Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Linguistic pet peeves 

Working in a multinational environment in which English is the pre-dominant working language, I have noticed how non-native speakers pick up mistakes from each other. Here are five very common ones, which annoy me every time I hear them, as they are so simple to avoid.

Think out of the box: This actually means the opposite of what (most) people want to say when they use this expression. If something comes in a box, it is all standard packaged, mass-produced, ready to be unpacked and used as it is. Plug-and-play. Out-of-the-box. So to think out of the box is in fact to think conventionally, standard, with no extras or individual input.

What you probably want people to do is to think outside the box! Meaning that you have the box, or probably many boxes, that objects and ideas and ways of thinking are already stowed into, categorised and labelled. And you want new input, original ideas. You want outside-the-box thinking.

Fewer/less: ‘Fewer’ is used for things that can be counted. ‘Less’ for things that cannot. Fewer working hours and less productivity. Fewer coins and less money. Fewer mistakes and less incorrectness. Or, actually, more correctness. Maybe that is the reason why people make the mistake — the word ‘more’ is the antonym both for ‘fewer’ and for ‘less’.

It is exactly the same principle as for ‘many’ and ‘much’, but for some reason much fewer people make that mistake. Many working hours, much productivity, many coins, much money, many mistakes, much correctness.

How it looks like: No, no, no! You can ask or tell how something or someone looks, or what something or someone looks like. But not how it looks like or what it looks. It simply not correct although everybody seems to say it and thus confirm each other in making this mistake.

Eventually: It seems that in all languages apart from English, this refers to something possible, not something definite. Thus a sort of ‘maybe’. But not in English. Here, it means ‘in the end’, and I would go as far as to say that the vast majority of my colleagues use it in the wrong sense. Every time my Director says ‘we will do that iffentually’ (he’s Dutch), I wonder if he means that we will definitely do whatever he is talking about at some point, or if he refers to the possibility of doing it.

A friend showed me recently how the Oxford Dictionary (as opposed to Merriam-Webster) does list the possibility of ‘eventually’ meaning ‘maybe’. In that case, I recommend using a different word as to avoid confusion. 

Encode: This is a frenchism. In French, it refers to writing a computer programme or simply entering (for example) data into a system. Work environments influenced by French native-speakers risk introducing this verb in English when they mean just that. In English, as in most languages, it refers to the opposite of ‘decode’, i.e. to convert something from coded language to uncoded language. To encode is thus to put something into code language. If you want a word for entering data, just use …well, ‘enter’.

If you recognise any of these common mistakes in English, I very much hope that you will state an excellent example by starting to make fewer mistakes, thinking outside the box to eventually show what correct English sounds like, so that there is no need for decoding.

Happy talking :)
©2015 Bjørn Clasen 

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Antabus i plasterform? 

Hvad de dog ikke finder på! En pakke med antidrukpatches!

Sprog er nu en herlig ting.

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Monday, 19 May 2014

Nature, Our Mother 

‘[N]ature is motherly, and [there is] no reason to improve or educate it, as it voluntarily gives everything [you] need.’
Carsten Jensen

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Selve skuespillet i centrum 

»På teatret kan og bør æstetikken kun blive et hjælpemiddel
og iscenesætteren den tjener,
der får et skuespil til at leve på scenen.«

Jens Kistrup, teateranmelder
Weekendavisen 24/11-0

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Monday, 20 January 2014

Onsdag, den 20. januar 2099 

I dag ville min oldefar, Christian, være blevet 226 år. Hvis han levede endnu, ville han hedder “Krajsjan”. Så sent som i 1998, for hundrede år siden, hed jeg Bjørn, nu hedder jeg “Pjen”.

Der var fest blandt de 120-140-årige i eftermiddags. Det er nemlig præcis 75 år siden (2014), at skolerne blev udført. Jajah, nu er der kun 19 dage tilbage til min 126-års fødselsdag. Hvis jeg bliver ved med at få hjernen udskiftet hvert 15. år, undgår jeg at blive senil. Jeg skal have den skiftet ud den 7. marts af professor Stylts robot, XXXMTV66.

De fleste af de 21.697.889.608 mennesker, som lever på jorden nu, regner med at få et evigt liv, da der kun er én ting, som man kan dø af, nemlig sygdommen antikata (man er gået væk fra de latinske betegnelser, og alle taler ét og samme sprog).

De sagde i dag i telebølgeavisen, at man havde vedtaget at droppe grænserne i hele verden. De sagde også, at man skulle tilat oprette et ferieparadis på ydre planet nr. 12 i solsystem 6, galakse 9.

(fra “Bjørns Samlede Værker, Bind V af Bjørn Clasen — © 1984-85 Bjørneforlaget)

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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Cher Monsieur Caccioppoli 

Cette carte a été faite à la main par des aveugles au Bangladesh. Ce sont des braves êtres humains qui, malgré des difficultés inimaginables pour nous, font un effort admirable pour survivre et cela même en gardant leur dignité.

La dignité, c’est exactement à quoi je m’attendais comme principe de base quand je vous ai confié de construire mon nouveau chez-moi il y a maintenant dix ans. J’ai alors fait l’expérience que cette attente n’a pas été honorée de votre part.

C’est donc avec cette carte que j’espère vous transmettre un message concernant le respect des personnes qui vous font confiance, et ceci en investissant beaucoup plus que leur modeste fortune. Mon espoir est de vous faire comprendre ce message.

J’espère aussi que votre foi, quelle qu’elle soit, vous pardonnera et vous donnera la force pour connaître la dignité et le respect, et les faire croître à un point qui vous permettra de développer la capacité d’ en montrer aux autres.

Et j’espère aussi que les montants importants que je vous ai versés, à part ma confiance de laquelle vous avez si grièvement abusée, vont au moins servir à financer des beaux cadeaux pour vos enfants, mais que vous leur apprenez aussi que les plus beaux cadeaux ne sont pas ceux qui coûtent de l’argent, et surtout pas de l’argent sale.

Les aveugles au Bangladesh qui ont mis tous leurs efforts à faire cette carte que je vous offre, eux le savent.

Pour une année de prospérité et de croissance personnelle.

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Friday, 29 November 2013

Looking for an answer… 

On the last day of the European HIV Testing Week, someone very dear to me who is also an amazing journalist and a remarkable human being, asked me to post this…

It is just another normal working day, trying to give a voice to those who have something to say about things and problems that bother humanity, or at least, my modest little surrounding humanity

I go towards the Infectious Clinic, the only clinic that can perform HIV tests The only place where people may find out whether they carry the deadly virus or not.

The doctor is already waiting for me, to talk about AIDS and patients suffering from AIDS. The way he puts it, is just another disease, contagious, hazardous, deadly, but human They all need to be treated with respect and affection, despite the poison in their blood.

While he tells stories about people having died without even knowing they died because of AIDS, I feel surprised at the low level of self-awareness, and when he mentions the death of a seven years old girl who remained undiagnosed until her death, this low level of self-awareness scares me It could happen to anyone, at any moment, in any circumstance, because of a careless action, because of a stupid addiction, because of ignorance or because the maliciousness of rotten human souls who think that by infecting others, they will get a piece of revenge from the harm that was done to them. It is strange how wicked the human psyche can sometimes be

I wrap it up, after a detailed explanation of the disease, the incubation period of the virus, the first onset of AIDS, chances of life for an infected person, ways of transmitting the virus, data on the national database of people who are infected, breaking it down to female and male subjects, global death toll since 1981

Another moment comes. The moment when you want to show to others how the test is carried out. Nobody is willing to do it. Nobody is willing to show in front of the camera how the procedure is, that short procedure that lasts 10-15 minutes which will decide the future

I take the initiative of taking this test, first asking how it is performed.

The doctor looks at me with surprise. ‘This is not a game’ he might think

Well, it is not a game for me either. He then says ‘I don’t think you must appear in front of the camera. People will not understand it. People will judge you when they see this documentary Be anonymous’ I refuse to take his word for it. ‘If I am not able to show my face while taking this test, when I am calling on others for awareness on this deadly disease, what rights do I have to address them while I back off?’ In a way, I want to feel what a person living in the doubt of HIV feels, I want to show to the audience how easy it is to go through a little puncture with many drops of blood being taken from your finger And so I do But trust me, it is not that easy It is not that easy at all...

The test is just like the pregnancy test. But different from one another, when one is positive, you give life, you bear life, you have reasons for life. When the other one is positive, oh the world tumbles on your feet and everything around you crumbles to pieces and fragments of joyful moments you have had, terrible moments you will have

You have one stripe and you are negativeYou are HIV negative You are marked with life

You have two stripes and you are positive You are HIV positive You are marked with death Perhaps not sudden death, not painful death, not even death until it comes naturally, but you bear the seal of DEATH You may give death to others, those dear to you, those strange to you

And so, while the light of the camera is on my face, and I am pale as always, I feel the shivers in my body, and my skin turns cold, cold to freezing in the quivers of impatience.

I know there is nothing wrong with me. I simply perfectly know it,  but the moment itself is scary, perhaps horrifying... It is the reading of those thin lines in your test that determines the way you are going to see life from now and on

Ten minutes pass, under the camera lights, while it is filming, recording on tape my voice trembling while speaking about the test, while trying to formulate my appeal, while the doctor explains softly what it is, what we are seeing, how the reagents work My ears go deaf for a minute or so, my eyes focus only on one spot the single stripe on my tests both tests There is no second stripe, there is no shadow of doubt about the certainties that I already had This experiment upon myself costed me I now know better how to appreciate the moment, maybe life itself. For a moment there, I was scared It was a long moment from where I sat Now it is gone My heartbeat is backMy breath is back

I take the test from the table, show it to the camera and softly, slowly and calmly I say: ‘That was it. It only takes a few moments to save your life, to save other peoples lives Do the test

I am still silent, but I need to share this

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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

La connaissance de soi-même de l’administration communale… 

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Honey, there is a man in my egg! 

A funny breakfast surprise!

 Both Eggman photos are of course copyrighted and may be used only by written permission.

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Unintentionally amusing advert? 

This woman does look happy…

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Life’s Three Phases So Far 

A beer, a dark one
Not very tasty, not very sophisticated
I let its fading foam foam on my tongue
And think about its fake complexity

It’s the opposite of my muse
Who is a puzzle, and a hard one too
Every time you think you’re almost done
A new piece shows up
Or the ones you have put together

What can I do to lighten her darkness
What can I do to sweeten her taste
Make her creativity erupt
Her words pour out

I move on to youth with a cup of green tea

Fruit liqueur, apricot
I smell it, I sip it, I taste it
Immersing my mouth, blending with saliva
Wondering if I like it or not

Subtle or simple? Not sure
OK for a start, nauseating when it stays
It’s like overwhelming feelings
Except not worth it
Is it in, is it out, where is it all?
What is it all, how does it make me feel?
If at all —

— tell me, muse
How to taste it the right way
How to enjoy it for real
Or at least decide if I like it or not
This faky-fruity thing full of a flavour and a colour
That it should not have
Tell me
I might listen, I might even understand

I let my youth be, swallowing it with some water

Then I grew up
And tasted the brandy
A special one, a rare one
A mature one, hidden away, only waiting
For me to taste and maybe savour

I waited for it, I hesitated
I put the glass back without trying
And went on with things
Thinking I could postpone maturity

I did so a few times
Taking the glass, putting it down
When I finally tried the brandy
It was strangely neutral
I was strangely numb
And perhaps mature
So I poured it out
After a sip or two
And went on with water
Went back to the source
Found myself
Found a place for my muse
And for myself


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Monday, 11 March 2013

‘It's good to be me
 who else would I be.’
Bjørn Clasen

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Friday, 15 February 2013


Mein Beitrag zur „Kritzelei der Woche“ in Die Zeit

Entstanden ist diese Kritzelei bei einem internationalen Workshop in Berlin zum Thema EU-Recht, -Wirtschaft und -Politikwissenschaften. Nicht dass ich mich langweilte, aber diese Themen sind so gradlinig, dass ich Angst hatte, meine Gehirnzellen würden sich in parallelen Reihen ordnen, und um dies zu vermeiden, habe ich dann kreuz und quer gekritzelt, allerlei kleine Bildchen und Symbole, die mir eingefallen sind. Während einer Pause hat eine Mitstudentin aus Kosovo — ich selbst bin ein luxemburgischer Däne, was man sicher auch aus meinen grammatischen Fehler sehen kann — das Blatt geklaut und einige ihrer eigenen Kritzeleien zugefügt. Deshalb sind einige Details am Rande des Werks viel künstlerischer als der Rest.


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Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Astral Bigamist 

…that’s right! That is what the successful, slightly alcoholic, or at least thought-to-be delusive writer Charles Condomine is called in famous British playwright Noël Coward’s comedy Blithe Spirit.

Luxembourg’s English-speaking theatre troupe BGT will perform the comedy at the Mierscher Kulturhaus in Mersch from 27 February through 2 March.

Read more about the hilarious story, and how to order your tickets for the show, in this article from Luxemburger Wort.

Looking forward to seeing you there — and hope you will enjoy it. We will!

Charles Condomine
slightly drunk and delusive author?
and Astral Bigamist

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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Dystopia on the big screen — How man closes his own circle 

So… I have signed up for this online course at the University of Edinburgh, on eLearning and digital cultures. It is the second Internet-based academic course I am attending, although this one at Edinburgh is rather different from the first one, a master degree in European Union studies, which is more like a classic academic course, just using the Internet as the main communication means.

Already after reading the course description and all the ‘how to’ stuff, checking a few of the fora, and watching the first of four videos that constitute the core of the first course week, I see chaos installing itself. Students who are lost in the microcosmic cyberspace of the course website and all the subsites and websites it refers to.

What strikes me as well is that whereas the language used by the course managers (I am not allowed to quote from it, so I won’t) is very abstract and what I call ‘unnecessarily over-academised’, the instructions are pretty straight-foward, perhaps even too simplified to be comprehensible. Er, I mean understandable.

The clear question we, the (six-digit number of) students have been asked in the first week, is to think of an example of utopian and dystopian stories about technology told in popular films, and describe or share it, for example on one’s blog. Well, I have thought. And now I will share. And describe. A little.

In fact, two of my favourite films come to mind, and they both tell rather dystopian stories.

Pink Floyd The Wall has sequences of how mankind is becoming so inhuman that everything we love about being human is destroyed. Any artistic creativity, any feeling is not only taboo but also forbidden. A quote from one of the final scenes (and thus songs, as Pink Floyd The Wall is in a way one long music video) is:
The prisoner who now stands before you
Was caught red-handed showing feelings
Showing feelings of an almost human nature
This will not do!
Alien — The 8th Passenger needs little further presentation. It is a little more ambiguous than Pink Floyd The Wall in its dystopian message, but one thing that I would like to point out is how The Company — which in this first part of what is by now a pentalogy, if one counts the recently released prequel Prometheus in, is not known by any other name than simply The Company — has powers that seem to reach beyond that of a nation state as we know it today. As The Company wants to capture the alien lifeform in order to use and possibly develop it for its weapons division, a creature of nature actually becomes, or is intended to become, technology.

Last but not least, a recommendation for those who like to watch something alternative: Try to get hold of the Belgian film Thomas Est Amoureux. The whole film is seen through the eyes of a man who lives his life through his computer screen. In other words, we only see the screen. While this may sound unbearably boring, the film is actually a fantastic attempt to show how human can become a slave of its own creation: the machine. Watch it! (pun intended)

Oh, I almost forgot: Of the four videos that we students are supposed to watch this first week, I rather liked this one. Watch it too…


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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Stop smoking in Luxembourg bars 

Actually, it should not be necessary to still discuss this in 2013 in a Western European Country. But apparently it is: The issue of smoking, and of passive smoking. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has yet to manage to pass legislation in order to protect its tax payers and visitors from the effects of passive smoking.

A pregnant friend of mine has finally had it. (We used to work together, me being in charge of ideas and she of the action…) She has taken the initiative of launching a petition to finally get rid of tobacco smoke in bars. And it looks promising, as her initiative immediately made it to national news! When I signed yesterday evening, I was number 10 or 11, and now the petition has over a 1000 supporters!

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Friday, 28 December 2012

Crazy Crazy 

I was already crazy
But you, you drive me crazy crazy
With your ups, your downs, your lefts and rights
It’s never just spot on

It’s a rollercoaster ride
One second flying high
The next everything stands still
But you’re always ready for the kill

It drives me crazy crazy
It makes me bounce around
Wanna send you to outer space
And I, I wanna stay on the ground

You are crazy crazy crazy
And I’m just crazy crazy
I used to be a one, you make me a two
Whenever you’re around
It doubles up, I’m getting like you
It doubles up from straight away crazy
To double crazy: crazy crazy
You drive me crazy crazy
You drive me crazy crazy crazy
Crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy…

Copyrighted. Use only by written permission.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The (digital) right to pretend 

‘Let’s throw some sand into the cogs of the machine-readable life and just pretend now and then. Life without creative friction is an ideal of economists, but not a reflection of what makes us well-rounded, curious humans. You have the right to be silly or silent, the right to be inventive, the right to say no to algorithms, and most importantly, the right to be left alone, to have space to think about who matters to you and what not to share.’

from ‘Fake It! — Your Right To Digital Self-Defense

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Monday, 17 December 2012

The Erasmus Experience — 25 portraits from 25 years of success 

This autumn, I was commissioned by the association ANEFORE, via Luxembourg’s coolest publishing house Maison Moderne, to interview 25 former Erasmus students (well, including a current one and a professor) and write up a short portrait of each of them telling tales of their individual experiences.

Here is the resultdownloadable, free of charge! I hope you will enjoy it …and do contact me if you have writing or editing tasks for me!

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Friday, 7 December 2012

Culinary Adventure: Spinach à la Cosovare 

This dish is colourful and healthy — and takes only little time to prepare.

serves 2-3 persons
1 onion
4 normal-sized mushrooms
½ kg of fresh spinach (or frozen spinach cubes)
1 medium-sized carrot
1 cup of sweet corn
1 cup of dark rice
2 portions of processed cheese (that soft one that comes in triangles)
2 eggs
150-200 ml of yogurt
olive oil
½ ℓ of water

Finely slice the onion and the mushrooms. Fry them in olive oil for a couple of minutes, until the mushrooms look nicely fried.
Meanwhile, slice the carrot. Add it, along with spinach, corn, and rice. Then add water and Vegeta, according to your taste. Let it all boil at medium heat.
Add the cheese for it to melt in the mixture. When the rice has boiled enough (it is recommended to let it boil more than normal rice in order to give density to the dish), take the dish off the the fire (this whole process will have taken you about 20 minutes).
Finally, mix the eggs and the yoghurt well in a bowl. Add it to the mixture while stirring well and fast enough to avoid the egg-mix forming white clots but blending perfectly with the whole dish.
It is now ready to serve — provided it has a rather dense consistency rather than being too liquid.

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Monday, 3 December 2012

Erasmus As A Gateway To The World 

Georges Lemmer, one of the 25 interviewees for the book I was contracted to write — ‘The Erasmus Experience’, presented ten days ago — has put the resulting portrait of himself on his blog and spiced it up with some really nice and artistic photos from his personal Erasmus experience. Have a look!

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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

« Merci et au revoir. »  

Courriel envoyé à la chaîne luxembourgeoise de supermarchés Alima (info@alima.lu)

Madame, Monsieur,

Hier, à 16h13 selon le ticket de caisse, j’ai fait mes achats dans votre magasin près de la Bourse comme je le fais régulièrement. Je suis passé à la caisse 5 (de nouveau selon le ticket de caisse; sur celui-ci aucun nom d’employé n’apparaît). La dame à la caisse ne m’a même pas regardé — pourtant on me dit que je suis pas mal pour mon âge ; mais bon, cela dépend du goût personnel — ni salué. Elle a ignoré mon « bonjour ». Les seules mot qu’elle a prononcés étaient « onze trente », ce qui était le prix total de mes achats (si modeste parce que vos ampoules électriques sont très chères en comparaison avec d’autres magasins). Ce « onze trente » n’était pas accompagné d’un « s’il vous plaît » ; la réception de mon paiement pas suivi d’un « merci » ; et mes organes auditives n’ont pas détecté de « bonne journée » ou même de « au revoir ». Bref, Madame Caisse 5 m’a adressé que le montant.

Si un tel comportement — ou manque de comportement — se reproduit je me réserve le droit de choisir entre deux scénarios : ou bien attendre à la caisse sans payer, sans rien faire, jusqu’à ce que l’employé en question arrive à prononcer les mots si difficiles ; ou alors simplement laisser mes achats (d’habitude beaucoup plus nombreux et encombrants que les « onze trente ») et partir. Après, je vous enverrai bien sûr ma facture pour avoir gaspillé mon temps dans votre magasin.

Comme Alima n’est pas connu pour la politesse de ses employés, je vous suggère de mettre un panneau à chaque caisse, dans les cinq langues du pays, soulignant que vous chargez un supplément de politesse de base de 20 % (minimum 5 €) ; pour une politesse normale de 30 % (minimum 10 €) ; et pour le niveau VIP de 50 % (minimum 25 €). Cela vous permettrait aussi de mesurer si vos clients qui sont, après tout, le gagne-pain des employés aux niveaux inférieures ainsi que supérieures de la hiérarchie, se considèrent comme des VIP ou non.

Pour moi, chaque client devrait l’être.

Pour votre information, cette lettre est aussi publiée sur mon blog public.

Sur ceci, comme dit le ticket de caisse : « Merci et au revoir. » (le nombre de mots et 200 % du nombre de mots de Madame Caisse 5).

Réponse reçue le 22 novembre :

Nous avons bien pris note de vos remarques et nous nous excusons pour le comportement de la caissière.

Notre souci est de servir nos clients aux mieux dans tous les rayons. Et particulièrement le dernier contact à la caisse qui est très important.

En espérant pouvoir vous servir bientôt dans notre magasin.

Meilleures salutations

Romy Hansen


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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Highly recommended even if you don’t usually read poetry 

A brand new release of an, in publishing terms, debuting young author:

Katie Hall — ‘Scribbling’

Katie Hall’s poems are of the rare kind that pierce right into your soul, leaving a tingling feeling under your skin, matched only by the speechless silence enveloping the roaring storms in your mind. In other words: They touch you. Not as soapy pathos — on contrary, they touch your deepest, poorly-lit spots because they are so real and relevant. No matter if you have lived situations similar to what the poems get into, you feel that you are right there, right in it. You empathise not with ‘the author’ or ‘a narrator’ …but with yourself. What makes Katie Hall’s poetry lie so close to our own struggles and doubts are their way of spinning around the swirl formed by the eternal dilemma between needing and resisting, between shame and desire. Ultimately, between honesty and pretence. To be read one by one, reflected upon, and then re-read. If you are up to it. ‘Cause you will discover sides of yourself that you had forgotten about or stowed away. Now, with Katie Hall, it is time to find it back.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Worth a shot 

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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Looking for, er, people 

This classified-ad page is from 1968 and was published in the Observer and Gazette.

Notice how distinctly employers advertised for women or men, depending on the nature of the position to be filled. Today this would not only be unthinkable but also illegal. The Kodak advert even clearly lists which vacancies are for women, and which ones are for men.

(Click on the picture to see it in a larger and more readable version.)

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Wednesday, 20 June 2012


I want to write something
But don’t know what
Don’t I feel anything?
Is nothing the matter?
Have I lost my talent?
Or just my mind?
‘Just’ my mind… ha…
As if that isn’t a big thing
That’s all that’s left to lose
Everything else is gone
Squeezed like a cola can
And thrown away
Into a bigger can
Too much trash
Too little meaning
Now that I’ve trashed it all
There’s no meaning left at all
No mind
Except for one going mad
But surely
That’s all there is to write about
A mind that was
Am I out of it?
Out of my mind?
Or of everything?
I feel like I’m here
And yet only exist
Nothing more
Not alive
Even less dead
Just existing
But not really now
Only the day after tomorrow
So what I gotta fill in
Are these lines
And tomorrow
And today
Where I am
After all
Here with me
With my words
That I didn’t find
Until now
Where were they?
Where was I?
Where is my mind?
Was I with it?
Was it with me?
Is it with me?
Are you?
Are we?
Where — I don’t see you
I don’t see us
I only see me
Part of me
My fingers
Moving on the keyboard
Expressing what I thought
Was an empty mind
Empty thoughts
On an empty screen
Not anymore
Now it’s full
Of thoughts
But where are the emotions?
What is the matter?
Apart from dark
Or never existing
At least not now
At least not here

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

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Monday, 4 June 2012

Vulnerability Is The Way 

‘[R]eal freedom requires that one exercise vulnerability rather than invulnerability. If freedom is the ability to live out the full potential of one’s possibilities and if the measure of one’s life is the intimacy, range and diversity of one’s relationships, then the more vulnerable one is, the more open he or she will be to creating meaningful and intimate relationships with others.’

‘Awareness of our common vulnerability and mortality is the essential foundation for empathizing with our fellow beings.’

Jeremy Rifkin
in ‘The Empathic Civilization — The Race To Global Consciousness In A World In Crisis’
(pp 157 and 236)

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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Powerful scribblings 

Some of my favorite Katie Hall poems from her recently released debut collection, Scribbling.

I am tired of rules!!!
Rules on how to behave,
rules on why to behave,
and when to behave.
Rules on how to think
and even not.
Rules on how to kill my time
because pleasure is a commodity I can't afford.
Rules on how to love,
and how to not,
Rules on who to love,
and who to not...
Constrictions anywhere and everywhere
I turn my look around,
hoping to see at least a face
that doesn't say: NO or Not, or Don't,
but Yes, and Go and Do...
But my look encounters no expression
of making me want to let go of me,
out of these chains of morality.
So I look down, with a grey look
and a torn heart, and a burning tear
for being so misunderstood...

I wonder what happens to those who meditate and search for the illumination. They empty their minds into the point of filling Mind with... I wonder what can fill a Mind other than thoughts, free and oppressed, open and suppressed, optimistic or pessimistic... And how can you fill an already filled cup or empty an always filling one when you stand under the source and your cup never gets reversed? Which is the appearance of Illumination? It means lighting, bring light forth, take light in, but I wonder whether Light needs emptiness or presence to shine upon.

I haven't seen myself in the mirror lately,
You saying that I am Beautiful, was enough.
I haven't used the comb for my hair,
thinking the glide of your fingers through them,
would give me the style I couldn't do myself.
I forgot to think about me,
because all I can think of, is us.
I left my body untouched,
waiting for a touch of yours...
I have left so many things undone,
so many words untold,
so many thoughts enclosed,
Waiting for the day...

Stay under the rain of my emotions
and feel them as they fall down on you,
in a frenzy of winter cold
to warm you up
as you hold on to your own world
filled with insecurities and quests,
passions and regrets.
Are you really so restless?
Are you really so empty as to not see
the horizons opening  in front of you?
Stay under my rain of emotions,
don't take shelter or hide, just let go,
and feel your deliverance as it comes...

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Because Man 

I’m the Because Man
Because, man
That’s who I am
And because
How I am
‘Cause that’s who I am
And who am I
Because I don’t know
What it is
That I cause

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

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Monday, 28 May 2012


A pain
A pain that stings
A pain that eats
A pain that treats
Me like someone
Who’s already lost

An ache
An ache that points
An ache that pushes
An ache that pulls
Out every strength of me
I’ve already lost

A heart
A heart that freezes
A heart that heats
A heart that beats
For someone else
Than just me

A mind
A mind that tries
A mind that creates
A mind that debates
With me like
I have nothing to say

A soul
A soul in rain
A soul in pain
A soul in vain
In me


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Friday, 25 May 2012

Pandora’s Absence 

A zero next to my Inbox
A blank window in Compose Mail
No content, no sound
No words, no life
Just blank and white
Where it’s usually black and white
And orange and purple and red and green
And anger and blabber and rage and grin
My box is clean
Unlike my sheet
My heart is full
Just like my head
And when I turn to you and say
Baby won’t you make my day
With stings of poison, stings of fun
Slaps in the face, and then a song
Some nonsense and some sense
Superfluous banter
Wise observations
Fun and puns
Smacks on backs
Waving of flags
In colour
In black and white
As long
As this zero
Becomes one

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

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Thursday, 24 May 2012

French Guyana 

And with that
I shall return
Or rather get going
Or actually
French Guyana
(You know what I mean)
The country is out there
Right here
On the Net
On my lap
(On top of it)
Now I just need
To get on top of it

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

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Joll joll jollygirl
Jolly up again
All the way up
It's not so far
Just jolly up again

When you’ve jollied down
You know where you came from
It’s right up there
It’s just up there
So turn around, de-frown

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

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Almost Carefully 

Today I was almost careful
I nearly did something with care
I was about to handle
With care
But then didn’t
‘Cause I thought
Well, I almost thought
That I almost cared
But then realised
That I didn’t
Almost didn’t

What I at least did
And not just almost
Was bring a smile
To somebody’s face
A full smile
In the very middle
Of his almost shaven
And rather stupid

Yes I did

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

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Friday, 18 May 2012

Back Up 

If you’re down
On the ground
Then get up
If not on your feet
At first
Then at least
On your knees
Soon it will hurt
So you can choose
To get down again
On the ground
Or get up
Further up
On your feet
And stand.
Too tired
To choose?
Then follow
My command:

©2012 Bjørn Clasen

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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Praise from Luxembourg’s toughest theatre critic 

Luxembourg’s 10-minute-play festival review
At the Kinneksbond cultural centre in Mamer
For the second Luxembourg ten-minute-play festival this week at the Kinneksbond cultural centre in Mamer, the requirement that plays be written by local playwrights was dropped and entries invited from various parts of the world.

Of the eleven short plays on view therefore only three were by local writers. But if the change was due to uncertainty about local talents, those three demonstrated caution was maybe not necessary since they stood up well against the foreign competition.

In fact, easily the most successful in terms of audience response was the home grown “A Star to Steer Her By”, a vehicle both literally and metaphorically written and also directed by Erik Abbott and brilliantly played by Adrian Diffey, Chris Wilson, he at the steering wheel, determined to follow his own route, she in the passenger seat, initially querulous, later resigned, and by Andrew Stewart as an ever more frustrated satnav device.

Erik’s direction was lightly controlled, which was all that was needed given both the playing and his own script, but the pauses between the promptly ignored satnav instructions were perfectly timed. And just as it seemed the joke might wear out, yet another twist came along – as when the satnav, following a near upset, suddenly switches to German adding a dose of nationalism to the struggle between machine and self-willed – and eventually successful – man.

And the names of the villages on the route grew ever longer and more improbably rustic – I could hardly stop laughing, which is why I am sadly unable to quote you any of them.

Of the other two local ingredients, Celeste Koehler, whose Goodbye Avis was the best entry in the 2009 festival, came up with A Recipe to Remember, a successful sad but sweet depiction of two sisters charged with looking after their Alzheimer’s victim mother. The trap here would have been to make the piece too long or too maudlin or too banal, but the trap was avoided, both by the writer and the director (Bjørn Clausen, better known hereabouts as an actor).

All three parts were played by members of the Milne family, sisters Carolyn and Jacqueline as the two sisters, and mother Angela as the mother. Carolyn and Jacqueline were both convincing, describing both their problems with their mother, and their memories of happier times, but Angela rather stole the piece, sitting at a table mindlessly shuffling and stamping papers, until right at the end when some home made apple sauce triggers off a flash of memory or at least habit and she speaks for the first and only time.

The third local piece was an interesting offering from Barbara Hall, also better known as an actress, the enigmatic InterNed (sic), directed by Fran Potasnik. Ned (Adrian Diffey) sits in what seems to be a cell, with one door and a window, and the piece is one long soliloquy, which he and the director manage to hold your interest in. The text itself refers to The Dumb Waiter and Godot, more than hinting that surface appearances may not be as they seem.

What they seem to be is a prisoner in a cell (alone but remembering there having been a companion) fed occasionally from a trolley pushed through the door, and continually viewing from a small window a scene in which a car coming up to a colour changing traffic light either kills or does not kill – we don’t know, neither does Ned – a child. Eventually Ned finds the door open, and passes on through.

After theatre discussions showed how many different meanings might be assignable to the piece. Initially I went myself for a link to Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real, with Ned awaiting release from suffering, as Williams’ characters await their rescuing aircraft. Then I thought maybe Ned was the driver of a car that did so kill a boy, and now relives continually that experience. And then – but to each his own.

It seems to me that this short format, no matter how many minutes, favours raising questions more than answering them. InterNed does that in spades.

So perhaps at first sight does Pipedreams, directed by Timothy Lone and written by Sarah van Parys, Dutch but currently studying drama in Liverpool. Unlike InterNed however, there is no outer meaning here that makes sense even without interpretation. Nothing happens in InterNed that couldn’t happen in real life, whereas Pipedreams takes Pirandelloesque swipes at reality, with a narrator (Chris Albrecht) rearranging events at will in an attempt to make the lead female (Valerie Scott) find at least temporary happiness, though all he does is strengthen the unhappiness that has her apathetically sitting on her sofa.

Debt collectors pile up, each demanding payment at 5 pm; happily rollicking mourners strew flowers from the funeral of her husband, due to die the following week: and so on. A happy ending, gloomily predicts the narrator periodically, is impossible. Which may be the message of the play, if an unduly pessimistic one, though if we aren’t in Pirandello land we are well into Ionesco territory, where questions are not meant to be answered, or even asked.

The meaning of the play is not necessarily a more acceptable question than the meaning of life.

Literary links came to mind also with The Sum of Your Experience, in which a mugger (John Brigg) holds up a stranger (Victor Bonanno) to steal, not his money, but his dreams. Someone who lives on sucking out the memories and stories of passing strangers sounds like a Ray Bradbury character (though I don’t think he ever used the concept). Directed by Chris Wilson and written by American Trace Crawford the play narrowly escaped being too long, and was somewhat spoilt by an overloud, and, as far as one could tell, irrelevant foghorn effect, presumably to underline significant moments in the development, though the particular significance of each moment escaped me.

That apart the concept was interesting and the climax as the victim, shorn of his memories, stares at the gun the thief had given him in return, excellent, as was the pace with which the emotional tension built up, and the unobtrusive but effective movement around the stage, for which director and actors all deserve congratulation.

Airports and current conditions in them, at least in the US, though infection is threatened elsewhere, provided a backing for two pieces, a opening scene set in a busy lounge with pretty well everyone connected with the festival on stage as passengers baffled by impossible to follow announcements on the PA system; and an encounter of one passenger (Andrew Stewart) with two female security guards (Louisa Graf and Betsy Adams).

The first, with no text credited but concept and direction credited to Deborah Anderson, the co-ordinating director of the evening as a whole, named simply AIRPORT got the evening off to a cheerful start, and the second Cavity Search, by the experienced American playwright Brett Hursey, and also directed by Deborah Anderson, was well acted and directed, but the simple joke ran on far too long. Another sufferer probably from taking the ten-minute tag too seriously.

In contrast, the tiny sentimental if oddly named GRTC-Metropolitan Rapid Transit, by Irene Ziegler, another experienced American, directed by Timothy Lone, ran for under five minutes and was perfectly tailored to that time. A small girl (Dana Smits) on a bus reaches the terminus, sits there waiting to return, tells the driver (Karl Pierce) and one passenger (Marie-Paule Brimeyer) she is not lost, and explains she rides so she can hear her mother’s voice on the PA system. When the bus starts off again, her mother’s voice comes on.

Simple, short, unaffected, all that one needs, and all that one gets. Why she has to ride the bus to hear her mother, we don’t know. We don’t even know if she has to ride the bus. And it doesn’t really matter.

A fantastic miniature.

30-Love, by Terry McFadden, a Hollywood writer, and directed by Deborah Anderson, could have done with a better title. The theme is OK – the divorce negotiations between a husband and wife as to who gets how much are initially symbolised by them playing tennis and changing the score board presumably in theory as each scores points. But the board quickly goes to 15-0 then 30-0 as the husband gets two concessions – and there it sticks, never referred to again or changed in the entire course of the play, although of course the audience is waiting for something to happen with it.

In the negotiations the two finally settle, with a serious hint that they may resume relations. So the hanging 30-0 scoreboard makes no sense. ‘Deuce’ would seem to be called for, but then I assume the title would have to change.

It’s sad because apart from that the piece is well directed and acted (by Karl Pierce and Fran Potasnik).

The two remaining plays rather got away from me. The Circle of Life Can Make One Dizzy was a David Ives–like piece by Canadian Len Cuthbert and directed by Chris Wilson, concerning a married couple (Victor Bonanno and Elaine Falzon) who can get together for only ten minutes a week, given their work timetables – he is an airline pilot, she a Broadway actress. He suggests it’s time they started a family, she explains how that is impossible.

I can see no reason that justifies going on for ten minutes nor why it has any serious interest apart from its implausibility. Or that it would do even if I could have understood all that the wife was saying.

Finally there was American James McLinden’s Deer, apparently an examination of teenage angst and family relationships as displayed by a family of deer (Louisa Graf, Lena Hoss, Valerie Scott and Noa Smits) wearing variable sized crowns of antlers but otherwise undistinguishable. Despite the normal talents of director Erik Abbott, they seemed to move randomly across, and on and off stage, but anyway since I couldn’t understand what the young deer was saying to the elder ones, or tell the difference beween them apart from the familiar figure of Valerie Scott, I don’t really know how random they were.

But that was exceptional. The whole evening was a distinct advance from the original festival, and presumably bodes well for the future.

Even though I will continue to grumble about the use of the term ‘ten-minute’ play.

By Graham Cleverley

on Wort.lu, 12 May 2012

Sunday, 29 April 2012


I seem to not be able to express anything recently. Or at least face to face and eye to eye. I am all the time online. In my bed online, in the coffee store online, with my friends online, with my family online, with my work online, in my feelings online, I'm having a degree online, I even have sex online. Is this the new trend where our world is heading to, or is it just me? Trying to avoid the reality by being online. It even hurts online, you know?

It hurts because there is no contact which may open your eyes and your heart, or make you slap the face of a person because you feel so damn raging today. And when you can't do this, you keep suppressing your feelings into a pit-hole inside your soul, because it is too fucking difficult to communicate recently.

Communicate...is there a word such as commuticate? Not the word deriving from "commute", but the word formed by "to be mute together - co-mute"... This is no communication. And yet we, the world in its entirety, brags that we have reached the peak of Communication efficiency. Communication my ass! This is not communication. People are forgetting to express their feelings due to this technological development. We more and more hide behind the curtains of our screens, putting curtains to our heart and soul.

We bring people closer, but in the meantime, we drift each-other's emotions into God forgotten edges of humanity.

I write " I love you", but there is no tone of voice, no trembling emotions, no sweaty palms, no rising heartbeats, no fear of reply, or the thrill of watching his emotions live as he might/might not, say that back, one fold, or one hundred fold, or not at all. There is only a white blank line in the "reply" or "inbox", to which your eyes constantly look for an answer, which may never come. Or if it comes, it comes with the same bloody coldness you have written it. With a big lie, a big fat human lie to make us feel as if there is any emotion out there, because hey, we communicate.

And so, we lie because we are online, but never "inline". We fall in love or out of love, we hate and create, we even establish in this virtual reality, without really touching anything. It is so amazing, and yet so sad. To lock yourself inside four walls, wherever, in your house or office, in a bar or else, and instead of living by the moments life serves you, you live by the moments you write and read in a virtual space, which is only that, a surreal reality served to us by a fistful of photons travelling through the ether around the world in fractions of seconds.

Yes, we are closer. We come under each-other's clothes, we lie in the same bed, we stretch our hand in front of the screen to cuddle a loving face, and our world shines because of these glimpses.

But what happens when the screen is turned off?

I live my life, you live yours, and so do they, because one cannot be stupid enough as to feed him/herself with photons and bytes which turn to images or letters. And surely not stupid enough as to feel a touch that isn't there, want a kiss that isn't given, feel the heat when there is none, and more overly, TRUST what is being written.

Are we then, losers or winners in this world of global communication? Information speed is almost dazzling, but do we also convey emotions and feelings?

Are we soon to head in a world of senseless emotions where feelings will be triggered by "you've got mail" alerts and not by the bell ringing in your door to bring the ones you love most inside your world, in your embrace and into you, and where a look in the eye, a wave of the hand, a touch of the hair, a kiss on the neck and slide of fingers upon naked skin would give rise to a hormonal clash within your body, to make you want to make love, be a better person, be responsive to all outer signals, and most importantly, BE THERE for real and not live in cyberspaces designated to speed up connections, improve communication and inform the world in a hasty paste.

Or are we rather eager to living in some fantastic computer wallpapers rather than exploring the world like a Phileas Fogg of modern times? All it takes is a click... SHUT DOWN!!!...

And you get back "inline" and not online.

by Katie Hall — the text is yet to be published in print

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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

"Plastik"tüten aus Naturmaterial im Recycling-Center abgelehnt 

Brief an Naturata:

Hallo Naturata-Freunde

Seit Langem bin ich Naturata-Kunde und seit der Einführung von den biologisch abbaubaren Tüten für Frucht und Gemüse werfe ich diese in den Containern für Gartenabfälle.

Heute morgen wurde ich dabei zum ersten Mal "erfasst", und ich hatte Schwierigkeiten, den Mitarbeiter der "Centre de Recyclage" verständlich zu machen, dass es sich bei den Tüten tatsächlich um abbaubares Bio-Material handelte, und natürlich kein Plastik war, das ich da im Gartenabfallcontainer reingeworfen hatte.

Vielleicht wäre es sinnvoll, wenn Sie sich an der "Service d'hygiène" (in Luxemburg Stadt: hygiene@vdl.lu) wenden um denen die Tüte zu präsentieren, damit sie es den Mitarbeitern weitersagen können, dass sie (die Tüten, nicht die Mitarabeiter) in den Gartenabfallcontainern gehören :)

Im Voraus besten Dank!
MfG Bjørn Clasen, Rollengergronn


Sehr geehrter Herr Bjørn Clasen,

besten Dank für ihre Anfrage.  Wir möchten Ihnen zu unserer durchsichtigen biologisch, abbaubaren, kompostierbaren Tüte aus Maisstärke ohne OGM folgendes mitteilen.
Diese Tüte ist für uns die zur Zeit unseres Wissens nach beste Alternative, die wir finden konnten und daher auch an dem „Keimling-Logo“ zu erkennen.

1)    Wir sind davon ausgegangen, dass diese kompostierbare Tüte auch für Biogasanlagen kein Problem darstellt. Dem ist aber anscheinend nicht so. Nach einem Telefonat mit dem Service d’Hygiène von der Stadt Luxemburg wurden wir eines Besseren belehrt. Die Tüte sei dafür nicht geeignet, da die Vergärung viel schneller abläuft als eine Verrottung oder Kompostierung. Das Resultat sei, dass die Arbeiter der Biogasanlage immer wieder die Tüten aus dem Fermenter herausfischen müssen.

2)    Dass nun aber bei Gartenabfall, der meines Wissens ja kompostiert wird, dies auch der Fall ist, davon habe ich aber zur Zeit noch nichts gehört. Wir haben Kontakt mit dem Service d’Hygiène aufgenommen. Es ist so, dass in die Gartenabfallcontainer nur Grünschnitt, Holzschnitt, Rasenschnitt reingehört. Dies alles wird dann kompostiert. Da ja unsere Tüten auch kompostiert wird meinte ich , dass das doch möglich sein sollte. Mir wurde dann gesagt,“ …war die kompostierbare Tüte leer oder mit Lebensmittelresten gefüllt, mit Lebensmittelresten geht ja auch nicht…“.
Hier kann es aber auch sein, dass die benutzte Technik dem Stand der Weiterentwicklung von unseren Tüten nicht standhält. „Jede Kompostanlage muss professionell betrieben werden und dazu gehört es auch, sich mit der Kompostierbarkeit von Materialien auseinandersetzen, denen im Verpackungsbereich die Zukunft gehört. Unsere Tasche kompostiert innerhalb von 2 bis 3 Wochen in industriellen Kompostanlagen CO2 –neutral.  In Österreich werden viele Millionen Bioabfallbeutel pro Jahr aus demselben Material wie Ihre Taschen eingesetzt, ohne dass es zu Problemen kommt „ so der Hersteller unserer Tüte.

3)    Als Lösung bliebe zur Zeit da nur die schwarze Tonne für den normalen Hausmüll.

Als Fazit muss hier leider gesagt werden, dass die Abfallwirtschaft hier noch Nachbesserungspotential hat. Wir von NATURATA lassen das natürlich nicht auf uns beruhen, sondern wir werden einen Brief diesbezüglich an die Gemeinde Luxemburg schreiben.

Entschuldigung, dass ich Ihnen keine bessere Lösung anbieten konnte.

Mit besten Grüßen

Roland Majerus

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Åbenbart ikke særlig 

Denne “gåde” optræder i en annonce på eb.dk i dag.

Dem, der har lavet opgaven lader til ikke selv at være for kloge.

I hvert fald stemmer ingen af svarmulighederne.

Jeg kan se 30 kvadrater. Plus måske rammen?

Jeg har ikke målt efter.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Final Challenge! 

Did you find out? Actually, it wasn’t that difficult after all …once you got on the right path. Here’s what I have come up with — tell me if you have the same, or another answer, by commenting on the post.

If the prisoner wants to know whether Room VIII is empty or not, the answer he gets must be crucial to solve the whole puzzle. So let’s take that room as our point of departure.

We know already that Room VIII cannot contain a woman, as its sign says it hosts a tiger, and the sign on the woman’s door is correct. Leaves us with two possibilities: Room VIII is either empty or hosts a tiger.

It will not help us much to assume it is empty. Then its sign can be either true or false. So let’s assume there is actually a tiger in Room VIII. This means the sign is not correct. The sign gives two statements, with an ‘and’ in between. If one or both statements are false, the sign is false, as it should be if there is indeed a tiger behind the door. The first statement ‘this room hosts a tiger’ is true (so we assume for now) — ergo, the second ‘Room IX is empty’ must be false for the sign to be false.

So Room IX is not empty. It contains either a woman or a tiger. Again, its sign gives two statements linked by an ‘and’. The first statement says the room contains a tiger. If there is a woman in it, the sign must tell the truth, which it then can’t as it talks about that tiger. So… it does contain a tiger. And, as with Room VIII, the second statement must be false in order for the sign to be false. The sign on Room VI therefore tells the truth (because the sign on Room IX, lying, says that it doesn’t). Let’s keep in mind (write down) that Room VI either hosts a woman or is empty.

The sign on Room VI says that the sign on Room III is false. This one gives two statements, this time linked by an ‘or’, meaning that both statements must be incorrect in order for the sign as a whole to be false. To take the second statement first (you’ll see in a second that in this case, that’s easier, in order to keep some sort of overview): ‘sign VII is lying’ …so sign VII must be true, and sign VII says the woman is not in Room I. Now that is good to know, let’s write it down too.

…and continue with the first of the two statements on Room III, which is also false (see the paragraph just above): ‘sign V tells the truth’. So it does not. Sign V is yet another two statements linked by an ‘or’. They are both false, according to the logic explained just before. For one, this means that Room II is indeed empty, as its sign states. OK. It also means that sign IV is lying.

Sign IV says that sign I is incorrect. So it is correct …that ‘the woman is in a room with an uneven number’. We know from two paragraphs further up that she is not in Room I. We also know that she is not in Room III as its sign is false. Same goes for Room V (go up just one paragraph from here), and for Room IX (go up three paragraphs from here).

Leaves us with one room carrying an uneven number: Room VII. A quick check: The sign on this room must tell the truth if the woman is indeed behind the door. It says that the woman is not in Room I. Indeed, as she cannot be in two rooms.

One doubt remains though! The premise for this string of logic was that Room VIII is not empty. But what if it is, what if that’s the answer the king gave the prisoner? Can he use that answer to follow a different logic and reach the solution in a different way, or even reach a different solution?

I would like to have your answers to this! Comment below if you have it!

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Monday, 20 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Final Challenge! 

Now we’re finally talking! This seventh and last and ultimate logical challenge should be able to keep your brain cells busy for a little while. Read on.

‘It’s terrible!’, said the king. ‘I cannot seem to make the challenges difficult enough to have even one of those damn prisoners eaten! I will give it one more chance, one last challenge, which requires the prisoner to really exercise his thinking!’
The minister, as usual, agreed.

And the king was not exaggerating. The seventh prisoner was not given two, nor three doors to choose from — but no less than nine! The king told him that only one of the rooms hosted a woman. Each of the others might be empty …or host a hungry tiger.

He also said to the prisoner that the sign on the door hiding the woman would be true, those on the doors (if any) hiding a tiger would be lying, and those (if any) leading to an empty room could be either true or false.

Here is what the signs said:
The prisoner looked at the doors, read the signs, and reflected for a long time. He then said, angrily: ‘This challenge cannot be logically solved! That is not fair!’
‘Yes, I know!’, replied the king, laughing.
‘Easy for you to laugh’, said the prisoner and added: ‘At least give me one hint: Is Room VIII empty or not?’
The king was a fair person, and, impressed by the prisoner’s clear-mindedness, he did tell him whether Room VIII was empty or not.
When the prisoner had this answer, he also knew, after quite a bit more thinking, where the woman was hiding.
Which room did he choose?
Take a deep breath, and probably pen and paper, and a bit of time and peace. And do post your answer and how you reached your conclusion. ‘Cause I don’t have the solution anymore…
I hope you have enjoyed these two weeks of logical challenges. And may you find your woman too, or your tiger.

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Sixth Challenge 

A bit more tricky, or at least time-consuming, yesterday’s challenge, wasn’t it?

The solution is that the woman is in Room I and the tiger in Room II. This is the only combination that fits with the signs on the doors and the conditions given as to whether they tell the truth or not.

But let’s look at the different possibilities in detail anyway.

If the woman is in Room I, that sign tells the truth, meaning that Room III is empty. The tiger must thus be in Room II, which fits with the sign on that door telling a lie.

This already rules out the second of second possibility, which would be a woman in Room I, an empty Room II, and a tiger in Room III — ‘cause then the sign on Room I would lie and cannot contain the woman.

If the tiger is in Room I, this sign is lying, meaning that the woman would be in Room III. She cannot be, as the sign on her door must tell the truth. (And, just for the thought experiment, if instead Room III is empty, the sign on the tiger’s door would not be lying as it is supposed to.)

Leaves us two theoretical possibilities, both implying that Room I is empty. As the sign on the empty room can both tell the truth or a lie, we have to move on to assumptions about who or what is in Room II. If it’s the woman, the sign on her room tells the truth …but it doesn’t, as Room I cannot both be empty and contain the tiger.

If instead the tiger is in Room II, it fits that that sign is lying. It leaves Room III for the woman …but that sign says the room is empty, which is a lie.

Therefore, the only valid possibility is the first one: Woman in I, tiger in II, and Room III is empty. The sixth prisoner can walk away a happy man with his new bride!

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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Sixth Challenge 

Pretty cool solution yesterday, wasn’t it? Though still not that difficult. Hang on for the last two challenges as this is where the real fun begins.

The king told the sixth prisoner that one of the three rooms would host a woman, another one a tiger, and the last one would be empty. He also explained that the sign to the door hiding a woman would be correct, the one hiding a tiger would lie, and the one to the empty room could be either lying or telling the truth.

Here is what the signs read:
The prisoner happened to know the woman who was behind one of the three doors, and he was eager to marry her. So even though it would be better to open the door to the empty room than the one hiding the hungry tiger, he clearly preferred to find the woman behind the door.

Can you figure out where the woman is, and where the tiger is?

This is the before-last challenge. Its solution will be published here tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow follows the seventh, last and ultimate challenge …to which I do not have the solution! Can you help?

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Fifth Challenge 

One or none of the three signs tell the truth. Let’s assume that the one on Room I does tell the truth. That would mean there is a tiger in that room. It would also mean that the two other signs are both lying. For Room II that could fit, as it would hide a tiger. However, that would make the sign on Room III correct — so we can rule out that possibility.

So how about the sign on Room II… if it tells the truth, the two other signs do not… but the one on Room I should then contain a woman. As there is a woman in only one of the rooms, this possibility can be discarded as well.

Maybe the sign on Room III is correct, making the two others lie. That would mean there is a woman in Room I, a tiger in Room II, and as the signs do not give any indications of what is behind the third door, there could be a tiger. In other words, this could be a possibility.

Still, let’s check if all three signs are lying: Woman in Room I, tiger in Room II… but then the sign on Room III is not lying. So that one’s out as well.

The prisoner should open the door to Room I this time!

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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Fifth Challenge 

‘Dammit!’, the king was in a rage, ‘Both prisoners chose the right door again. I have to make it more difficult, for my own and for my people’s entertainment. I will add one more room, place a tiger in two of them, and a woman in the last one. Let’s see how the prisoners will handle that challenge!’ he said.
‘What a superb idea!’ said the minister.

The three signs read:
The king told that day’s prisoner that no more than one of the signs was correct.

Where was the woman?

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Fourth Challenge 

So how was yesterday’s logical exercise? Still too easy? Let’s crank it up a notch then. That’s what our friend the king did. But that’s for tomorrow. Let’s first look at the (best) answer to yesterday’s challenge.

If the sign on the door to Room I tells the truth, there would be a woman in both rooms. That, however, is impossible, as Room II would have to contain a tiger to tell the truth.

Therefore, the sign on Room I must be lying. There is thus a tiger behind it. And it does matter which door you choose — ergo there must be a woman in the other room, Room II. Also, it then fits that the sign on this door is lying too.

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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Fourth Challenge 

This challenge was a favourite of the king’s.

The signs on the doors for the second prisoner to choose between read:
Remember that if there was a woman behind door #1, the sign on the door told the truth — but if there was a tiger behind it, the sign told a lie. As for the sign on door #2, it was the opposite: If there was a woman behind it, the sign would be false, and if there was a tiger behind it, the sign would be true.

Also remember that both rooms might contain a woman, or both a tiger, or of course there might be a woman in one room and a tiger in the other.

What would you choose, if you were in this prisoner’s shoes?

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Monday, 13 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Third Challenge 

The prisoner got it right this time as well, even though the challenge had become a little trickier. This was the logic that made him make the right choice:

As the two signs say exactly the same thing, they are either both true or both false. This means there must be a woman in one of the rooms and a tiger in the other — according to the instruction given by the king for this day’s two challenges.

If there is a woman in Room I, its sign tells the truth. If the sign tells the truth, there is also a woman in Room II. And if there is a woman in Room II, the sign on its door tells a lie. So that is not possible.

Ergo, Room I must contain a tiger. This fits with the sign on its door telling a lie. Also, as there must be a woman in Room II, it fits that that sign tells the truth.

So Room II it is! But what about the next prisoner’s challenge? It’s one of the king’s favourite challenges, so check it out. Tomorrow.

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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — The Third Challenge 

‘The first two days of my new scheme have been a fiasco!’, the king said to his minister. ‘Both prisoners solved the logical problem I had set up for them. I will make the challenges more difficult!’
‘Splendid idea!’, said the minister.

On this day, as it was a public holiday, two prisoners had to face the challenge. They were both given the instruction that if there was a woman behind door #1, the sign on the door told the truth — but if there was a tiger behind it, the sign told a lie. As for the sign on door #2, it was the opposite: If there was a woman behind it, the sign would be false, and if there was a tiger behind it, the sign would be true.

There was still the possibility that both rooms could contain a woman, or both a tiger, or of course there might be a woman in one of the rooms and a tiger in the other.

The first prisoner was shown two doors with the following signs:

So which door should the prisoner choose?

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Women Or Tigers? — Solution to Second Challenge 

Got yesterday’s challenge? Got it solved?
Well, it wasn’t very difficult, was it?

Here’s the solution:

Since either both signs tell the truth or both tell a lie, it means that if the sign on Room I is true, the one on Room II is true as well. Therefore, there must be a tiger in Room I and a woman in Room II.

It is not possible that both signs tell a lie. That would imply, according to sign #1, that there is no woman, only tigers — and as sign #2 says there is a tiger, this one cannot be lying as well.

Hence, both signs tell the truth, and the prisoner will find his bride behind the door to Room II.

Tomorrow we’ll be back with a bit more of a challenge. Do check it out, it’s fun!

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