ScandiRAYvia #18: Copenhagen Sights!


Scandinavia is full of examples of great modern design, and Copenhagen is no exception.

Here’s the epic Opera House, which opened in 2005.

The Opera House that Maersk built.

The Opera House that Maersk built.

You can’t tell from here, but its physical position is part of its design.  It’s directly across the canal from and in line with the Royal Palace.  The city didn’t want it built there.  But the Chairman of Maersk (which is headquartered in Copenhagen) said, “I’m paying for it.  I get to say where it is.”


It was closed; I was sorry I didn’t get to go inside.


Then there was this very elegant office block duo near my hotel.



I saw lots of other nice things in the city.  Following is a random sampling.

I learned of this new pastime the Danish people had invented, known as “Smokebathing.”


Few people realize the yucca plant is actually Danish in origin.


The Church of our Savior, in addition to featuring the corkscrew steeple I climbed, has this out-of-control pipe organ supported by dressed-up elephants!




Nyhaven (1 of 1)











The streets were full of dashing Danes.





You should have seen him from the front.

You should have seen him from the front.




And so…

Thumbs-up to Copenhagen, which turns out to be pretty wonderful, wonderful after all.

Plus, the grocery store checkers look like this:




Coming next:  Back to Sweden, this time to Gothenburg!


ScandiRAYvia #17: Something is Radiant in the State of Denmark


What began to win me over to Copenhagen was the people.  The Danes are the happiest people in the world (seriously) and this makes the city a pleasant place to visit.

I began to see this on my Segway tour, which gave me a good overview of the old portions of the city.

Next door to the Segway place is the super-cool Downtown Copenhagen Hostel.  Now, I normally don’t talk about or even think about youth hostels that much.  I felt I’d pretty much aged out of them by the time I took my first trip to Europe at age 27.  But this place is just really groovy.  The ground floor is a large, extremely welcoming tavern, with lawn chairs lining the street and a giant bed for lounging on in one corner.  If I was twenty-two, I’d totally stay here.

Anyway, back to the Segway tour.  Our guide was a charming Estonian grad student and he guided us through many of the most important landmarks of Denmark’s capital city.  Everywhere we went I thought more and more about happy Danes.  At the Royal Palace complex we learned about how Queen Margrethe is famous for her smoking out in the plaza, and how Crown Princess Mary was an avid jogger who had coffee in the same little coffee shop most mornings.  You know, just out in public like a person.

 Note:  This is NOT my photograph.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Note: This is NOT my photograph. No copyright infringement is intended.

But that was just the window dressing.  Coming from a country where the government is so often seen as the enemy, it was once again a pleasure to see the benefits of living in a place where the government considered it’s role was to make the lives of the citizens better.

A few years ago, a large survey found the average health level of the Copenhageners to be not at all optimal.  The government began an ambitious program to encourage health and fitness.  You see evidence of this everywhere you look.

Check this out.  It’s trampolines ON THE SIDEWALK.  How fantastic is that?

[Sorry I don’t have my own photo here; not easy to get the shot when you’re whizzing by on a Segway.]

I think this emphasis on health contributes to the Danish happiness factor.  Look at these bicycles:


Forty percent of Copenhageners commute by bicycle.  As in Stockholm, the bicycle lanes are raised, smooth, ubiquitous, and separate from car and pedestrian lanes.  (Also, oddly, hardly anyone wears helmets.)  With all that aerobic exercise comes a steady endorphin flow that I’m sure helps everyone’s mood.

Here’s another reason I think the Danes are so flippin’ happy.  Check out the Rosenberg Castle Gardens:


This is about 4:00 p.m.  On a normal, sunny, weekday.  It’s not a holiday, it’s just a summer Tuesday.

Every time I come to Europe I am reminded about how the people here have a much better idea about the importance of life over work.

If you  think this means Denmark is a country of shiftless, lazy people, check again.  It has one of the strongest economies in Europe.

The City of Copenhagen has a plan to be Carbon-Neutral within a few years.

I never saw litter on the streets anywhere I went in the city.

The tour was so successful even the brutally cliche visit to the stupid Little Mermaid statue couldn’t lower my mood.  For long.

Obligatory Little Mermaid Tourist Shot

Obligatory Little Mermaid Tourist Shot

Coming next:  More Danish Delights!

Best View From Spiral Steeple (1 of 1)

ScandiRAYvia #16: If You Climb It


Since I first began my foreign travels, I have had the following informal rule:

If I can pay to climb it, I will pay and climb it.

Cathédrale_Notre-Dame_de_Paris_-_06This was true in my first European city, Paris, in 1987, when I first climbed the towers of Notre Dame (226 feet tall, finished in 1250) to commune with the gargoyles.  On that same trip, I climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa…when there were no rails!

Probably my most memorable climb was in 1989 in Sienna, Italy.  The beautiful main square of the town features the 289-feet-tall Torre del Mangia from 1348.  It stands proudly over a red scalloped Piazza like a royal scepter.  Per usual, I bought my ticket for the privilege of climbing it. Torre_del_Mangia

Like many towers, it gradually became slimmer as it got higher.  Even at its widest, it was pretty narrow.

And there was just one staircase, of course, shared by climbers going up and climbers going down.   This was not much problem near the bottom, but it got worse and worse as one approached the top.

For the last third it got very tight indeed.  The only problem with this, I happened to remember about 300 steps up, was that I am highly, highly claustrophobic.  Like, really, excrutiatingly bad.

At a certain point the tight space became so crowded I couldn’t budge.  No way up, no way down.  People crawling over me, pressing into me.  Near darkness.

It was the worst claustrophobic incident I have had in my life.  Yecchh.

Anyway, eventually made it to the top with my sanity battered and bruised but otherwise intact.


Steeple_DistanceCut to yesterday.  On my Segway tour my first day in Copenhagen, I noticed this incredible steeple:

“What is that?” I asked Rainer, our adorable Estonian grad student tour guide.

Rainer explained that it was the famous Vor Frelsers Kirke, or Church of Our Savior.

“Can you climb that tower?”


Plans for next day made.

I took the bus to Christianhavn, the lovely district across the big canal from the old part of town.  I was planning on going there anyway, as I wanted to people-watch while in Copenhagen, and I wanted to people-watch Danes, not just tourists.  Christianhavn is a real neighborhood.

I made my way to the church and dutifully paid for my entry.  And started up.

When I first climbed the towers of Notre Dame, I was twenty-seven and slim.  As I began lumbering up the 380 steps of the steeple, I reflected upon the fact that I am now fifty-five and, well, not slim.  No matter!  As I have proven over and over again, I can climb anything if you let me go at my own pace.  My recent successful scalings of Nob Hill and Pacific Heights in San Francisco attest to this fact.  So bravely up I headed.

The Church of Our Savior was finished in 1752 and the corkscrew spire is 270 feet high.

Look at that steeple again.  Notice anything odd about it?

That’s right.  The upper portion of the climb is done on the outside of the tower.  Yeah, you read that right.  This is not an outing for the acutely acrophobic.

The first third of the way was just making our way up through the first levels of the church, and the steps were pretty normal.

Good_steeple_viewThen I got to the middle portion, still inside, but narrow, very steep and very high steps.  Really almost ladders.  Ugh.  But I did fine.

Finally, the steeple.  The outside part.  The good news was that the steps were very shallow on this portion.  Almost a ramp.  Easier, step-wise.

The bad news was… did I mention that at this point I was outside?  Now, you’d think this would be no problem.  I don’t have acrophobia.  Heights rarely bother me. In fact, I have frequently found them exhilarating,  I’ve frequently described myself as acrophilic.

So crawling up the outside of a skinny, brick, 600 year old tower shouldn’t be any problem for me, right?


That's the bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark.

That’s the bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark.

At first it wasn’t.  But then the higher I got, and the narrower the tower got, and the more crowded it got, the less okay I became.

The railing to my right seemed nice and solid, but it was the only thing between me and a horrible fall.  And I was frequently pushed up against it as other tourists heading down had to pass me on the left.

Then I began to think about how old the steeple was.  Up here near the top, it was literally less than two yards wide.  Had it been retrofitted lately, I wondered?  How much strain does it put on a narrow brick tower when hundreds of tourists climb up and down each day?  Wasn’t it designed for just one or two deranged curates to ascend and descend occasionally?


The first wind farm I’ve ever seen that’s in the water! Denmark produces more power than it uses.

What if this was the day, the hour, the minute, that all this tired fourteenth-century masonry, undermined by thousands of bitter winter days and millions of heavy-footed tourists, finally decided to call it a day?  What if my desire to climb finally cost me everything?

My sense of unexpected and sudden acrophobia became sharper and sharper, but it was never quite debilitating.  I even found the fortitude to switch lenses on my camera at one point, which I assure you was no small feat.

Something that helped was that there were plenty of fellow climbers around me having a much worse time than I was.  I struck up a conversation with a nice but terrified British lady as she was heading up and I was heading down.

“If it’s any consolation,” I said gently, “It gets much narrower and scarier as you go up.”  I’m a giver.


Nice View From the Top of the Steeple

Going down the steeple was scary because, since I was on the inside now, I couldn’t hang on the railing for dear life.  The center core had nothing to hold onto.  I hadn’t realized until I started down that I’d been depending on the outside railing so much.  I was shaking a bit by the time I made it to the steep, middle, indoors  portion of the climb.

Our_Savior_1This was the steep portion, and while it wasn’t scary, it was much more dangerous going down than going up had been.  Falling was a real possibility.

I made it out alive and looked back up admiringly at the tall, skinny tower I had just conquered.  I thought back to that harrowing 1989 brick tower climb in Sienna.  Despite my fears today, I realized that I’d still take Tower Acrophobia over Tower Claustrophobia any day.

I’m glad I did it and I’ll continue climbing stuff as long as I am able to!


ScandiRAYvia #15: Ray Meets Copenhagen at Last


First Impressions

Copenhagen Train Station (1 of 1)

Note:  All of the photos in this edition, except for the title shot at the top, were taken with my phone, not my real camera.  The management regrets any inconvenience to the reader.

So.  After my big love affair with Stockholm, could my next port of call, Copenhagen, possibly compete?  This is what I was wondering as I lumbered off of the train.

Tivoli_GateOutside:  Iron gray skies and lots and lots of grim, drab, reddish brown brick.  And across the street?  The famous Tivoli Gardens, which I’d read about all my life, was not the glittering fantasy garden I’d always imagined.  It’s a hundred years old, and it feels much more like Coney Island than Epcot.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little hard on Tivoli.  But it wasn’t the glittering, shimmering fantasy land that I’d always imagined it would be.


Some of the attractions at Tivoli Gardens were renovated and modernized.  In about 1923.

Some of the attractions at Tivoli Gardens were renovated and modernized. In about 1923.

Then there was this guy.  I realize we Americans dress like slobs, but really?  A tie at an amusement park?

Tie at an Amusement Park (1 of 1)

Visually, Copenhagen, with its brown brick and flat, ancient fortress-town feel, simply cannot compete with fairy-tale, hilly, island-sprinkled Stockholm.  Frankly, very few cities could.

The park had the usual unlikely claims outside food shops:

Original?  I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Original? I do not think that word means what you think it means.


Outside the park, Copenhagen wasn’t winning my heart yet, either.

Of course, they went there:

Yeah, They Went There (1 of 1)

And why is there a statue of Danny Kaye in the middle of Copenhagen?

Danny Kaye (1 of 1)

And all that dreary brown red brick.

So was this to be my lasting impression of Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen?  It turns out all it took was a little Segway tour to begin turning me around on the Danish capital…


ScandiRAYvia #14: Stockholm Wrap-Up


This post will be short on words and heavy on pictures.

Stockholm has pretty much everything an American traveler could want.  It’s staggeringly beautiful, both in its natural setting and its layout and architecture.  It’s got a really superior public transportation system, including subway, buses, trams and boats.  It’s very tourist-friendly.  There are a million things to do, both indoors and out.  It’s populated by very attractive, friendly people who all speak beautiful English.


I’ve wanted to see the city for so many years, it’s surprising that it lived up to my expectations.  But it did.

This waterfront street is Stockholm's most expensive address.

This waterfront street is Stockholm’s most expensive address.

Through the porthole into the past.

Through the porthole into the past.

But How Are The Mens?

Swedish men tend to be cuddly and/or buff Vikings with very well groomed strawberry blond beards.  Not short, but not exceptionally tall.

Yes, this is a real thing.

Yes, this is a real thing.


I’d go back there in a minute.  Particularly for a reason I’ll tell about in a later post.

Here’s some more pictures of lovely Stockholm and its archipelago:














I have no idea who this important-looking person is.  I was too zonked that day to figure it out.

I have no idea who this important-looking person is. I was too zonked that day to figure it out.


ScandiRAYvia #13: Garbo and SCOTUS and Me


It seemed like everyone felt Friday, June 26, was going to be the big day.  The U.S. Supreme Court was running out of time to announce its decision on Obergefell vs. Hodges.

Sweden is six hours ahead of Washington, DC, so I mostly just had to stew for the first several hours of my Friday as the US slept.  By the afternoon I was on a lovely boat tour of the archipelago around Stockholm.  The boat had good wifi access, and I couldn’t stop looking at my phone.  Has it happened?  HAS IT HAPPENED?!!

It wasn’t just me.  As the afternoon approached, Facebook started going crazy with anticipation.  I started seeing “Go, SCOTUS!!” posts everywhere.  I added my two cents:


I had barely finished posting that when I got a FB message from my friend Charles:

Charles gives me the news

ZOMG.  The moment I had been waiting for, the moment so many had been waiting for, was finally here!  And I was alone on a boat in Sweden.  Now, that’s not a bad thing, and of course I realize it was a great privilege to be able to be on a boat in Sweden.


But in that moment, I really needed to celebrate. I had to talk about it.

There was a table of men in front of me who I had heard speaking English.  I interrupted their conversation, apologized and explained that I just had to tell someone the news in person.  They were very nice.  “What does this mean for you?” they asked.  “Well, all I need is a date!” I replied.

By this time Facebook was absolutely exploding with rainbows.  I soaked up all of the jubilant posts like a recently-released death camp victim let loose in a grocery store.

I had fully expected this to happen while I was on my trip, but I realized that spending the evening alone was simply not an acceptable idea.  I got back online and put out the call for help:

finding americans

My friend Joakim Zetterberg came to the rescue.  He connected me with a very nice guy named Shannon Kile.  Shannon was getting together Friday evening with “an international group of friends” and I was invited to join.

I almost didn’t go.  I got back to the hotel room, tired and glued to Facebook.  There was the President ecstatically receiving the phone call with the news about the decision!  There was the right-wing going crazy!  There were all the clever new memes detonating all over social media!  Things like this:

those funny flags

I thought, I’m just going to sit here and relax.  And soak in Facebook’s unicorn rainbow party.

Then, thank goodness, I thought, “You idiot.  You’ve been invited to join some nice Swedish gay folks to help you celebrate this incredible day.”  I showered, got dressed and headed out to join Shannon and his friends.

And what a good decision that turned out to be.  Shannon and his buddies couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming.  We toasted the SCOTUS decision over and over.  We talked about Bergman and history and America and children’s books and Stockholm.

It was also a very cool place, called Mälarpaviljongen, and it was right on the water not very far from my hotel.  It was a joint that sits on pontoons right on the water on the south shore of Kungsholmen, one of Stockholm’s major islands.

And something else really interesting happened at the bar that I’ll tell you about in a later post.

Anyway, we closed the bar down and I walked back to the hotel, exhausted but still jubilant and jazzed and jolly.

Here's the cool bar where we met (shot from the bluffs of the island of Soldermalm).

Here’s the cool bar where we met (shot from the bluffs of the island of Soldermalm).

Even though I missed my friends terribly on this special night, I was thrilled that I had been able to properly celebrate this most special of days.


ScandiRAYvia #12: Bronze Butts and Drowned Dreadnaughts… with extra photos!


The Famous Borg StatueBjorn

This heroic statue of Swedish national hero Bjorn Borg was created 137 years before he was born.  He’s depicted here at the precise moment he won his first Grand Slam in 1974.

When the statue was originally unveiled, Borg was holding a bronze tennis racquet in his right hand.  However only three months after the unveiling, the racquet was stolen by vandals.  They were not particularly intelligent vandals, and they were caught when they attempted to unload the racquet on eBay.

The two thieves were sentenced to fourteen months of the dreaded ABBADABBA, the harshest punishment the Swedish constitution allows.  ABBADABBA consists of house arrest in very comfortable conditions in a secured apartment that has speakers in every room blasting ABBA’s greatest hits twenty-four hours a day.  After the 1,539th time of hearing “Money, Money, Money,” the prisoners officially requested death by lethal injection.


Vasa Museet


The outside of the museum is stunning as well.

This place is an absolute must-see if you’re in Stockholm.  It’s the home of perhaps the worst warship ever built.  Seriously.  The Spruce Goose was a better airplane than the Vasa was warship.

I don’t know how the German ship designer Henrik Hybertsson, or “Master Henrik” got the commission, because based on what happened to the Vasa, he didn’t know shit about designing sailing ships.  Even a moron landlubber like me knows that a ship has to have enough ballast below the waterline to balance the weight above the waterline.  But this clown apparently didn’t know that.


Calling Laurie German. Calling Laurie German. We need an experienced conservator.

The ship was commissioned by King of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus, and in terms of looks at least, he got his money’s worth. The ship was spectacularly beautiful and decorated within an inch of its life.

With much pomp and celebration, the Vasa began its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628.  Since it was simply repositioning to a different spot in the harbor, it didn’t have its full complement of sailors aboard.  In fact, there were women and children on the vessel, also, as this was just a ceremonial portion of the ship’s journey.

At least it was supposed to be.  The ship hadn’t gone a thousand meters before it tipped over and sank to the bottom of the harbor.  As many as fifty people drowned.

It’s a pity that Master Henrik died before the Vasa launched.  He should have lived to suffer the consequences of designing such a lethally incompetent ship.

The cannons were salvaged fairly quickly, but after that, even though the ship was just there, ninety feet below the surface, right there in Stockholm harbor, the ship was lost.  It took modern technology to catch up in order for it to be found again, and that didn’t happen until 1959.  One of the many incredibly important things that happened that year.


Why is there a picture of Arnold as Conan in the Vasa Museet?

This began a decades-long saga of recovery.  The ship was finally hoisted to the surface in 1961.  It looked pretty good for having been underwater for 333 years, but it needed lots of work.

Two factors helped the Vasa do so well at the bottom of the harbor.  First, the Baltic waters were too cold for shipworms, which are the usual culprits for disappearing sunken wooden ships.  Second, until recent years, the waters of the Baltic were VERY polluted, and this toxic brew kept away any other microorganisms that might have nibbled on the hull.  (The waters around Stockholm are now remarkably clean.)

The most important consideration was keeping the wood of the ship from drying out. To keep this from happening, the timbers of the ship were misted with  polyethylene glycol (PEG) for seventeen years.  These conservation experts were not kidding around.

Eventually, this stunning museum was built to house the Vasa . The museum opened in 1990 and is the most visited museum in Scandinavia.  The Vasa itself is the largest restored object in history, and the work on it is ongoing.

Nuns on the Run

Nuns on the Run

Old Town Alley

Old Town Alley


ScandiRAYvia #11: Nobel Arguments are the Best Arguments


On Galma Stan, the small island that contains the Old Town, there’s a museum dedicated to Alfred Nobel and his prizes.  It didn’t sound particularly sexy, but hey, I had the Stockholm City Card, didn’t I?  So I popped in, and boy was I glad I did.  It turned out to be a very interesting place.



I took a tour with a tiny and slightly smarmy Swede who was very articulate and informative.  I learned all sort of interesting things about Mr. Nobel, including:

He never married or had any children.

He was born in Sweden, but lived most of his life in other countries (including twenty years in Russia).

95% of his fortune was left to create the foundation for his prizes.  His extended family members were not amused.

The awards, given in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and Peace, were to be given to people whose work in those fields in the past year had provided the greatest benefit to the world.

Each prize is given by a different organization.  Four of these are in Sweden, and as everyone knows, the Peace Prize is given in Norway and chosen by a Norwegian organization.  Why is this?  I had always wondered, and I thought, finally I’ll find out why!

Are you ready for the answer?  It’s kind of awesome:



We have no idea.  Seriously.  Nobel offered not a syllable of explanation in the will.  He simply ordered that the Peace Prize be given by Norway.

Of course, there are many theories, perhaps the most important being that Norway was more prominent in the international peace movement at that time than Sweden was.  But still:  We don’t know.  I like that little bit of mystery.

By the way, Nobel did not provide for the Economics Prize.  It was created later by the central bank of Sweden, given out “in memory” of Nobel, and the prize money comes from Swedish taxes, rather than the Nobel endowment.

When the tour was over, I approached our Pocket Viking tour guide with my particular pet peeve:  The Literary Prize.  That prize is given by the Swedish Academy, which happens to meet in quarters on the second floor of the very building the museum was in.

You could make a very good argument that he deserved to win.

You could make a very good argument that he deserved to win.

“SO,” I asked, “What do the folks upstairs have against writers who have actually moved a few books?  I’ll waive the requirement that it be given to a work created in the year before prize; science and even literature don’t really work that way.  BUT.  Didn’t Nobel’s will specifically state that it was to be given to the person whose work had benefited the world the most?  Wouldn’t that by definition mean the winner would be a popular writer?  Why, instead, does the Academy use the prize as an affirmative action program for obscure writers from exotic places who haven’t sold twenty books, but whose politics the Academy likes and whose work they’d like to promote?”

P.V. Tour Guide was sympathetic to my point.  I continued, “Vonnegut and Bradbury clearly did more good in the world with their work than the people the Academy hands out the prize to.  It’s clearly in violation of Nobel’s will.”

Turns out that, regarding Alfred Nobel’s will, I’m a Strict Constructionist.

NOTE:  The image at the top of this post is of a very sweet crowd that had gathered to greet me as I left the Nobel Museet, which is the background.  After a taxing three hours signing autographs, handing out advice, and kissing babies and boyfriends, I had to beg off.  One does need one’s rest and a modicum of privacy.

View from the bluffs of Sodermalm

ScandiRAYvia #10: The Stockholm City Card Math

Awesome Giraffe Crane

Awesome Giraffe Crane

On my first day in Stockholm, I purchased something called the Stockholm City Card.  It’s a sort of open pass to public transportation and many museums and other attractions.  Seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Now that my time in Stockholm is done, I have to say I have mixed feelings about the purchase.

The three-day version the card cost about $108.00 USD.  With that price tag, I really felt compelled to use it like crazy!  Every time I’d pull it out to use on another subway ride, or tram ride, or museum ticket, I’d recalculated in my head:  “Okay, now I’ve used it six times.  That means that I’ve paid $18 for each thing I’ve done.  Is it worth it yet?  Is it worth it yet?

I ended up going into more museums than I really should have, and spending less time just roaming around outside, which I love to do.  And besides, one of the museums I was most interested in – The New ABBA Museum (judge me if you must) – wasn’t included in the card.
IG_Old_TowerResearching my next stop, Copenhagen, I learned that it has a City Card, too, but it also has a public transportation card as well, that’s much cheaper.  Like $23 for a 48 hour pass.  That’s what I’m going to do.  Spend much less and simply enjoy roaming around the city.  If there’s a museum I really want to see, I’ll pay for it.  So there.

Update:  Turns out I didn’t even need the transport pass in Copenhagen:  I planned my activities so well I paid less than eleven dollars total for all of my running around.

Side note:  Copenhagen is noticeably less expensive than Stockholm.







ScandiRAYvia #9: Trespassers and Boogeymen


Freedom to Trespass

Here’s one of the things I most admire about Sweden:  the constitutional right of allemansrätten , or tall_dome_and_sky“freedom to roam.”  The concept is that nature belongs to everyone.  In Sweden, you can basically pick wildflowers, berries, or mushrooms anywhere, except in a private garden or right up by someone’s house.  You can also ski, hike, and ride bicycles practically anywhere, and fish or use an unpowered boat in virtually any body of water.

Can you imagine this being the case in the United States?  Can you imagine Barbara Streisand having a meltdown because hippies were picking wild sage on her Malibu compound?  Or a Texas rancher sitting by idly while a group of hikers traipsed across his land, saying hello to his cattle?

Map Boy goes where he wants.

Map Boy goes where he wants.

I imagine this entire idea would sound terribly commie/socialist to many Americans.  Perhaps that’s why I like it so.

And as long as we’re talking about how Sweden is different…

Check out this photo:


This beggar was energetically working all of Old Town the whole time I was there.  Here he’s chatting with some children.  Their parents are about thirty yards away.  Now I ask you to imagine something.

Imagine this happening in the US.

Just think about it for a moment.

If a street beggar began engaging with a group of children in Dallas, or Boise, or Atlanta, the parents would absolutely lose their shit.  There’d be screaming.  There’d be threats.  Cops and lawyers would be called.  The children would be checked over for horrible poor person diseases and taken in for counseling.  You know it’s true.

Why the difference?  In America we fetishize fear.  Fear and stupidity and ignorance go together like peanut butter, jelly and bacon.  Swedes don’t think the loaf of bread is possessed by demons or that the beggar is going to eat their children.