Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Talkin' Global Warming Blues

Photo by Father

Everybody talks about the missing snow at least four times a day, so I shall say this only once: this isn't what an Orkdal panorama is supposed to look like on December 26, damn it!

Not your average Santa Claus

Father is still able to fool a friend's kids when playing Santa. But he senses that each year they're getting increasingly suspicious that he's an imposter. Judging by the fur hat and the Dynamo Kiev scarf undeneath the seal-skin vest, Santa's from a country further east than Finland, as is usually claimed.

Mother got new shoes/clogs/whatever for Christmas (see feet). Some say this brand is ugly, but many love them for their comfort. Being the tactful person I am, I refrained from commenting the design.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stasi and Solstad

I almost never go to the movies. Watching The Lives of Others reminded me how much I appreciate the few that are worth seeing.

It's not loud, the special effects aren't the point of the movie and it involves both a tragic death and a semi-happy ending. Das Leben der Anderen is obviously not a Hollywood movie. The setting is East Berlin, 1984, and the protagonists are a free-thinking playwright and an eventually conscience-torn officer in the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or Stasi.

The movie looks not more than good until the last part, but the ending is brilliant. The sobre and straightforward storytelling contributes just as much to the viewer's experience as the plot itself. (Since I'm seduced by this, it probably also means I watch European movies too rarely.)

My personal highlight is when bad guy Anton Grubitz, an officer hunting proof that the protagonist playwright is an enemy of the state, explains how a specific personality type of artists is most easily neutralised: Put him in isolation for ten months without human contact, and he'll never perform paintings, novels or plays again. For humans, forced solitude is torture as good as anything.

Coincidentally, I started reading Dag Solstad's Shyness and Dignity just before watching Das Leben der Anderen. In Eastern Germany and the other Communist satellites, the governments were after the liberal intellectuals. In Norway, the Communists (intellectual or not) were under surveillance. Whether left-leaning Solstad was one of the surveillees, I don't know. At least he's not been scared of publishing, and we're pretty happy about that.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Borat: anything goes

Sascha Baron Cohen makes fun of Kazakhstan, Jews, Americans, people with disabilities and a lot more. But as long as the Kazakhstani TV reporter Borat Sagdiyev is only mirroring our own prejudices and bigotry, it's ok.

The beauty of today's approach to humour is that you can defend anything by saying "I'm only making fun of those who are prejudiced". In this way, you can cater to both intolerants and those who dislike intolerants. If you like to laugh at stupid Americans or male chauvinist jokes, you laugh with Borat. If you dislike people who like chauvinist jokes, you laugh at Borat.

There's little need for ethics, since the mode and content of the performance (be it irony, satire or downright harassment) can be defended by a quick analysis of the motivation behind the humour. In Norway, this humour is occasionally performed by comedians Harald Eia and Otto Jespersen, to mention but a few.

I enjoyed the movie.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The title function of my blog provider has decided to disappear, so you'll have to read the post to see what it's about.

The Paris Board Meeting was one of the more dubious events I've been to. Not very much went according to schedule, but during the 53-hour-long meeting we managed to discuss at least a few policy documents.

Kim is international officer (my position in Studentenes Landsforbund) of the other Norwegian student union. He's from Bergen and leans politically to the left. Otherwise he's a charming guy.

This is what the meeting room looked like at 10 AM on Saturday. We were supposed to start at 9.30, but quite a few people in ESIB (Studentenes Landsforbund's European umbrella organisation) feel that ESIB time isn't like any other time. Sebastian from Germany didn't know what to say.

The metro became one of our friends during the week in Paris. Helene (left) and Ingrid say goodbye and head for the Louvre museum (Mona Lisa etcetera) while myself and other culture ignorants opt for food instead.

The French food didn't always live up to its reputation, but some of the restaurants were decent. Here, Alma from Iceland looks quite ready for some Chinese cuisine.

The characters above are Jens (left), leader of one of the two national student unions in Norway, and Pelle, vice president of the Swedish union.