Category Archives: General

Again, with the Geeky stuff

Every once in a while I post links that I think authors who write about fighting should know of. I do not know how many unrealistic fight scenes I have read and how much idiotic protection people wear, but there have been a lot of them. Medieval fight scenes are a particular pet peeve of mine.

Writing solely for entertainment is OK. I can read stories with idiotic fight scenes and still be entertained. But I probably won’t review that story unless the author has asked me to. Although I try to phrase things as nicely as possibly, I have tell readers that the fighting in the story is unrealistic.

Snapjelly has one of the greater sites on medieval sword fighting I have found. He’ll try to answer any question. If you scroll down this link to his videos on Youtube, you will probably find answers to most questions about that kind of fighting. This video should illustrate that the dude knows what he is talking about.



Bourrelle, Julien S; The Social Guidebook to Norway; Mondå Forlag, 2016

Illustrated by Nicholas Lund

As part of a lecture by Julien S. Bourrelle my husband was handed The Social Guidebook to Norway: An Illustrated Introduction. When he showed to me, I stole it.

In some ways Norway is a dream come true for an Aspie. Touch and chit-chat are not recommended. In other ways, not so much. Facial expressions, understanding when people are joking and when conversation is allowed are areas where I mess up a lot. Our non-verbal language is extremely controlled, something that can make us stimming highly visible. “Janteloven”, that Bourrelle has translated to English, as presented in Bourrelle and Lund’s book, is one that I have yet to understand and am not certain is correct any longer.

The Social Guidebook is designed with a short text that explains a social rule on the left-hand page. On the right-hand page there is a cartoon that partly illustrates that text. All of the cartoons must be read together with the text for the cartoon to make any sense. Bourrelle first gives an example of what “the rest” of the world does in a given situation. Then he gives an example of Norwegian behaviour in a similar setting. As he points out, these are stereotypic examples. I believe I have seen all of them in real life.

When travelling to Norway, or any country, finding easy to understand explanations of social rules can be difficult. The Social Guidebook to Norway, illustrated by Nicholas Lund, helps solve that problem. I liked it.

Identifying with characters in stories

As a young girl and woman (and even now) it was difficult to find female characters that I could identify with. I am white, nerdy, Asperger (although I did not know this at that time) and Norwegian. As time passed more female characters entered the scene, but their roles were often romantic seconds. Not until the last few years have great female characters become more common. Finding characters that you can identify with if you belong to any female minority must be extremely difficult. Perhaps especially in a society as misogynistic as the US.

Along comes Marley Dias who is 11 years old. This amazing girl manages to launch a book-collection campaign focusing on books with black girls as main characters. I would never have dared, or even come up with, such a thing when I was 11. How can I do anything but look up to such a wonderful person?

Marley Dias, 11, Launches Social Action Campaign to Collect #1000BlackGirlBooks

Marley Dias Book Drive 1,000 Black Girl Books
11 year-old Marley Dias at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown, collecting books as part of her #1000BlackGirlBooks social action project. (JANICE DIAS/FOR PHILLYVOICE)

In the past year, Philadelphia native Marley Dias has successfully written a proposal for (and received) a Disney Friends for Change grant, served food to orphans in Ghana and recently launched a book club.

Dias is 11 years old.

“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well,” Dias told PhillyVoice. “I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects — and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore.”

Dias’ latest social action project is the #1000BlackGirlBooks book drive. Frustrated with many of the books she’s assigned in school, she confessed to her mother during dinner one night that she was unhappy with how monochromatic so many stories felt.

“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.” ………….

The rest of the article may be read on Good Black News

Terry Pratchett: Long live the King. The King is dead.

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Yesterday, Terry Pratchett died, only 68 years old. All of 68 years old. I’m guttered.

Once Pratchett told us about his Alzheimer, my intellect told me we would only have a few years more of him. Now that the moment has arrived, those years seem too short for a person who became a dear friend.

I never met Mr. (Sir) Pratchett. Or maybe I did. His books, his documentary and his speeches have all made my days brighter. All revealed a side I, the public, could partake of.

When Snuff and She Wears Midnight came out, and I had completed the books, I remember just sitting there needing to digest the stories. They felt like a first goodbye from Terry. Then came the public appearances when people had to read his speeches out loud for him. Writing them weren’t the problem, as long as someone else could type his dictation. As long as another person could read out loud what he had dictated. Alzheimer had taken the ability to recognize physical objects.

I miss him. Already! Hopefully, the love of the world will bring some small comfort to his near and dear ones.

Artist: Aville
Artist: Aville

“Sometimes I get nice letters from people who know they’re due to meet him (Death) soon, and hope I’ve got him right.
Those are the kind of letters that cause me to stare at the wall for some time.”
― Terry Pratchett, The Art of Discworld


Hurtado, Aída: The Color of Privilege: Three Blasphemies on Race and Feminism: Page 135

Trick Number 6: The Pendejo Game

When you, the outsider, come close to subverting my power through the sheer strength of your moral arguments or through organized mass protest, I will give you an audience. I will listen to you, sometimes for the first time, and will seem engaged. At critical points in your analysis I will claim I do not know what you are talking about and will ask you to elaborate ad nauseam. I will consistently subvert your efforts at dialogue by “claiming we do not speak the same language.” I will assert that many of our differences, if not all, are due to our different ways of communicating. I will ask you to educate me and spend your energies in finding ways of saying things so that I can understand. I will not do the same for you. Instead of using your resources to advance your causes, I will see you like a rat in a cage running around trying to find ways to explain the cage to me, while I hold the key to open the door. At the same time, I will convince you that I have no ill intentions toward you or those like you. I am simply not informed. The claim of ignorance is one of my most powerful weapons because, while you spend your time trying to enlighten me, everything remains the same. The “Pendejo Game” will also allow me to gain intimate knowledge of your psyche, which will perfect my understanding of how to dominate you.

Great horny toads

Yosemite sameYosemite Sam – Great horny toads

Great horny toads: An interjection used to exclaim surprise or astonishment. Has redneck-ish (and even sexual) connotations and is perhaps used mainly in rural America. Also known to be occasionally used by the Looney Toons cartoon character Yosemite Sam. (Urban dictionary)

Pandora’s Box: A Discussion on the Hobby Lobby Verdict

The Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court in the USA has the potential of being a decision that will impact not only them but other countries as well. Dylan Greene’s essay on the subject is amazing.

Parable of the Isms (1935-)


Feudalism: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk. (Anonymous)

Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. (Silas Strawn, 1935)

Pure socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need. (Anonymous)

Bureaucratic socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as the regulations say you should need. (Anonymous)

Communism: You have two cows. You give them to the Government, and the Government then gives you some milk. (Silas Strawn, 1935)

Pure communism: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk. (Anonymous)

Applied communism: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

Fascism: You have two cows. You give them to the Government, and the Government then sells you some milk. (Silas Strawn, 1935)

Militarianism: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you. (Anonymous)

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. (Silas Strawn, 1935) Then put both of them in your wife’s name and declare bankruptcy.  (Pat Paulsen, 1968)

Nazism (dictatorship): You have two cows. The Government takes both and shoots you. (Silas Strawn, 1935)

New Dealism: You have two cows. The Government takes both, shoots one, buys milk from the other cow, then pours the milk down the drain. (Silas Strawn, 1935)

Environmentalism: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them. (Anonymous)

Totalitarianism: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned. (Anonymous)

Pure democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk. (Anonymous)

Representative democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk. (Anonymous)

American democracy: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair “Cowgate”. (Anonymous)

British democracy: You have two cows. You feed them sheeps’ brains and they go mad. The government doesn’t do anything. (Anonymous)

Singapore democracy: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment. (Anonymous)

Anarchy: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to kill you and take the cows. (Anonymous)

Political correctness: You are associated with (the concept of “ownership” is a symbol of the phallocentric, warmongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of nonspecified gender. (Anonymous)

Counterculture: Wow, dude, there’s like… these two cows, man. You have got to have some of this milk. I mean totally. (Anonymous)

Surrealism: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons. (Anonymous)

Therapyism: You have two cows. One is a metaphor for your inner child. The other is the manifestation of anger toward a parental figure. You take one of the cows on walks through grassy fields by the gentle ocean waves. The other you beat with an anger bat. (©2007 Mike McLoughlin, Executive Director, Memphis Recovery Centers)

Recoveryism: You have twelve cows … and a sponsor. (©2007 Mike McLoughlin, Executive Director, Memphis Recovery Centers)

Insurancism: You have two cows. The Federal regulator requires you to hold one cow in reserve because they predict a shortage of milk. The Provincial/State regulator requires you to drop the price of milk because they predict a surplus of milk. The courts deem your cows inherently dangerous and order you to provide free milk to anyone who has ever been frightened by a farm animal. The marketing people are promising chocolate milk at an enhanced commission and you discover your own actuaries have been building pricing models assuming goats instead to save on the expense line. (©2002 Saskia Oltheten Matheson)

Russian company: You have two cows. You drink some vodka and count them again. You have five cows. The Russian Mafia shows up and takes however many cows you have.

Californian company: You have a million cows. Most of them are undocumented immigrants.

US Company: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why
the cow has dropped dead.

Greek company: You have two cows. You borrow lots of euros to build barns, milking sheds, hay stores, feed sheds, dairies, cold stores, abattoir, cheese unit and packing sheds. You still only have two cows.

French company: You have two cows. You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

Japanese company: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called a Cowkimona and market it worldwide.

Italian company: You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch.

Swiss company: You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.

Chinese company: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

Indian company: You have two cows. You worship them.

British company: You have two cows. Both are mad.

Iraqi company: Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb the ** out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least you are now a Democracy.

Australian company: You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

New Zealand company: You have two cows. The one on the left looks very attractive…

United nationism: You have two cows. France vetoes you from milking them. The United States and Britain veto the cows from milking you. New Zealand abstains.

Frisbeetarianism: You have two cows. One of them flies up on the roof and gets stuck. You hope the government provides cow ladders.

Intel Pentium 60 – A80501-60: You have 2.0000000056987983 cows.

In the marketing department: Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of two thousand millicows!

Political philosophy / Wikipedia / Lillic0rr

INTA's methane collecting cows
Image source: INTA: purified methane is used to generate heat, light and motor energy.

Argentina’s INTA governmental research body has developed cow backpacks that trap its daily 300 litres (or 80 gallons) of methane in order to turn it into green energy. Researchers claim the process is painless for the cow.

My Experience with Sexual Assault: The Epitome of Common

Sadly, this story is a common one for both women and men. I wish, I wish, I wish we could all take it to heart and stop our abuse of others however that abuse might express itself.


SexualAbuse2 By Ali Greene

I have been sexually assaulted three times in my life.

I am sharing my story not because it is fun, but because it is the epitome of common. I hope to help others who have been hurt, and who might be at risk for further harm.

Around age seven, fresh off the tails of my parents’ messy divorce, I became close friends with a neighborhood girl just a few years my senior. I was vulnerable and in need of guidance. Over the next six years I hung on her every word, and believed she wanted the best for me. 

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2013 September: Ten poorest states in the US

This is a post I have on another blog of mine. Thought it might be of interest to some of you who are interested in the US.

CSFES Norway


In this post I am going to look at which states struggle the most economically. In addition I will try to include the worst and best schools of that state and finally I’ll see if there are high risk cities/towns/places in the state.

Although things are looking better in the US, they still have a ways to go economically. According to the US Census Bureau their latest numbers show that the ten poorest states are:

  1. Mississippi                   22,6 %
  2. New Mexico                21.5 %
  3. Louisiana                      20,4 %
  4. Arkansas                      19,5 %
  5. Georgia                        19,1 %
  6. Kentucky                     19,1 %
  7. Alabama                      19,0 %
  8. Arizona                        19,0 %
  9. South Carolina             18,9 %
  10. District of Columbia     18,7 %

Foreign exchange students are sent to all ten of these states.


Our journey begins with the poorest of…

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Shakespeare, William: My thoughts

There have been a couple of books that I’ve read lately that reminded me of my experiences with William Shakespeare. These books are: Philippa Ballantines Chasing the Bard and Deborah Harkness’ Shadow of Night.

I feel kind of pretentious in writing about William Shakespeare’s. I will not pretend that I have read all his work, but I have read some. The ones I have read have been fun, annoying, boring and adventurous.

The good ol’ days. Isn’t that what we get told all of the time. “Back when … things were soooooo much better”. Seriously???? I never understood that. What was the Elizabethan period like?

Bloody awful, in my opinion. If you have cleaning OCD, you would have hated living back then. The sanitation systems were non-existent. People threw night pots out their windows and poor person walking beneath. Death rates were high. Life expectancy was low. Women were chattel (pretty much like a lot of places today).

Like today, being wealthy was a whole lot healthier than being poor. Around this time people in William’s England were finally beginning to find their way out of darkness. Due to expansionism and changes in laws, people were somewhat able to change their financial status. Being thrown into jail for what you said was a little less likely. That made it possible for the English renaissance to flower, which is why I get to write about dear old William.

While in High School (Olympus High, SLC, UT) I took a class called “English Litterature”. In it I became acquainted with not only William but a great deal of other great authors from England. But because of his prolificity, William did take up a great deal of time in our classes. We memorised monologues, watched movies and read through plays.

I think maybe my first meeting with Shakespeare came some years earlier. I believe I must have been in 7th grade here in Norway. One day my class visited the local theater and watched a dress-rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet. I seem to remember a spark being lit then, a spark that flared a bit more in high School.

What was there about Shakespeare that could possibly appeal to a 12 year old. Words. The sound of the combination of words. Later, when I had to memorise monologues from Hamlet, the combination of words made it easier for me. Shakespeare combines his words in a way that drove me as a reader onward.

Shakespeare is one of those writers that makes me want to read his texts out loud. The formation of the words in my mouth has a texture that is very appealing. When my ears hear those words they grab on to them and I have what I call a brain orgasm.

You see, being on the autism spectrum is often advantageous (if it isn’t too prevalent). While mine is mild, it is there. I imagine others on the autism spectrum feel the same way about their obsessions. To me it is all about the combination of words.

Shakespeare’s poems and sonnets are more difficult for me to access. Any poem or sonnet for that matter. I suck at analysing and only get the surface stuff. But for me the surface stuff of Shakespeare gives a pretty intense feeling.

As you see below there are sites upon sites about William Shakespeare. Whether or not a person by the name of William Shakespeare wrote all that he has been credited with is irrelevant to me. The most important thing about the works of William Shakespeare is that they have withstood the test of time and can be a guide in our everyday lives if we delve into them. They are full of action, comedy, love, soap, fantasy and tragedy.


Malala Yousafzai on the mend

I admit it. I am a feminist. As a feminist I find it natural to be a supporter of equal rights to all no matter what age, gender, skin tone, sexuality, class or cultural or religious background. But I am not the bravest person around.

One of the candidates for bravery of the year would have to be Malala Yousafzai. Her willingness to put herself in danger for trying to get an education, is worthy of many a prize. And she is not alone in trying to get what she deserves in a quiet but determined manner. Unfortunately, people like this are never popular. Neither was she, and she was shot.

Thankfully, the world rallied and Malala is seemingly on the mend now. I really hope she pulls through and keeps on being a bright light for the world to see.

My childhood literature

After writing about what got my two sons reading, I started thinking about the books that I read as a child. I have no idea what my parents read to me. But I do remember some of what I read myself. Getting a book for x-mas or b-days was a gift highlight. Usually we got practical gifts, but every once in a while someone found it in their hearts to give a book-hungry child just that. Even way back then I was addicted.

My parents had books from their own childhood that I got to read. These were everything from Jules Verne and Rudyard Kipling to the Bobsey Twins. My heroes were Pippi Langstrømpe (Longstocking) and Nancy Drew. If I wanted to read something comforting and cozy, I would choose animal stories or Norway’s own Anne Cath. Vestly. Her books are wonderful for children, describing life as it is without sugar-coating anything.

If I wanted to be frightened, I would read folk tales. The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen were favorites. I would sneak read HCA because my parents had a lovely leather-bound edition of his tales, and we were not allowed to touch it without permission. Folk tales are gory, explicit and seldom “happily ever after”. Horror for children and adults would probably be an appropriate category to place them in.

Sometimes I tried to read the books my parents liked, but they weren’t all that interesting for a child. Madame Bovary and I Saw Him Die just didn’t appeal to me the same way Jungle Boy did.

There were many important lessons reading taught me. One was that it was OK to read a book twice. Nature was fascinating. Reading the end before I had finished the whole book was also just fine (no lightning strikes). If life got to be too much, a book would lighten the load. Subject matter, complexity or level did not matter. Help was to be found for a lonely little girl. No wonder I love books so much.

Weber, Max: On Bureaucracy (Iron Cage)

It is easy to see the despair of this man sitting in his iron cage. For some reason he’s stuck there and probably will be for quite some time. This despair is part of what Max Weber wishes to illustrate with his description of bureaucracy’s iron cage.

Rules are good. They are part of what makes it possible to have a functioning society. But sometimes (or maybe all the time) power ends up with the few (like Hitler’s Germany). Having just read “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” I was reminded of Weber’s work. Along with Ervin Staub I think Weber manages to prompt insight into our own and society’s darker potential. Wikipedia manages to give an easily understood description of Weber’s thoughts on bureaucracy and rationalization.

Through rationalisation and dehumanization through strange bureaucratic rules, a group of people like the Jews experienced the Holocaust. While the Jews were dehumanized, it was also easier for those who sat behind their desks following whatever regulations were sent their way to rationalise away that humanity.

Adolph Eichmann is a classic in that regard. He could/would not see that he had done anything wrong for he had only “followed directives”. In fact his only regret was that they had not done a good enough job. But Eichmann wasn’t anything unusual when you look at the role beureaucracy has had in making lives more difficult or even horrible for others. Sometimes one might even wonder if along the way some bureaucrats lost their own humanity and as such became slaves of a system that they depended upon to give them their wages.

The Boys” by Martin Gilbert is another book that illustrates the effects of such a dehumanization of people. It seems to me that we need to be aware of our darker sides. Only through acknowledging them will we be able to make conscious choices (for good or bad).

In my opinion all of these authors ought to be on everyone’s must-read list.

Norwegian article that illustrates Weber’s theory in practice