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  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Social "International Interview" Thread--All Are Welcome!

Discussion in 'FanForce Community' started by Pensivia, Jun 20, 2016.

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  1. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Yes, I believe so. It's supposed to be stored cold and under pressure, probably to prevent what you describe. I'll get back to your question about immigrants further down, but first, I would like to address Skiara's final question.

    I have made some minor modifications in my prior answers where I've encountered errors or where I've felt the need for some elaboration. The post I've changed the most since first posting it is this one.


    3. The image of the Nordic countries and their environment protection, although there are different things in the news rarely. How is it from your point of view?
    Well, Norway is a mixed bag when it comes to environmental sustainability. On the one hand, we only have 4-5 fossil fuel-driven electricity plants in the country, run by gas (as in actual gas, not short for gasoline). Most of our electricity is provided by hydroelectric dams. There are also some powered by the heat from waste disposal incinerators. Waste has to be burned anyway, so why waste the heat? On the other hand, we are one of the largest exporters of oil and gas, and the revenues from that sector are what enables our standard of living and welfare state. This is not the only uneasy dichotomy of Norway. We hand out the Nobel Peace Prize, but are munitions exporters. We have signed a treaty banning ourselves from using cluster bombs, but manufacture and sell them to countries that have not bound themselves to such a commitment. We exceed the bounds of emissions limitation agreements we have agreed to abide by, but that's fine because we pay our way out by buying larger 'emissions quotas'. This is in reference to the Kyoto agreement, I think, but don't quote me on it. Our government is also exploring further regions offshore for oil and gas drilling; both off the coast of the Lofoten islands in the north, and in the Arctic, in a scramble against the US, Canada and Russia.

    We don't have that many wind turbines. We for some reason believe them to be an unacceptable sullying of our natural scenery. But not everywhere is the Hardanger fjord, and a lot of other countries have decided to use them without feeling this way, such as our own Scandinavian neighbours. That is a shame, because although hydroelectric dams are clean in terms of emissions, they also disrupt the natural ecosystems of the areas behind and ahead of the dams. People should be more open to the idea of wind power. And, given that Norway is blessed with such a long shoreline, not all of it has to be on land. Wind farms can be built offshore. Even the waves themselves can be exploited for energy the same way rivers are exploited in dams. For now, though, there is seemingly no need to make any further measures. We produce a surplus of electricity, such that we even export to neighbouring power grids.

    Something I'm particularly pleased about is that because of tax policies incentivising ownership of electric cars, we have the largest per capita ownership of electric vehicles of any country in the world. Mind you, it's not that the government subsidises electric vehicles. Rather, regular vehicles are taxed so highly that electric vehicles, which anywhere else in the world are more expensive than their combustion engine counterparts, end up in price parity here, because they are tax free. :p

    The salmon in the Norwegian Sea used to be endangered due to overfishing, but now we have fish culture farms where they are bred.

    In sum, some good, some bad. But I think on the whole Norwegians are a bit too satisfied with themselves. Many of us think we somehow are a beacon of environmental sustainability, which is clearly not true. We could certainly improve.





    Can you please tell us about immigrant communities in Norway and how they influence the local culture?
    Well, Norway has too small of a population, and likewise Oslo is too small a city, to have distinct neighbourhoods dominated by one ethnicity like Chinatown or Little Italy, the way one finds in the US and other places. By far the greatest concentration of immigrant communities is in and around the capital. This is, however, not unique to immigrants. Although Norway's population is relatively well decentralised, about half of the population lives within a two hour drive from Oslo, and the general trend is people leaving the countryside for the cities.

    Technically, Swedes, Danes and Finns are the oldest immigrant communities in Norway, and in a sense they are invisible immigrant populations because you can't tell by appearance that they're foreigners and they're practically the same in a cultural sense. That said, Finns, who mainly came to Norway during the famine of the 1860s, used to face discrimination and ridicule in the past, as did the Sámi, but the influx of more distant immigrants in the early 1970s changed that. I've even heard from northerners that the influx of migrant workers in the 1970s and 80s saved their reputation and made them more accepted among southerners. You would find vacancy posters in Oslo, for example, that would state "northerners need not apply". And this was not just referring to the Sámi, but even to ethnic Norwegians that were from the north. It seems everywhere in the world, prejudice is relative. There's always a new group to retroactively make the previously maligned group accepted.

    The post-war boom led to a need for guest workers, and beginning in the late 1960s, Norway announced that it was open for foreign labour. I think the prevailing assumption among politicians at the time was that these would work for a while to save up money and send back home, and then return. But they mainly stayed and established new lives in Norway. Among these first waves of non-Nordic immigrants were Turks, Moroccans and Pakistanis. Turks and Moroccans would turn out to favour Germany and the Francophone world, respectively, and therefore their influx to Norway was not that large. But Pakistanis soon became the indelible image of immigrants in Norway. By 1975, the need for guest workers was fulfilled, and work migration was stopped. So, since then the immigration policy effectively shifted to one of only accepting refuge immigration. However, Vietnamese refugees kept coming, and were also among the early immigrants to Norway. The number of immigrants taken each year have varied depending on world events and migration waves, but in the last two decades the policy has generally been not to admit any more than we absolutely must under UN obligation.

    During all of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the image of an immigrant in the Norwegian consciousness would first and foremost be that of a Pakistani or a Vietnamese. In the 1990s, refugees from the wars in Somalia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and later Kosovo saw waves of immigrants from these regions, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s led to a massive influx from these two countries, particularly Iraq. All the while, since the EU's adoption of the Schengen area free flow of labour, workers from the continent have come and gone. When Poland and the Baltic states joined the union in 2004, work immigration from these countries took off in much of Europe. In Norway, Polish immigrants now outnumber the Pakistani community. They often work in construction.

    The refugees and workers from Eastern Europe have significantly changed the makeup of the immigrant population in recent decades. Today, the largest immigrant communities are from Poland and the Baltics. Scandinavians remain the second largest group. Particularly in the years after the 2008 financial crisis, it was very lucrative for young college age Swedes to work in Norway for a year or two to save up money. The Norwegian currency was very favourable against the Swedish Krona for a while. For about 3-4 years after 2008, it seemed that all restaurant and retail staff in Oslo consisted of Swedes. Since these were so often young, attractive, party-loving people, "party Swede" became a colloquial term. :p

    Pakistanis and Vietnamese originally came in such large numbers and have since grown, that they remain the largest non-EU communities if you count third generation children. Somalis, Iraqis and Afghans are the largest communities of the newer arrivals. Refugees of the Balkan wars (Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania), Iranians and Turks (of which half are Kurds) are smaller groups. Another statistically significant group are so called "import wives" from Thailand and the Philippines. Enough men marry women from these two countries to make them among the largest statistical immigrant populations.
     
  2. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    I have changed the previous post significantly, and this is a continuation of that post, so read that first before reading this one.

    Regarding how immigrants have affected the larger culture, like most places in the world, their effect is mostly felt in introducing the society at large to new cuisine. White people have not taken up celebrating Diwali. :p There is, however, one unmistakable effect immigrants have had, and that is in changing the white man's preferred midnight snack from hot dogs to döner kebabs and shawarmas. Such is also the case in Norway. The city council wanted to force takeaway shops to close at 3 AM a while ago. It was unsustainable. The increase in midnight fires due to drunk heating of frozen pizza, led to the council going back on its decision. Do not separate a Norwegian from his bender kebab, if nothing else for the fire hazard! :p It is a sacred institution. A somewhat unique element of Norwegian döner kebabs is that they include corn for some reason, and everyone seems to love it this way. I suspect it's due to the fact that vegetables, being so expensive here, makes canned corn the cheapest ingredient you can put in it. :p

    Another aspect of immigrant influence is the colourful slang and accent of immigrant kids. Norwegian kids growing up in heavily immigrant-populated neighbourhoods gradually adopt this vernacular too, much to the dismay of their parents, I imagine. :p There is a distinct generic immigrant neighbourhood accent that for some reason sounds the same no matter the kid's country of origin. This is a phenomenon that is not caused naturally, but rather, the broken Norwegian vernacular and accent of the early immigrant communities has become the cool way to speak. You can compare this to a similar phenomenon in Britain, or to African-American vernacular and ebonics, I guess. I grew up with this accent too and used to switch in and out of it growing up, depending on audience.

    As for other influences, I can't really mention any. As I said, it seems to me in general around the world, only cuisine acts as cultural currency. It's not like Norwegians are walking around in Indian sari shawls or anything. :p And this is natural, really. Minorities usually assimilate more to the majority than the majority adopts minority culture, so that is to be expected. There are some musical artists that are immigrants, mainly rappers, who have crossover success. Not to the same degree as in Sweden, though, where my impression is that immigrants have become a more accepted and integral part of the societal fabric than here.

    The main way you feel the presence and effect of immigration on society is the amount of ethnic grocers and restaurants in all towns of a certain size, and the fact that most all of low paying and/or unskilled professions are occupied by immigrants. That is a new reality. I'm also certain that all this influx of people from around the world has exposed the native population to new cultures and perspectives in a visceral way that is profound and invaluable. But it's an intangible effect, and therefore impossible to measure.


    This turned out to be a lot of text to answer a simple question. I hope it was what you were asking for, otherwise I'm going to cry. [face_plain]
     
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Yikes, corn in kebab sandwiches? :eek: I didn't need to know that!

    Oh, and that wasn't a long-winded answer at all! I think you covered pretty much everything I wanted to know :)

    A few more questions from me about Norway (I also want to ask about Iran, but I'll wait a bit):

    You mentioned above that "vegetables are so expensive". At the same time I imagine that Norwegians don't live on brown cheese and fermented shark only, so what does the staple Norwegian meal look like?

    You also mentioned high taxes and high prices. I've never been to Norway, but everyone I know who's been there says that EVERYTHING is expensive in Norway when you come from the rest of Europe, from bus tickets to booze. So my question is, what is considered expensive by Norwegians and what is considered cheap going by the local living standard? Conversely, what public services do you have that you feel justify such high taxes?

    And a question related to nothing in particular, about the Norwegian language. I understand that Norwegian isn't really a unified language, it consists instead of many dialects, is that correct? Are all the dialects taught in school, depending on the area? Are people expected to speak and/or understand more than one dialect? How is this handled once you get to university? Are all the dialects mutually intelligible, or are some more obscure than others? What about the Sami people?
     
  4. Gamiel

    Gamiel Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Introduce us to something you enjoy from Norwegian popular culture (any type of popular culture--TV, film, music, sports & leisure activities, etc.) that those outside of Norway would not likely be familiar with and tell us why you like it.
    (Once again a stolen question)

    Oh, I did not know that Strings was Danish-Swedish-Norwegian-British co-production


    I am sorry to disappoint you, I have not seen it. I know of it and would like to see it but it is one of those movies that did not play when I put on the TV when I was young.


     
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  5. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Well, that's a relief! I'm glad to hear that. :)

    Gamiel, you want to help me out with this? Before handing this question over to Gamiel, I should clarify that the cost of food in general is high here as a proportion of wages. Food takes up a smaller part of your living costs in the US, for instance, than here. Dairies, vegetables and fruit, in particular, because the cost either has to support Norwegian wages, or they're imported and the price has to cover the import costs. It's a catch-22. All fruit except a handful few is imported, and Norway is far away from the countries of origin, which in turn increases import costs. Plus, Norwegians are not the most avid consumers of fruits, herbs and vegetables anyway. Immigrant grocers achieve lower prices for these goods because they import in larger quantities at a time than the supermarkets do. They know that the immigrant clientele they mainly serve, come from places where fresh fruit and vegetables are abundant and have food cultures that value this highly. I guess you can count that as among our contributions to Norwegian society; cheaper vegetables.

    This is difficult to answer, because when everything is expensive, as you say, then how is anything particularly expensive? If everything is expensive, then nothing is expensive. I think what you've witnessed is, rather, the Norwegian love of complaining at display. Us and our first world problems, sitting in a tree... Everything is expensive here, compared to the continent, and tourists coming here are always shocked by the prices, but our own wages are also high enough to account for this, so it balances out. Yes, booze is taxed exorbitantly here, but the Viking bender forces the government's hand. Half the year, the sun sets at 4 PM. It's still dark in the morning when we go to work and it's dark again by the time we get off. It's a melancholy existence. If not for taxes, we'd be drunker than the Russians! :p

    As for what services he have; we have subsidised health care coverage for all (but dental care is not included), free education even in the tertiary level, nearly interest free student loans, where 1/3 of the loan is forgiven as a stipend if you graduate and a very comprehensive social safety net. Dental care is free and in fact with mandatory check-ups every three years up to the age of 20. Public transportation is as cheap as it can be, considering how few people live here. The operating companies have to make their money back through ticket purchases, and there simply doesn't live enough people here to cover the cost of the level of service our public transport systems offer. As is, the Oslo city council covers half of the operating costs of the city's public transport. Our country is long and sparsely populated, which necessitates car ownership in most of the country, but in the cities, there is a concerted effort to incentivise public transportation, both for environmental reasons and to counteract congestion.

    One of the disadvantages of being a small (and decentralised at that) population, is that there are not enough of you to make you a lucrative market. The investment needed to offer you goods and services, versus the return you can expect, is simply not justifiable. That's why in the US, with a population of over 300 million, you can find an aisle with 200 different kinds of cereal in the supermarkets. Offering services that comprehensive in a country of 5 million is simply not profitable enough for anyone to do it, which is why our public transport systems simply have to be supported by the state.

    Correct. In reality, you can really consider all three Scandinavian languages a dialect continuum, rather than three distinct languages, and the internal dialectical diversity within the countries support this view. Watch this helpful primer on the languages by a very sharp language enthusiast. With the development toward nation-states and standardised national education in the modern era, this continuum aspect has gradually gone away as people on either side of the border are exposed to their respective standardised written language. This happens all over the world. But it used to be that the transition from Norwegian into Swedish and Swedish into Danish was a fluid transition of dialects from place to place, rather than the stark boundaries created by modern life.

    All Norwegians understand each other's dialects, although some people from more obscure rural areas might use a few words that people from other parts of the country are not familiar with. In those cases they'll just ask. Unlike, say, Germany, where news presenters on television are expected to speak Standard German, Norwegian policy is geared toward preservation of dialectical diversity. The written language is standardised, but speaking in your regional dialect is encouraged, and considered quaint. It's particularly endearing to Norwegians when immigrants have regional dialects.

    There are two standard forms of written Norwegian:
    The main form is Bokmål (book language), which is closest to the dialects of the eastern part of the country around the capital. These dialects are very influenced by Danish, as is the written language. Bokmål, in effect, is what you get when you read Danish with a Norwegian pronunciation. It's a Danish-Norwegian hybrid that developed during the 400 years of Danish rule. (After independence, Norway entered into a union with Sweden, but internal governance was more or less autonomous, and only the crown and foreign policy was really shared. So the Swedish language was not imposed on Norway during this time.) After independence, the spelling of Bokmål was gradually standardised phonetically closer to how Norwegians pronounce the words than their original Danish spelling. The Bokmål form is preferred in most of the country.

    The minority form is Nynorsk (New Norwegian). After independence from Denmark, the pragmatists wanted to continue using Riksmål ("National Language", the name of Bokmål at the time) as the standard language, while nationalists wanted to purify the language of its Danish influence. They wanted to standardise it closer to the regional dialects to reflect how the language had naturally evolved in parts of the country unaffected by Danish. Makes sense. To achieve this task, a man named Ivar Aasen went around the country, documenting how people speak, and set out to create a standardised written form that would be an amalgamation of all the dialects. The words that were most commonly used across all the dialects for a given thing or concept were chosen to be the standard. Nynorsk has been expanded numerous times over the years to include new synonyms and new accepted spellings, many of which are the same as Bokmål, to the extent that many now question the point of the form. If Bokmål words and spellings are now accepted, why have a separate standard at all?

    Nynorsk is most commonly used as the standard written form in the westernmost counties of the country. No matter what is your primary standard, you are obligated to learn the other standard as well, as your secondary form, from middle school and through high school, much to most people's chagrin. You will be tested on spelling and conjugation, and must write a paper in your secondary form in a final exam each year. It's infinitely easier for those with Nynorsk as their standard form to write in their secondary form, because Bokmål dominates the news and media. For those with Bokmål as their primary form, learning to spell and conjugate words correctly in Nynorsk is no different to having to learn correct Swedish orthography and grammar. It's a lot of practice, all to learn to correctly render a language in writing that they can readily read and understand without problem anyway, and thus feels like a waste of time and effort.

    All communication by the state must be available in both forms. Some is also available in Sámi. Government websites always have buttons to change between Bokmål and Nynorsk.

    In the three northernmost counties, I believe public communication is offered in Sámi as well, but it might only be in the one county furthest north called Finnmark. Road signs are bilingual in Finnmark. The public broadcaster has both television and radio programming in Sámi, but it's mostly in the daytime hours, and there is a short evening news broadcast in Sámi for local news. The Sámi have their own elected parliament for Sámi affairs, but it only acts as an advisory body to the national parliament.

    The northernmost university in Tromsø offers some courses taught in Sámi and they can give exams in Sámi, but the Sámi are not large enough in numbers to justify accommodation to their language across the country, and most of them can no longer speak their native language, having assimilated to Norwegian. It's a little known fact that half of the Sámi actually live in and around Oslo. They don't look distinct enough to stand out, so you can't tell who is and isn't, and they have Norwegian names and surnames. There is a revival movement going on to reinvigorate the languages. Compounding the problem is that the Sámi language itself has dialects, like South Sámi, that disappear with the northern form becoming the written standard.

    As for Nynorsk, local newspapers in the western counties are typically in Nynorsk. A couple national ones are as well, but these are niche and not widely read outside the Nynorsk strongholds. News presenters with dialects closer to Nynorsk get their scripts written in standard Nynorsk. If their dialect is closer to Bokmål, their script will be written in Bokmål. Half of the foreign programming will be subtitled in Nynorsk in the public television channels. Privately run stations are not required to do that. Incidentally, the fact that we subtitle foreign programming rather than dub it over is a major contributing reason - possibly the main reason - why Scandinavians in general are that much more proficient in English than, for instance, Germans.
     
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  6. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    I've already mentioned Norwegian films I have seen that I've liked. I like that Norwegians are reserved and private people. Many dislike that about them, and they often lament that about themselves too, but I like it because I am that way myself too. So that's a cultural aspect I'm fond of. I wouldn't survive more than a week living in Iran. Not just in Iran, but anywhere where the climate is warmer, and people are in closer contact with each other, the culture is automatically more tight knit because of it; the Mediterranean, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia; everyone's in each other's business all the time. I can't stand it. Everyone's meddlesome...

    I tend to like Norwegian satire, but that is obviously something that doesn't translate well to an international audience, as satire is usually local. I don't watch any TV shows.

    But here, take a look at this:




    Edit: This post was probably a little disappointing due to the little relative effort I put into it. I'm simply a little worn out by the questions. I'll come back to the thread in a few days.
     
  7. Skiara

    Skiara ~• RSA FFC •~ star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 5, 2002
    You are doing great work, Violent Violet Menace! [:D]
    Taking a little break after writing almost a whole book by answering questions is earned very well! :)
    Thanks a lot! [:D]
     
  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks so much for the detailed answers Violent Violet Menace! I have a gazillion more questions for you, but I think you deserve a break too. I'll be back in a few days with a vengeance [face_devil]
     
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  9. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Intermission bonus:



    Edit: also check out the Tesla video I added to the post above, and the video about the Svalbard global seed vault in the first page.
     
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  10. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Alright guys. The court is back from recess, and you may resume your questioning. The school year has started again for me, though, so I won't be able to give as detailed answers now as I did before.
     
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  11. Pensivia

    Pensivia Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Hey guys! I'm baaa---aaack (partially lol). Many thanks to Violent Violet Menace for all his thoughtful posts and for carrying the torch of this thread on in my absence. And also many thanks to those who kept reading and participating!:D

    Actually, the reason I'm posting is that I was thinking perhaps that what this thread needs is a format change. As VVM mentioned leading up to taking his "break," it can feel a little "overwhelming" at times for the "interviewees" to try to get into the "answers" to people's questions deeply. And I know even just as host, sometimes I felt a little burdened at having to make sure things would keep going (coming up with "new" questions if the previous interviewees didn't want to contribute questions, etc).

    So maybe those of us who are interested in keeping something going can brainstorm and come up with a different format that would allow people to go "in and out" of the thread when their time allows. Maybe like a "question of the week" (or month, lol) that anyone could chime in on. Or just some other kind of general framework for discussion that would foster interesting exchanges but not be so "formalized."

    In short, I not only don't want to "lose" this thread, but I'd love to see it even grow further if it can, and in a way that makes it really easy for anyone and everyone to participate (no big "time commitment" involved). I will PM Skiara about this and she what she thinks.

    I also have to note that, given events in the US over the past several days, I feel more than ever an impulse to "reach out" and connect with like-minded people (who value diversity, mutual respect, etc.). I feel like these are such dark, dark times:(

    Anyway, in the meantime (whilst I take this up with Skiara), maybe someone still has a question for VVM. I happen to know that Darth Nerdling has at least one and so I'm tagging him to remind him that this is his chance:p
     
  12. Gamiel

    Gamiel Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
  13. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Well, for one, I find it interesting that we have a royal family at all. I understand continuity and tradition, but seeing as Norway already had been without a domestic royal family for 5 centuries (union with Denmark since 1380 before union with Sweden from 1814 to 1905), it's slightly surprising and perhaps a little peculiar that the Norwegians didn't jump on the cutting edge of progressive modernity and declare a republic, when their independence, after all, was as late as it was. Instead, they were jonesing for a crown of their own so badly that the parliament elected to "import" a Danish prince as their new monarch. Thus, the younger prince Carl of Denmark was crowned king Haakon VII of Norway with the dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian union in 1905. His wife, and consequently queen of Norway, was the British princess Maud.

    Stranger still, was that taking a prince from Denmark, which had ruled Norway as a province of Denmark in the latter centuries of the union, was deemed more acceptable than taking a prince from Sweden, which had guaranteed Norwegian autonomy in domestic affairs. I suppose Swedish resentment was more fresh than, by then forgotten, Danish animosity.

    Correction: Norway came into union with Denmark in the first place because the last Norwegian king before union, Haakon VI, had a Danish wife, Margrete, who was a daughter of the Danish king. Since she outlived her husband, she had the opportunity to use this to the advantage of Denmark by claiming that their only son, the 5 years old Prince Olav, through having a Norwegian king as father and Danish princess as mother, had effectively inherited both realms. On paper, you would assume this scenario would favour Norway, but Prince Olav was naturally still too young to govern, meaning that her mother would effectively rule in her son's name. The Danes, ecstatic, jumped at the opportunity and elected the young Prince Olav as their new king. By electing him to be their new king, the Danes, through his mother, effectively received Norway on a silver platter as a province of Denmark. The two kingdoms thus formally entered into a personal union where Norway initially had some degree of domestic autonomy, but over the centuries, Denmark would increasingly assert its dominance and dismiss Norwegian interests. The young King Olav, who had unwittingly joined the two nations by virtue of his blood, died young and left no heirs. Not much is known about him. It is speculated that his premature death might have been arranged.

    By taking a Danish prince in 1905, the Norwegians symbolically reversed this event, even though no inheritance of land would occur in this instance. Notice the aware attention to history and continuity with the naming. The last Norwegian king was named Haakon VI, so their new adopted one from Denmark was renamed Haakon VII. And, as if to correct the shenanigans with the young Olav IV of 1380, the young prince of the new royal house (already born at this point) was renamed Olav V.

    Since then, the Norwegian royal house has become a much beloved institution, and few people today actually know this underlying history behind the naming and its connection to centuries old political intrigue. I, myself, read up about this history for this post. In surveys conducted today, an overwhelming majority still favour retaining the monarchy. It's viewed by many as a unifying institution that can bring the country together in its joys and sorrows in a politically neutral way that an elected head of state never could. The aforementioned king Haakon had precisely this effect during the 5-year German occupation, wherein he became a rallying symbol of resistance, remarkably only 35 years after having assumed the throne as a foreigner. His son, Olav, late father of the current king, became even more beloved. Emphasis was put on giving him a decidedly Norwegian upbringing, and it's said that he was very approachable and down to earth, to the extent that people affectionately nicknamed him Folkekongen - the people's king. There is a famous photo taken of him taking the tram during the 1973 oil crisis.

    [​IMG]

    Even the minority who are republican in principle (we have some politicians in Parliament, both in left-leaning parties and conservative parties, who have expressed a republican stance), submit that they are fond of the royal family despite being opposed on principle to the monarchy as an institution.

    As a side note, when Iceland broke out from Danish rule following World War 2, they declared a republic. Incidentally, my neighbour was saying the other day "yeah, you know, when the Danes lost us to the Swedes, they kept Iceland! Even though Iceland was part of Norway before Norway came under Denmark. Those people were Norwegians. They gave away the mainland, but those bastards, they kept the islands, didn't they? Iceland, Greenland, Shetland, the Faroe Islands, they stayed Danish. Well, they've since lost Iceland and Shetland, but the other ones..." :p He was saying this jokingly, though. I've never met a Norwegian with any historical grudges toward our neighbours; over territory or otherwise. The Danish crown pawned Shetland to Scotland in 1469, and it has been under Scottish rule since then. In 1969, on the 500th anniversary of its pawning to Scotland, the local council on the islands adopted a flag that has the Nordic cross configuration, but with the colours of the Scottish flag, to commemorate both parts of its heritage.

    [​IMG]

    The cross is a little narrower, and the dimensions a little off, otherwise it would be an exact inverse of the Finnish flag.
     
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  14. Gamiel

    Gamiel Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    A version I have heard is that they actually asked King Oscar II of Sweden if they might have one of his sons/relatives as their new king, but Oscar II, who had taken the norwegians leaving the union as a personal insult, refuse.
     
  15. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Thanks for adding that.
     
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  16. Gamiel

    Gamiel Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Can you introduce us to something you enjoy from Iran popular culture (any type of popular culture--TV, film, music, sports & leisure activities, etc.) that those outside of Iran would not likely be familiar with and tell us why you like it?
     
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  17. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Sheesh. Christian IX really deserved the nickname "the father-in-law of Europe". Wherever you look among royal families his descendants are there.

    Are we shifting to questions about Iran? Because I have a bunch of those :)

    Pensivia First of all, welcome back! I hope that DRL is finally giving you a break now. About your question regarding a format change, a question of the week or question of the month could certainly work (we did it in an "ask me anything" thread in fanfic and it was great). I would be happy if we could finish up our current list of interviewees before moving to that even if it means a slow-moving thread, but unfortunately I can't offer to help with running this thread for the time being. Things will (hopefully) be easier for me come October though, so if you or VVM still need help by then give me a shout.
     
  18. Pensivia

    Pensivia Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Thanks for your post, Chyntuck!:) I agree that we should finish going through our current list of interviewees before tentatively rebooting the thread with a new format. After we finish with Violent Violet Menace 's round (and as far as shifting towards Iran questions, it's fine with me if it's fine with him), this is what I have as the list of the remaining interviewees--but someone let me know if I'm missing someone who volunteered during my absence:

    --Anakin.Skywalker (USA--Texas)
    --Cowgirl Jedi 1701 (USA--Michigan)
    --Ando123 (Argentina)

    Actually, let me tag those folks just to let them know that the thread hasn't forgotten about them (!). If anyone tagged has changed their mind about wanting to participate, just shoot me a PM to let me know. Otherwise, we'll go ahead with Anakin.Skywalker, Cowgirl Jedi 1701, and Ando123 (understanding that since this is a slow-moving thread, it may be a number of weeks more before we get to everyone remaining on the list....)

    Skiara and VVM and I are discussing the future of the thread (and a probable reboot) in PM, so continuing on with our current roster until we've completed it will give us plenty of time to finalize that discussion as well. Thanks also to Chyntuck for her offer of assistance later on if needed (I/we just might take you up on that:p)

    How does that general plan sound to all interested parties here?:D
     
  19. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Sounds good to me.

    BTW, to Chyntuck, I realised I had neglected a little detail in answering your question about the standardisation of the language/language policy in the post further up, so I added a small final paragraph. (It's in these situations that my mod-powers are a godsend. :p )

    This is the text, regarding Bokmål and Nynorsk in the media:
    Local newspapers in the western counties are typically in Nynorsk. A couple national ones are as well, but these are niche and not widely read outside the Nynorsk strongholds. News presenters with dialects closer to Nynorsk get their scripts written in standard Nynorsk. If their dialect is closer to Bokmål, their script will be written in Bokmål. Half of the foreign programming will be subtitled in Nynorsk in the public television channels. Privately run stations are not required to do that. Incidentally, the fact that we subtitle foreign programming rather than dub it over is a contributing reason to why proficiency in English is generally higher in Scandinavians than, for instance, the French population.
     
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  20. Anakin.Skywalker

    Anakin.Skywalker Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 11, 2016
    Sounds good. :)
     
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  21. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    It's taking me a while to find the time to answer the current question, so to hold you over in the meantime, watch this funny mashup of Mary Poppins with some Iranian folk party music. The language is not actually Persian, but a language called Lorish or Lurish, spoken by a minority ethnic group called Lors/Lurs, who live in the southwest of the country, near the border. It's in the linguistic group called Iranian languages, but is not mutually intelligible to Persian.

     
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  22. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Alright, sorry to keep you waiting. For one, I was rummaging through my head thinking about what to introduce to you that would be entertaining for you to read as well. So the question was:

    Can you introduce us to something you enjoy from Iran popular culture (any type of popular culture--TV, film, music, sports & leisure activities, etc.) that those outside of Iran would not likely be familiar with and tell us why you like it?

    I decided to cross out popular media. TV serials are nothing to write home about, and having never lived in Iran, I have never followed any either. Any movies I would list would likewise be either of no interest to foreigners or, conversely, be the sort of film festival fare that if you were interested you would already be familiar with anyway without me needing to list them. Music is perhaps an exception in this regard. I can write a quick introduction if anyone is especially interested. Not much to report in sports either. I know that Iran does well in weightlifting. Now you know too.

    Having decided, then, on a topic that is none of these, but rather universal in its scope and simple in its appeal, easy to approach and grasp, I found some idle time to type up some stuff today about Persian miniatures.

    ----

    The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has a curated list of both tangible and intangible sites, objects and concepts of world heritage. You might be wondering: "what is intangible heritage"? An example of intangible heritage might be a specific genre of music, which is not something you can point at, grab or place in a museum, or put on a map for that matter. One such item of intangible heritage is a genre of visual art called Persian Miniatures. To quote the blurb from the UNESCO website entry on it:

    A Persian miniature is a small painting on paper, whether a book illustration or a separate work of art intended to be kept in an album of such works called a muraqqa. The techniques are broadly comparable to the Western and Byzantine traditions of miniatures in illuminated manuscripts. Although there is an equally well-established Persian tradition of wall-painting, the survival rate and state of preservation of miniatures is better, and miniatures are much the best-known form of Persian painting in the West, and many of the most important examples are in Western, or Turkish, museums. Miniature painting became a significant Persian genre in the 13th century, receiving Chinese influence after the Mongol conquests, and the highest point in the tradition was reached in the 15th and 16th centuries. The tradition continued, under some Western influence, after this, and has many modern exponents. The Persian miniature was the dominant influence on other Islamic miniature traditions, principally the Ottoman miniature in Turkey, and the Mughal miniature in the Indian sub-continent.​


    The example illustration they use on the site is this:

    [​IMG]


    I believe the act of referring to them as miniatures is a neologism of the modern era, following Western discovery and fascination with them. We also refer to them as such today, but in the past we probably just called them paintings. To learn more, I recommend reading this paper. Larger paintings that feature the style of the miniatures are often painted by artists for display in tea houses and homes, and these are referred to as miniature-like.

    Our poetry, even that which is steeped in divine mysticism like Rumi's works, features wine (mey), the tavern (meykhaaneh, the wine house), the server (saaghi) and the serving bowl (saaghar) prominently. Hence, you will see the motif of the saaghi pouring from a saaghar frequently in these paintings, which are often an accompanying illustration to a poetry manuscript. The one below is holding a saaghar in her left hand. Another prominent motif are musicians playing on setars, harps,santurs etc.

    [​IMG]


    A scene depicting lovers is also very common. The ones below have both wine and music with them on their picnic, and they're reading from a book, most likely a poetry collection.

    [​IMG]


    Other scenes might depict dancing, like the one below. Dancing might also be an expression of Sufi mystical rituals to experience a euphoric connection with the divine. Or, like the first example used by UNESCO above, they might simply depict scenes of enjoying natural scenery.

    [​IMG]


    It should be noted that these are all modern imitations. The one below is a decidedly modernistic take:

    [​IMG]

    I put most of the illustrations in the spoiler tag to save space, but you should probably look at them to understand what I'm referencing from here on out.

    I like miniatures because of the elegant sweeping lines, the rich colourful detail and how there's a sense of fluid flow that permeates the visual language of the pieces.* Plus, depictions of lovers drinking wine and reciting poetry to each other... what's not to like about that? It's so life-affirming. And it's also so antithetical to the image that Westerners usually have of Iran, which is another reason why I wanted to share this centuries old tradition.

    It's also fun to so viscerally see the Chinese (via Mongol) influence on this artform, and consequently part of our culture, in that the faces often have East Asian features, and that creatures and animals from Chinese mythology are featured in Persian miniatures. This happened principally because of the Mongol invasions and the subsequent Mongol rulers of the region who patronised the artform.

    * I should note, however, that to a large part this aspect of the genre developed later and the examples I have picked for illustration reflect this. They are all modern takes on the genre.Though they are also not without precedent. Examine, for instance, the outer border artwork on this manuscript from the 16th century. And when it comes to motifs, as we see from this example from around 1600, there is a definite historical throughline that can be gleaned.
     
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  23. Gamiel

    Gamiel Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Chyntuck you can ask your questions now.
     
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  24. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Violent Violet Menace That was a wonderful choice for an art form specific to Iran, and it kind of links to my next question as well (or, well, not really, unless you've read Amin Maalouf's novel Samarkand, but never mind that!) What I would be curious to know is if some Persian/Iranian artists that are so famous in the West that we think of them as "representative" of Persian culture are also thought of as fundamental national figures in Iran. For instance, is Omar Khayyam THE national poet? Is Abbas Kiarostami THE national filmmaker? Is Marjane Satrapi THE national comics artist? etc. In my experience there's often a disconnect between artists of a country that are well-known abroad and those who are considered essential in-country, is that also the case with Iran?

    And, to follow-up on your reply to Gamiel about the miniatures, my understanding from those I saw in museums (mostly in Turkey) is that the medieval artists remained anonymous. However from what you say, the tradition remained alive after the 16th century. Did artists start signing their works later on, and are there any particular modern miniature artists that are more famous and that you'd recommend checking out?
     
  25. Pensivia

    Pensivia Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Really enjoyed your post about the Persian miniatures, Violent Violet Menace!

    I'm a big fine arts fan. I am only really familiar with the American and Western European fine arts traditions, though, so it's fascinating to learn about this example from a non-Western culture. Some aspects of the Persian miniature tradition remind me of an 18th-century French art style known as "Rococo." Examples like the one above, with the emphasis on a romantic couple enjoying nature and the arts (music, poetry) remind me of 18th-c French examples like these:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I love discovering such "cross-cultural connections"!:D

    Yes, those specific qualities you mention appeal a lot to me as well. Your reason for picking this particular aspect of Persian culture to share is really cool, too.

    Btw, I also just reread most of your earlier posts (starting from the beginning of your round) since I was in a crunch when I first saw them and had to look at them very quickly. Really good stuff!

    I am also very interested in @Chyntuck's question about the "in-country" status of the most famous examples of Persian/Iranian culture in the West...
     
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