What is this?

Hi! My name is Ulrik, and this is my student blog. My posts will be based on tasks and subjects given to the class by my English teacher Ann. I am currently in my third year at Sandvika High School, Norway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trace effects, a waste of time?

Today we tried a new game, named "Trace effects", made by the US department of state. By playing the game, you are suppose to learn English. It's made for students between 12 and 16, and it's played in your browser. So, is it worth playing?

The experience of the game

When I first clicked my way into the website, I had no idea what I was about to play. I had to make an account, which annoyed me since I hoped I could use my Google account, or something else. After making my account I had to wait for the game to load, which took about ten minutes. After the introduction video, that explained that I had to find my time-machine so that I could get back to the original time, I could finally start playing.
First the game lagged for a bit(which is probably the computers fault, but I think it should be playable on the school computer), then I was given the task of finding clues. The game is in 3D, and the graphics are not good, but still impressive for being in a browser. I went outside, and again I had to wait, this time for about three minutes, while the game loaded. Outside, I found some buildings and I could talk to people in my quest for clues. The voice acting in the game reminded me of a robot, unsuccessfully programmed to sound like a human, and I soon went tired of lagging around listening to them. After walking around some more finding clues, I went tired, and "finally" the game crashed. 

Worth playing?

The idea of the game is good, but the game is not. I don't understand how you are suppose to learn more English from this game than, let's say The Elders Scrolls Skyrim. Trace effects is basically a bad story, made into a bad game, from which you do not learn anything you would not learn from a normal game. I would not recommend this game to anyone, since it's a complete waist of time you could have used either to play a good game, or to actually learn English instead.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Napoleon's big mistake

On this date, two hundred years ago, the last of Napoleon's Grande Armée was forced out of Russia. 380.000 French men had died on Russian soil, taking 210.000 Russian soldiers with them. The Russian Campaign is the most famous military defeat of all time, and is used as an example of what happens if you try to take Russia during the harsh winter months. To this day, French soldiers are being found by farmers plowing their fields.

The campaign

Russian Troop at Borodino
By crossing the Neman River, Napoleon entered Russia on the 24 of June 1812. With him, he had the  Grande Armée. It consisted of almost half a million men, and they won several smaller battles.
On September 7, Napoleon, Marshal Ney and 130.000 men, met with 120.000 Russian soldiers at Borodino. The battle became the bloodiest single-day battle of the entire war with over 70.000 casualties, including 47 French, and 23 Russian generals. The battle ended with French victory, however, since they were in foreign land, they could not get replacements for the fallen men.
With over forty thousand men less than when he started, Napoleon started marching towards Moscow. On September 14, he entered Moscow expecting a battle. The Russians however, had chosen to retreat and set the city on fire.

Napoleons retreat

After failing to save the city, and trying to make a peace treaty, Napoleon started his retreat from Russia. With the winter closing in, and without winter gear, he probably knew that it would be disastrous. Napoleons troops marched for several months, sometimes in extreme cold. They kept being attacked by Russian cavalry, that tried to destroy as much as possible of Napoleons army. When he finally reached the river he had crossed in June, on December 12, he had lost almost his entire army. The invasion of Russia also caused the European Coalition to declare war on him once and for all. Napoleon managed to gather 400.000 more troops the following year, but he lost once and for all in 1814, before miraculously returning again and loosing at Waterloo in 1815. During the entire war, as many as six million people was killed or badly injured, making it one of the worst wars in European and American history.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Trafalgar Christmas tree

The Christmas tree at Trafalgar sqaure

Every year, a huge Christmas thee is placed on Trafalgar square. It stands twenty meters tall, and is decorated with lights and a Christmas star. The tree is given by the city of Oslo as a gratitude for the help given to Norway during The Second World War. The three stands until the twelfth night of Christmas, when it is taken down. So whats the story behind it? What was Britain's role in Norway during The Second World War, and why is the tree given to London?

When Norway was attacked on the 9th of April, 1940, the Germans had one particular goal in mind. The city of Narvik, was the last stop for the Swedish iron, before being transported out of the country.When the Germans attacked Norway, Narvik was quickly taken, and two Norwegian battleships were sunk. Few days later, the British, assisted by French and Polish troops, attacked Norway, trying to take Narvik among other places together with Norwegian troops. The battles led to huge casualties on both sides, and in the end, the allied troops withdrew from Norway and Norway surrendered to Germany. The Norwegian King, his family, and the government fled to London and commanded the Norwegian free troops, resistance and fleet from there. The tree is presented to London, as a token of gratitude for their help during the war. It was first given in 1947.

On top: Norwegian troops near Narvik
Bottom: British troops at Namsos.

The number of people killed during The Second World War

The war led to huge casualties on both sides, over seventy million people was killed. Total Norwegian casualties reaches eleven thousand, or 0.32% of the population. The UK lost 450.900 people, or 0.94%. Up to 8 million Germans was killed(10%), and the Soviet Union lost 23 million(14%), and the US lost over 400.000(0.32%).

A story from the war in Norway

Even though the main battle for Norway took place in 1940, bombing raids and sabotage went on trough out the war. One of the men who went on a bombing raid, was the RAF navigator Ron Day. The last days of the war his squadron flew towards Norway, but the plane he was in was shot down. Click this link to read the full story about his days as a German prisoner, when the war was coming to an end. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/51/a3964151.shtml

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Thirteenth Amendment

A slave named Peter, from Louisiana.
147 years, and one day ago, on December the 6th, 1865, The United States officially abolished slavery in all of it's states. It was the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the text says the following:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 

During the civil war in 1863, Lincoln and his government made a proclamation, that declared that the slaves from ten confederate states were free men. However, Lincoln was afraid that people thought it was temporary, and the proclamation did not free all slaves, or abolish slavery everywhere. They agreed to make the the Thirteenth Amendment, so that slavery would be totally abolished. 

Almost every state ratified the Amendment in 1865, but even though they did not have slavery, two states waited for quite some time until they officially abolished slavery. Kentucky signed in 1976, and Mississippi signed in 1995.

Whats interesting, is that in 1861, what could have been the Thirteenth Amendment, now called The Corwin Amendment was proposed, and even signed by President Buchanan. However, it was never adopted. When Lincoln became president the Amendment hadn't been ratified, and he quickly sent out the amendment without mentioning that it had been signed by former president Buchanan. In congress an act was proposed to withdraw the amendment, and when the war broke out few days later, the debate was put on the table, and in 1865 the new Thirteenth Amendment was accepted.

So whats so special about the Amendment from 1861? Well, it's the complete opposite of the one from 1865. While the one from 1865 abolished slavery, the one from 1861 said the following:

"No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."

The Corwin Amendment basically makes it up to every state if they want to abolish slavery. Since the Amendment never passed, it's still possible for a state to bring it to the congress. The last time this was tried, was by Texas in 1963. 

The evilness of slavery

The US abolished slavery in 1865, The British did so in 1833(Except for areas controlled by The East India Company), Sweden ended it in 1847, and Denmark-Norway ended it in 1792.
Most western countries ended slavery in the late 1800s. However, for example France, kept having slaves in the colonies for a while, and Belgium wasn't exactly nice to the people in Kongo either. When it comes to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, they abolished it in the mid 20s, and U.A.E ended it in 1963. The last country to end slavery was Mauritania in 1981.
Slavery is oppression of people, and we must remember that we still have problems today with forced labor and people working at minimum wages. According to the UN, 27 million people still live as slaves.

Some people think of slavery as something that happened a long time ago, that the "mind" of the people was different then. I don't think that's the case. I think that people though just like us, only that these days we choose people in a democratic election, and since normal people can vote, we elect sane people. But we must still remember that slavery has been brought back before. Sweden has abolished it twice, China twice and France three times. The people who's minds would accept slavery, are still out there, and if the wrong people gets enough votes, especially these days with the economic crisis in Europe, slavery and god knows what could be the consequence.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nomination for the Edublog Awards!

Since the Edublog Awards are getting closer each day, I would like to nominate someone for the "best Student blog", and "Best teacher blog". 

For the student blog, I would like to nominate my classmate Victor "http://victorenglish.wordpress.com/".
For the Teacher blog, I would like to nominate my English teacher Ann "http://annmic.wordpress.com/"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who was the earliest born human to be photographed?

I have written a couple of posts about photography(Look at the posts written in October) , and when reading more about the different subjects, I asked myself "Who was the earliest born human to be photographed?". As i have mentioned probably a hundred times in previous posts, I have a fascination for history, and the thought of this question really made me wonder. So, I started my research, which is quite easy if you know how to use Google, and I found the answers.

Hannah Stilley. *1746-†1840-1850
Photographed around 1840

The photographs

Hannah Stilley seems  to be the earliest born human, ever to be photographed. Except that she was born in 1746, I wasn't able to find much information on her. She had probably a husband, and the names of her parents are probably known. Hannah lived in the US and died between 1840 and 1850, which means that she became a weary old women, especially in those days. This could be the main reason she was photographed. If you looked into church books etc., I guess you should be able to find more information about her. However, finding anything on the web wasn't easy.

Conrad Heyer. 1749-1856
Picture taken in 1853

Theres no certain sources when it comes to the birth year of people born in the 1800s and backwards, so i feel that there's still one man who should be mentioned. His name was Conrad Heyer and he was born in Maine. In 1749 Maine was part British, but no one really controlled it (The natives, British and French were at war many times over the territory)  . When the revolutionary war broke out in 1776, Heyer joined Washington's forces and fought in many battles. After the war, he bought a farm in Maine and settled there. Heyer lived trough a lot of events. When he was a child, there were only a few colonies and when he died, the United states was 75 years old. He had spoken with people born in the 1600s, and he saw the
invention of the railroad, the telegraph, and he even got his picture taken in 1853. When you look at the picture, you see a man who has experienced a lot.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Using blogs as a way of learning English

Most of the posts i have written on the blog, I have written as a task given by our teacher in class. I think it's working out great, and it's a excellent idea to use blogs in class. Our teacher has asked some questions about how we feel about this way of working:

  • you think there is more pressure on how you perform/write when you use blogs instead of writing a paper for the teacher only?
  • Do you think the use of blogs reduces the difference between your work at school and your everyday life? 

Personally I find writing on the blog much more "relaxing" so to say. I feel much more pressure when I am writing for the teachers eyes only. I don't know exactly why that's the case, but somehow, writing for a wider audience makes it easier to write. Maybe it's because the texts are red by more people, therefore making it more meaningful to write them. It's more inspiring to write, when there is a bigger audience.
The second question I find quite interesting. Yes, I think that the difference between homework and schoolwork is being more neutralized by using blogs. However, when writing about something interesting, i might forget that the teacher will read it, and forget to check my spelling. This is probably good though, it makes a more correct image of how I use my English on a daily basis. I believe that using blogs for teaching is great for the teacher, so he/she gets to see how the students English truly is, especially if the students write posts voluntarily. For the students, it's a (probably) new way of working, and a fun way of working.    

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Alaska Natives

In the English class, we saw a movie called "Big miracle". It's basically about a few whales, trapped in the ice. Things happen, and with the help of the natives, media, the National guard and of course the Soviet Union, they are able to free the whales. The movie is based on a real story, and i must admit that it's quite stupid to use all those resources helping the whales. Especially when it's all because the Reagan government needed good PR. It's nice that the whales were saved though, don't misunderstand me. Anyway, I will stay out of politics. I don't like the republicans, and we can leave it with that. So instead of writing about Mr. Reagan, the republicans, their politics, and how they were willing to go as far as asking the Soviets for help when it came to good PR, I will write a small post about the Alaska Natives.

The  indigenous peoples of Alaska

The natives in Alaska came there thousands of years ago. They quickly learned to adapt the hard climate, and today they are famous hunters and fishers. As many people seem to think, they don't live in igloos, but they live in small town and settlements in northern Alaska. The art to make igloos, is something that's quickly fading away. Only a small number of people still knows have to make them the right way, most of them living in Greenland. Anyway, the man on the picture is what you could call a classical Inuit man. He wears skin clothing, and is adapted to the hard climate. The picture is from the early 1900s, and today they drive snowmobiles, and mostly wear modern clothing (which i understand perfectly fine). There are over one hundred thousand natives living in Alaska, and most of them lives quite isolated in their towns. They are under the normal jurisdiction in Alaska, but they do have some exceptions from Alaskan law. They are for example allowed to hunt whales. The natives have as all other native groups, being oppressed and looked down on. Today however, they are equal to other American citizens.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

The Earp Brothers.
Not all of them were present at the gunfight
Tombstone, 1881
On this date, October 26 , 1881, the most notorious and famous gunfight in the old west took place. The shootout took place in the the city of Tombstone, and on one side was the Earp brothers, aided by Doc Holliday.
On the other side was Tom McLaury, his brother  Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton.Also present on their side was Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne, but they both ran from the fight.
When the fight was over, thirty seconds had gone by, thirty shots had been fired, and Frank, his brother, and Billy Clanton was lying dead on the ground. Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded, leaving Wyatt Earp as the only unharmed.

The fight was probably just a fight between the law, and the lawless. The Earps had lived in Tombstone for a couple of years, and Virgil was the Towns Marshall. The Clantons, Mclaurys and Claiborne were in the outlaw gang called the "Cowboys". There are no certain sources of exactly what happened that day. The Earp brothers claimed they shot in self defense, when they demanded that the gang turned over their weapons, and they opened fire. However, the two surviving gang members who ran, said they were shot down in cold blood. Personally I find that hard to believe, since Wyatt was the only unharmed. After the gunfight, there were retaliation attacks, which led to the death of Morgan and Virgil Earp. Wyatt Earp the started the famous "Earp Vendetta Ride". The fight is today world famous, and so are the Earp Brothers. The wild west may not have been exactly like the movies, but I do like to believe it was. This event proves that sometimes, it actually was.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The last Nazis on the run

Yesterday I saw two BBC documentaries from a couple of years back. One of them was about the hunt for Dr. Aribert Heim, better known as "Dr. Death". He was a notorious doctor in Mauthausen concentration camp, and he did terrible experiments and operations on prisoners. In the other documentary, two students found and interviewed three people. Two of them was wanted for war crimes, and the third was at the time in court. All of them was accused of taking part in horrible events in the second world war.
Today we were given the task of writing a formal and informal text about something we thought was important to society. Many people look at the second world war, and thinks it's history, that it's over. I think that when people are running from their trials almost seventy years after, history is still happening. In the formal text, I will write about the few people still on the run, and those who was until recent. In the informal, I will write my own opinion on the hunt, and why I think it may be time to stop.

The list, and the hunt

Dr. Aribert Heim
Dr. Aribert Heim was until September this year, number one on the "Most wanted Nazis" list. This year, a court declared that he died in Egypt from cancer in 1992. The court based the ruling on a testimony from his son, and documents given by a unknown person in 2008. Even though he is declared dead, there is evidence that he's alive. Tax records show that Heim's lawyer as late as in 2001 asked the German government to refund capital gains taxes levied, because he was living abroad. He said Heim lived in Chile, where his daughter also lived. In 2008 a massive manhunt was started, and several leads showed up. One of them was a man, who said he knew the family. He was one day surprised when his friend said he was going to deliver some food to an old man, living on an estate owned by Heims daughter. Anyway the hunt was given up because of insufficient evidence. As told the case is now closed, because of his son's testimony and other evidence.

So, what's this list declaring the most wanted Nazis? The list is made by Efraim Zuroff, a famous Nazi hunter, working for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He is Jewish, and believes that it is his duty to find and have the last people who took part in holocaust convicted. As of October 2012 there is ten people on the list, the youngest being 88 years, and the oldest over 100 years old if still alive.
 Alois Brunner, the man who is over 100 years old, is being held responsible for the lives of 140.000 Jews. He was sentenced to death in the 1950s, and to life imprisonment in 2001,  but has lived in Syria since the war and Mossad has tried to kill him several times. The last sightings of him was made in 2001, but as late as 2011 the German intelligence service destroyed their files on him. Remaining files found, might suggest that he at some point after the war worked for the intelligence service.
László Csizsik-Csatáry, another man on the list, was arrested in Budapest in July this year. The Hungarian government has expressed that he will be tried in Hungary. Born in 1915, he was during the war a police officer in the ghetto, and is today being held responsible for the deportation of over 15.000 Jews, and unnecessary sadistic behavior.
These people I now ha mentioned, are the "worst" people so to say. The list also contains people, who might not have done their crimes as a war crime, one of them is the Danish Søren Kam. During the war he was in the Waffen SS, and he is wanted for taking part in the killing of a news editor in the war. One of the other men who took part in the killing, was executed in 1946. The question in the case, is if the killing was a war crime, if not the case is too old to be put on trial. Kam has been forgiven by the grandson of the victim, and was interviewed in a documentary in 2006. Kam has admitted to the killing, but he claims it was not a war crime, and a accident. He is currently in Germany, but Denmark has demanded that he must be turned over to them.
The list of fugitives is getting smaller each year, and mostly because the people on it dies of old age. In few years The Second World War will truly be history, and some people might finally move on.

The Nazi hunt, just or unjust?

People like Dr. Aribert Heim did terrible things during the war, and there's no doubt that they knew what they did, and what the consequences would be if the war was lost. When many of them fled to South America after the war, a massive manhunt started and several were captured and brought to trial. Today few remain alive, and there's not much interest from the different governments to have them captured. The only ones who really seem to care about their capture is a few Israelis, including  Efraim Zuroff, the Nazi hunter I mentioned earlier.
I believe that we have reached a point, where the hunt has gone from being an important hunt for the true war criminals, to be an avenging hunt for everyone they might find, who in some way took part in the Holocaust. Should we really use lots of resources hunting people like Søren Kam, who did his actions during times of war, probably because he was a jerk, not a Nazi, and is over ninety years old today?
The few people on the list, who truly can be called war criminals are probably dead, and they are starting to get replaced by people like Søren Kam, or another example, a man named Sándor Képíró. He was accused of taking part in the Novi Sad raid, but he claimed he only took names, and followed orders. In 2011 he was found not guilty, but his life was still pretty much destroyed, and he died later that year.
Why should we use our time prosecuting these people?  Like I said, the true criminals are probably dead, or soon dead. I think we should stop now, before we start to go after every person who served in the German army and the Waffen SS.

The difference between the formal and the informal text

The task also said we had to write why the first text was formal, and the second informal. The first text is written from a neutral point of view, It's only based on facts, and not my own opinion on the matter. In the unformal text, many of the sentences go like this: "I believe that...". This does not belong in a formal text. The language in the formal text is also more "correct". I don't use abbreviations (instead of "don't", I use "do not")

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The 15th Wisconsin

One of The 15th Wisconsin flags. The text says
"For God and our country"
Statue of Heg in Madison, Wisconsin
When writing my post about photography, I used some photos from the US Civil War. When reading about the photographer, I began (as I often do), clicking around on Wikipedia. One thing led to another, and suddenly I found myself looking at a regiment from the same war. The Regiment was "The 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment".
I knew that there was about five thousand Norwegians who fought in the war, but I had never heard of this union regiment, consisting of about 400 soldiers, with about ninety percent Norwegians.

The 15th was during most of the war led by Hans Christian Heg. He was born in Buskerud, Norway, and migrated to America in 1840 as a child. He was killed in 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga. In the battle the regiment lost almost fifty percents of it's men, and a total of  35000 men were either killed, wounded or captured on both sides. The regiment is apparently well known in the US, and there's a statue of Hans Christian Heg in Wisconsin.
The regiment was formed in 1862, and dissolved in 1865 when the war ended. Even though it was formally known as "The 15th Wisconsin", they were also called "St. Olaf Rifles" and "Wergeland's musketeers".
Most of the soldiers in the regiment were first generation immigrants, and had only been in the country for a couple of years when they joined the war. The regiment participated in 26 battles, and sustained heavy casualties throughout the war. In 1914 regiment survivors had their last big reunion, celebrating the one hundred year anniversary of the Norwegian constitution. 27 of them was still alive at the reunion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The burning of books

Book burning in Berlin

Why would someone burn books?

In the 30s and 40s, the Nazi government in Germany used many methods to oppress other political viewpoints than their own, one of them being book burnings. They're not the only ones who has used this method, but they are the most known example. One of the things thats special about the Germany case, is that normal people would be a part of these book burning rituals, and cheer while the books were being burned. This does off course not mean that all Germans accepted the burnings, but the Nazis didn't need to stop riots while doing it.
So what would the Nazis achieve by doing it? They did have one thing in mind, remove all literature being critic to Nazism, and remove all "Jew and Socialist literature", even if the books were neutral in politics. We must remember that the Nazis were elected legally with over forty percent, and that because of the hard times, and economic crisis, people needed someone to blame. Today we are starting to see similar things in Greece, Spain, Hungary etc.
When people wants to blame someone (in the ww2 case, Jews and left wing politicians), and it starts to escalate, there's easy for the people who's in power, or wants to be in power, to use this hate and escalate it even more. The Nazis called it "Action against the Un-German Spirit". The book burnings are therefore not only something the people wants, but the government gets to erase all other viewpoints. It's actually brainwash at a high level.

Comparing three different newspapers, from three different countries

Jamaica Observer, New York Times and the Polish newspaper Wyborcza, are three different newspapers, from three different countries. All three papers are big newspapers in their countries, and they write a lot about foreign news, especially when it comes to the presidential election I the US. Wuborcza writes a lot about Syria, and writes about how the rebels are doing etc. The New York Times also writes about Syria, but they are quite obsessed about themselves in foreign news, and don’t have a neutral point of view.
The Jamaican observer however, doesn’t write anything about Syria or other conflicts. But they do write about more local foreign news, like criminals in New York, and sports. When it comes to local news, the polish newspaper writes a lot about the government, and the prime minister, while the Jamaican newspaper are more obsessed with local criminality and culture. The New York Times are more focused with (as mentioned) the presidential election, school police, the jobless rate, and local “drama” between lawyers and politicians etc.

We found out that the newspapers are quite different, especially when it comes to foreign news. And while Wyborcza looks to be the most neutral, and most informative newspaper. The New York Times are obsessed with US-related news, and Jamaican observer focuses more on Jamaican news, and foreign local news.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The world in color

Color Photography

In my previous post I wrote some words about a few famous photographers, some of them being pioneers. However, all of the pictures I posted was i black and white, and after doing some reading, I found out that i should write about color photography as well. As I mentioned, I think photography(and off course motion picture), are great historical sources. When seeing them in black and white you see whats there, but somethings still missing. Today, many of the old photos are being hand colored, and then they look more "alive", so to say. But what I found out, was that there were several photographers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, who took real color photographs. Several different techniques were used, by several different photographers, and here are the most famous of them, and a some of their photos.

Maxwell's color photo of a tartan ribbon.

James Clerk Maxwell

Maxwell, who's a well known mathematical physicist, was also the man who took the first permanent color photo, and he did it in 1861. However, his technique wasn't perfect, and it did have some problems showing the color red. His technique was the famous three color way. Maxwell was, however, a physicist, and did not use his invention for photography, but to prove his theories about light and the human eye. Even though this shows the beginning of color photography, black and white would be the most common method the next hundred years.

Louis Ducos du Hauron 

Ducos photo of Agen, france. 1877
Louis Ducos du Hauron was a Frenchman and one of the earliest color photographers. He improved color photographing, and the use of The three color way. He patented a lot of different methods, and published them, I am not an expert in the techniques and how they work exactly, so that you have to read by your own. I should also mention that while Ducos worked on his methods, Charles Cros who was another photographer, came up with the same methods unaware of Ducos work.

I am more interested in the actual photographs, and not the techniques used to make them. And since I now have mentioned some of the inventors and pioneers, it's time to look at some of the people who used the ability to take pictures of the world, in color.  

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

One of the most famous, and well known early color photographers, was Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. He traveled around in Russia, and documented it in color from 1909-1915. He worked for many powerful people, including the Tsar of russia. Grosky took over ten thousand photographs in color, and the most famous of them is probably his photo of Leo Tolstoy, a famous Russian writer who wrote novels and short stories. I think its quite spectacular that theres a color photograph of a man born in 1828, and died in 1910, two years after the picture was taken.

Leo Tolstoy, 1908.

Self portrait of Gorsky by the Korolistskali River, 1912

A prison in Bukhara, Uzebkistan, ca. 1907

The Archives of the Planet

A man who did a lot to document the world in color, was the banker Albert Kahn. In 1909, Kahn traveled to Japan on a business tour together with his photographer Alfred Dutertre. He took a lot of pictures during the trip, and Kahn got the idea that would be known as "The Achives of the Planet". Hi
s plan was to send out photographers around the entire world, and photograph it in colors. He made Alfred Dutertre the project director. Between 1909 and 1931 they took over 72.000 color photos, and 183.000 meters of color film(moving picture) of the world, and they did so in 50 countries. Kahns photographers also got to document the First World War, which is a great historical source. Unfortunately he went bankrupt during the financial crisis of the 1930s, and his project stopped. The entire project is put on display in Paris, and is now a national museum.
French troops at Somme. WW1
Mongolian Hunter

Thursday, October 11, 2012

View from the Window at Le Gras

The invention of photography

La cour du domaine du Gras, the first known photograph
Taken by  Niépce
In 1826 a Frenchman named Nicéphore Niépce took the first known photograph. He had worked on the process for some while, but he had never made the image last for ever. The picture was taken at his estate, in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes. The exact location today is unknown. The invention of photography was the beginning of a new era, and today we take more pictures a day, than the first one houndred years after it's invention.

The historical importance of photography

I am, as i mentioned in my first post, extremely interested in history. One of the things i like to do, is looking at old photos, and study the people and the surroundings. The people, the clothes, the buildings, etc. All of this gives you a pretty good idea of how it was like being there, and can be a good source in history research.

The photos of war

One of the biggest subjects in history is war, and many of the most famous photos are war photos. These photos are often taken by war photographers, who risk their lives in order to bring the cruelty of war to the public. The first known war photographer was the Austro-Hungarian man named Carol Szathmari. He took pictures of the Crimean war(1853-1856), and he is also on the list of the ten first European photographers. His pictures mostly shows officers, and soldiers posing.
The first pictures showing the true horror of war, and not just posing officers and soldiers, were taken during The American Civil War. Alexander Gardner is the most famous photographer from the civil war, and he took many famous pictures of the battlefield. The last war photographer I will mention is Robert Capa. He is well known for his photos from the Spanish Civil War, The Second World War and the First Indochina War, where he also died. His most famous series of photos are "The magnificent Eleven". They are taken during the first landing on Omaha beach during D-day.
One of the "Magnificent Eleven". Omaha Beach, D-day
Taken by Robert Capa

One of Szathmari's photos from the Crimean War.
The photograph shows Turkish cavalrymen
Dead confederate soldiers at Antietam
Taken by Gardner after the battle
The home of a Rebel Sharpshooter
Taken by Gardner at Gettysburg

The civilian life

Even though photographs of war are important, i believe that the life of the civilians could be more interesting. How did for example immigrants from the late 1800s live in New York? There are many written sources, and when you think of it, its not so long ago, so oral stories are present. But pictures can tell you so much, and there are something different about seeing it, than reading about it. The most known photographer who took photographs of New York's slum, was Jacob Riis. He was a Danish-American Journalist, reformer and Social documentary photographer. His picture shows what happened to so many immigrants, seeking the American dream.
Another famous photograph who took well known pictures, ranging from sports to war, was Arthur Rothstein. One of his most seen pictures shows a farmer and his two sons taking shelter during a dust storm, in the hard times of the 1930s.

Three street boys at Mulberry Street, Manhattan
Taken by Riis
Taken by Riis off Mulberry Street in 1887
Taken by Rothstein in Cimarron County, Oklahoma,  1936
More photos:
Robert Capa: http://www.pbs.org/weta/reportingamericaatwar/reporters/capa/photo1.html
Jacob Riis: http://lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/slums-of-new-york/
Alexander Gardner: http://www.nps.gov/anti/photosmultimedia/Historic-Photogaphs.htm

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A School Story

Montague Rhodes James

R.M James was born in Kent, England, in the year of 1862. Most of his adult life he lived in Suffolk, where many of his ghost stories take place. He is famous for being one of the first authors who wrote more modern and "realistic" ghost stories, even though they might seem a bit cliché today. 
He worked as a Medieval scholar and provost at Kings college and Eton College. His works were mostly published in the early 1900s, and they are the inspiration source to many modern films and books. Today he is regarded as one of the best ghost story writers of all time.

A School Story

I have to say that I found the story more interesting than scary. I don't know if it's just me, or if ghost stories are a bit outdated. Maybe it's because I read it at school, which isn't the most scary place on earth. Anyway, i did find the story interesting, and entertaining.

The Story takes place in the late 1800s, maybe early 1900s. It's about two men who talks, and they talks about a possible ghost house. One of the men starts telling about his own experiences when he was a schoolboy in the 1860s. It takes place in the Latin courses of Mr. Sampson. One day there is an extra paper on his desk, with a scary message.
I won't write more about this, but you could call that the start of the main story.

Here are many famous stories, including this one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Unexpected ending, typical Roald Dahl

I have now both read and watched The Landlady, which was written by Roald Dahl and published in The New York timer, 1959. The dramatized version was made by Alfred Hitchcock in 1961, and aired as a part of his show "Alfred Hitchcock presents".

The greatness of Roald Dahl

I have always liked Roald Dahls's books and short stories. Ever since elementary school, we have been reading his books and short stories, or been listening to the teacher. Everything from "Matilda", to "The Landlady", I don't think I have ever had a bad experience with his writings.
Here is the two versions of The Landlady:
The dramatized version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSgNs8CvSVI
The short storie: http://annmic.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/the-landlady2.pdf

WARNING! SPOILERS!(lots of them, don't read unless you want to know everything that happens):

 The short story

The story is about a man who rents a room in the house of a old lady. He finds the old woman a bit peculiar, but still only think good thoughts of her. After a while he finds it odd that he is the only one there, and two names in the guest book sounds familiar. His starts to be a bit skeptical, but i guess he still finds it hard to doubt the nice old lady. His skepticism grows bigger when the woman explains that they are still living there, even though the guest book signatures were two years old. At the end of the story, the man comes down to drink tee, and as he drinks it he gets more and more dizzy. It is mentioned that it tasted bitter, like almonds, this probably means that it contains arsenic. He then notice the stuffed animals, and he says how great they are made. In the finale he asks if there really hasn't been any other guests there for two years, and she answers: “No, my dear, only you."

The dramatized version

There are some few differences from the short story, but not many. In the end, you understand whats happening much faster than in the short story. I think they makes it to obvious what's happening in the film. But i do understand that it may be difficult to dramatize this type of story in a good way. I would say they made it good, but not as good as the short story.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cultural and social values in Jamaica

Today we were working with social, cultural conditions and values in English speaking countries. My group chose to find information about Jamaica!
We have made questions that we will try to answer, and if you are able to answer the questions better than we are, please do!

Which religion is the largest in Jamaica, and is it important in the daily life?

64% of the Jamaican population are Christians(62% protestants). There are many different Christian movements ands cults, Rastafarian being one of them. Christianity is for many people very important in the daily life, and has been a part of the culture since the 1700s, when the Europeans brought slaves over from Africa. Since the Europeans were Christians, the slaves soon became to. On Jamaica they celebrate the Christian holidays, just like in other Christian nations. Exactly how religion affects peoples personal life isn't the easiest task to find out. If you know, please write a comment!

What's politics like in Jamaica?

The biggest political party in Jamaica is the PNP, or the People's National Party. They are a left-wing, labour party(like Arbeiderpartiet in Norway), but must not be confused with the second biggest party, the Jamaican Labour party ,Which is a conservative party(like Høyre in Norway). 

In Jamaica people are very active in the political questions, and they have a parliamentary government, based on the United Kingdom model. If any of the readers knows in what way people are active in politics, please write a comment!

What languages do they speak at Jamaica?

The official language is English, because Jamaica once was a British colony. Now, they are a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, which is an organization that cooperate with values and goals, such as promoting democracy and human rights. But, they do not speak the same English there as in England and USA. Most of the population consists of descendants of former African slaves, and immigrants from Asia and Europe. Therefor the English they speak at Jamaica contains many words from other languages, especially African languages. Another language that is used is called “patois”, which is a mix of English, African and slang words from many different languages. This can also be called “Jamaican creole”, and is the languages that is mostly used among friends, and in not formal occasions.
Does anyone in here know anything else about the languages they use at Jamaica? Are there any other languages than those I have written about?

What is a typical Jamaican teenager’s life like?

I believe being a teen in Jamaica is not that different form in Norway, or in USA. Being a teenager is mostly the same, no matter where in the world you are living, I guess is depends a bit of how wealthy you are. However, it seems that rules are a bit stricter in Jamaica than in Norway. We do not have to wear uniforms, which they do there. They are not allowed to bring cell phones to school, and may be beaten if they don’t obey the rules. But, this may vary from school to school, so I may not be right. How is the school system in Jamaica? I have read a bit about it on the internet, but I don’t really understand it. It seem sto me that they first have preparatory school, from 1. to 6. grade. Then they go to lower school and upper school, which is 7. to 11. grade. Then they graduate. I don’t know anything about how a normal day at school is, so if would be nice if anyone knew something about that.
I don’t really know much about how it is like being a teenager in Jamaica, so it would have been wonderful if anyone could help me out? If anyone from Jamaica is reading this, how is your daily life?

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Today, while sitting in front of my computer screen, I was listening to Bob Dylan's new album Tempest on Spotify. I am a big fan of Dylan, but I didn't know about this album until today. I guess that doesn't matter since it was released yesterday, on September the 8th. While listening to the album, I thought about writing a short post about it, which I did.

Tempest, by Bob Dylan

The first song on Tempest is called Duquesne Whistle. The intro to this song gave a sort of "Hawaiian" feeling, which I guess is the point. Anyway, like all the other songs on the album, it did not disappoint at all.
 Bob Dylan's texts are as always good, and even though he's getting older, his voice still got what only Bob Dylan's voice got. These songs are a bit more slow, and "elderly" than his previous songs, but I believe that's a good thing. They got great rhythm, and they makes you want to keep listening. The songs are absolutely beautiful, and I will be listening to them for a long time. My favorite song on the album must be Tin Angel. Exactly why I don't know, but I do love it. I do recommend this album to every Bob Dylan fan, but also to everyone who likes something bit slow, and awesome!

Here's a link to the first song on the album, Duquesne Whistle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vANZ-GGaOC0&feature=related

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The Korean conflict

These days, USA and South Korea has a big scale military exercise. North Korea is as usual not very happy with this, and threats with full scale war. This is not the first time North Korea does this. Two years ago they fired missiles at South Korea, and their relationship is not exactly getting better. With concentration camps, and the most guarded border in the world, North Korea is the worlds most dangerous dictatorship. A war would be devastating for both sides.

The Korean War 1950-53(The too short and easy version)

At the Potsdam conference in 1945, the allied forces of world war 2, decided to split Korea(partially occupied by Japan) into two parts. North Korea was communists and south was anti communists, supported heavily by the US. In 1950 a full war began, and the UN decided to support South Korea. US troops would represent almost 90% of the UN troops. North Korea was able to push heavily into the south, but was repelled. The war soon became stagnant, and except for heavy casualties on both sides, it didn't look like it would be won by anyone. Three years later not much had happened, except for five million dead civilians and soldiers. Both sides signed a truce, which is still active.

The modern conflict 1953-

Today the war is still going on, but there is a truce. The borders are still the same, and it is the most heavily guarded border in the world. This is what the whole modern conflict is about. US still have thousands of soldiers in South Korea, and if the truce is broken, both sides has nuclear weapons and are able to use them. Let us hope that's not going to happened.

The English dictionaries

The good, the not so good, and the ugly one

There's so many online dictionaries to chose from, many of them are totally crap, and the good ones often costs money. I will try to compare three different  free online English dictionaries, and hopefully find a good one. 

The Free Dictionary 

The first dictionary i found, was www.thefreedictionary.com. At first glance it looked a little bit chaotic, and not very user friendly. How ever, after looking around on the site, i found out that it has a whole lot of languages(i will only write about the English), and a lot of possibilities. On the left side of the site i found different categories within the English language. I clicked on "legal dictionary", and found myself looking at a list of some popular words like "income tax". If i clicked at "income tax", I found a whole article about the meaning of the word, how it is used, and what it is used for.
However, I could not search within the legal dictionary, I could only search the entire dictionary. I don't know why, but that was the case. So then i tried to search the word "Hi", and got a whole lot of different definitions. All of them making sense.
Expect from looking a bit old and a little chaotic, this dictionary is definitely acceptable.

                         The Cambridge Dictionary

The second dictionary i looked at was www.dictionary.cambridge.org. This looked much nicer than thefreedictionary.com. The site was smooth, and easy to navigate on. Like the other one, this had some different categories, but on this one you could easily search within the category you wanted. However, here i did not find whole articles about words like "income tax", only a short definition. So this site looked much better than the other one, but it did not have so many definitions or articles explaining  deeper. But i would recommend this if you just want to look up a word.

One look                          

The last dictionary i will look at, is www.onelook.com. When i went on the site, i came straight to a search field. I search the word "fish". Then i was told that they had found 98 English dictionaries, who contained the word "fish". I clicked on the first hit, and got redirected to a yahoo site, which said everything i needed to know about the word "fish". However, when i clicked on another link, i got no results at all.So what this page do, is redirecting you to another dictionary. So i would not recommend this site, since you have to click around until you find a good definition. Pages like the Cambridge dictionary, and the free dictionary are much smoother to use, and they have good definitions. Personally i think i would use the Cambridge dictionary.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hello from Sandvika!

My first blogg!

Today my teacher gave the news that everyone was going to make a blogg. It was going to be about the English class and what we do. I thought it was a fun idea, and even though I have never made a blogg in my entire life, or thought about doing so, i will do my best and hopefully succeed. Wish me luck!

Who am I?

My name is Ulrik, I am 16 years old and live in Asker, just outside Oslo if it means anything to you. I've just started at Sandvika VGS (it's almost like high school in the US), and so far it's awesome! I have a family, and my house is fifty minutes away from the school if you walk, but train or bus is the most common i guess.
At my spare time i do archery and politics. I'm also extremely interested in history.


As you already know, I live in Norway. It's a small country placed almost on the top of the world. And no, we don't have polar bears running around(except from Svalbard). It's a great country to live in, and there is not much to complain about, expect for the fact that there's to cold here in the winter.

So, that's all for now i guess... There will soon be more!