Svensk på tisdag

Swedish newspapers

Swedish newspapers

It was a reasonably busy day at work, and so, after a post-work debrief with a colleague over a chady, I’ve come home to relax in front of the television. Except there’s nothing worth watching.

And so I’ve gone online to listen around to some radio. And in particular, I’ve been listening to some Swedish radio to practising my Swedish language skills during the winter break in our classes.

One of the best things I’ve discovered, thanks to my workmate Carrie is Klartext which runs daily at 6pm on radio in Sweden and which is available via the net.

Put simply, it’s the world news in Swedish for immigrants or people learning Swedish. Thus, the style of language used is slow, clear and precise. I think it’s the equivalent to what “Voice of America” used to call “the news in special English”.

On the other hand, I’ve noticed the almost complete dominance of English language pop music on Swedish radio, these days. In the last twelve months I’ve noticed a significant change. Twelve months ago, you would have heard a fair bit of Swedish language pop as you tuned in to Sveriges radio. These days, it seems it’s either American/English pop, or Swedes singing in English.

I’m sure it’s totally in line with musical tastes in Sweden, so don’t get me wrong. If that’s what the Swedish public wants, who am I to criticise? However, I’ve always quite enjoyed listening online to Swedish pop music radio, as music is quite a good way to learn a language, because the lyrics are usually quite simple, clear, and well-articulated.

Keep it Personal

First Stop Iowa

First Stop Iowa

I learned tonight that one of the very compelling stories about the recent US presidential election was only half a story.

The way it was often portrayed was that Obama had either used grass-roots organisationsor online social networks like Facebook to mount the basis for his campaign.

I learned tonight the Obama Campaign also made 60-million “personal contacts”, mostly over the telephone, as a follow up to people joinging online groups.

Tonight Andrew and I went to see the documentary of, “First Stop Iowa” made by the Sydney-based “journalism couple”, John Barron and Rebecca Glen.

I’ve known John for several years, and Rebecca less so. I’ve known, however, both have an interest in the political process. And with a US election in the winds, they decided to travel back and forth to America to make a documentary about the election, and why, in particular, small states like Iowa are so important.

They’ve located the history of why in the 1968 assassinations of King and Kennedy, and the decision soon afterwards by the Democrats to re-organise the way in which they selected candidates for President.

What I found most surprising (and quite heartening) was the role personal contact still plays in American politics. Even though they spend hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars on the campaign for President, it mostly still comes down to personal contact, was the essential argument of the film.

That’s why, they argued Obama, Clinton, Biden and others went to the Iowa State Fair (and why Obama took his family on the dodgem cars). And that’s why everyone online registration was followed up with a phone call.

On a more systemic level, the documentary also explained how the nomination process often comes down to a group of people in a room “swapping sides” if their candidate fails to gain a 15% quota.

Like most things these days, it could have done with a bit of a chop here and there, but mostly it was a really interesting insight into a political process that’s both similar and different to our own.

Loved it!


View from Circular Quay

View from Circular Quay

Almost every time I make a visit to the Opera House or Circular Quay, I feel somewhat obliged to take a photograph.

I don’t know why exactly, but I still continue to find the place somewhat magical.

Tonight, Damo and I went to the Opera House to see Wil Anderson. It was the third time we’ve seen him, by my re-collection. The first time was excellent, the second time less so, but tonight I was re-affirmed in my enjoyment of his humour.

He’s older and wiser, it seems, after his relationship breakup, and hitting his mid 30s. He’s a lot more interested in politics, these days. And I don’t mean partisan politics, though he’s obviously he’s on the left of Australian politics. A lot of his humour, tonight, dealt with poverty, the Third World, and human rights. It wasn’t just a bunch of jokes told randomly. There was the narrative of a bloke concerned about the world, and growing up before our eyes.

“Who do you think will be here tonight?”, I asked Damien over dinner at Opera Bar. The pizza and fish were excellent by the way. Damien responded with “people who’ve grown up with him”. And Damien was pretty spot on with that analysis.

There were a few “fart jokes” here and there, like the one about the currency, “the dong”, but mostly it was a more elevated kind of humour than I remember from the last show we saw are the Opera House.

Overall, a good night.

Otherwise it was a reasonably quiet and uneventful day.