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".