Saturday, November 28, 2015

Only In America

My country of birth seems to be undergoing such a transformation that I cannot keep up with writing comments the New York Times OnLine next to the articles reporting on these transformations. Thus my blog been dormant since October 5, and words fail me now, at least as concerns the United States of America. Nevertheless I use the title "Only In America" as a clue to what I have been writing in Times comments, even though I choose for the moment to write about the way I began the day here in Linköping.
I became a Swedish citizen about 9 months ago, and today I was one of many "nya svenskar" here in Linköping invited to attend a ceremony welcoming all of us who have recently become Swedish citizens. I was first to arrive along with a trio, two men with African lines of descent and with them a Swedish woman.

As a result of my many years as volunteer at the Red I often try to guess ethnicity or country of origin and at least for one of the men, I thought "not Somali, but possibly Ethiopian". Then I went up to them and told them I had a question that I use as my way of introducing myself, of making contact. The question, stated in Swedish was, "What languages do you know? The answer was Swedish, English, Amharic so I had guessed right. That is not important.

What is important is that once again, as I have experienced over and over again, we begin to learn a little bit about each other and often as was true this time that there are things that connect us. So I have before me a pamphlet titled:

Research Summary
Seedling and sapling sprouting of
Ensete ventricosum
a drought tolerant, multi-purpose
crop from Ethiopia
So very quickly, it is so often possible to discover a bit about what the new people before me - and vice versa - have on their minds or in their minds and thus a conversation door is opened, maybe just for the moment, maybe for months or even years.

That is what Sweden has given me, the chance to know ever more people with lines of descent different from mine but with something to give to me. So I felt very much at home sitting in that room where one by one our names were called out and we went up to be welcomed, to be given a Swedish flag and a diploma and a warm welcome from the people before us.

It saddens me that so many of my fellow Americans tell me in their comments in the New York Times that they cannot imagine wanting to let anyone into their home state if the person comes from any of the countries from which so many in that room have come from.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent and that means for me that I have to get ready to leave for Ansgarskyrkan where my orchestera, AM Blås will give a concert this evening along with several choirs. Sweden has also given me this opportunity and I have been ever grateful.

So nothing here right now about Only-In-America

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fjärrvärme-Distance Heating update
here is the URL to the beginning of the series that ends with the above

In connection with today's New York Times OpEd on recycling I have just looked at my blog and was surprised to see that I had to go all the way back to 2013 to find that URL so there are more posts from that back in time. For reasons I do not understand, the pictures have been replaced by a symbol. I cannot fix that right now - 20:04 h CET 4 October but maybe tomorrow morning.
The pictures tell the story so without them you cannot understand the system.
Footnote 1: 21:12 Swedish Public TV Conversations With Authors program with title Babel was on while I was looking briefly at the blog. The first author was poet and member of the Swedish Academy Katerina Frosteson. She ended her section of the program by reading a short poem of hers, Sopor (Trash). Strange coincidence.
Footnote 2: A reply to me was posted by a reader who remembered the bad incinerators in the building where she lived in New York City. I think countless Americans have lived in the presence of a variety of terrible incinerators and this has led them to believe that all incinerators must be terrible. I have lived in Sweden for 20 years and have never heard or read complaints about the fjärrvärme incinerators.Hope to start over again perhaps with new photographs.

Monday, September 21, 2015

From Syria - or other country - to Sweden: We are many

I am on Bus4You taking me home to Linköping. Bus4You left from Nils Ericson Terminal where several organizations were working hard to help new arrivals, mostly refugees, coming from Syria and several other countries.

I am starting this Post in the hope that volunteers I met there will read this and add to it or tell me their stories. I am also creating this for use in the New York Times Comment sections (will explain tomorrow, Tuesday, I hope.

Here is the scene at Nils Ericson. I have used Photoshop to add a bit to the hijab of one of the two young women wearing hijab so she cannot be identified.

At the counter young women wearing Islamic Relief banners are giving food and drink to new arrivals some of whom you do see here. I spoke with a college-age son from one Syrian family who in high-level English told me that he and his family had been traveling for 17 days and had finally arrived here in Gothenburg, Sweden. They were not done traveling. At the same time that I would board my Bus4You to take me to Linköping, they would be boarding Bus4You that would take them to Oslo, Norway!

The people helping out here are members of Islamic Relief - The Front Line, Red Cross personell, and staff from Migrationsverket. As far as I  could tell, most of the groups sitting on benches and on the floor were families of several different ethnicities.

Here I introduce an extremely helpful Islamic Relief person, Ismail, who gave me an overview in English and Swedish and then helped me track down a young woman I believe from Kirkuk whom I want to meet my friend Sipel from Dohuk, north of Kirkuk.

Ismail, if you want your identity to be hidden, let me know (gmail up to the left) and Photoshop will hide you.

Tomorrow I will be at the Red Cross in Linköping with my colleagues from Iran, Finland, and Sweden where we offer Träna svenska for anyone who wants to talk and listen. Every week brings new arrivals - recently Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Bulgaria, and Somali - and we have a ball talking and listening.

As concerns the New York Times, this is just a preface. Every day the New York Times web edition has Editorials and OpEds on the flow of refugees to Europe. A single Editorial can have up to 1000 comments, all of them first reviewed before being released - or rejected. I read 100s every day and write my own. What troubles me deeply is that so many of my fellow Americans (I am dual citizen, USA, Sverige) are so ill informed that they write that these refugees should not be accepted because they are muslims or - I may give samples tomorow. I doubt that none has ever met a real live muslim so perhaps until they do they can live with their fears of the "other".

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rite of Sundown on Mount Philo

We are many who find on Mount Philo those elements of nature and life that make us whole. The Mount Philo staff have found a way to celebrate what Mount Philo gives us each and every day. Each night at sunset, the staff joins all of us to stand on bedrock, watch the sun make its nightly descent in back of the Adirondack Mountains of New York on the other side of Lake Champlain, and listen and reflect as the plaintive tones of Taps are sounded by staff member Cole and his Cornet

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Things to Like in America

 First night in the Madison Neighborhood in Albany, New York. Decided to take an early evening stroll, sun setting earlier here than in Linköping (Sweden). Took the quiet side of the street on the way out.
The stroll took me to the front door of Tierra Coffee Roasters-you probably have some idea of what might be inside. But what about MADISON - what's that? Maybe you have to be a bit older to know, not as old as I am, but old enough.

It is still early evening here in the US on the 22d of August but over in Sweden it is 03:23 Sunday. My biological clock is somewhere between those two times, so this is all I can manage tonight. Stay tuned; hope to tell a story or two here and at FB tomorrow.

Let your imagination loose - What's Next?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Africa Trip Takes Obama Back

Africa Trip Takes Obama Back to a Complex Part of Himself

How Kenya fits into Mr. Obama?s identity remains one of the enduring questions of his presidency.
Or, copy and paste this URL into your browser: 

URL to BBC World Radio Program in which an interview appears at
14:06 and ends at 23:00 The interview is with Nigerian born author Igoni Barrett and seemed to me to bear on Barack Obama's efforts to understand how his present identity may have been partly shaped by having the father he had. 

 The picture is of Barack Obama meeting his grandmother Sara in 2006. She is now in her 90s.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ecole Rahal Casablanca On Styrsö in Sweden

Here they are, Ecole Rahal Fotboll ready to take a boat from Styrsö back to the mainland - Gothenburg, Sweden. The player with the A on his baseball hat lives here in Gothenburg and we got to chat in Swedish. Then we jumped up. 

It is Saturday night here on the island so I will post this and be back tonight or tomorrow with more, I hope with a video of the boat they took. More pics too.

Great gang, lots of fun.

Eid mubarak!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Times Update-Radical Change/White Terrorist

This is simply to note that it is time to start writing again here, especially given the latest flood of NYT OpEds generated by Dyann Roof, the American Anders Behring Breivik (Norwegian terrorist whose sorry tale is presented skillfully by Åsne Seierstad in "One Of Us".

The Times had an Editorial about Young People Drifting, written a day or two after Roof had visited a church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many of us Times commenters thought the Editors were going to offer Roof as an example of "young white person" adrift but instead the Editors went directly over to focusing on "young blacks adrift". We simply felt that the editiorial had been better if it had considered all young people adrift and perhaps even noted that Roof illustrates the worst but also serves as an example of how difficult it is to identify the worst before they act.

The Times also had a The Stone OpEd by Yale Assistant Professor Christopher Lebrun about the need for radical action in the black and surrounding communities. The comments cover the whole spectrum so I note only that for the first time, a commenter new to me Daniel12 offered a radical proposal that parallels mine - get rid of classification by race. Read his proposal!

Larry 2015-06-24

Monday, May 4, 2015

Krugman NYT May 4-Revolution

Yesterday, May 3d, I wrote the following:

I have been back writing comments at the New York Times after a month or longer writing none. I continue to refer to this blog there since the blog provides my Gmail for anyone who might want to contact me directly.

At the Times I have tried every possible formulation concerning a major proposal by former US Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt to make an important and major change in the 2020 Census.

The proposal is to eliminate questions about "race"/ethnicity and replace them with questions concerned with Social and Economic data.

When I first started inserting this in comments I thought I would get replies telling me this is impossible. I was wrong. Not one Times reader has shown the slightest interest. Comments mentioning this proposal get no reader recommendations at all.

I cannot speculate on why this is so, but it does surprise me.

Then today, May 4th Paul Krugman wrote that it is time to discuss issues more generally than in terms of "race"/racism. This was the perfect opening for me to ask Times readers directly about their reaction to Prewitt's proposal. So far, nobody has been willing to respond.

Here are the first paragraphs of Krugman's column with my emphasis added to one paragraph:

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST
Race, Class and Neglect
MAY 4, 2015

Every time you’re tempted to say that America is moving forward on race — that prejudice is no longer as important as it used to be — along comes an atrocity to puncture your complacency. Almost everyone realizes, I hope, that the Freddie Gray affair wasn’t an isolated incident, that it’s unique only to the extent that for once there seems to be a real possibility that justice may be done.
And the riots in Baltimore, destructive as they are, have served at least one useful purpose: drawing attention to the grotesque inequalities that poison the lives of too many Americans.
Yet I do worry that the centrality of race and racism to this particular story may convey the false impression that debilitating poverty and alienation from society are uniquely black experiences. In fact, much though by no means all of the horror one sees in Baltimore and many other places is really about class, about the devastating effects of extreme and rising inequality.
Take, for example, issues of health and mortality. Many people have pointed out that there are a number of black neighborhoods in Baltimore where life expectancy compares unfavorably with impoverished Third World nations. But what’s really striking on a national basis is the way class disparities in death rates have been soaring even among whites.
Most notably, mortality among white women has increased sharply since the 1990s, with the rise surely concentrated among the poor and poorly educated; life expectancy among less educated whites has been falling at rates reminiscent of the collapse of life expectancy in post-Communist Russia.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Joe Nocera update

A Times reader wrote a very kind reply to me today at the Joe Nocera column so the least I can do is thank the reader and bring Joe Nocera up to date. A previous Nocera comment is two posts down from this. Today 10/2 Nocera is writing about the search for the battery every renewable energy advocate wants to see some day, somewhere. But in classic Nocera fashion he first has to strike out at one of the only two forms of renewable energy technology he knows, solar and wind. He is consistent. If he mentions solar he mentions the Solyndra scandal. When he writes about his favorite form of energy resource production, fracking, critical thinking disappears.

Actually, I was happy to be given the chance to write about something other than energy and "race"/racism and got the chance at Sharon Muir's poetic Opinionator on Swan Lovers. I declared my love for my very own "Sångsvaner" (Cygnus cygnus) family at this comment:

All the troubles of the world disappear during the time I spend out there seeing what mom and dad and the 5 (surviving of 7) cygnets are up to. They are not there now having left the day the ponds were fully covered with ice. They will be back, probably in February.

Hope the occasional visitor has something similar that is so health giving.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Must Start Keeping Up and Today That Means "Garbage"

I have not been keeping up and since my blog is a bit on the primitive side it does not notify me that people are actually looking and replying. So this is advance warning for 2015-01-12 that I have submitted a Letter to the Editor and a comment at Paul Krugman today that will require that later today I at least put links to my older posts about Swedish Waste to Energy systems. "Later" is made possible by the fact that I am writing at 10:48 CET but that is only 04:48 on the other side of the Atlantic. Thus I can keep working on the medical manuscripts I am reviewing and add something here later.