Friday, July 30, 2004

Run! Run! The Democrats have come!

It looks like the whole population of Boston has evacuated the city for the Democratic Convention. The local businesses are idling, because people don't go downtown and Democrats don't go downtown either. The Mayor (probably, after this disaster, the soon-to-be-ex-mayor) has appealed to the population to hang out downtown and rescinded some parking fees in order to lure the people. People are listening, but not going anywhere. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be the threat of terrorism, the fact that MBTA decided to "discourage" people from taking any bags and backpacks with them on public transportation this weekend, the constant searches and the fear that the Democrats can, so to say, eliminate the middleman and simply put their hands in people's pockets in crowded places and help themselves to their wallets? Good luck getting people to hang out downtown.

But cheer up, Bostonian businessmen, businesswomen and other businesscreatures! The Republican Convention is coming up in New York. Imagine the terrorism threat and the public transportation disruption there! All the population of New York City is gonna run, and guess where are they gonna run? That's right, expect a very busy weekend.

Hero - director's cut

A 120-minute director's cut of Hero is now available for copying, and I am copying it for myself. Wonder where it came from, though. YesAsia has got a 108-minute director's cut, which I'll probably buy as well, but where can I get a 120-minute director's cut on DVD?

They have different editions on the 108-minute version, too, with different extras. For once I want to buy something with extras that are subtitled in some language that I can read. Chinese is not a language that I can read, although sometimes I think that it's easier to learn to read it than to find Chinese DVDs with properly subtitled extras.

My mplayer has balked at some vobsub subtitles lately. It looks like it does not like the subtitles files that contain Chinese subtitles. Does anyone know how to fix the problem?

Night photos

Had a few drinks with Anu yesterday, and the world feels normal again. Under the influence of alcohol, Anu and hot chocolate I went for a walk with a camera to take some pictures of the neighborhood at night. Here are the results.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Northern wilderness and work

The software mostly works ok, although there are some things still to work out with the communication with server, which I can luckily do from the office, and with the keys.

The teenage mutant singing employees have luckily disappeared.

Using a tiny laptop while perched on a fucklift is hazardous to your wrists.

Their net connection was fucked for most of the day, which meant that I couldn't upload the software from the laptop to my work machine. This is not a huge problem, but if the next time it does not work in the morning it means that I cannot download the needed stuff from the office to the laptop, which would suck big time.

On the way back I saw a few chanterelles, which were the first chanterelles I've seen on the ground for years. I almost tried to get them but then luckily noticed a ditch that was full of water and mostly covered with grass. Falling on my ass into the ditch with my employer's laptop and unbackupped day's work on it would not have been nice.

Amazing disappearing umbrella trick

I don't normally use umbrellas. I've had maybe 3 of them when I was 14 years old. Each was used exactly once. Every time I went out of the house with an umbrella I lost it. I don't know why. I don't normally lose stuff, at least not often.

I figured umbrellas were not for me and did not buy or otherwise acquire any more of them until, 3 years ago, I inherited one from my grandmother. It had been hanging happily on my coat rack all these 3 years. Yesterday I woke up, saw the Mother of All Rains outside and decided to give the umbrella a try. It worked, in the sense of making me a lot less wet than I would otherwise have been. I rejoiced, thinking that I am not gonna lose this one and that from now on I'll use it every time it's raining hard enough. I was happy with it. Until the fucking thing dematerialized.

That's what it did, otherwise I can't imagine where it went. One moment it was in my hand as I was standing at a bus stop, the next moment I was in the bus and it wasn't there. I am pretty sure I'd have noticed if I dropped it on the ground.

Go figure.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

All work and no play makes Vera a bitch

I've spent Monday and today again in the great northern wilderness. Dead tired. My eyes are sore. My hands are sore too, and not from masturbation this time, no matter what evil tongues might say, but from one shitty little laptop. I haven't had a decent sleep in god knows how long. Besides, my umbrella dematerialized yesterday.

I think I am gonna bugger off to bed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Utomlyonnye solntsem - Burned by the sun (major spoilers)

A few people seem to be surprised at the fact that this movie did not have the intended emotional impact on me, so here is a bit of explanation:

The movie is about a KGB official who is a Bolshevik hero and leads a happy life. He gets visited by another KGB official who is not a Bolshevik hero and wallows in self-pity all the time, and whom KGB-guy-1 has majorly fucked over a couple of times before. The year is 1936 or 1937 and now the balance of power has shifted and KGB-guy-1, who is a bigger boss at the moment, is about to be arrested by KGB-guy-2, who is apparently on the rise. We are supposed to be sorry for the KGB-guy-1, who is a True Certified Hero, a Good Father and a Real Man, and also for the KGB-guy-2, who is a victim of Unhappy Love (mostly due to KGB-guy-1 sending him abroad for many years and marrying his woman in th meanwhile).

First of all, these stories were a dime a dozen in Russia in the eighties, and I've seen a lot more of them than I ever cared to see. Poor True Communist dying in Gulag. Problem is, I think Gulag is exactly the right place for the kind of people who were Party and KGB officials in the thirties. They have built that lovely concentration camp system for the general population, and it was only a matter of time until a significant part of them was put there as well. They deserved it. Remember KGB-guy-1 getting beaten up by scary thugs in a car in the end? He used to be their boss. The movie tries to introduce him to us as a loving husbamd and father, but all I see in him from the very beginning of the movie is a boss of such thugs.

I think that the story of the poor mailman who gets shot near the end by KGB-guy-2 just because the KGB-guy-2 is feeling bad about the arrest of KGB-guy-1 deserves our attention a lot more that the KGB guys, although it probably wouldn't have made a very good movie either.

Not that the movie was a total loss for me - I sure enjoyed it when the KGB guys got what they deserved.

Goodbye, Lenin (mild spoilers)

Saw Goodbye, Lenin yesterday. It's a movie about a East Berlin family where the mother spends 8 months in a coma after a heart attack, eventually wakes up and her adult children are ordered to keep her away from anything upsetting. Thing is, the woman is an ardent Communist and during her coma the Berlin Wall has fallen and Germanies are about to unite. The children go through heroic efforts to pretend that everything is still like it was and nothing whatsoever has happened.

The movie is entertaining, and the parts of it that are supposed to be amusing are properly amusing. Nevertheless I kept having a feeling that the movie is designed to manipulate the viewer into crying. I have nothing against such manipulation on general principle, but it fails here, or at least does not work for me. I mean, there are the normally sad scenes with people being sick and all, and they are sad in a normal way, but this thing was clearly designed to make people cry nostalgically for a lost way of life, including and especially the people who never liked that way of life to begin with. My problem with it is that it did not work for me. And it's not like it's hard to manipulate me into crying, so a movie that tries to do so and fails must be really bad on some level, or just on a very different wavelength.

The only movie ever that was even worse at it was Burned by the Sun. It had two tragic main characters, and we were supposed to be sorry for both in turn. I sat through that movie wishing slow and painful death on both of them.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Kauhea täti

No niin, nyt suku on antanut minulle virallisen luvan käskeä L.:aa painumaan vittuun sekä pahoinpidellä sitä tarpeen mukaan. Olisin kyllä voinut tehdä tämän kaiken ilman niiden lupaakin. Siinä, että minulle kerrotiin tästä erikseen, on tietynlaista "me olemme kaikki jo yrittäneet kesyttää L:aa, ja nyt on sinun vuorosi, tyttöseni"-sävyä. En hetkeksikään kuvittele, että voisin opettaa hänelle mitään sellaista, mitä edellisen 65:n vuoden aikana maailma ja suku eivät olisi opettaneet.

En kuitenkaan aio harrastaa väkivaltaa muuten kuin itseni, omaisuuteni tai viattomien sivullisten puolustamiseksi. Luultavasti seuraan yhtä Jukan neuvoa ja kerron, että mun luona on kamala remontti.

Kun L. ja sen mies tulivat viimeksi käymään Helsingissä, mikä oli 8 vuotta sitten, ajatus koko viikonlopun viettämisestä niiden kanssa oli aivan yhtä kamala kuin nytkin. Silloin onnistuin selittämään heille, että Tukholmakin on hyvin kaunis kaupunki, ja lähettämään heidät sinne päiväksi. Nyt sama temppu ei enää onnistune - vai toimisiko se myös Tallinnan kanssa? Hmmm...

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Rauhallinen viikonloppu ja sukulaisongelma

Olen niin stressaantunut sen työasian kanssa, että pidän ns. rauhallisen viikonlopun, jolloin en tee mitään muuta hyödyllistä kuin töitä, eli tähän asti olen vain lukenut viihdyttäviä kirjoja ja ostanut ja syönyt mansikoita. Huomenna ehkä töitä. Suurin osa kavereita on kuitenkin Ropeconissa.

Nyt on uusi päänsäryn aihe: eräs täti on tulossa kylään.

L. on ärsyttävin ihminen, johon kukaan voi ikinä törmätä. No ok, on olemassa myös Osama Bin Laden ja Sierra Leonen joukkomurhaajat, mutta L. on epäilemättä ärsyttävin niistä ihmisistä, joiden perässä ei ole poliiseja eikä minkään maan armeja. L. on myös ikävä kyllä isäni serkku, mikä on meidän mittakaavassamme melko läheinen sukulainen, joten minulla on velvollisuuksia.

Viikko sitten isäni sanoi, että L. käy Helsingissä hetkeksi matkalla Pietariin tai Pietarista ja että hän haluaisi mun puhelinnumeron. Faija, perkele, antoi ymmärtää että (a) L. ei vietä yötä täällä ja (b) L. on yksin. Käskin antamaan mun kotipuhelinnumeron mutta ei kännykkänumeroa, ja toivoin että hän on täällä jonain arkipäivänä jolloin mulla voisi olla paljon työtä tai joku muu hyvä tekosyy.

Tänään sain tietää että hän on Helsingissä koko viikonlopun, ja että hänellä on mies mukana. Vittu. Ensinnäkin mulla on parempaa käyttöä kesäviikonlopulle kuin L.:n seura - itse asiassa jopa Lisp-ohjelmointi tai asunnon siivoaminen on hauskempaa - ja sitten siellä on vielä se mies. Mies on paljon vähemmän ärsyttävä, mutta hänen läsnäolonsa tekee L.:n sietämisestä paljon vaikeampaa. Pystyn vielä kuuntelemaan L.:n loputtomia tarinoita siitä, miten miehellä seisoo huonosti tai ei lainkaan, mutta ei niitä viitsi kuunnella sen miehen läsnäolleessa, joku raja sentään.

Hän aina kertoo jotain kamalia juttuja sukulaisista, mukaanlukien sellaisista jotka ovat paljon läheisempiä mulle kuin hän. Hän kertoo jatkuvasti, miksi hänen veljensä on mulkku (noin 3 tunnin tarina). Hän vaatii saada tietää ketä muita ihmisiä mummoni on kuskinut olleessaan naimisissa vaarini kanssa. Kun vastasin, etten ole seissyt siellä kynttilän kanssa, hän vaati myös tietää, muksi en ole seissyt siellä kynttilän kanssa. Hän aina kertoo, että hänen poikansa vaimot (sekä nykyinen että edellinen) ovat iljettäviä huoria, ja hän varsinkin kertoo tämän mielellään näiden vaimojen lapsille, minkä jälkeen hän ihmettele, miksi lapsenlapset eivät pidä hänestä kovin paljon. Hän kertoi varastaneensa koruja anoppinsa luona, ja hän on yrittänyt repiä valokuviani (siis minun ottamiani sellaisia) mun vanhempien luona, minkä takia olisi varsin toivottavaa olla päästämättä sitä mun kotiin.

Kaiken lisäksi hän pitää minusta, en ymmärrä miksi. Hän on sanonut että olen ainoa ihminen, joka sietää häntä, mikä ei edes pidä paikkaansa mutta mitä on helppoa näytellä silloin kun tyyppi on jatkuvasti 10000 kilometrin päästä. Olen joskus ajatellut että se pitää minusta sen takia, että olen ainoa perheenjäsen joka ei tähän asti ole tehnyt sille fyysistä väkivaltaa, mutta nyt tämäkään ei enää pidä paikkaansa.

Vittu. Nyt neljän viikon päästä on viikonloppu, jolloin joudun koko ajan kuuntelemaan L.:n juttuja ja yrittämään olla päästämättä sitä kotiin. Pitäisi keksiä jotain. Voisin valehdella, että asun Tikkurilassa. Voisin keksiä työmatkan. Voisin teeskennellä meneväni nukkumaan aikaisin ja mennä dokaamaan illalla. Voisin hankkia vatsataudin. Voisin lainata Jeron viikonlopuksi, se aivan varmasti puree L.:aa perseestä. Työpaikka voisi lähettää minua kiireiselle työmatkalle. Mitäs muuta voisi tehdä? Henkirikos olisi luultavasti ylilyönti.

L.:n veli päästi siitä eroon silleen, että löi sitä päähän puujalalla Thanksgiving-illallisella, mutta törkeä pahoinpitely illallistilaisuuksien yhteydessä ei kuulu minun tapoihini.

Neuvoja otetaan vastaan.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A prayer, again

Dear Lord,

The people who smoke in our stairwell nowadays also congregate right outside the back door for a smoke in the mornings. This is a very good opportunity for smiting, don't miss it, but please mind the door. You could also do a bit of smiting of people who park their cars inside our gate and make it impossible for everyone else to get through, or at least their cars.

Could you please fix the front door? It does not look like it's ever going to be fixed without a divine intervention.

Please carry the (undoubtedly divine) concept of public transportation to the infidels living in the busless, subwayless and tramless desolate wilderness to the north of Kehä III, especially in the towns that contain our customers. Failing that make the customers move somewhere closer. Better yet, send us some customers who are located in nice touristy towns in warm but civilized countries, need us to visit them fairly often in winter and are willing to pay for the trips.

Guard my soul from the evil that are summer sales. On the second thought, don't.

Help me write the Lisp code for the new fucklift, and bless its serial bus so that it would continue to transmit mostly sensible messages. Charge the battery of that old laptop. Oh, never mind, I have asked Markus to do it already.

I think the people at the Ropecon are gonna have fun without any divine intervention, but if they get bored you could show them some aurora borealis or something.

Bestow a huge erection upon Killeri during the Ropecon to remind him about me. Extra points if he actually summons me there to help with it. Lots of extra points if we get caught having sex in some embarassing public place.

Heal grandma's rib ASAP, and while you are at it also give her some drugs to improve her mood and temper. No, I can't do it myself, I don't know where to get hold of such amounts of Ecstasy. Besides, when you do it it's Divine Intervention (tm), and if I do it it's "posession of a class B substance with intent to distribute".

Gaah! Now it's really late and nothing works yet! Give me a hand with that Lisp program, now! Or whatever divine appendage you have...

Special Court for Sierra Leone (disturbing material warning)

The Special Court for Sierra Leone has started its investigation of war crimes committed by RUF and other factions during the recent civil war in Sierra Leone. Some quotes from the prosecutors' statements:

A witness will testify that while hiding in the Malama bush near Batmis she could hear the rebels in Batmis shout out threats to those in hiding. As it became light the witness was captured by a rebel. He hit her, pushed her down on the ground and raped her while another rebel looked on. Afterwards, other rebels armed with guns, knives and cutlasses rounded up the witness, her husband and other Sierra Leoneans. They were taken into Batmis where the witness was forced to pound fundeh (which is millet). Other civilians were forced to carry water. Some managed to escape. Those who remained were punished. The rebel commander ordered the witness's husband to be killed. The witness will testify she watched while her husband was hacked to death with a cutlass. The rebels then took hold of her right hand and with 4 long strokes of a machete cut it off. Then they chopped off her left hand telling her to go to Kabbah, who would give her hands.

In 1999, another witness in Koidu will testify that when RUF and AFRC rebels drove the Kamajors from the town they began to burn the houses of Koidu. The witness and his family fled to a nearby village. The RUF rebels followed them in a number of trucks filled with young women. The rebel commander took the 16 year old sister of the witness. He declared loudly that he was going to take her as his wife. The witness tried to protect his younger sister, but was told he would be killed. The rebels left with around ten girls from the town, the youngest being 12. His younger sister was kept by the rebels for four long years. The witness will testify further that upon hearing that ECOMOG troops had taken Koidu town the family decided to return, walking for four days. When they reached Penduma village it was overrun with armed RUF rebels. Twenty civilians who attempted to flee were shot dead. The rest of the survivors where grouped together and told to wait for their commander. Upon arrival the commander addressed the frightened civilians saying to them, "so you are the supporters of Tejan Kabbah." They were separated into three groups the witness will declare: first, pregnant women, suckling mothers and children; second, men and boys; and third females--teenagers to grandmothers. Twenty-five men and women were picked out at random from the last two groups. The commander gave the order, "Una take them. Make una burn dem." These civilians were placed in a house which was set on fire by the rebels. All of them were burned alive while the others were forced to listen to their agonized screams.

The commander then pointed at the group of females. There were around twenty. The wife of the witness was one of them. The women were raped in front of everyone. The witness will testify that he and his children were forced to watch while his wife and their mother was raped by eight different RUF rebels before she was stabbed to death with a bayonet by the last RUF rapist. Why does he recall their being eight rapists, he will be asked, because the witness had to count out loud the number as they tore into his wife. Two other women were likewise gang raped and then murdered. Note, while this is taking place, twenty-five human beings are roasting to death in a burning house, their cries adding to this true living hell on earth. Fifteen of the men were then marched away by rebels armed with knives. Two who attempted to run were shot. The remaining thirteen had their throats cut. Incredibly the witness and eight others still remained. Each of them was called forward and had a hand cut off. When the witness attempted to retrieve his severed hand he was struck in the back with a bayonet.

The similarity of the stories from all parts of the country will become hauntingly familiar. The witness from Kono who heard the screams of 25 people burned alive by rebel forces in Penduma village will echo in the evidence of the witness from Koinadugu who saw people rounded up and burnt alive in his village. The testimony of both these witnesses will resound in that of the witness from Port Loko who will describe the 73 innocent and helpless people burned alive in a house in Manaarma, and again in the testimony of the many witnesses from Freetown who saw families die together in the flames of their houses. Within these court room walls the terrifying words "Go to Kabbah" "Go to Kabbah" will reverberate again and again and again. "Go to Kabbah." These words were said by thousands of rebels to thousands of Sierra Leonean men, women and children, the vast majority of whom have never met, who have never seen or did not even know the President of Sierra Leone. "Go to Kabbah," These words were said by rebels as the blood of the people of Sierra Leone dripped from their blunt and crude machetes, cutlasses, axes and swords, and the chopped-off hands and limbs of the people lay severed on the ground. "Go to Kabbah." Witnesses from Kono, Koinadugu, Bombali, Freetown and Port Loko will all tell a similar harrowing tale of vicious and primitive amputation by rebel forces. The RUF decided upon amputation as punishment for civilians whose only crime was to support democracy. Left faint or unconscious, left vomiting and in agony, and simply left to die, the RUF told these people to go to Kabbah for new hands. In fact, the evidence will show that it did not matter which government the citizens of Sierra Leone supported. Amputation was a tool of fear systematically used by the RUF to terrorize the population into submission.

This court will also hear the evidence of girls and women who were subjected to sexual violence and sexual slavery; the unmistakably atrocious and ghastly signature of RUF violence. The evidence of the teenager from Kono who was publicly raped by eight rebels and was so badly injured that she bled for three days, has terrible parallels with that of the witness from Koinadugu who was pregnant but miscarried after being publicly raped by three rebels. The Prosecution will invite this chamber to juxtapose these stories with the gruesome account of the witness from Freetown who was taken to Waterloo, raped by seven rebels and saw another girl abandoned by her captors because she had been gang-raped to the point where she could no longer walk.

Shopping, measuring and cataloging

Went to check out Stockmann's summer sale yesterday. I usually check it out on the first day and unless there is something I really want I put the shopping off till there is a final (64% off) sale. This way I don't buy too much. I love the name of the final sale in Swedish: "slutrusch". As if everybody is rushing to get some sluts.

Anyway, I was supersensible this time and only bought some of those things that you use to handle hot pots and pans. I had somehow managed to lose almost all the ones I had, now I have 3 more.

Also bought a blood pressure meter in Lidl. Good thingie, 20 euro, batteries included. 124/78, it said, which is not bad. Maybe I should take the thing to work with me tomorrow and see the blood pressure double at the sight of the fucklift and triple at the sight of the singing teenagers.

Finally got to cataloging the DVDs, did almost half of then yesterday, hopefully will do the rest today.

Oh shit, here we go again...

Tomorrow I am going to the little-town customer's place again. Argh!

When I chose this profession I imagined sitting in a nice office in some ivory tower, having the newest computers and algorithms to play with and ogling and maybe occasionally having sex with cute young students, and maybe occasionally going to some conferences in nice faraway places. Nobody told me about having to go to the god-forsaken wilderness in the middle of nowhere beyond Kehä III and performing unnatural acts on fucklifts while having nothing at all to ogle besides two female teenagers who have the worst singing voices in the world.

Besides, I am supposed to have at least something that works tomorrow, and it doesn't.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Fly the friendly skies

A passenger was beaten up by two drunk flight attendants, says CNN. They attacked him for complaining about them being drunk.

The level of Aeroflot's service is clearly improving: at least they did not try to fly the plane while drunk. OTOH, has anyone given a breathalyzer test to the pilots?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


The weekend was rather quiet. Had some drinks with the Axis of AEvil, her husband and her dog on Friday. Was a very nice evening, and Honeybear (the dog) didn't even eat me. Honeybear is really funny, he looks at pizza with puppy eyes and chews people's backpacks a little.

Spent the rest of the weekend at home trying to arrange my photos (mostly successfully in the case of the digital photos; I still have some paper ones that need to be put in albums; paper photos are a pain in the ass), reading and trying to learn a bit of Hebrew and a bit of Swedish. German was scheduled too but I never got around to it.

I am having an attack of some arranging mania. Yesterday bought a big box for various small objects in Lidl. Gotta hunt down the small objects lying around the house someday soon and stick them all in the box. Tried to install some video cataloguing software but it wanted libxml-parser-perl or something like that; tried to see if it can be found in my distribution but YaST2 malfunctioned badly. After that started thinking whether to update the system, got lost in thinking and never got to installing anything.

The update would be SuSE 9.1 professional, and as usual there is the dilemma of whether to buy an update on DVD from a store like a decent person or to download it from the net like a geek with more time than money, and have to fix xine and mplayer later (the last time the net download had broken versions of both).

Also need to catalogue all books and DVDs and VCDs and maybe CDs that I own, and mark them as mine. If somebody knows a place where I can have stick-on labels with my name and email address printed cheaply, let me know.

Pia came on Sunday with her laptop that got a virus, imagining that I know what to do about it. I know fuck all about anything having to do with Windows, and my response to questions having to do with Windows problems usually is "get SuSE or Debian", which works surprisingly often. Pia can't do that since her school requires Microsoft Word, including some of the functionality that cannot be easily simulated by using OpenOffice. Stupid school, I say. Anyway, I installed her some trial software from F-Secure webpage, and it found and ate the virus, but that's only for a month, and what then? (Yeah, the obvious response would be for her to buy the software.) I wonder how the whole thing happened in the first place. Doesn't Windows come with a firewall and a virus scanner of its own?

Yesterday had some hot chocolate and saw a movie with Sini, Aapo and Odessa. The movie was called But I am a Cheerleader and is about a girl who is put by her parents into a gay-to-straight re-education camp. Won't write any spoilers here, but you can imagine that putting a bunch of gays and/or lesbians together in a camp is not very likely to teach them to become straight. The movie's plot had a great porn potential but unfortunately it wasn't a porno movie. Was funny, though.

Next weekend is Ropecon, and everybody is going to be there, except me. I think I'll use the time to improve my whatever-language, take some photos, hang out with the few friends who do not participate in Ropecon and/or maybe go to Tallinn and buy some sour cherries. Killeri is very busy with Ropecon, no chance of getting laid this weekend at all.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Middle East, business almost as usual

A Hezbollah terrorist was killed by a bomb in his car in Beirut. The bomb was allegedly installed by sunni terrorists. I like this self-service approach to war on terrorism, but to avoid collateral damage I call on all terrorists to use knives on other terrorists.

In hopefully unrelated but similar news Yassir Arafat has managed to appoint two different guys as the Palestinian security chief. One of them just happens to be Arafat's cousin. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades expressed their dissatisfaction with the appointment of the cousin by burning down offices of the Palestinian intelligence services. Hmm, maybe it's time for me to believe that Arafat really does not control those assholes, or al least not all the time?

With all the terrorists fighting among themselves Ariel Sharon was left to make his own trouble for himself, which he promptly did. In a speech addressed to visiting French Jewish community leaders Sharon said that all the French Jews should move from France to Israel immediately due to the number of anitsemitic attacks in France and the number of Moslems there. Sharon, face it, man: Israel currently leads the Western world in the number of antisemitic attacks per Jew, and also has a higher Moslem population than France. (Although of course I am not suggesting that the size of the Moslem population can in any way be related to the number of antisemitic attacks. Perish the thought! Sharon, however, seems to think so.) The French Jews would be making a change for the worse. Anyway, French Jewish community leaders told Sharon to stuff it where the sun don't shine, and so did the French government.

The Senate vote

The Senate vote on whether to vote on the anti-gay-marriage has come and gone. The proponents of voting on the amendment had to get 60 votes to get their way. They got only 48 against 50. And guess who were the two who graced the senate with their shining absense that day? Why, our future fearless leaders Kerry and Edwards, of course.

Are we about to get the most spineless presidency in the recorded history? Don't get me wrong, I have always liked Kerry well enough as a senator. He is my senator, after all. I've always voted for him. He's been a senator for as long as I could remember and I can't recall him doing anything objectionable. Or anything at all, for that matter. This can be a nice feature in a senator, but these are troubled times - is it a good idea to have a president who always has two diametrically opposed opinions on every issue and always bends down to tie his shoelaces when he is not sure whether or not he should bow to someone?

OTOH the alternative is another fearless leader with a two-digit IQ who is very sure of being always right and would cheerfully lead the country to a great end if he only could. Well, I guess that a spineless weasel is better that a moron with initiative.

Is it just me, or does anybody else notice that the quality of the presidential candidate material in the US is falling with every election? Used to think it couldn't go lower than Dukakis, but apparently was wrong.

Saturday, July 17, 2004


A couple of days ago a few guys made some loud comments in Hebrew to me in the street. I did not understand them, of course, but they sounded like sexual innuendo. Should've responded "little dick", which is one of the very few things I know how to say in Hebrew, but didn't. Bummer.

Tried to read a Hebrew textbook again after a long time, but the fuckers still haven't learned to write vowels. Although since it's the same textbook that I read way back, it would be surprising if vowels suddenly appeared in it even if Israelis had in fact started to write vowels like normal people.

Maybe one day some antisemites have stolen all the Hebrew vowels? Those guys apparently did not like Arabs either, stole all their vowels too.

Cthulhu for president

Ran across Cthulhu's presidential campaign page. " Cthulhu for President. Why vote for a lesser evil?"

Problem is, there were slogans like that last time around, 4 years ago. And I think we have actually elected Cthulhu. Now he is in the White House.

Bloody hell

Had to spend Thursday and Friday on the premises of one fine customer in a fine small town in the middle of fucking nowhere way beyond Kehä III. The fine town is not blessed with public transportation, but is still too big to make it possible to get around by walking, especially when dragging around a ton of equipment. There is one bus going at some ungodly hour in the morning from the railway station to the customer's plant; the only way to get back is to bum a ride off someone. In order to be on time for the bus I have to get up at 6.

Thursday was totally fucked. Got up at 6; went to sleep at 2 after finishing writing the piece of software that was supposed to work by the next morning, and set the alarm clock for 6am. 20-hour days don't agree with me very well, especially not if I have to start the next day 4 hours later. Although it wasn't really a 20-hour-workday - I took several hours off in the evening to hang out with Killeri. Anyway, in the morning Markus (a coworker) and I missed our bus, or rather the bus missed us: we were there and the bus wasn't. Had to bum a ride off one guy.

There was two of us and one crappy little laptop with a tiny keyboard. Half the time the laptop had to be attached to the... well, let's call that machine a fucklift. The other half we had to share a desk with two fine teenage employees, who talked loudly, played a radio loudly and sometimes sang along with it. I'd never imagined there exists a human being who has a nastier singing voice and less of a musical ear than myself, and now I found two of them. Considering that my singing usually causes my even nearests and dearest friends to throw shoes at me (real friends throw shoes without hard sharp parts, of course), and considering that the fine employees were not my friends, it's amazing I did not strangle them with an extension cord. OTOH, I was sort of a guest there, and strangling people with extension cords is probably the kind of behavior that is unworthy of a guest.

By noon we figured that somebody has to write a piece of software that tells us what the hell do the numbers that come out of the fucklift mean, and I buggered off to do exactly that. Managed to write it and it even worked the next day. Friday was marked by fucked-up minicom settings and more atrocious enthusiastic singing from the girls. Well, at least everything works now.

The place has no open cafeteria, no way to get anywhere for lunch except other people's cars, and no tea.

I am going there again sometime next week. Oh joy...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The antisemitic attack that wasn't

Now it's official: the woman who claimed to have been attacked by 4 Arabs and 2 Africans on a RER D train in Paris has confessed that she'd made it up. The motive was apparently being somewhat fucked in the head, since she had claimed being a victim a many attacks in the last few years, none of them proven.

Belge, gay marriage and the guy who shot himself in the balls

Been to Belge yesterday for the first time. I noticed the place when it first opened and decided to visit it sometime, but I don't get out much to restaurants now that I live in downtown, everyone just comes to my place usually. Belge turned out to be a very nice place, not very crowded or noisy, at least not on Tuesday night, and with a large non-smoking space which looked like it was primarily for eating but they did not mind us just drinking there. Eventually had some fries, which had a price tag of 4.50 but were quite worthy, pretty much the same quality as you usually get in Belgium, and a bit of chocolate cake with ice cream, which was too expensive, too small and generally Ville's and Lasu's fault (they were being a bad example). Belge is a nice place to be, but their selection of Belgian beers is quite poor in comparison to any decent beer restaurant.

US Senate is voting today on the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. It's a procedural vote and they need 60 votes even to start really voting on the damn amendment. In order for them to approve the stupid thing they need 67 votes, and there's no way the fuckers are getting that. In order for an amendment to pass you need two-thirds of the Senate, two-thirds of the House, and ratification by 38 states. We might be a nation of homophobic fuckers, but that much of homophobic fuckers we hopefully ain't.

A British gentleman who accidentally shot himself in the testicles earlier this year has received a 5-year sentence for posession of an illegal firearm. The man had enjoyed 15 pints of lager in a local pub, argued with a friend about whose turn it was to buy the next beer, went home to get his sawed-off shotgun, stuffed it down his pants and accidentally discharged it on his way back to the bar.

5 years for owning an illegal firearm is a bit stiff in my opinion, especially in the absense of any previous firearm offences, but the man had been convicted for the posession of a screwdriver once. The article says it's unclear to what extent he'll recover, but other articles say his testicles have been removed, so I guess he qualities for a Darwin award.

That's what you get for drinking 15 pints of lager. Try ale next time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Gay marriage in Massachusetts and elsewhere

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is trying to uphold the 1913 law forbidding the out-of-state couples whose marriage would be illegal in their own state from marrying in Massachusetts. The reasoning being that if out-of-state couples start marrying in Massachusetts it might cause a backlash across the country, and even possibly a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Oh, wait! Isn't that the same Mitt Romney who has just testified on Capitol Hill in favor of such an amendment? Couldn't be, could it? Must be another Massachusetts governor by the same name.

The law was passed in 1913, when Massachusetts allowed interracial marriage and most other states didn't, for the exact purpose of preventing interracial couples from other states from marrying there. It wasn't enforced ever since all states started allowing interracial marriage, but was kept on the books. Never throw out the old stuff, never know when you'd need it again... The law was taken into use again this May by a strange coincidence, and naturally is enforced for both homosexual and heterosexual couples now. To prevent discrimination, you know.

The whole fight for gay marriage in the US reminds so much of the fight for interracial marriage that the wrong side of the debate could really just read up on history, realize that they are gonna lose and give up. Or, failing that, both sides could take the arguments from the old newspapers instead of writing their own.


Lately I've seen a lot of the use of the word "expat" to mean people who move from one country to another. When I first saw the word, 10 years or so ago, I thought it was just a British word for immigrant/emigrant. Nowadays I see it used a lot by Americans too, and the usage seems to have differentiated from "immigrant": the people who came from the third world to the civilized world tend to be called immigrants and the people who move from one civilized country to another tend to be called expats. Also in historical contexts it's always "immigrants" and never "expats".

Has the word "immigrant" gotten so many negative connotations already that people need to find another word for "nice immigrants"? Or is there something else at work?

Monday, July 12, 2004

ATMs and what to do about them

No, I don't mean the automatic teller machines, nor asynchronous transfer mode. I mean the men of low sexual market value, or rather the subgroup of them that pesters women in public places and do not take a polite "no" for an answer. The question is not how to get rid of them - I knew how to get rid of them when I was 10 - but how to get rid of them politely without making them too upset.

You see, nowadays I decided to be a polite young - well, youngish - woman with good manners and, as Bridget Jones puts it, inner poise, as opposed to the little bitch from hell that I was back when I was a jailbait. The net result is usually that I tell them to leave me in peace politely and with inner poise for a few minutes without getting any results, then do the bitchy thing and they disappear. I do get a nice bit of righteous satisfaction from not starting my half of conversation with "bugger off, asshole", but the whole process is tedious.

Today, for example. Waiting for a bus in Herttoniemi. 10 minutes to the bus, and I sit down on the elevated border of the grassy area to read my book, since the bench is already occupied by the kind of gentlemen who usually enjoy beer and kossu on benches in Herttoniemi in the early morning. After a moment a couple of legs appear in front of my face and stay there. I take a look at the owner: small, mid-fifties, drunk but not very drunk, smoker but not currently smoking, does not look like someone about to attack. I take my eyes back to a book and try to read. One'd think he'll understand that his company is not needed.

It's hard to concentrate on reading when there is someone standing within 20 cm in front of you and looking at you. It's even harder when the guy bends down so that his face is on the same level as mine and looks at my face from the same distance. He grabs my knee and I push his hand away and growl at him rather menacingly. He gets scared and starts to apologize, saying that he lost his balance by accident. I don't know whether it's true, and, most importantly, don't care. "No problem. Bye now."

He asks for my name. I politely refuse him this information and try to continue reading. He continues standing in that bent-down position. Then he tries to wave hands in front of my book and I tell him that this interferes with reading. He tells me that I seem like a very nice person. I think he is not a very good judge of character. He asks what am I reading. I flip the cover of the book at him without answering and continue reading. After doing this I realize it was a mistake since the title of the book is Porno.

He asks me whether he can sit there. I say it's a free country and he sits about 30 cm from me. He carries on about me being such a nice and pleasant person. I tell him that thanks for the compliment but I'd really rather not have any company and concentrate on reading. The concentration is somewhat disturbed by having to watch his hands. After two attempts to touch me that I have to block physically I growl at him and move further away. He whines like a beaten dog and after a minute moves up to me. He asks me where I am going and whether I'd go for a beer with him. "To work, " - I say, politely declining the invitation, but the concept is clearly unfamiliar to him because he then invites me to Alko with him, which I also politely decline. After he attempts to touch me again I employ the same tone of voice that Killeri uses on Jero when Jero tries to eat his guests. The man whines and recoils. At that moment the bus comes and I go there, accompanied by whining from behind.

Way back 20 years ago the 12-year-old jailbait bitch Vera would have told him from the beginning something like "What the fuck are you thinking? You are old enough to be my grandfather and ugly enough to be a dick of a walrus! Frankly, I don't think you have any chance even with women your own age, let alone a teenager. Besides, you probably haven't been sober for 30 years now - are you sure your dick still works and do I get a microscope to see it? Face it, man - most women wouldn't screw you even if you were the last man on earth, and they were out of all the cucumbers and bananas, too." Saying things like that was good fun when I was a kid, but somewhere in my late teenage years I mellowed out a bit and figured it wasn't nice to be so mean to a guy just because the poor bugger wants to get laid and has no chance whatsoever.

There are moments though when I wish I hadn't decided to become a semi-polite person. Too much bother, can't concentrate on reading, and in the end they are upset anyway.

SMS to police?

The RER story made me think: why doesn't the police have an emergency number that accepts SMSs? Could be a very handy thing in a situation where you don't want to attract the criminals' attention by making a phone call.

Or does the police already have such number? They don't advertise it much if they do.

The RER attack, again

I was wrong before - there are still no witnesses. They did not get anything from security tapes either.

I am starting to suspect that it either means that somebody really doesn't want those guys found, or that there never was any attack to begin with. In the former case - who? In the latter case - why?

There surely exist criminals that cover their tracks well, but I reckon the kind of thugs who mug people on a commuter train in broad daylight in front of twenty witnesses aren't exactly the criminal masterminds.

In any case the mind-boggling fact remains: in France you have to interfere in such a situation, and can get up to 5 years if you don't. If you do the sentence apparently depends on how successful you were.

More on the RER attack

Now, after all the politicians and the media have said all the nasty things they'd had to say about the witnesses of the attack and their failure to interfere, Minister of State for Victims' Rights Nicole Guedj is asking witnesses to come forward. She is promising them anonymity and says that they probably won't be prosecuted for their failure to interfere. How nice of her, especially the "probably" bit. There were about 20 people in the train; I think they have found 1 or 2 witnesses so far.

The Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has encouraged citizens to display civic courage in the face of violence. If there is any believing the French people who write on usenet, actual civic courage displayed in the face of violence is usually rewarded in France much in the same way as in Finland. I can only imagine the headlines we'd see if somebody had really stood up and shot the bastards.

Hell, I still remember all the noise that ensued when Bernard Goetz shot 4 muggers on a New York subway train, and that's America, where self-defence is usually respected better than in Europe, and he was defending himself and not somebody else. Goetz killed three, paralyzed one, got acquitted on the killings but convicted on the weapon charge, and was later successfully sued for $43 million by the surviving attacker, oops, I mean victim, who was paralyzed and brain-damaged (although I suspect Goetz could argue that the poor child was already brain-damaged by the time of the incident). That'll teach him to shoot better next time.

Of course, the RER attack was completely random and had nothing to do with the attackers' ethnicity or religion, and therefore you won't guess it. They could have just as well been Chinese, after all. Or Norwegians. Or Indians (of either variety). Or even Finns.

(Actually four of them were of the ethnicity you'd guess first if you are a bad person, and two were not.)

A weekend of antisemitic violence

A bomb exploded in Tel Aviv Sunday, killing 1 and injuring 20. Al Aqsa we-make-Martyrs Brigades claimed that one. Arafat, as usual, blamed Israel (not in the sense that Israel provoked the bombing, but in the sense that Israel really did it).

A young woman was attacked on RER D (a Paris suburban train) on Friday morning. Six young men armed with knives first robbed her, then claimed that she was Jewish, which she incidentally wasn't, and proceeded to cut tufts of her hair, cut up her clothes, draw swastikas on her stomach with a magic marker and throw her baby out of the carriage (out of the baby carriage, luckily, not the train carriage).

Now all the country is outraged, politicians and various religious leaders are all competing in expressing their outrage, half of the police are looking for the thugs and the other half is patrolling RER D, apparently in case the thugs are still there.

A Jewish cynic in me says that the degree of outrage is so high precisely because the woman is not Jewish and suddenly a lot of goyim who felt they were safe from antisemitic violence realized that they really aren't, but the Jewish cynic might well be wrong, since an attack on a young mother with a baby by 6 armed thugs would generally attract more attention than, say, an attack on a teenage boy by 6 unarmed classmates.

Most of the public figures expressing their outrage are also condemning the other passengers for doing nothing. Much as I would like to encourage people to interfere with attacks on random people in public transportation - WTF do they expect the other passengers to do against 6 armed thugs? Read them a sermon on dire consequences of ethnic hatred in a multicultural society? Use harsh language? Kung fu? Pull out their own knives? Shoot? Pretty much the only thing one could do under the circumstances is shoot. The obvious obstacles to that is that in civilized societies (yes, this uncludes the USA) people rarely sit in the subway with a loaded gun, that you have to be a fairly good shot to incapacitate 6 people with the 8 or 9 bullets that you can fit into a normal gun, and you won't have time to reload, that you cannot predict what the other 5 will do after you'd shot the first one, and the possible things they can do include pulling out 5 guns, that you'll have to explain your behavior to police and the courts afterwards, and they might not like it, and that all this shooting in an enclosed space is likely to injure bystanders and somewhat damage everyone's ears.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Beer, but no zoo

Went for a beer with the funny Russian guy yesterday, who turned out to be a funny Belarussian guy (not just from Belarus, but a real native speaker and all). I'd like to write more about our conversation, but I think I shouldn't for privacy reasons. One thing I'll say: aliens really do live among us. The fact that aliens are friendly to us and can reminisce with us on the subjects of Newbury Street and the sausage situation or lack thereof in Belarus in the early eighties makes it even more amazing.

It's raining today, so not going to the zoo with Lasu like we wanted to. Too bad. Somebody could fix the damn sky, it's been leaking for a while now.

Since was going to go to the zoo did not make a shooting appointment. Damn. OTOH maybe should take some time off doing anything useful, wholesome or social and just go and do absolutely nothing all by myself.

Friday, July 09, 2004

US on alert

Tom Ridge is saying that Al Qaeda is planning major attacks on the USA before the November election in an effort to influence the outcome. He's not elevating the official terror threat level, though.

I wonder what does Al Qaeda want a Republican landslide for?

Movies, Killeri, DVD, work and funny Russian guy

Went to see Ladykillers yesterday with Killeri. It was good, and funny in the way I like, and a lot funnier than I expected.

Spent the rest of the evening with Killeri. Killeri is good to have around. Smart and sweet and innocent (probably pretending anyway), and very cute, too. Hmm, am I repeating myself here.

At night I learned how to burn a DVD, and burned the first one, and it actually works! Took me 4 tries, but better luck next time. Gonna get lots of movies soon.

I have my doubts about the morality of copying movies without paying any money to their makers, but I reckon that if it's not in any store where I can buy it in person and if I can't buy it on the net by sending my credit card number to a reputable webstore located in a civilized country, then the makers probably don't want my money.

There is more work at work, and it involves going to a customer's place sometime soon. Thing is, the customer is in the middle of nowhere. Oh joy... Wonder if I can get a ride from somebody there just by batting my eyelashes at them...

A Russian guy named Dmitry from one web forum sent me an email and asked me out for a beer. I rarely want to meet almost-lurkers but he was quite funny so I did. Let's see what kind of a person he is.

The weird thing (and, again, an etiquette question): I told him I'd have a beer with him if he promises not to smoke in my presense, and he was a bit taken aback in a "why do you assume that I smoke?" way. I didn't really assume it, although it's common among Russians, but how do you communicate your avoidance of smoking company politely to the new acquaintance wannabes?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Party manners

I was raised with fairly strict rules with regard to to partying and other similar social interaction. I don't mean the kinds of rules that parents set for children while they are children, but the kind that are taught to children for later use in the adult world. You were supposed to assume that you are to come alone, unless told otherwise, and were not supposed to even ask; if the invitation was "avec", you were still supposed to ask about any specific companion you wanted to bring; there were no "open house" parties, etc.

When I grew up I figured out that first, these rules are not optimal for me, and second, the vast majority of the people I know follow a much looser set of rules. I have developed some new rules (or rather new ways) for myself, but I still wish for some explicit party etiquette rules, not necessarily because I want to adjust my own to them but because I would be nice to know what is considered normal, what is considered ok, what is definitely abnormal. Basically, etiquette is a matter on consensus and it's hard to have a consensus without a conversation, so I'd like some input on the following:

1. When there is a small group of people (2-3) who have decided to spend an evening together, as far as I am concerned it's a closed group and extra people can be brought in only after asking everyone's permission, and being the host of the party gives one no special privileges in this respect. No, this is not the moment to feel guilty for having brought some extra person to my place sometime. :) I am aware that not everybody follows the same rule, and rarely resent it, but I would feel quite uncomfortable asking a third person to join us without discussing it with the second person first. I am wondering how common is my way of doing this.

2. When there is somebody's party, and then some of the people, including the organizer of the party, move on to "jatkot" to somebody else's house, what are the rights and responsibilites of the original host vs. the new host? Or is this completely the new host's party at that point?

3. When somebody brings an extremely unacceptable person with them, what is the proper procedure for removing such person in general? How are the responsibilities of the host and the guest who brought the unappropriate person divided in the following cases: (a) if the guest knew that the person is unwelcome by host, (b) if the guest did not know that the person was unwelcome, (c) if the person was not unwelcome to begin with, but started behaving very badly during the party?

4. What is the proper procedure for letting people know who is unwelcome, especially in a context of a medium-to-large fairly open party? I remember once sending out an email that said "if I have forgotten somebody from this list by accident please bring them with you; X. was forgotten on purpose; anyone else can be assumed to have been forgotten by accident", but I don't think it was a correct thing to do. How do you let people know that a certain person is unwelcome?

(For all my curious friends here: if you don't know who is the one person who is very unwelcome to any of my parties it means that I believe that you are extremely unlikely to bring him there; if you are somebody who knows me through roleplaying or programming circles it's unlikely that you even know the obnoxious asshole.)

5. What is a proper procedure for letting people know that they should not bring anyone with them without clearing it with me first? I mean the situation when the party is generally avec but that particular person has previously exercised such a severe lack of judgement in choosing their avecs that I want them to pre-approve it with me.

(For all the paranoid friends here: there is one person like that and she knows who she is, so if you need to ask, then no, it's not you. Those of you who have been to the party in question: thanks for helping me to remove her avecs from my place.)

6. How do you let people know politely that they should not be sleeping over? This is quite relevant to me, especially during large and long parties - I need to communicate to people that they are welcome to party till the morning but I'd like them to go home afterwards as opposed to passing out in my bed and in random corners.


Tired. Tired almost to death. Had a long, long day yesterday. Should've probably kicked people out an hour earlier, but did not get around to it for a variety of reasons. OTOH, don't know if it would've helped much, the day was tiring in many other ways, too.

Wanted to call in sick in the morning, but then found some sisu (this is some mythical collective Finnish quality that gives them the strength to work while hungover) and dragged myself over to work. Am not hungover, just tired.

What is it that makes people (myself included) feel that being hungover or being tired after doing something fun all night is an insufficiently moral reason to call in sick? Is it because these are self-induced? But so are many other things - is kissing somebody on the mouth when they obviously have a flu somehow less of a negligence than drinking too much the night before? Not to mention practicing dangerous sports... Or is it that tiredness or hangover are considered to be a lot milder than a flu? (This is almost always true for me, but some other people have milder flues and more severe hangovers.)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The mind boggles

The Telegraph had an article about 14-year-old girls demanding fertility treatments. Imagine, the poor girls have been having unprotected sex since they were 12, and now they are 14 and still not pregnant. Can't you just feel their pain?

Stress, ice cream and ulkomaalaisvirasto

Must be stressed out somehow, although not sure why. Keep seeing nightmares.

Went to see Marja and Hannu yesterday and had some ice cream at their place. Hadn't seen them for a while. Somehow I tend to get am impression that I don't see the old Aspekti people often, but they all see each other all the time, but then when I see them and ask them about each other, it turns out that they don't see each other either. Should have a party or something, except that I am definitely not having any big parties at my place until they get the door fixed.

Marja and Hannu were nice to see, and would be nice to see again in the near future. I did not manage to teach Kauri to give people a finger although I threatened to.

Called ulkomaalaisvirasto this morning, and even got through. Wanted their opinion on whether or not an existing temporary residence permit prevents a person from receiving a permament one. They have 3-year temporaries nowadays, and I wanted to know what happens if a person becomes eligible for a permanent residence permit while there is still two years' worth left in his or her temporary - will they give a permanent or will they make the person wait until the temporary one expires? The law expresses no opinion on that matter, and neither does their webpage. The woman who answered me went to consult with their lawyer for a while and then told me that yes, they will give a person a permanent residence permit even if a temporary one is still valid for a couple of years. I wouldn't take their word for it without getting this answer in writing, though.

Monday, July 05, 2004

The weekend

The weekend was lazy, as you could guess from the absence of log entries. Had some drinks Friday night with Anu and Kristiina, was a bit hungover Saturday morning but not much.

On Saturday went to have some sushi with Sini and a small bunch of cognitive science people. There is a new sushi place in Kämp, called Zen Sushi and pretty good. Well, I am not sure how new it really is but I'd never heard of it before. Was nice to see Sini, hadn't seen her for a while. Krista was there too, and I hadn't seen her in a million years. She is growing eyes, or at least it seems like every tíme I see her she's got bigger eyes than the last time. Don't know how she manages that. Timo and Catherine have a cute kid, which is amazing considering how rarely I find kids cute.

Went home, watched C'era una volta il West. It was very good in spite of the fact that it had Charles Bronson. Kind of sad though, in a "goodbye, Old West"-way.

On Sunday suddenly remembered that it was Independence Day, and decided to celebrate it, especially since Anu invited me over. Independence Day celebration calls for a cheesecake, but the only proper cheesecakes available in Finland are made by the cowardly enemy, meaning the British. (No, I have nothing against British as such but eating their cheesecakes on the US Independence Day feels somewhat unpatriotic, since they are the people we are celebrating being independent from.) Anyway, I bought the unpatriotic cheesecake, something grillable and weird thingies meant for setting a grill on fire and went to Anu's place.

The grill was fresh out of the box and in about 80 pieces, and Anu was staring at the pieces with great disapproval. There was also an instruction which, according to Anu, was written by an alien pretending to be a Chinese. The alien had not done a good job. Somehow we managed to put the damn thing together. It requred quite a bit of muscular effort since the metal parts did not fit each other quite well, but we did it. Had a very nice evening after the grill was assembled. At some point Viljo came by for a while.

Independence is a good thing. If we hadn't separated from Britain our buses would be even less on schedule than they are now, and our Chinese food would be really bad, too. Besides, they'd make us drive on the wrong side of the road.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The damn foreigners

No, I don't mean myself, of course. Nor any other foreigner who lives in Finland and either speaks Finnish or is trying to learn it. I mean the ones who don't.

It seems like a lot of them have appeared lately, much more than there used to be 10 years ago, and not as a linear function as having more foreigners in Finland. More of them everywhere nowadays, except for English-speaking countries. There seems to be quite a lot of people nowadays, most of them from English-speaking countries but some from elsewhere, who like to live abroad but don't find it necessary or even desirable to learn the local language. Moreover, many of them have an attitude of "the locals better learn to speak English if they want to talk to me" and then get upset when locals don't talk to them.

Lately I've heard, from different people in different places:

- that it's a shame the University of Helsinki has some courses in Finnish, all the courses should be in English,
- that if you find a Finn who has any communication skills at all the person will speak English anyway, therefore Finnish is not necessary,
- that it's unjust discrimination that a reasonably fluent Finnish is required for most government jobs,
- that people speak Finnish in a coffee room at work just to spite the foreigners.

One guy said that he likes living in a different country for several years and then moving on, as a way to see the world, but that he is not interested in learning local languages while he is at it. He is not the only one like that. I sometimes wonder what they see in the world when they look it it that way. This is not a rhetorical question, I am really curious.

The people with the worst variety of the "let the peasants learn the white man's language"-syndrome often make me feel like saying "sori, en mä puhu englantia". Unfortunately by that time they usually already know that I do.


I was thinking about hymens for a while now. More specifically, about the fact that a certain percentage of women don't have a hymen to begin with versus the fact that some cultures require them to.

I am wondering:

1. How high is the percentage of women who do not have a hymen to begin with? I mean "do not have a hymen" in the sense of not having enough of a hymen to bleed during their first intercourse.

2. Does it vary by ethnic group and culture? One could think that in a culture where a non-virgin bride was generally killed eventually there would be fewer women born without a hymen than, say, in a culture where a non-virgin bride was generally given back to her parents and then married off to some poor guy who could not afford a virgin.

3. In the cultures where virginity is still very important how well is the population aware that a significant percentage of virgins do not have a hymen? Are men aware of it? Women? Young girls?

4. What do they do? Do they get in trouble for not being a virgin? Do they check whether or not they have a hymen and arrange for some blood somewhere if they don't? If yes, do girls take care of that? Do their mothers?

5. Why does western literaure on the subject tend to emphasize sports and tampon usage as hymen-stretching factors, as opposed to people just being born that way? Is it because that is indeed the case, or are there some social reasons for this emphasis?

6. Why don't people in western cultures usually just have their hymen cut by a gynecologist if they have one, instead of waiting for their first intercourse to be messy and painful?

Thursday, July 01, 2004

A night visitor, a morning Stockmann, and more Leone-craze

At 5 am the doorbell rang. I reacted like a Russian, meaning that I did not make a sound and started thinking rather intensively about the locations of all the sharp and/or heavy metal objects in the house the case the visitor would be really insistent. The doorbell rang again. I waited. There was no sound of a person walking away. After a few minutes I got up very quietly and looked out through the peephole. Nobody there.

I wonder who it was. The bell ringing all by itself is pretty much out of the question. Anybody who knows me surely knows better than just to ring the doorbell at 5am. Besides, the building is not easy to get into. If it were a neighbor in distress they would probably be ringing and banging on the other doors, too. Any officials would've made more noise, too.

Couldn't sleep properly after that either.

Went to Stockmann in the morning to buy lunch. A sale just started and there was a whole army of grandmothers in the grocery department. Every single one of them had short curly hair, which is kind of amazing in a country of mostly straight-haired people. Of course you see the same in the US, too, but there there is a good chance that a lot of the grandmas have naturally curly hair. Whoever has convinced all the senior citizens of Finland to get a perm is a marketing genius.

I thought that buying and watching Per qualche dollaro in più would finally satisfy my Sergio Leone appetite. But today in a store somehow C'era una volta il West jumped into my hands and demanded to be bought, and what can you do?