Sunday, June 28, 2009

High Museum of Art

I have never heard about any particularly good art museum in Atlanta, so imagine my surprise when I realized that only two subway-stops away from my hotel was a museum which had an Water Lilies by Monet and another exhibition on loan from the Louvre in Paris...

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Atlanta's High Museum of Art turned out to be a very pleasant way to spend a morning. First of all, I went to the Water Lilies, on lone from MOMA in New York. These huge canvasses were painted at Giverny, depicting his water garden. They are impressive works, but a bit obscure for my taste.

Richard Misrach's series of photographs "On the beach" was taken from a hotel room overlooking a beach in Hawaii. There is something voyeuristic about that. For instance, in "Untitled #81-03, 2003", a couple is far from the beach and others, kissing, probably not expecting to become part of an artwork. This clash between the private and the public is what makes me think the most when I see these photographs. They seem like a comment on an emerging future in which we can have live Google Earth coverage of everything. Therefore, the care-free holiday life of these people is transformed into a 1984-kind of world.
(Listen to Misrach on a podcast from the High Museum of Art.)

from youtube

In the permanent collections of the museum, there were also some highlights, for instance works by Monet, Renoir, Pisarro etc. Among these, I particularly liked Monet's "Houses of Parliament in the Fog" (1903) which is cool and has beautiful colours.

In the Louvre Atlanta part of the museum, the highlight was Antoine-Louis Barye's "Lion and serpent" (1832-1835). This part of the museum was also very educational, for instance there was a "Find the Forgery" interactive exhibit, in which you were to choose different tests to run on two artworks on display to try to figure out if they were real or fake. This gave an idea of the methods that are now at the disposal of museums.

It was great to get some "High art" after the Coca-Cola and the CNN tour...

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(From outside the High Museum of Art: a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture. Also notice the Rodin in the background.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 30

"Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat." (Alex Levine)

"Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made." (Oscar Wilde)

"Operator, give me the number for 911!" (Homer Simpson)

Friday, June 26, 2009

CNN Center

Last week I visited the CNN Center in Atlanta. In a way, there wasn't that much to see - some studios and some of the technology. But it feels quite amazing to be looking at the studio which gets the attention of the whole world when big events happen. For instance, it was CNN that I turned to when, on September 11th, 2001, I got an SMS saying that I should watch the news.

It's a bit strange how the studio is arranged - with maybe a hundred people working at any time to collect news stories from around the world, and with the studio in the same room, with no wall between.

The guided tour cost $15 and lasted for 55 minutes - well worth the money, if you, as me, have spent hours looking at the studio from other parts of the globe.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Feel free to swim topless in Malmø

According to VG, there's been a fight in the Swedish town of Malmø, on whether women should be allowed to swim topless in the city's swimming pools. According to the newspaper, women have faced expulsion from the swimming pool if they did not wear something to hide their breasts. "Discrimination", cried protesters, citing that men were allowed to swim with bare breasts.

I find this story intriguing, but I'm happy that, at least in Malmø, women will be allowed to bare their breasts. However, in an ideal world, people would wear whatever they wanted to, and nobody would care. We're not there yet.

The World of Coca-Cola and the Centennial Memorial Park

Before going to Atlanta, I think I probably just knew three things about the city: that Coca-Cola and CNN are from the city and that it has arranged the Olympic Games. More importantly, of course, is the fact that Martin Luther King was born there, but that was something I realized a bit later.

The World of Coca-Cola is a popular stop for tourists to Atlanta. Coca-Cola is, after all, one of the most famous brands in the world. The "museum" gives insight into how Coca-Cola started out, how the production and distribution are organized and into the promotion of the drink. And that's pretty much what one could expect. All in all, the "museum" works as one giant commercial for the product.

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One interesting twist in the end was the room in which you could test lots and lots of Coca-Cola products from around the world. None of them were very good, but it's still interesting...

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The Centennial Olympic Park is perhaps mostly known for the bombing in which two people were killed. It's a nice park, but with too few shadows in the temperatures when I visited...

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Movie: New in town



This is one of these films in which you know the ending after watching ten or fifteen minutes. And although the rest of the movie is at times funny and the characters are quite sympathetic, it's almost painful to see the formulaic ending.

Added to this pain are a few stale jokes and stereotypical characters.

On the other hand, if you have never before seen a movie where a new girl comes to town, doesn't fit in, alienates everybody, but then starts to see their points of view and falls in love with a local guy - then you might like it better. But in that case, you don't really watch movies that much, do you?

New in town (2009)

Director: Jonas Elmer

Interesting actors:
Renée Zellweger as Lucy Hill
Harry Connick Jr. as Ted Mitchell

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 29

"My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying." (Ed Furgol)

"My wife has a slight impediment in her speech - every now and then she stops to breathe." (Jimmy Durante)

"Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought-- particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things." (Woody Allen)

Wingate by Wyndham Atlanta Buckhead

The hotel I stayed in in Atlanta was an expensive one. I tend to try to avoid expensive hotels, but this time I just waited to long to order, so I had to order something in a hurry.

I have a few good things to say about the hotel: it has a limousine service, taking you to the train station (some 10-15 minutes away on foot). It has a chef making omelets etc for you at breakfast. (Other than that, the selection at breakfast was not too good.) There is a swimming pool (although there is a sign prohibiting you from swimming alone – which decreases its utility a great bit). And there is wireless internet as well as cable internet in the room (although it stops working on average once every two hours – needing a reboot of the computer before working again).

Since I guess I could have found a hostel at a quarter of the price if I had looked more thoroughly, I’m not too happy about my decision this time. I should mention, however, that it’s interesting to see the two faces of Atlanta. The area close to the Martin Luther King Memorial is predominantly non-white, with run-down houses, while the area close to the hotel seems far more affluent – and white. It seems that Martin Luther King’s dream must still be kept alive.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Lizzer test

Lizzer is a cute little thing that makes it easier to search for photos, videos etc and put them into your blog posts. This post is just a test for me to try it out... Here's a "random" photo, video and link, searched for using simple search phrases and then inserted by just pressing "insert". Yes, it seems to work...


from flickr

from youtube

jaybrannan.com

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Movie: Last Chance Harvey



Heterosexual Harvey (Dustin Hoffman) is divorced, in a job he doesn't like anymore and has alcohol problems. When he goes to London for his daughter's wedding, he meets a woman (Emma Thompson) who is trying to find someone sensible to love. She doesn't.

Needless to say, Hoffman and Thompson builds believeable characters which make the movie worth seeing, even if this movie, like the last one I saw (New in town), is quite predictable.

And of course I love the references to "A Room with a View" (my favorite film). The main morale is the same here: grab love where you find it, no matter how unconvenient or unconventional it may be.

Last Chance Harvey (2008)

Director: Joel Hopkins

Interesting actors:
Dustin Hoffman as Harvey Shine
Emma Thompson as Kate Walker

Macon, Georgia

I've spent almost a week in Macon, Georgia in the USA. I'm blogging about everything to do with the InSITE conference in another blog; Teacher Educator Bjørn. In this post I'll say a little of what Macon had to offer other than the conference.

I stayed at Ramada Macon West, a typical US road-side motel of which I've seen so many in movies. As it's the first time I've stayed in one, I thought that was cool. The rooms were okay and - most important of all - there was a swimming pool.

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Before the conference, we went on a "study trip" to three of Macon's sights: The
Ocmulgee National Monument, The Hay House and The Tubman African American Museum).

The Ocmulgee National Monument was a historic site for the native Americans and partly a museum with artifacts uncovered from the site. It was interesting.

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The Hay House (photography not allowed inside) was a mansion in which rich, white people had lived. It was beautiful and with lots of great details.

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The last stop was the Tubman African American Museum, dedicated to the history of African Americans. The museum had lots of folk art and also a room full of inventions by African American inventors - all in all an interesting museum.

I had a nice day spending time in these three places - while getting to know new colleagues. None of the sights were on the level of the main sights in Atlanta, however. More about them later...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nude man dashes Euro 2016 hope?

Whenever a journalist gets his hands on a nude photo, he immediately asks himself: what angle can I put on this story to be able to publish the photo? (Okay, this is not research-based, it's just how I imagine life in a newspaper is. And, mind you, I'm not complaining.)

A naked man ran onto the field during a soccer match between England and Finland in Sweden yesterday, and Aftenposten argues that this can be a problem when Sweden and Norway will apply to be hosts of the Euro 2016.

And then they post the photo, of course.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nude cycling protest

According to Dagbladet, lots of people shed their clothes and cycled in the nude through the streets of London today as a protest against cars.

While I support the cause, I don't think I will do my own sympathy nude cycling here in Macon, Georgia tomorrow. I don't have a bicycle here...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 28

"It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth." (George Burns)

"Men who have pierced ears are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry." (Rita Rudner)

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." (Oscar Wilde)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Book: The Right Attitude to Rain

Through "The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series, Alexander McCall Smith has secured a batallion of readers. His talent for creating intelligent and likeable characters who are grabbling with real-life conundrums, is just as apparent in his other book series.

In this third book in "The Sunday Philosophy Club" series, we follow Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and incurable everyday philosopher. As usual, the problems faced are not of world-wide consequence, but they are important enough for the circle of friends and acquaintances in Edinburgh.

I just love these books - and will now turn to the next one: "The Careful Use of Compliments".

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Search engine blind test

I've taken the Blind Search, a cool way of trying the Google, Bing and Yahoo at once (without knowing which is which) and to get to know which is the best one. I've tried it 20 times, with searches that are relevant to me, and this is the result:

Google was best 9 times
Bing was best 4 times
Yahoo was best 3 times
and 4 times I couldn't decide which was best.

A surprisingly clear victory to Google. Give it a try yourself, and see which search engine is best for your kind of searches!

Norway's most sexy man nude in corridor...

Andrè Villa, Norwegian FMX star, has written a little piece in his blog about something that happened to him the other night. He woke up standing naked in a corridor in a hotel. Apparently, he had been sleepwalking, opened the door and gone into the corridor. He had a little trouble getting back into his room, as his girlfriend was sleeping quite soundly.

VG picked up the story, and wrote about it, calling Andrè Villa Norway's most sexy man.



So, what did we learn today?
- Andrè Villa sleeps in the nude
- VG reads blogs trying to find news stories
- Nothing really important has happened in Norway today either

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The A to Z meme

As I've been so busy travelling lately, I've fallen behind on my Sunday Stealing. So why not take one of the memes that I haven't had the time to do before? Here's The A to Z meme:

A
• Are you available? No, I'm married.
• What is your age? 37
• What annoys you? heteronormativity

B
• Do you know anyone named Billy? no
• When is your birthday? Nov 8
• Who is your best friend? no comments. Ranking friends never lead to anything good.

C
• What's your favorite candy? Lohengrin, maybe.
• Crush? On my husband, of course...
• When was the last time you cried? February.

D
• Do you daydream?: Sure.
• What's your favorite kind of dog? Hot dog. :-) Sorry, I'm not too fond of dogs.
• What day of the week is it? Sunday.

E
• How do you like your eggs? Omelettes are great. Scrambled, boiled,... are also good.
• Have you ever been in the emergency room? Yes.
• Ever pet an elephant? No.

F
• Do you use fly swatters? No, we don't have a fly problem here.
• Have you ever used a foghorn? No (and I had to look it up to know what it was)
• Is there a fan in your room? No.

G
• Do you chew gum? Yes. Extra.
• Do you like gummy candies? Not too much.
• Do you like gory movies? Not unless they're funny.

H
• How are you? I'm fine, thanks...
• What's your height?. 185cm
• What color is your hair? dark blonde

I
• What's your favorite ice cream? I don't know. I don't eat ice cream that often.
• Have you ever ice skated? Yes. (distance, not figure)
• Ever been in an igloo? No.

J
• What's your favorite Jelly Bean? That's a US product, isn't it?
• Have you ever heard a really hilarious joke? Yes.
• Do you wear jewelry? No.

K
• Who do you want to kill? Mostly insects.
• Have you ever flown a kite? Yes.
• Do you think kangaroos are cute? I don't remember seeing one.

L
• Are you laidback? Quite.
• Lions or Tigers? Tigers.
• Do you like black licorice? Sure. I eat it a lot.

M
• Favorite movie as a kid? "Karate Kid"
• Ever shopped at Moosejaw? Moosejaw? I don't know what that is.
• Favorite store at the mall? The food store, I guess...

N
• Do you have a nickname? No.
• Whats your favorite number? 222
• Do you prefer night or day? Day. That's when I'm awake...

O
• What's your one wish? Living happily ever after with my husband
• Are you an only child? No, we're four
• Do you like the color orange? It's okay as long as there's not too much of it.

P
• What are you most paranoid about? I don't know.
• Piercings? No.
• Do you know anyone named Penelope? No, but the local bookstore at work is called Penelope.

Q
• Are you quick to judge people? I hope not.
• Do you like Quaker Oats? Never tasted it.
• Know anyone that makes quilts? No.

R
• Do you think you're always right? No. But I try not to sound sure when I'm not.
• Do you watch reality TV? Rarely.
• Reason to cry? Absense of loved ones.

S
• Do you prefer sun or rain? Sun
• Do you like snow? Sometimes. But having to walk in it all winter (like I do) is a little too much.
• What's your favorite season? Summer.

T
• time is it? 8:50 am
• What time did you wake up? 6am

U
• Can you ride a unicycle? no
• Do you know anyone with a unibrow? no
• Uncles do you have? yes

V
• What’s the worst vegetable? I haven't tasted them all...
• Did you ever watch Veggie Tales? No, what's that?
• Ever considered being vegan? Certainly not. Meat tastes good.

W
• What's your worst habit? I'm not sure I know. Maybe spending too much time on the internet.
• Do you like water rides? Yes, they're fun.
• Ever been inside a windmill? Yes, in the Netherlands.

X
• Have you ever had an x-ray? Yes.
• Ever used a Xerox machine? Sure.

Y
• Do you like the color yellow? Yes.
• What year were you born in?: 1971
• Do you yell when you're angry? I'm rarely that angry.

Z
• Do you believe in the zodiac? No.
• What's your zodiac sign? Scorpio
• When was the last time you went to the zoo? Years ago - I don't remember.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Hate Meme

From Sunday Stealing, here's The Hate Meme. I'm a bit worried about this, as hate is not a feeling I have very often. So maybe I'll have to stretch the word a little, and include things I just "dislike"...

1. Most hated food: Tofu

2. Most hated person: Osama bin Laden

3. Most hated job: doing telephone surveys

4. Most hated city: None

5. Most hated band: -

6. Most hated (non-blog) website: For instance AFA

7. Most hated TV program: -

8. Most hated politician: Siv Jensen?

9. Most hated artist: -

10. Most hated book: The telephone directory (kills trees...)

11. Most hated shop or store: Army clothing store

12. Most hated organization: Al-Qaida

13. Most hated historical event: Holocaust

14. Most hated sport: boxing

15. Most hated technology: ESS

16. Most hated annual event: Oslo Marathon

17. Most hated daily task: to get up in the morning

18. Most hated comedian: -

19. Most hated blog: I don't read blogs I hate...

20. Most hated song: -

Yes, as I expected, there was a mix of things I really hate, things I just dislike and things where I couldn't find examples. I'll try to answer more of the questions in next week's meme...

Student's part time porn job

Students' part time jobs lead to all kinds of problems, not the least being a lack of time for their studies.

John Gechter, a student of Grove City College, found himself in bigger trouble as the college didn't want him as a student when they found out which job he had: as an actor in gay porn, according to AVN. He might be readmitted if he quits his career.

This story raises several questions, for instance this one (noted in a comment to the story): "How was his employment discovered at a Christian college?"

In Norway, I actually think that even such a job would be considered not to be any business of the college.

Funny Quotes of the Week 27

"If work was so good, the rich would have kept more of it for themselves." (David Brent)

"I'm tired, send one of them home." (Mae West, when told there were 10 men waiting to meet her in her dressing-room)

"Another good thing about being poor is that when you are seventy your children will not have declared you legally insane in order to gain control of your estate." (Woody Allen)

W. H. Auden

I'm reading "The Right Attitude to Rain" by Alexander McCall Smith. It's one of the books in the "The Sunday Philosophy Club" series. Like "everybody" else, I started by reading McCall Smith's "Number One Ladies' Detective Agency" series, but enjoy "The Sunday Philosophy Club" and the "44 Scotland Street" series as well. (And I know that there is also the "Portugise Irregular Verbs" series...)

"The Sunday Philosophy Club" series takes place in Edinburgh, not in Botswana, and I've found myself falling in love with the city - increasing the probability that I will visit it. McCall Smith's characters are also fond of British poets, in particular W. H. Auden, and as it's quicker to visit Auden than Edinburgh, I have read a few of his poems. Beautiful. I guess both Auden and Edinburgh will get visitors because of these books...

O but he was as fair as a garden in flower,
As slender and tall as the great Eiffel Tower,
When the waltz throbbed out on the long promenade
O his eyes and his smile they went straight to my heart;
'O marry me, Johnny, I'll love and obey':
But he frowned like thunder and he went away.

(From Johnny.)

(More poems by Auden.)

Friday, June 05, 2009

What's good for debate?

One of the most interesting discussion in Norway this spring has been about what constitutes a worthy contribution to the political and moral debate of a society.

The debate started when the free speech advocacy organization "Fritt Ord" ("Free word"), which happens to be a very rich organization, awarded their award for 2009 to Nina Karin Monsen. She has been taking part in the political debate for decades, and lately she has been mostly involved in campaigning against the new marriage law, in which gays were included.

Many Norwegians, including me, had trouble understanding why she deserved such a prize, mainly because she often uses insults instead of valid reasoning. In my Norwegian blog, I've given many examples of that (in Norwegian), but here, I'll just give one from her last book:

"During the work on this book, I read the Parliament's debates on the new marriage law. [...] Here, politicians far from reality, sentimental, bragging, naive, deceitful and ignorant, were talking. None from the majority seemed to be thinking independently. I had to conclude that the majority - the legislature - was temporarily mentally deranged." (my translation - feel free to suggest improvements)

(In Norwegian: "Under arbeidet med denne boken leste jeg Stortingets debatter om den nye ekteskapsloven […] Her snakket virkelighetsfjerne, sentimentale, selvskrytende, ureflekterte, løgnaktige og uvitende politikere. Ingen fra flertallet virket selvstendig tenkende. […] Jeg måtte konkludere med at flertallet – lovgiver – var situasjonsbetinget sinnsforvirret.")

If you think this is an obscure quote in a large book, I should mention that this passage was apparently important enough to be quoted on the back of the book.

Of course, noone argues that Nina Karin Monsen should not have the same right to free speech as everybody else. But many people protested against the prize, feeling that verbal abuse should not be given a prize. The whole debate ended up in a big demonstration in Oslo.

On the other hand, there were others that thought that it is so important to have dissenting voices in the debate, that the form of her rhetoric should not be given as much weight. Personally, I think that Fritt Ord should have tried to find someone who adds dissenting voices to the debate, but with reason, not with insults.

(It should perhaps be noted that I have myself been accused of bluffing, of having little fact-based knowledge, of being a coward and of being unable to think abstractly. Of course, having Monsen heaping insults upon me borders on being an honour.)

Alexander Rybak: - I'm glad that gays like me

Alexander Rybak is interviewed on Gaysir.



"I'm very glad that gays like me, otherwise it would be tough", he says; "Most people who are interested in Eurovision before it all takes off, are gays. So I'm very glad that I have been able to find that nerve that makes gay like me."

Read the rest of the interview on Gaysir (in Norwegian) (or autotranslated).

The law has no place in scientific disputes

Please consider signing the petition in support of Simon Singh. The British Chiropractic Association seems to try to silence their critics instead of defending he BCAs practices, and they should not get away with it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Literal videos

The "Literal Video" concept is cool - if you haven't seen it on YouTube yet, you should have a look:



Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Incredible goal

VG writes about an incredible goal in Norwegian soccer. The keeper thought that the referee had called for an offside, while he had instead just let the game go on, as Skeid was in total control. Thus, when the attacker ran towards him to take the ball, the keeper didn't understand that he should stop him...

See the video.

Monday, June 01, 2009

I "come forward"

The Wikipedia Signpost links to this blog in the article "Creator of Wikipedia's first logo comes forward".

And therefore, it's only right that I link back...

Top 20 countries I've been to

Being a statistics buff, I keep track of lots of things, for instance where I've been. Here is the current list of the countries I've spent most time in (except Norway, which I've spent more than 36 years in...)

1. Netherlands 38 days
2. France 33
3. ROC Taiwan 32
4. USA 26
5. New Zealand 24
6. Greece 23
7. Denmark 21
8. Mexico 18
9. Sweden 15
10. Spain 14
10. Italy 14
10. UK 14
13. Czech Republic 12
14. Canada 10
14. Austria 10
14. China 10
17. Germany 8
18. Japan 7
19. Portugal 7
20. Croatia 7

Later this summer, I'll go to the US again for a week, and then I'll go to Taiwan, after which Taiwan will forever have the top spot, I suppose.

Which are the countries you have spent most time?