Monday, January 28, 2008

Old Kennedy endorses the New Kennedy

Personally, I'm surprised to see that Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Barach Obama gets as much attention as it does. But there are reasons, according to TIME.
clipped from thepage.time.com


HALPERIN’S TAKE: Six Reasons Why the Kennedy Endorsement is a Big Deal




While endorsements don’t usually matter much, Edward Kennedy’s does because:

1. He has a huge following with Hispanics, a big deal in California and other Super Tuesday states, and one of Obama’s weaknesses.

2. The symbolic Kennedy family thing — the ultimate message of change, viability, Democratic legitimacy, and youthful excitement.

3. The national press will be obsessed with the story for days and days to come, with no downside for Obama; the local press coverage when Kennedy travels for Obama will be ginormous.

4. It sends a message to other senators and superdelegates that it is OK to be for Obama — they don’t have to be afraid of the Clintons.

5. He has a huge following among working-class, traditional Democrats, one of Obama’s weaknesses.

6. He has a huge following among union households, another of Obama’s weaknesses.



 blog it

Lion killing his cub


Kina 550
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
One cute thing about Flickr, is that you can keep a tab on how many people have a look at your photos. For instance, one of my photos have been seen 3,293 times... The photo here has not been seen much, but it suddenly was seen by a handful of people yesterday, after not having been viewed at all most of the days since it's been posted.

It is from Beijing (in the Forbidden city). While seeing it, we discussed if the adult lion was killing or cuddling with the little cub. It's hard to say...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Magnus won Corus!

Magnus Carlsen secured first place in Corus after a draw with Radjabov in the final round. Magnus was ahead until getting into minor time trouble (at one point having one minute left on three moves), where he played a bit inaccurately. In the end, he seemed to realize that a draw would be enough for a shared first place, and played safely.

He shares first place with Aronian - and possibly Anand, too, if he beats Kramnik in the still ongoing fight.

Some Norwegian newspapers have suddenly started writing news articles about chess these last days (see Dagbladet and VG), while many still don't realize what such a win is. The only Norwegian newspaper which is reliable in this area, is Nettavisen.

The naked mile

The_naked_mile
Video sent by shico30

I found this music video (?) on Dailymotion - cool idea for a video...

Magnus in the lead again

"This is probably one of my best wins, and at the right time", Magnus said to Dagbladet after his win (with black) against former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik today. That win took Magnus back to first place in the tournament - with Aronian.

Here are the top 5 after today's match:
1. L. Aronian 7.5
1. M. Carlsen 7.5
3. T. Radjabov 7
3. V. Anand 7
5. V. Ivanchuk 6.5

More on today's game in Magnus Carlsen's blog.

(By the way, it is interesting that Dagbladet is writing about Magnus again. It is sad that they (and most other Norwegian media) only finds space for news on chess when Magnus is doing exceptionally well in major tournaments...)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Theatre: Death in Theben (Døden i Teben)



Jon Fosse has integrated three of Sophocles' plays into one. The result is, unsurprisingly, a strong play concerned with fate, life and death, power and powerlessness.

Why things work well is a mystery. The set consists of rectangular slabs of "rock" and some 20th century buildings in the background. King Oedipus has a skirt, a shirt and a tie (and sometimes a jacket), the chorus have kilts, tight tank-tops and leather mountain boots. Antigone and her sister have modern-day dresses. This eclectic mix is not as distracting as it may sound. And the (at times parodic) movements/dance of the chorus also seems almost natural after a while.

The most surprising thing is perhaps that a story this old, relying heavily on a religion long dead, can still touch a modern audience. Much of the credit for this is due to the good actors.

The plays have changed with time, though. For me, it is impossible not to see the religion/superstition as the main culprit - while that was surely not Sophocles' main point.

It is also a bit perverse to watch this play having far greater knowledge of Jon Fosse than of Sophocles - it must be like watching Baz Luhrman's "Romeo and Juliet" with lots of knowledge of Leonardo di Caprio but no knowledge of Shakespeare. I wonder how that influences how I see it.

Anyway, it was an intense 130 minutes (+ 20 minutes break). But "predictable", of course - that's the curse of stories that have become a part of the Western Canon...

By Jon Fosse, based on Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone.
Directed by János Szász
Music by Johann Johannsson

Actors:
Per Schaanning, Sverre Bentzen, Jan Grønli, Jan Hårstad, Trini Lund, Svein Erik Brodal, Torgeir Fonnlid, Stine Mari Fyrileiv, Maria Sand, Espen Sandvik, Svein Roger Karlsen, Frank Kjosås, Mattias Ekholm, Niklas Gundersen, Kenneth Homstad, Björn Sandberg, Sunniva Egge Sipus, Eli Stålhand, Rune Sæter, Charlotte Våset

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Amazing lead

Magnus Carlsen is still in the lead in the Corus tournament after today's surprise win with black against Loek van Wely. I often follow the discussions on Nettavisen, where Rybka's estimation of the standings are often posted. van Wely went from +5.04 in move 37 to -4.53 in move 43 - after many moves in time trouble. However, van Wely's worst move, according to Corus Chess' report was move 41 (after the time control), which handed Magnus the game.



41.Qf2?? was followed with 41. ... Qd3+ 42. Kg2 Be4+ (the only reasonable alternative) 43. Rxe4 Qxe4+ 44. Kf1 Qd3+ 45. Qe2 Nd2+ 46. Ke1 Nf3+ 47. Kf1 Nxh2+ 48. Ke1 Bc3+ 49. Kf2 g3+ 0-1

This was an even worse mistake than Magnus' mistake yesterday - these things tend to even out.

After today's games, the standings are as follows (with three games left):

1. M. Carlsen 6.5
2. L. Aronian 6
3. V. Kramnik 5.5
3. T. Radjabov 5.5
3. M. Adams 5.5
3. V. Ivanchuk 5.5
3. V. Anand 5.5
8. S. Mamedyarov 5
8. V. Topalov 5
8. P. Leko 5
11. J. Polgar 4.5
12. L. van Wely 4
13. B. Gelfand 3.5
14. P. Eljanov 3

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cheparinov refuses handshake

Here's the infamous video that's been all around the web. Ivan Cheparinov refused twice to shake Nigel Short's hand at the Corus B tournament, whereafter Short was awarded the win by the referee. Later, Cheparinov's appeal was heard, and he was granted a rematch after apologizing.

I think it is stupid to have such a specific rule (what will they do if he does shake his hand next time - but violently?), but think that Cheparinov could be thrown out for bad behaviour...

Today, Short won the rematch.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chess: Magnus still in the lead in Corus

The fantastic play of Magnus Carlsen continues in Corus. Yesterday, he made another impressive match, drawing with the black pieces against Veselin Topalov. Today, he managed only a draw with the white pieces against Boris Gelfand, but that still leaves him in the lead:

1. M. Carlsen 5.5
2. V. Kramnik 5
2. L. Aronian 5
4. T. Radjabov 4.5
4. V. Anand 4.5
6. S. Mamedyarov 4
6. M. Adams 4
6. V. Ivanchuk 4
6. L. van Wely 4
10. J. Polgar 3.5
10. V. Topalov 3.5
10. P. Leko 3.5
13. P. Eljanov 2.5
13. B. Gelfand 2.5

The remaining games are
Tuesday: P. Leko - M. Carlsen
Wednesday: L. van Wely - M. Carlsen
Friday: M. Carlsen - V. Anand
Saturday: V. Kramnik - M. Carlsen
Sunday: M. Carlsen - T. Radjabov

No easy games here!

Ski jumping - waiting for weather



This weekend, people in Harrachov have been trying to compete in ski jumping. There should have been two competitions, each with two jumps. But as so often before, the competitors had to wait for hours for acceptable weather. In the end, no competition was finished on Saturday, and today, only one jump was possible. Tom Hilde and Anders Jacobsen managed to get 2nd and 3rd place. Janne Ahonen won.

Yesterday's broadcast was therefore quite slow. The TV crews had to focus on the ski jumpers in the tower, where some had taken off their wet jump suits to avoid getting a cold.

It must be a strange life: going to a far-away place for the weekend, spending most of it waiting for a chance to spend a few seconds in the air, and then going back home...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Movie: Cassandra's Dream



As always, I have high expectations when going to a Woody Allen movie. And as almost always, I go out of the movie theater satisfied.

This is not one of his funniest films, but it does have a lot of laughs. It isn't a wholly serious film either, but its themes are nevertheless the most basic ones: fate, life and death, loyalty and love.

It's like a Greek tragedy, of course. The characters at one point discuss Greek tragedies, and the name of the film points to Cassandra, who in Greek mythology made prophesies that no one believed in - she foresaw the fall of Troy by means of the Troyan horse, but was disregarded. (In Mighty Aphrodite, she is quoted thus: "I see disaster. I see catastrophe. Worse, I see lawyers!") The discussions on fate (do we have a choice? did we choose the right path?) could have been taken directly from the classical tragedies.



The actors are great. Ewan McGregor has no nude scenes in this movie, but is still lovely. And it is so wonderful to see the combination of British actors and the direction of Woody Allen.

As always, I'm looking forward to the next Woody Allen movie. Almost no other directors are as consistently good.

Cassandra's Dream (2007)
Directed by Woody Allen

Main actors:
Ewan McGregor as Ian
Colin Farrell as Terry
Tom Wilkinson as Howard
Sally Hawkins as Kate

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Naked men poster too racy for Japanese railway

The Age writes that a poster has been stopped in Japan because it features nude men.



Why the "nude" men (already covered up in this poster)? Because it's a poster for a traditional event hundreds of years old. So sad that Japan seems to be moving in a more nudity-hysterical direction...

Monday, January 14, 2008

400,000!

Just a short post to mention that I just passed 400,000 hits for this blog. Thanks, folks!

Movie: Rottweiler



It's pretty hard to claim that this movie is, in any way, a good movie. The tendency the people in this movie have to walk aimlessly and defencelessly outdoors after finding people being brutally killed by "something with sharp teeth" gives a good idea of the aimlessness of the directors.

The movie is in 3D, which means that the audience was rudely awakened from time to time by people pointing guns or throwing darts at the audience. However, the 3D effects didn't work too well for me.

So why, based on these arguments (and the fact that the movie was thoroughly predictable), do I give the big score 4/10? Well, mostly because it was fun to see it - it was particularly fun to see the "mad scientist" hiding behind a column in the middle of a room (!) in which a secret meeting was taking place. It was fun to see how the dogs were amazingly absent whenever the main characters had something important to say to each other, and how they sprang to life whenever they were needed. It is simply fun to see bad movies at times...



If you want to see only one rottweiler movie this year - then ask yourself a big "why?" And if you really have to, see it when in a good mood.

Dogs of Hell (1982)
Directed by Worth Keeter

China's Olympic preparations: jails writers

China's arrest of blogger Hu Jia a few weeks ago, illustrates the huge human rights problems in China. It is thought that they will try to silence critics in China, but at the same time try to look good from the outside. That is a balancing act they should not be allowed to manage.



What should the outside world do? It seems that a boycott is out of the question. Then, the very least is to write about the human right problems all the time when the olympics are discussed. China wants to use the olympics to show that it is a wonderful country. It will be, as soon as the human rights issues are solved.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Corus round 2: Magnus still in the lead

As mentioned yesterday, Magnus Carlsen went through the whole Corus tournament last year without a single win. Therefore, I must be allowed to celebrate a little already because of him winning his two first games this year. He is now sharing the lead with Aronian. Magnus' father writes about today's game (against Pavel Eljanov) in his blog.

Movie: The Nanny Diaries



Actually, this movie is nowhere near as terrible as I would have expected. Usually, American comedies I haven't even heard of, featuring as in-flight entertainment, is not a very good idea. Just from hearing the title, you can pretty much figure out the ingredients in this movie. However, there is a tiny little charm in there, which actually made seeing the movie a better alternative than staring into the seat in front of me.

But it is a good idea to see the trailer instead of the movie. It has most of the fun episodes, and also tells the whole story:



The Nanny Diaries (2007)
Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

Main actress:
Scarlett Johansson as Annie Braddock

Movie: Paranoid Park



"I don't think I'm ready for Paranoid Park", Alex says in the beginning of the movie. "Yeah, but noone's ever ready for Paranoid Park", his friend Jared answers.

Maybe what they're really talking about here is some big concept, such as "adulthood". Alex is never really ready for the responsibilities that come as a consequence of being an adult. But then, maybe noone's ever ready.

What they're actually talking about is a skating area, with the cool guys who has built the whole thing themselves. It is a tempting and scary place at the same time. Alex ends up going there anyway...

As usual these days, the trailer tells far too much about the story. I'm glad I saw the movie without knowing too much about the story beforehand. But even then, the movie was only moderately interesting. Gabe Nevins is doing a good job and is making me a bit interested in what happens to him.



Come to think about it, I never really saw a Gus van Sant movie I've loved. I've liked several, and often because of good actors, but there's something a tad unengaging even in his best movies (Good Will Hunting or My Own Private Idaho). That's just my opinion, of course...

(Apparently, the movie is released in the US as late as March 7th. I saw it in Taipei.)

Paranoid Park (2007)
Directed by Gus Van Sant

Main actor:
Gabe Nevins as Alex

Theatre: Les Éphémères

I saw the first part of Les Éphémères (by Théâtre du Soleil) a few weeks ago. The play was performed in a tent outside the National Theatre in Taipei, Taiwan.

So, what do I think? Well, it should first be pointed out that I don't know French - at least certainly not enough to follow the conversation in this play. I don't know Chinese either (the play had Chinese "subtitles"). But my boyfriend translated a little... The first part lasted for three and a half hours. The seats were planks of wood, so it was not comfortable. Moreover, as this was a tent, sounds from the Taipei nightlife at times were too distractive (especially as bands were using the park outside the tent for practice)...

When this is said and done, I found at least part of the play touching. The play shows short scenes from the everyday lives of lots of different characters. The first one showed a woman who was selling her mother's house after the mother's death. The power of memories and the clash of this woman's sadness against the expectations of the person moving in, touched a nerve with me.

The other scene that touched me, was a scene where a woman was playing games with her child. Then her ex-husband called, and then we see how the woman tries to regain her playfulness after being reminded of sad and unpleasant things.

Thus, I leave the play with strong memories of short parts of it, but still find the idea of a seven-hour play in these circumstances mind-numbing. (We chose not to see the second part, being performed a few days later.)

On the surface, the most peculiar part of the performance was the way in which everything took place on small "stagelets" - small mini-stages, being pushed in and out by members of the ensemble. Although this was not as irritating as it may seem - and obviously served to remind everybody that this was a play and not real life - it still in the end seemed more pointless than necessary.



Director: Ariane Mnouchkine

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Movie: An inconvenient truth



This is the first movie ever to have got both a Grammy, an Oscar and a Nobel Prize.

To me, both the Grammy and Oscar seems a bit strange. The song is not all that great, and the movie, although being one of the best filmed lectures I have ever seen, is not all that wonderful. The Nobel Peace Prize, however, is well deserved.

One of the reasons why the movie does not seem all that powerful to me, may be that the facts are so well-known. Maybe the film is more powerful in the US, where people (or at least the administration) have ignored the scientific facts for quite a long time. (After all, while politicians all over the world have joined the Kyoto treaty, US politicians have been busy discussing whether creationism should be taught in schools...)

It was interesting to finally see the movie. I hope people will remember it - even after all the buzz of the awards have worn off...



An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Directed by Davis Guggenheim

Main "actor":
Al Gore as himself

loc.alize.us

I just discovered loc.alize.us - a terribly cool tool for geotagging Flickr photos and then browsing them (using Google Earth). loc.alize.us is far superior to Flickr's own map feature (at least at the moment).

I've only geotagged a few hundred of my photos yet, but will certainly spend some time geotagging in the future. The process of zooming in on Google Earth to find the exact spot where long-ago holiday photos were taken, brings back lots of memories. Cool!

Movie: Man of the year



A talk show host and comedian decides to run for president of the USA. At the same time, the vote-counting technology is as bad as ever. This is the starting point for humour and political satire, with elements of drama thrown in.

I tend to like Robin Williams, and he is the main reason to see this movie as well. However, the movie could also be a good antidote against politicians who most of all try not to have any opinions that may hurt their chances at the polls.

However, as the number on top of this "review" makes clear, although the movie is funny, thought-provoking and has some moments of suspense, it is neither hilarious, life-changing or terribly exciting. Worth a look, but don't go out of your way to see it...



Man of the Year (2006)
Directed by Barry Levinson

Main actor:
Robin Williams as Tom Dobbs
Christopher Walken as Jack Menken

"Warning": searching for "Man of the year" on the net, may lead you to quite different things than this movie... :-)

Corus: Magnus Carlsen takes the lead

Just a short post to note that the Corus chess tournament has started today. Last year, Magnus Carlsen had a bad tournament, not being able to secure a single win. This year, he met Shakhryar Mamedyarov in the first round, and managed to win with black. Mamedyarov got into time trouble in the run-up to the 40th move, and seems to have resigned following Magnus' 40th move.

Radjabov-Anand and Aronian-Topalov are still going on at the time of writing, while the other four games ended with draws.

A fantastic start of this chess year for Magnus!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Top 10 tracks of 2007

Here are the top 10 (ok, eleven really) tracks that I've listened to in 2007, according to Last.fm:

1. John Lennon – Nobody Told Me
2. Patti Smith – Smells Like Teen Spirit
3. Magnus Grønneberg – Kiss
3. deLillos – Min beibi dro avsted
5. deLillos – Du er min supermodell
6. Marit Bergman – Shame on Me
7. deLillos – Ny paraply
7. deLillos – Regn
7. Sondre Lerche – Airport Taxi Reception
10. Green Day – Time of your Life
10. The Beach Boys – Wouldn't It Be Nice

Well, a pretty varied collection of songs, which betrays my love for deLillos and shows that I'm not very "up to date" (only two of these songs came out in 2007).

Most viewed postings of 2007

My blogs had 120,959 visits in 2007 (236,469 pageviews). These were my five most popular postings:

1. Movie: Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds (8,814 pageviews)

2. Naked Harry fakes orgasm on horse (8,350 pageviews)

3. Roskilde Nude Run 2007 (7,458 pageviews)

4. Roskilde Nude Run again (6,120 pageviews)

5. Russ nude (naken russ) (4,569 pageviews)

Several of these are a couple of years old, but seem to have a topic which still is interesting. However, I'm pleasantly surprised that a movie "review" catches first spot.

And these were the top keywords used to find me:
1. naken russ 627
2. nude sports 484
3.  480
4. nude soccer players 467
5. nude soccer 436

The top 24 on this list were nudity-related... Again: the keywords leading people to my blog does not always give an accurate description of the full range of topics treated here... :-)

(Name in third place edited on request of the person.)

Most viewed photos of 2007

Here are my five most viewed photos on Flickr from 2007:

158_5900_r1

159_5904_r1

158_5899

Gay man in a kilt

161_6194_r1

It seems that being viewed on Flickr, depends much on having tags such as "nude", "gay" or "kilt"... I assure you that I have taken more interesting photos than these five in 2007...

Ugly Betty

Today, a whole new season of Ugly Betty starts on Norwegian television. Am I looking forward to that?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Where I've been...

After the last weeks' stay in China and Taiwan, it's time to update the list of the countries I've been to:

1. Norway 12,869 days
2. Netherlands 37
3. France 33
4. ROC Taiwan 32
5. USA 26
6. New Zealand 24
7. Denmark 19
8. Sweden 15
9. Italy 14
9. UK 14
9. Spain 14
9. Greece 14
13. Czech Rep. 12
14. China 10
14. Canada 10
16. Germany 8
17. Portugal 7
17. Croatia 7
17. Japan 7
20. Mauritius 5
20. S. Africa 5
20. Russia 5
20. Finland 5
20. Australia 5
20. Singapore 5
26. Austria 4
26. Belgium 4

So far, I've been abroad something like 341 days - in 2008 I will have stayed more than one year of my life abroad. This proves that I love statistics as much as it proves that I love travelling, I guess...

Norwegian a hit in Thailand



According to Dagbladet, a Norwegian, André Nilsen, has won a talent show (called "07 Show") in Thailand. Cool. (As a small country, Norway has to celebrate even minor victories... :-)

- This is not porn

Norwegian TV "celebrity" Jan Thomas (who late last year got famous for saying that women should not breast-feed their children as it destroys their looks), is all over Dagbladet.no today, claiming that the movie Mojave, which he took part in a few years ago, is not pornography.

"It shows no more skin than what we are used to seeing daily on tv or at the cinema", he claims.

A review I found, says that "There’s full frontal nudity, there’s obvious enjoyment and at times, you can tell they are really having sex, but the way it’s filmed from various angles precludes you from seeing the hardcore action."

I'm all for movies with full frontal nudity, "enjoyment" and even real sex, but cannot agree that I see that daily on tv. Maybe Jan Thomas has some channels I don't...




Jan Thomas today

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Powerpoint presentation

Here's an old but cool video with important lessons for powerpoint presenters:

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 -> 2008

Okay, it's that time of year again. We are supposed to summarize the year that has passed, and think of what will happen in the year to come. One way of postponing this is, of course, to insist that it is still the year of the pig, and that the year of the rat is still one month away. But that's the lazy solution.

Okay, so how has 2007 been? On a personal level, it has been great: it started and ended in the company of my wonderful boyfriend (although there was a painful four months of separation (geographically) in there). Workwise, it has also been good - mainly because I'm allowed to work on interesting research and development projects halftime until 2012.

In 2007, there was a local election which was great for the party I support, Venstre, in that we got a position of power in Oslo. On the national stage, the year started with an all-powerful union leader Gerd-Liv Valla, who lost her job in disgrace because of harrassment issues, and ended the year signing books in bookstores. It is a good sign that even the powerful may lose their job when they maltreat their subordinates.

More importantly, the last gasps of the Bush presidency proved to be lame duck season - it now seems that he will be content with starting two wars (and ending none), which may be a record of sorts. 2008 will be interesting because it will show us who the new president will be - president Clinton, president Obama, president Romney, president McCain? We'll see...

Technologically, will this be the year when the ebook reader finally takes off? I'm so ready for that, I'm tired of the kilos of newspapers on my doorstep every year. Or will it just be another year of still better cellphones, PCs, cameras..?

In 2007, I travelled to Finland, Czech Republic, China and Taiwan. 2008 will at least take me to Mexico and Taiwan. 2008 will be the year when I manage to say a few words in Chinese (in addition to the "Hello", "Thank you" and "I love you" that I already know... :-)

2008 will be a great year for sports: the European Championship in soccer will take place in summer, and we'll have the olympics in Beijing in autumn. There will be the usual four Grand Slams in tennis, world championship competitions in chess and the usual pharmaceutical cycling events. And most importantly: my favorite team (Ham-Kam) is back in the elite in the Norwegian soccer series...

There is much to look forward to in 2008 and much to remember from 2007. I wish everybody a happy new year!