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]
The Language Council of Sweden has been the semi-official arbiter of the Swedish language since World War II. It monitors "the development of spoken and written Swedish" and publishes a list of new words each year to ensure consistency of spelling and make sure that Swedish is a "complete language, i.e. [is] possible to use in all areas of society." This year, for the first time, the Council has taken a word off the list: ogooglebar, which literally meant "ungoogleable" but was defined as "a thing or person that does not produce relevant results when typed into a search engine." [more inside]
"Mamma Mia! They will tear us apart! 7-3! Just like in hockey last year." Sverker Göransson, commander-in-chief of the Swedish armed forces, recently said that Sweden’s scaled backed military leaves the country vulnerable. Sweden, he claimed, could only defend itself for one week if it came under attack. The Russians have taken notice and issued a satirical response. [more inside]
Takasugi-an by Terunobu Fujimori
4treehouse by Lukasz Kos
Lake-Nest Tree House and Lantern House by Roderick Romero [more inside]
The festive season is approaching, so it's time for everyone's favorite giant Swedish straw caprid to suffer from repeated attacks. Already ("The front hoof smells of petrol") this year's goat at Gävle has been attacked. Of the 76 goats to date, 33 have been burnt (includes goats burnt down more than once and goats only partially burnt), 7 vandalised (includes goats thrown in the river), 1 run over and 1 stolen, giving a survival rate of 45%. The goat attracts international attention and attacks; in 2001 a tourist from Cleveland, Ohio was jailed for 18 days [Swedish] [English] for igniting the goat. Last year's goat survived to December 2nd (traumatic video). Gävlebocken is 13 metres tall and consists of 3.6 tonnes of straw. While intact it tweets, and blogs in Swedish and English. [more inside]
The BBC explore the olfactory delights of rakfisk, "trout sprinkled with salt and fermented in water for up to a year." But is it as smelly as Surströmming, fermented Baltic Herring from neighboring Sweden, or as extreme as the Icelandic Hákarl, basking shark buried in a hole and fermented for several months and tasting "similar to very strong cheese slathered in ammonia"? [more inside]
"Top-Toy Group, a licensee of the Toys "R" Us brand, has published a gender-blind catalog for the Christmas season." [more inside]
The Swedish Vallhund is an ancient dog, believed to have been brought to Sweden with the Vikings and used as an all-purpose farm dog, cattle herder, and pest controller. It was close to extinction by the mid-twentieth century, when a Swedish Count and a school teacher worked together to revive the breed from one male with only one testicle and three female dogs. [more inside]
Please visit Stockholm. We need more iPads. (SLYTHDTDT*) *Single Link YouTube "How do they DO that?!" post.
The Swedish government has been handing over their @sweden Twitter account to a different citizen each week since December, so they could ostensibly talk about themselves and perhaps what they love about their homeland. It's Democracy in Action! But this week's "Twede": Sonja Abrahamsson, decided to take things in a... different and controversial direction. [more inside]
"Euphoria", which won the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest (previously), is a #1 in several countries, including Ireland, Austria, and Switzerland Of course, it's not the only song charting internationally that you might never hear on US radio. It should come as no surprise that one can readily find international hits online. For instance - Sweden, #4: Panetoz - Dansa Pausa Sweden, #9: Mange Makers - Drick Den This doesn't purport to be an exhaustive list, but rather a jumping-off point. [more inside]
Scandanavia And The World: A web comic of outrageous national stereotypes bluntly portrayed by cute little cartoon bobbleheads, that will nonetheless help outsiders learn to differentiate among the Nordic countries. With explanatory text.
Pirate Bay to be blocked By UK ISPs. "File-sharing site The Pirate Bay must be blocked by UK internet service providers, the High Court has ruled." [more inside]
The National Association of Afro-Swedes calls for the resignation of Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Roth after photos and video surfaced of this "living" cake, which was part of a celebration of World Art Day. The cake's creator talks a bit about the cake.
The story of the ABBA sound. 8 minute Swedish documentary. Click the "CC" button for subtitles.