Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spring is here!


Blått hav så langt du ser
Originally uploaded by Trine.
This picture (which I found at flickr), was apparently taken in Oslo yesterday. It was a beautiful day, and I had the year's first latte outdoors... I also went to the Tom Sachs exhibition once more with a friend, and we both liked it a lot - I must say I liked it more now than last time. And I love Astrup-Fearnley for having guides that actually talk to their visitors.

Today, the clouds were back, by the way.

Warm, gay holiday

While my plans for the next months are pretty full, I've started to think about next winter. I want to go somewhere warm and sunny for a week or so in December - to get away from the snow and the cold and get some sunrays on my body before Christmas... Preferably with my boyfriend, of course. I want to go somewhere where being gay is not a problem.



Does anyone have any ideas? It should not be impossibly expensive - as it's only for one week, somewhere in or near Europe would be good...

Nudity in Spain



Spencer Tunick has been at it again - this time it's lots of Spanish guys and girls that have thrown away their clothes for him. Dagbladet has a photo series on it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Frankfurt


Satyr
Originally uploaded by branimir.
I'm going to Frankfurt for a day soon, on my way to a conference. As usual when travelling somewhere, I searched flickr for pictures of the city. Barberini's Faun turned up - I'll have to read a bit about the art galleries in Frankfurt to be prepared...

Where have I been?

Here's a list of the number of days I've stayed in different countries (as of 17th of April, 2006):

Norway 12312
Holland 37
France 33 (including Reunion and French Polynesia)
USA 26
New Zealand 24
Denmark 17
Sweden 15
Italy 14
Great Britain 14
Greece 14
Canada 10
Portugal 7
Taiwan 7
Spain 7
Japan 7
Singapore 5
Australia 5
South Africa 5
Mauritius 5
Russia 5
Belgium 4
Austria 4
Finland 2
Germany <1
Thailand <1
Cook Island <1
Vatican <1

This year will see the numbers for Germany and Taiwan increasing (as well as the one for Norway, of course), while China and Croatia will be new-comers on the list...

Index

Here's a list of some postings on different topics:

Art: Bergen Art Museum: Lysverket
Art: Bergen Art Museum: Rasmus Meyer's Collections
Art: Damien Hirst and Mo(nu)ments!
Art: Florence: Bargello
Art: Florence: David
Art: Florence: Galleria dell'Accademia
Art: Florence: Uffizi
Art: Holmsbu Picture Gallery
Art: Kiss the frog
Art: Louisiana, Denmark
Art: The Louvre
Art: Miró on UCLA
Art: More Munch and more National Gallery
Art: Munch at Freia Park
Art: Munch Museum
Art: The Museum of Contemporary Art
Art: The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design
Art: Oslo's National Gallery
Art: Rabbit by Jeff Koons
Art: Tom Sachs
Art: Vinternatt i Rondane by Harald Sohlberg

Book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (9)
Books: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Book: What Comes Naturally by Gerd Brantenberg

Concert: deLillos at Norwegian Wood
Concert: Sondre Lerche and Julian Berntzen (8)

Movie: The Agony and the Ecstasy (6)
Movie: Aimée & Jaguar
Movie: The Assassination of Richard Nixon
Movie: The Aviator (8)
Movie: The Big Lebowski (6)
Movie: Brokeback Mountain (8)
Movie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (9)
Movie: Chocolat (9)
Movie: Closer
Movie: Diarios de Motocicleta (7)
Movie: Different
Movie: Hip Hip Hora (The Ketchup Effect)
Movie: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (8)
Movie: Howl's Moving Castle (7)
Movie: I hired a contract killer
Movie: The Island (8)
Movie: Jim in Bold
Movie: Ken Park (5)
Movie: Kinsey (8)
Movie: Kiss Me Deadly (6)
Movie: The Man Who Wasn't There (7)
Movie: Mambo Italiano
Movie: Mariscos Beach
Movie: Melinda Melinda
Movie: Million Dollar Baby
Movie: Mysterious Skin
Movie: No Such Thing (7)
Movie: Ocean's Twelve (7)
Movie: Pitbullterje (8)
Movie: Playtime (6)
Movie: Le Regard
Movie: A Room with a View (10)
Movie: School of Rock (5)
Movie: Sin City
Movie: Sugar
Movie: Summer Storm (Sommersturm)
Movie: Der Untergang
Movie: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (8)

Podcast: Podictionary (8)

Books: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency



There are times that I'm sorry that authors can not write books as quickly as I can read them. Whenever I've finished a new Harry Potter book and know there are months or years to wait for the next one is one of those times. Recently, I've felt the same when reading the "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series by Alexander McCall Smith.

I enjoy the fact that the books take place in Botswana, and not in some western place where so many of the other books I read are placed. And I like that the cases handled by the agency are really important ones, concerning peace of mind or orphans - not murders or spies. And I really look forward to my next meeting with Precious Ramotswe, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, Mma Makutsi and all the rest.

So far, I've read "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency", "Tears of the Giraffe", "Morality for Beautiful Girls" and "The Kalihari Typing School for Men". Luckily, there is one book left in the series (with more to come?), and Alexander McCall Smith has written several other books as well...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

To tithe or not to tithe

I'm not a religious person, in fact I don't believe in gods or devils or angels or hobbits. But, although I regard religion as something that the world would be better off without, there are elements that have been part of religions that are not bad. One of them is the idea of tithing - giving one tenth of your income to charity.

Lately, I've considered starting to put aside one tenth of my income (after tax) to different charities, and this month was the first where I actually put one tenth of my income to a seperate account that I've created for this purpose. But then comes the question: What to give the money to?

The first decision is to support Plan Norway by sponsoring a child. Plan Norway has been rumoured to spend too much on administration and publicity, but after looking at their own numbers, it seems that only one tenth of their money stay in Norway. If part of the rest is spent on administration in the target country, at least they go to people who need the money more than me, I guess.

Sponsoring a child is partly a selfish thing. I do it even though I know that this means that my money is spent on keeping me in touch with what happens to the child, with no real gain for the child. But my excuse is that maybe this will make me more involved and more knowledgable of these issues, so that I will be able to pick charities to support.

I know that my small gifts will not really make much difference in a world of suffering, and that the most concrete result will be that I feel better about myself. But I still think it is better to spend some money that way than to spend it on yet another luxury in addition to the ones that I still will afford...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nude shooter

Aftenposten writes about Are Hansen, a Norwegian shooter, who has got tired of not having a sponsor. He is apparently one of best talents preparing for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but he now has had to shed his clothes in an attempt to raise money.



Maybe he would raise even more if he threw away the rifle as well?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hail


137_3766
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
For the second day in just a few days, Oslo has been hit by hail. Today it was very surprising, as it has been the first day of very fine weather in a while. On my way home from work I was wondering if I might be able to enjoy some sun on my balcony in the afternoon. But walking home from the subway the hailstorm struck. This picture is from my table at my balcony.

I ended up sitting inside watching a soccer game instead...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Art: Tom Sachs

I've been to Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art today to see the exhibition "Tom Sachs: SURVEY - America - Modernism - Fashion". His art is quite interesting and funny. I must admit that I had very mixed feelings on my first round in the exhibition, but after watching an hour of videos with Tom Sachs talking about his artworks, I warmed considerably to it.

The first artworks I looked at was "London calling", a fascinating "closet" with tools, weapons and texts connected to The Clash's classic album "London calling". For instance, every song on the album were giving its name to a weapon, and the lyrics of the song were written on the weapon. A simplistic interpretation would be to say that the music in the album is weapons as powerful as any, and that the closet was supposed to pretend to be a CD case. (The wood used in this artwork was stolen from the NY Police, by the way - how to interprete that?)



Another very interesting artwork was "4:3", made of "plywood, asphalt, steel". The Norwegian band "Bare Egil Band" would certainly have enjoyed this one - they have a song about the uses of asphalt. Another assosiation is with another picture (by Damien Hirst?) I've seen in this museum, made of flies only - the texture is not too different.

I also liked the artworks "Chanel Guillotine (Breakfast Nook)" and "Prada Death Camp". Both connect death and fashion in a thought-provoking way. Tom Sachs compares fashion with fascism in one of the videos.



The artworks in the exhibition is mostly made of paper, cardboard and similar materials, and have an "unfinished" look. Sachs himself stresses that they should look "made", not "hatched" - you see that an imperfect, human being has made them, they are not machine-made. He also stresses the details a lot - for instance there are lots of details in the space shuttle model. On the other hand, he also includes funny scribblings on some of the artworks, such as the "Fuck you" sign in the McDonald's restaurant. Putting a tv screen showing brain-numbing American television next to the electric chair is also a funny political statement.



The McDonald's restaurant, by the way, is in full working order, as is the guillotine, the electric chair, the refrigerator and many of the weapons. This is supposedly part of the authenticity he strives after - and it is also a statement in the discussion on what art is supposed to be. Jeff Koons visited Astrup Fearnley earlier with artworks that were "simply" copies of toys - for instance "Rabbit" looked like a toy, but could not be played with. Tom Sachs' refrigerator does not look like a refrigerator, but it works like one.

Well, that's enough for a lazy Sunday. Tom Sachs has a website at tomsachs.org, which I will study further later...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Time to choose swimwear...

It's that time of year. Summer is ahead, and it's time to start looking for good swimwear for the beach. Here's an idea:


(From Undergear.com.)

Come to think of it, I think I should have started planning this last July or something - I think I should make sure my body fits this swimwear before I order it...


(From Men's underwear store.)


(From BodyAware.)

No, maybe I'll just try to make do without it...

How much is a life worth?

Quite a big question: is it possible to put a value on a human life?

In the Economist of February 25th, Sir Michael Rawlins of NICE (Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) says that "NICE rarely accepts that drugs are cost-effective if they cost more than £25,000-35,000 per QALY". (QALY is "quality-adjusted life year".) Okay, so life is worth something like $25,000 a year, which means a life of 80 years is worth about 2 million pounds.

Many people would consider such a valuation as a bad idea - even unethical. They would be wrong. In certain situations a valuation is necessary. The idea that a life is of infinite value would mean that the government should pay any price to prolong a life by a day. Sadly, there is nowhere near enough resources to be able to do that. It can always be argued that the NHS (and its counterparts in other countries) should have more money, but noone would seriously argue that the entire GDP - and even more than that, should go to the NHS. And as long as the health service does not have unlimited resources, a limit is necessary. (The alternative would be an unefficient allocation of money - spending £50,000 to prolong a life by one year, while not affording to spend £10,000 to prolong another life by ten years, say.)

Everything I say in this blog posting is quite obvious, including this: the valuation of a life is different in different parts of the world. While the British government spends £25,000 to prolong a British life by one year, people in other parts of the world die for lack of far cheaper treatments. To put the reasoning of "efficency" to its extreme, the treatments should of course have gone to these instead of the British. (The British public would not want the biggest part of their taxes to go to people in other countries, of course.)

It would be interesting to get an "index" of the valuation of a life in different parts of the world based on calculations such as the one above. (Maybe one already exists?) It might be a way to get the attention of people of how terribly "cheap" life is in parts of the world, and how uninterested we in the rich part of the world are...

Life-Expectancy Quiz

I just took a silly life-expectancy quiz. I learnt that I will live till I'm 86 1/2. That's pretty good - at least I have more than 50 years to go...

Why am I calling it silly? Well, the idea is a good one, but the details are too silly. For instance, if you come from Sweden, you get +2 in the score, while coming from Norway gives 0, although Norwegians' life expectancy is a bit better than Swedes'. Another question asks about "sexual promiscuity (multiple partners, STD risks)" which apparently takes five years off your life regardless of the number of partners and the kind of behaviour.

The point of the exercise must be to make ignorant people aware of the risks they are taking. For informed adults, however, the general idea that walking to work is better than driving is not really breathtaking...

Oslo Fjord


Oslo Fjord
Originally uploaded by Killerwurm.de.
A nice picture of the Oslo fjord in winter - found on flickr...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Voltaire et al

I keep learning things from The Economist (even though I have now paused the subscription, so I'm just catching up on old issues...): In a recent Letters column, a reader (Alan Kennis, New York) points out that it was NOT Voltaire who said that "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Apparently, it was his biographer S. G. Tallentyre (pen name of Miss Evelyn Beatrice Hall) who had that honour. (He even gives a source: "Modern Language Notes" November 1943...)

Another quote of the same page of The Economist is also worth remembering: "It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it." (Attributed to American humourist Sam Levenson.)

Movie: No such thing



No Such Thing is not the most well-known of Hal Hartley's movies, and it is not his best either. The opening is weak (and could have been cut five or ten minutes, in my opinion), but sparks start flying when Beatrice (Sarah Polley) gets to Iceland and meets "The Monster" (Robert John Burke). "The Monster", who is indestructible and has lived for ever, is terribly bored. The only thing that makes life almost bearable is alcohol. He has seen all there is to see, and he knows he is doomed to see it all over and over and over again - for eternity. Unless...



The real monster (as Hal Hartley said in a Q&A session after the screening last night) is "The Boss", played by Helen Mirren. Actually, I don't think her performance is too good - Hartley said that he spent a lot of time to avoid her character becoming one-dimensional, but in my opinion he was not too successful in this.

In other aspects, however, he was very successful. Most of the dialogue is great - and especially when Beatrice and "The Monster" is on the screen at the same time. The small role of Baltasar Kormákur (as Dr. Artaud) is also funny. Moreover, there were lots of funny little details which meant that the movie was never boring and never predictable.

Hartley seemed a tiny bit bitter (but resigned) about the studio's handling of the film - after receiving bad reviews. It was also held back for a year after 9-11, because it mentions terrorist attacks against New York. It's a pity that so few people have seen it...



Conclusion: if you are to see just one sci-fi monster movie set in Iceland this year - choose this!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Norway's first medal

Congratulations to Alexander Dale Oen for Norway's first ever man to take an individual medal in a swimming world championship!



He got the time 59,16 on 100 metres breaststrokes.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Five Love Languages

Okay, this is the third such test in a row - I'll stop now...

The Five Love Languages

My primary love language is probably
Quality Time
with a secondary love language being
Physical Touch.

Complete set of results

Quality Time: 10
Physical Touch: 9
Words of Affirmation: 8
Acts of Service: 3
Receiving Gifts: 0


Information

Unhappiness in relationships, according to Dr. Gary Chapman, is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. Sometimes we don't understand our partner's requirements, or even our own. We all have a "love tank" that needs to be filled in order for us to express love to others, but there are different means by which our tank can be filled, and there are different ways that we can express love to others.

Take the quiz

The Multidimensional Scale of Sexuality

The Multidimensional Scale of Sexuality

According to my answers, it is likely that I identify as
Homosexual.

Complete set of results

Homosexual: 5
Asexual: 0
Concurrent bisexual: 0
Heterosexual: 0
Heterosexual with some homosexuality: 0
Homosexual with some heterosexuality: 0
Past heterosexual, currently homosexual: 0
Past homosexual, currently heterosexual: 0
Sequential bisexual: 0


Information

The Multidimensional Scale of Sexuality was devised by Larry Kurdek, B. Berkey and T. Perelman-Hall. It is an extension of the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid, recognising that sexual identities can change over time, people can identify with more than one sexual identity, and that asexuality is a valid sexual identity. The Multidimensional Scale of Sexuality was published in the "Journal of Homosexuality" in 1990.

Take the quiz

The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid

Klein Sexual Orientation Grid


I scored an average of 4.9

01 2 3 4 5 6
HeterosexualBisexualHomosexual

Meaning

This result can also be related to the Kinsey Scale:

0 = exclusively heterosexual
1 = predominantly heterosexual, incidentally homosexual
2 = predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 = equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 = predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 = predominantly homosexual, incidentally heterosexual
6 = exclusively homosexual

Summary

The idea of this excercise is to understand exactly how dynamic a person's sexual orientation can be, as well as how fluid it can be over a person's lifespan. While a person's number of actual homo/heterosexual encounters may be easy to categorize, their actual orientation may be completely different. Simple labels like "homosexual", "heterosexual", and "bisexual" need not be the only three options available to us.

Take the quiz

Thanks to Tottyland.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Red Cross ad

Germans out there will have seen this ad, but I just saw it today... Great cause, great ad...

Naked Venezuelans



Spencer Tunick keeps working on getting people around the world to shed their clothes. The Sydney Morning Herald has an article on his photo shot in Caracas. And he invariably gets lots of press attention...

Podcast: Podictionary



I started out with podcasts by listening to several of NRK's offers. However, their programmes were mostly long (about half an hour at least), so I invariably had some time left on my way to work when one programme finished, and not enough time to listen to another one. Therefore, I started looking for shorter podcasts, to fill the extra time. After a while, I've found so many short podcasts of high quality that I often prefer to listen to several of these instead of one longer programme.

Anyway, one of the great short podcasts is podictionary. The concept is extremely simple, every day one single word is discussed. The programmes are typically 2-5 minutes long, which means that you "always" have the time for one or more of these. And more than 200 episodes are available.

The concept is not that new, of course. A programme called On Words (with John Ciardi) on NPR (from 1979-1986) is now also available on podcast, but these are on average a bit longer and discusses more "exotic" phrases, while podictionary tends to focus on everyday words.

Before I started listening to podcasts, I always never listened to the radio. Now I can walk around in the city with an endless stream of great radio on my ear, a collection of highlights from NRK, BBC, NPR, CNN et cetera. It has simply revolutionized my relationship with the radio.