While the status of Obama's "American College Promise" initiative that proposes two free years of community college for "everybody who's willing to work for it" (announced back in January) is far from certain, The Washington Post identified seven countries -- Germany, Finland, France, Sweden, Norway, Slovenia, and Brazil -- where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free), and BBC's News Magazine recently detailed how this works in Germany, both from the side of a new student from outside of Germany, and what Germany gets out of the situation. But if you want to stay in the US, TIME identifies 25 colleges where you can get a tuition for free (with a number of caveats, of course).
US vs. Nordic Policing How many shots are needed?
The Singing Sailor Underwater Defense System - the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society sends out a message of peace, love, understanding and respect to Russian submariners cruising through the Stockholm archepelago
This sweet set of photographs by photographer Johan Bävman depicts Swedish men caring for their children during paternity leave. Many of these men indicate that they are still considered rather unusual despite Sweden's notably progressive stance on paternity leave. The UK is changing, too: from this coming month, paternity leave will be more generous for men thanks to the efforts of the Lib Dems.
...he co-wrote four songs on the Backstreet Boys’ self-titled 1996 debut album, one of which, “Quit Playing Games With My Heart,” went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. And with that, his career took off. You probably know most of what comes next. For instance, you probably know that, to date, Martin has co-written 19 songs that went to #1 on the Hot 100, and another 36 that charted in the top 10 but didn't manage to hit #1. You probably know that many of those songs were recorded by Katy Perry (who has recorded 10 top-10 songs with Martin), Taylor Swift (six top-10 songs with Martin), Britney Spears (also six), P!nk (five), and the Backstreet Boys (five). You might also know that Martin’s 19 chart-toppers put him at third place on the all-time list behind Paul McCartney (32) and John Lennon (26). Stereogum's Michael Nelson on superproducer/songwriter Max Martin, complete with a list of 30 Essential Max Martin Songs.
Swedish sign language interpreter, Tommy Krångh, interpreted and danced his way through a song performed by singer Magnus Carlsson on Melodifestivalen.
CRAZY PICTURES are a Swedish group of young comedians who produce short films. Their humour abuses tropes from all manner of genres, sometimes resulting in insightful social commentary, and sometimes just surreal silliness. We shall lead off with the straight-played gender-swapping "Take Me" and the sequel "See Me", but there is so much more … (English subtitles may need to be manually activated.) [more inside]
Stockholm-based design firm Söderhavet has designed a typeface for Sweden that it thinks sums up the country's own design heritage. The resulting typeface is a practical serif/sans hybrid that is inspired by Sweden's tradition of minimalist design, and the principal of lagom—not too much, but not too little.
Bacillakuten, a Swedish childrens' programme about the body has seen both controversy and applause due to a music clip on YouTube was released as a preview for an upcoming episode about genitalia. Initially marked as adult content on YouTube, the video quickly saw several million views and sparked mixed reactions from parents. The composer, Johan Holmström, plans to release an English-language version of the video for international audiences on Valentines' Day.
Piratenpartei MEP Julia Reda’s draft report on copyright (pdf) has been heavily criticized by former Swedish Pirate Party MEP Amelia Andersdotter (previously).
Swedish journalist Robert Aschberg, the television show Troll Hunter, Research Group and the ethics of exposing trolls.
The goal of Troll Hunter is not to rid the Internet of every troll. “The agenda is to raise hell about all the hate on the Net,” he says. “To start a discussion.” Back at the Troll Hunter office, a whiteboard organized Aschberg’s agenda. Dossiers on other trolls were tacked up in two rows: a pair of teens who anonymously slander their high school classmates on Instagram, a politician who runs a racist website, a male law student who stole the identity of a young woman to entice another man into an online relationship. In a sign of the issue’s resonance in Sweden, a pithy neologism has been coined to encompass all these forms of online nastiness: näthat (“Net hate”). Troll Hunter, which has become a minor hit for its brash tackling of näthat, is currently filming its second season.
Sweden's annual Straw Christmas Goat was revealed on November 30. A regular target for arson, 2013's incarnation survived nearly until Christmas Day. This year, steps are being taken that are hoped to keep the goat in place until the end of the holiday season. The Goat has an oddly encouraging (yet still a bit existential) twitter account you can follow, and also a webcam so you can keep watch no matter where you are. (Previously)
The Norden is a Finnish TV series, taking Americans and introducing them to their profession within the Nordic countries. First, James Conway, retired Superintendent of Attica Correctional Facility in New York, visits four Nordic prisons and facilities. An excerpt, and the full episode with English subtitles. [more inside]
In January, we heard that several women in Sweden had received uterine transplants. This weekend, for the first time in history, a woman born without a womb gave birth to a living child. [more inside]
Swedish fly fisherman and filmmaker Rolf Nylinder takes a trip to Slovenia with Kristian Matsson (Tallest Man on Earth) and friends. [more inside]
"Stand Still, Stay Silent" is the follow-up to Minna Sundberg's successful webcomic "A Redtail's Dream" (previously), but instead of a 550 page Finnish fantasy tale, it's a post-apocalyptic but still very Scandinavian story intended to run for years. After 10 months of almost-every-weekday pages, she has taken a short break for the end of 'Book One' and it's a good time to catch up. (SPOILERS INSIDE, but reading from the beginning is still strongly recommended) [more inside]
Say you find yourself at Stockholm's Globe Arena (the largest hemispherical building in the world) and don't feel like taking in a show. No problem -- just find Götgatan and head north. You'll come to the Stockholm City Museum. Look for a short pillar with an orb atop it. That's Mercury. You just walked one twenty-millionth of the distance from the Sun's corona to its first planet, and started your tour of the Sweden Solar System. [more inside]
First they're carved, then they are dipped, and finally they are painted. In the late 1930s, the Dalahäst (Dalecarlian horse, or Dala horse to Americans) made the transition from traditional home-made Swedish toy to Swedish symbol when they became the centerpiece of the Swedish Pavilions at the 1939 World's Fair. Although many (Scandinavian-)Americans associate the brightly painted wooden horses painted in the kurbits style with yuletide decor, the toys have no seasonal assignation for Swedes.
Swedes are mourning the death of Åle, the world's oldest European eel, who was found dead on Friday at age 155.
Politically speaking, "the most anticipated game was the Left Party who faced their arch rivals the Sweden Democrats." This was actually the first pairing of the tournament and pitted the Left's Prospect against the Sweden Democrats' Zaki. "It was truly a grudge match between the right and the left and it did not leave anybody disappointed." -- Reasoned debate is boring; in Sweden politicians settle their differences through Starcraft II battles.
April 6, 1974 -- Final night of the Eurovision Song Contest [1h50m, auf Deutsch (but music is the universal language)] If you don't want the full, stuffy context, you can watch the winning performance. (You already know who won... ) And watch them perform again after they were named winners. [more inside]
Nils Horner was killed on the street early this morning. Here is a short article in English from a Swedish source. [more inside]
Vasa Real, a central Stockholm high school with special classes for Jewish pupils was covered in Nazi graffiti on Monday morning, leaving a parent in tears and fearing the rise of fascism in Europe. [more inside]
What tools did the Vikings use to construct their ships? During the early years of the Song dynasty, while Sridhar Acharya's concept of "zero" was making it's way westward and a pair of anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets was committing the tale of Beowulf to animal skin, a Viking craftsman lost his tool chest. It is speculated that the chest fell overboard off a ship or through the ice into what was then a swamp on the modern island of Gotland, Sweden. The chest was unearthed in 1936 when a chain attached to the chest got caught on a farmer's plow. In it were the tools a Viking blacksmith/ship builder would need to ply his trade. Named the Mästermyr chest its discovery was a boon to archaeologists, historians, re-enactors, woodworkers and blacksmiths. The original tools (catalogue of the items) were restored and put on display. Numerous copies and tributes of the chest or selected tools have been made over the years including a complete replica of both the chest and contents made using period techniques as a 'net project of a blacksmiths and woodworkers. [more inside]
To Kill a Child, by Stig Dagerman (Wikipedia). Translated by Steven Hartman. For a meager fee of seventy-five kronor Dagerman was commissioned by the National Society for Road Safety to write a cautionary tale as part of a campaign designed to get Swedish motorists to slow down on highways when speeding was becoming an increasingly difficult social issue with serious consequences for public safety. What could have been an ephemeral and gimmicky work of public service fiction became perhaps the greatest short short story in the history of Swedish letters, for in this tale Dagerman took the simple redressing of a particular social problem as the starting point rather than as an end in itself and out of these mundane materials created a poignant tale of choice, chance, and human loss that rises to the highest levels of art, literary balance, and philosophical concision.
Here's a video about the swedish part model (aka parental leave) and an intro to German Elternzeit (Parent's time). In Germany "both parents can claim parental benefits (...) the benefit is calculated at 65 percent of the parent's previous monthly salary, though it gets boosted slightly if they were earning €1,000 or less. (...)" ... "The parent intending to take time off work must apply seven weeks in advance, and must limit their periods of leave to two during the three years - but each period can be as long as they want." Here's the offical guide to working in Germany (PDF) by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives and will soon try to become pregnant. Many of the women, who were either born without uteruses or who had them removed for medical reasons, have already begun to menstruate. Some doctors question whether uterine transplantation is worth the risk to the patient, but many women say that they would be willing to accept the risks in exchange for being able to bear their own children. [more inside]
Bandy is a game similar to ice hockey, but played with a ball instead of a puck. Somalia is set to enter its first ever team into the World Bandy Championships, comprised entirely of Somali refugees living in Borlaenge, Sweden where almost 10% of the population hails from war-torn Somalia. [more inside]
20 years ago, Sweden passed a series of reforms that encouraged privatization of its schools. In addition to making it easier to create new schools, the new laws made it legal for private, profit-seeking companies to open schools. For over a decade, these reforms were hailed as a market-driven success story, as market share private schools grew. Earlier this year, the bankruptcy of Sweden's largest private school operator and questions about school quality has some in Sweden rethinking its privatization experiment.
The Gävle Goat is a house-sized Swedish Yule Goat made of straw erected at the start of Advent each year and sponsored by merchants from the southern half of Gävle. While the 2013 incarnation is currently unharmed, the goat is a magnet for vandalism and 22 of 37 goats since 1966 have been destroyed, usually by burning. Some burn just days after construction even with ice coats and fire-proofing. The event is frequent enough that there are bookmaking odds on whether this year's goat will survive. [more inside]
How to make a doll lamp (video, maybe not safe for children) Philofix is a popular tv series for kids age 7-13 on Swedish TV network SVT. In a recent episode, shown this Monday at 7:30 PM, host Rakel Wärmländer showed viewers how to make a lamp out of a doll. Viewers were not happy. [more inside]
Cinemas in Sweden are introducing a new rating to highlight gender bias, or rather the absence of it. Bio Rio is one of four Swedish cinemas that launched the new rating last month to draw attention to how few movies pass the Bechdel test. Most filmgoers have reacted positively to the initiative. "For some people it has been an eye-opener," said Tejle. [...]For some, though, Sweden's focus on gender equality has gone too far.
On Scandinavian prisons: why they are superior; what Norwegian high-security prisons are like; about a lower security Norwegian prison.
Where a journalist tries to identify TheIneffableSwede, an online commenter on the Guardian website and elsewhere online. A journalist from the Guardian adds more context.
Magic for Beginners. SLYT
Sound Opinions, the ever-excellent radio show / podcast based out of Chicago, have embarked on a 'world tour'. With the aid of a local musician or journalist, each episode covers the history of modern music in a certain country. They look at what's new and exciting in both the mainstream and underground as well as what foreign music is cracking the market. So far the tour has touched down in Mexico, Japan and Sweden, and Greg & Jim are encouraging feedback on where they should go next. [more inside]
Sweden is putting only four percent of its household waste in landfills (the US puts about half of its garbage in landfills) and much of the remainder is used for heating through an innovative waste-to-energy program. The problem? They are now running out of garbage, and have to import from neighbouring countries.
In a remote psychiatric hospital in Sweden, there is a man known as Thomas Quick who has been convicted of unspeakable crimes. Over the course of multiple trials, he would tell his brutal stories—of stabbings, stranglings, rape, incest, cannibalism—to almost anyone who would listen. Then, after his eighth and final murder conviction, he went silent for nearly a decade. In the last few years, though, he has been thinking about all he has said and done, and now he has something new to confess: He left out the worst part of all.
Time to collect firewood - a short video showing how a solitary man harvests bark-beetle damaged trees using a home-made raft and a collection of specialized tools. For contrast, the same raft is used in the very social "Crayfishing in Ätran"
Swedish farmer drops a turbo into his tractor.
Swedishness. What it says on the tin. (SLYT.)
It's that time of the year again, when the (television network) continent of Europe comes together to sing, wear interesting clothing, and gyrate before an enthusiastic/baffled world. [more inside]
Chako Paul City is a women-only city in the north of Sweden, established in 1820 by a wealthy widow. It is "a place that is respectful of women's love, but with a rule that men cannot enter"; the few who have tried have found themselves beaten half to death by the formidable Amazonian sentries at its gates. It has a castle, and its main industry is forestry, with a sideline in lesbian tourism. Of the 25,000 women, from all over Europe, living in Chako Paul City, those wishing to seek male company are allowed to leave, but may only reenter after having bathed and undertaken several other measures to avoid negatively affecting the mental state of the other residents. [more inside]
This is why we can't have nice things. Swedish SAP ousts substitute member of the governing board, over issues stemming from his role as chairman of the Swedish Islamic Association. Media outlets are found to have been fast and loose in their reports concerning the member. [more inside]
"I am writing to you with a simple request, Beatrice Ask. I want us to trade our skins and our experiences. Come on. Let's just do it. You've never been averse to slightly wacky ideas (I still remember your controversial suggestion that anyone who buys sex ought to be sent a notice in a lavender envelope.) For twenty-four hours we'll borrow each other's bodies. First I'll be in your body to understand what it's like to be a woman in the patriarchal world of politics. Then you can borrow my skin to understand that when you go out into the street, down into the subway, into the shopping center, and see the policeman standing there, with the Law on his side, with the right to approach you and ask you to prove your innocence, it brings back memories. Other abuses, other uniforms, other looks. And no, we don't need to go as far back as World War II Germany or South Africa in the eighties. Our recent Swedish history is enough, a series of random experiences that our mutual body suddenly recalls." -- Jonas Hassen Khemiri: An Open Letter to Beatrice Ask (Swedish original). [more inside]