Monday, January 15, 2018

The Wolf Inside

Outside a snowstorm is raging with winds gusting up to 20 m/s as I wrap up the first day of the semester. It is a day that got off to a flying start with a long-awaited notification of acceptance from the journal Global Change, Peace and Security followed by a massive seven hours of teaching. In the afternoon, I had the privilege of meeting a new group of future police officers. Looking out over the classroom, it was a bit like being back in the mirror universe or at least witnessing the aftermath of some eugenics programme. Everyone in the room looking so incredibly fit, motivated and capable.

The other week I read that, unlike some other countries, Sweden explicitly prohibits anyone with a neuropsychiatric disorder such as ADHD from becoming a police officer. At a time when the university is doing all it can to accommodate students with every possible special need, the police education unit is somehow a window into what norms that our society really has when you cut through all the discourse. Not that I am necessarily any better myself, adding another eight kilometres to my weekly treadmill routine (and no, that has nothing to do with "being healthy").

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Spinning globe

Opening the coffee package featured in my previous post, I am back on the road outside Sebastopol, CA. Sensory experiences that quickly can get the globe spinning. It is sad that some people want the world to stop. Yesterday in Svenska Dagbladet, Ann Heberlein again attacked those who are dreaming of “open borders, unlimited freedom, floating identities and relative truths”. Guess that it is me she is thinking of.

What is sad is not only that some people think that ontological permanence and stability is actually attainability but that they fail to recognize how counter-productive their proposed repressive measures would be. ISIS will not disappear by the spreading of islamophobia. No matter how small we try to make the world, the walls will eventually crack. Instead, the only realistic way forward calls for a broadening of our perspectives and the cultivation of our shared humanity.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Forecast

The Swedish postal service is not really what it used to be. But after three weeks in transit, I finally received the 2018 edition of The Forecast packed with maritime adventures in the Japanese Inland Sea, Brisbane sunshine and memories of a time when California “meant cruising up the coast with not a worry in the world”.

Academically, today marked a milestone as I finally passed 200 citations according to Google Scholar. Like many other things in the late modern winner-takes-it-all universe, 200 may seem like quite an achievement until you compare with those who have 20 000 citations… Fortunately, I will have no time to reflect on these things as another mad teaching race is just around the corner, lasting until mid-February. At least, I was able to pick up a Lee “seasonal worker blazer” at the MQ sale :-)

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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

No 18 Grand Central

After spending six hours grading student papers, I was myself graded just as the train made it into Stockholm. With the verdict being a rather encouraging “revise and resubmit”, I applied for a new visa to Russia and did what Lucky would have done, as in checking out the “co-working oasis” now housed in what used to be the main offices of the Swedish Railways. Sometimes, it is almost hilarious to think that these bubbles filled with words like “burn rate” actually exist. For the rest, I let the three pictures above speak for themselves.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Pumpkin risotto

Back at work I submitted a review to the journal Time & Society, supervised a couple of thesis students and put together an abstract for APSA in Boston. Otherwise, 2018 will be kind of a slow year in terms of conferences as I will focus most of my energy on writing grant proposals.

Tonight I made pumpkin risotto with an old favourite from New Zeeland. Of course it had me dreaming of distant shores. Though the antipodean universe will probably not feature in my 2018 travels, I already have tickets to a few new places...

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Monday, January 01, 2018

Fresh start effect

To accommodate what behavioural economists call the “fresh start effect”, my gym is staying open until 11 pm tonight. For my own part, I decided to keep it relatively sane and went for a slow 8.3 km run (the same as around the lake) on the treadmill. Still, 2018 feels like a fresh start. I am a bit reminded of January 2014 and my last semester at HUFS, a time of closure but also new horizons opening up. Eddie was only 1.5 years old then and we were on a rooftop in the United Arab Emirates. Yesterday he asked me why I only have food on my blog and not photos of him so I thought this picture would be a fun flashback.

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Onwards

Though taken out of context, I stumble upon the words of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, “if dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future”. It is the last day of 2017 and the world is still here. This year, the house champagne has been replaced by a timeless St Pancras favourite. Food wise, I went for a safe vegan bet as in the black bean, sweet potato and quinoa croquettes that I made two weeks ago to celebrate my return from the mirror universe.

In Svenska Dagbladet, the conservative party concludes the year by arguing that immigrants should be excluded from the Swedish welfare state until they have earned “their share” by working. Unsurprisingly, the social investment perspective is completely absent. What is worse is that no progressive politician dares to counter this misanthropy with a transformative vision of the future. So afraid have progressives become of “looking down on people” that they can no longer make simple qualitative distinctions or even begin to explain why, rather than having immigrants toil away as cleaners or servants for the rich, we should invest in those arriving in Sweden so that they become equally productive as those born here. Even if such investments in education would delay their entry into the labour market with five or even ten years, they are absolutely necessary to defeat the static racist worldview that has come to permeate so much of our society.

We need every mind working at its fullest potential if we are to make good on the promise of the Enlightenment and ensure a good Anthropocene. More than ever, I am convinced that our limits are political and cultural rather than ecological or technological. So, without further ado, onwards!

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Midwinter

While still less snow than in the 1993 post-apocalyptic computer game “Midwinter” when all of the planet gets covered in ice, the last days have truly put my snow shovelling skills to the test. With my childhood friend Gabriel visiting from Warsaw, the timing could not have been better. Last night, we went for a drink a Rex, trying to make sense of the political dynamics of Poland and the rest of the continent. It is so sad to see that Poland lacks a social democratic party capable of offering an alternative to reactionary nostalgia or trickle-down economics. But the same is probably true for Sweden, that our social democratic party would never be able to build the welfare state from scratch today, and that it only survives thanks to its historical legacy. What is missing is both a theoretical analysis of contemporary capitalism and a practical ambition to build a more just society.

Even when the political argument should be obvious, as when the Swedish financial minister Magdalena Andersson suggests increasing spending on preschools with a massive 20 billion SEK, there is basically no justification as to WHY this is important or any meaningful vision of where a politics of radical engagement may lead.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Short Walks from Bogotá

The neighbourhood kids are out flying with their new Christmas drone. Seeing it hovering above the snow pile made me feel like living in a sci-fi movie. When my mother was here the other week, I asked her how incomprehensible, if at all, our home would seem to someone in the 1940s. The microwave oven is after all just another oven, the induction stove just another stove and the first mechanical dishwasher was invented already in the 1850s.

I know it may sound shallow, but one thing I really appreciate with getting older is to simply be along for the ride, to see how the future unfolds, how the inherent contradictions of being human are played out in new technological contexts. Sometimes, this means disconnecting:

More seriously, the defining technological change of our time has to do with the domestication of the global. To be on the cusp of a time when we finally have to grow up and stop running away from our common humanity. The Trumps of this world are really the last desperate attempt to defend old hierarchies and patterns of domination when we should instead have the courage to turn outward and have confidence in the power of our example.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Gold List

With the cold blue sky above only interrupted by the odd Christmas flight on its way to Rovaniemi, I thought this would be a good time to put together a short list of my 2017 travel favourites, Lucky style.

Best Coffee: Nord Coast Roastery, Hamburg
Best Independent Hotel: Timber Cove, Jenner CA
Best Chained-brand Hotel: Park Hyatt, Zanzibar
Best Boutique Hotel: Hotel Brummell, Barcelona
Best Cinnamon Bun: Kioskkafé, Norfolk Place, London
Best Award Value: One-way ticket Dar es Salaam – Umeå in business class with Swiss and SAS for 27 000 Eurobonus points per person using American Express 2-4-1 voucher

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