National Fire Ban

The temperatures here in Unixploria keep rising. We have just reached an all-time-high: 36.6 °C.

Our neighboring macronation, Sweden, suffers from severe wildfires. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all citizens suffering from the heat, as well as the brave firefighters trying to extinguish the wildfires surging around our boarders.

The previous fire ban applied to disposable barbecues and lighting fires in the wild, is now extended to include private gardens. The Royal Home Guard also advice all Unixplorian citizens to stay out of direct sunlight, and to drink plenty of water during the day.

A Digital Addiction We Need to Replace

The use of screens affects all ages. In our home there are as many smart phones as residents in the household. Adding the iPads and computers in our home, and it’s probably just the pets that do not stare into the ever-rewarding light at least once in half-an-hour while we think we share the experience of a cozy family evening.

The screen is the first thing many of us see when we wake up in the morning, and the last before we fall asleep in the evening. Never have the differences in attitudes and lifestyles been as big as between the last generations, writes Jean M Twenge in her latest book i-Gen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy -and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us (Atria Books, 2017).

Being a family man, I have read it with great interest. The book offers insights in explaining the following phenomena:

Today’s young, don’t drink alcohol, as we did. Today’s young do homework with episode 76 of Friends on their iPad or cell phone, they also have an ongoing chat on Snapchat and are talking to at least one person on Facetime. At the same time, they read fewer books and do not answer “out” on the question “where are you going?” as we did.

They know that we can find out where they are. Today’s youth is more tolerant of different ways of thinking but does not help to clean the entire homestead as often as we were forced to, under various threats may be added. Those who read I-Gen can add that millennials have sex later in life, take less responsibility for their finances, are more emotionally fragile. In summary, they become adults later than we did. The smart phone has changed everything, writes Jean M Twenge.

The millennials remain young longer because the phone satisfies the needs they otherwise would have to find in the physical reality which has more uncontrollable dangers and stress levels.

It may sound like a good thing given that the teenage brain matures late when it comes to making overall decisions. On the other hand, the brain may develop slower because of the protected life that comes with the use of smart phones.

Nevertheless, it stings to observe young people’s cell phone dependency. What about if the cell phones are the cigarettes of our time? In 2068 we would look back at the early 2000’s with horror of how we let children sleep with the phones under their pillows. How could we allow them to have cell phones in class despite apparent lack of concentration and learning?

In the US, the average teenager spends 4.5 hours a day with a cell phone, and half of them describe that they are dependent on their phones. Just between 2009 and 2014, the proportion of Swedish schoolchildren who spent at least three hours or more on the internet every day, according to Statistics Sweden, doubled.

The Swedish psychiatrist Anders Hansen writes in his book Hjärnstark (Fitnessförlaget, 2016) that the person who spends more than ten hours a week in front of the screen experiences the least happiness followed by the one who is connected between six and nine hours. Which, in turn, is less happy than the one who’s staring at a screen for four to five hours. Young people also spend time with their friends far less, feel more alone, and have problems sleeping. This rather depressing development began in 2007, the year when the iPhone was launched. Jean M Twenge blames the dramatic deterioration of the mental health of youngsters completely on the phones.

On the radio, I hear a voice that explains mental health problems, believing that we meet our needs satisfactorily through the cell phone, but we chew empty carbohydrates that provide fast energy but no nutrition.

It may be time to realize that there is another kind of reward in life for those who manage to put away the phone and train their stamina and concentration. We need to give young people a chance to develop that ability.

Mikronationer – på besök i hemgjorda nationer by Johan Joelsson and Jonatan Jacobson

“Micronations – Visiting Homemade Nations”

This book has not yet been translated to English, but since the topic is of interest to all micronationalists a short review may be of use to the community.

The book  is beautifully bound, and the layout is also pleasing with two-column pages on quality paper. The preface is somewhat centered around micronationalism in Scandinavia, but also gives general information on what it takes to form a nation, i.g. the Montevideo Convention.

The following nations are  covered in the book: The Principality of Sealand, Ladonia, the Kingdom of Elleore, the Principality of Seborga, Sweutschland, the Republic of Molossia and Elgaland-Vargaland. The book also contains a review from PoliNation, an international conference on micronations.

The author, who works as a freelance reporter, seems to have done his homework. He has made several interviews with leaders of mentioned countries, and also visited all of the micronations covered in the book. The presidents and kings of the various micronations come through as they are, not portrayed as mere nut jobs nor are they ridiculed.

The pictures are very good, and add another layer of information to the text. I understand that the author wants to portray the vast variety of micronations in the world. That is, however,  also my main concern. The examples in the book are highly selective, and may not be representative of the micronational world as a whole.

Elgaland-Vargaland is more of a conceptual art project than a micronation and Sweutschland is a techno dance music festival. These creative projects may not be considered to be micronations per se among the community, but they are great examples of how diverse the world of homemade nationalism really is.

On a whole this is a great introductory book for anyone interested in the somewhat obscure world of micronationalism. The book is not intended as an encyclopedic work* on aspirant nations, but rather a taste of the high degree of individual  freedom and creativity that can be found among the founding fathers of these nations.

* For a more in-depth book on contemporary and historical struggles for independence, I highly recommend Christopher F. Roth's encyclopedia Let's Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar (Litwin Books, 2015).

 

Erasing the Past?

We rarely comment on macronational affairs, but the recent incidents in Charlottesville, USA, have forced us to speak out. This is not only an American affair, it is an affair of political correctness stretching all across the Western world.

First of all, let us just say that no one in their right state of mind would ever condone racism in any way. It is an inhuman practice that no civilized nation can tolerate. The fact that all men are born equal is deeply rooted in our Unixplorian culture.

It is with sadness we hear about racial conflicts erupting in America and elsewhere. We think the racial divide now occurring in the United States and elsewhere is very unfortunate, and have led us to make the following statement:

We condemn the violence, and certainly condemn all those using race as a legitimate reason for special rights of any kind. We condemn the Nazis, White Supremacists, Communists, religious fundamentalists and others around the world using violence as a substitute for intellectual discourse; fascists and anti-fascists are just opposing sides on a mirror and neither will hesitate to use violence to achieve their goals.

We also condemn those who want to remove historical monuments to disparage the impact of historical events. Nothing good can ever come out of erasing history, even if it may seem as if they’re doing it for all the good reasons.

Why not instead look at the past with critical eyes, thus understanding how far we’ve reached from the times of slavery and inequality between all races? If one were to take down all historical monuments, rewrite all the books to favor our contemporary viewpoint, then we wouldn’t have a history to speak of, we would just be lost in a time loop without roots.

People said and did horrible things in the past but that doesn’t mean we should erase our heritage simply because we disagree. Should we censor the news from all the heinous violence, terror and starvation and live our lives unaware of all these heartaches? No. Should we condemn racism and gender inequality whenever we see it? Yes, of course, but never to such an extent that we rewrite history to suit our own agenda.

Let’s put an end to racism by focusing on a person’s merits instead of skin color. We encourage all Unixplorians to stand up against radicalism in any form. No one deserves special treatment because of their skin color, gender, religion or cultural identity.

Right and Wrong in a Queer World

A football field has clear spatial boundaries, some balls are “inside” and others “out”. A football match also has clear time limits, a half is 45 minutes and a whole match 90. There is a difference between how the goals are perceived during training and those made when it is sharp, in front of a paying crowd.

A country usually also has distinct spatial borders. At the moment, the national state is under severe pressure. Yet, in view of the wars in the world: Should we not be grateful that we live in a country with undisputed borders? The boundaries do not mean that the country is closed, but that immigration and emigration are regulated.

Man needs boundaries, needs to be able to generalize, needs to be able to define himself against others. “We and them” are not just about a potential distance, or a stranger, it is the premise that I am who I am and you are who you are.

The women’s national football team in the America recently had its team numbers in the Pride flag colors. Imagine if there would be a talented player who does not identify with the pride culture? What would the coaches of a national team say about “equal value of all people” when it comes to Christian players? Are they automatically excluded from the team if they would have a different view on marriage? Are they supposed to blame themselves if they have opinions that clearly differ from the norm?

I have seen many examples of how people with a traditional Christian perception of marriage are discriminated against in every way – under the impression that those who discriminate safeguard the equal value of all men. The once affected become ‘untouchables’ and as such they are no longer covered by the Law on “Equal Value for All People.” Paradox, anyone?

I have often wondered why so many that talk about the need for diversity and tolerance often has blind spots when it comes to practicing the enveloped principle. We can probably all agree that it is quite easy to protect the kind of diversity you like, but harder to stand up for opposing views.

The validity of the principle is only tested when you must relate to people whose convictions you dislike; remember Voltaire’s famous words “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It.”

It is also interesting that a movement that opposes boundaries and view generalizations as something evil is very eager to set up fences against the part of society that does not share their ideals. Any reservations are interpreted with great distrust, one suspects the turbulent motives of those fellow people who feel misplaced in the pride culture of LGBT. The misplaced are suggested to convey evil or fascist; values opposing the equal value of all men.

Even a postmodern person, who usually ironize over the notion that there is something objectively true, is upset by Donald Trump’s sloppy use of facts. In such a situation, everyone knows that the boundary may not be completely obsolete, it is not entirely uninteresting if something is true or not.

The LGBT culture’s claim to constitute a new norm requires, of course, that heteronormativity is perverted. You can hardly claim both at the same time.

The term “norm criticism” presupposes that there has been a standard. But now that norm criticism approaches status as a new norm, it becomes problematic for those who want to cultivate what being queer is all about – because if queer is the norm, one might say that my own position as a traditional Christian is norm critical and therefore truly queer. However, I would be pleased if our debate climate would be characterized by Voltaire’s maxim. I think his words are something we all can agree upon.

The Dystopian Future of The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale, now streaming on HBO, is very political. Even more so today considering the state of the world.

The story is set in America about a hundred years into the future, and begins with a staged attack that kills the President and most of Congress. A Christian fundamentalist movement calling itself the Sons of Jacob launches a revolution and suspends the Constitution under the pretext of restoring law and order. A disease has made most women sterile, unable to procreate.

Things happen fast. The new, self-elected government take away women’s rights and freethinkers disappear without a trace. The new regime, the Republic of Gilead, moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society into a militarized, hierarchical regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism, turning the country into a theocratic dictatorship. Human rights are severely limited and women’s rights are even more curtailed. Women are forbidden to walk alone, forbidden to read, and the few fertile women that are not married live their lives being breeders.

The show speaks to us on many levels. Extremists are on the verge of gaining power in several countries, not mentioning the ones already in power. We see radical Islam being dealt with by more radicalism; Buddhism and Hinduism with questionable motives, often supported by nationalistic leaders; militant atheists speaking with voices filled with even more ignorance than the ones they’re trying to oppose.

This show is a frightening look at a future we have to prevent from becoming a reality.

The Steampunk Movement

What is Steampunk?

Steampunk can be described as science fiction in a Victorian setting. What began as a literary genre, has developed into a full creative boom that has become a subculture of clothing, art, film and music.

Origins

During the 1970s three science fiction writers joined up to create something new. Authors James P. Blaylock, Tim Powers and K. W. Jeter lived near each other and shared the same interest in the Victorian era. They used to hang out in pubs and discuss their writing and everything else under the sun. Encouraged by each other, they began to write stories adding science fiction elements in a Victorian setting. Examples of their creativeness can be found in K.W. Jeter’s Infernal Devices, Tim Powers’ Anubis Gates and James P Blaylocks’ Homunculus.

The three authors had no intention of starting a new sub-genre of science fiction. They simply wrote what they thought was fun, inspired by early science fiction and adventure writers of the 1800s such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Robert Louise Stevenson.

In 1987 K.W. Jeter wrote a letter to Locus Magazine that would later become historic:

Personally, I think Victorian fantasies will become the next big thing as long as we can come up with a term that describes Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the technology of the future; ‘Steampunk’ might…

With this letter, he coined the term steampunk. As the term steampunk spread, many other contemporary science fiction writers suddenly got a genre to describe their fictional creations.

Other books close to the heart of steampunk fans are books written in the 1800s. The epic novels by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells fall into this category. Verne and Wells did not, however, label their work as steampunk since the term didn’t occur in their era.

What’s the Craze All About?

Steampunk literature encompasses everything from steam engines to clockwork robots, and airships. Common protagonists are inventors, watchmakers, aristocrats and supernatural beings such as werewolves and vampires.

Some criticize steampunk for romanticizing 18th century England. It’s certainly is true that the steampunk genre exalts old design and use the aesthetic appeal of older technology. But in steampunk literature one also finds some criticism of the Victorian society. Some steampunk stories also dwell into the darker sides of the era, i.e. women’s oppression, class differences and racism.

I for one, hope steampunk books of the future will dare to tackle other topics and locations, thus adding more variety as the steampunk genre unfolds. Steampunk really can be applied to many other locations apart from Victorian London.

Movies and TV

One can find lots of movies with steampunk references. Sherlock Holmes, Hellboy, Wild Wild West and Hugo are good examples of movies influenced by steampunk. Anime uses steampunk characteristics in several movies. The more renowned are Howl’s Moving Castle and Steamboy.

As for TV series, one can find strong steampunk tendencies in the science fiction adventure series Warehouse 13. In the cult series Doctor Who, one can also find some steampunk technology and aesthetics.

Courtesy of https://www.polyvore.com/

A Steampunkish Attire

When it comes to steampunk clothing, it’s all about using your creativity to come up with a steampunkish look. I’ve seen everything from strict Victorian clothing to mad scientists in white coats and dresses. Creativity is the foundation of steampunk, and also one of the best things about this subculture; you can really let your imagination run free.

Some classical elements in the steampunk attire are necessary, though. The top hat, the mandatory goggles and the use of retro-futuristic technology. Steampunk enthusiasts usually make their clothes themselves.

Music

Steampunk music really has no specific sound. If a song is labelled as steampunk or not has more to do about the lyrics, atmosphere and the style of the band. This may sound superficial and confused but I think it’s fun. It makes steampunk music can play freely with different styles. Mix and mix at will, which usually creates the most enjoyable music. bands famous in steampunk circles are Abney Park, The Cog Is Dead and
Clockwork dolls, just to mention a few.

Courtesy of http://steampunker.de/

All About Making

An important aspect of steampunk is using your own imagination to create stuff. The maker movement is omnipresent in the steampunk subculture. There are a lot of inspiration to gather from communities that create computers in the steampunk style, instruments, weapons and so on. Reinventing the Victorian era by using DIY is what it’s all about!

Political Correctness?

You have the right to speak your mind, and so do others. Looking beyond the great Kingdom of Unixploria, the problem is that a minority in the Western world seem to think that they’re not allowed to speak their minds without being silenced by an elite.

I would like to know exactly what those people cannot say. I follow International media, and  I’m the first to agree about the fact that some issues have been labeled as inappropriate by mainstream media. Criticizing migration, feminism, and religious minorities are a few of those taboos. However, these taboos are there for a reason; they’re part of what the ruling majority holds to be true, thus wanting us all to espouse these views.

To be fair, I still criticize all three of them, and to this date I’ve not been silenced by anyone. Maybe it’s just because we live in a nation where true freedom of expression and freedom of press reign, but I’ve never been censored abroad either. The political leaders and media may not agree, but neither do I agree about everything the media or politicians are telling me.

We have no law preventing anyone from criticizing migration policies, feminists or religious communities, as long as we do not offend others. The pressure to fall in line is pretty hard, though. It is not easy being targeted as racist, chauvinist and conservative Christian, even though I kind of enjoy being called the latter.

In my opinion, a working democracy respects every man’s right to say what he or she believes to be the truth. Freedom of expression does not, however, mean that you can state blatant lies about other people, nor does it give you the right to use derogatory vocabulary. Within reason, you are free to express your views freely, or at least you should be able to do so.

I hate political correctness as much as the next guy, but if you are a victim of it you must also be able to tell others exactly what the political elite is preventing you from saying. I want to be able to think for myself, but I hate lies and prejudice even more.

It is time for all men and women regardless of color, creed or sexual orientation to end this useless media fight. We need to stand united behind our democratic ideas which gives everyone the chance to have their say as long as we keep it civil. Those who cannot stand behind this simple idea do not deserve my respect.

(And do not tell me to stop reading, watching or listening to the established, professional media. We do not always see eye to eye on matters, but that is after all, the whole point of democracy, having the right to think for yourself. Besides, you are always free to write your own articles, books or make your own podcasts.)

What is Racism?

WHAT IS RACISM?

A racist worldview assumes that human beings can be divided into different races. It is based on an idea that people’s appearance, skin color and other physical differences, would decide how talented we are and how we behave. Based on such alleged links between the appearance and racial characteristics, scientists used to rank human races. Historically, the white or Aryan race, according to a racist ideology, was considered to be the highest standing race.

HISTORICAL EXAMPLES

The most famous example of how a racist ideology has been used in practice, was when Adolf Hitler ruled Germany. Hitler believed that the Aryan race would rule the world and that the Jewish people were a threat to the survival of the white race. His solution was to gather all the Jews in camps. Other minorities were also included, such as gypsies, homosexuals and people with various types of mental illnesses. Those not killed at once had to work and live in camps in slave-like conditions.

South Africa also ran a racist policy between the years 1948 and 1990. In the so-called system of apartheid people with different skin colors were kept separated in all parts of society, from park benches to hospitals and schools. The white people of South Africa had both the economic and political power in the country, while people with different skin colors had little or no influence at all in the community.

RACISM TODAY

Racial biology has now been rejected as a science. There are no longer valid, scientific ideas which support ideas of superiority because of race. Yet, we read about people who supports a racist ideology. We now use the concept of racism in a wider meaning, i.e. a hostility towards certain groups or cultures that involves describing people in a negative, derogatory way without considering individual differences. The latter is sometimes referred to as cultural racism. Sometimes we also talk about xenophobia, which means that you have a negative perception of strangers in general.

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The Unixplorian government stands behind rejecting the idea of racism. We also think that there are very few people who actually believe in the own racial superiority. Human beings must never be measured by race, but rather for the individual skills and traits we all have.

We do, however, see cultural differences as part of the problematic clashes which occur when migrating minorities meet a culturally different majority population. We need to establish common rules in order to meet the challenges of globalization. We do not believe that all cultures are equal. Some cultures have evolved more than others, and must aid cultures that are less developed. 

Master Photographer Lennart Nilsson Dead

A 14 weeks old baby. Credits: A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson.

He became world famous with his pictures of the book “A Child is Born” which was released in 1965.

The book A Child is Born gave the world a whole new insight into the process from when an egg is fertilized until a child is developed. It took Nilsson a full twelve years to work on the images used for the book that was released for the first time in 1965.

As a pioneer of scientific photography, Lennart Nilsson worked tirelessly throughout his career, with a large number of prizes and books as a result. He was an accomplished artist and inspirational individual. He had an amazing career that has spanned decades.

Lennart Nilsson must have passed away on Saturday morning in the presence of his family at the age of 94.

In addition to his cutting-edge science, Lennart Nilsson was also a Court Photographer for the Royal Family of Sweden. He has documented the Royal Swedish Court since the 1940s. Among other things, Lennart Nilsson, took the official wedding picture of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.

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We believe that Nilsson’s photos of unborn babies were a milestone in the way we look at human life. The pro-choice movement cannot seriously look at these pictures and still claim that the lives of unborn babies are debatable.