumn in the Alps

Saturday, 18 November, 2017 0 Comments

Specializing in what it calls “Aerial solutions for film production,” 5kdigitalfilm is a production facility based in Austria and the UK. Its clip, “Perpetual Change — Autumn in the Alps,” captures the beauty and solitude we experience amidst the great mountains.

“But if there was something roguish and fantastic about the immediate vicinity through which you laboriously made your way, the towering statues of snow-clad Alps, gazing down from the distance, awakened in you feelings of the sublime and holy.” — Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain


The Austria-Italy border fault line

Sunday, 8 May, 2016 0 Comments

Temperature’s rising in the run up to the second round of Austria’s presidential election vote on 22 May. The first round was won by Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party and he’s riding a popular wave of opposition to immigration, Islam and Italy. But it doesn’t stop there. “Vogliamo un Tirolo di nuovo unito. Renzi e Merkel sono scafisti di Stato,” is the headline in La Repubblica and it highlights how Hofer’s party is dissing the Italian and German leaders, while pressing the old “Greater Austria” button of bringing the “lost” northern Italian province of South Tyrol “home”, as it were. Pictures of the violent clashes at the Brenner Pass between Austria and Italy yesterday are adding to the tension on the border and should play to Hofer’s advantage a fortnight from today.

South Tyrol poster


The Austrian exception

Friday, 10 April, 2015 0 Comments

Did you know that Austria has alarmingly high smoking rates? In the young adult bracket (18–28 years), 52 percent of men smoke as do 34 percent of women. One would imagine, then, that the “Alpine Republic”, would be eager to eradicate this extreme danger to public health, but none of it. After years of bickering, the country’s governing parties have just agreed that a general ban on smoking in bars, cafes and restaurants will be introduced in May — 2018. Landlords and landladies are up in arms against the legislation, claiming that their businesses will suffer, but we’ve heard it all before.

Stub it out


Payments: Facebook has a message for paij

Wednesday, 18 March, 2015 0 Comments

Facebook hired PayPal’s David Marcus last summer to manage its messaging products, and in the company’s July earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg implied that a payment product was coming. And here it is: Facebook users can tie their debit card to their account to transfer money to one another with Messenger. “The Messenger app now includes a small ‘$’ icon above the keyboard which opens a payments screen where users can type the amount they wish to send,” reports Kurt Wagner for Re/code. The feature will be rolled out on iOS and Android in the US before launching internationally.

paij All of this will be watched with interest, no doubt, in Wiesbaden, where the paij app is headquartered. When the European Web Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were handed out last year, the Female Web entrepreneur Award went to Sylvia Klein, founder and managing director of paij. “Strategic partnerships and system integrations will help paij to determine the future of mobile payment apps initially in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and later Europe in general,” she stated. “In the long haul paij has the potential to establish a mobile payment concept taking on global challenges.”

The “long haul” has a short shelf life these days and it’s not just Facebook’s Messenger that’s ante portas. Apple Pay is shaping up to be part of that “global challenge” that paij will have to deal with. By the way, paij might need to move up a gear or two if it’s develop a convincing European battlespace strategy. The company’s last tweet was on 18 February, the most recent Facebook post was on 2 March and those to click the blog link on the company’s site get this alert:

Welcome to Parallels!

If you are seeing this message, the website for blog.paij.com is not available at this time.
If you are the owner of this website, one of the following things may be occurring:
You have not put any content on your website.
Your provider has suspended this page.

Obviously, paij needs to work on its messaging.


Conchita Wurst for the prize; Malta for the holidays

Saturday, 10 May, 2014 0 Comments

The hot money is on Tom Neuwirth, aka Conchita Wurst, to win the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria in Copenhagen tonight with Rise Like a Phoenix. After the gender neutral Tom/Conchita had been selected to represent the Alpine republic, the Ministry of Information in Belarus received a petition calling on BTRC, the state broadcaster, to edit his/her song out of its Eurovision presentation, claiming that the performance would turn the event “into a hotbed of sodomy.” A similar petition surfaced in Russia, but as both nations are represented in tonight’s final round, their peoples will have to endure the “Western decadence”.

Meanwhile, Rainy Day is placing a side bet on Malta. Coming Home is a delicious pop/folk song inspired in no small way by Mumford & Sons.


Austrian word of the day: Marillenknödel

Sunday, 8 September, 2013 0 Comments

In lower Austria, apricots are called “Marillen” and they grow in abundance in the Wachau region. They play a central role in Marillenknödel, a seasonal dessert popular in the traditional cuisine of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, from Brno to Vienna. It’s made by placing apricots in small dumplings, which are then boiled in slightly salted […]

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Leaving the euro: a practical guide

Friday, 6 July, 2012

The Economist and Daily Telegraph columnist Roger Bootle has won the £250,000 Wolfson Prize for Economics for devising the “smoothest” plan for a break-up of the eurozone. According to Bootle, the optimal solution would involve a northern monetary union centered on Germany, and including Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and maybe Finland and Belgium. Given […]

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Fiddling with finance and violins

Monday, 19 March, 2012

Greg Smith, the Goldman Sachs director who dropped the bomb on Wall Street last week in a public resignation letter, said he was leaving the firm after 12 years because it was “morally bankrupt”. Indignation and outrage, especially in Europe, followed Smith’s condemnation of his ex-employer, but this was tempered by the recognition of the key role, especially in Europe, that the Goldmen now play in the continent’s financial affairs. Alban violin Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, was once a Goldman Sachs director; Lucas Papademos, the Greek Prime Minister, was head of the country’s Central Bank, where he worked closely with Goldman Sachs to help the government disguise the true extent of its deficit, and Mario Monti was an international adviser to Goldman Sachs from 2005 until his nomination to lead the Italian government in November last year. And on and on and on.

What a pleasure it is, then, to leave the corrupt world of global finance to one side and turn to the violin. Rosin the bow, tune up, play a melody and one is instantly transported to a serene state in which the soul soars above the grubby world of Mammon. But wait, what’s this? “I can remember selling a violin which was considered to be by this maker at auction, and which was described as Tyrolese. It had a label inside: Matthias Alban, geigenmacher in Bozen. I saw it again a few months after the sale, now described as an Italian violin, and with a label which read Matteo Albani fece in Bolzano.” Oh, dear. The post “How the violin trade works” makes for sobering reading. Snippet:

“Italian violins, though, are far easier to sell, and far more expensive than Tyrolese examples. Since the early 19th Century, therefore, Alban’s original labels have been removed and fake labels, in Latin, have been inserted… All these labels are completely different — some are printed, some are written in ink. Those that are printed have completely different fonts. Those that are written have completely different handwriting. They’re all fake, of course.”

Truly, the serpent that tempted Eve in the garden has found eager disciples in every trade on every street and the wonderful works of Matthias Alban have not been spared, alas. But all is not lost and visitors to the Tiroler Landesmuseen in Innsbruck in Austria can explore a comprehensive violin collection that includes the finest example of his work: Built in 1706, “This extraordinarily beautiful master instrument was acquired in 1966 from a Swiss collection. The violin is preserved largely in its original state; only the neck was re-fashioned to meet the increased demands for intonation that most composers called for after 1800.”

Tomorrow, here, purple pencil prose.


Egon Schiele in red with snow

Sunday, 29 January, 2012

“When they came to his studio to place him under arrest, the police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. Schiele was imprisoned while awaiting his trial. When his case was brought before a judge, the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic […]

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