Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Twenty years ago...

...nothing happened in Chernobyl. At least nothing that anyone would see fit to tell us.

Two or three days later, there was a two- or three-line article in the newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya to which we subscribed due to the constant shortages of toilet paper. It said that there was a small accident in the Chernobyl power plant. My parents took one look at it and said that the accident must have been huge, and that they would appreciate if I don't spend more time outside than necessary during the upcoming long weekend. I balked at that because it seemed ridiculous due to the distances involved, but my parents sounded like they meant business. On my way from school I checked out all the newspaper stands, realized that not only all the newspapers of the western communist parties disappeared, as was normal after every big event, but even the newspapers of the communist countries were nowhere to be seen. "Bugger," - I thought, - "My parents must be on to something."

It was a beautiful weekend, nice weather, and all the 1st of May demonstrations proceeded as planned, in Kiev as well as everywhere else. (Demonstrations were normally organized by promising people a day off work is they showed up.) Nobody said that anything was wrong anywhere. Can't fuck up the 1st of May, you see. I spent the weekend at my place and those of my friends, drinking and partying inside.

The shit hit the public fan on the 2d or the 3d. Suddenly the newspapers and the TV were full of the news of a huge accident in Chernobyl the week before. The mayor of Kiev advised all pregnant women, especially ones who have been outside during the 1st of May, to have an abortions. The rest is history.

Aside from history: people who worked in healthcare told stories of people from Ukraine being brought with the symptoms of radiation sickness and later being issued death certificates that said "heart attack". An acquaintance from Lithuania got called up for reserve duty, and when the reservists showed up their call-up letters were taken away and they were ordered to sign volunteer papers (if something happens to a called-up reservist the army has to pay; if something happens to a volunteer, it doesn't). Said acquaintance volunteered a pig in order to avoid volunteering for Chernobyl. And Geiger counters suddenly became very, very forbidden devices.


As Bridget Jones would have said, am a woman with inner poise and own apartment now. Except that she would have said "flat" and not "apartment". And not so sure about the inner poise, either. Or outer.

Anyway, now the apartment is officially mine and I'll be moving there sometime in June. Got a fixed 4.35% rate for ten years - let's see how that works out.

Inner poise, OTOH, was quite strained after I bought a piece of spinach and feta pie from cafe Rouge in Kamppi terminal for breakfast. I asked them specifically whether has any onion. They say it didn't. Well, they were wrong, and I noticed it at the point when the onion and the pie came back up (that's what eating onion usually does to me), at which point our meeting with customers started and I promised one of the bosses that if I have to throw up during the meeting I will do so in a totally ladylike way.

I returned the damn thing to cafe Rouge, suppressing the urge to also return the part that was eaten and then came back up. Got my money back, but no other compensation or even apology. Bugger them.

During the apartment sale we all got a glass of sparkling wine, a pen, and a candle glass. Since don't have any candles, am wondering whether the glass can be used as whisky glass.

Monday, April 24, 2006

V for Vitun Huono (some spoilers)

I know you are supposed to suspend your disbelief at most movies, but I did not find any chains sturdy enough to suspend it from.

OK, near-future paranoid totalitarian dystopia is not quite my genre, what with having actually lived in a near-past paranoid totalitarian dystopia. They tend to look a bit unrealistic. This, however, was excruciatingly bad even as near-future paranoid totalitarian dystopias go. It just felt like the parts of the society they describe do not fit together at all, which is what you get if you put together a bit of current bush-like rhetoric, a bit of Holocaust references, a bit of 9/11 conpiracy theory, a bit of Frankenstein, a few random victimized groups and one dominant ideology which is neither believable nor sufficiently visible.

Where are the huge slogans on the walls? And do the fuckers really think that in a society where people get dragged away just like that for minor things people actually spend time in a bar yelling "bullshit" at the TV? Or make comedy shows about the High Chancellor?

The characters are all certifiably insane, and you need at least some LSD to even begin to understand their motivations. This goes not only for the main characters, but for all the ordinary people as well. V's plan for the revolution is of the kind that can work only in a very bad movie, and I kept wondering all the time why doesn't Evey just hit V over the head with something heavy. I sure would.

In addition to that, for once they get a reasonaly pleasant-looking actor and they have him wear a mask all the time. And don't even get me started on Natalie Portman's hair.

OK, it could have been worse. They could have had very bad special effects and horrible pacing, but they didn't.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The art of teasing

China's president Hu Jintao has given Bush Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and a lot of my friends immediately decided that it was a great way to tease Bush.

Regardless whether Hu is in fact making fun of Bush or not, I found the very idea quite strange. If I were doing something (say, baking) and somebody gave me a book on how to do it better, I certainly would not take it as teasing. In fact I would be quite pleased.

Bush got a fancy bilingual edition printed on silk, too. I'd love to have one of those too, but I guess you have to start a real war in order for people to start giving you really nice editions.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mark Steyn on Ahmadinejad

You can read the whole thing here, but here is the passage I liked best:

You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The tinfoil turban man speaks again

Iran has successfully enriched uranium last week. For entirely peaceful purposes, I am sure. Using the same meaning of the word "peace" as in the "Islam is a religion of peace". They say they will have 54000-60000 centrifuges in two years.

The tinfoil-turban-in-chief said that they don't want to attack any country (Israel obviously does not count as a country) and that their army is mighty and can kick anyone's ass. Let all the enemies tremble and die! He also predicted the demise of Israel, and donated Hamas 50 million for that purpose.

Dr Hassan Abbasi, head of the Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies in the Revolutionary Guards, promised that "Britain’s demise is on our agenda". That's after they are done with israel and the US, I suppose.

You know, if Iran's current leaders were featured in some movie critics would say that the bad gays are way too evil and insane in a cartoonish way, and totally unrealistic. Totally unrealistic, but yet totally real. How do you deal with heads of state who are absolutely insane, absolutely evil, or both? I mean, how do you negotiate with someone who is for all intents and purposes undistinguishable from the kind of folks who are generally kept in rooms with soft walls and forcibly given antipsychotic medication?

Life: weekend good, camera evil

Still overwhelmed with life and therefore not writing a whole lot. It gotta get better after I actually buy that apartment. OTOH, there is a lot to do at work and in general. Also, all kinds of devices started falling apart on me: even the blender sounds like a helicopter.

Weekend was good: had some food and drinks with Anu and Killeri on Friday to celebrate Easter and Passover (does kosher wine go well with mignon eggs?), visited Nelonen on Saturday, had a nice game session on Sunday and Heli came over on Monday. Weekends should always be 4 day long.

My camera fell apart and started taking pictures that are way too light and full of light horizontal stripes. In one of the pictures one of Janka's and Orava's cats is blue in the face, which is not really the case. Took it to Stockmann for repairs (the camera and not the cat). They promised to fix it in 1-2 weeks.

Still not sleeping well.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Minä: Vois nyt paistaa lammasta.
Killeri: Lammas sanoo "bää".
Minä: Eikä sano, ei ainakaan paistinpannulla.
Killeri: Lammas sanoo "sshhh".

United Airlines Flight #93 cockpit voice recorder transcript


Year of absurdity: Evolution

Yesterday my Evolution suddenly decided that it wants to write messages from right to left. No amount of changing the input method had any effect on this. And no, I do not have Hebrew or Arabic keyboard installed anywhere.

Booting Evolution did not help.

Today it has miraculously recovered all by itself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

There is some life besides apartment-hunting

Visited VPK and Ning last Friday, and we had a lot of sushi. Was a lot of fun but I am afraid that I bored Ning with too much political conversation. Will try to be better the next time.

Finally had a praedor session after a very long break. My character was quite surprised that somebody got decapitated without her assistance.

Had some sparkling wine with Anu, celebrating the fact that Sonera finally got around to installing her net connection. Note to self: don't buy broadband from Sonera. Which leaves us with the question: who do I want to buy broadband from? It looks like Saunalahti does not deliver to my new place. Suggestions are welcome.

Got a call from a tv-looper (I think it's a good name for a person selling tv-lupa). Threw four 6d-dice against my willpower and did not start explaining to her that her profession is obsolete, since with the smallest tv-tuners weighing 22 grams and costing 50 euros they might just as well give up on finding them in people's homes. Especially mine. Hell, my friend Tanya once lost a big suitcase in my home and could not find it for a while.

Filed my taxes like a good American. As a reward got the Finnish tax declaration to check and fix. Graah. They used to do it more or less by themselves.

Apartment-hunting is a hard job...

...but now I got one. Or rather we reached a binding agreement with the seller. Now I am gonna spend a few days stressing on whether I want Euribor, 5-year-fixed or 10-year-fixed. An American in me says "10-year-fixed" but there must be a reason why most people here take Euribor.

During my adventures in apartment-hunting I saw a number of amazing things, such as a building where residents are not allowed to change their stove and especially to switch from gas to electric stove, and a building with its very own summer terrace.

Am very wound up, haven't slept for more that 3-4 hours a night for god knows how long.

Friday, April 07, 2006

News from the tinfoil turban brigade

Mohammad Abu Tir, the high-ranking Hamas politician and terrorist of the red beard fame, found out our latest evil dark secret:

"Even the churches where the Americans pray are led by Jews who were converted to Christianity, but they were converted to keep controlling the Americans," he said.

Damn, aren't we mighty! And from the height of my mighty fashion sense I have a tip for this guy: a tinfoil kaffyeh (that's an Arafat-style towel for you infidels) goes very well with a bright orange beard.

OTOH, Hamas has just encountered objective reality in the form of an empty bank account and did not like it much. What would the Prophet do if the ATM machine ate his card for overdrawing his account? Apart from killing somebody to feel better, I mean. Now they are proposing a long (until they get better bombs?) ceasefire in hope of getting some cash. I say everybody else should hold out until the whole Hamas government comes to sit outside with the posters "Will recognize Israel for food".

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hasidim riot in Brooklyn

This sounds like an April Fool joke, but it's not. Angry mobs of Hasidim have been rioting in Brooklyn after one of them got arrested for talking on a cell phone while driving.

I guess my future tinfoil turban factory should also have a line of tinfoil yarmulkes.

In the news

An unprecedented amount of caribbean coral reefs died recently. Bugger. They used to be cute.

Abdul Rahman, the man who was on trial in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity, was released due to the lack of evidence and sanity, and was given asylum in Italy. Are we going to have the same kind of circus every time somebody converts to Christianity in Afghanistan, or will all the converts from Islam to anything else be declared insane by definition? The latter idea does have its point, because IMHO committing apostasy in any visible way in a country where it is punishable by death is not a particularly sensible and balanced thing to do.

Rahman's brother was quoted as saying "He has had delusions the whole time that someone is persecuting him and wants to kill him." Uhm, you mean like all the clerics and a lot of concerned citizens in Afghanistan demanding his death? I guess being paranoid does not mean that everyone is not against you.

Some of the clerics said that Abdul Rahman's conversion is a Jewish conspiracy. Truly we are mighty and powerful if we manage to arrange for people's conversions to Christianity in remote and unpleasant countries. Hmm, if we are so powerful maybe it's not a bright idea to piss us off? Imagine how embarassing it might be to find a Bible under your pillow and religious police behind your door, especially if you are one of the clerics who has given people death sentences for less.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar has a dream: a map without Israel. Which makes me think that it might have been a great April Fool joke to have written "Tuomioja says: 'I have a dream: a map without Russia'". Oh well. Next year, maybe.

I am still considering opening a tinfoil turban factory.

In much better news, doctors at Wake Forest University in North Carolina learned to grow bladders from people's own cells and inplanted them into patients. So far, so good, and they are considering doing this with other organs too.

I ain't dead

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly realised that some banks want to give me a mortgage, which was kind of surprising, and am now shopping for better mortgage deals and apartments, which interferes with sleep, blogging and everything else.