Student Loan Reduction

I just received a robo-call informing me that my student loan had been flagged for a payment reduction plan. That’s wonderful.

And fucked up.

The last remnant of my student loan (issued by the the Norwegian state’s Student Loan Bank (yes, there is such a thing, Socialism, doncha know!)) from my brush with academia back in the late 80s/early 90s was paid off in full more than a decade ago.

I smell a fish, and it’s been laying out in the sun for too long.

Stident loan scam dead fish.

If it looks like a dead fish, smells like a dead fish, and walks like a dead fish, it’s probably a student loan reduction scam. Photo credit: Check the watermark. I found it in a ditch by the wayside on the Internet.

Hurra For 17de Mai – Happy Constitution Day Norway!

On May 17th 1814 Norway’s equivalent of America’s Founding Fathers took advantage of the turbulence created in Europe by the Napoleonic wars to declare a free and independent nation and pass a new constitution, much based on the American and French constitutions of recent and general Enlightenment philosophy. Oddly enough they elected as their new King the next in line of their previous usurper for 400 years, Crown Prince Christian Frederik (already viceroy of Norway) of Denmark.

The bliss lasted only a few months until the French king-in-waiting of Sweden (it’s complicated, read the full version of events on Wikipedia, or buy a book) came to claim his prize for being on the right side of said Napoleonic wars according to the terms of the treaty of Kiel. The Norwegian peasant army was no match for the battle hardened troops of Jean Bernadotte, formerly Marshal of France under Napoleon-turned-traitor*, soon to become King Karl Johan of Sweden and Norway. (Fun fact: Jean Bernadotte/King Karl Johan (the conqueror of the budding Norwegian nation fighting for freedom, and, I’m sure, the last Norwegian king to kill a man in formal duel) is immortalized in an equestrian statue smack in front of the Royal Palace in Oslo. How fucked up is that? The main drag in Oslo, leading up to the palace, is Karl Johans Gate (Karl Johan’s Street.)

Anyhoo, to make a long story short, the Norwegians got spanked and were forced into a union with Sweden for the next 91 years until they finally managed to wrangle out of it using a dubious legal constitutional argument in 1905 (the Norwegian Storting (parliament) unilaterally declared the union dissolved on June 7th and the Swedish monarch King Oscar II begrudgingly renounced his claim to the Norwegian throne and recognized Norway’s status as an independent and sovereign nation on October 26th) when they became free and independent for real (and promptly proceeded to elect yet another Danish princeling to be their next king—in fact the newly imported Prince Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel/King Haakon VII’s great-granduncle was the very same Christian Frederik from 1814) without so much as a shot fired from either side of the conflict, though there were troop buildups on both sides of the border and a vocal faction of Swedes called for war.

I hope I got this right. If not you can blame my history teacher and a poor educational system in Norway. In any case, happy birthday Norway (technically, not really—Norway was an established nation-state, both ethnically and politically since the mid middle ages); may your nation prosper and not succumb to the multi-cultural, mostly Muslim threat you are facing. (Not necessarily agreeing with this assessment of the current state of affairs in Norway, but I have it on good authority that this is a fear held by a not insignificant portion of ethnic Norwegians.) This year being the 200th anniversary of your founding document, I suppose you will make something extra out of it. More drunken people passed out on park benches from Lindesnes to Nordkapp than usual, I’m sure.

*So yes, the progenitor of the modern Swedish royal family was an opportunistic, in no way of royal blood, treasonous French military officer of the late 18th/early 19th centuries who never even bothered to learn Swedish. [By the same token, Prince Valdemar/King Haakon never bothered to learn proper Norwegian, but Norwegian and Danish being so similar, I guess most Norwegians could understand him if he slowed down and enunciated properly (problem is Danes don’t enunciate at all; it’s like listening to a Norwegian talking with a small potato lodged in the back of his throat, but I digress)]. Guess how I feel about the institution of monarchy? I think the Russkies and the Frogs got it right, that’s what I think!

For those interested in the truly bizarre entanglement of what’s left of the inbred bevy of European monarchy, I suggest going to Wikipedia and just start with one article and follow the links for a mind-boggling and never-ending read. The institution is so outdated, and now, watered out with commoners, reality- and talk-show hosts, and plain attention seekers (gold diggers/media whores (and other kinds of whores)), that it clearly has outlived any justification to society it once may have had. Norway/Sweden/Denmark/England/Holland/Belgium/Spain/Monaco (I think that’s it, and Monaco isn’t even a real country); GET WITH THE PROGRAM ALREADY AND DUMP THOSE PARASITIC CHUMPS AND JOIN THE MODERN WORLD AND ITS PROPER FORM OF GOVERNANCE. PROMOTING A SINGLE FAMILY AS HEAD OF STATE/GOVERNMENT/CHURCH(!) SIMPLY FOR BEING BORN INTO THAT FAMILY IS SO FUCKING… MEDIEVAL!

Edit 8-10-15: Part of this article is historically incorrect. I’m just too lazy to fix it. Cite the information given here at your own peril. 

Muslim Invasion

I just spent the morning browsing YouTube and various online news outlets in Scandinavia and Europe, and from what I see and hear it’s becoming harder and harder for me to disagree with the statement that Scandinavian and other European cultures are indeed under attack by Islam.

I wonder how big the silent majority is that sympathizes – if not with his actions – then with the broader sentiments of Anders Behring Breivik.

Cogito Ergo LOL WUT?

Cogito Ergo Sum. I think, therefore I am. Or so the saying goes.

Upon being admitted to University in Norway, you must first, regardless of your chosen field of study, complete – and pass – a basic Philosophy 1-0-1 type course known as Examen Philosphicum (them academics likes their Latins). This in order to prepare the student for the basic principles of higher learning, scientific method, critical thinking and so on and so forth.

Those of you who know me may also know that I had my own run-in with Academia and that I lost, shamefully, leaving University after several changes to my major, degree-less and with precious little to my credit other than a student loan, the barest minimum of knowledge and understanding, hardly enough even to get me in trouble, but still sufficient to fool those of even lesser learning and/or wit to believe that I was more learned and/or witty than they were. In other words I knew very little about a lot and used it to be snooty and snarky to cover up my own insecurity whenever the opportunity presented itself. (I have since evolved to become a much nicer person.)

But I do remember the lecture on René Descartes and Cogito. That in order to find truth, you must first deconstruct everything until you arrive at that which cannot be doubted and build from there. And the most basic truth is “I Think, Therefore I Am”. Cogito Ergo Sum. Surely nothing can be more basic and true than the assertion that your thinking is proof positive that you exist.

At first this seemed perfectly reasonable and self-evident to me. But what if “I” myself was somebody’s creation programmed to believe (erroneously so) that I was thinking and therefore I was? This was before the breakthrough of personal computers and the Internets, and I have already admitted that I didn’t stick it out long enough to acquire a greater understanding of the subject. If I had, I might have gotten answers. I was also afraid to appear stupid, so I never asked my professors or discussed the matter with my fellow students. I just took the damn course and got on with what I thought was going to be the rest of my life.

Years pass. Moss grows on a rolling stone. Computers become as common as yeast infections in whores. I am vaguely aware of background chatter about artificial intelligences (AIs), Ray Kurzweil, the impending Singularity Event (when machine intelligence develops self-awareness and processing power skyrockets exponentially, potentially leaving flesh-humans behind in the dust), I watch and enjoy the three first Terminator movies, et cetera, et cetera, but can still not muster up enough energy or interest to go beyond passing awestruckness © (Is that a real word? If not I claim copyright.) and fascination with the subject. The possibility that I may not be an independent sentient/sapient being brings little worry to my life.

Current day. I download a short-story (novella, novelette?) from Amazon on my Kindle (search terms, search terms) by David Brin called “Stones Of Significance” and rediscover my fascination when I see that I’m not the only one who has pondered (however slightly) this existential question. Of course I’m not. I relatively firmly believe that every thought worth thinking has already been thought by someone else, someone smarter, and no matter what I think, I’m not adding anything of value to the pool of human knowledge. But I digress.

Disclaimer: I’m only through 19% of the story, but so far I gather it’s about digital simulations of people – even fictional people! – fighting for civil rights in a post-singularity Heaven where everybody is their own god. How totally awesome is that? I have said on occasion that I hope computer science advances fast enough and I live long enough to upload the contents of my mind to the Heavenly Server and live out eternity in virtual reality, digital bliss if you will, where your every whim and wish is possible at the speed of thought. I don’t know how realistic this is, but I quit smoking four years ago and try to live as healthy (or as little unhealthy) as I can. But my determination wavers, after all I am only human. Or am I? Maybe I am just someone’s really good simulation of “Me”, in which case it doesn’t really matter.

So here we are, waiting to die. Or to be saved by The Singularity. Or for someone to hit “Delete”. Just wanted to put it out there.

My Hero Is Gone – Christopher Hitchens Dead

I just heard the sad news. Christopher Hitchens has succumbed to esophageal cancer. Creationists all over the  world rejoice, thanking Jesus, while reasonable people are mourning. I would say R.I.P., but that would be an insult.

If the music died 02-03-1959­, then reason and acerbic wit took a hit 12-15-2011­.

I’m not old enough to remember where I was when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but I do have John Lennon (sitting in a van listening to the radio, waiting for the post office at St. Olav’s Square in Oslo, Norway to open) and Christoper Hitchens (right here in front of my computer in Newtown, Connecticut). Oddly enough I don’t think they would have gotten along very well.

I regard Mr Hitchens a beacon of reason and logic and unsurpassed intellectual wit and honesty in a world that suffers from ignorance and superstition, not only abroad, but increasingly so right here at home. He was the standard bearer promoting atheism (he referred to himself as an “anti-theist”) and casting off the shackles of religion.

I didn’t agree with him on everything (America’s unwarranted invasion of Iraq in 2003 being the biggie), but the world needed his passion for truth now more than ever. The world is a much, much , MUCH better place for having been lucky enough to have him around.


Butter Shortage In Norway

Norwegians are experiencing a butter shortage. This is big, important news; even Al Jazeera is reporting on it. Bad as this is (Norwegians love their butter), it happens at the worst possible time – right before Christmas – when butter is needed the most for traditional Christmas cookie baking. I say it’s a gift from the gods in The War On Christmas. Go Vinterblot!

Poor Norwegian Car Owner (Stakkars Norske Bileier)

You think owning a car can be a PITA in America? Than check out this car-for-sale ad from Norway. Yeah, you gotta get Google to translate it for you, but it’ll be even funnier that way.


Renault Kangoo 1.4 Drittbil 1998, 185 000 km, kr 8 585,-

Bilen er reservert ut dagen idag 14.12.2011 !!
Takk for all sympati og medfølelse!!

Nå er jeg såå … lei dette fremkomstmiddelet, det har ikke vært annet enn problemer fra jeg kjøpte den!!

Jeg hadde knapt kjøpt den for to-tre år siden da registerreima gikk. Hadde jeg visst bedre så hadde jeg knust hele objektet med slegge der og da.
Men tror du det?…Neida. Stakkars objekt…trengte jo EU-kontroll også. Så Judasen skreik seg til:

Overhalt topp pga alle ventiler så ut som spørsmålstegn.(reimer og vannpumpe) Nye bremser/bremserør
Katalysator til 6000,- Diverse som jeg har fortrengt.

Gikk ikke lenge før den ble lei seg igjen, så etter det har den fått trøst med hjulager foran, forstillingskontroll og ny frontrute. Fortsatt litt sur…så nylig har den fått ny drivaksling. Burde egentlig tatt drivakslingen og tråkka den så langt opp i eksosanlegget på den at den kom ut luftfilteret.

Drivakslingen må tydeligvis ha irritert han, for jeg kjørte ikke mange meter før den falt sammen pga defekt fjæring bak på ene side. Nå står den der, og jeg synes ikke lengre synd på den.

Objektet selges som den står, som et reparasjonsobjekt for dem med spesielle lyster. På taket er det en dockingstasjon slik at eventuelle romskip kan kople seg på. Dette ville jo være en sensasjon med unike inntjeningsmuligheter.
Kan alternativt brukes for båt, rulle i bakkant.

Følger med to felgsett vil jeg si, da dekkene gjør seg best som skosåler. Ac har jeg aldri brukt, men tror det må etterfylles gass. Inne i objektet så sitter det en timer mellom setene. Tror dette er noe Webasto-greier, aldri brukt det pga av at jeg er av den kaldblodige typen.

Hvis man klokelig holder seg borte fra å kjøpe metallhaugen, så kan eventuelt deler plukkes. Mulig dere må gjøre det selv, er ikke sikkert jeg kan ta i den.

Vet ikke hva mere negativt jeg kan si om objektet nå, helt unik..må bare oppleves!!

Sitter langt inne å si dette: Kjøpt pga av at den er utrolig romslig, og setene kan på 5 sekunder felles fremover, og du har plass som i en varebil. Lavt forbruk.

Forbehold om feil i annonsen.

Håper ingen kjøper den egentlig, for da skal jeg høre med høggern om ikke jeg kan få lov til å presse den. Hadde sikkert gjort seg i et øvingsfelt for Stridsvogner også. Kom gjerne med andre forslag!