Monday, February 27, 2006

A quick skiing trip

Hmmmm... I definitely need a hair cut.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The newly borns

Subject A was born on the floor under the sofa. That would be before I was "summoned" to assist with the birth.

The only difference I have been able to tell between subject B and C is the width of the white stripe on the forehead. Subject B has a narrower stripe than subject C.

Subject C

Subject D is the skinnest of the lot, and differs by having various dark orange spots and as you barely can see, a tiny spot of white.

But seeing the difference between A and E - they are both pitch black...

Subject F, however, is quite unique, and seems to be the healthiest of the lot.

Born on the Estonian National day

I was just going to post a photo of the Estonian flag today, but lacked an actual flag to take a photo of. Besides, I suddenly got a lot of other things to think about. Five of them, to be exact.

It started at approximately 5:30 in the morning, when I heard a high pitched mieuw from the living room, and a more adult and concerned mieuw from outside my bedroom door, accompanied by some scratching. Natasja had given birth to her first child - under the sofa.

I hurridly moved Boris out of the box he had annexed for the night, and put Natasha with child in it. We don't want the kids to be crawling around on the floor just yet. Placing the box just beneath the sofa, I could lie down and keep Natasja company while she gave birth to her next four children, making sure everything went well, and that she felt comfortable. Meanwhile, Boris was sitting in the window watching the sun rise.

As things calmed down, Boris joined me on the sofa, looking into the wonder that had been going on in the box. "That's your children, Boris," I told him.

"Mrrrrrieuw," he responded, jumped down on the floor and demanded that I put the breakfast out immediately. It's hard work watching the sun rise.

Update at 18:20
When I came home, I saw a kitten that was not there when I left for work. White with black spots - I would have seen it had it been there. I counted them again. Six. Yupp! Someone was born after I left for work...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Burn your own Norwegian flag!

Watching the news the last week, it is difficult not to notice the burning of Norwegian flags. These pictures really do provoke me; how dare they burn such badly drawn home made Norwegian flags, they don't even look Norwegian. If you're going to burn a Norwegian flag, make sure they look like the real thing! For this purpose, I have taken upon myself to create this online course in how to make your own Norwegian flag for burning in demonstrations outside the Norwegian embassy.


Let me start with the concept of materials, also known as "medium" in art circles. This is the actual physical items you use to create your work of fart art, which in this case is the Norwegian fa..flag. Now, I have seen that a lot of you use bed sheets or similar pieces of fanatics fabric. While these are probably easy to bring along in your backpack, they have several drawbacks. For example, it takes two people to hold it up for the cameras, or nobody will be able to see which flag it is. The only time you get away with only one person is when the wind is blowing, but let's face it, putting the thing on fire when it's blowing is a pain in the butt. Also, the process of creating a flag on fabric can be a pain, as you will spend hours trying to put it down nice and flat without wrinkles, and then it starts curling up as soon as you touch it with your pen. And when you're finally done, it takes only two seconds for the flag to burn. If you blink, you'll miss it! It's more of an insult to the work you put into it than to the Norwegians.

Hence, I suggest using stiffer, yet easy to burn materials, such as cardboard. There are many types of cardboard available at your local grocery store, in all kinds of colours. Since you wish to paint an actual flag, you're adviced to use fine bleached cardboard. The white colour is an excellent background and, unless there's writing on it, completely eliminates the necessity of painting it over with white paint before beginning. This could take half an hour away from your flag production time. If you still end up with coloured cardboard, including the grey cheap cardboard, you have to paint the entire thing white, or the cardboard colour is going to affect the colours you're going to put on it.

Also notice that the Norwegian flag has a 4:3 format, which means that the height is 25% shorter than the width of the flag, which is the same format as a traditional PAL or NTSC TV. You know, the TV you had before your brand new 16:9 Widescreen plasma screen. Cut your piece of cardboard to the correct format. If you can't cut it, remember that it's generally more acceptable that the flag is too wide than too tall.


There are several ways of adding colour to the flag. But seriously, crayons look like a child did it. Nobody is going to believe it is a Norwegian flag, unless it's a kindergarden project. In a demonstration, they are just going to question your intelligence.

Water colours tend to be too transparent, and most oil based paint just take forever to dry. Do you want to burn the flag today or in half a year? Your choice. Personally, I prefer acrylic paint. It has a thickness comparable to oil, yet dry at a speed comparable to water. And I personally feel that it's a lot more managable than your other options.

Masking tape and brushes

You should get some masking tape. It's a lot easier to make the straigh lines when you apply masking tape on your canvas (that's artsy fartsy lingo for "cardboard"), and it comes easily off without destroying the cardboard. You also get away with a larger brush, which makes colouring those large surfaces a breeze.

Field measurements

The height of the flag is 16 units. By unit, I mean one 16th of the heigh of the flag. To get a measurement of a unit in cm or inches, just take the height of your flag and divide by 16. This is from a rule I learned as a child, which is probably why I get so upset when the burning flags are drawn the wrong way. The width of each colour area are 6+1+2+1+6 = 16. On the width, you use the same unit sizes, but then it's 6+1+2+1+12. The 12 is a minimum of the width of the last (top right/bottom right red) colour area. It is supposed to be 12, longer is acceptable, shorter is just stupid.

The blue centre cross

I like to begin with the blue cross in the centre. So start by measuring up 7 (that's past the two first colour fields) units to the right from the top left corner, and similarly to the right from the bottom left corner. Place the masking tape, so that it's right hand side marks this 7 unit line. You also need another strip, where the left side of the masking tape marks the 9 unit line. You now have the vertical line between the 7 and 9 unit lines open, and the sides protected by the masking tape. Paint this area with navy blue. It's a very dark blue. If you make it too dark, it will look black. If you make it too light, like cobolt blue, it will look Swedish.

Take off the masking tape, and feel proud of yourself with the nice straight edges of the vertical blue stripe. When the paint has dried, you can repeat the process for the horizontal blue stripe, which would have the same measurements, except taken from top left and top right corners going down.

Congratulations! You now have a Finnish flag. If you're headed for the Finnish embassy, this is where you stop in the process. And why not? Making a flag is a lot of work, and who cares if it's the Norwegian or Finnish embassy? It's one of those darn Scandinavian countries with reindeer anyway, right?

The red areas

So the stripes in the blue cross are two units wide. The white strips are one unit wide. It's time to fill in the red areas. Since none of the areas actually intersect, you can set up the masking tape for all four corners at the same time. Use this setup to fill the red areas; top right, bottom right and bottom left.

The herring salad

The top left corner is probably the hardest bit. It requires a lot of masking tape being put on and taken off. The internal measurements of the width of the red white and blue stripes are 6+1+2+1+6 like the rest of the flag, and the width of the blue and yellow areas are 6+4+6. It is very important that you include the herring salad in the top left corner, instead of just painting it red. I know it's a pain to put in there, but it's worth the extra effort. The effect on the Norwegian psyche when you include it is precious.

Finishing off

Congratulations. Now, repeat the process on the other side of the cardboard, so that you can see the flag on both sides. Go out, find a journalist, and put your hours worth of work on fire. And don't forget, never let the flag touch the ground, or you will have to burn it! And why would you burn it? Seeing a flag burning on TV is no big deal, but using a flag that indicates Swedish rule over Norway on May 17th is probably the second worst insult you can make to Norwegians. Party on!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sámi National Day

February 6th is the Sámi National*) Day.

*) Some claim that it is not a national day, because "Sápmi is not an actual nation, and it is therefore called 'The day of the Sámi people'." For those who were planning on adding a lot of comments about this need to check the dictionary definition of the word nation. Norway is a multi-national country.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The new radical fundamentalism: Freedom of Speech

In the latest controversy, some "westerners" criticize radical fundamental muslims*) for being fundamentalists, because being radical, they will walk over bodies to obtain their "sacred" goals. And I must put "sacred" in quotes, because the Free Speech activists claim that nothing is sacred, and do not understand what the big deal is. But these people do have one thing sacred; free speech. Indeed, they see it as a fundamental right, and they can be down right radical in protecting it. This makes certain Free Speech® activists radical fundamentalists.

This right to Free Speech® is, if we believe the actions of Free Speech activists, not for just anyone to use. Only Free Speech® activists and those who agree with them seem to be allowed to use it. For example, George W Bush may threaten another nation in order to change that country's domestic policy, because that's freedom of speech. But Kim Jong II may not threaten the USA in order to change US foreign policy, because that's just down right bad terrorist behaviour.

Similarly, Danish cartoonists are allowed to draw caricatures of Prophet Muhammed (sacred to Muslims, if anyone didn't already know), because that's just freedom of speech. But offended Muslims are not allowed to burn the Danish flag (sacred to Danes and Free Speech® activists, if anyone didn't already know), because that's just down right bad terrorist behaviour.

Then we come to threats. "They have no right to threaten with violence," say Norwegian and Danish activists. "The drawings were published in countries where this is legal, they can't push their laws on us, so they have no right to threaten with violence." It is the inability to see these geographic and political barriers that is the trademark of the dangerous Radical Fundamentalist, right?

To a certain extent, the Free Speech activists are correct in this statement. They have no rights to threaten with violence in Denmark or Norway. That being said, Palestine, Saudi-Arabia, Syria and Iran are not Danish or Norwegian territory, and thus Norwegian and Danish law is completely irrelevant. Exactly what the laws in these countries say about threatening citizens of other countries with violence, I have no idea. I trust that their local authorities will deal with people who break the laws of their respective countries. But I certainly do have the impression that threats of violence are much more common in the Middle East in general, and so I assume that this is an allowed forms of speech there, and therefore do not take these threats to seriously.**)

A Norwegian can not complain about a Syrian breaking Norwegian law whilst in Syria. If, however, that Syrian comes to Norway and breaks Norwegian law on Norwegian territory, that's a completely different matter. Until that happens, Norwegian and Danish laws are completely irrelevant to the debate of what a Syrian, Palestinian, Iranian or Saudi may or may not do in their own countries. This is, after all, the Free Speech activist's argument for being allowed to draw Muhammed in Denmark.

From this, we can see that the Free Speech activists in these matters are not able to see the geographic and political boundries of their own cause. And this inability to see their boundries is why I would label them as radical fundamentalists, even dangerously so. While they don't wish to admit it, by purposely provoking a people that was already on its toes, Free Speech activists have supplied the spark that are causing an international bush fire in which people are dying. Their defence? "It's allowed."

In reality, the world will never rest as long as we have fundamentalists. You could say I'm a fundamental anti-fundamentalist, which is an oxymoron. But my anti-fundamentalism is not completely fundamental, as I am a big follower of the fundamental striving for the goodness in all.

*) By the term "Radical fundamentalist muslims" I refer to the small group of people who claim to be muslims, and fundamentally so. They are not really muslims, as they break just about every principle that Islam stands for. Similarly, by the term "Radical fundamentalist Free Speech activist" I refer to the small group of people who claim to be fighting for free speech, but in reality use this as a cover to achieve some not-so-sincere goals.

**) Acts of violence, however, I do take seriously. While I don't know the local laws well enough to make any comment of the legality of the ongoing violence in these areas, I reserve the right to keep distance and trust that local authorities will deal with anyone who breaks local laws.

Update 6.2.2006 A good friend of mine was wonderful enough to shed more light on the issue of whether the caricatures are really covered by Free Speech®: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have two previous presedence-making rulings showing that Freedom of Expression does not cover defamation of religion.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Violence to shoes

In the last few weeks, Norwegian women have expressed outrage *) over how images of violence against - and oppression of - shoes are put on display in a handful of shops in Oslo. The National Shoe Liberty Frontieer (NSLF) wish to prohibit the depiction of oppressed shoes. But seriously, what is more important? A pair of shoes, or freedom of speech?

As freedom of speech certainly must be more important, the King of Gardistan advocates a campaign to post depictions of oppressed and murdered shoes on as many websites on the Internet as possible. Says the King, "with such a campaign, The National Shoe Liberty Frontieer will learn that they can not trample on our right to oppress our shoes. And freedom of speech. Yes, that's what's it about. Freedom of speech."

*) In other news, a group of people are expressing outrage about a drawing of Muhammed **) and burn flags as part of their right to express their misdirected ***) outrage. Interestingly, those who claim to defend free speech are expressing an outrage against the burning of flags, and react by making more drawing of Muhammed, while at the same time refuse to burn Danish flags outside the Danish consulate.

**) Since there are no actual authentic depictions of Muhammed in existance, there is no guarantee that the person on said drawing is Muhammed. Indeed, judging from the size of the bomb on his head, there's a greater chance that it's actually a depiction of Dubbya****) Bush. The shoe depicted in this blog post, however, is very real.

***) It turns out that the drawings they are offended by are NOT the ones published in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, but somethings that their own Imams made in order to turn them against the Danes. The original drawing was apparently not bad enough. It is interesting to watch as the debates go on as if the lie was the truth. Then again, keeping the lie sells a lot more papers...

****) After reading this article, Dubbya called me up to license the rights for my "free speech" argument. Says Dubbya, "the people we keep in Guantanamo are not prisoners of war, they are living pieces of one of my greatest works of art, depicting my grand vision of a free world! Guilty or not, if any of them were allowed to leave, it would just be undemocratic. Why do you hate our freedom?"