Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some thoughts on religion

I find religion and religious studies absolutely fascinating. Sometimes I wish I could have gotten an undergraduate minor in religion or theology but, alas, it was not offered at my university. No matter; religious meditations (I use the word meditation in the way Descartes used it, not in the way Indian religions) are more of a hobby for me anyway... I do it when I have the drive and motivation, which usually strikes me at the oddest of times.

For example, today I was biking home from work (well, technically I was biking home from Happy Hour irish coffee with Libby) and I started thinking about Pelagianism, which I was reading about last week. What is Pelagianism, you ask? From Wikipedia (though not a true scholarly source, I know, but I recently read an article, Nuclear Exaggeration: Is Radiation as Dangerous as We Thought?, in the English section of Spiegel Online that actually states, in the text!!, "According to Wikipedia," (see page two of the article, if you're reading it)... so...):
[Pelagianism] is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism). According to Pelagian doctrine, because humanity does not require God's grace for salvation (beyond the creation of will), Jesus' execution is therefore devoid of the redemptive quality ascribed to it by orthodox Christian theology.
Hmmm... I think this is interesting because it seems to work with a number of interesting theories. First, it works with the theory of God as an absentee landlord. This theory essentially states that God created the Universe, simultaneously setting the laws of nature in motion, and has since let it and, subsequently, human evolution proceed in a calculated yet "natural" way, given the laws that were set in place at the time of creation. The absentee landlord theory is one I feel some agnostics, like myself, can't seem to let go without a fight. (See my argument for agnosticism: On Agnosticism and the Meaning of Life) Second, Pelagianism interestingly complements the concept of "will" and, subsequently, "determinism," "free will," and what I like to call "determined free will," though I'm sure the latter has a more philosophical, contemplative term I have somehow missed.

I will elaborate more on this later... I'm hungry now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Well, Ad Do Declare!

* Cultural Differences in Advertising: Ikea - United States v. Denmark

* Ad Battle: Audi vs. BMW vs. Subaru vs. Bentley

The Last Brunch

The Last Brunch
Marithe & Francois Girbaud Ad Campaign

Note that there is hardly any actual food on the table. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stop! Wikitime!

* Wikitimesuck (n):
The [often shocking, to the experiencee] period of time during which an individual spends surfing Wikipedia, following a linked term from one entry to another until they realize that a surprising and generally shocking amount of time has passed.

* Wikontinuum (n): The unique spacial and logical spectrum a wikitimesuck follows. Affected by factors such as motivation, boredom, interest, and need.

I am a Wikipedia abuser. I know enough not to cite Wikipedia for papers, etc, but I love reading about random things. Last night was particularly bad. I spent nearly four hours reading about:

Etiquette in the United States and Canada --> Etiquette in Europe --> The United States Flag --> The T-V distinction --> Pluralis majestatis --> Leibniz --> Game theory --> (distracted) --> Lily Allen --> Morcheeba.

There has got to be some sort of help group for this, slightly intellectualized, time wasting.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Copenhagen Bike Culture

Copenhagen is a bike city. Seriously, what boats are to Annapolis, bikes are to Copenhagen. I guess I have a habit of living in beautiful waterfront cities that favor alternative transportation. I would estimate that there are probably 1.5 bikes per person in Copenhagen (a lot of people have extras laying about, and who knows how many are sunken in the canals!). I would also estimate that approximately 70% of the Greater Copenhagen population commutes via bike everyday, whether it's warm, cold, raining, or shining. I bike everyday on my SCOcycle; which is specially engineered for the Scandinavian climate... it says so on a small label right on the bike! Some days, I wish that special engineering included a heated seat or handlebars or something. Maybe the fancy Kildemoes bikes have that... Anyway, Copenhagen is a great city to bike in. It is relatively flat (though there are some exasperating little hills), they have bike lanes everywhere and, after pedestrians, cyclists get the right of way. (The hierarchy is peds, cyclists, cars, and busses, I think). One of the things I like best about Copenhagen are the different characters you see whilst cycling. Now that I have been biking for four months, I feel I have become an expert in character cyclist spotting. Below is my guide to Copenhagen Cyclists.

  1. The Christiania Cyclist – These are the bikers that have the huge Christiania Cycle boxes attached to their bikes. They are generally harmless, but annoying because they take up no less than 2/3 of the bike lanes and move slightly slower than everyone else, especially if they are toting their kids in the box. Beware if you must pass one of these cyclists whilst simultaneously passing a tree. This lane narrowing situation is dangerous. Also, they make wide right turns and sometimes don’t signal because manhandling their kid box seems to require both hands on the handlebars.

  1. Kronan Man (Woman) Kronan is a specific brand of bikes. They each seem to come with a kind of license plate on the back with (presumably) serial numbers. They each say Kronan, making it look kind of like a custom license tag. I’ve taken to calling these people Kronan Men and women. I wonder if anyone that owns a Kronan bike is actually named Kronan...? That would be cool.

  1. The Lance Armstrong – These are the people with the hardcore road bikes, you know, the kind with the rounded handlebars. They bike really fast, all bent over in that “professional cyclist position.” Sometimes they wear full out spandex and change when they get to their destination. These may be people that live outside of Greater Copenhagen. They probably bike an hour everyday and think they are so great because everyone else in their area takes the train. Maybe they are all hardcore environmentalists, but I doubt it. I don’t have any idea what they are training for… Perhaps they go to Bornholm on weekends to practice for the mountain legs… or not.

  1. The Amsterdamer – Cyclists in Amsterdam are notorious bell-ringers. Amsterdamer cyclists in Denmark are the cyclists that feel the need to ding-ding-ding their damn bells whenever they pass someone, even though it is the standard here to bike on the right and pass on the left and generally you don’t need to ding to get by. These people are generally tolerable if you, like me, listen to music on your commute at a loud enough volume to drown our their annoying dings-dings.

  1. The Power Chair Pensionister – These people aren’t cyclists, per say… or, well, at all actually. They are old people in their power chairs that think they own the road because they have put in enough time on the Earth to have earned it. The move really slowly and never signal. Luckily, most of these people are retired, so they aren’t a huge problem during commuting times. You’re most likely to run into one of them on a weekend or if you're cycling mid-day.

  1. The Foreigner – These people aren’t to be feared, but you’ll know them when you see them and definitely take notice. As a general rule, are never blonde and never have blue eyes. Sometimes you might even see one that is non-white. These people are extreme rarities because Copenhagen is probably one of the most homogenous, white places on Earth. If you're on the look out for The Foreigner, go to Nørrebro. It's the mecca for them.

  1. The Businessman – These guys are often in a hurry, off to make their next big deal or transaction the seconds the markets open. They are easily identifiable because they are always biking in suits with those little slap bracelet things around their right ankle to prevent their pants from getting stuck in the chain of their bike. They usually are carrying a messenger tote. During the evening commute you will often see them with flowers, probably bringing them home to the wifey.

  1. The High Heeled Wonder Woman – These are the women that bike in heels no less than 3” high everyday. Beware if their heels happen to be stilettos, rather than a slightly chunkier variety. Stiletto-wearers need to be given space to stop. There is always the fear that they won’t come to a complete stop with their brakes and skid out when they put their piddly little heel down. Give them room, but otherwise be impressed by their skills.

  1. The Motorcyclist – One of the most annoying jerks on the road. These guys ride motorcycles/motorscooters, NOT BIKES! They seem to only use the bike lanes during times when road traffic is high. Other times, they use the regular car lanes. How convenient that they get to pick and choose. Unlike the Amsterdamer, they don’t seem to have bells. They just roar up behind you and expect you to scoot. The one thing I like about the motorcyclists is that they always leave a trail of that gas smell, which reminds me of motorboats at home in Annapolis and makes me slightly homesick for the Chesapeake Bay every time one of them roars by.

  1. The Recumbent – These are a rarity, but you should still look out for them. People on recumbent bikes are tricky because they are hard to see until you are right, well, practically on top of them. Some of them are in little enclosed capsule things that look like spaceships. I think these guys are probably science geeks.
Also, check out this fun Copenhagen Biking Blog: Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita

Region Per Capita Consumption
Luxembourg 15.5
New Hampshire 15.2334
District of Columbia 14.5152
France 14
Nevada 13.7214
Ireland 13.5
Hungary 13.2
Czech Republic 12.1
Delaware 11.7558
Spain 11.7
Denmark 11.5
Portugal 11.4
United Kingdom 11.2
Austria 11.1
Switzerland 10.8
Belgium 10.7
Wyoming 10.6596
Wisconsin 10.6218
Germany 10.2
Florida 9.9414
Colorado 9.828
Australia 9.8
Montana 9.7902
Netherlands 9.7
North Dakota 9.6768
Arizona 9.3744
Massachusetts 9.3744
Vermont 9.3366
Finland 9.3
Greece 9.2
Alaska 9.1854
Rhode Island 9.1476
Minnesota 9.1098
New Mexico 9.072
South Dakota 9.072
Hawaii 9.0342
Louisiana 9.0342
Maine 8.9208
New Zealand 8.9
Oregon 8.883
South Carolina 8.883
Illinois 8.8452
Idaho 8.8074
Korea 8.6
Missouri 8.5428
New Jersey 8.4672
Nebraska 8.4294
United States 8.4
California 8.3916
Connecticut 8.3916
United States 8.3916
Pennsylvania 8.316
Texas 8.2782
Washington 8.2782
Poland 8.1
Mississippi 8.0892
Michigan 8.0514
Italy 8
Georgia 7.9758
Maryland 7.9758
Canada 7.9
Iowa 7.749
Ohio 7.6734
Virginia 7.6734
Japan 7.6
North Carolina 7.56
Indiana 7.4088
Tennessee 7.4088
Slovak Republic 7.4
New York 7.2954
Oklahoma 7.2954
Alabama 7.182
Kansas 7.1064
Sweden 7
Arkansas 6.6528
Kentucky 6.5772
Iceland 6.5
West Virginia 6.4638
Norway 6
Utah 4.9518
Mexico 4.6
Turkey 1.5

Places I've lived in or around are italicized.

stats from:

Thanks Libby.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007



If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hot Right Now

Bored at work, so...


Ill Seen, Ill said
* frolic!
* Park Avenue Princess
* Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit

* Action Biker
* Ben Kweller, specifically the song Hear Me Out
* The Kaiser Chiefs, Everyday I Love You Less and Less
* Rasmus Nøhr

* The J.Crew Scotland Campaign (FA07)
* The J.Crew Phoebe Dress
* Toggle coats
* Turtleneck sweaters
* Hunter Wellies
* Ruffles
* Tulle
* Hunter green
* Cardigans
* Knit scarves... and hats... and mittens
* Legwarmers, for warmth during winter bike commutes in skirts
* Newsboy caps
* headbands
* duck boots
* layering

Possible Winter Vacation Destinations:
* Switzerland, for some skiing
* Ireland (Cork, Gallway), for some craic
* Spain
* Brussels/Bruge, for some chocolate

* Mojitos (that take no less than 5 minutes to make)
* Irish Coffees, with Jameson
* Hot Chocolate and Bailey's, made with warmed Matilde Chocolate Milk
* Arizona Blueberry Green Tea

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kom tilbage til mig, Amerikansk stil...

Post title translates to: "Come back to me, American style..," which is what I found myself thinking tonight.

It is now 2:37am, Denmark time (CET). I just biked the 20 minutes home from old city Copenhagen. I can't wait 'til my bike-home-time is halved on December 1st when I move. Anyway, I had an experience biking home that made me realize/believe I am becoming more Danish with each passing day. I had intended to go out to Globe or Dubliner tonight for some good ol' Guinness and Irish craic, but after dinner Libby and I decided we were tired so we lame-d out, went to 7-11 and purchased a bottled of Bailey's Irish Cream (Hey, that'd be ninety craic, except that it cost 130 kroner, which rapidly deducts from craic scores) and a carton of Matilde chocolate milk. We heat the chocolate milk, added a substantial amount of Bailey's, and settled onto the couch to watch Nynne, subtitled.

Apparently it was too much for us. We fell asleep and awoke 2 hours later. My hot chocolate + Bailey's had long grown cold. I pulled on my white knit scarf and hat set (really cute), thanked Libby for a "hyggelig aften," grabbed my bike from the courtyard, and headed home. Biking home in -1 degree Celcius temperatures, sleepyfaced, and perhaps a little whacked from the bit of Bailey's I actually drank, I had an experience that is now prompting me to think that nationalities are like liquids in beakers that you can transfer back and forth, making up people. I will probably read this in the morning and wonder what the fuck I was thinking when I was typing it...

I was biking down H.C. Andersen's Boulevard, near the lakes. There is a lake front restaurant there. I've never been, but it looks pretty nice. Problem is, there isn't much sidewalk, so people leaving the restaurant/bar late tend to congregate in the bike lane. I have seen this dozens of times biking home. This is not okay. This is especially not okay when two drunk retards cross my [clearly straight and unwavering] path, causing me to swerve and cut off a fellow cyclist. Now, getting to the title of this post. Back in the days when I affiliated 100% with being American, a finger probably would have been raised (and, no, not my pointer finger in a "No, No, No, naughty, naughty" manner...), and I probably would would have yelled something from the adjective-noun or adjective-pronoun families. Examples include "fucking retards!" or "Goddamn idiot!" But, tonight, I didn't yell anything of the sort. Surprisingly, no fingers were flipped, and I yelled "Pas på!," which is fairly polite and translates directly to "Watch out!" in Danish. I didn't even think about it. I just yelled in Danish without thinking. Very strange indeed. My Danish has greatly improved since I've been here, but I usually don't reflexively think and speak/yell in Danish inadvertently and simultaneously.

I contemplated this the whole way home. In my tired, stupified state I had regressed to an extraordinarily civil, Danish behavior. How was this!? Somewhere between Rosensomething Alle and Godthaabsvej, I came up with my beakers of national affiliation idea. I was inspired enough to write a post. Where have my American ways gone? Will I ever get them back? Perhaps I will return to the US and be a more civilized person. Perhaps I will continue asking very Danish questions, such as "Is that right?" in English, and using words like "rather" as adjectives. Strange.

One thing is for certain... I will probably look back on this post in the morning/in a few days/weeks time and wonder what the fuck I was talking about. And I'm glad I'm ending the post in a very American way, using terms like WTF. Good.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'd like a Ralph Lauren Seersucker Oxford (!), please

... Like I saw this guy wearing last night. But I wouldn't wear it in Denmark during the month of November... Let's keep it in the warm, summer weather, folks. Don't be gauche.

In other news, this bartender lit a firework/flamethrower thing for me on the bar last night while I was at a party I had planned/ was hosting. Like, sparks and flames and stuff everywhere. I've never seen anything like it. It was wild. America would never stand for fire hazards like that. Denmark is a strange country.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Burgernomics, The Big Mac Index of Purchasing Power Parity

So, I've been traveling a lot. In the past three weeks I've "been" (been, in this case, meaning at least stopped in a country for food or something else involving a monetary transaction on the way to another destination) in at least eight countries and made transactions in five currencies (Euros, HUF, Slovakian, Czech, and Danish crowns...). Both my recent travels and October have ended and my credit statements have arrived, allowing me to survey the damage in comparison to the USD and DKr. In some cases I was delighted, in some, horrified (blast you, exchange rates and transaction fees!). In the case of my corporate credit card (score!), I didn't really care. Anyways, I was bored and reading about world currency exchange rates (Yeah, I just admitted that), and I found this interesting perspective from The Economist... The Big Mac index on purchasing-power parity, regarding the equalization of price of goods and services around the world, over or under value, and trends. It's been awhile since I've blogged, so I thought I'd post it.