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.