Wednesday, November 30, 2005


At the abstract level it seems reasonable, if currently unfashionable, to posit the existence of universal features of humanness and thus of culture. This in turn opens up the possibility, at least as far as logic is concerned, of universal principles of justice, equity, or reciprocity as constituents of all cultures. There is, after all, no logical incompatibility between a pragmatic cultural relativism, understood as a method of understanding how the specific content of social practices or cultural forms has been conditioned by their relations to their cultural, social, and historical context, and universal or transcultural principles considered as constituents of the human capacity for culture.

What does this even mean?!?

It's from an article for the anthropology part of my global development course. How am I supposed to learn it if I can't even get a little bit of meaning out of it?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Neurotic or Psychotic?

Tight genes!

You scored 25 neuroses and 2 psychoses!

You are ideal for repopulating the species after everyone else has overdosed on prozac or blown up the public buildings. You are low on both scales and probably safe from an imminent mental illness. On the downside, your tax dollars and insurance premiums are supporting the rest of us. Cheers!

Anybody wanna help?

Want to see how you score?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Rant of the week

Sorry bout the lack of posts recently. The net here is getting so slow after the antennae-vs.-new-system fiasco, Blogger hasn't been able to open this thing up for a week. I'm also in the middle of my exams - one down, two to go. Only one month till Christmas and today is the Buy Nothing Day. Guess I'll have to get the Christmas calendar some other time...

To get to the subject...

Since I put my email address up on my profile I've been gettting lots of spam. Fortunately, Gmail puts it all in the junk folder so I've never really minded. The spam used to be exclusivly ads for Microsoft or Windows and I've been getting it for months. Common examples might be..

OEM SoftwareTop of the Line XP Software at Guaranteed L0W PRICES
Windows XP Pro $49.95, Office 2003 at 69.95 Adobe
Win XP Special Deals today 0nly
Windows software for 80% 0ff
Windows XP
Photoshop, Windows, Office

So imagine my surprise when I opened the junk box a few days ago. It had been filling up quicker than usual and curious to see what was going on, I looked and I found:

Other guys are improving themselves..are you?
Limited time special for leading enlargement product!
Hey bro, found this site
Don't be left behing- the enlargement revolution!
Don't be the "little guy" in the club
Don't be inadequate anymore!
Take advantage of special discounts now guys!

These started arriving on November 18th. Apparently I've become male again but what do you expect... Then a few days later I got some explaining the 'enlargement process' a little more carefully.

Wow check out this huge enlargement patch sale!
Massive PE patch sale
Last offer- Discount special for PE patch almost over!

-- PE? Patches? Apparently now you can buy patches, put them on your skin, and your penis will grow. How great is that?!? Just listen to this...

A top team of British scientists and medical doctors have worked to develop the state-of-the-art Pen1s Enlargment Patch delivery system which automatically increases pen1s size up to 3-4 full inches. The patches are the easiest and most effective way to increase your size. You won't have to take pills, get under the knife to perform expensive and very painful surgery, use any pumps or other devices. No one will ever find out that you are using our product. Just apply one patch on your body and wear it for 3 days and you will start noticing dramatic results.

-- This must really work because...

Millions of men are taking advantage of this revolutionary new product - Don't be left behind!

I checked out the other emails and found that, no matter the title in the subject field, it was patches they were trying to sell.

I'm also wondering if there's a new virus coming this way - 109 junk emails with a 75kb attachment have landed in my hotmail inbox the past 5 days. I usually get one or two a day so this seems a bit extreme... Of course it could just be that someone got pissed at me and gave my address out to anyone and everyone. It's happened before.

But what I find strange about these emails is the 'From' field. Usually there's some name or numbers, something that doesn't make sense, as in the patches emails. But these are different.

And many, many others. Subjects are usually something to do with 'password', 'registration', 'hi, I've a new email address' or 'Paris Hilton & Nicole Richie'.

There's nothing strange with this. We all get this stuff. But such an incredible amount, all starting last Monday. Then I got one from both the FBI and the CIA telling me I visit illegal websites. Needless to say, both emails remain unopened. I don't even remember signing up for anything or giving my address to anyone for a while.

Anybody else getting this?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Lobedu rain queen

As a great magical practitioner, the queen was set apart from ordinary people, first by her sex - a woman instead of a man in an authoritative position. She was incestuosly conceived and did not die, but commited ritual suicide after the fourth initiation school of her reign. She controlled awful magic in which skin and body-dirt of departed rulers were ingredients.

Incestuously conceived. Ritual suicide. Skin and body-dirt of departed rulers.
Another job I won't be applying for...

At a more practical level, the queen was connected through marriage to all the important political officers in the tribe. As 'cattle beget children', woman-to-woman marriage is possible in Africa. 'Every Lobedu induna [headman] sends a daughter to be mothanoni [wife] of the queen as do any of the nobility who wish to be on a good foothing with her.' The queen only keeps a proportion of the many wives she recieves: others are given by her to important subjects.

Whoa wait... I can marry a woman? Or I could if I were a member of the Lobedu tribe in Southern Africa some time between 1800 and 1894. That's what Basil Sansom writes in his article Traditional Rulers and their Realms.

I'm reading for the exam on Monday in my anthropology course on Southern Africa. How am I supposed to concentrate on anything when I have shocking new information like this sneaking up on me? Then again... I wish more of the information was a little more interesting. At least then I'd have a chance of getting through, let alone remembering, half of it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Racism with or without Religion

Curious as I am, I asked an Egyptian on Skype today whether he is a sunni or shia Muslim. I wondered which group most Egyptians belong to.

I didn't get an answer to that. I got this question;

"Do you like Muslims? Or no?"

I explained that there are Muslims who are nice and Muslims who are not nice. Just as there are Christians who are nice and Christians who are not nice. The questions continued with whether all Norwegians are good and I was told "never".

Now this is a nice guy. We don't understand each other half of the time but he says he's trying. It wasn't a "you all hate Muslims and think we're all evil" kind of reply, it was just a simple question he asked me. But it did make me think a little.

Has the Muslim become the new Black Man? Is asking questions about Islam the same as asking about the colour of your skin? Has racism evolved into religionism?

You can't talk about race, or colour or culture as I might do as I don't consider race a useful term, without being perceived as a racist. I never thought of it as a bad thing to think about somebody's skin colour, simply because that's what it is - the colour of your skin. You can be black or brown or yellow, a delicious chocolate bronze, or pinkish white like me in winter. But then there's "black/brown - different culture / Africa /African-American". If your skin has a different colour, does that mean you are different from me?

I'm all for stopping racism in any way possible. I find the whole idea of racism in itself as ridiculous as Hitler's ideas were. But that doesn't make the problem less real. I've just started to question how careful we really need to be, if I treat a black person different because they're black (I don't know what the politically correct term is these days so I'll just use black), and act real respectful because they might have a different culture even if they grew up next door from me, wouldn't that be racism in a way? Acting in a way that is based on your colour or race?

The reason I'm even digging out the topic is that it's the same with Islam these days. When race became a no-no, did we need another way to separate 'them' from 'us' and religion just seemed the obvious choice?

If you as much as mention it the other person gets defensive. I guess as a Muslim today you hear so much bad you get used to defending yourself and your religion. Explaining that you're not bad just because some psychos go around blowing themselves up. That must get quite annoying after a while. But does that mean we need to tip toe around Muslims and Islam as we might do around race related issues? Of course nobody would do that today when it's all out there and in our face every day. What about in 40 year? Will religion be something we keep quiet about so we won't offend anyone?

When did religion stop being something you're proud of and turn into something you have to defend? Is it like this with all religions these days? There are so many of us who don't have a religion. We start thinking and realize we have too few answers to make up our minds. But many have found their answers. Or never asked the questions. And they have their religion. I've defended my own views countless times, be it in discussions with Christians or Muslims.

A while ago I had a discussion with a guy who didn't believe in religion. But he believed in God and was almost - but not quite - a Christian. He said he was open minded and thought everyone should believe in what they wanted. After half an hour it became painfully clear he wasn't too serious about that. His last line before we ended the conversation stands out in my mind as how most people think these days: Islam isn't the only problem, of course not, it's some people who make it bad. They believe in God too, they are allowed to do that, to believe in what they want. They are people people like we are.

But then again...

"At least I don't commit suicide and kill people.
I'm not a Muslim."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


"But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Barbara Bush on Good Morning America (March 18, 2003) discussing her son proposing Iraqi Invasion II.

Read on Sylvana's blog Renegade Mouth

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Is this Winter?

It's snowing. Snowflakes touching my window. Landing gently on the ground. The city lighting up the night and snow filled clouds, coming in waves. Resting gently on the leaves still left on the trees. You never want it to stop. Snowflakes land where the wind blows them, and they stay until a rain drop comes. Landing in a snowflake's embrace, joined together for a second. The rain drop remains but the snowflake is lost for ever.

I love snow. I just don't like it when the rain comes and the world is covered with five inches of slush. I could never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined it would snow today. Yesterday there was a storm again, it was kinda bad, no wonder when they name after a nasty god. There was one like it two months ago which left two women dead after a mud slide destroyed several houses. This time one man was killed by another one. Bergen seems a dangerous place this time of year.

When I got out yesterday morning the street was a river and the cars were boats. I had a lecture and when I got back after a 15 minute walk, all my clothes were wet. Down my (waterproof) boots, my pants were so heavy when I got them off I don't understand how I could have walked with them on, even my underwear was soaked. I got out of it all and crawled into bed, reading anthropology for my exam next Monday.

The wind was incredible too. Strange to just stand and watch something like that, even if it's just a little wind. I saw it come towards me from the north, crashing into the wall and trees 20 meters in front of me, then changing directions to the west where I was standing watching it. I just stopped on top of some stairs and saw it come. It was strong enough to twist all the metal in my umbrella, not just turn it inside out but really bend it so hard I can't get it straight no matter what I do. It nearly swept me off my feet, much like I would have been if I had had to cross the street outside my building - the current in the road would have been strong enough to wash me away.

Mother nature sure is having a ball this year, the whole world over. She just gotta stop killing people. We seem to do that just fine on our own.