Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Books I've read in 2009 - June

Evelina by Francis Burney
Blood Games by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Mörker, ta min hand by Dennis Lehane - AUDIO
Why We Buy by Paco Underhill
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke
The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - AUDIO
Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier - AUDIO
Man kan inte hindra ett litet hjärta från att älska by Claire Castillon
Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay
Kurt blir grusom by Erlend Loe - AUDIO
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
Russerfangene by Einar Kr Steffenak

9 printed books, 2,868 pages.
4 audiobooks, 33h 59m.

Best fiction:
Evelina, with Moll Flanders a close second. I had never heard about Frances Burney before I started reading the 1001 list, but as soon as I heard that Jane Austen was a big fan of hers, of course I had to read her. ;-) A very entertaining story with lots of fun characters.

Best nonfiction:
Nothing very special, really, this month. I guess maybe Why We Buy, because I felt like I learned a thing or two from that one that I can use professionally.

Best audiobook:
Burning Bright ... because the reader, Cornelius Garrett, did such an amazing job.

The Opera House

Here in Oslo we have several, what, attractions ... sights worth seeing ... things that every tourist ought to make sure that they get to see. Most of those things are pretty old; some in fact very old. The Viking ships, the Folk Museum with the 13th-century stave church, the Vigeland Park, the Munch Museum ... But recently - last spring - we got a brand new item on this must-see list: the Opera House in Bjørvika, very centrally located and easy to get to, a magnificent building, a spectacular iceberg rising from the fjord. :-) If you come to Oslo, take an afternoon walk on the Opera roof and watch the sun set over the city. You won't regret it. :-)

Yesterday I did just that with my friends Marcos and Bruna from Brazil who have been spending a few days in Oslo as part of their summer vacation. (It was so great to see you guys!! Have a great vacation, what's left of it, and a safe trip home!! :-) The weather was wonderful, almost a little too wonderful, in fact ... we're having a heatwave here now and it isn't really comfortable until after sunset. The ocean breeze felt really good as we wandered around the white marble roof of the Opera. :-) I took lots of pictures, and here are some of them. :-)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rebel Without A Cause ... with music!

I've been listening to the Bangles a lot this weekend, and I was going to post their song Manic Monday today - I just love that song :-) - but then I realized that I couldn't post it, because Monday is Keanuday this year. Alas! So here's another music video, Paula Abdul's Rush Rush from 1991. I can't believe it's that long ago. o_O Keanu stars as the James Dean character and Abdul as Judy/Natalie Wood in this v. short remake of the 1955 classic Rebel Without A Cause. It's a really good video ... much more creative than most. I hadn't watched in ages. It's still as good as I remembered it. :-)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Quote of the Week

PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zuma x2, kind of

Some more music that I like. Not Russian pop this time, but Norwegian pop. :-) A Norwegian duo that has released ... three? albums and have had several hits, and - quel surprise - have competed in the Norwegian ESC selections twice. Well, OK, kind of. They were in the contest once, and Alexander Stenerud, the singer, was in it once. But his song sounded totally like a Zuma song ... not to be wondered at, since he wrote all their material. :-) I dig both songs, I voted for both of them, but they didn't win. They did very well this year though. But as we have seen, Alexander Rybak was unbeatable. :-)

This is Zuma with Always Always from 2008 ...

... and this is Stenerud with Find My Girl from 2009. Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

SLOVENIA 2005: Omar Naber - Stop

Time for an ESC entry! Hey, there hasn't been one for almost a month. It's about time. ;-)

Not much to say about this song ... it's just an entry I really really like from Kyiv 2005. Omar the dental technician performed for Slovenia. :-) I think the song has a fantastic melody, and of course I dig the fact that the lyrics are in Slovene. I must confess that I like it more when I just listen to it and don't actually have to see the guy in his silly outfit. But you can't have it all. :-) It's a song that I like a lot, and I could have wished much better results for it.

Because it didn't do very well - it didn't get through from the semifinal, I think it came 12th. Alas. In some very small measure my fault - as I recall, I did not vote for this entry. In 2005 I voted for Iceland in the semi (they also did not get through) and Hungary ... and maybe Romania, I'm not entirely sure. In the final I voted for Hungary and - I think - Romania. Too bad for the Slovenians, but that's how it goes.

This is Omar Nader performing his own composition Stop which he cowrote with Urša Vlašič. He competed for Slovenia in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Thursday, May 19th, 2005.

Lyrics with translation here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Turtle in a bucket

The other day I changed the water in Raphael's pond. I have a blue ten-liter bucket that I use to lug the water back and forth. I've sometimes wondered how the turtles would react to a little swim in that bucket. Not Raphael, he's too big, but the other two. On Sunday I decided to test it. They were all wandering around the apartment ... we had been outside on the lawn for about an hour and it was pretty hot in the sun. Raphael's tough like that, but the little guys feel the heat quickly. So I thought maybe they'd enjoy a cool dip before going back in the tank. I know, it makes no sense! I admit it, I just wanted to see one of them swim in the bucket. :-)

I tried Herman first, but he just flat out refused to go in. Nope, not going in there. Maybe the color was too weird. Whatever it was, pushing it was useless, he wouldn't do it. :-D So I tried Henrik instead. He seems to feel the heat more than Herman, or at least he shows more of a reaction to it. It has to be extremely hot for Herman to hide himself away in the shade, but Henrik does that pretty quickly. It's not too bad, though - I pour a little water on him and he's energized immediately. :-) But he is more sensitive to it. This may be because he literally has a thicker skin than Herman, so that his skin becomes stiffer as it dries than Herman's does ... which I assume may be quite uncomfortable. Anyway. I figured he'd be interested in the water. And indeed he was. Henrik was happy to try the bucket once he'd had a chance to examine it a little. He sank to the bottom, then swam up and around and eventually started nipping my fingertips. So, feeling entirely comfortable in the bucket. Although of course it was rather less spacious than the 450-liter tank he's used to. :-)

Now look at these shoddy photos I took of my turtle in the bucket. :-)

Without flash, not a great idea ...

With flash, much better.

Sniffing around ... is there anything to be found here, I wonder ...

This one came out pretty well. I wonder what he could smell in there.

Hello, twolegs!!

When in water, beg!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hot tip: Blame the victim!

It is always easier.

Sylvi Listhaug, Progress Party councilwoman here in Oslo, thinks that the annual Pride Parade, one of the highlights of Oslo Pride Week which opened today, is a bad idea for teh gays. She doesn't mind seeing it, of course ... she's only concerned about them. She thinks that 'it doesn't strengthen their cause' to have halfnaked homos dancing around in the city streets ... because when normal people who don't live in the big city see pictures of that, 'it doesn't contribute to greater tolerance'.

I'm not even going to go there ... I'm barely even going to point out that the parade lasts for like one hour and has lots of different people in it, and most of them have clothes on. I'm just going to tell a little story.

Back in the 1930s, a lot of German Jews were wanting to get out of the country that they had thought was theirs and move somewhere that would hopefully be safer. Some of them applied for shelter as refugees here, in Norway. Fridtjof Nansen's homeland, right?? But their applications were dismissed. I'm obviously not saying that they would have been safer here, because after a while the Nazis came here too, and so many of our Jews were taken away ... but I digress. The point is that the applications were denied. I'm proud to say that there were Norwegians who did fight for these people, who did a lot to help them and to get them here to a safer place. But they didn't get anywhere with that. And what was the logic behind the authorities' refusal to grant asylum to these refugees? Well, because of the anti-Semitism in our society. But ... um ... Norway wasn't really very anti-Semitic, was it? The supporters genuinely wanted to know. And the authorities agreed, we weren't all that anti-Semitic. Yet. But, and get this, we would become anti-Semites if all these Jews were to come here. So it would be better for them to stay where they were, because if they came here we would probably end up resenting them.

Blame the victim. It makes everything so much easier.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some movie reviews

Some hopefully rather short ones, of movies that I've seen and been meaning to blog about. I am slow.

Majid Majidi: Avaze gonjeshk-ha
English title: The Song of Sparrows
IMDb listing here.
Iranian movie by a director of more than 25 years' experience. A story both moving and funny about a man who tries to do the best for his family, especially his almost deaf daughter. When she loses her hearing aid while playing and he loses his job on the local ostrich farm, he has to get creative to support his wife and children. Nothing offers in the village, so he tries getting some cab fares on his motorbike in Tehran. At first things are pretty good, but then, well ... let's just say that there's something about the lure of the big city that's hard for even the most upright man to resist. Not to mention the dumps of the big city ...
Very charming and sweet, sad too, but a lot of funny moments. Great performances and an interesting setting.

Bryan Bertino: The Strangers
IMDb listing here.
American horror movie by a debuting director. I wanted to see it because I liked the poster so much. :-) The plot: a young couple have travelled out into the boondocks for a friend's wedding and are staying at his parents' holiday house nearby. After the party some weird strangers show up asking a pretty odd question. At first they don't think anything of it. But then the strangers come back. And they won't go away. What the hell do they want??
A creepy movie with lots of OMG moments. A pretty good story, good performances, a convincing setting.

Rasmus A Sivertsen: Kurt blir grusom
English title: Kurt Turns Evil
IMDb listing here.
Wheee!! Norwegian computer animated craziness, and it's Kurt!! Wheee!!! :-D This adaptation of Erlend Loe's celebrated children's book is even crazier than the novel, and that's kinda saying something. Kurt is a forklift operator, married to an architect and father of three. He's a pretty nice guy ... at least until an obnoxious rich guy moves in next door and immediately makes nice with both wifey and kiddies. Kurt tries his best, but there isn't much he can do to compete. Not until he accidentally comes into a hell of a lot of money. And I do mean a hell of a lot. Now he's rich too, so now he ought to become just as popular as that other guy! Right? Right?!! Maybe things aren't quite that simple. A fact which the old Kurt would have accepted and learned to live with, but this is a new Kurt - a rich Kurt - an evil Kurt ... !! :-D
I totally dug this movie. The animation's great, it works really well with the characters and story. I love Kurt's hair and mustache and the way they express his mood. :-) The voices are great, fantastic. Not for serious people who think that films should be art, but otherwise very entertaining for children of all ages who like fun movies. ;-)

Sandberg/Rønning: Max Manus
English title: Max Manus. Man of War
IMDb listing here.
Best Norwegian movie ever made. Fantastic, stellar, a masterpiece. I loved it ... I was on the edge of my seat a lot of the time, even though I knew pretty much the entire story beforehand. Fantastic performances, a brilliant screenplay (and what a tragedy that the screenwriter and mastermind behind this movie has died now, so young) and a deeply gripping story ... all the more so for being true. There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie - so much drama! :-D - and so many great performances (did I say that already?) ... an extremely convincing recreation of wartime Oslo ... amazing sets and costumes. The one thing about this movie that I didn't quite like, or get, or whatever, was one bit of casting that was really weird. The movie doesn't have a star-studded cast - of course there is one major star, Aksel Hennie in the title role, but it goes without saying that they needed at least one big name to carry this thing. The second biggest name is Nicolai Cleve Broch. :-) Except ... at one point a young man is arrested for sabotage and his mother goes to the Gestapo to beg Siegfried Fehmer to release her son. Just an ordinary middle-aged woman, a nondescript person of no particular distinction, featured briefly in this one scene. And she is played by Kjersti Holmen. I mean ... what? All I can think of is that she must have wanted so desperately to be in this movie that she would just do anything ... and this was what they had. But it's still totally weird. I mean, it's Kjersti Holmen. o_O
Other than that, though, a total masterpiece. A must-see. I loved it. And I loved seeing it - the version we saw had subtitles in Norwegian, so that oldtimers would be able to follow the dialogue, and we saw whole families who were there to see it. Like a teenage boy who had his parents with him and was pushing an ancient man, his grandfather probably, in a wheelchair ... the old guy must have so many memories from the war, and there they were, the whole family, to share that, in a way. Imagine the conversation they could have afterwards ... :-)
And come August, I predict the following from Haugesund: This year's Amanda for the best performance by an actor in a feature presentation goes to ... Aksel Hennie for Max Manus. ;-)

Niels Arden Oplev: Män som hatar kvinnor
English title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
IMDb listing here.
Another fantastic movie. I had pretty high expectations ... or one might say insanely high expectations ... of this one, and they were all met, totally. I disagree with the criticism that was brought against this movie, about the storyline and the character focus and all that. IMO the director has understood the series, not just the novel, and has done his job based on that. I think it totally worked and I can't wait to see the other two movies. The cast of this one is absolutely stellar, Noomi Rapace especially does an amazing job as the unlikely Lisbeth Salander. I just loved the way she played this very memorable character ... she got it just right. Michael Nyqvist of course is a joy to watch. A tight and intriguing plot that pulls the audience in, lots of twists and turns, the effects are great and the settings very convincing. Nothing but the best. I'm so going to be seeing this again. :-)

Zack Snyder: Watchmen
IMDb listing here.
American SFX extravaganza with lots of impressive stunts and a naked blue man. What's not to like? The story: there used to be superheroes, but now there aren't many left, because most of them have retired. But then things start happening and they need to come out of retirement to take care of the mess. That's pretty much it.
Bearing in mind that I have not read the graphic novel that this is based on, I thought the movie version was pretty good. Too long, but entertaining most of the time. The story was ... relatively interesting, but at times seemed almost extraneous to the whole thing. The director seemed to be quite enamored of the whole effects and crazy stunts thing. It was fun to watch then and there, mostly (although as I said it was overlong) but I wouldn't have seen it twice, I don't think. Mostly for fans of the genre. Of whom I kinda am one, yeah, I guess. But not enough to have ever actually read the book ... ;-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Speaking of posters ...

I recently posted a movie poster from a Keanumovie (sheesh, what a sentence) that I think is really good, design-wise, regardless of the fact that Keanu's in it. Here's another one that I really like (and in fact, this one I do have on my living room wall). It's one of the posters for Constantine, Francis Lawrence's debut movie from 2005. A really good movie, IMO, and a fantastic poster.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alexander Rybak: Fairytales

The first ever album review on my blog. Yay. :-) Not to be wondered at though - I hardly ever buy or otherwise aquire new music, this is only the third album I've gotten this year. The first was the ESC CD, of course - or actually that was two CDs in one - and then there was one that I bought in Poland which I can't say anything more about here as it would give away too much about a certain birthday present (Anéa, I'm looking at you ;-) ... and that's all the music I've bought all year. Even though I do in fact listen to quite a lot of music. I guess I just have more than enough already as it is.

But last weekend I did get one more new CD. I was at KAS and trilltrall's house to have dinner and watch a movie and swap some photos ... and fix some videos that I had that I didn't know how to get the way I wanted. But trilltrall knew. :-) And it also turned out that he had just downloaded Alexander Rybak's album that was released ... not too long ago. Since I had my external harddrive with me it was but the work of a moment to copy the CD onto it, and when I got home I transferred it to my beloved mp3 player. I've hardly been listening to anything else since, so I thought I'd take a moment to blog about it. After all, what is a blog for other than to share one's thoughts ... such as they are. :-)

I actually like this CD a lot ... which may seem obvious since I listen to it so much, but that's not necessarily true. I do also sometimes listen to music that I don't necessarily like, but that fascinates me for some reason ... like the Putin song. Ouch ...

Anyway. The CD is called Fairytales, and of course there's one song on it that everyone will have already heard. In addition to the obvious, the album contains eight other songs, with two additional bonus tracks if you download it from Platekompaniet like trilltrall did. Before even listening to the album, I knew there would be at least one good song on it, because I firmly believe that there is no possible way that anyone could ever ruin Vårsøg ... and indeed I am yet again proved correct. That lovely tune has in this incarnation become a melancholy love song called If You Were Gone. It's quite beautiful, and Rybak's voice fits the song very well ... although I could have wished he'd come up with some other rhyme and not gone with the better/sweater idea in the chorus. ;-) In fact I came up with another rhyme the first time I listened to the song. But there you go. He's young. English is his third language. Some emergency rhymes are only to be expected. ;-)

Some crazy concepts I guess are to be expected too ... like the big dolphin in the sky thing (I wonder if that was written before or after the ESC finals, because there was a hell of a big dolphin in that show ... !! :-D Crazy lyrics but a good song. A couple of the other songs deal with fame and the consequences of it ... these I think are pretty good, lyrics-wise, especially Kiss And Tell, which IMO is rather an interesting song in light of Rybak's sudden rise to fame this year. What else? Unlike most pop albums, this one contains two instrumental numbers (one of them a bonus track) on which Rybak plays his fiddle very prettily. He really is a good violinist. I really like his Secret Garden cover, Song From A Secret Garden ... a beautiful melody, very beautiful in this incarnation too. Relaxing and sweet to listen to ... like most of the album, in fact.

I say 'most of', because I've got to ask, WHAT is the deal with the song called 13 Horses??! OMFG!! That song is totally soul-destroying. The first time I listened to the album all the way through I was at work doing inventory. I wasn't paying 100% attention to the lyrics, but after a while I started to think WTF am I listening to?? I almost sat down on the floor and cried. Don't get me wrong, though, I love the song. I think it's absolutely beautiful ... the melody, that is. It's probably my favorite song on the entire CD. But the lyrics ... !! WTF is with that story? How did this song come out of this very young person's head?? I can hardly bear to listen to it, it crushes my spirit. (Brief summary: it's a story about a shipwreck in mid-ocean in which the crew are saved, they have lifeboats and whatnot. But there are also some horses onboard, and the crew for whatever reason aren't able to save them. So the horses swim away from the burning wreck, expecting at any moment to be saved by their human carers ... but no help ever comes, and they just swim and swim and swim until eventually they become exhausted and sink and drown one by one. I know, right??) I am enormously impressed with this song, and I think Rybak's performance on this track is wonderful, he projects a lot of emotion and really makes the story come alive. Much too well, in fact. A very powerful but also deeply depressing song. Musically impressive, but lyrics-wise, as I said, soul-destroying. Or maybe I just have too much imagination.

All in all a good effort for a debut album ... especially since he's written most of the songs himself. Both the bonus tracks are really good, so I'd recommend that edition. I think it's pretty safe to say that Rybak is one of the ESC winners who will have a solid career after the contest too. :-) Or, as some might say, in spite of it ... ;-)

Quote of the Week

In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Egypt 2008: Memphis revisited

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I went to visit CH a weekend back in May. During which visit we finally got around to exchanging all our pictures from our trip to Egypt. We've been having shitty luck trying to send them back and forth on CDs and DVDs ... so now I just brought my external harddisk with me to her house and we copied everything. Yay, more pictures from Egypt - just what I needed. ;-) But there are some really good shots. Here are some of them, from our visit to Memphis, the old capital of Lower Egypt. There are more shots from Memphis here (the ones labelled *** are by CH) and you can see my original post on this visit here.

CH by one of the many statues on display.

Me by the Alabaster Sphinx.

The famous limestone statue of king Ramses II is pretty amazing. It's so huge and it's in such good condition. This is CH by the king's right hand ... and she had the bright idea to make a fist just like the statue, I wish I had thought of that. :-)

The statue of the king is lying down (because the lower parts of its legs are gone) and so you can see right up Ramses' nose.

Check out the two guys standing on the statue's left side. They were locals who were basically hanging around hoping to be photographed by some hapless tourist, whom they could then demand some money from.

A hapless tourist like CH! :-D (I wasn't with her just then or I'm sure I would have fallen for the trick too. :-) It's a good shot though, I really like it. :-)

This is us in the car going either to or from Memphis. Happy happy ... !! :-D

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another bunch of idiots

For today's post I've just got to rant a little bit about, yeah, another bunch of idiots. People are so stupid. Growl, &c. Read this.

What the fuck is wrong with people??! Why can't they just keep their religion to themselves!!? Why do religious people feel this way, where does this sense of entitlement come from that they don't understand the simple concept of respect?? Viz., that respect is something that you have to actually earn. You can't just waltz in and demand it. That's not the way it works. And in fact, the very act of demanding respect for your beliefs and/or way of life is very often almost a guarantee that you will not receive it.

I'm not saying this to hurt anyone (I just don't care if I do), but I have to say that orthodox Jews - the really hardcore orthodox ones - are probably the group of religious nutcases that I resent the most. I'm not sure I can put my finger on it. They just basically make me sick with their hypocrisy. Oh, god says that a woman mustn't show her hair? Then just shave it all off and instead wear a gorgeous wig made from, yes indeed, genuine human hair. WTF is up with that? (Which is just one of many examples.) How is that not just basically giving god the finger right up in his face? That's like saying, straight out, fuck you, god, I don't really care, I'm just pretending to because I don't want the neighbors to talk. It makes me sick, it really does.

And it also makes me think that it's incredible how these people must basically hate themselves, and hate life, and hate the world, in order to be able to force themselves to live this limited, circumscribed life full of guilt and suspicion. I am so happy that I don't sense any invisible presence all over the place that is just waiting to judge and condemn me - because honestly, that is what their god seems to be to these people.

Equally hopeless idiots, though, are PETA. What a bunch of fuckwits. Not only are they terrorists, not only do they kill off I don't know how many of the animals they pretend to want to save, but they really truly want to make people stop caring about animal rights. That is the only way I can make sense of what these lamebrains are doing. President Obama killed a fly, right? And now PETA's slamming him for what they manage to somehow interpret as some kind of cruelty to animals. "We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals." o_O

Fuck that shit. Americans reading this: support your president, kill a fly today!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pretty birdie

About a month ago I went to Vestby outside of Oslo to visit my friend CH - the Egypt traveller, yes. :-) I was going there to do something else entirely (more on that later) but fortunately she didn't have other plans that weekend and - a more likely problem in her case - she wasn't working, so I got to see her too. :-) And I also got to meet her new pet - her pretty birdie! Yay! She has kinda been wanting a cat, but a couple of weeks before my visit she decided to get a bird instead. A little green & yellow budgie by the name of Kjakan. And here he is.

He's so pretty ... !! :-) I wanted to get some really good shots of him, since I hardly ever get the chance to see companion birds up close like this - I don't know a lot of people who keep birds, or in fact, if truth be told, I know hardly any - but that was easier said than done. As I said she'd only had him for about a fortnight, so he wasn't quite used to people shoving cameras in his little face yet. Not to mention that I was omg a stranger!!!1! An unknown human!! o_O Apparently quite shocking for the little fellow. He did totally cute things like puff himself up into a ball of feathers, but as soon as I approached with the camera he laid the feathers down and went all normal again. And I wanted to catch him chirping and singing and whatever you call it, and he did that a lot, but as soon as I clicked the camera on he stopped. So ... not my most successful photo session. :-D But I did get a couple of good shots, I think ... the second one above isn't bad. Kjakan and his best friend who lives in the mirror. ;-)

There are a couple more pictures here, but again, not very good ones. And here's a video - three attempts to catch him doing that chirpy thing all put together into one - thank you so much to trilltrall for helping me with that. :-) I hope I'll be seeing Kjakan again before too long, and hopefully he will be feeling a bit more confident by then. :-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Picture tag!!

I've been tagged again! This time it's photo-related, and I am of course happy to participate. :-) Sorry it took a little while. :-) My relatively new (as far as I know ;-) reader Sunder tagged me with this photo challenge:

Tag, you're it! Open your FIRST photo folder. Now find the TENTH picture. Post that picture on your blog and then tell us the story of the picture! Then tag FIVE friends and have them do the same!

So, this is my picture:

It's from last year, the day in ... November, it must have been, that my mp3 player arrived in the mail. I was so excited to get it. For some bizarre reason I had never had one of these before. I had thought very vaguely about getting one, but never done anything about it. Then I came across one of these in a store while looking for something else entirely ... but I didn't buy it there, although I was quite charmed by it ... I felt like I ought to be sensible and do some research first. Ie, if it wasn't a total piece of trash I would buy it. It seemed pretty good, and I found it online cheaper than in that store (where they didn't even have the DVD recorder that I came there to buy) so I ordered it. When it arrived, it turned out to be even better than I'd thought it'd be. It has a loudspeaker, so I can use it even without headphones. I didn't know that before I got it. Check out my careful research ... !! :-D

I've been using the player pretty much every day since I got it. It goes everywhere with me. I've listened to 20 audiobooks so far this year. Boring chores at work have gotten soo much less boring ... !! :-D I totally love this little piece of plastic and circuitry and I don't know how I ever managed without it. The best thing I bought all last year, or, in fact, since I can remember. :-)

That's the story of my 10th picture. Now I'm going to tag, let's see ...

Paz over at Pictures of Ireland



The Anéa Journal

A Death in the Ballroom

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Lake House, again

So, since I didn't post the ending of The Lake House last week after all, because I got sidetracked by that poster (which I have now bought on eBay ;-) here it is now. Aww, it's so sweet. :-)

A word of warning though: If you haven't seen this movie, but you're planning to, then maybe you shouldn't watch this video. It kinda gives away quite a lot. :-)

In other news, the wait goes on. At Platekompaniet at Oslo City on Thursday. Aargh ...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vil du ha en enkel løsning ...

... på et komplisert spørsmål? Da kan du nok få det fra Hanne Nabintu Herland. Hun har vært mye i media i det siste etter et foredrag hun holdt hos KrF i Trondheim ... et foredrag hvor hun sa ting som kanskje ikke i seg selv er feil, men som hun har tatt altfor langt og som preges av noen sterke generaliseringer. Nå er hun i nettmøte hos Dagbladet, og der dukker det opp litt av hvert. Jeg bare må kommentere en ting eller to *host*. Av og til er det så fint å ha en blogg.

Disclaimer: Dette innlegget handler ikke primært om hva jeg selv mener om saken i seg selv, men hva jeg mener om utsagn som har falt på nettmøtet.

Det Herland har skrevet er i rødt og det andre har skrevet til henne er i blått.

kvinner vil få bedre menn dersom de tar seg tid til å DYRKE MANNEN, skryte av ham og anerkjenne hans mannlighet. Det er behov for å rette fokuset bort fra det ensidig egoistiske.
Men blir ikke dette akkurat like 'ensidig egoistisk'? Hvorfor skal kvinnen dyrke mannen? Hvorfor skal ikke begge parter dyrke hverandre? Og dette stadige maset om at kvinnen skal skryte av mannen ... jeg håper at min bekjentskapskrets ikke er så utenfor normen at den gjennomsnittlige norske mann virkelig har så lite selvtillit som Herland ser ut til å ville ha det til.

Jeg har aldri opplevd en slik forakt for menn og maskuline verdier blandt utenlanske kvinner.
Rettelse: Han har ikke oppfattet noen slik forakt. Dét er selvsagt noe helt annet. I mange kulturer har ikke kvinnene den 'luksusen' som vi norske kvinner har at vi – generelt sett – uten frykt for represalier kan si hva vi mener og tenker. I mange andre land forholder det seg helt annerledes, og der må kvinner vise utenpå ting som de kanskje er langt fra å føle inni seg. Men bevares, det er selvsagt mye lettere å bare ta førsteinntrykket for god fisk til enhver tid.

Norske menn vil jo ikke "undertrykke" kvinner. Vi bare gidder ikke kjoennskrig i heimen hver bidige dag....
Men kvinner ønsker 'kjønnskrig', er det det denne fyren vil frem til? Og hvis slike konflikter oppstår, så er det selvsagt bare kvinnens skyld. Ja, selvinnsikt er en fin ting, dere.

mannen kan ha noe fint å gå hjem til annet enn en dame som er sliten etter dagens kafe dag
WTF?? Ja, for det er derfor den gjennomsnittlige norske kvinne er sliten – fordi hun har sittet på kafé med venninnene sine hele dagen. Hjelpe meg, prøv å lese noen aviser en gang i blant.

Hei, det er den aggressive feminismen som er kvinnefientlig. Den har omskapt oss kvinner til dobbeltarbeidende, utslitte, karrierejagende damer som knapt har tid til å snakke med ungene våre. Feminismen har slett ikke vært så frigjørende som det påstås. Her har endel muslimer rett. De sier at den vestlige kvinnefrigjøringen ikke har gitt kvinnen frihet, men lesset på henne enda mer arbeid å gjøre enn hun hadde før. Prosjektet med å endre mannen til å like husarbeid har kvinnen heller ikke lyktes med. Det er et stort problem i mange parforhold at mannen ikke ser støvet i kroken. Igjen, jeg har større tro på LIKEVERD enn LIKESTILLING fordi likeverd innebærer at man anerkjenner forskjellene på kjønnene. Da kan kvinnen dyrke frem det hun er best på og mannen bli best på det han kan best. Kvinnen undervurderer grovt idag styrken og makten som ligger i å ta seg godt ut, stelle seg og være deilig sexy i parforholdet.
Herland er ikke den skarpeste kniven i skuffen, tror jeg.
Det er ikke 'den aggressive feminismen' som har skapt dagens kvinneliv. Det er kapitalismen. Les en bok. Og dette med 'det kvinnen er best på og det mannen er best på' (som dessuten er dårlig norsk) – alle kvinner er flinke til de samme tingene, og alle menn er flinke til de samme tingene, er det sånn det er? Ikke i min virkelighet.

Noen av de mest velrespekterte kvinner idag, ex. Angelina Jolie, er både vakker, vellykket og stilig.
Må bare si dette, selv om det er litt på siden av saken: det er ikke sikkert at Jolie ville ha vært like vakker og stilig hvis hun faktisk hadde vært som de fleste norske (og amerikanske) småbarnsmødre – dvs hvis hun hadde vært nødt til å ta seg av ungene sine selv. Jeg hadde også fiksa seks unger hvis jeg hadde hatt råd til å ansette et ubegrenset antall barnepiker. ('Velrespektert' er vel kanskje heller ikke ordet jeg først og fremst forbinder med Jolie, men. >:-)

Jeg mener kvinner fortjener denne kritikken. De har nå angrepet mannen gjennom aggressiv kvinnekamp i mange år. En liten kritikk tilbake bør man tåle.
Ja, alle kvinner har angrepet alle menn aggressivt gjennom mange år! Sånn er det, alle er like!! Spar meg. Poenget er uansett ikke – eller burde uansett ikke være – hvorvidt man ‘bør tåle’ kritikken, poenget burde være hvorvidt den er konstruktiv. Det er det Herland påstår at hun er opptatt av, er det ikke?

For å generalisere: Gutta trenger øl og sex. Vi, derimot, har et bredspektret følelsesregister og mange behov som gjør at gutta ofte kaller oss kompliserte.
Jeg synes dette er et virkelig begredelig utsagn. Er menn noen så enkle skapninger?? Herland fremstiller jo menn som små barn. Menn har ikke bredspektret følelsesregister. Nei, sånn kan det jo også sies. Men igjen, slik er ikke min virkelighet ... og godt er det.

internettpornografien. Mange muslimer uttrykker jo at de vil gjøre alt i deres makt for at ikke en slik såkalt FRIgjøring skal ramme deres kvinner også.
Jeg spyr.
Les den setningen én gang til.
Det er altså helt greit at de muslimske mennene skal bestemme hvordan fremtiden skal arte seg for de muslimske kvinnene. Ja, det er jo 'deres' kvinner. Kvinnene er ikke sine egne, så det er klart at mannfolka skal bestemme. >:-( Jeg spyr.

Hvordan kan du påstå at du er feminist på din hals og så oppfordre kvinner til å skulle møte mannen i døra med maten ferdig hver dag, for så å leve for å tilfredsstille hans seksuelle behov? Det er så langt fra likestilling og respekt man kan komme! Du får det til å høres ut som om kvinnen ikke har annet å gjøre enn å løpe etter menn som de kan dilte etter resten av livet.
Huff, dette var trist lesning. Det skal gå dårlig med mange parforhold i fremtiden dersom holdningen til mannen er så laber som det du sier her. Stakkars fyr dersom vi kvinner blir så harde. Norge må forøvrig være det eneste landet i verden der det er galt om en kvinne bryr seg om hvordan hun ser ut og er opptatt av et godt sexliv med mannen...
Stråmann, stråmann, bukken min ...

Kvinner som ikke gir sex skaper konflikter. Er det ikke opplagt at hvis man elsker en, vil man også at den personen blir tilfredsstillt og får sine lyster på kvinnen man elsker tilfredsstillt?
Men gjelder ikke dette begge parter? Hvis kjønnsforskjellene er så viktige, så er det faktisk slik at kvinner gjerne vil at mannen skal hjelpe til i huset og med barna og at hvis han gjør det, så blir hun gladere og mer fornøyd og dermed også gjerne mer innstilt på sex? Hvorfor skal bare kvinnen innrette seg, og ikke mannen? Er ikke mannen smart nok til å oppfatte at hvis han oppfører seg på en viss måte så får han det som han vil? Eller oppfatter han det, men er bare for lat til å gjøre noe med det ... ? Og i så fall, hvor ligger egentlig problemet?
Hva mener du om at kvinnen bør gi mannen sin sex selvom hun ikke har lyst, for å tilfredsstille hans behov fordi han elsker deg og er logisk nok kåt på deg?
Er det virkelig helt greit å ligge med en kvinne som ikke vil ligge med deg men bare lar deg gjøre det fordi hun synes at hun må? Er det noe fint og bra?

Jeg er mann og har mange venner som har diskutert dette, vi er enige om at kvinner er for kravstore, menn må delta mere i arbeid innenfor de fire vegger men dette går ikke motsatt vei.
??? Er det ikke slik at alle statistikker viser at kvinner gjennomført gjør mer husarbeid og tar større ansvar for barna selv i situasjoner hvor begge parter i forholdet jobber like mye? Hva er det han vil at kvinner skal gjøre? Male huset? Mekke bilen? Åh, statistikk, jeg trenger statistikk ... !!!

Den eneste grunnen til at mennesker søker sammen er sex.
Uff. Trist.

Ingen spørsmål, bare en kommentar.
Ut i fra det man leser du sier, så skulle vel de fleste tro at du stod litt på menns side. Men, gjennom å påstå at ''det er bare å gi gubben et nummer'' er en forenkling av menns følelsesliv og slikt tjener hverken kvinner eller menn. Det er faktisk noe av de samme holdningene erkehat-feministene har. Beklager altså, men jeg hadde blitt helsikes fornærmet om en kvinne hadde forsøkt noe slikt på meg, og jeg hadde tatt bena på nakken fortere enn svint. Slikt er en bekreftelse på at den kvinnen ALDRI hadde respektert meg uansett. Jeg kan garantere deg at deg den kvinnen hadde aldri sett snurten av meg igjen, overhodet.

Innsendt av: Enur
Ja, jeg står på mannens side! Menn har lenge nok blitt hakket på av sinte norske kvinner.
Snakk om å overhodet ikke ta inn over seg innholdet i en kommentar ... !! Herland overser fullstendig alt hva denne fyren faktisk sier og bare kjører på med sin egen agenda. Trist.

Men etterlyser mer snakk om betingelsene for et godt seksualliv i dagens samfunn: trofasthet, tillit og ansvar.
Jaså? Jeg får faktisk det inntrykket her at trofasthet blir noe ganske ensidig i Herlands ideelle parforhold. Hvis kvinnen har plikt til å tilfredsstille mannens sexbehov, så må det vel nesten være hennes skyld hvis han er utro ... ? o_O

Hei, ja økonomisk likestilling...kvinner velger jo ofte lavtlønnede omsorgsyrker, mens menn velger økonomi og ledelsesfag etc. Dersom kvinner ønsker samme lønn, må de jo velge yrker som er godt betalt. Dersom kvinner velger å bli eksempelvis sykepleiere, vet de jo i utgangspunktet at dette er et yrke hvor man ikke tjener like mye som i privat næringsliv. Det bør ikke forundre dem at de da tjener mindre enn menn.
At jeg aldri har forstått at det er så enkelt ... !! *facepalm*
Morsomt at Herland andre steder sier at hun er fullt klar over at det finnes nyanser og at alt ikke er svart/hvitt og sånt. Fnis.

Dette er helt på trynet!
så du mener at norske kvinner skal stå på kjøkknet og lage mat til enhver tid og ligge å sprike hver gang det er konflikter bare for å tilfredestille menn og få dem til å holde kjeft? sex skal hverken være bellønning eller straff! du oppfordrer til å bruke sex som skal være noe fint mellom to mennesker som et råttent spill. forlag for hva menn burde gjøre for oss eller burde vi bare være sexslaver?!

Innsendt av: Sandra
forøvrig ville jeg aldri brukt betegnelsen råttent spill om sex i parforholdet. Det er jo noe av det fineste som finnes!
Hun leser virkelig ikke det folk skriver til henne. Hele poenget er jo at 'Sandra' ikke mener at sex er et 'råttent spill', men at det blir det hvis det brukes på den måten Herland faktisk ønsker.

jeg føler kravene norske kvinner stiller oss menn er skyhøye! Ikke nok med at de forventer at vi har godt betalt jobb, at vi kan pusse opp hus, ta vare på bil og hjem, men de forventer i tillegg at vi skal ta 50% av barnepasset, 50% av matlagingen, 50% av vaskinga.
Godt betalt er én ting ... jeg tror at de fleste norske kvinner forventer at partner har jobb, og så får man ta detaljene etter hvert. De fleste norske menn forventer nok det samme av sin partner, hvis sannheten skal frem. ;-) Å ta vare på bilen er vel ikke det verste kravet som kan bli stilt til en mann? Jeg tror faktisk at det er noe de fleste menn gjør med glede. Oppussing av hus er litt spesielt, der bør nok hvert enkelt par finne sin egen løsning (men mange menn synes jo gjerne at mye rundt dette med oppussing er en mannegreie og at det er sånne ting menn både bør og skal ta ansvar for – og da blir det IMO vanskelig å si stakkars mannfolk som tvinges til alt dette ...) Men resten gjør meg litt trist. Når begge parter jobber så er det faktisk ikke mer enn rimelig å forvente at husarbeid og barnepass etc fordeles likt. Alle er ikke like flinke til alt, så man får jo bli enige om en fordeling som funker for begge parter. Men hva er grunnen til at menn ikke skal ta seg av 50% av barnepass, matlaging og vasking hvis begge parter jobber heltid utenfor hjemmet?

Selvsagt skal man ikke ha sex når man absolutt ikke har lyst. Jeg har slett ikke sagt at man skal ha sex midt i en konflikt. Mitt poeng var at sex er et undervurdert middel til opprensning av vond luft mellom partene i et forhold.
Er det så sikkert? For mannen, ja, kanskje (i hvert fall hvis han er en så enkel sjel som Herland mener at han er). Men for kvinnen tror jeg personlig at det er en betydelig risiko for at konflikten faktisk forverres – og sexlivet også, muligens – hvis man skal 'lufte ut' etter en konflikt ved å ha sex, heller enn å få konflikten grundig ut av verden først og fremst. Menn som tvinger frem denne løsningen i sitt parforhold bør nok være forberedt på at det kan få utilsiktede langtidskonsekvenser. >:-)
Med tanke på hvor stor vekt Herland legger på de naturgitte forskjellene mellom kjønnene, så tar hun veldig lite høyde for kvinners naturgitte behov. Forskningen viser vel ganske så entydig at om en mann vil få kona i humør, så er det lite som funker så bra som å støvsuge huset. ;-)

mange norske kvinner har et utrolig stort krav til mannen i et forhold. Man skal ha en god jobb og bra lønn, være mest mulig hjemme med barna, lage mat, stelle i huset, være handyman og ikke minst ha en høy stjerne i venninnegjengen hennes.
Ja, de fleste norske kvinner ønsker at mannen skal bidra likt i hjemmet. Jeg kan ikke begripe at det skal være galt – når hun også har en jobb, noe jeg har inntrykk av at de fleste norske menn forventer at partner skal ha. Og det med barna ... o_O Hvis man ikke ønsker å være mest mulig sammen med barna sine, hvorfor har man fått dem da?
At folk ønsker at partner skal komme overens med vennene man hadde før forholdet oppsto kan umulig være kritikkverdig.

Hvorfor skal jeg som norsk kvinne, en utmerket kokk og glad i sex, ta til takke med en mann som syter bare han blir bedt om å oppføre seg som et voksent, ansvarlig menneske og bidra i hjemmet? Kan det være norske menn, ikke norske kvinner, det er noe galt med?
Disse meget rimelige spørsmålene er det VamPus som står bak. Hun har skrevet lesverdig om Herland tidligere, her.

Er det undertrykking når menn ikke får servert middag når de kommer hjem om ettermiddagen? Er det undertrykking å ikke ha så mye sex som man ønsker? Og er det kravstort av meg som kvinne å kreve at mine interesser og ønsker ivaretas på lik linje med mannens? Merk: ikke at mine interesser er viktigere, men LIKE viktige som mannens? Og i hvilke tilfeller skal jeg adlyde menn og ellers holde munn? Skal det noen ganger være omvendt (at menn adlyder meg og holder kjeft)?
Veldig gode poenger her. Jeg støtter denne. :-) Og ikke minst synes jeg at denne innsenderen har skrevet noe veldig bra og viktig:

Hei, jeg er selv gift med en utenlandsk mann og har bodd mange år i utlandet, så mitt liv har ikke akkurat vært "likestilt". Jeg er enig i at norske kvinner er kravstore til sine menn, og mange ser ikke hvilke fantastiske menn de har. Etter min mening handler norske kvinners problem ikke om for mye eller for hard "feminisme", men om at de går for fort lei "hverdagsmannen" sin, og bryter forholdet fordi de søker lidenskap og forelskelse. Det er jo ikke mulig å bevare i lengden. Men jeg er kritisk til dine lettvinte utsagn og "løsninger". Russiske kvinner er ikke mer seksuelle enn norske, og ikke alle problemer kan løses ved å hoppe til køys. Over hele verden aksepterer kvinner uønsket sex for å tekkes mannen, men det fører ikke ektefellene nærmere hverandre. Tvert i mot. Sjansen for at kvinnen i forholdet utvikler kalde følelser pga falskhet og følelsen av tvang er større. Jeg vet ikke helt hva du ønsker å oppnå med dine uttalelser? Mange menn i Norge vil nok støtte deg, men kanskje handler det mer om den bitre følelsen av å ha mistet mye av sitt maktgrunnlag? Makt som aldri har blitt brukt på en god måte, når sant skal sies.

Skal jeg si hva jeg selv mener, så blir det følgende. Ja, det er problemer i forholdet mellom kjønnene her i Norge. Men i forhold til andre land er problemene veldig små. Og som kvinne er jeg både glad og takknemlig for å leve i et samfunn hvor jeg blir gitt som utgangspunkt at jeg har samme verdi og samme rettigheter som alle andre i dette samfunnet. (Nei, muslimene har slett ikke rett. :-) Men som sagt, det er problemer. Og disse tror jeg skyldes tre ting - kort oppsummert, kvinner, menn og samfunnet.

Kvinner - ja, en del kvinner er for kravstore, selv om jeg ikke tror at disse primært er feminister. Jeg tror heller at de er produkter av vårt moderne samfunn som nettopp ikke har satt seg skikkelig inn i hva feminismen dreier seg om. En del kvinner har også tatt skade, hvis man kan si det slik, av å leve i samfunnet vårt slik det er i dag og ikke minst gjennom påvirkning av media.
Samfunnet og media - de gir til dels feil signaler til oss. Det er ikke sant at man må være perfekt for å ha et perfekt liv - selv om man kanskje kan tilgis for å tro at det er slik. Hva så om det er litt rot og litt støv i krokene - ingen dør av det, så la støvsugeren stå og ta heller med piknikkurven ut i det fine været. :-) For eksempel. Slipp litt på kravene og føl heller mer på hva man virkelig vil ... og helst i fellesskap. :-)
Menn - og her er det jeg er virkelig uenig med Herland. Stakkars mannfolk, etter å ha vært fullstendig dominerende gjennom hele vår arts 200 000 år lange eksistens, så takler de ikke å bli utfordret i skarve 30-40 år?? Står det virkelig så dårlig til? Det tror jeg ikke. Jeg tror at begge kjønn må ta sin del av ansvaret for hvordan ting skal bli og for det som går galt. Og jeg tror også at en del av problemet Herland peker på skyldes det faktum at gutter i vårt samfunn oppdras til å sette seg selv og egne behov øverst på lista, mens jenter oppdras til å sette andre foran seg selv. Når all jobbing og slit da skal deles likt, så er det selvsagt at den ene av disse to gruppene kommer til å oppleve dette som urettferdig på en måte den andre gruppen kommer til å finne det vanskelig å begripe. Men er dette kvinners skyld??

Ja, det er det, for det er jo vi som oppdrar guttene. Eller?? :-)

Quote of the Week

All the biblical miracles will at last disappear with the progress of science.
Matthew Arnold

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Here, ducky ducky ducky ...

There's an old saying that says if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck (subtext: even if it claims to be, say, a sheep). I read an interesting article in Dagbladet online this morning. Do you know the term 'Freudian slip'? Well, here's an example for you. o_O

Washed-up rock star Hank von Helvete (not his real name ;-) has recently been cured of his heroin addiction (which as far as I recall he claimed that Jebus had cured him of a couple of years ago, but I guess that didn't take) by the $cientology front organization Narconon. Now he's been sucked into the anti-psychiatry campaigns of the CCHR. All this, apparently, at the instigation of his new manager who is an avowed $cientologist. However, he claims that he himself is absolutely not a $cientologist, and that he is not being exploited by the cult (also, I'm sure, that it's not a cult, but we know better, don't we).

In the article he says various things about Kaja Bordevich Ballo, who killed herself about a year ago, and her father, MP Olav Gunnar Ballo. Not the nicest things. And here's the Freudian slip. He says, I feel incredibly sorry for a father who loses his child. That's got to be clear. But no fucking way will I take the blame for it. (Ballo has criticized the Co$ for their involvement in his daughter's death.) But ... if he's not a $cientologist, and he has nothing to do with the Co$, then why on earth should he be blamed for it? Huh.

Yet more proof, if any was needed, that $cientologists lie.

Don't let them fool you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Hymn of the Federation

National anthems are an interesting phenomenon. You can come to understand a lot about a nation by studying the song they've chosen to represent them to the world. It's not a coincidence that the American anthem is a battle hymn, a story about war. And Britain hardly even has an anthem at all. I find it difficult to really count God Save the Queen, since that's also in use in other countries too - here in Norway, for one.

Some examples: The Norwegian anthem is about the country's physical appearance and about its people's struggle against superior outside forces. The Swedish anthem is about how Sweden's great and they like it a lot. :-) There's nothing about anything historical or troubles in the past - and indeed, why should there be; they had no such trouble, they only made it for others. ;-) The Danish is about physical features, again, as well as the country's ancient history. It refers to some of the old Norse gods, even. Really ancient history. :-) The French anthem is about their modern history, about ideology and politics. The Saudi Arabian one is about how Allah rocks and please will he give their king a long life. Sheesh, the poor saps. The Israeli anthem is about Zionism. As far as I understand the lyrics they seem rather whiny and irrational. Quel surprise. ;-) The Icelandic anthem is about how Iceland is the best, Iceland rules, Iceland is the best EVAR, and God loves them more than anyone. Again, not a surprise, is it. ;-) The Spanish anthem has no official lyrics, because apparently they haven't been able to agree on any. :-D I've seen a couple of versions of the lyrics and ... to be honest, they sound kind of fascist. The Dutch anthem is the oldest in the entire world. Of course. :-) It's about history from centuries ago and how it's best to be friends and get along. Aww. :-)

My favorite national anthem, out of all the ones I've heard, is of course the Norwegian one. Discount that, I am hopelessly biased. :-) My second favorite is the Russian anthem, the Hymn of the Federation. Now that is a hell of a national anthem. I dig it. :-) And since this is - hooray! - Russia Day, it seemed like a great reason to post it here on the blog. Have a listen. Oh, and if you think it sounds kinda suspicious, well, it was written for the Soviet Union in 1944. So ... yeah. It is kinda suspicious. But it sounds fantastic. :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I love books. :-)

Yes, I love books. :-) And I love the things books inspire people to. I mean, look at this ... !!

This is Arma de Instruccion Masiva, a 'weapon of mass instruction'. :-D It's the creation of the Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff, and these days it can be seen on the streets of Buenos Aires. He's actually a BookCrosser although he may not really know it - he both gives away books from the sculpture as well as accepting donations of books. I think this is so fantastic. Just look at that thing. Brilliant. I'm not really into cars, but I think I'd want one like this. ;-)

A few of Lemesoff's photos can be seen on his photostream on Flickr, here - some pretty good shots IMO. More pictures of the Arma, if anyone's interested. Three days ago I'd never heard about this guy, but I like him already. :-)

I'll be cross-posting this to my book blog, Leisha Reads ... a second blog that I set up in January as a place to post book reviews etc. Mostly for my own enjoyment. :-) Feel free to stop by though. :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pat Condell mini-rant

Pat Condell is fantastic. He says what needs to be said and he says it so well. I love the car metaphor. :-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lizards and turtles and snakes, oh my!!

Today's post is brought on by an article in today's Dagbladet which, unfortunately, seems not to have been run in the online edition. The text of the article is here (in Norwegian). Thanks to my friend Dag-Erling for texting me about the article, although I had in fact seen it already on my way to work ... but it's the thought that counts. :-)

Anyway. The article is about the proposed change in legislation which will make reptiles legal as pets in this country. Or I should say, reptiles in private ownership. 'Reptiles as pets' is a misleading term. :-) At the moment, reptiles are completely illegal for anyone to own in this country except zoos with official permits. I've been planning a post about that in which I want to go into more detail on that law and its history and consequences, so I won't talk too much about that here. It's enough to know that reptiles are illegal, except for turtles, for which permits may be and are given to those who can prove allergies that prevent them from keeping furry animals (I myself am in fact allergic even though I had a dog for twelve years). Norway is pretty much unique in the world in having these restrictions. It is nonsensical and counterproductive. As I say, more on that later.

The article is about the proposed alterations to the law, and some reactions to them. The organization forced to handle the law and its consequences is called Mattilsynet ... a relatively acceptable translation of which would be, let's see ... the Food Authority? OK, so let's call them FA from now on. :-) This body, which has a very schizophrenic attitude towards the law, has been asked by the Department of Agriculture to draw up a list of species - the number was debated, but ended up on 30 - which can be kept acceptably in this country, the so-called 'positive list'. My herpetology group, the Norwegian Herpetology Association (NHF, website here) has been working with the FA to create this list for them. We of course are strongly in favor of the changes. ;-) There are other groups, though, who are strongly against ... and it's the dumbassery spouted by that side that inspired me to write this blog post today.

The FA have realized that something needs to change ... something needs to be done ... because at present, although there is a total ban on all herptile species, there are at least 100,000 reptiles in private ownership in this country. Yes, that figure is correct. One hundred thousand - and that's a conservative estimate. A huge field of animal husbandry with a high level of activity over which the authorities in this country have absolutely zero control. That is not good. I am so glad that there is leadership in the FA now that is capable of seeing that.

However, there's always another point of view. In this debate represented by Dyrevernsalliansen*, the Alliance for Animal Protection, and their fearless (and apparently brainless) leader Live Kleveland. She/they have had the highly biased and AFAIK underqualified biologist Clifford Warwick review the list. His report shows, and I quote Kleveland:
Should one weird hobby really count for that much? According to a report [...]** we must accept a certain number of deaths as a consequence of allowing [these animals]. They may carry diseases that can transfer to humans, and in that case illness in humans and in some cases deaths will be inevitable. OMFG. Can she not hear herself talk?

A few years ago a little boy, I think he was seven, was pretty much torn to pieces by a pack of huskies whose outdoor enclosure left something to be desired. A tragedy, of course. But do you know what? If we're going to have extensive dog ownership in this country - and we obviously are - then some young children will be killed. We must accept a certain number of deaths as a consequence of allowing these animals. Where's the debate??

Personally, I believe that there should be restrictions on all forms of animal ownership. Today only one group, the herptiles, have any sort of restrictions on them, whereas the other groups, birds, fish, rodents, cats and of course dogs, which arguably do more damage to humans than any other species we associate closely with, are basically a free for all. IMO this is wrong. No one should be allowed to just keep whatever pets they choose unless they can prove that they can and will care for the animal acceptably. There are any number of dog owners in this country who should never have been allowed to even puppysit for a weekend. Where's the debate??

In closing, a few word from Are Hogner, owner and director of the one zoo we have here in the capital, Oslo Reptile Park, also quoted in the article. It's now no longer a question of whether it will be made legal, but about when it will become legal.

Indeed. And long overdue it is.

*This organization is of course, like their comrades at home and abroad, a group of extremists and borderline terrorists, although to my knowledge they have never been convicted of any criminal activity.

**I have left part of this quote out because it is non-essential and I suspect that the information in it is a lie.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Lake House

I was at my friends' K and Dag-Erling's house watching movies yesterday ... first love actually, which I do love, actually ... Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, and a wonderful cast surrounding them and a brilliant script, what's not to love?? :-) ... and then The Lake House. Which is one of my favorite Keanumovies. It's not for everyone, I guess, but I've liked it ever since ... ever since I first heard about it. It's a total chick flick, but it's kind of original, it has some wonderful characters, and Keanu and Sandra have great chemistry together. Plus it's really nice to see a sincere love story where the characters aren't 19 years old and even act their ages. Oh, and Christopher Plummer!! Who doesn't dig Christopher Plummer??

Anyway. Today's post was going to have to be inspired by last night - it's Keanu Monday!! :-D - but not as I'd thought at first. I was going to post a video - the ending of the movie, which is just too sweet - but then I changed my mind when I remembered the American poster for this movie. It's amazing. I can't believe I don't have it. :-o

I must have it.

Click to enlarge, it's soo worth it ... ;-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Dissolution of the Union

Today marks the 104th anniversary of modern Norway's independence. On June 7th, 1905, Parliament declared the union between Sweden and Norway dissolved, due to the failure of King Oscar II to provide Norway with a government. The union was a personal one with the monarch the only tie, and after years of strife between the 'brother peoples', this situation had been actively created by Norway's political leaders - a situation in which it was impossible for the king to fulfill his constitutional responsibilities. And thus we were free. :-)

Not without struggle, though - during the summer of 1905 the threat of war (perceived or real :-) hung over us constantly. In some ways we had been transported back to 1814. Then, too, we had thought that we were free ... that we had succeeded in throwing off the shackles of union ... only to be forced into them anew. In 1814 we had had two choices - surrender to Sweden willingly and be treated with leniency, or resist and be taken by force. A denial of the Swedish claim would have led to an invasion, which we would have been powerless to fight off. Europe had little interest in our affairs and less in helping us. So there was really not much to choose from ... and we surrendered. 91 years later, however, the situation had changed. We were much stronger, we had everything we needed to claim our independence ... and in Europe the climate had changed, there was a much greater sensitivity to the rights of small nations. Any threat of a Swedish invasion now would certainly not be overlooked or even favored.

In the union with Sweden, we had a great deal of independence, even our own constitution. The one thing we did not have was the right to determine our own foreign affairs policies. Foreign affairs was a matter for Swedes. All our consulates abroad were controlled from Stockholm. This became a bone of contention for two reasons. Partly because Norwegian foreign affairs interests differed a great deal from those of Sweden; partly because as Norway became a force to be reckoned with in international shipping, it was primarily Norwegians who required help from the consulates ... help that Sweden was a great deal less than capable of rendering. Norwegian politicians began to demand true Norwegian consulates - Swedish politicians opposed their efforts from very real fears that this would bring about the end of the union. For this and other reasons there was a great deal of friction between Kristiania (now Oslo) and Stockholm. Our Parliament passed a Consulate Bill without the sanction of the latter; this was vetoed by the king, first once, then twice. But that is as far as the royal veto goes. When the bill was passed for the third time, the king refused to accept it. Our government resigned in protest. King Oscar refused to accept their resignations, knowing full well that he would not be able to find anyone to take part in a new cabinet. On May 27th he met with three of his ministers, demanding that they sign his refusal of the Consulate Bill. They absolutely would not, adding that any Norwegian who signs his name to that paper, will thenceforth have no country. And King Oscar slammed his fist on the table and said ... you know. :-) It was not entirely untrue, either - Oscar II was very fond of us, he travelled here extensively, he knew the country well and he spoke perfect Norwegian. Which is very rare in a Swede. ;-) But events had moved far beyond his control.

On this day 104 years ago, Parliament declared the union with Sweden under one king to be null and void because the king has ceased to function as Norway's king. It took months for Sweden to accept this fait accompli - months of negotiations and bickering and rumors. On August 13th a national vote was held here to determine popular agreement with the dissolution, which to Norwegian minds was already an established fact. Male citizens 25 years of age or older could vote, and the results were what you might call extremely conclusive: 368,208 in favor, 184 against. Although women could not vote at that time, signatures were collected in support of the dissolution, and 244,765 signatures were gathered in only two weeks. Pretty impressive back then. :-)

There is good reason to be skeptical of these numbers, since the polling was both disorganized and biased. But there is no reason to doubt the strong wish of the Norwegian people to finally be truly free. Hence, the Dissolution of the Union and an independent Norway - a new royal family and a new chapter in our history. May our independence never end. :-)

Quote of the Week

I am as good a Norwegian as you!!
HM King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway
May 27th, 1905

Sorry ... but no. No.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Warsaw 2009: Stare Miasto revisited

If you remember my last post on Warsaw's Old Town (although, granted, it was quite a while ago ;-) I mentioned that the city suffered enormous damage in WWII, but that it was rebuilt, and that the job of reconstruction is showed off very impressively in the Stare Miasto. Wandering around its maze of streets and looking at its gorgeous facades it was hard to believe that the entire place was a ruin 60 years ago. In today's post I will show off some of those facades. Especially from Rynek Starego Miasta, the Old Town Square. There were soo many beautiful houses there, I could hardly stop looking. :-) Everywhere I turned my gaze there was some new lovely detail to be discovered. :-) Enjoy.

Not every facade is equally impressive, perhaps ... but still interesting. ;-)

Rynek Starego Miasto by night. I am soo happy with this shot. :-)

More pictures from Stare Miasto here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shoutout: Opplysningskontoret

Do you read Norwegian and want to get a good laugh? Do you follow current events? Take an interest in politics? Do you like Hallo i uken? Then the site I'm going to direct you to now may be right up your alley. If you always believe what you read and take everything literally, though, you should probably go somewhere else.

Go here to check it out.

This site is all in Norwegian, alas, but to give those of you who don't understand the language some idea, it's basically the Norwegian answer to The Onion. And it's totally hilarious. Their name, Opplysningskontoret, means 'the information office', but they're more in the business of disinformation. ;-) There are seven contributors and they all write well and are really funny. IMHO. :-) They have a way with words about them. But the funniest part is the comments sections, whenever someone stumbles on the place and thinks it's all for real. :-D

Some sample articles (my translation of the headlines):

* Cancer patient pulls himself together and goes to work
* Bankrupt Europe tricks Norway into hosting expensive nonsense festival
* Norway buys more overpriced crappy weapons, US still sulks
* Man marries fetus
* Dead people sick and tired of being quoted to support all kinds of bullshit
* More than 100 Norwegians will die every day
* Radical Islam considers position seriously after storm of criticism

Have fun! :-)