Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Renovation disclaimer

This website is currently in a state of renovation, and various problems can occur as a result—ranging from intermittent technical issues to inconsistencies in contents. There might, in particular, be temporary inconsistencies in navigational structures, e.g. the list of links for a certain category, because my framework was originally written to update the entire website at once, while the renovations run easier with one-page-at-a-time.

The duration of this state might be quite long, with intended work including incorporation of offline writings and writings from my old Wordpress blog, corrections to old writings in light of an improved understanding, adjustments for accumulated link rot, a consistent switch to https, and a number of other tasks. This while I will probably only be able to spend a few hours a week on the necessary works.


Side-note:

Importantly, changes to existing pages, including this page, will in part be the incorporation of changes that I performed offline during my cut-off-from-the-Internet phase (cf. below). Such changes are, then, recently published but not recently written, and do not necessarily reflect my current opinions, my own current situation, or the current state of a great many other things, ranging from what music is popular to who is at war with whom.

(These changes are more extensive than I remembered, affecting more than a hundred pages, if often in a trivial manner. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just merging in and publishing the changes, as I do not know whether any individual change was in a state suitable for publication or needed additional work, and have to read and revise correspondingly. There are also some two dozen new-but-unpublished pages from that period that I have to look into. I might have been in more of a hurry to get back to work, had I remembered...)


A particularity is a shift towards political writings, which are hardly mentioned in older descriptions of this site. Generally, meta-information, information dealing with this site it self, will only be updated over time. (This includes the remainder of this page.)

The situation is ultimately rooted in my being (privately) cut off from the Internet for a prolonged period around 2012, after a move to an apartment where DSL proved impossible. Once I was back on the Internet again, I was also on a different computer, various repositories and passwords existed only in backups (and where in those backups?), and I was bogged down with work and endless travel-for-work. Years went by, during which I fulfilled my need to write with Wordpress (the “path of least resistance” in the short term; no matter how poor that platform is) and involved myself with private projects of a different nature, including writing several fiction books (which might or might not be published here at some future date).

Come 2023, after a break of ten (!) years, give or take, I am finally set on starting over here. In particular, I have had it with the user-hostile crap that Wordpress constantly pulled. (As a general observation, taking the easy way in the short term often amounts to the hard way in the long term—I would have been far better off, had I immediately bit the bullet, taken the time to sort this site out, and kicked Wordpress to the curb, once I was back on the Internet. Not only have I paid for this short-term gain with countless Wordpress annoyances, but the work now needed is far larger than back then—notably, to integrate the many hundred Wordpress texts in a suitable manner.)

Introduction

These pages are mainly an exploration of various ideas and thoughts of mine on how humans tick and interact, issues relating to software development, language and writing, and a number of other things. A minor part is dedicated to my freelance software consulting business (in German). One category contains information about this website it self—as does most of the page you are currently reading.

As time goes by, large amounts of content will be added, in particular reflecting hundreds of hand-written pages with thoughts that I assembled during a sabbatical. Topics include management issues, the problems that those with unusual ways of thinking (due to higher intelligence or by merely “being wired differently”) encounter, my own personal development, attempts to decode the mystery that is humankind in general and women in particular, various aspects of software development, good/bad practices, language issues, ... Interesting anecdotes about being a foreigner in Germany, however, will be few and far between—despite the domain name.

Beware that even the roughly 250 pages already present only reflect a part of the eventual total, both because of existing material that is not yet incorporated and because of entirely new material being continually added. In particular, the current texts will not always represent my complete opinion on the topics in question, will lack interconnections with other (yet unwritten pages), and so on. Further, my opinions tend to be refined, revised, occasionally even rejected, as time goes by. Correspondingly, you should make interpretations with care.


Side-note:

It has been argued that webpages should be written for scannerse. By the very nature of my intentions, this is not possible—this site is almost necessarily written for those few who like to read, not just scan. It is not intended to please the masses, gain a following, attract “diggs”, or otherwise be popular. It would be nice if it does; but as long as the purposes discussed below are met, I will be fully content.


Recent additions and major changes

There are currently ongoing changes to existing contents as per the above Renovation disclaimer. Such changes will only be mentioned here in exceptional cases, if at all. Other changes normally worthy of mention will be much rarer until considerable progress with the renovation has been reached. Do not hold your breath.

2023-12-04: Added page on issues around help.

2023-11-30: Added page on use and abuse of “people”.

2023-11-19: Added page on Voting as a civic duty?.

2023-11-16: Added page on categories of laws.

2023-11-07: Added a 2012 page on Mailbox quotas and faulty priorities.

Who am I?

More information than most readers will ever want to know is available on my about me page. The gist: I am Michael Eriksson—a Swede in Germany. Professionally, I am a software consultant; privately, a thinker, reader, writer, and [whatever my current interest happens to be]-er.


Side-note:

For those who consider English an odd choice for “a Swede in Germany”: The Swedish and German versions would be “en svensk i Tyskland” and “ein Schwede in Deutschland”, respectively.

Because most of this site is directed at a non-local audience, I preferred English.


The purpose of my writings

I set out with two main purposes:

  1. To help develop my understanding of myself, others, the world in general, and so on, The implication is that much of what I write consists of ideas, conclusions, speculations, ... that I consider interesting (or considered interesting at the time) to me; and that it is quite possible that many entries are re-inventions of the wheel or insights many others have at some stage in their development. See also this discussion of benefits that I gain.

  2. To help others with similar minds (strongly introverted, highly intelligent, extremely rational, with an unusual development path) learn to cope with a world where the majority of the population has a very different character, and often, by ignorance, irrationality, or intolerance, makes life hard for those of us who are different.

Soon a third major purpose developed (together with some minor others): To light a candle against the darkness of incompetence that permeates so much of this world.

One of the main principles behind my approach to this third purpose: It is more important not to screw up than to excel. By merely avoiding as many common mistakes as possible, excellence (by almost all standards) will be an automatic consequence. Failure to excel is more founded in making avoidable mistakes than in lack of genius—up to a certain high level. Until that level, most activities (including software development and writing) should be seen as crafts, not arts. Just eliminating the most common errors will take (almost) anyone to “average”; successfully eliminating further and further errors and mistakes will lead to “very good”—be the starting point even “abysmal”.

Only to reach beyond “very good”, will true genius be needed—notwithstanding that eliminating sufficiently many errors for even “very good” might require “very intelligent” to begin with. (The same applies to other routes to this target.)


Side-note:

The above refers to errors in systematic approach, bad practices, and similar. Errors through e.g. risk taking and carelessness are different topics, where the circumstances must decide: Risk taking can often be justified by an analysis of probabilities for gains and losses, and taking no risks can be crippling. Carelessness is bad, but too many double and triple checks can cost more than is gained by finding a single unimportant mistake.


As an effect of these purposes, many pages here, deliberately and with constructive intentions, deal with mistakes, errors, and idiocies of various kinds. Do not mistake these for destructive ramblings, even when they consist of lists of “It is idiotic to...”. (Notwithstanding that I often use this website to get annoyances “out of my system” by writing about them—two birds with one stone.)

Over time, a fourth purpose appeared, namely to oppose dangerous manifestations of human stupidity and irrationality, most notably political correctness and feminism, but also e.g. Creationism. Closely associated with the opposition to feminism, a very strong anti-censor-ship/pro-free-speech message evolved (unfair censorship being one of the main tools of feminism and, to some degree, political correctness); as well as a strong criticism of intellectual dishonesty and unfair or misleading argumentation (another staple of feminism and political correctness, but also common in many other groups.)

Recommended articles

The following is a list of the articles that I consider the most important at the moment. The list is deliberately kept at exactly five entries, and the current entries might be removed in the future to make place for newer or improved articles, or articles better matching future whims. (Note that they are not all relevant for everyone.)

The tall dancer phenomenon: A discussion of how different groups tend to look down upon each other, without an objective justification—and how minorities bear the brunt of the problem.

Most important advice: The most important advice (at least for us nerds) when it comes to understanding the office.

What to read: Some recommendations on what a beginning software developer should and should not read.

Most important rule of UI design: Most important—and most neglected.

Annoying writing mistakes: An overview of some language mistakes, which also might help in understanding the principles I consider important when writing.

In addition, I recommend a visit to the sitemap, which contains a complete listing of all articles.

Browser accessibility

I am highly sympathetic to the Viewable with any Browsere campaign; and will be happy to make changes to ensure that these pages are accessible with any reasonably standards-compliant and bug-free browser. This includes striving to make this site readable and navigable with Lynxe-like text-only browsers and browsers for the visually impaired; however, I cannot guarantee the same “level of service” as for a conventional browser.

Correspondingly, your feedback is appreciated, should you experience any kind of problem. I stress, however, that I will not go out of my way to accommodate Internet Explorer, which is notorious for its many bugs and incompatibilities—try a standards-compliant (and much more user-friendly) browser like Operae or Firefoxe instead.

Where else am I present on the Internet?

Obviously, I have gathered a number of user accounts and profiles in various places over the years. Of these, however, I only see two as potentially interesting to visitors:

  1. My WordPress bloge, which originally had contents similar to this website, but usually in shorter articles, and later served as a replacement during my absence from the Internet.

  2. My OpenDiarye, where I wrote the odd more personal entry.


    Addendum:

    At some point, OpenDiary went defunct with loss of all online contents and without notification to users. Most of my old contents are available on a backup page; the rest elsewhere. A more systematic integration or restoration might take place at some point in the future. I keep the old link for the time being, just in case.

    (Years later, OpenDiary was resurrected, but if old contents are still available, it was, at my then check, not obvious where.)


Should you find me somewhere else (e.g. on Xing or Facebook), pay no heed. These accounts are mostly placeholders or are used for highly specific purposes. Comments and contacts are best directed over my main channel—this website.

For the purposes of this discussion, the “internal” includes e.g. my above-mentioned Wordpress and OpenDiary accounts, not just this website. The “external” is the rest of the world. Unless otherwise stated or clear from context, various terms, e.g. “link”, should be seen as involving the external.

External links are visually set apart: non-Wikipediae, English Wikipediaw, German Wikipediaw:de, Swedish Wikipediaw:sv. The frequent Wikipedia links are displayed differently than other links, because I often prefer the Wikipedia entry to a direct link to a company, website, whatnot, and this way misunderstandings can be avoided.

Note that I very deliberately do not open external links in a new window/tab. This common deplorable custom is a violation of the visitor’s right to control over his own computer and can, as such, not be ethically justified.


Side-note:

Since 2010-03-13, I mark all outgoing links as “nofollow”. This was originally a temporary measure as a solution to a suspected search-engine problem in combination with my linking to many sites that I do not agree with or that might be unpopular with e.g. Google. At the time, I intended to later make more fine-grained decisions; however, to minimize the “administrative overhead”, I have since decided to keep the blanket “nofollow”.

This should only affect search engines—not human users.


The contents of pages that I link to represent the opinions of others. Unless I explicitly state otherwise, it may not be assumed that I share these opinions. (In fact, I often disagree.) Even then, there is no guarantee that my opinions will remain the same as time passes.

Further, beware that I will typically only verify the contents behind a link once, at the time of linking, and that typically only the immediately linked page is checked—not the entire underlying site.

I reserve the right to include links to content that others (or I, myself) might legitimately consider offensive, should the topic at hand warrant it. This is a serious website—not a gathering place for snowflakes. Moreover, most uses of “offensive”, especially by the political Left, are illegitimate, be they rooted in irrationality or prejudice, serving a purpose of cheap rhetoric, expressing political correctness, or otherwise flawed. Claims of such pseudo-offensiveness will not deter me from linking in the slightest.

Legal disclaimer

Pointing to the previous section, I reject any and all legal responsibility for contents, whatever the kind, on external sites and in other external sources.

This, in particular, with an eye at two German problems, the so called “Abmahnindustrie” and the weird obsession, including by government agencies, with the (often imaginary or even Leftist) “extreme Right”, while far larger issues with the (very real and indisputably Leftist) extreme Left are ignored.

(I will expand on both these problems in separate pages at a later time.)

Linking to this site

You are more than welcome to link to this site or individual parts of it—in fact, I consider attempts by some websites to prevent linking and, in particular, deep-linking to be unethical, destructive and against their own best interests. (See e.g. Berners-Lee on linkinge.)

“Framing” and “in-line linking”, OTOH, is not allowed without explicit permission.

Disclaimer/How to read this website

The contents provided here consist largely of personal opinions. As such, their correctness cannot be guaranteed. I make no claim of having put these opinions through scientific scrutiny, I am well aware that I might be biased in various issues, and my opinions often change over time (without previous writings necessarily being updated or superseded). Further, the applicability and correctness of any given statement can vary depending on circumstances, including e.g. the current cultural sphere. Further yet, circumstances can change over time—an effect that can be quite strong where software development and similar topics are concerned.

In particular, if you should chose to act based on recommendations made here, or based on own conclusions about suitable actions based on my contents, you do so entirely at your own risk. Any liability or legal responsibility on my behalf is categorically ruled out.

Generally, I advice to always think critically, be it here or elsewhere, and to never take opinions of others as anything but opinions. Looking at my own learning process, I tend to read and file away opinions, which are then eventually (informally) classified as being true or false, to various degrees—based on later observations, how they fit reality, whether they are compatible with other mostly true opinions, the theoretical underpinning they have, etc. My recommendation would be to use a similar approach when reading this website.

Copyright notice

Unless otherwise stated, all contents are my property/underlie my copyright. Any re-use, copying, etc., requires my explicit permission—excepting strictly personal use and activities in the “fair use” category. For non-commercial use, within reasonable limits, requests for permission will almost always be granted on a copyleftw basis. Commercial use might see additional constraints or conditions, require payment, or be denied outright.

Privacy notice

I do not at this time actively collect any kind of data about your visits, nor do I plan to do so in the future (knock on wood); however, my ISP automatically gathers some basic data like (an obfuscated) IP address, “user agent”, and referring website for each page visit. The corresponding logs are accessible to me, and I reserve the right to use the contents for statistical evaluations, improvements of the site structure, and similar.

The data will not be shared with third-parties; and I will not make any attempts to de-anonymize the data. Exceptions to this are visits by robots, spiders, and the like; situations where I have a legal obligation to act otherwise; and visitors who are abusive, e.g. by trying to hack into the underlying system.

I can, obviously, make no guarantees about how my ISP uses this information (or what information might be gathered beyond my knowledge); however, in all likelihood, it is entirely uninterested.


Side-note:

Should you have any concerns for your anonymity (here or elsewhere), you might want to change your browser settings to deactivate JavaScript, reduce the use of cookies, not send a referrer, etc. (Notably, many corporate websites do abuse such mechanisms.) You might also want to look into Tor or I2P for a considerable enhancement (at the cost of more effort—but not of money).