Friday, July 31, 2009

More stupidnomics

Yet more evidence of the Finnish grocery market not really seeming to get market principles (for earlier stupidnomics see here):

Buy a bottle of Upcider for EUR 2.12 - a unit price of EUR 3.84 a litre; or...

Buy a four pack of Upcider for EUR 8.49 - a unit price of 3.85 a litre. So that's a bargain isn't it?

On second thoughts, don't buy any upcider at all because it has a nasty, sticky, synthetic flavour and basically tastes like crap.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sweden - pretty pics and odd impressions

Last year I wondered whether unfashionable people were banned from Stockholm, but having now travelled up Sweden I think it is actually overweight people who are not allowed, at least in the trendy downtown parts. The difference up country is noticable - so that is my first 'things I've never thought about Sweden' - 1) there are quite a few tubby folk around. We've mainly been staying on camp sites, so my sample could be skewed towards Swedes who camp, but I can't think of any particular reason why campers might be more likely to be overweight than the average member of society. Swedes give such a good impression internationally of being healthy, fit and out-doorsy, but I swear there are more tubsters here than in Finland although it is not as bad as the UK, let alone the US.

And then my second 'things I've never thought about Sweden' - 2) Swedish cafés are really crappy. I have moaned about Finnish roadside food in the past, but at least there is always a decent selection of big, sweet buns, donuts and cakes along with hot, rough and ready coffee. Here all the coffee seems to be in thermos flasks so is not really hot and the cakes and buns a bit sad looking. This isn't true of all the cafés we've been in to, but as we're on holiday we have been in quite a few and the average of the sample is definitely below that of Finnish cafés, be they humble petrol station ones or something posher. So score one for the Finns!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gone fishing...

In the wilds of northern Scandinavia. With wireless. Figures.

Normal - intermittent - service will resume once I have returned to the the (limited) civilisation of Helsinki.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Global no-mayhem fashion

It's our old friends the black fingerless gloves again, being worn by yet more dudes who could really spoil your day in just so many ways. But these dudes are on the side of law 'n' order, their law and their order of course.

Photo *ahem* 'borrowed' from the Telegraph.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dumb Helsinki cycle paths #5

I think this one, from Pasila - a bit north of downtown Helsinki, is pretty bloody self explanatory. As they haven't repainted the pedestrian/cyclist division line for some years, I've added it to the photo.

British humour on Finnish posters?

The posters have gone up for "Brüno - the movie" in Helsinki. I read on Twitter yesterday that my favourite movie reviewer, Dr. Kermode, is refusing to see it on the basis of the poster alone. I'm not sure if it is the same one as this, but probably as I can see his point. Anyways; I was just wondering about the cultural resonance of "Achtung!" in Finland. Finns seems to get British humour very well - for older Finns when they say the British and Finnish sense of humour is very similar they normally base this on one thing: Benny Hill. Looking at some classic Finnish comedy movies, I can kind of see how they would get to that conclusion. But many younger Finns seems to greatly enjoy what I think of as British humour - be that Peep Show, The Office, League of Gentlemen, Smack the Pony, or The Thick Of It - all of which have been or currently are on Finnish TV, along with older classics from Black Adder to Monty Python.

But doesn't the "Achtung!" on the Brüno poster rely on British comics and war movies of the 70s and earlier for its comic value? For Brits of at least my (and Baron-Cohen's) age, if not younger, the word "Achtung" can only be followed with one other, and that is "Spitfire" - U2's best efforts not withstanding. Finns have their own war comics that still seem to be selling well today (and that could be the subject of a whole other post...), but I don't thinks the baddies in them would be yelling "Achtung Spitfire!".

Perhaps Brüno is reclaiming the comedy value of "Achtung!" in this Europeanised era for the whole of the continent? Brüno, we salute you - a potential contender for European of the year perhaps.

Low profile

I'm PhD wrestling currently. I've nearly killed it, but it refuses to lie down and go quietly. Please excuse the lack of much posting currently. Normal wittertainment will be resumed shortly I hope.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Violence against refugees in Finland

Today saw the second headline in two weeks about an attack on asylums seekers at a hostel in Finland. Two weeks ago someone threw some sort of bomb at a Red Cross hostel for refugees in SW Finland, fortunately with no injuries. Yesterday, men armed with knives attacked a refugee inside a reception centre in northern Finland, and another refugee was thrown in a nearby lake. The national broadcaster YLE has come up with the quite incredible headline this evening of:
Authorities Unalarmed by Reception Centre Violence
One wonders what would have to happen to alarm them? Is people making bombs and throwing them at occupied buildings not alarming? YLE also reports the authorities saying - as if it was a good thing - that no known "organised hate groups" have been linked to the attacks in northern Finland. If a known group was involved, they could be arrested and charged. If no known group is involved it means that locals are actually organising racist violence themselves, in places where that kind of activity didn't exist before. I'm not sure if that can really be seen as a good thing. The move towards committing politically/ideologically motivated violence has over recent years become known as "radicalisation" - and is generally considered pretty frigging alarming when it is being done by young, brown, Muslim men. Understanding what factors lead to that radicalisation has become a central political and academic question across Europe since 9/11. The same questions should be asked in these case as well.

Finland is not facing any particularly big issues over immigration; no more than anywhere else in Europe, and actually a lot less than most. Yet still some wish to make political capital out of attacking asylum seekers, whilst national policy makers (probably with the best intentions if not much forethought), tell Finns that immigrants are a security risk. Perhaps the knife wielders of Kemi and bombthrowers of Suomusjärvi think they are defending something. I'm an immigrant and I'm not a security risk. I am pretty angry though.


I was testing last night whether it is possible to ride rocky single track onehanded whilst holding a camera with the other. Answer? No. This poor attempt at film making was shot around Petas in Vantaa, on the delightfully named Tyttömäki or 'girl hill'.

On the other hand I got the gears running really smooth on my mountain bike. No more chain getting dumped off the top of the block or off the front chain rings, and minimal chain suck compared to riding at the weekend. If it was stiff link, its must have worked itself loose again. Sometimes I think working in bike shop would have been a much better career choice for me.