tisdag, mars 30, 2010

CERN and the LHC research programme

Today marks a special day in the history of the CERN laboratory near Geneva.
It's the first attempt for collision at 7 TeV, in order to 'recreate' the Big Bang, as this event has been described.

First of all we remember the last attempt in 2009, when some scientists even said that there were a risk for creating a 'black hole', not controllable.
Even if this was exaggerated - something we as laymens don't know - this is a high-risk project.
The scientists working at CERN reassure us that there are no major risks at all but again scientists have always said this when describing there different research projects and their predictions concerning safety or other negative aspects related to their scientific work, are seldom correct.

We do have to remember though that scientists are often driven by the same fanatic instincts as religious or political fundamentalists.
They aim at the Nobel Prize, fame or money or all of these and who is supervising their work?
In this case as in so many others, the citizens of the world should have the possibility to access information more easily concerning the different processes, their risks and advantages.
Most scientists - even more so concerning military research - would say that this is impossible as the information could fall into the hands of people who would use it for their own purposes, setting aside laws and regulations.
They would also say that laymens doesn't understand their scientific work and therefore this information is superfluous.
This last possible remark, concerning laymens inability to understand, is of course correct to some extent but this should only lead scientists to become more eager in explaining and being pedagogical - before going on with their reserach.
Not least telling the truth concerning the magnitude of the risks.

As this is seldom the case, surveillance of these projects should be hightened.
Governments should have armed forces, exterior experts, judicial expertice and members of organizations opposing the actual research, placed at - in this case - CERN in order to ensure that the 'scientifical risk-taking' is minimized when manipulating forces as strong as this.
Most people would say that this is to exaggerate but we have to keep in mind that all kinds of research affects us, sometimes in a positive way but very often negatively.
This insight in combination with the above mentioned about the 'scientifical fundamentalism', should lead us to straighten up the supervision of scientists and their work.

The particle accelerator - what is it good for?
Well first of all we have heard - as I wrote above - that this apparatus could lead to the solution of questions concerning how the Universe was created and with all due respect, we have more urgent questions to solve than that.
This is a playground for less grown up boys and girls, playing around with toys costing billions of US dollars!
Secondly one have put forward the possibility for a solution to our energy problems, creating energy much more 'clean' and less dangerous than the 'traditional' nuclear energy we use right now.
I don't know if this is correct or not but as always this arguments stems more from the wish to make this huge experiment, this huge toy, more acceptable in the eyes of the public.

CERN has a budget (according to some figures) of 9 billion dollars(!) and this particular project is estimated to cost 4,4 billion US dollars(!).
It's the most expensive experiment in the history of man and even if one find an alternative source of energy, this will not be put into use for long and still one have to ask oneself if these huge amounts of money couldn't be used in a better way.

Personally I do think so, regarding the situation in the world: Poverty, starvation (there are more poverty at this point in history than ever according to many figures); war, injustice, totalitarian regimes, environmental crisis etc etc.

Someone would perhaps say that those questions should not be related to the scientific research at CERN, as the one doesn't exclude the other.
However, when discussing poverty and starvation in the world, political leaders and citizens in wealthier nations often state that it's impossible or almost impossible to solve this problem as it would affect the world economy extremely negative.
When it comes to advanced toys for 'big boys and girls', one can always find money!

I would like to end this with a couple of quotes from Albert Einstein:

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

måndag, mars 29, 2010

Män som hatar kvinnor/ The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo

Now I've seen the second part of the first episode - The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo - of the adaptation for the movies of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy - and this time in Swedish (with French subtitles, French television).

I'm not at all impressed - thinking about the good publicity both the books and the film have received - but there are some good acting and some good settings and I would really like to underline 'some', as most of the acting is indeed mediocre.
This goes not least for the main characther Mikael Blomkvist (Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist) but also for a great number of the other actors involved.
Noomi Rapace does indeed impersonate Lisbeth Salander better than Michael does Mikael and she is one of the best actors in the film but she is by no means 'stunning' either.

I also feel that there are flaws when it comes to the direction and sometimes the cues sound somewhat stiff and doesn't at all correspond with the, sometimes, strong sentiments displayed on the screen.
This might have to do with the director - Nils Arden Oplev - or the actors or both.
The mise en scène could have been much more elaborated and executed in a more thrilling way.
Now I feel that the tension disappears, not least in scenes that could have become very exciting and even shocking.

I have read the first book in the trilogy and Aurore all three and they haven't impressed on us. The last one is the least bad, Aurore says.
I will follow the other parts in this trilogy, through French television and I really hope that they display a higher quality than this.

If I could here my voice? Well I 'doubled' some voices but to concentrate on that wasn't my goal. I know that I did the voice of one of the furniture removers helping Mikael Blomkvist moving in to the small house near the Vanger family; a police man; a truck driver; some people on 'Stureplan' in the center of Stockholm, talking about the headlines on the newspapers etc. and in the third and last film, I participate during a party at the editorial office of the Millenium newspaper.

lördag, mars 27, 2010

Verification number two

Today we went through the different parts of the car, exteriorally, including those under the bonnet.
This was - of course - somewhat more difficult than the interior parts and it's very important to give detailed answers, in order not to lose points during the exam.
As the test has changed there are a lot of details the inspectors will look very closely at.
When it comes to driving economically or ecologically, this is required of us (as I wrote in connection to verification number one). The problem - not such a small one - is that none of the teachers or inspectors know what this actually means as they have no schooling concerning this requirement!

(Photo car copied from: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_ARAJOGAUoG4/SPWxKlflV6I/AAAAAAAACLY/aIEf5MORPTY/s400/Dsc00244.jpg)

torsdag, mars 25, 2010

Sture Linnér dead

Sture Linnér (Wikipedia in Swedish: Sture Linnér) was a diplomate during many years working close to Dag Hammarskiöld, Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953-61).
The same day Hammarskjöld toke the aeroplane in order to negotiate cease-fire in Katanga, a break-away state of Congo at the time, he told Linnér - who was with him that day - to stay at the spot where Hammarskjöld embarked, not going with him.
This saved Linnér's life.

Besides his diplomatic work, Linnér was also one of the foremost Swedish connoiseurs of Greek culture, professor in the greek language and literature.

Aurore and I met him in 2008 at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm during an evening around the Greek poet Cavafy and his work.

We were invited by the former executive of the Swedish Institute in Paris, Carl-Henrik Svenstedt.

Aurore and Svenstedt knew each other from a mailing list and when Svenstedt needed someone to translate some parts in a book he had written (from Swedish to French), Aurore helped him with this.
Linnér was one of the speakers that evening.

(Photo Sture Linnér during his younger years copied from: http://www.fokus.se/t/i/440/2010/04/MINlinner.jpg)

(Photo Dag Hammarskjöld copied from: http://image1.findagrave.com/photos/2008/17/6074_120072998712.jpg)
(Photo Cavafy copied from: http://img.poemhunter.com/p/96/6796_b_1667.jpg)
(Photo Carl-Henrik Svenstedt copied from: http://www.moviebox.se/_photos/intervjuer/svenstedt.jpg)
(Photo Sture Linnér during his later years copied from: http://sverigesradio.se/diverse/appdata/isidor/images/news_images/2071/267699_366_250.jpg)

torsdag, mars 11, 2010

Cinéma Nordique

Today we are leaving for Paris and later on Rouen.

In Rouen we are going to visit the Nordic Film Festival, Cinéma Nordique, a film festival Aurore visited every year between 2000 and2004.

In Paris we are going to attend the meeting with the Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist ('Let the Right One In'/'Let Me In' or in Swedish: 'Låt den rätte komma in', photo left), later adapted for the movies by Tomas Alfredsson.

A couple of exhibitions or at least one at the Cinématheque Française.

We are also going to meet my two first cousins once remowed, both living and working in Paris and having so done for ten respective fifteen years. In spite of them being around 35 years old, I have never met them before!

You can read about this on our joint blog.

(Photo copyright: http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2007/03/09/john_narrowweb__300x393,0.jpg)

måndag, mars 08, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Now we know that 'The Hurt Locker' became the most rewarded film and that Avatar didn't win in any of the major categories.

Some say that this was because it had become to commercially succesful but on the other hand, this has never stopped The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when it comes to rewarding films.
I'm however quite satisfied with this development.

The Hurt Locker was of course a film, not only with a current topic but also appealing to an American audience as it more depicts the soldiers being dedicated to their dangerous work in Iraq - not least the bomb disposal expert William James (Jeremy Renner) - not as being a bunch of trigger happy maniacs. This is a guess from my side as I haven't seen this film.

From a french point of view, it was good to see that 'Logorama' by François Alaux and Hervé de Crecy won in the category Best Animated Short Film. Congratulations!

Another positive surprise was that Sandra Bullock won in the category Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in the film The Blind Side.
This not least as she only a couple of days ago(?) was rewarded the so called Razzi Awards as wors actress in the film All Abolut Steve!
Even if she has acted in some very mainstream and light comedies I think she's a magnificent comedienne and well worth this award - that is to say the Oscar not the Razzi.

(Photo Kathryn Bigelow copied from: http://nighthawknews.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/kathryn-bigelow.jpg)

(Photo Sandra Bullock copied from: http://image3.examiner.com/images/blog/EXID6814/images/sandra_bullock.jpg)

And the winner is.....

Tonight is the night for the Oscars once more.

For us cinephiles, this is no special evening as it always has been and still is the American Championship of Film - with a few exceptions - with one singular reward for Best Foreign Film.
It's the American Film Industry 'showing off' this night and when it comes to rewards if's often very predictable.
American films are by no means bad but they are seldom innovative and if they are, it's more thanks to those independent directors who still try to develop the Seventh Art into something different, something unique, with a special aesthetics and style, separating them from the mainstream directors whos only goal is to please all and noone - 'all' being the ordinary pop corn-eating film goers; 'noone' being the cinephiles.

Among the nominated films, I'v only seen Avatar and I have written about that film before but on our blog, Aurore's and mine: http://auroregunnar.blogspot.com.

The other nominees are:

The Blind Side, director John Lee Hancock. Seems to be 'the American Dream-Film'. The fantastic country - USA - giving everyone a chance to succeed!?

District 9, director Neill Blomkamp follow the monster-vampire-zoombie-trend we've been living in for a long time now. This trend will probably continue until the 'crisis' in the Western world is over?

An Education, director Lone Scherfig from Denmark, seems to be some kind of Lolita-story but maybe I'm wrong. Might be interesting as Scherfig has made some interesting films before, notably 'Italian for beginners'.

The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow, is one of the very talked about films. Very up to date topically. She is somewhat up and down when it comes to her œuvres I think. Strange Days being one of her most interesting films in many ways, also a very 'up to date'-story, topically, at the time.

Inglourious Basterds, director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino can also be a very interesting director but he also has his clear ups and downs. This film seems to be a very mainstream film but I haven't seen it so I shouldn't say.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, director Lee Daniels. A feel good film, depicting the overweight girl being pushed around but in the end becoming 'something' or 'someone'?

A Serious Man, directors Joel and Ethan Coen. This film might be interesting but this statement is only made after reading about it and studying the plot. They have a special aesthetics however the brothers.

Up, director Pete Docter, co-director Bob Peterson. An animated film but I don't know much about it, unfortunately. Fun though that we have an animated film among the best films award. I give the Oscars committee an eulogy for this.

Up in the Air, director Jason Reitman. With George Clooney in one of the roles, this must be a film everyone likes or...? He does have some humoristic talents however, mister Clooney. I was not imprest by Juno by Reitman but this is another film and maybe better. Juno became very appreciated in Sweden and it won the Audience Award at the Stockholm Film Festival in 2007 (besides many other awards around the world).

Then there are all the other prizes but that's another story. Tomorrow we'll see who the winners were.
It's often a great show however, this must be said!
Starts within an hour now.

lördag, mars 06, 2010

Vérification number one

Today I made a theoretical test at Auto Ecole Chauvet in La Châtre, concerning the different parts of the car, interiorally.
This meant finding different buttons and indicators and so on.
We were four persons, three young french women and me.
The problem is that I sometimes misunderstand or confuse different words referring to different functions on the car.
The test went well however and now I will wait until I get back from my visits to Paris and Rouen (11-21/3), for another four or five drivings lessons, another theoretical test and the examination in april.
New rules concerning the examination has been launched, meaning that the inspectors very closely will look at our 'economical' or 'ecological' driving among other things.
My impression is that the exams have become more complicated and versatile.

(Photo car copied from: http://www.leblogauto.com/images/cayman_s_poste_de_conduite.jpg)

fredag, mars 05, 2010

Ships stuck in the ice

Around 20 ships have been stuck in the ace, in the Baltics, outside the coast of Sweden the last 24 hours.
The snow and ice is thick and it's quite cold in Stockholm yet, around minus 14-15 degrees Celsius.
I'm not missing this part of Sweden, the winter with snow, ice and freezing weather.
Particularly not in a town like Stockholm, where the snow very soon turns grey and black from dirt and polution.
I'm satisfied living in the middle of France with at least plus 8 at the moment and plus 17 a couple of days ago!

(Photo ships in the ice copied from: http://www.hallekis.com/xx100304-fartyg.jpg)

La prisonnière, Clouzot

'La prisonnière' by Henri-Georges Clouzot is an extremely interesting film from many points of view.
We saw it - Aurore and I - in French television tonight.

The story mainly circles around three characters, namely Stanislas Hassler (Laurent Terzieff, the name Hassler surely refering to both 'hustler' and Hasselbladh, the camera constructor), the owner of an art gallery; the artist Gilbert Moreau (Bernard Fresson) and the latters wife Josée (Elisabeth Wiener).
In the gallery, Hassler display modern art, with fascinating forms shapes and patterns, often mobiles.
In the depiction of the events at the art gallery, the art itself seems to be more alive than the visitors.
Nothing extraordinary perhaps, as a great number of visitors to an art gallery are people with money but no profound interest in the art itself.
These art events however becomes real happenings with celebrities and wannabees in every corner.
Gilbert starts flirting with another woman but his wife Josée discover this and in turn she starts meeting Stanislas.
In Stanislas home, filled with art from different parts of the world, Stanislav unfold a somewhat - in other peoples eyes - bizarr interest, photographing women in different subservient situations.
Stanislas is also an emotionally fragile person with recurrent emotional shifts, hidden behind the facade of a man with great self confidence and a big ego.
Although Josée finds it somewhat strange, not least when he invites another woman to pose for him, she stays on, fascinated by this mysterious man.
She is repelled by but on the same time attracted to Stanislas and his model.
Is she a victim or does she let herself be victimized?

What is explored in this film is both the world of art, the superficiality but also dependence, submission, our sexuality, the one we recognize and the one we don't recognize or try to bundle off to our subconscious areas.
The film is filled with colours, mainly red, green and black, in clothes and interiors, this both as an artistic ingredience but not least to express different emotional states, particularly concerning the women and notably Josée.
Between the two men - Stanislas and Gilbert - an interesting discussion concerning fidelity and exploitation of women, or rather one woman, Josée, emerges. Has neither of them treated her good or bad and what parameters should we use to decide this.
Clouzot is a formidable 'painter' when making films, using both the camera movements, angles, colours and music in a very interesting and intriguing way.

I warmly recommend it to those of you who regard yourself being cinephiles.

måndag, mars 01, 2010

The Birthday of Frédéric Chopin

Today we celebrate the 'second' birthday of Chopin.
According to his birth certificate he was born the 22nd of February but according to other sources the 1st of March.
The latter sources say that his birth certificate is false and therefore we celebrate him today - and the 22nd of February too.

(Picture Chopin copied from: http://www.my-angers.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/frederic-chopin.jpg)