Thursday, March 31, 2011

Domestic violence as a disciplinary method

There is quite a lot of conversation in many places about a number of candidates saying that they think pulling children's hair as a disciplinary method should be acceptable.

Mostly it's about the morals of it, but I'll add my not-so-moral two cents: no matter what opinion one holds about organized violence's role in society, one-on-one violence is quite unpredictable and often leads to unintended outcomes. Even if the other person is considerably smaller than you, there is a serious risk that an entirely wrong person will end up getting an entirely unintended educational experience.

If the other person is a child, and you are an adult, you are bound by law, some degree of common sense, and awareness of medical consequences, whereas their understanding of all of the above might be a bit deficient.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The police is here to protect you

Last week I saw the photos of some young people trying to protect a Romanian Gypsy camp from eviction and carrying a banner saying "fuck the cops", and it made me wonder: do those people not realize that the police exists to protect them from me?

Well, obviously in this particular situation the police is doing something they don't happen to like, and those young people don't consider me much of a threat (and rightly so, since I am not likely to do much except laugh at them here), but do they ever actually try to imagine the world without police? A place without a police force would have a lot of private security services, mostly paid for by middle-class and middle-aged people, and much more biased towards their interests than the police.

The same thought also comes to my mind every time I see some disadvantaged group rioting against the police and other state services: if you think that a security force owned by voters is bad, just wait till you see a security force owned by payers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WTF is wrong with me?

Don't seem to have any energy for anything. Bugger if I know why.

As far as I can see I am not sick, not particularly overworked, not depressed, not sad, have a normal appetite and normal libido and am sociable in a normal way... just don't seem to get anything done except work and the absolutely necessary stuff at home.

Food doesn't help, rest doesn't help, relaxation doesn't help, alcohol doesn't help, caffeine doesn't help, avoiding alcohol doesn't help, avoiding caffeine... well, is out of question...

I so need a vacation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Näkemiin, Umayya Abu-Hanna

Umayya Abu-Hanna has left Finland and lives in Amsterdam now, and many people here are saying "good riddance".

I don't really understand why. I am sure she doesn't rape neighbors in the bushes, or beat people up in sausage kiosk lines, or piss on the stairs, or do anything similarly outrageous. As far as the neighbors go, she is probably no more objectionable than an average urban 50-year-old. I might disagree with her politics, but she is a Finnish citizen and entitled to vote here, no matter where she is. And the part about her that makes most of the ill-wishers say "good riddance" - the multiculturalism-related articles that she produces with the help of various Finnish grants - well, if you think you've seen the last of that, just fucking think again. She is writing some multiculturalism-related book on some Finnish foundation's money over there.

Anyway, may she live in a place she best enjoys, I don't think it really makes a difference to anyone else. I kind of fell sorry for the woman. I normally don't like to analyze strangers' motives, and correct me if I am wrong, but I am having trouble believing that she really dislikes Finland as much as she says. Every time I read any of her articles, (I haven't read the books - maybe I should) the words "sour grapes" come to mind.

When bright young girls like herself come to a country that they don't enjoy, they tend to move elsewhere. Considering the free university education and the citizenship easily available at the time to a partner of a Finnish citizen, she could've been a doctor or an engineer in the Netherlands or in UK for more than 20 years now. Instead... well, she chose a profession that is quite amazingly Finland-specific. Very few native-born Finns have professions that are quite as Finland-specific as hers. She is a journalist and a writer who writes for and about Finns, and a Finnish politician.

And she is or was quite integrated into the Finnish society, at least the part of it that writes articles on multiculturalism and runs as Green party candidates. (Those of you who think that being a Green multiculturalist makes one a lesser Finn - I think Finland has had a rather unpleasant discussion on the topic of whether one's political opponents are lesser citizens, some 93 years ago, let's not go into it again, OK?)

It appears she didn't achieve her objectives as a politician and as a cultural diversity coordinator. Maybe she simply wasn't good enough. Maybe she was too different. Maybe she was too much of a foreigner. I don't know. What I do know is that she picked one of the few professions where being an immigrant really does make a difference. Maybe she didn't know it at the time, she was quite young.

Whatever. May she enjoy the canals and the rijsttaffel and whatever. But I think other immigrants should take this as a lesson: if you want to be accepted as a Finn in your career, don't pick a career where part of your job description is being a foreigner.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Apart from bitching about the weather, been to Berlin with on a company-sponsored trip and a mini-vacation.

This was my first time in Berlin, and I must say it was livelier and more enjoyable than any other German city I'd seen. (My experience so far had been limited to Munich, Frankfurt, Regensburg, Saarbrücken and Karlsruhe.)

A picture (or 147 of them) is worth a thousand words.

The place is a mix of rather pleasant parts of both neoclassical and post-war Vienna, the rather ugly parts (ok, they were all ugly) of Brezhnev-era St. Petersburg, Belle Époque Paris and bits and pieces of Amsterdam. It also looks like it has really nice little parks in summer.

Some observations:

- I don't like neoclassicism in general, and Berlin doesn't have the best examples of it.
- Kurfürstendamm is lovely. I heard it called the Champs-Élysées of Berlin, but it's closer to Saint-Germain in the 6th, or rue de Rivoli somewhere in Marais.
- Reichstag is huge. The museums are also so huge that you are afraid to go in, knowing that you'll die from exhaustion before even getting to impressionists, expressionists and whatever other sionists they have had in relatively recent times.
- In spite of that we went to the historical museum and had a good time,
- Food is better than elsewhere in Germany, and cheaper, too. They also have woodruff beer called Berliner Weisse.
- The hotels are weird. They think that twin beds need to be put together, don't have locks on toilet doors, and charge ridiculous sums for the internet. Park Inn had a delicious breakfast, and a shower with glass walls. Go figure.
- More people speak English in Berlin than elsewhere in Germany.
- The difference between the east and the west is still quite obvious for the most part.
- Neue Synagogue is much better from the outside than from the inside.
- Berlin has good pastries and really good hot chocolate. Vienna should drop on its collective knees and scream "we are not worthy"!
- The shadow of the wall is still impressive, where it was allowed to remain.
- The history seems to be a heavier burden there than in the rest of Germany.
- Pfannkuchen doesn't mean pancakes, as my father has always said, but donuts.

Woodruff beer was pretty good (if any Russians are reading this, think тархун: a different plant but a similar flavor), even if I was the only one who liked it.

Their handling of the history is a bit heavy on the Nazis, which is understandable but still, they did have other history too. The history museum is not so Nazi-flavored. I also liked it that they speak about the Jews in a sensible way, as "people who lived here and did this-and-that", not primarily as "people whom we killed, bad, bad us!"

Some coworkers asked me whether being in Berlin is emotional for me. At first I assumed they meant the wall, but they turned out to mean the Holocaust. I was sort of surprised - the Holocaust is an emotional topic for me but I'd never thought of it as a Berlin-specific thing.

The wall, on the other hand, is Berlin-specific (in the rest of East Germany they had even higher walls, that's why people preferred the one in Berlin). It was an emotional thing too, and I noticed that the question of what happened to the people who shot the fleeing easterners, and those who ordered to shoot, is rarely raised.

Interesting place. I guess I gotta come back in summer, for a longer time than now. I'd say "Ich komme", but I'd probably be misunderstood.

I still ain't dead

Not on vacation, either, and not even grossly overworked or madly in love. It's just that the winter got to me. Every time I tried to sit down to blog it came out as "I hate the fucking winter!", "bugger the snow!" or "the summer is never gonna come and we are all gonna die!", with a sprinkling of "today I fell again and now I have another bruise on my ass!".

And I can't even sing "esi-isät olisivat voineet valita aurinkoisemman maan", for obvious reasons. Huh.