Friday, August 31, 2018


The other day, Fredi asked me what I believe in. I guess she did not primarily mean in a religious sense but I still got somewhat taken back by her question. In the end, I think I came up with "fluidity" which is perhaps not the best answer. After all, as much as I want a world of plurality that transgresses and disrupts cultural boundaries, I also think that some measure of institutional continuity is essential. While this probably makes me sound like a true Hobbesian, there has to be a Starfleet, an authority that underwrites society’s capacity to exercise freedom. At the same time, I really want the future to be a lot like Michael Burnham (seen below). Maybe I should apologize to those unfamiliar with StarTrek but it is about imagining a world where people are not reduced to consumers or confined by solitary identities but are actively shaping the future of humanity as one common post-racial civilization.
Another way of knowing what one believes in, is to better understand what one does not believe in. In such an effort of negative theology, I stumbled upon Haim Hazan’s “Against Hybridity” in the university library. Hazan is a professor in sociology in Tel Aviv who makes a powerful moral case for a downwinger worldview oriented towards deep old age. Reading his book, I am again overwhelmed by how contradictory emancipation always is, that its benefits and costs are never equally distributed (in particular along gender lines but also temporally across generations).

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Back on track

Three days on the couch with a sore throat is way too long when your legs just want to run. Finally feeling better this morning, I put on my new Peak Performance shock orange t-shirt and headed over to Grössjön nature reserve for some soft trail running. Just like last year, I got soaked and had to slow down on slippery stones but at least I was treated to some incredible views of the lake as the sun broke through the mist.
Yesterday, I had a moment of… and here I must admit that the English language fails me, as neither “pride” nor “arrogance” cracks it (but my German is readily there with its “Hochmut”) and decided to sign up for a 10k race around Nydalasjön on Sunday. Otherwise, the coming days will be mostly work in preparation for the new semester and the 50 future police officers that await me in a week from today.


Saturday, August 25, 2018


Waking up with a sore throat yesterday, I at least found some comfort in receiving only “minor revisions” in the second round with the Journal of Political Science Education. Since it is my first journal article about teaching, it is somewhat of a new territory for me and I must say that it has felt quite liberating to not have to fight with radicalized Malthusians for once.

With the running on pause, I read an inspiring article about a girl in Malmö who has written a book about green cooking in roasting pans. Stealing one of her recipes, I made cauliflower, carrots and potatoes with chili halloumi and some green apple, mustard and honey crème fraîche on the side. Very yummy and a good way of making up for my Italian sausage sins.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018


Straying from my ethical code of conduct, I made a Midori House recipe with nduja, cherry tomatoes and sherry vinegar bucatini as a post-workout lunch. Earlier out along the lake, I realized that, with less than two months left, it is about time that I formally disclose the location of my first marathon attempt. The winner is... drum roll… Amsterdam. My reasoning behind picking the Amsterdam Marathon on the 21st of October is that it, beyond a really flat track, will probably offer rather moderate temperatures (which is important given my tendency to easily get dehydrated when running). Still, with the top contenders being Venice one week later and Palma de Mallorca one week earlier, it was not a super easy decision but ultimately logistics made Amsterdam the better choice.

Back in Umeå, the election is in full swing and, despite the temptation, I have been able to avoid engaging in any discussions with party representatives. Unlike in the classroom, I really do not like to talk politics on the street as it makes me extremely emotional in ways that I do not think are particular helpful.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Triple up

Going forward, the most difficult part of my marathon preparations will be to find the time for long runs. Given how essential these are to improve fat burning and tolerance for running with lower blood glucose levels, it is a part of my training that I cannot really compromise if I should have a realistic chance come October. As such, I decided to take some time off this morning to run three times around the lake or 24 kilometres. Beyond such long runs, I also try to hit the gym at least twice a week to build core strength to complement the running.

I am sorry for turning Rawls & Me into a running blog but politics just makes me depressed these days. With the election in Sweden less than three weeks away, I am seriously worried about where we are heading and the lack of an ideologically coherent alternative.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Mozzarella bowl

After a few minor revisions, the review of “Climate Leviathan” that I wrote earlier in the summer has now been accepted by Global Policy. As often, a month or two lends a bit of perspective and reminds me again of the importance of that favourite motto of mine, “do not be bitter, be better”.

Inspired by the latest COOP magazine, I decided to make a mozzarella bowl with red lentils, avocado and roasted sesame seeds for dinner to welcome my mother-in-law who will be here for the first week of the semester. Tomorrow, Eddie will have his first day in school (!) and, on Wednesday, it is time for the annual kick-off with the department. Outside, it is already back to +7 degrees when I go for my morning run.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

First race

After running 3-5 times per week for the last eight months, I had my fair share of jittery nerves, insomnia and possibly some random stomach bug but, after completing Tavelsjö half marathon in 1:52:39, I could not feel any better. The race offered spectacular views of the area and it felt like all of the community participated with lots of cheering and support along the track. With this behind me, my next goal will be a full marathon in October but then I will not aim for any specific time but rather just running all those 42 195 metres.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

The Moroccan Polo

When teaching, I am sometimes tempted to illustrate a specific point by showing a Youtube video. However, over the years, I have learnt the hard way to never improvise this by searching for something on Youtube in front of the class as this will inevitably reveal my browser history (which tends to include an embarrassing number of Star Trek Discovery clips).

Not that I would ever admit such a thing on my blog (blink blink) but I have recently been watching some videos by David Zaritsky on how to be a “frugal Bond”. Thanks to one of these videos and a small New Zealand producer called Magnoli Clothiers that specializes in reproducing film clothes, I have been able to get my hands on the famous navy polo shirt that Bonds wears in Morocco without having to pay hundreds of dollars for the Tom Ford original. Already when I watched Spectre in Montreal three years ago, I fell in love with this particular polo so it feels great to now have added it to my wardrobe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Despite that it is only three days left until the race, it takes all my willpower to not head out around the lake for a run. Over the summer, running has become a highly physical addiction and I must admit that I have not been very successful at leaving enough time for recovery. So, instead of breathing the crisp morning air, I am back reading new chapters in what promises to be a very good book by my long-term co-author Jonathan Symons with Polity Press.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018


The last few days have been very good. Not only did a simple power adapter for 20 EUR blow new life into my dying four-year-old laptop, Citizenship Studies also finally published the co-authored article that has given me so many headaches. Meanwhile, feeling the competition from Gabriel running around Skaryszewski Park in Warsaw, I was able to set a new PR at the gym by running 5k in 22 minutes and 15 seconds.

With a friend coming over for dinner, I decided to make a seasonal vegan pasta with chanterelles and kale. Of my three #småparti bottles, this one was perhaps the most interesting, hailing from the old Roman settlement of Carnuntum, halfway between Vienna and Bratislava along the Danube. Yesterday, I was reminded of the Eurotunnel and of all the great adventures that await later in the fall.

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Great Southern Land

I know I have an irrational weakness for any cheap marketing with an escapist flair but when Qantas gave the name “Great Southern Land” to one of their Boeing 787-9 flying the new ultra long-haul route between London and Perth, it obviously calls for an honorary mentioning. While I remain fiercely loyal to Star Alliance, I have to admit that the thought of taking that flight and checking out the new white sand coloured Perth lounge is very tempting. However, until I have a sufficient stack of Avios, I decided to at least replicate one of the lounge menu items together with a new arrival at Systembolaget, also from Western Australia.

Outside in the real world, I am becoming increasingly convinced that people voting for the Sweden Democrats, Trump and others somehow know that what they are doing is morally wrong (just like I do when I eat meat) and that is precisely the temptation. In essence, what they are being offered is an escape from reflexivity, to not have to be moral agents in a complex and ambiguous world. As such, calling out people voting for these parties as racist or sexist may paradoxically add to the allure. Or?

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Friday, August 10, 2018


While juggling two wild kids, proofreading can be a particularly challenging activity but, at last, Jon and I were able to send off the corrected proofs to Taylor & Francis. With Anna back home from her running, it was then my time to head out in the mist for the Nydala version of the morning rush, i.e. a sprint over silent sandy beaches.

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

Der Tod in Venedig

It is strange how some classics can be left unread for decades even if their intertextuality alone should have warranted immediate inclusion in the bibliography of Rawls & Me. With both kids taking a nap, I play with time to when one could stay four weeks in a hotel at the Lido. And while I did not contract cholera and stayed in Grado, I can somehow personally relate to what it means to “feeling indisposed” at the Mediterranean.

White bridge

Biking with the trailer along the river, I passed by the white bridge leading out to the airport. For some reason, that bridge has come to symbolize the world outside Umeå and, since I once took a picture of it covered in ice, I thought it deserved one in summer as well. Otherwise, from Delhi to Hamburg, the existence of that world tends to become almost inconceivable after a few weeks on the ground here in the North.
Yesterday, I went for a 18 km run with my colleague Rolf at a conversational pace which felt great after all the minute chasing. Right now, I am running about 50 kilometres per week which is like the Nydala-edition of the Oregon Project and clearly something I cannot go on doing as the semester begins. As for other and less commercial projects, I watched a short documentary about the November Project which seems like something I would love to be part of.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Nero di Lupo

When turning 40, I was given a most generous gift card for #småparti by my parents-in-law. Of the three bottles I bought, this one hails from Sicily and tastes of smoked minerals and forest raspberry. After biking 20 km and running 10 km today, a chèvre pizza from Ruccola felt well deserved (and, yes, I know, real Italians only drink beer with their pizza).

Last Thursday was “Earth Overshoot Day” and I had originally decided not to write anything about it here on Rawls & Me. After all, I prefer to laugh all the way to the replicator with Jean-Luc Picard (who, by the way, is returning to the screen) rather than engaging over and over with the same Malthusian narrow-mindness. Still, in the meantime, the usual suspects have published yet another paper, explaining why we are all going to hell in a handbasket unless we fully commit ourselves to their “resilience-building strategies”. Reading through the paper, I am again reminded of the words often misattributed to John Maynard Keynes, “it is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong”. For all their fancy modelling they completely miss the bigger picture in terms of what humanity can positively achieve as a species over the coming hundred years...

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SM trail

I have not been running hills in earnest since living in Gothenburg a decade ago so, in preparation for Tavelsjö half marathon, I decided to take the bike up to Stadsliden and its legendary “SM track” to mortify my flesh. While I missed half a kilometre of the trail due to poor signage, that was more than made up by how beautiful the forest was after the last days of rain. For the hills as such, they were less of a challenge than I thought, probably running up the Marin Headlands has skewed my standards somewhat.


Monday, August 06, 2018

Cold front

Overnight, cold and gusty winds from the northwest came down over Umeå with the temperature falling into the single digits. Still, having just installed the Strava app on my phone, the heat was on so I decided to ignore a slightly sore throat and head out around the lake.

Giving my all, I managed to keep a pace of 5:18 minutes per km which was enough to secure the impressive rank of 21 021 among Strava users completing the 10k August challenge ;-)

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Sunday, August 05, 2018

Asics Nimbus

Buying shoes in size 47 (US 12) is never easy. Sometimes, I get excited just by the fact that the store has a single pair of shoes in my size and I guess that is a bit what happened when I bought my New Balance a month ago. Though perfectly fine for running shorter distances (say 5k), I could quickly tell that they were simply not up to the task of running a full marathon, especially on asphalt. In fact, for my last half marathons I have reverted to my four years old Asics. Yet, with the Tavelsjö race coming up in less than two weeks, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new pair of Asics Nimbus.


Saturday, August 04, 2018

Insalata di farro con salsa all'arancia

With my parents here, there has been time for half marathons but also hiking expeditions around Umeå, including one to “Arboretum Norr” and the art installation “8 11”. For dinner the other night I made an old Italian favourite with black beans, oranges and some newly acquired walnuts which turned out to be a perfect match for Saint Clair Pioneer Block Viognier.

Slow summer days, still more than two weeks until it is all set in motion again. If now only The Escapist could make it across the North Sea before the vacation is over...

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Wednesday, August 01, 2018


After a morning swim in Nydalasjön and a long-awaited acceptance note from Citizenship Studies, my parents turned up and it was time to kick off my 40th birthday with a DYI Iced Americano at Costas and a stay at Hotel Mimer where we had booked a package with a six courses tasting menu.

As often in North Sweden, the quality of it all was simply incredible, in no small part thanks to the hotel's extremely knowledgeable beverage manager. Without exaggeration, this was one of the best dinners I have had in my life and it gave me a lot of ideas for things I would like to make myself at home.