Today is the Norwegian independence day. I think there should have been flags or something, but work goes on as usual and there are no festivities or celebrations that you can see. As I've mentioned before, May 17th is our national day. Constitution day.
This may seem strange. From 1814 to 1905 Norway was subject to the Swedish throne. A union of two kingdoms under one king, in official Norwegian doctrine. Not that the Swedes saw it like that. They had won the large but rather undeveloped province of Norway from the Danes in honest war, mainly by supporting the right side in the Napoleon wars. It was not as if the Norwegians had any say in the matter. Norway had no standing army, and not even a native administration that might possibly have gathered a few rabid farmers with pitchforks. All it had was a constitution hastily drawn up by volunteers in a desperate bid to get a Danish prince for "king", so the country could remain factually part of Denmark while nominally independent. The ploy failed miserably, and the province officials bowed to the inevitable and started to take their wages from Stockholm.
It didn't end there, though. The winds of nationalism were blowing over the world. Not exactly the gritty blood nationalism of today's Balkans, though there was quite a bit talk of blood and soil too. It was the national romantic wave of poetry, literature and drama that would find a particularly fertile ground in Norway. It was poets, not generals, that would eventually win our independence. In cities and villages, people started to celebrate May 17th, Constitution day. They repeated the belief that this document in some way made Norway a separate country, only presently in a co-equal union with Sweden. Until a generation had grown up that believed it with all their heart.
In the national referendum, more than 99.9% of the votes were for independence. The Swedish army would not just have to fight farmers with pitchforks anymore. They would have to face an armed militia consisting of practically every Norwegian male. Probably women and children too. And the Swedes were not too keen on war themselves. They're not a hot-blooded people, not outside the bedroom at least, and so they just said good riddance to their mountainous west coast.
At least they're not celebrating in the streets on June 7th either.
From that time on, the word "union" has been a bad word in Norway. Presumably one of the reasons why so many Norwegian voted against EU membership was the name of the European Union. If it had been called the European Federation, we'd probably been members now. Not even labor unions are called unions here, though the word used means almost the same.
In other news of the day, I went to the place where I recently bought my Toshiba portable, and complained that it acted strangely when connected to a zip drive. It uses a few minutes to boot up, and when I try to actually open a zip drive icon to look at the contents, it will take another 5-10 minutes or so of total immobility. Sometimes during disk operation it will hang so thoroughly that it can only be freed with the reset switch. The salesman happened to have a zip drive connected as I walked in to his workplace, and he assured me that this problem was not supposed to be there. I sure hope I won't have to get a new machine. At least I don't think there is any incriminating stuff on it now - as soon as I have deleted my e-mail. :)
Speaking of which, I got the most ridiculous spam in my life today.
It was a mail from DHMO.org, warning against the danger of
di-hydrogen monoxide. Thousands of people had alredy died from
this stuff, mostly by accidentally inhaling it, and more of the
stuff was being poured into streams and the sea all the time.
It's also a major component in acid rain. The guy asked for a
measly $3 in contribution to the continuing awareness campaign.
I found the mail hilarious almost from the first word, because of my habit of translating expressions like di-hydrogen monoxide automatically into the corresponding chemical formula, in this case H2O.