Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Sweden is no. 3 in Europe in the use of ethanol as a fuel for vehicles, right after France and Germany. The latter countries being quite large in comparison to Sweden, its quite an achievement. Like in many things, there is much that could be improved.

The silly part is that most of the E85 that the numerous Swedes (and me) driving an ethanol-capable car put to their tanks comes from Brazil and is made from sugar cane (EU has a special agreement on lower tariffs for Brazilian ethanol). This is fuel is a first generation ethanol-product, as in difference to second generation fuel, which is synthetic.

The great controversy usually associated to producing ethanol from plants is the risk of it replacing food crops in developing countries and thus raising food prices. Considering the fact that ethanol is much more environmentally friendly pollution-wise compared to fossils, this disadvantage has been seen as the major stumbling-block for large-scale adoption of ethanol as fuel.

So far the supply of second generation product is very limited. Finnish chain ST1 recently bought all the Shell stations in Sweden, but they have not launched their advanced second generation RE85 fuel in Sweden, which is made of waste. Yes, waste. No need to import anything, the fuel can be produced 'locally', which again reflects into the cost and environmental effect of transport etc.


And did I mention, ethanol has a higher octane rating than gasoline. This paired with an engine that is optimized for ethanol (and lets not forget turbocharging) gives results that are fun-fun. There are some prime examples of good Swedish engineering, say Saab Biopower or Koenigsegg CCXR (1020hp on ethanol!). All of this makes me glad at the fuel pump.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Man has no whale - learning Swedish

My efforts to master the Swedish language continue.

Swedish is actually very close to English, being from the same family of languages. However, translating directly yields often funny results.

Lets say:

"Man har ingen val!"

One has no whale!
One has no choice!

If man has no whale, that must be changed. Said AHAB.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Seduction of certainty

Getting it wrong

is hugely popular. The human being is a group creature, and the opinion leaders are often wrong. In any issue, the future is difficult to foresee. No-one sees the complete picture, but the seduction of certainty holds a man captive.

More advanced thinkers can do meta. Meaning that they can look the way they themselves think. If one feels strongly about some subject, or a concept, it is very rewarding to ask oneself: "Why do I feel this way?". Done properly, this simple method can reveal a lot one does not want to see. It is remarkable what a dose of sanity follows from the uncertainty caused by this.

Some people make lists on all the ways they can be fools. It can be a tough exercise, if done thoroughly. In any case, its good to keep in mind that a human being does not learn that much from failure after all. This has been scientifically proven recently.

Anyway, the good stuff comes from the feeling of success.

Now, something practical:

Watch the news and write down what feelings arise with different stories, terms and concepts presented.

Another very Swedish phenomenon: complaints via WiFi network names

The Local.se has written before about the curious Swedish phenomenon of complaining to neighbours via notes so that one does not have to face the target. This often happens in shared facilities of apartment buildings, such as laundry rooms or hallways.

These notes are usually written in a tone that is passive-aggressive. The topics range from left trash to loud marital activities.

However, Swedes have discovered a new, even more effective method: WiFi network names (TheLocal calls it "Angry note 2.0"). WiFi is used by many many people in Sweden, and if you go into a apartment building, you will usually find a bunch of them. What a way to complain!