Saturday, September 29, 2007

On my Country and its Newspapers

Norway is a special country, created for those with special interests. It is not for everybody. Even Michele makes Mistakes...

However, even weirder than the country are the newspapers, espcially the internet version of them. Apart from the universal tendency to become more and more tabloid-like, Norwegian Newspapers are in th process of perfecting the art of creating headlines that are completely divorced from the contents of the articles they are meant to draw attention to. That, too, is pretty universal.

More worrying is the tendency to create headlines which have only one purpose, to attract the prurient and simple-minded, and in the process insulting individuals.

A case in point is today's (29 September 2007) treatment of the discovery that a book edited by Princess Märtha Louise contains sections which are translations from Danis-language originals, and that the translator has neither been asked for permission to reproduce, not been offered compensation for the use.

As the editor is a Princess, the newspapers have gone completely voerboard, forgetting everything they know about the publishing industry (of which, one might have presumed, they are part...?).

Instead of attacking the incompetence of the pubishing house that has managed to neglect basic business practices and common decency, the papers have focussed on the word "princess" and seen a marketing opportunity in attacking her.

I am pretty sure the Princess is able to defend herself, and that this will blow over - as things do - but the following selection of headlines show the depths to which the publications in question can plunge when they put their minds to the task:

Märtha Louise stjeler (Dagbladet) (Märtha Louise steals)

Tyv og hykler (VG)  (Thief and hypocrite)

Märtha stjal oversettelser (Aftenposten, through (Märtha Louise stole translations)

The journalists and editors of these rags are safe, or at least they believe they are, as the Princess might be reluctant to sue them (as she is surely entitled to, given the venomous and incompetent attacks on her), but the pubications as such should hang their heads in shame.

The people who create headlines are different from those who write articles. The former are anonymous, the latter are not - but one assumes they have acquiesced, or at least are aware of who it was who produced the thing. So, singled out for particular shame:

PÅL NORDSETH (Dagbladet)
VG hides behind a wire story from NTB
Aftenposten, also, is too shy to maintain its story from earlier in the day and hides behind

What a bunch of silly people...

Friday, March 16, 2007

On Sandefjord

Sandefjord is the closest thing I have to a "home town". It is a small place, sometimes a bit claustrophobic, full of good people, and irritatingly modern. It is a place where people cannot make up their minds as to whether they are semi-urbanized peasants or urban people living in the provinces.

It is a place I would like to go back to live, but it is probably too late. I would only get annoyed and begin to be destructive. Better to visit - now and then.

Others have different views or, at least, views that vary over time. People have moved to Sandefjord in quite large numbers, and it is not surprising. It is a pleasant place to live - at least in summer. The place has attractions: an international airport, trains, ferry, a motorway nearby, an international school, other educational opportunities a fairly international set of businesses and so on.

Trouble is, the local authorities think a forward-looking plan for the town involves important issues like the illumination of some of the streets in the centre of twon, and the possibility of profiting from schemes to exploit the district’s Viking heritage for tourism purposes.

They haven't realised that the climate, in itself, prohibits tourism for more than about three months a year and that, moreover, the locals are not particularly keen on having more strangers there than they have already. They are already upset about the influx of Swedes some hundred years ago, not to speak of the following appearance of people from the West Coast of Norway - the effects have yet to be seen, if I understand relatives correctly.

It is not an easy place to be an immigrant - I was one myself, as a child - many years ago. It is even more difficult for someone not even Norwegian. One such was an Egyptian ship captain who married a local girl - 35 years ago? - And took quite a bit of time before he found a place in the local community.

Another one - who should be supported - is an American woman who has produced an excellent blog "" which should be read by anyone interested in how "our" community appears from the point of view of a newcomer.

Best of luck to her, with her Norwegian course, her work, husband, pets, bureaucrats and other annoyances.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Prisoners

"28. februar 2007 befinner Pham seg inne på Club Kamikaze i Oslo", says Aftenposten 15 March 2007 (

For those who have not not followed this story, the short version is that an individual was murdered in Oslo, possibly in the context of some shady transactions among people involved in the restaurant / entertainement business in Oslo.

The interesting thing is that one of the main suspects was, at the time, serving a 21 year sentence for a previous murder. Apparently he was not subjected to particularly onerous conditions: he was allowed leave almost on a weekly basis. Hence - as indicated in the first sentence (in Norwegian), he was at Club Kamikaze in Oslo on 28 28 February.

Can anyone explain how someone who has been sentenced to 21 years prison (the most severe sentence available to a Norwegian court) is allowed to visit a nightclub more than 100 kms away from his prison cell? Is there any point to the incarceration of this individual at all?

Moreover, from other press reports, it appears that the murder of which this individual is now accused was planned from witin the prison, and involved other prisoners in other prisons: can anyone explain this?

We have a tradition of giving people another opportunity, and a third or an eleventh. That is good and positive. People can make a whole strong of stupid mistakes and still turn out OK. But there is a difference between your common-or-garden variety burglar,  and people who 
have been described by  professionals as  "en person med mangelfullt utviklede sjelsevner, på bakgrunn av mange nevrotiske og personlighetsavvikende trekk, hvor også manglende selvinnsikt kommer inn." (Aftenposten, ibid). 

To translate, informally, someone who is a nutcase. And he is given the opportunity to continue to operate from within the prison, and someone ends up dead.

Well done, systen!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Cypriots and Taking Responsibility

Todays - 13 of OCtober 2006 - version of the World's Best Newspaper,Cyprus Mail - carried an editorial dealng with the recent French decision to mak it a crime to deny that the Armenians were subjected to a genocide in the early part of the twentieth century. Somewhat predictable, "Cyprus Mail" felt this was entirely appropriate.

Turkey, they felt, needs to own up to its many crimes, including those against Cyprus and, in particular the Greek Cypriots.

The Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, have never entertained any idea of admitting any responsibility for the current situation.

No responsibility for anything at all, in fact.

That is why the same newspaper, on the same date, reported a number of storms and great precipitation as a a result of Greek rains...It is alsways someone else who is at fault.

Friday, March 10, 2006

On Pakistan International Airways (or Airlines)

PIA has advertised in Norwegian media as part of an effort to recruit new stewardesses. This is, basically, a good initiative on many levels. A Pakistani company recruiting in the West is an improvement on the theft of intellectuals by Europe from poorer, but well educated, countries. Nevertheless, there are some problems with this effort (more or less acknoweldged by the local PIA people in Oslo).

The issue is interesting, though, also in the context of the the recent cartoon feud after Jyllands-Postens publication of charicatures of the Prophet. Not because the causes or the cnsequences are similar, but because the PIA effort illustrates the scope for constructing a false picture of what happens, or comes from, Elsewhere. This entry as a warning of how easy it is to construct an offense.

To wit:

For the fun of it I took a little time to look properly at an ad that appeared in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, seeking stewardesses for PIA. The reason I played around with it (it can be found at, at least as of 10 March 2006) is that seems to me a perfect illustration of how what is perfectly ordinary in one cultural setting can become entirely unacceptable in another.

Now, on the thing itself:

There are a number of elements in that advertisement that might be offensive to many Norwegians, and some of them are probably illegal.

Now, we can deal with this in several ways. It can be ignored (relatively safely, few Norwegian women would feel tempted by a company quite as crass and offensive as PIA). It can be referred to the relevant authorities (which, I gather, is actually being done), where the matter would be studied, remedies proposed, penalties (if applicable) imposed, and the advertiser given the opportunity to mend his ways (I think it is relatively safe, in this case, to use the male pronoun).

Or, we can go off and burn the Malaysian Embassy.

The actual advert cannot be reproduced here, but the following are the most offensive highlights. Obviously, and in fairness, the ad also has a number of perfectly non-controversial clauses and requirements. And advertising for staff is respectable in and of itself.

The point of this exercise is to illustrate how easy it is to take a document of some sort which has made an appearance in one context and build a case against it in another context. The PIA advert is probably completely uncontroversial in, to take a random example, Pakistan. There are probably some who would object, but not in sufficient numbers or sufficiently seriously, to have the ad pulled (Aftenposten, where the PIA thing appeared, has said it regrets accepting the ad).

Anyone with sufficient writing and PR skills could turn the list of elements set out below into the basis for a serious bout of anti-Pakistanism, and get people agitated about it. The reason it won't happen is partly because there are institutions to deal with in more sensible ways.

Anyhow, here is the list:

1. "Join PIA as Flight Stewardess." - the headline.

This headline insists that applicants have to be female, male "stewardesses" doesn't make sense in any language. This excludes the male half of the population from even applying for the positions, however much they might want to "see the world". The gaffe is repeated, reinforced on compounded in the following paragraph

2.. ".talented young girls." (my italics)

Few people would take offence at a requirement that job applicants need to be - or at least ought to be - talented. Comments have already been made on the exclusion of men from this opportunity, but here the field is narrowed further. The applicants have to be young, (defined, subsequently, as 20 - 25 years of age).

Quite a few people in Norway would be seriously offended by this. To be excluded from a profession, such as Flight Stewardess, by having an age over 25 years is not only silly but discriminatory and against all values of Norwegian society, where "ageism" has been increasingly a matter for concern. And, in any case, there is no practical reason for the limitation imposed. And it is probably illegal.

3.. "Nationality: Norwegian".

It is illegal, and highly offensive, to discriminate among people on the basis of their nationality. It is also questionable what is meant by this. Does an applicant have to have Norwegian citizenship as a minimum requirement, or does ethnicity come into it. Can African women resident in Norway apply? If they have citizenship? Or is it a matter of recruiting blonde, blue-eyed attractions to the company.

Whatever the reason, and absent an argument about, say, national security, the nationality requirement is highly offensive, insulting to many and most probably illegal.

4.. "Marital Status: Single"

Since when does PIA have the right to interfere in people's marriage and family plans? Whether a person is single or otherwise is irrelevant to his or her ability to perform a particular job.

If for some reason, PIAs scheduling of flights presents problems for staff of various categories, it is up to PIA to take the steps necessary to alleviate or obviate the problem.

To require applicants to be single is a transgression against Norwegian women (and, indeed, all women). It is highly offensive and quite possibly illegal.

5.. "Users of spectacles and candidates with skin problems need not apply"

What is this nonsense? For decades, people have tried to make sure that people are not discriminated against because of physical infirmities or similar causes. And what is a "user of spectacles" - someone who uses reading glasses in bad lighting conditions, or someone who is blind without them? And "skin problems"? Is a rash on a knee sufficient reason for rejection, or are we talking whole-body psoriasis? The point is that is offensive to exclude anyone from the job market or a segment thereof for reasons which have no bearing on their ability to do the job for which recruitment is being carried out.

It is also illegal.

6.. "Two full postcard size standing photographs, one with front and one with side pose"

As there is also a requirement for passport photographs (in the paragraph immediately preceding this), it is not immediately clear what these post card size photographs are meant to illustrate or document.

The only possible explanation, in the absence of other information, is that the recruiters wish to inspect the body of the applicant in as much details as can be achieved within the bounds of decency.

But it isn't decent to inspect girls' bodies for recruitment purposes. In fact, it is highly offensive, to the individuals involved, to most women in Norway and in fact, most of the population of Norway. It constitutes a grave insult to Norwegian women and is, probably, illegal.

Monday, July 12, 2004

On the Origins of my Family

Genealogy is an interesting hobby that can reveal a lot about the ups and downs of one's ancestors, the number of cows they had and the presence of distant relatives in various households: sponging is not a new phenomenon.

In this day and age, the web is an excellent source of information and among the most valuable is, the site maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, to which I am suitably grateful.

Now and then those who post information there go a little overboard, though, as evidence from the example below, which takes its starting point with a real, if dead, person and demonstrates that I, without doubt, am descended from one "Adam of God", and who married "Eve of Adam's Rib", some time ago. (Exactly how they got married is uclear, but not much of a difficulty for Protestants - Catholics may have more of a problem with this phenomenon taking place without a priest in evidence). Here goes:

39th Great Grand Parents

2774062333952. King Thorri Snaersson, King of Finnland.

2774062334080. Olaf "the wood cutter", born 682, died in Burned to death Venner lake, event in King of Austland. He married Princess Solveig Halfdansdr, married in Romerrike Buskerud Norway.

2774062334081. Princess Solveig Halfdansdr, born 684 in Soleyar Sweden.

2774062334084. Agnar Sigtrygson, born 693 in Vestfold.

40th Great Grand Parents

5548124667904. King Snae the Old, born 275 in Finland, event in King of Kvenland.

5548124668160. Ingjald the Wicked, born 660 in King of Sweden (sic), died in Burned to death. He married Gauthild Algautsdotter.

5548124668161. Gauthild Algautsdotter, born 664 in Sweden.

5548124668162. Halfdan Goldtooth petty king, born abt 660.

5548124668168. King in Vend Sigtryg.

41st Great Grand Parents

11096249335808. Prince Jokull Frostasson, born 240 in Finland.

11096249336320. Onund Braut Ingvarsson, born 638 in Sweden, died in Killed by a landslide, event in King of Sweden (sic).

11096249336322. King Algaut Gautreksson, born 639 in Gotland. He married Alov Olafsdatter, married Abt 662 in Sweden.

11096249336323. Alov Olafsdatter, born in Nerike.

11096249336324. Solve Solversson, born in Soleyar Island Norway.

42nd Great Grand Parents

22192498671616. King Frosti Karasson, born 210 in Finland, event in King of Kvenland.

22192498672640. King Yngvar the Tall, born 616 in Swden, event in King of Sweden (sic), buried in Estland by the Sea.

22192498672644. King Gautrek the Mild, born 618 in Gotland.

22192498672646. King Olaf the Sharp-sighted.

22192498672648. Solve the Old.

43rd Great Grand Parents

44384997343232. King Kari Fornjotsson, born 185 in Finland, event in King of Kvenland.

44384997345280. King Eystein Adilsson, born 594 in Sweden, died in Burned to death in Lofond, event in King of Sweden (sic).

44384997345288. Gaut.

44th Great Grand Parents

88769994686464. Fornjotur King of Kvenland, born 160 in Finland.

88769994690560. King Adils Ottarsson, born 572 in Sweden, died in Fell from his horse at Disa Hall, or Killed by a bull, event in King of Sweden (sic), buried in Uppsala. He married Queen Yrsa Helgasdotter, married in Sweden.

88769994690561. Queen Yrsa Helgasdotter.

45th Great Grand Parents

177539989381120. King Ottar Vendilkraka, born 551 in Warmland Sweden.

46th Great Grand Parents

355079978762240. King Egil Aunsson, born 530 in Uppsala, died in Uppsala, killed by a bull, event in King of Uppsala.

47th Great Grand Parents

710159957524480. King Aun the Old, born 509, event in King of Uppsala.

48th Great Grand Parents

1420319915048960. King Jorund Yngvisson, born 487 in Uppsala, died in Odessund, was hanged, event in King of Uppsala.

49th Great Grand Parents

2840639830097920. King Ylvi Alriksson, born 466, event in King of Sweden (sic).

50th Great Grand Parents

5681279660195840. King Alrik Agnisson, born 445. He married Princess Dageid Dagsdotter, married Abt 465 in Sweden.

5681279660195841. Princess Dageid Dagsdotter, born 449 in Sweden.

51st Great Grand Parents

11362559320391680. King Agni Dagsson, born 424, died in Stoksund (hanged), event in King of Sweden (sic), buried in Stoksund. He married Skjalv Frostadotter, married Abt 443.

11362559320391681. Skjalv Frostadotter.

11362559320391682. Dag the Powerful King, born 431 in Sweden.

52nd Great Grand Parents

22725118640783360. King Dag the Wise, born abt 403 in Uppsala, died in The River at Skjotan.

53rd Great Grand Parents

45450237281566720. Dygve the Brave Domarsson, born 382 in Sweden, event in "The Mighty King".

54th Great Grand Parents

90900474563133440. King Domar Domaldsson, born 361 in Sweden, event in King of Uppsala. He married Queen Drott Danpsdotter.

90900474563133441. Queen Drott Danpsdotter.

55th Great Grand Parents

181800949126266880. King Domald Visbursson, born 340 in Uppsala.

56th Great Grand Parents

363601898252533760. King Visbur Vanlandsson, born 319 in Uppsala.

57th Great Grand Parents

727203796505067520. King Vanlande Svegdisson, born 298 in Uppsala. He married Princess Driva Snaesdotter.

727203796505067521. Princess Driva Snaesdotter, born 302 in Finnland.

58th Great Grand Parents

1454407593010135040. King Svegdi Fjolnesson, born 277 in Uppsala, Sweden. He married Vana, married abt 297.

1454407593010135041. Vana, born 281 in Vanheim in Sweden.

1454407593010135042. King Snae the Old, (see same person above in generation 43) born 275 in Finland, event in King of Kvenland.

59th Great Grand Parents

King Fjolne Yngvi Freysson, born 256 in Uppsala, died in Copenhagen in Denmark, event in Drottnar of Sweden.

60th Great Grand Parents

Yngvi Frey King of Swedes, born 235 in Uppsala. He married Gerd Gymisdatter.

Gerd Gymisdatter.

61st Great Grand Parents

Njord Drot of Swedes, born abt 214 in Noatun, Sweden, died in Noatun, Sweden.

62nd Great Grand Parents

King Odin / Woden "Drotnar", born Abt 190 in Near the Black Sea, Asia, died in Sweden. He married (1) Queen Frigg. He married (2) Skade.

Queen Frigg.

63rd Great Grand Parents

Frithuwald Bor, born Abt 160 in Asia.

64th Great Grand Parents

Frealaf, born 130 in Asia.

65th Great Grand Parents


66th Great Grand Parents


67th Great Grand Parents

Finn, born in Asia.

68th Great Grand Parents

Flocwald, born 80 in Asia.

69th Great Grand Parents

Godwolf, born 60 in Asia.

70th Great Grand Parents


71st Great Grand Parents


72nd Great Grand Parents


73rd Great Grand Parents


74th Great Grand Parents


75th Great Grand Parents


76th Great Grand Parents


77th Great Grand Parents


78th Great Grand Parents


79th Great Grand Parents


80th Great Grand Parents


81st Great Grand Parents


82nd Great Grand Parents


83rd Great Grand Parents


84th Great Grand Parents


85th Great Grand Parents


86th Great Grand Parents


87th Great Grand Parents


88th Great Grand Parents


89th Great Grand Parents

Adam "of GOD". He married EVE "of ADAMS rib".

Friday, July 02, 2004

On the Geographical Basis for the Problems in Cyprus

"Cyprus is situated in the north-eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, 33 degrees east and 35 degrees north of the Equator...."

This from an official government webiste,

I am now looking for proof that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus claims to be located some 35 degrees north of a meridian. No wonder they can't entirely agree.

And: how interesting commas are.

On a Pig which attempted to flee, if not fly

Love-starved pig sparks traffic chaos

A male pig who hadn't been castrated took off from the farm where he lives near Trondheim, apparently on the prowl for lady pigs. He was finally captured after nearly causing a few traffic accidents on a busy local highway.

"Many motorists drive much too fast here, and both a motorcycle and a bus had to swerve to avoid hitting the pig," one local witness told newspaper Adresseavisen.
The pig took off early Thursday and was later observed trotting along a two-lane road near Jonsvatnet. Local police refused to respond to the escaped pig alarm, but a local security firm, neighbors and his family from the farm came quickly to try to round him up.

"He's a young pig, not even a year old yet, and he hasn't been castrated," said farmer Bredo Furnes, who thinks the pig was out looking for a mate to relieve some sexual frustration.

It marked the third time the pig, named Grisa, had run away from the farm. "He'll try his luck with horses or whatever," said Furnes after Grisa's romantic fling failed.

(this from