I am Neuroscience PhD, a humanist, skeptic, feminist, avid reader, science enthusiast, woolly-liberal über-nerd, and, as of October 2015, father to the Lykketroll.

I moved from England to Norway in January 2012 and live in Lørenskog with my wife, the Lykketroll, and our two aging rescue cats, Socrates and Schrödinger. 

I am on paternity leave from the 4th of July to the 18th of November. 

The job I am on leave from is as an  Associate Professor and Head of Studies at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. My background is in child neurodevelopment (my PhD looked into the relationship between fatty acids like omega-3 and cognitive development in young children) but I now work on a hodge-podge of things roughly within the field of Universal Design of ICT 50% of the time, the other 50% of my time I am Head of the 'General' Studies (Allmenn in Norwegian) Unit, which is comprised of around 24 academics within a range of fields, including mathematics, physics, Norwegian, and technology and leadership.

In between working and doing the usual dad things,  I like hiking and running in the beautiful Norwegian outdoors, cooking and playing video games. 

If I believed in souls I would say that mine was born in Norway. 

I plan to sleep when I'm dead.

Human-Etisk Forbund Open Meeting: What is and what makes HAMU?

The  Human-Etisk Forbund (HEF) open meeting on Wednesday 22nd of March was about Humanistisk Aksjon for Menneskerettigheter i Utviklingsland (HAMU), aka Humanist Action for Human Rights in Developing Countries. Levi Fragell, who established HAMU, spoke about itsbeginnings and principles before Gunnar Olafsen, a HAMU representative, presented some of their current projects.

A branch of HEF, HAMU  is a non-governmental organisation that operates on the basis of humanist values, with the aims of promoting human rights for the oppressed and to help them lead a more dignified life. Since 1993, HAMU has worked closely with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Bistandstorget and Innsamlingskontrollen to support local, secular, non-profit NGOs in IndiaNepal, Brazil, Uganda and Nigeria. HAMU provides protection, education and vocational training to some of the most vulnerable people in those countries whilst advocating human dignity, pluralism and democracy.

Protecting and empowering women and children is a strong focus of HAMUs projects, as they are the most vulnerable groups and often bear the brunt of oppressive cultures, religions and traditions. I put together a Prezi to give a quick overview of the amazing projects HAMU support across the world.

Those of you who can read Norwegian can follow their on-going activities on the HAMU blog.

The Q&A session following the presentations centred on the long-term actions and purpose of HAMU. Due to funding constraints, projects are necessarily finite, which means planning an exit strategy in many places where the problem remains unsolved, perhaps because of powerful reactionary forces. Gunnar Olafsen conceded that this would be difficult, but stressed that HAMU were working hard on solutions. Since its inception, the philosophy of HAMU has not been simply triage, but to bring about long-term change to damaging societal attitudes, which is why education is such an important focus.

HAMU is an example of the practical manifestation of a grounded, human-centred philosophy that compels us to do good for the sake of goodness and to help those in need, with absolute disregard for their creed, colour or faith. It goes without saying that they, indeed all secular NGOs the world over, need all the help they can get, both in terms of finance and exposure. 

It’s a little old school, granted, but you can support HAMU by using your local or internet bank to transfer your contribution to:

Bank: Roerosbanken

Swift Code: DNBAOKK

IBAN Account: NO9242800530002

Book Review: When Atheism Becomes Religion by Chris Hedges

Book Review: The Ego Trick by Julian Baggini