Sandvig Library Town Hall

Bornholm baby break (or an ultra-short history of Bornholm disguised as a diary post)

We’re on Bornholm this week, having a great time in-between little Nathan’s occasional projectile vomiting and screaming attacks.

Bornholm is a small Danish island that I assure you is a real place that actually exists. It even has a history and everything:

The island is said to have been an important trading post back during the Viking times. From 1525 to 1576, Bornholm was pawned to the city of Lübeck, which is apparently a thing you can do with islands. Bornholmers weren’t too happy about that, so they revolted but were violently suppressed in the battle of Ugleenge (Danish for “the ugly English.” Probably).

In 1645, Sweden fought Denmark and took control of the island, but then the Swedes were immediately like, “Nah, we didn’t even really want it, so you keep it, Denmark,” and just up and left. In 1658, the Treaty of Roskilde gave Bornholm to Sweden once again. That same year, Bornholmers revolted and shot Swedish commander Johan Printzensköld. They then gave the island as a gift to King Frederick III, which is apparently another thing you can do with islands. Their gift came with one condition, though. I quote: “Dude, seriously, please just stop cedeing our island to all these foreign powers every time they come around, you giant pussy.”

And Bornholmers lived happily ever after…

Until the Nazis came in 1940 and were all, “Zeez ist military lookout post und listening station now, ja?”

But in 1945, the Soviets were like, “Niet, comdrade!” and bombed the shit out of Bornholm and the German forces stationed there. The Nazis surrendered. The Soviets left in 1946, but under one condition, though. I quote: “We go home now, but only Denmark is allowed to keep soldiers on the island. If we see any other Western military here, we’ll consider it foreign occupation and be forced to protect the rights of Bornholm’s Russian-speaking population by sending Soviet paratroo…uh…no, by politically supporting local Bornholmer rebels in their right to self-determination – ha ha, you almost made us reveal our clever clandestine plans!”

Nowadays, Bornholm is a picturesque island with a population of just under 40,000. There are few, if any, revolts and murders of foreign military commanders. There are, however, lots of fisheries, tourists eating fish, and a popular fictional troll, Krølle-Bølle, who steals said fish. At least that’s what most of his depictions lead me to believe. There’s even a life-size cardboard poster of Krølle-Bølle with his face cut out, so that obnoxious tourists can pretend to be the troll. Like this fucking guy:

Krolle-Bolle Dan

Stupid tourists!

We’re living in a summer house on the northern part of the island and slowly exploring the area around us via short daily expeditions. Saturday, we set sail for mainland Denmark.

You now know more about Bornholm than you ever thought you would. Until we meet again, here’s a totally innocent picture I took of a guy sunbathing:

Sunbathing dude

You have a dirty mind, dear reader. I’m embarrassed on your behalf.

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Crosses Sunset Silhouette

Fuck off with your selective nostalgia

So gay marriage is legal in the US now. Yay, right?

All people who love each other can finally get married, whatever their sexual orientation. Time to celebr…oh:

Rick Santorum On Gay Marriage

Right, I forgot. Gay marriage will ruin traditional marriage. Of course. We all know that “marriage” is a finite resource, and now that gays will start using it up, there’ll soon be nothing left for everyone else.

“But if anyone can get married, my straight marriage will no longer mean what it used to mean!”

Wait…did you get married to show your love and loyalty to your partner or to win some kind of “traditional marriage” bingo? Your marriage is just as strong or just as weak as it was yesterday. If your marriage is easily ruined by gay people getting married, maybe they’re not the problem. Being straight is not an achievement. You don’t get to wear that fact as a badge of honor.

“But gay marriage is not how we’re used to doing things!”

I see. Because if we have learned anything from centuries of human progress, it’s that our society always stays exactly the same and never, ever changes. Which is why you’re currently reading this inside your cave by the decomposing carcass of a mammoth your tribe has stoned to death an hour ago.

My point is this: If your only argument against something boils down to “I’m not used to this concept, and change scares me,” I’m sorry, but you don’t really have a strong case.

And then I opened my Facebook earlier today to see this:

NYC Skyline 1956

Granted, the poster originally published the photo in early April, so his intention was not to comment on the Supreme Court ruling. But here are some recent comments on that post:

Gay pride rainbow

Skittle colors of gayness

Accept gay agenda

See? Gay people didn’t just want equal marriage rights. There’s been a secret gay agenda all along, which involved sneakily replacing all crosses with rainbows and repainting history with skittles. Or something. I don’t know, I didn’t get the memo.

While the above examples are some of the more extreme, the general consensus in the comments is that 1956 was a much better time for all of us, but then the liberals came and fucked everything up with their political correctness and “progressive” thinking. There’s mass nostalgia for an innocent time long gone.

That’s interesting. Wanna see another photo from 1956? Because here’s one:

White Mob Stops Desegragation

Texas White Mob

A privileged group of people passionately protesting a ruling that gives minorities equal rights? I wonder what that reminds me of….

Ah, the good old days, when one could freely write “We don’t like negroes” and threaten to burn them without the fear of being persecuted by those politically correct liberals. In January that same year, Martin Luther King, Jr’s home was bombed, but at least we could display crosses on buildings for Easter.

If you went back to 1956, you’d likely die 10 years earlier than you would now (average US life expectancy, 1955: 69.6 years, 2015: 79.12 years), but you wouldn’t have to worry about there being any gay rainbows at your premature funeral.

If you’re going to reminisce about the past, it’s only fair to remember the awful stuff along with the good stuff. Otherwise, you’re doing a disservice to your own argument while also shitting on all human progress that’s happened since. Women getting the right to vote is part of that progress. Different races being seen as equals is part of that progress. Gay couples getting the right to marry each other is part of that progress. You can accept that and rejoice over the fact that we’re all gradually becoming more tolerant and accepting of one another.

Or you could be one of these people:

Too many immigrants

Tolerance for Muslims but not Christians

Some things should never ever change

The choice is yours.

Last wish

Today we go even further down memory lane, to the very beginning of my life in Denmark. During the first two years here I went to Rygaards International School.

Our history teacher was an Irish guy by the name of Mr. Murphy. That’s right, back then all our teachers were either a “Mr” or a “Mrs”. To this day I don’t know most of their first names. In fact, I can’t be 100% sure they even had first names.

Mr. Murphy was one of everyone’s favourite teachers, despite the fact that he was one of the strict ones. He had a heavy Irish accent that took a while to get used to (“a while” in my case would turn out to be many months). Many a time he’d go off on a tangential story about something completely irrelevant to the subject at hand. The stories were, without exception, hilarious.

It was also not out of character for him to act out his favourite battles from history by jumping onto desks, running through the classroom, and otherwise re-enacting some epic war scenes.

“Incoming! Think fast, kids!”

He was also famous for his surprise quizzes. He’d walk into the classroom, tell everyone to close their books, grab their pens, and write down answers to a bunch of random questions he asked. Sometimes, however, he’d put a twist on this exercise, just for fun.

One day he walked in and gave the following instructions: “Blank page, name on top. You’re in the navy during World War II. Your submarine has just been hit and is rapidly sinking. You have time to write a letter to your parents, knowing it’s the last thing they’ll read from you. You’ve got two minutes. Go!”

Everyone scrambled to write down some panicked words. After two minutes, Mr. Murphy told us to stop writing, collected all of our “letters” and then proceeded to read some of them out loud to the class. Mercifully, he avoided mentioning students’ names. Less mercifully, he didn’t even try to contain laughter at some of the stuff people wrote.

Surprisingly, this looks nothing like Mr. Murphy

There were some needlessly formal letters, beginning with “Dear mother and father, this is your son writing to you…”. Some letters were otherwise awkward and amusing. However, the absolute best letter read:

“Mom, dad, our submarine has been hit. We’re not going to make it. I’ve got only seconds left to live before we sink. Wish you were here!“…

…I don’t think Mr. Murphy could’ve hoped for a better comic relief that day.