Last Night in Sweden…

…Kickstarter project update

As of this evening (04.13.17), the project has been funded!  The first two of the three stretch goals have been met, as well.  Hooray!

The third stretch goal, a major traveling exhibition consisting of the 50 best images, is within reach (Note to organizers:  a visit to the RTP area is expected as you do have a consulate here).  The goal is SEK 350,000. Currently, the pledged amount is SEK 337,489 or $38,423.  The project is short SEK 12,511 ($1,384 +/-).

Of course, one can make contributions at any level.  In terms of rewards, the lowest tier is a pledge of SEK 200 ($22.13 +/-) which will yield a copy of the book in either Swedish or English (supporter’s choice), along with the satisfaction of knowing that this pledge contributed to reaching that magical, third stretch goal.  Only 63 additional people are needed to make this a reality.

Alternatively, if one is feeling unusually generous and/or slightly cheeky, one could opt for the next level by contributing SEK 1,000 ($110.65 +/-).  With that, your name goes in the book and when your copy arrives, you will see it.  WITH YOUR OWN PEEPERS (eller med egna ögon – and I will continue to slaughter Swedish until the third stretch goal has been reached).  Do you know who else will see your name? Orange Foolius and every member of the European Parliament. Mmmhmmm.  Only 13 relatively big spenders are needed in this category.

For those with some serious cabbage, a commitment to the arts, a love of Sweden, a deep respect for journalistic integrity and possibly a pinch of spite, there’s the next tier which requires a pledge of SEK 3,000 ($331.94 +/-).  It comes with all of the bells and whistles offered at the lower tiers along with the signatures of every photographer contributing to the project.  Oh yes it does.  Only 34 remain at this level.

There are only 14 days remaining.  Alternatively, there are 14 days left for nagging.  Do the right thing, please.  :flutters eyelashes:

Last Night in Sweden…

…a shameless plug.

The Swedes are a curious lot; thoughtful, considerate, kind and very concerned about the welfare of others.  They are also fiercely patriotic and damn all to hell if you criticize their society or country.  Not only will they reject such criticism, they will go to extreme lengths to correct the erroneous assumption.  Once finished, they will kill you in your sleep.  Need proof?

So, when President Orange Foolius decided to besmirch their reputation, Sweden reinstitued conscription.  IKEA laced its köttbullar with horsemeat.  There was no sharing of the semlor.  40,000 ocean containers full of Kalles kaviar were dispatched to the US disguised as Easy Cheese.  The government hired scores of actors to set fire to certain areas of Stockholm for the sole purpose of giving Katie Hopkins something else to bitch about.  And for all of the Trumpeting Deplorables hoping that any of this is true:  the conscription happened well before your Dear Leader opened his foodhole, the horsemeat scandal was from 2013, you don’t deserve semlor, Katie Hopkins is a cunt and if there is any justice in this world, you will be eating Kalles (and nothing but) for the rest of your miserable existence.

Seriously, though, Swedes have had it with Donald Trump‘s misinformation campaign about their country.  HAD IT.  Over it.  And an angry Swede is not something you want to deal with for the angry Swede is not only incredibly stubborn and relentless, it’s slightly cheeky, too. Also, largely emotionless but very dignified.  The angry Swede will not wrinkle its clothes or muss its hair in battle.

To that end, a Kickstarter was born.  The project is titled “Last Night in Sweden – The True Story.”  The scope is to compile pictures of everyday life throughout Sweden between the hours of 18:00 – 0:00 (or 6pm to 12am for the unable-to-tell-time Deplorables).  These pictures will be taken by award-winning photojournalists.  That’s right.  They mean business.  These pictures will not be taken by suburban women who have their part-time “photography business” focusing primarily on children or families in bucolic fields, newly engaged couples in burnt out parts of cities and babies in wooden barrels.

Once the photos have been selected by a jury, they will be compiled and published in book form.  The first copy of the book will be presented to Shitgibbon, himself.  Stretch goals are listed on the project’s page and they’re pretty damn nifty, too.

So, for all of you truth loving folks, why not chip in and support this project?  If you love Swedenland, why not help portray it in its wonderfully magical form?  If you want to tell Donald Trump to eat a bag of dicks, kick in a few kronor – or kick in several kronor and your name will be printed in the book.  If your name is American enough, Foolius may even understand it when his grandkids read it to him at bedtime.

Supporting the arts is never an exercise in futility.  In the United States, supporting the arts is going to become the provenance of the private sector so why not get a little practice in entering that credit card number right now?  You can also consider this a multicultural endeavour as you channel Swedish customs: enforcing the truth via art and very dry humor while not taking shit from anyone who doesn’t understand their society.

Idag i Sverige…

…a newspaper (or many) works at a frenzied pace.

What an absolutely bizarre day.  Newspapers in Sweden, Aftonbladet and Dagens Nyheter, have been publishing articles in English in order to clarify things for impressionable Americans who blindly accept everything McCheetodick and Alex Jones bark and tweet.

Another digital news outlet, The Local, has been working diligently to provide the English speaking world with articles debunking the false allegations made by our president and other conspiracy peddlers (Fox News, Info Wars, etc…).  The Local caters specifically to English speakers in nine different countries, focusing entirely on the respective country’s domestic news.  The Swedish version was the first, having started in 2004.  Yours truly stumbled upon it in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina of all things.

As of right now, there are four compelling articles which Americans should read.  These articles will clarify any issues regarding Sweden, immigration, crime and fake news.

Swedish embassy offers to ‘inform’ Trump after ‘last night in Sweden’ explanation
TT/The Local

Sweden has offered to “inform the US administration” about the country’s immigration policy after Donald Trump explained his comments about a non-existent incident in the country were provoked by something he saw while watching the news.

The US President took to Twitter to explain why he had insinuated to a crowd in Florida last Saturday that a serious incident had taken place the night before in Sweden – comments which left Swedes baffled over what he may have been referring to, following a peaceful evening in the Nordic nation.

continued***

Swedish Fox News cops hit out at filmmaker: ‘He is a madman’
The Local

Two Swedish police officers interviewed in a news report referenced by US president Donald Trump about crime and immigration say their quotes were taken out of context.

The controversial segment from a film by filmmaker Ami Horowitz, which was shown on Fox News on Friday and claimed immigration had led to a rise in crime in Sweden, made headlines after Trump (much to the surprise of Swedes) used the Nordic country as a cautionary tale in a speech on Saturday.

But two Stockholm-based police officers featured in the clip, talking about crime and the accessibility of weapons, have sharply criticized how they were portrayed and how their quotes were used in the interview.

continued***

Analysis: Why Trump’s false claims are bad news for Sweden
Emma Löfgren

Donald Trump targeted Sweden and then things got even weirder. The Local Sweden’s editor takes a closer look at the story dominating the news in Sweden.

“We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” US president Donald Trump asked on Saturday, targeting the country while listing a number of places in Europe hit by terror attacks.

Well, who would believe this? Least of all the Swedes, it soon turned out.

Trump later clarified his comments, but not before causing major confusion after a fairly quiet Friday in the Nordic country, where some of the biggest stories had included a man setting himself on fire for unknown reasons in Stockholm, talk about Eurovision try-outs, and a picture of an elk humping a wooden elk.

continued***

Six claims and facts about Sweden: a closer look at Ami Horowitz’ report
TT/The Local

When US president Donald Trump this past weekend mentioned events in Sweden, he was referring to a TV broadcast about Swedish migration policy. Several claims in the broadcast are questionable, and some downright wrong. Swedish news agency TT has looked at the facts.

Claim: In the introduction to the Fox News segment, the presenter says: ”In 2016 alone the country accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers”.

Fact: In 2016, nearly 29,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, a very sharp decline compared to 2015, when nearly 163,000 sought asylum, according to the Migration Board. In 2016 there were nearly 112,000 asylum decisions taken, some 67,000 were approved.

continued

Read, share, inform.

The Wisdom of the Swedes: Too much patriotism is a very bad thing

Perspective.
I has it.

It’s what most Americans don’t have. At least those who haven’t lived abroad for an extended period of time. They are, for the most part, totally unaware of how they and their country are viewed by other countries. As an American living outside of the United States I have the uncommon perspective of viewing my country from the outside, and I can tell you, at the moment it ain’t very pretty.

What I can tell you is that most of the people I know love the idea of America and the people of America. They think it’s fascinating that I come from there, and choose to live here. For the record, here is Sweden. This is a country that thinks so little of itself they can’t comprehend why anyone would want to come here to live indefinitely and deliberately. At the same time, they are so elitist, they make American exceptionalism look like nothing. They honestly believe they are the best at everything, but unlike Americans, they’d never dream of boasting about their superiority. That would be very un-Swedish. Instead they are casually patronizing about it in an, “Oh, you poor thing.” kind of way. Americans adore their flag and display it proudly everywhere and on everything for any reason or no reason at all. Swedes love their flag as well, so much so that they only bring it out for special occasions: National Day (kind of like Swedish Fourth of July), Mid-Summer (the most important Swedish holiday of the year), graduations and weddings. However, it’s considered very un-Swedish to display the flag for no reason other than, like their American cousins, pure patriotism. The Swedes believe without a doubt that they better than everyone else, but they have an uneasy relationship with patriotism. They keep outward displays of patriotism in check because it’s considered to be a sort of gateway drug to a fascist authoritarian regime ala Adolph Hitler.

Ergo: Swedish flag -> Patriotism -> Nationalism -> National Socialism -> Hitler-like demagogue seizing power/World War III/collapse of civilization/nuclear annihilation/return to a stone-age like existence.

Maybe the Swedes are onto something here. Maybe too much patriotism can be a bad thing. A very bad thing. It’s okay to know that you’re number one but don’t shout about it. Don’t shove it in people’s faces. Don’t threaten with bodily harm and/or death, those who disagree with you or who would rather not participate in your patriotic display. Too much patriotism riles people up and turns them into a mob. A mob with a funny-looking man gesticulating behind a podium and telling it that everything is going to hell, and it’s all the fault of the Jews/Mexicans/Muslims/Gays, and only he can fix things and make everything great again. Yes, great again, because obviously things were fantastic before Those People came along, and they can be Great Again if they all just went away, if they build a wall to keep them out, exclude them from entering the country, or if they’re already citizens and cannot be deported or excluded, put them in camps to keep Us safe from Them.

And the mob believes the funny-looking man. It responds to him and wonders why it never saw this before. Their Muslim neighbor was always friendly before but now that they think about it, there was always something Not Great about him. He’s probably building a bomb in his basement. And their Mexican co-worker is obviously a car thief, or a drug dealer or a pimp. They are no longer friendly neighbors or co-workers. They are dangerous infiltrators trying to undermine our freedom and our democracy.

However, the thing about the authoritarian figurehead and its mob is that they depend on one another. One cannot exist without the other. As soon as that strong authoritarian figure disappears, the mob evaporates. It turns into individuals who suddenly blink back into existence and ask themselves what the hell just happened. One thing that I’ve read a lot lately is that even if Donald Trump loses the upcoming election, that his supporters will still be out there and the thought of that scares the shit out of people. But without Donald Trump, the “Make America Great Again” movement will eventually quiet down and become only a whisper. I doubt he will have the stamina to continue his rallies after the election. And he’s not getting any younger. By the next election, he will be seventy-four years old. Will be run again? Or will he wait until 2024, when he’s 78? At that point, I doubt he would have the strength to make the effort.

After this election Donald Trump should just retire, secure in the knowledge that he came this close to Making America Great Again by leading the entire country over a cliff. But, it wasn’t meant to be. We like our country just the way it is, okay? We have no inclination for the kind of greatness that consists in persecuting and excluding anyone who is not a wealthy heterosexual white Christian male. Thanks anyway.

Mediocrity

Mediocre [mee-dee-oh-ker]

adjective
1. of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate:
The car gets only mediocre mileage, but it’s fun to drive.
Synonyms: undistinguished, commonplace, pedestrian, everyday; run-of-the-mill.
Antonyms: extraordinary, superior, uncommon, incomparable.

2. not satisfactory; poor; inferior:
Mediocre construction makes that building dangerous.
Synonyms: meager, low-quality, second-rate; so-so.
Antonyms: excellent, superior.

Look, I’m really trying not to allow myself to fall into the pattern of simply whining for its own sake. It’s easy to say, “oh, woe is me,” and expect everyone to shower you with kindness and sympathy. No one appreciates a drama queen, which is perhaps why I took so long to admit that I was having serious problems with stress management at work, to the point where I just physically broke down and mentally burned out. Even now, I hesitate writing this down because I don’t want to be seen as a whiner.

After all, it’s only stress, right? It’s an occupational hazard of being a teacher. You learn to handle it, channel it, and make it driving force in your working life. In my case, everything starting falling apart when I could not stop worrying and obsessing about work, about wanting it to be productive and positive and knowing that all my efforts at making it such were completely futile. Then I tried to achieve a Zen-like state of simply not giving a shit, but that didn’t work at all. My colleagues are really good at maintaining that balance of caring just enough, but not to the point of obsessing over it. It’s a very typically Swedish lagom  (meaning:”just enough”) mentality. And while the principle behind it is admirable, in my experience it often leads to a state of complacency that justifies expending the least amount of effort possible, which leads to substandard work, which leads to mediocre at best and often poor results. But I just care too damn much.

My Swedish colleagues have no idea what its like out there. I’ve worked in schools in America and in schools in Sweden founded by Americans. They expect results. Real positive results. Mediocrity should not be the goal. Mediocrity is not acceptable.

 

Be Lagom

If you’re forming a plan,
Of moving to this land,
Then there’s one Swedish word,
That you need to understand.

It’s lagom, the foundation,
Of this excellent nation.
Simply translated it means,
Average, in moderation.

But it’s so much more than that.
Lagom is a caveat.
And more of a lifestyle,
Than just a word, in fact.

Don’t over do it, or be proud.
Do not stand out in the crowd.
Do not bother, or talk
To your neighbors. Not allowed.

It may seem isolating, cold.
Hard to handle, and truth be told,
It takes some getting used to,
This lagom lifestyle foothold.

A lagom Swede causes no strife,
Keeps to his family and his wife.
Doesn’t try to cause a stir.
It’s the Swedish way of life.

So take pleasure, but be lagom.
Don’t take it all, but have some.
Not too little, or too much.
And leave enough for everyone.

Six Years So Far in Sweden

Six years so far in Sweden,
For the most part have been good.
I’ve tried hard to be lagom and,
Do what a good Swede would.
I learned the Swedish language
And I did the best I could.
But I still don’t hurdy gurdy,
As well as I think I should.

Six years so far in Sweden,
Have not been all that bad.
And yet there are still certain things,
That make me kind of sad.
I feel out of place on holidays,
And I miss my mom and dad.
Though my Swedish family loves me,
And to see them makes me glad.

Six years so far in Sweden,
All the laughter and the tears.
Six years of glorious vinglögg,
And watery Swedish beers.
Six years of not quite fitting in,
Of culture shock and fears.
Six years so far in Sweden,
Have been strange and wonderful years.

When is a hospital not a hospital?

When it’s a medical center. Even if it calls itself a hospital.

I left work early yesterday because I was feeling very poorly: dizzy, lightheaded, disoriented, and feeling in my head as if I was riding a roller coaster. I told my boss I had to leave and he told me to go to the nearest hospital. He even offered to put me in a taxi and pay for me to get there, but I said I could probably make it on my own. Anyway, I called Tobias (Swedish boyfriend) and he said he’d meet me at Capio Lundby Hospital, since it was the nearest one. At least I thought it was.

When we got there the staff seemed confused as to why we were there, since this was apparently not a hospital but a local clinic or medical center (vårdcentral in Swedish), despite the fact that the sign on the outside clearly reads, “Hospital.”

“So, uh… why did you come here?” the receptionist asked.

“I need to see a doctor right away and this is nearest hospital to where I live.” I said.

“Oh,” she said, “Well, that’s an easy mistake to make. It says hospital on the building but it’s not really a hospital. We don’t take emergency patients. For that you need to go to one of the emergency hospitals.”

She agreed that it was a stupid rule but that rules are rules.

At this point, I began to get really upset, since I was feeling genuinely awful and no one seemed willing to help me. They then took me into a room and let me sit down while a very kind and sympathetic nurse talked to me and calmed me down. She looked up the number of my neurologist and had Tobias call his office. He didn’t speak to the doctor but after giving an explanation of my symptoms to one of the nurses there, it was I suggested I go to the emergency room ASAP.

The problem was that the nearest emergency room was across town, and it would take us an hour to get there on public transport. So, the hospital/medical center arranged for a taxi to take us there at their expense. They did seem sincerely sorry that they couldn’t treat me and were being as helpful as they could. The taxi ride took about fifteen minutes.

Eventually I was admitted to triage and was seen to by a whole team of nurses and doctors. They did an EKG test, took lots of blood and urine, asked me a bunch of questions, and fixed me right up. It was nice that I didn’t have to wait very long either. It was the shortest emergency room visit I ever experienced. In and out in about two hours time.

So, to make a long story short, if you ever find yourself in Sweden and need to go to the emergency room, make sure that the hospital you go to really is a proper emergency hospital. Not all of them are. I found out the hard way.

Summermild

It’s feeling rather hot.
Though, truth be told, it’s not.
It’s a lovely breezy day.
Not at all like in LA.

Where the desert heat distresses,
And the summer months oppress us.
From the summertime we hide,
‘Cause it’s too hot to go outside.

To say it’s hot feels somehow wrong,
I’ve been in Sweden far too long.

Why, indeed.

I’m often asked by folks I’ve met,
A question I’ll not soon forget.
“So, why did you come here?” they say,
It’s much better in the USA.
California’s warm and bright,
While Sweden’s cold and dark as night.
The average Swede is icy too,
Might as well be a blonde igloo.
I see their point, and must confess,
I sometimes miss the old US.
But the fact is that I’m now stuck here,
So stop this torment and get me a beer.