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Tag Archives: swedish
Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:32 am
Adventure games are there not just to entertain you but also to challenge your imagination and curiosity. Mage: The Ascension is a perfect example of a roleplaying game that will really make you think of the past, present, and the future. It is based on an interactive fiction written by Karin Tidbeck, a critically-acclaimed Swedish author whose works are in fantasy and weird fiction category.
Game is set in modern-day Sweden where you can learn and experience the social and political upheavals. Theres so much to learn about the society and the world today. What you see in the media arent always what they seem. This game will show you how difficult it is to live in a time where human consensus becomes a more dangerous battlefield than it is going to war.
In Mage: The Ascension, you are awakened to the power of True Magic. You have your beliefs but its about time you use them to your advantage and shape reality. Believe it or not, there is a secret war happening but its something subtle or maybe even unknown to other people around you. The world will only know the consequences of your actions and choices once they come into fruition.
You only need to choose which one is more important. Safety or sacrifice freedom? Decide for yourself. Its only one or the other.
Download Mage: The Ascension from the Google Play Store
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Posted: at 11:03 am
Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman produced The Seventh Seal in 1957. As with all great works of art, it still speaks as clearly to us today as it ever did to folk in its own time and place. The movie is a profound meditation on man, God, and the relationship between them. Looking at the film through existential philosophy can help draw out its main implications about the meaning of being human.
First, a short synopsis of the plot. The main character of the film is a Knight who is returning home, disillusioned and exhausted, from the Crusades. While he is resting on a beach, he runs into the figure of Deatha man dressed in a black, monkish cowl. When Death asks the Knight if hes afraid, the Knight responds: My body is afraid, but I am not. Then he challenges Death to a game of chess.
The rest of the film is just about the Knight encountering different people and trying to find some meaning with what time he has left as he continues to play for his life (with the rule that he can keep living as long the game is in progress).
The first scene itself is enough for you to see that theres something strange about this guy. When the average person runs into Death, he would probably lose his mind with fear. But this Knight stays perfectly calm, and greets Death as an old friend. So, whats going on?
The philosopher Sren Kierkegaard, whos often thought of as the father of existentialism, can help bring some insight to this situation. Kierkegaards main motto is that subjectivity is truth. Hes not looking for objective, scientific knowledge, but starts with the individual human soul, and that souls first-person experience of the world.
This point becomes clear in Kierkegaards view on the question of immortality. In his major work, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, he says:
The very moment I am conscious of my immortality, I am completely subjective, and I cannot become immortal in partnership in rotation with two other single gentlemen. Subscription collectors who produce long subscription lists of men and women who feel a need in general to become immortal receive no benefit for their trouble, because immortality is a good that cannot be obtained by bullying ones way with a long list of signatures.
As it is with immortality, so it is with God. In a way, theres no question of whether you believe in him or not. You either know that God is real or you dont, in the same way that you sense your own immortality or you dont. Its kind of like being in love, as well: if you need to ask ten of your friends if youre really in love, then the odds are, youre not. Scientific confirmation from a multitude of other gentlemen (as Kierkegaard might put it) isnt going to help. Either your soul knows or it doesnt, and thats all there is to it.
Kierkegaard would call the first kind of person the aesthetic type, and the second the ethical-religious type. The aesthetic type thinks any talk of immortality is just silly, since that kind of person cant see anything other than the surface of the world as it appears to his senses. The ethical-religious type, though, has deeper intuitions in his soul. Maybe the Knight can look Death square in the eyes because he is this type of man.
The Knight starts off in despair. He confesses: I live now in a world of phantoms, a prisoner of my own dreams. He also yells at God for making himself so difficult to understand and be sure of. According to Kierkegaard, though, most people are in a state of despairin fact, theyre so far in that they dont even realize theyre in despair. The Knights self-awareness of despair thus becomes a key step toward his redemption. The Knight spends the rest of the film overcoming this curse, trying to do a good deed and treating others with unpretentious kindness.
If you want to see why this makes the Knight special, consider a scene in the film of a brawl at some tavern. It reveals the way the average, aesthetic (as opposed to ethical-religious) person tends to conduct himself. As Death himself says: Most people give no thought to death and nothingness.
At the tavern, the whole crowd picks on a Jestera socially awkward dreamer with a kind heart. They act with collective, wanton cruelty and self-abandon (led by a morally bankrupt theologian, no less). Of course, they think nothing of this: they neither know nor care about whether they even have souls, let alone what their actions will do to their souls.
The Knight, on the other hand, befriends the Jester. By the end of the film, the Knight is able to say the following words to the Jesters wife, after her family treats him to a picnic: I will remember this moment: the stillness, the dusk, these wild strawberries, this bowl of milk. Your faces in the evening light. Ill hold this memory between my hands like a bowl of fresh milk full to the brim. Mikael asleep, Jof with his lyre. Ill try to remember what we spoke of. And it will be a sign, for mea source of great satisfaction.
Afterwards, he laughs in the face of Death. Thats his redemption, his reward, for being an ethical-religious man.
Ever since the Enlightenment, the meaning of the word God has become fuzzy. Ren Descartes is a key culprit. He developed a philosophy of reason in which God turned into nothing more than some vague and abstract ideaa premise that was needed to fix the argument, but without having any inherent value; a figure for purely logical thought.
Descartes did try to anchor his argument on the idea that this world must be real and meaningful, as opposed to some monstrous deception, because God is good. But this is weak, weak stuff. (In his defense, at least he lived long before movies such as The Matrix or The Truman Show.) In Descartes philosophy, God is just a placeholder; he might as well not exist. It makes sense, then, that many later rationalists just dropped God altogether.
This is very different from the proclamation of the Gospel, which insists the Lord is a specific, actual person: not some pie-in-the-sky abstraction, but a truly living presence. Not a figure for logical thought, but a relationship for the passionate heart. This can be called the existential, as opposed to rationalistic, conception of God. It can also be called the idea of the true God, if you believe in the Gospel; and this idea underlies the worldview of The Seventh Seal.
Kierkegaards motto that subjectivity is truth has been all but lost. A lot of people, especially millennials, have an actual belief system where they refuse to trust anything but their physical senses, or what can be verified with the scientific method. But God and immortality and love have nothing to do with the scientific method; you cant ask ten gentlemen to verify them for you.
Thats because these are not objective things. These are things you can only see for yourself, on the basis of individual, subjective courage. If we start with the premise that our souls intuitions are nothing but delusions, theres no hope of getting anywhere.
When you face Death, a vague idea isnt going to save you. Nor is the agnostic weakness of saying you just dont know. Whats really needed is a living presence within the heartsomething that your soul knows to be at least as real as anything else in this world.
The Knight had that, and its why he could carry himself the way he did. Its like the presence of Death outside of him was outweighed by the presence of Life within him. Its Kierkegaards existentialism, and not Descartess rationalism, that well all need in the end, if we want any real answers to the mortal problem of meaning. Thats at least one thing to learn from Bergmans film.
Sethu A. Iyer went to school at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a freelance writer and the author of “Testament: An Invitation to Lucid Romance.”
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Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:18 am
If the reality of a relatively lacklustre air show and plane display had seen disappointment among the swelling crowds at Aero India here, it was the virtual world that came to their rescue.
While there is little doubt that air shows and display of planes were toned down compared with the last edition, the exhibition halls used cutting-edge technology to bring visitors one step closer to the cherished metal birds.
The use of virtual reality (VR), 360 degree immersible software, simulators, and mock-up displays was omnipresent in the exhibits, allowing visitors to get into the cockpits of the indigenous fighter Tejas, Lockheed Martins F-16, the civilian aircraft Saras, and the Swedish fighter Gripen.
The most popular simulator as seen with the lengthy queues was that of the virtual experiences set up for the light combat aircraft, Tejas, which had also dominated the displays and air shows.
Learning about design
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) allowed visitors to try on immersive virtual reality through head mounts where visitors can see in 360 degrees how the LCA is designed in the computer (a rough 3D sketch of the major mechanical components) and also how the finished product looks. This is a good way to show visitors how the planning occurs before even a prototype is made. Through motion tracking and haptic force feedback system (which simulates a mechanics hand), we can even test if replacing a nut or bolt will become difficult, said Shiek Nagur from the ADA.
Swedish defence company Saab, which manufactures the fighter jet Gripen, allows visitors to get into the cockpit through their VR headset.
Nearby, a cockpit mock-up of Tejas allows visitors to sit on the pilots seat and attempt to take off and fly in the virtual world. Similarly, Lockheed Martin provided a few visitors the opportunity to take F-16, a single-engine supersonic multi-role fighter aircraft, for a spin through their cockpit simulator; while HAL too has put up the simulator for the advanced Hawk, allowing those privy to experience what it is like being a Surya Kiran trainer.
For pilots, the simulator for Saras, which will be revived after nearly a decade by the National Aerospace Laboratories, provides an opportunity to fly out of HAL Airport, circle around the airport and return.
Shooting and gliding
Apart from the flights, VR headsets are being used by HAL to allow visitors to experience skydiving and paragliding. The skydiving simulators sees visitors strapped to a rotating device, with the headset projecting an experience similar to that of a free fall. Similarly, for paragliding, the visitor is strapped to a moving bed, VR headset projects the view of gliding through snow-capped valleys, and fans simulate winds.
Swedish company Saab has set up a virtual shooting zone the ground combat indoor trainer where various rifles and guns can be used in a simulated combat. Similarly, an immersive experience was set up by BEL, where a darkroom provides an opportunity to test their night-vision goggles.
Posted: at 4:17 am
When learning becomes cognition. Photograph by Agliolo Mike Getty Images/Photo Researchers RM
Spanish lender Banco Santander SA has invested in two artificial-intelligence companies, part of the financial industry’s increased focus on technology smart enough to mimic human thinking, sources familiar with the deals told Reuters.
The bank’s venture arm, Santander InnoVentures, bought stakes in Personetics Technologies, which provides automated customer service, and Gridspace, whose software can learn and interpret language the way a person would, the sources said.
The size of the investments could not be determined and the sources asked not to be named because they were not allowed to disclose the information publicly.
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The deals underscore how lenders have become more interested in using artificial intelligence for a wide variety of tasks, including hiring, spotting fraud, improving call centers and recommending products for customers.
Personetics, which has offices in New York, London and Tel Aviv, creates “chatbots” that can respond to customer questions through popular messaging platforms like Facebook’s ( fb ) Messenger. French bank Societe Generale, for instance, is using Personetics to answer queries about equity funds in its Romanian banking unit.
San Francisco-based Gridspace’s technology can be used by banks to monitor conversations between customers and employees at call centers to improve service.
Its Time to Hire a Chief AI Officer
Santander ( san ) set up its London-based InnoVentures group in 2014 to invest in young financial-technology companies that can improve its digital offerings. The division was initially allocated $100 million to invest but was given an extra $100 million in July.
It has backed more than a dozen companies so far, including automated wealth manager SigFig, Swedish payments company iZettle and Digital Asset Holdings, which develops blockchain software and is led by former JPMorgan Chase & Co ( jpm ) commodities chief Blythe Masters.
Other global banks have venture units with similar remits. Santander InnoVentures was among the most active bank-owned investors in fintech companies last year, alongside Goldman Sachs Group ( gs ) and Citigroup ( c ) , according to data by CB Insights.
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Posted: February 17, 2017 at 12:40 am
In darker corners of the internet there are growing communities of alt-right meme-machines mocking liberals and advocating white supremacy. However, recently another facet of the movement has emerged: fashwave, the musical genre where 80s electronica meets fascism.
Fashwave is essentially a subgenre of vapourwave, a creation of the early 2010s characterised by its slowed-down, lo-fi 80s A E S T H E T I C accompanied by images inspired by early computing technology and TV advertisements, simultaneously rebuking and embracing capitalist alienation. Its proximity to the latter is that at first listen you might not even realise you were hearing the product of a white nationalist (although titles such as Right Wing Death Squads and Team White do tend to give it away).
Fashwave effectively encapsulates a particular aspect of the Zeitgeist. With the roaring success of nostalgia-drenchedStranger Things last year, and the rapid rise of the political right, it is perhaps not so bizarre that the two would join forces to form the hybrid phenomenon. Indeed, one supporter declared on Twitter that what binds white nationalists together is a belief in the supremacy of the 1980s. It seems that the decade holds a special place in the hearts of alt-right members, who remember (or at least regard) it fondly as the last days of white America.
The genre is a very new one, born in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in November 2015. Leading fashwave artist Cybernazi said in an interview last year that his music was inspired by the horror the event instilled in him. This influence is evident genre-wide, with Xuriouss (another leading fashwave producer) oldest song entitled Requiem for Paris.
Leading alt-right figures have championed fashwave, describing it as the movements soundtrack. Of these the most well-known is probably Richard Spencer, the man who recently went viral for being punched in the face during the Washington DC street protests on the day of President Trumps inauguration in the middle of explaining his affinity with Pepe the Frog. The video has been repeatedly remixed online, meaning that you can now watch as Spencer is hit in time to the opening drum machine bars of New Orders Blue Monday.
Ironically, New Order is one of his favourite bands (alongside Depeche Mode) and is apparently a big influence of this new electronic genre. New Orders name has long attracted controversy and allegations of Nazi sympathies, all of which have been dismissed by its members. However, in an interview with VICEs music channel THUMP, Spencer said he thought the 80s legends were consciously or unconsciously channelling  something darker, more serious, maybe more authoritarian.
This adoption of popular culture by fascists is nothing new. It is not even the first time this kind of music has been used the Swedish far right hijacked this particular vein of 1980s synth-pop when it was contemporary. However, this is the first time support has been so seemingly concentrated on one genre. Historically punk and other musical movements have attracted a fascist following, but far right supporters in the 21st century say that these forms are dead, and that self-produced electronic music as the artistic expression of the millennial generation is the natural fit.
Modern day far-right producers still acknowledge their historical influences however. Cybernazi described fashwave as the direct heir of Futurism, and it is not difficult to see why. Futurism was an artistic movement which came out of Italy in the early 20th century, in the days of Mussolini. The genre was inspired by the great technological advances happening at that time and the violence of war.
Nowadays, instead of trains and automobiles, fascist musicians are inspired by the creative possibilities of big data and the infinite virtual world of the internets capacity to bring people together. As with the alt-right movement as a whole it is easy to get caught up in the sensation and lose sight of the true scale of fashwaves popularity. Although the concept of fashwave is attention-grabbing, its listeners can really only be found in a very select niche of the internet. Even its most popular songs have only around 50 thousand views on YouTube. The movement is undoubtedly growing; there is no denying that. But all things considered you are unlikely to stumble across it in the soundtrack to the next Stranger Things instalment any time soon.
Image: Terri Po
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Fashwave: the far-right phenomenon with Futurist forefathers – The Student
Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:47 pm
Over the weekend, Prime MinisterStefan Lofven led a Swedish delegation to Iran. Lofven was received warmly by the Islamic Republic’s political elite Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted positively about his meeting withLofven, adding that Sweden had a good reputation in Iran and the two countries agreed upon a number of trade-related deals.
Back home, however, coverage of the Swedish government delegation’s trip to Tehran has focused on something else. As Sweden’s media noted Monday, a number of female officials who joined the trip, including Trade Minister Ann Linde, chose to wear Islamic headscarves while in Iran.
According to Expressen newspaper, there were 11 women on the trip out of 15 total in the Swedish delegation. The women were photographed wearing headscarves almost all of the time they were in Iran, with the exception of a number of events that took place at the Swedish Embassy.
By law, women are required to cover theirhair and wear loose-fitting clothes when they appear in public in Iran, a country governed by a conservative Islamic elite. Many choose to wear loose-fitting hijabs, like the one worn by Linde in the picture above.
These rules require international visitors to dress modestly even if they are only in the country for a short time.
Lofven’s Swedish government describes itself as a feminist government, and it has spoken of the need for a feminist foreign policy. Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, a human rights group and frequent critic of Iran ,noted this apparent contradiction in a tweet shared Sunday night.
Masih Alinejad, a journalist and activist who started a Facebook page that invited Iranian women to share photographs of themselves without a hijab, also criticized the Swedish delegation.
By actually complying with the directives of the Islamic Republic, Western women legitimize the compulsory hijab law, Alinejad wrote on Facebook. This is a discriminatory law and it’s not an internal matter when the Islamic Republic forces all non-Iranian women to wear hijab as well.
Alinejad later shared to Facebook a recent image of Sweden’s deputy prime ministerIsabella Lovin signing a document with an all-female staff behind her. That imagerecently went viral, as many viewed it as a criticism of President Trump’s abortion policies. Trump’s words on women are worthy of condemnation; so are the discriminatory laws in Iran,Alinejad wrote.
Speaking to Expressen,Linde said she had not wanted to wear a headscarf. But it is law in Iran that women must wear the veil. One can hardly come here and break the laws, she explained.
Other Swedish politicians were more critical.Jan Bjrklund, leader of the opposition Liberals party, told Aftonbladet newspaper that the headscarf is a symbol of oppression for women in Iran and that the Swedish government should have demanded that Linde and other female members of the delegation be exempted from wearing it.
Iran’s rules on female attire often draw the ire of international visitors just last year, U.S. chess starNazi Paikidze made waves after refusing to travel to Iran to play inthe world championshipsbecause she would not wear a hijab. For female politicians, it represents a bigger challenge, however, as flouting the rules or refusing to travel to Iran could damage relations with the country.
Almost all female politicians who visit Iran cover their hair when they appear in public, but in some cases that has not stopped criticism. Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, was criticized by Iranian conservatives for wearing relatively tight clothes and a headscarf that did not cover her neck during a visit to the country in 2015.
The year before that, Italy’s then foreign minister, Emma Bonino,was reported to have briefly not worn a headscarf after arriving in the country, which resulted in a back and forth with the conservative Iranian press.
Questions over Islamic attire on diplomatic visits are not limited to Iran. In 2015, first lady Michelle Obama was pictured without a headscarf in Saudi Arabia, where conservative religious dress is customary but not required by law for foreigners. While other female dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia in the past had also chosen to not cover their hair, Obama’s attire sparked criticism on social media from a small but vocal group of Saudi conservatives.
Linde toldAftonbladetthat she will of course not be wearing a veil when she visits Saudi Arabia next month.
More on WorldViews
Some people seem to think this photo of Swedens deputy leader is trolling Trump
Swedens unsent letter to a President-elect Hillary Clinton: It is a milestone for the world
Swedens subtly radical feminist foreign policy is causing a stir
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Treatment has no sufficient effect in 1 of 5 psoriasis patients – HealthCanal.com (press release) (blog)
Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:50 pm
More than a decade ago, developments in biologics transformed the treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis by providing new ways for better skin clearance rates, low toxicity, and improved quality-of-life for patients. Nonetheless, the study led by Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf shows that despite having an ongoing systemic treatment, 18 percent of patients still had extensive psoriasis lesions and/or suffered impairment of their skin-related quality-of-life.
The study was based on PsoReg, which is the Swedish quality register for systemic treatment of psoriasis.2,646 psoriasis patients who had been receiving systemic treatment for at least three months were included in the study, which analyzed their most recent visit registered in PsoReg. Disease severity was measured either by the physicians clinical assessment and/or by the patients own assessment of their skin-related quality of life.
Compared to the larger patient group, the subgroup of patients with suboptimal therapy-response were younger and had higher BMI. They were also more often suffering from psoriasis arthritis and were more often smokers. The subgroup with higher persisting psoriasis severity also reported worse overall quality-of-life, measured with the standard evaluation method EQ-5D questionnaire.
That almost one in five patients had highly active disease activity, despite ongoing systemic treatment, is concerning, says Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf.
Based on the results, the authors make several suggestions:
Link to article in Journal of Dermatological Treatment
Journal of Dermatological Treatment, article: Real-world outcomes in 2,646 psoriasis patients: One in five has PASI 10 and/or DLQI 10 under ongoing systemic therapy. Authors: J.M. Norlin, P.S. Calara, U. Persson, and M. Schmitt-Egenolf. DOI: 10.1080/09546634.2017.1289147.
Marcus Schmitt-Egenolf, Department of Public Health & Clinical Medicine, Ume University Phone: +46 (0)90 785 2875 Email: email@example.com
Photo by Mattias Pettersson
Editor: Daniel Harju
Link to news: http://www.umu.se/english/news/.cid279166
Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:51 am
The government of Sweden has been accused of hypocrisy for attacking Donald Trumps stance on womens rights but rolling over for the oppressive regime in Iran.
Female ministers in Sweden who claim to run a feminist government gloried in viral fame earlier this month for Trump over his executive order restricting funds to pro-abortion groups.
After Trump was slammed for signing the order surrounded by men, Swedish officials staged an all-women photo as a smug rebuke to the White House.
However, just weeks later they have been accused of double standards for sucking up to Iran when they demanded government visitors wear the hijab a symbol of female oppression during a trade visit.
Swedish trade minister Ann Linde was photographed in a veil in Tehran, alongside female officials and journalists, who all had to do the same thanks to Irans Islamic modesty laws.
Activists in the country said the incident shows that Sweden is happy to put economic advantage ahead of womens rights when it suits them.
The My Stealthy Freedom campaign which records how Iranian women are arrested and beaten upby police for wearing the wrong clothes released a statement condemning the Swedish authorities:
The criticism was taken up by Swedish politicians, who attacked their government for abandoning its principles.
Amineh Kakabaveh, a Swedish MP of Iranian descent, said: Iranian women are fighting to not wear the veil. Then the feminist government representatives go and put on the veil instead taking a stand.
An article by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladetreported that the dress of Swedish female visitors was closely policed when they came on the visit.
It said: During the visit President Hassan Rouhanis staff went round the female journalists and ensured that they wore a tightly concealing shawl.
Even women from the Swedish government received instructions.
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