Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Comparative religion with mom

"Do you know what Epiphany is all about?"
"No idea. Not sure if all the Christians know it either."
"They must know, it's their holiday."
"Well - do you know what Tisha B'Av is all about?"
"Huh? Tissue what?"

In other religious news, my relatives visited Nazareth on Christmas, and their photos show what appears to be Santa Clauses on motorcycles camouflaged as sheep. Either it's a local tradition, or the locals' attempt at reindeer costumes for motorcycles went horribly wrong.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Can anyone explain? Please? (The suicide bombing in Pakistan)

I understand when crazy Islamic terrorists bomb a shopping street in Stockholm. "Understand" here certainly doesn't mean "approve", but hey, that's why we call them crazy Islamic terrorists, and Swedes are mostly infidels anyway. I understand when Sunnis bomb Shia mosques, and Shia bomb Sunni mosques, they are sort of almost like infidels for each other. I understand why they bomb police in Iraq, because police tends to cramp terrorists' style. I understand why the followers of Absolutely Crazy Mujahideen Movement burn the mosque of the Totally Insane Mujahideen Movement, because they are competitors. I understand why the Taliban burn girls' schools, because hey, girls' schools!

What I don't understand is why that bitch, or anyone else, would blow up a line of people trying to get some food. There isn't some crazy sect somewhere that is against food, is there?

Tried to google for it, but did not find a satisfactory explanation.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Unchristmacy thoughts

Yesterday two bombs exploded in Rome's Swiss and Chilean embassies, injuring two people. One of them is in danger of losing a hand or both.

The people who claim to have done it were FAI, Federazione Anarchica Informale, an anarchist organization (not to be confused with FAI, Federazione Anarchica Italiana, or with Judean People's Front or People's Front of Judea). They say that they did it to make their voice heard.

Yes, and? They have made their voice heard but they are not actually saying anything. At least the Islamic terrorists usually have some message, along the lines of "you are killing our wives and children in Afghanistan and Iraq and occupying our land in Palestine and now I am gonna kill your wives and children! OK, so I am a British-Jamaican convert to Islam and my wife and children are actually alive and well and live in Yorkshire, but let's not get into details. Please give generously to my poor widow and the children I didn't bother to raise". The anarchist terrorists' message seems to be "I am a moron, hear me roar!".

Wouldn't it be easier and safer to just boost your homepage's ratings on Google? I went to look for a FAI homepage, and couldn't find it even when searching for it.

Seriously, these people are trying to make their voice heard, have maimed real living people to do it, and didn't even bother creating a homepage? They can't have absolutely nothing to say, can they? They have a fucking facebook group (F.A.I. (Federazione Anarchica Informale)), with a whole 31 members, with open content, and they haven't said anything since May. Not even "down with the old order!" or "we are sociopathic morons in need of excitement".

Dear terrorists, if you really need to be terrorists, at least do it in the right order:

1. Make a web page with your message.
2. Try to make your voice heard by taking a volunteer among yourselves, raping him/her to death with a morningstar and filming it. Put the video on all the video sites you can find. Instant worldwide fame guaranteed.
3. Set your testicles on fire (if you don't have testicles use some other part of your person),
4. Spend the rest of your life in a cell with Ramzi Yousef.

The Great Infidel Holiday is upon us again

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sex with sleeping people

The Assange scandal has generated a lot of talk about explicit and implied consent, and sex with sleeping people. I understand that these issues are complicated, but am I really the only one to whom the idea of trying to have sex with a sleeping person is extremely strange even when one does have standing consent?

I was raised with the idea that sleeping people want to sleep, unless they have explicitly asked to wake them up at a specific hour. Also, that we do not wake up sleeping people unless they have asked for it or unless there really is an emergency. Being horny does not constitute an emergency.

Seriously - it had never occurred to me that trying to have sex with a sleeping person - even one who has told me that that he would like to have sex with me in the morning - could result in anything else besides being lectured on bad manners and expelled out of the bed.

The weekend

It's cold again, and snowing. 65 cm of snow on the ground in Helsinki. Trains, buses, trams, drivers and pedestrians are all still collectively surprised.

Yesterday a meter of snow suddenly plopped in front of my window. I figured the end of world was coming, but then realized that some elves were cleaning snow from our roof and decided that the lower roof in front of my window was a proper place to deposit a mountain of it. I said goodbye to daylight until the spring and went to a party.

When I came back the snow was gone. They threw it from my roof to the ground. They also managed not to break my windows in the process. Yay for ripping a new asshole to the building caretaking company last year.

This morning the snow was there again, with more coming. The elves came again. The entrance to my building is closed with string barriers, the sidewalk is one big snow mountain (ok, actually two) but I got out and back somehow, and am fully intending to try to get to work tomorrow.

The UN is having an emergency meeting on Koreas, where they are deciding whether to express deep concern or grave concern.

Lukashenka won again in Belarus, since everybody knows that the most important qualification to become a president of Belarus is the experience in that job. (The constitution that was in effect when Lukashenka took office allowed two presidential terms, for a total of 10 years. He has been in office now for 16 years, changed the constitution and is starting his fourth term now.) There is a bit of a riot there now, and there is a little chance that Lukashenka with suffer the fate of Ceausescu. I wonder if they can do Kim Jong Il while they are at it, and whether it is illegal for me to say so.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The cassette (CD, DVD, etc.) tax

Since the people who want to collect the media tax on everything rely on polls to decide what people are using their disk space for, why don't they also rely on polls to decide who they should give the money to? Just let the people say whose music/books/movies/shows they have on their CDs, DVDs or USB drives and how much disk space it takes and distribute the money among the authors accordingly? Regardless of whether the author is a writer, a singer, Finnish, foreign or a member of any of the copyright organization. I don't think people have a lot of incentive to lie.

Is your underwear the right color today?

The UBS Bank of Switzerland has issued a 43-page dress code to its employees (here in French), complete with instructions on the color of underwear, using makeup on one's neck, the requirement to wear a black belt (not a karate one, I think), the description of the glasses one is allowed to wear, how one's roots should be impeccable (hair roots, not genealogical), the demand that the pantyhose should be always worn with a skirt, that it should be transparent (the pantyhose, not the skirt) and that wearers of pantyhose always have another pair with them, in case it runs, the advice on trimming one's toenails, on taking off one's glasses when you talk to a customer (so you can't see them?) and some other goodies. Some of it is advice, some of it is requirements, and they require, above all, that your look should make you comfortable and bring forward your personality.

Oh dear. The only way my personality would come forward in all that attire, I am afraid, would be by catching the authors, giving them a good kicking with the regulation heels, strangling them almost to death with a regulation scarf, and then reviving and strangling them again with the other regulation scarf (yes, they have two).

Seriously: my first reaction on reading the news, even before reading the actual document, was "if my bank issued a regulation like that, by the evening I'd open an account in another bank".

Besides, considering their recent history, shouldn't they rather be issuing instructions on the topic of facilitation of tax evasion without getting caught?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A few random Wikileaks thoughts

1. Are any condom manufacturers using this case for advertisement?

2. How difficult would it be for Assange or anyone else involved to add something to the cables? There are 251,287 cables; how easy it would be for anyone to find out if, for example, 251 272 are real and 15 are fake? Is this in fact a good opportunity for someone to manufacture something?

3. Aren't the people involved in the Assange witchhunt embarrassed? It does look really embarrassing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The news of the weekend: islamophobia in Sweden

The first news item on HS's front page says "Huoli islaminvastaisuudesta kasvaa Ruotsissa" ("Concern over islamophobia is rising in Sweden").

Oh, really? I thought Sweden's biggest news of the weekend was the suicide bombing in Stockholm. Silly me.

When the, ahem, unfortunate incident happened I tried to be a good and unprejudiced citizen and for a moment imagine that it was the Aggressive Amish, the Militant Methodists, the Evil Jews or the Bad, Bad Buddhists. Or maybe a lone Person of Different Sanity (they do indeed happen ever one in a while, though nowadays they tend to convert to one particular religion first).

My poor little prejudiced mind didn't turn out to be all that imaginative, and pretty soon reverted to connecting the unfortunate incident with Islam. I am not sure what gave me that idea: whether it was my evil nature, reading too much Hommaforum, or the letter that the perpetrator sent to Sweden's Security Police and a news agency, blaming the troops in Afghanistan and the Muhammed cartoons and calling on Europe's Mujahedin to rise. One of those things, I am sure.

Not that HS is wrong: the bombing will increase islamophobia in Sweden and probably here as well. People do tend to be a bit phobic about whatever and whoever tries to kill them, I suppose it's just human nature or something.

I do understand many Swedish Muslims' concern about being associated with that fucker, I do appreciate them having a demonstration against terrorism (a very small demonstration but in this weather you can't really blame them), and I don't think that imams speaking out against terrorism is a pointless gesture (they are not going to convince the radicals, but they might convince some of their less-radical support base), I just think that having it as the top news item is a bit weird.

About the suspect himself: he studied in UK, and I suppose it's a matter of time when some connection with Omar Bakri, Abu Hamza, Abu Izzadeen, Anjem Choudary or somebody else from that gang will come up.


The hell froze over. It's so cold that even Al Gore admitted that subsidies for making ethanol from corn were not a very bright idea. So much snow that the Russian expression "up to your dick" (meaning "an awful lot") had an accurate literal meaning for a while, and now lost it again, because, as one Russian friend put it while sadly observing a five-meter heap of snow, "nobody's dick rises that high".

Good thing we have global warming, imagine how cold it would be without it.

(And yes, in case someone asks, I do remember how hot it was in summer.)

Monday, December 06, 2010

A modest proposal

This has been inspired by the WikiLeaks scandal and the politician comments on it:

It has never seemed unfair to me that the prospective new citizens in some countries - for example the US - have to take tests in order to get the citizenship, whereas a lot of native-born citizens could not pass the same test. For the native-born the citizenship is a birthright, whereas the people who want to acquire the rights of citizenship can be asked to prove that they know at least something about the new country. Fair enough.

But could we please, please start administering the same test to our elected representatives? In the House, the Senate and the White House? Being a House Representative, a Senator or a President is not a birthright in the same way as citizenship is; there are residency requirements, age requirements, etc. So couldn't we demand that every motherfucker who is sworn into office and solemnly swears to defend the Constitution of the United States proves that he or she has actually read the damn thing? Is that too fucking much to ask?

Well, of course it is. It would require a new amendment to the Constitution. No way two thirds of both houses and three fourths of state legislatures are gonna ratify any amendment that would require our elected officials to be able to read.

Bäckmanin uusin

Tämän päivän hesarijuttu Bäckmanista sai mut ajattelemaan että suurin osa suomalaisista ei tunne Bäckmanin tuotantoa, mikä on väärin, koska kansan pitäisi tuntea sankareitaan.

Viimeisin juttu joka levisi Venäjän lehdistossa oli juttu velkovenäläisestä naisesta jonka lapsen ilkeät suomalaiset sosiaaliviranomaiset vei. Tässä se on venäjäksi.

Lyhyt yhteenveto asianomaisen versiosta:

- Svetlana-äiti ja Tanja-tytär tulivat pakolaisina Valkovenäjältä (joten en edes tajua miten Venäjä liittyy asiaan) ja saivat kämpän Vaasasta. Tytär (nyt 8-vuotias) meni kouluun ja äiti töihin.
- Huhtikuussa tyttärellä alkoi esiintyä mielialavaihteluita ja paikalliset alan ammattilaiset suosittelivat että se kävisi Venäjällä venäläisellä psykologilla,
- Maahanmuuttovirasto ei päästänyt tyttöä ulos kun täälläkin on psykologeja, ja suositteli että lapsi jätettäisin sosiaaliviranomaisille kahdeksi viikoksi kun äiti käy Venäjällä,
- Pietarissa käydessään äiti menetti asunnon Vaasassa, ja joutui olemaan siellä puoli vuotta lisää kunnes sai säästettyä rahaa vuokrakämppään Helsingissä,
- Kun Svetlana palasi Helsinkiin osoittautui että lapsi otettiin huostaan sillä perusteella että äiti oli kadoksissa. Ja vieläpä Vaasassa eikä Helsingissä minne äiti muutti!
- Äiti nyt asuu Helsingissä kaksiossa jossa on sauna ja parveke, ja naapurissa venäjänkielisiä lapsia.
- Tytär sen sijaan asuu Vaasassa orpokodissa jossa samassa huoneessa on kaksi afrikkalasita tyttöä, eikä ole koulua,
- Äiti saa soittaa tyttärelle ja käydä kylässä, mutta vain tulkin läsnäolleessa, eikä saa puhua mistään surullisesta,
- Bäckmanin mielestä kyse on siitä että venäläisistä lapsista yritetään tehdä suomalaisia.

Onneksi tällä kerralla jutun kirjoittajat taisivat aliarvoida venäläisiä lukijoita: kommenttien yleisin sävy oli että sosiaaliviranomaiset olivat oikeassa kun kerran äiti katosi ulkomaille puoleksi vuodeksi.

Happy Independence Day, Finland!

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

Friday, December 03, 2010

Nokia C3

Wow, Nokia has finally produced a phone that is exactly what I would buy if I were buying a new phone at full price with my own money. Too bad I don't need one right now.

What I've always wanted from a phone was GSM connectivity both in Europe and the US, WLAN, and a qwerty keyboard (either physical or touch-screen). C3 has it all. I would have liked 3G, too but I can live without it.

When somebody else is paying (my employer, for example), sure, I also like a nice browser and a high-quality touch screen (am getting one real soon now, too). GPS, too. Camera and music player? Not so much, I already have those and I can't see why I'd need them in the same device.

Are any of the cell phone cameras really any good? The fanciest one I have is 3 megapixels (Nokia E71) and it's considerably worse than my first 1M digital camera.

I've always wondered how come those stupid phone cameras are advertised everywhere, and WLAN has been a premium feature until now.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Please, Darwin, where are you

He was born in Syria. By the age of 19 he was wanted there for Islamic extremism, moved to Lebanon, then to Egypt, and then to Saudi Arabia, where by some amazing coincidence he was also persecuted for Islamic extremism.

After having been arrested by Saudi police twice, he figured Saudi Arabia was insufficiently friendly to radical Islam, and moved to the UK.

As an aside: who let the fucker in? We are not talking about an honest worker from a Muslim country whose children became radicalized to his and his new country's dismay; we are talking about a grown man whose whole career so far had been in the field of Islamic extremism. Yeah, he was persecuted. So. The current refugee system was built in response the Nazi atrocities during WWII and the Communist atrocities right afterwards. Should we have admitted the people who were persecuted by Hitler for being too much of a Nazi? OTOH, maybe I don't wanna hear the answer to this.

Anyway, the man lived in the UK for 19 years, preaching killing Brits on taxpayer's money. That is, he was preaching on taxpayer's money. Killing could be done on any money as long as it wasn't his.

The man organized extremist organizations and held numerous live and Internet lectures on how great it is to die for Islam, although apparently he was in no hurry to do so himself.

Right after the London bomb attack, and right before them, he preached a bit too much, and the authorities started talking about charging him. He quickly went to lebanon, saying that he has not fled, and he is definitely coming back unless Britain says it doesn't want him. "We don't want you," said the Home Secretary, and the man had to stay in Lebanon.

A more sensible man would have figured his luck has turned to the worse, and kept a lower profile. But he decided to preach some more terrorism, for which he was promptly arrested but later released.

The next summer the Israel-Lebanon war started, and the man asked the UK to take him back, but even the UK is not that daft. They didn't take him back, and he continued his good work in Lebanon.

A couple of weeks ago he was tried for terrorism in a Lebanese court and sentenced to life in prison in absentia. He said that going to court is against his religion. "No problem," -said the police and came and got him.

I hope Omar Bakri Mohammed enjoys his stay in a Lebanese prison. I know the middle eastern justice and prisons are a bit unreliable, but that's ok: if he ever gets out he is gonna get himself in trouble again for sure.

And to think that the man could have had a comfortable retirement from age 28 on British taxpayers' money, raised his 6 children in peace, had cable TV and some middle eastern pastries and access to London's best museums for the rest of his life... I wonder whether he still thinks all the terrorist activity was worth it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I can has a tea kettle and a hard drive!

This is the first tea kettle I've ever owned. It does taste better than teabag tea. And df -h says "/dev/sda1 1.4T 257G 1.1T 20% /home".

The people who say that shopping cannot bring you real joy are surely shopping in a wrong place.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My life is not like the lives of other people, part N

A couple of weeks ago a man wrote to me on Facebook, saying he was my relative. This happens to me every once in a while; I have a lot of relatives and don't know half of them. He was clearly a descendant of one of uncle Leib's numerous siblings (uncle Leib's parents having been very religious, very careless or probably both).

I was kind of surprised to see I have a relative in London; I always figured that that branch of the family tends to live in Switzerland, the USA, Israel and maybe even Russia.

In any case, the guy - his name is Dima - was coming to Helsinki for a business trip, and we decided to hang out. Dima turned out to be a very pleasant and entertaining guy and we had a good if somewhat surreal time. Hope he didn't get too surreal an impression of Helsinki nightlife, and hope he doesn't have too much of a hangover, although considering that he is attending some company's pikkujoulut the latter is highly unlikely.

We started in Belge, and probably should have stayed there, but this was a "see as many bars as possible" night. There we tried to carefully unravel the mystery of our kinship, a delicate mission since in some places the family tree doesn't branch all that much, or resembles a network. I figured out that Dima's father's father's mother's mother was a sister of my mother's mother's mother, and we decided not to go into all the other, more distant ways he is related to me.

Later we decided to go to Torni and look down at the world. On our way down from there there was a bunch of Chinese-looking women waiting for an elevator. The elevator was on the 12th floor (that is where we were) but the button wasn't pressed. Dima pressed it, and the door opened, revealing two buttocks (dressed) and several suitcases.

The owner of the buttocks and the suitcases complained in English that the elevator wouldn't move, but seemed to have no intention of abandoning his quest, or the recalcitrant elevator. One of the supposedly Chinese women sighed and insulted the elevator's mother in very pure unaccented Russian.

Dima decided that we should attack the elevator anyway, and we did. Turned out that the elevator would go only to the 12th or 1st floor, and its occupants (ther was a smaller person hiding behind the buttocks owner) were extremely persistent in trying to get it to go to the 4th. We just pressed the 1st, and suggested that the innocent elevator victims take another one to the 4th.

Then we went to Rotterdam. Rotterdam was surprisingly empty, and I was a bit taken aback at the senior citizen asking in a rather faltering Russian whether he could sit with us. i would say no, but Dima already managed to say yes.

The senior citizen told us he loved Russia (which was rather obviously untrue), and tried to discuss Russian politics with us, which was hard, considering that we don't live there (Dima turned out to be a French citizen living in London) and don't follow it. The senior citizen then drank for the return of Karelia with us, and then drank again, and again.

Then he told us that he was responsible for Finland's policy towards Russia, that he met Brezhnev pretty often (we started asking whether he kissed him, too, but for some reason he didn't answer that), at least until Koivisto kicked him out, that later he became a historian and wrote a lot of books, that he graduated from France's most prestigious Grande Ecole for politicians, etc. We laughed at his stories, of which we didn't believe a word, and left when he became to drunk.

The laugh was on us. When I came home I googled the senior citizen, and he turned out to be the real thing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

RIP Harry Mulisch

Harry Mulisch died last week, which was a bit shocking, I don't know why - he was not all that young.

For those who don't know, he was a Dutch writer. The Dutch writer, as far as I am concerned. Not that I'd read many other Dutch writers, mind you: I think that besides him I only read Anne Frank.

Anyway, he wrote good books, mostly about WWII in one way or another. Growing up in the Netherlands during WWII as a child of an Austrian Nazi collaborator and a Belgian Jew must have been the perfect recipe for a lifetime trauma, but it inspired pretty good literature.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The white minority in the US

Herja has asked whether or not white Americans are concerned about being or being about to become a minority. The answer is: as far as I can see, they aren't.

The thing is, white Americans are not a minority, nor are about to become one anytime soon. They are about 75% of population, and are projected to drop slightly by 2042. The projection says that by 2042 the non-Hispanic whites will drop under 50% of the total population, but "non-Hispanic whites" are a rather artificial category.

To put it really bluntly, whites are usually concerned about blacks (more specifically about not being a minority anywhere where blacks are a majority) and the black population is not rising in any significant numbers. The Asian population is rising really fast, but I've never met anyone who'd be concerned about that. Lots of people are concerned about Hispanic immigration in the sense of it being a lot of poorly educated people who don't speak English; very few people regard English-speaking US-educated Hispanics as any kind of a threat.

The vacation and pictures

The pictures are up, in Picasa (1600x1200) and on my own server (full size). There are as usual lots of them, sorted more or less geographically.

I visit Paris quite often, but it was only my second time in Rome, and the first one was rather short. Never been to Chartres or Ostia Antica before.

Paris was, well, Paris. Beautiful, but colder than it should be this time of the year. We rented an apartment in the 6th, Place Saint-Sulpice, and it was lovely, much nicer than any hotel I've ever been in. Been to Louvre, Museé d'Orsay (too many paintings for my taste, but it'd been a while since the last time), Notre-Dame, Palais Chaillot for some modern ballet (I didn't get its name or point, but very much enjoyed the dancing, and was even more impressed with the theater itself, all black and red and huge and vertical), Palais Garnier for the premiere of La Paquita (also quite amazing), and for the first time in many years did not go to Sainte Chapelle, which feels vaguely wrong.

Hmm, now that I am writing this: maybe fewer art museums and more theaters is the way to go for me in general?

Another new thing was the St. Eustache church in Paris. The cathedral in Chartres was amazing; my pictures are unfortunately not worthy.

The one new thing in Paris were the women (my best guess would be Eastern European gypsies) who pretend to find your ring and give it to you; I am not sure how this scam is supposed to work, but on a good day three people can find "your ring" in one block.

Rome was very beautiful too, but somehow not as enjoyable as Paris (few places are). Much warmer, though. The ancient ruins were interesting to see, Piazza Navona and Piazza della Rotonda were lovely, Spanish steps a bit overrated although it was nice to live a couple of blocks from there. Pantheon is incredible in being really ancient without being a ruin.

We'd seen more famous churches than I could imagine possible, and more paintings than I could imagine I'd survive. I even found a Gothic church (didn't know they had any), Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Among the not-so-touristy impressions were the astronomical amount of bird shit on an embankment one morning, and the astronomical amount of birds over the same embankment in the evening. The flocks were so huge they scared us; it looked like a horror movie.

The annoying scam thing of the season seemed to be men with flowers who give them for free to a woman and then demand money from the man who is with her. They do run away when you yell at them.

From Rome we visited Ostia Antica, the ruins of a fairly large city, abandoned in 4th century AD (fairly common story, it used to be a port and the sea went away). Well worth a day trip. Has Europe's oldest synagogue, too, or what's left of it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I am back!

I was on vacation, mostly in Paris and Rome. From Paris I went for a day trip to Chartres, which had an amazing cathedral, and now I am vaguely wondering how come we haven't visited the cathedrals in Rouen and Amiens and many other places.

Now I am celebrating the victory in the US elections. The victory consists of the Republicans getting the majority in the House. I am really uncomfortable with either party having the House, the Senate and the White House at the same time, and now it's over for the Democrats this time round.

Helsingin Sanomat had a lot of people commenting about how Americans are stupid and have voted totally wrong. For some reason it makes me giggle.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

News of the peaceful, and Islamic Students Societies in UK

Faisal Shahzad got life in prison without parole for that little bomb he left in a car on Times Square. "The war with Muslims has just begun," said the man who has clearly missed something essential in the concept of the religion of peace. He has also invited everybody present to Islam (trying to inspire them by his own stellar example, I am sure) and interrupted the judge with "Allahu Akbar".

Nidal Malik Hasan, the guy who went on a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, is still waiting for a hearing. Seeing as he has been a more successful terrorist than Faisal Shahzad, he might actually be sentenced to his paradise and get a 72-year-old virgin. The most sexual contact Faisal Shahzad is likely to get would be Richard Reid.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the pantybomber is still awaiting his trial as well. He is not very likely to receive a death penalty, but if it's not clear to him what one should do with 72 virgins after burning one's dick off, I have a bit of advice: use your hands, man.

Abdulmutallab was the president of the Islamic Student Society of University College London.

There are 25 Islamic Student Societies in London. By an amazing coincidence three of their presidents got convicted for terrorism in the last 3 years. Waheed Zaman, one of the liquid bombing plot participants, was the president of the Islamic Student Society of London Metropolitan University, and is currently serving a life sentence for that liquid bombing plot. Yassin Nassari, the guy who led the Islamic Student Society of University Westminster is merely serving a few years for smuggling Qassam blueprints.

The funny thing that every time a president or another member of an Islamic Student Society in UK gets caught for taking his spiritual struggle a bit too explosively, the Islamic Student Society in question is totally shocked that one of them has done something like that, and hurries to explain that they would have never imagined...

I can well understand that a member of an organization can turn out to be a terrorist without any encouragement from the organization. When 3 of the presidents of 25 sister organizations, and a number of other members, turn out to be terrorists, it does seem a bit too much of a coincidence. When the umbrella organization of those 25 invites Anwar Al-Awlaki, by that time a known terrorist spiritual leader, as the distinguished guest speaker for their 2003 annual dinner, the coincidence becomes quite improbable. When one of the organizations holds video lectures by the same man in 2008, when he is already wanted for terrorism by two governments, the coincidence reaches the orders of magnitude of the Infinite Improbability drive.

According to a poll made 2 years ago Islamic Student Society members, who constitute 25% of Muslim students, are quite radical. 65% of the active members want to introduce Sharia for Muslims in Britain (as opposed to 36% of non-member Muslims). 58% of active members and 26% of non-members support worldwide Caliphate. 60% of active members thought it was acceptable to kill in the name of religion (49% only if the religion were under attack, 11% just to promote religion). Non-member Muslim students were only 32% for killing in the name of religion, 4% for killing just to promote religion. For comparison's sake, 2% of non-Muslim students thought it acceptable to kill in the name of religion.

All of the above is not even really news anymore, but I just wish some journalist would rub it in the face of Islamic Student Societies the next time they are publicly surprised about one of their stray leaders being sentenced to a life in prison.


Been sick lately (evil megaflu) and started a new project.

Losing one's virginity with regard to several web technologies at once leaves one feeling a bit fucked, but Ruby on Rails is fun.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Commie in Finland

Read Inna Latisheva's Ryssänä Suomessa. The name of the book translates as "Russian in Finland", except that the word she uses for Russian is a slur - there is no exact translation for it in English.

The book is ostensibly about how hard it is to live as a foreigner in a place where your country of origin is not well-liked. She does have a point - being such a foreigner in such a place does have its problems, and Russia is not well-liked here, but she often brings this into the realm of ridiculous, claiming for example that company A was a nice place to work in because it was really a Swedish company, and company B was a nasty place because it was a Finnish one.

Most of the book is the story of a woman who was unhappily married and decided to extrapolate her feelings towards her ex-husband to the country.

The story of her life in Finland is not what caught my attention, though. It was the story of who and what she was before. Most every sentence made me think she was lying.

The woman was born in 1955 in Baku and raised in Leningrad. She then starts describing herself as a sweet and innocent girl who believed in her country and the party. Well. I always knew where must have been somebody who believed in that shit.

She got a degree from the propaganda department of Marxism-Leninism university, another one from a real university (she doesn't say which, but apparently a degree in some language or languages), taught languages in the Military academy, and worked as an Intourist guide. Right. Sorry, but this CV doesn't say "an innocent young girl who loved her country and trusted her government". It says "an extremely cynical career KGB weasel" or, in some cases "an extremely cynical career commie weasel whom KGB didn't bother to hire".

At the same time she describes how she was dreaming of bagging herself a foreigner and moving abroad, and also what kind of things she was and wasn't allowed to say to the tourists. Her jumping from "I thought it was so wonderful, I didn't know anything better" to "I knew about everything bad but had to keep quiet" and back are almost endearing. Seriously. If we are talking about 1980, even I knew better, and I was 9.

OK, anyway, the innocent patriotic girl by some accident went to study in a place no decent person would have touched with a 10-foot pole and acquired a job known to provide access to under-the-table money and foreign husbands. Only then her innocent eyes started to open to the fact that there is more money in the West and that her job does indeed provide the opportunity for meeting foreign men.

Well, she met hers. He was tall, handsome, intelligent and foreign, and married to a friend of hers. That last detail didn't bother her, because she remembered Julius Caesar's words "I came, I saw, I conquered". After coming with her to Finland the man brought her to a couple of parties, and she was wondering - and upset - about why the married man does not introduce her as his fiancee at a party attended by his wife and her friends.

Anyway, he did get divorced and they did get married and he didn't turn out to be a very good husband and she thinks that this happened because Finns don't like Russians.

The book has a happy ending, she moved to Spain and is happy there. We'll see if there is a sequel in 20 years.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

RIP Claude Chabrol

Claude Chabrol has died today.

The obituaries will probably say that "one of the most important directors of the French New Wave", etc., etc., but I have never really understood what the New Wave was all about, or rather what its different directors had in common. This one, though, I actually like. Quite a lot. He was really good in creating a certain sort of suspense.

Oh well. If there is a heaven, they are gonna have really good suspense thrillers there real soon. Since we aren't there, I really recommend his movies that I am sure Orion will be showing pretty soon to honor his memory.

Monday, September 06, 2010

I ain't dead

Lot's of work, a trip to Tallinn, a major root canal problem, and desperate attempts to clean my place and catch up on sleep and workouts have interfered with blogging.

Anyway the Tallinn pics are here, catching up on sleep is so-so, work is ok, and as for cleaning my place - the friend who is coming over once said that if she ever sees my place cleaned, she is gonna start getting ready for the end of the world. I can't scare her, now can I?

Anyway, life is reasonably nice, Berlin Zero rocks, my throat is sore but not too much, is my gum, I've been to a really great crayfish party, and life goes on. Planning a couple of vacations, a game, cleaning my place (eventually) and going to bed (also eventually).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

You really can't bugger a hedgehog

They are very cute, and very prickly. More pictures here.

A friend of mine is breeding those. The temptation is huge.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"...ribbed and dotted condoms to stimulate you both"

The text above was on a pack of condoms at the grocery store checkout, and it made me wonder: are there really any women who can derive some pleasure (I mean vaginally) from those ribs and dots, or indeed notice them?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sleep, what's that?

I should really write every day in a Bridget Jones style how many hours I have slept, and what has prevented me from sleeping more.

The common reasons for going to bed late: had someone over, was at someone's place, been to a party, been out for a beer with friends, been reading a book, been to the movies, been blogging, been on IRC, been studying Chinese characters, been masturbating, been trying to read the TV Tropes through, been on the phone with someone living far away, been cooking, been thinking whether I want an ice cream, been thinking, been just too lazy to get my ass from the chair to bed.

The Other Sanity

Today I've read The Other Russia, the vision of Eduard Limonov, the leader of Russia's National Bolsheviks.

The text's purpose is to raise the reader's warrior spirit, and it does work: approximately by the page three I could easily visualize myself dressed in a loincloth and with the author's intestines right on the tip of my spear.

Mind you, this post is not Russia-bashing for once. Anyone who'd spend his whole life in Russia would surely have enough sense not to start a National Bolshevik party, because the country already had one and it didn't turn out quite as advertised. On the other hand, never underestimate the lack of common sense.

No, Limonov is not entirely a product of Russia. He was kicked out the there in 1974 (guess Russia was in no condition to feed two simultaneous Bolshevik parties), moved the the US, "fell in with the New York punk and avant-garde scene", according to Wikipedia, moved to France in 1982, quickly became active in French literary circles and moved back to Russia in 1991 to become a politician.

French intellectual circles are a dangerous place to put a power-hungry idiot in, as a couple of millions dead Cambodians can attest.

Anyway, Limonov believes in young energy and liberating young people from their families. He disapproves of families in general, because the family is just a burden on a budding young hero. His idea of the proper family values is free polyamorous sex where people get satisfied and nobody refuses anyone (he is not clear on how that is to be achieved), where nobody is tied down to any kind of family, where women are obliged to have at least 4 children, who are taken away as soon as they can walk and raised by the society. He wants to permit polygamous families.

Well, you can understand him. For some reason his party seems to be rather short on women. The party homepage features heroes, martyrs and authors, none of whom happen to be women, and the photo gallery shows a few women in the demonstrations. I am sure that if every one of those women took a harem of 10 men, they'd all be one happy unfamily. (Limonov does warn against mating outside the party, so that is out.)

He doesn't like school much, either, and gives his own model for education: "Education will become short and will be different. Boys and girls will be taught to shoot from grenade throwers, to jump from helicopters, to besiege villages and cities, to skin sheep and pigs, to cook good hot food and to write poetry."

"The teacher in the middle school has to be only one. It has to be a man, he has to have an artistic (painter, poet, writer) and military experience. No algebra, trigonometry, mathematics, physics and other abstract, never useful disciplines will be taught to the children."

A nation of warrior poets. Right.

Limonov wishes for a youth revolution and destroying every institution there is. He is not clear on how he'd enforce the 4 children per woman rule after he gets rid of police. He promises sex, war, and no school. And mandatory defloration at the age of 13. He would like to ban and destroy the cities outright, and frowns on agriculture and infrastructure in general. And furniture.

He has a vision: nomadic warrior communities roaming around on helicopters. All of them in black jeans, black coats and black boots. Infrastructure largely destroyed, except that businesses that produce weapons and said helicopters can be located on the outskirts of the abandoned cities.

He has ideas on the foreign policy, too:

"Will we produce weapons? Of course, we will. We will wage wars. But not like those before, not front on front. Ours will infiltrate their territories, familiarize their people with our way of living and ideas and the healthiest and strongest ones among them will become ours, our nation. And then our forces will invade and finish off those who don’t agree."

"The armed community could be called "Government of Eurasia". Thus the dreams of the Eurasians of the 30s will be realized. Many people will want to join us. Possibly we will conquer the whole world. People will die young but it will be fun. We will burn the corpses of the heroes."

Oh dear. I thought the most popular dream among the Eurasians of the 30s was not to get into any concentration camps, and generally avoid heroes and corpse-burning.

I wish I could say that the man is a lone lunatic, but he does have 56 thousand followers. On the other hand, everything should be tried except incest and folk dancing, so can some TV studio arrange for a bit of uninhabited land for them to build their society on, in return for getting to film it? A society of 56 thousand heroic sociopaths should make one hell of a reality show.

BTW, can anyone tell me: how come all those people extolling the virtues of dying young are always in their sixties or seventies?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Citizen of the World

I don't like it much when people ask me where I am from, because any response would of necessity be either longer than the asker expects, or less truthful than the asker expects, or both. "Born in Russia, moved to the US as a teenager, moved to Finland as an adult" doesn't sound like much, but you'd be surprised how many people's mental buffers it overflows.

A very common response to whatever I say is "ah, a citizen of the world..." I don't usually berate them for that, because they just don't know what to say and say whatever comes to mind, but my gut reaction is "no, I am not".

No, I am not a citizen of the world. I am a citizen of the United States and Finland, just like my passports say.

I don't think anyone can be a citizen of the world, really. Obviously I don't mean "citizen" to denote a legal citizenship here, although I doubt that there is any one person who'd managed to collect all the world's citizenships, but the kind of cultural connection that citizens mostly have to their countries.

I am a citizen of two countries, and have various amounts of cultural connections to a few more. If my life had turned out differently, there could have been just one country, or three. Not the world. The reasons are the same as the reasons why a polyamorous person can have a relationship with two partners, or three, but nobody can have a meaningful relationship with a large apartment building. Nobody has the time for a meaningful couple relationship with a hundred people, and an apartment building usually contains at least a few people that you wouldn't want to have a relationship with even if they were the last folks on earth. There are countries like that, too.

Yes, I also know people don't really mean a true connection to all the countries of the world when they speak about citizens of the world. In fact every person whom I have heard call him or herself a citizen of the world meant something quite the opposite of a connection. These are people who move from country to country every few years, speak only English (or English and their native language), have some professional jobs where English is enough, mostly hang out with each other and generally avoid developing any connection with whatever country they happen to live in. A perfectly valid lifestyle, to be sure, but definitely not me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Finnish and German sausage

Quite often I hear Finns say that German sausage is way better than Finnish sausage. They usually elaborate on this statement in a way (along the lines of "Finnish sausage is made of flour, but German sausage has a lot of meat in it") that makes it very clear that they are comparing the cheapest and the least meaty Finnish sausage with unidentified meaty German one. Often they even name the Finnish point of comparison with its colloquial name "HK Bleu" (HK Sininen lenkki, 43% meat).

The same phenomenon exists with other goods and services, but the sausage example is the most common, so I'll stick with that.

Now, when I buy a sausage in Germany it is usually worse than the ones I buy in Finland. It's hard for me to be sure that German sausages are objectively worse than Finnish ones, even as far as my own taste is concerned, because the familiarity creates a rather strong bias: in Finland I know which kinds of sausage I like the best, and I buy them; in Germany I have to select from a large number of sausages whose list of ingredients looks good, and this selection is rarely optimal.

Which makes me wonder: why doesn't this bias work for those other people? I mean, if they dislike HK Bleu, why haven't they moved on?

The ideas that come to mind are:

1. They are saying this in bad faith for some reason (why?), and are in fact well aware that they are comparing a near-lowest-quality Finnish sausage with average and above-average German sausage,

2. They are really comparing Finland's near-worst with Germany's near-worst and might actually be right.

3. They are for some reason (how?) unaware that there are lots of Finnish sausages with meat content of over 70%.

Any ideas?

P.S. I am being unfair to HK Bleu. It is the worst sausage I tasted and didn't seem to have any meat at all, but the same manufacturer (HK) also produced a light version with only 5% of meat. I didn't really need to know that, but I decided to share the info with my readers anyway. They also produce delicious stuff that's 80% meat.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Begging is getting more popular

For those who don't speak Finnish: after Romania joined the EU a lot of beggars came to Finland from Romania. They are very poor but somehow able to afford the trip. This guy says "Help a not-so-poor finance student who cannot afford a trip to Romania," and on the other side "get a good conscience, give money to me. Checks and account transfers are OK too".

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's not fair!

Food is not supposed to bite back, and neither is drink.

Yesterday I was at a picnic. At some point I raised my glass and tried to drink from it, and it bit me on a lip. Turned out to be a wasp. Ouch.

Now I am traumatized for life and keep staring at my teacup suspiciously.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Evil scrollbar, KDE

Suddenly, for no good reason at all, my scrollbars started misbehaving. A new computer doesn't constitute a good reason, especially since both the new and the old one are running Ubuntu Lucid Lynx with KDE.

It was absolutely nuts. Usually, when I drag a vertical scrollbar up and down, the horizontal movement of the mouse doesn't make a difference. I can understand a system that would stop scrolling if the mouse gets too far away. There is absolutely no excuse for jumping back to the initial point when the mouse gets too far away, which is what it did.

Turns out it depends on the widget style, but is not mentioned in any widget style description, nor in the fine manual. Finding the appropriate widget style by trial and error was easy, but I am still annoyed.

That's the problem with the new KDE: lots of configurable stuff and no place to configure it. I mean, having themes is nice and all, but the user should be able to configure anything the theme creator can configure, without having to read a manual on how to create a theme. I much rather quickly choose a theme that seems nice and reconfigure the few things that I don't like than wade though hundreds of themes looking for one that fits my specs the best.

Some things (the color themes, for example) actually work that way, but most don't.


Decided to start using Facebook more, and am working on it. I find Facebook to be a rather inconvenient format, but on the other hand it is a useful tool for maintaining an intermittent connection with the people with whom I don't maintain a daily connection by IRC, blogs and email.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Life and summer

It's hot, hot, terribly hot. Except that in the Northeastern US it's even hotter, and when I told my parents that we are having a heat wave my dear mother told me to fuck myself together with the heat wave.

My brains have melted, and I joined Helsinki Seta (I did it as a show of support and then realized they have pretty nice membership discounts on sparkling wine in DTM, and on sex toys), and started considering buying some disk space in Google (for putting my pictures into online Picasa albums), and buying a net connection for my own cellphone (I use the net on the work phone). Now I've just had my fifth shower of the day and am sitting contemplating heat-induced thoughts, such as whether I can get into some pool after hours, and whether it would be nice to be a seal. Seals are not bothered by Liferay and Hibernate problems, and they just lie all day eating sashimi. On the other hand, they don't have internet access, so better not.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Gay Pride: morons found

Went to see the Pride parade yesterday. No, didn't see the attack on it, but heard that those morons have been found and caught too.

I like watching the Pride parades, and sometimes participating if I happen to wake up early enough, which I didn't. One thing that always makes me wonder, though: every time there is at least several people in it proudly displaying portraits of Che Guevara. I always wonder what kind of moron would bring a portrait of a celebrity homophobe to a Gay Pride parade.

Well, I guess the moron has been found now. I saw 4 people (not in the same group) carrying identical Che Guevara balloons, and when I came a bit closer to one of them, I noticed the text under Che: SKP. This SKP, I assume.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Comment spammers

Does anyone know how to get rid of the damn Chinese-language spammers in the comments? How do they get around the word verification anyway?


I am back from Edinburgh. General impressions:

- The city is lovely. Now I know where all those gothic buildings in the American horror movies come from.
- It actually is pretty nice, sorry for repeating myself. The contrast between the dark gray gothic buildings and the brightly painted stores on their first floors is in fact quite pleasant.
- The people speak some Germanic language, which can be recognized as English with a bit of effort.
- The people seem quite friendly, and somewhat strangely dressed. There are no cute guys at all (I saw only one, and he spoke Norwegian), but also fewer really ugly ones than in England.
- The tourist attractions are either really expensive or totally free.
- There are several bus companies and each has its own numbering, so 15 Lothian and 15 First are not the same bus route. Unless you live somewhere where you need to use one of the other companies, Lothian is the way to go.
- Traditional Scottish food, at least as sold by the pubs, is something that you eat when all the edible food has been eaten. There are many nice restaurants with normal food, though.
- Scotland is very much behind Finland as a beer country, in the sense that the bars in downtown Helsinki offer a much better selection of beer than the ones in Edinburgh and Glasgow. They do have great selections of whiskey, though, and quite a ot of cocktails.
- Leith was a disappointment.
- Glasgow is not nearly as beautiful as Edinburgh, but has a great cathedral, and the cutest tiniest subway ever.
- The ill-behaved gangs of young people were nowhere to be seen.
- People there really take their football seriously.

Funny moments:

- Breasts stuck in Sir Walter Scott monument.
- Seals riding by on a device that resembled a water bike, but apparently wasn't.
- A military parade and a Gay Pride parade at the same time in the same part of town, with the result that the military had a lot more colorfully dressed guys in skirts than the Gay Pride.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The common voice of every right-thinking immigrant

An immigrant parliament is being founded in Finland, by Alexis Kouros, Umayya Abu-Hanna and a bunch of other professional multiculturalists. The idea is to have all the immigrants vote for the parliament, and have the parliament give advice to the officials and the lawmakers and propose new laws.

(Wait a minute! Propose new laws? Only the government and the MPs can propose new laws. I hope they mean "lobby for the new laws" or something.)

The new organ does not, thank God for small favors, have any financing yet. They are thinking of living off immigrants' own donations, and maybe asking the state and EU for money.

Judging from the reactions on the English-speaking and Russian-speaking immigrant forums, the immigrant donations will be just enough to buy them some coffee - if they already have a coffee machine.

As an immigrant and a Finnish citizen, my second thought was "why do I need their parliament when I can vote for the real one?". (The first thought was rather unprintable.) The immigrant parliament is supposed to represent non-citizens as well. I think that there is a very good reason why we don't let non-citizens vote on the matters of state. Surprisingly enough most non-citizens with whom I have ever discussed it understand those reasons pretty well.

The new parliament-to-be has a webpage already. There Kouros tries to explain the idea.

According to him the idea of the parliament is to give a common voice to all immigrants. The real parliament doesn't serve this purpose, because only a few immigrants can get elected and they are not necessarily the right-thinking kind of people.

Here is what he says: "Even if we had a few immigrant candidates in the parliament, that would not solve the problem of an absent, unified immigrant voice. MPs are elected by a general vote, which means that most probably the vote of the Finnish community determines who is elected."

Yeah, Mr. Kouros, the majority determines who gets elected. This is, like, the idea of democracy. And the absence of the unified voice of the immigrant community just might mean that the immigrant community does not have a fucking unified voice.

Seriously - what does the immigrant community have in common with each other? I don't even mean that some are Somalis, and some are Russians and some are Americans and some have come to work and some have come as refugees. I mean that I don't even have any voting issues in common even with my own group, the Americans who came here to work. What do we have in common to vote for? A right-wing American will vote for the right, a left-wing for the left, an environmentalist just might vote for the Greens, or maybe not, a person concerned about Islamism might vote for Perussuomalaiset or for Muutos 2011, and an American who has moved to rural Finland just might - gasp - vote for Keskusta.

Besides, the tone of Kouros's interview ("in a worst-case scenario, an anti-immigrant person, with an immigrant background may be elected") suggests that the common voice his is looking for specifically doesn't include the common voice of the immigrants who'd vote for Perussuomalaiset or for Muutos 2011.

Kouros and the other bullshit artists are not very specific as to who can vote. They say that they are trying to be as inclusive as possible, including the actual immigrants, the people at least one of whose parents was an immigrant, and people adopted from abroad. Kouros expresses hope that only the people who see themselves as immigrants will vote; Abu-Hanna says that the immigrant identity is the most important thing.

Yes, great idea: choose your voters based on how they feel about themselves and their place in the Finnish society. Then tell everyone else that they represent all the immigrants.

As an aside: how are they going to find out who has immigrant parents and who doesn't? If they can get that kind of information out of the population register, it's a bigger problem than their whole parliament.

Kouros feels that he has not been accepted as a Finn during the 20 years he's lived in Finland. If I were mean (and I obviously am) I'd say that getting a real job would be a step in the right direction.

When asked about how would the Finnish community react to this parliament, Kouros gets a bit aggressive:

"I am sure that there will be some sectors of society that will not like this project, but those are the people who don’t want immigrants to exist at all. In general, I am certain that it will be well received and appreciated."

Well, thanks for telling me how I feel about my own existence, and all those other folks on the immigrant forums as well. So far as I have seen the immigrants are in fact the sector of society who like this parliament idea the least.

Russians and the sexual market theory

Despite having lived in Russia for 16 years, I don't really know that much about the sexual dynamics there. I belonged to a minority with somewhat different sexual dynamics and was raised to believe that having sex with representatives of the majority would result of too much of a culture clash. (I think I did it just once; it resulted in being caught by the camp staff, so we didn't quite even get to the cultural differences, or to the orgasms for that matter. I've done it with some Russians after leaving Russia, but they were raised abroad and therefore quite different.)

Anyway, the sex life of Russian Russians has always been a mystery to me. Lately I have been reading Russian forums, and the mystery did not solve itself, but rather deepened.

There seems to be a belief there, both among the men and the women, that there are much fewer men than women and that the sex market there is a man's market. This is of course not really the case demographically, at least not until 40, but that's what they seem to believe.

How exactly do they reconcile the idea that you must get a man right now or else you'll run out of them real soon with the idea that of course the man has to pay for the privilege?

On a somewhat-related note: I have met many Russians (ethnic and otherwise) who have told me that they would really like to be me (in the sense of living alone in the city). The Finns and the Americans who express the preference for lone city living tend to - surprise - actually live alone and in the city. Russians express this preference more often than Finns or Americans, but for some reason don't do it that much.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Israel, alternative history, and Helen Thomas

A lot of criticism of Israel makes me wonder about the critics.

One can of course criticize Israel's policies without being antisemitic or otherwise weird. First of all, some of the things that Israel does are either ill-advised or uncivilized and deserve criticism.

Second, even when it does something that does not IMO deserve criticism, as a country that sometimes does uncivilized things under the conditions of dire necessity it still gets criticized by perfectly normal people for perfectly understandable reasons: first of all, it's hard to determine what is necessary from for away, and dire necessity seems to be a lot less dire when it is someone else's, second of all, it's sometimes hard to determine even for Israelis themselves, and third, a lot of people tend to condemn uncivilized actions even when they do believe they were necessary.

(I am not sure what to make of the current events myself; I am not well-versed in the legalities of enforcing a naval blockade, and being both of a somewhat legalistic mindset and uncivilized upbringing, tend to think along the lines of "should've let them into the territorial waters and then summarily drowned the fuckers", which is not an actual advice that I should care to give to Israelis or anyone else.)

What makes me wonder, though, is not that some people disapprove of some of Israel's policies, but that a significant percentage of them (say, a fourth or a third) seems to disapprove of the fact that Israel has any policies at all, or indeed exists. With this kind of Israel's critics any prolonged conversation at all comes to the statement that Israel should never have existed in the first place, a new state created in 1948 (as opposed to its ancient neighbors, I suppose, who were created already in 1922, 1943 and 1946).

Or at least should never have been created where it is now. Last week I talked with a woman who said just that. I asked for her suggestion for a list of better locations; she suggested Uganda, which was indeed mentioned as one possible location at the time. I did not managed to elicit from her whether (and why) she thinks Ugandans would have liked it better than Arabs did, or whether she just thinks it would have gone down better due to Ugandans being poor Black people whom nobody cares about on a continent that has so much trouble that nobody'd pay any attention.

Not that there is anything objectionable in thinking of alternative methods and better places of establishing Israel, if one is engaged in some general talk about alternative history. One should, however, first establish: better for whom: Jews, Arabs, Ugandans, Germans? World peace in general?

In the context of talking about the current politics, however, this statement is quite striking. I can think of many countries that should probably have never been established, either from the point of view of the citizenry or from the point of view of the neighbors, or both; but you almost never hear this argument about any of them besides Israel. Besides, since talking about it now is rather obviously 62 years too late, what I almost always hear behind the "it should have never been established" is "can't we just get rid of it now?"

And sometimes the idea comes out in the open. Last week Helen Thomas, who, mind you, is not a local Ku Klux Klan leader, but a well-known American journalist and a member of the White House Press Corps covering the US Presidents since Eisenhower, has had a few drinks to many on the lawn outside of a White House Jewish heritage event and and said that Israelis should get the hell out of Palestine and go home. Lest anyone should think that she meant that Israelis should get the hell out of Hebron and Bethlehem and go home to Tel Aviv and Haifa, she elaborated that "home" would be in Poland and Germany, and added "and the United States" as an afterthought.

Oh well. I guess I can only wish that Helen Thomas's home always be as pleasant, safe and welcoming as Germany and Poland were for Jews in the decade when Israel was established. I can also hope that the woman herself goes to enjoy her ancestral home in Lebanon someday.

Hmm, Lebanon. Isn't that one of the countries whose Jewish community has in almost all its entirety moved to Israel and everywhere else? I did not see them welcoming Israelis back 3 years ago. Granted, nobody welcomes the guys arriving on the bomber aircraft, but I don't see them having welcomed peaceful Israelis wishing to buy a summer cottage, either, or even to visit as tourists. Or indeed Finnish citizens with an Israeli entry stamp in their passport.

Talking about the alternative history, sometimes I wonder: what would all those alternative history lovers say if Israel actually decided to move somewhere else? Like, the whole Israeli army and the rest of the population suddenly teleporting to Poland or Germany and saying "this used to be our land, move over"? They do have a bigger army than Poland, mind you. The idea of Israelis kicking Poland out of Pomerania, Germany out of Bavaria or Russia out of Saint Petersburg has an interesting sci-fi kind of appeal, just to see what all those people who used to say that Israel should get out of Israel would say.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Go away, uncle Darwin!

I didn't want to comment on the Gaza raid, but there is another ship approaching there now. Called, of all things, Rachel Corrie.

If anyone ever again tells me that the seamen are superstitious, I'll laugh in his/her face. The name just calls for a Darwin award.

Nevertheless I wish the passengers and the crew a safe boarding and very fast journey back home after it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Sometimes it feels like I am the only one who believes that the world is actually getting better (not everything in the world, but on average).

I know this is not the case, and that the people who tend to say that the world is going to hell in a handbasket are just understandably more vocal about it. It's probably a healthy phenomenon, too: the people who are unhappy with some changes are making justified noise about those changes.

To me the progress is self-evident: look what a shithole the world was 150 years ago, look what a bigger shithole it was 1500 years ago, etc. The are occasionally some very troubled times and places, that are worse off than the same place was a little earlier, but in general the world is getting better.

There is one thing I am wondering about, though: I have heard many mostly-sensible people say that it was probably not all that bad 200 years ago. I have never heard anyone remotely sensible (this excludes homicidal eco-philosophers) say that it not all that bad that some people live that way now: without clean water, or antibiotics, or other similar trappings of modernity.

Monday, May 24, 2010

First Blood (spoilers)

Saw First Blood for the first time ever. I knew what it was about; what surprised me is that almost all the characters had that single-mindedness normally reserved for the Evil Guy's nameless henchmen.

OK, the protagonist has obvious mental problems. OK, the sheriff liked to be mean to helpless drifters (that kind of people usually tend to back off when the victim turns out to be not so helpless, but let's assume this one was dedicated to being mean). OK, some cops probably hit the uncooperative detainees with only like-minded cops for witnesses.

But a police officer trying to shoot and kill a fugitive? In the presence of a disapproving colleague? And then threatening to kill that same colleague for trying to stop him? While the colleague is piloting the helicopter from which the shooter is sticking out with no safety belt, and only his butt inside?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My contribution to the Everyone Draw Muhammed Day

I totally suck at drawing, so I made a photo collage reflecting my view of the guy.

The best contribution I've seen so far was Iowahawk's (via the Fourth Checkraise).

Misery! Misery! Pain!

Got a flu. Didn't go to a party today, probably not gonna go to a party tomorrow, unfortunately did go to a party-like event yesterday and now feel guilty about infecting everyone.

Blaah. Running out of tissues, too.

It was his own damn fault!

I guess blaming people for their own troubles is a basic human need, along with water, food, sleep, etc. I am not sure where it comes from - probably the wish to distance oneself from the trouble ("the victim has done something unwise, and I won't, therefore it won't happen to me") or take some control over it ("I have done something wrong and shit happened, and I won't do it again and shit won't happen ever again").

Doubtless a lot of people get in trouble after doing a lot of unwise things. Nevertheless some shit just happens without anyone doing anything unwise. More to the point, we tend to judge the risk and wisdom of the actions by the final result.

Decent people tend to suppress the impulse to blame the victim unless either a) the victim's stupidity was somewhere in the Darwin Awards class and the victim is nowhere within hearing range, or b) the blame is in fact constructive, as in telling a person who spends all his/her time at home and bemoans the absence of a sex partner that they should visit some venue where the potential sex partners congregate.

Some people, and some cultures as well, still haven't got the idea. My family keeps yelling at me and each other every time we get a common cold, which is fairly often. My way of dealing with it is not telling them unless it happens when I see them in person; their idea is that the common cold should be avoided by wearing a lot of clothes and avoiding the people who have it, although the former is useless and the latter impossible.

Another interesting case is blaming the woman for going to a man's place and getting raped there. It's very common in Russia, less common in the US and even less in Finland unless the man belonged to some ethnicity overrepresented in rape statistics, but it does exist. The funny thing is in all the three cultures visiting a man at night is considered a fairly normal thing to do if no rape has occurred (well, varies a bit by subculture). By some coincidence I have met many men (and women, but for them I don't have a point of comparison) who blamed women for coming to a man's place and getting raped, but I have never met a man who'd warn me against visiting his place, or inviting him to mine, or showing a slightest surprise or shock at my unwise actions. None of them ever tried anything ungentlemanly, either, unless you count the guy who wanted to talk about Catholicism instead of sex.

Anyway, these thoughts came to me after a recent rape case in Russia: a well-known artist and a friend of his allegedly raped - she has injuries and a witness a 17-year-old student and a whole bunch of people are saying "why did she go to his place, didn't she know what was gonna happen?" I am not sure they are helping his case in court, even in Russia.

The really surreal moment came when during that discussion somebody mentioned a soldier who got raped and maimed by two women, and the reaction was pretty much the same: "what was he thinking, didn't he know what was gonna happen?" Right. Because I am sure young women perform aggravated rape and aggravated battery on careless soldiers all the time.

My other particular favorite is the people who blame the victims of unpredictable natural disasters for being or living there when the disaster happened.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some people should be castrated three times a day with a rusty chainsaw

Russian scams have become more common in Finland and elsewhere lately. They've been common in Russia for a while now, but I had no reason to know about them. Finnish media doesn't write about them much, or at all, because they are never directed at Finns. It's kind of hard to convince a Finn that his kid has gotten into a car accident and a Russian-speaking police officer would like a bribe. Really, I am surprised even Russians believe it.

During the last few months, and especially the last few days, Russian-speaking people in Finland have received phone calls saying their their son was into a bad car accident in Lithuania and needs a lot of money right fucking now (with a young man screaming for his mom in the background, and other theatrics). They have posted about it on the Russian forum here, which is how I know about it; most of them just laughed it off, because this kind of thing is easy to laugh off when you have no children, or your only child is a daughter, or your son is just in the process of learning to eat baby food.

Today, however, I've heard something beyond all imagination, and not from a forum - from the blog of a real-life friend.

Her elderly parents (in Russia) got a phone call, ostensibly from their local health center, saying that the father's blood test shows he has a very severe case of leukemia. His own doctor could not speak to them because her husband just got murdered; they got transfered from one person to another until they got some famous Kremlin oncologist. They were told that their only hope is an experimental treatment that costs 360 000 rubles (9251 euro).

Luckily they called their daughter, she went to the health center, found out that the test is ok and the doctor and her husband is ok, and the whole thing was a scam, etc.

Just imagine those assholes. Sort of makes me wish that leukemia on the scammers, along with the gangrene of all protruding appendages, castration with a rusty chainsaw and porcupine in the anus.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Racists prefer Ethiopians?

YLE has published an article about different unemployment levels among different immigrant groups. The fact itself is well-known, of course, but they have interviewed Annika Forsander, the Director of Immigration Affairs for the City of Helsinki, who is saying that discrimination is the big reason why Somalis were not able to enter the job market in proper numbers, even the ones who'd lived here for 15-20 years and have degrees. The unemployment rate among the Somali citizens is 55.2%.

I have one question to Forsander: how well can an average racist employer tell a Somali from an Ethiopian? Because I can't. I can for the most part tell people from the Horn of Africa from the people from West Africa, and I figure that an average East African with a Muslim name is more likely to be Somali than Ethiopian, but you can't rely on that, and many of them have weird names anyway.

The racist employers are obviously better anthropologists than yours truly, and consistently discriminate against Somalis more than against the Ethiopians. Somalis' unemployment rate in 55.2%. Ethiopians' is 8.2%. Kenyans' is 4%. People from Ghana and Nigeria have an unemployment rate of 8% and 10%, respectively. Here are the numbers.

Greens 1, trams 0

How come every time there is some Green demonstration in Helsinki the trams stop running properly? I've seen many different kinds of demonstrations in town, and pretty much everyone else, including the bearded supporters of Hezbollah, had the sense to stay off the tram tracks. But I guess protesting the new nuclear power plants is too important to allow one's fellow men and women even a partial use of public transportation.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Russia has no shame

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has presented the certificates of Cities of Military Glory to five Russian cities, including Vyborg. (The short English version says "hero cities", but it's a somewhat different concept.)

Anyway, Medvedev said that during the WWII Vyborg has proved that it was worthy of its military history. The Itar-Tass article said that during WWII it was occupied by Germans and Finns, but was liberated by Russian troops in 1944.

I realize of course that any person with either any sense of shame or a shred of common decency is highly unlikely to work for Itar-Tass and is even more unlikely to become the president of Russia, but for fuck's sake! (For those who don't know: Vyborg was a Finnish city, occupied and annexed by Russians in 1940, retaken by Finland in 1941, and reoccupied by Russia in 1944.)

Yeah, I know that many national borders have changed in 1940s, and that nobody really expects to change them back now (except for the kind of folks who keep suggesting that Israel should disband and go Somewhere Else, usually without specifying where that Somewhere Else should be), and that during that time many countries have done things that they are not particularly proud of, but that is obviously not a good reason to be proud of those things.

I also checked out the local Russian forum, and what they had to say on the subject. My reaction to that is unprintable, and shall therefore remain unprinted.

Listen to your heart, or maybe don't

I am rather curious about the contrast of a very strong "listen to your heart"-message in popular culture, and "emotion" being essentially a dirty word in any social or political discourse. Even more interesting is the fact that while calling the other party emotional and oneself logical is very widely practiced, purposeful public displays of emotion also have their place in such discourse.

The proponents of measures that are considered somewhat less humanitarian usually directly accuse their more-humanitarian opponents of a) basing their views on emotion, and not on reason and logic (like us) and b) being women, regardless of whether or not they actually are. The proponents of more humanitarian measures tend to avoid using the very words "emotion" and "feelings" as a swear word, resorting instead to listing the emotions that in their opinion drive the adversary: fear, hatred, etc. (they themselves are of course perfectly logical and reasonable), and also often accuse the opponents of being male and sexually deprived, regardless of their actual gender and sex life.

What do people actually mean when they call somebody else emotional? An intricate emotional life and wide range of emotion? Strong emotion? Tendency to express emotion in public? Tendency to act on emotion without running every new idea through the reasoning facilities? Do they even know themselves?

The funniest moments come when people discuss emotions as a natural and irresistible force: if it's the other people who can't control their emotions to our satisfaction, this means that they are not fit to make decisions, vote, etc. If it's ourselves - why, then we'll call those emotions "human nature" and declare that you can't really go against the human nature, now can you?

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Iranian cleric (Friday prayer leader for the city of Tehran, says Wikipedia) Kazem Sedighi said that immodestly dressed women cause earthquakes.

This does make one wonder why Iran has so many earthquakes - could it be that the Lord's opinion on what is modest and what is not differs quite a lot from that of Iran's leadership? Makes one wonder about Kazem Sedighi's sanity and the recreational pharmaceuticals he uses, too.

Anyway: tomorrow is the day when thousands of women across the world, myself included, will try to prove him wrong by wearing immodest shirts. As of now, the event has 165497 confirmed participants on Facebook.

Imagine our surprise though if the big one hits Iran tomorrow...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Who are those people?

President Obama has ordered the Health and Human Services agency to ensure that the hospitals that get Medicare and Medicaid money grant visitation right to whoever the patient wants. It was mostly described in the news as giving the visitation rights to same-sex partners, but it fact it concerns all the people who wish to be visited by someone who is not a member of their immediate family.

This is very good news, of course, but the very fact that the issue exists makes me wonder quite a bit - who are the enemy, I mean the people on the other side of the issue? Why? I've never seen them. This sort of gives me the feeling that there is some other, alternative USA out there.

Obviously, one of the guilty parties is Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital. A few years ago a woman visiting Miami got a brain aneurysm and was rushed there. When her partner of 17 years came there with their three children, they were not allowed to visit the woman, in spite of the fact that the partner had a medical power of attorney document with her, and in spite of the fact that there was no medical reason to prevent the visit. The woman died, alone.

Jackson Memorial Hospital argued in court - successfully, no less - that they are under no obligation to allow any visitors at all. I can only hope that everyone who does have an opportunity to choose their hospital has heard this loud and clear.

The whole thing makes me suspect that Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital is in fact run by aliens (of the extraterrestrial kind) with little green antennae, who did not come in peace. Seriously, I've never seen anything like that. I've never seen any hospital in the US (or in Finland or Austria, for that matter) take any interest in who their patient's visitors are. Moreover - I know that there are many Americans who are different from me in one way or another, and I've met quite a lot of them, from rather far right to rather far left, from the coasts and from the Midwest, religious and atheists, but I've never met a person whom I could even imagine supporting this idea. Who are they? Hey, if any of you are reading this, wanna tell me who you are?

I can imagine that if some hospital in Boston suddenly started admitting only immediate relatives to visit patients, the result would be immediate violence, with the perpetrator utterly failing to be convicted by the jury of his or her peers.

What's in it for the hospitals? Also, how do they even know who the immediate family are? How does anyone know that I am my parents' daughter, or my parents are married to each other? Obviously, if the matter comes up in some court, one can unearth some certificates, my parents have their wedding pictures somewhere, and quite a lot of living witnesses to the event, and the fact that they are my parents can be established by a DNA test. Anybody who does not have the time and money for all of the above would have to rely on our word, though.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Helsingin Sanomat forum moderators rather open-minded for once

"No Hitler oli hyvä mies ja oikealla asialla, kun pyrki hävittämään nämä tuholaiset maailmasta, mutta homma jäi vain hieman kesken. On vain ajan kysymys, milloin nouseva äärioikeisto hoitaa homman vihdoinkin loppuun!"

(Translation: "Well, Hitler was a good man and he was doing the right thing when he tried to remove this vermin [Jews] from the world, but he didn't quite get the job done. It's a question of time when the rising far right will finally get the job finished.")

That was one of the readers of Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest Finnish daily, commenting on an article about Israel asking its citizens to leave Sinai.

Now, I am all for the right of newspapers (and anyone else, for that matter) to have unmoderated forums, where anyone can write anything and where things get deleted only by a court order or not at all. This, however, is a pre-moderated forum that claims not to tolerate any racism or group hatred, and that has routinely removed messages that were even slightly offensive to some other groups. It's not the question of moderators not having noticed it yet, either - in order to be posted there the thing (signed with the nickname "Natsi" (nazi), although in my experience actual nazis for obvious reasons rarely compare Jews to nazis, as he/she does elsewhere in the posting) had to go through a moderator.

I would really like to know: what the hell was the moderator thinking?

Edit: Now they have removed that posting after more than 24 hours, but the question still stands.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Started reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (thanks for the tip, Mari!). It's a time-travel story and a sort of a cross between sci-fi, historical fiction and romance. According to the author it was originally meant to be a historical novel, and sci-fi and romance appeared later.

There are in theory eight books; seven have been written so far, and I have read four so far. Every book has its own sensible story arc, so the absence of the last one is not too frustrating.

One thing that I really love about the series is the protagonist who for the most part does not give a flying fuck about history and whether or not she is fucking it up. It's refreshing because of being rather unusual, and is especially fun in contrast with Connie Willis's time-travel novels, where characters are extremely concerned with effects on history.

A tooth and an ear

Last night I broke my tooth on a salt crystal. "Argh, let this be a nightmare", I thought. A couple of hours later it turned out to have been a nightmare, or at least the tooth is not broken. This was the first time ever it has occurred to me in a dream that it might be a dream.

I got up and turned the kettle on. It was making really strange sounds. I took my tea and went to bed with it, hoping that the kettle problem would be a dream, too.

In the morning the kettle problem turned out to be a ear problem. The damn ear feels like there is fluid inside or something, and is sort of oversensitive to some sounds, for example the kettle. Googling turned up that this is a very common aftereffect of a flu and nothing needs to be done, but it's still pretty damn annoying.

It's better now, but not quite gone.

Had a lazy weekend. Visited a friend, did my US taxes, washed the laundry (probably should hang it to dry, too, or else not gonna have any pants in the morning) and read a book.

Argentina: food

We were told they eat meat, and they sure do! There are delicious steaks to be had everywhere, for about 8-12 euro. The best bet is just to order "bife de lomo" everywhere. Potatoes and suchlike often have to be ordered separately.

in Patagonia they have Patagonian lamb (I can especially recommend the one in the restaurant called Las Barricas). In Iguazu they have the traditional local fish (surubi, dorado and pacu). The only reason it became traditional is probably because they didn't have anywhere to put cows to pasture, or any better fish. Avoid if possible. They do also have salmon and steelhead trout, so the fish lovers are not totally fucked.

The have quite a lot of sushi places, I even saw a kosher sushi place in Buenos Aires. My one and only attempt at sushi revealed that the restaurant only had four kinds of fish: salmon, tuna, shrimp and an unidentified white-colored fish. They did a very good job out of it, much better than I could ever imagine anyone doing, but I decided to leave sushi at that.

Anything sweet either looks very suspicious or contains a lot of dulce de leche. I happen to like the stuff; if you don't, Argentinian pastry is probably not for you.

Finding the wine to our liking was a challenge at first; later we fould a producer we liked a lot, Luigi Bosca. Among local beers, El Bolson totally rules.

They make good coffee. Really good coffee, though in all my travels i still haven't found anyone who'd brew coffee as good as the guy near the big market in Istanbul.

There is a local specialty called cappuccino italiano. That's as opposed to the regular cappuccino, although occasionally you ask for regular and get italiano. It's cappuccino with cream (in addition to milk), cocoa and cinnamon, which makes for a surprisingly pleasant combination.

Ice cream in pretty good. Normally I like coffee, caramel and green tea flavors, but in Argentina they make very good ice cream flavored with strawberry, raspberry and other berries, often combined with mascarpone. I think their secret is that they put enough berries in there.

More about Argentina

Our first experience of Argentina was an immigration official looking at my parents' US passports, noticing their birthplace in Russia, and asking "do you happen to have a Russian passport as well? If you do I won't have to charge you the entrance fee."

They didn't, and paid. I used my Finnish passport, and didn't have to pay. When it was time to fly back, the airline clerk instructed me to show both passports to her, the Finnish one to the Argentina border control, and the US passport to the US border control. (Incidentally, I passed the US border control in Miami, for the first time ever, and was absolutely shocked by the Customs and USDA officials addressing me in Spanish. They did switch to English as soon as they noticed my open mouth.)

The combination of high-trust and low-trust features in Argentina is sort of strange. On one hand, locks, bars (not just the drinking establishments) and guards are everywhere. On the other hand, the population, including lone young women, does not seem to be in any way afraid of being out at 4am. On one hand, any bill starting from 50 peso (about 10 euro) up is checked for being counterfeit by its recipient, and even fairly small credit card purchases often require a picture ID. On the other hand, nobody has ever tried to cheat us in a restaurant.

The people are friendly, laid-back, and mostly southern European in appearance. They are also covered with liver spots in a way that I found scary, and to a much higher degree than in Southern Europe, which made me wonder whether Buenos was much sunnier than, say, the south of Spain, or the sunscreen much less popular.

I really loved the way they tried to correct my Spanish, and started thinking that if I lived there for several months I would be fluent. Once I tried to find matches in a supermarket, and having failed in the attempt to find them by myself, asked an employee for cerillas. He led me where the damn things were, pointed at them, and said in Spanish in a schoolteacher tone: "Fosforos. Only Bolivians say cerillas."

Argentinians seem to love demonstrations, dogs and traveling. We'd seen at least 10 demonstrations in about 8 days in Buenos Aires, mostly on various political topics: they supported some party or other, demonstrated against paying of the national debt, in favor of recapturing the Falkland islands "because our brothers' blood is priceless!" (somebody should explain them the concept of sunk costs), and against drugs. Every self-respecting demonstration had drums, and people who beat them with a big stick and a great enthusiasm, and demonstrations seemed to compete among themselves in how much noise they could create. The only exception was a rather sinister-looking demonstration of people in Che Guevara t-shirts with evil-looking faces, who had very big sticks and no drums at all.

There is a great number of dogs, who are just as laid-back as humans. The city was full of people walking dogs, people walking as many as 10 dogs at a time, and a great number of dogs without any visible people present, who nevertheless did not seem to be strays. Picking up the dog shit from the streets is not common, and one should exercise due caution while walking.

The national parks were full of tourists, most of whom were from Argentina. There was quite a lot of people from the other South American countries, too. The parks usually have different prices for Argentinians, people from the local province, people from the local town, people from Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) and all others.

Another interesting feature of the national parks was the languages: posted notices tended to be in Spanish, English, Portuguese and Hebrew.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Alabama on the forefront of high-school BDSM

Oxford High School in Oxford, Alabama, has a dress code for prom dresses: the hem cannot be more than 6 inches above the knee and the cleavage cannot be below the breastbone. The article is not clear on whether they mean the top or the bottom of the breastbone; neither makes any sense to me.

That is not the point. Silly dress codes happen. The really amazing thing that after 18 out of the 352 students violated the code they were given a choice of paddling and a three-day suspension, and 17 chose the paddling.

Wow. I'd never imagined a backward place like Alabama would be as open to BDSM as to paddle consenting high school students on taxpayer money. In my home state of Massachusetts it's illegal even between consenting adults, and 10 years ago police even arrested the participants of a BDSM party in Attleboro. The case was thrown out on technicalities, but not before the local population renamed Attleboro into Paddleboro to the great joy of the local authorities. But Alabama? Just wow!

I am probably the last person on earth who should ever joke about the family trees that don't branch, but I often suspects that the states who have the reputation for having a lot of inbred morons tend to have it for a very good reason.

The even more amazing thing than the fact that paddling is offered as a punishment (do they also have whipping? piercing? fisting?) is that out of 18 students given the alternatives between a paddling and not having to go to school for 3 days, 17 chose the paddling. Either Oxford, Alabama is absolutely full of subs in need of a dom, or their school is so much fun that nobody wants to miss any of it even under the threat of being paddled, which sort of makes me wonder what other activities go on in there.

I am also kinda wondering whether they need an extra employee for the prom season.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Just got back from my first trip to Latin America, which (the trip, not Latin America) consisted mostly of various parts of Argentina.

It's a damn big country, incidentally. My mother's packing advice was along the lines of "pack for the moderate climate, the glaciers, the rainforest and don't pack too much".

The first words that came to my mind upon seeing Buenos Aires were "old-world charm", which was strange, because I have never seen any in the old world. Or rather there is quite a lot of charm in the old world, but none of the kind that I have ever felt like calling old-world charm.

The second words were "that's fucking huge". Buenos Aires has some streets that are so huge that they have to be seen to be believed.

I expected Argentina to be a reasonably civilized third-world country, but it didn't feel particularly third-worldly to me. The general impression is similar to that of a poorer Western European country, for example Portugal. Nowhere where we'd been was in any way scary (we did not seek out slums, but we weren't careful of where we were going, either), tap water was drinkable though not tasty, the restaurant bills did not have any mysterious extra items, and there were fewer beggars than in Prague, or in fact fewer beggars than in Helsinki after Romania joined the EU. The general impression of Argentina was way more civilized than that of Hungary or Czech republic.

More later.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Don't shave and drive

In particular, don't shave your pussy and drive. Not only do you get into an accident, you are probably left with half of your pussy covered in stubble.

Megan Barnes decided to shave her pussy while driving, the next day after having her license suspended for 5 years. Judging from the picture we should be grateful she didn't decide to color her roots, too.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

People for Ethical Treatment of PETA, anyone?

Remember Knut, the polar bear rejected by his mother in Germany 3 years ago? At that time Frank Albrecht, Germany's PETA's zoo expert, said that the bear should be killed, because "the zoo must follow the instincts of nature". Later he changed his statement to "should have been allowed to die".

It would be a nice cheap shot to say that over there they have had a bit of a problem with ethics during the last century, but in fact the German people are absolutely not to blame: the zoo told PETA to bugger off, the locals held pickets in favor of saving the bear, and the bear was saved.

Apparently Frank Albrecht is not done with Knut yet: now he wants him castrated. Because Knut has to share his living space with his female cousin, and "any offspring would threaten the genetic diversity of the polar bear population in Germany and risk susceptibility to a condition known as "incest depression"".

Excuse me? Did I hear it right? "Genetic diversity of the polar bear population in Germany"? Germany has a polar bear population? Of a size that makes the concept of genetic diversity meaningful? Incest causes depression in polar bears? What color is the sky on Mr. Albrecht's planet? I am not asking whether he comes in peace, because he obviously doesn't.

(OK, I realize that he probably meant inbreeding depression.)

Oh well. In 2003 some Jews were angry when PETA protested a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem where a live donkey (thereafter a dead donkey) was used, but didn't protest the killing of Jews. My dear fellow Jews: shut the fuck up and don't give PETA any ideas. I for one am really glad that they are sticking to animals. Do you really want these lunatics to start fighting for the ethical treatment of Jews? Sheesh, I wouldn't wish them and their ethical treatment even on Palestinians, or for that matter on any other nation where people mate with their cousins, threaten the genetic diversity, and cause incest depression.

Mr. Arbrecht: I've heard that cutting somebody's balls off might cause depression as well. Do try it out on yourself first before advocating it for Knut.