Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Here we go again...

Israel has run out of patience and is striking Gaza. Not surprising really. People do get a bit miffed after about 100 mortar shells and Qassam rockets fall on their country. (No, that's not during 2007 and 2008. That's during the Christmas Eve and Christmas day.)

As always in such moments, I am wondering what a normal country would do about something like that. For example, if Qassam rockets were continuously being shot into Finland from Estonia (yeah, I know they don't really have the range), at which point Vanhanen would stop apologizing and start doing simple electoral math, for example figuring out that most voters are located on this side of the border?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The dicks and the League for Human Rights

Ihmisoikeusliitto (Finnish League for Human Rights) wants a law permitting boys' circumcision and making it available through the public health care system.

This is the League for Human Rights, not against them. Right? Let me check again. Right.

I would have thought that on the general scale of human rights the right to keep one's own body parts would rate fairly high, and the right to cut off somebody else's comparatively low, but I guess the League for Human Rights thinks otherwise. Silly me.

But first a bit about the facts:

1. The circumcision debates list all kinds of benefits and drawbacks to the procedure, but if you start to look at the studies you can see that they are all pretty inconclusive either way. The bottom line is, in the words of the American Medical Association, that "virtually all current policy statements from specialty societies and medical organizations do not recommend routine neonatal circumcision". I don't think the case should be argued on any medical merits.

2. In Finland there is no law concerning circumcision, and for a long time there was no legal precedent, either. Circumcision has been tolerated for as long as there has been a Jewish and a Muslim community, who traditionally did it among themselves without demanding anything from the public health care system, and circumcision became the subject of public discussion with the current Muslim immigration. The new immigrants understandably consider it their right to do what the established minorities have been doing for about 150 years, but often can't afford it on their own.

In 2008 the Supreme Court decided that religious circumcision is not a crime as long as it's done in a proper medical way.

But the court of course decides what the law is, not what it should be.

3. Most importantly, no country in the civilized world bans male circumcision, and our brave leaders don't want to be the first.

Back to Finnish League for Human Rights' statement.

The arguments for a law permitting and funding circumcision are ridiculous. The League for Human Rights says they don't believe that there would be any fewer circumcisions if the procedure is forbidden than there is now, and expresses concern that if circumcision is forbidden the people will turn to medically unsafe practitioners.

As a Jew, I find the implications very insulting. We are fairly law-abiding people, fairly well aware of various human rights concerns, and for the most part not very fanatically religious. Moreover, while I am most decidedly not a fan of Islam, I - unlike, apparently, the Finnish League for Human Rights - don't think that they are all criminal fanatics, either.

There is a precedent: circumcision wasn't outright forbidden in the ex-USSR, but it was made quite difficult. And guess what: most Jews there didn't do it.

For those who would circumcise their sons no matter what there are other ways to discourage dangerous methods without permitting the procedure. First of all, there is such thing as medically necessary circumcision, and I think at least some of those people will find a sympathetic doctor. Second, one way of dealing with it would be to make medically sound non-medical circumcision a fairly minor crime (battery, for example, or even minor battery) and make a medically unsound circumcision an aggravated battery, for which parents can actually go to prison.

Banning circumcision won't get rid of it completely. But if people who want to circumcise their sons will need to find a sympathetic doctor, or a sympathetic country, and possibly get a fine and/or a suspended sentence when caught, at least everyone who is in doubt or who is just doing it because it's a tradition will stop doing it. It's worth a try.

As to being the first: there used to be a time when it was legal almost everywhere to rape one's wife or to beat one's children. Finland wasn't the first country to ban those either, but doesn't it wish it were?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

May he who has never done anything stupid throw the first shoe

Iraqi journalist Muntazar al-Zaidi has thrown both his shoes at George Bush, for which he was beaten up by security guards, and is facing up to seven years in jail for "offending the head of a foreign state."

Damn. Hope they don't give the same sentence for verbal offenses, or else the whole country is soon in jail.

All I can say is that if you start throwing shoes at idiots you'll run out of shoes a lot faster than you'll run out of idiots.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"The evildoers shat in my pants!"

There was a joke in Russia: a general comes home from a party complaining about some lieutenant: "lieutenant X stole my slice of cake, broke my chair, took away the lady with whom I was talking..."

After the general has undressed his servant points out: "Sir, that bastard lieutenant X has also shat in your pants".

Accusing other people figuratively of shitting into one's own pants is a fairly common rhetorical device among politicians, but only Honorary Doctor of Laws (Moscow University, and many others) Robert Mugabe has managed to do it almost literally.

According to his information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is "genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British" and "a calculated, racist, terrorist attack on Zimbabwe".

In an unprecedented move Zimbabwean government even decided to start paying salary to doctors and nurses, even in hard currency, but they have rejected the lucrative offer of $200 and $60 a month respectively.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Haven't been writing much. Had a lot of work at work lately, and a lot of social life, been to a huge student organization party, a group birthday party and an Independence day party in a row. Also have totally forgotten what sleep is, and still have a bit of a flu.

Been playing with immigration-related statistics, too, and thinking too much on the current immigration topics. Probably will write on them soon though it would be fun to write about something else for a change.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008


The conversation about immigration is everywhere nowadays, and a lot of people are yelling at each other without bothering to check the facts. I decided that some kind of a page that lists statistics sources would be in order, and started one. It's in Finnish, but some of the links it lists have an English version.

If anybody wants to build a bigger and better one, or put this in some sort of wiki, feel free. If anybody wants me to add something to it, feel free to email me, but I am not promising that it will happen fast.

No, I don't wanna know what her real name is

I have just deleted a comment where an anonymous commenter is threatening to reveal an anonymous blogger's real name. Any other comments of the similar kind will naturally be deleted as soon as I see them.

The commenter's IP address was, if this is useful to anyone.