Scandinavian Clubs in the US

I put together a list of clubs and organizations in the United States for Scandinavians (Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland). Most of the time you have to be a member or member’s guest to attend but there are several open events.

You all should be able to get culturally immersed and maybe find a lovely Swedish man or woman.

YSC in San Francisco Bay Area
Scandinavian Club in Connecticut
Scandinavian Club of Hawaii
Scandinavian Club of Columbus, Ohio
American Scandinavian Society of New York, NY
Swedish Cultural Center in Seattle, WA
Norwegian National Club in Chicago, IL
Danish Clubs and Associations across the United States
Icelandic-American Organizations in America
Swedish Organizations in America

If you know of a Scandinavian/Nordic community in the US that should be added to the list, please let me know.

9/11 Ten Years Later

Tuesday morning was just like any other morning in my second year of college. I had an annoyingly early class at 8AM, albeit very fun – Hindi, followed by a full day of classes to end around 3.30PM.

I normally would wake up around 7AM, do my hair and makeup, wear something stylish (something which could not be said for the rest of the 30,000 campus population) and eat Special K and watch the news on a tiny 15inch tv.

That morning, I woke to terrible dreams. Instead of watching tv, I ate breakfast and in a hurry made the hike to Hindi class at Dwinelle Hall.

Class started at 8.10AM. At 8.15AM, our professor asked if there was an update. There was. “I heard the World Trade Center has fallen. Planes flew into it.” It was true, but no one could believe or know it was true, we didn’t have access to a TV in that classroom.
9/11 world trade center
Photo courtesy of The New York Times

At 9AM when class ended, we all ran out to the main lecture halls in Dwinelle. Students and faculty had set up live feeds from CNN into the largest lecture hall and in smaller rooms. The voices of CNN anchors boomed throughout the corridor.

“It appears the United States is under attack.”

“This video footage is horrifying.”

“At 10:28 this morning, the North Tower of the World Trade Center Collapsed. One hour before, its sister building collapsed.”

“The United States has just announced the closure of US airspace for any and domestic and international flights. It is advised to stay home and not travel until further notice.”

Our minds were in a whirlwind. California may believe it is the beautiful, offbeat daughter of America, but she was a bit slow to catch up on reality. Three hours slow and a continent away from the capital and financial centers of the country.

I ran to my 9:30AM class which happened to be about mass communication. We spent the hour watching feeds and the professor discussing it. The irony was, no one understood the calamity of what happened.

After class, I call my parents who informed me everything was essentially a lockdown on the East Coast. Dad returned home from work early. Friends in Jackson Heights, NY were okay but switchboards across the nation were jammed.

It was psychedelic. In a city that propelled the use of illicit substances to trip out and “be a color,” we all across America were tripping out on the news and the potential ramifications.

Who did this?

Why?

Are we going to war?

How many people are dead?

Why?

I attended my last class in Geography from 2:00-3:30PM. Our professor took attendance was a primadonna. He said what happened today “was no big deal” and no is allowed to leave the class early. He was an ass who was clueless.

The remainder of the day, I watched TV. It was devastating to watch the city I visited throughout my childhood covered in ashes and fallen glass and souls. My life was and is, belonged to the East Coast, not California.

When President Bush addressed the nation in the early evening for California, it was a definite sign of him pulling together and being the president he needed to be.

Two years later we entered a country that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. In fact, Al Qaeda did not exist under Saddam Hussain’s regime because if anyone is going infiltrate his country and take his people, it’s going to be his own Baath party.

On that fateful day in April 2003, I was living France and at the internet cafe when students started screaming, “we got him, we got him!” “Who?” “Saddam, that motherfucker was hiding in a bunker.”

Wow, is the war over then? Do we go home? Will we stop seeing dead American soldiers in caskets being loaded onto American cargo planes and dropped off like luggage?

The news shown in France and Europe was tragic, depressing, and violet. What Americans saw on TV was G rated or on occasion PG rated. There was the rhetoric of freedom fighting and fighting the good fight regardless if people disagreed. American television was polarized; the Murdoch empire broadcasted the washed up patriotic, good American fight. The most any America saw were heated debates between the war hawks (those who supported the war) and blind doves (those who disagreed with an Iraqi war and were as a result, unpatriotic and treasonous).

On television in France, I saw a war that had no chance to end. That no amount of “known knowns and known unknowns” would save the lives of our American men and women and destroy Al-Qaeda.

Nothing really mattered though. Truth was overrated and security paramount. Stripping rights of Americans became the norm (the librarians rebelled to submitting information to the government). Those of brown colored skin and hard-to-pronounce names with funny hats were outcasted in what became the next wave of hatred towards immigrants. We did it to the Irish, the German, the Japanese, the Chinese, and now it was the Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans, Afganis and Iraqis all rolled into one. We were the same to the news media and the lackadaisical Fox News addict.

My country lost all sensibilities and rational and turned against its own. Our sentiments were overwrote by fear and ignorance. Our soldiers, mainly young men, fought tour after tour, only to know the Bush administration wanted to exact cuts on their armor budget and ship soldiers by cargo.

We are fascinated by our own mortality and celebration of death.
We are fascinated by wars which occur on foreign lands and American flags we raise high.
We are easily swept up in fear and the unknown.
We forget our past lessons and past sadness.

Today, we should not forget. It is a day to honor the lives lost on the ground and in the air. Above all, it is a day to honor the men and women who serve for our nation and die for our country, regardless whether the war was right or wrong.

For the future, I hope we can come to reconciliation with Iraq and Afganistan. That we allow them to build democratic countries with the assistance of the UN and America. That we educate the Americans on Islamic communities and religion. That not every burka is a bomber. That not everyone who dissents is unpatriotic. And that not every country is immune to terror.

Readings:
http://timeline.national911memorial.org/
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/sept-11-reckoning/viewer.html?hp
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/us/sept-11-reckoning/immigration.html
http://www.dn.se/webbtv/nyheter/livesandning-dnse/ – Live feed
http://www.dn.se/nyheter/varlden/sa-lite-visste-vi-en-manad-efter-daden – Slideshow
http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/boom-sen-finns-ingenting-kvar_6457496.svd
1,667 Times Square-Style Attacks Every Year
Five unforgettable stories from Ground Zero
Fem vanliga konspirationsteorier

The S******** Word

I’ve been surfing funny things the past week in an effort to cheer myself up and give a respite from reality. Thank you all who have written lovely comments on my previous post. I’ll share more later this week.

But, in the spirit of this blog, let’s discuss something funny. I came across this status message from a friend:

Obama-care has to have birth control….ARG!!!!! Why dont you just go ahead and trample all over our civil liberties while ur at it?!?!?!!

Followed by a comment:

What do you mean by ‘has to have birth control’?

And the OP posted back:

obama has stated that his health care plan has to have birth control included and a requirement for its recipients….can you say socialist??

First, I have no idea what this person is even trying to say. What does civil liberties have to do with birth control? How does birth control trample our rights? Perhaps condoms smack stupid boys who don’t want to use them.

Taking away that these comments are incomprehensible, the rhetoric is inflammatory. The poster used the S word. You know, SOCIALIST. And in America, the S word is a bad bad thing. Conservatives probably equate the S word to the N word used to describe African Americans. The only difference is one word is used to describe a political and social system that exists in some capacity in all nations and the other word is used to insult and condescend upon a race of people.

Fox News and socialism

I find it unfortunate that people, mainly neo-conservatives, using any political term to describe different political ideologies. “Hitler was socialist. Mussolini was nazi. America will be Socialist. Italy is communist.” Not only is this thinking ignorant but also dangerous.

The average Joe in America believes socialism will destroy the country. What they fail to realize is that many system in America are run in a socialist manner. Police, fire, schools, post offices and the military are run by the public (the government as the body which operates them). Perhaps we should eliminate or privatize these programs.

Now we have millions of people who think by having birth control in health care programs the government is controlling us! And now we’re becoming socialists! The horror that America turns into Sweden.

This is why American politics is a disaster today. Pundits or “experts” say outrageous, if not false, statements and people blindly accept it as gospel.

Not about politics but Fox News’ amazing ability to produce garbage.

“These stats are irrefutable… The institution of marriage in Sweden has collapsed.” – Ohh Bill O’Reilly, you are a douchebag.

Happy 4th of July!

In 1776 the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, the most important document in our nation. Seven years later, we won independence from the United Kingdom and began the road to sovereign rule and freedom for all (as long as you were white, male, and middle age).

This post is for my parents who immigrated to the United States in the 1970s for a better life. Thanks to their hard work and their pursuit of the American Dream, they had me, an American now living in Sweden. Hehe. At least we’re Americans!

‘Haii’ from patriotic Bunny
patriotic bunney

american bunny

Happy Thanksgiving from Sweden!

Wishing all of you a very happy turkey day. If you are not celebrating overeating, overindulging holiday where we supposedly thanked the Native Americans for helping Americans by more or less killing them, then well you have point.
Thanksgiving turkey

May you have a wonderful weekend Black Friday shopping at least!

Hugs and kisses,
Sapphire

PS- If you’re in Sweden and want turkey, head to Ingelsta Kalkon, they’re a local company and have very good quality products.

Update – Some photos from our thanksgiving lunch. Plus an awesome poem from my buddy SugarB
A nicely made turkey
From a girl, who’s from Berkeley.
Serving stuffing and wine.
A pumpkin pie, that smelled fine.

Inviting friends from all over.
Not a single left sober.
Sharing peace, love and food.
Getting people in-the-mood.

Leaving happy and full
To my place in Norrtull
Thanks for today.
Du är en duktig tjej!

The Deal with Black Friday

If Thanksgiving in America wasn’t American enough, there is Black Friday: the holiest shopping day of the year.

Not to be confused with the stock crash and somber days of Black Monday, basically when the financial world came to a halt, Black Friday marks the first day of the Christmas shopping. And why black? In terms of finances, most companies say they are in the ‘red’ (i.e. holding debt, negative profits), or in the ‘black’ (i.e. making profits).

Since the majority of a retailer’s sales occurs during the Christmas season, most see their balance sheet go from red to black.

After checking up on Wikipedia, the first time Black Friday was used in context of Thanksgiving was in 1966 in Philadelphia:

JANUARY 1966 — “Black Friday” is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. “Black Friday” officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing. [source]

Black Friday as a coined term was used again in 1975 and became more common in the 1980s when retailers themselves used it as a day of blessing to bring in good sales through the Christmas Season.

And well today Black Friday is the best and craziest shopping day of the year. Usually queues begin at 1 or 2 am as stores open for doorbuster events from 4-6AM. Everyone from Best Buy to Target to The Body Shop are in on it.

How to Plan for War on Black Friday

Basically, Black Friday is the bring out the guns and warpaint day. If you can’t handle crowds, chaos, don’t shop on this day.

First you need to do a reconnaissance mission, ie. organized planning and scouting of the target location. Then you need to decide who goes to what store, where are the meetup points in the city, etc.

Last year we (6 swedes, 5 americans) headed off the Gilroy Premium Outlets… at 11.30pm Thanksgiving Night. Yes, we battled war with the truest of the insane shoppers. I mean, it took 30min to get off the highway and to the mall area. Lines started at midnight for shops that were opening at 3am.

After finishing shopping at 5AM, we ate at Dennys, headed back home at 7AM. My two friends and I just slept in the car for two hours (in front of the house). At 9AM, we drove one hour north to San Francisco to battle the crowds at the largest underground retailer, Jeremy’s.

Then in the afternoon, I switched teams, and joined my friend Tony to finish up. Torbjörn and his friends napped until noon then battled the electronic superstores.

We reconvened at 7PM for dinner at Chevy’s Mexican restaurant.

Total hours of pure shopping/standing in lines: 10 hours
Nap times/breaks: 3 hours
Driving: 5 hours

Welcome to Black Friday, America’s Holiest day.

The Dark Side of Thanksgiving – The All American Holiday

Today is Thanksgiving, an American holiday. While we have been learning about Swedish Christmas holidays, let’s take a step back to turkey day. As a Swede or any other national for that matter, you may be wondering what is the history of Thanksgiving. Besides being the most awesome holiday of the year, where people can gorge on sweet potatoes and turkey, Thanksgiving is America’s biggest family holiday.

How Did the Pilgrims and Indians celebrate the First Thanksgiving?

  • It is celebrated in Canada (unrelated, it’s a pure harvest holiday- thanks to Jen for pointing this out), Grenada (completely unrelated), and the Netherlands (when the Pilgrims passed through Leiden on the way to the New World).
  • It was not until 1941 that Thanksgiving became a federal holiday (ie. red day)
  • The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the Virginia Colony in 1619 by the colonists who settled in Berkeley, Virginia (right outside Jamestown). Few years later, most were killed and remaining retreated back to the secured areas of Jamestown.
  • The official first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans, the Wampanoag Indians, at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1621.
  • The pilgrims did not eat turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie or pecan pie. What a bummer!
  • Venison and fowl were on the menu as foods for the first Thanksgiving. Yum yum.
  • Thanksgiving was celebrated in Dec 1777 according to documents from the Continental Congress. George Washington and John Adams continued the tradition, naming an official day for Thanksgiving.
  • Thomas Jefferson did not hold Thanksgiving.
  • But Lincoln did during the Civil War and it was after 1861 that Thanksgiving became a yearly celebration.
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started i 1924 by Macy’s employees.  They walked from 145Street in Harlem to 34th street in downtown Manhattan to the flagship Macy’s store. You can watch the archive of the parade at Earthwatch.  (this is my favorite part of the day, watching the Snoopy and Kermit floats and singers and dancers :) )
  • By 1933 more than 1 million people lined the Thanksgiving Day Parade route.  This year, more than 3 million spectators.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Let’s turn this upside down now…

But, Thanksgiving is not all it’s let out to be. The history behind this holiday is shrouded in controversy, propaganda and myths. Howard Zinn, one of America’s most famous historians and the author of A People’s History of the United States, writes that Thanksgiving is not all peachy peachy. It was during the early 1600s that the Native Americans and the Pilgrims were at constant war with each other; meaning it was bloodshed not brotherhood that brought these communities together.

Around 1621 the Pilgrims had another massive crop failure and it was thanks to this that the local Indians shared their dinner with the Pilgrims. Obviously, it is not the song and dance most stories say. Remember, American history with the Indians is fraught with terror, genocide, war, and deceptive practices with regards to treaties.

Pumpkin Bread

This year when you sit down at the table for Thanksgiving and everyone is giving thanks, think about how this holiday started. And think how many lives were lost in vanity.

References:
Howard Zinn’s Interview with Tavis Smily, National Public Radio, Link
Audio Text, here.

Scott Berkun, Debunking Thanksgiving Myth. Link.

iAsshats- Why Apple is the next consumer dictator

With the flurry of accusations going back and forth between iBrick users and Apple, I figured it is time I put my two cents in. First off, I did not buy an iPhone because I knew Apple was a company of control freaks who would enforce every term like the old Chinese dictatorships. Second, I knew that company would have a serious price cut right after its first go on the market. And yet, I completely sympathize with the iPhone consumer for a variety of reasons.

1. Bricking a product is a pretty extreme solution to a “violation” of a T&C (terms and conditions agreement). If for example, Apple is sued and they lose, they face either replacing every bricked phone with a new one (a huge financial lose) or writing a lot more code to fix these phones (if that is even feasible). Bricking is an end all solution.

2. People are saying the iPhone users need to stop whining and suck it up. J. Noah Funderburg, an assistant dean at the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa, said: “We have a free marketplace,” he said. “Buy a product, including using it on the terms accompanying the purchase, or don’t buy it. And learn to live with not always getting everything you want.”
It’s not about getting “everything” you want, it is about getting to own your product. Apple is imposing as many rules as it can to create a consumer base of slaves. These users have no rights, they just pay for the phone and every cost associated. If I spend, $400, $500, or $600 on a phone, I would like to use it in a manner I see fit. That does not mean throwing it off a building, installing malicious programs, or installing programs that changes the database structure, it means getting to personalize MY phone.

3. Apple’s stubbornness to control every aspect of the iphone will eventually backfire. Consumers will realize they wasted $600 on a phone and either: 1) they buy a new phone; 2) tell Apple and AT&T to go fuck themselves and buy from another company.
I own a T-mobile Blackberry. T-mobile is a sensible company because they know many of it’s customers travel abroad and they allow customers to unlock phones. I have never had a problem unlocking my phone and the customer service reps are very helpful.
Additionally, I installed the Zagat Restaurant guide on my phone. I had some problems so I called T-mobile for help. Sure enough, even though they didn’t write the program, the CS rep went online to see what could be the issue (we eventually resolved it). No problems, no questions.

4. Apple is fighting a losing battle. Every new technology is tested to its breaking point and then pushed forward to make the next generation. Because Apple is trying to control every aspect of the iphone and the phone service agreement, everyone who does anything to the phone is considered a hacker. Seriously, most customers just want to add some bells and whistles and most “hackers” want to see how strong the coding is and what can be done to make it better. It is a win-win for everyone. If Apple let hackers play with the phone, they would be creating softwares for the next generation (and that is R&D money Apple doesn’t have to spend) but if Apple wants to scare everyone, the iphone will truly become an iBrick: worthless, old, and outdated.

Apple always claimed to be on the cutting edge and open to new source codes. Isn’t that why Apple fought with Microsoft for years? The company did not want to be a dictator to its consumers. Apple began on the platform of open source and working to make things better. They wanted to be sleek, sexy, and ahead of its time. They were, until now.

This week, Apple set itself back twenty years and is behaving like a dogmatic dinosaur. In the Apple world, I will call them an iAsshole.

And we thought Microsoft was bad…