Thursday, February 28, 2008

Goodie from YouTube

Yes, more than 15 million people have already seen it, but in case you've missed it:

Ivanchuk - Carlsen


ivanchuk_carlsen580
Originally uploaded by chessvibes.
Magnus is back in positive territory after beating Ivanchuk today. Ivanchuk did significantly better in the opening, and Magnus seemed to have to fight for a draw with the black pieces. However, as Ivanchuk spent a lot of time, Magnus managed to keep the position complicated. Thus, very early in the game, Ivanchuk had only one minute per move left. Things went from bad to worse for him, as in the end he had only seconds left on the clock - and suddenly he had failed to stop Magnus from promoting his pawn...

At the time of writing, Radjabov - Leko has just ended in the draw, while the rest of the players are still working hard.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ski jumper scandal



VG has taken it upon itself to keep us all updated on the "Harri Olli scandal". Harri Olli is a Finnish ski jumper, who jumped 206.5 metres in Saturday's world championship. On Friday night - and well into the Saturday - he is supposed to have had a wild party, including sex with two women.

When receiving criticism from his coach (Marvaila), he said: "If Marvaila can't get laid, he can go f**k himself".

Which only confirms the view that ski jumping is hard work for 10 seconds at a time, and offers plenty of spare time... :-)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Guestbook

Comments are all very nice - and welcomed. However, some people might like to write a message concerning the blog as a whole, not just on a specific posting. Therefore I've added a guestbook. Feel free to write in my guestbook!


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Nude snowboarding



At the "The Oakley Arctic Challenge" snowboard competition, a guy decided to snowboard in the nude, according to Dagbladet.

Sounds terribly dangerous and painful...

National Museum of Natural Science

Last Christmas, I visited Taichung, which is a city almost in the middle of Taiwan, about two hours from Taipei by bus. Taichung has 1,000,000 inhabitants. I've already blogged on the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, but we also visited the National Museum of Natural Science

Kina 725

This was a huge area, of which we only had the time to see a few parts. For instance, we saw a movie in the IMAX theatre. The coolest thing, however, was the rainforest. The building in itself was cool (with a huge butterfly outside - click on the photo above to see larger versions). There was also a possibility to go up 15 metres or so, to see everything from above.

Kina 727

It's also cute to see "details", such as the frog which seemed to work as a mascot for the museum.

Kina 605

Taichung also had some of the biggest shopping centres I've ever been to (they are supposed to be among the largest in Asia, according to some).

I'm looking forward to exploring other of Taiwan's cities on future trips to the island!

Nico Widerberg


Nico Widerberg
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
I attended a seminar at Refsnes Gods a week or so ago. Refsnes Gods is a hotel with a passion for art - for instance, there are several Munch prints there. I particularly liked this sculpture by Nico Widerberg, which was standing in the hallway on the way to my room. It is made of glass, which makes it glow in a particular way. Cool.

Halfway through Morelia-Linares

"The kid did it again!", writes Susan Polgar in her blog.

She refers to Magnus' win over Aronian last night. This win came after losing to Radjabov yesterday, which means that he's now back to an even score.

Now the chess players have an intercontinental flight to Linares, where they will play their first game on Thursday.

The standings at the halfway point are:
1. Anand 4.5
2. Shirov, Topalov 4.0
4. Carlsen, Aronian 3.5
6. Radjabov, Ivanchuk 3.0
8. Leko 2.5

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Theatre: Peter Pan

Peter Pan can fly! That happens to be the most impressive part of this production of the classic play. The way Peter Pan, Wendy and the kids fly effortlessly in the air above us is, at times, breathtaking. (Of course wires are visible at times, but the point is how the actors manage to avoid looking just like something that is hanging off wires...)

The other thing I will remember is the scene near the end, where Wendy tries to get Peter to grow up with her. It's surprising to me that I actually am moved by this.

Besides this, the production is solid. The music is not terribly good (but ok), the jokes are not hilarious (but I laugh at times), the actors are of variable quality, but luckily, Frank Kjosås is quite good as Peter Pan.



Det Norske Teatret, with videos from their rehearsals.

My photos elsewhere

Flickr has included more support for stats lately, which makes it possible to see which webpages around are linking to my photos. It's quite fun...

An architecture blog includes a photo I've taken of the new opera in Oslo. It's a wonderful building, and this site includes lots of photos - many much better than mine...
Oslo Opera House


Squidoo links to some photos of "lego art"...
Lego art

Kilted Pride has photos of men in kilts...
Gay man in a kilt

Several Schmap! travel guides includes some of my photos.

F6 includes a gay pride photo.

It's cool to see how my photos end up in strange places - thanks to Web 2.0...

Norwegian skier goes nude



Norwegian skier Ragnar Bragvin Andresen (20) has modelled for John Andresen. In an interview with TV2 he says that he does it because "several of his idols have done it with success. It has put them on the map and made sponsors aware of them".

According to Wikipedia, he has taken gold medals in roller skiing, but no particular successes in "ordinary skiing". Which may be why I have never heard of him...

(See also Nettavisen.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Topalov-Carlsen 0-1

In a ridiculous example of only reporting good news, I'll mention that Magnus Carlsen beat Veselin Topalov yesterday in the 5th round of this year's Morelia-Linares tournament. (Read a bit about the game in Magnus Carlsen's blog.)

As Topalov is the former world champion, beating him with the black pieces is a very impressive thing to do. However, the bad "news" are that Magnus has only made three draws in the first four games, so he is in the middle of the table with an even score. Yesterday's win against Topalov took him from a kind-of-disappointing-but-ok score to an impressive one...

The problem with the Morelia part of the Morelia-Linares tournament is that it happens to take place in Morelia, Mexico - which means that the matches last until 2 or 3 o'clock at night (Norwegian time). I'll follow the tournament closer when it moves on to Linares next week...

Edison Chen "scandal"



Even Norwegian newspapers are printing the story of Edison Chen, the Hong Kong-born singer and actor, who today said that he would pause his career after the publication of sex pics of him and several girls.

Apparently, there is still important differences between China and the west. While "accidentally" losing control of sex photos have turned into a cliché in the west - a way of giving your career a boost by way of extra publicity - in China people are actually upset. It must be granted, though, that this current "scandal" has proportions unknown even in the west - it is said that the "leak" consists of hundreds of explicit photos of Edison with fellow stars.

The photos were "stolen" when his laptop was handed in for maintainance.

So who are to blame for this "scandal"? That depends on what you mean by "blame". The people in the photos are to blame for being photographed, Edison Chen is to blame for taking the photos and being careless, the laptop repairmen are to blame for stealing them, someone is to blame for posting them on the net, but mainly the public are to blame for being so upset about them.

They're only photos. It's not important. It's not a REAL scandal - like a war in Iraq...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oslo Fashion Week

As usual, I didn't attend Oslo Fashion Week. However, Dagbladet shows photos from the event - assuring me that I didn't really miss much. For instance, these briefs looks okay, but not THAT different from what I can buy at the local men's wear shop?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday drama

Okay, nothing ever happens to me worth mentioning in this blog... Well, what happened today may qualify...

I decided to reserve the laundry room before going for a walk in the beautiful weather. Okay, I went into the room and reserved tomorrow afternoon. Then I walked back out - no, that was what I wanted to do. But sadly, the door didn't move. I tried for a while, but realized that the lock was broken. I could unlock it from outside, but not from inside.

Well, at this point I probably could have called police or yelled for help from people who might be at home, but I decided to just go out a window instead. As this room is in the cellar, I had to climb up to get to the window. No problem: there was a solid table (made of two-inch planks) just beneath the window. So I tried carefully to step on top of it... and found myself on the floor a split second later. The table was obviosly not solid enough. Moreover, I now had injured my knee and destroyed the watch that my boyfriend gave me...

Well, to cut a long story short: the chair next to the table happened to be strong enough, and I easily got outside. How, I don't understand right now, because for the rest of the day, the knee has hurt bad whenever I've tried to use it for something - such as walking. So my Sunday has been even more lazy than I imagined - trying to stay on the couch as much as I could...

It's interesting what a little change of focus can do - this morning, I was glad that I had a whole day of doing nothing important in front of me - a whole day for reading, watching tv... Now, after doing nothing important the whole day, just reading and watching tv and that kind of thing, I feel I've been a bit unlucky. The only difference now is that it hurts a bit when I try to walk...

And that my watch is destroyed. That's the only really sad part...

Welcome, Kosovo!



Today, the declaration of independence for Kosovo was read, and Europe apparently has a new country. The UN Security Council will discuss the events, but surely, Kosovo will be recognized by many important powers. There is a heavy responsibility of the politicians of Kosovo to make sure that minorities are treated fairly, so as not to trigger a new spiral of violence in the region. Let's hope things work out peacefully...

Cool game - world cup headers

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Gay marriage is wrong 2

Art: Splender of the Baroque and Beyond

At my third visit to the National Palace Museum, we saw Splendor of the Baroque and Beyond: Great Habsburg Collectors Masterpieces: From the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna.

While I believe that I have seen most of these artworks in Vienna earlier, it was nice to see them again in this way. The selection visiting Taiwan was small, but breathtaking. The artists included Rembrandt, Rubens, Durer, Van Dyck, Titian, Tintoretto and more... Although these do not represent my favorite period, I'm still amazed at the self portrait by Rubens and Rembrandt's painting of his son - the very best of the genre.

This time, I did not have a look at the main exhibition - the artworks from the Forbidden City in Beijing, removed from there as the government of China evacuated to Taiwan.

183_8376

However, I did enjoy the park surrounding the museum - and in particular some of the birds...

183_8375_r1

Art: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

Taichung

Last Christmas, I visited the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung. It hosted very varied exhibitions. Some of the exhibitions showed in great detail the development of Taiwan painting in the 20th century - a bit too detailed for me who knew nothing in advance. Other exhibitions included art from various parts of Asia.

My favorite artwork was Japanese artist Hiraki Sawa's "Going Places Sitting Down" from 2006, an 8min40sec video.



The screen was split in three parts, with images from an ordinary apartment. The "ordinary apartment" contained possibilities for the imagination, however. So while we saw the apartment "as it is" on one part of the screen, details were explored, with details from fantasy added, on the other screens. The carpet became an ocean and the bathroom a space for airspace warfare.

I'm sure the video can be analyzed in several ways. For me, it shows how a creative mind, such as that of a child, may see beyond the mundane, boring everyday realities and create a world of its own.

There were other cool artworks as well - for instance, I liked the one where the guest was invited to write texts on a keyboard outside a room. The texts then turned out to be(come) a part of an artwork projected on a screen inside.

Cool museums!

See
DVblog - with video from the artwork
Moon river blog

Gay marriage is wrong 1

Swords in motion



As Ewoud Broeksma has published a few more photos, I will remind you of his website...

My first toon

ToonDoo is a site for making cartoons - for people who can't draw. It's actually quite cool. Although probably depressively limited if you want the visual part to be a major factor in your cartoons, it should work well enough for anyone wanting to explore making cartoons that are more "text-based".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm in love...



It's Valentine's day - and I am spending the evening thinking about how incredibly lucky I am to have the wonderful boyfriend I have.

I wish everybody else as much luck in love as I've had...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Ernest Hemingway wrote the story in the title of this posting - as a solution to the problem of telling a story with only six words. Guardian Unlimited has challenged contemporary writers to come up with equally economical stories - they are well worth a look.
Dad called: DNA back: he isn't.
Helen Fielding

See also a book with six-word life stories, called Not Quite What I Was Planning.

Challenge to you: can you come up with a good six-word story? My comment field has enough space for quite a lot of them...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Guidelines for giving a truly terrible talk

I've been pointed to some Guidelines for giving a truly terrible talk. These are truly invaluable. An example:
Never, ever, rehearse, even briefly. Talks are best when they arise spontaneously and in random order. Leave it as an exercise for the listener to assemble your thoughts properly and make some sense out of what you say.

Why didn't I get to see these guidelines before, when so many of the people I've been listening to for so many years must have had access to them?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Being friends with students on Facebook

It had to happen. A "friend request" from a student of mine (of sorts). This is a little dilemma, which I need to think through.

First, just to clear that out of the way: I would NEVER send a "friend request" to a student. Facebook is a social networking site, and a student may or may not have good reasons not to want his or her teacher looking in. Putting a student in a position where he/she has to turn down such a request is unnecessary. (An article by Hewitt and Forte shows that many students are even upset that the teachers are on Facebook in the first place.)

But what about the situation when the student takes the initative? There are at least two reasons not to be so strict in that case: An article in the Missourian mentions that it facilitates communication. And it feels better to click "accept" than to click "decline" when a student invites. Moreover, there may be students who have important topics to address that they feel uncomfortable addressing at school with other students around, and want to be able to discuss it "on neutral ground". (However, the need for this should perhaps be covered by ordinary email.)

Okay, so the reasons for accepting seem less than compelling. What about the reasons for rejecting?
One reason may be that of what the rest of the world perceives. Will they think it is improper to be "friends" with a student? Will it be seen as being on personal terms with some students and not with others? Well, probably not - most people who are awake know that the term "friend" has a totally different meaning on Facebook than IRL (in real life). (The blogger of Reflections from the chalkboard seems to give this reason much weight, however, and I think it should be given different weight depending on the circumstances - such as age and country of residence...)

Another important reason, however, is that being "friends" involves inviting each other into a "personal space" where other rules are valid than at school. This goes both ways:
- what if I find something on the profile of a student that I find troubling (remember that I'm a teacher educator - my students are to become teachers). Depending on the seriousness of it, I might feel morally obliged to tell someone, even though I would also feel that it's "none of my business". This is parallell to going to parties with your students: you don't necessarily want to know how they behave in their spare time...
- I have strong views on politics and other things, and these opinions tend to find their way to my Facebook profile. They also find their way to my blog, and in both instances I could possibly argue that I have freedom of speech, and that students have freedom not to visit my blog/Facebook profile if they don't want to know. However, becoming "friends" on Facebook involves being subscribed to a "feed" - isn't that just a bit too much?

Currently, I'm undecided. I also see another factor that should (perhaps) be taken into account: I would find it more difficult to be "friends" with a student who I will meet at an oral exam in future, than a student who will only have written, anonymous exams. But I don't know if this in consistent with the rest I've been writing...

After writing this much, I've come to the conclusion that none of the reasons so far are totally compelling. I'm interested in advice. And in the mean time, I might press "Accept" or "Reject" - I just don't know...

Bøkko beaten by stripper

According to Dagbladet, Håvard Bøkko (who is Norway's best speed skater), was beaten by a female stripper at a strip club in 2006. The stripper thought he was touching her, but he claims innocence.

What was he doing in the strip club in the first place? Well, in the photo in the article, it's Bøkko who is doing the stripping...

Friday, February 08, 2008

My candidate in the US election

There seems to be only three realistic candidates left in the US presidential race: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Three honest and good people, I believe. So who would I have voted for, if I (gods forbid) did have a vote in the US election?

To answer that question, I have made a list of the most important areas in my view:
1. Internationalism (25%)
I would like a US president that cares about the international situation and intervenes when that is needed, based on international law and international organizations. (This means staying in Afghanistan until to help the Afghan people but to leave Iraq as soon as possible.)

2. Human rights (20%)
I would like a US president that supports human rights. (This means closing Guantanamo and stop handing prisoners over to other regimes that tortures prisoners, for instance.)

3. Valuing diversity (20%)
I would like a US president that sees that diversity is a strength, not a problem. (For instance, this means supporting gay rights and welcoming immmigrants.)

4. The war on global climate change (20%)
I would like a US president that takes climate change seriously, and takes the lead in the international fight.

5. Free trade (15%)
I believe that free trade is an important help in improving the international economy (as well as the US one), and helps poorer countries. One aspect here is also an economically viable immigration policy.

Currently, I view the candidates' views thus:

Internationalism (based on The Independent):
Barack Obama: Committed to withdrawing from Iraq. Multilateralist. 8/10
Hillary Clinton: Voted for the Iraq war. Now wants to get out. Interventionist. 5/10
John McCain: Strong supporter of Bush's policy. 1/10

Human rights (based on 2decide.com):
All three candidates want to close Guantanamo and to stop torturing prisoners. All three support the death penalty.
Barack Obama: 9/10
Hillary Clinton: 9/10
John McCain: 9/10

Valuing diversity (based on 2decide.com):
All three are against equal rights to marriage, but Obama and Clinton supports civil unions.
Barack Obama: 5/10
Hillary Clinton: 5/10
John McCain: 1/10

The war on global climate change (based on The Independent):
Barack Obama: Seems a bit too uncommitted. 5/10
Hillary Clinton: Slow to get going. 5/10
John McCain: Have annoyed the rest of the Republican party by taking climate change seriously. 9/10

Free trade (based on Council of foreign relations):
Barack Obama: Generally supports free trade, although with some reservations. 5/10
Hillary Clinton: Used to be a supporter, but have become more reserved recently. 4/10
John McCain: Is a free trade advocate. 10/10

Total score:
Barack Obama: 6.55 (out of 10)
Hillary Clinton: 5.65 (out of 10)
John McCain: 5.55 (out of 10)

Preliminary conclusion: I'm supporting Barack Obama for president!

(But please let me know if I've misrepresented any candidate's view on the issues...)

Lame excuse for posting a photo of a sexy man



Yes, I know that blogging on a new flight route is a lame excuse for posting a photo of a sexy guy and a swimming pool. However, that seems to be just what Dagbladet is doing today. Therefore, while posting the same photo, I can disguise my posting as a critical comment on the media's attempts to put sexy photos in every article, even where they have no place whatsoever.

Sexy guy, by the way...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy new year!

I wish all my readers a happy new year - may the year of the rat be a happy one!

Gay carnival in Rio



VG has a video story from the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, showing how the gay community celebrates there. Seems fun!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Movie: You, the Living (Du levande)



I didn't expect the movie to be this funny. By some strange mechanism, we create our own impressions on directors or movies based on half-read articles, photos and headlines, which are without basis in real life. I expected a Roy Andersson movie to be arty and serious, saying serious things about life that need contemplation.

Well, it sort of is arty and serious, but it is also at times incredibly funny. It has a significant resemblance of Jacques Tati movies, with low-key humour - sometimes happening at the very edge of the frame while nothing really important happens in the centre. But at the same time, the "nothing really important" bit happens to be the life of important characters of the movie.

You see, while being hilarious, it also describes ordinary people leading ordinary lives, while having their ordinary, extraordinary dreams. This is done by showing little scenes, with just the tiniest of connections to the rest of the movie. (Pretty much like Les Éphémères (by Théâtre du Soleil), come to think about it.

I haven't laughed this much at a movie in a long time. I'll certainly look out for other Roy Andersson movies.



Du levande (2007)
Directed by Roy Andersson

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Top 5 podcasts

Here's a list of the five English-language podcasts that I enjoy the most:

1. NPR: It's All Politics
NPR has lots of interesting podcasts. This one is a light, funny look at the events of American politics through the previous week. And now, during the presidential campaign, it's especially interesting. With Ken Rudin and Ron Elving.

2. Front Row Highlights
This podcast offers "interviews with leading novelists, musicians, film directors, artists and more" - from BBC's Front Row programme. Almost always interesting, with an amazing array of important guests.

3. NPR: Sunday Puzzle
A weekly puzzle from NPR, with Will Shortz. The show is only 7 to 8 minutes long - a perfect-sized brain teaser.

4. Real Time with Bill Maher
Bill Maher is a tremendeously funny guy on the left side of US politics. Like almost everybody else, he thinks George Bush jr. is the worst US president ever - and says so in a very funny way. Cool guests as well in this talkshow.

5. Podictionary
A new word every day. The history of the word is presented in an interesting and funny way. Each episode is only about four minutes, making it the perfect size for that last few minutes of the trip to work...

Didn't make it this time (although I listen to them a lot): Best of YouTube, The Economist podcast, NPR: Story of the Day.

My favorite podcasts in Norwegian are discussed in the post Topp 5 podkaster.