Thursday, July 26, 2018

Just do it

Nobody can save the world alone, and very few of us make big enough waves to author positive annotations in the history books of humanity. But what we do know is that if you do nothing, you change nothing and you have no impact. The lazy who are silent support whoever are the most influential at any time.

However, if enough individuals do a little, like giving what they can when they can and publicly support what is important, we know now that the sum of many can create bigger changes than anybody could foresee. It's about having personal values and strive to be informed.

No great historical human would manage what they did without supporters - and none of the good ones ever expected that what they did would have such a big impact.

Unicef helps and saves children in larger numbers than you and I can visualize. They can only help because people like us assist financially.

Read up on the malnutrition challenge and some solutions here.

It can be as simple as making it possible for the front lines to be able to offer a small package of critical nutrition at the right time. Be a solution, not the problem. Give now that you can, don't only complain when you are on top. You are most likely better off now than whatever situation most would be when they would wish to help you!

"When you kill one enemy, you then must plan for the one hundred enemies you have now created. No enemy ever stands alone. He comes with a mother and father, brothers and sisters. He has a wife and children, friends and neighbors. When you kill this enemy, you must be ready to face the angry revenge that comes from the grief of this loss for all the people who knew and loved this man. The only way to stop this endless chain of enemy killing enemy is to forgive it. And in doing so, teach each one that life is the most important, precious and valuable thing."
[Anwarshah Anwary, Freedom-A Journey Through Afghanistan-The Anwarshah Anwary Story]

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Very Exciting Year

iO Data

An interesting year has passed. After 25 years in Iron Mountain (previously Rockall and Hays Information Management) I took a new professional path in the same hunting grounds and also used this opportunity to challenge myself.

 I believed what we did could be done a lot better and started iO Data to offer newer and innovative records and information management services to a market I by now knew inside out. I was lucky and a fantastic team of people, that I have worked very closely with for many years, knocked on my door and asked if they could join me on this journey. A little over one year in and we have developed some amazing solutions and received a lot of praise.

 The other journey was to challenge if I still got the stuff in me after being so long at one place. I had evolved there from a junior database coordinator, through IT manager and the last 15 years as the Country Manager. I had been offered (or fought for) some great professional challenges and development opportunities there. Never a boring day, but you can’t help wondering if you still got what it takes. So, the last 1,5 years have also been about challenging and developing myself. Looking back today I am amazed.

Looking at my colleagues and what we have achieved makes me smile a little at the worries I sometimes felt around the time I took the big jump. There are obviously many though challenges and a lot of hard work ahead, but anything else would for sure be boring and have reduced me.

 And looking at what else has happened in the world over the last year it probably was good that I had these (for me) big distractions to occupy me…

"Secular Humanism is about greatness in the little human, about freedom, about knowledge, about responsibility - all describing our journey through life."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Public debate on circumcision of boys

Is it culture or abuse? Come listen to me and join in.

"When slavery was a custom,every right minded person supported it. Nothing is as powerful a legitimizer as social custom,even more powerful than law.

I believe the time has come to acknowledge that the practice of routine neonatal circumcision rests on the absurd premise that the only mammal in creation born in a condition that requires immediate surgical correction is the human male. If the penile foreskin is not merely non functional but a biological disadvantage so severe as to justify its immediate surgical ablation, then surely, it must have atrophied by now."

[Thomas Szasz]

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Male genital mutilation

Female genitalmutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."

It is ironic and scary that religious and ritually motivated mutilation of genitals on young baby boys is only called circumcision. And in Norway, we are in full seriousness debating if the state is to do and pay for male genital mutilation - in the year of 2011.

Male genital mutilation removes the ridged band at the end of the foreskin on the penis. One can debate how many corpuscles (a kind of nerve ending that is concentrated in areas of greatest sensitivity) the ridged band has, or if it has sexually sensitive and plays a role in normal sexual function, etc. While these questions might always be debated even by science, it will surely also be individual differences that we can't measure. The only important points here are that we don't know what we remove, but we know there is no immediate medical reason to do it. This operation is irreversible and it also adds potential post operation complications.

No actions, especially the controversial ones, can build its support only on tradition. As a matter of fact, the longer ago it was started the more we should question if the reasons for it is well founded or rational.

The argument that ignorant or bad parents will do it illegally anyway has no merit as it then should also apply to all other bad traditions we have gotten rid of. Do some still hit or harm their children? Yes, but it is not accepted in our society now because we created that change. Children are treated better today and more abuse is being stopped because we don't accept the argument that we should allow something just because we expect someone might break the law.

One of very many perspectives here is this: Type IV of FMG includes the traditional practice of pricking the clitoral hood or clitoris of a baby girl to get a drop of blood. While it isn't close to physically cutting of foreskin on a baby boy, you hear no politicians or religious leaders publicly advocating for pricking being legalized or paid for by the state. All agree that all forms of FMG should be illegal. I claim the reason for this double standard is ignorance and/or misplaced tolerance.

Most of us agree that the very harmful and more known forms of FMG are absolutely terrible and we can't have any tolerance for it today. Still we are seriously, in this modern society, asked to tolerate genital mutilation of baby boys, for absolutely no medical reason, because it is a very old tradition.

I vote for the little baby boy. What he decides to do with himself and his body when he turns 18 is none of my business, but until he is of an age where he is capable of making adult decisions, adults have an obligation to protect him. First and foremost that is supposed to be his parents, but when they fail, it is the responsibility of society to put the human child before any human traditions.

As none of us accept any type of female genital mutilation today (irreversible or not), so do I predict none will accept male genital mutilation in the near future.  

When history one day looks back, how do you want to be judged?

Pet owner: -What would you say if I wanted to get my dog circumcised?
Vet (after a silence): -I'd have to report you to the ASPCA for cruelty.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I think, therefore I am

The principle of 'free will' is that you are free to make any decision. Examples:

  1. You are free to jump off a bridge.
  2. You are free to believe in God.
  3. You are free to go to the right instead of the left.

With 1 you are physically free, there is no thing or person holding you back. Why do you or don't you? Probably there are immediate instincts weighing in, telling you what you should do (e.g. fright). Maybe it is really high or the water below very cold. You decide not to jump because you can imagine possible consequences based on what you know.

With 2 you argue pro and cons in your head. There are a lot of emotional triggers connected to experiences from your childhood on to adulthood. And there are consequences of going either way - personally and socially - and not all are conscious. You weight these against each other and you select what sounds and feels most likely to you. With a mix of hope, maybe.

With 3 you are at this crossroad. There is an ice-cream parlor to the right and the office to the left. You know what you should do and you definitely know what you want to do. Your brain goes through the consequences and it challenges your values and principles. Based on a long life of learning you pretty much know all the pros and cons the two options have. You choose to go to work and you agree with your choice because you have the experience you know and understand the reasoning process behind it. At the same time the other option was fully possible, But all your considerations have causes even if we aren't smart enough to dissect them all.

The fact that you feel the process of processing all alternatives does not mean you are in a situation to handle the options equally. And as long as they aren't equal they aren't free. You land on your preference. This does not mean everything predestined, it means that everything has a logical cause.

Our choices feel free because we end up selecting what we agree is best. It makes most sense there and then so we do it. But you can't choose to jump off a bridge into your possible death if you aren't suicidal or have that lust for excitement. You can't choose to love the image of a god you find crazy and evil, just like you can't choose to like the taste of poop. And you did choose to go to work because of emotions and logical reasons. With a different brain or other experiences you might have chosen differently.

Free will would have to be a 'device' in your mind with the power to override your ability to reason and knowledge and experience. What is good with that? Wouldn't that just be a meaningless randomize function?

I'd much rather base my actions and choices in life on my ability to think and all my knowledge and experience, than on an ability to randomly make choices unbound by the same. I think, therefore I am.

"What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we cant decipher. What we can't understand we call nonsense. What we can't read we call gibberish. There is no free will. There are no variables. There is only the inevitable.”
[Chuck Palahniuk]

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Silly ideas

The whole idea of monarchy is silly.

Some believe it makes good representation for Norway when its representatives (read royal family) travel the world. I doubt that is the whole truth. I am embarrassed that we send someone who is born into such a position to represent us. And I am everything but impressed if a nation send an individual with an inherited position to represent them. To believe our democratically elected representatives treat them with anything more than an obliged politeness is silly. The whole thing is beyond rational and I am not proud to be a part of it.

We live in a democratic state, monarchy represent a very different time and is the opposite of democracy. The majority may very well elect the current king or crown prince to represent us, but it should be based on a democratic and regularly repeated process.

That the current representatives of the Norwegian royal family are good and nice people might very well be true, I have no personal grievance against any of them. For all I know they are all better and smarter than me, but even if so then we are only lucky and nothing more. We should by 2011 be in a position to expect that whatever we do is based on elementary democratic principals and we should strive to live by such elementary principles. No matter if we currently like the monarchs or not.

"The thoughts of man, in order to be of any real worth, must be free. Under the influence of fear the brain is paralyzed, and instead of bravely solving a problem for itself, tremblingly adopts the solution of another. As long as a majority of men will cringe to the very earth before some petty prince or king, what must be the infinite abjectness of their little souls in the presence of their supposed creator and God? Under such circumstances, what can their thoughts be worth?"
[Robert G. Ingersoll, "The Gods", 1872]

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Time travel

When I was younger, and maybe a little attractive, I got myself mixed up in love. It didn’t work out and it has since only haunted and hurt me – why would I want that again?

It might sound stupid for people who mistake infatuation with love. But to me love never fades, infatuation does. If you haven’t been there I don’t believe you can understand what I mean. I know many who say their love shifts, they drop one and turn to the next. Good for them. That’s not how I am assembled.

Living is surviving, you figure out a way to go on the best you can. I’ve been lucky to do have been allowed to do so in a nice and safe place. But it doesn’t take away any of the pain.

Life is here and now, so my school of life has been focused on learning to treasure that.

I find it worth thinking about that almost everything in the universe goes by unnoticed. Makes it pretty special to be me here and now.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

From Hope to Hopelessness

The conclusions are impossible to ignore: Continued occupation and blockade of Palestine will be destructive for Israel in the long run. Israel politics has fundamentally changed compared to the Israel many sympathised with in previous decades and who longed to measure up to western standards. Last and most important; American and European authorities must awaken from their apathy and force normal supply lines to a couple of million extremely vulnerable Palestine’s in Gaza and the West Bank. The Middle East doesn't need more investigation reports. Israel and the Palestine need an international leadership who can force the region out of the spiral of violence.

A continuation of the current development will lead to new and bigger confrontations. Continued occupation, blockade and colonization of occupied land around Jerusalem and West bank will be perceived as such an intolerable provocation in and outside the Arabic countries that in the long run will undermine the security for the whole region - including Israel.

A first step to break the Gaza isolation could be a sea based corridor direct to Gaza from Cyprus that UN, together with USA and EU, can overlook the security and content of. Similar corridors can be organised on the land border crossings from Egypt to Israel. This way the security of Israel will be safeguarded because American and European inspectors can stop smuggling of rockets and other weapons.

UN suggested such a corridor to the Israeli minister of defence in 2006. EU have already had border inspectors at the border crossings, but they never got any responsibility by Israel.

It is not true that the current Israeli border regime ensures the needs in Gaza. UN's relief agency UNRWA can document that under half of the needs of population are met - even in good months. Israel has for years used closing of borders as collective punishment every time extreme groups have tried to do their terror. No government in any state, not even Israel, is able to avoid all violence at any time from its varying population.

The Israel historian Tom Segevs had a gloomy analysis of Israeli politics at a talk in Oslo this week: "You must not believe that Israel is a country that will live by a western standard. Israeli politicians have stopped believing we can live in peace with our neighbours. My country is fundamentally changed. The public in most countries are worried for the existence of the Palestinians. There aren't ordinary people in Israel."

Many who through the times have worked for peace in the region have replaced their hope with hopelessness and deep despair. Palestinian extreme groups like Hamas and Islamic jihad has contributed their part to undermine hopes for the future. But Israel has time and time again systematically assisted extremists on Palestinian side by bombing vital civilian infrastructure. Moderate and unpolitical aid workers give up and escapes Gaza.

The situation increases the desperation in the region, and a will to use militant violence - especially among young people who feel they are in a seemingly impossible situation.

The text was extracted, amended and freely translated from an article in the largest Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on June 1st 2010. Author of the full article is Jan Egeland who is the Director of The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

"Imagine there's no heaven; it's easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today ...

Imagine there's no countries; it isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace...."

[John Lennon, "Imagine"]

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Benefit of the doubt

I don't like justifying who or what I am - or what I do. I ask others to judge me based on what they see. I trust that good people who do an honest and fair check easily will see the true me. I’m pretty much WYSIWYG. I don't care much for wasting time or emotions on anybody who aren't honest or care enough to give me a fair chance before judging.

Many criticize or question me for being so public about my personal life on the Internet. I hear you, but have my reasons for being so transparent. However; I'm neither immune nor ignorant to the risks.

When I was as young I was very fascinated by computers. I bough my first when everybody I knew thought it was a silly fad and I got my first e-mail address long before even I knew the word Internet. Not that I could use it as I didn't know anybody else with an Internet address at the time. Back then we used the phone and called up Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) to communicate. Norway was interestingly enough the first country outside USA that got connected to ARPANET (the origins of Internet). The connection to this global wonder also gave me access to Usenet and later IRC, and my international network grew rapidly. I still have many very dear friends from all over the world that I met those first pioneering years.

Through my burning interest I got into IT at my work in the Norwegian postal services and my professional career started taking off. I was privately very interested in subjects like free speech, privacy and encryption, but also eager to explore hyper text and the new possibilities in web pages. My first personal web page was my training ground and I received a lot if recognition and awards for it. I developed several web sites for organizations I supported, like free thought, atheism and anti drugs.

While I was a strong supporter of the right to protect your individual privacy, I never had a problem being open about my personal life. In many cases it was sort of therapy. I'm still a very private person. First of all I have nothing to hide; I'm just a non-violent secular humanist who believes in personal ethical awareness and responsibility. And I believe we have a responsibility to be good role models in society. As a human living in peace and freedom thanks to many before me who fought for it, I feel obliged to pick up the stick. As I for over 20 years have worked with youth, I try to show them how I in my life strive for that through sharing and dialogue.

Now we know that what goes on the Net stays on the Net. As I in 1996 got involved in public education about a criminal and dangerous cult, I knew I couldn’t rewind my steps. I also saw that I was in a unique position to make a difference. I knew this unscrupulous cult would come after me with all they got the moment I stepped up on the barricade. For 13 years they have spent millions investigating me to find any dirt. First they try to scare and intimidate, then they investigate. If that fails, the third step to spread lies to black agent you. The goal is simple: To discredit you personally and professionally. Ideally ruin you utterly.

The cult believes that their critics are criminals and crazy – that is why they are critics according to their "logic". Therefore, finding my crimes will prove this. I have seen many good people silenced under this pressure and said to myself I will not be silenced by threats. By being open about my life I want to disarm them, there is nothing for them to find. I have no "buttons" they can push that will help them and I have already shared much more than they could find. And former cult victims have told me it was important to see me being so open and friendly, as a contrast to the lies the cult told them about me. It was part of their awakening.

Despite all the lies against me, I have managed to build a great professional career, I've received a lot of recognition in international media, I'm now on the national board of the largest Humanist association in the world - and despite all the resources used over so many years, the cult have not found one single bad thing on me. To me that is a darn good reference – privately and professionally!

Today I have over 20 years of personal history documented on the Net. A lot of it is personal, and a tiny fraction is lies. This has an impact on my life and I can not change the past. I can only continue striving to live a positive and constructive life. I can only continue to be open about my personal life to balance the lies.

So if you read about me, please at least give me the benefit of the doubt.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
[Benjamin Franklin]