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Get Out. Get the Hell Out: Musings on the Summer News in Norway

Posted on July 22, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Get out. Get the hell out:

Musings on the Summer News


Nice to be globalized, isn’t it? Didn’t we look forward to this for like, well, perhaps the last 10 or 20 years? After all, we are most of what we know exists in the universe that is alive. (By ‘we,’ I mean everything on the Earth that can think and that is alive including whales.) Most of what we know is happening on this planet. But, what? Have to live together in the same space? Forget it. We know we have to, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. And we don’t do that very well all the time because, well, our moods vary.


Plus, why not kill whales when we know we can, like Norway does, despite the global ban? Isn’t that part of the ongoing discussion related to the ‘civilization of the species?’ By that, I here mean just homo sapiens – which, by the way, means, rather pathetically, ‘wise man.’ Don’t talk to us about killing whales, Norway says: talk to us about global climate change.


Back to the summer news. To wit, “Berlin expels American spy chief as strains grow,” headlines the International New York Times on July 11th. Apparently, the CIA’s “station chief, who has not been identified” “has been asked to leave Germany.” Well, if he hasn’t been identified, couldn’t he just disappear instead? So they asked another CIA officer, who said “It’s one thing to kick lower-level officers out; it’s another thing to kick the chief of station out,” which, frankly, seems like a no-brainer to me, because, well, they are different.


Then there’s the latest row over the Obama administration’s choice for Norway’s next Ambassador to Norway from the United States, a Mr. George J. Tsunis. I try not to weigh in on such arguments – primarily because I worked in the Illinois state’s bureaucracy for enough years to know that no boss runs the show; the people who work there as civil servants do. Occasionally, a political appointee can claim to have improved matters more than they detracted from the generally tortoise pace of things of State, although that’s also rather rare.


But the fuss continues: The opinion page headline reads: “Fabian Stang har rett til å fortelle presidenten hva han mener,” meaning that Fabian Stang, the Mayor of Oslo, has the right to tell the President what he thinks, with the tag line, “Skiv til Obama!” or Write to Obama! According to the Aftenposten newspaper of July 20, quite a few people have gotten on the ‘No to Tsunis for Ambassador to Norway’ bandwagon. They claim he shouldn’t even get in, let alone be told to ‘Get out.’ They want him gone before he arrives. He’s unqualified and the whole appointment smacks of political pork. I do something for you (like give Obama lots of money for his campaign), and you do something for me (like send me to Norway as Ambassador from the U.S.). I don’t know; I think the pork scales don’t really ‘add up’ on this one. If I had something to say to Mr. Tsunis, it would be, “Listen, you don’t really want to move here, you know? You think you know how it would be to live in Norway, but frankly, it’s not all a bowl of cherries – there are lots of problems – most of which you can’t influence no matter who you are, and if you try to argue any sense into the government, you’d surely fail since they are not interested in listening to anyone who is not, well, them.


But no, in this latest article, it is noted that the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang (who I really really like, besides the fact that his name is Fabian and I still have my Fabian tear pillow which I actually cried real crocodile tears into when I was a teenager), would like to send President Obama a letter regarding Mr. Tsunis’s appointment – to express several points of opinion on this. The main one is, the Aftenposten confides, that never has the U.S. planned to send an Ambassador who is so thoroughly unqualified for the position, and Oslo is intrinsically engaged at all levels because that’s where he would live and where the Embassy is. Tsunis may be unqualified but I could have told him that. But should a Mayor of a city send a letter to the U.S. President? Well, if I can, Fabian, you can too. We have more democracy in the U.S. than you do here in Norway, anyway. Go for it.


Why, Fabian, I once sent a letter to Norway’s Secretary of State, Kjell Magne Bondevik. He was to host a conference sponsored by Norway against terrorism in New York City associated with the United Nations. I felt I could assist in that work. I also needed a job and was seeking appropriate connections desperately. He did not even write back. No one did. But once you move to Norway, you find out that no one ever does. It’s like we well-qualified foreigners are invisible, which is how Norwegians like us best.


While we’re on the subject of banishing people, let’s include the needy and unemployed, who are banished from Svalbard, the island Norway calls its own, located within the Arctic Circle. According to the New York Times of July 11, a remarkably good issue, “Arctic archipelago banishes the needy.” Svalbard’s Governor, Odd Olsen Ingero, has a police staff of 6, one detention cell, no one has been locked up since last summer, and that was only for two days. Why, you ask? Because you aren’t allowed to be unemployed, for one thing. As the article notes, Ayn Rand would love this place. If you aren’t employed, you are deported. “If you don’t have a job,” says Ingero,” you can’t live here.” Great. I love it.


Tell this (again) to the Norwegian government, whose most recent manifestation as a Høyre–FrP mix is less like a conservative government, and more like a quiz on Conservative Politics 101. Summer’s agenda was to legalize Segways, so parliamentarians had a chance to try them around town. Let’s see – shall we pass a law against begging? Sure. Send them back to Romania, too. Shall we deport the homeless? Yes, let’s – just don’t use more money on doing it. Some time ago, the Norwegian Supreme Court said no: one cannot let families micro-manage their immigration acceptance based purely on disadvantaging their own children in order to create their ultimate case for approval (a good decision). No, scream all the bleeding heart Save-The-Children brigades across the land, full of pity for kids that managed to learn a language they should never have been given a chance to learn in the first place, kids who are the pawns in their own parents’ games. And because the budget for getting rid of people is so high, cut the budget – so what if the applicants have to live in prison-style living quarters until we tell them they can’t stay . . . in 2 or 3 years. Because we’re backlogged!


The ‘cucumber news’ of summer streams on. Yes, they call it that here: “agurk nytt,” which news is doubly funny when it has to do with cucumbers, which Norwegians love and eat in great quantities, especially in summer.


Still, the prize for best ‘Get Out’ stories of summer come from Russia and Israel. As for Russia, they just want what they can’t have – without taking it, so everyone who doesn’t agree in the Ukraine should just get out. Which some are doing. As for Israel, the situation is a little different. From the perspective of most Norwegians, who have plenty of Palestinian refugees among their numbers, these are the folks who got permission to live on specific tracts of land, and then began wholescale takeovers of all the land around that they could manage to grab, fight for, wall off, and defend by tooth and bloody nail. Note I am not speaking for myself. Not only do they want the Palestinians to be gone – off the Palestinians’ own land, but to get out of sight. Out of sight is, after all, out of mind – when it’s on the other side of an apartheid Wall, completed in 2005 which runs for 422 miles and costs Israel $260 million dollars annually to maintain – and which helps to separate Israel from its nearest neighbors, with whom it should make peace and trade for the good of all. Therefore, as Israel’s Prime Minister told CNN yesterday, he is saddened when he hears of innocent civilian Palestinians being killed. After all, he would not be able to see it so he has to just hear about it. And is he really? I don’t know. I’ve been watching Israeli troops murder Palestinians since I could watch TV. I won’t say how many years that is, but now that you know I’ve got a Fabian pillow, the cat’s out of the bag. What I can’t understand is where the people who keep killing each other and getting killed come from. Wouldn’t they eventually run out of people in this area? They certainly won’t run of out of guns and weapons. Now that’s important. Call the arms traders today. They don’t have to get out.


Nice to be globalized, isn’t it? Privacy used to be a protected right, and now it’s just a checked box and an unwanted toolbar. Ask Ask.


Kids used to hang out at Utøya solving the world’s pressing problems, and today it’s a memorial to a stupid killing spree that happened three years ago, today. At least this year they’re making plans to get back to business next summer out there, not a moment too soon, in my opinion.


Ambassadors used to intervene for the good of their citizens in their countries of assignment, and now it’s either a spying mission or a pork job.


So go one’s thoughts as the fjord glimmers in the afternoon sun during one of Norway’s warmest and most beautiful summers on record.


I guess the upside is: Transparency is also improved. More people at all levels and in all places are going to be held more accountable. Maybe whale killing in Norway and by Norway will also someday stop. There’s always hope in the air that we will eventually discover ways to create sustainable biodiversity and save the planet’s species before it’s too late.


So look up. We can at least hope you won’t see a drone. Me, I’ll be collecting cherries for the jam that will help us survive the dark winter. Meanwhile, get out into the fjord and jump in today – it’s cold and feels wonderful.


**


“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

― Henry James

 

Norwegian Mountain Rules

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 5:55 AM

Norwegians are out in force this year over Easter break, pounding and skiing the mountain trails, and so, as usual, the media are warning everyone to be careful on their hikes and trips and come home safely.


Norway has rules for how to do that. The Norwegian Touring Association, DNT (Det Norsk Turistforening) publishes the ‘Mountain Rules’ you should know at their website, in Norwegian at: http://www.turistforeningen.no/fjellvettreglene/ .


I don’t know the origin of these rules, but they are grilled into Norwegians at a young age, as well as into most immigrants’ brains. They are common knowledge, a part of Norwegian culture, and can be recited from memory by many, with ready recall.


Let’s call them, in English, the Norwegian Rules for Hiking in the Mountains, although they are equally useful for most nature hikes. Frankly, since perhaps 99% of Norway is pure Nature, they are pretty useful most anywhere.


Here’s an English version I’ve created - for your enjoyment and education, based on the DNT’s ‘real McCoy’:


1. Do not set out on a long hike without training.

This applies to both physical, psychological and intellectual readiness, as well as to equipment. By extension, it is also suggested that ‘practice makes perfect.’ If you have any opportunity to conduct a thorough analysis of your plan, you should do it – and exercise your planning skills by identifying solutions to situations that are both similar and dissimilar to those you have encountered in the past. It is also suggested that if you are going to be out for over a week, you take at least one day’s rest from travelling.


2. Tell somebody where you are going.

The extension here is that at least one other person who is not with you knows where you plan to be when and can and will track you, has your contact information and you carry theirs, and in a way that suggests you plan to be contactable at a specific time and place and way (ex: phone that works). When travelling to places where you can register, such as mountain cabins, then do so.


3. Show respect for the weather.

This means not just carrying your umbrella, but knowing what the entire pattern is that is expected, as well as the chances of changes in the weather, given the season, and conditions such as wind-strength, wind-chill, avalanche-chance, mudslide chance, etc.


4. Be prepared against bad weather and cold, even on short tours.

This has to do with preparing yourself by carrying the proper equipment and selecting that on a conservative basis. People suggest you should always take a backpack of some sort and proper mountain gear, even if you are on what you think will be a short trip, due to the fact that things can develop in ways you did not plan. Getting lost, twisting an ankle, falling unexpectedly – all of these suggest that you foresee the possibility and carry a bit more than you would otherwise think was needed.


5. Listen to experienced mountain experts.

Those who have gone where you are going before you should be a resource you use. This has to do with being instructable and instructed by those who have gone to where you are going – before you went there. Look it up! Find it out! Know the specific risks and the challenges.


6. Use a map and compass.

A map and a compass (and knowing how to use both) are of course essential. Always use the latest editions of maps. Be familiar with how to use the map with a compass. Trust the compass. Nowadays, tools are available to improve your chances of keeping track of your location, with GPS available in hand-carries with good trail maps to boot.


7. Do not go alone.

Besides the fact that it’s generally a happier result when two go instead of one, it’s also giving you an edge if either of you need assistance. It’s not that you don’t think well enough to go alone; it’s just that it is much easier for two people to think smartly about an unexpected situation they find themselves in than, yes, one person.


8. Turn back in time: there is no disgrace in turning around. (Ingen skam å snu!)

As the Norwegians say, “Forsøk ikke å trosse været.” This means, to be direct: Attempt NOT to DEFY the weather. We know – you’re bold, you’re brave, and maybe you’re even very masculine and, of course, you are able to go forward. But are you strong enough to turn around and go back? That’s the question that kills too many would-be mountain-conquerors.


9. Conserve your energy and dig yourself down into the snow if necessary.

This is the ‘igloo’ approach to saving your life – where you create an insulated place to hold up if you get caught out in a snowstorm – or look for that type of shelter where you can survive while things are going bad and before you are rescued. They key here is to do the right thing in time to be prepared for difficult conditions.


Well, I hope these fjellvetreglene, that is ‘mountain rules you should know,’ are enjoyed by many. Perhaps they will even save you, dear Reader.  Save you?  From who? From - yourself, of course! That is, when you are out in the wild mountains of beautiful nature, wherever you are in the world.  Enjoy!

 

Define Sequestration. I'm glad you asked.

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 11:50 AM

In Norway, the old snow is starting to lay on the hills like wrinkles in a white sheet. My husband and I are sitting at our kitchen table, reading news and, well, we’re sequestered. We’re sick. The kids can’t visit and we can’t visit. It’s a little like sequestration, actually. It feels like a punishment, for what, maybe living the good life, which we also do.


As everyone who knows English knows, sequestration is what happens when you put something or someone in a room by themselves or with others that also don’t want to be there, a place where they can’t get out or do anything interesting. They also are not allowed to holler to those who are on the other sides of the walls. They’re like invisible. They do that to Norwegians who can’t turn their necks very well when driving in Arizona. Really, they get sequestration - in Arizona jails and prison, like John Kristoffer Larsgard.


As an American, a culture watcher and an English professional, I have to keep an eye on words. I therefore had to note the weekend edition of the International Herald Tribune, page 5, column 1, which sounds like most of the other thousands of sound bites heard through the fog in the last few days, “Mr. Obama summoned the four top congressional leaders to the Oval Office in an effort to discuss how to move forward after the failure to avoid the cuts, known as sequestration, White House aides said.“


First, it was the fiscal cliff which, if we went over it, who knew what might happen and since we did not, most folks now think we really should have given it a try and seen what happened. Now it is sequestration, which has, somehow, happened. I was ready to blame White House aides for causing this problem with the definition of sequestration, until I discovered it emanates from a much more dangerous source, the Congressional Research Service. This appears to be a real office, located in Washington, D.C., which means they are completely in the dark on these English points. Besides, anyone who is defining sequestration and is also concerned with hiring a geospatial information systems analyst has their net spread too widely, let’s say.


Norwegians know how to focus on things. So I read the sentence to my Norwegian husband and asked him if he knew what sequestration meant. He said, “Er, sequencing?” and I said, “No, sequestration.” “Isn’t that when someone is frustrated when they are at sea?,” he replied. “Why, yes,” I replied. Like the clever Norwegian he is, he has captured the new and modernized core concept completely. I then corrected his understanding with my base-English knowledge. “No, actually, I think it has to do with being stuck somewhere and not being able to get out.” “Well, the congressional leaders were not trapped in the Oval office, were they? They went there of their own accord,” he ventures. Let’s give him that one, I thought. “No, they’re not trapped,” I agree. “No, they’re not trapped,” he continues, gaining ground, “They spent millions to get there, and now that they’re there, they find out the job is not so funny.” My husband means “fun.” He also means the job of being a member of Congress, not the job of going to visit the President.


After a few minutes, it became clear that someone needed to set the record straight – and tell the world what sequestration is and what it has to – or should have to - do with the current mess in Congress. I will try to do that in simple English, since, as everyone knows, sequestration is one of the those special words we don’t use very often – because it sounds very complex.


English has a wonderful way of building up the usages of words in specific areas, such that we can attempt to get at the core meaning and accepted usages of this word by studying its historical usage. Linguists, in addition, feed words into computers to see how often we use them, when, where and why. Since I am not a linguist, I’ll explicate in the old fashioned way – by reference.
The Oxford English Dictionary shows the word, sequestration, was first recorded as being used in the year 1450, with appearances in 1475 and 1581. By then, it referred to offenders who were excluded from the Sacraments. By 1854, it had to do with “delinquents” (yes, delinquents) who were punished by being kept from the Christian service (not that hard to take probably), the food table (very harder to take, probably) and common meetings (easy to take, probably).


Fast forward to now. The Congressional Research Service is reported to define sequestration as “a term used to describe the practice of using mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if the cost of running the government exceeds either an arbitrary amount or the the gross revenue it brings during the fiscal year.”


Excuse me, but this is counter-intuitive to the actual meaning of the word. Since sequestration has to do with someone or something being kept from someone or something, it relies upon the premise that there is something or someone to be kept away from. And that the something or someone is kept away. Implementing spending cuts when there is no money in the money pot does not qualify as doing something to something. It does qualify as doing something to nothing, but that then does not satisfy the initial premise upon which the word was created and used down through the centuries. It also then does not carry any of its own emotional weight, as the word is supposed to do.


UspoliticsAbout.com (an oxymoron) continues, “Simply put, sequestration is the employment of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts in the face of annual budget deficits.” Again, this statement simply confirms my point.


The Congressional Research Service defines sequestration:
"In general, sequestration entails the permanent cancellation of budgetary resources by a uniform percentage. Moreover, this uniform percentage reduction is applied to all programs, projects, and activities within a budget account.
However, the current sequestration procedures, as in previous iterations of such procedures, provide for exemptions and special rules. That is, certain programs and activities are exempt from sequestration, and certain other programs are governed by special rules regarding the application of a sequester.”


This makes sequestration a two-faced taker, what the Norwegians would call ‘double-moral,’ something they are sure the U.S. does a lot of. Besides, to be exempt from sequestration should mean that one is free to move about. Most public programs in the U.S. these days barely have enough flexibility to wag their social tails, let alone try to move about.


We know. It’s a big laugh contest, a giant drama. Why else would David Falcheck and 
hundreds of other journalists write stuff like this:

“Days away, sequestration - the dramatic federal spending cuts - may seem like the crisis du jour for the gridlocked U.S. Congress, but the impact would be far-reaching, impacting everything from food inspection, to air traffic control, to defense.” -David Falcheck for newsitem.com


It’s quite scary, but that French touch really helps the medicine go down. Still, why are they holding the lack of money in a room and not letting it out?


I suggest the following alternative definitions be applied, despite the green-eyeshade crowd at CRS:


Option 1. Sequestration is “a legal writ authorizing a sheriff or commissioner to take into custody the property of a defendant who is in contempt until the orders of a court are complied with.” In this sense of the word, Congressional leaders are in contempt of their public duty, and the Sheriff has the right to lock up their mansions and fancy cars until they come up with a decent budgetary arrangement, which, by the way, IS one of their duties. (Thanks to Merriam-Webster online for these.)


Option 2: Sequestration is “a deposit whereby a neutral depositary agrees to hold property in litigation and to restore it to the party to whom it is adjudged to belong.” Now, at least, we are working with a fiscal-related definition. In this case, the money that isn’t there, which is the taxpayers’ money, should be held by a neutral party, say, the President, until the fighting in Congress is over, at which time it should be given to the public. Well, after all, it is theirs. I trust the President to do that.


A third sense is worth noting for its effect on quelling bad-talking, as noted in the following classic example usage: “During their sequestration, jurors were not allowed to speak to reporters.” That’s right. Congress should be sequestered and not be allowed to speak to anyone – until they come to some important decisions on the budget, agreed and common decisions.


Last but not least, the word, sequestration, holds a strong sense of being alone. I’m inclined to think of the poor sod who landed in a dirty locked room, circa 1550, with no bread or water, for stealing an apple from the rich farmer’s garden. Of course, Congress would like you to think of it this way, too. After all, haven’t they done everything they could do? And now, sequestration has come to them anyway. And yet, Merriam-Webster shows the following (questionable) example in the ‘lonely’ category: “What would you bring for sequestration on a desert island?” This is easily modified to read, “What would you bring to a Congressional party?” Answer: Your money, of course, so you could buy some votes.


 

My husband has long ago lost interest in this, deciding to walk the dog on the ice instead. My balance is not as good. As for me, it’s time to consider today’s dinner menu, and the work waiting for me in my office. What I won’t be doing is holding my breath when some smartie-pants in Washington suddenly realize that sequestration, as they define it, is hurting real people who desperately need the social safety net that our modern tax, budgetary and social service systems were meant to and should provide - on an efficient and ongoing basis.

 


John Kristoffer Larsgard - Part 4

Posted on April 29, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Here, I continue my translation of VG’s coverage of the events surrounding John Kristoffer Larsgard, and my comment.

 

Wednesday, April 25th:

 

Larsgard can appeal.

If he is judged and receives a sentence, he can go to the Arizona Court of Appeals. Here, the accused can present legal objections, the method the court case would be carried out. The sentencing and clear constitutional questions, explained criminal law attorney, Michael Harwin in Tucson, Arizona. Harwin has not assembled the Larsgard story, but the attorney understands that the judgment is considered severe.

 

The Poor Man

Such has his life been behind the wall

Holbrook. Overextended, must Live Larsgard, 68, yesterday see her son be hastened out of the courtroom, strongly guarded by American police.

 

“I don’t know so much about prisons in general in Arizona, but I unfortunately know a lot about Navajo County Jail, where he has sat until now. And it is a scary place, completely hellish. The way they have treated my son in these seven months is nearly impossible to believe,” she tells VG.

 

Racial conflicts and violence:

Wearing orange pants, iron handcuffs and foot chains, Larsgard was taken promptly out of the courtroom after the judgment was stated in the local courthouse last evening Norwegian time. Over-filled jails where racial conflicts, gang pressures and violence imbue daily life are believed to be what waits the Norwegian behind the walls in Arizona. Until now he has sat in Navajo County – and now will be transferred to another custodial institution in Arizona.

 

“Since April 4th, he has been newly sat in isolation. My son is completely sure that this is because they want it to show on his papers when he is transferred to a state prison that it has been necessary to set him in isolation. This scares us, that his custodial situation will be worsened.

 

How shall you get to visit him in prison?

“I have no idea. I live in Oslo. It takes between 12 and 15 hours just to fly here,” says Liv Larsgard.

 

Becoming tough:

“This coming up is going to be tough. The poor man,” says Thore Henki Holm Hansen, 68, to VG. The motorcycle gang the Outlaws’ European chief was imprisoned for 7 years for narcotics offenses in a prison in Miami, up until 2004. “Behind the wall, there are their own rules. My only advice to him is that he must weave himself into a group in the prison. To sail his own sea in that system is difficult,” says Hansen.

 

The Swede, Annika Ostberg, was sentenced to assisting in murder in 1982 and was sentenced to 28 years in prison in California. She says it was tough behind the wall in the southern States. “Prisons there are overcrowded. He must plan to be imprisoned in a room together with 50 others. To be alone is impossible, but it could help to survive,” says Ostberg to VG. “The most important rules are not to say anything, but see everything and hear everything. To be with a group is essential,” she states. “There is much violence, narcotics and sexual maltreatment in American prisons, unfortunately. Prison guards see what they want to see,” says Ostberg, who in 2009 was transferred to a Swedish prison. Hansen confirms that there is still sexual mistreatment among the prisoners. “He must find a way to form an image and get respect. It is not just a joke that one doesn’t bend over after the soap in the shower,” he says.

 

In Arizona, it is common that the sentenced are getting out after having served one-half their time. There are 15 prisons in the state, but it is uncertain at this writing which prison Larsgard must go to. “I’m no expert on the state of the prisons in Arizona. My impression is that they are very different from place to place. Some of them have the reputation of being very tough,” says Larsgard’s attorney, Criss Candelaria to VG.

 

“He is, despite necessity, to be imprisoned at least 85% of his sentence before he can come out. It is important for me now to try to hold him up mentally. He must think that he can go further. In fact, it could have been much worse today than 7 ½ years in prison,” says Candelaria.

 

Full prisons:

Thomas Ugelvik at the Institute for Criminology and Judicial Sociology at the University of Oslo also brings forward overcrowded prisons in the U.S. as a huge challenge. He doesn’t think it will be easy for Larsgard to serve his sentence. “Arizona can be distinguished from Texas and California on the number of prisoners. The prisons are often very full and it is not normal that one would get one’s own cell. One is housed much tighter with the other prisoners, and, as a result, it is important who is serving time with whom. One can, for example, hang out in a prison gym room with hammocks. The quality of life that coordinates with the social services and school work is not equally available in American prisons, as it is in Norwegian ones. Often there is a private contractor that is running these institutions. This reduces the level of the prison experience, when those who run it shall make money. Here in Norway, prisons are run from the perspective of a humanitarian thought-set, and one has quite equal rights within as outside the walls. This is probably not the case in Arizona,” says Ugelvik.

 

Amnesty International has recently released a report which butchers the conditions in prisons in Arizona. The Norwegian State Department (UDI) indicates to VG that 7 Norwegians sat imprisoned in the U.S. as of January 1, 2012. These are for violations of the law such as murder, fraud and narcotics smuggling.

 

“In such a small local community, there are various standards for both police and the legal system. I have lived south in the state and driven by the place Larsgard was sentenced. This is a country [i.e. hick] town! And it is still this way in the wild West, that one has a great faith in hard lines when it comes to handling the law,” says professor and U.S. expert Ole O. Moen.

 

Prison in the U.S.

According to the American Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2.2 million adults sat in prison in the U.S. at the end of 2010. This amounted to approximately .7 percent of the population of adult citizens. . . . (etc.)

That ends the August 25th coverage in VG.

 

Reader, back to the prisoner, John. After the sentencing hearing last Tuesday (at which the man who assaulted John and broke his nose last Fall got his ‘revenge finger’ moment . . . as if that was deserved, which appears to have taken place without any reported judicial comment or, well, a citation for contempt of court? After John is taken out of the courtroom, as the story above ends, John is feeling down. (Surprise surprise.) His face seems sad, so the guards escorting him claimed. As a result, he was taken to the cell where all of his clothes were taken from him. Just a preventative measure, as he might try to commit suicide, you know. He was left naked from immediately after the sentencing hearing - until the next morning, Wednesday last week, when, unexpectedly, some journalists showed up to visit him. The guards hurried up and gave him his clothes to throw on so he could attend to their questions. They had so many of their own questions and their time together was limited. John didn’t have a chance to tell them he’d been kept stripped in solitary since the hearing.

 

John is scheduled to be transferred to an ‘assessment center’ very soon, where he is expected to be for 1-2 months while they determine which prison he is going to be sent to. First, it's said they will shave his head. His mother is told she cannot see him at all during this time.

 

-June Edvenson

John Kristoffer Larsgard - Part 3

Posted on April 29, 2012 at 3:50 AM

I am commenting on recent news in the John Kristoffer Larsgard case, held in Arizona, involving a Norwegian young man and his mother, Liv Larsgard. In this blog entry, I am reviewing VG’s coverage of the Larsgard case published in their Norwegian edition of April 25, 2012. I am also introducing information not included in the paper. The VG translation into English is mine, and I take the liberty of commenting where I find it appropriate.  I apologize for any embarrassment my comments may cause to individuals, and assure you that my only interest is in investigating what has actually occurred in this situation, a situation which I find both engaging and urgent.

 

John Kristoffer Sentenced to Prison for 7 ½ Years

Holbrook, Arizona. Inside the courtroom, John Kristoffer Larsgard, 33, stifling sobs, gives a tearful guarantee that he never had the intent to hurt anyone. But his statement falls on deaf ears.

 

Gives him the finger:

This, despite the fact that the main person in the case, aside from Larsgard himself, Mike Mendoza, shows his open contempt for the accused’s attempt to beg for forgiveness. In the middle of the long solo request by Larsgard, Mendoza gets up abruptly, goes quickly toward the door at the back of the courtroom, advances, and then goes out. Then he turns himself again towards Larsgard in the open courtroom door and gives his long [fuck you] finger.

 

“This shows you what kind of people they are, who have gotten Larsgard into prison, who have witnessed against him, the entire time with similar declarations, always consistent with one another. They are altogether within Mendoza’s circle of friends. He has the police, the prosecuting authority, and the jury believing in him 100 percent, zero percent on Larsgard. This is what is such a scandal,” says defense attorney, Criss Candelaria to VG right after the sentencing was read out, shortly after 10 p.m. Norwegian time yesterday evening.

 

What got Mendoza to react was that Larsgard said that what got him to go into a full panic was that Mendoza smashed him in the face such that he broke his nose. “Had he just come calmly up to me, instead of punching me, none of us would have been sitting here today,” said Larsgard.

 

VG has read the police interview of Mendoza in which he confirms that he hit Larsgard in the face. “The idea was to punch him unconscious – so that the wild-man-driving he was doing would stop” was the explanation given police. VG talked to Mike Mendoza about an hour before the episode in the courtroom. “We asked for an interview, but he refused that because he had been advised to not talk with the media by the prosecution.” Similarly, none of the other witnesses have wished to talk with VG at any time.

 

Reader, I interrupt: The case is supposedly all over, and the prosecutor has told the witnesses not to talk to the media. Why? Is the case going to start to fall apart if they do start talking? How much careful coaching went into creating the facade they needed to convict? Perhaps it’s all a house of cards, ready to fall when the least touch pricks it. Seems suspicious to me. And it’s too bad the witnesses are all in line on this. Like little soldiers. Of course, they probably have something to lose if they talk . . . and to gain if the prosecutor’s ‘discretion’ should ever have to fall on them. You know prosecutors do have discretion as to what crimes they prosecute, and who they prosecute. No skin off this prosecutor’s back - I mean, to take on a ‘non-resident,’ and a genuine foreigner at that.

 

I also can’t help but wonder why the prosecutor didn’t charge Mendoza with aggravated battery, which he seems clearly chargeable for – and possibly clearly guilty of - and which is a ‘crime.

 

Also, Reader, if someone punched you in the nose so hard, through the driver’s side window while you were stopped and parked, and coming at you from the back of the car, not the front, so you had no clue, and then they actually broke your nose, and your blood started spurting all over the car, might you begin to drive rather erratically? At least to get away? At least until you felt you had to stop and call 911, which these Norwegians did? Back to the article:

 

Is in shock:

Neither the witnesses in the case nor the judge, John Lamb, showed any prayer. The judge should just find the correct sentence, since a jury had already found him guilty on several points. “I am in shock. This is horrible. I don’t know what I can do with myself, what I shall do now. That they could do something like this to my son,” says Liv Larsgard. “These witnesses have ganged up against my son and they are lying. I know that, because I was there the entire time.”

 

Liv came over from Norway on Sunday and has gotten to meet with her son one time before yesterday’s court session. When she, during a recess, tries to pass her son a half-bottle of Coca-Cola, it is immediately jerked out of her hands. Crushed, she realizes defeat.

 

The attempt by the attorney to get a new trial was denied already by the judge at the opening of the [sentencing] court session. In addition, the prosecutor came forward with a bunch of new comments in the case: They had gotten together material showing Larsgard had been in trouble earlier in the U.S., especially at the University of Alabama about 10 years ago. That was discussed by VG in the past. A large part of the time in the court session of this date was spent discussing how relevant that might be to the case at hand. The judge approved that the information could be brought into the case, despite the fact that nothing in those circumstances resulted in Larsgard either being judged or fined for something.

 

Reader, this is just amazing! As the coverage has already noted, John has gotten into trouble before. Is he permitted to have a history similar certainly to more than a million other young men, that is, without ending up with a jail sentence for being unliked? Perhaps a person who doesn’t fit into the social circle that he is supposed to fit into? Who is intelligent as can be, and ends up deciding he doesn’t care if folks don’t like him – he’ll live his life as he sees fit, and he doesn’t hurt anyone while he does it.

 

What stories about him from his past - of being mobbed and harassed, or responding poorly to some people – what they do, for me, is just confirm that people who are looking for someone to mob and harass will often decide that it is him that should ‘get it.’ It is the Lord of the Flies. I, too, respond pretty poorly to victimization. I start yelling. I get angry. I try to make room for myself to get out of it. And you? And what does that have to do with the case which is now already over and whose record should be closed?

 

As long as we are bringing up prejudicial and inflammatory information, what about Mendoza? A source tells us that he sells cigarettes. And equipment. What kind? The kind used to make methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug subject to high rates of abuse, prevalent on the underground drug market, a drug responsible for destroying lives, health, families and communities. Maybe you can also make baby food with methamphetamine equipment. I have no idea. Just telling you what I heard.

 

Back to VG:

 

Relieved:

Larsgard’s strongest supporter here in Arizona, Sandy Curry, 68, who has become a close friend to the mother, Liv, said that, despite developments, she was relieved after the sentencing hearing. “The reason that I am a bit happy is that I unfortunately know what these people could have found him for [sentenced him to]. That he got 7 ½ years, minus the 230 days he has sat in prison detained, is therefore a relief. Of course I think, as I have thought the entire time, that this case was idiocy from one end to the other, that it never should have been brought. He should have gotten a fine for irresponsible driving in Winslow, and then the police ‘wave him on,’ said Sandy Curry to VG.

 

Reader, I can’t stop interrupting. The police did not wave goodbye. Why was that? Because they were Iranian terrorists. Yep. I turn to Liv. “We parked and made phone calls to Dalton Auto to try to find them and get our luggage. He said ‘Stay where you are, I’ll send a driver to find you and take you to your luggage.” John was then smashed in the face through the car window by Mendoza.” Liv continues, “After he was hit, he started the car and tried to find some street signs, but we had to stop and call 911. A few seconds after calling 911, we heard screaming and noise, which was the police. They came at us with their guns pointed at our heads.”

 

According to Liv, the police dragged her out of the car, twisting her arm and virtually threw her into the back of a police van, locking it. In the car were her handbag/purse and several mobile phones. She had her Norwegian mobile phone with her, and had bought a U.S. mobile phone. Her Norwegian passport was also in her purse in the car.

 

We must now go back to 2009. That year, John had developed a uniquely difficult cervical injury. His neck required special surgery. In Norway, he could not get that surgery quickly, and so, like many Norwegians, he considered obtaining the surgery out-of-country for reasons related to price and speed of scheduling. Liv and he were in Norway and researched the options. They discovered that one of the world’s best surgeons for the needed surgery was Dr. Muntazen who would be in Germany the following year, but was currently working in Iran. Since they did not feel they could wait, they scheduled with Dr. Muntazen in Iran, and proceeded to make their travel arrangements. Norwegians travel to Iran for cultural reasons, to see their ancient sites and experience the culture on vacation. A visa stamp is required. Liv’s co-workers noted that the ladies at the Iranian Embassy wore head scarves. They thought she might take one with her when she went to get her visa stamped into her passport. Thinking it would be wise, Liv completed her application and got her photo taken at the photo box machine. She decided it would be respectful to wear the scarf in her visa photo so she did. The visa was processed when she went to the Iranian Embassy in Oslo. Liv and John then took their trip to Iran, where John got the fantastic surgery which immediately improved his neck. The visa lasted for 2-3 weeks and they were there for about one week. The visa stamp usually takes up a full page in a passport, and sometimes includes a photo. In this case, it did.

 

Liv is locked in the back of the van while the police have searched her handbag, something which was not related to the circumstances of the incidents which have just occurred and which should have resulted in any evidence, even if it was considered germane, being excluded from the record. After being locked in the van for about 10 minutes, a policeman opens the door and literally screams at Liv, at the top of his lungs, “You are from Iran! You are Iranian and you are a terrorist!” Liv replied, “No, I’m Norwegian.” The police officer answers, “No, you’re Iranian. Because I have your passport.” By the way, Liv did not have an Iranian passport. Her belongings, though, were searched without her permission and without probable cause to suspect that she had any reason to be involved in a crime. In criminal procedure, as most criminals know, there is something called the exclusionary rule. It means one cannot place into evidence items that were obtained by illegal search and seizure. It is designed to act as a deterrent to overzealous police and prosecutorial discretion. While items of a third party can be used in one exception to the rule, (example, germane evidence from someone else, a third party, in the case of the first party), in general, both John and Liv were in the position of foreigners who had crossed into American borders (legally) and had the right to the protection of this rule.

 

The police did not speak to her further. She requested her handbag and phones and was told that she could not have them. According to Liv, they said, “We are going to keep everything as evidence and you can have nothing.” She was especially anxious as she expected another call from the people who were supposed to help them get their luggage, or else should call them back again. Little did she know how much deeper their tragedy had become.

 

Only some days after this incident, the cab driver who assisted them in getting to Flagstaff to rent a car to continue their journey on that fateful day was talking to a policeman she knew. He mentioned to her that he had heard about the Iranian terrorist. So, the word had gotten around.

 

By October 19th, it was time to see what the documents from the police looked like. The attorney had been selected for John, and his wife had come to Winslow to pick up some papers that were to be used in the case. It seems that the documents were faxed to Winslow and picked up there, at which time Liv had a chance to see them. Among the case documents was a page with, yes, a copy of the Iranian visa page from Liv’s passport showing Liv in her head scarf. This apparently constituted a part of the record of the investigation in the case on which the charges against John would be brought.

 

Months and months go by. During the several days of trial, Liv was told she should not attend in the courtroom, as it might be perceived that her own testimony would thus be contrived or changed. However, Liv was assured that the Iranian terrorist was not discussed in court. Heaven forbid. Besides, the story was already all over the area. Seems no one in this part of the State had seen an Iranian visa stamp before. The more disturbing question is how many people involved in the case and jury had heard of that terrorist connection. After all, like mother like son, right?

 

-June Edvenson

John Kristoffer Larsgard - Part 2

Posted on April 26, 2012 at 12:15 AM

I am commenting on the recent news in the John Kristoffer Larsgard case, held in Arizona, involving a Norwegian young man and his mother, Liv Larsgard.

 

In this blog entry, I am reviewing VG’s coverage of the Larsgard case published in their Norwegian edition of Tuesday, April 24, 2012. The cover is, in my translation, “Today he can get 35 years in prison” and “Now his mother beseeches Norway to help.” I shall start with the general spread. Liv sits with her paper spiral notebook. [She is not internet-savvy.] It is lined and well-thumbed. A ballpoint pen is clipped onto the page where continuing journal entries appear. A journal I suggested she keep, but which she had already begun months ago. She stares with continuing disbelief and apparent breathlessness into the middle distance, her inexpensive western motel environs evident behind her.

 

The VG coverage is translated, for the most part, closely, by me here. I insert some remarks, and interrupt when I see fit.

 

“Deeply desperate and powerless, Liv Larsgard prays now that the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs (Norway’s Secretary of State), Jonas Gahr Støre, aid her only son, John Kristoffer. “I hope intensely that there is something Jonas Gahr Støre and the Department of Foreign Affairs can do to get my son out of this terrible situation. We need help desperately.”

 

VG met late Monday, April 23rd Norwegian evening time with the nurse (Liv), who has worked the last 23 years at the Nesoddtunet elderly and hospital nursing home, at the motel in Timberlodge in the small town of Pinetop, Arizona. The unlucky mother is fighting her life’s fight now. It is only so long she can hold back the tears while Eirik Mosveen interviews her. John Kristoffer Larsgard is already found guilty for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by the court [a jury trial, I believe] in Holbrook, Arizona.

 

Liv is very exhausted – because at 6:30 last evening Norwegian time, her son’s destiny was sealed. Then the judge decided the sentence her son would get. It will be a minimum of 5 years in prison and a maximum of double that. “He has sat in prison under inhuman conditions for seven months for something he didn’t do, and I know that he did not do it, because I sat beside him in the car the entire time,” says Liv Larsgard.

 

The VG coverage of April 24th continues to recount some of the story presented the previous day. Translating from the Norwegian, “The court found that he had attempted to hurt people intentionally when he fled. For himself, he claims he just tried to get away.” Liv states, “We are just two ordinary law abiding Norwegian citizens who happened to swing off the highway and came into a scary and difficult situation. We turned off at Winslow, Arizona, a place we never before had been, and which we never shall go to again.”

 

Ahh, the Foreign Affairs Department of Norway. Let’s not digress. Let’s go back to VG: Liv tells Eirik, “The Foreign Affairs Department has told me the entire time [i.e. since last Fall when John was incarcerated and not released, pending a trial that only recently occurred], that there was nothing they could do because the U.S. stands on their list of countries with good protection of rights. But here in Arizona, there are many places completely different than the rest of the U.S. And in this case, there are many elements and rights principles that have been broken,” she states. [She’s right.] “The Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs has been represented by Professor George Olander, who is the honorary counsel in Arizona, under the general counsel in San Francisco. He has said both to me, to VG and to the Foreign Affairs Department, that this case is a scandal. Then I think it is rather odd that the Foreign Affairs Department in Oslo hasn’t thoroughly investigated the case. The alarm should have gone off then,” she states.

 

Liv has been in the U.S. three times in the last seven months. Costs for an attorney, rental car, motel and air tickets have, to date, cost this nurse 200,000 Norwegian kroner (about $35,000 dollars).

 

The Utenriksdepartmentet (UDI) states they will not engage themselves in the case. A person with UDI who (finally) made a statement to VG states, “I have a great understanding for what it’s like to have landed in a criminal case abroad. [He actually cannot have, especially in the U.S.]; it’s a difficult experience. One, in the same way as the Ambassador in Oslo cannot engage in a case that is ongoing in a Norwegian court, cannot attempt to affect a foreign judgment.” Frode Andersen indicates that the general counsel in San Francisco and the Counsel in Phoenix have aided in the case. They have ensured that Larsgard has gotten an attorney, and have held contact with the American public authorities. ”This is the common support we give,” he said.

 

VG’s reporter asks him, “What has to happen before you do what is over the usual practice?” Andersen replied, “Without commenting on this particular case especially, UDI has engaged itself in the past where there has been serious doubt as to the court’s functional security, or when there was talk of the death penalty.”

 

I get it. If John is in danger of being killed, they might step in. Well, he is, but not because he could get the death penalty for screwing up 6 minutes of driving in a small town. But if an American court does not sentence John to death for failing to successfully make a three-point turn, meanwhile pissing off several people with his somewhat nonchalant and potentially maddening anti-social responses, the Norwegian authorities should not be interested in paying attention – and ‘engaging’ in the resolution of it. Right? After all, now that he’s in the good old U.S. of A., he may as well have gone to hell – when he’s found with his neck crushed once again under the boot of a fellow prisoner. And if he has to spend a few years in solitary confinement - and hand and foot chains - for not killing anyone and not meaning to, so what: at least he wasn’t sentenced to death. Right, Jonas Gahr Støre? Right, Hillary? It may take a village to raise a child, but the sad corollary is: it doesn’t take more than that to hang a man who doesn’t deserve it.

 

Meanwhile, the locals – both citizen voters and public authorities – have gotten their own special benefits – they got their small and focused revenge – and they’ve got their votes lined up to stay in office. Meanwhile, thank the Lord and hang ‘me high. After all, he scared two children when he tried to make a three-point turn. And by the way, he didn’t act like a good American would act. He was anti-social. He must be a foreigner. Right, UDI? Right, Jonas Gahr Støre? Just let ‘em run all over us when we land there. No compunction. Best friends. Case closed.

 

It’s not the first time since I moved to Norway that I’ve heard of abuses of international human rights within the United States. Too bad the U.S. polishes its untouchable reputation with so much distance that even allies cannot complain. Meanwhile, the U.S. criminal justice system flops along rather unevenly, if you can call ‘pleading out’ real justice. It has plenty of emperors who do not permit self-examination. And yes, they are hunkered down in both big and tiny towns - and poor counties. Too bad they’re willing to sacrifice a foolish and unattractive foreign fellow, and count him a real fiend when he was not. And is not.

 

Meanwhile, from a cursory surf today, I’m not the first to find it ironic that while a Norwegian’s rights are being railroaded out of existence in the U.S., Norway is entertaining its own world’s greatest fiend in a lengthy and showy trial. The one who shall not be named has been granted 10 weeks of full-time publicity – in Norway – to explain why he killed 77 people last summer. He’s protected, listened to, studied and respected. He doesn’t live in chains. He’s dressed in a suit and tie and driven to court every day with high security. He’s given every opportunity to tell us exactly how he planned to kill and killed 77 people. Even what he wished he could have accomplished but didn’t manage to get done. Norway just today got done reporting their own replication of the bomb blow-up, a mini-second by mini-second analysis of the actual effect of the downtown blast that blew out the government’s main street offices. Gee, I’m so glad to have that forensic detail – it makes all the difference. The State of Norway has permitted dozens of attorneys to appear during this case, a case in which the accused has already confessed and claims he is competent to be judged for a prison sentence. The judges are proud to be insiders, some the children of judges who heard famous super-cases in Norway in the past. It’s a big show. And everybody in the limelight is connected, you know. That’s how things in Norway work. And our Norwegian tax dollars are paying for it. Because Norway is rich.

 

Too bad Liv Larsgard isn’t ‘connected.’ And isn’t rich.

 

Makes me glad I’m headed to the United States for a few weeks. God help me, though, if I get going the wrong way down a one-way street. After all, if I get flustered, I might have to serve time.

 

-June Edvenson

John Kristoffer Larsgard, Part 1

Posted on April 25, 2012 at 8:25 AM

John Kristoffer Larsgard, a Norwegian young man, lately living in the United States. Liv Larsgard, his mother, a nursing home nurse in Oslo. Myself, an American attorney living and working in Norway, also assisting and commenting on cultural and legal issues of interest and note. And John, now and for several months, sitting in a prison in Arizona, and recently convicted after over a week-long trial.

 

I was asked by John’s mother, Liv Larsgard, to assist her. We’ve spoken on the phone on more than one occasion at length and she recently sent me portions of the court transcript in the case. She would like me to help her to get what is arguably also her story out to the public, in English, and, if I would like to do that, to comment on the legal merits of the case, on its problems and issues it seems to raise, as I deem appropriate.

 

So here we go, dear American and global Reader, as we look into what appears to be a classic example of how not to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. As well, how not to present criminal evidence in a jury trial. And we can also get to the rather long list of international human rights which have been broken with impunity later. First, let us simply look together at what has happened here. Let me whet your appetite. Here are some versions of headlines I could write, none of which is without some truth:

 

• Norwegian thrown in jail for messing up a three-point turn in unfamiliar rental car

• Norwegian punched in nose for going wrong way on poorly marked one-way street and trying to flee attackers

• Batterer goes free - Victim gets years in prison

• Norwegian with neck disability refused his medicine while held in solitary confinement

• Norwegian guilty of bad driving held in steel hand and foot chains at all times out of cell

• Norwegian punched to the floor and neck stomped on by other prisoner for doing nothing

• Norwegian with history of being mobbed in Norway finally mobbed to near-death in Arizona

• Lack of social skills becomes criminal intent in Arizona when non-Americans show up

• Need help? Don’t stop in Winslow, Arizona. Especially if you’ve never been there.

• Beer-happy festival crowd turns on foreigners for lack of American communication skills

• Foreigner drives wildly as reaction to attacking public . . . who over-reacted to his unfamiliarity

• Local prison needs prisoners after losing federal contract: Find foreigners fast and lock ‘em up

• A slam-dunk into prison means protecting local jobs - Now that’s a priority.

• Hearsay evidence illegal since 17th century – but not in Winslow, Arizona

 

Let’s begin with the exclusive coverage prepared and published in VG, one of Norway’s largest daily newspapers and most read. The coverage is by Eirik Mosveen, a veteran reporter stationed in New York. The paper has availability online for those interested in reading the Norwegian story portions. I don’t cover all the aspects, but I will summarize some of the written coverage as the story has just broken here. By doing that, I will primarily present it from the perspective from which it is reported - by a Norwegian reporter, to the Norwegian population in Norway. For me, it is a sign of respect, and also, like many Americans here, will ‘ring true’ with respect to our own education as to the differences between our two cultures. It may also be enlightening for those who should develop a professional interest in this case, and who have the ability and position to influence what should now occur and how that can be effected. In general, it’s interesting because it points up what people think they know about how they should perceive others’ actions. It also highlights how persons use the law and legal system, themselves, through their different roles within the criminal justice ‘sub-culture’ of this American rural county. We can analyze those cultural and legal differences in later entries. Now to the core story.

 

VG’s coverage began Monday, April 23, 2012: There was just a mother and son in the car that drove onto a deserted motorway through Arizona’s desert on a warm and peaceful Saturday. Then all hell broke loose. For seven months, John Kristoffer Larsgard, 32, has sat in jail in Navajo County Jail, mainly in solitary, with foot links and handcuffs. What happened on September 24 (2011) isn’t taken from an American B-film. It’s hard reality. On March 29th he was found guilty of so-called “aggravated assault” for trying to cause harm using a deadly weapon – against 6 Americans, 2 of them small children. The weapon, according to the judgment, was the rental car rented by his mother Liv, and the son drove it that ill-fated day. Tomorrow, the sentencing comes, at which the Norwegian risks being sentenced to a minimum of 5 years in prison, while he fears he could get 35 years.

 

Liv was driving her son’s Volvo as they made their way from Los Angeles to Chicago, and John was half-sleeping in the passenger seat. Suddenly, a red light on the dash began to blink. They decided to get off at the next exit to check it out. At that exit, Liv became confused as to how to proceed and ended up crossing into a median area which was full of un-noticeable rocks. There, the Volvo bottomed out and its under-carriage was substantially damaged. They therefore needed a rental car to continue their trip. The taxi driver that came to assist them drove them to Flagstaff where they rented a car and then returned to the Winslow area to find their baggage. Note that since the Volvo had been towed, and there were no rental agencies in Winslow, they had not been into the town before and were now entering it to find their luggage so they could continue their journey north and east. Now, John is driving. They are to find their auto at Dalton Auto Parts.

 

On this day, there is a large local music festival. They accidentally turn the wrong way down a one-way street, which causes onlookers to react. John is driving slowly, but some call to him that it is a one-way street. He tries to yell something back at those who are yelling at him, mainly a mother standing on the sidewalk. Liv is very anxious now and begs him to turn around and get them out of there. When John goes to execute a three-point turn, he runs over the curb behind him, scaring the persons hanging out in front of a store. Here is the woman with two children who claims he screamed at her, “I will kill you” before he executes the three-point turn. Note that another witness heard him say, “I will sneak through.”

 

Reader, I must digress here, on cross-cultural language usage and pronunciation. Have you heard a Norwegian say, “I will kill you” and “I will sneak through”? Do you realize that they don’t sound very different from each other? Do you know that the Norwegian language doesn’t do the ‘th’ sound very well – most of their consonants are sharper and more distinct. And they don’t do the ‘ough’ sound in ‘through’ very well either: most of their o’s are longer and deeper ooooo’s. In addition, all their i’s are e’s: they don’t have the short ‘i’ sound very much in the language: first, the ‘i’ is always pronounced as “ee” is in English. When they ‘will,’ they say, ‘veeel’.

 

Now, reader, another digression. When you have found yourself going the wrong way on a one-way street, what do you do? If it is safe to do so, you do as I have done: you sneak through to the next turn and get off of it. If no or few cars are seen, street direction can be under-signed. In many cases, sneaking forward to the next turn would be less disruptive and more ‘friendly’ than stopping and executing a three-point turn. So, it makes perfect sense that John was trying to tell the lady that he would try to sneak through, as he slowly proceeded, even if she heard something else instead, not recognizing his foreign accented English in the same way she would understand her western American English. Who said he said, “I will sneak through”? A young dental assistant who, presumably, has perfect hearing, who also testified at the, er, seven day trial.

 

And what does the prosecutor do with little lady number one’s statement? Well, of course, he offers it in testimony for, um, intent? To kill people? After all, he has to find an exception to the hearsay rule or he can’t get that assertion into evidence. Why? Because, the fact that this little lady swears under oath that she heard him say, “I will kill you” doesn’t mean he said that, and it also doesn’t mean one can accept that statement for the truth of the matter asserted. As every first year law student knows, hearsay is evidence which depends on the credibility of someone who cannot be cross-examined for its probative value (Goldberg). In other words, when little lady one says she heard him say, “I will kill you,” who are we to say she did not hear him say that? This is why HEARSAY IS NOT ADMISSIBLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVING THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER ASSERTED. Of course, there are many exceptions to the hearsay rule. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you keep a little lady on the stand repeating and repeating that he said “I will kill you,” and then everyone around her decides that must’ve been what the guy said, and they further testify to the same, (except for the lady who testified that he clearly said, “I will sneak through”), and then you have a situation where the jury is asked to find that this fellow intentionally set about hurting people in the town, and what will they find? It’s almost a Catch-22: you get the jury to answer only the question you ask them – and definitely not the question you should have asked them. Figure this one out.

 

Back to VG’s coverage. John manages to turn around and is trying to both flee people running after him who are angry, but basically find his luggage so they can leave town. In particular, the father of the children on the sidewalk is running after the car, angry as can be. John doesn’t see him, but pulls into the parking lot nearby while they hope to get their luggage. The car becomes surrounded and, coming from behind, John is smashed in the nose through the open driver’s window. The father who crushed his nose is rushing back while John’s blood is spurting profusely all over the unfamiliar rental car interior. Still, he is afraid to get out of the car.

 

Both John and Liv manage to call 911. Immediately, about 10 police arrive. Ten? It has been 6 ½ minutes since they began to drive the wrong way down a one-way street in Winslow, Arizona.

 

Criss Candaleria, John’s attorney, tells VG, (in my translation from the Norwegian paper), “This is really an embarrassing case. It should have been dropped from Day One. There isn’t even one shred of evidence in the case that John intended to kill someone in the course of those 6 ½ minutes, in a town he had never been in before. The police didn’t even assign one investigator to it. The witnesses were angry, and the police and the court chose to believe the witnesses’ version, namely that he was trying to hurt and kill these people. If he was trying to kill them, why would he call the police and tell them where he was? The case is completely illogical. Therefore, I’ve asked for a new trial.”

 

None of the witnesses contacted would talk to the VG reporter who was in town requesting it, although everyone knows that ‘there was a foreigner here last year who drove like a crazy man and tried to hurt and kill folks.’

 

Eirik Mosveen was able to talk to John at the Navajo County Jail, which is in Holbrook, Arizona. John says, (in my English translation), “I’ve got no connection with Arizona, other than that my mother and I drove along I-40. For me, it’s as if we’ve been taken in a highway robbery.” (John is in solitary confinement.) Further, “The treatment I am getting here in jail is based on what I was arrested for. It’s pretty bad right now. I’m getting out of my cell 3 times each week, one hour each time, to take a shower and maybe read documents. Otherwise, I’m in the cell, which has a toilet, a sink and a mattress pad.” John is always in hand and foot links when he is out of his cell unless he is showering. John says, “It’s completely laughable. It’s because, according to them, I am the most dangerous prisoner in the entire county.” Eirik asks him what he thinks of this. John replies, “That it’s complete lunacy. It’s like a bad film, where you swing in and land on a deserted peninsula, filled with angry residents. Because I was charged with trying to hurt children, many of the jail staff have treated me very badly, despite the fact that that charge was dropped. I’m like their mass murderer, the unfortunate mass murderer since, under the circumstances, no one was hurt.” Eirik and John continue their discussion of what seems to have been a completely insane description of what in fact occurred. John then adds, “What I’ve learned for myself at this place is that, here, anything can happen.” When asked if he had been there before, John replies, “No, I’d never heard of the place, and if I had, I would have thought it was a new data virus by Windows,” he says and smiles.

 

Alright, Reader, here we take another break. Do you have to love this guy? No, but I think his cynical sense of humor may be helping him stay alive. And he’s definitely not stupid. Can we see why driving a bit wildly might ‘piss people off’? Yes. Can we understand why he was trying to get out of the wrong-way predicament he was in, while women were screaming at him to turn around? Yes. Can we understand that we also don’t have to ‘like’ him to see that the type of treatment he has gotten has gone way way beyond the reasonable? Yes. Might he have exacerbated the bad-driver side in response to provocations from persons attacking the car? Quite possibly, but so. Can we understand that it would have been appropriate to cite him for traffic violations? Yes. When someone runs at your car, and brushes against it intentionally while you are driving and you can’t see them, are you responsible for the fact that the car touched them? As a Chicagoan who has more than once watched pedestrians attack and damage cars in traffic, I’ll leave that question open. Did the car he was driving, while being chased, brush against someone? Yes. Are they responsible for putting themselves in harm’s way? Quite possibly. If they are on a sidewalk when the three-point turn fails, and the tire blows out on the curb, is this something you could have prevented when you had never driven that car until right then? No, not necessarily. Is it reasonable to think that this scared the persons on the sidewalk? Of course. Would the children be afraid? Of course. American response: Get offended (which is also considered smart) and get even. Norwegian response: Stop all action, calm down and exchange names and numbers. Is it reasonable for them to claim that he was trying intentionally to kill them? Based on the actual evidence, of course not. But in Winslow, Arizona, who cares about the evidence? Just ‘hang ‘em high’ as they say, right?

 

Eirik asks John what he thinks of the future. John replies, “I don’t know. I’m just trying to survive each day as it comes here.” When asked about his mother, John replies, “It’s not easy. Because she feels a large responsibility because it was she who crashed the car, and the reason we had to hang around here. She’s suffering with guilt feelings. In addition, she’s been here, away [from her work and Oslo] for long periods, and taken out vacation for two years in the future. She has gotten large economic problems [from this].

 

VG’s first day’s coverage ends with this information: In Winslow, Arizona, both the State’s Attorney and the judge in the case are publicly (popularly) elected and are political office holders, and 2012 is an election year. There is little doubt that many people in Winslow, which has about 6,000 residents, would like to see Larsgard sentenced to time. To let John free of a punishment ‘would not be especially popular.’

 

If you’re able to and interested, check VG’s video story link, entitled, “Her pågripes nordmannen,” shown and downloadable at: http://www.vgtv.no/#!id=52059 .

To be continued. By me and hopefully by other concerned and engaged professionals from our two countries.

-June Edvenson

English in the Courtroom & the Classroom

Posted on September 23, 2011 at 7:25 AM

We all know that excellent lawyers are not necessarily excellent writers.  At least when it comes to the English language, they are not world-reknowned for their contributions to its clarity.  I will omit the name of the poor attorney who, after many years of good practice, submitted materials to a U.S. court that were rejected, as he indicates he was quite ill during the time he had to develop the submission.  Still, how can one not love the court's response when it read like this, in part, as reported and quoted by the American Bar Association in their ABA Journal Weekly Newsletter of Sept 23, 2011:

 

"The district court was well within its discretion when it refused to accept [the attorney's] second amended complaint, the appeals court said. “Though the complaint was far longer than it needed to be, prolixity was not its chief deficiency,” according to the appeals court. “Rather, its rampant grammatical, syntactical, and typographical errors contributed to an overall sense of unintelligibility. This was compounded by a vague, confusing, and conclusory articulation of the factual and legal basis for the claims and a general 'kitchen sink' approach to pleading the case.”   

 

How can a teacher of Legal English not love it?  With hopes that I will not offend too greatly, this also sounds quite a bit like the standard operating approach to a college examination in "Business Communications:  Intercultural and Ethical Awareness;"  when it's difficult to figure out what to write, the creative writer certainly comes forth!

The Spirits of the Young

Posted on August 12, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Subject: The recent bombing of Oslo and attack and murder of young people at Utøya

 

Post-tragedy

As families and loved ones say their farewells to those murdered, as the injured continue their difficult recoveries, and as all who were affected in Norway and beyond struggle to come to grips with the implications of what occurred, I took a pen in hand. This is natural for a writer. Everyone has their own way to grieve. And it is noted that the grieving process is especially important, and will vary from person to person.

 

One way I cope in life is by visiting literature I love. When I first saw some of the footage of one of the first memorial services, which took place in the Domkirke, I was drawn to reflect upon a piece of Victorean literature I have always loved, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shallot. This poem, which is classified as 'fantasy literature,' was inspired by Arthurian legends, and has, itself, inspired many writers, poets and artists since Tennyson penned it.

 

I took my cue from his verses, and have composed a likeness, retaining many of his beautiful images. This likeness is, I think, a suitable tribute to the spirits of the young people who were there that day, both those who died and those who lived. I also mean to embrace those affected in Oslo. With the stories of those affected still coming out, it is, it seems, the miracle of life and love that is continually before us, square and center stage.

 

Should you wish to read it, I hope you like it, and that you find it helpful to you. I would like to formally publish it at some time in the future, and of course, be paid for that effort. I am also open to revising it, and will do that if I think it improves it. For now, I will post it here, in part, so that it can be shared with others who may find comfort, love and peace in reading it now:

 

The Spirits of the Young

 

 

Nearby to Tyrifjorden lie

Long fields of wheat and also rye

That cloak the land and meet the sky.

And near the fjord, a road runs by,

A road that runs to Oslo.

Now up and down the people go,

Gazing where the roses blow,

‘Round an island there below,

Utoya, it is called.

 

Willows whiten, birch trees bow,

Little breezes dusk and plough,

Rippling through the fjord’s cold waters,

By the island’s grass green bowers,

Flowing north of Oslo.

On the island, camps and buildings

Overlook a flowered shrine,

And the morning isle empowers

Dreams and spirits of the young.

 

By the margin, blue ridge-veiled,

Slide heavy trucks and trains,

The commerce of a nation hailed;

Its ships and planes the world has sailed.

They’re driving down to Oslo.

But who hath seen that spirit’s hand?

Or at a window seen them stand?

At Utoya, known throughout the land,

For the spirits of the young?

 

Only reapers, reaping early,

In among the bearded barley

Hear a song that echoes clearly

From the fjord and island, nearly

Down to Oslo.

And by the moon, the reaper, weary,

Piling his sheaves in uplands airy,

Listening, whispers, “’Tis the fairies,

And the spirits of the young.”

 

There, they weave by night and day,

A magic web, all colors gay.

The young have heard a whisper say

A curse is on them if they stay,

And look downward to Oslo.

They know not what that curse may be.

The fairies weave on, steadily.

And little other care have they,

The spirits of the young.

 

Yet, moving through a mirror clear

That hangs before them all the year,

Shadows of the world appear.

There, they see the highway near,

Winding down to Oslo.

There the cold fjord’s eddies swirl,

And there a sleepy village churls,

And the red coats of the market girls

Pass onward in a throng.

 

Sometimes children pass them by,

Or business people, gals and guys,

The elderly, in busses, cars,

A boy holding a girl in his arms –

They all go by to Oslo.

And sometimes through that mirror blue,

The youths themselves ride, two by two.

The fairies watch them as they do,

The spirits of the young.

 

The fairies in their web delight,

And weave the mirror’s magic sights.

Yet often in the silent nights,

A funeral with plumes and lights

Goes by to storied Oslo.

And when the Moon is overhead,

Come two young lovers, lately wed.

“I am so sick of shadows,” said

These spirits of the young.

 

They gathered at the island green

To meet their futures, yet unseen.

Unglimpsed but bright, their social dreams,

On a red shield of labor, streamed

Their banners down to Oslo.

And policies of caring grace

Were balanced against, not race,

But human need, a human face,

A Nation’s needs, that’s all.

In the gray and cloudy weather,

Their leaders shared the purple heather,

Engaging tales of public service,

Fellowship, one flame, together,

Shining down to Oslo.

Participation, love of place,

Growing self-confidence and grace

Engaged them in their meetings, moved

The spirits of the young.

 

Too many shots that tragic day

Rang out from one who made his way

To Utoya - to make a play

Whose actors fall in death away.

From under years of hatred flowed

A senseless rage as on he ploughed.

He flashed his ‘badge,’ secret ill will,

He crossed onto the isle, to kill

The spirits of the young.

 

‘Twas then they left their colored looms,

The fairies scuttling to stop the doom.

They watched the water-lily bloom,

They saw a uniform, a gun,

And cried out to Oslo.

Out flew the web and floated wide,

The mirror cracked from side to side.

“The curse is come upon us,” cried

The spirits of the young.

 

Beneath the bright gray sky, wind straining,

Rocky shore, with green woods waning,

The fjord stream, cold, began complaining

Heavily, with low clouds raining

Over bombed Oslo.

Then down they came and found no boat,

Into the water jumped, swam, floated,

Were caught unawares on land or sea,

The spirits of the young.

 

And down the fjord’s dark blue expanse,

Like children, seers in a trance,

Came those who cleared and beat mischance,

With dark and glassy countenance,

Crying out to Oslo.

And at the closing of the day,

The dead, injured and safe ones lay,

Down in a darkness far away,

The spirits of the young.

Some spirits scattered, snowy white,

And loosely flew up, left and right,

Through leaves and flowers, falling light

Upon them, through the noisy night.

They floated down to Oslo.

And as their boat wound along,

The mountains and the fields among,

The people heard them sing a song,

The spirits of the young.

 

They heard a carol, mournful, holy,

Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,

Until their blood was frozen slowly

And they closed their eyes, wholly,

Turned towards Oslo.

For ‘ere they reached the other side,

Or spied their home or family ties,

Singing their song of love, they died,

The spirits of the young.

 

From churches’ eaves and balconies,

By garden walls and galleries,

As gleaming shapes, they floated by

Their mountains, fields, their seashores, sky,

Silently from Oslo.

Then out upon the wharfs they came,

The police and people - Prince and plain,

And then it was they saw their names,

The spirits of the young.

 

Who is this? What happened here?

And in the lighted palace near,

Died the sounds of summer cheer,

And all who saw them cringed with fear

And sadness through Oslo.

The King and Queen and all who saw

Wept and wept. Then spread the awe

Of those whose stories were then told,

Tales of bravery and heroism bold,

Of the spirits of the young.

 

Who are these? What happened here,

The stories of these heroes tell:

Who sprung with love and caring near

To those who otherwise would fall?

Who road into the danger zone

To grasp the arms of those forlorn?

Who chose an instant’s infinite grace

To face a demon in a place

Now known forever as the space

Of the spirits of the young.

Above the island’s lush green boroughs

Hovers the love of many. Those

Who passed away on that sad day,

And those who come anew, to say,

We won’t be stopped by fear and hate,

Nor stop our path to Oslo.

Meanwhile, the fairies to their bowers

Repair, wherein they spend the hours

Weaving on looms of colored flowers,

For the spirits of the young.

 

They carry forth their woven threads,

And in them they embrace the dead,

Lift up their spirits, overhead,

Assure them that their spirits live,

Above and beyond Oslo.

The spirits fly to fathers’ homes,

And visit mothers’ gardens, roam

Among our sacred places, play

In light and energy all day.

 

The spirits call to all of us:

They kiss the Nordic evening dusk.

“Be all that you can be among

All peoples of your blessed land,”

They say, and so their song is strong,

Forever striving, never undone.

Their gods embrace them as they tone,

‘Never forget our love: far-flung.’

-The Spirits of the Young

 

With attributions to Alfred, Lord Tennyson and ‘The Lady of Shallot’

©

June Edvenson, 2011

All rights reserved

Reprint and distribution rights reserved.

Permission to reproduce by direct inquiry to [email protected]

Sustainability and the Law

Posted on May 24, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Subject: Sustainability . . . and Law? What can we say about this concept, and how it informs our world and behaviors? I became interested in this topic when prompted by a call for papers for the 2011 EUKO conference at Aarhus, Denmark. The conference will be the 11th international conference organised by the Department of Language and Business Communication of the Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University, Denmark. This year’s theme is, “Sustainable Communication – Communicative Sustainability.” Their goal is to assemble a wide array of responses on this theme from various sectors of the global business community and communications specialists. The focus will be broad: sustainability and communication as seen regarding the economy, environment, globalization, social welfare and corporate communications, among others. I became interested in the topic from a legal perspective and began to do a bit of research. Thematically, I decided to focus on the dialectic within environmental law, corporate social responsibility and international human rights.

 

Over the past few months, I’ve assembled an array of resources, and am writing an article in this topical area, tentatively entitled, The ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ & Sustainability ’Red Threads’ in the Language of International Law & Human Rights.

 

I am looking at the concept of sustainability of the environment from the perspective of the traditional positivist language of law, including environmental law, international law and human rights law, while developing a critique of existing structural approaches to its communication within existing rule-based and policy-based systems. Historically, Western property law has resulted in the ‘tragedy of the commons,’ in which resources belonging to the commons will ultimately be depleted beyond sustainability by group members, in contrast to the greater good of all, and in spite of the essential minimum needs of all. Resource utilization struggles of today confirm the tragedy’s principe dispositif, while laws regulating the environment remain under-developed both structurally and ideologically to the challenge.

 

Core values of sustainability and how it is communicated are found discussed in recent legal and environmental law scholarship. These values include, among others, the right to identity and the protection of language, culture, names and participation. Achieving the preconditions for sustainability through communication also requires challenging ineffective controls while opening political, business and social networks impeding its development. Modern means of communicating sustainability include corporate social responsibility platforms and codes. Beyond this, discussions are taking place on melding core concepts of environmental law with human rights law, and I will be discussing these in the article.

 

Already, I believe I have identified what could be called ‘red threads’ tying communications and sustainability together within a legal framework designed to address corporate activity affecting the environment, and find these red threads at the center of recent global political and economic trends, i.e. utilizing language, new visual media channels and social media platforms to secure the primary preconditions for sustainability. By focusing on legal perceptions, I hope to encourage law and policy makers to newly prioritize environmental sustainability law, suiting it to changing needs, transparency, and modern global conditions.

 

sustainability. n. 1. capable of being sustained; 2. Of or relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged (such as sustainable techniques, sustainable agriculture); of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods (such as a sustainable society). First known use: circa 1727. –Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 

I was pleased that the International Bar Association took my question on this, asking the Legal Director of Royal Dutch Shell about their work with sustainability at the conclusion of the IBA Webinar, May 24, 2011. Peter Rees’s response indicates that he is aware of the practical approaches to incorporating sustainability in their legal work, noting, first, that assuring that Shell is in full compliance with environmental regulation is a part of this. Beyond that, he noted that Shell is involved in looking at sustainability on a continuing basis with regard to reducing their carbon footprint, and seeking ways to reduce impacts of this nature. Rees's reference to the need for a global approach to corporate conditions is also a part ot this, what he called the need for "global consistency."  Such goals require participatory action on a global level.

 

Sustainability: an evolving concept with specific pre-conditions and significant weight for our survival as a global community. Sustainabiliy: something that the global legal community can help to define and bring about.

English Language Learning Resources Online and Free

Posted on February 15, 2011 at 11:18 PM

Professional academic quality instructional materials for learning English are plentiful on the internet, but many are not free of charge to the general inquirer.  As a result, it can be frustrating to attempt a more comprehensive approach to self-education efforts. 

 

This note is simply to point out some great resources for learning English online, including a small handful for (1) grammar, (2) pronunciation or oral speech development, and (3) listening comprehension and vocabulary development.

 

In the grammar category, I have to mention the work of Dr. Charles Darling, may he rest in peace.  During his years teaching English at Capital Community College in the northeastern U.S., he developed a 'Guide to Grammar and Writing' that, as they say, 'took on a life of its own.'  His clever contexting of materials, with easy-to-use quizzes, tips and comments, make learning written English (and grammar) about as pleasurable for a non-English native as it could possibly be.  This is found at http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/imoDarling.htm.  The top page is the dedication to his work, and requests donations.  The site access is free and supported by private donations and the college itself.  Click on the title "Guide to" and you will soon be involved in a wide array of exercises, rules, tips, quizzes and games.

 

In the area of English pronunciation, I would refer those interested to   http://www.manythings.org.  There are specialized word combinations to practice, and the site also includes vocabulary and grammar guidance, listening possibilities with mp3 files, and more.  The site is the property of Charles Kelly and Lawrence Kelly, who appear to be as interesting as their compilations on English.

 

For general and business English listening and development, for those with an interest in the U.S., I would highly recommend any of the regular programs found at National Public Radio, http://www.npr.org/ .  From the Programs menu, select All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, or another program.  In the humor area, hardest for a non-native speaker to appreciate, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me, is a fun and interesting program, as is A Prairie Home Companion.  In the radio essay category, select This American Life, produced by PRI.

 

For British English language learning, one will find an interesting and continually updated approach at the BBC's radio-related website, "Business Language to Go."  http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/general/talkaboutenglish/2009/02/090211_tae_bltg.shtml

 This includes radio spots on various topics, some video tutorials, as well as business English listening, vocabulary and pronunciation builders.  The stories featured are interesting and timely, and the language learning materials professionally produced, including mp3 files, transcript downloads, vocabulary lists, pronunciation audios and more.

 

So, looking to learn English online?  Good luck!  Have fun!  These materials should help you to make it so. 

Thankfulness - One Step at a Time

Posted on February 19, 2010 at 6:15 AM
Subject: Gratefulness and thankfulness Take: We need to be more thankful - for our daily experiences as well as for our many blessings. Take 2: Culturally, levels of thankfulness appear to vary. I discuss some possible tendencies. What better way to enjoy the umpteenth snowstorm of our very snowy winter here in Norway than to focus on all that we are grateful for. And what better way to do that than to write about it, hoping others will hear the distant cabin mountain horn's sweet warbling call and enjoy the music. I was reminded of this topic after listening to 'Judge Judy' speaking with Larry King on CNN the other day. She observed wryly that we human beings simply are not so nice to one another a great deal of the time. Judge Judy, for those of you unfamiliar with her, has been a judge on U.S. television, hearing real cases, for many years, and continues to do so. Her take-responsibility approach and take-no-prisoners attitude have helped many minor miscreants face their personal and related legal demons. Recent research into this topical area suggests that we are more likely to be healthier if we take the time to appreciate what we have, as well as to appreciate something in our everyday lives - um - every day. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis recently found that people who focused on gratitude were simply happier, reported fewer negative physical ailments, exercised more and had more energy. They were also less materialistic and more generous. Other studies have found consciously grateful people to have: more clear thinking, better immune system responses, lower stress levels and longer lives. A small treat appears to help also. A Cornell University study found that doctors given a small 'token' candy were better able to process complex information quickly, were more considerate of diagnostic complexity and less likely to jump to wrong conclusions. Persons with a high gratefulness quotient exercised it as a discipline. They consciously considered their thanks for specific experiences, views, etcetera. Suggested ways to reinforce such behavior in our own lives include: recordation, passing on such thoughts (called the 'boomerang' effect), and reaching out to others. With reference to that last item, might we note the existing English word, eudaemonia? My goodness, it almost looks Norwegian, with that ? type of feeling. The word, eudaemonia, means the happiness or fulfillment that comes from an action itself, not as a result of the action. I personally think of this as related to RAK. That is, random acts of kindness. RAK is responsible for the happiness experienced by many people. What is the cultural barometer on RAK? I'm not sure. It would be interesting to compare Hofstede's cultural dimensions in business to RAK. For example, business cultures that are more universalistic, such as that in the U.S., rely on contracts and rules that all are expected to respect and observe. Doesn't sound very RAK-ish, does it? At the other end of the scale, business cultures that value handling issues on a very specific or particularist manner would likely be involved in RAK activities only for those who are valued as more special in that culture - for example, men in Middle Eastern cultures, or the elderly in Asian cultures. Business cultures that value individualism also value individual achievement, separate from group-related values and activities. The U.S. takes the prize for the world's most individualistic business culture. Again, not a RAK-ish feeling here, I don't think, unless of course we take our personal ethics and moral duties with us when we walk around in America being big individuals. On the other hand, the Chinese business culture, which values collective enterprise to a great degree, prioritizes elements of caring for others above one's sense of individual self. Not a bad value to try to incorporate in one's daily life, and definitely RAK-ish. My own experience of China resulted in my falling in love with the people as a whole, and made me want to embrace their individual and collective hopes and dreams. Most Chinese were very friendly, very personable, caring and interested, willing to go out of their way to make our welcome complete in almost every way imaginable, and just because that is what is of value to do - for others. Not just for yen, but for the yin and yang of it. Well, now it is time to trudge to the little grocery with Tinkerbell, the resident Shetland sheepdog. The wind is bracing, it is minus 9 celsius, and there are at least several inches of new snow on top of the old ice-and-snow package. Everything is white or shades of gray. Dull, insistent, unforgiving. Perhaps it is time to buy some small token treats to carry around. And, by God, I'm so thankful for it all, every bit of it.

Norway's National Anthem ? What do the words mean

Posted on January 18, 2009 at 7:57 AM

Norway's national anthem is a lovely song which also includes wonderful lyrics.  It is heard by us often during Olympic events, as Norway ratchets up the wins in gold, silver and bronze medals.  It is also heard and sung often on the 17th of May, the day of Norway's annual Independence Day celebrations. 

 

 

I was encouraged to learn it when I moved to Norway ten years ago, and became interested in the English translation. I have seen other translations, but felt obliged to create my own - to reflect, as closely as possible, the meaning of the words, even if it was not 'singable.'  I therefore provide a link to my translation of "Ja, vi elsker dette landet."  I hope you enjoy it. 

Norwegian National Anthem

 Lyrics:  Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, 1859,  Music:  Rikard Nordraak, 1863,  Adopted:  1864

 

Ja, vi elsker dette landet,                                   Yes, we love this land,

 

som det stiger frem,                                          that emerges,

 

furet, værbitt, over vannet,                                furrowed, weather-beaten over the water,

 

med de tusen hjem.                                           with its thousands of homes.

 

Elsker, elsker det og tenker                               Love, love it, and think

 

på vår far og mor                                              about our father and mother

 

og den saganatt som senker                              and those nights full of long tales that sink

 

drømmer på vår jord.                                        dreams into our soil,

 

og den saganatt som senker,                             and those nights full of long tales that sink,

 

senker drømmer på vår jord.                             sink, dreams into our soil.

 

 

Norske mann i hus og hytte,                              Norwegians, in houses and cabins,

 

takk din store Gud!                                           thank your great God!

 

Landet ville han beskytte                                   The land he will protect

 

skjønt det mørkt så ut.                                      Understanding it appeared hopeless.

 

Alt hva fedrene har kjempet,                             All that our fathers fought for,

 

mødrene har grett,                                            and mothers wept for,

 

har den Herre stille lempet,                                has this God calmly lifted,

 

så vi vant vår rett.                                             so we won our right,

 

har den Herre stille lempet,                                has this God calmly lifted,

 

så vi vant, vi vant vår rett.                                  so we won, we won our right.

 

 

Ja, vi elsker dette landet,                                   Yes, we love this land,

 

som det stiger frem,                                          that emerges,

 

furet, værbitt, over vannet,                                furrowed, weather-beaten over the water,

 

med de tusen hjem.                                           with its thousands of homes,

 

og som fedres kamp har hevet                           and that our ancestors'  fight has raised,

 

det av nød til seir,                                             what was our distress to victory.

 

også vi, nar det blir krevet,                                Also we, when it becomes required

 

for dets fred slår leir,                                         for its peace, shall guard it,

 

også vi, nar det blir krevet,                                also we, when it becomes required,

 

for dets fred, dets fred slår leir!                         For its peace, its peace, shall guard it.

 

 

 

 

Publishing my Thesis Online

Posted on January 6, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Happy New Year to all!  And may it be a blessed one! 

I am writing to tell you that I've uploaded my thesis online, "Poetic Technique in Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate."  In it, I review Seth's use of poetic technique to achieve effects in the work.  Published in 1986, the book is a 'novel in sonnets.'  I include a Synopsis in the Appendix for those who are interested in reviewing the story but who have not read it.  The synopsis gives context to the sonnets I select for analytical examination in the body of the thesis. 

 

Poetic analysis can be cruelly detailed - frankly, boring, especially to read.  I tried to create a very enjoyable experience of it and hope I succeeded.  I combine the use of traditional literary analytical techniques with consideration of a variety of contextual concerns. 

 

I hope you like it!  You will find the Abstract and Thesis links at my "English Services" page on this website.