fredag 2. oktober 2009

Definite last post

Hello, world.

I am now declaring the ultimate death sentence of this blog. Today I was incredibly bored and I looked around on this blog and found a new comment. As I replied, it struck me that I should make a new one. And, having a broken social life, I spent all evening making a new one. A better one! So if anybody actually reads this, they should drop by my new project: "Zoon politikon?". I chose to make it in English just for you guys, so now you'd all better move over and start commenting.

To this blog: I'm incredibly sorry, but I need to move on and create a new blog for myself.

To readers: Come on, GET. OVER. THERE. NOW.

tirsdag 2. juni 2009

Potential final update

Hello, yet again. Today I'm making a glog about the British political system. First, however, I am required to post something here.

I have already written a post on this political system, which you can read here. The British democracy is representative, meaning that the people delegate power to politicians, rather than deciding in every matter by themselves. The Parliament consists of 646 seats - one from each constituency - and this is where it becomes problematic. This means that large amounts of votes are wasted, because there can only be one winner. So, if there are two candidates, and if one scores 50,1% of the votes, he has won and his opponent gets nothing. This happens to the Liberal Democrats, as the system ensures that they get fewer seats than they would in a proportional system.

Those that do get seats, become MPs. This stands for Member of Parliament, and they are elected for five years. The MPs form the cabinet, and the cabinet decides when the next election will be. The leader of the cabinet is the Prime Minister, and he (once she) chooses the other ministers. The British Parliament is divided into two chambers: The House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The House of Commons is more important today. They usually introduce legislation and can overthrow the cabinet. The members are elected from the constituencies, and have duties both in Parliament and in their constituency.

People are appointed to the House of Lords, or inherit the seats (today uncommon). Margaret Thatcher is currently a member of the House of Lords, being appointed after her period as Prime Minister. The Lords can make suggestions for legislation, although this rarely happens, and to a small extent stop decisions made by the House of Commons. There are now 738 members of the House of Lords.

The picture is naturally of Westminster and Big Ben (named after an obese politician). The glog can be found here.

tirsdag 21. april 2009

Gangland, USA

Hi again, fellow bloggers! Today I'm looking at gangs in the US, from an article in the book for our class. It says a lot about the criminal gangs from the 1960s and what has changed today, however I'm more into the historical development of gangs. For this you use the Wikipedia.

There have practically been gangs in the US since the immigration started. This is because of the ethnic and cultural differences, caused by having immigrants from more than one nation. Initially, there were Irish, English, Scottish and German gangs. They were fighting with each others to control districts in the cities, which can be seen in the film Gangs of New York (Great film, by the way). The development from here has mostly involved new immigrants making new gangs for people of their nationality. The gangs probably had much influence on politics, giving hard and soft money to politicians that supported them.

The gangs mostly remained like this until the 1920s - the roaring twenties. During this period selling alcohol was prohibited, which caused organized smuggling, illegal production and bars. These were owned by gangs, although the term "mafia" may be more appropriate now. The mafia largely consisted of Italian and Russian families. Even after the Prohibition was removed, the mafia didn't disappear.

Along with the Civil Rights Movement, African-American gangs developed. Civil rights and organized crime stood quite close, an example of this is the Black Panther Party, which promoted violence and crime along with rights for black people.

Not much has happened since that time; there is an increase in Asian and South-American gangs and there are a few larger gangs that spread across multiple states and/or are not limited to one culture. There is also a separate system of prison gangs, these are largely based on ethnicity. You can see lists of American gangs here.

An interesting thing, is the gang tattoo-aspect. Most gangs have their own tattoo and it was common to tattoo a teardrop for every person you had killed. The picture is related to this, especially Asian and Hispanic gangs are famous for their tattoos. I would really like to make an update on this, but I don't think I will have to opportunity to - I guess this should have been the topic for my senior project.

tirsdag 14. april 2009

Martin Luther

Okay, it seems that I am REALLY bored today. So... My English teacher, who rules this blog like a dictator, has told us to write about "African America, Martin Lurther" This is obviously a mistake on her part (intending to write Martin Luther King Jr.), but why would that stop me from posting about Martin Luther?

Martin Luther is probably the most famous Christian reformator, especially in my part of the world. Here, he is to some degree seen as the one great man who stood alone against the evil Catholic church. People tend to forget people like Jan Hus and John Wycliffe, only because Hus got burnt and Wycliffe got his bones dug up, books burnt and declared a heretic. Luther just got lucky. When he was going to get killed, his mom got scared, and said "You're movin' with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air". Actually, he was kidnapped by German lords, because they wanted him to fight the Catholic church and the Holy Roman emperor.

And everybody knows what happened from there. Because this is only a fun-post, it won't be overly good. In the end, the "good guys" won against the Catholic church and it became split. This was not Luther's intention. It also caused wars: It began with civil wars in today's Germany and Czech Republic, but developed into a huge war for status as Europe's "superpowers". Actually, France (Catholic) supported the protestants, simply because they wanted the Holy Roman empire to lose power. These wars ended in the Peace of Augsburg and Westphalia. The Peace of Augsburg gave more religious freedom to the people in Germany, because the inhabitants of each tiny kingdom automatically had the same religion as their ruler. The Peace of Westfailia brought great development in diplomacy and the emperor lost power.

Oh, and before I forget it... Martin Luther greatly supported burning witches, and is probably a large factor for how many witches were burnt. For some reason I have difficulty finding a source on this :)

I don't think there will be any updates on this one, I made it for a laugh only.

2nd update on OneNote!

Because I don't have a life and is accordingly quite bored, I have decided to make an update on the program OneNote. The first post can be read here . I have now figured out most of the functions of this invaluable program.

Still, it's mostly for taking notes, but it works really great for this. It's also very handy while making a larger paper on something, because you can have several pages open at the same time. And the pages don't end anywhere! You can simply keep writing in every direction for as long as you want to. I used this a lot to do research for my senior project: I had sources on one page, various notes on several others and so on.

The best thing about OneNote is probably the auto save-function, which allows you to quit without thinking and taking the time with saving it at a specific location and format. The second best must be that it can handle so many different kinds of files. No, wait! The second best should be that it can recognize text in images. This means that you can take a screenshot (for example of my ugly blog) and paste it into OneNote, and it recognizes the text and you can search for it. The search function is also quite awesome.

The only things that are really bad in OneNote is that most other programs don't work with it. I can't copy things into OpenOffice at all and pasting text into an MSN-conversation (European version of AIM for rednecks) makes it become an image. The second bad thing is the price.


OpenOffice needs to make a version of OneNote as soon as possible. I'm close to installing Microsoft Word just to have something that works with OneNote, although I hate the new versions of Word.

I don't think anymore updates will follow on this one; Microsoft should be happy with two commercials on my blog. However, I might post short notes whenever "a wild function appeared" (Pokèmon-related humor).

tirsdag 31. mars 2009

Bloggers Challenge 2009

Good-day, non-existing readers!

Today I have a special assignment, I'm going to write: "Your story of how blogging has helped you connect to a global audience and what this connection has meant to you. e.g. the friends you have made, what you have learnt about other cultures, how you are able to share your passions with others, how you are able to use blogging to share your views on topics"

So, first off. Who's actually reading this blog except me, my English teacher and some poor American students who have been forced to, by their teacher? Well, I don't really know. Please comment somewhere if you're actually reading this by your own free will, if not I suppose you're a ninja. Yet, I have received comments from like three different people, so I haven't really "connected to a global audience". And is there really a global audience?

Personally, I don't read a blog voluntarily. They are either uninteresting or written in a wrong style. This could mean full of spelling errors, insanely advanced language, claims without evidence and so on. This makes it boring. I have not made friends through blogging, I have become even more certain that the southern states of the US are full of rednecks and I don't have a "passion" for most of the themes I'm blogging on and I don't share them as no-one reads my blog. However, I think I'm pretty able to "share my views on topics".

However "my views" might easily be dismissed as the rantings of a wacko, polar bear-eating, atheist, commie and anti-christ himself. On the other hand: Why would I care? I'm largely doing this to get top marks in English, and if nobody reads my blog, it's hardly my fault.

tirsdag 24. mars 2009

British political system

It seems that I have one more thing to post today - Something on the British Parliaments. So I'll write a tad on the "first past the post"-thing and how this works.

First off, the UK is divided into constituencies (counties or "states", you might say). There are 646 of these constituencies, and each one elects one MP (member of parliament) through the first past the post-system. This means that if there are two candidates, and if one scores 50,1% of the votes, he has won and his opponent gets nothing.

This causes an enormous amount of votes to be wasted: There are mainly three parties in England - Labour, Conservative and the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats are a bit smaller by number of votes, however this causes them to lose an insane amount of seats in the parliament. This causes the system to be largely controlled by two parties: Labour and Conservatives. This is very unfair to smaller parties.

However, it also provides strong cabinets. The cabinet will always have support in the majority of the parliament, whereas in Norway we get weak alliances and the cabinet can't do what it wants to do. Currently, our cabinet consists of three different parties, and they tend to disagree. And they are the first government in quite some time to hold the majority of our parliament. In the UK there's no way to ensure that the cabinet doesn't become tyrannic, it can only be removed by a majority in the parliament.

This means that when the have elections in the UK, they vote for their next five-year long dictatorship.

Obama on Leno-show

Hello again! This is my third, and hopefully final update today.

Very recently, Barack Obama was on the Jay Leno-show. He's the first US president to feature on the talk show, so it's a bit controversial. However, the the most interesting part was Obama's joke about his bowling skills (this is not in the video below). He said he was so bad at bowling that "it was like the Special Olympics, or something". This has been seen as a lack of understanding for the challenges that disabled people have to face.

I'm very positive to him being there. It's a good thing that the president can be in the media in a bit more informal setting, although it can give him an advantage to his political opponents. It's also an expansion of politics into arenas that people see as entertainment. This might be seen as unethical, but personally I see it as a good thing ("Zoon politikon"). This is a modern version of Roosevelt's talks on radio, and Obama's wife is now expanding the vegetable-garden in the White House, like Roosevelt's wife did.

Black America

In this update I will post a bit on black people's situation in the US today. I will happily ignore all the historical stuff, and focus on what things are like right now.

Since the 1950s there have been huge improvements. Back then black people worked in specific trades and jobs. They could be gigolos or private drivers, for instance. Black people had no political rights in many states, especially in the "deep south", and few civil rights. Additionally, everything was separated: Black people went to different schools, different public bathrooms and so on.

After the Civil Rights Movement there was put an end to the segregation. However, today the black community is split instead. One part is doing as well as the white population. They have as good jobs, health insurance e.g. as the white people. There is an increase in black political leadership, there's a black president and so on.

However, this is not the majority of the black population. A large proportion is still not equal to the average white people, and some groups are worse off today than earlier. Formally, they are given the same opportunities, however they live in areas with a high rate of crime and drug abuse, they have jobs with minimum wages, many have HIV/AIDS. Black people go far more often to prison than white people, this can also be seen as racism in the police and legal systems. Actually, more black people are in jail than in the colleges and universities, this might be a result of education being expensive in the US (Here I'd like some comments).

If higher education is expensive, this will help keeping the rich people rich and preventing the poor from becoming rich and successful. It stabilizes the society, however fighting crime, drug abuse and having people in prison requires enormous resources. And it's ethically wrong. In the US, people supposedly have the same chances, but if you can't pay for an education, this isn't really the case.

If the black population is to become a more functional part of the American society, the minimum wages must be raised, entry to colleges and universities should be practically free and health insurance must be removed. Regulating prices on housing could also be a good idea, because it would prevent the slums from becoming greater.

I don't believe any updates will follow on this topic, unless I am requested to. Please comment on the education system in the US!

More on Northern-Ireland

Last class, we received a lecture on the Norther-Ireland/Ireland conflict. It was quite interesting, but a bit long, so most of the student lost attention and fell into their computer screens (including me, unfortunately).

The conflict is often seen as religious, however this is not really the case. It's ethnic and political: England was at war with catholic France and Spain(?), and the Irish could help them attacking England. They figured that if the French/Spanish kept arms and soldiers in Ireland, an invasion would be easier for them. Accordingly, they conquered Ireland.

Since then, there have been various conflicts in Ireland. The main causes for this are bad treatment - they lived in worse areas and didn't get good jobs. The potato famine fired up under the conflicts and gradually increased. Then came the war of independence in 1912, causing Ireland to gain home rule, while Northern-Ireland remained a part of the United Kingdom.

In Northern-Ireland the Catholics were still not treated as well as the Protestant population, which led to The Troubles. The conflicts developed into a full-scale civil war, between the IRA and the Unionists. This caused the Prime Minister of the UK to directly rule in Northern-Ireland, which at the time was Maggie Thatcher. She allowed captured IRA fighters to starve to death, because they wanted status as political prisoners, while she saw them as ordinary criminals.

Today things are stirring in Northern-Ireland again. There's no apparent cause for the conflict, except for the reconciliation. I have already written a note on this, you can read it here.

søndag 8. mars 2009

Promoting OneNote

I have been required to post something on my blog about Microsoft OneNote. The program seems quite nice, especially practical is the autosave-function, which means that you can just quit it without saving anything. You can store all kinds of information in OneNote: Text, images, video (I think), sound and so on. This makes it a handy tool for noting things, because you store everything in the same location, rather than looking up 4-5 different files.

The idea behind OneNote is great, however the organization of the program is a bit hard to understand at first. You have notebooks that are divided into categories and the categories are divided into pages and sub-pages. It would probably be easier if you only had categories with pages and sub-pages.

A really awesome function in OneNote is that you can search for text. That doesn't sound too special, except this search also includes text in images. You can take a picture off the Internet and make the program recognize the text in it. I might have to test how good it is at this function, it might be somewhat limited. As of yet, I have tested it on my blog and the wikipedia, both working fine. It even includes links in pictures, with is really practical. It's annoying when you have a screen shot and need the link in it.

Another update should follow, I have to get a bit more used to OneNote first.

tirsdag 3. mars 2009

Individual project

Hi again!

We're now about to start working on a larger project in English social studies. Currently, it seems like I'm going to look into the diamond industry. I'm looking to explore how it works, whether it's ruled by (De Beers) cartels and how it became like this. Further I want to discuss if the industry exploits third world countries, and how it's able to do this. Finally, I want to study what impact the "financial crisis" has had on the diamond industry so far, and what will/might happen in the future.

The paper is supposed to be in less than five pages, this might become an issue. Which problems to address can (and probably will) be changed, because of the page limit. Other sub-subjects can also occur, I'll try to keep the blog a tad updated on this.

First, I have to start collecting information and gathering links. In this task, I have to be incredibly careful with what sources I rely on. From there, making a draft will probably be my priority #1. In the end, it will a hand-in paper (presumably an argumentative text) and a lecture.

tirsdag 10. februar 2009

Legally gaming in English lessons

Today Mrs. Michaelsen requested Mr. Fossum and me to play a computer game. The game, Urban Design Associates, is under development and our teacher wanted us to make a small review of it.

The site was nice: The design was practical and good looking. However, how to find and start the game wasn't obvious. After a bit of wondering, I figured out that the maps found in the category "Project: State Street" was the actual game. First there was information about the street, this was nice, but the design was boring, there was no extra scrolling device while reading the text and some places there was too much information (such as the timeline).

Next, I went to the practice map, first I didn't realize what I was supposed to do here. There should have been some kind of tutorial, although our teacher should have explained it to us before we started. When I finally figured out what to do, the difficulty was to remember the codes for different zones. This should have been placed in the screen, so that you can see it all the time, or the names of the zones should be full names rather than codes. However, it didn't take long before I remembered most of the codes.

I assume that this game is about learning to co-operate, accept different views and making compromises. This is not very obvious: When you prefer one type of zone, or ignore other zones, there should be reactions to it. Without this aspect, it becomes a city planning game, and as this it's easily beaten by SimCity 3000 and such. All in all, I find the game bad-looking, somewhat incomprehensible and plain dull.

I might post more on this subject later, but I doubt it.

tirsdag 3. februar 2009

Reconciliation in Northern-Ireland

Today an article was printed in a Norwegian newspaper, called Aftenposten. A new report wants to give all the the victims of violence financial support of about 10 000 £. There is however a great upset because this includes the families of the terrorists from back then. This is seen by the victims as giving money to terrorists, thus paying them for their actions.

I find this to be wrong, perhaps the victims should get money for their losses, but certainly not the terrorists. Additionally, I think that if this is to be done, they should wait until after the so-called financial crisis, when the government might actually be able to afford it.

In this reconciliation-plan, the IRA and other paramilitary groups have to apologize for their actions and promise never to use violence again. I find this nearly as problematic as the financial part. This is because they did what they believed was right, they fought for their own freedom and rights, and to apologize for this is to submit to English rule. If they also swear not to use violence, they have lost their edge, and hope of gaining home rule.

I have earlier done some work on the conflict in Ireland/Northern-Ireland, and I might post some of it here. Video is a song from the IRA, and somewhat funny.

tirsdag 27. januar 2009

A bit on me and my local environment

It appears that I'm going to write a bit on myself, while trying to preserve a certain degree of anonymity, and the area I live in. As my readers might already know, I'm Norwegian. Yes, it's that long thing close to the icy-thing. Currently, I live close to the capitol, Oslo. Oslo has about half a million citizens. However, I live about twenty minutes away from the central parts of Oslo, if traveling by bus. As you now should guess, I live in a suburb. If you go to the Wikipedia article I linked up with Oslo and look at this map, I live in the tiny area left of it.

The suburb, called Baerum, has about 100,000 inhabitants. Mostly rich people live here, and they are quite conservative. My school is about five miles away from my house, I travel there by bicycle, except when there's snow or I don't have enough time. The school is located in a tiny city, perhaps more like a village. I have 9 or 10 different subjects, such as Norwegian, P.E., religion, history and so on. The picture is of the city-looking place, where my school is located.

Next year, I will go to a university, either in the southern-parts of Norway or up in the north, where it's colder and they have reindeer and polar bears roaming the streets. I looks like I'll be studying political science, and I want to specialize in human rights.

tirsdag 20. januar 2009

Speech by David Cameron on devolution

Welcome back to my blog, dear readers!

Today I'm going to write a bit on devolution and what the Conservative Party thinks about it. Cameron, leader of the Conservatives believes that the Union should be maintained, and that the Scottish (and presumably also the Welsh and Irish) should be governed as much as possible by the United Kingdom, rather than becoming independent.

In a speech he held in Edinburgh last autumn he spoke out for maintaining the union between England and Scotland, because they are one nation, as they share culture, language and history, in fact almost one people.

The union began in 1707 as an alliance against France and Spain, but was never resolved. Today England is largely dominating the union, because Scotland only has 59 MPs in London out of 646 MPs (House of Commons). This means that Scotland has little impact on national policies, although there are more than 5 million inhabitants in Scotland.

Cameron's reason for keeping the union could be influenced by Scotland's economy. There are oil and gas reserves in Scottish territory, the unemployment rate is low and they have a lot of heavy industry. Edinburgh is a great financial center. Scottish economy could be used to help England through a financial crisis, or be used at developing the economy in England rather than in Scotland.

Video hopefully related, as it's David Cameron's speech.

søndag 11. januar 2009

A bit more on 'Into the Wild'

Currently, I am done with the novel, so this will be my personal review of it. The plot of Into the Wild was summarized in the previous post, but in case my readers are too lazy to scroll, I will make another one.

The story is about a young man, called McCandless (see picture in previous post), who hitchhiked around in the US, from California to Mexico, to Alaska. The novel is based on a true story, and McCandless's corpse was found in Alaska, in the middle of nowhere. The author attempts to explore why he left home and how he managed to survive for so long, without any equipment or experience, apart from fictional novels on surviving the wild. The novel is very popular, and has even been made into a film, with the same title as the novel. The trailer for the film is below.

At first, I found the novel to be interesting, however it got incredibly boring. The entire plot is revealed at the beginning, so that you know what will happen throughout the book. This dramatically decreases the reader's motivation for reading it cover to cover. The motivation is further decreased by the structure of the novel. It recites the actions of McCandless; where he's going, how he's staying and surviving, and supports this by short interviews with the people he met.

All the people McCandless met, seemed to think of him as a saint. He was apparently amazing in every aspect of life, excepting the fact that he ran away from home and didn't contact his parents for ages. The novel is written in a documentary-like style, and this seems to be a style of reading that doesn't fit me at all. If the story had been written in an ordinary, exciting fiction-style, it may have been able to maintain my interest. It is way too repetitive, as McCandless is only going across the country meeting people.

As for the pseudo-psychological aspect of the novel, it isn't sufficient. The author is mainly showing the same sides of McCandless, through the eyes of the people that had met him on the road. All of them were equally dazzled by his awesomeness, and the author doesn't show the darker side, which is clearly there. McCandless ran away from home right after college, giving away all his money, ditching his car, changing his name and, most importantly, not having ANY contact with his family. This aspect, and how/if society is somehow causing this, is barely covered in the novel, and that is what is interesting to people who aren't into hitchhiking, mountaineering and so on.

The remains are a boring novel about a kid running around in the US.