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Finland for Thought » Finns | 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

...Enjoy!


16.10.2010

Kimmo Wilska does stand-up comedy!

Tags: Bad Boys, Bad Boys,FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,Video — Author: @ 11:07 am

So just 24 hours after Kimmo was fired from YLE after many long years of service, he takes the stage at the English Comedy Club at Manala in Helsinki to tell his side of the story, answer some questions from the audience, and do a little stand-up comedy!!

And of course I recorded it and put it on YouTube… :-)

13.10.2010

Shame on YLE! Support Kimmo Wilska!!

Tags: Finns — Author: @ 10:43 pm

If you’re a foreigner in Finland, you’ve seen or heard Kimmo Wilska. Known as the “Barry White of Finland” thanks to his deep, sensual voice, has been the voice of YLE’s English radio and TV broadcasts. And loyal readers of this blog know Kimmo well as he’s been an active commenter since Finland for Thought’s early days.

On this morning’s broadcast, during a segment on Finnish alcohol licenses, the always jolly Kimmo Wilska apparently played a little joke for his colleagues, which accidentally got caught on air (see video below). The state-run YLE promptly fired Wilska for this funny mishap.

Like you need yet another reason to not pay your TV license, here’s another. Shame on YLE after the years of service he’s given. If you feel the same way, be sure to join the Kimmo Wilska Support Group on Facebook. 23,000 fans and growing! With skills and a voice like Wilska, let’s hope there’s a silver lining here and he lands his own talk show!

UPDATE: YLE has forcibly removed the YouTube video claiming copyright law, even though there are GAZILLIONS of other YLE videos on YouTube. They seemed to be particular angry about this one, but here’s another version…

5.9.2010

Why Swedish-speaking Finns are better than Finnish-speaking Finns

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,Sweden — Author: @ 11:25 am

Roughly 5% of Finns are native Swedish speakers known as the “Swedish Finns” or [confusingly] “Finnish Swedes” or [more accurately] “Swedish-speaking Finns” or [Swedishly] “finlandssvenskar” or [Finnishly] “pappa betalar”.

You’ll find most of them located on the southern and western coasts of Finland. They came over centuries ago from Sweden as part of the country’s crusade to spread Christianity and more importantly, expand Sweden’s borders. While most are bilingual, speaking both Swedish and Finnish, you will find a few hillbillies up north who only learned Swedish, essentially quarantining themselves off to a very small part of the country.

They have their own political party which unsurprisingly gets roughly 5% of the vote during elections. They even created their own flag. (identical to the Finnish flag, but with bright red background and Ikea-yellow cross). They have their own semi-autonomous islands, the Åland Islands, located southwest of Finland, but actually much closer to Sweden. Rumor says when all good Swedish-Finns die they go to Åland, or “Finlandssvenskar heaven” – it’s kinda like South Florida for American Jews.

Swedish-speakers are far superior to the Finnish-speakers in every way imaginable – They’re wealthier, they’re more educated, they’re more cultured, they’re more sophisticated, they’re more international, they’re have better social skills, better clothes, better looks, a wayyyyy better language (and easier), they don’t get drunk, they all drive Mercades, they all have boats, they all have summer cottages in the archipelago for their boats, their language is pleasing to the ear, they throw crayfish parties in the summer where they systematically throw expensive crayfish into the trash and giggle while drinking schnapps, their language doesn’t sound robotic drone from the 1950′s. I could go on and on, but you get the picture: Swedish-Finns are better. (once more: Jews)

Unfortunately my partner is a Finnish-speaker, so I won’t ever inherit a boat or a cottage in the archipelago for that boat – so here’s some nasty stereotypes Finns say about the Swedish-Finns: they’re snobs, they think they’re better than everyone, they’re gay, they’re Swedish, they don’t allow Finnish-speakers into their cliques, they don’t give jobs to Finnish-speakers, they control all the power in Finland, they force people to learn Swedish, they have an easier time getting into schools cause the requirements aren’t as hard, they’re loud, at pubs they feel the need to sing stupid songs in unison, they bribed Google Maps to display only Swedish city and road names, handball is lame. I could go and on, but you get the picture: Finnish-speakers are jealous.

I kid, I kid. But it’s all true: There’s probably know bigger taboo in Finland than the relationship between the Finnish speakers and Swedish speakers. You’ll never hear the feeling of animosity discussed publicly. When the two groups are together they’ll never say anything mean, but get them each alone and they’ll…make subtle, caddy comments. But in reality, they’re all just one big unhappy family.


This car is clearly owned by a Finnish-speaker, as it’s an Opel and not a Mercedes.
Photo from Pavel Trebukov

6.7.2010

Two murdered at Finnish McDonald’s

Yet another shooting in “safe” little Finland. Sad. But I guess it’s no surprise since Finland has the third highest firearm ownership in the world.

I wonder when Finns will start being scared? Well as long as it’s a foreigner a who shot up the drive thru, we’re all still safe…

A shooting incident in the early hours of Tuesday morning outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Porvoo has claimed two lives. One person was seriously wounded.

The injured survivor of the shooting was rushed to hospital in Helsinki and was reported to be in critical condition. The wounded man is a resident of Loviisa born in 1982. The two dead were both from Askola, just north of Porvoo and born in 1982 and 1965.

Police suspect that the shootings followed an argument that arose in the queue for the drive-through. Three of those thought to have been involved in the incident, two men and one woman, were apprehended by police on a highway outside Porvoo. An unregistered automatic handgun, believed to have been used in the shooting, was found in the car. The three were taken into custody for questioning.

The victims and the three now in custody did not know each other.

The shootings took place just after 2 AM on Tuesday morning.

Back in Baltimore you’d never dare to mess with people in a drive thru lane at 2am…cause you might get shot. Maybe we should have the same thinking in Finland?


Photo snagged from Freedom Phoenix

20.3.2010

Estonia according to the Finns

Tags: Estonia,FI vs. Foreigners,Finns — Author: @ 4:01 pm

Finally! A country Finland can look down upon. While Norway looks down on Sweden, Sweden looks down on Finland, and Finland finally looks down on Estonia. (and Estonia looks down on, Latvia?) Humble Finland bashfully gazes at its own shoes when addressing countries of the world – but with their southerly neighbors, Finland stares at Estonia’s shoes.

If Finland’s borders supposedly look like a maiden, then Estonia clearly is a turd falling from her gown. When Finns think of Estonia they think: cheap alcohol, prostitution, illegal immigration, shifty workers, poverty, booze cruises, liberal business policies, drugs…oh wait, that’s a list of “My Favorite Things”. Ooops.

With only 80km’s between both capitals, the aquatic train tracks separate wealthier Finland from its younger, poorer brother. But Finland has more in common with Estonia than any other country: They both share a dark history with Russia. They both share the same common fucked up language family – Finnish is closer to Estonian than any other language.

Dating a Estonian girl is a step down in Finland’s class system. It’s not as bad as let’s say, dating an Asian girl, or God forbid, a Russian girl. It falls somewhere between English girls and Polish girls. (haha, ENGLAND!) And what’s it like for an Estonian guy to date a Finnish girl? I couldn’t tell you, it’s never happened.

I call Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, “the Disney World of Finland!” as it’s the Finns’ favorite tourist spot. Finns take a booze cruise to Tallinn to buy cheap liquor, get wasted, visit brothels, and cause amok amongst Tallinn’s beautiful Old Town. Finnish beer is exported to Estonia, just to be imported by the Finns at a cheaper price. And while in their drunken stupor, Finns get robbed, cheated, and beaten up – They retreat home calling Estonia, “dangerous and unsafe!”. Just like Disney World.

While Finns remains stagnant and reminisce of the good ol’ days, Estonia drudges forward. Finland’s days of whipping their little brother may be numbered. But until then, I’m off to Tallinn to get drunk with the boys at the Depeche Mode Bar! See yah later, sobriety!

28.2.2010

The United States according to the Finns

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,USA! USA! — Author: @ 5:09 pm

Finns have the ultimate love-hate relationship with the US: Finns love Hollywood films & TV but hate its dominance over local productions. Finns love American brands but hate American consumerism. Finns love American foods but hate the slothful culture. Finns love the English language but hate its erosion of the Finnish language. Finns love the diverse American offering but aren’t fans of diversity themselves. Whenever you hear that something in Finland is becoming more American…it’s never a positive statement.

Finns often mistake real life America with what they see on their favorite American TV shows and movies. Couple that with the Finnish press’s sensationalism of American culture, it makes for some interesting stereotypes. And American tourists do little to expel these stereotypes. When abroad…

- Americans are loud (“HELLO, WE’RE FROM AMERICA!!”)
- Americans are ignorant (“America is the best, so this must be shit”)
- Americans are arrogant (“Speak English, asshole!”)
- Americans are demanding (“I need to speak to your supervisor!!”)
- Americans ask stupid questions (“Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your country?”)
- Americans aren’t geography buffs (“Is Finland the capital of Sweden or Norway?”)
- Americans dress poorly (“How does a Hawaiian shirt, University of Michigan cap, shorts, and white tennis shoes go with my fanny pack?”)

Ever wondered what’s it like to be the first white person in an African village? Speak with an American accent in a Finnish town on a Friday night. The locals will flock to you like drunken zombies. But instead of touching your hair…they’ll ask your thoughts on Barack Obama. Or they’ll tell you of their uncle who spent a year in Canada during the 80′s. They’ll remind you that American “football”, makes no sense as a word. And Budweiser is NOT good beer.

In the workplace Americans are not to be trusted. They make promises they can’t keep. They brag about things they don’t have. They act as barnstormers wanting to change everything. They know everything. They don’t understand the word, “humility”. Their pushy tactics have the reverse affect on a Finn.

And when you befriend an American, you’ll surely be confused with questions such as “How are you?” (which translates to “Hi!”) and “I really like that!” (which translates to “I’m just being nice”) and “That’s interesting!” (translation: “I don’t understand that.”) and “Let’s get together sometime!” (translation: “Fuck off and die.”).

While Americans and Finns have their differences, the similarities are vast: Both love sports, both love Finlandia vodka, both love guns, both have problems with crazies shooting up public places, both hate the Russians, both love The Simpsons, and both think Conan O’Brien looks just like Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

(for more on this, check out “Finland is like a Mac, the U.S. is like Windows“)

27.2.2010

Russia according to the Finns

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,Russia — Author: @ 3:59 pm

Finland despises Russia. You’ll be hard pressed to find a Finn who’ll say one nice thing about their eastern bully. Finland was under Russian rule for over 100 years. Finland finally gained independence, then fought off the Soviets two more times losing a substantial part of the country. Finland even teamed up with Hitler to fend off Soviet domination.

Like the crazies in the United States who stockpile their basements full of canned foods and semi-automatic weapons in preparation of the looming race wars, some Finns in 2010 still believe Russia invasion is imminent.

This rocky history has unfortunately perverted the Finns view on the Russian people. Russian women are all whores. Russian men are all lazy alcoholics. Russians are not to be trusted. Dirty Russians ruinlocal spas. Russian women flaunt their wealth and arrogance at Stockmann’s department store. Russians are buying up too much property in Finland.

…all your typical xenophobic stereotypes. And not good for Russians living in Finland, a group who make up Finland’s largest minority.

As I’m writing this, it’s tough to find any comedy in Finland’s relationship with the Russians. War tends to do that, sadly. Two nations of people who normally would live side-by-side in peace and harmony in the frigid north, are pitted against each other thanks to a handful of lunatics. The healing process will take decades if not centuries.

And let’s be honest, the Finns and Russians aren’t THAT much different: Both survive in extreme weather conditions, both have a poor background, both love to get blinded on a Friday night, both think Lada make a crap car, both share much of the same bodily features, both have some fine looking women.

What am I missing? Where’s the humor here? Any Russians out there who want to share what they think of Finland?

24.2.2010

Sweden according to the Finns

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,Sweden — Author: @ 11:02 am

Finns are extremely jealous and often bitter towards their westerly neighbors, but with good reason: Swedes have more money. Swedes have more class. Swedes dress better. Swedes are better at ice hockey. Swedish women are better looking. Swedish men have self confidence. Sweden has royalty. Sweden has ABBA. Sweden is better known throughout the world. Sweden has Volvo and Saab. Sweden is part of Scandinavia.

Ask a Swede, “What’s the difference between you Swedes and the Finns?” They’ll reply something like, “Well…Sweden has a long history of class, wealth and royalty, that had transcended on the Swedish people many centuries ago, to conceive a strong society and rich culture, which therefore has created a more advanced and superior country.” Ask a Finn that very same question, they’ll ponder for a few seconds then simply reply, “Swedes are gay.”

Remember the opening scene in Casino Royale where James Bond uses a dead body as a human shield to fend of bullets? The limp corpse continues to get mangled by gunfire while Bond maneuvers his way through the embassy. Well for about 150 years in recent history, James Bond was Sweden, that gunfire was Russia, and that human shield was Finland! Sweden sat carefree at the summer cottage while that buffer zone known as Finland protected them from imperialistic Russia.

So you can understand why some of the wartime Finns might still hold a grudge or ten. Search through any old-timer’s bookshelf and you’re sure to find, “Swedish War Heroes”. Open it to find a book full of blank pages. (FUNNY!)

Like a jealous neighbor, Finland is constantly playing “keeping up with the Swedes”. Sweden goes out and buys a brand new BMW, so naturally, Finland goes out and, slashes its’ tires.

But would you really give up a classless society for royalty? Would you really give up Volvo for Nokia? Wealth for a sense of humor? ABBA for Lordi? Dressing well for being called “gay”? Self confidence for being a douchebag? Well maybe you’d take ABBA over Lordi, but you get the point.

Even after an unsettling past, today’s Finland and Sweden are more like rival football clubs than anything else. It’s competition which keeps then jockeying for the #1 spot in various world indexes. And at the end of the day, they’ll kick back at the sauna, crack open an imported beer (which they both agree tastes better than their local brews), and talk shit about their REAL rival: Russia.

Tomorrow: Russia according to the Finns

31.12.2009

6 dead in shooting spree at Finnish shopping mall

Another random shooting in little Finland?! And another mass killing at a Helsinki area shopping mall?! Finland is known around the world for snow, Nokia, and now shooting sprees.

Do you still feel safe in Finland?? Of course you do, everyone is white, it must be safe. Ignorance is bliss.

But nevermind today’s attack, the shooter has a foreign name, so it’s not really a Finnish thing, it’s us foreigners.

UPDATE: It appears the shooter is the sixth dead, he appeared to have offed himself. Glad he did justice to his crimes, cause the Finnish courts would never have gave him justice, he’d be pardoned by the President aftter a few years, as is the custom.

UPDATE 2: Here’s an old interview with him…

A sad day. I feel terrible for all those involved. From Helsingin Sanomat…

Six people have been reported dead on Thursday morning in a shooting incident that took place at the Sello shopping mall in the Leppävaara district of Espoo.
Apparently a man in his early forties, whose identity is known to police, began shooting in the Prisma supermarket with a 9mm handgun at around 10 a.m. Police named the suspect as Ibrahim Shkupolli.

First reports indicated that three men and one woman were killed. A fifth victim was later found at a private apartment in Leppävaara, and is believed to be the gunman’s 42-year-old ex-girlfriend.
She was employed at the Prisma supermarket in Sello, and is thought to have been the primary target.
A restraining order had earlier been imposed on Shkupolli with regard to this woman.

The search continued for the gunman, and his body was eventually found a couple of hours later at an apartment in the Suvela district of Espoo. Indications are that he shot himself.
All of the victims at Sello were apparently members of the sales staff. One man was shot twice in the head. A woman was shot in the stomach and two other men were shot on a different floor of the mall complex, one of the largest in the Greater Helsinki area.
The male victims in the mall were born in 1969, 1975, and 1982. The woman was born in 1964.
No further details were given of other casualties.

The mall was emptied and police continued the search for the gunman in the shopping centre and the surrounding area, before extending the net to known addresses, where the man’s body was eventually discovered.
Prisma store staff and witnesses were taken to the public library on the premises.
The police held a press conference on the matter at 14:30, after a photograph of the suspect had been released to the media before the man was found dead.
Police had warned Shkupolli was armed and dangerous. He had previous convictions for firearms offences in 2004 and 2007.
Numerous police vehicles and ambulances attended the scene, and for some hours commuter trains were not stopping at Leppävaara station.

Police were not particularly forthcoming with details of the killings, or of whether others were hit by gunfire, but the impression given was that the primary target was the 42-year-old woman, and it is known that those killed in the shopping mall were her colleagues.
Whilst no specific reason has been given for why they were singled out by the gunman, the indications are that this horrible tragedy was not a “shooting-spree” killing of the kind that has made Finland internationally known in the past two years, following school massacres in Jokela and Kauhajoki by disaffected teenage pupils.
Nonetheless, it will inevitably reopen old wounds and will prompt further discussion on the large number of handguns owned in this country and on the tightening of restrictions on access to firearms.

28.11.2009

Giving out flyers in Finland ain’t easy

Tags: Finns,Helsinki,Life in FI,Video — Author: @ 1:21 pm

Comedian Louis Zezeran and I try to give out flyers for our comedy show around Helsinki. It ain’t easy – Massive respect to the gypsy beggars in Finland… (sorry to the video quality at the beginning kinda sucks)

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