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      A few months ago I read a couple of books by the Singaporean intellectual Kishore Mahbubani. In “Has China Already Won he discusses Taiwan. The one exceptional trigger for a war involving China is Taiwan. Most of the time, the Chinese leaders have a lot of policy flexibility. There are no strong domestic lobbies to worry about. But the one issue where the Ch […]
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Latenight: Still waters

Scandanavian culture has always intrigued me.  There’s a certain fatalistic stoicism about the Norwegian bachelor farmers of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone.  The concept was reinforced in the quirky film Kitchen Stories where a cool detached Swedish statistician is assigned to study the kitchen efficiency of-  the Norwegian bachelor farmer.  For anyone who has never seen this hillarious movie, don’t let the subtitles intimidate you.  Words are few and almost all of the comedy is visual.  

But the odd thing about Kitchen Stories as well as some of the literature I’ve read, such as anything by Sigrid Undset, is that Scandanavians are anything but cool and detached.  They are roiling with passion beneath that calm exterior.  The statistician’s grand experiment is jeopardized when he inadvertantly becomes the subject and by the simple acts of kindness he and his subject share, crossing the boundary into biased interpretations of data.  The desire for human contact and friendship overwhelms the demands of science.  

Undset’s characters are medieval men and women struggling with their duty, honor and the impulsivity of the adolescent sex drive.  Lust, murder, infidelity leads to lifetimes of heartache for the few moments of stolen ecstasy.  Penance, pilgrimage, forgiveness and self sacrifice are needed to repair the broken soul held hostage by the weakness of the flesh.  After an Unset saga, you come to see that the only thing cool in Scandanavia is the winter.  

Commenter B, from Sweden has dropped in from time to time to offer support and solidarity and with her keen insight, recommends this song for the intensity of the PUMA movement, watching, waiting, ready to be released.   

Set’em up, Joe.  I need to quench this fire.

37 Responses

  1. Eight in a row!

    RD, you’re on fire.

    This song is beautiful.

  2. damn I lost my post again gotta keep my finger off the control key….well just wanted to say good night all and hope the word is good on hillary’s debt when it comes out!

    Keep everyone safe tonight creator and bless our undertakeing to bring light to the darkness and freedom where it has been so long absent that we may establish justice across this land again and banish tyrants from our sacred soil. amen

    night all-fuzzybeargville

  3. michael, beautiful.

  4. Amen.

  5. thank you Michael ..

    the music and the visual on the you tube is Perfect !! RD .. thank you so very much ..

  6. Kitchen Stories! Yes, I had forgotten about it. It was hilarious and I could relate to it especially (because of my Industrial Eng undergrad.) 🙂

  7. RD, you would be prohibited in California and all national parks today because you are on fire. Thank you for the wonderful posts today and everyday.

  8. Hello. I must have I missed tons today. I was out of town and just returned a bit ago.
    I posted this opinion from Sunday Chicago Tribune in the thread below, but wanted to share it with anyone who hadn’t seen it earlier today… I was stunned to read it.
    Here goes:
    Anxiety then Separation

  9. Have you guys seen this video?

  10. (Sorry, meant to hit return and hit Submit—hate when that happens.)

    It’s Hillary’s Woman’s Rights speech juxtaposed against the campaign.

  11. Masochist that I am, I just took a peek at HuffPo and their coverage of the Boy King’s overseas tour. The comments again are laugh out loud hysterical. Don’t know how it happened but one blogger was able to get in a post “PUMA 2008” which of course was attacked.

    Some of those braindeaders are swooning over the fact that they cannot wait until January to see him sworn in. His appearance over there has them peeing their pants.

  12. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/NO-WE-WONT

    Replays! I missed the first half hour. Lots of PUMA groups popping up!

    As for Swedes, they are quite passionate within their four walls, but fairly
    reserved and stolid out in public outside of bars (alcohol is heavily taxes). I was fascinated by Ingmar Bergman movies when I was a teenager. Lots of passion and talk. It gets dark early in Northern Europe during half of the year (and Stockholm is known as the 24-hour nightclub in the midst of winter). Swedes talk and write. Just about everyone is a journalist/writer. The schools are incredibly good. University is free for those who qualify. When I volunteered with a group of University of Stockholm students before I ever went to Sweden, I was a college dropout then and these students were more impressive than any American college students I had ever met en masse (and my interactions with them were in English)!

    As a result of my youthful fascination with Bergman, I wanted to live in Sweden, and found myself there–I hitchhiked there. I believe that the singer is in the university town of Upsala, which was where Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander” was filmed.

    At one time I could speak a little Swedish. I can pass as Scandinavian and my accent was odd, so I got strange reactions. Swedes thought I was Finnish (there are many ethnic Swedes who are Finnish) in Stockholm (out and about when I should be working) and spoke with a Finnish accent.

    I met an ethnic Swede who is Finnish who placed Finns in Stockholm once. He told me to say in English that I am American and then switch to my childish Swedish. That way, I’d be a novelty and not perceived as a Finn living off Swedish welfare. Americans are loved since so many Swedes (a huge percentage of the population) immigrated to America when Sweden was imploding in the 20s. People were starving.

    BTW, my Swedish friend who is very political said she was rooting for Hillary the woman, but that the media was selling Obama as the new improved produce, and more exotic!

  13. Wow, Leslie, the comments are better than the article. Out of 18 comments, 16 are anti-Obama–even from one person who said he voted for him in the primary but won’t vote for him in the general.

  14. CB, on July 20th, 2008 at 11:21 pm Said:
    I have always been curious about Sweden and want to visit since I first saw Fanny and Alexander years ago. I like the sound of their language — sounds almost like Sanskrit.

  15. grayslady ~
    thanks for the review. I hadn’t read the comments before I posted the column as I had already read the column in the paper early this morning before leaving for the day. You are sooo right about the comments.

    Right now, I am listening to the replay of the “No We Won’t PUMA radio” from today

  16. Swedish is northern Germanic language (as is English), with a lot of French. Queen Christiana (17th century) loved France so there are many French words in the language. The grammar was simplified in the early 20th century (I believe that was the date). Anyway, Sweden has a lot of English words, Anglo-Saxon derivatives, and much French so it was easier to learn than say Thai. I had studied French.

  17. Anti-Obama comments on HuffPoop? I was never allowed to post anything, and I was just fact checking.

  18. Maybe some people are starting to really get this fraud:

    Obama Wraps Up the Bush Status Quo in Pompous Clichés

    I am quickly coming to the conclusion that all there has ever been to Barack Obama is symbolism and grandiloquent speeches. There is the symbolism of him as the (potential) first black president. And there is his ability to give portentous speeches in high-flown Harvard rhetoric, perfectly pitched to sound thoughtful to college-educated liberals–without actually saying anything.

    And here we go again, with another one of Obama’s patented Big Speeches, this time on Iraq. It is pitched to sound sincere and intellectual, and to sell us on his allegedly superior foreign-policy judgment–so long as we drift through it and don’t start asking any questions.

    The speech has two purposes. One is to artfully evade Obama’s massive misjudgment of the “surge,” which he unequivocally opposed. Thus, while he half-acknowledges the enormous turnaround in Iraq, here is how he describes its cause:

    As I have said many times, our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence. General Petraeus has used new tactics to protect the Iraqi population. We have talked directly to Sunni tribes that used to be hostile to America, and supported their fight against al Qaeda. Shiite militias have generally respected a cease-fire. Those are the facts, and all Americans welcome them.

    Here’s a tip. When Obama begins a sentence with “As I have said many times,” this means that he is about to announce a totally new position that contradicts everything he has said before

  19. I hope the fraud has been noticed and acknowledged.

    I fear that when they ulitmately realize they were bamboozled, they it and will continue to strongly support the master of deception (BHO) out of concern they themselves will be seen as naive or worse yet, stupid.

    Good column.

  20. It is late, and I go back to work tomorrow. I need to say goodnight.

    See you all, Tuesday. I’m going to the ball game tomorrow night after work.

  21. good morning conflucians. how the hell are you all?

  22. This doesn’t look good at all:

    From Yahoo!

    On Sunday, Clinton, who suspended her campaign on June 7, reported raising $2.7 million from donors during the month. She also lent her campaign $1 million to pay off some vendors, bringing her total loan to the campaign to $13.2 million.

    Clinton has continued to raise money and Obama has asked that his donors help her as well to reduce her debt. Clinton owed $5.3 million to her senior adviser and pollster Mark Penn, but aides to Clinton said she first intends to pay off small vendors owed money by the campaign.

    She has until the Democratic national convention at the end of August to raise money to pay off her loan, an unlikely prospect. After that, she can only pay herself back $250,000.

    Clinton ended her campaign with more than $23 million designated for the general election. She is asking donors whether she can convert that money to the campaign account for her 2012 Senate re-election. Donors can also ask for refunds of that money.

  23. MABlue: is that reflective of the fundraising during this month?

  24. That has to be June. We’ve had almost all of our PUMA fundraisers in July IIRC.

  25. Those are the June numbers. I hope July was much much better.

  26. Okay, fellow PUMAs and Conflucians, what do you think about adding an element to our efforts?
    Shouldn’t we let HRC know that we want a floor fight?
    We’re telling everybody else, why not let her know from us how we feel?

    As for the fundraising, I think the fact that she loaned her campaign money indicates she’s comfortable with not paying off her debt too quickly.
    If I were her, I’d want to raise money to pay it off for all the reasons we’ve determined, but as long as the debt was outstanding, that would continue to be my first priority, not the DNC or the presumptuous nominee, get my drift?

  27. Saw this excellent letter to Don and Alice by William over at bitterpoliticz:


  28. Abroad, Obama “asserts Americanness” but is secretly meeting emirs in Kuweit

  29. Oh, and on the Swedish culture – I grew up adoring Selma Lagerloff – “The Adventures of Niels Holgerson” – about a little boy flying with a flock of wild geese over Sweden (and a few other masterpieces – she got the Nobel prize for literature)
    And yes, Ingmar Bergman came later. But it was Niels who introduced me to Sweden.

  30. MABlue: That was to be expected. The amount she reported doesn’t cover the July 4th effort.

  31. fredster- that was a great letter and it point by point argues our cause-smiply wonderful


  32. VERY Cool Song I just them a request to play their Music on CYGNUS RADIO and of cuorse my show GODDESS RADIO thank YOU SO MUCH for finding me a new GODDESS !! Swedes make incredible music !!! If you like the BLUES check out BOTTLENECK JOHN from Sweden 🙂

  33. on the protesting from cages .. what happened to the right of peaceful assembly ?? what is happening to this country this is ripping the core from our rights

  34. I grew up in small-town Wisconsin and suburban Minnesota. I know that on the outside Scandinavians are calm…if we think someone has just done something completely insane and totally beyond the pale, it will usually elicit a remark like “well, that was different”. Our food is monochromatic and all the spice is in the cookies, never in the hot dish, which is the term for casserole. We eat noodles, too, none of that fancy-smanshy “pasta”. Cream of mushroom soup is a dietary staple, as is lime Jello. We don’t care what the neighbors do as long as the blinds are drawn and their grass is cut. Please, we beg of you, do not “share” personal experiences. I am Norwegian on both sides of my family, and we don’t argue with the family member who said we lived where is was so cold you had to be part Norwegian and part stupid to survive there.

    But there are Scandinavians who don’t take any crap offa anybody…they’re called Berserkers. I think they have some descendants among the PUMAs.

  35. Protesting from cages? What have we become?

    Democrats rant and rave about the evils of a Bush/Cheney world while planning to keep Americans in cages? Free Speech zones and now cages?

    And you can be sure that the Obama-loving media won’t bother to show much of this crap.

    All of us who screamed about the rottenness of the Republicans need to step back and take a deep breath. The corruption is in both parties as is the lack of civil rights.

    The First Amendment gives us the right of peaceful assembly. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have the right to take that away.

    Now we see why so many Democrats voted for the FISA Bill along with their Republican pals. Both parties agree with GeeDubya; that the Constitution is just a gee dee piece of paper.

  36. I am reading this very late, but Ms Marple, you are right on! Oh jeez, dat’s funny doncha know.

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