Swedish public service television, SVT, is planning a full evening of Fidel Castro related fun (in Swedish) at the beginning of next month.
The 2nd of December sees a double celebration for Cuba: for one thing it offers a belated chance to celebrate Fidel?s 80th birthday¹; it is also the 50th anniversary celebration of La Révolutión [sic]. Fidel Castro has been in power in Cuba since 1959. Rumours relating to his health have fuelled speculation about what will happen to Cuba when he dies. Who is he, the man who has survived against all odds and has seen 10 American presidents come and go?
Former SVT producer Per Gudmundson makes a few points (in Swedish) about the cosy evening?s entertainment.
Note that state television is celebrating a dictator and a communist power takeover. And it is doing so with two propaganda films that praise Castro, or ?Fidel? as SVT prefers to call him. Nowhere do they manage to mention that Castro is a dictator, he has just ?been in power? for 50 years.
All three studio guests are communists or communist apologists.
Does SVT do this for all die-hard dictators? If so I must have missed the station’s Belarus special two years ago to mark Alexander Lukashenko’s 50th birthday and 10 years in power.
Update: One passage has been disappeared from the above post as a result of the attentive nit-picking of a Stakhanovite reader.
This week’s news that an ad for coffee firm Lavazza was withdrawn after Sweden’s Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK) found it to be discriminatory prompted a few enquiries to see what else fell foul of the media moral guardians.
What ERK objects to most is the use of scantily-clad women to attract punters’ attention to ads. Earlier in the year the watchdog criticised twelve ads which did this, including one for Lee Jeans featuring a woman in a g-string with the Lee logo stamped on a buttock.
Radisson SAS were ticked off for featuring an attractive Nordic-looking woman in a hotel room in association with the slogan “It’s easy to sleep with the best in Scandinavia”. Dressman got a dressing down for an ad featuring a man in his pants and a woman in less.
Some of the ads which ERK has slammed clearly cross the line into the territory of exploitation. But others clearly don’t. Compare, for example, the stylistic, high-glam, fifties-pastiche Lavazza image, one of a series shot by photographer Ellen von Unwerth, with the flyer for Club B.I.A.T.C.H. You don’t need to be a gender expert to see the difference.
ERK undermines its objectives by lumping such ads together, and comes across as some kind of amateur pressure group. If Sweden is to have an advertising watchdog, then it must look at ‘standards’ from every perspective, not just gender. It must ensure that the law is followed and not get drawn into matters of taste. Beyond that, let the market decide.
What’s extraordinary is that no advertisers seem to object to ERK’s verdicts, meekly removing ads which are criticised. Without any opposition or debate, ERK will push its own agenda to the extreme – say, blocking ads which show girls in gender-stereotyping pink pyjamas while boys wear blue.
Sounds crazy? Last month Jysk had its knuckles rapped for precisely that.
Before you take the ultimate Swedish cultural assimilation test of consuming surströmming, or fermented herring, you might like to watch a couple of British guys experiencing the delicacy:
Thanks to Shark99 in Discuss for the link.
Spare a thought for 22 year old Mia Adrelius, who is in hospital with a nasty infection after shaving her pubic hair. Now Mia has decided to go public with her plight, and Expressen was only too happy to oblige.
“It’s not the first time I’ve done it, but it’s definitely the last.”
After trimming her front lawn, so to speak, Mia noticed the infection. Alas, antibiotics didn’t do the job and she had to go to hospital, almost unable to walk.
“The doctors thought it was one big abscess. But as it turned out, there were thirty.”
What on earth possesses a young woman with a colony of boils in her knickers to get on the phone to a national tabloid about it? Mia told Expressen that she wants to warn others:
“This is a trend which is creeping down the age groups without girls knowing how bad it can be.”
Perhaps the pubicity will do some good.
Society: November 24th, 2006 by PR
A new web site which allows Swedes to check the incomes of their colleagues, neighbours, friends and lovers (or anyone else, but those will no doubt be the most popular uses) has crashed after one day, unable to handle the demand from curious visitors.
The details are in the news article, but the issue highlights some contradictions in Swedes’ attitudes towards privacy. The most obvious is that while you can look up anybody’s income on the internet (or with a telephone call to the tax board, Skatteverket), recruiters in Sweden never disclose the salary for a job being advertised. Employers will tell you that the reason is to avoid conflict by having everyone know what everyone else is paid.
Another contradiction is Swedes’ long-standing opposition to CCTV cameras in public places. An invasion of privacy, they say. An affront to personal integrity. Note to the holders of such opinions: we know what you look like already!
An argument put forward in favour of making incomes public is that if a government agency, such as the tax office, holds the information, then it should be made available to everyone. In that case, why not make all health records public?
Knowing whether your colleague is carrying a nasty contagious disease could be rather more useful than knowing his or her income.
Miscellaneous: November 23rd, 2006 by JS
Cecilia Hagen writes in Expressen about the opening of the new Princess Lilian Suite at Stockholm’s Grand Hotel (yours for 55,000 kronor a night). The suite was inaugurated by Welsh-born Princess Lilian herself.
The 91-year-old royal, who still carries out public engagements, appears to be sustained by a healthy sense of fun. She greeted photographers yesterday with a wave and a “hello boys”.
Hagen reminisces in the article about a previous dinnner with the Grand Old Lady, which the princess left with the compliment, “I never thought one could have such fun with one’s legs together!”
Part of the cut and thrust of publishing involves seizing every opportunity to boast that you have more readers than your competitors. For example, Swedish media mag Dagens Media is singing its own praises: for the first time last week, it had more visitors to its web site than arch-rival Resumé.
According to the KIA Index, Dagens Media had 44,297 visitors to its web site, compared to Resumé’s 38,665.
By comparison, The Local had 69,464 unique visitors last week. We’re not ranked by KIA, but that would have put us in a perfectly respectable 90th position on the index, just above Affärsvärlden (67,693), Ny Teknik (67,050) and Stureplan (54,048). Just thought we’d mention it.
King of Sweden’s web sites is still Aftonbladet. The tabloid’s site recorded 3,826,298 unique visitors in week 46 (November 13th-19th).
“I exploited the system to live my dream,” admitted Punkt SE columnist Sara Kadefors on Tuesday.
The system she’s referring to is Sweden’s generous unemployment benefits programme of the early eighties. The dream she’s referring to is presumably being an occasional columnist for a free daily tabloid.
“It was a wonderful time. I slept and was hungover, wrote a little poem when I was in the mood, or painted a watercolour of the west coast landscape – exploited the system, to put it bluntly. I really just had one thing written in my diary, every Thursday: hand in the unemployment card. And that almost felt demanding.”
Sara reveals how she would do anything to avoid home help for pensioners (“they shat themselves a lot”) and admits that maybe she even faked a certificate of employment so that she could realise her dream sooner.
There’s a debate in Sweden at the moment about whether writers should be funded by the state until they discover their commercial muse. With the best will in the world, it’s hard to find sympathy for a writer who claims taxpayers’ money so he or she can go on churning out guff that nobody will pay to read.
The argument in favour of such funding is that a country needs cultural diversity. With her candid confession, Kaderfors at least removes any quaint notion of a noble writer battling to produce great art. Although she may still be a little deluded, ending her column:
“Who knows what would have happened if I had been forced to do home help?”
Maybe, Sara, the experience would have given you something interesting to write about. And Sweden’s taxpayers would have been saved a few kronor. In short, everyone would have been a winner.
Miscellaneous: November 21st, 2006 by JS
Liberal MP Cecilia Wigström reckons that women should get prioritised spaces set aside in parking garages ‘so they don’t have to feel afraid in the dark’, and because it might reduce the number of attacks, reports Svenska Dagbladet.
Hard to know where to begin with this one. One could start by pointing out that for the 24,097 reports of assault against women in Sweden last year, there were 40,262 reports of assault against men.
Of those assaults requiring hospitalization, over 2/3 were committed against men. While women are more often victims of rape – of which there were 3,787 cases in 2005 – the vast majority of these were committed by people they knew, often in the home – not by strangers in dark parking garages.
If women need their own parking places, perhaps we should start allocating other places to other groups who feel vulnerable. There are supposedly problems in Sweden with anti-gay hate crime, so maybe we gay people should get special parking spots too (can we make mine close to Systembolaget please?).
The over-fifties, while less likely to be the victims of crime, also feel more vulnerable, so let’s set aside places for them (well, for older men – the older women already have spaces by virtue of their gender) . By my reckoning we’re up at least 75 percent of the spaces so far reserved for ‘vulnerable groups’.
Alternatively, we could start by having a debate about violent crime that keeps gender in its place. There’s an ugly tendency in Swedish politics today to bring gender into places it does not belong, to affirm women as victims and portray men as aggressors. Any inconvenient evidence that appears to add nuances to this starkly painted picture is ignored.
Surely the real gender issue in crime is not that women are the main victims – they’re not – but that men are the main culprits by a very, very long chalk. Media talk that portrays women as the victims simply causes unneccessary anxiety. It also serves to play down the fact that violent crime, which rose by 6 percent in the first nine months of 2006, affects everyone in society.
Offbeat: November 20th, 2006 by PO
Denmark is different.
Earlier this month the Danish Road Safety Council released a new campaign film encouraging motorists to reduce speed on the streets of Copenhagen.
Like watching paint dry? Not according to Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
The campaign film was put up on the internet on November 6 and has already been seen by 1.6 million people around the world.
But why the sudden interest in Danish traffic policy?
A. The chance to see video footage of a beautiful city.
B. The campaign?s amusing American voiceover.
C. The team of topless Danish women holding up speed limit signs.
Only on the other side of the Öresund Bridge could this happen.
The Women?s Council has protested against the public service film. But Equality Minister Eva Kjer Hansen hopes the campaign achieves its objective and has given it the green light.
Watch Copenhagen’s Speed Bandits tackle traffic crime.
Miscellaneous: November 18th, 2006 by PR
Former world footballer of the year Louis Figo has been given the go-ahead to build a house on the 7,000 square metres of land he and his Swedish wife bought earlier this year in Sollefteå, in Ångermanland.
The problem was that the land had been earmarked as parkland. But after discussion with the Figos’ neighbours the council agreed to change the usage restrictions for the land.
The news will come as balm for Figo’s soul.
Never mind the Nobel Prizes – Sweden’s Mother of the Year has been announced.
How would you decide the Mother of the Year? What would the criteria be? How would you measure? Can the qualities and success of a mother be evaluated until the child is a fully-developed adult? (The Nobel committee often waits decades before awarding a science prize, since the true effects of a discovery can take that long to be felt.)
Amazingly, all of the attendees of the award were second-rate celebrities or media names. Are the best mothers in Sweden really all celebrities? It looks like the award was made more for ‘achievements despite being a mother’.
OK, OK, the awards are run by Mama magazine, this is what they do, glitz sells etc. - but an award for a hard working, low-income, anonymous, unglamorous woman, doing what she can with limited means to give her kids the best possible upbringing would have been worth a lot more than this fluff.
Isn’t Google News great? Here at Local Towers one of our guilty pleasures is surfing Google to see who’s quoting us as their source – it’s always a good ego trip.
What’s slightly less fun is to find that people are copying and pasting your stuff without crediting you. When the culprit is Xinhua, the state news agency in China (run by the Propaganda Ministry), I rather doubt a phone call pointing out the finer points of press ethics will cut much ice. Compare this article we published yesterday…
Professional boxing has been illegal in Sweden since 1970, but it could be time to start booking ringside seats after the new Martial Arts Delegation has its first meeting in Örebro today, Dagens Nyheter reports.
…with this from Xinhua this morning:
Professional boxing has been illegal in Sweden since 1970, but it could be time to start booking ringside seats after the new Martial Arts Delegation has its first meeting in Orebro, local media reported on Wednesday.
The new law came into being in order to protect those who participate in violent sports from brain injury. As a result it is possible that professional boxing will soon be welcomed back into the Swedish sporting community, if it is seen to take the necessary precautions, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported.
“I don’t like professional boxing the way it is now, but I hope it is allowed because it would be good for the boxers,” ringside doctor Sanna Neselius told the newspaper.
The only word in that excerpt changed by Xinhua was ‘newspaper’. In the original story Sanna Neselius was quoted as talking to The Local. Because that’s what she did.
Not sure whether to be flattered or indignant. Getting your facts from other publications is standard journalistic practice (although it’s a good idea to check them first), but it’s generally considered good form to at least rephrase the information and credit your source.
As another journalist points out…
“Within the traditional media, certain media reporters have abandoned truth in news and ignored professional ethnics to use easy and convenient Internet tools to plagiarize news. This type of behavior is becoming more frequent, and has become a huge public evil for journalism.”
That was written by Yuan Bixia, a journalist working at… you guessed it… Xinhua.
This Anders Borg is based in Sweden and his profile could certainly fit the man holding Sweden’s purse strings:
I have always been interested in politics, and have as I have grown older realized that the answers to many of my questions are found in the Classical Liberal tradition.
His posts offer well-presented opinions on a variety of political and economic issues, many written in English. One such post addressed the ad campaign for bras run earlier this year by underwear company Lindex. Their strapline (geddit?) was ‘We love boobs’. So, it seems, does Mr Borg:
I can go on ranting and preaching about the beauty of the female body for hours on end, but I’ll end with saying that there are few things that I have such a genuinely uncomplicated feeling towards as boobs. I love ‘em.
Was this written by Sweden’s finance minister? The blog entries stopped around mid-February – just when things were hotting up for the election. There’s nothing on there to suggest involvement with the Moderates or an impending government role, but it’s a tantalising thought.
Would the boob-loving Mr Borg please reveal himself!
Update – 2006-11-17
National: November 15th, 2006 by PO
A laughing one year old from Nyköping has tickled the funny bone of internet users the world over.
William Andersson’s dad imitated the sound of a plinging microwave oven. The results are hysterical and have so far been viewed over 5 million times.
Media: November 15th, 2006 by PR
Linda Skugge, Expressen’s outspoken columnist, reports on her blog that she was contacted by BBC World Service on Sunday. The Beeb was asking her to discuss the Swedish Authors’ Fund – the system of state funding for artists which Skugge has slammed - on their Europe Today programme.
Presumably they picked up the story from The Local and assumed she would be good value for a few barbed comments.
But alas, Linda had to decline:
“My English is too rusty so unfortunately I can’t participate, despite the fact that there are 150 million listeners…I only know one word in English: fuck. If anyone can give private English lessons in the north of town, I’m interested.”
Linda, if you’re reading this post, we’ll be happy to oblige. Just pick up the phone. Oj, förlåt! Linda, om du läser det här blogginlägget, vi vore glada att hjälpa till. Det är bara att ringa.
Why are Swedes such welfare-hugging, mushroom-picking collectivists?
Well, maybe they?re not?
A recently published and widely discussed book, provocatively titled “Is the Swede a Human Being?” (“Ar svensken manniska?”), contends that Swedes are the opposite of collectivists: they are deeply individualistic.
The International Herald Tribune has the lowdown.
(Thanks to Torque on the forum for the tip.)
Just saw this evidence of anthropological differences on Bubblare. Sorry, Brits, but this really is how Swedes see you.
National stereotypes, eh?
Offbeat: November 14th, 2006 by PO
In case you didn’t know, somewhere in Stockholm there is an elite team of female gamers getting ready to blow somebody’s head off.
When the San Francisco Chronicle managed to prise Jamie Lee away from her shotgun they discovered that she had fled her native country.
Lee currently lives with members of an all-female team, Girlz of Destruction, in a video game training facility in Sweden.
The 19-year-old native of San Jose moved to Stockholm because of its fabulous… broadband.
She grew up competing with her two older brothers but didn’t find other women to play with until she formed the Girlz of Destruction in 2003. The team has members all over the world, and the Girlz chose a home in Stockholm in part because the city’s superior fiber wiring translates to less lag time during online Quake duels.
Lee obviously loves the cut and thrust of fighting games, but fellow gamer Rob Enderle thinks the time is right for the industry to target the potential pool of more genteel female players.
“The market that’s been heavily plumbed is the young adult male market that likes scantily clad women and blowing stuff up,” Enderle said. “And the market that hasn’t been plumbed well at all is the female market in any age group.”
Sweden is the new haven for Peeping Toms, after a prosecutor dropped the charges against a 20 year old who was caught filming his neighbours having sex.
But interestingly, Sweden has very strict laws on bugging, with the police even finding it hard to get permission to eavesdrop. So be warned: in Sweden, you can watch your neighbours having sex – but you can’t listen.
Bubblare, Scandinavia’s homegrown alternative to YouTube, must be girding its servers in anticipation of a wave of new productions - accompanied by some very dodgy amateur soundtracks.
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"A weekend full of surprises and LFC football. Results look like this: Div 5 Men won 4-2, K1 lost 5-0, K2 won 2-1, Vets lost 3-2, R1 lost 4-1. Korpen Ladies play Monday night and on the 26th the Div5 Men close the first half season with the last match before the summer kicks in. /LFC " READ »