Er skrælning okay? Er hetz?

Triple Spiral One-Piece Orange Peeling
Ja, for fanden, skrælning er helt okay! Selvfølgelig med kildeangivelse, men spar os for masser af anførselstegn og for, at almindelige avisartikler/blogindlæg m.m. skal ligne videnskabelige artikler med dusinvis af referencer. Skrælning og plagiat er ikke det samme. Og inden man kommer op på den høje hest, kan man lige tænke lidt over, at der kun er et begrænset antal måder, man kan give udtryk for den samme holdning på. Hvis jeg skrev ledere eller opinionsartikler om aktuel politik, ville jeg helt sikkert have gengivet mange af de samme pointer, som fx kan findes i en leder fra The Guardian eller The Economist. Simpelthen fordi vi følger de samme opinionsdannere og har samme grundholdning til mange emner – og følgelig sammenlignelig sprogbrug. Og det er almenmenneskeligt at internalisere klogt udtrykte synspunkter, der matcher vores egne!

Efter internettet og især efter, at det er blevet så nemt at holde øje med internationale medier via diverse aggregerings-hjemmesider, først og størst Facebook, er det blevet en ny sport for visse mediepersoner at kigge journalister, de ikke kan lide, efter i sømmene. Det er også blevet meget nemmere, fordi man ikke skal sidde med to stykker papir ved siden af hinanden og markere med rødt, men kan lave søgninger i mange dokumenter på kort tid efter særlige søgeord og navne. Ikke stor journalistik, hvis I spørger mig.

Først og størst var hetzen mod Annegrethe Felter Rasmussen, hvor tre medier undsagde og fyrede hende samtidig uden overhovedet at have efterprøvet anklagerne. På Journalisten, det ene af de tre medier, har de dog haft ære nok i livet til efterfølgende at foranstalte en efterprøvning. Den frikender sjovt nok Annegrethe og til Journalistens ære skal det siges, at chefredaktør Øjvind Hesselager har tilbudt Annegrethe hendes (freelance)job tilbage. På Information og Altinget (de to andre medier, der fyrede Annegrethe) har man endnu ikke fundet anledning til at fortælle læserne dette. Tilbage står, at alle, der har læst om sagen, men ikke følger Journalisten eller Annegrethe selv, IKKE får at vide, at der ikke var fugls føde på anklagerne, udover det, som Annegrethe selv har “tilstået“.

En af Annegrethes hårdeste anklagere, redaktør Søren Villemoes på Weekend-Avisen, blev kort efter taget i selv at plagiere. Denne sag fik ikke andre konsekvenser for Villemoes, end at det var temmelig pinligt for ham. Men pinlighed påvirker ikke evnen til at betale husleje.

Forleden var det så Politikens chefredaktør, der røg på anklagebænken, denne gang anklaget af Mikael Jalving. Et besøg på sidstnævntes Facebook-profil sker helt for egen regning. Selv fik jeg en akut depression efter mit besøg. Han er et glimrende eksempel på, hvordan misogyni og Islam-had går hånd i hånd yderst på højrefløjen. Jeg forstår faktisk ikke rigtigt sammenhængen, men jeg er jo så også både radikalt sindet og feminist. Læs Bo Lidegaards tilbagevisning.

Tilbage til skrælning. Jeg kunne slet ikke forestille mig en tilværelse som videns-junkie uden! Jeg har hverken tid – og heller ikke altid lyst eller inklination – til at læse alle de mange, lange, kloge artikler og bøger, der skrives om alverdens emner på alle sprog. Derfor elsker jeg, når journalister og anmeldere skræller bøger og artikler for mig, så jeg kan blive (lidt) klogere uden at læse et fembindsværk om første verdenskrig eller et svært tilgængeligt #longread om melatonins gavnlige virkninger. Det gælder naturligvis i særlig grad artikler, der er skrevet på andre sprog end engelsk eller skandinavisk eller som befinder sig bag en tyk paywall (fx videnskabelige artikler).

pinguBare for at nævne et lillebitte eksempel på at *alle* gør det (og bemærk, jeg har IKKE ondt i r****), så er der en lille historie (ikke online) i Politiken d. 13/1 om ophavsmanden til Pingus sprog og stemme. Den er mere end skrællet fra en historie i The Guardian, som journalisten da også nævner. Og hvad så? Sådan en petit-historie havde jeg ikke selv set i The Guardian, og i Politiken så jeg den kun, fordi den var ledsaget af et kæmpe billede af nuttede Pingu. Men journalisten vil ikke blive forfulgt og hængt ud, gætter jeg. Hvorfor? Historien er ukontroversiel og apolitisk.

Mon ikke der er masser af tvivlsomme artikler at hente, hvis folk på venstrefløjen og andre af os forkætrede humanister og kulturradikale gad bruge vores kostbare tid på at sammenligne output fra Jalving, Selsing, Den Korte Avis og alle mulige andre højrefløjsdebattører med output fra diverse internationale højrefløjsmedier og blogs? Jeg ville dog aldrig påtage mig sådan en opgave og heller ikke tilskynde andre til det. For det er jo meningsløs tidsspilde! Til gengæld ville det sørme være rart, hvis medier i højere grad gad efterprøve og afsløre løgn og propaganda.

Mange, mange journalister jeg kender (til) er vilde med fodbold. Så hvad med at gå efter bolden, folks, i stedet for m/k’en?

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Like walking in water

is what my intellectual life has felt like lately. I’ve read a lot of very inspiring stuff but felt completely incapable of commenting on it in a way suitable for publication. But then I read how a children’s author found the courage to start writing: After decades of reading all the masters of both adult and children’s fiction, she’d built up a sizeable inferiority complex and felt incapable of writing anything of substance. But then she got the idea of approaching it the other way round. She went to the library and borrowed some really cr** children’s books and went home and read them. And then she read some more. And suddenly the writer’s block was gone  – ’cause anyone could write prose more engaging and interesting than what she’d just been reading.

So – after having read stuff by some of the world’s leading journalists and writers over the summer in Vanity Fair, Sunday Times, Wired etc., I’ve now stumbled around a bit and read some bits and bobs by more inferior writers and got my courage up :-)

I’ve been following the debate around Free. The debate started long before Chris Anderson’s book*, but it really took off after. And News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch has certainly stirred the pot with his claim that he’s very close to creating a pay-wall around his empire. What to think about all this? I’m still in doubt. I’m against downloading music without paying for it, but I happily use Grooveshark and Spotify to stream music. And I’m the first to say that the music industry has only itself to thank for its current predicament. I can still recall how my bosses in the Danish music industry laughed at me when I – in the very early 90ties – came home from a seminar in New York and told them that music was about to become digital and how that might have implications for copyright protection…

Would I pay for content? Yes, I think I would gladly pay for some content, if it were of high quality and delivered to me in a convenient and tailored format. I’m having news from BBC, Times of London, New York Times, The Guardian and Washington Post among others delivered to my computer and/or my phone on a daily basis. What if these could be tailored even more specifically to my needs and delivered in more reader friendly ways? Personally, I think micro-payment, as practised on Itunes and in the App store, is on the up and that our future credit card statements/phone bills will be full of miniature payments for all sorts of things, not only songs and apps, but news stories, TV-programmes, films, parking, bus tickets etc.

Anyway, if you haven’t followed the debate, here’s a few important articles on the subject: Anderson himself, Malcolm Gladwell’s dismissal of the idea, Murdoch’s vow to install a pay-wall, Andrew Keen‘s treatment of Pirate Bay and finally a summary on The Guardian’s tech pages (the best place to follow this debate, the Guardian’s online presence is by far the best on the web).

Another Big Story that I’ve been following over the summer is the story about the greatest swindler of them all, Bernie Madoff. Incredibly interesting and intriguing stuff! Vanity Fair is best for this story. Just go to their site and type in Madoff in the search field. The Guardian has collected everything about Madoff very neatly in one place if your time is too short for 3-4 VF articles…

Of course I’ve also been following the development in Iran – mostly via Twitter – and the situation in Afghanistan, which seems to deteriorate on a daily basis.

And then there’s the Birther movement and the “If Stephen Hawking had been English, he’d be dead” debate in the US. I absolutely love the latter – isn’t it just exceptional how the American right can get away with blatant lies. How can the people who work on Fox News and a whole host of other media spreading these insane rumours call themselves journalists? (Oh well, people who write about the latest shenanigans of 3rd rate TV stars also call themselves journalists – so much for that).

And I’ve been away on holiday – will not use the word st**cation – some of my Twitterfriends get sick when they hear the word – on the Sussex coast. We had a lovely totally holidayish time, kiting, crabbing, touring, playing Monopoly and Canasta, reading reading reading. Best book I read was Turbulence by Giles Foden. Absolutely brilliant – a must read. I’ll never badmouth the meteorologists again, promise! Above pictures are from holiday, inspired by Turbulence.

Finally, a recommendation. Youngest son Dane has been busy with scissors and glue since we came back. See the rather surprising results of his endeavours here.

* A funny aberdabei about Anderson’s book Free, is that it’s actually only free in the US. Over here we have to pay for it. So much for Free!

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#Iranelection

What’s with the # (hash-tag) you ask (if you’re not on Twitter). The above is the key word for any tweet about the Iranian election and the ensuing unrest.

Just read someone saying “You can’t trust all tweets about Iran”. No! Did anybody really think so? Can you trust anything fully? I don’t think so and I find this Iran-twitter-revolution thing totally fascinating and a great leap forward WITHOUT necessarily believing every tweet I get about the goings on there.

There are a number of reasons why:

  1. The people inside Iran can’t always get news verified before they post. Each Iranian tweeter values his or her own sources and tweets what he/she finds credible. When things get very heated, they might tweet something that is exaggerated or will later turn out to be false. That doesn’t discredit these people entirely!
  2. People outside who’re trying to make sense of tweets from inside are well-meaning people (mostly). They want to support the people inside Iran by RT’ing (re-tweeting, means forwarding) their messages to their own group of followers. Also called viral power.
  3. Apparently there are (this is NOT verified) government officials in Iran trying to infiltrate Twitter by posing as Mousavi-supporters. One must have one’s bullsh.. guard up.
  4. And then of course there are all the people here in the West who loves a “good story” more than anything. And in this particular species’ view, a “good story” is one with lots of blood and misery. They will exaggerate anything they hear and in no time stories will be blown out of proportion. This is something which also happened before the web, if I may just remind the Luddites out there.

So no, you cannot believe anything you read on Twitter, on my blog, in the Daily Mail (particularly not…), in the Times, on BBC Online or anywhere else. You must apply your own critical sense. After a while you realise that it is more often true what you find on BBC Online than what you read in the Daily Mail. OK. Now you know this. It’s still not a reason to now believe everything that’s on the BBC website. What you do know now though, is that when it makes sense to check something you read in the Daily Mail against what’s on the same subject in the Times, the other way round will only rarely pay off.

If you want to join in, start by reading the always sensible but engaged Cory Doctorow’s advice on how to go about tweeting #iranelection. Another trustworthy source of news from Iran is Andrew Sullivan on The Atlantic. The most web-forward British paper is The Guardian, a journo there is live-blogging.

And – green is the colour of hope in Iran, so get out the greens!

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Religious zeal – or what's worse

Politics:

An interview with Hanif Kureishi about what has happened to the world since the fatwa against Salman Rushdie‘s The Satanic Verses. It’s very interesting and deserves to be read by anyone who takes an interest in these matters. Here’s a quote:

The Rushdie affair, Kureishi believes, transformed not just his own work, but also “the very notion of writing.” The fatwa “created a climate of terror and fear. Writers had to think about what they were writing in a way they never had to before. Free speech became an issue as it had not been before. Liberals had to take a stand, to defend an ideology they had not really had to think about before.” How have they borne up to the task? “The attacks on Rushdie showed that words can be dangerous. They also showed why critical thought is more important than ever, why blasphemy and immorality and insult need protection. But most people, most writers, want to keep their heads down, live a quiet life. They don’t want a bomb in the letterbox. They have succumbed to the fear.”

They also touch on the Danish cartoon controversy. I thought then and I still think that it was perfectly all right to publish those drawings, if they had been in some sort of context. The most controversial one, the one with the mullah with the bomb in the turban would probably had gone by quite unnoticed had it accompanied an article about one of those insane Islamic fanatics who we always see on videos thundering about the imminent demise of the Western World. But the context of the drawings, if anyone should have forgotten, was a purposeful attempt to insult Muslims. Plain and simple. Nothing else. And I find that despicable.

I’ve read several of Kureishi’s books and of course also seen the lovely My Beautiful Launderette, but bow my head and admit that I’ve never gotten around to read the Satanic Verses or any of Rushdie’s other books. I don’t like Rushdie much and, although I’m always preaching to others about not letting the artist overshadow the work, I guess that’s what’s influenced me so I haven’t read any of his books. I even have one or two on the shelf… It was the clever twitterer @howardsends who alerted me to the interview.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Here’s a video from a congressional hearing on climate change. You will have to see it to believe that so much nonsense can come out of the mouth of a grown up and totally sane looking suit-clad congressman. (notice how the girl behind him tries not to smile). Pointer (again) from Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic.

Here’s a good, reflective piece from Time Magazine about the Earth Hour.

IQ:

Thorough and well written review of important book about IQ as being hereditary or environmental. As with almost everything else, it’s not either or, it’s AND. Of course intelligence can be cultivated. And of course black people don’t have lower IQs than whites because of their race. And of course women don’t have lower IQs than men. As with any other gift you inherit from your ancestors you can either do something with it or not!

Tech:

If the management on NYT and International Herald Tribune are this dumb, there’s very little hope for the world!

Food:

How to use chopsticks. Instructional video. 90 secs. It works. Found on this interesting looking blog via Sheamus who never fails to twitter about interesting stuff.

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Name-calling

I often cringe when reading some blogs but primarily blog comments and comments to newspaper articles. Why is it that so many people use such foul language? There must be so many people out there with horrible lives, since they need to vent their aggression in vile comments to newspaper articles or blog posts written in a perfectly polite tone.

Personally I try hard to write in a polite and proper tone and only follow blogs that do so – but of course I’m writing under my own name. Somehow anonymity makes people think they can write anything! Several of my favourite bloggers have had to restrict comments because of the awful language, name-calling and even threats in their comments section. Newspapers have to vet their comments too and spend ridiculous amounts of time doing so, because of all this foulness.

Here’s a post from one of the Slate blogs (science, tech & life), where they give an example of a post full of name-calling, but which doesn’t really address the questions raised. And this is among well educated people with cool jobs who really should have a life decent enough to allow for a proper tone.

A good principle, which I’ve read somewhere and made my own, is: If I can’t write it under my own name, then don’t write it at all. It’s not worth printing then.

I know this sounds awfully self-righteous. But it’s something that is almost always keeping me from reading comments to articles and blogposts, because I give up searching for the nuggets of gold among all the trash! And that’s a pity, because the gold is there!

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All is said

so I’ve surfed around for some less serious titbits to add colour to this day of promise.

If you haven’t read any comments, I suggest you pop by The Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post (this one is good), Huffington Post and dont’ forget the always thorough Andrew Sullivan on The Atlantic (comments from right), (comments from left). Oh, and Whitehouse.gov has got a very new look and feel. On Kottke.org I read that all third-party content is licensed under Creative Commons. Is that cool or what?

Back to the less serious. You did wonder who designed Michelle Obama’s dress, didn’t you? And have an opinion? Well, you’re not alone. Read about the designer and what hundreds of NYT readers thought here.

The Inauguration lunch is also described in detail. It’s modelled over one of Lincoln’s lunches.

An anthropologist muses over Obama’s changed way of speaking. I’ve noticed a change, but am not exactly a linguist, so hadn’t caught exactly what kind of change it was.

Here’s Hollywood Obama gossip on a Washington Post level. It’s Dana Milbank writing – he’s not just any old gossip columnist. (Note that you may have to sign in to Washington Post to read this – but it’s free).

And here’s what we’re now rid of. I know you’ve probably already seen this. But funny it is!

The ObamaNene poster was created here. Go get your own!

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Tools for a better understanding of conflicts

I’m trying my hand with some new podcasts now that I’m exercising three times a week. You can hear a lot of podcasts in 4-5 hours! One I listened to today was BBC’s technology podcast called Digital Planet. It was surprisingly good and this episode focused almost exclusively on the Gaza conflict. Some of these wonderful Open Source people have developed a debate wiki called DebateGraph, which encompasses all the stand points and all the arguments in the Gaza conflict and shows them in a graphic way. I’ve been trying to embed it here on my blog, but I just can’t get WordPress to do it. What kind of media is a wiki exactly, anyway? But click here and have a good look at it. The British newspaper The Independent has been more successful than me, it’s embedded on their website and they are presently using it to show “What Obama should do next”. Really marvellous tool!

Digital Planet also mentioned another tool called Ushahidi, originally developed for the conflict in the Democratic Replublic of Congo, which monitors all sources to find out the correct number of casualties. This one is adopted by Al-Jazeera.

A couple of other news tit-bits from around the world: Obama has, in yet another show of supreme insight in how the media works, released a letter he’s written to his two little girls here only a few days away from his inauguration. Read it in its entirety here. There’s also an interesting letter going in the other direction, namely the star of the blogosphere Arianna Huffington‘s letter titled “Moving forward doesn’t mean you can’t look back”. It’s about America not closing its eyes to the crimes committed by the Bush/Cheney administration. She quotes George W.

As for the economy, Bush insisted, “I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession. In the meantime, there were 52 months of uninterrupted growth.” Which is kind of like saying the flight of the Hindenburg was fabulous up until the landing.

Which reminded me that I still haven’t seen Bush’ farewell address. It’s a must-see, I think. With remarks like that!

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Life as a busy bee and a crippling cold

have kept me from blogging. No running away from the busy bee, but must extend working day at other end! On Sunday I read a very thought provoking article in The Sunday Times, which they’ve been kind enough to publish online. It’s by another of the paper’s excellent writers, Bryan Apleyard and it’s about the possibility of actually proving the existence of an afterlife!

I guess that when someone close to you die or is close to dying, and when you yourself feel mortality creeping up on you, these things become important. I don’t particularly want to “go to Heaven”, but am no fan of the idea of just disappearing without a trace. I always wonder what atheists tell their children when someone close dies? “Your best friend got run over by a car and now he’s nothing.” It may be that I’m just a coward, but I could never say that!

Something along these lines is also this TED talk by a neuro scientist. You’ll have to bear with her absolutely horrible accent and just listen to what she actually says and the humour with which she says 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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BBC

Yesterday was the Times, today it is the BBC. Another love of my life – if you’ll allow me to go a bit overboard. On TED talks the creator of BBC online, Jonathan Drori, tells us quite a few things we thought we knew…

Why is it hotter in the summer than in winter?

See the video, if you want the answer. And don’t think you know it.

I wake up with the BBC every morning. Not on the radio, but as a news update on my phone. You can choose the areas you want info about, and – even better – not want to know about. that means that I don’t have to read one word about sports! I get some of my technology info from the BBC – the other day we watched (on TV, but you can see it online) an interview with Google’s first employee. He’s still there! And their science news are very good, as is the medical news.

That’s all from me today folks, I need a screen break…

PS: A few sports news I do like, and the fact that Murray beat Nadal in the US Open semifinals, made it to the main news. In 40 minutes time (that’s 10 o’clock PM our time) you can follow the final between Murray and Federer live on BBC Online – not as video, but as blog-like updates every five minutes. Quite cute.

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AA Gill on Ms. Palin

The Sunday Times is unbeatable. There is no better Sunday paper – at least not of all the English, Swedish and Danish language newspapers I’ve tried over the years. It’s conservative, it’s snobbish, it’s eh, for want of better word, British… But it’s wonderful! We timed it today – a very lazy day indeed. We’ve been reading for six hours! On a daily basis I prefer the Independent and sometimes the Guardian. But not on a Sunday.

One of the great things about it is one of it’s most high-profile writers, AA Gill. He writes in a style all of his own in an English so flamboyant, so flowery, so vibrant, so vitriolic! And on Wikipedia I just read that the man is so dyslectic that he literally can’t write, he dictates all of his articles and books to a copywriter. He does features, travel writing and restaurant reviews. I found an interview with him on the American food-buff site Chow. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything, but I like to have my views challenged (occasionally…).

Picture borrowed from Clive Arrowsmith

Today he writes on the subject on – yes again – the American election. The article is hilariously funny – at least if you’re no great fan of McCain & Palin. About Minnesota, where the GOP convention is held:

This is where the Swedes and Norwegians came to try to whittle Scandinavia out of the hem of Canada. Back home they grew to be the most liberal nations in the world. Here they grew silent and maudlin. There’s a Minnesotan joke – only the one. It goes like this: there was an old Norwegian man who loved his wife so much he almost told her. That was so funny I almost laughed.”

About the choice of Palin:

“Depending on how fundamentally hard right you are, Palin is either a godsend who speaks to the experience of ordinary small-town large-breasted American women and sticks two fingers in the eyes of the coastal latte liberals. Or she’s a hideously embarrassing mistake that will swamp the election in underclass redneck sexual incontinence and that everything is about damage limitation and trying not to think about what would happen if president McCain died and this was the first family. Not so much from igloo to White House as igloo to White Trailer.”

Isn’t he wonderfully vicious? (The article, Redneck Regina, is not yet available online, but I suspect that it will be made available in a few days time.)

Anyway, we discussed this at length at a dinner party last night. Most people around the table had friends, business relations or family or all three in America and several of them known Republicans. But none of them from the religious right. How are they going to vote??? McCain is 72 and looks even older, his health isn’t that good, he’s had several so-called cancer scares and has the five years in Hanoi Hilton in his baggage. And the job as president is rather demanding, isn’t it? You can’t really take a day off? So, this woman will only be the famous heartbeat away from the presidency. Are the not-so-religious, pro-choice, non-members of the NRA, polar bear-friendly Republicans just going to cross their fingers, close their eyes and vote for McCain anyway? Or what?

I’ve got friends and family of the Republican persuasion. And I know some of them occasionally read my blog. If you do, then please enlighten us Europeans on your thoughts upon the matter. We really want to hear!

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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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Boing Boing

I’ve had this Internet directory on my roll for quite some time, but it’s not really until today that I’ve found anything other than curiosities on it. When I looked through it today though, there seemed to be a lot more substantial stuff or maybe I just haven’t paid close enough attention earlier.

This post is about the tendency we all have to embellish a good story AND about how willing we are to believe what we see/read/hear if it “sounds right” or suits our own beliefs. I wonder if that has become worse with the Internet or if it’s always been like that. Think of H. G. Wells and The War of the Worlds.

Here’s about the suspicious and hostile treatment you get in the US immigration – in this case in JFK. On our journey we experienced unpleasantness many times, but luckily nothing like this. We joked about the fact that the only nice immigration officer we met, while in the US, was in fact Canadian…

And here’s a story – or rather a video – that puts what I wrote above into perspective. Should one really believe that this can happen to anyone – ANYONE – in London, here in wonderful, democratic UK????? It sure looks very authentic, but I just don’t want to believe that this could happen to me next time I venture up to London!

The next one is little more than a curiosity, but since it’s about John McCain, I will not hesitate to bring it to you: Here’s the quote from McCain’s own website:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

Although it’s not written by McCain himself (how could it be, he’s just learning to surf the Internet as we speak), it’s still ON his website. A Dungeons & Dragons fan promptly had this t-shirt designed:

The guy who designed it has several cool t-shirts to offer actually. Check this for a cool motif:

Now, where was I? Oh yes, politics, that’s right. There’s also a couple of pointers to stories about people arrested at the Beijing games for drawing attention to Tibet. Brave and admirable people, they are!

And now to something completely different. This is a Danish blogger I’ve been following for years. She has just recently posted one of the most exquisite photo series I think I’ve ever seen on a blog and I really must share it with you! It’s called Laundry. Here’s just one photo from the series:

Thank you, Lisa!

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Will the sight of a boy in a tree become a rarity?

It’s Dane up there in the trees!

The Times and quite a few other media have the story today about a study made by GE Money Bank. The study shows how we spend much more money on boys than on girls. The boys’ sports gear and electronics cost a lot more than the odd bangle, pink mobile phone or black-black eye-liner. A reader comments quite sensibly that we’re still treating boys and girls differently in ways that we shouldn’t (will come back to the ways that we should): Namely for instance by choosing to call a girl’s tennis lessons or music lessons “luxury” while a boy’s football lessons are “necessary”.

The Times then links to an article that so much speaks my heart. How boys just can’t handle sitting down for hours on end and how we’ve become scared of our own shadows and won’t let children out to climb trees and play with the neighbours the way children used to. I agree, traffic is a lot worse than it used to be. But it seems to me that many parents fear the big media beast “the male abductor” even more. Although he’s less prevalent now than he ever was. Also, I so often hear how just about everything is dangerous, the children could fall and hurt themselves. Yes, that’s true. But if we overprotect them throughout their childhoods and never let them experience the consequences of  this and that in relatively safe surroundings, then how will they get along when they grow older and have to?

When I was a little girl – and my parents were very protective of me – I was still allowed to take the bus on my own to school every day. Jaws would have dropped if any of the children had been driven by their daddies to school. Today I think the jaw dropping has reversed. If you don’t drive your child to school in your big gas-guzzling “safe” 4WD, you’re just not doing right by him or her. I walked on my own to violin lessons once a week, right through the neighbourhood where another little girl had just been gruesomely killed. But my mother reasoned that as long as I didn’t stray and didn’t go with strangers – and I had to solemnly promise this many, many times – I would be fine! And I was.

In my child’s preschool (in Denmark) we several times experienced what I found to be weird and very irrational uproars from parents. Once was when a boy fell off the climbing structure and broke his leg. A cry for the instant demolition of the climbing structure. Luckily the school didn’t fall for it. Picture a playground without a climbing structure! YAWN!!! Another time was when my son fell and hit his head on the edge of one of the milk crates they played with endlessly. He had TWO stitches and was perfectly OK the next day. But instantly a cry from some parent to have the milk crates removed. Playground with no climbing structure and no stacking of milk crates. Double YAWN!!! And in a fluke accident with another preschool, a little boy was killed when a tourbus he was a passenger on collided with a tractor. A terrible accident. My heart goes out to everyone involved. But it was the type of accident you can only avoid if you stay in bed for the rest of your life. But some parents instantly said that they would never let their child be transported by bus ever again. Despite the fact that all statistics show that the most dangerous means of transportation on the Globe is daddy’s car…

Oh well, those articles really got me going. Time to cook some supper!

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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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