Coded gray.

Freeday 17 May 2002


Pic of the day: Pretty enough place - but not exactly the Holy Land. Not that you would know from hearing people today.

Just say .no

(The Internet top domain .no means Norway, though it also makes for some great puns - comes to mind.)

Today is Norway's Constitution Day, and don't anyone forget it. You may read about this curious tradition in my year-ago links. Suffice to say, it is pretty much a holy day for Norwegians. Those so inclined even go to church, as there are sermons and the usual stuff. People dress their best, and Norwegian flags are seen everywhere. Disgusting.

I am Norwegian myself. Originally an accident of birth, but I have had plenty of time to look for a better homeland if I thought I could find one in this world. I haven't. I won't say for sure that Norway is the best country in which to live; I think that depends on who you are. But it is certainly among the most comfortable, and I cannot be bothered to go through extensive retraining just to switch from one great country to another. Norway has one of the world's highest standards of living, not to mention quality of life. Not only do we have more money per person than all but a handful countries (and quite a bit more than the USA, last I saw) but it is also more evenly distributed than in most high- income countries. Add loads of barely touched nature, fresh air, low crime ... it may actually be the best country to live in for a not too ambitious person.

The sad thing is that we need countries in the first place. I concede that they are useful in the sorry state of mental darkness that humanity blunders around in still, but I really hope to live to the day when they are no longer needed. Or, if I don't live to that day (and it seems less and less likely) then I hope to be resurrected to see it. That's the only way I am willing to think of religion and nationality in the same context.


I am really creeped out by the emotional investment in nationality and ethnicity in general. Come on already! We all descend from the same few people, at most a couple hundred thousand years ago, probably less. And the nations we have today are a much more recent invention. Norway consists of three main ethnic groups, and used to be a motley collection of peoples with their own dialects and their own variants of the old polytheistic religion. Then it was unified into one country but a country with very different borders from today. Parts of what was Norway are now parts of Sweden and the UK, while we have annexed the Sami territories in the North that were historically never part of Norway and have their own unique language and culture.

The capital city of Norway is Oslo, located near the Swedish border. Many of the inhabitants drive to Sweden once a week or more to shop meat, alcohol, cheap sweets and other products that are more affordable there. There is some traffic the other way too, but not much. Like Norway, Sweden is also more densely populated to the east. Their capital city, Stockholm, lies on the opposite coast from Norway. Consequently, most Swedes know very little about Norway, while most Norwegians know a bit more about Sweden. The cultural influence is also pretty much a one-way thing. Historically, the people in Eastern Norway are more closely related to the Swedes than to the people of Western Norway, from where I come. Even today, their language is as close to Swedish as it is to my own mother tongue. Why should I feel a special emotional attachment to people who live on one side of an invisible border, and less to those on the other side? That's insane.

I might as well declare that all people with freckles are one group and should work together for our common prosperity, while not sharing our hard earned money with those without freckles. What right do the plain-faces have to feed their kids on my money? Now, this is exactly how I view nationalism. As sheer, undiluted insanity.

But at least it makes for some colorful display of textiles.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Go with the programs
Two years ago: Woe betide the rich
Three years ago: Shoes and truth

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