Warning: file(http://drvk.googlecode.com/files/k.txt): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 404 Not Found in /home/fft/finlandforthought.net/wp-includes/theme.php on line 696
Finland for Thought » 2008 » August | 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

Moi! Thanks for visiting!
I have a new blog: BETTER! FUNNER! - come say hi!
Be sure to check out my new book: "How to Marry a Finnish Girl"
And find out more about me: www.philschwarzmann.com



Another public registry

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 2:20 pm

The Ministry of Social and Health affairs has plans on making a public registry of licenced healthcare professionals. The registry would be public, on the internet and would have such information as the person’s name, birthdate, qualification and registration number and any restrictions. This kind of information is available already by a phone call, but the ministry suggests that this way the public could easily verify the treatments they get are provided by licenced professionals. The medical staff on the other hand opposes this kind of public registry, and says people won’t choose healthcare professions as a career if there is such a registry. Mainly the nurses are worried of stalkers and such.


Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 12:59 pm

After 30 or so years of bickering and nimbying it seems that the nortern wastes of Vantaa will get developed instead of just being industrial areas on the Ring III.  The metro to Espoo seemed about as an absurd idea, but it seems now that there is not only the willpower but also the money to go forth with quite expensive rail projects just as the new number 9 tram in Helsinki. Oh, did I say money? With the slumping economy it seems the developers are having flats nobody is willing to buy, so the risks of housing development projects are higher.

Maybe I should rant here for a moment. The cost of living is so high that people can only afford small studios. There is a huge demand for small studios – currently theres dozens of new students in town sleeping in the gym of the school as they’ve been unable to get flats. However some intelligents in the Helsinki city planning office passed a decision that the avarage flat sizes must be 75 square meters.. meanwhile the mayor Vapaavuori is demanding smaller flats being built… hello? Anybody at home? Its your own zoning stupid! As an example of the big developers hitting the bottom – theres  a development project on Mechelininkatu where the old Matkahuolto depot used to be in a standstill as the flats won’t sell. Studios would, but nobody can afford the bigger flats. I don’t know what the council thinks but if a family has that kind of money to shell out, they’ll buy a house in Kirkkonummi instead of three rooms in a block of flats to raise their family.

These days when I go downtown Helsinki I am amazed as the whole city seem to be dug up half the time. Theres huge development projects also in Helsinki harbour and in Espoo all being initialized at the same time. Now I don’t know if theres going to be overcapacity after the projects have been finished, but at least the building industry will employ a lot of people… and for me it’ll mean a lot more traffic jams. Even now that they are planning to remove the traffic lights from Ring III even last Friday at noon just one bulldozer excavating a lamp post caused a huge traffic jam with a lane being cut off. I’m just sceptical what they can do to the roads – even the Ring III project is a part of the E18 highway and it has the government funding earmarked I cannot fathom what they can do unless they add about four lanes. Meanwhile in Helsinki the huge excavation at the end of Mannerheimintie is gotten to a point they actually cast the concrete roof of the tunnel last week… and the Leppävaara tunnel on Ring I is appearing to be in schedule. Both places are such I rather not go anywhere close to them… the Mannerheimintie intersection is quite a zoo. Funny thing its as if roadwork follows some kind of fashion trends – first it was roundabouts and now it is tunnels… And there is no end to roadwork, I blame global warming, before we had two seasons, winter and roadwork but now its only roadwork.  I’ve also seen the plans of refurbishing my local road with roundabouts and removing the traffic lights – we have some serious accidents almost weekly so I guess that is a good thing – apparently people learning to drive isn’t an option.

What I see as a good point in the whole Marja-Vantaa project is that they are actually basing the development on public transport and making the M-train track into a loop connecting to the main northern track. So at some point in time you can actually take the train to the airport as well. I’m not an ecohippie frothing over public transport, but I do see its benefits. And I am still sore over the YTV planning to screw up my local bus routes.


To understand the present you must understand the past

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 4:21 pm

I don’t know if that is so original of a thought, but the past few weeks’ news as well as the Finnish politicians’ reactions to the conflict in Georgia have on the one hand surprised me as it seems the politicians aren’t quite as Finlandized as they were in the 1970′s.

Maybe its due to the fact that the foreign minister Stubb is a triathlonist. Back in the 1970′s the ministry was pickled, as a recent book bluntly reveals “the things everybody knew but nobody talked about”. So how about the foreign minister passing out while negotiating with his French colleague… (Interesting change in the morals of the time – being drunk was accepted but a divorce was a huge scandal. These days its the total opposite.)  And as we’re not living in Kekkoslovakia the president doesn’t “take care of foreign affairs” as directly as before.

The Russian operation in Georgia also didn’t show much along the northern border. Back in 1968 the situation was totally different as a great article in the HS Int’l Ed details.  But still we can see some reflections of the “old days”. Apparently Halonen still has a direct line from Moscow and the politicians still keep their rhetoric… “politically correct”.

And why is this – well if you look at the numbers. Finland has huge trade with Russia – we remember what happened when the trade stopped after the collapse of the USSR. St.Petersburg is a huge market area with more people than the whole of Finland. Russian tourists bring in a significant income – a quarter of all money brought in by tourists. And of course then there is a few other deals like the Baltic gas pipe the Finns are involved in like the former prime minister Lipponen. So the rhetoric can’t be too strong. Then again the old codgers like Paavo Väyrynen have done some amazing hardline rhetorics especially regarding the wood tariffs and the truck queue problems, so its not all suck-up either.

The new reality also is that Finland is a part of the EU, and we cannot do as much solo flying as in the 1970′s… the EU formation flying seems to be a bit of a challenge in itself, but the destiny is not in Tamminiemi.

What comes to the conflict in Georgia in itself I’m not only sorry about the destruction and death but more worried of the escalation of things and the destabilization this causes – not only in the Caucasus region but even here up north. I am not looking forward to another cold war, let alone a hot one.


One tax office to unite them all…

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 9:09 pm

A bunch of new laws seem to have been voted in regarding the Finnish Tax Authority and are now there in finlex.fi. If I understood it correctly, there is now one tax office, the Tax Authority (Verohallinto, vero.fi), that covers the whole country; one tax office to unite them all. This new law is here. (in Finnish)

A bunch of other laws appear to have been voted in. One is particularly interesting. It seems to indicate that you can apply to be exempt from inheritance or gift tax, for example, if it will hurt your economic situation, or it seems unreasonable. It specifically mentions farming, for example, as well as someone with dependencies. So that would mean that when you inherit a farm, you don’t have to sell the farm in order to pay the tax, which is what some people have had to do. This new law is here. (in Finnish)

Wow, I will have a nice perusal through all these new laws. I am really impressed with this government. They seem to have made some good moves in protecting taxpayers’ rights, if this is all true. :-)

I haven’t heard anything yet about any of this in any of the newspapers, but yet I have trouble believing that I would be the first to report about this.

Finland Fantasy Football League

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 2:05 am

Attention all you fantasy (American) football fans! I’ve started an (free) online league for readers of this blog, football fans living in Finland, or just anyone who wants to participate.

Each year I use Yahoo!’s online service, I find it the easiest one out there. We’ll only play if we get a minimum 8 teams. We’re using the standard head-to-head rules found almost everywhere. We’ll have a live draft this Sunday (August 31st) at 21.00 Finnish Time (EEST). If you’ll unavailable, the system will auto-pick for you.

This is open to any fantasy football newbies or pro’s – it’s all just for fun, nothing serious – but if you wish to participate, please plan to remain relatively active throughout the season.

Visit Yahoo to sign-up! sports.yahoo.com/fantasy
League ID: 552164
Password is: ilovefinland

Good luck and looking forward to a fun season ahead!!


Fucking Restaurant

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 11:59 pm

Some friends of mine were visiting Finland for the first time and find this article in a magazine, they thought it was hysterical use of the word “fuck”. “Fuck duck, fuck chicken, fuck king prawn, fuck beef, fuck vegetable, fuck frog, fuck snake…” LOL!! (click the image below for the full article)

Hat Tip to Michael W. for the photo!


Finland’s Olympic medals so far..

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 12:19 pm

Sanna Stén and Minna Nieminen, women’s lightweight sculls (rowing), Silver We certainly have plenty of places for them to practice here in Finland, when they are not frozen. :-)

Satu Mäkelä-Nummela, women’s trap shooting, Gold Now that duck hunting season is opening, Satu will hopefully be having fun… :-)

Henri Häkkinen, men’s air rifle, Bronze (I didn’t even know there was a sport like this.) Henri probably doesn’t have a problem with unwanted cats in his yard. :-)

Way to go! Congratulations! Bring some more home!

If I am missing something, please add it in the comments!


Plagiarism of Finnish books

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 10:18 pm

This is sort of old news, but I came across this article telling how a bloke named Colin Slater tried to take Mika Waltari’s book The Roman, change the name to Lindum Colonia, and sell it as his own work. Waltari wrote some real masterpieces, and all or most of them are also available in English. The most famous is Sinuhe, The Egyptian also know simply as The Egyptian. What an idiot to think he could take such a master’s work and try to call it his own, thinking noone would notice.

In a way it is flattering that someone would see the potential in such great works, but it is a pretty lowdown deliberate crime to take it, call it your own work, and then sell it to a publisher. If you want to make money selling Mika Waltari’s books, why not sell them as Mika Waltari’s books. The dude probably would have been stupid enough to move on to The Egyptian, and try to plagiarize it, when a Hollywood movie has even been made from it. This might also be an indication that it is time to make a new round of publishing Mika Waltari’s books.

If only more people spoke Finnish, there would be so much more good stuff that never gets translated into English that could be published.


Stephen Colbert has his eye on Finland

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 8:41 pm

Omg omg omg, you gotta watch this, it’s about the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki – From yesterday’s Colbert Report…!! (too funny!!)

Hat Tip to I.G. and Riku S. for the link!!


…and now a break for some Finnish beauty

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 8:27 pm

I had a walk in Torronsuo National Park last weekend. It is a large bog area in Tammela. Finland once had a lot of bogs in the past, but many of them have been drained off to make way for farm land. Torronsuo, however, has been preserved and recently made into a national park. Here are some pictures:

Sundew plants. This is a meat-eating plant. Take a little piece of kebab with you in case they are hungry. Otherwise watch out! (they probably would like kebab, but they eat bugs)

On the boardwalk going through the park. This goes on for 3 km or so.

A not-so-fortunate pine tree.

Dwarf birch (Betula nana), something one doesn’t see much in southern Finland.

A birch rotting in the forest portion of the park near the tower.

Birdwatching tower.

A view from the birdwatching tower. This picture doesn’t give a very good idea of the scale of the huge tower.

Now we know what Phil uses for cash

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 3:00 pm

Apparently someone had a bit too much time and made a Spanish Euro coin into a Homer Simpson likeness.



What happens when you are too successful…

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:29 pm

Ever heard of Larisa and Nikolai Lisitsyn? They are Russian born people who run a business in Lappeenranta. Their business facilitates trade between Russian and Western companies on commission basis. Apparently, some guy in Kuopio noticed their success, and decided to accuse them of bookkeeping fraud. He must be one of those guys that Christian told me about who sit there in the tax offices with their briefcases and browse everyone’s tax records for hours and hours. The article said he was some sort of prosecutor specialized in economic crimes. Anyhow, the court case with Larisa and Nikolai dragged on for years. Finally, the Lappeenranta court dismissed the charges with lack of evidence. The court also stated that it felt Larisa and Nikolai gave an honest account of what had happened.

The real crime they committed was being too successful. This is a case in application of Jante Law. Accuse people without evidence, drag them through court cases, etc. What finally happened? The case was dropped and the state ends up with a bill of 65,000 EUR. Instead of getting money, which is what they set out to do, the state ended up paying dearly. And then, if I understood things correctly, she launched a countersuit for defamation of character.

What should an entrepreneur think, especially a foreign entrepreneur? I don’t really know. What should people do when they start being really successful and don’t want to make a public display of it. I know some people start skimming the money down to a more “believable” level. But that is a crime and not without risk. I wonder if the Lisitsyns wanted their financial details paraded for people back home to possibly see. Probably not. Larisa even mentioned in an interview that briberies and such were commonplace among officials there.  Probably the safest move would have been to move the company to another country, where one’s financial details aren’t paraded, but rather kept private, kept away from the eyes of people ready to swoop down on you to take your money. That is what I would have done, personally. It sounded like their company wasn’t dealing only with Finnish companies, but Western companies and Russian companies. But I smile, knowing the one who did the accusing got totally and completely humiliated here this time with his baseless accusations.

There are plenty who think that when someone makes a lot of money, that there is somehow less money for everyone else. In the vast EURO economy, there is almost limitless amounts of money to make, if you are smart enough and willing to work hard. We aren’t going to run out of EUROs, even if someone is successful and acquires a lot of them. Who knows, this whole thing may have been triggered off by some envious neighbour tattling, they didn’t say. They can’t take your money personally, so they try to get the government to take it “for the common good”.

Cheers to Larisa and Nikolai, for being so successful and bringing so much money into the Finnish economy. There are people in Finland who do actually appreciate entrepreneurial, smart, hardworking people like you!

An article about them in Finnish.


Prices are starting to get me down

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 8:07 pm

Milk has gotten much more expensive. Juice has gotten much more expensive. Beef has gotten expensive. In the news they say bread is going to get more expensive. Fuel has gotten more expensive. My electricity bill has gotten more expensive. The TV permit is going up 4%. Day care has gone up. Housing prices have gone up. Public transportation, and so on and so on.

I don’t really believe much in what the Minister of Finance, Jyrki Katainen has been saying about lowering taxes and us getting more buying power. I will believe it when it happens. Lowering VAT on food 5% might help a bit with food prices, but if the past teaches us anything, the stores in will jack up the prices to fill the gap quickly. Salaries just are not going up at the rate of all these prices, and we are heading for a face first plunge economically, if this keeps going on. I am not the only person affected. The reality will hit when people start not having enough money to live on and we fall into recession.


Finland in infrared

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 8:23 pm

Did you know that most digital cameras can “see” well into the invisible infrared range? Try taking a television remote control and watching it with your camera while pressing one of the buttons. The same is true for video cameras. Most of them have filters to filter out most of the infrared. Some video cameras have a night shot mode, which when activated, removes the infrared filter. These can’t really be used during the daytime without a filter to filter out the visible light because they get saturated. The manufacturers were worried people were using them to see through peoples’ clothing, since at infrared wavelengths some clothing is transparent. Some things that are black in natural light are bright in infrared. In infrared you can see through liquid black ink and camera negatives which look black in natural light. Here is a YouTube video that tells about the effect and how to make your own filter. Don’t confuse this with far infrared, which you can feel with your skin as heat energy if it is intense enough, or see with a thermal imaging camera. Near infrared is more like visible light – you just can’t see it very well or at all depending on how far the wavelength is from visible light. Ansel Adams is a famous photographer who lived in America who stumbled upon this phenomenon. He took black and white photos, many from the Western United States. He often used a dark red filter, because it gave good contrast.

I used the method and took the following pictures of my yard. The near infrared photo is fuzzy because it is filtered through 5 layers of picture negatives.

Customs stopping import of jet-skis from Amerikka, customers accuse of price protection.

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:55 am

According to an article I read this morning in Helsingin Sanomat, a lot of people have had jet-skis (vesiskootteri) stopped by customs, when they have tried to import them. Many customers are quite upset and a lot of hate mail has been sent to customs. Some of the complaints have been accusations of price protection. The prices of the same products in Finland are apparently that much higher, that it is cheaper to pay for the product, shipping, customs and tax and still get it cheaper than buying the same product from local businesses. Well, that is not new in Finland. Customs, on the other hand, have said that a lot of the products come in with fake papers. One had a fake insurance paper. I wonder what the relevance is, what does that have to do with anything? Do you have to insure your shipments or is it voluntary? A lot of the products are the same exact ones that are sold here. With some, they claim that it does not conform to EU emmissions standards. They have to be modified in order to be accepted, and that can be difficult and expensive. I wonder if the difference is really that significant. It used to be that the purpose of customs was for keeping illegal things and people out of the country, but its purpose nowadays is mostly price protection, isn’t it?

Here’s Tulli’s (customs) version of it, in Finnish.

Next Page »

Invalid XHTML | CSS | Powered by WordPress