Mar 31, 2008

Copyrights and the Pirate party

I'm slowly gravitating towards becoming involved in the Finnish Pirate party. The party, yet to be founded, is currently a project dedicated to found a "one-issue" party with a political program focusing on copyright and patent legistlation and privacy rights. The current draft version of the party program has five points:

1. Total legalization and freeing of copying and use of copyrighted materials for private, non-commercial purposes.

2. Restricting copyright terms for commercial purposes to five years

3. A complete ban on all DRM systems

4. A complete ban on program and medical patents

5. Securing the privacy of all citizens in face of increasing demands for surveillance and control in the war on terrorism

I personally want to lobby for including two further points: transparency and openness of government and freedom of speech and expression online. That's in the future, though.


Privacy and copyright law are two strongly interrelated points. They also present a very powerful reason why everyone should care about copyright law. Finland's Tekijänoikeuden tiedotus- ja valvontakeskus ry ("Copyright information and surveillance center", www.antipiracy.fi) gave a statement to the EU just this March on their views on measures to combat piratism. They support filtering all Internet traffic to stop downloads of illegal material.

In France, plans to force ISPs to filter all traffic for illegal material are already underway:
ars technica: France's plan to turn ISPs into copyright cops on track
ars technica: The insanity of France's anti-file-sharing plan: L'État, c'est IFPI

Similarly, the Recording Industry Association of America has launched a huge campaign to deny Internet users their privacy by subpoenaing ISPs to reveal the identities of the holders of IP numbers. This has been heavily criticised by, among others, the ACLU.

If our TTVK has their way, Finland will follow suit. The organization's members inlude Teosto, Gramex, ÄKT and just about every Finnish copyright-holders' alliance worth mentioning.

Think about the implications of all ISPs installing technology for filtering all Internet traffic. The possibilities for all kinds of abuse are amazing. Also, the potential follow-up effects may very easily get out of control. Our ISPs are already very close to being forced to ban access to sites on a secret police blacklist, and if TTVK can succesfully lobby for it, next they'll be forced to filter for copyrighted material. This February, Finland's ÄKT (ääni- ja kuvatallennetuottajat ry) announced they will begin lobbying for access to P2P sites to be blocked.

We've already seen the police flagrantly abuse the "child pornography" black list. What's the guarantee that the same won't happen with some creative definitions of copyrighted material?

Even worse, once the government starts regulating Internet use, who can say where it will end? In February, Tietokone magazine polled Finnish party leaders on whether Finnish Internet censorship should be extended beyond "child pornography" (I put it in quotes because that's not what is actually being censored in the name of child porn censorship). Several party leaders supported extending Internet censorship beyond child porn, into such topics as "violent websites" (?) and terrorism.

If it becomes acceptable to censor Internet traffic for copyrighted music, who's to say they won't start looking for child porn next? Or reading your e-mails to see if you're planning to bomb something?

In short, there is a significant industrial lobby in Finland that wants to use the excuse of fighting piratism to drastically reduce our privacy.


Not only that, but current "piracy" laws are being used to extract totally disproportionate penalties from anyone who is caught violating copyright. For example, in the Capitol vs Thomas case, a single mother from Minnesota was found guilty of distributing several copyrighted tracks on Kazaa. She was found guilty, and a jury awarded damages of over $9,000 per song to the copyright holder, a record label. In total, she is being forced to pay over $200,000 in damages.

Is a fine of over $9,000 a just and reasonable punishment for uploading a song to the Internet? Let alone a punishment of $200,000 for uploading 22 of them? Copyright holders are taking cases to court and claiming huge damages based on incredibly inflated calculations of how much they have supposedly suffered from one Minnesota mother uploading 22 songs.

She has applied against the damages, citing for evidence the fact that each song can be purchased legally online for 75 cents. For her to have caused $9,000 worth of damage by uploading a song, it would have had to have been downloaded over 10,000 times by users who would otherwise have bought it. That seems unlikely.


Meanwhile, some sensible ideas are being floated, like this one:

ars technica: Warner Music floats ISP surcharge idea for unlimited P2P music

An idea by Warner where Internet users could elect to pay a small monthly fee to their ISPs, which would be forwarded to recording artists, in exchange for unlimited access to P2P music. Jim Griffin and Warner Music say:

"Instead of suing handfuls of file-sharers, Griffin and Warner Music believe that the industry should be putting its time and effort into attempting to monetize P2P activity. The idea that music is a product that can be purchased and stolen needs to fall to the wayside, according to Griffin, saying that the industry needs to embrace the idea that music can be provided as a service."

Unfortunately, because of a global campaign to implement Internet filtering, ideas like this are themselves falling by the wayside in favor of heavy-handed censorship and surveillance.


As for copyrights in general, a recent study pegs the ideal time for a copyright to last at 14 years:

Researcher: Optimal copyright term is 14 years

It's worth thinking about whether the current scheme of indefinitely long copyrights are actually sensible, and whether they're doing anyone any good.

Mar 29, 2008

Blues, diving and Amin Asikainen

Today was Game 3 of the Blues-Jokerit semifinal series, which Jokerit won 3-2 in overtime. Incidentally, all three games have gone to the visiting team in overtime, so I guess I should've been betting on that...

I've been watching so little of the SM-liiga this season that I forgot how spectacular the diving in the league is. Blues got themselves a power play in the second period with one of the most spectacular dives I've seen all season. Later, Oskar Osala lost a fan (me) when he grabbed and held Robert Kantor in the same period; Kantor gave him a little shot with his left hand as they unentagled. Osala sold it like he'd been shot, dove to the ice and played dead. It was truly pathetic, and the refs bought it hook, line and sinker, and Kantor went to the box for roughing. Osala came straight up onto his feet and played on the first power play shift. There was nothing wrong with him.

In the SM-liiga, the refs will simply never call diving penalties, so it's always worth embellishing. I'm both sad and happy Jokerit, as a rule, never do this; happy because I hate diving, and sad because they're giving up a comparative advantage. Kärpät get huge mileage out of their dives and embellishments, which adds to the already-existing, documented, referee bias.

Of course, nothing has yet rivalled this.

Although to be honest, that second period dive today came close.


I was also watching Amin Asikainen on MTV3's poker program, Pokeritähti.

City-lehti

"72,5-kiloisten Euroopanmestarin Amin Asikaisen mukaan nyrkkeily ei ole tappelemista vaan tanssia, joka ei sovi naisille eikä homoille."

In translation:

"According to the 72,5-kilogram European Champion Amin Asikainen, boxing isn't fighting, it's a dance, but one that isn't for women or gays."

Not exactly one of my favorite people, thanks to statements like this. I understand being hit in the head for a living can do that to you, but it's absolutely stupid and irresponsible for a public figure to promote opinions like that.

The level of play on Pokeritähti was all right, to my surprise. Martina Aitolehti is playing well, which makes me happy. I watched her on Big Brother Finland, and I found her a surprisingly sympathetic person. She's looking beautiful on Pokeritähti, and playing good poker! Go Martina.


Mar 28, 2008

Wrong opinions are illegal in Finland - Mikko Ellilä sentenced

Helsingin Sanomat: Oikeus määräsi espoolaisen siivoamaan bloginsa rasistisista teksteistä

In translation, the Espoo district court has found a man from Espoo guilty of "ethnic agitation". According to Hesari, he wrote about Africans in such a derogatory and insulting way in his blog that the court decided to fine him and order him to remove the text from the Internet.

According to the district court, he only wrote his offensive statements for purposes of slandering and insulting the ethnic groups in question, and this was decisive in him being found guilty.

I wrote about this whole sorry mess earlier in Finland and the Freedom of Expression - part I, and I am unsurprised but saddened that the court case has run to its expected conclusion.

Ellilä's offending blog post can still be viewed, for the moment at least, here. What does he say in it?

Yes, he makes unfair generalizations about black people and Asian people. Yes, he says things that can certainly be considered rude, inconsiderate and even racist.

He states his opinion on Finnish and EU immigration policy, and cites facts, figures and statistics to support it. According to the Finnish justice system, when that opinion is wrong, it's racism and is a crime.

This is not a free society.

Mar 27, 2008

They start them early

The grand prize of next summer's NHL Entry Draft, Steve Stamkos, wrapped up Game 3 of the Sarnia-Windsor playoff series in the AHL with a vicious cross-check to the head of Windsor defenseman Harry Young. Somewhat predictably, Stamkos wasn't suspended by the league. In fact, he didn't even get a penalty.

The Windsor Star writes: 

"It's clear as day and (Stamkos) doesn't get a penalty or anything," Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner said.

...

"It's black and white on the tape," Boughner said. "There was a vicious cross check and there's no reprimand for it. I guarantee if (Windsor's) Richard Greenop did the same thing he'd get five games."

I don't doubt he's right. A cross-check to the head is a pretty vicious play, and dangerous. It's a well-established Canadian tradition in hockey, though, to never give their star players any real punishment. I just didn't know they start that early.


In the big league, there are two rulebooks: one for the stars and one for the rest. This covers two main things. First, suspensions.

Earlier this season, Chris Simon stomped on Jarkko Ruutu's foot with his skate, which I blagged about at the time. Simon was suspended for thirty games. He's a repeat offender, and the fact that he got only thirty games led the Hockey News's Adam Proteau to ask: What does it take to get a lifetime ban? I don't know. The thirty-game suspension was Chris Simon's eighth, and he had just recently returned from a 25-game suspension for attacking his opponent with his stick.

As far as I can tell, in order to get a lifetime suspension a player is probably going to have to bring a gun to the rink and shoot someone. Although if you're a star player, that might not do it, either.

Just this month, Anaheim Ducks captain Chris Pronger stomped on Vancouver's Ryan Kesler with his skate. Although the situation wasn't exactly identical, a stomp is a stomp, and it's a play no hockey player in the world has any business making. The NHL's disciplinarians stated that they considered Pronger a repeat offender, which is only fair as he already had seven suspensions behind him, the same amount as Chris Simon had, icluding two in last year's playoffs. This also wasn't Pronger's first skate-related incident, as he was suspended in 2004 for kicking Ville Nieminen.

Having said all this, no-one should be too surprised that the league suspended Pronger for a total of eight games. I have to say that Pronger's stomp wasn't nearly as heinous as Simon's, but still, it's amazing to me that one is worth 30 games and the other 8.

It's not just for Canadians, either. Last season, Alexander Ovechkin checked Daniel Briere from behind and sent him headfirst into the boards in one of the most dangerous and downright reckless plays of the season. Naturally, the league decided not to suspend him.

It basically goes without saying that in the NHL, a star player can get away with a lot, and will generally speaking not be suspended, no matter what they do. In the case of Sidney Crosby, the refs won't even call penalties on him for blatant fouls. Crosby knows he's a superstar, so he gets amazingly riled up if he's checked or fouled, and will start going off on his opponents like crazy. He plays like an NHL 2K7 enforcer when he's pissed off, and the refs will only very rarely call penalties on him.

Crosby segues nicely into the other way in which it's good to be a star in the NHL. There's a culture of star player worship in North America, and especially in Canada, where if you're a star, you play by a totally different set of rules. Your fellow Canadians won't check you, they won't try to take the puck away from you or in any way interfere with your play.

Sidney Crosby is obviously the most blatant example of this garbage. He was probably checked a total of five times last season. When he's on the ice, the entire Pittsburgh power play revolves around him, and his teammates constantly pass him the puck. Almost every play goes through Sidney. Wouldn't you think it would make sense to try to take him out of the game by having a player cover him? Instead, in every single regular season game, the opposing team leaves him completely alone. No-one checks him, no-one tries to take the puck away from him. Almost everyone only defends against him half-heartedly.

Anyone who doesn't think this is true only needs to compare the way Ottawa played against Pittsburgh in last year's regular season and the way they played in the playoffs. In the playoffs, suddenly it was OK to check Crosby and he didn't have all the time and space in the world to make his plays.

I blagged about another instance of the same mentality earlier this season in Jarkko Ruutu hits Ilya Kovalchuk, which really explains itself. I remarked on this Crosby nonsense there as well.

Earlier this season, there were a few instances of Hockey News contributors coming out against some of the aspects of this stupid star-worship culture. Ryan Dixon blogged on the foolishness of the culture where if you hit a "skill" player, you have to drop the gloves and fight that team's enforcer (THN.com Blog: Five for a clean hit). The blog article is fine, and it comes complete with reader comments like "This piece goes against what a big piece of the game of hockey is all about.".

I'm sorry, but the idea that you're not allowed to check certain players (the goaltender apart, obviously) has nothing to do with hockey.

Not everyone agrees. In February, Colorado's Ian Laperriere checked Detroit's Nicklas Lidström into the boards in a hard but legal hit. Several people were very upset, and Detroit's Aaron Downey went after Laperriere immediately. Brian Costello blogged for the Hockey News with a well-chosen title: THN.com Blog: What's next, eliminate hitting?.

In today's NHL, there are two different rulebooks. If you're a star player, you're treated differently by everyone else on the ice, including the referees, and you're handed suspensions on a different basis than the others. In my humble opinion, this isn't hockey, it's bullshit. I'd like to see how many 100-point seasons Sidney Crosby could have if his opponents actually played against him properly. This cult of the star player is the single most annoying thing for me in the NHL.

Then again, other leagues have it worse. I noticed the lousy attendance numbers for Monday's Blues-Jokerit semifinal, and now Jokerit-Blues drew only 7,000 attendees although the Jokerit arena can hold 13,500. MTV3 noticed (SM-liigan pudotuspelit kiinnostavat odotettua vähemmän), and it really is a telling statement on how interesting the nation at large finds the SM-liiga playoffs when regular season games draw bigger crowds than the league semifinals.

There are a number of reasons why I suppose that happens. One of them is a general lack of interest in the playoffs because of how dominant Kärpät are. I blagged about why that is earlier, but suffice to say that a combination of dishonest financing and league bias have gotten Kärpät to the top, and with a bigger player budget than any other team in the league, they do dominate, which frankly makes for a boring playoffs.

The single biggest reason has to be the league's insane TV rights agreement. They sold exclusive TV rights to the league to Canal+, which is a pay-TV channel. One national channel, Nelonen, showed one regular season game per month, which they didn't advertise in any way. I make an effort to keep up with sports programming in this country, and they mostly took even me by surprise.

The hit in national visibility the league took was huge, and I suppose most people, especially in the 20% of the population that lives in the Greater Helsinki area, just don't really care about hockey any more. That's a really sad thing to say, but the attendance numbers are in.

There are a number of big reasons the league is stale. Kärpät is one, but the general divide in the league between the big budget teams, the mid-range teams and the low-budget teams is very deep, and there are few upsets. Mostly it's the same teams in the final stages of the playoffs, which creates the truly boring playoff situation where one team is usually a huge favorite and the other is an underdog. This could be somewhat rectified with some kind of salary cap, but above all the SM-liiga is too big and has too many weak teams.

The league has been closed ever since 2000, with the single exception of KalPa returning to the league a few years back, and that means even though a team has a horrible year and finishes dead last in the league (Ässät) or consistently fails to produce the level of play where they might have the slightest chance of making the playoffs (KalPa), they still keep hanging around. It's really hard to be interested in a Jokerit-KalPa game, where either our team will win (the expected result, and a boring game) or we'll lose humiliatingly (not something I want to be around to see).

Also, it's really hard to develop any emotional investment in a playoff series when it's more than likely that you haven't seen a single game by the other team all year, let alone one against your team. I don't remember seeing a single Blues game this season, and even though I've been seeing plenty of them as they're my "hometown team" (that I don't root for) and I'm basically very interested in whether Blues or Jokerit goes through, I can't muster the energy to go to any games myself.

In a time where hockey has to compete with other forms of entertainment more and more, the SM-liiga is killing itself. The NHL responded to the total disaster of the lockout with rule changes and aggressive marketing; if the past is anything to go by, the SM-liiga will do nothing at all.

Mar 26, 2008

Happy birthday Keira Knightley!

A very happy birthday to Keira Knightley, who we all remember from Star Wars.


No, seriously, she was in Star Wars. Click on the link.


Lest we forget, in addition to being a Star Wars actor, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Pride and Prejudice (2005).

I have to admit that I was perfectly prepared to hate that movie. I loved the BBC TV version that seemingly typecast Colin Firth for the rest of his life, and the idea of a remake starring Keira Knightley wasn't very high on my list of good ideas. As it happens, I was wrong, and it's a great movie.

Happy birthday, Keira!

Mar 25, 2008

Malaysian GP thoughts

Some belated thoughts on the Malaysian GP:

Felipe Massa sucks. Seriously speaking, I respect anyone who's a good enough driver to have made their way to F1 and Ferrari, but Massa has been left playing second fiddle to both his Ferrari team-mates to date, simply because they've both driven far better than him. The problem is that Massa is simply rubbish as a number two driver. He lacks consistency and reliability, as amply demonstrated in Malaysia by his spinout, which destroyed a Ferrari double win that would have put them right back in the fight for the constructors' championship.

When Michael Schumacher was racing Fernando Alonso for the championship, Felipe was practically useless as a number-two driver, a glaring contrast to his predecessor Rubens Barrichello. Giancarlo Fisichella was a far better number two driver for Alonso than Massa ever was, and now that Massa is tanking another season, I almost wish Ferrari could get Barrichello back.

Fisichella is doing a great job with the Force India car, finishing 12th, which really isn't bad for them. As Fisico is a far better number two driver than Massa, and clearly his racing days aren't behind him yet, I'd say there was a trade to be made there. If this was hockey, Massa to Force India for Fisichella and a draft pick.

Williams and expectations. Says f1.com: "Lowly placings were certainly not what Williams expected as they travelled from Australia’s podium." I don't know, I quite distinctly remember Nico Rosberg telling the Finnish media very clearly that Williams can't reasonably expect to make the podium again, and are going to be fighting for "best of the rest" behind BMW. To me, that's lowly placings, although admittedly Nico's P14 and Nakajima's dead last finish were a disappointment.

The back end. Meaning Honda, Super Aguri, Force India and Toro Rosso. I already mentioned Fisico lighting up with Force India, and as they're doing better than expected, I note that Toro Rosso needs to work out how to keep their Ferrari engines from exploding. I was expecting Toro Rosso to do well with Vettel and Bourdais, but so far Vettel keeps exploding and Bourdais hasn't exactly been sensational.

Props to Super Aguri for reliability; unlike Toro Rosso, they don't keep exploding this season. If they can get some capital from their new part-owners, more championship points might be possible this season. Honda is also doing encouragingly well after last season's debacle, which was a shame because I quite liked the exceptional paintwork last year. It would've deserved a better season.

Heikki Kovalainen madness. As I complained earlier, those of us at the mercy of MTV3's Finnish-language broadcasts are suffering from commentator Oskari Saari's McLaren fanboyism. Last season, he couldn't go a single race without a hundred different ways of telling us how brilliant, fantastic and wonderful Lewis Hamilton is. Now that Heikki Kovalainen's driving for McLaren, the madness has gotten even worse. Now it's not so much about how supercalifragilisticexplialidocious Lewis is, but about how Heikki Kovalainen has already as good as won the F1 championship for the next 20 years.

Given what went on last year, I was sort of expecting this, but Osku surprised even me. He insisted, and continues to insist, that without the safety car episodes at the Australian GP, Heikki Kovalainen would have won it. I, and seemingly just about everyone else, think this is at best a considerable stretch, and at worst just rubbish. He carried on with this all the way into the Malaysian GP, and I'm sure we'll hear about it in Bahrain. I can just see how the Heikki Kovalainen legend is going to be built: the plucky Finnish driver does far better than the nefarious Brit, but then Scum Hamilton is rescued by a "convenient" safety car. For a while, that would be fun after last season's Hamilton hype, but it's would get really old really fast. I'm afraid we're going to find out how fast.

Osku also seems to think F1 is a national series with Finland driving against the world. I wish someone would share an insight with him: F1 is a team sport. There is no national series; Finland isn't driving in F1, Ferrari and McLaren are. According to the MTV3 team, Malaysia is the best ever Finnish GP result, with one Finnish driver winning and another placing third. Fair enough, but some of us are actually rooting for the teams involved, not for the drivers' nationalities. I'm a diehard Ferrari fan, and after last year's espionage scandal and McLaren's disgusting conduct in it, in my humble opinion McLaren shouldn't be allowed to race at all right now. Therefore I'm less than thrilled by having Heikki Kovalainen shoved down my throat.

Can you imagine what an NHL game would be like if it was called the way F1 is in Finland? We'd get a Dallas-Detroit game where the commentators ignore the standings and score, and concentrate on pointing out every time Jere Lehtinen has a good shift and on Valtteri Filppula's faceoff percentage. No-one would watch garbage like that.

A far larger issue is that I'm simply opposed to nationalism in sports. F1 brings a huge number of nations together for a common cause: driving really quick. As a Ferrari fan, I'm rooting for an Italian team with a Finnish driver and a Brazilian driver. I have a great deal of sympathy for, among others, the Indian team with a Brazilian and German driving. F1 is a great place to look beyond the flags and see real multinational co-operation and coming together. Instead, some commentators put the nationalist blinkers on even tighter and try to turn this great international event into an "us against them" race. That just makes me sad.

The hockey analogy is Don Cherry, eternally spouting off about how Canadians are the greatest hockey players ever and all those foreigners are scum. I wish MTV3, and Oskari Saari especially, would stop calling a Kovalainen and Räikkönen versus the world race and in Bahrain actually give us a Ferrari-McLaren race.


As a postscript, I apologize for missing Alyson Hannigan's birthday yesterday. As the actress who played a Jewish lesbian on one of the more prominent TV series of the last decade, she deserves our notice.


Happy birthday Alyson!

Mar 22, 2008

They can't do that!

The Malaysian Grand Prix stewards did something unthinkable today: after both McLaren drivers blocked rivals in today's qualifying, they were both given a penalty.

Let me just make the point: Lewis Hamilton was given a penalty for breaking the rules in F1.

Anyone who watched F1 last season will know how shocking this is. Could it be that he's finally beginning to lose some of his untouchable status? Are race stewards now allowed to assees penalties against Hamilton?

It's much more likely the FIA will decide that although Hamilton broke the rules, he's Lewis Hamilton, and will be given pole position to compensate for the terrible injustice of someone suggesting it's possible he can break rules.

Alonso, naturally, will be disqualified.

Mar 20, 2008

Happy birthday Valtteri Filppula!

It's Valtteri Filppula's birthday today, so to celebrate, here's some YouTube clips.

Valtteri Filppula at the 2004 World Junior championships

Valtteri scored the game winner, and Finland went on to win the bronze medal. In hindsight from 2008: try to spot NHL players in that clip. Sean Bergenheim is there, and that's Hannu Toivonen in goal.

Sami Lepistö and Valtteri Filppula, both from Jokerit, were tournament all-stars. This year, Sami made the NHL too, with the Washington Capitals. My feeling is that Sami's going to need at least one full season in the AHL before he graduates to a good puck-moving defenceman on the NHL level, so next year or the year after, expect good things from him!

Valtteri made the big time with Jokerit in 2003-04, the lockout season, and I had the priviledge of watching him play all the way to the finals that year. The NHL, unsurprisingly, came calling, and in 2004-05 Valtteri became the first Finnish player to play for the Detroit Red Wings.

Valtteri's first NHL goal! Sweet.

This year, he's scored 19+17=36 points and is a very respectable +20.

Scoring on Tomas Vokoun

He kicks ass. Valtteri's making a name for himself as a top-six forward with Detroit, and is on his way to becoming a fairly rare player: a bona-fide Finnish center. There aren't that many of those around.

Happy birthday Valtteri!

Mar 19, 2008

XenuTube

A video of the March 15th protest in Lahti:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=fcT5ZiwUOfI&feature=related

The next protests are scheduled for April 12th. The theme is Operation Reconnect, and the goal to show support for people cut off from their families by Scientology's disconnection policy.

Mar 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's day!

For those of you who celebrate it, happy St. Pat's. The rest of us can get in the mood with a music video that I can only honestly describe as St. Patrick's Day parade fetish porn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVi-KtBCes0

Also, on the topic of Youtube, here's a song that was played at the Lahti Scientology protests. Strangely enjoyable!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx3S5mqvvig

Last but not least:

http://pop.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOU8GIRUd_g&feature=related

Mar 15, 2008

Hail Xenu!

Another succesful demonstration; this time, "celebrating" L. Ron Hubbard's birthday by demonstrating outside the Dianetics Center in Lahti.

Media coverage:

Helsingin Sanomat: Skientologiaa vastaan osoitettiin mieltä Lahdessa

I'm very proud to have participated in rickrolling Scientology in
Finland. 

 

Hail Xenu!

Mar 14, 2008

Smew porn

 I could write something about yesterday's Pirate party meet, the approaching F1 season kickoff, tomorrow's anti-Scientology demonstration, the seven new deadly sins or any number of other things. Instead, here's some smews.

Yes, smews. Sort of.

Note: DEFINITELY NOT WORK SAFE. Not for minors or anyone who doesn't want to see, well, a porn movie trailer.

http://www.hustler.fi/node/31

Most. Amazing. Thing. Ever. Thank you, Something Awful forums.

Mar 13, 2008

Pirates! (yar!)

There's a project underway to found a Pirate Party in Finland. Their homepage is here:

http://piraattipuolue.fi/etusivu.html

The goal is to found a party modeled on the lines of Sweden's Pirate party, campaigning for more liberal  intellectual property rights and freedom of speech and privacy on the Internet. Anyone interested should check out the above link.

On the topic, here's a good read from Wired magazine:

Chris Anderson: Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

Mar 12, 2008

LOL Xenu

The Anonymous protests have encouraged several ex-Scientologists to set up this website:

http://exscientologykids.com/

Another reminder that it really is important to demonstrate against Scientology, to tell people that we, the rest of the world, don't approve of their oppressive policies. Remember:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disconnection

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Freakout

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Snow_White

This is serious stuff we're talking about. Show up at Lahti on Saturday if you can. There's a bus from Helsinki, leaving at 10:45.

The website for the demonstration:

http://skientologia.loukku.org/

By the by, I've looked at the law, and as near as I can tell, it will be legal to wear a disguise of some sort for the demonstration. Here's what the Finnish penal code has to say:

Section 13a - Illegal wearing of a disguise (1006/2004)
A person who, in connection with a public meeting or a public event arranged in a public place or other public assembly arranged in a public place, wears a disguise so that he/she cannot be recognised and clearly intends to employ violence against a person or cause damage to property shall be sentenced for illegal wearing of a disguise to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of three months.

As long as we don't "clearly intend to employ violence", we should be OK. This is just in case someone doesn't want their mugshot taken by scientologists.

Hail Xenu!

Mar 11, 2008

Undefined feelings toward a machine

Helsingin Sanomat has a panel, as they put it: of some 100 influential people from the arts, sciences and media. They answer questions regarding whatever Hesari decides to ask them. Last week, they told us Internet censorship is just fine: HS-raati: Nettisensuuri kitkeköön lapsipornoa. 56% of respondents think that censoring the Internet is perfectly acceptable to stop child pornography. For all Finnish speakers, here's some choice cuts from their answers :

Atro Kahiluoto:

Sananvapauden periaate ei ole mikään kaikki muut periaatteet ylittävä superperiaate. Tässä tapauksessa sananvapauden periaatetta on sovitettava yhteen sen periaatteen kanssa, että yhteiskunnan pitää suojella hyväksikäytöltä sellaisia jäseniään, jotka eivät siihen itse kykene. Yhteensovittaminen on kompromissia, jossa molemmista periaatteista on todennäköisesti tingittävä jotain.

Could someone finally explain to me how censoring pictures of a crime protects the victims of the crime? How will these stupid police blacklists protect a single child from abuse?

Several other respondents were quite ferocious in advancing their opinions that child pornography can't be allowed on the Internet. I agree. None of them apparently understand the difference between censoring something and prosecuting the people responsible for it.

Antti Tuuri:

Uskon, että ilman lapsipornoa tullaan toimeen. Ja jos sen sensuroinnin mukana jokunen muu pornosivu lipsahtaa hukkaan, niin eiköhän niitä sittenkin ole riittävästi saatavilla.

I so sincerely hope the police decide to censor his books. After all, if it's for a good cause, what does it matter if some Finnish novelists' books are burnt by accident? There are plenty of authors in Finland, after all.

Markku Valkonen:

Sensuuri on ruma sana ja vielä rumempaa on erilaisten vapauksien sensurointi. Jos rikollisuuden torjuntaa aletaan oitis kutsua sensuuriksi, saadaan tietenkin rajoitustoimet näyttämään vapauden loukkauksilta ja suorastaan rikollisilta teoilta.

Ah, it's only censorship because we *call* it that.

Silja Rantanen, a Finnish painter:

"Internetin rajoitukset uhkaavat sananvapautta" kuulostaa kognitiiviselta väittämältä, vaikka kysymys on oikeastaan koneeseen kohdistuvista hämäristä tunteista. Kognitiivisiksi naamioiduilla väittämillä yritetään poliittisessa ja tieteellisessä retoriikassa tyrmätä vastaväitteet.

["undefined feelings toward a machine"]

Internetiin on alettu sijoittaa tunteita, koska se on meille nykyisin niin keskeinen impulssien lähde.

Tavallista on, että poliittisessa puheessa, siis puheessa, hypätään moraalisten kysymysten yli suoraan tekniikkaan, koska siten päästään ottamasta kantaa vaikeisiin moraalisiin kysymyksiin. Eikö lapsipornoa kannata sensuroida, kun ei ole varmaa onnistuuko sensuuri? Ajatuskulku on sama kuin jos henkirikoksia arvioitaisiin sen perusteella, kuinka epävarmoja niiden torjumiseen käytetyt menetelmät ovat.


The first paragraph always leaves me speechless. Plenty of other people took the same line she takes later on; it doesn't matter if the means used are inefficient, as long as the goal is good.

Of course, there's inefficient and there's inefficient. The kind of inefficient we're dealing with here is the kind where the Constitution is completely ignored, the police block access to websites that criticize them and police officials and politicians lie to the media. But I guess that's okay, then.

Also, notice that she says political speech avoids questions of morality. Did you notice how she completely avoided any questions of the morality of censorship?

Anja Snellman:

Kirjoittaessani viime vuonna ilmestynyttä romaanini Lemmikkikaupan tyttöjä tutustuin perinpohjin internetin tarjontaan tässä asiassa.

Siksikin olen ehdottomasti sitä mieltä että lapsipornosivujen suodatuslistat ja operaattoreiden velvoittaminen niiden käyttämiseen ovat välttämättömiä.

Asian yleistä seurantaa pitäisi tiukentaa ja kansalaiskeskustelun tulisi olla avointa ja ajan tasalla. Kauhistelu ja torjunta eivät auta.

Tämä ei ole sananvapauskysymys vaan ihmisoikeuskysymys.


I wonder what qualifies as a question of the freedom of speech, if flagrantly violating a constitutional ban on censorship doesn't? Although obviously she knows better than me; I mean, she's been on the Internet! She's actually looked at it!

Kudos to Antti Alanen, professor Kari Enqvist, Sofi Oksanen and several others who opposed censorship and presented intelligent arguments against it. Their fellow "intellectuals", however, typify everything that's wrong with this discussion, this issue and this country. These people are supposed to be intelligent, civilized, influential people, yet when you say "child pornography" to them they go berserk and will support anything.

Notice that none of these people are displaying the slightest understanding of what the issue is. They don't seem to have any idea that there's a problem with censorship, or indeed any idea that the Finnish constitution bans it. Most of them seem to believe that censoring child pornography will actually help. I don't understand how. They thoroughly confuse censoring somethnig with preventing it and taking actual steps to fight it.

Judging from their answers, most of the Helsingin Sanomat panel would be perfectly happy if the police covered all crime scenes with a blanket so we couldn't see them. For them, that's fighting crime.

I could go on about this forever, but it would be easier if you looked at their answers yourselves. Then again, that would probably only make you as angry as I am right now, so you can save yourselves the trouble.


The fundamental problem is that Finland pretends it's a Western democracy, but our culture and attitudes are far from it. Here, again, there's an obvious conflict between our human rights and the government's policy, and it only occurs to a scattered handful of these "intellectuals" to even bring up our freedom of speech. Indeed, we get several of them telling us that something that violates our constitutional rights isn't an issue of constitutional rights.

Of course, Finnish intellectuals are notoriously confused. Here's a column from Helsingin Sanomat, where professor Erkki Sevänen tells us that child pornography and teenage prostitution are caused by the market economy. (my thanks to http://fi-anccap.blogspot.com/ for the link)


As a minor victory, professor of law Tuomas Ojanen told tietokone.fi that the law is against the constitution: Nettisensuuri voi rikkoa perustuslakia. Of course, this same opinion was presented a number of times before the law was passed, so what difference will this make? None.

The reason we have such a dismal human rights situation in Finland, compared to, say, the other Nordic countries, is that there is simply no concept of human rights in Finland. As soon as our basic human rights come into conflict with anything, human rights are jettisoned. Finland likes to talk about human rights, at least until you bring up censorship, conscription or anything else that might pose a moral dilemma.

Mar 10, 2008

Penalty shots

Another Kärpät player, and consequently one of my non-favorite players, Niklas Bäckström, helped the San Jose Sharks to a franchise-record ninth straight win by not being able to stop a single penalty shot in last night's game; one penalty shot was awarded during play, and two of the three San Jose shooters in the game-deciding penalty shots scored, with the third shooter missing the net.

Of course, Finnish hockey fans shouldn't be surprised; most of us saw Bäckström spectacularly lose Finland's quarterfinal game at the 2005 World Championships. The game went to a shootout only because Russia's Maxim Sokolov didn't exactly bring his best game in net either. Bäckström let in some spectacularly bad goals throughout regulation, and the game went on to this shootout.

Again, the only time the puck didn't end up in the net behind Bäckström was when it missed altogether. The fact that Bäckström managed to win the Crozier trophy and co-win the Jennings last season is testament to how "great" the Minnesota trap really is.

Mar 8, 2008

Happy birthday Andrea Parker!

Since today is International Women's Day, it seems appropriate to celebrate a woman's birthday. Andrea Parker, born March 8th, 1969, in Monterey, California, turns a number of years today.




People who watch silly TV shows remember her from NBC's The Pretender, where she was hot. Below she's being evil in Pretender.




The rest of the world saw her as Julia Roberts' legs in the opening scene of Pretty Woman; one of the great stunt performances of all time. Being a ballet dancer is good for your legs, I guess. Lest you think she's just a pretty face, according to Wikipedia she's also trained as a stunt driver. Later she also traded in the ballet shoes for a handgun and took up shooting.

Needless to say, I'm a fan. Happy birthday!

Mar 7, 2008

Visors, Veltto Virtanen and Jenna Miscavige

A bunch of small items today:

Hockey

The AHL has been forcing its players to wear visors since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, and now some of the data is in.

"Basically, there's no longer any real argument for not wearing a visor," said AHL commissioner Dave Andrews.

Story by thestar.com

Scientology

Current Scientology leader David Miscavige's niece speaks out on Scientology and their policy of disconnection. Scientology breaks up families by forcing them to break all contacts with family members who aren't members of the Church of Scientology.

Also, here's some fun YouTube footage from the February protests.

Veltto Virtanen

Finnish MP Veltto Virtanen has posted a rebuttal to the bad reception his speech at Tuesday's protest got.

I had to check, and I did: that is actually his website. (if you go to the parliament web page and find Veltto, the link to his personal site does actually direct you to that)

Mar 6, 2008

Political Compass

Here's something fun to do, from http://fi-anccap.blogspot.com/:

The Political Compass

Measure your political opinions and find out what you think. Won't take more than a few minutes, and it's worth it.

My score:



According to this test, I'm more libertarian than Milton Friedman.

Here, "right" means economic liberalism, which they confusingly call neo-liberalism, and "left" means economic anti-liberalism.

Give it a shot!

Mar 5, 2008

A successful demonstration

It's nice that my 50th blog post can be the chronicle of a succesful demonstration.


 
Picture from yle.fi.


Original photo from http://torax.pp.fi/images/album/Mielenosoitus/


Original photo from http://torax.pp.fi/images/album/Mielenosoitus/


Picture from http://tukijaverkosto.org/sensuurimiekkari/DSC_1015.html, copyright Tuomas Venhola 2008, reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

Some 500 people showed up, which in this country is a huge success. We made the news, too:

TV news:
YLE TV news (YouTube)
MTV3 news at seven (YouTube)
Nelonen (YouTube)

You can actually spot us in both clips. Hooray! I've been on television!

Online:
Tietokone: Mielenosoittajat muistuttivat eduskuntaa sananvapaudesta
Tietokone: Videokooste sensuurimielenosoituksesta
YLE: Internetin ennakkosensuurin vastustajat osoittivat mieltään

In related news, Suvi Lindén still has absolutely no idea what's going on.

Viestintäministeri puolustaa yhä estoa lapsipornosivuille (YouTube)
A-studio 27.2.08 (YouTube)

We heard several politicians speak, and no-one seems to have the slightest clue what the problem is. Not one mention was made of the Constitution of Finland, which the law flagrantly violates.

Meanwhile, the police are straightforwardly lying about their censorship. In the A-studio program I linked to above, the now infamous inspector Henriksson has the nerve to claim that all the blocked sites contain child pornography. Apparently he can't distinguish between a domain and a website, and makes a complete fool of himself in claiming that all blocked sites contain child pornography.

He also has absolutely no problem with the fact that the police have used a law that allows for the blocking of foreign sites to block a Finnish website. Henriksson says this is because the site owner is suspected of a crime, but that doesn't give the police any authority to block his website.

What have we learned? The Finnish Constitution isn't worth the paper it's written on, and the police have zero respect for the law and our human rights.

Welcome to Finland!

Mar 4, 2008

What's wrong here?

The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (Keskusrikospoliisi), who are at the center of the Internet censorship scandal in Finland, recently threatened Internet users who are hosting mirrors of a banned site.

To recap, in February, the NBI blocked access to Matti Nikki's website, http://lapsiporno.info, which contained information on and discussion about the police's scheme to ban certain websites that allegedly contain child pornography. Nikki was highly critical of the scheme and demonstrated that many of the blocked websites had nothing to do with child pornography. In response, the police blocked his website.

Inspector Lars Henriksson of the NBI recently threatened Finnish internet users who are hosting mirrors of Nikki's site. "People with these kinds of sites should be wise, and think, and consult with a lawyer about what would be a wise solution," he said. He didn't want to specify the consequences that might be involved, but said: "There are smarter ways to discuss things."

Tietokone magazine brought up the public criticism of banning Nikki's site; if it contains something illegal, the correct procedure would be to get a court order to close it down and charge the site owner with the crime. The magazine asked Henriksson why the appropriate legal steps haven't been taken.

"We're seeing to one thing at a time, there isn't time for everything. We'll see what happens," he replied.

We've now come to this: in 2008, the police are interpreting a law intended against foreign child pornography websites to ban a Finnish site critical of them. They then publicly threaten their critics.


Let me run down what's wrong with the NBI's censorship:

1) the police are reinterpreting the law far beyond what it was intended for

The law on preventing the distribution of child pornography (1.12.2006/1068) gives the police the authority to compile lists of foreign websites that distribute child pornography. Nikki's website is not a foreign website (it is hosted in Finland) and it has never contained child pornography.

In a public debate with Nikki, Finnish minister of communications Suvi Lindén insisted that the law has not been restricted to only foreign-based websites.

Again, that's not what the law says. The introduction to the law very clearly specifies that its purpose is to prevent access to foreign websites. According to a Finnish minister, when the law says foreign, it doesn't mean foreign. Certainly the police are interpreting the law in the same way she is.

Inspector Lars Henriksson of the NBI told Finnish magazine Tekniikka & Talous (quoted in Iltalehti) that although Nikki's site is hosted in Finland, the law gives the police authority to block sites that have functioning links to child pornography.

The law, which can be read in Finnish at finlex.fi, says no such thing. The police are arguing that posting a link to a banned website constitutes distributing child pornography, which is outrageous and is entirely their own invention. Certainly the law says nothing about links.

The same inspector told Ilta-Sanomat that part of the problem is that people don't seem to understand that "teen porn" is, in fact, child pornography. In fact, nearly all "teen porn" websites on the Internet carry disclaimers that state the models depicted on the site were 18 years old or older at the time the photos were taken. If the Finnish police has actual, actionable information that this is not true, then why are they blocking the sites instead of telling the police of whatever country the sites are based in that there is a child pornography website hosted in their country? Could the reason be that the police have no such evidence?

As per a post in the EFFI.org blog, the police's list of blocked sites contains several commercial websites in the United States, the Netherlands and Germany. If the police have evidence that they contain child pornography, why haven't they informed those countries and had the websites taken down? If they don't contain child pornography, why are they blocked?

What this boils down to is that a law that enables blocking foreign websites that contain child pornography is being interpreted by the police in a way that totally diverges from what was originally written into law. They are blocking sites without regard for what they contain or where they're based. The next point deals with why this is potentially a huge problem.

2) the police are using the law as a measure to bypass the Finnish justice system completely.

The list of blocked sites is maintained by the NBI, and it is secret. The law that allows for setting up the list says it may be used to block sites that contain child pornography. The police, however, is not obligated to demonstrate to anyone that the sites do, in fact, contain child pornography. There is no process of review for what websites end up on the list. In fact, because the list is secret, the police won't answer questions about whether specific sites are on it.

In the case of Matti Nikki, the police claim his website contains child pornography. Since his website is hosted in Finland, if its contents are breaking the law, the correct procedure would be for police to get a warrant for the closure of the website and charge its owner. This hasn't been done; instead, the police have blocked access to Nikki's site.

If they went to court, they would have to demonstrate that Nikki has posted links to websites that contain actual child pornography. They would also have to make a succesful case that posting a link to a website that contains criminal material is a crime. This is how the Finnish justice system works. Instead of taking this route, the police's extremely liberal interpretation of the law allows them to bypass the justice system completely and simply block the website. This way, they don't have to demonstrate anything to anyone, and can simply block access to the site.

If evidence for a site containing child pornography was required for the police to block it, some of the most infamous examples of blocked sites wouldn't have made it onto the list. Some of them are listed here; they include businesses selling hearing aids and dolls. Clearly the police haven't amassed enough evidence to make a case in court that these sites contain child pornography. Their blocking has apparently been completely arbitrary.

3) the police are using the law as a weapon to silence criticism

The idea that posting a link to a site that allegedly (as mentioned out in the previous point, no evidence is required) contains child pornography constitutes distributing child pornography is outrageous and ridiculous. The police, however, treat their own interpretation as law, and have used this rationale to block a website that criticises their censorship.

Not one representative of the police has admitted that there is anything wrong with blocking a site that criticizes the government. The Finnish minister for communications, Suvi Lindén, has constantly maintained that the only issue at hand is that child pornography must be stopped. She even released an official communique via the Ministry of Communications and Trade that says it is unacceptable that the distribution of child pornography is being treated as a question of free speech.

The police are using the excuse of fighting child pornography to censor their critics.

4) the law places the police's internet censorship above and beyond democratic contol

There is no process of appeal against the police's decision to censor websites because the process is secret. The police are using a law to give themselves powers far beyond the intentions and even far beyon the actual text of the law, and

The aforementioned Inspector Henriksson told Ilta-Sanomat that if people start accusing the police of breaking the law, they have to provide proof. Apparently an inspector in the Finnish central national police is under the impression that the police doesn't need to justify their actions.

According to Henriksson, "few people" have specified any blocked websites that don't contain child pornography. It's outrageous and offensive to the most basic principles of democracy that the Finnish police expect to be allowed to do whatever they like unless someone can prove they're breaking the law.

Also, Finnish politicians are resisting the idea that it would be their job to provide some kind of oversight. Minister for Communications Suvi Lindén told Aamulehti that it isn't her job to doubt the police. She continues to insist that all the banned sites contain child pornography, even when it has been repeatedly demonstrated that this is not true.

The Finnish police are placing themselves above any kind of democratic oversight, and Finnish politicians are going along with it.

5) the law itself is unconstitutional


I quote at length from a statement by the University of Turku, given to the Ministry of Trade and Communications before the passing of the law:

Lausuntopyynnön pohjana oleva ehdotus on ilmeisellä tavalla perustuslainvastainen. Ehdotuksen mukaisella lailla säädettäisiin salainen ennakkosensuurijärjestelmä, joka perustuisi ehdotuksen mukaan internet-operaattorien vapaaehtoiseen toimintaan, mutta jonka tarkoituksena olisi viranomaistoimin estää poliisiviranomaisen lainvastaiseksi epäilemän viestin vastaanottaminen. Sensuurin sisältö perustuisi poliisiviranomaisen ylläpitämään listaan internet-osoitteista. Järjestelmä esitetään operaattoreille vapaaehtoisena, mutta mikäli operaattorit eivät sensuuria toteuttaisi, säädettäisiin operaattoreita velvoittava sensuurijärjestelmä.

Vaikka esityksen tavoite lasta esittävän pornografisen aineiston levittämisen estämisestä on sinällään legitiimi, on huomattava, että esityksen tarkoituksena on nimenomaisesti ja julkilausutusti poliisin avustuksella toteutettava, tietyn viestin sisältöön perustuva, mutta tietyn sisällöntuottajan olemassa olevaan ja tulevaan aineistoon kokonaisuudessaan kohdistuva ennakkosensuuri. Vaikka estosta esityksen mukaan huolehtisikin teleoperaattori ”vapaaehtoisesti”, on huomattava vakiintuneesti katsotun, että PL 12 §:n sisältämää ennakkosensuurin kieltoa ei voida kiertää osoittamalla ennakkotarkastustehtävät yksityisille. Kun lisäksi otetaan huomioon esitykseen sisältyvä ajatus siitä, että mikäli operaattorit eivät vapaaehtoisesti toteuta ennakkosensuuria poliisin rekisterin perusteella, harkitsee ministeriö ”velvoittavia lainsäädäntötoimia”, on kyseessä oleva sääntely kokonaisuudessaan arvioituna PL 12 §:n sanamuodon vastainen. Kyseessä ei ole säännöksessä tarkoitettu sananvapauden käytön sääntely, vaan PL 12 §:n ehdottomasti kieltämä ennakkosensuuri. Ennakollisten esteiden osalta PL 12 §:n kvalifioitu lakivaraus mahdollistaa tavallisella lailla säädettävän vain kuvaohjelmia koskevia lasten suojelemiseksi välttämättömiä rajoituksia.

Edelleen on huomattava, että RL 17:19 § kriminalisoi ainoastaan siinä tarkoitetun aineiston hallussapidon, eikä säännöksen mukaan pelkkä katselu ole rangaistavaa. Kun esitykseen ei liioin sisälly selvitystä siitä, miten varmistutaan siitä, että viestin lähettäminen on vastoin lähetysmaan lakia, on epäselvää, mihin esityksessä artikuloitu perustelu siitä, että palveluntarjoajalla ei ole velvollisuutta sietää omistamansa verkon käyttöä rikoksen tekemisessä viittaa. Lisäksi on huomattava, että esityksessä tarkoitettu poliisin rekisteri sisältää sellaisia osoitteita, joiden sisältöä ei ole tuomioistuinmenettelyssä todettu esityksessä tarkoitetuin tavoin lainvastaiseksi, vaan olemassa on ainoastaan poliisin epäily niiden sisällön lainvastaisuudesta. Edelleen on huomattava, että listan sisältö olisi  - tietosuojavaltuutetun tarkastusoikeudesta huolimatta – lain perusteella salassa pidettävänä sääntely-yhteys huomioonottaen asianmukaisen ja perustuslain edellyttämän oikeudellisen ja PL 12.2 §:n sekä sitä konkretisoivan julkisuuslainsäädännön turvaaman viranomaistoiminnan julkisen kontrollin ulkopuolella.

Esityksestä puuttuu myös menettely, jolla listalle joutunut sisällöntuottaja saisi tiedon häneen kohdistuneesta rekisterimerkinnästä sekä sääntely sisällöntuottajan käytössä olevista oikeusturvakeinoista, mikäli sisällöntuottaja katsoo päätyneensä listalle väärin perustein.


They covered all the bases. Firstly, the Finnish Constitution:

Section 12 - Freedom of expression and right of access to information
Everyone has the freedom of expression. Freedom of expression entails the right to express, disseminate and receive information, opinions and other communications without prior prevention by anyone.

Clearly, the law constitutes prior prevention. Also, Finnish law at present does not criminalize the viewing of child pornography, only its possession and distribution. Therefore, as viewing child pornography is not a crime, the law is designed to prevent an activity that is not a crime.

The University of Turku also draws attention to the fact that the law will prevent access to websites that the police suspects contain child pornography, instead of preventing accecss to  websites that have been found to contain illegal material. They also point out that there is no mechanism for informing a site owner that access to their website is blocked in Finland, and that there is no process of appeal.

All valid points; it makes you wonder how the law could have been passed.

The statement also refers to what happened prior to passing the law; Finnish ISPs were publicly and explicitly threatened. They were told that if they did not implement the "voluntary" censorship required by the police, a law would be passed making it mandatory.


6) the police's actions constitute a direct attack on free speech and the free flow of information

In summary, I believe I've demonstrated here that the actions of the police are based on a law that is unconstitutional, and they are exceeding even that authority. The censorship of suspected child pornography sites is unconstitutional and entirely outside the control of the judiciary and of Finnish democracy.  The police have gone as far as to use the law to censor a website that criticizes their actions, and remain impervious to public protests.

The people whose websites are blocked are being deprived of their constitutional rights of free expression and due process before the law. The police are flagrantly violating the constitution, and are being backed up in doing it by Finnish politicians.


A turnout of several hundred is expected at today's demonstration against Internet censorship. I'll be there.

Mar 3, 2008

Jessica Biel and Internet censorship

Fortunately, two unrelated subjects.




Today is Jessica Biel's birthday, so happy birthday! Above, she looks gorgeous in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Born on March 3rd, 1982, Jessica is an American actress whose career got off the ground in the WB series 7th Heaven. She's since been seen in several Hollywood films, including The Rules of Attraction, The Illusionist, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and Blade: Trinity. The last of those is actually quite a good movie!

She made 5th place in Maxim's "Hot 100" in 2007, and Stuff magazine ranked her the sexiest woman of 2007. Esquire Magazine named her the Sexiest Woman Alive in 2005. They may be exaggerating, but not by much.


Also, there's a demonstration against the Finnish police's Internet censorship tomorrow. Why is it important? Tietokone magazine asked Finnish party leaders how they felt about blocking websites.

Their question was: should Internet sites be blocked by the police if they contain:

1) child pornography (already "implemented")
2) violence (not specified further)
3) intellectual property rights violations
4) Internet poker or other gambling
5) content that encourages terrorism
6) other harmful or criminal websites

All parties were in favor of the current censorship scheme, and several party leaders were at least lukewarm about expanding censorship. The Finnish Christian party wants to also block websites containing "extreme violence", and several parties were in favor of blocking websites that violate intellectual property rights. Only one party, Kokoomus, even mentioned the idea that Finnish citizens' rights to free expression and flow of information might be violated.

As I wrote earlier, there doesn't seem to be the slightest hint of the idea that censoring the Internet would violate our rights as Finnish citizens. If we don't kick up some noise about this, we're going to find ourselves behind our own version of the Great Firewall of China.


In other news, an animation recently released in Finland that mocks Marshal Mannerheim and portrays him as homosexual is causing controversy in Finland. Finnish arch-conservative Raimo Ilaskivi wants the makers' "heads on the block", to ensure the honor of Finland's historical dignitaries and the correct writing of Finnish history.

Yes, heaven preserve us from "incorrect history"! Earlier, former Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces Gustav Hägglund said the animators should be "ashamed of themselves", and a decorated war veteran demanded to know how something like this can be permitted in Finland.

Hägglund compared the image of Mannerheim presented in the animation to the one presented in Soviet propaganda. Certainly, men with medals demanding something they don't like be banned brings the Soviet Union to mind.

Finnish history writing is still an extension of Finnish patriotism. Any representation of Mannerheim or similar notables of Finnish history that isn't respectful and patriotic, and thus completely one-sided, is "incorrect history" and should not be presented at all.

There's nothing wrong with public figures expressing distaste of a work of art; that's their right. There is a lot wrong with asking for art to be banned because it violates your political sensibilities, and there is something wrong with furthering the kind of mentality where anything that doesn't accord with the patriotic interpretation of Finnish history is "wrong".

The most unfortunate results come when this idea carries over into historical research and teaching. In consequence, Finnish history books mostly contain nothing but patriotic drivel about the Second World War and Cold War, and any attempts in Finland to change the public perception of patriotically important events or persons is met with this kind of statements about how that kind of history is "wrong".


I'm finishing off with something nice: another picture of Jessica Biel. Tomorrow I'll be demonstrating in favor of a free society in Finland.

Mar 1, 2008

Israeli minister threatens Palestinians with holocaust

According to Israel's deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai, the Palestinians are risking a shoah with their continuing rocket attacks from Gaza. Shoah is Hebrew for "a big disaster", or more commonly, the Holocaust. He was widely seen as threatening the Palestinians with a holocaust. (BBC: Israel warns of invasion of Gaza)

Whether it's just a horrible choice of words or pure insanity, Israel is preparing to invade the Gaza strip. The deputy minister's comments came a day after a single Israeli civilian was killed by a rocket attack. In retaliation for the rocket attacks, Israeli air strikes have already killed 30 Palestinians.

For Israel, a 30-to-1 casualty ratio clearly isn't enough. Although the BBC says polls suggest a majority of Israeli citizens are in favor of a truce with Hamas, the government is preparing to invade Gaza.

All through its independence, Israel has practiced a policy of reprisals on the civilian population to fight their enemies, from Ariel Sharon's commando unit that attacked refugee camps and villages to the current Gaza air strikes. Given that this policy has never worked, it's a miracle Israel is still going on with it, or then there's more truth to the shoah comment than they'll admit.

Israel continues to be a nation that prosecutes foreign policy by killing "enemy" civilians.