Michael Eriksson's Blog

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The 2018 Swedish parliamentary election

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A few words on the recent Swedish parliamentary election, with some reservations for the results not yet being finalized:*

*Numbers are taken from two Swedish Wikipedia pages, on the 2018 election resp. the historical election results.

  1. Gratifyingly, the overall decline of Social-Democracy appears to be continuing. While the Swedish incarnation, and the current government former, did well by international standards, with 28.4 %; it also reached a new record low. The previous low was 28.5 % from 1911 and the first somewhat modern election.

    This, even without unholy coalitions, follows the trend in Germany, although the Germans are in danger of dropping below 20 %, while the Swedes just went below 30 %. (On the other hand, the joint Social-Democrat/former Communist/Green block is roughly equally strong in Germany as in Sweden. Also see below.)

  2. The main individual competitor, Moderaterna, dropped even more, but its three close allies saw a sufficient gain to more than offset this, leaving the group roughly on par with the Social-Democrats and its allies (a former Communist, now Leftist-/Feminist-populist, party and the “Greens”). The chances are good that the Social-Democrats will not form the next government.
  3. The “Greens” came close to missing the 4%-barrier*. Had they done so, it would have been easier to form a non-Leftist government. Let us see what the next election brings…

    *Parties with less than 4 % of the overall votes are not awarded seats.

  4. The Feminist extremist/populist party Fi did not only, again, fail to reach the 4%-barrier, but took a severe hit. With a mere 0.4 %, chances are that it will become a non-factor in the future. Unfortunately, this cannot be seen as an indication that Sweden is finally turning against Feminism, because many of the other parties are strong (if, I hope, not always honest) proclaimers of (Gender-)Feminist ideas. (Including Patriarchy this, structures that, men oppress women, domestic violence only happens to women, we need to spend as much time discussing female mathematicians as male in math books, variations of the 77-cents-on-the-dollar fraud, …)
  5. However, the further advances of Sverigedemokraterna could be a sign that this is happening: While the main focus of this party is immigration skepticism, it has also often clearly distanced it self from Feminism. With 5.7 %* in 2010, 12.9 % in 2014, and now 17.6 %, it has grown to be a candidate for second largest party, will potentially hold a lot of sway in the otherwise even parliament, and is increasingly forcing the rest of the parties to take issues around immigration and Feminism seriously. This is very positive, seeing that the refusal to discuss such issues in a critical and open-minded manner has had severe consequences for Sweden.

    *Entering parliament for the first time. At the time, many viewed this as a complete disaster and Sverigedemokraterna as the worst evil Sweden had seen in living memory. (Cf. e.g. [1] and a few links from there.) The reactions were worse than those of Hillary and her pack deplorables after the election of Trump…

    As an aside, Sverigedemokraterna is a good example of why the Left–Right scale is useless. They are almost invariably classified as Right-wing, Right populist, or even (usually by the extreme Left) as extreme Right. However, if we look at other issues than “anti-PC” and nationalism, they are (or at least were*) very often overlapping with the Leftist parties. Indeed, my first encounter with Anna Ardin (Feminist/Leftist propagandist and, later, infamous for rape accusations against Julian Assange) was relating to her loudly complaining about how a Swedish newspaper had pegged her as a voter for Sverigedemokraterna in an online test… A member of the (non-hyperbolically!) Loony Left pegged as having more in common with Sverigedemokraterna than with the party of her official choice…

    *I have not looked into their current opinions in detail, but they do appear to have drifted in a more conservative direction over the last eight years. However, the greatest criticism, often amounting to “Sverigedemokraterna are Nazis in disguise” came from that era…

  6. An interesting development is that the Social-Democrats have made overtures towards its non-allies to form a government without involvement of Sverigedemokraterna—well in line with their behavior in past years. For now, they appear to have been turned down. To boot, chances are that, with the current size of Sverigedemokraterna, it will be impossible for the Social-Democrats to push this through by swaying just one Moderaterna’s three allies to defect—at least two would be needed, which is extremely unlikely to happen.

    This is doubly gratifying in that it points to both a turnaround in the general treatment of Sverigedemokraterna and a refusal to fall into the anti-democratic trap that Germany has been caught in.

Readers from e.g. the U.S. should beware that the “political middle” is considerably more to the Left in Sweden than in the U.S. Applying Swedish measures to a U.S. context, the middle-line would not go between the Democrats and the Republicans, but splitting the Democrats in half. Vice versa, the U.S. political middle would cut the Swedish “Right” in half.

As for myself, I continued my practice of not voting—I see none of the current parties as deserving my vote, the choice being one of the lesser evil. (I have not done the leg-work to pin down said lesser evil in this election, but in the past it has usually been Moderaterna.)

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Written by michaeleriksson

September 11, 2018 at 3:36 am

Me too five: Swedish Track-and-Field

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During the “me too” campaign, Swedish Track-and-Field hit the spotlight after Moa Hjelmer*, former European Champion, claimed** to have been raped. An investigation into sexual and physical abuse in the area of Track-and-Field was launched, and a report published.

*I have no idea whether she is included among the survey respondents (see below).

**To preempt outbursts from an irrational reader: I have no deeper knowledge of the matter, and neither deny nor confirm the event. However, experience shows that it is very important to approach matters relating to rape, sexual abuse, child abuse, …, agnostically and to use agnostic formulations until considerable proof is present.

At the time, I downloaded the report, fully intending to give it a thorough read and, if needed, comment upon it—but put this off again and again, expecting it to contain dozens upon dozens of pages. It does not…

It has a whopping four (4!) pages and a cover, most of the contents amounting to “look how seriously we take this”.

Looking into what is said about the investigation, I find:

  1. A survey had been sent to 404 Swedish athletes, of which 192 had actually answered.* The survey included both men and women, but neither their absolute numbers nor their proportions are mentioned.**

    *Note, below, that the low answer rate could imply that the percentages claimed in the report could be exaggerated by as much as a factor two for the overall survey addressees, seeing that those who have been victims tend to be disproportionately likely to answer.

    **Some speculation might be possible based on answer rates (or other numbers); however, the claim that 48 % of everyone, 53 % of women, and 48 % of men had answered makes this tricky: Either the rates are misreported or the proportion of male addressees must have been considerably higher than for female addressees. That 192 / 404 is roughly 47.5 % (48 % only with maximal rounding) makes the combination even less plausible.

    The athletes have been pre-filtered with the constraint that they were active in the Track-and-Field national team at some point in the range 2011–2017. While this ensures some degree of currency (and is generally not unreasonable), it could skew the overall results by including many events too far back to describe the current situation—e.g. that someone did a last tour in 2011, at age 35, and describes an event that took place when 15, i.e. around 1991. Here it might have been helpful to include some younger athletes without previous national-team experience and/or to restrict the survey to e.g. events during the last ten years. (Note that at least the “physical abuse” part below appears to be dominated by experiences pre-adulthood.) With regard to an athlete’s younger years, it should also be noted that Swedish Track-and-Field has seen a number of “imports” and that their prior experiences could skew the situation further.

  2. The survey uses the following definitions:

    Sexual abuse (“sexuella övergrepp”): Exposure* to some of the following against own will** (“Utsatthet för något av följande mot egen vilja”):

    *The Swedish original uses a very awkward wording, which is actually only partially reflected in the awkward translation. “Utsatthet” usually refers to a more persistent state and often has further going connotations of e.g. lack of protection than would be expected in this context. (In contrast, a formulation like “att bli utsatt för”/“to be exposed to” would have been more reasonable.)

    **It is not clear from context whether this is restricted to non-consensual activities or whether voluntary-but-reluctant activities are included—be it with regard to the intention of the survey makers or the reading by the survey takers. In another context, I might have given the former interpretation a nod, but in light of the common malpractice of including exactly voluntary-but-reluctant activities into abuse, or even rape, I urge caution. (Also note the absence of references to force and threats.) Similarly, it is not clear how e.g. welcome actions that took place without prior or implied consent are to be handled. No word is said about reasonable expectations of the other party (e.g. when two sexual partners are in bed together and the one makes a grab for the others genitals; cf. the first sub-item).

    • someone has touched your genitals* (“någon har berört dina könsdelar”)

      *It is not clear whether the genitals had to be naked, whether accidental touching is included, and whether non-sexual contacts are included (for instance, should it be considered sexual or physical abuse when someone is kicked in the groin?). An additional danger is that some might misinterpret this to include e.g. breasts or buttocks—a more explicit formulation would have been beneficial.

    • you have masturbated for* someone (“du har onanerat åt någon”)

      *The use of “for” preserves an ambiguity in whether the sense goes in the direction of “giving a hand-job” or “giving a show”. Unlike “to masturbate”, “att onanera” would imply a self-pleasing act (i.e. “giving a show”); however, “åt” points in the other direction (as does the general context).

    • you have had vaginal intercourse (“du har haft vaginalt samlag”)
    • you have had oral sex (“du har haft oralsex”)
    • you have had anal sex (“du har haft analsex”)

    (In the three last items, there is no specification of whether as “top” and/or “bottom”. Both could be intended or the survey could be skewed to exclude many abuses of men, which would not be unprecedented.)

    Physical abuse (“Fysiska övergrepp”): Exposure* to some of the following against own will** (“Utsatthet för något av följande mot egen vilja”):

    *The same remarks as for sexual abuse apply.

    **Somewhat similar remarks as for sexual abuse apply. Consider e.g. someone who gets into a fight with the intent of hurting someone else and is willing to pay the price of some reciprocal damage—but would prefer not to. The practice of hazing poses another problem: While some hazing is entirely involuntary, even physical abuse can occur on a voluntary-but-reluctant basis in other cases.

    • hit her/him* with the hands (“slog till henne/honom med händerna”)

      *Why the perspective has been changed from the first to the third person is unclear. The order of the pronouns is interesting, however, seeing that men are more likely to be victims (both a priori and in light of the actual survey results).

    • kicked, bit, or beat her/him with fists* (“sparkade, bet eller slog henne/honom med knytnävarna”)

      *Attacks like kneeing appear to be excluded. Why this and the above item is divided is unclear; one possibility is that the above item is intended for slapping and poorly formulated.

    • hit her/him with an object* (“slog henne/honom med tillhygge”)

      *“Tillhygge” has no obvious English translation, but would, at least in this context, likely imply any “wielded” object.

    • burned or scalded her/him (“brände eller skållade henne/honom”)
    • tried to suffocate her/him (strangulated*) (“försökte kväva henne/honom (tog struptag)”)

      *It is not clear whether this is an illustration, a clarification, or a restriction. My translation is simultaneously wider and narrower than the original: The original is restricted to using hands, but need not include actual or prolonged strangulation or choking. In both languages some ambiguity as to eventual intent could be present—are we talking e.g. pain, unconsciousness, or death.

    • Attacked her/him physically in another manner* (“angrep henne/honom fysiskt på annat sätt”)

      *This claim is so vague that it invalidates the earlier attempt to restrict, enumerate, whatnot. Either this should have been the whole or it should not have been present at all. I note that e.g. that the common Swedish practice of throwing a team captain into the water-grave for the steeple-chase upon victory could be construed to be included…

    The definitions suffer from a vagueness and completeness problem, and there is no discrimination concerning e.g. severity or who started what. (For instance, if a man jokingly and lightly beats a woman with a rolled up news paper and she retaliates by beating him senseless with a discus, it counts the same.) There is also no information on context (including age of the involved, previous provocation, whether the intent was to protect someone else or to apply discipline, whatnot). A deeper analysis might show further problems*. The definitions are certainly not the conscientious work of a competent scientist.

    *Indeed, I found myself adding new objections every time I read through the lists…

    (I make the reservation that the actual survey might have contained additional clarification. However, it is the responsibility of the report makers to include sufficient context for a reasonable interpretation.)

    Not including a section on emotional violence (and similar types of behavior) seems like a missed opportunity, but is not strictly speaking an error. (And emotional violence has a far greater subjectivity.) I would have let it go unmentioned, except for speculation about mobbing (cf. below) as a motivation for the physical violence, with mobbing usually being more non-physical than physical.

  3. Almost 12 % claimed to have been sexually abused, by the above definitions, independent of a Track-and-Field context. Considering the great vagueness of the overall formulation and the first sub-item of the definition, this number is nothing remarkable and could possibly largely arise even from a significant portion of the survey takers going with a wide interpretation. For instance, more-or-less everyone has at some point had voluntary-but-reluctant sex—and if only 12 % chose a “feminist” interpretation, the entire number is explained in one go.*

    *Note that I am not saying that this was the case—I merely point to the resulting low informative power of the reported number, as well as a fairly wide range of numbers around it, had they occurred instead.

  4. A whopping five (5!) survey takers (or 2.6 %) claim to have been sexually abused in a Track-and-Field context. Of these, two were drunk* and none claims to have talked to the authorities**.*** No statement was made as to which item of the definitions applied—are we talking groping or all-out rape? No statement was made as to the sex of the individuals.

    *Which (a) shows that “Track-and-Field context” (“friidrottssammanhang”) is given a very wide meaning, (b) implies that there is a fair chance that the other party was drunk too, (c) opens the door to the perpetrator being someone from “outside” (e.g. in that a group of team-members went to a party open to non-athletes/non-trainers/non-whatnots, one of which performed the abuse).

    **Which is at least an indication (but not proof) that the events were of a less severe nature. However, possibly indicating severity in two (!) cases: “Shy of half of the exposed claim that the abuse had consequences for their athletic activities; less energy to train, avoided some training elements and worse results during competition”. (“Knappt hälften av de utsatta uppger att övergreppet inneburit följder för friidrottandet; mindre energi att träna, undvikit vissa moment i träningen och sämre resultat på tävling.”) Then again, looking at the original storm, I suspect that much of it was directed at the fear of exactly such cases—and of 404 survey takers and 192 respondents, there were … two.

    ***The report makes several other subdivisions, which, however, are entirely pointless with so small numbers—40 % this, 60 % that, … Also see the “half” in the preceding footnote: Slightly less than half of five persons, implies two persons—why then not just say “two”?!?! The reason is likely that “half” sounds much better… (Or, depending on who is behind the survey, it opens the possibility for a Woozle after dropping context—“in a survey given to 404 athletes, half said that sexual abuse had negatively impacted their training or competing”, which would imply exactly the type of problem scale that the report thoroughly refutes…)

  5. The reporting on physical abuse is confused, but it appears that 8 % of the women and 13 % of the men have been “abused”* by an adult, most usually the father or a teacher, which in the overall context** gives me the impression of disciplinary or order-restoring action, e.g. that someone acted out as a child and received a slap or was forcefully brought to his room.***

    *As will be seen, I have great doubts that the majority of these cases refer to true abuse (but some of them might).

    **Including the above discussion of the definition and the considerably higher rate among male survey takers.

    ***In all fairness, even some such actions could be illegal by Swedish law—but that does not automatically make them abuse or “wrong” in a sense that matters (e.g. by causing lasting physical or emotional pain). We would have to look at the individual cases in detail to determine that.

    44 % of the men and 18 % of the women claim to have been “abused” by a minor, which “could also be interpreted as an indication of mobbing” (“kan även tolkas som indikation för mobbing.”). Yes, it could: It could also be a sign that some kids occasionally got into a fight… (Note the far higher number for the men.)

    Unfortunately, only the age categorization of the “abuser” is mentioned—not of the “victim”. To boot, the “minor” category would need a better subdivision, e.g. to differ between those who might have been in a fight (or mobbing incident, or whatnot) at ages 5, 10, and 17.

    Unlike with sexual abuse, there is no mention of whether a Track-and-Field context was involved in any given case.

All in all: In as far as a problem exists, it is basically unrelated to Track-and-Field, and the Track-and-Field related part of the “me too” storm has obviously taken place in a tea-cup.

Excursion on whom to blame for the report:
In situations like these, it is often hard to tell whether the authors of the report, the survey makers, or other parties yet, are to blame for any specific short-coming. I make no such assignment of individual blame—but I do note that the end result is a complete fiasco not worthy to be considered science.

Written by michaeleriksson

August 12, 2018 at 6:55 am

Opinion corridors and related topics

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I recently randomly encountered a Wikipedia article on “opinion corridors”, or “åsiktskorridor” in the original Swedish.* While this particular word had flown under my radar, it is hardly a surprise that my native Swedes are the inventors: Sweden is one** of the countries, outside of dictatorships, where the tolerance for “heretic” opinions is the lowest, where those holding such opinions are exposed to the most denouncement*** (sometimes even hatred and persecution), and where politicians are the most likely to ostentatiously profess their (real or pretended) orthodoxy. Indeed, the expression “the Official Truth” (“den Officiella Sanningen”) is often used to derogatorily describe the problem that an unholy alliance of media, politicians, pseudo-academics from the field of “gender studies”, and various interest groups has dictated a certain “truth”****, the questioning of which is grounds for a virtual excommunication: Those with the “wrong” opinion are condemned, censored, see their positions severely distorted (e.g. by leaps like “He said something negative about Islam; ergo, he must hate Muslims.” or “He wants to reduce immigration; ergo, he is racist.”), etc.

*While the Wikipedia article lacks a formal definition, the general intent is easy to understand: Opinions that lie within or move along a certain corridor are acceptable; others are not.

**Unfortunately, this problem has been rapidly expanding in the rest of the world, including the U.S., over the last one or two decades—and is the reason why I have great fears about the current obsession with “hate speech”: The cure could very easily turn out to be a greater threat than the supposed disease.

***Note that I speak of a denouncement on more-or-less moral grounds—not factual analysis and sound argumentation, as can be used against e.g. homeopaths, or even a “you are so wrong that you must be an idiot”. No, a typical reaction amounts to “anyone with such opinions is evil”.

****Often it has little or nothing to do with the real truth, stands in contrast with actual statistics, disagrees with real science, …

This concept, along with several others linked to in the article (including Overton window and Hallin’s spheres), overlap strongly with many of my previous texts, observations, and complaints.* Indeed, one of my most repeated claims is that only actions, not opinions, can be a legitimate cause for condemnation—while e.g. many members of the PC crowd engage in wholesale moral condemnation of opinion and allow themselves to take any action they see fit to silence dissenters. (Leading me to repeat another observation: Fascist is as Fascist does.)

*To mention but a few: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. Also note a great many earlier texts on the topic of censorship, especially through feminist bloggers.

This issue complex is one of the most important in today’s Western world, and one of the greatest threats against democracy, enlightenment, sound governance, and even science. Worse, it is a threat against the finding of truth and the development of human knowledge and understanding: We cannot know with certainty, which of our opinions, no matter how plausible they seem or how many others share them, are right or wrong—but we can say with virtual certainty that some of them will be wrong to at least some degree, possibly entirely. By preventing the expression of dissent, the development and improvement of opinion is severely hampered.

That this is not a hypothetical situation can be seen e.g. in the feminist blogosphere where exactly the comments that stands the greatest chance of affecting a change in opinion, e.g. through solid arguments and published statistics, are those most likely to be censored—and in the mean time, the pseudo-knowledge of propagated Woozles, slogans void of arguments, and emotional perception remains the “truth”.

A very interesting example of how opinion corridors, Overton windows, et al., can exert undue influence is the situation of the Christian Churches* (especially the Catholic): Large blocks of the population seem to believe the absurdity that the Churches must modify their opinions (e.g. regarding homosexuality and female priests) to match the surrounding world. However, if we accept** that the premises of a religion are true, the opinions, behavior, whatnot of a Church must obviously be based on these premises—not on the current opinion corridor. There can be legitimate instances of changes to an official stance, e.g. because of new revelation, a find of alternate text sources (like with the Dead-Sea Scrolls), a development of the understanding of old texts based on new scientific methods, the discovery of an incorrect translation, …—or, obviously, a previous minority interpretation developing into a majority interpretation. For instance, if a scroll is found, pre-dating the Gospels, relating Jesus’ blessing of female priests, and considered authentic by the Vatican, this could be valid reason to allow female Catholic priests. In contrast, to reject some two thousand years of policy, with a base in Biblical interpretation or theological contemplation, merely because the opinion corridor in overall society has changed, would not be a valid reason.

*While these are the potential victims in this scenario, they have historically very often been perpetrators.

**In my case, as an atheist, arguendo; in the case of those religious, this is almost a given as a matter of definition. Should we not accept these premises, chances are that the Church or religion must be rejected in its entirety. (Similarly, it can be legitimate for someone to see a religious position not matching his own preferences as a reason to reject a particular Church or religion entirely. An obvious example would be a Church that insists on a literal interpretation of Biblical events that are not compatible with mainstream science. Still, this only gives the right of rejection—not the right to force the Church to change its own stance on any given issue.)

Particularly dangerous areas, especially with an eye on artificial “echo chambers”, include:

  1. Governmental restrictions on opinion, be they direct (e.g. an outright ban) or indirect (e.g. in that only sufficiently orthodox parties or scientists receive public subsidies).
  2. Deliberate abuse of or naturally developing “echo chambers” in the education system to enforce some set of of opinions. Unfortunately, this is by no means restricted to the lower stages—as demonstrated by the current U.S. crisis of the college system.

    (If influenced by the government, this can overlap with the previous item.)

  3. A press dominated by some set of opinions.

Note that these can all (a) have a massive effect on the overall population through a very wide reach; (b) can tend to be self-perpetuating, e.g. in that non-conformant parties are hindered from gaining votes through less founds and can therefore not affect changes to the rules for public subsidies, that the chances for a college student to eventually join the faculty can depend strongly on having the “right” opinions, and that an aspiring journalist faces a similar situation. And, yes, these are all definite problems in today’s Sweden.

Excursion on topics, fiction, and similar:
Unfortunately, these problems extend into areas not directly relating to opinion, e.g. in that certain entire fields of investigation, topics for books, choices of characters for a movie, and similar can be unduly suppressed or altered, in order to avoid controversy and criticism. For instance, (real) science that deals with e.g. biological differences between men and women or psychometrics is often viewed very negatively by ignorants. (Say, as inherently sexist or racist, or as modern versions of phrenology. Worse: Some seem to believe that even if there is something to discover in this area, it must not be discovered, to avoid influencing opinion in the “wrong” direction.) Similarly, a work of fiction that shows a hero rescue a damsel in distress (or any number of other scenarios) stands the risk of being condemned as e.g.“perpetuating stereotypes”; while it is common to see tiny women with some martial arts training easily beating up men twice their size and with more martial arts training,* women abounding even among “STEM” professionals, …—that the world depicted is sufficiently PC is more important than that it is realistic.

*Going well beyond the typical, already unrealistic, “hero bonus” that is so common in fiction.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 18, 2018 at 2:36 am

Negative language changes in Sweden / “nyanlända”

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Deliberate attempts to change language are often a bad idea (cf. e.g. [1], [2], [3]); especially, when driven by a wish to influence thinking, avoid “offensive” terms, or similar.

A particular annoyance in this regard is the Swedish word “nyanländ”*: This word has long been used in everyday language in a wide variety of contexts, including “nyanländ immigrant” (“newly arrived immigrant”), “nyanlända turister” (“newly arrived tourists”), “nyanlänt flygplan” (“newly arrived airplane”), “de nyanlända”** (“the new arrivals”) …

*Literally: “newly arrived”. A more idiomatic English translation might often use “just arrived” or “new arrival”. In the context of immigration, until recently, “fresh off the boat” would have covered much of the same intents. (But differing in that “fresh off the boat” often has derogatory implications of e.g. making humorous mistakes regarding the local language or customs.)

**The use as a noun resp. an adjective with an implicit noun is common with the old meaning; with the new meaning, it appears to dominate the use as pure adjective.

At some point in the last few years, these uses appear to have been suddenly deprecated in favour of a sole technical meaning referring specifically to some groups of foreigners within Sweden.* This, in and by it self, is so obviously wrong that it beggars belief. However, there is also the significant problem of meaning:

*I am unclear on the motivation, but the overwhelmingly likely candidates fall within the “control thinking”, “euphemistic use”, whatnot family. Note that issues around immigration and refugees are in great discussion in Sweden, and that there is often a great divide between the (real or ostensible) opinions of the politicians (greatly in favor) and the populace (increasingly negative); see also an excursion at the end. A specific conceivable intention could be to communicate the message that “they are Swedes too; just newly arrived”—as opposed to e.g. “they are refugees, who just happen to live in Sweden right now”. (The only other candidate that has even a remote plausibility to me, is the wish to make a more fine-grained categorization, possibly relating to a law mentioned below, in combination with extreme lack of judgment as to what words might be suitable.)

It is not obvious what groups are intended. Indeed, until today, when I read up a little, I had assumed that the intent was to find a common term for the sum of all newly* arrived non-tourist/non-visitor foreigners, including regular immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, … (possibly excluding those who were not given a residence permit). This does not appear to be the case, however, with sources pointing specifically to a group in transit between asylum seeker/refugee and regular resident—to boot with a great vagueness about the details.

*With a great degree of uncertainty as to what “newly” implied. Would e.g. an immigrant remain nyanländ until his death/until he left again, or would his status expire after some time or once a certain other condition had been met?

For instance, the government agency Migrationsverket claims*:

*Here and elsewhere, my translations can be a bit approximate due to both reasons of idiom and the use of many words with a technical meaning. I deliberately keep “nyanländ” and variations thereof untranslated, since these text deal with definitions or explanations of that term. I will translate the Swedish word “person” with its English cognate through-out; however, I note that this is not necessarily the expected formulation in corresponding English texts, which might opt for e.g. “individual”, while many every-day formulations (in the plural) might opt for “people”.

En nyanländ person är någon som är mottagen i en kommun och har beviljats uppehållstillstånd för bosättning på grund av flyktingskäl eller andra skyddsskäl. Även anhöriga till dessa personer anses vara nyanlända. En person är nyanländ under tiden som han eller hon omfattas av lagen om etableringsinsatser, det vill säga två till tre år.

(A nyanländ person is someone who has been received in [by?] a municipality and has been granted a residence permit due to refugee reasons or other protective reasons. Next of kin to these persons are also considered nyanlända. A person is nyanländ during the time he or she is covered by [a specific Swedish law], i.e. two or three years.)

This presumes to redefine not merely “nyanländ” but “nyanländ person”!* To boot, this new meaning is not merely limiting the original meaning, it is in parts contradictory to it, because the same individual can be counted as not nyanländ when he is newly arrived, and then become nyanländ when some time, possibly months, has passed… The tie to a specific law is also problematic, e.g. because laws can change or be abolished, and because it should not be the role of the law to define the meanings of words outside of highly legal contexts. I note that regular immigrants are counter-intuitively not included in this meaning.

*This would e.g. make it impossible to speak of “newly arrived persons” when they are tourists stepping of an airplane or citizens stepping of a train. One might make the argument that this should be seen as an ad hoc definition for a specific context (which is both legitimate and commonly occurring); however, this argument falls on the extremely common use in Swedish media and by Swedish politicians. (And presumably in corresponding discussions within the population.)

The paper Metro has an article that explains the difference between various terms, claiming to draw on official sources. It says*:

*In the section with apparently more formal definitions at the end. The article contains several variations in the main text that I have not additionally analyzed.

Nyanländ – En person som har fått uppehållstillstånd i Sverige, blivit kommunplacerad och fått svenskt personnummer. Personen är alltså inte längre asylsökande och har fått rätt att stanna i Sverige. Under två år kan en nyanländ ansöka om etableringsersättning.

Nyanländ – A person who has received a residence permit in Sweden, been assigned to a municipality, and has received a Swedish [personnummer: an official identifier, similar-but-not-identical to a U.S. social-security number]. The person is, correspondingly, no longer an asylum seeker and has the right to remain in Sweden. For two years, a nyanländ can receive [a specific subsidy].

Note that this attempt at definition makes no mention of the above law, that the restriction in time only covers the subsidy (not the status as nyanländ), and that we have a tie to having been an asylum seeker, which is not necessarily (depending on interpretation) present in the first definition. To boot, at least the mention of personnummer is unclear in its compatibility. (The awarding of a personnummer could conceivably be an automatic effect of something else or it could be a new constraint. I have not researched this further.)

The same article quotes one Pierre Karatzian from Migrationsverket as having said:

Begreppet nyanlända används i olika sammanhang och det är oklart om det finns någon tydlig definition. Ibland används det för att beskriva personer som fått ett uppehållstillstånd.

(The concept nyanlända is used in different context and it is unclear whether some precise definition exists. Sometimes, it is used to describe people who have received a residence permit.)

This use, obviously, would typically include regular immigrants (with some reservations for EU citizens, who underlie special rules).

Swedish Wikipedia does not have a dedicated article, but Swedish Wiktionary has an entry. This entry gives two explanations:

som nyligen har anlänt

(who* has recently arrived)

*This is an imperfect translation of “som”, which has no true equivalent in English. This based on the contextual assumption of “NÅGON som nyligen har anlänt” and the correct translation “SOMEONE who has recently arrived”.

This amounts to the old and established use.

flykting som fått uppehållstillstånd

(refugee who has received a residence permit)

This is a variation of the new use, but which drops the asylum-seeker aspect and focuses directly on refugees. (Most refugees with a residence permit are likely to have applied for asylum, but it is not a logical necessity and there are likely practical exceptions.)

The entry continues by quoting the same page from Migrationsverket that I use above, leading to further questions of interpretation.

To complicate matters, English Wiktionary also has an entry. This entry gives “newly arrived” as a generic translation (compatible with the old and standard use), and then provides an example that lands half-way between the uses:

Den nyanlände invandraren ska studera svenska för invandrare, SFI.

The newly arrived immigrant must study Swedish for Immigrants, SFI.*

*The disputable translation is part of the quote. While “ska” can intend “must”, it is rare; and “is going to” is considerably more likely. Depending on context, “shall”, “should”, “will”, or “wants to” could also be a better translation in terms of intent or idiom. In contrast, “måste” would be correctly translated by “must”.

Note that this example deals with immigrants in general; not (or not specifically*) refugees or asylum seekers.

*Whether these form a subset of immigrants or an independent group can depend on the source.

Excursion on Sweden, SD, and changing attitudes towards immigration:
A quite interesting development is that the party SD was originally seen with great aversion, often even hatred, mostly for its take on immigration and related issues. (Cf. e.g. [4], [5].) Currently, however, it is in contention for the position of Sweden’s largest party, and I seem to recall a recent survey which placed it as a clear number one specifically in the area of immigration policy, with roughly one third of the survey takers rating its policy the highest.

As for the reason for this change, I can only speculate. However, the immense* influx of foreigners to Sweden has likely led to changing opinions, e.g. in that someone who supports free migration in principle now sees a need for pragmatic restrictions for reasons of sustainability. Another reason could be that the presence of SD has made the topic acceptable again and that more people are willing to stand up for an unpopular, non-PC opinion. (Cf. ideas like the Overton window, on which I am planning a text.)

*The influx has been around one percent of the population per year in the last one or two decades; with an upwards trend and a massive additional increase during the recent European migrant crisis. I briefly looked for more detailed numbers, but found this tricky, due to factors like numbers being outdated (and obviously changing over time), the inclusion or exclusion of refugees being unclear, unclear treatment of Swedish emigrants who are now returning, whatnot; and I am not confident in being more specific. To this must be added that these numbers only reflect migration—not demographic changes through higher/lower birth and death rates in various groups.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 4, 2018 at 10:24 pm

Changes to Swedish rape laws

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Themes like the “Rechtsstaat” and government intervention into the lives of the citizens are important in my recent writings, including several upcoming texts. The greater my annoyance as I learned that my native Sweden had just* fallen victim to a moronic rape law, which not only weakens Sweden’s status as a Rechtsstaat, but also potentially interferes considerably with the “normal” behavior of its citizens:

*The law took effect on 2018-07-01, but was decided months earlier. I am unclear how the original decision got by me: I do recall hearing repeatedly of suggestions for laws like this, but was under the impression that they had always been defeated in light of heavy criticism from e.g. jurists and defenders of civic rights. This including lagrådet.

Sexual acts now require an (almost: see below) explicit consent from both* parties. This does not only turn human behavior on its head**, but it also introduces enormous difficulties of interpretation for both the involved parties and, in case of trial, judges (cf. below).

*In theory: In reality, this will likely amount to “the woman must have consented; the man could not conceivably not have consented”. (While the law, obviously, makes no difference between hetero- and homosexual couples, I will assume a heterosexual for the purposes of this text. This partially for simplicity of formulation; partially because the bulk of the problem cases caused by this law are likely to be in heterosexual relationships.)

**Notably, very many sexual interactions include gradual and unspoken escalation by one or both parties, with the expectation that a party that wants to draw a line is explicit about not consenting to a certain step (e.g. in the form of a “not yet”, “not today”, or a slapping away of a hand). With this law, taken literally, both parties would need to give repeated consent at each stage. Absurdly, it is likely theoretically possible for a mutually consensual sexual act to amount to a mutual rape…

To make a brief comparison of parts of the old and new version of the law (Brottsbalk, 6 kap. Om sexualbrott)*/**:

*With some reservations for my translations, especially with regard to legal language, exact legal definitions, etc. Notably, the Swedish original is manifestly not written with clarity in mind.

**Here I focus on the respective “1 §”, dealing with rape/full intercourse and equivalent scenarios. The respective “2 §” extends, with lower punishments, the more-or-less same reasoning to sexual interactions falling short of full intercourse. (“sexuell handling”/“sexual act” other than mentioned in “1 §”.) I lack the specialist knowledge to judge exactly what acts will fall in the realm of which paragraph, and what might fall outside entirely; however, it is clear that an escalation, e.g. going through the “bases” and ending in a “home run”, will require multiple instances of consent. Note that this law, unlike some similar and similarly heavily criticized U.S. college rules, is not targeted at teenagers having their first experiences—it also includes e.g. what happens between indisputable adults, married to each other with children…

Old:

Den som genom misshandel eller annars med våld eller genom hot om brottslig gärning tvingar en person till samlag […]

(Whoever forces a person to intercourse through assault, violence, or threat of criminal deed […])

Detsamma gäller den som med en person genomför ett samlag eller en sexuell handling som enligt första stycket är jämförlig med samlag genom att otillbörligt utnyttja att personen på grund av medvetslöshet, sömn, allvarlig rädsla, berusning eller annan drogpåverkan, sjukdom, kroppsskada eller psykisk störning eller annars med hänsyn till omständigheterna befinner sig i en särskilt utsatt situation.

(The same [punishment etc.] applies to whoever performs intercourse or a sexual act comparable to intercourse according to the first part with a person, through undue exploitation of the person being in a particularly exposed situation through unconsciousness, sleep, serious fear, intoxication or other drug influence, sickness, bodily injury or psychological disturbances, or otherwise [original phrasing is hard to translate, but “otherwise” catches the gist].)

This is not an unreasonable definition, which mostly should work. Off the top of my head, I would offer four, partially related, criticisms: Firstly, the text is open to interpretation when the unwilling party verbally declines but passively complies; here it would be better to be explicit, especially since the involved parties can legitimately experience some such situations differently. Secondly, the circumstances of the second paragraph can be hard to judge, e.g. if one party has an unwarranted fear that the other party is not aware of*, and this would be better combined with a responsibility for the fearing or whatnot party to be explicit about not consenting (if in a position to speak, obviously); this in particular when we come to the vague “otherwise”. Thirdly, in a strict interpretation, this could be seen to rule out some entirely consensual situations. It might e.g. be illegal for two drunk spouses to have sex with each other… Something more along on the lines of a generic “is physically or mentally unable to consent” might be better than such a listing. Fourthly, the “comparable to intercourse” phrasing could, depending on intentions, stretch the rape concept too far, and is certainly a point where different interpretations are possible.**

*To give a specific example that I read of in a Swedish news paper during, likely, the early 1990s: A man and a woman were alone in a sauna. The man requested oral sex. The woman complied, later claiming that she was afraid, but apparently without protesting and apparently with no actual threat uttered by the man. She then proceeded to file rape charges… There might, obviously, have been important details left out of the paper; however, even so, this stands as a type example of why non-consent should always be explicit and the immense problems that can occur otherwise. I note that some feminist extremists actually have proposed variations of retroactive revokal of consent: If a man and a woman have consensual sex today, and she changes her mind tomorrow, then the event was a rape. What happens to a man who has sex with such a feminist in a country with so vague laws?

**This might even be the main source of the problematic extension of the rape concept compared to other countries.

New:

Den som, med en person som inte deltar frivilligt, genomför ett samlag eller en annan sexuell handling som med hänsyn till kränkningens allvar är jämförlig med samlag, […] Vid bedömningen av om ett deltagande är frivilligt eller inte ska det särskilt beaktas om frivillighet har kommit till uttryck genom ord eller handling eller på annat sätt. En person kan aldrig anses delta frivilligt om […]

(Whoever performs intercourse or another comparable sexual act with a person who does not participate voluntarily […] For estimating whether participation is voluntary or not, particular attention should be given to whether/if consent [literally roughly: “voluntariness”] was signaled by word, act, or by some other means. A person can never be considered a voluntary participant if [listing similar to the description of the original].

A first observation is that this leaves some of the criticisms against the original unchanged—and jumps from the ashes into the fire with the rest…

While the “voluntarily” part is obviously a good thing on paper, things get iffy quite fast in practice: How, absent explicit verbal confirmation, can someone be certain of consent? (And how is sex to be practically workable if verbal confirmation must be given again and again?) For instance, a man might take it as a positive invitation if, naked in bed, the woman spreads her legs—but this could have other implications. If she extends this by grabbing his penis and trying to guide him in the right direction, he can now be reasonable certain—but how does she know that he consented to the penis grabbing? The situation is absurd! It is even unclear whether the judge* is allowed to assume consent absent explicit signs, which could reduce the intended protection for the victims.** To boot, we have the “whether/if” in the translation that goes back to an ambiguity in the original; depending on which reading is chosen, the implications could be different.

*Sweden has no jury trials.

**However, from the context of the law and the discussion that I have seen, some explicit sign is almost certainly needed, even if this is not clear from the law it self: The intent is to satisfy feminist demands for explicit consent only.

Some light might have been shed by the new “1 a §”; however, it does more harm than good. The main effect is to introduce a new category of rape—“oaktsam våldtäkt” (roughly, “negligent rape”). This has the implication that if someone is “grovt oaktsam” (“grossly negligent”) when it comes to not noticing the absence of consent, it still counts as rape, no matter whether “mens rea” was present—someone might be raping someone without even knowing it! On the positive side, there seems to be some room for letting off people who acted in good faith; however, this increases the room for interpretation further yet. A special complication is that while the main text speaks of “gross negligence”, the qualifications do not discuss “lesser negligence”—only a lesser deed. Is the intention now lesser negligence or is it rather that someone who is grossly negligent will be left off if the deed, it self, was less serious?

A particular complication is the increased possibility for false accusations, a woman changing her mind after the fact (cf. above), whatnot: Contrary to feminist propaganda, false accusations already form a considerable portion of all accusations. With the combination of added vagueness and greater need for confirmation, the falsely accused will have greater problems with reaching “reasonable doubt”. In a worst case scenario, we could end up with cases like a man and a woman lying naked in bed, consensual sex spontaneously resulting, and the woman later claiming that she never explicitly consented—ergo, he “raped” her. Word-against-word cases were bad enough with the old law; the new makes it that much worse. With a law like this, chances are that fanatic feminist, unfair debater, and false accuser Anna Ardin would have been successful in getting Julian Assange into a Swedish jail (cf. [1] and links from there).

Looking at Swedish “sex legislation” in general, the tendency over the last decades has been depressing, with characteristics like fairness and Rechtsstaatlichkeit being ignored in favor of feminist whims. I note e.g. the absolutely idiotic ban on prostitution: Not only is such a ban highly disputable in it self, but the law actually turns reasonable procedures on their head and makes only the purchase, not the selling*, of sexual services illegal—something so patently absurd that I would not have believed it, had I not been used to the mindset** of Swedish feminists. An interesting consequence of law changes is that Sweden, going by naive interpretation of statistics, has one of the highest rape frequencies in the “civilized” world, despite (a) the male population being exposed to feminist messages from early childhood, (b) Sweden being one of the last countries even someone willing to rape should consider doing it in***. Many see the Swedish laws, including a very wide definition of rape, as the reason for this.****

*When the buyer/seller situation is asymmetric, it is common sense and established practice to make the selling illegal, while giving the buyer some leeway, as e.g. with drugs in some jurisdictions. It is the professional drug-seller that brings the for-own-use buyer to commit a crime—not the other way around. It is the prostitute (i.e. professional sex-seller) that brings the buyer to commit a crime—not the other way around. (Assuming that prostitution is considered illegal in any form—which really should not be the case in modern society.)

**Including e.g. a world-view based on men as oppressors and women as victims and the misogynist attitude that women are incapable of consent and self-determination (unless properly indoctrinated).

***Based on both laws and the unusually large tendency to believe female accusers.

****Others blame the immigrants.

Excursion on rape occurrence:
To put the “problem” of rape in perspective: Looking e.g. at a Wikipedia page titled Rape in Sweden, we can see that there is considerably less than one rape reported per 1000 people and year—even with these wide definitions. (Something feminists like to explain away with the unsubstantiated claim that only a small fraction of all rapes would be reported.) The simple truth is that the vast majority of all women will never in their lives be raped—and the vast majority of all men will never in their lives commit a rape.

Excursion on statutory rape:
The legal fiction of rape through “statutory rape” is a major weakness in many jurisdictions: It is very possible that even consensual sex involving someone from a particular group (notably those below some age) should be illegal. However, the abuse of the term “rape” for cases where this is the sole* cause of illegality is indefensible—they should be referred to by a more appropriate term**. In addition, it is very important that these not be considered strict liability crimes: Not only is strict liability something which must never be part of the criminal code for natural*** persons acting in a private**** capacity, in general, but with sex we often have a disproportionate risk of innocent mistakes and compliance by the “criminal” to the wishes of the “victim”, especially in countries with a high “age of consent”: Consider e.g. someone in the U.S. being picked up by a 17 y.o., who claims to be 21, shows an ID implying 21, is in a bar drinking alcohol, …***** With strict liability and the idiotic term “statutory rape”, this someone would suddenly be a rapist in the eyes of the law.

*Obviously, the term “rape” should be used if the criteria for non-statutory rape are also met.

**Exactly what would depend on the group and the circumstances.

***There might be cases where strict liability makes sense for e.g. corporations and government agencies, for reasons that include their greater expected knowledge of the law, the greater expected general competence level, and the greater risk and/or consequences of abuse.

****For similar reasons as in the previous footnote, an individual acting e.g. as a government agent might need to underlie stricter criteria.

*****Note that many U.S. states have 21 as the legal minimum age for alcohol consumption.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 2, 2018 at 6:37 am

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German World-Cup debacle / Follow-up: Poor decision making

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As I wrote recently concerning the World-Cup game between Sweden and Germany:

As can be seen, the correct decision/the ideal outcome of the game cannot be determined without information that is not knowable at this time. In effect, this game is “unrootable” for me, and the interesting events will largely take place in the respective last of the three games each team plays.

(What is the most likely scenario? Well, on paper Germany is a clear favorite against Sweden, and will likely end up second in the group, behind Mexico, while Sweden and South-Korea are eliminated. How it plays out in real life is yet to be seen.)

By now I am left almost shocked: Germany very, very barely defeated the Swedes, on overtime—but…

…Sweden won the group and Germany ended up last(!), something almost inconceivable before the tournament.*

*Germany is not only the defending champion, but also came of a long line of good results (until the last few preparation games, where things started to fall apart).

That Sweden, in today’s third round, could beat Mexico was not entirely unexpected, after the two teams having similar showings against Germany* and South-Korea; however, the 3–0 was highly surprising. Germany, in turn, should have beaten South-Korea, and that would have made the dream scenario of both “my” teams advancing come true—a scenario that seemed quite unlikely after the initial German failure against Mexico. Unfortunately, Germany continued a trend of not actually scoring, even being the superior team in terms of play; the result at 90 minutes was 0–0; and during the desperate** German attacks during stoppage time, South-Korea scored twice…

*While Mexico won, it was mostly a matter of luck; while Sweden lost, it was on a last minute action during stoppage time.

**Even a one goal victory, given the Sweden–Mexico result, would have been enough for advancement; any non-victory implied non-advancement.

This leaves us with an absurd situation, with Germany trailing even South-Korea and having the likely worst result in its World-Cup history—despite beating the eventual group winner and despite being the better team in all three of its matches.

As for Sweden, I note that it has now been part of the elimination of three supposedly strong teams: After beating out the Netherlands (2014/“reigning” World-Cup third-placer) for second place in its qualification group, multiple champion Italy was beaten in a play-off, and now reigning champion Germany is gone too. (Although, admittedly, Sweden was the only team not to beat the Germans…)

An interesting observation is that Sweden has mounted reasonably successful teams before and after the national-team career of Zlatan, but not during it. Unlike some other greats, he never really delivered in the national team, and the depth behind him appears to have been lower than before and after.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 27, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Follow-up: Poor decision making

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Sometimes it is impossible to make a good decision, even with a sound attitude and complete knowledge of the knowable facts. My current dilemma regarding the FIFA World Cup is a good example*:

*Except in as far as following sports and/or basing team favoritism on factors like nationality can be considered irrational: I could always decide to not care at all…

My native Sweden and my adopted Germany are in the same group and will presently play each other. Which team should I root for?

In the four-team group with two teams advancing, the ideal would be that both “my” teams advance. However, this is tricky: Germany unexpectedly* lost against Mexico, while Sweden expectedly won against South-Korea. Should Mexico (as expected) win against South-Korea**, the only way to get both teams in would be for Germany to win both its remaining matches (including against Sweden), Sweden to win against Mexico, and having the goal difference play out fortunately between the three 6-point teams. More likely, considering the presumed weakness of the South-Koreans, one of the teams will make it and the other fail.

*In such statements, I go by the official seeding, which had Germany 1st, Mexico 2nd, Sweden 3rd, and South-Korea 4th.

**The match was completed during my writing: Mexico did win.

In that scenario, however, which team would I rather see advancing? Sweden is a little bit closer to my heart, but Germany has a far better chance at being successful in the knock-out phase. What if Sweden were to advance, only to lose immediately in the next first knock-out round?

Also, if Sweden* is the team that advances, it would beneficial to be the group victor. For that to happen, a loss against Germany would be very problematic. On the other hand, if Sweden were to beat Germany, the dream scenario of both teams advancing is pretty much ruled out. A draw is not that good either, because it (a) means that only two points (instead of three for a victory) are awarded, (b) could lead to Sweden simultaneously missing the group victory and Germany being eliminated.

*Ditto for Germany, but their chances of a group victory are currently smaller.

Then again, should South-Korea upset Mexico, we have a completely different set of scenarios to look into.

As can be seen, the correct decision/the ideal outcome of the game cannot be determined without information that is not knowable at this time. In effect, this game is “unrootable” for me, and the interesting events will largely take place in the respective last of the three games each team plays.

(What is the most likely scenario? Well, on paper Germany is a clear favorite against Sweden, and will likely end up second in the group, behind Mexico, while Sweden and South-Korea are eliminated. How it plays out in real life is yet to be seen.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 23, 2018 at 7:13 pm