NPR reports on suicides in Greenland

As some of you might know, the Kingdom of Denmark (or the Danish Realm) is formed by three autonomous countries – the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Denmark.

This has not always been the case – the Faroe Islands and Greenland was considered part of Denmark since the forming of the Kalmar Union in 1397, and didn’t become autonomous until 2005 and 2009 respectively. As a step towards becoming autonomous, both the Faroe Islands and Greenland received home rule – though in Greenland’s case, it didn’t have until 1979.

Before 1979, Greenland had been a colony of Denmark-Norway for centuries until 1953, where it was turned into a county in Denmark.

At the same time as Greenland was turned into a county, a lot of well-meaning Danes attempted to modernize the Greenlandic Inuits, making them less dependent upon seal hunting and fishing.

Some of the measures done in these attempts have since become known to the general public – most notable the story of the 22 kids that were taken from their parents in Greenland and put into foster care in Denmark, resulting in them loosing their language and culture. This is similar to things that has happened to indigenous people in Australia and Canada.

Such a forced modernization always have a negative effect on the local population – a negative effect that goes on for generations.

This receives very little coverage in Denmark.

Now, however I see that NPR has an article in Danish about the suicide rate in Greenland – a suicide rate that, at least partly, can be traced back to the policies of Denmark in Greenland.

Selvmord i Grønland: Det er ikke mørket, som dræber dig

There is also a version in English: The Arctic Suicides: It’s Not The Dark That Kills You

It is depressing that it takes a foreign newsmedia to cover a serious problem in a country that is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but unfortunately, the Danish media doesn’t seem to cover such subjects.

I guess Biden is not a Trump fan

ABC has uploaded a speech by Vice President Joe Biden, where he talks about Donald Trump. The description doesn’t say where and when it was given, but it was clearly after the first presidential debate.

I think the speech is pretty powerful, and could help move some doubters – either to not vote Trump or to vote Clinton.

What’s interesting, is that Biden’s speech is mostly about Trump’s one-liners (“because I’m smart”, “that’s called good business”), which demonstrates once again that the biggest liability for the Trump campaign is Donald Trump

Calling their bluff

I am spending some of my Sunday working, and as a treat to myself, I’ve bought myself some chocolate frogs.

Chocolate frogs in bags Chocolate frogs on plate

I think we all know to avoid colorful frogs, so these are clearly signaling to me that they are dangerous. I think it is a bluff though, and will not fall for it!

15 years ago

Throughout your life, you will live through a number of events that will get burned into your memory for ever. Some of them are personal, and don’t really affect anyone else but you, while others are shared across large groups of people, even populations, and can have lasting effects on not only your life, but the life of everyone on the planet.

15 years ago a event happened that shaped the world in ways that was impossible to predict at the time.

I am of course talking about 9/11. The attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

I remember the day it happened quite clearly. I was at home, when one of my friends called me, and told me to get on the internet – this was just after the second plane had hit. I managed to get online before the towers collapsed, and remember the confusion and the many rumors being reported, which later turned out to be wrong.

At the time, I was active in Readerville, the now-closed book forum, where there was a general purpose discussion thread, which turned into a news and support thread. Most major news sites were overwhelmed with the traffic that hit them, and google put up a cached version of New York Times, allowing people to read it (with a delay). Even this cached version was at times overwhelmed by the sheer traffic. The most reliable news source many of the US regulars on Readerville had, was an ex-pat living in Amsterdam, reporting what they news there said – this news channel only brought verified news, so it cut out the rumors.

It was a horrible day – I knew a fair number of people in both New York and in Washington D.C., and it took days before I knew that they were all safe. Several of them had witnessed the attacks, and some had lost friends or family that day.

Looking back, it can be hard to explain to younger people why the attacks on the WTC was such a shock. Why we, even at the time, felt that this was a game changer. It was hardly like it was the first terrorist attack that had ever happened – not in the US, and not even on the WTC. But the scope of it felt very different. It somehow changed terrorist attacks from being attacks on single targets, to being coordinated on multiple targets, using other innocent victims as the weapons.

I am not sure that this in itself would have been enough to make 9/11 a gamechanger, but combined with the US president at the time, George W. Bush, it changed the geo-political reality we live in.

Using 9/11 as he vehicle, George W. Bush started two major wars – the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan was, in my opinion, justifiable,  but handled completely wrong, especially after the start of the Iraq War, which could not in any way be justified by 9/11, and which in my opinion was an illegal war. Both of these wars are still going on today, and are costing lives among both the soldiers sent there and among the civilians. They are also the breeding ground for resentment, and for militant groups, which later turn into terrorists (see e.g. ISIS).

There are a lot of people saying “never forget 9/11”, but I see little chance of that happening. It will decades before the damages from 9/11 and the reaction to it will be even partly undone. Rather, we should say “learn from 9/11”. Don’t let terrorist acts, no matter how horrible, get you to allow politicians to lead the country into groundless wars.

On that note, my condolences are with everybody who lost someone on 9/11, or in the wars that followed it.

Note on comments:

While I generally would allow comments pushing conspiracy theories, if nothing else then for the amusement of shredding them, I actually have little patience for 9/11 Truthers, and I don’t  think a remembrance post is the right place for that sort of stupidity, so any such comments will be deleted, and the poster might get banned.


Lazy linking

A few links that I have come across recently which might interest you readers.

India’s angry Dalits rise against age-old caste prejudices

Every day, newspapers are awash with stories of injustices against Dalits and their oppression by upper-caste Hindus. Among the attacks on Dalits in the past month: a 13-year-old girl who was beaten up for drinking from a temple water pump; a Dalit team in the traditional Indian sport of kabaddi attacked by a rival upper-caste squad for winning a match; an impoverished Dalit couple hacked to death following a disagreement with an upper-caste shopkeeper over a debt of 15 rupees (22 cents).

But while Dalits — formerly known as “untouchables” — are still victims of thousands of attacks each year despite laws put in place soon after India’s independence, there has been a slow change in the way they react to the atrocities, say social scientists and Dalit activists.

If you speak with Indians from the higher castes, they often claim that the caste system doesn’t really exist any longer, and that people from the lower castes have the same opportunities as anyone else. Stories like the ones mentioned in the article, however, shows that this is not the case, and that the caste system is still used to repress people from the lower castes, allowing people from higher castes to do whatever they want, with little consequence.

The Disgusting Breitbart Smear Campaign Against the Immigrant Owner of Chobani

Hamdi Ulukaya is the model American immigrant success story.

In 2005, the Turkish-born Kurdish entrepreneur purchased a defunct Kraft foods plant in upstate New York with an $800,000 loan from the Small Business Administration. In just a few years, his Chobani yogurt went from selling a few containers at a Long Island kosher grocery to being the No. 1 selling yogurt brand in the country with annual revenue topping $1.5 billion. In addition to employing more than 2,000 people directly—all of whom earn above minimum wage and enjoy generous benefits—the company purchases 4 million pounds of milk from American farmers every day.

Breibart is wagering a smear campaign against Hamdi Ulukaya and Chobani with no regards to truth or decency.

I’d love for some of the victims of Breibart’s campaigns to be able to sue them for libel, bankrupting them like Gawker was bankrupted.

Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa

If Mother Teresa, to be canonised at the Vatican on September 4, is to be named a patron saint of anything it should be for “misinformation”. In the last 20 years of her life, truth became an unknown entity to her. The media aided and abetted her lack of integrity and in a way she cannot be blamed for believing in her own lies.

Intellect was not her strong point and, for someone like her, to be surrounded by hordes of sycophants who were telling her if she said black was white then that had to be true, it became intoxicating. The media did spread the mega-myth about her, but she herself was the source. She repeatedly told the world she went around the city 24×7 “picking up” destitute from its squalid “gutters” (she did not), that she fed up to 9,000 in her soup kitchens (she did not), she never refused a helpless child (she did as a rule), that the dying destitute in her so-called home for the dying Nirmal Hriday died a “beautiful death” (they were treated harshly and often died a miserable, painful death).

Great article by Aroup Chatterjee on the real Mother Teresa and the consequences of her work in Kolkata. Aroup Chatterjee has been fighting Mother Teresa for a long time, and was a major inspiration for Christopher Hitchens.

Student who protested against asylum seeker’s deportation on flight found guilty

Melbourne woman Jasmine Pilbrow found guilty of interfering with an airline crew member for refusing to sit down during protest over the deportation of a Tamil asylum seeker

Pilbrow’s action led to the asylum seeker being taken off the plane.

Pilbrow argued that her actions were “in response to circumstances of sudden or extraordinary emergency”, and thus was legal, even if the actions themselves could be considered illegal in isolation. Unfortunately, the judge didn’t accept this argument, and found her guilty.

American Women in the 1900s Called Street Harassers ‘Mashers’ and Stabbed Them With Hatpins

In recent years, a conversation about catcalling and other forms of street harassment has grown heated online. But those who tire of unsolicited comments in public have been making their displeasure known for a long time, reports Laura Donovan for ATTN:. In the late early 1900s women were stabbing mouthy men with their hatpins. And that wasn’t the worst fate to befall so-called “mashers.”
Maybe hatpins should come into use again?
And finally, I have a couple of new blog posts up at my IT-related blog:

Is microservices the new SOA?

Think smaller

Project managers vs Product owners

I am trying to blog a bit more there, so if you’re interested in IT projects and IT consulting, then follow that blog.


A stunning lack of fact-checking in Denmark

Perhaps surprising to people who consider Denmark either a decadent socialist hell-hole or an enlightened welfare state, there is a robust debate about the welfare state in Denmark, its role, its size, and its effectiveness.

The current government, and most of the parties supporting it, is of the opinion that the welfare state in Denmark is too large and expensive, and that the tax rate is too high, especially for the people with the highest incomes – i.e. those paying the top level tax rate.

I profoundly disagree, even though I am one of those who would benefit from the tax rate being reduced. But that is a subject for another post.

Among the parties supporting the government on this issue, is Liberal Alliance, which is a Libertarian party (or ultra-liberal in the European sense).

One of the members of parliament for that party is also the founder of 180 grader (180 degrees) which is a blogging side for libertarians. 180 grader obviously have a lot of blog posts pushing the party line, and demonizing the welfare state.

One of the people writing at 180 grader is Karina Pedersen, who grew up in a poor neighborhood in a fairly small Danish town (population approximately 50,000 people). Karina Pedersen claimed that the welfare state kept people in poverty and unemployment, drawing on her experiences and referring to her family and old class mates as examples.

Given that Karina Pedersen is a rare case of someone from a poor background criticizing the welfare state, she has been given a lot of space in the public debate though numerous interviews and even a book Helt ude i hampen – mails fra underklassen (hard to translate, but approximately Completely far out – mails from the lower class). The book was published a couple of weeks ago.

The book is supposedly based on some mails that Karina Pedersen has sent to a friend, telling about her experiences, claiming that the “lower class” is lazy and cheating, and shouldn’t be helped by the state. She claimed that there were teen mothers living all over her old neighborhood as a result of the welfare state.

The publications of the book has of course given Karina Pedersen and her views more space in the newspapers, which uncritically published her claims about her experiences from her youth.

Then something interesting happened. A journalist decided to do some fact-checking (link in Danish).

As you might have guessed, it turned out that just about everything that Karina Pedersen had said about her childhood was either impossible to document or outright lies. Her claims about her family and classmates being unemployed were completely wrong, and so where the claims about young teenage mothers (something easily refuted by looking at the birth statistics).

In other words, her book and her claims in numerous interviews, were based upon lies, which a minimum of fact-checking would have uncovered.

Most of the many newspapers that have given Karina Pedersen space have admitted that they haven’t done their work properly, and that they should have done fact-checking and not just trust her claims, even if they had been published in a book.

The publisher of her book, Gyldendal, on the other hand, claims that they haven’t done anything wrong in not fact-checking her book, as it is her impression of her childhood and later life, and not meant to be accurate. This is of course bullshit, as the book contains factual claims about other people, all of which have turned out to be lies. This is not acceptable in a non-fiction book. If Gyldendal thinks this is the case, it is clear that it is not possible to trust the content of any of their non-fiction books.

In other words, one should avoid non-fiction by Gyldendal if you want books that are actually verifiable non-fiction.

RTL apologizes for spreading revenge porn

I recently wrote a blogpost about the media helping spreading revenge porn. In that post I mentioned how the German TV channel RTL had spread revenge porn of Danish feminist Emma Holten in a program about her.

As I mentioned in the blogpost, Emma Holten was taking steps towards legal action against RTL, and now there are more news on the matter.

The magazine of the Danish journalist union brings the news that RTL has settled with Emma Holten (article in Danish). The settlement involves RTL apologizing, acknowledging that they had violated Emma Holten, and giving a sizable compensation.

According to the article, and to Emma Holten’s comments on facebook and instagram (both links in Danish), this is a very satisfactory result, since it saves the trouble of a court case in Germany, and it sends a clear signal that media can’t violate the privacy of people just because somebody already had done so.

Congratulations to Emma Holten on a good result – hopefully she never has to fight this fight ever again.