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Random stuff I ponder about

Lorem

Posted by The World I Am In on April 16, 2013

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The Brits are not as humble as they’d like you to think

Posted by The World I Am In on August 21, 2012

We constantly hear how the Brits are so humble and self-deprecating. Well, having lived here for two years now, I am not so sure I agree with that.

I, as a Dane, blatantly brag about how wonderful my country is and how we have really got it right. Some of it I believe in and some of it I try to make sound like a big deal to hide the fact that Denmark is s tiny country who isn’t really all that significant on the world stage.

I amke sure to remind everyone that although Denmark is far down the medals table in the recent Olympic games, then we have an awful lot of medals per capita. I avoid mentioning the ratio of medals by GDP. I mention every brilliant Danish product I see in the supermarket or shops, show exaggerated horror over other countries’ high corruptions rates and continuously draw comparisons between the Danish political system and the crocked equivalent of any other country’s.

Sometimes I make myself a bit sick with my pride. But at least I am honest about it.

The Brits make it sound like they are so humble – when they are far from it!

Many British people I have met have expressed regret that they were so ruthless as to colonise India and other countries back in the day. Well, once you probe a bit they turn it around and say that they gave the Indians the railways and that, really, the Indians ought to be thankful. Also, I have heard Brits say that although they are sorry they stole those Greek artworks and relics – they took much better care of it than the Greeks would have done. In other words, their apologies are mere politeness and their political correctness is a cover.

Also, they try to defend their defeats. In a radio documentary I heard about Robert Falcon Scott, who lost the race to the South Pole to a Norwegian, they defended his defeat by saying that he only lost because he was so focussed on gathering scientific evidence, so, really, he did a better job of it.

That is well-disguised pride and self-righteousness.

More recently, the Brits have had the opportunity to show how brilliant they are when hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. The BBC have made me vomit almost daily in it boasting of how well they have done and how well the BBC itself has covered the events. Yes, the execution of the games has had very few hiccups and that is amazing! Thumbs up! But they have been so busy talking about how short the queues were that it has almost diverted attention from the sporting events.

What I find particularly awful if how the British consider their humour superior to anyone else’s. They like to talk about how the Germans like slapstick humour in a voice that barely disguise their feelings of pity and resentment. “Those poor, simple people.” Ah, cut the crap, will ya! You did not invent dry humour and it is not exclusive to you!

I am constantly being frowned upon for not knowing a British TV presenter, an author, a celebrity or some other person all Brits know – despite the fact that the very same Brit cannot name a single Danish person. Brits have a particular arrogance when it comes to their music. They think we foreigners must know every musician the UK had ever bred. And finally: No, I didn’t not watch Doctor Who when I was a child, I had no idea who he was until you told me about him just now, and no, I don’t think it is very good either! You may call that blasphemy, but it is true!

I think it is okay if the Brits wants to be as proud of their country as most other people are of theirs – but please stop claiming that you are humble and self-deprecating! Come out of the closet! Boasting feels good! Just admit it!

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Why marry when you can have children?

Posted by The World I Am In on July 19, 2012

I have been thinking a lot about the institution of marriage lately. Both because I have been following the media debate about gay marriage, but also because one of my friends just got married and another is in the middle of a divorce.

I asked my friends on Facebook why they think people marry. I got some expected answers but also some I hadn’t thought of. The discussion didn’t change the fact that I don’t really understand the use of marriage.

I DO understand monogamy. I DO understand the two-parent family structure, both in relation to one’s own happiness and sense of security and for financial reasons (two incomes for one household raises the standard of living etc.). I DO understand doing everything one possibly can to uphold this structure, a.k.a. staying together, particularly if you have children. I DO also understand why the authorities seek to encourage twosomes, as it statistically makes people and their children better off and less likely to need help or correction from the state. But surely, in a civilised, largely secular country where legislation emphasises equal rights for all citizens and tries to fit around a range of different cultures, marriage in its current form is unnecessary! No?

Let me go through some of the reasons my friends gave me for marrying your partner:

  1. Because it is a tradition. Er well, so you admit that we are all lemmings? Are we really that unable to question norms?
  2. To have shared custody over and access to children. Now, this one makes a lot of sense to me, but this shouldn’t have anything to do with marriage. If an unmarried couple in the UK split up, the woman has the full custody of the children and can, if she is nasty cow, legally keep the children away from their father. The problem here is the law. It should be changed so that parents automatically have equal rights over their offspring. They both contributed to create that child, so why is the law constructed so that only one parent has custody over that child?
  3. To ensure each other financially. My grandmother’s neighbours had been cohabiting for 20 years and when he prematurely and suddenly died, she lost the house. I do not know the particulars of the case, but stories like that scare me. Therefore, I completely understand the benefits of ensuring each other financially. But there are, to my knowledge, other ways to ensure the rights and financial arrangements currently gained in a marriage. It is possible, for instance, to have a joint mortgage or a sign a shared insurance policy. Some would argue that it would be an effort to find out how and where one needed to ensure each other and that marriage simply works as an easy “package solution”. I accept that explanation.
  4. As a symbol of love. Yes, I agree that marriage is super, SUPER romantic. But really, it ought to be enough just to tell and show your partner. Why does it have to be manifested by an expensive ring? Does it matter to signal to others that you love each other if you already know that you do?
  5. To promise each other to stay together. Well, that one is pretty easy to deflate. Just look at the divorce statistics! Today, people can get married to someone they have known for three weeks and divorce because that person wears ugly slippers. Is a ring going to keep anyone from cheating on their partner? Why would a piece of paper make you stay together if you didn’t want to? Now, children, THAT’S a reason for staying together I can understand. A child is a contract written in blood and that should make people stay together. That is much more meaningful than some symbolic pact.
  6. To promise a God to stay together. As an atheist, I cannot possibly understand this argument. I will say, though, that I think this only plays a role with people who attribute a whole lot of meaning to their respective scripture. And in the western world, they are a minority.
  7. To have a party. Some of my friends suggested it was merely an opportunity to celebrate their love, to have fun and cash in on gifts. I can see why. But shouldn’t it just be enough to say to your guests that you’d be having party to celebrate your relationship? You might argue that marriage is a one-off so should be celebrated more than some relationship that can end tomorrow. Er, that might have been true once, but now a day, marriages can also end tomorrow.

There are a few more issues where the law is behind, e.g. immigration, and where marriage still plays a role. But when a marriage can be dissolved by the snap of the fingers, I find it ironic that we ascribe that much meaning to a piece of paper.

Some of you reading this will probably think that I have just made a good case for simply getting religion out of marriage and that, really, I am happy with common law marriage/civil union. You’re probably right.

I am in no “imminent danger” of being proposed to and it isn’t something I have strong feelings against, so I could probably be persuaded on the grounds that it is simply romantic and an easy way of obtaining all the rights and insurances in one go, as in point 2 and 3, as long as I wouldn’t have to subject myself to some of the male chauvinist rituals. But I still don’t really see why in 2012 the legislation hasn’t yet replaced this old-fashioned, originally religious establishment with something more in tune with today’s lifestyle. I just don’t really get it.

If you can help me understand, then please do! I would very much like to discuss this further!

Posted in Blog, Human interaction, Random yappin', Religion and ethics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Be open to serendipity

Posted by The World I Am In on June 11, 2012

You know those kinds of situations where you have a brief, shared moment of understanding with a stranger? It can be laughing at the same joke on the bus or discussing the wonderfulness of chocolate covered raisins in the supermarket queue or it can be making a new friendship in the most unexpected circumstances. Those little moments are fantastic. Recently, when I was out jogging and was caught out by a rain shower, I hid under bridge near a coot nest. An old man was also sheltering there and we started talking, first about the little coot babies that were quite amusing to watch, and then about the state of the world and how to solve the problems of injustice and poverty. We chatted for 10-15 minutes until the rain stopped and then wished each other a good day and resumed what we were doing. I haven’t seen him since, but it was a really great experience and many of the things we talked about have given rise to deep thoughts on the issues. Had I worn my headphone then I wouldn’t have had this short encounter.

These little gems cannot be predicted or planned, but I really enjoy connecting with people and creating smiles, so I think I will try to allow more little coincidences happen to me more often. 🙂

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Have your news with a grain of salt

Posted by The World I Am In on May 29, 2012

This image does not belong to me, but it is “in the public domain” and posting it should thus not cause any further copyright infringement.

I sigh when I watch the news. Syrian Assad is blamed even before the massacres have been investigated and Poles are being made to look like a bunch of rouge neo-nazis because of some football violence – which, to my knowledge, is common. The “filters” the media sees events through is sometimes so thick it can be difficult to see through them. And then I have not even made it to political (self-)interest, which REALLY skews things!

If there is ONE thing I have learnt from studying journalism, then it is that there are always several sides to a story. One reporter might say: “It is a desolate dirt road with some shack scattered around”, while another says: “It is a busy, flourishing road with some highstreet shops.” What is the truth? It is probably somewhere in between.

Journalists, and people in general, don’t usally mean to lie, but we cannot help seeing the events in a certain light made up of cultural perceptions, prejudices, religious or political views and a well-meaning opinion of what is good and just. And that, of course, goes both ways. Every human being on this planet is equally biased. You cannot free yourself from the values you have learnt from childhood – but trying never hurt anyone!

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The fuss about gay marriage

Posted by The World I Am In on March 20, 2012

There is lots of talk about the right to gay marriage in UK , Denmark and many other places. I don’t get it. For two reasons:

1. I don’t understand why the gays want to be married when they can already have a civil partnership.

Civil partnership can secure you financially just as well as a marriage does and as an atheist, I just don’t see why a religious blessing means anything. It is sad that many people split up, but now a days, where most people don’t take the until-death-do-you-apart literally anyway, I don’t think a piece of paper makes the slightest difference. To address the problem of broken families, we should rather focus on the fact that people who have a “contract written with blood”, in the shape of children, ought to stay together. That is a far more persuasive argument.

2. I don’t understand why the church don’t want do deviate from the original scripture on this issue when they have done it so many times before.

They say that it is against the word of the bible. Yes, and so is female priests and many other things that are being introduced. Some people say that religion is all or nothing; that you either follow the word fully or else you are not a true believer. I think that view will be opposed by many, many people, who consider themselves religious but who accept some of the other changes the church goes through. In my view, approving gay marriage will just be another small step in a modernisation process that the church is going through.

So basically, I don’t get it.

Posted in Human interaction, Random yappin', Religion and ethics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Why do some boys demonise other boys’ girlfriends?

Posted by The World I Am In on February 8, 2012

My brother is part of a group of friends who have known each other since kindergarten and are very close. Some of the guys have girlfriends. Some of these girlfriends are seen as a threat to the boys’ friendship, because the boys they are dating seem to spend less time with the group. Among the boys, the girls are portrayed as whip-cracking torturers who do everything they can to spoil the peace. This is not the only group of boys where his phenomenon can be found.

Well, some of the girls may very well be whip-cracking, I have seen many examples of that, but I find it hard to believe they are pure evil. Maybe the boyfriends are actually so in love with their girlfriends that they like spending time with them? If he has chosen her to be part of his life, then that doesn’t sound completely unrealistic. Also, a girlfriend might be a convenient excuse for not doing things they have actually grown out of, but don’t dare to let the boys know out of fear of complete exclusion.

This makes me wonder; why do some boys, who know full well the jargon of the group, fail to defend his girlfriend and their relationship? Is it because admitting that you are in love is a sign of weakness? Are we back to the Neanderthal communication forms where a man has to show the other males that he is strong and independent in order to retain his position in the pack? Alright, that’s maybe extending the analysis a bit too far, but I do think that the boys who play along or allow their guy friends to demonise their own girlfriend are the real weaklings. He has chosen the girl, so if she is no good, then he is really saying that his own judgement is poor and he himself ends up looking stupid! What’s more, the boys who talks badly about their friend’s girlfriends are disloyal and put their buddy in a terrible dilemma. Not a very friendly thing to do to a friend.

Finally, it should be said that luckily, there are also loads of guys, who are mature enough to say “I love my woman!” to his mates without fear of being seen as a whimp. To me, that makes him seem stronger. I admire people who stand by what they believe and who they love and I pity the ones who don’t.

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Thoughts on sovereignty

Posted by The World I Am In on October 28, 2011

My Father feels like Greece. He too has very little money and has been receiving alms. Most recently, his mother gave him money for a new fridge. His current fridge is partly broken, extremely energy inefficient and above all very unhygienic, so I understand her charity. However, my father is happy with his fridge and does not think he needs a new one, so he would like to use the money for something else. He wishes to exert “sovereignty” in his own little kingdom. He has been making a fuss about how he feels his autonomy is being infringed by her demand to spend the money on a fridge. Just like the Greek people doesn’t like to follow orders from the EU when getting a bailout. On the one hand, I think it is only fair that a big sum of money is followed by a set of conditions on how to spend it, but on the other, I also understand both my Father and the Greeks. It must be terribly discouraging and frustrating to have to bow in the dust to the people or institutions who happen to have cash to spare. Not good for one’s self esteem either.

I randomly heard a radio interview with some experts who recommended that we give the governments of developing countries money without telling them what to do with it. The strongest argument for this, is that it gives the country the means to develop in the way it itself wishes instead of adopting our way of running a state. I think this is a damn good argument. Yes, the west is the most technologically developed region of the world but who says we have found the perfect solution? Instead of reinventing the wheel wouldn’t it be better to allow these states to find their own path? Maybe something new and wonderful would turn up! The counterargument is also very strong. It is, of course, that a ridiculous amount of the money would disappear into a few corrupt pockets instead of gaining the greater public any good. I see the dilemma. Development might take a freer route if we gave money to developing countries without ringfencing it but it would take eons before the common man would see any benefits.

I have thought a lot about sovereignty. The solution is probably, as always, somewhere in between. Maybe there should be fewer conditions along with money and gifts. Well, I am not going to give advice to the governments of the world, and my grandmother is old enough to decide herself what to give her son, but maybe we should all have more trust in individuals and countries’ ability to live their life as they wish. I think there is something to be said for sovereignty.

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Light sleepers need to chill

Posted by The World I Am In on October 19, 2011

Hey you! Light sleeper! You just piss me off! I hate how you wake up if I’m simply turning a page in my book next door and you piss me off by make a point out of letting me know by abruptly getting up and going to the toilet, slamming doors and sighing unnecessarily loud. Okay, I will do a lot to not bother you; I will walk quietly, I will avoid talking on the phone after your ridiculously early bedtime, I will listen to music on my headphones, etc. Hell, you might even be able to guilttrip me into adjusting my bedtime to yours to minimise the risk of you waking up because of my nocturnal activities. But I won’t stop breathing just so you have your rest! I will be quiet for you and you seriously need to get over it! If you can wake up merely because someone is alive next door then it is YOU who have a problem and YOU who needs to relax!

Yes, this was an infuriated post. Thanks for reading, I feel a lot better now.

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China is doing the world a favour with its one-child policy

Posted by The World I Am In on October 9, 2011

Although there have been many horrible, horrible examples of population control through time, I still think China is doing the world a favour with its one child policy.

We have found ways to increase yield of the world’s natural resources and if only we would manage and distribute these resources properly (= less meat for westerners), Mother Earth will be able to feed everybody for now. But as the world’s 7th billionth person is due to be born overpopulation is going to be a very real threat in the future.

China has foreseen this and taken drastic and controversial measures to limit population growth. Their objective has been to avoid problems within China but the outcome is benefitting us all. I therefore think, that although the policy comes at an unacceptably high cost for many of the affected families and that I personally would advocate for other family planning programmes, China is still doing the world a favour by limiting the number of people born into it. Did you hear that, India?

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