1950s Aerial Pics of the Swedish Countryside

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Kåreholm manor on the Slätbaken inlet in Östergötland, home of my friends the Danielsson family.

In the 1950s there was a company (maybe several?) in Sweden whose business was to fly around rural areas and take aerial photographs of farms, mills, churches and small factories. Employees in pilot uniforms would then ride around in limousines and sell copies to the landowners. For an extra fee you could get yours hand-tinted by a pilot’s wife in the suburb next to Bromma airport.

The company didn’t sell the negatives, and for most sites they didn’t make a sale at all. So the company archives came to hold tens of thousands of aerial photographs of Swedish farms, most of which were never seen by anyone. But now the business has re-opened on the web. No limo this time: you just browse the site’s watermarked images and order copies of any photograph that catches your fancy. Invaluable for field archaeologists who need to know something about land use at the areal maximum of Swedish agriculture. Many of the fields in the pix are spruce plantations now.

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Weekend Fun

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Saturday me and the kids went on an unusual package tour. First we took the 1903 steam ship Mariefred from Stockholm to Mariefred, and got to visit the engine room while the machine was working. Mariefred is a small town on Lake Mälaren whose name preserves that of Pax Mariae, one of the last monasteries founded in Sweden before the Reformation. It is home to one of Sweden’s liveliest steam railroad societies which runs a narrow-gauge railroad with a plethora of lovely locomotives and wagons. We saw an amateur musical played at the old railway station, with the actors making entrances and exits by steam train! Afterwards my old buddy Jonas showed us the workshops and “hangars”. Then we had dinner within sight of Gripsholm Castle and went home, first by narrow-gauge steam train, then most of the way by one of Swedish Rail’s new-fangled double-decker passenger trains.

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Sunday we went by boat in the opposite direction: out to friends on Nämdö in the Stockholm archipelago. We’ve spent two days walking the island’s paths, enjoying the cultural landscape, the flora and fauna (snakes!), and checking out a lot of interesting archaeological sites.

And you, Dear Reader? Did you have fun over the weekend?

Daycare No More

Today is my last day as a daycare customer, provided that my views on having a third child don’t change radically one day. I’ve enjoyed the fine service of the Igelboda daycare centre for six or seven years straight, but come autumn, Juniorette will become a 0th grade schoolgirl. She’s not yet six years old but already an avid reader. And she’s an experienced public speaker after over a year as a daycare representative on the school’s environmental board. Spatially speaking, the change will be negligible as her new classroom is in another building on the same school grounds.

Libertarian Columnist Smears Sweden in the Guardian

Dear Reader Tom Stinnett alerted me to a really doom-laden article about Sweden in yesterday’s Guardian. Says Ruben Andersson (apparently a Swedish expat and anthropologist),

Sweden’s conservative coalition government has stood still as the financial crisis has engulfed the country. Jobs, social services and healthcare are eroding. The Sweden Democrats – the equivalent of the BNP – are on the rise. The social state is failing. The Swedish dream is no more. … Sweden’s homemade financial meltdown of the 1990s … finally killed off the dream. Poverty was added to the pessimism. Savage cuts hit schools, unemployment rocketed, the krona sank – leaving the social system in a disarray from which it has not recovered.

Now, I certainly don’t pretend to have a very comprehensive or updated view of the state of my country’s social security system and national economy. But I’ve lived here for decades, and I do know that our society is very far from “eroding”, “failing” and “in disarray”.

Swedish media have been discussing the uncertain future of our high-taxes, cheap social services system for about twenty years now. They have been unfailingly gloomy about it. But it still costs me only $19 to see a doctor (no, the queue is never long as Andersson claims) and $260 a month to have a child in daycare. Swedish universities still don’t charge students a fee, and anybody can still have six years’ worth of government loans to support them through their studies.

Andersson’s piece appears to be the first he’s sold to the Guardian. My impression is that in order to make the sale, Andersson fed his editor a scary interesting story that happens not to be true. His choice of words suggests that he has pretty extreme libertarian opinions that cause him to want the Swedish system to fail. He would dislike it simply on first principles even if the system showed no weaknesses whatsoever.

Psychiatric care, the source of many … scandals, has a near-medieval penchant for authoritarianism with few European equivalents. People are locked up for months for not taking medicine, given no therapy, and spat out of the system into despair and destitution. The mentally ill die in wards and in outpatient isolation. And they do not even have charities to turn to

This is bollocks. The main problem with the Swedish psychiatric care system is that out of misguided respect for their integrity, patients who can’t really take care of themselves are allowed to roam free and homeless. And note the guy’s highly suggestive love of charities. He simply doesn’t like high taxes and collective solutions. He then goes on to talk about “Sweden’s second-rate public services”, which is just a joke.

Dear Reader, to get a fair large-scale grip on current Swedish society, you shouldn’t listen to me, because I spend most of my time in the 1st Millennium AD. And you certainly shouldn’t listen to Ruben Andersson, because he is an axe-grinding anti-collectivist who is more interested in influencing society than describing it.

Hello Dear Spammer

I really like the spam letters I get with the subject line “Hello Dear”. Sometimes the spammer is even named Hello Dear. Here’s the latest example.

Hello dear
how are you today i hope that every things is OK with you as is my pleasure to contact you after viewing your profile which really interest me in having communication with you if you will have the desire with me so that we can get to know each other better and see what happened in future. i will be very happy if you can write me back for easiest communication and to know more about each other.i will send you my picture when i receive your reply,i will be waiting to hear from you as i wish you all the best for your day.
yours new friend.
Miss Faith Rashid

Miss Rashid! Hello Dear! I’m sorry, I do not “have the desire with you so that we can get to know each other better”.

Maybe I should reply to her letter, telling her “Yhneb”.