January 31, 2008

Rate your blog

Thanks to 3-speed for a link to this site that will rate your blog. Long Burn is rated PG-- some material may not be suitable for children.

The rating is based on two words, 'gun' which appears once (in a blog about how day-care workers and teachers do not understand boy's play) and 'pain' which appears ten times, in a blog about my teeth. My teeth still hurt, thanks for asking, and now the ear on that side of my face is ringing. What does it mean, who is calling and should I pick up?

January 28, 2008


Spock mind-melds with the rock beast. Pain, Pain! he cries.

Pain, Pain! I thought. I moaned inside and tried to use what little mind control I have to go to sleep. Very limited success. Tried everything-- lots and lots of aspirin, no effect. Whiskey mouthwash; relieved pain for 5 minutes and then caused bolting, shooting pain. Got up, went to work and the pain in my jaw got even worse. Could not work. Was able to get a time at the 'Folktandvården' (The People's Tooth Care) the same day and this guy tried everything to figure out 'the root cause'. Finally he applied some icey cold stuff that caused me to kick violently by reflex. Long story short: Root Canal, the dentist's lobotomy.

But the strange thing is how quickly the body forgets. In at work this morning the pain brought tears to my eyes, but then during the train ride home it went away and I started doubting myself. Had I been looking for a way to get away from my job, an easy out, had my mind's eye exaggerated in order to avoid giving a seminar today? Its amazing to see that I have so little empathy for myself, so little solidarity with someone who has only gone home sick twice (counting today) in ten years. Need to train this empathy muscle. AND, I have never been so happy to get a shot of novicaine in my life. Instant relief.

January 26, 2008

No Motto Please, We're British

The government of Gordon Brown has announced a plan to burnish British pride by creating a statement of values, perhaps something like to the French liberté, égalité, fraternité. The Times of London sponsored a motto-writing contest. Entries included:

Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco

Once Mighty Empire Slightly Used

At Least We're Not French

We Apologize for the Inconvenience

...and the winner of the contest was,

No Motto Please, We're British

In the House of Lords debate Earl Ferrers suggested the motto of the House of Lords itself:

Questions and Answers Ought to be Short

January 25, 2008

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

Critics (e.g. of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change) say that a carbon tax of a few percent would be an economic catastrophe. Let's examine the recent past. In January 2002 the price of crude oil was $20 a barrel. Recently oil sold for $100 a barrel, an increase of 400% over five years, yet the economy has survived. More than that, the gross world product has grown by 35%, from $49 trillion in 2002 to an estimated $66 trillion in 2007. Therefore a strategic question. Is it better for you to give money to the Saudi royal family or to invest it in local infrastructure, through taxes, in the form of say public transportation and energy efficient buildings?

January 23, 2008


This weather forecast shows what it is like to live downwind of the Gulf Stream. Wind of 15 m/s is 34 mph.

January 20, 2008

All I want to do, ever, is play chess.

The New York Times published an obituary for chessplayer Bobby Fischer who died on January 17. At age 13 Fischer sacrificed his queen in 'The Game of the Century' to beat Donald Byrne, one of the top players in the U.S. at the time. He went on to win 8 (of 8 entered) of the 10 US championships held starting in 1958, and in 1972, in Rejkjavik Iceland, he beat Boris Spassky and the Soviet lock on the international championship. Fischer said, 'I don't believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.'

I blogged about Bobby's exile from the U.S. and his new refuge in Iceland a while back. Here is Bobby's own website, worth a visit. Off the board Bobby as mad at everyone, like the international Jewish conspiracy, the Union Bank of Switzerland, the Seiko watch company and the Pasadena Police.

All I need are some tasty waves.

I understand that I misused the word bogus and that even during the cultural apex of the early to mid-80s, bogus did not become a term of praise. But really, is there ever a bad time to reminisce about Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli?

January 17, 2008

European Commission Language Agreement

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w"with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru. Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

January 13, 2008

Random notes from 20th Knut.

The Swedish saying goes, 'On 20th Knut, dances the Yule out' ('out' rhymes with 'Knut' in Swedish.) The tradition is to throw out the tree, decorations and so on 20 days after Christmas, and in the traditional calendar this is Saint Knut's day. The kids helped. They didn't just throw the tree out, they threw it out and then beat the needles off it with sticks. It's a tough line of work being a Christmas tree in Sweden. The kids ate some of the shingles off the gingerbread house and then that got smashed too.

I bit into a candycane, tree plunder, and became aware that my enthusiastic mastication had dislodged a good chunk of molar, leaving a sharp edge on the tongue side. The conscious effort of keeping my tongue still wore me out and I biked to the store and bought a packet of parrafin canning wax. I warmed up a pinch of the wax between tooth and gum and shaped it into a nice little cap which will have to hold me through until I can get a time at the dentist.

After watching the kids beat the tree with sticks (I am sure we are the only ones in Sweden who do that) I scrubbed my way to the bottom of the kitchen and made dinner.

Potato planks, variation on B. Crocker.

Wash spuds, slice into chunks, spread out on baking sheet and paint with olive oil. Sprinkle with half of your supply of the secret spice mix: a teaspoon each of salt, pepper, mustard, paprika and sugar. Bake at 200 C/400 F for 15 or 20 minutes. Pull out sheet, flip spuds, re-paint and sprinkle with remaining spice. Pop back into oven for another 15 or 20 minutes, until golden brown. Shift from bake to broil as needed.

Pappa Burgers.

Pappa Burgers are always a hit. When my wife makes them they are called Mamma Burgers, but those aren't quite as good. The story of the Pappa burger begins with the Wallenberg family, rich Swedish aristocrats. The Wallenberg butler invented a midnight snack for the family: The Wallenberger. My contribution to the recipe is to change the name since I don't have a butler.

Blend the following ingredients into a pink froth: Hamburger, couple of eggs, liberal dousing of cream, salt, pepper, bread crumbs. Form into patties and cover with bread crumbs. Fry in oil in iron skillet.

Pappa burgers are surprisingly healthy-- full of protein and oil giving the coveted Long Burn, plus the choline from the eggs is good for your brain, and milk fat has been shown to prevent cancer. Serve with low-sugar ketchup.

Genderism vs. Individualism, Part 2.

I recently posted a translation of a debate article entitled, 'Men Oppressed by State-Sponsored Feminism.'

The newspaper that came from has now published a reply, 'There is a widespread phobia against feminism among Swedish men' written by Inti Chavez Perez (male, editor of Macho and Pride magazine).

The author of the original piece, Pär Ström, has written a rebuttal to the reply. See comments for both.

January 08, 2008

Bogus snow tongues

Biking home from the station yesterday. Wind-driven freezing rain and slushballs, inch and a half of slush, uphill, after a full day of teaching. Days like this make me proud to be a Minnesotan, and glad for good equipment-- insulating rain pants, rain jacket with down lining, studded front tire. There were some bogus snow tongues.

January 04, 2008

Swedish Proverbs

Do not judge all you see, do not believe all you hear, do not do all you can, do not say all you know, do not eat all you have, and let no one know what you have in your heart or in your wallet.

All are not men that wear trousers.
Serious and pleasure thrive together.
Big legal processes make well dressed lawyers and naked parties.
Alder fences don't last more than a year.
Not all who fold their hands pray.
Old men carry the almanac in their bones.
Empty barrels make the most noise.
Eyes that do not cry do not see.
He who cannot keep silence cannot speak.
The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.
Thou hast a head and so hath a pin.
Better to flee than fence poorly.
Once is nothing, twice is a habit.
The ugliest fish swim in the most shallow waters.
No cow on the ice ('no trouble').
Lick upwards, kick downwards.
Don't sell the fur until the bear has been shot.
Lay first, then cackle.

January 03, 2008

Personal distances 2007

Distances I traveled in 2007:

Train: 28,600 km / 17,900 miles
Plane: 17,500 km / 11,000 miles
Car: 7740 km / 4840 miles
Bike: 3520 km / 2200 miles

The total is once around the earth plus a little. My goal for 2008 is to bike farther than I drive.

Men oppressed by state-sponsored feminism

NOTE: I live in Sweden, and I thought some of you who don't would find this newspaper article interesting, for one thing because it gives a glimpse of the state of affairs here. Errors in translation are my own. I would like to see a post-sexist, post-racial, post-modern world.

Men are oppressed by state-sponsored feminism
by Pär Ström
2 Jan 2007, Swedish Daily

Lede: Humanism would be better. There is a widespread but hushed oppression of men in Sweden. Men find themselves beneath women in many areas. State-financed feminism pretends to fight for equality but its real goal is to reap rewards for its own group, asserts author Pär Ström who thinks that feminism should be replaced by humanism.

It was in the paper this week, Ove was abused by his girlfriend. But he wasn't believed, despite pictures and a medical report, and the investigation of abuse was closed.

Ove is sure that the reason that society let him down was his sex. It is one example of the widespread but hushed oppression of men in Sweden.

The inferior position that women have relative to men is very well documented through feminisms (largely state-financed) lobby. Mens' inferior position is most often left alone in silence.

According to feminist rhetoric, which remarkably is accepted as truth by a majority of the media and the political elite in Sweden, men are a collection of lazy and egotistical bullies who drink, hit their wives and conspire in the sauna about how best to oppress women.

On the other hand a halo floats over the heads of women like a sun.

This distorted picture is strengthened by research reports that strikingly often are twisted, prepared by dedicated feminists who already from the start have determined what they want to get across. The media is happy to telegraph onwards the feminist propaganda.

The reality is that men find themselves beneath women in many areas. Women live five years longer, which is not seen to be a problem to equality (but if the reverse had been true it would have been seen as an enormous injustice that must be corrected by investments in women in hospital care and medical research).

Women are checked regularly with mammography to detect breast cancer early, but men are not checked in a similar way for prostate cancer, even though the male form of cancer harvests 62% more victims than the female.


In custody battles women have a powerful advantage. 95% of all sole-custody decisions are in the woman's favor. The law discriminates against fathers. Women can win custody disputes by throwing out false accusations of assault.

More and more men say how they have been passed by for jobs in favor of less qualified women because the employer would like to improve their gender statistics.

Most violent crimes victimize men, but the whole civil debate turns around violence against women. Male criminals get heavier punishments than female for the same crime.


An unpleasant chapter in the sexual war that the feminists have started is the continual insulting of men. For example middle aged men can be called 'old man-like/old bastard-like' while it would be unthinkable to call a middle-aged woman 'old lady-like'.

This year's Nobel Prize-winner in literature Doris Lessing said the following about the phenomenon:

'I am more and more shocked by the thoughtless degradation of men that has become a so widespread part of our culture that we almost don't notice it anymore. The most stupid, ignorant and horrible women can insult the most warm-hearted, kind and intelligent men without anyone doing anything. Men seem to be so oppressed that they do not defend themselves.'

Sure women find themselves oppressed in some areas, feminists are right about that. But they deny the other half of reality.

Feminism pretends to fight for equality but in reality it only seeks to obtain privileges for its own group.

The Feminst Initiative (a short-lived Swedish political party) revealed itself in its party platform from last year: 'The political development of society must arise from women's conditions.'

True equality can only be achieved through gender-neutrality in the gender debate, where both sexes specific difficulties are given the same recognition.

We are all human and there is much more that unites us across the sexual boundary than divides us.

Replace feminism with humanism!

January 02, 2008

Old Man Earth


I'm fine with the exercise of removing gender bias from the language. Like it's OK to refer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a she. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and so I would like a global ban on the term 'Mother Earth'. The new PC term is going to be 'Father Earth' or informally, 'Old Man Earth'.

Why should the Earth be a man?
-It balances the female moon.
-I like the ring of 'deep male ecology'.
-Trees are men, tall, strong and silent.
-How could the lithosphere be anything but male? Listen to words like Granite and Basalt, Shale and Feldspar. The original vulcans were male.
-Don't piss off old man earth! He is likely to send a mudslide your way.

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