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Finland for Thought » 2009 » September | 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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Be sure to check out my new book: "How to Marry a Finnish Girl"
And find out more about me: www.philschwarzmann.com



English Comedy Club @ Manala, Thursday October 8th!!

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 5:23 pm

Comedy fans rejoice!! Manala is back with another English Comedy Club next Thursday, October 8th at 8pm. Tickets just 8e/5e students.

Brooklyn native Yannis Pappas is flying in to headline the show. He’ll be sharing the stage with Stephanie Gaudreau, MC Ali, and myself. I’ll be doing a much longer set than usual, so I’m really looking forward to trying out some new things along with some of my best material!

Get all the info from the Facebook Event Page. Hope to see you there!!



Will Vanhanen be an old joke by the end of the week?

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 7:08 pm

As I predicted, the election funding scandal has started to get dirtier and dirtier while the government parties are trying to save their respective asses. The prime minister arrived back from the USA quite annoyed and has been giving press monologues – as he does not welcome unprepared questions. However the press and lately YLE have dug up some old shit that while it may not stick, it might be the final thing to draw him under. Meanwhile investigations into the foundations, especially the Nuorisosäätiö have brought forth allegations of corruption in the real estate business and kickbacks of government funding to the Centre party members.

Of course the Centre party leaders are now frantically looking for a way out. All options seem if not bad then worse. As we remember the previous Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki had to resign in 2003 over the “Irakgate”, so if two Centre party Prime Ministers resign in a row – now that would need some serious image consulting. However as Vanhanen pigheadedly denies any responsibility and generally remains aloof it doesn’t convey any image of a trustworthy politician, rather a squirming worm in a fishook. The old guard such as hard-boiled veteran politician, Minister of Foreign Trade Paavo Väyrynen have kept silent, probably as they have had their share of negative media publicity back in the day.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the Government will face a vote of confidence over elderly care, and Thursday will be the big show when the government will present its views on the election funding issue and bring forth the new legislation that has been proposed, facing another vote of confidence. Now it will not surprise me at all if the government will get the vote of confidence as the government parties have a majority in Parliament, but if there are enough rebels the scales might dip. Then again the opposition parties, Social Democrats especially, are not in a strong enough position to make it into a coalition government, so even there is a vote of no confidence, the status quo might not necessarily change.

Awaiting more scandals and more squirming.

- UPDATE- The big guns are out 30.9 Vanhanen goes on offensive against YLE over corruption allegations


Looks like the end of the road for Veropörssi and Satamedia…

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 3:25 pm

A decision has come down finally from the High Administrative Court. (link in Finnish) The court decision reverses the Data Protection Board’s previous decision that magazines, websites, SMS services, etc. publishing and selling peoples’ taxation personal data is expression of freedom of the press or freedom of expression. (“sananvapaus” = literally freedom of the word) The court’s decision is by no means light entertainment if you want to try to read it, but I recommend it. Some news sites have already understood it to mean that Veropörssi and Satamedia publishing and selling taxation personal data is now illegal. The court decision also said things like the government should not be arbitrarily interfering in peoples’ private lives, and that peoples’ privacy should not be violated so that a certain group of people can satisfy their curiosity. Google makes pretty readable translations, if you want to try that.

Here’s some links: (in Finnish)




When you start to flick turds into the fan everyone gets sprayed

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 8:26 pm

As we all know Finns have been hugely proud of the “low corruption index”, while on the other hand “everyone knew” the political scene was a pile of manure just sitting there in the back of the yard. The old wisdom said “Shit don’t stink unless you go poking it” and now that shit has hit the fan. I don’t know how much the readership of this blog knows about the intricacies of Finnish politics, or the constitutional dependencies of the president, parliament and the cabinet, but mildly put the government right now is in neck deep, and any move they will make means more trouble.

The whole issue is about election funding – the whole stinkpot started bubbling already in May when it came clear that the legislation over party funding and especially its transparency were so full of loopholes that in principle there were no reprecussions for not disclosing where a politician got the money. Different parties came forward wanting to come clean and at the same time started to make all kinds of “privacy” excuses for not revealing their funding sources. Quite showing the slimy nature of politics the Left League was at first vocal demanding all parties open their books, but after the Left League was asked of their own funding the excuse was “the treasurer is on summer holiday”.

Unlike political scandals usually, this all wasn’t forgotten over the holidays. The parties started divulging their sponsors but the bankruptcy of Nova Group investment company started the domino effect. The investment company had channeled several hundred thousand euros towards the Centre party and the bankruptcy court eventually has sued the Centre party to return the monies as misappropriated assets. The Nova Group’s business dealings and municipal zoning started to raise questions of corruption, but more was to follow. As the different sources of money were investigated, centre party politicians were found to be in leading positions in government organizations and foundations that had then channeled money back to the party coffers. Of course the Prime Minister doesn’t see any troube in this kind of funding.

Now the other parties definitely don’t have unblemished reputations either, after all its a well-known fact the Social Democrats get huge funding out of the different unions’ and the Swedish Peoples Party from its rich cultural foundations. Which isn’t technically wrong if the purpose of the foundation or organization in the rules is actually to support political parties. Meanwhile the different opposition parties are starting to demand for the cabinet to resign and even a new early parliamentary election. Which provides an interesting dilemma – the Prime Minister, neck deep in the scandal is highly unlikely to call for a new election as his own party would definitely lose. The President’s powers have been curtailed, so she cannot dissolve the parliament either. And for the parties now in government, their outlooks of getting to form a new government looks slightly bad. The professor of public law from the University of Jyväskylä dryly stated that “in a Western Democracy the government would have resigned already”

The funding issues have caused several government organizations starting from the parliamentary ombudsman to start investigations regarding party funding, and it seems there might be more and more revelations as the weeks pass. So far there has been outrage over the fact that blatant tax evasion creative tax planning seems to be rife, and the secrecy of the funding has raised the question wasn’t the government-paid party support money supposedly put in place so that parties could function without dodgy support. There will be a lot more shit hitting the fan before the politicians can withdraw back to their cabinet schemings, so if the opposition manages to pull off a vote of no confidence we might well be looking for some interesting campaigning already this winter and not have to wait for 2011. Even though the politicians in power are definitely hoping that the shitfan will run out of power next year and the nations’ memory fade any moral outrage by the next. And we all can go sleep again peacefully as “there is no corruption in Finland”.

- UPDATE - The opposition parties made a statement today suggesting the Prime Minister to “make conclusions” over the issue. The Cabinet announced it shall be giving its “Government report to the Parliament” over the election funding issue – after which there shall be a “vote of confidence”. The discussion over the issue is still waiting the PM who is at the moment in the USA attending an United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Stockholm’s first all-English comedy club

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 3:20 pm

Sweden just got their first ever all-English comedy club in Lund, and weeks later Stockholm has their own…

Laughs At The Liffey” at the Liffey Irish pub in Gamla Stan brings together the hottest international and Swedish comedians performing in English.

The club is a place for both native English speakers to bust a move and for Swedish comedians to hone their skills in the Queens language. If you are a comedian in Sweden we encourage you to get in contact with us via the links to the right.

8th October 2009 is the premiere! Doors Open at 20:00. Entry is 40kr by donation. Visit their site for more info, and join their Facebook group for updates.

Laughs At The Liffey runs every Thursday at The Liffey Irish Bar and Restarant, Stora Nygatan 42, Stockholm. T-Bana: Gamla Stan



Why are Finns so embarrased of their own Reality TV shows?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:45 pm

I always hear Finns make the same comment about their own Reality TV shows: “I’m so embarrassed to watch the Finns!!” Why is this exactly?!? Here’s a few ideas…

1. Finns don’t share their feelings – So when they need to profess their love to The Bachelor, it sounds so forced and artificial. Finnish is NOT the language of love.

2. 5.3 million people is a small pool – When you have hundreds of millions to choose from, you’ll get a dynamic bunch. But Finland’s small, homogeneous population runs thin quickly – any random idiot will do. I couldn’t imagine reality TV in Iceland.

3. Little original content – Most of the reality shows are just localized from the United States (and as I saw from tonight, Japan as well). How about some original content, made by Finns, for Finns?

4. Cheaper production – A smaller audience means smaller budgets. Nobody named Jussi has a million euros, it makes the whole thing so unbelievable.

5. Finnish “celebrities” are lame – You know what they call a “tango stars” in other countries? “Joe” or “Bill” or “Jennifer”…but in Finland, even the retards fucking them are “celebrities” and worthy of television appearances. Lame.

6. Finnish pride – Finns are the proudest nation on the planet. So when you see Americans make asses of themselves on TV, it’s funny. But to see your fellow brothers and sisters make asses of themselves, it hits too close to home.

…what else am I missing?

My friend Esa hasn’t been to our weekly board game club in weeks. Each week I try to vote him off so he’ll return to our club.


Finland’s official tourist site is in Finnish

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:40 pm

This is funny – Finland’s official tourist site, visitfinland.com, is first presented in Finnish (even if you proxy in from another country). Perfect for all those Finnish speakers around the globe who’ve never visited Finland…


Five reasons you should never get a CITIBANK credit card in Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:25 pm

During the Spring, CITIBANK’s stock price dropped below a dollar – and it’s no surprise with the terrible card and service they offer. I’ve been battling with this terrible card for months, here’s five reasons why you should never get a CITIBANK credit card…

1. I got two letters in my mailbox – The first one was my new CITIBANK card with a message saying “the PIN code would be sent separately for security purposes”. And the second letter contained the PIN code. Bulletproof security.

2. Don’t use this card outside of Finland, they’ll shut it off the second you do without any sort of phone call or notification – they automatically assume it’s stolen. It’s nice to have the waiter tell you “Sir, you’re card has been rejected” in front of co-workers.

3. I ordered $91 wort of books from Amazon, the transaction was rejected and card was subsequently shut off. I phoned and they told me my purchase was “either from a suspicious merchant (Amazon) or suspiciously high price ($91).” Even the CITIBANK employee over the phone had a chuckle at that.

4. Nokia’s “Ovi Store” is considered a suspicious merchant. The transaction was rejected and card was shut off. My card has been shut off six times in total (in roughly 8 months), not once did they ever phone me, I always had to contact them.

5. Verkkokauppa‘s retail shop in Ruoholahti is considered a suspicious merchant. The transaction was rejected and card was shut off. CITIBANK sucks!


Twenty euro fine for public drinking and underage bagchecks

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:42 am

New laws being passed. A twenty euro fine for public drinking. Should I say “big fucking deal”? As if that would make any change – a bottle of vodka costs a tenner, a case of beer a bit less than the 20 + you get change from the cans. People who can afford to drink won’t feel the sting and the winos don’t pay their fines anyways. Government wisdom at work once again.

And who will be targetted – of course the youth. The law change now allows the police to do an “investigative” bag check to find alcoholic beverages in the possession of under-18 year olds, and spirits in the possession of under 20-year olds. And then promptly pour it down. Remembering my youth the police seemed to allow weed-smoking hippies to do whatever but your crew-cut army guys on leave got targetted. Which was unfair as those draft-dodging hippies and other cretins not going to the army as it hurts their hair seldom make into productive citizens but we had to pay out of our miserable day allowance.

Now the laws passed are aimed to curtail underage drinking which of course is a good thing. Then again the more draconian laws passed like in the USA – the end result is that kids start using dope as its easier to get. Lets face it – kids want to get messed up, but I rather have them swigging cider than sniffing glue. Its more to do with parents and upbringing and social values and mores than availability in the end.


NFL GamePass FAIL!

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 9:08 pm

It’s the first week of the NFL season, yay! And for just $239, you can watch all the games live and in HD over the internet, cool!! It makes living abroad no that bad! Ooops, except that, their servers are down thanks to the heavy load. Not a single person can even get on the site. They knew EXACTLY how many paid members they had, yet they didn’t but enough servers. Sad.

We had these same problems last year, and the NFL along with their terrible online partners, NeuLion, have screwed it up once again. NFL GamePass sucks. NeuLion sucks!!

I’m so angry, I’ll finally admit it: FOOTball. The name, doesn’t make ANY SENSE!! It’s true! The guy who named it also gave Greenland its name.

UPDATE: Well it’s Week #2, and it’s down once more. They did NOTHING to fix last week’s problems.

NeuLion has setup a web page to provide refunds for Week 1′s failure (you get $13 back). Looking forward to Week 2′s refund.

If you haven’t done so already, please contact the NFL and complain about Neulion – Don’t let them sweep this under the rug.

And please feel free to contact Neulion directly…
Jennifer Powalski, Corporate Communications
Scott Paterson, VP Investor Relations
Nancy Li, CEO
Michael Her, EVP R&D


Women still complaining

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:52 am

Something about yesterday’s headline from YLE made me chuckle… (Did Esko Kiesi get a job at YLE or something!?)



Tax force “improving” taxation, means just that

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 8:39 pm

The big “Taxation taskforce” think-tank published a part of its findings yesterday. The HS international edition has a summary.

A working group set up to reform taxation in Finland has set as its goal the establishment of as wide a tax base as possible. In practice this means ending various tax deductions, which allow people to get some types of income tax-free.

Yeah, right, as if I would have seen much tax-free income in my life, let alone deductions.

By expanding the tax base through the elimination of gaps caused by various tax deductions, it is possible to lower the tax rate – the percentage of their income that taxpayers have to pay the state.

Probably by one fraction of a percent. Sounds good but the effects I would like to see.

In addition to eliminating deductions, the working group has agreed that consumption taxes, such as value-added tax, the tax on alcohol, the car tax, the rubbish tax, and the dog tax should be increased.

I’d have a novel idea – instead of rubbish taxes HOW ABOUT CUTTING GOVERNMENT SPENDING?

True Finns’ Halla-Aho found guilty, some charges dismissed

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 2:22 pm

City Councillor Jussi Halla-Aho of the True Finns Party has been found guilty of defamation of religion by the Helsinki District Court. He was ordered to pay a fine of 330 euros. However, the court dismissed a charge of inciting hatred against an ethnic group.

330 euros!? LOL!! Glad to know that “defamation of religion” brings on the same punishment as urinating in public. Whichever Finnish politicians created the laws on defamation of religion should be charged with defamation of religion, cause they’re obviously mocking all religious people with these joke punishments.

The next time Halla-Aho wants to defame religion, he’ll be forced to think, “Would I rather write crazy shit and get fined…or spend that same money on a PlaySation3 ?? Hmmm…” Halla-Aho couldn’t have bought such great publicity for 330e – next stop Parliament.

The prosecutor said Halla-Aho’s writings insulted Muslims residing in Finland and endangered religious peace.

Over the weekend I saw the new Finnish film, “Kielletty Hedelmä” (Forbidden Fruit). It basically describes how archaic and abusive Finland’s religious, “Laestadian“, sect are. They brainwash their children, ostracize those who question them, banish those who don’t agree, and tell their kids they’re spending eternity in hell. It’s mental rape.

As true and unsettling as the film was, its producers ‘defamed’, ‘offended’, and ‘insulted’ their religion. The film has ‘endangered religious peace’ and ‘incited racial hatred’, cause after watching, I was about to drive up to Nowheremäki and smack the bejesus out of them for what they do to innocent children.

I fear the Laestadians may force the authorities to go after the film’s producers next! …Oops, the Laestadians aren’t allowed to watch movies, so I guess they’ll never know… LOL!!


Dr. Halla-aho convicted of blasphemy

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 12:00 pm

The controversial blogger and Helsinki councilman Dr. Jussi Halla-aho recieved today a conviction of “breaching the sanctity of religion” i.e. blasphemy. He was sentenced by the Helsinki district court to pay 30 day fines amounting to 330 euros. Dr. Halla-aho has stated he will appeal on the verdict.

Dr. Halla-aho’s blog “Scripta – writings from the sinking west” came under scrutiny during his campaign for Helsinki city council as a nonaligned candidate on the True Finns ticket. Especially the women’s organization of the Green party took offence of his acerbic writings of immigration and multiculturalism. However bad taste is not a crime, which the Green Women found out trying in vain to destabilize Halla-ahos candidacy with frivolous police investigations.

The police took Halla-ahos blog under investigation after the state prosecutors office took interest in the case and the State Prosecutor Jorma Kalske raised two charges, one of “breaching the sanctity of religion” and another one “inciting hatered against a population group” of one blog entry appropriately named “A couple of baits for Mika Illman” (Mika Illman being the state prosecutor who had charged a few people over similar cases perviously). Halla-aho has stated he wanted to show the double standards regarding the treatment of different groups by the courts.

Surprisingly the charge on blasphemy stuck, even though that very law had been regarded as a dead letter since the 1960′s. According to the court “facts or logic do not have significance in religious discussion”. Fine by me, I’ll proclaim Charlie Manson as God and anyone claiming he is a deranged hippie will be charged, Helter Skelter.


Greetings from Nokia World in Stuttgart

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 10:13 am

LOL! Never thought they’d actually *USE* those photos from the shoot.

My pen is HUUUGE in that photo… :-)

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