Nearly every day we watch the news on channel 1 during dinner. To give a comparison to news in the U.S., here is a sampling of the stories covered tonight:
Some privately owned and run elder care homes have been found to have made profits from their work. This is resulting in a huge backlash. It is very unseemly for many Swedes to think that people would be profiting off caring for the elderly especially since these private care homes are mostly state funded in the first place. In a survey, 77% of Swedes felt that these private care homes should not make one kronor profit.
The former prime minister of Iceland is going on trial for not doing enough to deal with the economic crash that Iceland experienced a few years ago. Iceland was being used as a guinea pig for the kind of financial strong arming that the IMF and bankers are currently doing to Greece and other places. Iceland’s economy went into the toilet a few years ago but instead of bailing out the banks, Icelanders refused to go along, rewrote their constitution, told the banks to go to hell and now they are going after their former head of state. You can be sure this story will not receive one second of air time in the U.S.
Throughout Sweden there are many small schools because the country is sparsely populated. Many of these are closing due to budgetary concerns and parents, teachers and even kids are mounting protest movements to prevent the closures. There is more to this story that I didn’t get.
A couple nights ago I posted about last Saturday’s Melodifestival show. There was one performer, an Iranian named Sean Banan who pokes fun at immigrant stereotypes and I asked my students what they thought of him this afternoon in the Conversational English class I am teaching. They were unanimous in their opinion that the guy was not funny in the least, was pathetic and he was a complete joke, but not in the way Sean Banan intended. No wonder he did not make it to the finals next week.
Okay, in order to salvage this post I have some photos of another part of Sweden that we took during a summer trip to the east coast a few years ago. Off the east coast of Sweden is the island of Gotland, a gorgeous place out in the Baltic Sea. I am told it gets the most sun of anywhere in Sweden.
These three photos are from the main city on Gotland called Visby. Really beautiful town with lots of ruins and I will post more shots one of these days. But another smaller island off the northern tip of Gotland is called Fårö (Sheep Island, though the article on Wikipedia disputes this and says that in the local dialect it means the island you have to travel to). The rest of the shots are from Fårö.
This is a hut where they could put the sheep when it got too cold. Is that Hobbit-like or what?
This humble little building is where Bergman edited his films.
Many tourists to the island wanted to know where Bergman lived so they could go by his house. The people on the island had a conspiracy going where they would take the prying tourists to another house and tell them that is where Bergman lived. We got to be friends with owner and staff of the campground where we stayed and the workman at the campsite took us on a tour of the island which included a stop at the entrance to Bergman’s actual residence. That is Peter, me and Peter’s wife Carrie at the entrance to the great director’s house. I know it was the actual place because a few weeks later there were photos of it in the papers. Later that summer, Mariette and I visited some friends in the northern part of the country. On our trip back to Halmstad there was virtually zero traffic on the highways. We did not know what was going on and because we were listening to CDs the whole way we did not have the radio on. When we got back to Mariette’s parents’ house, her dad greeted us with great sadness. Bergman had passed away that morning and the country was literally in mourning. Bergman is buried on Fårö in the church graveyard.
The island has another attraction much older than Ingmar Bergman. 250 million years ago this was all ocean. As the seas receded the rocky structures were left behind and the subsequent ice ages sculpted them into magnificent structures.
Joan Miro must have visited Fårö at one time.
Picasso, too. This is very reminiscent of the sculpture that stands next to the river in downtown Halmstad. They are even the same size.
Mother Nature’s sculpture garden. Or maybe Scandinavia’s version of Easter Island.
Another part of the island had a whole bunch more.
How’s that for an artsy shot?
On that note, good night.