Monday, February 28, 2011
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
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.
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. :-)
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.
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
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
Translation: the men's 30 kilometer pursuit at Sunday noon is sold out. :-D
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
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
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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
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 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
Thursday, February 17, 2011
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
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
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
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. ;-)
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
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
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. :-)
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
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 alt.med. 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 alt.med. 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
Friday, February 4, 2011
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
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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. ;-)