Friday, May 30, 2008

Holy Diver!

So, I'm off to a concert at Kopervikfestivalen this weekend. A triple treat(?) with Dio, Stage Dolls and... ... Morten Abel! Now who is the odd man out of the bunch (Hint: I made it easy, fiollow the dots)? Morten Abel was a last minute replacement for Europe. I mean, Europe, Dio and Stage Dolls would have been three acts that fit somewhat together. But Morten Abel? Oh well.


Saw these clips from the guitarworld website. Check out the "guitar"clip at least. Yeah, it's pretty rock'n'roll, but you gotta admit it has it's Spinal tap moments...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

GQ 2: The Revenge - Round 1

And we're back with GuitarQuiz 2: The Revenge. Will Sondre continue his Reign of Terror? Can Pigeon muscle in on the top spot? The scores are reset, so if some new contestants want in, this is the time.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Friday 060608. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Saturday 060708.

Song number 101:

Song number 102:

Song number 103:

Song number 104:

Song number 105:

Guitarquiz 2 - The Revenge

Well now, cats and kittens, I'm ready to get GQ 2: The Revenge off the ground. Unless Anders has one more quiz ready or near ready to go, in which case I'll back off until it's done.

What say you, Anders?

Explain me this... an article in Dagbladet, there is a survey that shows that more Høyre-voters would like to have Jens Stoltenberg as primeminster then Erna Solberg. What the...? Why do you vote for a party if you think the leader of the primary opposition would be the best candidate to lead the country? Or is this just a case of lies, white lies and statistics?

..and suddenly the problem comes into focus

Today I came across a piece at containing the statement "Eg har venar i alle yrke, og ingen jobbar meir og tener mindre enn meg" ("I've got friends in all professions, and nobody works more and makes less money than me"). The context is of course the ongoing strike for better teacher salaries (among other things). Who wrote this? A sixth grade teacher. I'm torn between being really annoyed by the blanket statement shown in the link, and being amused to no end. To figure out which one it is, I think I'll address the more grievous examples of cognitive dissonance, abysmal logic and self-righteous bullshit found in this blurb, which was no doubt written on a Mac, and see where I end up.
  • "Skammeleg uviten haldning av ein høgremann som elskar media sitt søkelys." ("Shamefully ignorant attitude from a conservative who loves the media attention"). This is in reference to criticism towards the striking teachers launched by Trygve Hegnar during a televised debate. This is a textbook knee-jerk reaction and corresponding blanket statement from someone whose political affiliations obviously differ from that of their adversary. Obviously this teacher belongs left of the center politically, and because the adversary has affiliations to the opposite side of party politics, it's convenient to try to affix a single statement from one person to the majority of - in this case - conservatives. I'm not saying that this isn't done by the conservatives, but the point is that it's the kind of broad generalization which a) is moronicm b) can be easily picked apart in a debate, leaving whomever made said statement thoroughly owned and sidetracked from the real issues, and c) can be reversed without any burden of proof ("That's typical communists for ya; putting everybody in one category and striking at the drop of a hat").

  • "Det er ikkje mange som faktisk veit at vi ikkje har fleire ferieveker enn alle andre, og at resten av tida er avspasering for lange arbeidsdagar. Ein kan ikkje gå heim mellom eitt og to slik som før." ("Not many people actually know that we don't have any more vacation time than other professions, and that the rest of the (vacation) time is time we take off to compensate for long hours. One cannot go home between one and two PM like you used to be able to.") Would you like some cheese with that whine? Here's something that you probably don't know: if you're in a job which requires business travel for meetings etc., you typically don't get reimbursed for all your time; you get your normal 8 hours per day. Even for domestic meetings which only last one business day, you're probably gonna spend way in excess of 14 hours from the time you leave your home until you're back, unless you've got a really short commute. And what about having to entertain business relationships with dinners etc? Oh yeah; that's probably yet another in the infinite sequence of things you don't know, but that's not exactly "off" time either, and guess what; you're not getting any reimbursement for that time either. Time spent travelling is just part of the job, and is expected by your employer. As a tenured academic, I can also vouch for the "travel requirements", not to mention all the long nights and weekends spent before important deadlines, etc., and take a wild guess as to how much of that time is automatically reimbursed in the form of days off.......I ain't got no 10-12 weeks off from work during summer, I'll tell ya that much. So; having established that there are many professions in which there is unpaid overtime; let's cross that off the "legitimate complaints" list and move on.

  • "Eg har venar i alle yrke, og ingen jobbar meir og tener mindre enn meg." (I've got friends in all professions, and nobody works more and makes less money than me.") My oh my; where to start. Not to make a major issue out of it, but from the brutal sentence structure of the statement, not to mention the content, it's a good thing that the originator teaches sixth grade. I fear that teaching seventh grade and beyond would be outside the competence profile of this particular specimen. Let's instead marvel at the that this not-so-humble teacher must have a staggering number of friends from all social circles. Including Presidents, astronauts, Secretaries of State, mercenaries, prostitutes, White House staffers, nuns, rock stars, stock brokers, lawyers, carpenters and street sweepers. Or could it be that the person who wrote this statement is full of male bovine feces and just pulled an "I am the world" generalization? Obviously this teacher does not have farmers pulling two or three extra jobs just to make it on the list of friends. The aforementioned White House staffers spring to mind also. Ditto for seven year old kids working at sweatshops somewhere in Asia sewing sneakers or jeans. I'd be happy to provide more examples if need be.... The point is; you're pretty self-absorbed and, well, ignorant if you're actually stating that not only are you the most hard-working person in the world, but you're also the one who gets paid less per hour. I know I work pretty hard and put in MANY hours in my job, but I'm equally certain that there are academics out there who put in way more time. If you live in a rich country like Norway, there's ALWAYS someone who works more for less dinero. Failing to realize that is pretty much proof of delusions of gargantuan proportions. However; there is another possible interpretation of what he teacher wrote. The key is then to figure out how the workload of this teacher compares to the rest of the teaching staff at that school. If the teaching load of this individual vastly exceeds that of the others but for equal or less pay without any results to show for it, odds are that this teacher is not qualified for his or her job. If you have to work far more to get the same results without any added benefits for the students, you probably suck at your job. So; the role of martyr doesn't particularly become this teacher, who would benefit from leaving the cross at the door on the way out.

  • "I tillegg er eg ein av dei lærarane som gjer ein ekstra innsats for at elevane skal læra på ein spanande måte, med "den store utedagen" og "musikkvideoprosjektet". Det betyr berre at når eg er ferdig med møte, møtereferat, datamaskinskruing osv og kan byrja å jobba med sjølve undervisningsførebuinga, er klokka blitt halv fem, og eg blir ofte sitjande til langt på kveld." ("Additionally, I'm one of the teachers who make an extra effort in order to make the students' learning experience more exciting, with field trips and music video projects. This only means that when I'm done with meetings, writing memos, fixing computers etc and can start working with preparing my own teaching activities, it's already 4:30 PM, and I'm often stuck with this work until late at night.") It's been established that your martyr status is questionable, to say the least. I think The Rock said it best when he told people to "Know their role and shut their mouth"

  • "Så mykje feilskriving, matematikkvanskar og dårleg pedagogikk det er i skulen i dag, er det ikkje rart at resultata blir deretter." ("Considering the many problems with bad grammar, poor math skills and lacking pedagogics in the school system today, it's no wonder that the outcome is what it is") This appeared in a section lamenting the lack of selection criteria to become a teacher today. On a related topic, this reminds me of the time when the pot met the kettle and exclaimed "Damn you're black".

I think I've come to the conclusion that the piece written by the sixth-grade teacher was mostly annoying. To sum up my overall impression of this specimen - irregardless of gender - I think this visual is fitting:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The things people do for attention

Rollin' around on campus to get a short break and a glimpse of the lovely weather we've got now that finals have started, you get to observe some of the more esoteric activities with which students try to get attention and amuse themselves. You've always got the frisbee crew, and some people who kick a really large ball around (without any apparent rules or even a goal in mind), and then today there was a new posse on campus: The tightrope balancing act people - probably soon to merge with the unicyclists, the jugglers and the mimes.

Three students - one girl and two guys, had put up a tightrope (or at least attempted to) between two trees just outside this building, and were trying their damndest to "walk the line". And failing massively in the process. I don't really know how they came up with the bright idea of bringing a line to campus and arranging it for public display of their complete lack of balancing skills, but somehow they thought it was ultracool. Especially combined with one of the male students being the kind of "guy" who will use any and all opportunities to take off his t-shirt in order to display his massive, 76 kilos-soaking-wet-and-carrying-two-leather-bound-copies-of-War-And-Peace physique.

The combo of brutal ineptitude and massive attention-whoring looked a little bit like this combo:

Monday, May 26, 2008

A somewhat disheartening discovery

I finally turned in the exam sets to the appropriate administrative branch of this fine university for purposes of archiving and distribution. I'd even taken the effort to make the necessary (and then some) copies so as to avoid any Xerox-related mishaps. Until the moment I rolled into the office which on a bi-annual basis is inhabited by senior citizens, mostly retired school teachers, to turn in the exam sets, all was well. I entered the offices, and while I was waiting for the elderly lady in charge to finish whatever she needed to do in order to accept the exam sets from the person in front of me, I had ample opportunity to take in the room and the adjoining facilities. Obviously, the room had been upgraded to include the most up-to-date technology which realistically could be handled by the current residents. Which is another way of saying that the office was equipped with yellow post-it's, a radio and a telephone.

From the moment I handed over the exam sets, there was trouble. First, it was the problem of finding the course code in her single-page ledger of all the courses holding exams that day. Then there was the problem of comprehending the fact that I'd already taken the trouble of copying the problem sets, and theat the number of copies exceeded the number of students taking the course so that there would be some to spare. Subsequently, there was the language issue, mostly due to the fact that there was one set of exams in English, and then one set in Norwegian (where I'd taken the liberty of solving the bokmål/nynorsk issue by using the header Oppgave/Oppgåve X for all the problems). Having resolved these issues to her satisfaction, the retiree discovered that each exam set contained three pages of text distributed on two sheets of paper. In other words; I'd used a two-sided copy in order to save some paper. "Oh no; this was bad - they don't like that at all.." In this context, "They" presumably meant some higher-ups on the administrative totem pole....there were all kinds of problems associated with the double-sided copy. First of all, she claimed that she'd never seen anything like this (i.e. three pages distributed on two sheets of paper), and she had to make all kinds of cryptic markings and probably even make a phone call to the higher-ups to warn them of this unspeakable scenario, so that they could brace themselves for this complicated case and make new copies onto three separate sheets if need be.

That was bad enough, but the worst part came when the old lady started giving me some evidence-based reasons for two-sided copies being less than optimal. As it turns out, every time someone's used two-sided copies, many students have failed to realize that there was text on both sides of the sheet(s), resulting in problems not answered, bad grades, complaints, committees and other evils which at the end of the day end up as extra work for the subject teacher.

As Sondre pointed out to me; wasn't this the basis for a Mr. Bean episode? Seriously; if there are two sheets, of which the first has text on both sides, and the students fail to notice that fact and consequently fail, that's natural selection. I don't care how nervous they are; if they solve "Problem 1" and then proceed to "Problem 3", "Problem 4" and so on without realizing that something is missing, then their subsequent failure is inevitable. What would be the logic behind failing to check the other side? Is the assumption that I'm a moron who can't count, and it's a lucky coincidence that this year's exam has fewer problems than the previous ones?

Nothing like surrounding yourself with the best and the brightest.....

Buffalo wing recipes - the search goes on

For Saturday's Eurovision fiesta, I decided to make some home-made buffalo wings with some blue cheese drssing (also made from scratch by moi). Ever since we moved here, I've been somewhat frustrated by the fact that you can only get decent buffalo wings in Bergen and Oslo, 'cause that's where TGI Friday's have restaurants. Sure; there are plenty of restaurants in Trondheim where buffalo wings are on the menu, but these dishes bear as much of a resemblance to proper buffalo wings as social anthropology does to science.

So if I can't get proper wings at restaurants, what remains is to make them my very self, right? And I had reason to believe that this would not be an insurmountable task, because we have recently purchased a recipe book by an actual American, who also happens to be Aftenposten's barbecue expert. In his book "Far Lukter Svidd", he gives a recipe for what he refers to as proper Buffalo Wings, and follows that up with a recipe for blue cheese dressing. In my mind, this project was destined for success.

Right off the bat I ran into some problems - getting hold of raw chicken wings turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated, and I ended up having to order them through Ultra. I started out by making the blue cheese dressing, and it did not peoperly dawn on me until I mixed the ingredients how unbelievably much saturated fat is in that thing - jus amazing. Still; everything appeared to go as planned, until I added the finishing touches, where I discovered that the smell was all wrong - all lemony and stuff. Despite having used less lemon juice and apple cider vinegar than prescribed, it was way too lemony and thus bore little resemblance to the product I was after. Bummer.

Then, as I started prepping the wings, I noticed that there was a severe mismatch between the amount of seasoning prescribed and what was needed to properly cover the wings when using the shake'n'bake technique. Ok - no probs, just double the amount of spices for the seasoning. As the wings went into the oven, I was somewhat taken aback by the color of the wings, or rather, by the lack of reddish color they're supposed to have. According to the recipe, this color would emanate from a 1:1 mixture of melted butter and tabasco sauce (to which I added some proper hot sauce), but that wasn't really happening, and I ended up with a product with more or less the same color, texture and taste as what you get from places like Egon.

As for the final result, I think Darth Vader said it best:

Sunday, May 25, 2008


When you're an "artist" and you go to American Idol, you don't expect to get your ass kicked by one of the contestant with one of your own song.

This is what happened to one republic last wednesday.

Answers Guitar Quiz Bonus Round - Part II

So here are the answers to the second round of the guitar quiz bonus round, part deux.

Song 6: John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom
...boom boom boom boom. I've seen this title with varing number of "Boom's", so I accept every answer that contains Boom (My Heart Goes Boom being a notably exception). I just had to include a song by the boogie master himself. Hooker did also have one of the best blues voices ever. Great song, and even if it's blues, this is has become a standard tune that everybody knows and have heard.

Song 7: ZZ Top - La Grange
and what more fitting to follow up JLH with the boogie masterpiece of ZZ Top? The copyright holders of John Lee Hooker actually sued ZZ Top, claiming that La Grange was a rip off of Boogie Chillun' (a song that ZZ Top did live). One of ZZ Top's first great hits, and still remains a signature tune and killer live concert song. But we all know that this is a total rip-off from Reverende Willy's Blues Mob - Anders Boogie, which is the original:

Song 8: Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
Great Zep tune, and it became even greater after Robert Plant recorded an acoustic version with Rainer Ptacek on guitar. Used to listen to some Zep when I was younger, reminds me that I need to fill some holes in my record collection.

Song 9: Eric Clapton - Running on Faith
This is orignally from the Journeyman album, but I've recored the intro from Unplugged. The dobro part is still on the electric version, so the tune should be recognizable even if you've only heard the Journeyman. The fact that nobody got this one rights, just shows that there is a huge sound difference between a Dobro and a National. Right?

Song 10: Bruce Springsteen - Glory Days
From the Born In The USA album. This is the Boss just as commercial as I like him. Great album; yes, even the 80's had some really great albums.

Song 11: Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire
My favorite tune from Born In The USA. I was surprised to see that others also has this as a favorite tune. Since it's not included on the Greatest Hits album I thought that this was a little gem that has slipped under the rader for most. And the guitar part is not really in front on this on either. So respect to all whole got this one right (though it probably was much easier when I added Glory Days and said it was from the same album).

And here are the results from the Norwegian televotes:
Pigeon - 6 points
Cathy - 7 points

And the final 9 points go to...
Sondre and Wilhelm.

Which leaves this total score:
Pigeon - 12 points
Cathy, Sondre andWilhelm - 11 points

Congrats to the dynamic duo of Sondre and Wilhelm, and to Pigeon for still keeping being a bird's head ahead of the competition.

That's it for this round. Keep on pickin' ;-)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Epic ripping people off under the guise of science

In Dagens Næringsliv's Friday magazine, D2, it was a feature on how one can pay for gettin' ye olde genes analyzed and get the breakdown for whether or not you or your family is predisposed for a number of illnesses, but also whether or not you're predisposed for lower back pain or if your kid's got good odds of having perfect pitch. The price tag for getting a readout - probably not even laminated - stating that your son has a 7.5% chance of having above average (non-verbal) intelligence lies somewhere between 5 and 20 kNOK, with the possibility of add-ons. Basically, you can have your entire life laid out in the form of probability profiles for various ailments, provided you're willing to shell out.

The first thing I thought of was the old saying "A fool and his money are soon parted". Being that this is a commercial product, you might envision that you've got certain rights as a customer, but how is it possible to perform any kind of quality control on the services performed here? In other words; how can you prove that the product is a dud? If you get a print-out stating that you've got a 25% chance of getting the bubonic plague, it still means that the odds of said event not occurring is 75%. If, at age 98 you've not contracted the bubonic plague, what are you going to do? Complain? If you turn it around and you get a profile stating that you've got a 17% chance of getting arthritis - what possible useful information can you get out of that? You can't complain if you don't get arthritis, and if you do get afflicted with said illness there's hardly any cause for celebration.

That's a nice trick, working with probability spaces like that. There's no money-back guarantee and in principle, all these companies need to perform their services, apart for some nerds in rented labcoats holding Erlenmeyer flasks in front of a centrifure poring over some readout for the commercials, all they need is a web site, a banking account and a computer with Excel.

I could do that. As a matter of fact; if you're reading this and you're thinking about ordering an analysis to tell you whether your daughter has the genetic material to be a ballerina, I can tell you that without a shadow of a doubt, I'm ten times the scientist these people are, and I can provide the same services at much lower rates. I can also sell you some pills in a Ziplock bag which not only have a 0.07 probability of strengthening your immune system, but which also increases the size of your penis and whitens your teeth while you sleep. Feel free to contact me for ordering and shipping information. Our product range has just been expanded to include our new Invisible Robot, which will show up in your neighborhood shortly after your check has cleared. You'll be informed of the robot's arrival through coded messages from your TV. If Larry King wears suspenders the day after your payment, it means that you can start scouring your neighborhood for the robot.

The second thing that came to mind was that these companies must in some way be affiliated with the people who provide cryogenic storage facilities to freeze and store people until the cure for whatever ails them is discovered. The potential buyers must be the older generation of the analysis-purchasers. If I was only marginally more cynical than what's presently the case, I'd go into the cryogenic bidness myself. I'd rent some high-tech looking building with one souped-up freezer with a status screen and a baseline-elevated thermometer and a close proximity to a forest or some other free-range uninhabited area. Then I'd start a landscaping company - Pendejo Lawnmowing and Landscaping - a subdivision of Fencejumper.Inc, and wait for some guy to roll into my "cryogenic lab" - say "Nanocrygenics - a subdivision of Suk'R'Bait.Inc" and say something like: "Dr. Wilhelm - I'd like to give you big bags of money each and every month in exchange for you cooling my body to ~100 Kelvin and keeping me under those conditions until scientists figure out a cure for male pattern baldness. Or until scientists find a way to thaw my sub-zero ass without killing me in the process - whichever comes first." I'll smile assuringly and tell him that "Sure brah - I'll hook you up. Just sign these forms and give me your credit information, and we'll get your ass frozen in no time, Chief." while I signal for Julio from my landscaping business to fire up the tractor.

What's he gonna do? Ask for his money back?

Compared to this, many forms of alternative medicine are looking pretty good.

Friday entertainment courtesy of Carlos Mencia

...not particularly PC, but damn he's ON here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

ZZ still rockszzzzzzzz

Just to get Anders off the non-pc hook are some urinal-related funny images (how often do you hear that):

And just in case this should be an epic fail on my part, I'll safeguard by adding these here images below, because it's like they say - "No Money, No Funny":

Rocky rules again!

Somehow I felt this one had to be posted here! Totally non-PC strip, but for once I can say that I'm Rocky... Still laughing as I'm typing here...

Talk about grounds for dismissal

According to, there have ben several incidents where Trondheim bus drivers (from Team Trafikk) have said thrown derogatory remakrs towards gay and lesbian bus passengers, and even asked one girl to leave the bus after she confirmed that she was lesbian after the bus driver inquired about it.

Read that one more time - the bus driver actually asked an oncoming passenger about her sexual orientation. How much of an ignorant douchebag is it possible to be?

In another episode, a 17 year old boy was attacked by a fellow passenger "because he was all feminine-acting", and instead of actually coming to his rescue, the bus driver told the 17 year old boy that he didn't like driving around with gay passengers, and for the rest of the ride, the bus driver and the (other) bully talked amongst themselves about how much they hate gays........

If there is even a grain of truth to this, the bus drivers in question should be made examples out of - fired, forced to apoligize publicly and THEN have to pay some reparations to heir victims. This kind of medieval crap needs to be struck down on hard.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

..welcome to my world

Lately I've had the significant misfortune of working out close to and thus overhearing some wifebeater-wearing, NBA-style shorts-sporting self-styled guru either brag about how big and swole he is to some other, slightly smaller version of himself, or explain which exercises give the biggest arms to the same schmoe. Inevitably, the slightly bigger douchebag will pull the time-tested "but right now I'm focusing on shape, because I don't want to become too big" so as to provide a pre-emptive statement to the effect of "I could've been bigger than Sonbaty ca. 1997 if I wanted to."

Then they'll see my reflection in the mirror or notice me walking by, and all of a sudden the self-appointed guru is all about how if he wanted to become much bigger he'd have to start using gear, before they swiftly pack up their pink dumbbells and move to another section of the gym where the guru can give advice to teenagers on how to become hyooge like him.

The fact that so many members at supposedly normal, family-style gyms are such freaks, is quite the eye-opener.

At least nobody ever asks me to work in or comes over to give me training advice.

Rocky rules!

And this stripe really made my day after completing the second round of the guitar bonus quiz.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Guitar Quiz Bonus Round - Part II

So, a bit late, but here are round two of the bonus quiz, as requested by Wilhelm.

Edit: Since song 7 was totally unknow (except for the few musical gourmets out there) and song 10 was too crappy, I replaced them. Song 10 is still from the same best selling 80's album as the previous one. Song 7 is a brand new alltime classic...

Edit II: Old song 10 is back (with a vengeance) as song 11, for a bonus point this round. So 11 points this round (song 10 and 11 are by the same artist, from the same album)

Now some of you guys should have a fighting chance of getting a full score!

Send your answers to by Saturday 24th of May. Answers will be posted on Sunday 25th of May. Good luck!

Song 6:

Song 7:

Song 8:

Song 9:

Song 10:

Song 11:

The guitar nerdy stuff:
Song 6 - Supro
Song 7 - Takamine
Song 8 - Supro
Song 9 - National Style O
Song 10 - Supro
Song 11 - Supro

The guitar tones may not resemble anything near the original, but this is what I got...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Maybe time to retire for Sponheim?

In Friday's Dagens Næringsliv, there was a piece on how various investors are planning on donating money to the conservative parties because industry and private enterprises in general are less than satisfied with the current government. This isn't something new of course, but what's interesting is that the investors are trying to wrangle up enough money to match the funds that worker's unions like LO are donating to the socialist side of the political spectrum in Norway. In other words, the capitalists are struggling to raise the same amount of money currently flowing from the unions to the left wing.

Maybe putting a reasonable ceiling on soft funds in Norwegian politics would be a good thing at this point in time. Whatever. It might not matter anyways, because one party, Venstre, refuses to support or indeed be a part of any political constellation involving Fremskrittspartiet (The Progress Party). Being as how Fremskrittspartiet is the second largest political party in Norway and has far more mandates than the traditional conservative heavyweight - Høyre, this pretty much means that the odds of toppling the present government at the next election is shot. Despite Venstre being a minor party, the left and right sides of Norwegian politics are far too close for a majority government to be realistic without support from the middle. Thus, a party which from the latest polls gets 5.4 percent of the votes gets actual political power from being in a pivotal position.

Alternatively put, the parties straddling the middle ground in politics have no real strategies of their own, seeing as how they can flip-flop to either side.

But ok; Venstre does not want to back any government in which Fremskrittspartiet has any role at all. The reason for this according to Lars Sponheim: "I'm supposed to represent Venstre's voters, and what they want least of all is for Fremskrittspartiet to be a part of the government."

Dude; retire now. Don't hide behind the supposed wishes of your voters - at least have the guts to point to irreconcilable differences (which by definition have passed through a negotiation stage) on issues like x, y and z. 'Cause I almost voted Venstre last time around, and there was no mention of this in the party program, which would have featured this scenario if it was anywhere close to being as important as it's suddenly made out to be.

Of course, if Sponheim retires, they've got jack and shit, and jack just quit national politics and also got divorced from his model wife, meaning no free general interest headlines. The less said about the debating skills of Sponheim's second-in-command, the better.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Billy Joel is SO Da Man


Piano Man:

...and my favourite; Baby Grand:

Tis the Season

Specifically, 'tis the season for writing grant applications, bitterly regretting having an open-door policy for students cramming for the upcoming exam, trying to comply with faculty deadlines for submission of dissertation statements, and for getting all kinds of last-minute assignments dumped on me from people higher up on the academic totem pole.

I've got a love/hate relationship to writing grant proposals, mainly due to the fact that the deadlines from funding agencies always coincide with the deadlines for other annual or biannual major deadlines, partly because of the fact that I'm forced to jump through ever-increasing levels of beureaucratic hoops in order to submit the application, but also in some part because during the process I am forced to do that which I do not want to do, a.k.a. budget projections, and due to the inherent uncertainty of the process combined with the infrequent submission windows.

Dealing with student questions in the last two weeks before the exam is part of the job, and often it's even a rewarding part of it, when well-prepared students ask questions forcing you to think through a derivation or a concept from a new angle. There's also, however, the dealing with the students who've just started looking at old exam questions, not to mention just started browsing through the book, and are trying to make up for an entire semester in two weeks or less. I am very familiar with this process - as a matter of fact I typically waited until the exam date was much closer before I bothered studying (right, Anders?), but this strategy worked out pretty ok for me. Far be it from me to preach about study habits. However; if you're not doing too well grade-wise, the cramming approach might not be the way to go for you, is all I'm saying. Also - there IS such a thing as stupid questions when accounting for circumstances and expected background.

In other news, pro wrestling is choreographed, the Atkins, ketosis and other lo-to-no carb diets are REALLY bad for yo' health, Clapton is the most overrated guitarist of all time and Elvis doesn't share a studio apartment with James Dean and Jimi Hendrix on the mothership behind the comet from the Planet Niburu...

Now it's back to looking at those budget projections, dammit!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Michael Romeo: scary skillz

Mike Romeo is freakin' scary; check out how effortless this looks...first Sea Of Lies:

Then Out Of The Ashes:

Test your geography skillz

Aftenposten online has a couple of online geography tests, including one for European Capitals and one for US states. I've taken both, and apparently I suck at finding the Capitals of European countries which have not existed for more than ten years, but I'm disturbingly accurate at locating US states.

How do y'all do on these ones?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hey Pigeon.... light of your recent comments regarding guys in bicycle shorts, I'd like your opinion on certain aspects of the reunion of New Kids On The Block.....specifically I was wondering which one of these guys is your favorite? Or favourite if you prefer:

Why bicycle shorts tend to be black

Thanks to Prof. J.G. for the visual aids....

Although wearing bicycle shorts by definition makes you look like some kind of incontinent deviant, the color choice should not be taken lightly.

As you can see the standard black bicycle shorts leaves you looking like a douchebag, but for the gentleman who spends large chunks of time rubbing his groin against a lightly padded metal contraption, a look at the alternatives might offer some insight into why black could be the way to go:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Answers guitar quiz bonus round

So, here are the answers to the bonus round:

Rolling Stones - Start me up
Y'all got this one, which surprised me a bit. Classic Stones. In open G with the bottom string remove, because according to Keef all you need is "Five strings, three chords, two hands and one asshole" (check, check, check and check) which is way more rock'n'roll then Dylan's "this red guitar, three chords and the truth".

Johnny Cash/ Nine Inch Nails - Hurt
Johnny Cash made this song his own, even Trent Reznor from NiN has said that in public. Great tune from his "American" series of releases. RIP Johnny.

George Thorogood - Bad To The Bone
The all time badboy movie song. George basically built his whole carrere on this song. His second most known song, Get A Haircut and Get A Real Job (which would be the anthem of my life), is miles behind Bad To The Bone.

Fleetwood Mac - Landslide
Yeah, this was the difficult one. But it's from the selftitle album that launched the new direction of Fleetwood Mac, going from blues to pop music, and made way for the follow-up album, Rumours, which is one of the top ten best selling albums ever. So it's not an unknown band. And this tune was covered by the Dixie Chicks, and was feature on a TV commercial with heavy rotation I thought some might have a fighting chance to recognize it. By chance I was browsing through some guitar books in a local store, and found the book "28 classic acoustic guitar riffs" which featured Landslide. So it's not a completely unknown tune either.

Creedence Clearwater Rivial - Born On The Bayou
Classic Creedence, and one of my favorite Creendece tunes. A bit surprised that nobody got this one right, because I didn't expect it to be that more difficult then the Stones tune. The intro riff (with the "secret chord"; it is just me or is any chord that's not in first position "secret" these days?), but the riff goes on for the whole song, with an addtional A and D thrown in for good measure.

Which leaves this score:
Pigeon - 6 points
Cathy - 4 points
Sondre/ Wilhelm - 2 points.

A bit surprised that not everybody got Bad To The Bone. It must be the recording for that one, since everybody and his brother know that song. I blame it one the Tascam for note getting the correct tone or my playing. But in defense of my playing, I didn't have any of those little drawings of where to put my fingers:

And congrats to Pigeon for delivering a french knock-out!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Health and weight loss

You can eat whatever you want and still lose weight, is an interesting header at VG online today. Citing a study from Mandoleanklinikken at Karolinska Institutet, VG claims that you can still eat pizza, cake and what have you, as long as you limit the intake, and eat slowly and frequently. In other words, as long as you limit the caloric intake, you can eat whichever combination of nutritional sources and still potentially reduce your body mass.

Take a minute or a second to read that last sentence again. Click the link, read the story, check the background material, google the big words if ya have to - it's all right - and then come back.

If ya take in less calories than you expend, ya probably gonna lose weight - how very Simpson-esque: "LISA! In this house we obey the laws of THERMODYNAMICS!"

So ok; having established that the laws of nature apply to the human metabolism, let's move on to what if anything this has to do with health. For some inexplicable reason, weight loss is tied closely to improved health in the minds of the people who are likely to purchase diet plans and diet products. Whenever people go on a diet, they measure their success in the loss of body mass. Assuming that the goal of accomplishing body mass is met, does this equate to improved health? In other words; does it matter what you eat, can the diet subsequently affect your body composition and in turn your health?

Not according to Professor Per Södersten from Karolinska. With the caveat of VG misquoting him, he states that it doesn't matter WHAT you eat; your body still extracts what it needs of nutrients from the available food.

Is that right, Chief.......dude should have quit while he was still ahead....and that point ended almost exactly where he stated that eating less calories than what is expended leads to weight loss. Take another minute to re-read what he said...a calorie is a calorie, etc. if I decide to take in my ideal amount of calories exclusively in the form of bacon grease and beer, it won't have any ill effect on my health. Nice going.

...soldiers and sailors from the 18th century and earlier just called and said that Prof. Södersten is full of crap.....something about scurvy and a deficiency of vitamin C, despite them taking in enough calories.

Fortunately, VG also got some comments from Norwegian nutritionists who stress that you should eat healthy foods etc.

Epic douchebaggery from Prof. Södersten considering that people are gullible enough to buy into concepts like the Atkins diet, the grapefruit diet, the Hollywood diet, etc. People can get hurt by shoddy dietary advice like this.

Apparently those diplomas you can get online are more authentic-looking now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Riddle me this....

Regarding Hillary Clinton's candidacy, there's been a lot of speculation - justified or not - on whether this for all practical purposes means that good ol' Bill gets a third term, or at least more political influence than what's usually bestowed upon what in this hypothetical scenario would be First Spouse (or "First Hick" in the case of ol' Bill).

Cue a bunch of self-appointed keepers of morality and justice who cry "sexism" - surely these statements are only made because Hillary Clinton is a woman. The Humanity, etc.

Now riddle me this......does anyone seriously think that if for some bizarre reason Sir Denis Thatcher had been elected Prime Minister of Great Britain after John Major's first term, nobody would suspect Margaret Thatcher - the Iron Lady herself - to show more than a casual interest in the state of affairs and perhaps influence the goings-on a wee bit more than the norm?

..or from domestic politics - if Arne Olav Brundtland had been elected Prime Minister after, say Syse, does anyone really think that Gro Harlem Brundtland, the most revered and dominant statesperson in Norway since Gerhardsen - wouldn't have been more involved in the political processes than, say the spouse of our present Prime Minister?

If so, and you still think that the Clinton example is pure sexism, enjoy your oceanfront property on Denial Island. Should you consider returning to the real world, I've got a bridge to sell ya...

The Easter Bunny Hates You

Bwahhahahaa....courtesy of Joe:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Firewind and Kamelot 050308 concert review

So we're back from the sold-out concert in Oslo (Sentrum Scene), and it was a truly awesome and memorable experience. Neither band disappointed. The only thing that ticked me off was the addition of a "special guest", of which there was no mention when we bought the ticket. I learned of the "special guest" through an ad in Aftenposten on the day of the concert (Saturday), and I was not pleased. To top it off, I'd never heard of this band before, despite me following the metal scene quite closely. What the hell kind of name is "Forever Slave" anyways - probably some band which shares label or management with the headliners, and thus is force-fed to the paying audience. These were my initial thoughts anyways.

Now, in case you're one of the glass half full and mind half empty-hybrids who might inquire why I'm being so negative to the addition of a third band to the bill, allow me to explain a little about the dynamics and hard realities we're dealing with here. First of all, the concert was sold out, like I mentioned. Which means you can't really go anywhere and expect to find your former space still available. Rather, you'll be forced to watch the concert from the nosebleed section. Second, when you've got to stand more or less in place for between four and five hours, the additional hour you didn't pay for - and which appears before the artists you shelled out cold hard cash to witness - starts to suck. Third, while the opening act doesn't add much in terms of playing time, they add 30-45 minutes of rigging and handling time between acts, as the drum set needs to be replaced, everything needs to be rewired and so on, 'cause no heavy metal primadonna wants to be stuck with someone else's gear. So; any additional act is going to delay the headliners by at least 60-75 minutes.

So; here is my review of this magical experience, with the artists in the order of appearance:

Forever Slave
I suspected that the "special guests" were going to be epic scrubs, so we delayed our arrival by half an hour. I'm glad. When we entered Sentrum Scene, "Forever Slave" were mid-gig, and I was not impressed. The sad thing is that the bands I gigged with in the early 90's would have blown this band right off the stage, 'cause the sheer lack of talent and absence of charisma they exhibited was borderline impressive. The outfit was a Nightwish-clone, which in and of itself is a big, red flashing sign. The concept of "beauty and the beast" with a - supposedly - classically trained soprano female singer in front only works if a) said female singer can carry a tune, b) they've got good song material, c) the other musicians know how to handle their instruments and d) they've got charisma and presence. This particular bunch of Spanish also-rans failed massively in all respects. The song structures were laughable, the guitar solos were tragic, the "opera song" was abysmally out of tune, and their attempts at crowd participation bits were monumental failures. "Hhhello...we're Forever Slave, and thees is last concert of tour....we hhhappy to be Norway, and we like thank management, record laaabel, Firewind and Kemalot for bringing us on tour, and of course thenk you veery much to all our fans in audeience". Bunch of Euro-mexicans. But what can you expect from a bunch that operates with black metal names - check it out: On vocals: Lady Angellyca. Bass: Servalath. Lead guitar: Oswalth., etc. Oh, brother.....back to the lab again, yo. Sadly, the band was formed in 2000, so unless they improve exponentially, they're still gonna suck long after Lady Angellyca has to give up her other gig as "goth model", whatever that might be.

We've seen Firewind before - on tour with Dragonforce in 2006, right after Firewind released their "Allegiance" album. They impressed me then, and this time they were even better. They started off with two tunes from their new album (The Premonition) - the kick-ass opening song "Into The Fire" and "Angels Forgive Me" before any opening small talk. They played for about an hour, and there was almost no overlap with the set list from last time we saw them, save for "Falling To Pieces", "'Till The End Of Time", and the fantastic "I Am The Anger". I was overjoyed when they launched into "Between Heaven And Hell" in addition to most of my favorite songs from the new album - "Mercenary Man" and "Head Up High". Firewind keeps getting better as a band, and they've got great material. Apollo did an even better job on vocals than I remember from last time, and Gus G. just keeps getting better. He's got that solo guitarist look down, and his return to Yngwie-isms totally suits him. Gus obviously picked something up from the tour with Dragonforce, as he put his guitar through some of the patented Herman Li whammy-lift harmonics. His signature guitar really is an awesome-looking instrument. I should also mention that having the keyboard player double as rhytm guitarist is such a great use of manpower, and I cannot believe that we never thought of that back in the day. Dammit.

There's no denying that Kamelot were the true headliners. The show started in spectacular fashion, with a sole female violinist entering the stage and playing the opening song of "Ghost Opera" - "Solitaire" with a backdrop of purple smoke, after which the entire band launched into "Rule The World" accompanied by some heavy-duty pyro. Unfortunately, Roy Khan had problems with his voice - 23 gigs in 29 days all over Europe would do that to most - but he really gave it his all on this final concert of the Ghost Opera tour. Frankly I was worried about his voice, as he had to take a break in mid-set to rest his voice while the band launched into an instrumental/drum solo. he even had to take a second break later while Oliver Palotai played his keyboard solo. That was totally worth it though, as his technical skill and command of various classical pieces is second to few. Still; the band IS Roy Khan, and he's one of my absolute favorite singers. Moreover, he's got that elusive star quality which makes him a great front man. Despite his voice problems, it was absolutely magical to be witness to a live rendition of songs like "Forever", "Abandoned", "Center Of The Universe" and the stunning "Love You To Death". The equally stunning "The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)" was there as well, but without a quality soprano to perform the second voice (like Simone Simons of Epica), it lacked something. After finishing their primary set, they came on stage for an encore the likes of which I've never seen. When they entered the stage, Khan introduced his 85 year old grandfather by saying that if there was such a thing as getting musical genes passed down from someone, this is where he'd gotten his talent. The grandfather came onstage accompanied by Oliver Palotai, and was handed an accordion(!!). Khan then asked for silence (my grandfather is a bit hard of hearing) while they would play a song from the region of Norway Khan's family hails from - Danse Mi Vise, Gråte Min Sang. Khan sat down next to his grandfather, and sang while granddad played accordion. Both Khan and the granddad (and a good number of the good people in the audience) had to dry their eyes several times during the performance. I've got to say that it was really cool of the audience to give Khan's grandfather silence to perform and the mother of all crowd cheers when they were done. Truly touching. After escorting Granddad backstage, Khan roused the audience and launched into "Ghost Opera", "On The Coldest Winter Night" and "Nothing Ever Dies", before the band said goodbye and ventured offstage. ...only to return for a second encore, starting off with "March Of Mephisto", and ending with "Karma". Fantastic concert! I wish Khan and Kamelot all the success in the world, and I hope to see them again soon.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ghost Opera

The new video and title song from Kamelot's latest album - Ghost Opera.

Totally gives me chills.

I'm baaaaaack

...from a lovely weekend in Oslo, complete with too much refreshments at one point, awesome food and company, and a great concert I'll write more about soon.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wrestling is for real

I swear I'm never going to claim that wrestling is fake again...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Guitar Quiz Bonus Round...

Well, I don't want to step on anybody’s toes here, so this is not going to be a regular thing. But since Wilhelm so graciously supplied us with a 100 songs, I thought he might like the chance to test his quiz solving skills and how he compares with the rest of us.

So, I tried to 5 songs that Wilhelm wouldn't have included on his quiz (pretty difficult with that range of songs that has been on the quiz) and recorded them on my Tascam DP-01 FX. The guitar tones on the Tascam are pretty limited compare to what Wilhelm has, so they are not close to the real thing. And I'm still learning the Tascam, so sorry about the low quality recording. One of the songs came out awful, but I couldn't be bother going back and re-record. It's all just for fun anyway. Some of the songs should be pretty easy and some are a bit on the difficult side.

Anyway, you know the drill artist + song title, but submit your answers to Last chance of entering is Saturday 10th of May. Answers will be posted on Sunday 11th of May.

Song 1:

Song 2:

Song 3:

Song 4:

Song 5:

The nerdy guitar facts for those who cares:
Song 1 - Supro in open G
Song 2- Takamine in standard tuning
Song 3 - Supro in open G
Song 4 - Takamine in standard, capo 3rd.
Song 5 - Supro in standard