Today I took a Covid 19 antibody-test and now I’m waiting for the results… We’ll see.
I generally avoid being too political in my blog, as I do not like how much those discussions tend to derail on the Internet and therefore, I try to avoid adding to this train wreck. But a friend of mine hinted me about a political post made by Ida Nafstad and Amin Parsa who are both associated with Lund’s university here in Sweden. The post was published by several local newspapers, including Sydsvenskan on the 18th of July 2020. As it is in Swedish, I have had to translate the excerpts I am quoting in my comment.
The article starts with the soft touch of a sledgehammer with the headline “The alternative to today’s racist police work: dismantle the police”. Right! Where do we start?
To cook down their article, they make the following claims:
- The police mostly target poor people in poor parts of the towns in Sweden.
- Everyone who is rich does is much more unlikely to have problem with the police and thus get away.
- The rich should be criminal, instead of the poor.
- They argue that some problems should be handled by others than the “Monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force” as they call the police (Swedish term: “Våldsmakt”/”Våldsmonopol”). This is a correct term sometimes assigned to a nation’s police- and military forces.
- The police is inherently racist.
Those are only the most egregious parts of their article, but it says plenty already. They claim:
“We state that only minimal problems in our society need to be solved by the “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force” and that the police can by and large be removed.”
Two questions from yours truly:
- What do they suggest instead?
- What do you think will happen if you dismantle the police here in Sweden?
First question: So, what DO they suggest instead?
“A redistribution of resources can be used for local initiatives, for an example where the citizens themselves negotiate in conflicts. To stigmatize some parts of the city as parallel societies will only make social problems worse”.
Awww…. Come on! This is not dismantling anything. You just delegate the tasks to anyone you think should do it instead. And who will decide this? You? Your equally disconnected-from-reality friends? Should the remainder of the police decide this by deputizing some unqualified local guy every time something happens?
Becoming a police officer is not easy. Physical strength and agility is a must and good observational skills, being able to be cool under pressure, having social skills and the ability to be fair and restrained will be tested. Fail on either of these skills, and you will in fact not be joining the force. The requirements are tough and will make you prove you can justly serve the law.
So, let’s look into how it may work after you remove the police in Sweden…
If whoever-is-still-in-charge deputize someone who is unlikely to be qualified for the task, and they kill someone, whose fault is that anyway? If you say the police, well, bad news, they’re actually not there anymore due to your actions. And if there are some governance left, they can’t do much about it. There will not be a police force that can penalize the errant deputy… What you have in effect done is removing the nation’s control over its criminality. ALL criminality. To quote Hudson: – “Game over, man”.
Second question: What do you think will happen if you dismantle the police here in Sweden?
There is an old joke that goes something like “Every country has a military force – its own or someone else’s”. The same can be said about the police. Remove the police and just wait awhile. Anarchy is weirdly self-organizing and the government watching over you will be replaced by the local warlord’s own police force. This one will not have rules of engagement, regulations and limits to what it can do. Just try to protest them and see where that gets you… Probably very dead.
The new policing will be as good or bad as the local leader is and wants it to be.
Being rich is bad?
The article notes that there is an app called WCCRZ (White Collar Crime Risk Zone) that tries to detect financial crimes, which are more common among the part of the population that is rich .
Its creator states “as opposed to many other control apps that criminalizes being poor WCCRZ criminalizes being rich”.
Our two Don Quixote-afflicted brainiacs seem to agree with this point, missing the whole idea with the project…
The point of this project, which the article off course doesn’t bother to tell you, is that it uses satire to point out flaws in some sites and services predicting crimes using questionable algorithms and historical data.
The project is not trying to say that the world will be full of unicorns and rainbows by removing the police altogether. It does, however, note that other predictive policing services do show proof of racial bias. I do not deny this.
So, the police are flawless?
No, I do not think so. And my worries lie along the lines of them having too much capacity to keep an eye on people that are not suspected of any wrongdoing. But that is out of the scope of this discussion. For me, it is quite easy to see that our police force and by extension military, although sometimes flawed, is a force for good in Sweden.
And, no, I do not think the police force in itself is racist here in Sweden.
And to sum it up
I have tried very hard not to speculate about their political views and possible affiliations, but I doubt the article is anything less than a tip of an iceberg. Applying Hanlon’s razor, I choose incompetence over malice here. But I may have to revise this decision.
This misinterpretation of the whole world around them is asinine at best and dangerous at worst. The researchers seem to be living in dream world and have a … if I put it kindly … loose connection with reality. And some screws too…
Flaws with predictive policing (It does add racial bias):
In our podcast, I and Mattias discuss the future of policing in a world of face recognition (podcast is in Swedish):
The Amiga CD32 was pretty much the last gasp of Commodore before they went out of business. A gaming console that had the potential to turn everything around, but due to a number of mistakes and problems never got the chance.
It was basically a cut down Amiga 1200 with a CD-rom reader. It’s a cool little thing. But after nearly 30 years, the laser reading the CDs was on it’s last legs. So I bough a new laser pickup from Hong Kong and replaced it.
The calibration was tough as the potentiometers did not act like was described in the guide. But I got it to work within specifications through a lot of trial-by-horror.
The situation was shaky until I lubricated the mechanic parts with oil, after which it started working fairly.
Afterwards, the test CD, a jazz collection signed by legendary Swedish radio DJ Leif “Smoke rings” Andersson, loaded right away. It tracked the CD mostly righr, but there are two places where the player gets stuck. And other CDs doesn’t work as well. So it was an improvement, but not as good as I had hoped for.
Probably have to have another go at it later. But for now, it’s a least decent rather than mostly broken…
A week ago, I woke up to my radio and the program that was on, told me about a long forgotten record format that was very popular in the 40s and 50s here in Sweden. I’ll talk more about it in a moment, but first let me tell you a story…
My grand father on my maternal side, Sven Emmer, lived with his family in Norrköping, Sweden. They would later move to Stockholm, but in the late 40s, the second world war was over and for amateur radio hobbyists, things were looking better as the Swedish government had lifted the ban on using radio equipment that could transmit. This meant that a lot of radio amateurs were coming back to the airwaves, and Sven was one of them. He actually started the Norrköping radio club sk5bn, which operates to this day. As its first chairman of the board, he spent a lot of time there, which put a strain on his relationship with his wife Alice Emmer (my grand mother). In 1947, the whole family went to the club on a Sunday and recorded a lacquer record where Sven and Alice talked and Åke (my uncle) and Britta (my mother) also appeared. Åke did so quite eagerly, but Britta was too shy obviously. The running time for both sides is just a few minutes, but it was the only way most people could record sound at the time. The open reel tape recorder as something that ordinary people owned became a thing first during the 50s.
The record is in my ownership today as Åke died in the 80s and my mother gave the little piece of history that it was to me last year. I had no idea how to play it, but just so happens, I had a record player that was on its last legs. I intended to replace it a few weeks later, so I decided to use it to play the record even if there was a chance the needle would be damaged in the process. It was no problem getting the sound out and recorded digitally, but as the record had no proper lead-in or lead-out, dropping the needle correctly proved to be a bit of a challenge. When the recording was done, another problem had to be solved: it ran the wrong speed. The record was meant to be played at 78 RPM, which my player just could not do. The sound editing program had no problem letting me adjust the playback speed. So here is the content of the record, for a walk down memory lane:
Is this how it’s supposed to sound? Probably close to right, but the stereo-pickup meant to play normal long playing records was most likely not optimal for this task. So I guess with the correct equipment, it would have sounded clearer and better, but hearing what was said should be easy. And the low quality of the record is alas what it sounded like, as the technology was very primitive and not up to par with the proper studio recording equipment that was available to the professional recording studios of the day.
A Swedish history of lacquer records
The Aftén-brothers. Leo and George came to Stockholm in Sweden in 1930, and soon started playing in jazz bands. They later started a studio where artists could record their music directly to a record. Editing was not possible, so you had only one chance to make it work per record you used.
Erik Lindström was the man who created the recording mechanism later used by the Aftén brothers. He had a store in famous Swedish park “Skansen”, where the visitors could create a recordings and take it home as a memory..
The most common lacquer record was built on a base of paper with a veneer of … well … lacquer. I’m not sure if this is exactly how the record I now own was built or if it’s a different type of record, but I guess it’s pretty much the same.
The podcast that inspired me to write this post (It’s in Swedish):
Everything seems to be running… More to come (eventually)