Monday, 20 January 2020


Julia Hertell thinks climate change is the most hot-button issue of our time. So does her husband. When they got married they started right off by asking their wedding guests to bring presents that were old. They decided to only have two children. Thought about adopting, but decided they were too old. The couple doesn’t own a car, instead, they use electric bikes with big boxes to transport their kids, take public transport and car-share. Julia gave up flying for one year, except for two business trips.

Their apartment is furnished with lots of old and used things. The family's diet is mostly vegan. For the girl's birthday parties, they ask the parents to chip in 3 to 5 euros each and buy only one present. Their friends love the idea and have copied it. Gifts to family and friends are concert tickets, vouchers for spas, organic food. They use old-school cleaning products: soda, black or linseed soap, bio-detergent for the dishwasher and the washing machine. They buy clothes made of natural fiber. Avoid plastics. They don't have a dryer (emits more carbon dioxide than air conditioning). Their frig is small, with a top freezer.

Julia and Samuli are architects. They try to include energy efficiency in their work. When Julia designed her father’s house* in Hanko, her goals were to make it beautiful, functional and eco-friendly. The house is built on a rocky site. It's heated and cooled thermally – two drill holes, 230 m into the rock, do the trick. The wine cellar isn't heated or cooled. It takes energy from the surrounding rock and is the same temperature year around. Julia says the energy efficiency regulations for insulation are geared to keep the heat in. The 450 mm insulation in the walls and roof is too thick. The house is warm in winter, but it can get hot in the summer. Open windows and a sea breeze make it comfortable.  Julia and Samuli are not alone in their efforts to lower their imprint on the climate. Millennials, especially, are on board. They know that for their future and their children's future, it's imperative to cut their CARBON FOOTPRINT. But we better all pitch in to avert ‘a climate apocalypse’**.

* Joni Hertell’s house was featured in a Danish TV program.

**Greta Thunberg. (Time magazine Person of the Year). She and Donald Trump get star billing at the World Economic Forum in Davos the week of January 20. The theme is climate change:  Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.

Source: Julia Hertell

Next week: Eki & I have a BET: who will the DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE?


When it comes to climate change, individual choices matter. Even tiny changes create a huge impact when we multiply the individual choices by the eight billion or so humans on the planet. Larger changes, like reducing meat consumption, limiting unnecessary travel, and most importantly, having fewer kids make much bigger an impact. Doing all this is applaudable.

Yet it's not enough. Not by a long shot.

The thing is, we really need to get to zero emissions in the long run, sooner the better. That means structural changes in the society and the near-complete elimination of fossil fuel use. And this cannot be done on the level of individual humans, not even on the level of individual countries.

The prisoner's dilemma from game theory
** forbids this. Making choices that would be best for everyone can be disadvantageous to an individual unless everyone cooperates. And in this case, this means everyone on the scale of our planet.

So, international treaties are the way to go - cooperation on a global scale.

The mere idea of this world-scale regulation, as well as the lost profits, are poison to some. They are powerful, well funded and prepared to do anything to stop global regulations from happening. And i think it's a crime.

I would not be surprised to see something like the tobacco trials waged against the most powerful climate denialists in the future. Or, even Nüremberg-like trials. They are committing their crimes against humanity after all.




Saturday, 4 January 2020


"Showdown" © Little Margie Productions 2019.

The  2020 US presidential election will make Cage Fighters look like toddlers in a playpen - Trump digs Down & Dirty.  The dirtier the better. And he might win*.  The Dem lineup looks limp. We need a Captain America to beat the pants off this Joker.  Or four more years of a wannabe dictator. Trend-trackers say the liberal democratic system has taken a hit: Trump's rule is a text-book example.

The news from Finland is more upbeat. The Shark tells me that the young (34), smart, glamor-girl Prime Minister, SANNA MARIN, has the whole country tuned in to politics. Eki said he's happy with the fresh wind that blew into parliament. The fake-named 'True Finns' party is the biggest, but other parties, all headed by women, out-gun the TFs.  Sanna Marin got worldwide attention when she was elected. A terrific image for the country.  Now we'll get to find out how this matriarchal government preforms.

The media, legit and fake, especially in the US, are giddy with glee about 2020. They see a banner year for scandal and skullduggery. The New York Times and the Washington Post have had big subscription jumps. Reporters, commentators, bloggers, media-rats have had a blast bashing Trump, or pumping him up. Littlemargieproductions got into the act. Eki and I made three VOTE 2020 videos***. 'SHOWDOWN' stars Trump. The reaction has been love it or hate it. Anti-Trumpers send fanmails. Pro-Trumpers aren't talking to me. Eki has set me off in a new direction.  Our next VOTE video has the working title: 'HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN'. Let's hope.

* Battleground states Trump won in 2016 that clinched his election. Even though Hillary Clinton got almost 3 million more votes. The Electoral College ain't fair, but it's the US system until Americans go to bat to change it, so that every vote counts.

Must win states: Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, No. Carolina

** FOX  News, Tump's right-wing propaganda outlet has the most viewers (apprx. 2.3 million in Dec 2019). One bright Fox-spot: commentator, Chris Wallace, who has the nerve  and intelligence to ask tough non-partisan questions.

*** VOTE videos: ABE LINCOLN Tweets, WE NEED YOU 2020, SHOWDOWN 2020

Sources: New York Times. Washington Post, internet, the Shark, Eki

Next week: JULIA HERTELLL & SAMULI WOOLSTON: how a Finnish family cuts their CARBON FOOTPRINT

Note: When it comes to US elections and Dems, both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are good candidates - old, sure, but not senile, like the front runner candidate seems to be. They would also beat Trump quite easily, i think. Despite being touted to be too far left, their policies are actually supported by the majority of Americans. And of course, from the North-European point of view, they are more centrists than leftists - the US perceived center is our right-wing ;-)

Well, not really. 

We unfortunately do have alt-right wackos too, and right now they do well in polls. Sanna Marin's party, the Social Democrats, is the largest party in the parliament.
But the True Finns do lead the polls right now. Which is horrible.

Oh, I think i explained the situation badly to Maggy, so to re-iterate: currently True Finns are *NOT* the biggest in parliament, the Social Democratic Party is.

But as said, the "wannabe-nazis" raise their ugly heads in current politics, and their 
favorite party has a large support in polls.

Luckily, there's over 3 years to the next election, and their bubble will likely burst before that. I do not believe that almost a quarter of Finns would really support their racistic, xenophobic, misogynic and anti-science policies. I'd say the success in polls largely stems from people falling for the easy populist rhetoric, without actually understanding who the party they say they root for actually stands for.

That's going to change, the information will get out. So far, the True-Finns have gotten off easily, as they have been perceived as a fringe movement. With this kind of poll success, that will not fly anymore. They will be challenged, they will be exposed for what they are.

One interesting side note - as the alt-right-wing's noise has become frequent, loud and annoying enough, it seems that the population at large has gotten enough of it, and is now finally standing up against them, or at least contemplating it. 

Even the current Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö highlighted the issue on his New Year's address to the nation. And he's as conservative and bland as a Finn can get, no strong opinions about anything really.

Also, there's a brand new Baltic Herring Movement, which is an anti-racist, pro-science non-partisan movement to fight against the alt-right fringe's nonsense. The members try to keep gates on the flood of trash talk from the right fringe that has poisoned the online discussions, and also do peaceful demonstrations etc. In just two days, the Herrings Facebook group grew to over 20 000 people. That is a lot in a small country like ours.

I said to Maggy that this time i will not have the time to write an essay for a comment... well, i wonder how long my comments will be on the day that i do ;-)

- Eki

Friday, 22 November 2019

OODI* we love you: Helsinki's LIBRARY 2.0

Oodi, Odi, Ode - Photo by Kuvio

Hitchcock's 'The 39 Steps' was playing at OODI. It would the first time I'd see it on the Big Screen And my first visit to the most talked-about  building in Helsinki. The exterior wowed right off the bat with its bold, casual, 'come-on-in' attitude. We went to the cafe on the main floor, bought a glass of wine and looked around. For people of a certain age, like me, it was the 'shock of the new'. No Books**(on the 3rd floor). For kids, especially the 2nd floor, with its high tech 3D printers, power tools, music-making equipment, and more, it must be hog-heaven. OODI is no ordinary library.

Eki and I worked on a proposal to make a doc about the library and ALA – the architects who won the competition. I went to their office and met the young partners: Juha Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Samuli Woolston.  It was the kind of place you wanted to plunk yourself down and go to work. Like OODI, it was casual, chic, functional, friendly and international. YLE turned it down. They said the library would get so much attention they didn't need to commission a doc. They were right.  OODI was named the best library in the world. And best new building in Finland.  ALA is on a roll. They keep 51 architects busy. Their commissions include the University library in Lyon, France and the new entrance terminal at Helsinki's airport. When I asked Samuli what he thought clinched the deal for ALA to win the competition, he said the judges were impressed that they had got so much into just three floors.

A part of the city's 2.3 million book collection changes every thee months. It's so popular they sometimes run out of stock. The second floor is where you make and do stuff. The main floor has the cinema, a concert hall (the night we were there they had a jam-packed rock concert), a cafe-restaurant and faces a plaza with a direct view of the Parliament. Commissioned by the city to celebrate 100 years of Finnish independence (06.12/1917 – 06/12/2017), you couldn't find a better symbol of freedom. Let's all drink to that. Kippis. Skol. Cheers.

*OODI (F), ODI (S), ODE (E)

Sources: ALA, New York Times, internet, internet, Joni Hertell, Robert Pettus, personal experience

Next week: Greta Thunberg: Climate Change JOAN of ARC, or just a kid with an idee fixe?

Edit: Not much to add here - i have only been at Ode once, attending a lecture on drones and upcoming new regulations on flying them. They have a nice auditorium (actually, more than one, AFAIK), but one thing remains even with brand new facilities: the AV system never works. In this case, they had a hard time playing back videos with sound and full resolution. Perhaps it was just a fluke that can be attributed to the place being new, but still... it's funny how these things never just work. There's always some issues, even at best of places, it seems ;-)



Friday, 8 November 2019

'and the winner is.....PUTIN'

You never know who's inside... ***

PUTIN is sittin' pretty. The US and Great Britain, those two paragons of democracy, are in chaos. Putin can't quite get his head around his good luck. He knew Trump was a chump, now Boris Johnson, leader of the Brexit mess, has turned out to be a mini-T. Making it happen was was so simple. It almost took the fun out of the game.  Messing in the 2016 American election was easy-peasy. Brexit was a breeze. And look how it paid off. Great Britain is in turmoil. And Trump's famous logo should be: MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN.

Imagine, in the US, a Purple Heart hero (wounded in Iraq), who testified in the Impeachment inquiry*, is trashed by some Rep Trump-cult-ers. They said he was unpatriotic, and maybe a spy (Lt.Col. Alexander Vindman) While the Commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, says his Viet Nam was avoiding STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). The Trump is a gusher that keeps spewing out black-gold for Putin.

In GB, Brexiter Boris Johnson has called for an early election. There's a good chance he'll win a majority and create more havoc. With the line-up of Dem presidential candidates  – not a rock star in the bunch – T has a good chance to win in 2020. And make more big mischief. But a small black cloud hangs over Putin's rosy world. He's done such a bang-up job screwing the enemies, those oligarchs who pull Putin's strings will make him hang in there. Much more fun to hang out at his posh digs in Biarritz, spend his laundered billions, guzzle ice-cold Billionaire vodka (7.25 million a bottle) and make the scene with...

*Eki bet me 100 euros that there would be an impeachment trial. I lost. He also bet 100 euros that Trump would be impeached. I hope he wins that one too.

*** The cover image is Vladimir as the chestburster alien from "Spaceballs" by Mel Brooks (1987), which itself was a homage to chestburster alien from "Alien" by Ridley Scott (1979). Meta-meta-meta level visual commentary, eh?

Sources: Washington Post, CNN, BBC, speculation

Next week: OODI we love you: Helsinki's library 2.0


I'm not into conspiracy theories. If I were to change my mind, this would be a perfect place to start. Because to an outside observer, what Trump does in the US, what Boris does in the GB, and what the True Finns Party does here in Finland (and it's ilk elsewhere in Europe) is pretty much indistinguishable from what Russian spies would do if they were put in the position of power in western countries. 

In all three, there's also some pretty credible evidence of actual collaboration with the Russians. 

In Trump's case, the Mueller report did not find him guilty of criminal conspiracy or coordination, but did not exonerate him either. He might be innocent, or he might have colluded below the criminal threshold, but it also might just be that his obstruction of justice was successful at hiding a crime. Regardless, his conduct has been above and beyond anything Putin could have reasonably hoped: he's weakened NATO, weakened the international cooperation, largely destroyed the US government and divided the nation to the brink of no repair. Job well done.

We will see what the impeachment brings to light. Entertainment, yeah!

Boris has been very successful at ruining GB too, and dividing the population. And if the Brexit really happens, the economic destruction of the nation will be unprecedented. At the same time, his actions have also weakened the European Union slightly, albeit not nearly as much as they have weakened GB. As the black knight would say, "it's just a flesh wound". But still, the western democracies of Europe are at turmoil, so Boris too has been a good boy at fulfilling Putin's desires.

Finally, the True Finns (annoying name BTW, as if the other 80% of Finns were not truly Finns) have raised a surprisingly large following, which is completely insane. One in five of my fellow countrymen are idiots, science denialists, misogynists and racists, apparently. Which makes me sad. While this bunch has not had enough power to ruin Finland completely yet, they did their best at dismantling the Nordic welfare state as a part of the last government. Luckily, the pendulum swung the other way at the elections, and we currently have a social democrat lead government, who are currently trying to repair the damage - all while the afternoon press and the now opposition right-wing do all in their power to gaslight, not taking responsibility of the carnage. And as said, it is working - on the polls, True Finns are the largest party here right now, which is mindboggling. I really cannot comprehend how Finns can be so stupid. As far as the connection to Putin goes, it looks like the far-right populist parties all over Europe are Putin's stooges, more or less. They have not been as successful at dismantling democracy as Trump and Boris have, at least not yet, but they are doing their best.


Wednesday, 23 October 2019


Did you know that the Hollywood sign is copyrighted, and that
theoretically, you need to pay a fee to show it?

Quentin Tarantino's new movie 'Once Upon a Hollywood'* is a whopping 2:45 min. The Shark and I decided to check it out anyway. Our luck, it was playing at Maxim, Helsinki's haut-cinema that has cushy chairs and tables in-between for drinks and snacks. We bought our wine and settled in for the long haul. Everyone who can read knows the movie takes place in 1969, the year film-star Sharon Tate and some of her pals were murdered by Charles Manson and his girl-gang. So we knew the end before it began. But QT had a lot more to tell us about Hollywood. The pace is slow, laid-back, deliberate.

The scene at the Ranch where Manson and his gang hang out is full of menace and suspense. But long enough to be a short movie. I kept wishing Eki had been in on the edit. The Shark liked it and compared it to the Serge Leone westerns. The movie's slow-pace helped to accentuate how boring, banal and cruel movie-making and life in Hollywood can be. And he nailed the period.

The clothes, the music, the locations are perfect. So are Leonardo di Caprio and Brad Pitt. Di Caprio's has-been, aging B movie actor and Pitt as his minder, fixer, driver, drinking-pal are sure to get Oscar nominations. 10-year-old Julia Butters, who stole her short her scene with di Caprio, should get the Best Supporting Actress award. In fact, the movie is sure to be a top choice for lots of Oscars. But  even if the Shark and the critics loved every 165 minutes, for me, 'Once Upon...' would have been better if Tarantino had followed Eki's rule: Kill your little darlings.

*'Once Upon a Time....' SERGIO LEONE trilogy

Sources: Helsingin Sanomat, New York Times, The Washington Post, the Shark, personal experience

Next week: 'and the WINNER is...PUTIN the IMPALER'

Note: I still haven't seen the film. And will probably wait until it's available for streaming. So, i haven't got much of notes per se. Overall, while i can appreciate the craftsmanship, and understand why Tarantino has his fans, i'm not necessarily one of them. Somehow i feel his films tend to be too self-conscious, perhaps pompous even, screaming "Look, look, *this* is a movie!". And they are also often unnecessarily violent. I do not see how that adds to the experience - or, perhaps i'm just getting soft with age.



Thursday, 19 September 2019

Is Finland SOCIALIST*?

Told a guy I met in LA I lived in Finland. He said, 'You live in a socialist country, you have National health care’.** A couple of years later I had a chance to find out how the health care system worked. A temporary, near-total paralysis, landed me in Meihlahti, the public, university hospital - the only hospital  equipped  to treat Guillain-Barre syndrome. After six weeks, I was sent to a rehab center for another six weeks. The care in both places was excellent and they got me walking again.  The system isn’t perfect, often there are long waits, but it works. No Finn I know would give it up.

Trump has branded Scandinavia ‘socialist’. It’s his weapon of mass destruction against the Democrats. At rallies he rants, ‘America will never be Sweden.’ The crowd roars. When you’ve lived in a Nordic country,  you wonder what’s this guy smoking.  I asked my pro-Trump pal what she thought ‘socialism’ meant. She said, ‘Marxism’. Eki gave me the correct answer. The Oxford English Dictionary said about the same thing (see below).

CNN aired a segment about Finland’s 130-year-old health care system. Their conclusion: it’s good, but it’s expensive. In a stump speech, Bernie Saunders thanked Finland for showing the world national care works.  He and Elizabeth Warren promise medicare-for-all if elected in 2020. I don’t think it’s going to happen. Eki says young US progressive voters want what we have and will vote for it. The Shark told me a lot of Finns go to work abroad. But when they have kids they come back home for the excellent free pre-natal and childcare, top-notch schools, health care, and other public perks. Trump may call it ‘socialism’, most Finns I know call it the GOOD LIFE.

*SOCIALISM (Oxford English dictionary)
A political ad economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

** On a ‘countries with universal health care’ site, the US was the only developed country without UHC, along with Africa, India, Northern South America.

Sources: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Washington Post. internet, personal experience



Note: I do not know what CNN has smoked, but the Finnish health care system is NOT expensive, at least when compared to the USA. Quite the contrary, it's dirt cheap. The USA spends yearly about $10 000 per capita on health chare, Finland just about $4000. In other words, health care in US is more than twice as expensive as in Finland. And our system covers everyone, not just the lucky or rich ones.

As far as US politics go, i'm pretty confident that the next president will be Warren or Sanders. Outside his narrow fanbase, after showing his true color, Trump has no support. He would be beaten by pretty much anyone in 2020. Put a pet raccoon against him and it would win. The only democratic candidate that might actually lose against Trump is Biden, who seems to be pretty much as blunder prone and demented as the big T. But i do not think he will be the dem nominee.

The socialistic policies are actually extremely widely supported by the US electorate, as long as you don't call them that. I fail to understand how the term that essentially just means pooling the citizen's resources has become the taboo it is in the US in the first place. The word really should be reclaimed, which Bernie is already doing.

As far as the definition goes, control by the community as a whole does not quite capture it (as, for example, co-ops, mom and pop stores etc. companies that are owned and run by the same people that work there is textbook socialism - but has nothing to do with society's control). The other common definition, "workers owning the means of production" does not get the community side...

Anyway, the proponents of socialistic policies do not usually want the whole system to be changed into a socialistic one. Just the parts that make sense. Like education, health care etc. There are things free markets do well, and both can coexist.

Countries with non-universal insurance system
In this system some citizens have private health insurance, some are eligible for subsidized public health care, while some are not insured at all:



Thursday, 5 September 2019


If your phone is never out of reach, if you text more than 25* times a day, if you wake up at night and check your messages, if you walk and text at the same time, if you whip it out as soon as you sit down, if you'd rather text than talk, you're a serious CP abuser.

Eki has his phone at the ready whenever I’m with him. We were having lunch when I tore into one of my cellphones tirades. I said excessive use was dangerous He went to Google Science. When the answer came back he didn't say, 'You're wrong!' If cellphones don't cause cancer, stenosis of the spine, horn-like bone spurs that grow on the back of your head due to bending your neck for long periods, constant use can't be good. And one fact is certain: it's fucked up face-to-face social life. No more lying or exaggerating. You’ll get checked. The addiction isn't incurable, but tough to treat. Try going cold-turkey for a day. Overuse is serious enough to catch the attention of people who want to help.

Hotels are popping up where the first thing you check in is your phone. Scientist, doctors, and researchers are warning us. What will happen if the technology collapses on a big scale (CNN ran a piece on the fragile underwater cables). With almost 6 billion users worldwide, there could be a collective nervous breakdown.

 *Teenage girls and boys average 60 messages a day.

Sources: internet, CBS News, Financial Times Weekend, observation (see LMPs 'GottaGETinTOUCH')

 Next week: Is Finland SOCIALIST?

Corrections: Helsinki blog. AMOS OZ should have been AMOS REX (Eki corrected one, but missed the other). 'Wife throwing' contest should have been 'wife-carrying' contest. Even though I bet, a lot of guys will be disappointed it was an error.

Re: Yang Gang blog: Sharon Pettus, sent me a MATH (Make America Think Harder) cap. Andrew Yang has enough donors and raised enough doe to take part in the third Democratic debate. Photo: Annie Lavigne


Note: Well, you are wrong. Cell phones do not cause cancer. Otherwise, exaggeration and fearmongering aside, you sort of have a point ;-.)