Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

The never ending story of construction noise

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A month ago, to the day, I naively wrote that the construction works appeared to be over.

This has turned out to be very incorrect. The number of days per week affected, as well as the average disturbance per day, has dropped, but they are still ongoing.

Fridays and Saturdays have been particularly likely—and right now (Saturday, December 4th) even the drilling has returned full force.

This for construction work that began September (!) 20th. All-in-all, I would estimate that roughly a third of the time since I began work on my books in 2019 have been plagued by construction noise—with horrifying consequences for my writing, my quality of life, and, often, health.

Yet, this type of unconscionable situation appears to be entirely legal and there is nothing that can be done.

More generally, Germany claims to be a Rechtsstaat—to the point that there was an advertising campaign with this claim a while back. (Confirming my hypothesis that advertising campaigns are often directed at convincing fools of the opposite of the truth, e.g. that a business with outrageously poor customer service would excel in customer service. Find the statement of a campaign, assume the opposite to be true, and you will do reasonably well.)

The two core pillars in a Rechtsstaat are (a) that the individual citizen is protected from mistreatment by other citizens, (b) that he is protected from overreach, incompetence, arbitrariness, etc. from the government, civil servants, and similar.

The current situation is but one of very many where Germany fails completely regarding (a). (Other issues have been discussed in the past.)

As to (b), the citizen has little or no recourse against the government and the extreme amount of incompetence and other problems. Even the lowest civil servants, moving on the intellectual level of receptionists, appear to be considered of more worth than a citizen—including by themselves. The COVID overreaches, lockdowns, and whatnots form a horrifying (if, sadly, not unique) example. (Cf. a great number of earlier texts on both COVID and the German government, etc.)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 4, 2021 at 1:22 pm

Vaccines, myself, and defamatory politicians

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The COVID situation in Germany, as in much of the world, is deteriorating disastrously. I am, of course, speaking of the countermeasures—not the disease.

Consider:

  1. The unvaccinated are slandered and libeled in a horrifying manner, including claims that they would ignore science, be a danger to themselves and others, and prevent the defeat of COVID. Then there is that “pandemic of the unvaccinated” … Most recently, decisions have been made to bar the unvaccinated from almost everywhere. Grocery stores are still allowed, but that too might change over time.

    Indeed, looking at recent claims and the sheer strength of rhetoric, a good case for e.g. Volksverhetzung could be made, except that the corresponding German law is one of the many that should have been written to be generically applicable, but, in fact, are limited to a fix enumeration (in this case, of groups or types of groups). Corresponding claims about e.g. Jews would have been extremely problematic. (“You only have to wear masks because the Jews could infect you!”, “We have a pandemic of Jews!”, etc. Goebbels would be right at home.)

    Speaking for myself, I am unvaccinated, largely and originally, because I have never, ever received any type of information or notification on how to proceed or even when it would be appropriate to do so. On the contrary, early (sensible) claims were that those not in a risk group should be responsible and remain unvaccinated, to allow the vaccine doses to go to risk groups first. With no clear delineation or clear statement from the government, the governmental and press attitudes have gradually, over the space of roughly one year, changed to “the unvaccinated are evil”. (Remember that boiling frog?)

    And, no, being called evil, stupid, uninformed, whatnot, is not something that will increase my likelihood of taking a vaccine. A clear “we now recommend that persons 45–50 contact a physician to be vaccinated”, on the other hand, might have. For the record, I am extremely intelligent and educated, far above the typical German MP or journalist, and I am considerably above average in the extent of my readings on specifically COVID. Politicians seem to have an image of mouth-breathers who have never made it further than the cartoons or the sports section in the news-paper, but this image does not in the least match what I have seen on the Internet—and it is as far from me that one can get.

    The claims about science and being a danger to others, etc., are simply incorrect. (Cf. below.)

  2. There is considerable uncertainty about the both the effectiveness and the safety of the current vaccines, and there is a very strong possibility that those not in a risk group would (statistically and on average) worsen their health outcomes by taking the vaccine.

    Unfortunately, making an objective judgment on this point is near impossible, because the “official line” is supported more with rhetoric than with facts and reasoning—including the constant “Fake news! Fakes news!” to quash any actual debate. Well, decades of experience has taught me to trust the party that tries to bring arguments and debate over the party that quashes debate. (Something which applies to much of the rest of this text.)

  3. Similarly, there are considerable concerns that those who take a vaccine before having had COVID see a long-term reduction in their ability to counter future infections (relative those who have had COVID before, or instead of, the vaccine) through original antigenic sin.

    Of course, the apparent constant need for boosters increase the risk from (and cost of) the vaccines greatly, while pointing to the poor long-term protection.

    For those in a risk group, this is not much of a concern, because COVID now could kill them, and the risk of COVID in twenty or forty years might be academic. For someone like me, this is different: I am very likely better off taking a COVID infection at 47 and having the strong immune system to survive renewed attacks at 67 and 87, than to take the vaccine and possibly die of COVID when I have grown old and am a member of a risk group.

    Again, 47 and no known other risk factors, outside a little too much fat. My risk of death, here and now, is minuscule. In the future? Who knows.

    Then there is the question of future vaccines: So far, vaccines have been poor, but newer and better ones, with more conventional characteristics, unsurprisingly, appear to be in development. What if I e.g. get a shitty vaccine today, or am forced to take one in a few months, when a good one would have been available a little later? (And would the first injection only have been an unnecessary cost and risk, or would the original antigenic sin sabotage the newer and better vaccine?)

  4. But my health is only half the equation. What about my possible effect as an infector of others? A possible source of new mutations? Etc.

    Firstly, I would pose an even smaller risk after COVID than after a vaccine, which points to a natural infection being a solid option, even from the point of view of society.

    Secondly, the point of herd immunity is that not everyone need be vaccinated or otherwise immunized. (And note that the COVID vaccines fall well short of the normal bar for vaccine efficiency.) For instance, Wikipedia on R0 currently gives a herd immunity threshold of 80-88 % for the “Delta variant”. (And, knowing how the misinformation works, I would not be surprised to see the true number being considerably lower. However, even 80–88 is enough to make e.g. a “100 % vaccinated” demand overkill.)

    Here, of course, we have to understand that we are invariably heading for a herd-immunity and/or endemic COVID scenario. Exterminating COVID is a pipe-dream—and will remain so for the foreseeable future. (Have we exterminated the flu? No.) The only alternative, cf. original antigenic sin, is that herd immunity fails through the too weak vaccines …

    Thirdly, there are strong signs that it is actually the vaccinated (alone or in combination with lockdowns and whatnot) who pose the real risk of new and dangerous mutations and/or allow dangerous mutations a chance, through mechanisms like “leaky vaccines”. This maybe to the point that the unvaccinated would have been fine as unvaccinated—had it not been for the vaccinated and their distortion of the natural development of COVID. (This is a point where we might have to wait and see, before we can tell for certain, and where the ability to make good predictions has been particularly hampered by the lack of debate.)

  5. Contrary to claims by e.g. German politicians, we do not have a pandemic of the unvaccinated—unless being unvaccinated, per se, should be seen as a disease. Every time that I have seen statistics, it has amounted to “roughly the same proportions of vaccinated as unvaccinated fall victim”, “more vaccinated than unvaccinated have fallen victim”, or similar.

    True, there might often be circumstances that make a direct comparison misleading, like the vaccinated (still!) belonging to risk groups more often than the unvaccinated, but not to such a degree that a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” can be justified. Moreover, without a scientific debate, we can neither know whether such mitigating circumstances have a truly major or only a marginal effect. In particular, I have yet to see a serious attempt to quantify such effects. (Not that the attempt would necessarily be successful, but the lack of even an attempt is disturbing.) What we have now is comparable to “many athletes have far larger stresses on their knees than non-athletes, and are more susceptible to knee injuries” vs “but their stronger leg muscles help to protect their knees”, which leaves far too much up in the air.

  6. A particular failure of e.g. politicians, often used exactly to push for more vaccinations, is the implicit combination of characteristics from different variants of the virus. For instance, the new omicron variant seems to be more virulent than the prior variants–but also less dangerous. (With reservations for its recency and lack of accumulated knowledge.) The politicians, however, just argue based on the virulence and assume the same amount of problems (deaths, hospitalizations, whatnot) as for other variants. The result is an extremely misleading image of ever more dangerous versions of COVID, while the (entirely expected!) trend has been towards more virulence but less severe problems.

    As I have said before, the “common cold strategy” is very strong; the “Ebola strategy” is very weak. Evolution is expected to make, and so far has made, COVID more virulent but less dangerous—more like a regular flu or, even, common cold. Unless the lockdowns and the vaccinated get in the way of evolution, COVID is expected to resolve it self.

    (As a clarification: My remarks on Ebola refer to its behavior in humans. In other animals, e.g. IIRC dogs, it is less deadly and can have an endemic status.)

Excursion on my having or not having had COVID:
I have not been diagnosed with COVID at any point (and I have written the above under the “not” assumption). However, combining the often weak symptoms and the repeated colds or cold-like diseases that I have had during the COVID era, I strongly suspect that I have already had it.

Excursion on information on policy:
The issue of information on policy has been highly problematic and by no means restricted to “when should I get vaccinated”. Policy decisions have often been made from one day to another; have never been communicated directly to the people, who have to rely on the news to stay informed; the news is often incomplete or contradictory; the (overall) policy has often had multiple actors with different restrictions, e.g. on the federal, state, and municipal level; and the policy has often contained conditions depending on (constantly changing and hard to find) numbers, like the infection rate per 100.000 persons in the local community.

Indeed, I have on repeated occasions received the first warning that something new was happening from an English language source, like The Daily Sceptic, rather than the German sources …

Written by michaeleriksson

December 3, 2021 at 11:12 pm

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Politicians and deliberate failures?

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I have quite a few private speculations that I am reluctant to put into words (or only do so after I see sufficient evidence), because they seem too far-fetched or in violation of Hanlon’s Razor or Eriksson’s Razor(s). I often take claims by others with several grains of salt for similar reasons.

Sometimes, this works in my favor; sometimes, it does not. A notable example is claims of deliberate lies and distortions in and by mainstream media, up to and including the German “Lügenpresse”. Here I have long taken the position that what we see is mostly explainable by e.g. incompetence, unconscious biases, or, at worst, misguided attempts to avoid xenophobia or whatnot,* with deliberate or malicious lies and distortions being a comparatively small phenomenon. In light of accumulated evidence (including e.g. the disparate reporting on crimes that I have discussed recently ([1], [2]) and the handling of COVID reporting), I have to cave—it is simply not plausible that such enormous distortions, even outright lies, are explainable without assuming a deliberate intention. (In my defense, I have the impression that the situation has grown worse over the years, and I need not have been wrong originally.)

*As with e.g. the common stubborn refusal to report that the perpetrator of a certain crime was an immigrant. This is unethical by the press, but on a different level from e.g. the deliberate vilification of Rittenhouse.

One of the major unwritten speculations, and the impetus for this text, is that what seems like incompetence in (mostly) politicians might sometimes be deliberate attempts to fail—that they might not just sabotage what they dislike, but actually sabotage their own “solutions”, in order to allow the enemy to survive, in order to not lose a scapegoat or a cause. Now, my opinions of politicians are not flattering, and I am willing to accept incompetence as the explanation for very much. However, politicians seem to get virtually everything wrong. Their work is comparable to a game of pin the tail: they get it wrong so often, that their few successes seem like sheer luck.

Look at all those noble or distracting causes that never end: Consider the COVID situation, the “war on poverty”, the “war on drugs”, the “war on terror”, the ever-changing reasons why pollution will destroy the Earth within ten years from an ever-changing now, how cries for more “equality” for us poor women (in e.g. Sweden) or us poor blacks (in e.g. the U.S.) are today as loud as or louder than they were in the past—no matter how much has already been achieved and even when, as with Swedish women, the scales have been tipped to give a decided advantage, instead of the claimed disadvantage.

A text from last year dealt with political failures through attacking the wrong target. What if this is largely deliberate? Or what if poor means are deliberately chosen? Take school: Decades of experience show that just throwing more money and more resource at school has very little positive effect. If a politician demands that more money be thrown at schools to solve this or that problem, is he truly ignorant of past failures, or does he bank on being able to (a) take credit for the next batch of money and (b) use the same argument of “We need more money for schools!!!” again, a few years down the line, because the last batch brought no improvement?*

*This is also a good example of why I try to hold back some ideas and not jump to conclusions. Here, e.g., a different, if still nefarious, explanation is often given: The politicians might be afraid to, or ideologically banned from, admitting a true cause, e.g. that “underprivileged” students often have more of an I.Q. problem than a money problem; and have to be shown as doing something in order to be re-elected. Throwing money on the problem might be the easiest way out (for the politician—not the students or the tax payers).

Similarly, Swedish politicians seem to have an odd obsession with time in school, be it hours per day, years of mandatory schooling, or proportion of the population who has a higher education.* The results are unsatisfactory? Throw on more time! (Quality? Who cares about quality? Time!!!) The problem is not solved; the renewed solution is more time; lather-rinse-repeat. That e.g. the politicians might ask too much of someone who simply does not have a head for or an interest in studies, that never seems to occur to them. Neither does that e.g. more students in college might force a lowering of graduation criteria in order for sufficiently many to pass, which will lower the value of the degree for the top performers and future employers.** Etc.

*In all fairness, they also often fiddle around with the minimum qualifications for teachers. However, these often have a time component: If only the teachers spent more TIME in college! These minimum qualifications are also usually of a type that prioritizes formal qualifications over ability, in that an incompetent idiot who has a certain degree is qualified, while even the most competent outsiders without one are not. (And incompetent idiots are fairly common, as teacher programs are often chosen by those unable to enroll in other programs of study.)

**An interesting potential example is the increase of the duration of some Swedish degrees, like my own civilingenjör, e.g. from 9 semesters to 10. I have heard two explanations for this: The official, used by e.g. politicians, that “there is so much more to learn today that we had to increase the length” and the unofficial, whispered in rumors by professors and students, that “the quality of students has dropped so much that we had to stretch the same contents over an extra semester to keep graduation rates up”. (Which explanation is true, I leave unstated.)

Nuclear power might provide a particularly perfidious example. (Here I still tend to favor the Razor’s; however, the idea is a good illustration of the mechanisms that could be involved more generally.) By focusing strongly and highly irrationally on reducing or abolishing nuclear power, various countries have been forced to increase emissions of “greenhouse gases” to keep the energy supply up. More of such emissions allow for greater panic-making around global warming than less emissions, which makes it easier to keep that cause going. This is a double whammy: first a few decades of panic-making against nuclear power (“Vote for us, or you will all DIE in a nuclear accident!” or “Vote for us, or YOUR CHILDREN will live in a RADIOACTIVE WASTELAND!”), then a few decades of panic-making against global warming (“Vote for us, or the WORLD WILL END in ten years!”), which would have been less effective without first forcing nuclear power out.* Of course, the panic about global warming has reached such proportions that, unthinkable just a few years ago, some environmentalists call for more nuclear power. If this road is taken, and succeeds, expect more panic making about nuclear power just a few years later (after all, you do not want to die in a nuclear accident or leave a radioactive wasteland to your children, do you?).

*I note e.g. that Germany is in the process of shutting down its remaining reactors, roughly half now, in what little remains of 2021, and roughly half next year, if I recall correctly.

I can only re-iterate my claims that we need both a constitutionally guaranteed small government and “evidence based” politics. (And note that by evidence, I mean actual scientific evidence, not speculation and misinformation by the likes of Fauci and Ferguson, let alone the astrology-level nonsense found in e.g. gender studies or, increasingly, social sciences in general, which often is in direct contradiction to the actual evidence.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 30, 2021 at 9:20 pm

Hillary for president / Follow-up: A few thoughts on the U.S. election, Trump, and Kamala Harris

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Around 15 months ago (feels like an eternity), I wrote

[That Biden might step down] is not new, and I actually had genuine fears in the past that the reason that the DNC pushed for Biden was to have Hillary Clinton picked as running mate, in order to deliberately make her president through the backdoor—that he was chosen because of his degeneration, not despite it.

and

On the other hand, I find it very, very troubling that restrictions like “must be a woman” and “must be someone non-White” are even considered. This is a proof of a fundamentally flawed and anti-democratic attitude. The one positive thing is that once the U.S. has had a female president, this particular obsession might die down. It will certainly be very hard to push someone like Hillary again.

Today, I encountered Get Ready for President Hillary Clinton, which pushes the idea that “Democrats (i.e., the party of radical, insane and hateful socialists, Marxists and communists) are getting ready to install Hillary Clinton as president of the United States.”, by replacing Harris with Hillary and then forcing Biden out. This plays in well with Biden’s current state, Harris’s extreme unpopularity in virtually every circle, and recent tips* that journalists should look into the procedure for confirming a new vice president.

*According to several recent articles. I have not kept references.

Moreover, the author speculates on “Clinton/Obama in 2024.”, which, if they win, would likely imply Michelle Obama as a presidential candidate in 2028.

As this blog remains closed-ish,* I will not do a deeper analysis of his ideas, except as to note that I have toyed with the idea, myself, while coming down on the side that “Hillary probably is too unpopular in her own party”. (Then again, if not Hillary, then who? Looking at age, scandals, (un)popularity, (in)experience, (in)competence, (in)sanity, most or all nominally plausible candidates seem to be almost impossible—if not for the one reason, then for the other.)

*Honestly! Do not let such trifling details as the posts-per-month count fool you.

Excursion on other portions of my original text:
My early impressions of Harris, discussed in that text, have turned out to be very wrong. Like Biden, she is at least a candidate for worst ever holder of the respective position.

I also mentioned Thatcher and that “I would have been interested in seeing how she would have done as the next U.S president”. As things have played out, it is a very great shame that she was not the next U.S president.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 28, 2021 at 11:52 pm

The Arbery trial / Follow-up: Various

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To continue the recent discussions of race and treatment in the courtroom, etc. (cf. [1], [2]):

Today, we saw a near complete conviction of the three accused in the Ahmaud Arbery shooting. (Travis and Gregory McMichael, William Bryan. By “the shooter” I refer to Travis McMichael.)

At a minimum, this speaks against the claimed-by-the-Left pervasive problem with anti-Black judgments (juries, judges, police, whatnot). It might even speak in favor of anti-White or anti-Right judgments (etc.).

I have not followed this trial anywhere near as closely as the Rittenhouse trial, and I do find the behavior of the convicted potentially* much more troublesome than anything that Rittenhouse did. In particular, the type of “provocation” reasoning that (rightfully) failed against Rittenhouse might very well have worked here**—that Arbery might never have grabbed the gun, had he not been followed and spoken too for a prolonged time before the final scene. (Note also the asymmetry that Rittenhouse was trying to get away from the persons that he shot, while here the person shot was the one trying to get away.) Moreover, there might have been lesser crimes (cf. below) involved in a more legitimate manner than for Rittenhouse. At a minimum, there was a lot of stupidity on display.

*The usual disclaimers and reservations like “I was not there” apply.

**With obvious reservations for the different jurisdictions.

Still, I had expected the two non-shooters to be cleared of at least the murder charges. (While the shooter presented a trickier call—at least, based on my level of knowledge.)

This is not at all what happened. Instead, they were deemed guilty almost throughout, including some oddities. A large portion of this is explained by the absurdity that is felony murder—i.e. commit a felony that, even inadvertently, leads to a death and you are a murderer. As can be seen here, the consequences can be entirely out of proportion. Laws concerning felony murder must be removed or reduced to a more reasonable scope.* I am also strongly puzzled over the multiple counts of felony murder per convict, as only one person died.** More generally, as with Chauvin, I find it annoying with multiple convictions for the same crime. (Not to be confused with multiple convictions for different crimes during the same overall event, say false imprisonment at time X and murder at X + two minutes).

*For instance, if someone brings a gun to a bank robbery, even without the intention of more than threatening, a resulting death from an intended warning shot might be a reasonable case of a modified felony murder, because a willingness to kill can be presumed in a different manner than with the Arbery case. (This while deliberately killing someone with the same gun would be regular murder.) However, extending culpability to other participants would, even in this scenario, be very disputable.

**I have not investigated the details of this, but would speculate that each separate felony led to a separate felony-murder charge.

So far, we have mostly issues with unsound laws, not something that involves race.

However, if we look at malice murder (of which only the shooter was convicted), I have considerable doubts. The linked-to page claims:

Malice murder is a criminal offense in the U.S. state of Georgia, committed when a homicide is done with express or implied malice.

[…]

Express malice is “that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.” Malice is implied when “no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.”

I cannot see malice, per this definition, as sufficiently clearly present (remember: beyond reasonable doubt) that a conviction would be possible.* On the contrary, if this had been the case, just shooting Arbery as he moved along would have been easily possible. On the outside, I could imagine a situation where someone tried to provoke an apparent self-defense situation in order to shoot with plausible deniability, but this is far-fetched, would be very hard to prove, and seems like far more planning and intelligence than plausible with the current trio and in the comparatively short time-frame.

*But I caution that courts often ignore the “plain text” reading in favor of a slippery slope of diverging precedent. A Georgia lawyer might see it differently.

On the contrary, I see a very large risk that race and/or political opinions* played a greater part than the events and what was plausible to assume from the events.

*I have not studied their opinions in detail, but my superficial impression is that these were legitimately unkosher. (To be contrasted with e.g. the fake claims against Rittenhouse or the general “all Republicans are evil” attitude shown by some Leftists.) Still, the opinions should only be of tangential importance, and only play in where it is important for the case.

Speaking as a non-lawyer, something like manslaughter would have been a more reasonable charge, with “guilty”/“not guilty” hinging on how a self-defense claim played out with the jury.

Other convictions, e.g. for false imprisonment, might very well be justified. (Here I would need a deeper study of the details, but I suspect that, had I been in Arbery’s shoes and had the police arrived before the shooting, I would have filed legal charges of my own.)

Finally, on the race of Arbery: From what I have seen so far, he was not targeted because he was Black, but because he was very legitimately suspected of repeated criminal activities in the neighborhood. Indeed, there is a very fair chance that he actually had just engaged in such activities at the time. (I do not remember whether something conclusive was said on this.)

Excursion on calling the police:
Much of this might hinge on whether the claim, by the shooter, was true that he genuinely believed that the police had been called at a very early stage. If true, it puts a potentially different light on many behaviors; if false, they look very odd indeed.

Excursion on what I thought happened:
I suspect that the convicted were more lacking in judgment than overflowing with malice, that they genuinely thought that they were helping the police and the neighborhood, and that they had no a priori intention of harm, but that their behaviors put Arbery in a position where a great many others would have reacted similarly, e.g. to “grab the gun before he shoots me”. This then followed by a reverse “fire the gun before Arbery can take it and shoot us”.

Excursion on the potential negative influence of anti-White stereotypes on Arbery:
If we look at the scenario in the previous excursion, it might very well have been made worse by the attempts to paint Whites as racists, many of whom would just love an excuse to get rid of a few Black guys. What if this type of propaganda left Arbery with a “they are out to kill me” instead of a “they will drag me to the nearest police station”?

Excursion on another self-defense case/Andrew Coffee:
In parallel with the Rittenhouse case, a Black man was (almost entirely) acquitted on grounds of self-defense, despite having been involved in a shoot-out with the police, instead of fighting of unlawful assailants. Cf. e.g. [3]. So much for Rittenhouse receiving special treatment for being White.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 24, 2021 at 10:54 pm

Waukesha car crash? murder? terrorist attack? / Follow-up: Rittenhouse verdict

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The reactions to the Waukesha parade incident* go far to prove my points in my recent text on the Rittenhouse acquittal:

*Due to varying claims in sources, I am deliberately vague.

Darrell Brooks, a Black criminal and Trump hater, drives a car into a White crowd killing five (?) and sending dozens to hospital. Headlines encountered today including talk of a mere “car crash” and that the driver would have been fleeing from a knife fight—by implication, innocent victim of circumstance. (How did he get into that knife fight? Would he not have been safe in his car? Should he not have driven more carefully, even if someone with a knife (!) was chasing him? Was someone actually stupid enough to chase a car with a knife?)

Now, maybe these claims are true—I know far too little about the details. However, look at the state of reporting around Rittenhouse at a similar time or how the same incident with “reverse colors” would have been handled: “White supremacist terrorist mows down Black celebrators!!!”

Certainly, calls for life in prison would already be raised by Black activists, no matter the presence or lack of evidence or the presence or lack of exculpating* explanations.

*With regards to e.g. criminal or racist intent. Criminal or civil liability of e.g. gross negligence, reckless endangerment, involuntary manslaughter, or similar, might still apply.

Or consider the case of James Alex Fields Jr., who was involved in a similar incident in Charlottesville. I do not know in detail what happened there either, and I do not claim that he was innocent of intent, but I do know that he received a radically different treatment in the press, long before either conviction or the appearance of a clear image of events. A White man with the wrong political opinions—must be domestic terrorism!

This is equally reflected in his punishment (life + 419 years after “only” one death), which far exceeds the typical level* for even coldblooded murder, even in the U.S. (which tends to have harsher punishments than e.g. Sweden and Germany). Enormous amounts of violence, with definite intent, by Antifa thugs have gone entirely unpunished (including in Charlottesville).

*He did avoid the death sentence. However, (a) this might have been merely the result of a guilty plea, whereby he avoided the risk of death by the guarantee of a long prison term, (b) statistics on the death penalty give a mere 39, nationwide, for 2017, the year of the event and similar numbers for 2018 and 2019, when trials and sentencing took place. (To be compared with far higher numbers of murders.)

As to the conviction, with the reservation that I have not done detailed legwork: He claimed fear, not anger or hate; and I have read a few supportive accounts (a long time ago; I do not vouch for their correctness), including talk of a gunman chasing him. (And note that gunmen are far more dangerous to someone in a car than knife wielders are.) There are signs that he was mentally ill, not evil, even were the act deliberate. (Note e.g. that wannabe presidential killer John Hinckley was given a few decades of psychiatric care and is now back on the streets.) It will, I suspect, be very, very hard to acquit Brooks by arguments that would not also have given Fields a considerable chance of acquittal (assuming equally fair juries).*

*Which is not in anyway a prediction that Brooks will be harshly punished. Considering the overall trends in society and the justice system, I suspect a very different result in terms of sentencing. (How different, I leave unstated.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 22, 2021 at 9:09 pm

Rittenhouse verdict / Follow-up: various

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Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote:*

*And even with regard to Rittenhouse the opinion is likely to have been older. (Definitely so on the more general issues.)

Similarly, news reporting around various race-related court cases is often heavily distorted, creating an impression that there is a very clear case, that the accused did have certain motivations, or similar—and if a court, even quite legitimately, finds the opposite later, well, then cries of scandal, racist jurors/judges, and whatnot ensues. And then comes the riots … For an example, the same Swedish news source referred to Kyle Rittenhouse as a right-wing extremist, which is (a) disputable, (b) irrelevant in what currently appears to be a clear-cut self-defense case. But, no, the reader is to think “evil Nazi” and ascribe a motive of hate and malevolence.

After one year, the justice system has caught up on (b) and cleared Rittenhouse fully. Indeed, anyone who has actually followed the trial through non-propaganda channels must have seen the self-defense claims as almost obviously true, including through testimony and video evidence. Well, anyone with an intelligent mind who did not suffer from massive prejudice. (As to (a), I have still not seen one shred of evidence for this being true. However, it would still be irrelevant for a fair trial, even had it been true.)

The news reporting around Rittenhouse and his trial has been a scandal, however. Many sources have tried to distort the events horribly and in a manner not compatible with what was actually shown during the trial. Indeed, even post-trial, the situation is ridiculous and libelous. For instance, visiting MSNBC earlier today, I found headlines like “Kyle Rittenhouse trial was designed to protect white conservatives who kill” and “The Rittenhouse verdict is a symptom of a much bigger sickness in America”—these turn the world on its head. Notably, as to the first: there are strong signs that Rittenhouse was prosecuted and persecuted because he was a “white conservative” (not despite it); the disparate treatment of various ethnic and political groups over the last few years strongly point to “black liberals” (up to and including Antifa terrorist and BLM rioters/looters) being treated far better in court and the justice system than “white conservatives”; and it appears that Grosskreuz (?*) remains unprosecuted for the attempted murder of Rittenhouse, despite the evidence against him being stronger than the evidence against Rittenhouse for the attempted murder of Grosskreuz. Sick and twisted.

*I do not have the energy to check name details.

Looking through older texts, I have found one other that mentions Rittenhouse. In that text I express fear about the risk that fair trials might be disappearing. At least in this specific case, my fears did not materialize. (At least not to the point of a change in verdict. Doxing attempts and prosecutional misconduct did take place, to Rittenhouse’s disadvantage, as might some other problems.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 20, 2021 at 1:12 am

Blogroll update (Brownstone Institute)

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I have been a strong critic of the approach taken against COVID from virtually day one*—and an ardent critic of the inexcusable way that debate and dissent has been crushed with “Fake news! Fake news!” instead of factual arguments.

*Indeed, my first text is dated 15th of March, 2020.

Adding the Great Barrington Declaration to my blogroll has been tempting, but I both found the overall site, basically a single declaration, too uninformative and have been skeptical about the long-term value based on the natural lack of updates. (The authors have clearly and early on stated that the declaration reflects a plausible opinion based on what was known at the time, likely in October 2020. While the ideas behind it have remained sound, the details might be different, had it been written today, more than a year later.)

Recently, I have encountered a strong alternative, a “spiritual child of the Great Barrington Declaration” (per about page) in the Brownstone Institute. Indeed, two of the main authors of the declaration, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, are driving forces behind the Brownstone Institute.

Here you can find a steady stream of up-to-date articles in the same spirit, many very well worth reading. for instance, today, Jay Bhattacharya’s testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives on the enormous information problems, distortions, and acts of censorship that have followed COVID—often from exactly the same people who cry “Fake news! Fake news!” when someone tries to start a fair debate. (On my own behalf, I would like to stress that the problems are by no means limited to COVID, but increasingly include any opinions that are not sufficiently far Left, regardless of topic.)

The articles page of the Brownstone Institute is added to my English blogroll. (At the time of writing, the nominal start page is less interesting.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 18, 2021 at 7:43 pm

TV and defamation of the dead / Follow-up: Sweden, murder, and murder of justice

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Almost exactly fifteen months ago, I wrote about the absurd and grossly unethical attempts to paint a dead man as the murderer of Olof Palme. (Also see several other follow-ups.)

Among other things:

Here we have a potentially innocent man who will be considered the murderer by great swaths of the population and many history books—who has no chance to say anything in his defense.

This fear now risks being cemented: Netflix has released a TV series, which appears* to push this very angle—he did it. For those who can read Swedish, great amounts of discussion can be found in the comments to a Swedish article ([1]).

*I have not, and will not, watch it myself. I go by claims by those who have seen it, including in [1].

This is the more absurd, as my readings since my original text point very strongly to the accusations being faulty. To the degree that they are not faulty, the evidence is so slim that the prosecution would have been laughed out of court, had the alleged murderer still been alive and been brought to trial. Of course, not even all Swedes will have done corresponding readings, and international viewers of this series are quite unlikely to have done so.

No, for many, it will be “I know that he did it—I saw it on TV”.

Excursion on “based on a true story”, etc.:
Generally, even when no immediate fear of major defamation is present, I tend to avoid series and movies that are “based on a true story”, as they tend to be poorly made, necessarily will contain at least some (often considerable) distortion of reality, almost necessarily will be partial, and as they tend give grave mischaracterizations of at least some of the characters.

Similarly, I often react negatively to the inclusion of real historical characters in otherwise fictional works.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 12, 2021 at 7:52 am

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Sleep and that bad cosmic joke

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As a follow-up to my recent posts, beginning with [1]:

The construction works appear to be over. (Knock on wood—except that any type of knocking is extremely annoying after weeks of outrageous disturbances.) However, the indirect negative effects on my sleep, life, and work continue:

For the last week or so, I have spent maybe twelve hours a day (often divided into two blocks) alternating, again and again, between a bit of sleep and a bit of letting-my-thoughts-wander-while-almost-asleep. Notably, on many occasions when I would normally just get up after waking, I merely consider getting up, feel much too tired, roll over on the other side, and try to get some more sleep. The other twelve hours, I am still tired enough to lack in energy, have great trouble motivating myself to e.g. write and do household and other chores (that have really mounted up). Of course, a solid day of quality writing is a much easier task after a solid night of quality sleep—and writing without a clear and awake brain is unlikely to produce anything worthwhile.

Take that feeling when the alarm clock goes off much too early on Monday morning, and you either hit “snooze” or force yourself up for a cup of strong coffee and a cold shower. Now imagine having something like that feeling, if with varying strength, through most of the day and for days in a row.

Or to play on some of the texts on various TV series that I have published recently, as follow-ups to When a TV series turns into a zombie of its old self: TV series are not the only thing that can turn into zombies.

Excursion on sleep math:
To some approximation, every hour of sleep results in two hours of quality awake time, assuming that sufficient REM sleep is reached. (Unlikely with a single hour, but, on the other hand, six continuous (!) hours might be almost as refreshing as eight. The approximation holds reasonably in my experience. Additional reservations are needed concerning when in the sleep cycle someone wakes, whether a previous sleep deficit is present, and similar complications.)

Even if I do reach eight hours of sleep a day with my current pattern, even with sufficient REM, etc., four of the resulting sixteen waking hours are already used up. Drop it to six hours of sleep and six hours of letting-my-thoughts-wander-while-almost-asleep and we have 2 * 6 – 6 = 6 (!) hours of quality awake time. Now factor in the low quality of sleep, likely insufficient REM, a pre-existing sleep deficit (which does not seem to help with continuous sleep), etc., and my feeling like a zombie is unsurprising.

Excursion on sleeping pills:
I do have some, which I use mostly to control my nerves and/or temper in exceptional circumstances. I point to my Finnair experiences for what happens when I take one: I do not fall asleep, but I do feel like a zombie … (And I am not keen on experimenting with double doses.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 4, 2021 at 4:46 am