Friday, October 31, 2008

Day two

Today we had pizza and a few beers for dinner. Falk seemed to like it just fine. Then I taught him how to make a proper Irish coffee.

The trick is to use Irish rye whiskey, not your barley whiskeys like the Scots like them, because that'll put you over in your Black Watch type of concoction and you don't want that.

Falk wasn't much of a student. That boy can't hold his liquor, I'll tell you that. He keeps falling asleep at the bar.

After we'd brushed our teeth and put on our pajamas we watched 'Ghost Dog' by Jim Jarmusch. Falk liked it, but felt it didn't have enough lions in it. I have to agree.

More updates tomorrow!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The children's crusade at home - day one

OK, so Sara has left for the Holy Land. It was only a matter of time, I guess.

She'll be traveling with four other women in a delegation to the Palestinian city of Ramallah on the West Bank, the unofficial capital of the Palestinian National Authority, to meet with women's groups from our sister party. I'm not sure what they're up to, but it can't be good news for Palestinian men, I'll tell you that.

Meanwhile, and more importantly, I'm left back here to hold the fort. I know many of you are worried about me, which is completely understandable, but I want you all to know that I'm confident I'll get through this ordeal tolerably unscathed. And I'm sure Falk will be more or less alive when she gets back.

We'll manage, is what I'm trying to say.

Yes, it was very selfish of Sara to go to Palestine. Who will wash our clothes now? No one, that's who. And while she's sunbathing in some Palestinian beach resort, who'll be cooking our dinner? No one. We'll cry ourselves to sleep every night, dressed in stinky rags, freezing cold and hungry. But still we support her little holiday. We are nothing if not supportive.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rummaging for an afternoon snack

The SHÄDY ÄCRES descent into hell

Friday, October 24, 2008

Answers to your questions

I know many of you are worried about the future. I know you have questions, questions like: Will the financial crisis ever end? Can Barack Obama really make peace in the Middle East? Will I ever find true love? Do they know it's Christmas?

I have questions too. But unlike you I also have answers. That's why I've decided to take the time to address your concerns.

There is no financial crisis, so just ignore it. Barack Obama could probably end the conflict in the Middle East, but he won't. You will never experience true love, and you will die alone. They do not know it's Christmas.

I hope that answers your questions. Thank you and goodbye.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Foolish mortals!

This is a story about the time I challenged the gods. It happened only a few years ago. You should have been there. But then I wouldn't have to tell you about it, would I?

At that time I had almost finished writing the great Scandinavian novel. It was a work of deep insight, told in terse, polished prose. Maybe incisive is a better word for it, or succinct. But most of all it was concise, I would say, in its terseness.

It opened with the words: "I don't know why you insist on calling me Stinky Lizardfoot, when you know full well my name is Ishmael". A refreshing outside view of Scandinavian society, it was the story of a family of modern gypsies, Lithuanian migrant workers who travel around the Nordic countries in a camper van and surmount all kinds of obstacles. The father, a cashiered policeman, is the central character, with the oldest daughter delivering many of the subplots. My working title was Through the Gateway to the Fjords and Beyond.

At the point of third act resolution we find the family of seven fleeing the burning wreck of their camper van through a Swedish forest in midwinter, pursued by a mob of locals who have become enraged by a news story of a home invasion-turned-murder, committed by a completely unrelated group of Lithuanian migrants, in another part of the country.

All I needed was an ending and a better title. But then what happened, I had the flu for three weeks, and afterwards I went through a period of depression and severe writer's block. It came to a point where I would sit by the typewriter for hours, whole days even, chewing my baconless spaghetti carbonara and grimly humming the theme to Dick Turpin.

It could not continue. One morning, sickened by the seemingly growing pile of blank papers, I made a pact with myself. I took the 327 bus out to the country and climbed a small hill in the middle of a field, no doubt some forgotten bronze age chieftain's tomb. I sat there with my typewriter, resolved to stay in the same spot until I'd finished the work. I sat there for hours and nothing happened.

In my despair I swung my fists at the heavens then. I cursed the gods of writing, specifically Brage, norse god of minstrels, calling him a cuckold and a bit of an asshole.

It was then that it happened. The heavens opened and a thunderbolt pierced the sky. There was a deafening roar and all went black. That's the last thing I remember, first a roar, and then the blackness. Or maybe the blackness came first and then there was a roar in the blackness. It's hard to tell, because the two were almost completely simultaneous.

I awoke at the foot of the hill, dazed, stupefied, bewildered and also confused, with soot on my hands and face, my (quite expensive) windbreaker in tatters. At the top of the hill was a scorched hollow the depth of a cast iron bathtub, and typewriter parts lay scattered about in a perfect circle.

The 786 pages of my novel were burned to ashes. Sadly it was the only copy. To my surprise I found the 400g can of skinned tomatoes I'd brought along for provisions miraculously untouched, but I later discovered the contents had acquired an unusually bland taste, undoubtedly as a direct result of the thunderbolt.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chevauchée

"I have heard tales of the Black Prince. The moment he touched the soil of our country the devil entered into him, and made him a black fiend. But at home, in the place made for him by God, he was good. It is always so."

(George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Raska raska doodle day





Hey monkeys, guess what. It's payday.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Saturday, October 04, 2008

You're not invited

Friday, October 03, 2008

Frozen assets

Apparently there's some sort of big financial crisis going on or something. I'm not sure about the details, but I'm very worried how it will affect my stock portfolio.

Lucky for me I've mostly got chicken stock. You could say I'm into bouillon cubes in a big way.

I sure hope they're safe in my kitchen cabinet.

The blue house

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The SHÄDY ÄCRES guide to world affairs

OK, so I went ahead and calculated the relative strength of the world's armies at this stage in history. You can thank me later.

I have meticulously compared global military expenditures, factoring in known generational differences in arms technology, size of nuclear arsenal (where applicable), recent combat performance, level of branch jointness and stated operational doctrines, plus a few basic demographic, economic and political factors. Where the data was outdated or not available I simply applied my finely tuned instinct for these things and made qualified guesses.

Can we trust my calculations? My answer is, yes, we probably can, within a margin of error.

These are the armies of the world as they stand today:

You will notice how the green guys, the Ericans, make up a huge percentage. Erican military spending comprises about 47% of the global total. Recent underperformance in Iraq and Afghanistan notwithstanding, the Ericans will fuck you up good - if they can agree on a time and place to do it. They sit on the largest nuclear arsenal, and even if the current crisis continues they still have vast industrial capacity. The NATO alliance, though worn thin by Erican disregard for reciprocity, diplomacy, military honour and international law, is still a formidable league.

And then we have the three reddish guys right at the bottom there. Let's call them Ivan, Pjotr and Vladimir.

At this point in history Russia is weak, at least compared to Erica. The Russian Federation relies on mobilization, with a conscription time of 1 1/2 year. The Red Army musters 1.1 million men under arms at any given time, with a core of maybe 150.000 cadres. They have serious weaknesses in terms of operational doctrine and jointness; the air, navy and army branch don't cooperate as they should, and their general infantry units are of low quality. Using special forces in the infantry role as they did in Georgia is like using a microscope to hammer a nail into a wall - it'll get the job done, sure, but it's expensive in the long run.

In naval technology they're also lagging behind, even if their Shkval torpedo system is pretty innovative. They have only one (1) aircraft carrier in operation, built at the best of the old Soviet Black Sea wharfs, which, unfortunately for the Russians, is now part of the Ukraine. They say they're planning six new carriers, but where would they build them? Vladivostok? Murmansk?

Their best planes, the 4th generation Sukhoi fighters, are no match for NATO fighters of generation 4.5 or higher. The 5th generation Sukhoi PAK FA, a joint Russo-Indian venture, is still in production. They do possess a decent anti-aircraft SAM system, the S 300 and S 400. In a few years they'll have their own independent GPS system up and running, the GLONASS.

They still have nuclear capacity, even if many of the old Soviet launch sites are now in places like Kazakhstan. The only problem with having a nuclear arsenal is that a) it's extremely expensive and b) it's a deterrent, not a weapon. You can't use nuclear missiles for anything, really. You can neither defend nor conquer terrain with them, because, well, they fuck stuff up.

In short: Compared to Erica, the Russians don't bring much to the fight, except maybe a huge cock and a pair of hairy balls to go with it.

Meanwhile, since the Soviet collapse, Erica has been buying up properties all along the Russian border, building airstrips and oil pipes and making friends with all the nasty little dictatorships and capitalist robber baronies that sprang up like radioactive mushrooms in the vacuum left by the Warsaw Pact.

Let's take a closer look at one of these lovely places. Which country in the world uses the largest percentage of its GNP for military expenditure? OK, that's North Korea. But which country comes a close second? I'll give you a hint: It's Georgia.

Yes, that beacon of democracy in the Caucasus. These brain surgeon types use a whopping 15% of their annual GNP on murder hardware. In comparison, at the height of he cold war, the requirement for NATO membership was a measly 2%. Here's a question: Where do they get all these weapons? The answer is, they get them mostly from Erica, from France and also from our good friends in Israel, devoted to ethnic cleansing and disregard of UN resolutions since 1948.

Another question: What does Georgia want with all those weapons? The answer is, they want to subjugate a whole bunch of people who have stated very clearly, on more than one occasion, that they don't want anything to do with them. So in august 2008 Georgia invaded the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, to "quell disturbances" and "secure its frontiers".

Russia of course intervened. Why wouldn't they? About 90% of the people in South Ossetia hold Russian citizenship.

NATO was not officially party to the invasion, but during the conflict, about 800 Georgian troops and 11 tons of cargo were moved from Iraq to Georgia by eight US Aviation flights. When the Georgian state servers were crippled by Russian hackers, the Georgian information war continued from servers in Poland.

Poland, Poland... Wait a minute, isn't that where Erica is building a huge missile defense system in circumvention of like a dozen treaties with Russia? I love how they call it a rocket shield, when in truth it's actually just more rockets. Don't you? To set up a huge missile park literally on the border of Russia can only be seen as a deliberate provocation. When the Soviets did more or less exactly the same to Erica, in Cuba in 1962, it nearly triggered a third world war.

During the brief Georgia conflict, Western media were portraying the Russians as one-dimensional Soviet aggressors. We kept getting these news stories headlined "Genocide!" and "Russia breaks off relations with NATO!", and then further down the page we could read how it was in fact NATO which first broke off relations with Russia, not the other way around, and the genocide turned out to be a satellite photo of some houses on fire. The bläggers were all fired up about it too, and they mostly bought the mainstream russophobe angle.

But what really happened?

Well, think of Georgia as Russia's crazy ex-girlfriend. They were together for a while, but then when Russia lost his job and fell on hard times, Georgia was all like: What have you done for me lately? and she split. She took some of Russia's best CDs with her, but in the emotional turmoil she forgot her favorite sweater.

Then after a while Georgia becomes involved with this thoroughly corrupt butch cop named Erica. Erica is happy to crash at Georgia's flat after her shift, but she doesn't want to hold hands in public or anything. All Georgia ever talks about is how she wants her sweater back, and Erica is all like: Will you please shut up?

But Georgia just goes on and on about her ex-boyfriend and the sweater, and finally Erica says, OK, if you want that sweater back so badly, why don't you just go get it? I'll come with you to see you're OK.

So Georgia goes to get her sweater back while Erica, on her way to pick up another pay-off from the mob, waits in the patrol car outside Russia's flat. Time passes. What the hell is taking her so long? Then Georgia comes back - without the sweater. What happened? Where's the sweater? Georgia just blushes.

Then Russia comes to the door, reeking of vodka, and he goes: Hey pig! She may be with you now, but I can still fuck her anytime I want, and he slams the door shut.

Erica just looks at Georgia, all like, what the fuck bitch? And Georgia says: I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. He has a really huge cock.

So now I ask you - friends, Finnmärskers, countrymen - what's the real problem here? One drunken guy with a huge cock, or the corrupt and brutal police force which sends out poor misguided nymphomaniacs to collect sweaters? I think you'll find that if you look into your hearts, the answer is self-evident. Thank you for your time. No really, thank you.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Memoirs of a man who has accomplished nothing

I grew up on an island the size of a coin. At the time I was old enough to see the Egyptian lady down at the Queen's Chamber on the corner of Pyramid and Nile, she asked me how I wanted my fortunes told. I said all I wanted was a drink, and fast.

She poured me a famous wine, of the finest vintage, or at least that's what it said on the bottle. To me it seemed a pale, watery drink; I spat it out. Are you trying to trick me? I demanded. Pour me something I'll remember tomorrow, or I'll take my money elsewhere!

The pint of beer she drew me next was the best I ever tasted. With a head of foam on it like a clear night, and a body like an endless day spent hiding in a field of wheat. It seemed to last forever, echoing down my throat. It seemed to last forever.

And as perfect a drink as that was, yet halfway through I was already thinking about the next. The beer stood stale in the glass, weighed down with a bitter taste now, and hard to swallow. It seemed to last forever, and thank God it didn't.

Never have I thirsted for anything like that third drink. It went straight down and burned me like a pailful of souls descending to hell, yet the more I put away the thirstier I was. Only at the very bottom did I recognize the taste. Poison! I yelled. What do you mean? The glass I gave you was empty.

Water, just give me water, and she did; icy and clear like a glacial lake, it deadened me and quenched me right down to the very soles under my shoes. Benumbed I turned to take my paper cup and leave, but the Egyptian lady called me back: Now for the price! There's always a price.

The wine you spat out, it doesn't count. For the beer you drank I'll give you a sovereign of gold, for the water I'll give you a diamond. Here, take them: They're yours to carry. What are you waiting for? Go away before I change my mind and give you more! So I took my water and ran, not spilling a drop.