Thursday, 2017-08-17

Fotografiska, August 2017

Irving Penn — Resonance

A greatest hits collection. I like Penn better than a lot of other fashion photographers in that he has a bit more range.

Berning & Di Battista — Confluence

A pretty vapid collection of huge prints of scratched images of stereotypical blonde models. Forgettable.

Like a Horse

The sleeper hit of this visit. Great collection of works centered around horses and the people who ride and care for them. Horse culture is coded feminine here in Sweden and it was great to see that side shown in the work from Swedish artists.

Saturday, 2017-03-18

Fotografiska, March 2017

Ren Hang — Human Love

Whatever one thinks of Hang and his significance to photography there’s no doubt he was a talented artist. He managed to transform the human body into art - disturbing, sculptural art. There is little eroticism in his work, more interest in creating sculptures from bodies.

Cooper & Gorfer — I Know Not These My Hands

Vast, photoshopped canvases of Nordic minorities in traditional garb - or modern recreations thereof. This left me entirely cold.

Patrick Demarchelier — Lumière

Standard B&W magazine portraits from the 90’s, fun for nostalgia’s sake but shopworn and almost devoid of meaning outside the significance the subjects have in the wider cultural context.

Sunday, 2017-03-12

Drive-By Truckers, Södra Teatern Kägelbanan 2017-03-12

Finally got to catch this band live! It was a good crowd too, which is fun as as far as I know DBT are pretty unknown in Sweden. I hope we didn’t disappoint by being Swedish and reserved.

Great support by Ellen Sundberg.

Monday, 2017-03-06

Lloyd Cole, Södra Teatern 2017-03-06

A return to the same venue as 4 years ago but sadly with not as good a show. The songs were limited to the “glory days” of 1983-1997, and this undersells Cole as a songwriter. He’s continued to evolve within the guitar-based singer-songwriter tradition he inhabits, so just singing songs so familiar as to be threadbare was a bit of a cop-out.

Tuesday, 2017-01-31

Exhibitions, Jan 2017

Salongsmåleri?!, Waldemarsudde

A fascinating view into the genre of salon or Academy art, as defined by the Paris Salon. Characterized by large canvases, and attention to (not always accurate) detail, this style of painting fell out of favor when Modernism came along.

In the same exhibit the photographer Miss Aniela showed huge prints of digital composites in the same vein, although these were “pure” images without the intellectual baggage of the classical paintings, where you needed to have some sort of mythical background to excuse showing nude young ladies.

The interesting contrast was between the very polished digital photographs and the photorealistic paintings, where the brushwork and texture made them almost more lifelike than the photos ostensibly taken from “real life”. Made you think!

Fria Fotografers Filial, Kulturhuset

In the 80s a gallery in Stockholm had shows with non-established photographers, without explicit curation. The concept is back in probably the most central space in Stockholm, and it was worth a visit. It’s an interesting cross-section of what experienced photographers consider good enough to show. Among the dross of cheesy travel pics (hi from Cuba!) and just-in-time ruin porn from the ongoing Slussen rebuilding, there was some good stuff.

Jens Olof Lasthein - Meanwhile Across the Mountain, Galleri Kontrast

Panorama images of life in the Caucasus, mostly of everyday life. Interesting glimpse into a world forgotten in the eyes of the West.

Thursday, 2014-03-13

Monument to Descartes

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René Descartes famously died 1650 in Sweden, either from old age and disease, or from being overworked trying to tutor Sweden’s Queen Christina. As a Roman Catholic, he was buried among unbaptized infants in what is now the cemetery of Adolf Fredrik’s church. In 1666 his remains were moved to France.

In the 1770s, Gustav III of Sweden wished to honour the philosopher with a monument in the newly built church. The sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel received the commission, and cleverly incorporated a separate commission from the dowager queen Lovisa Ulrika into the design. This design, “Truth freed from its Shroud of Lies” was meant to honour an executed nobleman who had plotted to increase the power of the royal house.

The sculpture, rendered in lead, hangs on a pillar to the right of the altar in the church. The cherub unveiling the globe of Truth bears the likeness of Gustav III, the “Enlightenment King”.

In 2006 a friend of mine from my student days, David Sjögren, died after falling through the ice on a long-distance ice skating trek. His memorial service was held in Adolf Fredrik to accomodate all those wishing to pay their respects.

David was of French and Austrian extraction and the service was a Catholic one, in French. I’ve only lately noticed the connection.

Sources

Friday, 2014-02-21

On Ukraine

I must confess I really haven’t read up much about the current situation in Ukraine, but through the magic of coincidence and the Internet, the following three items came to my attention yesterday:

Neither piece offers the whole story, but read together they show the many facets of this complicated story.

Wednesday, 2013-09-25

Lloyd Cole, Södra Teatern 2013-09-24

Images from Rockfoto.nu are here

I’m a huge Lloyd Cole fan, ever since those heady days of my early 20s when his songs seemingly spoke directly to my experiences.

It’s obvious he realizes that his fans discovered him in those heady times and they’re now, like him, graying and slightly pudgy.

It was an acoustic set, even though his latest album Standards is his rockiest in a long while. He joked that while on his last show here he’d seen grown men weep, this time he’d see them sleep instead. While there were some slow numbers I at least was captivated throughout.

I tried keeping track of the songs in the set but a kindly person sitting behind me thought I was tweeting and tapped me on the shoulder. So I will have to rely on scattered memories.

A highlight was the back to back playing of “Blue Like Mars” from the latest album, and “No Blue Skies” from his self-titled solo debut in 1990 “No Blue Skies” is my favorite song and, if it weren’t a bitter lament over a bad breakup, a good candidate to be played at my funeral. “Blue Like Mars” is similar in structure, sure, but I think he should be allowed to revisit songs after 23 years.

Another great moment was a song from the Commotions album Easy Pieces called “Perfect Blue” (yeah, he likes “blue” apparently) which never really gripped me as a fully arranged pop song but absolutely captivating with just a guitar.

The show was apparently sold out so I’m happy I got a ticket. He’s hoping to return in a year with a backing band, and I’ll sure try to catch him again if he does!

Thursday, 2013-05-16

A visit to the Eternal City

My dad very generously invited me and my son (just turned 11) to Rome for a long weekend. We arrived Wed 1 May and left on Sunday.

We had a great time although you really need a much longer time to see all of the sights of Rome. Here’s a rough itinerary of what we saw and didn’t see.

A map of our wanderings can be seen here. In total, we covered 35km on foot, but that’s not counting interior walking around in some museums.

Decent walking shoes are a must in Rome.

Navigation: First day, second day, third day. Photography notes.

Arrival day

Our hotel (the Villa San Pio) was situated on the Aventine Hill, not far from the famous keyhole through which you can see the dome of St Peters framed. It’s a nice quiet neighborhood, rendered almost sepulchral by May Day. Viking and I arrived first and spent the afternoon doing some sightseeing (and buying icecream!) before meeting Jan.

Jan

First day

We walked from the Aventine to the Colosseum. A long queue to get in may be bypassed by the Roma Pass which also has a 3-day travel card. We never got it but check it out before going to Rome. There are a lot of museums that accept it, but not the Vatican.

Included in the ticket to the Colosseum is access to the Forum, right next door. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit it. Budget a whole day to these two sights.

Colosseum

Next, we walked a few hundred meters to the tourist information center just off Via dei Fori Imperiali. This is situated in a quiet courtyard and there’s a little café serving foccacia and the like. It has a bathroom too, recommended.

We then headed past the Vittoriano and up towards the Trevi Fountain. If you’re not sure if this is one of the most famous sights in the world the crowds of tourists will remind you. It was almost comical. One wonders how much it costs to close off the streets to make a movie with the fountain as a backdrop.

Last stop was the Spanish Steps, also absolutely packed with tourists. After that we headed home via the Metro.

In the evening, we walked to Trastevere across the Tiber and found a decent if not great pizza place.

Second day, a.k.a. Vatican Day

The Vatican Museum was mentioned in our guidebooks as being an absolute beast, one of the largest in the world, but if you were in a hurry (which we kinda were, dragging an 11-year old with limited patience for ancient artworks) you can sprint to the Sixtine chapel and back, hitting the highlights on the way.

We got up early on Friday morning and took the no. 23 bus to the neighborhood of the Vatican. However, when we arrived, the queue to the museum stretched around 2 blocks (half a kilometer according to Google Maps)! We took a long look at is then headed south to the basilica itself. A later perusal of the website suggested that booking a guided tour allows you to bypass the queues, check that out if you’re in a hurry.

The queue to the basilica was long as well (doubling back on itself while we dithered), leading us to take the command decision to try later in the day, and instead head across the Tiber to the Campus Martius. We visited the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and then wound our way southwards to the Campo dei Fiori. After a rather disappointing lunch we hopped on the no. 23 again and revisited the Basilica, arriving at around 5pm.

Piazza Navona

Success! The crowds were gone. The reason for this may have been the fact that half the cathedral was reserved for a procession of German Catholics on a pilgrimage, so we never got the chance to visit the crypt. We did however ascend to the cupola an its magnificent view.

View from the cupola of San Pietro

A final journey on the no. 23 (we were now quite fond of this bus) deposited us back in the Testaccio and a fine dinner of liver at a local restaurant (Il Cantinone, opposite Piazza Testaccio).

Third day (Saturday)

Our plans for this day was to visit the Galleria Colonna, a (still) private palace open once a week for visitors. But first I wanted to get my fix of Bernini, so we took the Metro to Republicca and walked a few blocks to S. Maria del Vittoria, where his Ecstasy of S. Teresa of Avila resides. Then we followed Via del Quirinale to his elliptical Sant’Andrea al Quirinale.

Sant'Andrea al Quirinale

We passed the Quirinal Palace, which has a museum annex, the Scuderie, showing an exhibition of Titian’s best works. This was not to be missed, on the risk of emptying Viking’s limited reservoir of enthusiasm for art. We saw some famous works, among them the portrait of Charles V and Danaë and the shower of gold.

The contrast between this exhibit and the Galleria Colonna couldn’t be greater. The Titian was clean and stark, the famous works lighted in dim gray rooms, protected by wireless alarms. Each was a legitimate priceless piece of art. The Galleria showed how art was exhibited in the 18th and 19th centuries, not carefully curated, but quantity before quality. The walls and ceiling are a riot of colour and gold leaf, all designed to convey the wealth and status of the Colonnas.

Galleria Colonna

After this we found a very nice restaurant (Antica Birreria Peroni, Via si San Marcello, 19) for lunch, then wandered back to Repubblica, looking at shops. We swung by the Capuchin monastery by Piazza Barberini to check out their creepy crypt skeleton sculptures, then meandered through small streets, getting more and more tired in the heat and crowds.

Finally we got a bus and hopped off near the Campidoglio. Our last stop was Michelangelo’s famous piazza, filled with elegantly clothed people waiting for wedding couples to register in the town hall, watched by the statue (or copy thereof) of the mounted Marcus Aurelius. A fine summation of the different stages of Roman history.

Piazza del Campidoglio

After getting on yet another bus we rounded out our evening with cut-to-measure pizzas at Volpetti Più, around the corner from Volpetti’s famous delicatessen.

On the last day the rain started, matching our mood at having to leave this fascinating city!

Photography notes

I shot with my D700 and a 3-prime kit: 28mm ƒ/3.5, 50mm ƒ/1.8 AF, and 105mm ƒ/2.4. The 28mm was used most, followed by the 50mm, and the 105mm only used for a panorama.

The use of the 28mm has led me to try to get a light travel zoom starting at that focal length at the wide end. I felt I missed a few shots (mostly of architectural details) because it was too much of a hassle to change lenses.

This was also the first time I used the Peak Design Capture system for a longer time, and I must say I was very happy with it. I used the clip attached to my Domke strap and it really helped to have the camera on hand all the time. I only used the Cuff when shooting my pano form the cupola, not wanting to earn eternal damnation by dropping my Nikon onto the head of the Pope.

Friday, 2013-04-12

Out of Neutral

Neutral is a podcast about cars from a trio of geeks, Marco Arment, Casey Liss, and John Siracusa. I liked it because I’m more a general tech person rather than a car person and this is a podcast for people like me.

After 12 episodes it’s reached the end of this run, but it’s worth listening to unless you’re hate BMW’s which these guys love. Actually the only boring parts are when Marco gets a bit too involved in the minutiae of BMW models. Fair warning: last episode is basically an unpaid ad for BMW’s European delivery service, but I still enjoyed it.

Sunday, 2013-04-07

Show your work

My wife and her sisters were discussing the need to “show your work” when it comes to their kid’s math problems. They were of the opinion that it’s not needed, it’s enough to present the correct answer.

I’m not sure that this is a good idea, and that showing how you arrived at an answer is usually a valuable teaching method.

The importance of showing your work is increased at higher levels of education. I had a course in vector analysis during my first year at KTH where you could basically pass the exam by guessing that the answer was either zero or the null vector. Accordingly, each exam paper said that answers that didn’t show how you arrived at the answer would not get any credit.

Thursday, 2013-02-14

Week numbers

If you live in Sweden and have a passing connection to children (you may have one or more, or you’re at a workplace where people are breeders) it’s hard to avoid mentions of week numbers.

This is because that for schools (and in extension, pre-schools) find week numbers convenient for any number of uses. The school year is naturally divided into weeks, so it’s very usual to see directions such as “we are planning a theater visit in week 44”.

Another week number that’s become almost iconic is “vecka 9” (week 9), which refers to the annual sports vacation, of a week’s duration, in Stockholm and surrounding latitudes[1]. As this is a week when lots of people head north to the Swedish ski areas this is a linchpin for vacation planning.

Thinking of weeks comes in handy for vacation planning too. Swedes have long vacations so covering the entire summer vacation season can be quite complicated. The week is a good unit to address this.

If you’re unsure of the ISO week number you can visit the single-serving website Vecka.nu which will help you out. If you’re on a unix, try date +%V.[2]

I’m interested to know if this common outside Scandinavia, though. Mundane daily items such as school schedules are one of the things that are seldom exposed in popular culture, so I have no idea how a school year is presented in the US or the UK, for example.

[1] In the south of Sweden this is week 8.

[2] %W may give you the week that starts on the first Monday, man strftime is your friend in these cases.

Wednesday, 2013-01-16

Aimee Mann, Nalen 2013-01-15

Rockfoto.nu has images.

Set list:

  • Disappeared
  • Gumby
  • Labrador
  • You Could Make a Killing
  • Lost in Space

Banter and backstory about making The Forgotten Arm into a musical, and having lunch with Aaron Sorkin.

  • Living a Lie - duet with support Ted Leo
  • Charmer

Band intro.

  • That’s Just What You Are
  • Ray
  • Save Me - solo
  • Wise Up
  • One
  • Slip and Roll
  • Soon Enough
  • Goodbye Caroline
  • It’s Not Safe

Break.

  • Red Vines
  • 4th of July
  • I’ve Had It
  • How am I Different

Monday, 2013-01-07

Our trip to Malaysia 2012

We flew to Malaysia over Christmas, and returned on New Year’s Eve.

You can see some posts and pics over on my Tumblr.

TL;DR: it was awesome.

Thursday, 2012-06-07

Life as a social sharecropper

The latest news that millions of hashed LinkedIn passwords are in the wild pushed me over the edge when it comes to “optional” social networks like LinkedIn. Like Frank I have long felt that LinkedIn is just a waste of time. I don’t get anything out of it and I’m tired of the spam from them. So I removed my account, even though they tried hard to keep me from doing so.

What do I mean by “optional”? Well nowadays, there’s one network you have to be a part of, and that’s Facebook. Not because it’s the best, far from it, but it’s become a de-facto authentication service and “real-name” locator for netizens. Personally I just use FB for certain circles (shall we call them the less tech-savvy and leave it at that ;) ) and for stuff like meeting invites. I usually see emails when there are updates that I need to check.

Then there’s the Google network, where I’ve been a happy user of Gmail and Reader for years but have now been promoted to “Google+” which feels very “me-too” compared to FB. But so far the utility I get from Google outweighs the creepy feel of Google+. I don’t bother using it.

Another network is Twitter, and yet another is Tumblr. There’s a lot of overlap, but they fill different niches. A third is Flickr, which is of course good for my photos.

My point is that different networks are good for different people, and in different periods of their lives, and for different interests. The challenge facing Facebook and Google+, in their current incarnations, is being good enough for a lot of people to make money off them.

The problem with LinkedIn, in my case, was that I simply wasn’t using it. It’s a social network for people who work. That’s not what I use my social networks for, I use them to relax. However, if they hadn’t messed up and got their passwords stolen, I would probably have remained a user.

Tuesday, 2011-05-17

Copenhagen meetup 2011

20110506-GER_2957.jpg

Louisiana

.

Wednesday, 2010-09-29

[SvSe] Ett annat valsystem

Jag måste erkänna att jag aldrig reflekterat över hur vårt valsystem fungerar tidigare. Jag har haft en vag aning om hur rösträkning gått till, men det är först i år som jag satt mig ner och kollat hur mandaten fördelas.

Ett av fundamenta i ett proportionerligt valsystem är hur mandaten fördelas utifrån röstetalen. Sverige använder en variant av uddatalsmetoden (Sainte-Laguë) där första divisorn är jämkad från 1 till 1,4[1]. En annan variant är d’Hondts metod, där divisorsföljden är 1,2,3,4… [2].

Sverige är indelat i valkretsar, och 310 av riksdagens 349 mandat fördelas mellan dem. Resterande 39 mandat är utjämningsmandat. Det finns en spärr på 4% i riksdagsvalet, och jämkningen i sig ger en viss fördel för större partier i mandatfördelningen[3].

Jag blev nyfiken på följande fråga: hur hade valresultatet sett ut om landet varit ett enda valdistrikt, jämkningen togs bort, och vi tog bort 4%-spärren? Med hjälp av statistik från Valmyndigheten[4] och lite Perl så fick jag fram följande resultat:

Mandatfördelning med olika fördelningsmetoder

Nuvarande Utan jämkning,
hela landet som valkrets
Utan jämkning,
med valkretsar
M 107 105 (-2) 104 (-3)
C 23 23 24 (+1)
FP 24 25 (+1) 25 (+1)
KD 19 19 19
S 112 107 (-5) 107 (-5)
V 19 20 (+1) 19
MP 25 26 (+1) 26 (+1)
SD 20 20 21 (+1)
FI 0 1 (+1) 1 (+1)
PP 0 2 (+2) 2 (+2)
SPI 0 1 (+1) 1 (+1)

Jag har jämfört det riktiga valutfallet[5] med att köra utan jämkning och 4%-spärr, både med hela landet som en enda valkrets och med nuvarande ordning med regionala valkretsar och utjämningsmandat.

Samtliga “större” småpartier (FI, PP, samt SPI) får minst ett mandat om man slopar spärren. Dom större partierna förlorar en del på slopad jämkning, S förlorar mest.

Om man räknar blanka röster som giltiga skulle dom få 4 mandat! Detta är dock inte redovisat.


[1] Valmyndighetens översikt av den svenska mandatfördelningen

[2] Wikipedia om Sainte-Laguë och d’Hondt-metoderna

[3] Fast inte så mycket man som man kan tro, enligt artikeln av Lanke & Bjurulf här (PDF).

[4] Valmyndighetens statistiksida om riksdagsvalet 2010

[5] Slutlig protokoll för 2010 års riksdagsval [PDF]

Monday, 2010-09-27

[SvSe] Kulturkampf!

SD tycker att offentliga medel ska ges till hembygdsföreningar och folkdanslag istället för till sånt som kan “provocera och chockera”. Sveriges Hembygdsförbund verkar måttligt roade:

Det är […] SHF:s övertygelse att ett levande kulturliv förutsätter ett kraftfullt offentligt stöd och att kulturutövare och kulturproducenter tillåts verka på armlängds avstånd från politiker. Det är vår uppfattning att ökad politikerstyrning av kulturformer i förlängningen utgör ett hot mot grundläggande medborgerliga fri- och rättigheter.

SDs presschef Mattias Karlsson vet hur detta ska besvaras:

Uppmanar alla sverigevänner att bli medlemmar i Sveriges hembygdsförbund och rösta bort den svenskfientliga ledningen vid nästa årsmöte.

“Om du vill ha en bild av framtiden, så tänk dig en hambodans över nedslitna dukar, för evigt.”

Sunday, 2010-09-26

[SvSe] Broderskaparnas debattartikel

Många vill vara med och förklara varför Socialdemokraterna gjorde sitt sämsta val på drygt hundra år. Sveriges kristna socialdemokraters förbund (Broderskaparna) skriver i en debattartikel i DN:

Socialdemokratins idé bygger på insikten om att ett jämlikt samhälle är bäst för alla. I resan från brutalt klassamhälle till modernt folkhem organiserade vi dem som fanns på samhällets botten att kräva sin rätt. Vi lyckades väva samman arbetarnas och den växande medelklassens intressen i ett generellt välfärdssamhälle så att vi haft folkets förtroende att leda landet i 65 av de snart 90 år som Sverige haft allmän rösträtt. Ändå föredrar väljarna en politik som väljer det omvända perspektivet – att bygga samhället uppifrån i stället för nerifrån.

Är det så konstigt att ett parti som varit så dominerande så länge mist sin lyskraft? Särskilt när det av många väljare uppfattats att det är S som har byggt samhällen uppifrån, genom att med skatter och lagar “lägga livet till rätta”.

I storstäderna och universitetsorterna – där det nya tjänstesamhället ersatt industrisamhällets kultur – har en ansvarskännande medelklass uppfattat oss som värnare av system, snarare än av medborgares behov. Man är beredd att betala för ett samhälle som håller ihop, men är skeptisk till kollektiva lösningar och angelägen om att de egna vardagsproblemen kan lösas snabbt och effektivt. Man vill ha valfrihet i skola och vård, men förväntar sig att politikerna tar ansvar för att det inte leder till ökad segregation.

En bra analys.

När Moderaterna förändrade sin retorik, stal våra honnörsord och framstod som mindre hotande, var många ur storstadens medelklass beredda att rösta blått.

Här skrivs historien om något. S har tappat i storstäderna under en lång tid, före “det nya arbetarpartiets” lansering. Utvecklingen har varit tydlig, vilket uppfattas:

Däremot har vi som socialdemokrater ett stort ansvar, som sett utvecklingen komma, förstått konsekvenserna av den borgerliga politiken, men ändå inte förmått formulera en modern vänsterpolitik.

För 30 år sedan speglade en socialdemokratisk riksdagsgrupp eliten av de politiskt engagerade. I dag samlar den eliten av dem som blev kvar.

Eliten dras till vinnare, sedan 30 år har S uppfattats som ett förlorande lag.

En frihetlig och framtidsorienterad socialdemokrati måste lyssna in men också göra upp med både vänstertraditionalisternas nostalgi och högerförnyarnas marknadsiver. Den måste organisera den nya underklassen, den klassiska arbetarklassen och en ansvarskännande medelklass.

Ett bra mål! Men vad är “ansvarskännande medelklass”? Vad är motsatsen? Och hur stor är den i jämförelse?

Min uppfattning är att Socialdemokraternas genomklappning i årets val beror på flera faktorer:

  • långt gången nedgång kopplad med brist på förnyelse
  • en borgerlig regering som fört en framgångsrik ekonomisk politik
  • en kontroversiell partiledare
  • Sverigedemokraternas genombrott

Man får inte glömma att Moderaterna fick sitt genombrott när man slutligen(?) la ner skattegnället, accepterade det moderna välfärdssamhälle som S drivit igenom och sa “det här är bra, men det kan bli bättre! Vi har idéerna”.

Socialdemokraterna är lite offer för sin egen framgång. Dom har skapat ett samhälle som dom flesta gillar, och nu ses dom som onödiga. Jag tycker inte dom är det, men dom måste komma med något nytt om dom åter ska bli

statsbärande också i det framtida mångkulturella, globaliserade kunskapssamhället.

Wednesday, 2010-05-19

A visit to Poland

I headed down to Kraków the weekend before last to hang out with my good buds Jedrek, Mike and Jan. We’d rented 2 apartments in the old town, and spent 3 days hanging out, shooting, and drinking lots and lots of Tyskie beer and sour cherry vodka.

West Ost

I really enjoyed the city, even if it’s clear it’s a bit of a tourist trap (the flights were full of Swedish high school kids going to visit Auschwitz, and the sight of that labour camp being touted as a destination on par with the salt mines by tour guides was a bit jarring). It’s clear that Poland has made great strides since 1990, and it’s heartening to see the Polish people reach towards their full potential, free of the imposed dead hand of the Soviet-sponsored Communist regime.

Jezus Królem Polski

It was the Kraków Photo month, and the theme was British photography. We attended a mini lecture by Martin Parr, and saw some great exhibitions in the different spaces in town. Among the higlights were Mark Power’s exhibition and some prints by John Davies.

I never did get around to visit Auschwitz, which I was more interested in as a meta-visit, that is, I was more interested in the way the message is presented rather than the message itself. But in the end it turned out that we didn’t have the time to go together and I didn’t want to make the trip on my own.

Kraków reminded me a lot of Lund when I was a student there, and I’m happy I was able to visit it during warm weather before torrential rainfall flooded the city. I’m happy I got the time to visit Poland and I hope to be able return soon.

Saturday, 2010-01-30

Back from Dubai

Work flew us all to a hotel in Dubai for our annual conference. I’m back, safe and sound, although tired.

Dubai is… weird.

The place it reminds me most is the final part of the city in the video game “Crackdown”. Huge glass-clad towers limned in neon, and of course the world’s tallest building Burj Dubai Khalifa [1] standing in for the Agency Tower.

Burj Khalifa

I also get the feeling that the excesses of the expat lifestyle contrasted with the privileges of the Emirati elite will result in a novel or movie by this generation’s Bret Easton Ellis channeling William Gibson.

In retrospect it’s obvious that the outer signs of prosperity —the giant buildings, the lavish artificial islands, the ultramodern metro — were not the result of brilliant free market policies by the autocratic ruling family but were instead a combination of the global hunt for returns and a sovereign state’s implicit gaurantee from default. Dubai wasn’t defying the property bubble, it was its apotheosis, and the needle-like Burj Whatever looks like the the pin that burst it. Thousands of speculators lost a lot of money and multiple thousands more poor migrant labourers lost their livelyhood.

The place is ghostly, the malls inhabited by wide-eyed tourists arriving six months too late and listless vendors.

Dubai

Without the debt pumping the economy, there are few attractions. It’s hellishly hot and humid in summer, the prices are high, the rigidly Muslim society frowns on stuff that creative types like, such as public displays of affection, alcool, and sex out of wedlock. I’ll be seriously surprised if Dubai is even a player in a decade.

[1] Sheikh Khalifa, president of the UAE, personally bailed out the project to the tune of $10bn and got the tower renamed after him. No-one has got around to updating the lavish presentation of the building in the visitor’s area: it’s refered to Burj Dubai throughout.

Wednesday, 2010-01-06

Slack like an Egyptian

So, we’re back after two weeks of all-inclusive at the Grand Makadi hotel near Hurghada on the Egyptian Red Sea. It’s been an awesome trip, very nice for the entire family (my parents, my sister and her partner + 2 kids, and us five).

Grand Makadi

Of course, we’ve been cocooned in a resort environment nearly the entire time but the Red Sea area is basically devoid of cultural artifacts[1] anyway, seemingly consisting entirely of sand, speculative construction, and half-naked Russians.

The sea is amazingly clear though, and we had some good snorkeling right outside the hotel (hotel placement is largely guided by the quality of the beach and reef). I managed to catch a glimpse of two dolphins fifteen meters from me while I was snorkeling.

Cairo

We made a trip to Cairo to get the authentic tourist experience by the Pyramids (I swear people have been offering camel rides there since the Greeks). The visit to the Egyptian Museum was interesting, too. While most people decry the grave-robbing of the Pharaonic tombs, you can’t help thinking that all that gold was more useful in the general economy than locked up in the ground. I also suspect that later Pharaoh ripped off their predecessor’s tombs to construct their own.

Photo-wise it was very much a holiday-snap affair, with the Sigma 18-50 crapzoom getting a lot of use. Taking pics of the pyramids that aren’t carbon copies of tens of thousand others it really hard, and underwater photography isn’t my thing — too expensive and you need scuba equipment to do it properly anyway.

All in all it was an awesome vacation!

[1] if you discount the nearby ancient monasteries, founded there precisely because it was so remote.

Thursday, 2009-11-05

Elin Ruth Sigvardsson, Debaser Slussen, 2009-11-04

A really nice set by the “beautiful and talented”[1] Elin Ruth. The orchestral sounds of her latest album “Cookatoo Friends” (sic) was nicely reproduced with the help of a 5-person band, including a violinist and a flautist.

It was a tour premiere, so it could have been a bit tighter, but that was made up for by the charming presence of the singer.

[1] as the man says, the man in this case being David Letterman.

Sunday, 2009-07-26

Vacation 2009, part 1 (and 2)

Viken

Back from a week in the house in Halland. I’m returning alone tomorrow to join our son who’s spending a few nights with his grandparents.

Update 2009-08-01: back from the second week! Viking had a great time at Halmstad’s Äventyrsland and Svedino’s car+plane museum in Ugglarp. Last night we had a great grill party at the “cottage”.

Anyway, glad to be back. Train beats car when you’re travelling 2 people!

Friday, 2009-07-03

Dagens på Subway Malmskillnadsgatan

  • Mån: kalkonbröst och skinka
  • Tis: köttbullar
  • Ons: kalkonbröst
  • Tor: Italian BMT
  • Fre: tonfisk
  • Lör: rostbiff
  • Sön: grillad kycklingbröst

Friday, 2009-04-17

Misfire, a “lumparhistoria”

Misfire

(click on the picture to read a little story!)

[Note, in Sweden, “lumpen” is the formerly compulsory military service all men had to do. Guys being guys and the military being what it is, for many people it was a fount of stories endlessly retold on reserve exercises years later. A “lumparhistoria” is such a story].

Tuesday, 2008-12-30

Merry Christmas (glad it’s over)

So we had a very nice Christmas down at my parent’s place in Halland, but it was a tough time getting there, with lots of stress in the run-up. But all in all we had a great time.

bringing home the tree

Here’s my dad, Leo and Viking carrying home the Christmas tree that grew in the old peat bog that can be glimpsed to the right of the shot. It looked great once we got it up!

Friday, 2008-12-05

H.L. Mencken on Warren G. Harding’s command of the English language

I commented on this post this morning, but I found the full quote later in Joe Queenan’s most excellent American Caddy:

It reminds me of a string of wet sponges, it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of a dark abysm (I was about to write abcess!) of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble, it is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.

Wednesday, 2008-11-12

Aimee Mann, China Teatern, 2008-11-10

Aimee Mann

(Picture courtesy of Rockfoto.nu.)

I finally got to see Aimee in concert and it was pretty awesome. Only gripe is that most of the songs were from the latest 2 albums which aren’t my top favs. Totally worth going anyway!

I missed all but the last 3 songs from support The Submarines but they were pretty good too.

Set list:

  • Stranger Into Stardust
  • Looking for Nothing
  • Dear John
  • Save Me
  • Wise Up
  • Freeway
  • The Great Beyond
  • Going Through the Motions
  • Calling It Quits
  • Red Vines - acoustic version, just Aimee and a guitar.
  • It’s Not
  • Lost in Space
  • 31 Today
  • Borrowing Time
  • Today’s the Day
  • How Am I Different
  • Driving Sideways - this was not rehearsed, and it showed ;)
  • 4th of July
  • One
  • Stupid Thing

Sunday, 2008-11-09

Back from the Canaries

favourite drink

We’re back from our trip to Spain (Barcelona and Gran Canaria). It’s been very nice and relaxing and I’m not at all looking forward to going back to work tomorrow.

I’m looking through the pictures now, not too many keepers (as usual). More stuff will be added to the “Spain 2008” set on Flickr.

Thursday, 2008-09-25

25 Sep 2008

And you’re pushing 38
Heaven knows your train is late

— Lloyd Cole, Her Last Fling

Saturday, 2008-05-24

Friday, 2008-03-21

Easter

We’re planning on visiting my parents this Easter weekend, but there are warnings of heavy snow on the way there. Instead of driving today we’ll be going down on Saturday.

You’d think that Good Friday would be a slow shopping day at IKEA, but you’d be wrong…

Update 2008-03-26: we’re back, from some freaky weather. Fun for Viking though, he hasn’t had any winter weather this year.

orchard in snow

Wednesday, 2008-01-16

Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea), an anime feature film

I watched this yesterday and was impressed. It’s the first anime film I’ve watched, so it’s hard to compare with others, but the quality of the animation was top-notch. A welcome change from Disney fare.

More importantly, the plot was faithful to LeGuin’s vision, if not her actual novels. It’s basically The Farthest Shore conflated with Tehanu, with elements of A Wizard of Earthsea thrown in, but the universe is recognisable, and the characters look like you’d expect them to.

The magic is Earthsea magic, not flashy, but powerful — no death rays, no blasting spells a la computer RPGs, rather tapping into the underlying structure of the world. It’s hard to explain, but it’s one of the things that make LeGuin’s fantasy world so much better than others.

This movie is highly recommended.

Tuesday, 2007-12-18

[SvSe] Imperial System

En favorit bland Teknisk Fysiks torra visor är Système Internationale, som består av välkända förkortningar på SI-enheterna, sjungna till Studentsångens melodi.

På årets Ettans fest framförde Gustaf Mårtensson och Mats Nilsson ett uppskattat gyckel, en reaktionär variant på sången. Den heter Imperial System.

Imperial System

mel. Studentsången
Prins Frans Gustaf Oscar

ft   kp   K   bu   B   
   Gb   Oe   lb   rdr   std   
st   msk   kn   E   
Fr   krm   c   cSt   
°F   
pt            
at   
hk   nmi   
M   Ci   dptr   cal   
mvp   
mvp   
ha!   

Saturday, 2007-10-13

[SvSe] Leif Zern kräver livegenskap för svenska skådespelare?

DNs teaterkritiker Leif Zern kommenterar Mikael Persbrandts överraskande avhopp från Dramaten:

Vad svensk teater behöver i dag är arbetsro och uthållighet i stället för den frampiskade jakt på rubriker och succéer som vi nu bevittnar på många håll.

Dags att stifta Lex Persbrandt?

Man kan ju undra vad Zern tycker att en sådan lag skulle innebära. Är det att svenska skådespelare vid våra teaterscener skulle hindras från att söka andra anställningar?

Wednesday, 2007-10-03

Mont Blanc cartridge in a Pilot pen

So I did the cartridge hack detailed here. I bought a Mont Blanc rollerball refill (medium), cut off the end, and inserted it into my trusty old Pilot Vega.

Mechanically it works like a charm, but as a writing instrument the original Pilot gel ink is better. The Mont Blanc is much narrower, and feels rougher to write with compared to both the Pilot or my real favourite, the cheap gel pens you can get at Muji.

So unless you’re a big fan of Mont Blanc rollerballs and cheap, don’t bother with this.

Update 2007-10-08: I must have gotten a cartridge that was all dried out, because after a couple of day’s use it’s much nicer! Still don’t know if it’s worth the money though.

Saturday, 2007-09-29

Top 50 dystopian movies

Incipient meme from SF Signal:

“You know the drill… copy the list and BOLD the movies you have seen.”

Original list and discussion (very interesting) is at Snarkerati.

  1. Metropolis (1927)
  2. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  3. Brazil (1985)
  4. Wings of Desire (1987)
  5. Blade Runner (1982)
  6. Children of Men (2006)
  7. The Matrix (1999)
  8. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
  9. Minority Report (2002)
  10. Delicatessen (1991)
  11. Sleeper (1973)
  12. The Trial (1962)
  13. Alphaville (1965)
  14. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  15. Serenity (2005)
  16. Pleasantville (1998)
  17. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
  18. Battle Royale (2000)
  19. RoboCop (1987)
  20. Akira (1988)
  21. The City of Lost Children (1995)
  22. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  23. V for Vendetta (2005)
  24. Metropolis (2001)
  25. Gattaca (1997)
  26. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
  27. On The Beach (1959)
  28. Mad Max (1979)
  29. Total Recall (1990)
  30. Dark City (1998)
  31. War Of the Worlds (1953)
  32. District 13 (2004)
  33. They Live (1988)
  34. THX 1138 (1971)
  35. Escape from New York (1981)
  36. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
  37. Silent Running (1972)
  38. Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
  39. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
  40. A Boy and His Dog (1975)
  41. Soylent Green (1973)
  42. I Robot (2004)
  43. Logan’s Run (1976)
  44. Strange Days (1995)
  45. Idiocracy (2006)
  46. Death Race 2000 (1975)
  47. Rollerball (1975)
  48. Starship Troopers (1997)
  49. One Point O (2004)
  50. Equilibrium (2002)

I enjoy dystopian SF movies, and it’s a thankful genre. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive shiny props but can basically shoot in downtown Los Angeles.

Interesting to see that Terry Gilliam has directed 2 of the films in the list.

I’m missing Stalker from the list.

I’m planning on catching Children of Men and AI soon.

Update 2007-09-29: just caught AI. Typical Spielberg in many respects, one wonders how the film would have been if Kubrick had been able to make it.

Friday, 2007-06-15

Shawn Colvin, Debaser Medis, 2007-06-14

Shawn Colvin

(Picture courtesy of Rockfoto.nu.)

Finally found some time to blog this. One of the best concerts I’ve attended. Shawn was all alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar and made every song feel new. I’ve been a fan since I bought “Steady On” in 1990.

After 3 songs she asked for requests, and got so many she had to say stop and tell us she’d ask again. Some kind soul wanted to hear “Kill the Messenger”, which would have been my request if I’d been quicker off the mark.

I’ll post the set list as soon as I’ve deciphered my notes (yes I am that geeky).

Update: here it is:

Twilight
Another Long One
These Four Walls
Trouble
(requests)
Polaroids
Whole New You
Sunny Came Home
Killing The Blues
Wichita Skyline
Summer Dress
A Matter Of Minutes
Tennessee
Steady On
(more requests)
Shotgun Down An Avalanche
Kill The Messenger
I’m Gone
I Don’t Know Why
(encore)
Crazy
I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon (“Do you really want to hear that song?”)
Fill Me Up
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Friday, 2007-04-13

Friday the 13th

It’s the traditional unlucky day, which we, in emulation of some friends of my parents, are celebrating with a glass of champagne.

Great practice, makes the date something to look forward to.

Friday, 2007-03-02

What happens to your online legacy when you die?

Dave Winer has an interesting post about your “digital legacy” — your blog, online photos and videos, email etc. — that is only accessible by yourself while you’re alive.

This is something that will impact a lot of people in a short while. My parents are not bloggers, but they do have an online presence in the form of email. Just as my sister and I will have to sort papers when they pass away (which I sincerely hope is far in the future), we will have to handle email and work accounts too.

The ones taking care of my mess will have to handle this blog and my Gmail and Flickr accounts; there are probably more places that I haven’t thought of now. Not to mention banking certificates, digital IDs, and so on.

That’s one part of the story. The other is Dave’s point: who will take care of the servers? Obviously Dave is more of a public figure than I am, but I’d like my descendants to be able to read what I’ve written online in the future. Our forefathers and -mothers had stuff like letters, wills, deeds, photographs. We will have online bits, just one DNS update or hard drive crash away from oblivion.

Sunday, 2006-12-31

New Year’s resolutions for 2007

Revisiting last year’s resolutions is a bit depressing, really. Well, we can’t all be perfect in one year. Here are my resolutions:

  • continue improving as a husband and father. I’ve become better, I think, but there’s a way to go.
  • make more progress in the house and garden. This has in fact become easier, but there are a lot of things left. I feel more motivated now, though, but I keep backsliding.
  • keep better track of where the money goes.
  • give work 100% of the eight hours I spend there, instead of now perhaps 85%—90%.
  • plan next Christmas and New Year’s better!

Wednesday, 2006-12-27

[SvSe] SR X läggs ner

Mycket tråkiga nyheter. SRs absolut bästa kanal, SR X, läggs ner.

Enligt programdirektören Eva Blomquist:

Vi har konstaterat att vi saknar en del i vårt musikutbud som vi borde rätta till. Till de genrer som det inte råder brist på finns pop- och rockmusik av den typ som finns i SR X. Där kan vi tillfreddställa många lyssnare i FM-kanalerna P3 och P4.

Jaha jaha. Jag borde väl kanske ha skaffat en DAB-radio för att på något sätt visat mitt stöd för kanalen. Nu kommer den alldeles utmärkta mixen av musik blandas med urvattnad humor och flåshurtiga sportfånar. Tack, men vitsen med SR X var att man slapp allt det där.

OK, det är bra att fler får höra den blandningen av musik, och jag kan förstå att SR måste prioritera sina resurser. Men det är fortfarande trist.

Man kan kontakta SR via Posted at 22:18, in the alt category.  Comments (View)

Monday, 2006-12-25

Five things you didn’t know about me

I’ve been tagged by Jim so here goes.

  1. I’m one of the few members of the general public who’ve been allowed aboard the Vasa. This was during my first thesis attempt, which went nowhere fast.
  2. In military service, I drove around in a car that was older than I was.
  3. I went to a British military school when I was a kid in Malaysia.
  4. I have coded Visual Basic 6 professionally.
  5. I’ve dated two people in my life, one of them my wife.

I’m tagging Linus, Anders, Stefan, Mark, and Libby.

Monday, 2006-10-09

Lloyd Cole, Södra teatern, 2006-10-09

Lloyd Cole

(Picture courtesy of Rockfoto.nu.)

This consert was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. The setting was minimalistic: a Macbook, a sequencer, a collection of guitars. Enter Cole in khaki, teasing us with some electronica from his Plastic Wood album. He’s joined by Neil Clark on electric guitar and they launch into the set.

I nearly wish I’d noted what the songs were, but that would have detracted from a mesmerising performance. Using just two guitars and some spare beats from the sequencer, Cole and Clark bring the classic songs to life in the intimate theatre. “Pay For It”, lushly orchestrated in album form, was just as good in this setting. Same for “No Blue Skies”, another favourite of mine.

The place was packed, I’m really glad I got the tickets.

Here are Linus’ impressions (in Swedish).

Wednesday, 2006-10-04

Countries I’ve visited


visited 30 states (13.3%)
Create your own visited map of The World


visited 3 states (6%)
Create your own visited map of The United States


visited 3 states (8.57%)
Create your own visited map of India

My travelling days are pretty much over, most countries outside Europe were visited in childhood.

Wednesday, 2006-09-20

[SvSe] Efterdyningar

Utvalda handskrivna partibetecknignar:

Parti Antal röster
Kalle Anka partiet 32
Bamsepartiet 2
Ett parti pilsner 2
Lordipartiet 2
Tomtepartiet 2
De arbetsskyggas riksförbund -
bland karpar och kantareller
1
Det kvinnliga höftpartiet, KHP 1
IB/säporegistrerades Parti 1
Kalle Anka För En Önskad Bättre Framtid 1
Liberala Kalle Anka Partiet 1
Nuffelpartiet 90000 1
Partiet för blankröstarnas rätt
att räknas som fullvärdig samhällsmedlem
1
Partiet för idioter 1
Partiet mot överförmyndaren och
fogdevälde och girighet
1
Renhåriga käbbelfria partiet 1
Rockpoeten Ulf Lundell 1
Tage Vibrators Parti (TVIP) 1
Team Nighrider 1
Toknazism hela dan - partiet 1

Men vissa fick fler röster. Isobel:

[…]. I Birkastan, där jag bor, har vi extremt liten arbetslöshet. Vi har nära nog ingen våldsbrottslighet och den enda segregationen att tala om är den som handlar om att det bor alldeles för få människor här som inte skulle platsa på en Kalles Kaviar-tub. Ändå röstade 158 personer i Matteus församling (vilket ungefär motsvarar Birkastan) på Sverigedemokraterna. Okej, det är långt färre än dem som röstade på Feministiskt initiativ, och i många valkretsar till och med förre än som röstade på Piratpartiet. Men ändå. 158 sverigedemokrater. Här. Mina grannar. De kanske fikar på Mellqvist. Handlar på Konsum. Lunchar hos Günther. Och röstar på ett gäng främlingsfientliga kvinnomisshandlare.

Man kanske ska vara tacksam att Unika Partiet bara fick 216 röster.

Tuesday, 2006-06-20

[SvSe] Minnesskrift för David

Meddelande från Caroline:

Minnesskriften för David är nu färdigställd. Den består av ett 30-tal olika bidrag från familjen och vänner samt foton. Den kostar 100 kr. När kostnaden per skrift är täckt går resterande oavkortat till David Sjögrens Minnesfond (http://www.davidsjogrenmemorialfund.org)

Jag har uppgifter om hur man beställer skriften, men vill inte skriva ut dom här. Skicka ett meddelande till mig så vidarebefodrar jag dom gärna.

Thursday, 2006-02-23

Hooters!

[No, it’s not what you think.]

I found something nice at TPB today: The Hooters: Greatest Hits. Man, that takes me back. Satellite, And We Danced, Blood from a Stone. Great stuff.

Friday, 2006-02-10

[SvSe] David Sjögren

Allteftersom tiden blir det svårare att skaffa vänner. Kanske den gyllene tiden för detta är runt 20-årsåldern, då man äntligen kommer hemifrån och kan träffa andra människor i samma ålder och med liknande intressen.

För en lite nervös 22-åring på KTHs borggård en solig septemberdag tog det inte lång tid att inse att Stockholm inte var Lund — här kom en stor del av kurskamraterna ifrån stan, med egna färdiga sociala nätverk.

David Sjögren var, vid första anblicken, en av dessa. Vi var med i samma nolleuppdragsgrupp, och efter fullbordat värv (vi satte upp skyltar i Tekniska Högskolans T-banestation som påminde om att föhsarna ständigt var närvarande) samlades vi hemma i Davids föräldrahem för att sätta ihop en presentation för att slå resten av årskursen med häpnad. (Detta var tiden före PowerPoint, så det var diabilder och kassettband som gällde.)

Efteråt kom jag ihåg att jag tänkte att David visserligen var mycket trevlig, men att jag inte skulle ingå i hans sociala nätverk i framtiden.

Turligt nog hade inte David några sådana fördomar. Jag minns inte exakt hur det skedde, men vi började umgås mer och mer. Upptäckten att jag var fyra år äldre än honom minns jag slog honom med viss häpnad: så här i efterhand vet jag inte om jag var milt förolämpad eller smickrad, men det gick snabbt över. I mångt och mycket var David den äldre av oss.

När vi lämnade KTH var vi vänner, tillsammans med många andra. Vi kom att arbeta på samma arbetsplats, ett företag fylld av smarta människor (en del från KTH, tack och lov inte alla). David var otvivelaktigen en av de smartare, även om jag kunde slå honom på fingrarna i esoteriska datorfrågor. En gång medan jag gjorde mitt exjobb fick jag ett samtal från David. Han hade fått i uppdrag att sätta upp en Solaris-server och råkat skapa en fil som började med “-“. Som av en slump hade jag inte mer än några timmar läst om hur man blir av med en sådan fil, och mitt blixtsnabba svar “använd rm -- -fil” måste ha gjort djupt intryck.

Några år senare började ett halvt dussin av oss samlas hos varandra för herrmiddagar. Detta var tämligen välstädade tillställningar med mild one-up-manship vad gällde matlagningen. David var svår att slå på den fronten. Han hade alltid en massa goda recept på lager, och om han fick stå vid spisen mer än andra så var det desto mer uppskattat.

Det finns många saker jag kommer att sakna nu när David är borta. Hans glada humör, sättet han liksom spratt till när något roligt var i görningen, hans mail med länkar till Berglin-teckningar och filmer med biljardtrick. Men framförallt kommer jag att sakna honom som vän: som en person som alltid var där, som man i sin okunskap om vad som komma skall tror kommer att vara där för överskådlig framtid.

Saknaden efter David är djup, och jag påminns nästan dagligen om att han är borta. Jag är glad och stolt över att ha kunnat räkna honom som en av mina bästa vänner.

En minnesfond i Davids namn har startats. Den är för utvecklingen av unga afrikanska ledare:

Jag vill tacka Frederic och SSSK för informationsmötet där vi fick tillfälle att ställa frågor till dom som var med när det hände.

Sunday, 2006-01-29

Bad news

I got a phone call today telling me that an old university friend and former coworker had died after going through the ice while skating.

He was part of a larger group in a skating outing. Another person has died too, and a third has critical injuries.

He was in many ways one of the best and brightest guys I knew. It’s utterly unbelievable that he’s gone.

Wednesday, 2005-12-21

Four Christmas songs (that don’t suck)

Note: I thought I had a list of five songs, but it turned out I didn’t.

Thursday, 2005-08-04

Scrap the Shuttle

I’ve long considered the Space Shuttle to be a useless drain of resources for the American public, but this post is much better than anything I could write. Scrap the Shuttle and devote the money to unmanned missions instead. We’re not going to be saved by space anyway.

Sunday, 2005-06-05

Distractions

Two brightly shining candles in the general gloom: Star Wars Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy and Star Trek: The New Generation. Some kind soul has provided the latter as umpteen DVD images on The Pirate Bay, and another even kinder soul has downloaded them and provided my with the discs. I’m now nearing the end of the first season.

I had a little trouble enabling lightsaber dismemberment in Jedi Academy. In the previous game in the series, Jedi Outcast, there was a simple console cheat which made slicing stormtroopers into salami possible. This option is gone in JA, maybe to preserve LucasArts’ squeecky clean image. But you can still enable it by following the instructions below (%install% refers to where the game is installed, on my system it’s c:\Program Files\LucasArts\Star Wars Jedi Knight Jedi Academy).

  1. Open the %install%\GameData\base\jaconfig.cfg file in a text editor

  2. Enter the following lines ( or replace them if they exist ):

    • seta g_saberMoreRealistic “99”
    • seta g_saberEntMarks “99”
    • seta g_dismemberment “99”
  3. Save the file

I have a autoexec.cfg file in the same directory containing the line helpusobi 1, the cheat mode enabler in JO. I don’t know if it’s necessary, though.

Another cool option seems to be g_saberpickupabledroppedsabers 1, which is supposed to give you the ability to pick up other lightsabers. Haven’t had time to test it yet though. Update: doesn’t seem to work.

Friday, 2005-04-29

Kathleen Edwards at Debaser, 2005-04-28

I saw Kathleen Edwards at Debaser yesterday. Really good show.

The opener was some soporific Swede calling himself Leslee. Opener’s can blow, and this one sure did.

After that, Kathleen opened with Pink Emerson Radio from the latest album Back to me. She was awesome. Only regret is that I didn’t get a signed CD afterwards.

Friday, 2005-04-22

Digital camera specs

I’m planning on buying a digital camera. This is just a list of things I should think about.

  • Rather cheap: ~300 EUR
  • Resolution: minimum 3 Mpx, 5 or more preferred
  • Cheap storage per Mb => CF
  • Optical viewfinder
  • Good battery life
  • USB/mini USB 2.0 interface
  • Good startup time

Frenzied reading of The Luminous Landscape have led to more esoteric criteria:

  • Histograms
  • RAW mode
  • Photoshop :-)

Watchlist

Wishlist

These cameras are much more expensive, I’ve included them here as wishful thinking.

Saturday, 2005-02-05

Project Pluto

An unshielded nuclear reactor, flying at Mach 3 at treetop level and designed to drop hydrogen bombs was nearly constructed in the 1950’s.

From the article:

Like Hula Hoops and Slinkies, Pluto is now an anachronism, an all-but-forgotten remnant of an earlier — but not necessarily more innocent — era. At the time, however, deadly as it would have been, Pluto had the almost irresistible appeal of any radically new technological innovation. Like the H-bombs it would carry, Pluto was “technically sweet” to many of the scientists and engineers who worked on it.

The “technically sweet” explains a lot. The technical challenges were enormous, but could be overcome. I guess this explains why many engineers can work with weapon systems — even though they’re to be used for killing people, the technical challenges are often cutting edge and really interesting. Project Pluto would have been fun to work on.

(Via Boing Boing)

Update: Charlie Stross has read his history and incorporates Project Pluto in A Colder War.

Saturday, 2004-12-18

Mobi-meet!

Jim and his wife were in Stockholm this weekend, so we hooked up and had a lunch/beer in a vegetarian place on Söder. Unfortunately, I was still affected by the Christmas party the night before, and was a bit under the weather. I’ll have to go to Whitstable to collect my pint from Jim.

Update 2004-12-18: here’s Jim’s write-up of the trip.

Saturday, 2004-10-23

October cruise

The alumni gathering went to sea this weekend when we were invited onto Johan’s 32-footer based in Värmdö. We set off into a chill (around 10C) but sunny archipelago and set course for Sandhamn. The crew was Johan as captain, David and Calle as able seamen, and Jonas and yours truly as ballast.

After one and a half hours leisurly cruise we docked at Sandhamn and had lunch in the cockpit. After a coffee in the yacht club bar Jonas left us to go back to town, while the rest of the gang headed east, out to open sea.

The wind being more or less aft, we decided to hoist the spinnaker. This bumped our speed up to around 6 knots, but when we turned up into the wind to make the return leg to our planned overnight anchorage we had to take it in.

The route to the west was strewn with those reefs and boulders that make the Stockholm archipelago such an interesting place to sail in, but we managed by dint of having 3 lookouts and a GPS. With the sun setting we thought of checking the coming weather, which of course we did by visiting SHMI with a mobile phone. Based on this information we decided to lie in a bay facing south, as the wind was going to be northerly.

After some backing and filling we managed to find an anchorage. Calle made the first course, asparagus wrapped in proscuitto with mozarella. After we’d eaten this, Johan and David ascended a steep cliff with the help of a rope to barbecue the steaks. We ate them with rice and a sallad of ruccola and tomatoes. The dessert was pear halves with dark chocolate and some nice cheeses.

Replete with food and three bottles of wine, there wasn’t much else to do except go to bed. Despite the cold, we slept well.

Morning was early, cold, and full of dishes. But we managed to get underway quite soon and made good time make to the harbour.

All in all a very nice experience. Maybe a yearly tradition in the future?

Update 2004-10-18: pics are online at Mr.X.

Wednesday, 2004-08-25

On tea

I found a link to George Orwell’s essay on the perfect cup of tea on Libby’s blog.

Reading the essay reminded me of why I drink coffee nearly exclusively nowadays. I don’t care much about how my coffee is made — hot, strong, and with milk, but otherwise I could care less about how it’s made. My taste in tea, on the other hand, is so outré, so outside the bounds of acceptable tea-drinking behaviour, that I can only prepare and enjoy a cup of tea that I’ve made myself, in a peculiar manner.

I make tea like this: I put a pinch of Lapsang Souchong in a big cup. Then I pour boiling water in the cup. I wait a bit. Then I add milk.

The part about the tea and the water mixing without a strainer or a bag seems to freak people out most, although it’s endorsed by Orwell (in a kettle, but nonetheless…). In fact, I only break a few of his “rules” for a nice cup of tea.

I was reminded of all this when we woke up this morning without coffee grounds, and had to make do with instant. Also, something in the neighborhood smells exactly like Lapsang. So I’ve bought a packet of Twinings Lapsang for the first time in ages. Maybe I can kick to coffee habit, at least at home.

Thursday, 2004-08-19

Wedding pictures

More than one and a half years late, here are some pictures from our wedding.

Tuesday, 2004-08-17

A visit to Åland

Viking and I went to Åland this weekend to visit Petter and Alva together with Björn and Egil. We were a trio of dads with two-year olds traipsing around the bush having picnics. Thank god the kids didn’t synchronise their bad moments — there was generally only one child pissed off at a time.

Åland is a beautiful place in a harsh kind of way. There are lots of fields and deciduous trees, but the dominant feature is rock scoured smooth by the latest ice age, thinly covered by moss and stunted pines.

Petter and Giséla have a very nice place in Björnhuvud, about 15 minutes from the harbour and 20 minutes from Mariehamn, the capital.

Åland is closer to Sweden than to Finland, both geographically and culturally. The signposts are all in Swedish, none of the inhabitants have to serve in the Finnish army (the islands have been demilitarised since the 1920s), and only persons with citezenship can buy property there. Much of the income of the region comes from the sale of tax-free liqour to thirsty Swedes, although Åland also provides more than 40% of Finland’s onions.

Björn had a digital camera with him, which we shamelessly borrowed, snapping away at our kids wandering around picking blueberries. We quickly realised his wisdom of investing in half a gigabyte of memory. As soon as he gets the pics to me I’ll post some.

Update: pictures are now up at my album on MrX.no. Thanks Terje for giving me some space on his site!

Wednesday, 2004-05-19

the islamic century?

I first encountered the belief that Europe was heading for an inevitable Islamic takeover in a most unlikely place: this post by Philip Greenspun.

This entry shocked me, because from what I’ve read of and about him, Phil is a smart guy. If this is how well educated Americans living in Boston view Europe?

I couldn’t really put my finger on what was wrong with his analysis. This article does just that. Recommended reading.

Tuesday, 2004-05-18

things to do in stockholm before you’re dead

dwlt will be in Uppsala/Stockholm this weekend. Here is a short list of suggestions of things to do.

  • Uppsala: visit the cathedral (Domkyrkan). The town itself is a very nice place, Sweden’s Oxford.

  • Stockholm: the Vasa Museum is well worth a visit.

  • The museum is on Djurgården, a park to the east of the centre of town. Waldermarsudde is an art gallery at the other end, with a very nice walk in between. Fans of Edvard Munch and Nietzsche will enjoy Thielska Galleriet in the same general area.

  • Visit the Stockholm Archipelago with a trip on the Vaxholm boats. Many different destinations for different timescales.

  • Stockholm Old Town, Gamla stan, in the middle of the city. The Royal Palace is here. South of the Old Town is Söder, literally South, the more Bohemian of Stockholms neighborhoods. Lots of bars, galleries, parks…

  • Eat traditional, if expensive Swedish food at KB or even more expensive seafood at Wedholms Fisk.

Wednesday, 2004-03-24

a global market for TV broadcasts

Funny how things come together. Today, I was discussing the following things IRL and on IRC:

  • Automatically grabbing TV broadcasts from the US and distributing them as BitTorrents for consumption here in Sweden.
  • Getting HBO to send to the EU.
  • Paying a fee to see shows that are shown in the US but not in the EU.
  • The lack of EU soccer coverage in the US.

Bottom line: there is a market for TV on both sides of the Atlantic. Who will exploit it? Or will this fill the gap?

Rightsholders in TV space are accustomed to wholesale marketing. They sell programming to networks, and the networks are in the mass market. To enable the scenarios above would entail retail marketing and pricing. Where are the new business models coming from? Or is everyone in the music, TV, and movie business more interested in protecting their profit margins than giving people what they want, and what they are prepared to pay for?