Monthly Archives: January 2005

A Scanner Darkly

Yesterday, I had time to finish reading A Scanner Darkly, a novel by the american Science Fiction writer Philip K. Dick. I’ve read some of his stories and books many of which have been made into films. A few weeks ago, I read that there was coming yet another film based on one of Dick’s stories, so I decided to read it.

The book isn’t really all that sci-fi – it’s much more focused on drug misuse and how this can deteriorate the brain dramatically. The only real sci-fi element is the so-called “scramble suits” which the under-cover narcotics agent, Fred, wears to conceal his identity. Without delving too deeply into the plot, I can say that the identity question is central to the story, as Fred is assigned to surveillance duty on Bob Arctor – who just so happens to be Fred’s secret alter ego.

I found the book very intense and full of interesting observations, and definitely a major work on drugs and their effects. So therefore, I’m now more interested than ever in the upcoming film. Especially when I heard that Charlie Kaufman had written a script based on the book. Kaufman has written the scripts for the brilliant Being John Malkovich and the fascinating Adaption, so I would be quite interested to see what he could make of such a schizophrenic book.

That won’t happen, unfortunately. Instead of Kaufman’s script, the indie director Richard Linklater who is in charge of the project, has written a new script of his own.
That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad film, but I would rather have liked to have seen Kaufman’s take on the book.

The film will be using the same animation technique that Linklater used in Waking Life. It’s a concept where the entire film is shot like ordinary film, and then is treated extensively in post/production to animate the already moving pictures. It gives a wonderful effect and some quite interesting possibilities. In Waking Life, Linklater used the technique to give the impression of lucid dreaming – a dream where the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming, yet cannot wake up. I could imagine that this technique would work to great effect in A Scanner Darkly as well.

So far, only a few frames of animation have been released, but they look quite convincing. Check them out here.

.. oh, and by the way. The technique is also used in the cartoon-segment of Lars von Trier and Joergen Leth’s The Five Obstructions:

Manchester: Overcast w/ slight drizzle

Having arrived safely in Manchester, I found my lodgings with little trouble. It’s in the Fallowfield area south of the university and the city centre. It’s a dirty old neighbourhood, a so-called “student ghetto”. The house I am to live in is also a dirty old place, but the people here are nice. Thomas, the german student whose room I’ll be living in from the first of february, has been really helpful and friendly, and even though I’ve only just met some of my other flatmates – Doug, Seth and Diane – they all seem like really easy-going people.

I spent most of yesterday registering for my courses. It was a bit tricky at first, since the University of Manchester recently merged with UMIST – the engineering and technology university of Manchester – and thus a lot of departments have been moving about and around, some being expanded, others ceasing to exist. A lot of people have been really confused by this. Especially since you have to register the courses both at the home department (in my case, Anthropology) and at the department of the course (which in my case were three different departments: Social Anthropology, Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. My quest to locate these departments weren’t helped by the fact that the university has two web pages, one old, and one new – and that some departments still update the old one, instead of the new one.

*sigh* – but in the end I heroically prevailed. I’ll go into more detail about the actual courses some other time.

Writing cultures

I’ve been packing away my Science Fiction books before leaving for England. I have a not-so-secret passion for Science Fiction, and I especially like the sub-genre called “social science fiction”. Instead of focusing on the technological aspects of science, the genre mostly focuses on the social, politic and cultural implications that the future may bring. Mainly writing, constructing, creating fictive cultures and describing the social relations within. SF-writers have done this long before anybody had ever heard of “social constructivism” or “post-modernistic lack of self-confidence” or any such thing. Quite a few anthropologists have written SF trying to clear their minds of some of the heavier issues and relieving the need to tell some of all those “irrelevant” stories they have heard through the years.

Or maybe not just the irrelevant stuff. Before “Writing Culture” was published in 1986 and sparked much of the debate of how ethnography should be written, some anthropologists were already looking to SF for inspiration for different ways of dealing with representation of other. Unencumbered by any actual informants to be true to, SF-writing anthropologists found a new and fascinating creative and speculative freedom.

Looking around the net, I found several anthropologists praising the insights and narrative style of the SF stories. One is Geoffrey Samuel who wrote an article called Inventing Real Cultures (1978) Another is this one from 1976. Both of them explores the relations between anthropology and SF.

And even earlier, in 1968, an anthropologist and SF writer edited an anthology of anthropological SF – Apeman, Spaceman with the intent to use it as a text book to inspire students to see the width of the field of anthropology. Back then, of course, it was very wide, as one half the book relates to physical anthropology, and the other to cultural anthropology. Still, it’s a very good read, and it contains some excellent short stories. I especially like “The Nine Billion Names of God” by Arthur C. Clarke and Chad Oliver’s “Of Course”.

I realize now that my definition of the genre is slightly off the mark as it really doesn’t have to involve the future. I find that books like Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and some of the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges all still fit the category in some way. Before I heard of “social science fiction”, I labelled this kind of writing “creative anthropology” – inspired by “creative accounting”. Both disciplines are meant to be all factual and clear, but inherent in both is the luring possibility of rearranging, reconstructing all the numbers, all the stories and ideas to your own unfactual pleasing.

Electionary news

With the announcement of elections for the Danish parliament on February 8th, I’ve decided to dig up a little article that I wrote during the run-in to the American election. So far it’s in Danish only, as is most of the stuff I’ve written, but I might get around to translate it someday. Until then, I hope the danes reading this will appreciate it.

Syldavien vil have to præsidenter

Den syldaviske valgkamp har været præget af et mærkværdigt parløb – de to ledende præsidentkandidater har taget konsekvensen af at de konstant kæmper om de samme stemmer og søger at danne regering sammen. Men kan et land have to ledere?

Kan et land have to præsidenter på samme tid? Dette ellers noget uvante spørgsmål er for tiden det centrale emne i den lille østeuropæiske republik Syldavien, der på søndag kan gå til valg og ende med at vælge en regering med to ledere.

Valgkampen har gennem de seneste måneder bølget mellem det socialdemokratiske regeringsparti PZD og det ledende oppositionsparti liberalrepublikanerne PLR, og stort set alle meningsmålinger har tydet på dødt løb mellem de to partier. Begge partier har forsøgt sig med mange af de samme valgløfter: bedre uddannelse, social sikkerhed, udenrigspolitisk engagement (især medlemsskab i EU, forbedrede forhold til nabostaten Bordurien og en styrket indsats mod terror), vækst og velstand. Hver for sig har partierne udfra deres ideologiske baggrund søgt at forklare den tvivlrådige befolkning hvorfor netop deres valgløfter bærer mere vægt end modpartens.

Men selv partiernes ideologier kan ikke skjule, at begge partier egentlig ønsker præcis den samme udvikling for landet. Helt komisk blev denne overensstemmelse dog først ved en stor tv-debat mellem de to partiers ledere, præsident Maximillian Ljukov (PZD) og Alexender Frasjenadze (PLR). Debatten kom simpelthen aldrig rigtig igang, for de to modstandere viste sig simpelthen ude af stand til at modsige hinandens holdninger uden samtidig at modsige sig selv.

I den slags situationer plejer sådanne debatter som oftest at degenere til personangreb og misforståelser, men de indledende forsøg på anklager om vendekåberi og uaftjent værnepligt førte ingen vegne. Tilfældigt smuds kunne simpelthen ikke skjule, at de to partiledere lignede hinanden for meget. Og selv de forskelle, der trods alt er i deres personlige fremtræden, polariserede ikke debatten, men komplementerede blot deres enighed. En enighed, der var så tydelig, at hverken de 400.000 vælgere eller partilederne selv kunne lade sig narre: der var intet at diskutere.

Morgenen efter tv-debatten indkaldte Ljukov og Frasjenadze til pressekonference og erklærede, at deres to partier indgik i “et social-liberalt demokratisk valgforbund”, men at en vigtig del af dette valgforbund var, at Ljukov og Frasjenadze skulle lede regeringen sammen på lige fod. Dette vil kræve en ændring af forfatningen for at tillade de to præsidenter at lede landet sammen, men meningsmålinger efter tv-debatten tyder på, at vælgerne vil acceptere denne overraskende valgalliance, der vil give PZD og PLR omkring 65% af stemmerne på søndag.

Med et så massivt flertal i parlamentet kan alliancen nærmest på forhånd garantere vedtagelsen af forfatningsændringen, der kræver to tredjedeles flertal i parlamentet, og dermed sætte de øvrige partier – det gammelkommunistiske PCZ, det gammelkonservative PCCR og det ung-nationalistiske SNP – fuldstændigt udenfor indflydelse i de kommende år.

En skuffet Boromir Boronin — lederen af PCCR, der tidligere ellers har været i valgforbund med PLR – udtalte, at “det er en sort dag for det syldaviske demokrati, når folkets interesser kan sælges i en simpel magtbegærlig studehandel.”Men ingen ud over de tre småpartiers kernevælgere bekymrer sig meget om den kommende oppositions skæbne. Fokus er i stedet flyttet fra det nu nærmest uinteressante valg til den nærmere magtdeling mellem de to kommende regeringspartier.

Det forslag til en forfatningsændring, som de to partiledere præsenterede i går på en stort opslået pressekonference på Frihedspladsen i hovedstaden Klow, viser et højt lovmæssigt ambitionsniveau, der kan komme til at vække genklang i demokratier verden over. Den mest markante, synlige ændring er indførelsen af to sidestillede præsidenter i stedet for tidligere en præsident og en vicepræsident.

Samtidig foreslår de at sløjfe udenrigsministerposten og lægge dette ansvarsområde ind under de to præsidenter. Begge præsidenter vil begge fungere som statsledere med formel autoritet ved officielle ceremonier, så som møder med andre statsledere, og generelt være hele landets ansigter udadtil.

Rent administrativt vil de to præsidenter dele ansvarsområderne imellem sig for bedre at kunne lovgive og handle på enkeltområder. Men forslaget lægger samtidig op til, at præsidenterne skal være hinandens modvægt, idet enhver beslutning den ene træffer, først skal vurderes og sanktioneres af den anden inden den kan blive sendt til afstemning i parlamentet. Forslaget endvidere rummer en række tiltag, der skal sikre begge præsidenter selvstændigt spillerum, samtidig med at de bliver tvunget til at arbejde sammen.

“Det kræver selvfølgelig, at der er god kemi mellem de to præsidenter” sagde en storsmilende Ljukov til pressekonferencen, “men det bliver heller ikke noget problem mellem os to,” supplerede en ligeledes munter Frasjenadze og slog armen om sin kollega.

Professor i statskundskab ved det Frie Syldaviske Universitet i Klow, Jurij Govlianavitj, vurderer, at dette er et banebrydende forsøg på at overvinde den stigende tosidighed i det moderne demokrati — ved simpelthen at inkorporere oppositionen i regeringen:

“I stedet for konstant at slås om et spinkelt flertal i parlamentet i forhold til hvert eneste lovforslag, kan regeringen nu fremstå handlekraftig og alligevel modereret. Tendensen med stadig mere midtersøgende politik i jagten på de afgørende ubeslutsomme stemmer har nu nået sit slutmål: En sammensmeltning af de traditionelle blokpartier. Denne sammensmeltning er selvfølgelig stadig en meget svag og ustabil konstuktion, der især er afhængig af partiledernes evne til at arbejde så tæt og frugtbart sammen, som denne forfatningsændring lægger op til. Men det viser vejen frem i en tid, hvor ideologi er blevet underordnet markedsøkonomiske og realpolitiske hensyn.”

Om et sådant samarbejde praktisk kan lade sig gøre, kan kun tiden vise, men sikkert er det, at Syldavien i disse dage gennemfører et demokratisk eksperiment, der kan ændre den hidtidige opfattelse af nationalstaten som en enhed med kun én leder. Måske er det netop mellem to ledere, at den gyldne, tredje vej kan skabes.

meaning of life – revisited

Having read “The God of Small Things”, I decided to give some of Arundhati Roy’s essays a try. I found a neat little book called The Cost of Living containing two essays: One on the massive dam-building projects in India, and one on the nuclear bombs that both India and Pakistan now have in their arsenals.

Both projects are tinted with immense nationalism as India tries to establish itself as an up-and-coming superpower, yet Roy approaches the two issues quite differently. The first essay is a heavily researched discussion of the politics of dam-building and indirectly, the World Bank funding of such projects and the ever-growing debt that countries such as India commit themselves to.
The second essay is much more passionate in its rejection of any pride and reasoning supporting the nuclear weapons that so dramatically have changed the way we perceive war.

With the risk of total annihilation, we must to an even greater degree make it clear to ourselves what kind of world we want to live in. Roy finds that the only dream worth having is this:

To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.

Trying to write that sort of thing is unforgiving business. Most of these words have been worn out, having been misused so often, their meaning appear useless and limitless. But even if the words are dying, the feeling of defiant optimism being felt and expressed through them is still alive in all its obstinate humanity. With all our faults of hope and forgiveness.

and yes, that was another two very weary words to end with. I find that I’m becoming more and more sympathetic to Martin Heidegger’s decision to simply stop using certain words that invariably carries with them (too many) limiting assumptions and ontologies. Often, there is simply too much baggage that tie down and muddle the issues.

Therefore, my new favourite word is Ubuntu which has been popularized by Desmond Tutu. It can’t quite be translated into English, though many have tried.
In this way, it still remains relatively true to its original meaning.

of small things..

I just finished reading Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” – which I remember hearing of when it was published 7 years ago, but never got around to look at. Since then, I’ve tried reading Salman Rushdie’s rather daunting prose (both Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses) but developed an intense dislike to his self-pompous style and wit that almost ruined the world of Indian story-telling for me.
Luckily, Arundhati Roy makes up for that. Her book has the same magically poetic qualities and emotional intensity as Gabriel García Marquez’ books, but in a more dreamy, airy fashion that is quite unlike the concreteness of the slowly unfolding that characterizes those of Marquez’ stories that I’ve read. Both authors carry the rare gift of both being able to describe the hopeful beauty of mankind in the midst of all that hurt and discord that tend to appear wherever we look.

I won’t try to tell the story of the book, since, as it usually is with that kind of stories, it appears deceptibly simple, but carries a fair bit of extra weight when you read it. The slow weight of the situation unfolding in the mind of the reader. But just recommend it as it was recommended to me: A book of common humanity whose beauty is as much in its faults as in the areas where it succeeds. A rare thing is a book that is aware of its own faults.

Even so, I was surprised to find in my intellectual magazine of choice a passionate speech that Arundhati Roy held in San Francisco last year on the question of “Public Power in the Age of Empire”. I guess I’m showing off a certain amount of ignorance concerning the so-called anti-globalization movement of the last 10 years or so, but I wasn’t aware that ms. Roy was an active part in this. But not just that, she’s been awarded peace prizes, written hundreds of essays and generally been very political.

Though the speech doesn’t really offer a lot of answers and Roy sometimes lets her analysis give way for something more passionate, it does yield some interesting thoughts about how much civil influence there is in the world today, and how this influence can be expanded.

Reading blogs: a brief introduction

Traditionally, a blog is sort of a directory of odd, cool or outrageous things that somebody have spotted on the web and wanted to share. I’ll try to do a bit of that as well, even though there are places that are much better at that sort of thing.

It is also part of the style of the weblog to insert the links as part of the text such as this, if you have the status bar activated in your browser, you can then see which page the link refers to at the bottom of the browser window when you move the cursor over the link.

I prefer using a web browser that allows tabbed browsing such as Firefox, Opera or Safari because the tabs makes it a lot easier to open the links while still being able to read the page the link originated from. Sure, it’s important not to overdo it, but in this case it should be pretty easy to see that the three of links above are to three different web browsers. Incidentally, all of them are very much better than Internet Explorer, thankyouverymuch, but I would recommend Firefox for daily usage. It probably won’t work with certain banking sites and other stuff, but for everyday web surfing it has no equal.

Since this blog is pretty going to present a view of the web as I see it, I thought it might help to know how you can read it with least possible effort.

I’ll get around to putting out a RSS-feed for the advanced users, eventually.

By the way, I have my email account at google’s new webmail, gmail. My address is:

lloydinho (at) gmail (dot) com

– I have to present it like this (replace (at) with @ and (dot) with .) because otherwise the insidious spambots will harvest my email address to use with unwanted advertisements for penis extensions, magic pills, rolex watches and pornography. Since gmail is still only in beta, it’s invite only, but I have 10 invites to give away. Mail me if you’re interested.
The advantages of gmail are described here.

News snacks – a taste of situationist poetry

I don’t have any exams this semester which makes an interesting change. So while everybody around me are cramming for their various exams, I just do ordinary common people stuff like go to work and worry about the evils of this world – though those two are rarely directly related.

I have two part time jobs, one as Macintosh supporter at a travel agency which has been okay, as long as there’s actually any actual supporting or network administration to do, and not just ordinary busy work such as filing pictures, updating databases and other boring stuff.
My other job is as a news writer at a corporate news service called Infopaq. Basically, they read the newspapers as soon as they come off the press (usually between midnight and 4 am) and look for articles that would interest their customers, most of them major scandinavian businesses. But since the people who pay for this service are Very Busy and Important People(tm), it’s Infopaq’s job to predigest the news for them and serve it to the VBIPs in easily-edible bitesized snacks of dense information.

Even though it often feels a bit like Monty Python’s “Summarize Proust’s “A la recherche de temps perdu” in 30 seconds” competition, this way of writing can still develop into a sort of absurd fun. Sure, often enough it can seem mindless and dull. And that’s basically what it is. Being in the information refinement business, you can say that we don’t really produce anything – it’s sort of an extra link in the chain of information. That seems like a pretty good basis for some nifty situationist art, though. So I’ve tried to look at this job as being at the forefront of the avantgarde (is that a pleonasm? I think it is). The work is so strange that somebody ought to stand up and declare the whole situation a work of art and a detournement of the abstractions of modern society. And since nobody else has done it yet, that someone might just as well be me. The centerpiece and lasting evidence of this process is of course the snack-sized summaries themselves as they are fantastically futile poetry that has to follow certain Haiku-like rules. But since rhythm and lines don’t matter much, the rules only make sense in the situation.

The rules are these: a 40 letter headline, a 140 letter first line, which will has to sum up the main points of the article in more detail than the headline, and the total news snack mustn’t be bigger than 800 letters. Also, most of these companies pay per snack, and they usually want a summary of every article in which their company, their CEO or just something related to their field of expertise, is mentioned. How these criterias work exactly, I do not know, I use my best guess every time as I have long given up on getting any coherent reasoning from the editors who naturally want to produce as many snacks as possible so as to maximise profits. Furthermore, for copyright reasons, it is not allowed to copy text – apart from quotes, which must be quoted correctly – from the articles. Everything must be reworded or rephrased so as to avoid lawsuits. To be properly efficient, every snack writer should produce at around 3 to 4 snacks an hour.

The best way to appreciate how this works, is by reading the summaries. I’ve gathered all the snacks I prepared between 4 and 9 am on wednesday the 6th of january (did I mention that it has to be done at night? The VBIPs usually need their snacks around 8 am). They’re all missing the headlines, since those are in a different text field, and thus not easily cut-and-pastable, but it should be appreciable enough even so. They have not been edited in any way and are presented here in the order that they were written. They’re all in Danish, of course, but those of you who are familiar with that particular language can play a little game while savouring the many stanzas of delicate newswriting: Which company could possibly be interested in this news? Most of them are easy enough, since they insist of having their name mentioned in the summary – others… well it’s not quite so easy. The news are from all the major Danish daily newspapers, and no – I don’t really expect anybody to read all of them..

Skuespilleren Thomas Bo Larsen er måske bedst kendt fra rollen som
familiefar i TDC’s reklamefilm, men roden fra Værebro er mere end det.
I et interview med B.T. fortæller Thomas Bo Larsen om sine øvrige
bedrifter, og om, hvordan stort set alle de penge han tjener, går til
rejser. Og her hjælper hans indbringende treårige kontrakt med TDC
også.

Trods julestress steg de private investorers andel af alle
aktiehandler på fondsbørsen fra 15,8 pct. i november til 19,3 pct. i
december. Selvom de private investeringers andel af den samlede
aktieomsætning stadig er lille, var der også fremgang fra 1,93 pct.
til 2,27 pct. Blandt de aktier, der har vist sig mest populære blandt
de private investorer, er Københavns Lufthavne og A.P. Møller ud over
de altid populære bankaktier.

Det tjekkiske teleselskab Cesky Telecom er klar til at blive
privatiseret, og TDC og TeliaSonera er blandt de interesserede købere.
Den tjekkiske regering, der ejer 51,1 pct. af aktierne i Cesky
Telecom, har sat en deadline for et første bud til den 3. februar, og
foruden TDC og TeliaSonera har også Swisscom, Vodafone og Telefonica
meldt deres interesse. Blandt de mest oplagte er Deutsche Telekom, der
dog endnu ikke har meldt sig som interesseret. Det samme gælder France
Telecom. Torben V. Holm, vicedirektør i TDC
Koncernforretningsudvikling, siger, at de nu kigger på materialet, og
at det for TDC er vigtigt, at der både er profitabilitet og
vækstpotentiale i deres investeringer.

Socialdemokratiet vil i sit nye forslag til en skattereform mindske
skatten på arbejde med op til 2000 kr. om året. Pengene skal komme fra
højere topskat, øgede erhvervsskatter og skarpere skatteligning. Især
ønsker partiformand Mogens Lykketoft (S) at slå ned på snyd og
skattespekulation, bl.a. ved at sætte et loft på 100.000 kr. årligt på
indbetaling på pension. Direktør ved Dansk Industri, Ole Krog, er ikke
glad for forslaget: ‘Det er en illusion, at udspillet vil styrke dansk
konkurrenceevne og dermed beskæftigelse’, udtaler han.

De nye IFRS-regnskabsregler, der trådte i kraft ved årsskiftet,
medtager ikke selskabernes goodwill, hvilket vil ses på
resultatopgørelserne. Frem til 2004 har selskaberne løbende afskrevet
den opsamlede goodwill, men de nye regler betyder, at selskaberne nu
en gang årligt skal vurdere, om merværdier som goodwill stadig er til
stede. F.eks. ville de nye regler have givet TDC 1,1 mia. kr. ekstra i
driftsresultatet for de første ni måneder af 2004 pga. ‘sparede’
goodwill-afskrivninger fra bl.a. købet af Song Networks, mens ISS i
følge de nye regler ville syvdoble indtjeningen for 2004. Reglerne
ville til gengæld kun have ringe effekt på Københavns Lufthavne, der
kun havde goodwill-afskrivninger for 13,5 mio. kr. I en faktaboks
fremgår det, at DSV, Carlsberg og SAS’ regnskaber også vil blive
påvirket af de nye regnskabsregler.

Socialdemokratiets nye forslag til en skattereform er et forsøg på at
nå en bredere vælgerskare, men kan politisk give problemer. Sådan
lyder vurderingen i Informations leder, der henviser til både SF og
Enhedslistens utilfredshed med fordelingen af de planlagte
skattelettelser. Socialdemokraterne har længe slået på, at der i det
danske erhvervsliv har fundet en ganske betydelig skatteunddragelse
sted, og det søger foreslaget da også at slå ned på, bl.a. ved at
indsætte et fradragsloft på 100.000 kr. årligt på
pensionsindbetalinger. For at undgå smal støtte til en mulig
SR-regerings skattepolitik, må Socialdemokratiet skabe yderligere
forenkling af sin skattereform, lyder det fra Information.

ISS’ franske konkurrent Sodexho Alliance kan i dag præsentere salgstal
for helåret 2004, og der er fremgang at spore. Efter at Sodexho’s
britiske konkurrent Compass måtte nedjustere forventninger til 2004,
var det overraskende, at Sodexho overgik forventningerne til tredje
kvartal og kunne opjustere helårsforventningerne fra 4,0 pct. til 4,2
pct. organisk omsætningsvækst eksklusiv opkøb og valutaeffekt.

18 danskere rejste tirsdag hjem med de sidste gratis SAS-fly fra
Thailand, nogle af dem ved endnu ikke, om deres pårørende er i live.
De sidste danskere i Thailand samles hos det danske kriseberedskabs
hovedkontor på Pearl Hotel i Phuket, hvor registreringsskemaer fra
politiet og reklamer fra Star Tours kæmper om opmærksomheden med
letlevende damer. Nu må de sidste tilbageværende selv komme skaffe sig
rejsen til Københavns Lufthavn.

Den danske regering var ikke hurtig nok til at reagere på
flodbølgekatastrofen i Sydøstasien, lyder kritik fra flere strandede
feriegæster. Andre europæiske lande var til gengælde anderledes
hurtige til at reagere, f.eks. Italien, der blot få timer efter
flodbølgen stoppede italienske charterfly til Thailand og i stedet
fyldte dem med nødhjælpsudstyr og redningspersonel. Kriseberedskabet i
lufthavnene blev hurtigere etableret i Norge og Sverige end i Danmark
og der gik også lang tid, før at Danmark havde en procedure for
hjemtransport klar til de mange strandede danskere.
Udenrigsministeriet skal selv evaluere forløbet af omkring
katastrofeberedskabet.

Vel tilbagevendt fra Thailand har Gitte og Henrik Magnussen rettet en
unfair kritik mod SAS over manglende hjælp i Københavns Lufthavn. Det
skriver Bjarne Olsen, Esbjerg, i et læserbrev til Ekstra Bladet. SAS
har ingen særlige forpligtelser over for familien, så de kunne lige så
vel kritisere Sterling eller Maersk. SAS’ ekstraordinære indsats i
forbindelse med katastrofen fortjener snarere ros end ris.

Med de nye dankort-gebyrer er det endnu nemmere for bankerne at
bondefange sine kunder, hæv derfor penge kontant hver dag. Sådan lyder
opfordringen fra Lone Anette Topping, Randers. Hvis alle gør det, vil
det ikke vare længe, før bankerne vil få nye problemer i form af køer
ved kasserne.

Tre studerende fra Aalborg Universitet har lavet et virusværn til
mobiltelefoner og de håber på at få amerikansk patent på opfindelsen.
Kristian Sørensen, der studerer kommunikationsteknologi og er en af de
tre bag projektet, har fornylig været i New York for at præsenterer
projektet for bl.a. Sony, Phillips og IBM. Virusværnet benytter bl.a.
digitale signaturer til at sikre, at vedhæftede filer ikke er vira.

Lad bankerne mærke din utilfredshed med de nye dankortgebyrer: Byt dit
dankort ud med et hævekort. Sådan lyder opfordringen fra Kim Simonsen,
Viby J., i et læserbrev til Ekstra Bladet. Kunderne må stå sammen mod
bankernes mafiametoder med først at give gratis smagsprøver så folk
bliver afhængige og siden forlange betaling.

Danskerne er vrede over det nye dankort-gebyr, der i tider med
gevaldige overskud i banksektoren blot gnider salt i såret hos
forbrugerne. En Webpol-undersøgelse for Ekstra Bladet viser, at 91
pct. af 550 adspurgte danskere i alderen 18-65 er imod
dankort-gebyret. Og mange har også tænkt sig, at lade bankerne føle
deres utilfredshed: 63,7 pct. af de adspurgte vil gå oftere i banken
for at hæve penge i stedet for at bruge dankortet i butikken.

Bankerne flår de danske forbrugere med det nye dankort-gebyr, men
Ekstra Bladet opfordrer til bankernes moral: Giv pengene videre til
Asien. Bankerne forventer at tjene 180 mio. kr. årligt på det nye
dankort-gebyr, hvilket kun er 0,6 pct. af bankernes samlede overskud i
2004. Kun ved at give disse penge til ofrene for flodbølgekatastrofen
i Asien kan bankerne retfærdiggøre det nye gebyr. Hvis ikke Danske
Bank og Nordea sætter en stopper for deres grådighed, så vil Ekstra
Bladet støtte forbrugernes sag og starte aktion ‘knæk bankerne – fjern
dankort-gebyret’.

De tre adspurgte i MetroXpress’ spørgerunde om dankortgebyret er alle
enige om, at dankort-gebyret er for meget. Bankerne tjener rigeligt
allerede på gebyrer, og dankortet burde bare være en service.

Grønland og Færøernes repræsentanter på danske ambassader vil fremover
have reference til deres egne landstyrer. Det er resultatet af en
aftale mellem Udenrigsministeriet og de to landes politiske ledelser.
Hidtil har udenrigs- og sikkerhedspolitik i Grønland og Færøerne hørt
under den danske regering.

Ved strukturreformen vil kommunerne få mulighed til styre ressourcerne
til beredskabet, men det vil ikke give forringelser. Det vurderer
beredskabschef i Roskilde, Carsten Iversen: ‘Går de for vidt i deres
spareiver, må den person, som har forstand på beredskab, nemlig
beredskabschefen, sige fra’, siger han. Samme holdning har
beredskabschef i Køge Kommune, Carl Johann Viereck, der vurderer, at
man langt de fleste steder vil fastholde et beredskab, der ligner det,
man har i dag.

De danske rejsebureauer står til at tabe store summer på
flodbølgekatastrofen i Sydøstasien – især i forhold til
forsikringsomkostningerne. Salgs- og marketingsdirektør Jan Vendelbo
fra MyTravel vurderer, at katastrofen har kostet firmaet over 10 mio.
kr. i hele norden, hovedsageligt fordi, at firmaets forsikring ikke
dækker naturkatastrofer. Salgschef hos Star Tours, Stig Elling vil
endnu ikke komme med overslag på de økonomiske konsekvenser: ‘Det er
klart, at der bliver dyrt. Men økonomien er klart sekundær i
øjeblikket’, udtaler han.

Flyselskabet Sterling rapporterer om øget interesse for utraditionelle
afgange som bl.a. Edinburgh i Skotland og Montpellier i Frankrig.

Efter pres fra en række danske politikere vil trafikminister Flemming
Hansen (K) nu søge at justere taksterne på ?resundsbron. Selvom om ca.
60 pct. af trafikken over ?resundsbron kører med rabat og antallet er
stigende, ønsker Flemming Hansen alligevel at undersøge mulighederne
for en nedsættelse af brotaksterne. ‘Hvis vi kunne give ministeren
nogle løsninger på, hvordan man yderligere kan sætte priserne ned og
samtidigt bibeholde en sund økonomi, ville vi ikke have gjort vores
arbejde godt nok’, udtaler Sven Landelius, adm. direktør for
?resundsforbindelsen. Han henviser til, at det vil kræve en ny
dansk-svensk regeringsaftale, hvis der skal ændres på konsortiets
rolle. Den svenske trafikminister Ulrica Messing (S) fastslår, at det
stadig er brokonsortiet, der har takstkompetencen.

Det er uigennemtænkt at give penge til en udvidelse af Roskilde
Lufthavn, som vil støjforurene det nærliggende rekreative område
Hedeland. Det skriver Kirsten Andersen i et læserbrev til Roskilde
Tidende. Ved at udvide lufthavnen vil politikerne ødelægge deres
tidligere investering i at udvikle Hedeland, som ingen vil bryde sig
om at opholde sig i, hvis der dagligt flyver 70 fly over området.

Den 28. december 2004 aftalte Norge, Danmark og Sverige med SAS, at
selskabet sørger for ekstraordinær hjemtransport af bl.a. de 1300
danskere, der endnu er i Thailand. I løbet af den 29. og 30. december
kan der blive tale om syv til ti særflyvninger, der i alt kan
transportere ca. 1000 mennesker.

Den 8. december 2004 underskrev bestyrelserne i Arla og Campina en
hensigtserklæring om fusion, men den kan først godkendes i marts 2005.
Det nuværende Arla kommer til at eje 65 pct. af det nye selskab, der
vil få en forventet omsætning på ca. 74 mia. kr. og omkring 28.000
ansatte. Hollandske Tiny Sanders vil blive adm. direktør, mens danske
Knud Erik Jensen bliver formand for bestyrelsen. Fusionen ventes at
give synergieffekter til omkring 1 mia. kr. årligt, hvilket svarer til
ca. 10 øre pr. kg mælk. Hvis de to selskabers repræsentantskaber
godkender det endelige fusionsoplæg, vil det nye selskab kunne blive
etableret i 2. kvartal 2005.

På Danish Crowns nye slagteri i Horsens kan man gennem guidede ture
blive ført ind i hele slagteprocessens forløb. Inspireret af Arla
Foods, der for et par år siden på tilsvarende vis åbnede ostemejeriet
ved Taulov for besøgende, vil Danish Crown invitere bl.a.
skoleklasser, studiekredse og husmoderforeninger på besøg.

Landmanden Per Jakobsen har indsendt Arla et foreslag om, bevare
hovedsædet i Viby og i stedet selv flyve kunderne til og fra
?stjylland. Han henviser til, at både Grundfos og Danfoss benytter
forretningsfly således, og han mener, at Arla, eventuelt i samarbejde
med Tulip og Danish Crown, ville kunne gøre noget lignende. Arlas
pressechef Louis Honoré er ikke afvisende, men vurderer, at det vil
være svært at genåbne fusionsaftalen med Campina for at ændre den
nuværende løsning. Han understreger, at ønsket om at flytte til
København også skyldes at man gerne vil tættere på
interesseorganisationer og politiske beslutningstagere.

Since the entire process of buying the service, reading and cutting the newspapers, writing, reading and editing the summaries before emailing them to the buyers – the entire everyday situation with the reproduction of news snacks – is what constitutes this work of art, it can be a bit difficult to put on display. But luckily, it’s pretty easy to take part in the process, seems like they’re always on the lookout for new talent. Otherwise, you can just take heart from the fact that there are people out there who are making their living from (albeit unknowingly) participating in a work of art of such disturbingly complexity (spanning all of the daily news produced in Scandinavia) that it had to be found rather than constructed.

The meaning of life?

While I was in Spain this summer, I more or less accidentally stumbled upon the bargain of a lifetime:

pretty cheap, huh?

Interestingly enough, the receipt is from the “Torre de la Calahorra” – a museum in Córdoba dedicated to the Arabic cultural heritage in southern Spain. Did you know, that around the year 1100 AD, Córdoba was one of the biggest cities in Europe, and was home to the leading philosophers of that era? It’s not something that we hear a lot about these days of frightful moslem terror (or however might be labeled). Among these erudite philosophers were Averröes (also known as Ibn Rushd), Maimonides (who was jewish, and thus evidence of the much praised “tri-cultural” society that existed in Spain before the final advent of the Castillian kings) and Ibn Arabi. They were proponents of a sort of religious humanism that sounds very much like the humanism of the later renaissance.

But not only that, they also managed to work out the meaning of life. Not a lot of people seem to be too interested in that, these days. “It’s been done before” or “It’s too overexposed” the cynics say. But, really, the question is: Would we really appreciate it if we knew?

I hardly think so. So even though I bought it and brought back to Denmark with me, I don’t think there is a lot of people who would like what it says. It’s probably not supposed to be liked, but even so, I am disinclined to reveal it.

Okay, one hint:

“.. the most frequently repeated teaching in the Qu’ran is to make the effort to think things out for yourselves.” – Averröes

😉

Links galore

I’ve been messing around with the page template a bit, and have managed to produce a list of links for your viewing pleasure.

I’ll be adding more in different categories later on. For now there’s just a few comics that I enjoy and some other (random) stuff. Have a look. I’ll write some proper introductions to the more worthwhile web sites later on…