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Finland for Thought » 2006 » March | 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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27.3.2006

Early favourite for Finnish Left Alliance leader says to bow out

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:59 am

“Ms Ojala, widely respected by the party ranks, also said she would not stand in the 2007 parliamentary elections at her Helsinki constituency.”

Finland may send staff officers to EU mission to secure elections in unstable Congo

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:54 am

“This is a typical new type of operation that we can get used to in the future”

Report: Working while studying not biggest reason for delayed graduation

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:53 am

“Inability to plan studies connected with poor achievements”

Contractors for small home repairs hard to find in Helsinki region

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:52 am

“Companies interested in larger contracts”

Finnish-fuelled “Lord of the Rings” is magnificent stage spectacle

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:52 am

“It is neither a play nor a musical as such, but something between the two.”

26.3.2006

The War on Tequila in the Nanny State of Texas

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 9:36 pm

An interesting piece of news popped through the “News of the Weird” filter. Usually I go there to find news on Finland, but Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission surely must have read some 1950′s Finnish ALKO handbook to accomplish this:

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) — Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication,

Of course this sounds like a lazy-ass sheriff just filling his quota easily, but they do have a public safety issue as the reason:
“There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they’re intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car,” Beck said. “People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss.”

OK, what gives? I mean people can do that if they drink at home. Granted, drunk driving is a problem when you don’t have much if any public transport, but what if you’re with friends and have a driver or are going to call a cab.

And then y’all claim Finland is a nanny-state?

PS. Note guys this is Hank W. writing as a Guest and not Phil. 

Support Finnish Conscientious Objectors

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 2:21 pm

Because of the extremely high costs of the Finnish welfare state, the authorities force Finland’s male population into slavery. If you don’t want to join the army or spend over a year in civil service, men with guns haul your ass off to jail.

In a free society, military service would be voluntary and and the volunteers would be paid – but the state lacks funds for this due to our taxes which are wasted on thousands of frivilous state programmes (opera anyone?), so enslaving Finnish boys with the threat of jailtime becomes a viable option. Even George Bush isn’t totalitarian enough to suggest something this insane, I couldn’t even imagine how Americans would react to a proposal such as this.

Topi L. has sent me some interesting links concerning Finnish conscription. Check out the “Support Finnish Conscientious Objectors” page at MotherEarth.com, also check out their recent questionaire to the Finnish Presidential candidates (both in English). And here’s a blog of a conscientious objector writing about his experience in prison (in Finnish). And here’s an article (in English) from a Harri Soinila lashing out against conscription, but for different reasons than I give.

Being a foreigner, I’ll never have to submit to the Finnish slavery, I’ll be sure to apply for citizenship after age 34 (I believe that’s the age). But I’ve often thought about any future sons I might have – What will I advise them to do? I predict that our generation will finally put an end to conscription in Finland, but if it’s still around, I think burning the Finnish passport (and relying on just the American passport) might be the best solution.

My proposal to conscription is simple: Pay the soldiers and do not force them to join…just like every other job in Finland. I will welcome the tax hikes.

Finland still has a very extensive compulsory military service system. The alternative civilian service is up to twice as long as the most common length of military service, and the rights of civilian servants are not respected. For this reason, Amnesty International considers the alternative service to be a punishment, and has adopted many imprisoned Finnish conscientious objectors as “prisoners of conscience”. Their only “crime” is refusing to carry a gun, and refusing to train to kill and be killed.

The fact that a country such as Finland – which prides itself on having a good human rights record – is criticised in this way should become a major issue in the forthcoming Finnish presidential election.

Finnish opera summed up

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:42 pm

I think Finland for Thought reader, Toby, summed up Finnish opera quite nicely…

…People can keep saying that ‘everyone love the opera’ as much as they want, but clearly not enough people love to fill all performances even with subsidised tickets. [...] Anyone with intellectual honesty must admit that the reason why opera is heavily subsidised is identity politics: because the type of people who have influence over where that money goes feel that Opera is important for the nations cultural life. There is a certain, small-country, post-colonial legacy in Finland where elites have for generations promoted high culture because there is a fear that Finland would otherwise be seen as a rural poor backwater of Europe that it used to be.

People can talk about ‘dumbing-down’, ‘mid-brow’, or whatever other insults they want but the slums of the US gave the world jazz, an art form of equal validity to opera. You could say the same for dour Northern English cities and the Beatles.

I can understand people’s deep love for Opera, but I find it just incomprehensible that they then expect other people to subsidise it whilst they they belittle other people’s interests…

Scientology snail mail spam in my mailbox

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:40 am

Did anyone else go to get their Sunday morning Hesari and find a pamphlet from the “Citizens Comission on Human Rights“? I started reading it, they were ranting about how psychiatry is hurting our nation’s artists. Immediately I thought, “This is scientology mumbo jumbo” and sure enough, it was from them.

So what’s the big deal with psychiatry? Why do the scientologists have a problem with it? And they feel their magic theta stick thing will cure all?

25.3.2006

Nordic walking around the U.S.

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:21 pm

I bet it’s an olympic sport by 2012…

When a Finnish ski-pole maker wanted to sell more poles, it didn’t pray for snow: It created a new fitness activity in which people use their ski poles to walk year-round on perfectly dry trails, even on city streets.
Article Tools

Now the company, Exel Oyj, has its eye on spreading Nordic walking to a whole new market — the United States — and it has set up shop in Vermont to make it happen.

Devotees of the sport, which uses specially modified poles, swear Nordic walking burns more calories than regular walking, and uses more muscle groups.

Some powerful companies are betting it can succeed. Reebok is selling a special Nordic walking shoe, while L.L. Bean is featuring the sport on the cover of its 2006 women’s spring clothing catalogue. (For shoppers curious about the photo of the happy-looking woman holding poles, L.L. Bean tells them, ”Did you know that you can get more mileage from your walking workout by adding Nordic poles?”)

Hat Tip to Charlie S. for the link!

24.3.2006

Ministry of Education and Phil are disappointed in Finnish National Opera

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 3:35 pm

Looks like opera singers don’t make great accountants, and seems that we taxpayers will be bailing them out…

The Ministry of Education, which is responsible for the state appropriations to the Finnish National Opera, regards the situation of the establishment as very serious. In four weeks, the Opera will have to explain how they are going to make up their losses over the past year of EUR 1.8 million.

The deficit of EUR 1.8 million was a big disappointment to the Ministry, as a lot has been invested in the National Opera in recent years, and a great deal of effort has been made to support its finances.

Screw the opera, let them figure it out themselves. Did the state subsidize Depeche Mode’s recent tour to Finland? Than why should the state subsidize some fat guy singing in Italian for a bunch of upper class Finns?!

Why are Finnish students delaying graduation?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 3:22 pm

A researcher is trying to figure out why Finnish students are delaying their graduation

The staggering and dragging on of studies is a problem for at least a third of the university students who register as being enrolled on degree courses. The findings of the research emphasise the importance of tutoring and support as well as study skills.

The students themselves are mainly responsible for the flow of their studies, but also the university administration, personnel, student tutors, and the general atmosphere play a part in assisting the students in motivation and committing themselves to their studies, especially at the beginning.

…how about not having to want to leave the student life and enter the real world? I know that this is true for many American students. Their whole lives they’ve had a track set out for them: study. When school is over they’re all on their own. It can be quite scary for many.

In Finland, students are presented with so many benefits by the state. Free tuition, free food, free housing, free spending money, student discounts. Once you’re done, you quickly lose all these luxaries and have to join the massive amount of unemployed Finnish youth. If you’re lucky you can take that master’s degree and become a waiter. Finnish students are treated like Kings and Queens, but as soon as you leave student life you drop to the bottom of the class ladder. I wouldn’t want to graduate either!

France is on fire, again

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:00 am

So now it’s the white people’s turn to riot

france_riots.jpg

23.3.2006

Drug use leads to fines

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:26 pm

Small baby steps in the right direction for Finland. Research says that drug use is a health concern rather than a criminal concern for the courts. I’d argue that it’s a personal concern over everything else. Should we force the occasional drinker or tobacco smoker into rehab? Than why should we do it for marijuana smokers?

In 2000, a year before the introduction of the amendment, there were 8,172 convictions for drug abuse, whereas in 2004 the corresponding figure was 11,755. The increase in the number of convictions was 44 percent, while – according to police resources – drug-related crime only increased by eight percent in the same time period. The most common penalty for personal drug abuse is a fine. Most of the fines are written by the police.

The National Research Institute of Legal Policy suggests that emphasis should be laid on directing drug users to seek counselling and therapy. Between 2001 and 2003, in all the cases where charges were dropped there were only 178 referrals to seek treatment. According to the recent reports by Office of the Prosecutor General, the number of cases where drug offenders have sought treatment has dropped dramatically in recent years.

Hey commenters of this blog…

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:13 pm

…did the comment problem stop? Or are you still often seeing someone else’s name in the box when you go to write a comment? I turned off my caching plugin which may be the culprit.

Also, there’s always a few comments each day which accidently get caught in my anti-spam filters. I could install one of those plugins where you have to type in the mystery code before making a comment. They’re annoying though. But it would most likely put an end to comments accidently getting caught. What do you guys think?

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