Sunday, April 03, 2011

This blog is hibernating

It might be back, it might not.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


On Saturday, I will join tens of thousands of activists from Denmark, Europe and the world, who will mostly discuss, shout and march in the streets of Copenhagen. At the same time, our leaders might decide how seriously we should try to save the humans of the planet from unpleasant global climate change.

Carbon tax, cap-and-trade, carbon storage, green economy, windmills, bike subsidies or whatever other solution the world leaders, economists and scientists come up with: it seems likely that the Western world needs to get its act together and cut consumption big time.

If we look at a leaked climate change agreement draft cited by the UK's Guardian online newspaper, it seems like the key interpretation might be the one of the phrase "common but differentiated responsibility". In Copenhagen, I will mostly say and shout that the so-called developed countries should bear the main responsibility for a fair but most importantly effective climate deal. But history will most likely be rough on developing countries as well, should the world's presidents, kings, dictators, prime ministers and autocrats fail to reach a decent agreement.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Carnival, the Rhineland way

After organising a five-day conference on student empowerment in Prague, going to a German carnival felt like the right thing to do. My visa card was eaten by a Prague airport cash machine, so I had to rely on good Samaritans in order to get via Cologne to Jens's apartment in Mainz. Thanks to Hanne in Prague, a Dutch-German couple at the baggage belt in Cologne and an Italian at the airport train station, I was able to raise enough money to get there.

The Mainz name of this tradition is Fastnacht. Since there is a rivalry between Mainz and Cologne about who are best at celebrating, it's probably best to check out the Carnival in Cologne also.

The Rhine-meandering train ride between Mainz and Cologne is also in itself an ok reason to go to the latter.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

End of a meeting day

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At 11.30 PM the executive committee of the European Students' Union decided that the meeting was over. Alma (second from left) and Bruno went on to teach Anita (left) and Ligia how to make Danish Christmas decorations and gave a brief history lesson on Portuguese-language popular music respectively.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not quite Verdun

More or less exactly 90 years ago, the armistice that concluded World War I was agreed upon by the major powers. The total number of dead, around 20 million, was exceeded by the next big war, but WW I is still called "The Great War" by the British.

Some of us might want to use this anniversary to go and see the sites of the greatest battles, and to be visually reminded of this testament to human folly. Instead, we are sitting in offices, doing preparation for meetings, being at meetings, reading documents or writing emails about the big and small conflicts in European higher education. The big question of the day is not whether Germany should mobilise its war machine against France and vice versa.

We should not be satisfied with a Europe where families and individuals struggle for a roof over their heads and food for their kids, or where individuals are harassed for being different from the majority of people in their societies. But sometimes it is ok to feel lucky for not being at war.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Checkpoint conversation

German guard: Do you live in Europe?
Georgian girl: Yes....
Guard: Do you live in Georgia?
Girl: Yes...
Guard: Is Georgia in Europe?
Girl: We want to be part of Europe.
Guard: Get out.

Heard at the Munich airport passport control point for EU citizens.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Under construction

YEREVAN: Armenia doesn't only have a student movement that is figuring out how to organise itself. It has a biblical mountain which gives name to chicken dishes as well as local cognac; enough churches to satisfy the most devout Armenian Orthodox Christian; and, from a pedestrian's view, uncompromising drivers. “They are considering it a favour to you to if they stop to let you pass, even if you go across the zebra crossing while your light is green”, one of my hosts said.

Yerevan varies between charmingly Armenian (words are hard to find) and unsympathethically Soviet in its design. It is a certainly a good place to spend a long weekend, even if the plot doesn't go exactly as planned. But apart from trouble finding a hotel and entry and exit taxes of 40 and 30 Euro respectively, Armenia was easy to like.

On Thursday last week, Jens and I met Meline and Sven of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We talked a bit and prepared for the meeting with Armenian students. Jens is the European Students' Union expert on this country and was presenting a report on the Armenian student movement. I'd read the report and was hoping to contribute with something as well.

- Why are both of the ESU representatives male?

ESU has just commented (and implyingly critisised) that by far the most of the student council leaders are male, so this is obviously a fair question from one of the approximately 30 students that are present. Particularly when it is posed to an organisation that prides itself on progressive equality policies.

Jens explains that ESU has gender quotas and I add that the organisation's two top positions are inhabited by women. Then we move on to discuss Germany, Norway, Europe and a lot of other situations, and conclude that Armenian students are pretty cool, at least the ones Jens and I met.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Season 2008-09: Brussels

Brussels is a city of bureaucrats, lobbyists, and it also has a bunch of normal human beings. As of Monday last week, I am one of these creatures who work on promoting some kind of European agenda in the political capital of this continent. In my case, it is the student agenda that is the reason for being here.

Right now I live in what some called the immigrant neighbourhood of the city. This means I'm two metro stops and fifteen minutes walk from, for example, the royal palace, which looked ok. Although they have internet in this city, it's not very likely that I'll update this blog more often than I have during the last year.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

National day

Novelist Edvard Hoem pays tribute to language pioneer Ivar Aasen and preaches a stricter language norm. Then we sang The Norwegian, Norway's real national anthem.

At Tina Marii's, champagne and omelette was served. There was also the occasional laugh.

Light rain, national costumes and a subtle advertisement.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bloody tweets

If you find the opinions and updates of present blog too superficial, I recommend you don't take a look at this.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The day the winter died

Skiing in drizzling rain and on slippery ice the last kilometres of the washed-out tracks that wound up at Sognsvann tube station, I declared the winter of 2008 to be officially dead.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good news for everyone

The semicolon may be the most difficult punctuation mark in the Norwegian language. In English prose, it's "a pretentious anachronism", according to an opinion cited in the New York Times. But NY subway driver Neil Neches knows his ABC. The Times treats its grammar-conscious readers to a news gem under the utterly geeky headline "Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location".

A proper click winner, as the journos in Norway would say.