Friday, March 09, 2001

Den som offentlig ytrer seg p� en m�te som viser ringeakt, herunder ved bruk av rasistiske symboler og kjennetegn, for en person eller gruppe av personer p� grunn av deres religion, rase, hudfarge, nasjonale eller etniske opprinnelse, straffes med b�ter eller fengsel inntil 1 �r. Bestemmelsen omfatter ogs� spredning av materiale som viser slik ringeakt.

The proposed new version of � 135 a, from a report commisioned by the norwegian Department of Justice. The report compares our legislation against racism and nazism to that in Sweden and Germany, and suggests copying some of their anti-nazi measures. In effect, nazi symbols and ideas - as defined by the court, not the law - will be illegal, (more than today, even), and demonstrations suspected of breaking this law may be denied in advance. If this law is passed, (and there are clear indications that it may), it will be a sad day for freedom of speech in Norway. The internet continues to prove every day that political censorship is counter-productive and immoral. I've discussed politics, freedom of speech and the Holocaust with neo-nazis - I know what they believe and why they are wrong. Do you?

This weeks school shooting in the US starts off another round of painful "that could have been me" comments at Kuro5hin. When things like these happen, whose version of the story are you going to trust? The friends, parents and teachers who didn't see it coming, or the people who almost did it themselves?

So a bunch of news sites I don't read are in trouble. Apparently this is big news in some other universe. Life goes on. I was on the net before the dawt com's, and I'll be updating inexpensive websites with inexpensive equipment long after everyone has forgotten that you could once launch expensive portals that looked like TV or looked like newspapers, but never like websites, expect to fund it with ads, and not get kicked out of the window by your investors. Ken Layne sums it up:

What does this mean for You, the Common Loser? Who cares!

Well, one good thing is this huge fancy network of computers that lets a wino like me post whatever he wants for dozens or hundreds or thousands or millions to see. It's like having a Free GoodYear Blimp. I'm not trying to make money off the Internet, are you? No, that's the folly of folks like David "CEO" Talbot.

And now for something completely beautiful: Al Mashriq, a huge website on middle east culture, with literally thousands of photographs from Lebanon and other countries. There is nothing special about the photographs, they show random landscapes, cities, people, little that would ever look good on a postcard - but this is the real middle east, the one people live in and die for.

Webmaster Børre Ludvigsen, who has taken most of the photographs, also has a travel log from the April War of 1996, ending with the massacre at Qana. Not beautiful, not funny, only real.

Thursday, March 08, 2001

Added thinking with my fingers, a weblog on MUDs and more, by Torill Mortensen, to my list of norwegian blogs and online diaries. Speaking of which, some of the blogs listed as active haven't been updated for weeks. How long I should wait before I declare them dead? A month, perhaps?

Today being March 8th, I suppose I should say a few words about women. I support them! I think they're doing a mighty fine job, and I wish them all possible luck in the future. I am taking a bold stand for women today, and I encourage everyone to share the celebration.

As for the banners some people will be carrying around:
- Ja til 6-timersdagen
- Porno er vold mot kvinner. Pornoen bort fra Narvesen
- Forsvar velferdsstaten - nei til privatisering
- Kvinner til kamp mot globalisering, privatisering og kvinnehandel
- Kriminaliser horekundene. Prostitusjon er ikke arbeid
- Knus nazismen - bekjemp rasismen
Hey, who died and left the socialists in charge of representing women?

Skalman testar droger i senaste numret av Bamse.��Han dricker mystiska drycker och sv�var p� rosa moln. - Det �r ol�mpligt att dra de h�r parallellerna i en serietidning som v�nder sig till barn, s�ger barnombudsmannen Lena Nyberg.

Skallman on drugs? It's not as serious as it sounds, it's actually quite the opposite. Skallman represents enlightenment and reason in Bamse, (a popular swedish childrens comic I grew up with). Apparently he tries a few psychedelic drugs in the latest issue, decides drugs are evil, and chases away the drug dealer, (all hidden behind a thin layer of euphemisms.) Very sensible and in character, typical of a social democratic comic that never avoided an opportunity to educate (and often moralize). Unfortunately it mentions drugs, which seems to be enough for stores to have started hiding this months issue away, (up in the porn section, I would assume.)

Once again I'm confused by the inability of censors and moral guardians to pick their enemies. Just once I would like a group of concerned parents to attack something that actually threatens the wellbeing of their children - these things exists, you know, usually in real life, and right under the noses of parents and teachers. Oh, and could somebody please inform the christians that the energetic rhythms and guitar riffs of rock'n roll has done more harm to their religion than the lyrics of that boring poseur Marilyn Manson? (On second thought, don't.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Note to self: Avoid using silly Monthy Python references as variable names in perl code you have to debug five months later.

Oh, btw: Imagine you have five minutes left before your favourite music download service closes down, what song do you download? Wobbler, by Fluke. If a barricade around this hypothetical company's Silicon Valley office delays the shutdown by 30 minutes, try get OK, Setback, and the rest of Oto as well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Saw Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo just now. Apart from the style, grace and beauty that used to come so naturally to Hollywood movies, I didn't much like the first half. When Karenina said I love him, it reminded me of Groucho Marx, (this doesn't necessarily mean anything, I see him everywhere) - and I never really understood why she fled off with that Vronskij fellow anyway. But once that was settled, and Garbo could start acting grim and tortured, the movie got so much better.

Great scene: Karenina and Vronskij entering the opera.
  "Why? It isn't a secret."
  "But there is something so
public about an opera."

What is Kuro5hin? Good question.

Matt Welch at Online Journalism Review has written a great article about online journalism and big corporations. His take on the online vs traditional journalism debate is that those who for years have been selling out their journalistic principles will find it even easier to do so on the web, but the web also makes it easier for the independents and idealists to make a difference, (and I agree.) Matt Welch and Ken Layne at OJR are themselves good examples of the latter.

A 21-year-old Canadian Web entrepreneur is planning to circumvent the imminent demise of Napster Inc.'s controversial Internet song-trading system by setting up a clone of the service on a so-called "data haven" platform off the coast of Britain.

War is brewing. Many seem to think that Napster started a war against the music industry, but I disagree. There were no injuries, - there is no clear proof that people have stopped buying CD's after Napster arrived. In the long run, this might have happened, but so far the only injuries in this war are Napster Inc and millions of music lovers who will gradually find it more and more difficult to explore music this spring. Even if you think all piracy is wrong, Napster has still served a purpose. In my opinion, both artists and music lovers are better off with a more efficient distribution model for music. And without Napster, the music industry wouldn't even be considering alternatives to todays inefficient, over-expensive audio CD's.

The real war starts when these legitimate music download sites must compete against services that can't be destroyed with a simple lawsuit. The nature of some of them, (like FreeNet and the data haven Napster mentioned above), is such that the only way to really combat them would be to intrude on everyones privacy, prosecute and severely punish individual kid-next-door pirates, and censor net traffic to piracy-friendly countries. How far are we willing to go? How far do we have to go? In the end, as always, it comes down to human nature. I believe in it, sort of. I believe that if there are two equally good music download sites available, one legal, and one illegal, then enough people will choose the legal alternative to pay the bills of the brilliant people who actually create music. I know I will, if only a legal Napster could pop up or otherwise excellent EMusic would start compressing at more than 128kbps. Some piracy will always exist, this must be accepted, and until I see clear, undeniable proof that music piracy kills the livelihood of artists, (and not just a few corporate dinosaurs), I cannot support a full-out War On Piracy.

Monday, March 05, 2001

A story on journalistic standards on the web at kuro5hin. Oddly lists the Drudge Report as one of the unprofessional ones. Funny how predictable bias is often assumed to be less trustworthy than hidden (and therefore unpredictable) bias.

A much more interesting k5 story on journalism is this one on identifying media bias.

I find it delightfully ironic that the web domain of Norsk Språkråd, our national protectors of the norwegian language, is, (språkråd without the scandinavian å). It reminds me of a scene from Life of Brian:
  "What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?!"
  "It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression!"
  "Symbolic of his struggle against reality."

These are the people whose countless crimes include inventing silly norwegian translations of english computer terms. Not out of any esthetical principle, but to protect our culture.

I'm of the opinion that if you can, you should always write english on the web. (Ok, I realize I broke that rule last week, but I forgot myself). This isn't just a practical issue - writing in english increases your potential number of readers by houndreds of millions, and gurantees that your words can be read several centuries from now - it also helps to protect and spread norwegian culture. Culture is not language. Norwegian culture may be hard to define, but whatever it is, there's some of it in everyone who lives here, and when you write in english you are actually doing your part spreading norwegian culture to the rest of the english reading world. And if you happen to believe norwegian culture is dangerous, and should be put to death, (some people do), the best thing you can do is never to write anything but norwegian, (preferably an obscure dialect!) The laws of cultural imperialism will take care of the rest.

But please, don't tell the french.

When I lived in Mo i Rana, Nordland, it was common knowledge that the major media in the urban south-east, in Oslo, ignored the north. The further something happened from downtown Oslo, (where most of the national media and government institutions are located), the less likely it would be reported at all. Since I moved south myself, I stopped noticing the bias, but think about it: There are half a million people in northern Norway, between one and a half and two million if you add Tr�ndelag and the west, (out of a total of four and a half). How much have you read about these areas lately? Anything at all?

I was reminded of this when, for once, some news from the north actually managed to sneak by Akersgata editors: Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg was met by angry protestors when he visisted Vads� recently. Apparently Finnmark is having serious problems: people are moving south, the industry is falling apart, and they feel ignored by the government. A commentator in Dagsavisen (of all places!) replied by telling them to stop whining, using Groruddalen in Oslo (where I live myself) as an example of how lucky people in Finnmark are. For once I might be tempted to agree with Dagsavisen, the people of Finnmark have plenty of social and economical benefits, and are disproportionally represented (2:1!) in the parliament. But the feeling of being ignored is propably accurate, and typical of areas far away from centralized power. They should stop whining, but perhaps they also deserve more power over their own affairs. Then they can't blame Oslo when things go wrong.

Sunday, March 04, 2001

Submit questions to Forum 3000, and get intelligent advice from some of the worlds greatest philosophers!

In other news, I couldn't get the beautiful theme from Joe Kidd (1972) out of my head this morning. (It stopped when I put on Public Enemy.)

Fully expecting AudioGalaxy to follow Napster down the drain, I've been downloading music like mad this weekend. AudioGalaxy is superior to Napster in so many ways. When I downloaded 3 Public Enemy albums yesterday it took me an average of 30 seconds to find each song at >128kbps, - and then up to an hour waiting for the downloads to finish. Compare this to Napster, where for one thing I doubt I'd find a complete 10 year old album in one session at all, and besides would have to babysit the transfers and restart the downloads a dozen times before they finished.

Threepwood '01 archives