Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in review

The year is ending and I thought I'd sum it all up in a post.


Managed to visit these places during the year.

  • Amsterdam
  • London
  • Münich
  • St. Anton
  • Sweden
  • Palm Springs
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco (Finally got to go to Alcatraz)
  • Napa
  • Maui

Toys & Gadgets

Got the following new toys during the year.

  • BMW 335i car
  • BMW R1100R BMW motorcycle
  • Sony Ericsson K850i phone
  • Nokia N810i internet tablet
  • Two Lenovo T61p laptops (One for work and one for play)
  • Added another completely silent player for my media center for the bedroom
  • Got another IPod (This one a Nano)
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Microsoft XBox 360

Concerts & Shows

Actually managed to go to quite a few shows this year.

  • Coachella (Was sick the whole time)
  • Eddie Izzard
  • Guys & Dolls
  • Madonna
  • Coldplay
  • Above & Beyond
  • Deadmau5
  • Cirque Du Soleil Beatles Love
  • Armin van Buuren
  • London Beat
  • Foo Fighters
  • ZZ Top
  • Pagent of the Masters


Added 1852 songs, 109 movies and 2074 TV show episodes to the media center. Started listening to a bunch of lectures from The Teaching Company mostly about history, religion, science and philosophy. As always, read a bunch of books but I can't remember which without access to my book case.

Also integrated the Rockbox running IPods with my media center and with my car so I finally have a pretty sweet system for listening to music again wherever I am at.

Finally thoughts

It has generally been a great year. Also started the year single and ended it in a relationship. All in all I've had a really good 2008. Don't know what everybody is talking about that this was supposed to have been a bad year. If 2009 is as good as 2008 I should be so lucky!

Happy New Years Everybody!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Swedes, marriage and divorce

I have heard more than once that Swedes were supposed to have a really high divorce rate from Americans. This seemed odd to me from my personal experiences of my friends. In general, it has seemed to me that Americans are way more prone to be divorced than people in Sweden. However, it could just have been that the people I met tended to be divorced in the USA and not in Sweden so I decided to look it up.

I already know that in the US the divorce rate is between 43% to 50% depending on how you count it because I researched that for another blog entry on gay marriage. I found the statistics on the Swedish data on this site about regional Swedish statistics. In Sweden the divorce rate varies a lot between around 15% to almost 30%. The national average is 22.4% though. So in short if you get married in the USA you are about twice as likely to get divorced than you are in Sweden. This corresponds pretty well to my personal experience on this issue as well.

I think one of the main reasons for this difference is that in Sweden people tend to date a lot longer before they get married. I would say the average among my friends is somewhere around 7 years. And critically almost everybody have lived together for a few years before getting married. You just don't know that you can stand someone for the rest of your life until you have cohabited in my opinion. Also most people tend to change and grow a lot between the age of 20 to 30 and the chance of you wanting to spend your life with the same person when you are around 20 as when you are around 30 is pretty slim (I am not saying it doesn't happen, but it is by sense a certainty). After 30 I think most people have found out who they are and change a lot less than when you are younger. If you tend to date longer the chance of you getting married before you have finished growing (Personality wise, not physically) is smaller.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why are we even discussing bailing out the car industry?

By the time I post this the car industry bail out is probably already done. I don't understand why we are even discussing it. We're supposed to be living under a capitalist system aren't we? If the United States can't manufacture cars that people want to buy, why would we collectively keep paying companies to do it. I don't see any kind of "strategic homeland security" advantages to have a domestic car industry. And it isn't like there won't be any cars to buy, it's just that the country that makes them will not be American unless they can clean up their mess.

True there are a lot of people employed by the car industry but it isn't that many. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics around 850 thousand people are currently employed by the car and part manufacturing industry. There are also a little bit less than 2 million people involved in the retail and whole sale distribution of cars.

Granted if over 2.5 million people over night lost their work that would probably be truly catastrophic. However it is not that bad if you look closer. First of all, people would probably keep buying and repairing about the same amount of cars (People still use a lot of cars, just not American cars) which means that most of the 2 million people mentioned above will probably still be able to keep trading and repairing cars. Secondly the 850 thousand number includes US employees of non US car companies. Most of these companies are still doing fine and will not be affected. Thirdly, it isn't like all the US car companies will go defunct over night even in the worst case scenario so the immediate impact would be spread out over at least a few years. To put this in perspective we already lost over 500 thousand jobs in just the month of November here in the US also according to the same web site above.

I would argue that one of the biggest problems that the US car industry has to deal with is that a worker here costs almost 3 times as much as a Japanese car worked (And Japan is generally considered more expensive to live in than the US). Why not let the car companies go into chapter 11 bankruptcy and renegotiate their labor contracts and debt. Isn't that exactly what chapter 11 is created for. I have read somewhere that this would be very risky because car companies might not be able to get the bridge financing required to go through the restructuring process (If you can't do that you would be immediately forced into liquidation). However, if that is the case then by all means let the government guarantee that. This kind of financing is senior debt so it is what is repaid first if the restructuring fails and the company is liquidated so the government will almost certainly get it's money back.

If the government just hands over more money to the car industry now, none of the fundamental problems that the industry has would have been fixed and we would be right back to where we are now in another couple of years again. However if we do let the companies go into chapter 11 and they succeed in restructuring they might actually emerge as entities that are able to compete in the global market. And if they don't, why should we spend money trying to keep this dying industry alive any longer than necessary?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another successful Christmas party

Hosted another Christmas party. My fifth for those keeping track. It seems like everybody enjoyed themselves so I'm counting it as another great success. There were a few notable absences this year though which brings the total number of people who have attended every one of the parties down to 4 (Me, Magnus & Eriko and Doug Daniels).

It seems like my conditioning of my friends to drink Glögg is moving along nicely too. This year I bought 8 liters of it and I ran out ridiculously fast. Fortunately I had plenty of alternatives available when that occurred.

There are tons of photos taken of the event available in my photo album.

Thanks everybody who came and made it a great party and I'll hope to see you all when I get back from Sweden (If not sooner).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How you know you are addicted to gadgets

I managed to leave my phone at the doctors office this week and I realized after I got it back that while I still hadn't found it instead of freaking out that I lost my phone instead I started getting excited about which new one to get. That said I am very proud of myself I have for the first time ever managed to almost wait it out to get a new subsidized phone from my carrier (By the time I get home from Sweden I will be eligible). And I've only bought one unsubsidized one during those two years.

The annoying thing is that I still can't really find a phone I want to upgrade to. I'm hoping a sexy Android phone will be out on AT&T by the time I get back, but I'm not holding my breath. Or if a really good follow up to the one I have now (A Sony Ericsson K850i).