Alpine Peace Crossing 2012

Did you know that over 5000 European Jews had to flee Europe over the Alps in 1947, two years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust?

The Windbachtal valley in Salzburg, Austria.

The Windbachtal valley offers beautiful green and stone-grey vistas.

I did not, until 4 years ago. That’s when I first went on the Alpine Peace Crossing, an Alpine hike commemorating the flight of these Jews and dedicated to all refugees worldwide.
My father, brother and I participated again this year, along with about 170 others the weekend of 30 June. Continue reading

10% Equipment

I’d like to share two recent, related experiences:

  1. I was walking home from work today through Vienna’s Stadtpark and passed some tourists who took pictures of each other. They pointed their DSLRs at each other, almost directly facing the setting sun in the west, and I doubt their photos turned out as more than an underexposed mess.
  2. A friend recently asked me what camera they should buy to “shoot beautiful photos”.
Yellow Flowers

Yellow Flowers in Stadtpark, where I pass through on my way to work. (Shot with my digital compact.)

Continue reading

Liberal vs. Prohibitive society

Under any law, any given action is either permitted or prohibited. Under a liberal set of laws, anything is permitted unless it is expressly prohibited. Under a prohibitive set of laws, anything is prohibited unless expressly allowed.

In Western Liberal Democracies (a term we use in debating to denote a more or less coherent group of countries where classically liberal and democratic values are largely observed), the general idea has been to maintain liberal societies, where the state may only prohibit some specific actions which society deems harmful or dangerous.

I don’t think we live in such a society any more (if we ever have). More specifically, it does not seem that people think this way. Instead, when I hear people complain about something, they ask “Why is this permitted?”, “Why does the state allow this?” or “I can’t believe this is allowed!” Such statements express a sentiment that everything is prohibited unless allowed (and, even worse: allowed specifically only be the state, an authority we did not create ourselves). Where does this sentiment come from?

Continue reading

The Why The What The Who

Why I blog:

There is not enough debate in our world. We have plenty of quarreling, name-calling and talking past the point; however, most public discussions are no more than each participant positing their views as unshakable truth. Little if any convincing is ever attempted. I seriously believe this is a big problem in public discourse. Yes, we should argue, fight and battle with words—because you might be wrong, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk! I want to argue, persuade and convince. I expect others to do the same, which eventually leads to meaningful debate as we start to understand why we want to convince each other. From there, it is a small step to actually understand an opponents’ position and maybe not accept, but at least appreciate it.

What I blog:

Lots of things pass through my head every day, and this blog aims to document those that keep me pondering for more than an hour or so. Specifically, I want to focus on issues of law and economics, debating and public discourse, liberty and individualism, state action and policy as well as daily politics. You should still find plenty of distraction when I blog about photography and food.

Occasionally I might blog in German, especially on topics mostly relevant only to Austria. I apologize in advance.

Who I am:

I was born in 1986, grew up mostly in Austria and have lived in Vienna since 2005. There, I studied law and now work as an associate in the competition law practice of a large regional law firm. I am a passionate debater with Debattierklub Wien and have participated in and organized many tournaments worldwide. I love to shoot photos, cook and climb mountains.