Monday, February 28, 2005

Europride: Oslo guide 1

In the months until Europride, I will, from time to time, write a little on what to see and do in Oslo.

I'll start at the very top: one of Oslo's finest attractions: the Vigeland park. Just a few stops from the centre of Oslo by subway, tram or bus (or a walk for those who'd like that) is the green refuge where you may rest on the grass - when you're done looking at the works of art, that is...



Once, politicians planned to build a huge highway through this area of the town, but they got to their senses. Then, Gustav Vigeland proposed what must have seemed like an optimistic idea at the time: "Why not make this a park populated with my statues?" Well, that's what happened in the end...



Several times, people have stolen one of the most famous of the statues in the park: the "Sinnataggen" (angry little boy...) But now he's back in his place, angrier than ever..:



Another famous work of art erected in the park is "Monolitten", a huge fallos consisting of people struggling. For some reason I have no picture of that here - but then it needs to be seen to be believed...

(Here are some people trying to run away from the "Monolitten" instead...)



Anyway, going to the Vigeland park is a pleasant diversion from whatever happens in the busy city streets in the centre. Try it out!

Fleshbot

Hm... Must visit regularly...

Fleshbot

How gay issues are treated in Norwegian lower secondary school textbooks

I've done a little study of how Norwegian textbooks in "ungdomsskolen" (pupils aged 14-16) treat homosexuality. Under the current curriculum, homosexuality is supposed to be treated in the subjects Social studies, Science and Christian studies. (Please refer to the english version of the curriculum for more details.)

Three interesting things stood out.
1) the same books that discuss homosexuality also discusses love and romance, but often the two subjects are not connected. (Some books even define "homosexuality" as concerning "sexual attraction", while referring to romance only in the context of heterosexuality.)
2) books often use different language when referring to gays than when referring to straights. I don't know exactly how to translate this into English, but the point is that there is more of a "we" perspective when discussing straights, while there is a "them" perspective when discussing gays.
3) books often tend to focus a lot on the problems of being gay, and not on the wonderful feeling of being in love with someone.

These things taken together may result in pupils getting a very wrong impression of gays - THEY are concerned only about SEX, and they have PROBLEMS. While the impression of straights is a bit different: WE fall in LOVE and live happily ever after...

New books will be written for the new curriculum being prepared right now. Let's hope they are better.

(My article in Morgenbladet (in Norwegian).)

Ex-pope

There have been a few speculations on whether the pope will abdicate due to health issues. The gravity of the situation notwithstanding, I can't help speculating on what would happen if he abdicated, then recovered completely and got tired of doing nothing...

- Now, Karol Wojtyla, you have applied for one of the jobs here at our company. Who was your previous employer?
- God.
- God? Hm... okay, what did you do in that job?
- Well, I did everything. I was his stand-in here on Earth.
- Really? That must have been quite a lot of work... Hm... We are interested in your skill at handling conflicts. For instance, how did you - in your previous job - handle situations where you realized that you was wrong?
- I was never wrong. I was unable to do mistakes - it goes with the job.
- Hm... No mistakes, ah? Hm... I think that's all. Don't contact us, we'll let you know...

No wonder he clings on to his current job as long as possible...
:-)

Europride 2005

Ah - AM I looking forward to this summer? Europride will be in Oslo, my home town... Yeah, I believe I am looking forward to it... :-)

Welcome to Norway, everyone! It will be one fun week...

Europride 2005

East West: Top 30 Gay Blogs

Remind me to check out these blogs one of these days...

East West: Top 30 Gay Blogs

Have you...

(The idea is that you bold up the ones you've done.)

001. Bought everyone in the pub a drink

002. Swam with wild dolphins

003. Climbed a mountain

004. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive (Though i was in it when my dad did.)

005. Been inside the Great Pyramid

006. Held a tarantula

007. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

008. Said “I love you” and meant it

009. Hugged a tree

010. Done a striptease

011. Bungee jumped

012. Visited Paris

013. Watched a lightning storm at sea

014. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise

015. Seen the Northern Lights

016. Gone to a huge sports game

017. Walked the stairs to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

018. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

019. Touched an iceberg

020. Slept under the stars

021. Changed a baby’s diaper

022. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

023. Watched a meteor shower

024. Gotten drunk on champagne

025. Given more than you can afford to charity

026. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

027. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

028. Had a food fight

029. Bet on a winning horse

030. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

031. Asked out a stranger

032. Had a snowball fight

033. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier

034. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

035. Held a lamb

036. Enacted a favorite fantasy

037. Taken a midnight skinny dip

038. Taken an ice cold bath

039. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar

040. Seen a total eclipse

041. Ridden a roller coaster

042. Hit a home run

043. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days

044. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking

045. Adopted an accent for an entire day

046. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

047. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

048. Had two hard drives for your computer

049. Visited all 50 states

050. Loved your job for all accounts

051. Taken care of someone who was drunk

052. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

053. Had amazing friends

054. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

055. Watched wild whales

056. Stolen a sign

057. Backpacked in Europe

058. Taken a road-trip

059. Gone rock climbing

060. Lied to foreign government’s official in that country to avoid notice

061. Midnight walk on the beach

062. Sky diving

063. Visited Ireland

064. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love

065. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

066. Visited Japan

067. Benchpressed your own weight

068. Milked a cow

069. Alphabetized your CDs

070. Pretended to be a superhero

071. Sung karaoke

072. Lounged around in bed all day

073. Posed nude in front of strangers

074. Scuba diving

075. Got it on to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye

076. Kissed in the rain

077. Played in the mud

078. Played in the rain

079. Gone to a drive-in theater

080. Done something you should regret, but don’t regret it

081. Visited the Great Wall of China

082. Discovered that someone who’s not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog

083. Dropped Windows in favor of something better

084. Started a business

085. Fallen in *like* and not had your heart broken

086. Toured ancient sites

087. Taken a martial arts class

088. Swordfought for the honor of a woman

089. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

090. Gotten married

091. Been in a movie

092. Crashed a party

093. Loved someone you shouldn’t have

094. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy

095. Gotten divorced

096. Eaten meat completely uncooked and loved it

097. Gone without food for 5 days

098. Made cookies from scratch

099. Won first prize in a costume contest

100. Ridden a gondola in Venice

101. Gotten a tattoo

102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on

103. Rafted the Snake River

104. Been on television news programs as an “expert”

105. Got flowers for no reason

106. Kissed someone who just came in the door, before they had a chance to say anything

107. Got so drunk you don’t remember anything

108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug

109. Performed on stage

110. Been to Las Vegas

111. Recorded music

112. Eaten shark

113. Had a one-night stand

114. Gone to Thailand

115. Seen your favorite band live

116. Bought a house

117. Been in a combat zone

118. Buried one/both of your parents

119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off

120. Been on a cruise ship

121. Spoken more than one language fluently

122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone

123. Bounced a check

124. Performed in Rocky Horror

125. Read - and understood - your credit report

126. Raised children

127. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy

128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

129. Created and named your own constellation of stars

130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did

132. Called or written your Congress person

133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

134. - More than once? - More than thrice?

135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking

137. Hated yourself the morning after

138. Had plastic surgery

139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

140. Wrote articles for a large publication

141. Lost over 100 pounds

142. Held someone while they were having a flashback

143. Piloted an airplane

144. Petted a stingray

145. Broken someone’s heart

146. Helped an animal give birth

147. Been fired or laid off from a job

148. Won money on a T.V. game show

149. Broken a bone

150. Killed a human being

151. Gone on an African photo safari

152. Ridden a motorcycle

153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph

154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced

155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

157. Ridden a horse

158. Had major surgery

159. Had sex on a moving train

160. Had a snake as a pet

161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing

163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours

164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

165. Visited all 7 continents

166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

167. Eaten kangaroo meat

168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground

169. Been a sperm or egg donor

170. Eaten sushi

171. Had your picture in the newspaper

172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime

173. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

174. Gotten someone fired for their actions

175. Gone back to school

176. Parasailed

177. Changed your name

178. Petted a cockroach

179. Eaten fried green tomatoes

180. Read The Iliad

181. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because you actually needed them

183. ...and gotten 86?ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times,they figured out it was you

184. Taught yourself an art from scratch

185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt

187. Skipped all your school reunions

188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

189. Been elected to public office

190. Written your own computer language

191. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

193. Built your own PC from parts!!!

194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

195. Had a booth at a street fair

196. Dyed your hair (Revlon "Bright Black" even!)

197: Been a DJ

198: Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal

199: Written your own role playing game

200: Been arrested

Lots of things still to be done... :-)

RTW 3: Mauritius



Isn't staying in a place with this kind of beach just a dream? Well, for a few days in February 2003, it was reality to me. And, surprisingly, the dream was a tad better than reality - it was a bit too hot for little me, the other people on the beach were mainly pensioneers from Europe (Germany and Italy, mainly) and as usual I didn't know anyone...

I was staying in a little "Pension" in Pereybere. I had tried to book in advance, but never got the confirmation email. And when I arrived at the address given, the owner of the place denied any knowledge of the agency who had tried to rent it to me. Moreover, when I told him the price I'd agreed to pay, he said "No, no, that's far too expensive!" So I ended up paying far less than expected.

By the way: taking a taxi is a good idea to get from the airport to Pereybere - the one hour bus ride (with all my luggage on my lap) seemed like a good idea only in the comfort of my Norwegian home...

One trip that's absolutely recommended is going to the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden. The rest of the pictures here are from that garden.
The guide in this Botanical Garden guided in French, and then translated to English for me (who was the only one who didn't speak French). However, I noticed a lot more talk of "Norwegians" and "Vikings" in the French version than in the English one... :-)





TV: Desperate Housewives

Not very originally, my favourite tv show at the moment is Desperate Housewives. It's just started running on Norwegian television, and so far it's been sufficiently funny, strange and charming to keep me glued to the TV set every Tuesday night...

Oh, by the way, it's even quite sexy at times. Who wouldn't consider hiring Jesse Metcalfe as gardener?

Movie: Jim in Bold

Interesting movie, this. The story of Jim (a gay man - a poet and artist - who was harrassed and eventually took his life) is intervowen with interviews with young, gay Americans throughout the continent - mostly living in small places. There is certainly a lot of work to do to develop better attitudes in the communities, but these strong, positive youths will certainly help to acheive that...

The movie was a bit too long for me to be pleased, but then I've seen a few of this kind of movies before...


(from jiminbold.com)

Nudity and sports 2

By the way: here's what meets the eye of Norwegian newspaper readers today...


(Gold medalists Anders Aukland, Frode Estil and Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset - from dagbladet.no)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Nudity and sports

There's an interesting ambivalence in the attitude to nudity in sports. In soccer, referees have started handing out yellow cards to players who take off their shirts in celebration for goals. In the Nordic Ski World Championship, on the other hand, cameras focused on skiers changing into dry clothes after the events. Streakers are common occurences in several sports - this is regarded as a big problem. At the same time, players are showing off their bodies in desperate attempts to get PR for their sports. At least this is a development I can easily live with... Here's a couple of examples from handball (and an example of what is no longer allowed in soccer...):


(Håvard Tvedten - from dagbladet.no)


(Kristian Kjelling - from dagbladet.no)


(John Arne Riise)

RTW 2: Réunion


Réunion

2nd stop on my round-the-world trip was the French island Réunion in the Indian Ocean. I stayed in a place called St-Gilles-de-Bains, a nice, but touristy, place a little down on the west coast. The days were spent tanning and swimming in the hotel pool, besides going down to the beach, where an amazing number of good-looking surfers were conquering the waves.

On this island, I felt "the blues" for the first time on my trip - about a week after leaving home (!) Part of the reason for that was the hotel: it was a hotel where many straight couples stayed (probably some of them on honeymoons), while I was all alone in this big, big world... :-)

Anyway, things got a little better as soon as I got to the capital to visit the University and the IUFM (the teacher education establishment). That was interesting.

I tried desperately to improve my French by reading "Sophie's World" in French, but somehow I never needed the words "Socrates" or "Plato" when trying to order food in restaurants... :-)

Straight embarrassment

dagbladet.no writes about this week's most embarrassing moment: a straight man parked his car in the harbour area of Oslo, preparing to have sex with a female prostitute. Suddenly the car started moving, and before he could do anything, both he and his friend ended up in the ocean. That's certainly not what we would call safe sex!

(Noone was harmed in the accident, but both the couple and the car got thoroughly wet. Did he still have to pay for the experience? The newspaper does not say.)

Norwegian (straights) bad at using condoms

A study shows that 17 percent of Norwegians used a condom last time they had sex. Other studies confirm that straight Norwegians are bad at using condoms. It's too bad that my impression of straights as only too eager to have irresponsible sex, seems to be warranted...

Movie: Der Untergang

Der Untergang has been critizised for portraying Adolf Hitler as too human. Not true. To demonize him more than this film does would have been irresponsible. It would have strengthened the belief of those who think that if we only keep demons from power, we will be safe. We won't. Hitler was a human being who must be held responsible for his actions. The truth that humans commit such atrocities as the ones Hitler did is painful, but necessary.

On the other hand, I disliked the way the movie portrayed the "good guys". People who had supported the German war until things started to go wrong, and who suddenly wanted to capitulate when all hope was lost, are portrayed almost as heroes in this movie. Strange.

However: it's a good movie. Long, but not too long. Incredible work by Bruno Ganz as Hitler. A bit claustrophobic at times, but shouldn't a movie from the last days in the bunker be a bit claustrophobic?



iPod/iTunes

I really love the iPod - or the iTunes software, actually... After years of depending on CDs for my musical needs, it's a wonderful feeling to be able to listen to any song I want from my collection with just a few clicks - instead of spending time looking for the right CD, then finding the right track and so on... Moreover, I've "found" several wonderful songs that I'd forgotten that I had - because they were hidden away on CDs with mostly lousy tunes...

Here are my top ten most played songs at the moment, by the way:
Aicha - Khaled
Nightswimming - R.E.M.
Imitation Of Life - R.E.M.
Time Of Your Life - Green Day
Losing My Religion - R.E.M.
Fifa - Angélique Kidjo
Et Skolebrød I Storefri - CC Cowboys
I Don't Have Faith In Faith - Hoel & Albrigtsen
Kveldssong for deg og meg - Odd Nordstoga
All I Know - Anneli Drecker

(No, I'm not really that much of a R.E.M. fan - it's just that I've been listening a lot to their music lately, because I went to their concert in Oslo on February 1st. Great concert, by the way.)

Ski Championship

By the way, the Nordic Ski World Championship is on, and Norway is doing great... It's lots of fun!

Here's some of the Norwegian gold medal winners, from vg.no:

RTW1: Johannesburg

I just got an idea... I've been wanting to write a little on my trip around the world two years ago. Reliving it in this blog seems like an excellent way of doing it. I spent three months of 2003 travelling - visiting Johannesburg, Reunion, Mauritius, Singapore, Sydney, several cities in New Zealand, Tahiti and Moorea, Los Angeles and Montreal. Let's start at the beginning...

The beginning: I was sitting in an airplane at Oslo Airport. The plane was pulled out of the gate at the right time, and we were about to take off - but of course the plane had to be defreezed first (or whatever it's called: the thing where a machine sprays the wings to make sure no ice hinders the flight). That only took a moment, and next thing we knew, we were back at the gate - the machine had crashed into the wing, so that we had to use another plane instead... Nice start of a three month travel!

(The end of the trip was going to be more troublesome - but more on that later...)

I spent just four days or something in South Africa - all of them in Johannesburg. This sounds silly, but there is a reason. First of all, there were several goals of my little round-the-world trip. I wanted to see interesting places, of course. But I also wanted to see how teacher education were done in these places. I also wanted to go to places where French was spoken, to learn a little of that language. So the point of going to South Africa at all was partly to get to Reunion... And while there, I spent quite a lot of time at University of Witwatersrand. However, I also had the time to do some other things...

One of the highlights was a trip to Soweto. For most of my teenage years, South Africa was a topic in school and in politics. The apartheid regime was regarded as a particularly terrible regime - so even as a teenager I had read a lot about Soweto. It was interesting to see how people were living. Obviously, the fall of apartheid has not meant that everybody is much better off. Still, most of the poor people are the same as before. The police is no longer targeting black communities just for the fun of it, but still the quality of "black schools" are a lot worse than the quality of "white schools". (Of course, there no longer is any such thing as "black schools", but the economic situation of whites and blacks, respectively, means that the good private schools tend to be almost entirely populated by white students...) This situation goes on and on: because whites tend to be better educated, the teachers going to the "black" schools (who are usually black themselves) often have less knowledge than the white teachers often going to the "white" schools (who can pay more, of course). It's an evil circle which it takes quite a lot of work to get through.

Soweto was very varied - some of it was nice brick buildings with BMW's in front, but sadly, many people were still living in terrible conditions.

Another highlight was the Apartheid Museum. Some of the policies thought out by the apartheid regime seems like pure evil - but sadly, it's more complex than that. Probably, many of the defenders of apartheid really believed that the separation of the races was the best thing - and of course they managed to come up with religious and scientific reasons for that...

The hotel I stayed in was wonderful. I chose it partly because of it's name: "A Room with a view". The staff was friendly, the room was very good, the rates were not bad, the neighbourhood was ok - and the atmosphere was Florentine (the owner was very fascinated by Florence - which is also of course the reason for the name of the hotel...)

I thought I'd have some pictures from the Johannesburg part of my trip, but I seem not to have that easily available. So I'll consider getting back to that...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

First post...

Should gay saunas be closed to prevent the HIV epidemic? That's a popular issue in the discussions on gaysir.no these days. People who have never visited a sauna, argues that saunas are gross, and that there is no reason they should be allowed. Not being a big fan of saunas myself, I nevertheless hold the opposite view: society should not outlaw anything without VERY strong reasons - using what people (even a majority) considers gross as a yardstick is far too restrictive.

Sweden has experimented with outlawing saunas, without any measureable effect on the HIV rates. So far, all experts seem to favor keeping the saunas in place - mainly because they are a welcome venue to get in touch with people who regularly have sex with strangers (which is of course an important group to reach in fighting HIV...)

On other fronts: I'm pleased that an article on the way Norwegian textbooks (for elementary and lower secondary school) treat the subject of homosexuality, has finally been published by a newspaper - and even been followed up by other media. The books are not at all as good as the pupils deserve. I hope they may be better next time...

I'm very much looking forward to my trip to Florence in April. I'm jokingly saying that I want to find the boy who modelled for Michelangelo's David. Well, I'm not really thinking I will find him, but at least I'll find the statue and lots of other interesting works of art. It will be great fun!

I'm wondering if writing here will be a one-off or something I'll do regularly... Only time will show... :-)

Good night for now!








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