Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thanks Tony, over to you Gordon

Today it isOver to you, Mr Brown”, as the title of the book I am reading (by Anthony Giddens) is also suggesting. I have been watching Sky News for an hour and for a political anglophile, these are interesting days. Blair was really in good form today as he participated in the Prime Minister’s questions for the very last time (watch it here), and Sky has been running clips and debates for most of the evening. And Guardian has loads of articles as well.

I have written a longer essay on Tony Blair’s legacy, and you can read it in Swedish here. I will try to translate it soon, and also write more about Giddens very interesting book (and thus the future challenges facing Gordon Brown).

And don’t miss that a high-profile Tory defected and joined Labour today. Harsh words about Cameron the chameleon, read his letter of explanation here.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

New Apple product: the iRack

What would happen if the Bush administration got all mixed up with Apple and Steve Jobs? Maybe a new product, the iRack!? Check it out here, hilarious. [Thanks for the link, Anso]

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Had a Tom Waits morning on YouTube and found some totally brilliant clips from a show once broadcasted on Italian Rai Due (!?). Downtown Train, and (Looking for) The Heart of a Saturday Night, and Jersey Girl in amazing versions. Enjoy, folks.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Congrats, Åsa!

A wonderful friend and fellow blogger Åsa Petersen recently had a release party for the new, updated and re-written edition of her book ”Bortom normen”. I had a great time at the party, attended by our fantastic party leader Mona Sahlin, and you can see pictures from it at Helle Klein’s blog. Åsa’s book taught me quite a few things when it was first released, and I look forward to reading the new edition, called ”Bortom normen 2.0”,

Åsa has also written an important article in the most recent issue of ”Tiden”, one of the magazines we produce at AiP Media. You can read the article on her blog.

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Speaking of ”fellow bloggers”, don’t miss that Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has started a blog. He is now 81 years old, so it is never to late... And he has already received a comment from Margot Wallström. That’s not bad for the European debate, and it is something to think about for the 27 leaders gathering in a closed room in Brussels today.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Worlds colliding again

I wrote about worlds colliding the other day, and then Hillary decided to mix politics and The Sopranos in a new video just the day after! Read more in Washington Post and The New York Times. Don’t miss the new video, featuring Hillary’s husband Bill and ”Johnny Sack” from The Sopranos.

But after meeting with Robert Kuttner (yes, the man who co-founded American Prospect) at Arenagruppen yesterday I am even more convinced that Al Gore should and will run. Gore was right on the major issues 15 years ago (globalization, sustainable development, open economy and strong welfare) and he has been re-born after quitting politics. And is Bloomberg entering the race? If so, remember that Ross Perot took more votes from Bill Clinton then we would like to remember.

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Thanks to a friend I have been listening to Regina Spektor all morning, website with music and even the game ”Spektris” here.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

When worlds collide

As readers of this blog know, I like a few things very much. Some of these things exist in parallel and seldom cross path, and when they do I get all fired up. An example for you: Remember when Bruce Springsteen wrote an op ed called ”Chords for Change” in The New York Times, explaining why he supported John Kerry and John Edwards?

Now it is time again. The last episode of The Sopranos has been aired in the US, and even some of the political newspapers I read most often write about it. One example is an article [Lexington] in The Economist, which concludes in the following way:
”American culture has always had a weakness for sex and violence. But since the 1960s it has gleefully eliminated conventional distinctions between good and bad, and since the 1990s it has been supercharged by the dramatic increase in the power of mass communications that are bringing America's cultural offerings to every corner of the world.

The success of “The Sopranos”, both commercially and critically, can only serve to reinforce this trend. The tensions created by the growing global reach of shows like “The Sopranos” may prove far more difficult to manage in the long run than the tensions created by the passing neoconservative moment.”
The New Republic has written about The Sopranos quite a few times over the years, but now concludes that it is time to say goodbye. An article, called ”Addio”, compares the language in The Sopranos with my other favorite show; The West Wing:
”Consider only the language. Or more precisely, compare David Chase's dialogue to Aaron Sorkin's dialogue. In Sorkin's shiny nonsense, people speak in repartee, and always find the words they need, and nothing insignificant, nothing tedious, is ever uttered. They talk as nattily as they look. Even their afflictions are oddly high-spirited, as coolness conquers all. There is not an unmordant or unmoralized second in anybody's day. Sorkin's phony people go from portentousness to hipness and back. They are the figments of a disastrously glamorous imagination, the polished puppets of a shallow man's notion of profundity.

In ”The Sopranos”, by contrast, there is no eloquence, even when there is beauty. Silences abound. These people speak the way people actually speak: they lie, and lie again; they hide; they repair gladly to banalities, and to borrowed words; they struggle for adequacy in communication; they say nothing at all.”
When will Season 6, part II of The Sopranos be aired in this forgotten country?

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Sarko drunk or sick?

Can someone explain this? Seems like he met Jeltsin... Was Sarko just ”sick”?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another short note on Belgium

Here is some additional information on the election in Belgium (I wrote an article about it for AiP):

In Wallonia, the Parti Socialiste did not become the biggest party for the first time in modern history, only collecting some 11 percent of the vote. A corruption scandal in Charleroi is one explanation, but from what I understand the PS is suffering from a bad image in general (symbolizing old power, a stagnating economy, etc).

After the scandal in Charleroi, the liberal party MR broke with PS, and MR became the biggest party in Wallonia, collecting some 12,5 percent of the vote.

In Flanders, the SP.a and their ally SPIRIT (a small, liberal party to the left of center) only got some 10 percent of the vote. That is five percentage points lower than in 2003 and Johan Vande Lanotte, party leader of the SP.a, has already resigned.

The big election winner was the Christian Democratic party in Flanders; CD&V. Their leader, Yves Leterme, will probably become new Prime Minister and the new government will probably not include PS or SP.a anymore (they were both part of the outgoing government).

The green parties in Wallonia and Flanders went from four to twelve mandates in total. The extreme party Vlaams Belang became the second biggest party in Flanders (unfortunately), but the Front National in Wallonia only got one mandate.

My own take on this? I guess serious post-election debates are needed in both PS and SP.a, and in parallel there will be a discussion on the political future of the nation called Belgium. Just as always.


Monday, June 11, 2007

The left took a hard blow in Belgium

I promised to
follow up with an election report from Belgium, and my dear friend Brian just sent me the following update. Here you go (it's sad news):

”The left took a hard blow, especially in Flanders – and that came as a shock, as polls pointed them around 20%.

In the French speaking community the loss is around 10% – but could have been much more difficult considering the context of affairs in Charleroi.

In spite of the spin the liberals are trying to give to the outcome, they lost as well. The real winners are the Christian‑democrats in the north, the greens and Christian-democrats in the south.

Only good point is: the extreme right parties go on with their downward spiral, compared to the regional elections of 2004 and the local elections of last year.

Surprising enough, though, is the rise of the populist ”Lijst de decker”.

It is very likely that both socialist parties will be in the opposition, and in MJS’s view, there is nothing to be gained in joining a government in the current situation.

As the CD&V is really willing to reach a two‑third strong coalition to change the constitution, the negociations will probably be long and painful.”

And here are the numbers:

CD&V : 30 (+8)
MR : 23 (‑2)
PS : 20 (‑5)
VLD : 18 (‑7)Vlaams Belang: 17 (‑1)
SPa: 14 (‑9)
CDH: 10 (+2)
ecolo: 8 (+4)
Lijst de decker: 5 (+5)
Groen: 4 (+4)
FN: 1 (=)

CD&V: 9 (+3)
MR : 6 (+1)
Vlaams Belang : 5 (=)
VLD : 5 (‑2)
PS : 4 (‑2)
SPa: 4 (‑3)
CDH: 2 (=)
Ecolo: 2 (+1)
FN : 1 (=)
Groen: 1 (+1)
Liist de decker: 1 (+1)


Friday, June 08, 2007

It’s not only about Hillary and Giuliani

In the US Presidential race, there are a lot a candidates mainstream media seldom writes about. As a change, watch this interview with Republican candidate Ron Paul on John Stewart’s Daily Show. And don’t miss Stewart’s debate advise to Ron Paul (right at the end).

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I got some questions about the election in Belgium, and yes I am trying to follow it (mainly through Le Soir). But honsestly, it is not easy to follow politics in Belgium, so I hope my friend Brian will continue to help me. From what I understand, the PS is doing OK in Wallonia/Brussels (first in the polls!?), while the SP.A is between second and fourth in the Flemish part (??).

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

”Live in Dublin” is here

So, a new Bruce-record has arrived (”Live in Dublin. Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band”). I have not had time to buy it yet, but you can order and watch two videos here. I really like the version of ”Growin’ up”.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Just a short one…

…on the Danish bloke who ran onto the pitch and tried to hit the referee (YouTube here). Two thoughts:

1. Sure, it would have been great if Ljungberg scored on the penalty, giving Sweden the victory 4-3. But who knows what could have happened in that stadium then? So, the referee made the right decision.

2. Since I am a Liverpool fan, high fences immediately bring back very tragic memories. But maybe there are some kind of somewhat higher fences, that would be at least a little more difficult to just jump over for a rather heavy (i.e. fat) bloke who just had 20 beers?


Monday, June 04, 2007

Pimm’s No 1 (Swedish lemonade)

Had a great weekend, hanging out with some of my ”civilian” friends (i.e. people I did not meet in the social democratic movement). We started Friday evening with a bhoys dinner and my job was to provide a nice drink before the first dish.

Since the weather is picking up, I wanted to serve one of my favorite drinks, Pimm’s No 1. But I ran into one problem; according to the original British recipe, one should mix the bottle of Pimm’s with three parts chilled ”lemonade”. But what do you buy in a Swedish supermarket when you are looking for ”lemonade”?

I ended up buying both Ginger Ale and Sprite, so I made two carafes, just to compare the two. And most of us thought that the carafe with Ginger Ale was much better. So when Swedish people google ”Pimm’s”, I hope this could be of some help. And don’t forget that it is totally OK to sharpen it all it up with some extra gin.