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Finland for Thought » 2008 » 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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31.1.2008

Data Protection Ombudsman: Quick Text Message Loans break the Personal Data Protection Law

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:03 pm

Original article, in Finnish.

Data protection board: Personal ID number, phone number, and address aren’t enough to identify the loan applicant.

If I was running one of those quick SMS loan companies, with that information above, I could go to Asiakastieto and look up the person’s credit history. With the bank account number, I could ascertain if the name of the applicant is the same as the owner of the account. Currently, I could also have the Finnish taxpayers’ incomes (Veropörssi) all downloaded to my computer from the Internet to see what kind of income the person makes and if the municipality matches. (this is another Personal Data Protection Law issue, which is going to the oral hearing in the European Court of Justice in the middle of February) I could also call the person and ask a few questions to see if it sounds like the same person and double check the address and personal ID number. Most people know their own address and personal ID number by heart. One could also check the public registry to see if the name and address match. After all that, certainly I would be willing to risk a few hundred Euros in order to get a return of 15% or more interest on a few weeks’ investment. That’s what business is about – taking a calculated risk, hoping to make some money.

Is possible identity theft the real issue? One company, Tammi Rahoitus, reported 8 incidents of misuse when giving a few thousand loans. I think it is a novel new business idea. The government has been after these new businesses from the beginning. I would only be thankful for the new tax revenue. Maybe they want to take all of it over and put it under a government monopoly. Some have been arguing that people can get the loans too easily and some restrictions have even been made so that people take the loans during the time of day when most people are sober. Is the problem that someone is bothered by someone making really good money with a novel new business idea while doing very little actual work, in a business where they only need to invest a few thousand Euros?

Well, it doesn’t bother me anyway. When I need a loan, which I rarely do, I can always find a friend or relative to borrow money from, and they don’t charge interest.

Finland should end saunas to help save the planet

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 8:32 pm

Finland is one of the largest consumers of energy in the EU and one of the worst for cutting back emissions…

Finland has fallen far behind the other Nordic Countries in cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions. Finland ranks 36th on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), putting it on a par with Algeria and Belarus. Sweden is at the top of the list, and Denmark is in third place.

Finland’s sauna culture is no doubt partially to blame for this…

According to a fresh Finnish study by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, desktop computers consume an average 500 kWh of electricity a year, which is the equivalent of a refrigerator-freezer. If the computer is kept on all the time, it uses about as much energy as an electric sauna that is heated twice a week.

Saunas are as necessary as SUV’s. Finns expect Americans to get rid of their SUV’s to help save the planet, while Finland should do the same by ending electric sauna use.

Forum security guards, one step below mall security

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:35 am

Minister of the Interior Anne Holmlund has called for age limits and supervision to protect children and young people on the internet.

Addressing a seminar on the use of the internet by young users, Holmlund noted that on-line message boards are popular among the young. For that reason, she feels that they should have security personnel just like entertainment venues in the offline world do.

LOL!! There’s gazillions of forums out there, how exactly does she expect for the administrators to check people’s ages?? And how about forums outside the country?

30.1.2008

Tarja Halonen: Judge, Judy, and executioner?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:47 pm

When Bill Clinton pardoned people on his way out of the Oval Office, the nation went into a frenzy, as they should. When Finnish President Tarja Hanlonen pardons dozens of people each year, no one blinks an eye…

Over the past two years, President Halonen has granted pardons to a number of shoplifters and drunken drivers or to people whose unpaid fines have been converted into imprisonment. Typically, a pardon is not the same as the overruling of a fixed-term prison sentence, but it means that a prison sentence can be passed as conditional.

[...]In the majority of pardon cases, Halonen reached the same conclusion as the Supreme Court had done. The President cannot grant a pardon to a prisoner without a statement from the Supreme Court. The Ministry of Justice requests statements from the Supreme Court, while the President is entitled to an independent decision on the matter and is not forced to observe the recommendations made by the Supreme Court.

Incidentally, President Halonen has granted parole to some people who have been convicted of crimes pertaining to the refusal to perform military service or unarmed military service, even though the Supreme Court has given a negative statement on the issue. Only one in five parolees who had refused to perform military service had received a favourable opinion from the Supreme Court.

Moreover, two female murder convicts and one woman found guilty of attempted murder were granted parole by Halonen against the recommendation by the Supreme Court.

[...]The President does not give reasons for her pardon decisions, which are mainly confidential information.

Wow! Well fuck the judicial system and fuck democracy. Should judges and juries be making these important decisions?! Isn’t this all the qualities of a…dictator!?

I hired a Contract RobinHood

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 9:23 am

This piece of news from the Helsingin Sanomat really rang up high on the bizarrometer.

OK, so we have teenage angst and too much tv:

Police suspect that a 16-year-old Helsinki girl paid a 19-year-old man to kill her mother.

And what was with this “handgun ownership” so rampant in Finland then?

A moment later the woman felt a strong blow to the back of her head… One of the men had shot the woman with a crossbow – the kind that is used to shoot small game, police say.

Kinda… medieval this one.

Police say that the 16-year-old daughter had promised the 19-year-old man a cash payment for the killing. The daughter did not live with the mother at the time of the attack. The man had persuaded two 20-year-old friends to join him. The crime was planned at the Espoo home of a fourth man, who now faces charges of aiding and abetting. The suspects, all native-born Finns, do not have any prior criminal records.

Kids, don’t eat that yellow snow.

Al Gore should endorse Barack Obama

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:16 am

McCain wins in Florida, I suspect he’ll win Super Tuesday and become the nominee. Jason Rothenberg of The Huffington Post summed up the Barack-Hillary ordeal quite well, my thoughts exactly…

It’s time. Now. Before February 5th. If you wait, it’ll be too late. You’ve won the popular vote, an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, and now it’s time for you to give something back. Although somewhere in your mind you may think that there’s a chance for you to rise from the dust of a brokered convention to claim the nomination for yourself, you must also know that this would not be the best thing for the Democratic party or the country. Not because you wouldn’t make a great president, you would, but because of the inter-party civil war that we would need to go through first. We’ve seen it for the past few weeks. It seems that the Clintons (and believe me it breaks my heart to say this) will stop at nothing to get elected. And if they do, we will be faced with the same ugliness we had to live through in the 90s. Yes, Bill Clinton was a great president. Peace and prosperity were the order of the day, and that was good, but the political wars (in most cases not started by the Clintons) dragged this nation into the gutter, and the Bush regime has kept us there. It’s time to rise above. It’s time to believe that our politicians are good, and honorable. It’s time to be inspired. Mr. Vice President, you’ve done incredible work these past few years, and you’ve made all of us proud. Now, like so many times before, we need for you to show us the way. History, by way of the future. Yes, we can.

28.1.2008

Absentee Ballot

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:28 pm

I was getting a bit worried, my home state’s election day is February 12th, but my absentee ballot has arrived. I declared myself as a Republican for the primaries so I can vote for Ron Paul, although now I’m kinda wishing I chose the Democrats instead so I could vote for Barack Obama.

Below is the front and back of the ballot, along with a checklist booklet and form… (btw, WTF is Alan Keyes doing on the ballot!?)

ballot_1.jpg

ballot_2.jpg

ballot_3.jpg

Libertarian Party candidates for President

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:17 pm

The Libertarian Party won’t elect their Presidential candidate until their national convention May 22-26, but you can visit this page and get a early look at some of the prospects. A good LP candidate should…

1) Be able to spread the libertarian message (although the LP debates tend to turn into “Who’s the MOST libertarian” or “Who can deliver the best one-liners about freedom)
2) Be able to raise a decent amount of money (being semi-famous helps)
3) Not be too crazy (this has been a problem in the LP)

Any sort of previous political experience is purely gravy, it’s not necessary.

So knowing these three things above, the only viable candidate is Wayne Allyn Root (shown right), a business mogul, television celebrity, TV producer, best-selling author, professional sports handicapper (wtf?), and Donald Trump wannabee. He’s got the supposed millions and fame to run a halfass campaign. (although I’m worried about the craziness factor)

However, here’s my honest prediction – Ron Paul never drops out of the Republican race even though he fails to win a single state. Then he’s nominated for the Libertarian Ticket, he accepts and runs for President as a spoiler, taking votes away from the Republicans and giving the Dems a victory just like Perot did in 1992 and Nader did to the Reps in 2000.

27.1.2008

Reason for assault said to be wealthiness

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 7:52 pm

When studying the public tax records of Finland, it has become clear to me that some pretty nasty things have been happening to people because of the tax records not only being public, but being in magazines, newspapers and nowadays, the Internet. Have a look in piratebay.org, right there where the pirate movie torrents are for “Veropörssi” if you don’t believe me.

I came across this little comment in a discussion in the Internet about the very recent news that publishing tax records may soon be forbidden altogether. Link to the discussion.

Reason for assault said to be wealthiness

I know of one long term hate relationship (ie. insults, minor physical assaults), where the perpetrator has said while being drunk that the reason was the victim’s being rich. The victim asked what was the information source but he was not told.

Social benefits and so on also public

Then this person goes on to say that last line. He or she wants even more public information, such as social benefits received, even after making a comment like that. But rest assured, publishing information which reveals social benefits received (not meaning farming subsidies) is quite explicitly illegal in the EU Personal Data directive, for the exact reasons we see above.

The EU Parliament is a Lair of Thieves

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 3:17 pm

We’ve always suspected it, but now we have proof. The Finnish europarliamentarian Anneli Jäättenmäki had to get a new passport. Reason being her old one got “lost” in somewhere between the Europarliament and the Indian Embassy. Neither party has it. As the Ilta-Sanomat says

According to Jäätteenmäki, thefts are quite usual in the EU-parliament. The member’s “boxes” where materials are transferred between Brussels and Strassbourg are missing things, such as cameras and laptops.

- “The police can not investigate the thefts, as they do not have access to the EU-parliament” says Jäättenmäki

Not only the idiotic and expensive dual seating and travelling between Brussels and Strassbourg, but also there is then nobody with jurisdiction to investigate either… Makes you wonder who designed the system.

Why I and most everyone else loathes Hillary Clinton

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:52 pm

Obama wins in South Carolina!! I gotta admit, I’m excited about his campaign. He’s young, idealistic, sincere, he’s received the an endorsement from the U.S. Pirate Party, he’s tried drugs and wasn’t afraid to admit to it – what’s not to like?

But just because I’d vote for a Democrat doesn’t mean I’d vote for any Democrat, namely Hillary Clinton, the most polarizing person in U.S. politics at the moment. A lot of Finns don’t quite understand why so many Americans love one Democrat but loathe another, so I thought I’d help shed some light…

- Scandals, scandals, scandals. Watergate, Travelgate, Filegate…before she even moved in to the White House she was involved in scandals. Americans have grown tired of this in their politicians.

- Hillarycare. Imagine if I brought my girlfriend into Nokia headquarters one day and announced to everyone that she’d be taking over part of my workload, how would my colleagues react? Yeah, exactly – and that’s exactly how the American people reacted. Sorry but the President’s spouse is just baggage, we didn’t vote for him/her, just as Nokia didn’t hire me because of my girlfriend. Hillarycare not only was a failed initiative, but millions of Americans turned their backs on her because of it and haven’t looked back since.

- The White House at any cost. She will do or say anything to become President, she has no morals or principles. Case in point: The New York Senate seat. She has absolutely ZERO ties to New York, yet she ran for senator and used New Yorkers like a tool to become President. You think she gives a damn about New York? Pleeease. If I were from New York I’d be extremely offended.

- She supported George Bush and voted for the war in Iraq. Why? Cause that’s the way the wind was blowing at the time in the U.S. Like I said, she has no principles. Tarja Halonen shares a lot of the same qualities as Hillary Clinton, they’ll do or say anything to remain popular, never taking a stand on anything remotely controversial.

- Negative campaigning. I wish politically active Finns were in the states to see her and Bill’s constant attacks on Barack Obama, Finland would have a very different opinion of her after that, negative campaigning isn’t tolerated in Finland. It’s not like she’s attacking George Bush, she’s attacking Barack, a fellow Democrat who’s done nothing wrong. I’m very proud to see my fellow Americans reject her attacks and have been happy to see this backfire against her, we’ve all grown tired of negativity, especially when it comes in the Primaries.

- No charisma. As you all know too well, charisma plays an important role in electability, and Hillary’s got none. I just look her and think, “liar”. She lacks passion, credibility, and most importantly, sincerity. She’s a phony. She doesn’t want to become President to change American, she wants in for personal gain and for power.

Hillary is simply too polarizing of a figure to win the White House, she’ll lose out against any of her Republican challengers. A vote for Hillary is a vote for four more years of Republicans in the White House.

25.1.2008

Ouch, I got ripped off when buying noise cancelling earphones for my Dilbert style cubicle

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 4:58 pm

I work in a Dilbert cubicle style office environment, and there is always an irritating level of noise around: computers buzzing, people talking, phones ringing, alarms alarming, etc. I am also a very social person, so I am easily distracted and drawn in by the conversations and joking going on around me. The employer has been gracious enough to supply everyone with a set of Sennheiser noise cancelling earphones (NoiseGard Mobile HDC 451). They are quite good and definitely reduce noise. When I put fresh batteries in and turn them on, they definitely reduce the level of ambient noise.  However, they are quite old. I think that the technology has probably progressed since the time these were brand new. Also, they are the type that sits on top of the ear with a plastic flexible U bracket in between. I want to try something that either goes in the ear, or covers the ears completely. I started looking around in the stores. Soon I found a set of earbud type earphones in Anttila of the Philips brand. (Philips Active Noise Cancelling SHN 2500). I paid the 44 EUR, thinking it wasn’t too much and went home. I opened up the package, put the battery in, put them in my ears and turned it on. It was nothing like the Sennheisers at work. They did not reduce the ambient noise at all. In fact I heard more noise after turning them on. I heard a slight hissing sound plus the same level of ambient sound.  When I put music through them and turned them on, they slightly amplified the music. They sounded OK, but they did not have the “active noise cancelling” that I was expecting. I started reading customer reviews about them in the Internet. Many customers said the same as what I noticed: they sound alright, but they don’t reduce noise – they only amplify the audio going through them a bit. What I also noticed was that the average price I was seeing was about 20 dollars, or about 15 euros. I paid 44 euros in Anttila. So I got ripped off 300%. Needless to say, I took them back and got my money back. After reading customer reviews, it looks like I might buy a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones, listed for about 100 dollars in Amazon.com. They seem to have very good reviews and many compare them favourably to the Bose model that costs 300 dollars. I definitely know the name Bose, which is associated with professional audio systems.

 Pretty soon I want to blog about how every article I have ever read about the “open office” style workplace has been negative, saying things like it reduces peoples’ productivity, increases stress, and it takes 15 or so minutes for a person to get over a distraction and get back into their work. Some of the studies use empirical evidence, such as looking at the amount of stress hormones in peoples’ urine or how they behave. This basically means that a large part of office type workplaces in Finland are bad for your health and therefore the people are much less productive than they could be. This doesn’t just mean Finland either – many countries use the Dilbert cubicles and some workplaces even go so far as to have totally open offices. For now, I have to make my head swim in music and “active noise cancelling”. One person at work actually uses a pair of Peltor ear protectors, which is what you use for chainsawing, grind-cutting metal, using a jackhammer and stuff like that.

I am thinking of making a motorcycle helmet type thingy with air ventilation or peltier air conditioning, noise reduction, with high quality stereo speakers. At least I can put my head in a closed office that way. As I write I am unsuccessfully trying to ignore a conversation next to me that has been going on for about 20 minutes.

24.1.2008

Crow Has a Positive One

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 5:08 pm

Tö vinnis skiink asshosshasson hääs nou komments oon tö keis. Helsingin Sanomat writes:

“According to the information I have received from the IBU, I am under suspicion of a doping offence. These suspicions are unfounded, and I have requested that the matter should be examined further in the normal way. Given the ongoing nature of the process, this matter is not public. I am nevertheless permitted to bring to light the suspicions held against me, and I do so of my own volition.”

So yeah, all athletes are innocent until their B-sample is tested.

Shiv, Pigt, WTF?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:22 pm

Ever wondered why the predictive text input in your mobile phone won’t provide you with dirty words, watch and find the answer…


Video from Stefan C. of Intomobile

Ilta-Sanomat looking for political Finns in the U.S.

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:17 pm

Hey all you Finns living in the U.S. – Ilta-Sanomat will be in the states to cover Super Tuesday. They’re looking for political active Finns to interview about the presidential elections, e-mail Sanna Ukkola if you’re interested!

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