The need for grey zones?

När man inte vill stå för sin egen politik SvD: "Om lagstiftaren ogillar resultatet av gällande lagstiftning, löser man inte det problemet genom att försöka göra det enklare att inrätta ett liv utanför lagen. Att förespråka linjer och lagar som går stick i stäv med varandra är ogenomtänkt"

What should Cecilia Malmström have done? I listened to a radio program yesterday called 'Konflikt' on 'Program 1'. I don't envy Malmström. They talked about the southern frontier of the EU where hundreds of thousand people come each year to apply for asylum and how this totally overloads the countries in question. Apparently they have started to discuss whether to change the Dublin rule of returning any foreigner that is found to the country they first arrived at. These prospective immigrants die like flies on boats nearing the shore of their promised land, victims of ruthless people smugglers.

With a more nationalistic approach there is still the question of perhaps not having a too black and white view on the matter. It all seems to depend on the numbers of people involved. The situation in Sweden seems to be extremely much more favorable than for example in Greece. It is important for the work of Malmström that Sweden set an example as a humanitarian nation so that a reasonable coordination of all the policies of the 27 EU countries can be performed.

I think the problem of giving people without papers the right to health care is easy when the numbers are down and the relative wealth of the nation is grand. They should of course have that right.


Ja till förbud mot att bygga minareter - DN.se: "Folkomröstningens utgång är pinsam för det neutrala Schweiz, där det politiska etablissemanget förkastat förslaget som stridande mot landets författning och manat invånarna att rösta emot det."

57% of the Swiss people (ie, of little over 50% turn out--about 25%) does not want to see minarets. Apparently they do not have anything against Muslims in general but they don't want to see them in power because they see the minaret as a symbol of power.

Well, Christians are persecuted in Iraq despite the protection of the US army. The Pope could not muster support for building churches in Saudi Arabia. If not for the above vote, I could have argued that in the West we don't live hundreds of years ago. We live today. Therefore we don't care if there are minarets on the mosques but we do care that Muslims follow Swiss law. Because, we do not mix the state and the church.

This becomes even more important when one considers that there are a lot of Catholics in Europe and that Catholics have some rules that for all practical purposes override common law, like the divorce question. There is of course the possibility of leaving the church but this is often a very difficult decision for the individual.

I actually wrote a post about this in May 2007 right after they had collected the 100,000 names for the referendum. I thought this was silly then. I still do. I sincerely hope that there is going to be an end to the expansion of foreigner aversion in Europe.

A Problem with Political Science

Spirituality, in my humble opinion, does not involve the concept of power. Therefore science and religion, with Religious Humanism now fused, represents spiritual domains.

Where does that leave the "science" of political science? Michael Walzer asks on BigThink.com whether the listener is going to interest himself in politics or political science.

This problem is similar to that of technology and basic science. There is weapon technology which is very power oriented. There is also political Islam.

Religious Humanism does not concern itself with power.

Spirituality--does it need a supernatural God?

Speaking of getting pointers. I have recently gotten emails from Svenska Evangeliska Alliansen--SEA. The latest has a title reading "Sortering av människor i ateismens kölvatten", or Sorting of people in the wake of atheism.

I do not need much imagination to understand that I might be considered worse than atheists with my religion Religious Humanism by SEA? The only way I can imagine that they can argue this is by saying this is by requiring that spirituality needs a supernatural God of the preferably Christian variety.

During the first year of my blog I went through various aspects of science and religion and I discussed this matter to some degree. I did not manage to combine a scientific stance with the traditional Christian stance. It is also related to the serious spiritual feeling I encounter in a church building, as house built by spiritual people. When I began blogging I considered myself a spiritual person that had never been an atheist--I still do.

I consider my God the same as that of the Abrahamitic religions. Nature is grand, unlimited, of eternal wisdom and knowledge it is love. It is easy today with our 500 years of scientific revolution to know that we will be able to find anything in Nature, should we just care to look carefully enough. The supernatural can, if you wish, be incorporated into a non-personal materialistic God concept. The prize is that no conflict remains with science. This is important when for example more than half of Americans believe literally in the Bible. Looking a few hundred years down the line, this might improve matters considerably.

Love, for example, or agape, is reasonable to describe as a natural phenomenon that fits easily into Religious Humanism. Scientifically I don't think it is completely elucidated yet. I spent some time on this topic as well.

I believe that spirituality is a state of mind when a person contemplates important matters. Matters that has to do with the future of mankind and similar ideas. Listening to music itself is not spiritual but it is often combined with a spiritual mindset and might enhance it.

I would not be surprised if I encounter people that don't think I should call myself religious but I don't think they are correct in their opinion.

If you consider yourself having the same view on God, please join the Facebook group Religious Humanism.

By the way, TTDE has been used many times in order to prevent me from being religious--in churches, before church visits etc. I don't know who these people are that break the law of religious freedom in this way but I have nothing to do with them personally.


Galileo Galilei

As I pointed out earlier in the post on Copernicus, Galileo (1564-1642) advocated Copernicus' worldview, the heliocentric model, and got imprisoned for it by the Vatican. Despite this Stephen Hawking has said that Galileo was perhaps the most important person for the development of modern science. Albert Einstein called him the "father of modern science". His work overlapped somewhat that of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).

Galileo was born in Pisa but moved aged 8 to Florence. He first went to school at the monastery Camaldolese at Vallombrosa. Seriously he considered priesthood but at his father's urging enrolled for medical studies at the University of Pisa. He studied mathematics instead and got a professorship at Pisa in 1589 at age 25. He did however not advance mathematics but is mostly known for his work in astronomy and physics. He was, however, probably the first person that used mathematics for describing physical events and thus predated Newton on this issue.

In 1592 he moved to the University of Padua teaching geometry, mechanics and astronomy until 1610 when he published the first scientific work performed with a telescope The Starry Messenger. In 1590 he had discovered Copernicus publication from 1543 De Revulotionibus Orbium Coelestium.

Although a pious Roman Catholic Galileo fathered three children out of wedlock with Marina Gamba and since marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic Church this proved that he was more a man of faith than a dogmatic.

Galileo made his career in astronomy with the tool of a 30X telescope which he built himself from the description of the first practical telescope invented in Holland 1608 by Hans Lippershey. He obtained information that expanded the knowledge greatly of astronomy at the time and which confirmed the heliocentric theory.

Retrospectively Galileo got beaten by Kepler on the theory of the tides. He called Kepler's idea that they are caused by the moon for "useless fiction", an idea which of course was very clever since it contains a feel for gravitation. He also did not believe in Kepler's correct elliptical orbits either but instead argued for the classical perfect circle.

In physics Galileo developed the concept of inertia, mathematically described it, and introduced the idea of frictional force. His work later went into Newton's first law.

The Galileo affair with the Catholic Church has just recently ended when the Vatican in 2008 decided to erect a statue of him inside the Vatican walls.

Priorities of the Red-Greens?

Sahlin öppnar för styre med C och FP - DN.se: "Mona Sahlin ställer nu ultimatum och kräver att det ska bildas en majoritetsregering efter valet om Sverigedemokraterna kommer in i riksdagen och får en vågmästarställning. 'Det skulle bli politiskt kaos med en minoritetsregering', säger Sahlin till DN."

Mona Sahlin seems to want to defy history since (S) has been ruling in minority governments for long periods.

It seems to me that what Mona Sahlin is saying is that she prefers the "icke-jämlika", or non-equal, liberals before the "främlingsfientliga", or the foreigner averse, (SD) line. This means that they are less socialistic than yesterday and thus fits less with the (V) which they, like PJ Anders Linder suggested would "drop like a hot potato".

Is this not a very important ideological shift by Mona Sahlin and as such it should be welcomed not spurned? (FP) is on top of this supposed to have taken a step to the right of (M). Sahlin might though be more afraid of the grand personal popularity of Reinfeldt, which might cloud her ideological self?

On the other hand, Sahlin might assume that (FP) and (C) should lose their souls and become strictly "jämlika", like perhaps (MP) has become, in a (S), (FP), (C) and (MP) alliance. After the recent discussions about the flirtation of Maria Wetterstrand with the social liberals a governing system with Wetterstrand as Statsminister and with only (S), (FP), (C) and (MP) might be a real alternative that easily would get a majority.

Perhaps Sahlin has changed the game to a fight between two majority governments: Liberals, Greens and either (M) or (S) where (KD) and (V) would be the losers? The likelihood for this might be higher with a positive outcome of the COP15 meeting. Environmental issues become all the rage and Sweden would project itself as a world leader on climate change lore--as it seems to aspire to? This might very well happen if the left odorous China takes the initiative over the US as indicated by the latest debate in The Economist.

Personally I would prefer the "Alliansen" to get a majority. Andreas Carlgren has done a great job as environmental minister, now recently by taking responsibility for the poisonous story of Boliden, he then projects the climate change lore. It does not seem to work for either (C) or (KD) to attract green voters, however. Right now in Sweden they seem to gravitate to the popular Maria Wetterstrand.


The Evolution of God?

Op-Ed Columnist - The Religious Wars - NYTimes.com: "This year is different, with a crop of books that are less combative and more thoughtful. One of these is “The Evolution of God,” by Robert Wright, who explores how religions have changed — improved — over the millennia. He notes that God, as perceived by humans, has mellowed from the capricious warlord sometimes depicted in the Old Testament who periodically orders genocides."

As I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, I conclude, not so surprisingly, that others also concern themselves with the possible improvement of God. This sounds strange, but I am of course talking about our conception of God. As we celebrate the 150 year anniversary of Darwin's The Origin of Species I guess calling it "the evolution of God" is alright.

As I have discussed elsewhere, I argue for a change to a non-personal God concept for the reason that the earlier versions of God change as our knowledge of social psychology improves. I want to leave the dualism of Descartes behind and bring God with me into the materialistic realm. This solves the debate of faith versus science. Science is the way we search for God or Nature.

Using a non-personal God, however, leaves the problem of the way most people interact with God in for example prayer. Social media is of course a development that takes care of some of the need we have to relate to others and health care and social services takes care of the needs the church has traditionally performed and which have been cornerstones of the rituals. The Japanese are forefront in developing robots that will serve as companions of the same demand free nature. They are aided in this by their native Shinto faith. It is of course possible to pray before a non-personal God.

Another function that probably is undergoing a change is that of the priest. Such functionaries will have to become proficient in psychology and the priests in the religion I have named for my God concept, Religious Humanism, will have to derive from this scientific field. I call it a humanism because it would need relevant moral and ethical principles once originated in the Abrahamitic religions.

My God concept is not new. People like Baruch Spinoza, Aguste Compte and Einstein have also viewed God as Nature. Compte even tried to launch a religion but made the mistake of setting up a hierarchic Church. Setting up a church today would of course mean that optimal democratic means were utilized. Living rules and creed would best be limited to that of the law of the state in which a member is living.

In honor of Judaism, the originators of monotheism, which I regard as the prerequisite for evolving into a non-personal God concept I am utilizing the concept of sabbath. I celebrate Friday evening contemplating scientific issues reminding myself of why we are here today. This is why I think Religious Humanism will have a future. It will in essence write a new scripture with more meaningful content. Society is now based on new types of victories on another type of battlefield than that of the Old Testament tribal fights.

I enjoy communicating this information now and then because it stimulates people to give me pointers for which I am grateful. Yes, there will be a book published eventually.


I don't have much reason to trust people, but I should apparently?

När vi litar på andra mår vi bra - DN.se: "Svenskarna litar ovanligt mycket på varand­ra, internationellt sett. ”I länder där var och en kan räkna med hjälp av samhället i svåra situationer känner invånarna större tillit – och de mår bättre och lever längre”, säger sociologen och forskaren Mikael Rostila."

If I understand the results of Rostila's dissertation, he has measured interpersonal trust across Europe and finds a gradient of lower and lower interpersonal trust as you go from north to south. He talks about correlations to this trust but many seem far fetched due to the multivariable type phenomena.

What I find interesting, however, is that it seems like the relation to the state would result in better interpersonal trust among people than would situation where the relation for security is the Church or family relatives. He seems to conclude that everything is going to be performed via the state for people to feel good. Very Alvaesque.

Conservatives must turn in their hypothetical graves when they hear such things. So would liberals. Now, can this really be true? We have seen the socialists becoming more unpopular around Europe lately? Could the explanation instead be that where family ties are not so strong people have to trust others?

Military or Economy?

Dick Erixon — I hjärtat rebell: "Västledare måste ta världen som den är. Och agera på ett sätt som skapar respekt, ja, varför inte lite rädsla hos diktatorerna om att de kommer att bombas imorgon."

The problem with this idea is that what seems to impress the dictators is China's economical marvel and not America's military machine. The Iraq war and now the Afghanistan situation have demonstrated that the $500bn a year juggernaut does not really deliver. What people around the globe see is that you can make money without the trouble of democracy.

Speaking about which, if Obama now chooses to go against his people and his party and scale up the Afghanistan debacle it will become clear that he is not really in charge and democracy will get a beating far surpassing whatever fright he might install in the otherwise pitiful Talibans.

As I see it right now, our Nobel Peace Prize winner have one good chance right now and that is following the gut feeling of his people.

The top priority--Jobs

”Jobb är viktigare än lön för nio av tio ungdomar” - DN.se: "Om de unga ska få in en fot på arbetsmarknaden krävs, förutom jobbskatteavdrag, sänkta arbetsgivaravgifter, lärlingsutbildningar med mera, flexiblare arbetsrätt och så kallade avstampsjobb med lägre ingångslöner."

Anders Borg once said that economically Sweden was similar to the Netherlands. This is good news because the unemployment in the Netherlands is lower than 3%. The lowest rate in EU-27. However, Sweden now has one of the highest unemployments for young people in the EU.

The report A European Paradise from 'Svenskt Näringsliv' delineates the reforms taken in the Netherlands that might have helped them along. A point might be that they did the reforms ten years ago and we are just thinking about doing things. Making changes soon might still take ten years to give results? Some of the changes in Maud Olofsson's list are not in the list of the Netherlands?

On page 34 in the report one finds the following from an article of 2005:

"From the mid-nineties, a series of labor market reforms have been carried out in the Netherlands. Below are some examples.

Lower overall taxes on labor since the end of the nineties.

A labor tax deduction was introduced in 2001 and later expanded in 2003 and 2004.

Payroll taxes were significantly reduced in 1998.

In 1998, the rules governing employee termination were terminated.

The possibilities of renewing temporary employment contracts were expanded in 1999.

The maximum time for which employees could receive benefits was shortened in 2004.

In 2002, competition between job agencies was introduced, where the agencies received funding in accordance with the extent to which their clients received employment."

In Sweden the outsideship makes the move to the job market to large for many individuals. What we might need is a gradient of job opportunities to replace the large step. It seems to me that the reforms of the Netherlands would provide such a gradient making each job closer to reach for each individual?

The problem with unemployment is of course worse now due to circumstances beyond our control but it was larger than that of the Netherlands also before the financial crisis. It would be interesting to know why Sweden now take other measures than the Netherlands to reach their goal? There seems to be a social democratic phantom influencing decisions. 'Moderaternas' congress, for example, did not dare to do changes in employment law for the risk of losing the election. Is it not the job of 'Alliansen' to explain that changes are perhaps necessary but the results can not be expected before the election.


The word "jämlikhet" is not used as the Social Democrats do by (MP) politics file on their web site?

There has been a lot of writing on the flirtation by Maria Wetterstrand to social liberals on Newsmill. This discussion on Newsmill was better than the politics file of (MP) on their web site to explain their relative position. I then browsed the politics file on their web site and found no occurrences of the word "jämlikhet" as used by the social democrats. That would be "equality". If this is true, I can understand the flirtation because I found out that "jämlikhet" is a key word in the distinction between Alliansen and the Red-Greens. Jan Björklund, for example recently pointed out on the "Landsmöte" of (FP) that it is necessary to accept different effective salary levels.

Johan Norberg speculated about the possibility for Alliansen to balance out (SD) with (MP) in the next election which might not really be possible.

What is perhaps most interesting with this find, if relevant, is that it might not be possible for (MP) to function in the Red-Green alliance because of this ideological deficit. A socialist marker. Magnus Andersson, however, brings up factors that are against societal development that then solidly places (MP) aside of Alliansen and (S) + (V) as pointed out by Birger Schlaug. However, Fredrick Federley thinks (MP) is socialistic in other ways.

More on the debate social liberal/environmentalism Marteus, Expressen


The American Presidency III?

America's broken politics Jeffrey Sachs Comment is free guardian.co.uk: "It is hard for international observers of the United States to grasp the political paralysis that grips the country, and that seriously threatens America's ability to solve its domestic problems and contribute to international problem-solving. America's governance crisis is the worst in modern history. Moreover, it is likely to worsen in the years ahead."

Sachs is a little gloomy on the status of America and I can't help compare with Sweden now when the differences in health care in various "Landsting" is noted as well as differences in various communes in education. So it turns out that when people local chose to act for themselves human variability is showing up. Is this bad? I don't think so. However to force everyone into compliance is non-biological and therefore non-optimal. In the US there is a also a lot of variation between different areas. Sachs says the US is polarised on various variables. Is it possible to talk about too much variability within a country and what could be done about this in that case?

The American press is complaining a lot on Barack Obama these days although not as much as on George W. Bush, yet. At the end of the Bush term I predicted that they will soon start yelling at Obama as well. I hope I'm wrong but Sachs seems to lean in this direction. People want him to lead but the issues are more or less stuck all around him.

Sachs have some interesting data on the polarity surrounding the AfPak issue. 60% of democrats want troop reductions whereas only 26% of republicans. I guess this could be interpreted in the direction that about half the population want to see the problem disappear. Sachs ends with concluding that the US could use the $150bn they spend on Iraq and AfPak a year for other purposes, like paying of the debt over 10 years. Carl Bildt said yesterday that we are in AfPak for the stability but Sachs claims that we cause instability by being there. The information I have seen makes me agree with Sachs on that one.

If Sach's rather pessimistic view on the situation is correct, it might mean that some introspection from the point of view of Europe is in order. Relying on an American umbrella without giving much in return would be considered foolish. The $3.7tn trade over the Atlantic is good but when it comes to security arrangements a fresh look on the problem might be preferable. Without making national foreign offices smaller, the EU is now adding 6000 persons, about 30 people per country on average, to a department of foreign affairs under Lady Catherine Ashton. I hope we will see some value coming out from this initiative. I believe we will see this happen.

The technocrats are winning out so far in Europe. On the other hand the difference is not that large with the US. They have one person elected, the president. If he becomes lame duckized, as is hinted at in Sachs article, the technocrats rule in the US as well.

(FP)'s "landsmöte"

Per Altenberg – ett liberalare Sverige » Blog Archive » Fp tar ett steg till höger: "De flesta besluten på landsmötet som betecknas som höger, t.ex. moderniseringen av LAS, är dock i själva verket ett tecken på att Folkpartiet frigör sig från den socialdemokratiska världsbilden. Det är en bra utveckling."

There was one of Björklund's reforms that seem to be a step in the direction of the Social Democrats namely the job loss protection insurance. In Jan Björklund's speech there was no information as to the level of support that a person would receive. Helle Klein is hitting real hard because of the reforms taken by Alliansen on the loss of "A-kassa" coverage that is happening right now. Klein is bordering rude when she complains on this matter. I guess this is tactics to prevent loss of social liberals to (FP) from the social democrats.

The question is on what level it is economically reasonable to keep people after they lose a job or get sick. It is perhaps more stimulating for the reemployment to have lower compensation levels than that of the A-kassa. People will muster a higher degree of motivation to return to the job market? After all the system seems to be in trouble since we have the highest taxes in the world and still have to lower tax for creating jobs. Is it possible to lower taxes by saving on the job loss reimbursements? In this case it might help in creating more jobs and thus lower the time in orbit.

Lowering job loss reimbursements would also cause a blending of the people in the outsideship. It would not only contain the most desolute. This might have stimulating effects one job creation as well. There might also be less problems with violence in suburbs.

Birger Schlaug writes about our society as driving on the freeway in either the right or the left lane with the green so called "utvecklingssamhälle" in the bushes beside the road. There might be people that prefer using the machete to clear their way in the bush but I prefer my car on the freeway. A new outsideship according to the above might suffice for such a detour and they would not need so much money.

However, such a life will not lead to the goals provided by the life on the freeway. Most people would in all probability not fit into Schlaug's new way but would rather work than having free time, digest culture and spending time with their families which is all fine at a reasonable dose.


Religious Humanism

Just wanted to remind people that might want to take a spiritual moment with an important tale from our development in history since 1543 that under the "etikett" scriptures you will find posts with a narrative of a key stone discovery.

So far there are four events: 1) the heliocentric theory by Copernicus, 1543; 2) laws of mechanics by Newton, 1687; 3) systemic blood circulation by Harvey, 1628; and 4) the gene by Mendel, 1865.


Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), an ethnic German, was born in Austrian Silesia, Austrian Empire, nowadays Hyncice, Czech Republic. Johann Mendel, he took the name Gregor when entering the monastery, worked as a gardener and cultivated bees before entering the Philosophical Institute of Olomouc between 1840-43. His physics teacher recommended him to the Augustinian Abbey of Saint Thomas in Brno 1843 (Catholic). 1851 he went to the University of Vienna to study and returned to the monastery 1853 as a teacher mainly in physics.

He was encouraged by his university teachers and by colleagues at the monastery to study the variation of plants. Between 1856 to 1863 Mendel used some 29,000 pea plants in the monastery garden and deduced The Law of Segregation, i.e., the dominant and recessive distribution of 3:1 and The Law of Independent Assortment, i.e., traits vary independently of each other. He published these results in 1865.

Charles Darwin published his book Origin of Species 1859 and is said to have received a book of the 40 Mendel had printed, although another source claimed he did not know of the data. It is fascinating how the study of a natural phenomenon can lead to the discovery of a natural law. Genes had been found although they were not yet called as such. At the time most biologists held the belief of blending inheritance and Charles Darwin's attempt to explain inheritance with the theory of pangenesis was unsuccessful.

At the time Mendel did not get any response from his work from other scientists. He became abbot in 1868 and became an administrator. It was not until 1900 when his work was independently rediscovered by three scientists, Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich von Tschermak, that the field finally developed. Around 1936-47 evolution fused with genetics called the 'modern synthesis'.

Data from Wikipedia and New World Encyclopedia

The EU?

I have been reading up a little on the new EU president Herman van Rompuy and the High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton. People say they are unknown but that does not mean they where regionally unknown. They both seem much accomplished and reasonable people. It is good that one was British because that will make the Brits more interested in the EU. Mending the apart UK? And as Charlemagne points out in his blog today, there are only two and a half countries in the EU that really have a capacity to project power abroad, and the UK is one of them.

So, on December 1st the EU is taking another step forward. For me it is an important step. I might even celebrate a little. We are not so many years out of chaos and all these cultures. This is good achievement! The job descriptions for the two positions are apparently not that detailed and it is going to be interesting to see how they are received around the world. Something that will determine how the whole thing turns out. People complain about the legitimacy question but it is as good as it gets right now.

So what does it mean that the EU is going to have a Labour face. Well, what I learned from this charts at the EU parliament election is that they are placed approximately as the Swedish moderates. Politically then, since van Rompuy is a Christian Democrat, we are talking about a center-right approach. A guy from Brussels and a gal from London.

Excuse me for this little passus but I'm trying to get a feel for how Sweden is going to be represented in the world on global issues like Afghanistan, Russia and the Middle East. Personally, I am, like about 50% of the American public, against the Afghan mission but I think Sweden is going to play along with the European effort as long as it is on. Others, like the authors of the report yesterday, would argue that NATO is not really that important any longer and that the EU should act more independently. This has been argued earlier by for example Ove Bring, Professor in International Law, Sweden.

The EU?

English as second language in the EU is still important?

Övertro på engelskans betydelse Brännpunkt SvD: "Ingen forskning har hittills kunnat belägga att elever lär sig engelska bättre, om de lär sig språket redan i årskurs ett istället för i årskurs tre eller fyra. Istället är ungdomarnas eget intresse och graden av användning av engelska på fritiden avgörande för deras kunskaper i språket – se Liss Kerstin Sylvéns avhandling från 2004"

I have earlier supported the idea that it might be good to start English studies already in first grade. However, several dignitaries now discuss the importance of English as such and the dynamics of learning a second language and conclude that there might not be any benefit from doing this from first grade.

I'm surprised that these gentlemen do not discuss the role of a common second language in the EU. Is this not important? Will there soon be inexpensive language translators available that people can use for communication? Such devices would question the need for learning other languages all together. I know that in science and technology it is very important with knowledge English since this is the language of publication and actual discussion. This cannot be called inflated belief.

When I grew up there was a simple logic on the importance of English culture. It represented the savior from nazism and communism. However, the flirtation of the US with the dictatorial China has recently begun to erode this confidence. The above cited article could perhaps be judged in such a light.


A New Transatlantic Relationship?

I have read a report from the ECFR called Towards a Post-American Europe: A power audit of US-EU relations by Jeremy Shapiro and Nick Witney. I'm getting the feeling that it might be impossible to work without a solely European perspective as can be seen from the following citation:

"Americans, meanwhile, find European pretensions to play Athens to their Rome both patronizing and frustrating. After all, they don't want lectures from Europeans; they want practical help. In fact, Americans often see these attitudes and behaviors as evidence that Europe is a played out continent in irreversible decline. A more hopeful view is that Europe is still in the early stages of a bold attempt to reinvent itself as a new, young, and unique collective power."

The report does point strongly for an assertion of the EU versus the US which I recently concluded. It does feature information that makes it clear that the US from an European perspective is a hard negotiator. In principle the EU have to get back in the business in science and technology, efforts that are underway as seen in earlier reports. The authors claim that the EU have to act independently on Afghanistan, Russia and the Middle East.

Is the Green stuff an ideology?

There is a lot being written about the possibility of fusing the Green party with liberal dittos and the question was asked whether this is possible or not.

My question is whether or not the Green initiative really is an ideology or if it is just common sense engineering for not dirtying the environment. Tighten up your house. Don't do unnecessary trips with your car.

A such all parties are green and the Greens are doomed to a rather low percentage fraction of the votership. Other parties, though, seem to be more reasonable as to the tempo of the engineering and thus costs.

Another thought is that some people in a secular society might start treating environmentalism as a religion of sorts rather than a political movement. Especially so, perhaps, when the Churches are moving in with the argument that God said we should take care of our creation.

Since I myself worship Nature as God in Religious Humanism, I would take the opportunity to clarify that this religion does not have anything to do with Japanese Shintoism where objects in Nature have a soul. My God concept is non-personal.

Interestingly, Japanese are very fond of robots, contrary to Christians, and it is believed that this has to do with Shintoism.

Hu apparently preferred a tête-à-tête

Anderson Cooper 360: Blog Archive - Obama in China: A wake-up call! « - Blogs from CNN.com: "reports from correspondents on the scene are replete with statements that Hu stiffed the President, that he rejected arguments about Chinese human rights and currency behavior while scolding the U.S. for its trade policies, and that he stage-managed the visit so that Obama – unlike Clinton and Bush before him – was unable to reach a large Chinese audience through television."

David Gergen, who wrote this is a very serious correspondent.


Kissinger's 'one phone number' for Europe?

EUobserver / New treaty will not create 'one phone number' for Europe: "Summing up the one-number issue, Antonio Missiroli from the European Policy Centre wondered if the image of a 'Brussels-based switchboard' was not more appropriate to describe the new institutional set-up once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force."

Tomorrow there is going to be a dinner for the selection of the top two functionaries of the EU and the discussion continues as to whether we are dealing with the EU or with the member states. The Swedish EU commissioner elect, Cecilia Malmström, said that EU will continue to be important for issues that span the nations such as climate change, jobs-internal market, crime and peace. Malmström is apparently a federalistic European. I also consider myself a federalist, as long as these continue to exist.

Another continuous discussion is whether there is going to be more or less democracy in the EU as we now move into the era of the Lisbon Treaty? I would like to reiterate a post I made one and a half year ago after an interview of Vaclav Havel that was made in the Financial Times.

"We turn to Europe. Havel, a passionate pro-European, is keen that the European Union's constitutional Treaty should be kept alive despite its rejection in the recent Irish referendum. He is convinced the EU will muddle through, ignoring President Klaus' misgivings, says the Czech Republic should press on with ratification. Only then, he believes, should the EU consider a simpler Treaty: "It would be best now to select some three or four people who could create a beautiful, simple constitution that children could learn about at school."

So, Havel has a generational perspective on the EU and was right on the success of the Lisbon Treaty. This is music to my ears and now when the US-ASEAN summit has defined a rather distant realm, perhaps it will usher in a new climate of cooperation in Europe. Then later it might be time to even elect a president of the EU and finally get that phone number.

The Blame Game

Tärande politik - DN.se: "Skulle Maud Olofsson ha haft större förtroende för en vd som nöjt sig med vattenkraft, och på sin höjd subventionerat lite fler vindsnurror? Med en sådan ledning för Vattenfall hade svenska folket varit många hundra miljarder fattigare. Vi hade fått betala ett högre elpris och saknat möjligheter att på allvar påverka Europas klimatpolitik."

Niklas Ekdal have the kindness of delivering facts but is in the process too negative regarding the government role. After all most acquisitions to Vattenfall AB were done prior to the Alliansen government. Economics minister Thomas Östros was reprimanded for example by KU for failing to properly steer Vattenfall AB in May 2005.

However, the above citation brings up the question of the cost of protection from the climate change problem. Ekdal points out that USA, China, Japan and Germany all are heavy users of fossil fuels and they are currently the top economical performers. I have noted that both Germany and Japan have recently begun a climate friendly approach that perhaps have as a by product a competition promoting element vis-à-vis their larger competitors.

Having concluded this it is easy to see why ownership of a energy company today becomes a liability for the government and why Jan Björklund and Fredrick Federley started talking about a sale. It is also evident from the the bouquet of blogs from the opposition preying on this issue. The state should not own companies is an other conclusion. Systembolaget and tobacco companies are other funny examples where the companies make negative commercials on their products. They produce something that is bad for you but that people like to use. The web site of Vattenfall AB gives the customer an opportunity of selecting electricity from for example only hydroelectric power for no extra charge.

In retrospect it may be possible to say that having diagnosed the problem earlier people from Alliansen should have prepared for a sale of Vattenfall AB earlier on. They could have guessed that they would be reprimanded in the same fashion as the Social Democrats and that they would be attacked during the end of the EU chairmanship for optimal deletary effect and just in time for the election process to begin. On the top of this, the potential flop of the Copenhagen meeting will then make the government look idling. The problem is of course that selling of the problem might give an air of irresponsibility that the opposition can capitalize on instead.


Vattenfall AB?

Björklund vill sälja delar av Vattenfall - DN.se: "– De senaste turerna visar att det inte längre är speciellt lätt att motivera att staten ska äga ett bolag som är en internationell aktör. Det kan vara väldigt mycket problem med det, säger Oscarsson och pekar bland annat på hur svårt både den sittande och tidigare regeringar haft att styra det kraftigt växande företaget"

This affair interest me because of the conflict of government/environmentalists and concerns for the delivery of energy to customers. Politically the ratio of renewables to fossil/nuclear is up in the air until the 2010 election for Sweden as such. However, sovereign wealth funds are investing all over the place currently. Seemingly without problems.

Otherwise this sounds like a good idea. It must be very difficult to run a company if there is constant discord between the owners and the CEO. Be that unrealistic environmental demands or other matters. The insurance for accident aspect is apparently a quite normal affair in this business and it is therefore strange that the press has been trying to make that an issue.

There has been an endless stream of articles to read on this affair that I must admit I still don't understand properly. To start with there was apparently a problem with selling the Swedish grid which was 10% of the total but the largest one of 170 actors on the market. Why would this be a problem if the company had decided on this? Björklund speak of selling parts of the company. Are we then back to selling the grid?

Per Altenberg calls Vattenfall AB "Svenska Gazprom". Monica Saarinen on Studio Ett informed that Vattenfall AB emits twice as much CO2 as does Sweden itself. Apparently they for example produce 23% of the electricity in Germany. GreenPeace would say "close the damn thing". My question would be if Sweden can afford closing down companies because of environmental concerns says Hans Bergström in DN today. Vattenfall AB is getting a stain from the international ownership due to the leadership role in environmental issues of Sweden. Maud Olofsson is, however, just one of many Economics ministers that have been letting Vattenfall AB grow. Presently, of course, the row then soils the government to the favor of the opposition.

There is an article in DN today which presents Öystein Löseth, the new CEO of Vattenfall. Between 2009 and 2013 they are going to invest 6% in nuclear power, 12% renewables, 37% fossiles and 33% not yet decided. Will that be nuclear or renewables if not fossils? They are set to expand in France, Czech Republic, Schweiz and Austria.

DN claims that there is a decision taken in the Swedish Riksdag that Vattenfall AB is going to produce 10 terawatt hours renewables by 2016. The problem is that does not tell me much without a breakdown of what they actually produce today. They are also supposed to promote the transfer to renewables. The press have tried to claim that they have not done this properly as of yet. The new CEO likes nuclear power but it is unfortunately not renewable.

If this debacle continues it might be possible to understand why it causes such a fray when so little can be understood about the issue. The press serves a new fact per day approximately. Today, for example, we find out that our company hires a CEO that is a friend of nuclear power when it was not popular a few days ago that Vattenfall AB would invest in this type of energy.


JohanNorberg.Net#3386: "Men inget av dessa mål nås av denna energihandel. Gazprom är inte ett vanligt ryskt bolag. Det är ett statsmonopol sammanvuxet med Kreml och befolkat med gamla KGB-män. Putin monterade ned embryot till ett oberoende rättssystem för att skapa dess olje- och gasmonopol."

That is probably perfectly true but if I have understood this correctly it is the wish of Germany that this gas duct is installed. With that point of view it is clear that Germany probably knows what they are doing and that they in principle now is in charge of area security in the east. The Americans seemingly lost interest. This seems perfectly clear from between the lines of recent diplomatic activity, i.e., what the public have been able to see.

I also think there is a point in thinking of Russia as a European country. The selection of an economically oriented foreign minister in Germany probably highlight the business orientation of the relationship between Russia and Germany.


Why is Centerpartiet bleeding?

”Opinionssiffrorna en tydlig signal från väljarna” Politik Debattämnen Debatt Aftonbladet: "Jag brukar sällan kommentera opinionssiffror. De kan snabbt ändra sig till något helt annat. Men ett stadigvarande tapp i opinionen för centerpartiet är tydligt. Ett parti får de opinionssiffror det förtjänar och den sista tidens siffror är en klar signal från väljarna om en besvikelse över att vi inte längre levererar framtidsdrömmar och liberala reformer som ifrågasätter rådande system."

Fredrik Federley wonders why his party is losing ground. He thinks liberal dreams fuel interest in Centerpartiet. I wonder if this is true? The popular Maria Wetterstrand in the Green party is potentially recruiting center party members that do not like the nuclear power issue. Perhaps this is why Maud Olofsson, less popular than Wetterstrand, tries to be nasty to Vattenfall AB that dares to have a wish on making some money building nuclear power stations in the UK? The greens have indeed gained popularity lately.

Magnus Andersson, the CUF leader writes on his blog in an approximately similar fashion. He says, for example, "you form politics from the need of the people rather than for the need of the political apparatus". However, is the problem not that natural force that by necessity makes small parties smaller in a coalition with a greater party? People tend to vote with the power.

PJ Anders Linder has again brought up the idea of forming an election alliance. But this is of course tactics rather than politics. I have been told that Reinfeldt's popularity is not necessarily going to help in the election because Swedes vote on the party. Is that on ideology? In pragmatism you do what works. "Regeringsduglighet"! The problem with that ideology might be that there is no driver in the system. Today it should be possible to find out whether people like the situation they are in. It should be possible to run experiments where you find out what politics people prefer without people even knowing about it. Maybe the Chinese are doing that currently? They have apparently made a replica of Sigtuna.

That's true. It is different to ask a person their opinion and asking their body of its opinion. Andersson and Federley both think their party would benefit size wise if they verbalize a clear policy and criticize the government. I wish them luck because I will vote for freedom. For the living human being.

Guido Westerwelle--German Foreign Minister

German foreign minister calls for Afghan withdrawal plan .:. newkerala.com Online News -151248: "Speaking on ZDF television
, he said, 'In the life of this parliament, we have to get sufficiently far with the concept of self-sustained security that a perspective for withdrawal comes into view.'"

I read an interview by Der Spiegel with Westerwelle where they claimed he was more into economics than foreign policy. Perhaps this is typical for the foreign ministers of today? The national policy is performed with the Chancellor function as with the US and Obama right now. The interview was 2/3 on economy and 1/6 on his homosexuality. The interviewers expected trouble with for example Iran where they dislike homosexuals intensely.

Westerwelle said he was content with the good relationship with France but wanted to work on the Polish. He said that it was important with good relations with neighbours. He did not mention the UK but quoted Churchill at one point "if two people share opinions on all questions, one of them is unnecessary". I guess he intends to have his own opinion relative the Chancellor.

I'm glad Germany has a finite perspective on Afghanistan. As I read the press currently, however, it might turn out to be very difficult to beef up security sufficiently for a withdrawal soon without complications. It seems it is going to be the least bad alternative of two possible: staying or leaving.

Optimism for the Future?

Var är protesterna och fackeltågen? Helle Klein Ledarkrönika Ledare Aftonbladet: "Pessimismen eller snarare uppgivenheten är inte bara Cusacks. Vår tid präglas mer av undergångsstämningar än av hoppet om att världen faktiskt går att förändra."

I don't know where Klein has gotten the idea that we live out a pessimism for the world? Is it the doomsday prophet like predictions that the climate change mafia paint for us? Remember, the world has never been in such a good shape before as it is in today. Never been so peaceful. I do not understand either why protesting would do any good. Media is actually responsible for some of the gloom.

One problem though that I believe is serious is that science, the potential savior of mankind, is currently taking a beating from the use of doomsday prediction. There are voices of caution, however, Ingemar Nordin, Professor of History of Science in Linköping, is critical of the approach of the IPCC. He brings up the fact that temperature has been down globally for a while, something the IPCC brush away as a temporary fluke. If you try to use science for answering questions currently beyond its reach, you dirty down its name. This would have implications for world hope.

Another problem that currently is important is the impatience seen in the climate change debate. This might also lead to a backlash when it become apparent to people how much India and China actually will pollute to continue their development. Environmentalists are trying to give people the idea that we have to stop polluting altogether to save the planet. If this would be true, we would be in dire straits. People feel this incoherence and that causes pain.

"Change" appeared to be the key word for people all over the world. What is not clear, at least to me, is what kind of change people wish for. I think people in Sweden, for example, realise how extremely well off they in reality are and therefore take the increased unemployment with a grain of salt. On the other hand. Some people in fact are out with the torches. However, they torch cars and schools. The outsideship debate is important because it will be necessary to ask the question if it is possible at all to remove it or if we have to learn to live with it and activate people in another meaningful fashion than with jobs. Global competition will leave many people outside. 100% employment is no longer possible.


Obama--America's first non-transatlantic president?

'America's first Pacific president' - Mike Allen - POLITICO.com: "Trying to reassure allies and rivals, President Barack Obama billed himself Saturday as 'America’s first Pacific president,' promising the nations of Asia 'a new era of engagement with the world based on mutual interests and mutual respect.'"

So, it is finally said. President Obama, born in Hawaii, is the first President that is going to put focus on Asia. We have seen it already. He did not surface at the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin wall. While the US makes money in China, Indonesia and India, the EU have to fight in the stone desert narco state they call AfPak. Almost in Asia as well.

It might just be more historic than most EU citizens may think. I can't help remembering the dismal report that was published by the EU Observer the other month about the fate of EU. There was for example the possibility that an occasional eastern state might become ruled by organized crime. Romania is currently looking in the danger zone. That's correct. All the top guys in the US are now on the Asia portfolio. The talk about the special relationship between the UK and the US shrivelled. This is indeed change.

Actually I don't believe in this new romance. I have said it before. Europe and the US belong together. Japan, China and India each are something very different. However, at the same time as America goes Pacific Europe is fragmenting in the parts delineated during the 18th century in philosophy. The Germans just played along until they were unified. Now they are on their own again. So is France. So is the UK.

The question is if Obama is getting the same response from Asia as he got from the Muslim world? I read somewhere that he wanted to lead. He will probably get the same response as he got from Germany on that one. If I have understood this correctly, no one wants to be led by the US.

I saw this coming but I'm still disappointed. I hoped for a transatlantic focus on essentials. We could have taken it to the next level.


Maybe we have to do it in this way in Europe?

John Rawls, Theorist on Justice, Is Dead at 82 - The New York Times: "In later works, Dr. Rawls expanded his arguments to suggest how a pluralistic society can be just to all its members. His idea was that the public could reason things out, provided comprehensive religious or philosophical doctrines are avoided."

There is currently a discussion in Sweden concerning immigration and integration. Some people argue for absolute integration so that pluripotentiality is not created. Some like myself argue that this is not even theoretically possible and that we in Europe already have a distinct pluripotential society with for example all four major monotheistic religions. Rawls is interesting because he is a left leaning person that is markedly individualistic. His ideas should work also in Europe. Otherwise this is of course American pragmatism.

According to the SOM Institute in Sweden 'Justice' as a variable is claimed as 'very important' by 80% even if the trend is that the variable is slowly falling. This justice if of course the justice of the majority and that means that it might be difficult to work out the new justice that is needed to accommodate all kinds of new people with the old. There is also a need for this new justice in trying to accommodate business ventures in countries like Russia and China.

Perhaps this kind of theory could also temper the present environmental hysteria that right now seems to bring down a company on its knees. Vattenfall AB can not do this, nor that, seemingly only renewables that unfortunately are not there yet. It is time for environmentalists to be reasonable since they have enriched the pluripotentiality significantly in Sweden recently.

Rawls' ideas might also be a solution for the least fortunate that currently burn car and schools in society. According to his scheme the lower echelons of society would be better off. I am not arguing for total control of redistribution in society by the state but I can't see why his idea can't be used in a welfare state. Social liberalism as presented is perhaps currently not reasonable enough? Few today talk about justice.


William Harvey

William Harvey (1578-1657) studied at the same university as Copernicus namely University of Padua, founded 1222, and still in operation in Italy. He then returned to England and married, but got no children, and worked in London as a physician. He left money in his will to a boy school in his native town Folkestone which opened 1674 and was called Harvey Grammar School and is still in continuous operation.

After the discovery of the blood circulation 1616 he lived dangerously as the personal physician to James I (1618-1625) who became ill and Harvey failed to cure him and became a scapegoat among a supposed Catholic plot to kill James I. He was saved by the personal protection of Charles I to whom he was also the personal physician (1625-1647).

His teacher at Padua Hieronymus Fabricius had discovered venous valves but his explanation of their function did not satisfy Harvey who went on to discover the circulation of the blood in 1616 which was published 1628 as An Anatomical Exercise on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals.

The heart-lung circulation was discovered earlier by Ibn al-Nafis, born 1213 and Michael Servetus, born 1511. al-Nafis did discuss the possible existence of a link between arteries and veins in the pulmonary circulation and is by some called the father of circulatory physiology.

Galen, born 129, had discovered the different colours of arterial and venous blood and hypothesized that venous blood originated in the liver and arterial blood in the heart. Harvey changed this concept.

Harvey also laid down that the heart was a pump operating the pulmonary and systemic circulations rather than that it, and the liver, was sucking blood as was the theory at the time. The reason al-Nafis did not think of the systemic circulation was probably that even at Harvey's time metabolism was unknown. His theory was eventually accepted during his life time but was attacked and he had to defend himself with a publication from 1649. There was, however, no effect on medical practice at this time. People continued to practice bloodletting ad modum Galen.

It should be noted that capillaries where not known at the time of Harvey and were discovered 1661 by Marcello Malpighi in a paper on frog lung.


Global Warming?

Lexington: Farmers v greens The Economist: "Yet as the debate has intensified, the number of American voters who believe there is “solid evidence” that the earth is warming has actually fallen, from 77% in 2007 to 57% today, according to the Pew Research Centre. Few voters understand the science. Many are perhaps influenced by the perceived trustworthiness of the people they hear calling for action, the loudest of whom are politicians. Al Gore may be universally admired in Europe, but in America he remains a divisive figure."

Report from Svenskt Näringsliv October 2009

The report is called A European Paradise and focuses on how the EU by emulating the characteristics of its top performing countries by all states could reach Paradise. The six areas for improving the competitiveness of the EU are: 1) entrepreneurship, where Ireland is the champion; 2) job creation, where the Netherlands is the champion; 3) highly skillled workforce, where Luxembourg is the champion; 4) research, where the United Kindom is the champion; 5)green technology, where Belgium is the champion; and 6) financial markets. A summary is found on page 82 in the report.

There was an interesting graph concerning the venture capital investment in green technology in the US and in the EU on page 59 of the report. In Europe people seem to often point at the US and say they don't do enough for the environment. However, the graph shows that the US invests much more private capital in green technology than does the EU. The US invests more from 2002-2008 but they start to increase in 2004 and in 2007 they invest approximately 7 times more. Data for 2008 are only in for the first 6 months of the year but seems to be greater than from 2007. Sweden is the country in the EU that invests most from the public but private funding tend to mean that you are closer to a product, according to the report. It should also be noted the the total GDP of the US and EU are about the same and that there are 500m people in the EU vs 300m in the US.

Got the reference for the report from the blog of Gunnar Hökmark.

Capitalism not so popular--globally?

Today's DN (not online) have an article that displays data on asking people if they like capitalism. There seems to be discontent. However, there is discontent in the US and the EU on the current direction of the country in quite extensive amounts.

In relation to the fall of the Berlin wall and the crash of the Soviet Union it is not their economy that, at least speaking for myself, I'm content of having lost, it is the control system, the secret police. Pondering what it takes to keep industrious people down.

Then there is the problem of the silent majority. The article claims that "Two out of three asked demanded that the government should distribute the wealth of the nation equally (jämliket)". It was a large study of 30,000 people globally that the BBC had performed.

That argument contains the key to the problem. If not capitalism, there will not be sufficient funds to redistribute. The poll did not seem to have asked in this fashion though.

However, the question is what happens when the world have come up to standard with growth. Growth is already low in the industrial countries and presumably would become lower at the point of full global development. How then should capitalism be modified?


Veil of Ignorance?

A Theory of Justice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Rawls develops what he claims are principles of justice through the use of an entirely and deliberately artificial device he calls the Original position, in which everyone decides principles of justice from behind a veil of ignorance. This 'veil' is one that essentially blinds people to all facts about themselves that might cloud what notion of justice is developed."

In 1971 John Rawls published A Theory of Justice thus restarting political philosophy which had been in the doldrums during the 1950s and 1960s. For me this date coincides with a time just after the birth of TTDE and I can't resist speculating a little on what Rawls might have meant with the "veil of ignorance".

It seems like we are dealing with a justification of the procedure, perhaps common at the time, of organizing people in "systems" even without their consent or knowledge of the game? It became possible to clandestinely study the psychological reactions of people to posed questions and this led to the possibility of a detailed investigation of a person's prior life in order to present a thorough character analysis. Someone playing God could then place a person in this new "ministate".

The so created systems or ministates would then be more or less successful and fuse with other ministates to gradually bring us back to the national level with a set of "traffic rules" replacing the law-book of the previous society. The traffic rules are supposed to make individual paths of development possible within the system in line with a liberal set-up. People drive on the individual road and just have to stop at for example a red light now and then. Fees are collected for redistribution for the common good and helping the poor. Rawls, however, is left of the welfare state which he rejects.

Rawls ministates would ultimately form something like the society Sweden represents and Robert Nozick, also at Harvard University, produced a libertarian version of Rawls ministates calling the redistribution unfair. Each system has to decide on how large a fee would be reasonable thus perhaps making a total fusion of the ministates impossible. The nation will remain multi-fractured or fracture in larger chunks.

Just a preliminary analysis but this might be something rather than mini-kingdoms? You know, the Americans don't like Kings and Queens.

Some more on Germany and Europe

The European Council on Foreign Relations Germany and Europe: 1989, 2009...2029: "France is no longer the 'indispensable nation' for Germany; Germany industrial companies, for example, prefer to deal directly with their Russian rather than their French counterparts. More broadly, many in Germany believe that the country does not need Europe when it comes to energy-security or policy towards Russia; and do not see that its needs are served by the entry of Balkan states or Turkey to the European Union."

The Swedish social democrats are apparently concerned because the partly state owned power company Vattenfall AB wants to sell their Swedish electricity grid for cash to invest in nuclear power in the United Kingdom. The English are going to make a major investment for the future. Aftonbladet mentions a figure of 50 billion Swedish crowns for the grid. It would of course be very interesting to know who buys the grid and thus provides the cash for UKs energy security? Apparently Vattenfall AB produces 23% of the electricity in Germany. It is the largest electricity distributor in Sweden with 890,000 accounts. There are 170 distributors in Sweden. E.ON, earlier Sydkraft, is German.

Today on the 18.00 Rapport on SVT Maud Olofsson sternly says that there is not going to be any sale of the grid. She does not really say why but site the necessity of a suitable vendor that passes their criteria.


Which peoples do Swedes want to talk to?

I was curious about the statement yesterday in the radio about the low interest in German in Swedish schools. In 2006 2484 students took French in 7th grade i "Grundskolan" in so called free schools, according to scb.se. 4980 students took Spanish and 1651 took German. In commune schools the number of students with French, Spanish, and German was 18,386, 41,023, and 25,360, respectively. I guess I should say that it sounds improbable that Germany educates more than 27,000 Swedish students on the university level per year even if Germany has almost ten times as many citizens. And these students spoke clearly understandable Swedish after one year of study.

Adding up these numbers 93,884 should give the total number of students in 7th grade since all students must take a so called B-language. This number is in all probability correct since approximately 100,000 people are born and dies respectively in Sweden per year. Percent wise this gives for French, Spanish, and German 22%, 49%, 29%, respectively.

Maybe Spanish is so popular because there are a lot of Spanish speaking immigrants? The description in the Grundskolan manual states that there is an extensive literature in Spanish. They tried to motivate people to study German because they are not so fond of learning English in German-speaking countries. When I went to school, around 1970, there was no Spanish, only French and German. It is good that Jan Björklund is going to start the English education already in first grade. This will lead to a genuine knowledge of English in the absolute majority of people.

New Religions?

Charlotte Therese: "The plethora of emerging new spiritualities has its own problems, of course. They are often intellectually incoherent or melt into a self-centered narcissism. They can become vacuous and faddish. (Madonna and other Hollywood celebrities are now “into Kabala,” the ancient Jewish mystical tradition.) They can become highly individualistic, lacking any vision of social justice. Esoteric and snobbish at times, they often fail to reach the poor and dispossessed people for whom Jesus, the Buddha, and the Jewish prophets had such concern."

I don't know about the first two problems but lack of social justice and failure to reach the poor is taken over by other services in society as it develops into the typical North American or European variety, not counting Africa, South America and poorer regions of Asia. It is today a political problem, not a spiritual. An intellectually coherent new spirituality that is productive and explanatory and which does not alienate people from society with various rules of conduct, like many of those of for example Catholicism, would in all probability become more and more popular. It should not be more difficult to live but rather more pleasant. The country's law code is often complicated enough.

However, replacing the current world religions with a more modern variant that is non-dogmatic and that promotes free thinking and where the sermon is based on social psychology which can be continuously upgraded could conceivably replace the tales and parables in the Bible. I would not be surprised if people already have extracted what is relevant from the Bible and the Quran. The large problem is of course to somehow replace the value of the traditional aspect and what rituals to retain. If faith rather than power is important, it should be possible. Based on a non-personal God concept it could become truly ecumenic. A Church serving such a faith would have to be democratic in its construction.

It is Bildt that is foreign minister

Alla Dessa Dagar: "Detta var också år då den dåvarande svenska regeringen hade intensivare officiella förbindelser med den tyska diktaturen i Berlin än med den tyska demokratin i Bonn."

Ingvar Carlsson popped up the other day on the radio and stated that the social democratic government only had 5% of their contacts with DDR and the rest with West Germany. It was in a program that delineated the cultural interaction between DDR and Sweden.

I believe in Carl Bildt. In times when the so called red-greens in Sweden threaten with the introduction of old communist, DDR embracing, politicians in a new government next year I can only wish for the continuing governance of Alliansen.

East Germany Lives

Latest World News Headlines Times Online News: "German Chancellor personalised the festivities, shifting the focus into a celebration of the East German people"

Yesterday I listened to the radio program P1, Studio Ett, where they featured a two and half hour long discussion about the festivities surrounding the fall of the Berlin wall. A Swedish lady, guest professor at the Humbolt University, informed that there are more Germans at the University level that study Swedish than there are Swedes selecting German as a second foreign language in regular school!

I also learned, like it is featured in the above citation, that there is a problem with many Germans that began their lives in East Germany. They experienced the take-over by West Germany as arrogant where all that was East German was non-valid. Now, even if Germans of the East could not help that they ended up on the wrong side of the wall, their education and upbringing led to a silent membership of the Soviet Union culture. It is not easy to dissect out what might have been good in this culture from the doings of the secret police and the extensive need for the high level of control observed. According to a former East German journalist the Tiananmen Square massacre was pictured as righteous in East German press.

Another lady in the radio program had studied the problem of what to do with all the nazis after World War II in Germany academically. She now focused on the problem of what to do with all the stasis and their helpers. It is the second time over a relatively short period of time that Germany faces this problem. Merkel now apparently is trying to befriend her earlier compatriots. However, it is not entirely easy to just befriend the good guys.

The same problem of course exists in Russia but without a Western influence. Stalin is becoming popular and admitting that the Soviet Ideology was wrong is difficult at the same time as all these KGBs, like Putin, are still around in prominent places. Stretching out a hand to former East Germans is of course stretching out a hand to former Sovietunionists but also to other Eastern European countries. Gordon Brown, according to the above article, is contrary to his Tory colleagues positive on the European project which is becoming very "Eastern" lately. The word freedom is gaining a new meaning--free from US influence.


Hillary Clinton Atlantic Council Speech | Atlantic Council

Hillary Clinton Atlantic Council Speech Atlantic Council: "To expand freedom to more people, we cannot accept that freedom does not belong to all people. We cannot allow oppression, defined and justified by religion or tribe to replace that of ideology. We have a responsibility to address conditions everywhere that undermine the potential of boys and girls and men and women that sap human dignity and threaten global progress."

Hilary Clinton is the highest representative of the US in Germany today and the above citation from her foreign policy address makes me believe that the US is back on track. Freedom! It sounds so simple, however, Europe did entangle themselves in various erroneous ideologies during the time after the US civil war while the US constitution held a steady course across the Atlantic.

During the week-end I enjoyed browsing a reader by Svante Nordin called Det Politiska Täkandets Historia or The History of Political Philosophy. Nordin doesn't talk much about politics in the US, unfortunately. Pragmatism is not mentioned. Hilary Clinton speak about the trans-Atlantic relationship and rightly points out that between the two of us, the US and the EU, we can determine world policy. However, in my humble judgement I sense Germany slipping away on their own with a future together with Russia. Here they will be in charge rather than playing second fiddle with the US.

Several writers point out the difficulties that reunification resulted in. Ideologically, nostalgic former Eastern Germans are lost in the past. Die Linke is a clear example of this. It is the non-biological lure of socialism and the philosophies of Hegel and Marx that some people now turn into criticism of capitalism. They simply can't let go of these tales for the sake of lost prestige in having bet on something that looked like on the right horse but that philosophers during the 17th century would have turned down.

Earlier on during the financial crisis Angela Merkel voiced an opinion that the political system of Germany hopefully would be a model for the world. Americans probably don't think so. At least judging from the problems of carrying through a European type health care system recently. Personally I believe the world-norm will become closer to that of the US rather than to that of northern Europe. Less safety and more dynamism. Returning finally to the citation above and how one should approach the goal of spreading freedom. I don't think the military way is appropriate generally speaking. It creates too much bad blood all over the world so it comes out on the negative. It gives freedom a bad name and facilitates the spread of authorianism.

Nuclear Power???

BBC NEWS UK UK Politics UK to embrace nuclear - Miliband: "Nuclear is a safe, low-carbon option to help tackle climate change, he said.
The Conservatives warned people would not be consulted while pressure groups said nuclear was 'not the answer'."

The UK wants to fast-track a series of new generation nuclear plants for their energy need. Brother David Miliband just visited Russia, perhaps feeling out the possibility of relying on Russian gas in the future, and then comes this message. The first reactors are planned to enter service already 2017. The UK relies a lot on the North Sea gas that is waning and don't have all that hydroelectric power as we have.

"Pressure groups" are perhaps to optimistic over the prospect of solar, wind and bio-smajo. The conclusion also for Sweden is perhaps that the current reactors did not last all the way for replacement with renewables. It would still interest me to know how much more expensive it would be to rely on new nuclear rather than Russian gas? What is the price for this strategic move?


Sir Isaac Newton

This is the second memorial of a scientific revolution contribution. Newton (1643-1727) have said:

"I do not know what I have appeared to the world, but to myself I seem only have been like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

One of his nicer looking pebbles was Principia Mathematica of 1687 considered one of the most influential books in the history of science. In Principia one finds the three universal laws of motion and the law of gravity:

Newton's first law, or the law of inertia, states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and that an object in uniform motion tends to stay in uniform motion unless acted upon by a net external force.

Newton's second law, states that an applied force on an object equals the rate of change of its momentum with time. F=mxa.

The two first laws represent a break with Aristotle who claimed that a force was necessary for maintaining a uniform motion.

Newton's third law, states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton's law of gravitation: F=Gxm1xm2/r^2

He proved the relation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion and the law of gravity thus removing the last doubts of the heliocentric theory.

Newton was devout but not a conventional Christian. A heretic, he most probably did not believe in the Trinity concept. He wrote more on religion than on science during his lifetime. Concerning the above laws, for which he became most famous, he said: "Gravity explains the motion of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done." In the 1690s he wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible.

Newton's introductory statement is for me an indication of the vastness of Nature of God like proportions. We have so much more to learn.


David Cameron's speech on future EU policy

BBC NEWS UK UK Politics Full text: Cameron speech on EU: "But our guiding principles will be these: we believe Britain's interests are best served by membership of a European Union that is an association of its member states, we will never allow Britain to slide into a federal Europe and that means we will watch closely how the Lisbon Treaty works out in practice. We will put in place a referendum lock, so never again can a British government transfer powers to the EU without the people giving their consent in a referendum."

So this is how David Cameron kicks off his election campaign. Apparently there is a tug-of-war in the EU, in the corridors, between the federalists and people like those of the Tories if one is to understand the comment on the Lisbon Treaty in the citation above. He also gives Labour a beating in the speech when he claims that "if the Tories win the election they will inherit the worst economical situation in 50 years".

He says that the UK will be ready to work with the EU on climate change, on energy security, on growth, on global poverty. However, according to the Eurobarometer 71 from the spring of 2009 the priorities of the people of the EU is the economy and health care with energy and environment way down on the list and with the question of global poverty not even assayed.

Federalists against the member states crowd. The key question then becomes if a non federal EU will be particularly efficient in dealing with for example energy security contra the Russians and the Middle East? In Sweden they said during the last election for the EU parliament that we have passed the stage of if we want to be members of the EU. But Olof Palme once turned down an offer by Willy Brandt to become a member of the EEC. Göran Persson and Anna Lind did not succeed in making Sweden a member of the EMU. Persson was down in Germany delivering speeches in German and Anna Lind was brutally murdered--hopefully not by nationalists. Norway is not even members of the EU but have a relationship with the UK via NATO. The position of the UK probably matters more than we are willing to admit for both countries.

The blogosphere vs reading books?

Thomas Anderberg has an essay in Dagens Nyheter where he discusses the difference between reading a book and reading blogs on the internet. That is at least my interpretation of his discussion of Maryanne Wolfs book Proust and the Squid. Anderberg claims that the step from an oral tradition, advocated by Socrates, to reading can be parallelled with the step from reading a book and reading on the web.

If you browse the web there is two types of information: facts and ideas. A plane crashed here and there or something like the idea pictured above. The blogosphere consist of concise posts where an idea is surround by not so many words as in a book. This feature has been taken to an extreme, twitter, where the ideas are even more concentrated.

Wolf apparently think the a persons maturity is in danger when reading in this fashion. Especially so when young people without a book-developed knowledge base studies in this way. I'm not so sure that is correct. Is this not rather a development to the better where the mind get stimulated in a superior fashion for developing greater potential for creativity? Stimulated by ideas rather than words. This reasoning requires of course that the quality of the authors is equivalent.


Obama won the Election a year ago

Well, I voted for John McCain but I today think that this was a mistake. Obama was the better candidate for the times. In other words I know more about Obama and I know more about the times today.

Things have changed. The row over Obama's peace prize witness about the difference in the hope of the American people but also abroad. A recent poll in USA Today put numbers on this. However, not having had such an inflated opinion about Obama a year ago I think he is steadily improving his performance now.

I liked his cool on the Iran debacle and I also appreciate his thoughtfulness on the continuation on the AfPak issue. There are some advancement on the relation with Myanmar as well recently according to the BBC. The engagement tactics has not unstuck the world scene but there is a more pleasant tone which I'm sure improves world wide trade and encounters. Michael Oren, the Israel Ambassador to the US, said today that business is back as usual between the US and Israel according to The Jerusalem Post. Realism on the time frame needed for peace in these quarters reigns.

Obama also recently got some positive numbers on the economy when the US formally exited the recession. The high unemployment however continues to bother the Americans, as well as the Europeans. They claim the stimulus package have finally begun to work. Hopefully he will get his health care bill past in order to get his house in order for the foreign policy adventures. Will he spend most of the rest of the year on the Copenhagen climate conference or on the health care bill?

Despite all this, 56% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, 39% think it is on the right track according to Real Clear Politics. In Sweden I would guess that a majority think the country is on the right track. Why a difference? In Europe it is about 35%/35% according to the Eurobarometer. What ails the Americans? It is probably the wars. Being responsible for the wars. My feeling is that if Obama want to be a great president he has to luxate himself from these two problems. They don't seem winnable, whatever that would mean.

There are those who doubt

Lack of cohesive common policies complicate EU relations with US World Deutsche Welle 02.11.2009: "'This is the classic European approach: we will take the lead, the US will follow and the others will all have to fall into place,' Whitney said. 'Well, the Americans have shown that they're not going to follow, or if they are going to follow they won't go very far and not in the time frames that the Europeans consider necessary. The question is what Europe intends to do when others refuse to follow.'"

Well, Angela Merkel went to Congress and spoke of freedom and of clean air. I liked the freedom talk most. It is important to remember and it is good to see that some people actually got out of the DDR. Concerning the climate change problem, it is the time frame as the citation above indicated that might be a problem. We are not in such a hurry, is my firm belief.

The Next Government in the UK?

BBC NEWS UK UK Politics Cameron denies Tory EU 'turmoil': "Mr Cameron, who is due to announce his new policy on Europe at 1600 GMT, said: 'What has happened is that the politicians who run this country have given away a lot of power to Brussels without asking people first. 'I am going to make sure that that never, ever happens again. That's what today is going to be about.'"

Well, this seems to be the general attitude of David Cameron, the shadow prime minister of the UK. After the Irish voted yes to the Lisbon Treaty speculations arose as to the possibility that Vaclav Klaus could delay his signature long enough for the Tories to gain power in the UK next spring. Then they should have insisted on a referendum on the Treaty for the British people. However, they now have to abandon this strategy and will today present a new policy for the EU-UK relation.

This revelation is probably very important for the future of the EU. The Lisbon Treaty makes it possible for a country to exit and there are such voices among the Tories. The question is, of course, if this is realistic. My feeling is that I would not like an EU without Britain. As I earlier suggested we'd rather join the British Commonwealth, which is still resisting decay. The Australians had a referendum for a republic 1999 that went in favor of the Queen.

Cameron is serious, however, because the Tories left the EPP (The European People's Party) in the EU parliament. This was to me an indication of an EU split of severe magnitude, since both Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are in the EPP. It would have been interesting with an EPP and thus an EU parliament with the conservatives of the tree major EU countries in charge with the Lisbon Treaty in place. This would have been maximizing European power and influence. It would have been like "Alliansen" of Europe.

The British still have their Pound and the question is what would happen if they decided to exit the EU. I could imagine that a more formal link to the US of the commonwealth would form instead based on the language and on the culture in general. EU would be different as would the US. If Sweden remained in the EU and joined the euro group they would start to teach their kids in school German again as the first second language as they did prior to World War II. Then English and Chinese. This would demand commitments from the respective countries. There has not been much of this due to a well developed wait-and-see attitude. I'd say the probability for this happening is not that low.

Article in The Guardian concerning what David Cameron said.


There are scientists and there are scientists

Chinese advisor questions target of two degrees - COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009: "Chinese advisor questions target of two degrees ”Unrealistic” that global warming can be kept below two degrees Celsius – a target endorsed by the UN, the G-20 and many others – according to Dai Yande, a key energy scientist in China."

The two-degree target is something many believe in as can be seen for example here in a Swedish EU document. The Chinese warned the EU, in a phone conversation to José Manuel Barroso on Monday November 2, that rich nations bear a heavier burden in the climate change.

Are the rich nations more "guilty" than the developing nations? After all, the developing nations now have access to the modern technologies that has been brought forward. The industrial revolution in Europe and the US took a heavy toll in lives during the 20th century wars that probably came as a result of this development. The developing countries are beneficiaries of this cost. It is true that Communism took a heavy toll on Russia and China but it unfortunately did not create much.

Are there any good news? Well, if we in reality are watching a Natural climate change that Man did not create. No one is guilty.

Money is apparently not an issue?

Merkel to press U.S. on climate in speech to Congress Politics Reuters: "Merkel signaled in a podcast over the weekend that the central theme of her Washington visit would be climate change, describing it as a 'global task we cannot afford to push back.'"

If we can't afford not to spend on climate, the issue in Sweden still becomes which is less expensive: nuclear power or renewables.

I don't know, of course, but I still can't buy into the apparent hysteria on the climate change. I simply don't believe that scientists can accurately predict the temperature rise for 2020 to 2050. What is it, for example, that makes the ice melt up north when the average temperature has fallen recently? We are powerless before a climate change that Nature bestowes on us.

I just hope that Merkel is not trying to talk up climate change in order to get out of Afghanistan. Shame on you Obama! But on the other hand, it is probably wiser to spend the money on the environment rather than on a war. Merkel is probably sensing the European mood correctly.

Article in The New York Times
Article and text of Merkel's speech in Spiegel Online International

Free ride on the virtues of others?

Marginal Revolution: The Fountainhead: "Rand replied that it was on a desert island that ethics was most needed because on a desert island you cannot free ride on the virtues of others; if you are to survive you must yourself exercise the virtues of rationality, independence, and productiveness."

Sitting on an island, which is not deserted, I would like to take this exquisite opportunity to bring up the discussion of how one views the acquisition of information from the internet without contributing to the same. Many people don't blog and the read and take in information. If you blog, then you contribute yourself, even if your contribution might not be so elaborate as the one's you read on the internet.

The whole idea of the blogosphere is that you can benefit from other people's work and that it is possible to cover more terrain than if you simply read a newspaper in the morning yourself. You don't pay for this service for mankind. The online newspapers are trickier since some of them don't like that people read without paying, like The Financial Times. Other's seemingly don't mind but occasionally like to remind readers that they actually want to be reimbursed, despite taking in money on advertising. I am very pleased with the fact that I managed to learn a lot from the web the last year and a half and also very grateful to all providers of information and ideas.

Today it is actually possible to sit on an island and via the net communicate with the rest of the world. Not entirely virtue free in other words. However, my situation needs an explanation. The way I see it is that my contacts with other people have been destroyed one by one over the years. I am prohibited from forming new contacts. Thus I can't apply for a job. I have formally been made psychotic by the government and relatives although I'm perfectly healthy. Soon two years ago my last person to person contact was destroyed. If I have understood this correctly, this is a premeditated action by people that can use my labor in the "underworld". A world made possible by new technological advances.

My ethics then tell me that I cannot accept the criminal underworld and it is going to be interesting to see what happens when my money runs out, if they do this. The last four years I have been on my own money but criminals continue to affect my body in various ways thus lowering my performance. There is no respect for private property. Nor personal integrity. Morally and ethically I'm quite clean, actually. Hopefully my rationality, indepencence and productivity will be sufficient.