Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, folks!

The world peace is too much to hope for, but may we live in the world where things work and stuff does not just mysteriously disappear - not even socks.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Juutalaiset etnisenä ryhmänä

Tämä on siis vastauksena Mikko Ellilän kommentteihin tähän entryyn. Olisin voinut laittaa senkin kommentteihin, mutta sitten ajattelin että se on ihan oman postauksensa arvoinen.

"Olen toki (lapsesta asti) kuullut ihmisten puhuvan etnisistä juutalaisista, joten ei minulle ihan aikuisten oikeasti tarvitse sentään selittää tuota käsitettä."

Edellinen kysymyksesi kuulosti juuri siltä kuin et olisi kuullut tuota käsitettä, ja tämä kuulostaa siltä kuin et olisi ainakaan ymmärtänyt sitä, joten kylläpä näyttää siltä että tarvitsee. Muutenkin: jos yrittää kuulostaa siltä että ei tunne jotain käsitettä silloin kun ei oikeastaan vain koe sitä mielekkääksi, ei kannata yllättyä jos ihmiset alkavat vääntää rautalangasta.

"En itse kuitenkaan pidä tuota käsitettä mielekkäänä. En näe juutalaisia etnisenä ryhmänä, vaan juurikin uskontokuntana."

Juutalaiset ovat silti olemassa etnisenä ryhmänä riippumatta siitä pidätkö sinä tätä käsitettä mielekkäänä vai et.

"Suomalainen juutalainen on etnisesti suomalainen. Hän lakkaa olemasta juutalainen, jos hän eroaa juutalaisesta seurakunnasta. Silloin hän on yksinkertaisesti suomalainen, ilman mitään muuta etnisyyttä."

Näyttääpä siltä että ymmärrät koko etnisyyden käsitteen väärin. Suomalainen juutalainen on useimmiten etnisesti juutalainen. Hän voi myös olla etninen suomalainen, ja jotkut onkin, tai vaikkapa etninen kiinalainen.

Etnistä ryhmää määrittelee ainakin oletettu yhteinen geneettinen alkuperä, nimi, ja se että sen jäsenet pitä sitä sellaisena. Siihen myös usein kuuluu yhteisen historian taju ja jonkin verran yhteisiä kulttuurillisiä elementtejä, joista yksi saattaa olla esim. uskonto. (Etnisyydestä voit lukea lisää vaikkapa Anthony D. Smith:in The Ethnic Origins of Nations:ista.)

Juutalaisten yhteinen geeniperimä ei ole edes oletettu vaan suht. hyvin tutkittu fakta, löytyy googlaamalla jos huvittaa. Mitä etnisen ryhmän määritelmän subjektiiviseen osuuteen tulee, anteeksi vaan, 13 miljoonan juutalaisen mielipide painaa tässä paljonkin enemmän kuin omasi. Valitan.

"Itse en kannata tällaista uskonnon periytymistä enkä näe juutalaisuutta etnisyytenä. Kaikki juutalaisten ns. etniset traditiot pyörivät kuitenkin juutalaisen uskonnon eli judaismin ympärillä."

Aika monen etnisen ryhmän ns. etniset traditiot pyörivät aika paljon kyseisen ryhmän uskonnon ympärillä, eikä mielestäni juutalaisilla sen enempää kuin muilla. Toki jos oikein yrittää niin voi löytää yhteyksiä uskontoon sellaisistakin asioista kuin Euroopan juutalaset kielet, USA:n juutalainen teaatteriperinne, bagel-ja-lohi voileivät tai pikkukivien laittaminen hautojen päälle, mutta jos lähdetään tähän niin joudutaan toteamaan että ihmiskulttuureissa on aika vähän sellaista joka ei liity paikalliseen uskontoon tavalla tai toisella.

Ja kuten sanoinkin, sun ei tarvitsekaan nähdä juutalaisuutta etnisyytenä jos et halua - riittää että me nähdään se etnisyytenä - mutta yleisesti ottaen omien näkemystensä synkronointi reaalimaailman tosiasioiden kanssa on suht. terveellinen harrastus.

Friday, December 29, 2006

"You took your children where?"

When I came to the US as a refugee and went to school there, on the first day I met a girl named Ilana, also from Russia. Among a number of other things she told me that she'd been there for 3 years and during those 3 years she'd been on vacation to Russia twice. My jaw dropped. "You've been on what to where?!"

Not that it was really dangerous, mind you. Just scary. Most of all, I just couldn't understand why anyone would want to. Russia had just started allowing former citizens to visit, and I could sort of understand people who have been away for a long time, still have some friends and relatives there and already have some civilized country's citizenship wanting to visit, but somebody who just got out of there and is stateless to boot? The mind boggles.

I can certainly understand the people of the countries that take refugees being more than a bit suspicious when the refugees who have just escaped persecution/discrimination/war in some country are going back there for a vacation just a few months later. Sometimes there is a sensible explanation, the simplest being that many countries that persecute some parts of their population don't bother persecuting foreign tourists, even if those used to be a part of their population fairly recently. This does not explain people who allegedly escaped a war going back for a nice middle-of-a-war vacation, or people moving back there for a while, or sending their children to school there.

If a person has just escaped from a place that they say was dangerous is sending his or her children back there, one can easily conclude that either a) the person does not genuinely believe that the place is dangerous, or b) the person is sending the kids to a place that he/she knows is dangerous.

Whether or not a place is dangerous can be more or less objectively measured and is generally decided by the country who is admitting refugees. Whether or not a person who is escaping from an objectively dangerous place but who does not personally believe that the place is dangerous deserves asylum is a complicated question, and I can see a few pros and cons. But what I really want to know is why people are allowed to take or even send their children to places that are dangerous?

Yeah, children are in many ways parents' property, but in civilized countries there are a lot of things that you are not allowed to do to them. You cannot beat them, you cannot rape them, you cannot even have consentual sex with them until certain age, and you will probably eventually get in trouble if you let them do fairly dangerous things. Hell, you can probably even get in trouble for leaving a toddler alone for a day, which in a properly childproof apartment should be a fairly safe thing to do. So why, pray tell, are people allowed to take their children to countries where we don't deport convicted violent criminals on account of it being too dangerous?

"Eew! Can't fuck a sick man!"

When I was younger (until 28 or so) the knowledge of a more-or-less serious disease in a sexual partner or a potential sexual partner used to make me recoil from them sexually in a short-lived but strong and completely irrational way. I don't mean any kind of disease that has any kind of immediate bearing on a person's sexual desirability, and I don't mean the perfectly rational calculation like "I don't want to attempt a lifetime relationship with this guy if he is likely to be disabled by 50", but a totally irrational "eew! ugh!" feeling upon learning that an attractive guy has, for example, diabetes, which (the feeling, not diabetes) usually passed in a day or two and never actually prevented me from having sex with the guy or at least trying to. The feeling of disgust was purely sexual, too, in the sense that it did not prevent me from touching the person in a non-sexual way and it never appeared when I learned about diseases of people about whom I did not think sexual thoughts in the first place.

(The same went for fresh injuries and missing parts, except that, of course, unlike diabetes, etc., they actually do reduce a person's sexual desirability and sometimes ability as well.)

This phenomenon was extremely strong when I was really young, lessened with age and disappeared by 28 or so.

The sociobiological explanation for this is rather obvious, but I am curious to know how common this is or isn't.

I know that some people are grossed out by the look of fairly fresh injury in any case - I once had a car accident after which my face looked pretty bad for a few months and I have actually gotten requests to hide my face somewhere until it heals up from a person who was (I certainly hope) not thinking of me sexually. I wonder if this is a part of the same phenomenon.

(A note for the socially inept: being grossed out by someone's visible injury is quite OK and possibly quite normal; actually telling a person who has just been in a car accident "eew, you look horrible, I don't wanna look at you, can't you go somewhere or at least cover your face with your hair or something" is, however, not going to earn you a lot of social points. But this is a topic for a whole different post.)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Zionist conspiracy

There has been almost no snow in Finland this year. Now look who got all our snow.

Not that I miss snow. Better them than us.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Viikonlopun saldo

Bileissä käyty: 3 (kiitos kaikille järjestäjille!)
Kakkuja leivottu: 2
Tuulihattuja leivottu: 98
Alkoholia juotu: suht. vähän, mutta johtunee siitä että torstaina olin niin helvetin kännissä
Kinkkuja syöty: 2, mutta kummastakin vain pari palaa, joten melkein kosheria
Venäläisiä ulkoilutettu: 8 (vanhempien kaverit tuli käymään lapsineen ja kaverineen)
Riisipuuroa syöty: 1 annos
Glögiä juotu: 1 annos, ja sekin oli liikaa
Joululahjoja annettu: 0 (olen kuitenkin juutalainen, perkele)
Joululahjoja saatu: 2 (miellyttävä yllätys kun en itse anna niitä)
Galactican jaksoja katsottu: 11 (aika paljon ottaen huomioon kaikki bileet)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friends and acquaintances on a bus

Sometimes I sit in a bus or some other public transportation and somebody I know comes in and sits down next to me. Usualy it's really nice to have company, sometimes I am not feeling sociable or have some interesting book I'd rather read, etc. Considering that usually I like having company and that the vast majority of people I know are not mind-readers, I certanly don't begrudge them sitting down next to me when I am not feeling sociable.

The mystery is: why do some people do that when they are not feeling sociable?

Another mystery is: why does this annoy me so much? If I am travelling with someone and they want to read or listen to music or just look out of the windows, it does not annoy me at all. But when an accidental travelling companion whom I know sits down next to me and opens a newspaper my reaction is immediately "grrr! why did you have to come sit next to me if you are gonna be reading anyway?" (No, I don't actually say it.)

Am I just weird, or are they?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This is clearly not my day

Badness:

- woke up to the alarm clock
- still sleepy
- forgot my cell phone at home
- it's really slippery outside
- found a nasty stupid bug
- which was made by myself some months earlier
- the computer was severely constipated, each deployment took 20 minutes or so
- after the update xchat mysteriously kills all my music players
- no edible food in the cafeteria

Goodness:

- the bug is fixed now
- the sysadmin stuck 1G more memory into the computer, after which it became way less constipated
- Niyazov died

All in all, not my day. Might be a great day for the people of Turkmenistan though, although you never know who'll be next.

Hope the evening will be better. Evenings usually are.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Some thoughts on immigration discourse

I've been reading and sometimes participating in immigration and multiculturalism conversations in several places, and it feels rather weird. Sort of like one picnick where several friends of mine started a rather animated conversation on the nture of being American, Jewish and Russian and I was just sipping my wine and listening.

Every once in a while I get a feeling that I've seen more refugees than all the other participants of the conversation. Sometimes I realize that I probably have, what with having spent time in a refugee camp.

I flaunt my personal experience here, but tone it down in other places. It would feel weird to say "I know what I am talking about and you don't", even when it is in fact the case. I am not sure why - I do that every once in a while on many other topics.

I certanly don't blame the participants for not knowing any refugees: you don't meet them here too often, not nearly as often as in the US. In all my time here I've known a few Russian Jewish refugees and one refugee from Sri Lanka. One can always go to one of those "cultural meetings" or whatever but this is not the same thing. What I do find strange is that you don't usually see refugees, immigrants or people who work with them take any part in the conversation.

The level of conversation is strongly affected by the facts that the topic is rather emotional and rather politically incorrect, so you often see the pro-immigration and pro-multiculturalism side screaming all kinds of politically correct stereotypes and cliches, and the anti-side blowing off steam in the most politically incorrect way possible, with stereotypes and cliches of their own. The best conversation is in people's blogs and their comment sections (I recommend Jussi Halla-aho to anyone who has not found him yet, especially his own writings); the level of conversation on various newspaper forums is quite awful (can be used for a drinking game but not with especially strong drinks).

I am rarely insulted by anything I read there by "pros" or "antis", more amused. My favorite "anti"-cliche is that young Somali men should stay in Somalia for the purpose of improving it with the aid of various weaponry. "Breaking news! Somalia ran out of young men with guns! Please send some more, urgently!" My favorite "pro"-cliche is that refugees' crimes are not really their fault, that what drives people to a life of crime is ethnic discrimination, leaving the country where they were born, having been to a refugee camp, coming to a cold and seasonally dark country where the language is strange and the people consider you a foreigner - you know, the kinds of things I've been doing for a significant part of my life. Damn. If I ever commit a crime and get caught, I know who to blame. "Your honor, stealing that dildo was totally not my fault! They called me a Yid in the kindergarden and in school, and then I spent 3 months in a refugee camp when I was 16, and I've been a kind of a foreigner everywhere all my life, and I can't pronounce my "r"s correctly, and you guys have fifteen noun cases and consonant gradation and vowel harmony, and the weather here sucks and it's so dark, too - I needed the damn dildo and I did not have money to pay for it because your taxes are do damn high!" It also makes me vaguely wonder whether the most dyed-in-the-wool "pros" run away every time they see me, just in case.

Ei noin

Lately I've been writing a lot about immigration, whom to take, whom not to take, the need for asylum, etc. While I am at it, I can as well compile a list of what Finns are or have been doing wrong, and how to fix them. The immigration legislation in Finland is quite dynamic, so I am not even sure which of these problems have been fixed already, so I'll put a date where applicable.

1. The extent to which Finns accomodate immigrants' inability or unwillingness to speak Finnish is unhealthy. It is, of course, a self-perpetuating two-way street, where the more Finns try to accomodate foreigners by speaking English, the less incentive foreigners have to learn Finnish, and the worse foreigners' Finnish is, the more Finns try to accomodate them by speaking English. Speaking English and otherwise accomodating foriegners' language needs has its legitimate uses (tourists, newcomers, elderly, printing important foreigner-related announcements in several languages, etc.), but in general if one does not speak the language one cannot integrate properly.

Speak Finnish to foreigners. I don't mean that you should insist on speaking only Finnish to a foreigner who obviously does not understand it, but you should at least try Finnish first.

2. Make them learn the language. You have little control over the law-abiding behavior of self-supporting immigrants, but you always can make the immigrants who live on public support attend language classes.

I have heard that there are not enough language classes even for the people who are willing to go there. I don't know whether this is true, but if it is - language classes are way cheaper than feeding hordes of people who are not employable because they can't speak the language.

What not to do: in 1987 when my cousin and her family moved to Israel they actually had to go to the language classes to get any financial support. Which was good in general - except that her husband already knew enough Hebrew to teach the damn classes, let alone pass them, but this did not earn him an exemption. Common sense should be allowed. But in general Israel is a fairly good example of how to teach a fairly weird local language to more immigrants than Finland has seen in its worst nightmare.

3. When I lived here as a student (until 2000) the official point of view of the authorities was that the foreign students are supposed to go back to where they came from after they are done with their studies. They kept telling me that if I want to work in Finland after graduation I'll have to go back to the US, apply for the residence and work permit from there, and then come back. I graduated in 2000 and did get a residence and work permit here without having to go back, but they made it quite clear that this is an exception made only for people who already have a job.

OK, whatever. If you don't want people to stay, this kind of smallish hassle is what you do. Fair enough.

A couple of years later somebody decided that they do want the foreign students to stay and work, and the new Aliens act (2004) makes it a lot easier. Around the same time the talk started, both in the media and on the official level, that the damn foreign students don't want to stay after their studies, the ungrateful bastards that they are, and why should we pay for the education of the people who will then go away anyway? All of the above was supported by statistics compiled during the years when they were not allowed to stay unless they were already employed. Gee, why did the fuckers all leave? Care to take a wild guess, Einsteins?

4. More on foreign students: When I was studying it was almost impossible for a foreign student to change the status before graduation. At least that's what they told me; I am not sure what the real situation was for people who wanted to change the status to that of a spouse, I was trying to change it to a worker status. I've been working in Finland full-time since the beginning of 1997. Work permits were easy to get, too. Every year I tried to change my study-based residence permit to a work-based one. Every year I was told that that cannot be done until I get my degree, and that I have to apply for a study-based residence permit. Every year I applied, and was told that I don't have enough credits and if I want to remedy this I should go and pass whatever tests I can find. Every year I went to some random exams to get enough credits (OK, for the last year they figured that the fact that I was writing my MA thesis was enough to explain the missing credits). Every year they also demanded that I bring them the paper about having 30 thousand marks in the bank, in spite of the fact that they had a paper telling them exactly how much I was earning, I had enough credit to transfer the needed money to my bank account to show them, and everyone involved knew it.

Of course I can dance elaborate dances with the immigration authorities, I've been doing it all my adult life and for a while before that, but what exactly was the point of this from their point of view?

5. The foreign workers were supposed to be divided into A and B classes, with A being permanent and B temporary. In practice most people who came to do permanent jobs and had permanent contracts still got a B permit at first for 2 years. The 2004 law was supposed to fix it, and maybe it did.

6. Refugees and suchlike: there used to be a time (in the 1990s) when people who applied for asylum were not allowed to work while waiting for their application to be processed. WTF? Isn't it enough that we pay for the upkeep of the people who don't want to work - should we also pay for the upkeep of the people who are not allowed to work? I don't see any reason, ever, to deny the permission to work to anyone who is already supported by tax money. I have been told it has since changed.

7. If a person applying for asylum and waiting for the application to be processed in the meanwhile finds some other reason to be in Finland, for example a job, and then the asylum application is denied, the person is (or used to be) deported, even though the job by itself would normally be a sufficiently good reason for a residence permit. It there some point in this? One could think that a person who is capable of finding a job while waiting for the asylum application to be processed is just the kind of easily-integrable immigrant Finland claims to need.

8. A lot of people have to renew their residence permit every year, and the renewal takes 6 months or so, and as a result you have a huge complaint choir of foreigners singing "we can't travel for half the time because the police took our passports". There is a easy and legal way around this: bring your application many months early and ask them to make a copy of your passport and let you keep it until the old residence permit runs out. This way you keep your passport and can travel while they are processing your application, you don't annoy them, everybody is happy. But does anyone actually inform foreigners of this option? Of course not. They'll tell you that if you ask them, but considering the size and the volume of the complaint choir, it should be written on the wall and on the webpage in big friendly letters.

9. Before 1995 foreign students were given a KELA card (renewable every year) and some but not all social benefits: for example health care. In 1995 they decided that the new foreign students are not eligible for the state-subsidized health care.

Sorry, you really can't do this (or at least shouldn't). In any place with state-subsidized universal health care having a group of people outside the system means trouble. Finnish private insurance system is not designed to handle people who are outside the state system, and in fact refuses to handle them. YTHS is your friend for most routine stuff but it won't help you in most emergency situations. Anyone living in Finland without a KELA card is truly screwed if something happens. Don't do this to people.

Religious tensions

Europe's Muslims face rising islamophobia, says the new report by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.

In other news: Jews are four times more likely to be attacked because of their religion than Muslims. At least in the UK.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Yes, it does work

A lot of people who oppose taking refugees tend to say things like "it's better to help people where they are", "it's better to give development aid to poor countries", "people should fix their own country rather than run away", etc.

Some even say that young Somali men should not be in Finland running away from the war, but should be back home, bearing arms and making Somalia a better place.

For fuck's sake. Isn't Somalia's problem exactly that it is full of young men with guns who are each trying to make it into their or their clan's version of a better place? Mind you, as I have said before, I understand - and totally share - some people's concern that letting them into Finland would lead to at least some of them doing a smaller version of the same in Finland, and fear that they might make Finland a worse place, but the idea that Somalia would become a better place if 1 or 5000 more guys run around there with a gun is rather preposterous.

I am sure all the delelopment aid would have helped Tutsis when they were being murdered by Hutus, the population of Cambodia while it was being murdered by Khmer Rouge or - sorry for the overused example - the German and Polish Jews during the Holocaust. I am sure it helps all the persecuted minorities now. You know, every dollar or euro you send to Iran makes the Baha'i minority so much happier and every cend you sent to Egypt makes someone see the light and stop persecuting Coptic Christians. Yeah, and the heroic warriors of the UN are gonna show up and rescue the people of Darfur real soon now. On white horses, you know, with Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy riding right along.

As for "fixing your own country" - sure thing. Normally said by people whose country is in no need of a major fixing. George-fucking-Bush has been at it (fixing Iraq to his liking) for three and a half years now, and spent quite a lot of money, and you see how well that worked out, and you seriously expect my old coworker Niddam (an Iraqi Christian) to transform Iraq into a fit place for a Christian to live?

Refugees are real, they have real problems that really usually cannot be fixed by giving more money to whatever country they are trying to flee, and they need a real place to live in a real country. We definitely can't take them all, we definitely have a right to put our interests first, and there is definitely no reason to take in the people who are going to cause trouble, no matter how much they need our help, but let's not pretend that the problem does not exist, because it does.

Taking refugees does help. It works for individuals, it works for groups, and if you do it right it works for the receiving country. I've seen it work (and experienced it, too). "Doing it right" involves choosing them well, showing them their place, kicking the working-age ones out to work as soon as possible and kicking the criminal ones out of the country, also as soon as possible.

Some things that follow directly from the fact the refugees are real, numerous, and in need of help:

1. There is many or them, and you can choose. You can choose groups that are less trouble than others, and you can choose individuals that are less trouble than others. If you don't know which groups are more trouble and which ones are less, study the example of other countries. (A hint for the really dense: if a guy has been persecuted in Saudi Arabia for being an Islamic extremist you probably don't want him. If he considers Saudi Arabia a godless secular society, imagine the kind of shock the poor dear will have in Finland. He'll probably drop dead out of pure outrage, or else you'll wish he did.)

2. You can and should expect them to be grateful, at least to the extent of living reasonably law-abiding lives and eventually earning their own upkeep if they are working-age.

3. For every criminal refugee that you choose to keep here there is somebody, somewhere, who needs asylum and is not gonna get it. I understand the argument that the ones already here are our responsibility to a higher extent than the ones who want in - I just happen to think that in this case the benefit of kicking them out outweighs the drawbacks by such a large margin that the argument does not hold. You may also say that the number of the refugees already here does not affect the numbers if the ones that we are going to take in the future, but inevitably it does. The quality does too, even more so. People's willingness to help refugees in general tends to go down when people see refugees committing serious crime and getting to stay in the country afterwards. People think "we'll rescued those guys from their hellhole, and see what we get for it" - and can you blame them?

On cultural relativism

My last posting on multiculturalism and immigration was reposted in a few places, including this Suomi24 thread. I don't feel like going there to discuss it; anyone from there who is interested is welcome to comment here, in English or in Finnish.

A couple of people there criticized my way of measuring the relative quality of cultures by the number of people who want in or out as subjective, and reflective of my values, and said that there is no "really real" objective measure for the quality of a culture. Of course they are right: my way of measuring the quality of a culture rests of the assumption that the purpose of the culture is to make life good for its members; if one starts with the assumption that the purpose of a culture is, say, to get as many of its members to heaven as soon as possible, the measuring criteria would be different.

Of course this is my opinion, expressed from my point of view. And of course there can be radically different points of view, and they occasionally express different opinions, sometimes even with a rather loud "boom". However, since we have already established that the standards of quality of a culture and ways of measuring it are indeed a matter of opinion, I think I have a right to have my opinion on it, to express it, and to consider my own opinion to be the right one. Moreover, a society as a whole also has a right to have an opinion on this, and to express it, and to make legislation based on it if deemed necessary.

In addition, in this particular case, my opinion (that the purpose of a culture is to secure as good a life as possible for its members) seems to be rather overwhelmingly popular in this particular culture. There are some (mostly imported but sometimes also homegrown) religious fanatics who think that the purpose of a culture is to serve the deity of their choice as well as possible, and a lunatic human-extinction fringe who thinks that the purpose of a culture should be to die out as soon as possible and leave our beautiful Earth to birds and bees and whoever, but my exact point was that we should try to avoid importing more of the former; as to the latter, the very fact that they have totally failed to make themselves extinct makes me doubt their sincerity somewhat. In fact, the fact the the senior leadership of the "let's blow ourselves up for Allah" movement tends to live to a ripe old age without any personal hurry to meet Allah makes me doubt their sincerity, too.

Anyway: if you take a sufficiently distant view, then there is no objective good or bad, everything is subjective, etc., etc., but you don't have to take this view most of the time. I have an opinion on the purpose of culture, which I think most of the Western society shares. I am pointing out various things that follow from this opinion and the observable facts, and I am making policy suggestions based on them. Policies are made up by a particular society for its own purposes, and tend to reflect its values. Cultural relativism might have its place in philosophy or anthropology (I am not familiar with either of them well enough to be sure), but it sure does not make for good policy.

A new MP3 player, and evil USB problems

I bought a 1G Creative Zen Nano Plus. Which was sort of weird, because I only own about 300M of mp3s. Oh well, I am gonna rip some more.

When I stuck it into my USB port the computer did not react to it in any visible way. /var/log/syslog said things like "usb 2-4: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 2" and "usb 2-4: device not accepting address 2, error -110". After swearing many times at the device, I figured I would try it on my other Linux (the grandmother of all the ancient laptops), and it worked like a charm. Considering that I have sever other USB devices that work with the old Linux but not the new one, I figured there must be some problem with the computer and not with the player.

Luckily for me, there is always Lasu and www.linux-usb.org. I said the magic words "rmmod ehci-hcd" and everything started working properly.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Evil MP3 players

I have owned 3 MP3 players so far:

1. A Transcend that ate headphones all the time. I'd use headphones for a little while, and then one of them (or half of it) would stop working. After breaking 4 cheap headphones that way I brought the damn thing back to Verkkokauppa. This lovely thing for some reason always started from the first song when you turned it on, and sometimes skipped to the beginning of the playlist all by itself.

2. Verkkokauppa was out of Transcend and gave me an iLyn that was really great at reproducing a broken LP effect and did this all the time. Not being a great friend of broken LPs I brought it back to Verkkokauppa.

3. They gave me another iLyn. This fine device was at least mostly usable. At first its only problem was an occasional refusal to play anything, which was always fixed by traditional methods such as rebooting. In addition it sometimes skips little bits of songs, or entire songs. These are always the same songs, except that with time there becomes more of them. It's too late to bring it back to Verkkokauppa now.

In short, the most satisfying use one could get out of any of those three devices is shoving them up the ass of their manufacturer. I have started to wonder whether their small size and somewhat rounded shape reflects the fact that the idea has at least occurred to the manufacturer as well.

Is there such a thing as a properly working MP3 player, or do those things exist only in fairy tales? If anyone has seen any of those, can you tell me what it was? I want to know what to buy. (I would also like to know what not to buy, so any advice on that is also appreciated.)

What I want from an MP3 player:

- it should at least play MP3s. Ogg Vorbis is also nice but not really necessary.
- it should be able to record speech, too.
- it should have some way of showing the name of the file.
- it should not do stupid things like revert to the beginning of the playlist every time you stop it.
- it should be easily mountable as a USB drive on a Linux machine.
- it should not imitate a broken record, skip songs all by itself, boot itself for no reason, destroy headphones or small countries, or anything similar.

Does anything like that exist?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Third-world immigration and multiculturalism

Some cultures are better and some are worse. This is indeed rather obvious from observing different countries. The worse cultures might have some particular isolated advantages over the better cultures, some cultures are in trouble due to some acute geopolitical issues through no fault of their own, and a lot of cultures are ranked so close together that you can't easily measure which one is better. Nevertheless often you can measure the relative level of the cultures by immigration and attempts to immigrate: if every year 1000 people move from place A to place B and 5000 people are trying to do so unsuccessfully, whereas 10 people move from B to A and there is no 11th person standing in line, then place B is nicer that place A. Regardless of whether or not all those 1000 immigrants keep complaining how Everything Was Better Back Home.

(Immigration as a measure of niceness of a place is somewhat affected by the fact that some places have stricter immigration criteria than others, but you get the idea.)

For example, Finland is a much nicer place than Somalia, as evidenced by the fact that a lot of Somalis want to move to Finland and very few Finns want to move to Somalia.

And let's face it: the reason why we can't let all the Somalis move to Finland and live happily ever after is that Finland is a nice place because it is inhabited by the Finns, and Somalia is a bad place because it is inhabited by the Somalis. If all the population of Somalia comes to Finland and brings the Somali culture with them, Finland will become a worse place. Inevitably.

While Finns' good life is the natural product of their culture and Somalis' bad life is the natural product of theirs, and both cultures are currently more or less enjoying the rightful fruits of their labors, individual people obviously do not choose to be born in Finland or Somalia. Sorry for the cliche, but being born in a first-world nation is a lucky lottery ticket, and it is quite understandable that a lot of people want to share it with the less fortunate. Having been one of those less fortunate I certainly have no objection to the idea, in fact I am quite grateful for it. However - both having experienced the life outside the West and living in the West now - I have an interest in the preservation of the West in general and the USA and Finland in particular as a nice place to live. And so do you. And this means limiting the penetration of other cultures in some ways.

Every immigrant whom you let into the country (including me) changes it. The same is true for every Finn born here, but the extent of change is a lot smaller since Finns are much closer to the mainstream of the Finnish life than foreigners. Most people would bring both positive and negative changes. Some people bring a lot more negative than positive changes. Every time a fairly large group of people from the same culture or similar cultures comes in, the changes will be substantial. Any immigration policy with a common sense, especially one that hopes or expects to admit more immigrants than now, should take this into account.

In general, bringing in a lot of people from country X will make your country a bit more like X. This is not quite the case when the sample you are bringing is not representative of the general population of X: for example, if you bring in a large group of Iranian Baha'i, you are not making your country a bit more like Iran, you are making it a bit more like Iranian Baha'i.

Most cultures have at least something nice in the way of food and entertainment, but generally speaking you don't want to bring most of the things that constitute third-world cultures.

If you want to take a fair lot of immigrants and still want the West to remain the West, as opposed to becoming more similar to the third-world cultures, you have to favor the immigrants that are more Western-minded, as opposed to the ones who are less so. You'd also have to tell them that the West is a place where people live and interact with each other in the Western ways, and enforce it.

This does not mean that they should all raise their hands and swear on the Finnish-language edition of the Bible that Fazerin Sininen is the best milk chocolate in the world, but it does mean that they should eventually be able to say so (or otherwise) in Finnish or Swedish (assuming they live in Finland), it does mean that they should not beat their sister over the head with an iron bar for failing to marry whoever their parents tell her to, and it does mean that they should not want to install Sharia here, or, say, want Finland to become a part of Russia. The latter is quite important: even if a group of people is planning to behave according to all your laws, you don't want to let in a large group of people whose political goals are so far away from yours.

Sorry for boring everyone with this topic at a time when Finland has so few immigrants and officially wants to have more, but, as we say in the old country, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Besides, the integration here does not seem to go very well, and most other Western countries seem to have integration problems as well. These things should preferably be talked about before you have burning cars and neighborhoods that the police are afraid to visit, rather than after.

(See? See? I've only lived here for 12 years and am already giving the locals advice of how to conduct their immigration policy. Told ya!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"...ja se Adolf oli hyvä jätkä, mutta harmi kyllä jätti hommat kesken..."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Gentlemen and gentlemen! Welcome to the Second Holocaust Conference. On the agenda: 1. Holocaust never happened. 2. Holocaust was a good thing anyway. 3. Bloody Hitler hasn't finished the job, and if you can't trust Germans to see things through, who can you trust? 4. Imminent destruction of Israel. 5. Imminent death of the Internet (film at 11). Our guests of honor include American scholar David Duke (University of Ku Klux Klan) and representatives of the most pious Orthodox Jewish sect, Neturei Karta.

David Duke: Antisemites of the world, unite!

Antisemites of the world: Ugh, of course we hate Jews but this is embarassing.

Hassidim(changing into red clothes and dyeing their beards blond): No shit this is embarassing. The fucking Neturei Karta look just like us, and they went to Iran.

People of Israel: What, all of them? Hurrah! Hey, guys, let's not let them back in!

People of Iran: Argh, those guys are Israel's secret weapon! Incoming! Run!!!

Neturei Karta: We are against all evil: Enlightenment, the Zionist entity and taxes. Especially taxes. We are also running out of money ever since old Yassir kicked the bucket. Please give generously.

Hamas leadership: Sorry, we can't support any old antisemitic Jewish group right now, we don't even have money for explosives. We can't steal as much money as Yassir, you'd have to be Kofi Annan and work for Halliburton to do that. Hey, why don't you hit Mad Jad for money?

Rabbi Weiss: We the Jews who perished in the Holocaust would like to claim our right to be more anti-semitic than any other people in the world.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I knew this guy was a vampire! (Stakes him.)

Grand Ayatollah #1: Are those Neturei Karta guys more fundamentalist than us? This is not acceptable.

Grand Ayatollah #2: They have longer beards, too!

Grand Ayatollah #1: But our turbans are way cooler than their stupid hats.

Neturei Karta: You bet your sweet ass we are more fundamentalist! You have not evolved in the last 1400 years, we have not evolved in 3000! Nor taken a shower, either.

Everybody: Down with Israel! Down with Israel! Down with Israel!

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Israel is gonna fall real soon now! As soon as we acquire our peaceful nuclear power!

Ehud Olmert: Hah, those crazy fuckers want to have nucler weapons just like the US, Russia, France or us? And yeah, by the way, we are still continuing our policy of ambiguity on whether Israel really has nukes or not.

Vladimir Putin: Policy of ambiguity? I like it! Listen, everybody, Russia is pursuing the policy of ambiguity on the death of Litvinenko.

Neturei Karta Rabbi #1: Hey guys, we are in this country where everything is supposed to be 1600 years more modern than us, and we still can't get any women!

An Iranian guy: Maybe you should try a 1600-year-old woman?

Neturei Karta Rabbi #2: Women? I read about them in the Torah. Do they still have them?

Neturei Karta Rabbi #1: Yeah. They are most useful. That's how you get the new little Neturei Karta. Besides you can put them to work and then you don't run out of money even when Hamas has payroll problems.

Neturei Karta Rabbi #2: That's so cool! So why don't we have any?

Neturei Karta Rabbi #1: Because secular guys got them all!

The Grand Ayatollahs: No shit! Even here the other guys have got all the women and we have to do with 9-year-olds. But don't worry, they grow fast.

Neturei Karta Rabbi #3: What's wrong with this country? All the women run away as soon as I open my mouth! Feels almost like back home in Israel.

A Hamas guy: The proper term is "Zionist entity".

A Hezbollah guy: The proper term is "Little Satan".

Neturei Karta Rabbi #1: Hey, their president is kinda cute! And he got a shorter beard than any of us. I'd prefer a real woman, but he'll have to do. ( Kisses Ahmadinejad)

Neturei Karta: Mazel tov!

The Grand Ayatollahs: Hey, we saw him first! Get your Zionist hands off our President!

Neturei Karta: Anti-Zionist!

The Grand Ayatollahs: Whatever.

Fred Phelps: Fucking faggots, all of you! Don't you have any female cousins?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On the Net nobody knows that you are a dog

Lately I've been reading some forums on immigration and writing in a few of those. They are generally populated by the people for are "against immigration" and people who are "for immigration" (the proportion varies depending on the forum) and the latter make really interesting assumptions about the former. I got to hear that I (usually I as the part of the other side, although I am not even anti-immigration, but rather anti-multiculturalism) have probably never met an immigrant, let alone known one personally, and am just afraid that they will come and seduce all our women. And am secretly a heterosexual man anyway.

I should probably be angry, but things like that just amuse me too much. The Internet is the only place where I can still get called a flat-chested bitch, and being suspected of being a horny heterosexual man who has never met a foreigner and is afraid of them is even more fun.

Nobody, however, ever outdid one of my newsgroup admirers about 12 years ago: "You sure don't sound like a typical Finn. Finns are usually quite drab, sort of like people from ex-USSR".

Friday, December 08, 2006

Men, women, looks and pressure

I am not a particularly good observer of social trends, and especially not of social pressure, so tell me if I am way off base here:

I keep hearing about women feeling the pressure to look good, and the society applying this pressure. I don't feel it that much myself (I mean, it's nice to look good but I don't feel like other people expect me to apply effort to it, except maybe my mother), and I am quite sure that most people do not expect all women to dress up, wear heels, wear makeup and elaborately style their hair all the time. And yet the fact that there is a significant number of women who feel like all of the above is expected of them probably means that there is a also significant number of people who expect them to do so.

Anyway - I don't feel much pressure in this regard, partly because I hang out in the more relaxed circles, partly because I don't watch TV and partly due to being rather thick-skinned. On the other hand I notice the pressure applied to men fairly often - so often that sometimes I wonder whether there is really more of it or whether I am just less desensitized to it than to the one aimed at women.

Regardless of the gender of the targets: I have read many articles complaining that people are expected to do unnatural things to themselves in the name of beauty, and I can see people being annoyed at that, but IMO the pressure to be naturally beautiful is a lot more infuriating. American women are expected to shave their legs (you can leave them unshaved but this is considered a "statement"), and it's a bit annoying, but not nearly as much as in Russia of my teenage years, where women were expected to have naturally hairless legs. It's really tiring to have to fake being natural all the time. Hurray for everything fake, I'd say.

And that's what I think the pressure on men is. I hang around in circles that are farily relaxed on that too - thank god - and I think the attitudes in general got more relaxed in the last ten years or so, but when I was a teenager they were quite strong, and not only in Russia. I have always wondered how guys could stand it. They were (are?) basically expected not to do anything to look good, to pretend not to care about their looks at all, and yet they surely knew (at least I hope so) that their potential sex partners will judge and select them, among other things, on the basis of their looks.

(The obvious and significant exception from the above are the muscle and weight issues, because you can always refer to health, sports and general manliness.)

I have always wondered about this socially encouraged fatalism and how rigidly it was enforced. The basic idea is that if you look good naturally, great, if not, don't even think of trying to do anything about it. The men who tried to dress nicely attracted some degree of ridicule, depending on the social environment. Makeup? Forget about it. Higher heels or thicker soles on short men made people laugh and point. And the things some men said about long (or sometimes dyed) hair on other men tended to awaken an amateur doctor Freud in me. (I should write a whole separate post on hair, beards and sexual selection.)

Guys, aren't you annoyed by all that? Or do you just shrug it off?

Not that the attitudes haven't changed. Among educated urban people - at least the ones I know - styles of clothing vary greatly, an earring on a guy is common enough not to be noticed anymore, makeup does not shock most people, even though it does make one suspect that the guy is going to a costume party, and the one and only long-haired guy who complained that long hair makes people assume he is a new-age bunny-hugger - well, I suspect that it was not as much the hair as all the new-age bunny-hugging he was and still is doing. Nevertheless, the more you get into the redneck country (either socially or geographically) the more male adornment is frowned upon.

Always wondered where that came from. If I were the kind of person who likes conspiracy theories I'd say that the naturally good-looking guys developed this kind of thing to prevent the guys who are somewhat less good-looking but could use an improvement from competing. Seems like a kind of negative-sum game, though.

I think that the other side of the coin is a pressure on women not to take men's looks into attention, or rather, since this is very obviously absurd, not to admit to paying attention to men's looks. The way some women keep insisting that looks don't matter is pretty pathetic. A classical example, of which I have unfortunately seen too many, is a woman saying that she does not mind guys being fat/short/bald as such, but such guys have less confidence and that makes them less attractive. For fuck's sake... Most women are wired to prefer normal to fat, tall to short, hairy-headed to bald, and beautiful to ugly, and this is unfortunate for the fat, the short, the bald and the ugly, but there is no great shame in admitting to the fact. OTOH, blaming your own attraction to the good-looking men on the alleged personal shortcomings of the unattractive men is, in fact, pretty ugly.

I find the whole thing rather annoying and ridiculous. Every time I see a guy sneering at another guy's long hair or facial moisturizer something inside me laughs and points and thinks "here's a loser who is really worried about another guy getting an advantage", and every time I see a woman blaming her lack of attraction to a particular kind of men's looks on these men's alleged lack of self-confidence something inside me laughs and points and says really nasty things about that woman's self-confidence. Sometimes rather loudly.

Our Russians

Now that a Russian-language pro-Putin newspaper appeared in Finland in one blog's guestbook some people were asking about the integration of Russians abroad. I figured I'd better write about it here, rather than fill up other people's guestbooks with my ramblings. I am obviously writing from personal experience, which is mostly limited to the USA and Finland.

One word of warning: the ex-Russians who like Russia and those who don't are two different crowds and don't mix much, or well. My experience with the other half is limited mostly to either the people who were nice enough that I felt like hanging out with them, or the ones obnoxious enough as to be quite memorable.

Anyway, us (the community I have spent a good portion of my teenage years in, the Soviet refugees that came to the US in the 1970-1990):

Pretty much everybody works, except for the old people. The environment I grew up in is typical for the educated classes of such refugees, but pretty much all the blue-collar people work too.

My parents are engineers. Most of their friends are engineers too, but some are university researchers, doctors or businesspeople. They mostly hang out with others like themselves: Russian Jews who came in the 70s, 80s or 90s while being in their thirties or forties, work in professional jobs and don't like Russia much. Most of the people who came back then are Jewish and don't like Russia much. Sometimes they also hang out with gentiles, native-born Americans, or immigrants from other countries. Patriotic Russians are mostly avoided like a plague.

They don't read Russian newspapers or watch Russian TV, but they do buy Russian books and CDs, and they do shop in Russian food stores regularly. The food that they buy there is usually made in New York - or sometimes in Finland. They mostly only buy the Russian music and movies that they used to like back in Russia, but sometimes somebody finds something new, and then it spreads through the community.

They all speak English, with variable success. Some are almost accent-free, some make the kind of grammatical mistakes that would make language teachers commit group suicide.

They travel a lot, mostly in Europe. Some have been to Russia since leaving it. Some make fun of them for that.

Sometimes they meet Russians who live in Russia and talk about it. They listen and yawn politely. Sometimes they run into the kind of Russians who live in the US but hate it and say that in Russia everything was better. They usually suggest that the fucking morons could bugger off back to Russia.

Some of them don't care whether or not their children learn Russian; some hire teachers to teach them to read and write Russian; neither want their children to participate in bilingual programs in school.

They startle native-born Americans by an unusual selection of political views. The native-born folk are not accustommed to hearing, say, support for same-sex marriage and support for the war in Iraq from the same person.

The children are more or less American. Some of them remember Russia and don't want to have anything to do with it. Some don't, and are curious, and go for a visit.

The old people watch Russian TV (made in NYC) and read Russian newspapers (also made in NYC). Some of them care about Russia, some don't. All of them shop in the Russian food stores. Sometimes they call dollars rubles, and the other way around. Sometimes they watch hockey and scream "we won from us 4-2!", and then you have to ask them which we won from which us. There are English classes for the elderly, but few of them learn the language well enough to communicate. Hospitals have Russian interpreters available and a lor of Russian staff anyway; some services are available in Russian, for some, you need to come with your own interpreter. In this case they just grab the nearest Russian kid.

The "proud to be Russian" crowd exists but is not numerous, and I have had no contact with them lately. My parents have seen a couple of them last year, and they are still talking about it like about a visit to the zoo.

The favorite hobby of the Russians is getting together and talking about how they don't like Russians. It lasts for a while and then they get distracted by other topics.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Litvinenko, again

Litvinenko's father said that his son converted to Islam on his deathbed and wanted a Muslim burial.

Whatever. Does not surprise me. Would not surprise me if he suddenly grew horns on his head, and Putin too. Wouldn't even surprise me if it turned out that every single politician or former or current FSB agent turned out to drink blood and be able to live without oxygen. Or to have made The One Ring.

Talked to my father a couple of days ago, and he suggested an answer to why Litvinenko was killed in such a way instead of a traditional hit-and-run. Litvinenko was closely watched by British security services and had to be killed in a manner that was not immediately obvious - anyone who'd make an obvious kill, such as hit-and-run, would have been caught. And while getting away with murder that everyone is sure you've committed but nobody can prove is kind of cool, getting caught red-handed at it would be kind of embarassing, even if you don't really get punished.

"Oh dear, why are they afraid of us?"

The commander of Estonia's armed forces, Major General Ants Laaneots, said that Russia is the biggest security threat to Estonia. “We border on an unfriendly state, to put it mildly," - he said, and, much to the suprise of the sweet and innocent Russian authorities, he did not mean Latvia or Finland.

“Using the diplomatic language, I could say that such statements evoke perplexity and concern, that they are impossible to understand,” said Russian defence minister Sergei Ivanov.

If he means it literally he probably needs to be watered every day. He has less understanding than the basil plant on my windowsill, and the poor plant has been dead and dry for a month now.

He also said that the leaders of Estonia and Latvia should stop taking Russia and its people for extraterrestrials. Man, check out the Russian web forum in Finland. Aliens really do live among us, and I don't mean it in the sense of "resident aliens".

OK, explaining it really slowly for vegetables, aliens from outer space and Russian politicians:

Imagine that I am your neighbor, and I am raping you in the ass with a spiked eggplant. (That assuming that you don't enjoy this kind of thing - if you do, imagine something unpleasant instead.) Imagine I'd been at it for 51 years, except for a 3-year break right in the beginning where somebody else came and kicked me out and raped you in the ass with an eggplant until I came and kicked them out and continued. Imagine also that I have raped all the other neighbors I possibly could, and tried to rape several that I couldn't. Imagine that 15 years ago I stopped on account of running out of food and having bigger problems, and since then I did not apologize, have treated my neighbors with all kinds of contempt, kept saying how grateful they all should be to me for rescuing them from whoever raped them for 3-4 years 50-60 years ago. Imagine also that I am still much bigger than you and have a large collection of spiked eggplants.

Wouldn't you still be a little afraid of me? Or would you suddenly believe that I am all about hugs and puppies?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy Independence Day, Finland!

Happy Independence Day, Finland.

Good thing you got out of Russia when you did. Russia sucks.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Musya

By popular request (blame Simo):

She was for all intents and purposes my third grandmother. In fact she was one of my grandmother's numerous elder sisters - the eldest, after WWII was said and done.

I'd never thought of her that way before I started writing this, but she was the only normal person in the family by the current Western standards. She would say a lot of things that one can normally expect to hear from a fairly well-adjusted and good-natured 20-year-old literature student in the University of Helsinki. This might not seem like much to you, but she was the only person like that around. I have no idea how a creature like that could have grown up on one of the nastiest borders in Europe in some of the most interesting times, but she did. I also have no idea how this kind of attitude can survive in a place where everyday interaction with strangers, such as buying sausage or returning bottles for deposit, required a lot of yelling, threats and general unpleasantry. In the 75 years of her life Russia did not stick to her much.

She was born in 1908 in the village of Kublichi on Russian-Polish border (the border has moved several times after that; currently Kublichi is deep in Belarus), the fifth child out of seven. The family did not pay much attention to the kids, and they did what they wanted. What Musya wanted was to read books, both in Yiddish and Russian. At some point the border moved and they never saw the oldest sister or brother again. (They were murdered in 1942 with all their spouses and children, except for one who escaped.)

Musya decided to become a Russian language and literature teacher, moved to St. Petersburg, went to the pedagogical university, visited her family when she got a permission (they were so close to the border that suspicious strangers, such as the children of the residents, had to have a special permission to visit), got married at 21, got a baby, graduated, saw Communists hound her father to death and kill her brother-in-law - in short lived like all normal Russian people at the time. Then Bella - her daughter - died of scarlet fever at the age of 3, and they got divorced.

At that point she had a job, two little sisters in St. Petersburg, a brother in Pinsk, a newly-widowed sister in Senno, two siblings in Poland whom she would never see again and a mother back in Kublichi.

I should probably write more about her and less about her surroundings, but on the eve of the Independence day I find it useful to remind my mostly Finnish audience what they became independent from. Although I think they kind of remember it without me.

Germans came and made Musya the eldest of her family without any regard of whether or not she was up for the job. She had two little sisters left, each of whom was very different from her: Fira, who was - to put it charitably - not the sharpest knife in the drawer but became a doctor because her boyfriend's father was Somebody Important in the medical school, and Rivka - my grandma - who was very smart and extremely harsh and became an economist. During the war they all evacuated somewhere near Ural mountains and Rivka was trying to take care of her more inept older sisters the best she could.

After the war they moved back to St. Petersburg (Leningrad, whatever) and Musya got married again, to a relative named Yakov Ryzhik. He was a good man by all accounts, but was fairly sick and died in 1962, after which Musya moved in with Rivka and her family.

Rivka's family consisted of a fairly obedient husband and a teenage daughter Lida - my mom. Lida was as harsh a person as Rivka, but with completely different temperament and interests. One could expect two such people to fight, but if they did they never told me. Rivka continuously told Lida how to live that included such little details as which university to go to and who to marry. Lida said "sure, mom", hanged out with her friends all the time and did whatever she wanted. Rivka almost never read books, but Lida rather liked them and was pleased with the mild-mannered aunt Musya who not only read books but also liked to talk about them.

Lida grew up, went to university (not the one her mother told her to go to), got married (not to the guy her mother told her to marry, either), had me, and so I inherited Musya.

My parents were young and liked to have a good time, and sometimes they left me home alone, but for more prolonged periods they left me with my grandparents and Musya. They lived on the other side of the city. I tended to slip into Musya's room as quickly as was politely possible.

She had a sofa that could be extended into a bed and a cupboard with way more books than grandma and grandpa. She was the only old lady I knew who had long hair, and apart from her own long hair she also had a hair thing that she added to her own hair in order to make a high bun.

She was really sweet. She did not yell when I sat on her glasses by accident or borrowed her hairpins on purpose. She really talked to me (and in general to people) and really listened. She had a strange fixation on making me write things and then correcting orthography and punctuation. I usually obliged. I've always wondered since then whether many retired language teachers do so or whether it was just her.

She gave me adult books to read and asked me what I think about them.

As I already said, she never yelled at strangers, even when the situation required it. And it's not like she was shy - she talked to strangers very easily, it's just that she did not like social conflict.

When I got older we talked about people, relationships, sex and stuff like that. Just exchanging opinions, that's all, but she never told me to bugger off and find out experimentally, like my mum, or shut up about this disgusting topic, like my grandma.

One conversation went like this (I was 9 or 10)

"Musya, what are homosexuals?"
"They are men who love other men, you know, the way a man loves a woman. With sex and all."
"But they don't have... do they do it in the ass?"
"Probably."
"Is there anything bad about that?"
"Not really. It's a fairly icky thought to me but that's probably because I am not a homosexual."
"Musya, why is that illegal then?"
"Dunno. Why is crossing the border illegal?"

For all her love towards Russian language and literature Musya did not want to stay there. Almost all my family wanted to leave, with varying intensity, but she was very upfront about this. We spent countless hours talking about life in other countries. She was the only person in my family besides myself to study English in spite of uncertain prospects for leaving, and considering that she was 70 and had no formal teaching she was really good at it. She knew a lot of words and managed to put them together with reasonably good grammar and a terrifying Yiddish accent.

She died three and a half years before we left. That was 22 years ago, and I still sometimes get those "Musya would have liked it here" or "Musya would have liked that" moments.

Monday, December 04, 2006

He had weapons of math instruction!

A teacher was disemboweled and ripped apart by motorbikes in Afghanistan for teaching girls against the Taleban orders. Very Mad Max-style. Mohammed Halim was 46, and he was the fourth teacher killed in Afghanistan's Ghazni province lately.

In the same article Fatima Mustaq, the director of education at Ghazni, describes the death threats that she gets regularly and that also extend to her husband and eight children, and how she and her sister got beaten up by authorities for teaching algebra to girls.

The Taleban are much into burning girls' schools anyway. They also threaten to cut noses and ears off teachers and students. In the first 6 months of this year they managed to disrupt or shut down about 300 schools.

A few girls's schools also gets burned down in Pakistan every one in a while. Muslim brotherhood used to burn girls' schools in Egypt and the revolutionaries used to burn them during the Islamic revolution in Iran.

In totally unrelated news, a new group in Gaza, "Just Swords of Islam", has warned Gaza women to wear hijabs or be attacked by acid, and said that they have already thrown acid on one immodestly dressed woman. These are the same guys that attacked a number of music shops and Internet cafes in Gaza last Wednesday with bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.

"We will have no mercy on any woman who violates the traditions of Islam and who also hangs out in Internet cafes," they said.

Hamas officials denied any connection to the group, noting that their movement does not resort to methods of "intimidation and terror" against the people. Hey, people, stop giggling.

All the Islam-advertising webpages (the same ones that never tell you about the death penalty for apostasy) usually say that Islam is totally for the equality of the sexes and if some Islamic countries (ok, let's face it, all Islamic countries) treat the women otherwise that must be due to some bad pre-Islamic habits that still remain. Sure thing. This leaves us two questions:

1. How come on average the more secular a Muslim country is the better women are doing? Compare, for example, Turkey and Saudi Arabia?

2. If the bad local habits and traditions in those countries are so strong that 1400 years of totally gender-equal Islam have brought so little in the way of actual equality, what are the implication of this for Western countries' immigration and integration policies?

People, we have the social skills winner of the year

"Beauty isn't on the outside, it's on the inside" is a rather trite and uninformative thing to say under the best of circumstances. When people say it they either mean that in human interaction physical beauty is not the only thing that matters, which is rather self-evident anyway, or that people should totally disregard physical beauty in looking for sex partners, which is, well, highly unlikely and generally causes resentment because people usually don't like to be told how to select their partners.

In any case, this is the kind of thing that you probably should not be saying anyway. One place and time where you really, really should not be saying it is when your son is on trial for throwing acid in two people's faces. When one of the victims is saying that her life is strongly impacted by having a badly scarred face, "beauty isn't on the outside, it's on the inside" is not the right thing to say. No, no, definitely not. It pisses off the victims, the jury, Miss Manners and the bloggers in faraway Finland. It elicits a "your momma" kind of comment from the judge. Besides, considering that at least one of the vicitm was a memeber of the local drug-dealing community, it just might lead to the situation where your bowels are not on the inside, they are on the outside.

Sheesh, I still can't believe that the bitch said that.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Another one gets poisoned

Former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar has recently become sick on a visit to Ireland, and now his doctors believe that he has been poisoned.

Former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko has recently died of polonium-210 poisoning, and the Russian authorities have been hinting that it must have been done by emigrants who want to incriminate Putin.

OK, gotta admit it: it was me. Every time I want to write something really snarky about Putin I pull my trusted old mini-nuclear-reactor from under the bed, irradiate a bit of bismuth in a saucepan, stir with a big spoon and poison some FSB defector. If I have some of it left over I make a miniature nuclear weapon for entirely peaceful purposes, such as destroying Russia and unplugging my toilet. Preferably simultaneously.

(For the humor-impaired and secret agents: I do nothing of the kind, but if you want to look under my bed I recommend that you wear some clothes to which dust sticks well.)

Russia's nuclear chief said that all the polonium produced in Russia goes to the United States. Sure thing. I'd been hearing that ever since I was a little kid. "All the sausage that we produce goes to the grocery stores", etc.

Several airplanes (that have been flying between London and Moscow, what a surprise) have been contaminated, and a number of locations in Britain. 30-something thousand people who flew on these airplanes afterwards are advised to see a doctor just in case. I can just imagine the cleaning bill for all that. Makes you miss the good old times when they just shot people or ran them over with a car.

Apropos polonium-210: lovely stuff, used for nuclear weapon initiators, 0.12 millionth of a gram is enough to kill a person when ingested. Aren't you all happy that Iran now produces stuff like that on its own for whatever peaceful purposes it might have? Thought so.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ahmadinejad's letter to Americans

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written an open letter to Americans. The basic idea: "aren't we all for everything good and against everything bad, and isn't everything Zionists' fault anyway?".

It's an interesting letter, and fun to read, especially if you are reading it simultaneously with State Department's human rights report on Iran. The basic idea of the latter: "holy shit!".

I mostly just felt like presenting these two documents together, but maybe I should answer the man, at least on some points:

"Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities."

Yeah, I've met a few dozens of your, ahem, Iranian compatriots, although they would have probably punched me in the nose if I called them that. They told me everything about escaping Iran in a truck through the mountains and being pursued by the Guards of the Islamic Revolution, who were undoubtedly put there the by US authorities.

"Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn't?"

Mahmoud, meet Umm Nidal.

"Let's take a look at Iraq. Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially."

You should know, you have financed half of it.

"I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure."

You are absolutely right, it's a waste of money that could be spent on much worthier causes, such as destroying your nuclear facilities.

"You have heard that the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. "

As opposed to, say, issuing fatwas that call for killing your presumed opponents all over the globe? Or, say, organizing terrorist acts in Argentina?

"The US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of "the war on terror," civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death."

Oh, dear. Truly, as Mark Twain has said, "Who write the temperance appeals, and clamor about the flowing bowl? Folks who will never draw another sober breath till they do it in the grave." Just fucking look at yourself, or better at your own civil liberties and judicial due process.

"It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice."

Go for it, man.

In somewhat-related news, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Fazel Lankarani has issued a death fatwa for the Azeri writer Rafiq Tagi, for portraying Christianity as superior to Islam and Europe as superior to the Middle East. I just hope the poor guy did not say that Islam is a violent religion that calls for killing its dissenters and opponents, or some other outrageous Islamophobic lie like that.

As to Ahmadinejad - well, it's a free country (the USA, not Iran), and the USA's human rights record did become worse in the last 5 years, and this is a fact that does not depend on whoever says or does not say it - but if you lecture a person who is having a drink on the dangers of alcohol while you yourself are lying drunk under the table in your own vomit, expect people to laugh and point.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Move over, Religion of Peace! The People of the Book are coming, and their books are heavy!

There was a Jewish riot a few days ago in New York. Not Jews against infidels, of course, and not even regular Jews against regular Jews, but rabbis and yeshiva students (rabbis-to-be) against other rabbis and yeshiva students. It was about some obscure theological topic that is beyond the ken of a simple laywoman like myself. Hitting each other with benches and prayer books. During the Chabad Lubavicher annual conference of emissaries.

Chabad Lubavicher is the biggest Hassidic sect. There are about 200 000 of them.

The coverage is here and here.

In the end the police arrived and took the esteemed theologists to the nice cells in the station house, where they have surely continued to discuss important points of Hassidic theology without the help of any dangerous weapons.

This is kind of embarassing. I know a couple of Lutheran theologists, and I cannot imagine them trying to hit each other over the head with prayer books. Mind you, I always knew the Lubavicher were weird, but not that weird.

OTOH, these people should probably go help Israel. Just tell them that the Arabs have been saying bad things about rabbi Schneersohn, and Arabs will flee in terror to avoid being beaten to death with a prayer book. On the other hand, the Lubavicher will probably also scare the Jews, the Christians and the camels.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hypocrisy, identity, nation state, nomadism and life

In my thirties I have discovered my inner hypocrite. (What is a polite and politically correct term for a hypocrite nowadays? "A person of inner contradictions"? "Complicated-American"? Whatever...) I discovered that I am ready to believe in one thing and want another, to preach something and do something completely different, etc. I wonder if that is why young people in the Sixties used to say "never trust anyone over thirty"? I wholeheartedly agree.

It started on 9/11, when I realized that I would glady have a billion or so people die just so that my plans of going back to Finland would not be disrupted. Not, mind you, "have a billion or so people die" in the sense of ordering anyone to kill them, or voting for them to be killed. Just, you know, wishing for them to be dead, without any actual action to bring that about. There was some soul-searching, both about why I might have such evil desires, and why I wouldn't act on them if I happen to have them. I settled on the comforting thought that my feelings are one thing, my decisions are another, and I have so far usually been able to keep them apart fairly well.

Except that it does not quite work that way, now does it? It works well enough for me when I feel like breaking a bottle on somebody's face but settle for saying "bugger off". But in politics feelings matter, even the feelings of the folks with reasonably good impulse control. I am not in a "kill a billion people now" kind of mood nowadays, but sometimes I want fairly radical things to be done. For the most part I want them deep in my heart, I don't demand them, wouldn't vote for them, and would not give our leaders permission to do them - but I would probably forgive them afterwards, and they probably know it. And this by itself changes the political landscape quite a bit, especially when there are a lot of people wanting the same thing.

Lately I also realized that I would like the people of the civilized world to have a little more children. This makes me feel vaguely hypocritical too, considering that I am certainly not having any myself.

The third thing that I have been thinking about lately: a number of people have been saying that the erosion of the nation state and the emergence of supranational identities are a bad thing, leading to citizens who have no loyalty to the state they live in and instead are loyal to some global entity - say, Ummah - and that the current problems with Muslims are just a first big one in a series of coming problems with supranational identities, and that it would be good to streengthen the nation state and to weaken the supranational identities. I sort of agree with them for the most part, in that I much prefer my neighbors to be loyal to Finland than to the Ummah, but damn, should I even have the nerve to say so out loud? I think I should be at least blushing saying this, considering that I am a descendant and a part of a culture that has been a rather strong supranational identity for at least the last couple of thousands of years.

Obviously Jews are usually much better integrated into non-Jewish societies than Muslims in non-Muslim societies, but it still feels weird and sad to say about Muslims exactly the same things as many people in Russia were saying about Jews (they have no loyalty to our nation and are more loyal to Jews/Muslims everywhere, etc.,etc.). When I was 14 and the newspapers started writing things like that my parents showed them to me and said that all this talk about the loyalty to the nation means that we gotta go sometime soon. Truly I have become one of those people that my parents have warned me about. (I am still mostly right, and the polls of Muslims at least in the UK confirm it. Incidentally those people who were saying those things about us were also right, at least as far as I was concerned.I have no loyalty to Russia whatsoever, nor ever had. I tend to think of it as a lesser problem, though, because first of all we are talking about me, and second, when we are feeling disloyal to a nation state we have a tradition of packing up and moving to the next country rather than trying to fix the old country one bomb at a time. I can recommend it.)

I am very much a descendant of a nomadic tradition. There are few countries in Europe where my ancestors have not lived, and few moments in my family history when three generations of the same family were born in the same country. We come, we learn the local language, we find jobs, we live there, then at some point the going gets tough, we pack up and we go.

Naturally not all of us like it, as is evidenced by the creation of the state of Israel - although even there Jews come and go. I am very glad that the Jews who want a nation state of their very own have it, but it's not my thing, and not just because Israel has hot weather and bad neighbors. I am kind of accustommed to living among infidels - having a large Jewish community around would be a nice bonus but I would not know what to do with a nation state of our own.

The degree of individual adjustment varies, but in general we know the drill. Learn the language, don't piss off the locals, try to meet new people, get an education, get a job, watch out for trouble, pack fast if you need to, know when it's time to move, although on the last one a lot of us did not perform too well in the last century.

Personally, the nation-statey thing has never caused me much of a headache. I say that I am an American when somebody asks who I am, because I am an American and have a passport that says so. I am not particularly bothered about whether or not I am worse American than somebody who speaks English with one of the American accents and likes baseball and apple pie. At some point I hope to become a Finn too, and am not going to agonize over whether I have become too Finnish, or not enough. I have never gotten around to agonizing on whether or not I am a good Jew, either. I am fairly loyal to the US, Finland and the Jewish people as a whole, and to a certain degree to the Western civilization as a whole, too. Any serious conflicts of loyalty are not very likely to arise and will be decided of a case to case basis. I have no loyalty to Russia, where I was born, and see no reason why I should. (Uhm, is somebody seeing a parallel between me and the young angry Muslims born in UK who say they have no loyalty to it? Shhh! Seriously, though, when Jews started feeling disloyal to Russia more than a million of them packed up and left without planting a single explosive device on a single subway train, whereas some Muslims in UK did just that, and I can't fail to notice that Muslims are mostly moving into the UK and not out of it.)

A friend to her (American Jewish) son who went to work in Kiev: "Sweetie, Ukraine is one of those places where Jews come from. It's not one of the places they should go to!" But I digress.


Anyway: nowadays I sometimes think that a lot of problems in the world comes from the fact that a lot of people are moving from country to country without any idea how to do it right. Muslims are the most visible case, but they are by no means the only one. Nowadays it's easy to move, easy to maintain contact with the old country, easy to live without ever having to meet people and easy to get hung up on the identity issues. Maybe I should give prospective neonomads some of my learned advice:

- Learn the damn language. Now. Today.

- The locals have the numerical advantage, and don't you ever forget it.

- The locals will probably want to maintain their numerical advantage.

- The locals really can exterminate you, even if both you and them imagine otherwise. Don't give them any reason to do so. If they start doing so anyway moving away from them might be a good idea.

- If the locals and their country truly suck, move elsewhere.

- Changing the place one bomb at a time is not likely to make you popular.

- Demanding that your religious laws be adopted in your new country is not likely to make you popular either.

- Get an education, and a job. This is probably a good advice for anyone.

- Meet the locals. It's good for you. Try to make it good for them, too.

- No matter what you do the older generation will tell you that you are doing it wrong. They should be packed safely for the trip and preferably appeased with nice food.

- If you are wondering whether it is a good idea to exchange all your property for a ticket out, it probably is.

- Don't agonize over identity. If you are wondering whether you are A or B, you are obviously both.

- Don't agonize over finding balance between your identities. It will eventually be found. Your children, if any, will find it too. Mind you, it probably won't be the same as yours.

- Do all your paperwork properly and don't expect immigration officials to be nice to you.

- Don't get too hung up on nature. You might miss Finns or Germans or Eiffel tower, but they probably have forests and rivers and what-not in the new country.

- If you've been at it for a couple of thousand of years, be extra respectful in your people's cemeteries. Some relative of yours is buried there anyway.

- Again: if the locals and their country truly suck, move elsewhere. I can't understate the importance of this, and I don't only mean it in a "put up or shut up" way but also in a "don't be unduly optimistic" way. Some places are just bad.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"...and lightning shot out of her ass."

"Lightning exits woman's bottom"

Ouch.

Now that's my kind of a seminar


Sosialidemokraattiset opiskelijat SONK ry. are having a seminar on immigration, integration and xenophobic right
. I sort of have a vague feeling that I should go there and say something, what with being an immigrant, integrated, xenophobic and right.

OTOH I already have better plans for tonight and the Social Democrat students are not gonna listen to me anyway.

"Bombs are flying, people are dying, children are crying, politicians are lying too..."

In the news:

An ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has died in London after being poisoned by god knows what. Russia is, as I said, is back to basics.

Lebanon is back to basics too: an anti-Syrian politician, industry minister Pierre Gemayel, has been assasinated. He was 34. Damn, and I thought that it was bad when 5 years ago I ran into a doctor younger then myself. Now even assasinated politicians are younger than me. Anyway, there was a lot of "Lebanon is standing on the brink of civil war" headlines yesterday. I hope there won't be any "Lebanon has made a great leap forward"-headlines tomorrow.

Iraqis has also been rather more back to basics than usual and blew up about 160 of each other yesterday. I think it was the Sunnis' turn this time. Who the hell put the Sunnis and the Shia in the same country anyway? Uhm, the Ottomans and then the British.

In a way more novel development there was a tear gas attack on the Stockholm subway yesterday, in the vibrant multicultural neighborhood of Tensta.

In weird news: an ink factory blew up in Danvers, MA. (This is fairly "close to home" for me - sort of like Kerava blowing up.) Luckily there were only minor injuries, but about 100 homes were damaged and about 25 totally destroyed. Eek, I am not buying ink from those people.

OJ Simpson has crawled out from whatever rock he was living under and tried to publish a book describing how he would have done the murders if he had done them. The publisher has cancelled the book due to public criticism.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Democrats trying to make Republicans electable again

Representative Charlie Rangel (NY-D) has proposed to reinstate the draft. I know that his does that every time he has a bad day or is constipated or something, and his proposals tend to get defeated 402-2, but this is really a bad fucking time for stupid draft proposals that even in better times would make 70% of electorate want to burn you at the stake. I somehow suspect that the man has the IQ of George Bush and the situational awareness of John Kerry.

Yeah, we might not have enough soldiers to attack everyone we want. This probably means that we should either attack only some of the countries we want, or pay our soldiers better salaries. You, know, this works just like packing for a vacation: think about how many countries you want to attack and how much money it will need, and then attack half the countries with twice the money.

Speaking about John Kerry: he says he is gonna try running for president in 2008. Ugh. I thought the man should have figured out by now that joking in public is not good for him.

Monday, November 20, 2006

You just can't parody them

Iran has complained to the UN that Israel was threatening it.

"Iran's activities have prompted speculation that Israel might launch preemptive strikes to destroy its nuclear facilities, as it did in Iraq in 1981 when it bombed a reactor at Osiraq.

The speculation increased after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year threatened to "wipe Israel off the map," a statement Iranian officials have argued was not a threat."

You hear, Israel? Don't say anything about considering preemptive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, just say that you will wipe the whole fucking thing off the map. It's not a threat, officially.

Back to basics

It looks like Russia is back to basics: mom, denaturated alcohol and assasinating dissidents abroad.

On not writing

Haven't been writing for a while now. The last post might give the readers the idea that I was working on my relationship or on ending it, but in fact that all happened just tonight.

I have just been pretty sleepy lately, and had rather low energy. Part of it was work stress, but I am not sure what the rest of it is. Just sleepy and very unenergetic all the time. I am not feeling sick or sad, nor have any issues with it being dark outside. Weird. The only thing I managed to do was working and occasionally being sociable in person.

Another thing is that I am afraid I am turning into a 24/7 jihad bore. I write about it a lot; I think it is the most important issue of our times and well worth writing about, and yet I sort of feel bad about boring my readers with it all the time.

Oh well. Soon I am gonna finish writing about my US vacation and then everyone will be so bored that they will say "bring back the anti-jihad ranting!".

Been to a lovely party yesterday. The party featured some wonderfully absurd elements like a dance mat and a video call to (or from) Japan on Skype. It was great to see Yoe, and there is something inherently wildly absurd about having a big screen that talks to you in the middle of the party.

Blaah

That's it for this relationship, then. Killeri and I are not together anymore.

I don't feel particlularly in need of congratulations or condolences (or maybe just a little bit of both). Nothing particularly dramatic happened, I just guess many relationships have a beginning and an end and the end was overdue. One can still freely invite us to the same places at the same time without a fear of any incivility or drama happening. Even to the same orgy, although orgies have been unfortunately rare lately.

Hey, it was pretty good while it lasted.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Migraine

Had a rather colorful (literally) migraine episode yesterday. I was feeling bad all day, for which I unjustly blamed the salad eaten in the morning, and then I started seeing the zigzags.

This happens to me on average once a year, and I hate it with a passion, although I feel a little bad about complaining since so many people get real mega-migraines, fairly often and with severe headaches... I guess mine are mini-migraines. They are amazingly consistent: a zigzag line shaped like a horseshoe with its open end facing right appears at my 11 o'clock and starts shimmering, pulsating and being very annoying. Then it gradually moves to the left until it disappears from my field of vision, leaving me with a vague suspicion that it still exists somewhere where I can's see it.

Yesterday was different in the sense that the thing was colorful. The zigzag line consisted of very bright geometrical shapes shimmering, changing into each other and changing colors. It was sort of like having a screensaver in my head. I closed my left eye and watched a dance of art deco diamonds and triangles on my nose with my left.

It was entertaining in a way, but I am glad this kind of thing does not happen often. I wonder what kind of auras other people see, although googling seems to suggest that most of them are quite similar to my own.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Elections

Long time no write. Been too sleepy, have too much to do at work and have been rather sociable in my free time.

A couple of weeks ago a true miracle happened: I got an absentee ballot from the election commission my old hometown of Newton, MA. Just got it by asking for it, without having to ask several times, yell at anyone and threaten anyone with lawsuits. Amazing. Everything works. In Newton. Go figure. They must have learned from the previous scandals.

Voted, too. Barney Frank (D) for the House (he was the only candidate and besides I happen to like him) and Kenneth Chase (R) for Senate (the man sounds like a weasel and has no chance, but this was just a "bugger Kennedy" vote on my part).

Voting feels rather futile when you are registered in Eastern MA. No matter who you vote for you end up with a Democrat. However it feels nice to vote just because I can. Even if it's just for our Barney who has no competition.

(No competition is not strictly true: the ballots have an empty space when you can fill in any name and vote for that person.)

Every federal election seems more and more frustrating than the last one, and not just because my vote does not matter. It's because of Democrats and Republicans. Can't stand them. Don't like Libertarians either. And Green-Rainbow will be the first guys against the wall if I ever become the queen of the world.

Nowadays it seems like everyone who has an opinion on anything is a Republican - no matter how contradictory their opinions might be - and everyone who has no opinion about anything (in the "we are for everything good and against everything bad" way) is a Democrat. You have no idea what the Republicans stand for and a fairly strong idea that the Democrats do not stand for anything, except maybe "We are not the Republicans and we hate stupid Bush". If a Democrat does stand for something, he generally gets kicked off the ticket and has to run as independent from some party named after himself, such as Connecticut for Lieberman (that's Joe Lieberman, not Avigdor).

IMO there is only one important issue in this election, and this is the War on Isl... I mean Terror. As far as I can see the Democrats are in denial of the whole thing, and the Republicans try to do random things with unpredictable results. Bugger them all.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A terrorist state

Argentine prosecutors asked federal judge to order the arrest of former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven others for a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people and wounded more than 200 others and was the worst terrorist attack ever in Argentina.

Iran, as usual, described the accusations as a "zionist plot".

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"And if you don't do your homework, you will become our courageous men and women"

Putin seems to have gotten serious competition as far as making dumb jokes is concerned: John Kerry.

In a speech at the Pasadena City College in California, Kerry said: "Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Later he claimed that this was a) a botched joke and b) orchestrated by assorted right-wing nut jobs. Yeah, and the selfsame right-wing nutjobs shat in your pants, too. Please, senator, make up your mind.

Mind you, I do share some of the Senator Kerry's stereotypes about the educational attainment of what politicians normally call "our courageous men and women". However, I am just a right-wing nutjob with a blog, whereas Senator Kerry has tried to get elected to be, among other things, the Commander-in-Chief of those who do not study hard or do their homework.