Thursday, January 28, 2010

The niqab dilemma

Following the discussion in France about a possible ban on niqab, the question is hovering on the fringes of the upcoming Swedish parliament election campaigns just gearing up. I can't help but think that this is mostly populism and some kind of attempt to counter the nationalist "Swedish Democratic" party, especially considering how few the niqab-wearing women in Sweden are. There are some dimensions to the discussion that I feel don't get enough attention in our increasingly soundbyte-ified media climate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Economic growth - not for all

We need to stop using (infinite) economic growth as the foundation of our society, both locally and globally. There's this myth that (infinite) economic growth will benefit everyone, that it will increase the living standard for all, make it possible for every single person on Planet Earth to enjoy such things as flat-screen TVs, jacuzzis, iPods, fancy vacations to exotic locations and the latest blockbuster in stunning 3D. It won't.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The ethical choice

A political strategy is often either considered the most economically efficient tool or the only possible alternative. Both are absurd ideas in their own ways - it is rarely true that something is the only alternative, and being the most economically efficient tool to get something done isn't necessarily the best tool. It is important to keep in mind that a political strategy is a tool or an alternative, but it is man-made and often (if not always) a matter of (more or less) deliberate choice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Operation: Mindfuck

Recently there's been some talk (at least here in Sweden) about Facebook groups that change their names once they've reached a lot of members (DN, AB). While this might seem like a perfect example of a "non-question" and it's easy to just laugh about, I think it is actually something worth thinking about. Making fun of someone at his or her expense is of course not a nice thing, and borders on bullying. And even though I suspect that is the major reason for these things, there is another point of view as well.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Balancing an ever-increasing economic growth

Yesterday I woke up with the question "how do we balance ever-increasing growth?" in my head. I thought this was interesting, especially since it was expressed verbally in English and English isn't my native language. Not too strange though, since these are thoughts that have been flying around in my head for quite some time. I'll figure I'll take the idea and run with it, see where it leads.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Power politics

My friend Oskar made me aware of an alternative nuclear fuel a couple of days ago. Apparently thorium is a good substitute for uranium - there's a lot of it (few people seem to consider the fact that uranium is finite, and that the cost of our nuclear plants will skyrocket once we hit "Peak Uranium"), it isn't as dangerous to mine, cheaper to process and doesn't produce iffy plutonium as a convenient by-product. Not bad really. But there's a question that's rarely addressed when discussing the use of fossil and other non-renewable, non-omnipresent fuels.

The Allah dilemma

An article in Swedish newspaper DN reports about the attacks on Christian churches. It is thought that these attacks are in part a response to a court ruling stating that Christians may use the word "Allah" for "God" as well, and the subsequent use of "Allah" in Catholic Malay newspaper The Herald. The article further talks about the recently growing tension between religious groups in the country, as well as the Malaysian government's efforts to keep these tensions low. The article is probably one of the more balanced ones on Islam that I've read in DN, but there's one important dimension that I feel is missing.

The dominator shift

I'm currently reading Riane Eisler's The Real Wealth of Nations, a highly recommended book building on her ideas of a dominator vs. a partnership view. In short, she identifies two views or orientations - dominator and partnership.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What's it all for?

I listened to a discussion on the radio today about the Swedish employment agency and it got me thinking (as I've done so many times before) about why we work. It might seem like a trivial question with an obvious answer - we work to earn money, in order to pay our bills, to buy the things we need and to generate taxes. Basically, you could say we work to make the cogs of society turn I guess.

The anguish of finalising

Finalising things, be it an academic paper, a piece of music, a blogpost or even a single sentence can be anguish. The preceding sentence is a case-in-point. It took me a while to even type it down. Thoughts and ideas are a process in constant flux, ever changing. What happens when we try to externalise them is that we give them shape and structure, we "set them in stone" and we deprive them of their ever changing nature. In a sense we kill them.

International Year of Biodiversity

2010 is declared "The International Year of Biodiversity" by the UN. Apart from the purely instrumental importance of biological diversity - we as humans need it to provide us with "food, fuel, medicine and other essentials" - biological diversity serves as the basic foundation of life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Industrial rock alive and kicking

2010 seems to become a good year for industrial rock (or American coldwave, if you will). Tim Skold is coming back, putting out a new album in his own name "early 2010", with two songs available on iTunes and Nokia Music Store (that I know of) - "A Dark Star" and "Bullets Ricochet" - both of them heavy industrial rockers, showing great promise for the new album (previews can be heard here, there's a preview of a third track, "I Will Not Forget" which apparently was featured on the TV show "FlashForward").

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Inaugurating the Apophenaeon

Apophenia, to see patterns and connections in random or meaningless data. An apt concept for this blog I think.

Seeing patterns and connections where others do not can, at best, open up new perspectives and shed new light on old problems. Riane Eisler, for instance, identifies two orientations or strands of thought that to a great extent has shaped the world we live in - that of the "dominator" and "partnership" society, with roots as far back as ancient Babylon and the myth of how Marduk slew Tiamat and fashioned out of her the world. Thus providing a myth of how we can tame nature by dominating her, teaching us that either we dominate or we're dominated.