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Jaan Kross not sighted in Bermuda

December 31st 2007, I published the following prediction on Gardistan in Vision:

When I first started to read Keiserns Galning, I thought it might be an autobiography. Not that it fits with Jaan's actual timeline, but either way it felt as if the author wrote it a very long time ago, and naturally had to be dead now.

Then I learned that he was very much alive. I decided that Jaan Kross therefore is immortal. Kind of like a vampire, except he writes to stay alive instead of sucking blood.

When I received the news that he had just passed away, I was proven wrong. He is not immortal. But I expect that also this assumption is wrong, and that we will receive new reports of Jaan Kross sightings in Bermuda on January 31st 2012.

We are now almost a year behind the predicted date of Jaan Kross sightings in Bermuda. As far as I'm able to pull out of the Internet, however, I can find no reports of Jaan Kross sightings in Bermuda on January 31st 2012. So I have either been wrong, or I might have been kidding.

You should still pick up the book, though.


Defence definitions

When I grew up, I learned that the Norwegian military was a defence organization, whose purpose was to defend Norway from enemies invading the country. Defending Norwegian citizens in Norway. Turns out that I was taught a fairytale that has become the common idea among citizens.

The typical examples was Germany under WWII and the possibility of an attack from the Sovjet Union during the cold war, not to mention the centuries of surveilling "the Finnish Danger" i.e. Sámis who migh side with Finland in a Norwegain-Finnish war. And Sweden? We have been fighting against Sweden before. And Denmark. That's what the military was about. Keep Norway Norway.

So while I was checking the Mistry of Defence's web page in search for more information about current missions in Afghanistan and, consequently, how that could possibly be part of defending Norway, I accidentally found that their official policy statement (which is roughly a mission statement) was last updated in 2011.

Translated, the statement now reads:
    The Defence shall be developed into a modern, flexible, alliance adapted instrument, where is seeks a balance between the Defence's tasks, structure and access to resources. The organization shall be based on a close cooperation with relevant civil authorities and compulsary drafts practices in line with the Defence's needs. Focus shall be to secure and promote/develop Norwegian interests through the handling of a wide spectrum of challenges nationally and internationally.
Do what? By the sound of it, this is no longer about defending Norwegian territory, but may very well be interpreted as - promoting Norwegian music labels by bombing British music labels. Of course, we know we're not talking about music labels, but it would include taking part of invading other countries if that secures good terms with allies. Remember "The coalition of the willing"?

The give-away is already in the first sentence: The Defence is not to be developed into something that keeps Norway safe - it is an instrument. It is a very peculiar choice of words.

One would think that the mission was narrowed down by going to the Ministry of Defence, the people in charge of this "instrument". But no. The MoD clearly defines themselves as "An office of government responsible for defining and executing security- and defence policies" which basically leaves them open to define defence any way they like.

I wonder if I could persuade them to fund my "soft power" project. That is, conquer evil with good. There just is no better defence than promoting good.


Book: La scoperta di Milano / The discovery of Milan

For my 40th  birthday, my wife gave me a book by Giovannino Guareschi, translated to Norwegian under the name "Min egen lille verden" (My own little world), which turns out to be Nino's first book ever published.

It gives a tongue-in-cheek description of Nino's life in rural Italy, the transition to big city life in Milano, and eventually, life-after-death experience. It is easy to identify with Nino's story, which goes to show that the world has not changed much over the 72 years that have passed since the book was published. Even the daily problems with modern technology are present.

It was a book that was hard to put down as the clock ticked past midnight. Yet I am painfully aware that all I have is the Norwegian translation from 1954. I can only imagine how much better the Italian original would be to read. Perhaps this could be my first book to learn Italian?

Either way, I highly recommend La scoperta di Milano (The discovery of Milan) as a good bed time read. And it leaves you with the question: What is it about authors and their Margheritas?



Everything that I write is the truth
Unless I write it in a piece of fiction
In which case I can still call it truth
Because it is truth within my fiction



"In our last meeting, you used a specific term, and I would be interested in a deeper explanation of what you meant. You said you were anti-authoritarian."

The question took me off guard. How do I explain my anti-authoritarian mindset to someone who is not inside my head? And why was this at all important? Either way, a good staring point for an article, isn't it?

It all dates back to a revelation I had when I was much shorter than I am today. And when I speak of revelation, I'm talking visions in a meditative state, close to or in dreams. I have a very visual mind, and although I do not relate a dream to truth, it can often be the beginning of a deeper reflection that eventually produces some kind of truth.

In this specific case, I started out with a large crowd representing all humans within a society. Some of these humans were placed physically higher than others, and they were preaching and dictating, and I saw these as authorities. And as everyone else, I thought it as desirable to climb the ladder and become one of these elevated people. But how? What made these people so special? What made them more valuable than others?

Almost as an immediate reply to my question, the elevation disappeared, and everyone were now on the same level. There was nothing that made these people more valuable than others. And with this, I also lost the feeling of authority coming from them. Authority as a concept became something as alien to me as racism. Your elevated position in society, your position of power, your authoritarian rule, it is all a psychological illusion for the ruler and the ruled.

"So if your boss tells you to do something, and you don't agree with how he wants you to do it, you just go and do your own thing anyway?"

At this point, I'm wondering where we're going with this conversation. But this is not the point at all. If the boss has a good reason, let him explain this reason. I protest when I see that the proposed solution doesn't make sense from my point of view and, I'm sorry, but I think I have a better overview of my specific field than my boss does. That's why I have my job and he has his job. They are different jobs covering different fields. I respect you for your skill in your field, you respect me for my skill in my field, and we're ok.

And this is how I lead my department as well. As a leader, my job is not to boss around, but to shed light on the path forward. I expect my employees to bring out their own torches and shed more light on a subject if there was something I missed. I am willing to take new information, admit that I had missed something, and together we move forward on the right path.

Authoritarian rule, however, does not listen. Does not take new information in. Does not notice when it steps on people. Authoritarian rule is based on the idea that position of power is all, and reason is not necessary.

To me, authority in people does not exist. Authority lies only in facts. Facts just can't be beaten, facts always end up winning. Facts like gravity, and "if we push this box, then that other one is going to fall down."

That said, my job is also to do what my boss tells me to do. And when he will not listen to reason, I will obey. That is the contract of employment, and I signed that contract. However, the very same contract also specifies that I should lead the company when it comes to my specific field. Every time my boss overturns any decisions I make - which are usually the result of a team effort, so he's actually wielding authority over the entire department - he is, as such, breaking the contract.

And for every breach of contract, I will reevaluate it.

"Is this how you would put it? Would you be comfortable with such an explanation?" he asked, looking at the third party participant, as if I was a terrorist.

Those who get worried about anti-authoritarians are usually the authoritarians.


How we can shift the world

It doesn't matter what you believe - if you're into a New Age movement, if you're religious, if you're not. The message still is - you can only have a war against terror if something other than terror is participating. If you use terror to fight terror, then terror will win. It's just a question of whose terror wins. Use love to fight terror. And showing love is something we all can participate in.


The Refugee Resource

As we see an increase in refugees entering Europe, there is nothing politicians love more than surf the wave of "the refugee problem". But as with so many problems, I like to ask if it really is a problem, or a potential resource.

The "problem" is what you do with a whole bunch of unemployed people with nowhere to stay? You have to build houses, produce food, clothing - all these things cost money to pay the people who produce all this. Do you even have enough people to do all this work? And when you're done, you have houses full of unemployed.

Or we can look at the problem from the other side. You run away from people who think that you don't deserve to live - I mean, they literally want to kill you. And you arrive in a country where you're confined to a specific area and not allowed to have any value in the work force.

Isn't the solution pretty obvious? Give them enough land and tools to grow most of their own food, build houses, etc. The refugees have skills, you know. So I'm just throwing that in there - try to see refugees as a resource, not as a problem. Because seeing them as a problem is what turned them into refugees in the first place. M'kay?


TMG: Statistical comparisons

TMG: This Morning in Gardistan

This time of year, the government releases the annual personal tax information of everyone who lives in Norway. And as usual, the press is having a ball. The Norwegian national broadcasting station NRK is no different and has put up the "very important" new about our new government: Those who now leave office are worth 16 times more than those who enter.

NRK has been criticized by the (winning) right wing for being left-center-friendly. Perhaps this is an attempt to befriend the new right wing government - after all, NRK's license income is based on government decisions.

While the comparison is only made in the headline, and although it is factual, the comparison is not really fair. It has been made a small attempt to rectify this with small letters in the sidebar, telling that this raw tax data is not the full story. Some objects are not taxable. We don't know how large the exempts are. There might be plenty of hidden wealth.

But the most obvious reason why the comparison is not fair has not been mentioned: Eight years in government.

The intersting comparisons are:

1) The wealth of the previous government at the moment they stepped in eight years ago, compared to the wealth of the new government, and

2) How much did the personal wealth of the previous government increase in their first four years compared to how much the current government will increase its personal wealth in their first four years.

Of course, the second comparison will be available only in four years from now.


Jurisdictional ambiguity

I attended this year's Atea Community in Ålesund, which as usually starts off with something about team work and motivation mixed with soccer. This year was no exception, and one of the things mentioned was that if a person is convicted for drug use, they will be blocked from ever entering the USA.

If we look away from the fact that this is a fear-induced lesson rather than a motivation (as long as you stay off drugs, you are welcome to visit the USA), I started to think of the legal implications. Drugs by whose definition?

You could be convicted for the consumption of alcohol in a country where this is considered a drug. Consumption of alcohol is legal in the USA. Being blocked could be a recognition that you did not heed the law of the country you were convicted in.

On the same note, you can drink alcohol when you're 18 in Norway, which means you have practically broken the law in the USA, where you must be 21. Or you have been smoking marijuana in the Netherlands, which is banned in most US states. This could be taken as evidence that you don't respect the laws in the US, since you have already engaged in activities that go against those laws.

Drug legislation is not unique. US legislation claims jurisdiction on all US citizens, no matter where they are in the world, which means that a person easily could end up in a legally impossible situation, where doing something would break US laws and not doing it would break local law.

It would be wise to just keep jurisdiction geographic before people suddenly find themselves with a state sanctioned citizenship of a different country against their will.


This is not terror

Car chase. Shooting. Injured. Killed. A car chase in Washington DC ends with gunfire, a woman killed and police officers injured. But this is not linked to terrorism. Which makes me ask the question, by whose definition?

What do you call the feeling you get when a bullet approaches you, and you know it will kill you? Well, terror. It might sound like nitpicking, but the boundaries we put on definitions also puts boundaries on how we think and handle the term.

I want to define terrorism as "the act of inflicting the feeling of terror into someone else". Failing to do so, we open for the possibility that generating terror in others can be justified in specific circumstances. Succeeding to name terror as terror, we open up to approaching terror as an emotional psychological foundation that causes violence, and at the same time gain a higher threshold to committing our own acts of terrorism.

This is not to say that one is necessarily better than the other, that all boils down to what you want out of life. It is a subjective matter, just like the feeling of terror itself is, indeed, subjective. What we do know, is that inflicting terror is a response to the feeling of terror. That is, a police officer may fire a gun (thus inflicting terror on the suspect) as a response to his own feeling of terror that comes as a result of the criminal pulls his own gun and pointing it at the police officer. The criminal did this because of his own feeling of terror from being chased, even though he was chased because society at large had a feeling of terror from the criminal's behaviour. The criminal may very well have been engaging in criminal behaviour because of his own feelings of terror from being in an economic hole.

Which all sums up to the fact that terror generates more terror. The question then, is whether you want to live in a world of terror? Do we want to just cap the amount of terror by reacting only when terror has reached a specific limit, or do we want to do something to practically eliminate human-generated terror, aka terrorism?

I vote for the latter. We must focus on how to reduce and possibly eliminate the amount of terror a human can inflict on others. And the way to do this is obviously to do the opposite: Instead of making others feel unsafe, which is the precursor to terrified, we must make others feel safe.


Information Security: Press release

So Pea Ridge school district made a press release concerning media attention to a specific case. The press release went like this:
    "The Pea Ridge School District is dedicated to providing a safe environment for our students, teachers and staff.

    "As reported in the media, the district has recently required some students to provide test results regarding their HIV status in order to formulate a safe and appropriate education plan for those children. This rare requirement is due to certain actions and behaviors that place students and staff at risk. The district respects the privacy and confidentiality of all students. It's is very unfortunate that information regarding this situation is being released by outside organizations.

    "Our goal is to provide the best education for every student, including those in questions, in a responsible, respectful and confidential manner."
The press release reveals more information than what has previously been known to the media, and also confirms that the incidence has taken place. In terms of personal information security, this is just wrong. A proper press release should be more like this:
    "The Pea Ridge School District is dedicated to providing a safe environment for our students, teachers and staff. As reported in the media, the district has a policy that allows us to demand an HIV test in certain circumstances. The full text of the policy may be found on our web page.

    Our goal is to provide the best education for every student, in a respectful and confidential manner. It is therefore unfortunate when a specific case concerning specific individuals is being printed by media, breaking the rule of confidentiality. This is not an issue that concerns the public at large. It is therefore in our policy not to discuss specific cases involving specific people with the media, as we shall also not comment on this specific case.

    What is in the public's interest is the district's policy, which, again, may be found on our web page. It is also in the public's interest if we have broken a law. The latter is to be decided in the courts of law."

See the difference?


He worked, he died

A friend of mine recently died from cancer. Although I did not have too much to do with him on a regular basis outside being my client at work, him being my doctor when I was sick, him becoming a neighbour when I bought the house, and meeting him a few times at the local choir, he was the kind of person that you can't help call a friend. If you spoke to him for no more than a minute, you'd consider him a life long friend.

His children made some wonderful speeches about how wonderful their father was.

Then came a co-worker. And the theme of co-workers were work. And I balked inside. Because they were not talking about his passion, but about work. "He was a good worker. He loved to work. He did a lot of overtime. He cared about work."

Those words. "Work." So much more could have been said. This man was a physician. He had a passion for people and helping them stay well and treating them when they were sick. He made personal contact with his patients, he truly cared, and that was his drive, his passion.

And somehow, this was boiled down to "he was a good worker who happily accepted a lot of overtime when necessary."

There was a whole bunch of them present. I see them as the "work mafia." Because what seems important to them is the idea that you work hard, not the content of your work, not your passion for your work. Which makes me think that I need a will that bans the words "work", "job" and "labour" in my funeral.

While I have a passion for the things I do for a living, I do those things because I have a passion for it. Not because it is a job. I take pride in the results of my work. It is my personal achievement. And I think this is how people deserve to be remembered - their passions. Their drive. The things that truly defined them.

That's what his children did. And that's why their speeches were so memorable.


Graded universities

It has been found that new, small universities in Norway are easier on the grades than the old heavyweight traditional four universities. It may be argued that small universities have a better teacher/student ration than the larger ones, the most plausible reason seems to be tradition.

These new universities are simply colleges that have matured into university status, and there seems to be a tradition that colleges are easier on the grades than universities. Students now have an adverse reaction to the implication of getting an "easy grade". They now fear that their degree will be worth less in the job market, because the employer may think they are not as good as someone from an older university.

"Which is unfair," says one student, "because I have worked hard for my grade." A statement that actually indicates that the grade was not easy to get after all.

How can this be?

There is a story about how someone wrote an essay and almost failed. He complained, another teacher read the essay and gave the guy an A. If a grade is supposed to reflect your skill, how can it be so subjective?

It all comes down to the definition of the grading system. The grade itself does not by itself give you an objective measure of how well you know the subject. It is a measure of how well you live up to your teacher's expectations. Expectations may vary greatly, and some may even have different expectations from different students in the same class, thus treating them differently.

In addition, students who actively discuss the subject in class tend to be favoured, as they show an interest in the subject, even if this may very well be an issue of introverts vs extroverts.

A better way?

The source material to setting the grade, however, is an indisputable measure. Subjects are divided into several lessons. Each lesson you either don't know, you're learning, or you master. The number of lessons you master is your skill level.

Someone at "Math level 1" knows how to count integers and nothing else. It doesn't matter if it is first grade or 10th grade, it is still level 1. In the grading system, that's an A for the first grader and an F for the 10th-grader. So an A or and F is not directly usable information.

To understand what an A and an F means, you have to find out what the expected skill level for that class was. And to make matter worse, these expectations may vary from year to year.

"Math level 1" still means the same thing, and can be used directly. So you're math level 3 and know how to add and subtract? Sorry, I need an employee with at least math level 5, because the job includes both multiplication and division.


Rating by levels rather than expectations makes learning into a game and is, in fact, quite similar to eduction gamification through Personal Kanban. I also believe that the psychology will be different, in that each level increase signifies a personal achievement that can start a positive spiral for new level increases.

Rating by expectations, however, means that if you're not able to keep up at some point, your grades will go down and thereby initiate a downward spiral instead.

In addition, gamification through skill level measurement, encourages "masterers" to assist those who are falling behind. Expectation rating, however, is a fear based system that encourages students to hide the fact that there are things they don't understand.


Information security: Students banned for being HIV positive.

In Arkansas, students have been banned from attending school for failing to declare their "HIV status". A statement from the school acknowledge that this is the case, and that they have educational purposes for knowing whether or not the students have HIV or not.

From an information security point of view, this is fail. Even though they have not named the students, they have still breached personal information: Within the school, it is visible who has been kicked out. By acknowledging that this has to do with HIV, the connection will be made. The appropriate response still is as simple as "I can not comment on individual students." "So is fear of HIV the reason for kicking them out?" "I can not comment on individual students." "Is it true that they have to give a test?" "I can not comment on individual students."

The correct response from media would then be to ask for the things that are supposed to be public. In this case, the assertion is that students that are suspected of having HIV are suspended or kicked out of school for not making a medical test to document their status. If this is the case, there must be a policy about this in the school. Hence, the question is "what is the school's policy on students with or suspected of having HIV?"

Simply because those things should be unrelated to the public unless the victims themselves takes the issue to the media. It might sound unfair, but even then, it is all at the victim's discretion what gets published. Because the institution can not comment on specific people, only recite policy to the media. Even if the victim lies to the media about an issue, the institution can only recite policy.

This is how a dialogue between journalist and institution would go, if the institution cared about information security:

"The victim says you did A, is this true."
"I can not comment on specific incidences concerning individuals."
"Is it normals for the institution to do A?"
"A is the procedural response to B"
"And has the victim done B?"
"I can not comment on specific incidences concerning individuals."
"But the victim has already said you did A."
"Again, I can not comment on specific incidences concerning individuals."
"The victim also said you did C."
"I can not comment on specific incidences concerning individuals."
"But C would cause B. Why would you do C?"
"It is not in our policy to do C. To my knowledge, we have never done C to anyone."
"Are you saying that the victim is lying?"
"I can not comment on specific incidences concerning individuals."

In the specific case in Arkansas, the combination of B and C lead to A. The victim spoke only of how B lead to A, which seems ridiculous. In a press release, the institution also mentions that there is a factor C, which has previously been unknown to the public. What is known is that A is suspension from shool, that B is a missing HIV test, the public is now free to speculate on what can be combined with HIV to cause suspension. And speculations are really nasty animals.


Letting democracy win

What if we could make democratic elections ... well ... democratic and meaningful?

Every four year, Norwegian citizens elect a new Norwegian government, although we statistically end up electing the same more often than we elect a new one. Every time, there are massive election campaigns, similar to the campaigns we see in other democracies around the world, with parties touring the country and bashing other parties, debating each other and occasionally trying to bribe voters. So are elections truly a representation of the people, or is the government hijacked by PR agencies?

Political engagement

In an actual democracy, people should at least be aware of what they think about an issue for the entirety of the four years the government sits. If a new political issue comes up now, right after the election, you have an entire four years to get your facts straight. Use that chance, or your vote will be hijacked by people who will not give you time to even think if their argument hold or not.

In addition to having a well thought out opinion, you also have the possibility and right to influence politicians directly by writing them. If you found a documentable flaw in an argument, make sure it gets documented and well known.

Campaign rules

It gets ugly. My first idea was to start up an NGO that keeps track of party karma. Every time a party presents something negative about another party, karma goes down. If they advertise their own programme, karma goes up. If they lie, karma goes down.

Better yet, this should go into legislation. To protect democracy, parties should not be allowed to slander each other. Three strikes and you're out of politics. Three out of the party, and the party is out of the election. Campaign about your own platform, not about how ridiculous you think other people's platforms are.

Fact check

One of the parties in the winning coalition of last week's election in Norway defended their platform with arguments that didn't hold up to fact checks or even logic check. Somehow, they were exempted from media scrutiny. I want to bring forth an abstraction of at least two issues known to me:

1) Moving the threshold the wrong way
A group of people A get divided into group B and group C. As it turns out, a very unpopular group D is made up ONLY of people from group B and E. Group C, on the other hand, are just fine. So to reduce the number of people in group D, they want to move the division threshold, so that more people from group A go into group B and fewer into group C, thus increasing the number of people who will end up in group D.

2) Restricting the wrong group
Two groups of people are under different legislation. There are great restrictions on who can apply to be part of group A, and you have no rights to benefit C. Due to international agreements, it is very easy to get into group B, where you do get and abuse benefit C. In order to reduce the abuse of benefit C, they wish to put heavier restrictions on people who want to join group A. To be able to hide that this is a flawed argument, they lied about group A's rights to benefit C. A fact check would have revealed this.

Even in a political climate where parties DO criticize each other, there was never a protest against this flawed logic. Even the state run "politically neutral" national TV station NRK did not confront or reveal the party about their lie in example 2.

New rule about politics: Three lies and you're out!


...and every year, we hear some parties saying that they "lost" and will look into what they did wrong in this campaign, while other parties cheer and celebrate that they won over the other parties. However, parties are not supposed to win a democratic election. The people are. And the people win the election only if the parliament accurately represents the diverse opinions of the people.

I am looking forward to the day when all elected representatives celebrate that "yes, we have put together a good representation of the population, and are happy to work with each other."


After the election is over and coalitions are formed, parties negotiate about core issues and ministers. Since ministers carry the power to implement politics, the resulting politics will come from these negotiations. This means that if everyone who elected party A did so because of issue B, are at risk of getting party C take that post, and party A gets post D instead, even though that's the one topic where the voters disagreed with party A.

Therefore, it would be more appropriate if we could elect which party each minister should come from. During the election, I could elect one party for minister of environmental protection, and another party for minister of education, because that would more accurately represent what I think in a holistic manner.


So here's the action plan:

  • Make use of all four years to find out what you mean in every political issue. Do it systematically.
  • Write to politicians about your findings. Get heard.
  • Document and publicize lies and flaws of logic.
  • Fact check the arguments.
  • During elections, parties should advertise their programmes, not what they think of other parties' programmes.
  • Campaign rule: Trash opposing party three times, and you're out of politics. A party losing three candidates this way, and the party is out of the election.
  • At any time: Three lies and you're out of politics.
  • Celebrate everyone who got elected, not just your own coalition. You are all there to represent the people.
  • Allow people vote on which party should take which ministry post for "holistic voting"
Think tank

So who wants to fund my politically independent political think tank?


Links for week 2013.37

Quantifying cities' emotional effect - scientific backing, that order attracts orderly behaviour and disorder attracts disorderly behaviour.

Vindskip - turning the ship into a sail - This area of Norway is already known for fuel saving and stabilizing inverted bows. Now, another engineer in the very same area has decided that you don't need lift as much as you need to turn the ship into a huge sail. Expected fuel savings: 60%

On Think Tanks - because I'm considering to implement one.

Baeckeoffe - because Alsatian cooking with history is worthy some attention.


Bullying: LoA-approach

A woman posted on an LoA group I'm a member of, asking for advice in the following scenario:

Her niece is overweight and gets bullied at school. She came across some advice that might help her reduce weight and approached her brother about it. The result was a shut down of communication.

The scenario is really four events. To keep things clear, I will treat the four events as separate, even though they obviously intertwine.

Getting bullied for being overweight

No. You do not get bullied for being overweight. The weight is a hook that the bully invented. If there was not the weight, there would be the glasses or your shoes or your nose or your hair or anything that the bully can think of.

The purpose of the hook is that you swallow it. The bully finds the one spot that you feel is wrong about yourself. As soon as you take the bait, he just has to pull you in. Hence, if you accept yourself the way you are, the bully can say anything, and it won't hurt you. Because you know the bully is just full of it. It's like the bully saying "ha ha, you think 2+2=4, stupid you!" Well, 2+2 is 4, thank you very much.

Someone who feels good about and are confident in themselves can not be bullied. Bullies even avoids confident people, because confident people remind the bully that they themselves are not confident. So if you want to help a victim, the best thing you can do for them is to accept them the way they are and nurture everything that the victim feels good about AND make their "weakness" also something that they feel good about.

Advice to help reduce weight

Is being overweight bad for your health? There's science going both ways on this one. LoA pretty much boils this down to: You are what you think you are. So if you believe obesity is bad for you, then it is bad for you. Also, if you believe that you deserve bad health for whatever reason, then that is what you are going attract for yourself.

If you accept who you are, as you are, unconditionally love yourself and the life you're in, for good and for bad, you will automatically also do the things that brings you good health. So the way to recovery is not some hints in a magazine, it begins with your own attitude to yourself. And the only person who can change your attitude to yourself is yourself.

Unsolicited advice

No matter how well intended it is to give advice to others about parenting, anything unsolicited is always taken badly. Always. It's not your life, it's not your children. And the advice is usually unrelated to LoA in the first place.

I understand that you feel they are doing something wrong. If things are going wrong, it is because they feel wrong. Unsolicited advice therefore only reinforces this feeling of being wrong. It creates distance, not closeness. It generates bad feelings, not good ones. And the only thing that can help anyone is good feelings.

The appropriate approach is therefore to accept and love these people, even with what you perceive as their flaws. Go ahead and love them for who they are and use any chance to make them feel good. When they feel good, they will also change their behaviour to good, and your mission has been accomplished.

Shut down of communication

Of course, the unsolicited advice lead to complete severing of communication, which in turn made you feel bad about everything. Here's what LoA and prophylactic psychology says about conflicts:

1) Do your part. That is, apologize. If they won't take your call, send flowers with a note. Do it any way you like, just communicate that you're sorry.

2) Accept that you have done your part. The ball is now in their court. Until they come back to you, leave it at that.

3) If they decide not to accept your apology, then this has nothing to do with you. It has to do with their feelings, their perception of the world, the things that they attract to their lives. It is their lives, and they can decide to hold the grudge and let it rot them from inside, or they can forgive and receive the love you're prepared to give them. It is their choice, and there is nothing you can do or should do to affect it.

4) If they decide to hold the grudge, you don't need them in your life anyway. Though I understand they are family, you can still light a candle for them every now and then, and send love and appreciation their way, as long as you are able to hold on to the good feelings about them and ignore any bad feelings. It is easier to do when you accept that their grudge is a mental illness and not part of them.


Mental health at work

My department is especially vulnerable for psychic health: We are few, so if anyone is out, we have a real capacity problem. Despite this, we also have to accept that other people are frustrated over our capacity problem, and take it out on us. To survive, we have special focus on mental health and, to make it more tangible, we run a Burn Out Self-Test every month. This makes it easy to report mental health trends to top management, and also gives us a hint about when it is necessary to take some kind of action.

The first piece of action is to sit down and be open about what it is that bothers us. All stress issues can be related back to obstacles for the three motivating factors: autonomy, mastery and purpose. We then discuss what we can do to get rid of the obstacles and restore the motivation. If we do things right, it should be visible in the next test.

Mental health is something we have learned to speak openly about within the department. This openness fosters a culture of compassion and camaraderie. Our verbal suggestion box is not only about a ping pong table, but more so about compassion for the frustrated client swearing at us from the other end of the phone line. And if one person needs to vent, we give them that space. Someone else will deal with the difficult client.

Mastery, then, is no longer just about the tasks of the department. It is also about mastering one's own mind.


Educational quality

We're in the last few days of campaigning for the Norwegian federal elections this monday. One of the hot topics is the quality of primary education. Somehow, we are falling behind our Nordic neighbours, and politicians have differing views on why this is the case.

The popular way of dealing with the issue is to blame the quality of the teachers, and the proposed remedy is to educate teachers more. This, in turn, angers teachers, who feel politicians are really saying that teachers are not qualified to do their job.

If this was the case, low grades should be randomly distributed among the "bad teachers". A bad national average, on the other hand, reminds me more of a systemic failiure. And I see good reasons why this is a plausibe suspect.

At a minimum of every four years, and sometimes more frequently, there is a new ministrer of education who wants to "do something". This has lead to many reforms without allocating resources to follow through with them. Part of the reforms adds an extra burden of documentation - which takes precious time away from the real work teachers are supposed to do. The burden of documentation can also be considered a lack of trust from the overhead administration, and politicians in particular, the ones who ordered the documentation to be created in the first place.

Good work is achieved by accessing the worker's drive. Research has boiled this down to three items: Purpose, mastery and autonomy. Political reforms that attacks on teachers' autonomy, feeling of mastery and pupose are therefore also an attack on their drive, which in turn is a direct sabotage of their work.

This said, it would also be interesting to look at the student's drive. I am sure students, too, would learn better if they were allowed to find their own purpose, mastery and autonomy of their own learning situation as a drive for their own learning.


Tools: Sex, music and violence

Swedish débutante author Erica Löfström's first book "Sex, music and violence" is surprisingly in Norwegian. The book's main character Beatrice uses sex, music and violence as a survival kit handle life.

"People have said that my book gives insight of a mentally ill person's reality, but I never thought of this as being a mentally ill person. The book only describes how a person uses tools to handle life and their complex background."

I applaud this outspoken view and look forward to getting a copy of the book. I'm looking forward to reading this book - but will it be just as good as The howling miller?


Book review: The red-green island of terror

I was given a book titled "Den Rød-Grønne Terrorøya" - The Red-Green Island of Terror - in order to "read, and please keep an open mind, don't just throw it away. And tell me what you think afterwards." I promised to do just that.

The title refers to Utøya, known for the mass murders of July 22nd 2011. The introduction lies a foundation of no tolerance to terror, no matter who performs it. The content, however, revolves solely around the political and economic support of the west wing youth organizations at Utøya for a Palestinian left wing organization that has been labelled as a terrorist organization.

The book attempts to make a case of Norwegian governmental support of foreign terrorism, paints the current red-green government as anti-Semitic muslim nazis, and concludes that this was the real cause of the July 22nd massacre: As left wing extremists, they were now a viable target for right wing extremists.

While some of the facts might raise an eyebrow or two, the book falls under the "fjord"-category with me. By fjord, I mean you make such a deep dive into a specific side of a conflict that, not only is your sight limited to that one conflict - and deeper yet, just one side of the conflict - but everything you see is taken as evidence of this one-sided paranoia. It is also a reference to Fjordman, a Norwegian extreme right wing blogger, whom I see as an example of someone with the "deep into conflict filter" turned on.

A deep, limited view of a conflict is in direct contrast to the overview of the flying spaceman, who couldn't care less about the bickering, if only people could help each other out instead . Again, the introduction makes an argument that terror should not be applied by anyone for any reason, yet the actual chapters of the book is blaming only one side for terror, ignoring the terror imposed by the "other side" of the conflict.

However, extreme left and extreme right can exist only by applying such filters. As my intention today was only to review the book for what it is, I won't bother getting into the details of the conflict and its complexities. I've already done that before. The book still looses some credibility on statements that are not backed up by references, or worse yet, are completely misleading.

For instance, it claims that it was the red-green government that got rid of Christianity as a subject in primary school, when this, in fact, is merely a directive passed down by the EU. This claim is put together with muslims being invited to Utøya, making it look as if the Labour Party is trying to replace Christianity with Islam.

I could list numerous points of distorted reality in the book. I will leave that to later. And there is even some good things to take away from the book - the lessons we could learn from it. How we can do things better. The book itself won't do it, it's a finger-pointing book about the Problem with No Solutions, yet it does point out a few things worth of investigation:

For example, in terms of role play, what could we potentially learn playing both sides in an honest manner, instead of just making a political drama? When political youth organizations get involved in international politics, how can we encourage to see things with a better overview instead of diving into the depths of one side of a conflict? How can we encourage our children to cherish all humans instead of helping others paint an alien out of the "perceived enemy"?

Because in the end, concentrating on the problem will only make the problem bigger. Concentrating on the solution will only make the solution greater. And the solution, of course, lies largely with the children that will inherit the future.


Treating ADHD with food and discipline

In the news: Food and discipline against ADHD

In the USA, almost 10% of children under 18 are medicated for ADHD.
In Norway, about 4%.
In France, 0.5%.

What's the secret?

According to family therapeut Marylin Wedge, "French doctors try to find the psychosocial sources for behavioural problems. Doctors are more interested in what the children eat and see correlations between food and behaviour."

You are what you eat.


Bullying at work

"It is almost impossible to prove bullying at work," says LO-attorney Karl Inge Rotmo. While the employer has the burden of evidence that the physical work environment is in order and that there has been no discrimination, the victim must carry the burden of evidence in occurrences of non-physical bullying.

In my 10.2.2009 article in Vestlandsnytt "I was bullied", I pointed out that the victim does not necessarily know that it is being bullied. This is especially true for the work place. Alteration of the work environment to make someone uncomfortable is a way of making someone quit. It is, unfortunately, a common way simply because it is so hard to prove. Especially when the bullying is in the form of making the victim feel incompetent and worthless.

Bullying at the work place has many possible purposes: The bully's mental health, therein exaggerating other people's shortcomings in order to divert from one's own shortcomings. Squeezing someone out because of their success, which takes attention away from their boss. Squeezing someone out to make a vacancy for a friend or relative. At the end of the day, the bullying has a purpose, and it is therefore typically performed in a covert operation with subtle hard-to-prove alterations of the work environment.

Further, mental health is not seen as something very tangible. It does, however, have tangible ripples in terms of reduced productivity. If the mental health of someone who ends up quitting their job was the problem, then that one person quitting would be the end of the story. If you have a high turn over rate of employees, the problem is probably not the employee.

If you want to fight bullying at the work place, you have to look at root causes and prevent these causes from tainting the business. We know now that employees are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose. Bullying actually attacks at least one of these three (usually autonomy) and are therefore counter productive. The cure must therefore be to create a work environment that fosters these motivational factors. Not only is it productive, it also reduces the bully's need to bully.


Norway best at bullying

In the news, Norway is best at bullying!

And that's a "bad best". A total of 31% of children have been bullied the last 12 months, as opposed to the European average of 19%. The statistics are being revealed in a new book "Digital bullying", which I hope to see in my bookshelf soon.

Of all children asked, 18% of Norwegian children have been bullied in person, as opposed to European average 13%. 8% of Norwegian children have been bullied by texting, as opposed to European average 3%. Bullying on the Internet is 6%, the same as the European average.

I think these are interesting results, coming from a country that prides itself for its enormous effort to conquer bullying and even has the political "manifest against bullying."

Further, the author points out, "...research shows that the bullies are often also being bullied," which to me doesn't come as a surprise. Bullies and victims generally have the same root problem, they just cope with it differently.

I can't help but wonder what the statistics really are among adults. Because, as I have argued before, bullying can not be fought through focus on school only, it is a community wide effort. For all the nice words coming from politicians about what they want to do about bullying at school, they can start by showing some respect to their opposing politicians during their election campaigns and understand that the children are only mimicking those in power.


Links and stuff week 2013.35

Hank bought a bus
And he is not afraid to drive it.

Thai Health Promotion Foundation
Because they are awesome.

Rick Ells
Because he is awesome.
And I have been watching too many episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

The Albenian Language
Because it is fascinating.

Personal Information Security
Remember that baby monitor that got hacked? Well, apparently I'm not the only one who observes that more people need to think about their own information security.

This week's educational video about kids and bullying:


Internetted baby monitor: An analysis

Last week, I promised an analysis of the baby monitor system that was hacked, to the detriment of a family in Texas. This analysis is based on the little information I have about the system and follows several standards for information security analysis.

The analysis occurs in three basic domains: Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. Each of these three are then seen in three aspects: Storage, Transit and Processing. Each of these nine domain aspects pose risks. Each risk have a degree of probability and consequence.


Storage: From the promotional video at Foscam, storage is on the device itself. Hence storage is as safe as the location itself. From this, one can assume that a potential intruder will take the camera and therefore render it useless as an instrument of surveillance.

Transit: I do not have information of whether transit is encrypted or not. However, in order to access the camera from the Internet, you go to Foscam's web site in order to access an outgoing tunnel from the camera. Security from that point on is based on username/password, which we know is subject to social engineering.

Processing: Access to the camera means access to anything you might be doing to the camera. So not is your surveillance accessible, but your use of it is also available, and setting you do might be altered by, say, turning off alarms.


Storage: Assuming the system has been breached, all integrity of camera storage is also compromised. The major issue is mode of access.

Transit: Centralized access means easy man-in-the-middle attack. This would also reveal username/password.

Processing: Man-in-the-middle attack could potentially give you recorded images.


Storage: Loss of Internet connectivity will not affect storage. Au contraire, my friend. :)

Transit: Loss of Internet connection reduces global availability. Can the camera be accessed diretly from you LAN, or do you have to go via the web site?

Processing: Loss of Internet connection reduces global availability. A breach allows hacker to change password and lock you out of your own camera.

Main risks

The main risks of the device is the camera's availability through the Internet. Even secure connections are subject to man-in-the-middle attacks, and hacking the company's server will also allow a hacker full access to all cameras.

A firmware update for the camera has arrived to force users to change the default admin password because, as we know, this is where the first fail occurs. It is now also possible to change the admin user name. This will certainly eliminate the easiest brute force attack (select camera, enter default admin password and you're set), but it is still only a delay.

It would be more secure if the camera only accepted access by devices with a specific encryption certificate, installable on the accessing device only when connected to your LAN. Though this approach heightens the threshold to use its Internet connection, that might be a threshold parents should be required to step up to, so that they truly understand the risks they are about to subject their children to. But it won't stop access from the NSA.

However, it is typical for these cameras to also be available directly on your LAN without going through the Internet. And using it as a baby monitor, that is all you really should need. So block the camera's Internet connection, and it's safe to use. If you need surveillance when you're not at home, you'd want a device that
stores your recordings somewhere else.


I was bullied (repost)

(Published in Vestlandsnytt 10.2.2009 - English translation on Gardistan blog 2.3.2009)

I was the victim of bullying.

Bullying takes many forms, and are therefore difficult to manage without seeing the full picture. The schools have received a special responsibility when it comes to bullying among children because that's exactly where they spend large amounts of the day. But the school is not the only place bullying happens. It is a phenomena that runs through all layers of society, age groups and bureaucratic systems. But, as I mentioned, it takes different forms.

It is exactly because of this shapelessness of the phenomena that it is difficult to put your finger on a specific definition (not to mention being able to "prove" that bullying is occurring). And without a good definition, it is easy to focus on specific forms and unique occurrences. Let me give a quick introduction to the simplest forms in the life cycle of bullying - from the age before cell phones and the Internet.

In elementary school, physical bullying dominates. It usually occurs out of sight, but easy to recognize when the bruises begin to show up on the body. In middle school, it slowly changes to a more verbal form. Verbal bullying is a lot harder to prove. Then, at high school level, the social exclusion and backstabbing begins. But this is not the end of it. The experiences from all this bullying activity is also used in work life, when one wishes to "remove unwanted elements".

The fact that the youngest are the most immature is reflected in the choice of bullying form. And that's exactly why one must also be aware of the fact that the victim not necessarily knows that it is being bullied. It could, in fact, take decades before one realizes the full impact of what happened.

The youngest also don't necessarily realize that there ARE methods of interventions that may stop bullying. Many victims fear that interference from adults will make the situation worse. After all, both bullying and retaliation against "snitches" occur out of sight. And the older you get, the more refined the bullying, the more difficult to prove and impossible to prosecute.

When Eimar Hagen (Vestlandsnutt 6.2.09) writes that the number of victims are increasing, it doesn't necessarily mean that more are being bullied. Rather, it might as well reflect that people have become more aware of the bullying. More comes to see the light of day, which one should consider as a positive trend.

Paul Sundnes (Vestlandsnytt 6.2.09) refers to the fact that the school has to discover (or be told about) the bullying to be able to react. But victims of bullying develop a skill in keeping their mask. When I went to high school myself, my teacher would tell my parents that I was always happy and smiling. This came as a real surprise to me, because I knew that in many ways, I was experiencing the most difficult time in my life, and I was alarmingly close to taking my own life. It was moving away and living years in voluntary exile that not only saved me, but allowed me to slowly realize and understand what had actually happened.

Moving the victim away has become the most used "solution" to the problem. Many victims (and their families) often complain that it is the bullies that should have been exiled, not the victim. But particularly when dealing with children, we must remember that the bullies are just as immature as the victims. They might be missing - probably - empathy? This, a self declared bully will have to answer, if they remember. My own experience is that a child can be best buddies in private, but bullies in group situations. Exile is also not a "solution" for something I see as a general problem of society at large.

"Removing" a bully or a victim from the local community is no solution. Both are bonded to the social network, tearing them out affects a lot of people. Such a distancing of people is a polarization that plays a role in breaking down society. Instead, one must find a way for the parties to cooperate.

Jane Elliot was "a pickup-length ahead"*) when she pioneered a role play experiment in 1968 to help fight racism in the USA. In the experiment, she announced to her school class that people with blue eyes lacked pigments in their eyes. Without these pigments, nothing protected the brain from solar radiation, and they were therefore more stupid than brown eyed people. She then taught the "brown eyes" to systematically bully the "blue eyes". After a couple of days, she reversed the experiment, so that all the brown eyes could experience the same discrimination. All the students developed empathy from the experiment and became more aware to prejudice and discriminating behaviour.

The experiment stigmatised both her and her family, which only increased her conviction that her work was necessary. Today, she lives from doing the experiment on adults. Those who have experienced it know that it isn't just about racism, but about all human interaction.

In the end, bullying in childhood is an experiment in strategic abuse of power. The victims are those who are strategically easiest to bully, and has nothing to do with what they "officially" are being bullied for. As an example, the victim could be bullied for being "fat", while the bully is actually fatter.

With adults, the techniques develop into operational abuse of power to secure their own position in the work place or society. The more insecure they feel, the more they step on others. Particularly, they step on co-workers that potentially could endanger their job situation and therefore need to know who "the boss" is. Again, this takes many forms. The organization Stopp JobbMobben ( has documented a double digit number of forms that bullying occurs at work. I have experienced some of them myself.

Children learn from adults. When adults back stab and speak prejudice against other people, they legitimise their own experimental discrimination of other children. This applies not only to parents, but also comments we do in media and what we call "politics".

Media lives off sensationalism, and it is therefore in their interest to polarise all stories. This way, media is a great proponent of a general attitude of "us" and "them" as opposites. It has become so ordinary that we often don't notice. Obviously, polarisation is part of what children copy in their experimental play with bullying.

Yes, play. I wish to emphasize that bullying during childhood is "play" for the bully, because he/she experiments with this role. It is obvious for the experienced adult that it is a catastrophe for the victim, but we can not assume our own maturity in the child. The child's play is a reflection of what the child observes in society at large.

Bullying and discrimination in all its forms break down society. Progress is only achieved through cooperation. If there is anything we can do to fight bullying, it has to start by encouraging empathy and cooperation before polarisation and competition.

Thanks the "Manifest against bullying", there is great focus on bullying in school. I think this will have only a limited effect if we are not able to see bulling other places. I therefore challenge everyone to come up with possible tangible actions we can take to prevent bullying in its entirety and share their suggestions and experiences with everyone.

Gard Abrahamsen Tuur-Eggesbø


Links and news for week 2013.34

NGO: Save Life
I was accidentally made aware of this NGO in Moldova. In a situation where lives can be saved through proper treatment, but there is no economy to support these treatments, NGO Save Life has a specific purpose: funnel donated money to the procedures that save lives, and with specific focus on children. While one might argue this kind of economic aid undermines the possibility of political change for proper funding of public services, who am I to say that children should die in the process of producing political change? Especially when the children even have names.

Electric cars may loose benefits
In an effort to make personal transportation more environmentally friendly, electric cars have received numerous benefits in Norway, such as being allowed to drive in the mass transit lane on highways, free parking and using toll roads and ferry toll free. This has been a successful policy. In 2012, 927 electric cars were sold in Norway, and so far in 2013, a whopping 2700 electric cars have been sold. The problem now, is that the bus can't get through because the mass transit lane is full of electric cars. While this means that it is time to loose this specific benefit, the contracts made by the government insures that the mass transit lane may be full of electric cars at leat until 2017.

The dynamics of tipping
Is tipping good or bad for business? Someone has found the answer.

And whoever thought out THIS experiment deserves a humongous hug:


11 new ways to define a country: Developing the non-western third world

Are you getting tired of seeing the same old news stories about "non-western" people and "developing" countries when you know it's not that simple a world? Let's look at how we should be looking at things instead, things that have an impact on the human psyche.

  1. CHEAP/RICH and EXPENSIVE/POOR countries: Cost of living vs. average income.
    An "expensive" country is one where the average income is low compared to the cost of living, which translates to the population being "poor", while a "cheap" country is one where the average income is high, translating the population to being "rich". A formula for the expenses is hard to normalize, even within each country. For example, some places require that you have an automobile, while you can live your entire life walking in other places. Either way, statistics might come as a surprise to some.
    "He came from an expensive country"
  2. MILITARY and PEACE countries
    What's the military expense per capita? How much of the taxes goes to the military? How many military conflicts does the country have with other countries over the last decade?
    "He came from a military country"
    How is food made? There are three basic productions, the third being dependant on importing from others. Which food resource is dominant?
    "He came from a dependent country"
    It's too easy to say "developing country" or "developed" - no country is ever fully developed. If that was the case, we would not longer be developing anything new. So the question is rather - how far in the technological development has a country arrived at? To claim that a country has reach a level, at least 90% of relevant implementations of said technology should be in place, such as:
    INDUSTRIAL: 90% of manual labour has been taken over by industrial machinery
    DIGITAL: 90% of population has access to digital equipment
    INTERCONNECTED: 90% of population has access to the Internet
    "He came from a digital country"
    Or, as politicians like to call them, "crazy" or "reasonable" countries. A country can be seen as "Mentally unstable" if more than 20% of the population have severe psychological problems. "He came from a mentally unstable country."
  6. VIOLENT and SAFE countries
    How many violent crimes per capita? "He came from a violent country"
  7. HAPPY and UNHAPPY countries
    Nations should check the happiness of their population on a regular basis and from this determine f they are a happy or unhappy nation. "He came from an unhappy country." "We don't know if he has happy or unhappy roots, his country refuses to release that data."
    How much education does 90% of the population have? "He came from a secondary school country."
    There are these main methods of infrastructure for goods and passengers. Which type of infrastructure is dominant in terms of road conditions and vehicles? "He came from a gravelled boating country."
  10. HEALTHY, SICK or DEAD country
    What's the predominant health condition of people age 60-80? "He came from a sick country."
    It could also be presented in sickness age (at what age does 90% of the population have perpetual illness?) and average age of death. "He came from a sick 60 dead 75 country."
    It could also be expressed with the predominant illness. "He came from a flu country."
    What's the predominant type of death in a country? "He came from a heart attack country."
So with this fresh in mind, it is time for someone to sit down and define the world all over again. Good luck!


Baby monitor hacked: Personal information security

A video baby monitor in Texas was hacked via the Internet and abused by a very bad man:

If I connected security cameras at work to the Internet, authorities would come at me with full force. Surveillance is sensitive information and must be treated as such. One of the problems, then, is that most people are not trained to think of information security in their daily lives.

As a trained professional, I would look at the package saying "over the Internet", shake my head in disgust and put it back on the shelf - unless I was looking for a public web camera for Runde. Blinded by the convenience, however, a lot of people will cheer with joy for this invention, not realizing that they are opening themselves wide open to a malicious hacker ready to subvert their children.

The formula is fairly simple: Identify what is sensitive information (or sensitive access to your loud speaker as well, as in this case), identify who needs the information and the shortest route there, make sure you do everything you can to protect that channel in all nine aspects: Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of Storage, Transit and Processing.

I will leave it for the reader as an exercise, before I reveal my own analysis of this system. 


Make a wish

"Dad, if you drink ONE yellow and ONE stinking sock, you can make a wish."
He didn't say if that wish would come true or not. :)


Is that an offer?

I was recently confronted with the word "offer" in a context that made me evaluate the word "offer". And must admit that it's not an "offer", it's an "option". There is a slight difference in co-notation, and my reaction to "offer" possibly reflects a shift in world view that I have actually been working on to achieve.

In the world of offers, the person offering the offer is an authority, and the person accepting it must either accept or decline. There may have been some negotiations, but this is my final offer. Used a lot in advertising as a humble sacrifice: I'm offering this to you for half price.

"Offer" derives from Norse "Offra", sacrifice, which is also the root of the Norwegian word "Offer", sacrifice. So the person offering something is doing a sacrifice. And a sacrifice is a quality reduction of one's life experience. Even in the situation that you want to sacrifice something in order to experience the reduced quality of life, it is a humbling process.

At the same time, the receiver must usually accept their own sacrifice in the process: It is understood that the transaction is not completed in a balance of equals. The receiver might come out better off, knowing in the subconscious that they have taken advantage of the offerer. At the same time, they might feel that the offerer gets offended that the offer was not accepted, when they have already humbled themselves.

While this transaction model does not necessarily reflect every transaction where the word "offer" has been used, it does not change the fact that the word represents a sacrifice.

An option, on the other hand, is the game of equals. I want to play this game, and if you want to play this game, then we play this game together. I am open to play this game, it is not a sacrifice, it is an experience I would like to have in my life. It is a possible outcome that resonates with me. I do not offer or sacrifice anything, I am merely open for the possibility.


Links and comments week 2013.33

How a big idea solved Seoul's parking problem
A smart answer to a seemingly big problem solved by thinking in three dimentions: Large amounts of gasoline spent every day just looking for a parking spot are now saved by making free parking spots more easily visible.

It only takes a spark
Touching story of a child who sees bullying in a completely different way than the parent. Or in other words, this kid has understood it. The answer to the bullying problem is not to avoid things that can get you bullied, but to stand your ground and love the bully anyway. Avoidance means you have already let the bully win. Which brings us to this article in Norway:

The cross is being removed from prayer houses
Being a right wing monocultural paper, I take some of the contents with a pinch of salt, though one can not get away from the basic fact: Public prayer houses, chappels and grave yards (formerly known as "church yards") have their crosses removed to make them "religion neutral". Since the places are public, there is also room for buddhists, muslims, etc. And while the extremists cry foul about the removal of "Norwegian culture", my observation is this: You do not build a tolerant society by hiding the diversity under a white cloth. That's like obtaining gender equality by forcing everyone to wear a burka, so you don't know who is man and who is woman. And you don't force a shopping mall to take down the advertising signs of the businesses inside to make the mall "business neutral". Nay, you do it the other way. Keep the cross and add the crecent, the wheel and Tha. Show off the diversity and be proud of it. Anything less is to cater for the intolerant.

Platform cut down while demonstrators are chained to the top
People demonstrating against exploitation of Sámi land in Northern Sweden built a platform, climbed to the top and chained themselves up. Police started to cut down the feet of the platform with the demonstrators still on board. In the Swedish police's defence, certain other nations would just run over everyone with a bulldozer, saying that "hey, they were in the way."

Letters of Note: People Simply Empty Out
A great letter from Charles Bukowski to his publisher, celebrating his own departure from his mindless post office job before he turned postal. Others who might go either postal or waitral are waiters, so also read this great article:
Observations from a tipless restaurant


Bullying yourself

Hannah Smith committed suicide after a longer period of bullying. Media focus on the last sprint of cyber bullying on a web site where you can anonymously ask someone any question. Questions and answers are public. After an internal investigation, the company concluded that Hanna Smith was doing most of the bullying herself.

A lector at the national centre for learning environment and behavioural science in Norway comments to Norwegian TV 2 that he has never heard of anyone sending bullying messages to themselves before. I quickly wrote to him, because I have heard of someone who did that before: myself. So if anyone is ever in doubt over this being a possibility, allow me to explain how this works.

Assuming you are already a victim of long term bullying, you build an image of yourself with no value, where people will find something they don't like about you, and when they do, they will make sure you know how much they don't like you. It's a line of thought that sits deep within you. It's a long line of assumptions based on how you have experienced years and years of bullying.

Even if you think you have come away from all the bullying, it takes only one comment about one specific thing you hate about yourself to set off a feeling of self hate. And when you hate yourself, you have no respect for yourself.

When this happens in a public forum, something more happens: Not only has this other person shown (or painted a lie) that you're flawed and therefore worthless, but everyone has seen it! On the one side, you want to defend yourself. On the other side, you feel flawed and worthless and perhaps the other guy is right. And so you fall for the temptation of all temptations: To become your own bully. To publicly make it look as one or more anonymous bullies are coming down hard on you.

In your self hate, you already are your own bully, because you doubt yourself. You have no respect for yourself. You keep telling yourself how worthless you are. You really need and want someone else to prove you wrong, to tell you that you ARE worth something. But who is going to do this, when you've locked yourself into your room and stare at a computer screen? Well, there's always "the audience".

So the idea of bullying yourself is to take the view that the bully expresses and turn up the notch. Show how ridiculous it is. Ridiculous accusation times ten. Times a hundred. Times a thousand. How far do you have to go before someone steps in and says "this is ridiculous?"

Truth is, "the audience" doesn't want to get involved. There is no response. There is noone monitoring the stream of accusations real time, stepping in, saying "Stop! You're a wonderful person! We love you!" Nobody does it because they're either not online, or they are surfing another website, or they are one of the bullies who have no idea how to step in when someone takes over their game, or they just don't want to get involved.

The involvement comes afterwards. When it is too late.

This logic doesn't hit you while you're at it. You're in a form of deep depression, you're focused on this one task of proving to yourself that the bully is right, or proving that the bully is not right, something is flawed, it's so hard to think straight, it just feels so bad, and you can put words on all these opinions that make you feel bad, because they have been repeated over and over again by others, and you can't think of anything that is good about yourself, and if there is anything, then it is worthless, because nobody else can see these things. Indeed, you want to be the victim, because then someone can feel sorry for you, but you don't feel sorry for yourself, because you understand how the bully somehow must be right. You become the bully and the victim at the same time, and can not see your way out of it.

I didn't commit suicide, I quit the club whose forum I was a member of. I never heard from the other members ever again, other than one of them telling me they had had a big clean up after I left, and anonymous posting was no longer possible.

There is no reason to believe that the last month of cyber bullying was the full reason for Hannah Smith's suicide. Something had been going on for a much longer time, during which she had completely lost touch with reality. She was then pushed over the edge, into a downward spiral so deep, she didn't find her way back out.

Victims of bullying become masters of hiding their desperation. Hannah Smith's empty reservoir of self love went unnoticed. The remedy lies in the continuing compassion and expressed love for those around you, because you never know who needs it the most.


Interesting links week 2013.32

So you want to pick someone's brains? Do it right!
While one would think that these rules should be obvious, it has become obvious that it is not obvious to a lot of people. And even if it is obvious, it is nice to have a checklist.

5 ways to lead no matter your title
Again, obvious things for leadership attributes. And with a five point checklist, you can make a daily reminder producing a week long cycle.

My good friend Ken McCracken found a tape with the Stuffy Rabbit song. Songcycles are coming back online. I hereby pledge that next time I'm in Toronto, I'll join them for a song or ten.

Adyghe Habze
The Adyghe People had a Pagan ethnic religion, philosophy and world view known as Habze. Combined with megalithic culture makes for a very interesting study, which I hereby have put in my list of future deeper dive studies.

Gabriele D'Annunzio
Before fascism, there was a poet from Pescara known by the name Gabriele. While he is thought to be the precursor to fascism and a source of inspiration for Mussolini, he was also a poet and writer. His books supposedly have nothing to do with fascism, and are considered to be unparallelled works of art.

And finally... for something completely different from Abruzzo



The trouble with rich people's visiting habits, is that they come unannounced. So when Bill Gates finally decided to come by my door on Runde, I wasn't even in the country. Too bad. Now he has to return another day.

La jument de Michao (le loup, le renard et la belette)


Reviving Scriba Org

February 1994, Scriba Org was founded in a basement in Øvre Årdal, Norway. While our electronic floppydisk magazine, Scriba Communis Responsi, had already been living for two years, it was during the 1994 olympics, in a basement, that the "Arch prophets" made a grand vision of a huge organization for the betterment of mankind.

In its infancy, Scriba Org gathered some momentum, grew in number of participants and then fizzled out as life caught up with us during the bubble burst.

Twenty years after the original founding, however, one could say we have not only gained important professional and life experience, but much of what we have ended up doing are important aspects of what was once supposed to be Scriba Org.

For this reason, I have called upon the revival of Scriba Org. Refounding meeting will take place on August 24th, time and location TBD, with some founding members being virtual. More information to follow.


Bright colours

To stand out
I walk about
With colours bright
To show you light

What is it you desire?
That which you admire,
It puts your mind on fire!

Excel, my friend, come out!
You are such a wonderful sight!


A problem with Word

"Can you come to my office, quickly, I need help!"
I run to the office, where the client is working with a document in Microsoft Word.
"See, here is a graph of our economy the last 5 years."
"And as you can see, we have spent more money this year than last year."
"How do I write, with some good phrases, why we spent more money this year than last year?"
"You click here and start typing."
"Yes, of course, but what words do I use?"
"Errr... just explain why we spent more money?"
"But exactly which word to I write?"
"I don't quite see how this is an IT problem."
"It's in Microsoft Word."
Give me strength! (This incident happened to me a few years ago.)


The three symptoms of stress

Once upon a time, the three brothers Stress Symptoms were going to an overworked business to make some lives miserable. On their way there, they had to cross the desk of a fierce bureaucrat. First, little Headache had to cross the desk.

"Who is aching on my desk?" asked the bureaucrat.
"It's the little Headache, and I'm on my way to make some overworked lives miserable."
"Ha! I chomp down Headaches with my extra strong coffee every ten minutes!"
"Oh no! Please, don't caffeinate me! After me comes my bigger brother, a much bigger Stress Symptom!"
"Fine! You may go."

And so, the little Headache went on to make some lives miserable in the office.
Next to cross the desk of the fierce bureaucrat was the average drowsy Sleeplessness.

"Who is drowsing on my desk?" asked the bureaucrat.
"It's the average drowsy Sleeplessness. I'm on my way to make some overworked lives miserable my making them sleepless at night and drowsy at day."
"Ha! I chomp down Sleeplessness with prescription drugs every night! Muahahahaha!"
"Oh no! Please, don't drug me! After me comes the greatest Stress Symptom of all!"
"Fine! You may go."

And so, the office got drowsy, nobody slept at night and productivity halted.
Finally came the great Heart Attack.

"Who is attacking my desk?" asked the bureaucrat.
"It's the great Heart Attack! I'm on my way to relieve some overworked lives from their misery."
And so the bureaucrat died.


Celebrating the Norwegian constitution

May 17th

May 17th is Constitution Day in Norway. Albeit everyone agrees that the day is to be celebrated with parades, flags and speeches, the country is fairly split about the details. Some like their sour cream porridge with sugar and cinnamon only, while others insist on having a dash of butter on it, sugar is optional and yet others prefer a hot dog.

Being a day to celebrate the constitution, which was signed during the power vaccuum between the fall of Napoleon and Norway being handed over to Sweden, gave birth to the independent kingdom of Norway. The king was imported from Denmark to secure royal blood, which means the King was Norway's first official immigrant.

The conflict

Fast forward 2013 and the 199th celebration of the Norwegian Constitution. The details are still being decided by local comitees, making it an incredibly democratic and diverse celebration. In the city of Ålesund, a school celebrates its 90th year, and want to show off the diverse roots of its students. They have already made paper flags showing the Norwegian flag on one side and their country of origin on the other side. They as the local committee if these flags may be used as an additional prop during this year's parade. The committee allows this.

From this, it doesn't take long before a right wing online paper puts up the headline "Children will be denied waving the Norwegian flag on May 17th". And representatives of anti-immigration political parties make a big deal out of the idea that "we are celebrating Norway, not the UN!" and "Celebrating with any other flag than the Norwegian flag is an incidence of misunderstood multiculturalism."


One of the things the constitution secures is local democracy. As such, any attempts to overturn the decisions made locally on something as little as this is an insult to the same constitution that is to be celebrated. I am not and advocate of suspending democracy in order to celebrate democracy.

How Ålesund decides to celebrate the constitution is completely their own thing. I may have opinions about it, but it is their celebration, and I am more than happy to let them make their own decisions.


For my own part, I recall the years I celebrated national days in other countries. In the US, I felt the strong patriotism from the Americans around me, this was a celebration of the USA, it was about how it was the best country in the world. As an alien, I did not really feel welcome. I could really feel my status, not only as a guest, but as a guest whose presence was completely irrelevant. Largely, I ended up staying at home or away from people on 4th of July.

Canada was a great contrast to this. More strangers than usual spoke to me. Everyone were happy. The concept was "come, let's celebrate Canada's birthday. I don't care who you are, let's just celebrate and be happy!" I always felt welcome on 1st of July. It made me very happy about being in Canada. It made me feel proud to be a Canadian, even though I very well knew that I was not.

For "my own country", I would much rather have "guests" experience the inclusion I experienced in Canada. Did I see other flags in Canada than the Canadian? Hell yes!

The alternative

The Norwegian flag of 1814 - and it is May 17th 1814 we are celebrating, right? Looked quite different. We should possibly pull these out of our great grand parents' closets. That said, we are not even celebrating the flag or the nation as such. The day is called "constitution day" and it is the constitution we celebrate.

I therefore suggest that we all print our own copy of the consitution and celebrate by bringing it with us in the parade, where we can discuss the terminology, legal implications and loopholes. Another idea is to have fleets that visualize the various paragraphs in the constitution. We could have concerts where the constitution is used as the lyrics. There are so many constitution-things we could do.

In the end, I can only quote Bill and Ted: Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes!


Bettervision 2013: Nominees

All songs have been picked for ESC 2013. I have been tempted to go to every country's own finale to find songs that should have been picked, though I will leave that for later. For now, based on the lyrics of each song, I nominate the following countries for Bettervision 2013:

Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Russia, Slovenia, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Latvia, Romania, San Marino and Germany. Playlist:

I don't know if it is Bettervision 2012 that has had an impact, but the number of songs nominated in 2013 is higher than in 2012. The songs will now be evaluated for the following criteria:

  • Law of attraction
  • Musical addictiveness
  • Inspiration
I noticed that many songs this year fall into one of two categories:
  • Things happening in the universe as an excuse to stick with just you and me and I love you.
  • Stuck with how bad things are / craving for things to become better.
I disqualified most of these songs, as they did not really show a way to a better world.