Nov 30, 2008
For my money, the very best webcomic there is, and actually just one of the best comics there is, period. I love it!
Check it out:
ahh... much better!
i wonder what life would be like if i were never born
And, finally, a comic, the second panel of which is one of the best things in life.
i will do this using capitalism
For those slow on the uptake or too lazy to click on the links, the comic always uses the same panels, more or less, just with different text. That makes Dinosaur Comics not just funny, but artsy in a good way as well. I love it.
After xkcd went from about 5% good, 45% OK and 50% crap to just 100% crap, and having seen that some of the most highly praised webcomics like Ctrl+Alt+Del (I WISH THEY WOULD) and Penny Arcade are just, well, hideous, I wasn't expecting to find a good webcomic. Now that I did, I figure it's only fair I should share.
Nov 29, 2008
* the Detroit Red Wings have three main guys who will be unrestricted free agents after this year, if I remember correctly: Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzén and Marian Hossa. As it stands, unless they take substantial hometown discounts, Detroit might only be able to keep two of the three.
I'd actually suggest letting Zetterberg go. Of those three, I see his departure affecting Detroit least. I'm not saying he isn't a great player. For my money, Zetterberg is maybe the best two-way player in the game today. Then again, you can argue the Wings might not have won the cup without Franzén's offensive output. And watching the Red Wings get their ass kicked by the Habs also happened to showcase the fact that Hossa is turning into one hell of a two-way player, while still putting up points like crazy.
(nice 0-5 trap, by the way, Habs. Haven't seen that one for a while)
If it comes to choosing one of those three to let go, I consider Hossa to have a bigger upside than Zeta.
* Now that Brodeur, Luongo and Nabokov have all been more or less injured, could this finally be the year Tim Thomas gets the recognition he deserves? I was a big Tim fan when he played for Jokerit; I even have a Tim Thomas jersey. He was just spectacularly good in the Finnish league, and is much better in the NHL.
It's a sad reflection of the way NHL awards are given that the Vezina almost invariably goes to a goalie playing behind a trap. If you look at goaltenders' performance taking into account the team in front of them, by which I don't just mean how good they are but also how they play, then Thomas is definitely one of the best goaltenders in the league. His chief rival this year, Bäckström, is a joke if the team in front of him doesn't do their damndest to stop every scoring chance ever. Anyone who's watched the Finnish national team play knows that if you take Bäckström out from behind either the Lemaire trap or the Kärpät clutch-and-grab he's useless.
Tim Thomas for the Vezina! He deserves it. It is just disgraceful he's not even on the All-Star ballot.
* Speaking of the All-stars, it looks like the All-Star game is going to start as a Wings-Habs affair. Mike Hodge went off on the Habs fans on TSN this past Wednesday for arranging the vote to get an all-Habs starting lineup. He questioned the whole mechanism of all-star voting; fans should have a say, he says, but with oversight.
In my mind, that sounds stupid. Either let the fans vote or don't. Personally, I don't see why there should be a fan vote. It's stupid, and so far it's led to this year's Habs lineup and last year's Rory Fitzpatrick scandal. For what it's worth, I thought that was just mean to Fitzpatrick. The Finnish league experimented with handing out the playoff MVP Jari Kurri trophy by fan vote, and it was promptly abandoned. The trophy very nearly went to several totally undeserving candidates.
If you want the fans to get involved in something, why not have an NHL trophy for Most Popular Player? I think that would be a great idea. It would give fans perfect liberty to vote for whoever they want. Hey, I'm from the Internet, and we (not me personally, but THE INTERNET) voted for Rick Astley as Best Act Ever at the MTV Europe Music Awards. If the Internet wants to make Rory Fitzpatrick the most popular player of the year, let's have an award for that instead of screwing up the All-Star game.
Hey, I think it's a good idea. Which probably means the NHL will never adopt it.
Nov 28, 2008
Red Ring of Death, pt. II: Electric Boogaloo
UPS came and took my XBox away. They said 15-20 days, so we'll see what happens. I can't really think of any other way to hold them acountable than by chronicling this whole thing.
However, to the topic. I'm such a fanboy. While wasting time on the Internet, I decided to google some people to see what they're getting up to. I typed in Amy Dumas, and found this interview of her. As it happens, I'm still technically majoring in English philology, and I realized that this is a golden opportunity to educate my readers (my Google dashboard tells me I have at least two, so the plural is warranted!) on the finer points of English. This is because the only way I can describe how that interview made me feel is to say I was marking out like a schoolgirl.
(those are schoolgirls; arguably, fictional schoolgirls)
I was a little disappointed that Wiktionary doesn't recognize the wrestling meaning of "mark" at all. The closest it gets is this:
mark (plural marks)
The intended victim of swindle, fixed game or con game.
In American pro wrestling, "mark" traditionally means a fan who doesn't know that it's "fake". Its use by other wrestling fans obviously connotates that they're "in the know", and aren't "marks" themselves. The meaning most probably comes from the sense of the Wiktionary definition, as the marks have supposedly been duped into believing the wrestling is actually real.
As a side note, given that this discussion was prompted by the most beautiful woman ever to wrestle for the WWE, and that she has a body to die for, it's possible I may have to post some pictures of her.
Like that one, for instance.
Another current of meaning enters the word in the more cynical times of the 2000's, when the WWE was stagnating from a lack of competition and the storylines and general presentation became, well, crap. This fostered an atmosphere of criticism among several people who followed the product, in my mind best embodied by James Guttman's World Wrestling Insanity, the website that spawned a book. I read it, by the way, and it's not bad. I also read Lita's autobiography once upon a time, and that wasn't bad either. Nor is she:
Oops. Anyway, in these more critical times "mark" also carries the idea that the person is buying into the WWE's marketing, which is telling you that Unforgiven Survivor Slam Mania 2008 is the bestest pay-per-view ever. If you believe that, you're a mark, because all true wrestling fans know that the best PPV ever was officially the 1873 Summer Slam.
As a derivative form, mark is also used as a verb, "to mark", often as "to mark out". In addition to being a mark in the general sense, "to mark out" is also used of a fan reacting to a "superstar", as WWE wrestlers are called without a hint of irony. The same behavior tends to show up most prominently on MTV's Pimp My Ride, where the pimpee first marks out over Xzibit, and then totally marks out over their new ride. Me, I mark out over Amy:
Ahem. Anyway, to all you non-wrestling types, that's what marking out means. The addition of "like a schoolgirl" is simply self-deprecating. I think I picked it up from an article on the Pro Wrestling Torch.
I don't know how far back the use of the word "mark" goes in wrestling. As some wrestling vocabulary (like kayfaybe for "suspension of disbelief") apparently dates back all the way to carny slang, and mark was known there as well, the connection seems obvious.
Enough of this witty philological banter. Let's talk about Amy.
From now on, this post will be an incoherent jumble of text, containing some observations on Amy's career, but mostly serving as an excuse to post pictures of her. Amy got started with the WWF/WWE in 2000, initially appearing as Essa Rios's valet. She made wrestling history by becoming a part of Team Extreme with the brothers Hardy. She was memorable for, well, kicking ass, but also for the way she dressed. It's always somehow cute when people try to describe something like the way a pro wrestler dresses in character in encyclopedia terms, and they did just that on Wikipedia:
As a member of Team Xtreme, Lita developed a more "alternative" image, wearing baggy pants with a thong, which was hiked up high above her pants, clearly exposed.
Notice the use of the comma to create emphasis: "her pants, clearly exposed." (oh no, that's a line from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where they spoke in metaphors! "Darmok at Tanagra." "Her pants, clearly exposed.")
To make another pointless pop culture reference, I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person who simply cannot use the word "alternative" any more after GTA: San Andreas's Radio X. But yeah, that's alternative too:
She not only looked great, but she kicked serious ass in the ring. I'm willing to say that overall Lita was responsible for not only some of the greatest women's matches ever, but of some of the best damn wrestling at the time, period. The reason I love her so much is not just because she's hot, but because of what she did as a performer and as an athlete.
Team Extreme eventually broke up, Jeff Hardy left the company, and Lita sort of drifted into being Edge's valet:
By that time, they were just using her as a plot point and as eye candy, making her wear things like this:
I admit it was nice to look at, but at the same time, I desperately missed the Lita who kicked ass in the ring. As it was, the WWE was running down their women's division for some reason. Trish Stratus left shortly afterward, and later Lita quit as well. The two former Women's Champions' departures couldn't have been more different. Trish had her last match at the Unforgiven PPV, and was sent off with a very nice ceremony. Lita, on the other hand, had her last match at Survivor Series 2006, where she dropped the women's title and then had her character humiliated on TV.
I quote from the interview I linked to earlier:
Back in Issue 150 of Power Slam, I described the angle as "tantamount to a public flogging". It was the polar opposite of the sendoff Trish Stratus had received from WWE two months earlier at Unforgiven. WWE could not have been more gracious in its treatment of her.
Yeah. That was brought up too. Trish is a friend of mine, so it has nothing to do with personal jealousy towards her sendoff. But I was, like, "Come on. She gets this (grand) sendoff, and I'm getting teased about having yeast infection cream and vibrators in my suitcase? Come on. You're just trying to tell me this is part of the story line? No, it's not. I'm not going to accept anything less than, 'this is the last time we're going to pull your strings, so we're going to pull them'."
She couldn't be more right. It was the WWE at its most disgraceful, vindictive and unpleasant. I've never ceased to wonder about the way the organization, and in this sense when I say the organization I mean the McMahon family, seems perfectly content to occasionally just turn on its employees. Some get a heroic farewell, others are dumped like garbage.
Given the way they were treating her, I'm very happy Amy left. And just for this part of the post, I'm very happy I found this picture:
Since leaving the WWE, she's gone on to become a rock chick:
She has a band called the Luchagors. And even now, years after her last WWE appearence and even more years since I fell in love with her, I'm still marking out like a schoolgirl. I love you, Amy!
For more on pro wrestling, I direct you to my earlier post in defence of pro wrestling. Featuring more pictures of Amy.
Did I mention I'm a fan?
Also, I'm incredibly proud of myself for having used the word "pimpee" in a post. Unfortunately, the Grauniad thinks that by using it, I have degraded us all. I'd say something, but properly speaking that sounds like the province of a dinosaur comic, so I won't. Instead, I leave you with the most beautiful woman in wrestling.
Nov 27, 2008
I'm officially giving up on my HP laptop. I have an nx9420, which I was very happy with. It's not too heavy, has a big screen that is also very good, and a numeric keypad. I was happy surfing the Net on it, and DOSBox ran very nicely. That is, until it stopped working.
I should be specific; the computer itself probably works just fine. The recharger apparently had a meltdown and stopped working. At first, it would only charge if the cable was in a certain position, or under certain conditions. Then it stopped charging altogether.
One hardware malfunction can happen, I figured. I called HP tech support and they replaced it. The new charger worked just fine, but then one day the Internet stopped working. For a reason none of us could figure out, the http port absolutely refuses to work, under either Windows or Linux. The computer connects to the Internet and other connections work, but no http.
I figured I'd try formatting the hard drive before sending it back for repairs, but that requires an external hard drive for backups. As I could live without the Internet for a while, I couldn't be bothered to get it done right away. Then before I did manage to get that hard drive, the new recharger stopped working. Now I can't boot the computer because it won't power up, so I can't get to my files on it.
Yes, I suppose I could send it back for repairs. Frankly, I can't even be bothered to. There's nothing vitally important on that hard drive, and I've already started using my old IBM Thinkpad again. I mean, two rechargers? For the record, I've used half a dozen laptops and never broken a recharger. Until now.
The whole experience has put me off HP laptops. It's funny to find that my old Thinkpad still works excellently, and even took the newest versions of Opera and Windows Media Player and ran with them. It's only Windows 2K, which is a big step down from Vista, but at least the computer works.
I feel that part of my responsibility as a consumer in a market economy is to not buy from companies that make shoddy products, and that HP laptop was the worst piece of laptop computer engineering I've ever had to experience.
Nov 26, 2008
That concludes the pornography.
Nov 25, 2008
Okay, I'm exaggarating, and so is the title. I only have one quarter of a red ring, but it's still going back for repairs. Damn, I was just getting into Fable 2.
Calling Microsoft's XBox tech support was a strangely erotic experience, though. First I had to wait for ten minutes and listen to music straight out of a Marc Dorcel porno, and then I gave my contact details to a really cute-sounding Estonian (or Russian) girl. It wasn't really that erotic, but it did turn me on far more than any other tech support call I've ever had to make.
That's the way to run tech support! Let's see what they do with the actual console.
Nov 24, 2008
If this geographical uncertainty meant that the landmass of Europe could not be said to be at the center of the world, it still could be placed at the center of some other conceptualization of the environment. For the Greeks and their Roman heirs, the means of establishing a relationship between them and the rest of humanity frequently rested upon a complex theory of climate and physical environment. The northern parts of the world, according to this theory, were inhabited by peoples whose inhospitable climates had made them brave and warlike, but also uncouth, unthinking, and - to use the Latinized term that will become central to all modes of European self-fashioning - "uncivilized". Those who lived in the South - the Asians - were, by contrast, quick-witted, intelligent, but also lethargic, slow to act, and ultimately corrupt - a claim that became in time another enduring stereotype of the "Oriental". Europeans (then the people of the Mediterranean), living as they didi midway between these extremes, are the mean.
- Anthony Pagden: The Idea of Europe, s. 36
That got to me, because for a long time, I've been sort of wondering about something. In science fiction, it's very common to find that when different species are depicted, humans are always the ones without any exceptional attributes. Other species can normally do everything humans do, but they have some unique talents or attributes in addition. Humans, on the other hand, are just "normal". It often leads to the particular kind of science fiction morality play where some cultural character of humanity turns out to be superior to the aliens' high technology or fiendish abilities.
In fantasy, on the other hand, all fantasy "species" are usually characterized by their difference to humans, and again humans are the norm. I'm currently reading Raymond E. Feist's Magician, and again, elves, dwarves, goblins and dark elves all have some exceptional characteristics, abilities or something similar, while humans remain the norm. In fantasy role-playing games it's especially common to find that humans are the baseline, unexceptional ones and all other races have some exceptional attributes.
The attitude seems to be drawn from the history of European exceptionalism. Sometimes it's present in its entirety, most notably in Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. He makes the difference between the energetic and warlike Northern races and the lethargic and corrupt southeners explicit. The same idea is present in most fantasy, I'd say, at the very least on the level where the fantasy world's closest equivalent to the Europeans is a people without distinguishing attributes, but all other peoples have cultures and even physical differences.
It's noteworthy that the one important fantasy author who tried to overcome this kind of bias, Ursula LeGuin, fails to overcome this one in the Earthsea saga. Even there, if my memory doesn't completely fail me, the protagonist and his "race" is depicted as very much the norm, from which other peoples differ by having cultural or physical attributes.
It's funny that this doctrine of Europeans or their fictional analogies coexists neatly with European exceptionalism, but it does. Despite the fact that the protagonist race is often the one with no attributes of its own, it nevertheless alwas seems to be the most modern. Other cultures can be exotic or strange, but usually never modern. Even ones with more advanced technology are somehow exotic and alien as opposed to simply more advanced.
We don't often think about how our literature expresses our worldview, or perhaps how the worldview we try to express in our literature gets filtered through our cultural preconceptions. Having said what I said here, it would be a worthy challenge for a fantasy novelist to present a fantasy in which all cultures, including the protagonist's, exist in a world populated by species and cultures, without one of them being automatically considered the baseline to which all others are compared. We don't need to take the "West and the rest" mentality into our fiction.
Nov 23, 2008
I can't even be bothered to make a grand point about this. My only real question is this. Helsingin Sanomat recently told us that the majority of experts consulted by the Finnish parliament's constitutional committee feel that the law is against the Finnish constitution. Despite this, Parliament decided to pass the law without consulting the constitutional committee.
This is the second time this has been done in a year; Parliament consults legal experts who tell them a law proposal is against the Constitution, and the experts are ignored along with the Constitution. The previous time was to pass the infamous law against "child pornography", where the definition of child pornography includes criticism of the Finnish police.
I should write a proper essay about this, but frankly, I'm too depressed. My only question is this: why does Finland have a constitution? We, as citizens, can't apply to any court or official if we feel that our constitutional rights are being infringed. The constitution is supposed to limit the kinds of laws our legistlature can pass, but they can choose to ignore it whenever they like. In practice, there have been exactly two laws that have been in conflict with the constitution, and in both cases the constitution is being ignored.
Why do we bother with a constitution at all?
Nov 22, 2008
First, a look at the official results, from the Finnish Ministry of Truth, Justice and Electronic Voting, In Reverse Order of Importance:
Keskusta (Center Party): 20.1% (-2.0%)
Kokoomus (National Coalition Party): 23.5% (+1.7%)
SDP (Social Democrat Party): 21.2% (-2.9%)
Vasemmistoliitto (Left Alliance): 8.8% (-0.8%)
Vihreä liitto (Green Alliance): 8.9% (+1.5%)
Kristillisdemokraatit (Christian Democrats): 4.2% (+0.2%)
Perussuomalaiset ("True Finns"): 5.4% (+4.5%)
RKP (Swedish party): 4.7% (-0.5%)
According to this election, the parties in order of votes received are:
The big three are in their own league with 20% each, with each smaller party only having less than 10% of the vote. For all the noise they've made, Perussuomalaiset still only got 5% of the vote.
The really interesting question is, what does this bode for the future? The second-biggest story of the election was that for the first time, Kokoomus became the biggest party in Finland, in terms of votes cast. Kokoomus is basically the Finnish right wing. From an American standpoint, they're somewhere to the left of the defunct Communist Party of the United States of America, but in Finland, they're right-wing!
As Finland employs the D'Hondt method of vote-counting, small parties can exist in Parliament and even participate in government, but basically the system revolves around a few large parties. In Finland these days, they are the right-wing Kokoomus, agrarian Center and leftist Social Democrats (SDP).
Both the Center and Social Democrats took a beating in these elections, with the Center mainly losing votes to Kokoomus and Perussuomalaiset, and SDP mainly losing to the Greens. At least that's as near as I can figure it.
The biggest question of all is whether the makeup of the Big Three will change. This will depend on several trends.
First of all, there's something of a generational change going on in Finnish politics. Most of the Cold War-era old guard are on the way out. After a couple of false starts, Kokoomus (Coalition Party) handled the generation change best, finishing off by shipping out Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva after an SMS scandal. New party chair Jyrki Katainen, born in 1971, led his party to its historic win in the municipal elections. The party seems to be sound and well led, and there's no reason it won't remain Finland's biggest party.
The Center party is in far more trouble. The chairman of the Left Alliance, a Communist-era holdover, was shocked on Finnish television that the economic crisis didn't drive voters to vote for the Left. What it did do is drive them away from the Center Party.
The Center party used to be called the Agrarian Alliance, and that's effectively what it is. The main support of the party comes from the Finnish countryside; basically, the entire party is based on pork barrel politics. In wider terms, the party was founded by Santeri Alkio as a "third way" between capitalism and socialism. Effectively it was always a right-wing, anti-communist party, although when led by President Kekkonen it adopted a policy of Finlandization that drove it somewhat to the left in practice.
The Center party's basic constituency is the Finnish countryside, which is run almost completely on subsidies. Finnish agriculture is rarely, if ever in the EU, cost-efficient, and is based on a gigantic and intricate system of subsidies. The net inefficiency is hideous, but the Center party has stayed one of the Big Three by maintaining it. As I said, a pure pork barrel party.
Several trends are driving business away from Finland, however, and there have been big factory closures and other grievances in the countryside as the paper industry has been forced to rationalize. The Center party has been in government throughout, and many of its voters blamed them for not protecting their jobs. Historically, the Center has been vulnerable to populist movements, mainly Veikko Vennamo's SMP, and now its successor, Perussuomalaiset, seem to have eaten into the Center's share. The party was also hit hard by the election finance scandal of 2008, which reinforced a popular Finnish opinion of the Center party as a basically underhanded, dishonest organization.
Traditionally, Center party politicians divide into two kinds. There's the pure-and-simple pork barrel agrarians and the more ambitious kind. The latter are usually the party's chairmen, presidential candidates and other public faces. To achieve national success, a Center politician has to prove himself both to the pork barrel crowd and the urban voters. This was attempted by Esko Aho, Paavo Väyrynen, Mauri Pekkarinen and most recently Matti Vanhanen. Their biggest challenge was always convincing the urban population, and they've nearly always failed. Now that the Center has again failed to secure a substantial urban demographic and its rural constituency is being eroded, the party faces a deep crisis. Also, the confident victory of the Coalition Party is making several Center voters back the winner.
It's entirely possible that in the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Center will decline even more. That will raise a big question: will they embrace their agrarian roots and try to win back the pork barrel demographic, or will they continue to try to stay relevant to the whole nation?
Another party in crisis is undoubtedly the Social Democrat Party, SDP. Roughly speaking, the party is the Finnish moderate left. Their support and history comes from two sources: the labor union movement and the socialist political movement. Since the 1960's, the party has basically been the political face of the Finnish trade union movement. If the SAK, the main Finnish trade union, is the IRA, the Social Democrats are their Sinn Féin.
The conflict between political socialism and the labor union movement has always defined the SDP. Party chairman Eero Heinäluoma, who is basically a Finnish Leonid Brezhnev, was a staunch labor union man. He led the SDP to its worst election defeat since 1962 in the previous parliamentary elections. The election was preceded by a nefarious political campaign funded by the SAK, which revived old Cold War-era stereotypes of the rich bourgeois living off the suffering people. The ad campaign caused a massive backlash, and along with the ensuing election defeat, discredited the Leonid Brezhnev line.
In response, the SDP looked for a new chairman, and found it in Jutta Urpilainen. As the Wikipedia site points out, her coming-out party in Finnish politics didn't go smoothly. If you thought Sarah Palin was robotic, this is much worse.
Politically speaking, Urpilainen should be trying to lead the SDP back toward a more popular socialist politics in order to recover their share of the vote. The previous parliamentary elections should have clearly told the SDP that old-fashioned labor union tactics of trying to inflame "class tensions" aren't going to work. Urpilainen has been doing her best to make noise with various proposals on employment and financial policy, ranging from the ludicrous to the pathetic.
Lasse Pitkäniemi predicted the Green party will eventually rise to be one of the three big parties, and I don't think he's far off. For Greens, the crisis of the SDP is of prime importance. The Finnish people were thoroughly Finlandized during the Cold War; socialist rhetoric on the evils of capitalism is the norm here. Most people accept lunatics like Naomi Klein as basically sensible writers. The leftward tilt of popular opinion is massive, and currently that vote is divided between the SDP, Greens and fringe parties. The Green party will be looking to capture a bigger share of that vote, and it's likely they'll usurp SDP's place on the Big Three in the future.
Lasse's election post also gives me a segue into the most talked-about topic of the election, even on this blog: the party of Rape and Racism, the inimitable Base Finns.
Finnish Pravda actually ran a fair little article on this: Great ideological disparity among True Finns in Helsinki region. The title makes the point.
The Perussuomalaiset party comes from a slightly eclectic heritage. The party organization was founded in 1995, after the bankruptcy of Veikko Vennamo's Suomen maaseudun puolue, abbreviated SMP (Finnish Rural Party). The SMP had split off from the Center Party and pursued a more populist agenda. They succeeded startlingly well in the 1970 parliamentary elections, winning 18 seats in Parliament.
SMP is often considered Finland's first populist party, and much of Perussuomalaiset is founded on its populist roots. Perussuomalaiset MP Raimo Vistbacka was an SMP MP before its dissolution, and continues to serve as a Perussuomalaiset MP. The current Perussuomalaiset chair, Timo Soini, also joined the SMP and advanced to be the party's last chairman before its dissolution. In Pravda this March, Soini still referred to himself as a follower of Vennamo.
True to their populist roots, in the last years their MPs have included pro wrestler Ludwig Borga and yoga aviator Veltto Virtanen. There are several other ideological currents in Perussuomalaiset, though. The party has often allied itself with the Christian Democrats, as SMP did, and Soini is a practising Catholic, unusual in Finland, and it is apparently due to his influence that Perussuomalaiset lists itself as a Christian party.
The Agrarian Alliance, later renamed the Center Party in an unsuccesful attempt to be less about tractors and fields, was always on the right of the political spectrum, and the combination of agrarian populism and Christian values means the old core of Perussuomalaiset is fairly right-wing by Finnish standards.
As the Pravda article points out, however, because at the moment Perussuomalaiset is mainly a populist party, there are also several fairly left-wing representatives and supporters. In addition to them, the party has now been joined by the new guard, the real Base Finns. Many candidates ran on the Perussuomalaiset ticket on platforms of xenophobia and racism, and scored some successes. Timo Soini has gone out of his way to stress that his party is not xenophobic; maybe the party isn't, but a lot of its supporters are.
We've seen the process before in Finnish politics. The Green party started out as a loose gathering of ecologically-minded protesters, and once they achieved political success they had to start drawing ideological lines. This brought the Green party to its current political position, where it's basically a younger and sexier SDP. The downside of the process is that every ideological line they draw excludes some of their supporters.
The Base Finns are going to have to make similar decisions in the future. Will they be an anti-immigrant party? If they choose to go that way, they'll lose some of the protest vote. Will they gravitate toward right-wing populism like so many similar parties in Central Europe? That will lose them the left-wing vote. Will they stick to their SMP roots and try to beat the Center party? That will undermine some of their standing in urban Finland, as will maintaining a staunch anti-EU stance.
Lasse pointed out that one of the good things about the Base Finns is their tolerance for independent candidates on their tickets. Again, that's one thing that will almost certainly change. They look like they might become a big enough party in some constituencies to participate in the inter-party political bargaining process, by which Finland is actually run, and for that to happen they'll need their representatives to toe the line. High-profile independents like Veltto Virtanen can probably still do what they do, but on the lower level, the high percentage of independents won't last. Also, many of them will undoubtedly be driven from the party when they draw their ideological battle lines.
I believe the success of the municipal elections will carry over into the parliamentary elections, and the Base Finns should do well there as well. That will almost inevitably lead to ideological conflicts within the party, which will have to be resolved. It will be marginally interesting to watch it play out.
At the end of the day, though, the Base Finns are only such a big story for two reasons. First is the repellent behaviour of some of their candidates. It's obviously a bigger story when your candidates are racists who want their opponents to be raped than when your candidates are nice, civilized people who win elections. The biggest reason, though, is that this is the first time in over a decade that something new is actually happening in Finnish politics. That inflates their importance far above their actual political power.
It's worth remembering that for all the column inches they've garnered, the Base Finns still only got 5% of the vote. That won't rise much. They should probably beat the obsolete and faintly ridiculous Left Alliance, a direct successor of the original Finnish Communist Party founded in Moscow, and become the fifth-largest party after the Greens. That's as far as they'll go, and their impact on actual policy-making will remain minimal.
The next election in Finland is the European Parliament elections, but so far, those haven't been hugely influential in terms of national politics. The next arena for these trends to play out in will be the 2011 parliamentary elections.
Man, that makes me feel old.
Nov 21, 2008
BBC: UK society 'condemning' children
More than half the population believe UK children are "feral" and behave like animals, a survey has suggested.
Half of the 2,021 adults interviewed by YouGov for the poll also felt children should be regarded as "dangerous".
Huh? This is for the broad definition of children as under-18's. Credit the BBC for also running some fair commentary on the same topic, but the point stands. What? Because I haven't been doing enough feminist things on this blag, I'll attempt some feminist analysis. Ahem.
There's a vicious feedback cycle going on with fear in all our Western societies today. Whether it's fear of foreigners, teenagers or terrorists, for some reason fear of something different from us is becoming one of the defining facts of modern politics.
Partly this is obviously because we face fairly few external threats. If there's 20 Soviet divisions behind your border, braced to charge through the Fulda Gap, it's not surprising that politics will tend to take that into account. But when there aren't any Soviets or nuclear missiles or famine, plague and similar things, like today in Europe, we react to things differently.
To some extent, our politicians sell us fear. It's not that long ago that we were being asked to be afraid of drugs and drug dealers. In Finland, our politicians were telling us to be afraid of the Russian Mafia, and they're censoring our Internet use because we should be scared of paedophiles. The traditional explanation is that they peddle in fear to justify their existence, and it's true. But there's another angle involved; the fact that the media also tells us we need to be afraid puts pressure on politicians to be seen to act.
The core question is simple, though. Why do we respond when the media tells us to be afraid? Why do we believe that politicians telling us to be afraid is somehow relevant, reasonable and makes it seem all right when they censor the Internet? Why are we somehow biased toward fear?
On the face of it, the idea that children are feral and out of control is ridiculous. Then again, racism has always been based on the same idea; to racists, foreigners, however defined, are more like animals than human beings. The same kind of ideas were attached to Communists in the Cold War and revolutionaries around the time of the French Revolution. Feral is a good word for it.
The only real way to go some distance toward fixing this problem is to try to find out where we get this lunatic tendency to dehumanize other people. It feels like at every point in history we need to have someone to point at and call out as a non-human animal.
Part of the answer has to lie in the way we're educated in the modern state. Nationalism is entirely based on the us/them -distinction; our people are good, other people are bad. Without that nationalism, a lot of the things our states make us do would seem senseless. Finland still employs conscription; I doubt the system could possibly be this successful without the pure russophobia being peddled in our society. All of our Judaeo-Christian-Islamic religions are also the same. Each religious adherent is a member of the chosen people, and all others are infidels.
In my opinion our core problem is that since childhood we're taught to aggressively other people who we perceive to be different. We're given these mental tools by our religions and our polities, but we don't only use them to other the people they designate as our enemies, but also to other each other, so to speak. When we've been taught that Russians and Moslems are our enemies, we can turn the mechanics we learn there toward thinking that children, women and supporters of different football teams are also our enemies. Some of us use those tools so succesfully we convince ourselves that everyone is our enemy.
Marxist feminism represented the oppressed position of women as stemming entirely from the capitalist economical system. Their position is, to me, totally flawed, and the analysis and political solutions they've come up with have been rubbish. To me, a more cogent argument would be that the othering we're taught by nationalism and religion lets us other women, foreigners, children and just about anyone who we perceive to be even slightly different. Chauvinism, the politics of fear and racism are all based on the indoctrination we receive from our states and religions.
As long as we teach our children that some people are others, our society will continue to fear and discriminate. If we ever truly want to be rid of that, we would have to teach our children a revolutionary new idea: all people are basically the same. None of our religions and polities can take that step, because it would mean dismantling their founding ideology. But we can try to tilt the scales toward it happening.
Nov 20, 2008
WHAT THE FUCKING CHRIST IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?
Overweight? For what, a concentration camp survivor? Fuck!
Lately, I'm often reminded of why I'm a feminist. Thanks a million, folks, for propagating attitudes like that. Won't it make young, and slightly older, girls feel good about their bodies to hear a woman who looks like that called repellently fat. What a wonderful thing to say.
The real question is: do these people really think she's fat, or are they just delighting in despising and insulting another person? And which is more scary?
Nov 19, 2008
I sort of like XKCD. Every now and then, it's great; sometimes it just sucks. For example, last week.
I could say something about why that's stupid, and really shows either profound ignorance or a great desire to make a lame joke despite knowing perfectly well what the answer to the question is, but I think I'll leave it to this site.
Seriously, I think XKCD has enough good strips to make a fairly good album. Then again, there are those days when you wish the guy could just have not gone with that "funny" idea. Anyone who suffered through the hideously unfunny "Internet secretary" series will know exactly what I'm talking about. These days I'm torn on whether to read it any more or not.
I was going to say the last ten XKCD strips have been shit, or something like that, but I ended up having to go all the way back to number 489 to find a funny one. The one I linked to was 503. And even 489 wasn't that good.
It looks like I'm done with that particular webcomic. A shame; it was pretty darn good at times.
Nov 18, 2008
Nov 17, 2008
HS: Green women’s organisation considers filing criminal report against True Finns councillor Jussi Halla-aho (when they say "criminal report", they mean pressing charges)
In brief, the Green Party's women's organization dug up an old blog post of Halla-aho's from 2006. In it he says that increased immigration will inevitably lead to more rapes being committed, and he hopes that the immigrants rape Green and socialist women, because they deserve to be raped. Nothing else, according to Halla-aho, will change their wrong opinions. In his guestbook, he also specifically called for Green MP Roosa Meriläinen to be raped.
All he can come up with in his defense is posting some ridiculous sophistry in his blog. He's still not denying what he said or backing down from it. The man even told Helsingin Sanomat that he only deleted the reference to Meriläinen being raped because it was "unwise", not because he doesn't think she should be raped.
I have no proper words for how reprehensible I find Halla-aho and his behaviour. That an adult person with a university degree chooses to behave like an angsty 14-year-old in public is ridiculous enough in itself; that he posts things that are just this blatantly offensive and goes on record, in Finland's biggest newspaper, as saying that he still thinks his political opponents should be raped, is unbelievable.
Obviously, Halla-aho and his fans are trying to spin this as a nefarious political tactic against him by parties that are frightened of him. That's not only ridiculous but just plain stupid. Do they really think that if a Green or Social Democrat politician wrote a blog post saying his or her opponents should be mugged, raped or killed, there wouldn't be an outcry? The idea being peddled that this is somehow politically motivated is more sophistry, designed to divert attention from what Halla-aho has said.
Almost 3,000 people in Helsinki voted for this guy. I hope you're proud of your elected representative. Of course, given that this text was published in 2006, and apparently several of his voters have read his blog, I suppose the correct conclusion to draw is that there are quite a few people in Helsinki who are also in favor of people with the wrong political opinions being raped.
That really is frightening. After the travesty of a democracy that were the Lipponen cabinets of the 1990's, and the general ineptness of the Halonen presidency, I didn't really think there was a way to make Finnish politics decisively worse. I'm not really glad that Perussuomalaiset seem to have found a way.
If any Internet racists, Halla-aho fans or other pond life want to call me names for saying this, I refer you to my comments policy. You can take that any way you want, but if you're really going to defend a man who wants to see his political opponents raped for disagreeing with him, I consider you, at best, pond life.
Nov 16, 2008
When I say I liked it short, I mean I really liked it short. Those shots are from a photoshoot she did for FHM, and I've been obsessed with her ever since.
Erm. Actually, this is a topical post in another way, as she's appearing in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 (news item here). Frankly, I didn't even know that existed, but hey.
I'll stop now. Happy birthday, Gemma! Man, you're hot.
Nov 14, 2008
Meri, quoted in Iltalehti, told a Finnish newspaper he wishes women didn't take it so seriously when they're propositioned inappropriately and groped by men. In other words, sexually harrassed. He calls the new "untouchability" of women a disease, and is worried for men's rights, which he feels that bans on sexual harrasment are somehow infringing on.
Mr. Meri: fuck you.
It's lovely that every now and then these bigoted old chauvinists crawl out fm under their rocks to defend the right of every man to treat women as nothing but sexual objects to be groped and fondled at will. It reminds me of why I'm a feminist.
The fact that someone of Meri's seniority, a supposely civilized person, comes out and says something like this makes me feel like I'm living in the Stone Age.
Nov 12, 2008
The measure outlawing gay marriage raises a question for believers in democracy. Given the prejudices that so many people have, are you comfortable submitting your human rights to democratic control? I'm quite sure I'm not. But really, this post was just an excuse to post that link.
Nov 11, 2008
AUSTRALIA will join China in implementing mandatory censoring of the internet under plans put forward by the Federal Government.
The revelations emerge as US tech giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and a coalition of human rights and other groups unveiled a code of conduct aimed at safeguarding online freedom of speech and privacy.
The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of the proposed national internet filter.
Ylivoimainen enemmistö 55–64-vuotiaista suomalaisista haluaisi laittaa verkon kuriin silläkin uhalla, että samalla jouduttaisiin rajoittamaan sananvapautta.
Ikäryhmän suomalaisista lähes kolme neljästä on tätä mieltä.
18–30-vuotiaista nuorista vain noin kolmannes uhraisi sananvapautta verkkovalvonnan hyväksi.
The overwhelming majority of Finns over 55 years old want the Internet to be censored, freedom of speech be damned. One third of 18-30 -year-olds agree.
In this opinion climate, it's no surprise that the European Court of Justice proposes restricting acess to gambling websites. According to the proposal, people don't have the right to use gambling services internationally inside the EU; for instance, Finland could block access to British betting websites to protect its government monopoly on gambling.
It's sick. First it was child pornography; now that the technology is in place, it's gambling. The Australian censorship proposal mentions such things as websites "promoting" anorexia and euthanasia. Finnish politicians have considered banning access to "racist" websites and "violent" websites (?).
Remember, in Finland, the slippery slope is a logical fallacy.
Of course, not everything else means what you think it does, either. The president of the Council for Mass Media in Finland (JSN) wants to censor "slander, hate propaganda, pornography, violence and the destruction of children's lives" from the Internet. According to Mr. Hyvärinen, this isn't censorship. (HS) He also repeated his earlier demand that Finland ban its citizens from writing anonymously on the Internet.
Enjoy this while it lasts, folks. There are more and more voices calling for the freedom of the Internet to end.
Nov 10, 2008
I'll be very surprised if Russia doesn't consistently make the finals of both the World Champs and the Olympics, all the way up to the 2014 Winter Olympics. The way they're playing now, and the crop of yonug players they've got, I have to say it looks like Russia will be a strong favorite to take Olympic gold in Vancouver.
I admit I'd personally love that, because the Canadians already lost their home World Champs to Russia. Having them lose the Olympics at home would just be too good.
Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, were disappointing, and the Czech team was something of a non-entity. The Czechs and Slovaks will slip to second-rate hockey countries over the next five years or so unless something dramatic happens. Similarly, Bengt-Åke Gustafsson's Sweden ain't looking so hot.
Representing Team Russia in the tournament was Alexander Radulov, who made headlines by signing with a Russian league team in the off-season although he was under contract with the Nashville Predators. Radulov scored twice against Finland on Saturday, and was chosen as a tournament all-star.
For the Hockey News, especially Ken campbell has been very holier-than-thou about Radulov, and the IIHF's failure to ban him from international play. He also recently described KHL president Alexander Medvedev as "a man who has no respect for the sanctity of a contract".
Campbell isn't the only one to get on a high horse in North America on the "sanctity of contracts". The KHL has been panned as an unprincipled bush league compared to the supposedly high morals of the NHL.
Oh, really? From a European perspective, no-one in North America has any business moralizing on the "sanctity of contracts".
Take a recent example. This September, the Los Angeles Kings signed two players they had drafted from the KHL. The KHL protested, saying that the players were under contract to KHL teams. This is the NHL's reply:
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly disputed the KHL's claims in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press. Daly said the league approved both contracts "on the basis of evidence that the two players were free of contractual obligations elsewhere.
"The NHL is not in violation of any agreement with the KHL, nor are we in violation of our long-standing policy to respect the contracts of other leagues."
Basically, they replied by claiming the players are not under contract. I don't know what the exact legal situation is, but it's the last part there that is ludicrous.
What, exactly, is the NHL's "respect" for the contracts of other leagues? Whenever the NHL negotiates a transfer agreement with the European leagues, they insist on all manner of loopholes and exemptions that make this "respect" a complete joke. Among the stipulations of the old transfer agreement was that any player who has ever played even a single game in the NHL in their career are exempt from any and all restrictions on transfers.
Under this exemption, goaltender Tim Thomas left Jokerit one day before the season opener, completely ignoring any contractual obligations to Jokerit. In general, the transfer agreements are negotiated so that almost any even vaguely NHL-eligible players include a release clause in their contracts saying that they are free to sign with NHL teams. If European leagues dare to protest these exemptions, the NHL has always been prepared to go completely without a transfer agreement and just sign whoever they want. In practice, the transfer agreements let them do exactly that.
As a side note, imagine a condition like this in, say, soccer. Say the English Premier League could sign anyone they wanted, from any other league, with a pittance for a transfer fee and no-one giving a damn for the players' previous contracts. That would never be tolerated. In hockey, however, things are a little different.
When this is how the NHL "respects" other leagues' contracts, pundits like Campbell moralizing on "the sanctity of the contract" is not only ridiculous, it's offensive. The NHL and its Canadian fanboys continue to regard their league as the only real hockey league in the world and walk all over every other ice hockey organization. When people like Campbell lambast the IIHF for not having balls, many of us in Europe agree. However, our problem is that the IIHF doesn't have the balls to stand up to the NHL.
As for Campbell's insistence that Radulov be banned from international competition, he's again showing a typical disregard for the facts. The IIHF did ban Radulov; his own Hockey News told us they did. The NHLPA protested, and the ban was revoked.
"Yesterday's announcement by the IIHF that they have suspended certain players from international competition has no basis in fact or law, and constitutes a violation of the rights of these players," NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly said Saturday.
Campbell's moralizing over Radulov is such complete bullshit that I find it hard to take his writings seriously. He's wearing the typical Canadian blinkers where the NHL poaching players from every league in the world is perfectly all right, but the instant an NHL team loses a player, it's an infamous crime against "the sanctity of contracts".
Remember a guy called Evgeni Malkin? Who walked out on his contract to a Russian team to sign with the Penguins? Remember how the NHL respected the "sanctity of his contract" and refused ot sign him, and Ken Campbell and other Canadian hockey pundits roundly condemned Malkin for breaking contract? Funny, I only remember the first two parts. I hope you don't remember the latter two, because they never happened. Maybe some contracts are more sacred than others?
This Canadian attitude, which I've referred to several times here, is a very real impediment to the popularity and spread of the sport. As long as one continent, one league and effectively one nation continue to regard the game as theirs and have absolutely zero respect for anyone else, it's hurting the game. Of course, they don't give a shit about the game of hockey; not Ken Campbell, not Don Cherry, not one Canadian hockey patriot. They care about their Canadian conception of hockey, where the sport is subordinate to their bigoted idea of national superiority.
The truth is, the sport doesn't belong to anyone. If the NHL ever recognized that, and treated other leagues as anything like equals instead of despicable bush leagues, the sport would benefit immensely. Unfortunately, it's a vain hope.
Nov 9, 2008
Having said that, I thought I'd just point out that it's weird when sometimes you read something on the Internet that you just totally identify with. It happened to me yesterday on Something Awful:
I haven't seen the first High School Musical installments, because, well, why the fuck would I have? I'm not a prepubescent girl. I'm an old man who listens to black metal.
Yeah, that's about it.
Nov 8, 2008
Nov 7, 2008
Suomeen valmistellaan kiireisesti lakia, joka mahdollistaa pankkien pakkokansallistamisen. YLE Uutisten saamien tietojen mukaan lakiehdotus tulee valtioneuvostoon ehkä jo ensi viikolla.
Laki takaisi valtioneuvostolle mahdollisuuden ottaa ongelmapankki tarvittaessa valtion hallintaan vaikka vastoin pankin omaa tahtoa.
To summarize in English, the Finnish government news agency is telling us Finland is preparing a law that would let the government forcibly nationalize banks that are in credit trouble.
This is beyond incredible. Finland's answer to the credit crisis is to prepare to nationalize its banking system.
As it stands now, the Finnish banking sector, like most other banking systems in the world, is only quasi-private. The government pumps money into the banks constantly, and guarantees that they can't go bankrupt no matter what they do.
If you think a system like this will lead to reasonable financing, you're either insane or a European politician. Sometimes I suspect these categories overlap more than is reasonable. It's now led us into a financial crisis, and the ideas now being floated to fix it are simply breathtaking.
Seriously. I have nothing sensible to say about this. I thought we were a free market economy. I don't remember the election or referendum where we changed our minds about that. Sorry if you own stock in a Finnish bank; you may not do so much longer.
The thing that finally defeats any of my attempts to comment on this is the quote from a Finnish politician in the article.
Eduskunnan talousvaliokunnan puheenjohtaja Jouko Skinnari sanoo, että eduskuntaan tarvitaan pikaisesti vakuusrahastolaki, jolla taataan se, että veronmaksajille mahdollisesti koituvat tappiot jäävät mahdollisimman pieniksi.
The head of the parliament economic committee says the law is needed so that the state can minimize the cost to taxpayers.
Minimize the costs to taxpayers. By buying out banks with our money.
Welcome to Finland!
The only way to really minimize costs to taxpayers is to let the banks go bankrupt. Yes, people will lose money. If you want to help them, do. Don't help the banks that got themselves into this mess.
The attitude we've taken to the financial crisis, and the laws we're now passing, seem to be tailor-made to cause another crisis exactly like this one. Typically for a democracy, we're not even trying to solve the problem, we're just trying to postpone it.
Nov 6, 2008
Last week, it was reported that Anaheim was interested in Sundin as well. What, is Anaheim going to turn into the New York Rangers of the West, with a team median age of 45? With that in mind, can I suggest a second line of Brendan Shanahan - Sundin - Selänne?
Mats's old team, the Maple Leafs, are surprising everyone by, well, not sucking. I've seen a couple of the Leafs' games, and I have to admit I like what I'm seeing. The come-from-behind win against the Rangers last week was brilliant. There hasn't been a Leafs team like this in years: they simply won't quit. The young guys are playing great. Although I disagreed with the decision to keep Luke Schenn up, he has earned it.
The fact that the nascent youth movement seems to be working actually changes things for Toronto. They have a good goaltender in Toskala and a good prospect coming up in Pogge. The young forwards are playing great. Although Toronto was meant to be gearing up for a run at John Tavares, if they keep this up they might make the playoffs, especially with Ottawa turning into a flop again.
This time, unlike last year with a roster full of overpaid veterans, it wouldn't even be a bad thing if the made the playoffs. The kids would all benefit immensely from some playoff experience. Atlanta's only playoff run showed the huge difference between the level of play in the NHL regular season, and how unprepared players can be for it.
For the moment at least, the Maple Leafs look suspiciously like they might not totally suck.
Of course, Mats might change that, as Ken Campbell points out:
The Leafs have a great thing going. They’re infinitely better than anyone thought they would be. They play with a youthful energy and enthusiasm that hasn’t been seen in years and Ron Wilson, a terrific coach, has made players accountable all the way through the lineup and has made it crystal clear the country club is now closed.
Why on earth would the Leafs want to mess with that by signing Sundin?
There is something to the idea of not changing a winning lineup. Campbell also has some harsh things to report about the Stars; there's trouble in Dallas...
Having quoted him, I still take issue with some of Mr. Campbell's opinions. More specifically, his bashing of Todd Bertuzzi. In October, he said this:
When are NHL decision makers, most of whom are usually astute judges of hockey talent, going to finally come to the realization they should have years ago – that Todd Bertuzzi is not only no longer an impact player in the league, but he’s more of a detriment than a contributor to his team?
Bertuzzi leads his team in goals with 7 in 12 games. Some detriment.
A current hockey controversy involves Doug Weight's hit on Brandon Suter. Weight hit Suter's head and he was rushed to hospital with a concussion. Predictably, this reopened the controversy on hits to the head in the NHL.
To recap, hitting to the head is a foul that results in a penalty in all the European leagues and in international hockey. A hit to the head (or to the back for that matter) results in a 2 minute minor penalty and a 10 minute misconduct; if the player being hit is injured, the penalty is a 5 minute major and a 20 minute misconduct, which means being ejected from the game. The player is almost invaríably suspended for several games.
Usually when an NHL player is injured by a vicious hit to the head the topic is brought up: should the league penalize headshots?
The TSN panel debated the topic, and really put the whole thing in a nutshell. Ex-Tampa coach John Tortorella simply said the penalty wouldn't work. The panel host quoted statistics from a Canadian junior league that instituted the penalty, and the number of head shots clearly fell. Tortorella's reply? "Don't give me numbers; I don't care about the numbers."
That's a stupefying answer. He doesn't care about the numbers. He, and the other people clamoring against any kind of penalty on head shots, don't seem to care about players' safety, either. The Hockey News' Brian Costello:
The only rule change that could have prevented this collision is to eliminate hitting from the game and that’s a preposterous notion.
I don't really have a decided opinion on whether head shots should be penalized or not. What I do have a very decided opinion on is the intellectual level this debate is on.
Somehow, every debate on penalties in the NHL ends with Canadians going berserk because the rule changes will eliminate either hitting or fighting. They said this about all the post-lockout rule changes, and hitting increased in the league. They say mandatory visors will eliminate fighting; the AHL instituted them and fights increased. Now they're saying penalizing head shots will eliminate hitting.
Of course, this is a very simple philosophy to hold. All it takes is a Tortorellaesque disregard for, well, reality. I mean, as an NHL coach, he has to know that hockey stats actually more or less represent reality? You know, when they say Joe Thornton scored 29 goals last season, that means the puck actually crossed the goal line 29 times? "Don't tell me about the numbers, I don't want to hear about the numbers!" I hate to take cheap shots, but no wonder they fired him.
I don't know if penalizing head shots is the answer. What I do know is that the decision can't be based on ranting and shouting, and that's all I've seen from the people who oppose it.
A week or so ago, THN's Brian Duff pointed out that Ryan Smyth got away with goalie interference again, and wondered "why don’t they scrutinize Smyth the way they did Holmstrom [sic] in the playoffs?".
The answer seems simple: apparently Tomas Holmström is the only guy who regularly gets called for goalie interference. Last week, Crosby assisted on the Pens' only goal against the Sharks, by passing the puck and running the goalie (don't believe me? watch the highlights). If that had been Holmström who ran into Nabokov, you can bet he would've gotten a penalty. But the Next One? Never!
On that topic, a wonderful news item on TSN: Alexander Semin speaks his mind, on Sidney Crosby, no less.
"What's so special about (Crosby)?" Semin told Yahoo! Sports through a translator. "I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago.(Kane) is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb."
Semin also criticized the way stars like Crosby are promoted, saying there's too much focus on stats and not enough emphasis on skill.
I just became an Alexander Semin fan.
Nov 5, 2008
In some ways, this is sad for me. I support the Republican party, and if I were an American citizen, I would have voted for the McCain ticket. I'm especially sorry that Sarah Palin didn't become the first woman vice-president.
The broader sad note is on the subject of women in politics in general. In my opinion, the amount of dirt thrown at both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the primary and presidential campaigns respectively was unbelievable. The idea that is circulating around and was even brought up on CNN that Sarah Palin is somehow fundamentally incompetent to be vice-president is incredible. The media treated both Palin and Clinton extremely harshly.
I'm afraid that this harsh treatment will be on both parties' minds four years from now. Because of the brutal way they were treated, both parties will most likely be reluctant to put a woman on the ticket in the next elections. After that, I have high hopes, but I'm afraid that the very ugly stuff that went on during the campaign will deter both women from running for office and parties from nominating women.
Having said that, Obama's victory is a spectacular victory for racial equality in America. As he said in his speech, in less than a century America has come from not allowing women or blacks to vote to electing a black president. That's definitely something to be proud of.
Writing from Finland, I can't help but contrast it with our latest election, where the biggest winner was a party that ran candidates on overtly anti-immigrant and anti-Islam platforms. That's a sad reflection on where Finland stands in comparison to the United States.
The ideals Barack Obama held up in his speech in Chicago are great ones. His speech spoke to everything that I believe is great about the United States of America, and I sincerely hope he will be a great president. I'm afraid that his campaign of change and hope has raised hopes far in excess of anything he can deliver, but though my sympathies lie squarely with the Republican Party, I wish Barack Obama success and all the best.
A timeline, with help from Wikipedia:
1619: The first African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia
1863: The Emancipation Proclamation ends slavery in the United States
1954: The Supreme Court of the United States outlaws racial discrimination
2008: Barack Obama is elected President of the United States
The history of human slavery is a dark one, and one that we all, as human beings, should be deeply ashamed of. Today America has taken a very big step toward the final repudiation of that legacy.
That's something to be very proud of.
Nov 4, 2008
In the Greater Helsinki area, there's a bit of a problem with basement break-ins; the bad guys will break into a common basement and just steal everything that isn't nailed down. It's happened at least once nearly everywhere I've lived or stayed here. I'm thinking I'll put the broken router in our basement. If some crooks steal it, hopefully they'll pawn it off to some criminal. When the guy finds out he's been sold a router that doesn't work, he'll hopefully kneecap the guys who sold it to him. They won't be breaking into any more basements!
I know it's a stretch, but I don't see what else I can do to prevent burglaries.
Also, a funny thing. I nominate this as the Sentence of the Week:
Cyclists between Cardiff and Penarth in 2006 were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an "inflamed bladder".
Nov 3, 2008
As Mike Sexton says: Bang! How do you like that?
It's very, very hot model Aria Giovanni's birthday, so I'm wishing her a happy birthday. As Wikipedia puts it, she "has modeled in a range of photographic styles". Here's some:
Nov 2, 2008
Given all the work the FIA did to make him champion, Hamilton lost the first season because he couldn't keep his head together, and a series of stupid mistakes cost him the title. This year, despite bending every rule in his favor again, Hamilton nearly threw away the title by driving like a lunatic at Japan; even in the last GP, he was incredibly close to losing the title. The way Sebastian Vettel thoroughly outperformed him in Brazil was amazing.
But, with the entire organization behind you to make sure you win, he finally managed it. In my opinion, the entire Lewis Hamilton era of F1 is a disgrace. His title could just as well have been handed to him before the start of the season by Ecclestone and the FIA.
This is not a good time to compare F1 with any other sport. In the NHL, for instance, despite years of hype for Sidney Crosby and the total disregard the referees and league show for what he gets up to, they still simply can't make him win the Stanley Cup. Hockey is too much of a traditional sport for that to happen. In F1, however, we're again reminded that things are different.
I have no doubt that the British will tell Hamilton's story as an uphill struggle against the evil FIA, which according to them favors Ferrari. Nationalism is ugly, and will show its ugliest side when the island nation gloats over its victory.
We'll see what happens next season. Will the Hamilton exemption continue, or will he have to drive by the same rules as the other drivers? The FIA now have their youngest ever world champion and a new face for the sport. Will they be satisfied?
One thing they can't change, however. Chiefly because of Heikki Kovalainen's inept driving, the constructor's championship will stay where it belongs. Maybe if the FIA are done for now, the driver's championship will come back too.
Until next season.