Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And in other news, special boots for soldiers who'd had footbinding done...

This better be a fucking April fools' joke, except that it's been published two days early.

The launched new "ethnic" firefighter uniforms in the UK. For once, the hijab is the least of the problems. Imagine a firefighter in a floor-length skirt...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Holy shit

For better or for worse, we (not only Finland, but the Western world in general), live in a society where the levels of freedom of speech are going down, and the desperate measures not to offend anyone are going up. I think that this is for the worse, but this is not the point of this post.

The point is that some motherfuckers are clearly more equal than others.

I don't even mean the religion of the perpetually offended in particular. Just the religion in general.

When a person starts believing in an invisible magical being, they are usually advised to cut down on alcohol and various illegal substances, and see a good psychiatrist. When sufficiently many people decide to believe in the same invisible magical being, they get to collect taxes, and teach about it in school, and we are supposed to pretend to respect them. Even if the being wants them to stone fellow citizens or do something similarly nice and respectable.

They get to publish pretty hardcore books, too. If somebody wrote the Old Testament or the Koran in the present-day Finland, they would have a pretty hard time publishing them, and would probably end up in court for agitating against somebody, or worse. I mean, even if we take only the anti-gay texts, it would be enough to convict the writers, and I am not even starting on the infidels.

Seriously. The stuff that those people are allowed to publish is filthy, downright unspeakable, and often contains direct incitement to murder. But since the unstable citizens who wrote it lived very long ago and had a very big following, it gets published.

One would think that organizations that inherently need to stretch the limits of the free speech that far would be very much for preserving the free speech and against all possible limitations on it. But no, the assholes (hmm, I should probably say "anuses") want respect! Respect enshrined in the law, no less, so that nobody would insult their armed-conflict-mongering holy books and their, ahem, age-of-consent-challenged prophets (police be upon them).

And since even they are not crazy enough to demand respect from each other, they want it from us, regular and mostly-secular people.

I should probably stop writing right here, because all I can think of is swear words, but I must say that sometimes I sort of wish the religious groups got what they are asking for, and had most of their literature and teachings banned for offending the other religions.

And the reason why the above was important

#2375. A father and a paternal grandfather can marry for their child who has not yet reached puberty, or was an insane when reaching puberty; and after that child reached puberty, or the insane became sane, he cannot cancel the marriage that was done for him if it did not involve a mischief against him and can cancel it if a mischief was involved.

#2410. If a person contracts for himself a girl who has not reached puberty and before she finishes her ninth year enters the girl he must never have intercourse with her in case he causes her path of urine and menses or that of menses and stool to become one.

#2459. It is recommended that one hurries in giving husband to a daughter who has attained puberty, meaning that she is of the age of religious accountability. His Holiness, Sadegh, salutations to him, bade that it is one of a man's good fortunes that his daughter does not see menses in his own house.

From A Clarification of Questions by Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, the 1st Supreme Leader of Iran, who married a 10-year-old girl at 27.

Offered without comment

From Sahih al-Bukhari, with no intention to insult or to connect the holy institutions of anything to anything:

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234:

Narrated Aisha:

The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became Allright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 236:

Narrated Hisham's father:
Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flu, tissues and foaming at the mouth

Been distracted from blogging and my social life by a lot of work and a nasty flu.

I hate flu in all its manifestations, and I have never even had a stomach flu. This one has been of the kind that starts at the throat, makes it really sore for a couple of days, then proceeds to the nose and makes it sore for a few days more, after which it usually disappears and leaves you with a sore nose because you have rubbed the skin really raw.

One thing I really miss here is the American tissues. I mean, I usually manage to rub my nose raw even with them, but they are not nearly as rough as the Finnish ones. On the other hand it makes them fragile and not very good for blowing your nose, so the only sensible strategy is to blow your nose into the Finnish tissues and then wipe it with the American ones.

I shared this observation with another American once. His eyes went round and he said "You worry about the tissues? Look at their toilet paper! Doesn't it make your ass sore?" It doesn't, and I played an old Russian macho card and told him about growing up wiping my ass with a newspaper called Sovetskaya Rossiya, which was marginally softer than Pravda but left brighter pictures of Lenin on its user's ass. I am sure he regretted ever raising the subject, and we never talked about it again, but now I started wondering: are there any real live people besides him whose asses are more sensitive than their nostrils, paper-wise?

Yesterday during a bout of coughing and sneezing green foam came out of my mouth and nose. At first I was somewhat surprised, then realized that I was drinking matcha latte (for those who doesn't know, it is very green). It is a very soothing drink, and I finally found the right recipe, and I would like to drink that at work, too, but I am not sure how the coworkers will relate to the green foam. Maybe I better wait till the flu is over.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Green yards my ass

When I was shopping for this apartment, I ran into a lot of advertisements for the apartments with windows onto some green and peaceful yard.

Leaving aside the issue of greenery and absence thereof in the yards of downtown and near-downtown Helsinki, I figured I don't need any of that, certainly not if it costs more than windows onto the street. I grew up with windows onto busy streets, and I am not bothered by the noise, or fond of greenery.

Well, I bought a place with windows onto the yard anyway, because I liked it and it was fairly cheap. The yard has never seen anything green, but that's OK.

It's the "quiet" part that sucks. The street noise is just street noise. In a yard completely encircled by apartment buildings all the sounds get amplified. Really amplified. You really get to know when your neighbors are repairing something, even if they live in the building across the yard.

And now the fuckers are repairing the whole facade. Early in the morning, every weekday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To Michael Halila, part 4

Michael's latest answer is here.

"Unfortunately this conversation is threatening to become disingenuous to the point of sophistry."

Disingineous? I think you are quite sincere, and I know I am.

" Unless, of course, you are intending to correct those factors. Are you?

Yes. That is the entire point of my objection. Did you miss it?"

I don't think "our integration policies don't work right and we should correct them so that refugees are integrated better" is the same point as "we can and will correct everything that makes them unemployed and/or criminal in disproportionate numbers".

For example: the integration system can be corrected in such a way that all or almost all people who had some proper (as in "usable in Finland") profession in Somalia would find jobs like everyone else. It would be much harder to change the integration system in such a way that people who came as illiterate adults would find jobs. Any efficient "correction" for that factor would in all probability mean keeping the illiterate out. I don't, however, think that this is what you meant.

"To sum up, there are problems with the integration of refugees into Finnish society. The way I see it, there are two possible approaches to resolving these problems:

1) stop or limit the immigration of refugees because they cause problems. Crudely speaking, blame the refugees and stop them from coming to Finland.

2) try to fix the political and socioeconomic causes of the problems. Crudely speaking, blame Finnish society and the state, and try to fix them.

I don't know when you missed that I've been constantly trying to argue for option 2, or if you're just trying to score rhetorical points."

I haven't missed that. I am just trying to point out that there are also combinations of the two options, just as first fix the problems and then raise the quota, which is what I have been arguing for.

My original point, however, was that a need for some kind of a quota is inherent in the whole process of refugee admissions, and that there is no point in pretending otherwise. If or when the problems really are fixed this quota can well be much higher than the current numbers.

"In my opinion, the problems associated with refugees are not a "refugee problem" as such but one manifestation of wider problems in Finnish society and politics."

In my opinion they are both. A refugee who really wants to integrate can do it quite well with the current system, and on the other hand a system that really pressures refugees to integrate can integrate even those who are not particularly interested. It's when refugees are not interested in integrating (or, in some cases, are not integrable) *and* the system in not really trying to integrate them that we get 60% unemployment rates.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

To Michael Halila, part 3

Michael's answer is here.

"What difference does it make? All the difference in the world. It's totally dishonest to compare the entire Iraqi or Somali population to the entire Finnish population, when the Iraqi and Somali populations in Finland are made up of a totally different mix of social classes, ages and income classes than the Finnish population. I don't mean to be rude, but if you don't understand that, then I'm going to have a hard time believing you're qualified to be commenting in any way on statistics either."

It would make a difference if I were writing a sociological essay on the criminal proclivities of the populations of Finland, Somalia and Iraq.

The subject under discussion, however, is the cost that the Finnish society pays for accepting refugees, and the feasibility of accepting them in large numbers. For the purpose of this discussion it makes no difference whatsoever whether they do it because they have a lot of young men, because they are of a lower socioeconomic class, or because of any other factor.

Unless, of course, you are intending to correct those factors. Are you?

"In one sense, I'm presenting my argument badly, and I apologize for that. I want to point out a matter of principle here, and jumping from facts and statistics to principle like this is bad form."

The whole point of my original post that you were responding to is that refugee admissions should not be treated as a matter of principle.

"Nevertheless, the problem with arguing for accepting less refugees because previous refugees have committed crimes is, to me, totally unethical as it constitutes punishing future refugees for the crimes of other people."

The problem with this idea is the assumption that the future refugees are entitled to the exact same treatment as the current ones. They are not, and you know it. (At least, that's what I deduce from your earlier remark, saying that if there will be a lot of applicants the authorities will just tighten the criteria. Is it fair to punish refugees for the simple fact that there are too many other refugees?)

The way I see it, refugee admission is a charitable practice that is, by its very nature, a lottery with a limited budget: Finland has N euros in its budget to spend on refugees, and for that money it can help M refugees, out of a much larger pool. The money can stretch, but not too much. In effect, Finland is already punishing new potential refugees for the fact that the old ones don't find jobs fast enough. (If much less money were spent per refugee, it would be possible to admit a lot more.)

Social peace is a resource as much as money is. So is the population's goodwill.

There is of course a way to reduce refugee crime without punishing anyone except the guilty, but you have already said that you find it monstrous.

"If the problem is Finnish policies, not refugees, why on earth are you agitating against refugees, instead of for political change in Finland?"

"Agitating against refugees"?

The explicit and implicit suggestions of my original post were:

- admit that we can only take a limited number per year, and institute a quota,
- try to favor the refugees who are more likely to fit in,
- avoid admitting people who are likely to be trouble, such as people persecuted for Islamic extremism, or sentenced to death for real crimes,
- deport serious violent criminals regardless of the conditions in the home country,
- encourage integration by limiting social security.

Which of the above are "agitating against refugees", and opposed to "trying to change social policy"?

Friday, March 13, 2009

To Michael Halila, part two

Michael's answer to part 1 is here.

"First of all, I mistakenly assumed the number the Finnish immigration office gives on their page for admitted refugees is, in fact, the total number of refugees admitted to Finland. Apparently it isn't, so my bad."

Yes, they are a bit difficult to interpret. They keep separate statistics for quota refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants. Of the asylum seekers who are allowed to stay, some get the refugee status, some "international protection", some "humanitarian reasons" and some "family". The "humanitarian reasons" are also in the regular immigrant statistics under "other reasons".

"As you can see, 2007 was a record low in applications in the 2000's, while the 4035 applications of last year are only 200 more than in 2004. Looking at the numbers, there is so far no clear rising trend. So your potential future situation is a possible future situation."

This is a good point, and 2007 indeed was a record low, but now we are over the record high. It could be just a peak year after which the applications will go down, but the Director-General of the Finnish Immigration Service thinks otherwise.

"Also, how is slightly less than 2000 refugee admissions in a year "a lot for a country like Finland"? That's, what, 0.0004 percent of our population of five million?"


"Each year there are some 60 000 Finnish people born; admitting 2 000 refugees in addition to them doesn't exactly unbalance our population structure dramatically."

It makes them about 3.3% of the new population growth, not counting their children who are born here. With time, it makes for a sizeable minority. Which, again, would not be a problem, except that its two biggest groups, Iraqis and Somalis, are grossy overrepresented in violent crime and unemployment statistics.

"To me it's totally monstrous to suggest that if a person makes one mistake, they're deported from Finland forever."

Depends on the size of the mistake, but how many mistakes of what size do you think would be enough?

"It's the height of naïvete to assume, like you do, that a population can be divided into criminals and non-criminals, and we should expel all the criminals. "

A population can be divided into criminals and non-criminals, that's what criminal law and courts are for, and of course the division is not perfect. And I have said twice, quite explicitly, that I don't want to expel all the criminals, or even all the foreign criminals.

"If a policy like that had a positive effect on crime rates, there would be no crime in Britain because they expelled everyone who committe a "single serious violent crime" to Australia."

I think they have stopped that a while ago. 1868, AFAIK. New generations of criminals have been born since - and imported, too.

Where do you get "there is still crime"="a particular policy has no positive effect"? There is still crime everywhere - do you think no anti-crime policy has any positive effect?

"However, I feel the constitutional issue is more important, and you're actually quoting the wrong part of the Constitution:

6 §

Ihmiset ovat yhdenvertaisia lain edessä."

I am actually quoting from the same paragraph as you, right after what you quoted.

"And yes, it doesn't say "citizens". Human rights in general apply to humans, not just humans who are citizens of your particular polity. There are very good reasons for this."

There certainly are, but staying in a country that you are not a citizen of is not a human right as such.

"This is a disingenuous argument, for a simple reason. The juridical difference between a refugee and a foreign national is very simple. Most foreign nationals can be deported to their country of citizenship, but refugees are considered to be fleeing from persecution by that country, which is why deporting them is an entirely different matter from deporting, say, a British national."

So British nationals are less equal after all? :)

"Equality before the law doesn't mean everyone who lives in the country has to be allowed to vote or to be paid Social Security, it means they have to be treated the same before a court. "

Including a court deciding on immigration or voting or social security issues?

"And if a Finnish citizen is sentenced to four months for robbery, but a Somali refugee is sentenced to four months plus deportation to a war zone for the same robbery, then they're rather obviously not being treated equally before the law."

If you choose to define equality before the law as equality before criminal law, I find it a bit strange, but in this case we have no problem. Deportation is a proceeding defined in immigration law.

" He uses rape as his example, but the same basic logic applies to all violent crime statistics. When we adjust for overrepresentation in the age groups that commit the most crime, the per capita violent crime committed by refugees is not markedly larger than that of the general population."

Let's see. In 2007 Somalis and Iraqis, put together, constituted 0.14% of Finnish population. ((4852+3036)*100/5300484). Among the men aged 15 to 29 Somalis and Iraqis constituted 0.316%. This means that among 15-29-year-old men they were overrepresented by a factor of 2.1.

Among the suspects in cases of various forms of manslaughter, various forms of rape, aggravated battery and robbery Iraqis and Somalis were overrepresented by a factor of 14.8 and 20, respectively. The previous year they were overrepresented by a factor of 20.7 and 14.

I would count that as "markedly large".

All those numbers are available on Tilastokeskus page. Here are my calculations for crime rates, you can recheck them just to be sure.

As for the socioeconomic factors - you are right, they do affect it. What difference does it make, though? Crime is still crime, we obviously don't know how to fix the socioeconomic factors, either, and "let's import some more unemployed and unemployable young men" does not sound like a good idea.

"But despite what Halla-aho and his like are peddling, Finland is a long way from having ethnic ghettos like those of Paris."

We certainly are, and it would be nice to remain that way.

"What we need to learn from the situation in other European countries is how to stop it from happening here. In my opinion this means a stronger policy of integrating refugees and other immigrants into society, not demonizing them as criminals and trying to erect barriers of entry to stop them from coming here."

How about learning and instituting the relevant policies first, and taking more refugees later?

"In short, the reason refugees aren't finding jobs fast enough is, in my opinion, social democracy, not the refugees themselves. And as for violent crime, as I said, taking all factors into account refugees commit violent crime at approximately the same frequency as the Finnish population."

About the violent crime you are wrong. About the social security policy you are most likely right, and as soon as the social security policy changes we can try admitting more refugees than now.

I am quite a fan of the American refugee policies, too, and have written about it a few times before. They did manage to integrate their refugees, and there is no massive unemployment among the refugee population. Or, as far as I know, a massive crime rate (it is less documented than unemployment). The Office of Refugee resettlement report to the Congress is most educational (the latest one is here).

First or all, they do have a quota, which for 2006 was 70000. (The actual arrivals were 57979.) The quota is divided by regions. The largest group was from Cuba (19787). There were 10453 from Somalia.

Second, they do deport refugees or crimes, at least to the extent that this is physically possible. Even for the crimes that I would consider too minor for a deportation.

Third, their social security really doesn't last forever. Most refugees are expected to be self-supporting 4 months after arrival, and most are. If they aren't, they have some more time on state assistance, and after that they run out of money, unless they are elderly or handicapped.

I promise, as soon as Finland changes its policies in such a way that half of working-age refugees are self-supporting after 4 months of being here, I'll say "hurrah, let's get more refugees!" right here in this blog. In fact, if you can find any statistics of any refugee group doing so now, I can say "hurrah, let's get more of those!" now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

To Michael Halila

Responding here to Michael's comment to my previous post:

"We're not "admitting everyone". Finland admits less than 1,000 refugees a year, including in 2008 when the number of applications mushroomed."

In 2008 Finland has admitted 702 quota refugees, 89 asylum seekers who got a refugee status, 484 people on international protection status, 149 people for humanitarian reasons, and 38 asylum seekers on temporary residence permits, which will no doubt become continuous in 2 years. In addition to that 563 Somalis were admitted as family members. Of these at least 450 must have been family members of another refugee and therefore entitled to the same benefits. That's 1874 persons right here, and this number does not include the people with temporary residence permits and the family members of refugees other than Somalis.

It may not seem like a lot, but it's a lot for a country Finland's size. My "admitting everyone" in any case referred to a potential future situation where the number of applicants has risen sharply. Which is not all that potential anymore, now that their number has in fact risen sharply.

As for including the 2008 when the number of admissions mushroomed: we haven't seen it yet. The average time in which a normal (not Dublin, etc.) application is reviewed was 176 days in 2008 and 204 days in January 2009. The latests decision statistics are for January, and the mushrooming started in May last year. Just for comparison: in January 498 applications were filed, but only 178 decisions of any kind were made.

"And the idea of deporting everyone who is found guilty of a single crime is, to me, simply monstrous."

I did not say "for a single crime", but "for a single serious violent crime". I was not suggesting that we deport people for shoplifting, chewing khat or even having a minor fight or cheating sossu out of a bit of money. Shit happens. When shit start happening to the extent of aggravated robbery with assault and battery, it's time to shovel it out. To me it's monstrous to let them stay.

"The Finnish constitution says people (not citizens, people) are equal before the law. You want to change that to make "foreigners" less equal? I don't like the sound of that."

Let's see:

"Ketään ei saa ilman hyväksyttävää perustetta asettaa eri asemaan sukupuolen, iän, alkuperän, kielen, uskonnon, vakaumuksen, mielipiteen, terveydentilan, vammaisuuden tai muun henkilöön liittyvän syyn perusteella." (No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.)

Weird, I don't see "citizenship" there. I do see "acceptable reason" instead.

Foreigners are less equal. They can't vote, and they usually need residence permits to stay in Finland. Foreigners can be deported for a single crime, and sometimes are. A person who has come here to work is denied a residence permit renewal if he or she loses the job just before the renewal and doesn't immediately find a new one. People who come here to work don't get the same social security as Finns until they get a permanent residence permit, and if their contract is short enough, they don't get any social security at all. I am not even talking about the status of students.

Refugees, on the other hand, are holy cows who are sometimes impossible to deport even after a series of convictions for aggravated assaults, batteries and robberies.

"Finland is admitting less than one thousand asylum seekers per year, and this number is not going to change dramatically despite the fearmongering going on."

Would you like to define "dramatically", and the timescale?

"But the idea that "something's gotta give" is just exaggerating the nature of the problem so much that it's hard to understand where you're coming from. I don't understand this Finnish "refugee hysteria" at all."

That's simple. First of all, people have noticed that the refugees are very much overrepresented in violent crime statistics and underrepresented in the employment statistics. Second, we have the unfortunate example of other European countries in front of our eyes. And third, the number of applicants is up.

I really wouldn't worry about refugees if they found jobs fast and committed crimes with approximately the same frequency as Finns. This is, unfortunately, not the case.

Refugees: something's gotta give

I have a really strong feeling that I am just repeating what I've said before, but here goes:

The current refugee admission system in Europe is not working and cannot work much longer without a lot of trouble. The trouble has already started. Finland is behind most of the Western Europe, as far as the trouble goes, but is catching up fast.

Large-scale population movements have happened before. Some countries have managed to assimilate huge amounts of refugees and immigrants, quite often to the mutual benefit. It's just that in the early 21-century Europe that is not happening, and is not about to magically happen.

The reasons for this are many:

1. First of all, the increasing diversity. (I have written about it before, here.) All the successful refugee movements that I can think of have essentially served to decrease diversity in some way or another. I am not talking about racial or linguistic diversity, but the diversity of way of life. It is quite logical: people are persecuted for being different and move somewhere where they fit in better. Problem is, now there are a lot of people coming to Europe who don't in fact fit in better. Or if this is their "better", I shudder to think what "worse" looks like.

2. Second, the system doesn't select well enough. I am not even talking about the selection of cultures and countries - even the selection of individuals doesn't work properly.

3. Third, the current system gives very little opportunity to roll back the transaction if a wrong person is let through.

4. Fourth, eternal social security serves to attract the wrong kind of people. There are enough persecuted people in the world as it is. Obviously, the people who want to improve their standard of living by moving to a Western country and working there also want to try their luck. The social security that keeps coming forever means that everyone who moves to Europe from poor countries is garanteed a higher standard of living. And that's a hell of a lot of people.

5. Fifth, the multiculturalism, in the sense of unwillingness to admit that the refugees are coming from a worse country to a better one. Also failure to enforce the majority rules in situations where this enforcement really matters.

I really believe that admitting refugees is a good thing if the admitting country is not overstretching its resources and the people who arrive are not total schmucks. Problem is, with lavish social security for new arrivals the countries are overstretching their resources even with a small number of refugees, and schmucks are, well, disproportionally represented.

Refugee admission is a really strange game. First of all, there are refugees and potential refugees in need of resettlement. Second, there are places for them in the countries that are willing to admit them. Everyone with more than two brain cells can figure out that the former are a lot more numerous than the latter and that the whole admission thing is by its very nature a lottery and cannot be anything else.

Wouldn't the simplest thing be to admit that fact and act accordingly? Say "we can take N refugees this year" and do it, and say "sorry" to the rest of them?

This is, in fact, what is done with quota refugees. But there are also asylum seekers - the people who first come to Finland and then apply for the refugee status. Their numbers are not limited in any way, and they are given a residence permit, either as a refugee or as a person in need of protection if they are in fact deemed to be in need of protection.

This means that their number is only limited by the officials' hope that not too many will decide to come and apply. This is all very nice, but what if quite a lot of them arrive? And to all the people saying "why would anyone want to come to this cold, dark and unfriendly country?" I can only say that if only a few will come, then the quota should not be a problem, right?

I also think that Europe should rethink what are the appropriate grounds for refugee admission. Not to reduce the number of potential applicants, but because some of them mean trouble, pure and simple. Helping persecuted people is a good thing, but some people are persecuted for a very good reason. It's very nice to help somebody who is persecuted for homosexuality in Iran, for pro-democracy activism in China, for being an albino in Tansania, etc. If a person is being persecuted for Islamic extremism in Saudi Arabia, let's leave him/her right there to be persecuted.

Same with the death penalty: it's good we don't have it, but if we define it as a human right violation that makes a person condemned to it undeportable, we'll end up with a bunch of refugees who are condemned to death somewhere. And guess what: not all of them are condemned for a homosexual act or failing to praise the fearless leader loudly enough.

Now for the ones already here: is it too much to ask that they behave themselves like human beings? Considering that they are in fact human beings and most of them manage to act like that, too. For starters, how about kicking out the ones who engage in serious violent crime? After the first time, not the tenth? Even if the country of origin is not safe for the poor dear?

The whole thing is based on a lot of pretense: we pretend that we can admit everyone who needs a new home, then we pretend that the people we didn't admit didn't really need it, and then we pretend that the people whom we did admit need it so much that they cannot be sent back under any circumstances. It's time to say "we can take N refugees per year, and no criminals, please". Shouldn't be so damn hard.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I have a new job now. It is kind of fun, but there is quite a lot of it. And I haven't worked in such a big office for a long time. And there are a lot of cute young guys running around. And I got a cool phone.

I also have a video cataloging project, which was done until I bought some more DVDs today, a fiction writing project that is close to being done, and an apartment cleaning project that is very, very far from being done, but has at least started.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Open your mind...

On 2.3.2009 HS has published an opinion by Jeremy Gould, an associate professor of development studies on the University of Helsinki, about how Finns have to change and open themselves to the difference.

The article is not available online, but the main points are as follows:

1. The immigration to Finland will grow in the near future, and it won't be possible to stop it. (Because of, you know, international agreements. He doesn't say which agreements. Different EU countries have very different immigration and integration policies. Now who is screaming "but with the same results" from the back row? Shame on you!)

2. Finnish people are by their nature deeply suspicious of strangers, but of course there are many different Finns and the whole idea of a monolithic Finnsh culture is an illusion.

3. It is not realistic to imagine that a) immigration would stop, b) we could send all the suspicious immigrants somewhere and c) the immigrants will magically integrate and become like Finns.

Damn, and here I thought we were doing so well with The Great Five-Year Integration Plan...

Of course, none of these statements can be really discussed, because a) total stopping of all immigration is not under discussion in anti-immigration circles, except maybe the tinfoil hat brigade, b) depends on how suspisious they are, we just sent two guys back to Somalia on a suspision that they might commit their 22d (or whatever was the count) violent crime, and c) depends on who is trying to integrate and what counts as integration.

Gould himself seems to have integrated perfectly well: he is a fine upstanding working citizen, writes good Finnish, and makes about as much sense as some Finnish social studies professors I could mention. He doesn't seem to believe that some people and groups are capable of the same, and I must say we do have quite a bit of empirical evidence that supports him.

But anyway, his conclusion: Finns must change, let go of their suspicions, open themselves to the differences and let new and pluralistics Finnishness grow and develop. Or else somebody will punch them in the nose. (OK, he puts it as "the probability of violent conflicts will grow".)

What is the man smoking? If it's not a banned substance, it damn well should be.

Now, I am not much of a strategic thinker, violent-conflict-wise. More along the lines of "hit them over the head with the backpack, kick them in the nuts and scream for the police". But what would Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz say on the subject of expecting a violent conflict and in the meanwhile letting more of the other party in? And would it even be printable?

And is the threat of violent conflict the best way of getting people to let go of their suspicions? I, for one, am generally rather suspicious of people with whom I have or expect to have a violent conflict. Most folks are, I think. Probably because those who weren't didn't live long enough to become anyone's ancestors.

And could anyone tell me what are those differences that I am supposed to open my mind to? Different skin colors? Different food? Different languages spoken in the streets? Different prayers, e.g. "O Allah, destroy the Jews..."? Different views of witchcraft, as in "witches are real and they make people's dicks disappear and let's kill them"? Honor killings? Neighborhoods that the police is afraid to visit? Burning suburbs? Bombs on the subway?

Yeah, I know, sort of concentrating on the negative by the end of the previous passage. That's because I got a feeling that when people are saying "open your mind to the differences or else" they are not meaning that I should open my mind to foreign food, foreign languages, a British coworker, an Estonian food store, a Russian book store or even an American associate professor.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The little bits are crawling ahead

This morning I realized that I need new contacts. Not because I need a new prescription or anything, but because I am on my last pair.

Logged in to the store's webpage, and realized that I have two prescriptions, and last time my vision changed, they changed only one of them and forgot the other.

(The two prescriptions are, in principle, the same prescription for two different brands of contacts. I have no idea why I need two, and who decides that I can only buy these two, and not the others. The two are of the same type, and when I come there for a new prescription, they don't test both of them.)

I needed to buy the contact fluid anyway, so I came by the store, bought it, and also told the woman there to update my other prescription. She put the new values in the computer, and told me that it will take a week to get updated.

This is so mysterious. Why does it take a week? Why, for that matter, did the address change in one frequent flyer program take 6 weeks? Are the bits crawling so slowly in their network?