Monday, February 28, 2011

Books I've read in 2011 - February

Døde menn går på ski by Knut Nærum
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – AUDIO
The Paris Enigma by Pablo De Santis
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor
by Stephanie Barron
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth – AUDIO
Musketerenes siste bedrifter, volume one by Alexandre Dumas
Dr Jekyll og Mr Hyde av Robert Louis Stevenson – AUDIO
Close Encounters by Alina Reyes (a Phoenix paperback)
Pippa Lees hemmelige liv by Rebecca Miller – AUDIO
Tjen folket! by Yan Lianke
Affluenza by Oliver James
Famous Tortoises
Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro – AUDIO
Kafka på stranden by Haruki Murakami – AUDIO
Før jeg brenner ned by Gaute Heivoll – AUDIO
Quatrain by Sharon Shinn
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick
Doppler by Erlend Loe – AUDIO

10 printed books, 2,633 pages.
8 audiobooks, 75h 50m.

Favorite fiction:
Quatrain, I think. Shinn is one of my favorite writers and it's been a while since I'd read anything by her. This book is a collection of four kind of short novellas, each set in a different universe of hers. I loved the chance to revisit. :-)

Favorite nonfiction:
I can't choose. Seriously, I can't. I only read two nonfiction books this month and neither of them were good enough to qualify for the term 'favorite'. Pass on this one.

Favorite audio:
A lot more to choose from there! :-) I've listened to several really good audiobooks this month, it's actually hard to pick one. But I think it would have to be ... The Plot Against America. It's a type of novel I tend to like - alternative history - and it was very well executed, with a lot of interesting ideas, as well as being very well read. I recommend it.

Ooh, and look - I've read it already ... ! :-)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

ROMANIA 2011 - Change

ESC-wise, I really love Romania. They're one of my favorite countries. They've sent so many great songs. Of course they don't always get it right, but when they do, wow. :-) 2005 and 2006 were some of their best years ... and of course last year, when they ended up third with the fantastic Playing With Fire. Their dream is, naturally, to one day win - and I for one would love to see the contest in Bucharest. Will this be Romania's year? I'm genuinely sorry to say that I don't think so. If they couldn't do it with Playing With Fire, I seriously doubt that they can do it with Change. But!

Don't let the fact that I don't see this song as a winner lead you to think that I don't like it. On the contrary, I love it. Another Romanian favorite. :-) The problem is that I can't tell you exactly what's so great about it. I really like the opening. I like the piano keeping the beat. I like the singer's voice. I like the chorus. But do I like these things because they're good, or do I just like them because I like them? Couldn't tell you. My bias may be clouding my judgment on this one. But I like the song a lot and I will have my fingers crossed for Romania this year. As usual. :-)

One thing I don't like is the singer's outfit. It's his shirt. There's something about it, I can't put my finger on exactly what, but it's really distracting. He needs to change his outfit. But I think he can do it. He can change! :-D

This is Hotel FM performing Change by Gabriel Băruţă and Alexandra Ivan, who will be competing for Romania on Thursday, May 12th. They're in the second semi, so I can vote for them, yay! :-D

Fullscreen here. Lyrics here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

World Cup all over

Oslo is hosting the Nordic World Ski Championships right now, and every public service has been pressed into ... well, service. Of course Ruter, the city's public transport company, is playing a very significant part, or at least trying to. The public transport thing seems to be a little tricky for them right now. But hey, they can always branch out into public service announcements. :-D

Translation: the men's 30 kilometer pursuit at Sunday noon is sold out. :-D

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quote of the Week

'My good man,' I say, 'skimmed milk represents the highest achievement of humanity thus far. [...] And in fact I fear that humanity will never go further.'
Erlend Loe, Doppler

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Today's was my friend Eva's funeral. It was so sad. I hardly knew what to say to her family ... but it was good to see them all. I think the only thing you can really do in a situation like this is just to be there. I said to her sister that I didn't know what to say ... she said no, there isn't really anything you can say. But at least I could give her a hug.

Eva was buried from Tanum church in Bærum ... in an area where her family has had a very noticeable presence for generations. There are streets named after them. :-) It was a beautiful ceremony - especially a sort of memorial speech that her aunt had written on behalf of all her family in the West Country, which the vicar read - in this beautiful old church. But very sad.

Something that made it even more sad for me was that I have been really looking forward to the next time I would visit this church - for my best friend Tanumine's wedding this summer. That was the plan. I never thought I would be there for this. But, although of course I would so much rather that this had never happened, I'm very glad that I was able to be there. If that makes sense.

Goodbye, Eva. I'll always remember you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fantastic Norwegian novel

Currently available only in Norwegian, I think, but in the process of being translated into something like 14 languages. The English title seems slated to be Before I Burn. I'm reading it now, or rather hearing it in a wonderfully read audio version. It deserves every bit of the praise it's gotten. It's not hype, it's all true. A fascinating story, based on real events, of a pyromaniac in rural Norway in the late 70s, interwoven with the author's own life - he is from the same district and was born during the height of this series of fires. Very well written, and very original ... this conceit with the intertwining stories works so well. I really recommend this book.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Things Only Idiots Believe, Part Ten

That the following statement makes any kind of sense: I am a great wine lover, therefore I want the sale of alcohol to be opened up to other outlets besides Vinmonopolet.

Let's not get into the fact that increased availability of alcohol will lead to more violent crime, and nobody wants more violent crime ... that's another story. Don't get me started.

First: The wonderful thing about Vinmonopolet is that they are a specialty store, with specially qualified staff. You can get expert advice from them. If wine were to be sold at, say, REMA 1000, you would not get expert advice, or indeed any advice at all. The people selling you your wine would have NO FUCKING IDEA what bottle of red, for instance, would go best with the rack of lamb you plan to serve on Sunday.

Yet they might be able to drive their top quality competition - in this scenario - out of business. (See end of paragraph below for explanation.)

Second: If you are a wine lover, then Vinmonopolet is obviously the place for you. Specialty store? Experts on staff? And, not least, the fantastic selection. If your local grocery store were to sell wine, they would never in a million years be able to manage anything even resembling what Vinmonopolet offers. (This applies to the big 'luxury' grocery stores too.) They would stock only the bestsellers. And since Norwegians are such fucking cheapskates, this would be cheap and quite likely lower quality wine.

Now, I don't care about either of these two points personally, I don't drink wine, it tastes like shit to me. But if you claim to be a wine lover, connoisseur, whatever, how the hell do you figure the above inevitable results would benefit you? You must be an idiot.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quote & poster

He's this autodidact, student for life kind of guy. That's my favorite kind.
Richard Linklater

I'm watching the movie again now. It's really a seriously good movie. I've got to read that book soon.

Happy 74th birthday to king Harald! I remembered the flag. :-)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

SWITZERLAND 2011 - In Love For A While

Switzerland has been plagued by bad luck in the ESC for the past few years ... I mean seriously bad luck, they haven't even qualified for the final since 2006. And even before that they did so badly for years and years and years. Poor Switzerland ... they haven't even been sending bad songs, they just sort of ... shoot above the goal posts. I loved their song in 2008. I listen to it often, it's beautiful, I love it. But it didn't get through. Will they have any better luck this year?

It's hard to say. I'm not an instant fan. I really don't like the fact that they've copied last year's winner ... outfit, choreography, type of song. Plus that it's not a good strategy, because whenever one type of song has won one year, then next year something really different usually wins. So that may, probably will, backfire. What's positive? Pretty girl with a really good voice. Seems to be charming ... although that is obscured a bit for me by the choreography, which I really think they will be penalized for by the audience. Relatively catchy song.

It's a nice and sweet song, and her voice makes the entry memorable, and if they keep this presentation - or at least the type of presentation - they may well score some votes on the simplicity of it. But I am not convinced by this.

Take a look for yourselves though. This is Anna Rossinelli performing In Love For A While by David Klein. He will be competing for Switzerland on Tuesday, May 10th. Against us, among others. I can't help but think that our smiling Stella will make this entry fade into the background ... ;-)

Fullscreen here. Lyrics here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011


An expression that is often used, but rarely with this much justification.

On the corner of my street when I got home tonight:


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adorable postcard

... that I received yesterday when I got home from work, and that actually managed to put a smile on my face for a little while, despite everything.

Sent by Verena in Switzerland.

And belated happy birthday to my dear friend Calyx. :-) It was actually yesterday, but I forgot it ... for which I am very sorry, but she's forgiven me. It's kind of a tradition with us, actually. Calyx: Hugs to you and N. and baby!!! :-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Last night I was annoyed because I somehow managed to forget Desperate Housewives ... season seven started here last week and I guess I'm still not in the habit of watching it again. I hardly think I've missed a single episode before now, and I don't know why I forgot it yesterday. I wasn't even watching anything else that might have distracted me ... I was just sitting in my chair reading. The really annoying thing was that I remembered it literally three minutes after it was over. Growl. And then, after remembering that I'd forgotten :-) I looked through the TV schedule for the rest of the week, and then I got even more annoyed - previously they've used to do reruns of each week's episode on Saturday nights, so if you missed it you could catch it again during the weekend, but apparently they're not doing that for this season. So ... that was my Tuesday night, I was really annoyed with myself and this happening kind of ruined my night.

Now for the perspective.

My mother called me at work today - I mean on my work phone, which she hardly ever does. She was so upset, she was crying on the phone, which she also hardly ever does. She had some very sad news for me ... news that I don't think I've managed to quite take in yet. I can't really believe that it can really be true. My friend Eva died in her sleep yesterday. She wasn't feeling quite well during the day, when she was at work, so she went to bed when she got home, to get some rest. When her father came home - she lived on the ground floor of her parents' house - he had been worrying about her, so he went to check on her. I guess he was expecting to find that maybe she had been throwing up or she had a fever, or something like that ... but she had died. I feel so bad for him - he's a good person - he must have been just so devastated. They all must be. She was 29 years old.

Nobody knows yet why this happened ... but as a child she had some serious medical issues that I won't go into here, but they were serious and had long term aftereffects; I think it must be something to do with that. She can't have been feeling too bad yesterday, since she did go in to work ... she was a nurse, that's not a job where you can sit around relaxing in comfy chairs. So whatever bug she had can't have been too bad. It's a complete shock. It must be so dreadful for her family, having had no idea this might happen, and now not knowing what did happen. Of course they will find out ... she will be autopsied - another dreadful thought, but I know it must be done - and then we'll have some answers. That will bring some peace of mind, hopefully, but it won't change the fact that she's gone.

I knew her from when she was seven and I was twelve, or going on twelve. That's when her family moved into the house across the street from us. She has an older sister who is my age, we went to school together, she was my friend to start with. But we drifted apart, she moved away, and when we grew up, and the disparity in our ages no longer mattered much, Eva and I became friends. She was such a completely good person. There wasn't a malicious bone in her body. Life really isn't fair.

I feel so bad for her family, I don't have words ... Her parents must just be completely beside themselves. This is the worst thing that can happen to any parent. I don't think you can ever get over it. And her whole future that they had thought they would be a part of. In a strange way, the person I almost feel saddest for is her sister's little son. Because he's going to be missing out on what might well have been the funnest aunt ever. :-) He's so little still that he won't even remember her. I know that of course they will tell him all kinds of things about her. But he won't have any memories. He'll just know that one of his moms used to have a sister once. My heart just breaks for that little guy. For all of them.

Goodbye, Eva. I'll never forget you. I'll never forget the way you beat us all the first time you ever played Bohnanza. I'll never forget how you always said you had no idea what to get me for Christmas, but you always came up with something fun anyway. I'll never forget those fantastic one liners that would just pop out of you. I'll never forget your funny giggly laugh.

Thank you for being my friend. I'll never forget you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cake Wrecks nominee?

I am not a cake decorator. I am SO not a cake decorator. In fact I'm not even much of a baker. But sometimes I do bake. Like yesterday - I baked a chocolate cake for my coworker O.'s birthday. Which was today. He works so incredibly hard, puts in such a fantastic effort at work, and is almost always cheerful and smiling and willing to help out ... and I feel that he is sadly also really underappreciated. He's the kind of employee that ... you know, you don't really notice how much they actually do until they stop doing it. If he were to suddenly disappear from work without making any preparations - like say he went skiing and had an accident and broke both his legs - then I think we'd really be in trouble. But anyway.

Today was his birthday and I wanted to do something special for him. I already had a present ready (also chocolate - we have that in common ;-) but I wanted to bake a cake as well. I knew he would never in a million years expect me to do that, so he'd be really surprised and hopefully really happy. I baked it yesterday and brought it in to work without the icing. I put the icing on this morning after sneaking away upstairs with the cake without him noticing, and I also decorated it with a fun little message *cough* ... with sprinkles supposed to look like ice crystals, appropriate since we're totally covered in snow all over the place here. I tried my best.

Fortunately O. is totally on board with the idea that it's the thought that counts. Because I am so not a cake decorator. I mean, look at it. I started far too close to the center and wasn't able to figure out how much space I would need. Which, now I come to think of it, is exactly the same thing that happened last time I tried to decorate a cake! Sheesh. But yes, it is the thought that counts!!

I'm happy to report that he was able to tell what it said as soon as he saw it - HEIA OVE, which means 'go Ove!' (that being his name) - and then that's supposed to be a little smiley face at the top there. I didn't intend to put that there but there was such a huge expanse of emptiness that I just had to fill it up somehow. I know ...

When I brought it out he was super happy and totally surprised, and the cake tasted delicious. So it all worked out alright in the end. :-)

Oh, and Cake Wrecks is here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

'Feeling Minnesota' ATC

Again with the movies A-Z ATC swap series ... this time the letter F, for which I picked Feeling Minnesota by Steven Baigelman. It's what is usually called a quirky movie. Basically a perennial loser fresh out of jail (guess who) arrives back in his rundown home town just in time to see his white trash family at his brother's wedding. The bride is being forced into the marriage by some mafia guy she's tried to double cross, so she doesn't feel bad about ditching the older brother and running off with the ex-con on her wedding day. Now if only they had some money. What do you want to bet she knows where they can 'find' some ... ?

Yeah, the background of the ATC is a bunch of trash. If you've seen the movie, you'll know why I thought that seemed fitting. ;-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ESC 2011: Norway, final

Ooh ... !! Finally! (Sorry, no pun intended.) In just a couple of hours we know which song will enter history as one of the 42 songs that did not win the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. ;-) I'm pretty happy with the lineup this year - almost none of these songs will make me hang my head in shame if we send it. In fact there's only one that will make me do that ... which of course vastly increases that song's chances of winning. Alas. Fingers crossed for anyone but The Lucky Bullets tonight ... !!

Fantastic opening show ... !! Love it with all the familiar faces, and the fact that they're using Satellite as the music ... and that they're making fun of Alexander Rybak. And that he's part of it too. ;-) Very fun and very cool. :-) Rimmen's dress is nice but covers too much for my taste, and is too glittery. But that's just me. Maybe. ;-)

I've already blogged about all the entries, so I won't go into much detail in this post ... you can read the reviews of the quarter-finals here: 1, 2, 3.

Entry #1 - Vardlokk, performed by Helene Bøksle. Plus: Beautiful singer with a fantastic voice. Looks very Norwegian. Gorgeous dress, although of course that may change. ;-) Norwegian language. A lovely melody with real personality and an authentic Norwegian sound. Minus: May be too boring ... I mean understated, whatever. Reminiscent of Alvedansen, which was hardly a success. Doesn't create much energy in the audience, too low-key for that.

Entry #2 - Alt du vil ha, performed by Sie Gubba. Plus: Norwegian language. Not a bad melody. Also quite authentically Norwegian, though of a rather newer tradition. Minus: Not enough energy in the performance. Not a very memorable song, kind of boring.

Entry #3 - Depend On Me, performed by Babel Fish. Plus: Not at all a bad song. Professional performers. A nice subject for a song, a bit untraditional. Minus: Dull!! We've all heard this a thousand times before. Yes, they are the Babel Fish, but the whole point of Babel Fish is that they didn't make it abroad. It's pointless to send something that we think is fantastic but that is in reality seriously dull - we won't be able to vote for it! Way too standard, no personality, boring.

Entry #4 - Fire Below, performed by The Lucky Bullets. Plus: Nothing. Minus: Everything.

Entry #5 - Dance Tonight, performed by The BlackSheeps. Plus: The language - a mix of English, Norwegian and Sami. Charming performers who have already won ESC Jr. A catchy song, lots of energy on stage that transfers to the audience too. A fun entry with a good beat. It'd be a good gimmick to send a gang of Junior winners. Minus: THEY CAN'T SPELL!!!

Entry #6 - Haba haba, performed by Stella Mwangi. The big favorite tonight. Plus: Unusual entry - ethnic character usually goes down well. A very charming singer - she'll make you smile just by being there. A beautiful girl - that never hurts. ;-) A fantastic chorus that has the audience on its feet. A fun dance that's easy to learn, ie, a good gimmick. An energetic performance, lots of fun to watch. Minus: The verse is way too weak and shows up her voice, which isn't the strongest. It's the wrong kind of ethnic - not very smart to send a black girl to the international final (there are a lot of racists out there, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, you know who you are) but I'd be proud of sending her anyway. :-)

Entry #7 - Not That Easy, performed by Åste & Rikke. Plus: Two beautiful women with really good voices. An unusual song with personality & character. An interesting song. Minus: That hair is SO distracting! o_O The song is kind of unmelodious and takes a few listens to really get you.

Entry #8 - You're Like A Melody, performed by Hanne Sørvaag. Plus: A good melody. Sweet. A beautiful woman with an appealing voice. Looks stereotypically Norwegian. Minus: She seems strangely nervous. Very unbecoming dress. Extremely typical ESC entry, especially the lyrics. Not a lot of personality. (The song, I mean.)

And now - eight will become four ... ! The voting is over and the four highest scoring candidates will go on to the last round of the final. Who will they be?? My guess - definitely Mwangi and Babel Fish. I'm also hoping for Bøksle. The last I really don't know. The field is so even this year, there isn't really one obvious winner. To be honest, I'll be happy with anyone except those rockabilly douchebags.

I voted once for Mwangi and ... four or five times for Bøksle. I lost count. :-) But what I really wanted was to vote for Susperia ... !! Waaah!!

OK, let's hear it. First ... The BlackSheeps. OK, no surprise. I'm cool with that. Second ... Sie Gubba. Seriously? That's kind of a surprise. But like Anne Ida says, if we want the entry to reflect the general musical tastes of the average Norwegian, then this is definitely the song to send. :-D Third ... Stella Mwangi. Of course. :-) I love what Sundnes said to her - you shouldn't smile any wider now, your head will come apart. :-D She's so happy ... !! I really want her to win now, just because if she does she will be SO CRAZY HAPPY ... ! :-D Now, the fourth and final place (again, sorry about the lousy pun) ... The Lucky Bullets! WTF??!! AUGH!! So it's true, Norwegians are idiots!! >:-( Who voted for this shit?? I hate you guys so much right now.

Stella, save us!!! You're our only hope!!!!

AUGH ... !!! It's the runthrough of the four entries and I'm texting while it's on, and these hideous 50s throwbacks actually had me singing along to their atrocious song ... !! OH NOES!! They're brainwashing me! Augh!!

Stella, save us ... !!! :-o

I voted for her ten times. Fingers crossed ... !!!

The intermission ... Signe finds Mr Oslo, after a fruitless search among skiers ... and then the musical act, which I have to say is surprisingly unimaginative. It was so much more creative last Saturday. Weird. Gothic choir music morphs into a totally standard performance of My Heart Is Yours. Not impressive. But Didrik's got his hard t right, anyway.

And now - the votes! I'm so nervous!! STELLA!! Here's the voting setup - we've got both professional votes and televotes, plus the votes from the audience in the venue ...
there are four of the former ... the votes from the venue come first, that's about 7,000 votes distributed per person, and then one jury group each from the four towns that hosted the quarter-finals and the semi. Each 'town jury' has 20,000 votes to give out, in chunks of 2, 4, 6 and 8,000, respectively. Oh, I'm so nervous! Stella wins the venue, but it's pretty even between her and the bullets. Then the four towns ... there's no obvious favorite there ... but it's shaping up to a showdown between Stella and the BlackSheeps. Sarpsborg is the last town, and ... Stella's in the lead. YES!!

Ooh, Rimmen has a new dress. I didn't notice it till now. Gorgeous! :-D

Now the televotes - they are divvied up into two chunks, the first is from three parts of the country combined, the north, the west and the south. OMG nervous!!! But ... Stella will crush the others ... won't she?? YES!! She will!! She does!! YES!!!!

The last part of the televote, from the east country and Trøndelag. Sie Gubba are from Trøndelag, so they'll get a good bit of the votes here ... but they're dead last, so they'll get nowhere near enough. Not even to beat the Bullets. (As long as somebody beats them, that's all I ask.) OMG it's Stella!! She is TOTALLY the winner!! She totally beat everyone! Yay! :-D And she's soo happy ... she's crying and totally beside herself ... which won't help her already not very strong voice. But what are you going to do. :-D

OK, it's done, we've got our winner. I'm happy with this entry. No, it's not very Norwegian, and she's not a very good singer, but it's a fun song and a memorable entry. I likes it. :-) We can hold our heads up this year. But yeah, it's one of the 42 songs that will not win the 2011 ESC. :-D

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quote of the Week

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken

Congratulations, Egypt!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate postcards

By which I don't mean postcards made of chocolate - I wish!! ;-) These are Postcrossing cards I've gotten which feature one of the interests I've got listed on my profile - chocolate, mmm ...

From the Netherlands

From Belgium

From Finland

From Finland again

From Lithuania

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ALBANIA 2011 - Kënga ime

Some people think that the ESC is a very limited affair, that it's a couple of days in May and that's it. Nothing could be further from the truth!! The ESC of any given year starts in November/December of the preceding year, when the first competing countries announce the participants in their national contests. If you read this blog regularly you will have seen that we here in Norway start our selections in January. In only a few days we'll have our national final. Whee!! :-D However, we are not at all the first to choose our entry. In fact I should have posted reviews of several ESC entries already ... ! :-o Better late than never, I say.

Albania traditionally select their song very early, at the venerable Festivali i Këngës. They have been sending the winner of the FiK to the ESC - LOL! :-D - since they first started participating, in 2004. The Albanian entry for Düsseldorf was selected at Christmas - yes, they are way early. :-) I can't post a video of the winner here, I can't find one on Youtube that will let me embed it, but you can go here to see it. I'm not quite sure what I think of it. I'm underwhelmed. This song is kind of like the one that is the favorite to win here on Saturday ... the chorus is good, and gets the audience going, but the verse is just ... meh. This song gets off to a really slow start, and that's generally not good. And there isn't really much of a hook to it ... I've listened to it several times now but I couldn't hum it to save my life. It's rather unmelodious somehow. The singer I guess is good but I'm not a huge fan of her voice ... or her dress. Albania probably won't do very well this year, alas. :-(

But go see for yourselves. Aurela Gaçe performs Kënga ime - 'My Song' - by Shpëtim Saraçi and Sokol Marsi (who will probably transform their entry's Albanian lyrics into English by the time the song is submitted for EBU approval). They will be competing for Albania on Tuesday, May 10th. I don't think we'll be seeing them again on the 14th. But best of luck to them. :-)

Lyrics with translation here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Very good book

That I'm reading right now. Or, OK, listening to. Very well read by the actor Ron Silver. The Plot Against America, a novel by the relatively prolific American writer Philip Roth. It's the first time I've read anything by him, and I have to say it definitely won't be the last - this is a fantastic book. It's an alternate history kind of thing, set in a 1940s US where FDR didn't win his third term, but was defeated by Charles Lindbergh. Roth's Lindbergh character carries his real world counterpart's isolationist ideas over into politics, makes a deal with Hitler, and allows antisemitism to proliferate. The main characters are a Jewish family in Newark, based on Roth's own personal history. It's really fascinating. He brings it all to life so well. And he highlights something very important - something we all should keep in mind.

An elected government that wishes to turn the state it governs fascist, does not at any point have to take any single action that a reasonable citizen cannot accept and agree with.

My phrasing ... I hope it makes sense. Also hope you will read this book. :-)

Speaking of wonderful writers, I hope you've all caught the amazing Google logo today!! As I'm sure you all realized immediately ;-) it's in honor of the birthday of the one and only Jules Verne. Rockin'. :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

'The Gift' ATC

Another ATC from the Movies A-Z series ... for the letter G I chose The Gift by Sam Raimi. A wonderful movie and one of Keanu's best performances. Seriously something you really have to see if you've missed it. And something anyone's who wants to slam Keanu as an actor has got to see ... if you haven't, then any fan should feel free to totally discount your opinion. >:-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

'Følelser og fornuft'

If Jane Austen were alive today, she ought to sue TVNorge for copyright infringement. But as it is, the fact that she has no descendants is immaterial, the copyright has expired. Alas.

I really don't intend to fill the blog up with TV reviews, but I just have to post about this show. I'm watching it right now, it started a little less than ten minutes ago. It's a six part series about one of the most bullshit ideas out there - Thought Field Therapy, TFT. I have no idea how they're going to stretch this out into six hour-long episodes ... I don't think it's worth five minutes of air time. But this is what you get with commercial television - whatever bullshit the viewers think they want, that's what these people will serve up. And I'm sure I don't need to tell any of my Norwegian readers that TVNorge is by far the worst offender there.

Anyway ... this is IMO where TV, which can be a great thing education- and entertainment-wise, but is most often what we may call neutral, crosses the line and becomes actively dangerous. And this doesn't just apply to Norwegian TV ... in fact I think that in a lot of other countries, the situation is significantly worse. The fact is that people are idiots. Individual persons can be intelligent and knowledgeable, yes (so please don't take that statement personally). This does not change the fact that people are idiots. Our school system is nowhere near as good as it ought to be and our current media reality encourages dumbness and ignorance. Argh. Don't get me started. Back to the point.

People know too little and understand less, so what they need is correct information and, above all, help to sort and interpret the information they do get. That is where TV shows like this one are dangerous and actively harmful. They fill the viewers' minds with bullshit and present it like there's something in it ... we may not be able to say exactly what yet, but there must be something, because you can see for yourself that it's working. Oy vey.

There are soo many alternative therapies out there, and they are more and less bullshit, but TFT definitely belongs in the complete & utter bullshit box. It's not really based on anything, the guy who invented it just pulled it out of his ass. You can read a description of it on Wiki, here. All serious research that has been done on it shows zero effect beyond placebo. No wonder, since it has no relation to anything in reality. TFT is a global movement and its practitioners and supporters are engaging in a number of repulsive and immoral practices around the world, particularly in developing countries. You should read up on it, it's really disgusting. >:-(

The major TFT guru here in Norway is the star of the TV show, Mats J Uldal - who at one time wrote an ... interesting email to my friend Gunnar, which you can read here. It's a feast of altie BS, and Gunnar of course tore it to metaphorical shreds on his blog. AFAIK he never heard anything more from Uldal after that. Gee, what a surprise.

So, what is wrong with this show, specifially? Well, just looking at this one episode (since it's the first, I obviously haven't seen more than the one) ... here's a list.

They are obviously looking to prove that this actually works. However, there is nothing in the show beyond anecdotal evidence - in fact, the entire show is all about creating anecdotes. o_O Scientifically speaking, this is entirely worthless.

Uldal gets way more screen time than the two opponents that have been allowed to speak, and he is also presented in a much more appealing setting than the two of them. They did a good job though, in the little time they got.

Uldal also gets away with using meaningless altie language - like when he's asked what kind of person this usually works best on, and he says that it tends to work really well on people who are ... what did he say again ... 'more open to the energies'. WTF? That is a meaningless statement, it means nothing ... ! and the reporter, or whatever she is, just sits there and lets him get away with it.

Pretty much no critical questions are asked of him. He is not asked to confront the total lack of evidence for TFT, and none of the despicable practices carried out by the TFT movement.

There are very few critical questions asked of the participants, even when they lay themselves extremely open to them. The first one is asked in the follow-up session whether she still uses the technique - this after saying that she is practically cured of her crippling fear of needles - and says no, because it's too complicated. And why does she think she is so much better? Oh, it's all TFT, totally, pretty much no question. Wait, what? She just said she doesn't use TFT. And this calls itself journalism, I shouldn't be surprised.

Even when the reporter does ask somewhat critical questions, she still clearly steers them in a supportive direction. Leading questions are not good journalism.

There is no explanation of what constitutes evidence for a treatment, or how we should go about acquiring such evidence.

These are some of the really obvious flaws in this show, which I will gladly admit has lowered my respect, if that's the word I want, for this channel a further few notches. Especially when I think of what a six-part TV series about could have been. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

And when I see that in the next episode, one of the 'patients' will be a celebrity - a popular and respected actress - I really don't know what to say.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

ESC 2011: Norway, semi-final

Welcome to beautiful Sarpsborg ... !! *cough*

Great dress tonight!! :-D

The setup: four sets of 'duels' where two entries face off against each other and we, the audience, vote for our favorites in each duel. The winners face off again and we vote, until we're left with two entries that will fill the two empty slots in next week's final. Couldn't be simpler, right? :-D

I already blogged my so-called thoughts on each song, so you can go back to the previous entries if you're interested in the details ... the entries are usually pretty much identical from the quarter-finals to the semi. Quarter-finals here: 1 - 2 - 3.

Duel #1: Use Me vs Pernille & Marius. I don't really want either of these to get through, and I don't think they will, but one of them has to get through the duel, at least. I'm betting on Use Me ... they're almost local boys, from Moss. People tend to always do better on their home court in this contest. Both these entries are crap and I hope to never hear either of them again. Bah, humbug!!1

Yep, Use Me won this duel. Good for them. At least that song has the 'gimmick' of them being so young and whatnot ... the other song just has absolutely nothing to recommend it.

Duel #2: Sie Gubba vs Mimi Blix. I'm betting on Blix for this one. The guys have a good song as far as that goes - although I'm not at all sure that it's right for the ESC - but they're just too nice and easy. If it was DDE playing this it would pack so much more of a wallop ... not that I'm a fan of theirs, but it would have been memorable on a totally different level. Also, considering that further east there are a lot of young people who watch the show and send their votes, Blix has that demographic pretty much locked down compared to the guys. She also has a lot more energy in her performance. Neither of these have the chance to win internationally, but of the two, Blix is the lesser of two evils.

But Sie Gubba won! OMG! There may be an advantage to being first in the duel ...

Duel #3: Gatas Parlament vs The Lucky Bullets. The former turning up again as this year's joker, damn them. Argh! I hate both of these. Why can't I send minus points?? >:-( Two stupid annoying songs ... the first is stupid first and annoying second, the other is annoying first and stupid second. But in this connection I think I prefer annoying. Hate them both though.

The Lucky Bullets went through. Whew. But fingers crossed that they will be beaten out in the second round.

Duel #4: Endre vs Susperia. Ooh, Susperia! Time to send off my first vote. It MUST be Susperia!! Just because ... and because them vs the Bullets ought to be just no contest. I hope there aren't a lot of stupid teenage girls voting right now ... because Oh Oh (Puppy Love) is just annoying and wouldn't stand a chance in Düsseldorf, but stupid teenage girls wouldn't get that. Fingers crossed for Susperia!

They're playing really well tonight, their first performance last week was just a fluke, technical differences and what have you. Fingers crossed. I voted three times for them. My civic duty done. :-)

Susperia wins!! Yay! Yay and wahey!! :-D

Second round - interestingly, there are only groups left now. No solo performers, only groups. Well, statistically speaking, it is easier for groups to win internationally than solo singers. But still, kind of weird. And it's all men, that kind of sucks ... but Use Me's singer sounds like a girl, so ... o_O

Duel #1: Use Me vs Sia Gubba. I prefer the latter here. They at least have some Norwegian-ness about them ... the teenyboppers could be from anywhere and have no national character to them. This is typically the kind of song that disappears without trace in the international final. Sie Gubba are sounding better now that in the first round. But still, this is just totally the wrong kind of song. I do hope they are the ones who get through though. I think their chances ought to be pretty good.

Duel #2: The Lucky Bullets vs Susperia. I cannot believe that there's any contest whatsoever here. Seriously. Go Susperia!!!

Intermission - Signe Tusvik finds Mr Sarpsborg, good choice, the principal of one of the elementary schools. :-) Musical act - FANTASTIC - Maria Haukaas Mittet and Wig Wam perform a totally different version of In My Dreams ... wow!! A ballad version, so cool. :-D She is dressed in a very innocent white lacey dress, and he's in a kind of Hollywood vampire costume ... looks great. In My Dreams with elements of Hold On Be Strong ... The Phantom of the Opera ... and she's got lots of different costumes on underneath her white dress, fantastic!! :-D I love this. So cool. But what are they going to do next Saturday to top this?? :-D

And now, finally, the results. Fingers crossed! OK, first ... Sie Gubba. No surprises. They won't win, but the song's not bad. Second ... the metal guys are so nervous, the lead singer can't even look up. :-D Let's have it. WTF?? The Lucky Bullets!!? OH NOES!!! Damn the Norwegian television public!!! What's wrong with you people?? This is down to all the old folks in this country who watch this show and can't think strategically. DAMN IT!!


Friday, February 4, 2011

The 10:23 Campaign

I should have blogged about this sooner ... kind of too late now since the event is tomorrow, but there you go. I'm sure there'll be a repeat next year, so you'll just have to remember it till then. :-) Basically, to sum it up, I'm going to be taking an overdose tomorrow. You can read all about it here. A little something quoted:

What is homeopathy?
Ask many people what they think homeopathy is and you'll be told "it's herbal medicine" or "it's all-natural".

Actually, it is neither of these. Few people realise that homeopathy involves diluting substances so much that there's literally nothing left in them.

Homeopathy is an unscientific and absurd pseudoscience, which persists today as an accepted form of complementary medicine, despite there never having been any reliable scientific evidence that it works.

The 10:23 Campaign
The 10:23 Campaign aims to raise awareness about the reality of homeopathy. We will tell you how it can be shown not to work, why homeopaths' claims are impossible, why you should care.

The campaign is organised by the Merseyside Skeptics Society, a non-profit organisation for the promotion of scientific skepticism.

The coordinator for the event here in Oslo is my fellow podcaster Kristin Carlsson - you can read about it on her blog, here. Also an interesting post on the Skepsis blog, here.

And speaking of the podcast, we recorded a new episode today, with an interesting guest, Asbjørn Dyrendal. So keep an eye out for that. :-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More turtle fury

I posted some pictures of an angry Raphael a few weeks ago ... and then some more the day before yesterday. As you may recall. :-) He is just so cute when he's angry. Now here he is again - this time in moving pictures! :-D I mentioned that he gets angry with inanimate objects sometimes, like the camera ... which he is seen here attacking. Aww, what a cutie. ;-)

Widescreen here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Classy souvenirs

I'm sure such things exist, but alas, the majority of typical souvenirs are somewhat less than stylish. There are levels of crap, though ... I mean, some things may not be what you'd keep in display cases in your living room but still be alright, while others ... well.

Rekestolen?? No, there is a P there ... look closely ...

I used to always think it was called Gol church, but I see that I've been mistaken - it seems to be called Stave church. You learn something new every day. ;-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Moods of the red eared slider: Annoyance

I really wish you wouldn't stick that thing in my face right now ...

You're starting to piss me off ...

I said stop it ... !!