As I write Norway is into its seventh day of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the terrorist who killed, by his own admission, 77 people in and near Oslo on July 22, 2011. That day will “live in infamy,” echoing the words of President Franklin Roosevelt to a joint session of Congress concerning the attack by the Imperial Japanese navy on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Continue reading
It has been a month today since the horrible events in the government quarter of Oslo and on Utøya. Last evening a memorial service was held in the Oslo Spektrum featuring addresses by King Harald and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and a reading of the names, with displayed pictures, of all the victims. It was indeed an impressive and solemn occasion, the last, perhaps, of such major gatherings of the sad and the bereaved, at least for awhile. Continue reading
As widely reported, the Manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik contains coded information which may lead to geographic locations in major European cities. Further, the Manifesto may contain other coded information, which by speculation could identify conspirators or possibly the existence of armed and timed explosive devices. The speculation, if true, would have the obvious dire consequences.
At present, Norwegian security analysts, assisted on invitation by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others, are intensively investigating the Manifesto for coded expressions and their translations to plain language. In this endeavor knowledge of speculated content is important, though providing an obvious bias to the decoding effort. For a simple example, consider that one suspects that a code says, “The sky is blue.” One then looks for patterns containing the coded words for “sky” and “blue.” Upon supposedly finding them the decoding soon follows. However, suppose the true coded message is, “Tomorrow it will rain.” That message will be missed completely. If the analyst had been looking instead for the words “tomorrow” and “rain,” then perhaps he would have found the true message. The failure, in the first instance, is to accept a false hypothesis, an error known as a Type II error in the world of hypothesis testing. (A Type I error would have been to reject, “The sky is blue,” assuming that had been the true coded message.) Continue reading
Hanne Orvik was a childhood friend of my wife Bente. As children and neighbors they played together and went to school together, until they eventually went to separate schools at age 14. They were best friends. Keeping in touch, they knew of each other’s doings for the next 15 years. Then through life’s circumstances they drifted apart, but surely would have welcomed each other warmly on any occasion, even after many more years had passed. Continue reading
Today is another cool and rainy day in Oslo, befitting the somber mood. We see on the news circulating around the world that 77 persons have lost their lives in a dual home-grown terrorist attack. First, a bomb exploded Friday afternoon in the government quarter for Norway in the city center of Oslo, killing eight; a mere two hours later 69 persons, most of them teenagers, were fatally injured from gunfire on Utøya [Out island], a small island in Tyrifjord 37 km (23 miles) west northwest of Oslo. Many more were gravely injured. Some tried to swim to safety from the island, only to be shot in the back as they did. Continue reading