Mission accomplished

Not much time for blogging today I’m afraid – there’s the Christmas thingy at Dane’s school today where I am manning a stand, where the kids can make origami Christmas decorations. My origami is in fact a bit rusty, since I haven’t had time to indulge in folding lately. But I’m sure it’ll all go just fine.

In my latest post (just below this one, if in doubt) I told you that I was aiming at spending two uninterrupted hours on my course work on the following day. This just to tell you that in fact I did that. And it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought. I’m sure it helped that I had publicly stated that I’d do so. One has one’s pride!!!!! Besides, it gave me a great sense of having actually done something. Accomplished something. So it was well worth it and I’ll do it again. Tomorrow :-D

If you have your own website and/or blog, you should check this post by Kevin Kelly. Interesting.

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More on the downsides of multitasking

A while back I cited an article called Is Google Making Us Stupid here and also posted it on Facebook. It elicited quite a few reactions – as it had for me, the article touched a nerve with some of my FB friends.

At the moment when I’m not just normally scatterbrained, but also preoccupied with things in the personal sphere, I find it even harder to focus on one thing at a time. What I should do with all the things I remember that I have to do while doing something else, is of course to write them down, so I can do them later. But all too often I just rush away and do them NOW. Or I do them only half way, because in the middle of doing it i remember something else, which seems even more important. And so goes the day. Things most certainly get done, no doubt about it. But they probably would get done anyway, as long as I write it down! What I don’t get done is study. I need to read this book, some chapters in other books and some articles. The book is not on the world’s most interesting subject, but it’s actually quite well written and I don’t have to read every chapter through and through. So why is it I don’t get around to it?

Today I stumbled over yet another article on the subject. This one’s called Taming the Web 2.0 Mind. The blog on which it’s posted is a mental self-help blog. This may well make the little brittle hairs stand up on the back of your neck, but I’ve decided to admit to reading it and also to reading self help books. For Crying-out-Loud, we can’t – and probably shouldn’t – figure everything out for ourselves? And what’s wrong in wanting to improve your relationship with your children, renew your marriage, take a critical look at your career (in my case it’s “career”) etc. I read an article in the Sunday Times by Alain de Botton about why we shouldn’t scoff at self help books. He has all the right quotes to back his claim so I rest my case (and was reminded that one of his books is on my Amazon wishlist)…

So this is what I’m setting out to do tomorrow: I’ll set one hour aside to reading the book. Though I usually always take notes directly on my laptop (in super-cool little app called Tomboy by the way), I’ll leave the computer closed and leave markers on pages with pencilled notes for later digitization. And I’ll set another hour aside to do real focused research for my paper, where I’ll do as (26-year old) Peter Clemens suggests and say NO to all ideas of veering away from the research path. At least for that ONE hour.

Will let you know to what degree I succeed!

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Life goes on and food is a recurring theme…

For a long time I’ve been promising myself to go on the look-out for some British blogs to follow. Now that I’m here and all. For reasons I can’t fathom I’ve just never serendipitously come across one I liked – except the Alphamummy one on The Times. So today I went searching on Google blog search and put “uk” at the end of a list of subjects I like to read about. And dear me – there’s not enough time in the world. I’ll just have to jump around for a while and figure out which ones hold water in the long run.

Very quickly I stumbled over one which had a food meme. As my readers will know – I’m quite keen om memes (agree with one of the bloggers – memes are just right for us professional procrastinators) and even more keen on the subject of FOOD. So below find a revealing list of foodstuffs, which I’ve tasted and not tasted, liked and not liked. A remarkable number of the 100 items I had to look up. I do have the excuse of not having grown up in this country (or in the US), but I’m still surprised and somewhat embarrassed about the number of foodstuffs out there that I still haven’t tasted or even knew about.

Anyway, here goes:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

1. Venison – yes, certainly.
2. Nettle tea – in eternal search for the perfect tea. Nettle wasn’t it.
3. Huevos rancheros – yes, several times in Texas. I couldn’t remember the name though. And I don’t like refried beans.
4. Steak tartare – oh yes, staple luxury lunch item in Denmark in my childhood and youth. Has gone completely out of fashion, probably because of the salmonella problems, we’ve had in Denmark. Nobody ever touches a raw egg any more.
5. Crocodile – I expected to come across it on a menu in Australia, but don’t recall doing so.
6. Black pudding – Another staple dish from my childhood. I hated it as a child and haven’t touched it since.
7. Cheese fondue – Why?
8. Carp – Don’t like freshwater fish.
9. Borscht – yes. A bit heavy for my taste.
10. Baba ghanoush – yummy. (It’s a warm and spicy eggplant dish)
11. Calamari – yes. The small ones. And not pickled.
12. Pho – yes, in lovely Vietnamese restaurant somewhere in Greater Sydney. Nice.
13. PB&J sandwich – no never. But my mother always made me PB&H sandwiches. H for Honey. Lovely. Haven’t got my kids to eat it though – they don’t like peanut butter!!???
14. Aloo gobi – YEP – I even make it myself occasionally. (Indian spicy potatoes)
15. Hot dog from a street cart – in New York because you just have to. And in Copenhagen when very late, very drunk, very hungry, very young…
16. Epoisses – yes. It only really goes at those very special occasions where the wine, the company, the bisquits etc. all come together…
17. Black truffle – yes. And I was not impressed.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes – I think most Danes have in their youth. Cherry wine was really big (and cheap). Most Danes have also said: “Never again!”
19. Steamed pork buns – only once. Didn’t do anything for me.
20. Pistachio ice cream – Don’t like it.
21. Heirloom tomatoes – as other bloggers, I didn’t know what that meant. But I think I must have tasted them, since my husband and I had a tomato craze a couple of years back. We went to tomato tastings, had 10 different sorts in our greenhouse and drove for miles to buy special tomatoes… It’s over now, the craze ;-)
22. Fresh wild berries – well, yes. I pity those who haven’t. We had raspberry bushes and blueberry bushes in our garden and I went out and picked every morning in the season for our breakfast. And one of the loveliest memories I have of my late mother is us picking blueberries together in Dalarna in the middle of Sweden on a crisp morning in early autumn. It was a real blueberry year, so I had berries in the freezer a long time after. Blueberry muffins, ahh.
23. Foie gras – yes. And shamelessly I absolutely love it.
24. Rice and beans – oh yeah, we’ve been to Costa Rica. They eat very little else there.
25. Brawn or Head Cheese – no, and I hope I never will!
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper – yes. Went to a chili tasting once. A gentleman at our table freaked out completely. I believe he’d thought all chillies were like the tame ones you get in most supermarkets.
27. Dulce de leche – yes. Brings back lovely memories of Mediterranean holidays.
28. Oysters – yes. And I really like them. Particularly grilled and spiced up like in New Orleans.
29. Baklava – yes. Veeeery sweet…
30. Bagna cauda – had to look that one up. Will try and go for one of those next time we’re in Italy! Looks really nice, even if I’m not much of a fondue person.
31. Wasabi peas – oh yes. Love them. The family hates them.
32. Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bowl – No. But would like to.
33. Salted Lassi – don’t like lassi. Salted or not.
34. Sauerkraut – horrible. Honestly.
35. Root beer float – what’s that again?
36. Cognac – yep. Lots.
37. Clotted Cream Tea – Oh, yes. The original kind down in Cornwall. Yummy.
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O – oh no. And it will never happen.
39. Gumbo – yes. Home made in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
40. Oxtail – yes yes yes. It’s a lovely wintry dish, which I used to make once a year. But I’ve run out of people who’ll eat it. Why can’t you eat the tail, when you can eat practically everything else?
41. Curried goat – yes. Goat is so totally underestimated.
42. Whole insects – probably. Happens frequently when you bicycle.
43. Phaal – never tried anything hotter than the Vindaloo. But I’m game! (had to look it up)

44. Goat’s milk – yes. Prefer it as cheese.

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more – yes – my husband used to have a thing about malt whisky. It has now developed into a thing about red wine.

46. Fugu (aka pufferfish) – no. Good arguments for why I should?
47. Chicken tikka masala – who hasn’t except vegans?
48. Eel – yes. Another staple dish from my youth in Denmark. Smoked or fried is good but enormously rich. Used to be able to stomach it, but no more. Eel in jelly is disgusting.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed donut – no. I thoroughly dislike both the name and the logo of Krispy Kreme, so would never venture in there or buy a product with their ugly logo on it. And besides I’m not much for donuts.
50. Sea urchin – yes. Not horrible. But not a delicacy to my palate.
51. Prickly pear – yes.
52. Umeboshi – apparently a salty Japanese fruit. No, haven’t tasted that.
53. Abalone – not knowingly :-/   but wouldn’t mind trying. I like most seafood.
54. Paneer – don’t think I have (it’s a kind of cheese)
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal – yes, I admit it. My oldest son used to love McD, but no more. And the young one dislikes it with a vengeance.
56. Spaetzle – Yes. Don’t particularly like them.
57. Dirty gin martini – Uhm. Is there any other way?
58. Beer above 8% ABV – yukkk! My first husband drank these. Besides becoming unpleasantly dizzy after drinking just one, I dislike the pungent sweetness they often have.
59. Poutine – if you, like me, don’t know what it is, click on the link and be disgusted!
60. Carob chips – yes, they were quite fashionable at some point in time in my youth.
61. S’mores – Oh, Americans…
62. Sweetbreads – yes. Not my favourite thing. Probably an acquired taste.
63. kaolin – anti-diahrrea mixture…
64. Currywurst – not as bad as it sounds…
65. Durian – I would probably have remembered if I had…
66. Frogs’ legs – yes. Prefer chicken any time.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake – yes. Prefer the smaller crunchy ones to the large fatty ones.
68. Haggis – Unless a trusted person recommends it, I’ll probably try to stay away from this dish.
69. Fried plantain – On every menu in Costa Rica. Not bad, but dryish…
70. Chitterlings – nah, thanks, but no thanks.
71. Gazpacho – Make it myself every summer. And Waitrose has a nice one.
72. Caviar and blini – Is proud owner of blinis pan. Love blinis. Find caviar overrated. Prefer lumpfish roe.
73. Louche absinthe – There used to be a naughty, naughty bar in Copenhagen, which served this. So yes.

74. Gjetost or brunost – yes. But not again.

75. Roadkill – not that I know of.
76. Baijiu – no.
77. Hostess fruit pie – looks and sounds horrible!


78. Snails – yes.
79. Lapsang Souchong – have it in my cupboard.
80. Bellini – yes.
81. Tom Yum – yes.
82. Eggs Benedict – yes, but don’t like.
83. Pocky – Japanese chocolate coated biscuit. No. Never been to Japan.
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu – only 1 star  :-(

85. Kobe beef – never had the luck
86. Hare – yes. It’s quite good.
87. Goulash – yes. Can be fantastic, but usually isn’t.
88. Flowers – yes. Stuffed or deepfried squash flowers are lovely. And there are others.
89. Horse – yes. Not bad, but makes me cringe a little, even when I know I shouldn’t.
90. Criollo chocolate – probably not. But will look out for it – maybe on a visit in Harrods’ food dept?
91. Spam – no no no. Never have, never will. (actually, if you’ve ever bought a cheep pizza with “ham”, you probably have tasted spam.)
92. Soft shell crab – yes. In a seafood restaurant in Galveston, Texas. So many we just couldn’t eat them all!
93. Rose Harissa – harissa yes, but not the rose version. Sounds lovely!
94. Catfish – yes. don’t like.
95. Mole Poblano – Also in Texas. Yummy!
96. Bagel and Lox – In New York they are practically unavoidable. And why should one avoid them?
97. Lobster Thermidor – Very nice. Actually, could I have one right now?
98. Polenta – obviously.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee – no, I’m probably too cheap.
100. Snake – no.

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Scatterbrain

I’ve always been a Scatterbrain. My memory is lousy, I have to write everything down and often I forget even that. My mind is always jumping ahead of the current situation – that’s super sometimes, but often it’s more than a little distracting. Today, when I was supposed to do two other things, I stumbled over an article…

I swear, I read the whole thing and my mind almost didn’t jump. I remember where it jumped to along the way, because due to the theme of the article, I made it my business to take note of my mind-jumps.

I was visiting this blog, which is a bi-product of some homework I’ve done for my course at uni. The blogger linked to the article in an ambiguous way, which made me click it. And once I’d seen the headline, I just had to read it. The fact that it’s in one of my all time favourite magazines, The Atlantic, of course made it even more palatable. The writer is Nicolas Carr. He has a blog, which after a cursory glance looks interesting, but demanding. The article is called Is Google Making us Stupid?

Here’s a few excerpts:

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

But every new technology has had an effect on our brain, as noted by Socrates:

In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates bemoaned the development of writing. He feared that, as people came to rely on the written word as a substitute for the knowledge they used to carry inside their heads, they would, in the words of one of the dialogue’s characters, “cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful.” And because they would be able to “receive a quantity of information without proper instruction,” they would “be thought very knowledgeable when they are for the most part quite ignorant.” They would be “filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom.” Socrates wasn’t wrong—the new technology did often have the effects he feared—but he was shortsighted. He couldn’t foresee the many ways that writing and reading would serve to spread information, spur fresh ideas, and expand human knowledge (if not wisdom).

In the end paragraph he returns to Kubrick’s 2001, which he quoted in the opening paragraph:

Their thoughts and actions feel scripted, as if they’re following the steps of an algorithm. In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.

I don’t have such a gloomy view of my own thinking as Nicolas Carr. I acknowledge the disadvantages, but think that there must be some great advantages in being able to think “multilaterally” rather than “unilaterally”?

Back to where my mind jumped: At one point it jumped to a piece of Internet lore, which I’ve returned to many times: The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch, a university professor, who after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, gave a farewell lecture about grasping life’s opportunities, even in the face of death:

If any of you have not yet sat through it, you really must. He has a wonderful lecture for us all. It has been viewed 7 1/2 million times on Youtube! Why did my mind jump to that in the middle of this article? I don’t know!

Also, at the mention of Socrates, I though about something I’ve recently read by Aristotle (don’t worry, it was in connection with an essay for uni): “A speech (or document or whatever) consists of three things, the speaker, the subject which is treated in the speech, and the hearer to whom the speech is addressed” – logos, pathos & ethos. I thought of that because isn’t it so, that sometimes, you’re just very, very far from being “the intended audience” of a text – it’s either above you, beneath you or entirely irrelevant to you! When I read stuff like that I get distracted very easily… I’m afraid it happens rather frequently with academic papers for my courses. Sometimes I even think they don’t want me to read it. And certainly not to enjoy reading it.

And twice I suddenly remembered what it was, I’d set out to do, when I settled at the computer. Wrote it down – must do it when I’ve finished this post ;-)

And in the middle of the article I jumped to read about the writer. I knew I’d looked him up before, but had forgotten. I don’t think that’s something Google has done to my brain. I’m afraid I was like that years before the Internet entered my life (and that was in 1995, if anybody wants to know…).

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WordPress agony

So first I spent many, many days trying to update my “old” WP blog, which runs on a very old version of WordPress, not allowing me to do several things I’d like to do. In the end I had to give up. Nobody seemed to be able to explain to me what the error message I keep getting means. Or maybe they thought they explained it, but I couldn’t understand it. And then what is it worth? I got as far as successfully backing up the blog and I can also see the Automatic-update plug-in on my plug-in page. And I can activate it. But when I try to do the actual update, I end up in a loop between 4-5 pages, which keep telling me to do the same thing. And I get the above mentioned error message (posted in bottom of this post).

OK, so I give up and create this new WP blog. Rather irritable because it  means a longer and less obvious name. And irritable too because I’m not usually a quitter!

The REAL agony starts now though. Because when I logged on this morning, I was made aware that yet another upgrade is now available and recommended, so I decided to do the super-easy automatic update immediately. And guess what happened? Exactly the same!

I realise that there’s something I have to do with permissions or re-naming of files. But what is it exactly?

Oh, and while I’m at it. I made the mistake of calling my tags categories. But when I wanted to revert this – which WP allows by the click of a button – I got the message that a mistake had taken place and it couldn’t be done.

I understand that others have the same or similar problems. Please help, dear WordPress-creators, who we hold in such high esteem!

Warning: ftp_site(): /: Operation not permitted in /hsphere/local/home/nelanela/labeet.dk/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade 2/wpau_prelimcheck.class.php on line 185 Warning: ftp_chdir(): ///wp-admin: No such file or directory in /hsphere/local/home/nelanela/labeet.dk/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade 2/wpau_prelimcheck.class.php on line 222 Warning: ftp_chdir(): ///wp-includes: No such file or directory in /hsphere/local/home/nelanela/labeet.dk/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade 2/wpau_prelimcheck.class.php on line 222

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Copyright and airport security

What do they have in common? On the surface of it, nothing. But I see two things. One – they’re both sign o’ the times. Two – they appear on my blog in the same post…

I found a link to this film on Boing Boing. It’s Girl Talk, Lawrence Lessig, Gilberto Gil and Cory Doctorow in a film about the end of (some) copyright. Good! This article, also from Boing Boing is also about copyright. Are we allowed to sell our old CDs?

It was also Boing Boing that pointed me to an Atlantic article that I hadn’t read yet, although I’ve just downloaded the most awesome application to my Iphone, which – among a zillion other things – allows me to read the Atlantic on my phone. Wow!!!! The article is written by a journalist who – at the risk of getting arrested and prosecuted – shows how airport security is much more show than it’s actual security. Really very scary! One of many holes he uncovers, so to speak, is this:

To slip through the only check against the no-fly list, the terrorist uses a stolen credit card to buy a ticket under a fake name. “Then you print a fake boarding pass with your real name on it and go to the airport. You give your real ID, and the fake boarding pass with your real name on it, to security. They’re checking the documents against each other. They’re not checking your name against the no-fly list—that was done on the airline’s computers. Once you’re through security, you rip up the fake boarding pass, and use the real boarding pass that has the name from the stolen credit card. Then you board the plane, because they’re not checking your name against your ID at boarding.”

And now for something entirely different. On The Long Now Blog I found a link to something new. Crowd powered translation. Whenever you have five minutes, you can go there and help out. You can choose something to translate that’s important to you and then just do as much as you can that day. I just tried it and translated a bit of a discussion between Will Wright and Brian Eno into Danish. Click here and see my just translated text as subtitles to this video (only the first two minutes – must do more soon). It’s a cool tool. Imagine an organisation with an important video they want to get out to as many as possible, quickly. They send link – e.g. through Facebook – to the video’s transscript on this site and members from all over the globe can translate it quickly. You can then load the video onto Youtube and from there redirect people, who don’t understand the original language. Cool tool!

It was quite a nice day today and we took it veeery easy. Read the Sunday Times for a couple of hours and then went to Wisley, as we quite often do. It’s nearby and we’re members. They had a farmers’ market and pumpkin carving for children. So Dane carved a small pumpkin, which is now guarding our front door. And David bought dinner, a freshly made game pie. Uhm, it was nice. Dane found some bread in the restaurant and we went to feed the ducks. But it turned out to be more fun to feed the fish! The top picture is made entirely of Wisley’s own apples by Wisley employees. Apple Owl. Looks good, tastes good and even sounds good!

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Blog rounds

Before I start my round I want to complain! About you! I can see from my statistics that I have a steadily (okay, ever so slowly) growing group of readers. But so few of you ever bother to comment on my posts? Now, this last post about the Nobel Laureates. Honestly, a good chunk of you must be avid readers like me. So you must also have an opinion of one or more of the last 48 years of Nobel prize winners?

Anyway, that was that out of the way. Marginal Revolution points to an article in a magazine for people with excess money to spend – these guys and gals are very sorry for themselves presently, because they’ve lost money. Some of them big money. The magazine is called Portfolio and the writer Felix Salmon. There’s a great quote:

If you’re running an insolvent bank, and you get a slug of equity from Treasury, your shareholders will thank you if you use that equity to take some very large risks. If they pay off and you make lots of money, then their shares are really worth something; if they fail and you lose even more money, well, there was never really any money for them to begin with anyway.

The Chief Happiness Officer points to this job advert. One of the best I’ve ever seen!

Creative Commons photo found on Flickr.

On Squattercity we can read that the authorities’ reluctance to legalise squat dwellings can lead to uncontrollable fires, death and homelessness. When a fire starts and there are no fire hydrants, there’s not much to be done! The article is about a fire in a squatter city outside Durban, SA. 2000 people were made homeless.

Kevin Kelly, the Internet guru, writes a post that instantly got my attention. He calls it The Expansion of Ignorance. Good title, eh? It’s about how the amount of information, patents and knowledge is growing ever more rapidly. But what’s growing more than the answers is the questions! Which of course leads to his conclusion:

we have not yet reached our maximum ignorance.

And here’s something else to raise your eyebrows: Ezra Klein points to this editorial in the Los Angeles Times (a newspaper, btw, named as “liberal” by some of my Texan family). The editorial advocates a no to a proposal for a new law in the state of California, which will

“…require that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.”

The editorial recommends a NO. Because otherwise the state will loose its egg business…

It’s late and I’m tired, having just read a long but very rewarding article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s been a while since I read anything new by him, but rumour has it that he has a new book out this autumn. The article is about prodigies vs. late bloomers. He focuses on late bloomers and explains the misconceptions we have about their lives and talent. His protagonist is the writer (who I’m afraid I’d never heard of, but who must now go on my Amazon wishlist) Ben Fountain. Gladwell writes fabulously – that alone should make you read the article. But if you’re also interested in what makes an artist an artist and why some geniuses might never bloom, you really MUST read it!

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American television

 I’m often a bit behind in reading The Sunday Times. It is not always that you can devote an entire Sunday to the devouring of The Times. So this morning while I was having breakfast, I read the Culture section. After an interesting article about Baz Luhrmann‘s new film Australia (see trailer here), I got to the previously mentioned AA Gill commenting on British and American television. If you’re interested, you can read the bit about British television yourself here, but I’ll quote his bit about American television. I really wish I could have written it that way myself – we often thought and discussed along those lines while we were there:

 

I have spent the past fortnight in America, immersed, or submerged, in rolling news. There is something numbly comforting about the repetitious lapping of CNN. They say that, after the initial gagging and panic, drowning is quite a pleasant way to go, and that’s rather like watching Fox News — as you drift into unconsciousness, other people’s lives flash before your eyes. The rolling news channels give you the impression of being constantly informed while actually telling you very little. The world sidles past like a great river, and you never have to get wet. Disasters and basketball matches, comic animals and those strangely misshapen commentators all float away with equal inconsequence.

I was reminded again of two strange truths about American broadcasting. One is the astonishing number and variety of snake-oil medicinal commercials, not just advertising patent medicines but whole new diseases. Medical care is one of the main broken bones of contention in the coming American election, but nobody has actually pointed out that getting the halt, the flatulent, the palsied, the breathless and the hypochondriacs to pay for television is a very weird way of financing the entertainment and gaiety of a nation.

 

Brilliant powers of observation!

In a couple of hours I fly with boring Sterling to Copenhagen. Btw. if you’re NOT in Denmark, but want to fly there, Lastminute.com is always, ALWAYS, cheaper with the Sterling tickets than Sterling themselves. This particular ticket (out Thursday and back Sunday) I got for £100, whereas Sterling wanted £300. Don’t even mention SAS

Am going to participate in a 90th birthday celebration in the family. It really is something, isn’t it, to reach 90 and still have all your faculties?

So, see you on Monday…

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Wikipedia

I wrote the other day about Mrs. Palin’s Wikipedia entry probably undergoing changes as I was writing. I was more on the spot there than I’d ever suspected. See this bit from Boing Boing and follow the links.

From next week I’ll be following a course at Uni called “Source Reliability”. A brief look at the reading list shows that there’s a lot about the debacle between Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Brittanica. Or rather – between Nature and Encyclopedia Brittanica. Since I haven’t read the articles yet, I don’t know what my teachers are trying to prove. But I have previously followed some of this debate and what I’ve learned is this: I used to blindly trust information found in sources like E.B. or the like – but Nature‘s examination of some of the entries in E.B. showed that they are as flawed as the people who wrote them. And aren’t we all flawed? So – I love Wikipedia because when I read an article there, I don’t trust it like it was the Truth – depending on the character of the subject matter, I check and re-check the information. When checking on which king came before Henry VIII or the name of a card game or the specifics of a plant, I happily use Wikipedia and only that. When checking political matters as the aforementioned Mrs. Palin, I’d be dumb if I relied only on the information on Wikipedia – or anywhere else for that matter.

No matter how many articles I read about the flaws in Wikipedia, it is still a fact that there were never before ONE easily and readily accessible place where you could find so much information and so many links for further reading about every conceivable subject.

Btw – the picture of Mr. Obama on my previous post and the picture of Mrs. Palin above are both from the excellent community site Picapp.com. It contains pictures free of copyright and can be used and downloaded by anyone. Legally.

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A little Obama and a lot of other stuff

Slate, New York Times, The American Prospect, Megan McArdle and a lot of sites that they’re linking to discuss the Obama speech. They seem to agree that it was a good speech, but not fantastic. He is an oratory master and has made so many good speeches during his brief career, that he’s made it difficult for himself. But see for yourself! While looking around all the politics sites, interesting news popped up – John McCain’s most unusual choice of veep candidate – the completely inexperienced, but young and female Sarah Palin. Check Wikipedia as the article is probably developing as we speak (or whatever it is we’re doing). Oh, how I love Wikipedia!

After one of my neighbours told me that I was not alone in experiencing faulty Internet here in our convent (thick, thick walls) and also was kind enough to tell me what he’d done to remedy it, I’ve become the very happy owner of three HomePlugs. OK, not exactly another step towards the wireless home – but oh, my Internet just works wonderfully – at full speed now. It’s like a big plug –  into the mains, one connects to the router with an ethernet cable and the others connect from the mains to my computer wherever I want to work. No installation whatsoever, just plug’n’play! Lovely, lovely, lovely!

So naturally I’ve been surfing around all day long and found lots of lovely stuff out there:

On happiness I’ve found a couple of good posts. They are both lists of things to do to be happier and not exactly groundbreaking science. But I still think they’re good and absolutely worth reading and maybe even memorizing. It’s Gretchen from The Happiness Project, but writing on another blog. And it’s from Pick the Brain about happy people’s habits. Btw Gretchen has a post on how to spot when you’re boring people…

On the TED blog I had to pick a few or the rest of the day would go with watching all these incredible people tell about their dreams and achievements. So this Indian guy with his hole-in-the-wall project took pride of place – he has put computers (with Internet) in holes-in-walls in remote places in India and discovered that any child between 5 – 14 can teach him- or herself and loads of other kids to use a computer in a few months. They even teach themselves basic English to do so. He quotes someone for saying “if a teacher can be replaced by a computer – replace him”. True! If the teacher can’t be better and more emphatic and inspiring than a computer, why have one?

When I started my origami craze I had no idea that it had somehow become “modern“. But clearly it has and I find that quite funny. Here’s a math professor who’s taken origami to a whole new sphere – using his math skills to do so. It’s downright incredible!

On the Long Now blog there’s a post by Brian Eno, who’s new album with David Byrne is on my to-buy list. It’s got absolutely raving reviews in the papers here and I am looking forward to hearing it. The post is about what happens to a society when it’s united in and committed to a very long-term project.

Jeff Jarvis writes about Paulo Coelho’s online presence. I must admit, I didn’t know about it and I’ve never read a book of his, although it’s probably about time that I read The Alchemist, which has apparently inspired many people. I’ve certainly noticed his books in prominent places in the bookshops. His website is very professional and informative and – where he differs from most other authors – there’s lots to read and download for free.

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An evening traversing the World Wide Web

This picture of a very impressive hydrangea at Nyman’s in East Sussex has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post. I just had to show it to you, it’s so beautiful!

I have almost come to a point where I don’t want to come across any more interesting blogs. But unless I stop reading blogs, I’ll inevitably come across new and interesting ones. Like this one, named Interfluidity. The post that Marginal Revolution brought to my attention is about something I’d never heard of, but at least can understand, the paradox of thrift. Quite a brilliant piece on what happens when there’s CRISIS written all over the economy.

Marginal Revolution also reminds me of something I also thought of earlier this week. The Amazon Kindle looks more and more interesting. I’ve dismissed all earlier electronic bookreaders as just not coming anywhere near the real thing in comfort and convenience. This one just may be up there with good old paper and print. It would save us from having to buy a bigger house in a couple of years…

On a Danish website I found a solution to a Facebook problem. When you’ve just added a new friend, the feature “suggest friends” pops up and lets you suggest some of your “old” friends to your new friend. But next time you log on to your new friend’s page, this feature is nowhere to be seen – or found. However, the banal and rather old-style solution is to go to the URL and then just write “&suggestfriends” after the address and press Enter – voila! In the same ballgame I’ve found (through my very own search, no less) what may be my salvation. I’ve been struggling with updating this WordPress blog to the newest version, which will let me do a lot of things that I can’t do now. But I’ve come across several obstacles and have had to give it up when I’ve tried it. It has become almost traumatic… It’s a video which explains to dummies like me how it’s done. You’ll be able to see for yourself whether it works. Don’t expect miracles in the next few weeks though – too much holiday stuff going on. But then!

On the subject of happiness, Jonathan Mead wrote this interesting piece on Pick the Brain. I do think he could have tipped his hat to Daniel Gilbert, my happiness guru, but he doesn’t. He’s got his own blog, which also looks like it could be worthy of the occasional visit.

On the news I found a funny little story about “the first computer” – from 2.100 years ago. It apparently had several ways to compute time, one of which was Olympic Time, i.e. every fourth year. Read more on BBC Online and on the project’s homepage.

And in the Independent I read that Danes are only half as fat as the British. No, that’s doing terrible things to statistics, which I’ve promised myself never to dabble in, since I saw this video on TED. Anyway, there are 18% Brits who are obese, but only 9% Danes, or so the accompanying statistics claim. So get it together, my Danish friends, and stop eating c-r-a-p food while you can! I had actually wondered several times if there weren’t more heavily overweight people over here than back home. And sadly, I was right. 18% obese people – that’s a lot!

Oh yes, and I’ve forgotten to bring you this excellent version of The Story of the Internet and the World Wide Web. It’s from Vanity Fair.

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Links

Now, what kind of idiot does a thing like this? Thank you to Capac for the pointer.

I’m always going on about TED (Technology Entertainment Design). As the happy owner of an Iphone I have taken podcasts to a higher level and sit on buses, trains and airplanes etc. and LEARN things in a very entertaining way by watching video-podcasts from TED. If you still haven’t taken my hint and tried to watch a TED video, here’s your chance of watching some of the very best ones, picked out by really brainy people. The theme of TED is “Ideas are Everything”. And what the speakers have in common is that they have one or more original idea(s). Some speakers are world famous, some “only” famous within their field. Some of them aren’t famous at all before they appear on TED!

A spinoff of TED is this lovely online shop based in San Francisco with messenger bags made of discarded plastic bottles. I want one!

The Long Now Blog links to this very funny post about the messages that we, Earth, have sent into space since we were able to go there. It’s not uplifting reading, but it’s so funny! I’m going to keep an eye on that guy.

The Times (and most all other media) has the story this morning of an American court ruling against Google/Youtube. Viacom has sued for infringment of their copyright. Oh, I’m tired of hearing the big media companies going on about Artists’ Rights. It’s not really the artists’ rights they care about, but their own sources of income. And very often they – mysteriously – are biting the hand that feeds them. For instance, the many, many clips in Youtube from Britain’s got Talent and all the other similar shows. Do those clips give the shows more viewers or less viewers? More interest or less interest? Your guess is as good as mine… It really is worrying that Viacom can look into the viewing habits of every single Youtube user and maybe even access their IP-address. In a statement Viacom says that they are not going to do that, but only time will show. Reading about this led me on to this honourable organisation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. How glad I am that people have the time and energy to found and run such organisations. It’s for the benefit of us all. More on this issue from Jeff Jarvis.

Also from the Long Now Blog a pointer to an article (disguised as a book review) in the New York Review of Books about global warming by British physicist and author Freeman Dyson (what I would not give to be as clearminded at the age of 84!!!). Before you roll your eyes and move on, let me tell you that this article is about the whole issue. The arguments for and against whether global warming is a serious problem or not, the economic aspects of all the different paths we could take and a very interesting finale about Environmentalism as a new religion. If you’re interested in this and want to read something that is truly unbiased, then try this. It’s not exactly an easy read and I will not claim to have understood all of it. But I understand lots more now than I did before…

The News is now Public ( a site dedicated to the publishing of news ignored or played down by other media) tells about Patrick Waller, the 31st innocent man freed by DNA in the state of Texas. The state of Texas apparently has a double record in the US. It’s the state where the most sentenced have later been found innocent based  on DNA and other evidence. And it’s the state with the highest rate of executions. That’s bone-chilling! CNN is the source of the story. An organisation called the Innocence Project are fronting and financing many of these cases. God Bless them!

As many of you will know, I’m an “Apple Person”. I love all things Apple and have much more of that “I Can’t Live Without It”-feeling in the Apple Store than in any department store. But there are things that aggravate me with Apple too. And mostly that has to do with the copyright thing. I absolutely detest that I can’t do with my own paid for CD’s and downloads exactly as I please. That absolutely INFURIATES me. And reading that I couldn’t watch Netflix films on my Mac if I so chose, infuriates me further. Give me my rights back! Why are my rights influenced by what platform I’ve chosen? Grrrr…

Jabberwock, an Indian blog, reviews the debut novel by Mohammed Hanif, which I’ve also read good things about elsewhere. He tells about the similarities to a book I read a long time ago and really, really liked: Mario Vargas Llosa‘s The Feast of the Goat. Mr. Hanif himself acknowledges the inspiration from Llosa. If you’ve never read anything by Llosa, he can be recommended as good – and very entertaining – summer reading. I’ve added the Exploding Mangoes to my Amazon wish list.

Oh, just realising I’ve been going on like this for hours and you’ve probably left this page a long time ago. Let this then be the last link. A funny post by Megan McArdle on The Atlantic about the demise of the SUV. I was never fond of SUVs in the first place, them being petrol-consuming and even more dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists than other cars, so of course I love her little piece. Have a laugh over some of the comments as well.

No, here’s the last bit. On a very nice social outing with neighbours here in our convent, one person collected money for a “kitty”, for drinks at the pub. I did know what a kitty was, but hadn’t heard the word in many years, not having lived in England before. Asking all these knowledgeable and well educated people about the origin of the word “kitty”, they all drew a blank. But view possible explanations here, here and here.

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A weakness

I’m going to admit something to you. I don’t dig entertainment on TV and usually don’t watch any of it. Honestly! But when we first came over here I was forced to watch a show on TV called Britain’s got Talent. Forced! (Gotta blame it on someone, haven’t I)…

But, nobody’s forced me to watch every programme since then!

There’s something completely irresistible about it. Every time we’ve been watching the auditions we’ve been asking ourselves what it is that makes people who are absolutely devoid of talent, charm or any other asset go on TV and showcase their shortcomings to the world. Some of them are just absolutely incredibly untalented!

But then, in between all the more or less terrible acts, come these unpolished gems right out of the sticks. Out of nowhere, wih so much talent that you’re left speechless! And sometimes some more polished gems make you think where A&R (artist & repertoire) people around the country have had their eyes and ears?

Here are some of my favourites:

George Sampson – dancer

Hoop-La-La – eh, hoolahoop dancers. Didn’t go on to the finals – much to my regret!

Flava – a street dance group way above what you usually see. And one of the boys’ mum had actually done the choreography! They didn’t go on to the finals, lost to these two little cutiepies:

Cheeky Monkeys.

Another act that didn’t reach the finals, was Tracey. I would have loved to have seen him perform in front of the Prince of Wales!!!

Some of the absolute superstars of the programme are a young girl and a young boy. They both sing and they both sing classical music. And both their voices make the little hairs on your back stand up! Andrew Johnston and Faryl Smith.

The judges of this show are national heroes, it appears. I don’t particularly like any of them… Piers has been editor of some of Britain’s worse rags, which qualifies him to absolutely nothing in my eyes. Amanda is probably a fine actress, but I’ve never seen her, so… And then there’s the world famous Simon. I think he’s horrible. Not because he’s “the tough one”, but because I think he’s got poor taste. He’s one to fall for a cleavage… (and take a look at his own haircut and open-necked shirts, sooo eighties!!!). At one point we saw a pair of dancers who were very good at what they did. It was like ice dancing without the skates. Which is to say not exactly high brow or anything. But Simon went on and on about how he preferred baked beans to caviar. Which was why he didn’t like this act??? They were exactly beans!!! Good, fine, talented. But beans. To Amanda’s credit she rolled her eyes at him!

I’d love if some of my readers (I actually know you’re out there!) would like to comment now and then. It’s quite OK to disagree. But if you do so in foul language, I’m not going to publish your comment. It saddening how many people leave horrible and obscene comments on perfectly above-board blogs. Shame on you!

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Link day

From Marginal Revolution this about Icelanders being the happiest people on earth.

From the New Yorker a bone-chilling recount of Nixon’s presidency and why that period is still very relevant to America today.

Kottge.org links to this incredible collection of legs as used in book- and magazine covers…

Puzzled as I am as to what this really is, animation, film, graffiti, a figment of someone’s imagination? I bring you this absolutely stunning little film. Found by Tore.

Ezra Klein has a couple of posts about Ted Kennedy. The first just a short notice about how sad it is that it is this particular senators of all senators who has to suffer from a malignant brain tumor. In the second post he quotes other mourners and reflects some more. Ezra Klein writes like he’s ancient and has studied intensely all his life. But no, here’s yet another young person who’s just immaturely brilliant! He writes for the liberal magazine American Prospect.

No Impact Man points to this funny Australian/soon-to-be-American blog about Icing. Icing as in the clothes we put on, the make-up we wear (or don’t as it is) and the outward signals we send in general. Not surprisingly, I really like her post about what to wear when you’re well past forty!

A tulip field in Holland!!! Picture snatched from a food blog on the New York Times. It was an interesting lecture on TED which directed me to Mark Bittman‘s blog. Cow farts are mentioned…

Jeff Jarvis has a funny post about our personal health in the public space. I didn’t even know such a thing existed as Google Health. But there you go. He points to this site, which looks very interesting to me, who, as many of you know, suffer from all sorts of weird little ailments…

Megan McArdle reminds us of Tom Lehrer. How can such an old clip still be so relevant. It’s just same old, same old, isn’t it? And she has this remarkable story about milk subsidising in the US. I haven’t verified it – having almost unlimited faith in The Atlantic. And as the lady says, you just can’t make these things up!

On the Danish website ComON (news about the IT world) I was astounded to find this link. It shows you how to modify your Iphone so the interface looks like Windows Vista! Who on the planet would want that, other than Bill Gates? My husband’s just got a new laptop for work and it has Vista. I find it absolutely horrible. It’s just plastered with widgets and warnings about this, that and the other and a completely useless “opening screen”. Give me XP anytime if I have to use Windows…

On the Blog with the Long Name (on anthropology) I found this interesting post: What Women Want. You just can’t help clicking, can you?

Gretchen, one of my happiness-gurus has this interesting post about how to stop a tantrum (in children, that is…). I’ll give it a shot next time Dane starts slamming doors.

You might be wondering (if you’ve made it all the way down here) why I read so many American blogs and so few British. I certainly wonder about that myself. The truth is, I don’t think much about it, I just put down the good ones I come across. As it turns out, they are mostly American. If you can point me to some exellent British ones, I’d love it! You should know my taste by now!

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England

I know I’ve been a bit secretive as to what’s going to happen now. A reason for that could be that we weren’t entirely sure ourselves…

But – now we’ve decided, we’re going to settle down here in England, my husbands home country, which he’s been away from for almost thirty years. We have our eyes fixed on a lovely flat in Woking, Surrey. That’s south-west of London, a 20 minutes journey by train to Waterloo. Almost all the family is in Surrey, so we’ll be close to baby-sitting opportunities ;-) The deal is not done yet, so cross your fingers, please.

We’ve got ourselves a bank account – sounds easy-peasy doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t! You have to produce evidence of residence – e.g. an electricity bill with your name on it. That’s not easy when you’ve just arrived in the country! AND you have to be on the electoral register, which is only updated every three months… Well, I wont go into details about how we got all of this fixed, but we did and now have a joint account with Natwest. The bank manager was all apologies over these new rules – you can try a wild guess as to why they’ve been implemented…

We’ve also bought a car – that was a lot easier than getting a bank account. You just go to the car dealer, choose a car, pay with your credit card and sign on the dotted line and Yippeee, you’ve got a car! Ours is a slightly battered eleven year old Audi A6 stationcar. It’s a lovely car, although a bit of a hassle to park. And it was dirt cheap, compared to Danish prices.

Until we’ve cleared it with the flat we’re staying with David’s sister and her family. Dane is having a fantastic time with his cousins Avi, 11 and Simmie, 9 and all their friends. He has really been missing other children on our trip, so this is just great. The family is most gracious, letting us stay, lending us all sorts of things that we need, giving us advice on schools (that’s a BIG deal over here!), public transport, parking, shopping etc. etc. Families can be really useful, you know!

We’ve been driving around the southern English countryside and – oh, it’s just so beautiful! It’s so much more hilly and wooded than the Danish countryside and villages seem to live on, in spite of the spreading suburbia and the huge supermarkets everywhere. We’ve heard from a number of sources that the preservation of villages is a cause that has captured many Englishmen’s hearts, besides the ones owning the ailing village shops. I’ve borrowed the picture from this page.

Oh, and on another note – my travel blog, still this one, just being transmogriffed into a different kind of blog (with some kind of purpose, don’t know which yet), has been nominated to an award. I’m very honoured, but can’t quite do what I’m supposed to do yet, since I haven’t had time to look at many blogs lately. Hope it’s ok for me to get back to my duties later. Thank you to Capac for thinking of me and promoting me this way!

If you only stumbled over my blog today, just click the travel category and you’ll get all the posts from our travels. There are quite a few, we travelled for six months and have only been home for about two weeks.

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