Friday, November 04, 2005

Contract with Denmark / Vote Strange 

Immigrants to Denmark are now being asked to sign a contract in which they recognize the conditions of their existence in Denmark. Among those conditions, it should come as no surprise, are loyalty to Denmark and to its values.

Politiken has chosen, in the article linked above, to frame this story around the big Muslim festival of the end of Ramadan. Their article begins, "While Muslims celebrated the end of the month of fasting and showed their loyalty to Allah, on the Immigration Ministry's website they could read the words of a new contract, which new Danes will henceforward have to sign—a declaration of loyalty to Denmark." (There's a picture of some kids on hand at Valby Hall to celebrate the end of the Muslim fast.)

Here must they acknowledge, among other things, that one has to work and pay taxes, that one cannot hit one's children, and that the sexes have equality.

If one's a refugee, one has to attest that one will move home again if the conditions in the homeland improve. The contract is the result of the summer's integration agreement between the government and the Danish Folk Party.

In terms of describing the contract, that's it. Suddenly there's a subtitle declaring "Find It Insulting," under which we have three short sentences in which the contract is dismissed by critics.

Some new Danes find the contract disrespectful and insulting.

Journalist and Author Rusty Rashind calls it "suspicious-making."

Ahmed Dualeh, spokesman for the Somali Union in Aalborg, says: "The government thinks it's talking to a bunch of barbarians."

I'll take Dualeh's point a step further: the government is talking to a bunch of barbarians. Unfortunately, rather than isolate the barbarians and deal with them seperately, the government is trying to reach them by means of a general wash. When we see honor killings on the streets of Copenhagen, I don't think it's unfair to say that barbarians have indeed established themselves in Denmark, but I doubt they're going to be very intimidated by the fact that they've signed a contract. They are, after all, barbarians.

And yet there must be at least nine honest and productive immigrants entering the country for every barbarian, and these "good" immigrants are more likely to read, understand, and abide by the contract—which makes no difference, since they'd probably abide by its conditions even without having signed it. So the contract strikes me as a losing proposition in that respect.

On the other hand, what are Dualeh and Rashind complaining about? Which particular clause in the contract (no, I don't have time to translate the whole thing) do they find so objectionable? And why does Politiken have to go framing the whole story of the contract as some insidious anti-Islamic thing? When did immigration become the exclusive province of Muslims?

The subtext here isn't very subtextual: religious celebrants showing their loyalty to Allah, the article seems to imply, are unknowingly in violation of the stipulation that their highest loyalty be to Denmark and its values. Fair enough... but stop the press! Here comes Christmas. Worse, here comes the season of the Christmas Lunch, a riotous and liquor-lubricated season of festive and drunken merry-making in the name not of Denmark, but of that nice Jewish kid who got nailed to some sticks two thousand years ago. Imagine if the article began like this:

"While Christians celebrated the coming of Christmas and showed their loyalty to Jesus Christ, on the Immigration Ministry's website they could read the words of a new contract, which new Danes will henceforward have to sign—a declaration of loyalty to Denmark."

So I retract my bewilderment. I get it. The article is framed the way it is because non-Christians can't honor their faith and their loyalty to Denmark, so the contract is a kind of Catch-22. A non-Christian can't sign in good conscience, because the state church of Denmark is Lutheran.

This is why it's a good idea to get your church and government seperated. That way your citizens can be loyal to their religion and their country.

* * *

Meanwhile, 24 Chinese babies have disappeared from Nordsjælland (North Zealand, the island on which Copenhagen sits).

The headline's misleading: it's 24 children since February, not a sudden disappearance of two dozen kids. They've been disappearing from an asylum center in Græsted. And it isn't as though they're being kidnapped: they're simply finding homes. The only problem is that the Chinese couple charged with "placing" them is apparently making a tidy profit on the placement deals, which sounds a little (to state prosecutors) like human trafficking, even though its more like aggressive adoption marketing.

The prosecutor's name in this case is Susanne Bitsch.

Which reminds me: I haven't written much about the municipal elections coming up, but one candidate has certainly piqued my interest: Simon Strange. That's his name. His website is StemStrange.dk, which translates literally as "Vote Strange." (Yeah, I know, in Denmark it's pronounced with a soft a and a glottal "ng," but still.)

Monday, October 31, 2005


I thought I published this yesterday. I obviously didn't. It's pointless and seems even more pointless in retrospect, but I don't have time to get into the whole Danish Priests versus Dandruff Ad thing right now, so this will have to do for now.

What follows was written yesterday.

* * *

I'm blogging over lunch because I don't have much time today. (How can virtual unemployment keep me so busy?) There are a couple of things I wanted to blog about over the weekend but never got around to.

The first is that I found out what was wrong with the JustMorons site: Wilma was. Here's a note I got from my hosting provider (it's easily skimmable):

Dear Verio shared hosting customer:

Please see the customer message below from our CEO on the impact of Hurricane Wilma. This letter was originally provided Thursday, Oct. 27 to all of our impacted customers who were hosted in the Florida facility. The letter was sent via a link from your online control panel and the Hurricane Wilma information site on verio.com.

October 27, 2005

Since Hurricane Wilma came ashore in the south Florida area Monday morning, many of our shared hosting customers have been impacted by power and service interruption this week. We know that the past few days have proven difficult for all of you whose businesses have been affected.

I would like to first offer my sincere apology for this disruption as I realize that this event has had an enormous impact on many of your business operations. As you know, Verio prides itself on its track record for performance, service and reliability. We have extensive disaster recovery plans that have been put into place, tested and re-tested in an effort to prevent events of this magnitude. Unfortunately, we had a system failure with respect to a critical piece of our backup infrastructure and we take this issue very seriously. In our earlier updates to customers provided on our information site on verio.com, we provided detail on the cause of the service interruption and what we have been doing to rectify the situation and restore service.

As noted, the south Florida facility is now operational and has full municipal electrical power. We have restored service to customers, the systems have stabilized and the servers are operating at normal capacity. Of course, we continue to closely monitor the system and will quickly rectify any problems that arise. Please be assured that Verio has been 100% focused on resolving this issue and helping to ensure our customers' online business services are operating.

With the hurricane causing extensive damage to the south Florida area, and disrupting electrical service to millions, the generators, which were tested and were operating as expected, later failed on Monday morning, Oct. 24, 2005. We deployed internal and external teams of technicians and specialists to identify and repair the problem. These efforts included flying in specialists from around the country to restore service as soon as possible. Although we successfully brought the generators back online Tuesday morning, they failed again on Tuesday afternoon, and our continued attempts to bring in alternate generator power were delayed due to the catastrophe in the greater south Florida area. With extensive effort, manpower and resources, we successfully restored the data center power back early Wednesday morning, Oct. 26, 2005, and full electrical service to the data center was restored Wednesday afternoon.

Again, we realize the impact that many of our customers have experienced. In consideration of the impact that this outage has caused our customers, Verio will issue a full one month credit to Verio customers who are hosted in the Florida facility. We will shortly provide specific details as to the process Verio will initiate to credit each such customer.

We will be conducting a detailed review and assessment of the generator failure, and plan to give our customers the results of this review as a follow up, as well as telling you about our future plans to ensure this type of occurrence does not happen again.

Your business is important to us and we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding. We will continue to work around the clock to stay on top of this situation and provide additional information to you.

Kiyoshi Maeda
President and Acting CEO
Verio Inc., an NTT Communications Company

They explain, they apologize, and they throw in a little candy. It's nice to see a big company that can actually handle crisis communications better than the average third-grader. I'm trying to imagine how Microsoft might have responded in similar circumstances. "Hi, this is Microsoft, our servers were down because of a problem you can read more about in knowledgebase article 43211GA54-a, if you have an MS Hurricane Outage Emergency Service Contract. If you don't, you can subscribe now and receive 20% savings or you can eat a cold bowl of fuck."

* * *

A friend with a sense of humor knew I was looking for work and sent me this listing from Craig's List Chicago:

Revolutionary Publisher/Media Group Seeking Submissions
Reply to: job-105045567@craigslist.org
Date: 2005-10-18, 5:55PM CDT

Arissa Media Group is a limited liability company (LLC) formed in Portland, Oregon in 2003. Our mission is quite simple. We believe that a revolution is necessary in the United States of America to rid the world of one of the greatest terrorist organizations in planetary history, the US government. The historical record of domestic and foreign policy atrocities committed by the US government, combined with decades of unsuccessful attempts at reform, indicate that only a political and social revolution in the United States can provide an atmosphere where fundamental change is a possibility.

While the creation of a revolutionary movement is a necessity in the United States, we are aware that a true revolutionary consciousness is lacking amongst the American public. Arissa Media Group was created to assist in building that revolutionary consciousness by producing various forms of professional quality media all united with one educational aim - to demonstrate the necessity for a revolution in the United States.

Keeping in mind the above mission, Arissa Media Group welcomes submissions for print, audio, and video projects. Please send only a high quality project proposal and not complete manuscripts or other projects. If we are interested in your project we will contact you for more information. To submit a project proposal please mail a proposal, cover letter, and resume/cv to:

Arissa Media Group
P.O. Box 6058
Portland, Oregon 97228

*We will not accept submissions over email.
For all other inquiries please contact us at:

Arissa Media Group
P.O. Box 6058
Portland, Oregon 97228
(503) 703-6069
Job location is anywhere

Compensation: TBD

no -- Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
no -- Please, no phone calls about this job!
no -- Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
yes -- Reposting this message elsewhere is OK.

If you go to Arissa's website (no way I'm going to post a link, but you'll see its address above), you can see their "Catalogue" page, which offers, among the usual assortment of latte-revolutionary books, the "Arissa Poster." It's a downloadable Acrobat file that I'm not going to link to, but which I did download and read.

The site urges you to "Download and distribute this free Arissa poster inspiring readers to take action against the US government."

First of all, it's not actually inspiring readers to take action against the U.S. government (which would, I think, be illegal). It does, however, exhort them to visit arissa.org.

Arissa.org is mostly under construction, but you'll see they have one "chapter," in Buffalo. You'll also notice they're apparently built around the organizing principle of getting Lynne Stewart out of jail.

So the "revolutionary" poster leads to the "revolutionary" website that leads to the "revolutionary" notion that Lynne Stewart shouldn't be in jail.

And the poster dares to ask why activists are feeling a little disillusioned these days? Hell, if I were a revolutionary I'd want to overthrow Arissa on principle. I'd want to march into their headquarters and decapitate their leaders and set the building on fire. (If I were a revolutionary.)

If you're gonna be a revolutionary and you're scared to walk the walk, at least have the nosser to talk the talk.

But it raises an interesting question. I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, so I honestly have no clue: is there a legal distinction between actively calling for the overthrow of the government, and merely claiming that you're calling (or will call, or have called) for the overthrow of the government? In a parallel vein, pretend it's libel if I own a newspaper and publish statement X about you. Would it be equally libelous if I'd merely given an interview to another newspaper in which I told them that I'd libeled you in my newspaper?

And what the hell am I doing wondering about all this? What do I care? What does it matter?

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