Conscription in Denmark 04 July at 6:06 AM 0 comments

As someone who's opposed to conscription, I have been doing some research on the topic in various countries.

What I find interesting is the issue of defining what actually counts as conscription. Many countries clearly either do or don't have it, but there's also plenty of countries where it's not so clear.

Consider Denmark. Denmark's constitution makes it clear that all male adults who are physically able are required to complete military service:

Every male person able to carry arms shall be liable with his person to contribute to the defence of his country under such rules as are laid out by Statute Constitution of Denmark

Reading this, you could be forgiven for assuming then that the issue is pretty clear cut. Denmark clearly has conscription and everyone is required to participate.

Day of Defence

On their 18th birthday, every male is drafted to the 'Day of Defence', where they are given an introduction to the Danish military. And his lies the first hurdle - if you aren't physically fit and don't mind testifying to that effect, you can get out of attending.

Assuming you believe yourself to be physically fit however, you attend the Day of Defence expecting to be drafted into the military. But of course, as part of the Day of Defence you are subjected to health tests, and in practice they'll declare you unfit for pretty much any reason they can think of.

Picking numbers from a hat

But let's say everything is just fine and they declare you fit or partially fit for military service. What happens then? Well they make you draw a number between 1 and 36,000. If you draw a number below 8,000 you should, in theory, be drafted into the military.

Of course, there's another hurdle still. Remember how some people are simply declared 'partially fit'? They're immediately disqualified, regardless of which number they pick. Of course, that leaves thousands of people still drafted into the Danish military - surely then, they have conscription?. Now, you certainly wouldn't be wrong to assume this, but there's another important detail.

Selection

Denmark has an active volunteer force. Of the men selected, 99.1% were volunteering as of 2014. What does this mean? Well, the military only needs so many people, and apparently they have enough volunteers anyway. In fact, in 2014 only 19 men were actually compelled to join the armed forces.

What is interesting though is that a recent survey found that around 2/3rds of Danes do still oppose conscription, though it seems unlikely that the government would be in any huge rush to end it. Why bother? They've got plenty of volunteers and there's still an argument to be made that men could be conscripted should the volunteer force prove insufficient in the future.

So does Denmark have conscription?

Well yes. It does. But then, so does the United States, at least in a legal sense. In the United States, all male citizens are required to register for the selective service. This hasn't been used since the Vietnam war, but the mechanism is still there. Now, obviously Denmark's system goes beyond that. They have their 'day of defence' and they do conscript people into the armed forces. But at the same time, it's so comically easy to get out of conscription and so many people seem to get out of it anyway (again, only 19 people were conscripted in 2014) that it's easy to see how Denmark's system is certainly very different to that of say, Israel.

Denmark is only one example but there's plenty of other countries where the question "do they have conscription" is perhaps not quite as easily answered as one might hope.

A European Army?

Regardless of your views on an EU-wide army, it does appear to be a potential solution to the issue of conscription within the EU. Looking at a map, you'll notice that the majority of EU countries that still have conscription are, perhaps unsurprisingly, countries with smaller and sparser populations, and thus less volunteers into the armed forces to begin with.

Perhaps if there was an EU-wide military, this would become un-necessary as soldiers pooled from throughout the European Union could make up the shortfall in countries with insufficient volunteers.

The only problem is marketing this to countries where national pride outweighs the potential benefits of an EU-wide army.

Hyper Terminal 03 November at 12:24 PM 0 comments

If you use a terminal, ever, you need to try this. 

Hyper Terminal is a free, open source, javascript based terminal for Linux and Mac based around the Electron framework, as indeed every app ever seems to be. Think containerized webkit turned into local applications. That is to say, what Atom runs on. 

Take a look at their website.

Azores 22 October at 8:02 AM 0 comments

Photo by Guillaume Baviere from Helsingborg, Sweden, CC BY 2.0

Just scrolling across the Maps app on my computer, and I notice some small islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Normally, I'd think nothing of it. Tiny islands, almost certainly uninhabited. 

Still, I was curious so I thought I'd look up one of the places I could see on the island - Ponta Delgada, which lead me to a Wikipedia article. So I read through, and apparently it's the largest settlement in Azores - nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic, and in fact part of Portugal, despite being roughly 550 miles away from their coast. 

I was expecting somewhere uninhabited, and instead what I found was somewhere with a population of nearly 250,000.

Photo by Feliciano GuimarĂ£es - originally posted to Flickr as Ponta Delgada, CC BY 2.0

Azores is impressive - there's some downright stunning views and it's somewhere I'd love to go one day. What really impresses me though, is the idea that such a community and such a society can exist. A place that's so distant from other places, that only recently could've been better connected through technology. 

Despite it being so remote, it has a strong agricultural industry, primarily focused on dairy farming but also livestock ranching and fishing. 

More recently tourism has become integral to the success of the archipegalo, which is hardly surprising, but it still blows my mind to consider that so many places like this exist that I and many others would know nothing about, had I not stumbled across it by pure chance.