Monday, December 31, 2007

Three laws of flu

1. As soon as your nose starts running, you realize that you can't find any tissues, even if there were three packs of them around the place yesterday.

2. As soon as you drag your sick and sorry ass to the store, buy some, and get home, all the lost tissues mysteriously reappear.

3. As soon as you realize that you have lots of tissues, your nose totally stops running and the runny nose is immediately replaced by sore throat and awful coughing.

I ain't dead

Despite a way-too-long pause in blogging, I ain't dead, or even hung over, or out of town, or depressed, or destroyed my computer in an endless quest for a perfect hardware upgrade. I simply had my parents over, and we went to Stockholm, and some friends or theirs came over, and some friends of mine came over, and then they all went to their respective homes, and then I got a cold, and then I slept most of the weekend.


The highlights of the last week:

- One trip to Stockholm is good, two is even better.

- Ville sang a cool Christmas song when they came over: "we wish you an infidel holiday, we wish you an infidel holiday, we wish you an infidel holiday and a happy new year!"

- They make tiny little baby iPods and my mom brought me hers. It has to be a love child of two normal-sized iPods. The thing is most weird: it works like a flash drive but doesn't really want to play any of the music that you put on it like in a normal player. You need some extra software on your computer to make it play music (I used gtkpod).

- Where did all the perunalaatikko disappear from the stores right after Christmas, where?

- I bought a number of Christmas lights after Christmas, to use as permanent decorations for my place. They are very pretty. It seems strange now that there used to be a time when the Christmas lights were not LED. In fact they sell some non-LED lights even now.

- Come to think of it, gotta get me one of those Christmas electric candle thingies to use as a menorah. I have a menorah but it's meant for use with real candles, which means it's pretty useless for me.

- My mom accused my dad of rocking the boat too much. The boat in question was Viking Line's Mariella.

- In an unprecedented event in human history the washing machine returned one of the socks it previously stole. Problem is, I don't recognize it as mine. Hope it belongs to my parents and did not come from the alternate universe of lonely socks.

- I bought some viking-style bronze jewelry in Stockholm, and now I feel vaguely guilty about them being symbols of some pagan gods and being unbecoming for a good Jewish girl to wear. Especially since yesterday somebody asked me which god's symbol the spear was and I had no clue whatsoever.

- Parents make fairly good house pets.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Life

Didn't feel like writing much political stuff lately, and feel a bit annoyed by the political stuff I read, too. Sometimes (like now) I get a very strong feeling that almost everybody, probably myself included, really has some feelings-based agenda and any rational stuff we say is just a rationalization. This is probably at least partially untrue, but this feeling doesn't encourage writing much.

This will probably pass pretty soon.

I am feeling better though, the Stockholm trip was definitely good for me.

The plan for the next 5 days is eating, drinking, socializing and possibly sleeping. Also the annual vaccuuming. Probably won't be blogging much anyway.

The spring is probably coming, because I feel like upgrading my computer. Computer upgrades are sort of a basic human need, like food and sex, but how did the humankind fulfill it before computers were invented?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lt. Frank Drebin visits Angola

Remember Lt. Frank Drebin, the hilarious moron from The Naked Gun? Remember his conversation with the mayor:

Mayor: Now Drebin, I don't want any trouble like you had on the South Side like last year, that's my policy.
Frank: Well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in front of a full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy.
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare In The Park Production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones!


Well, apparently the moron is alive and well in Angola.

A police unit in Luanda saw a movie being shot in some crime-ridden neighborhood, apparently mistook the actors for real armed robbers, and shot and killed two actors, and wounded three. I guess the armed robbers in Angola always do it with the movie cameras and a crowd of onlookers. Must be their culture or something.

The police had been warned about the filming, but the shooters appeared to belong to an elite unit. I see.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The first rapist

Google earth is fun to play with. Sometimes you find useful information, sometimes rather useless but entertaining. Like, for example, the exact coordinates of the bush where somebody tried to rape me for the first time.

The memory is not particularly traumatic, because he did not succeed and because it was such a long time ago - I was 10. Mostly I was just amused that the bush still exists.

Sometimes I wonder about the guy. Was I the first girl he tried to rape (he was 15 or 16)? Was I the last? Did he learn that this was in general a bad idea? Did he learn to use thick gloves or to silence them with something other than his own hand? Does he still have the scar from my bite? Is he long dead from some other kind of stupidity?

(A guy who tries to rape somebody in the middle of the day in a park in winter, within a screaming distance from the police and a very crowded tram stop: definitely not an Einstein.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stockholm

Stockholm was beautiful. The company was good. The wine was good. Making a character for an upcoming game was fun in an absurd way. Stockholm has a lot of good sushi nowadays.

The only thing that wasn't good was the food on the Viking ferry. It wasn't atrocious, but the quality went down in the last few years, and especially this year, and the price went up.

The selection in the tax-free (the wine selection, anyway) is not as large as it used to be either.

Peace down under

Australians seem to have pretty bad luck with their Grand Muftis. They just got rid of the cat meat guy last summer, and now the counter-terrorism police wants to question the new guy, Fehmi Naji El-Imam, about his public support for Hezbollah.

In other somewhat Australia-related news, the Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been allowed to see the three death-row bombers in jail to offer them guidance.

Excuse me, but isn't his guidance what brought them there in the first place? What the fuck do they need more of it for? They are on the death row already! 216 90-year-old virgins await, and every one of them is just as beautiful as Mother Theresa!

Something just isn't right...

Lately (last few weeks) there has been something wrong in my life, but I can't even imagine what exactly. It's really annoying.

Work hasn't been stressful lately, the social life has been normal (that is, rather active), nothing bad is happening, I don't have a tendency to get depressed during the dark time of the year, the whole thing does not feel like a depression anyway (energy, libido and appetite are all normal), I am AFAIK not sick, not in love and don't have any spiritual cravings.

Nonetheless I am having trouble falling asleep, keep seeing rather nasty nightmares almost every night, and have this feeling that there is something wrong that needs my immediate attention and I have to find out what it is.

Friday, December 14, 2007

First they came for the lions...

(Thanks, for the tip, Paavo:)

A group of female Swedish soldiers complained about the penis of the heraldic lion used on the sleeves of the Nordic Battlegroup. The lion was promptly castrated.

In tomorrow's news:

- A group of female Swedish soldiers complains about the penises of the male soldiers in the Nordic Battlegroup.

- An animal-rights group complains about the abuse of heraldic lions.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Talking to strangers is hard

Today I was sitting on the bus, and a young woman was sitting in front of me. She had her hair in a rather strange hairstyle: her hair was divided in about 15 parts and each one was put up in a tiny bun.

At some point she noticed that one of the buns on the back of her head was seriously and apparently painfully messed up, its rubber band stuck where it was not supposed to, and tried to untangle it. She obviously couldn't see what she was doing, and was doing it by ripping as hard as she could and hoping it works. It was quite painful to watch.

I considered giving her a hand, since the whole thing was right in front of my nose, and I could easily do it with much less pain for both parties. Except that, how do you offer help to a total stranger with something like that without feeling totally embarassed? I wished she asked for help.

She did get it done by herself, with a lot of pain and hair-ripping, and then I realized that it would probably have been even more embarassing for her to ask a total stranger for help.

There should be some generally accepted way to ask/offer/decline help in such situations without everyone feeling like a total ass. Or maybe there is, but I just don't know it.

Sniff

An Exalted campaign that started last winter now ended, and I am gonna miss it. It was fun for me, even though less so for my character.

Note to self: playing a fire-aspect dragon-blooded has its drawbacks. All the good little Exalted go home and rest after a fight, and you cannot for the fire safety reasons (if you spend enough essence you become a big fireball for a while), so you just sit in the yard and have your friends roast marshmallows on you.

OTOH being a dragon-blooded who hangs out with the solars also has its fun moments. Quite a lot of them.

Damn. I miss it already.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The absurdity week

Pohjanmaan Puhelin Oy considers EFFI a virus, spam or some other harmful program.

Western digital is selling a network hard drive that prevents users from sharing a number of file formats over the Internet. I am sure the new feature is very popular among users, and there are a lot of people queueing up to buy the wonderful new product.

A Turkish lawyer filed a complaint against Inter Milan, an Italian soccer team, for wearing the symbol of Milan on their shirts. It totally insults Islam and painfully reminds Mr. Kaska of the days of his childhood, when Knights Templar roamed all over Turkey. He wants a compensation, but also the annulment of the game, which of course has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Inter Milan won 3-0 from the Istanbul team.

The shirts in question are white with a red cross, and Inter Milan was aware that the symbol is not very popular in Turkey, and refrained from wearing it there.They did, however, make the unforgivable mistake of imagining that wearing a symbol of Milan might be acceptable in Milan.

The Israeli-Finnish couple who went completely batshit in India and were dragged to a mental institution, and whose 2-year-old was found wandering alone and was cared for by another tourist, have now been given their child back, and are returning to Israel in the company of the man's relatives. The mental institution is very relieved not to have them there anymore, because they were totally nuts even by the madhouse's standards. Morale: you do not always achieve better living through chemistry. This, children, is why we absolutely do not eat datura seeds.

Witch hunts against children are becoming popular in Nigeria. They are encouraged by some Christian priests who charge the parents for exorcism.

The lines for trucks on the Russian border are expected to extend to Vantaa.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Aunt on Skype

Aunt: Vera! Can you hear me?
Me: Yes. The sound is not very good, move a bit closer to the microphone.
Aunt: Like that?
Me: Yes, this is good.
Uncle in the background: Try to push that button there...
Aunt: Let's see... What happens if I push this button...

That's the last I've heard from them on Skype.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A thought for today

Has Muhammed just become the most popular teddy bear name in the world?

Business as usual: Belgium still without government

It's been 6 months since Belgium last had a real government. It has a caretaker government now, and no real one in sight.

Last week Yves Leterme, the guy who was supposed to form the government and become the new Prime Minister, said "bugger it" and decided to resign. Again.

No shit. His last questions to the prospective coalition partners were "Are all topics admissible to be discussed in the special commission for state reform?", "Will the regions be given more leeway in regulating enterprise tax rates?" and "Can law proposals for state reform be adopted by any constitutional two-thirds majority, without extra conditions, as well?". The prospective coalition partners (Wallonia's Christian Democrats) answered "no" to all of the above.

The king appointed the current acting Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, as informateur, a person who tries to find out the chances of setting up various kinds of coalitions.

Some people are calling for a new election, but if I understood them right they cannot have a new election until they decide something on partitioning the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde electoral district, and this attempt of partitioning it is one of the reasons they cannot form a government in the first place. Besides, there is no reason to this the new election would end any differently from the old election.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Holy Mother Nature

Some years ago I used to participate in a certain forum for the childfree people. Environmentalists were overrepresented among that crowd; OTOH, there seems to be so many of them everywhere nowadays that maybe they were just normally-represented.

Anyway, there were a lot of people there who said that they don't want children because there are too many people on earth, using too many resources, bad for the environment, etc.,etc.,etc.

I read them somewhat incredulously - do these people really believe it, or expect anyone else to? Not that every single one of them was lying - takes all kinds to make the world, I guess, and surely there must be somebody out there who is so much into environment that he or she makes major life decisions based on environmental reasons - but most people don't base major life decisions on environmentalism, or any kind of public good, or anything of the kind.

Most of the participants of that forum, of course, easily revealed their real reasons once you talked to them a little, and they were invariably normal human reasons: people did not like children that much, or at all, wanted to keep their time and money for themselves, liked uninterrupted sleep, etc. Sort of like almost every American who has ostensibly left the country to protest against Bush just turns out to accidentally have a spouse, job, studies or some other personal interests abroad.

That is normal. That's what humans do. We pursue our own goals and interests, and then try to improve the world if we have some time, money and energy left over. The kind of people who are eager to improve the world rather than their own lives tend to be wild-eyed fanatics whose ideas are so far out that they shouldn't even be allowed to improve the arrangement of the toilet paper on the shelves of their local supermarket, and their grand plans tend to require a lot of unwilling participants.

(My geography teacher in Russia used to tell us that it's ok that we don't have a decent textile industry, because the industries that would allow us to bring Communism to the rest of the world are more important than having pants. It struck me as a very bad idea, regardless of whether one considers bringing Communism to the world a worthy puprose or not. It's hard to improve the world when your ass is freezing, and one should never trust the world-improving efforts of countries whose citizens cannot afford their own trousers.)

But I digress. Lately I've often run into the concept of popular environmentalism as a kind of a replacement for Communism for people who miss it, and have been thinking about it as a sort of a replacement for Christianity for people who miss it too.

It's quite good for this purpose, actually. It even has being born as the Original Sin. (Our existence is a strain on the environment and is sinful as such.) It has a Judgement Day, which is about to come Real Soon Now because we have sinned so much. Best of all, pretty much anything anyone does is sinful, so it provides an unlimited opportunity to condemn everyone you want to condemn for doing anything they do. You can also praise yourself for anything you don't do. You can also feel small, insignificant and unworthy, if you are into that kind of thing. Or virtuous. Whatever rocks your boat.

A few days ago a couple of researchers at Michigan State University figured out that divorce is bad for the environment. Because, you know, two households use more energy and other stuff than one.

Oy vey. I think the fact that two households of one are in every way more expensive than one household of two has been known forever to anyone who has ever paid their own rent or mortgage, which might or might not have included the researchers at Michigan State University. A better question is: what do they expect anyone to do about it? Do they really expect people to stay together for the sake of the environment? Or to start shacking up for environmental reasons? Hmm, would it make a good pickup line. "Would you like to come over and save the environment for one night?"

Well, at least now the new religion disapproves of divorce just like all the old ones.

And now let's wash this down with Ramadan vodka

Balducci's, a supermarket chain in NYC, has a lovely selection of Chanukah hams.

As an aside: eek, it's Chanukah and nobody told me! Not that I am gonna do anything about it. Chanukah is usually celebrated with candles and latkes, and I don't like either of those.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

90 years without Russia!

Happy Independence Day, Finland.

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

(Yeah, I know I am repeating myself, but this is the nature of the holiday greetings.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Life: work, parties and beer

The stressful thing at work is over. Back to the regular stuff. Thank god.

The good thing about it was that I really brushed up on my French.

I guess it was getting to me. I started seeing nightmares every night.

Apart from the stressful, cruel and unusual stuff at work I've had a rather intensive but mostly unstressful social life lately. Between the work and the social life, I almost forgot about that thing called sleep, and am considering exploring it again.

One of the highlights of the social life was a scary but fun party in Jakomäki where I knew only a few people and where people were opening sparkling wine with sabers. It was fun but not really convenient: after having enjoyed most of the contents of the bottle, one tends to forget that grabbing it by the neck is a bad idea, and by the end of the evening, or even of the first bottle, your hands really bleed.

A much scarier discovery of that evening was that Jakomäki does not have late evening buses (the ones that run from 22.30 to 1:30). I did not know Helsinki had a neighborhood like that. I think Jakomäki had late evening buses in the late nineties, when I used to visit there. What happened to them?

Also had a Christmas beer tasting event with a few friends. The event itself was great, but the beers left me rather unimpresssed. Gouden Carolus Christmas was downright unpleasant, very licoricey. Didn't like Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock either, but at least I did not expect to like it. Jenlain Bière de Noël was quite nice but not special, and Warm Welcome Brown Ale was much better than I expected.

That's the problem with tasting beer for me: unlike with wine, I almost never find anything that's better than the stuff I have already tasted. I still like tasting new stuff just for the novelty value, but it rarely comes anywhere close to matching Rochefort and Kasteel.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Inciting hatred

Everyone has surely already heard about the terrible teddy bear of blasphemy. British teacher Gillian Gibbons came to Sudan, worked in a school, let children vote on a name for a teddy bear, the kids voted for Muhammed, it being a rather popular name over there, a coworker complained to the police, the teacher was charged with insulting Islam, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs, she was convicted only of insulting Islam, sentenced only to 15 days in prison and deportation, has been pardoned after only 9 days and is about to be deported today, and even, contrary to the traditional Sudanese ways, has been given food in prison.

Considering Sudan's usual human rights track record, this is quite civilized.

On Friday, however, thousands of demonstrators with swords and machetes, encouraged by some imams, demanded her death, waved their weaponry (without, unfortunately, cutting each other heads off) and shouted threats at Western journalists.

What I'd really like to know is whether any on the organizers ar participants of this lovely event has been charged with inciting hatred, or is it a charge exclusively reserved for bear-naming teachers?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Honor

Some people, especially in France but also here, have been wondering what those "suburban teenagers" from around Paris want. Well, IMO they quite obviously want honor.

When I say "honor", I mean the reputation as the kind of people who would react with extreme violence to any smallest insult, real or perceived. They might also call it "respect", although it has very little to do with any actual respect.

The desire, extremely annoying as it is, is quite understandable. Honor, in the sense of "extremely nasty reputation", is a very useful and valuable thing in a society where the rule of law is either nonexistent or insufficient. Where other people can attack you, your friends, family and possessions with impunity, it really makes sense to beat the attackers to a bloody pulp, or better yet kill them. And if you do it even for a small verbal insult, you might not even be subjected a single physical assault, ever.

This really works in the lawless places, be they Middle Eastern countries, Parisian suburbs or Soviet primary schools.

It's kind of hard to transform places where they use honor into places where they use law, for obvious reasons. Individual people, however, can be taught. When people move from the honor societies into the law societies, two things need to be taught to them: first of all, that the state will punish anyone who assaults them, so they don't really need a badass reputation, and second, that the state will punish them if they assault anyone, so the badass reputation comes with a rather big price tag attached to it.

It's not that hard, really. Except that: we don't really live in a law society anymore, do we? Not completely, at least here in Finland. We do have laws, and they are mostly enforced, but as far as crime and personal security go, we have pretty much moved on the a sort of a post-law society, where other things prevent people from hurting each other.

I can go outside and punch people in the face with impunity, or at least almost with impunity. If I just punch them in the face and run away, especially if I don't cause them any long-term injuries, the police won't look for me very hard, but if they find me, I'll just get a small fine. Probably 100 euro or so.

Do you have any idea how many people are out there whom I would gladly punch for 100 euro (that is, I'd gladly pay 100 euro to punch them)? Quite a few.

The reason that I don't do it is not the fear of punishment, nor any humane considerations. It's embarrassment. I'd find it rather embarrassing to be convicted of a simple assault in a court of law, even if the punishment is nonexistent. My friends would make fun of me, and think less of me. Even if neither the court nor my friends ever find out, I would be rather embarrassed all by myself.

I think this is the way it works for most people here. When some person is insulting us in a sausage kiosk line, we don't punch them, even when they richly deserves it, and we are reasonably sure of winning the fight and going unpunished. We just don't want to think of ourselves as people who punch other people at a sausage kiosk, so we usually don't.

Problem is, unlike a real law society, this is something that you cannot integrate honor people into. At least not as far as I know.

How do you explain to somebody from a culture where people are embarrassed by not beating up somebody who's been rude to them that here they should be embarrassed by doing so? It must be a very counterintuitive thought for them. Moreover, how can you tell them that the state will protect them? Most of the punishments for violent crimes in Finland are too light even for the average Finnish sense of justice - how can they ever satisfy anyone who'd accustomed to much harsher punishments? In addition, even if they realize that the light Finnish punishments are usually enough to deter Finns, they will also figure out that they probably won't be enough to deter their own countrymen.

No, I don't have any answers. Not letting in too many people from the honor cultures is a rather obvious one, but I am also wondering whether this post-law culture is really a step in the right direction, or whether it is the way back towards an honor culture. With or without outside influence.

Amerikkalaiset ja Julkisen Sanan Neuvosto

En yleensä vain laita linkkejä muiden ihmisten blogeihin ilman kommentteja, mutta tää on vain niin hyvä....

Friday, November 30, 2007

"Catch a thief" day

Today is the "don't buy anything" day, when people are encouraged not to shop but instead to think about whatever causes are dear to the organizers. I usually celebrate it by shopping.

The kind of people who believe that everything should be free and nobody should work and goods and services should appear out of nowhere or at least be made or performed by somebody else have an alternative event, "steal something" day.

In conjunction with the above I think it would be nice to have a "catch a thief" day. The citizens (and also alien residents and visitors, of course) would have a chance to think about shoplifting and the way all the consumers get to pay for it in the end, improve their hunting skills and possibly perform a valuable service to the communtity.

Today I encourage everyone who goes into any store to be on the lookout for the shoplifting anarchists, and to call the security guards as soon as somebody tries to steal something.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lenin-setä asuu Helsingissä...

A few dozen fucking morons, I mean differently sane celebrities, want to get a Lenin monument from somewhere and install it in Helsinki in Lenininpuisto, whose existence is also a WTF in and of itself.

The differently sane celebrities in question include, among others, Jouko Ahonen, Sinikka Sokka, Jussi Raittinen, Sulevi Peltola, Pentti Linkola, Vesa Vierikko, Mika Kaurismäki and Jouko Turkka.

Why don't they put Hitler up as well, at least if the sculptors happen to have a two-for-one special? Or they could do a whole row of monuments: Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Khomeini, Niyazov, etc. Hell, they could ask every country that ever deposes a dictator to donate one of his monuments to our city.

If this actually goes through I'll buy some laxatives, so that I could honor the late leader of the Russian revolution in the most appropriate way.

A mean thought

The "suburban youths" (that's the politically correct French term for "thugs of a mostly North African origin"; simply "youth" is a term for a generic thug) have been rioting for the third night now.

Apart from the usual suspected reasons (religion of peace, gross misuse of amphetamines, the aesthetics of suburban architecture, the city's failure to build enough libraries for the thugs to read Nietzsche in, low IQ, and the employers' unexplicable reluctance to hire employees whose CV starts with "went to some school until I burned it down" and ends with "set a neighbor's car on fire"), can one of the reasons be simply a desire to be famous?

I mean, in a country where a convicted cop shooter (Mumia Abu-Jamal) becomes a honorary citizen of the capital and gets a street named after him in one of the "sensitive" suburbs is it inconceivable that some of the "suburban youths" might want to have a street named after themselves too?

Maybe I shouldn't have laughed at their Prime Minister yesterday when he said that people who shoot at cops are criminals. There really are a lot of people there who don't know it. The mayor of Paris, for example.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In other news, Pope is Catholic

The newsflash of the day: French Prime Minister said that people who shoot at cops are criminals.

Who would have thought...

Anti-Darwin riots in France

15-year-old Moushin and 16-year-old Larami were riding a moped in Villiers-le-Bel, a suburb of Paris, last Sunday. The moped was stolen and not autorized for the public roads to begin with, the guys were not wearing helmets, and they were not much into various rules of the road, so at some point they ran into a police car and died.

Kind of sad, because IMO people don't really deserve to die for driving like shmucks, even on a stolen bike. But shit does happen, and this is as clear-cut a case of a Darwin award as any. Among any normal people this would have been an occasion to reflect upon human mortality, use of motorcycle helmets, and the uncomplicated relationship of these two things. The parents would have used this as an occasion to remind their children about the dangers of not using the helmets, the parents in better families might have reminded the children that stealing mopeds is not nice either, the brighter kids would have even googled to find out whether the cars have priority when they are coming from the right or from the left. Somebody would have possibly sued the manufacturer of the bike, just in case.

Not so in Villiers-le-Bel and the rest of Maghreb-sur-Seine. The local thugs, I mean "youths", decided that everything was the police's fault, that the police did it on purpose, and that the police left the boys without any medical help. The police are saying that firefighters came to help the boys but were unable to do so because the situation was too tense (about 50 hostile bystanders). One can of course say that it's the police's job to secure the area from the hostile bystanders, and rightly so; it does, however, sound a bit corny if said by the very same hostile bystanders. "Oh dear! We stone the fucking pigs every time we see them and the selfish bastards never stop to help us! Boys, get those Molotov cocktails!"

Anyway, during the two nights that followed 82 police officers were injured, 4 of them seriously, one police station was burned and another one robbed, the local library was also burned, as well as a number of businesses, cars and trash cans.

Inquiring minds want to know:

1. How many people were out there rioting? It would seem like it would take quite a lot of folks to do all of the above. The town has about 25000 inhabitants.

2. How does one burn and rob two police stations? What were the police doing at the time? (This is not an accusation: I am just curious whether there were too many rioters, not enough police, police not adequately armed, police not allowed to shoot, etc.)

3. Am I the only person who has serious trouble thinking of the rioters as fellow humans? I mean, I realize that they are, technically speaking, human beings, and should be recognized as such in a court of law (the sooner the better) and be presumed innocent and entitled to a lawyer, etc., but it's just very hard to imagine what is going through their minds, or that anything is in fact going through their minds.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Work search visa

The Ministry of the Interior has apparently decided that there is a need for a work search visa.

I don't think it's a bad idea on general principle. There are some people who want to come and work here, there are some jobs for them, and matching a potential employee to a job is usually kind of hard without an interview. Hence, people need visas to go to the job interviews.

The whole different question is whether or not they will fuck up the implementation.

1. These people won't be eligible for any social security, apart from the emergency medical help, right? Right? Inquiring taxpayers often want to know, and a lot of Finnish people tend to assume everybody who steps on Finnish land is. This is not always the case, but I wouldn't assume anything either way until I hear it from the people involved in that project. And what I want to hear is that they will only be eligible for the emergency medical help until they find a job, and after that have the same perks as any other foreign workers.

2. Will they be required to prove they can afford their stay here, and a ticket back if they don't find a job? (I can see arguments for and against.)

3. Once they are here, what is gonna prevent them from, say, going to Sweden and applying for the asylum there? OK, Sweden's problem, but still...

4. Is 6 months really necessary? We are hopefully talking about more or less skilled workers, such as send their CVs to employers, get or don't get invited to interviews and need to come to Finland to go to those interviews. IMO, and I am speaking from experince, this is done by reserving a ticket about a month and a half ahead, sending a lot of CVs to different companies at the same time, informing them all of the time you are gonna be in the country and hoping some of them would interview you. Doesn't take 6 months. On the other hand: my experience is very much influenced by my own field, in other fields things might be different, and as long as they want to be here for 6 months on their own money, there isn't any problem.

5. What's with the country list? (Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia.) I know that I have said many times that one should carefully select the countries one takes large groups of immigrants from; I really did not mean that we should specifically select the ones where the religion of peace is practiced. Why not, say, Ukraine, Armenia, India and China?

Turkey's educated classes are not much into the religion of peace and there is in fact some skilled labor there. As for importing their unskilled labor, one should probably study Germany's experiences first.

6. In general if they feel a need to test the system on small numbers (which is a good idea IMO): why the particular countries, rather than the particular fields that need labor the most?

7. What's the point of the quotas later on, unless they are per-country quotas? We are talking about the numbers of people who come here for the interviews, not the number of people who come here to work.

8. What would be the criteria for giving or refusing the visas? Would there be something like filtering by profession?

9. Would some kind of a point system be worth considering? People would get some points for their education, some for being in the right field, some for being from a country whose citizens tend to integrate well, some for language skills, etc.

My dear reader

(I am addressing a specific one who knows who he is, but anyone else with similar inclinations should probably also read it):

It is generally a bad idea to contact bloggers by phone. My phone numbers are on my homepage so that my real-life friends and acquaintances don't have to search for them if they need them; they are not there because I would like to discuss my blog on the phone.

Not that I always mind discussing my blog verbally, but anything like that really should be either in the context of a larger blogger meet, or preceded by some kind of an earlier Net contact, and I mean a two-way one: you'd have to exchange some email with me, or hang out on the same forums, or be a regular commenter on my blog, or be someone whose blog I read. Remember that you know who I am, but I have no idea who you are.

It's not advisable to call total strangers at 22:30 on their home phone to discuss their views on multiculturalism. If you do, however, decide to do so, it would be quite polite to introduce yourself, and not to block my caller ID from seeing your number. "Suomalainen mies" is not a very useful answer to a request for an introduction: first of all, there are about 2.5 million of them, and then, I can sort of hear that you are a Finnish man from your voice and pronunciation.

You said, also in response to an introduction request, that you are shy. Me too, fairly shy with strangers. That's why I don't call them on the phone to have a chat about their political views.

If you don't feel ready to introduce yourself you should really consider not making the call.

There is another bad thing about anonymity: it awakens a hunting instinct in a person. If you had introduced yourself as Joe Shmoe and had a real phone number to go with it, I would most likely have not bothered checking; since you were all mysterious, I was quite curious. I'd rather not post any uniquely identifying details here, but AFAIK you are in Tampere, you are a first-time visitor to my blog, and you have searched it on a search term that was definitely not "multiculturalism".

In the unlikely event that I am wrong and you are in fact someone I would have recognized if you just introduced yourself, you are being very silly. I hardly ever eat people.

If you really do want to talk about multiculturalism in private and more or less anonymously, just take it to email. The address is on the beige strip near the top of the blog's front page. Again, I won't eat you, this post nonwithstanding.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Talking about self

This blog has been all about me-me-me lately. This will probably pass soon, don't worry. A couple of things about writing about myself:

1. I mentioned a few things that I don't like, and some of my real-life friends who read my blog tend to worry about whether or not they have said or done those things. Don't worry: if you hang out with me in real life and tend to often say the particular things that highly annoy me, I will eventually discuss (or, more likely, have already discussed) this with you in person. If you only do it rarely, it's not worth worrying about at all.

2. I keep wondering about the safety of mentioning the things that annoy me. Some people will just do them on purpose.

In general I am very much with Ice from the West Side Story: "No matter who or what is eatin' at you, man you show it and you are dead. You are cuttin' a hole in yourselves for them to stick in a red hot umbrella and open it. Wide."

Nowadays I hang out with very nice people, but when I was younger I used to know a lot of people whose first reaction to the fact of anyone's, say, frog phobia, would be to find a frog to scare the person with. They tended to do it even, and especially, if the person in question was known to shove the frog up the ass of whoever was threatening him/her with it. The observation of such incidents taught me that the things that annoy me exceptionally strongly should not be mentioned to general public. The annoyances I mention here are fairly mild. (Here "mild" means that I might say something rude, but will at least try not to.)

Superstition

Kind of expanding on the previous post here.

Superstition is a fairly common phenomenon. I am not sure whether it is universal or not; if any of my readers are not superstitious at all, please tell me. I count religion as superstition too.

The whole thing is probably some consequence of lacking control over the outside world, or at least the groups of people who live and work in the less predictable environments seem to be a lot more superstitious than those who live and work in the more predictable and controllable environments. Pissing off the Spirits of the Stormy Open Sea is a lot more dangerous than pissing off the Spirits of Ubuntu Dist-Upgrades.

I grew up in a fairly superstitious environment, with my friends, relatives and classmates believing god knows what. That ranged from various omens (usually promising bad luck, and sometimes needing some kind of action to counteract them) to different kinds of "magical" actions, which were usually aimed at summoning magical creatures and were widely reputed to be extremely dangerous to the summoner, and which a lot of people nevertheless tried with no result whatsoever.

Some of it did rub off on me a bit. The things related to luck, mostly, because even at my most childish and superstitious I did not really on any level believe that three people in a dark using a mirror and some incantations can generate a Queen of Spades who would come and strangle them all.

The thing is, for me supersition is a burden. Not a very heavy one, because I am not very superstitious, but without any redeeming qualities. It feels very much like the obsessive-compulsive impulse to check whether or not the stove is on several times even when I know it's off. I feel pretty much the same way about religion, except less, because I wasn't raised in a religious environment.

I sometimes see "omens" around me, little things that seem to predict good or bad luck or something. I find this rather unpleasant in that why-don't-I-check-the-stove-again way. I would never think of sharing those with anyone else, or seeking any new ones, and I am quite annoyed when people tell me "don't do that, it's a bad sign" about anything; in fact this makes me feel like doing exactly the thing they asked me not to do, just to piss them off. (I sometimes used to succumb to this temptation, too; hopefully not anymore.)

What seems very strange to me is that there clearly exist people who enjoy being superstitious and doing those little superstitious things like reading horoscopes, etc. There are even people who pay all kinds of psychics to predict the future, and the reason this surprises me is that I certainly wouldn't want to listen to their predictions for free.

It would be interesting to hear exactly what kind of enjoyment people derive from those things. I am not sure I am capable of understanding, but it would be at least good to try.

Horoscopes

Some people read horoscopes, compare horoscopes, ask about each other's signs, talk about the compatibility on the basis of horoscopes, etc., in a way that gives me an impression that they really believe in what they are saying.

I sometimes ask them whether they really believe in the horoscopes. The answer is almost invariably "no, it's just for fun".

Can anyone explain to me what kind of fun is there? (The people in question never do.) it's not that I disapprove of the kinds of fun that other people have and that I myself don't enjoy, it's just that I find this particular kind of fun very hard to understand.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You surely meant "sweet and innocent"?

A person commenting on another blog said about me: "Your smile also has this peculiar quality of appearing both evil and gleeful at the same time."

Evil and gleeful! And here I thought I was looking all sweet and friendly.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The credit history in Finland

A couple of years ago there was a day when citizens could check whatever various databases had on them for free. I decided to check my credit history, and all I got was a piece of paper saying that I have never defaulted on a loan. I was quite surprised, because in the US one's credit history carries information on the loans that have been taken and successfully repaid, and the ones in the process of being repaid. I'd always assumed that the same was the case in Finland.

I asked the lady that gave me the paper about it, and she said that this is normal, this is what an unproblematic credit history always looks like, they don't carry any info on the loans that were repaid without a problem.

I took that for an answer, but now I am wondering: how could that be? Because various financial institutions who might be interested in one's credit history seem to be able to clearly distinguish between the people who don't have any credit history and the people who have a positive one.

On a related note: I hear a lot of other foreigners say that they were denied credit cards, and that GSM operators have demanded deposits from them. This has never happened to me, and I have assumed that the reason for this has been the credit history (or the lack thereof in the case of the new arrivals), and not that I am so damn cute. But now that I have thought more about it: how do the GSM operators even know who is a foreigner and who is not?

"Your mission, should you be fucking insane enough to accept it..."

workStress++

Bugger that, more like workStress*10.

I have accepted an assignment which is way beyond my area of competence, going to take a lot of my time, also outside the working hours, scares the shit out of me, and I know I'll totally suck. The only reason anyone has asked me to do it is that nobody else here can do it at all, and the only reason I agreed is that they made it clear that even pitiful partial results are better than no results. Also, it is a Valuable Experience That Will Help Me Grow As A Person. What the fuck was I thinking?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Winding up, winding down

When I am feeling energetic and feel like doing something (anything that takes energy: going out, going to a store to buy groceries, working out, washing dishes, complaining to the customer service, whatever) and somebody else (somebody who will not be directly affected) tells me to calm down, not to do it, not to bother, etc., my reaction is extremely hostile. Same if people suggest that I need rest or sleep when I really don't.

I don't normally express this hostility, because people rarely mean anything bad when they do it, but it is there. "Fuck off, shut your fucking trap and don't tell me what to do!" is a very mild version of what I usually leave unsaid.

I never thought much about it, because, hey, nobody likes being told what to do, etc., but thought about it today and realized that first of all, this reaction is quite excessive, and second, it only works for me one way: if I don't feel like doing anything and people are trying to get me to be energetic and do stuff, it does not piss me off in any way whatsoever.

And the question is, as usual, WTF, and have other people noticed anything similar, or maybe the opposite? Is telling people to calm down always counterproductive?

Which dong did that come from?

It's icky enough that used condoms are being recycled as hair bands in China in the area of Pearl River Delta, especially since I own a number of hair bands purchased in that area, but is it a coincidence that the whole thing is being announced by Dr. Dong?

Not nearly as funny as when WHO chose Dr. De Cock to speak about the benefits of circumscision, but still...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A swim cap

Does anyone know where to buy a large swim cap? I mean the kind not designed for tiny-headed masochistic bald people.

I've never seen one that would actually fit. When I try to put one on, it perches on top of my head like one of those tiny hats they had sometime in the thirties. When I try to forcefully pull it on it pulls my hair and hurts like a gas mask.

Also: do any of the swimming pools in Helsinki require them? I remember the time when Yrjönkatu swimming pool sort of did, or at least it said so somewhere, but nobody tried to enforce it.

Insulting population groups

Mikko Ellilä got accused of incitement against a population group for this blog post.

The post is racist, in bad taste, and IMO wrong about biology being destiny, but what I haven't found there is any actual incitement (explicit or implicit) to do anything illegal against black people, or anyone else.

Yes, I know, the law also prohibits insulting a population group. Question is, what's an insult? Does it depends on the truth of the matter? Does it depend on somebody being insulted? Where are the limits of the free speech? Is it desirable to have a law that prohibits saying the truth about some group? How about speculation about things that might be true but not necessarily are (for example, scientific theories)? How about the things that are obviously untrue but presented as if they might be true?

The whole free speech vs. insulting a group issue is very complicated here in Finland (probably also elsewhere). During the whole Lynn-and-Vanhanen scandal a friend who knows more about the law than I do told me that one important factor is the medium: an article saying that ethnic group A is less intelligent than ethnic group B is quite acceptable in a scientific journal but can be considered incitement against an ethnic group if it is placed in a big popular newspaper like Helsingin Sanomat. The accusation that Ellilä got and posted somewhere (can't find it now) also mentions the pictures he uses in his blog as an aggravating circumstance, I am not sure why (the text is in bad taste, but the pictures are just pictures, none of them particularly insulting or tasteless).

Considering that the number of people writing in public has greatly increased and is still increasing, and so are various ethnic and religious tensions in Europe, isn't it time to have a public discussion about the limits of free speech and insulting population groups, and possible need for a new law, or for clarifying the old one? Lest we end up in a world where "Jos siihen sisältyy samalla ulkomaalaisten arvostelu, sekin on hyväksyttävä, jos sitä ei ääneen lausuta." ("If it contains criticism towards foreigners, his is acceptable, as long as it is not pronounced out loud.")

The questions I'd want answered are:

1. Do people really want to have a law that bans insulting groups of people? (Personally I don't, as long as they don't contain any actual incitement.)

2. Can the truth be considered an insult? If yes, to what extent does it depend on the particular words used?

3. What about the speculation, theories, etc.?

4. What about the obvious lies presented as speculation? (I might say "it is still being discussed whether or not Italians eat babies", but it is not AFAIK in fact being discussed by anyone in their right mind, and Italians do not in fact eat babies.)

5. To what extent does the whole thing depend on the venue? Do bloggers, writers of scientific articles, and people who call Americans stupid on Finnish web forums have to be just as careful as editors of HS?

6. When does the insult expire, and does it ever? Should all the racist writings of the old times be held to the current standards, and forbidden?

7. How about using them now? Can you read them in public and quote them in the current writings?

8. The whole issue with religions, insults and respect is deeply problematic: on one hand people are supposed to pretend to give some respect to other religions' writings and holy books, on the other hand the religious writings and holy books in question tend to be deeply disrespectful of other religions and atheists. But I think this should mostly be discussed in connection with another law, the one on blasphemy (ok, nowadays it's "religious peace").

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Netiquette and etiquette: the public and the private

(Sometimes I feel like playing Miss Manners. Oh, the irony of it! Must be the old age...)

Bad-mouthing fellow human beings is kind of fun, and tends to reinforce group bonding or whatever. When one is in the company of one's fellow Democrats (Republicans, atheists, Jews, women, polyamorists, RPG players, urban people, university students, programmers, humanities students, whatever) people tend to make stronger statements about the outside groups than would be strictly polite, and stronger than they actually believe in.

It's OK. As long as you don't everdo it, people usually understand that you don't really mean anything bad. Sometimes people fuck up, and say something like that in the presence of somebody who should not be hearing it. In this case they are usually embarassed and apologize, and the apology is usually accepted. Happens to most people sometimes, I guess.

What I want to know is what makes some people think that things like that are OK to say on a public forum?

I don't mean the people who just genuinely think that for example all Republicans are assholes, and want to say so everywhere they go. I mean the people who would normally not say so in mixed company, but somehow just don't realize that public Internet forums usually constitute mixed company.

I have always been amazed at the number of people who seem to have problem understanding such concepts as "public", "private" and "acquaintance" when applied to the Internet. It's not exactly rocket science, people. Here are a few points:

1. Usenet newsgroups and open web forums often have regular participants, and feel like they are some kind of a living room where people who know each other just talk about things, but they are not. Anyone can read them. This not only means stalkers, your employer, your grandma and other dangers that media often warns us about, but also just a whole bunch of strangers who do not know you. Same goes for blogs, personal webpages, Youtube profiles, etc. You have to be careful what you say.

When I say to my real-life friends (either in person or on our own IRC channels) that I would like to sodomize some particular person with a hot poker, they have a reasonably good idea of whether I a) am totally kidding, b) find the idea of sodomizing the person with a hot poker emotionally pleasing, but absolutely do not intend to do it for a number of legal, moral or logistical reasons, or c) am heating the poker up right now. If they don't, they can ask me and I'll answer. If I post anything like that in my blog or in a newsgroup, I have to be very clear that I don't really intend to do it, or else somebody really will take me seriously. And if they will, it's not their failure. It's mine.

2. When you read some forums, the regular participants start seeming like you know them. If you are not a regular or even occasional participant, however, they don't feel the same way about you. You are a total stranger to them, and it will take some time and some posting to become known to them.

3. If often feels like you know the people with whom you hang out on some Net forum like your real-life friends. You really don't. Or rather sometimes you do (sometimes they are in fact your real-life friends whom you know in person, sometimes you get to know them so well on the Net that they become your real-life friends even if you've never met in person), but usually you don't.

They are people with whom you talk, usually on some particular topic. They tend to be a much more heterogenous bunch than the people you know in real life, even if those are a rather heterogenous bunch as well. Don't assume anything. The overly-strong statements meant as a group-bonding thing are a really bad idea there, especially if they are not closely related to the topic of the forum. That path leads to flame wars and general yelling.

4. If you do say something improperly strong in the presence of people who should not have heard it, and they pointed it out to you, the right thing to do is backpedal and apologize, at least if that's what you'd normally do in real life. (If that's not what you'd normally do in real life you are probably not the target audience of this post anyway.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Barleywine

Just bought a bottle of barleywine from Alko and tried it. Was well worth trying. Sort of bittersweet in a good way (both quite bitter and quite sweet).

It was called Criminally Bad Elf, and I think this is the only barleywine in Alko.

BTW, Alko webpage lists all the kinds of data on beers nowadays: wort strength, color, bitterness, energy, you name it. Now that's what I call good service!

Blade of the Immortal

Whoever was the anonymous person who recommended that I try Blade of the Immortal: thanks! Just finished the fourth album, and I like it a lot.

The guys are quite cute, the violence sufficiently violent - although drawn in rather mysterious ways - and the whole thing even appeals to my sense of humor.

Ordnung uber alles

Lately I've heard from a number of people that military-style order in schools would be a good thing: it would make sure that everyone learns, give children the limits they so clearly crave, give them a safe environment, etc., etc.

Well, I've seen 5 of the actual implementations (6 if you count the daycare) from close by, and all I can say is that if I had a sprog of my own, I certainly would not put him/her in a school like that.

(Yeah, you may say that those were just bad implementations, and if you were setting up the school order according to your genius plan, everything would be peachy. I'd believe this about as much as I believe the modern Communists' claim that if they ran the Soviet Union it would have become the workers' paradise.)

We had uniforms, endless standing in rows, moving our heads straight and to the right according to military commands, standing in lines where we were arranged by height, constant yelling and actual weapons. We also had a lot more violence than the schools that my Finnish friends went to.

Uniforms sucked. Both the actual implementations, and the idea. People said things like "that's so kids would think about school and not about clothes", and a lot of vague things about uniforms instilling respect in the wearer (for school, and for oneself). Kids thought about clothes more than ever, of course. As to respect, I realize that some people have problem distinguishing between respect, fear and hatred, but I am not one of them. Being forced to wear some particular clothes by somebody else has never given me any respect for myself, or for the person doing the forcing. I don't see how it would.

Endless standing in rows sucked too, much for the same reasons, and so did dozens more arbitrary rules and rituals. But enough about that. I know I am a somewhat more ritual-wary person than average.

The thing is, it didn't work for maintaining any useful order. By useful order I mean preventing unprovoked violence and class disturbance. Bullying and violence were rampant, and keeping the classes free of disturbances depended, just like pretty much everywhere else, on the authority of the teacher of the class in question.

Kids were left to fend for themselves in fights, and the only way to get rid of bullies was by punching and kicking them. If you were too small for that, you were screwed. Afterwards the teachers would just yell at you for your uniform not being quite in order.

(I suppose in a Finnish implementation, if there were one, they would instead deal with the fights by punishing all the participants, totally disregarding any idea of self-defense and saying "it takes two to fight, you are both equally guilty").

One of the worst things about such a system was that it attracted bullies to the teaching profession. If you think that having bullies as classmates was bad, just wait until an adult bully with a teaching degree becomes your teacher. The weird thing about it was that all their bullying did not help to maintain any useful order: for example, a teacher who would gladly yell at a student for wearing large breasts to school (yes, that really happened) still didn't manage to calm down the noisy students in her class.

I thought they did not have any?

Iranian minister (of what, BTW? energy is the best guess found by googling, but I am not sure) Mohsen Yahyavi said that gays should be hanged. or tortured. Or both.

Didn't his president just say that they didn't have any gays? How do you explain this discrepancy?

1. Ahmadinejad just did not know that a few gays had survived.

2. During the two months that have passed since then a few guys looked at Ahmadinejad and immediately got excited and became gay.

3. During the two months that have passed since then a few guys became gay after figuring out they are never gonna see a woman without all the coverings.

4. Mohsen Yahyavi really meant "hung", as in "well-hung", and is looking forward toward personally performing the torture with a pink fluffy whip.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A bit more about the Übermensch

Now that we have some more details:

Auvinen poured some kind of fuel all over the school and tried to set it on fire, but failed. Damn, and here I thought that at least some techniques for making fire was invented in prehistorical times. Nowadays they also have those things called matches and lighters, of which the Übermensch was luckily unaware.

Mind you, I should probably be the last person ever to make fun of this. I haven't really mastered the fire-making technologies myself either. OTOH, if I were planning an arson, I would have at least looked it up on the Net and practiced in advance.

The guy had 400 rounds of ammo, and 2 magazines (meaning in this case that only 20 rounds could have been loaded in advance). Inquiring minds want to know: how exactly did he expect to load them all? Is there something about loading those things that I don't know? My hands tend to be rather sore afther 100 rounds and extremely sore after 150, and that's in spite of the fact that I always shoot at the stationary cardboard targets and therefore can afford to take my time reloading.

The shooting of course brought all the kinds of assholes and lunatics crawling out of the woodwork: the people who decided to call and threaten anyone called Auvinen (a hint: there is no phone reception where he is now), the people who decided it was cool to make threatening videos about other schools and were extremely suprised by the lack of the sense of humor on the part of pretty much everybody, the people who started fan groups and should probably be visited by a psychiatrist, and a certain church in Kansas which is probably beyond psychiatric help.

One of the creatures was actually contacted and interviewed by Turun Sanomat. Pentti Linkola says that he does not believe that his writings had any effect on the event, and that this shooting will not solve the population explosion.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hello from the Bit Heaven

The cell phone rings around midnight:

Mom: What happened?
Me: WTF? Nothing happened. What happened over there?
Mom: Why did you tell me to call you on your cell phone?
Me: Huh? I didn't.
Mom: You sent me a message!
Me: No.
Mom: OK, let's hang up and use the regular phone.

(In case you were wondering who was that one and only person in Finland who still has a landline: yes, that's me.)

Continuing on the landline:

Mom: I got a text message from you telling me to call you on the cell phone.
Me: But I didn't send it!

Her provider does not even accept SMS:s from Finland directly, so the only way to send her a message is through email. I check the messages that I have sent her through email, and sure thing, I did send her a message asking her to call me on my cell phone. On the 4th of July.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Were you a Higher Being, too?

Yesterday's events made me wonder: how prevalent is yesterday's loser's mindset? Do all teenagers go through a stage when they consider themselves a higher being and almost everyone else a moron? Do most?

I know I did. There was a time in my teenage years when I considered myself a Higher Being, much more intelligent than anyone else (the later IQ tests showed 2 standard deviations upwards from the mean, which is quite bright but unexceptional), the society around me a festering shithole that needed to be destroyed (which I still think it was), most of my classmates total idiots who don't understand anything about the finer things in life (some of them were, the rest were just into different things). Everything was stupid and everyone else was unworthy.

In combination with my high level of aggressiveness, near-total lack of empathy at the time and easy access to automatic weapons this sounds like an extremely explosive mix. Except that it wasn't. I did not feel any temptation to take those weapons that I handled a couple of times a week and shoot all, or indeed any of my classmates. Why would I? They were some stupid masses whose lives had no meaning one way or another, and a Higher Being had better things to do: go see a Higher Movie, hang out and eat some ice cream with the Higher Friends (regular ice cream; this was Russia, after all, and the chances of Higher Ice Cream were rather slim), and in the evening curl up in the Higher Bed (which became a much lower bed after losing its legs in an unfortunate sex act) with a Higher Book.

Some of those Higher Books were actually pretty good.

So, how many of my readers used to be Higher Beings? Fess up.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Who are we gonna blame this time?

There was a shooting in the Jokela school in Tuusula. The number of the people killed is not clear yet, but the shooter got caught.

There are very strong rumors as to the identity of the shooter, though. Here are the links that people post: a screenshot of his blog and his Youtube account.

According to the man himself, he is "a cynical existentialist, antihuman humanist, antisocial socialdarwinist, realistic idealist and godlike atheist". He is prepared to fight and die for his cause. He, as a natural selector, will eliminate all whom he sees unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection. He wants to start a revolution against the system. (Hmm... is it a coincidence that this happened on the 90th anniversary of Russia's October Revolution? OTOH this shithead was no fan of communists, he liked Hitler better.)

For all his dislike of communists he should have read somebody who has actually started a revolution, for example Lenin (that is not good for one's sanity, but the guy did not have much to lose). Lenin actually does give some advice on where to start. Note to the psychotic idiots: it's not Jokela school.

Reading HS forum on this topic was not good for one's sanity either. I read 2 pages, in which the participants tried to find the answer to the eternal question "whose fault was that?", and in those two pages they managed to accuse the US, the media, the firearm laws, the mental health services and the parents. I stopped reading before getting to George W. Bush, videogames, role-playing games, low blood sugar, high blood sugar, heavy metal, Osama, Ahmadinejad, and artificial colors in food.

But hey, I want to play a bit of blame game too: who is the most well-known misanthropic public figure in Finland? Who thinks that democracy is idiotic and regular people are trash? Who thinks that as many people as possible should die? Who thinks there was nothing wrong with Nazi Germany aside from losing the war? And finally, whose fan did the shooter's mother just happen to be?

OK, I know I sound as silly as the people who blame heavy metal, but seriously: why do violent movies get blamed more often than misanthropic writings?

Ne vie meidän työpaikat! Ja naiset kanssa!

Joskus muinoin, siihen aikaan kun minä muutin Suomeen, ulkomaalaiset veivät suomalaisten työpaikkoja. Tämä ei siis ollut rasistijunttien mielipide, vaan ihan virallinen kanta asiaan. Se oli mielestäni vähän omituista, koska täällä oli silloin lähinnä vain harvoja länsimaalaisia jotka olivat joissain korkeaa koulutusta vaativissa töissä, ja jonkin verran somalipakolaisia ja inkerilaisia paluumuuttajia, jotka eivät yleensä siihen aikaan syyllistyneet kenenkään työpaikan viemiseen.

Silloin toki oli melko suuren työttömyyden aika, mutta silloinkin joillain aloilla oli paljon avoimia työpaikkoja. Viranomaiset ulkomaalaispoliisissa välillä muistuttivat että niiden on pakko tarkistaa etten vain vie kenenkään suomalaisen työpaikkaa, mutta lopulta kysyttyään tästä työvoimaviranomaisilta aina totesivat että laskennan teorian laskareiden pitäminen ja kääntäjien optimointi eivät ole sellaisia hommia joihin olisi riittavasti kiinnoistuneita tervejärkisiä suomalaisia, ja aina sain työlupani.

Ajat muuttuu, samoin työllisyystilanne, ja muutama vuosi sitten Suomessa keksittiin että on tulossa huutava työvoimapula, jonka paikkaamiseen on pakko hankkia niin paljon ulkomaalaisia kuin on suinkaan mahdollista.

Niin kauan kuin työttömiä on olemassa jotakuta on näköjään silti pakko syyttää ihmisten työpaikkojen viemisestä, ja tällä kerta syyllisinä on opiskelijat. Nyt valtiovarainministeriö onkin sitä mieltä että opiskelijat vievät työpaikkoja niitä enemmän tarvitsevilta tai ansaitsevilta kansalaisilta, kuten pitkäaikaistyöttömiltä ja ammattikouluista valmistuneilta, ja voisivatko opiskelijat jo kiltisti palata kokopäiväiseen opiskeluun ja opintotuella elämiseen ja lakata paikkaamasta huutavaa työvoimapulaamme, jookos?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Belgium, 149

Today is the 149th day that Belgium is without a government. The number is meaningful because it means that they have just beat their previous record of 148.

Life goes on, nobody seems to care much.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Spoilers (no spoilers)

There seems to be some popular reality TV show called Big Brother here. I don't know much about it (not very interested) but I know that it is some reality show where some participants end up being voted out of some house.

What I do want to know, however, is why the hell HS makes a news item of each such vote, puts its results in the news item's title. Isn't spoiler a familiar concept to them? Do they want to spoil the thing deliberately or are they just stupid? How dumb does one have to be not to understand that the people who have not seen the latest episode but are planning to do so do not necessarily want to see its results in the headlines every time they look at the current HS news?

The dosage and the time

When I was using antibiotic eyesdrops recently, I was a bit concerned: the precise dosage is supposed to be important with antibiotics, but how do you achieve precise dosage with eyedrops? How do you control the drop size? How can you control or even estimate how much of the drop you just put in your eye flows out onto your cheek?

The hair color instructions always make me wonder as well: they always say things like "put the stuff in your hair, wait 20 minutes, wash it out". However it takes more than 20 minutes just to put the stuff all over your hair, and by the time you are done the part where you started has already been covered with dye for longer than that. Are you supposed to start washing it out slowly, beginning with the parts where you put the color first? Are you supposed to color your hair a bit at a time, so that this is not an issue?

Nowadays I just go to a hairdresser, and she puts the color on and then waits 20 minutes after she is done, and I have never noticed any color difference between the parts where the color has been for 20 minutes and the parts where it has been for 40 minutes, but it's hard to imagine that this wouldn't be an issue with some colors.

Party

The party yesterday was good, even if I say so myself. Thanks to all the other organizers and everyone who came.

I have a feeling that I am not eating any cake ever again, but I think this will pass by tomorrow.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Smile!

This is just so good.

Some holidays are more equal than others

According to the Institute of Public Policy Research, Christmas should be publicly celebrated in Britain only if other religious festivals are marked as well.

WTF? UK is a Christian country, the church and the state are not separated, and the vast majority of the population are either Christians or atheists or agnostics originally from Christian families, who also tend to celebrate Christmas. The minorities who do not celebrate Christmas either have grown up in UK and therefore should be accustommed to the fact that Christians celebrate Christmas, or have at some point moved to the UK and have hopefully figured out that the place is full of Christians before moving.At least I remember that when I moved to Finland my parents warned me that the place is totally full of Lutherans.

Did anyone ever even poll the minorities on this issue?

We Jews do not celebrate Christmas. Some of us pointedly avoid doing anything Christmacy, most just don't celebrate it in any active way. If Christians also stop celebrating Christmas, what is gonna be there for us to pointedly avoid? More importantly, who is gonna make the rice pudding? Are we gonna have to do it ourselves? Shit.

I gladly accept Christmas invitations from friends. OTOH if some official power tried to force me to celebrate Christmas, I'd be the first to remind them that everyone is not Christian, and tell them to bugger off. I hope most normal people understand the difference.

Multicultural practices, however, are fairly diverse, and in a somewhat different spirit of multiculturalism a schol in England ordered all its students and teachers to dress up as Muslims (no, I don't think they meant explosive belts) and celebrate Eid. Let's all dress up the same in order to celebrate diversity. etc. (As an aside, since whoever thought up this idiocy was apparently not a Muslim, somebody should ask them which Eid they were forcing everyone to pretend to celebrate. I think all Muslim holidays are called Eid, or at least all the festive ones.)

Now, Eid (Eid ul-Fitr, I assume in this case) is reasonably fun to celebrate, according to my relatives who have done so. Somehow, I think most of the fun goes out of it if you try to force a schoolful of people to celebrate it, especially in hijabs. I also think that this does not promote much goodwill on anyone's part.

Now I am really curious whether the school will go on with this new fine tradition. Will everyone be forced to celebrate Christmas? Diwali? Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (he was a Sikh guru who got killed for refusing to convert to Islam, which would make for a rather embarassing multicultural celebration)? Passover? I am sure all the Muslim students would be delighted to bless wine in Hebrew.

I guess that the British idea of diversity now is that some holidays are forcibly taken out of the public sphere, whereas others are forcibly put into it. Maybe someday somebody there will come up with the revolutionary idea of letting people celebrate whatever holidays they feel like celebrating.

"And now let's confess our sins..."

University of Delaware had a freshman diversity program, which was stopped yesterday after the media started talking about it.

The program materials featured such jewels as describing a racist as "one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States . . . " and saying that "white culture is a melting pot of greed, guys, guns and god. It is a deadly brew.".

Well, isn't it nice that the people who wrote the diversity materials are not some silly multiculturalists claiming that all the cultures are equally good?

Anyway, the main idea of the whole thing was to confess to how bad one was, and then show some improvement.

The program was aimed at all the 7000 students who lived in the dorms. It was totally voluntary, except that everyone seems to have forgotten to mention that to the students. Quite the opposite, resident advisors told the students that it was mandatory. Michael Gilbert, the university's vice president for student life, called the RAs "overzealous". Because excessive zeal is, of course, what all the RAs are usually known for.

(For those who don't know, a RA is usually a senior or grad student who keeps order in the dorm where he or she lives and looks after the other students for money or free lodging. They tend to have classes, social lives and occasionally real jobs, and IME are rarely inclined to do anything they don't absolutely have to do.)

They also asked rather prying questions on students' sexuality. Mind you, at the time when I was a freshman, if any Powers That Be demanded that I open up and answer some overly-inquisitive questions about my sexuality I would have indeed opened up until the Powers That Be first asked me to shut up and then ran out of the room screaming and covering their ears, but you can't do that nowadays anymore. Sexual harassment, you know.

Since the whole thing makes me think about the Soviet culture once again (many things nowadays do, unfortunately), I just have to quote Timur Shaov. My apologies to everyone who cannot read Russian.

Вреден я, не отпираюсь.
Утопил Му-Му я, каюсь.
Всё скажу, во всём сознаюсь,
Только не вели казнить.
Это я бомбил Балканы,
Я замучил Корвалана,
И Александра Мирзаяна
Я планировал убить.

А как выпью политуру,
Так сажусь писать халтуру.
Постамент родной культуры
Я царапаю гвоздём.
Клеветник и очернитель,
Юных девушек растлитель,
И вообще я - врач-вредитель,
Приходите на прием!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Higher fines for recidivism?

Today's HS article about the increasing number of ticketless passengers caught on public transportation and the ensuing conversation about people who sometimes travel without tickets by accident made me wonder why so few public transit systems have higher fines for people who get caught often.

The only one I know of is De Lijn in Belgium.

The first offence can be punished with a rather moderate fine, the second offence within 12 months with a higher fine and any subsequent offences with much higher fines. This would hit the kind of people who habitually travel without a ticket quite hard, without placing an undue burden on people who just happened to forget to renew their tickets, etc. This probably wouldn't be very hard to implement, considering that they use social security numbers to write the fines anyway nowadays.

"When we feel the urge, we just go read the Koran instead..."

Sudanese government has already embarked on the recently promised campaign to teach ethics and morals to the West:

Lesson #1: "crisis in Darfur? what crisis?".

"It also denies reports of widespread rape, pointing out that the people of Darfur are Muslim and, therefore, incapable of rape."

Wishing rape on people is extremely ill-mannered, but somehow I would be amused if the Sudanese officials who claim that Muslims don't rape got a chance to compare objective reality with this claim on their own asses, literally.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oh, those sweet memories of childhood...

Nowadays Russian officials organize spontaneous rallies in support of Putin.

This is so ex-USSR... Too bad the article does not say what they promise the people for participation in the rallies, or what they threaten them with.

When I was young they usually promised workers free days off for participation in rallies (which usually took a lot less than 8 hours). Slave classes like secondary school and college students were threatened with various troubles. (College students were threatened with expulsion, of course, but you couldn't really kick people out of high school, so we usually just had to listen to our teachers' yelling if we didn't show up.) I don't think anyone bothered with senior citizens.

The same went for all other activism by "volunteers".

In honor of the revival of this time-honored Soviet tradition I'd like to offer to the attention of those who can read Russian, once again, Borya's posting about giving shit for the Olympic games.

And then I will tell you all about chastity and abstinence...

Sudan's president Omar Al-Bashir says he will export ethics and morals to Western countries.

Wow, thanks! We'll try to fit your classes on ethics and morals in somewhere in between Osama's lecture on world peace, presentation of the results of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust research and Saudi women's rights workshop.

Since we believe in mutual exchange of information, the United States will also proudly present Bill Clinton's sermon on marital fidelity and Dick Cheney's firearm safety workshop.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fairs, wine and manga

Been to the book, food and wine fair yesterday. Managed to escape without buying all the books, but finally got, among other things, my own copy of Kiroileva siili.

The food was unimpressive. The wine part, OTOH, was very nice.

The difficult thing about all the wine fairs where you get to taste a lot of wines for a little money is that I tend to go for the good, rather than for the unknown as I think I should. Every time I go to a wine fair I plan to taste a lot of French wines, of which I don't know much, and instead end up drinking wine made of Tempranillo grapes in the Spanish region of Rioja, about which I already know that it has 100% chance of being good (empirical observation based on the sample size of about 30).

Anyway, drank a number of glasses of various wines of the aforementioned variety, which have once again all turned out to be good.

If any of my readers know a bit about French wines and can recommend some, I am all ears.

Another thing on which I could use some recommendation is manga. I'd like to try to read some, but have no idea what would be a good place to start. The two things I'd like to see in my manga would be cute guys and violence (does not have to be extremely gory or anything). Humor would be nice too.

Eek, there are antennae under that hat!

Abu Bakar Bashir, who has recently served two years in prison for his inspirational involvement in 2002 Bali bombings, has given an interview. A few bits:

"The US has a program and has a crusade that is being carried out in an unfair way, which is by spreading the message that there is Islamic terrorism in this world and basically all the enemies, all the terrorists are Islamists and all the people who fight for sharia law."

Errr... I thought it was Abu Bakar Bashir himself who was spreading the message that there is Islamic terrorism in this world, by being, you know, an Islamic terrorist.

"ATol: So you are condemning the Bali bombers?

Ba'asyir: No. The bombers are actually counter-terrorists because they are opposing US terrorism. They are mujahids."


Let's see: bombing Indonesian nightclubs is an act of opposition to US terrorism?

The guy goes on much in the same spirit, praising Osama, etc.

Funny thing: there are many terrorist-supporting imams who like to say that everyone else is a terrorist and they are innocent freedom fighters, that London bombings happened because people are suspicious of Muslims, etc., but just in case of this particular guy, every time he speaks I get a feeling of "what planet did this creature come from, and could we please send him back?".

Sunday, October 28, 2007

They don't write about sexual market value like they used to

Some years ago a lot of people used to write about the sexual market value theory. They were, for the most part, rather entertaining about it. A lot of other people used to disapprove.

The basic idea of the sexual market value theory is that some people are more sexually desirable than others (to the members of their preferred sex on average), that some features are more desirable than others, on average, and that the more desirable people tend to be able to find more desirable partners.

The idea is simple, and intuitively understandable to most people. There is a fair amount of fun in discussing the details, if one is so inclined.

A lot of people seem to object to the idea, for fairly obvious emotional reasons. First of all, it's nice to think that one is loved for one's true self, whatever that means, rather than pay attention to the fact that before your current, former or prospective partners really start paying attention to your true self for sexual or romantic purposes they have already preselected you on a number of rather more mundane features: height, weight, age, social class, where you live, whether or not you smoke, etc., etc. Second, even a person who does not mind the idea of sexual market value as such usually prefers to overestimate his or her own sexual market value, and does not particularly enjoy hearing exactly which of his or her own features are not deemed desirable by prospective partners.

It's quite understandable for some people to write about sexual market value theory, and for some other people to answer "you evil, evil shallow person! how can you be so cynical!".

This really should not, however, be the same person in the same blog post. Or even in the same blog, if the whole blog is dedicated to the sexual market value theory. And this is what I keep seeing lately. Don't these people understand how pathetic they sound?

It's often fun to pronounce ugly truths, and fun to read people who do so, but people who do so should at least exhibit a bit of self-ironic detachment when they notice that the same ugly truths apply to themselves (or, failing that, pretend that they did not notice). As opposed to puzzlement and/or moral outrage.

For a couple examples (links not given to protect the guilty):

1. A man in his forties (IIRC) finds out that various sexual market commodities can be exchanged one for another, more particularly that a fortyish man who is a lot richer than average can find 20-year-old women a lot easier than average. He moves to a relatively poor Asian country on a first-world income and proceeds to do so, much to the understandable (but IMO unjustified) disapproval of the young guys in the new country and the middle-aged women in the old one.

So far, so good. But then the man in question, who keeps extolling the various virtues of young women is totally, completely baffled when he sees middle-aged women who prefer younger men. "Why?" - he asks. "What do they find in them?"

2. Another man keeps going on about younger women, too. Again, understandable. But then he writes a whole post full of moral outrage about older women who try to pick up younger men. "What are they trying to prove?" The post contains a picture of woman who is otherwise reasonably good looking according to the author, but whose upper arm definitely shows her age (or lack of workout). In the same post he accuses those women of shallowness.

3. A guy does not like fat women. Fine, no surprise here, most people prefer thinner partners.

Then he finds a statistic saying that newly-married women in their teens and early twenties gain 24 pounds during their first 5 years of marriage, whereas men gain 30. Dismissing the men's weight gain as unimportant (because he thinks women don't or shouldn't really care), he proceeds to exhibit moral outrage with the wives for being inconsiderate to the desires of their husbands and therefore ugly inside as well as outside.

This is funny enough in and of itself, but the same guy has also previously expressed the opinion that women who lose weight to please men are shallow.

Oy vey. "Myötähäpeä" is a really good Finnish word that English unfortunately lacks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Aivoälykkyys alas! Perseälykkyys kunniaan!

HS-raati ilmaisi mielipiteitään siitä, onko väestöryhmien ja kansojen keskimääräistä älykkyyttä vertaileva tutkimus tieteellisesti perusteltua. Suurin osa ihmisiä tietysti kiemurteli miten sattui. Toiset kielsivät älykkyyden ja toiset kansojen olemassaolon. Monet kertoivat kaikenlaisista vaikeuksista älykkyyden mittaamisessa. Jotkut muistivat myös varoittaa ettei vain tuloksia käytettäisin väärin.

Eihän siinä mitään: älykkyyden määritelmä ja mittaaminen eivät ole suinkaan ongelmattomia. Jotkut testit sisältävät geometrisia kuvioita, jotkut numerosarjoja. Testien kulttuuririippuvuudesta, Flynnin ilmiöstä ja testien painottamisesta eri kykyjen suuntiin väitellään, ja syystäkin.

Tyhmempikin kuitenkin ymmärtää (tai niin minä ainakin olin tyhmänä kuvitellut) että vaikka ei ole yksimielisyyttä siitä mitä kykyjä tarkalleen älykkyystestit mittaavat, on olemassa tosi paljon asioita joita ne eivät mittaa. Ne eivät mittaa tunneälyä, musiikkilahjakkuutta, seksuaalista kestävyyttä, kiinan kirjoitusjärjestelmän tuntemusta, kemian tuntemusta, tai metsästystaitoja. Ihan turha on syyttää älykkyystestejä siitä että ne eivät mittaa ihan kaikkia kykyjä joita ihmisillä on. Lämpömittaritkaan eivät ole täydellisiä: joskus ne ovat epätarkkoja, ja niitä joutuu kalibroimaan uudestaan eri korkeuksilla, mutta kukaan tervejärkinen ei väittäisi että lämpömittari on turha laite joka ei mittaa mitään, eikä moittisi lämpömittaria siitä että se ei mittaa aikaa eikä verenpainetta.

Mielenkiintoisempaa (ja huolestuttavampaa) oli kuitenkin se, että hyvin monet vastaajat päättivät tulkita sanan "kansa" etniseksi ryhmäksi. Ei siinä mitään, etnisten ryhmien välinen vertailu olisi mielenkiintoista sekin, mutta kysymys koski kansoja. Tarkoittaako "kansa" tosiaankin niin monelle HS-raadin tyypille etnistä ryhmää?

Parhaan heiton kuitenkin teki Mikko Lehtonen, kuka lieneekään: "Tällaiset tutkimukset ovat ongelmallisia jo siksi, että niissä "älykkyys" tulee määritellyksi eurosentrisesti, länsimaiseen ihmiskäsitykseen perustuen, jolloin "älyä" on kaikki se, mikä on poskipäiden yläpuolella (siis silmät ja aivot), mutta muu ruumis unohtuu."

WTF? Onko Lehtonen ihan oikeasti sitä mieltä että länsimaissa äly sijaitsee eurosentrisesti aivoissa, mutta muualla ihmiset käyttävät muita ruumiinosia samoihin tarkoituksiin? Vai onko se sitä mieltä että älykkyys-käsitteeseen pitäisi kuulua sellaisiakin asioita kuin kyky juosta nopeasti, tai seksuaalinen kestävyys, tai painonnostokyky?

Haluaisin välttää kaikenlaisia vitsejä siitä, missä ruumiinosassa Lehtosen oma äly sijaitsee, mutta se on hyvin vaikeaa.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

To Ironmistress: about reincarnation and suffering

(In response to the thread in the previous post.)

Most Jews don't know anything about gilgul - it's not a mainstream thing, except among Hassidim. I think its idea - that people get reincarnated in order to correct the past mistakes or finish some unfinished business - is somewhat in contradiction with the rest of Jewish eschatology, where people get ressurected as a reward for having been reasonably good in their past life, not as a punishment for having been bad.

But that's OK. Jewish eschatology is more of a mess than the EU constitution, and much for the same reasons.

I get your point about religion (one's own or someone else's) being useful to some of the users. I certainly don't have anything against the fact that you use it to avoid harming yourself.

The reasoning behind the belief in reincarnation is incomprehensible to me for the same reasons that Adelphi mentioned: if the personality disintegrates, who is there to be punished or rewarded, and if the only thing that remains if some "essense of self" that does not contain any personality or memories, how is this different from a regular death?

As for my personal beliefs:

Emotionally the whole thing is even more incomprehensible to me. From my point of view, life is definitely not full of suffering, and whatever suffering there is in life is usually derived from death (and in general life's finiteness) one way or another, and not from craving. The world is not a bad place, and people are not in general evil. I'd very much like to live forever, especially if I get to remain reasonable young and healthy, and I wish most other people lived forever, except if they really don't want to.

From this point of view, reincarnation as a punishment is a strange idea indeed.

I used to know a Buddhist some years ago. He explained to be that being attached to anything on this earth is bad, because you can always lose it or live in fear of losing it, and this would cause suffering. To me the idea makes about as much sense as "absolute zero is the best temperature, because it least it can never get colder".

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reincarnation

I've always wondered what's the deal with the religions where people reincarnate all the time. I can see how you can get some people to believe in heaven or hell or being reborn at the end of the world as we know it, but isn't it empirically self-evident that we did not have a previous life?

I suppose that the standard answer would be that the part of the soul that reincarnated is too small or too lofty to contain memories and/or personality of the previous host, but doesn't this render the whole concept of reincarnation rather meaningless?

...but it will totally stop your diarrhea

Positive thinking doesn't stop cancer, says AFP and many other news sources.

At first I thought we had a really slow news day, and looked around for the articles saying "masturbation will not make you hands hairy, either", but apparently this was a real study conducted by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania, and countering a widespread belief that positive attitude can beat cancer.

What I want to know is: who are those people who widely believe that positive attitude can stop cancer? And do they also apply this line of reasoning to somewhat less life-threatening diseases, such as for example diarrhea?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life: infection is officially over, but summer isn't

Been to a doctor today. He declared me completely healthy (ok, the exact words were more along the lines of "ok, your right eye does not look any worse than the left one anymore"). Apparently I did not have an abominable viral disease in my eye after all. Ate a ton of antivirals, paid $215 for them, but the insurance will pay, or, as usual, first cry and then pay.

Got over the jet lag, too, finally.

Had a session of Exalted for the first time after a long break. Luckily the next session is pretty soon now. I missed playing.

I am not sure what's wrong with the world, but two different guys tried to grab my tits two days in a row. Usually guys like that are already deep in their winter sleep this time of the year. Must be the sun, waking them up. It's surely not natural, having the sun in the sky this time of the year?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Crying at windmills

Do other people also get very acutely upset, sad, angry or scared over things that they don't have any control of and that they have known all their lives, for example the fact that we are all eventually gonna die?

I do, every once in a while, fairly regularly. From the reactions I get to it I gather that most people don't, and some have found this outright scary when I told them. A couple of people told me to get immediate help, but failed to convince me that I need help for this, immediate or otherwise (when you've been doing this all your life without noticeable ill effects it's kind of hard to believe in the problem's immediacy).

Those "moments" (or hours, usually) don't seem to be in any way correlated with stress, life situation, general health, general sadness, menstrual cycle, alcohol use, seasons, or anything at all.

"And after that we can all vote on the final solution..."

Committee to Vote on Genocide Resolution and Final US Vote On Genocide Resolution By Year End are somewhat disturbing-looking headlines, even though I know they are talking about recognizing the Armenian genocide as such.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What they don't teach you in the medical school

A few words of advice to doctors and dentists (bitter, who, me?):

1. While some patients are quite accepting of profanity, "holy shit, come here, check this out!" and "what the fuck is that?" are not phrases that are generally considered to be a good bedside manner. Neither are "eek!" and "oh my god!".

2. Telling a crying 2-year-old with an injured leg "shut up, or I'll break the other one too" is not likely to get the volume down a lot. Apart from the increased screaming it might also cause pain in your jaw if a parent is within the hearing range.

3. When you are cutting something off or up, make sure it's the right body part of the right patient. When applying local anesthesia, also make sure you apply it to the right place. If you are doing both, make sure you anethesize the part you are going to cut, and not another one. If you are not good at matching the anesthesia with the surgery, at least position yourself so that your face is out of reach of the patient's swinging arms, legs and other appendages.

4. Giving medical treatment by force is illegal in most jurisdictions except in some special cases. For reasons of personal safety it should also never be done to a person considerably larger than yourself.

5. Keeping track of people's cholesterol is important, but if you try to treat all the cases of ankle injury or eye inflammation with a cholesterol checkup referral your patients might feel a bit dissatisfied with the service.