Monday, July 30, 2018

Porcini

Feeling more like myself again, I made some porcini stuffed ravioli with rosemary (unfortunately, I was out of walnuts) and went for a slow 10k run in the afternoon. It is funny but I am starting to get real withdrawal symptoms when not running for a day.

Tomorrow is four zero day which feels significantly less dramatic and meta than three zero. With a real adventure still in store for November, I plan to spend the evening here in Umeå at Artonnittiosju.

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Pratello

When passing through Copenhagen Airport yesterday, I just had to pick up another bottle of that excellent red wine from Lombardy which I bought for Sofi when visiting her in June. To keep with the theme of repetition, I decided to make a sinful exception to my vegetarian-only blog diet by making the same minced lamb with sage, lemon zest and black olives that I made for dinner back then.

Otherwise, I have spent most of the afternoon building Lego and recovering from my insane run with something as unusual as a post-shower nap. Between buying wine based on the label (even if it turned out to be a good choice) and taking naps, I am clearly not myself.

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Denmark detox

After fries, pancakes and beer in Denmark, I felt like I had to give my running one last push in July so I went for 26 km of trail running. 2438 kcal later, I am somewhat less certain if this was such a good idea in the heat, especially as the trail included a rather substantial hill. With 175 km behind me this month, I have decided to take a few days off with the running before it is time to gear up for Tavelsjö half marathon.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

SK2030

Wherever I have been in the world, there is a certain serenity in coming back to Umeå Airport and North Sweden. While still pleasant, the evening air on the tarmac had a cold undertone that reminded me that at some point even this summer will be over.

If nothing unexpected happens, I will now remain on the ground until the 3rd of October when it is time to head down to Malmö for SWEPSA.

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Atomic humanism

Looking down on the burnt fields of Sweden that are more akin to Italy at the end of summer, I think an increasingly number of people are beginning to realize that not only mitigating but adapting to climate change will require high-energy solutions. With abundant clean energy we could reduce emissions while providing mass desalination for agricultural purposes (as well as electricity for air conditioning).

Unfortunately, I think there is truth to the suggestion that the most promising source of that energy came sixty years too early. If nuclear energy was discovered today, people would have no problem recognizing it as the solution to climate change. Yet, tarnished by its military applications and decades of irrational propaganda spread by the so called environmental movement have made the future of nuclear energy most uncertain.

As such, I think we urgently need to take back the language and explain how a new form of "atomic humanism" is essential for making our planet green again.

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Travelling with children

When Eddie was still an infant, he truly travelled the world, including circumnavigating the globe twice in his first year (something I still have not done myself). Once back in Sweden, his travels dropped dramatically and has mostly consisted of domestic flights to Kalmar and Gothenburg. Still, it feels like I have learnt a thing or two about being on the road with kids. One thing I really like is that you get a different perspective on the world, you literally see the small things, and you get to experience places at the oddest of hours, especially if jetlag is involved. Among my strangest memories is coming in with 11 hours of jetlag to St Martin and walking through a casino at 3 am with a stroller. This morning in Billund, William who is well known for his early mornings got to have a moment of his own behind the curtain before waking up his brother for some plane spotting...

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Legohouse

After an epic splash with the Pirates yesterday, this morning it was time to discover Legohouse which just opened in the centre of Billund in an oversized white building. Unlike Legoland which is mostly about looking at what other people can do with Lego, Legohouse is all about interactivity and technology. With everything from Arctic robot exhibitions to a sea of bricks, we certainly had loads of fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Legoland revisited

Flying out over the Western Sea on a lightly loaded Boeing 737-600, I marvel at the fact that the little guy in the seat next to mine is about to turn six in just two days. As he keeps looking out of the window, I browse through a book I read some time ago by Katrine Marçal. While I am sure that we would have our disagreements in the real world, I am again surprised by how similar Katrine and I seem to be thinking about certain things or, perhaps more accurately, that we seem to be thinking about the same kind of things.

In just a few minutes, we will start our descent into Billund for what I am afraid has become a new tradition for Eddie's birthday. Still, seeing the joy that Legoland brings to his eyes, I would be a very callous parent if I said no. As for my own birthday tradition, it has been five years since my last visit to Ven. Unfortunately, by Tuesday when I turn 40 we will already be back in Umeå.

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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Downpour

Being the warmest summer in 260 years (that is how far back the records go), it has been 40 days since the last rain here in Umeå. Yet, finally, this morning brought thunderstorms and a heavy, drenching rain. Running 10k through the rainfall left me in a euphoric mood, despite that the forecast is still all in deep red with temperatures above 30 degrees expected to return within a day or two.

In its #småparti selection for beer, Systembolaget right now has a Lagunitas pale ale called “Born Again Yesterday” with tastes of mango and rye bread which is just perfect for light summer dinners. On a more ominous note I read an essay yesterday by Michael Lind in American Affairs which reminded me of some of the reasons why people vote for parties like the Swedish Democrats. The essay made me think that, perhaps, any serious attempt to address inequality in Sweden could well end up strengthening the very reactionary forces that it would seek to undercut, at least initially. After all, massive investments in early childhood education and attempts to accelerate the transition away from traditional gender norms would presumably lead to even stronger migration away from rural areas and frustration among the men left behind.

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Vezzo

About four years ago, I had lunch with my director of studies at Vezzo (our local Vapiano-copy) to discuss what courses I would teach during my first year in Umeå. I remember feeling thrilled about the fact that I would start off the semester with an introductory course to political philosophy. Little did I know that one of my future students would later go on to become a good friend and someone who I will dearly miss when he moves down to Lund for his MA in a few weeks’ time.

Today, we had lunch at the same restaurant which gave me a chance to hear first-hand about his impressions from his recent trip to Russia. In his view, the World Cup has given many ordinary Russians a chance to interact with foreigners, something which may ultimately end up undermining rather than strengthening Putin’s rule. Considering how profoundly the 2002 World Cup affected Korean society, I do not find this as far-fetched as it may first sound. As my friend is fluent in Russian, he obviously has a very different window into the society than I had during my brief visit back in March. Still, listening to him, I felt a strong urge to return to see more for myself.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Beirut

With the temperature well above 30 degrees in the shade and Nydalasjön slowly turning into the Med, these are strange summer days. Long awaited, I received the new Monocle travel guide to Beirut yesterday which, after exploring Tel Aviv in April, remains high up there on my bucket list for 2019.

When not dreaming of distant shores, I have been making the final revisions to my co-authored article on ecomodernist citizenship which hopefully will soon be published by Citizenship Studies. Considering that we started working on this project more than two years ago it says a lot about how long the review cycles in academia can be sometimes.

On the wine front, I was happy to find a beautiful bottle from 850 metres above the sea in New South Wales which tasted or oranges, butter pears and almond.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Heat wave

When the afternoons in Ann Arbor became unbearably hot, I used to go for a run through the arboretum. Counter-intuitive as it may sound, I found it easier to deal with heat that way than simply sitting passively and waiting for the thunderstorms to build up over the Great Lakes. Today in Umeå we are having another day with record temperatures so I thought I should try the same tactic. After 13 km of trail running and an icy cold shower, I am happy to report that it seems to have worked.

Regarding my post last night about the Helsinki meeting, I think that my friend Andreas is right that I was unduly optimistic. There are good reasons to be extremely worried about how America is turning away from democracy and the institutional framework that has made possible the greatest alleviation of material poverty in human history.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Empty sky

Just as I finished reading Malin Lindroth’s remarkable book, I heard the whining noise of a jet engine spinning up. For a split second I was everywhere from Tokyo to the Mendocino Coast.

As the plane departed for Stockholm, it left behind an empty sky. In its place, I flipped up my phone and read the news about the surreal Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki.

In a convoluted way, I am thinking that what happened in Helsinki may actually be good. In the end, I am confident that the time for feminism, emancipation and global solidarity will come as the arc of the moral universe keeps bending towards justice. But right now, reducing the risk of nuclear war may be the single most important thing that we can do if we are to take the interests of future generations seriously, and this summit seems to have done exactly that.

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Langhe

Between marathon training and William waking up at 5 am, “decadence” is not the first word that comes to mind. But with a bit of staging, a most agreeable #småparti bottle from eastern Piedmont, a fluorescent green book right off the printer and some salmon pasta salad, I let the evening sink in while the kids dream away upstairs.

Biking through Umeå earlier today, I noticed that the forest industry has launched yet another massive advertisement campaign. Whereas I guess most ads are about selling some kind of product, the purpose of this campaign remains more uncertain. I mean, it is not like there are millions of ecomodernist nerds out there who are advocating nuclear energy and deep rewilding. In fact, I have met very few people here in North Sweden who do not seem to think that it is a great idea to cut down trees at an industrial scale...

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Halloumi

One thing I like about Sweden is its openness to foreign cuisine. Unlike in Italy for instance where everything non-Italian is kept seperated as “piatto etnico”, I like the eclecticism by which ingredients from all over the world have been integrated into everyday Swedish cooking. One case in point is the Cypriot cheese halloumi which has become a true staple over the course of just a decade.

With Anna back from the British Isles, I make halloumi burgers with home-pickled red onions, roasted zucchini and tomato salsa for lunch. In nine days we are all off to Legoland but before that we plan to make the most of this incredible summer in North Sweden.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Climate Leviathan

Yesterday, I was asked by the journal Global Policy to review the book “Climate Leviathan – A political theory of our planetary future”. Since I bought the book already in January when it first came out with Verso, it is clearly a title that has sparked my interest. Still, even without Twitter, I am not overly enthusiastic about the prospects of talking sense to people who have read too much Carl Schmitt.

Nevertheless, I accepted the invitation, if nothing else in the selfish hope that I will learn something from a thorough reading of their book. Right now however, it is time to head down to the lake for a swim.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Petaluma

It is more than a year since I drove the 101 up towards Santa Rosa and passed through Petaluma, home to the Lagunitas Brewing Company. With both kids taking a nap, I retreat out on the porch with a bottle of their Down Low Ale, savouring the brief silence.

This morning I started reading different articles about “sky running” (basically running up and down mountains) that made the idea of completing a marathon or even an ultramarathon sound entirely sensible. Still, just running 10k was surprisingly tough today so I should be careful to keep my imagination somewhat in check. 

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Monday, July 09, 2018

Hammock philosopher

From Oman to Umedalen, nothing says vacation as much as a hammock. Yet, even if I try to lock out the outside noise, reading about the Swedish Greens and their new vision of national self-sufficiency in food makes me furious beyond words. In a time of Trump and resurging nationalism, I guess it just shows to what extent so called "progressives" have lost their ability to see the bigger picture...

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Glassbonden

With Anna away in Wales for a week, my mother and I decided to kick off the summer holidays by exploring a bit of the area around Umeå. After a picnic in the port of Holmsund, featuring both the ferry to Finland and the coast guard station (both immense treats when you are three and five), we took our rental car up along the Vindel River to a family farm turned ice cream parlour. As often with culture capitalism, the worst is how good it tastes...

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Thursday, July 05, 2018

Dog sled trail

After submitting a paper to a journal for review, I decided to go for another improvised half marathon around the lake. About 60% into the run however, I spotted a sign that I had never seen before, pointing to a dog sled trail which I of course had to check out. Unfortunately, the last days of rain had turned parts of the trail into a marshland so I lost quite a bit of time navigating my way through the water. Nevertheless, I feel more excited than ever about running long distances, especially as I had the wisdom of drinking a bottle of water after 10k.

Last night, I watched a bit of Real Time with Bill Maher and was struck by how hostile the tone was compared to, say, John Oliver. Though I still have to fact check these exact numbers, it was suggested that 78% of Americans do not own a gun while a small minority of seven million people own a staggering 160 million guns. If the Cold Civil War would turn hot, these are not encouraging numbers (as Michael Moore pointed out, just imagine the reaction if it had been Trump who had won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College).

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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Two Oceans

It may be the Fourth of July but, inspired by all the running success this morning, my imagination drifted away to Cape Town and the 56 km ultramarathon “Two Oceans”. While 2019 may still be too early, it would be a highly aspirational goal for 2020, especially if I could find someone to run with.

To help with the dreaming, I picked up a bottle of Spier Signature from the Western Cape for 79 SEK which, even if it is not a #småparti, is still a relatively new find at Systembolaget. Otherwise for dinner, I made some vegan chickpea burgers with peanuts, chipotle and cumin.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the German NGO “Agora Energiewende” is pushing France to close down its fleet of zero carbon nuclear reactors in an effort to make renewable energy more competitive in Europe. With the German energy transition stalling at home, it is not surprising that they want to expand the scope of the experiment in order to obfuscate how little fossil energy that renewables have actually displaced. In fact, rather than treating solar and wind as energy sources of their own, it seems more appropriate to think of them as fuel saving technologies for natural gas plants.

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10k revisited

While it would be a stretch to say that it was a breeze, I am still thrilled by the fact that running 10k in less than 50 minutes no longer seems to kill me (at 48 minutes and 38 seconds I even did it one whole minute faster than last time around). With Tavelsjö half marathon 45 short days away, I am nevertheless slightly worried that I do not leave enough time for recovery, a suggestion that would have been a bizarre joke a couple of years ago.

Overnight, new shootings happened in Örebro. Taken out of context, it is not surprising that many people fail to see how much overall violence in Sweden has decreased over time. Similarly, few people seem to recognize how much higher the levels of violence would be among “ethnic Swedes” with similar socio-economic status. Instead, I am afraid that these kinds of events will be what push Sverigedemokraterna into becoming the largest party in Sweden.

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Sunday, July 01, 2018

Scaia

To the east of Lombardy lies Veneto. This summer, ten years have passed since my last visit to Italy, something that feels incredibly strange given how often I used to go there in the past. With its rich tastes of chocolate and tobacco, I take a sip of Scaia, as if the decadence of coffee and strawberries would not be enough.

As often, I wonder who actually reads all this nonsense? Maybe no one does and it is just my own way of chronicling existence in the last decade of this century to not have a straightforward name. Soon, we will all be talking about the "early twenties" as the most natural thing in the world. Nevertheless, if you do happen to read, feel free to drop me an e-mail for suggestions of where you want me to take Rawls & Me in the months ahead.

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New Balance

With 128 km of running behind me just in June, I decided that it was finally time to upgrade my running shoes. Unfortunately, the Asics I wanted did not exist in size 47 so I had to settle for a pair of New Balance. When it comes to running shoes, comfort is obviously more important than looks.

While the neighbours were still asleep, I went for a quick run around the lake followed by an orange, carrot, ginger and chili boost. In preparation for my first marathon, I plan to run 50 km per week but I am not sure where exactly I will find the time…

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