Postcard from Scandinavia

19 August 2008 at 2:34 pm 10 comments

| Dick Langlois |

Taking up Nicolai’s challenge, I offer a substance-free post in the spirit of Facebook. I am in Scandinavia, where I will have a chance to interact with both of my local co-bloggers. At the moment I am in Copenhagen, where I will participate in a Ph.D. course that Nicolai and his colleagues have organized. But I just returned from Bergen, where I met Lasse for the first time. I gave a talk at NHH and had a chance to see a bit of the city. Bergen is a beautiful place, and I was fortunate to see in it perfect weather, something I am told is rare on the rainy west coast of Norway. As I learned in the local museum, Bergen was one of four Hanseatic “office” cities (along with London, Bruges, and Novgorod), and it mainly traded salted fish and cod-liver oil — the first Norwegian oil industry — for grain products from Britain and the Baltic. I was also treated to whale meat for an appetizer at dinner last night — a politically incorrect meal in an otherwise politically correct country. (Since a whale is a mammal, it was more like beef than fish; but as it was served as a highly spiced (cooked) carpaccio, it was hard to determine the real taste: maybe just a bit gamier than beef.)

The mercantile spirit is apparently still alive and well in Scandinavia. On the Copenhagen metro a little while ago, I spotted a young Dane sporting a T-shirt depicting bars of gold and proclaiming the slogan “the original currency of kings.” I intuited immediately that this wasn’t a Ron Paul supporter but a would-be hip-hop teenager. It turns out the that the shirt is made by a company called LRG, which is lauded as an up-and-coming (American) entrepreneurial venture. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to find a place to buy one cheaply on the web: it would be great to wear for lectures on monetary policy or on inflation in the early modern period. I think I will skip the dollar-sign bling, though.

Entry filed under: - Langlois -, Ephemera.

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Per Bylund  |  19 August 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I don’t mean to be a smart Alec or anything, but you are not technically in Scandinavia if you are in Copenhagen. The region bears the name because of the Scandinavian Mountains that runs through the Scandinavian peninsula. The Mountains exist only in Norway and Sweden and – to a very limited extent – in Finland. Denmark doesn’t have any mountains at all and therefore cannot be part of Scandinavia as such; also, no part of the the Scandinavian peninsula has been Danish territory since the dissolution of the Denmark-Norway union in 1814. I admit that the way the term/label “Scandinavia” is used in English is quite confusing, though. It is so even in the Nordic languages, where lately Denmark is mysteriously included in what is referred to as Scandinavia. I would think the “Nordic countries” is a much better term, which would then include the three monarchies and two republics of northern Europe.

    Oh, I guess I was being a smart Alec after all…

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  19 August 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Wait, you’re telling us that Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland are separate countries?

  • 3. Michael F. Martin  |  19 August 2008 at 10:03 pm

    are you going to see the fjords? Two nights in balestrand this time of year can be heavenly.

  • 4. Lasse  |  20 August 2008 at 2:54 am

    Dick, thanks for a great talk and the nice post above. Actually, every time I had whale over the last ten years has been with visiting O&M bloggers (from the US). My data therefore suggest a strong relationship between O&M blogging and wanting to try politically uncorrect food (N=2). What’s the underlying mechanism, I wonder?

  • 5. Dirk Friedrich  |  20 August 2008 at 3:34 am

    I found a store with google:

  • 6. Peter Klein  |  20 August 2008 at 8:50 am

    Lasse, why don’t you tell them about the lovely baby-seal-skin hats you gave us as souvenirs?

  • 7. Lasse  |  21 August 2008 at 3:02 am

    Peter, those baby-seal-skins weren’t hats, they were seat-covers for your Hummers.

  • 8. Dain  |  21 August 2008 at 1:52 pm

    LRG stands for Lifted Research Group. Their designs are hot. They’ve been around for some time though, so I don’t know if they can be considered “up and coming”.

  • 9. rlanglois  |  21 August 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for all the nice comments. I was happy to learn about the Scandinavian mountains and about LRG — the Lifted Research Group sounds like something I want to be affiliated with. Thanks also for the link to the shirt. I had my heart set on black, but that seems to be availabe only in size 4X, a tad big even for me. Maybe I’ll break down and get a different color.

    I do want to point out that my substance-free post generated eight comments, whereas my deadly serious posts about the boundaries of the firm yaddah yaddah don’t generate any comments. I guess Nicolai was right about Facebook.

  • 10. Nicolai Foss  |  25 August 2008 at 2:20 am

    Per, It is quite possible to “technically” be in Scandinavia if you are in Copenhagen. Your definition is strictly geographical and is in actuality applied by no one. Linguists, cultural scholars, and lay people all include Denmark in Scandinavia. Whereas there is debate on e.g. whether the Faroe Islands and Iceland should be included in “Scandinavia” (e.g., under the linguistic criterion of the respective languages having their origin in Old Norse), it is unusual, to say the least, to exclude Denmark.

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