The weblog of a traveller

   Dec 10

UK Students: A token of solidarity

Wow, lots of updates. Marmot is scribbling away! When education is moving out of reach for people in a place I hold dear, it is not possible to keep it shut.

A huge cut in UK University budgets was passed yesterday, with the corresponding doubling of student payments. The UK has a blueish government at the moment, and was hit by the financial crisis as hard as anyone. But 9000 pounds in tuition a year? That is more than many private schools that have tuition fees as their only income. Are the Universities supposed to feed the state fund now? Also, one of the governing parties campaigned specifically on opposing the cut, and ended up voting for it. A dangerous exercise for a small and growing party.

Knowing that the UK has a lower education rate than optimal already lacking engineers, doctors and nurses, the cut seems only counter-productive.

In all this, it warms the heart to see my Aberdonian student friends campaigning insistently for their fellow student colleagues down in England. Scotland has free education and is not part of this rise. While this is very fortunate for Scottish citizens, it makes the difference all the grosser. when two persons in the same country can have so radically different rights based on their postcode.  This excellent commentary likens the current national protests (these people are not giving up!) to the student protests in France in 1968.

Education makes us better persons.  Though this lady seems to disagree: 

   Dec 10

Change we can believe in?

Reading, reading, reading for nights on end. There are so many important things going on in the world right now,  it’s hard to keep up. The most fascinating thing being how  things that I would have disregarded as conspiracy theorist crazy talk only few days ago are actually happening.

Like the US and China collaborating on sabotaging the Copenhagen climate conference.  This comes out while another UN climate conference is being held in Mexico. Better keep an eye on what’s going on there, too!
The Guardian has collected an extensive list of the mass of corporations taking very unusual steps to silence Wikileaks.
Several of them admitting to be instructed by US government. Is this something a government should be engaging in? We are talking about a news organization here. If the homely Aftenposten (major Norwegian paper) had gotten it hands on such material, would anyone be surprised that they would publish it? Hardly. This is what journalism is about –digging up facts, shuffling them a bit and spreading them to the world.

These reactions will prove very embarrassing for the responsible politicians. Luckily the detaining of the leader does not harm the organization, which is strong on its own.

   Dec 07

Leaky Freedom

As you have probably too, Murmeldyr has been following the Wikileaks releases closely in the last weeks. Not as eager for the actual documents as for the reactions of the international society. And reactions there have been, in a magnitude that reminds me more of totalitarian regimes than the free Western world.

Find the companion cube

Like the re-opening of the otherwise unrelated rape case against the Wikileaks founder, a case that has been dropped for over three months. As far as I can tell, nothing new has been added to the report, making its resumption seem rather opportunistic. (Note that this is not another bashing of the accusing parties, I am sure they had good reasons to file the complaints and that the relevant authorities had equally good reasons to shelve them.)

So, now it seems we are hindered in spending our money the way we wish, as PayPal, Mastercard and even Visa have blocked any and all donations to Wikileaks and partner accounts. This is a new concept for me, and highly unusual in financial business. It seems bizarre that groups condoning genocide like the KKK can have open bank accounts while a (however radical) promoter of freedom of speech is facing all kinds of blockades.

While I do realize that diplomacy sometimes calls for confidentiality, it seems clear to me that the degree of secrecy is far higher than what would be reasonable. I am sure it is easier to restrict everything and anything “just in case”, but most of the leaked documents are really very mundane and should have been public in the first place. This January, in a speech by the US foreign minister the fact that “access to information helps citizens hold their own governments accountable” was highlighted. Where are you now, Hillary?

   Nov 21

Art for wearing

Remember I used to share whenever I found something moving or quirky online? Here’s something that’s both plus absolutely stunning. Raw, industrial works of art. Just look at this one. 

One day I’ll own a forge and make these myself.

Until then, I am very happy to have found the Vagabond.

(Not the assembly line brand with the same name, obviously)

   Nov 08


Murmeldyr has moved to a brand new eco-friendly vm-ware server (or am I confusing things, dear sysadmin?), upgraded its core facilities and refurbished the looks. You can almost smell the moist, fresh grass. A good time to add an “about”-section, we like to know what we are dealing with, after all. New is also the collection of independent sites that we’d like to show you because they are crafty of thought-feeding or plain awesome. The Murmeldyr is very happy about the new surroundings, what do you think?

   Nov 02

Nation of Norden

Countries are just SO pre-Internet. For various historical reasons*, the world is split into tiny fractions called nations. Since, the world has only gotten smaller, but the number of borders is not decreasing to scale. We no longer need to fear the neighboring tribe, we communicate and trade across the globe as easily as with the neighboring town. Borders are weaker than they used to, but persist. At some point we will need to call them obsolete.

one world, one web.

USA realized ages ago that unions are stronger; I doubt there had been a global superpower over there if it had been over 50 single countries, each prioritizing their own local issues first. Regional unions seem to be the way to tackle our globalized world – or even better, one world-spanning nation under the sun?

Imagine what a joint force of humanity could do, for development, for the environment, for science.

After all, we have learned we are all equal. Still, our brains are wired to think in terms of differences rather than similarities. We relate to new things by comparing them to known things and identify the distinguishing traits, even when said things have more in common than what separates them.

Sadly, there are several issues concerning the available union in my part of the world, the European Union. The smaller countries feel that they are losing a lot of sovereignty without getting any significant influence in the EU, and environmentally conscious people have a hard time getting by the founding principle of always putting corporate interests first. Can there be another way to do this?

Today’s issue of the Guardian offers a thought-feeding account on a Nordic federation of Scandinavia, Finland, and Iceland:

Interestingly, 42% of the inhabitants of the Nordic five support the idea. Ironically, the proposal has even been welcomed by many of the anti-EU movements in the Nordic states. Many of them might see the Nordic state as an alternative to the EU, but Wetterberg actually argues that it should be one of the main pillars within the EU.

These countries are so similar, people from elsewhere have a hard time holding them apart (re. the common misconception that Norway is the capital of Sweden). Differences in culture and language are no bigger between than within the countries (with a possible exception for Finland for the language part).

If this proposed nordic union can, as one commenter formulated, protect truly democratic principles alongside the welfare state a strong civil society and a heavy emphasise on equality, I am all for it.

The more I see of the world, the less of a patriot I become. Oil funds for all!

* I’ve noticed that “historical reasons” is the nice correct way to say “no logical reason”.

   Oct 19

Listen to me!

I love music. Any genre. No exceptions I can think of. Patience and willingness to maintain a collection of said music is, however, non-existent. Heck, half the time I don’t even know the name of the artist.

Enter Spotify. Music consumption has gone up considerably after this ingenious little music streaming program. If there is Internet, there is music. All the music. Totally legally at my fingertips. I haven’t been able to find any more accurate figures than “34 years of continuous listening” – how to relate to such numbers? It’s longer than I have been alive. While certain artists have opted out of the system (ironically this seems to be the same artists that speak up against file piracy), both local and obscure artists are in. In short, messy mp3 collections clogging up the hard drive are out.

Anyhow, I made a few playlists, should be listenable through this link if you have the program:

Follow me on Spotify

(Did it work?)

   Sep 30

The Battle of Symbols

During the past few days, a series of articles regarding use of Norse symbolics among the troops in Afghanistan. This has invariably been linked to “unhealthy values” and possible nazism by media, a link which military officials have dismissed categorically. Still it keeps showing up, as though the media itself wants it to be true.

Much can be said, and has been said, about the psychology of war and the total mess-up the recruits are dealing with. What the journalists do not seem to realize is there is a growing community of serious Åsatru believers, whose fair claim is that their faith is no less valid than other religions. They want to be able to use Norse symbolics as part of their religion without being accused of nazism. The authorities agree and have granted them status as an official religious fellowship.

As the marmot is serious about freedom of religion, any free time has been spent writing flaming letters to journalists in the name of human rights. Here in the Land of hurt feelings, this is a card that should make it home.

It was a relief to learn that tomorrow’s issue of the daily paper Klassekampen sports an official debunk of this misguided link, brought by my good friends over at Bifrost. An (automated) translation is available here.

Torshammer found in Skåne, Sweden

Torshammer found in Skåne, Sweden

   Sep 03

Home Carved Village

It is like a scout camp only permanent and without the brats!

Handy folks by the entrance

Handy folks by the entrance

Heimspikka village is a gem hidden in the forest close to the Swedish border. A seemingly random group of very different people (occupations spanning from stage artists to computing) with a shared interest in Do-It-Yourself and a combined base of know-how acquired some land just a couple of years back, and without further ado started knocking down a few trees, putting up a shelter or two and inviting folks to help out. In a few seasons, it’s already grown to a well-equipped camp site that can comfortably accommodate a tenfold of happy campers. The spirit is collective, sharing is caring, and should you wish to help out you will be duly accredited with toast and boast. I can see this project grow as a very including community.

It is truly impressive what can be accomplished without the aid of professionals. Go there if you have the chance, get inspired and say hi to Nils the squirrel from me!

Signature totem:

One of several trunkheads

One of several trunkheads

Came for the mead making workshop, stayed for the atmosphere.

Man, look at all that honey!

Man, look at all that honey!

A huge cag of honey brew is now  waiting to become honey wine, making promiseful little blopping sounds next to the warm, cosy server that serves Murmeldyr and other happy sites.

Gotta love it.

   Jun 18

Summer is on

What did she bring?

Please click the image - it looks so much better in full size

I’d just like to remind you that those exotic animal travel gifts tend to be made from threatened species. You wouldn’t buy a tiger fang, but what about a coral necklace? You can’t assume it’s a fake and the seller will say what you want to hear. Those pretty bugs in crystals are probs real too. Do you know which are threatened and which are not? Me neither – better get something else for everyone back home this summer.