December 7, 1941


pearlGraphic by Samster

Taken from Writer’s Almanac

 75 years ago: The United States had frozen Japanese assets and declared an embargo on shipments of petroleum and war materials to Japan. On the morning of December 7, soldiers at Pearl Harbor were learning how to use a new device called radar, and they detected a large number of planes heading toward them. They telephoned an officer, who said they must be American B-17s, and not to worry about it.

Because it was Sunday, there was a bonus ration of milk to go along with breakfast that morning. There was a sailor named James Jones in the mess hall, who later wrote From Here to Eternity (1951). He said, “It was not till the first low-flying fighter came whammering overhead with his [machine guns] going that we ran outside, still clutching our half-pints of milk to keep them from being stolen.”

The Japanese planes dropped bombs and torpedoes, and ships started capsizing and sinking. Altogether, 2,390 Americans were killed. President Roosevelt got on the radio, talked for less than 10 minutes, and said that December 7th was a day that would “live in infamy.” Congress declared war the following morning, and the United States officially entered WWII.

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Joy of feeling better than the rest

and fear of being like them

yin yang trap of love and hate

both war and peace

the dance of opposites.

Where there is light

there must be dark to see

illusion—karmic dice.

As real as it can be.



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Observing Sweden – Labor

Taken from:  The Local(

laborPhoto by John Boyer

Sweden has worst skills gap in global survey

Published on: 18 Oct 2016 11:48 CET


Sweden has overtaken the United States as the country most in need of skilled workers, a recent global survey shows.

The 2016 Hays Global Skills Index shows Sweden struggling to keep up with labour market demand, with more and more employers crying out for highly skilled workers.

A total score of 6.8 puts Sweden at the top of the pile as the country with the highest labour market stress levels in a comparison of 33 skills-based economies.

“It’s a complex index but we can see that Sweden is one of the toughest places for a company to develop and grow even though the economy as a whole is currently doing quite well,” Johan Alsén, managing director of Hays Sweden, told The Local.

Sweden’s high score of 7.9 in the ‘talent mismatch’ category shows how hard it can be for employers to find the right people for the job.

This mirrors a score of 8.4 for ‘education flexibility’, with a high score indicative of an inflexible education system failing to adapt to labour market needs.

Sweden also scores 9.7 on ‘wage pressure in high-skilled industries’, a parameter seen as “indicative of the emergence of sector‑specific skills shortages (such as in engineering or technology).”

Employers in sectors with high-skilled workers should do everything they can to hold on to current staff if they don’t want to risk difficult recruitment processes and soaring wage bills, Johan Alsén said.

Construction engineers, for example, can often command huge pay rises when switching jobs in Sweden, he said.

The Swedish head of the recruitment firm, which carried out the study with Oxford Economics, also echoed the concerns of tech startups about the housing shortage and restrictions on issuing stock options.

With few solutions in sight, he worried that these bottlenecks could blunt Sweden’s competitive edge.

“In the end if you can find a country with the same or lower salary rates and better housing, then why fight to stay in Sweden?”

Employers in Sweden have scarcely masked their anger with regulators this year, with high-profile tech figures like Spotify founder Daniel Ek supporting foreign workers caught up in bureaucratic nets.

In one case, a “world class” Pakistani developer was told to leave the county because a previous employer had made an error when filling out some paperwork.

Earlier, a worker from Bangladesh was deported because he found his job through LinkedIn.

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The Bitch From Borlänge – Chapter 8

The Bitch From Borlänge

By Ellie of Cameron & Smoothy


Chapter 8


Where was I? On the sidewalk in Rosengaard with Willie The Rat. We’d just found a copy of Aftonbladet and he read a semi accurate piece about my sardine caper, before eating the rest of the paper.

“I can’t believe you did that,” I hissed. “I wanted to look for something about the kat show. We have no idea where the damn thing is.”

“My bad,” he said. “Swedish papers are some of the best tasting news. Der Spiegel is to die for, but hard to find copies.”

“So what do we do now?”

“We’ll go and ask The Hound,” he said.

“The Hound?”

“Hound of the Basketballs,” he tells me. “Used to be a player before he got into the beer habit. He knows everything that’s going on in Malmö. I know where he lives.”

*           *          *

We found him at a cheap saloon, the Dog Tired, on the wrong side of the street. He was hanging out a sidewalk window with what appeared to be a serious hangover.


“Hey basketballs!” I called. That seemed to wake him up.

“Huh? What?” he snuffed.

“We’ve got a couple questions you might know the answer to,” I told him. “Where’s the FIFI cat show held in Malmö, also when does it begin?”

“Questions are free. Answers cost bones.” He was looking straight at me—the deep pocket. Rats don’t carry paper money. Some say they eat coins.

I tossed him a crumbled twenty kroner note.

“Umm. Let me think.” He passed the twenty to a poodle who was tending bar. After a pregnant paws he said, “It’s at the Malmö Konsthall. It starts tomorrow . . . runs all weekend.”

“What’s the address?” Willie asked him.

“It’s on Johannesgatan. Not too far from Pildammsparken. Going to take the rat with you?” He asked. “Good luck with that.” The poodle brought a bowl of beer and he buried his nose in it.

“Catch you act later,” Willie told him as we left.

“We should go there now,” I said. “We need to find a good way in—and out.”

“It isn’t far—fifteen or twenty minute walk from here,” said Willie. We could get something to eat on the way. You called him Basketballs? He might have taken that the wrong way.”

“Yeah, whatever.”


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Old Age Again — Part 1

Old Age Again  — Part 1

crows-nest-1-fixedIt’s not a man cave. ‘Study’ sounds pretentious for a stairway leading up from the garage. The Crow’s Nest.

I’ve been doing repairs these last weeks. A fifty year old lamp I like that needed major work for the last 3 years. Rewiring—soldered joints, trips to the hardware store. I sewed up two small rips in the shoulders of a serviceable coat and am sorting things out, dusting and waxing . . . polishing brass and cleaning glass. Dusting and waxing takes forever.

I must have fifty or sixty tchotch·kes, (a small object that are decorative rather than strictly functional). Knives, brass pots, modestly rare coins, small statues, brass and ivory, framed photos, posters from San Francisco sixties, books and crystals. Most have travelled with me over many miles and fifty years. These things I love to look at, give me pleasure, memories that go back decades. Close to eighty now. My retrospections glow as unattended mental embers waiting for recall. Short term has shortened some, but is still functional.

This getting older thing:

At some point one begins to speculate, how many years are left? Another decade? Two? I might get lucky. On the other hand, a lot of friends have gone to the clearing much younger after living much healthier and more conservative lives. I’m ready to go, but not in a hurry. I suspect it will feel like stepping out of a crowded room . . . or maybe, simply, out. In which case there will be no disappointment at my unawakening.

crows-nest-3-fixedA more relevant speculation is this brass jar I’ve been polishing today. I enjoy the polishing. Was a sailor in another lifetime? Wrote a poem about in once.


He never feared the storms

or loss of life at sea

but oh, those boredom hours abiding

dull horizon

waiting for a breeze


days spent polishing the brass.


The jars are from the Ganges at Benares, India—early 1980’s. What will happen to them when I’m gone? Just brass jars with screw on caps. A yard sale maybe, ‘loppis’ they call them in Sweden. They may find new owners who will care for, and display, and polish, never guessing they have held the Ganges till evaporation finally retrieved—years later.

crows-nest-2A less likely fate awaits three spearheads. The largest two feet long, the smallest, three pronged, eighteen inches. These have occupied a dozen walls in these last sixty years, might be illegal here. It’s almost illegal to own sharp objects in Sweden. People won’t believe they’re real, made to be used . . . from Ethiopia—seems so unlikely. Dangerous metal. Maybe Heavy Metal fans would like them.

There’s a hook shaped knife from India where sellers used it to wack off the end of a coconut. With one quick chop, the fruit was opened. I bought the knife and a coconut and went to the beach with them. Beat on coconut as hard as I could for a half hour, but could not even crack the husk. It looked so easy when the seller did it—a skill acquired over time I suppose. I left the wounded coconut on the beach, but carried the knife back to America, and years later to Sweden.

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What should we do? – Paris Review

parisWhat should we do? The answer seems clear. We should wake up. Let this election of Donald Trump call forth a great awakening. Specifically, I call on people like me—soft white liberal upper-middle-class college types—to get off their asses, our asses, and fight. That’s what this is, a fight. If you doubt it, if you’re telling yourself (perhaps for reasons of emotional survival that are forgivable) that this is just another election, that the Republicans and the Democrats pass power back and forth in a kind of game and that only fools get overexcited, you are telling yourself a story.

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The Bitch From Borlänge – An Apology

The Bitch From Borlänge – An Apology

Postcard from Ellie:

ellie-snow-mountain-fixedI’m so sorry there has been a pause in our story. We’ve had our first snow here in Sweden and I’ve been busy tracking the wild moose and also mountain climbing. We plan to get back to the story soon, but there is so much going on and now Christmas is coming. Ak!

Postcard From Smoothy:

smooth-acrobat-fixedWell, it’s true we have been busy, but snow is really not my thing — tends to be wet and cold. Fortunately the servants have built a glassed in gym for me on the back deck and I have been working out on the katapulter even though I don’t need to worry about keeping in shape. I think it’s my turn to write a chapter and I will get to it soon.

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