Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Here we go again...

Originally uploaded by lorenzodom.
I am fed up. The BBC website announced today that the British Journal of Psychology will publish later this year a study saying that men score on average five points more on IQ tests than women.

Right. Pff.... And the use of this information is what? One of the researchers, Dr Irwing, says that this could maybe explain why there are more male chessmasters, Fields metallists and Nobel prize winners. Come on. It does not even take a half an hour of gender studies to know that there might be quite a number of other reasons behind this unbalanced gender division. And it is amazing that someone that educated would make a statement like that indicating that these trophies would be a undisputed sign of intelligence. Please.

And to be honest: what if this would really be the case? What should we make out of this? To conclude that it is only natural to have men in leading positions? Or that of course more IQ points (on average) should mean more salary? I cannot stand this sort of studies that will then be used at least unconsciously for justifying the misrepresentation. It would be easy to say that it is not a problem of a scientist to worry about the use of their results but that would be just living in a isolated bubble.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Shiny happy nation

Originally uploaded by nubui.
I travelled during the weekend through southern Sweden on a train. I can not help it. The typical Finnish reaction: how can it be that these people look so happy and beautiful?

Swedes are a nation with a beautiful tan and white teeth. The difference when compared to Denmark is striking. If one looks out of the window, Sweden looks healthy and green, If one walks around in Copenhagen, Denmark is a country of sausages, pastries and smoking. I think that in Sweden it goes without saying that you can NOT smoke on a train.

Going back to the people. Yes, there has been clear improvement in Finnish men and women during the last few years but it does show that Swedes spend far more money and effort on their looks. Was it eight times more money on shoes?

And these villages look like they would be from postcards. I wonder if there is a place in Sweden that looks like Pieksämäki or Suonenjoki.

In a way it is quite comforting that Swedish cinema of the last ten years has shown that all is not well behind the beautiful facade (Om jag vänder mig om, Fucking Åmål etc.). I guess in the end the Swedes are people like the rest of us.

p.s. A funny piece of conversation from the conference I attended:
”So you live in Amsterdam?”
”Yes, that is correct.”
”Oh, you lucky bastard. But you’re Finnish?”

Friday, August 26, 2005

German security

Greetings from Copenhagen. If I would be still living in Helsinki, I would complain a bit about the weather. But after living eight months in Amsterdam: Hey, a bit of rain never killed anyone, did it?

I was yesterday in Berlin. The city was filled with election campaign posters mostly with either Ms Merkel or Mr Schröder. I would say that the biggest competition was for the most boring slogan. Or what would you say of this by SPD: Those who want peace, must accept stability. Genuinely visionary leadership..

Well, security seems to be a big theme. And that is why it surprised me that the security procedures compleletely failed on Tegel yesterday. I checked in with a machine and by the time I was in the plane, no one had checked whether I had an ID and whether the name was the same as in the tickets. Amazing when at times at Schiphol you are asked to show your ID three times. Worrying, I would say.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In Finland we have this thing called...

Originally uploaded by amsterboy.
Sometimes life is just simply beautiful. Like now when I am sitting on the balcony of my parents' apartment and having my not-so-morning-anymore morning coffee.

A friend of mine told me last week of a guy she met a while ago. The young man was from Kazakhstan and his every single comment started with either "Did you know that in Kazakhstan" or "In Kazakhstan we have this thing called".

Well, last week (World Championships in Athletics) when you took a tram in Helsinki you were able to witness similar approaches with an incredibly strong Finnish accent in English.
"That thing there is Kiasma, it is the museum of modern art."
"In Finland we have this thing called sisu which means like well ah guts."
"Yes, Finnish people drink very much."

"That place called Satumaa is a karaoke bar. Karaoke is very popular in Finland. Do you know karaoke?"

Yesterday in Kiasma Cafe I tried to concentrate on my book (Jonathan Safran Foer's brilliant Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) but I could not help listening to a discussion - well, monologue - in the next table.
"Yes, karaoke. Now we even have heavykaraoke. You know karaoke? Good. Nowadays you can sing heavykaraoke in Helsinki on three evenings per week. Very good, isn't it?"

My purpose is not to ridicule the people. To be honest, I find it so sweet and charming how proud Finns are of their country. The most amusing thing to me is when you start describing a famous Finn and you go through every single teeny detail even if the other person has never heard of Mannerheim or Kekkonen.
"Did you know that Kekkonen loved sauna and cross-country skiing?"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This World

Originally uploaded by syj0426.
I am one of those people who get totally enthusiastic rather easily. Even taking this into consideration, my reaction on Earth Google is, well, out of this world.

I heard about it months and months ago but I tested it for the first time this Saturday at a friend of mine. And that meant that I spent my Sunday on zooming in and out.

Earth Google is a tool where you can zoom into satellite pictures. For instance I could see my home in Amsterdam and our summer house 350 km from Helsinki. Whoa! And the coolest thing is when you start by having the entire globe in the picture and then you type for instance Helsinki and press Search. The "camera" zooms in until you can see the railway station. And then when you type Tokyo, the programme zooms out, spins the globe around and zooms into the capital of Japan. And all this for free. You just need to install the programme and then it is really easy. The only negative thing I have found is that the programme does not work on Apple computers. But I hope they would work on it.

Let's get global!

Monday, August 15, 2005

An Amsterdammer in Helsinki

The Helsinki Cathedral
Originally uploaded by amsterboy.
Last week of summer holiday started today. I am spending it in Helsinki meeting friends etc.

It is coming clearer after every visit: my hometown is Amsterdam, not Helsinki. I do not have a home in this town although my parents live here. I come to Helsinki for special occasions, not for living.

This notion has odd implications. I am starting to act like a tourist. Of course it is connected to the fact that I am having my holidays but still I don't feel like cooking, I go out very often and I plan to visit a number of museums. I even considered at one point to go to the Tourist Office to ask what one can do in Helsinki.

The World Championships in Athletics ended yesterday. I would figure that most of tourists head home today or during the coming days. The games have been quite visible on the streets of this city of half a million inhabitants. The amount of languages has made me feel like I would be - yes - abroad.

p.s. The biggest piece of news during the last week has been the helicopter accident outside Tallinn. Fourteen people died and they still do not know what happened. I noticed on Saturday when helicopters buzzed above Helsinki because of the marathon that my first reaction was: Oops, that could come down.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

It's an illness, stupid

Originally uploaded by
Emiko Hime.
Oh, modern times. A few years ago this situation would have seemed unreal. I am sitting in the sun at our summer house with my mother's laptop, which has a wireless internet connection. I know that for some people this seems like a nightmare but I like the fact that there is the possibility to check my emails every now and then.

This is my first paid summer holiday. Yes, it took me 28 years. At the beginning it was somewhat difficult to adjust to the concept that I am getting paid for sunbathing on the porch of our new sauna. In the beginning I checked my emails every day. Now it's been a few days. Getting there.

I read yesterday Neil Hardwick's book Hullun lailla (I'm still here - an unsuccesful suicide note). I found it from the summer house. Hardwick is a British playwriter and director who has lived in Finland for a number of years. The novel is about depression.

I read it on one day, which does not happen very often. Hardwick makes a strong statement saying that depression is an illness, not a sign of weakness or lazyness. He also analyses in an interesting manner the reasons that drive you deeper into depression. He states that one falls deeper because of the feeling of losing grip, not really because of the things you lose grip on.

Hardwick is a workaholic and writes how he feels that as a foreigner he has tried to be accepted by doing for instance tv fiction he does not believe in. By being a good boy, not refusing of working but by being humble and grateful for having the chance to work. Rather Lutheran, I would say. Is that succesful integration?

The novel is worth reading. Hardwick is ironic and extremely moving at the same time. It was a great move to read about taking it a bit slower when you are supposed to take it a bit slower.