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2004-12-03 16:14

Everything I learned about reading the 'bladets I learned by reading the 'bladets

In particular, The Indybladet. Which I read from Friday last week to yesterday, neglecting its Sunday sister paper. Somebody suggested, you see, that it would be a good preparation for a bit of social "science", and since I mostly learn about Blighty from 'Wegian 'bladets, my grasp of the minutiae of the domestique political landscape is not what it might be.

I discovered I do quite like the illusion that a whole day's news is linearised onto one tree-derived codex, with no chasing after linkages and no possibility of not noticing that one is skipping all the "World" stuff. (Africa is apparently still screwed, I couldn't help noticing in passing.)

But the (extensive) domestic coverage mostly amounts to politicians' sex lives, and celebrity reality TV, while the (derisory, really) Europe section was reduced into Ukrania coverage that the Interweb does better.

(Apparently a whole week has passed without anything happening in or to Germany, which must have been relaxing for them.)

I might be tempted to continue if I commuted (I hope not) or I could have a 'bladet to peruse over fastbreakning and I was in the habit of breaking my fast before noon.

The above being other than the case, I'm going back to Aftonbladet, thanks all the same.


2004-12-03 nearly weekend! (utc)

Are you kurious oranj?

Lacking, as I most certainly do, both Anna K's intrepidness and her grasp of Slavonic, I exuberate from a nice safe, Englishy distance at the excellence of the Beeb's pressuproundnings. Compare and, if you wish, contrast this:

Parliament has voted no-confidence in the cabinet, but this does not affect anything at this stage. Everything depends on which agreements the opposition and the authorities reach... It may look as if parliament has sacked the government, but Yanukovych will not leave his post unless the president decides so.

Ukrainian pro-government daily Segodnya [boo!]

with this:

Our orange movement is not so much a political campaign as our Woodstock and our May 1968, our Dadaism and our revolutionary velvet. In short, it is our common childhood, which was missing from our too-grown-up history. This is why everybody is looking so young in Kiev, even the old people.

Ukrainian independent daily Den [hoorah!]

and this:

Russia cannot afford to allow defeat in the battle for Ukraine. Besides everything else, defeat would mean velvet revolutions in the next two years, now following the Kiev variant, in Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and possibly Armenia.

Russia's Rossiyskaya Gazeta [yikes!]

Those wacky pa-Russkies, eh? "If we let one vassal tyrrany escape from bondage, they'll all be at it! And besides, the elections were too fair!" And Sovetskaya Rossiya is even scarier!

With service like this I almost wish I paid a license fee.


2004-12-03 samwidge (utc)


1. I am scientiste! Bring me gravy!

Go on, Yoorp, you know you want to:

Europe must make good on plans to set up an independent funding body for science or face an unprecedented brain drain, a leading scientist has warned.

Framework 6, you say? Framework Death By Paperwork, more like!

In Europe, research is funded by individual national agencies as well as the EU's Framework 6 programme (FP6). But FP6 has been criticised widely for being over-bureaucratic, skewed towards big, complex collaborations and subject to political pressures.

There are persons who specialise in training and consultancy pertaining to FP6, and it is not old rope they want money for, for sure.

Do it right, this time, Yoorp!

2. General Certificates of Education, Advanced Level

Known to their many friends as "A-levels", these are what you get at the top end of skool here.

And, unlike Swedish, Dutchy-Double-Dutch rejoices in the possession of such a level:

Since 2001 the A-Level Dutch qualification has been based on a new syllabus and examination format set by the OCR examination board. There are now two 3-hour examination papers called AS and A2. The AS paper consists of reading comprehension, translation into English, and writing tasks. The tasks in the A2 paper are reading comprehension, translation into Dutch, and writing about set topics and/or texts. Each paper is awarded 50% of the total marks. There are no listening or speaking tasks in either the AS or A2 papers.

(Emphasis added.) Dutchy-Double-Dutch for non-native non-speakers! Who could resist?

3. Lardcrisisupdate!

[Previous episode]

A silly-season story in the Manchester Evening News ("Lard stockpiler goes E-bay!") gets sensible half-way through:

The government's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, said it has received reports from supermarkets complaining of a fall in the supply of lard. The Meat and Livestock Commission said the shortfalls could also be traced to Poland and Russia.

"Pig stock in Poland dropped dramatically although demand for processed meat remained the same, so Poland started to import. But Russia also started taking processed meat and lard from the EU so a great deal of processed meat is disappearing into Eastern Europe and Russia," said a spokesman.

The shortfall has led to fears of panic-buying in the run up to Christmas but a Tesco spokesman said its stores were now stocked with lard.

Mmm, lard!


2004-12-03 09:01

Sn + tall Dutchpersons = Romance

Continuing our occasional series of cameo appearances by Dutchy-Double-Dutch ("Dutchwegian"), we have some news of or pertaining to sn:

Morgen opent het Sneeuw- en IJsfestival in Antwerpen zijn deuren voor het publiek. Het ijspaleis is niet alleen artistiek en ontspannend, het biedt ook tal van romantische mogelijkheden.

Tomorrow [i.e., today] the Sn- and Ice festival in Antwerp opens its doors to the public. The ice-palace is not just artistique and exciting, it offers also numerous romantic possibilities.

Well of course it does! Sn + tall Dutchpersons = Romance, for sure (the details are left as an exercise to our Varied Reader).

(This is in point of fact new Phlegmisch-Phlavour Dutchy-Double Dutch, because the original flavour's 'bladets have a tendency to lock up their contents when marauding bands of raiders ride into town. Yee-ha!)


2004-12-02 tea (utc)


1. Hardlanguageoutdropsyndrome hits Germanlanguageteaching

You just can't getthe childrens these days, isn't it?

A survey of drop out rates from German between AS and A-level showed that most students gave up the subject because it was too difficult. Some 74% of participants felt German was the hardest of all the AS-level subjects taken, while 69% felt carrying on with it to A-level would have brought down their overall grades for university entrance.

2. Not quite a brand new leopard-skin pillbox hat, but closing in

It's prinsess Alex! In a lovely zebra-effect hat!

Prinsesse Alexandra fr tydeligere og tydeligere sit eget liv uden for de vante kongelige rammer. Er tirsdag i Falkonersalen p Frederiksberg p banen som protektor for UNICEF Danmark.

Prinsess Alexandra is more and more clearly making her own life outside of the usual royal frame. On Tuesday in Falkonersalen at Frederiksberg she was on the pitch as goalkeeper for UNICEF Danmark.

(A tip of the brand new leopard-skin pillbox hat to Birgitte!)

3. Twinkletree Tallinn trippnings

It's so very cheap, you see:

r du sugen p att julhandla utomlands, och tycker att London och New York r fr dyrt? k till lgprisstaden Tallinn. Fr 2 000 kronor fick jag sju fina klappar - och sparade 1 000 kronor.

Are you keen to do your Christmas shopping abroad, but think London and New York are too expensive? Go to lowpricecity Tallinn. For 2,000 kronor I got seven nice presents - and saved 1,000 kronor.

(I calculate at 10 kronor to the zloty sterling, although that is pretty far from the mark.)

But if you actually read the article, it strongly suggests that Tallinn isn't really so cheap anymore unless (as the article neglects to mention) you're stocking up on booze or (as it does mention) you have an unwholesome fascination with amber and/or knitware.

But they have a Stockmann's and several yummy Hesburger outlets, and it's a day out, after all.


2004-12-02 samwidge (utc)


1. On disintermediation in contemporary political history

Which is to say, Thank you Interweb, for nice Ukraine sources. (Executive summary: the Good Guy does seem to be good; the Bad Guys certainly are bad; the person on the sn-covered streets aspires to EU membership as a guarantee of honest governance rather than a source of gravy. And Polish correspondents are way ahead of everyone else, having taken the precaution of speaking the langwidge.)

2. l and tact!

Remember, Varied Reader, that correlation is not causation! And then read on:

Czech brewers have reacted angrily to claims by Britain's Campaign for Real Ale, or Camra, that the quality of Czech beer is on the decline. Camra says that modern production methods introduced by multinational companies are having an adverse affect on the taste.

It is, as it so often is, technology versus, or seen to be versus, tradition:

What do you say, head of the Czech Beer and Malt Association, Jan Vesely?

In the early 1990s, beer was fermented in wooden vessels. The quality for sure could not be kept at that level, the equipment didn't allow that. They decided to jump from the 19th to the 21st century.

The only aim was to keep the final quality the same - unchanged.

CAMRA earned its place in Englishes hearts by stopping bad-nasty brewing conglomerations killing off tasty English ls in favour of yucky kegged substitutes, you will certainly recall, so it's not as if "Wolf!" is their only cry. But brewing is a form of chemical engineering, and there is no call for fetishising obsolete tech just for that Golden Retro Gl.

Perhaps it is time for this 'bladet to undertake some field research on Czech l quality. Preferably on someone else's gravy train. (Can you imagine how thrilled the British 'bladets would be to hear that we had spent tax-payer's money on this?)

3. Why I am so very relieved

Officials in France's Socialist party say its members have voted "yes" in an internal referendum on whether to back the EU constitution.

A non-story, for sure, but there were threats it could 've gone the other way, and that would have been curtains. The ratification of the EU Constitution is probably the most elaborate international game of Russian Roulette I've ever been emotionally entangled with, for sure, and I anticipate being a nervous wreck by the end of the process.


2004-12-02 morning (utc)

On Coolologie

How cool is "Ever so 'umble" Umberto Eco?

Han r en intellektuell superstar, talar fem sprk flytande, r professor i semiotik, kulturfilosof, historiker med medeltida teologi som specialitet och en msterlig frfattare.

He is an intellektuel superstar, speaks five [5] languages fluently, is a professor of semiotiques, cultural philosopher, a historian specialising in medieval theology and a masterly author.

And his new book is number one (#1) in the Italian fiction charts.


Oh dear, the cool-o-meter's gone again.


2004-12-01 15:20

Wot no Prinshenrik?

By ancient Danish tradition, the husband of a queen by birth rather than marriage is called the Prinshenrik. But Expressen, the honourability of whose motives we doubt, suggests a tweakning:

Om frken Sommerlath frn Tyskland kan gifta sig till drottning i Sverige borde ju till exempel unge herr Westling frn Ockelbo kunna gifta sig till kung.

Enligt den grundlag vi har i dag ska han kallas fr prins. Orsaken r att kung anses finare n drottning, varfr en drottning inte kan vara regent och gift med en kung, allts fr Daniel bli prins. Det r ett solklart exempel p sexism. Sedan 1979 kan bde mn och kvinnor bli regenter - en typiskt likhetsfeministisk reform - och d borde ocks titlarna likstllas. Varfr ska titeln drottning vara underordnad titeln kung nr bda kan vara statschefer?

If Miss Summerlath from Germany can take the title of queen of Sweden on marrying, then young Mr Westling from Ockelbo should surely be able to become king by marriage.

According to the constitutional we have today, he would be called "prince". The reason is that "king" is seen as more prestigious than "queen", so that a queen can't be monarch and married to a king, so Daniel could only be a prince. It's blatant sexism. Since 1979 both men and women can be monarchs - a typical feminist equality reform - and thus the titles should also be made comparable. Why should the title of queen be valued lower than the title king when both can be head of state?

Personally, we consider that "prinsess" outranks "king" or "queen" by a country mile, of course. But if I was going to change anything, which I wouldn't, I'd make it so as kronprinsess Vickan were crowned king herself, and Daniel could be queen. If Expressen were sincere, which it isn't, it would presumably have to address first the question of why girl-monarchs and boy-monarchs need different titles for the same job.


2004-12-01 samwidge (utc)


That's no zombie, it's Paul Ricoeur! And he's being awarded an award!

An 80-year-old American historian, Jaroslav Pelikan, and a 91-year-old French philosopher, Paul Ricoeur, will share the $1 million Kluge prize, created last year to honor achievement in fields not covered by the Nobel prizes.

[Librarian of Congress James H.] Billington, announcing the award he will present on Dec. 8, described Ricoeur's work as drawing "on the entire tradition of Western philosophy to explore and explain common problems: What is a self? How is memory used and abused? What is the nature of responsibility?"

Bra frgor!, as we like to say in 'Wegian.

Also, the 'Vlobs (we don't even have a vendor for the 'Vlobs, anymore):

Paul Ricoeur, 91 ans, est un penseur chrtien (de confession rforme) dont la philosophie a t influence par l'existentialisme et la phnomnologie. [...]

Parmi ses principaux ouvrages figurent Philosophie de la volont (1950-1961), Histoire et Vrit (1955), De l'interprtation: essai sur Freud (1965), La mtaphore vive (1975) ou plus rcemment Soi-mme comme un autre (1990) et Un canard et ses diffrences (1995).

All of which are available in attractive, cheap, Frenchy-French editions. (Except for the one we made up. Did you spot it?)

2. What tree would outshine a prinsess, anyway?

Publicity-shy Norwegish ex-prinsess Mrtha made a rare public appearance with a tree! A recalcitrant tree! Ingrate!

Teknikken var ikke p prinsesse Mrthas side da hun skulle tenne julegranen i Washington D.C., men prinsessen ble reddet av verdensidolet Kurt Nilsen.

The Twinklelights
Put up a fight
When Mrtha came along!

But Kurt stepped in
And plugged them in
And then he sang a song!

3. Upsidedown winter!

Flere steder i staten var temperaturen over 40 grader, skriver Sydney Morning Herald. Men midt i selv byen slapp man unna med omkring 35.

"It's hot enough to boil a badger's bum, Bruce!" chortled Sydney M. Herald.

It's all topsy-turvy, all the time, down there in Upsidownia!

4. Trafalgar's Twinkletree Tra-La-La'ed Toward!

It's from Norway, you know:

The 150-year-old pine tree was cut down in the forests of Oslo and brought across the North Sea as a token of gratitude for Britain's help in the Second World War.

The tradition was celebrated for the 58th time when Oslo mayor Per Ditlev-Simonsen pressed the light switch together with Westminster mayor Catherine Longworth at 6.30pm.

Same procedure as every year!

Hundreds of people braved the biting cold to sing Christmas carols lead by the choir of St Martins in the Field church.

Sing to the Twinkletree, persons! Sing to the Twinkletree NOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW!


2004-12-01 09:39

Skiers and their bodies

Heh. Actually we're ignoring that story, but we always have time for Soarin' Sigurd Pettersen.

Ingenting ble overlatt til tilfeldighetene da hopperne ble beordret opp i vekt i sommer. Sigurd Pettersen har trent seg til en mer aerodynamisk kropp.

Nothing was left to chance when the hoppeurs were ordered to go up in weight over the sommer. Sigurd Pettersen has built up a more aerodynamique body.

New rules, isn't it? Mimimum BMI of 20, or no hoppning. He's had to put on 12 kilos!


2004-11-30 17:45

Dutch word for the day: stroopwafel

Stroopwafel? Stroopwafel!

These delicious Caramel Cookie Waffles (called Stroopwafels by the Dutch) with richly filled chewy centers are one of Holland's true specialties.

I, for one, am happy to reassure any tall handsome wimminly Dutchpersons reading that my advantages as a suitor extend to an unconditional willingness to leave your many stroopwafels, at least, unmolested, if no further.

(This offer also extends to any tall handsome wimminly Dutchpersons neglecting to read, of course, and you can tell them I said so.)


2004-11-30 15:20

Iconoclasm is the new conformity

(This is not intended, of course, to be news to my Varied Reader, whose religious paintnings we would not in any case dream of desecrating.)

But still, end of year booklists? They're rubbish! Speak truth to power, Stephen Moss:

The ideal Christmas books contributor would be JD Salinger, or perhaps George Bush surprising us by saying he'd been reading War and Peace. In Russian. Books editors will routinely write to such figures, asking them whether they would like to contribute. Of course they never hear back, so they turn instead to AS Byatt, Beryl Bainbridge and JG Ballard, who have been giving us their annual selections since Dickens was producing collections of his journalism.

The fatal flaw, which you will of course have already spotted, is that JG Ballard's opinions on anything at all are well worth seeking out.

This is how end of year booklists work:

  1. The intrepid reader skims daintily through the assorted names of the equally assorted Greighton-Goodes, until happening across one whose opinions are of interest!
  2. The intrepid reader reads the associated text!
  3. The intrepid reader lathers!
  4. The intrepid reader rinses!
  5. The intrepid reader repeats!

Imagine, Varied Reader - Varied Intrepid Reader! - just how clever you have been to have been doing exactly this for all these many years!


2004-11-30 12:01

Hark! Is that a jinglning?

(I don't claim I can actually say "jinglning", incidentally.)

Is it sleigh bells a-jingling? Or is it weddning bells? Do they, in fact, toll for thee, kronprinsess Vickan of Sweden?

Enligt Expressens kllor vntas frlovningen ske efter nyr - fljt av ett brllop till sommaren i Storkyrkan invid Stockholms slott.

According to Expressen's sources then engagement or betrothal is expected to happen in the new year - followed by a weddning in the summer in the Bigchurch of Stockholms chteau.

With kronprinsesses Mette-Marit of Norway and Knudella of Danmark already hitched, this would be the last kronprinsessly weddning in 'Wegia for a generation, and is thus extra especially exciting.

(Although Expressen's sources have often been inexact in the past, so we're not knitting our floral tribute just yet.)


2004-11-30 09:57

They seek them here; they seek them there

You may have escaped us up till now, Supersymmetric Pimpernels, but I hardly think you will elude the large hadron collider!

Under the so-called standard model of physics, all fundamental particles fall into two groups: fermions that make up matter and bosons that exchange the forces acting on matter.

In supersymmetry, every fermion has a so-called "superpartner" which is a boson, and every boson has a fermion superpartner.

There's just one teensy-weensy snag with this theory:

"We haven't seen any of the supersymmetric partners yet, and one explanation for this is that these partners have to be heavy," Dr Weidberg explained.

Bah! We will find you, Pimpernels! We will track you to your hyperenergetique Swiss mountain lair, whatever the cost! WE WILL KABOOM AND KAPOW AND KABLAMM EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING!!

Sorry, Nurse. Yes, Nurse, the blue pills.



2004-11-29 16:07

Where's my stuff?

The University of Openness was scheduled to send me Stuff on Friday.

It did no such thing and according to its despatchnings page it still hasn't. I am starting to suffer from stuff deficiency ("rerum insufiencia" in medical terms), a very worrying condition, especially in the run-up to Twinkletree.

And don't be all "Oh you just got a bunch of stuff in Danish"; it's not as if I can actually read Danish or anything.


2004-11-29 samwidge (utc)

Getting their goat (while stocks last)

It's the time of year when the very northerly Swedish town or city of Gvle erects a giant straw goat! And you can see it on their nice webcam!

But hurry, because it is also fairly traditional for the goat to be burned or otherwise destroyed by person or persons typically unknown.

(Bad person or persons typically unknown! No biscuit!)

Anna stman sger att hon hoppas att den eldfngda skapelsen kommer att klara sig igenom vintern.
Vi har ju stor bevakning p den, frutom kamerorna.
Vad fr bevakning?
- Det r otroligt hemligt. Men vi hoppas att den klarar sig, frra ret gjorde den det inte, men ret innan dess gick det ju bra.

Anna Eastman says that she hopes the fire-prone creatin will survive the winter.
"We have of course a great guardning or protection for it, besides the cameras."
What sort of procection, or guardning?
"It is too secret for words! But we hope that it will survive; last year it didn't but the year before it of course went well."

D'you think William Hill, turf accountants, would give me odds on this?


2004-11-29 kaffedags (utc)

Hoorah for stuff!

I've got a copy of Martin "Heigh-ho" Heidegger's Et brev om 'humanismen' in Danish!

Have you got a copy of Martin "Heigh-ho" Heidegger's Et brev om 'humanismen' in Danish?

Thus, I would win. (I've also got Jørgen Staun's Centraleuropæiska forbindelse: EU's østudvidelse, which is significantly more coffeetable than I was expecting.)


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