Archive for the ‘opinions’ Category

20 things the rich do?

29.11.2013 14:51

Recently, I came across an article with the title “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day” (found via Facebook, I believe), and as I read through the article, I became increasingly annoyed. Through every item on the list, I felt the condescending attitude towards the “poor”, and that whoever made the list, criticizes the “poor” for not doing enough with their lives, and that the “poor” are lazy by comparison to the “rich”.

I, however, do not feel this way (and I’m not on either side of this metaphorical fence), and I feel I need to shoot down the argumentation presented in that article. I need to express what I believe would be the reasons behind the numbers (based on my own insight and observations, both with myself, my family, and other individuals), and show that just presenting numbers and statistics without context might present the wrong picture. The picture the condescending people want you to see.

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

There’s a simple reason to this, actually. Healthy foods are more expensive than junk food, and junk food fits surprisingly well on a small budget. Also, wealthy people gamble just for the fun of it, but “poor” people gamble because of the small glimmer of hope towards the grander prizes. I would also believe that “gambling” includes everything from tables and machines at casinos down to lottery tickets. Most everyone without a lot of money will buy lottery tickets, especially when there’s a small chance to win millions of dollars.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

Focusing on a single goal, and be able to accomplish it takes a special kind of drive and skill. Those who don’t have the ability to focus on accomplishing a single goal are happy with what they have, or don’t have the time or economy to focus on anything in particular, or change their focus to a specific goal.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.

Exercising aerobically in a proper way requires a personal trainer and/or a gym membership, and not everyone can afford this on a strained budget. It’s that, or the fact that those with a poor economy often works more than one job, and there’s simply no time left in the day to do any type of exercising. Wealthy people can often choose their own spare time, which is a luxury not everyone has.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.

First, audio books cost money, and not all public libraries have audio books for rent. Second, the commute is different for all, and most “poor” people use public transportation. It’s hard enough to listen to audio books on public transportation with the background noise, and not everyone has a portable audio player capable of playing audio books (it depends greatly on the format of these audio books, actually). And third, not everyone has an interest in reading/listening to books. A lot of people prefer listening to music or radio on their commute, or reading something else (when not driving, of course). Personally, I prefer ready an e-paper on my iPad on the bus to work, and given that my bus trip lasts for about 5-10 minutes, I don’t get a lot of reading done in that short time. Basically, narrowing it down to “audio books” excludes a lot of other activities you can do on the work commute.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.

It depends how you define a to-do list, really, and what’s type of tasks are on that to-do list. I don’t think a lot of people who answered the survey counted grocery lists as a form of “to-do list” (which it totally does), and for a lot of people, a to-do list may also be as simple as using the front door of the fridge as a billboard of to-do items. If tasks on to-do lists also account for things to do in a regular workday, most “poor” people have jobs in the servicing industry or production industry, which includes tasks not bound by an individual to-do list (a global to-do list maintained by a supervisor, sure, but not individually).

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.

That’s quite the tricky wording, though. Does this include children who read non-fiction books assigned by school teachers, or books that the children has taken an own initiative to read? Besides, “wealthy” parents often have academic backgrounds, or other higher education, and have a better knowledge of non-fiction reading material they think their children should read, while I assume “poor” parents often teach their children practical knowledge directly, rather than using books.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.

Again, first of all, there’s a significant difference in “parents making their children volunteer” and “children taking own initiative to volunteer” (like I pointed out above). Also, “volunteering” can be a matter of defintion. There’s organized volunteering (rec centers, geriatric homes, first aid, soup kitchens, etc), and there’s individual volunteering (helping out a grandparent or other family member, or a neighbor, with shopping, chores, care/nursing, etc). I suspect that this statistic only accounts for parents who make their children participate in organized volunteering.

8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.

Yes, calls. As opposed to actual face-to-face visits, or text messages. Another excluding distinction.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

A lot of people keep their goals in their heads, rather than writing them down, and prefer to either keep these goals to themselves, or discuss them with other people directly. Not everyone has the need to write them down, much like a to-do list.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.

As far as I’ve seen, the “wealthy” already have jobs related to knowledge, management, or other area that requires higher education in the first place. Advancing one’s career in these areas would require to update their education or increase their knowledge through reading material. “Poor” people have jobs that don’t require a lot of education, or where advancing one’s career doesn’t depend on reading material, but rather in-workplace education (practical training specific to the job), workplace experience or just showing a positive initiative and positive results at work. Also, not everyone feel the need to advance their career. A lot of people are quite satisfied with doing repetitive tasks day in and day out. Before I got a regular job myself, I attended a work training course arranged by the unemployment office, and one of my fellow participants told me that he actually like working at a factory production “floor”. He simply didn’t have an interest in working on a higher level, and I respect that decision/desire.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.

This is a clear positive for the “poor” people in this list. We need people who speak their mind, without any filters, to highlight problems in society, the workplace, or other situations.

12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.

I assume that their definition of “networking” relates to mingling with people in similar careers, with the purpose of making business-related connections and contacts. People in “poor” jobs don’t have this need, and I believe they prefer spending their “networking” time with family and friends instead.

13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.

Less than one hour, eh? When “poor” people come home from work, they need to “disconnect” from the workplace stress, and TV would be the choice of entertainment for a lot of people. Pretty much everyone has access to TV in their homes, and the cost of using it is the same whether you use it 1 hour a week or 5 hours a day. “Wealthy” people have access to a lot more forms of entertainment to use for disconnecting after a stressful day.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.

Like it or hate it, reality TV is a popular form of entertainment. Watching other people make a mess of themselves on TV is entertaining for a lot of people. Although this statistic doesn’t include the types of reality TV being more popular than others, I would assume that the more popular TV shows include where the rich and/or famous either show the luxury that’s out there (lives of the rich and famous), or make an ass of themselves in “regular person situations”. Reality TV includes everything from bad things happening to bad people, up to the possible realization of hopes and dreams. A lot of “wealthy” people don’t have the same interest in this type of hopes and dreams, but instead focus on their own ambition.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.

Not everyone’s a morning person. Besides, why would anyone wake up 3 hours before work starts? Some of the “wealthy” people do this to squeeze in some exercise before work starts, but most people wake up in the morning to only catch some breakfast before commuting to work.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.

This comes down to academics, really. If “poor” people truly had success habits that actually work, they wouldn’t be poor in the first place. Wealthy people have already experienced successes, and actually have success habits to teach their children.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.

This relates a little to the previous item. Also, a lot of people believe that luck is random, whether it’s opportunity luck or wealth luck. It all depends on how you look at it. Although there are certain types of behavior that may influence that type of luck, a lot of luck is still random.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.

I believe it can be summed up in three words: What’s the point? Life is simple, so why try to improve it?

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.

I think this comes down to academics, economy/access and cultural heritage. It’s also partially due to poor education and/or literacy, and given the rate public libraries are closing down, I don’t expect the number to improve much, since it will get increasingly harder to get access to free-ish reading material. People of all economies have varying levels of interest in reading, and boiling it down to economy/wealth can be misleading. “Poor” people may also have different priorities than reading.

Lastly, the article author (Dave Ramsay) tries to defend the wealthy by referring to the Christian bible. One part of his ending comment really says it all, I think:

Biblically speaking, poverty is caused and perpetuated primarily by some combination of three things:

1. Personal habits, choices and character;
2. Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor;
3. The myriad of problems encountered if born in a third-world economy.
The third-world economy is and should be a whole different discussion. If you are broke or poor in the U.S. or a first-world economy, the only variable in the discussion you can personally control is YOU. You can make better choices and have better results. If you believe that our economy and culture in the U.S. are so broken that making better choices does not produce better results, then you have a problem. At that point your liberal ideology has left the Scriptures and your politics have caused you to become a fatalist.

Yes, you can influence the first item by changing your habits, but the second item is just as much cause of poverty in first-world countries as any other reason. In this case, the oppression comes mainly from banks, lenders, and other people in the financial world. Their wealth pretty much depends upon getting “poor” people in debt (or further into debt) to make their money, and I’m saying this, not as an anti-corporation statement, but as a pro-financial-ethics statement. Lenders and banks market their loans and debt products as being a good thing, and “poor” people don’t have the experience enough to view these products in a proper skeptic light.

Also, viewing things from a biblical standpoint is taking the “I’m much better than you” stand, and this is the kind of people I, personally, think less of. I think greater of people who dare say their mind without condoning violence or vicious hatred towards other people because of who they are.

And that’s that.

Then again, unlike condescending people, I’m always open to arguments on why my opinion is wrong, based on actual, real-world, scientifically-proven facts. Please leave a comment below (while it lasts — to reduce spam, commenting is automatically closed after 30 days), or tag me on Twitter. Although I don’t actively tweet, I do read all tweets headed my way.

See ya around!

Bekjemping av overvekt

02.10.2012 14:38

I dag deltok jeg i en spørreundersøkelse på nett rundt temaet helse og avgifter, der det ble blant annet spurt etter mine meninger rundt økte avgifter for å bekjempe overvekt og helseproblemer. Jeg følte for å utdype mine meninger rundt dette i et blogginnlegg.

Problemet er at norske myndigheters løsning på at sunn mat og drikke er dyrere enn usunne alternativer, er å øke avgifter på det som er usunt. Problemet er at de som ofte går for usunne og raske alternativer, er de som gjerne har dårlig økonomi i utgangspunktet (lavtlønnede og arbeidsledige), og som ikke har nok kunnskap (eller taktiske muligheter) til å forbedre sin økonomi eller ta sunnere valg. En økning i avgifter vil bare sørge for at økonomien til disse blir enda dårligere (det samme gjelder for øvrig også avgifter på alkohol og tobakksvarer, men det kan jeg komme tilbake til en annen gang).

Mitt personlige møte med norske helsemyndigheters valgmuligheter rundt dette med bekjemping av overvekt har vært ganske nedslående. Norge er tydeligvis ikke interessert til å bekjempe overvekt med alle midler. I februar i år sendte jeg en e-post til både NAV og HELFO (Helseøkonomiforvaltningen) der jeg etterspurte hva jeg evt. kunne få i støtte til min vektnedgang. La meg først begynne med min bakgrunn.

I desember i fjor bestemte jeg meg å gjøre noe spesifikt med min overvekt – jeg meldte meg på et Maxi-kurs hos Grete Roede (som er spesifikt rettet mot de som skal gå mye ned i vekt), og ved første veiing og kursstart i januar i år hadde jeg en beregnet BMI på 63,6. Dette er da klassifisert som helseskadelig overvekt (ekstrem fedme, klasse III). Allerede høsten 2011 var jeg innom overvektspoliklinikken hos mitt lokale sykehus for måling, undersøkelse og konsultasjon (etter henvisning fra lege), der jeg fikk tilbud om å stå på venteliste for én av to muligheter: livsstilskurs med opphold på Muritunet (i Valldal, litt over en times kjøring fra Ålesund), eller et kirurgisk inngrep av typen gastric bypass. Med tanke på de drastiske livsstilsendringene (og redusert sosialliv) forbundet med operasjon, valgte jeg istedet å sette meg på venteliste hos Muritunet. Etter en ukes tid fikk jeg bekreftet min plass på ventelisten fra en saksbehandler, som også anbefalte meg å se nærmere på arbeidsrettet rehabilitering for overvektige (ARRO), og dette er da hvor dette blir kinkig.

ARRO-opplegget må søkes gjennom NAV, og er rettet mot personer som har fått redusert arbeidsevne på grunn av overvekt, der overvekten er enten direkte eller indirekte årsak til at man har problem med å skaffe eller beholde inntektsgivende arbeid. Man må også ha dette dokumentert av sin fastlege. Jeg er i en kontorjobb, og min overvekt gjør meg ikke ute av stand til å utføre jobben min. Det er første problem.

Et vanlig opphold hos Muritunet varer i 4 uker, og jeg må dermed ta meg fri fra jobb for å gå gjennom dette opplegget. Dette vil da gå ut over mine ferieuker, med mindre jeg kan få en sykemelding på dette. På bakgrunn av dette, valgte jeg å gå for det private alternative hos Grete Roede, ettersom jeg kan med dette fortsette å jobbe som vanlig samtidig som jeg går ned i vekt.

Ved innveiing like før jeg sendte min e-post til NAV og HELFO i februar hadde jeg gått ned litt over 7 kg (ned til en BMI på 61,2), ettersom Grete Roede ikke bare fokuserer på at man skal gå ned i vekt, men også i en helsemessig forsvarlig hastighet og ikke minst på en helsemessig forsvarlig måte. Støtteapparatet rundt Roedemetoden gir meg såpass motivasjon at jeg kommer til å fortsette med flere kurs etter hverandre frem til jeg har nådd mitt endelige mål (en utregning tilsier at jeg kommer til å nå dette målet senest julen 2013).

Disse kursene varer over 8 ukentlige møter, og dette koster da 1900 kr per kurs (pluss en grunnbok til 400 kr som kjøpes kun på aller første kurs).

På bakgrunn av dette, sendte jeg altså en e-post til både NAV og HELFO der jeg spurte om det var noen mulighet for å få dekt denne kursavgiften (enten helt eller delvis) gjennom en eller annen støtteordning, med tanke på at dette er en utgift knyttet opp mot min fremtidige helse.

Fra NAV fikk jeg følgende svar:

Det er HELFO (Helseøkonomiforvaltningen) som behandler spørsmål om dekning av helsebehandling og refusjon av legemidler.

Og fra  HELFO fikk jeg følgende svar:

HELFO har ikke noe dekning av dette.

Dermed sier de indirekte at det norske helsevesenet er ikke interessert i at jeg tar initiativ til å forbedre min egen helse, eller i å hjelpe meg med dette, og dette er et svært dårlig signal å sende ut til det norske folk.

Ved hjelp av Grete Roede har jeg gått ned over 30 kg siden januar, og jeg er nå nede i en BMI på 52,7. Dette er fortsatt klassifisert som helseskadelig overvekt, men det er betydelig mindre enn jeg var tidligere, og jeg er nå snart gjennom mitt fjerde kurs, og kommer garantert til å ta fatt på mitt femte kurs like etterpå (som også blir siste kurs som arrangeres før jul). Jeg hadde en pause i juli, ettersom min kursleder hadde sommerferie (Maxi-kurs arrangeres kun 3 steder i hele fylket: Ålesund, Molde og Volda), og jeg må også ta en pause fra kurs i selve juletiden også (siste møte før jul er 10. desember, i følge min beregning), men jeg er forberedt på å fortsette også etter nyttår.

Jeg er altså godt på vei mot mitt mål om å gå ned i vekt, men det frustrerer meg at det offentlige ikke har noen som helst ordning for å hjelpe folk i samme situasjon til det samme uten at man må enten være i en desperat situasjon eller ha mulighet til å ta seg fri fra jobb. Jeg har ingenting mot å dokumentere min vektnedgang ovenfor det offentlige dersom jeg hadde fått enten full eller delvis støtte til kursavgift, dyrere matvarer (lettprodukter), nødvendige treningsklær og/eller avgifter til treningsstudio/-opplegg. Jeg hadde til og med tatt i mot adgang til et treningopplegg arrangert av det offentlige etter arbeidstid (som ikke nødvendigvis trenger å være arrangert gjennom min arbeidsgiver); enten finnes ikke slike typer treningsopplegg arrangert av det offentlige (for ansatte i privat sektor), eller så er det veldig dårlig informert dersom et slikt opplegg faktisk finnes (evt. tips om dette tas i mot med stor takk).

Skrudde vilkår i NRK-lisensen

12.09.2011 19:18

Noen pågående nyhetssaker i det siste rundt NRK-lisensen gjorde meg såpass irritert at jeg bare måtte sende en e-post til de som styrer med slike ting; kulturministeren (og kulturdepartementet), lisensavdelingen i NRK, Medietilsynet, og ikke minst, de to journalistene som la ut de to siste nyhetssakene hos VG Nett. Jeg føler for å også oppdatere mine lesere om disse tingene samtidig, så jeg vil gjengi hele min e-post i uredigert form her på min blogg, noe jeg også vil gjøre med eventuelle svar og videre korrespondanse rundt denne saken (jeg gjengir selvfølgelig ikke e-postsvar som enten ikke har med saken å gjøre eller som avsenderen spesifikt har bedt meg om å ikke gjengi).

Min første melding er da som følger (med bare noen få endringer i formateringen):


Jeg leste i dag på VG Nett to artikler som omhandlet strenge vilkår i NRK-lisensen. Den første artikkelen handlet spesifikt om to personer som hadde vært utsatt for brann der deres TV-apparater hadde gått tapt i brannen, og som møtte liten vilje fra lisensavdelingen i NRK til å yte service for noen som gikk gjennom en tøff periode. Den andre artikkelen håndterte de strenge lisensvilkårene på litt mer generell basis. Etter å ha bekreftet mine mistanker ved en gjennomlesing av de faktiske lovene og forskriftene rundt dette, la jeg igjen en svært irritert kommentar under den førstnevnte artikkelen. Jeg vil gjerne gjenta min kommentar her (lettere omskrevet), adressert til de sentrale organene og personene rundt denne saken, inkludert de to journalistene som sto bak nyhetssaken hos VG Nett.

Først av alt, her er lenker direkte til de artiklene det gjelder:

Jeg vil også si at dette ikke er første gang jeg hører om en slik sak, og det gjør meg provosert at ingen hos NRK, Medietilsynet, Kulturdepartementet, eller tilsvarende politisk hold klarer å se at noe må gjøres med slike strenge vilkår – jeg tenker bare på at til og med straffeloven har formildende omstendigheter.

Det er veldig trist at lisensavdelingen i NRK ikke klarer å yte service for de som har vært utsatt for noe som husbrann. Spesielt dette stusser jeg på (sitat):

“Nilsen fikk klar beskjed om at hun skulle ha gitt beskjed før lisensperioden startet 1. januar.”

Jeg kan bare tenke meg hvordan en slik beskjed hadde foregått; “Hei, jeg skulle gjerne ha stoppet lisensavgiften min, ettersom huset mitt kommer til å brenne ned 18. januar, altså om fire uker.”

Det er rett og slett høl i hodet (for å bruke et slikt uttrykk) at det skal være såpass strengt og uvilje hos NRK på slike hendelser.

Jeg leste også gjennom hele den forskriften som Freddy Lysfjord siterer en paragraf fra, og jeg synes det er skremmende at det er absolutt null slingringsmonn i loven med tanke på ting som er utenfor vår kontroll. Selv om du skulle bli utsatt for brann eller naturkatastrofer som ødelegger mottakeren helt, eller blir utsatt for lengre ufrivillig sykehusopphold (ulykker, koma, osv) eller dø, så må du betale lisensavgiften (selv om du ikke er i stand til å betale noe som helst av regninger). Det er ingenting i loven som gir fritak fra lisensavgiften i slike tilfeller, og dette burde ha vært gjort noe med for lengst.

Og jeg må nesten sitere en av de mer tåpelige utsagnene fra Freddy Lysfjord, avdelingslederen i NRK Lisensavdelingen:

[..] ”Men dersom en person dør før ny termin begynner er vedkommende selvsagt ikke lenger avgiftspliktig for den nye terminen.”

Kort sagt, hvis en person dør for eksempel 3. januar eller 5. juli, er vedkommende avgiftspliktig for neste periode? Hvem skal i så fall betale denne avgiften? Gjenferdet til denne personen? Hva med å bruke §5d i forskriften om fjernsynsmottakere? Hvis man er død, vil man da ikke kunne regnes som noen som ”varig er sterkt funksjonshemmet slik at det er vanskelig for dem å bevege seg utenfor boligen eller å få kontakt med andre”? Man vil da være såpass funksjons-”hemmet” at man ikke kan bevege seg noen steder (verken innenfor eller utenfor noen som helst bolig), og til tross for påstander fra såkalte ”klarsynte”, tviler jeg sterkt på at den døde kan få kontakt med noen som helst. Dette er da å sette denne problemstillingen helt på spissen, ettersom generelle avtalesammenhenger vil avslutte et kontraktsforhold på en skånsom måte dersom den ene parten skulle falle fra.

Ettersom NRKs lisensavdeling sier at det ikke finnes noen formildende omstendigheter, burde det ikke egentlig ha vært tilgang til nettopp formildende omstendigheter i lovforskriftene for slike tilfeller? Man kan jo ikke kreve at å kontakte NRKs lisensavdeling skal være en av de første tingene man må gjøre i forbindelse ekstreme forhold som brann og naturkatastrofer? De som har vært utsatt for slike ekstreme hendelser, og også pårørende til ulykkesofre, sykehuspasienter og avdøde, har gjerne andre og viktigere ting å tenke på enn å avbestille NRK-lisensen for neste periode.

Men også med tanke på at per i dag, må alle, etter at de siste senderene av analoge TV-signaler ble slukket, ut med et månedsbeløp til en eller annen signalleverandør (enten det er digitalt bakkenett, kabel-TV eller parabol) for å i det hele tatt motta signaler (eller kjøpe en signalboks fra RiksTV for å kun motta NRK-kanalene), mener jeg også at NRK-lisensen i sin nåværende form har utspilt sin rolle. Jeg mener da også at lisensen enten blir fjernet helt og/eller blir bakt fullstendig inn i månedsprisen man betaler til RiksTV, Canal Digital, Get, Viasat, eller en av de andre leverandørene. I sistnevnte tilfeller kan det da også være tilfeller der det er muligheter for redusering eller frafall av lisensdelen av denne månedsleien i spesialtilfeller (blant annet de unntakene som nevnes i §5 i dagens forskrift).

Dere som har kultur og medier som sentrale virksomhetsområder trenger virkelig å få gjort noe med dette snarest.

Med vennlig hilsen,


Valg 2011

09.09.2011 16:31

Nå nærmer vi oss slutten av valget og valgkampen for 2011. Kommende mandag er selve valgdagen, og i dag (fredag) er siste mulighet for forhåndsstemming.

Jeg er såpass “heldig” at jeg bor i en av de kommunene som er med på prøveordningen med stemming over nettet, og det gikk forholdvist smertefritt da jeg gjorde min plikt hjemmefra onsdag kveld. Slik jeg opplevde det, krever denne ordningen at Java er installert på maskinen, men noen jeg kjenner hadde problemer med dette fra sin Mac, så systemene er foreløpig ikke helt perfeksjonert. Jeg vil tro at dette vil bli løst hvis ordningen skal utvides ved stortingsvalget i 2013, og jeg håper virkelig at stemming via nett er noe som vil videreføres til senere valg.

Med tanke på at det nå er lokalvalg (kommune og fylke), valgte jeg å gå bort fra det partiet jeg vanligvis stemmer på, og satte heller ned en liste over interessante partier på venstresiden (ettersom jeg er sosialist i mitt hjerte), og gikk for et parti som ville sette enkelte lokale saker på dagsorden (og hva de ville gjøre med dette).

En av disse sakene er da diskusjonen rundt det å opprette bompengering rundt Ålesund, slik det har vært i Oslo ganske lenge nå. Dette er en ordning som jeg er sterkt imot, og jeg mener at dette vil være en sterkt medvirkende faktor til å drepe næringslivet og boforhold i byen vår. De som er for en slik bomring vil kanskje peke på økt bruk av kollektivtrafikk, men dette gjelder nok dessverre ikke for alle. Vår by er rett og slett for liten for en slik type ordning (beregnet folketall for Ålesund kommune nærmer seg 44.000 i disse dager).

La meg ta et lite Min mor og stefar jobber begge i Spjelkavika, som da vil være utenfor bomringen, men bor i boligfeltet Fjelltun. På Fjelltun går det i dag buss tidligst 07:15 om morgenen, neste buss er da 07:50 og deretter går det en buss i gjennomsnitt hvert 40. minutt gjennom dette boligfeltet. Min mor må noen dager begynne 07:30, og må dermed spasere ned til hovedveien for å ta bussen derfra. Hvis hun skal være fremme i tide, må hun begynne å gå hjemmefra klokken 6 om morgenen (og er da fremme på jobb like før 07:00 – det er enten denne bussen eller den som går 35 minutter senere, og da kommer hun jo for sent). Til vanlig bruker hun ganske nøyaktig 15 minutter med bil hver vei, så da må hun velge mellom en reisevei på til sammen 2 ekstra timer hver dag, eller å bruke opp mot 200 kr per dag bare for å få lov til å gå på jobb.

Det henger ikke sammen, og hun er ikke alene om en slik situasjon. Ikke alle er i en posisjon der de kan ta kollektivtrafikk til og fra jobb, og ettersom buss er det eneste kollektivtilbudet her i byen, passer ikke en bomringordning for vår by. Det kan hende at en bomring passer for andre større byer, men Ålesund er ikke en av disse.

Derfor falt valget mitt denne gangen på et av partiene som ønsker at en slik ordning skal utsettes for en folkeavstemming, som vil være mer demokratisk måte fremfor at politikerne overkjører oss med en såpass omfattende endring av bymiljøet.

En annen ting som har frustrert meg over valgkampen den siste tiden, og for så vidt også under alle lokalvalg, er at de forskjellige partilederene reiser rundt i Norges land for å drive valgkamp. Jeg føler at dette blir helt feil, ettersom det er de lokale sakene som er på dagsorden, vi trenger ikke en generell gjentakelse av hva de forskjellige partiene står for sentralt. Jeg vil mye heller høre hva de aktuelle listekandidatene vil gjøre for lokalsamfunnet. Hvis jeg skulle f.eks. høre fra valgkampen til SV, ville det være mer interessant å høre hva Anders Lindbeck, Eirinn Landgren eller Rune Kleiven hadde å si (disse tre er SVs toppkandidater for kommunevalget i Ålesund – jeg lette opp dette), fremfor å høre fra Kristin Halvorsen. Det blir feil for toppolitikerene å reise på Norgesturné under et lokalvalg, og enda verre blir det når de reiser rundt i en buss som er ulovlig enkelte steder.

Dessverre er tendensen at disse sentrale politikerne ikke lærer seg hva folk faktisk vil, og vi kommer nok til å se samme oppførsel om igjen ved neste lokalvalg om 4 år.

Jeg har for min del allerede stemt, og hvis du ikke stemmer selv, vil jeg si som en valgreklame på NRK i 2005 sa: “Da har du valgt leverpostei“. Med andre ord, det å frasi seg retten til å stemme ved valget, er også et valg. Og da mener jeg at du også frasier deg retten til å klage over de folkevalgte.

Not quite there yet

02.05.2011 17:21

One thing’s for certain: I’m up top again now, considering last week’s bad start. But it did take me a full three days to get back on track. Monday was the day of the blowout and being flat out in bed, while Tuesday and Wednesday were used to recover from the whole ordeal. I finally got well enough to go to work Thursday and Friday, even though I could feel my digestive system wasn’t completely balanced (no runs, though). Today I can truly say that I’m fully recovered.

Later this week, my sister’s boyfriend’s (can I still call him “brother-in-law” if they’re not married?) family comes over from Sweden to celebrate my niece’s first birthday, so that could be fun. They’re always a joy to hang with, so it’s all bound to run smoothly. Two of them are even going to be guests at our house, simply because accommodation elsewhere isn’t always affordable and/or available. But hey, it’s family, right? 🙂

In other news, early yesterday, it became clear that my auction was a bust. No takers. I can see two reasons for the auction failing. One, I started the auction that close to Easter, and most people take the Easter week off in Norway (since there are only two and a half workdays that week, anyway). That would put a dent in the possible attention it could get during its two week run. And two, the price was simply too high for a single sponsor. Taking this into consideration, I waited until today to run a second attempt on the auction (NOTE: Norwegian text only). This time, I divided the sponsorship into 4 parts, which would hopefully be a more suitable value for smaller sponsors. The auction runs for 14 days, ending on the 16th. If it doesn’t happen this time around, it will never happen that way.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky this time around… (Of course, if anyone else would like to contribute, I’ll accept.)

Also in the news, Osama Bin Laden has finally been taken out. As someone I know pointed out, Obama did in 2 years what Bush couldn’t in 7. Then again, it has been a long process in the making, I’m sure. All this mess, and in the end, it ended up with a shoot-out in a villa in Pakistan. A small tactical team was what it finally took to get him. Not huge airplane fleets dropping bombs, not convoys of tanks, but good intelligence and a group of specially trained soldiers (fine, I suppose they did have the support of several tanks and other heavy equipment, but still). What it really takes, is good and solid intelligence with sensible leadership behind it all to do a good job. Not acting on a whim, like Bush did with Iraq. Not to mention bombing the hell out of Afghanistan. Sure, Afghanistan and Iraq had leaders rotten to the core who ignored everything about human rights, but it would still pay off in the long run (both in reputation and in actual costs) to have intelligence reports people can count on as well as people who know what the hell they’re doing.

Like I said when the US started dropping bombs in Iraq, I asked myself several times: Why couldn’t they just gather enough solid intel to take out Saddam Hussein and his cohorts with a small tactical team (or a few assassins)? That would be much quicker and painless than attacking a bunch of civilians. It would have been much cheaper, too. And with Afghanistan, “he must be hiding in a cave up in the mountains” is not a solid enough lead to start bombing the landscape.

We (as the whole world, more or less) can finally start rebuilding the messes we made in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and turn over the keys to the sensible leaders actually elected by the people so they can continue on their own.

Now, who’s next?

Bless you!

17.02.2011 02:19

While on my lunch break today, I had a very interesting experience. I was approached by young, deeply Christian people, twice. Let me share the moments for a bit.

The first encounter was outside a grocery store (where I had just made some minor purchases). I was sitting down on a bench, enjoying the last few sips of some strawberry milk (no, I’m not making that up), when a Swedish girl asked to sit down with me to talk a little (she did bring a friend, but she kept very much in the background). She revealed that she was a Christian, with a deep faith in Jesus (you know, that guy from the second half of the Bible). She wanted me to know that God sees me, and will continue to protect me (no matter what I believed), and asked further what my faith was (agnostic – I’ll explain further down – as I also explained to her). My faith is very inclusive towards all/most religions, basically. She also asked if everything was alright, if I had any problems in particular, which I really don’t. We had some small talk for a few minutes before we said our goodbyes. The whole thing kinda put me off for a few minutes after that, but all in all, it was a slightly positive experience.

Later on, about 15-20 minutes after my first encounter, and on my way back to the office, I had a second encounter. This time, it was one guy (Norwegian, who sounded like he was from the Oslo area) and two girls (who the guy identified as being Canadian and American). I had noticed their faces a few minutes earlier, as I had just passed them about a block earlier, heading in the opposite direction, but they must’ve taken an interest and caught up with me inside a shopping mall. They, too, were Christian, and they asked if they could pray for me. Heck, I’m an open-minded guy, and thought that if it would make them happy, I’d just let them. They, too, asked if there were some problems in particular to pray for, which I really didn’t. They each put one hand on me and took a turn with their prayers, basically asking to protect me and praying for my continued kindness, each in their own words. The whole séance probably took about 5 minutes, with odd stares from people passing by. When they finished, they thanked me for the opportunity, and we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, leaving me with a strangely positive feeling of some strangers caring about me enough to do all that.

Yep, today, I was a Christian magnet! It was a particular “life is good” kinda day, too. My monthly pay rolled in the day before, and my 31st birthday is tomorrow (well, technically speaking “today” at the time I write this – it’s way too late in the evening/night, though).

Agnostic? What’s that?

Some of you might wonder about my stance towards faith and religion. I define myself as an agnostic, which means I’m in doubt.

I believe there’s something all around us, which is yet to be properly defined. I believe that religions world-wide have made efforts to define it by giving it names. Some call this feeling God, some call it Yahweh, some call it Allah, some call it The Force, some call it Mother Nature, some have even split it into several deities. In essence, I believe all of these are one and the same, only with different names.

I believe there is “one truth” for all of us, yet to be defined, and that this truth is somewhere in our common future, somewhat further down the line that any of us can see. In the meantime, it is not only correct, but essential to keep your current faith, as long as you respect the faith of others, even if it seems to differ from your own. The important thing is not what you believe in, but that you practice your belief respectfully and without resorting to violence.

OK, that’s probably enough words of wisdom for one day. I guess the idea of growing older is sneaking up on me today.

Way beyond normal (in the wrong direction)

05.11.2010 15:23

I’m seriously starting to wonder what the hell is going in with South-East Asia in general. (If you’re sick of rants about China, North Korea and/or politics, skip the next two paragraphs.)

As you may’ve caught, China strongly disapproved of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 2010, Liu Xiaobo, as they consider him to be a criminal. They’ve gone as far as sending letters to the Oslo-based embassies of Western governments, urging them to disapprove of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (and not attend the ceremony on December 10), as it interferes with Chinese domestic affairs. All mail sent from the Norwegian Nobel Committee to the Chinese embassy lately has been returned unopened. Liu’s crime? Signing a public manifest (Charter 08) which disagrees with some of China’s politics. Something which is strongly encouraged in most of the rest of the world, and in all of what’s considered the Western world. It’s just silly.

And today, it was revealed that North Korea has a new device on its market. Where the concept of a PDA is more or less outdated in the rest of the world (or at least in developed countries), this appears to be “cutting edge” in North Korea just now. From what Engadget could tell by the photos, this PDA runs Windows CE, a half-sibling to the Windows Phone platform (previously called Windows Mobile). It doesn’t have Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, broadband, or even phone capabilities, which more or less states that it doesn’t have many areas of practical use. The cost? Around $140 for the high-end 8GB model with a microSD slot. And that’s in a country with an estimated $150 monthly income per person (btw, that’s pure guesswork based on the GDP numbers per capita from CIA’s World Factbook).

In more positive news, my blog article on my little backstage tour of the Blue Man Group production in Stockholm was recently featured on Blue Man Group’s official Facebook page, as well as shared on their recently created Twitter feed. My, I feel proud. 🙂

I just hope I’ll be able to repeat such a trip next year. I’m hoping to either visit one of the stops on the U.S. National Tour (which has brand new material) or see the permanent show in New York (which is the classic show, going “back to the roots”). I’ll have to see what direction the economy takes me once 2011 has begun. If I’m extremely lucky, I’ll go for both options, but there’s also a chance the outcome will be neither one – I’ll just have to take it as it comes. I won’t know for sure until the end of March or beginning of April, though. Mid-April would be the last opportunity for a well-planned trip in July (although I could plan it as late as mid-June, but that would be pushing it to an uncomfortable level). Until then, I’ll happily accept suggestions for possible destinations. 🙂

Chinese “diplomacy” – what’s that?

18.10.2010 17:07

As some of you might’ve caught, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate is Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights activist, something the Chinese government wasn’t too thrilled about. In the recent week, Chinese officials have responded by silently cancelling all appointments and events relating to Norway and Norwegian officials, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry has even gone as far as critizing the Norwegian Nobel Committee for awarding the prize to a criminal.

And what crime would that be? Openly expressing his opinion about human rights in China and, in essence, openly critizing the Chinese government. That’s right, the freedom of speech which most of us in the so-called Western world take for granted, is forbidden by law in China.

According to a poll on the subject in China, they also demand that the Norwegian Nobel Committee should withdraw the prize and apologize to the Chinese people.

Honestly, there’s nothing to apologize for. The fight for human rights and the freedom to peacefully express one’s opinions is on the path to peace, which I believe is in line with the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government should be able to see this, and relax some of their laws pertaining to freedom of speech and domestic political disagreement. I mean, China apparently wants to be treated differently by the rest of the world (as in, “we are right, everyone else is wrong”), which is a factor to establishing the Great Firewall of China and more or less separating Internet in China from the rest of the world to minimize political influences. To a great extent, they appear to want to be the “Iron Curtain” of the 21st century, and we all know how well that went for the old Soviet Union…

It’s time for China to realize what they’re doing and stop their childish ways, especially in the treatment of other nations in the world. I know I probably won’t be able to visit China after this post, and considering the political situation, I’m not sure I want to either.

And communism is just a nice theory, but human nature makes it unfeasable and impossible to implement in the long run. There, that should cement my status as a criminal according to China, right?

Too fat for airplanes?

15.02.2010 18:58

Over the recent year, I’ve had more than a fair share of airplane travel. My trip to the US last summer encompassed 10 flights alone (to and from), and my trip to Oslo last weekend counts as two additional flights (including the return flight).

Some of you might’ve caught film director Kevin Smith‘s recent trouble with Southwest Airlines, where he was, in essence, kicked off the flight because he was too fat – after being seated. He had paid for two seats (which is already a bullshit premise), but arrived so early at the airport, so he decided to jump on standby for an earlier flight. That earlier flight only had a single seat available, which mr. Smith didn’t mind – in his words; “I didn’t buy an extra seat because I’m fat (which I am), but because I’m anti-social and didn’t want to sit next to someone & possibly have to make convo (in person, I’m very shy)”. According to his story on Twitter, he was seated between to ladies, and he fit the seat perfectly without an extender, yet, the captain didn’t want him on the flight because he was a security risk.

When I returned from the singles party in Oslo last Sunday, I had a similar problem. I had checked in to my flight with SAS the night before using their mobile website, just to make sure I actually would be on the flight, considering it was the last flight of the evening (SK 1334 from Oslo to Ålesund at 9:45 PM on Feb 7, to be exact).

Knowing that seat rows with the emergency exits have slightly more leg room, and considering that I had no problem sitting next to an emergency exit on of the US flights last year, I checked in to seat 11A, which on this flight is the window seat smack dab next to the emergency exit. This was even indicated clearly on the seat chart during check-in (which is why I selected that seat).

As I said, sitting next to an emergency exit is not a problem for me, even if there should be problems during the flight. I have enough arm strength to rip the door handle right off if/when needed, I can remain calm in an emergency, and I can be more than helpful guiding my fellow passengers out the emergency exit if the plane should be damaged enough to make for a hasty exit. I sat next to an emergency exit at one of the flights in the US (I don’t remember which flight at the moment), and I even sat next to an emergency exit on my flight down to Oslo earlier that same weekend. As on all flights in recent years, I was wearing a seat belt extender, and on both previous occasions, I was only asked if I was able to handle the emergency exit if an emergency should arise, in addition to being asked about language barriers and my understanding of the additional instructions when seated next to an emergency exit.

However, on this last flight, I was told that since I was wearing a seat belt extender, I had to move to a different seat, due to being considered a security risk. I was even compared to a woman with child (pregnant or with a new born), and was told that anyone requiring a seat belt extender could not be seated next to an emergency exit. Not one to cause a scene, I reluctantly moved to the seat row behind my original seat, as that flight had about 20, maybe 30 passengers in total (and both seat rows in front and behind my original seat were empty). I was kinda grumpy the rest of the flight, to say the least.

In recent times, I always ask for a seat belt extender the second I board the flight. Sometimes they give it to me there and then, and sometimes they bring it to my seat after the boarding queue has died down. When I flew to Oslo that weekend (SK 1331 the Friday before), the attendant brought it to my seat – knowing full well that I was sitting in a seat next to the emergency exit. I was only asked the usual questions regarding emergency instructions etc.

For some reason, the flight attendant on that particular Sunday flight had a beef with me.

I mean, if there’s such a security problem regarding seating next to emergency exits, why even allow passengers to check in without problems to these seats? Also, it’s the first time I’ve even heard of such a regulation.

I fit snugly into airplane seats with the arm rests down, no problem, it’s just that the seat belt itself doesn’t reach all the way around. If I stand on my knees on the seat, people can pass by me without any problems, so frankly, I don’t see why I couldn’t sit there.

I originally was going to let this one slide by silently, but with the issues Kevin Smith had today,  I just couldn’t shut my mouth much longer.

Between Ålesund and Oslo, there are only two airlines available; SAS and Norwegian. Norwegian (Air Shuttle) is the cheapest choice of the two, but you do get to bare minimum. A friend of mine used Norwegian Air Shuttle on a trip to London a few months ago, and had trouble with flight delays due to weather (where SAS re-routed the flights to the neighboring city (Molde), Norwegian instead let the airplanes return to Oslo), in addition to not getting any service or information during these delays (something which she noticed the passengers with SAS got – SAS, to their credit, even set up bus trips to Molde so people would get to their destinations). This little story made me select SAS for my flights out of Ålesund. Yes, they are a little bit more expensive (anywhere from 100 to 300 NOK extra), but you (usually) get a whole lot more customer service out of those extra money.

Then again, that single flight attendant did kinda ruin my flight that day. I know how Kevin Smith must feel.

Don’t be evil?

01.02.2010 17:21

According to Wired, Steve Jobs recently lashed out against Google on their self-imposed mantra of “Don’t be evil” (along with critizism against other big companies). Yeah, like he’s one to talk.

If you look closer at the history of Apple’s products over the recent decade, Apple is a smidge more evil than Google. They don’t allow others to run their software, they’ve tried restricting their customers to a single platform (not just with music, but with their software and devices as well), they don’t allow for competing products on their platforms (and not just from small-time developers), they’ve tried silencing third party developers from discussing matters relating to Apple with others, they try to run the blame game on their customers (for product problems, they’ve been accused of stealing (not only user interface designs) and they even twist the truth in media just to generate over-hype about their coming products, just to name a few things.

This type of corporate culture is one of the reasons I don’t own any Apple products. Even though their computer products are slightly more enhanced for media production, these computers are just too restricted (software-wise) and high-priced for me to bother. As for the other portable devices (iPod, iPhone, and now, the iPad), the above-mentioned corporate culture and behavior is the main reason for not choosing Apple products on my part.

The iPod and iPhone may have been somewhat superior products when they were launched, but even back then, I could see several flaws and things missing with the iPhone in particular. Besides, when their competition launched their “similar” products under a year later to compete with the iPhone, these were already vastly superior to the iPod and iPhone in features, hardware, software and freedom. Still, Apple seems to have a “fanboy” following that can almost be compared to a semi-religious sect, with Steve Jobs as their almighty savior (something that has, thankfully, been pariodied on more than one occasion).

Yet, Steve Jobs dares to criticize Google for having evil traits, contrary to their own slogan. That may just be a case of the pot calling the kettle black – he should probably take a closer look at his own organization first.