Pic of the day: Nordic nature. (Screenshot from Dark Age of Camelot.)
More Nordic news
The Swedish people voted in referendum to keep their old currency rather than joining the European Monetary Union. The margin was less than had been expected before Anna Lindh was murdered, but it was still enough that there was no doubt. The political elite promised (or perhaps they thought "threatened") to stay outside the monetary union for another 10 years.
I guess in this respect the foreign minister died in vain. That's always a sad thing, but then again almost all people die in vain. I probably shall too, although I hope it will be a long time from now. Worse than dying in vain is living in vain, and I don't think she did that. Despite her misguided enthusiasm for the monetary union and an ever closer integration with continental Europe, she also did much to spread the purer form of democracy further south into Europe, where the distance between politicians and people have traditionally been larger, and where people have had more respect for authorities.
The Nordic countries were never a part of the Roman empire, and feudalism never was strong here. In a way, I think Turkey belongs more in the EU than the Nordic countries do, if they would kindly distance themselves further from the Arabic heritage that clings to their religion. Christianity wasn't invented in Europe either, you know, but you would be hard pressed to think of the Christian countries as Jewish (unless you're insane, like that bin Laden guy). There is no more reason for Turkey to be Arabic than for, say, Italy to be Jewish. On the contrary, European civilization remained brightly burning in what is now Turkey for centuries after Rome had fallen to barbarians. Of course, the barbarians were by and large Nordic people, but they were quickly absorbed and left little of their original values.
Speaking of values, the most business oriented of you may have heard about the corruption scandal involving Statoil, the largest Norwegian oil company. They had hired a "consultant" company for 10 years, and pre-paid a substantial part of the money, to help them enter the Iranian market. This might have gone unnoticed had their helpers not included the son of a former president. Frankly, I'm not an expert on corruption, but the company's internal audit department is, and they were not happy. They told the CEO what they thought, and the chairman of the board. These then sat on their hands until hints were leaked to the press, then lied. When the whole story hit the press (as usual, one may say, in the daily business paper Dagens Næringsliv) the bosses sacked the guy who had negotiated the contract, then canceled the contract. The fat cats remain, but at least they haven't dared attack the whistleblowers. That's something, I guess.
Some are worried that the largely state-owned company will lose reputation abroad. I think this will be rather limited. Partly because corruption is common in oil business, not to mention that it pales beside invading third-world countries so your old friends can get their hands on the oil there. But mostly, Statoil's reputation won't be damaged much because it doesn't have much reputation. I doubt any of my non-Scandinavian readers can remember ever having heard of them before. Norway is, after all, less populous than many cities. And despite lots of money and lots of expertise in offshore drilling, neither our country nor its oil industry can truly be said to have a "reputation". Exxon (or whatever they're called this year) has a reputation. Halliburton has a reputation. If any oil company has a good reputation, I haven't heard of it.
Predictably, the financial markets have reacted to the scandal with a big yawn. But journalists are watching the scene of crime eagerly, hoping for fresh carrion. Of course, that's their job. Like the sword of Damocles, they are hanging over the rich and powerful, ready to cut them down when they least expect it.
The local elections here in Norway are over for this time. They were muddled and boring. The two fringe parties on the left and the right gained votes at the expense of the parties that actually have tried to govern. Both the Socialist Left and the Progress Party are very generous with the petrol fund, to which they don't have access on account on being marginal in the Storting, Norway's parliament. If promises were wings, pigs would fly with the both of them.
The most exciting part of the election campaign was the realization that the Christian Democrats will kick out people who are accused of sexual crimes with no regard to whether the accusation is thrown out outright by the court. This opens up for a very practical way of getting rid of political opponents. It also makes for a great spectator sport among common Norwegians, who have rather vague ideas about what Christianity is about. I'm certainly not sad to see the party sink like a stone. The compromises they must make to stay in power makes it shameful to have them claim the name of Christianity. The sooner they destroy themselves, the better for what is left of this religion. And that's not a whole lot.
I recently read in the conservative newspaper Aftenposten that approximately one in ten young people considered themselves Christians. Many in this tiny minority had an idea that having normal sex before marriage was sinful, so they did pretty much "everything" else instead. Sometimes I wonder how many Christians have even read the Bible, much less studied it. But that's a topic for another time, I guess, God willing ...
Still fairly mild.
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.