The Russians

by Joel Sherwood

I went to a bandy match this weekend. A couple of the referees were Russian, and visiting from Russia to do the game. The picture below is not them. 



by Joel Sherwood

There was a piece of trash stuck in the tree outside our building. We looked at it every morning for years. And then yesterday a guy climbed the tree and cut the piece of trash down. I miss you trash. 


Freedom of the blog

by Joel Sherwood

I’ve been looking for angles to cover immigration tension in Europe. I’m an immigrant in Europe, and nationalism is simmering everywhere. Yesterday’s shootings in Paris made me reluctant to keep pursuing the topic. Too dangerous to write about. But that reaction feels wrong.

It feels as wrong to let extremism hinder 'freedom of the blog' as it is to let it prevent freedom of the press. Even for a small-time, largely unfollowed blogger in far-away Sweden, like me.

I remember I was nervous in September when I did a spoof on Sweden’s far-right party. I’m nervous about most stories I post. You never know how they'll be received. Yesterday's event reminds me I should be more worried feeling I can't post at all.

There are fears the shootings will stir up Islamophobia.  I'm nervous saying Islamophobia and the steady advance of anti-immigration politics in Europe look equally as dangerous as cartoonist killers.  But I'm glad I can say it.

The new Swedish model

by Joel Sherwood

I'm loving Swedish politics these days. The new government collapsed just before Christmas. Or so we thought. Politicians then had some glögg, caught holiday spirit and last weekend announced a drastic new agreement.

I read an article about this pact and figured there was a typo in the story. A key to the deal is no voting against government budgets...for the next eight years. Essentially carte blanche for whoever rules Sweden until 2022. No typo.

Why do this? To stop gridlock and a surging anti-immigration party. Mainstream parties are so (rightfully) against the far right party, they've willingly and collectively handcuffed their ability to oppose policy - the rest of this four-year term and all of the next one - to make sure the far right can't oppose policy either.

It's wild. But consider the rampant partisanship in the U.S. and the rise of anti-immigration parties around Europe. With that in mind, maybe this agreement is a refreshing, innovative, gutsy solution to gridlock and extremism the rest of the world should know about. Tell the world about the new Swedish model: handcuffs.

How did this happen?

by Joel Sherwood

I didn’t see this blog coming. Before this year, I’d never shared a story on Facebook because I’d never been on Facebook. Until last spring, I was uncomfortable posting a picture of myself on LinkedIn. But by summertime, I’d started up a website and a number of social media channels, and I was posting selfies on all of them - sometimes with goats or cinnamon buns.

How did this happen? The short answer is similar to why I do anything: I have no idea. But there are clues. 

For instance, I’ve always done some writing, and it felt like time to dial it up a bit. I work with social media, so there was familiarity in that department. And then there was the baby, staying home from work for six months taking care of the baby, and finding yourself with time while the baby slept to let your mind wander. Mix these together and you can end up with a blog.

Q: Still, selfies with cinnamon buns? 

A: Good point. Things have evolved. I knew there was a lot to say. I tried hard to cover topics that resonate with a wider audience. But I found I couldn't take anything I had to say too seriously. After all, it came from me. This means there was little risk in posing for selfies with goats and baked goods. Instead of why, the question became why not.

When I get nice feedback on the blog, I often hear two things: 1) they like how short the posts are; and 2) they like the videos. In other words, thank you for not writing much, and thank you for not writing at all. My reaction to this: excellent. I try to make good clips, and I try to keep posts tight and concise. But mostly I’m just glad anyone says anything nice about the blog at all. 

With 2014 ending, I want to say a huge huge thank you to everyone who read and watched my posts this year. It’s been super fun to start up and develop. For 2015, I can guess there will be much more of the same. Maybe even more videos. But as with everything else, I have no idea.