On things I don’t understand

I don’t understand a lot of things. In fact, I would say that proportionally, the things I don’t understand heavily outweigh the ones I do understand. I tried to paste the pie-chart of my general understanding of stuff below, but it turns out that that’s another thing I just don’t know how to do.  You’ll just have to click the link if you’re interested.

Pie chart

Among the many things I don’t understand are:

Instruction manuals.

Why (some) people bother to engage in pointless conflicts.

Fashion, and why people are willing to spend ludicrous amounts of money on it.

Expensive cars/handbags/other luxury-goods that’ll only depreciate in value.

Calculus.

Why political debaters nowadays seem to focus more on tearing the opponent down rather than on presenting coherent arguments.

The elections are nearing here in Norway and it looks like we’re heading in a more conservative/fiscally liberal direction. I’m not crazy about it, but outside of voting, there’s little I can do. I am quite open about my political views; I’m a leftie (big surprise eh?) and my party is SV (Socialistic left-party. It is less dramatic than it sounds). I don’t mind having to pay taxes; I think immigration is stellar and that we should welcome it; I dislike NATO intensely; I think we have a responsibility to help those who are struggling and I think “The Invisible Hand of the Market” is brutally unfair at times. So, there’s that. Sometimes though, I find myself  less than impressed with those who are on my side. Like today. I was walking downtown (again); the political parties had booths and representatives standing along Karl Johan’s street (the main street in Oslo). Most approached me in a friendly way and I accepted all the flyers I was given (I always do. I don’t know why, and I should probably stop, cause I end up carrying around a ton of garbage that I’ll likely never read).

 

Garbage that I for some reason accepted

Garbage that I for some reason accepted

 

The totality of useful stuff I was handed. On Falun Gong and human rights abuses in China; on Kurds in Syria and on executions in Iran. Links to the texts can be found below.

The totality of useful stuff I was handed. On Falun Gong and human rights abuses in China; on Kurds in Syria and on executions in Iran. Links to the texts can be found below.

But one of the ladies from SV  was just plain scary. She approached me, almost yelling, “STEM SV!!!!!!!” (VOTE SV!!!!!!  I normally don’t use more than one exclamation mark, but all the ones used are warranted, that’s how loud and angry she was). I replied (using my indoor-voice) “I already do”. Instead of saying something like “hey, that’s great!” or “Thank you” she (again nearly yelled) MAKE ALL YOUR FRIENDS VOTE SV TOO !!!!!!”

 I can’t make anyone do anything..  And Lady, that’s a horrible way to recruit new voters. Most people prefer not being yelled at, and if you’re trying to garner votes, it would probably be better if you explained why one should vote for your party rather than yelling at people and slamming the opposition. It may be so that the lady does not mind being yelled at, but when I am to present a case, I try to think of how I prefer being talked to. I like it when people are somewhat calm, or at least not aggressive. They can be enthusiastic, eager and even loud, but when you approach me with an aggressive command, you lose me.  I like it when people assume that I have a certain level of intelligence; this is currently almost absent from the political debates. The B.S that is presented is staggering, and there are Straw Men and Red Herrings all over the place . I tend to look for logical inconsistencies in my own argument, while many politicians seem to build their arguments on (almost) nothing but (I must admit that I sometimes question their intellegence/Intelligance/intellugens intelligence (heh :D). I tend to try to present my case by stating what is favourable about my stance and backing it up with data/research-findings, while in politics, it seems to be all about showing why and how everyone else is wrong. My way is of course not the only way, but there’s got to be a better method than the one that is currently employed.

I really don’t have a conclusive statement today, maybe just “don’t yell at people if you want them on your side”?

International Committee Against Execution: On Iran

Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong

About Falun Gong

The last flyer did not have a internet address; it is on the situation Syrian Kurds are facing in Syria. If anyone wants to read it let me know and I’ll scan it.

 

On why I don’t mind it when addicts spend the money I give them on their drug of choice

I know the headline sounds quite off (again..), but I do think that my reasoning is sound (heh..Don’t we all…)

I have already written a little about addiction and how prevalent it is in Norway. The drug(s) of choice are predominantly heroin and alcohol, both very harmful and both quite scary when used carelessly, but more on that later.

When I walk about Oslo, I hear people talk (I swear I’m not trying to listen in on private conversations – it just kinda happens). While (totally unintentionally) listening in on others conversations, I have overheard variations of one particular theme several times. The topic is how addicts spend their money and how they should spend their money. Here are a couple of pretty common statements:

“I don’t give cause they’ll just spend it on drugs”. Or, in the case of more generous  passers-by’s, “I hope you spend this on food, not drugs”. I understand both sentiments; the first one pertains to not wanting to feed an individual’s addiction. Addiction is a horrible disease, and most do not want to contribute to another person’s downfall. The second one is reasonable as well, cause after all, all creatures need some sort of nourishment to survive (Why hello there Captain Obvious!). There’s a problem with both statements though, namely that when a body is thoroughly addicted to a drug, your body/brain makes the drug its first priority.

Let’s look at alcohol. Alcohol is an evil drug. It is one of the few drugs that can make you really ill, but that you’ll still return to. Now, there’s something called “the Garcia-Effect”. Dr. John Garcia was a psychologist working in a U.S defense lab. He was a prolific researcher, and he studied the effects of pairing a food/drink item with horrible nausea (among many other things). It turns out that if we put something in our mouth, then get nauseous, we develop a taste-aversion. That is, we’re unlikely to eat or drink that same thing again; we might even get nauseous at the very smell of the food/drink that made us ill (I know the Garcia-effect well. I still cannot eat Christmas-type glazed ham after getting very very ill from eating it while living in a boarding school in Kolding, Denmark. 19 years have passed and the smell still makes me unwell. Dear Lord did I ever get sick). Alcohol, despite being “something you put in your mouth/swallow” is not subject to the Garcia-effect; It may be in the short term, but most forget about the horrible hangovers and the puking fairly quickly. We may be evolutionarily prepared to avoid food/drinks that may harm or even kill us, but alcohol seems to be an exception.

 

Image taken from addictionville.org

Image taken from addictionville.org

Anyway, alcohol-withdrawal can (and frequently does) kill people. The symptoms are horrible. The milder symptoms include nausea/vomiting, headaches, dizziness, shakiness and anxiety. What follows is worse. There’s  hallucinations, both visual (that is, the individual sees things that aren’t really there); tactile (the individual feels something that’s not real, for instance a touch or likewise) and auditory (this is when we hear sounds, voices or likewise that aren’t real).  People who go through alcohol withdrawal may as such turn psychotic. Then there’s delirium tremens. Delirium tremens symptoms include severe anxiety, visual hallucinations (that cannot be distinguished from reality. Imagine seeing the Grim Reaper coming for you and believing it is true…), racing heartbeat, high blood pressure and finally, seizures and heart-failure. All this may happen within hours, but if the individual drinks a little alcohol, the symptoms recede. Comparatively, if we don’t eat for a few hours, we (may) get grumpy, maybe a bit dizzy and if we go without food for a longer time, we may faint. It takes a looooong time for us to die from lack of food. Food should naturally be a priority, but in this case, it should not be the first priority (in my opinion anyways). If given the choice between alleviating hunger and alleviating symptoms of delirium tremens, I’d go with the latter every single time. My friend/former classmate/collaborator on a major paper in a counselling psychology class, Nickey Christine, made a few excellent points when I posted this on facebook. The following is one of them (in her own words). “Where I live at least, I don’t know about Norway, food on the otherhand is something ppl can access thru food banks, community meals, religious centers, etc. So in a strange and twisted way, not having money does not nec mean not having food. But it can mean resorting to more destructive means to feed their addiction… So not giving bc of a fear of feeding an addiction can mean the opposite of risk reduction… Mind blown lol”. We have the exact same situation here; there are several places where those who struggle can secure a free meal, so food is easily obtained; money though? Not so much.. I’ll include links to the various organizations/institutions on the bottom of this post, in case anyone might know of someone who is in need of a little extra help.

 

As previously mentioned, I do understand the unwillingness to contribute to others worsening disease, but not giving does nothing to help the individual. The addicts need proper treatment by professionals, and until they get that, I think it is all about keeping the person (somewhat) well and at least alive. Helping them secure their drug of choice is  an act of kindness. Cause not giving does nothing to cure the disease.

Also, if we give something away, we no longer own it. Stipulations on gifts are obnoxious in a “I know what’s right for you” kinda way. Or so I think.

 

(Btw. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional (ehrm..) glass of wine.)

Links:

Blå Kors

Kirkens bymisjon 

Frelsesarmeen 

Fattighuset i Oslo

 

I’ve been busy…

I have a lot (and I mean *A Lot*) of stuff going on at the current time, so I have not had time to write much. I do promise that I’m going to write another post tomorrow (or the next day) though :) (Sufi suggested a suitable topic and I’m going with it). I have nevertheless had (some) time to read,  and holy wow, this is absolutely nuts!

I do not like the direction in which Europe (or the majority of the western world really) is heading at the current time. I’m getting Thatcher-ite/Ayn Rand/Atlas Shrugged-kind of vibes, and it bothers me.

I’ll probably be spending the rest of the night over at cuteoverload.com  (while hugging Nik).

 

This is Niko/Nik, the resident terrierist. He picks fights with much larger and much scarier dogs, and he burps audibly/visibly on a frequent basis. He is also quite adorable :)

This is Niko/Nik, the resident terrierist. He picks fights with much larger and much scarier dogs, and he burps audibly/visibly on a frequent basis. He is also quite adorable :)

 

BLUR!

I have been a huge Blur-fan since I was about 20 years old or so, and I finally got to see them perform live at Øya tonight :) (I will forever and ever (and ever) have a crush on Damon Albarn).

20130807_214016

The set-list was great! I had plenty of beer spilled on me, and several people stepped on my feet (in the most brutal way) but it was totally worth it :)

 

Allen likes Blur.

Allen likes Blur.

Otherwise, I am kind of obsessing over this tune right now. Thanks Javier! :)

On colonialism, bioprospecting and biopiracy

biopiracy

Image taken from www.thelondoneveningpost.com

You’ve probably heard of “the scramble for Africa” but I’ll explain/write a little about it nevertheless :)

Back in the late 1800′s, several of the (larger) European powers got together in Berlin in what is now known as the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. The intent/goal was to decide on  how to divide Africa among the European powers. No one really cared how the people living in the various regions of Africa felt about being invaded and colonized, but I think it is safe to say that they weren’t thrilled about it. The division went (roughly) like this: The Brits wanted the stretch from Cape to Cairo (that is, from the very southern tip of the continent to the north of Africa) and the French aimed to get the area stretching from the east of Africa to the west (guess what happened where the desired territories overlapped?). A few other countries also got into it. Here’s a (rough) breakdown: Germany took Namibia and a few other countries in west, east and central Africa. Italy took some of the regions of northern and eastern Africa. Portugal took Angola, Mozambique and some of the islands off of the coast. Spain took parts of Morocco, Western Sahara, Equatorial Guinea and a few more areas. Belgium took what is now known as The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pic taken from itiscannizzaro.net

Pic taken from itiscannizzaro.net

Listing these countries makes it appear as though they were distinct countries prior to colonization. Most were not. The borders were drawn up by the European colonizers, and this had huge and frequently very harmful consequences to the people living there. Many of the colonizers were awfully abusive towards the indigenous population, and when they weren’t abusive, they were patronizing.

I’ll get to the point though. The Europeans faced a number of problems in occupying Africa, one being malaria. Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium. Plasmodium is transmitted through mosquito-spittle, it can be lethal, and the Europeans were dying like flies. The indigenous Africans could (to a certain extent) deal with the illness. Some got ill, but some had a form of genetic protection against the disease. A fair number of Africans have what is called sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia shortens peoples life-spans, it causes fatigue and produces symptoms similar to those of pneumonia (among a slew of other problems). It also offers protection against malaria for some reason; Weird eh?

Anyway, European imperialists were not only active in Africa, they had (earlier) made their way to both North, Central and South America. Now, in the Andes mountains, there is a tree called the Cinchona tree, and the Spanish conquistadors (along with some Jesuit priests) noticed that despite malaria being present in the region, the indigenous Quechua people were not getting ill. They didn’t all have sickle-cell anemia either, they had just figured out that the bark of the Cinchona was effective in treating malaria. The bark contains an alkaloid called quinine. Quinine is effective against a range of ailments, but it’s most remarkable attribute (I think) is that it can be used to treat malaria. This leads me to the point, namely bioprospecting and biopiracy. Bioprospecting is when we seek out and commercialize biological resources (be it plants, venoms or other stuff found in nature). Biopiracy is when we take that same stuff, commercialize it and don’t care to pay those who helped us find it. When the Jesuit priests (who tagged along with the conquistadors) took the bark of the Cinchona tree back to Europe and sold it to those who lived in areas where malaria was present, they were engaging in bioprospecting and biopiracy. This practice has gone on for a very long time, and the majority of the “stuff” has been found in regions we currently call the global South. Now, imagine if  Peru & Bolivia had been given back pay for all the lives quinine has saved? That’d be a lot of money.. Same goes for the Cape Pelargonium. The Cape Pelargonium was/is used by indigenous Africans and was stolen and marketed by the German ‘pharmaceutical company’ Schwabe (it is used in AIDS-treatment and for bronchitis/respiratory ailments).

So to come full circle; the reason Europeans were able to colonize Africa was because of Quinine, a medicine stolen from a group in another faraway land. When we wonder “why are they so poor still, it has been well over a 100 years?!” this theft and our unwillingness to pay for ‘third world’ knowledge, resources and labour might be a few of the many reasons.

In other news, it is Saturday evening and writing this is probably the most exciting thing I’ll be doing today.

I’m a rebel!

On Oslo, junkies and the bystander effect

narkplata246-copy-jp-870

Image taken from vg.no

The downtown core of Oslo is about a 20 minute walk from my place. Lately I’ve been going down there pretty much every day. I go because I have nothing better to do, and because I get very easily bored (ridiculously so. Relaxing is really not my thing).  Anyway, there are a lot of hard drug and alcohol addicts in Oslo. (If you’ve read the post on Western and Norwegian Drug Policy, you’ll know of this.)

If you go to Oslo’s Central Station (“Oslo S or Jernbanetorget”, our main train station) you’ll see them. They hang out in several different locations, but Oslo S seems to have the greatest concentration. They’ll get chased away by the cops, but they come back within a fairly short time. If you then walk up Karl Johan (the main street in the centre of Oslo), you will also find them; they might be selling =Oslo mags, or they may, as the one guy I met last night, lie on the sidewalk, seemingly unconscious.  I’ll get back to the (seemingly) unconscious guy, but I have to explain the psych-part first.

There’s this (horrible) phenomenon called “the bystander effect” (psychology majors will be fully aware of this). The bystander effect is simply explained; when we see someone who is in trouble, we frequently fail to react. If there are many people present, as was the case today, we are even less likely to act. It is a weird phenomenon, and it happens all the time. The first time it was adequately described was back in 1964, when Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered in New York. Kitty was attacked, she cried for help, and there were many witnesses.Several of the witnesses heard Kitty’s cries and some saw the event. What was common for them all was that they did nothing.

It would be easy to judge them as horribly incompassionate, but please understand that these weren’t bad people. They were just subject to the bystander effect. Our psyches are cruel though, so when we are aware that there are others witnessing the same event that we are, our minds tell us that  that it is not our responsibility; that we ‘should stay out of it and mind our own business’. We assume that someone else will take care of the problem.  The thing is, this fabled  ’Someone else’ does not take care of the problem, because the ‘someone else’ will likely take the same position as you. We see it in the case of ‘jumpers’ or people who accidentally fall down on railroad/subway tracks when there’s a train coming. The more people are present, the less likely someone is to react. If there is only one person present, she/he is likely to help, to assume responsibility, but when there are tens or hundreds, we all stand by and watch it happen while waiting for someone else to do something.

In becoming aware of the bystander effect I have deliberately chosen not to fall for it. When I see someone struggling, I react. It is not a matter of being in a compassio-thon of sorts, it is just about having the decency to ask if the other person is well. I have never encountered any problems in doing so; the maximum amount of effort I have had to put in was to place a call to the police/ambulance (in the case of a very psychotic young man). The guy yesterday was perfectly fine ( he was just high as all get out) and all I had to do to assure that he was fine (i.e., that he wasn’t in need medical assistance)  was to shake him slightly and ask him if he was ok. No effort, just a question and a gentle touch.

So now that you’re aware of the bystander effect, I hope you react when you see someone who looks to be in a bad way. The worst thing that might happen is you may be told to mind your own business, and though that may hurt a little, you’ll live, and you’ll know that you did the right thing.

On why you probably shouldn’t buy a new cell phone until your old one is busted

Coltanlady

I am not crazy about cell phones. I dislike all phones really, but I dislike cell phones in particular.  I am not important enough (in the big picture) to have to be available 24/7, and I am quite bad at talking on the phone. I interrupt the person I am talking to, because I can’t seem to figure out whose turn it is to talk. Then there’s the awful ‘stutter/talk over each other thing’ that usually follows after my interrupting. I am also slow at texting. These are (I think) pretty good reasons for disliking phones. There are much better reasons to dislike cell-phones (and many other electronics) though, one being the trade in coltan.

Coltan is used in electronics (and missiles, weapons-systems and more). It is  a metallic ore,  and it is mined in several different places in the world, among them the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC for short). I am sure everyone is aware of the trade in blood diamonds (there’s even a movie); coltan is the blood-diamond of metallic ore. The trade in coltan helps fund  the (incredibly bloody and brutal) war within the DRC. Coltan funds the activities of warlords. These warlords use militias who are frequently made up of child-soldiers and the militias are responsible for brutal/incredibly violent rapes.

Image taken from www.whenthenewsstops.org

Image taken from www.whenthenewsstops.org

I have already mentioned that coltan is used in weapons manufacturing but I think it is worth repeating. Coltan has caused an increase in child labour (and thereby a decrease in school attendance) and has (of course) also been responsible for destruction of the habitats (and the killing off) of several already endangered animal species. And who profits? The large multinational companies. The already very wealthy. Trust me, the miners are not well paid, neither are the child soldiers. Not even the warlords are,  but the companies we willingly give money to in order to have the latest gadget, profit on a massive scale. The UN proposed sanctions against 85 multinationals, but after (vigorous) lobbying by member-states, nothing ever came of it.

Image taken from themartlet.ca

Child mining coltan. Image taken from themartlet.ca

All in all, our rampant consumerism has a very high cost. We don’t acknowledge that it exists though. We should probably reconsider our consumption, particularly when we are aware that it is costing lives.

Mind you, I am not innocent in this; I have a computer. I have a TV and I have a cell-phone (So, in the case of the cell, I only got a new one when I dropped the one I had inherited from my dad in my coffee-mug). I have many many electronic devices, but I am doing (and will continue to do) my utmost to keep it to a minimum. The people who would be impressed by my possessions are not people I really consider important to me anyway, so the brag-factor is absent. I am certain that I don’t need the Iphone 6, and I am pretty sure that most others don’t need it either.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. Sorry about the depressing content, but awareness is a pretty good thing. Or so I think.

On Roma in Europe and Norway

 

This photo was taken in Berlin and depicts a 23 year old Roma woman by the name Erna Lauenburger. Erna was a skilled writer,and had she been allowed to live, she might have contributed  much more than she already has.   She was executed in 1943 for no other reason but having been born Roma.

This photo was taken in Berlin and depicts a 23 year old Roma woman by the name Erna Lauenburger. Erna was a skilled writer,and had she been allowed to live, she might have contributed much more than she already has. She was executed in 1943 for no other reason but having been born Roma.

(Again) note; I do not claim to have the answers as to how the problem of the Roma could possibly be solved, that’s the domain of the authorities and the politicians (and I would make a horrible politician).  I observe and write notes because I have nothing better to do. That said, get to it guys!! That’s why you got in to politics right? Cause you know how to fix problems/find solutions?

Anyway..

I’m certain that whoever reads this knows of the Roma, but just in case you don’t, I’ll give a brief introduction. Roma are frequently referred to as “Gypsies” (Gypsy is considered an offensive term in some circles) and they are wanderers. They originated in the Indian subcontinent and are currently dispersed throughout Europe and parts of the Americas. Throughout time, the Roma have been persecuted (almost?) on par with the Jewish people, but there are considerable differences between the two groups. Where the Jewish people persevered (despite incredible hardships) and have managed to spread the word of their ill-treatment, the Roma have not. Literacy and education has made all the difference. Both groups have been denied entry to several countries (among them, Norway) and forced sterilizations carried out by the majority-population were (and are) commonplace in the case of the Roma.

The Roma were also persecuted during the Holocaust, and the only group treated worse were the Jewish people. We are (of course) aware that it did happen to Roma too, but there is not a whole lot of discussion of the Roma’s fate these days.

Now, the more things change, the more they stay the same, right? I am not suggesting that Roma are exposed to Holocaust-like conditions these days, but they are certainly marginalized and treated like garbage. They are frequently beggars and live on the street. Some steal (I probably would too if that was my only option). The great majority are illiterate, and in European society at large, they are not considered equal to the rest of us. Their kids are sent to schools for intellectually disabled or segregated into ‘all-Roma’ classes. They do not have access to the same healthcare as you and I, and their life-expectancy is considerably lower than ours. They frequently refuse to disclose their ethnicity to the authorities and I completely understand why; I would never let my (non-existent) children suffer a fate like that of the Roma. Their paranoia is very well-founded, but in withdrawing from the rest of society they create an even greater problem for themselves. Progress is (usually) achieved through interaction, and without it, they’ll remain where they currently are.

Back to Norway (and Europe, but my first-hand experience is naturally from the country in which I live). The trend is not changing. Roma are still persecuted, but in a ‘kinder, gentler way’. They are chased away by the cops when they set up camp (this is not entirely unreasonable, camping is forbidden within Oslo’s limits unless it is done in costly camping-lots, so there’s that). They have been attacked with fireworks.  A smallish Norwegian newspaper (fairly) recently printed an article in which it was claimed that the Roma eat pigeons (!), rats (!!) and dogs (!!!) (feel free to contact me if you want any of the articles translated). This claim about Roma eating rats was supported by a picture of a bone which appears to be from a chicken wing (check it out, there’s a cigarette-butt that serves as a size-indicator. Rat-bones are much much smaller so if that bone is from a rat, it would be a Monster!). I would call the article `weirdly-phrased and almost propaganda-y’. These are people who do not eat shellfish, as they consider scavengers not edible, so the likelihood of these allegations being true are minuscule.  It was also alleged that they defecate outside, and that without properly wiping! (I would love to hear how Jan Hauger, the person claiming this, would know anything about how the Roma wipe. I do not contest that they might ‘go’ outside, but how do you know about their wiping-habits Jan?).  I am not usually in the business of judging others, but I’ll make an exception for Mr. Hauger. What he said harkens back to 1930′s Germany (*very angry-face*).

An added problem is that of “helpful people” (in other, non-minced words; ‘well-meaning idiots’). We have a guy here who started an organization called “Folk er folk” (“people are people”… Yup, not a particularly clever name…) He decided that the smart thing to do was to print a magazine (of sorts) that the Roma could sell as a means to get some money. There is already an organization doing that;  =Oslo, a long established institution where the sellers are  addicts (alcohol, narcotics, you name it). I will always buy =Oslo, and I will never buy “Folk er folk’s” magazine. Not because I don’t empathize with the Roma, but because it is a dirty concept. First, I am not too fond of his stealing the idea of a street-magazine (could it be considered intellectual property theft? I think so). Secondly, it has (naturally) created a conflict between two marginalized groups whom both deserve better. Bjønnulv Evenrud (the founder of “folk er folk”) should have known better.  (Am I being particularly judgy today? Yes. Yes I am.)

It should be said that the Norwegian government has tried to help in some ways. They have set up showers (which have not been used) and porta-potties (which were quickly trashed, by whom is uncertain). It might be so that the Roma lead their lives in a way that focuses less on showering and indoor-toilets and more on everyday survival. I must also commend many members of the Norwegian clergy; they have demonstrated on the Roma’s behalf, and I can honestly say that my respect rose considerably. It was a true act of compassion.

Anyway, To the psychology-part of this post; what does ‘information’ like what was printed in the newspaper article mentioned above do to our psyches? If we are gullible enough to believe it, it makes us consider the “vastly different” as not quite human. They do things we would never do; they eat things we would never eat; they act in ways we (from our privileged positions) find to be awful. We do not acknowledge that they are living, breathing humans with the exact same emotional range as ourselves. When we dehumanize, it becomes much easier to treat people in ways that we would never dream of treating those we consider our equals.  These were the mechanism at work in the Holocaust, in former Yugoslavia/Bosnia, in Rwanda, Abu Ghraib and in countless other cases. We dehumanize, we create ‘An Other’, and in the process, we ignore our humanity, compassion and empathy. A case in Italy illustrates my point; two Roma girls drowned during the summer of 08. Normally, those around would react with shock and horror, but instead they chose to continue sunbathing, just meters away from the dead girls.. If your reaction to young girls dying is that of nonchalance and indifference, you certainly do not see the girls as real human beings, as someone’s daughters and someone’s sisters. You have lost your ability to feel compassion, and that’s a serious flaw in your character.

Or so I think.

Oslo (pt. 2) look at “Tourist in my own city” below first :)

The prison itself, it goes by the name of "botsen". I have been inside, and trust me, it is nowhere near as cushy as Michael Moore and others claim Norwegian prisons to be.

This prison  goes by the name of “Botsen”. I have been inside, and trust me, it is nowhere near as cushy as Michael Moore and others claim Norwegian prisons to be.

Posters calling for a boycott of the fall elections. That might not be the way to go about it, but what do I know?

Posters calling for a boycott of the fall elections. Uhm..Guys? Not sure that’s the most productive way to change a system you perceive to not be functioning.

 

"Botsen" seen from the other side. The round stones you see in from have been collected from the different regions of Norway.

“Botsen” seen from the other side. The round stones you see in front of the prison have been collected from different counties/regions of Norway.

The park where we walk Niko.

The park where we walk Niko.

 

This is Alnaelva; I walk here at least once a day. There's a wonderful small path going through a virgin forest. I love it so much.

This is Alnaelva; I walk here at least once a day. There’s a wonderful small path going through a virgin forest. I love it so much.

Said path also has a bridge, and what you're seeing in the background is an old factory. Seeing it reminds me of the industrial revolution

Said path also has a bridge, and what you’re seeing in the background is an old factory. Seeing it reminds me of the industrial revolution

 

Notice how the rock is incorporated into the building? Neat!

Notice how the rock is incorporated into the building? Neat!

Along the path.

Along the path.

 

Vålerenga (Vaalerenga); a kinda-sorta borough of Oslo; it is famous for its  soccer and hockey teams.

Vålerenga (Vaalerenga); a kinda-sorta borough of Oslo; it is famous for its soccer and hockey teams.

Galgeberg translates to "Gallowsberg" - this is where the gallows were.

Galgeberg translates to “Gallowsberg” – this is where the gallows were back in the day. The last time someone was executed here was in 1815.

 

This is a squatter-camp near my place. The kids living there seem nice.

This is a squatter-camp near my place. The kids living there seem nice.

 

The gate to the ruin-park nearby. The ruins are from year 1100 AD.

The gate to the ruin-park nearby. The ruins are from year 1100 AD.

 

Gravestone

Gravestone

Skate-bowl (I guess? the kids skate in there and has a bowlish-kinda shape to it).

Skate-bowl (I guess? the kids skate in there and has a bowlish-kinda shape to it). This is in Gamlebyen (the oldest part of town, close to where there was a big viking battle many hundred years ago).

 

I'm Great at taking pictures!!

I’m Great at taking pictures!!

The guy depicted is Oslo's  guardian angel, St. Hallvard.

The guy depicted is Oslo’s Patron saint, St. Hallvard.