biologe

Blog and online journal with editorial content about science, art and nature.

Kategorie: Artikel

Berliner Jobcenter: eine düstere Mauer, gegen die man sich verrennt, anstelle sinnvolle Unterstützung zu erhalten? Bürger hoffen auf das Bürgergeld

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Hochqualifizierte Alg-II-Empfänger

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Forschungsgelder in der Grundlagenforschung, zum Beispiel der Biologie im Bereich Systematik und Taxonomie, sind in der Merkel-Ära geschrumpft. Ellbogenmentalität und Bevorzugung des eigenen Nachwuchses durch Forschungsinstitute konnten dadurch nur wachsen. Einer der möglichen Gründe dafür, dass Hochqualifizierte sich als Freiberufler durchschlagen und gegebenenfalls aufgrund zu niedrigen Einkommens sogar durch Alg-II aufgestockt werden müssen.

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Abteilung für Selbstständige

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Für Selbstständige gibt es in Berlin eine eigenständige Abteilung. Das Procedere verlangt, dass der bedürftige Selbstständige mit der Antragstellung eine besondere Anlage, die Anlage EKS, mit einreicht. In Form einer Prognose müssen darin betriebliche Einnahmen und Ausgaben für den kommenden Bewilligungszeitraum eingeschätzt werden. Auf dieser Basis wird die vorläufige monatliche Alg-II-Zahlung für die folgenden sechs Monate festgelegt. Am Ende des Bewilligungszeitraums muss erneut eine Anlage EKS vorgelegt werden, die dieses Mal die tatsächlichen Einnahmen und Ausgaben aufführt. Daraufhin wird der engültig zugestandene Leistungsbetrag errechnet. Die Vorgehensweise kann zu Nachforderungen durch das Jobcenter führen.

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Hohe Nachforderungen durch Negieren notwendiger betrieblicher Ausgaben

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Wer glaubt, es sei ja wohl selbstverständlich, dass ein Naturfotograf und -Filmer Kamera-Equipment absetzen und damit Einkommen, die höher als zuvor geschätzt ausgefallen waren, relativieren könne, der irrt. Die Jobcenter möchten nämlich Geld zurück. Also heißt es: Das war aus betrieblichen Gründen nicht notwendig. Glauben Sie, liebe Leser, ja nicht, dass es Ihnen dann hilft, das letzte Profi-Unternehmen, mit dem Sie zusammengearbeitet haben, um eine schriftliche Bescheinigung zur Notwendigkeit technischer Anschaffungen zu bitten. Das Jobcenter kann dann nämlich meiner Erfahrung gemäß zwar die Argumentation für die Ablehnung der Ausgabe ändern, ersetzt sie in der Folge aber wacker und furchtlos durch ein scheinbar beliebiges anderes Argument und bleibt bei der Ablehnung. Betriebliche Ausgaben sind nicht gerne gesehen, da sie die Summe einer Nachforderung beträchtlich schmälern können. Da scheint der Behörde jedes Mittel recht.

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Verzichtserklärung

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Wenn man bereits die Erfahrung gemacht hat, dass das Jobcenter rigoros auf hohen Nachforderungen besteht, warum nicht einfach den Leistungsbezug vollständig beenden, wenn sich ein entsprechendes längerfristiges Einkommen durch Honorare angekündigt hat? So bliebe man schließlich nichts schuldig, sofern man auch für seine sozialen Kosten (wie der Krankenversicherung) selbst aufkommt. Oder? Nein, so einfach ist die Rechnung nicht! Es ist nämlich einem Selbstständigen nicht gestattet, vorzeitig aus dem bereits bewilligten Leistungszeitraum von sechs Monaten auszutreten. Er kann lediglich eine Verzichtserklärung einreichen. Obwohl er in der Folge keinerlei Zahlungen mehr erhält, bedeutet dies dennoch, dass Einnahmen nach der Verzichtserklärung mit denjenigen Monaten des Bewilligungszeitraums verrechnet werden, die vor dem Verzicht lagen. Theoretisch müssen jedoch zumindest weiterhin auch Betriebsausgaben und zum Beispiel die selbst übernommene Krankenversicherung absetzbar sein. In der Realität kann das jedoch zum Nachteil des Selbstständigen ganz anders aussehen, wie ich zu meinem Entsetzen selbst erleben musste.

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Beschwerdewege

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Wie wehrt man sich denn, wenn man das Gefühl hat, dass das Jobcenter zu Unrecht in Form von hohen Nachforderungen ordentlich zuschlägt, so sehr, dass man sich geradezu in existenzieller Gefahr wähnen muss? Mir liegen schriftliche Ausführungen sowohl der (theoretisch) zuständigen Berliner Senatsverwaltung wie auch des (theoretisch) zuständigen Bundesministeriums vor, aus denen hervorgeht, dass beide Organe nicht für die Überprüfung von Einzelfällen zuständig seien. Beschwerdewege seien innerhalb der Hierarchien von Jobcenter und Bundesagentur für Arbeit zu beschreiten. Als von der Bundesagentur unabhängige Organe, die angerufen werden können, wurden lediglich ein Petitionsausschuss (ich war mit meiner Petition vom Petitionsausschuss des Berliner Abgeordnetenhauses zum Petitionsausschuss des Deutschen Bundestages weitergeleitet worden) und/oder das Sozialgericht benannt.

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Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerden

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Beschwerden innerhalb des Jobcenters oder der Bundesagentur seien zum Beispiel in Form von Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerden an vorgesetzte Stellen einzureichen, so wurde mir mitgeteilt. Tatsächlich, so meine Erfahrung, ist die übliche Beantwortung einer Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde folgende: Zur Einleitung eines Dienstaufsichtsverfahrens ist ein persönliches Fehlverhalten eines Mitarbeiters notwendig… Nun gut, so denke ich mir, der Mitarbeiter hat ja zum Beispiel nachweislich zu Unrecht eine Aufforderung zur Mitwirkung verschickt, das wurde ja sogar zugegeben und mir eine Entschuldigung ausgespochen (die ich selbstverständlich nicht angenommen habe); also wende ich mich gleich an die Zentrale der Bundesagentur, wiederhole dort meine Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde und verweise darauf, dass sich derlei Vergehen in meinem Falle so auffällig aneinanderreiht, dass ich nicht mehr von einem Zufall, sondern von Schikane ausgehen muss. Die Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde wird dennoch abgeschmettert mit dem Argument, meine Ausführungen seien unsachlich.

Warum ist eine Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde wichtig? Sie kann nicht als juristisch gültiges Rechtsmittel für das Opfer von Behördenwillkür eingesetzt werden, das heißt sie hat keine aufschiebende Wirkung, sollte es sich bei dem monierten Akt durch einen Behördenmitarbeiter beispielsweise um eine Aufforderung mit Fristsetzung, etwas beizubringen, handeln. Das Dienstaufsichtsverfahren richtet sich stattdesssen ausschließlich gegen den Mitarbeiter der Behörde, der sich fehlverhalten hat. Ist das Fehlverhalten nachgewiesen, muss der Mitarbeiter gegebenenfalls mit Sanktionen rechnen, bei denen es sich um personalrechtliche Konsequenzen handeln kann. Solche Karriere-relevanten Folgen können eine abschreckende Wirkung auf den betreffenden Mitarbeiter und seine Kollegen haben, was idealer Weise dazu führt, dass sich das gerügte Fehlverhalten nicht wiederholt.

Vor Jahren hat die Argentur für Arbeit ihre Mitarbeiterpforten auch für Bewerber mit niedrigeren Schulabschlüssen geöffnet. Es gilt gemäß meiner Lebenserfahrung, dass ein kurzer Bildungsweg den Zugang zu Erkenntnistheorien und ethischem Verantwortungsbewußtsein erheblich schlechter bereitstellt, als ein ein Abitur mit anschließender komplexer Ausbildung, wie zum Beispiel einem akademischen Studium. Daher muss es generell Maßnahmen geben, die verhindern, dass Mitarbeiter in Behörden, vor allem solche mit eher begrenzterem Bildungshorizont, glauben, ihre berufliche Position sei ein Freischein für eine willkürliche psychische oder indirekt sogar physische Mißhandlung und/oder Erniedrigung anderer Bürger. Es darf nicht geschehen, dass Personen, die mit sich selbst und/oder ihrem privaten Umfeld unzufrieden sind, ihre Fristration und ihre Wut ungefiltert auf den Kundenkreis der Behörde kanalisieren können, nur weil sie aufgrund ihrer Anstellung mit entsprechend weitreichenden Befugnissen ausgestattet wurden.

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Einstellung der Bundesagentur für Arbeit gegenüber den unabhängigen Organen Petitionsausschuss und Sozialgericht

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Die Jobcenter legen es meiner Erfahrung gemäß darauf an, dass der Leistungsbezieher, der klagen will, möglichst Fristen versäumt, was dazu führt, dass Klagen unzulässig sind. Die Jobcenter wissen, dass beispielsweise ihre willkürliche Ablehung von absetzungsfähigen Posten einem seriösen Gerichtsverfahren nicht standhalten würde. Bestreben der Behörde ist es daher, dass es aus formellen Gründen möglichst gar nicht erst zu einem Verfahren kommt. Gerne heisst es dann: Sie müssen trotz Ihres Klage-Wegs zahlen, da Ihre Klage offensichtlich unzulässig ist. Allerdings erfordert diese Strategie, dass entweder Sie selbst, lieber bedürftiger und selbstständiger Leser, oder das Gericht (im Vorfeld einer Verhandlung) dem zustimmen. Ist beides nicht der Fall, entscheidet alleine das Sozialgericht im Rahmen einer Verhandlung, ob die Klage zulässig ist oder nicht. So zumindest die Ausführungen eines Rechtsberaters, den ich konsultiert habe.

Doch die Inkasso-Abteilung der Bundesagentur schickt mir wacker Mahnungen, ich solle trotz laufender und meiner Einschätzung nach fristgerecht eingeleiteter und berechtigter Gerichtsverfahren zahlen. So beschwere ich mich bei der Zentrale der Bundesagentur, wo mir im Namen des Leiters der Bundesagentur mitgeteilt wird, meine beiden derzeit (in einem Fall schon deutlich mehr als über ein Jahr) ansässigen und sehr ausführlich begründeten Klagen seien offensichtlich unzulässig, des Weiteren wird im Schreiben der Sachbearbeiterin wild darüber spekuliert, welche gerichtlichen Hinweise das Gericht mir geschickt oder nicht geschickt haben könnte, dabei ganz ungeachtet der Tatsache, dass gerichtliche Hinweise nur für eine Partei bestimmt sind. Von einer offensichtlichen Unzulässigkeit meiner Klagen weiß ich jedoch nichts. Ich muss daher an dieser Stelle deutlich sagen, dass diese Reaktionsweise der Bundesagentur bei mir nichts anderes als den Eindruck erweckt, als halte sie nicht allzuviel von der Unabhängigkeit des Sozialgerichts. Was auf der anderen Seite verständlich ist, schließlich sind die Sozialgerichte insbesondere in Folge der Corona-Pandemie überlastet, Verfahren ziehen sich daher ewig in die Länge. Und wen benachteiligt dies? Natürlich die Bundesagenur mit ihren Jobcentern, denn die wollen und brauchen Geld, und zwar jetzt, sofort, und nicht etwa erst nächstes Jahr.

Und wie ist die Einstellung der Bundesagentur gegenüber dem Petitionsausschuss des Deutschen Bundestags? Nun, auch der ist überlastet, auch hier zieht sich das Verfahren in die Länge. Und so darf es mich offenbar nicht verwundern, dass eine Jobcenter-Sachbearbeiterin der Beschwerdestelle für den Bereich Berlin/Brandenburg mein schon länger ansässiges Petitionsverfahren ohne jede geringste Form der Befugnis (über ein eindeutig externes und unabhängiges Organ zu entscheiden) in einem postalischen Schreiben an mich ein für allemal für beendet erklärt. Na, offenkundiger kann ein Fehlverhalten ja gar nicht sein, so denke ich mir und reiche eine Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde bei der Zentrale der Bundesagentur ein, gerichtet an die Leitung persönlich. In deren Namen teilt mir die zuständige Sachbearbeiterin mit, dass sie mir zustimme, die Beendigung eines Petitionsverfahrens obliege allein dem Petitionsausschuss. Meine Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde allerdings nimmt sie nicht an. Ein nachvollziehbarer menschlicher Fehler wird angedeutet, schließlich sei die Behörde schon lange nicht mehr durch den Petitionsausschuss kontaktiert worden. Daraus könne man ja schon fälschlich schlussfolgern, dass es das Verfahren gar nicht mehr gäbe. Mein anschließender Verweis darauf, dass die betreffende Mitarbeiterin ja auf mein Schreiben reagiert hatte, in dem ich deutlich auf das noch laufende Petitionsverfahren verwies, und dass ich daher eher den Eindruck gewonnen habe, als solle mir die Allmacht und Unangreifbarkeit der Bundesagentur vorgeführt werden (was ein eindeutiges und unverzeihliches Fehlverhalten sei), führte zu einer Antwort, die der Leser wahrscheinlich bereits erraten hat: Meine Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde sei unsachlich. Abgelehnt.

Selbst Berliner Häuser runzeln erstaunt die Stirn, erst recht, wenn sie das DDR-Unrechtssystem persönlich miterlebt haben.

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Bürgergeld

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Die Bundesregierung hat die Einführung eines sogenannten Bürgergelds angekündigt. Dies solle höhere Leistungen, bessere Möglichkeiten hinzuzuverdienen und eine Begegnung der Behörde auf Augenhöhe mit den Kunden beeinhalten. Böse Zungen haben bereits spekuliert, dass sich schlimmstenfalls unterm Strich gar nichts ändere, es sich also um eine bloße Umetikettierung handle.

Ich erhoffe mir vor allem, dass Arbeits-und Verdienstbestreben künftig nicht wie bislang bestraft, sondern gefördert werden. Der durch die Regierung öffentlich gemachte Entwurf zum Bürgergeld widmet sich allerdings oft dem Personenkreis, der aus einem Anstellungsverhältnis zunächst im Arbeitslosengeld I landet und mangels neuer Anstellung dann zu Alg-II abrutscht. Ich jedoch bin der Ansicht, dass vor allem Selbstständige eine bessere Behandlung erfahren müssen. So sollte es meiner Ansicht nach möglich sein, den Leistungsbezug jederzeit freiwillig vollständig zu beenden, also auch inmitten eines Leistungszeitraums. Es sind mehr unabhängige Kontrollgremien notwendig, ausserdem muss es der Bundesagentur und den Jobcentern erheblich erschwert werden, mit Hilfe von Fristsetzungen und ähnlich bürokratischen Vorgehensweisen verhindern zu wollen, dass Gerichtsverfahren sich mit Inhalten befassen. Nachweisliche Willkürhandlungen von Behördenmitarbeitern müssen zudem umgehend scharf sanktioniert werden, um die Rechtsstaatlichkeit dieser Sozialbehörden für die Zukunft zu gewährleisten.

Copyrights Stefan F. Wirth, Berlin 7.Mai 2022

RAW Berlin as a cultural center in Germany’s capital

The RAW

An inspiring composition of terrace, window, gate, trashcan and graffiti, copyrights for photo Stefan F. Wirth, June 2021

The RAW (Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk) extends between Warschauer Strasse, Revaler Strasse and Modersonstrasse in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain. The former railway area, which was closed in 1995, is considered to be the largest contiguous and culturally used fallow area in Germany.

Graffiti art giving the old architecture an own kind of dynamics, copyrights for photo Stefan F. Wirth, June 2021

Today the ruins are used culturally in a variety of ways. In addition to several clubs and art galleries, there are sports facilities, art studios and various take-out stands.

Self-government and graffiti art

The area is under grassroots self-government.

Atmosphere during a summer day, copyrights of photo Stefan F. Wirth, June 2021

You can already see art without having to enter galleries, namely in the form of graffiti art, which blends harmoniously and inspiringly into the partly crumbling terrain.

Skate hall and mosaic of architecture, daily life remnants and graffiti

Sports activities are also revealed to the visitor very quickly when entering the area. For example, the skate hall, which opened in 2004/2005, is the only indoor skating facility in Berlin and is internationally well known in that sports scene.

But during my short visit on a summer day afternoon in end of June 2021, I was most impressed by the mosaic of architecture elements, Graffiti and signs of daily life.

A corner close to the entrance from Revaler Straße, copyrights of photo Stefan F. Wirth, June 2021.

All copyrights Stefan F. Wirth, 27 June 2021

The details about snow

Misty

In former times, when people lived in a mystic world, where elves, dwarfs, leprechauns and talking wolves did their dreadful state of affairs in the midst of dark and impenetrable huge forests, people thought that even the old trees in the woods had their own thoughts.

Park Rehberge in Berlin

Uncontrollable, sounds, the snorting of the deer, a mysterious hidden, permanently changing shades in a cold and misty twilight.

Biology

A forest is only then a forest, when a high concentration of trees is given. Woods bear a great number of species, produce a majority of oxygen in our world; they are huge reservoirs of water and stabilize the ground with their tangles of roots.

Snow

Snow consists of ice crystals. Their formation within clouds depends on the presence of ice nucleating particles and temperatures lower – 12°C.

Crystals possess a hexagonal symmetry, being prism-shaped at lower temperatures and dendrite-shaped at higher temperatures.

Temperate deciduous forests hibernate without functional leaves. Most trees throw off all leaves already in autumn to be protected from desiccation in winter frost periods.

Layers of snow are excellent thermal conductors and additionally protect all life underneath from frost damages in the cold season.

Waiting for the spring time

Most life forms hibernate together with their leafless trees. Especially accumulations of deadwood contain remarkable numbers of species, such as insects, spiders, mites or nematodes. Some already begin under their snow cover to prepare themselves for the warmer season.

When all snow is gone, winter colors in red, yellow, brown and some green reappear. Early blossoming plants are already germinating.

Personal aversion or competitor – common reasons for bullying

Bullying is a major weapon in modern times to eliminate competitors or people, which do not fit into the herd of other people or against whom somebody shows a personal aversion. Generally people with individualistic attitudes are endangered to become victims of bullying. The mechanism is often simple: As many people use to follow group dynamics and are open for dogmata, the ability for an independent enquiry is often limited. A „Don’t talk to that Person!“, means for streamlined people frequently „ok, I should not talk to that person“. Why? They don’t ask why.

As bullying is surely a still not fully recognized hidden violence that appears in all kinds of communities, unfortunately even in academic circles, I decided to point out this phenomenon herewith again.  Especially in my fields of fundamental research in systematics and evolutionary biology/ zoology, elbow mentalities are quite common. We need to learn to cooperate, especially when for example financial resources are limited, it’s about our future, and in cases of natural sciences it’s about the future of these sciences.

 

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Bullying can happen everywhere

 

All copyrights including photo: Stefan F. Wirth, Berlin July 2020

Mite Histiostoma piceae

The mite Histiostoma piceae Scheucher, 1957 is a member of the mite family Histiostomatidae (Astigmata, Acariformes). Scheucher discovered the mite based on all instars from spruce, infected by the bark beetle Ips typographus. She collected her samples in Regensburg, Höbing (bei Roth) and Harz. Scheucher reared her specimens on potatoes and bran, but describes that her cultures did grow well only to some degree.

According to her findings,  phoretic carrier (hosts) is the bark beetle species Ips typographus, she also found deutonymphs rarely on some staphylinids. She discovered that free living non-deutonymphal stages develop on fresh detritus, while deutonymphs appear only on old detritus („after it was for a longer time removed from the trees“, „wenn der Mulm einige Zeit aus den Bäumen entfernt ist“). I could like Scheucher culture the mites on potato, but a bit better in their original gallery substrate. Under laboratory conditions, they indeed did not rear very well in both kinds of cultures.

I collected H. piceae between 2000 and 2004 once from a wooden log infested by I. typographus in Berlin, then got access to microscopic slides from Europe in the collection of John C. Moser (Louisiana, USA) in 2007 and 2009, then I collected samples from Ips typographus and I. cembrae in Central Croatia (publication Wirth, Weis and Pernek, 2016) and found out that H. piceae is not restricted to I. typographus, but also to its sibling species I. cembrae. I finally collected the mite from I. typographus galleries between 2015 and 2016 in Western-Siberia near the city Tyumen.

I repeatedly observed deutonymphs of H. piceae under natural conditions (bark samples directly after the excursions) to develop in very high numbers, then attaching to all available arthropods nearby, smaller bark beetle species and numerous bigger mites of different groups, such as for example oribatids.

Published recordings of H. piceae from other bark beetles than I. typographus and I. cembrae are doubtful and need to be named Histiostoma cf. piceae. In some cases with I. typographus additionally present, I interpret the mites to have switched from their regular carrier (host) to an adjacent gallery of e.g. another smaller bark beetle species. In other cases, the existence of similar looking species new to science needs to be tested. In cases of determinations by non specialists from bark beetles other than the above mentioned two beetle species, it needs to be assumed that these people could not differ between similar mite species, such as Histiostoma trichophorum Oudemans, 1912, Histiostoma ulmi Scheucher, 1957 or Histiostoma crypturgi Scheucher, 1957.

 

I never before published the full set of SEM and light microscopic photos from these  times (except of my article about host specificity). In this explicite photo publication here on my homepage, I herewith publish SEM-photographs, objects sputtered with gold, which might be not unique to science, but very rare.

Any subsequent research on this mite in Europe is not happening (a few not too relevant findings are published by a former Russian colleague). Reason is that modern science does not understand, especially not in Germany, that fundamental research in applied fields is worth to be funded. It is for example known that deutonymphs of different mite species on bark beetles regularly carry fungus spores (different fungus species, just sticking on the mite’s cuticle), discovered by John C. Moser and confirmed by several of my own publications. This phenomenon is still not closer studied. Fungus transport into bark beetle galleries can influence the micro climate there.

 

 

Male and female of Histiostoma piceae, A venter of male, B dorsum of male, C mouthparts with Digitus fixus, D dorsum of female, E side-frontal view to female; Berlin 2002-2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

 

hpiceaeimage0498photoshop

Deutonymph of Histiostoma piceae in ventral view, collected in Western Siberia, 2015 – 2016, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

 

Systematics: Histiostoma piceae is according to my phd thesis from 2004 and according to my more recent research findings a member of a clade (monophylum) within Histiostomatidae with most species associated with bark beetles (Scolytinae) or other bark inhabiting coleopterans; these phylogenetic findings are based on morphological characters.

Mite Histiostoma maritimum

The mite Histiostoma maritimum Oudemans 1914 is a member of the mite family Histiostomatidae (Astigmata, Acariformes). Oudemans discovered the mite based on its deutonymph only from a Dutch island. The German acarologist R. Scheucher found the species in 1957 in mud at the riverside of Regnitz and for the first time could rear H. maritimum and was able to redescribe it by its adult stages, especially females look morphologically conspicuous due to a sclerotized cuticula shield around its copulation opening. She reared her specimens on potatoes, mud and bran, but describes that her cultures did not grow well.

Phoretic carrieres (hosts) are beetles of genus Heterocerus, some carabids and according her findings also rarely some staphylinids.

I discovered H. maritimum between 2000 and 2004 repeatedly in sapropel around ponds in an old gravel pit area in Berlin, forest Grunewald, named „im Jagen 86“. They were mainly attached to the beetles Heterocerus fenestratus and Heterocerus fusculus, but could regularly also be found on the carabids Elaphrus cupreus and Bembidion sp.. I could several times rear the mites, like Scheucher almost unsuccessfully on potatoes, but well on cadavers of their carriers. I thus reconstructed a so called necromenic life-strategy for H. maritium. This means that a phoretic stage ascends a carrier, but never leaves, instead it awaits the carrier’s natural dead to develop on its cadaver (published in my phd thesis, online, 2004).

I will not publish my full set of SEM photos from earlier times here. Some photos will be saved for one of my upcoming paper submissions in scientific and peer-reviewed journals. In this photo publication here on my homepage, I at least publish some interesting SEM-photographs, based on objects sputtered with gold and a subsequent critical-point-drying procedure.

Adults of Histiostoma maritimum: A left male, right female, B, C, copulation opening, D dorsal view to female with mouthparts and copulation opening

Systematics: H. maritimum shares morphological characters of deutonymph (setation, apodemes) and adults (mouthpart details, shape of Digitus fixus) with species like Histiostoma feroniarum, H. insulare, H. litorale, H. palustre, H. polypori, H. myrmicarum. This might indicate a separate clade, but according to the old findings in my phd thesis, also a paraphyletic grouping including these species is thinkable.

Copyrights Stefan F. Wirth, 10 June 2020

Male-Gender discrimination in the natural sciences – unacceptable?

When I was a little child, we used to play all kinds of common child’s plays, such as touch and go or even football, under the motto: boys against girls. But only a few years later in the primary school, such a motto did not exist any more at all. Our teachers wore weird beards, flared trousers or turtleneck pullovers, knitted by themselves, and were pipe smokers, women almost looked the same. They were children of the 1968s, a kind of late hippies in a catholic primary school. Regarding discipline, they were not too tolerant, but there was no separation between genders. We learned that in friendships, the personality of somebody counts, not the gender. I did not differ between male or female school friends. As a young child, you expect this modern and tolerant spirit even growing with the time, but it did seemingly not, times today instead sometimes show a harsh backwards orientation unfortunately.

 

 

wächter fertig

„The sad one“, ink on paper, Berlin 2016, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

 

 

Everybody talks about gender. They say the female gender is on purpose suppressed by power-hungry men. When I search in social networks for tags, such as #Berlin, #forest, #city or #flowers, I see mostly half naked women, promoting themselves in a tight bikini or by literally simply presenting their breasts. Simple minded neutral observers, may be aliens, would think: ah, interesting, different strategies! While men fight with diligence for their succeeding in life, females choose the more simple way by just showing off.

But I am not simple minded, and I do not know any simple minded people, that’s why I of course analyze such observations and conclude: no, no, no, these are all misconceptions, when it seems that women might use their sexual attraction on men, when they need attention or want to continue their career, then the reality is that they just prove self-determination and independence. When we read in the news that again an almost forgotten Hollywood-star showed off for the Playboy, then we exactly know that she wants to emphasize her feminist ethos by presenting herself like that for the male readers of the journal, simply to set a signal against sexual subjugation to men. Easy to understand! And when unsuccessful actresses accuse famous film directors of sexual harassment from 40 years ago, then this does not indicate a cheap effort to catch public attention at the expense of somebody else. No, no, no, they were just cruelly intimidated in these times decades ago, felt menaced and helpless in a world dominated by powerful and unscrupulous dominant males. It needed so much time to come out in public about what happened, as the today spirit of time finally allows public condemnation without any official trial. So, we learn that feminism did not reach its final peak in the 1970s and 80s, no its going on, and needs to go on and even must be more powerful than ever before, as males still instinctively feel a pressure to suppress women. I support and accept this fight for equality of genders. Viva ultra feminism!

BUT: I would like to draw a line, which should not be crossed. The world of sciences, especially natural sciences, needs to be rid of all kinds of absurd gender discrimination in both directions. My generation of males was obliged to complete either a military service or a civil service. My civil service took me 15 months of my life time. All in all, I lost two years until I could begin studying at a university. Females of my generation finished their studies about two years earlier, which offered them already enough advantage in proceeding with their academic careers and in finding positions. While males in the natural sciences need to prove their work-power permanently by publishing one paper after another, even when unemployed, females go in maternal leave, after they gave birth to their children, and years later of course get in the easiest way a position, without having learned to publish and perform research even without any salaries at all. This goes on costs of the quality of science itself, it thus is fully unacceptable.

But let’s continue: A male with thirty peer-review publications and a woman without any peer-review publications at all apply for the same scientific position. What happens today is in such a situation that based on the so called gender-equality rules, based on woman’s officers and women’s quota, the female applicant needs to be preferred regardless of her qualification and diligence. I had rejected applications, where they officially argued with a necessary preference for a female candidate, based on gender-equality rules. In other cases, they argued to have already decided for another candidate, which was in such cases always a woman. I know a former colleague, who I visited for a short research stay and who had introduced me to his girl friend, who was the same time his official diploma student. A desaster! I heard about a male biologist, who officially criticized the male-gender discrimination in the scientific world in Germany. He was bullied throughout Germany and even Europe so much that he needed to leave the continent, performing now his research in Mexico or Australia, I do not remember. A scandal!

Male gender discrimination in the word of sciences harms the future of science at all!

 

Berlin, 10 June 2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Christian hate preachers in Germany? The dubious case of a hardliner

He is 53 years old, a hunter and a strength athlete, but Olaf Latzel is unfortunately also an evangelical pastor of the St.-Martini church municipality in the German city Bremen. Livestreams of his church services during times of the corona-crisis since February 2020 had up to 30000 clicks. He and his work are well liked not only in his own municipality. But fortunately, there is also much and harsh criticism against his preaching.

His style of sermonizing is, according to what I saw on his Youtube-Channel, very passionate. His sermons have a very dominant and commanding pitch, and when he talks against homosexuals and other religions, his emotions force his significant nasolabial wrinkles downwards to a grim face, and his eyes peer to the ceiling, when he emphasizes that we had one lord only, and he often shouts an almost hysteric „hallelujah“, when he subsequently continues with statements like „ein Knecht, ein Sklave, hat nur einen Herrn (a servant, a slave, has only one lord)“ and later „kein Knecht kann zwei Herren dienen…(no servant can serve two gods)“. He accordingly is strictly against mixed church services, wants Buddha statues or amulets in households to be destroyed and is such focused on details of ancient text details of the bible that female pastors in his church are not allowed to wear a talar (robe of an evangelical priest) or to preach from the pulpit. Homosexuals are welcome in his municipality only according to the principle „against sins, but for sinners“. Muslims can be treated with mercy, again only following the same principle. But I say: It is a sin to create sinners based o the natural diversity of life!

Apart from discriminating statements against Islam, Buddhism or homosexuals, the slave and servant idea is one of his main topics. According to his preaching, the believers represent nothing else than slaves or servants of god, who even paid for this slave service due to the blood of Jesus Christ. Olaf Latzel is a hardliner, and he does not try to hide this. But the distinct reduction of believers to slaves, to a herd of sheep in the full sense of this term, is also a very clever gambit against individualism, independent free thoughts and criticism. Stupid sheep are easy to control, they ask no critical questions, they even don’t express doubts about statements, written in a thousands of years old ancient book. But there is no god, who demands for thoughtless sheep, there are only very secular authorities in the disguise of religious leaders, who need sheep to fulfill their very secular motivations, namely to live a privileged life on the costs of their slavish subjects. If god preferred sheep instead of humans, he would have appeared as sheep among sheep.

Jesus Christ was the historical human being Jesus from Nazareth. He was an individualist with free thoughts and represented a critic of old and traditional religious attitudes. He considered the stupid human sheep in the Temple in Jerusalem his opponents, and his major aim was to teach and practice charity. His followers were women, who he met as equals, and unmarried men with unknown erotic preferences  (Who knows, may be some considered themselves even as non-binaries!). The disciples of Jesus from Nazareth had a subversive and creative power to modernize the communities, they did not look back to their ancient past, but instead invested their energy in a more human future (at least originally). They today would not find any of their ideals in municipalities with Christian hate preachers.

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Jesus meets two strangers in an evening twilight scenery, a man and a woman, on an equal level. Both strangers are proud of being free thinkers, the man might even be gay, we don’t know. Oil on canvas, Berlin May 2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth.

 

 

Berlin, May 2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Locomotion behavior of Schizomida (Arachnida)

They look without magnification more like very motile and fast running ants or very tiny grasshoppers than like arachnids. But they indeed represent relatives of the web spiders and scorpions: Schizomida, a clade of whip scorpions. They are the sister taxon of Thelyphonida, the rather well known „big whip scorpions“, which are often kept as pets in terraria around the world. Schizomida are only rarely filmed in a higher resolution quality, which is due to their small size and their almost invisibility due to their semi-transparent cuticle and their very fast way of walking or even jumping. They are additionally difficult to be filmed as they strictly avoid all lights and tend to dry out quickly, when they cannot hide themselves by time in a slightly moist substrate.

 

Closeups of behaviors of a Schizomid species from a greenhouse in Germany. Copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

 

Schizomida in Greenhouses

 

Schizomids represent mostly tropical or subtropical organisms. But some species are regularly dispersed into greenhouses around the world. The filmed species might be Stenochrus portoricensis, but was not systematically studied in detail so far. As all known species, which appear in greenhouses, also S. portoricensis reproduces (apart from their original habitats) parthenogenetically with females producing females without mating procedures (thelytoky). I never found males so far.

 

 S. portoricensis: native to subtropical Zones

 

The specimens, which I kept since months in a small terrarium, were collected in autumn 2016 at the famous fun and wellness bath „Tropical Islands“ South of Berlin. There they are a natural part of the world’s biggest indoor rainforest. The species S. portoricensis is originally native to Florida, Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Porto Rico and other localities in similar tropical zones. These microscopical tiny organisms are predators and do not harm human beings at all. According to the available organisms in a suitable size in my terrarium, they might feed on the numerous collembolans and/or mites. Especially mites of the Gamasina appear in greater numbers in my substrate, which represents the original substrate from the greenhouse. I enriched this substrate regularly by smaller pieces of fruits or vegetables to stimulate the growth of microorganisms. I keep them at room temperature (about 20°C) and with not too much moisture. I do not know, whether they reproduced within these months, but the specimens of my recent video footage represent all sub-adults.

 

Film set and topic locomotion

 

Focus of my film is to present the different ways of locomotion, cleaning behaviors and burrowing activities of these fascinating animals. During the filming procedure, I used two cold-light-lamps for a suitable illumination and an ILCE-6300 (internal 4K mode), connected to a stereomicroscope and a lightmicroscope (with uplight).

 

Berlin December 2019/ March 2017, Copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

When elbows are used in the world of science

I was part as acarologist and natural scientist in a 2011 scientific paper about a mite preserved as fossil in amber, which was analyzed using the X-ray computed tomography and determined systematically on a family level. In this time, this scientific publication had a remarkable impact in international scientific media, because it seemed, as if this mite was the smallest animal ever visualized via CT on a high quality level.

 

Strange behaviors of so called „colleagues“?

 

The technical work was performed by technical scientists in Manchester UK. The natural scientific analyses was performed by me as the only European specialist for the mite family Histiostomatidae. But I noticed already in the time period of  this publication that there were strict tendencies by the so called „colleagues“ to mention my name as less as possible, this concerned the drafting of international media releases and also a poster presentation (my name was added days later) and an online abstract on a conference in Berlin. The corresponding poster was even awarded, but I got my award certification only after demanding explicitly for it. I much later, when I decided to complain officially at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Berlin, needed to learn that I was not even considered as one of the first authors. I didn’t notice that before, because the former „colleague“, Dr. Jason Dunlop, curator at this museum, was mentioned in the original citation with 1) after his name, me too. Thus I interpreted this as a double-first-author-ship. It then came out that the „1)“ only indicated the same scientific address, because I was in that time officially a volunteer at the MFN in Berlin.

 

Mite in an amber fossil, made visible by using the x-ray computed tomography, acarological work: Stefan F. Wirth

 

The work of a scientific specialist: here an acarologist

 

The question must be: Who is needed to scientifically interpret three dimensional photos of an amber fossil, in this case the deutonymph of a mite of the Histiostomatidae? A specialist for this taxon is needed, who is able to perform scientific drawings, based on the photos. He first needs even to decide, which of the photos are showing details of scientific relevance. While drawing, the specialist must distinctly recognize single microscopic structures, so that all these structures can be clearly separated from each other including all borders or gaps between single components. The scientific term is „homologisation“. Homologisation means: comparing single structures with (phylogenetically) equivalent structures of other (related) species. As there were not more fossils available, the homologisations needed to be based on recent mites. Thus the specialist must have a very competent knowledge of a high number of species from this family. To reach that level requires hard work over many years. I had the necessary level and found character details in the fossil, which were fitting to recent members of mites of the Histiostomatidae. But it’s of course not enough to discover such homologous structures. They must be made visible for every reader of the scientific paper. Thus the drawings need to be correctly labelled, which requires careful morphological studies. Then a detailed description needs to be written. But that is far not enough. Readers of a scientific paper are usually no specialists. That’s why they need a written introduction, in which the summary of the general recent knowledge of a mite group needs to be presented. And after all that they even expect you to discuss your results. It’s an own chapter, subsequent to the result descriptions.

The discussion chapter also requires a maximum of specialized competence. Some researchers even say that this is the first part of a paper that they read as it puts the results into a general scientific context based on arguments, mostly according to the principle of the most economical explication. Conclusions in the discussion part have usually the character of theories based on the facts, which the paper could contribute. Topics of a discussion part in such a paper as ours are systematic conclusions, the discussing of homologisation problems and also the formulation of a possible relevance for the recent scientific knowledge and also the future scientific importance of these new findings.

This all is, what I as a specialist needed to do. I additionally contributed one of my photos of a recent mite for comparative reasons and captured a stereomicroscopic photo of the mite fossil to demonstrate, how much the CT could improve the visible details of the amber fossil. I guess I did quite a lot, the other part was overtaken by the technical colleagues in Manchester. They needed to explain their technical situation and also needed to discuss their ideas about the meaning of their CT-technology for the future of science, focussed also on work with amber fossils.

 

Contributions of different authors to a scientific paper

 

To be honest I don’t remember, where there was still space left for content issue contributions by Dr. Dunlop. But he did some organizational stuff, he collected the contributions from the UK colleagues and me, he arranged the photo table via a graphic software based on the photos, which I had determined as scientifically relevant, and he was the so called corresponding author (I allowed him, because he is an English native speaker). That means, he submitted the final paper to the journal and communicated with the editors. Of course reviewers always ask for revisions. That was then mine and the technicians job again.

It is common that corresponding authors represent automatically the first authors of a paper. But it is not mandatory. I for example once was the corresponding author of a paper, which was based on a bachelor thesis that I (in major parts) supervised. I despite of my in fact major authorship regarding the scientific paper itself and my additional corresponding activities let her (the student) the first authorship. That even means that this paper can be easier found, when searching for her instead of my name. I just wanted to support a younger scientist.

And of course also a double first-authorship might be possible, especially representing  an adequate solution, in case another author even contributed more concerning the scientific content itself. In case of objections by the editors, the one, who contributed more, should to be the first author.

 

„B-word“?

 

But to come back to the amber paper of this article, it is surely not fair to reduce the scientist, who had the major scientific work on a paper secretly to a second author. It is highly unfair to leave him out in the international press release information. And I don’t trust to say here, what it is, when deleting his name entirely from a poster and an online abstract presentation and even impeding him to get a certification of a poster award in time for his work. Should one use the „b-word“? Generally bullying would be an act against the good scientific practice, but there would be clear proofs for malevolence against specifically somebody needed to get corresponding behaviors sanctioned. But when „only“ the elbow mentality is obvious, which means that people leave somebody out for their own better recognition, then the distinct malevolence against the victim is not clearly proven. Thus the interesting question arises: when is elbow behavior equal to bullying and when not?

 

Warning to young scientists

 

What I can say for sure is, even when the original bullying assumption is still a kind of questionable: after you complained, you might need to expect a real merciless and long lasting bullying. That’s why I intend to warn all young scientists: be careful and double check, with whom you cooperate. The wrong choice can be a failure as long as you do not agree being a bullying victim. The consequences can last over years and can destroy your whole career. I even once was told by a bullying victim that the accused institution did not even deny its bullying activities, but stated that depending of the kind of position, somebody has in an institute, an equality right would not be automatically existent. I go further and say: don’t become a natural scientist at all, except you are in a love relationship with an internationally highly influential professor.

In these days there are alternatives for possible natural scientists. Earlier I was a harsh critic of the modern gender sciences (sometimes also named genderism). But they have much financial capacities. Nobody there needs to sharpen his elbows, a good basis for fair careers, and based on that after a while surely also the most important basis for a good quality work!

 

Copyrights Stefan F. Wirth, Berlin 2019