Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pretty Business People in Sweden

Was at some sort of conference yesterday for work. Nothing too exciting at all really. We had a video game there so I played that and challenged people. One of the benefits of sports marketing I suppose is that you get to do some stuff that is a little more fun than just showing off your product.

So I played PS3. Which was fine. But I realized something. Aside from being able to beat all middle aged challengers on the PS3. I don’t know if it’s a Swedish thing. Or if it’s a business thing. But there were over 50 companies presenting stuff at this conference yesterday and then hundreds of people just milling about. A pretty good sample of men and women. In fact, it almost seemed like there were more women. But regardless, that’s not what was interesting. The interesting thing was the looks of the women who were at the booths compared to the looks of all of the other women milling about.

The women at the booths were all good looking. The women wandering around were more of a mixed bag. Which is more of what I expected. But the presenters were all good looking. It almost seemed like the companies just sent the good looking people to the conference as an outward face. Honestly, it’s probably a good idea; pretty people are more fun to look at as a general rule. I’m not sure if it was on purpose but there it was.

My company is very small. And so there aren’t a whole lot of people to choose from. Which is why I ended up standing there all day not because I’m pretty. Although I’m sure everyone appreciated my boyish good looks (what with my unshaven goatee and all).

And this raised a question in my newfound Swedishness. Because when you start flying on a Swedish passport you are supposed to pay more attention to sexism. And the environment. And love welfare and high taxes. And basically become a socialist. And, as everyone knows… that basically describes me to a tee.

Anyway, is this sexist? Or is it just good marketing? Or is it just a coincidence and these companies only have good looking women working for them? And according to the common Swedish stereotype, Sweden is supposed to have a lot of beautiful people (and having done plenty of studies I’ve decided that there aren’t more absolutely gorgeous people in Sweden. It’s just that the average person in Sweden is better looking). I say it’s a little bit of good marketing, and a little bit of just using the resources you have. And in Sweden that just happens to be good looking women.

Welcome to Sweden. Where good looking people can be used as a business resource.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sweden Loses a Red Day

In a news story from the other day, Dagens Nyheter reported that Sweden would gain 15 billion SEK from the overlap of red days. I had no idea what red days were until yesterday. The only thing I could come up with was some sort of commie labor holiday.

I was almost right. For reasons that will become clear.

Turns out, according to the old man, that the Swedish calendar shows all national holidays that could result in an off day from work in red. I checked the Swedish calendar I have. He was right.

On May first Sweden celebrates the first of May. Which is International Workers’ Day. Yay. Sweden also celebrates Kristi Himmelsfärdsdag. Literally, very very literally, Christ’s Heaven journey day. Otherwise known as the Ascension. Apparently the sixth Thursday after Easter. Big stuff. Especially in the religious stronghold that is Sweden. Usually these days don’t end up sharing the same date. This year they did. I blame the early Easter.

Anyway, because of the extra day of work Sweden’s economy will benefit. No lost worker hours celebrating Christ heading up to Heaven here. Just down and dirty labor. It’s the Swedish way.

But instead of lambasting the ridiculousness of the numerous days off and religious holidays that result in my not having to work I will tacka och ta emot. Because who are we kidding. Everyone loves a day off. Especially from my job.

On a side note, the article also gave a quick list of the hours worked by most countries in any given year. The list showed the US weighing in at 1,824 hours per year. Sweden lagged a bit behind. 1,585 hours per year. A lot of this probably has to do with all of the public holidays. Like obscure religious holidays in a country that prides itself on being very secular. And also the numerous mamma- and pappaledighet the country offers to new parents. Or the Swedish workforce is just lazy. Or smarter than all the other hard working countries. Your call.

I’ll think about it. On my day off.

Welcome to Sweden.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Swedish American Delves into Fashion. Again.

I know. I have no right to write about fashion. We’ve already established this. But I couldn’t help myself. This is just ridiculous. In fairness to Sweden this is more Brazilian fashion. Or at least designed by a Brazilian. In fact, the article (if you can call it that) doesn’t even mention Sweden, just that these are expected to be very popular in the UK when they are released this summer. The only reason is that I ran across it in the venerable evening paper Aftonbladet.

And what is this newest fashion trend you might ask? Something that could change the world obviously.

Jeans with built in underwear.

In an attempt to meet the needs of young women everywhere jeans are now being produced with underwear attached to them. Of course, these needs probably shouldn’t be described as needs seeing as how they are simply low cut jeans. So low that the only solution was to design them with underwear attached.

The idea is that by attaching the underwear the jeans won’t fall down. Because apparently as the jeans ended up with a more pronounced low cut they were falling off. Of course, the question is whether the people who wear this kinds of jeans don’t, at least subconsciously, want their jeans to come off at some point while wearing them.

I don’t have any idea if these will make their way to Sweden. I haven't seen them in Stockholm yet. And I can only hope that I won't. I’d like to think Sweden is classier than that.

I don’t have any idea if these really will become popular in London either. I can only hope not. I’d like to think that the UK isn’t as un-classy as people try to make them out to be. But I could be wrong.

Friday, April 25, 2008

World Malaria Day and A Swedish American in Sweden Wins an Award

Two things today. First it’s World Malaria Day. As I have written before I am a sucker for a good cause. I suppose there are worse things to be a sucker for.

One of my favorite is
Nothing But Nets. A charity that donates mosquito nets to combat malaria. I blame Rick Reilly, formerly of Sports Illustrated, for my involvement in this. He wrote the following articles: the first - a call to action, the second - a thank you. He tends to be a bit more eloquent and convincing than I could ever hope to be. So read the articles. Then donate some money. It’s only 10 dollars. And you could possibly save a life. I’m not going to lie and say it guarantees a life saved but it sure as hell helps.

Along those same lines, one of my faithful readers e-mailed me and pointed out that Nothing But Nets, in honor of World Malaria Day, has a
game you can play that will help to donate a net. This game is good through today and up to $200,000 worth of nets to be delivered. Hopefully the contest will be closed by the time you click this because that means simply that the sponsor behind this game has already donated $200,000.

If it is consider dropping the $10 to buy a net. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation even matches your donation. So for $10 you are helping send two nets to Africa. And for all of you worried about the overhead most charities suffer from, 100% of the donation goes to the nets. Here are all kinds of
FAQ from Nothing But Nets.

So click on one of those links and give a little money. It’s even tax deductible. Probably since they are a registered US public charity… but I’m no accountant. Skip your Starbucks for two days and donate some money. Coffee is gross anyway.

And finally, this blog won an award for blog of the day at Which I think is pretty cool. Not really sure how it happened but I’ll take it. So check out and the other blogs they have for your enjoyment. They even gave me this cool picture to display, which of course I will:

Welcome to Sweden.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sexist Ads in Sweden – Full Steam Ahead

A sense of normalcy has invaded Swedish politics. And I am pleasantly surprised. And happy. And pumped that I will be able to continue looking at ads with scantily clad women hawking the newest products that I obviously need. Because without scantily clad women I just don’t know which products to buy.

The Moderate party (the conservative party here in Sweden) has decided not to ban sexist ads. Sexist is the term used by Eva-Maria Svensson who initially suggested the ridiculousness. As The Local reports Svensson defines sexist as anything “‘with a commercial aim’ that can be ‘construed as offensive to women or men.’” That is somewhat broad. Because I’m pretty sure there is always going to be someone who is offended by something. Especially here in Sweden.

I wrote earlier that the idea of banning sexist advertising was ridiculous due to numerous reasons. A quick excerpt here:

“Honestly, I’ve never seen an ad, with men or women in it, that I have felt was so outlandish and sexist that I thought that there was a problem with sexism in advertising. Most of the time, those ads that are seen to be sexist are so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. Or you should. Unfortunately, a symptom of APC (Acute Political Correctness) is being unable to laugh at anything that could be turned into some sort of egregious slight against all of humanity. Or at least one distinct group. Unfortunately, this view often wins out, to the chagrin of people thinking with a clearer mind.

Complete political correctness eliminates everyones differences and takes away what makes life so interesting. People are different. Some people are smarter. Some people are better looking. Some people are more athletic. Some are even women. And some are even men. But political correctness wants to make sure that everyone is the same. Ridiculous.

Ideas of what is offensive are vast, a United States Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, was quoted as saying in response to a case involving a movie that was considered obscene “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it.” Which simply means to me that it is up to the interpretation of the individual.

Banning ads that might be deemed sexist by a neo-feminist, and banning ads that might be deemed sexist by a 93 year old woman, and banning ads that might be deemed as sexist by the common person is going to be a very difficult task. And who wins? Is political correctness so important that something as benign as a super model modeling lingerie could be deemed as sexist? Or an ad touting underwear shows a butt, in underwear, with the tag line “We love bottoms?” That’s not sexist. That’s targeted marketing. An underwear company sure as hell better love bottoms. Otherwise they are in the wrong branch.”

This post managed to get some people fired up, some people to agree with me, and some people to make asinine generalizations about Americans. The latter suck. For the record.

Anyway, I’m just pumped to see the Swedish government not giving in. Standing up for common sense. Standing up to the feminists who just take it too far sometimes. Advocating a stop to sexism. In order to try to be politically correct they threw in the whole man and woman thing. And of course, while the proposal pointed out that both women and men could be victims of sexism, the ensuing backlash focused only on the use of a woman’s body to sell things. Which in itself could be deemed sexist by a neo-malist as opposed to the neo-feminist.

So good work Sweden. Seems that someone in the government has the balls to stand up to the feminists who are attempting to castrate Swedish men. (That ought to fire someone up.)

Welcome to Sweden. Where sexist ads will continue to bombard the Swedish consumer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Swedish American in Sweden. Again.

I made it back to the Kingdom of Sweden. I was forced to leave the US a little earlier than planned. Through no fault but my own. And, as the following post will demonstrate, the lesson is as always – never listen to me.

My flight plan had been changed early on. Nearly two months ago. So I have been working off of the changed ticket ever since. Never really thinking of that original ticket. It had been changed. Who needs to look at that? Me. Apparently.

I was convinced that I was leaving the US on Tuesday evening. I had told plenty of people this. I hadn’t had a chance to see MER and MMMH and so had plans to do so Monday night. Monday morning I began thinking of the flight back. It seemed like a good time to start thinking about it. Last minute things to do. That sort of thing.

But then I really started thinking. I was leaving Tuesday at 8:20 pm. And was arriving in Stockholm on Tuesday at 9:30 pm. Think about that. Yup. You’ll notice exactly what I did. That’s damn near impossible. Granted the whole time thing change. But that’s only eight hours to Stockholm. The flight itself to London takes eight hours. So I checked my e-ticket. It said I was leaving at 8:20 pm and arriving at 9:30 pm on Tuesday. Interesting.

So, as I dug through my e-mail looking for the original ticket my old, old, old mother called United. As she spoke with the lovely United representative I found my e-mail. And at about the same time we realized that I was leaving at 8:20 that very night. The old man was called, he was just as convinced that I was leaving on Tuesday. Hell, he was the one that booked the flight. He was also wrong.

We were all wrong. Luckily, it was figured out in time. United hadn’t put the departure date on the updated ticket. Just the arrival date. My mom said that it was a good thing I had travelled before because someone who hadn’t done much traveling probably wouldn’t have realized that. I think she was just trying to make me feel better. Because it was a pretty dumb move on my part. But I made it back from good old Colorado.

Having been there I realized something very important. Before it’s all said and done, I’m moving back to Colorado. Those mountains are just too big of a draw to be ignored. They are huge. And intimidating. And beautiful. And so very skiable. And even the ugliness of the wide open plains is beautiful in an inexplicable way. Maybe because of the wide openness, being able to see for miles in every way.

But now Sweden awaits.

Welcome Back to Sweden.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Swedish American in America


In the early dusk hours of Wednesday the 16th of April, as the sunlight began shimmering on E-4 I made a daring and unsuspected escape from Sweden to the US. I was assisted in my flight by BGC who arranged for a morning flight and DCP who assisted in my drive to Arlanda. (The trains don’t leave early enough, so she got up and rode with me so she could drive the car back. She does good work. That's why I like her.)

The flight went without incident, and following my trip to Spain that’s damn impressive. I watched three movies on the flight, finished one book, one magazine, put a good chunk into another book and another magazine and probably said three words to the girl I sat next to. She had breath so bad I could smell it even when she was turned towards the window. I know it’s mean but that’s just not something I want to deal with for 10 hours on a plane trip so I chose to embrace my Swedishness and not speak to her.

At around 16.00 I made a triumphant return to US soil. By 18.00 I had made my way back to the family. And the surprised screaming and crying of my ever aging mother. She’s turning 50 tomorrow. And had no idea I was coming. I’m very sneaky like that. As is CBCC, who made a triumphant return to Colorado soil last night, again to the surprise of my aging mother. Did I mention she is almost 50? That’s halfway to 100.

Anyway, here I am back home. And what did I do in my first full day in the US of A? Went to the big box stores of course. What better way to embrace Americana then to visit Borders, PetsMart (PetSmart?), Home Depot, and the biggest box of all – Wal-Mart. Which was full of fat people (of course I was there because I needed peanut butter and oatmeal cream pies so I probably don’t have much room to talk). I believe that Wal-Mart is someone’s sociological PhD dissertation waiting to happen. It is amazing in every sense of the word. And for so many different reasons. And whatever your views of Wal-Mart, because globally and hippy-ly Wal-Mart tends to be frowned upon, it is so very different from anything that can be found in Sweden that it needs to be experienced.

Walking in to Wal-Mart, NBC and I were met by a somewhat large woman yelling at her 5 year old “Damn it, don’t play on that” then waddling over to presumably mete out some sort of corporal punishment. And I laughed. Then went in and was reminded that it was all worth it. Because I found peanut butter for 5 dollars. And 2 bottles of contact solution for 6 (you’ll remember that I paid nearly 100 SEK for one bottle of the stuff just a while ago). And that’s hard to beat, which is exactly why I shop there. I have no morals when it comes to inexpensive consumer goods.

Aside from diving head first back into the American shopping culture in search of cheap goods the trip has been spent doing not a damn thing. And it’s been glorious.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Swedish Movie Night in Stockholm

DCP and I watched a nice Swedish movie last night. Masjävlar. And to be honest I have no idea what the mas part of masjävlar means so if someone wants to fill me in I’m all ears. I bought the movie because it was on sale. And DCP needed a Swedish movie to watch for her class. So what the hell.

It was a pretty solid movie. Takes place in Dalarna so they had a nice little accent. Amazing how many accents there are in Sweden considering it’s only the size of California.

The movie was billed as one of the best movies of the year. The year being the end of 2004 into 2005. The cover bragged that 785,000 people had seen the movie in theaters. 785,000 people. Sometimes this country seems so quaint. I love it.

But the movie itself was kind of what I have come to expect from Swedish films. The ones that I actually take the time to watch tend to be decent. But filled with awkward moments. And angst. Lots and lots of angst. Followed with a dash of depression, social anxiety, intense introspection. You know, all the makings of a light hearted film.

I’m not sure why this is. Maybe Swedes are just depressed as an entire country. If art imitates life then that must be the case. Or maybe they are still playing off that Bergman tradition from so long ago. But it’s not very often that a Swedish comedy makes any headlines. Or even seems to get noticed. The Swedes seem to have this sort of movie down though. So they might as well stick with it.

In all honesty though this movie managed to be kind of intense, kind of depressing, kind of quiet, kind of funny, kind of awkward, and pretty good all at the same time. Kind of like Sweden itself.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Swedish Murders Run Rampant

It hasn’t been an especially uplifting past few weeks in the news here in Sweden. The newspapers have been filled with murders. And not just any murders. The murder of children has dominated the media.

Most recent is the murder of a 10 year old girl who was on her way home from soccer. She was just a little ways away from home and had just called her mom on her cell phone. And she never made it. Turns out a 42 year old had “accidentally” (his lawyer’s term) killed her, hidden the body, and denied any knowledge of it. He later confessed, led them straight to the body, confessed to another murder, a rape attempt, and is being linked to at least one other murder. This along with some other crimes he had already been convicted for. Quite a nice burgeoning rap sheet. No word yet on if all of these were “accidental.”

Before that a one year old and a three year old were murdered while their mother was severely injured. It seems that a German woman with connection to the father of the children is behind that attack. Seems, not is, because of the whole innocent until guilty thing.

For some reason the murder of children always strikes a chord in any community. Something about the loss of innocence, the potential, the life not lived that really gets to people. And it’s understandable. Because to be able to kill someone that young takes a special kind of person. Special in a way that I can never understand. Special in a way that is horrifying. Special in a way that makes you question just how messed up people actually can be.

I love being in Sweden because of the reaction to this sort of thing. There is a sense of innocence and community throughout the country that just can’t be achieved very often in a place as big as the US. While sometimes misguided (like the woman who was out searching in the woods in southern Sweden while the girl had disappeared north of Stockholm) it is mostly a display of togetherness and faith in humanity. It speaks to the Swedish culture. It speaks to the smallness of this country. In a good way.

So as murder and crime dominate the news, I really hope Sweden keeps this sense of community that seems to stretch the entire country

Welcome to Sweden.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Swedish Grocery Shopping Adventures

I went grocery shopping on a Sunday in Kungens Kurva here in Stockholm. This may not have been the smartest idea ever. But now that I’m a working man grocery store trips after work don’t sound too appealing. So instead I put this off until the weekend. Which is what everyone else seems to do. It was packed. And ridiculous. But it worked. And I got what I needed… and more.

Because after having bitched and moaned about all the small packages of milk I hit the jackpot. I’ve been going for the 1.5 liter lately. So much better than the 1 liter. But today it happened. I stumbled upon a 2 liter carton of milk. Straight from a dairy in Skåne. The land of friendly people and big cartons of milk. Skåne is literally the land of milk and honey. Or at least milk.

It was kind of sad how happy this made me. I actually let out a little yelp. A happy yelp if you will. It’s the little things. All I know is that now I’m not going to have to run to the store every third day for milk. I might be able to get an extra day or two out of it.

The ramifications of this are huge. I have a habit of also buying something else when I go to the store for milk. And by something else I mean candy. So instead of 10 crowns for milk I end up spending 10 crowns plus my godis money. And that adds up when you’re going so often. Because this Swedish candy is addictive. And evil. But that’s a story for another day.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Swedish Commuters Fear Human Interaction

Sometimes I am struck by how Swedish I have become in my actions. And it’s not necessarily a good thing. And the train between Uppsala and Stockholm is a perfect example. Again, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

There are a whole lot of commuters going back and forth between Stockholm and Uppsala. A few students, but most of them are working in one city or the other. And it’s amazing to watch the interaction.

I was on this train yesterday when it struck me. Again. Swedes, or at least those in Stockholm and Uppsala, seem to fear any sort of human interaction. They do not want to sit next to each other. Most of the seats are in groups of two. There are a few in groups of four with a table in the middle separating the four though. These tend to be the last seats to go. The prime seats are the groups of two right next to the window. That way people have a reason to stare the other way. They’re looking out the window. That’s less weird than staring at the wall to avoid eye contact with others.

People will walk halfway through the train just to find a seat where they don’t need to sit next to anyone. People won’t even look up at those who are walking by. Eye contact could be interpreted as a sign that the seat is open. Even when the conductor comes to check the tickets there is little interaction. Most people just put their ticket on the seat next to them, or on the table, or hold it up silently. No need to speak more than absolutely necessary.

Now granted this was the commuter crowd and perhaps their will to live has been sucked out of them as they make their way back and forth to work. I don’t know. But somewhere in there you would imagine a spark of life. A spark that might turn into a conversation. Or at least a slight nod of the head to acknowledge some sort of existence.

The scary thing is that I’ve found myself doing the same thing. Walking through a few cars just so I can find a seat to myself. That way I can sit and read in peace. That’s my excuse. But it’s not a very good one. Of course, I do have limits. While most Swedes either sit themselves on the outside seat or plop all of their coats/backpacks/briefcases on the outside seat so no one can sit there, I have yet to take that step. While I might search for a group of empty seats I haven’t stooped so low as to keep everyone else from sitting next to me. Yet at least.

Welcome to Sweden.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Swedish Hockey Grabs My Attention

SM in ice hockey is going on. That’s the Swedish championship in the highest hockey league in Sweden, Elitserien. It’s a pretty high level of hockey and is well-respected around the world. All kinds of NHL stars have started their careers in the Swedish hockey league and all kinds of hockey stars have ended their career here.

Hell, even the next lowest division is pretty solid. Ed Belfour came over and played in the second division. And did quite well. Which I suppose is to be expected considering he is a future hall of fame goalie but still. Goes to show there is decent amount of respect for Swedish professional hockey.

Anyway, SM. Linköping and HV71. Two games are said and done. Linköping is leading two games to none. They won last night. And I watched the game. And quite enjoyed it. Mostly because I like hockey, and good hockey is even better. But it was more than that. There was so much passion. So much on the line. And it managed to come through even on my free 19 inch TV. And that’s impressive.

My favorite moment actually happened between the second and third period. During the second period, one of HV71’s players, Martin Thörnberg, stole the puck and raced down the ice. He froze the defender as he faked a pass across ice and ended up putting the puck in top shelf. It was pretty. But it shouldn’t have counted. Because in order to steal the puck he had to trip Johan Fransson from Linköping. And it was a blatant trip. Stick between the legs trip. And there was no call. And that’s fine. I have no special affinity for either team so I was just enjoying the game. It was one of those times though that I felt like the refs had a direct impact on the game. But I think it was because of all of this that I so enjoyed the interview during intermission.

The goal scorer was asked what happened and how he ended up stealing the puck while his opponent fell down. He answered simply “han får skylla sig själv,” basically, “he has only himself to blame.” I love it. No way was he going to admit to tripping when it resulted in a goal. So what better way than to place the blame on the guy that fell.

I love sports. And Swedish sports.

By the way, as reported by The Local, and all kinds of other media outlets, Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has nixed an Olympic boycott.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Swedish Bras Take a Scholarly Twist

It seems that some serious research is being done here in Sweden. Down in Lund, one of the most prominent universities in Sweden, research has been going on that could change the world. Or at least validate the hippies of the ‘60s. Because now it seems that early bra usage leads to saggy boobs. And no one wants that.

It seems that wearing a bra actually hinders the development of some sort of elasticity within the boob itself. Without the elasticity the boob can’t support itself leading to saggy breasts. It seems that as long as your boobs are growing you should avoid bras for a while. Unless of course, you are absolutely stacked, in which case you’re going to need the support.

The beauty of this study is that the professor behind the study, Göran Samsioe, seems to try to play off the study as a concern for the societal ills that young women fall prey to as they are pressured into wearing bras that give them cleavage. So really he has only the goodwill of young women everywhere in mind. And it has nothing to do with being able to stare at the boobs of 18-25 year old girls everyday under the guise of research.

He brings up that western society has sexified breasts. Which I doubt many people would argue with. And here in Sweden they do a good job of trying to fight that. Bara Bröst has even managed to start baring their breasts at indoor swimming pools. But come on Göran. You’re not fooling anybody. You are a product of western society. Breasts have been sexified for you too. It’s ok to admit. In fact, professors the world over are kicking themselves right now for not having thought of this first. So well done.

My favorite quote has got to be: “Samsioe cites a French study on women ages 18 to 25 which found that the distance between a woman’s nipples and the ground decreased in women who wore bras.” Mostly because of the way it is worded. I would never have thought to measure the distance between a woman’s nipples and the ground. Of course I’m not an old horny professor. Yet.

Welcome to Sweden.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Absolut Vodka Claims the US for Mexico

Absolut Vodka, which was recently sold by the Swedish government to Pernod Ricard for a whole lot of money managed to get themselves into a bit of marketing trouble. Considering there advertisements are famous around the world this tends to have a pretty big impact.

Absolut ran an ad, in Mexico, of an old map showing historical Mexico. Mexico at the time was a bit bigger, as in Texas, California and much of the west bigger. It’s a pretty cool ad actually. I enjoyed it. Thought it was creative. Really played to the Mexican market. Well done Absolut.

Unfortunately others did not agree. Mostly Americans. Apparently it touched a nerve. And Absolut pulled the ad. Despite it only being printed in Mexico. Which sucks. People need to relax. Not everything is offensive. Scantily clad women in ads aren’t offensive. LeBron James on the cover of Vogue isn’t offensive. Absolut claiming part of the US as Mexico isn’t offensive. Political correctness is exhausting and overrated. And stifling.

I have written about the political correctness in advertising here in Sweden with regards to sexism in advertising. It’s mind boggling that people are concerned about this sort of thing. It almost seems that by constantly finding something to be offended by, the very people who are trying to fight sexism, racism, and all the other isms, just give credence and reinforce what they are trying to eliminate.

Sometimes an ad is just an ad. And a picture is just a picture. And to constantly be claiming otherwise only serves to diminish your position when it really does matter. Unfortunately political correctness can be found wherever you go. Whether it be Stockholm, Sweden, or Eugene, Oregon. And just about anywhere in between.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Stockholm's Public Transportation Survey. And a Big Ass Rat.

Today it happened. I had my chance to speak out about SL to the people that really matter. SL. Stockholm’s friendly, neighborhood public transportation. I was sitting on the train this morning when a woman came around with a survey for me to fill out about my opinions about SL. I jumped at the chance. She seemed friendly enough but I felt like she was hovering. And having administered my fair share of surveys back in my university years (the good old days as they will henceforth be known) hovering is not good. It can change the way people respond to questions. Make them feel guilty about being mean. I did not have that problem.

Those of you who read this already know I’m not a big fan of SL. I just don’t like having to wait for train delays. Or for cancellations. They aren’t fun. And what I’ve started to notice is that it seems that this usually only has an impact on the pendeltåg (literally commuter train) traffic and not so much the actual subway. So apparently, living in the middle of Stockholm, or at least closer to Stockholm, has its benefits in the public transportation.

Anyway, I finally had my chance to bitch and moan and rank SL. I get so tired of seeing these newspaper articles about how people love SL and record numbers are pleased with the service provided. So I took advantage. They received an overall grade of 3 from me. On a scale of 8. I’ll be honest; I was having a nice day too. Had my train been delayed it might have been 1’s and 2’s across the board.

And for some other SL news you can use: a big ass rat caused delays in the train traffic in Stockholm's Central Station on Saturday. I first got this article from BGC and Colorado’s local NBC news affiliate. Sweden is making international news for all the right reasons. I later got to read about it on The Local (just a heads-up – the two articles are exactly the same) as well as in the free newspaper this morning. The rat was so big that when it got electrocuted it caused three hours of delays. Good times indeed.

Welcome to Sweden, where rats are big enough to delay trains.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Swedish Justice System Sucks. Swedish Ice Cream Does Not.

Sometimes this country drives me nuts. Like over the last couple of days. Because some of the news is just so mind boggling that I almost have to laugh to make myself feel better. Otherwise it would just be frightening.

This week a 59 year old man who has admitted to downloading child porn since the ‘90s was sentenced to prison. He likes 12 year olds he has said. He had about two to three million pictures. That’s 2,000,000 to 3,000,000. That’s a lot of zeroes. And is disgusting. And he should be sentenced to prison. They got that part right at least. Unfortunately he was only sentenced to six months prison. Because I’m sure six months without child porn will do the trick. Considering he’s been downloading it for nearly two decades.

The Swedes are big on the idea of a prison being used to help people. To make them a better person. To prepare them for society. It’s a lovely ideal. Unfortunately, they seem to give themselves too much credit. Because of they can cure a child porn addict (remember those 2-3 million pictures?) they can cure anyone. And are probably committing a crime by not taking their healing powers on tour ridding the world of all evil.

I heard about this first on good old SVR and was kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. You know the other shoe that complains about the light sentence. The other shoe asking how a man who has been downloading this sort of stuff for almost 20 years will stop after six months. That shoe never dropped. Instead everyone just seemed pleased that he was sentenced to prison in the first place. Good times here in the Swedish justice system.

On a more positive note though I had some delicious Swedish ice cream with DCP today. I had an 88 for those of you wondering. It's a wonder there aren't more fat Swedes considering how good the candy and ice cream is in this country. You would think I would get tired of it but here it is ten months later and I'm still shoving it in my face...

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Stockholm’s Central Station Freezes

Today was April Fool’s day. You know, first day of April, cute little jokes for everyone to partake in. The newspapers played a few jokes. But a campaign called World Freeze takes the cake. They did some glorious work today in Central Station at 18:00. That’s 6 in the pm for those of you scoring at home.

They froze. For five minutes they froze. And it was pretty damn cool to see. I had read about it in the newspaper and also heard about it on the radio so I was prepared and DCP met me at the station as I was coming home from work. It seems this kind of started with a group called Improv Everywhere when they froze at Grand Central Station in New York City. Very cool.

The guy on the radio said he was hoping to start a discussion about the stressful lives that people lead and what would happen if everyone just froze for a few minutes. Plus it’s kind of a fun little prank. And community art I suppose also. It did it all.

Whether it started a stress related dialogue I don’t know. But it was pretty sweet to see. I did not freeze. Because I am not part of the group. I did however take some video with my handy digital camera. I’ve never posted a video from this camera before so we’ll see how it goes. All I know is that there is a lot of noise in Stockholm’s Central Station that I am apparently tuned out too. Until the video plays. So just a heads up. Background noise is intense.

This video shows the moments before everyone unfroze.