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My North of the Desolate Sea: Travels in Eastern Greenland and Svalbard

By oceanbourne in Culture
Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 09:43:40 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

While visiting my native land--the Faroe Islands--this summer, I became bored and looked for somewhere even more remote and isolated to venture to: somewhere in the Arctic I'd never visited. Having seen most of Scandinavia and much of northern Russia, my choices were limited but had to be apt. I ended up going to Scoresbysund, Greenland and then to Longyearbyen, Svalbard. These are some of the most remote parts of the world and their isolation and insular situation both makes them spellbinding places to visit and also reflections of broader Nordic culture.

This is the story of my journey.

Many years ago an astute and educated young woman named Liv Balstad wrote a gripping account of her tenure on the Norwegian islands of Svalbard as the wife of the islands' new governor. Her book was entitled North of the Desolate Sea. If Balstad seems the least bit pejorative in her use of "desolate" in the title, we should forgive her: after all, leaving Oslo and a glamorous life as a socialite and politician's wife for one of the most remote, cold, and least populated of places in the world probably colored her impression of her new home slightly. In any event, Balstad produced a mesmerizing piece of travel literature that reads like a Lonely Planet guide written seventy years ago in the past. Svalbard has not changed so greatly that Balstad would fail to recognize it today, certainly.

I share something with Balstad: I went to Svalbard, although I was not compelled by marriage to do so. Nor did I even meet the sysselmann, or resident governor, though had I desired such, it probably would not have been impossible to arrange. Indeed, in places like Svalbard and Greenland, the local high politicos thrive on entertaining any out of country guests when such occasions arise. Parties and dinners stretching far into the night are a mark of Nordic hospitality albeit one that the pressures and pace of modern life often discourage. In a place like Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the pace of life isn't so hurried.

My trip to Svalbard was one of subtle adventure and an unexplainable sense of need to travel to some of the remote outposts of the Arctic. I am a native of the Faroes--what are known in English unfortunately as the "Faroe Islands" which is rather poor given that "Faroes" in our language (Føroyskt) means "sheep islands" so it's a bit repetitive to also say "islands". The climate of the Faroes is rather like that of northern Scotland so it's not as horrid as some might imagine. Indeed, walking about our capital of Tórshavn is much like being in a Danish or Norwegian town . . . or even a Scottish one. Many people forget that the Orkney and Shetland Isles of Scotland were, for quite a long time, under Dano-Norwegian rule just like Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroes. Of these, Iceland only gained its independence in full in 1944 after years of being under Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish rule. The Faroes and Greenland, though having hjemmestyre (home-rule), are still under the Danish crown. While neither Iceland, the Faroes, Svalbard, or even mammoth and icy Greenland are as desolate and empty as people may imagine, the remoteness of these places from mainland Europe has fostered a sense of community amongst us even though we are in fact quite far apart geographically. Guidebooks tend to group Iceland, the Faroes, and Greenland all together and I've yet to see one that even bothers much with Svalbard. Growing up in the Faroes, you gain a sense about these other places: a sense of odd Nordic brotherhood in geography.

It bears to mention that even Svalbard isn't the most remote of the Nordic lands. Greenland's massive spread notwithstanding, that title might go to tiny Jan Mayen which is also under the Norwegian crown. Jan Mayen has only a small weather and LORAN-C station with a mainly military crew to man these but still, it occasionally receives visitors from Arctic tour cruises. That is to say, where there's a will there seems to be a way when it comes to getting around the Arctic--at least if there is somewhere you want to see badly enough. In my case, I wanted to see all I could without making a regional airline extremely wealthy in the process. Jan Mayen, though desired, was ruled out due to cost and Russia's large and remote Novaya Zemlya seemed nearly impossible to visit--if not for its location, for the red-tape involved. Novaya Zemlya has been the site of a number of nuclear tests during the Cold War so it might not be the nicest place to wander about anyway.

I decided after some time that I would visit Svalbard and Greenland, but somehow felt a little let down. Surely, there were other places I could go? I wanted, predictably, to say I'd been where none of my friends had but Nordic youth are a hardy and adventurous lot and I had already met several who'd been everywhere, it seemed. In a bookstore in Odense I was looking at a book on Greenland and a guy around my age came up and asked if I'd been. He, of course, already had. His girlfriend, moreover, had been to eastern Greenland which was a bit more rare yet and her brother had gone to Svalbard two summers ago. My only real coolness factor with this bunch was that I was from the Faroes--but certainly not the only Faroese boy in Odense. Sitting at a coffeeshop reading the newspaper Politiken one day I overheard five teenagers from Tórshavn chattering noisily in my native Faroese behind me. More than ever, I wanted to find somewhere really remote.


I decided to visit Scoresbysund, which is a village on the eastern coast of Greenland: While closer to the Faroes and also Europe, Greenland's eastern coast is much less developed and suffers more hostile weather than the western coast which faces towards Canada. Scoresbysund is a place few visit, a community of about 500 people who are descendants of the original settlers of the area who themselves relocated from elsewhere in Greenland. From there, I wanted to go to Svalbard but would do so passing back through Copenhagen, Oslo and then Tromsø. It would be a paper-chain of flights, a daisy-chain of flights, a chariot-race of planes. As REM said in that old song, you can't get there from here . . . that is, you can, but with great effort. Years ago, when in another very remote locale--Mongolia--someone told me that the four letters of name of the national airline, MIAT, stood for "maybe I'll arrive today". Quite possibly--albeit with the dependable services of SAS, Mærsk and Star Air--I would still be facing the same question now. Ice, rain, and even in the latter portion of the Summer all manner of inclement weather could cause delays. The whole process of such dawdling travels takes you back to another time when travel by definition was a slow process.

When I boarded my flight to Scoresbysund I found myself in the pleasant company of two Danes, three Greenlanders returning home, and a young woman from Wales who, like myself, just wanted to go somewhere different. She was an anthropology student at the University of London and had spent a year in Oslo two years prior--an experience that fueled her interest in all things Nordic, apparently. The Danes had business in Scoresbysund and had flown the route before. One kindly gave me a play-by-play of the waters we flew over: apparently the lagan of shipwrecks dotted our path though none were apparent from our altitude. He talked of the icebreakers he'd been on, including an American Coast Guard one where he'd served as a science officer--it seems the U.S. Coast Guard invited scientists to sail with it on occasion. The color of the water below our wings reminded me of sea off my home island of Vágar. Indeed, the same sea, really. But it brought a sense of the familiar I found most welcome. The whole affair of the flight--a propeller-driven plane, the dark ocean colors, the Danish oceanographer's narrative--seemed from another time: It seemed belonging of the age of steamships and such travel. Once again, not of our own time.

Landing at Scoresbysund was unlike landing anywhere else. Greenlandic airports are basic, at best, but also sturdy. Moreover, in the Summer coastal Greenland is neither white with snow nor green, but brown. The dusty brown of the Grand Canyon, of every desert. The brown of rich sheer cliffs. The brown of plain dust. This is quiet a contrast to the colors of the sea but what was even more striking, according to the Welsh lady, was the bright yellow, teal, and brick-red wooden buildings of the town itself. She was astounded by this, a situation that surprised me until I remembered that her contact with Scandinavia was limited to metropolitan Oslo: In Tórshavn and all Faroese towns you find this sort of timber-frame architecture and accompanying bright paint-jobs. You will find the same in rural Jutland, Norway, and of course, Greenland. I already expected them in Svalbard, too. In Scoresbysund, even some of the airport structures and the local GPS station building were painted a lurid red despite being pre-fabricated steel and plastic in construction.

From the landscape of Scoresbysund, I understood immediately why Danish geologists favor Greenland as a site for their explorations: there is little vegetation to speak of save lichens and the brash geological world is laid naked before the eye. I knew that Scoresbysund had been settled by pioneers who believed there would be better hunting and fishing here, but it was hard to imagine they would have found their quarry. Still, their settlement had survived and in recent years, provisions had been made to convey seal and whale meat to Greenland's more populous western coast where it would fetch a good price. Tourism was starting to be explored as an enterprise here, also, and the inroads that Greenland had made in this regard had surprised a lot of Danes: many, especially ones who had lived in Greenland for their jobs or with the Danish Defense Command, could not see people paying good money to visit the place. But they were perhaps a different breed than those who came as tourists. Even the oceanographer on my flight expressed this feeling: "Really? I can't see that [visiting for pleasure] myself, I mean, I'd rather go to London or somewhere where there is something to see, you know?"

My cabin in Scoresbysund was humble, but extremely neat and clean. I shared it with a Danish student who was visiting and had arrived on the plane previous my own: in Scoresbysund, flights come and go over the span of days, not hours as we are accustomed to in large airports. Sometimes, these flights (back to the MIAT saying) don't come or go when they are expected to, either. Anders, my room-mate, was from Copenhagen and like myself had just wanted to see some place different. A friend was supposed to have come with him but decided against it due to the cost at the last possible minute. If you think rising oil prices had made your daily commute more expensive, try running a fleet of sturdy planes all the way to Greenland. Anders was pleased with his trip, nonetheless: he loved hiking and implored me to join him (I enjoy it too, and he didn't need to twist my arm much) in exploring around Scoresbysund. Two bonuses were found in hiking with Anders: first, because he is a botany student he was able to tell me a fair amount about the local flora (such as it is) and second, we discovered we liked each other rather much. I wasn't expecting a cute, blond, Dane in bed with me in Greenland but I wasn't complaining about it either . . . not in the least. In fact, Ander's presence transformed my visit from a very solitary experience focused on the beauty of the Arctic to a reflection on the human aspect in such a remote and cold place. Sex can perhaps be at times overvalued, but it's a central human experience and one that really made my trip something to remember beyond the majesty of the surroundings.

The idea of a village like Scoresbysund is unique: in the Winter, the entire place will be very much covered in snow. Like anywhere, people will clear their walks and the streets but there are not yards as you have in many Western cultures. Nor, until rather recently, were there stores and other places of business as such. These are a Danish concept as opposed to a Greenlandic one because Greenlanders traditionally would be engaged in fishing, hunting, and other activities that involved the entire family. When men returned with their spoils, the women would gather in a house and clean and dress the animals. To this day, it's not at all uncommon to see women cleaning fish or even a larger animal right in the living room of her family home--and these foods are not necessarily being prepared just for her family but as part of her and her husband's business. Since the 1970s, there has been a strong movement in Greenland to acknowledge and celebrate the native Greenlandic culture and not replace it with Danish or other Western overtones. Indeed, the town of Scoresbysund is now also known by its Greenlandic name of Ittoqortoormiut and both Greenlandic and Danish are accepted as official languages in Greenland. While Scoresbysund is far behind towns in western Greenland such as Qeqertarsuaq in the number of tourists it draws, it is clear that tourism is working here and the retention of traditional Greenlandic aspects will certainly appeal to the tourists who come from Denmark and elsewhere. Contrary to the oceanographer's comments, there is a lot to see and many of us want to see things we can't see in Copenhagen or London.

The cliffs and seascape around Scoresbysund you wouldn't see in London, certainly. Nowhere on the River Thames would you find such barren fissures as these--the erosion is from both water (in the form of melting snow) and wind. While hiking Anders and I met a young woman from England (not the same person as the Welsh anthropologist) who had returned from Indonesia where she was completing her thesis on the slow Loris, which I gathered to be some kind of monkey without a tail. Deborah, the woman seeking monkeys without tails, was in Scoresbysund like Anders and myself because she simply wanted to see a place few ever venture to, and Scoresbysund fit that bill. Her ex-boyfriend, it seems, was in the Danish Defense Command and had been stationed at Nord, which is a military and scientific base at the northernmost point on the eastern Greenlandic coast. As Nord is not so accessible (even compared to the rest of Greenland) Deborah had reasoned that Scoresbysund would do for her purposes. Over dinner Anders, Deborah, and I talked about the rumors of crashed World War II bombers still preserved in the glacial ice, the American military base at Thule in the west, and scientific drilling expeditions to the formidable interior of Greenland. Dinner was prepared by the same family that ran Anders' and my lodgings and consisted of fish and tinned beans, beets, and bread from Denmark. One of the greatest issues that has always faced Greenland was that of how to import enough essential foodstuffs at a decent price. At the commissary in Scoresbysund, everything cost more than it would have in Denmark's major cities or even in the Faroes. In my hometown of Miðvágur, imported food was not cheap but not this bad, either.

The next day--the day before I was to leave--Anders and I spent exploring more of Scoresbysund, hiking the hills around the village, mainly. Because the settlement itself is small, it is not difficult to wander out into what is beyond Scoresbysund because the village just trails off into the rocky expanse past its limits. A village like Scoresbysund makes you rethink how you conceptualize a town: it brings you back to nearly medieval ideals of a self-contained towns where other settlements would be far away and not to be relied upon. In the most literal sense, this is exactly the situation in Scoresbysund. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, near Scoresbysund. Were something to go wrong, you would fly somewhere else: Such is a very remote concept for most of us in this modern life of ours.

Saying goodbye to Anders was tough: he still had several more days in Scoresbysund that he would have to spend hiking alone. Of course, that's what he expected when he came there but after having a companion for a few of those days it wasn't the most pleasant thing. Nor for I, knowing the chances of finding someone like him (read: who would sleep with me, be all over my body, and hike with me) in Svalbard would be a rare chance indeed.

Tromsø to Longyearbyen

The day after, I did fly somewhere else: to Copenhagen then to Oslo then Tromsø. Tromsø is the most northern major city in Norway so it has all manner of sundry claims about being northernly such as the "most northern orchestra" and the like. It's a lovely town, though, civic pride aside. After the food we had in Greenland (the company at dinner far overshadowed the food) the fresh, typically Nordic fair of Tromsø was most welcome to me. After spending the night, I flew on to Svalbard. Something that was interesting about Tromsø was how silent it was at night save odd noises like bells: yes, bells. Churchbells, bells on ships and boats--windchimes also perhaps. Everywhere, seemingly, bells. The only time I didn't seem to hear these bells was when I had Rammstein blaring on my iPod. It was like the old English nursery song, "Oranges and Lemons":

"Pancakes and fritters" say the bells of St. Peter's.
"Two sticks and an apple" say the bells of Whitechapel.
"Pokers and tongs" say the bells of St. John's.
"Kettles and pans" say the bells of St. Ann's.

Ringing bells aside, the flight to Longyearbyen was much like that to Scoresbysund with the notable exception that you could see the arching coast of Norway part of the way--strong fjords looks like mere places where rainwater had washed the rest of the soil away. You could see all this until you came to the chillingly blue waters of the northern seas--the desolate sea that Liv Balstad wrote about. Then it was just dark blue of ocean and nothing else. I was the only tourist, oddly, on this flight: the remaining passengers were three Norwegians employed in Longyearbyen and two Polish researchers. It's funny what people do on airplanes: some talk, some sleep, some like myself listen to "Weisses Fleisch" on their iPods and just smile. I felt beauty from the scene of sea below but less awe and wonderment compared to what many tourists have described to me of their flights around the Arctic. Probably because I grew up with a somewhat subdued version of this ruggedness--it's nothing new to me.

Longyearbyen, like Scoresbysund, is a place that must be immensely beautiful when covered with Winter's snows but in Summer it was just a Pantone palate of browns and grays, sand and gravel. The one striking feature to make the town even show up as such from the air was the brilliantly painted little houses. Again, all red, yellow and sometimes an odd teal color. And one poor building was the most homely pea-green you might imagine. Longyearbyen looked like a smaller Tórshavn with a lot more land still free. It would be an American developer's dream, that land: Were there any reason to greatly develop past what was already done, at least. Longyearbyen, incidentally, was named for an American named Longyear who came to Svalbard to seek his fortune in mining and other enterprises: "byen" is the Norwegian word for "city". The legal situation of Svalbard, courtesy of an odd treaty, is such that while a Norwegian territory, it is open to any person who wants to come and live there and not subject to the strict regulations of immigration to Norway. This treaty also allows international interests to set up mining and other industrial operations here, which lead during Soviet times to a large Russian presence (one that on a smaller scale continues to this day) engaged in coal mining. At one time, it is said more Russians than Norwegians lived on the isle of Spitsbergen--the largest of the islands of Svalbard.

The Polish scientists who flew in on my flight were a botanist and a wildlife ecologist. Svalbard, surprisingly for its isolated Arctic location, hosts a wide variety of different plant species. They have but a scant season of brilliant light to bloom and flourish. There are animals, also: the Arctic fox, polar bears, and even a subspecies of mouse native to Svalbard. Like Scoresbysund, there's plenty to interest geologists here, too.

Beyond flora and fauna, the question begs to be asked: What do people who live here do for fun? How boring is it really? As stated before, dinner parties are a big deal. You start dinner around eight and watch it extend to the wee hours of the morning along with the best vodka you can imagine. As soon as I had met a few people at the airport I found myself with invitations to two dinner parties: If you're outgoing and speak Norwegian and/or Russian and especially if you come from somewhere interesting (anywhere other than Norway, it seems) you'll be invited. You're special because you're from elsewhere and bring news and views with you. Despite the old prohibition against discussing politics and religion at dinner parties, the former was the leading topic at the first party I attended: a party given by a Russian geologist and his wife, mainly for older scientists in Longyearbyen and the visiting Poles. I learned more about the current corruption in Moscow though than about Svalbard: when you're in a very isolated place you speak of everywhere else than where you are.

The second dinner party was hosted by a young physician in honor of a pilot friend's birthday. As the friend was Danish, they felt apt to invite me, also. And as the friend was Danish, good food was also a given (not that the Russians did poorly in that regard in the least). It turned out that out of fourteen guests, five of us played piano including our host so much music filled the night--everything from show tunes to my improvised version of Nightwish's "She is my Sin". Loreena McKennitt, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a local favorite as well. Scandinavians have, to me, always had a fine appreciation of music but in a remote location you come to value it even more because it's your iPod or CD player which accompanies you around town and breaks up the monotony of a small and cloistered environment. Of the islands of Svalbard, only three are actually inhabited and that's even stretching the truth a bit because two of those three only have small scientific station staffs on them while Spitsbergen has genuine towns with decent (albeit still tiny) populations. When you get into places like Spitsbergen you become generous with what you term a "town" and a "population". A gathering of five houses would be enough up here to qualify as a village--and probably enough reason for a dinner party.

My hotel, the Basecamp Spitsbergen deserves some mention: The concept of this hotel is to recreate a hunter's lodge replete with stuffed trophy animals and rugged timber-frame construction. It's advertised as "cozy", which indeed it is but the real charm is the unintended kitsch of the place. If Disney ever were to add a Svalbard pavilion to EPCOT, I fear it would resemble Basecamp Spitsbergen very much. Sitting in my room at night, reading Jean Genet's Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs was a surreal, stirring experience though: one of not being sure where you were and feeling like various times and geographies were passing through the air.

I met one American in Longyearbyen--another geologist (where do they all come from?). He was one of those Firefox users who seem to travel the world to preach the gospel of the browser and therefore was delighted that I was running the Danish-language beta of Firefox on my beat-up Mac G3 PowerBook. From such he learned that "bogmærker" in Danish means "bookmarks" and asked "what then would you call a marker in a bog?". Not being someone who normally has to survey marshes I could not reply, although "mærskmærker" sounds about right. In strange places, you do get asked strange questions.

With this gentleman, I went to Barentsburg--the surviving Russian settlement on Spitsbergen. Another Russian town, Pyramiden exists but its coal mining operation was closed in 2000 and it sits as a ghost town more or less today, although Russian mining interests plan to resume operations there possibly as early as 2006. Barentsburg is named for the Dutch explorer Willem Barentz, but is thoroughly Russian and you will hear Russian and not Norwegian spoken. Because I had lived in the former Soviet Union briefly, my Russian is near-fluent although I am oft ridiculed for my mispronunciations which apparently resemble nothing so much as a drunken Belarusian. Pyramiden and Barentsburg both have statues of Lenin, making for an odd reminder of Soviet times not so long ago. Barentsburg also has a small, Soviet-style museum called the Pomor Museum. For those who have never had the pleasure of a small, regional, Russian museum, you're missing an odd treat. These museums--which you'll find in every small city in Russia, but especially in the Russian far east--tend to have a collection of stuffed animals (taxidermy--not plushies!), dried plants, and rocks (the latter perhaps a high draw in Barentsburg given the number of geologists about). In theory, one can lodge in Barentsburg though since I already had my room rented at the Basecamp Spitsbergen in Longyearbyen, I wasn't about to stay the night here. Boats and helicopters are the main means of transport about Svalbard with the latter being much more expensive (but much faster) than the former. Due to arrangements that I won't go through the tiresome bother of explaining, I had a helicopter flight back to Longyearbyen which, for its astronomical price, at least offered a stunning view of Spitsbergen's countryside.

The next day a trip to Pyramiden was arranged (thankfully not via overpriced rotary aircraft!). Because Pyramiden is not in operation now, it's your one and only chance to explore a recently-functioning Russian mining town (one and only unless you go to the Russian city of Nikel and prowl around things you shouldn't). Indeed, they have a statue of Lenin here--one rightfully claimed to be the northernmost Lenin in the world. They also have a lot of old mining buildings and equipment and the whole place looks like many former industrial sites across Russia. Why the Russians simply leave things out to rust (because in this environment rust they will) instead of bringing their costly devices under some manner of shelter I do not understand. I have seen this from Nikel to Angarsk in Russia and saw it again in Pyramiden. Apparently the Russian thing to do with expensive mining hardware is to leave it out where it will receive as much damage as possible. Probably a tax write-off for someone, somewhere.

You are supposed not venture into the buildings at Pyramiden at all, unless on official business, but the complex of aging mining buildings certainly make for a tempting site of urban exploration. The situation on Spitsbergen is such that you can pretty much venture around with minimal guidance or restriction so standing rules and orders are left often at good faith to be followed. As more and more tourists visit, this situation may indeed change but for now, it's very much unlike anywhere else in the world (except Greenland) in this regard.

After my visit to Pyramiden, I returned to Longyearbyen and saw the city's museum and other sites I had not yet visited prior to my flight back to Tromsø. Leaving, we had worse weather: it had been rather balmy my whole stay in Svalbard but now storms were on the ocean and the flight was rough, at best. After Svalbard, Tromsø seemed downright huge and ever-busy, while it had seemed very staid and sedate after Oslo on the flight up. I didn't notice the bells so much this time around, however.

There were moments of great scenic beauty in my travels to Greenland and Svalbard, the sort of moments that an increasing number of tourists pay very good money to experience. Beyond that, there was the sublime discovery of the rugged nature of the land and the desolate (there is no better word in English for it) feeling of these forlorn outposts of livelihood and industry. Then there was the joy of meeting people like Anders and Deborah, finding the commonality of life in places where life seems rare and distinct. For someone from the northern lands, it was a reaffirming of the commonality of a culture that outside of northern Scandinavia, Greenland, the Faroes, and Iceland one hardly encounters. It was also an experience that makes one appreciate technology and communication: the Internet is available in Longyearbyen, even in Greenland. You can look at any website you could anywhere else. Despite this, visitors are still invited to dinner parties with eager expectations of their tales from afar. Some things just don't change very much.

Liv Balstad's book, North of the Desolate Sea (London: Souvenir Press, 1958) can sometimes still be found, in its English translation, in used bookstores.

The Faroe Island's official tourist information site (in English).

Greenland Guide is Greenland's offical tourist site.

Longyearbyen.net contains news and information about that city and Svalbard in general in Norwegian (bokmål).

The Svalbard Pages has extensive information on Svalbard in both Norwegian and English.


Voxel dot net
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Related Links
o Svalbard
o Greenland
o Faroes
o Føroyskt
o Iceland
o Jan Mayen
o Novaya Zemlya
o Odense
o Politiken
o Copenhagen
o Oslo
o Tromsø
o Greenlande rs
o Nord
o Miðvágur
o "Oranges and Lemons"
o Longyearby en
o Jean Genet's
o Barentsbur g
o Pyramiden
o The Faroe Island's official tourist information site (in English).
o Greenland Guide is Greenland's offical tourist site.
o Longyearby en.net contains news and information about that city and Svalbard in general in Norwegian (bokmål).
o The Svalbard Pages has extensive information on Svalbard in both Norwegian and English.
o Also by oceanbourne

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My North of the Desolate Sea: Travels in Eastern Greenland and Svalbard | 84 comments (68 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1000 Sons of Northern Darkness!!!! (1.50 / 6) (#6)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 08:55:00 AM EST

No matter what, you will recieve +1 FP from me and my many dupes. Scandanavia!!!


Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

+1 informative (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by livus on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 09:17:13 PM EST

Your descriptions of your strange interactions with people add a human interest angle to what is already an interesting piece. Thanks.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

I was going to +1FP this (none / 1) (#18)
by Gruntathon on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 09:47:05 PM EST

But you use an iPod.

Consumer Whore.
If they hadn't been such quality beasts (despite being so young) it would have been a nightmare - good self-starting, capable hands are your finest friend. -- Anonymous CEO
but . . . (none / 0) (#19)
by oceanbourne on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 10:22:42 PM EST

The iPod was a gift from my dad so . . . as you say in American English, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth . . . esp one that will play your favourite music!
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
So yuo compromised yuor dignity and (none / 0) (#20)
by Wealthy Foreign Investor on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 05:10:19 AM EST

integretity as a man just because your dad got you it? A real man would sell it on ebay
[ Parent ]
+1FP (none / 1) (#21)
by fleece on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 06:11:52 AM EST

because i couldn't be bothered reading it now so i want it to hang round for a while.

plus it's too long and you're a nullo

I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
Croak # (none / 0) (#22)
by IAmNotAKitten on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 07:57:38 AM EST

Nullo or not, (none / 1) (#23)
by Enlarged to Show Texture on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 09:27:24 AM EST

...this is a clinic on how to write an article on here. I suspect that this is someone that's been lurking on here for some time.

This beats out a lot of the drivel that's hit the front page and section pages the last two weeks, and I cheerfully give it a +1 FP.

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov
thanks (none / 0) (#30)
by oceanbourne on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:56:31 PM EST

Yes, I have been "lurking"/reading Kuro5hin for some time but furthermore, I have written for and published in a variety of academic, trade, and news print media for over a decade. Whatever writing abilities I have can be attributed to that experience.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
Pretty good (none / 0) (#24)
by rigorist on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 11:11:50 AM EST

It could use some tightening up by a good editor, but there is a lot of good stuff in here.

nice article (none / 0) (#26)
by llimllib on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 11:23:05 AM EST

Just wanted to say that. Well written and interesting, with only one typo (quiet instead of quite).

tak (none / 0) (#32)
by oceanbourne on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 01:24:37 PM EST

I figured a typo would escape me somewhere. Since English is not my native language I tend to make mistakes even after years of writing in it that perhaps native speakers do not.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
ESL (none / 0) (#37)
by deadnancy on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 10:15:40 PM EST

Your English is consistently good enough that the odd bits (be all over my body) come off as charming (to this Brooklynite, anyway).

Thanks for this article.


[ Parent ]
tak (none / 1) (#38)
by oceanbourne on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 10:45:45 PM EST

Thank you: I really do try. And I have been writing in English and speaking it for years. It was harder though to write about things that I would normally speak of in Danish or Faroese or Norwegian, however.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
author ignored my suggestion (none / 0) (#27)
by creativedissonance on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:42:40 PM EST

to include more scandalous details of kinky danish sex.  I must admit I am disappointed.  Perhaps an unabridged version in the diaries?

I know, we'll write it for you!

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n

Question: (none / 0) (#28)
by thankyougustad on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:45:06 PM EST

Are you, or have you ever been, a homosexual?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
nope (none / 1) (#29)
by creativedissonance on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:54:03 PM EST

but I think male > female anal is a-ok, ymmv

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
I am intrigued (none / 1) (#59)
by skim123 on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:10:23 PM EST

I am intrigued and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

But what about female > male anal?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
didn't wanna scare you kids . . . (3.00 / 2) (#31)
by oceanbourne on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 01:00:37 PM EST

Obviously, I am homosexual and have no issues with it. But knowing how many people on here are straight men lead me to not include the lurid details of what Anders and I did. Once you found out how good it is, you know, you might try it and hurt yourselves . . !
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
ignorance on my part. duh. good call % (none / 1) (#33)
by creativedissonance on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 01:26:44 PM EST

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
you've inspired me (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by circletimessquare on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 06:55:08 PM EST

my haunt is the visayas of the philippines

that is the non-tagalog speaking rural areas of the philippines south of luzon (the big island in the north) and northern mindanao (south mindanao is another world altogether)

comparing tagalog to visayan (aka cebuano) is like comparing english to french. visayans and tagalogs often need to speak english to each other to communicate. visayan is more akin to bahasa indonesia or bahasa malay. tagalog is very different

visayans have a legend of datu puti, an iban chief who fled borneo to escape harassment, and made peace with the local pygmies. to this day in the highlands of the big islands of the philippines are remnant populations of the pre-malay inhabitants who are darker and smaller and more akin in language and appearance to papua new guineans and australian aborigines. in fact, i find that visayans are very much like the iban of borneo: taller and more gaunt than and very distinct facially from the dominant political and population groups of the islands of southeast asia (the javanese in indonesia, and the tagalogs in the philippines). the tagalogs look more chinese + malay than malay, and the javanese, well they look javanese, it's a distinctive austronesian appearance

the story of datu puti is reenacted in antique every year, the binirayan, antique being his fabled landing spot in the western visayas

the point is that when a lot of people think of the philippines, they think of the tagalogs and pampanguenos in manila, and no more, which is a shame

manila is really alien to the rural non-tagalog speaking philippines, and visa versa. a lot of the political unrest is also centered on manila, like a giant soap opera that doesn't really help the rest of the philippines. go outside manila, and you find a lot more laid back people, and a stable country

places like leyte, bohol, cebu, surigao del norte: the eastern visayas. this is my haunting place

maybe next time i go (once a year or more) i'll write a travelogue like this, you've inspired me, thanks ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

yes (none / 1) (#36)
by oceanbourne on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 08:42:17 PM EST

Yes, I agree you should write a travel narrative about this place . . . you've nearly started such here already! Seriously, it sounds like a fascinating place: do tell us more.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
Excellente (none / 0) (#35)
by cibby on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 08:15:23 PM EST

Gripping and personal. You've inspired me to think about going there myself, although I'm not sure I'm in to the whole 'cold' thing.

What, no pictures? (none / 0) (#39)
by Mike the Kid on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 11:58:34 PM EST

I traveled to Sweden and Norway this summer. While I would say upfront that I didn't visit anywhere nearly as remote as you, there were lots of great pictures to be had. I seriously recommend setting up a phpGallery or something of that nature for them and including a link from this story. (And links to wikipedia with pictures don't count!)

photos (none / 0) (#40)
by oceanbourne on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 12:35:23 AM EST

I have a few of the Faroes on my photobuckets. I made a huge mistake in not taking my digital camera but instead my 35mm pro film camera and then didn't wanna lug it and its nine lenses all around with me. I too would ideally like photos here though. And I love photography: it's one of my hobbies but the camera was cumbersome, and when you travel by helicopter they are strict on weight down to pounds on your luggage, too so . . .
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
It's a wonderful world (none / 1) (#41)
by vqp on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 06:21:55 AM EST

Hey, how come that you and all your fancy friends can make these extravagant journeys observing how other interesting people live while I have-to-work-51-weeks-a-year-10-years-straight-only-to-buy-a-house-with-a-bank-l oan-and-thinking-I'm-lucky-because-none-of-my-coworkers-have-the-same-luck ?

I bet you are against globalization are you?.

happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

don't hate on the rocks I got . . . (none / 1) (#42)
by oceanbourne on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 11:25:56 AM EST

Don't get me wrong: I am not rich. Note that I complain about costs several times in the article. And do I say that I am a home-owner? No I am not, nor is that, or kids, or a lot of other things I could spend money on important to me. This is my part of the world and I decided to travel in it some. It wasn't a vacation in the Four Seasons with my Benz awaiting me at Logan when I got back state-side. It was something I wanted to do. Place your goals in the order that really matter to you.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
I was being sarcasting. A little. (none / 0) (#49)
by vqp on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 02:40:33 AM EST

I'm just making fun because I noticed the irony of the appearance of a new kind of people, mostly from Europe, traveling around the world getting to know other cultures, probably being symphatetic with the suffering of other human beings and very open to recognize and appreciate the cultural differences.

But meanwhile you are happily traveling or studying new fancy sciences abroad, your country leaders and citizens make wars (if you are USians), discriminate people inside and outside, make policies to protect the "status quo" of the world (is not all happiness outside, I must tell you), and preach a curious form of capistalism by raising or maintaining tariffs on farm products: world scale dumping.

happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

[ Parent ]
hmmm (none / 0) (#50)
by oceanbourne on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 03:29:38 AM EST

Hmmm, I don't know. Where, if I may ask, are you from or do you live?

I do travel a lot. I have spent a lot of time in college and grad school. I realise these are situations that not everyone can afford, yet I am doing things towards a betterment of more than just myself. I am not trying to make a fortune and buy a second home (or even a first) and a fancy car. I ride my bike most places when I can. In general, though I work in a political environment I am not concerned with politics but with policy at its most engineered and functional levels. I want people to have clean air, clean water, good highways . . . so in your forum and scope, I don't know where that leaves me?
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]

No kids? I don't envy you. (none / 0) (#56)
by firefox on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:29:18 PM EST

You made a choice to enjoy your life rather than reproduce(maybe you'll get to it eventually, but probably 2 kids max, either way you and your brethren are below sustainable reproductive levels), while the guy complaining about your lifestyle(being in the 3rd world he claims) probably has(or will have) many kids. You have to make sacrifice if you want to forward your genes to the future, many europeans these days would rather be "enlightened" and life an easier life than work hard and raise a healthy number of kids, and they even rationalize it through some "humans are evil" pseudo-environmentalism, truth is they are selfish and want to live only for their own enjoyment.

Groups living in difficult conditions will continue to evolve towards greater reproduction rates, while the relaxed europeans will be replaced like the previous inhabitants of asia were(the dark skinned aboriginals of australia, new guinea and sri lanka used to be the sole inhabitants of most of southern asia, but they've been replaced by the more reproductive modern asiatics, and are now a nearly extinct root ethnic group/race).

The truth is, I just don't want human genetic diversity to decline via nihilistic euros dying off and being replaced by asian and middle eastern colonization. Fuck anybody who calls that racist, they're just brainwashed by, or are, members of expansionist tribes. Holocaust fear is no excuse to abandon your related tribemates and embrace "equality" of all, at least not while the immigrants remain in tribal warfare mode and take advantage.

Sorry, just in a bad mood right now, the world sucks sometimes. And I can see that I wasn't 100% coherent, but I won't excuse somebody not getting my meaning, the base idea I forward is simple enough.

[ Parent ]
I doubt it... (none / 0) (#58)
by skim123 on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:08:36 PM EST

You made a choice to enjoy your life rather than reproduce(maybe you'll get to it eventually, but probably 2 kids max, either way you and your brethren are below sustainable reproductive levels)

Seeing as our humble narrator likes men, I highly doubt it.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
As much as that makes me look foolish.. (none / 0) (#60)
by firefox on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:26:21 PM EST

It does help further my point ;)

[ Parent ]
Not really (none / 1) (#64)
by Have A Nice Day on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 07:45:07 AM EST

Unless you consider being gay a choice....

OTOH I agree with some of what youu said - us europeans do seem to prefer enlightenment and self fulfillment over reproduction. We've broken the old shackles (by which I mean social expectations) of "settle down, have a family, worship god and obey your country", which leaves us able to actually think what we want rather than just following blindly what society demands of us.

I personally don't much care if the so called european 'race' dies out, why should it not, what can there possibly be that trumps the desires of the individual? Oh sure, there's economic arguments, but they always seem to take for granted the responsibility of the individual to support society by working and producing more workers, not very free IMHO.

And yes, I also buy into the idea that less humans would be good, and I don't really give much of a stuff if the human race itself dies out at some point in the future.

Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
Travels: Ideas over pragmatism... hello Maslow? (none / 0) (#66)
by DaoDePhys on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 10:38:34 AM EST

"settle down, have a family, worship god and obey your country" ?

Well there are some costs to not settle down, not have a family, not puting as much energy in universal matter (but not obeying blindly... hopefully), not puting energy as much into the community. I'm sorry that it got institutionalized in the past, but we get the costs now.

One of them being some acting as if they were to the top of the Maslow pyramid when they are crippling the supporting infrastructure for upper fancy needs. There is a price to letting oneself puting priorities on advanced freedoms when the basic ones aren't assured: the freedom to live (survival, etc.) over the ones to whattever individualism. Like the stockmarket, it is a matter of correct evaluation... and sometimes it gets too hyped.

So about his travels: wether the administration department agrees with him or not, it's quite interesting... hope it brought some to be more advanced than they were, rather than just curiosity burning. I appreciated some parts, and he shows well the spirit of a time, going somewhere because it's rarely seen as for individual appreciation.

Don't get me wrong: I can say this while I'm of the travelling breed trying to save his world piece Greek-style by "colonizing" far-away lands, eating ideas and drinking wine. Get me right though: I'm a long shot from Hedonist, some wondering why I don't have certain things I could have by clapping hands (cell number you ask?? I'd say a bunch of millions, why?).

firefox: You have ideas I'd like to debate with and against, so send me a email if you wish (slimfast33@fastmail.fm). I'm searching a catalyst in such area, and do trade info :p

[ Parent ]

now (none / 0) (#67)
by oceanbourne on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 02:10:26 PM EST

Instead of being all "according to my calculations, Maslow suggested the theory that" about it, I am rather more like: it's my money, it's my life, if I want to see far-flung islands what's the problem?

To me, it's all that simple. I wanted to do something and was able to do it. To judge otherwise on anyones account seems to speak of envy of some stripe. The person who brought forth the comment about how I was able to do this had that comment rooted in a lack of vacation time and perhaps money in his own career. We spend a great portion of our lives at work so I say find something you love doing and do it in the best environment possible. Then, do YOUR best at it.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]

Well I for one agree with you (none / 0) (#68)
by Have A Nice Day on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 02:25:54 PM EST

your time, your money. Great write up too by the way. Maybe when I get my employment situation sorted and a trip to somewhere interesting (most likely Peru) sorted out, I'll have a go at writing something similar. I don't think I have your poetic style though :)

Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
But what about your duty to procreate? (none / 0) (#74)
by slashcart on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 07:55:40 PM EST

Seriously, though, society has no purpose whatsoever except satisfying the needs of the people who constitute it. A society belongs to its people, not vice-versa.

I find this "duty to procreate" nonsense especially strange when it comes from Americans. After all, the US is nominally a capitalist country, and the very fundament of capitalism is that money exists to satisfy the wants or values of those who have it.

[ Parent ]

because . . . (none / 0) (#76)
by oceanbourne on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 08:36:52 PM EST

I think with Americans it's a duty to conform and be like every other little American family and want the same things as them. If everyone was like me, mass advertising would totally fail because I don't watch TV or read mainstream magazines much really.

The whole retail system would be confounded: I am very into clothing, for instance (hey, I'm gay after all!) but I don't look at ads . . . I look at what my friends wear and if I see something I like I will probably find out via the internet what other stuff the same company makes. A prime-time telly ad or magazine spread would not affect me but my friends certainly can.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]

kinda agree (none / 0) (#81)
by DaoDePhys on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 09:36:05 AM EST

"it's my money, it's my life, if I want to see far-flung islands what's the problem?"

No problem, if and only if you do what you believe in and do not include only yourself into this. My PERSONAL belief is that by not giving some things to simply not diminish society from what it is (that is, leech it), I need to get an output.

You seem to say I envy you... I don't have a single reason to envy you. I have everything I wish and want (except perhaps ruling over my own self, which is quite a quest).

"I say find something you love doing and do it in the best environment possible. Then, do YOUR best at it."

I certainly will joker grin And I'll be happy to see some of the others with different views do the same for their fellow humans.

PS: Was my other post eaten by the system or something? I was more complete :(

[ Parent ]

I'm glad that you make yourself happy... (none / 0) (#80)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 09:28:00 AM EST

...and am fine with your not wanting to needlessly contribute back to society.

Please do the rest of us one favor though. You'll inevitably get old and need assistance for various things. This will create a problem since you'll have no family to look after you. So instead of forcing society to pay for your sorry ass, just off yourself when the time comes.

I pay enough taxes as it is, and don't feel that society has a need to support you, since you could give two shits about society.

[ Parent ]

huh? (none / 0) (#82)
by oceanbourne on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 11:20:44 AM EST

Where did I say I don't contribute and/or wish to contribute to society? I pay taxes, I donate time and money to charity, and I am involved in making the world a better place. All I said is, I don't desire to have kids. Straight or gay, there are plenty of people who don't want kids. Why is that such a big deal?
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
Re: I doubt it... (none / 0) (#73)
by slashcart on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 07:34:23 PM EST

Seeing as our humble narrator likes men, I highly doubt it.
But we're talking about duty here, so it doesn't matter who he likes. After all, duty isn't about doing whatever (or whomever) you like. Quite the contrary: duty is about doing things (or people) you don't like. So he must do the following: find a woman of childbearing age, close his eyes, imagine Brad Pitt or Mark Wahlberg or someone, then stick it in. Otherwise, the race will perish.

No more Anders for him! Greater issues are at stake. He and Anders together make two Nordics who refuse to have children.

Seriously, though, it always strikes me as strange that male homosexuals could be blamed for population decreases. Because it seems like the bottleneck for having babies is women. After all, it takes only a very small number of heterosexual males to impregnate a large number of women. (I should remind women here that it's their duty to become pregnant as often as possible).

Semen is not in short supply. Just the opposite--young men produce a childbearing dose every 2-3 days. In fact, a single man could father an entire village (just ask Genghis Khan). The only things society needs men for, are care and financial support. But gay men are often looking for the opportunity to adopt children, so if we just let them, and support artificial insemination, then the traditionalists' complaints ("the race will die out!") are resolved.

[ Parent ]

babies! (none / 0) (#75)
by oceanbourne on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 08:30:09 PM EST

I need babies like I need a hole in my head. Anyone needs babies like they need a hole in their heads!!! What place on earth do you know of (except Grønland and Svalbard of course) that actually needs more ppl instead of less?!
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
Haha, you must be USian (none / 0) (#43)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:07:15 PM EST

If not then from some other place where they have the work/life balance totally wrong.

I won't work for anywhere that allows me less than five weeks off per year.

Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
Nope, third world -nt (none / 0) (#48)
by vqp on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 02:26:42 AM EST

happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

[ Parent ]
I remember a story about a girl living in France (none / 1) (#44)
by tetsuwan on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 05:22:49 PM EST

she would paint the houses red with white corners. The teachers scolded her: "There are no such houses! Why would you paint a house red, stupid kid?"

Need I say that the teachers were quite ignorant - northern Europe is filled by red houses with white corners. It's as constant as the blue sky and the dark, green forest.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

yeah (none / 0) (#51)
by oceanbourne on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 03:45:51 AM EST

At least she didn't paint anything that lurid pea green I saw up there!
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
Way too wordy (3.00 / 3) (#45)
by hershmire on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 05:54:52 PM EST

I like the unique premise and your perspective, but you need to cut tons from this story. You don't even get on the boat until 1,000 words into it. That's 20% of the article spent justifying your choice of where to go! And that 20% is not direct, including lots of meaningless asides and meandering so much the reader is surprised when you actually start the journey.

Always keep in mind: every word should have a purpose, and your second draft = first draft - 10%.

Good story after the slow start, though.
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
wordy? (none / 1) (#46)
by oceanbourne on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 06:54:27 PM EST

I mostly disagree with that. I come from the old-school of travel writing and lit in general: Austen, Hemingway, Conrad, London . . . people who made literature with a large "L".

I am not claiming my story is perfect by far, but I hate stuff that is short enough to read in five minutes. I want something I can escape into.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]

By all means, (none / 1) (#47)
by hershmire on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 07:59:00 PM EST

Have lots of words, but make them do something. "Kill your darlings," as Stephen King says; that is, be brutal in cutting down your own text. Always know you have written too much the first time 'round.

I'm right now reading Heart of Darkness by Conrad, which says volumes in a scant 72 pages.
Brevity is key. To wit:
It has just passed that the man transgressed the threshold of the chamber, thereby alerting me to his presense.
I saw him enter the room now.
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
oh do shut up (2.66 / 3) (#53)
by circletimessquare on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 02:31:38 PM EST

brevity has its place, but it's not here

there are many goals and standards you can have in writing something, and they are not universal

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Hah (none / 0) (#63)
by hershmire on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 09:30:28 PM EST

Merely an opinion, circ. The author is free to ignore it.
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
here's an opinion: (none / 1) (#65)
by circletimessquare on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 03:15:08 AM EST

you're a self-important prick

feel free to ignore it

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

"brevity"? (none / 0) (#71)
by xmnemonic on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 05:08:37 PM EST

"Brevity" differs from "clarity."  As the purpose of language is to convey thoughts, I would think that trimming needless words is a universal goal.   Keep the imagery and the heart of each sentence, but drop the fluff.  Conciseness doesn't require a list of Wikipedia-like bullet point sentences.  It only means giving every word the punch that helps stimulate what ever the author is trying to say.

[ Parent ]
detail (none / 0) (#72)
by oceanbourne on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 05:44:48 PM EST

Now all that in theory I agree with, but I am so tired of newspaper and magazine articles--or even books--that tell far too little. That lack detail. I want detail. I want pyramids full of detail. I want pithy writing . . .
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
you're a dumbass (none / 1) (#52)
by klem on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 01:35:29 PM EST

i thought the article was worth its length, kind of like War and Peace.

[ Parent ]
Well done! (none / 1) (#62)
by hershmire on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 09:28:41 PM EST

Short, cogent, to the point. You're hired!
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
Yes, and too many dashes (none / 0) (#69)
by xmnemonic on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 04:50:37 PM EST

I'm guessing he's trying to feign style with punctuation.  I think I counted over 30 dashes in the entire piece.  It's not just excessive but also pretentious; he doesn't know how to use words to write, so he tries out the "--" business to make up for it.

[ Parent ]
as if (none / 0) (#70)
by oceanbourne on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 04:57:57 PM EST

I don't know how many things you've had published but considering I have everything from poetry to law reviews on paper already in several languages, I doubt you can front. It's my style, in some regards it could be better but plenty of people have no objections. You need to check your head.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
Your trip was pretty gay. (none / 1) (#54)
by Harvey Anderson on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 03:11:22 PM EST

heh (none / 1) (#55)
by oceanbourne on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:40:38 PM EST

not gay enough . . .
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]
Wales (none / 1) (#57)
by jd on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:57:21 PM EST

Having spent a few years drinking - oops, studying - at the University of Glamorgan in the Rhonda Valley in Wales, I would like to offer another thought on why the Welsh lady remarked on the colours.

The Welsh generally don't have many. The buildings are grey, with grey slate slate roofing. The Brecon Beacons have the occasional white building and I even saw the occasional pub sign in red. The lecturers at the University were comparable, with grey clothes, white hair and flame-red temperments.

London is actually worse. I'd swear the colour schemes of London were designed by a Horseshoe Crab. Except for the palace, which was clearly designed by someone on LSD. In other words, it is absolutely no wonder that someone who had lived in such drab, dreary places expressed astonishment that people had discovered paint, elsewhere on the planet.

Although Lourie's (in)famous paintings of matchstick men and dogs were of Manchester, the brickwork of London and much of Wales is much the same. Functional, in an asteroid-proof sort of way, but definitely not to the eyes.

Much of Europe has much better sense of colour. Unfortunately, they also have a much better 3D photocopier, as the buildings are nearly identical. Imagination Central it isn't.

From what I know of the Scandanavian countries, they have a good range of architecture and colour schemes. The Prince of Wales should move there, he might get along better with folk there than he does in England.

(A pity, in my opinion. He may have the diplomatic skills of a wild boar and the vocal expression of a wild bore, but his slamming of modern architecture - "monsterous carbuncle" being the words used to describe one building - did have a lot of merit.)

One day, I hope to visit some of the far-flung outposts of the world. Hey, some of the remoter islands of the Orkneys that I've been to are pretty damn empty, but they're virtually next-door compared to some of the places in the article, and South Island New Zealand (which is staggeringly awesome, incidently) is practically urban.

cool (none / 0) (#61)
by oceanbourne on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 09:02:29 PM EST

That is simply poetic. I love what I have seen of Wales, and I love their language, but you are right about the lack of colour there.

Your comments on Prince Charles: I have always felt pity for the man because he's apparently very educated and he has traditional views which I would rather expect for a man his age and being a prince. I feel he's good for England: young Britons need to appreciate their history and culture more because damn: it's a good bit all they have, you know? The UK has a rich culture that's known the world over.

The Orkneys are beautiful, more so than Grønland and Svalbard overall. I would really suggest them and the Shetlands and Faroes over a trip further north, all in all.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]

hey nordic dude (and any other euro music-philes) (none / 0) (#77)
by circletimessquare on Mon Nov 14, 2005 at 09:29:17 AM EST

in my adventures in music piracy i've travelled rather afar of my american pop base (i start with what i like, download that, then download whatever other music the person who has music i like has... find what of that selection i like, then rinse, and repeat, until you are very far away from where you started)

right now i'm really into japanese pop like ayumi hamasaki as remixed by euro djs like ferry corsten, i can't understand anything, but i like it

anyway, here's some shit i found i was curious about:

dina- fri meg nå

what is that, danish? who the hell is she and what the fuck is she saying?

e nomine- das testament

german, right? what the fuck is their story?

as for the music you listen to:

i totally dig that loreena mckennitt, that's some good new agey enya type shit

rammstein- what the fuck? isn't that just loud dumb racist german neonazi shit? scorpions they ain't

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

shakes head (none / 0) (#78)
by oceanbourne on Mon Nov 14, 2005 at 02:01:18 PM EST

Rammstein is not racist in any regard. If you listen to them or even read their Wikipedia entry that will be very apparent. While the band doesn't get into politics very much, when they do, they have a leftist approach that is the opposite of fascism.

Why do people assume they are racist? Because they are loud, happen to be white, and sing in German? Should they sing in English or some other language just because they come from Germany? You know, were they French or Spanish or Czech no one would call them racist because none of their songs are racist: they have only been called this because they are German and sing in their native language and happen to be loud.
It's like that: Oceanbourne
[ Parent ]

sorry dude (none / 0) (#79)
by circletimessquare on Mon Nov 14, 2005 at 04:34:42 PM EST

that's just something i heard, i plead ignorance about them before i even opened my mouth about them, consider my opinion reshuffled ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Great story!! (none / 0) (#83)
by hefa on Wed Nov 23, 2005 at 09:41:08 AM EST

Well, the rest of the people here are, as usual, behaving like the general jerks they are, but I for one think this was the best stories posted on this site since I joined! I hope you post more of your travel adventures, here or elsewhere (please supply a url in that case). Thanks.

iphone (none / 0) (#84)
by Jackson123r on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 12:54:39 PM EST

I love the new iphone because it has cool things that it never has before in its daily life a wireless internet connection modulator


My North of the Desolate Sea: Travels in Eastern Greenland and Svalbard | 84 comments (68 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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