Saturday, October 22, 2011


 The dahlias were beautiful and vibrant one day and gone the next. The frost. The poor dears thought they were in their native Central America and the flowering would go on a lot longer. But no. Sweden is on the same latitude as Alaska and Siberia, and the Gulf Stream does make our climate temperate, but when the frost comes, it is the end for the frost sensitive plants such as dahlias, beans and potatoes. 
But it was fun having you dear dahlia friends. See you next year. I will dig up your tubers and keep you safe over the winter and plant you in the spring when there is absolutely no danger of frost. Then we will have some more floral fun all summer long. Yes?

Monday, October 17, 2011


An article this month in THE NEW YORKER confirms the fascination people feel for IKEA - what other company lowers prices when possible? They could pocket the profit instead of passing it on to you. And the prices are already low to begin with. But no, IKEA wants YOU to benefit from the saving they have made. It is a clever marketing device drawing attention to the lowered price, thus binding the IKEA-smitten customer ever closer. 

What I like about IKEA is that they do not pretend that their products are all made in Sweden. Instead they always, very honestly show in what country the product is made: China, Vietnam, india,Thailand, Poland and Turkey these are countries you see very often these days. Very few products are made in Sweden, some plastic coat hangers and napkins, that is all I have seen recently. I have some cups and saucers from 1981 that say "Made in Sweden". Those were the days. No more. Too expensive.

When you buy a stainless colander at IKEA one cannot help being impressed at the logistics of it all. Fifty years ago, simply put, every country had their own manufacturers making colanders for their own market. Now IKEA has one factory making uniform colanders (at the lowest price possible) for the entire world. If you don't think that impressive, what is? Machine production makes it possible for IKEA to mass produce colanders for everyone in the world, but there was once a product produced by IKEA many years ago that was not machine made. 
IKEA once sold hand painted Swedish Folk Art figures.The label said "Made in Sri Lanka", no doubt the cheapest place to have them produced. The Sri Lankan artists must have had some samples to copy.  And they did a very good job too. The figures in Swedish folk costumes looked lovely and vibrant with all the details perfectly copied. They varied somewhat from artist to artist, but they looked perfectly Swedish. With one exception -- it was not intended, only a natural instinct and nothing they reflected on: the noses. They looked much more Sri Lankan than Swedish and that is a wonderful, unintended message from these artists who probably would have preferred to express themselves creatively in some other way, but had to mass copy these figures for probably a very low but nevertheless welcome wage. 


In years to come, there will probably be plenty of books and films produced about the OCCUPY movement of 2011, perhaps looking back nostalgically and romantically - the way people today look back on Woodstock of 1969.
Attention will no doubt be given to the Art produced by the Occupy movement -- the many free posters donated to the movement by various artists. See all posters here. Maybe art collectors should be downloading them while they are still free?

Saturday, October 8, 2011


In Tennesse Williams'  play "A Streetcar Named Desire", the street car is called just that, Desire, but a street car named David? Well, you have to go to Gothenburg, Sweden for an explanation to that one.

The people of Gothenburg  love their trams so much that each tram has been given a name -- names of famous people. That is why you can find a tram called David Carnegie there. And who was David Carnegie you might ask. That question could have a local historian talk for hours about David Carnegie and the many other Scottish immigrants to Gothenburg but a preface from "Scots in Sweden" sums it up pretty well. Read here.
Some more info about David Carnegie here and here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


An interesting aspect of the Occupy Wall Street protest now spreading across the US, is the people's microphone. Due to city regulations, the protestors are not allowed to use bullhorns or loud speakers, so the protestors came up with a solution: The people around the speaker repeat every sentence as it occurs so all can hear. The speaker has to wait until the sentences are repeated by the group, and of course it takes longer to deliver the message, but the collective, ritualistic and evocative chanting quality of the repetition process, is strangely moving.
Listen to the people around Michael Moore repeat his message, sentence after sentence.
The protestors meet every evening and have developed their own democracy in dealing with various practical matters -- many American TV commentators have been moved and impressed by this. 
The protestors have their own homepage and people from all over the world support them and send food to be delivered to them.
More info:
-Article from  Chicago Sun-Times
-Many pictures from Flickr. New pictures added all the time. Slideshow.
-Article: "How the People's Mic Works"
-Keith Olbermann reads the first collective statement of Occupy Wall Street.