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


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 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.


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


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....