Friday, December 31, 2010

Books I've read in 2010 - December

Kurt quo vadis by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
Sort messe by John Dickson Carr
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris – AUDIO
Fasandreperne by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Birds of Heaven by Ben Okri (Phoenix Paperback)
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie – AUDIO
Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
I den stille natt by Mari Jungstedt
Francis Meyers lidenskap by Henrik H Langeland – AUDIO
Sofies valg by William Styron
Født sånn eller blitt sånn? by Harald Eia and Ole-Martin Ihle
De dødes tjern by Bernhard Borge – AUDIO
Fakta om Finland by Erlend Loe
Kurt kurér by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
Kurtby by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
To byer by Qui Xiaolong
Kurt koker hodet by Erlend Loe - AUDIO

Better in the Dark by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

I'll be updating this post this weekend with some numbers. :-)

And of course, happy new year to all my blog readers! I hope you will all have a good New Year's Eve and, more importantly, a wonderful new year in 2011. :-)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm in the top fifty!!

So yay!! This will mean nothing to you, but I'm really psyched, so here it is. I just realized today that I'm now one of the top fifty Postcrossers in Norway. How cool is that. :-D Over at Postcrossing the site keeps track of the top fifty ranking for each country, and if you're that high on the list, you get two little thingies on your profile. Look at mine, here. There's one for the number of postcards you've sent out (that have been registered as received by their recipients) - I'm 48th on that - and one for the distance your postcards have travelled, I'm 49th on that. Whee!! I'm so happy that something like this makes me so happy. :-)

This is the card that got me into the top fifty. I made it myself. :-)

FYI: There are currently 692 registered Postcrossers here in Norway. Just for, I don't know, scale. :-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hope springs eternal

But sometimes it may come from an unlikely source.

Does anyone remember my most recent rant - this post about escalators, the stupid idiots who can't use them and the explanatory signs of my girlhood which are now merely a lovely dream. (A post which, in case you didn't notice, prompted an anonymous commenter to deduce that I seem to be 'frustrated'. No shit, Sherlock.)

But yes, hope springs eternal!! I would never have expected this cheering sight to come from Sandvika Storsenter, but 'tis true as the poets say - even the most disgustingly sprawling megamalls* have their redeeming features. This so brought on my Christmas spirit when I spotted it the morning of the 24th. Warmth and fuzziness.

*A megamall by Norwegian standards, obviously.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Presents!!

Yes, Christmas is a time for tricks and japes of all kinds ... and for presents too. Of course I got lots of great stuff. More than I need ... !! but then again I don't really need anything, so what are you gonna do. :-) Here's some of the stuff I got.

Chocolate! Of course, chocolate. Some from Vienna, some sent from Sweden, and some home made. :-)

Turtle stuff ... !! Whee ... ! :-D Of course I gotta get me some turtle stuff. See the drawing and the necklace? Those came in the package with the crocheted turtle and the beads in the bowl there, from my BookCrossing friend Panzeranzi in Gothenburg (we do a Christmas list kind of thing on the Scandinavian forum every year) ... on the back of the drawing it says by Vera aged 8. Aww ... ! :-) The beads are perhaps the fanciest things in this picture - scroll down ...

They're lampwork glass beads and look, they have turtles on them ... ! :-D

Handmade stuff! Check out the quilted pouch, isn't it adorable?? No prizes for guessing who made it for me. ;-) Anne Ida, my mother's really interested in that pattern, she wants to try making one for her turtle collector best friend (although she says she will never be able to do the zipper as well as you've managed here!).

Hello Kitty stuff!! Yay!! Supposedly from KAS and trilltrall, but I'm not entirely convinced that the latter's input was heard in the selection of these items ... ? ;-) (Hey James, don't you just love these?? ;-)

Elephants! A piece of artwork and a carved figurine, let's say it's stone. ;-) It came from Russia, so ooh. :-)

Jewellery. See the turtle on the little seashell? I didn't spot it at first. :-) The Egyptian cartouche supposedly has my name on it.

Calendars!! See the bottom one, from the Angels of Assisi animal shelter? I got that from my friend Vickie in Virginia, and I was so happy to get it, because when I read on the package that it contained a card and a calendar, this was exactly what I hoped the latter would be. It's all her own photos, she's really good at photographing animals.

Postcards!! This year I got postcards from four different people - or actually six, because two of the presents were from couples. :-D Last year I got two gifts with postcards in them, so awareness is definitely growing. In other news, yes, my parents did go to Egypt last month. However did you guess??

Postcards from Belgrade ... !! Of course from Calyx and N. They've just come back from spending four months there (it's N.'s home town). This was exactly what I wanted ... I've been to Belgrade, but that was before I became a Postcrosser, so I didn't buy any postcards. Been kicking myself ever since. :-D Problem solved now, so thanks, guys! :-)

To everyone who doesn't see their gift here, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't post it all! :-) I really appreciate everything I got, it was all great and I really want to say thank you so much. :-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
H. L. Mencken

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On this day ...

... a savior was born.

He revealed eternal Truth, bringing joy to millions.

He astonished the world with his command over Nature.

He changed history forever.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Love Actually'

I love this movie, it's one of my all-time favorites. It's so funny and moving and charming and sweet, I totally love it ... and that is seriously not just because both Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are in it. It really is a very good movie. Of course it's a Christmas movie too, and it's really getting to be one of my must-haves for Christmas. Just finished watching it on TV ... with about two dozen ten-minute commercial breaks, or at least that's how it felt. Next year I'll bring my copy of the DVD along instead. >:-)



Fullscreen here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How goddamn difficult is it ...

... to use a fucking escalator??!

When I was a little girl there were signs in shopping malls and train stations explaining how to use these incredibly simple devices.* These days you never see signs like that. Why the hell not?? It is SO painfully obvious that they are desperately needed. Bring back the written instructions, people are fucking idiots and NEED INSTRUCTIONS.

The group that suck hardest at using escalators is immigrants. Ie, people who are obviously immigrants, so, not from the first world. I don't know where these people come from, primitive backwards places with no escalators perhaps, because they clearly find them extremely difficult to use properly. You people need to connect with practical reality. To borrow a phrase from the one and only Eric Cartman, I hate you guys.

The second suckiest group is teenagers. Can be of any ethnicity. This should come as no surprise, because teenagers are retards. You also dress like idiots. I hate you even more.

The third group now appears to be growing and slowly reaching out to enfold EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CITY. What the fuck is wrong with people?? How can it be difficult to just use an escalator like a normal civilized considerate human being with the tiniest shred of intelligence?!

I don't understand how this can be difficult for people, but it very clearly is. They actually need help to carry out this extremely simple task. They need someone to make this clear for them.

STAND TO YOUR RIGHT.
WALK TO YOUR LEFT.

THERE I FIXED IT.

Oh, if only!!! Merry fucking Christmas.

*By 'incredibly simple' I mean simple to use, not to construct and maintain. No offense intended to any escalator repair technician who may be reading this. You guys do a great job.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The longest night ...

... of the year is tonight. Today is the day when the darkness lies heaviest over Norway. (Well, I should say southern Norway. Up north they won't have noticed any difference, since they haven't seen the sun now for weeks and weeks anyway. I feel for you. :-) It actually really felt that way today ... it felt like the sun would never rise this morning ... like the light was just dragging its metaphorical feet and would never arrive. And by the time I left work at a little past 3:30 it was already almost dark. It's not very cheering.

But what is cheering is the knowledge that today was the very worst. From here on out it can only get better. :-) Every day now it will get a little lighter. Just a few minutes to start with, but every little counts. The sun turns tonight at 22 minutes to midnight, the winter solstice, and starts making its way closer to us again. The universe is an amazing place.

Another thing that's amazing is the thought of all the emotions and mental energy that has been spent on this event through the centuries. A thousand years ago my ancestors would have celebrated this day with a sacrifice, called blót ... a Yule sacrifice, to bring back the sun and light a hope in the long darkness.

A remnant of this pagan celebration is still alive in the Scandinavian word for Christmas, jul. In the high middle ages the church tried to force us to let go of this ancient word - having successfully foisted their wrongly dated festival upon us in place of our own celebration - they wanted us to call it Kristmesse instead. But they never succeeded, and jól has remained through the many centuries. Whatever we celebrate on December 24th - the spring birth of a man who never existed, our families, Isaac Newton, a few days' vacation or the mountains of good food - it's a welcome light in the darkness of winter. Joy of the season to all. :-)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote about Keanu

"Keanu Reeves"? Now there's a name you'll never see on a marquee.
Unnamed Hollywood studio exec, ca 1988.

Just goes to show that having the job doesn't mean you have the eye. Or something. Sheesh, I can't wait till it's Christmas break.

On an unrelated note: Can someone do me a favor and watch this? It's just something totally innocent about fair trade, I promise. I have OCD, just very minor ...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NORWAY 2005 - In My Dreams

I bet you've all been longing for another Eurovision post ... ?? ;-) Well, no time like the present. Last ESC post of the year - one of my favorite songs from any year of the contest ever. And I'm so happy to say that I do have a favorite that is Norwegian. This is the song that we sent to Ukraine after Warrior Princess Xena Ruslana won with her crazy 'English' and catchy beats. We had high hopes for it, but alas, the monsters were too powerful. We only came 9th. Still, it was a lot of fun, and who doesn't enjoy seeing grown men dancing around in skin tight silver lamé pants and black lipstick.

I really dig this song. It's so catchy and the guys had so much fun playing it. I love it. :-)

This is Wig Wam performing basically their own composition - music & lyrics by Trond Holter, who plays guitar in the band - In My Dreams. I'm sure they all had some input into the creation of this classic. ;-) They competed for Norway in the Palats Sportu in Kyiv on Saturday, May 21st, 2005.


Fullscreen here.

Lyrics here.

Ooh, and congratulations to my friend Gunnar who won Norway's most coveted blog award tonight!! He so deserves it and I'm so happy for him. I knew he would win. :-) It couldn't have happened to a better blog. :-)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Turtle cuteness

Freshwater turtles do a lot of cute things, but the perhaps cutest thing of all is when they yawn. They are beyond adorable when they yawn. :-) It's a dream of mine to get a picture of one of my little guys yawning - maybe one day I will achieve this, but it's far from easy. They never do it when I have the camera ready. At least, almost never. Hah! It's not quite what I wanted - it's not a still image - but at least it's a yawn, on camera. Look how cute he is. Aw.



Fullscreen here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quote of the Week

This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.
C. Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Simpsons' ATCs

It's been a while since I've posted any ATC pictures here, so it's about time. Like it or not. ;-)

I made these for a swap over on Swap-bot - no surprises there - the subject as you see was The Simpsons, but pretty much free theme beyond that. We each had to make two ATCs, and the only requirement was that we had to pick two different characters, not the same one for both ATCs. So, pretty simple. I knew from the start which ones I'd choose ...

... first, of course, my all-time favorite Simpson, Lisa Marie!!

... and second, another favorite of mine, Charles Montgomery Burns.
Excellent ... !! ;-)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My calendar wall, November-December 2010

Check out the sunset through the bit of window that's visible there ... and it was only a quarter past three. This is not my favorite time of year. :-(
November
December

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Trollbyen'

That's the title of a play which is on right now at one of the most important theaters here in Oslo, Oslo Nye Teater. It's based on the eponymous novel by Karsten Alnæs, and stars, among others, Agnes Kittelsen and Adil Khan. It takes place right here in Oslo, but about 100 years in the past. I went to see it tonight with Anne Ida and my mother. It was a very good production ... a good story, good performances, of course a fascinating setting, and not least, extremely impressive scenography. I recommend it. :-)

It was also extra interesting to Anne Ida and me, because a few months ago we visited this theater as part of the annual Culture Night series of events. Trollbyen was in rehearsals then and we got to go backstage and see lots of the different preparations that were going on all over this fascinating building. (Which is in the city center, so you can get there on any subway line. Get off at Parliament and walk downhill in the direction of the Palace. :-) We even got to see some of the actors rehearsing, and - this was maybe my favorite part - the workshop where they make wigs and masks. Now that was impressive. Unbelievable detail.

I of course made a video, which you can see below. All the talking is in Norwegian, alas for those of you who don't understand that, but there's a lot of stuff to see as well. Behind the scenes at an Oslo theater, rich in traditions and history. Enjoy. :-)



Widescreen here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A movie star on the subway

I talked to a movie star today. Or at least as close as we can get to a movie star in Norway ... there aren't really enough jobs available for someone to become a big star in movies alone, they rather make their names as actors, and work in theater, TV, movies, all kinds of things. But again, as close as we can get to a movie star, that's what this guy is.

I was waiting for the subway at Risløkka station this afternoon when he came up to me and asked me what I have to say was a really stupid public transport-related question. He wanted to know, when the board said the next train would be line 5 to Storo, did that mean you couldn't get to the city center on that train? Yes, that was his question. He wanted to know ... did it circle around downtown, or something. What? I said no, when it says Storo it means that it goes through the city center to Storo, when it says Parliament it only goes to Parliament station. So, still to the center of the city, just not through it and further westwards on the other side. Oh, thank you so much.

OK, here's the thing: Every subway train in Oslo goes through the city center. Depending on direction, of course, but if you've got the wrong direction then it will usually just turn around at the final station and go back. And if the realtime board says that in eight minutes there will be a train at your platform for Parliament station, then you can be pretty sure that you've got the right direction. So ... every subway train goes through the city center. Who doesn't know that?? Where did he think he was, London, New York? Seriously, this is Oslo. There really aren't a lot of places for those trains to go. If you're in the Grorud valley, and the train goes to Storo ... where the hell do you think it's going to go? o_O

The annoying thing about this - yes, I'm getting to the annoying thing now! ;-) - is that I don't remember the guy's name. It's been eluding me all day since I talked to him. I know that face so well - every Norwegian reading this knows that face - but I can't bring the name to mind. Someone tell me ... he's a hugely famous actor, he's that guy who is in every Norwegian movie ever made whose name is Bjørn, but is not Bjørn Sundquist and not Bjørn Skagestad.* Someone help, who is he?

While you're thinking, here's another movie star on the subway whose name I have no difficulty bringing to mind.

* I don't mean by this that Bjørn Skagestad is in every Norwegian movie ever made. That's Sundquist and the other guy. :-) But he's also really famous and his name is Bjørn, so I wanted to narrow it down for you. :-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Terror in Sweden

So, the Scandinavian peninsula has seen its first act of terrorism. A young Iraqi - second generation immigrant, the kind of person the Swedish media mendaciously would refer to as a Swede, but who clearly was not Swedish and could never have hoped to be - tried to blow up ... what? A shopping mall? A subway station? We'll never know, because like so many of his brethren in Jihad, he was a stupid incompetent klutz and only blew himself up in the car. Pathetic idiot.

Anyway, this is of course scary and confusing and so on, and people ask themselves why did this happen, how could it have happened? It is perhaps especially confusing that the terrorist was such a person - as I said, a second generation immigrant, and a stellar example of how a number of Muslims can never become 'one of us', no matter how long they live among us. This is the truly frightening thing about this - that although many Muslims are relatively normal people, we can never tell which are the demented nutcases. So, any Muslims reading this: If we - the natives - are skeptical of you as a group, you have to look among yourselves to find the cause.

I personally am pretty sure I know why these things happen - why acts of terrorism, incompetent or not, in the western world are so often carried out by those who do not come from crazy theocracies with no education and abject poverty for the majority, but rather by supposedly normal people who have been born and raised among us and, many theorize, must surely have accepted our values and mores. Those who believe this - the multiculturalists, as they are often referred to - are wrong, as we see. Their beliefs do not match up with observed reality - just look at the background of the London bombers. Muslim terrorists in western Europe do emphatically not come swooping in from strange countries. They are already here. And they do not accept our values and they do not understand and appreciate our cultures ... instead they want to strike out at us and wound us. Why?

In my perspective, the answer to that question can be easily summed up into two words: Cognitive dissonance. Homegrown Muslim terrorism is a coping mechanism for cognitive dissonance. (A fact which only makes these people even more pathetic.) I'll explain.

I don't really accept the term or the concept of 'brainwashing', which is a shame, because if I did, it would be really useful here. A lot of young, supposedly European Muslims - if such a creature can be said to exist - are raised to believe, and come to believe, that Islam is an infinitely superior system. Not only religion, because that, of course, is the most dangerous thing about Islam - that it is not just a religion, but an entire system that determines everything in a society. And Muslim children and youth in Europe are taught that Islam is superior to everything else, that Islam is the best system and the best religion, that Islam makes everything better, that Islamic countries are the best in every way, and so on. This, however, is wrong. Islam isn't best, it isn't superior. In fact, Islam is an inferior system in every possible way. Islam produces nothing of value. Islamic societies are retarded on every level - economically, socially, technologically, culturally, educationally, politically, you name it. Some Islamic countries are rich, yes ... because they randomly happen to have rich natural resources. First among these is of course Saudi Arabia - one of the most worthless shitholes on the entire planet, which has enormous wealth, but wouldn't even have been able to get their oil out of the ground if it hadn't been for western technology and expertise. And has not been able, I might add, to use their wealth to create better living conditions for the Saudi nation as a whole, or to create anything of value to the world whatsoever. This is because Saudi Arabia, the homeland of Islam, has an inferior culture that has produced an inferior society.

This is true all over the Muslim world. Islam is no good. It creates no progress, it generates no knowledge, it builds no valuable societies. It generates only backwardness and strife. All Islamic societies are inferior to any society you'd care to name in western Europe. The proof is in the pudding, as the British say - Muslims flock here to build new lives, to get educations and jobs. You don't see us going there, do you? Nope. We Europeans almost only move to Muslim countries when our expertise is needed there badly enough for it to be paid for through the nose. My country, Norway, is a much better country and society than, to name but two, Pakistan and Somalia. That's a fact. How do I know this for a fact? Because there are lots of Pakistanis and Somalians here, and more keep coming, while migration in the opposite directions is as good as non-existent. So Pakistanis and Somalians agree with me - my country is better than theirs.

Disclaimer: I cannot, of course, actually prove that Islam really is the reason why Muslim societies are so retarded. But since Islam is pretty much the only thing all these countries have in common, and since Islam so obviously acts as a retardant of any kind of progress, I am convinced that it is in fact Islam that is the culprit.

But back to the point. Islam is touted as the best thing since sliced bread, and this is obviously false. Painfully obviously to these selfsame young European Muslims - they see it with their own eyes every day. Western civilization is the pinnacle of human achievement. Jews win Nobel Prizes, not Muslims. Europeans and Americans write great literature, invent technological breakthroughs, make important scientific discoveries, drive the world forward. Muslims don't do any of these things. The Islamic world is the millstone around humanity's proverbial neck. Living in an Islamic country, this may be difficult to realize, or at least very easy to close one's eyes to. But living in Europe or in the US, it is a fact impossible to avoid. It's reality.

This reality - and the clash between that reality and the ridiculous assumption of Islam's natural superiority that many young Muslims are raised with - create a cognitive dissonance that for some is impossible to live with. They cope with it by taking their own lives and taking with them - or at least attempting to take with them - innocent Europeans whose only fault is being true citizens of a great civilization ... and innocent Muslims too, who in any large European city are likely to be present at a terrorist action. Acceptable collateral damage?

I really wish there was some way to detect this cognitive dissonance in people before it becomes too much for them and they snap. I wish there was some way to root out the virus of religion that so blinds people to reality that they can't live with the world the way it actually is. I wish I could express just how loathsome and despicable that god virus really is. And I wish there was an easy fix to these problems.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's a small world

Yes, it is indeed a very small world. Certainly Norway is a very small country, metaphorically speaking.

The following is a true story.

My mother, the retired librarian, is a homework helper - ie she goes someplace, I think it's at the school, one afternoon every week and helps children who need extra academic assistance with their homework assignments and other schoolwork they need help with. This is something people do as volunteers, and the program is available to all school children from first through fourth grade. So, she works there Wednesday afternoons with some other retirees. This happened on Wednesday this week.

Or at least I think it was this week - come to think of it, it may have been last week, and then they talked again this week. But that's totally beside the point anyway. :-)

She overheard a couple of the other helpers talking about a book that one of them had been reading, but was having a hard time getting into ... she was saying that she would probably give up on it, she had started reading another book and couldn't really see herself returning to this first one. It just wasn't worth her time. My mother got involved in the conversation, because by some strange coincidence, my father is apparently now reading this very same book, and like this woman he is not enjoying it and has been talking about giving up on it and starting something else. Or at least he had been - this was four days ago, or maybe eleven days, so he's probably thrown in the towel by now. :-) Anyway.

The woman with the book said that she would probably give up on it, but it wouldn't be a total loss, because she could give it to her daughter so it could be used for BookCrossing. My mother was a little surprised to hear this, and she said Oh, is your daughter a BookCrosser too? So's mine! So they started talking about that, and how it was such a coincidence. The other woman said that she would have to tell S. - ie her daughter - about this. My mother said Your daughter's name is S. - that's an incredible coincidence - my daughter Leisha has a friend who's a BookCrosser, and her name is S.!* Of course the other woman says that at her daughter's birthday party just a few weeks ago, she talked to a young woman called Leisha who was a BookCrosser - and my mother says that this really is pretty incredible, but her daughter did go to her friend's birthday party a few weeks ago. Was it at restaurant such and such in Vika?

Of course it was - so my mother has been a homework helper for months and months now alongside this woman who now turns out to be my friend Travelina's mother! And I spent like half an hour talking to someone who volunteers with my mother, but neither one of us had any idea about the connection. I love it when stuff like this happens. :-D

It's a very small world. :-)

*Obviously I have a number of friends who are BookCrossers, but only one with this particular rather old-fashioned and unusual name. :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

'I'm so happy to be here'

So sayeth the great Denzel Washington. He's happy to be here in Oslo. So's Anne Hathaway, presumably. They told some Norwegian reporters they were, at least. Incredibly irrelevant information, since they would say they were happy about it no matter what they were feeling. It's like asking an athlete who just won an Olympic medal Are you happy about winning? Who the fuck cares what the guy says, we already know the answer! On a day like today, this is what our media is reduced to. Argh.

Anyway ... that's a minor annoyance, my major beef here is that I don't understand what these people are even doing here. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Denzel Washington or Anne Hathaway as such. (I especially have nothing against Denzel Washington. Mmm ... Denzel Washington ...) I just don't understand what they're doing here, now? They are going to be the hosts of the Nobel Concert tomorrow. Why? WTF do they have to do with anything? With Alfred Nobel, with the Peace Prize, with Norway, with Oslo, with the laureate, with ANYTHING related to any of this? The answer is nothing. So what are they doing here? It's so weird. It's just a practice that I don't understand on almost any level. They are celebrities. That's why they're here. They have no other qualification or relevance whatsoever. If I was one of them I would be embarrassed to be here. Almost as much as their president was last year. >:-)

But of course they are major Hollywood celebrities and as such can be expected to live in a bubble of adulation and undeserved respect through which reality can penetrate only with difficulty.

I just think it's completely stupid and rather disgusting to bring in these totally irrelevant celebrities to present this thing, as if they have something to do with it. Same thing with the performers at the concert. Barry Manilow? Herbie Hancock? Robyn? I'm sure it ups ratings. But it's still stupid and pathetic, it makes the concert irrelevant to the Prize, and it means a series of wasted opportunities. The Prize is Norwegian, awarded by Norwegians. Why isn't it presented by Norwegians, just because they wouldn't be as famous as Tom Cruise or Oprah Winfrey? This year the winner is Chinese - so why not have the concert be a presentation of Chinese music and dance? Last year the winner was American, they could have had Manilow and Hancock then. Why create this mishmash of performers from various irrelevant places and ignore the potential connection they could have created to the winner's home and history?

Sorry, I just had to say it. This has been annoying me for years, it had to come out sometime. :-) Of course this post ought to be about this year's winner, Liu Xiaobo ... who cannot say that he is happy to be here, since he is not here, but in a prison in China that at least Norwegian reporters are forbidden from even photographing. Of course this isn't the first time the winner has been prevented from coming to Oslo to accept the Prize. Perhaps most memorably, Aung San Suu Kyi was not able to leave Burma 19 years ago ... but her two teenage sons came to Oslo and accepted the Prize on their mother's behalf. It was actually quite moving. However, this year there is no one here who can represent the winner. No one has been allowed to come. I find this very interesting.

Liu Xiaobo's problems stem from his speaking out against the Chinese regime, which in his opinion is oppressive and dictatorial. His government call him a liar for it and imprison him. Now we award him the Peace Prize, and they are enraged ... again saying that he is a liar and a criminal. So of course he is not permitted to travel here for the ceremony, and neither is anyone else whom we could have accepted as his representative ... his wife, a relative, a close colleague, someone. In doing so they are following - let's call it an interesting tradition. This is only the second time this has happened in the Prize's more than century-long history. The only other Nobel laureate who has ever been denied the right to send a representative to Oslo is Carl von Ossietzky, who was likewise imprisoned by the regime under which he lived, the Third Reich.

Way to associate yourselves with all the right people, Beijing.

Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo, and fingers crossed for his future and for the future of the Chinese people.

I was going to write about the Data Retention Directive today too, but now I'm just too sleepy and the little guys need to eat. It'll have to keep till tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Imagine no religion

30 years ago today.



I wonder what kind of clothes he would have worn if he had been alive now? :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I made her day!!

I love Postcrossing ... !! :-)

Here is a great example of why. I got this address on Wednesday last week ... Sarah lives in Massachusetts and IMO has a really good profile. She makes it easy to pick a card for her, and she makes it fun to do so, too. I always try my best to pick a card the recipient will love - that's a big part of the fun of it for me - but sometimes it really isn't easy. If you're on Postcrossing, please make sure your profile is filled out and gives a good impression of you and your interests! It makes it SO much easier to find the perfect postcard for you! :-)

Anyway ... I thought of probably about a dozen cards that I could send to Sarah. :-) But looking at her favorites wall, I found this card ... and then I just immediately knew which one to pick. This one:
Johnny Depp photographed in 1990 by Herb Ritts. It took me forever to find it (I have soo many postcards now ... don't start ...) but I knew I had it somewhere and I did finally find it. It arrived today - she just registered it half an hour ago, and she immediately added it to her favorites. In the email I got letting me know that it had arrived, she says she loves it and I made her day. Now that is why Postcrossing is so awesome!! Sarah, if you read this, you made my day with your message. :-)

The card's already been favorited three times in just this short while. Whee! :-D

Monday, December 6, 2010

Keanuquote

I used to have nightmares that they would put 'He played Ted'
on my tombstone.

Keanu Reeves

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mona Achache: Le hérisson

I was supposed to go to the Christmas market at the Folk Museum yesterday, but I didn't - it was just too cold, 15 below, I just couldn't force myself out in it knowing that I would be spending hours outside in that temperature. Brr. Anne Ida agreed, so we decided it'd be better to do something indoors instead and went to the movies. :-)

Good choice, because instead of freezing our noses off at the Museum, we got to see an absolutely wonderful movie. One that was even better than I'd hoped. :-) I've read the book this movie is based on - you can see my video review of it here; it's in Norwegian, I'm afraid - and I absolutely love it. So of course the movie was a potential disappointment ... especially as it's a very literary and cerebral novel, and it's a little hard to picture how it could make the transition to the screen with much ease. But it has!! Very impressively, Achache is a debuting director, and she also wrote the screenplay, based on the wonderful novel by Muriel Barbery. To be honest I can hardly believe that she hasn't made anything but two short films before this.

What I had read about the movie previously had made me think that it was only based on the book and would be likely to stray rather far from it. But that's not the case at all. We were both very pleasantly surprised (Anne Ida has read the book too and she loves it as well :-) by how faithful to the original story the movie is. The main alteration is that while one of the main characters in the novel keeps a diary, in the movie she is obsessed with filming everything around her. An obvious and necessary change. In other respects they have managed to preserve so much of the novel, I was very impressed. The tone, the wonderful characters, the fascinating microcosm of the setting, the humor ... pretty much everything. I loved it. :-)

In fact they have almost stayed too true to the book, because I had a small hope that they had changed the almost unbearably sad ending ... but no.

A low-key, slow-paced movie with fantastic characters SO beautifully portrayed. Hardly any action but still packed with impressions. One of the best movies I've seen all year. :-)

The book is available in English under the title The Elegance of the Hedgehog; in Norwegian it's called Pinnsvinets eleganse.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My new hero

An annoying article, or whatever I should call it, in Dagbladet ... on the occasion of the happy fact that the lineup for the 2011 Melodi Grand Prix is now complete. MGP is the national Eurovision selection contest here in Norway. This journalist has seized the opportunity to slam the contest, of course. Sad ... but also fantastic, because one of the comments on the article is so great. My translation of an abridged version:

'MGP returns as Norwegian pop music's most bizarre recycling station.' And Dagbladet returns as uncritical butcher*. We have to accept reality. The Norwegian music industry is minute, we're hardly producing any major artists in this country. The Norwegian charts reflect throughout the entire year the fact that it is foreign performers who dominate the music market in Norway. The period when MGP takes place is among the few times during the year when Norwegian artists and songwriters do well in the charts.
MGP is a unique opportunity for performers to show themselves off - if only they have good enough songs. Or yes - I can think of one reason why someone would be afraid to sign up: Because media outlets like Dagbladet will tear both them and the song to shreds because it is an MGP entry. They would be called out of date and past their prime. In the same way that Dagbladet contributes to torpedoing the careers of aspiring performers by calling it a job centre effort and a recycling station.
How about letting the songs and the public response determine whether MGP is viable?

Kristian Nicolai Stakset-Gundersen, your name may be over the top, but you rock. :-)

*In Norwegian we use the term butchery for any severe criticism of anything, music, movies, political decisions, anything. I know, tasteful, isn't it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A great musician

What is a great musician? One of my favorites of the breed, the extremely unique Ingrid Bjørnov, has a wonderful definition of this. In her opinion, a great musician is a person who knows how to play the accordion, but who refrains from doing so.

I'm not sure I agree with her, because according to this definition she herself is not a great musician. ;-)

Another instrument that gets a bad rep is the banjo. Deliverance really didn't do those things any favors. But sometimes they pop up and do a pretty good turn. The reason I bring this up is that I went to see Øystein Sunde's show at Dizzie tonight with my parents. Now there's ... if not a great musician, then certainly a great performer. :-) He had a banjo in his show, but he didn't play it himself. ;-) It was a really good show, very funny, I laughed till my face hurt. The only thing was that it looked like he wasn't going to play Kjekt å ha, which would have sucked, cause I love that song. But of course he did play it, as the last encore. :-)

Anyway. It was a good show, I'm glad I got the chance to see it. There were some interesting experiences. I'm not very adventuresome musically, so this may be just me, but it's the first time I've heard Beethoven's fifth symphony played on banjo.

In closing, the reason why we went to see the show: Happy birthday to my father!! :-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I want one ... !!

Emys orbicularis, the European pond turtle. Cuteness!! I want one ... !



From this year's trip to the Nordic Ark, obviously. :-) Widescreen here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Books I've read in 2010 - November

Norsk er et lite språk som er i ferd med å dø ut by Fløgstad/Vaa
L by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
Den sorte tulipan by Alexandre Dumas – AUDIO
Människohamn by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche (Penguin 60)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – AUDIO
Kurt blir grusom by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Song for Eirabu: Slaget på Vigrid by Kristine Tofte
Kvinnen i buret by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Fuglemannen by Mo Hayder – AUDIO
Mord av klasse by John le Carré – AUDIO
Fisken by Erlend Loe – AUDIO
Sitt ned og hold kjeft by Knut Nærum – AUDIO
Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah
Det du inte ser by Mari Jungstedt
Det gylne kompasset by Philip Pullman – AUDIO
The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club by Kim Newman
The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

10 printed books, 2,998 pages
9 audiobooks, 62h 32m

Monday, November 29, 2010

Keanuquote

I try not to think about my life. I have no life. I need therapy.
Keanu Reeves

V. short post today ...we recorded two episodes of the podcast back to back tonight, so that took a while. They'll both be up pretty soon, so keep an eye on the website. We're up to about 500 downloads per episode and we are seriously impressed with ourselves. :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some mountain flowers

Unbelievably shitty weather today ... cold and snow and wind. Brr and yuck. Got to make up for it with some pretty summer flowers.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quote of the Week

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
Noam Chomsky

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mmm, spicy chicken

Here's a first - a blog post about my cooking ... !! I don't know what's gotten into me. But there's no shame in trying something new. Here's the thing: I'm going to send a postcard to a very new Postcrosser - Ruifen from Singapore - and she wants those who send to her to include a recipe for her. Sheesh, I can't fit a recipe onto a postcard! I'm sorry, that's just beyond my abilities. But what I can do is post a recipe here on the blog and put the url on the postcard. So here's a very simple recipe for a delicious chicken dinner, and if Ruifen sees this I hope she will be happy with my solution. :-)

This is extremely simple to make and very quick too, and it's totally yummy. So try it. :-) All you need is the following (this makes one portion):
One chicken filet
Couscous (about 90 grams)
Harissa
Olive oil
Butter
Salt
Various spices

You need to start a few hours before you actually plan to eat, because the first thing you need to do is to chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and marinate them in olive oil. Add the spices to the oil ... figure out your own mix, something hot and spicy. Various chilies, various peppers, paprika, whatever you like.

When the chicken pieces have had some time to soak up the goodness, fry them in the oil you used for marinade. Cook a portion of couscous ... this is extremely easy, in case you haven't done it before. One portion of couscous might be something like 80-90 grams of dry couscous and one deciliter of water. Put the water in a pot and add a little salt and a little oil. Bring the water to a boil, take the pot off the stove and pour in the couscous. Leave it for 3-4 minutes till all the water is soaked up. Then stir it with a fork or something and stir in a bit of butter. (Ideally not butter straight from the fridge; if it's soft it blends with the couscous more easily. Obviously. :-) Once that's done you add the harissa, to taste. Make sure you know exactly how hot the harissa is - the brand I use is Sekem (fair trade from Egypt) and it is really hot, so I need only like one teaspoonful per portion, if that. More than that and it gets to be too much and just kills the flavor.

Put the couscous into a bowl and add the by now deliciously fried chicken pieces on top. (I suppose you can sprinkle something green onto it for added color and texture and healthiness ... I don't know, I don't do that kind of thing, I'm not a rabbit. ;-) Enjoy!! Flavorful and yummy and soo easy to make. :-)

The postcard I'm sending is really cool, it's pink and has a cupcake on it, since Ruifen loves to bake. Lookee:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What's in a name

A quote from this article: Blant de rike skulle det forundre meg mye om ikke navn som Preben og Henrik fortsatt holder stand. Henrik er det mest stabile overklassenavnet, sier Tangen.

The article is about names, naming trends and how names are markers of social background. This Tangen fellow is a teacher at the Oslo School of Management, he teaches human geography. What he said in English, my translation: Among the wealthy, I would be very surprised if names like Preben and Henrik don't continue on strong. Henrik is the most stable upper class name.

Aww ... !! Upper class. I don't know much about upper class people, but apparently upper class turtles like to bite people's fingers. :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Goodbye to Gelius, kudos to Kvarme

No, I'm not really that interested in this very public termination process, but that headline was just too good not to use. ;-)

So, Einar Gelius supposedly resigned today. Yeah, well, sometimes that's how it goes down - you get the choice between quitting on your own or being fired. I would soo not be surprised if that's what's happened here. In any case, they were both on the Daily Review tonight and I have to say, kudos to bishop Kvarme. I am not a fan of his - far from it - but that is mostly because of the ideology he represents, not because of him as a person. I know very little of him as a person. I oppose what he stands for, but that's all. However, I did think he came off much better than Gelius on the news tonight. Gelius seemed to be falling apart a bit ... and his arguments were just BS IMO. All he wanted was to make the Church a more open and accepting place, blah blah. Sheesh.

First of all, as I've said, there's nothing to be argued here, it's an open and shut case. When you're hired, you sign a contract; live up to the contract or you're out. Unlike what he seems to think, it's the employer who determines whether the employee fulfils the demands of the job. That's part of what you agree to when you accept a job ... even if you are a wizard.

But more than that, and this is something that a lot of people ought to think about ... Gelius, his various supporters, Kvarme's detractors. Everyone who's got the idea that the Church needs more people like the former and that the latter is a relic from the dark ages who needs to realize that we're living in 2010, man. Here's the thing. You may not like what Kvarme stands for - I know I sure don't - and you may feel that Gelius' warm and fuzzy Buddy Christ take on things is more appealing to you. But please realize that there are limits - and rather specific and narrow limits too - to what you can actually do with Christianity to make it appealing in a modern secularized society where people can read and have electricity and healthcare.

You can't use Christianity to make people feel good about themselves, because it's been specifically developed over the course of two thousand years to make people feel bad. That's the whole point of it. You can't make it make sense, because it doesn't. You can't make it sound good, because it's oppressive and cruel and hateful. Genocide and human sacrifice just aren't good and nice things, there's just no changing that. It is what it is, as Ivana Trump might say. If you change these things, it'll no longer be Christianity. IMO of course that'd be a good thing, but who's asking me. Sheesh.

I'm sure poor Gelius will be missed by a great many idiots, but for my money it's good riddance to bad rubbish. Here's hoping he won't be clogging up the media even more now that he's freed from the burden of making a weekly sermon or performing baptisms and marriages ... unless of course there's an important game happening, in which case you should have picked some other day to get married.

In other news, have you ever heard someone say that a person ought to be protected from themselves? In Norwegian that's kind of a set expression. You ever hear that? Ever wonder what it means? This.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shameless self-promotion

How exciting - the revelation, at long last, of a well kept secret. OK, maybe not so well kept, but at least not promoted. :-) Until now!! This will mostly be of interest to my Norwegian-speaking readers, I'm sorry to say ... that's part of the point. The skeptics among you may be familiar with various podcasts of interest available around the interwebs ... The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is probably the most famous. There are lots of them around - Google is your friend. :-) There's one in Sweden that started up ... early this year, I think? Anyway, it's called Skeptikerpodden, you should check it out - if you understand Swedish, of course.

Now, all of these internet radio broadcast thingummys have one thing in common ... they're foreign. Furrin! Millennium hand and shrimp. That's all well and good, but I'm sorry to say that there are a lot of empty-headed peabrains wandering the streets here in Norway too, and a lot of arrant nonsense floating about. Which of course none of these podcasts from abroad, great as many of them are, ever discuss. So there's a lot of dumbassery that is never discussed on internet radio. It's a sad state of affairs. But! Fear no more, for now this has all come to an end ... !!

Yes, there is now a Norwegian skeptical podcast, and I am lucky enough to be a part of it. We've recorded a pilot (basically a short introductory kind of thing) and two episodes, they are all online, and now we're finally feeling confident enough to publicize it. I am slow ... as usual ... Gunnar beat me to it, for one, and even Fri Tanke. How cool is that, we're getting media attention. ;-) We even have a few comments on our website already. The pilot's been listened to 115 times, if I'm reading it correctly. So yay, we have potential listeners! :-) Of course this will all be in Norwegian, except for those occasions when we have interviews with furriners ... yes, this will happen, just watch. Or listen, rather. We have plans.

The name of the podcast is Saltklypa - from the latin cum grano salis, 'with a grain of salt'. In Norwegian this expression runs 'med en klype salt', ie 'with a pinch of salt'. Our website is here ... it's still a work in progress, but it works. :-) You can follow us on Twitter here, and there's supposed to be something set up on Facebook soon. I don't know, I don't have no truck with that. It'll be linked to on the site. We've all got blogs and what not and the links for those are all on the site. I'm Leisha Camden over there too ... it's the name I'm used to using online, and I don't want to be known under my real name in connection with the podcast - I plan to talk about the reptile law in a future episode, for one thing. :-) So those of you who have that information, please don't out me. :-)

We plan to make new episodes every other week. Bear with us, we're just starting out, it takes a little tinkering. But I think this could turn out pretty good. :-) Feedback is of course welcome and we'd be thrilled to get tips from our listeners, when we get some. You can contact us on Skype or Twitter or through comments on the website. Oh yeah, and we'll be on iTunes very soon. Any unanswered questions, you should know where to go by now. :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Movie star exploited by conspiracy nuts

True story: Today at work my little colleague, S., opened an article at Nettavisen about the Illuminati. I'm a little anxious about him and this kind of thing because he is a little naive and he has a friend who really is a conspiracy nut, and I don't want him to be influenced by any crazy ideas, because he's a really good guy. So as he glanced through the article I did the same over his shoulder, just to keep an eye on things. :-)

Now, if you look at the article, you'll see a couple of highly recognizable names that pop up. Dan Brown, for one ... so you know it'll be about something BS-y right there. ;-) But don't get me wrong, it's a good article ... in the sense that it makes it clear that this is BS. But anyway. Another name that's mentioned is that of world renowned wacko David Icke. Of course I jumped at the chance to explain to S. that ANYTHING in which Icke is even remotely involved is guaranteed to be complete and utter bullcrap. I did a quick google search to find a few obvious things to back this up. And lookee what I found:

LOL! Guess where I found it? Nyhetsspeilet! For the non-Norwegians among us: Nyhetsspeilet - 'the news mirror' - is a Norwegian website maintained and frequented by conspiracy nuts and other crazies and weirdos. They have no critical standards and will publish anything so long as it fits with their madcap world view. Even, on one memorable occasion, a story that was obviously false and specifically designed to see if they would do even the most basic fact-checking or whether they would just buy it at first glance just cause it sounded like what they wanted to hear. Guess which happened. :-D Anyway ... this is an illustration they've come up with to go with a story on Icke and his fascinating theories about a reptilian superspecies that secretly dominates the world. (I'm not linking to it for obvious reasons, but it's very easy to find.) I'm sure they came up with this because Icke wrote a book some years ago called Children of the Matrix. Published in 2001, but I'm sure the title is just a coincidence. And the front cover too. Weird how that happens sometimes.

Anyway, I thought this was kind of funny. If you just keep your eyes peeled, Keanu's everywhere. I just read Knut Nærum's latest book today - Sit Down and Shut Up - and he's even mentioned in that. Kind of funny. :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nordens Ark 2010

I'm finally getting around to uploading my videos from this year's visit to the Nordic Ark. It's only been three months, I think that's pretty good. ;-) This is the first one, it's basically everything that didn't fit in the other ten. :-D Various scenery and various animals. Check out the leopard ... I still haven't been able to figure out what s/he's chewing on. Any thoughts? I have pictures too ...


Widescreen here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Something for everyone

A sign at the top of the stairs at the Museum of Geology. Nice. Now you know where to go for all your crystal, meteorite, fossil and dinosaur needs. :-D

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quote of the Week

We have faith in the power to change what needs to be changed but we are under no illusion that the transition from dictatorship to liberal democracy will be easy, or that democratic government will mean the end of all our problems. We know that our greatest challenges lie ahead of us and that our struggle to establish a stable, democratic society will continue beyond our own life span.
But we know that we are not alone. The cause of liberty and justice finds sympathetic responses around the world. Thinking and feeling people everywhere, regardless of color or creed, understand the deeply rooted human need for a meaningful existence that goes beyond the mere gratification of material desires. Those fortunate enough to live in societies where they are entitled to full political rights can reach out to help their less fortunate brethren in other areas of our troubled planet.

Aung San Suu Kyi

What a fantastic human being she is. I am SO happy that she is out of her house arrest and that she can be among her people again. Fingers crossed that her sons will soon be allowed to travel to Rangoon to see her. She was interviewed on the Daily Review tonight (follow the link and scroll down to find the interview; it's of course in English) and she was just so wonderful. I can hardly believe how calm and contented she seems even after everything that's been done to her. If it was me I'm pretty sure I would have been totally bitter and bitchy. She's amazing. :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Norway's dumbest publisher?

I don't know if it comes as any surprise that this title may well go to Arve Juritzen of Juritzen Forlag. I don't know the man, never will, but anyone who can say what he is quoted as saying in today's Dagbladet (p.16) probably has a brain that isn't functioning properly. It's an article about Einar Gelius and how various celebs think he shouldn't be fired. Gag me with a spoon. First of all, this whole concept is so completely stupid - I really despise this approach in 'reporting'. There's a news item presented and then there's a sidebar with the heading This is what the celebrities think (actually a literal translation). They know the guy, but how the fuck does that make them qualified to have any opinion worth hearing on this?

The situation itself isn't the point of this post, but just so it's said, this is really very simple. The Church of Norway is an employer like any other - the fact that it employs wizards and pays them in tax money doesn't change this. As such it has the right to determine what it expects of its employees, and if there are employees who cannot or will not conform to these expectations, their employment may be terminated. How on earth can this be difficult to understand?

Well, it's too complicated for Juritzen, clearly. He says, and I quote, the following (my translation): That a differentiated view of the bible in 2010 can lead to a vicar losing his job and being kicked out of the church must mean that we no longer have religious freedom in Norway.

WTF?

So, if I wasn't so lazy, this is what I ought to do. I ought to write a book on ... some interesting topic, let's see ... eugenics. I'd write about how some people are good, valuable citizens and others are not, and it's a damn shame that these days the latter group is breeding so much more than the former. That's a very bad thing for our society, so we ought to change this - we shouldn't be letting these useless people reproduce themselves and their problems like that. Of course I'm not a racist, so this won't be based on race or anything obvious like that. Naturally! I'd come up with some really scientific procedures to sift out the unworthies. Personality tests and so on. But we really need to weed out the trash and improve our society without their trashy genes. I ought to write that book ... and then I ought to take it to Juritzen and ask him to publish it. Which of course he wouldn't do.

According to his logic, that would then mean that we no longer have freedom of speech in Norway. o_O

Of course I'm not going to actually write such a book ... that'd be crazy, and like I said I am a really lazy person. It'd be a lot of boring monkey work just to make a point. Naturally I'm not going to actually do that. And just as naturally, Juritzen's logic is completely flawed. Of course we have freedom of speech in Norway. But the crucial point to understand - often missed by angry bloggers and commenters in online debates - is that my right to express myself freely does not equal Juritzen's or anyone else's duty to publish. I am completely free to say what I choose, but no one is bound to give me a forum to vent my crazy ideas and no one is obligated to listen to my rantings. We absolutely do have freedom of religion in Norway - too much of it, if you ask me - but what far too many fail to understand is that this is a rather limited freedom. You are free to believe what you want without being persecuted for your beliefs. That's it. That's all there is to freedom of religion. You are not free to do what you want just as long as you call it religion ... and you are not free to be excepted from reactions and/or punishment for what you do just because you claim that you think your god told you to do it. And what's most important in this context, you are free to be a Christian in any way you want, but the Church of Norway is not obligated to pay you a salary for it if they don't agree with your views.

Gelius has no doubt signed an employment contract. If he doesn't hold up his end of that contract, he's out. It really is just that simple. Just because the Church doesn't want to pay Gelius for the privilege of using their clout and influence to espouse his ridiculous views, that doesn't mean that anyone is restricting his freedom of religion. To think so is quite simply utterly stupid and shows an ignorance of basic concepts that from someone in Juritzen's position is actually rather worrying. You wouldn't catch William Nygaard saying anything like this.

And for those who think that the Church pushing Gelius out into the cold is rather cruel and hateful, well, wake up and smell the coffee. The Christian ideology is cruel and hateful. Don't pretend like you're surprised.

>:-(

On an unrelated note, here is something else I despise in the media. Quote: Swedish 62-year-old admits to killing daughter. ... blah blah, knife, honor killing, blah blah ... the family came to Sweden from Iraq six or seven years ago. FUCK THAT SHIT. This is newspeak, it's disgusting. That guy is not Swedish and he never will be. Although, judging from the article, there may be hope for the son.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dyrenes hus

You may not know this about her, but my best friend, Tanumine (formerly known here as C. :-) is a major cat lover. Show her almost anything kitty-related and she will love it. :-) She is also a rather soft-hearted and extremely kind person, so it should come as no surprise that she is a supporter of an SPCA ... more or less local to where she lives now. They cover the area - if I understand it correctly? - but their headquarters is in Bærum, the municipality where both Tanumine and I am from. Unfortunately it's a bit far for her to volunteer her time there, but she donates money and is part of their program where you 'adopt' an animal without taking it into your home, ie pay for food and other expenses so that it can stay safely at the shelter until a new home can be found for it.

No, she doesn't have a cat herself ... alas ... her fiancé isn't entirely sold on the idea. Not yet, at least. ;-)

Anyway ... this organization has a shelter in Bærum, tucked away in the woods out there, where they have usually between 20 and 30 cats at any given time, plus some rabbits and other small animals. Discarded pets, usually. >:-( It's a no-kill shelter so they find homes for anyone that they can nurse back to health. The few that they can't find homes for get to stay there permanently, it seems. Once a year they have an open day at this place so that donors and potential volunteers can come and take a look. They sell various things to raise money as well. This year this event was on August 22nd and Tanumine took me there with her - I didn't even know it was going on, so kudos for that. :-) It was great to see the place and of course I caught it all on film. :-) Adorable critters are irresistible to my camera. :-)

I had to make two videos out of it because I had a little too much footage for just one and I couldn't decide on anything to cut. :-)

Part one ...

Widescreen here.

Part two ...

Widescreen here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A thing or two

I've been meaning to write a post about the fur trade here in Norway again, following the revelations of recent weeks ... and I will, too, just not today. :-) A little too tired today. But I still have to mention it. I was on the 37 bus going downtown this afternoon, I had to go to the library, and I saw a woman there in this huge fur coat. I mean, seriously huge ... sleeves down to here and a collar that her hair got lost in. I only saw her from behind but her hair was graying so she can't have been a young 'un. Which is as expected ... I rather think that young Norwegian women today would prefer to not be seen in a garment like that.

What I wanted to say was that I really don't get the fur thing. I mean, fur farming is a wretched business, absolutely, but even if it wasn't for that, if I knew nothing of that, I still wouldn't get it. OK, sure, it's cold, and fur is warm ... but so is wool, and wool looks so much better. It's the look of the fur wearers that I can't get my head around. I don't know how they look in the mirror and figure that yeah, this looks good. I mean ... it doesn't look good. It just doesn't. Each and every woman who wears fur, whenever and wherever she wears it, looks like a Russian prostitute. (Mom, if you read this, I'm sorry, but it's just the truth. And when you're dead I will burn that fur coat that you were so happy about when dad bought it for you. Sorry.) I just do not get it.

Og før noen begynner å snakke om Janteloven :-D - dét er virkelig bare piss. Noe som forøvrig ble formulert fantastisk bra av brukeren 'Clit Fistwood' (lol!) på Dagbla' på nett i dag. Artikkelen handler om bloggen til Aylar Lie. Helt sant. Les her:

Jeg blir mental forkvaklet og fysisk kvalm av kjendishysteri, og alt det andre rælet som f.eks Aylar representerer. Hva har det egentlig med jantelov å gjøre? Janteloven lyder; "Du skal ikke tro at du er noe/bedre enn andre". Men skal ALLE gå rundt og tro at alt de gjør er så jævlig bra da? Hva hvis det ikke er bra? Det blir litt som at morra til diverse idol-deltakere sannsynligvis har fortalt barnet hele livet at det er kjeeempeflinkt til å synge! Ååå så flink. Vennene tør kanskje ikke si noe annet. Vedkommende går da rundt i troen om at hun/han er flink. Realiteten er kanskje at vedkommende suger. Men selvtiltten og eksponeringsbehovet er på topp! Hvis man da forteller vedkommende, basert på bedre viten, at hun/han har null talent. Er det da jantelov, eller er det fakta?
Slutt og grin om janteloven hver gang ikke alle tisser på seg av glede når en eller annen C-kjendis har fått nye kjønnslepper.


Hahaha, så latterlig bra ... ! :-D

Monday, November 15, 2010

More 'Generation Um'

First stills from Generation Um are out. I am still totally not getting the plot of this thing. o_O These aren't helping.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My favorite insult

Again for those who have been following the comments on this week's blog posts: my friend Calyx has been making some great points about insults being both valuable and entertaining. I absolutely agree with her ... I would also add that insults are sometimes necessary. This is to do with respect, a concept that IMO is often misunderstood. Respect is a two-way street - it has to be earned, it can't be demanded. Respect is also something that is only due to ... let's call it real entities. I as a person, an individual, may be worthy of respect, on the strength of my being an independent sentient creature, a human being and allegedly endowed with certain inalienable rights. My thoughts, however, have no automatic claim on anyone's respect. Any ideology that I follow, any religion, if I had one, any political convictions ... these are not entitled to any respect. They are, and must be, subject to any kind of criticism - including insults - arguments and ridicule.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is our duty as responsible citizens to do just that - insult and ridicule ideologies and beliefs that we find reprehensible and potentially damaging to our community and/or society. Criticism is necessary, absolutely necessary ... and it is very often at its most effective when it takes the form of ridicule. Making something ridiculous is a great way of making it less threatening and frightening. This will of course often be offensive to those who place their faith in that which is being ridiculed ... whether they are Muslims, Tea Partyers (Partiers?), James Blunt fans, Progress Party voters, or anything else ... atheists, BookCrossers, historians or Labor voters (I added those last four for objectivity's sake, could you tell?) ... persons in the relevant group may choose to feel offended, but that doesn't matter. Hurt feelings are not valid arguments.

Of course by saying this I do not mean that ridicule and insult is the only form of argument we should be interested in and that anyone should just shut up and take it. Of course I don't mean that. (Straw men need not apply.) But it does every debate a great disservice to remove these verbal weapons from the debaters' arsenal. And of course the same applies to ridicule as to any other form of argument - you can say what you want, but you may be asked to back it up. You may have to take ridicule in return. That's the way it works. But if someone makes fun of your beliefs - religious, political or otherwise - then claiming hurt feelings is not an argument.

It is also very important to remember that if someone makes fun of your beliefs, that doesn't automatically mean that they're making fun of you. This is something that a lot of theists, especially Muslims, really struggle to comprehend. To the point that it's actually very tiresome. So Calyx, I don't see that what Elizabeth Moon wrote on her livejournal can be called racist. But that's another blog post. :-)

Because this post is called My favorite insult, and that was indeed what I intended it to be about. The best insult I ever heard. It's a true story. I wish I could have been there.

This happened years and years ago, back when someone who made their living with basically nothing but talk could be relied on to actually have a superior command of the language. It happened in Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament. I wish I could remember who the guy was who said it. I love him. :-)

I also don't remember what the debate was about, but it was a heated issue and a lot of emotionally charged arguments were flying back and forth. Finally, one of the MPs got sick of this, asked to be allowed to speak, went up onto the speaker's podium and said that after listening to this debate, he was forced to conclude the following: that half my colleagues in this hall are idiots. Having said this, he went calmly back to his seat.

This of course caused a huge uproar and the debate was totally sidetracked. People were furious with our man and demanded an apology. He showed no signs of planning any such thing ... but many of the others were really very angry and finally the President of Parliament* had to speak up to put a stop to the hullabaloo. He said that this behavior is not acceptable here and you will have to apologize. Alright, fine. Our man went back up onto the podium and said - and this is just too brilliant - I apologize for the offense I've caused, I take it back; half my colleagues in this hall are not idiots.

Then he went back to his seat and refused to get up again for love or money. :-D Gotta love it.

*A mostly ceremonial position; the President has extremely high rank but little actual power. Our head of state is the monarch and our leader of government is the prime minister. Being President of Parliament is an honor bestowed upon senior MPs which is supposed to mostly remove them from politics. :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quote of the Week

Most people are unable to write because they are unable to think, and they are unable to think because they congenitally lack the equipment to do so, just as they congenitally lack the equipment to fly over the moon.
H.L. Mencken

In more uplifting news: moo.com are having a sitewide sale on all their printed products - 30% off through tomorrow ... !! :-o Don't miss it, they've got lots of great stuff. :-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Postcard of the year?

Seriously, this postcard has got to be one of the most fantastic pieces of mail I've ever received. In my life. Postcrosser Willemijn (#1 in the Netherlands! woot!) sent it to me, I got it this afternoon. I LOVE it!! She says that it was the closest she could manage to a reptile. :-D

I could not have loved it more if it had been a real crocodile biting a real boy.

Anyone out there who's really good at knitting ... ?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Turtle confusion

There was a blackout here tonight - at about a quarter to seven everything just went black. I thought it was one of my fuses that had blown out, but when I went out into the hall it was all dark. The whole neighborhood. :-o That is pretty rare ... it hasn't happened as far as I'm aware in all the time I've lived here, and that's going on five years. I was pretty worried ... it is really cold out now and with no heating, how cold would it get inside? Too cold for the little guys, I think ... so I was worried about that, but there wasn't really anything I could do except wait. So I lit some candles and curled up with a good book.

By the time this happened - the blackout, I mean - it was already dark outside, so of course it got totally dark here in the living room immediately. This was rather confusing for the little fellows. Usually when the light goes out in their tank, it's the basking light first and then the main lights a few hours later ... and when the latter goes dark there's usually some lamps lit elsewhere in the room, so it doesn't go completely dark right away. But that's what happened now. Henrik stood on the bark island and stretched his neck out in this really funny way, trying to look around maybe ... I shone a flashlight in the tank and they came over to beg. Then of course after a little while they went to sleep. That's what you do when it goes dark, obviously. I couldn't blame them.

But then after about one and a half hour the lights came back in the hall, and I fiddled around with the fuse box and got my own lights working again too. Some of the lamps had been on in the living room when the power died, so when I went back in, of course there was light there. And Henrik and Herman were so confused ... !! LOL!! They were lying side by side on the bark island and had obviously just woken up, and they were looking around themselves like ... wut?? :-D Night just started, and now it's day again? Whut? I went to pet them and they threw themselves in the water, they were really out of it. :-D Wish I had filmed it, it was really funny.

Raphael was confused too; he had more light since the streetlamps outside shine in through the window in that room. But still it seemed to be rather strange that his basking lamp switched off, then on, then off again, then on ... I had to reset the timers on all their lights, because obviously the blackout threw off the setting on those. So this was a strange night for my four-legged friends. :-D

Alas, this is not a recent photo. :-(