Category Archives: norwegians making international news

Fantastic article on a forgotten Iraqi

From the Financial Times:

Today, al-Kasim is well known and liked within the older generation of Norway’s oil community (for whom his impromptu visit to the Ministry in May 1968 has entered the folklore). Beyond that limited circle, however, he is virtually unknown. The big newspapers have not profiled him; an internet search reveals little. I first learned of his story by coincidence, when a Norwegian development official mentioned him in an off-hand remark. The government has an ambitious aid programme (now called “Oil for Development”) to help poor, oil-rich states manage their natural resources. The official pointed out the irony in this, given that “it was an Iraqi guy who helped us set everything up in the first place. Without him we would just have let the American oil companies decide how to do things.” What a great story, I thought, almost too good to be true. But if it was true, how come so few people in Norway knew about it?

Time for people to learn about the Iraqi who saved Norway from the misery of other oil states, Farouk al-Kasim.  As the article notes, “Farouk is perhaps the greatest value creator Norway has had.”


Well this is awkward for the normally mild-mannered and somewhat inconspicuous Norwegians.  Norway is a huge favorite heading into Saturday night’s Eurovision Song Contest.  Norway is certainly used to playing the underdog role in almost every competition since raping, pillaging, and plundering went out of style about a thousand years ago.  But favorites?  Not so much. 

After a strong performance in Thursday’s semi-final and securing a second-half draw in the final, Norway are now Sky Bet’s odds-on favourites at 10//11 to win on Saturday. 23-year-old Alexander Rybak is the hottest favourite the competition has seen since Cliff Richard and ‘Congratulations’ and it looks like Eurovision will be heading to Oslo in 2010.

You’ll note that at 10:11, the bookies don’t quite give Rybak a 50% chance, but it’s really close. 

Around Oslo, I know several people throwing Eurovision parties this Saturday.  Unlike the usual Eurovision atmosphere which consists of enjoying some alcohol, laughing at ridiculous eastern European performances, and hoping Norway doesn’t embarrass itself, there is a marked tension in the air. 

We’ll see how Rybak handles it.  He nailed his semifinal performance:

If he can do it again, Oslo will get to have a schmalz contest huge party next May in addition to the usual festivities on the 17th.

Alexander Rybak

And we’re back after a brief outage to format the hard drive and install Windows 7.  The biggest news during our absence?  A certain singer looking to make history for Norway.

Alexander Rybak won the Melodi Grand Prix, Norway’s qualification show for the Eurovision song contest.  Not only that, but some commenters are calling “Fairytale” a favorite heading into the competition in Moscow in May.

Here’s a link to his performance.  The song invokes traditional Norwegian music and the dancers match with aspects of traditional Norwegian dance.

Concert summary

Good show, particularly for a band that has been together for only a year.  The only real problem was that it was much too short at approximately 25 minutes.  I realize the festival has tons of acts at lots of venues, but 25 minutes is barely enough time to let an artist get warmed up.

That being said, by:Larm is still going on today and tomorrow and it is possible to see a lot of bands in a little time. 

Headed to see My Little Pony tonight

While I don’t have a ton of disposable income, for those that do and love music, the by:Larm festival/conference is fantastic.  You get to see tons of Nordic bands over 3 days at fairly reasonable prices.  It’s a great way to hear lots of new music and support bands trying to make it.

I’ll be doing my part by attending a show by the aforementioned My Little Pony.  If their sound in the studio translates even decently well to the stage then it’ll be a great show.

Here’s a video from them:

Nobel Peace Prize and Human Rights Day

December 10th.  Peace Prize day.  It’s the one day every year that the world turns its attention to Oslo.  For those of you planning on joining us in Oslo, the forecast for today is a balmy 23F/-5C. 

(I can only imagine how excited the Norwegian Tourism people must have been when they initially heard that the Peace Prize would be awarded every December 10th. 

“You mean we get one a shot a year at showing off the beauty of Norway and you guys picked #!*%ing December 10th?  It’s cold and dark and miserable!  We quit.”)

Martti Ahtisaari will receive the award later today.  If you’re interested in watching live, click here

December 10th is also known as Human Rights Day, in honor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948, marking today as the 60th anniversary.

So go out there and celebrate, wherever you are in the world.  If you can’t make it here, I’ll have a 65 kroner (~$9) beer for you. 

Oil fund down for the quarter (from the department of misleading headlines)

Again, I wonder, why is this newsworthy? 

The fund lost 7.7% in the 3rd quarter, while the “MSCI World Index fell 16 percent in the quarter and Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slumped 12 percent.”

So, essentially the fund did a good job in a tough monetary environment.