Thursday, August 28, 2008

What swedes talk about - the death of gender

Today I've had a look at Swedish social bookmarking/blog monitoring sites pusha and knuff.se, swedish sites similar to digg and reddit. There's also of course Estonian blog.tr.ee which I've checked out but couldn't be bothered to make my way around due to the language barrier (wow, that logo is really similar to that of livejournal). Actually I'd want some sort of aggregate social bookmark tool to put by the blog posts, but I don't like AddThis since it only has del.icio.us which I actually use, but not the Swedish sites. Any suggestions?

So what are swedes discussing the most avidly right now? Well, obviously that the women Jessica Zandén and Cecilia Gyllenhammar are crying "Equality is suffocating us! Give us back the real man!".

Ever since swedish weight-lifter Lennart "Hoa-Hoa" Dahlgren posed for the male parental-leave-ad, Swedish gender has been a very advanced topic. Actually, at least already in the 40's Karin Boye chipped a piece of the Swedish gender façade, and since then the illusion of those roles has been falling to pieces.

Personally, I respect the opinions of those debaters, they miss the classic man, that's fine. However, I definitely do not agree with their opinion that there are no men and that essentially everyone are as opressed by feminism as they feel. Many of us are actually feeling less opressed and more liberated with the absence of accepted gender roles, that we can be whatever person we actually want without squeezing ourselves into some badly fitting gender costume. With the debating and images which have been popular over the years though, agreed some are probably a bit confused in their self-image, but the current debade is just reactionary and silly.


(Update: Zandén and Gyllenhammar had a short spot at Janne Josefsson's SVT Debatt. Josefsson is as usual extremely tough and clueless, the debate starters made a bit more sense in person, but if they wanted to bring light back to the combination of sex, machismo and violence, they could have done it infinitely better. And they could have been sober when they write the article)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yesterday Tallinn, today Gori, tomorrow... ?

The other day, SVT Rapport showed some pictures which really strongly affected me. When discussing the war in Georgia, they showed pictures from the "liberation" of Tallinn or sometime later when Soviet tanks were rolling on the streets of Tallinn. In a street I know, a couple of hundred meters from my home, along Pronski street, by the crossing of Liivalaia and Tartu Mantee, where Stockmann is today to be precise.


Let's not forget that until Russia invaded Georgia, except for the problems of armed conflicts with rebels in South-Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia was a civilized and democratic place with friends and connections throughout Europe. Heck, my favorite restaurant is the Georgian "Embassy" in Tartu, Georgians have struggled and achieved independence from the Soviets like the Estonians did and now they are pleading to the international community to help them maintain their freedom from opression in their own homes and cities!

Regardless of what the Russian regime claims, it should be beyond clear to any westener that the Neo-Soviet Putin is protecting the South-Ossetian and Abkhazian Russian citizens almost exactly like Hitler protected the Czech Sudet Germans. We don't want Russia to come protect anyone here...

PS. We don't however, mind being protected by the space robots :-)

(Update: It seems those particular pictures were from the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt (that's good reading by the way, as is that of Estonian SSR) in which tanks rolled into every capital in the union to gain control over TV towers and similar. In Estonia they were stopped by unarmed masses by the Tallinna teletorn since fortunately, international media were already present to prevent a massacre)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sommar i P1 is nearing it's end, with Mia and Klara, the dynamic bitterness duo

Today two of my favourite comedians were on the Sommar in P1 program, Mia Skäringer and Klara Zimmergren - the geniuses behind the old show Roll On. No one can beat them at really squeezing the bitter juice out of life, serving it to you with a remotely polite smile while clearing their teeth of some remaining snus with the tounge.

Not everyone, actually probably quite few, enjoy the humor of Mia and Klara and Roll On, but I love it and sometimes go back to listening to it - that and Riskradion. It's so Swedish.


Anyway, I just figured I should mention that the list of mp3's of the shows, with all music still included, was just updated. Enjoy!

(Update: To know which is which of Klara and Mia - Klara is the older and blonde, Mia is the younger, (visibly) tatooed and dark-haired, and she has a blog! Wohoo! *subscribe*)

(Update 2: Also, don't miss the excellent TV-series version of Roll On simply called Mia och Klara)

Monday, August 11, 2008

múm at Leigo Järvemuusika

This Saturday we watched múm and Villu Veski at Leigo Järvemuusika. múm is an Icelandic psychedelic ambient band much like Sigur Rós and Villu Veski is an Estonian jazz saxophone player.

Some of our friends have objected to Leigo Järvemuusika as an environmentally hostile jippo which treats their workers like crap - and sure enough I found it somewhat revolting that they seemed to be pouring and pouring gasoline onto those smoking piles of straw, but at least I can hope it was organic fuel.

Regardless, the experience as such was absolutely magical - múm was very nice and when Villu Veski was playing in front of a lake entirely covered in floating candles, the lights in the open night and finally the chinese lanterns sailing away like rapidly circulating stars, while I was holding baby in my arms... it was very very good.

I took some pictures of the whole thing and of course last.fm tagged them on flickr. That way they show up to everyone browsing the last.fm event. Enjoy, and do it yourself the next time you're at an event!


Just for fun, I recorded some of the concert (beware, very noisy sound!):


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Kindo family tree helped me find my cousin

This is fun, my friend Martin over at Kindo asked to publish my story in their blog (also available in swedish here):


Estonian names are close to each other

Back in university, we used to amuse ourselves with figuring out combinations of words at a Hamming distance of 1 from each other. In non-nerd speak, this means words that in a somewhat arbitrary way differ in only one letter.

To my frustration, Estonians have an amazing amount of names which are very hard to tell apart. Neither of these names are made up, we know of people called each of these names! :
  • Raimo
  • Reimo
  • Raido
  • Kaido
  • Raiko
  • Reiko
  • Radko
  • Raivo (two of them)
  • Aire
  • Aira
  • Airi
  • Aido
  • Aivi
  • Kadi
  • Kadri
  • Katri
  • Katrin
  • Katre
  • Urmas (two of them, with last-names also with distance 1)
  • Urmet
  • Urmo
  • Ainer
  • Einar
  • Janar
  • Silver
  • Silvar
  • Arvo
  • Ardi
  • Ahti
  • Ahto
  • Aare

In comparison, these are all the Swedish similar names I can come up with:
  • Marie
  • Maria
  • Peter
  • Petter
  • Caroline
  • Carolina

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

R.I.P. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1918 - 2008 (August 3, aged 89)


This last Sunday, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Russian: Алекса́ндр Солжени́цын) a true hero of the Soviet people, passed away from a heart attack (DN writes about it here, SVT Rapport obituary here).

While serving in the Soviet Red Army Solzhenitsyn was in a kafkaesque fashion convicted to an eight-year labour camp prison term for making some joking comments about the communist leaders in a private letter to a friend. After serving that term, he still had to suffer an "internal exile" which among other things meant he just barely could get his lifethreatening cancer treated.

During his internal exile after the prison term, with risk for his own life, Solzhenitsyn wrote and managed to smuggle his monumental work The Gulag Archipelago (Russian: Архипелаг ГУЛАГ) out of the Soviet Union. For this he was awarded with the 1970 Nobel prize in literature.

"The Gulag Archipelago" describes the structure of, and life in the Soviet prison system. The Gulag is the name of the prison system as such, forming an "archipelago" with it's "islands" present throughout Soviet cities and in the wilderness in the form of detention prisons, transit prisons and labor camps. The book is so detailed that the cruelty of the system becomes almost surreal and humorous as Solzhenitsyn paints an impressive picture of the thoughts, characteristics and actions of these people who in any other situation would be considered innocent but in the Soviets were prisoners.

It is said to have been Solzhenitsyn's biggest dream to get to return to his beloved Russia as a free man, and so now he finally did. He was particilarly respected by the Swedish people because of how he with a gentle hand enlightened us of the scale of a genocide well comparable to the holocaust.

(Update: Since this is a blog and not some official obituary, I'll allow myself to mention another Estonian hero in the struggle for freedom from the Soviets. Andres Küng (his old homepage here) was a Swedish-Estonian journalist, writer, politician and entrepreneur who wrote numerous books about the nation, being exiled from his parents' Estonia up until just before it gained independence. I have been reading his book Estonia Awakens (the book seems only available in Swedish translation) and it is amazing to read Estonian history told "from the middle" so to say (the book is published in -88). Because, as is said in The Black Swan, history is written going backwards)

(Update 2: Apologies for that my bio of Solzhenitsyn may be both incomplete and erroneous, I'm simply no expert. Also it's worth reading La Russophobe that writes, next to a picture of Solzhenitsyn shaking hand with "president" Putin:
As Viktor Sonkin, a literature columnist for The Moscow Times Context section and a teacher of cultural studies at Moscow State University, wrote in his column: "Solzhenitsyn understood Western society only superficially, and many alarming things he said about it were simply not correct. Rejecting the 'bad totalitarianism' of the Soviet type, Solzhenitsyn was promoting a kind of 'good totalitarianism,' as if there were such a thing in the world."
Solzhenitsyn may have been a hero, but lately he seems to have been generally considered unfit by many. Maybe not so strange considering the experiences he suffered)