Samples from my Inbox

(Well, technically, from the University of Oslo’s abuse address, because I’m on call this week, so it is my job to wade through that crap.)

Do you wish to impress your woman every night?

Last night, Karin was in a videoconference, and I made a sausage and chick pea soup so it was done when she came out of our home office. She loved it.

Are you ready to become immense for ladies?

I’m already 1.83 m (6′0″). If Karin wants something from a shelf I can’t reach, well, we own several stepladders.

Do you know what your wife wishes during nights?

Sleep. Which is difficult enough since she’s a very light sleeper, our circadian rhythms don’t precisely align and we have a cat who likes to dance on our bladders before settling down for the night.

Touch her heart tonight.

I am very proud of Karin’s achievements, and try to remind her on a regular basis.

Very good technique to intensify your love life

I’ve heard good things about massage oil.

Achieve every girl’s bed fast

So we’ve been redecorating and when the bedroom was done I had to disassemble, move and reassemble the bed all on my own, because Karin was abroad for a conference and I wanted to surprise her with a finished bedroom when she got back, and it must have taken me a good couple of hours. I could have used a hand.

Keep your girl happy this night

I think I’m going to make chili con carne tonight, I hope she likes it!

Camouflage

Sechuran Fox / Mike Weedon / Wikimedia / CC-BY-SA 3.0
One fine morning, the King summoned Gerrard, Captain of the Guard, to attend to him at Council.

Gerrard bowed as he approached his monarch. “You asked for me, Sire?”

“Gerrard, my good man, I keep hearing stories about a band of smugglers led by a man who calls himself the Fox. I want to know what your men are doing about it.”

“Sire—we have guard posts and roving patrols, and sometimes we catch a smuggler or two, but they move quietly through the woods and brush, wearing camouflage, and they can choose any direction of approach, whereas we have to stretch our forces along the entire border.”

“Very well, Gerrard. I hereby ban the manufacture, sale and use of camouflage clothing except for the needs of the Royal Guard. You are dismissed.”

Three months later, the King summoned Gerrard again.

“I hear that the smugglers are still operating, despite the measures I ordered. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Banning camouflage clothing cut off the smugglers’ supply, but did not prevent them from using what they already had. We made more arrests when they ran out, but then they started making their own out of green, gray and black fabric, and we’re back to square one.”

“Very well. Henceforth, the manufacture and sale of green, gray or black fabric or clothing shall be illegal, except for the needs of the Royal Guard. Get to it, Gerrard.”

Some months later, Gerrard was once again summoned to discuss the matter of the Fox.

“I am very displeased, Gerrard. I would have thought your men would have little trouble catching smugglers now that they can no longer buy or make camouflage clothing. And I have been told that the villagers are restless and discontent.”

“Sire, the smugglers are tying grass, moss and branches to their clothes, and blending in better than ever before! And the villagers are complaining that the ban on camouflage and dark clothing is making it difficult for them to hunt—we forbade them to use vegetation like the smugglers do.”

“There is only one solution, then. Burn down the forests and the brush. Let us see the Fox try to sneak through a charred wasteland!”

“But, Sire—”

“Do not question my orders, Gerrard. Burn it all down.”

“Very well, Sire.”

Ann Telnaes owes France an apology

Ann Telnaes is a political cartoonist for the Washington Post. Last Sunday, she drew and posted this cartoon:

Ann Telnaes’s cartoon A Letter to Paris

She probably meant well. She probably genuinely thought she was sharing important insights that would serve France well in the days, weeks, and months to come. She probably thought the French—or at least the more politically astute, as she probably likes to think of herself—would appreciate the gesture.

She was wrong, and she owes France an apology.

Let us rewind a little. On Saturday morning, I was awoken by my wife: “Dag-Erling, you need to read the news”. Still groggy, I squinted at my phone and pulled up the front page of my preferred (or should I say least despised) Norwegian newspaper. I read the lede of the top piece, then returned to the front page and scrolled down to try to get the story in chronological order. That was when I saw a headline that made me scream, put down my phone and vow to stay away from the news. That headline was:

This is France’s September 11

We showered and left for a brunch appointment with an American friend of ours. As we sat down at the Nighthawk Diner, I told her straight out: “I do not want to discuss the news, because I am currently unable to do so without saying very rude things about the United States.” She was very gracious about it. So here is what I didn’t say to her:

Since September 11, 2001, the United States have completely monopolized the discourse on terrorism, even to the point of replacing the correct term with an abbreviated one, because it has too many syllables for the semi-literate ape who occupied the Oval Office at the time. They have shaped, or should I say twisted, the narrative to fit their ignorant, arrogant, self-centered, navel-gazing world view, and then exported it to the rest of the world, a large portion of which (including the Norwegian public) has swallowed it whole. In this narrative, terrorism is an exclusively Muslim phenomenon which was invented by Osama bin Laden in 2001; no one but the United States truly knows what it’s like; no one but the United States is truly qualified to fight back; and anyone who criticizes their methods or refuses to participate in illegal wars which fail to achieve anything whatsoever is either a coward or a terrorist sympathizer.

This is not the first time I have had this kind of conversation. A common reaction is “well, OK, but September 11 was unprecedented”. No, it wasn’t. In 1993, al Qaeda detonated a car bomb in the parking garage under the World Trade Center hoping to bring down both towers, but they had parked it in the wrong place. In 1994, an Algerian militant group hijacked Air France flight 8969 in Algiers with the goal of crashing it into the Eiffel Tower, but they had no flight training and were bamboozled by the crew.

Some have described Friday’s attacks as the “worst act of violence towards France since the World War II”. Let me tell you what anyone who has opened a history book or spent five minutes on Wikipedia should know: since World War II, France has gone through two foreign wars, a civil war, various military or “peace-keeping” interventions in the Middle East and former colonies, and several decades as a battlefield for the PLO, the PFLP, Mossad, miscellaneous pro- and anticommunist or -anarchist groups, and Basque and Corsican separatists.

France knows terrorism. France knows how to defend itself. When the Norwegian press reports, breathlessly, that French authorities have sent 1,500 soldiers to Paris, I think to myself: that’s a relatively small number next to the thousands of soldiers and heavily armed police who are already permanently stationed in and around Paris. I’ve lived in Paris both before and after 2001, and the only significant change I’ve noticed is that some trash cans are welded shut and all public buildings have signs indicating the current threat level (on a scale of “red”, “crimson”, and “emergency”).

France also knows that the only way to be one hundred percent safe is to become a police state, but the French have never had much respect for authority and have extensive experience in shaking it off, or at least shaking it up, when it displeases them (cf. 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871, 1934, 1968).

So please, Ann Telnaes, and the rest of the US media (I can only imagine what sort of crap CNN and Fox News have been spouting the last few days): don’t you dare presume to teach France how to deal with terrorism. And don’t you dare use last Friday’s events to score cheap points against your own political establishment.

La liberté de conscience à l’Université d’Oslo

Le texte ci-dessous est une adaptation d’une lettre que j’ai écrite au Recteur et à la Directrice de l’Université d’Oslo.

Norsk utgave

Je viens d’apprendre que l’Université organise aujourd’hui un rassemblement pour ceux qui désirent se recueillir à la mémoire des victimes des actes terroristes commis à Paris ce vendredi dernier.

En tant qu’employé de l’Université d’Oslo, de citoyen français et d’athée, je m’offusque que ce rassemblement prenne un caractère religieux.

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Om religionsfrihet på Universitetet i Oslo

Teksten under er et brev som jeg i dag har sendt til Rektor Ole Petter Ottersen og Universitetsdirektør Gunn-Elin Aa. Bjørneboe ved Universitetet i Oslo.

Version française

Jeg har registrert at Universitetet i dag inviterer til en samling for de som ønsker å minnes ofrene for fredagens terroristhandlinger i Paris.

Som universitetsansatt, fransk statsborger og ateist ønsker jeg å protestere mot at dette arrangement ser ut til å skulle ha et religiøst tilsnitt.

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