Tag Archives: US

Perhaps Drillo shouldn’t be named coach for life quite yet

On the heels of the great victory over Germany (in a friendly), Norway promptly lost at South Africa (2-1) and came from behind to beat Finland at home (3-2).

Although the FIFA rankings aren’t the most accurate system ever conceived, they do give a rough idea of the quality of teams. 

  • Germany: 2nd
  • Norway: 45th
  • Finland: 57th
  • South Africa: 72nd

If Norway hopes to qualify for the World Cup, it’s going to have to have a lot better results against teams worse than it.  I’m not sure these last two results are that good an omen.

In surprising soccer related news (via my favorite soccer blogger):

*According to FIFA, the country that has requested the most World Cup tickets (other than host South Africa) is the United States. Go figure. Britain is third, followed by Germany, Italy and Australia.

 

Vinmonopolet…aka one of the worst things about Norway

I’ve resisted posting about one of my least favorite things about living in Norway for a long time.  I figured that, even if I were initially skeptical, I would give the system a chance and see if it grew on me.  It hasn’t.

The basics:

  • Vinmonopolet (“The Wine Monopoly”) is owned by the government.
  • It is a non-profit enterprise.
  • Wine and liquor can only be sold in Vinmonopolet.
  • “Strong” beer can also only be sold in Vinmonopolet. 
    • What’s a strong beer?  Anything over 4.7%.  Yes, seriously.
  • “Weak” beer is the only alcoholic beverage that can be sold in other stores.
  • There are only 239 stores in all of Norway and only 24 in Oslo.

In short, the stores are horribly inconvenient, always have a long line, close at ridiculous hours, and have a terrible selection. 

For the government’s defense, click below.

Continue reading

Back in Norway soon

I’ve been in the US visiting friends and family for the better part of a month, but I’ll be back to regular posting once I return to Norway.  Until then, I’m enjoying the sunshine and warm weather of the US.

So this is why I have never heard of all these Norwegian traditions that are supposedly popular in the US

I’ve already mentioned that I love maps (and, again, if you have relevant maps of Norway, let me know) and this map is pretty darned cool.

(Click on the map for the bigger version that is easier to read.)

The map breaks down the most common ancestry in each of the counties of the United States.  As you can see, the light green representing Norwegian shows up in a lot of North Dakota, some of Minnesota, and a little bit of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Montana. 

The thing that prompted this map is a question I get fairly routinely in Norway: what is __________ like in the US?  The blank can be almost anything that people are curious about and, as a real-live-in-person American, I get to represent the Stars and Stripes in all blank-related matters. 

I usually try to give the best answer I can to these questions.  Often this is the not-very-exciting-but-still-true “it varies by region in the US.”  When it doesn’t vary and there is a fairly consistent American pattern, however, I try to give that as well. 

This all brings me to Christmas and Christmas traditions.  Lately, I’ve heard of several Scandinavian traditions that I thought were not celebrated in the US, but it turns out that they are actually celebrated in the Upper Midwest.  It has usually prompted a second Norwegian to correct me about my knowledge of the US.  A bit embarrassing, but that’s what happens when you get a southerner to speak on behalf of the whole country!  (Note the distinct lack of Scandinavian ancestry in the South.)

So, North Dakotans, why don’t you quit reading and go dance around your Christmas tree or something, eh?

Cluster bomb treaty signing

The first of more than 100 countries are expected to sign a treaty banning the stockpiling and use of cluster bombs in Norway’s capital, Oslo.

Campaigners are hailing the treaty as a major breakthrough.

But some of the biggest stockpilers, including the US, Russia and China will not be among them.

Norway generally prides itself on its international legal commitments (except whaling), so having a grand signing in Oslo is not surprising.  Just as unsurprising is that the major military powers of the world will not be signing the treaty. 

For a country like Russia or the US, this type of widely signed multilateral treaty has some norm setting effects, but neither is really worried about Norway or San Marino dropping cluster bombs anyway.  They really just care about each other, China, and some rogue non-state parties who might have access to the weapons.

While a change in administration in the US could mean a change in policy in relation to this treaty, more than likely change would require corresponding change by Russia and China as well.  This change would be welcome because of the devastating effects cluster bombs often have on civilians.

(In the sometimes surreal world of the Chinese media, this article and this article appeared on back to back days in the state run media agency, Xinhua.  To recap, China is NOT signing the treaty.)

Happy Thanksgiving

One unforeseen consequence of the spread of American culture is that many erstwhile American holidays are now celebrated around the world.  For instance, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day both developed into major events in the US, but now are celebrated in the American style in many countries.  Then there are the holidays that weren’t truly American to begin with, namely the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter, which are celebrated throughout the Christian parts of the world. 

Of the big American holidays, that really leaves just the 4th of July and Thanksgiving as true American holidays.  As a result, today is just another Thursday in Oslo.  Everyone is at work, no big celebrations are planned, and there won’t be any football on TV. 

Which all makes me feel ambivalent.  On the one hand, I’m sad that I won’t get to experience those traditions this year.  On the other hand, I’m thankful that we Americans get to keep this part of our culture as our own.  In such a multicultural country as the US, it’s nice to have a uniquely American holiday to bring all the diverse groups together.  After all, for one day a year, you can never get enough of the “hypersweetsweet potato casserole with fluffy marshmallows on top, the cranberry sauce, or the perhaps-too-dry turkey.  It’s enough to make you want to fall asleep on the couch watching football.

(But aren’t you having a makeup Thanksgiving in early December with your fiancee’s family?  Yes, but it’s still not quite the same.  And it would ruin the blog post.)

Here’s a gratuitous picture of a cartoon turkey:

"USA! USA! USA!"

You couldn’t quite hear it, but I’m sure that’s what the Prime Minister was chanting late last week.  Either that or I can’t understand what all the controversy was about.  Let me back up a bit.

Several times over several months, I had seen a picture of a fighter jet on Aftenposten’s website accompanied by some text about “USA.”  Finally, I asked my fiancee what was going on.  She replied that she hadn’t opened any of the articles, but it was some silly debate about whether to buy fighter jets from the US or Sweden. 

“Huh?”

I couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my head around why anyone actually cares.  Isn’t this exactly why we have representative governments?  To avoid situations where the masses are analyzing competing bids between Lockheed Martin (USA) and Jas Gripen (Sweden) on replacements for Norway’s F-16 fleet?  What are the odds that anyone you stop on Karl Johan’s Gate actually has any idea about the requirements necessary for new jets, the quality of each company’s bid, or even the overall budget for Norway?

(Is that enough rhetorical questions yet?)

The only thing I can really come up with for why the public cared so much about this decision is either the standard anti-American sentiment or pro-Scandinavian sentiment.  Some have mentioned ethical arguments, but arguments for the existence of an ethical warfare company are stretched at best.  In the end, Norway chose Lockheed Martin’s bid, saying that it was the only one that fulfilled all of Norway’s requirements and it was cheaper.  Not mentioned, but a likely factor is that Norway was a partner in the jet’s development, contributing $122 million.

Score one for pragmatic decision making.