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, November 26, 2013

Edublog awards- best teacher and student blog

For the 2013 edublog awards, I nominate my teacher Ann S. Michaelsen for the best teacher blog!
Check out here blog here: http://annmic.wordpress.com/

For the 2013 edublog award, I nominate my fellow student Haakon H. Bakker's blog- related signals.
Check out his blog here: http://relatedsignals.com/

Monday, November 4, 2013

Grand Torino

Last week
we  watched the movie Grand Torino. Starring, and directed by Clint Eastwood, the movie takes place in Detroit- where Walt Kowalski(Eastwood), a old man and Korean War veteran, who is angry at the world lives. His new neighbours, a Hmong family, makes his life take a sudden turn.
For more info on the movie- look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gran_Torino
My assignment is to answer five questions related to the movie, so there will be lots of spoilers ahead-  be warned!

 • How would you describe the relationship between Walt and the priest? How does this relationship change during the movie?

Our first meeting with the priest is at the funeral for Walt's wife. Walt clearly disapproves of the priest's age- and later he states that he is just  "an overeducated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold the hands of superstitious old ladies and promise them everlasting life." However, the priest apparently promised Walt's wife to make Walt come to confession- a promise he would not break.
But Walt's view on the priest, and the church itself, is not very positive. However, the priest keeps pushing Walt, and eventually they have a talk about life and death- a subject Walt has much experience with. As the time goes by, Walt accepts the priest as a person, and although Walt may not accept the church, he seems to find peace when he goes to confession at the end.

• Walt tells the priest that what haunts men is not what they are ordered to do, but what they do when not ordered to do
something. What does he mean by this?

Walt served in the Korean War, a war which is often referred to as "the forgotten war". Like any other war, the Korean war was terrible- especially for the civilians, and like in any war- soldiers did on both sides did things they should not have done.  In war your true face comes forth. Will you kill a civilian if ordered to? Will you kill a civilian if not ordered to? In every war throughout history, the answer unfortunately turns out to be yes. And it don't have to be the question on killing civilians either, it could be to burn down a house, or maybe kill a enemy soldier you didn't have to kill. Of course, some people do these terrible things simply because they are plain evil persons- like the SS death squadrons, such as those in SS Division Totenkopf, during ww2. The SS is known for their brutality towards civilians during the war, and most of the divisions were put together by volunteers. Thousands of  young men, including Norwegians, took part in massacres, well knowing it was massacres- and not necessarily with orders to do so. Though ww2 may be a special case cause of the organizing and the scale of it,  similar things happens in almost every armed conflict- with or without orders. In the Korean war, no one had any goal to exterminate a whole "rase", like in ww2- but it still happened civilians were killed on purpose. Civilians could be killed in anger, or they could be killed in the heat of a fight. In war soldiers tends to get more brutal, and maybe develop a hate towards the ones they are fighting- especially if you are at the front for a long time, your psych will suffer- and you end up doing something terrible, perhaps together with your fellow soldiers, and without orders. The killing of surrendered enemies was probably the most common case.  When at the front, Walt probably saw a lot of this. In the movie he says, when describing Korea and death, that you'll never forget killing a seventeen year old with a bayonet- and he clearly regrets this action, even though he probably had to do it. He probably saw much worse things, and he because of what he tells the priest, we can assume that he took part in things he was not ordered to, and that were not necessary  .

• After the attack, Walt gets a haircut and shave, gets a new suit and goes to confession. What is the significance of these actions?

By doing these things, he marks that he is at the last stage of his life. He wants to look good, and he want god's forgiveness before doing what he have to do. He want to go down with style, and he want's it to be meaningful.
By cutting his hair and shaving, he does something common- but still something he will do for the last time. His new suit is tailored, and he says he's never had a special made suit before. It could be compared to how we treat our dead, before we, for example, cremate them. Humans have a need to "go down with style", and if we can decide when to die, we'll buy the suit before- and not after.

• What does respect mean to Walt? What does respect mean to you?

Walt is clearly a man of the old guard- he likes respect, and he think you should earn it. However, he does not seek respect for being a veteran- but for being who he is, and I agree with that. Of course, there is different kinds of respect. I could respect someone for something they believe, or something they have done- but not necessarily for everything about them. Like anything else, it's complicated. 

• Walt calls his son after going to the doctor but doesn’t discuss the visit with him. Why do you think that he didn’t share the news
about his illness? Under the circumstances would you have acted differently? Why or why not? Have you ever had big news that
you changed your mind about sharing?

He probably didn't want to tell them, because he had to do what he had to do. Nothing could get in his way, and his mind was made up that this was the end for him. However, he most likely felt that he had to talk to his son for the last time. They did not get along very well, but for Walt the last phone call was probably much like his last confession. He probably also felt that it wouldn't do any good telling. He was going to die.
I have no idea what I would have done- but I like to think that I, if in that exact situation, would have done the same. It would not have done any good telling, and for his son to hear him in a nice way over the phone(usually they'd argue), was probably the best way ending it.

Yes, I've had news and changed my mind, and since I changed my mind, I am certainly not going to share it here! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nelson Mandela- before his imprisonment

Everyone has heard about Nelson Mandela- the man who conquered apartheid, and became the first black president i South Africa. When he was released from prison, after 27 years, he became the leader of ANC(African National Congress), and started negotiations with the president in order to abolish apartheid- the negotiations ended with an multiracial election in 94, which ended with victory to Mandela and the ANC. His story after his release and election is well known- but what was his life like before his imprisonment?

The start of Mandela's political activism

Mandela was born in 1918- but I will start in 1940. After getting to know that an marriage had been arranged for him, Mandela fled to Johannesburg, where he worked in the mines- getting his first sight of "South African capitalism in action". He was later fired, because he was a runaway. In Johannesburg, he befriended ANC activists, and members of the communist party. He did, however, not become a member because of the party's atheistic beliefs, and the fact that he saw the struggle in Africa as an racial conflict, not a class struggle. When studying law later on, he became friends with several other liberal, white, communist Europeans, and he also became a member of the ANC. Mandela did however still believe that the fight for political self-determination should be done by blacks only, not involving the communist party. In order to mobilize the youth, African National Congress Youth League was founded in 1944- and Mandela became a member of the executive committee.

The 1948 election

In the whites only, general election of 1948, the National Party came to power. Clearly racists, the new government expanded racial segregation with the new apartheid legislation. Mandela, who had worked his way upwards gaining more influence in the ANC, started together with his fellow members, to advocate and take direct actions towards apartheid- such as strikes and boycotts. With a new, more militant, board coming together in the ANC, the organisation moved towards a more revolutionary path. In 1949, Mandela became much more involved in politics, and as a result of this he failed his final year at the university, and was thrown out.

The road towards a more violent path

In 1950, Mandela became president of the ANCYL, and he argued against a united front with the communists- however, he was outvoted, and at some point he changed his view on things completely. His mistrust towards communism broke down, and he was heavily influenced by Karl Marx, Lenin, Mao etc. In 1952  ANC started their Defiance campaign- encouraging people to ignore the apartheid laws. In protests, supporting the ANC, 8500 protesters were arrested- after the campaign, ANC's membership grew from 20.000 to 100.000. Later on the same year, Mandela and 20 others were arrested under the new "Suppression of communism act", and sentenced to hard labour.
in 1955, Mandela asked the ANC leader to request weapons from China- so that the ANC could start guerilla warfare

Umkhonto we Sizwe- Spear of the Nation

In 1961, with inspiration from Castro's 26th of July movement, and the Cuban revolution, Mandela co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe(MK)- which over time became the armed wing of the ANC- with most of it's members being communists. Mandela and the other leaders of the MK decided to start with acts of sabotage directed at the government- especially military installations and power plants- with the use of bombings. They would do this at night, to avoid as much civilian casualties as possible. Mandela did however express, that if these tactics were to fail, they should move towards a more openly "guerilla warfare and terrorism".
In their first campaigns, they bombed a subway station- and on the 16 December  1961, they detonated 57 bombs- however few civilians were killed. Their attacks went on for 18 months- as a part of their campaign for a full constitutional change. In the later 60s, the MK were suppressed in South Africa, but they continued to exists outside of the country, fighting against the Rhodesian army, among other things. 

Mandela was however arrested in 1962, and was first accused of arranging worker strikes and other minor charges, but later on he was also accused of sabotage and guerilla warfare- risking death penalty. Outside of South Africa, Mandela had a huge amount of support- and the trial ended with him being sentenced to life imprisonment.

The MK continued with bombings directed towards the South African government until 1986, killing 130- of these 100 civilians, with over 60 of them being black. In 1994, after the fall of apartheid, the MK was integrated into the South African Army.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Peace One Day

Jeremey Gilley is an actor, a filmmaker, and the founder of Peace One Day. A non-profit organisation that wants to make, well, peace in the world. We were lucky enough to have a Skype meeting with him in our class, where he told us about the project.

Peace One Day was founded in 1999, with the idea of having one day of non-violence, ceasefire around the world. Gilley sat down with many powerful people, such as Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and the UN-Secretary Kofi Annan, and they made a resolution for the UN. It was presented in 2001 by Great Britain and Costa Rica in the UN, and was adopted. The 21 of September would be the official Peace day.
The first years, nothing major happened with peace day. But in 2007 a ceasefire was accepted for one day in Afghanistan, and the Taliban agreed not intervene when the UN and the Afghan government gave 1,4 million children polio-vaccination, in areas normally unreachable due to the war.
This year, more than 600million people was aware of Peace-day. And what Gilley said, was that peace day is not only about war, but also about your home, and your personal life. Surveys reveal that when you know about peace day, you will behave less violent on that day. Peace day has become a great international event, and in 2016 Gilley think 3 billion people will be aware of the day. If people think of peace, it will be peace!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Think before you act!

thinkb4u is a very informative website that definitely learned  me a thing or two. On the website you learn about the dangers on the web, by following a family through videos. After each video, you are given a question, and the next video reflects your answer.
The following paragraph is from the about page, and it gives you a clue of what answers you'll find

As more of our life happens online, Internet skills are crucial to living responsibly. What are the skills needed to navigate today’s Internet society? How can parents and educators teach themselves, their families, and their communities about important topics like identity protection, fraud detection, and digital citizenship?

Not only is the site informative, it has a beautiful design as well. It's easy to understand, and there is something for everyone. By experience I would say adults probably are in most need of this site though. Everyone can learn something, but adults are often struggling most with the internet norms! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Visit from the Norwegian minister of foreign affairs

On Tuesday 03.09.13,  the minister of foreign affairs, Espen Barth Eide(Labour party), visited our school. Well over 200 students gathered in the gymnasium, where a stage was set. Eide then had a long presentation about Norway's foreign politics, and our role in the world's global issues, with focus on the ongoing conflict in Syria. 

The Syrian civil war

Eide opened with informing that he had just arrived from a meeting with other northern foreign-ministers, explaining that they dictated a letter, as an appeal, to the UN security-council, demanding that the UN must deal with the fact that chemical weapons has been used in the conflict. He also stated that Norway has a responsibility to react to the use of chemical weapons He would however, not answer to what kind of reaction he had in mind when asked, other than mentioning different possibilities, such as sanctions or a military intervention. With Afghanistan still fresh in mind, Norwegians are sceptic to an intervention without UN-mandate, and Eide did express this in some way. He also stated that there has been to little focus on the foreign-politics in the election campaign, which unfortunately for Eide ended with conservative victory yesterday, 09.09.13. 

Norway's role in the world

During his presentation, Barth Eide expresses his concerns with the possibilities(now reality) of a conservative victory. Not only because he would loose his job, but because Norway's role in the world would get significantly smaller. Norway has had an important role in the negotiations between Israel and Palestine, the conflict on Sri Lanka and the conflict with FARC in Colombia among others. With a new government, he said, we would probably be much more EU, and less UN oriented. This could mean the end of negotiations with both HAMAS and FARC, which are both considered terrorist organizations by the EU. The new conservative government has also promised to cut much of development aid, which he also expresses his concerns for. However, unlike Norway's diplomatic role, development aid has been discussed much in the media. Nevertheless it's a fact that with the new government soon in place, Norway's international role will change. If that's a good or a bad thing, you will have to decide on your own.

Monday, September 2, 2013

They stood up

This week we watched the movie "Erin Brockovich". It tells the true story about the fight against PG&E, a massive energy-corporation, which was responsible for leaking poison into the drinking water, making lots of people sick. It ended with PG&E loosing in court, having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to the victims. Erin Brockovich has become a symbol in the fight against big corporations, and a proof that one person can make the bad guys pay. However, she did not do it alone. She had the help of lawyers, and financial help to make the case come through. But, i guess you need help if you are going to change something. Now, I will write about three other figures in history, all of whom stood up against something bigger than themselves.

I'll start with a picture we all have seen. Perhaps the very symbol of this subject. The tank-man, as he is known as, stepped out and blocked a Chinese tank-column on the day after the army had suppressed the Tiananmen square protests(June 4, 1989). His fate is unknown, except that he was dragged away by two men in blue attires.

Helmuth in center
The second person in my post is Helmuth Hübener, leader of the "Hübener gang". Helmuth was born in 1925 in Germany, and did as every other youth did, he joined the Hitler Youth. But, as the years went by, he started to question the Nazi-regime. The Kristallnacht, in particular, made an impression on him. In 1941 he started listening to enemy broadcasts, and together with some friends, he started writing down the British programs and making pamphlets, which were distributed in Hamburg.
However, in 1942 he was discovered translating pamphlets into french by his colleague at work, who was a NSDAP member. He was reported to Gestapo, and arrested. He was sentenced to death by the People's court in Berlin, and after the sentence had been given, he said to the judge:
"Now I must die, even though I have committed no crime. So now it's my turn, but your turn will come." Helmuth was executed by guillotine two months later.

The last person i will mention is Ehren Watada. He is not as famous as the persons above, and that's the point. I feel he needs to be mentioned, because he did something that probably required a lot of strength at the time.
He was the first officer in the US army to refuse deployment in Iraq. He said the war was illegal, and that by participating in it, he would be part in war crimes. He was offered deployment in Afghanistan instead, but refused that as well. He also refused a desk job in Iraq, to show that it was not about getting away from combat.
Watada ended up being court-martialed, charged with desertion and "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman". The judge said that the question could not be solved in the military justice system, and ruled a mistrail. After a second trial, not leading anywhere, the case was dismissed by the Justice Department, under the new Obama administration. Watada ended up being discharged from the army.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Butterfly Circus

In our class this week we watched this: http://thebutterflycircus.com/short-film/ short film, created byJoshua Weigel andRebekah Weigel. The movie tells the story of a traveling circus, led by circus director Mendez, in the US, during the hard 1930s. When stopping by another circus' carnival, they meet a man with no limbs, named Will(played by Nick Vujicic). He his the main attraction, presented at a freak. After meeting Mendez, Will decides to leave the show, and join Mendez. However, Mendez does not want him to perform as a freak, but as himself. By accident, Will learns how to swim, and this becomes part of his new act where he jumps from a pole, down into a water tank.

The point of this movie, is to show that all people deserves a chance. Will's life probably got saved by Mendez and his circus. Instead of being laughed at, he got to do something that made people look up to him. He was no longer a freak, but a talent. This is something that's often forgotten in our society. All people are the same, and everyone should be given a chance, 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hi again!

Aight.. So this is my second year at Sandvika High, and this year I have chosen many of my new subjects. So, in addition to the mandatory subjects, I will learn History and Philosophy, Politics and Human Rights, and of course, more English! This also means that I will start writing on this blog again, which is great!

So for this years first post, we have been given the task to write about "Being young in Norway, an my expectations for this school year".
I could write about young people in general, but that would be like "we go to school, some of us work, and we hang out with friends", which of course could be interesting, but I will write a little bit about my life as a young person in Norway as well. 

I live not far from Oslo with my family, or my two families that is, since my parents are divorced. I am 17 years old, and to be honest life is going great! In my spare time I do hang out with friends, but I am also practicing archery, and I am active in politics. In few weeks there will be an election here in Norway, so I am quite busy in the weekends with political work. But, I don't think most young people in Norway are doing what I am doing, so I am hardly a part of the norm. But who is, right? I mean, Norwegian youth are doing everything from just hanging out with friends, playing soccer, to politics. Personally I think being young in Norway is great!
This summer I was in Crete, and at my party's political summer camp, which was awesome(short summary). Unlike many countries in Europe Norway is doing it well economically, which means Norwegians travels all around the world during our summer vacation. But, now the vacation is over, and it's back to school! I think this year will be great, and filled with exiting days and really interesting subjects. I am looking forward to it, and my expectations are high!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Can we be more aware of social inequality by watching movies?

Last week we watched a movie called "The blind side". The movie tells the story of Michael Oher, and how he became a football-player. But, it also shows the huge differences between people in the US.
The movie takes part in Memphis, a city with much poverty. Michael, who's mother is a drug addict, lives in the poor part of town. After a while he gets help from a rich family, and becomes a really famous football player. (That was the extremely short summary. Click on the IMDB link for more info).

The point is that by seeing that movie, you'll get an insight in the divide between poor and rich people in the US. There are huge amounts of movies showing the differences in the world, and yes, I think that by watching them, you can be more aware.
By watching historical movies like "Angela's Ashes", which is set in Ireland during the 40's, you can learn much about Ireland's history, and how its poverty created a class divide. By watching "Slumdog Millionaire", you'll learn about Indias problems, and how enormous the differences are there. Like any other subject, there's always a movie you can watch to learn more about it. However, it's up to you to exploit your new gained knowledge, and do something about the problems out there!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My reading of The book thief

I have now, finally, written a review of The book thief, including this task given to us by the teacher: This post will include spoilers btw.
  1. Write an entry on your blog. Call it my reading of…..(name of book)
  2. Make a table and in the left hand column write 4 different paragraphs from the book from each of the following topics: Theme, setting, plot and character development.
  3. In the right hand column write why you chose that particular paragraph and its significance in the book.
  4. End the blog post by writing a small summary of your impression of the book!(I am writing it at the start, since making columns with HTML is a hazzle.) Make it out as a review and post it on Amazon! Would you recommend this book to others? Link to the review on your blog.

    My thoughts about the book:
    Reading the book has been both interesting and exiting, especially since I have a special interest in history. Reading about a you girl in Nazi Germany, with the narrator being Death, really gets to you, and drags you into the book. It is quite long(540 pages), but you shouldn't let that stop you from reading it. It is worth it! The book is simply magnificent, and the author Markus Zusak has done a terrific job writing it.  

Theme:I could introduce myself properly, but it's not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A colour will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.
Setting:A horizon of Nazi flags and uniforms rose upwards, crippling her view every time she attempted to see over a smaller child's head. It was pointless. The crowd was itself. There was no swaying it, squeezing through or reasoning with it. You breathed with it and you sang its songs. You waited for its fire. Silence was requested by a man on a podium. His uniform was shiny brown. The iron was practically still on it. The silence began. His first words: Heil Hitler! His first action: the salute to the Führer.
Plot:With a typical fistful of words, Rosa said, "Now listen, Liesel - from now on you call me Mama", she thought a moment. What did you call your real mother?" Liesel answered quietly. "Auch Mama"-also mama. "Well, I'm mama number two then."
Character development:Occasionally he brought the copy of Mein Kampf and read it next to the flames, seething at the content. The third time he brought, Liesel finally found the courage to ask her question. "Is it - good?" He looked up from the pages, forming his fingers into a fist and then flattening them back out. Sweeping away the anger, he smiled at her. He lifted his feathery fringe and dumped it towards his eyes. "It's the best book ever." Looking at Papa, then back at the girl. "It saved my life". The girl moved a little and crossed her legs. Quietly, she asked it. "How"?

Theme:To me, this book is about two things. The power of words, but most of all, Death. This is from the book opening, and as you probably understand, Death is the one talking. Throughout the whole book, Death is the narrator, and therefore I find this paragraph quite significant.
Setting:This paragraph says much about the books setting, which is Nazi Germany in the late 30s and early 40s. It takes place at a book burning(Look at my old post, "The burning of books"), and you really get the feeling how it was like. You can imagine how Liesel feels like, standing there with all the books going to be burnt. This particularly event leads to her second book, taken from the ashes of the fire.
Plot:This paragraph marks the beginning of Liesels new life, meeting her new mother and father. At this early point of the book, understanding what happened to her real parents, is something you can only guess. However, this marks the beginning of her survival as an adopted daughter, in a poor family, in what is about to become the bloodiest war of all times.
Character development: At this point in the book, something quite dramatic, and dangerous, has happened. Liesels family is hiding a Jew in their basement, who is also the son of a friend of Liesels father, from the First World War. In this paragraph, Liesel asks the question, from which the Jew tells the story of how he ended up in their house. From this point, Liesel and the Jew(Max), becomes almost friends. The paragraph marks a turning point in her life, and is one of many steps towards her become more independent, and mature.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

There will soon be more!

I haven't written anything here for quite some time now, and I apologize! The last weeks we have been working on a project, which has taken up all the time I normally would have used on the blog. I will soon write a review of "the book thief", and hopefully become more active on the blog again!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The first impression

I have now received "The book thief", and read the first chapter. So far, I find the book interesting, and I will not hesitate to continue reading. The author has an interesting way of writing, that really catches my attention. That's all I'll write for now, since have just began reading!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A day's work

Today, our teacher Ann was not in class, because she's on a trip to the US. Therefore, we've been told to write what we have done in today's class on our blog.
So today, Haakon and I wrote about how teachers can record their students during a presentation, or ask them to record at home. We looked into different programs to use, and how it can be done easily for both the teacher, and the students. We believe that recording the students, makes it easier to asses the students after the presentations. We also looked into how the teacher can record themselves, so that the students can access it later.

The whole document became about two pages long, and we will use it in a project the class is working on. I will probably write more about this later!

If you have any thoughts about recording in class(or anything else), please share on the comment section ;)
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My reading project

For this semester, we have to read one of five different books, and I have chosen the book called "The book thief". The book is set during WW2, and the main character is a German foster girl, living outside of Munich. She uses her time stealing the one thing she cant resist-books. She learns too read from her foster father, and share her books during bombing raids.
The book has only good reviews, but I chose to read this book mainly because of the historical setting, and my interest for ww2. Hopefully it's as good as the reviews says, and I am looking forward to reading it.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Hirohito on his white horse, during an army
inspection, 1938
7 of January, 1989 the Japanese emperor Hirohito died. He had then been emperor since 1926, and led the country trough the most important parts of the 20th century.

When Hirohito became emperor, Japan had already become a great nation, with one of the worlds best economic situations and biggest and most advanced armies. He led the country the same way as those before him, and even though Hirohito had limited powers, he was the head of Japan during the Second World War, which they lost. After the war, he was not sentenced for war crimes, and remained emperor. And it's his reign after the war he is remembered for. Despite his role during the war, he became a symbol of the new Japan, a Japan that rose up from the ash, and became the second largest economy in the world.