According to Julie


Read this blog: Beautiful absurdity

sham jaffEvery week, freelance journalist Sham Jaff writes a one-paragraph summary of the news stories she thinks are the most important.

Sure, a lot of news outlets do something vaguely similar, but I like this one.

I like the brevity of the summaries, and the weekly rather than daily (or constant) updates.

I like her selection. Jaff writes about politics, culture and literature. She is particularly interested in the Middle East -  and let’s face it, we should all be more interested in the Middle East – but the stories she picks out are from around the world. She’s based in Nuremburg, Germany, which reminds me that too many of my sources of information are American, British or Scandinavian.

I also really like that this is a personal blog project, rather than a network or an automated aggregation. It’s a weekly feature in her blog Beautiful absurdity.

Sham Jaff is a freelance journalist, and she publishes some longer writing on her blog as well, like this book review and this post on the importance of political scientists.

Overall, put Beautiful absurdity into the service you’ve selected to inherit your Google Reader feeds (I mainly use Bloglines). Sham Jaff is also on Twitter and her blog has a Facebook page.

Image source: I borrowed the portrait of Sham Jaff from her blog.

Jeg støtter Amnesty og kampen for frihet

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IMG_2824 cropped

I likhet med flere i Burson-Marsteller har jeg i dag tatt bilde med Amnestys plakat og brukt dette som mitt profilbilde på Facebook.

Jeg støtter Amnesty som SMS-aksjonist og som medlem, og jeg gir penger en gang i måneden. Jeg har ikke selv anledning til å bære bøsser søndag, men hvis du kan, gå inn på og registrer deg som bøssebærer.

Du kan du lese om hva pengene går til her.

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Innovasjon Verden?

Hvis bistandskritikerne har rett, driver Norge med bistand først og fremst fordi det gir oss god samvittighet – ikke fordi det virker. Hvis vi tar den mest kritiske bistandskritikken på alvor, bør vi slutte. Men hvordan skal Norge da redde verden?

Det har Kristian Meisingset, Amara Butt og jeg brukt deler av sommeren på å finne ut av, og resultatet er i den nyeste utgaven av Minerva, som lanseres på Civita-frokost torsdag.

Les artikkelen her: Etter bistand

Les også:


2009 according to Julie


Warning: This is a completely subjective memoir of the year that was. It’s written off the top of my head. My head, so it’s going to be self-centered.

First the soundtrack:

Not necessarily the best songs of the year, but the ones that will remind me of 2009 for years to come. There are plenty of older songs that fit that description too, but these songs were released 2009 or late 2008.

Then my life:

2009 was the first year I was a full-time journalist. That is, I went to journalism school and survived on various part-time jobs as a journalist and editor. I was no longer a receptionist, tour guide or pointe shoe salesgirl. I was a journalist. That’s probably a milestone.

If I had been told a year ago that 2009 would lead me to court rooms, a strip club, a pscychologist’s office, the make-up and rehearsal rooms of the Norwegian Opera House and more concerts than I’ve attended during the rest of my life combined, I would not have believed it. While 2009 was happening, I kept thinking "2008 was so much more interesting," but looking back over the past 12 months, a lot happened. Nothing as big as moving to Paris and back again or drinking coke in the Cambodian jungle, but a lot of smaller dramas.

2009 was a year of extremes. I stayed up all night and slept all day, and then I got a job that started at 6 AM. I worked constantly and then spent a month doing nearly nothing. I forgot to eat some days and wanted to do nothing but cook on other days. I have been very sad and very happy this year. I have been very efficient and very lazy. I have been very stressed and very relaxed. I have felt invisible and I have been recognized by strangers. In a way, 2008 was the year things happened, and 2009 was the year when the consequences caught up with me, good and bad. And I finish this year feeling better about everything. I don’t think I have been all around happier at the end of a year for as long as I can remember.

Current events:

In the world as in my own life, 2009 was very much about dealing with the consequences of 2008: The financial crisis continued, the same talk of climate change was repeated in Copenhagen, and Obama became president and eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Besides that I will probably remember the riots in Oslo in January. (Or more precisely, I will remember waking up to five missed calls from my very worried mom. I attended the demo on January 8th, then spent the rest of the night in a basement rock pub oblivious to the broken windows and tear gas above me.)

The Khmer Rouge was on trial, but the story was so buried in other stuff that even I forgot to stay up-to-date on what was going on.

In less violent news, e-books kept popping up in both the news I read and the news I wrote. In February I touched a Kindle for the first time. In May my first article at my journalism internship was about the upcoming release of big-screen e-book-readers. And this Christmas, Amazon sold more e-books than paper books.

Meanwhile print media suffered, particularly the Boston Globe. While I studied the dwindling circulation figures on this side of the Atlantic, it seemed friends in Boston could judge the sad state of print media by the number of crying editors each week. But was it really that sad? I optimistically blogged about the future of journalism (English translation below), earning a somewhat unfair reputation as the only Norwegian journalism student who wants to work online.

Everyone talked about Twitter this year. Many of them specifically to tell me that they were not on Twitter and did not see the point. I found Twitter useful. It helped me get a job, find stories to write, discuss stories I was writing and brag about stories I had written. In other words, I used it as a journalism tool. It’s hard to explain to sceptics why and in what way I think Twitter means something, but I think it does. (Meanwhile everything you need to know about Facebook is still available right here, and still true.)

One hash tag I ended up using a lot was #krevsvar. It started as an outcry over one court ruling on online privacy. Then it turned into a general campaign to "demand answers" (or krev svar in Norwegian) from my country’s politicians about IT politics, particularly piracy vs. privacy. I followed the story through the late spring and summer, and in the fall I attempted to summarize it all for non-IT-geeks.

IT politics ended up mattering very little for Norway’s general election this year. Overall, I think we’ll remember this election as kind of a boring one, no? I remember being more pumped about Cory Doctorow being in Oslo on the day of the election. Not that I don’t care about political debates, but what were we really debating this time around? I argued that our political labels were outdated, coming relatively clean about my own politics in the process. But I still enjoyed the fact that general elections make political geekiness almost universally acceptable conversation. Until one sports-obsessed person pointed out that for every game, soccer fans reach the same level of excitement
I get every fourth year when I wait for election results. (If you can relate to that, you might want to check out a soccer blog called The DA. Apparently, I might write for them sometime. How hilarious is that?)

End of the decade:

My earliest memory of the 2000s is my parents dancing. I don’t remember the beginning of the 1990s. I talked to some friends who are only like two years older than me, and they mentioned the 90s as their defining decade: Although they have obviously moved on, the fashion, music and general pop culture of the 90s is the norm they started out with. I was only 13 when the new milennium began, and so I don’t really feel like I can say anything about the 00s compared to any other time. As far as following culture, politics and fashion, I have really only known this one decade (and I don’t even know the name of the new one). Before that, I was a child. But now I feel nearly old, because I find the following thought scary:

Some blog posts I wrote in 2009:

Welcome to 2010 everyone!

Image sources: ArtyDandy, ModelsAreSmart and xkcd

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Barack Obama, and other awkward party guests

If President Obama really had to get a gift postmarked Scandinavia this month, he would probably, on the whole, have preferred the Olympics. At least at the Olympics the judges wait till after the race to give you the gold medal. They don’t force it on you while you’re still waiting for the bus to take you to the stadium.

We can take it as a sign of what a lucky fellow our President is that winning the Nobel Peace Prize has been widely counted a bad break for him.

– Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker, October 2009

I’m still a political geek. I stayed up until 1:30 AM watching a documentary on Barack Obama’s election campaign last night.

When the Peace Prize was announced, my first reaction was that whoever put my FP Morning Brief together had made a serious journalistic error. But I didn’t get all that worked up about silly Norway, thorbjorning the President just so he would pay us a visit. I didn’t really get excited about the visit either. Honestly, as long as I don’t get to meet someone, there is no practical difference between being separated by the wall of City Hall (+ security) and being separated by the Atlantic Ocean. It was still pretty unlikely that I would run into Barack at the coffee shop.

And so I’m actually surprised at myself by how annoyed I am as Obama cancels event after event here in Oslo. I would like to think that it’s the journalist in me fuming at the fact that there will be time for exactly one question from the Norwegian media. But honestly, the journalist and the election geek sides of me are pretty calm compared to my inner party hostess.

It’s like when you invite someone to a dinner party, and you kind of get the impression that the invitation is a slightly awkward surprise, but they still accept right away. So you think everything’s fine and that all awkwardness can be avoided if you just set a place for them at your table and make a serious effort in the kitchen. Until they show up late, pick at their food and refuse wine, avoid talking with your other guests, keep their eyes and hands on their cell phones and disappear just as the party is about to get going, often effectively killing everyone else’s party mood. Wouldn’t it have been more polite to just decline the invitation?

“The American president is acting like an elephant in a porcelain shop,” said Norwegian public-relations expert Rune Morck-Wergeland. Yes, that is awkward.

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– Neste stortingsvalg kommer til å bli avgjort av internett.

Sitatet er fra en Venstre-velger jeg snakket med på fest. Og en journalist jeg diskuterte med på debatt. Og en rekke bloggere. I forkant av stortingsvalget 2009 var det mange som mente at internett-spørsmål som opphavsrett og personvern ville bli de store sakene neste gang – men ikke nå. 

For enn så lenge har ikke politikerne forstått hvor viktig internett er.

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Hjerneflukt kan ikke forbys

Forbud mot rekruttering av helsepersonell er ikke det som skal til for å løse ulands problemer.

Helsearbeiderne blir ikke lurt, stjålet eller kidnappet, men overbevist om at Norge er landet de bør velge.

Ett lands “brain gain” er ikke nødvendigvis et annet lands brain drain.

Artikkelen under er opprinnelig skrevet for argument (pdf, s. 7 av 29), og lagt ut her etter frokostmøte om hjerneflukt arrangert av Medisinstudentenes Humanitæraksjon (MedHum).

Les også Legeslangdebatten mellom Sverre Danbolt og meg et par måneder før jeg skrev artikkelen. Den begynner her.

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I anledning valget blogger jeg litt om politikk

In Norway, I’m the token right-wing conservative in my group of friends. In the US, I’m practically a socialist. I dream of a small island in the Atlantic Ocean where people agree with me.

Slik beskrev jeg min politikk til en amerikansk venn forrige uke.

"Ap og Høyre burde regjere sammen" skrev Rögnvaldur Hannesson i E24 i går. Egentlig bør dere alle bare lese det Hannesson skriver. Myten om høyresiden og venstresiden i norsk politikk er faktisk en myte. Nok er nok nå.

Men siden det snart er valg, og siden pappa kom meg i forkjøpet og blogget om Hannesson først, og siden jeg kan være en ordentlig valgnerd, tenkte jeg å benytte anledningen til å fortelle hva mine politiske synspunkter faktisk er. Hint: Jeg er enig med Hannesson.

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Illegal = global

I never downloaded music illegally at all – until internet radio Pandora became off limits because I didn’t live in the US.

The market for illegal mp3 files is global, while the market for legal music is still supposed to be limited by international borders. Why?

Øyvind Solstad at NRK Beta writes (in Norwegian):

One world – not 200 countries.

The music- and film industry seems to think we still cross the Atlantic in steam boats, and that we don’t hear about things that happen in the US just because we live in Norway. So they ignore the fact that young people don’t think about international borders and where things come from. (…) People don’t understand why they can’t listen to some songs on Spotify in Norway, but if they drive over the Swedish border and go to an internet café they can. They don’t understand why they can’t see American music videos on YouTube or shows on They don’t accept that slow bosses in the music- and film industry still haven’t come up with a system where an artist can release their music all over the world (Øyvind Solstad, my translation).

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about this problem for journalism class at the American University of Paris (click “continue reading” for the full article).

A week later, my American friend was trying to buy a song from iTunes. She couldn’t, because her laptop was American. I could buy it for her, because my laptop was Norwegian.

We were both in Paris at the time.

That is absolutely ridiculous.

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