2010-11-26

Veckans ord: lomhörd

I Storsjö finns om somrarna en flock lommar som flyter runt mitt i sjön om kvällen. För jag oväsen så flyttar de på sig lite oroligt – jag blir lomhörd.

2010-11-21

Unthinking privilege

At one point I had applied for a position as Reader at one of the local universities. During the interview I was asked how I proposed to handle diversity. I responded that I was a white male engineer (with blue eyes and speaking Stockholm Swedish), so I would certainly be at a disadvantage in that respect. While I may attempt to consider diversity issues, it is by necessity a conscious, intellectual effort, as I belong to the privileged part of humanity and seldom need to think about this.

Mark Chu-Carroll has written an insightful comment on how one, enlightened and liberal as one may be, through upbringing and a constant barrage of threat projections, has so many ingrained behaviours and reactions going counter to one’s stated standpoint.

The point is not that a person, claiming to be, say, a feminist, yet will behave in a sexist manner, is necessarily a hypocrite, but that behaving in a correct manner requires effort. During my first year studies in mathematics, I learned that one cannot simplifying an equation by dividing both halves by an unknown quantity, since that unknown might be 0, so one has to partition the solution into two cases, one for the case = 0, one for the case ≠ 0. I thought this was a huge onus to place on the equation solver. With practice, though, it became a habit and less of an effort to do this. Would that politically correct behaviour can also be internalised by conscious practice of one’s principles.

The price for the liberty of others is constant vigilance on one’s own actions…

2010-11-20

Hedonistic rich man

This morning the Posse converged on Grand Hôtel and its breakfast buffet. The suburbs had been covered in snow, but in the warmer city this was reduced to a wispy drizzle which didn’t enhance the view of the Royal Palace, already partially obscured by ongoing repairs of the quay outside. We concentrated on the food. I’m sure an observing -ologist could have made much of our respective different choices from the buffet.

The conversation as usual degenerated into a punfest and sometimes I looked around to see if we were disturbing the rest of the patrons with our laughing, but nobody seemed to be glaring in our direction.

Two hours later we decided to call it a morning and left, groaning a bit. The weather did not lend itself to strolling, but we did a quick look-through of the shop in Nationalmuseum and continued on to Sturegallerian, looking with shock at the tacky Christmas decorations all along Biblioteksgatan, but found the more plebeian Gallerian to be more to our liking. Just window shopping today, but eventually we’ll have to make the annual sacrifices to the Yule gods.

2010-11-19

Veckans ord: nödrim

”Nörd” är ett uppenbart nödrim.

2010-11-16

My knackered knee

Got the results back from my MRT pictures: a (collapsed) Baker cyst, nothing to do anything about, unless it begins to hurt worse.

2010-11-15

I have seen Jesus!

I mentioned Adelsö church yesterday, which in turn reminded me that I’ve actually been there: Way back when the lab had planning days on Adelsö at a youth hostel (which in itself is an interesting nuance difference, the Swedish term is literally “wanderer’s home”, the visitors are all kinds of tourists and not necessarily poor youth).

The steamboat jetty, from which we were going to return home, lies just next to the church and since I’m rather fond of churches I decided to have a look inside. I pulled open the heavy door, entered, and my brain stopped in its tracks. By the altar stood Jesus, clearly alive and well!

Eventually I also saw the vicar directing his actor in preparation for the Sunday’s Passion play and the world turned right again. I left them to it. As I exited another curious colleague was on his way in and I warned him:
“Jesus is there.”
He soon came out again:
“I didn’t think you meant it literally.”

2010-11-14

Lost in translation

Yesterday’s post on Finnish covers reminded me of a specific case of how things can change in translation. Sven Lindahl’s ”Mälarö kyrka” was soon translated into Finnish by Sauvo Puhtila and Lenne Broberg performed both Swedish and Finnish versions of it (with a heavy accent, but nowhere near as bad as that of Hootenanny Singers). In the Finnish version the setting of a church on an island in Mälaren (Adelsö church, to be precise) has been genericised to an “old vaulted church”, but there is a more subtle, not to say insidious, change as well. In both versions the song tells of a little boy, practising on the church organs, hoping to become an organ player in the church like his father, but in the Swedish version he plays both Bach and Beatles and both kinds of music are explicitly said to be equally beautiful. This was to some extent a controversial statement at the time (and still, over a decade later) and in the Finnish one it has been removed completely, only the Bach fugues and the continuity of heritage remains. Whether this is just an accident I cannot tell, but it sort of fits with Finnish society.

2010-11-13

Music in Finnish

When I was young, hit songs were normally translated in every European country and artists on international tours sang in the local language of each stop as a matter of course, but at least in Sweden (Anglo-Saxon) music is hardly ever translated these days.

Now I stumbled on a treasure trove: FINNPICKS, where “DM” methodically goes through Finnish covers of popular music with comments in English giving bios of the artists, the history of the original version (and quite often the original artist is not the one who made the song famous) and full-length recordings of both the original and the Finnish version (or sometimes versions, when there have been notably different renditions of either). I grew up to this music.

Many covers are fairly straight-forward translations, or at least retaining the spirit of the original, but some have completely unrelated lyrics, which always makes for an amusing shock.

2010-11-12

Veckans ord: minkolja

Under kriget ledde minsprängningar ofta till massdöd av fisk. Var det kustnära kunde befolkningen gå ut och bara håva in fisken. Oftast var det sillstim, men ibland kunde det bli en och annan minkolja.

2010-11-07

It works!

My Venus flytrap is in fact catching flies.

2010-11-06

A beautiful day

Finally a day without obligations and a crisp cold November day at that. I went out for a walk around the grounds.

2010-11-05

Word of the week: peskytarian

A person who announces at every opportunity that they don’t eat meat, but they eat fish: a peskytarian.

2010-11-02

Robbed!

I got a call from my bank. I had made a number of credit card purchases in the USA for large sums last night, which seemed suspicious. Were they in fact fraud? Indeed they were. OK, they had blocked most of the purchases and cancelled my card and I could then dispute the fraudulent transactions. *sigh* Thank you.

I wasn’t exactly surprised: a major hobby store has apparently had their entire customer database stolen. While still unclear how this theft had happened, the major discussion item on modeller forums all over Europe for the last week has been people’s hijacked credit cards. Apparently the number of card numbers was large enough for them to have taken a while to get down to my card.

On my lunch I went down to the local bank office and got the necessary forms, then went to the police office next door to make the requisite police report. The bank office was crowded, the police office was not. My details were carefully noted. The next day I called the police and filled in some additional information. Yet I was called the next day by a police officer who wanted some additional information. I gave him the same data I had already called about. I was a bit surprised that all the police I spoke to seemed so unfamiliar with credit card hijacking. How did you notice the theft? Well, the bank called me about suspicious transactions they’d noted. Really? That was very clever!

I for my part would also have thought the purchases quite suspicious: Whoever it was has among other things ordered 150 USD worth of Christian-themed apparel from C28.com. Well, they get free delivery with that.

2010-11-01

Charity

With deregulation all over, everybody has to attract clients with something special, often quite aggressively so. Thus, once when I was waiting for a friend on Södermalmstorg I was accosted by a very insistent woman selling electricity subscriptions for GodEl. Their main selling argument was that they donate from their profits to your chosen charity. One would think that they should invest in energy conservation measures, renewable energy sources, or whatever, but charity it was. So, she asked me, what would be my chosen charity? Vulcan to the Sky Trust, said I. She was a bit confused by that, but still professionally cheerful, she wondered what that was. It’s for the operation of a nuclear bomber. What! But that’s awful! So? You said I can choose any charity I want. Her commission on the stake she had to agree, but in the end I still declined to seal the deal, on account of what I pointed out was unsound selling practices, based on opt-out agreements.

Later, much later, I did change my electricity supplier, but using the spreadsheets at Elskling instead. They did not point out GodEl as the best offer I could get.

On the other hand, now I would have to donate to Vulcan to the Sky by myself.