Monday, 25 July 2011

What love looks like

A few pictures of what Norway looked like tonight, when everyone gathered in every city, to show their compassion and empathy to those affected by the terror on 22.07.2011.

What these pictures show in unison, is love, compassion, empathy - we are strong, we are one, we are democracy. We are Norway.

Vi slår ring rundt hverandre

Idag, klokken 12.00, ble det holdt et minutts stillhet rundt i Norge. På bilder jeg ser på nettet, ser man virkeligheten av hva det norske folket føler. Mennesker fra alle bakgrunner står ved siden av hverandre, hånd i hånd, i omfavnelse. Vi er alle nordmenn i dag - og sånn vil det fortsette.

Det som var ment å splitte oss, har forent oss. Det som var ment å ødelegge oss, har gjort oss sterke. Vi slår ring rundt de rammede, deres familier, alle pårørte - og vi slår ring rundt minnet av de som ble tatt fra oss.

Ingenting har for meg vist dette sterkere enn det jeg så på Torget i Trondheim idag, og det jeg ser fra bilder fra det ganske land. Ikke siden frigjøringen, har så mange vært samlet. I Trondheim anslås det 20,000! Det var faktisk så mange som hadde møtt opp i regnværet, at når fronten av fakkeltoget kom tilbake til Torget, var det fortsatt tusenvis som ikke hadde begynt å gå enda. Det ble bokstavelig talt slått en ring rundt hele Trondheim.

Himmelen gråter, men idag handler alt bare om kjærlighet, solidaritet og medmennesklighet.

22.07.2011 - The day that will change Norway

I've taken the liberty to translate this well-written comment/article by the Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen, as published on Aftenposten's web. The reason for doing so, is that I believe many of my english speaking friends would also like this text. I really do hope neither Aftenposten nor Mr. Jacobsen will mind.

"It's already been established - nothing will ever be the same after this. This friday will be remembered, just like we remember the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, the murder of Olof Palme, the London Bombings.. Others' national tragedies and traumas, that we shared with them. From a distance.

That distance is now gone. The unthinkable has happened - here. It's desperately close and extremely painful, like phantom pain, even for those of us who 'only' experience it through the media. The focused evil that these atrocities are commited with lacks any comparison in history. It's one of a kind.

Not at all likely.

And in the days and weeks to come it'll be important to hang on to exactly the fact that everything must be done in order to investigate if there have been flaws in the security or preventive measures. But we must not forget that even the most closely scrutinizing dictatorships can't predict and prevent the twisted ideas and actions of individuals. The great builders of our nation knew this. That safety is forged through democracy and open debate, through unwritten social contracts and mutual trust - not with barbed wire and wiretaps. Of course, the debate around our so-called naivety will be fuelled by this, the debate around the fragility and premises of an open society - for it is an important debate, one that must never be silenced.

The main point, however, is that when this country now changes, we will be able to set the direction ourselves - whether to be provoked into a harder path by a twisted nationless nationalist, or to choose our own path.

We have a choice.

We have as good as already made it, by forming a circle around the wounded and the affected, by  trying to take part in that impossible process they're in, to the best of our abilities. We picture those heroic youths that stood up for, and helped each other, staking their own lives when the terror hit; we feel pride for, and acknowledge the volunteers that showed up in masses, the scores of police, aid personell and health personell that through the last couple of days have gone far outside their duties to help. We gratefully confirm that they have shown us what we already knew, but might not always consider, that the Norwegian people is a people of solidarity and civility, a people with an ability for compassionate thought and actions.

We know who we are, and what we stand for. What we see on the TV these days, on the web sites and in the papers, is the soul of the Norwegian people. We see leaders that can speak, feel and think. We see wounded and affected in worthy, desperate suffering. We see a considerate media. As the foreign minister put it yesterday: "The Norway that emerges from this, will be recognizeable".

Everything suggests that he will be proven right. Exactly because of the fact that what we have witnessed, is not the symptoms of a sick society, but the catastrophic consequences of a warped mind - and ultimately: the ability of a living democracy to withstand it. That way, the perpetrator loses in every way."

Link to the original publication on Aftenposten:

Saturday, 23 July 2011

What happened?

This post will be mostly for my english speaking friends, seeking information on what has happened thus far in Norway.

On Friday July 22nd, at about 15.30 local time, a bomb went off in Oslo, causing a huge explosion in the heart of the political quarters in Norway. Police have so far not released any information as to exactly where the bomb went off, but it is believed that it was a car bomb, and that it went off in the vicinity of the governmental buildings in Grubbegata. Widespread panic ensued, but police, medical personal as well as firemen quickly arrived in the area and started securing the perimeter.

What we saw from media coverage in the area, reminded me of a war zone. Entire sides of buildings destroyed, windows blown out for at least a mile, rubble in the streets, people with blood on them. Not something one expects to see from Oslo.

Naturally, speculations started flying, and some media outlets started drawing parallells to islamic terror hits, while others tried to stay balanced and wait for more information.

Within the next few hours though, as if the bomb blast wasn't enough, we started getting information about a shooting in a summer camp. At Utøya (a small island where the Norwegian Labor Party Youth has a yearly gathering), apparently someone had started opening fire. We didn't know much at this point, but started talking among ourselves about the two incidents being connected. What made the situation even worse - if one can use a word like that - was knowing that the people on that island were mainly young people, ages 14 and up from what I can understand. Young people gathered to discuss politics, play football, barbecue, swim and generally have a good time.

As information started flowing in (much of it unconfirmed), it was mentioned that a person portraying himself as a police officer, had asked for a boat ride out to aforementioned island, under the pretence of informing the youth about the events that had taken place in Oslo.

Media was in shock. They tried collecting as much information as possible, all the while trying to stay balanced and not jumping to conclusions. A mistake by one of the broadcasters led to pictures being sent live from one of the choppers circling the island, and one could see a ghastly picture of some of the aftermath of the shootings.

When I went to bed at roughly 3 AM, police had started releasing some numbers. They said 7 were killed in the bomb blast, about 10 injured. They also said 10 were killed on the island, with 20+ being wounded, but they feared these numbers might go up. When I woke up, Norway was a different country..

The new numbers were simply unbelievable. At least 80 killed on the island, another 3 dozen or so badly wounded. The numbers from Oslo are unchanged as far as I know, but police have not yet concluded the search in the buildings to my knowledge.

An apprehension was made quickly after the shootings on the island took place. One man, an ethnic Norwegian (yes, that is a point of importance) 32 years of age, had been arrested. The gunman had been taken alive. What's known is that this individual had bought about 4 metric tons of fertilizer a few months back, that he has ties to right wing extremism and that he seems to be a succesful person. Anything else can only be deemed as speculations at this point. I will refrain from having any opinions about this person. First of all until he is convicted, but secondly because it won't bring back the people who were abruptly taken from us. No good will come of hating him. We will not forget him, but hopefully his ideas (if that was in fact his motives) will hopefully slide into oblivion with a whimper.

Now, to the best of my knowledge, those are the facts thus far.

But as in every tragedy, it's so much bigger than facts. Today, we have been getting eye witness reports, from people who escaped the island, people who aided them, statements from heads of state etc. Some stories are amazing, like the people who got in their boats and immediately drove towards the island to help the people that swam for their lives - to all the people involved in the supportive roles, like health personel, hospital staff, firemen, pilots, police and everyone else who dropped everything and came to help.

Other stories are so horrendous, I don't even know how to start describing them. Kids who saw their friends get killed in front of their eyes, swimming for their lives or hiding in terror, being lured to open ground by someone posing as a police officer - a person of authority that we usually trust with our safety. Young people trying to save their friends, conducting CPR on gunshot victims.

Throughout the events, I can't help but feel pride in how our politicians have handled the matter. All things partisan have been put aside, even though sneaky reporters have been trying to color the events in party politics. They acted calmly, expressed compassion and warmth, and strength - in a time where everyone were glued to their source of information. They insisted on not jumping to conclusions, to not demonize or point fingers. This was not the time for blame, it was a time for compassion. Our prime minister said in a speech "We must show that our open society withstands even these trials. The answer to violence is more democracy, more openess, but never naivety [...] Norway stands united in times of crisis [...] We are a small nation, but a proud nation [...] No one will frighten us into not being Norway".

And the people I know - I admire them. The compassion I saw expressed on facebook, people retweeting important information about contact numbers for family and friends, contact information for blood donors etc. They mostly acted calm, collected, and tried to be helpful. The few and far between that tried using the events to promote political ideas or hate, were quickly beaten down with a uniform feeling of compassion and solidarity.

But even so. The events that happened yesterday will forever live on as a memory. It will not break us. It will not discourage us. But it will always be there. My thoughts and compassion goes out to all those afflicted by these horrendous events. My heart cries for you.

For further reading, some fellow bloggers have written some excellent pieces. Some are factual, others about how something like this affects them personally. Links below:

Et samlet Norge

Utpå natta har det kommet en god del mer informasjon enn vi satt med tidligere idag. En mann er pågrepet, bekreftet etnisk norsk. Navn og ytterligere informasjon synes jeg er unødvendig å nevne her da det finnes tilgjengelig i diverse media for de som ønsker det.

Det varmet hjertet mitt å se hvordan mennesker jeg kjenner taklet situasjonen i løpet av dagen. Folk var flinke til å oppfordre sine venner til å ikke overreagere, ikke spre frykt, ikke peke fingre og ikke demonisere folkegrupper etc. For det viste seg nemlig å ikke være tilknytning til den "enkle løsningen", altså islamistiske grupperinger. Det var til og med islamistiske grupper som påtok seg ansvaret i visse web-fora (riktignok ikke kredible kilder ifølge eksperter). Nå ser det altså ut til at vi ser at hat ikke har noen farge eller kultur. Hat er bare hat. Derfor synes jeg vi burde holde oss for gode til å hate mannen bak handlingene. Tro meg, han fortjener sin straff, som han nok også kommer til å få. Men det hjelper lite at vi bruker energi på å hate denne personen. Bruk heller energien på noe fornuftig!

Media var forståelig fomlende i starten, siden stort sett ingen visste hva som hadde skjedd, langt mindre hvem som sto bak. Det tok imidlertid ikke lang tid før et samlet norsk pressekorps så ut til å samle seg og utvise en profesjonell standard av ypperste klasse. De påpekte stadig at man skulle være forsiktig med å spekulere, og at man heller skulle avvente, la myndighetene gjøre jobben sin, og heller trekke konklusjoner når nok fakta lå på bordet.

Politisjefen, politikerne og Kongen oppførte seg også eksemplarisk, etter min mening. De avslo alle former for spekulasjoner, og la til side politiske agendaer og holdt seg for gode til å spre fryktpolitikk. Stoltenberg gikk til og med et steg videre, og oppfordret til at "Vold må besvares med MER demokrati og MER åpenhet, men ALDRI naivitet".

Jeg er stolt av hvordan vi som nasjon har taklet dette enn så lenge. Glassmesterne i Oslo er allerede ute og rydder opp og setter opp nye ruter, ryddemannskaper jobber natta gjennom for å rydde opp. "Vi skal ikke la dette påvirke oss" ser ut til å være det gjennomgående temaet i Oslo.

Det er også nesten befriende at mannen som er arrestert i forbindelse med handlingene ser ut til å være tilknyttet høyreekstreme miljøer. Befriende fordi det ville vært fullstendig ødeleggende for kampen for et multietnisk samfunn hvis dette hadde vært handlinger fra for eksempel en islamistisk gruppering. Det er fælt å si det, men så trangsynt er dessverre verden. Et annet punkt som jeg synes er bra, er at mannen ble pågrepet LEVENDE. Jeg kan tenke meg en del andre steder i verden hvor de ville kjørt på en "skyt først, spør senere"-taktikk i en slik situasjon. Uten en gjerningsmann i live har man ingen å spørre om motiv etc.

Jeg håper at dagen idag vil påvirke oss positivt, og ikke lede til en nasjon i frykt, slik vi har sett i andre land. "Norge står sammen i krisetider [...] Vi er en liten nasjon, men vi er en stolt nasjon [...] Ingen skal få skremme oss fra å være Norge [...] Vi må vise at vårt åpne samfunn består også denne prøven. Vold må besvares med enda mer demokrati, og enda mer åpenhet, men aldri naivitet", sa Stoltenberg. Det oppsummerer vel det meste.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Terror har kommet til Norge

I dag har jeg vært vitne til bilder jeg ikke hadde ventet å se fra Oslo.

Det som i skrivende stund (om som langt på veg er bekreftet i media) ser ut til å være en bombe-eksplosjon rammet i 15.30-tiden Oslo Sentrum, midt i det politiske hjertet. Det er ikke kjent eksakt hvor bomben gikk av - det nevnes at det kan ha vært en bilbombe, mens andre skildringer kan tyde på at bomben gikk av inne i et av regjeringsbyggene. Det spekuleres også i hvorvidt det kan ha vært flere bomber involvert.

Viktigst av alt nå, må være at vi tar vare på hverandre, sørger for at de vi kjenner i området har det bra - og at vi ikke begynner med demonisering av folkegrupper. Vi må for all del IKKE la en slik handling gi nytt liv i gamle hat-diskusjoner. I Norge har vi vært flinke til å kritisere blant annet USA for slike tendenser, så nå får vi se om vi selv kan holde tunga rett i munnen.

Noen timer etter eksplosjonen i Oslo meldes det om at en mann - utkledd som politi og under påskudd av å skulle snakke med noen angående bomben i Oslo - reiste til Utøya med båt. Mannen var bevæpnet. På Utøya arrangeres for tiden AUFs sommersamling, og en av gjestene var Gro Harlem Bruntland. Det ble løsnet flere skudd, og ubekreftede meldinger sier at minst fem personer er skutt og såret. Jeg har enda ikke sett noe som tyder på dødsfall der ute.

Nyhetene på TV melder nå om minst 7 omkomne i eksplosjonen i Oslo, og dette er nok et tall som vil fortsette å stige.

At Norge deltar i krig og deltar såpass tungt i internasjonal politikk, har nå vist seg å få ganske kraftige konsekvenser. Det er dog fortsatt viktig at vi forholder oss rolige, får fakta på bordet, og ikke starter en slik "fear mongering" taktikk som ved flere tilfeller skremmer opp folk og gjør mer skade enn nytte.

Vet ikke helt hvordan man runder av en post om noe av denne karakteren, så jeg avslutter med linker til oppdaterte nyhetssaker:

Friday, 15 July 2011

Awesome Dubstep

Since I've already written a bit about filthstep, I thought I'd share a few of the tunes I currently favor. I'm in a pretty solid dubstep period at the moment, where 3/4 of the music I listen to daily fits into the genre somehow. Here are a few of the tunes:

First one can't be missed. DJ Fresh has accomplished what no other dubstep or d'n'b dj has managed; a UK #1. With the track "Louder" which features the brilliant Sian Evans, he's taking the world by storm, and by god - it's a massive tune. Here's the official video:

The mood of the video is simply brilliant. Worth checking out also is the remix done by Flux Pavilion and Doctor P (both from Circus Records). The video seen below is someone doing a great job with the track:

Next track isn't as fresh as the above one (pun intended), but still one of the tracks I really enjoy:

Now, Feed Me is the very same Jon Gooch who also goes under the name "Spor" when making hard-hitting, dark and menacing drum and bass. The man is nothing short of a genius, which he shows in one of the other tracks currently burning up my playlists:

Now, the next one also features a Doctor P remix, it's a real banger this time too:

The next one is a bit on the heavier side, and comes from Koan Sound (could only find a clip of this on YT):

The last two tracks is from a London duo called 16bit, which are currently signed to MTA (Chase & Status' label). First track is a properly heavy track, and the second one is just as heavy, but might seem a bit weird to some. I dig them both, and the second track feels like a very fresh variation in this genre:

So, that's it for this time. I'll try to make this a regular thing, and make it like a bi-weekly thing or something, where I post some of my current favourite dubstep tracks, for you to enjoy. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

My definition of Filthstep

So you might have been hearing about a style of music - or genre, if you will - called dubstep. Now, for many, this term is equally general to say "rock". So, I'm gonna give a few examples of a sub-genre I started calling "filthstep" about a year ago, when I first heard Freestylers - Cracks (Flux Pavilion remix):

Now, given, this is at the lighter end of the scale of what I call filthstep. Better examples would be Borgore, Noisia, Skrillex, Phear Phace, Dodge & Fuski. Here's two examples of properly filthy music:

So, in my opinion, the sub-genre characterized by heavy basslines, lots of fuzz and distorted sounds, should be called filthstep. Now, granted, there might be several people actually using other names for it - I'm just proposing a suggestion here.

Why? Well, allthough I agree that good music is good music, and doesn't really need a label or genre, I also believe it can be useful to have distinctions between certain "sounds" or "styles", when you're trying to get new impressions and tips similar to some track that you like. For example, a track by Joker called "The Vision (Jessie Ware version), is one of my absolute favourites these days. But it hardly fits the general dubstep label, nor the filthstep label. Some call it "chillstep". That might be a good term? Check it out yourself:

TLDR; I propose we introduce the term filthstep!