Trotting the Globe with Carl Sandberg of Sweden

These keep getting longer, but Carl was much too interesting for me to cut our conversation much. I’ve now covered Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Australia, South Asia, the Middle East (on hold), and Ghana (coming soon!). South America seems like the next step. Or maybe Texas.


There are meatballs on the menu the night I sit down with Carl, but they are more than one inch in diameter and not served with lingonberry jam, and thus do not count as Swedish meatballs.

But that’s okay. Carl is Swedish enough to satisfy the rigorous VG requirements even without brown sauce or pickled cucumbers. (I’ve been craving meatballs since I began writing this blog post.) As my classmate in a course that integrated politics, economics, and philosophy, he could be relied upon to bring the Swedish perspective into any debate.

Fun fact: Sweden’s most notable philosopher, Emanuel Swedenborg, not only has Sweden in his name, but is known for claiming he’d entered the spirit world with God’s permission, starting a new branch of Christianity, and influencing such luminaries as Kant, Goethe, Borges, and Helen Keller. Johnny Appleseed—who was a real person, it turns out—was also a Swedenborgian missionary.

The Vicarious Globetrotter: Original Trilogy

I read a lot, which is not the same as being worldly. Rather than read the books of global citizens, I decided I’d talk to them directly, which is one less degree of separation. Thus, the Vicarious Globetrotter was born.

These are mid-length pieces, each of which covers a dinner conversation with a Yale international student. So far, I’ve taken secondhand journeys to Australia, Poland, Sweden, Dubai, Ghana, and India (twice). Three of these have been written up; Sweden will soon follow. Enjoy!


Monsoons, crazy mayors, and the Indian intelligentsia: A conversation with Shalmoli Halder of Calcutta

Australian accents, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and the best places to bury bodies: A conversation with Madeleine Barrow of Melbourne

Competitive theater, the Catholic Church, and BDSM jokes: A conversation with Olga Karnas of Bochnia, Poland

The Floodgates Open: Globalist Edition

My work, so far, for the Yale Globalist, in reverse chronological order.

Includes Iceland, the European Union, and diseased honeybees, in rising order of fragility. Those last two might be tied, actually.

Unity vs. Ennui: The Life and Times of a Eurocrat

“In the most interesting line of his presentation, Steimer let out some of his inevitable frustration, in this case with the majority of the French populace that fears losing national sovereignty if France integrates further into the EU. ‘Where is French sovereignty in the face of financial markets? Where is French sovereignty when we try to negotiate with China?'”

Review: Tokyo Story

“Tokyo Story does not have a happy ending, but that’s less because there isn’t happiness than because there isn’t an ending.”

Silent Swarm

“Six years ago, the bees stopped waking up.”

Hard To Swallow: Child Obesity and Parental Rights in the United Kingdom

“It’s a libertarian’s nightmare: government-appointed social workers forcing your family into public housing, making your children exercise, even standing in your new kitchen as you prepare food. And if your children fail to slim down, you lose them.”

No Future? Fantastic!

“In a social-science coup de grâce, Keith Chen announced to the audience that next-door neighbors who speak different languages, and whose demographics and family lives are otherwise near-identical, have wildly differing savings and obesity rates—again, predicted by the tenses permitted in their native tongue.”

Who Else Were You Going to Vote For?

“On May 29, 2010, the voters of Reykjavík, Iceland rejected politics as usual, dumping the Independent and Social Democratic parties in favor of a new candidate’s covenant: increased transparency, family values, free towels in public pools, and a new polar bear for the Reykjavík Zoo.”

Europe Is Toast: Yale Debt Panel Finds Few Solutions

“Though Carmen Reinhart, Ernesto Zedillo, Stephen Roach and Benn Steil all approached the European Union’s debt crisis and the latest Greek tragedy from different angles, they agreed on one thing: it’s a depressing time to be an international finance expert.”