new proven effect

Coca Cola Light appeared some 25+ years ago and is still with us. During all these years it has been constantly reinvented. Whenever you buy a can, be sure to notice that this is in fact a new, improved recipe. Even the name changes. Light, Diet, Zero, yada-yada. Coca Cola is one of the most successful brands in our time. Why the company would tarnish its reputation with this constant experimenting is beyond me.

The conservative Swedish moderate party has decided to ditch most of its traditional views. Instead they have started to "listen". Out of this listening comes a mainstream political agenda, designed to win elections. Yesterday's convictions didn't bring about success so let's get ourselves some new ones instead.

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others" (Groucho Marx)

Which brings me to my toothpaste. I'm relying on an old brand which has been around forever. Well, for ages at least. No, not my tube. The brand. Please pay attention. On my current tube I read "new proven effect". Whether it's a good or bad effect, who proved it and why this vintage brand would need new effects at all isn't immediately clear to me but I'm sure there's a lot of marketing communication theory behind this kind of blurb.

So, what's all this about then? Change we can believe in?


stop wasting my money

Why on earth is Stockholm City Council the main sponsor of our local philharmonic orchestra? Their mandate is about health care and public transportation for well over a million residents. OK. We've got good health care and good public transportation but there are so many in need in this city, so many holes to pour additional money into.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the local philharmonics. In fact, I'm a regular visitor at their concerts and have been for a quarter of a century. But let me pay for my own tickets and concentrate on your core business, dear city council.
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too much of a good thing

When we bought the cottage some 40+ years back it was basically an old apple garden. We were told that no one had taken care of it for decades and so it looked. So half of the trees were cut down and the rest were given the responsibility to decorate the premises.

Now, back to the future.

I suppose these trees are approaching the age of a hundred years but they don't show any signs of fading away. Granted, the "decorating" functionality is limited. But they do produce apples. Good apples. Lots of apples. Ridiculous amounts of apples, in fact. So friends and neighbors get their share, we eat apple cake as often as we can and fail miserably at consuming this fruit, most of which ends up being disposed of among other garden waste. Animals, big and small, can look forward to their standard cuisine during the winter.

Bon appetit.
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packing one's belongings, to be continued

Why does packing take so long? Assembling some everyday things for the kind of domestic trip I've done so many times. No kids, no animals, no nothing. Just my stuff. Some clothes, some music to go, something to read. How difficult can it be? I spend a week thinking about it. A day preparing for it. And finally another day actually doing it. The packing. And at eleven pm the darn suitcase is still not ready. Camera batteries not yet charged. Do I bring the umbrella or not? Oh, probably. But it doesn't fit in the briefcase (well it does but not with my laptop in it) so I'd have to stove it away in the big one. Which obviously won't be around when I actually need the umbrella. Gah! And it's so boring. I'll do some blogging instead.
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A paradox can be an apparently true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition; or it can be, seemingly opposite, an apparent contradiction that actually expresses a non-dual truth...

Ehm well, OK thanks Wikipedia. I think I'll try to elaborate myself.

Here are a few apparent contradictions I've noticed.

More people than ever carry photographic devices. Still, as a photographer I'm more often questioned about what, who and why.

More people than ever choose to interact socially over the web. We like to leave digital footprints in discussion groups, blogs or social sites. Still, there is an increasing anxiousness on the part of citizens that the authorities are able to track our activities, listen in and profile us.

And of course, an old favourite: More people than ever complain about not having enough time. And yet, thanks to all sorts of modern inventions life has never been easier. When was the last time you had to carry drinking water from the well to your home?

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mitigating by Sveavägen

How's this for irony?

Me, myself and I out and about. Strolling, in particular, looking for brilliant photos to snap. Sveavägen, Stockholm, in the middle of a warm summer night. It's darkish, like it should be around midnight at the end of July. The stony pathway leads me behind a pond. Neon lights reflected in the water. Nice. Looking to my right. Looking to my left. Looking in every possible direction except where I'm walking. The dimly lit stony pathway has a certain inclination and here's a step. Or, to be precise, there was a step. Me did not notice. Now me notice. This is not your average stumbling. The world turns roughly 90 degrees as I'm falling like a log. This wasn't part of the plan. No, I would have remembered that. Wasn't even in the fine print. Now, one thing which definitely was part of the plan is that my camera has been tied to my wrist. I wouldn't want to lose it. And guess what? After a second of falling (not particularly gracefully) I land on my right hand. With the camera in it. To be precise, I land on the camera. It's being smashed onto and scratched along that stony surface as my less-than-discreet weight follows on top of it all.

So there you go. I tie the camera to my wrist for protection and end up crashing on it. Mitigating one risk sometimes creates a new and possibly greater one...


from Jörn with love

I keep returning to Inlandsbanan. This old railway is surrounded by lots of good news these days. Record crowds are booking the tourist trains. A proposal for electrifying the southernmost part is turning into an official study, complete with EU funding. And the previously closed line between Jörn and Arvidsjaur just might be reopened after twenty years.

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SEK 14, so what?

The price of petrol goes up, like any summer. So what? It's not high enough. Take a drive at rush hour, just look at all those cars and see what kind of effect this price has. None whatsoever. Watch how people drive on a highway. Their speed, their distance to the vehicle in front of them, watch those red tail lights flickering. Most drivers could easily reduce their petrol consumption by 10-20 percent by driving smoothly. Why don't they? Because they don't care. Apparently, petrol is still way too cheap.

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fett grymt

Languages are mysterious things. Words find new meaning. A highly negative word becomes a term of adoration.

We just got ourselves a new word for being cool, outstanding, brilliant.

We found "grym" which used to mean "cruel". That's right, cruel like in cruelty to little creeps.

du är så grym - you're simply outstanding

Not necessarily cruel, though. Or does that matter anymore? A language and how it evolves probably says something about us and our time. Finding out exactly what it says is left as an exercise for the reader.
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Silvio is back

I attended a big rally in Rome some years back and I can still hear the ladies standing next to me (alright, not the youngest ones) shouting "Silvio, Silvio" at the mere thought of Him appearing. Which he didn't. But you've got to hand it to him, this is not a politician without magnetism. Not surprisingly he has once again won an undisputed victory for his coalition in the national elections so it'll be Prime Minister Berlusconi again although he'll remain "Silvio" to his devoted fans.

Most foreign comments are rather negative. He's not serious, he's incompetent, we're told. Let's take the "competence" matter. As far as I know his recent government remained in power for five straight years between ordinary elections and this had never happened in post-war Italy. That's sufficiently serious and competent in my book.

Berlusconi is an eccentric person. I certainly wouldn't endorse everything he says and does but then again but I wouldn't do that for any politician. Facts remain, the Italians put their hopes once again in this media mogul, he will have a strong power base in the parliament and the economy will need some tough measures. Let's see what happens. It won't always be predictable, it will never be boring.

Silvio is back.
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living daylights

My old pager handles Daylight Savings Time by itself, automatically adjusting on the minute. Then I got my previous cell phone which handled this automatically but only after first asking me for confirmation. Then I got a new cell phone. It hasn't got a clue and I'm back to manually setting the time twice a year. I wonder what kind of progress we'll have next time.


if you don't like the song...

I wonder what it is about the yearly Eurosong qualification race that generates such a lot of negative vibes with many citizens. There are plenty of examples but this was particularly evident with the entry "I Love Europe" with Christer Sjögren in the first round. The song immediately qualified for our national finals so obviously I'm not the only one appreciating it. It did get a lot of votes.

But that was not the only thing it got. Lots of negative remarks about not just the song but the singer as well, not to mention the senile segment of the population who allegedly constitute his fan base. The commentator in our national public radio seemed to enjoy this and did nothing to provide a bit of balance. This artist happened to be the most senior one in the contest. In another country that might have generated a bit of respect. He also happens to be the most qualified vocalist and has more experience than his competitors have between them.

If you don't like the song, just say so and cut the crap. After all it's about songs and not about bad-mouthing the artists or their fans. Let's use this occasion to stay positive, enjoy the contest and appreciate the diversity in musical styles.


the free lunch revisited

Admittance to some national museums is free for youngsters but grown-ups have to pay a small fee. This is a more generous policy than has been in place over the years but it's still a reversal of the populist policy of the former government which introduced free entrance seven days a week for everyone. Swedes generally prefer the idea that someone else pays for everything (in case anyone wonders why we have the highest taxes) and this area is no exception. Complaints emerge from all corners of the political spectrum.

Why can't we have free entrance? I'll tell you why. Because resources are limited. Our national defense, our police force, schools and hospitals are sectors crying out for reinvestments. Whenever I enter a museum I can rely on the taxpayers subsidizing most of the cost for me anyhow. Why would it be unreasonable to pay a symbolic entrance fee? What does it cost to take the family to a hockey game? A movie? Do your own math and compare.

Recent statistics shows that fewer people visit museums these days. Possibly. Is that a problem? It probably means that some people passing by, looking for a toilet or visiting the café of the museum now go elsewhere. It probably means that those who do visit on average stay longer and see more. Is that a problem? It probably means that littering and vandalism will go down so the museums can concentrate on their mission. More curators and fewer guards. Is that a problem?

It's an old expression, valid none the less. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

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