RSS

Category Archives: Sweden

Orange Ladies And Beardy Boys

I came back to work last week and two things were immediately apparent.

First, all the orange ladies on the subway. This is a yearly phenomenon – the Swedes returning from their summer-houses, showing off their newly scorched skin. You notice it most on older ladies. Their skin is practically orange, wrinkled and leathery and disturbing. Some of them are so lined they look like fucking Yoda, but, you know, more orange.

While I understand that the Swedes grab whatever sun is going, I fail to see why they would want to damage their skin like this. They lounge around in the parks and beaches, in blazing sunshine and without sunblock, and then wonder why they get skin cancer. Deeply wrinkled, sun-blasted skin isn’t attractive, or healthy, and doesn’t even show status, as summer houses are seen almost as a human right over here.

So why do they do it? Beats me. But if you want to see one, now is the time.

Then there’s the beards. I’m now in the minority at work regarding facial hair. Most men in my office are bearded. It especially noticeable among men in the 25 to 32 age range. Two thirds of them now have beards. It’s like a bloody seventies folk concert.

This thing with huge beards on younger men has taken off to a ridiculous degree in Sweden. It was very noticeable when I went to Herräng dance camp for a week, and saw young men from lots of countries. They were all much less beardy than the young Swedes. It brought home again what a terribly conformist place Sweden can be.

Why is it like this? Because beards on young men is trendy, and Swedes go for trends in the same way that sharks go for icebergs made of spam. They claim to cherish their individuality, which they then express by striving to look exactly the same.

Not the same as each other, mind you. Just the same as whatever subculture they’ve decided they belong to. Be it punks, hipsters, slackers, whatever. You can be unique here as long as you are unique in a very clearly defined way.

Now I’m a big fan of facial hair, but this is all just a bit sad. If you like beards, then have one, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing. Just stop shaving, and presto.

I give it a couple of years. Once the football players start shaving, young Swedish men will shed their facial hair. Beards, after all, can be removed. But I can’t say the same for the swarms of young women with colorful and messy tattoos sleeves on their arms and shoulders. They might have a tad more trouble getting over this particular trend. And let’s see how those things look when they’re pushing 60.

As for the idiots with the discs in their earlobes … well, let’s not even go there.

/ paddy

 
18 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2012 in Society, Sweden

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Beware of Race

As one wanders the streets of Stockholm this week one is reminded over and over again to watch out for foreigners. Not just any foreigners, but those of a different skin colour. Non-white Swedes too. All people of other races in fact.

Pause for effect. Reveal punchline. Introduce photo.

Well actually that’s not how it is (surprise). The snow and ice are melting on the roofs of Stockholm and for some reason there are no systems in place up there to take care of it. So that means that great slabs of snow and ice and T-Rex tooth sized icicles are plummeting to Earth with great velocity. And if you get caught under one, well, nice knowing you.

So in order to avoid taking responsibility and actually removing said snow and ice from the roofs, the building owners are putting up signs like the one here. The text “Risk för ras”, you see, means both “look out for falling or collapsing stuff” and also, at a stretch, “risk for race”. Which, you know, is vaguely amusing. And slightly scary given that the far-right Swedish Democrats are now in the government for the first time ever.

What is not amusing is the fact that we all have to walk on the street to be sure of avoiding brain-smashing blocks of ice from above. And that we get gravel in our boots. Plus the frozen dog shit of the winter is making its annual re-appearance. And the fact that it will all freeze over again in a few days and continue to tease us with a spring that never comes.

I, however, am looking forward to buying a new hat. And that’s all the cheer I need.

/ paddy

 
8 Comments

Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Life, Sweden

 

Tags: , , , , ,

A Short Guide to Swedish Politics

Politics is only interesting when it’s happening somewhere else, like in Africa, or in a Fantasy novel. But when there is a general election raging, it’s just the most atrocious bore imaginable.

There is a general election brewing in Sweden now and you can’t walk through town for ten seconds without some intense idiot in an over-large t-shirt shoving leaflets at you. So this is probably a good time for a quick primer on Swedish Politics for all you foreigners, or for you Swedes who haven’t been paying attention.

There are two blocks in the running for this election, plus a scatter of smaller parties. The “Alliance” block, currently ruling, consists of the four governing parties – The Moderates, Centre Party, People’s Party and Christian Democrats. The “Empire” block – sorry, the “Red-Green” block - consists of the Left Party (socialists), the Social Democrats and the Greens. Damn, it would be fucking sweet if they WERE called the “Empire” and the “Alliance”. Why didn’t anybody think of that earlier?

The Moderate’s leader, and Sweden’s PM, is Fredrik Reinfeldt, a man who looks like a giant baby. Other politicians of note include the woman vying for his title, leader of the Social Democrats Mona Sahlin, a woman with a speaking voice so boring it could curdle milk and whose deepest, darkest secret is paying for candy on her government credit card.

The Greens, meanwhile, claim that they don’t have “leaders” and insist on rolling out two “spokespeople”, one male and one female, any time they appear on TV. The political correctness of that just makes me shiver and is one reason why, although I’d like to, I just can’t vote for the Greens. The other reason is that they are unrealistic new-age wimps in many issues. However, it must be admitted, their spokesperson Maria Wetterstrand is HOT.

Then we have the hated Christian Democrats. Hated by me, at least. These bozos have the nerve to call themselves “democrats” even though they clearly accept the infallibility and universal dominance of an all-powerful dictator who can never be voted out, will never die, and can do whatever the fucking fuck he feels like with no consequences. In what possible way can these people call themselves “democrats”? Loonies more like.

And they, like all the other parties, have the nerve to refuse to be in the same room as the far-right Swedish Democrats, even though their stance on “values” is actually very similar.

Shit, this is all giving me a headache. I hope it’s over soon. Can’t we just do a game-show where the politicos get put on some island and have to eat slugs and crawl through mud and get voted out until we pick the one who runs the country?

Yeah, let’s do it! Politician Island. Right now.

/ paddy

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2010 in Society, Sweden

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Swedish Democrats

There is a big fuss in Sweden at the moment about the Swedish Democrats. These are a far-right party, peopled and supported mostly by thick people from the country. Well, they are. All the other parties are now in a tizzy about the fact that they might win seats in the parliament and they are falling over each other to say how they will not, on any account, work with them.

Sigh. Let me just point something out here. This is a democracy, and central to a democracy is allowing people the right to speak even when you don’t agree with them. ESPECIALLY when you don’t agree with them. Tell this to the upper middle-class leftish louts who regularly turn up when far-right parties speak in public and shout them down. You know what would have a bigger effect, you daft shouty dread-locked irritants? To let them speak. To allow us to see their logic and make up out own minds. I don’t want the information I get to be filtered by bigots (and the far left are clearly bigoted in their own way). I want to make my own mind up.

As an example I think another party, the Christian Democrats, should be removed from politics since their ranks are awash with homophobes and deluded people. But I understand that they won’t, because many people like to vote for them, so fair enough. Any political party with the support of people should have the same rights as any other political party, as long as what they say isn’t illegal. So get fucking used to it. Again, democracy, remember?

So if you want idiots to show that they are idiots, you let them talk and you ask them questions. Here is a perfect example of that. A far-right dude from the country (previously, and clearly currently, a neo-Nazi) is interviewed and it turns out that he can’t put two words together without saying “umm” or swallowing his own snot.

Brilliant! And here, to prolong your chuckle, is an excellent tune by the very same guy. This dude is great. He’s a complete brick-head who fears for Christmas eve and Midsummer at the hands of marauding foreigners. And he is also a perfect example of why idiots whould be allowed to speak as much as possible. For entertainment, if nothing else.

Personally I am very much in favour of immigration (duh) but I expect those who immigrate to accept the laws and traditions of the country that accepts them. Isolation, religious law, religious clothing, circumcision – all this bollox should cease. Nothing makes me as happy as seeing middle-eastern women in secular clothing, or happy immigrant families on their way to Skansen. Nothing makes me as angry as seeing women wearing full-body burqas and walking four steps behind their fat men because of some ancient tradition of oppression. Cultural rights my fat arse; civil rights come always first.

What’s the point of leaving a nasty country where you are oppressed in one way and coming to another country where you are oppressed in another? Screw that shit. Sweden needs to break the power of traditonal religious cultures inside its own borders. It should not be afraid to put its foot down and say “Welcome, but please observe the rules”. Go to your Mosque (or your Church), by all means, but that bearded gobshite who runs the place shall NOT have any say in how your life goes.

I am quite openly a culturalist. I do believe that my culture, with its emphasis on openness, fairness, and secularism, is clearly better than many other cultures. And what’s wrong with saying that? Plus anybody can join my culture, regardless of race, sex and colour. Come one, come all, but let the force of law dictate what is right and acceptable, and not some random magic book and a room-full of secretive bearded men.

I mean, look at me, previously a rabid Catholic potato-eater, and now after only 13 years in Sweden I eat pickled fish and pasta, I take my shoes off when I enter a house, and just a few days days ago I bought an IKEA throw-cover for my bed.

Who says miracles can’t happen?

/ paddy

 
18 Comments

Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Idiots, Media, Sweden

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Quite Okay Midsummer

Ah, the day before midsummer. Tomorrow there will be food and drink and countryside (and fish in a jar, yum) but today I am in the office, slacking off to the max. I feel I should point out that this day is pretty much a national day of slacking off in Sweden. If there were a saint for today, it would no doubt be Saint Slack. Bless him.

But my relaxed state is mostly due to the fact that I will be starting a new job in August. So right now I find myself in that most cherished of positions – completely unfireable. I can basically do whatever I want because what can they do, fire me? Heh heh.

My new job is here, making skill games for the entertainment of the internet community. This new job pleases me greatly and is the first job I have actively went after and bagged. Hurrah for me.

Before them I have a nice summer to look forward to, and a long trip to Australia with H11. So things are going very very well, and today there is nothing to complain about. I even watched some football and liked it.

Nothing at all to complain about? Shit, now I’m all freaked out. So off you go, have a happy midsummer and may all your fish be pickled ones.

/ paddy

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Life, Sweden

 

Tags: , , ,

Swenglish Megafail

Yesterday the world was exposed to the awesome power of Swenglish.

Swenglish is what happens when Swedish people decide that they can translate phrases and concepts directly into English without the hassle of getting hold of, for example, a professional translator.

Unfortunately the Swede in question was the Chairman of BP, Carl-Henric Svanberg. And the phrase he decided to translate on the fly was “den lilla människan” which means basically “the average person”.

However, as the world knows, it came out as “small people” which means something quite different in English. This phrase is okay to use in Swedish since, as we know, there are no classes in Swedish society, and nobody is better than anybody else. But in English… well, you get it. Not a smart thing to say, especially when you are spilling twenty thousand plus barrels of oil per day into the ocean of these aforementioned small people.

Seriously, who decided that this gobshite would face the American press with his shaky English? The Americans, as we know, are not the best people for understanding European accents (especially bad ones). And their tolerance for BP is already wearing very thin, as it should.

Why do so many Swedes, I wonder, assume that their own English is top-notch and refuse to get it checked or translated by a professional? Swedes have very good English, true, but the majority assume that their English is quite a bit better than it actually is. And this leads not only to badly worded English advertisements in many of Sweden’s newspapers, but also to multi-billion dollar screw-ups like this one.

Still, the avalanche of “small people” related humour all over the web has been brilliant. And it’s always nice to see a big man broken down and turned into a laughing-stock. Especially this cunt and his fucking company, may they be dismantled, spat upon and ground into dust.

And, with that thought, my dear readers, have a good weekend.

/ paddy (probably smaller than most people)

 
19 Comments

Posted by on June 18, 2010 in Media, Sweden

 

Smart Card Fail

The Stockholm local transit people (SL) introduced a so-called smart card over  a year ago, and called it SL Access. Now, usually anything that SL introduces costs a pile of money and doesn’t work. We kind of expect it to be that way.

And, true to form, as SL were about to introduce their expensive system it became clear that the technology used, the Mifare RFID card system, had been hacked. The details of this are all over the net now. “Mifare hack” will get you started. It’s fair to say that this is not a good system, and as leaky as a sieve full of sponges.


Still life with RFID chip

It works like this, for those who don’t know. You “load” your card (or more correctly you update a database somewhere using your cards ID) and then swipe your whole wallet, with the card inside, over the reader. It’s actually a nifty system, despite the whole not-secure aspect, as you avoid having to dig out the card every time.

I noticed, by turning the card a certain way, that you can see the chip. It was about 5 mm across which, for the Americans, just means very small.So I reasoned if it could be removed from the card, then it could be put into more interesting objects that one could swipe across the reader.

Such as a head. Or a banana. Or a Mars bar. You get the idea.

Unfortunately, once extracted, the chip doesn’t work. A quick googlement showed that there is a thin antenna wire connecting to the chip that circles the perimeter of the card. This interacts with a magnetic field over the reader using good old-fashioned induction and transfers the data required. No wire, no data.

So it’s back to the drawing board with that one. Would be nice however to get me some hardware and hack the thing properly. I figure, in the interests of helping SL improve their security, it’s the only kind thing to do.

/ paddy

 
10 Comments

Posted by on May 5, 2010 in Science, Sweden

 

Tags: , , ,

Weekend Woo

Well it looks like it’s that time of the year again. The bees are out in force, the birds are attempting to have sex with them, and the new-age mumbazoids are descending upon Stockholm for their annual orgy of crystals, hand-peering and badly out-of-focus magical photography.

Yes it’s the Body and Soul expo, the high point of the year for middle-aged women who believe that they can talk to their cats and that water remembers what they put in it but only if they rough it up a bit first.

The joys awaiting us this year include:

  • Aura photography
  • Crystals
  • Dream analysis
  • Alternative medicine

Oh damn it I can’t go on, learn Swedish if you want to read the rest, it’s just too depressing to list. You know what’s in there anyway – every rubbish half-arsed idea that any idiot has ever dreamed up.

All complete and utter bollox, a fact easily uncovered by even the most mediocre of web searches. This just doesn’t work people. Any of it. I don’t care what your friend’s friend said, or what you want to be true, or how many crystals you’ve just wasted your money on.

It. Just. Doesn’t. Bloody. Work.

At least Catholicism has the fancy outfits and the drama and the whole living forever thing. What does new-age have? Dim ladies manipulating each other’s energy fields, without having the slightest grain of an idea what energy actually means?

Now I am waiting for the nay-sayers among my readership to come up with the usual reply when I bring up stuff like this. “But what’s the harm?” they will bleat.  “If it makes them happy, and it isn’t illegal, then let them do it, the poor dears. It isn’t hurting anybody.”

Bollox to that, I say. First of all, the people organising this are making money from it. The last time I looked, making money from stuff that isn’t true is called fraud, and that sure as hell hurts a good many people.

Second of all, if we allow people to present things that are clearly not true as fact, and leave them unchallenged, then we are laying the groundwork for a very dangerous society. We are in fact opening ourselves wide for the worst abuses of power, whether it be from authority, church, or general nasty ideas.

And why? Because once we start accepting some bullshit, we will accept any bullshit.

We need to treasure reason and proof, and allow nothing – nothing – to slide past that filter. A population of sceptics would be very hard to lead down those murky roads where humans have been led in the past. We have to start here, with bollox like this. Prove it or lose it lady.

Woo on this level is criminal, pure and simple. Unless those people at the Body and Soul expo are giving away their fucking crystals for free, then this is fraud and should be dealt with as such. If one single person is sold something over the weekend in the belief that it will have an actual measurable effect on them, perhaps even cure them of something, then the people doing the selling are criminals as well as idiots.

Finally, has anybody else noticed a similarity between the poster above and a famous series of books? Or is that just me and my twisted little mind..?

/ paddy (still sharp ‘cos he sleeps in a fucking pyramid)

 
24 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2010 in Idiots, Ranting, Sweden

 

Tags: , , , ,

Broadband to Heaven

Because the Swedish Lutheran church isn’t as intrusive and pompous as other churches, and tends to keep its nose out of most affairs of state, one stops noticing it very much or even taking it seriously.

But now it has brought the full attention of the country back to the fact that it is a Christian church and actually does believe in an immortal entity and his zombie demigod son and all the rest of that inane twaddle, and it wants nothing more that to have the rest of us believe it too.

And it has done this in style with a new ad campaign, visible now in Stockholm’s subways and newspapers.

WIRELESS. Prayer is free; a permanent connection; pray when, where and how you want. Free support in all parishes.

When I see this I have to sit back, take a deep breath and wonder if this can have been designed by adults – actual conscious thinking people – or by a daycare class on a bored Tuesday afternoon. Because this is just bizarre and troubling on so many levels.

The biggest mistake that Svenska Kyrkan have made here is to actual point out the inconsistencies of “prayer” by relating it to actual technology in this way. And so it starts us thinking and drawing parallels. Such as:

Is the flow of prayer constrained in some way? What medium does it use? What if too many people pray, what happens then? Does god stop listening? Is there a celestial server outage?

And do the prayers go into a cache? Is there a prayer browser? Can we save prayers on a flash-drive and retransmit them later? And what file format would they be in? .pry? Or maybe .god?

Prayer, if it needs to be repeated, does not, and never has, actually worked, beyond the personal comfort it might give to some people. It has no effect on the actual material world, as all serious studies to date have shown. You’d be better off taking a walk, or making a cup of tea, or buying a dog.

All we can conclude from this is that Christians are severely deluded individuals, people who would be considered slightly insane, or at least very unstable, if their ramblings were not classed as “religion” and were therefore exempt from any and all rules of logic and behaviour.

The upshot of all this is that because the Swedish church now has to advertise, it means that it is in trouble and can’t get new members. And this cheers me up immensely.

As I have repeated on many an occasion, I don’t have much argument with personal religion or spirituality (other than thinking that you are a bit weird). You can do whatever you want in the privacy of your own head (a courtesy that many religions do not give to us non-believers, may I add). But when you start imposing your power structures and your whiny morals on me, and start interfering with the running of the world because some magic book and/or voice in your head told you to, well, that’s where I draw the line.

So, to summarise: You have an invisible broadband connection to your god? Yes, yes, of course you do. Now just take your pills and everything will be fine.

/ paddy

 
16 Comments

Posted by on February 18, 2010 in Religion, Sweden

 

Tags: , , , ,

Platform Pointers

At 7.30 in the morning I pass through the excruciatingly busy Gullmarsplan station just south of Stockholm.

Here people are channelled cattle-like through a very badly designed environment as they emerge from buses, subway and trams.

You would think that the staff might be doing something to alleviate the congestion, or open the barriers to allow people through, or help people with buggies up and down stairs. But no, they have more important things to be getting on with. And that is to stand around and point.

Yes for some reason three or four uniformed personnel stand around on the platform, at the peak of the morning rush hour, and simply point.

When they’re not pointing, they are chatting to each other. But usually they just stand there and they point.

The pointing appears to be a general “this way to the trains” which is interesting as they are standing right beside the trains, and the trains are large and blue and kind of hard to miss.

It might be a “Look, there is space available on this part of the platform” kind of thing except for the fact that they are pointing at the entirety of the platform where some space may always be found.

I was indeed puzzled for a long time. But I now think that the pointing means: “Keep on moving as you were, that’s it, you’re doing fine, everything is just hunky dory.”

It’s nice to see, after four years of advanced pointing in a university, that these people can get some work somewhere. And it’s also nice to know that I am paying 700 Swedish crowns a month so that they can be there and do what it is they love to do. Which is to point.

It just goes to show, you should always follow your dreams.

Wherever they might point.

/ paddy

 
13 Comments

Posted by on February 15, 2010 in Life, Sweden

 

Tags: , ,

Much Ado About Meat Glue

The Swedish food industry recently won permission to use a new kind of “meat glue”, an enzyme called thrombin that, to put it simply, will allow you to stick scrap pieces of animal flesh together to “build” a larger and more expensive-looking chunk of meat.

The concept of meat glue is hardly a new one: another enzyme, transglutaminase, has been used for years to stick together imitation crabmeat, fish balls, Chicken McNuggets, sausages and hot-dogs, meatballs and even to thicken that healthy low-fat milk and yoghurt (and yes I am basically quoting the Wikipedia article here).

And very probably your Saturday night post-pub kebab too.

So now another glue has come on the market and we have more options for making clumps of cheap protein. And strangely consumers and consumer organisations are now flipping out, even though they have been happily consuming meat glues for years.

Um, why, dare I ask? Don’t those aforementioned groups all go on about getting meat for less? And if you demand low meat prices, and low prices in general, isn’t this sort of thing bound to happen eventually?

It’s amazing too how everybody gets so upset when some factory farm is discovered where animals are being misstreated. As if people didn’t realise this was happening, as if it’s some sort of news to them.

It’s a simple equation folks – if something is extremely cheap for you, then somebody or something else is paying for it in some nasty way, be it clothes, coffee, chemicals or food.

And why is this new meat glue worse than eating any of the processed meat we eat today? I’ll tell you why - because it’s being highlighted by the media this week and people are trained to get excited and upset by what the press tells them to get excited and upset about.

In a month this “scare” will have joined the glass in chicken scandal, the acrylamide in crisps scandal, the trans fats scandal and all the other “scares” that the public has forgotten about because the media has stopped going on about them.

If you want good quality meat, then read the fucking label, or find a supplier that you trust, or hunt it yourself. And stop going on about being “deceived” when you demand cheap meat and then get just that – cheap meat.

And one more thing: the Swedish word for “meat glue” is “köttklister”, pronounced “shutt-klis-ter”, and I think it’s just such a fat and delicious word and I had to mention it.

And, oh yeah – new layout! Well it’s been like 3 years, so I figure why not. Just bear with me while I poke around and get it all the way I like it. Getting the damn column to be wider, for one thing. And if you have any suggestions, or hate something immensely, please let me know.

/ paddy

 
17 Comments

Posted by on February 11, 2010 in Media, Society, Sweden

 

Tags: , , ,

Local Newspaper Disappointment

This site was suggested to me recently. And it has quickly become a huge favourite of mine.

It’s in Swedish, so feel free to slip out the back door if you want.

So, it’s a blog called “Dagens Lokaltidningsbesvikelse” or “The day’s local newspaper disappointment”.

It specialises in those pathetic articles from small newspapers concerning idiots and the trivial things that make them sad.

You know the ones I mean:

“Billy, 53, had to wait three weeks for his phone to be repaired”.

Or: “Alice is annoyed by the ducks in the garden.” That kind of thing, but worse.

The site gives four basic rules for the articles it will accept. They must:

  1. Concern a trivial problem
  2. Have a photo of the affected person, with family if possible
  3. Who will have a forced look, head askew, and a pathetic sad face
  4. Must be from a local paper or, in a pinch, a national gutter rag

Examples of the side-splitting misery from this site include the guy who doesn’t like dog shit, the ladies who were expelled from the sushi buffet for eating only the fish, the woman who cries because of the pile of snow outside her window, and the guy in a wheelchair who is made feel handicapped by the excess of snow.

It just goes to show that newspapers, as if we didn’t already know, are shit, and that the vast majority of “news” in them is meaningless crap that only is there to fill space. But if we don’t feel sorry for these everyday morons, then at least we can have a good laugh at them.

See moron. See moron run. Run moron run.

(Except the wheelchair guy, obviously.)

/ paddy

 
13 Comments

Posted by on February 8, 2010 in Media, Science, Sweden

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers