Thursday, January 31, 2008

Choose your look

If you could choose your physical appearance (for the sake of this question, let's assume that your choice in not limited by age, race, height or weight, but is limited by what occurs in nature, so you can't choose naturally green hair or light-emitting purple eyes), what would you choose? I am not asking about the specifics, but whether you'd choose the kind of looks that you find the most desirable, the kind of looks that the members of your preferred sex find the most desirable, the kind of looks that would give you the best chance in some industry that employs beautiful people and pays them big money, or something else, or some kind of compromise between the above?

I'd try to maximize my own viewing pleasure and tend to assume that anyone else would, too, but this might not necessarily be the case.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wow, the time machine works for the future, too!

The plot indeed thickens:

I wrote to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Elections Division to complain about the Newton Election Commission. The answer was a bit surrealistic:

"We did contact the Newton Elections Commission in regards to your absentee ballots. They indicated that they mailed your ballot out on November 24, 2008."

Sending the ballot on November 24, 2008 is hardly likely to be very helpful for the primary that is on February 5, 2008, but I am sure glad to see that the time machine bought by the city of Newton works for the visits to the future, too.

Newton Election Commission

Letter 1, 29.01.08:

Dear Sir,

I have ordered an absentee ballot for the Republican primary about 3.5 weeks ago by mail. Is still hasn't arrived. Mail takes about a week to arrive from there to here.

This is not the first time this happens, and I am afraid not the last, either. What is going on there? The only absentee ballot that ever came on time and without any problems was the ballot for the last congressional election. The one for the 2000 presidential election never arrived at all, in spite of multiple letters and phone calls; the one for the 2004 election arrived only after multiple phone calls.

What exactly is the problem? I send in an absentee ballot request, and more often than not get no answer whatsoever.

Best regards,
Vera Izrailit

Answer, 29.01.08:

Dear Ms. Izrailit,

In regards to your e-mail refering to a problem with your ballot, this is the first time I have received your request for an absentee ballot. I was hired in June of 2007 and find it offensive that you would presume that we are not processing absentee applications properly. I can assure you that this is not the case. My staff is very competent and that your absentee ballot was mailed to your Finland address on January 24, 2008. Remember the deadline to receive your ballot in Newton is Wednesday, February 20, 2008.

Craig AJ Manseau, Executive Director
Newton Election Commission

Letter two, 30.01.08:

Dear Mr Manseau,

If you are offended by the public's complaints, I am afraid the public service is not for you. I do, however, share your feelings, because I am also offended by the fact that you are not processing the absentee applications properly.

Obviously, if you have started working there in 2007, anything that has happened before that is not a personal fault of yours. I, on the other hand, have had experience with your staff and their predecessors since 1996, and I assure you that my complaints stem from experience and not from presumptions.

I an quite surprised that you have not received my request for an absentee ballot before now, because in my experience both Finland's and United States' postal services are quite reliable, at least as long as the letters are not going to the Newton Election Commission, or coming from it. I am, however, quite grateful that you have posted it on the 24th of January, and congratulate you on your acquisition of a time machine.

Best regards,
Vera Izrailit

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Somebody send them some Atkins diet books, quick!

Sandbox blog found amazing news in Boston Globe: Gaza Strip needs 680 000 tons of flour daily to feed its population.

One of the writers of the Globe article, Eyad al-Sarraj, is a founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. One can only wonder if the mental health program deals with serious eating disorders. Really serious.

Because 680 000 tons a day is quite a lot for the population of 1.5 million. WTF do they do with almost half a ton of flour per person per day?

My fellow Americans,

Please share your experience in extracting absentee ballots out of your former city/town or residence, and in punishing them for not providing them.

The city of Newton, MA, has failed to send me my ballot again, and something needs to be done about it. I might yet get it by making several angry phone calls, but that's not how it should work. They should send people the ballots on request, and they almost never manage to do that. I decided that Newton Election Commission needs to be taught the fear of god, or at least of me.

So - what is the best place to complain to? And is the Newton Election Commission exceptionally dim, or do people from other places tend to have the same problem?

The weekend

Had a pretty good weekend. On Friday VPK and Ning came over, and we had some food and drinks. And then more drinks.

They brought me the world's best hairstick, too. I usually don't get very excited about such things, but this one was really the best hairstick ever: both very cute and very practical (metal, sturdy, not too long, and sharp but not too sharp).

On Saturday went to Skutta to see some movies. The company was good, the movies were mostly good and even the suspicious food with vegetables was very good, but I am not sure that visit was good for my sanity. My current midlife crisis includes quite a bit of dog and cat fever, and they have three cats who spend most of their time being cute at people, climbing on them and saying "murr, murr".

And no, I am absolutely not getting myself a cat. No matter how much purring Skutta's cats do to encourage me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A very angry note to self

You are absolutely not buying any more frozen vegetables until you finish eating the ones already in the freezer. And yes, dear, I know that "sometime in the next millenium" would be a fairly accurate time estimate.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I really like this. Maybe I should just make wallpaper of this and stare at it all the time. If I do, somebody should probably come to feed me sometime.

OK, now we found the mother of all bad plumbers

At Stora Enso's factory in Skutskär the emergency shower turned out to have sulphuric acid instead of water. They found it during a routine checkup, and nobody was hurt.

Damn, and here I thought that a fountain coming out of the toilet bowl in a friend's place was bad...

Mini-midlife crisis?

I've been mildly dissatisfied with life lately, for no apparent reason.

Maybe I have just reached the age when a lot of people start wondering whether the grass is greener on the other side, and whether they should have been doing something else in life than whatever they chose to do, and whether they should start doing something else instead before it's too late. Have another, glamorous job. Have a family. See the world. Party. Spend time with friends. Screw around. Buy a red sports car.

Problem is, the grass is not really greener on the other side, and doesn't even seem greener. There is really nothing I would rather be doing, and no one else's life that I would rather be living. I might not be paricularly passionate about my job, but I like it. There was a time when I would have preferred to have a career in the academia, but I am glad I left it behind, and never regretted it for a second. I don't want children. I have seen quite a lot of the world, and have screwed around, too, and am planning to continue. I party, and spend time with my friends. I have been reasonably pleased in most of my relationships with men, and would have probably also been reasonably pleased if I had chosen the other men who were under serious consideration. I have totally no use for a red sports car. Or spirituality.

There is still a bit of a "is that all there is to life?" feeling. It's not severe, but I do notice it occasionally.

It's kind of weird to have this feeling when I see the grass on many other sides all the time, and none of it is really greener.

Maybe I should just buy one of those very bright lamps. Or fall in love. Or upgrade the hardware in my computer. Something exciting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Holy ass!

General Butt Naked returned to Liberia and confessed to killing about 20000 people during its civil war.

"Damn," - I thought, - "if my parents called me Butt Naked, I'd probably become a homicidal maniac too." But no, this guy was originally called Milton Blayee, and earned the Butt Naked nickname for killing people without any clothes on. (He was not wearing any clothes, not his victims. Or maybe they too. Who knows.)

One of the activities he did while naked was sacrificing children and eating their hearts. For luck. I know politicians demand that people should make sacrifices during a war, but I didn't know somebody took this quite that literally.

Later Mr. Ass found God and became an evangelical Christian preacher in Ghana. I can imagine that his sermons on what exactly a good Christian is not supposed to do are quite graphic and colorful.

All that right when Helsingin Sanomat just told us that there were more murder and manslaughter per person in Lappi than in West and Central Africa.

Let's see. Liberia: 3,195,935 people (now), 250 000 killed during 1989-2003 (Butt wasn't the only participant). That would make 7822 killings per 100000 people during the whole time, about 559 a year. Lappi has just above 6 killings per year per 100000 people.

But of course, the killing done during a war does not qualify as crime. Logical in a way, but how do you count murder and manslaughter during a war? And let's face it, sacrificing children and eating their hearts while naked does not quite conform to the Finnish idea of warfare. The Geneva Convention says that you have to wear a uniform to be a legitimate soldier. Their standards of uniforms are quite lax, an armband would be enough, but I am pretty sure that a heart sticking out of a naked combatant's mouth still doesn't qualify.

Mizzbrazil, again

18 months after taking my money Mizzbrazil seem to want to return it after all, or is at least pretending to (I am not gonna believe a word they say until I actually have the money).

A note for self and others who shop in the UK web stores: a complaint to Companies House apparently works. Especially when people realize that they can't close their company before they resolve all the complaints from the people to whom they owe money.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"But they belong to somebody else!"

Every time I hear "but it's not faaaaair to steal the valuable educated human resources away from poor third world countries", I feel like sticking the speaker into a time machine and sending them to some really human resource-loving third world country in some really good moment, like Pol Pot's Cambodia or Francisco Macias Nguema's Equatorial Guinea.

No, don't worry. I won't really do it even if I find an appropriate time machine lying somewhere around the place.

Human resources are otherwise known as people. "Stealing them", in this context, usually refers to approving their applications for a residence permit. People are usually not owned by countries, although some countries and, apparently, an increasing number of otherwise civilized people might think otherwise.

Moving into some country is not a human right, much as some people might want to convince us otherwise. Moving out of some country, however, is. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 13.

This certainly does not mean that anyone is obliged to give them a new place to live. There is a number of perfectly good reasons not to let somebody in. However, not letting people in for the specific reason that their current owners might need them more would be in very bad faith as far as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is concerned. But hey, so many people like helping the third world out of somebody else's pocket, that helping it out of somebody else's life must also feel very cool and righteous. Extra points if you manage to piss off some capitalist pigs who wanted to hire those people.

People in general tend to like sacrifice, especially when the sacrifice is being done by somebody else and they themselves are a beneficiary. "Our soldiers, who laid down their lives for our freedom,", yadda-yadda-yadda. Kinda understandable in a selfish way, really. What I don't understand is a Finnish person who demands that somebody else lay down their own life or well-being for, say, Nigeria.

If you don't want an educated Nigerian here, fine, just say it. You might not like his black face (no, I don't approve of this reason but at least it is openly and honestly irrational), you might suspect that his diploma is fake or his education is bad, you might think that there is enough unemployment in his field already, you might prefer uneducated Nigerians instead, etc. But don't say that you don't want him here because you want to help Nigeria by keeping their educated people back there. It just makes you sound pathetic. Mostly it makes you sound like a pathetic liar, because you probably don't care about Nigeria any more than I do, but if you are in fact telling the truth it makes you sound like a pathetic asshole who wants to feel good by helping third world at a great expense to somebody else. Yeah, and that Nigerian will probably move to the US or the UK anyway, but that's beside the point.

Most of the people who live in the first world have pulled a lucky ticket in the birth lottery, and the rest of us have pulled a lucky ticket in the immigration lottery. There is nothing really fair about it, but there is also no way we can really share our luck with all the rest of the world, because, let's face it, we have to look out for our own interests. It does, however, sound quite silly, when a person who lives in a nice safe rich country and gladly participates in building up its economy is talking about somebody else's obligation to build up the economy of some festering shithole.

As for third-world countries: maybe, if they want to keep their educated human resources, they should work at it? Like, pay them decent salaries? Abstain from genocide and suchlike? Keep the riots down a little bit? Or, to continue with the Equatorial Guinea's example, try not to kill people just for wearing glasses?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Acid attacks

Maybe somebody should write a manual for the really stupid criminals. One advice would be: "if you purchase hydrochloric acid in order to make bombs, don't throw that acid in the face of total strangers on the subway right in front of a surveillance camera. This attracts a bit of unnecessary attention, increases the likelihood of being caught, makes for pretty good evidence in the court of law, and besides you'll run out of acid that way."

That's what happened in Rouen on New Year's Eve. Three boys aged 14-15 saw a girl on the subway, tried to harass her a bit but got no response, and threw some hydrochloric acid in her face. This did indeed elicit a bit of a response, even from the police. The response might be up to 7 years of prison, and the conviction is likely, considering that they did it in front of a surveillance camera.

Now it turns out that the acid was meant for tiny little homemade bombs. The kind that make a lot of smoke and throw acid around in the radius of a few meters. Isn't it lovely?

As an aside: how are people like that not afraid of their victims? Or are they? I mean, even I found myself idly wondering whether or not you can construct an enema from materials that would hold acid, and administer it to the offenders, and what the result would be, and I don't even know any of the participants. For all we know the poor girl might have already designed and made such a device and be waiting for them with it. In any case they won't ever be able to be sure.

In any case I wish the boys a really painful accident in their next handling of acid. Hopefully resulting in a Darwin award.

On a related note: in London last week five teenagers raped a 16-year-old girl a poured lye all over her in order to destroy DNA evidence. One of them has already been arrested. The article says "poured caustic soda over her, but it leaves to everyone's imagination where else they must have poured it to remove the DNA evidence from rape.

Ugh. Hope this doesn't become a trend.

Maybe I should invest in a toilet plunger company, for the times when we won't be able to buy any acid, lye, drain cleaner or suchlike anymore.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Curiouser and curiouser

I came home today, and the freezer was open a little bit.

There is a possibility that I left it open, but then it must have been at least 5 days ago, but everything was still frozen.


Who pissed in my toilet?

Came home yesterday from work, and the toilet seat was up. I am pretty sure I did not leave it that way, and there wasn't anyone else there. Or at least shouldn't have been.

Paranoid, who, me?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guns don't shoot balls. People shoot balls.

How not to do armed robbery:

A man comes into a convenience store, threatens the clerk with a gun, demands money, gets the money, demands cigarettes, puts the gun into his pants, pulls the trigger.

The man takes the money and runs, the clerk reports armed robbery by a man who shot himself in the balls, the man calls an ambulance about the balls, the ambulance and the police arrive.

The article does not say whether or not the injury was severe enough to improve the local gene pool.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Freedom of religion

Maybe I just don't understand the whole concept properly. After all, I grew up in a place the "freedom of religion" meant "you can believe in whatever you want as long as you are really quiet about it". Practicing a religion in the Soviet Union in my time was very much like being gay in the US Army: don't ask, don't tell.

It's very nice that people are free to practice whatever religion they choose, much in the same way as it is nice that people are free to wear whatever kind of pants they choose, or have sex with whatever consenting adult they choose, or vote for whatever party they choose. What I find strange is that in many countries religion has special privileges over other life choices.

I don't really mind people asking for various kinds of things, whether it's based on their religion or not. I don't mind them getting whatever they ask for, as long as it is not too much of a trouble. If Sikh cops want to wear turbans, sure, why not. If Muslim kids in school want halal food, sure, whatever, at least if there is enough of them to make it feasible (and if not, they can bring their own lunch). Vegetarians want vegetarian food, same thing. If sufficiently many people ask for something like that, why not please them?

What I don't understand is why the rest of us should consider the religious demands somehow "holier" than the secular ones, more worthy of being fulfilled, or, even worse, a separate right only for the people who really practice the religion in question. Either the religion is asking for something that cannot or should not be fulfilled, in which case it shouldn't, or it is asking for something that can be fulfilled, in which case it should also be fulfilled for anyone who is asking for it, regardless of whether an invisible guy in the sky supports the idea.

Lately the freedom of speech has been eroding here and elsewhere. There are IMO some perfectly legitimate restrictions to what one can say: incitement to crimes, slander, etc. But lately there appears to have developed a right not to be insulted, at least as a particular group of people (insults against the humankind as a whole are for some reason still OK), and the speech insulting various groups tends to be censored. I don't like it, but this is the current trend.

I would really like to know why religions, in their holy books and sermons, get to insult infidels, women, gays and whoever they want, while the rest of us are supposed to pretend to respect them? If you are not allowed to publish a webpage that collects news of crimes committed by foreigners in Finland and some rather rude personal accounts of same, how can you publish a book that calls for killing of engaged women who were raped in a city, or a book that demands that everyone who converts out of a particular religion should be killed?

Monday, January 14, 2008

"But we are really not like that!"

Iivi Anna Masso has written a pretty good article about the similarities between the attitudes of the most avid pro-immigration and anti-immigration people.

One of the things she said was that in the eyes of the nationalists immigration is in itself a bad thing, and immigrants are bad people.

The nationalists naturally rushed to deny it, but she does have a point.

First of all, there are nationalists who really are against all immigrants. Some are ethnic supremacists. Some are just neophobes. Some say things like "but of course I am not against all immigrants, if people are obeying the law and working for a living they are welcome", but somehow tend to find arguments against people who are coming here to work if the conversation is specifically about them.

Those are a minority of nationalists. But I think quite a lot of the public image problem lies with the majority. In my experience, which in mostly based on the Internet forums, an average Finnish nationalist:

a) tends to believe that most immigrants come from Africa and Muslim countries, don't integrate, and don't work,
b) knows that there are people who come from the Western countries, and that some immigrants, both from the West and the third world, who do in fact integrate and work,
c) really has nothing against well-integrated immigrants,
d) uses the word "immigrants" in conversation to mean badly-integrated third-world immigrants.

See the problem? If you read some forum regularly, you have no problem figuring out who really means what. If you challenge people on something they say, they explain themselves better, and sometimes they are lying, but usually they aren't. But to an outside observer who is neither familiar with the participants, nor ready to ask extra questions, the conversation sometimes does look bad, and for a reason.

The problem is not limited to nationalists: pretty much all political forums, and many non-political ones, have a lot of people making strong statements they don't necessarily mean, letting off steam, joking in a way not likely to be understood by the outsiders, and in general behaving like they are "among their own" and will therefore be understood. It's sort of easier and more fun that way, but one should hardly be surprised at being misunderstood.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Off with their heads!

When I am the queen of the world, I will execute all the telemarketers who call hungover people at 10:30 on Saturday. In fact I will execute all the telemarketers who call anyone at 10:30 on Saturday. Or maybe I should just execute all the telemarketers and be done with it.

As an aside, a note to self: drinking a lot of wine for breakfast is not a good idea, even (or especially) if the breakfast takes places at 8pm.

On the brighter side, yesterday's calorie intake was surely negative.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Eek! We don't want that moron back!"

Mullah Krekar, originally from Iraq, came to Norway as a refugee in 1991. Since then he has engaged in activities that are generally considered incompatible with refugee status even in Norway, such as founding and leading a terrorist organization, Ansar Al-Islam.

In early 2003 Norway decided that it doesn't want to keep this lovely gentleman, and since then they've been trying to kick him out. They've been at it for 5 years now, because Norway wants assurances that he won't be killed, and Iraqi Kurdistan's rich and vibrant cultural tradition includes hanging the folks who specialize in detonating car bombs is the streets.

Krekar, incidentally, claims that he had no idea about the group's terrorist activities. He only founded and led it, that's all. Ansar Al-Islam's non-terrorist or at least non-lethal activities mostly consisted of destroying girls' schools, kicking the infidels out of villages where they lived, and desecrating Sufi shrines.

Ansar Al-Islam is believed to have 300 terrorists, many of whom are foreigners. You sort of know that you are not doing well when you can't find yourself 300 terrorists in Iraq and have to import your workforce from abroad, and these people don't even have the same employee turnover problem as the organizations that rely more heavily on suicide bombers. But I digress...

Anyway, Krekar's refugee status was revoked in 2002 for terrorist activities, Norway decided to expel him, Iraqi authorities are asking for his extradition, you get the idea. Recently the Supreme Court of Norway decided that the man is a threat to the national security, and now there might be some hope that they will indeed kick his ass out.

Krekar himself doesn't want to be expelled. He welcomed the martyrdom of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (although, to be quite fair, who didn't?), but is in no hurry to follow him on that path, and is very concerned that this is what might happen if he is returned.

Now the Reform and Jihad Front, an umbrella organization for several Sunni terrorist organizations in Iraq, is threatening Norway with reprisals if they send Krekar back. I guess they are in no hurry to see the glorious leader (or ex-leader, as he says) of Ansar Al-Islam again.

I can sort of imagine their conversation:

Islamic Army in Iraq: If he stayed here he'd been martyred many times over. Norway has kept the fucker alive, so let them keep him.
Mujahedeen Army: If he comes back the rest of our mujahedeen will run away and we'll have to open a recruitment center in France. France, can you imagine! The guys who come from there demand a 30-hour work week and at least one car per night per person to burn, and we only have two cars and one bike.
Ansar Al-Sunna: And he never pitches in for coffee and explosives!
Fatihin Army: Did you see his beard? The man is starting to look like Infidel Castro. Al-Qaeda will be so laughing at us.

Monday, January 07, 2008

For fuck's sake!

People who like to talk about immigration, occasionally myself included, tend to talk about the problematic groups. This is understandable: the people who are concerned about the security issues are primarily interested in the groups that pose a high risk with regard to crime and terrorism, the people who are concerned about humanitarian issues are interested in the groups that need help, the people who are concerned about the financial issues are counting the unemployed and the people who wish to show how tolerant they are feel it's a bit lame to preach about the tolerance towards, say, the Norwegians.

It's quite OK, really. The problem is not that people want to talk about the specific groups. The problem is that they tend to refer to those groups as "immigrants" and disregard all other immigrants as a marginal phenomenon. Since all other immigrants tend to include the majority of immigrants, this makes all the conversations about statistics quite surreal.

The normal modus operandi of the anti-immigration folks:

1. Point out, more or less correctly, the problems of the highly problematic groups.
2. Look up the immigration statistics concerning all immigrants, and in some cases also some Finns.
3. Faint in horror.

The normal modus operandi of the pro-immigration folks:

1. Look up some statistics concerning all immigrants.
2. Claim that all the immigrant groups are doing OK, since on average they do, unless they don't and you can somehow blame it on the Finns, in which case:
3. Claim that all the immigrant groups are doing badly, and blame it on the Finns.

Pointing out the facts works, but only temporarily. Still I'll try one more time:

First of all, the number quoted recently by HS: 25900 people have moved to Finland last year. No, this really doesn't mean that 25900 Somalis armed with Kalashnikovs and screaming "Allahu Akbar" have immigrated to Finland. This doesn't even mean that 25900 of anyone have immigrated to Finland. This is the number of people who have moved to Finland after living somewhere else. Fairly many of whom are, not very surprisingly, Finns.

I don't have the breakdown for 2007, but the latest year for which I do have the breakdown, 2004, had 20333 people move in: 11511 foreigners and 8822 Finns. The rates might have changed, but hardly a lot.

Tilastokeskus has the breakdown by the country from where people move, for 2006 when 22451 person has moved to Finland. 11580 were from the other EU countries, 4229 from the rest of Europe (which included Turkey), 1272 from Africa, 1116 from North America, 377 from South America, 3460 from Asia. All these numbers include Finns returning from those countries.

From Väestörekisteri, for 31.12.06:

1. There are 5276955 people living in Finland
2. 121739 are foreigners, which makes them 2.3% of the population.
3. 158599 have a native language that is neither Finnish nor Swedish nor Saame, and probably are or used to be foreigners, which makes them 3% of the population. This statistic is probably strongly skewed by not taking into account Finnish- and Swedish-speaking immigrants.
4. 42420 foreigners are from EU, which makes them 34.8% of the foreigners.
5. 25314 foreigners are from Russia, which makes them 20.8% of the foreigners.
6. 16748 are from Somalia, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Bosnia, which
makes then 13.8% of the foreigners
7. 34896 speak Somali, Arabic, Kurdish, Albanian, Turkish and Persian as their native languages, which makes them 22% of people who are current or former foreigners, and a whole 0.66% of the population of Finland.

I am not saying all this to shut up the people who are concerned about minorities with high rates of crime and/or jihadist activity. It's better to be concerned now when they are few and far between, then in the distant future when burning cars becomes a regional sport in the sensitive neighborhoods and you need to take your belt off and go through a metal detector to get into a public library. Also, the fact that such a tiny group is responsible for such a high percentage of Turku's violent crime probably means that the problems are very severe indeed.

I am saying this because I am sick and tired of people freaking out every time they see any statistic that mentions immigration. It is quite right to be concerned about crime, terrorism, and political Islam - just remember that a random person in Tilastokeskus's statistic of people moving into Finland is a lot more likely to be a Lutheran than a Muslim.

(Sorry for mentioning the groups that I deem likely to be responsible for the surge of the violent crime in Turku. I don't have the statistics by country, but again, I would be very surprised if many of the culprits turned out to be Danish and Japanese, and I would immediately write about it here; occasionally shit does happen, and everyone remembers at least one Danish murderer in Finland. The reason I am sorry for mentioning the ones I mentioned is that it is quite possible that only members of some of these groups are responsible, and the whole crime surge has happened without, for example, a contribution of a single Iranian.)

Scary statistics from Turku

Turun Sanomat has published an article about the crime committed by foreign-born people in Turku. The statistics included foreign citizen resident in Turku, foreign-born Finnish citizens, and tourists.

It is no news that on average foreigners commit somewhat more crimes than Finns. Usually, however, the statistics are not as awful as in Turku last year.

About 6% of the residents of Turku are foreign-born. Foreign-born people, however, are the suspects in 34% of sex crimes, 21% of batteries and 37% of robberies and extortions.

As usual, they mention that because of a higher percentage of the young people among the foreign-born population, the somewhat higher level of crime is to be expected. However when they break it down by age, in the 15-20 age group the statistics are even worse: they commit almost 36% of sex crimes, 42% of robberies and extortions, 37% of batteries and almost half of the aggravated batteries in their age group.

The statistic would probably be even more amazing if broken up by the country of birth. Somehow I seriously doubt that those are Swedes and New Zealanders doing all that crime out there. Even though according to a earlier study Russians, Estonians and Swedes in Finland commit a little more crime than native Finns (whereas for example Brits and Germans commit less). Even though from listening to the immigration debates one can conclude otherwise, about 1/3 of the foreigners in Finland are EU citizens, and another 1/3 are the citizens of other civilized and semicivilized countries.

It would be interesting to know all about these people in the Turku crime statistics. Nationality, age, sex, religion, the year they moved to Finland, profession, marital status, educational attainment, who their parents are or were, how many will get convicted, how many of those will get sent back to where they came from, and how many of those who won't will commit more crime.

A bit of fashion bashing

I generally try to disregard fashion trends, because I don't feel any personal need to follow them either in a positive or a negative way. I have, however, liked most of the trends of the last 10 years or so and now I notice that I feel sorry to see them go.

One reason for that is that I occasionally want to buy clothes, and it's not nice if everything in the stores looks quite awful. This is just a thought that came to my mind when I went through post-Christmas sales. OK, the actual thought was more along the lines of "hyi saatana!".

The eighties were the time of everything awful. But, while sometimes you can see a person who looks good in the eighties' clothes (I saw one myself in a store last spring, I swear! She had those awful black leggings that a lot of people wear with a skirt nowadays, but she forgot the skirt home, and she had a huge tent of a sweatshirt and very high heels, and she still looked good), I am quite sure there is nobody in the whole universe that looks good in anything with am empire waist. People always look like their tits are either way too small, or way too big, and they are pregnant, too. Those who actually are pregnant look like they are having triplets.

The trends in hair and makeup will probably turn to the worse too if eighties come back, but so far the really horrible things were few and far between. The good thing about the hair and makeup trends is that one does not need to be concerned about them at all, if one of not interested. The bad thing, at least for me, is that they tend to annoy me aesthetically a lot more: if people are wearing clothes that don't please my eye, I find it very easy to imagine them naked; I find it a lot harder to imagine them with decent hair and well-washed faces.

The most awful fashion thing I've seen lately was, however, something that I couldn't blame the eighties for. Since the early nineties there have been young men, and occasionally women, who wore their pants in a way that bared the top of their asscrack for the whole world to see. Last week, however, I saw two young men whose pants hung so low that you could also see the bottom of their asscracks, and the the top of their legs. (They did have underwear though - thank god for small favors.) I stared at those abominations, trying to figure out how those pants managed to stay in that position in violation of all the laws of god and man and gravity. The answer was, of course, that they didn't, and the owners had to hold on to them and pull them up every few seconds. To my great disappointment the guys were holding on tight and the abominable pants did not fall off.

Hope this doesn't spread.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

"Nobody is coming here! Doom! Gloom!"

Nowadays we keep hearing how Finland is running out of workforce and how we need more foreign labor right now. Might be true, for all I know, even though I'd believe them better if they at least said what kind of labor force. The unemployment in the Helsinki area is quite low right now. Personally I think we can mostly let the Finnish employers and the foreign labor sort this out by themselves, with the immigration and labor authorities only making sure that the employers follow all the rules and the prospective employees are not a security risk. Hmm... That's pretty much what is being done now, and it seems to be working.

It is traditional in the Finnish debate on immigration that both sides seem to believe that nobody wants to come here to work: the people who want to increase immigration say "nobody wants to come here anyway, so let's do everything we can to be as inviting as possible" and the people who want to decrease immigration say "nobody who really wants to and can work would come here anyway, so there is no point in letting people in".

The statistics from the Aliens Office, however, say otherwise. 4657 foreigners have applied for their first work-based residence permits during the first 3 quarters of the last year, up 61% from the year before that, 4359 received a decision on their application, up 78% from the previous year, and 4033 got a positive decision, up 83% from the previous year. Also, this means that 92.5% of people whose applications were resolved got a residence permit.

These, BTW, are just the people from outside the EU coming to work in regular jobs. This number does not include EU or Nordic citizens, people coming to do jobs that do not need a work-based permit (such as athletes), and other immigrants who came for another reason but found a job (students, families of the people already in the country, refugees). For example it would have included me the last time I moved to Finland, but not my two foreign coworkers, both of whom are married to Finns and one of whom is a EU citizen.

From the point of view of people who think that Finland needs more foreign labor everything is in fact working quite well. There are foreigners willing to come here to work, more and more every year, there are employers willing to hire them, more and more every year, and the vast majority of them gets their papers without problems.

The immigration minister Astrid Thors, however, is not satisfied: the policies must be changed, we need more immigrants, the residence permit jungle must be simplified, and we must do something about the evil Finnish employers discriminating against foreigners.

Thors is the immigration minister, and I guess it's her job to look for problems in the immigration system. And probably sometimes she is right: one can improve the residence permit system, one can definitely develop a better information system for foreigners wanting to work here, and there surely are some employers who discriminate against foreigners. Thors, however, manages to give an impression that she would complain about too few immigrants and discriminating employers even if there were lots and lots of immigrants and every single one of them had a job.

She says, for example, that immigrants' unemployment numbers are much higher than the Finns'. This statement is in the same paragraph with the complaint about the ethnic discrimination in labor market, although I an not sure whether it was Thors herself or the writers of the article that put it there.

Let's see: if there are several thousand unemployed Russians and several hundred unemployed Turks in the country, while 1953 Russian workers and 210 Turkish workers have applied for residence permits during the first 9 months of the last year, is this because the employers totally hate the Russian and the Turks, or is it because the incoming workers might have some marketable skills that the unemployed don't? For example, the newcomers might write software, or cook, or drive buses, or do some research on reindeer, whereas the unemployed might be goat herders or teachers of Marxist philosophy? Not that I have anything against the goat herders as such - they are people like everyone else, and it's not their fault that it's hard for them to find a job here - but it's certainly not the fault of Finnish employers, either.

Funny, BTW: the people who clamor for more and more foreign labor tend to understand and say that many of the unemployed Finns do not happen to have the skills that the employers want right not. However, as soon as they start talking about the unemployed foreigners already in the country, the blame is immediately shifted to the employers who just don't want to hire foreigners.

She also said that Finland is not like the US, where they just tell people to come here and integrate. No shit. Finland is indeed very unlike the USA in immigration related-issues. For example the unemployment rates in the US are 4.7% for the native-born workers and 4.0% for the foreign-born, whereas in Finland the unemployment rate for foreigners is 24% and for Finns 8%. (The American statistics concern the foreign-born, whereas the Finnish one concerns only the actual foreigners, so the foreign-born unemployment rate in Finland would probably not be as bad as 24%, but you get the idea.) Maybe it's not such a bad idea to take a look at the USA to learn something about the integration of immigrants after all?

So, what does she want to tell the immigrants, as opposed to "come here and integrate"? "Come here, but don't integrate"? "Don't come and don't integrate"? "Integrate, but don't come"? "Come, but don't integrate all by yourselves until we tell you exactly how to integrate"?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hey, I was just kidding!

Dear Democrats!

When I was talking about voting for the wrong party in the primaries in order to bring up the most unworthy candidate, I was just kidding! You did not have to really go out and vote for Huckabee.

If you do that ever again, I am registering for the Democratic primary and voting for Kucinich! (For those who don't know: that's the guy who says he's seen a UFO and looks like he came out of a UFO.)

Global warming threatens Finnish polar bears

According to the National Geographic, global warming is now threatening Finnish polar bears.

Never mind that we don't have any polar bears. See? See? They all died out already from global warming!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


For the first time ever I am considering voting in the primaries. As a Republican.

Sometimes I wonder whether voting in the primaries for the "wrong" party in order to elect its most awful candidate would be a better strategy, and if so, why don't people usually do it. OTOH, if everybody did that, we would end up with two absolutely awful candidates.

Come to think of it, this would totally explain the last election.

Insurance for foreign students

Beginning this fall the foreign (non-EU) students had to have a medical insurance to get a residence permit. Which might be no problem for people who live in the countries where they sell appropriate insurance for such purposes, but is quite a serious problem for everyone else.

Finland is most definitely not one of the countries where they sell such an insurance (for incoming students in any case, but I am not sure about the outgoing ones), and therein lies the problem.

The law was not the idea of its writers, but an implementation of the EU directive 2004/114/EY, which demands that all the non-EU students have health insurance in order to get a residence permit. The writers of the law are well aware of its problems and are clearly trying to do something about it, but there doesn't seem to be much they can do.

I doubt there is much point in the whole thing, considering that students are on average young and healthy, and considering that the university students are usually covered by student union's insurance. When I was a foreign student, the students were covered by the state insurance, and it would be interesting to know how much the state insurance system actually spent per student.

But anyway, the issue here IMO is not whether the state or the students should pay. The issue is that the students cannot buy something that nobody is selling, and no Finnish insurance company is selling them insurance. The Ministry of the Interior asked several companies, and the answers ranged from "definitely maybe" to "no fucking way".

What I am wondering about is why doesn't the Finnish state sell them insurance. Just offer them the same Kela insurance that everyone else has, and charge them for that.

Sounds so simple that there must be some EU directive against this somewhere.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

The parties were fun, and everything was great, and the hangover wasn't too bad.