Lordi revisited

Damn, they even made in to The New York Times!

"Radioactive, but otherwise healthy"

For some reason, I found that quote amusing. Found here.

A week?!?!?!?

"Hello, it's xxxxxx from Sony. We were supposed to pick up your television?"

"Hello. Yes, great! When are you coming to pick it up?"

"How does tomorrow morning between 8.30 and 9.30 sound?"

"Um, OK. But if you pick it up tomorrow, then I wont get it back by weekend?"

"Propably not. On average it takes about a week to repair the television. Unless we have to order some spare-parts. And we do have quite a bit of backlog here"

"A week?!?!"

"Yep. So, the tomorrow is OK then? I trust that you will help me carry the television to the car?"

"Yeah, I guess so"

Damn you Sony!

I want my passive entertainment!

It's been close to one week without television, and tensions are running high...

Last week (right before long Easter weekend! Sheesh!) on thursday-morning it happened. I was brushing my teeth and watched the news to TV (have to be prepared for yet another workday). Suddenly I hear this loud "click" from the television and the screen goes blank. Uh oh.... Then the power-indicator starts to flash. Oooops. I run to the TV and turn in on from the master-switch. It turns off. I then try to turn it back on. And it does. But there's no picture nor sound. And the power-light just flashes.

I grab the manual and see the list of problems I could have with the television.... A-ha, success! "Problem: There is no picture or sound. The power-indicator is flashing". yep, that's what I have. "To fix the problem:" Yes, give it to me baby! "...Contact Sony customer-service". Nooooooooooo! It's thursday-morning right before Easter. There's no way they could fix the problem on the same day, so I'm looking at long weekend with no television. And on thursdays they show "Lost"! Dammit! On friday they show "Battlestar Galactica"! Crap! On saturday we have "William and Mary" (favourite of the Mrs.)! Now the shit really hits the fan... The only good thing here is that the TV is still under warranty. I bought it in 2002, but I got extended 5-year warranty for it for free.

So I call Sony later that day... And this man with lower-than-average customer-service attitude takes my call. After describing the problem he asks me "could you take the television to service by yourself?" Yeah, sure. It's a huge 32-inch tube that weights maybe 60 kilos, and it has no handles that could be used to carry it. I'll get right on it sir! NOT. So then I'm told "Well, our guy will come by your place on tuesday to pick it up". I ask about the specific time, since I obviously have to be there when he picks up the TV, and it takes me about 1 hour to get from the workplace back home. "Well, he will call you and you can talk about it between you two". Thanks for nothing. Why do I get the feeling that he will call me and say "I'll be at your place in 20 minutes to pick up the TV"?

On tuesday I wait for the call, ready to leave the work at moments notice. No call. At 14.00 I call Sony again. "Well, you see the guy who was supposed to pick up your TV injured his hand during the weekend. He'll be back at work at wednesday". What was he doing? Masturbating furiously all through the easter untill his hand broke down? When I ask that will the TV be repaired before weekend, I get another non-reply: "well, you see the guy who actually fixes the televisions is coming back from his vacation on wednesday as well, and he'll start fixing televisions right away. He might have some backlog though". Thanks, I feel so much better already. Does Sony REALLY have just one employee who picks up faulty equipment, and one employee who fixes it? Come on Sony!

So I will most certainly lose two "Lost" episodes in a row. And I might also lose two "Galactica"-episodes as well (if I'm really lucky I might get the TV before weekend).

If this keeps up, I might end up being like this guy.

Yeah, it's a Sony-television, and Sony is evil. But back when I bought it, they weren't quite as evil as they are today.

The Retarder

We all need a bit of mystery in our lives. And in my case, it's this strange switch in the dashboard of the bus I quite often use for my trip back home from work. The switch is labeled "Retarder" (yes, in English). It's a lot bigger than the other switches on the dashboard. And not only is it bigger, it also has this yellowish indicator next to it. The other switches have these puny indicators attached to them, but The Retarder has a big indicator. Clearly, The Retarder is the King of Switches.

I have often studied that switch from the distance and wondered what it does. Is it some kind of futuristic tool designed to be used against troublemaking passengers? "If you don't behave yourselves, I'm going to Retard you!".

Never mess with the bus-drivers.


Easter is here. They actually had mämmi for dessert at the cafeteria today.

Loose ends

Howls Moving Castle

Finally saw this one. And to my HUGE surprise, it was the Mrs. who bought it on DVD! She buys very few DVD's overall, and I was under the impressions that "Moving Castle" was not on the top of her list, even though her sister had been recommending it. She bought the special deal, which had the DVD and the novel all in one package.

Anyway, the movie kicked ass! Not only are Miyazakis animations the best there is right now, they are also among the best _movies_ there is.

The Office

Speaking of DVD's.... I saw Season 1 and 2 of "The Office" available for 6.95e a piece! Whoa, I'll be picking those up later today! Still on my "to-buy"-list: "Office Space". Maybe I have a fetish for dysfuntional businesses...

Mac for sale!

OK, I decided to sell my Mac. A Mac Mini to be precise. I noticed that

a) Everything I do with the Mac (manage my iPod, manage my camera, manage my photos), I can do on Linux as well.

b) As a concequence (I'm not even going to pretend to know how to spell that right) of a), I haven't used the Mac that much recently.

c) Even the Mrs. seems to use Linux without any problems. She had some issues with the Mac, but she hasn't had any issues with my Linux-machine. Could it be that... Linux is easier to use than a Mac???

d) I need the money to buy some other gizmos (I hate consumerism, but I love technological gizmos (and movies). It's a vicious circle....). Currently on my shopping-cart: Nokia 770 and various components for personal server. Well, I can put that stuff on my taxes, so it's not that bad.

Anyway, I'm selling the Mac. And I'm propably selling the external hard-drive as well. A shame really, since I absolutely LOVE the hardware. I could run Linux on it, but it wouldn't work optimally, because of the PowerPC-architecture (most closed-source Linux-binaries only work on x86-CPU's). I just need to move my data off the machine, wipe it, and install clean OS X in there. Then I'm all set to sell it.

Thirty Years: A tale of two movies and the country that gave birth to them

This post is about Finland, it's history, and how it has been reflected throught the times.

After the Second World War (which for Finns means Winter War and Continuation War against the Soviet Union, and Lapland War against the Germans), in 1954, Väinö Linna wrote a book called "Tuntematon Sotilas" ("The Unknown Soldier" in English). In 1955 it was turned in to a movie by Edwin Laine, and it was filmed again in 1985 by Rauni Mollberg. So the two movies are exactly thirty years apart.

Regarding the book.... In 1954, the trauma of the war(s) still ran deep in Finland. During WW2, Finland lost about 90.000 men dead, and over 280.000 were injured. That's quite a lot for nation of 3.5 million. Besides casualties, the country lost it's cultural heartland (Karelia) and about 140.000 people had to leave their homes. In the fifties, the nation was still in shock. Linnas book, while controversial in it's time, was an important tool in healing those wounds.

Even more important in healing those wounds was the original movie adaptation of the book. It didn't glorify the war, but it helped the survivors of the war feel that "what we did was good. What we did was right". Of course, back in those days movies tended to be a bit megalomaniac, with thundering monologues and overpowering music. It was like that everywhere, and Finland was no exception. But the movie is still very good, and they show it every year during the Independence Day. The movie acts as a medicine for the people. Even after 60 years, the memories of the war are still there. Even for the people who didn't take part in it.

The new version of the movie has received a lot less attention. I saw it just once, and I was just a kid back then. So my memories of it were a bit hazy. few days ago I finally bought it on DVD, and started watching it. Let's cover the basics first:

The new version is based on the same script that was used in the old version. So large parts of the dialogue are same. But there are considerable differences between the two versions, so it makes sense to see them both. As a war-movie, the new version is very good. It used techniques that were made popular over a decade later by "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers". Things like shooting the film by hand right in the middle of the action. In many ways, the movie was ahead of it's time.

But what's not interesting is comparing the technical merits of the two movies. What's interesting is to compare the message of the two. In fifties, the war was still remembered by everyone. The nation was at a state of shock, and it needed a sense of purpose and sense of direction. And the old version helped there. It told people that the soldiers did what had to be done, and they did not do it in vain.

What about the new version? Well, this is where it gets interesting. The seventies and early eighties were a time when Soviet Union was looming over Finland. There were many people in Finland who openly admired Soviet Union and communism, and criticizing the SU was more or less banned. During that time, there was an element of self-loathing when it comes to the history of Finland. Continuation War was discussed, and since that war contains controversial elements as far as Finland is considered (Fighting alongside Nazi-Germany, war of conquest in Eastern Karelia), it was mostly talked about in negative manner. I don't think it was easy being a veteran of the Continuation War back then. Winter War was a different matter. It's very difficult to blame anyone else but Soviet Union for that one, so it wasn't discussed that much. There were people in Finland that wanted to "whip the Nation" as far as its history was concerned. Continuation War was a good tool for that, whereas Winter War was not (justification of the Continuation War is a whole different topic, which I wont discuss here). It was self-inflicted censorship. Things that contained controversial elements (like Continuation War) were discussed, whereas acts of pure self-defence (Winter War) were not.

In to this era, the new version of "The Unknown Soldier" was born. And it clearly a child of it's times. While it is very similar to the old version, as far as characters and dialogue is concerned, there are lots of subtle differences. In the new version, the soldiers are seen to like the killing more. They are portrayed more as savages. In the old version they are shown as soldiers doing their job (well, they are not robots in the old version either), in the new version they are shown to be more cruel. Besides having scenes of killing surrendered Russians, we have scenes of the soldiers plundering and burning parts of the town of Petrozavodsk in a drunken rage. The movie constantly tries to underline that Finns were the aggressors, whereas Russians were victims. Lotta Svärd are shown as "comfort women" (more or less) of the soldiers. The list goes on.

After a while, it becomes a bit tedious to watch the movie, since it's constantly pushing an agenda. It's not overtly obvious, but it's always there, just beneath the surface. Some might say that the old version does the same, just from the opposite direction. But I don't think so. There's plenty of critique of the war in the old movie, and it doesn't glorify the war, nor the soldiers. It shows them as normal human beings. What the new version has, is that element of self-hatred that was prevalent in the seventies and the eighties. And there's the element of self-censorship that makes it next to impossible to critique the Soviet Union. And that is why Finns are seen as brutal aggressors, when in fact the truth of the matter is a bit more complex than that (it always is).

These two movies give us an excellent possibility to see how mentality of a nation can change over the course of the years. The two movies are closely connected to each other, yet the message of the two is very different. The two movies act as a mini-Finland, which we can observe from the outside. Who know, maybe ten years from now, we will make another version of "The Unknown Soldier"?

Environmentalist? Who, me?

During my online-activities, I have been called both environmentalist and anti-environmentalist. I think it's safe to say that we can't label people something or anti-something, since most people support and oppose many things associated with that particular group. I support many things environmentalists (or rather, people who call themselves that) do, and I oppose many things they do. Where do I stand on issues related to environment? Well, here it goes:

Renewable energy

Yes please! I think that government should subsidy citizens when they buy solar-panels and windmills for private use. They should also support purchases of heat-pumps (devices that extrac heat from the soil and/or air, significantly reducing the heating-expenses. Heat extracted from the soil/air is basically "free" energy).

Besides small-scale renewables, the government should increase the usage of renewables in large-scale as well. That said, in Finland it can be difficult. For example, wind-power is difficult since during the time we need the energy most (middle of the winter) we also receive the least amount of wind. But still, I support renewables.


Environmentalist: 1
non-Environmentalist: 0

Nuclear power

Yes please! Yes, we all have mental images of Chernobyl and huge piles of nuclear waste. Hell, my friend got cancer because of Chernobyl! But still, when you really look at it, nuclear power is very safe. During the history of nuclear power, there has been two large accidents: Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Three Mile Island didn't really cause any harm, and Chernobyl was caused by incompetent engineers carrying out a dangerous experiment on a fundamentally flawed reactor-design. But still, Chernobyl was bad, right? Yes it was. But when you compare the amount of radioactive waste generated by nuclear power, you will actually see that coal-plants pump out more nuclear waste. The difference is that coal-plants pump the waste in to the atmosphere, whereas nulcear plants have the waste in solid form.

Yes, many of the processes invloved in nulcear power could and should be improved. For example, the mining of uranium could be made more environmentally friendly.

Well, what about that waste? Yep, it can be a dilemma. But it can be solved. Enter Integral Fast Reactor. IFR uses 99.5% of the energy in the uranium, as opposed to mere 1% in current reactors. End result is a lot less nuclear waste, and the waste that is generated is dangerous for only few hundred years, as opposed to current timescale of thousands of years. In fact, the waste that we have today could be re-used as fuel for IFR-reactors.

IFR is also safe. In case of overheating, the fuel would expand (as mandated by laws of physics), and that would cause the nuclear reaction to automatically slow down.

Environmentalist: 1
non-environmentalist: 1

Private transportation

In this context this refers to cars, as opposed to trains and buses. I can't help it, but I absolutely love private transportation. I love cars, and I love driving them. I do use public transportation every day, so I'm not hopeless :). I do think that cars could be made more environmentally friendly, and I support it. Just today I saw a SUV (bleh!) with a hybrid-engine (yes!). Combine hybrid with uber-efficient diesel-engine, and you have a recipe for success. With gasoline-engines we could have something like VW's TwinCharger-engine, where even big cars could be equipped with relatively small engines that are both super- and turbocharged. 2-liter engines could be replaced with 1.4-liter engines for example.

Sometimes I feel that environmentalists are a bit irrational. For example, Helsinki has been planning for some time now to build an underground tunnel from western end of Helsinki to the eastern parts of the city. Rationale is that there a huge number of cars driving through Helsinki every day, and they are just passing through. Going around the city would take too long, so they go through. So we have traffic-jams, and lots of cars in the downtown. The tunnel would move that traffic underground, where the cars would move along switftly and efficiently (instead of spending their time if traffic-jams). The pollution from the cars could be cleaned up before it reaches the outside, and since traffic in the city would be reduced by a significant amount (I have heard estimates that the amount of cars in downtown-Helsinki would re reduced by 30-50%), several of the currently car-filled streets could be turned in to pedestrian-avenues. That tunnel would also be connected to several underground parking-areas, so those cars would not have to get above the ground in order to find a place to park (which is another significant source of traffic in Helsinki).

So everyone wins. The environment benefits when we have less cars sitting in traffic. The pedestrians benefit, because we can have more streets dedicated to pedestrians. And drivers benefit when they can reach their destination fast and smoothly. And we have a nicer city with large part of the traffic and parked cars being underground, insead of all around the place. So what's the problem then? The Greens that have large number of seats in the Helsinki City government oppose the tunnel because (and I quote) "we cannot support any initiative that would benefit private transportation". Uh, OK. So we still have car-infested city, where cars sit in traffic-jams, where pedestrians have only handful of streets meant solely for pedestrians and traffic is in general not as smooth as it could be. And we now have a method of helping the city and the environment. But we can't do it because it would benefit private transportation as well. Illogical? I think so.

And if we look outside Helsinki, we can see that many people absolutely need a car. Population-density is low, and distances can be quite big. Public-transportation is simply not feasible in many cases. Back when I lived in the countryside, the bus-stop was about 2 kilometers away, and buses drove past it maybe once every three hours.

So, while I do love private transportation, I also use public-transportation if it makes sense. And in my case it does. But I don't consider myself to be an environmentalist on this issue. Rather, I'm a pragmatist.

Environmentalist: 1
non-environmentalist: 2


This is a tricky question. I would think that my answer would be a "yes.... maybe". There are downsides, but there are upsides as well. If we can create plants that need less insecticide and fertilizers, that is a Good Thing (tm). That said, I oppose the idea of patenting genes. And I oppose the idea of requiring farmers to "licence" new set of patented seeds every year, and the old seed have to be thrown away. That's just stupid. So the process of using the GM-seeds and products needs a SERIOUS change.

Yes, I do understand the worries of environmentalists. But humans have been doing genetic engineering for centuries, we just have better tools now. But there are still issues. You could say that I'm positive, but not enthusiastic.

Environmentalist: 1.5
non-environmentalist: 2.5


I have donated money to Animalia and I do support animal-rights. Sort of. I'm against animal-testing in cosmetics-industry. But I do not oppose them in medical-research. While I think that conditions in fur-farms could and should be improved, I do not support banning them. In a way, furs are quite ecological. My wife has a fur she got from her grandmother. It's something like 50 years old, and still going strong.

So, what am I here? I support animal-rights where it makes sense, but I'm not gung-ho about it. I also eat meat. I would say I'm 50/50 on this issue.

Environmentalist: 2
non-environmentalist: 3


Yes! We recycle, and it makes sense. The idea of throwing something away, and never using it again is just plain dumb. Idea of burying useful (in the sense that it contains usable raw-material) stuff in the ground is just stupid.

Environmentalist: 3
non-environmentalist: 3

Local Products

Hauling productst all over the globe consumes energy. I consciously try to buy products that are made in Finland or near Finland. That's not possible every time, but I try to do it. So you can label me as an environmentalist on this issue. OTOH, my reasons are economic as well, besides ecological.

Environmentalist: 4
non-environmentalist: 3

Hmmm.... I guess that's about it. Draw your own conclusions.