Category Archives: Oddball entries

The Failure to Enjoy Terry Pratchett

For many years I have heard people I know, and whom I think tend to have similar taste to myself, say how funny the Discworld novells by Terry Pratchett are. Due to this I have multiple times tried picking up ‘The Color of Magic’ hoping to find it very funny. Instead each time I find the book extremely dull and boring. Neither creating ‘funny’ setence-words from the phonetics of the words like insurance or economics or a world whose concepts tries to be funny by outdoing absurdity itself really ever get me to laugh, hardly even smile.

So I guess Terry Prachett will continue to be an undiscovered ‘gem’ for me.

Two movies based on the Hobbit

I have been waiting for a long time for some concrete news about when a movie based on the Hobbit would be made. As most know the movie is stuck in negotiations between two studios who have the rights for production and distribution respectivly. Seems people are expecting those hurdles to be passable now, as they have gone as far as making plans for not one, but two movies made based on Tolkiens ‘The Hobbit’, according to this article in Variety . Looks like Peter Jackson will be back and judging by this interview with Howard Shore the composer behind the music in the LOTR movies, is likely to be back to. Cool stuff! Thanks to TheOneRing.net for the links.

The Curse of a Semi-Free Press

Scanning through a scandinavian newspaper I saw a story about an Iranian acctress called Zahra Amir Ebrahimi who risks multiple years in prison and getting publically whipped after an old camcorder recording of her and a former boyfriend appeared on the internet. Her former boyfriend had according to the article managed to flee to the emirates.

Stories from Iran about young girls, often minors, getting jailed, hanged or physically maimed by the Iranian court system due to both voluntary and forced sexual acts are not a rare occurence in scandinavian media.

What struck me this time though is the fact that all these reports come from Iran, and only Iran. While it could mean that these kind of acts by the government only happens in Iran I do find it a bit unplausible. For instance I would be very suprised if wahabist Saudi Arabia doesn’t have as harsh rules against ‘immorality’ for example.

So I started wondering if the reason why these things do get reported out of Iran is because compared to for instance Saudi Arabia, Iran might actually have freer press and political opposition?

One trait of modern democracy is that the public focus tend to be led by current news stories. News stories are being done as a combination of what is available and what the readers are interested in. So in one sense the countries getting the harshest treatment in international media is the ones who are not totalitarian enough to have destroyed all internal opposition as opposed to those who successfully silences all independent reporting and internal criticism.

So while I in no way defend the acts of the Iranian regime on these issues, it do strike me that maybe they get painted as the worst offender in the region not because they are the worst, but because they actually are the best, in the sense that they at least allow some political discourse and reporting on the subjects. Of course being ‘the best’ in this case is still not very good, but it do put the ‘axis of evil’ in a funny light.

On Africa

Bob Geldoff recently wrote a
essay
in one of Norway’s major newspapers repeating how we should not forget Africa in the face of other problems in the world. The Norwegian minister for foreign aid comments on the article mentioning his agreement and points out that the number of people killed in Rwanda during the conflict there meant that for every third hour the same mount of people where killed in Rwanda that was killed in total during this summers Israel/Lebanon conflict.

Two points strikes me. First of all its a bit dangerous to in some sense rate conflicts based on number killed. Taken to the extreme it would mean that you basically ignore any conflict/problem until it reaches top 3 in death numbers. Nobody is arguing for doing so of course, but every time you do argue with number of dead you are in some sense promoting that view.

On the other side there also is the moral question about why the big
butcherings in Africa tend to fall from public interest quickly while relatively speaking smaller conflicts like the Israel/Lebanon one don’t.

A lot of possible answers of course, ranging from historic importance of Israel to a world heavily influenced by Judaism and its two spin-off religions Christianity and Islam. Bob Geldoff in his article also points out that there might be a general feeling in Europe that Africa is a hopeless case, that no matter what is done so are there seemingly always new and bigger tragedies transpiring there. So maybe people haven’t given up in the same way on the Middle-east yet. That said I do seem to feel a bit of fatigue creeping into the European population on the problems of the middle-east.

International politics

Been lots of political blogging on Planet GNOME recently, which I don’t mind, but I do feel that the political realism in the blogs seems to be going out the window in favour of slogans and quoting of populists.

First of all are there double standards being applied in the world? Yes, there are. Do the US specifically apply double standards to various issues? Definetly. The sad thing though is that the international leaders who critize the US the hardest for its double standards tend to apply even more extreme double standards themselves. Whats more is that unlike the US they do not tend to allow free critique of their own double standards in their own countries.

Is the US doing thing abroad it probably shouldn’t be? Definetly. But to think the world would be a better place with a US government that totally disenganges from international politics is rather hilarious.

Is the UN security council having permanent members with a veto power ‘unfair’? Sure. But a UN not giving the US, Russia and China at least a veto right would quickly become even more irrelevant and ignored than it is today. Idealism is nice, but sometime one must let a little bit of realism into the picture.

But to end this blog with a little sarcasm in the spirit of the populists quoted on the planet recently. If Ahmedinejad want Israel re-located to the Christian world that is easy to accomplish. Just end the muslim occupation of the Byzantine empire :)

Update: Just discovered that Chavez has made Noam Chomsky the number one bestseller on Amazon. For some reason I find that quite amusing :)

Our drug addicted society

Like everyone do sometimes I felt a bit tired today, so I went down to the local shop to buy a bottle of coke and some energy soft drink, both containing Caffeine. For some reason I started thinking about the fact that in the form of Caffeine taken in the form of coffee, tea, cola softdrinks and energy drinks like redbull etc., the world population is on a daily basis drugging itself with what I guess is a form of performance enhancing drug. Combine that with gigantic volumes of weak painkillers based on paracetamol that people are taking to combat headaches and so on I can’t help but feel we have a situation where the world has made itself dependent on drugs to keep going. And while there is of course a big step up to stuff like Amphetamine the principle is the same. Taking drugs to be able to yield/produce more.

Not sure where I am going with this apart from feeling its a bit of a paradox that we have a drug addicted society fighting for ‘clean sports’ and waging a ‘war on drugs’. On the other hand I guess the situation isn’t that different from everyone needing water to survive, yet we still try to help people from drowning :)

End of vacation

So I have been away for two weeks on vacation. While I figured I needed it I don’t think I realized how much I actually needed it :) Spent most of my time in Norway offline, partly by choice. Just spending two weeks relaxing either at home or hiking through the Oslo forest or hanging out with friends. I also grew myself a little beard while on vacation, and I think I will try to keep it around for a while :)

Since my experiment with bringing Norwegian Rakfisk worked our quite will after Christmas I decided to bring along another item of Norwegian food this time. So hopefully later this week I will be able to invite people to a delicous meal based on whale meat.

HP and the GPL3

There is an article on news.com talking about objections from Hewlett Packard to the patent provisions of the GPL3. First of all I hope Hewlett Packard don’t get to much traction on their change suggestion, as their change suggestion looks to me like they make the patent protection provisions of the GPL3 even weaker than those of the GPL2. I think that the GPL is powerful enough at this point to be used as a way to weaken the software patent regime. Bad bad HP.

Dell
On the topic of PC makers, my laptop harddisk broke down yesterday. Luckily we have a on-site support contract with Dell so a technician will be here tomorrow morning to fix it. A bit frustrated that they couldn’t come today, but I guess we are not paying the kind of money to have that kind of availability. By the luck of the gods
I did do a full home area backup Tuesday. So today I am using our spare laptop running from a ubuntu live CD. I will miss my data though, but I guess I can manage until tomorrow.