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the occational blog



The conscerns of a captious mind.



 



Hibernating.
Ambitions sometimes surpasses capacity. This blog will not be updated in a while.



Professor goes native on campus.
In an effort to understand the apparent lack of focus observed amongst her undergraduate students, anthropology professor Cathy Small decided to utilize her sabattical year to live amongst them, living in the university dorm , "eating cafeteria food and struggling with a five-course schedule".

After spending a considerable amount of time with them, she realized that in order to really get to these kids, she needed to understand them even better.  And her findings has resulted in her "changing her courses to better connect to the real world".

Hear, hear. More, more!!
 



Social interaction and online anthropology.
In an interview of six anthropologists at antropologi.info , I'm quoted as saying that there exists alternative realities on the web which youngsters and children adapt to and adopt as "theirs", in new and imaginative ways. Now, the discussion on Face-to-face vs. online communication which has evolved as a result of the interview mentioned at savageminds is an excellent example of how online discussions within the discipline creates opportunities for a broader, more dynamic discourse on the subject. Rather than limiting it to a small subscribing audience (in a magazine or a periodical) or to an opulent clique of seminar paricipants in some high prestige university, it now opens for a discussion where people who actually work online can bring their personal and professional experiences on the matter.

As for the discreet critique (scroll to comment 18) by orange of my definition of online realities being solely alternative realities, and thus being without connections to the "real" - 

I believe - of course - that these social spheres are linked to peoples everyday lives; in fact, I believe that they are social scenes equal to any other - be it the work scene, the clubbing scene or the shopping scene (much discussed in the comments of the discussion at savage minds, and in itself an area where online and F2F-communication goes hand in hand). To classify one type of communication as more important for social bonding than another - as some seem to prefer when attempting to outline the differences between them.



OS X on PCs?

One of the more or less reliable technology sites, Techspot, reports that there now exists a version of MAC totally superior OS X which runs on PCs. If there's any truth in this, it surely means that the move towards Intel processors in the Mac computers will open new posibillities for both  Mac and PC users. As the cheapest  Mac still runs at appr. NOK 5400,-  (or US $ 599,-), you can get PC's for much less nowadays - and with a monitor  to go with it, too! And according to internetnews.com , Dell would just love it if their computers would run on OS X.

 

I for one look forward to it; having a computer, be it a Mac (preferably) or a PC (my wife's preferance), which will accomodate the whole family. 

 

 




Nation Brands Index

GMI Poll, an online market research company, has released a Nation Brands Index which, they claim, reflects how nations are seen by other nations around the world. They further argue that


"Nation brand is an important concept in today's world. Globalization means that countries compete with each other for the attention, respect and trust of investors, tourists, consumers, donors, immigrants, the governments of other nations and the media: so a powerful and positive nation brand provides a crucial competitive advantage."


The small article can be found here, there are some nice graphics and pdf's there as well. if you find, like me, messages like this one -  "This item contains detailed information and data restricted for serious inquiries only. To view these items you must have cookies, java, and javascript enabled in your browser for them to work." - combined with the requirement of registering a hassle and a hampering of the whole point of web-publishing, which should be easy, quick access to information (!!), I provide the list of the top ten countries on reputation:

1. Australia

2. Canada

3. Switserland

4.  Great Britain

5. Sweden

6. Italy

7. Germany

8. The Netherlands

9. France

10. New Zealand 


 Not surplisingly, the bullitics of the US when it comes to foreign affairs has gained them no extra leverage, sheer physical poweris more seen as a bad thing here, and will not help in gaining more popularity! Rather the opposite, I'm afraid. Doesn't help much to invade, harass, threaten,  intimidate, manipulate and physically and psychologically abuse anyone you find to be a possible threat, slightly different, accidentially wanting to enter US soil, or wants to make a living for themselves in what is supposed to be a global free trade environment without being told by the big boss what to do. 


Even so, the US comes in at #11! Explain to me again, this fascination people around the world seems to nurture about the states. Please! Anyone...? Oh well, I know, Hollywood, land-of-the-free and all that, but seriously!


UPDATE:  I guess it's no surptise that Americans themselves place the US at the top of all rankings, so also this one. This from a country where only about one third has aquired a passport - 


one might say that their objectivity could be questioned.




Bush bull-logics.
 

"As long as we fight terrorists on Iraqi and Afghanistani soil we don't need to meet them at home", Bush said yesterday in a pressmeeting at the White House. His faithful brother-in-arms Rumsfeldt brings further to light the kind of logic the US administration bases its war on terror on: "There was no war in Iraq on 9/11", indicating that today'srage against the US/British-led occupation of Iraq is merely another excuse for terrorists in their ongoing crusade against America. In addition, he holds as proof of the need for an invation of Iraq that terrorists of today refer to the occupation as a reason for keeping up their struggle.

 

Oh, my. What logic. The reason for invading Iraq was thus toooo... defend the US from weapons of mass destruction believed to be in the hands of Saddam Hussein. Wasn't that it? But now, the warmonger indicates that the proof of a link between al-quaida and Saddam is found in the promise from Bin Ladens second-in-command to fight American presence in Iraq.

This does not prove in any way that there was a link before 9/11. On the contrary, the events of post 9/11 seems to indicate that the link between Iraq and terror is something that the occupying nations have made themselves. In Madrid the terrorist attacks was clearly ment to influence Spanish foreign policy, especially  their engagement in the armed forces under US command in Iraq. likewise, the London bombing of last month is but one of many clues to how terrorism will respond to the occupation of Iraq in the future.

 

The power to define who's what always lies with the victorious. Combined with the Goebbles-like-doctrine of telling a lie over and over will make it sound true will surely make the fight against terrorism a bloody ordeal - and an ordeal which will be impossible to overcome without major alterations of western policies towards Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

As al-quaida has moved from being a loosely organised task force to an ideological lighthouse for more or less independent groups or cells of radicals, fighting terrorism by merely going after them with weapons in hand will only strenghten their resolve. But the US government must know this.

 

War is good for moral, for polls, and for American business. Heck, the American people even tolerate a $7,782,816,546,352.29 deficit. That's bull-logics for ya.




Inbetweenity/ Boys Will Be Boys.

As I am a big fan of accessabillity when it comes to scientific work I whish to point any accidental reader of this blog in the direction of my thesis, in pdf  (large file, but worth the wait!), as well as a few other articles (one in Norwegian, but the rest in English).

 

The thesis is based on an anthropological fieldwork conducted in 2001, on the beautiful but capricious island of Tobago, West Indies. My work there also resulted in a fieldwork diary - in the shape of an ethnographic and methodological film called Boys Will Be Boys.

 




Norwegian MFA delays Food aid to Niger

Norwegian newspaper BT reports that as the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) exhausted their transportration budget during the Tsunami-crisis earlier this year, tonnes of BP-5 food-packages are still in stock here in Norway instead of being on its way to Niger.

Both the British Save the Children and Medisins sans Frontieres Norway have managed to raise the funds necessary for the delivery of these life-bringing packages of high-density foodstuff. But as the Norwegian aid organisation CARE Norway resenlty discovered, no funds will be delegated to their relief effort from the MFA unless the books are in order.

 

Meanwhile, in hell on earth, Dagbladets Tore Gjerstad reports that the efforts of Western foreign aid policies recieves not much more than resigned sighs from field workers. "For thirty Years the goal of foreign aid to Niger has been food security", chief nurse and coordinator for Medicins sans Frontieres Johanne Sekkenes sais, " now everyone can witness the total failure of this policy".

 

It seems to me that the Norwegian MFA has some corrective handling to attend to. And they better hurry. 




The G8-Debt Deal: Is it all a hoax?
The campaign "Make Powerty History" has had it's moments, and it's time to start focussing on other issues in regards to what seems to be an endless struggle for a better future for the poorer countries of the world. As the leaders of the G8-countries left the summit, their golden posibillity had passed; they had not been able to sum up the balls to really commit themselves to a plan on how to fight poverty. As one scientist has put it, "These were all non-performing loans, so the deal ... was very much a natural progression...It wasn't the great breakthrough that was claimed. It's important, but it's not going to save Africa itself." Now, there are of course obstacles to a debt-release plan which should be of some conscern. First of all, there's the question of which countries are eligible for a debt-removal. Secondly, the way the western world has gained control over the so-called "global free marked" makes it difficult still for third world economies to blossom. And thirdly, there's the question of what sort of conditions these countries will have to submit to in order to get the debt-release.Russia has great foreign debt (appr. 140 mill US$ in 2002), but will hardly be eligible for a debt-release of any significance. The US has the largest foreign debt of any country ($7,782,816,546,352.29 pr. April 10th this year). Both Sweden and Denmark have foreign debts larger than their immediate assets. So simply having debts will not classify. Average income might might be an indicator of poverty, but might also hide it in countries where income levels varies (again, the US may serve as an example - more than 12 % of the population is regarded as living under the poverty line). Food production and export/import rates is another indicator of a real need for debt reduction.And then there's the historical premises under which these debts were accumulated, and the situation of today. Take Zimbabwe, for example. With a large payment due to the International Monetary Fund this fall, tha country is on the verge of economic collapse. The South African government is considering to help Zimbabwe in meeting their financial obligations. The question is how such an act is viewed politically by Robert Mugabe himself, by the heavily repressed political opposition in the country and from abroad. There is no doubt that several of these players will view such a helping hand from the South Africans as support to president Mugabe himself. On the other hand, not aiding the country will surely lead to more sufffering and poverty for a people already drained by years of bad harvests (partly due to a politically driven relocation of lands from experienced white farmowners to unexperienced war-veterans), suppression and economic regression. Still, after finding solutions to the problem of defining who gets to whipe their books clean there's the question of trade. And whilst the leaders of the rich world gorge themselves in the goodwill of credabillity-makers like Bono and Sir Bob, coffee farmers can only stand by and watch as US corporations - thanks to US legislation and reluctance to committing to international free trade regulations - push the prize on coffee below the minimum required in order to make even the smallest of surplus on it. And while the US claims to give more money to foreign aid than any other country, they still use only about half of what they spend on subsidising their own agricultural sector, - tipping the scale of competition in favour of the national brands. Make Poverty History, yes, but don't think for a minute that you've fooled us. The fight isn't over, and G8 surely didn't help us get much closer. But it provided some grat publicity shots, didn't it? [...]



The Ballad Of Thomas And Jenny
"Ahh, romance", Thomas sighed, his face lit up by one of those bright smiles that may indicate both happiness and ridicule. He was sitting next to me on the small bridge just outside one of the tiny groceries in Trenchtown, Nowhere. It was early evening, carnival season, and only a few people out walking. Thomas had just returned from England, ring on finger and ready to be married to sweet Englishgyal Jenny. "She and I met here, yuh know, a couple of years back, she here with her husband then, but she came back later, an' then me and her became real friendly." The smile reappeared, and he looked at me as to check my response to the story so far. I congratulated him on the engagement, and asked when we could hope to meet his fiancée. "I dunno 'bout dat, man. She still in England, looking for a house for us to buy. I dunno if it?s she come here, or me goin'." Thomas was a good footballer. Everyone I talked to on the pitch (and off) would say that he was good. A bit on the polished side for some, but still good. He had left the island together with Jenny, indicating that there might be a career for him in England to be pursued. On that same night, on the bridge, he would tell me how he?d attended training sessions with a second division team, and how it all seemed to come together for him. He told many stories about living 'over there', and a small crowd of young boys and pardners gathered and commented on his experiences. Suddenly he leaned over to me and said in a conspiratorial manner: "Man, this place real borin', ya know, nuttin' really happens here. In England, I go all over the place, I really know my way 'round dat place, now!" The only reason he was still here, he said, was that there was some legal issues to attend, before he could move to England for good. Thomas was on his way 'outta here', he had 'set himself up real good'. His future was secured, he had the ticket out. Amongst some of his peers ? men of same age in the village - a mix of envy and ridicule prevailed; his life would undoubtedly be easier, better, but he had put himself there at the mercy of a woman, 'a white woman'. A few weeks later, Jenny arrived. Recently divorced after a marriage which lasted for about a decade, she had started anew, hoping for a happier future with a younger man. She was in her mid-thirties, about ten years older than Thomas. She just appeared one day, out of the blue, and seemed to show little interest in people. She spent her days in a beach bed by the hotel, while Thomas went about his business. They spent little time together, and she only stayed for a couple of weeks. Their behaviour in public seemed odd and a little off mark compared to the image Thomas himself had painted of a relationship to build a life on. Jenny had bought a car during her stay, and Thomas now had wheels, which meant that his ability to move around was improved. He could take tourists on trips, and not only tourists living on Snorkling Beach or in Trenchtown, and he was able to bring friends to Bigtown or to The Touristfields when he pleased. He did not use the car as a taxi, which could be an opportunity for a steady income, but used the mobility and freedom for all it was worth,- he had moved up in the world, and now had the wheels to show it. Jenny came and went one more time during spring, without any apparent changes in their relationship,- they rarely spent any time in public together, and the only time they were seen in each others realm, was either when he came to the beach (but rarely if ever to see her) or walking to and from the grocery store, but then Thomas would walk a few feet ahead of her. Jenny always wore her shades, face motionless, apparently accepting the inferiority of the situation. She returned again in June, and rented a house in the same garden where my little one-and-a-half-roo[...]



Rising to the challenge.

A long time ago, one of the most important Norwegian bloggers made a strong case for other Norwegian bloggers to start blogging in English. His argument was that, as more and more people around the world have the opportunity to read, listen to and comment what others are blogging, the problem of a common language should be adressed. Now, I do not assume that everyone, all over, find the English language to be the only true "universal" language, neither do I believe that the English language itself  is free of culture-spesific traits which makes it flawless as a means of inter-cultural communication.

 Still, and in this I follow Bjørn Stærk, the benefits of being able to both initiate conversations and to follow up others from (almost) all over the world, makes it worth while.

 

So, what will you as a reader find on these pages? First of all, I will try to follow up on my motto for my Norwegian blog, and relentlessly attack and scrutinise all things which irritates me or puzzles me, but I will also comment upon spesific areas of interest like research politics (including the  "bullitics" of our present government), visual and social anthropology (which happens to be my caling, if not my present occupation), as well as some personal rambling on films, music and litterature.

 

My hope is that this blog might join some of those excellent others which together constitute a Norwegian-based sphere in the international blogging-community (if such a singular entity exists).

 

Challenge accepted. Let's go.