Monday, January 31, 2011

Books I've read in 2011 - January

Mysteriet Ingeborg Køber by Ivo de Figueiredo
Saturday by Ian McEwan – AUDIO
Musketerene tyve år etter, volume three by Alexandre Dumas
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Den inre kretsen by Mari Jungstedt
Operasjon Isbjørn by Eirik Wekre – AUDIO
Push by Sapphire
Blind Faith by Ben Elton
The War of the Worlds by HG Wells – AUDIO
The Little People by John Christopher
Den tredje søsteren by Terje Bjøranger
Udyr by Lotte Hammer/Søren Hammer – AUDIO
Myrstrå vipper by Rolf Jacobsen (Gyldendals lille bibliotek)
Lonesome George by Henry Nicholls
The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn – AUDIO
Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential by Brian Ashcraft/Shoko Ueda
Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

12 printed books, 3,374 pages.
5 audiobooks, 46h 34m.

Favorite fiction:
I'm very predictable - I've got to say Nation. I'm not just saying that because it's Pterry. It really is fantastic. One of his best. Read it and see for yourselves. :-)

Favorite nonfiction:
Hard to choose ... !! I read four nonfiction books this month and three of them could easily be my favorite. (The book about Japan was interesting, but shoddily edited, so doesn't quite cut it. :-) I think I'll have to go with Nick Davies. That book is probably my most important read this month, and was also extremely well written.

Favorite audio:
Hard to choose again. James Wilby read Saturday, so ... ? ;-)

Potential read for next month ... ? :-D

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quote of the Week

Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.
Carl Sagan

Saturday, January 29, 2011

ESC 2011: Norway, third quarter-final

Last quarter-final ... !! Henrik Ibsen's birthplace brings us ... an arena with lots of colored balloons, and Anne Rimmen's nicest dress so far this year. :-) Ready for takeoff ... !! :-D

Entry #1: Nothing Remains, written & performed by Susperia. Metal! Right? I'm really not into this genre, so I don't know exactly what kind of metal these guys play - black, death, what else? I've been thinking that we ought to send this song to Düsseldorf, just because we dropped the ball last year - it would have been SO AWESOME to have put Keep of Kalessin on stage in Telenor Arena. But alas, it wasn't to be. And now I'm not at all sure that I want us to send this anyway. It's so ... tame. It's much more melodious that I expect from this type of music, so it sounds kind of wrong, it doesn't really sound like 'real' metal. Not at all sure about this entry now. I'm starting to think that we'd look like wusses if we sent it. And we're supposed to be the serious metal people. Help! o_O I do agree, though, that it's great with more variation in the contest. In principle. o_O

Entry #2: Simone Larsen, Moh Denebi, Jennifer Brown and Björn Djupström - Gone with the Wind, performed by Noora Noor. Our queen of soul. :-) Well, we already know that it'll be performed very well and professionally with great stage presence. And a very good voice. As for the song itself, it's ... my favorite so far tonight. Catchy and kind of unusual ... it might get some attention, the chorus is a bit different. I like it. Fingers crossed. It's not an international winner, but we could hold our heads up with this one. :-)

Entry #3: Tor Einar Krogtoft-Jensen and Christoffer Bergesen - SOS, performed by Girl Happy. Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, this is an impossible love story between a girl and a robot. I know, whut? Fugly costume, weird choreography, weak vocals and just a dumb concept. The song isn't half bad - at least the verses - but it's totally ruined by all the shit surrounding it. Alexander Stenerud, where are you when we need you?? This could have gone somewhere if he'd taken over ... but as it is it just goes straight down the toilet. Hope to not see this again.

Entry #4: Simon Walker, Grethe Svensen and Tommy Berre - Like Dreamers Do, performed by Grethe Svensen. She's a very experienced singer but is making her ESC debut now. A ballad ... not a lot of those this year, so that's nice. Good voice, very expressive. Classy lady. Anne Ida says that this is giving her West End vibes ... I get that, but that can work. :-) It's a pretty good entry, not very memorable, but nothing wrong with it. And she has great stage presence, which may be more important than we think - AFAIK the audience will be able to vote throughout the entire show this year too. Svensen will appeal to older viewers, that may be a plus. But I can't see this winning, I'm afraid. Well, we'll see ...

Entry #5: Agnete Johnsen and Emelie Nilsen - Dance Tonight, performed by The BlackSheeps. Yes, that's how they spell their name. They started the band before they'd learned to conjugate English properly. See, this is why teenagers shouldn't be pop stars. >:-( This band has actually won the ESC once before - they won the Junior version in 2008 with their runaway hit Oro jaska beana. So of course the media are full of graduation jokes. It'll be interesting to see how they'll do in the grownup ESC. The song is ... pretty catchy, actually. I like it. But why is the song in Norwegian when the title is English? o_O Oh, wait, the chorus is in English. But why? Oro jaska beana was a mix between Norwegian and Sami - maybe that's their thing, mixing languages. I've really only heard these two songs by them. Odd. Well, I like the song, it's good, and they're fun to watch. We'll be seeing this entry again.

Entry #6: Stella Mwangi with Beyond51/Big City - Haba haba, performed by Stella Mwangi. Another linguistic melange - the verses are in English and the chorus in Swahili. Mwangi is originally from Kenya ... and is supposedly a big star there. Too bad they're not EBU members. >:-) This entry is being touted as a real feelgood song ... and I guess that's true, although I'm not too impressed initially. But hey, the chorus is great. I love the chorus ... and so does the audience, they're really digging it. Which is a very good thing, that's very important in the international final, cause that really does come through the screen. But this song is so weird ... it's like the verses aren't by the same writer/composer, they're so not the same quality as the chorus. So I really don't know what to think about this entry. I really like parts of it. o_O It's like the Swedish entry the year before last ... a very noticeable disconnect between verse and chorus. Weird. Good luck to Stella ... I don't really know how this will turn out. Although it must be said that my hopes aren't very high.

Entry #7: Knud Kleppe - Fire Below, performed by The Lucky Bullets. Kleppe is the band's singer, so it's their own entry, which is a plus. But that's really the only positive thing I can say about this entry. It's the first time for rockabilly in our national contest, which is good, cause we like variation, but ... it's still not good. I can't even tell the difference between the verse and the chorus, it's all just one annying buzz. Highly irritating. Will sink without a trace. Good riddance.

There were some technical difficulties during the first entry, so Susperia is performing again ... and they're sounding SO much better this time. This is actually metal. I'm very pleasantly surprised. I may vote for them now. :-)

Almost time for the results ... my guess, let's see. Susperia and The BlackSheeps are in, and Noora Noor, I can't imagine she'll be beaten out this soon. Then finally Mwangi or Svensen. I don't know who I'm rooting for. I voted for Susperia. :-)

Interval ... Sigrid finds Mr Skien, who's a lot more ... sparkly ... than Mrs Ørland and Florø. The musical entertainment is Didrik Solli-Tangen - of course, we're in Skien! :-D - and Bjørn Johan Muri singing the latter's entry from last year. I am so sick of that song ... we have the radio on all day at work and it felt like that song was on every twenty minutes for months and months. Sheesh. Fun performance, though.

Susperia - Nothing Remains
The Lucky Bullets - Fire Below

WTF?? That enervating noise pollution?? Sheesh. Norwegians really are idiots. >:-(

The BlackSheeps - Dance Tonight
Stella Mwangi - Haba haba

OK, yay for that, at least. But they really need to do something with Mwangi's song. Up the oomph on the verse. :-) I like the sheep song even more this time around. So ... mostly OK this round. But sheesh ... !! I'm so surprised that Noor didn't get through. I was so certain she'd make it ... in fact I was so sure that I didn't vote for her. Ho hum ...

Friday, January 28, 2011

A turtle book

But at the same time so much more.

I just finished this book today. It's pretty short, only about 195 pages plus notes and bibliography, but still so informative. An easy read, it's a popular science book, but it's wonderful, I love it. The story of Lonesome George is just amazing. Read it and weep.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Do dead people speak English?

Apparently so.

I'm sorry to be blogging about TV two days in a row, it's not that I'm obsessing over TV or anything, it's just that this is so interesting. Bear with me.

I'm watching Fem, a channel that I usually avoid like the plague, except for a movie maybe three times a year ... but tonight it's just too interesting to miss, I have to watch this. Lisa Williams live in Oslo. You know who she is, right? She's one of these despicable fraudsters who pretend they can communicate with the dead and give grieving people closure. OK, I'm sorry, maybe she's not a fraudster. Maybe she thinks she's really doing it. Maybe she's not despicable, just delusional. That would maybe be slightly better. Maybe. But anyway.

She's done a live performance here in town - or maybe more than one, I'm not sure - and this totally shitty TV channel (its primary demographic is stupid women with underdeveloped critical thinking skills) has turned that into a TV show. Pandering to the lowest common denominator. >:-( I'm watching it out of morbid curiosity. Kind of my duty as a skeptic. But it's depressing, it really is. I don't understand how people are falling for this stuff. And I don't understand how someone has the stomach to do something like this to people who are mourning their loved ones. There's a woman in the audience who lost her husband three weeks ago ... ! and Williams brings her forward and supposedly gives her messages and shit. The husband wants her to give the wife a hug. It's sickening.

She makes mistakes but isn't called on them. When did he die, it was two years ago, right? No, three weeks. Oh, OK, but I'm getting something about two years, was he sick for two years? See what she did there? Now that pisses me off. And why does she need to ask ... OK, she says that she's got someone's husband ... on the line, or whatever, and 'I'm in this section here'. (I just hate that woo talk, you know it when you hear it, it's so annoying. Energy and balance. Sheesh.) Then she asks 'who here lost their husband recently?' What does she need to ask that for? If the guy's supposedly right there, then why can't he tell her which one is his wife? That would be SO MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE if she just picked the woman out of the crowd, instead of making her come forward. There are so many people there, there's bound to be someone who lost their husband 'recently'. Oh, and define 'recently', please.

What she says is so vague, yet people say afterwards that she just described them to a tee. It's fascinating. They want to believe, so they do believe, even with so little to go on. It's really sad, and disgusting at the same time. Don't get me wrong, it's her I'm disgusted at, she's exploiting these poor people. And nobody calls her on things ...

... like my main question here, which is also the title of this post, do dead people speak English? Williams is from the UK, but right now she's in Norway, we speak Norwegian here. In the intro she was shown backstage establishing her connection with the spirit world (using a computer, interestingly enough) and she was saying that she felt like the Norwegian names were difficult, she was worried about getting them wrong. (The only name that's been mentioned on the show was pretty easy for her - Tommy. :-D) So she's not familiar with our language. The first person she brought up on stage was a man, I'd say in his forties probably, who really struggled with English. I'm not saying he can't speak it under normal circumstances, maybe he can get along, but in this obviously rather overwhelming situation - she 'connected with' his father, mother, father-in-law and sister - he really struggled to put a three word sentence together. Based on that I'm willing to bet a pretty significant amount of money that his father wasn't exactly fluent either. In fact I'm quite sure that the father's English skills would have fallen in the category slim to none. So how did he communicate with Williams, since they have no language in common? Hm.

I know, don't tell me - spiritual communication isn't like our helpless mortal speaking! She communes with the dead and they share their minds with her. Aw. They just show her things in images and feelings. Really? She seems to be getting things that are really specifically phrased - information-wise not much, but in the phrasing of them quite specific, if that makes sense; not like she's just relaying vague impressions - and the way she talks, she says that he's saying, she's saying ... Tommy's mother is such a chatterbox, she's constantly talking. Huh?

I also wonder a bit at how fantastic all these people are. They are all so wonderful, she loves them, they're so funny. Why don't these psychics ever connect with all the real shitheads out there, the narcissistic psychopaths, the abusive parents, the bullies? What do they do if they tell someone that their dead father is present, and the two of you had a very special relationship, didn't you? What if the person answers yes, their father molested them for nine years? I mean, that would be a pretty special relationship. Then what would Ms Williams say, I wonder?

Whatever she'd say, of course they wouldn't put it on TV. >:-(

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

'Uppdrag granskning'

I was going to mention this last week, but I forgot ... I blogged about something else instead, I bet it was important, let's see. Ah, yes, Failbook! Very important, certainly. :-D But what I've been thinking I ought to mention is that the new season of Uppdrag granskning has started. In fact it started last week. I hope all my Scandinavian readers will watch this fantastic documentary series. It's on SVT1 on Wednesdays at 8pm, with usually three reruns over the following days. It's also broadcast online simultaneously and can be watched online later as well, just go here. There will be 21 more episodes this season, excluding tonight's.

I always try to catch this if I'm able ... they do such fantastic research and reporting, and deal with so many interesting issues. I wish we had a program of this quality in Norway. Last week's episode was about a man convicted of child molestation who was in prison, but who was 'trusted' to the extent that he was let out daily - of course he abused this trust by renting an apartment in a quiet neighborhood, pretending to live there and work nights (he had to be back in jail by 9pm) ... he insinuated himself into the life of this little community and of course ended up molesting another little girl. But whose trust did he abuse? The prison authorities were fully aware of his having the apartment - they even helped him move. This despite the fact that he had been diagnosed as a pedophile and experts considered him highly likely to reoffend, AND that he had downloaded I don't know how many child abuse pictures from various places online, using the prison computer. Seriously, WTF is that about. Who's not doing their jobs in that place? That was a very interesting episode and I think it's great that UG dug around in this story.

Tonight's episode - I'm watching as I write this - is about IKEA and its founder, Ingvar Kamprad, and how he has not at all released ownership of the company as he claims, but has set up an incredibly complicated network of companies to hide away crazy amounts of money in Liechtenstein and avoid paying taxes wherever possible. Nothing illegal, but at least IMO rather immoral. They have a Twitter feed on their homepage and I see that a lot of viewers are disappointed ... at least most of those who are tweeting. ;-) Supposedly this is a non-issue, in their view. Not sure that I agree. It's not the end of the world, definitely not. But IMO it is interesting, because when someone, a company or a person or whatever, portray themselves in a certain way ... in order to sell more stuff, get sympathy, etc, and in reality they are very different from the image they construct, perhaps even the polar opposite, that is worth knowing. (Sylvia Browne comes to mind here, for some reason. >:-) For instance, this completely mistaken view that IKEA is Swedish. The company as a whole benefits hugely from that, I'm sure it's very significant in the way it's perceived all over the world. But it's not Swedish, it's Dutch. It hasn't been Swedish for I don't know how many years. But wait, is it Dutch? Or was it Belgian? No, the head office is in ... Luxembourg? No, that was before, now it's in Liechtenstein ... isn't it? Where the hell is it?

No, tax planning isn't illegal. But when a company like IKEA does it, goes to extreme lengths to hide it, and conceals it even from its own employees, that's something I for one think is good to bring to the public's attention.

Watch Uppdrag granskning, people ... you'll learn something.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weirdness on the streetcar

So, I had dinner at Calyx and N's place tonight ... K seemed to really like her birthday present - fair trade toys from Friends, go check out our selection if you need a present for a child. :-) On the streetcar back downtown I was listening to music and not really paying attention, but glancing around at one point I noticed an older man who seemed to be having trouble punching his ticket correctly. I'm not sure how old he was, but maybe around 60 ... ? We were at one of the stops and he had a ticket (or at least a piece of paper) in his hand and was sort of leaning over the little machine that punches the paper tickets, and he was trying to get it punched, but apparently having trouble. Another passenger, she was sitting in the seat just behind the machine, got up and ... my eyes may have been deceiving me, but I would be willing to bet money that she showed him how to punch the ticket properly. She put her hand towards the machine and said something to him and then he did get the ticket punched. At first I thought she was his wife, just because they were about the same age and they talked to each other and seemed friendly. I thought he was going to sit down in the seat in front of her. But no.

That guy was the driver. o_O After punching his ticket, or whatever it was, he got back behind the wheel, or whatever steering device streetcars have, and we drove off.


Monday, January 24, 2011

'Henry's Crime' ATC

So, I'm still doing the Movies A-Z ATC series over on Swap-Bot. The last swap so far was for the letter H ... so of course I had to use Henry's Crime as the subject for my ATC. :-) The background is a printout of a handwritten page from Chekhov's original MSS for The Cherry Orchard. Which does make sense in the context of the movie. :-)

My partner seemed to really like the ATC, she plans to go see the movie now. :-D

In other news, Ole Kopreitan died yesterday. That is so sad. I can't believe I'll never see him standing around downtown again, talking and arguing with people. :-( RIP.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thoughts on Gjøvik

I've been to Gjøvik this weekend, visiting friends ... it's a town a couple of hours from Oslo and I have friends there that I really should have visited long ago. But better late than never. :-) A couple of thoughts.

First, that I am SO glad that I'm not a Postcrosser at Gjøvik. I took the chance to do some postcard shopping there, but sheesh, there's hardly anything at all. There's a Norli branch in the mall - CC Vest - and they had a few, but tucked away almost out of sight. Then a few at NotaBene and a few at Narvesen. But very few, like four different ones. And some were the same so altogether I got like ten different cards from the town ... and nothing from other 'obvious' places in Oppland. So weird. Hardly anything from around the country either. Nothing from any of the common postcard series you see everywhere around here. A disappointment, alas. :-(

But I did find something else at the mall that put a smile on my face. Check this out, is this fantastic or what. :-D

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ESC 2011: Norway, second quarter-final

We're on ... !! Seven more songs and another fun show. :-) I like Rimmen's dress better this time, but IMO it shouldn't have been ankle length ... when she shows that much skin up top it would have been better to show some further down too, for symmetry. But that's me. :-) Sundnes is really short.

Entry #1: Ovi Martin, Johanna Demker and Björn Djupström - I'll Be Yours, performed by Pernille Svensen Øiestad and Marius Barhaugen. Umm ... they seem confident, but I'm not sure that's warranted. This song is strangely unmelodious. Like the lyrics are on a different beat from the music. o_O Really strange, and I'm not at all sure that I like it. And I can't stand their outfits - she is all dressed up and he's in a white tee and jeans. That is soo typical. You never see the guy in a suit and the girl in ordinary boring clothes. Boo. I'm surprised that this is Martin's entry. He's a pro at this and last year his song just rocked. He came third internationally, even. This song's got nothing on Playing With Fire.

Entry #2: Halvor Holter and Tarjei Van Ravens - Depend On Me, performed by Babel Fish. Meh. Anne Ida says that she thinks she's heard it before, even though she knows she hasn't. Now that's not a good sign. :-) I'm not a fan of this ... it's a pretty enough song, but too slow and with no real hook to it. They'll probably get through to the semi if nothing else, just because of who they are, but I don't think they'd do that well in Düsseldorf. This is just too bland. It'll drown in all the other shit, I mean songs. ;-) But kudos for writing their own entry, although I would have been very surprised if they hadn't.

Entry #3: Marika Lejon - Hungry For You (Gipsydance), performed by Marika Lejon. Again, points for performing her own entry. But minus points for calling it 'gypsy dance' (and misspelling it). I'm not a gypsy fan, call me a racist if you want. And, wahey, what's with the costume! LOL! Crazy outfit on her and on all the others ... but kind of fun, I guess, if you like that kind of thing. What I do like is the song. It's catchy and funny and with a great eastern European kind of beat to it ... I can think of some people who might like this a lot. :-) She's cute and funny and has a good stage presence ... I do wonder at her voice, though, I can't imagine she sings like that normally. o_O But it matches the song. A good entry, my favorite so far.

Entry #4: Isabella Leroy - Sand, performed by Isabella Leroy. Huh. This could hardly be more different from the previous entry. :-) Which is a good thing and part of what makes the contest so much fun, of course. But kind of a jolt all the same, it's pretty extreme in this case. As for the song, it's good, but it's not going to go anywhere. I can't really explain why ... it just isn't ESC material. She's got an interesting voice and the song is really pretty good - we like it - but it just doesn't fit here. Although Ukraine did pretty well with an entry that was reminiscent of this. But still, this isn't going anywhere. Kind of sad.

Marika backstage is getting a great reaction from the audience during her little interview there ... she's going to do well tonight, I think. I hope. :-)

Entry #5: Samsaya Sharma and Jarl Aanestad - Oh Oh (Puppy Love), performed by Endre Nordvik. I tend to expect good things from Samsaya, but, I don't know. Not sure about this one. Good thing it has a very young singer, but it might have been better with a girl. Kind of tacky choreography. The outfits the backing dancers are wearing, at least. IMO. The song is ... I don't know, kind of bland. The singer's voice isn't very strong, I don't think he does the song justice. I have a hard time judging the merits of this song ... it's rather forgettable now, but who knows what it could have been with a stronger singer. This may be this year's Yes Man, though. :-)

Entry #6: Hanne Sørvaag and Martin Hansen - You're Like A Melody, performed by Hanne Sørvaag. Now this is interesting - Sørvaag is such an ESC vet, but she's never performed before, she's only competed. So I've kind of got my fingers crossed for her, actually. But her dress ... !! The first words out of Anne Ida's mouth was That dress is not becoming!! LOL! I couldn't agree more. And the guitar, sheesh. They could at least have put some strings on it, just for show. But I digress. The song is ... not bad, not that good either, but not at all bad. Perfectly alright. She's good. She could have looked soo much better though. Change the dress, please ... ! The audience is really into her though. She may well get through. I kind of hope she does.

Entry #7: Merethe La Verdi and Kjetil Schei - Allergic, performed by Mimi Blix. A supermodel on stage? I'd never heard about her before she was announced as a performed this year, so I think I'll just stick with model. ;-) Much nicer dress. Would have looked better with a longer skirt, but again, that's just me. The song is ... catchy right now, but will probably get annoying really soon. The singer's good though, pretty and self-confident and with a really good stage presence. Weird choreography. Overall a good entry BUT would probably really get on our nerves if this were to win. But it probably won't. :-)

Fun interval entertainment ... not so much the hunt for Mr Florø, although I do like firemen, but I love Alexander Stenerud. So glad they chose one of his songs and not the entry Schanke bombed with ... :-)

The results! Two to the semi and two to the final. My guess ... or at least my hope is the gipsy dance to the semi, along with probably Mimi Blix. Sørvaag and Babel Fish to the final. No question about the latter. Let's see.

Endre - Oh Oh (Puppy Love)
Mimi Blix - Allergic

Hanne Sørvaag - You're Like A Melody
Babel Fish - Depend On Me

Well, no real surprises. Just too bad with the puppy love. But that's how the cookie crumbles. I'm relatively happy with these results, as far as that goes, but I hope that none of these songs ends up as our actual entry on February 12th. If one of them does, it'll be Depend On Me, but only because it's Babel Fish. And that's not going to cut it in Düsseldorf.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quote of the Week

It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes ... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Totalitarianism and godlessness

There's been a debate going on over at unfiltered perception for the past few days ... if you can call it a debate. If you read Norwegian you can check it out here. It's kind of entertaining. It's just also really annoying, because in order for a discussion to be in any way meaningful, all the participants have to agree on some fundamental issues. You know, like what words mean. That's going spectacularly wrong over on that post. There are a couple of old clichés being trotted out there which I could clear up, but I won't, because it's 100% a waste of my time & energy to participate in that discussion. Which is sad, but there you go. One thing though I do want to write a little about, and that's what I'm going to do here.

I'm talking about the old saw that atheism kills, because all the worst regimes in the world have been atheistic, and millions of people have been killed by Stalin and other evil dictators, and it's all the fault of ATHEISM. Boo! This is incorrect. You hear it repeated by theists all the time. They think it's one of their real trump cards. After all, how can atheism be anything but bad when it leads to oppression and mass murder?

Most theists who use this argument fail to appreciate its most obvious flaw - that even if this were true, that still would not constitute evidence for the existence of any god. But it's not true. Here's why.

No, actually, here's a quote posted by one of the so-called debaters over at Gunnar's ... it's Alexander Solzhenitsyn talking about atheism, he says. That may be disputable. But here's what he said.

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened." Since then I have spend well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened."

This is rather interesting, actually. Quite a few theists - not necessarily the one who posted this quote, I'm speaking generally - tend to slam atheists for, what should I call it ... bending to human authority. Eg, they say that we 'believe' in Darwin, or that whatever Richard Dawkins says we all swoon over it. This is what is called an argument from authority. It is an inductive fallacy. A statement is not true because Charles Darwin said it - it is true because it is true. If it even is true. You have to check that out for yourself. The quote above is simply Solzhenitsyn's opinion. The fact that he said it isn't in itself an argument for its veracity. We have to look beyond that. Which is rather beside the point here, but I always find it amusing when theists make arguments from authority, because that is too often what they chastise us for supposedly doing. :-)

Anyway. Men have forgotten God, and that's why it all went haywire. This is the claim. It is incorrect. The supposed situation where an atheist regime brutally oppresses and murders its own people - after, of course, outlawing religion - is a misinterpretation of reality, an oversimplification. First of all, there is no such thing as an atheist regime. That's not possible. Atheism is nothing - atheism isn't anything in itself, it's just an absence of something. An atheist is simply a person who lacks the god-shaped gap. :-) The fact that I am an atheist says nothing about me other than that I lack a faith in the divine. For more information than that, you need to look at other categories I fit into - that I am a skeptic and a secularist, for instance. And it's the same with the so-called atheist regime. If you look at all these evil states, you will see that they have something in common besides their divine forgetfulness. They are totalitarian. Most typically they are also Communist ... an ideology that looks fantastic on paper, but sadly does not take human nature into account, and therefore lends itself easily to totalitarianism. The USSR and China under Mao are the two regimes that are most often mentioned in this context - first and foremost, of course, the former. What with Stalin being the worst mass murderer in history and so on.

But the reason that his regime was so brutal and oppressive was not that it was atheistic - which it couldn't really have been, as I explained above - it was that it was totalitarian. This form of government tends to lead to oppression, because it can't tolerate dissent, but rather must suppress it. And in any human society, there will always be some dissent. So totalitarianism is generally a bad idea. Bad stuff happens. But it is totalitarianism that creates the bad stuff, not atheism. You can tell this because it is also totalitarianism that creates the 'atheism' - what Solzhenitsyn called 'forgetting God'.

Yes, totalitarian regimes are usually the same regimes that make organized religion illegal, ie, they 'ban God'. And this supposedly leads to all the bad stuff. But this is turning the situation completely on its head, and whenever you hear this argument being used, you can be certain that you're listening to a person who hasn't really looked into this issue properly. Totalitarian regimes create oppression and other bad stuff by their very nature. They also, and again by their nature, force out religion. It is especially Christianity that has suffered - if that's the word I want - from this fact of political reality. A totalitarian regime must outlaw Christianity, not because they want to be free from divine punishment, or because they are godless and immoral, or any such reason, but simply because Christianity is a competing totalitarian regime. This is true of a number of other religions as well - not all, Islam for instance is itself a fascist ideology and tends to become a totalitarian regime, rather than be suppressed by one. But a number of religions must be classed with Christianity in this respect. To a totalitarian regime, the message of these ideologies is irrelevant, and their moral value is irrelevant. They are simply competition, and that is why they must be got rid of. The whole point of totalitarianism is that the ideology - usually Communism - wants to dominate the entirety of society. This cannot be achieved with Christianity as an active factor ... especially not Catholic Christianity, which is the most dangerous in this respect, representing as it does an international and supranational organization. Therefore, Christianity, or whatever other religion can be expected to constitute a similar separate and independent entity within the state, cannot be permitted to continue its existence.

It's really very simple. Totalitarianism creates oppression. It does not do this because it is 'atheist'. Rather, it becomes 'atheist' - it forgets God, to keep with that metaphor - for the exact same reason that it creates oppression. The one is not the cause of the other; they are, rather, the unavoidable effects of the same cause. This is really very obvious once you think the matter through. In other words, when you hear this argument, it is usually not really an argument as such, but more of a ... regurgitation. Please bear that in mind. :-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A favorite fail

I assume everyone who reads this is familiar with ICanHasCheezburger ... but maybe less so with its daughter sites. Of which it has a freakin' gadzillion ... so many by now that keeping up with them would be a full time job. :-) You've got to pick your favorite. Mine is, strangely, Failbook. Strange because I'm not on Facebook, and don't want to be ... but Failbook rocks. I love going there and wallowing in the stupid ... and in the occasional total win. Like this one. Zing!

Click to enlarge if you can't read it in this size. :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Some ATCs I've made recently ... all of them for swaps on Swap-Bot. I used one of my own photos to make one of them, guess which one ... ;-)
Ireland! :-D
Nightmares & fairytales
Fair trade

Monday, January 17, 2011

'Henry's Crime' trailer

Yup, the trailer's out. It's great, I love it. Can't wait to see this movie. It looks ... charming in a sort of old-fashioned way. :-) Ooh, and James Caan. It doesn't have a distributor in this country yet, alas ... I so hope it gets one ... I would love to see this on the big screen. Fingers crossed. :-)

Widescreen here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

ESC 2011: Norway, first quarter-final

OK, here we go ... ! The third rerun is on as we speak, so I'm kind of blogging it live anyway now. :-) Let's see. The presenters ... Anne Rimmen seems a little stiff to start with, and I'm not sure I'm a fan of that dress. But it's the first show, she's got time to improve, she'll get better. :-) Per Sundnes is ... himself.

Believe it or not, but I actually didn't check out the results last night, so I haven't heard how it turned out ... I avoided it on purpose, so that watching the show today would be a bit more fun. :-D So this will be ... interesting, if that's the word I want. ;-)

Entry #1: Carina Dahl, Hanne Sørvaag and Nanna Martorell - Guns & Boys, performed by Carina Dahl. Daughter of Diesel Dahl, if anyone cares, which I hope nobody does. Meh. Her voice would have been interesting if it had been stronger. Tacky outfit and kind of tacky performance. Song annoying more than anything else, with stupid title and stupid lyrics. I would never vote for this and I would be embarrassed if we sent this to Düsseldorf. Which we won't.

Entry #2: Jim André Bergsted - Daisy, performed by Use Me, the singer's own band. That's a good thing, at least. This is a band made up entirely of teenagers, and it shows ... first and foremost in the singer's voice. He sounds really young. They also seem a little nervous ... but I wouldn't hold that against them. The song is kind of bland, not much of a hook to it, but melodious. I won't be able to hum it ten seconds after they're done playing, but this still isn't bad, just ... mediocre. But so far definitely the best entry. ;-)

Entry #3: Cecilie Larsen - Vardlokk, performed by Helene Bøksle. Who of course sings in Norwegian. Serious points for that. Also major points for singing about something other than the usual boy wants girl or vice versa shit that is the usual fare in the contest; this song is about the confrontation, a thousand years ago, between Christianity and our old religion. Bøksle is very pretty and has a gorgeous voice ... she would get us some points just on being so beautifully Norwegian. The song has some really good ethnic elements too. It's also quite catchy - more so than Alvedansen - and has a beautiful melody. I like this a lot ... new favorite, I would probably have voted for this if I had been watching last night.

Entry #4: Magne Almås and Petter Øien - Alt du vil ha, performed by Sie Gubba, a band where the composer and songwriter are on guitar and vocals. So, points for that, + for Norwegian lyrics. But what else? Well, the song is sort of charming in a rustic way and it's pretty catchy, but again, a bit bland. I don't think this style of poppy country rock will go down too well in the international finals. It would probably just sink without a trace. But as I always say, all I really ask from the Norwegian entry is that we won't make total fools of ourselves. And we wouldn't with this song ... it's perfectly alright, just nothing special. I have nothing against it, but also don't have high hopes for it.

Entry #5: Gatas Parlament and Jester - Jobbe litt mindre og tjene litt mer, performed by Gatas Parlament. These guys are a rap group with left wing views, sometimes rather radical. Their name means The Parliament of the Street. I know, politics aren't allowed in the ESC. But this song supposedly isn't very political, they claim it's more generic. We'll see. I can't imagine they have any chance whatsoever of getting to Düsseldorf anyway, so no worries. :-) Umm ... I'm not sure how they can call this rap. I'm not sure what I would call it. But add one letter and you may be on to something. The lyrics are stupid and immature - definitely not political, because in politics you need to not be a total idiot. Blech. Fuck off. I would never vote for this and I hope no one else did either.

Entry #6: Christine Dancke - Trenger mer, performed by Sichelle ... who has a totally stupid name (it's pronounced like seashell - I know ...) but is pretty and charming and shouldn't have her parents' bad choices held against her. :-) She was in our national contest two years ago too, but didn't get anywhere. Better luck this time? Well ... possibly. She looks very pretty, although her dress is perhaps not the ideal choice. Her voice is kind of breathy ... not that strong. But it fits the song, which is a pretty standard pop ditty. I like it in the sense that I see no reason not to like it. But it's not a winner. Too bad. :-(

Entry #7: Rikke Normann - Not That Easy, performed by Rikke Normann and Åste Sem. Performing their own material, kudos for that. These girls have been involved in the contest before, they were backing singers for Mira Craig last year. I'll believe that. :-) They are really good singers and very confident on stage. Great outfits. I love the brunette's hair (not sure which is which :-). And the song is ... possibly the best so far, relatively catchy and with a good beat to the melody. If I could have voted I would probably have voted for these two as well. A quality entry. They could do a Maria in Düsseldorf ... not win, but get lots of good press and end up somewhere like top five.

That's the songs! I wonder what they've come up with for the interval entertainment. Sigrid looking for a man at Ørland ... meh ... where's the music?? Oh, here it comes. Alexander Rybak and Keep of Kalessin!! LOL!! Brilliant, I love it. Check out Alexander's t-shirt. :-D Fantastic! :-D

And now - the results. Eek. There are four places to be won in this first quarter-final - two to the semifinal and two to the final. Let's see. :-)

Use Me - Daisy
Sie Gubba - Alt du vil ha

Helene Bøksle - Vardlokk
Åste and Rikke - Not That Easy

Yay!! Happy! The two best songs went to the final, and the two semifinalists aren't half bad either. They are songs that have no chance of winning in May, but that we wouldn't disgrace ourselves with either. So ... good results this time round. I'm good with this. And next Saturday I will definitely be watching ... !! ;-)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

'Enron' @ Det Norske Teater

Strange as it may seem, today's post is actually not going to be about the Eurovision Song Contest. I know, shocker!! Tonight was the first quarter final of our national contest, but believe it or not, I didn't watch it. :-o KAS and trilltrall and I had theater tickets ... I got them at a reduced price, but the dates available were limited, and because they live out in the boondocks now ;-) we kind of had to go on a Saturday. So it was tonight or next Saturday, and the first quarter final is basically always the worst, so ... there you go. I recorded it and will watch it tomorrow and post a review then. Of course. :-)

Anyway, the play was Enron by Lucy Prebble, it opened yesterday and will run till at least the middle of March. Today's post is a recommendation - you should go see it. It's gotten mixed reviews here, but we all thought it was great. The scenography was absolutely fantastic - as I expect from this theater. They are always very creative and clever on that score. The actors were great too - especially Mads Ousdal as Jeffrey Skilling. He is like a clone of his father, it's starting to get almost scary now as he's getting older. They have the exact same voice sometimes, it's kind of freaky. :-) But he does a great job in this role, that's the main thing. :-)

A very good production of an interesting play, you should go see it if you have the chance. :-)

Photo obviously not by me ... I got it from Dagbladet's online review here. I personally don't agree with that review ... but don't listen to me, or to the reviewer, go see for yourself. :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mmm, Brämhults

If you're Scandinavian and sometimes (or often, whichever :-) shop at high end grocery stores, you will likely be familiar with this seriously yummy brand of fruit juices. They're expensive but beyond delicious. I usually buy just one at a time, because they have a really short shelf life ... they're extremely fresh pressed. But yesterday they were having a sale at Meny where I usually shop, and I just couldn't resist. They're all so good. And what's more, they're so pretty! Lookee! :-D

This could be an art installation, if I was more unscrupulous ... and not so lazy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

White Woman Syndrome

Although not 'missing' this time, but still, WWS seems to be what is kicking in all over Norwegian media right now. Maria Amelie (not her real name, which she has withheld from authorities since she arrived in 2002), an asylum seeker from Russia who has been staying illegally in this country for going on eight years, was finally arrested by police last night and will now be deported. Against her will, obviously ... if she was willing to leave, she would have done so when obliged to by the denial of her family's application for asylum.

There are several unusual things about this particular illegal immigrant (of which we have thousands upon thousands in this country - and I have to say that as a general rule the fact that our police aren't able to find and deport all of them is no reason to not deport the ones they do find) which her many defenders eagerly use to argue her case. She has learned perfect Norwegian, she has managed to get higher education - a Master's degree in some technological field - and she has worked umpteen hours as a volunteer for a couple of music festivals. In other words, she is exactly the kind of immigrant we want. She is a resource. We should be throwing citizenship at her! But no, she has to go and pieces of shit like Mullah Krekar get to say. Boo hiss, what a retarded country Norway is.

I won't say much about Krekar, that is a whole other blog post ... but I am afraid that those who think that if only the Progress Party were in power now, he would be out on his head and Maria Amelie would get to stay with no problems have it rather backwards. Their situations arise from different legal realities. Nobody wants Krekar here, come on. But we can't kick him out because of international obligations we have entered into voluntarily ... legal frameworks that deal with human rights and prohibit us from sending people out to where they risk capital punishment. These would still be in place, and would in all likelihood not be removed, under a Progress Party government. Personally I disagree with this as a matter of principle - I oppose the death penalty, but I also believe in the rights of sovereign states to institute and uphold their own laws. I don't think Iraq should have capital punishment on the books, but it is their choice to do so, and their right to punish their own citizens according to their own laws. If Krekar is guilty of such offenses under Iraqi law, that is his affair and not ours. But I digress. His situation is a paradox. His presence here is deeply offensive, but it is not relevant to Maria Amelie's situation.

Her difficulties stem from the fact that she is an asylum seeker who does not have the right to claim asylum. I've written about this before, and it's still just as simple as it was then. If you can prove that you are persecuted for some specific and objectively defined reasons, then you have the right to protection from your persecutors - ie, asylum. If you are not persecuted, you do not have the right to asylum. This is so incredibly simple to understand. If A, then B. If not A, then not B. In the case of Maria Amelie and her parents, there is no A, therefore, they have no right to B.

Where are her parents, by the way? They're still here, also illegal immigrants. Letting their daughter be sent back to Russia alone? Charming.

Anyway. This really is pretty simple. This woman doesn't have the right to asylum, she has been informed of this and has been instructed to leave the country (no doubt under threat of deportation; a threat which, if not explicit, is in any case completely obvious to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention) but has refused to do so. For whatever reason, she has over the past few months made herself into something of a celebrity, publishing and publicizing a book about her life (I haven't read this book - yet? - but it seems to have some lacunas). This was obviously rather risky. The police read the newspapers too. Last night she reaped the result of her choice to be high profile. A choice which in itself may be laudable, but which she must always have known carried some very specific risks.

I do agree that her situation must be very difficult. However, she has largely made it so herself - she has nothing to return to in Russia, she claims (she also claims to not be a Russian citizen, a claim disputed by Russian authorities, in fact) but how is this not due to the fact that she has refused to return there for seven years? Yes, she was only 16 when she arrived here, brought by her parents. But that was nine years ago - for the past seven years she has been entirely responsible for her own actions. At no time for the past seven and a half years has she ever had the legal right to remain in this country. She speaks Russian, Norwegian and no doubt English; she has a good education. She is young, strong and healthy. Of course she has something to return to in Russia. She has the chance to make a life there and make valuable contributions there - or she has the choice to return there and apply for a work permit in this country, so that she can return here legally. Something she should probably have done years ago, before - let's be honest - defrauding Norwegian tax payers of probably millions of crowns by getting an education she in fact had no right to.

I'm coming across as a callous bitch right now, I'm aware of that ... but that's the thing, the law is a callous bitch, and it has to be. That is how it ensures us all of our rights, and how it prevents the system that has created it from being exploited. An Amnesty representative was on the Daily Review tonight saying that the authorities' logic of making an example of Maria Amelie is just a scare tactic - letting her stay will absolutely not create an avalanche of illegals trying to trick the system by evading the police for long enough and then getting to stay despite having no right to do so. Sorry, Amnesty, I don't buy that. In the past, when we have had high numbers of immigrants from certain countries where basically no one has a right to asylum, information campaigns in those countries have had the effect of strongly reducing or almost removing those numbers. What is the reason that the opposite won't happen? Why should we risk it?

We have a rule in Norway that if you don't have the right to asylum, we can still let you stay, for what is called 'humanitarian reasons'. This may happen if you have what the authorities deem a particular connection to Norway, for instance. A lot of people are saying that Maria Amelie has such a connection, and therefore she should be allowed to stay. But her connection has no foundation in law. These people who defend her so strongly - do they really wish that such individuals as her should be exempt from the rule of the law?

I venture to say that they do not. In fact I am rather certain that many of these people are the very same who insist that the law be applied to these illegals, these criminals, these people who don't belong here. Why wish, even demand, an exception for this particular person? White Woman Syndrome. She is young, pretty, white, articulate, now even a celebrity of sorts. If this exact same situation had happened to a bearded, brown-skinned, Muslim-looking man, I'm sure his defenders would have numbered only a fraction of hers.

Which is exactly why we cannot let our emotions and our personal opinions decide in these matters. Justice for Maria Amelie, because we feel compassion for her, we can identify with her? No. The law must decide. That is the only way in which we can hope to achieve true justice.

You can read the final denial of appeal here. Maria Amelie's supporters must have leaked this document to the media - blacking out her real name, if that is her real name, but leaving the name of the bureaucrat who signed the document. Low blow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Another short and pointless post, alas. Mostly pointless, anyway. I'm feeling much better now - to the point where every entry I write in my diary will probably not mention snot for the rest of the week. (Sorry.) I definitely plan to go in to work tomorrow. My brain finally feels like it's working properly again, it's a huge relief. I've hardly been doing anything at all since Friday night, but pretty much everything I have done has been messed up and screwy. Like on Monday I was going to make myself some food ... I didn't feel like eating, had zero appetite, but I knew I had to eat something. So I figured I'd fry some chicken that I had in the fridge. Since my nose was all plugged up I couldn't taste much of anything, so I thought I'd better put some spices on the chicken pieces to make my dinner a little more interesting. OK, so I get a spice grater from the spice cabinet ... one that has this really tasty mix in it, goes great with chicken. I start grating but nothing comes out. WTF? I keep grating, maybe I held it at the wrong angle so nothing fell in the ... little knifey thing there. But changing the angle doesn't help, OK, grate some more ... But nothing comes out. o_O

At least not until THE LID of the grater falls off ... !! And falls into the pan, along with a shitload of newly grated spices. Note to self, etc. But at least I could taste my dinner. ;-)

Anyway ... I was stupid for four days, but now my intelligence has returned, I think. So maybe my posts will be a little more interesting again before too long. I will definitely write something about that report, v. soon.

In closing, happy birthday to my honorary niece K.! She is one year old today. I'm seriously tempted to post a picture of her, just to show you all how cute she is. But of course I won't do that, she's too little to understand about the internet, so I don't approve of that. But she is really adorable ... and I totally can't believe she is one already. o_O Congrats to Calyx and N., you guys have had quite a year. :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The report is in

Which report, you say? Why, this one. The report commissioned by the Food Authority from the Science Committee for Food Safety, the scientific body they get their facts from. It's been eagerly awaited ... the report, I mean. My community - the reptile geeks - have been very anxious to see it. It's kind of the be all and end all for us ... at least for quite a while. The FA want to change the regulations on the reptile issue, they want the ban to end, but they need scientific facts to back that decision. The herpetological association has given the Science Committee a list of 31 species that should be allowed - species that are easy to keep, aren't dangerous to humans and don't pose a threat to our fauna. This report is the verdict on that. And ... it's mostly positive. I was pleasantly surprised. There are a couple of things that I would have changed in the info on the species that is my primary interest here - Chinemys reevesii, of course - but overall I think it looks really good and that the conclusion is positive.

I was going to write a post about the debate today surrounding this, and refute some of the ridiculous things the animal rights people are saying, but I just don't have the energy. I feel a lot better today (which, alas, didn't take much ;-) but I'm still not exactly bursting with energy. Maybe tomorrow. :-)

But in any case, if you want to take part in the discussion on this issue, read the report. If you don't, you will disqualify yourself from having an opinion. And if you're one of those 'animals are people too' folks, please be aware that it may not say what you think it says.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keanu on TV

Yay for the internet. :-) Keanu was on the Graham Norton show on Friday. I of course couldn't watch it ... being in the wrong country and all. The show is on here too, but we're way behind. (I don't normally watch it, so I don't know how far behind.) I was really sorry to miss it ... I'm not exactly a fan of Norton's, but the times I've watched his show it's been pretty entertaining. And this time the lineup was really good ... Keanu of course, Marcus Brigstocke, who's really funny, and Emilia Fox. I love Emilia Fox. I haven't seen that much of her work - although what I have seen has been good - and I'm not really a fan of Silent Witness, which is on here on ... Friday nights, I think. It's a good show, don't get me wrong, I just never really got into it. But she played Georgiana Darcy on Pride and Prejudice, and she did it perfectly, so I'm a fan of hers forever regardless of what she gets up to now. :-)

But first and foremost, of course, Keanu was on the show. And because of the format of this show he would be there all the time, unlike a lot of other talk shows where they call the guests in one by one. So I really wanted to see this. And like I said, yay for the internet. You can see the entire episode here. Yay. It's good, I recommend it, it was fun to watch. Although I'm not sure I believe that Brigstocke has never eaten a McDonald's burger. ;-)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Flu season ...

... is upon us, and if you're looking for its victims, you need look no further. Boo. I feel like shit and also very sorry for myself. You'll have to excuse me for not writing anything interesting here today ... I literally have no energy for anything, I've barely managed to cook myself a meal. It's very sad. Here's hoping I'll feel better soon ... for all our sakes. :-(

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quote of the Week

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
Mark Twain

Friday, January 7, 2011

Creative recycling

Well, it's not really recycling, I guess. But kudos for very creative use of an old egg carton. :-)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

'The Far Pavilions'

Does anyone remember this?

It was on TV here in Norway in ... I'm not sure, but it was produced in 1984, apparently, so it can't have been that much later. Mid-eighties. :-) It was called Flammer over India in Norwegian. Again, I'm not sure exactly when it was on, so I can't say how old I was when I saw it, but I must have been about ten. I don't remember that much of the plot, I just mainly remember that I LOVED it like crazy. It captured my imagination, as they say. Totally. In recent years I have been thinking every now and then that I would like to see it again.

The other day I went out to dinner with some friends and friends of friends, and after some hot chocolates at a literally pretty cool cafe, we went shopping at VideoNova which was right across the street. And guess what I found. :-) It was at a really good price too, only 200 crowns ... for the whole series which is what, several hours. I had to buy it. :-)

Now I don't know whether I'll dare to watch it. What if it's horrible? I'll ruin a treasured childhood memory. :-) Take a look below. It's not quite up to current standards, is it. ;-) But on the other hand, Chris Lee ... ! :-D

Widescreen here.

Have I read the book, you say? No ... I'm a little ashamed to say I haven't. I think I actually have a copy of it - and have had it for probably like two years, which is why I'm ashamed :-) - but I've never gotten around to reading it. Because it's about ten thousand pages. But we'll see. :-)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another fantastic postcard

Check this out, how cool is this??! :-D

I got this today from Willi in Riepe in north Germany. He is the #1 Postcrosser in Germany - and that's really saying something, because Germany is the 3rd biggest nation on Postcrossing overall. My card was the 793,601st card sent from there. (Norway is approaching 42,000 ... doesn't quite compare. :-)

Anyway, he's #1, he sends a lot of postcards - a lot! - but he still took the time to write a friendly greeting to me and doodle a little drawing on the card. That is so fantastic. He sends so many postcards, but he still makes that personal effort. I love that. And I love my tiny little itty bitty bat!! :-D

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sad news

Pete Postlethwaite died yesterday. :-( I read it in the paper this morning. That is so sad. He was a fantastic actor. I've only seen a few of his movies ... a few as compared to how many he was in :-) ... but he was absolutely wonderful in everything I've seen. Alas, no more. And he wasn't that old either - only 64, that's younger than my father. :-(

On the other hand, my father isn't a smoker since the age of ten, as Postlethwaite supposedly was. o_O

Sad ... for all us movie lovers, for his friends and family, and first and foremost for his children. (Although I have to say that IMO it's not quite right for a 64 year old man to have a 14 year old daughter. She is way too young to be fatherless, but statistically, it's not that surprising. But let's not go there, this post isn't about that.)

I wish Keanu had done a movie with Postlethwaite, so that I could tie this into Keanu Monday in some way. (Which of course I intend to continue in 2011.) Instead I think I will just leave you with this.

From Brassed Off. If you haven't seen that movie, seriously, you MUST.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Turtle fury!!

Check out my angry turtle!! :-D It's been a dream of mine for a while - I may have mentioned this - to take a picture of a yawning turtle. I caught Herman yawning this summer, on video ... that's one down, two to go. Today I kind of managed it with Raphael. Check it out - the second picture especially. What a set of jaws! He could almost fit his own head in there. :-D I really like the second shot, it really shows how their jaws aren't hinged like ours, but just attached with skin and muscle, like snakes' jaws. This lets them swallow large pieces of food, a necessity since they don't have teeth, only beaks. Also I really like it because he is so cute when he's mad. ;-)

OK, so he's not yawning, he's just gaping ... but it's almost the same thing. :-) Mouth open. :-) How can I tell he's not yawning? Because when he yawns, he fully extends his head. And he was gaping a lot just then too, he was really angry. Angryturt!! :-D

Click to enlarge the second one if you want to get a really good look. :-)

The gaping is a threatening behavior that they exhibit when they're angry and/or frightened. Why he was angry? Because he's such a little weirdo ... or at least that's partly why. Partly I guess he thought I was getting too fiddly with him. Touching his turtleneck too much. (But it's just so soft and cute ... !) And not letting him climb around exactly where he wanted and breathe in my eye. I don't know whether you've ever had a reptile breathe in your eye, but it's actually pretty uncomfortable. Their breath is cold, so it feels really weird and really not pleasant. But it wasn't all my fault, he is a weirdo too. :-) He got mad at the camera - the strap was dangling in front of him and this was apparently an extreme provocation on the camera's part. He gets those moods sometimes where he suddenly gets furious with an inanimate object that he has previously never shown any interest in whatsoever. He is a weirdo. :-)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Quote of the Week

One out of four people [...] is mentally unbalanced. Think of your three closest friends; if they seem OK, then you're the one.
Ann Landers