Remarks on the Swedish Election Results of 2018

For some background see my entry from 4 September.

Parliament. The main result is that despite re-shuffling of the figures within the Left+Green and Right blocs, neither has gained a decisive upper hand. It looks like the Left+Green bloc has beat the Right bloc by only a few tenths of a percentile unit. It will be exceptionally difficult to negotiate a secure ruling coalition. No present party failed the 4% cutoff, and no new one got past it. Hate & Fear got 17.6% of the parliamentary vote, which is a bit more than in the last election but less than what the polls had us worrying about.

Stockholm county council. The Right kept their slight lead over the Left+Greens.

Nacka municipality. Again, reshuffling: the Right kept their solid lead over the Left+Greens with an unchanged seat count, but the Conservatives lost 5 out of 24 seats (on a 61-seat council) to the Centrists and Christian Democrats. No big deal for the Conservatives, I should think. Us Social Democrats kept our 11 seats, which is a considerably better result than what we saw in Parliament.

One of my main personal goals of the election season was to help push up voter turnout in my multicultural tenement housing area. We failed. In 2014, 67% of Fisksätra’s voters went to the ballot urn. In 2018, only 63% did. I’m pretty sure though that participation would have been even worse without the work we put in.

All in all, the canvassing work we’ve done over the past months gained us nothing in comparison to the 2014 election result. But it helped us hold on to most of what we had. To me personally, the most encouraging result in all this was that my kid voted for my party and ticked the box next to my name. Also, it looks like a family member of mine might just get a seat on the municipal council for another party…

I commented on the 2010 elections too.


Well-spent Summer

I’ll remember 2018 as my year of five jobs with the hottest summer I’ve seen. Here’s some of the best summer activities I devoted this frighteningly awesome season to.

  • Swimming
  • Water skiing
  • Sailing
  • Kayaking & canoeing
  • Mountain hiking
  • Geocaching
  • Topless cycling to work
  • Nocturnal cycling
  • Sight-seeing in Malmö and Copenhagen
  • Eating syllabub and raspberries off the bush
  • Sleeping outdoors
  • Dining outdoors
  • Listening to outdoor live music
  • Riding a steam boat and a steam train
  • A gaming con and a scifi con

What were your best summer activities, Dear Reader?

Five Days to the Swedish Elections

For much of this year, and from May as a paid occupation, I’ve been working for the Social Democrats towards the elections on Sunday. Swedish politics has many parties which were until recently grouped into the Left+Green bloc against the Right bloc. Each bloc had roughly half of the vote. To explain this to an American, we basically had 50% Bernie+Nader voters and 50% Democrat voters – and the Democrats were our right wing. Mainstream Republican politics have no place in Sweden.

Things changed with the growth of the Hate & Fear Party, who are xenophobic right-wing populists: the Tea Party in US terms. They got 13% of the parliamentary vote in 2014 and will probably get 20% on Sunday. These voters have moved to Hate & Fear from both of the previous blocs in roughly equal proportions. So now polls are 40% Left+Green, 40% Right, 20% Fear & Hate.

Here’s a snapshot of how I see our Social Democrat chances.

Local government: Nacka kommun. For reasons of social demography, we have never governed this affluent suburban area since its current borders were drawn in 1971. I’m optimistic about us gaining several seats here, but I would be pleasantly surprised if the Left+Green bloc actually gained the municipal council majority.

County government: Stockholm landsting (mainly organises hospitals, old-folks’ homes and public transport). The current Right bloc majority here is slim. I’m pretty confident that we will gain the upper hand.

Parliament and national government: riksdagen & regeringen. This is going to be messy. Parliament currently consists of eight parties. The cutoff to get in is 4% of the vote. (If a party gets 3.9%, then those votes are not taken into consideration.) Three parties are barely over the limit in the polls. The leading party in the polls, us Social Democrats, has only about 25%. We have been able to govern Sweden for four years together with the Greens only because the Right bloc has refused to collaborate with Hate & Fear. The rule is that the Prime Minister after Sunday is whoever doesn’t meet with enough parliamentary opposition to stop her.

As I understand things from current polls, our best chance is to form a Centrist coalition that excludes parties on the outer ends of the Left-Right axis, breaking up both of the earlier blocs. A possible alternative is that the Right bloc sticks together and makes the deal with Hate & Fear that they have refused in the past four years. A lot of Right bloc voters would be deeply ashamed of such a move.

It wouldn’t give Hate & Fear a seat at the government table, but they would definitely receive something. This has already (infamously) happened in a few local assemblies, and there Hate & Fear have proved an unreliable ally. In Gävle, for instance, Hate & Fear helped topple the Left+Green leadership but then refused to support the Right bloc’s municipal budget. Also, not only is Hate & Fear erratic as a party, but individual party representatives are also uniquely prone to flaking out on their responsibilities or quitting the party entirely. The latter usually happens because they don’t like the party line of avoiding Nazi salutes and Islamophobic comments in public.

So the situation is volatile, and it’s a really interesting parliamentary election. Meanwhile, me and my party friends are busy canvassing. Sunday will tell.

August Pieces Of My Mind #3


Starting the big windows upgrade at the summer house.

  • Facebook has made it impossible to autopost your Twitter updates into your Facebook feed. Annoying.
  • Furtive rustling in the undergrowth. Probably a blackbird.
  • Movie: The Intouchables. Paraplegic rich man’s life is brightened by a funny and energetic assistant. Grade: Good! But. The first thing you see is “This is a Weinstein picture”. And then the assistant makes unwanted sexual advances on his employer’s secretary in every single scene they both occur in through the whole movie.
  • Our OCD magpies have gone nuts today with the annoying white stones in the bird bath. Not only have they chucked them out of the bath, they’ve rolled them clear out of the yard under the garden gate!
  • AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” just absolutely blows my little noggin into the next county every time I listen to it!
  • It’s super stressful when you’re so focused on your computer that you don’t realise that you really need to take a dump. First you’re super stressed and then you feel like a moron.
  • I edited a few words out of my castles book to help the graphic designer out of a tight space.
  • I’ve long since run out of author copies of my 2011 mead-halls book, so I asked the publisher what a box of them would cost. “We’ve sold all except seven copies.” It’s about SEK 180 in the used books trade now. And its download figures are massive in comparison to similar titles.
  • School and daycare should never allow kids to paint or draw on any other format paper than A4. Such a bother to archive all these weird big sheets.
  • Movie: A Simple Plan (1998). You find several million dollars in the woods but you’re with your simpleminded brother and his drunk buddy at the time. What do you do? Grade: Good!
  • One of Stockholm’s Friendly Local Game Stores, Dragon’s Lair, got a small Neo-Nazi protest dumped in front of their older location by the police today. Because Sweden sadly does not outlaw Neo-Nazi organisations. I found out when I reached the riot fence. Now I am headed for the new DL store.
  • Stockholm’s regular steamship services are 200 years old this summer.
  • I once took my buddy to a grocery store and showed him an aubergine in order to explain what I felt would be the correct colour for his umber hulk miniature.
  • I agree with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin: a big-legged woman ain’t got no soul. Because I have a materialist worldview and nobody ain’t got no soul in my opinion.
  • There’s bwonggg-bwonggg fretless bass on Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” (1984).
  • I am receiving information of great concern, that the children of Nacka municipality are extremely focused on sports and athletics. It is clearly an important political task to ensure that our young are given meaningful alternatives to this destructive lifestyle. Our young folks need tabletop roleplaying games!
  • Classical Adam Smith liberalism would work fine if everyone was strong, smart and well informed. (And had the same parents, a friend added.)
  • Helped my ambitious Syrian neighbour vote in Sweden for the first time.
  • My metal band is going to be named Malodorous Condiment.

Wednesday night club race with Lars and Christoffer.


August Pieces Of My Mind #2


It’s been too long since I made kimchi.

  • Election season. The political posters we all post are made to withstand the weather. Immediately after we got them all up, there was a rainfall and people started ripping the posters down for rain protection. /-:
  • Article in the current Skalk describes a big sister to Ales stenar that has actually been excavated almost fully. It’s a more than 80 metres long stone ship whose last standing stones were robbed out c. 1850. And across its central space were strewn the remains of an exceptionally rich and very intensely cremated furnished burial from the Vendel Period’s first third, probably mid-500s. Just like the barrows of Old Uppsala.
  • I email some info to several hundred people, and in order to avoid “reply to all” ridiculousness I put their addresses in the blind copy box. Then this one guy replies to me with irrelevant content and in terms that reveal that he believes that he is addressing several hundred people. Intentionally trying to hitch a ride on my address database, yet failing to understand how email works.
  • Syllabub for breakfast, starkers in the garden. Good morning, everyone.
  • The MOLA Headland Infrastructure collaboration believes that the indoors part of a contract archaeologist’s necessary education takes 14 weeks. I’m not sure that they’re wrong. (from British Archaeology #164, p. 19)
  • In the Levant there’s a Pre-Pottery Neolithic. In Northern Europe there’s Pre-Neolithic pottery. (Neolithic = agriculture and ground stone tools.)
  • Two squirrels chasing each other around an oak tree and squeaking angrily.
  • I want you all to make it your #1 priority in life to take new towels from the bottom of the stack in order to cycle through them and use each one roughly equally much.
  • Vilma Hodászy Fröberg’s posthumous 1998 book about library architecture has such a good title: Ljuset och tystnaden, “Light and Silence”. Because that’s what a reader needs. Light, silence and books.
  • A memory. My buddy and I make a treasure hunt for the smaller kids. They need to chase us around to get little written clues. While we’re at it I realise that the clues contain nowhere near enough information for them to find the treasure. The whole thing fizzles.
  • Lollards laughing out loud, levellers gaining experience points.
  • Story germ: a wizard summons 15 demons to act in his vanity play that no professional theatre troupe will touch.
  • “I could care less” is a stupidly misunderstood version of the expression. Now I’ve found “Will wonders ever cease?” in a Sufjan Stevens song lyric. People shouldn’t be allowed to use language. /-:
  • Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo has recently received a PhD in mathematics from Emory. Congrats Doc!
  • Call me naïve, but I just realised that the central goal of conservatism is that rich families should stay rich long-term.
  • Weak geocaching session today. Found only four of the nine caches I attempted.

August Pieces Of My Mind #1


Fisksätra torg

  • I know you all have a general deep respect for my thoughts. But note that additionally, these are in fact august pieces of my mind.
  • DNA identifies a previously unknown second cousin to my grandpa. The guy was born out of wedlock so despite a pretty intense and sustained genealogical interest in the family, we haven’t known about him.
  • GameInformer dot com interviews my son Samuel about his high-profile Nintendo video game archaeology project. Very proud geek dad!
  • One of my tasks today is to visit a Somali mosque to talk about the importance of voting. My main line of argument is that there is one demographic category that politicians are really, really interested in catering to, and that’s people who vote.
  • Apparently water skiing on a single ski is one of those things you only need to learn once.
  • Weather suddenly and temporarily switches from drought and heat to thunder, pouring rain and centimetre hail!

July Pieces Of My Mind #3


Skydebanemuren, Copenhagen

  • Mother, there is a lady on Twitter who posts pictures of hyena poo.
  • Skydebanemuren: found an incredible neo-Gothic structure at one end of a little park. Turns out it’s one of the world’s most over-decorated bullet traps from back when the park was a rifle range.
  • Enviro-hotel equals massive ethno-kitsch overdose. The bamboo, the natural materials and the ethnic idols invite us to imagine that we’re eco-friendly tribespeople. But the leather furniture and the hunting trophies reveal that we’re actually colonial officers and administrators. And on the stereo, Norah Jones croons that she doesn’t know why she didn’t come.
  • Our hotel is next to an international women’s counselling centre and a strip club.
  • The US president is tweeting threats in all caps at the leader of Iran.
  • In A.C. Clarke’s 1961 story “Before Eden”, scientists find life near one of Venus’s poles, then dump a bag of picnic waste (paper cups, cigarette butts, possibly latrine) at the site and contaminate it irrevocably.
  • I spoke to Erik Andersson of the Fandompodden podcast about archaeology, scifi and fantasy.
  • My daughter follows several youtubers. I have now explained to her what a tuber is: a fleshy root or rhizome.
  • I just ordered the Player’s Handbook for an enthusiastic young lady who played her first D&D sesh the other day. Funnily for me, she got into D&D by listening to a podcast of people playing. I read recently that the game has never sold better than it does now!
  • Copy editing a journal paper where the author writes “this thing is interpreted as” when they mean “I interpret this thing as”. Nope, you ain’t getting away with that.
  • Dan Carlin of the excellent Hard-core History podcast says “Robinson Caruso”. Such a great singer, with an audience of one!
  • Sudden epiphany: the title of Erasure’s 1992 covers EP, Abbaesque, is a pun on “Arabesque”.

Urban cormorant settlement. It ain’t pretty, but they’re an indigenous species and the birds themselves look super cool. Fugleøen, Sortedams Sø, Copenhagen.


Sjællands Odde


Grand piano, Poul Henningsen 1931. Danish Museum of Art & Design, Copenhagen.

July Pieces Of My Mind #2


Found an unusual club house ruin while geocaching on the hill west of Nacka. It’s a roofed crevice in the bedrock.

  • Tarzan was named for the little community of Tarzana, not the other way around.
  • Holy shit! I just realised that my Kindle contains the complete searchable offline-available Oxford Dictionary. 0-:
  • Got the ranking list for the last academic job I applied for (13 months ago), the last I plan to apply for. For once I have no complaints, though I am not on the shortlist. The first two names on the list are the ones I expected to see, and solidly qualified people who deserve the job. The shortlist is also refreshingly non-ageist, dominated by much older folks than usually get lectureships.
  • A French memory. The husband of my language exchange supervisor looks North African. I ask him if he’s a Muslim (which would still be exotic to me in 1988). He says “Non, je suis chrétien”, which confuses me since I take it to mean that he’s from Crete.
  • So I hear a lot of you are wondering how I’m holding up on the purity of my sacred Germanic cultural heritage. I’ll just say this: I’ve got ONE LITRE, and believe me, I’m not making this up, ONE LITRE of gratuitous sesame oil in my kitchen.
  • In a real D&D dungeon, the inhabitants of the first room would alert all the others when the party entered. The party would have to either fight or chase 75 forewarned adversaries at once on each dungeon level.
  • Saw an Arctic loon up close for the first time today. Popped out of the lake 3-4 metres from me, grunted quietly, dove again, came up almost as close by, swam off. Such beauty!
  • Outing to Mariefred by steam boat and steam train: photos here!
  • Rode five railways and tram lines in 2½ hours on my way from Mariefred to Fisksätra.
  • There are X-ray and gamma ray pulsars too. How cool!
  • I just tried to turn the page in a paperback book by poking at the right-hand margin with my finger.
  • I’ve just signed on to work for the County Archaeologist in Linköping from mid-September to the end of the year. I’m going to take care of the Vadstena branch of the EU’s SHARE project, “Sustainable approach to cultural Heritage for the urban Areas Requalification in Europe”. Vadstena is a Late Medieval town that grew up around the mother convent of the Bridgetine Order in an area that had an extremely pronounced elite presence already from the 9th century on.
  • One of my childhood’s favourite authors has died. Thank you for the books, Christine Nöstlinger!
  • New begging method: a woman was wandering around the grocery store with a chicken, asking shoppers to buy it for her.
  • Tried some Hershey’s chocolate, did not like its indistinct taste and mushy consistency. Thought it was a Chinese knockoff. Turned out to be made in Mexico for the US market. I guess each country has its own varieties. I’m a Marabou man myself.
  • Ours is an astonishingly ugly lawn.
  • My meditating technique is based on the initiates concentrating on the sound of them waggling their own ears.

Iceni Coin Iconography Reassembled

This is cool. The Iceni tribe of East Anglia had their own Mediterranean-inspired coinage c. 50 BC to AD 60. But the coins were always smaller than the dies. In his new book, John Talbot has identified coins from the same die, photographed them with the lighting from the same relative angle, and stitched the pics together — recreating almost complete images that nobody has seen in 2000 years! (From Current Archaeology.)

July Pieces Of My Mind #1


Gift from the sea.

  • I just refrained from making an obvious lewd pun about a co-worker’s significant other. (An old buddy commented on Fb, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Martin?”)
  • Movie: Stardust (2007). Rom-com in fairytale land, aimed squarely at fans of The Princess Bride. Grade: Good fun!
  • In her 1976 poetry chapbook Walking in Cornwall, Ursula LeGuin mistakes a 1798 park folly for an oddly small Medieval castle. (Present from Birger!)
  • The music producer Mark “Flood” Ellis, who re-mixed lots of Depeche Mode songs in the 80s, got his nickname as a young studio assistant because he always made lots of tea fast for his boss. The other studio assistant was called Drought.
  • The Italian word for development, which shares the etymology of the English word, is sviluppo. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
  • As an archaeologist I don’t think in terms of art or treasure. In fact it causes my discipline major problems that other people do, because it tends to destroy archaeological context.
  • Playing soccer against people from a country with no horizontal ground just isn’t fair.
  • I keep and use found cutlery.
  • Got into an exchange about Indiana Jones and such. Several seriously worded post-colonialist comments. Realised that it’s not that I don’t agree with them, it’s that as a Swedish archaeologist working in agricultural non-Saami Sweden I just don’t give a damn.
  • Evening quiet broken by loud incessant whooshing noise. Turns out to be the cars on the nearby 60 kph road. Lots of people still driving at 22:40. *sigh*
  • I’ll remember 2018 as a varied professional year. I’ve made maps for a historical corpus project, I’ve taught high school languages, I’m currently coordinating vote canvassing, and now I’ve been offered a job in heritage management for the final months of the year. While I’ve been doing all this I’ve also been the managing editor of an academic journal. Not a one-trick pony!
  • Swedish pizza cooks are almost all male.
  • Executive producer: Philip Capice.
  • Taught wife & daughter to set fire to shit using a magnifying glass. Literally: a bird dropping full of sunflower seeds.
  • Got a comment here on the blog from someone with good self-confidence. “You have an interesting blog as I will stay connected.”
  • According to Junior, the Japanese voice in the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast jingle says “自動でお風呂を沸かします”, “Jidō de ofuro o wakashimasu”, “Heating the bath automatically”.
  • The Medieval Swedish word for the first light breach-loading artillery pieces was føglare. This was a loan from Low German and originally meant “fucker” — slang, the etymology being “birder, birding, to bird”.

Anybody played this boardgame? Is it fun?


Canoeing with the Rundkvist ladies.