Monday, 10 December 2007

Overgrown Frat Boys

Does this freak anyone else out? The Republican candidates for America's presidency, at a debate sponsored by a Spanish-language TV channel -- essentially their only pro-immigration audience. Anyway, just look at them! Look at the camera angle! We look up at them, their reflections on the shiny floor make their frighteningly uniform be-suited figures look even taller. They look down at us like some sort of malevolent Big Brothers' club, promising to be Tough on Crime and eradicate social evils like gay marriage. Oh dear lord help us...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Six Reasons to Love Rafael Correa

Maybe you guys know that Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, is the love of my life. Maybe you don't. Anyway, he was elected president last year while I was in Ecuador to the great celebration of the people around me and all over the country, minus the rich ones who would have preferred Alvaro Noboa, the wealthiest man in Ecuador and George Bush's wet dream of a presidential candidate. (I suppose there were also some badly deceived ones who voted for Noboa, because he did manage about 44% of the vote, but the point is, Correa won and decisively too.) One of Correa's main platforms was that he would call for a referendum to create a Constituent Assembly to rewrite Ecuador's constitution and reorganize its political system, because the current one obviously wasn't working -- 9 presidents in 10 years, political instability, etc. This referendum passed last April with about 80% support, which leads me to my first reason why we should all love Correa:

1. Everyone else does; at least everyone who matters (the Ecuadorian people).
Not only did the referendum he called and which had been central to his campaign get 80% of the vote, when the elections were held to form the Constituent Assembly, Correa's party, Alianza PAIS, won 74 of the 130 seats. If that is not enough to indicate that everybody loves him, check out his approval ratings: depending on where you look, from 76 to 90%!
2. He speaks four languages. (Our president barely speaks one.)
Right, so how? Born and raised in coastal Ecuador, obviously he speaks Spanish; after college he did a year of volunteer work in Cotopaxi, a Sierra province right near where I was, where he learned Quechua; he got a Master's in Belgium and also learned French; finally, he got a Ph.D. here in the little ol' USA, where English is king.
3. He stood Bush up and called a speech he made retarded.
Back in September, after my illustrious president made some apparently smolderingly offensive comments about Cuba, Correa didn't go to Bush's UN dinner, explaining that he bailed in protest of what Bush had said in his speech, that "[Bush] has no right to give such a base, retarded speech now in the 21st century." Thank you!
4. He's rather dashing.

(Photo stolen from, as well as, like, everything.)
5. He proposed that Ecuador build a military base in Miami.
Our desperately unfortunate military has been rather outraged that Ecuador is not going to let them renew their lease on an air base at Manta, on the coast, come 2009 when it expires. I mean, ridiculous -- who wouldn't want the US military in their country?! So Correa, in the spirit of compromise, announced in Italy in October, "We'll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami -- an Ecuadorian base." Sounds fair enough to me. What do the good people of Miami say? Exactly what I would: "Absolutely YES!!!!"
6. He's way ahead of the Bali Conference.
When last April, Correa suggested that the international community help Ecuador preserve the air we all share by compensating this small, poor, relatively oil-rich country to leave the oil in the ground, we didn't hear much of it up here in Estados Unidos. (Norway, however, expressed interest, another example of how you Norwegians are more enlightened then us boorish Americans.) These days, it would seem that at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, an international carbon-trading plan called REDD is quite the hot topic. REDD is a plan, according to the New York times, that "would involve payments by wealthy countries to developing countries for every hectare of forest they do not cut down." Okay, so it's about forests, not oil, but does it sound at all familiar? Richer countries helping poorer countries save the planet by compensating them for not harvesting their natural non-resources? Too bad Correa's one of those dreadful Anti-American leftists, so he can't be in the New York Times...

Monday, 3 December 2007

things that should be blogged

first, i need to mention a new discovery i have made. you might already know about this show.
it is called 'trapped in the closet' and it is basically a soap opera in the format of a musical. r kelly wrote it, sings it and he is the man 'trapped in the closet' who can see everything which is going on, in a fly-on-the-wall kind of narrative.
if you're in the mood for something extremely silly, look it up on youtube.
we've had a bit of a debate going on here, whether r kelly is really stupid, or really a comedy genious, or something in between that results in a really funny show. i would like to hear your opinions on the matter.

on a more serious note, i have read a book lately, called 'louis i kahn - conversations with students', and this book is made up of questions that students asked him and his answers. (louis kahn is a famous american architect).
it makes me want to be smart, and it makes me think that maybe i should have studied philosophy instead. well at least louis kahn has some great thoughts about architecture that i wish i could be smart enough to implement into my designs at some point. i especially liked this part, where he is talking about the design of a school:

'i do not think that there should be rooms designated for seminars in a row on a certain floor, because a seminar is really an inspired thing, and you hold a seminar like this one, you sit around and hold it. as soon as you make it on the second floor, with all the seminars lined up, it is no longer a seminar. there isn't the spontaneity in the back of it.'

i wish i could be a bit more philosophical in my thinking about activity, and why and where and how events happen.

else, have you read any heidegger? he is next on my reading to do list.

Foot Fetish Anyone?

This is a hectic time of the year, and laundry has not been very high on my priority list. The situation has not become so very dire that the dirty laundry has become a teeming mass of mold as it did one monsoon in the Mulshi Valley, but it has reached the point where socks, especially tasteful ones, have become a rare luxury. This has led to some interesting anthropological discoveries.

Now, I assume you all know about the (hipster) trend of wearing cute little flat shoes with no socks and skinny jeans. It has been a sort of fall uniform at my (hipster infiltrated) school; I myself have partaken in it. To an extent: I always wear socks.

Well, almost always. Due to the current sock shortage, for a couple of days last week, I wore my cute little flat shoes with no socks (and leggings under a pencil skirt -- see, I can play the hipster game too). I was bewildered by the effects of this minute change: I got so much more attention from the opposite sex than I did with my socks on! There were boys opening doors for me, talking to me, smiling at me; I am not saying that there were so many of them, but certainly there were far more than usual. A couple of days later, my toes were cold and the socks went back on (under black wide-leg pants -- I know, I know, not quite keeping up with the hipsters). I had to open every door I walked through myself: it seems that bare feet are way sexier than socked ones.

So here are my questions:
(a) Am I imagining this phenomenon? I would like to propose a scientific experiment in which we each wear cute little flat shoes without socks for a week and then with socks for the next week, all the while systematically measuring the attention we get from stranger-boys. However, the snow has come (yesterday!) to New York, and I imagine to Glasgow and Tromso as well, so the cute little flat shoes will have to hibernate for the winter and going without socks is ludicrous. Perhaps next spring -- but then the little flat shoes won't be fashionable anymore, omg.
(b) Assuming that I am not imagining this, what is it all about? I have heard about foot fetishes, but I always thought they had to do with the overall shape of the foot. The plane of flesh left exposed by a sock-less flat is just mildly sloping, bony, and in my case, pale. I do not see how this can increase one's desirability. Then again, I also do not see how the numbers and letters my teacher is scratching on the blackboard imply a non-standard shifted ellipse. But apparently, they do.

Whatever, Asshole; or, Funny Things that Have Happened to Me at NYU

You know, it seems I am becoming a regular old Miss Manners. I am slightly worried about how bitchy and judgmental(1) I seem to be:
- Every time I go into the lower level study area of the library, I remark disapprovingly to myself about the way people leave trash on the desks -- unspeakable, I think! I mean it is sort of a universally basic principle of EVERYTHING to clean up after oneself. Jeez.
- Last night in that lower level study area of the library I certainly did raise an eyebrow at a girl plugging her laptop into the unoccupied plug on my desk without a word to me, then just leaving the computer there with a whispered, "I'm just going to leave this here while it charges." "Okay..." I whispered back, but she was long gone. Of course, it was fine; there was no problem. Her laptop was not in my way and in any case my charger was in Brooklyn (oh absentminded me) so I wasn't going to use the plug anyway. But usually you would expect someone to ask, out of courtesy. I mean I would just never do what she did. It's amazing how much the four little words "Do you mind if..." would have changed my wrathful feelings to the Entitled Laptop Girl.
-Entitled Laptop Girl is right up there on the sneering shock scale with the time I saw a girl in one of the dining halls break off a chunk of one of the cookies on the common plate, and walk away, munching on it happily. The rest of the cookie sat there looking like a rat had munched on it, her greasy little finger prints allover it. Now this is not just disrespectful to everyone else in the cafeteria, it is gross.
-A more overt and funny form of rudeness appeared in my social work class last week, when a girl with a permanently sour expression on her face was bitching to the oh-so-sympathetic teacher (the one who says that there are eight million people in Norway) about the evil New York public school system(2): her desperately unfortunate eight-year-old brother is forced to practice cursive for "like three hours a day," and she did not see any good reason for that. I pointed out that at his age, learning cursive is also about developing motor skills not just learning an archaic style of writing. She cut me off: "Oh, I know. I'm going to school for occupational therapy. Believe me, I know." Excuuuuuuuuse me.

Aaaaagh what is going on here? It's the demise of common courtesy. Bitches.

(1) This is an interesting word. It has two acceptable spellings! "Judgmental" is the more common one, but "judgemental" is also technically correct according to my dictionary, although the Blogger spell-check disagrees. I use them both, but I have recently started to favor "judgmental", because many people might mistake "judgemental" for a misspelling. Another word with two different spellings that I particularly like is "kerb" -- or should I say "curb"? I think that technically "kerb" is British and "curb" is American, but they are both considered correct over here. I learned this incredulously during a game of Scrabble with my dad. Now I use "kerb" exclusively (even though my Blogger spell-check continues to disagree) because I think it is cool and it is so different from the common spelling that it could not be interpreted as a simple error. Hoho, bringing back the footnotes! Sofie, remember when we got really into footnotes? And how I had like 3000 words of them on my EE?
(2)The NY public school system is, if I may add, one of the best in the country, with an average student:faculty ration of 13:1 as opposed to California's 21:1. These numbers are from my sociology teacher, who actually does check his statistics before broadcasting them.

Dance in the street

So, what has been up beloved ones, in the big apple and in rock city? I'll start this post by trying to create a little atmophere discription of the Paris of the north. Key words are darkness, snow, northern lights and Christmas decorations. That's for the visual description. This Saturday we had a little party, (a three-people-party, so can hardly be called a party but anyway) and then we went to town to get some drinks and see some peeps. I hadn't been out for a long time because of my exams, so it was really nice. And the nice thing about Tromsø is that it's such a small town, but still kind of big, and all the pubs and bars are concentrated in one small area, pretty much. This Saturday the street was full of people everywhere and there were street musicians with accordions and guitars and everybody were dancing around in the street! That was my perception anyway, but I was slightly drunk. But people were dancing, that's for sure, and it is just so nice; darkness, snow and the warmth of people. But now it's time to travel down south again. This Saturday I'm flying to Oslo, but before I go home to Mandal I'm going to visit Sigrid and Christopher in their homes. And then comes family time and Sofie time around new years eve.

Exams aren't over yet unfortunately. This week I am writing my home exam in philosophy which is far far beyond me. So that is what I should be doing this very moment, but in stead I'm writing a rather lousy blog post which doesn't really evolve around important issues of the world. But one ting I can tell you: if you don't have one already, get yourself this device (which I don't know the name of in English) to steam milk with! It increases your life quality to have steamed milk in your coffee (especially if it is espresso coffee). But I think my coffee consumption, which has been rather extensive lately, is giving me yellow teeth.

And it you haven't guessed already – the picture is of the transsibirian railway which I definitely think we should hop on and go to India.