Since last week (February 26-March 2), The Local has been including a “Word of the Week” in at least one story on every weekday.
We’re encouraging readers to keep a close eye on our stories to see if they can ferret out exactly which word has been chosen to add a bit of linguistic spice to our texts.
Following our mention of the Word of the Week in last week’s Fridayemail, a number of readers submitted their guesses via Twitter including “gobsmacked” and “Estelle”, the name of Sweden’s newest princess.
However, the Word of the Week for February 26-March 2 (known as “Week 9″ in Sweden) was:
Indeed, blistering, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “extremely intense or severe” or “very rapid” appeared in the following five stories last week:
According to online English-Swedish dictionary Tyda.se, the Swedish translations for “blistering” include” brännande”, “svidande” or “hastig”.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the new Word of the Week in stories published this week. The word will be revealed here next week.
Taiwan’s Next Media Animation, which shot to fame late last year for its animated news clip of Elin Nordegren’s alleged attack against then-husband Tiger Woods, has turned its focus again to Sweden.
This time, it has targeted Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf following the publication of controversial biography “Carl XVI Gustaf – the reluctant monarch,” which details rumours of the king’s affairs.Just in case you missed it the first time around, here’s the Tiger video.
Philips’ advertising campaigns for the wake-up light have historically challenged the prestige of the product, testing the wake-up light’s mettle in real life. In this latest campaign, the test is on an epic scale.
Watch the clip for the trailer here.
Philips travels to Longyearbyen, Norway, where winter lasts for four months and the sun doesn’t rise at all in this period. A town where the local people look with dread to the winter months: a time of little enjoyment and confusion. A period when, without the differentiation of day and night, time itself is without meaning.
Enter Philips and the wake-up light with a simple mission: to restore residents Longyearbyen’s daily routine and help them combat the negative impact of living without natural light for four months.
The wake-up light simulates sunrise, allowing users to, perhaps not surprisingly, wake up in an environment similar to a bright summer’s day. The theory behind the experiment is that this will combat the negative effects of waking, living and then going to sleep in darkness and should help the user readjust to a more natural cycle.
The full footage for the experiment will be released in November. Will it work? Wait and see.
These were uploaded on Thursday:
Dolph Lundgren grills a unicorn
Dolph Lundgren loses his head
Just in case you missed it the first time, here’s Lundgren’s rendition of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” at Melodifestivalen in February.
Rooney Mara was spotted on the streets of Stockholm on Wednesday going to a gym and heading to a language school, where she is reportedly learning to speak English with a Swedish accent, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday.
CNN follows the flocks on tourists on the Millennium tour of Stockholm on Wednesday.
True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård appears naked on the cover of Rolling Stone with real-life newlywed co-stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer.
Sometimes older articles on The Local find new life weeks, months or even years after they are initially published when they are picked up by external sites.
Recent examples of this are a sudden spike in traffic of 8,000 readers on June 16th to Swedish parents keep 2-year-old’s gender secret, initially published nearly a year earlier on June 23rd, thanks to a pickup on i am bored.
More recently, on July 8th, Cracked.com cited our article Black Cobra gang steals selection of small cakes from March in a roundup of 5 bizarre real-life gangs, sending 4,700 readers our way to read about their exploits that merited the mention (they came in 3rd).
This week alone, we’ve seen a significant spike on Artists lose out as fans stop burning CDs and Cerebral palsy fraudster gets 3 years in jail thanks to Fark and Swedish women vote to keep their tops on thanks to reddit.
How can we narrow down the dates, numbers and sources of the traffic coming to our site? Google Analytics. We could spend hours tooling around to see where people are coming from to our site, but we would never get any work done.
We love to see where our stories end up on the Internet, so please feel free to share any articles (old or new) that amuse or enrage you from our site (using the buttons at the bottom of each story or elsewhere). And don’t forget to check out our new and improved Facebook page.
The daughter of one of Sweden’s most feared criminals has posed for a popular men’s magazine in a bid to bring shame on her father and give him “a taste of his own medicine”.
In an interview with lad mag Slitz, Jackie Ferm explained that she wanted her father, Lars-Inge Svartenbrandt, to feel ashamed in the same way she felt ashamed all the way through school.
It’s not surprising that young Jackie had a hard time of it. Svartenbrandt is one of Sweden’s most notorious criminals and has spent more than forty years in jail for a string of robberies and violent crimes. He was last arrested as recently as April.
But Jackie admits that she did have a way of responding to the kids who taunted her which involved judicious use of her father’s reputation.
“I told them he’d come and murder them if they didn’t watch out,” said Ferm.
Sweden is often demonised in some quarters stateside as a socialist nightmare where suicide is a national sport and abject misery is the norm. The Daily Show investigates, with hilarious consequences:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M – Th 11p / 10c|
|The Stockholm Syndrome|
… and Part 2
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M – Th 11p / 10c|
|The Stockholm Syndrome Pt. 2|
Everybody panic! The Local has inadvertently sparked what the Swedish press is referring to as the ‘Tingeling Crisis’.
Now as crises go, it’s hardly Cuba or the Berlin Blockade. But in a land such as Sweden, gripped with Eurovision fever, revelations that the Russians were less than pleased with an interval song and dance number at the Melodifestivalen final have quickly spread far and wide.
It started innocently enough: communist whores with red stars on their panties, rampant Russian gangsters, wild Cossack dancers and a bear on a chain… what could possibly go wrong?
“We do not react to eccentricity by some lunatics whose Russophobia should place them in an asylum rather than on Globen’s stage,” the embassy told The Local on Monday morning.
Regional tabloid giant Aftonbladet led the charge with a front page splash and the rest of the Swedish papers soon followed.
Like political voting patterns at the Eurovision, the situation soon spiraled out of control:
State broadcaster SVT sent a bouquet of flowers to the Russian embassy as a gesture of goodwill. The embassy responded that, as far as it was concerned, the danger had passed and Euro-harmony could prevail.
Expressen said SVT was foolish to have apologised.
The state broadcaster said it never really had apologised and the retraction was retracted.
The comedian behind the skit said he might have to rethink a planned Trans-Siberian railroad trip this summer .
The Social Democrats’ foreign policy spokesman said the Swedish foreign ministry should stand up for freedom of expression.
Even Vladimir Lenin was dusted off and dragged into the debate.
Furthermore, the finer points of Russian sensibilities and Swedish humour have been discussed at length on television and radio talk shows.
The upshot: Nuclear war has been averted for now. But never again must we allow such a frightening array of outdated clichés to threaten our peace and security.
In case you missed it, here’s the clip that almost pushed us to the brink:
Media: February 11th, 2009 by PO
The Local’s Managing Editor James Savage has just had an article published on Swedish opinion website Newsmill. “Your neighbour’s income is none of your business“, he argues.
At the bottom of every Newsmill article, readers are asked for their opinion. In this case, the question up for “milling” is: How do you feel about publication of income details? Angry, bored, curious or happy [Arg, Uttråkad, Nyfiken, Glad].
For those of you who speak Swedish, we recommend you have a read and have your say.
The article will also be published in English on The Local next week. But even if you don’t speak Swedish, here’s the central argument if you want to pop over to Newsmill and give your view:
The purpose of the principle public access to official documents is for citizens to hold the state to account, in the public interest. The way politicians and state employees use their power and the public’s money should, of course, be open to public scrutiny. Finding out other people’s incomes might be interesting to the public, but that does not mean that it is in the public interest.
There’s an old joke about a couple from Småland, a province in southern Sweden, who win a million kronor on the lottery. “What shall we do with all the begging letters,” asks the wife. “Keep on sending them,” her husband replies.
Perhaps, though, the Smålänningar (as the region’s allegedly tight-fisted inhabitants are known) will have the last laugh as the rest of the world braces for a bumpy economic ride.
The world’s most famous Smålänning, Ingvar Kamprad, appears to have braced IKEA for the downturn by living up to the stereotype. Instead of taking advantage of cheap credit, IKEA borrowed little. Instead of selling boom-time luxuries, Kamprad has always behaved as though every one of his customers was a stereotypical stingy Smålänning.
The words of current CEO Anders Dahlvig in this Time interview are perhaps testament to the virtues of living frugally:
This is a really good time for us. The way we’ve set up our business, we’re planning for a climate like this all the time. We have a very conservative policy when it comes to borrowing money. We basically only use our retained earnings and don’t borrow very much. We also have a very conservative policy when it comes to how we place our cash and our liquidity. We don’t place anything in equities, so we haven’t lost a dime so far. And the way we position our brand is as good value for the money. People know when they have less money what Ikea stands for.
Britain, we were led to believe at the weekend, is outraged at dastardly foreign attempts to banish busty beauties from the nation’s billboards. The root of their anger was Swedish politicians who, having failed to get sexist ads banned on the home front, scored a win in Brussels.
The Daily Mail, an organ never to miss an opportunity for a bit of Euro-bashing (or, indeed, dredge up images from old Wonderbra ads), was breathless with indignation after a committee of Euro-MPs demanded that EU countries put a stop to any ads that reinforce gender stereotypes. The person behind this controversial plan is none other than Eva-Britt Svensson, a Swedish Left Party MEP and vice chairperson of the European Parliament’s women’s rights committee. The author of the report seems to have swallowed an undergraduate gender studies textbook:
‘Gender stereotyping in advertising straitjackets women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles that are often degrading, humiliating and dumbed down for both sexes.’
Actually, the chances of any country being forced to ban anything is close to nil (no law has been passed – the European Parliament’s women’s rights committee has just recommended a course of action that governments are free to ignore, as they no doubt will, despite the parliament voting to adopt the report), but if you’ve been in Sweden for the past few years, the proposal had a familiar ring.
ERK’s rulings have led to accusations that it was trying to act as the ‘thought police’. They have also raised a number of questions: is sexy advertising always sexist? Why should advertisers be expected to be more politically correct than the consumers they target? Whatever happened to free speech? And besides, surely the whole business should be self-regulating: consumers won’t buy products if the ads are offensive? The controversial nature of ERK’s work also has the self-defeating side-effect that the ads it censures are guaranteed lots of free publicity in the tabloids.
ERK’s rulings don’t have the force of law, but earlier this year an official committee proposed going one step further and banning all material “with a commercial aim” that could be “construed as offensive to women or men.”
Equality minister Nyamko Sabuni refused to adopt the report’s findings, saying: “I don’t want to infringe on fundamental human freedoms and rights for a law the efficacy of which I question. This is not the way to win the fight for gender equity.” Defeated on home soil, it looks like Svensson is seeing whether the battle can be won elsewhere. She probably shouldn’t hold her breath – in the UK, at least, even the left-wing papers are subjecting the idea to ridicule.
Charlie Brooker in the Guardian wonders what effects non-sexist ads might have:
I can scarcely picture what kind of patronising hell we’d be creating for ourselves there. And what if it worked? What if all our ads were suddenly filled with ladylike men eating chocolates and butch ladettes swigging beer, and these images proved so influential that everyone started behaving that way in real life, until these brave new anti-stereotypes had become stale old actual stereotypes, so we had to start all over again by subverting our old subversions?
Equally cutting is an article by Claire Beale, editor of ad-industry magazine Campaign. Calling the report “fatuous bureaucratic meddling,” she describes it as “the legislative equivalent of one of those We Love the 70s programmes, a real trip down time warp lane.”
Ads are never going to be subtle, she continues:
Does advertising deal in stereotypes? Of course. When you’ve only got 30 seconds or a glance to make an impact on a broad group of people you don’t have time to invent a new language. You tap into common themes, ideas and images to create an instant connection.
Svensson’s poorly-presented arguments might leave an open goal for her opponents, but the failure to pass a similar law in Stockholm must beg the question: if rules like this haven’t worked in politically correct Sweden, how on earth could they be made to work elsewhere?
There is some good news for those who think advertising is sexist, though – things have improved over the past 50 years, as these ads show.
Media: September 2nd, 2008 by PO
Would you like to be a member of our readers’ panel?
The Local is looking for eight people — four foreigners living in Sweden and four native Swedes — to answer a few short questions a month about life in Sweden.
We’re not looking for Nobel prize winners in literature, just people with a genuine interest in Swedish news and society and who are willing to share their experiences of living here
The only people who need not apply are the anonymous and the camera shy: we will want to publish your name, photo and some brief personal details.
If you are interested in being a member of our readers’ panel, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to welcoming you to The Panel.
People like to complain that American news outlets never spend any time covering foreign news. In contrast to Swedish broadcasters, which spend ample time covering international affairs, US national news programs rarely devote much air time to other countries (save those with which the US may be at war).
Thus, imagine our surprise upon seeing that NBC News, one of the traditional ‘Big 3′ television news networks in the US, devoted a precious 3 minutes and change (more than 10 percent!) of Monday evening’s broadcast to Sweden and it’s penchant for green living.
The King is eloquent as usual, but the mayor of Växjö left us puzzled with his talk of ‘whips and carrots’. See for yourself:
Now the question is whether SVT would ever bother to find a topic where the US can teach Swedes a thing or two, and dedicate an equal amount of air time to it.
What would you suggest?
For Polly Toynbee, doyenne of the column pages of the Guardian, Sweden has long been the promised land. For her, it was the one place that prioritised welfare over tax cuts, took redistribution of wealth seriously and gave the state a sufficiently big role in the lives of its citizens. She has vehemently expressed her displeasure with the Swedish electorate for voting out the Social Democrats in 2006. So far, fair enough.
Problem is, to judge by her latest article, she doesn’t really know an awful lot about Sweden. Despite frequent trips over here, the article is riddled with misunderstandings and embarrassing factual errors – as contributors to our discussion forum have pointed out.
It’s tempting to leave Polly be, given that we’re bound to be accused of grinding political axes, but the readers of her article deserve to be given an accurate account of the facts. Here is what she got wrong:
What has Reinfeldt done? A lot more than voters bargained for. Welfare reform has been radical: benefits are cut and so are taxes. Everyone in work gets new tax credits: in Britain tax credits are benefits aimed at the poorest, in Sweden they are tax cuts for all.
All this was in the Alliance’s joint manifesto and was debated ad nauseam in the run-up to the election in endless news programmes and televised debates.
Tax credits for people in work were a central plank of the Alliance’s plan to get more people into the labour market.
The Swedish media are nothing if not thorough when it comes to debating the minutiae of policy, and this proposal was no exception. Other tax cuts included the reform of property tax. In fact, the cuts to this tax have been smaller than initially suggested.
In short, while it can be claimed that the ideas have since lost popularity, Toynbee should not imply that the policies of the government differ from those on which they won the election.
Cuts have been made to benefits for the long-term unemployed and to people on long periods of sick leave.
Again, all in the manifesto.
Also, worth remembering that Swedish unemployment benefits are still pretty generous compared to most other countries. For a start, even now Swedes who are members of the unemployment schemes earning under 23,000 kronor a month (about £23,000 a year) get 80 percent of their former income for the first 80 days of unemployment. The difference is that after 200 days this falls to 70 percent. After 450 days it falls to 65 percent. People whose previous earnings were over 23,000 a month get 680 kronor a day for the whole time.
National insurance contributions have been raised sharply, with the unplanned effect that nearly half a million of the lowest paid have walked away from the scheme, leaving them nothing if they lose their jobs.
What Polly is referring to is premiums to the union-run unemployment insurance (A-Kassa) schemes. The rises have indeed led to lots of people leaving the schemes.
However, those who leave the schemes are not ‘left nothing if they lose their jobs’, contrary to what Toynbee says. Everyone is eligible for council-administered subsistence benefits, even if they are not members of the A-Kassa.
Since the scheme is administered via the unions, union membership has dropped by the same amount
True that union membership has fallen, but wrong to imply that this is simply down to A-Kassa changes. The picture is more complex.
Contrary to what Toynbee appears to believe, although the A-Kassa schemes are run by the unions, membership of the A-Kassa and membership of the union are today completely separate. You don’t have to be a union member to belong to a scheme, nor is there any obligation on members of most unions to belong to a scheme.
In service sector union TCO, for example, many have left the A-Kassa while staying in the union. TCO’s boss, while blaming the increased A-Kassa premiums for a portion of the drop in membership, has admitted that much of the fall is due to the fact that many young people no longer see the point in joining a union. Union membership was already falling before the current government took office.
This wasn’t what the public voted for and polls show Reinfeldt’s government extremely unpopular.
The second half of this statement is partially true, to judge by opinion polls (see below). The first half is more debatable – pretty much everything the government has done was in its manifesto.
Meanwhile more of the health service is contracted out, with GPs free to charge for the first time, raising alarms that they are moving out of poor areas to richer places where they can earn more.
It is true that healthcare providers in Stockholm have been given more freedom to decide where and how to establish surgeries. It is also true that there are signs that this is leading to clinics leaving poorer areas and moving into middle-class areas. But it is not true that GP’s are ‘free to charge for the first time’. Even under the Social Democrats, Swedes had to pay to use the health service – including paying a fee every time they visited the doctor, had an x-ray, went to the dentist etc. That remains true today, but the current government is not to blame.
State-owned Absolut vodka has been sold to the French, and state-owned liquor stores are about to be sold off too.
First part true; second part absolutely made up. Some people in the Moderate Party would love to abolish the Systembolaget liquor stores, but it is light years from being government policy. In fact, the government has made strenuous efforts to defend Systembolaget against challenges to various aspects of the monopoly from the European Commission.
Something Toynbee also seems to have failed to notice is that this is not a Moderate Party government, it is an Alliance government of four parties, three of which are strongly opposed to getting rid of Systembolaget. In fact, the public health minister, responsible for Systembolaget, is a Christian Democrat – and they are if anything even keener than the Social Democrats of keeping booze sales in government hands.
Museums that were always free now charge high entry fees – for British visitors a crisp reminder of the Thatcher years.
True that museums are now charging entry fees. False that they were ‘always free’. Entry charges were abolished by the Social Democrats in 2005.
At present, the Swedes look certain to vote out the right: the nation’s history is of social democracy punctuated by brief evictions as wake-up warnings. This time they voted for a wolf in sheep’s clothing and are now appalled at what may be permanent damage to the successful Swedish model of cooperation between unions and industry, with high taxes and a generous welfare state.
True that the Alliance has trailed in the polls since being elected, and the Social Democrats look like a reasonably fair bet for 2010, but it is frankly taking it a bit far to suggest that they ‘look certain to vote out the right.’ In a Skop poll two days ago, the opposition was leading the government by about 5 points, Reinfeldt & Co having closed the gap substantially since their nightmare start. If Reinfeldt’s five percent poll deficit is a signal of certain defeat, then Gordon Brown, trailing by 11 points, must be heading for electoral annihilation.
The Swedish social democrats have a popular new leader in Mona Sahlin.
Well, she’s reasonably popular, and certainly more popular than Göran Persson was in the run-up to the last election. Thing is, she’s still less popular than Fredrik Reinfeldt, according to a poll published by Synovate last month. In another poll released by Demoskop last month, Reinfeldt is more popular among both women and men, and beats her in all age categories.
In Be Kind Rewind, a new film starring Jack Black, the zany actor brings a new word to the lexicon of film: to Swede.
According to the film’s website:
Sweding is re-making something from scratch using whatever you can get your hands on.
Hmmm…not sure what to make of that.
For more background, you can also check out this YouTube clip:
The question we have is how Swedes themselves feel about having been made into a verb, and whether or not the act of ‘Sweding’ is at all reflective of Swedes or Swedish culture.
Back in the day, great novels were sometimes published over several months through installments appearing in popular periodicals. Swedish publisher Förlaget Illuminated has revived the trend with one of the most well-read books of all time.
The Wall Street Journal this week spilled some ink on the company’s serial publication of the Bible. Among other places, glossy, photo-enhanced books of the Bible started appearing last spring in places one usually doesn’t go hunting for spiritual guidance: news stand Pressbyrån.
According to WSJ,
The Swedish-language Bible marries the standard text to glossy magazine-style design. Full-color pages are illustrated with a striking combination of news and dramatized photographs: a homeless child wrapped in a sweater on the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, illustrates the book of Job; a man who drowned trying to enter Europe, for Deuteronomy; and models posing in stylized scenes convey joy or despair. Bible passages are pulled out as captions.
What is one to make of the decision to hawk the Bible along side titles like Cosmopolitan, Elle, and weekly news magazines?
Of course, Sweden has always had a unique relationship with Christianity, even before attaining the status of one of the world’s most secularized countries. After all, the daughter of the great King Gustav II who died fighting for Protestantism in the Thirty Years’ War, Queen Christina, eventually abdicated her post and fled to Rome to convert to Catholicism.
She was the first (only?) Swede–and woman–to get a final resting place among the Popes buried at St. Peter’s.
According a bishop quoted in the piece, Swedes–just like everyone else–apparently still have some of life’s ‘big questions’ left to figure out.
Although Sweden is one of the most secularized countries in the world, we are seeing a growing interest in existential questions across the Western world, of which [Bible Illuminated] is a part,” says Antje Jackelén, the bishop of Lund, in southern Sweden. “As people travel, as they are presented with a growing multiculturalism at home, they are thinking harder about what it means to be from a culture that is formed by Christianity.
Media: December 17th, 2007 by PR
Residents of Sweden may have seen posters for West End Star, a new reality TV show to find the next star of the Monty Python musical Spamalot. The show is in London but the producers turned to Sweden for the role of The Lady of the Lake.
The Daily Telegraph’s Marc Lee met the ten wannabees.
There’s the show jumper (Viktoria), the opera diva (Petra), the rock chick (Nina), the check-out girl (Karin), the student (Josefine), the waitress (Susannah), the pro (Divina), the mother (Sandra) and the sisters (Linda and Jenny).
Before long, the talk turns to sex.
“Why is it,” demands Viktoria, “that the British think Sweden is full of blonde girls all running around naked?”
Another wonders why we Brits are so uncomfortable discussing sex. (I have no sensible response.) “I remember my first time…” says Jenny with a wistful smile.
“I haven’t done it yet,” claims Nina, mischievously. “And I’ve only done it once,” says Sandra, pointing to the seven-week-old baby she’s cradling in her arms. In a disastrous attempt to change the subject, I inquire about the one word of Swedish included in the publicity material: what exactly is slutcasting? Stony silence: it seems by mispronouncing it so expertly, I have insulted everyone.
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