March 30, 2006
Sunset (on Amager) Boulevard
Posted by daen at 06:17 PM
Lost and found
Some kindhearted anonymous person found my wallet and handed it over to Arriva's lost property office last week. If that person is reading this, I would like to offer you a small reward for your honesty. Email lostwallet at daen dot dk and describe some distinguishing feature of the wallet to claim the reward and receive my thanks - you saved me some expense and a lot of hassle and legwork by returning it!
Posted by daen at 04:50 PM
March 29, 2006
Nybrogade, looking North West
Posted by daen at 11:15 PM
Partial eclipse starts at 11:56
The Danish Met Institute's (DMI) webpage on tomorrow's (actually, today's) eclipse has a great animated GIF of the path of totality across central Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe, and central Asia. It starts at 11:56 in Denmark, reaches maximum solar coverage of 27% at 12:51 and will be over by 13:45. The webpage is in Danish, but the GIF is universally understandable.
Update at 18:11 - There was cloud in Denmark. Thick, thick cloud. So much for THAT astronomical experience ... The next eclipse visible from Denmark is on 1st August 2008 and it's another partial one.
Posted by daen at 01:57 AM
March 28, 2006
It would not be an understatement to say that Uffe Christoffersen is fond of painting tigers. Very fond of painting tigers.
I'm blogging about him because he's cropped up recently on three separate occasions.
First, J and I went to the Danish Artist's Association exhibition in December last year (CORNER 2006) at the Charlottenborg exhibition hall. Christoffersen had a number of his "tiger" series on show there. One tickled me especially:
The caption (very hard to read in the painting) reads:
Et æsel i tigerskind skaber panik. Men når en ørestump viser sig, bliver der tigerjagten på møllen.
A rough translation is:
A donkey in a tiger skin causes panic. But when an ear peeks out, the tiger hunt is over.
Secondly, someone we know told us last weekend that they were buying a Christoffersen painting.
And finally, the painting below ("The Tiger") showed up in our office yesterday as part of our rotating (and loaned) art collection!
Posted by daen at 07:11 PM
March 27, 2006
Andrew Orlowski, Nature, Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica
Journalist Andrew Orlowski writes articles for The Register. Orlowski, for reasons which are obscure, is not a big fan of Wikipedia. My view is that it's a useful tool, used in moderation (or rather, it requires moderation to be useful).
In December 2005, Nature published the results of a study comparing, via a blind trial, 50 selected subjects from the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Reviewers were not told which source the subjects had come from. Wikipedia ended up with 162 errors, Encyclopaedia Britannica 123, a 31% higher error rate for Wikipedia over Encyclopaedia Britannica.
You should obviously approach Wikipedia with caution, that much is evident. It's still a useful reference tool, though. The take in Orlowski's parallel universe was that:
"The McDonalds-ization of street food means you can go anywhere on the planet on get a terrible, bland meal of unhealthy junk food. Is the same thing happening to knowledge?"
No, Andrew, but it may have already happened to IT journalism ...
That was back in December. Britannica made some complaints shortly after the Nature article came out, and Nature released supplementary material addressing some of these complaints (see the original Nature link for that).
Then, on March 22, Encyclopaedia Britannica published an open letter complaining about the methodology of the Nature study and calling on the journal to retract the article. Nature responded with a note on their home page rejecting the complaints, and refusing to retract the article.
Orlowski gives considerable space in both articles to the Britannica complaints and snippets of letters from readers supporting his point of view, and makes the pount that Nature has made "grave errors" and "risk[s] its reputation" over the study. The second article is mainly made up of excerpts from readers letters.
I get puzzled by articles like this. First of all, this is not quality journalism. It's a blog, for which Orlowski gets paid (I wish I got paid for mine). Secondly, like a blog, it's nothing more than the author's opinion and a bunch of links. Researching his articles must have taken Orlowski about as long as it did for me to write this post (20 minutes).
Fortunately, people don't take Orlowski very seriously. He writes with such hyperbole and so little actual factual content that he's almost beyond parody (read the actual articles and wonder how you could parody them). There's no writing of his on the web that I can track down that has any actual original thoughts in it, so it's ironic that he has chosen to write about technology, an area for which you would imagine having an open mind and a flair for creativity would come in handy. My guess is that he didn't have the intelligence to make a career in technology itself, so he had to plump for commenting (badly) from the sidelines. Compare and contrast Orlowski's poor efforts with Guy Kewney.
Orlowski rounds off the first article with a snide and unfair comment directed at Nature about "junk science". I'll be content with labelling his brand of writing as "gutter press" journalism - there's a lot more truth in that than in his snipings at Nature.
I'll round off this nasty little post of mine with a quote from technology commentator Bill Thompson, writing about Wikipedia on the BBC website:
"We should not dismiss Wikipedia, but we should not venerate it either."
I agree with that. Orlowski probably would too, but then there wouldn't be much money in a gutter press journalist making an uncontroversial statement, would there?
Posted by daen at 12:11 AM
March 24, 2006
Once you've done it, you have a different view of what the strangest thing is about moving to a different country. Not learning the language (although, for me, Danish is hard enough). Not even lack of easy access to childhood foodstuffs (Marmite can be bought at Abigail's). No, it's the huge void in your cultural background that shows up whenever anything or anyone of historical significance hoves into view.
I often take "breakfast" (well, what else can you call the first meal of the day, even if it is at 2pm?) at "Croissanten" on Frederiksborggade. On Tuesday, I ordered a cheese slice and a café au lait, as usual. I reached for my wallet. Not there. The usual slap test (all pockets, then the forehead) turned up nothing. Conclusion: I'd either dropped the wallet on the bus - I know I had it when I got on, because it had my DSB travel card in it - or some light-fingered person had relieved me of it. After I'd phoned the bus company to see if they'd found it (no luck), and after phoning the bank to cancel my cards, the good people at "Croissanten" gave me a credit for the pastry and coffee and lent me 20 Dkk for the bus fare to work (I paid them back the next day).
Yesterday, one of the servers who'd helped me out asked if I'd found the wallet or heard anything, and the only other customer, an elderly guy, started chatting in English. I could immediately hear that he was English, so I started talking to him in English. After a brief chat about what brought me to Denmark and what work I did, I asked him. Before he could answer, the girl behind the counter said "He's one of our best children's TV presenters!". I think he was simultaneously pleased and a bit embarrassed! The guy's name is Tom McEwan. He came to Denmark 35 years ago, and through a succession of jobs (including washing cars in Silkeborg, in Jutland) ended up teaching English in Copenhagen and playing drums in some bands (one of which, I have just found out, was the nascent Gasolin', one of Denmark's most successful bands of the 70's). Somehow, this turned into a stint in television and film, which is where most Danes under the age of 35 know him from. For my edification, he jotted down some names of songs and shows on a napkin, which I have in front of me: "Nu er det ikke sjovt længere" ("It's not funny any more" - a TV show) - "Fy Fy Skamme Skamme" (no idea how to translate, but it's a song which almost everyone in Denmark except me knows) and "Ude på noget" ("Up to something", another show, with Tom playing the part of Polle, alongside famous actress Ghita Nørby, playing Ruth).
I showed the napkin to J, who was very impressed - I guess for Brits it the equivalent of bumping into Geoffrey from Rainbow, and getting him to jot down some songs that he did with Freddie and Jane ...
Tom will be playing drums during in this year's Copenhagen Jazz Festival, and often pops up in plays around town (I only remembered afterwards that I'd seen him in "Waiting for Godot" at Krudttønden).
Posted by daen at 11:40 PM
Martin Newell writes about men and women buying soap:
Now, if I were buying a bar of soap, I would be searching for a buxom-looking object, of a certain size, wrapped in waxy paper, proclaiming the word: SOAP. I would consider about eighty to ninety pence to be a fair price to pay for it. I would bring it home, stick it in a light-green, corrugated plastic soap-dish on the bathroom basin and I would give it no more thought than that..
A woman, on the other hand. A perfectly good Englishwoman-- typically, a mixture of practicality and sea-eyed dreamer, would buy several types of soap. These, so far as a man was concerned, may as well have been brought to earth by a spectral goods-train, drawn by Saturnian sea-horses, its precious cargo hacked from mines found deep on Asteroid XGB123VX . Having purchased the objects, she would then send one pile to her mother, another to her recently-divorced friend and place a further one still, on my bathroom shelf, where it would remain unused for months and months, whilst I idly tried to ascertain what it was. In this country's kitchens and bedrooms, even odder things are appearing and only women know what they are.
Posted by daen at 02:24 PM
March 16, 2006
In north-east Essex, when it's spring The schedule doesn't mean a thing At least not to the stubborn wind By which the season's underpinned The sun is strong, the blackthorn snows The dirty evening darkness goes But still the east wind slices throats Mocking scarves and cutting coats Pinching, clenching, killjoy crone Tacking inland up the Colne Flinging insults at the sun And ruining the tourists' fun She comes to visit, Easter Day And often lingers all of May
Writes Martin Newell in his pome "Shipshape Part II", and ne'er a truer word said. "Spring", as in "spring surprise" (where the Easterly wind pops out unexpectedly and pierces both cheeks and both eyeballs, before ripping your ears off for a finale).
Posted by daen at 01:30 PM
March 12, 2006
Posted by daen at 04:33 PM
March 10, 2006
30 St Mary Axe
Posted by daen at 02:35 AM
60 Victoria Embankment
Posted by daen at 01:45 AM
March 09, 2006
The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd has had me laughing out loud every episode. Moss is far and away the funniest TV character ever, because he is so plausible. I know this guy. There's even something about the way he speaks.
Posted by daen at 12:07 AM
March 02, 2006
Happy World Book Day!
Yes! It's World Book Day 2006 today. Make friends with a book. Get to know it. Take it on the bus, show it the sights and have a great day out. Take it out to dinner, then take it to bed and snuggle up together ...
Posted by daen at 03:52 AM