Sunday, March 30, 2008

Community standards

When I was young we used to rent a summer place in a town named Solnechnoye (Ollila for those of you whom Russians chased out of there during the WWII). It was a very typical resort town, consisting of summer cottages, and with a huge beach. There were maybe a 1000 people living there all year round, 5000 people living there in summer, and 10000 people present there on the beach on every sunny summer weekend.

There was a paved path from the beach to a narrow highway, a grocery store and an ice cream kiosk on the other side, and a tiny road from there to the railway station. That was about it.

Like in all the Russian beach resort towns and all of the western ones I've seen, the swimsuit-clad people tended to go to the kiosk to buy ice cream.

One nice summer day I went there too, as usual. In a swimsuit. I was 12. OK, I also had D-sized breasts. (This probably explains a lot about my personality. One reason I don't believe the slogan "violence has never solved everything" is that for a 12-year-old with D-sized breasts violence solves quite a lot.)

When I was crossing the street a cop suddenly grabbed my arm.

"Where are you going? Are you not ashamed of yourself?"

The answer to that was obviously "no", but I knew better than to talk back to a cop.

"I am just going to get some ice cream!"
"No, you are not! You are wearing a swimsuit! If you want ice cream get back to the beach and put your clothes on!"
"But we always buy ice cream in swimsuits! It doesn't bother anyone."
"You are offending the community standards!"

During this exchange about 50 of the community safely crossed the street behind his back. Every single one of them was wearing a swimsuit. About a 100 more of the swimsuit-clad community giggled at us from the kiosk line. There was about 300 people in sight, and not a single one of them was dressed, apart from the officer.

"Where are you going?" he grabbed two young men in swimming trunks.
"To get some ice cream."
"If you want ice cream get back to the beach and put your clothes on! You are offending the community standards!"
"Er, dude," said one of them, whose mother clearly didn't teach him not to talk to cops, "if we are all in swimsuits and you are the only one dressed, aren't you the one offending the community standards?"

I never heard the end of this conversation, because I figured this was a good moment to go away and cross the highway 50 meters down the road. I joined the huge kiosk line, and continued watching the lone warrior for the community standards from there. He was totally overwhelmed by the community and its standards, but not giving up. It was a poignant sight, and highly symbolic of the whole country.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In a bar: cheery Russians and sad-eyed Leo

Went to a movie (10000 BC, was OK but nothing special) and a bar with a friend yesterday.

At some point I heard some Russians sitting next to us discussing me. It happens every once in a while; I usually ignore it. At some point, however, "I know her from somewhere" - "I think it was the linguistics department" - "no, I think it was the computer science department" intrigued me, and I realized that these might be the people who actually do know me. After this brilliant deduction I turned to look at them, and they introduced themselves, turning out to be a Sasha who has met me in the linguistics department, and a Viktor who was one of my student in the CS department.

"Do you know everyone in every bar?" asked Kimmo, the guy with whom I was drinking. This is not really the case, but his statistical sample seems to suggest that it is.

The Russians asked us to watch their stuff while they went for a smoke, came back, started a most absurdly funny linguistics discussion (which I didn't join for fear of boring Kimmo to death), addressed me in Russian in the polite plural (the last time anyone has done that to me was 24 years ago when a cop grabbed me for being too scantily dressed and insulting the community standards, but that is a whole different story), bought us some drinks, raised them with a very loud "L'Chaim!", suddenly got very angry at the guard at the door for some reason, and ran away.

A little while later a guy with sad eyes came up. "May I sit with you?" he asked. "For a while, if you behave youself," we said.

The sad-eyed guy was called Leo. He turned out to work in the same place where Kimmo was in the army, and they talked about the army things to the extent that made me slightly regret not joining the linguistics discussion earlier.

When Kimmo went to get himself another beer, Leo changed the subject.

"I really like your breasts. You have very big breasts," he said, with the same glow of a brave discoverer that Einstein must have had after figuring out the theory of relativity.

After realizing a second too late that "thanks, you too" might be a wrong answer, I added "thanks for the information, I'll keep it in mind". Leo got a bit defensive and tried to explain that this is a good thing.

Kimmo came back with his beer, and Leo changed the subject again. "Have you thought of going to a barber?" he asked Kimmo, whose hair is quite a bit past his shoulders. Kimmo answered that he had given short hair enough of a try, so no, the answer is "no". I suppressed the natural "man, have you looked in a mirror lately? You really shouldn't be giving people hairstyling advice", and settled for a polite "but men are so much sexier when they have long hair," looking rather pointedly at Leo's 1-centimeter-short hair.
"I don't know about that," said Leo, clearly trying to think what kind of men he might consider sexy and coming up short, "but I sure love receiving blow jobs from people with long hair".
"I don't think Kimmo would give you a blow job. Sorry."

After that Leo decided to change the subject again, to politics. Now, I don't generally consider it rude to discuss politics with total strangers, but I think you should start in softer tones, even if you are expressing extreme views. "Kokoomus are the fascist party" is a somewhat ill-advised start for a bar conversation, especially in an electoral district where it is the most popular party.
"Not really, but they are way too Social-Democratic," said Kimmo. Leo looked at him as if he had just grown horns.
"I've voted for Perussuomalaiset," said Kimmo.
"I'll probably vote for them next time around," I said.

Leo looked at us with eyes that were more terrified than sad and ran away, saying that he needed to go to the next place. Hope he didn't see too many nightmares.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Valtionsyyttäjäkin on eläin

Tänään Espoon käräjäoikeus tuomitsi Mikko Ellilän kiihottamisesta kansanryhmää vastaan 60:een päiväsakkoon, ja määräsi hänet poistamaan tämän kirjoituksen blogistaan.

Ilta-Sanomien mukaan oikeus oli sitä mieltä että ihmisryhmien ominaisuuksista tai maahanmuuttopolitiikasta on oltava oikeus esittää kärkeviä ja erilaisia käsityksiä, mutta Ellilän lausunnot olivat "selkeän panettelevia ja solvaavia" ja loukkasivat heidän ihmisarvoaan (afrikkalaisten, oletan). Tai, Hesarin mukaan, "mies on kirjoittanut väitteet blogiinsa vain panettelu- ja solvaamistarkoituksessa".

Hmm. Ellilä kieltämättä kirjoittaa aika epäkohteliaasti, sekä tässä tapauksessa että muutenkin. Voiko tästä kuitenkin päätellä että tämä artikkeli on kirjoitettu vain ja ainoastaan panettelu- ja solvaamistarkoituksessa? Silloinhan voidaan melkein sanoa että koko mies on olemassa vain panettelu- ja solvaamistarkoituksessa. Onko siis vapaus esittää kärkeviä ja erilaisia käsityksiä, niin maahanmuuttopolitiikasta kuin muistakin asioista, tarkoitettu vain ihmisille joita on siunattu paremmilla sosiaalisilla taidoilla kuin Ellilää?

En ole lainoppinut, enkä oikeastaan tiedä kuinka laillista tai laitonta voi olla ihmisen tuomitseminen siitä, että hän ilmaisee itseään rumasti niinkin herkästä asiasta kuin rotu, ja muutenkin kuulostaa ilkeältä. Sen sen sijaan tiedän, että ainoa asia mihin hän kirjoituksessaan varsinaisesti kiihotti - tai kehotti - oli afrikkalaisten maahanmuuton vähentäminen. Mikä on sinänsä vain eräs käsitys maahanmuuttopolitiikasta.

Hesarin artikkeli myös väittää, että hän vertaa oikeuden mielestä halventavalla tavalla afrikkalaisia eläimeen. "Halventavalla tavalla" on tässä tapauksessa aika olennainen seikka, koska afrikkalainenhan on eläin, kuten kaikki muutkin ihmiset.

Ellilän omassa tekstissä lukee "ihminen on kuitenkin eläin, homo sapiens", minkä luulisi lakanneen olemasta solvaava ja panetteleva tieto jo aikoja sitten.

En nyt jaksa kirjoittaa tästä sen enempää ennen kuin olen lukenut sen oikeudenpäätöksen, mutta Matias Turkkilan raportti oikeudenkäynnistä oli aika mielenkiintoinen, suostittelen kaikille asiasta kiinnostuneille.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hooligans for Islam, part N

Abu Bakar Bashir, the Indonesian Islamic cleric best known for his participation in 2002 Bali bombing conspiracy, opened his mouth again, this time in an address to an Islamic youth organization near the home village of convicted Bali bombers Amrozi and Mukhlas.

In his sermon he compares the tourists in Bali to worms, snakes and maggots, and he also urges the Islamist youth to beat up foreigners and infidels. In East Java, where he was speaking, it is probably easy, because nobody in their right mind goes there. In Bali it might be a bad idea, what with 95% of population being infidels.

"If there were infidels here, just beat them up. Do not tolerate them." (There are in fact some Hindus in East Java.) If there is hell, I hope Abu Bakar Bashir will get there very soon, and get to hear all the lectures on tolerance that have been given in the Western world for the last 40 year. In a permanent loop. For all eternity.

"The youth movement here must aspire to a martyrdom death," said the cleric. "The young must be first at the front line - don't hide at the back. You must be at the front, die as martyrs and all your sins will be forgiven. This is how to achieve forgiveness."

Oh well. The man himself is 69, so he understandably wants to present the heroic martyrdom as something that young people should do, and that he himself is a bit too old for. It's hard to stop wondering how he managed to fail to achieve the glorious martyrdom in his own youth, though. I mean, it's not like he just found Allah in his old age. He was a Islamic youth activist when he was young.

On the other hand this article, which predicts a Muslim majority in Brussels in 15-20 years, mentions 65-year-old Abdullah Abu Abdulaziz Bastin (né Jean-François Bastin), who founded an Islamic Youth party 4 years ago, so maybe a true Islamist is forever young at heart?

In this case we can only wish Abu Bakar Bashir a most glorious martyrdom, as long as it doesn't kill or injure any innocent bystanders.

I often wonder how many of those young Muslims who listen to all this bullshit wonder why the guys who urge them to die young tend to be in their fifties and sixties.

The Belgian government

Belgium has a government now. Took them only 9 months and 10 days.

They seem to be pretty quiet on the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde issue, as well as on most other minor issues, such as the budget or absence thereof, but they promise to be for everything good and against everything bad, and to boost the confidence in government. Who would have thought...

Long time no blog

Too much partying is bad for blogging. Didn't have a single bloggable thought over the weekend, but had a very good time.

Other things that are bad for blogging are bugs (both of the software and common cold kind) and the final sessions of two RPG campaigns.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Personal violations

Some recent conversations about school meals and whether or not they should be obligatory made me wonder whether or not I value my physical self-determination more than most people (it certainly seems so), and if yes, why - or rather why don't many other people value theirs as much - and to what extents does the culture affect the attitudes towards it.

It seems like our society (probably all the Western societies, including Eastern Europe), and probably many others, considers a sexual assault a very serious violation of a person, but many other intrusions on a person's physical privacy much less so. I sort of understand the historical background for it, it's the people's current emotional reactions that are hard to understand.

I am not saying this to say that rape is not a serious crime - I'd rather other forms of assault be taken more seriously, too.

The reason I am writing this post is that I don't take personal violation lightly - and every time the subject comes up I keep running into people saying things like "but surely this cannot be that serious?". I can understand that for them it isn't (people can and do forgive some personal violations under some circumstances, and I have done so myself), but for me it is, and I am sort of surprised at their surprise.

To take one simple example, on the emotional level I don't see much difference between people trying to forcibly stuff unwanted penises and unwanted food into my mouth. It's my mouth, dammit. I decide what goes into it. If you try to physically override my decision - well, you just might get that fork in your eye. The law might well disagree, which I am sure will be a great consolation to your disembodied soul.

We had some obligatory meals in the daycare (you wouldn't believe what these people tried to make me eat, but luckily the actual violence was rather mild on both parts) and in theory in the first three grades in school. My first semester of the first grade was spent with every lunch break in the lunchroom, the teacher telling me that we are not leaving until I eat whatever is on my plate, and me pointing out that I am not in a hurry to get anywhere, and the class is not likely to start with her in the lunchroom anyway. After the first semester she gave up and banished me from the lunchroom to the great satisfaction of all the parties involved.

Anyway - when I hear Finnish people's rather numerous stories about being forced to eat in school I always wonder why they didn't employ this simple strategy, but I wonder even more about those who make those policies. Don't they understand that some percentage of people affected by them consider this a personal violation? Or don't they care? Or am I really that far out on this?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ihre Papiere, bitte!

The police has started checking the legality of foreign-looking people in public places, and it has caused a lot of passionate response, both for and against.

I am not very passionate about it either way, but can anyone explain to me how the hell is the damn thing supposed to work? There is no obligation to carry ID in Finland; people are, however, obliged to say who they are if the police asks them, and then the police can try to check this out through some database (I assume the population register database) using their social security number.

Now, there are people who have a social security number. They are almost always citizens and legal residents, although there are very few illegals among them (former legal residents who failed to renew their legal residence). And then there are people who don't have a social security number: illegals and tourists, and also very short-term legal residents and newly arrived legal residents who haven't got a social security number yet.

The question is, how is the police supposed to distinguish the tourists from the illegals? The tourists don't have to have an ID with them. The police probably has access to the database of tourists who have visas, and possibly have access to the database of visa-free tourists who entered Finland directly from a non-Schengen country. I am not sure they have a database of all non-Schengen tourists currently legally within the Schengen area, and I am absolutely sure they don't have a database of all the Schengen residents who happen to be visiting Finland at the moment. So, are they just hunting the illegals who are too dumb to say "I am a tourist"?

A few days ago HS polled its readers on the question of "may the police ask for passports of foreign-looking people in the streets?". The question was somewhat strange in this context because a) this is not what the police was planning on doing, and b) nobody is expected to carry a passport with them at all times, and I think few people do.

(In the unlikely event they meant "should we make a law obliging foreigners to carry their passports with them at all times, and then can the police ask for them", my answer would be certainly not - a passport is an unwieldy thing to carry, and the police should damn better be satisfied with the driver's license they themselves have given me. I don't, however, have strong opinions one way or another on the laws that require everybody to carry some sort of an ID, whether they concern everybody, or foreigners, or people who don't have a Finnish social security number.)

Anyway, I suspect I am about to get the answer to my question. The police checked out two nightclubs last night. They checked 59 people, and took 9 of them to the police station to find out their identity and status.

9 out of 59 is a very disturbing number. It might of course mean that 9 out of 59 were really illegal aliens too stupid to pretend to be tourists, or that they told police to bugger off, or that they were simply unconscious to begin with. But it is also fairly likely to be the number of people who did not have any papers on them.

If - and it's still an "if" - the police is really dragging every foreign-looking person without papers to the station, it does, in fact, mean that you have to carry an ID with you at all time. And while it's not necessarily a bad thing in principle, it shouldn't be up to the police to decide. We have that thing here, called Eduskunta. It makes laws. If you want a new law about carrying ID, please ask them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hardware upgrade during a flu

To anyone who might have been wondering about my absence from irc and web forums, the blog not being updated, and my being unresponsive to email: I ain't dead, but bad flu and a broken computer at home were sure a bad combination.

On the brighter side, I finally understood what people mean when they talk about muscle aches during a flu. On Monday I felt hung over in spite of not having drunk anything on Sunday, and all my muscles hurt, especially the ass and lower back. By Tuesday afternoon I realized that I have spent most of the day in bed without having done anything about the computer hardware upgrade in progress, which in my book doesn't even count as sick, but rather as dead and buried.

But anyway, now I am mostly up from the dead, but tired and sleepy and my nose is bright red. The computer works, though, and I also assembled another one from the extra parts. I've always dreamed of having a computer in the toilet; probably should buy a monitor.

The motherboard that my father has sent me (ECS NForce 570 Slit-A) turned out to be deader than Lenin. You know there is something wrong when the thing doesn't even say "beep" on bootup and rotates the fans at the wrong moments. So I bought a Asus P5K Intel P35, which beeped and generally behaved.

Note to self: next time, before you take the old computer apart, use it to create an installation CD. More particularly, make sure that the installation CD you have just burned actually works. Mine turned out to be corrupted.

I had another installation CD, made during the dark times when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and cavemen beat each other over the heads with AMD Socket 939 motherboards. It was too ancient to recognize my dvd drive. The damn thing had a hell of a nerve, telling me that I don't have a CD drive while sitting in that drive. Ugh.

Finally I got an installation CD, the newest Debian stable (I am not gonna tell you whether I had to sell my soul to the devil for that, or my body to the entire Debian project, or to assemble yet another computer).

The first install (and several others) failed, apparently because Debian is not fond of small partitions nowadays. The disk had 5Gb for /, 15 Gb for /usr and another 5Gb for /var, and the install kept trying to write past the end of the partitions. Once I combined them all into one 25Gb partition the thing started working.

Then it turned out not to have any drivers for the onboard LAN. I have a large collection of PCI Ethernet cards around the place, so I just stuck one in. It utterly and completely refused to work on account of IRQ conflicts. IRQ conflicts are a sort of black magic to me, so I performed all kinds of rain dances known to me, setting kernel options to noapic and noacpi, trying to reassign the irq, etc. Nothing worked. Then I remembered that I have an ancient laptop and a USB stick, and simply downloaded a newer kernel (2.6.22-3). Worked like a charm, the onboard LAN started working, and we lived almost happily ever after. "Almost", because the motherfuckingboard had no PS/2 connector for a mouse, and the separate connector I had was evil. I bought a new USB mouse and everything started working fine, except that it glows bright blue for no apparent reason.

I am usually very suspicious of NVidia video cards (my father sent me one of those too) and their drivers, but this one (GeForce 7300 GT) worked with the nv driver with no trouble at all.

Friday, March 07, 2008

At any price!

Lately there have been a lot of people saying that child pornography is the absolute evil and children should be protected at any price. Absolutely at any price.

I totally understand the feeling. There are a lot of things I'd like to do at any price, especially if the price is going to be paid by somebody else. I am always looking for volunteers for my "get Vera a free beer at any price" project.

Jokes aside, there have been already a lot of people trying to explain why the price (secret censorship) would be too high. I'd like to concentrate on what would be purchased.

Do any of the "save the children at any price"-people ever stop to think what exactly they would be getting at any price? I don't even mean all the ways in which the censorship doesn't work - I mean the hypothetical case in which it would, in fact work to block all the web pages in question from all the people who would like to see them from Finland.

Let's also assume that we are talking about the real clear-cut cases of child pornography, consisting of photos and videos of clearly underage children engaging in sexual acts.

By the time the Finnish viewer is seeing the child porn, the act of child abuse has obviously already happened. Somebody has for example had sex with a child and videotaped it. You can't protect this particular child from this particular event anymore. If the owner of the webpage puts child porn there with purely charitable intentions for the other pedophiles to see, the Finnish viewer is not really even contributing anything to the perpetuation of such crimes. However, if the child porn website is either charging the viewer for porn or lives by selling advertisement space, the Finnish viewer is bringing it some money and therefore encouraging creation of more child porn.

Now for the interesting question: how many users of child porn are there in Finland? Is there an estimate anywhere? Surely Suvi Linden must have at least some idea of the order of magnitude of this terrible problem. Somehow, I have never seen it mentioned anywhere. (I mean the actual users of child porn, not the people who just went through the police's list in order to count the child porn sites, and not the people who just generally jerk off to various legal pictures of children.) How many Finns use real child porn? How many of those contribute to it financially? How many of those do so on the web, as opposed to Usenet and mailing lists?

I'd like Linden to put an actual number to it, or at least an order of magnitude. As in, "we have created a secret censorship system in order to prevent the flow of N euros per year from Finland to the world's child porn industry". At least we'd know how much money we'd be diverting from child pornography at any price.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Got a new modem from Verkkokauppa today. When I brought it there last week they said they were gonna try to fix it, but obviously they failed, so I got a new one.

The modem used to die for unknown reasons, and need to be reset by hand, which is not fun when I am not at home, and not even when I am. Last Thursday a reset did not help, and I took the damn thing back to the store.

Now I got a new one, with a note saying that the old one works fine, but they changed it just in case. The new one seems to work fine, too.

The weirdest thing seems to be that I used to be unable to access from home, and used to wonder whether the problem was with this site, my ISP, or my network settings. The funny thing is that it turned out to be the modem. The new one accesses just fine, with the exact same settings.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


The comments on the yesterday's post about hangovers made me wonder: how many people always get a hangover when they drink a lot?

I usually only get somewhat dehydrated and hungry and feel like it's hotter in the room than it actually is. Debilitating splitting-headache hangovers are quite rare, and when they happen they are not a result of drinking more than usually, but of some other circumstances, most often prior dehydration.

When I drink too much or too fast, which is also rare but happens more often than a severe hangover, I usually get sick immediately, and am quite fine by the next morning.

These evil pussyless demonstrators!

Reading Helsingin Sanomat web forums are usually bad for a person's sanity, even under the best of circumstances. I am not sure why I occasionally do so, but my theory is that it happens when my blood pressure is too low and I need to get it up a little.

Some of the debate about yesterday's anti-censorship demonstration was just unbelievable. Yes, I know that some people have a room-temperature IQ. Even in Celsius degrees. But this is going into the realm of the outside temperatures. In Helsinki. In March.

Besides the usual "but think about the children!" and "I don't understand what's wrong with censorship" and "you are all probably pedophiles anyway", there was a number of people who accused the demonstrators of having no pussy.

Yes, they were quite serious. Some of them meant that the demonstrators had no pussy of their own, and some of them meant that the demonstrators were unable to find any owner of a pussy to have sex with. The implication, I suppose, was that either a) having a pussy of one's own would make a demonstrator a person of a higher moral order, who would have the sense not to demonstrate against censorship, or b) having access to somebody else's pussy would drop the censorship down on a demonstrator's list of priorities. Real pussy-owners don't go to anti-censorship demonstrations, you know. A number of women mentioned that they were there, but it did not stop several people from claiming that there were no women.

Yes, I was there, and there was a number of other women. At home I checked my pussy, just in case. It didn't fall off, and seems to be in good working order.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hangover at work

Now that the Hospital District of Etelä-Pohjanmaa has decided to fire everyone who shows up at work drunk or hung over, there seems to be some kind of debate on whether this is too much, and whether one should be allowed to work while hung over.

It's pretty much self-evident to me that this depends on the job they are doing. A floor sweeper or a system administrator can usually work when slightly drunk or hung over. A surgeon, better not.

Defining and proving a hangover is a bit hard, but that's not really the point. IMO the interesting point here is not so much that the Hospital District doesn't want hungover people at work, but that they want those people to take an unpaid day off, as opposed to a sick day.

What exactly is it that makes a hangover something other than a sickness in these and many other people's opinion? That it is self-inflicted? Well, guess what: half of my colds, and probably also those of other people, are self-inflicted and happen because I decided to hang out with some friend in spite of knowing that the friend has a cold. Probably more than half of my food poisonings happen due to my failure to check that the food I eat contains the one ingredient that causes me food poisoning symptoms. A lot of burns and broken bones happen because people are being careless.

Seriously: I understand that employers don't approve of employees making themselves sick. I just don't think it's an employer's business to define that some ways of making oneself sick (for example visiting sick relatives) is acceptable, whereas another (drinking) is immoral and therefore can't be considered real sickness.

One obvious difference between self-inflicted hangover and self-inflicted cold, however, is the former's potential for high frequency. There is only so many cold viruses going around during the same year, and only so many times you can get a cold in a given year. You can, in theory, be hungover every day.

While IMO it's not an employer's business to tell the employee the acceptable ways of getting sick, I think that the question of how much of self-inflicted sickness an employer should have to tolerate is not nearly as clear, and I don't have even an approximate answer. Forget the hangovers and the social stigma of alcohol abuse - what is an employer supposed to do, for example, about an employee who does some dangerous sports in a way that keeps him or her home with injuries one-third of the time?

Monday, March 03, 2008

"...and another 110% of us will vote for Lukashenka..."

Back in the old USSR all kinds of industrial and regional leaders took up various obligations that were supposed to exceed the official expectations of their superiors: "we were told to produce N tons of steel? we promise to produce 110% of it!".

I wonder whether anybody has told the next generation that this does sound a bit peculiar when applied to voting, as in "I promise that 100% of people in my region will vote for the candidate X".

On a related note: I noticed that a lot of people seem to believe that in the USSR people were somehow threatened with consequences if they did not vote the way the Party wanted. This was certainly not the case, at least not in my time. The voting was done in booths and nobody threatened anybody. This only difference between the Soviet election and a real election was that there was only one candidate on the ballot.