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Finland for Thought » 2005 » July | Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & the United States | Blog of an American living in Finland

Finland for Thought
             Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & United States

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Kartanonkoski, hip and trendy

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:43 pm

This evening, YLE2 had a small segment on the Helsinki area’s most talked about neighborhood, Kartanonkoski (I think Jakomäki was #2 on my fake survey). It’s a new residential housing block located just over the Helsinki border in Vantaa, near Jumbo mall. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it, most either love it or hate it.

The Kartanonkoski project began in 1998, when the City of Vantaa held a contest for the planning of a garden village. This concept is taken from British city planners of the 1890 s, who suggested that buildings should not be square or rectangular, but shaped instead like half-moons, or curves. They also maintained that residential areas should be lined with green areas, and plenty of trees.

The winner of the contest was the Swedish firm, DjurgÃ¥rdstadens Arkitekter. The urban structure they proposed for Kartanonkoski closely follows this concept. The neighborhoods consist of blocks of flats, townhouses and detached houses, with colorful facades, arranged along curving streets. And throughout this green neighborhood are protected gardens and parks, day care centers, schools and playgrounds. Another unique aspect that gives the area a distinctly new appearance is the location of parking spaces, in the immediate vicinity of buildings.

Sounds nice from the builder’s website, but when I toured it, all I saw were a bunch of tiny houses and apartments all squeezed in like sardines. Your front yard was the street, your back yard was the parking lot. It felt very stuffy in there with absolutely zero privacy.

The site which is built on looks as if they just leveled the entire area rather than building in between the nature (but maybe it was just a field to start with?). I couldn’t find any useful shops within the vicinity except for some gardening stores – Jumbo mall is a bit of a hike away. The rush hour traffic in that area is atrocious, it seems as if they built all these apartments without first building the necessary infrastructure.

And from what I’ve heard, these houses ain’t cheap for what they are and since its been dubbed a “trendy” neighborhood, you’ll be paying even more so you can brag to your friends about where you live (My #1 tip for purchasing a house in Finland is stay clear of those “trendy” neighborhoods and save yourself a fortune). Being that Finland is so “neighborhood oriented” compared to the U.S., I have found that the neighborhood you live in is more of a status symbol than it is in the U.S.

Well, at least the houses are nicer than these new pastel/sherbert colored Barbiedoll houses that are popping up everywhere. I dunno, I just really love these a bit older neighborhoods where they actually attempted to blend them in with the nature.

So what do you think – Kartanonkoski – love it or hate it?
This post is brought to you by the Espoo Homeowners Association ;-)

Gang shootout in Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:38 pm

An almost daily occurance in my hometown of Baltimore, but rare here in Finland

A gang fight in the Sörnäinen area of Helsinki escalated into a gun battle that injured two people. Two gang members were taken to hospital with gun wounds, but are in not serious condition.

The fight broke out between members of the Bandidos and Rogues Gallery motorcycle gang near the Sörnäinen metro stop. The square was full of people at the time, many of whom were outside at nearby bar terraces. Nonetheless no bystanders were injured.

Police have arrested two men, and questioned a dozen others. Witnesses say that as many as seven shots may have been fired from pistols. The last one [gang shootout] was five years ago in Lahti, that resulted in the deaths of three gang members.


Green Party Presidential Candidate responds on Finland for Thought…

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:54 pm

A couple weeks ago I criticized Presidential Candidate, Heidi Hautala, and the Green Party for proposing to hurt the poor and help the wealthy by increasing car taxes and focusing on small apartments rather than single-family homes. Well Heidi, demostrating her belief in “openess in politics”, has responded…

I am delighted to see that my colleague Oras and I have managed to generate a rather good debate on transport of persons! – Firstly, I´d like to answer the question marks about my own modes of transport. I live in the city center & do not have a driver´s licence.I find possessing a car a shere economic madness (parking place in the hall under my house costs 150 EUR/month). I walk, ride my bike, use public transport and taxis. I do regret sometimes that I do not have licence to drive if I need to get around in the countryside.

Read the rest of Heidi’s response…

UPDATE: She responds once more! Her English is flawless, sounds like she’d make a fine President for Finland on an international level.


U.S. Teachers’ salaries

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:59 pm

Finland’s schools are #1 in the world – but are Finnish teachers properly rewarded for their dedication and hard work? U.S. public schools are constantly under criticism, yet teachers seem to be doing quite well financially. Here’s the Top 5 average teacher salary states with benefits included…

California – average salary: $56,283 + $15,759 benefits = $72,042 total salary
Connecticut – average salary: $55,367 + $14,949 benefits = $70,316 total salary
New Jersey – average salary: $54,158 + $16,247 benefits = $70,405 total salary
Michigan – average salary: $53,563 + $20,354 benefits = $73,917 total salary
New York – average salary: $53,017 + $15,375 benefits = $68,392 total salary

Stats from NEA website, census bureau public education finances 2003, and Reason magazine

Three more shows that need to come to Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:19 am

Here’s three more TV shows that need to come to Finland

1. HBO’s “Entourage” – Some people have described this as “Sex in the City for men”, but I hated Sex in the City but love this show. Here’s a description from the website, “the hit comedy series executive produced by Mark Wahlberg that takes a look at the day-to-day life of Vincent (Vince) Chase, a hot young actor in modern-day Hollywood, and his entourage. He’s brought with him from their hometown in Queens, NY: manager Eric, half-brother Drama, and friend Turtle.”

2. FOX’s “The Family Guy” – After three seasons it was taken off the air, but thanks to Nickelodeon’s late-night “Adult Swim” and rampant internet piracy, they’re back. Fans of The Simpsons will love this.

3. FOX’s “American Dad” – From the same crew that does “The Family Guy”, this is a new adult-oriented animated show that focuses on political comedy. The dad in the show is a white, upper-middle class, SUV-driving, gun-loving, Republican CIA employee. The daughter is a hippy left-winger, the wife is a dumb blond, there’s an effeminate alien living in the house, and a talking German fish named Klaus. It’s awesome. Fans of “The Daily Show” and Simpsons will love this.


Finnish families with children not keeping up with the Jones’s

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:55 pm

Couples are fairing well since 1990, single-parent households are not

Single-parent households emerge as a group of their own with distinctively worse income development. The incomes of couples with two children have grown by 14 per cent from 1990, but the growth of income of single-parent households lags behind at 5 per cent.

And the welfare state haven’t been keeping up to the times on social benefits for women…

social benefits have been created for a world of the past where women, too, entered the work force at the age of 25 after having completed their studies. Thus they had ample time to gather enough service years to entitle them to income-related maternity benefits. Now, more and more mothers are left with only minimum-level benefits.

And here’s a distressing statistic…

Unemployment and temping are most common among the young. In 2003, 58 per cent of women aged 20-22 and 31 per cent of women aged 25-34 had fixed-term work contracts.

Ouch! So much for feminism, female workers’ solidarity, and all that noise – in Finland.


Lessons from the North

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 6:33 pm

You gotta check out this piece from the European e-zine “Cafe Babel” about the Nordic welfare states in a segment titled, “Lessons from the North” – Be sure to read Johnny Munkhammar’s piece where he explains that the “Scandinavian model is not all it’s cracked up to be.”

Economic stagnation, an ageing population and neo-liberalism are threatening welfare states across Europe. Would the adoption of a Scandinavian“style system cure all our ills, or is it a model itself in need of treatment?

Failed States Index

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 6:17 pm

Which are the most unstable nations in the world? Check out the first annual “Failed States Index“. Roughly two billion people live in countries that are in danger of collapse. Some countries rankings: Ivory Coast #1, Iraq #4, Somalia #5, Afghanistan #11, North Korea #13, Pakistan #34, Ukraine #38, Belarus #43, Saudia Arabia #45, Turkey #49, Iran #57, Cuba #58, Russia #59 – Here’s the top 20:

Link via Johan Norberg’s blog


Hands-free equally unsafe

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:12 am

Finnish law requires you to use a hands-free device when driving and talking on your mobile phone. Why? Cause it’s safer of course!! Err, maybe not – according to Forbes and the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety…

The study, which used cell phone billing records and interviews with crash victims to form the basis for its data, also found that generally, weather played a nearly non-existent role, and that there was no distinction between hands-free and hand-held cell phones.

“This isn’t intuitive. You’d think using a hands-free phone would be less distracting, so it wouldn’t increase crash risk as much as using a hand-held phone. But we found that either phone type increased the risk,” said Anne McCartt, IIHS Vice President for Research and an author of the study.

…in fact, I’d think that hands-free is even more dangerous. Plugging in those pesky things can be difficult, especially when behind the wheel – bluetooth devices don’t make it any easier. You could say, “Well plug it in before you get in the car”, but in reality, people aren’t going to do this.

So the state of Ohio are urging people not to use a phone at all in the car, but rather “Just Drive” – And how will they promote this new campaign? With distracting and potentially dangerous roadside billboards of course..!

Through its billboards positioned on Ohio roadways, 21st’s “Just Drive” campaign encourages drivers to avoid common distractions such as using portable electronic devices, eating or talking on a cell phone while driving.


SDP on immigration

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:44 pm

What’s the only difference between SDP’s view on refugees versus the True Finns view on refugees? The True Finns are at least honest about their opinions. Finnish interior minister, Kari Rajamäki (SDP), says

“Finland must move from an active refugee policy to an active and work-based immigration policy. This policy must also enjoy the acceptance of the citizens,”

Is he implying here that refugees aren’t ready work, and aren’t ever going to be in the near future?

Because of the shrinking labour force due to an aging population, new ways of servicing welfare society are to be sought, added the minister.

I’ve never liked this attitude towards immigration. He’s basically saying, “We need to keep our little welfare state utopia, we couldn’t possibly cut any public services, so we’ll need to import foreigners to drive our buses, sweep our sidewalks, and clean our toilets so we Finns can continue to enjoy our short work weeks and long vacation time which we’ve come to expect.” …And if it wasn’t for Finland’s shrinking labour force, we’d close our borders and keep all those damn foreigners out!

“Although more and more foreigners will be needed in Finland, one must at the same time remember to take care of internal security.”

Internal security? Like not letting too many foreigners in because we don’t want terrorists or ghettos? If I were to say, “I don’t want any of those dark skinned people in my neighborhood cause I’ll feel insecure!!” – you’d call me a racist, right? But what is it when a politician essentially says, “We don’t want any of those dark sinned people in our country cause we’ll feel insecure!!” ??


Quote of the Day

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:24 pm

From The Daily Show discussing Tuesday’s Supreme Court nominee by George Bush..

Jon Stewart: “What’s been the reaction in Washington?”

Ed Helms: “Jon, liberals have been outraged by Bush’s choice – they have been for weeks.”

Jon Stewart: “Ed, they just found out about Roberts last night…”

Ed Helms: “That’s not the point. The left wishes the President picked someone they wanted, not someone he wanted…”

Wait one second…!

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 6:45 pm


Democrats blew it

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 6:10 pm

Sitting around bitching about the U.S. Patriot Act has become a national pastime for Democrats. Yesterday, Congress voted on renewing the Patriot Act, Democrats had an opportunity to put a big wrench in the Republican-led Patriot Act wheel – and they of course failed. Congress voted to extend the Patriot Act (well, most of it) indefinitely…

After more than nine hours of debate, the House approved the measure 257-171. Forty-three Democrats joined 214 Republicans in voting to renew key provisions of the Patriot Act that were set to expire at the end of the year.

Republican – 214-14-3
Democratic – 43-156-3
Independent – 0-1-0
TOTALS - 257-171-6

Kudos to those Republicans (like my fav congressman, Ron Paul. And Roscoe Bartlett from my mother’s district) who broke rank and took a stand. Shame on those 43 Democrats who bent over.

Political contributions form the stars

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:40 pm

Find out what political contributions Celebrities, Billionaires, Sports Stars, Media Stars, Business Executives, and Politicians have made.

Link via Newmark’s Door

Pimp Vanhanen

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:55 pm

Damn, first Tanja Karpela than this? He’s like the Bill Clinton of Finland

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen says he was warned that the tabloids would publish reports of an alleged extramarital affair. This week a woman claiming to have had a long affair with the prime minister sold her story to the Seitsemän Päivää tabloid.

In a statement to the daily papers Iltasanomat and Iltalehti, Vanhanen said that the same woman contacted him before the interview and tried to influence him in some way. He gave no details, but said he did not respond to offer.

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