Monday, 1 October 2018

FEAR: Bob Woodward's new Tell-all book about life in TURMP's fucking* CRAZYTOWN

When Donald Trump royally chews out his economic adviser, Gary Cohn**, Cohn offers his letter of resignation. T ignores it. Later John Kelly, White House chief of staff tells Cohn, 'If that was me I'd have taken that letter and shoved it six different ways up his ass.' Kelly also called Trump an idiot (I think he actually said 'fucking idiot'). His ex-Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, called T a fucking moron. Anyone who has access to media knows that Donald Trump is a fucking disaster. 

A cute kitten (Image: Ty Swartz / Pixabay)
What makes Woodward's book stand out from the rest of the tell-alls, is his access to the top players, his meticulous research and his methods. And he has clout. Insists that interviews are 'on-the-record' and taped - evidence in case he needs it. In the Financial Times Weekend review, 'Inside the devil's Workshop', Trump comes off badly. No surprise. But the shocker is, so does Robert Mueller, the special counsel. No explanation.  I read the line three times and got depressed. Mueller is our knight in shining armor. Our great hope that Trump gets trounced. 

Lots of people close to the president spilled their guts. Some of them denied it. John Kelly, said, 'Bullshit'. Steve Bannon, T's ex-strategist, blabbed big-time, calling Ivanka Trump a 'fucking staffer'.  She shot back, 'I am not a fucking staffer, I'm the First Daughter.' They swear a lot in Crazytown (John Kelly's name for the White House). Two of the biggest, and most important contributors were John Dowd, T's personal lawyer for years and the horse-whipped, Gary Cohn. Dowd talked for hours and hours. Guess it was some kind of catharsis. So did Cohn. I read that when T had his first staff meeting in the  White House, he said he wanted every day to be like a reality TV show. A promise he kept. The kicker is, Trump loves it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. He doesn't give a shit. 'Just PLEASE fucking talk about King ME.'

* Fucking: read in the health section of the New York Times that swearing is good for you. It hasn't seemed to help the Trump administration. But might keep the White House staff from going bonkers.

** Gary Cohn resigned on April 2, 2018.  

Source: Financial Times Weekend, the net

LittlemargieBLOG is on the road in October. Back November 1.

Note: Well, this time i do not have much to add. The next elections are really important, in the US and also here in Finland. Vote, people!

...and enjoy the kitten pic. Trumps looking at Trump's face.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

What EKI did last summer

Meadow Spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius)

For most of the year, Eki sits at his supercomputer and edits. Or he goes out on a shoot. But for two weeks in July, he works in the HALKKA family business: TVÄRMINNE – seven islands in the Finnish archipelago where his parents started their research around the time he was born, late 1960's. As soon as he could walk and begin to comprehend what was going on Eki joined in. Today he mostly takes care of the boat, collects insects and helps document. His brother Antti's whole family and his sister Sara work there too. When we were shooting 'El gaucho de Högsåra' he showed me the SPITTLEBUGS his dad Olli and mom Liisa were researching. It was the size of a small dot. For someone who jumps from job to job and project to project I thought, how was it possible to work on the same small insect year in, year out.

The crew gets up early and starts collecting insects. As many as 3000 a day. I saw a video of them working. Someone was swinging a white bag on a long stick back and forth.  You have to be dedicated to do that for many hours. Especially on a hot day when it stays light till late. His dad had a plastic tube holding a bunch of bugs and was dictating to someone who wrote down the info.

Eki has done helicopter shots of each island so the researchers can see the changes in the meadows. His mother also did a study of shrews in Eastern and Western Finland. And found they had a significantly different genome. The edge of the ice-age glacier can still be seen in the shrew's biology.

Scientists must be frustrated that more action isn't being taken by governments around the world regarding climate change. Eki says, as far as he knows the planet is in its 6th mass extinction. And this year the spittlebug population was smaller than last year. The US has gone backward since Donald Trump was elected. He not only took the US out of the Paris Climate Accords (the only country in the world to do so)   but appointed a climate change denier as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has cut regulations put in place by President Obama. I heard (on the internet, so the info should be checked), that 1,600 scientists and other personnel have quit the EPA. Climate change news is bleak and the future looks bleaker. But the Halkka family go back to Tvärminne year after year. Now a third generation has joined the family business.

Sources: Eki, the net

Next week: FEAR: BOB WOODWARD's tell-all book should scare everyone who cares about international order

Note: We currently still study seven islands at Tvärminne Zoological Station each year, but that used to be many more. Only the core islands remain in the long-term follow-up study.

The video Maggy saw was from 2007. Since then, my dad who led the study has passed away, and my brother Antti has taken over the helm. My mother still has a big role too, i'd say she's still the co-captain of the ship. Also, Kaisa Roukka, my dad's spouse since my parents divorced in the 80's, still helps on the study too - and over the years, especially early on, there have been many others.

The Finnish archipelago has been in a constant state of change for thousands of years. During the ice age, there was a huge mass of the glacier pushing down on the ground, and we're still bouncing back from that. In the Baltic sea, the land has risen about half a meter per century since the ice age. So, the water level is now about 25 cm lower than when we started 50 years ago. The meadows, especially those that are low on the shores of the islands, were much younger back then, just been revealed from under the sea in the previous decades. Those meadows have matured during the course of our study - on some of them, there's not much of a meadow anymore - trees have grown, they have almost become young forests rather than meadows.

Due to climate change and the global rise in ocean levels, this glacier-caused land rise effect is about to be canceled, and the sea rise will start to win by the end of this century.

The health of the Baltic ocean has varied a lot over the years. Sometimes the water is clear and rich on oxygen, you can see the bottom many meters deep. In other times (like this year), it's like green porridge due to blooming algae. The algae are the result of hot weather, nutrient-rich wastewater from agriculture, combined with a lack of salt water influx pulses from the Danish strait lately.

Attributing this change to human vs. natural is hard, and so is telling whether there's a robust trend in the quality, or if it's just natural fluctuation. Likely both.

And to get back to the spittlebugs, the small catch this year was the result of unusually dry and warm weather - which also is a part of natural variation as well as an overall trend. The yearly variation is huge, and this year was a harsh year for the spittlebugs, populations were very small, but they are going to bounce back again for sure. If not next year, the year after that. The 6th mass extinction has not reached our islands yet.


Tuesday, 11 September 2018


donaldDONALD (2018)
A bombshell hit the White House. A WH staff member, or maybe a group, wrote an anonymous op-ed piece in the NEW YORK TIMES, reads like a John Le Carre thriller, about how they worked to keep this crazy president in check. Anyone who has watched Trump ranting at one of his rallies will know how 'out-to-lunch' this guy is. And how dangerous. The op-ed piece, for the first time that I can remember, was read out loud on CNN. It was chilling.

The Republicans have been either mesmerized or cowed, by Trump's bombast and threats. And they are in power. The mid-terms coming up in November might change the dynamics. But it's not certain. The Democrats aren't all that organized and have no knock-out leader. John McCain, one of the last of the old and principled guard, cast his last vote from the grave. The president was not invited to his funeral. He sulked and tweeted on the golf course.

Eki says T will get impeached. I hope to hell he's right. But what really is scary is how watchable, readable and engrossing this drama is. I'm glued to my mac. When laptop needed an update and was gone for 24 hours, I was chewing my nails and drank too much wine. Was on the phone with my US pals for NEWS and updates. No detail was too small or insignificant for a major discussion. We don't know the end of this Shakespearean saga. But we do know it's never happened before in US history. Let's hope it ends like one of Shakespeare's comedies. Then we can all clap instead of cry.

Sources: CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Financial Times, New York Times

PS: JASPER PAKKONEN was better in part as white supremacist supreme than Spike Lee's 'Black Klansman' I hope we see more of him in American movies. But Lee muddled up a good story (in the middle) with a message-y prologue and epilogue.

Next week: What EKI did last summer

Note: Not much to add to that. Wild times ;-)


Thursday, 30 August 2018


Ploggerbear (Photo: pixabay / npapaioannou)
PLOGGING (plucking trash while jogging) came first. Conceived in Scandinavia by Erik Ahlstrom, a Swede.  He had the bright idea to give bags and gloves to runners so they could collect trash along their routes.  Now plogging has a life of its own and has spread around the world. The concept is so simple, it's no surprise that it's one of the hottest sports trends of 2018. Races are organized with double goals: run the fastest and pick up the most trash. Doable and fun. All sorts of hair-brained ideas are floating around the internet to solve the garbage disposal. One eco-group wants to use the trash clogging up the oceans to make a habitable island. When I told Erkki I found research that stated by 2050 plastic will outnumber the creatures who call the sea their home, most of it from land-based sources, he said, 'No way'. Unless a lot of them die out. What trash needs is low-key practical solutions like PLOGGING or...(see below)...

TRACTIVIST  (trash-activist) is anybody who walks and picks up trash along the way. I got into it by accident after a heavy wine lunch and walked to the little park by the river to si it off. The place was a mess. Someone had unpacked flat-box furniture cartons  (IKEA?) and left them all over the place. I folded the boxes and stashed them by the trash bin, And came back in the afternoon armed with gloves and a bag to finished the job. It felt good and was fun. Bystanders sitting on benches were curious. A few came over to find out what I was doing. Now I pester my pals to PICKupTRASH. They seem to like the idea.

Cleaning up the outdoors gives outings purpose and improves the scenery. Big companies, such as Amazon, Ikea am other big-time trash producers should get in the act. So should tech titans,  (Mark Zuckerberg, Egon Musk, Tim Cook. Jeff Bezos). God knows, cities, countries, the planet needs volunteer army to pitch in to pick up (and dispose of in an eco-friendly way) the crap we humans casually pitch out. The most efficient garbage collection service can't keep up. Trash collectors are unsung, virtually unseen heroes of our time. Just go to any city where they're on strike to find out what life is like without them.  They need help. Ploggers are doing it. Now how about the rest of US?

Sources: Sharon Pettus, the net, personal experience

Next week: JASPER PAKKONEN in  Spike Lee's hot new movie BLAKCK KLANSMAN

Note: I think i found the source for the more plastic than fish claim, this article:

The article links to the source report, i haven't read it yet so cannot comment how robust the findings are...

- Eki

Thursday, 21 June 2018

The OBAMAS' 250,000M Netflix gig: new POWER BASE?

Obama's coming to town.

When the Obamas signed up with  Netflix for a wad of doe, my pals in the US and I bad-mouthed the couple for cashing in. The SHARK had a  different idea. She thought they might be setting themselves up for a new political base. They are both smart and must know that the Democratic party needs help. Hillary is a spent force. She can't stop blaming others for her loss. And Bill C. ain't much help. While touting his new book, The President is Missing (co-author James Patterson), he bungled questions about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.  And finally walked out.

The Obamas are the only Democratic Big Names who have the clout and the popularity, at least for now, to be de-facto leaders of the party. But the pompous, above-it-all name of their new production company, 'Higher Ground' is a wimpy first shot. Trump's vulgar, in-your-face, down-and-dirty bully-tactics are gaining. And now he's pulled off the ultimate media coup: hugging up to the world's Dictator-in-chief, who promises (word-of-honor), to de-nuclearize. Trump's famous takeaway from the tryst: ''I trust Kim'. But that just a throwaway. Only one rule counts: Dominate the media. King ME*. 

Still, the Shark may be on to something. The Obamas have been quiet since exiting office in 2017.  But they stayed in Washington D.C., unusual for an ex-pres.  The Netflix gig gives them a huge communication network. And it sounds like they have carte blanche to do what they want. Maybe a Dem version of Fox & Fiends? Amazon's founder and owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos (on Trump's enemies list), is building a house in the same poshWash D. C. neighborhood as the Obamas.

Netflix, the liberal Post and the liberal New York Times* (both newspapers are good at sniffing outTrump & Co. skullduggery) would make a powerhouse backup trio for the Obamas. The 2018  midterm election should have been a slam-dunk for the Dems to win a majority, at least in the house. With less than five months till the voting day the Republicans, now known as the Trump party, are creeping up in the polls. Eki didn't think T would last out his term. I'm afraid he's on his way to a second. Unless the cavalry, led by Bobby Three Sticks (Robert Mueller III) rides to the rescue. Or the Obamas pull a rabbit out a hat.

*King ME: in case you missed last week's TIME magazine, the cover was a hoot. Trump looking in the mirror at himself in a royal robe and crown.

*New York Times: 'Fourth Estate', a four-part series about a year covering President Trump. Directed b Liz Garbus.   Produced by Showtime. Airing on the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

Sources: the Shark, CNN, Time Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post

PS: Eki and Riikka are celebrating a century 50/50. Cheers!

Littlemrgieblog will be on vacation until 15 August 2018

Notes: The idea of Obamas producing content sounds interesting. As a Netflix subscriber, i'll definitely give the shows a watch.

 I haven't seen that original Clinton interview, but i did see his comments on the Late Night show - which don't seem that unreasonable to me.

I still do not think Trump will last the first term. He will be impeached, if not else, as soon as the Dems get the majority - which might well happen in the midterms. He may also get jailed if the Mueller investigation's results are what i suspect them to be. There's already a lot in that front the investigation has accomplished (Trump's campaign manager already in prison and so on), and more is to come. Interesting times.

Oh, and as The Shark told you, Obama will come to Finland soon, to give a talk on a business forum.

Finally, thanks for the Cheers - it's actually a 110 party: 50+50 for our ages, and +10 extra years for the length of our wedlock so far. If stars align correctly, we will actually hold the party on our anniversary day.

- Eki

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Drowning in the YOUTBE ocean

When we finished 'ABE LINCON TWEETS' we watched it over and over. Then Eki did what he always does: posted it on YOUTUBE. And I said what I always say, 'Maybe this one will go viral'. Eki poked a hole in my balloon. 'If it does, it has to do it in the first thirty minutes.'  It didn't. What a contrast. Abe's common sense is like a cool glass of cool water on a blisteringly hot day. Compared to the Tweeter-in-chief.  Abe was cool under fire, in spite of having a crazy wife, scheming advisers and a war that cost more than 600,000 lives.

I visit ABE LINCOLN a lot. Sometimes to watch the video, but mostly to check the number of hits he's got: 110 by the last count, with one 'like' ('by contrast 'Abe Lincoln Mean Tweet' has 43,944).  With most of our videos we post them and go on to the next project. But I can't stop checking up on Abe. Youtube keeps track of my visits and tells me 'you've visited this page many times'. They note the last date. It's creepy. But Googles over-the-top 'Do No Evil' reassures me. Sort of.

I wonder what the percentage is of trash to good stuff in the YOUTUBE ocean. If it's anything like the rest of the oceans it is full of junk mixed up with some gems and treasure. If your brain is fried from junk- overload checkout what @abelincolnsez. And no matter how much google tracks me, I will keep visiting ABE. He 's like a well-worn, highly-polished pair of boots handed down from your grandfather.  Versus TRUMP, who claims to be the greatest president after Lincoln is the crystal-covered-plastic CROCS that were the shock-rage a couple of years back. The new hot must-have shoe is the ugly ZCOL.  Batten down the hatches, it could mean rough seas ahead.

News, views, boos
Next week: The OBAMAS' new gig: NETFLIX

Note to Eki: Well you were half right. But that other half...Thanks for the quick retraction so readers won't think I'm a complete idiot.

Note: Well, perhaps not in the first thirty minutes... but in a day or so perhaps. There's just SO much stuff that gets uploaded there. Some say, an hour's worth of new videos every second. If the thing does not catch attention right away, changes are, it never will. It's very cool that everyone has a worldwide platform for publishing video content now, free to use. The problem is just that everyone will thus compete with everyone else in the world for the 15 minutes of fame there. You indeed are more likely to drown than float in this ocean of media. It's a lottery of sorts. Your video is just one in billions (yes, literally), and every hit you get is a win.

- Eki

Saturday, 26 May 2018

HELSINKI: what's HOT, what's NOT

Helsinki today. Literally. (at the time of publishing this)

Getting there VS Getting on

HOT The city's fantastic network of buses, trams, and metros take you practically anywhere you want to go. They are clean, safe and efficient. I love Helsinki, especially in summer. Not only for its famous architecture, but because it's easy to visit the city's museums, restaurants, small boutiques, and just bum around. But wonder how they'll cope with the new ticketing system this summer(see below).

NOT Conductors will kick you off the tram or bus without a ticket. You have to have a 'pay' app in your smartphone or buy a ticket from R-Kioski, or some other place, before you board. A 17 ride card will set you back 30 euros. It will be a tourist nightmare this summer unless the city hires kids to sell tickets around town. And I wonder how many riders try to beat the system. The machines are so hard to use, they all have to be changed. Why can't the conductor sell few tickets? Human to human contact is good for people.

Talking VS Texting

HOT: LUNGI on Korkeavuorenkatu is a great place to hang out. A big leather couch and chairs in the window are an invitation to come in have a drink or something to eat and meet people. It's one of my go-to places in the city. I was having a glass of wine when a guy walked in with a cute dog under his arm. I asked him what breed it was. We talked a while and he asked If I wanted to have another glass of wine. His friend joined us. It was fun to meet a couple of Finnish guys spontaneously. Lungi is that kind of place.

NOT: In pre-texting days waiting to board a plane, or to pass the time in the air, you talked to strangers. Sometimes you even fell in love - I met my husband on a train between Nice and Paris. The Shark gave us the idea to make a cell phone video gottaGETinTOUCH. I shot people with their phone in four countries, on and off, for a year. After that, I went cold turkey. Now I read going cell phone-less is the new status symbol. User alert: your body and brain might freak out. Worse. You might miss the love of your life.

Authentic VS Trendy NOT

HOT Strindberg: This restaurant feels like it's been operating (with updates) since Gustav III. I never look at the menu. I always order the meatballs, they're the best in Helsinki. Lunch with a pal usually lasts till four, sometimes five or six o'clock. When we call it a day with a glass of champagne. Elegant without being stuffy, (green and white gingham tablecloths, wide, old wooden plank floors) or too serious. The menu is predictable. And I know that meatballs will always on it. The service is terrific but not fussy. Reservations essential.

NOT Le Brasserie Basque is one of those impossible-to-get-a-reservation in-places. But that's where the Bes and Wannabes wanna be. We did too. My sister-in-law finally landed a time: 7:30 – 9:30 on a Wednesday (there are three sittings starting at 5:30). It was empty when we arrived but filled up quickly. The music was loud and so was the crowd. The service slow and the food so-so (the polenta citron looked like a bowl of morning porridge). The main course (cod) was good but minuscule. We were running late and asked the owner if we could stay a little longer. He gave us 15 extra minutes. The 9:30 to 11:30 gang was waiting to be seated.

Nice surprise VS BIG disappointment

HOT Maxim cinema finally opened after what seemed like a forever renovation. Always upscale it has kicked it up a notch. On the second floor is a small bar with drinks and snacks. But it's the big comfortable individual chairs with attached tables that tell you this is the next best thing to having your own private screening room. The Shark and I saw a double feature: like being kids again. Only better. Instead of popcorn, we had wine with our movies.

NOT Academic Bookstore was not only a national treasure, it was one of the best bookstores in Europe. The first place my husband took me when I came to Finland. It made most bookstores look like amateur hour. Jut the books in English and the choice of magazines and newspapers made me want live there. And in an Alvar Aalto building to boot. When they installed Cafe Aalto the whole set-up was perfect. It still looks about the same, except a Starbucks is where the newspapers and magazines use to be. When I asked for two books: Umberto Eco's Chronicle of a Liquid Society and Phillip Pullman's Daemons Voice they come up empty. It made me sad for the good old days. And when I talk to friends about the Academic bookstore, it's like someone close to us has died. Amazon here I come. But not willingly.

Source: personal perspective

news, views, boos

Next week: DAY of the DEAD by l. Ron Chappell: big admiration spiked with a bit of envy

NOTE!! Ahhem... you didn't come to think of the obvious did ya? Like, buy tickets from the driver?? Because you can, you know, both on buses and trams ;-)

You are probably thinking about the trains. They got rid of conductors on the short commute train routes where the city area bus tickets are valid, and you indeed need to buy the ticket beforehand. The same goes for the Metro, you need to have a ticket before entering the station. But, as said, not buses or trams, which also haven't had conductors, well, ever. They did have separate cashiers though, but that was many decades ago.

PS: Maggy, i guess you recognize the bike in the photo? Yes, i'm still using it. Thank you!


Hey, you have to add something to the blog:  I DID GET KICKED OFF THE TRAM. The driver told me I had to go to an RKIOSKI.  It happened twice. The last time because my 30 euro ticket ran out. True Story.

- Maggy

Sounds to me like like a communications failure. Yes, you need to go to the R-kioski (which can be found almost everywhere), if you want to have more credit/time on your travel card, the driver can't do that. BUT he/she could have sold you a single ticket for that one ride. 

EDIT: I checked, and dang, you are right!! They stopped selling tickets on trams in February. Bus drivers still sell them though.

All this said, i highly recommend the phone app for the occasional traveler - that's what i use too. If you have your phone, you have a ticket.