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Posts Tagged ‘norway’

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Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix
Snow being cleared in Oslo, Noway, in 2018.

As I write to you from a New England village where snow piles are removed by heavy equipment in the middle of the night, I’m remembering that even the “melting machines” of Norway cannot keep up with the challenge.

Here’s a 2018 report from the Norwegian version of The Local.

“According to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, 2018 has seen twice as much snow as expected, compared to normal levels, and up to 10,000 people are reported to have complained to the city’s Urban Environment Agency (Bymiljøetaten) about the hazardous nature of [Oslo’s] roads and paths, writes broadcaster NRK. …

” ‘In the last few weeks it has been difficult to get around our city, especially for those who aren’t so good on their feet. The plowing budget is almost used up and the Urban Environment Agency has therefore requested more money,’ Lan Marie Berg, head of Oslo Municipality’s environment and traffic department, told NRK.

“The municipality has therefore agreed to allocate an extra 53 million kroner (5.4 million euros) for clearing snow this year. … The Urban Environment Agency will also be given funding to remove ice and snow from paths and roads in residential areas.

“According to the agency, 750 cars have been towed in the capital this winter to allow ploughing vehicles to access necessary areas. 25,500 tonnes of grit had already been spread by the end of January, a significant increase on the 15,000 tonnes spread throughout the entirety of last winter, writes NRK.

“In Oslo, an ice melting machine located at the city’s harbour — nicknamed ‘Terje’ — takes care of much of the snow removed from streets. But with the machine having reached capacity, other solutions must be found by the municipality, including piling snow in streets and parking lots.

” ‘We cannot continue to transport all snow from Oslo at the moment, because deposit sites are closed. In some places, snow must therefore be placed at the side of the road,’ said Urban Environment Agency director Gerd Robsahm Kjørven to NRK. …

” ‘It is snowing now and the snow must be removed. That’s why we’re making the money available, and we’ll have to find space for it before we produce a revised budget for the municipality,’ Robert Steen, a councillor on Oslo Municipality’s finance committee, told NRK.” More here.

Ya gotta do, what ya gotta do. Monday night I was in Providence and, going to bed early, had no idea that a street-parking ban went into effect at midnight. I moved my car into Suzanne and Erik’s driveway at 5 a.m. and, fortunately, hadn’t gotten a ticket by then. I had to walk extra carefully as I had not brought along my lovely Nordic boots with the studs on the bottom. I can definitely relate to the environment and traffic department head’s comment about “those who aren’t so good on their feet”!

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slow-tv-knitting-eve-620

Photo: NRK2
Need to calm down? There’s always “National Knitting Night” on “Slow TV” in Norway. How about the 7-hour train ride video or the 134-hour cruise? If you prefer, you can watch a video of salmon leaping endlessly or hours of logs burning.

Is the speed of modern life getting to be too much for you? Consider slowing the pace, maybe watching Norway’s soothing “Slow TV” for a few hours.

According to Seth Doane at CBS, “It’s television’s version of taking a deep breath … a very long, very slow, deep breath. It’s called ‘Slow TV,’ and it’s a surprising smash-hit in Norway.

“It began with the broadcast of a train journey from the coastal city of Bergen to the capital, Oslo. The formula was simple: put a few cameras on a train and watch the scenery go by — for seven hours. Rune Moklebust and Thomas Hellum are the brains behind the whole thing.

” ‘Did you know where this journey would lead, how successful it would be?’ asked Doane.

” ‘No idea at all,’ said Moklebust. ‘It’s normally one of those ideas you get late night after a couple of beers in the bar, and when you wake up the next day, Ahh, it’s not a good idea after all.’

“But much to their surprise, there was a green light from their bosses at Norway’s public broadcaster NRK2. …

“About a quarter of all Norwegians tuned in to watch some part of that train trip. … Since the train, in 2009, they’ve experimented with other slow ideas, and folks at all levels have taken notice. …

“A ‘National Knitting Night’ started, of course, with shearing the sheep; knitting the sweater came much later in the 13-hour broadcast. The shows, Doane noted, ‘get slower, and slower, and slower.’ …

The show titled ‘Salmon Swimming Upstream’ ran 18 hours — and afterward, the head of the station said it felt ‘too short.’ …

“Rune Moklebust thinks one image sums up their approach: ‘Once we passed a cow on one of our journeys, and we put a camera on it. And the camera just kept rolling, and we didn’t cut away. And then you keep it, and you keep it, and then you keep it, and then, suddenly a story evolves: What is this cow doing? Why is it walking there? Where is it heading? Why is the cow alone? So suddenly, there comes a story out of it, and you have to see what happens.’ ”

More at CBS, here. Check out the photos. I liked the one of cows watching a girl knitting in a field.

Hat tip: John sent the link to the story on CBS.

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98989420_04ba6d56-1f9e-40c2-a5e0-e5d9484b2294 Photo: Penny Dale/BBC Africa
In Nigerian markets the smell of stockfish — a culinary stable that comes from Norway — permeates the air.

I was interested to learn that something called “stockfish,” from Norway, has become a staple of the Nigerian diet. Penny Dale and Victoria Uwonkunda of BBC Africa have the story.

” ‘The taste of stockfish is life. We can’t cook without stockfish.’

“That’s the verdict of women at the bustling Onyingbo market in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, as they carefully choose pieces of the specially dried cod. …

“The smell of stockfish is pungent. … As the moisture drips out, the flavour of the fish deepens to create a rich, intense and complex taste.

“It is perfect for a Nigerian palate, which favours big and bold flavours such as fermented locust beans and chilli pepper, says young chef Michael Elegbde.

“Based in Lagos, Mr Elegbde is a rising star in Nigeria’s culinary world — and his signature dishes revolve around stockfish. Growing up, he spent a lot of time helping his grandmother in the kitchen, and she loved stockfish as a key ingredient in traditional dishes. …

“It was only later in life — when he had followed in his grandmother’s cooking footsteps — that he discovered the fish that he had grown up with actually came from almost half-way round the world, in the cold Arctic waters off the coast of Norway. …

“Between January and April, millions of cod migrate from the Barents Sea to breed in the fjords — and the climate is perfect for the natural drying process.

” ‘You need both cold and dry weather, and you need sun. We have everything here. We are gifted from God,’ laughs Erling Falchs, whose family business Saga Fisk has been in the stockfish trade for six generations.

“After gutting, cod is hung out on huge wooden A-frames, up to 10 metres high, and left to dry for three months in in the cold, crisp winter air. No salt, no additives – just in the same way that it has been dried since the time of the Vikings.

“Although Nigeria has a long coastline teeming with other species of fish, people say the stockfish has a unique taste and so it is Norway’s biggest export market for the fish. …

“It was the Biafran civil war in Nigeria 50 years that really set the scene for stockfish to become a must-have ingredient in Nigerian cuisine. In the course of three bloody years, more than a million people died — mostly from hunger. It was a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale, and churches and relief agencies from all over the world joined together to fly in emergency supplies.

“Norway’s contribution was stockfish. It doesn’t need refrigeration, and it is full of protein and vitamins — perfect to combat kwashiorkor, the malnutrition that characterised the Biafran war.”

Read more at the BBC, here.

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Photo: Balazs Koranyi/Reuters 
A sign warns residents of the arctic Svalbard islands in Norway of the danger from roaming polar bears. Norway is planning to expand its oil operations in the Arctic. 

Norway has a reputation for environmentalism. Unless you are talking about oil. Now some of the country’s leading lights are suing the government because of its plans to start drilling in the Arctic. A Norwegian whose writing I admire is one of them.

David Crouch reports at the Guardian, “Norway’s best-known author has lashed out at ‘the shortsightedness and stupidity’ of plans to expand oil exploration into the Arctic, as campaigners prepare to sue the government for placing future generations at risk from climate change.

“Karl Ove Knausgaard, whose bestselling memoir has been a global literary sensation, is fronting a campaign to mount a legal challenge against moves by Norway to open up the Arctic to oil companies.

“Oil and gas extraction in the Arctic has nothing to do with worthwhile goals such as alleviating poverty, Knausgaard said. ‘Norway is one of the richest countries in the world – it’s all about greed. … I never believed that my government actually would do such a thing. … It just makes me want to cry.’ …

“The campaign aims to make use of a recent change to the constitution which obligates the state to take action to ensure natural resources are managed ‘on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations,’ including safeguarding the environment for future generations. …

“The campaign by Norwegian environmentalists aims to mirror similar legal challenges in the Netherlands and in the US, where lawsuits have attempted to hold governments to account over climate change. In April, the Dutch Urgenda foundation launched the first case in the world to use human rights and tort law to hold a government responsible for failing to reduce carbon emissions fast enough.

“ ‘Where do we draw the line if not in the Arctic?’ said Åsne Seierstad, the bestselling Norwegian author and another signatory to the petition. ‘No economic policy is more short-term than relying on profits from the very areas that are worst affected from climate change.’ ”

More here.

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Photo: Pedro Alvarez for the Observer
Øvre Forsland hydroelectric station in northern Norway.

So while we’re on the subject of removing pollutants using artistic sculptures, how about an article on creating clean power in an artistic energy plant?

Stuart Dredge writes at the Guardian about “an unusually handsome hydroelectric plant” on the edge of a forest in northern Norway.

“Located in the Helgeland district in northern Norway, [Ovre Forsland is] a small hydroelectric power station capable of supplying 1,600 homes with power.

“Designed by Norwegian architecture firm Stein Hamre Arkitektkontor, it sits on a riverbed at the edge of a forest, with an exterior that aims to reflect the irregular shapes of the spruce trees forming its backdrop. …

“Says Torkil Nersund, production manager at the plant’s owner, energy company HelgelandsKraft … ‘This region is known for its spectacular nature, so we thought the building should try to live up to the surroundings.’ …

“ ‘Øvre Forsland does not only serve hydropower to people in the region. Its purpose is also to bring attention to hydropower, the history around it and the benefits,’ says Nersund. …

“Øvre Forsland is also angling for the attention of people who come to Helgeland for its hiking trails and beautiful scenery. Those visiting the power station can look through a tear in the building’s exterior that reveals its innards: the turbines. …

“The emphasis on this harmony, and on renewability in general, can be seen in the fabric of Øvre Forsland itself. The architects used Kebony wood, sustainable softwood that has been treated with a bio-based liquid to make it more like hardwood. …

” ‘We hope that the Government also sees that hydro power has a great future ahead and that they facilitate the development of Norwegian hydro,’ says Nersund.”

More here.

Hat tip: @VictoriaLynden on twitter.

 

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Photo: STR/Reuters /Landov
Prisoners at Halden in Norway have private rooms, which all have a fridge, desk and flat-screen TV. Inmates who don’t follow the rules and attend classes and counseling are sent to conventional prisons. NPR story here.

A perhaps surprising finding: In Norway, spending time in prison, where there are intensive job-training opportunities, results in 27 percent less recidivism than being sentenced to something lighter, like community service or probation.

As reported last summer in Science Newsline, “The research project ‘The Social Costs of Incarceration’ is the largest study of imprisonment and return to a normal life that has ever been conducted in Europe.

“In the study, researchers looked at prison sentences linked to recidivism. In addition, the researchers looked at the extent to which former inmates have returned to work. What makes the project unique is linking large administrative data sets to data sets from the courts.

“They have done this to measure the effect of what happens when the criminals have received different penalties for the same offense because they randomly met different judges in court with different leniency towards incarcerating. In other words: if a judge incarcerates differently for the same offense, what will be the consequences for the offender in the long term?

” ‘The results show that the Norwegian prison model with extensive use of labour training while serving time, gives surprisingly good results,’ says Professor Katrine Løken at the Department of Economics, University of Bergen (UiB), who led the research project.

“The study shows: Five years after conviction, there is a 27 per cent lower risk that convicts who have been in prison have committed new crimes, compared to those who were given more lenient penalties, like probation and community service. For the 60 per cent of inmates who had not been employed for the last five years preceding the conviction, the decline in criminal activity is even bigger. … The study is published as a Working Paper in Economics at the University of Bergen.”

Løken doesn’t necessarily think the answer is sending more people to prison; providing more job training outside of prison might be.

” ‘A relevant question is whether we should aim for full package of job-training outside prison. But research shows that work training outside of prison is more difficult to enforce. It appears that a certain element of coercion is needed to get offenders on a new track.’

“Katrine Løken stresses that the research does not take a stand on the principle of imprisonment, but simply says something about how prison is perceived for the individual, and shows the effects of different sentencing.”

Many studies show that incarceration in the United States leads to more crime, not less. Different kinds of prisons, for sure.

More here.

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It’s interesting to me how artists who believe in a particular cause will use what they know best to advance that cause. Sometimes it takes art to get a wider audience to understand an issue.

At the Greenpeace blog, Elvira Jiménez and Erlend Tellnes wrote in early June about how pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi is raising awareness of global warming.

“The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise set off from the Netherlands carrying a very special load: the voices of eight million people. Messages from around the globe calling for governments to save the Arctic from threats such as oil drilling and destructive fishing. …

“As the ship stopped in Svalbard, Norway, Europe’s gateway to the Arctic, it welcomed aboard a very special guest: renowned pianist and composer, Ludovico Einaudi. With him a grand piano, to undertake his most challenging performance yet, in the Arctic surrounded by ice. …

“As he performed this piece for the first time — in front of a magnificent surging glacier — the music echoed across the ice, a moment that will remain in our minds forever.” More here.

If one picture is worth a thousand words, maybe this one had an effect: a couple weeks later an international conference voted for protection of the Arctic.

Pilar Marcos followed up at the Greenpeace blog on June 30: “At a meeting held in Ostend, Belgium, last week, the OSPAR Convention agreed to adopt specific measures to protect its Arctic region, including a commitment to secure a marine protected area (MPA) in 2016.

“This means an unprecedented agreement on Arctic protection, which could result in safeguarding the first piece of a future sanctuary in the High Arctic in just a few months’ time. [It’s an] area equivalent in size to half of the surface of Spain, [where] no oil drilling or large industrial fishing will take place, and where the protection of threatened habitats and species will be the priority.”

Photo: Greenpeace
Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performs “Elegy for the Arctic” on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, the world’s most vulnerable ocean.

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In a Washington Post story last month, described how Reddit helped in the identification of a very rare atlas.

“A reference librarian at the National Library of Norway came across an old Ottoman atlas in the collections there that seemed perfect for a Reddit board devoted to the appreciation of maps. Weeks later, he figured out that the map in question was a previously-unknown copy of one of the rarest atlases in the world: the Cedid Atlas.

“The librarian, Anders Kvernberg, otherwise known as Reddit user PisseGuri82, posted an image from the atlas to r/mapporn  … He simply identified the map — which he pieced together from scans of different pages from the atlas — as an Ottoman world map from 1803. …

“The atlas went back into the library’s collections, where it would have stayed, ignored, had Kvernberg not seen a post two weeks later from another r/mapporn user who posted an Ottoman map of Africa from the same year. …

“As Kvernberg learned more about the rare book, the Library of Congress’s page scans started to look very familiar. ‘Then I realized this was the very same atlas I had held in my hands a few weeks earlier,’ Kvernberg wrote on Reddit.

“ ‘I ran off to tell our expert on maps, Benedicte Gamborg Briså, that I had something I thought she should take a look at,’ Kvernberg told The Post. …

“Briså told The Post that the National Library of Norway’s copy of the Cedid Atlas is the 15th known surviving copy — 14 others are held by various libraries around the world.”

Read the whole saga here. Three cheers for highbrow Redditors!

Photo: Nikolaj Blegvad, The National Library of Norway

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It’s been surprisingly cold this April week, but at least we have had some sunshine. What if we lived in Norway, where people go for months without the sun? How would we manage? For that matter, how do Norwegians manage?

Suzanne Daley writes in the NY Times about one Norwegian town that got fed up with light deprivation and decided to try something new.

“Yearning for sunlight has been a part of life in [Rjukan, a] quaint old factory town in central Norway for as long as anyone can remember. Here, the sun disappears behind a mountain for six months of the year.

“It is worse for newcomers, of course, like Martin Andersen, a conceptual artist who arrived here 12 years ago and would find himself walking and walking, searching for any last puddle of sunshine to stand in. It was on one of these walks that he had the idea of slapping some huge mirrors up against the mountain to the north of town and bouncing some rays down on Rjukan.

“The town eventually agreed to try, and last fall, three solar- and wind-powered mirrors that move in concert with the sun started training a beam of sunlight into the town square. Thousands of people turned out for the opening event, wearing sunglasses and dragging out their beach chairs. And afterward, many residents say, life changed.

“The town became more social. Leaving church on Sundays, people would linger in the square, talking, laughing and drinking in the sun, trying not to look up directly into the mountain mirrors. On a recent morning, Anette Oien had taken a seat on newly installed benches in the square, her eyes closed, her face turned up. She was waiting for her partner to run an errand, and sitting in the light seemed much nicer than sitting in a car. ‘It’s been a great contribution to life here,’ she said.” More here.

Daley writes the article like a folk tale. You could imagine your own ending.

Photo: Kyrre Lien for The New York Times
In winter, the town square of Rjukan, Norway, is illuminated by sunlight reflected from three computer-controlled mirrors on a mountain overlooking the town.

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The prime minister of Norway is running for reelection and wants to get close to the voter.

So he decided to drive a taxi.

Bob Crilly writes in the Telegraph, “For one afternoon in Oslo it was the passengers who were able to say, ‘You’ll never guess who I had in the front of my cab, after realising they were being driven by the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg. He worked incognito, wearing a standard uniform and dark glasses, in an effort to hear voters’ true views. …

“Most passengers cottoned on to his identity pretty fast, gazing in disbelief for a few seconds before leaning forward to take a better look.

” ‘From this angle you really look like Stoltenberg,’ said one.

“An elderly woman said she was lucky to have come across the prime minister as she was just about to write him a letter, before launching into criticism of corporate fat cats.” Read all about it, here.

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I heard something fun at the radio show “On the Media” this morning.

“The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation has been creating some of the world’s slowest TV — shows like a 7 hour train ride or 18 hours of salmon fishing. Norwegian audiences are loving it. Brooke [Gladstone] speaks with Rune Moklebust of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation about why he thinks so-called ‘boring TV’ is actually quite exciting.” Listen to the show here.

In case you want more detail, the Wall Street Journal covers the story, too.

WSJ reporter Ellen Emmerentze Jervell writes, “Executives at Norway’s biggest television company, the NRK national broadcasting service, have work on their hands trying to figure out how to extend a recent string of broadcast hits that have drawn millions of viewers in this small Scandinavian nation to their TVs for many hours at a time.

“One idea currently on the table is to launch a live show in which experts knit while spectators sit in their living rooms eagerly awaiting the next stitch.

“Another scheme is to produce a 24-hour-long program following construction workers building a digital-style clock out of wood, shuffling planks to match each passing minute.

“When the time changes from 09:45 to 09:46, the crew turns the ‘5’ into a ‘6.’ When the clock strikes 10:00, the job is tougher as each digit needs to be reconfigured.

” ‘That part of the show will actually be really exciting,’ says Rune Moklebust.” More at the WSJ, here.

Erik, someone needs to ask Svein if he (or the baby) has been watching. Apparently slow TV is soothing and meditative. I guess Norwegians need that as much as anyone else.

Nov. 9, 2013 update: Watching knitting.

Photo: Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation

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I just got a great lead from Erik. It seems that Sweden has run out of garbage for running its waste-to-energy program. Fortunately, Norway has garbage it can spare. (I wonder if Erik’s buddy Svein knows that.)

Check out Matt Hickman at Mother Nature Network:

“Sweden, birthplace of the Smörgåsbord, Eric Northman, and the world’s preferred solar-powered purveyor of flat-pack home furnishings, is in a bit of a pickle: the squeaky clean Scandinavian nation of more than 9.5 million has run out of garbage. The landfills have been tapped dry; the rubbish reserves depleted. And although this may seem like a positive — even enviable — predicament for a country to be facing, Sweden has been forced to import trash from neighboring countries, namely Norway. Yep, Sweden is so trash-strapped that officials are shipping it in — 80,000 tons of refuse annually, to be exact — from elsewhere.

“You see, Swedes are big on recycling. So big in fact that only 4 percent of all waste generated in the country is landfilled.

“Good for them! However, the population’s remarkably pertinacious recycling habits are also a bit of a problem given that the country relies on waste to heat and to provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes through a longstanding waste-to-energy incineration program. So with citizens simply not generating enough burnable waste to power the incinerators, the country has been forced to look elsewhere for fuel. Says Catarina Ostlund, a senior advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency: ‘We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration.

“Public Radio International has the whole story (hat tip to Ariel Schwartz at Co.Exist), a story that may seem implausible in a country like garbage-bloated America where overflowing landfills are anything but scarce.” Read more.

Photograph: Smath/Flickr

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