It’s Prague Gypsy week

Or to be far more accurate, World Roma Festival. This is the same week Lidové Noviny had a notice that the recently published book Psychologie Romů (The Roma psychology), which among other things claims that Roma have smaller brains than non-Roma, is under police investigation for racism. And Týden in an article on Czech likes and dislikes (for inexplicable reasons illustrated with two semi-nude girls) quoted a 2001 STEM poll
“Who would you consider as problem free neighbours?” with the following results:
Slovaks: 90%
French: 71%
Americans: 64%
Jews: 57%
Czechs*: 48%
Germans: 48%
Russians: 22%
Vietnamese: 15%
Roma: 9%
Big city Czech were more neighbourly, while communists were more hostile.
* The Czechs weren’t Czechs in general, but from re-immigrants from the Czech minority in Ukraine, and seemingly just as bad as Germans and five times as likely to be troublesome as Slovaks, the Czechs’ favourite neighbours.



Jeg har gleden av å invitere til det første årlige bokbål i Oslo førstkommende lørdag 29. mai. Selv om bokbål har røtter helt tilbake til bokbålet i Alexandria og enda tidligere, har denne erverdige tradisjonen ligget brakk de siste årene. Det er de som ser en fare i denne unnfallenheten, og likner bokbål med påsatte branner i skogbrannutsatte områder; ved å ha små kontrollerte bokbranner nå kan vi forebygge de store destruktive bokbrannene i fremtiden. Bokbål kan dermed ses på som god bokrøkt. Uansett er det god, sunn moro.
Teknikken skulle være kjent. Det er det samme prinsippet som for leirbål, bare at du steker bøker i stedet for pølser. Når du føler lysten komme over deg tar du en bok og slenger den på bålet, gjerne med en fyndig begrunnelse. Siste tilgjengelige eksemplarer eller originalmanus gir ekstra karma. Tidskrifter, tegneserier, grafikk er også OK. Malerier, CD-er og annet plast/giftmateriale er frarådet, men det kan være tilfeller som oppveier for risikoen for lungeskader.

Tid og sted: 17:00 i Middelalderparken i Gamlebyen. Ta med lesestoff, leskestoff, og en venn hvis du har.

Synopsis in English: The readers of this journal are invited to a literary picnic in Oslo this weekend where you are encouraged to bring your own books.

Live and texting at the end of the line

This entry keeps me awake on the Czech-Polish boreder. It is past midnight and still one and a half hour to wait. Bohumin might be a nice town for all I know, but at this hour I wish I wasn’t here. That is the odd thing about train travel, it insists on marooning you at times and places you don’t want to be. I would fondly forget Frankly am Awful, Tonabrick,

Frustracia, Catatonia, Maimed, as well as the wrong station in Berlin (no, there is no other). At least in this place you can stay inside at the station, electrical outlets and all, the night is warm and dry. Electrical hums, screeches and clanks from one side of the curtains, quadraphonic snoring from the other.


On WAP and Web: A matter of weight

One common statement from the WAP advocates (who, like the World War I veterans, are getting fewer by the year) is that WML is a more compact language than (X)HTML. Not so. It is a simpler language, you don’t need an as advanced browser to handle it, but the WML source is actually more bloated than HTML precisely because it is a simpler language. Since WML 1 doesn’t even have the headline elements (‘h1’ to ‘h6’), you can’t use code like <h2>A subhead</h2>, you have to do something like <big><big><b>A subhead</b></big></big>. Not only do you lose the useful information that “A subhead” is a headline, you need more markup to say less.


Circus Českomoravska

The venue for all this hokej was the recently built Sazka Arena in Vysočany, naturally the target for the daily pilgrimage. I had an additional reason for a visit. After the revolution but before the normalization I used to live there. In fact it was the first flat I had of my own, a penthouse pad with a great view over the humongous ČKD industrial complexes just across the street. I even tried to buy it with my pocket money; Vysočany was unpopular and no-cost real estate, primarily for being the most polluted area in Prague, which truly was saying something at that time.

But all things heavy industrial must pass, and so would the low grade coal that gave winter its distinct colour and aroma. The Metro was coming through and would shorten a half hour tram ride to the center down to ten minutes. My lack of Czechness and drive to circumnavigate the city bureaucracy left me homeless, but the location made great sense for a sports arena. The half-fallow land is still cheap and the Metro can push people through like no other transport system could, and does on a daily basis.


All Hokej in Prague

The Czech Republic might join the Union tomorrow, but that is completely overshadowed by The Event, the 2004 Ice Hockey World Championship. I have never yet attended a hokej match, not that I could possibly afford a ticket for this event, and am quite uneducated on the particulars of this sport. I am fascinated by the hokej utensils, like the blood scoop they use to scrape the blood off the ice.

Once upon a time the Prague beer hall U Fleků, with its own brand of dark beer, was a recommended visit. Now it is a rather garish theatre set for the Czech impression of the German impression of what a Czech beer hall is all about. So with its big projection screen it was the ideal venue for the match between the historical enemies Sweden and Russia. As the gathered Swiss eagerly demonstrated, Switzerland was not a neutral country in this conflict at all. My table, a Swede and two Russians, was a quiet eddy in the maelstrom of schweinhund chanting, beer guzzling, loudly cheerful hokej fans. The Czech waiters quietly watched in the background. This country may have been invaded by the Swedes in the 17th century and by the Russians in the 20th, but this is hokej, what matters is not the points scored in the past, but where the threats are to the Czech hegemony as the finals approach.



It is odd to name a continent after a rape victim, even when you consider all the brutality four millennia of European history can muster. More prosaic sources might separate the name’s real root from the myth of Zeus and Europa, but the Phoenician origin of Europa reflects the impact that seafaring culture has had on the continent. Different tellings disagree on whether the girl was bullied or eloping, but what matters for posterity is that she left behind the two dominant continents at that time, Africa and Asia, to mother the Minoan dynasty at her new home in Crete.