TWITTER | @martingruner


    Since those US dollars are going to be worthless, you might as well fold beautiful origami creatures out of them. ("Moneygami", they call it. Should be orimoney, actually - oru means fold, kami means paper.)

    Michael Bérubé is back on the air! Great news. At least we can enjoy some high-quality blogging during the apocalypse.

    After Yesterday's Bad Headlines, Signs of Hope

    by martin grüner larsen

    The NYTimes.com headline size deflated today after yesterday reaching record highs not seen since the beginning of the Iraq war. At the height of yesterday's financial panic, the headline – "BAILOUT VOTE FAILS; STOCKS PLUMMET" – was in 24 pt bolded all-caps and was phrased in only five words with a single, impeccably placed semicolon separating them.

    This morning, hoping to avoid panic in the market and the impression that things were going very bad indeed, the NYTimes.com headline dropped just over 6 pts in font size. Experts also noted that the unusual-for-the-web 3-column banner headline was no longer in all caps. Other positive indicators were that it contained 100 % more words than yesterday, and had migrated from semicolon territory to a comma. This permitted the headline to go from yesterday's pithy statement of the blunt and terrifying facts to the strange, subject-less, passive, yet descriptive and interpretational constructions that soothe Wall Street investors on ordinary days. Many investors nonetheless saw the gesture merely as a way of seeming unpanicked while the market, according to one expert, “collapsed”.

    Update: Reports are coming in that the headline has now deflated further, losing the comma. Some readers nonetheless report concern that the phrase "economic calamity" has now been added to the headline, in addition to an inappropriate use of the word "grope".

    Roughly one million NYTimes.com readers contributed reporting to this article.


    As Atrios usually says in times like these, Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

    Dave Eggers interviews David Foster Wallace in the Believer. I just bought the Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers, and this one is strangely not in it. Weird.

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for submitting to our blog your essay on rejection letters for our review. We at (...) have read it with great pleasure and enthusiasm. However, we feel it is not quite right for rejecting at this time. Despite its many flaws - it is, at times, quite overwritten, too enthused with its own voice, too flawless in its grammar and ortography, in short: too clever by half - we still found it endearing and resonant to issues which are close to our heart, having had the dubious but enduring pleasure of editing magazines ourselves. Therefore, despite these numerous flaws, we have decided not to reject your piece at this time. Thank you for your interest in our blog.

    Martin Grüner Larsen,
    editor & publisher in chief di tutti capi

    Neil Gaiman's blog officially jumps the shark with the following paragraph:
    I assumed that you couldn't bring photo-taking things to the White House breakfast, and I was wrong, so Salman Rushdie took this photo of me and Maddy on his phone, to record the event for posterity. In the background Abraham Lincoln pretends to ignore Guys Read founder Jon Scieszka, as Jon proudly displays his Ambassador For Children's Literature medal to the world. He says he's not sure where to wear such a medal in everyday life. I ran into Brad Meltzer there and we talked about the Batman two-parter I'm writing and the fun of leaping from medium to medium, and I met Carrie Fisher and told her the story of How Carrie Fisher Probably Saved My Life -- a Tale of the 1987 Hurricane.


    the definition of "funny, but not ha-ha-funny"

    Actual Palin interview.

    The Saturday Night Live version.

    I can't tell the two apart, except one is hysterically funny, and the other one makes me hysteric. I'm foetal under the desk right now.

    Also note how the SNL version uses many actual quotes from the Couric/Palin interview, with almost no change.

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    Paul Newman is dead.


    So, while we wait with little or no patience for Shädy Äcres World Domination HQ to reopen, here is a shot of my great grandfather hanging out with Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, Ernst Schrödinger, Max Planck and Werner Heisenberger.

    Paling. With embarassment.

    Oh my goodness. Palin's new interview is just painful. It is quite simply just the most embarassing interview ever. What were they thinking? She's just spectacularly unskilled.
    Palin: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.

    Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

    Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

    Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

    Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.
    That's just the horrific part. The rest is only toe-curlingly bad.
    Transcript here. Video + full transcript here. Read the whole thing. Don't watch it, you'll throw something at the screen.

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    Benford's Law must be the most mind-bending thing I've read in a week. It turns out that in statistically random data, using any sort of scale, the number 1 is far more likely to occur than any other number. No matter what the data or scale is.

    If you don't understand what I mean, go read the article. He's actually pretty good at explaining it. After that, scroll down to the applications to detecting financial fraud. That just completely blew my mind. It turns out that this law is good for picking out data that has been rigged in some way.

    (via, btw, this awesome blog post, via Krugman)

    We interrupt this broadcast to inform you that War or Car continues to be rib-breakingly funny yet infinitely sad, filling the reader with rage and despair at the same time. Thank you. We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

    Bono and Jeffrey Sachs are blogging about aid, poverty and the millenium development goals at the Financial Times website.

    Wow, Hank Paulson totally got caught lying by Paul Krugman. We should trust that guy with the responsibility for the entire US and world economy.


    Bartlet for President

    Aaron Sorkin, the guy who wrote the first four seasons of The West Wing pretty much single-handedly has written a meeting between Obama and President Bartlet. There are a lot of good lines in there, and even some sound words of advice, but I think the big problem with Bartlet giving advice to Obama is, well:
    OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

    BARTLET Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

    OBAMA Which was?

    BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.

    OBAMA And?

    BARTLET I was.

    OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

    BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.


    Also via Boing Boing:
    Dear American:

    I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

    I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

    I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

    This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

    Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

    Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

    Boing Boing has an audio clip of a rare Martin Luther King speech on civil disobedience.


    "Debts are primarily business debts".


    Remember when I told you I would prefer Michael Palin as a "vice"-presidential candidate?


    Because we can't have these brown folks reading, now can we?

    This May, Rizwaan Sabir, a postgraduate student in international relations at the University of Nottingham was detained for almost a week without charges. He has an excellent op-ed in The Guardian about his experience:
    After failing to find justification to detain me any longer, on day six of our ordeal, I was released without a charge, without an apology; but with a police warning against accessing an openly available, widely cited al-Qaida document considered relevant to my postgraduate research by me and my academic supervisors. I was only put under threat of future arrest, but Hicham's terrifying detention was prolonged by the authorities, under immigration charges – his ordeal continues to this very day.

    What was our offence?

    Our offence was that we had in our possession an edited version of a document referred to as the "al-Qaida training manual". A document freely available on the US Department of Justice website and that of the Federation of American Scientists. A document widely available elsewhere on official and unofficial internet sites, in either edited or full versions. A document purchasable in paperback from Amazon. A document I had downloaded months ago for my masters dissertation and upcoming PhD. A document a lecturer knew I was consulting. A document I had sent months ago to Hicham who was helping me draft my PhD proposal. A document many other academics and students studying terrorism will have had in their possession. A document extensively cited in books on terrorism. A bog-standard source. Nothing extraordinary or remarkable about its possession – one would think.
    His fellow arestee, Hicham Yezza, is still facing deportation over the same phony outrage. Here is his op-ed on his experiences:
    'm constantly coming across efforts being made to give detention without charge the Walt Disney treatment: the crushing weight of solitary confinement is painted as a non-issue; the soul-sapping nothingness of the claustrophobic, cold cell is portrayed as a mild inconvenience. Make no mistake: the feeling that one's fate is in the hands of the very people who are apparently trying to convict you is, without doubt, one of the most devastating horrors a human being can ever be subjected to. It is (to misquote Carl von Clausewitz) the continuation of torture by other means.

    "Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear," goes the tautological reasoning of the paranoia merchants calling for harsher, ever more draconian "security" measures - as we saw throughout the 42-days debate. They should read Kafka: nothing is more terrifying than being arrested for something you know you haven't done. Indeed, it is the innocent who suffers the most because it is the innocent who is tormented the most. The guilty calculates, triangulates, anticipates. The innocent doesn't know where to start. The answers and the questions are absolute, unbreachable, towering conundrums.

    I underwent 20 hours of vigorous interrogation while entire days were being completely wasted by the police micro-examining every detail of my life: my political activism, my writings, my work in theatre and dance, my love life, my photography, my cartooning, my magazine subscriptions, my bus tickets.

    Aspects of my life that would have been seen as commendable in others were suddenly viewed as suspect in my case for no apparent reason other than my religious and ethnic background. I was guilty of being that strangest of creatures: a Muslim who reads; who studied engineering yet writes about Bob Dylan; was a vocal opponent of the Iraq war yet owns all of Christopher Hitchens' writings; admires Terry Eagleton yet defends Martin Amis; interviews Kazuo Ishiguro, listens to Leonard Cohen, goes to Radiohead concerts, all of which became the subject of rather bizarre questioning.

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    Sorry about the overwhelming David Foster Wallaceness of this blog these days. I am actually thinking about other things as well. Anyway, the Onion reports that NASCAR cancels the remainder of their season following David Foster Wallace's Death.


    Harper's have posted a big David Foster Wallace memorial, featuring (I think) everything he ever wrote for the magazine. Lots of things I have never read here.


    "Timothy McSweeney is devastated and lost."


    All the US economy commentary you need.

    Whereas Isaac Hayes created the groundbreaking musical score and theme song for the movie `Shaft';

    110th CONGRESS

    2d Session

    H. RES. 1425Honoring the life and music of the late Isaac Hayes, a passionate humanitarian, whose music laid the foundation for many musical styles, including R&B, disco, and rap.


    September 11, 2008
    Mrs. BLACKBURN (for herself, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. COHEN, Mr. COBLE, Mr. RANGEL, Mr. ISSA, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida, Mr. PICKERING, Mr. CHILDERS, Mr. TOWNS, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mrs. MALONEY of New York, Ms. LEE, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. MEEKS of New York, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. ROGERS of Michigan, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Mr. PAYNE, and Mr. FATTAH) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
    [start soundtrack here]

    Honoring the life and music of the late Isaac Hayes, a passionate humanitarian, whose music laid the foundation for many musical styles, including R&B, disco, and rap.

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was a true renaissance man who achieved success in vocal performances, songwriting, humanitarian work, and television and motion picture endeavors, and as a radio show host, pianist, saxophone player, restaurateur, and cookbook author;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes greatly influenced contemporary music, and his style still resounds in the music of today;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was born on August 20, 1942, in Covington, Tennessee, and, orphaned in infancy, was raised by his maternal grandparents;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes spent his childhood and formative years in Memphis, Tennessee, years that shaped his future success as a songwriter, singer, and actor, working in cotton fields while going to school, and even shining shoes on the famous Beale Street;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes graduated from Manassas High School in Memphis in 1962 at the age of 21, having returned to school after dropping out;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes began singing at the age of 5 at his local church and soon after taught himself to play the piano, electronic organ, flute, and saxophone;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes began playing in local bands, and at age 21 worked as a backup musician for Stax Records, for which he eventually became a noted music producer and in-house songwriter;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes became a prolific songwriter who, in partnership with his Stax Records songwriting and production partner, David Porter, wrote many classic hits for other artists, including `Hold On, I'm Comin', `B-A-B-Y', and `Soul Man';

    Whereas the partnership of Isaac Hayes and David Porter composed some 200 songs;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes created the groundbreaking musical score and theme song for the movie `Shaft';

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was the recipient of an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, the Edison Award, the NAACP Image Award, and two Grammy Awards;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes, a BMI songwriter, received 5 BMI R&B Awards, 2 BMI Pop Awards, and 2 BMI Urban Awards, and was honored as a BMI Icon in 2003;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 9, 2005;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes generated more than 12 million performances from his songs throughout his life;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was instrumental in staging the 1972 Wattstax concert performed at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the summer of 1972, an event that was a great source of pride for the African-American Los Angeles community of Watts and that focused worldwide attention on issues of social and economic justice for that beleaguered community, while also highlighting the great Memphis Stax sound;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was a television and film actor, appearing in countless television shows and three dozen movies, including roles in `The A-Team', `The Fresh Prince of Bel Air', `Girlfriends', and `Miami Vice';

    Whereas Isaac Hayes started the Isaac Hayes Foundation, whose mission is to globally promote literacy, music education, nutritional education, and innovative programs to raise self-esteem among the underprivileged;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was strongly devoted to promoting literacy through the world and was named the international spokesman for the Applied Scholastics' World Literacy Crusade;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes, through his Isaac Hayes Foundation, built an 8,000 square foot educational facility in Ghana, West Africa, and was a strong advocate for the education and well-being of the children of Ghana;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes donated thousands of dollars, through grants from his Isaac Hayes Foundation, to schools in Memphis, Nashville, and Washington, DC for the purpose of improving the musical education programs of those schools and for the purchase of musical instruments;

    Whereas the State of Tennessee issued a proclamation on August 18, 2008, honoring Isaac Hayes and his contribution to the State of Tennessee and the entire Nation;

    Whereas Isaac Hayes was a loving father of 12 children, 14 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren; and

    Whereas, with the passing of Isaac Hayes on August 10, 2008, at his Memphis, Tennessee home, the Nation has lost a talented and influential humanitarian, actor, artist, radio show host, and singer-songwriter: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

    (1) honors the life of Isaac Hayes;

    (2) recognizes Isaac Hayes for his invaluable contributions to American culture;

    (3) recommits itself to ensuring that artists such as Isaac Hayes receive fair protection under the copyright laws for their creative endeavors; and

    (4) extends condolences to his family on the death of this talented and beloved man.
    See what they did, there at the end? They made it about sucky copyright legislation instead of being about Isaac Hayes. Did he even have those kinds of opinions on copyright? Anyway, here's Soul Man:

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    Cory Doctorow's new collection of essays, Content, is out now. As usual, he also releases it online under a Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) license. Here's the PDF. Can't wait to read it.

    It's "Let's Insult the Newly Dead", live on DICK FM, with your host, John Ziegler!

    Back in the day, David Foster Wallace wrote an epic and tremendously good 24-page article called "Host" on the apoplectic fury of American right-wing talk radio. The article, in addition to being collected in Consider the Lobster, is now online in full (you have to click the coloured boxes to get the full effect). Now John Ziegler, the talk-show host that Wallace covered in the piece has responded to Wallace's death in an editorial. And he's being a bit of a dick about it:
    I was neither as surprised, nor as upset by this tragedy as the many in the elite realm of reputable literature seemed to be.


    I also believe that there is an equally fine line between real genius and just plain weirdness. In my experience, Wallace had very little of the former, so he exaggerated the latter.
    I particularly like how he stressed that the literary world is an "elite realm". For more, we now go live to Scott Eric Kaufman at Edge of the American West. Scott?

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    Haven't we seen this election before? Why yes, yes we have. I'm rewatching seasons six and seven of The West Wing right now, and hoo, boy, it's deja vu all over again.

    And while I'm recommending Krugman, this column here, "Blizzard of Lies" puts words to some of my ever-growing concerns about how McCain is campaigning.
    how a politician campaigns tells you a lot about how he or she would govern.

    I’m not talking about the theory, often advanced as a defense of horse-race political reporting, that the skills needed to run a winning campaign are the same as those needed to run the country. The contrast between the Bush political team’s ruthless effectiveness and the heckuva job done by the Bush administration is living, breathing, bumbling, and, in the case of the emerging Interior Department scandal, coke-snorting and bed-hopping proof to the contrary.

    I’m talking, instead, about the relationship between the character of a campaign and that of the administration that follows. Thus, the deceptive and dishonest 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign provided an all-too-revealing preview of things to come. In fact, my early suspicion that we were being misled about the threat from Iraq came from the way the political tactics being used to sell the war resembled the tactics that had earlier been used to sell the Bush tax cuts.

    DOW(n) 300

    Ok, so the US economy is "collapsing". I'm not an economist, but that can't be good. The DOW dropped 300 points in 10 minutes this morning (2.3 %), and the stock exchange in Oslo was down 7 percent this morning, as well, I heard.


    Paul Krugman, world-class economist and newspaper columnist probably has some words to inspire us and calm us down, right, Paul?
    Will the U.S. financial system collapse today, or maybe over the next few days? I don’t think so — but I’m nowhere near certain. You see, Lehman Brothers, a major investment bank, is apparently about to go under. And nobody knows what will happen next.

    Much, much more, most of which I do not understand, in this linky post.

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    On a completely unrelated note, here's a form letter that Robert Heinlein mailed back to people who wrote to him.

    Hvis de andre norske forlagene vet hva som er godt for dem, så bør forsiden på Tiden Forlags hjemmesider akkurat nå få dem til å skjelve i buksene fordi noen i norsk forlagsbransje har oppdaget at internett virker. De har lagt ut hele Simon Strangers nye roman Mnem ut som PDF, gratis, fram til lansering. Ved første øyekast ser den ut som et forsøk på en totalroman, over 500 sider lang, full av diagrammer, tabeller, illustrasjoner og essays.


    The NY Times have a proper obituary of David Foster Wallace up. I have to say I don't agree with the appraisal of Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and Oblivion here. I think that Brief Interviews, in particular, is going to remain as a solid standing stone in the wasteland of contemporary short fiction.

    an excellent servant but a terrible master

    Metafilter reminds me of this quote, from David Foster Wallace's commencement adress at Kenyon University:
    As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

    This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

    And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.

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    Oh, no

    Writer David Foster Wallace hanged himself Friday night.

    That's just incredibly sad. He was one of the greatest American writers of his generation, and one of the ones that I loved the most.

    With acute, embarassing self-awareness of the risk of seeming pathetic1, the kind of state Wallace described better than anyone, Shakespeare springs to mind (Wallace's magnum opus was a book called Infinite Jest):

    "I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!"

    I was just reading a long interview with him yesterday, done just before the publication of Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. I feel like the guy I was talking to yesterday died during the night.

    Update: here is an old post of mine which contains links to some of Wallace's wonderfully intricate, deeply insightful and break-a-rib-funny essays. And here is Scott Eric Kaufman's reaction to the news over at Edge of the American West. I thought of "Good Old Neon" when I heard the news, too.

    1. Thereby robbing the gesture of much of its intended effect. But fuck it: I really, really mean this.

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    Etikk, takk

    - Det er mulig at en del mennesker vil feiltolke den tittelen, sier Dagbladets etikkredaktør Lars Helle om gårsdagens førstesideoppslag.

    - Har Dagbladet med denne dyneløftingen tatt et skritt over i britisk tabloidjournalistikk?

    - Nei, vi har ikke tatt noe som helst skritt videre. Og vi har ingen tro på at dette åpner noen som helst ny retning hverken for Dagbladet eller noen andre medier, sier Helle. Han er heller ikke sikker på om det er dyneløfting.

    - Men vi er i intimsfæren til mennesker, det er vi. Det er ikke uproblematisk å være i det området der, derfor er det viktig å være ganske nøye med hvordan vi omtaler det - det har vi vært bevisst på.

    - Samtidig velger dere førstesidetittelen «Gikk til sengs med Røkke»?

    - Det står i boken at de delte seng. Min mening er at en sånn formulering fort kan oppfattes som at de har hatt sex. Men det står spesifikt i Dagbladets artikkel inne i avisen at det hadde de ikke - og han fremheves som gentleman. Men det er mulig at en del mennesker vil feiltolke den tittelen og at det hadde vært bedre med en annen formulering.
    Aftenpoften, 11. september.


    "Å være etikkredaktør i Dagbladet er litt som å være sjøfartsminister i Tsjekkia.
    Klassekampen, "På teppet", 12. september.

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    Et usedvanlig passende bilde på arbeiderpartiet.no.


    Any news on world hunger?

    "Røkke valgte igår ikke å kommentere Dagbladets gjentatte henvendelser."

    For noen drittaviser vi har i Norge.


    This is an incredibly brave and tenacious protester. And it shows better than anything what was happening in St. Paul during the RNC. Incredible video.


    That's so embarassing! I hate it when that happens. I love the facial expressions for McCain they found. This is some world-class evil-genius video editing.



    I'm testing out Google's new open-source web browser, Google Chrome. So far, it seems delightful. Once the plugin makers get going, this thing could be better than Firefox, my current browser.

    At launch, Google released a comic by comics guru Scott McCloud (author of Understanding Comics) explaining what's going on in the browser. It's a really fun piece, because it manages to make nerdy technical data accessible. As a sort-of-a-computer-geek, this stuff is interesting to me in the first place. But the comic made it a lot more interesting than it would have been. I believe that they managed to raise themselves above my interest threshold by publishing in comic form. I would probably have been not-interested-enough if it had been plain text with some diagrams.

    The piece is interesting for McCloud's skill in conveying complex information graphically in a fun and accessible manner. It just goes to show that the comic format is incredibly useful not just for fictional narratives, but also for technical prose and essays (the two best examples I keep thinking of is precisely McCloud's Understanding Comics and Alan Moores appendix to From Hell which is a graphical essay (calling it "illustrated" is not adequate) on the history of the Jack the Ripper case's "Ripperology" - the authors who have made a living off of Ripper books - in addition to the philosophical and epistemological implications of studying the case. The example of "Koch's Snowflake" and his description of the actual Ripper as a quantum super-position still stick with me. I'm hoping to see more of this text in comics. Let's get beyond the graphic novel into other graphic genres.

    Remember Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle? As it turns out, Sarah Palin Is Your New Bicycle's Flat Tire.


    glasögonIMG_4280When I was in Stockholm a few weeks ago, I noticed that I had trouble focusing on glowing objects at a distance. When I got back, the phenomenon didn't go away, so I went to see the optometrist. As it turns out, I've most likely been hyperopic all my life, without noticing because it's been a small enough defect not to bother me. Lately, with me working too much, though, and the defect has come to the surface. Hence the glasses, for when I read. Just to give the poor muscles of my eye time to relax.

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    Litteratur på Blå rir igjen!

    Jeg er dessverre ikke lenger med i den flotte gjengen bak Litteratur på BLÅ. Allikevel lager de fremdeles fantastiske arrangementer. De har nettopp sluppet et flott program for høsten. Høydare ser ut til å bli om den gode fortellingen 14 oktober med Hanne Ørstavik og Jan Kjærstad og en kveld om hvordan man blir et skrivende menneske med Merete Morken Andersen, Morten Moi og Johan Harstad 25 november. Årets bidrag til brød og sirkus er debatt om litteratur og politikk 2. desember med Martine Aurdal, Mads Larsen og Jon Michelet. Medbring skuddsikker vest og knebeskyttere på sistnevnte.

    Wow, look at that. American mainstream media doing actual research and reporting.


    Amidst the awfulness there are a lot of lessons to be learned from what the activists who are demonstrating in St. Paul, Minneapolis are doing: they are bringing video cameras, journalists and citizen journalist/activists to every single demonstration. They leave the cameras rolling and document everything. That's how, for instance, we get this awful video of police firing tear gas and concussion grenades into an obviously peaceful crowd, or this video of the widely celebrated and RNC-accredited journalist Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now) being arrested. (Did the police know she was an accredited journalist? Well, the cop in the background who is helpfully saying "arrest the accredited journalist" probably did.) Btw, note the immediate response of the crowd when they cuff her.

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    Wow, this Sarah Palin person as Vice-Presidential candidate really was a spectularly bad choice for John McCain. Latest installment in the ongoing story: she was a member of an Alaskan independence organisation that wanted to secede from the US. This and other things which should have left her out of the vetting process here.

    Litlive fyller 5 år!

    Nyhedsbrev september 2008

    Denne måned kan Litlive fejre sit femårsjubilæum! Siden det første nummer af Litlive udkom i Danmark i september 2003, har vi udgivet flere hundrede anmeldelser, givet plads til tusinder af arrangementer i vores kalendere og arrangeret en række oplæsninger og seminarer – sådan håber vi det fortsætter, også i de næste fem år – men nu på en Skandinavisk platform med svenske, danske og norske udgaver.

    I Litlive #59 dobbeltanmelder Mai Misfeldt Pentti Saarikoskis Brev til min hustru og Det yderste Europa, Ulf Karl Olov Nilsson skriver om Magnus Hedlunds odöda, odrömda, Nora Simonhjell har set nærmere på Jørgen Krogs Norsk elghund, grå, Peter Borum skriver om Jorge Luis Borges’ Andre inkvisitioner, Kristina Nya Glaffey og Anders Abildgaard Nielsen om Kristin Bergets loosing louise og endelig skriver Espen Stueland om seriepenetration i Vladimir Sorokins I det heliga Rysslands tjänst.

    Tips om kommende litteraturarrangementer modtages med kyshånd på litlive@litlive.dk.

    God fornøjelse!

    Med venlig hilsen


    Annelie Axén (S), Mariann Enge (N), Martin Glaz Serup (DK), Martin Grüner Larsen (N) og Thomas Nystrøm (DK).

    Øvrige medarbejdere:

    Webmaster: Bo Ærenlund Sørensen (DK)

    Design: Judith Nærland (N)

    Skribenter: Eivind Røssaak (N), Espen Stueland (N), Frederik Hertzberg (SF), Hanna Nordenhök (S), Helena Boberg (S), Henrik Petersen (S), Hilde Martre Larsen (N), Jenny Högström (S), Johan Dahlbäck (S), Kari Løvaas (N), Karsten Sand Iversen (DK), Kristina Nya Glaffey (DK), Kristine Kabel (DK), Lars Bukdahl (DK), Lilian Munk Rösing (DK), Linda Östergaard (S), Mai Misfeldt (DK), Mikkel Bruun Zangenberg (DK), Nils Olsson (S), Nora Simonhjell(N), Peter Borum (DK), René Jean Jensen (DK), Sissel Lie (N), Tania Ørum (DK), Trond Haugen (N) og Ulf Karl Olov Nilsson (DK).

    Litlive udgives med støtte fra Kulturkontakt Nord og Norsk Kulturråd.




    "The despicable rumors that have been spread by liberal blogs, some even with Barack Obama's name in them, is a real anchor around the Democratic ticket, pulling them down in the mud in a way that certainly juxtaposes themselves against their 'campaign of change,'" a senior aide said.
    The very insinuation that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, would deliberately try to attach his opponents name to something which he obviously has nothing to do with, is outrageous.

    Jeg var sikkert ikke den eneste som synes at Putin-skjøt-en-tiger-historien hørtes mystisk ut. Nå viser det seg ikke overraskende at den består av store mengder tull og tøys. Dette bringer oss til 10.000 kroners-tipsetspørsmålet: Burde ikke Dagbladet ha tenkt seg om både en og to og tre ganger før de satte den på forsiden?

    Svar: Jo, for faen, det skulle de ha gjort. Om jeg bare ved å lese saken kunne se at den var problematisk, så må det da ringe en bjelle et eller annet sted i en av Norges største aviser?

    Salon.com and Firedoglake are doing some great reporting on massive police crackdowns on political activists in Minneapolis, where the Republican National Convention is getting under way. Apparently, the police use bullshit laws ("fire code violations", "conspiracy to riot") in order to raid the homes and gathering places of political activists and try to drum up charges against them in order to get them out of play for the duration of the convention. They come in heavily armed and in flak jackets, seize laptops and journals, household chemicals and potential bomb-making equipment. What really appears to be happening is that they are trying to cripple the organising capacity and morale of left wing radicals in Minneapolis in order to keep things quiet for the convention. It's blatantly political abuse of police power and the suspension of the right to organise. I hope somebody loses their jobs over this.

    I heard some rumours online that this was going on as well during the Democratic convention (though from what I could tell not in a very systematic way). Anybody else hear that?

    Fru Regjering

    Jeg oppdaget nettopp regjeringen.no sin fantastiske høytlesningstjeneste. De har rett og slett et talesimuleringsprogram som kan lese høyt en hvilken som helst side fonetisk slik at man kan forstå det selv om man er blind. Den er faktisk slett ikke verst! Det er en nynorsk og en bokmålversjon. Fru Bokmål kommer fra Oslo Vest og er flytende og ledig. Fru Nynorsk kommer fra Bergen Vestkant, men snakker normert nynorsk med bergensk klangbunn. Hun er ganske hakkete og rar og har nok ikke hatt så mye utviklingsstøtte.

    So far so good. Men så får jeg selvsagt lyst til å kødde med den. Hva gjør den med navn for eksempel? Den tuller dem til litt, men klarer seg ikke verst. Ok, enda mer interessant: Hvordan takler den taler som statsministeren holder på engelsk? Ikke særlig bra, viser det seg. Thor Heyerdahl gå hjem og vogg! Latterkick.

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    Her og her sies det interessante ting om Åpninger - lesninger i Hanne Ørstaviks forfatterskap.

    Hanne Ørstavik kommenterer kritikken i Aftenpoften, blant annet påstandene om "ekthetsfundamentalisme" som ble artikulert av Ane Farsethås i et intervju jeg gjorde med Farsethås i Klassekampen for noen dager siden (diverre ikke på nett).

    London police continue proud tradition of fictional UK police state

    Apparently, the London Metropolitan Police have decided to go completely Orwellian. Now, anything you do that is unusual is suspicious.

    For instance, if you're taking photographs of something - you could be a terrorist. Or a Flickr user criminal. (Btw: I take lots of pictures with strange angles in places most people don't take pictures, and I've come to be wary of doing so, even here in Norway).

    This, despite the fact that it manifestly does not appear to be the case that terrorists are big on photography:
    The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography.

    Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don't seem to photograph anything, why is it such pervasive conventional wisdom that terrorists photograph their targets? Why are our fears so great that we have no choice but to be suspicious of any photographer?
    Other things that are suspicious: not telling people where you're going, renting cars, using computers to visit stuff your neighbour doesn't understand and not being able to afford a cell phone subscription.

    I don't throw the term "Orwellian" around loosely, but this is not security, it is the illusion of security that in effect regulates the feelings and thoughts of the citizen. I hope that the rest of Europe takes this as a lesson in how NOT to do things.

    Jeg sitter og lager kalenderen til september måned i Litlive (husker alle forresten at de kan maile meg arrangementer og få dem i kalenderen? Det er en god måte å få litteraturarrangementer ut til folket på) og det som slår meg (bortsett fra at det er snakk om vårt fantastiske 5-ÅRS JUBILEUMSNUMMER! HURRA!!!), slik det gjør hver høst, er at september og mai måned er bare de to månedene der ALT skjer. Det er ikke en eneste dag der ting står stille, og det er klin umulig å få med seg alt. Kan vi ikke begynne å legge et par arrangementer utover høsten? Ingen vits i å svi av alt kruttet i september, folkens.

    (Mer om VÅRT FANTASTISKE FEMÅRSJUBILEUMSNUMMER i morgen formiddag, når jeg ikke lenger ser i kryss)