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When I talked to my extended family on Thanksgiving, several of them joked, “Obama won, it’s safe to come back to the US, Megan”. And then I read this. An employee was killed and several others injured in a stampede of people wating to get into Wal-Mart at 5:00 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This, for those of you not in the US, is the biggest shopping day of the year in America, and the reason why Adbusters chose it as Buy Nothing Day.

In some places, starving people stampede to get food. In my homeland, people stampede to buy cheap plastic environmentally-destructive shit they don’t need. And that’s one of many reasons I’m not eager to move back to the US, regardless of who’s in the White House.

Update: a nice analysis from The International Herald Tribune

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I’ve got nothing much to report, so watch this instead. You won’t regret it.

Tell me, is this normal in Swedish workplace culture?

Someone at Workplace A contacts a professor of mine asking if he could recommend anyone to take on a part-time position in somewhat of an urgent situation. He recommends me. I send an e-mail and CV to the person. The person writes back saying thanks and she will pass on my info to her boss. I don’t hear anything more. Not a big deal really, I’ve actually got plenty going on at the moment.

Weeks later I am at a former workplace of mine, discussing the possibility of filling in for someone for a few weeks. The person I’ll be filling in for says to me “I heard you applied for a job at Workplace A”. It turns out that the wife of someone at Workplace B works at Workplace A.

Why does everyone know that I applied for that job? I find this very weird and kind of unethical. For me, it is mildly embarassing that everyone knows that I applied for a job that I didn’t get, particularly since I wasn’t even really looking for that job in the first place, I applied because I was asked to. Worse, though, I can imagine situations where this kind of gossip could be really destructive. What if a person is looking for a new job but his/her employer doesn’t know and the employee intends to stay at the current job if they don’t get a new one? Are Swedes so advanced that a boss would never develop a negative attitude toward an employee after finding out that that employee wanted to leave?

So Swedes and experienced residents of Sweden, is this kind of thing normal here or have some kind of workplace ethics or laws been breached?

The comments on this post got mixed up with the ones above (about Swedish workplace culture) so I’m taking out the text and pictures from this post and leaving it as a discussion thread.

I kept waking up in the middle of the night, remembering that Obama won the election, and feeling great. But there is one little thing nagging me. In McCain’s concession speech and in a lot of the post-election commentary, there was a lot of talk implying that racism is over, and that no one has anything to complain about anymore. I think this election was a HUGE step in the right direction, but I don’t believe that this election has eliminated systemic discrimination, racial profiling, or any number of other racial tensions, and the race-baiting by many McCain supporters demonstrated that racism is alive and well.

It’s often said that people who aren’t white males have to be twice as smart and work twice as hard to achieve the same things that white males do. If there’s anyone who exemplifies that, it’s Obama. I am thrilled to have a smart, hardworking president-elect. If he runs his presidency with the same attitude and self-discipline as his campaign, things are gonna be OK. In the middle of the night the cynical thought occured to me that we won’t be a post-racial society until it’s possible to elect a nonwhite person who is as stupid and pathological as George W. Bush, let him/her tear the country apart for four years and then re-elect him/her. Of course, when we’ve reached that point, hopefully there will be better ways of proving it.

I spent Election Night celebrating with three other incredible American women who live here in Falun. We had a sleepover party and it was lots of fun. Part of me wishes I could have been part of a big crowd in the US at the moment Obama’s victory was announced, though, so below is a collage of You Tube videos so I can feel the excitement vicariously:

Times Square:

East Village, Manhattan (love the girls squealing “Oh my god!” and “Holy fucking shit!”)

Grant Park, Chicago (view from the crowd rather than the network feed)

Richmond, VA

DC, the city I pretty much consider my home in the US as I lived the largest chunk of my adult life there (and which voted 92% for Obama). I lived there through two election cycles which resulted in Bush’s election and re-election and I really wish I could have been there this time.

There was a march down 16th Street in DC to the White House

Four networks simultaneously

And here’s a picture from Falun, Sweden:

dscn4388

obama

On the one hand, I was going to be really upset if he didn’t win. On the other, I almost didn’t believe it was possible.

Today is a good day for my homeland and our planet.

OK, so yesterday there was this opinion piece in the New York Times featuring a Republican whining, as usual, about how the US media has a liberal bias. His argument is that newspapers have given more positive coverage to Obama and that those newspapers which endorse candidates have endorsed Obama by an overwhelming margin. I’ve got just a few things to say about this “liberal bias” bullshit and I will try to be as succinct as possible.

1. “Balanced” news coverage does not mean taking the sum total of every crazy thing that everybody believes and finding the center point. The non-opinion pages of the news are supposed to report facts. Do they always? No. But if the facts tend to fall to the left of your nutjob opinions, what does that tell you? This reminds me of the argument that we have to teach creationism in school to give kids a “balanced” perspective. Come on. If I persuade a few people that the moon is made of cheese and the earth is flat do they have to teach that in school too, in order to be balanced? If I believe that letting the Bush tax cuts (which have contributed to our enormous deficit) expire is socialism, does the media have to report that like it’s news?

2. The mainstream media is far from left-wing. My opinions are left-wing by American standards and I have to listen to Amy Goodman and read The Huffington Post in order to find some commentary that I can agree with more or less without reservation. I find the New York Times can be centrist to a fault.

3. Maybe the problem lies in the fact that the media doesn’t really foreground the issues anymore. Instead of saying, “here’s Obama’s tax plan, here’s McCain’s tax plan, you decide”, the media reports on what the candidates were wearing and how many people were at the last rally and which commentator on the competing network said something mean about one of the candidates and don’t even get me started on Joe the Freaking Plumber. It’s not news, it’s meta-news, and it is a huge waste of time and resources.

Our copy of this week’s issue of The Economist arrived today. The Economist is edited by a bunch of people who are hardcore free market capitalists. I love The Economist even though I believe in high taxes and big government spending and social programs. Why? Because they are, on the whole, really good at reporting the facts and they don’t let their ideology cloud their judgement on everything. Sure, even they can fall prey to hyperbole, like the article a couple weeks ago that stated that “Marx’s ideas went on to enslave half of humankind”. (Ideas don’t enslave people, people enslave people.) My point is that you can see that The Economist is not a liberal rag (in the American sense of the word liberal). So here’s the cover of this week’s Economist:

scan1

So what will the Republicans say to that? That The Economist has gone communist?

I just read that Obama’s grandmother, the one who raised him and outlived both his parents, died yesterday. How sad that she didn’t make it just one more day and a half to see her grandson elected president.

Get out and vote!

– Obama for President

– If there are any Greens on your ballot, vote for them

– Vote NO ON 8 in California!!

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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