What's up, Europe? Gender, media and European integration. The story of a a young Dane exploring the continent.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The revolution will be blogged?

In Italy the stand-up comedian Beppe Grillo has triggered a small-scale revolution with his blog. Here he exposes and ridicules the corruption of Italian power holders and encourages the country's citizens to 'take back politics'. One of Beppe's ideas is a law that will exclude convicted felons from the Parliament. At the moment there are 23 felons in parliament and the 'Clean up Parliament!' section of Beppe's blog lists their crimes.

Beppe's very high Technorati authority is not the only evidence of a highly successful political project. The event 'V-day' (V is for 'vaffanculo', which means something like 'fuck off') earlier this month drew many many Italians into the streets to demonstrate and sign a petition for banning convicted criminals from Parliament. In one day more than 300,000 signatures were collected.

Beppe's blog has certainly led many Italians to take back politics. I am particularly fond of these statements which show how cynicism - the greatest danger to democracy - can be overcome and even be replaced by activism:

”In Parma we organised a V-bicycle ride for the whole city, everywhere we went we woke up the people with the tin-tin of our bicycle bells. No party, young and less young, there were really loads of us. Participation, interests, joy, smiles…. This was the reaction of the people…. I even brought my 10 month old son with me on the bicycle. I know it was an important day and I will be able to tell him so in the future: “Marco you don’t remember but 8 September 2007 you were there too.”

"I thought I was right wing because I love rigour, precision, enterprise, frameworks, the “good” family, because I am a businessman….. I thought I wasn’t left wing because I hate sharing with those who don’t pull up their sleeves and get on with things, because I don’t like to squash individual “talents” rather than identify people for their qualities, because those on the “left” have often offended my wish to work at school, at work, in life… NOW, after SIX HOURS of queuing in Piazza Castello in Turin, I am no longer anything… AND YET I AM EVERYTHING! I am full, full of hope, of a desire to “participate” to be involved and to involve others. I am part of the “group” of those who want to change the Spirit of the World that is our country, Italy. On Sunday I will go fishing in the lake. I haven’t done that for 15 years. I want to live….well.”

More about Beppe Grillo in The Independent and The International Herald Tribune.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Goodbye to bagpipes

The British press is probably the most Euro-skeptic in Europe - or perhaps it is more precise to limit the critique to British tabloids such as the Sun and the Daily Express. Here the so-called 'Euromyths' are more alive and kicking than anywhere else. Check out one of the many non-truths which have been published throughout recent years:


In Scotland, bagpipes recently faced the axe under rules to slash noise pollution. The EU proposal was intended to ban noises louder than 87 decibels… (The Sun 2 August 2005)


As for banning bagpipes, Scots can rest assured that their favourite musical instrument is not under threat from EU proposals on noise pollution. While new measures will come into force next year, they are designed primarily for those who work with loud machinery for a sustained period – more than 87 decibels for eight hours in a row. The law, voted on by ministers and MEPs (including those from the UK), will from 2008 cover the entertainment industry, but will apply only to workers rather than audiences.

If, in the highly unlikely event a bagpipe player is hired to play continuously for eight hours, and the noise created averaged more than 87 decibels, the employer would be obliged to carry out a risk assessment to see where changes can be made – tinkering with the acoustics in a hall to reduce echoes, for example. If that fails, personal protection such as earmuffs will need to be considered, but only as a last resort. Banning musical instruments is not an option. Guarding against hearing loss and stress, which sustained exposure to loud noise has been proven to cause, is the only thing in the pipeline here.

Check out more Euromyths at the home page of the Commission's London office or read the most recent misrepresentations in the press watch section. With comments such as "press lay bare their EU boobs" and "a lot of wrongness about correctness" the Eurocrats in London are certainly not without a sense of humour ;-)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Useless Eurocracy?

Earlier this year The Independent published a list of 50 things which the EU has done for Britain and the Brits. Quite a lot of the benefits are applicable to the cases of other European countries. Here is an excerpt:

1. The end of war between European nations
While rows between England, France and Germany have been a feature of EU summits, war between Europe’s major powers is now unthinkable. The fact that the two world wars that shaped the last century now seem so remote is, in itself, tribute to a visionary project that has permanently changed the landscape. As the EU celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome it is clear that while the detailed topography will always be difficult to agree, it is an extraordinary achievement that we are standing on common ground.

7. Crime-busting co-operation, through Europol
This provides a clearing house for EU police forces. The police in EU member states can now use an EU arrest warrant to get suspects moved from one country to another where they will face serious charges without lengthy extradition procedures.

11. No death penalty (incompatible with EU membership)
No EU member state has the death penalty and reintroduction of capital punishment would not be compatible with EU membership. Even countries outside the EU are having to review their policies if they want to be considered for membership of the club, most notably Turkey.

Check out the full list here

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Famous feminist - every day!

As returning readers may have noticed this blog has an on-going series of famous feminists - published with varying frequency :-)

I just came across a script which will enable anyone to acquaint website visitors with a new feminist - not sporadically, as on this blog, but every day! Check out Spacefem for code and a famous feminist!

As sad as it gets

It has been almost 7 years since my stay in Switzerland. This small country gives room to some of the most beautiful spots in Europe (the Swiss alps, Lac Léman, Jungfraujoch) and I really enjoyed my year there. The capital, Bern, is still one of my favourite European cities.

But what is up with Swiss politics? To be honest I do not know a whole lot about the Swiss political situation, but I find a campaign poster like the above really disturbing.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the Swiss People's Party:

"The SVP is the right-most of the four co-governing political parties in Switzerland. It is best known for opposing Swiss membership in international organisations such as the EU and UN, and for its campaigning for tougher immigration, asylum and penal laws. The party is socially and fiscally conservative, but secular in outlook. It is in favour of traditional family values, deregulation and reduced government spending (except for the areas of domestic security, the military and agricultural support). The SVP supports the Swiss traditions of private gun ownership, armed neutrality and the national militia army and opposes most forms of international security cooperation."

Thanks to Henrik Hansen for bringing up the issue.

If I were in Denmark....

I would certainly to love to take part in this event:

"I Sverige har en ny Muhammed-krise ramt lokalavisen Nerikes Allehanda. I Danmark anholder PET terror-mistænkte, angiveligt med al-Qaeda forbindelser. Mere end nogensinde testes den nordiske presses evne til at holde tungen lige i munden. En situation, som sættes til debat under Nordisk Journalistcenters 50 års jubilæumskonference i Århus. Osama Al-Habahbeh, nordisk reporter på den arabiske tv-station, Al Jazeera, taler om pressefrihedens kulturkløft, som den afspejler sig i arabiske og skandinaviske medier i tiden efter de første Muhammed-tegninger. "

Check out the programme and register here

Sesame Street goes feminist

Found via Feministing.com. Check out the comments as well. There is an interesting discussion on post70es feminism.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The shit we buy is produced in China

FENGHUA, CHINA—Chen Hsien, an employee of Fenghua Ningbo Plastic Works Ltd., a plastics factory that manufactures lightweight household items for Western markets, expressed his disbelief Monday over the "sheer amount of shit Americans will buy.

"Often, when we're assigned a new order for, say, 'salad shooters,' I will say to myself, 'There's no way that anyone will ever buy these,'" Chen said during his lunch break in an open-air courtyard. "One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity. How can anyone have a need for such useless shit?"

May Gao of the Hong Kong-based labor-advocacy group China Labour Bulletin said complaints like Chen's are common among workers in China's bustling industrial cities.

"Last week, I took testimony from several young female workers from Shenzhen who said they were locked in a work room for 18 straight hours making inflatable Frisbees," Gao said. "Finally, the girls joined hands on the factory floor and began to chant, 'No more insane flying toys for Western pigs!' They quickly lost their jobs and were ostracized by their families, but the incident was a testament to China's growing disillusionment with producing needless crap for fat-ass foreigners."

Continued Gao: "As Chinese manufacturing and foreign investment continue to grow, and more silly novelty products are invented, we can expect to see more of these protests."

Read more at The Onion. For the record the above is not true, but nevertheless thought-provoking.

Social networks around the world

After having posted about the use of Facebook vs. MySpace I came to think of this map of social networks which a friend sent to me recently.

Eventhough Denmark is not mapped, a qualified guess is that Danes favour either Facebook or MySpace.

Facebook, MySpace and the class society

"A six-month project has exposed a class division among the American teenagers flocking to the respective sites. The research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier backgrounds and are more likely to attend higher education. By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education. "

Read the rest at the Daly Planet.

I am a Facebook user, by the way. My friends know how persistent I am in refusing to join MySpace. Not because of the class issue, but rather because MySpace is owned by Rupert Murdoch. So far Facebook is still in the hands of the person who created it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My plog my words

I just came across the expression 'blogoneer' in a report about the potential of corporate blogging. It refers to a "person who blogs with an expert or pioneering attitude". Someone who is somehow venturing out into the unknown, courageously facing the challenges of the blogosphere... or something :-)

I came across this list of blog-related expressions:

Blaudience - The readership of a blog
Blawg - A blog focusing on a commentary about the law
Blog Carnival - A blog with links to other articles
Bloggernacle - A blog written by and for Mormons
Bloggies - a blog award
Bloglet - a small blog with one or two sentences
Momosphere - A blog written by mothers
Plog - A political blog
Gulog - A blog so depressing it's as if it were written in a Soviet labour camp
Blogoneer - A person who blogs with an expert or pioneering attitude.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I am powerful

It is frequently debated in the Danish blogosphere how women are often described as victims without agency in discussions of women's rights. This tends to place feminists in a dilemma, because many women are in fact vulnerable. However, at the same time the role as victim places women in a position where they are expected to lack the agency to help themselves. Lack of power becomes inherent to being a women - and not an attribute of the difficult situations marginalized women find themselves in.

Anyone concerned with victimization should certainly take a look at CARE's 'I am powerful' campaign. The intro states:

She has the power to change her world - you have the power to help her do it

As simple as that.

Those interested can support the campaign on Facebook or make a statement (or donation) on the campaign website.