Monday, 24 August 2015

Our greatest security threat - the USA

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Me: The US is the greatest threat against our security. Yes or no?

Them: No

Me: I had a hunch you would say that. But what else would it be?

Them: Russia, if we are to point out a certain country. Otherwise I would say poverty and social conflicts in Sweden, Europe and the Middle East. But it also depends on how you define security.

Me: If we skip Russia for one moment...

You are aware that the food produced today is enough to feed all people on the earth, right? The reason why people still go hungry is that it's being wasted with by the rich. And who is the greatest waster? Exactly: The US

Our future poverty will be caused by a ruined/depleted planet. Who is the greatest environment destroyer? The US

Who is the greatest obstacle against peace in the Middle East? Who has been blocking every single UN convention against Israel, that didn't dutifully mention that 'Palestine is guilty too'? Who has consequently taken Israel's side, regardless of what baffling assaults and crimes against international law they commit? Of course: The US

...Now if we would pay a little revisit to Russia, at least it would be a lot easier for the rest of us to put pressure on Russia to disarm and join peaceful methods, if our greatest buddy the US wouldn't be so stubborn that THEY of course be allowed to use whatever violence and undemocratic, unlawful methods they want... This goes of course for all traditional US opposition. All the talk about international law and human rights become pure hipocrisy to them, so long as we simultaneously allow the US to go on ravaging like they do.

Q.E.D. - Which was to be proven!

Me: Do you approve that I use this sms exchange in a blog text? :)

Them: Sure, without the mentioning of my name...

Me: I wasn't planning to use your name. :)

Me: Btw: The US COULD use their enormous superiority in power to STOP all violence! (Instead of legitimizing it, like they do. Not to mention how they legitimize unlawful detention, executions and of course torture.) They could go into every armed conflict and interrupt it! Force the parts to the negotiation table!

Now I wouldn't exactly want a particular country to have that role. I would much rather see a more democratic world police. Like the UN. Preferably even more democratic than that - an organisation where the people rule rather than nations - but by all means, the UN is a lot better than none! And then we ask ourselves: Who is the greatest blocker of the UN? Naturally... the US! I have a report about all the ways in which they have obstructed the work of the ICC for example, linked to somewhere in my blog. (see sources by the end of this text, editor's note)

Violence is the greatest threat to our security. Law and justice is our shield against the violence. Violence gives birth to violence, and thus the US is the greatest birth-giver of violence, both by their use and by their legitimization of large quantities of violence. Simultaneously they are, without a doubt, the greatest blocker of international law.

(Even all conflicts in Africa can in one way or another be linked back to the US, even though Europe (and Russia) have our dirty fingers deep into that honeypot too...)

Me: It would feel even better i you said: "Right! You've got a point there actually!"...

Them: Of course you've got a point! But it doesn't feel like you really hit the nail, still. "All conflicts in Africa"... "without a doubt, the greatest blocker"... Hmmm! :-\


They resists! :) They always does. But please read the Wikipedia-article: United States and the United Nations, and hopefully you will still find e.g. these quotes:

"since 1989 the U.S. government has dissented against security council resolutions on 12 occasions out of 17 total instances when a permanent member vetoed. Of these 12 occasions, only two related to issues other than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

"Since 1985 the U.S. Congress has refused to authorize payment of the U.S. dues, in order to force UN compliance with U.S. wishes, as well as a reduction in the U.S. assessment."

(The above quoted article has a lot of [citation needed] but still.)

Also I'd very much invite you to read the book Sveriges Afrikanska krig (Sweden's African wars) by the journalist Bengt Nilsson, which deals mostly with how Sweden, through its foreign aid, keeps never-ending wars alive in Africa. But in a passage it also describes how the battle between socialism and capitalism has made external entities (Sweden, Russia, the US,...) become 'supporters' of a kind, of certain regimes or guerrilla movements in Africa, providing them with weapons and aid, so that socialism/capitalism will prevail. "The idea of 'The Righteous War'", he writes. Of course it is also of importance that Africa has rich natural resources, such as gold, diamonds, rain-forest, a good climate for coffee and tea etc, and those whose "team" wins has therefore a lot to gain for themselves. It's a bit of 'the tragedy of the commons': If we don't do it, somebody else will, and takes home the reward.

Hear my words: If we are to have a positive development in the world, we have to formulate our goals accordingly! Foreign aid, as well as military interventions, must be based on objective, quantitative premises, such as basic human rights. US interventions to allegedly protect human rights (e.g. against Saddam Hussein, or the Syrian gas attack) have no effect on the matter, since they are not consistent. We all know that at the same time they allow Israel to commit as bad assaults as Hussein, if not worse! The conclusion must be that there is no point in respecting human rights. Instead it's much better to remain friendly with the US. Or to manage to stand up to them. Then this is the world we get.

It is us, the people, who have to be consistent with what we want. If we want human rights, then this is what we have to support, always! If instead we want power for ourselves and/or the US, and we don't care what assaults and murders are found in our rear water... well, then we can just continue like today.

Sources and further reading:
Wikipedia - United States and the United Nations (quoted in the text)
Wikipedia - United States withdrawal from the United NationsSvenska Freds - Review of Sveriges Afrikanska krig (I disagree with Svenska Freds here! Interrupt all foreign aid to countries that violate human rights, and of course take it up again when these human rights are again being met. THEN it's highly likely that these human rights will suddenly start to be met...! There is no excuse for "at least doing something" if your "something" does harm instead of good.)
Sofia Haraldsson, Lund's university - Internationella brottmålsdomstolen – en garanti för rättvisa? (mentioned in the text) Treating all the ways in which the US has obstructed the work of ICC, among others. 

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Karolina and the climate

This is how it went, as far as I now to the best of my ability remember it.

Almost 20 years ago I struggled to awaken the awareness of the public to the increased greenhouse effect. This was in the days when it was totally weirdo style to believe in such a risk! It was only the Green Party who did, and not even all among them. By the way, they were around 4% of the Swedish population, and I wasn't even a member yet. I had only seen an episode of "World of Science" (Swedish factual TV show) talking about this.

With time, the awareness about the greenhouse effect slowly grew, and in the Green Party and other environmental organisations it became an established fact.

Then I went to Chalmers University of Technology to study, and among other things learned, on a molecular level, how the greenhouse effect works. In a computer lab I for example learned that 95% of the greenhouse effect comes from water vapor, which regulates itself in the atmosphere. It surprised me to some extent that I had never heard this before.

Then in one course, they invited a climate skeptic, who gave a lecture he called:

"Climate change - Science, politics or religion?"

On top of showing how the "climate movement" actually resembled religion in a number of ways (the lurking doom's day, repent from sin and and you shall be saved, strong, charismatic leaders,...) he gave a few, it seemed to me, pretty strong arguments as to why the climate hysteria was exaggerated, and to how it was in fact technically impossible to foresee how the climate would change, regardless of what we did, or didn't do. When asked by a person in the audience what he thought we should spend our efforts on, he said that we should prepare ourselves for climate changes in either directions, since the only thing we could be sure of was that climate would always keep changing.

We were supposed to hand in some kind of summary of the lecture of one page, and so I handed in a page with what I thought were the strongest arguments for the climate hysteria being exaggerated. I got a vague and somewhat funny response from the examiner... She said, roughly, that it didn't at all need to be that way, and that many of my classmates were much more critical. (Which is a silly thing t say... To accept a notion that over-throws everything you've until now believed in and fought for does hardly make you uncritical! It makes you open-minded and very self-critical.) I got interested and asked her to send me these other students' papers so that I could read them. Then she said that she couldn't give out other students' work without their permission. So I asked her to please ask their permission. (Why wouldn't they give it? Wouldn't most of us only be happy if our work could be of interest to anybody, other than the teacher?) But she replied that I could ask them myself instead. But the course was over so I wouldn't see them again, and I didn't know their names and much less their e-mail addresses, nor did I know who had written about this particular topic! So I asked her if I could at least have their e-mail addresses then so that I could ask them, but I didn't get them. Weird behavior!! ...Wasn't it?

Then in 2006 Al Gore's movie came, and suddenly the whole world turned around! This could have been happy days for me, when I finally obtained redress for all my thankless work... if only I hadn't just started turning around in the opposite direction. Figures!

Quite soon I was made aware that Al Gore used of a gigantic presentation scam in his movie, which I recount here. (In short he talks as if the temperature curve follows the carbon dioxide rate curve, when in fact it is the other way around.) And you know, when somebody makes such a huge mistake, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it becomes hard to trust anything of what that person says.

I now started pressuring all my tutors for an answer about how it really was with this climate change thing. Most of them said it wasn't their field. One of the tutors in the course where we handled the greenhouse effect said: "Well, it's hard to imagine what else could be causing it!", which is about the same answer as believers in God gives to the origin of life... My master thesis examiner, Göran Petersson, turned out to be a convinced skeptic.

Let me give you some background to Göran Petersson. He is now way above retirement age, but carries on working at Chalmers in what seems to be an unimpeded pace. He is a committed environment advocate! He is one of the few among my tutors who was consequently using his findings and expertise to try and influence the social development through debate articles, TV appearances etc. He rounded off his course plans by writing that if also it wouldn't go so well on the exam, we shouldn't let this bring us down. A life-long commitment could often be as useful to the environment, if not more, than the ability to cram large amounts of facts in a short time!... Meaning he assumed we were there in his course (of which at least one was compulsory) to save the environment, rather than to get good grades or a fine job! He encouraged students to do political activism in the university, and complained that there was far too little of that, these days.

He was also one of those who killed the acidification hype. You see, a few decades before the climate beat, the acidification beat swept across Sweden. All environmental problems could then be blamed on acidification, which was very convenient since most of the acidification came from down the continent and the UK, and so we didn't have to change anything ourselves. Göran Petersson and his colleague Olle Ramnäs then walked in another direction and managed to show that the forest death that we observed to the largest part was caused by tropospheric ozone, from our own domestic traffic.

If Göran Petersson was now a convinced climate skeptic, this was an opinion of grave significance to me.

I went to some sort of panel debate at Chalmers... Some 6 or 7 researchers held a short presentation each about their work concerning the climate change. One of them was from the IPCC. All the speakers agreed in large about the climate threat, if they also had slightly different angles and figures. The audience, which consisted mostly of employees and students at Chalmers, was more skeptical. Several of them brought up the issue of Al Gore's turned around causality argument with temperature and carbon dioxide, and the man from IPCC said (revealing some impatience) that he couldn't understand what difference it made, since we knew that at least there was a causality relation in the direction that Al Gore said as well!... Which I found provokingly ignorant! On the whole, he was the one of them who made the most careless and unscientific impression. But this may have been because he was not a researcher himself... but only summarized research? This round of presentations anyway obviously didn't convince the audience, and it didn't convince me.

Later, my supervisor in my master project, secondary school teacher and biogas expert Björn Martén, said that it probably was the nuclear power lobby that was behind the climate hype... Because the only thing that could quickly replace our present consumption of fossil fuels, without forcing us to cut down on our energy usage and thus our lifestyle, was nuclear power! My subsequent studies in the field has confirmed this.

Eight years have passed since this time. Still nothing has managed to really convince me! Ok, so I haven't been actively looking into it either, but still. Then, a few weeks back, I started discussing climate with an online friend on Skype. He said there had been a complete scientific consensus in this since 1992, and that since then it had only been an issue of the uneducated very slowly getting it. But the highly educated skepticism that I had experienced around me at Chalmers was, as you can see, one and a half decade later...

I told my Skype buddy about Göran Petersson, and he said he was interested in reading some of what he had published in the field. So I contacted Göran again (something I've done many times over the years, for various reasons), and he sent me this (translated by me):

Here is my critical review of carbon dioxide in the parliament (with links to some earlier reports):

For the present state, I recommend climate4you:

I forwarded it to my Skype buddy but I haven't heard from him again. When I clicked into climate4you myself, one of the first links I found was "The BIG picture". There I found, among other things, these pictures:

Global temperature over 420'000 years. The dotted line is the modern temperature. What's inside the little read box is shown in more detail in the graph below. From:
Top graph: Global temperature 10'000 years back, up until 1850.
Bottom graph: Carbon dioxide rate 10'000 years back, up until 1777.

Since the data above comes from ice cores, the last few hundred years are not there. In the caption of the original graph you can read that the carbon dioxide levels have since then risen to around 395 ppm (which is way off the chart) and that temperature has risen to about the same levels as they were in the medieval warm period.

Note that the normal state of the earth is ice age, with around 7 degrees lower temperatures than now.
Note how well the temperature increase of the latest 100 years, up to medieval temperatures, blends in with the temperature fluctuations of all times, and doesn't look at all special.
Note how the climate has been unusually stable for unusually long in the last 10'000 years, but how it has still fluctuated more in this time than what we've seen in the last 100 years. In the Minoan warm period, and twice before that in this 10'000 year period, it was 0.75 degrees warmer than now, and 8'000 years ago the temperature rose 2 degrees, just as fast as it is rising today.
Note, of course, how the carbon dioxide curve, in this shorter time perspective than that of Al Gore, doesn't at all follow the temperature curve...! It seems highly uncertain to claim that that last 100 year temperature increase must be caused by the increase in carbon dioxide rate... I mean, what were all the earlier fluctuations caused by?

The IPCC, without exception, make all their graphs about the last 100 years (which are not seen above). To show these last 100 years, without putting them into the above perspective, seems to me like severe misrepresentation of data.

I went to a Green Party congress a few weeks ago. Greenpeace was there! They were lobbying for us to support a motion to use our governmental energy company to phase out brown coal mining in Germany (because a Swedish government owned company owns the power plants there) which I supported. I took the opportunity to discuss the above images with some of them. To my grief they were all totally confused, and said that this was not consistent with what they had previously seen. Which could be explained by them previously only having seen Al Gore's temperature and carbon dioxide curves over 650'000 years, and IPCC's many graphs concerning only the last 100 years. I asked the activists if they knew how large a part of the total greenhouse effect that was caused by water, but they had lots of trouble even understanding the question, and when they did they had no clue of the answer. I also spoke to another Green Party member who said that he had heard that the temperature was higher now than in millions of years before, which you can see is absolutely not the case!!... Even if the temperature should rise the predicted 3 degrees in total, it would make it higher than in the last 10'000 years, true, but not higher than in the last 420'000 years. Should it go up 5 degrees it would be. Then maybe it would be higher than in millions of years. But do we really know that this will happen?

The Greenpeace activists said over and over that it was only some percent of all researchers who opposed the consensus notion (and that Göran Petersson must be in this percent). They said that if you checked who financed these few percent it was most often the oil industry (which is not true about Göran). One of them tipped me off to check out what Hans Rosling has to say in the matter, which of course I immediately did as soon as I got home, because Hans Rosling is a big idol of mine. The things he has taught me! This was the best of him I could find in this topic:

19 min

And OH MY DISAPPOINTMENT when he too makes a logical somersault, almost as big as Al Gore's!!... So he says that he's going to talk about the climate over 300 years, 100 years back and 200 years forwards. He shows a graph from the IPCC report, showing how the sea levels have risen in the last 100 years, according to various sources with strong agreement, and says (here it comes):

"So as I read it: Today the question 'Does human change climate - yes or now?', that's over. That is set. The big question nowadays is 'How much will it change?'" (at time-stamp 5:21 in the movie above. Watch from 3:34 for background.)

What??!! But that's not at all what the graph is showing!! The graph only shows that the climate is changing, not that it is the humans who are making it change! Maybe he is not basing the conclusion on the graph but on something else entirely, but on what then, and if so, why does he say "as I read it"? Clearly the most likely interpretation at hand to the listener must be that he bases the conclusion on the graph he is showing and talking about, and if so the conclusion is all wrong! Because as we have seen, climate has always been changing, and the last 100 years are not at all unusual.

The rest of the video presents, in itself interesting, statistics about energy consumption distributed over different sources of energy and over different income groups in the world, but this I already know.

Then I found this article in Wall Street Journal, talking about the 97% myth. It says that sure, scientists are in agreement that the climate is getting warmer, and that humans have an influence on the climate, but that no 97% of them think that humans are causing the larger part of the warming, or that the situation is alarming! Now of course the Wall Street Journal doesn't feel like the most reliable source in the world, but it does link to other sources, and among them a petition with 31'000 signatures by scientists, having signed a statement that "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere". 31'000! That's quite a lot... And scientists who don't even like to sign petitions...

Here is a survey, found via the above article, which clearly shows that the degree of agreement is far below 97%. More precisely, the scientists were very sure that we have a global warming going on, but far less sure that humans cause the larger part of it.

The scientists were asked to answer on a scale of 1-7 (where 1 is the lowest and 7 the highest) how sure they are of, in the top image, that the climate is changing, and in the bottom image, that humans are causing the largest part of the change. On the question of whether the climate is at all changing, 67% have answered with a 7, and 87% have answered with either a 7 or a 6. On the question of whether it is humans causing it only 35% answered with a 7, and 67% with either a 7 or a 6. The mean value of the answers of the bottom question is 5.7, and no less than 16% actually answered 4 or less, where 4 thus is the middle option. Ok, so they are clearly leaning towards the affirming side, but it is still far less than a 97% consensus!... At least consensus with certainty... Further, this is just a survey, so the scientists were asked to make a subjective guess about the answer to the questions, not to give an answer based on their own research. And funnily enough, they gauge the technical abilities to predict the climate far lower than their certainty that humans cause the larger part of the climate change...

But ok. Maybe it is as the majority of the scientists after all are guessing. And maybe the IPCC knows something that I don't, which shows with 95% certainty that the temperature will rise with minimum 3 and maximum 5 degrees because of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. This could be the case! But let me ask you something: If this is the case, why is it so very hard to find the evidence of this? Why is it super easy to find graphs showing that the temperature has increased in the last 100 years (as if anybody doubted this), but quite impossible to find the data that they build their 3-5 degrees increase estimate on? And why are there such severe fallacies and logical somersaults among some of the primary advocates of the idea? And why are so many of the most enthusiastic advocates of radical climate politics totally clueless about basic facts concerning climate and carbon dioxide? Why do they harbor so many misconceptions, like that it's warmer now than in millions of years, or that water is an insignificant greenhouse gas? And why is the press saying that 97% of scientists are sure of an opinion that they really aren't sure of?...

This reminds me of the time just after the Swedish minister of foreign affairs, Anna Lind, was murdered. Almost immediately a person was arrested, and I found it odd that everywhere in the press and on TV he was referred to as "the murderer of Anna Lind", despite the police stating that he was "suspected with reason" (rough translation by me) which according to the same press and TV channels was a low degree of suspicion. How could everybody be so sure, when even the police, who were the only ones who had actually investigated it, were not? And the public was soon equally sure. Everybody talked about "the murderer of Anna Lind", and how relieving it was that he had been caught. I remember talking on the phone one evening with a law student friend of mine, and he also said this:

"They caught Anna Lind's murderer now at least, that's a relief". I replied after some hesitation:
"Yeah, I'm also starting to accept this now... Up until now I have been feeling that 'Wait until the trial is over, he is only suspected with reason yet', but I'm also starting to believe now that it is actually him..."

It was only a day or two after this conversation that this person was released, and a totally different person was arrested, as "suspected with probable reason" (another translation by me), which is much stronger, and later was also convicted!... If you wish to be conspiracy-theoretical you might suspect that this first person, who received some damage compensation for his trouble, had been held in arrest just to keep the population calm and happy while they were looking for the real murderer!

Well, it feels the same way now. Everybody is convinced of what is about to happen, but nobody can present any evidence for it. And I don't want to fall for it again, and start believing it me too, without evidence! So please, is there anybody who has evidence? NOT showing that the temperature has risen over the last 100 years, I already know this, but that it is somewhat certain that it will continue to rise with a total of 3-5 degrees due to anthropogenic release of greenhouse gases! If so, please show them to me, I ask.

Further reading:
This blog: Al Gore's gigantic presentation scam, 2015-07-02
Science and Public Policy Institute: 35 Inconvenient Truths - The errors in Al Gore's movie, 2007-10-19
The Telegraph: Al Gore's 'nine inconvenient truths', (A British high court rules that there are 9 factual errors in the movie, making it a political propaganda movie unsuitable for showing in British schools, unless these errors are pointed out to the children) 2007-10-11

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Al Gore's gigantic presentation scam

In 2006 Al Gore presented the movie An Inconvenient Truth. In this he lobbied for the notion that the increased greenhouse effect, with global warming as a result, was a problem of catastrophic dimension. And the opinion of the world shifted to his will.

But Al Gore made an unforgivable mistake in his presentation.

On the board he drew up a curve showing how the carbon dioxide rate has varied in the atmosphere during the last 650'000 years. Underneath this curve he showed how the temperature has varied during the same 650'000 years. He pointed out that the curves followed each other quite well. Then he said: "When the concentration of carbon dioxide is high, the temperature goes up".

Then he went on to show where the carbon dioxide concentration was today, and where it would be in a near future, in less than 50 years. He put on a great show demonstrating how very, very high it was, by going up in a lift machine and complaining about his vertigo...

When he continued talking, he expressed himself as if he was talking about the temperature, even though it was in fact the carbon dioxide he was talking about. As if these two were one and the same thing! As if it didn't matter which one of those you talked about, because they were exactly identical anyway!

But they aren't. First of all, you can see already from the two curves that they don't always follow each other. They are similar to each other, but deviate sometimes for a few thousands of years. Secondly, and more importantly, it is so, according to all serious sources, that it is the carbon dioxide curve that follows the temperature curve, and not the other way around! This is among other things due to the permafrosts that thaw up when temperatures are high, releasing carbon dioxide that is otherwise bound there, and the reduced solubility of gases in water with higher temperature, making the oceans release more carbon dioxide otherwise dissolved there.

At a panel debate at Chalmers University of Technology where I studied, this was put forth from several in the audience (which consisted mostly of employees and students at the university). A representative of the IPCC in the panel then said that he could not understand what difference this would make! Because if we know that an increase in temperature leads to an increase in carbon dioxide rate AND that an increase in carbon dioxide rate leads to an increase in temperature, all the more reason to be concerned! Then the problem rather becomes even bigger than what Al Gore showed!

But that's of course not how it is. The direction of the causality makes a world of difference. Let me illustrate this with an example. It is as if I would say:

"If it rains the ground gets wet. Therefore, if I go out and pour a number of buckets of water on the ground it will start to rain!"

No, that's not the case! The first sentence is right, but the second one is wrong. The error occurs because the causality has the opposite direction, namely that it is the raining that leads to the wetness of the ground, not the wetness of the ground that leads to rain.

Now of course it may be so that there exists a causality in the other direction as well! If I pour out a very large amount of water on the ground perhaps the humidity of the air as the water evaporates is increased to much that it actually, in some cases, triggers some little rainfall. But even if that is so, the strength of this causality has nothing to do with the strength of the opposite causality. The rule rain => wet ground, is very strong, whereas the rule wet ground => rain, is very weak. And if nobody before has poured any water on the ground right here, so that all the wetness of the ground historically has come from rain, and you draw up curves of how the the ground wetness and the rainfall have varied here, you will be able to see how the curves follow each other very neatly historically. But the moment I start experimenting with pouring water on the ground from a different source, the curves will deviate from one another. There is no reason to believe that they would keep co-varying just as nicely, now that I've suddenly brought in a new phenomenon into the statistics, a whole new significant factor causing an increase in one of the parameters, wetness on the ground!

And this is exactly how it is in the case of carbon dioxide and temperature. The rule temperature => carbon dioxide is very strong. Historically the carbon dioxide curve has therefore followed the temperature curve well, if also not perfectly, as there are also other factors influencing the carbon dioxide rate. The rule carbon dioxide => temperature on the other hand doesn't at all need to be as strong. At least Al Gore doesn't present any data indicating that it is, since the data he does present, according to all the experts I've heard commenting on the two curves, is explained by the causality directed temperature => carbon dioxide. Now we know that we have introduced a new phenomenon into the statistics, namely anthropogenic, industrial production of carbon dioxide, the like of which has never been seen, and there is therefore no reason to believe that the temperature and carbon dioxide curves will continue following each other. Rather they should deviate from each other as from that moment. This makes Al Gore's little show with the lift machine and the vertigo fall flat.

All this due to the direction of causality. Therefore it worries me that a representative of the IPCC, by his own accord, cannot understand what difference the direction of the causality makes, in this case responsible for the historical congruence of the temperature and carbon dioxide curves, since we know that there is a causality in both directions anyway!... If he cannot understand this, he understands very little of how scientific data must be read, and then I don't give much for whatever else he might have to say.

Likewise, after such a presentation scam, I don't give much for whatever else Al Gore might have to say.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

My plea for Chelsea Manning

Dear Maj. #Gen_Buchanan,

I plead to you kindly, to reduce the sentence of Chelsea Manning. As a Swede, where whistleblowers have recently been receiving a stronger and stronger protection through new laws (Lex Sarah and Lex Maria), I find it chocking and appalling that Chelsea Manning be imprisoned at all, for an act which was clearly aimed to be in the service of the public. An act which I also feel largely WAS in the service of the public!

Of course, it would have served us better if authorities had taken their responsibility seriously, and made somebody have to answer for the crimes that young Ms Manning exposed! It is a great disappointment to me that this yet has not happened. The fact that Ms Manning has been sentenced to pay such a dear price for her service to us, under these circumstances, is spitting in our face! (And yes, I do consider myself part of the public that Ms Manning's brave action served. National borders are unimportant in these issues of human rights, and crimes of war.)

Therefore I beg you again, please reduce Chelsea Manning's sentence!

Yours sincerely,
Karolina Hagegård

Last day to write and send in your letters now!
I will of course post my own, in signed paper format, during the day. The address is:

Private Manning Support Network
484 Lake Park Ave, #41
Oakland, CA 94610

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Children stories

When I was a child I thought Piglet in Winnie the Pooh was a girl. I thought the rabbit in the (Swedish) Bamse magazine was a girl as well. There are some more that I remember, and there must have been plenty of others in plenty of stories that I've forgotten, that I thought were girls, but it turned out with time, character by character, that I was wrong. None of them were girls. If on the other hand I thought they were boys, then I’d be right. Every time.

When I learned that Piglet was a he, I didn’t like it at first, and I decided to ignore it and let her stay a she in my world. Partly of course since she already was a she to me and it would be hard and a bit of a shame to have to rethink and change everything. Partly because I thought it was more suitable for a small, pink figure to be a she. But partly because I thought that if Piglet was also a boy, then they would all be boys! Piglet, Pooh, Eeyore, Tiggr, well everyone, except Christoffer Robin’s faceless mother! And in the opinion of my little child brain, that wouldn’t be as interesting…

But of course I had to give in pretty soon, when I learned to read myself.

My friend and first love Simon from England was just here for a visit. It turned out that Simon would call everyone and everything “he”. The driver of the car way over there, and of course “the rich man” or “the politician” in the examples, but also the sea gulls, the worms, even the pieces in the checker game.
“How do you know it’s a he?”, I asked a few times, and of course he didn't. Then we agreed that just for fun we would start calling everyone “she” in stead, as soon as we didn’t know, or it didn’t really matter. Simon was quite bad at it in the beginning, but he got better with time.

It was on the final day of his stay that we played checkers. None of us had played it much before so we were happily discussing the tactics, for the mutual learning. I called the pieces “this one” or “that one”, he called them “he”, and so we decided that they must be shes; short, violent little girls fighting to extinguish one another. It didn’t help. When the excitement gripped us I would still say “this one” and he would say “he”. I corrected him time after time, and eventually he interrupted the tactics talk and looked up with surprise…
“Why is it so hard?!”, I asked. “I know you’re trying, so why is it still so impossible to see genderless pieces as ‘she’ when it works perfectly fine to see them as ‘he’?”
“…But I guess I don’t really have a reason to want to change”, said he. “I have to take offence myself, and feel that it's wrong to hear myself call them ‘he’, and I don’t really, quite the contrary! Because in fact, if all the important ones are always hes, then it means that I'm important. It tells me that I am better than you! And that makes me feel goood! Weheeey!”
He rose a fist towards the sky.

After that analysis, all the pieces really where shes, and nobody got it wrong anymore. Suddenly Simon burst out:
“Now all of a sudden it feels unfair that they are all shes!!! Why are they ALL shes, it doesn’t feel good at all, I’m actually a bit pissed off by that!”
We smiled, and then he said with a softer voice:
“And that's scary, because then I realise that this is how you must be feeling all the time…”

Yeah. I suppose it is.

And had the world gone from an equal representation to this tremendous unbalance over-night, had someone suggested: ‘Hey, I know! Let’s make all examples into only one of the genders! For simplicity! (Except parents, some low salary professionals etc, that we'll call the opposite gender!)’, it would never have happened. People would not see the point! People would have objected! And been angry, pissed off! But I was just a child when I slowly learned to realize that I was not to be regarded, never present among the examples. I never got pissed off. Only surprised. Perplexed. Disappointed. Humbled, pushed aside and stepped upon…

Later, there are some who get angry. We have a name for those. We call them 'rabid man haters' and claim contemptfully that they get all worked up over nothing. That they act counterproductively to the struggle for gender equality, which is a totally different thing.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Fiery speach on the International Men's Day

Happy Men's Day, all men! :) This fiery speech is for you.

I wouldn't want to celebrate the International Men's Day by pointing out any "uniquely manly" qualities that make them special and likable. That is just stereotypical and unfair on those who don't fit the model. (Like everyone.) I would however like to honour all men by bringing up some of the injustices that they are subjected to:

- Men still die most from wars.

- Men die most from murders (in most countries, but not all).

- Men die most from suicides (in most countries, but not all). This has to do with the fact that although men are less often depressed, they don't seek help when they are, and therefore often sink deeper.
(See graphics on Fathers For Life)
- Men die younger (in ALMOST all countries..., but not all), due to a long list of culture, society and life style factors. (...And the occasional biological factor as well.)
(See Wikipedia - List of countries by life expectancy)

- Men are, on top of this, always accused of being the guilty half; guilty of wars, violence, sex offences and gender discrimination. And even though there may be some statistical truth in that, it must be tiring for the individual to always be guilty, regardless what you do and what you don't. And... in the end you might ask yourself what is the chicken and what is the egg here...!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Afterthought on Breivik's prison sentence

Blimey! It turned out the way I hoped! That happens so seldom to me...

So Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced to prison, not mental care, and has thus been deemed "sane" at the time of the crime. I was glad when hearing on the radio that the court had rejected the first investigation, the one that claimed that Breivik was not sane, stating among other things that you must differ between a political vision and a delusion caused by insanity! (Implicitly: 'Even if you find the political vision in question quite insane...!')

But the positive surprise soon got a foul after taste when I realised that I had, of course!, ended up in the same lot with the "harsher methods" propagators, and those who are "happy that he will never be out again". That is not me.

Sunbathing at Bastøy prison
I'm the kind of person who likes Bastøy prison in Norway. A "human-ecological" prison, where the interns have access to sauna, horse-back riding, tennis court, forests, beaches and sunbeds, and where they of course have a job to go to Mon - Fri. I found a British article about it here:

Norway’s controversial experiment – healing prisoners instead of punishing

There you can read that while prisons all through Europe have a reoffending rate of 70-75%, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have a reoffending rate of 30% and Norway of 20%. Bastøy has a reoffending rate of only 16%. Isn't that how it should be? Isn't that the point with the whole justice system? To make people stop doing crime?

Perhaps it isn't... It strikes me how defensive the British article is. It has phrases like: "whatever is happening here may be condemned, but cannot be ignored". What? 'Condemned', isn't that a kind of strong word? Why would you condemn something nice and good? I mean you could snarl at it, or laugh, or shake your head believing it will never work, but 'condemn', surely!... That's what you do with crimes against humanity! It could be understandable if it were costly, but it's not - quite the contrary! Bastøy is Norway's cheapest prison per intern, partly because the prisoners work and produce most of their own food, but also because they recycle, handle their own waste, use horses instead of cars and make use of local energy such as wind and solar power. It's in line with the philosophy: We are a part of our environment. If we do harm to nature or people around us, somehow it'll come back at us. And so we should be a positive part of our environment.

The British article says this (defensively) about the cost: "The cost will be of some consolation to those who think the prisoners are having it too easy". 'Some consolation', huh? We need comforting?

Well even the title: "Norway's controversial experiment – healing prisoners instead of punishing", what's so controversial about that? When I first saw the title I actually understood it as being meant ironical, but after having read the article, I changed my mind. Well it actually says, straight out: Fresh opinion polls show that the British oppose recent reforms to stop over-population of prisons and high reoffending rates by shortening punishments and placing prisoners in a work environment. The British instead want longer and harsher punishments. It's good to know the audience you're writing for...

Truly, we are losing. The cruel and ignorant are taking over. Those who don't care about the actual reoffending rates and call for harsher methods, are taking over. Breivik is taking over.

For this is exactly what Anders Behring Breivik is: Cruel and ignorant, calling for harsher methods. And so I would wish that Breivik ends up at Bastøy, and that he gets to learn that stuff about being part of nature, and that if you harm it, it comes back. And that how can we know that we're right if we don't discuss with an open mind, and learn to see it from the other side too? That we have to live and let live, not correct others with violence, because it could happen that we are wrong. That all we can do is to discuss and hope the others will listen, and if not step down, despite still believing that we're right. Since it still could happen that we're wrong. That he will realise that he was wrong, and change... Only then will I be able to say: "Got ya!"

Because Anders still believes that he's right. He claimed "defence of himself and others" in the court, meaning that he should be acquitted, since he had only done what he saw as necessary to protect the nation. And that he doesn't appeal the conviction is only because he doesn't opine the state to be enlightened enough to understand what he understands, and "in a state which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just person is also a prison" (Henry David Thoreau). Such a just person, a martyr, is he. And of course, the harsher his prison conditions the more unjust is the state, and the more just and martyrish is Anders!

This was not what I wanted. I just wanted Breivik to be sentenced to prison instead of mental care, so that the society must regard him as sane, so that it wouldn't be so easy for them to dismiss him as just a lone lunatic, so that they would have to face up to their own responsibility, scrutinise themselves, and maybe realise how faulty the chosen, harsh road is, so that they could change direction, towards more solidarity, so that in the end we could get more humane, more constructive and of course shorter prison sentences! Yes. ...But you already realised that, didn't you!;)

See also:
On the conviction against Anders Behring Breivik, 2012-08-24 

More quotes about Bastøy from the Brittish article:
'Bastoy takes the opposite approach to a conventional prison where prisoners are given no responsibility, locked up, fed and treated like animals and eventually end up behaving like animals.

‘Here you are given personal responsibility and a job and asked to deal with all the challenges that entails. It is an arena in which the mind can heal, allowing prisoners to gain self-confidence, establish respect for themselves and in so doing respect for others too.’

According to the governor, the principles upon which Bastoy are based can be traced back to a mixture of theories on psychology, sociology and ecology which emerged from the heady hothouse of early Seventies West Coast American academia. But the origins are even older.

‘I believe the UK is going in the wrong direction – down a completely mad and hopeless path, because you still insist on revenge by putting people into harsh prison conditions which harm them mentally and they leave a worse threat to society than when they entered.

‘This system actually has nothing to do with Norway specifically or this island, so I see absolutely no reason why it can’t be adopted in the UK.’

Bastoy’s results, like the prisoners, the guards and indeed the governor, have an unsettling way of speaking for themselves.