You can’t believe everything you read

Scanning the internet, I discovered the following description of Sweden. Talk about the internet being a great way to spread false information! You can’t believe everything you read!

‘Sweden is the homeland of the great Moose and the majority of Swedes are dependent on it for their survival. Don’t go to Sweden for business purposes in September. It is most likely that the firm you’ll supposed to visit is closed down because of flu which is a swedish nickname for Moosehunt.

The yearly moosehunt, this is Sweden remember, is a folk feast heavily regulated by govermental legislation. Each county, every village, down to the very individual landowner gets a statistically based yearly quota on how many moose they have the right to shoot. For the average landowner this counts down to 0.0342 moose. Now how do you shoot 0.0342 moose? The best way is to team up with other hunting neighbors until you reach score one and then hump off to the woods with walkie-talkies and hope that you not shot each other or even worse – more than one moose, a catastrophy that could prevent your hunting rights for decades.

Swedish hunters always use the latest weaponry when hunting. However after an incident in 1912 when a tactical nuke accidentally killed some polish lingonberry-pickers, hunters were banned from using anything more destructive than paper airplanes. The ban was lifted 19 years later after country-clown Markoolio had been successfully assassinated with a flame thrower.

Now direct hunting is not the most important way to survive on the Swedish moose. More profitable is either to sell hunting rights to germans or moose related souvenirs to everyone else. The Swedish Moose Souvenir Industry is surpassed in the field of cheap mass produced gizmos only by toy production in Taiwan and lately the Wal-Mart’s Republic of China.

Even if the demand for Swedish moose puppets has rocketed on world market, business analyst believe that the sign of the future is export of the Moose warning traffic signs.

Moose manure paper is a huge profitable industry. Recently the paper quality has been good enough for printing dollars on, something that greatly has improved Swedens trade balance with the US.

Another successful product related to moose is the popular drink Tomtebloss, served at all nightclubs concerned of their reputation. The ingredients are: 1/3 home made booze 1/3 blueberry juice 1/3 lobster broth and a dash of Moose piss. This drink usually occurs together with Surströmming.’

Are you an Extreme Swede?

We’re participating in a trade show called ‘Personalmässan’ today and tomorrow. After Day 1, it’s looking promising. The theme that we have is ‘Are you an Extreme Swede?’. We held a lecture on the subject which was well-visited and popular and we also have a quiz card with 4 simple questions to help people analyse if they are an extreme Swede.

So the question is…..are you an Extreme Swede?

Here are the questions, answer ‘yes’, ‘maybe’ or ‘no’:

1. It is ok to call the boss by his/her first name
2. I have the right to give my opinion on matters that affect me
3. Religion should always be considered in government decisions and policies
4. I am irritated if people are late without letting me know

If you answered 1. Yes, 2. Yes, 3. No, 4. Yes – then you are, according to research and Extreme Swede!


Swedes in Euphoria

Last night, Sweden selected its representative for the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s an understatement to say that the process to find the winner is popular in Sweden. After 5 heats, the finalists are selected, and a winner is voted in – partly by 10 international juries and partly by the Swedish public.

Usually after the competition, discussion and debate begins – did the right song win? No! The wrong song won! It’s like a national chant for a few days after the final.

But this year seems different – everyone seems to be in agreement that the right song actually won. The whole nation seems convinced. Is that what makes a success at Eurovision?

The winner, an artist called Loreen, sings a fantastic house/pop song called ‘Euphoria’ and has a show combining ballet, yoga, expressive dance and Kate Bush. Loreen seems to have captured Sweden’s hearts – euphoria!

But Loreen is no ordinary representative. Already, she has made a political comment about the democratic rights and rights of women in Azerbaijan. In a media circus such as the Eurovision Song Contest, this is a refreshing element. Anyone who claims that politics has no place in the event is misguided – it always has been and always will be highly political.

So let’s happily send Loreen – not only because she’s a great artist with a great song, but also because she’s a modern, politically-aware self-declared feminist who wants to make a difference.

Swedes abandon the church

According to the World Value’s Survey, Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world. In other words, the importance of religion in people’s daily lives is much less than in many other cultures.

And this is shown in an analysis released by the Church of Sweden’s chief analyst, Jonas Bromander. he claims that in the next ten years, the church will lose one million members´and this will lead to a loss of 1.5 billion kronor for the organisation. The obvious consequence of this will be cutbacks amongst the 23,000 employees and that many of Sweden’s 3700 churches will have to be shut down.

Is this the cause or the effect of Sweden’s secularisation?

The Swedish Hen Debate

I saw a sign on a newspaper stand today- ‘Are you provoked by hen?’. The hen that is being referred to is a new term of address that is gender neutral and that can be used to describe male or female. And this is why it’s provoking for some.

In Swedish, ‘han’ is he, and ‘hon’ is her. The term ‘hen’ is suggested to cover both. The pronoun was suggested in an article in 1994 – but actually it was initiated earlier than that. In 1966, it was introduced by journalist Rolf Dunås in a local newspaper in the town of Uppsala.

But why is it causing a storm now? In January this year, a children’s book called ‘Kivi and the monster dog’ was released. In the book, Kivi was referred to as ‘hen’. Was she a girl or was he a boy? The author deemed it unnecessary and the children readers didn’t mind. But parents, media, politicians and certain schools reacted strongly.

In another experiment,at a primary school in Stockholm, the teachers use the term ‘hen’ when talking about the children. The intention is to avoid pigeonholing children at an early age into a specific gender with everything that that brings with it. Again, mixed repsonses have been observed in the parents – some love it and othjers hate it.

In cultural studies, there is a dimension known as ‘Maculinity-Femininity’. This dimension refers to how clearly separated the gender roles are in a society. A Masculine society is a society where men do traditonal men’s things (work, fix the car, building, plumbing etc), and women do traditional women’s things (cook, clean, take care of children). A Feminine society is a society where these gender roles are less clear, where there is overlap between the sexes in terms of behaviours and expectations.

According to research, Sweden is the most ‘Feminine’ country in the world. So, it’s no surprise that there is a high awareness of gender neutrality and that it expresses itself in, for example, pronouns such as ‘hen’.

So, we may see ‘hen’ as a ridculous attempt to make everybody the same, or as a natural and logical progression of the Swedish belief in gender equality.

Battle in the laundry room

Most Swedes have never visited a public laundromat. Never had to carry their laundry on the bus to get to the nearest one. Never had to stand in line to wait for a machine. Never had to remain in the laundromat with the loaded machine for fear that the clothes might get stolen.

This is because, as a fantastic standard, all Swedish apartment blocks have their own laundry room and many Swedes also have a washing machine in their apartment. The communal laundry room is included in the service charge that each resident pays and, in most places, is a constant source of irritation and discussion. Typical bones of contention are:

– that it’s difficult to get a wash time
– that people steal each others was times
– that people use/borrow/steal washing powder
– that people don’t empty the driers of their clothes
– that people are noisy
– that people don’t clean up after themselves

There’s a lot to get irritated about and people really seem to enjoy fighting over the laundry room.

Swedes in general strike me as a cleanly people. It seems like the washing machines are in constant use and the driers are always humming. But sometimes this can go a bit over the top.

A family in the town of Karlstad have recently been in court because their neighbours complained they were too clean. Apparently, the couple were regulars in the laundry room – as much as 11 times per month. This created a lot of noise and made it difficult for the other residents to get access to the washing machines. The court ruled against the happy washers – in the eyes of law, they had washed too often.

It’s amazing what people take to the courts. And it’s even more amazing that there is a ‘law’ about what’s an appropriate amount of times to do the laundry in a communal laundry room.

I guess if you’re a clean freak and you live in Sweden, the conclusion is obvious – get your own washing machine!

Oh, those beautiful Swedes

Good news to all Swedes!

A recent survey was carried out by Travellers’ Digest about where the world’s most beautiful men and women reside. Their conclusion? The most beautiful men are in Stockholm! Stockholm’s women came in second position, beaten only by the lovely ladies of Kiev. Alexander Skarsgård, from True Blood, was provided as a classical example of the ‘hot Swedish guy’.

This is what Traveller’s Digest writes about Swedish men:

‘Swedish men have long been misunderstood. Case in point: they are often stereotyped as cold, emotionally distant loners and inexplicably mistaken for Swiss guys. On the plus side, they are also generally considered aesthetically pleasing due to their fine-boned Nordic attributes and exceptional height advantage. Although there always seems to be some truth to these types of classifications, in the case of these Scandinavian studs, the deeper reality is quite a pleasant surprise. Your average man in Stockholm is an impeccably-dressed clotheshorse that truly indulges in the enjoyment of the finer things in life: from food to fashion, culture to hearth. But what really makes them unique? Despite the fact that one must practice patience when engaging in the slightly bizarre ritual known as the Swedish courting process, once you have captured the heart and imagination of your elegant gent he will be devoted to you for life. What’s more irresistible than that?’

And for women, they write:

‘What you have seen on the beer commercials is true; Sweden really does have some of the world’s most beautiful women. The streets of Stockholm are literally packed with these gorgeous women, who are as tall as they are luscious. Even better, is that Scandinavians are world renowned for their friendliness, so there’s a good chance that the girl you’re eyeing is actually a sweet and down to earth person.’

But, don’t be dismayed, Swedish women actually topped the list of the world’s most beautiful women – this is what they wrote:

‘Sweden is firmly in first place on this list. The first time you visit Sweden is an unreal experience as you realize that everything you have ever heard is, in fact, true! The women are tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed goddesses whom are friendly and educated to boot. There must be something in the air.’

I guess I’m lucky to live in Stockholm!!