Miscellaneous: December 20th, 2006 by JS
Just came across an article I wrote at the beginning of the year, making predictions for 2006. Seems the old crystal ball was working after all:
“The safe money is on a Carola victory, defeat for Sweden in the second round of the World Cup at the feet of Germany and election victory for the Moderates – with perhaps a cheeky outside bet on a royal wedding.”
Well, royalists have been disappointed again this year, but in the World Cup, Melodifestivalen and the election, Sweden has proven shockingly predictable. Still, who could have predicted Anna Sjödin’s bizarre brawl at the Crazy Horse, or the Liberal spying scandal?
What does 2007 hold in store for Sweden? There are all the dull but important questions – such as will the government’s unemployment reforms pass smoothly, or will the unions dig in their heels?
Who will emerge from a depleted line-up of candidates to lead the Social Democrats ? Mona Sahlin, Ulrica Messing, Thomas Östros or someone else? And will they be able to shrug off the feeling that they are everybody’s second, third or even fourth choice?
More importantly, will Andreas Johnson be able to improve on his silver medal in last year’s Melodifestivalen, and make it to the Eurovision final in Helsinki? Will the village of Fjuckby be granted the right to change its name? And will Victoria finally get a ring on that finger? Watch this space.
Credit to the Hotel and Restaurant Union for allowing visitors to express an opinion on one of its hot button issues in an online poll.
The wording of the question is a bit tricky mind you.
Do you think that an employer should not be required to follow a collective bargaining agreement??
See! Had to think about it, didn’t you?
At the time of writing 55 per cent of respondents had said yes. It’s not known what percentage of those understood the question.
Newsbites: December 14th, 2006 by PO
This video, made by a group of youngsters in Luleå, has incurred the wrath of local police.
“They are risking their lives, but it’s hard to stop them,” said local policeman Per Carlsson.
Watch them as they bungee jump from cranes and take dizzying dives from a sizeable suspension bridge.
Swedish Life: December 14th, 2006 by PO
How ‘lagom‘ Swedish are you?
SVT has prepared 30 questions (in Swedish) on the subject. If your answers correspond to those given by the 30,000 people who participated in the survey, then you are the lagomest Svensson of them all.
If you don’t know what lagom means you’re probably either new here or you’re Victoria Silvstedt.
Miscellaneous: December 12th, 2006 by JS
For those of you who missed it on Sunday night, here’s the text of the gracious speech by Nobel Medicine prizewinner Andrew Fire, in which he looks forward to his return to Sweden in 2036.
With this week’s weather, his prediction of 30-degree heat in Stockholm in December feels only slightly exaggerated.
(Thanks to Charlotte West for the link).
Miscellaneous: December 12th, 2006 by PO
If Jon Henley at The Guardian had never heard of policeman Björn Fredlund from Hagfors before, he certainly has now. Toilet paper – connecting people!
· We are indebted to Local, the English-language news service of Sweden, for the undeniably heartening news that police in the western town of Hagfors have placed their first order for toilet paper since early March 1986, when a minor administrative error – the result, it seems, of an understandable if, on the whole, regrettable confusion between the Swedish equivalents of the word “packet” and the word “pallet” – left them with a small 20-year surplus. “It took all day to unload,” recalled station chief Björn Fredlund fondly. “We filled 12 garages with it. But we started the last roll on Thursday.” (What’s more, we did not make that up.)
Ignore the dreadful quality of the photo for a moment and let yourself instead be swept away by the dulcet tones of Enrico Caruso as you watch the tall, buxom Lucias file by with candles in their hair.
Or do it the Carl Larsson way, strolling around the living room like a fire hazard in perpetual motion, carrying a tray of coffee and some St. Lucia buns.
St. Lucia buns? What are they? Here’s one:
Came upon these fine specimens while out wandering in the Stockholm archipelago during the summer. Aren’t they cute?
The Social Democratic top spot is really up for grabs now. Wallström and Jämtin, ranked numbers one and two by most commentators, have both dropped out of the race.
So who’s left?
The party wants an electable woman and of the major names Mona Sahlin is the last one standing. But is there anyone else out there. A quick look at the Swedish blogosphere says… not really.
Social Democrat Jonas Morian calls Sahlin “the only realistic candidate”.
Another party man, Eric Sundström, interviewed Margot Wallström for the party newspaper and knew that it wasn’t to be.
“Time for Mona Sahlin to make a comeback,” says editorial writer Håkan Jacobsson.
Per Gudmundson congratulates Sahlin (and the alliance), and points to the opinion of an aging party servant…
Still going strong at 69, Enn Kokk recently called Sahlin “quite lazy” and “terribly unpredictable”.
Henrik Alexandersson puts former finance minister Pär Nuder back in the picture. Sort of:
“So the question is: Sahlin or Nuder? A silly bat or a mean old bore?”
Our Introducing column this week takes you into the Christmas home of Filippa Reinfeldt, bun-baker extraordinaire. For those who wish to delve a bit deeper, here are links (in Swedish) to the “Christmas porn” and “Knutby smile” comments mentioned in the article.
There’s something decidedly unswedish about one of the houses for sale in Gothenburg via agency Bjurfors at the moment.
The asking price is 19 million kronor, which makes it one of the country’s most expensive homes right now, but it’s the extraordinary interior that surprises most. In a land where interior design means any colour so long as it’s white, this is a dream home for any aspiring Bond villain.
“Those are pirhanas, Mr Bond.”
“Sleep well, Mr Bond.“
“The wine is quite excellent, although I had rather expected a claret.“
Photos from Bjurfors. See the full details of the remarkable pad here.
Miscellaneous: December 8th, 2006 by PO
Corrosive criticism of Sweden here from Norway-based writer Bruce Bawer.
The Economist Intelligence Unit, associated with the Economist magazine, has awarded the title of world’s most democratic country to Sweden. For many observers, this is not only wrong ? it’s staggeringly, outrageously misinformed.
Some of the criticism of Sweden’s unwillingness to debate sensitive issues is valid and worthy of further debate.
But a comment such as “the Sweden Democrats enjoy considerable public sympathy” is not really borne out by recent election results. The party, which originally evolved from the openly racist Keep Sweden Swedish movement, received about 3% of the vote in the September election.
Miscellaneous: December 7th, 2006 by PO
A Norwegian in America has the fuel of the future all worked out. Human fat for biodiesel. But of course!
More than sixty percent of Americans are overweight and the Norwegian’s firm in Miami, Florida is in the process of signing an agreement with US hospital giant Jackson Memorial. This deal would give Venøy & Co. around 11,500 liters of human fat a week from liposuction operations, which is enough to produce about 10,000 liters of bio-diesel.
“Maybe we should urge people to eat more so we can create more raw material for fuel,” Venøy said.
Get the whole story on Aftenposten.
Is the owner of Gothenburg salad bar Wild’n Fresh, Sofia Appelgren, right to feel aggrieved about a union blockade of her business? Or is the Hotel And Restaurant Union doing everybody a favour by trying to get her to sign a collective bargaining agreement?
The Local spoke to Appelgren and union representative Daniel Färm to find out the lie of the land.
The real action began two days ago when a union delegation began its blockade of the Wild’n Fresh salad bar in Gothenburg. The proprietor had refused to sign the union’s collective agreement.
Sofia Appelgren takes us back to the start of the tale.
The union wrote to me about three months ago and said they wanted me to come over and discuss collective bargaining agreements.
So I went there and they told me all about it and it sounded very good.
Then I brought the papers back to my staff – I just have a couple of people I bring in for a few hours – and they said they didn’t want to sign anything because they have higher payments without the agreement.
They also have better insurance and they only ever work between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm.
Union spokesman Daniel Färm talks to us from his office in Stockholm. He claims that his organisation has done its homework and reached a different conclusion.
She pays a direct salary which is above the minimum. But with a collective agreement the employees would also be paid for overtime, holidays, absence though illness and so on.
When you add it up these employees actually lose 50,000 kronor each year.
She told her employees that if she signed they would get lower salaries, which is not true. that is unfair treatment
Back in Gothenburg, Sofia Appelgren is having an extremely hectic day. Caught up in the middle of a growing political storm, she resumes her story.
The union gave me two weeks to decide. I listened to my staff, then went back to the union and said no thanks.
They sent my case up to Stockholm and said that I could either decide to sign or expect war. But since I’m on my staff’s side I said no.
One week later I had a really bad letter telling me that there would be war and stating when they would come.
I’m not interested in politics but I know that we live in a democracy and I just can’t believe what is happening.
Now I have twenty people outside my little ten square metre shop. The union people are lying to my customers.
They are telling them that I treat my staff badly and don’t pay them enough and that I force them to smile. All sorts of lies. I am just so tired.
Meanwhile in Stockholm, the union representative explains why his organisation feels the blockade is necessary.
The aim is to gain a fair and decent salary and working conditions for the employees, which is guaranteed in the collective agreements signed by employers and trade unions.
This is the Swedish model, which is supported by all political parties.
It allows strong trade unions the right to seek and pursue the establishment of collective agreements for people working in their particular industries.
In addition, there are a lot of women and people born in other countries who work in the hotel and restaurant industry.
They are already discriminated against and are benefited by collective agreements.
That’s the system in Sweden. We don’t want Swedish jobs competing with lower wages.
Outside Wild’n Fresh, union representatives hand out flyers and engage in debate with a Young Moderate delegation.
The union spokesman in Stockholm has heard from his friends in Gothenburg that the blockade has been marred by ugly scenes today.
Right-wing supporters have spat in our people’s faces.
But this is not an aggressive blockade. We have been working hard in Gothenburg this year and so far 39 employers have signed our agreements.
This is the first time a blockade has been required.
Talking to people, discussing the meanings of fair salaries is not aggressive.
But Appelgren, seeing her livelihood threatened, views the action as very aggressive.
They are just standing there destroying my business. They are there from eight in the morning, before I even get here.
This is my business. I have to live on it.
I can’t afford to think about the past or the present. I have to think about the future, and now I just don’t know what is going to happen.
I thought I was living in a democracy where I could decide these things myself.
Daniel Färm meanwhile is insistent that the union must do everything in its power to prevent price dumping.
We have had a lot of support from people who want to support restaurants which actually have signed collective agreements.
He does not think that the proprietor of Wild’n Fresh is in a position to speak for her employees.
She is not a very credible spokesperson for the employees.
It is very difficult for them to oppose their employer.
But what if they happen to agree with their employer? What if they make their choices as independent individuals who know the implications of union membership but choose to abstain?
We do not think that anybody wants 50,000 kronor less per year.
As for the government, how does the union view the centre-right alliance? With suspicion it seems.
We have had no good answers from the government.
The Moderates say they accept the model we have in Sweden but we don’t think they’re credible.
And the Centre Party has said that it opposes our blockade.
Sofia Appelgren sounds like a woman who would like nothing more than a week on her own in a secluded cottage, far from the bustle of the market hall that houses her small business.
I have a daughter home sick and now I can’t even go home to be with her. There is just so much happening.
I have never had so much to do before. My parents have had to come in to help me.
The place is just full of flowers. It is like a florists in here.
People have been so supportive.
I have to go now. I am so tired.
Miscellaneous: December 7th, 2006 by PO
Are you a woman, dying for a pee, and would prefer to stand like a man than brave the toilet seat?
Tislet – the equality pipe might just be the solution.
(Site in Danish but with international images).
Writing in Wednesday’s Stockholm City, columnist Sakine Madon outs herself as an antisocial Stockholmer (in Swedish):
“Start a conversation on the tube or bus? Never! I’ll leave that to nutcases or country bumpkins or foreigners who haven’t blended in with the capital’s strict norms.”
Sakine admits that she doesn’t speak with neighbours or to people in lifts. But seeing a woman, a drug addict, perhaps, slumped against a wall in Central Station in the morning rush hour at least made her wonder:
“I’m not unique. It still felt a bit strange that a woman sat there alone crying at Centralen and nobody reacted.”
Nutcases, country bumpkins and foreigners – Stockholm needs you.
Offbeat: December 5th, 2006 by PO
What’s a man to do when he has hit retirement age and his wife has passed away?
In the film About Schmidt Jack Nicholson tried to stave off his late-life crisis by hopping into his motorhome and driving across America.
Retired Swedish paper-mill worker Erik Ramgren went about ten steps better. He climbed into his half-built catamaran and just went with the flow, which ended up taking him to Trinidad & Tobago.
The Guardian has the full, incredible story.
Cheers to VikingHumpingWitch for the tip.
Media: December 4th, 2006 by PR
Without wishing to criticise Swedish Television again, the announcement that they have lost the right to broadcast matches from Euro 2008 (that’s a major international soccer tournament, for our American readers) epitomises the organisation’s weakness and lack of direction.
What is the point of having a state broadcaster if it doesn’t broadcast the major national events that bring the whole country together?
The vast majority of SVT’s output is so dull that it makes you want to stab yourself in the leg with a sharpened pencil. Indeed, a few months ago the station’s own journalists criticised the decision to invest in more drama and chat shows.
News is a pre-requisite. But drama is expensive, Sweden doesn’t do it well for television, and it divides audiences. And chat is cheap but short-termist.
The days of bargain rights to broadcast sports are long gone, but SVT should be pulling out all the stops to capture the broadcast rights to the one thing which still gets half the country gathering around the old flat screen. If that means cutting the drama budget to zero, then that’s a satisfactory double-whammy.
It would perhaps be a slight exaggeration to say that access to major sporting events on TV is a basic human right. But national events are few and far between these days and the surge of public feeling associated with a few football matches should be channelled through the state-owned media.
Last year former Big Brother winner Linda Rosing said she wasn’t going to do any more revealing photo shoots. Instead she started a political party, Unika Partiet. The party got 222 votes nationwide in the September general election.
Now she has decided to put politics behind her and go back to the photo studio because “nobody takes me seriously anyway”.
Expressen’s headline on its main page is a tad misleading, mind you: “Forced to disrobe,” they say.
Nonsense. Click the link and you’ll find that if ever there was a voluntary disrobing, this is it.
Offbeat: December 2nd, 2006 by PO
01 – 06 The Farming Collective of the Northwest – “Juche Farming Method is the Only Method”
02 – 01 Latoya Jackson – “C’est La Vie”
03 – 03 MC Cho – “Love The Americans (Hate The Imperialists)”
04 – 05 Hong Sae-Mi featuring MC Cho – “Golden Star for the Fatherland”
05 – 02 Kim Yong Yok – “Together In Defense of Socialism 06″
06 – 08 Bananarama vs. Kim Yong Yok – “Juche In The First Degree”
07 – 11 Korean Anti-Fascist Protection Assembly – “Bombs Over New York City”
08 – 04 The Pipettes – “Pull Shapes”
09 – 14 Scissor Sisters – “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’”
10 – 12 Shark Attack from Tumen River – “Dance! (Give It Your All For The Motherland)”
11 – 07 Mr Jong-Sung – “I Am Blind (But I Can Still See The Revolution)”
12 – 15 Kasabian – “Empire”
13 – NE Lee Jin and the Songun Heroes – “Let’s Gather Mulberry Leaves”
14 – 17 Lily Allen – “Smile (Censored Version)”
15 – 09 Bob Sinclar – “Everybody Movin’”
16 – NE Psapp – “Hi”
17 – 13 Bae Cho-Won – “If Our Party Decides…. We Do”
18 – 19 Lisa Miskovsky – “Mary”
19 – 10 Old Lesbians of Choson – “(People Hold On) Socialism Will Set You Free”
20 – 16 Lee Ji-Ma - “Please Accept Our Salute, Dear Leader”
The Pyongyang Chronicles offers a much needed antidote to the anti-communist hate-mongering of the imperialist west. The Economist may consider Sweden a model democracy. But just because we don?t hear much about the Democratic People?s Republic of Korea doesn?t mean it?s not doing something right. Just ask Lisa Miskovsky!
From the latest edition of the Pyongyang Chronicles:
Korea – One of the Only True Democracies in the World
While most of the world’s population have to deal with dictators and mud-slinging capitalists who lie to citizens to gain their votes, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a shining example of how a true democratic system can prosper in one country.
What? A parody! Really?
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"A week full to the brim with LFC football…. Div 5 LFC match against Nåjdens FK has been moved. This is due to the Svenska Cupen final: 26 May, 17.00 kick off, Nationalarenan Friends Arena, Solna. Next match is on Tuesday (see below). ………………………………………………………… Friday: Div5 Ladies: Rotebro IS FF – Långholmen FC (Skinnaråsens IP) KO: 16.15 ………………………………………………………… Saturday: Vets: Långholmen FC – IFK..." READ »