Monday, July 31, 2006

Living a life in sin

The bishop of London, Richard Chartres, has made the headlines recently, by delivering media-friendly quotes such as "Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin."

I seldom agree with bishops when they talk about sin - actually, I have problems understanding the concept of sin. However, Chartres' point seems quite logical: if you really believe in a god, the god will certainly be more interested in the way you behave towards fellow beings and future generations than in your sex life - the first thing people tend to think of when they hear the word "sin".

Where do I fit into this picture? I'm certainly a "sinner", I'm afraid. I don't have a car, but I do fly on holiday - only this last year I've been to France, Croatia and Taiwan. My point is just that these "sins" are certainly more important problems than me having sex with the man of my life, my dear boyfriend. Chartres' message at least makes me think about whether I should cut back on my flying - while most other Christians' opinions on sin leave me indifferent.

I hope his statements will lead to a discussion about what is really important in our behaviour - for Christians and non-Christians alike.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Schmap photos

Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
The Schmap! series of travel guides (which I do have a link to in the right column of this blog) takes its photos mostly from Flickr, apparently. Now they have - for the third time - chosen to include one of my photos, taken in St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal.

Yes, I know it's not much to brag about, but it still seems to be the main thing I have to brag about today. (In addition to having walked a nice walk around Steinbruvann, but that is REALLY not much to brag about...)

Naked Harry fakes orgasm on horse

I'm proud to say that Norway has newspapers that are interested in culture - even the goings-on on faraway theatre stages, such as in London. In well-known style (although without any obvious puns), VG writes about Daniel Radcliffe, who will play Alan Strang in Peter Schaffer's "Equus" in 2007. VG goes on to mention that Daniel (or "Harry", as VG prefers to call him) will have a nude scene, in which he will fake an orgasm while sitting on a (presumably nude) horse.

Thank gods for newspapers who are interested in fine arts and not only in sex...

Free speech

Israel has been complaining loudly after Dagbladet's artist Finn Graff depicted Ehud Olmert as a Nazi commander killing for fun. The most absurd criticism is that the drawing is "blasphemic" - a claim touted by Israeli ambassador to Norway, Miryam Shomrat.

The drawing has nothing to do with the religion of the people of Israel. It is a statement (protected by free speech provisions of Norwegian law) on Israel's unacceptable behaviour in recent weeks. Putting Ehud Olmert in a Nazi uniform is a way of asking the question many ask themselves: "How could a people - who have themselves felt the worst kinds of violence - so carelessly kill their neighbours?"

But perhaps it could also be read in another way - the Holocaust is of course an important backdrop to what happens today. The establishment of the state of Israel after the WW2, the aggression of Israel's neighbours and so on - everything has historical roots in the WW2.

Anyway, there is no "blasphemy" in the drawing - just as Israel's violence is not Judaism's violence.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Exit Floyd Landis

Here we go again... What's the point of the Tour de France if you can't know on the last day who is the winner? It is perhaps no big surprise that Floyd Landis was using illegal substances, but luckily he was not bright enough (it seems) to do so without it being detected. (George Bush wants to ban burning the American flag. What about the disgrace American athletes heap upon the flag by cheating in the way Landis has apparently done?)

Now, the new winner of Tour de France 2006 is Oscar Pereiro Sio. Congratulations!

Coffee cup

Coffee cup
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
I've been back home to Stange for a few days - visiting my parents. That's always nice - and this time I also saw my oldest brother and his family as well as my sister and her family. (This photo of a coffee cup was taken at Stange - but I would like to stress that drinking coffee was not the main point of the stay there...)

Got back two hours ago or something. This is the last day of my vacation - I'll go to work tomorrow and then the next day off is probably December 25th... But that's the way life is - I've got a lot of nice memories from this summer, and soon my boyfriend is coming back home as well...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Updated world map

Here's an updated world map of countries I've been to. Still, it's a bit silly, of course - my small trips to Murmansk and Hong Kong, respectively, "earned" me a lot or red area (Russia and China)...

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

Here's my "travel profile", by the way...

Your travel type: Travel Yup

The Travel Yup likes exotic and adventurous travel, but prefers big cities with fast paced life. He has a keen interest in other cultures and always brings home a few souvenirs.

Shopping in Bangkok, getting a tailor made suite in Kuala Lumpur, that's the kind of thing the Travel Yup is into. Even though he likes to get away, he prefers his travels to be comfortable.

top destinations:

Las Vegas

stay away from:

Ciudad Perdida
Darien Gap
get your own travel profile
At Square Football, there are several great quotes from footballer Gordon Strachan, such as this one:

Interviewer: “Gordon, can I have a quick word?”

Strachan: “Velocity.”

Check it out!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Book: Depressing on Mao

I'm reading Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's excellent Mao biography ("Mao: The Unknown Story") these days. It is truly depressing reading. The book convincingly portrays Mao as a man with almost no feelings for other people's suffering, and with only his own interests in mind. They detail the suffering the Chinese people (and others, such as the North Koreans) had to endure due to this one man's dreadful policies.

Mao can be said to be the 20th century most successful individual. Being born the son of a farmer in poor China, he became a world leader and lived a life of luxury - and probably was happy with that, as his fellow beings' suffering didn't seem to worry him. I wonder if there are still people around who manage to manipulate and terrorize without being stopped by anyone - and realize that there are probably a lot of them around, although on a much smaller scale. My old belief that people are basically good is untenable.

One of the most interesting aspects is how Mao managed to manipulate international opinion, taking care to hiding the hideous number of killed Chinese and letting the Americans, for instance, believe that he was a "moderate" that should be preferred to Stalin.

Of course, the book has been criticized, and scholars will spend some time going through the assertions in this book to see if all of them are acceptable. The "final verdict" on Mao as a human being will certainly not be charitable.

(Read more about the book at Wikipedia. The article there seems quite balanced at the moment, but that may of course change.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
I notice that this blog is turning into a photoblog...

Anyway, I spent almost two weeks in Taipei with my boyfriend. It was great, and I saw several of Taipei's other main sights as well - in addition to holding a little talk at National Taiwan Normal University.

Here's my new top ten of where I've been in my life - it feels a bit strange to have been more in Taiwan than in neighbouring countries like Denmark and Sweden...

1. Norway 12379 days
2. Netherlands 37
3. France 33
4. USA 26
5. New Zealand 24
6. Republic of China (Taiwan) 18
7. Denmark 17
8. Sweden 15
9. Great Britain 14
9. Italy 14
9. Greece 14

Hong Kong

Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
I've been to Hong Kong, by the way. Was there for three days before going on to Taipei. Although the city is seriously overloaded with shops, we still had a great three days. Here's a photo from the ferry terminal, by the way.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rovinj street

Rovinj street
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
The weather is wonderful, and I have no time for anything else than enjoying it. Therefore, there has been few blog postings lately. (I also held a talk on history of mathematics yesterday, so it's not all holiday... More on that later - maybe...

Instead of writing anything new, I just show another photo from Rovinj. There were some streets in the old town where there were a lot of artists selling their stuff, such as here. The picture is taken while seated at a small restaurant, drinking a beer... Isn't it wonderful?

I intend to keep enjoying the summer for another two weeks or something like that, before going back to work...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm a racist

I have taken the Darker Skin-Lighter Skin Implicit Association Test at the IAT homepage, and got the following result:

Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for Light Skin compared to Dark Skin.

Not a very nice result to get, but an interesting method to find "hidden" preferences...

On the other hand, on the GAY PEOPLE-STRAIGHT PEOPLE IAT, I got the following result:

Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for Gay People compared to Straight People. I'm not too ashamed of this...

The tests are recommended!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Still more World Cup matches to play...

Some people may believe that I have lost interest in the World Cup - after all, I haven't mentioned it for a while. Partly that is because I've been in Croatia (without internet) for a week, and partly it is because I don't know what to add to the general confusion... Anyway, today and tomorrow it will become clear who will play the final, and I will of course watch both semi finals closely.

I have no particular opinion on who I want to win the first one, but in the other, I will root for Portugal, who is the only team who can pretend to be "underdogs".

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cute blogger

beach 2
Originally uploaded by Alexsander7.
I just found another cute blog that I will try to read from time to time. The blogger is Alexsander. Check him (I mean his blog) out!


Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
You may notice a small thing in the bottom of the right margin here. It allows you to download free travel guides for a few cities. Apparently, I was allowed to have this free ad for Schmap on my blog in exchange for them using two of my photos in their travel guides... (Sounds like a great bargain for at least one of the parties, doesn't it?)

I don't like the Schmap guides too much so far, but at least they do have lots and lots of photos, and that's always interesting...

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
Here's another photo from Rovinj, by the way...

And in related news, I've got a pay rise, my favorite soccer team won 4-0 and (best of all) I will meet my boyfriend again within a week! (after being apart from him for almost a month)...

Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj view
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
I've been away for a week - in Rovinj in Croatia. It was wonderful to get some sun. I stayed at a very good hotel, the Eden Hotel, which had a great pool, good food, wonderful gardens with trees and minigolf, table tennis and lots of other possible activities. The town was nearby, with a beautiful old town (see more photos here). In the other direction, there were plenty of beaches. This picture is taken on that side, where this boy was listening to his iPod while his father (?) was preparing a boat (which I did not include in the photo).

I went with my parents, my brothers and their partners and one of my aunts, and had a very good time. Tomorrow, I'll need to go to my office again, but luckily, I still have almost four weeks of holiday left until I have to go back to work every day again...

Roskilde nude run - again

Just as last year, I will spend one posting on the Roskilde nude run. It seems to be a nice little tradition, where people get their clothes off and run for fun. Here are a few photos from the 2006 nude run:

(See more nude photos from this nude run at Dagbladet.)