Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You know you are dealing with a man of conviction when...

...he is ready to wipe his ass with a metal hook.

Imam Abu Hamza Al-Masri believes in Allah, improvised explosive devices and killing the kuffar. His beliefs have not served him well - he lost both hands and one eye in some combination of the above, and he is currently serving 7 years in the UK for inciting murder and a number of lesser charges, the US is asking for his extradition on terrorism charges when he is done, and Yemen is third in line.

Anyway, now he realized that the nurse who has been taking care of him in prison for the last two years is gay. The nurse has been quite openly gay all that time, of course, but Abu Hamza is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Or the sharpest hook, as may be the case.

Abu Hamza demanded a replacement and is saying that his religious rights are being breached. He feels that it is somehow unbecoming for a guy who believes that gay people should be killed to have his ass wiped by a gay person, so now he refuses the care.

I apologize to all the innocent handless people reading this, if any, but I find the idea of Abu Hamza using his hooks to wipe his ass by himself absolutely hilarious. I'd love to see his facial expression in Youtube.

Note to the prison guards: a) I am not encouraging actual filming, even though I'd love to see it, and b) if he chooses the "wiping is for the kuffar" way out of his dilemma, please don't film the results. Eeew.

"Move to hell, you'll like it there"

This Anu's entry made me wonder for the nth time: what is it with the people who think that others would be happier if they moved to the countryside, even if they don't know it yet? And why have I never encountered the same phenomenon with people advising averybody right and left to move to the cities?

I don't mean the stereotypes that city people and country people have of each other and city/country living, the strong dislike of city or country living that some people have, etc., but a certain proselytizing tendency among some people to tell random city people to move to the country where they will see the light (metaphorically, not physically) and become happy, etc.

What I am wondering about is why I have never seen a person telling random country people to move to the city where they will see the light (also metaphorically) and become happy.

The working hypotheses:

1. Being a random city person, as opposed to a random country person, I am really not in a position to say what kind of things people try to proselytize to the random country people. In fact since I tend to meet the proselytizers in the cities I wonder what are they doing here, if it's so nice in the countryside. For all I know the countryside might be totally full of country people telling other country people to move to the cities.

OTOH if that were the case I think they would show up on the internet occasionally, but I've never seen them there, either.

2. The fact that some people need to advertise the country so strongly has something to do with the fact that in reality people tend to move from the country to the city, and not the other way around.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Life: flu, insomnia, parties and music

Had flu for the last three weeks, or rather flu for the first week and a half anf some obnoxious post-flu phenomenon for the rest of the time. Feeling a lot better now, but three weeks of being unable to sleep properly are still making me feel like a vegetable. I know that a tendency to throw up while coughing is not unusual, but if any of you know how to get rid of it, do tell.

My friends have clearly conspired to arrange a lot of social events during that time, and I managed to attend at least half of them, so during the last three weeks I've been to Kärkölä, Tallinn, a friend's dissertation party, a sitsit (a sort of formal dinner party with a lot of singing), juhannus parties of two sets of friends, and a lot of less intensive social events.

Now I decided not to do anything useful except actual work until I feel rested or bored. Have only two moderately social events planned for this week, too. I also decided to give up at least eating, drinking alcohol and listening to music for a while. Don't laugh, this really will make me feel better, even though I am only likely to do it for a few days and even then not completely.

Seriously, though: I should eat and drink less, but at least food and alcohol are occasionally good for me, in the sense of making me beel better. Music most definitely is not. I often enjoy it - otherwise I would not listen to it - but it's bad for my ears, bad for my productivity in anything I do, and, unlike most of the other pleasures I indulge in, it never really makes me feel better. I wish I could always have my music-playing devices at hand but only use them quite rarely.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"Hey, we got the Nobel Peace Prize! Now you see how peaceful we are?"

The Hamas terrorists looted the home of the late Fatah terrorist Yassir Arafat and stole, among other things, Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize medal.

God knows how he got the damn thing in the first place. He was too unsavory a case even by the low standards of their reformed-terrorist category, partly due to not having been reformed, but I guess Osama and Carlos the Jackal were unavalable that year.

Anyway, now the new brave participants of the Middle East Peace Process have the medal. It might yet show up on somebody's neck during a beheading video, which would be embarassing but symbolic in a way.

The Hamas thugs stole pretty much everything else from Arafat's house, too, including furniture, water pipes and his widow's clothes. They also looted the homes of the living Fatah leaders.

Now I have to spend the rest of the day haunted by the mental image of Ismail Haniya and Hamas terrorist boy choir dressed in Arafat's widow's evening dresses and dancing, for some reason, to a version of Juice Leskinen's Valssaaja konepajalla: "innostuin, innostuin, innostuin, terroristipojan kanssa valssipyörteisiin mä uin, ja me tanssimme naurussa suin kun mä pommiohjeita luin..."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"We ain't no delinquents, we're misunderstood", part 5345

The Australian National Imams Council offered Sheik Taj Din "cat meat" al-Hilali a new two-year term as the Grand Mufti, which he "gracefully declined".

Then they elected Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam, who supports Hezbollah and feels that Al-Hilali was just misunderstood.

"Why do those damn foreigners try to be just like us instead of enriching our culture and making it more vibrant?"

In the comments to my previous multiculturalism entry Lotta said that she has sought the answers to the questions "Peaceful coexistence takes two. What do you do if the other culture does not wish to coexist peacefully?" and "What do you do if the other culture's values are absolutely incompatible with your own?", and the answers have usually been "Cultures change and influence each other" and "People are more than products of their culture and can switch between several cultural identities."

This is undoubtedly true. Problem is, it's kind of hard to be sure in which directions they change, which culture will influence which culture in which way, and which identities particular people will want to switch into under which circumstances.

(Actually it's not all that hard to make educated guesses, but if you decided in advance that everything will be ok in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this tends to affect the education and the guesses. Not that the educated guess are always right, either.)

As an aside on cultural influences: Europe has admitted millions of immigrants from a culture that does not believe in peaceful coexistence (don't mean that none of them believe in it, only that their level of belief in peaceful coexistence is much lower than that of the native populations). Noticed any decline in the belief in peaceful coexistence among the native populations lately?

But I digress. What I really wanted to talk about is that in my admittedly limited experience multiculturalists do not really believe in these things (cultural change and switching between cultural identities) themselves, or rather believe in them less than the general population.

In a way this is understandable. If you believe that all the cultures are equal, it is quite reasonable of you to be suspicious of people who want to change their cultural identity. You might suspect that they, unlike you, have decided that the new culture is better than the old one and therefore do not believe in the equality of the cultures.

I usually criticize multiculturalism from the point of view of a westerner, and try to be reasonably civilized about it. When I start criticizing it from the point of view of the immigrant it is a lot harder to keep the critique civilized.

Luckily I did not see the worst of it, or rather only saw it happen to other people. When we came to the US as refugees in the eighties the immigration system was not overrun by multiculturalists yet (it still isn't, for that matter; the school system is, at least in the Boston area). When I came to Finland in the nineties I was a foreign student and therefore not subjected to any ministrations of the social services. So I got to live in peace without anyone trying to strengthen my cultural identity, at least on the official level.

I really don't know from under what log all these identity strengtheners crawl out nowadays. In spite of a considerable number of refugees who like to visit the old countries and claim that everything was better back there, a refugee is, by definition, in a rather bad relationship with his or her former country. Anyone who has two brain cells to rub together should sort of figure out that at least a sizable percentage of refugees really do not want to have their cultural identity or their ties to their homeland strengthened. In a way a refugee leaving the old country is like an abused spouse being escorted from his or her home by police and filing for divorce: it's really not the right situation to tell people how wonderful their marriage was and how they should strengthen their ties to it.

The first person of that kind was my history teacher in high school. There were five Soviet refugees in our history class, and he kept telling us all how wonderful Russia was and how we should maintain our ties to it, and how we are just stupid kids and therefore do not understand yet what a wonderful country we came from. We usually answered along the lines of "if you like it so much, asshole, why don't you move there yourself". He clearly preferred to like it from a safe distance, though.

There were more people like that, both in the US and in Finland, all of them multiculturalists (usually they said it, mostly in the form of claiming that all cultures are equally good; sometimes I asked). In the beginning I was quite amazed at the number of people who wanted to tell me that my (Russian) culture was as good as theirs; I tried to explain to them that this was most obviously not the case, as evidenced by hundreds of thousands of people moving from Russia to the US and very few moving the other way, and suggested that if they don't want to take my word for it they can try it for themselves.

One thing they all had in common is that they clearly did not believe in cultural change, or at least in my right to change myself and my cultural identity in ways not approved by them. They had a grand vision of the country where different cultures live together in peace while retaining their separate identities and changing just enough (and just in the right direction) to live together in peace and harmony. And that vision did not have a place for me. Or for my parents or grandparents. Or for any of their friends. Or for anyone else who has rejected their old country and culture.

(I haven't rejected the Russian culture completely, BTW. I occasionally shop in Russian food stores, own Russian books, CDs and DVDs. What I have rejected is Russian identity and any connection to the country. I rejected quite a lot of the actual everyday culture, too. I occasionally read Russian web forums, and most attitudes expressed there are quite familiar to me, but alien. They are not mine. Some of them used to be mine, but the thought feels strange. I have no desire to reconnect.

Part of it is how I was raised, of course. When you keep telling a kid "you are not a real Russian" and "you can never be one of us", chances are the kid will figure she doesn't want to be one of you anyway. The first time this was explained to me was in daycare at the age of 5 - by the staff, no less - and by the age of 8 it was quite clear to me that I was not interested in being one of them and that the only thing I wanted from them was to get away from them, the sooner the better.

No need to tell me that not all the Russian people are like that. I know this. I have met a lot of wonderful Russian people, both in Russia and outside of it. I just can't find in myself anything but hostility for the Russian nation as such.)

Anyway, that is the country, the culture and the past that some multiculturalists wanted me to embrace, with the result that I told them to do their own damn embracing if that's what they feel like. I don't think they ever did, though.

The idea that the culture is somehow immutably in the blood and that switching completely or for the most part to another culture is either impossible or undesirable is not limited to the multiculturalists, of course. It is embraced, even more so, by those nationalists who are into ethnic romanticism, and to a much lesser extent by normal people. The difference is, the kind of nationalists who are into ethnic romanticism are usually considered somewhat insane in civilized countries, for the most part with good reason, whereas multiculturalists often get to make policy nowadays.

When I was in high school (and the multiculturalists did not make policy) they tested all incoming foreign kids' English skills, and either put them into normal English classes, or the English For Foreigners classes, or, if their English was really bad, into a class where things were explained to them in their own languages (usually Russian or Chinese - the third common language in that school was Hebrew but they all knew English well). It worked, the kids learned English, moved on to normal English classes, integrated quickly, etc.

Nowadays the same school district decided that they want to have bilingual education in Russian - the kind of program where they teach subjects in both English and Russian. I seriously doubt the usefulness of those as far as integration is concerned, but OK, let those who want it have it...

But no, it was not just for those who wanted it. A friend of ours has a daughter, and the school somehow figured that she was bilingual and tried to force her into that program without asking her or her parents' permission. The girl came to the US when she was 2 and spoke English like any native-born American. She also spoke pretty good Russian and read Russian books, but she had no interest in being educated in Russian. The school insisted, however, and the girl and her parents had to make a big scandal in order to keep her in an English-speaking program.

Something has gone seriously wrong when an American girl has to make a big scandal in her school district in order to receive her public education in English. All because she happened to have been born in Russia. Racism, anyone?

(For that matter - does anyone know whether or not the native language classes for immigrants in Finnish schools are obligatory?)

I understand that multiculturalists mostly mean well, in a way in which the staff of my Russian daycare did not. Road to hell, good intentions, etc. However, to me all the attempts to make immigrants "practice their own culture" or "strengthen their identity" have exactly the same ring and taste to them as the antisemitic slurs of my childhood: "you are not one of us and you will never be one of us". As ethnic prejudice goes, this is way worse than, say, drunk guys in night buses who scream that fucking foreigners never work for a living and always come here to live on welfare: in my experience the rednecks who like to stereotype you are usually willing to consider evidence to the contrary; the people who have a Vision of a Better World, unfortunately, are not. Not until you threaten to sue them for discrimination, anyway.

Brink of civil war: the great leap forward

That drinking game I suggested on Tuesday is bad - too much drinking.

But as long as you use very mind drink, add these:

One sip:

- media mentions that Gaza is on the brink of civil war.

Three sips:

- media mentions a three-state solution.

What's the deal with the "brink of civil war" or "risk of civil war" that everyone mentions, anyway? One could think that when the President's army and the Prime Minister's army are continuously shooting at each other, taking towns and bases from each other, shooting at peace demonstrations, killing YK employees, etc., it might mean that the civil war already has started, right?

Or maybe it's just their peace process.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our aim is unity government! Fire!

Hamas is currently attacking Fatah headquarters. Today both Ismail Haniya's and Mahmoud Abbas's apartments were shot with rocket-propelled grenades. Unfortulately neither one of the great leaders happened to be home.

Helsingin Sanomat reports that all this violence is endangering the work of the unity government. Somebody out there has a gift for understatement.

Although, judging from the track record, I'd say that all this violence is the work of the unity government.

I think there should be a unity government drinking game:

One sip:

- every time a truce starts,
- a truce ends,
- Hamas/Fatah fighters kill each other,
- Hamas/Fatah fighters kill an innocent bystander,
- Hamas/Fatah shoots rockets into Israel,
- Israel shoots back.

Two sips:

- shooting during a truce,
- shooting in a school/hospital/mosque,
- truce lasted less than half an hour,
- Hamas/Fatah shoot their own people by mistake,
- they shoot a person that media describes as a "leader",
- unsuccessful attack on Fatah's/Hamas's supreme leader.

Three sips:

- successful attack on Fatah's/Hamas's supreme leader,
- truce lased less than five minutes,
- some first-world country donates taxpayer money to one or both of the parties.

Whole bottle:

- two or more successful assasinations of Fatah's/Hamas's supreme leaders on the same day (whether the two leaders belong to opposite sides or the same).

Can you do it by yesterday?

When I am the queen of the world (yeah, right) and finally get to found my Boss Reeducation Camp, the first lesson there will be:


The offenders shall be publicly flogged and forced to buy a round of good beer for all the employees.

Multiculturalism: the good, the bad and the stupid

Much as I like to criticize multiculturalism, it was invented for a reason, or some form of it anyway. I am not talking about the obviously absurd idea that different cultures with different values can coexist in a society that considers their values to be equal, but about the idea that different cultures and representatives thereof can in general coexist in more or less the same place.

The idea that ethnic and cultural groups can live together or side-by-side peacefully started to spread after the WWII, although obviously there were countless examples of them doing so, peacefully or otherwise, throughout the human history.

At that point there was a lot of call for it in the Western world, what with WWI and WWII. People looked around, learned from experience, and said "shit, we have killed about 70 million of each other already this century, and kicked god knows how many out of their homes, maybe we should take a break?". They thought about it for a second (having learned more than one thing from experience) and said "ok, first let's kick the Germans minorities out, and then let's take a break". About 15 million of ethnic Germans got kicked out from wherever they lived, and everyone took a break, or at least everyone who was not occupied by communists.

I think that another contributing factor was that by that time everyone noticed that the many millions of various Europeans who immigrated to the US in the late 19th and early 20th century have totally failed to bring the country down, and assimilated quite well instead.

We (obviously speaking of the people who are critical of multiculturalism here) laugh when multiculturalists use the wide availability of various ethnic cuisines as the most commonly quoted benefit of multiculturalism (it's a safe and value-free choice, unlike, say, honor killings), but there are a lot of real benefits to the more tolerant approach to the different cultures that the West developed after WWII. Think about the fact that a war between Germany and France seems to be a rather absurd idea to anyone born after WWII. Or about the fact that some borders that were really bloody for centuries can now only be noticed by the change of your GSM operator. Or about how easy it is for you now to go to study or work in some other Western country.

The current refugee convention was also written after WWII, and for the obvious reasons. So many Europeans became refugees during the war that people wanted to ensure that there would be somewhere to run, just in case, and they did not consider admitting refugees to be a particularly high price for this kind of security.

Mass Muslim immigration into some European countries started in 1960s. The current sort of multiculturalism - the one that encourages immigrant groups to retain their cultural indentities - arose in the 1970s. I am not sure whether there is a causal relation. Probably not. Probably the generation who grew up with the idea that cultures can coexist peacefully somehow decided that it meant that all cultures can coexist peacefully.

The modern multiculturalism is based on a rather unrealistic view of human nature, and fails to answer two important questions:

1. Peaceful coexistence takes two. What do you do if the other culture does not wish to coexist peacefully?
2. What do you do if the other culture's values are absolutely incompatible with your own?

The actual answers that I have received to these questions were 1) try harder, all you need is love, and 2) but of course somebody will see the light and some kind of compromise can be achieved. This goes on the same lower cognitive shelf as "if the people just stop being selfish we will achieve communism" (labeled "jos tädillä olisi munat, se olisi setä").

Multiculturalism has outlived its use and its welcome. The useful lessons have been learned with its help; the new useful lessons are being learned in spite of it sticking fingers in its ears and screaming "la-la-la!". Different cultures coexisting peacefully is something everyone has already noticed, often to the extent that they take it for granted. Different cultures failing to coexist peacefully is an elephant in the living room that multiculturalists want to avoid talking about.

For most of the last century the Western world has been learning a lesson: different cultures can live together. The lesson was true, well-learned and very expensive. I am afraid that now we are learning the second part: "...but not all of them". I am afraid it will be expensive too. I have some idea of what the third part of the lesson might be, but I am not comfortable with discussing it in public.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Londonistan revisited

I used to think that Londonistan, in the sense of majority-Muslim and Islamic-ruled London, existed only in the differently sane heads of Al-Muhajiroun (may they rest in peace, and the sooner the better).

But now there is another differently sane (or differently-intelligent) person with a vision, and he explains his vision in TimeOut London. (via Dhimmi Watch)

It took me a while to decide whether the guy - his name is Michael Hodges - is serious or trolling. I finally decided that he is more likely to be serious, but I am not 100% sure. Not even 55% sure, in fact. I hope he is a troll. But hey, can I feed the troll just a little?

The man starts his article with a description of an Islamic execution in London in 2021. Then he stops halfway and says:

"Okay, not really - that's a hysterical, right-wing nightmare of a future Muslim London: where an cruel alien creed is forced on a liberal city. A society where women are second-class citizens, same sex relationships a crime and Sharia law enforces terrible public disfigurement and death. But the reality is a long, long way from this dark vision."

Errr... Are Al-Muhajiroun, technically speaking, right-wing? Here is a quote from them: "The Islamic judicial system would be implemented where adulterers would be stoned to death and thieves would have their hands cut. There would be no jury service or solicitors or barristers, rather Judges qualified in Islamic Law would preside over all cases and Judge according to God's law."

And what kind of hysterical paranoia could ever make a person imagine that in some Muslim society women might be second-class citizens, same sex relationships might be a crime and Sharia law might enforce terrible public disfigurement and death? Back to reality, you islamophobes!

After that our realist begins to list various advantages that Islam would bring to the city:

Public health: "On the surface, Islamic health doesn’t look good: the 2001 census showed that 24 per cent of Muslim women and 21 per cent of Muslim men suffered long-term illness and disability. But these are factors of social conditions rather than religion."

Education: "Presently, Muslim students perform less well than non-Muslim students. In inner London, 37 per cent of 16 to 24-year-old Muslims have no qualifications (the figure for the general population of the same age and location is 25 per cent). When it comes to university education the picture is equally gloomy: 16 to 24-year-old Muslims are half as likely to have degree level or above qualification than other inner London young people.

Again, social factors rather than religion have led to this state of affairs. Young Muslims in London are often of south Asian origin and therefore more likely to live in households where English is not the first language, more likely to encounter racism (both intentional and unintentional) during their education, and more likely to suffer from poverty and bad housing conditions."

As opposed to Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, of course, who never come from South Asia, always have English as their first language, never encounter any racism and therefore manage to get more degrees than Christians?

Food: "Application of halal (Arabic for ‘permissable’) dietary laws across London would free us at a stroke from our addiction to junk food, and the general adoption of a south Asian diet rich in fruit juice, rice and vegetables with occasional mutton or chicken would have a drastic effect on obesity, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders and associated public health problems."

The man lives in the UK (presumably) and has never been to a Pakistani fast food joint?

Note how problems with health and education are totally not the fault of religion, but of social conditions and culture, but the South Asian diet is suddenly an achievement of Islam.

Inter-faith relations (oh, dear...): "Hindus and Sikhs manage to live alongside a large Muslim population in India, so why not here?"

India is not ruled by Muslims. Has the guy ever tried to find out what happened to Hindus and Sikhs who tried to live alongside a large Muslim population in Pakistan?

Social justice: "Each Muslim is obliged to pay zakat, a welfare tax of 2.5 per cent of annual income, that is distributed to the poor and the needy."

What a novel idea! Somebody please explain this guy about the welfare state.

This better be a troll. Otherwise the guy is so dumb that he'd get a second place at a stupidity contest.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The fictional equal abilities

In the Western societies we have invented the fiction of races, sexes, ethnic groups, etc., having equal abilities, especially equal intelligence. This fiction is maintained by almost everybody (paradoxically, most fervently by the kind of folks who also strongly believe that neither intelligence nor IQ can be measured, making me wonder how these unmeasurable qualities can be considered equal).

This fiction has been invented because it has a very useful social function, especially in fairly individual-oriented societies: it encourages us to judge individuals as individuals and not as representatives of their race, sex, etc. It is a very useful fiction to maintain when hiring people, admitting them into schools, etc. Useful both for maintaining equal opportunity in society, and for the individuals in question.

It is, however, a fiction, in the sense of "an assumption of a possible thing as a fact irrespective of the question of its truth". We do not know it to be true. Any research in this matter is of necessity controversial, and often shows that it is not, in fact, true between some group A and group B, which then causes a scandal and accusations of sexism, racism, etc. It might well be true, too, for many particular values of A and B, but usually nobody really knows it. The Swedes of Finnish descent might well be equal in intelligence to Argentinians of Italian descent, but I find it highly unlikely that anybody has ever bothered to check.

The problem with this particular fiction is that nowadays a lot of people take it as The Truth - all available evidence to the contrary be damned - and everyone who doubts it as Nazis Who Are Already Warming Up The Ovens or, alternatively, Evil Sexists Who Plan To Keep Everyone Barefoot and Pregnant.

I think that it's a very good thing that every kind of social inequality between every group A and B is not immediately dismissed with "yeah, but A's are so much dumber, what do you expect?", but I find it unfortunate that in a lot of cases you can't even present the IQ or some other ability difference as one of the hypotheses, at least not in public and not without a major scandal.

There is one thing about all this that bothers me even more than the implications on the freedom of speech and the quality of research in social studies: do we, as a society, need this particular fiction in such a strong form at this point in history? This is not a rhetorical question - I really don't know. My gut feeling is "no, we don't", but I am nowhere near sure of it, and this might just be wishful thinking, because I find the implications of "yes, we do" rather unpleasant.

For all the sometimes-founded and sometimes-unfounded complaints of racism, sexism, etc., we are a rather egalitarian and individual-oriented society (the only exceptions being the result of either strong necessity or strong cultural tradition, and we are usually not comfortable even with those). Some of us dislike some group or other, but by and large even these people are usually capable of dealing with members of the disliked group on the individual basis in a civilized way. Most of the people who make hiring decisions are well aware that "group A is less intelligent that group B" does not usually mean "university X graduates from group A are less intelligent than university X graduates from group B". Etc., etc.

Will this all come unraveling if differences in abilities between various groups become acceptable to mention in public? I don't think so, but the thought is highly disturbing. I realize that the current orthodoxy is the result of the bad old times when people believed that all women, all blacks, etc. were incapable of holding a professional job, but haven't we moved far, far on since then?

Then again, maybe not.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Grrr... unfounded optimism sucks

Why did I come to work today, why?

That's what always happens: I get sick, I eat too much drugs with pseudoephedrine, the pseudoephedrine makes me imagine that I am OK while I am not, and I go to work high as a kite, with my nose dripping and my throat sore.

OTOH, I did manage to fix some bugs and would probably have been just as sick if I stayed home.

Commemorating WHAT?

On Sunday evening the late imam Khomeini was commemorated in Finland, in the Islamic Cultural Center in Helsinki.

Iran's Ambassador to Finland Reza Nazar-Ahari addressed the crowd on different aspects of Imam's life.

Oh, I can imagine those aspects:

- pedophilia: what does it feel like for a 27-year-old man to stick his dick into a 10-year-old girl,

- equality: as soon as the revolution is accomplished all other Iranian men are allowed to marry 9-year-old girls, too (aka "if it was good enough for my mother and wife..."),

- politics: how to use dumb leftists for your revolution and then fuck them over (compulsory for every revolutionary who wants to be successful),

- international relations: fuck diplomatic immunity,

- freedom of speech: "it's the duty of every Muslim to kill Rushdie",

- freedom of religion: "don't kill Jews or Christians as long as they are good dhimmis. Baha'i, on the other hand..."

- funeral: crowd nearly destroys coffin, wants to make sure that the man is really dead.

"In part of his speech, Nazar-Ahari said, "Imam's uprising was not against a special group or person, but it was against darkness." Imam reminded all Muslims, Shia and Sunni, of the necessity of awareness against cultural invasion, the ambassador added," - says the article.

Hmm, cultural invasion... Maybe Mr. Nazar-Ahari should address the Finnish people with this particular lecture? If he can discuss the concept of cultural invasion with Finnish multiculturalists, I would definitely like to attend the event.

Oh, no! Out of context again!

Marija Serifovic has been misunderstood and taken out of context. (This is unfortunately common nowadays, don't you find?) It might even in this particular case be true. This does not change the fact that a lot of other people say similar things, or that there would be a much bigger scandal if the joke were about, say, Senegal and black people.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"I don't like people with dark skin. In fact I despise them."

No, I am not showing my true racist face here. Just trying this statement for size, kinda. How does this sound to you?

(No, I don't despise people for their skin color. Or any other physical feature, for that matter. I do find some physical features of some ethnic groups much more attractive than corresponding physical features of some other ethnic groups, and I am quite open about it when I happen to be talking about sexual attractiveness, but I would hardly put it in the aforementioned form and say it at a press conference when asked how I liked my trip to some country. That, of course, is because I am a shining paragon of political correctness and not because I never get invited to press conferences where people ask me about my trips.)

Anyway, that's what Serbia's Eurovision winner Marija Serifovic said at a press conference last Friday, except that it was about white skin. According to a guy who claims to have been at that press conference, the exact words were "ne volim blede, plave i ljude sa providnom kozom, ustvari ne da ih ne volim nego ih prezirem". ("I don't like pale, blond and people with transparent skin, actually not only that I don't like them, I despise them").

Oh, dear... There is no sin in having sexual preferences based on skin or hair color, but one would think that Marija if anyone should understand that lack of sexual attraction should not turn into contempt for people, considering... (Yeah, I know this sounds catty, but seriously, it's hard to resist.)

Marija is unfortunately not alone. In fact I don't think I have ever heard a so-called civilized person, at least one who does not self-identify as a racist, disparage any skin colors besides white and red (of the kind that a very white-skinned person acquires when he or she spends too much time in the sun), but white and red seem to be fair game.

A couple of years ago a young white American woman who was visiting me here said "almost everyone is white here, it's so creepy". For a variety of reasons I did not try to talk sense into her, but she was exactly the kind of young woman who would never think of saying "almost everyone is black here, it's so creepy" in a black area, even though, like the overwhelming majority of white Americans, she most surely finds all-black neighborhoods somewhat creepy, for reasons not directly related to skin color. (You can say you find them, or some particular black neighborhood, somewhat creepy, but if you want to be polite you don't say "black", you say "inner-city".)

In the US disapproving of white or red skin usually has a bit of class overtone to it. I am not trying to condemn classist remarks here as such - most of the people who belong to educated classes do not think much of uneducated classes in general (with personal exceptions, of course) and make a rather poor job of concealing it - but I find it quite annoying that a lot of people say it both ways, managing to mention both "those trailer-trash rednecks who have to work in the sun while we sit in our air-conditioned offices" and "those pale fishbelly-white folks who have to spend their whole day in the office while we can afford some leasure at the beach" (the latter can be sometimes heard from the people who are lobster-red themselves after abusing said beach for way too long). That, again, from the people who would never-ever mention black skin as a predictor of class, although in the US black skin does in fact have a strong correlation with belonging to uneducated classes.

I seriously think we need a "white is beautiful" campaign. Not to say bad things about other people, including darker-skinned white people. Not to celebrate European or Central/North European heritage (nothing against celebrating it in general, just am not taking about it right now). Just an esthetic/sexual thing with lots of pictures of attractive scantily-clad white-skinned people (of all races that sometimes happen to have white skins, and of both sexes), and advertisement of sunscreen. The tolerant crowd might look at it with suspicion, but the dermatologists of the future will thank us.


Stockholm photos are here. Israel photos are here (they've been there for a while and I've linked to some of them but now all of them are there).

To people who complain about others putting up too many pictures instead of selecting the absolute best (I am not thinking of anyone specific, but such complaints are common): sorry. Some people, myself included, like to see all the pictures, or at least all the ones that are not totally fucked up. Besides, often I am too lazy to think which ones of the sets of pictures of the same thing are better. Sorry for the aggravation. But that's why I make galleries with thumbnails: so that I can take 10 pictures of, say, Gamla Stan from the west and put them up, and you can click on one of them if you want to see only one.

While we are on the photo gallery peeves: files without thumbnails or descriptive names are annoying, especially if they are big. Yeah, I know, I sometimes do that myself. Does not make it any better, though.

Zionist Aroma coffee reverse-engineered

I think I sort of managed to reverse-engineer the good coffee from the Aroma chain in Israel, or at least got it close enough for my own purposes:

150 ml hot espresso,
150 ml hot milk,
20-30 g chocolate, dissolved in that hot milk,
Whipped cream and cocoa powder to taste (that's the real cocoa powder, you infidels, and not any of those powdered cocoa drinks).

Hot ingredients go together, cream goes on top, cocoa goes on top of the cream.

Smoking bars and restaurants

Anu posted this link in my blog comments, but I think it should be repeated here: from Helsingin Sanomat, 01.06.07. There will be more added to this in the near future as the applications are being processed.

Ympäristökeskus will send you the list upon request, too.

The Stockholm ferries (or at least Isabella and Amorella) had those new enclosed smoking rooms already this weekend.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Life: Stockholm and flu

Had a great if somewhat tiring week: saw the new pirates movie, watched The Deadliest Catch with friends, had several game sessions and, last but certainly not least, went to Stockholm with Heli and spent all Saturday there hanging out with Tanya.

Gotta lure Tanya to Helsinki sometime this summer, or at least to Tallinn. Damn, I already miss her.

Feeling sick now. Figured that if a good night of sleep, a bucket of tea and a fistful of antihistamine does not cure it, I should call in sick. It didn't, and I did. Now my throat feels like somebody has used sandpaper in it, and I wanna stay in bed and drink tea all day, but instead gotta go outside and buy some food and lots of antihistamine. Blaah.

Friday, June 01, 2007

No smoking, finally

Hurrah! Finally smoking has been banned in the restaurants in Finland.

(For those who would like to appeal to my sense of justice and my belief in freedom of choice: behold my profound lack of caring. When one's own high-priority interests are at stake, people - myself, in any case - tend to shove the ideals where the sun don't shine.)

Some of the restaurants that have made the repairs required by the previous smoking law will be allowed to keep their smoking sections for two years.

I have asked Ympäristökeskus to publish the list of the restaurants that will be allowed to keep the smoking section. Hopefully they will. If they won't - does anyone else keep/compile such a list, and if not, is anybody interested in compiling such a list? If I don't find an existing list I will start compiling one myself, and contributions are very welcome.

According to Helsingin Sanomat at least Grand Casino, Suomalainen Klubi, Sir Eino, Michelle and König have received the permission to keep their smoking sections.

For me this would obviously be a boycott list, but I am sure smokers would have another use for it. In either case this is pretty useful information.