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Finland for Thought » 2007 » January | 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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And find out more about me: www.philschwarzmann.com



Non-Finnish speaker in Finnish Idols semi-finals

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:04 pm

Help me out here cause I’m not a Idols watcher – The guy to the right is Ruslanas Kirilkinas, born in Lithuanian, now living in Finland, he has just made it to the semi-finals of Finnish Idols. But here’s the catch, he doesn’t speak Finnish, his interviews are done in English. There’s been controversy as to whether he should be allowed to continue or not. (am I correct so far?)

So far, so good. I guess if they wanted to disqualify him, they should have done it at the beginning. I remember a couple years ago there was a contestant auditioning for the show in Tampere, I believe he was from the UK, they thanked him but told him he needed to speak Finnish. So I guess the rules have changed? Interesting predicament they’re in – Is Finnish Idols about the language, or citizenship, or residency, or? What would happen if a Swedish-speaking Finn who didn’t speak Finnish tried out for the show?

Oh, and if I’m reading this correctly, he’s been in [gay] Lithuanian pornos (click here to see)? Awesome. I think I’ll start watching the show and cheer for Ruslanas! Go Ruslanas Go!! Who’s with me? :-)

Plagiarism at Finnish Eurovision?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:44 pm

A few days old, but – There were some allegations of plagiarism in this year’s Finnish Eurovision competition. It’s been ruled that it’s not plagiarism, and it certainly doesn’t sound like plagiarism to me, but see for yourself…

Singer Katra was chosen to go through to the next round of competition with her song “Tietäjä”, composed by Risto Asikainen. However, were suspicions that this song had borrowed too heavily from a piece called “Jillian” by Dutch metal band Within Temptation.

The bone of contention was the dramatic introduction and the refrain, which sounds similar to the 2004 hard rock hit “Jillian”.

The similarity was underscored by the fact that bands adhere to the conventions of the same musical genre: both songs are performed by metal bands with operatic female vocalists and the heavy percussion and bass emblematic of the style.

Hat Tip to Annette S. for the link!


The History of Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:03 pm

American historian, Jason Lavery, has published a new book English-language on Finnish history entitled, “The History of Finland”. A brave man to be commenting on Finnish history as an outsider, especially history during wartime. And I think this little jab from Helsingin Sanomat kinda exemplifies this…

On questions of Finnish culture, the economy, and demographic history, his presentation dwindles to being something of a catalogue. His bibliographical notes demonstrate that the writer has acquainted himself with the latest research on the history of Finland.

The book also contains a few minor errors and inaccuracies. These include the characterisation of the result of the Continuation War, which was itself described in a rather competent manner, as a capitulation by Finland, and by referring to Tarja Halonen, who has been active in the Settlement Movement, as being an open atheist.

Can’t wait to get my hands on Jason’s new book. You can find more about him and his work at www.history-of-finland.com. Jason will be an upcoming guest on Radio Free Finland.


Radio Free Finland tonight: David Cord of ScandinavianFinance.com

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:50 am

Tonight at 21.00 (GMT +2) on Radio Free Finland I’ll be joined by David Cord, Managing Director of the Investment Services division of Fundior AB, and author of the blog, ScandinavianFinance.com. He’ll be on to discuss Scandinavian finance, the Finnish economy, and a whole lot more. Be sure to tune-in tonight for the live interview!

David J. Cord worked for over eight years as a financial advisor in one of the largest asset managers in America. In America his clientele consisted of high net worth and mass affluent individuals and families. In 2005 he married a Finn and moved to Helsinki, Finland. He is now the Managing Director of the Investment Services division of Fundior AB (publ). Fundior is a financial and insurance services group based in Sweden with a presence throughout the European Economic Area. In his spare time David enjoys being with his wife Niina and dog Orion. He is a huge history buff and has long studied various aspects of the Roman Empire and ancient Scandinavia.

UPDATE: Fantastic show! We discussed the Finnish economy, taxation, retirement, saving strategies, housing costs, U.S. economic trends, and much more. Here’s the podcast…

Download the show in MP3 format at 64kbps (20.5 MB – 43:05)

Poor people get worse health care than the middle class and wealthy

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:36 am

No surprise here, private healthcare is much much better than public healthcare…

Poor people get worse health care than the middle class and wealthy, even in Finland’s welfare state. This is according to research conducted by the OECD.

A patient’s income affects the quality of health care in Finland more than it does in other industrialized nations. The problem is more acute only in Portugal and the United States.

[...]Public health care centres, on the other hand may be far away, involve long lines, and result in some fees – all of which may deter someone in need of health care.

Wow! Finland’s healthcare class gap is on par with the U.S.!!


Assisting with your financial troubles – Public vs. Private

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:16 pm

Nowadays you can get a loan over SMS. Simply send a text message and BAM!! …you get a few hundred or even thousand euros. The interest rates are high, but it’s understandable considering the high risk they take on. From The Ovi via Scandinavian Finance

The quick loans are what really get me, this idea in Finland that has been around now for about a year. They are so easy and they do not check out if you can even pay it, all you need is a mobile phone, a Finnish address and ID number, and then the money is all yours.

Just text all this information to the company and within 10 minutes 100€, 200€ or up 300€ could be yours. You get 30 days to pay it back, with 25% interest added. So gone are the days when the young could not go out because they were low on cash because now they can now get it in advance.

During the summer this year, a company called hetilaina.fi, had ads everywhere you looked: Buses, bus stops, billboards and more…they went on a crazy marketing campaign. However, the great thing about this company is that they give you 13 months to pay back and you can borrow up to 2000€ and the interest on that is 19%.

Wow, ain’t technology and a free market just great? It might save you from losing your house, car, or gambling fingers. Score one for the private sector!

Now here’s the Finnish public sector’s solution to your financial troubles…

The Consumer Agency Money and Debt Advisor services took on board 15,580 new clients last year. This was slightly less than a year earlier, but then again there was also a minor cutback in the funding. This year, slightly more money has been allocated to the operation.

The queueing time varies. In the Helsinki area, one may have to wait for two months to get an appointment.

Sorry but your mortgage bank, car dealership, or bookie probably won’t give you another two month extension. I think getting booked on the Dr. Phil show takes less than that!

Phil’s tips on choosing a web host

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:55 pm

I’ve had websites online for six years now and have been through about six web hosts – the shortest lasting one week, longest lasting maybe two years. I’ve had shared hosting, virtual dedicated hosting, and dedicated hosting – so I have a bit of experience. Surfing online for a good web host is like surfing online for good erectile-dysfunction or penis-enlargement pills, you’ll just get flooded with bullshit and lies. So here’s some tips…

1. They all suck – This is the sad truth. Anyone who runs a site with high traffic knows this. They’re all misleading on their websites and won’t deliver on their promises. If your livelihood depends on your website, you’ll need to spend thousands a month for a company that treats you like a real client. Not to start off sounding pompous but, if you’re saying to yourself “My web host is great!” you’re either a new client or your sites don’t receive that much traffic.

2. Never pay more than one month in advance – Trust me on this one. Never pay in advance. Never choose a web host that forces you to pay more than one month in advance. When they get your money, they’ll never give it back. And one day, you’re gonna have a beef with your host, and you’re gonna want to quickly leave.

3. Get shared hosting – Start off with an inexpensive shared hosting plan, for two reasons 1) Upgrading to a bigger server is easy, downgrading is difficult. They’ll bend over backwards to get more of your money, but won’t be too willing to take less of your money. Even if you think you get so much traffic you’ll need a bigger server, start off small. 2) If you’re on a shared plan, you share your server with dozens, if not hundreds of others. When there’s a problem with your server, 100 of their clients are angry. When there’s a problem with your dedicated serer, only one of their clients are angry.

4. Investigate the company – Only trust well-respected companies (but they still suck). Do research on the company, read other customer’s complaints. If a site is giving web host recommendations, make sure they’re a respected companies, there’s web host review sites out there that give out phony reviews for a profit. Try out their support e-mail and phone contacts, see how long they take to respond.

5. Forums & blogs are plus – When you find a company you’re interested in, make sure they have public forums and an official blog, look for complaints from members. If you don’t see any, bad sign, they’re probably filtering out any negative messages.

6. They always blame everything on someone else – You’ll never get an apology from them, they’ll always blame your account’s problem on something or someone (like your ISP or registrar) that’s out of their control. A denial-of-service attack is a popular one cause they can’t control them, and they can’t stop them. If they say your account is receiving DoS attack, be suspicious. Typical IT-support bullshit, they’re always quick to blame it on everyone else just to get you off the phone.

7. You’ll never get a refund – Read the fine print of your refund, most likely you’ll never get one. Anytime something happens to your account, they’ll pull a #6, then they don’t have to give you a refund.

8. 24/7 support is just front-line – All sites promise 24/7 support, right? Well that’s just “front-line” support. It’s just one retard who answers the phone and if your problem is anything more difficult than “How do I setup my e-mail?”, the support ticket gets passed on to bigger retards, but these retards work Monday-Friday, 9-5.

9. You’ll probably know right away that they suck – Transferring your sites from one server to another is a goddamn nightmare, there’s a good chance you’ll have some difficulties (make sure you have two overlapping accounts for a few weeks so you have time to migrate and work out the kinks) and will need their support right away and they’ll quickly show their true colors. Find a web host that offers a 30-day no-questions-asked money-back-guarantee (including setup costs!!).


Finnish expressions translated into English

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:39 pm

Hat Tip to Jaakko P. for the image! From Helsingin Sanomat NYT-liite.


Norway declares Apple’s iTunes illegal

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:53 pm

This is ridiculous. And Finland has backed Norway’s stance…

Apple was dealt a blow in Europe on Wednesday when Norway’s powerful consumer ombudsman ruled that its iTunes online music store was illegal because it did not allow downloaded songs to be played on rival technology companies’ devices.

The decision is the first time any jurisdiction has concluded iTunes breaks its consumer protection laws and could prompt other European countries to review the situation.

The ombudsman has set a deadline of October 1 for the Apple to make its codes available to other technology companies so that it abides by Norwegian law. If it fails to do so, it will be taken to court, fined and eventually closed down.

Should laws be passed against denying the atrocities of Stalin and Mao?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:28 pm

Interesting question from Petteri Tuohinen of Helsingin Sanomat…

Taking part in the struggle against the far right, Germany, the current holder of the EU Presidency, is also actively at work, demanding the criminalisation of holocaust denial lin all EU member states.

Placing a quarantine on a democratically elected party group is not without problems. Should there also be a boycott against communists, if they are linked with the dictatorships of Stalin or Mao? Should laws be passed against denying the atrocities of Stalin and Mao?

Anti-American YLE

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:31 pm

Here’s an ad in the latest edition of 6-Degrees for YLE, Finland’s state owned and operated broadcasting company…


Whoa!! There’s some in-your-face Anti-Americanism for you. I’d expect this kind of bigotry from 6-Degrees, but from YLE?

Nelonen, MTV3 and Finnish theaters show a lot of American movies. Why? Cause Finns like them! Lately, as discussed on here previously, the US has produced some really great stuff, and Finns are eating them up! Hollywood produces more movies than just about anyone, and they do it in a language that most Finns speak. And YLE shows it share of American programs too.

I think it’s great that a TV station has movies from all over the world and it’s good marketing to brag about that, but singling out the United States is just blatant prejudice and completely unnecessary, saying “Good movies from about 43 countries.” would get the point across just fine. Then the “The TV-license. The things you can get with it!” is just propaganda to sucker people into paying that ridiculous fee or else “all they’ll watch is evil Hollywood films!!” Give me a break.

Photo taken by me. Pic is of 6d magazine.

Ron Paul for President

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 8:06 am

News broke a few days ago that former Libertarian Presidential Candidate and current Republican Congressman of Texas, Ron Paul, has formed a Presidential exploratory committee. I never thought I’d vote for a Republican president again, but he could change my mind. A few things about Ron Paul

- Dissenting vote in the No Child Left Behind Act where he was one of three Representatives voting against it

- He voted against the Iraq War Resolution and continues to criticize the US presence in Iraq

- He has also broken with his party by voting against the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2005

- His regular votes against almost all proposals for government spending, initiatives, or taxes, and his frequent dissents in otherwise unanimous votes have irritated some of his Republican colleagues and have earned him the nickname “Dr. No”

- He supports the abolition of the income tax, most Cabinet departments and the Federal Reserve.

- He believes that the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to ban or regulate drugs in general.

- In 2006, a “Technology voter guide” by CNET awarded Paul a score of 80%, the highest score out of both houses of Congress.


First person in the history of the world to dance…danced to a Finnish song!

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:30 pm

Granny parking at Prisma

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 3:45 pm

You’ve all probably seen this already, but for those who haven’t – It’s from a Prisma (the Wal-Mart of Finland) in Jarvenpää…

Finns live in tiny, expensive houses

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 3:10 pm

Finns live in small, expensive houses. And most likely have the worst euro-per-sq/m rate in Europe…

Housing in Finland is expensive by European standards. Only Luxembourg, Sweden, and Denmark bypassed Finland in a Eurostat comparison of money spent on housing in 2003.

Possibly the smallest in Europe


And the culprit looks to be heavy government (local/regional/state) regulation (zoning) and taxation…

Experts say that political vision and tax reform are needed to bring prices under control.

“An overall political vision is needed to make prices more reasonable. Now we should give much thought to the urban structure”, says Seppo Teerimo, a researcher at VTT.

“Are metropolitan areas based on long commutes what we want? Do we want people to commute from Riihimäki to low-paying jobs in Helsinki because they cannot afford to live any closer?” Teerimo asks.

Martti Lujanen, a top official at the Ministry of the Environment, says that the problems in the housing market are in zoning, taxation, and structures, including municipal borders that cut through growth areas.

[...]“Some taxes are beneficial and some are detrimental. For instance, in the United States, they understood long ago that unbuilt plots of land fit for construction should be taxed.”

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