Friday, August 31, 2007

In keeping with the geography theme

More answers on geography and other topics from the streets of US of A. Note especially that there is a widespread opinion of france being high on the list of countries to attack in order to end the war on terror.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I harbour no illusions that a sample like this would have given significantly better answers in Norway, seeing as how the point here obviously is to select entertainment.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Up, up and...

..home? So all good things must pass, and tomorrow I'm leaving Crete. It's been two great weeks, but now it's time to head home for rain and bills...

So anyway, I just wanted to say that any spelling errors, weird posting and nasty comments (I'm really a people's person...) is due to a small screen on my cell phone or Greek layout on the keyboard and blog, and is totally unintentional from me*.

Hopefully, the forest fire on mainland Greece doesn't case any delays in the flight back home.
- A
*Except those comments about the frenchies. Those are very intentional. ;-)

Dumb and dumberer

Even though it sucks being the Republican Senator who's strongly opposed to gay marriage yet gets caught trying to solicit sex from a cop at an airport bathroom, it probably doesn't rule being a living blow-up doll/Miss Teen USA from the great state of South Carolina either:

There's no such thing... a free dinner

What you have to pay in exchange is not worth it

Few good career moves are made in airport bathrooms

Senator Larry Craig (R) of Idaho has been in a great bit of trouble lately, in which he is basically being accused of having pulled a George Michael. Being charged with alleged lewd conduct in a public restroom in the presence of a law officer, that is.

The salacious details here of course lie in the fact that as a staunch Republican, Sen. Craig has voted against same sex marriage, but now he finds himself "accused of being gay". And that's the problem, because his "defense" is to go out in public and deny that he is gay, not to say that he's sorry for breaking the law.

If you read the arrest report found in the link, you can see that the evidence is less than overwhelming, and yet his Republican colleagues do nothing to support him, but rather exclaim that this is a serious matter. The Senator has plead guilty to the charges, so that leaves two options. Either he's A) getting in trouble for having broken the law, or B) he's catching seven shades of hell for being a gay senator. Those are quite fundamentally different things, and I sincerely hope that the answer is alternative A, although knowing a little bit about the conservative American culture..........

No matter what his sexual orientation might be, I'm sure he'll think twice before trying to get any action in a public restroom, though.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Riding the storm least breaking the waves and facing the wind. But the title of the same Running Wild song sounds way cooler, so I'm rolling with that. One of the highlights on being on vacation in Sogn og Fjordane is cruising the fjord. In a boat, believe it or not. Given the well-known fact that I've got about the same stomach for being on the sea as a hung-over dude from Nebraska who just started his day with a quart of rancid olive oil and a large portion of the Tandoori surprise (ya know; the kind where the "surprise" hits you about half an hour after the meal), one would not imagine that I'd actually enjoy being on a boat. But there's a loop hole.

If I'm exposed to "normal", rolling waves, I'm pretty much screwed. My friends from Averøya still recite the legendary tale of me getting beyond sea sick on the 22nd of December 1992 less than two hundred meters after the boat left the pier in Kristiansund. Way before being even close to hitting open waters. The fact that I've gotten sea sick five meters from the pier whilst being at the oars of a rowboat on a quiet day in a calm arm of Sognefjorden is also fast establishing me as a maritime wuss of epic proportions. Needless to say, episodes such as the above have made me reconsider my ambition to become a pirate. Calm sea just doesn't work for me. Still, for some unknown reason, I've got nada problems if there is more action, and the boat is jumping and crashing into waves. That's just gravy, and I'm lovin' it.

Sognefjorden is just beautiful, as can be seen from the above pictures, and it's impossible not to get an extraordinary sense of well-being in an environment like that. The mind works in mysterious ways, and for me, experiences and places are interconnected with pieces of music. Every single time I've been on Sognefjorden, I hear the song "Candlelight Fantasia" by Symphony X playing in my mind. Check it out if ya get a chance.

We'll go back again next summer for sure.

New trends in head garment, the leather varity

On several requests, I'm posting this review of "what's hot and what's not", to quote fashion icon Paris Hilton, so here comes a brief review.

First of, we have the standard black cap, with either pilot, sheriff or police badge. This one proudly features the pilot wings. As I understand it, this on out of style. It just screams so 2005.

Next one, is the more subtle black cap with a button on top, popular among the cherry coke drinkers, but this one is just as fashionable on a Kir Royal party. Just stay away from the canei, and you'll be fine.

For the more daring ones, we have the leather beanie, which will fit right in when you after the sauna.
And at last, the always stylish leather cap with the steel chain. Right in so many ways, so wrong in so many other.
I openly admit that I don't have a clue about any head garment, so I'm hoping for some help on this one...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

National versus local politics

Since I'm apparently in a political frame of mind...

Even though the upcoming election is for local/regional government only, all you see in media is the big-shot national politics, like the leaders for the major parties. The only time you'll see local politicians getting proper headlines is if they screw up beyond what's reasonable to expect for someone presumably not on crack, like the former mayor of Oslo, Per Ditlef Simonsen. Even in the supposedly local debates, they fly in the big names to do the job for the representative parties. Is that really conducive to informing the voters about the standpoint of local politicians?

I understand that there's no way the upcoming election would get any national media attention if only local politicians were featured, but it's still kind of messed up. Also, at least here in Trondheim, there was absolutely no campaigning from any party before mid August, and with the election date being September 10th, that doesn't leave a lot of time. So; when the election is treated like a pre-game, how does that affect voter turnout? And democracy, for that matter?

Stop! Hammer and sickle time!

According to the latest poll here in Trondheim, Arbeiderpartiet (Labour party) and SV ("Socialist" left wing) combined would get 45% of the votes (as of Friday). Of the 45%, Arbeiderpartiet polls at 39%.

This is historically and statistically bad news for the likes of me should the predictions hold. Traditionally, this type of regime - you know; the form of government starting with a "c" and ending with the fall of the Iron Curtain - is prone to setting people with higher education to work in rice fields.

No es bueno......


...I get an e-mail from (so far so good) about some help or whatever. In French (sorry, french). What's up with that? Are the frenchies really taking over this blog anyway?

Old and dirty money in Hoeyre

So, Per Ditlev(P Diddy?)-Simonsen resigned as mayor in Oslo, after a couple of days deliberation. Could he really have done anything different, except coming to the conclusion sooner?

Anyway, most people agrees that this means a huge blow for Høyre in the upcoming election. Even if P Diddy wasn't up for election; he was finishing his term in a couple of weeks anyway.

However, it will be more interesting to see if this have an impact on the election in the rest of the country. Even if local politics usually differs quite a bit form the national. Parties in opposition in Stortinget can work together in both the smaller and larger cities. So, has P Diddy ruined the election for Høyre across the country? My guess is that Oslo are screwed, and probably the other large cities. But I believe that Høyre can still do a good election in the smaller communities, where the politicians might be closer to the voters. I mean if Djupedal isn't able to sink SV, I think Høyre can ride off the storm after P Diddy.

Trouble in paradise

So apperantly there is a huge number of forest fires in Greece. According to the news (I had to check the Norwegian papers, since I can't read Greek and the hotel hasn't informed us), this is quite serious, and probably due to arson. However, I did see some fire helicopters tanking in the sea outside of us a couple of days ago. Be they were gone after two days. As I understand it, the situation is worse around mainland Greece. Hopefully we won't see any of these here at Crete.

Edit: After further reading, it seems that things are just getting worse. The Greek government has offered an reward on 1.000.000 euro for the catch of the arsons. So far, it seems that no fires has started on Crete, as I understand it.

Three books...

...bought at the local supermarkets on the outskirts of Agia Marina, Crete
(anybody got any more books for that list?). So I left my newly acquierd
reading material for this vacation on my kitchen table and hence was forced to find
suitable reading down here (the collected works of Ari Behn will have to wait.
Thanks for the recommendation, W.)

The criteria I had for selecting the books, was that be easy to read (i.e., kids
interupting so I have to be able to read half a page at the time, without
loosing track of the story), no western or drama/lovestory (had a bunch of
Danielle Steel books which I immidiatly disqualified) and they had to be in
English or Norwegian (don't understand a word of Greek, wasn't in the mood for
Swedish or Danish, my German vocabulary are barely enough to understand an easy
childrens book, and any book in french sounds like a slightly gay erotic novel). So with that in mind, I choose the following:

John Grisham - The Summons
Basically I chose this because it's by a well know writer, and crime books are
usually a genre I read in my holidays.

And I admit that this was jackpot at first try. I really enjoyed this book,
and would recommend it to anybody looking for an easy read and exiting crime.

First of all it's very well written, and the charaters are presented in a easy
understandable order. And this is not an who-murder-and-how crime. In fact,
there isn't a murder, or even a real criminal act in the whole book.

The book is about Ray Atlee, a law professor in the south states, which is the son of a
small town judge. He chose to take the position as a professor rather then to
take over his fathers seat as a judge. This is one of the reasons why the
relationship between father and son hasn't been the best for several years. Ray Atlee also have brother, an alcholic and drug abuser which never been able
to hold a job. Needless to say, that father-son relationship wasn't too good

When the judge dies, Ray finds a stack of money in his fathers
belongings. The book is about the quest to find out where this money comes from,
if they are legit or not and how this huge pile of money affects the professor.

It doesn't sound too exciting, but it is. Don't want to give away too much of
the story for those who wants to read it.

Scott Turdow - Presumed Innocent.
This is a more conventional crime/ thriller book, with a murder. Basically a
female lawyer at the State Prosecutor's office is found murdered, and deputy district
attorny Rusty B... is put in the charge of the investigation. It's an OK book,
but there are some things that annoy me about it:
- It takes about 1/3 of the book before things start to get interessting. I
nearly put down the boot after 75 pages.
- A lot of people are introduced at the beginnig of the book. Many are really
not a part of the story.
- Most story takes place in the court room, Matlock style. I prefer this on TV/
movie rather then in a book.
- The non-chronolgical beginning the book doesn't work for me.

An alright read, which manage to hide who the killer was by shifting my
suspicion between several charaters. But a slow start, the court room setting
and a bit messy introdution of the characters pulls down an otherwise excellent

Brian Churck - Learn Greek in 25 Years - A Crash Course for the Linguistically Challenged
Ok, I just had to buy this when I saw the sales pitch on the front: "Best seller - 20000 idiots can't be wrong".
It even have a garantee: "Perfect Greek by 2029... Or your money back.", with
the disclaimer: "This offer doesn't apply to people who bought the book". A man
after my heart.

So, this book (or should we say booklet?) is a collection of 25 lessons from
Brian Church's weekly column in Athens News. The author openly admits that he
doesn't speak, write, read or even remotely recognise the language (told you
he's a man after my heart). But it's more a humorus view on Greece, the greek
language and people. And he really manages to make fun of a lot of other nations
(Spania, USA, England, Turkey to name a few) and even his readers:

"The more astaute readers will have noticed the feminine form of the adjective.
My less astute readers will not."

Reading this book on a Greek island and experiening first hand a lot of the
things he talks about (e.g. busses, roads and toilets) surely makes me biased.
But it's a hillarious book, beginning with the dedication "To my father, David
C. Church, who taught me how to laugh, worry and write (turn the page over) and
(here he has two pages packed with names, including "all past members of Hams,
Hellenic Amateur Musical Society, sorry for calling you the musical wing of
Hamas")... all of whom, except Uncle Stewart, promise to buy this book if I
dedicated it to them".

But back to the lessons. Could you actually learn something from them? Probably
not, unless you allready have basic knowledge to Greek. Church uses Greek
letters when spelling words, but he almost never say anything on how they are
pronounced. He gives a translation on all the Greek words, but I wouldn't trust
them too much. As there, when he explains the days of the week:

"As for Sunday (n Kvpiakń) itself, this his obvious religious connections such
as O Kvpioc, (the Lord), kvpiakátika (Sunday's best, meaning clothes) a'
kuvotpóφoc (dog-fancier). Friends say my examples can quickly get quite weak.
I think they're jealous."

I'm going to start to use the term "dog-fancier" more often in my daily
conversation. Especially if it's work related.

I would recommend this book to anybody who have likes Greece and have a sense of
humor. It's not often I laugh out loud when I'm read, but I did with this book.

(Note: I haven't got a clue on how to get greek letters on this blog, so the spelling for the examples are way of.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vh1 Rocks

..literally.....this show alone is well worth subscribing to the channel.

Where else can you see classic hard rock/metal videos like "Rock'N Roll Children", "The Last In Line" (both Dio, dontcha' know), Spanish Castle Magic (Yngwie Malmsteen's Live version from Leningrad), "Days Of No Trust" (Magnum) etc., in addition to all the cool 80's pop/rock music videos from Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Huey Lewis and the News, Dire Straits, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Wham, Peter Cetera, and whatnot.

Really a nostalgia kick, and lots of great music too.

Gulliver's travels - journal entry

Since we switched gyms from a more competitive bodybuilder/fitness/strongman/powerlifting type place to 3T, there's been a marked change in the demographics, or milieu, if you will. I use the latter term knowing full and well that saying it out loud or admitting that you know what it means can get your ass kicked many a place (except in france or parts of Canada).

Grammatical digression: Did y'all know that capitalization applies to almost every country, with the notable exception of france? Apparently this even applies when the word is at the beginning of a sentence, and it also applies to inhabitants of said country.

Anyway. I've read somewhere that 75% of people who lift weights suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). You'll just have to take my word for it, since I'm too lazy to look up the original reference, but I'm sure I've read that somewhere. Hopefully it was in a reputable source like Sports Medicine and not the same place I read that 79.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot. Interestingly, the word analysis is derived from the root anal and the word ysis, which roughly translates into "to pull from". But I digress, as people say when they're injecting non-related inane trivia into a conversation in order to appear smart. A better alternative would be to wear glasses.

Back to the poor, downtrodden BDD victims, i.e. 75% of people who work out with weights. The BDD comes to light in two varieties - 1: the illusion of being way smaller than what is the case, or 2: the illusion of being a brutal, legendary monster of epic proportions despite the fact that a lightpost has broader shoulders. From these two BDD varieties, a number of common archetypes can be distinguished:

Multiple sweatshirt-guy
Typically someone with a decent build who wears layers and layers of clothes to appear bigger.

Lunchbox with juice
Ample gentleman who mistakes fat for muscle, and is on more cycles than a Tour De France contestant. Extremely occupied by how much he can lift, and tries to raise as much attention as possible when he lifts.

Chest, delts and biceps posse
Typically teenagers who roll at least deuce deep and does bench press three times a week and always on Mondays, dammit. High guido-factor, with spiky hair, tank tops and chains. Often sporting the male equivalent of a tramp stamp/shoulder dolphin - the tribal band tattoo across one of their "arms". Always try to call as much attention to themselves as possible when they lift - ya know; to impress da ladies. Their lifts are team efforts - when one guy benches, another stands behind and does a bent-over row/shrug (they refer to this as a "spot"), while any remaining training partner shouts slogans like "Yeah buddy", "Light weight", "Ain't nuthin' but a peanut", "All you", "Bring da pain", "Push it to da max", etc. If da posse only rolls deuce deep, the glorious burden of the slogan-chanting role falls on the "spotter". Despite none of them ever weighing more than 75 kilos soaking wet, it's not uncommon that they're on gear. After hoisting the assisted 80-kilo bench press, they celebrate by patting each other's shoulders and high-fiving, while exclaiming how easy that lift went - "could'a easily done ten kilos more". Yeah; with two more spotters.

No full-length mirror guy
Dude who works only upper body, as signified by the skinny poles posing as his legs. Overall appearance is a little bit like an apple on two toothpicks.

Stickman in tank top-guy
The most obvious type 2 BDD example. Walks around in small tank top with hyooge invisible lats/invisible suitcases, strikes hardcore poses in mirror so as to show off his "massive" arms or pulls up shirt/tank top to reveal a legendary 4-pack. All of 85 kilos when wearing a 15 kilo backpack, yet the image greeting him in the mirror makes Dorian Yates ca. 1993 look like your garden variety Bangkok ladyboy. Often juices, but progress is severely hampered by epic lack of training and nutrition know-how.

The "I used to be bigger than you"-guy
Typically - but not always - an older guy who'll walk up to you and start some long-winded story about how he used to be bigger than you and lift more weights, but now he's either too old or has conveniently lost interest in "looking like that" or "lifting heavy", as they have invariably moved on to nobler leisure activities. But back in the day, he was a monster to behold. Mariusz Pudzianowski ain't got nothing on this character. And the fact that people like that approach you with the singular purpose of describing how they used to be bigger and/or stronger at an earlier point in time somehow fails spectacularly in convincing me that they "just don't care anymore".

Skinny, paranoid guy
Skinny, often short twerp with a chip on his shoulder who walks around in the belief that he is the epitome of fitness and the grecian ideal - a genetic marvel, so consequently anyone carrying more muscles must be on stereoids. This, combined with SDS (short dude syndrome) - probably brought on by the anger of being held down by gravity all these years - makes for a really unhappy character.

There are other stereotypes as well, like "Shadow boxing guy" and "Creepy midlife crisis guy", but these are tales for another time. I'm not even gonna talk about the female versions of BDD you'll find in any gym, or about the baby mama drama characters from way back in NC. I'll let someone else incur the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dances some more with dinosaurs

In a recent study by scientists at the University of Manchester, computer models calculated the top speeds for five meat-eating dinosaurs in a study, and concluded that the smallest dinosaur could reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour and even the lumbering Tyrannosaurus rex would have been able to outrun most modern-day sportsmen. Which brings us to the title of the piece on CNN - T-rex could outrun David Beckham.

Good to know - I've spent many a restless night tossing and turning in the search for the answer to this question. Ditto for the age-old conundrum of how many pancakes can fit in a wheelbarrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dances with dinosaurs

.....could've been a movie with Kevin Costner from a few years back if the hardcore creationists had their way.

Recently I found a blurb in Dagbladet about a creation museum built in Kentucky to the tune of 27 M USD. The museum is owned and operated by the organization Answers in Genesis, which also publishes the wonderful Answers Magazine: Building a Biblical Worldview. These links are pure genious - with lead-ins like "For many years the notion that non-coding DNA was not functional (“junk”) actually inhibited science. More complexity than previously thought reveals the awesomeness of our Creator God." I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried - I am floored by their "awesomeness".

But I digress - back to the museum. Of course, the premise is that the world was created in six days, some time between 6000 and 10 000 years ago. Nothing new there; a disturbing number of US schools even teach this as an alternative to evolution. The cool part is that this organization fully merges the concept of dinosaurs with their - and I'm using the widest possible definition of the word - philosophy. So what does that get you? Dinosaurs lived side by side with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The museum contains several exhibitions demonstrating this fact, including dinosaurs propped up with saddles for riding, etc.

While I am all for questioning established wisdom - which is the only way to advance our collective knowledge - and testing the theoretical framework thus either strengthening or disproving it, Karl Popper style, there is no way good, adequate, halfway decent or even "not entirely crappy" science comes from molding your data after a pre-conceived conclusion. The fact that organizations such as these can scrape the bottom of the academic pool and gather a flock of scientists - presumably the ones who weren't competent enough to be snapped up by tobacco industry to show that smoking is harmless - to front some factual credibility is downright depressing.

I respectfully decline the invitation to join your hallucination.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

School year kick-off

Tomorrow the students come-a-rollin, washing over campus like a great big wave of tabula rasa. At least that's what we fear is the result of reforms in the public school at high-school and previous levels.

And so the debate of how useful humanities studies are compared to engineering studies starts in the local media. Like clockwork.

The fact that no new arguments emerge from either side from year to year does not seem to discourage the combattants. Isn't repeating the same process and expecting different results the very definition of insanity?

Back in the day

Whenever you've lived somewhere for an extended period of time, there are people, places and things you're gonna miss when you move. Unless you really hated living there, that is. Of course; the fact that you've moved on suggests that all things considered, the move was an overall improvement.
A comprehensive list of what I miss from the time we lived in North Carolina would include (in no particular order):
  • Our US friends, obviously. Granted, many of them have moved on from Raleigh and NC, but still.
  • The climate - being able to wear shorts in November, 38 degrees Celsius and 98% humidity in summer.
  • Dark, hot summer nights with the sound of crickets.
  • Thunderstorms
  • Crabtree Valley Mall and other LARGE shopping centers
  • Target and Best Buy
  • Papa John's and Domino's pizza in Raleigh/Cary, plus Pepper's Pizza on East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
  • Ruby Tuesday's and similar places where you can get proper burgers, steaks and hot buffalo wings with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Chili's for approximately the same reason.
  • Olive Garden for proper Italian food - i.e. American style. You know; with toppings, and fillings and actual meat.
  • Getting free refills of soft drinks at restaurants
  • Beef and broccoli on the meny at Chinese restaurants.
  • New York strip steak
  • Proper ginger ale and cherry coke
  • GNC and decent MRP bars and drinks
  • Guitar mentioned in an earlier post
  • Lake Johnson, with it's beautiful trails, it's turtles and it's bird life
  • The freedom to shop on Sundays
  • Our kick-ass blue Buick Regal with a hyooge engine and automatic transmission - I must confess I miss this at times. Also the red Chrysler LeSabre convertible we had before that one.
  • All the squirrels on campus
  • The fact that US most universities are equipped with a nice, clearly defined campus area, like NC State....
  • Cashiers at grocery stores aren't snotty, and you can get your groceries bagged.
  • You can go to a grocery store at 2 AM if you want to. A proper store like Harris-Teeter, Food Lion or Lowe's Foods - not just some 7-Eleven or hopped-up gas station.
  • Super-motivated students and beyond competitive co-workers
  • Gallon jugs of milk and soda. 'Cause the less contact the liquid has with the container, the better the taste.
  • Awesome lo-fat products that actually taste good. Yes; even mayo
  • Nick at Nite and the concept of TV marathons
  • Hearing American voices and dialects all around you
  • American voices on Cartoon Network. Johnny Bravo, Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory don't do nothin' for me with the Norwegian voice-overs.
  • Going out to lunch
  • Gated apartment community with swimming pool and air conditioning. Also; one where there are recycling bins for paper, plastic and metal within 25 meters of each apartment.
  • Hoagies, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme donuts. You ain't tasted donuts unless you've had Krispy Kremes...
  • Teriyaki flavored products......
  • Radio talk shows to start your morning. Proper ones, like the one Bill & Sheri does on Mix 101.5 in Raleigh, NC.
  • WWE on the television...I know; totally a guilty pleasure
  • Comedy Central, so one can get to see proper stand-up routines.
  • Sci-Fi channel, for all that vintage stuff you thought you'd forgotten. Yeah, yeah; nerd is me and whatnot.
  • The fact that you can drive to your right in an intersection if there's no oncoming traffic even if there's a red light.
  • The parking spaces...
  • The fact that it looks exactly like in movies
  • Borders book stores, where you can sit down in a couch and leaf through the books, or get a coffee.
  • Thanksgiving dinners at the local diner, where the community gathers. Awesome.
  • The decorations around the holidays - Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco De Mayo, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

..and probably lots more that I can't think of at the moment.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bringing teh funny

Some thoughts about vacation...

So, when on holiday it's nice to experience something new, but on the other hand, some things you like to stay the same. So imagine the joy I felt when I saw that I could get my deodorant at the local shop here in Crete.

My first thought when I saw this: How the h#ll are the target consumer group for this product? Men that are really insecure about their sexuality? Men who have problem separating which cosmetics and clothes for meant men and women? (Ok, with all the pink and pastell fashion for men, I can see the point on the clothes part...)

Ok, I lied. My first thought was: I got to get this up on the m-factor blog. My second thought was the one above...

The Eiffel Tower is way overrated least according to the Telegraph, which reports that the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are the two most disappointing sights/tourist spots around the world.

Cognitive dissonance in effect

During last nights televised debate between Arbeiderpartiet's (Labour party) Jens Stoltenberg and Fremskrittspartiet's Siv Jensen, the two parties dragged along mayoral poster children from cities where the respective parties are doing a bang-up job of creating wealth, prosperity, brotherly love and what have you. Fremskrittspartiet picked the mayor of Stranda, a quite wealthy community where there is about zero joblessness and thriving businesses (furniture, Pizza Grandiosa) - quite an obvious choice to sugarcoat the results of their politics.

Arbeiderpartiet chose Trondheim................

One of the things mayor Rita Ottervik bragged about, was how fantastic the elderly are treated in Trondheim. Only a couple of days ago, there was a widely publicized debate in Trondheim, in which many children of elderly people at public retirement homes lamented the sorry state of affairs for this age bracket, and even stated that after seeing how elderly are treated in Trondheim, they were now in favor of euthanasia. Quite the statement, and nice choice of poster city. Kudos. If this is the best example of a well-run Arbeiderparti-town, things are grim indeed. Or maybe someone didn't do their homework with respect to timing......

Seeing as how we moved to Trondheim in 2003, I got to see the changes from a conservative (Høyre) ruling body to a socialist (Labour/Arbeiderpartiet) reign. The first thing Arbeiderpartiet did, was terminate the use of private enterprises and actual bidding wars for public services such as renovation. 'Cause private enterprises are evil entities which *gasp* try to operate at a profit. After stealing the pensions from li'l old ladies and taking lo-carb candy away from children, the evil private corporations apparently proceed to lurk back to Mordor and sacrifice baby unicorns - or so the socialist parties claim. Also, the newly elected officials in Trondheim signed a contract with the unions (LO) stating that all public services of this kind should go to the union members without the need for pesky bidding rounds and the like, in exchange for LO demonizing any conservative parties prior to the election. They even invented a spiffy name for it - "recommunalization" (rekommunalisering). There was much mirth and bonus copies of Chairman Mao's li'l red pamphlet all around.

So how did it work out? Beside the less-than-satisfactory situation for the elderly (which in all fairness is probably no different from what it's like in other cities run by other parties), we noticed something first-hand right away. Like I mentioned, under the "old" local government, the renovation was taken care of by private enterprises. After the recommunistification, however, the private enterprises were promptly given the boot, and replaced by trusty teamsters. Was the effect noticeable? Oh hell yeah. Before the new administration took over, "regular" trash was picked up every week, paper and cardboard was collected every other week, and plastic was picked up once every four weeks. Now, regular trash is picked up every other week, paper is collected every four weeks, and plastic is picked up once every eight weeks.

Those math-savvy among you might have figured out that this constitutes half the frequency of what the situation was before the new administration. So you might ask yourself; so did we get twice as big trash cans? Nope. But since they reduced their service by 50%, surely they reduced the cost accordingly? Nope again - the cost stayed at exactly the same level, which - again for you math buffs - constitutes doubling the price for a service in going from a private to a public provider. Splendid. Chalk one up for the red team....

So in conclusion, choosing Trondheim as the showcase for Arbeiderparti-politics - was that really the best they could do, or was it old-fashioned incompetance at work?

So how IS the weather?

I haven't read any Norwegian papers today, so I don't know. Anyway, this was the view I woke up to this morning... :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What happened?

There used to be two sides to politics in Norway - one left wing, with the Labour party (Arbeiderpartiet) as the major player, and one conservative wing, headed by Høyre. It's been like that since just after WWII. Those two parties commanded well in excess of 50% of the votes. Now, we've got a socialist coalition government with Arbeiderpartiet holding the coveted prime minister post. And the featured opposition party is now Fremskrittspartiet, which has completely bypassed and pimp-slapped Høyre with respect to position in media and, one would suspect, polls.

So my question is; how in the blue hell did Høyre screw up this bad and let a relatively newcomer take its slot as the number two political party in Norway? It's always been a rule that in order to take the champ out, you've got to knock him out, not just win by points. Høyre had a number of things going for them, not the least tradition (including pre-conceived notions in both people's and media's minds) and sheer votes. The path of least resistance is the most travelled, and when someone's looking for an interview with the number one contender, it's by far easiest to look up the one who's been holding that bag the longest. Every time a socialist government has been up for evaluation in the form of election, that's been Høyre.

So how did Fremskrittspartiet manage to pull this off? Despite having several of its members making public statements more suitable for political suicide than for strengthening their position, even.

I figure it comes down to two things; sheer incompetence from Høyre, and a fantastic job by the leader of Fremskrittspartiet, Siv Jensen. So; even though they're so not getting my vote - well done Fremskrittspartiet. Høyre better dig up someone who's actually charismatic to lead them - something they've been sorely lacking since Willoch in the 80's........

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ghost Rider we just watched Ghost Rider. It really was no way around it - I'm a sucker for movies based on Marvel characters, seeing as how I grew up with those comics. Moreover, I watch them knowing full and well that the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of me being screwed.

With that in mind, expectations were low before watching the movie. Actor-wise, I figured the odds were a little lower than even - what Nick Cage does to lift the movie, Eva Menendez or whatever and that red-haired wanna-be comedian from that lame 90's sit-com are sure to pull down with all their considerable might. And sure enough, although Eva Mendes probably does the performance of her life.................

I ask for so little, and boy do I get it.

Nah; it was pretty much what I expected, although the "Riders from the storm" theme was a little over the top.

I'm baack....

.......and I've had a great vacation.

First off; thanks are due to Anders - it was an honor and I had a really good time. Also, it was cool to meet people from way back, plus some new folks.

Second, I absolutely love Bergen and the county of Sogn og Fjordane in summer. I might share some photos later.

Now to see Ghost Rider....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Norways sucks

This guy rules
Somebody has a job for him ?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Reclaiming the blog from the french...

...and then it's on to Normandie! Yeah, that belongs to us as well!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Norway sucks


We have the power of this blog !!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Up, up and awaayy

We're going away on vacation for about two weeks, so talk to y'all soon.

I'll probably see you in about a week though Anders, right?

Enjoy the rest of the summer