• Sweden's news in English
 
almadalen_header

Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

White or Black tie? Swedish funeral dress code

April 20th, 2015 by Boston Blatte

I wear a white tie, right?”

The Swedish husband asked me, the immigrant from across the pond. I had to suppress a giggle despite the somber reality of why the question was asked. We will bury my mother-in-law on Thursday. She often giggled together with me when we poked fun at her son with his moments of utter cluelessness regarding occasional Swedish customs and traditions.

white or black tie funeral

“Yes, a white tie.”

He’s worn white ties to the funerals of his farfar (paternal grandmother,) his morfar (maternal grandfather,) his mormor (maternal grandmother,) and his father. And black ties to the funerals of his great aunt and his sister’s in-laws.

By deduction you can figure out the custom requires white tie for close family members and black tie for other family or related. Other attendees simply wear somber ties.

For non-Swedes, especially coming from the US where “white tie” and “black tie” are dress codes for more festive formal wear, this can sound confusing. Those would best be understood as “frack” (white tie) and “smoking” (black tie).
swedish white tie black tie

First published here.

Report abuse »

One Swede’s Trash. One Immigrant’s Treasure.

March 11th, 2015 by Boston Blatte

We junked our car today. 20 years old, failed inspection and repair costs exceeding its worth and value to us. We tried to give it away to a poor soul in need of car willing to shell out a few thousand and maybe put in some elbow grease.
trash car

No takers.

So I found an enterprising company, based way out in Strängnäs, which not only picked up the car but also paid me 500kr for the privilege to dunk the junk. A closer-to-home business would have taken the car for free if I could get it to them. If it had to be towed, it would have cost me 500kr.

I liked the gumption of a company offering a service to take the trash off my hands, sure they could profit on the salvage, and throwing me a bone for knowing it, too.

Win-win trumps me-lose.

I got to talking to the repo man, Safi, as he loaded the car. I was curious how the business worked. As you expect, they profit on the parts and scrap. My heap would turn them a profit of somewhere over 5000kr.

No, it’s not a new business concept, but in wealthy countries like Sweden (and more so in Sister-in-Sw-land, Switzerland), people more often dispose of the unwanted, albeit in a recycling kind of way, than try to repurpose.

Safi, like the owner/entrepreneur, Ali, are from Afghanistan. The other 7-8 employees are all immigrants from Arab countries. It’s the success story of determined immigrant creating a business and employing newcomers.

I asked the delicate question of income and benefits.Turns out, Ali paying Safi a decent salary, does Business Like a Swede.

See the video produced by TCO “Business like a Swede” from their “Like a Swede” series.

Ours was one of the oldest and least “fresh” cars Safi has picked up. He told me that recently they took a 2011 model that had been in an accident. The owners didn’t have enough insurance to make it worthwhile. That car turned a nearly 50,000 kr profit when they fixed it up and sold it.

I’m glad that a fellow immigrant will make some money on my trashed car. I’m even more content that it will provide jobs for immigrants who would struggle to gain access to the job market. And it’s good for the environment.

I never thought I would get so much out of sending a doomed car to the crusher.

(This post first published here)

Report abuse »

Sweden Off Road. See it “Street View”.

March 9th, 2015 by Boston Blatte

Google has taken StreetView off road…and hit the trails. New name: TrailView, TrekView?

In September 2014 Google strapped their globular camera, aptly named Google Trekker, to the guy below. His job was to lug it along Kungsleden, or The King’s Trail in northern Sweden to let us see what he saw via Google Street View.
google trekker
There are over 20 sites in Sweden that Street View has captured.

Save the rather irritating entrance fee to get into Stockholm’s Storkyrkan or see what it would feel like to be center of attention at the Ericson Globe.

Or one of my most favorite places to visit in Sweden, Ales Stenar, the megalithic monument in southern Sweden in an oval outline, a sort of Swedish Stonehenge.

Not a bad way to get around Sweden if you can’t be here for real.
google view

Originally posted here.

Report abuse »

Swedish Media: Naive contributors to growing anti-Semitism

March 1st, 2015 by Boston Blatte

Swedish media mean well. They really do.

swedish media

They’re a fading breed of champions for the downtrodden, the impoverished, and the misunderstood. They aim to slay socio-economic injustices and inspire the collective to repent when our societal stragglers fall behind. They might think they speak for the collective social conscious of Swedish society. Whatever the motive, they mean well. But then, defenders of the perceived moral majority don’t always get it right. And maybe it’s because their hearts are in it that the righteousness sometimes backfires. And when you know that you fight against evils like anti-Semitism, you’re probably among the last to realize that you contribute equally to anti-Semitism.

The road to anti-Semitism is paved with good intentions. Olle Wästberg seems to agree. In his February 2015 newsletter (in Swedish), under his headline, “Anti-Semitism – Swedish blind spot” he writes, “Sweden lacks self-awareness when it comes to seeing anti-Semitism.”

Nothing has been more obvious than just after the Copenhagen attacks, Sweden made worldwide news when a reporter from one of its state-sponsored media arms, Radio Sweden, asked the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman,“Do the Jews themselves, have any responsibility for the growing anti-Semitism”?

Yikes.

Upload the uncensored interview and listen here.

Since the interview the reporter, Helena Groll, and the editorial leadership of Studio Ett from Radio Sweden all apologized for the line of questioning. The apology goes so far that in a historical decision, Sweden Radio has edited the archived interview. The insensitive question was ‘doctored’ to remove offense. The sentiment is right, the censorship is questionable.

Apologies were certainly in order, but has this moment opened up Swedish media’s eyes and will help prevent future passive anti-Semitism? I doubt it.

One of her peers in Swedish media has come to her defense. Mats Svegfors writing in Sweden daily, Dagens Nyheter, defended Groll for her use of “journalistic] method to ask contradictory questions.” After which, he quickly qualifies, “I think it’s hair raising to hold ‘Jews’ or ‘The Jews’ individually or as a collective, responsible for the political decisions of the State of Israel or for the opinions of a number of confrontational Jewish activists express.”

Exactly.

swedish israeli flag pin
Two nations. Not the flag of Jews in Sweden.

But why doesn’t he or nearly no one else query the Swedish media’s choices when representing Jews in Sweden or Denmark? Why was Studio Ett interviewing the Israeli Ambassador at all? And why did Aktuellt use an image of the Israeli flag when discussing the rise in anti-Semitism in Sweden?

Jews in Sweden (and Denmark) are NOT Israelis and the Israeli flag is NOT the Jewish flag.

Swedish Jewish flag

A proposed flag to represent Swedish Jews.

The one voice bucking the trend is in an opinion piece in Sweden daily, Svenska Dagbladet written by Maria Ludvigsson. Its headline says it all, “There is no Jewish flag“. Ludvigsson was critical to the passive anti-Semitism during a Swedish Television Aktuellt news broadcast from Copenhapen when the Aktuell reporter, Thomas Lundström called the Israeli flag, “The Jewish Flag.” Ludvigsson wrote, “The ignorance seems widespread and a most often needed reminder that not all Jews are Israelis and all Israelis and not Jews either. That this ignorance is also reflected in our public service channels is bad.”

I don’t live with a daily threat of being hated, threatened or attacked for being a Jew because, well, I’m not Jewish. Not ethnically. Not religiously. Most Jews are both.

I’m not an expert on anti-Semitism, but the “good guys”, even if they mean well, have got to educate themselves and stop the passive contribution to the growing anti-Semitism plaguing Sweden, the Nordics and the rest of Europe. Now.

The editorial above was first published here.

Report abuse »

Sweden politics: MP Romson finds it tough to walk the talk

October 6th, 2014 by Boston Blatte

Åsa Romson, the new Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and Minister for the Environment, has had a turbulent first day on the job.

Åsa Romson

She has been criticized for having committed two environmentally unfriendly -hence hypocritical sins.

Firstly, using toxic hull paint for her boat and secondly, taking off from Bromma Airport, en route to an informal meeting of EU Energy and Environmental Ministers in Milan, Italy.

The boat paint issue from this morning seemed to be nothing more than a sensational witch hunt. The environmental concern is valid and regards the copper content of the paint she used in 2011 when painting the hull of her boat.

witch hunt

However, a little digging easily produces a link showing that the paint Romson had used was banned from being sold by the producer in 2011, then banned from retail sales in 2012 and banned from usage in 2013. In other words, she was doing what was advised as environmentally safe at the time. Time to put down the pitchforks folks.

Yet, she did manage to get herself into a more reasonable quandary when she boarded a flight originating from Bromma Airport, just outside Stockholm. Romson and the Green Party have been critical of the airport and are strongly behind a move to close it. She was outspoken this summer during her speech at Almedalen saying Varför ska en man på affärsresa ha en egen central flygplats när den kvinnliga studenten inte har någonstans att bo? (Why should a man on a business trip have his own centrally located airport while the female student doesn’t have a place to live?)

bromma airport

This is a more valid criticism towards Romson’s political practice of her proverbial preaching. If your stance is that the airport is both an environmental problem and used for those in privilege then boycott the airport as the Minister for the Environment. Demand that flights for Green Party ministers only leave from Arlanda and require them to take the train to and from.

So far only her press secretary, Adam Bergsveen, has given a statement. According to him Romson had no other alternative because the government plane was booked before she took on her official role. “There isn’t much we can do about it.”

I say, poppycock. From the time Romson knew she would take her ministerial role she knew she would be the representative from Sweden to attend the meeting today in Milan. She could easily have arranged another way to get there not requiring the use of Bromma.

Let’s hope that this will be her last flight out of Bromma while she holds her post.

Doubt it.

Report abuse »

Roma band to Almedalen: We beg your pardon

June 17th, 2014 by Boston Blatte

Over in the news section of The Local, an article’s headline proclaims: “Beggar symphony to play at Almedalen”

roma musician

The Roma in Sweden have been in the Swedish news quite a lot of late. (quick search on TL for “roma”)Mostly, it’s about the influx of beggars, who are primarily from Romania. The new trend is tight on the heels of discoveries of police registers by the Swedish police of Swedes of Roma ancestry. And then there’s the political spin featured by the über nationalistic Sweden Democrats.

In other words, mention ROMA, Romanians or beggars and you’ll get people’s attention.

The project, Tunnelbanan till Almedalen, will bring a dozen Romanian street musicians to Sweden’s largest political event, Almedalen, to perform Sweden’s national anthem. They will play on Tuesday, the day the Sweden Democrats are hosting. Yep, we’ve got some political posturing going on, and nicely chosen if you ask me.

The estimated cost to transport and house the (all-male?) band to Almedalen = 15,000SEK. The funding source? Crowd funding.

That’s all good. The more we get the everyday Svensson involved the more awareness we raise and the stronger the message becomes.

However, the cynic in me walks on the scene when I read that its organizer, Max Valentin, an entrepreneur (yay for entrepreneurs) is the founder of the crowd funding site of choice; Crowdculture.se. What has read as an act of socio-political activism now starts giving off whiffs of promotional/guerrilla marketing.

My comment “Sounds more like a marketing ploy to promote his crowd-funding site. If he really wanted to bring them there, 15,000 would be peanuts to write off as a company cost.” was challenged by Max Valentin on Twitter.

When I pointed out that he via the promotion of his site would benefit from the attention, he clarified:

I applauded Max Valentin for his effort to address his critics and to stand his ground on his cause. We agreed that a continued public dialog would be beneficial. I expect he’ll be available and amiable to address comments.

While I like the idea of the Metro to Almedalen, I still have issues with it, e.g.

1. Street musicians and begging are not intrinsically linked.
2. Playing the Swedish Anthem is provocative, yet are the musicians Roma from Sweden? There are two issues; bigotry and resentment towards the ethnic Roma in Sweden and the public view of Roma from Romania coming to Sweden to beg. Is there an advantage or a disadvantage to conflate them?
3. Most (if not all?) of the Roma musicians are men. Yet we see as many women trying to eek out an existence.
4. Is sensationalizing the topic going to do more than get headlines?
5. The crowd funding site asks for repeat donations. What else will the money go for if the 15,000SEK is exceeded?

What are YOUR questions?

Report abuse »

Boston Beta Blatte: Testing one of Sweden’s innovative start-up gadgets

October 11th, 2013 by Boston Blatte

This week I am on the cutting edge of being a techie nerd. Well, the cutting edge of being the guinea pig for the true techie entrepreneurs. This week I am a beta tester for a new wearable camera.

narrative clip orange

It is called the Narrative Clip (until just a week ago, better known as Memoto.) It’s a wearable camera that is always on, takes a snap every 30 seconds and easily uploads to a mobile app for you to archive or share to your heart’s content.

Sweden is among the lead pack of countries breeding, incubating nurturing, disruptive innovation, gaming and start up companies. For a sparsely populated country extending into the Arctic circle, that is pretty impressive in my book.

And the Swedes have even succeeded at spreading the wealth of this economic turbine to several regions traversing the length and breadth of a physically large country. From Malmö in the southwest corner just across the bridge to Copenhagen, Denmark reaching diagonally northbound to Luleå at the top of the Bay of Bothnia, clusters of research institutions and private enterprise dot the country.

Not surprising, Stockholm the nation’s capital, has more than its fair share of these start ups. And living in the capital means that there is great opportunity to interact with the dynamic people and companies.

Location has its privileges. Well, if you want to be a tech guinea pig at least.

I’ll post some of my images in a day or two.

Report abuse »

Back in the Blog: Blatte is back

October 8th, 2013 by Boston Blatte

I took a hiatus over the summer.

Summer dragged on to fall and knowing the slippery slope of Sweden’s seasons…winter shall be upon us in no time.

But we are enjoying indian summer at the moment. It’s called Brittsommar in Swedish. It takes its name from the Swedish name day, Birgitta, which falls on October 7.

Pretty spot on as the weather turned the day before yesterday, on October 6.

brittsommar

Report abuse »

IKEA UK: Swedish furniture giant stomps gnomes.

May 29th, 2013 by Boston Blatte

A recent IKEA commercial has inflamed the gnomists of the UK. It has lead to more than 50 complaints lodged with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. Apparently the gnome is a quintessential garden love/hate feature of the average UK garden. I have learned today that one should not enrage gnome fans.

gnome ikea

Link to watch advert video here

Recently, the Royal Horticultural Society lifted a ban (yes…royal gardening has been rather undemocratic) on the garden gnome at the prestigious Chelsea Garden Show, a clear victory for gnome enthusiasts of the British Isles.

IKEA marketing is intended to drive visitors to the IKEA store. Is their new UK ad campaign set to achieve this, albeit led by the angry, gnome-loving masses? According to the Daily Mail sales of gnomes have risen 150%.

Perhaps this is just a calculated, evil plot by the furniture giant intending to bring gnomes to the product range? Though, the IKEA newsroom reports that Brits are embarrassed by their gardens citing, “Once a staple of the English country garden, only a dwindling 1% said they needed ‘more gnomes’ in their garden”.

Maybe someone in the IKEA UK marketing department has a secret fondness for the sprightly figure. Soon, it shall all be revealed (*inserts evil laugh*).

Report abuse »

Hockey. Hockey. Hockey.

May 20th, 2013 by Boston Blatte

BANG!!!! BANG!!!! BANG!!!

In the midst of the Stanley Cup’s Eastern Conference semifinals series, every Bostonian knows it is all about Bruins ice hockey.

faceoff

Oh right. I am in Sweden, home of the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation GOLD Champions. And there is certainly no doubt ice hockey fever has taken over Sweden.

sweden hockey

A lot of Swedes, the Swedish husband included, should rightfully be questioning my loyalties placing Boston hockey playoffs above Swedish gold-medal champions. The thing is, that I am even writing about hockey is pretty ironic to begin with.

I am about the furthest thing from a hockey fan there can be (though I did play field hockey at Watertown High currently boasting a 90-something unbeaten game record). However, this past week I have read about, listened to and watched more hockey than in my lifetime.

I caught the fever discovering the events leading up to Boston’s defeat over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Going from a 3-0 series lead, the Bruins face off against the Leafs in game 7. Coming into the 3rd period the Bruins are down 4-1. And they rally to a 5-4 victory in overtime. Incredible. I was regretting not having watched the game.

We’re not a sports-watching family (thankfully) but we are fans of our ‘home teams’. That means if the US, Sweden or Boston are in a race for a title –you pick the sport, we are game-watchers.

And so, in addition to the nail-biter Sweden matches in the International Ice Hockey Federation games hosted by Sweden, I watched both the semi-final US defeat against Switzerland and the bronze US victory over Finland.

Today, Sweden is in hockey ecstasy over its glorious champion status. And with that glee comes light-hearted humor. This image has been touring the walls of several Facebook friends.

funny

The message is clearly sedated bragging over the defeating Switzerland at the (cheap) expense of stereotypical American geographical challenges. But in their cute, naive way, they presume there are Americans who have even heard of the International Ice Hockey Federation, then know that there is a world championship and finally, CARE about the results. It is long stretch.

But it tickles the jubilant Swedes basking in hockey glory.

The reality (perhaps sad and provincial) is that Americans who care about hockey, only care about the NHL. They are grateful for the rest of the world supplying amazing hockey players. Sweden has produced Carl Söderberg for Boston and for the NY Rangers, Carl Hagelin Anton Strålman, and Henrik Lundqvist.

So in equally light-hearted humor, I will leave you with a playful image of Bruins pride aimed at NY Rangers’ goalie…who happens to be a Swede:

suck it

Report abuse »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Blog updates

3 July

Editor’s blog, July 3rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello from the Swedish island of Gotland! The Local’s editorial team has decamped from our Stockholm headquarters..." READ »

 

2 July

Som eller att (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! It happens quite often, that my students are confused over when to use “som” and when..." READ »

 
 
 
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

837
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se