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.)


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.


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..."


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


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.


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


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.