Thursday, February 28, 2008

A few baby steps...

..on the journey to enlightenment courtesy of


The m-factor guitarquiz 11

At least one of these songs is waaaaaay simple to find.

As always, submit answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Wednesday 030508. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Thursday 030608.

Song number 51:

Song number 52:

Song number 53:

Song number 54:

Song number 55:

Answers - guitarquiz 10

There's always one song that noone finds, and it's typically one of the songs I thought would be the most recognizable. Oh well. The songs were:

  • Song 46: Green day - Basket Case. Annoying yet catchy tune. I'm semi-impressed that two of you found the song, seeing as how each and every "punk" band from the 90's sounds exactly the same. Kudos.
  • Song 47: Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird. If I leeeeave you tomoooorroooowwwwww....would you stiill remember meeeee.... THE Redneck Anthem, but still a great song. However, don't ever watch a video of Skynyrd doing this song, as your impression of the song will forever be tainted by the crowd shots. I'm a Southern guy, but the backyard BBQ ensemble depicted in the live footage sort of makes me cringe. Still; a cover of this Confederate Classic will be the final song on the Agressive Melodic Academic metal album Grad School that Joe and I will eventually record and release.
  • Song 48: Guns'N Roses - Knockin' On Heaven's Door. If not for the solo, Bob Dylan would have been the correct artist here. Man oh man was I sick and tired of playing this back in the 90's. "Spælla nåkking".
  • Song 49: Metallica - Whiskey In The Jar. Verse rhytm from this trad tune, first made famous by Thin Lizzy. Predictably, a hyooge live hit in pubs and other venues where alcohol is served. Yay.
  • Song 50: J.J. Cale - Cocaine. All y'all answered Clapton, and just on principle I ought to dock y'all like a hundred points for that, but since the version Clappo stole from Cale is pretty much identical, I guess I have to concede.

The Scores for round 10 look like this:

  1. Pigeon (8/10)
  2. Anders/Cathy/Sondre (6/10)

The hyooge Kahuna, the Grand Daddy of Them All, the Total Score is now:

  1. Sondre (69 points)
  2. Pigeon (60 points)
  3. Cathy (56 points)
  4. Anders (53 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Pigeon and Sondre, and good luck with Quiz 11

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To edit or not to edit

..that is the question. Or rather; that WAS the question on two separate occasions. This year, I've had two separate offers from two different publishing houses of putting together and editing a book within my field of research. One of the offers was strictly regarding a state-of-the-art review, whereas the second one was also meant for use in PhD level courses. Talk about the bee's knees - not only would I get my name on the cover of, potentially, two books, but I'd also get to author several chapters, and if and when the book breaks even sales-wise, I might even get royalties. CV filler AND potential source of revenue - that's hard to beat. PhD students all over the world might even curse my name for including all those triple integrals and poorly hidden quantum mechanics, which would be a bonus.

Yet on both occasions, I politely declined. It was a close call, and it seems to make sense now, but maybe I'll kick myself down the road for turning down these opportunities. Let's see if my arguments make sense when they're summarized:
  • Aside from the fact that editing a book like this is a truckload of work and initially a thankless job (constantly reminding contributors of deadlines - the literary version of "Are we there yet? How about now?"), this ain't typically what you do when you're as new to the game as I am. Editing science books is often regarded as a hobby for full professors with a long track record in the field, with already-built and functioning research groups, and a steady source of funding. I don't exactly fit that profile.
  • With a few notable exceptions, all the people I'd ask to contribute would be older, more experienced and probably better suited for the job than me. I'd be the junior author, and thus prone to receiving all kinds of advice from my not-quite peers, which would lead to Monday-morning quarterbacking, followed by more hassle and cracking of whips for me. For no extra benefits, I might add.
  • The books wouldn't show up in WOS, and consequently editing of these books would halt the development of my h-factor, which is hardly a good idea at this point in time. At present, I think my time is better spent publishing my research in good journals, thus building my reputation.
  • Even though books like these are advertised as state-of-the-art, the sheer process of publishing one of these things entails that the content is at least on year - or more likely 18 months - behind the cutting edge. One might even argue that journal articles are six to twelve months behind the curve, but at least they're way closer to the cutting edge. Not to mention that they help build my h-factor.

.....the decision still makes sense to me. That being said; I'd love to edit a book like this at one point, but not right now.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Damn - another sale at the campus book store

...which means I got roped in and hosed good. At least I walked out of there with four books I certainly wasn't planning on buying when I rolled in, but the books were on sale, so how could I pass up the opportunity........

They sure saw me coming from a country mile away.... This time, I ended up with the following page-turners:
  • Oxford Dictionary of Idioms - 'cause you can never have too many reference manuals for anything related to writing. At least that's what I tell myself.
  • The Nanotech Pioneers - Where Are They Taking Us? (Wiley-VCH) by Steven A. Edwards. It's interesting, it's relevant, and it provides me with fodder I can put into my lectures in various topics. A bit of flava', if you like. For some inexplicable reason, the students enjoy some historical background between the triple integrals and differential equations. Kids today.....
  • Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2nd Edition (Elsevier Saunders) by Waller, Renwick and Hillier. Another reference manual relevant to my research. And like pointy electric guitars with whammy bars, wide flat necks and high-output pickups, one should have a bunch of reference books lying around. I guess it's getting to be downright pedestrian to figure out what kind of research I'm doing.
  • The Science of Harry Potter by Roger Highfield. Yeah; go right ahead and call me a geek. But I'm tellin' ya - we'll see who gets the last laugh when the Reptilians from Planet Niburu shares their broomstick and wand technology with us and I'm one of the technology have's, versus your have-not's. You never know how far away the mothership behind the comet is from invading Earth. And with my knowledge of their technology, I can hotwire one of their reptilian space crafts, sneak into their mothership and upload Windows Vista complete with Outlook to their mainframe. If that doesn't screw up their plans for planetary domination, I don't know what will. Ok; it was cheap, it looked like an amusing read - what do you want from me?

Huckabee is funny

WWE style presidency

You can say what you want about the President of france, but the dude knows how to make headlines. With his latest PR fiasco (cussin' out a farmer at a fair), he has even sparked some debate regarding exactly what he said (or rather; exactly how to translate what he said). I found this piece in The Guardian to be especially helpful in that regard - video included.

Right about now, President Bush must be thinkin' "Dagnabit - just my luck; why didn't this sumbitch' come along seven years ago?" How many other presidents do y'all know of where the news coverage is not about which promises he or she broke or anything related to policy at all, but regarding what over-the-hill, pass-along, hand-me-down bimbo of the rich and famous he is currently dating/marrying/amusing with all three inches of french fury that is Li'l Nicky, or regarding exactly what swearwords he used to cuss' out one of his citizens in public?

Or is it the other way around - that a few years after President Bush high-tailed it into office, some french rube somewhere in a french village watched President Bush wave at Stevie Wonder (which he did, sadly) on the village television set and thought to himself: "Putain; even I can be ze Presidente. Parce que je le vaux bien"?

Sunday, February 24, 2008


So Pigeon was kind enough to lend me the book

Microtrends - The small forces behind today's big changes by Mark J. Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne (2007)
Mark Penn is - according to the back cover and preface - one of the most respected and sought-after analysts in the world, and has been an advisor to former President Bill Clinton, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and also advises Senator Hilary Clinton. Right off the bat, the author is caught in a lie, in that he is a pollster, not an analyst. Also, it is mind-numbingly obvious that this book is a blatant rip-off of "Freakonomics", without the scholarly rigor. Next to "Freakonomics", this book is a mere collection of trivia. This feeling is strongly reinforced by the fact that unlike the aforementioned "Freakonomics", every fact and trend which is revealed leaves me unimpressed - this is freakin' obvious from the very definition of the problem. Any and all "analysis" performed by the authors is superfluous, and I can't imagine that anyone would be under the impression that this work contains any rigor and in-depth analysis at all. Moreover, it is easy to discern attempts to pull the wool over the readers' eyes whenever the data presented contradict policies associated with former clients. Perhaps the most aggravating case is when Penn dismisses the claim that the sudden drop in crime during the 90's was caused by Roe vs. Wade, as derived in "Freakonomics". Rather, Penn states that the PHENOMENAL drop in crime rates was due to "innovative and more effective police strategies implemented by the Clinton administration". What the hell? THAT was the full weight of his counterargument, versus the full treatment from the authors of "Freakonomics". Also; the fact that the majority of graphs are presented as default Excel plots with the grey background and everything makes it really hard to buy Penn as a "World-Class analyst".

To me, the book also highlights what I perceive to be the biggest problem with successful politicians. Throughout the book, Penn draws from plenty of examples where he in his role as a pollster has located subgroups of the populations (above that magic 1% limit), figured out what they're interested in, and subsequently has advised his candidates to emphasize what these groups are into in order to get their votes. Such crap! This is the politician as tabula rasa, with no opinions of his or her own, who relies on advisers to find large enough segments of the populations to tailor a political strategy and philosophy around. I simply can't respect that. To me, a politician who starts out with an agenda, sticks to his or her views and looks for votes based on that is someone I can respect, whether or not I agree with the politics. Turncoats, however.........

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The m-factor guitarquiz 10

How time doth fly - here is the tenth installment. Which means that fifty songs have been put out there so far.

As always, submit answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Wednesday 022708. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Thursday 022808.

Song number 46:

Song number 47:

Song number 48:

Song number 49:

Song number 50:

Answers - guitarquiz 9

Well, well, well....the average scores appear to be dropping. Could be that the song selections are getting more dispersed? Anyways; here are the songs:
  • Song 41: Dire Straits - Private Investigations. One of my absolute favorite Knopfler tunes. The entire piece is just ripe with the overall mood of a Raymond Chandler novel. Tried to do it live a couple of times, but we never got it right. Or at least right enough that people would stay attentive throughout a lesser known, slow Dire Straits tune from a mostly covers band. Imagine that. The intro recorded here hails more to the "Live: On The Night" version than to the original studio recording, with some added notes, of course.
  • Song 42: The Shadows - Apache. How much of a classic is this? This was one of the first songs we rehearsed to have something to play while the singer "rested his voice", for lack of a better term. Whatever - of course I recorded this one using my strat.
  • Song 43: .38 Special - Hold On Loosely. Hyooge Southern Rock Classic, but sadly, none of y'all recognized it. Oh well.
  • Song 44: Avril Lavigne - Sk8er Boi. Annoying, yet highly recognizable tune.
  • Song 45: Justin Timberlake - Rock Your Body. Think Superbowl 2004. Janet Jackson's "Wardrobe malfunction". Remember the song now? One of youse did...

Consequently, the Scores for Quiz 9 are:

  1. Cathy/Anders (tied at 6/10)
  2. ...
  3. Sondre (5/10)
  4. Pigeon (4/10)

And the Grand Daddy of them all, the Total Score:

  1. Sondre (63 points)
  2. Pigeon (52 points)
  3. Cathy (50 points)
  4. Anders (47 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

It's getting awful close around the middle here.......Congrats to Cathy, Anders and Sondre! Good luck on Quiz 10.

Friday, February 22, 2008

RE: Kjerstin regarding online sharing

In my post DVD-Jon at it again, Kjerstin posted a link to a piece in The Guardian titled "All this online sharing has to stop", and stated that there are no differences between music and other intellectual property substantial enough to justify why distributors of music should be granted different working conditions than any other creator or distributor of copyrighted material.

According to the journalist, newspapers were among the first ones getting their content ripped off and spread all over the world because apparently a lot of people copy-and-paste entire articles from online newspapers to blog sites without paying a thing, and even passing it off as their own. Thus, newspapers are hurt just as bad as the music business, but being superior to mere mortals, the newspaper bidness has learned how to "adapt to the world as it is, rather than dreaming of what is used to be".

Now I don't know about you all, but copying entire articles and passing them off as original (i.e. without citing the source and providing a link) isn't something I encounter a lot. Maybe I'm hanging with the wrong crowd or something. But ok - people are ripping off online content from newspapers and sharing it, so that industry should suffer just as much as the music industry, right?

I massively disagree. Let me ask you this; what does the back end of news revenue look like? How often have you browsed the shelves of your local book store looking for that newspaper from two years ago that had this article you were interested in? How often do newspapers print multiple editions of an issue over prolonged periods of time to meet customer demands? Let's say that the journalist is correct; there is a black market of pirated news articles with bloggers functioning as some kind of pirate bay for news. How often have you come across a blog lately with "Breaking news - JFK shot in Dallas"? What about "Hindenberg erupts in flames - Oh the Humanity"? "This just in - Man Lands on Moon"? Not so much.

So if news articles have a very limited shelf life seeing as how they're - well - news, then any revenue deprivation from pirated news content can only happen in a short period of time, right? What about music? Is anyone still interested in songs from last year? Yeah? What about from ten years ago, or twenty? People still buy "Thriller", don't they? What about Beatles and Elvis tunes - anyone interested in buying their records? Sure. What new albums have they released? Well; despite Elvis being rumored to be alive and well, he has not released any new material lately. Neither have the Beatles. How much royalties do journalists get from new editions of articles they wrote and were in print ten years ago?

The music industry HAS a back end of their revenue, as has Hollywood. Which means potential revenue, which means greater potential loss of revenue. In terms of Dead Presidents, this is plenty difference between the music industry and newspapers.

In the Guardian piece, the journalist wrote something with a great potential for bacfiring on his smug ass...."The IFPI - the International Federation of Phonographic Industries - is the global music industry organization whose very name tells you how long ago progress overtook it." Great logic, Sherlock! Be sure to use that argument to try and score some points the next time you write anything about NAACP, for example. Obviously, the NAACP is obsolete, and its members preoccupied with keeping things how they were fifty or more years ago. Good job, Chuckles!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mallrats - Truth or Date segment

...aka one of the many, many reasons to watch this wonderful movie.

Buy or rent it TODAY!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

THAT'S what it takes?

Checketh it out; according to Dagbladet, Wii Fit will be available to the Norwegian public on April 25th. But Pigeon - you probably knew that already, didn't ya? ;-)

The product is pitched as a computer game which will get you in better shape and in the process crush all stereotypes associated with computer game-playing adults. The computer game is gonna get the D&D dweebs in shape by telling them to do push-ups, jumping jacks, etc.

Seriously; how much of a spineless dolt would you have to be if you can't get your Playstation-worshipping, WoW-playing, Pringles-and-frozen pizza-eating ass to a gym or simply to go outside for a walk or something...unless the Nintendo Deity tells you to "drop and gimme' 20" or to "jump"......

Yeah; this will crush any and all myths regarding computer game-playing adults.......

Special tax on fuel in Trondheim

...that's why I haven't heard anything about rush hour fees lately. In order to solve the allegedly hyooge environmental issues regarding exhaust fumes in Trondheim, our politicians in their infinite wisdom plan to introduce a special tax on gasoline and diesel in Trondheim. Now I don't have any numbers to support this, but from personal experience I can assure you that walking down the streets of downtown Trondheim during peak rush hour is a picnic compared to performing the same exercise in either Bergen or Oslo, so I'm not sure what the reasoning behind a special tax in Trondheim is all about. Maybe they figured that people from this region are more docile and less likely to give the politicians in question the ass-kicking they so richly deserve? Moreover, before I continue the post I'd like to point out that I'm much more in favor of any "pro-environmental" action than how I probably come across on this blog. I am, however, not especially gung-ho about invoking taxes just for the hell of it when there is no coherent line of reasoning behind it, and no hope of it working.

Parts of my beef with this suggestion - which is right out of the Li'l Soviet Bastard 101 playbook - can be summarized as follows:

  • The prices of public transporation in Trondheim were just raised significantly this January. The proposal says jack about lowering these prices thus making it an affordable option.
  • If a large portion of Trondheim's commuters were to suddenly switch from driving their cars to using public transportation, the public transportation would break down, as the number of passengers would exceed maximum capacity during rush hour. This entails large investments in equipment + hiring of more personnel, all of which must be planned and executed in advance. Not to mention that there are quite a number of regions in Trondheim where at present there is practically no public transportation.
  • You simply can't force commuters to stop going to work by car AND trying to make them feel guilty about polluting with their vehicles without offering an alternative. Every time the comparison to Stockholm and their successful implementation of rush hour fee is brought into this debate I cringe, because to date, I've heard exactly nobody mention that besides all the other differences, Stockholm invested in drastically increasing the capacity of public transportation networks BEFORE they introduced the rush hour fee, so that there were actual alternatives.
  • Many commuters drive at least 30 minutes to work. How about the possibility that people might drive into another municipality to tank fuel, thus accomplishing the trifecta of a) making the owners of Trondheim gas stations go bankrupt, b) failing spectacularly to affect the number of people commuting by car, and 3) actually significantly increase the release of exhaust, as people would drive longer distances to tank.
  • Where would the money go? Unless the revenue from this tax is ear-marked for - say - alternative fuel, then this is just another way to screw citizens over.

Answers - guitarquiz 8

This time around, y'all were strugglin a bit more than usual. And as always, I was puzzled by the fact that not everybody got one of the songs - in this case song 38. Oh well - the fact that I've got no idea about which songs are gonna be hard, and that which songs are perceived as difficult varies a lot between contestants is actually a good thing. Here be the answers:
  • Song 36: Warrant - Cherry Pie. An 80's party rock anthem if there ever was one. And a sure-fire way to energize a lethargic audience. We used to play this one, "Blind Faith" and "Love In Stereo" from that album.
  • Song 37: ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man. I know at least one person on here who's happy 'bout the inclusion of ZZ Top songs in this here quiz...
  • Song 38: Eminem - The Real Slim Shady. The fact that not every single one of youse got this song surprised teh hell out of me. Not my favorite Em song, but it's still kewl. Moreover, I thought it was instantly recognizable.
  • Song 39: Deep Purple - Burn. I love this Purple song, and you better believe we raised the roof with it in various pubs and small venues. This song also has got a classic, arpeggiated solo section reminiscent of some simple Yngwie harmony sections (if it's sped up, of course). None of y'all got this one. Damn!
  • Song 40: Blues Brothers - (Theme From) Rawhide. Two of youse got this song. I made a conscious decision of only playing the solo here, so as to avoid answers like "This was originally recorded by Paraplegic Parrot Percy with the Dirty Hippie Acoustic Trio and with Broken Bottle Mojo on tin cans back in 1937". That didn't work out exactly like I had hoped. Anyways - I was looking for Blues Brothers as artists.

This means that in round 8, one contestant opened up a can of whoop-ass and unleashed it on all your candy asses, before said contestant proceeded to escort you into his Impala - all shined up real nice - took you for a ride down Know Your Role Boulevard, took that hard right onto Jabroni Drive, and checked you all into the Smackdown Motel. The Scores from Round 8 look a li'l something like this:

  1. Anders (6/10)
  2. Cathy/Pigeon/Sondre (tied at 4/10)

The Normalized Scores after round 8 look like this:

  1. Sondre (7.3 points/Quiz)
  2. Pigeon/Torbjørn (tied at 6.0 points/Quiz)
  3. ...
  4. Cathy (5.5 points/Quiz)
  5. Anders (5.1 points/Quiz)

And the Grand Daddy of them all - the Total Score after round 8:

  1. Sondre (58 points)
  2. Pigeon (48 points)
  3. Cathy (44 points)
  4. Anders (41 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to the winners - Anders and Sondre and good luck with Quiz 9.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DVD-Jon at it again

Dagbladet reports that Jon Lech Johansen, also known as DVD-Jon has released new shareware (Beta version of course) for filesharing. Thus continuing his cycle of doing nothing but cracking copyright-protection placed there by corporations which for some unknown reason want to protect their product.

I don't see why some people portray DVD-Jon as some kind of modern-day Robin Hood - the Prince of Nerds if you will. All he does is give out crowbars for free and encourage looting. However you want to spin it, his only apparent talent is to gaffle products from creative people and sell it under the guise of some imaginary freedom that people allegedly are being deprived of.

"Because I can" is a very poor reason for theft. "Because their product is impractical for me" ain't that good either - as a consumer, your power lies in whether or not you purchase or endorse the product, not in your ability to steal it. iTunes makes it hard to use a product you have legitimately bought with other applications? Don't buy that product. Simple as that - don't act like having .mp3 files of your favorite artist is a basic human right. There are so many other battles which are actually worth fighting....

Roy Khan - Awesome!! hard rock/metal singer

Classically trained (was well on his way to being a good opera singer) before he quit to join Conception and later Kamelot. You won't hear Khan wheeze like a punctured bicycle tire between phrases....

The first song is more about skills, the second more about hit potential and ripping off grieg something fierce ;-) The third song is an awesome power ballad featuring Simone Simons from Epica

Oh; and just as a pre-emptive strike regarding great singers in hard rock/metal: Don't even TRY to bring in that wanna-be diva Tarja Turinen formerly of Nightwish. If you really buy her stories about being a world-class soprano and state so here, you will get owned like a 1976 VW Beetle

Bohemian Rhapsody in American Idol

It's not a secret anymore, Queen is my favorite group ever.
Enjoy that !!!!

Mickael Johns rocks !!!!!!!!!!!!!

The m-factor guitarquiz 9

9th installment. This time, I used my trusty yet battleworn old Squier strat in addition to the Ibanez S270. The strat was used on Song 42........

As always, submit answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Friday 022208. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Saturday 022308.

Song number 41:

Song number 42:

Song number 43:

Song number 44:

Song number 45:

Monday, February 18, 2008


I recently stumbled over an awesome Scottish band in Scream Magazine (and later in Sweden Rock Magazine). Alestorm is the name, and they're to my knowledge the second band in the world to do Pirate Metal (the other band being Running Wild). The lyrics and musical themes are great - all pirates all the time. Here are two songs from their cd; "Over The Seas" and "Wenches And Mead".

I Am The Entertainer

Not just an awesome song by Billy Joel. A colleague of mine in another department regards himself to be in the entertainment industry, as he feels he has to fight an ever-intensifying battle for the students' attention. As a lecturer, the growing expectations and delusions that everything should be available online limits the headcount during standard lectures. This is in itself a double-edged sword; if you're a half-way decent lecturer, the students will figure out that what you offer during the lectures far exceeds the learning outcome from simply reading the slides + the curriculum. However, if you suck at teaching (like if all you do is read verbatim what's on your slides), odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the students being satisfied with downloading your slides if they're available, which means fewer asses in the seats. Still; this does not mean that there is a 1:1 correlation between the percentage of your class that shows up for your lectures and how good a teacher you are, but headcount is an indicator. If the drop-off rates after your first two-three lectures is 90% each and every semester, you might want to rethink what you're doing.

If you can somehow trick/cajole/convince/lure/threaten/oppress your students into showing up for your lectures, then there are several new diversions to overcome in your battle for the students' attention. Like cell phones, or even worse; the people who bring their laptops and either surf the web, chat or do their email instead of following your lecture. Unlimited, campuswide wireless internet access does indeed have it's downsides, and I'm betting dollars to donuts that the proponents never thought of half the problems this service actually constitutes in institutes of higher learning. Still; if you know what you're doing and the students have a sense that you're providing a service which aids their learning beyond what they can expect to get merely from self-study, the students will probably pay attention to whatever the hell you're droning on about.

But for how long will students continuously pay attention? According to one of the especially synaptically challenged "teachers" I had the massive misfortune of sitting through many a lecture from during my mandatory - you bet your ass mandatory - pedagogic course, 15 minutes of standard uni-directional lecturing (i.e. either from PP slides to an audience or from a blackboard to an audience) is the maximum amount of time you can count on the students paying any attention to what you're saying and/or doing. After 15 minutes, you've got to break up the lecture completely, either with a class discussion, or some group work, or with showing a video or Riverdancing or what have you. The more astute readers will at this point in time wonder what research or at least reasoning lies behind the quite firm statement that 15 minutes is the upper limit for student attention, irregardless of what the course or topic for that particular lecture happens to be. When asked this question, the pedagogic teacher started off at a brisk pace by mentioning non-descript "studies". Then, when we pointed out that we'd like to have some references, the instructor started handwaving, before she broke down and admitted that it was based on her own personal experience. From giving the pedagogic course to faculty members over the last two semesters. Teh kicker: She presented this information to us in a two-hour black print on white background, all bullet points PowerPoint lecture.

The basic premise might hold water though, as you should try to break up the stream of information with some meta-talk, some class discussions, or the occasional joke. I've come to terms with the fact that not all of my students understand my jokes and puns. The reason (beside the fact that a fraction of my jokes probably suck and tank on their own merit) is that they don't understand everything I say. It just so happens that I lecture in English, and apparently I'm using some words and expressions not common outside of the US and even the Southern states. So; occasionally this is me:'s a fine line, I tells ya

Friday, February 15, 2008

...hello, Ladies

Being that Anders and myself have been fascinated with Demetri Martin's sure-fire way of appearing creepy ( adding ......ladies at the end of a sentence), here's this concept taken to the extreme, in the form of former WWE wrestler Val Venis' entrance video:

..this must be the creepiest wrestling entrance video ever, and that's sayin' something. No points for guessing what other "profession" Val Venis supposedly had (according to his WWE character)..... This is also proof positive that Demetri martin's concept holds true.

Hilarious entrance video...cracks me up every time

Answers - guitarquiz 7

Awright - we've got something goin' on this time for sure. First; here be the answers:

  • Song 31: AC/DC - Hell's Bells. Two of y'all managed to get this one. This is one of the many, many AC/DC songs I don't really like that well, but like most AC/DC tunes, it goes over gangbusters with crowds, so......
  • Song 32: Mike Oldfield - Moonlight Shadow. I can't believe all y'all got this one.... Awesome tune, though, and that "clean", arpeggiated solo is really beautiful.
  • Song 33: Nazareth - Hair Of The Dog. On the other hand, nobody recognized this tune. Hair Of The Dog was among the very first my old band rehearsed back in da day, along with Black Magic Woman by Santana, the G'NR version of Knockin', and some song the first singer made up with the title "Psycho Fuck". Yeah; don't ask... Anyway; I must have sucked bad on the guitar back in them days, as I distinctly recall that moving the riff from A to D (with a position shift) was something I had to focus on. But my guitar sound back then was great - Ibanez Roadstar through a Peavey Bandit........yeahhhhhh
  • Song 34: Alice Cooper - Poison. Fantastic live tune.
  • Song 35: Bruce Springsteen - The River. My fave Springsteen tune, though I never really appreciated it until I took a summer job at a brewery alongside one dude about whom the song could've been written. I'm happy with how the guitar replaced the harmonica here.

Now for the rankings - starting with Scores after round 7:

  1. Sondre (8/10)
  2. Anders/Cedric (tied at 6/10)
  3. ......
  4. Cathy (4/10)

On to the Normalized Scores:

  1. Sondre (7.7 points/Quiz)
  2. Cedric (6.3 points/Quiz)
  3. Torbjørn (6.0 points/Quiz)
  4. Cathy (5.7 points/Quiz)
  5. Anders (5.0 points/Quiz)

...and finally, the Grand Poobah, the Big Kahuna, the Overall Scores:

  1. Sondre (54 points)
  2. Cedric (44 points)
  3. Cathy (40 points)
  4. Anders (35 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Sondre (once again), and good luck with Quiz 8

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The m-factor guitarquiz 8

More songs to figure out in this 8th installment. Bunch of different genres too.

As always, submit answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Tuesday 021908. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Wednesday 022008.

Song number 36:

Song number 37:

Song number 38:

Song number 39:

Song number 40:

It's that day again...

...and since I'm such a nice guy:

Most expensive paper towel ever


Yesterday, I read in the latest issue of Sweden Rock Magazine that the self-proclaimed "Kings Of Metal" - Manowar - have launched their own brand of condoms called "Warrior's Shield". On the merch site of their label, Magic Circle Music, the lead-in to the jimmy-hat product description reads:

MANOWAR fans have requested a special piece of merchandise from their favorite metal band. MANOWAR has heard these requests and delivered. The new MANOWAR condoms are the perfect romantic accessory for all true metal couples. Whether you are looking to spice things up in the bedroom or meet somebody new after the show, MANOWAR condoms will do the trick. Now, you are ready for any chance meetings that turn into unexpected friendships.

This special "Warrior's Shield" is made of 100% natural rubber latex and transparent in color. All condoms are FDA approved against pregnancy, AIDS and other STD's. Expiration date, lot numbers and health advisories printed on the back of each condom.

The "Warrior's Shield" is individually packaged with the white MANOWAR logo emblazoned on the package. The "Warrior's Shield" is sold five (5) condoms per bag.

Now you can not only say Fuck The World, you can do it as well.

Apparently, pregnancy is defined as a Sexually Transmitted Disease by these Mighty Warriors of Steel, but then again, the Legendary True Metal Kings have other things to do than learn grammar and all that nerdy false metal stuff. Just for some flavor (pun intended), here is a video of the Epic Heroes:

..OK, that was a spoof video of one of their songs, but the actual band isn't much better: what do you think the odds are of Manowar fans actually requiring prophylactics for other purposes than avoiding to further stain their clothes and few other fabric-made wordly possessions? Also, I suspect that these condoms (only available in sizes Small and down, I wager) do not come flavored because few Manowar fans have sufficient spinal flexibility due to years of headbanging and slouching at school.

Other bands Play, Manowar Kill indeed....

Back In Black

Finally, I'm back in bidness after having gotten the crap kicked out of me by the flu.

As was expected, my stuff-to-do pile has increased significantly, including some paper-pushing administrative crap, but that's ok, 'cause my job rules. Sure; there are aspects of it I'd be happy to live without, but what job doesn't have any downsides. When all is said and done, I get to do the following over the next few days:
  • teach students about Feynman's method for determining the root-mean-square end-to-end distance in drunken walks
  • wax poetically about statistical thermodynamics to unprepared students (it can be shown that...)
  • do that final data treatment and write together the discussion section on a kick-ass paper
  • look at the latest kewl results and theories obtained by post doc + master student
  • review manuscripts for two different journals
  • write short grant proposal
  • attend some meetings and outline at least three more papers

Academic life is good

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Some more movies for the flu season

......nothin better for accompanying the fever-induced fog than some mind-numbingly stupid movies, like

Freddy vs. Jason (2007)
I love it - there's something to be said for Jason Voorhees slicing and dicing teenage skinny-dipping, Everclear-guzzlin', stoner, slacker, self-absorbed, dumb-as-nails, total lack of self-respect oxygen thieves. And of course, you can always identify the two survivors - it's the blond girl with the biggest implants/push-up bra (depending on whether or not she'll be doing any topless scenes) and her semi-jock, tall and dark boyfriend. Btw; regarding the "Legalize it" crew who insist that making out with MJ isn't bad for you - check this out. The next time your Smoky-the-bear friend puts on a Bob Marley record and starts to preach about the wonders of MJ, ask him: "Dude; didn't you use to be able to count to a hundred a few years back?"

In Hell - The Savage (2003)
Jean-Claude Van Damme is in Russia, and when JCVD's wife is killed by a burglar, and when the burglar runs free due to lack of evidence/bogus technicality, JCVD kills his ass and subsequently gets sentenced to life in a Russian prison. Where of course he has to fight every day against monsters with tribal armband tattoos and corrupt prison guards. Moreover, the corrupt prison guards are of course in cahoots with the Russian mafia. The only significant difference between this movie and the five previous Van Damme movies is that JCVD doesn't display much in the way of martial arts prowess here. Which really is a shame, as his kicks - especially his yoko geri and mawashi geri - are flawlessly executed.

Urban Justice (2007)
A good-hearted policeman is killed in a drive-by shooting, and the brass dismisses it as a random act of violence. Well guess what; the policeman's father is Steven Seagal, an - wait for it......waaaaaaaait for it - ex special forces and all-round badass. Big mistake, as Seagal moves to the inner city and goes medieval on everyone's asses in his efforts to unleash vengeance.

Death Of A President (2006)
What if President Bush had been assassinated in October 2007 after a speech in Chicago? That's what this quasi-documentary tries to portray. Despite it only being 93 minutes, it drags out for too damn long

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Movies for the flu season

...starting with:

Varg Veum - Tornerose (2007)
I'm starting to like these movie adaptations of Gunnar Staalesen's novels. Also refreshing is the fact that the directors/producers/whomever is in charge of casting picked someone outside the way overexposed Pia Tjelta/Ane Dahl Brun/Aksel Hennie trio. Still; "Tornerose" is a kewl Norwegian movie.

Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Honestly, this wasn't so bad. Sure; I've got a soft spot for Jackie Chan, but all things considered, this is pretty kewl. It may not have enough monkeys for some, but if you can't enjoy a simple action-comedy like this, then boo on ya.

Jason X (2002)
Finally, somebody managed to stop Jason Voorhees by trapping him in a cryogenic chamber. However, 450 years from now, some "scientists" on a discovery mission from Earth II ('cause the original Earth is of course left barren due to pollution, wars and what have you) pick up the froze carcass of Jason and plan to display him in a museum. Now these "scientists" of the 25th century appear to be more occupied with prancing around in hotpants and halter tops and having sex with each other than with doing actual science, and this allows Jason to wake up, merge with some machinery and come out as a new and improved killing machine. The tenth installment of Friday the 13th is actually watchable.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Answers - guitarquiz 6

Here be the songs:
  • Song 26: Wham! - The Edge Of Heaven. From the final Wham! album aptly named The Final (1986). Awesome tune.
  • Song 27: Steve Miller Band - The Joker. For the record, I've always thought this song sucked.
  • Song 28: Whitesnake - Here I Go Again. Only one of y'all got this. This is for sure one of my favorite Whitesnake songs, and you better believe it raised the roof in various pubs and stuff back in da day.
  • Song 29: Kelis - Trick Me. Aka most annoying song of 2004
  • Song 30: Guns'N Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine. Another perennial crowd favorite, and the only one all y'all got. It should be mentioned that the guitar sound has just a little too much distortion in the treble region........the neck p/u on my S270 has got more power than I thought.

The standings for Quiz 6:

  1. Sondre (8/10)
  2. Cathy/Cedric (both tied at 6/10)
  3. .....
  4. Anders (4/10)

Accordingly; the normalized score is:

  1. Sondre (7.7 points /Quiz)
  2. Cedric (6.3 points/Quiz)
  3. Cathy/Torbjørn (tied at 6.0 points/Quiz)
  4. ....
  5. Anders (4.8 points/Quiz)

And finally; the Total Score after Quiz 6:

  1. Sondre (46 points)
  2. Cedric (38 points)
  3. Cathy (36 points)
  4. Anders (29 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Sondre once again, and good luck with Quiz 7.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Probably not yall's bag but...

In the unlikely event that you are interested in a book about the SoCal bodybuilding scene between 1968 and 1971, this here is the book for you:

West Coast Bodybuilding Scene - The Golden Era by Dick Tyler (2004).
This here book is a collection of columns and longer pieces written by Dick Tyler in what is often referred to as the golden era of bodybuilding. Awesome stories from Muscle Beach and Venice Beach, and personalities like Dave Draper, Don Howorth, Frank Zane, Larry Scott, Zabo Koszewski, Joe Gold, Chuck Sipes, Harold Poole, Art Zeller, Sergio Oliva, Eddie Giuliani, Franco Columbo, Steve Merjanian, Ed Corney, Armand Tanny, Vince Gironda, Joe Weider and that Austrian guy.....what was his name again.....Arnold Schwarzenegger. If these names and the concept of Muscle Beach mean anything to you, then you'll probably enjoy these stories. Like how future global franchises Gold's Gym and World Gym were conceived as a direct result of Muscle Beach being closed down due to some shady activities going on there.

The book is very much written in the language of that time, so there's a lot of "Jeepers Billy; I sure would like a slice of that apple pie and a soda pop". The dialogue could've been lifted from an Archie comic. I've read the book twice now, and the only thing I don't like is that Tyler writes too much from the perspective of total fanboi. Bodybuilder mogul and Tyler's boss at the time - Joe Weider - is getting an epic blowjob via this book, while anyone not into bodybuilding and physical culture is portrayed as philistines and ignorant. Moreover, there is something inherently funny about professional bodybuilders giving "don't do drugs" seminars at high schools. Of course; D-bol and other things were legal back then, they were not on anywhere near the same dosages, they were not on gear most of the year, and they apparently got legit subscriptions from doctors ("You've sure grown a lot over the last two weeks, Larry. Aw shucks Doc; I just started the new Weider routine - thanks for noticing"). But still...

Friday, February 8, 2008

The m-factor guitarquiz 7

Now that the technical expectations are lowered, here is the Seventh installment.

As always, submit answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Thursday 021408. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Friday 021508.

Song number 31:

Song number 32:

Song number 33:

Song number 34:

Song number 35:

Children Of The Night

...actually, I'll take the expectations for guitar playing further down, whilst upping the kewlness quotient.....behold the almighty Dream Evil:

....and realize that they make cliché-dripping lyrics on purpose, in stark contrast to Manowar and other bands on the same genre....

Dionysus - Time Will Tell

....I needed to put some slightly less inhuman guitar playing between that freak Michael Romeo and my own playing in the next guitarquiz.......

Tremenduous song, though.

Symphony X - Set The World On Fire

Overlook for a moment the wannabe-distorted vocals of Russel Allen on the latest SX album, and the sort of corny video, and behold the Wonder that is Michael Romeo - guitarist and composer of Symphony X. Observe how flawlessly the rigid verse rhytm resolves into the open and ultramelodic chorus. And most of all; witness the effortlessness with which Romeo pulls off his trademark tapped arpeggios in the solo. Not of this earth!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Answers - guitarquiz 5

....damn; I would NEVER have thought that quiz 5 would be perceived as that difficult.

  • Song 21: Billy Ocean - When The Going Gets Tough. Most of y'all got this one, so I guess there IS such a thing as a give-away bass hook. This might have been a hyooge hit in it's own right, but I remember it mostly from being the background music for WWF (now WWE) TV promos on Sky Channel back in da day.
  • Song 22: AC/DC - Touch Too Much. Song number 4 on Highway To Hell (1979), and one of the last songs to be recorded by Bon Scott. This is definitely my fave AC/DC song, and you better believe it was included in our basis set back in da day. None of y'all got this one - as a matter of fact, none of y'all even tried. Damn - I'd have thought that you at least recognized the patented song structure of AC/DC, but no....
  • Song 23: Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade Of Pale. Not an Yngwie-fied Air by Bach, although with the descending circle of fifths etc.......... Hell no; you TOTALLY should have gotten this one (only one person found it) - it's one of the most recognizeable songs from it's era.
  • Song 24: Jimi Hendrix - Manic Depression. One person answered Hendrix, but got the song mixed up. Again; damn. It's not like Hendrix is an unknown artist, and this is one of the better known songs he recorded.........
  • Song 25: Heart - All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You. Another hyooge 80's hit, and an awesome hook.

In conclusion; shame on y'all for not gettin' more of these songs. The updated rankings are as follows:

Quiz 5:

  1. Sondre (6/10)
  2. Cathy/Cedric (tied at 2/10)
  3. .......
  4. Anders (1/10)

The Normalized rankings after quiz 5 are:

  1. Sondre (7.6 points/Quiz)
  2. Cedric (6.4 points/Quiz)
  3. Cathy/Torbjørn (tied at 6.0 points/Quiz)
  4. ......
  5. Anders (5.0 points/Quiz)

And finally the Big Kahuna - the Cumulative Scores:

  1. Sondre (38 points)
  2. Cedric (32 points)
  3. Cathy (30 points)
  4. Anders (25 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Sondre, and Good luck with the next one. Maybe I should record some sections from lesser known Spice Girls or Mika songs so y'all will have an easier time than with those unknown artists such as AC/DC and Hendrix ;-)

The m-factor guitarquiz 6

Sixth installment, hopefully a bit easier than the previous one.

In the unlikely event that anyone should care, these five songs were all recorded using my Ibanez S270 through a Digitech Whammy into a Line 6 Guitarport/Rifftracker.

As always, submit answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Sunday 021008. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Monday 021108.

Song number 26:

Song number 27:

Song number 28:

Song number 29:

Song number 30:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Demetri Martin... really startin' to grow on me. Thanks for the tip, Anders

Damn I miss Comedy central

...right woman for the job

VG online is using former javelin athlete Trine Hattestad as a fitness consultant at Not surprisingly, people are asking her how to best burn fat. This - to me - is extremely funny. After all, Hattestad got SO busted for doping back in da day. Sure; I seem to recall that she got away with it by playing the "cryin' in the media and blaiming her cereal, her doctor, coffee and her dog" routine which is SO tired.

Did she actually use performance-enhancing drugs? I wasn't there, so I can't state that she did unless some ruling body found otherwise. However; I CAN say that she definitely fits the profile, and that if your urine test comes back positive for deca or whatever she got busted for, the odds of you being clean aren't that good. And the less said about the odds of some vitamin manufacturer lacing the product with nandrolone the better.

I'm really curious to see what she'll answer when someone asks her what the quickest route to burning fat is, or how she got into peak condition. Is she gonna mumble something about optimum pulse range, frequency and duration of cardio, or is the answer gonna be something along the lines of "Clenbuterol + Winny + McDonalds"?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Kure Beach

Talked to a very good friend of mine this weekend. Dude is presently teaching/supervising at an aviation school practically at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, and will continue being there off and on at least until July. As I was talkin' to him, I looked out the window and pondered the several metric tons of snow I've shoveled over the last week. Man.

To compensate, here are some pictures from the Outer Banks close to Cape Fear in good ol' NC:

Darlings By The Sea; the coolest inn we've ever been to bar none.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Answers - guitarquiz 4

Here be the answers from Quiz 4. AND; we've got a new playa' in the game - kewl. Also, from this quiz on, I'll also rank the players according to the normalized score per quiz. Please do not take that as an opportunity to play strategically, i.e. not submit answers to uphold the normalized score - the cumulative/total score is still the Big Kahuna. From now on, I'll write a short blurb with each song. If that turns out to be annoying, just tell me to freakin' quit that and whine about music on my own dime/in other posts.
  • Song 16: The Scorpions - Rock You Like A Hurricane. Never had any special relationship to this tune, despite it being an absolute monster anthem. Can't really remember playing it live either, despite having had several other Scorpions songs in our repertoire - most notably "We'll Burn The Sky", "Still Loving You" and "Winds Of Change".
  • Song 17: Billy Idol - White Wedding. Slang for cocaine, but y'all probably knew that. Again, this 80's anthem was totally lost on me, and I didn't open my eyes to this song until the movie "The Wedding Singer". Kewl whammy antics in the beginning of the song, eh?
  • Song 18: Skid Row - 18 And Life. I totally love this song, and most of the album it's from. Perennial live favorite that I can play with my eyes closed.
  • Song 19: Cutting Crew - (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight. Awesome tune - the guitar theme is brilliant in it's simplicity.
  • Song 20: Gary Moore - Parisienne Walkways. Another song I can play with my eyes closed, and a total favorite. Lyrics by the late, great Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. Much respect.

Which leaves us with the following Score for Round 4:

  1. Sondre (10/10)
  2. Cathy/Cedric (tied at 8/10)
  3. ....
  4. Torbjørn (6/10)
  5. Anders (4/10)

The cumulative/total score after round 4 is:

  1. Sondre (32/40)
  2. Cedric (30/40)
  3. Cathy (28/40)
  4. Anders (24/40)
  5. Torbjørn (6/40)

And finally; the normalized score (i.e. average score per quiz) is:

  1. Sondre (8.0 points/Quiz)
  2. Cedric (7.5 points/Quiz)
  3. Cathy (7.0 points/Quiz)
  4. Anders and Torbjørn (tied at 6.0 points/Quiz)

Congrats to Sondre, and good luck with Quiz 5.....

Friday, February 1, 2008

Total Logic Dosconnect

After a whole lot of media upheaval, Bjarne Håkon Hansen finally decided to speak up regarding the PhD student about to be thrown out of the country for some unsubstantial bull$hit technicality. His Salomon-like decision: Throw her ass out; we can't alter the letter of the law to accomodate the special needs of one person. For once I actually agree with the Mayor of Trondheim - specifically with what she says here (Norwegian only).

THIS is where Hansen decides to draw a line in the sand? Wouldn't it be more prudent or at least less bone-headed to project this belligerent attititude towards - I don't know - Mullah Krekar?

You know....someone who's actually committed crimes and stuff instead of a grad student with no priors or anything, for whom NTNU by way of her department is actually willing to stand by in any way they can?

The m-factor guitarquiz 5

Fifth installment, now featuring a bit more genres and a larger time span than quiz 4. I'm sure that someone might be relieved to have some refuge from the 80's........

Like I've complained/commented about before; I'm kind of surprised over how difficult it is to predict whether or not y'all are gonna find the songs to be way easy or damn hard. So I just stopped caring about that particular aspect - given a large enough data set these differences will even out, I presume.

In the unlikely event that anyone should care, these five songs were all recorded using my Ibanez S270 through a Digitech Whammy into a Line 6 Guitarport/Rifftracker.

As always, submit answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Tuesday 020508. Each song holds the potential of two points - one oint for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Wednesday 020608.

Song number 21:

Song number 22:

Song number 23:

Song number 24:

Song number 25:

Corollary to M cartoon

Thought these would serve as decent rulz