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Archive for June, 2007

ABBA: Adult listening

Music: June 19th, 2007 by PO

Pitchfork has a listen to the adult nature of ABBA’s lyrics.

ABBA’s adultness, or darkness, is mostly strictly optional. In the same way as their characters lead well-ordered lives while suffering the occasional regret and pang of anxiety, ABBA never let their existential worries get in the way of their day job: writing immediately fabulous pop music.

The anatomy of the Swedish crime novel

Books: June 19th, 2007 by PO

What do four of Sweden’s most celebrated crime novelists share, other than international success, a fistful of prizes, and a hectic tour schedule?

The Philadelphia Inquirer has some insight.

‘Finnish girls have big breasts’ – Linnaeus

Science: June 19th, 2007 by PO

The Guardian is pointing its readers in the direction of Carl Linnaeus’s little known Notes from Lapland.

Keeping a record of his five-month trip to the far north of Sweden, the renowned botanist mixed observations on rare plants with reflections on the wider society.

He noted for example a hole in a church wall used by monks “to judge the glans penis of men who had been rejected by their wives.”

As for the female form, the Swedish scientist had plenty to say. For instance:

Finnish girls have big breasts, Lapp girls have small ones of a sort a girl keeps unspoilt for her future husband.

It’s the 300th anniversary of Linnaeus’s birth this year and he’s still stirring things up.

End of the road for Sweden’s ‘tarnished socialist dream’?

Politics: June 18th, 2007 by PO

Has Sweden turned its back on socialism? Josiah R. Baker of the The Washington Times seems to think so:

At age 41, Mr. Reinfeldt is a member of this younger generation of Swedes that strives to embrace the changing global economy while adjusting existing cultural and institutional rules away from a tarnished socialist dream that sheltered Sweden for so many years.

Swedish ‘tree tsars’ push for greener future

Climate, Society, Swedish Life: June 18th, 2007 by PO

Australian newspaper The Age praises Sweden in general, and Vxj in particular, as environmental pioneers for a greener era.

The newspaper devotes five pages to the measures being taken to reduce emissions and turn the country into an eco-powerhouse”.

The growth of biofuel is one example of an area in which Sweden can excel.

The answer may lie in Sweden’s Arctic north, where locals refer to their vast forests as “green gold”.

“The world has oil sheikhs who made their money from black gold, the idea is that we will become tree tsars in the biofuel era,” says one local, laughing.

Swedes retain licence to snoop

Society: June 18th, 2007 by PO

The Associated Press takes a peek at the snoop culture that emerged after website ratsit.se made it possible to check your neighbour’s income with a simple click of the mouse:

As for Sweden’s principle of openness:

It is a gold mine for journalists, who routinely sift through tax forms and income statements to get information on public officials. But private citizens are generally more shy about heading down to the tax office and requesting information on their neighbors.

This is not quite accurate. Even before the advent of Ratsit, it was possible to simply place a phone call to the tax office and request the income details of a friend or foe; anonymity guaranteed.

Web-based credit checks made the process that bit easier. But the principle remains the same.

Resettling Iraqis: Sweden’s responsibility?

Miscellaneous: June 18th, 2007 by PO

Who should be taking care of the Iraqi’s displaced as a result of the US-led war in the country. The Washington Times has an opinion:

The government of Sweden has offered to resettle 25,000 Iraqis and has dealt generously with the tens of thousands of Iraqi asylum-seekers arriving on its border. The U.S. unquestionably has a greater responsibility than the government of Sweden to respond to this humanitarian nightmare.

UK evangelist claims to heal Swedes

Offbeat, Society: June 18th, 2007 by PO

Is Sweden a good place for evangelical Christian healing?

For a ‘post-Christian’ nation with a declining Church, and the highest suicide rate in Europe, it might seem an unlikely place for miracle stories.

It actually doesn’t take a miracle worker to figure out that Sweden in fact does not have anything like the highest suicide rate in Europe. Statistics will usually do the trick. But we digress.

UK evangelist Paul Bennison has just been in Sweden to do the work the medical professional thought impossible:

Two people suffering from long-term strokes got out of their wheelchairs and walked out of the churches; a not-yet-Christian young woman (Linda), suffering from chronic neck and upper back pain felt water running down my back as I prayed for her, and as Heidi prophesied, every time we said the name Jesus she felt electric shocks pass through her.

Disclaimer: No electrodes were used during the performing of these miracles.

Alcohol-free Midsummer in Illinois

Society: June 18th, 2007 by PO

Ah, Midsummer. Sun all day round, dancing around the maypole and grown-ups playing leapfrog after copious quantities of beer and snaps.

At least that’s how the annual festivities are celebrated in these parts. Not so in Geneva, Illinois:

Sponsored by the local chapter of the International Organization of Good Templars, Swedish Day is an alcohol-free celebration of the Scandinavian tradition of Midsommar, the longest day of the year in Sweden.

Though short on booze the Kane County Swedish community assures us that there will be plenty of potatoes, herring, pancakes and lingonberries.

Swedish 1950s town planning: Window between kitchen and bathroom

Architecture, Society: June 15th, 2007 by PO

Workers’ dream or modernist nightmare? Vllingby in northern Stockholm was the blueprint for the so-called ABC town, which was “closely related to the social democratic idea of an ideal city and social environment.”

Qultures takes a look at the thinking behind this monument to political town planning.

The apartments have many features that cater for the modern family of the 1950s. For instance the mother could prepare food in the kitchen while keeping an eye out on her children in the bathtub. How? Through a window in the kitchen that looks into the bathroom.

Tourist tip: Kiruna

Tourism: June 15th, 2007 by PO

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells you why you should make your way up to the mining city above the Arctic Circle:

In summer, climbing 6,986-foot Mount Kebnekaise (Sweden’s highest), hiking in national parks, fishing, hunting, riding the rapids, biking, rock climbing, a trip to an elk farm and golfing are some of the activities available in an area that many call the last wilderness in Europe. Visitors from the end of May through mid-July have the added plus of 24 hours of daylight, the fabled midnight sun.

Vladimir Putin invites Swedish King to 2014 Winter Olympics

Newsbites, Politics, Sport: June 15th, 2007 by PO

Sweden’s King Karl XVI Gustav was in Moscow to meet President Putin on Thursday.

The King is reported to have been somewhat taken aback when Putin invited him to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, mainly because Russia hasn’t yet won the right to host the event:

Well, that’s a long way off, the king mumbled. It is hard to get the Olympics. Sweden has tried for a long time to receive the right to host the Olympic Games, but so far without luck

Tourist tip: The Dala Horse

Society, Tourism: June 15th, 2007 by PO

The Dala Horse is as Swedish as meatballs and the welfare state. But what are its origins?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent Betty Gordon to the Museum of Swedish Wooden Horses to get the inside track on the equine ornaments.

Iraqis in ‘Mesopotlje’ – Feature

Society: June 13th, 2007 by PO

The New York Times has an in-depth look at the influx of Iraqis to the eastern town of Sdertlje:

Now areas like Ronna and Hovsjo, with the seven-story, boxlike apartment buildings typical of these Swedish versions of Frances blighted immigrant neighborhoods or Americas urban housing projects, are being nicknamed Little Baghdad and Mesopotalje, complete with shops hawking Iraqi delicacies, crowded apartments and innumerable stories of carnage and loss.

‘Government in danger of collapse’

Politics: June 13th, 2007 by PO

Australia’s Melbourne Community Voice gets it wrong.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s coalition government is in danger of collapse, with eight parliamentary members of Reinfeldt’s own Conservative Moderate Party threatening to revolt if the party does not officially support gay marriage legislation.

While there is disagreement on the gay marriage issue, no Swedish media have suggested anything like an imminent collapse for the centre-right government.

Foreign trade minister visits South Korea

Business, Politics: June 13th, 2007 by PO

Anybody worried as to the whereabouts of Sten Tolgfors? Fret not, the minister for foreign trade has just been to South Korea, The Seoul Times reports:

“South Korea is a significant cooperation partner for Sweden and an increasingly important global actor,” said the minister. “Trade between our two countries has great potential.”

Sweden loses longest dandelion title

Offbeat: June 13th, 2007 by PO

The big news today is that Sweden’s record for the world’s longest dandelion has been shattered by neighbouring Norway.

Bjorn Magne of Klove found the giant weed, which measured 42 inches, while on a hike through the forest with his mother.

For fourteen years the record stood but 11-year-old Magne has raised the bar for weed-hunters everywhere.

Pop group’s success ‘has a backside’

Music: June 13th, 2007 by PO

Well, they may have meant ‘downside’ rather than ‘backside’ but Swedish kids are going crazy for German pop sensation Tokio Hotel.

They just released their first record in Sweden last week. But already now the Tokio Hotel hysteria is total.
The fans throw used underwear at us lead vocalist Bill Kaulitz says.

The four boys in the band were met by around 1,500 hysterical fans when they arrived at Bengans record store in Stockholm on Wednesday.

There was plenty of sweat, tears and sheer panic on display. And that was just the security guards. Aftonbladet was there.

Celebrating Britain Day the Swedish way?

Society: June 11th, 2007 by PO

Will Britain emulate Sweden by instigating a vague national day that nobody really knows how to celebrate. The Economist looks at the latest developments before going on to discuss the Swedish experience.

Two British ministers have re-opened the tortuous subject of Britishness. Ruth Kelly and Liam Byrne, both prominent Blairite-turned-Brownite ministers, have proposed creating “Britain day”something that Gordon Brown happens to be keen on.

Paedophile site hosted by Pirate Bay – Debate

Society: June 11th, 2007 by PO

Last week The Local ran a story about a paedophile website hosted by PRQ, a company co-owned by two of The Pirate Bay’s founders.

Popular file-sharing website Zero Paid gets involved in the debate:

How are we to ever be able to judge the falsehoods and misguided thoughts that make up people’s convictions if we are never able to consider them in their own words? The ability to hear even the most heinous of thoughts and opinions is critical to make an informed and educated conviction about them.

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