Thursday, December 15, 2005

Harold Pinter's Nobel Lecture

I so much admire people who defy death through their courage and energy. One such person is certainly Harold Pinter, too ill to travel to Sweden to receive the Nobel prize for literature, but not too ill to speak eloquently on issues of direct concern to us all.

In case you have missed the lecture, here is the link to the text:

The part I like best is when he volunteers to be a speech-writer for Bush. What an irony and what a delivery (he used to be an actor as well, and it shows!).

"I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.
'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


One cannot live in Sweden without being drawn into serious discussions about feminist issues. As a dilligent student that I am, I started to document myself about these theories and found them relevant not only for women but for all the marginalized groups (and yes, I do agree with the post-modernist assumption that everything expresses a power relationship).

Listen to this: "if a group is kept out of something for long enough, it is overwhelmingly likely that activities of that sort will develop in a way unsuited to the excluded group." (Janet Radcliffe-Richards). Nothing can be truer than this, I think, and it does not refer only to the incompatibility between the current design of the work market with child-rearing; it is a great strategy to make the marginal group not only excluded, but un-necessary in the kind of positions that the dominant group reserved for itself.

And even a more radical position, I am not sure that I completely agree with it but it must be largely true: "virtually every quality that distinguishes men from women is affirmatively compensated in this society. Men's physiology defines most sports, their needs define auto and health insurance coverage, their socially-designed biographies define work place expectations and successful career patterns, their perspectives and concerns define quality in scholarship, their experiences and obsessions define merit, their objectification of life defines art, their military service defines citizenship, their presence defines family, their inability to get along with each other - their wars and rulerships - define history, their image defines god, and their genitals define sex." (Catherine MacKinnon).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Books: Cat's Eye

I am not sure how I feel about this bit from Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye: "Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened" (p. 240)

Would this mean that you are compelled, by understanding one's behavior, to be less critical about it, to accept it even if y0u don't agree with it? I thought that knowing something more about other people actually evens out the balance of power between you and them...

I also like this phrase: "The body is pure energy, solidified light".

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thank you for the music!

It is well worth turning older if this implies getting such wonderful gifts! I had the loveliest time listening to all the great songs my dear friends sent me - it made the whole day much nicer!!!

I stayed with a friend in Stockholm (which is a very interesting city, by the way, I discovered I really liked its atmosphere even in November, arguably the worst month in the Swedish calendar) and he, with Martin's help, put together a friendly little party, with good food, good drinks and my soundtrack as the musical entertainment. I even got a surprise cake, which made everything festive without being excessive. We stayed up late and chatted and enjoyed our time together - I fell asleep on the last song on the playlist (Clair de Lune, merci Magali) and woke up older but not much wiser the next day, ready for my visa interview at the US embassy.

All went well, so I am preparing to come for a brief visit to the East Coast sometime early next year (not sure yet of the dates). Am greatly looking forward to catch up with those still in Washington or New York (sorry, don't think I can make it to Boston as finances are thin). Till then there is the whole of Christmas holidays to go through - but more on that later.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Walt Whitman and Bob Dylan

It hasn't occured to me before that there should be a common tradition that links Walt Whitmand and Bob Dylan, but I just recently re-read a collection of verses by the first author, only to be reminded of the revolutionary ethos of young Dylan.

Read this fragment from Walt Whitman:
"Beat! beat! drums! -- blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities -- over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers bargains by day -- no brokers or speculators -- would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums -- you bugles wilder blow."

Doesn't it remind you of "The Times They Are A-Changin'"?

"Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Politics: Riots in the French Suburbs

After a week of serious rioting, street fights and more moderate confrontations, it has become clear to me that the people living in the suburbs have had enough of what they perceive as french exclusion. I find it unsurprising, especially after having seen the movie "La Haine" directed by Matthieu Kassowitz - even though it was done in 1995, it managed to capture both the inherent violence in the everyday life at the banlieue and the hope against hope for a normalized relationship with the rest of the French population.
As one of the interviewees in a BBC News story said, "I do not know a single youth in my estate who does not want to leave," to integrate, to not be primarily Arab, or Muslim, or Maghrebin, but just French. It is usually the rejection, the prejudice, that lead young French of foreign origins to revolt against the state institutions, especially the police (not exactly the friendly type). This is why the reaction of Mr Sarkozy to send more troops and reinforce the strong stance of the government is likely, in the long run, to leave the center of the matter untouched and only to provide temporary relief.
The long-term perspectiev would require the French society to become literally more open, more mixed, and to give up the idea of one monolithic people in favor of cultural diversity. (The same BBC article said that the French government refuses to make statistics which distinguish along ethnic and religion lines, closing its eyes in front of reality).

Monday, October 24, 2005

Book Notes: Da Vinci's Code

After a long hesitation, I decided to take advantage of the public library collection and get my hands on this world-wide bestseller. After having read it, I find no surprise in the fact that it managed to stay on top of list for the most purchased books - it has a nice, lively writing style (even though very much along the expected path suggested by the suspense and mystery literature), and a plausible story. A bit on the obvious side perhaps, but it is hard to pretend you don't know what the book is about after a year of exposure to non-stop comments about its plot.

I guess what made it most attractive was 1. The combination of fact and fiction and the credibility of the story and 2. Touching a soft spot in today's consciousness, namely the questioning of mainstream religion from the point of view of feminism and other currents of critical thought. Of course, this second point is all in the interpretation and not present in the actual text, but I guess that is what made it worth to comment endlessly on. Perhaps it is more appealing to the imaginary of the contemporary person to see Jesus as a man, a visionary perhaps but a regular, un-divine, really just-like-you-and-me kind of guy. The desacralization of everything. And the need for a good story to mobilize the imagination - we are, after all, hungry for belief, as the success of this book, which tries to demolate the biblical narrative and to perhaps replace it with something more suitable for today's world, demonstrates.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Norwegian Workshop

During last week I have been at a doctoral student workshop in Trondheim, Norway. Must say I really liked travelling there, as it combined the familiar (the architecture, the people, even the lifestyle) with the very original (the fjord and the surrounding mountains).
The workshop itself was very useful, and I am glad i received useful feedback on my paper (yes, someone HAD to read it). I was also glad because I realized I can read and understand Norwegian, an extremely useful thing as I was supposed to make comments on the papers of our Norwegian counterparts who wrote some of their contributions in their native tongue... So I guess my Swedish finally reached that advanced stage where I can make inferences and really understand words, even if they are pronounced somewhat differently. Yupii!
Back in Lund, it felt like the deep South - how everything is relative! From a Trodheimian point of view Skåne is just as warm and sunny as Southern France! But truth is that we have a most wonderful sunny autumn, so it does feel at leat "not so north".

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Lund Culture Night

Last weekend Lund was suffused with great artisitic energy as the Culture Night (they should call it Culture Day instead, as events unroll from 10 am) took over the city. Martin, I and our friend (and current roommate) Monika went first to the movies (a very artsy thing, "India Song", after a novel by Marguerite Duras - cannot say I loved it) then had practically to run between events. We saw a magic show, lots of live gigs (from calm jazz to soul to African rythms on 10 marimbas!), and dance demonstrations. I really enjoyed the Zimba Marimba Band, it gave the whole auditorium a great energy. The members of the group were very young but traveled to Africa (Zimbabwe, Botswana) and clearly got rythm. It was funny though to see and hear this super blond guys and girls and imagine them on the Black Continent :)
Another thing that stuck to mind was an exhibition about female underwear from the 18th century to today - how scary those corsets were!!!! Torture instruments, no less! Fortunately there were also few contemporary interpretations of the corset theme, and they managed to look both comfortable and very feminine (unfortunately I have no pictures as we still have no camera...)

Monday, September 12, 2005

New Pictures: Historical Sites, Romania

As I was mentioning previously that we visiting sites of historic importance, including THE Dracula Castle (a complete fabrication, btw, I think Vlad Tepes spent one night in this place at most), here are some pics from that part of our Romanian excursion.

The Bran castle (aka Dracula's Castle)

Interior courtyard with fountain, Bran Castle

Risnov Fortress, the Eastern Tower

Risnov Fortress, Small streets

View of the Piatra Craiului Mountains from the top of Risnov Fortress

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

One of the old closes or very narrow streets - heritage of the medieval style of urban (non) planning
One of the beautiful houses of Brasov that I was talking about.

Brasov - nice building

Sweet Sweden, again

Oy, it has been a long time since I posted something here... But I had good reasons, mainly the lack of good internet connections while I was in Romania. Now that I returned to Lund, I hope to keep up with the weblog.
As I was mentioning previously, Martin and I engaged in what is known as social tourism, by fixing our health problems in Romania where it is much much cheaper than in Sweden (or elsewhere, I would guess). And despite their devilish reputation, Romanian doctors are quite good at their job (especially the ones we consulted). Therefore Martin got rid of his glasses/ contact lenses via a laser eye surgery and I have perfect teeth again! Yupii!
We also had some time for traveling around the country. Have been twice to the seaside, in a small place (I don't want to call it resort as it is very rustic and wants to remain that way) on the border between Romania and Bulgaria. Good weather, good company, good atmosphere - nothing wrong with dancing on the beach until 3 am !!!
I also went back to my favorite town in Romania, a town I used to visit very very often but have not seen in 5 years -Brasov, the gateway bewteen Walachia and Transylvania, an old medieval fortress developed into a commercial center, with loads of gorgeous houses and a lovely atmosphere. I was also extremely glad to meet some of my old friends who still live there or came to visit for the summer: it felt so good to catch up!
Around Brasov there are several castles and fortresses that we also visited, including the famous Dracula Castle - so Martin can say he's been in Dracula Country :) He also took a small excursion hiking in the Carpathian mountains together with a Swedish friend who joined us for a week. It was a nice "Discover Romania" tour for him (or at least I hope it was).
Now we are back in Lund, in a new apartment (huuuuge, now is the perfect time to pay a visit, we have so much extra space) which we tried to furnish the best we could but still has an echo... The weather here is perfect, sweet and sunny, a truly lovely time.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


A few words from Romania. We are still in Bucharest, struggling to put our health back on track (Martin with his eyes, me with a tooth – I will have my first artificial tooth and I am not even 30, such quick decay!). If things come out alright, we plan nevertheless to travel around a bit, see the countryside, the mountains and even the seaside.
The weather has been very fickle here, with lots of storms and floods. In some parts of the country whole villages have been destroyed by the waters. Now it seems that summer came back to stay, but you never know… Hopefully it will stay sunny and warm!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Leaving Lund for the summer

In a couple of days we will be leaving Lund - via the sea!! The first test of our FLAMMAN in a four-day sail north, towards Martin's home place. We'll be hanging out in the West coast archipelago for at least a couple of weeks, and then we'll celebrate Martin's 30th (!) birthday with lots of singing and cake and cheerfulness.
Immediately aftewards we'll head off to the Stockholm area to attend a wedding and from there a cheap airliner will take us to Budapest (where maybe we'll be staying a couple of days if friends are around) and to Romania (where we also hope to meet friends along the way).
If everything goes OK, we'll be back in Lund at the end of August, just when the apartment hunt fever is at its hottest.
In the meantime we'll have (intermittent) access to email.

Hope everyone has a great summer!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Politics: No to the EU?

I am disappointed in the results of the French and Dutch vote on the EU constitution. It feels on one hand that the right-wing was able to stir fears of national identity dilution within the population (nationalism is not dead, not even in the West!) and on the other hand the left mobilized economic fears, the coming of the Polish plumber as the Antichrist (where is the workers' solidarity so much praised by socialists and communists?). In many ways, voters had no clue what the constitution stood for, they just went and opposed their respective national governments - which again says a lot about importance of the nation for the everyday life of the people (they cannot imagine themselves outside this framework).

I do not think EU is perfect, but I like to believe in the possibility of greater solidarity and in the death of parochialism. Some scholars are optimistic about the future generation of Erasmus Europeans (those who have been exposed to traveling, studying, and living outside their home country), and I hope that indeed the youngsters of today will become the European of tomorrow. But one side of me remains skeptical and sees local loyalties too strong to be defeated even by the experience of no-borders Europe.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Sweden and Me

Yesterday it just dawned on me that I will never ever adapt or integrate or belong (call it what you want) in the Swedish society. It is simply so very different not just from my culture (because this can change over time) but also from my personality, from the way I am... I will never fit in, never understand or more importantly never like "their" ways. A cold polite arrogance - that is what I get as the main feature of Swedish social behavior (except when alcohol is involved). A distant political correctness that covers up feelings of superiority and a super-exclusivist attitude. Blah!

I wonder if there is a place on this Earth where I can imagine myself as "fitting". Certainly not Romania, where I feel almost as much an outsider as here... The US... Maybe, not as a whole, but in its special parallel universes. That is what I liked about the US, the fact that you could create your own special society, your "bubble", and that you could live all your life surrounded by people and things that you more or less chose. The US is big enough for everybody - a platitude, yes, but nevertheless an accurate description. But then you don't actually live in the reality, you have some form of extended "ivory tower" - and perhaps this is lacking authenticity.

Or maybe there is some other spot on this planet that I have not yet visited and that would immediately feel like home. In fact, I believe that for the most part home is in one's head (except for situations of extremely adverse social conditions).

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Boat Owners

Martin's lifelong dream of owning a boat finally came true yesterday, when "Flamman" ("The Flame") became ours. It needs a lot of repairs, it is small and we don't know how to attach the mast to it (as of now), but it is ours and we love it. You are now presented with additional incentives to come and visit us on the West Coast of Sweden, famous for its archipelago! Let us hope for good weather!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Books: Latest Readings

I have meant to write down something about my readings for quite a while, but everytime I remembered to do it, I realized that I have not brought the book with me and I could not include some of my favorite quotations. Now this problem is solved, as I have packed away ALL my books, so bringing them anywhere is out of the question.
So, I decided to write down a couple of impressions about the books, with the quotations postponed until better, more stable times.

Eric Orsenna - "Madame Ba". Indeed, a great piece of writing, and, to my shame, one of the very few about Africa on my list. Conceived as a request for a French visa (and following the form's itemized questions), the book is the biography of a strong Malinese woman who has an astounding energy and an acute sense of observation. Her life, from the childhood spent near a mystical mother and a rationalist father, to the old age (she is a grandmother, although she does not feel drained of power), is depicted as to explore both the personal and the general; both the individual and the political and cultural background. A very critical but also loving portrait of a person and of a country.

J. M. Coetzee - "Youth". Although I really like the surgical quality of Coetzee's writing, I felt that "Youth", describing the life of a young computer engineer and poet wanna-be, is simply too dry. It is a novel where nothing happens, where the main character does not evolve, except perhaps to get deeper and deeper into misery, a key word in the text. Trying to escape his family and the feeling of marginality, a young South African emmigrates to London at the beginning of the '60s, but fails to become a poet (his secret ambition) and, despite his feeble attempts at romantic love, ends up disabused and lonely, a small cog in a big machinery he cannot control. Very well done, I thought, the feeling of displacement and isolation of the colonial exile as well as the atmosphere of the work environment in a 1962 IBM programming office.

Khaled Hosseini - "The Kite Runner". Supposedly the first Afghani novel accessible in English, "The Kite Runner" has very high but also very low points. On the positive side, the portait of Kabul before the Russian invasion, as well as during the Taliban regime, feels very real and moving. One can smell the food, see the houses, hear the conversations, get excited about the children's games, feel the fear of locals in face of the acts of random violence. The main characters are also made of flesh and bones, and are far from being perfect incarnations of generalized human types.
However, the plot itself, about a young Afghani who recalls his childhood and his betrayal of his best friend from an exile position in the US, has many artificial twists and turns and seems forced in its quest for a moral ending. Although the adventures grab you and keep you interested, some of the symbolism is simply over the top. Making exception of these moralizing attempts, the book is very readable and opens up a universe as of yet less explored.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Politics: Uzbekistan killings

Under the pretext of anti-extremism from Islamic groups, it seems that many a government takes action against its opponents. Most recently, the leaders of the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, turned democrats but only in name, decided to accuse 23 business people of unlawful activities related to pro-Islamic movements and, when protests ensued, to brutally execute the people taking part in the manifestation. The reaction of the authorities is hugely disproportionate in comparison to the size and importance of the protest, the brutality of the police looks almost maladive; according to the BBC, "troops were still shooting injured people dead three and a half hours after the gunfire began". More than 600 victims have been counted so far, and the number is increasing as the government slowly releases more and more bodies.
I wonder if the leaders in Tashkent really thought that they can get away with it, without anybody paying attention... Or if they calculated that these days everything can be explained away or blamed on some form of Islamic terrorists... Hopefully Islam (!) Karimov will be proven wrong and his uncontested dictatorial reign will come to an end.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

I must say I am quite disappointed by the new Holocaust Memorial inaugurated recently in Berlin. First, it is a bit sad that the only victims commemorated are the "murdered Jews" - there are so many left out, the political adversaries of the Nazis, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, so it feels incomplete and exclusivist.
Second, from an artistic point of view it is a disaster... I don't know what is the logic of memorial buildings, but I think an esthetic element should be at least partially considered (and they surely left that out for this monument!). I know that one is not supposed to feel elated at the sight of a monument erected in the memory of a barbarian event, but nevertheless one should not feel apalled by it - otherwise people would not want to look at it closely, they would be pushed away, rejected... Or maybe this is the point, that visitors should be disgusted by it?
Finally, the memorial is so ugly that it really spoils the central Berlin landscape. Could not have they made it something better? Something that would address the sad memories without being an eyesore?

Monday, May 09, 2005

And the very modern waterfront apartments, Helsingborg Posted by Hello

The remains of the fortress of Helsingborg Posted by Hello

And the most famous historical objective of the place, Lunds Domkyrkan Posted by Hello

Typical view of Lund Posted by Hello

Small garden with reflecting ball, Lund Posted by Hello

Me, cold in Helsingborg Posted by Hello

Tiziana and Martin, in the courtyard of Kulturen Museum, Lund Posted by Hello

Tiziana in Helsingborg Posted by Hello

Small street, Lund Posted by Hello

Sunny day with a nice old house, Lund Posted by Hello

Magnolia in bloom, sign of spring in front of the main university building Posted by Hello

The master of ceremonies wearing that Swedish student hat I mentioned in a previous post. Posted by Hello

Jongleur in Stadtsparken Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Belated Happy Orthodox Easter!

I have been absent from the blog for sooooo long that did not even write Happy Easter to everybody!! Christos a Inviat!!!

The Valborgsafton

I survived quite well the crazy day of the Valborgsafton (here in Sweden everything is celebrated in the eve of the event, therefore the "afton" which means literally "eve"). During the day, the city park was invaded by young people celebrating the first day of picnic by drinking non-stop lots and lots of alcohol...
In the afternoon, in front of one important university building, the Lund Student Choir sang melodies in the honor of spring. One specific sign that the warm season arrived finally is the blooming magnolia tree - so very pretty! At the end of the miniconcert, the current and former students were allowed to wear again the student cap, looking quite different from the American one... My words fail me in trying to describe this, so I will try to attach some pics.
And in the evening each and every one in town gathered together with friends (typically around barbecues) and had a party of their own.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Lovely Lund

I have been the laziest poster in these past few weeks (!), but the beautiful weather and the fact that I have wonderful friends over prevented me from adding any new ideas to this journal. I feel just so happy that the weather finally turned to warm and sunny (most of the time, this is Sweden after all)! I am weather-dependent, when the sun is up I feel supergreat, when the clouds are on I feel like I should hide indoors until the grey is gone. It felt so good to be in Asia last year, I did not have the smallest worry about the weather report: always warm, always bright!
I have been taking some pics of the city with Tiziana's camera (as we still have no device to take pictures with) and maybe one of these days I will have the chance to post some of them here, to give a taste of how the place I live in really looks like. Overall it feels great to just go to the main square and buy an icecream from GlassKulturen and just sit and watch people :)
On Saturday there will be the largest celebration of the spring, the Valborg - something along the German Walpurgis night as I understand it. Will report from the champagne and bonfire in the park front once it is over!

Monday, April 11, 2005


This past Friday I went to a student play (to satisfy my thirst for theater mentioned previously). It was a vaudeville entirely written, directed and performed by students, very funny and entertaining as it involved lots of songs (and my Swedish is getting better and better by the day, so I can laugh at the right moments together with the rest of the crowd). I was surprised to find out that the "spex" as they are called are indeed a traditional feature of the Lundian student life since the 1700s or so. In those days and now, the plays made fun of university life, of politics and doubtlessly of professors...

In Lund everything seems to have a tradition, it must be one of the most conservative towns in the entire Scandinavia. The spex, the balls, the nations (student unions), the presence of one of the oldest and most sacred cathedrals, all point out to the preservation of the good old ways. It surprised me as I am most used to the revolutionary, irreverent student than to this keeper of memory. But in today's perpetually changing world, perhaps what is truly revolutionary is not to change at all...

Thursday, April 07, 2005


This is for Janelle, although she’s probably the last one to read it…

“Emotions really exist at the bottom of the personality or at the top. In the middle they are acted. This is why all the world is a stage, and why theater is always popular and indeed why it exists: why it is like life, and it is like life even though it is also the most vulgar and outrageously factitious of all the arts. […] the theater, even at its most ‘realistic’, is connected to the level at which, and the methods by which, we tell our everyday lies. […] in a purely formal sense the theater is the nearest to poetry of all the arts. […] The theater is an attack on mankind carried on by magic: to victimize the audience every night, to make them laugh and cry and suffer and miss their trains. Of course actors regard audiences as enemies, to be deceived, drugged, incarcerated, stupefied. This is partly because the audience is also a court against which there is no appeal. Art’s relation with its client is here at its closest and most immediate. […] But the theater must, if need, stoop – and stoop – until it attains that direct, that universal communication which other artists can afford to seek more deviously and at their ease. Hence the assault, the noise, the characteristic impatience.
[…] The theater is a place for obsession. It is not a soft dreamland. Unemployment, poverty, disappointment, racking indecision (take this now and miss that later) grind reality into one’s face; and, as in family life, one soon learns the narrow limitations of the human soul.”
Iris Murdoch, “The Sea, the Sea”, Penguin Books, 1978 – pp. 33-34

Reading this I realize how much I miss going to the theater… Ever since I left Romania theater became a luxury almost always out of reach. Especially good theater. If music and dance were readily available in Boston and in Maryland (thank God for that!), theater was never around, at least not good plays at student prices. And now in Sweden people express themselves on stage in a language I do not yet feel, so…

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Politics: The Feminist Initiative

Two days ago, the usually tepid Swedish politics registered a surge in temperature with the official appearance of the Feminist Initiative. Lead by a former Left Party member, Gudrun Schyman, the Initiative is an organization meant to further and protect the rights of women in the Swedish life. If they score well on opinion polls, it is very likely that the FI will seriously consider participating as a political party in the general elections scheduled for 2006.
What is interesting to me is first that it is here, in Sweden, where most would agree that feminists have made most progress in their campaign for equal rights between men and women, that this organization should appear. And then secondly, I am really curious how this FI will fit politically.
Many of my feminist friends are critical against Gudrun and foresee not a strengthening of the feminist movement in Sweden but on the contrary a decrease in the overall popularity of the left, traditionally the political zone where the feminist interests were promoted. By possibly candidating in the 2006 elections, the FI risks to split the left wing vote and to allow a right wing government to take over.
Personally, I see the Feminist Initiative as a protest sign against traditional Swedish politics (which one can safely say is rather boring), and as a chance to revitalize the public debate around many social issues. For example, a "man tax" was proposed, to be paid by all male Swedes, as a mode of prevention (?) or compensation for domestic abuse suffered by women. Of course this is a very provocative thought, and full of flaws, but I thought it was cool to get some wake-up call!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ethical Living

For the longest time I have been wondering about how to live a better life, or be a better person. I have asked myself if my actions cause more damage to the "world" than pleasure to me or my loved ones. And I have tried to change my faulty ways if I caught myself in the wrong (again, being your own moral police tends to be a heavy burden even though it does give you a sense of freedom).
Of course, this does not mean (by far!) that I am not doing harmful things anymore, from being mean to people (hmmmm, sorry y'all), to not donating money to worthy causes. I am constantly wondering though where to draw the line, when it is moral enough, how far should I push it... If I eat eggs, do I still support the industry that keeps the poor chicken in crowded cages? How responsible am I if the bank where I keep my meager account uses my money in oil investments?
At least I am not the only one asking herself about these issues. I have been following Leo Hickman's feuilleton in the Guardian for some time now and I see how on the whole there are thousands of little simple ways in which our lives can be more ethical. I think he's a pretty down to earth ordinary individual who makes an effort to be more environment friendly without an "extreme makeover". Here it is where you can check out his series of articles on Ethical Living:

Monday, April 04, 2005

Film/Music: Festival Express

The Filmstudio here in Lund presents a series of music on film - this is how I got to see "The Last Waltz" and also this Sunday's feature, "Festival Express". In the same vein as Woodstock (which took place in August 1968), the Festival Express of 1970 gathered a bunch of famous artists and loaded them on a private train moving across Canada and stopping every once in a while to play concerts. The film shows both live performances from these concerts and scenes from the bar wagon where the guests were constantly jamming under the influence of ... let's say everything.
I loved to see Janis giving it all on stage, to listen again to The Band playing The Last Waltz and especially to see The Grateful Dead live - they were so good!!!!!!!!!!

Food/ Film: Supersize Me

I finally got to see the famous documentary "Supersize Me", about the so-called McDonalds regime... Not that I was surprised by the effects of daily consumption of fast and fat food, but I must say that the actual amount of sugar and fat that gather in your system after a McMeal really scared me! And even worse was this so called "addiction" to the daily burger and fries that seems to accompany the heavy eater. You get a headache, a bad mood and even physical discomfort if your portion of McDonalds (or I assume any fast food) is missing from your routine... Scary, scary,scary...

On the other hand, I am still not convinced that it is the fault of the company that people get fat. Personal choice and responsibility weights much heavier than commercial appeal. After all, if no one would buy bad fast food, no one would be there to sell it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Happy Easter!!!!

Happy Easter to all of you who celebrated it over the past weekend!!! Here in Sweden we were lucky to have super sunny weather but very cold - my friends who came from Switzerland and Ireland froze to their bones... Sweden lives up to its reputation of Kingdom of the North :)

Despite the cold winds, we walked around Lund, a completely deserted town during holidays, then went to Malmo where the weather was sunny but so crisp that we ended up spending more time in restaurants and cafes than actually walking. In yet another trip we went to Copenhagen, one of the loveliest of European cities - it was so very nice!!!! Spring was showing its face so we could have a drink on the side of the Nyhavn, one of the central canals in the city. We even ate icecream! Lots of it,in fact!! A very nice holiday now just before I will start teaching.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Elephants and other animals

The other day I received a beautiful postcard depicting an elephant as seen by our ancestors in the middle ages: a hairy animal, big and long-trunked, with bear-like feet - not a very close resemblance to the real thing but quite imposing. It had a gentle way about it, a kindness, even in the eyes of the artist of yesteryear, who must have seen it with more scared feelings than us.
I guess this is what I like so much about elephants - their strong but calm and tender outlook. They are gentle giants, with a temper but also with some form of wisdom (I know, I am attributing human qualities to an animal, not a fair practice).
In the same line of judgement, I cannot say I like monkeys, like another friend of mine does. I find them a caricature of humanness, an incomplete form of ourselves - I cannot get away from our too close resemblance...
If I were an animal, I guess I would be an elephant. Maybe to compensate for my small stature in this life :)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Film/Music: The Last Waltz

Yesterday evening I saw the music documentary about the last concert of The Band, a rather famous classic rock group of the late 1960s and early 70s. The film, entitled "The Last Waltz" was directed by Martin Scorsese and included besides large chunks of the concert itself some interviews with The Band's members. The most interesting part is that no one was the leader of the group; everyone, including the drummer, would be singing and even be the lead vocal - a true commune spirit :)

The music was pretty good, heavily influenced by country, bluegrass and blues - it got you going! The list of guests counted names like Joni Mitchell (I don't know why I never got to like her, really), Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison (who looked like a piglet), Bob Dylan (in his very Christian phase), Dr. John (a guy dressed like a clown but who sure knew how to play the piano), Emmylou Harris (I barely recognized her), and Neil Young (looking kinda stoned, if you ask me).

Overall, I enjoyed very much the music but would have preferred to get more talking out of The Band members.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Something new every day

Well, here I come and join the world of bloggers... After having read all those reports from Iraq under occupation and so on, my contribution to the global debate certainly looks minimal. If I don't get to live in such exciting places as Baghdad, Beirut, or Belgrade! But hey, I was born in Bucharest and lived in Boston for a while, those are pretty cool "B" places, no?
Anyway, I'll just give it it a try, see if I can keep it up.

Daily Political: Georgian Women

On Swedish TV there has been a short reportage about a bus of travelling Georgian women who where apparently intent not so much on sightseeing but on trying to escape the harsh postSoviet realities. Apparently, a travel company organized bus trips from Georgia to both North and South Europe and most of the travelers (in their majority women of a certain age) were let's say lost along the way. What a reputation these women have to face! Finnish police on the alert intercepted the trouble bus and now are holding the poor Georgians for interrogation. Maybe indeed they wanted to get away but still - women from this part of the world are always under suspicion of being more than what they show... Those Eastern Europeans...
And to add to this, also in Swedish news, I find out that two brothels were discovered in Skåne (Southern Swedish province) and both of them were managed by and offered the services of ... guess what? Romanians!!! Only the best...