Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Short Walks from Bogotá

After a mad teaching rush, we are finally at Arlanda and Pontus for a refuelling stop on our way to South America. Tomorrow morning at 4:30 am local time, our Boeing 787 will touch down at El Dorado International Airport in the Fontibón district of Bogotá.

For me, all of this represents uncharted territory. To be slightly better prepared, I am reading Tom Feiling’s “Short Walks from Bogotá” even as it makes me wish we could travel for weeks rather than days but such are the constraints of being a parent with two young kids back home. Still, Colombia seems to be particularly fascinating and contradictory. While posting may be slightly delayed, I look forward to taking Rawls & Me along.


Sunday, October 28, 2018


I am just back from my first run in the snow which made me realize that I need some new equipment if I am to keep this up through the winter, in particular a pair shoes made for running on ice but also a pair of running gloves so I can stay warm during the first kilometres. While I had to keep a really slow pace, the afternoon sun definitely made it worthwhile and I could not be more excited about my coming November Project.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Globally yours

As the snow keeps falling outside, I am for the first time able to make full use of my two Elite Plus upgrade vouchers when booking tickets for Breakthrough Dialogue in June 2019. Not only that, but the itinerary I have booked will also give me a chance to check out the new airport in Istanbul which is due to open in late December this year.

Long before that however, it is time to get everything packed and read up on cities that I only know from my imagination. When I return, I will have my life’s first headlamp waiting for me in anticipation of the “Petzl Night Running 42 km” challenge in Strava.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018


With cold winds and 15 cm of snow in the forecast for tonight, I decided to head indoors for my afternoon running. Even as I am completing 6k of high intensity interval training in under 30 minutes, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I, much like Nike with their Breaking2, ultimately failed to meet my goal. What do you guys think, should I make another attempt to run a marathon in under four hours? And if so, where and when?

Once back home, I followed the Zeta trail and made some "insalata di cavolo riccio e cinque cereali" with a glass of the N.Z. house wine to celebrate that I survived my first class with the new social work students today. Already tomorrow, I have five more hours of lectures with them so I better take a moment to review my slides...

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Crispy grass

72 hours after the marathon madness in Amsterdam, I felt sufficiently recovered to head out for a slow 8k run across that “crispy grass freezing leaves to the ground”. Between today and next Wednesday when we leave for América del Sur, I have more than 20 hours scheduled in the classroom so I definitely feel the need to savour every moment of the fleeting autumn.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Day after

While I was expecting to feel a bit sore today, I did not really expect this. Just walking around campus turned out to be a Herculean task, not to mention anything involving stairs. As a little chemical consolation, I bought myself a cinnamon bun and made some Americano coffee from Lot Sixty One. Will be interesting to know how many days it will take until I am back to running again...


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Walls and fasttracks

With 1171 km of running behind me this year, it was finally time to meet my demons and the proverbial “wall”, a wall that turned out to be all too real in the end. I guess I should start with the good news though, I did finish Amsterdam Marathon 2018 in 4 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Yet, the last two, three kilometres were beyond gruesome, in fact I had to walk the very last kilometre as I entered the 1928 Olympic Stadium.

When I signed up back in May, I was unsure what group to be in so I settled for the slowest one which meant that I had to expend a lot of energy in the beginning with overtaking other runners. Running with ten thousands of other people is clearly quite different from my previous lapses around Nydalasjön but it also made the whole experience feel incredibly social and kind.  When I passed the 21.1 km marker at 1 hour and 57 minutes, I was feeling absolutely fine but once I passed 35 km, something began to happen with my body despite the steady flow of energy gels and sport drinks. Funny enough, my phone died soon after so my Strava record will forever remain incomplete.

Sitting in the lounge at Schiphol, I have now finished my third salad bowl to which I even poured up a glass of wine from South America, as a taste of what is to come in just ten days. But first, a long journey home through Stockholm and the night train to Umeå before heading up to UPL for my course on theories of learning, all assuming I can indeed walk tomorrow :-) 

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Friday, October 19, 2018


Shortly before 6 a.m., I am checked in and on my way south on this crazy mission to run 42,195 metres in under four hours.  Though it happens rarely these days, I had a stint of insomnia last night so I am feeling strangely jetlagged as I sit down on 4F and look out over the most beautiful fairy-tale landscapes covered in autumn mist.

The other day, I was watching Beto O'Rourke debate Ted Cruz over border security and immigration. While it goes without saying that I am more sympathetic to O'Rourke here, I was still struck by the fact that neither candidate seemed capable of seeing any of this from the Mexican perspective, if so even for a second. Such “global blindness” is of course nothing strange per se, after all, I have spent the better part of the last five years arguing that it explains much of what is wrong with climate policy, but still. How hard can it be to realize that we are all into this together and that greater equality and economic growth in Mexico (as well as the rest of Latin America) are ultimately the only things that can “fix the border”?


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hasselback potatoes

After the rain, the forest proved irresistible so I just had to go for a final 10k run. However, with the big race in Amsterdam just five short days away, I really have to exercise some restraint, perhaps by anchoring myself to the sofa with a new book about the philosophy hero of my teenage years, Georg Henrik von Wright.

Beyond the book, I also received my invitation to the 2019 Breakthrough Dialogue today which has the highly Stewart Brandesque-theme of “Whole Earth Discipline”. I wonder how different my teenage years would have been if I had discovered Brand rather than von Wright? Yet, as long as someone else takes care of the real world (i.e. how it used to be before the Trumpocene), it is obviously quite convenient to remain “critical” and insist on that “progress is a myth” (especially while enjoying all the material benefits of said myth, like the hasselback potatoes I just made for dinner)...


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Aunt Lucy

While nothing wrong with an old, tucked away kexchoklad, I just stumbled upon some artisanal chocolate from darkest Peru which reminded me that I will indeed be a world away in just a couple of weeks’ time. But first, with the police exams behind me, I suddenly have a moment to catch my breath and finally get some work done on my book chapter.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Apothic Red

In a time when everything is “single origin” and people tend to equate “local” with “ethical”, nothing beats an old good blend with grapes from across California. Once I have finished marking all the exams, I look forward to making acquaintance with certain other states and tentative journeys.

In a week from today I will touch down at Schiphol so after running two half marathons over the last couple of days, I have at last decided that enough is enough (funny enough there is a real marathon event here in Umeå this very weekend!).


Tuesday, October 09, 2018


While I sometimes feel like Don Quijote fighting windmills (and not only in a figurative sense), the last 24 hours have reminded me that I am not entirely alone in all this. For one thing, my friend Staffan Qvist has a new book with Joshua S. Goldstein coming out in January that seems to make an argument very similar to the one I made in my Formas grant application in the spring.

After a brutal gym session at USM, I decided to make some salmon with mascarpone for dinner, together with a wild and explosive "småparti" bottle that would be the perfect companion for any trans-Tasman flight.

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Monday, October 08, 2018

Climate Nationalism

Today, Forskartorget published a video of my talk on “Climate Nationalism” from Bokmässan. While one can always think of things that I could have clarified or stupid details (like that my jacket got stuck in my belt) that I should have noticed, I must say that I was positively surprised by the quality of the final result.

Even if tantamount to changing the course of a supertanker, I hope that, over time, more people will begin to question the methodological nationalism of climate policy discourse and start to see the bigger global picture. Unfortunately, the Left remains more or less incapable of seeing its own responsibility for causing climate denialism, or its more recent cousin, climate nihilism. Until that changes, it is not particularly surprising that we end up with “simulative environmental politics” to borrow Ingolfur Blühdorn’s classic term.

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Friday, October 05, 2018

Kasai in the sky

Running into the headwind, I follow the shoreline south, keeping an unusually fast pace as night gives way to the first morning light.

Later, with my presentation behind me, I am fourteen floors above it all in a building that did not even exist back then. A playground for the creative class; the world at once so simple and immediate.

Later again, I am afraid I made a fool of myself at the conference dinner, voicing my frustration about the normalization of racism to senior professors who, in line with the best Weimar-tradition, seem to seriously believe that "the Left is just as bad". Maybe one day I will learn to pick my fights but keeping silent also has its price.


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Ontological coherence

Leaving Umeå just before the first snow falls, I am reminded of how fond I have become of the High North and its serenity, even as I could not be more excited about the coming days in Malmö. Hopefully, I will have a chance to catch up with old friends, go for a run along the seafront and also make some progress with the 200+ exams I have to mark.

In his 1996 article in the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, Douglas Porpora concludes that he stands “unpostmodernistically with those who seek ontological coherence”. To me, part of the beauty with the social world has always been the very impossibility of such coherence, that "there is a crack in everything” to speak with Leonard Cohen and that, whatever scheme or system we come up with, there will always be contradictions and surprises.

Still, I understand that many social scientists find it stressful that the world is so messy and that our ideological lenses determine so much of what we see (and not see), at least until they consider how boring and ethically meaningless it would be to live if the social world was indeed law-like and deterministic. Nevertheless, preparing for being discussant this afternoon has forced me to think hard about issues that I rarely engage with outside my introduction classes to the philosophy of science. What always complicates these issues for me is their close association with other fundamental ontological questions about existence more generally and how the human condition should be understood in relation to any transcendental domain.

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