Green is the color of money

The Greens in the Helsinki metropolitan area released their proposal for congestion-charges for the city. I wont comment on the actual idea of congestion-charges, but I DO want to comment on their proposal, which is downright stupid.

The charge works as you might expect: you need to pay if you drive to the metro-area. You can either pay per kilometer, or you can buy a monthly "pass". If you buy that monthly pass, you also get a 30-day ticket for the mass-transport in the metro-area. Which is a good idea.

Everything else about their suggestion sucks though.

Their idea is to basically charge money from commuters who drive to the metro-area (Metro-area in this case is the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Helsinki) from the surrounding counties. Also, if you drive inside the metropolitan area and cross a city-limit (like, driving from Helsinki to Espoo) you need to pay.

Well, what's the problem here? Simple: if you just drive inside one city (like, inside Helsinki), you do not need to pay one dime extra.

Why is that a problem? Well, it's the idea behind all this. Fact is that further away from the metro-area you are, the less viable alternative mass-transit is. And now those who live outside the metro-area would be punished because they commute to the metro-area. And while they are punished, the people inside metro-area (to whom mass-transit IS a viable alternative) are not encouraged to use mass-transit. People who live in Helsinki can keep on driving inside Helsinki, without having to pay one cent extra. Even if they had a tram/bus/metro 50 meters from their home. People outside metro-area who have no other alternative but to use their car, are expected to pay more.

I commute by train, since my workplace is right in the downtown of Helsinki. The Mrs.'s workplace is not in the downtown, so she carpools with her father. The reason for that is that there is not one mass-transit connection between our home and the place she works. Not one.

The Greens' proposal would make it quite a bit more expensive for her (and her father) to go to work. And the mass-transit-ticket they would get in return would not even be useful for her, since it's not valid here. We would have to live closer to Helsinki to be able to use it.

Her only "viable" alternative is to get a 30-days train-ticket (costs 106 euros/month) and in addition, a 30-day bus-ticket from Helsinki to Espoo (where she works, costs 114e/month). It would cost her 220e/month just to go to work. Daily commute would be 60-90 minutes in one direction. So she would spend 2-3 hours a day commuting, and she would pay 220e for the pleasure.

I have mailed two Green politicians about this (one of them my representative in the parliament), but I have received no reply.

why did Greens suggest something like this? Why aren't they suggesting new fares for people who live in Helsinki (or Espoo, or Vantaa), but still use their own car? I guess the reason is simple: This was one of their themes in the communal-elections. And it's not politically smart to tell the voters "if you vote us, we will make you pay more". No, what they said was basically "If you vote us, we will make these other people pay more". People outside the metro-area would be asked to pay more, but those people do not vote in the metro-area communal elections.

A conversation with the Mrs.

Me: Honey, do you remember that domestic period-movie you wanted to go see few months ago, but we never did?

Her: Yeah....

Me: Well, there's another domestic period-piece in the movies at this very moment. Would you like to go see it?

Her: Well....

Me: It's tagline is "Wash your sins". How about it?

Her: ...You are weird, you are so weird!

Needless to say, we didn't go see that one...

Circle: broken

I got my new speakers yesterday. And they sound fabulous. And everything is so easy to use that non-geeks can handle it as well.

The speakers turn on automatically when I start to listen to some music, and they turn off when I stop listening. Even the Mrs. acknowledged that they sound great, and that's quite a confession, since she hates the idea of speakers.

It's weird how, in the end, the solution of my problem was so simple. No need to invest thousands of euros. Just get some powered speakers, hook them up to Airport Express, and you are done.

The good thing in this setup is that there's lots of room for growth in the future. If I in the future get stuff like blu-ray and other home-theater stuff, I can easily grow the system. But right now my needs are simple, and so is my setup.

Breaking the circle

A while ago I blogged about my plans to upgrade my television, stereos etc. It ended with frustration, since even simplest upgrade required upgrades somewhere else, end-result being thousands of euros being "invested" in technology that will lose value very fast.

Obviously, my original plan was flawed, since it required such a large investment. So I took a fresh look at how to proceed. And I realized that I can reach my goal with a lot less complication and expense.

Yesterday, I took the first step. I bought a pair of Genelec 6020's. Those speakers are absolutely superb. Only thing better would be another Genelecs. Those speakers are on the "low-end" of Genelec-range and they are pretty darn small. But size does not matter. The sound-quality is impeccable. It's quite probable that similar Genelecs (only bigger) were used in the studio that recorded the music you are listening to. They are that good.

Yes, it could be said that spending 700e on a pair of small speakers is a lot of money (the list-price is 800e, so I got a nice discount), but there are speakers that cost ten times that much. And the price/quality-ratio of these speakers is probably the best in the market. 800e for these speakers is a bargain! Besides, my plan is that I will be using these speakers for at least 15 years, if not more. And in any audio-setup, the speakers are by far the most important component.

And good thing about those speakers is that they hold their value. At least when compared to stuff like televisions, computers and the like.

I will receive the speakers at the end of the week, since they are shipping straight from the factory in Iisalmi. Yes, I value the fact that these speakers are made in Finland.

So I now (well, soon) have the speakers. What next? Well, next step is to invest about 90e on an Airport Express, and hook it to the speakers. Then I can simply select the music I want through iTunes, and tell it to play the music back through the speakers. Problem solved. As an added bonus, I can use my iPod touch to control the setup.

I guess there is a third step still. And that's re-encoding my music in a lossless format. But we shall see. That would take quite a bit of hard-drive space, not to mention time.

the monopack

It occured to me few days ago that I'm actually starting to see some changes in my appearance, thanks to the gym. I can see muscles where there were no muscles before. No, I don't have a sixpack, I have a monopack, but boy is it a big one! Too bad that it's located at my belly...

My monopack can keep company to my monobrow. Yes, I have singular eye-brow and I'm proud of it!

The Global Financial Crisis...

...has so far cost me about 90 euros.

Religious baggage

I mentioned in my previous post that I couldn't vote for Christian Democrats, since that would bring with it all kinds or religious stuff I have zero interest in supporting. And just to be sure, the leader of Christian Democrats has opened her mouth and reminded me why I should not and could not vote for them. Ever.

"Olen pääministerin kanssa samaa mieltä siitä, että koulusurmissa kohdataan uusi pelottava ilmiö - ihmisviha. Jokelan ja Kauhajoen surmaajat ilmoittautuivat myös ateistikseiksi. Tämä ilmiö on käänteinen kristinuskon lähimmäisenrakkaudelle"


"I agree with prime minister in that we are now facing a new and terrifying phenomena in our schools: misanthropy. Killers in Jokela and Kauhajoki said that they are atheists. This phenomena is totally opposite to the Christian empathy",

So, atheists are misantrophes and killers just waiting to snap? Mrs. Räsänen: Fuck you. And I say that with all due respect, since no respect is intended.

Who was it who said "Judge not, or you will be judged"? It would be nice for a change to see Christians actually listening what their savior actually said....

She also said: "Tarvitsemme yhteisöllisyyden vahvistamista, mutta tarvitsemme myös kansallista heräämistä siihen ihmisrakkauden sanomaan, jota kristillinen usko on synnyttänyt kautta vuosisatojen."

"We also need strengthened sense of community, but we also need national awakening to the message of empathy that Christian faith has created through the centuries".

Oh really? There are few people in the world who would have pretty strong opinions about that "Christian empathy". How about homosexuals, women, "unbelievers", "witches", indians and blacks?