Year: 2011

Here’s to new experiences

Posted by – May 14, 2011

Went to see The Tiger Lillies, of which it perhaps suffices to say

(if you’re reading on Google reader, the object that’s supposed to be here doesn’t appear for some reason)

I’m crucifying Jesus, banging in the nails
and I am so happy, because old Jesus failed
I’m crucifying Jesus, nail him to the cross
The poor old bastard bleeds to death
and I don’t give a toss.

I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails

I’m crucifying Jesus, in my piss he’s bathed
I think I am a pervert, I think I am depraved
I’m crucifying Jesus, beat him to a pulp
I stick my organ in his mouth and on it he must gulp.

I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
Bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails

You see that crown of thorns upon his head?
Well that was my idea!
I think I might be going to Hell
Oh… dear!
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
Bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
Bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails!

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails!

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang – bang – bang – bang – banging in the nails
I’m bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – banging in the nails!

Consider the chorus structure! I determined during the first half that this was music (and other performance) that warranted emotional participation rather than abstracted appreciation, so we rushed to take some universal fun enhancer during the interval, and it was exactly the right decision. We even got to briefly meet the guys after the show as they hawked records and autographs. Hard working band! Adrian Huge, the drummer, recommended The Brothel to the Cemetery, citing the above-given track.

It’s a strange thing to meet artists right after they’ve given a draining performance – they kind of wanted to connect with fans or whatever, but exuded a tired/wary sense of “these kids better not try to follow us to the pub”, which is of course completely understandable.

Not stopping there, day after next I got to meet Patri Friedman and other Less Wrong people at a meetup. We discussed meta-optimisation (how much should you concentrate on improving your processes, on improving the way you improve, on improving that etc. versus “just doing things”), dangerous opinions and liberal-mindedness, focus-enhancing drugs and of course seasteading. Hard working guy!

GIF of Babel

Posted by – May 1, 2011

Apropos of (yet another) Internet discussion about random images and texts (“Imagine, if you generated all the possible random images of a certain size they would include a picture of me writing this comment and masturbating Gandhi at the same time!”) I generated random images and stared at them to see if I could “find” anything in them. Of course, this makes less sense than playing a lottery where you try to pick one winning atom from the entire universe, but hey. The brain’s pattern-forcing algorithm is pretty good though, because you almost always end up seeing “something”. This seems to be emphasized when you see pictures in sequence, because you start imagining movement. So here’s an animated gif file with 40 images of size 130×230, with 256 colours (I’m not sure exactly which ones – I randomly generated images from (256*256*256) -space, and some gif-encoding algorithm must have flattened them down somehow).

I’m mostly seeing purple bubbles form and burst.

Conversion therapy, in two scenes

Posted by – April 30, 2011

Scene one

HARVEY: So Nick, I saw you making out with that guy last night.

NICK: Yeah… haha. Just experimenting, you know.

HARVEY: Oh yeah? You ever done that before?

NICK: Ah, yeah… a couple of times.

HARVEY: So… you’re, like, bisexual?

NICK: Uh, I don’t know. Maybe. I just want to give it a try, open my mind. I mean, everyone is part gay, right?

HARVEY: Yeah, I’ve…

NICK: I mean I’ve never fancied a guy that way. But I don’t know how much of that is, you know, social conditioning. I’m kind of trying to find the gay me.

HARVEY: Yeah, ok, no, I get that. That’s cool. Really everyone should try something like that. It should be in sexual education or something, haha.

NICK: Yeah, haha, I don’t know.

Scene two

HARVEY: So Nick, how’s the love life?

NICK: Uh, not very… I, um, I guess I didn’t tell you about this. I’m doing this therapy thing.

HARVEY: Therapy, like psychotherapy? Is everything all right?

NICK: Yeah, no, no, it’s all right. It’s… I got into it through church, it’s like, reparative therapy. To, you know, try to fight it.

HARVEY: Fight what, being gay?

NICK: Being gay is… it’s like any psychological… you know, it’s like an addiction. You can fight it.

HARVEY: Jesus, this is so stupid. Did your parents get you into this?

NICK: No, I mean, they know, but it’s my own…

HARVEY: Listen. There is nothing wrong with being gay. It’s not a disease. It’s normal. It’s just the way you are.

NICK: No, I don’t… I just don’t see it like that. I don’t want it for myself. It’s a sin and it makes me feel bad.

HARVEY: Listen to yourself! It’s all about some religious bullshit, it’s not even about you. I mean, I could understand…

NICK: I know you don’t believe, and that’s fine, but just respect my decision, all right?

HARVEY: Fine. I’m just telling you right now, you can’t “cure” being gay. There’s just no way you can turn yourself straight even if you wanted.

Clash of the tightest tribute

Posted by – April 29, 2011

One of my favourites in contemporary humorous writing is the Clash of the Tightest series published in Modern Drunkard Magazine over Sept. 2002 – Apr. 2003 (part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, semifinals, final). The premise is that in some unexplained circumstance, famous drunks compete at the sport of drinking, each taking turns ordering rounds of anything they choose. All the contestants are deceased, as are the ringside commentators, Howard Cosell and Laurence Olivier (if that stroke of genius isn’t enough to convince you that this idea is gold I don’t know what will).

The original Clash of the Tightest was a knock-out tournament with 16 participants and (therefore) 15 bouts. That’s rather too much writing and researching for me to do, but I’ll see if I can’t manage an 8-way tribute tournament. I probably won’t do nice photoshops of the participants like the originals did – you’re welcome to contribute any offerings of your own. I won’t use anyone from the originals (the impressive cast is Humphrey Bogart, Charles Bukowski, Richard Burton, Lord Byron, Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, W.C. Fields, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jackie Gleason, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Edgar Allen Poe, Dean Martin, Babe Ruth, Dylan Thomas and Orson Welles) but I’ll give myself a break by allowing living participants. Also, God knows when I get around to writing the next instalment. Without further ado,

Clash of the Tightest

2011 edition

Good evening sports fans, and welcome to the Gnome King’s Wine Cellar, the venue for this year’s edition of Clash of the Tightest. The rules are unchanged, but just to recap:

The rules

  1. A coin toss determines who orders the first round.
  2. The opponents will then take turns ordering rounds of whatever alcoholic beverage they wish.
  3. A drinker must finish his drink within ten seconds of his opponent finishing his or face disqualification.
  4. The contest will continue until a contender loses by Passing Out (a PO), by being unable or refusing to continue with the contest (a Technical Pass Out, or TPO) or vomiting into the referee’s bucket (a VO).
  5. Opponents may speak to each other, but cannot make physical contact. Contact will result in disqualification.

This edition pits eight storied drunks against each other. Some are physically dead, others living, but the metaphysical manifestations of all are of equivalent nature in the Gnome King’s Wine Cellar.

The field

Hunter S. Thompson
Christopher Hitchens
Tom Waits
Shane MacGowan
Jack Kerouac
Boris Yeltsin
John Bonham
Raymond Chandler

Bout #1

Hunter “Loathin'” Thompson
Christopher “Sharper than a broken whisky bottle” Hitchens

Tale of the Tab

Hunter is very much a mixed bag – he has a fearsome reputation, but as much of it is for guns, insanity and drugs as for hard drinking. Nevertheless, his drinking has been known to be workmanlike and fairly continuous, and if he doesn’t burn out fast, the other contestants will find it hard to go the distance.
The very picture of a functional alcoholic, Christopher is known for belting down enough whisky to put a lesser man to sleep prior to going on television to rhetorically crush his enemies with nary a slurred word or confused thought. There have been rumours that the Hitch’s whisky-in-hand persona is all a big front, but none can doubt that when it comes to the psychological side of the sport, Hitchens is close to unbeatable.

The Build Up

Howard Cosell:Thompson will have to watch his temper here. He never suffered fools gladly, but he enjoyed getting outsmarted even less. If Hitchens can get under Hunter’s skin, I think he can pull off an upset.
Laurence Olivier: But first he must dance with the devil – perhaps a not unfamiliar business to mr. Hitchens.
HC: And here come the contestants – Hitchens as expected in his pre-cancer, cleanshaven fortyish appearance – Thompson with the first surprise, he has a somewhat tired, leathery appearance from the nineties.
LO: I thought he detested old age. Then again, by that time he had largely been able to give up working for drinking.

Christopher Hitchens wins the toss.

Round One

Hitchens orders Johnnie Walker Black Label with Perrier
LO: Oh dear! Could it be that Christopher is feeling the effects of the pre-tournament party?
HC: Hunter certainly doesn’t seem to mind. He doesn’t look too perky himself.
LO They thirstily drain their glasses in silence.

Round Two

Thompson orders tumblers of Chivas Regal
HC: Another waiting move.
LO: “Sorry I didn’t cut it with anything, man. I just like the taste,” Thompson announces in his rapid-fire mumble. “That fails to explain why you ordered Chivas,” retorts Hitchens, not very lightly.
HC: “Oh shit, I’m drinking with a nerd,” says Hunter. They’re both smiling now.

Round Three

Hitchens orders tumblers of Johnnie Walker Black Label
LO: Hitchens is starting to look more animated already. “To Richard Nixon,” he toasts, “the gift that never stopped giving.”
HC: Thompson grimaces. “I don’t know, that stuff gets so old…” “I’m still going on God,” shrugs Hitchens. They clink glasses and knock back their drinks.
LO: It’s like they’re old comrades! Could it be that Hitchens is a fan?

Round Four

Thompson orders cans of Heineken
HC: He wanted to order six-packs, but it wasn’t allowed.
LO: Hitchens seems to be having some trouble with his can, gingerly trying to lift the ring with his fingernail.
HC: Thompson cracked his open expertly, and is now sensing opportunity: he’s chugging it down in one!
LO: The crowd is getting agitated. Hitchens smiles in frustration, but it doesn’t look sincere. Now he’s pounding his elbow into the top. It gives! And Thompson is done!
HC: It’s going to go down to the line! Hitchens starts guzzling it down, struggling with the foam and carbonation. He looks very uncomfortable.
LO: Is there some coming out of his nose? He finishes on the nine count, but Thompson’s corner is screaming foul.
HC: To no effect. Thompson’s grinning, he’s starting to have fun.
LO: And Hitchens has fire in his eyes.

Round Five

Hitchens orders large Brutal Hammers
LO: Red wine and vodka, I believe.
HC: Hitchens is opposed to mixing drinks, but there isn’t much he can do to avoid it here in any case, and Thompson wasn’t a big wine man. I like this move.
LO: Thompson doesn’t appear too comfortable with the warm, full-bodied, high-octane drink. He’s more used to chilled, easy-drinking whisky and beer.
HC: “I’ll order the beer in a glass if you go back to the good stuff”, he promises. “I’ll do no such thing. I refuse to be stuck here swilling fifth-rate watered-down brewing adjuncts a moment longer that I have to,” Hitchens fires back.
LO: “Hey, I was taking it easy on you. If you want to ride wild, it’s you who’s going to regret it.” “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
HC: It’s on!

Round Six

Thompson orders snow cones with pixie dust
LO: Shaved ice drenched in Chivas, with cocaine along the rim. That raised some eyebrows.
HC: It’s up to Hitchens to protest, but he calmly lays into the concoction.
LO: The hard-to-drink Brutal Hammer must have rattled Thompson. He starts with the cocaine, snorting all the way around the rim, and it seems to perk him up. He then begins spooning up the whisky slurry like it’s yoghurt.
HC: Hitchens ventures a sniff of the cocaine. The referee informs him that he’s under no compulsion to finish it. Thompson offers to help, but is rebuffed.

Round Seven

Hitchens orders large Brutal Hammers
LO: No rest for the wicked. Thompson grimaces, but immediately begins guzzling down the beastly potion.
HC: It doesn’t go down easy: he sputters and starts coughing. Looks like some went down the wrong way.
LO: The cocaine made him hyperactive, if you ask me. Hitchens has lit up a cigarette and is calmly finishing his drink.
HC: Thompson gapes at the cigarette and immediately begins fiddling with his cigarette holder. Did he forget about the possibility of smoking? Hitchens is done now, and Thompson is trying to drink and light a cigarette at the same time.
LO: He manages just in time and looks pleased with himself. Hitchens lets out a long sigh.

Round Eight

Thompson orders Jack Daniels and coffee
HC: He’s looking to rev up even more. “Hey, what sports do you have out there in England? Soccer, right?”
LO: “I’m actually an American citizen as well now. But yes, I believe that’s what the proletariat occupies itself with. Called football, by the way.”
HC: “You wanted to be an American? You must be fucked in the mind. Welcome to the club,” replies Thompson friendlily.
LO: Hitchens isn’t having any of it. “Thanks, but I’m a proud citizen, and I’m proud to be sane as well. It helps if you want to be a writer. Of course, your career was based on something else.”
HC: “Well fuck you, you fat British asshole,” Thompson summarily returns. Hitchens is unfazed.

Rounds Nine through Thirteen

Hitchens orders large Brutal Hammers, Thompson orders Margaritas
LO: A rather aggressive mood has set in. They trade insults; of each other and U.S. Presidents, mostly.
HC: Categories that go together pretty naturally for them, I think. Both are interested in power and importance.
LO: Thompson is defending Reagan now, and Hitchens George Bush, who Thompson is insisting on referring to as “pigfucker”. You wouldn’t believe it but to hear it!
HC: Anything to keep it interesting, I think.

Round Fourteen

Thompson orders Chartreuse
LO: Hitchens’ head is getting very red and bloated now, while Thompson has a crazy intensity in his eyes. “You look like you’re ready to drop, fat man,” I think he says – it comes out almost unintelligibly.
HC: “The taunts of a failed addict who took the easy way out of life. I fail to be moved,” replies Hitchens, alert as ever.
LO: Hunter appears to be slightly hurt by that.

Round Fifteen

Hitchens orders tumblers of Gordon’s gin
HC: “You know what you’re remembered for?”, queries Hitchens. “Drugs and stupidity. You were a freak. They made a movie about it, for the kids. Nobody cares about what you wrote because you were a lazy bum who didn’t do the work and didn’t do the thinking.”
LO: Thompson begins to reply, but I can’t make sense of it. The body is going strong but the mind can’t grip. He’s shaking his head like a punch-drunk boxer.
HC: “The greedy, boring people won,” Hitchens continues. “I wonder, how does it feel to be completely irrelevant?”
LO: Thompson starts up again, but gives up in frustration. He bellows out “You fascist fuck!” and – launches out of his chair and physically attacks Hitchens!
HC Hitchens shies away and tucks his head into his arms to protect himself, but Thompson gets a good punch in before he’s pulled off by the officiators. This can’t be good for the sport.

Hitchens wins by disqualification.

Post Fight Interview

Thompson: We shouldn’t allow those stuck-up British fucks into the country. This is why we had a revolution in the first place.
Hitchens: I was under the distinct impression there would be a speaker’s fee.

The corridor of uncertainty between pornography intro and children’s tv

Posted by – April 25, 2011

Critique of Halla-aho on human value

Posted by – April 23, 2011

Some comments on Halla-aho’s post.

I don’t think people really mean that there’s some measurable universal value that’s equal between humans when they say eg. “all different, all equal”. Perhaps some do. That Halla-aho sort of forces that interpretation throughout the post could mean that in his opinion other ways of interpreting it are stupid – or I don’t know, maybe he thinks that’s what people really do mean. Or that they don’t even know what the pleasant-sounding words mean, they just like to say them.

Most likely most people intend it as a guide to behaviour: “It’s our responsibility to keep homeless alcoholics from freezing to death!” “Why?” “They are humans! Their lives have value!” In this case human value simply means that if something is a human, you should protect it and make sure it has various things – perhaps behave “as if all humans had equal value”. If this interpretation is roughly correct, the statement “All humans have equal value” strikes me as a pretty poor and ambiguous way to put it. A better way: humans have some value baseline, on which you can pile on other values – utility, personal affection, what have you (I wonder why Halla-aho only listed instrumental values – surely he has to care about something else, else what’s the point of all the procreation and instrumental-value-generation?). But that this value baseline is at the same point for all humans, and you shouldn’t throw that value away.

That Halla-aho didn’t try to seek out this kind of more charitable reading is a little unfortunate, because even if he had sincerely tried to hear what people mean, I think he could have made his point. This is how I would put what I think is his point: sure, we shouldn’t kill or allow anyone to die for no reason, but those people who think everyone’s life really has the same universal value are deluded. They sure don’t behave that way themselves, and the world would be an extremely weird place if we all did. We should accept and admit that we care more about our family members, brain surgeons and other generally useful people that we do about homeless drunks, newspaper columnists and people in war-torn countries far away.

I think that interpretation is fairly uncontroversial. Some hippies and religious people might disagree with it, but I don’t. I really wish Halla-aho didn’t choose interpretations for people’s ideas that make them appear as stupid as possible – it’s impolite, it makes the writer’s message weaker and most importantly of all, it’s a terrible way to find the truth. Then again, Halla-aho is a politician (dirty word!), not a rationalist.

Eating awareness / obesity hypothesis

Posted by – April 23, 2011

Hypothesis: people who can generally remember everything they’ve eaten throughout the day are generally less obese than people who can’t.

Halla-aho on human value

Posted by – April 23, 2011

Jussi Halla-aho, a Finnish politician, has recently become notorious in European newspapers for apparently denying that all humans have equal value. Particular attention has come from Austrian and German papers, which have a long-standing concern over such claims. The basis of this assessment is a blog post from 2005. In my opinion this attention has been a little unfair, and I recommend that any Finnish readers who are upset about it read the post for themselves as a philosophical musing rather than as ideological ground-preparation for the mass murder of artists, linguists and the unemployed. As far as I can see, non-Finnish speakers can’t read the blog post anywhere, so in service of anyone interested in the issue I have translated it below. My usual disclaimer: this isn’t a token of agreement or admiration, but of interest and a desire to allow people to understand one another.

On human value

An axiom is a claim with such self-evident verity that it requires no other justification. It must be axiomatic (pun intended) that particular care should be exercised in granting the status of axiom to any claim. Such a claim should preferably be true regardless of context, in place or time.

One contemporary axiom is the equality and universality of human value. Even the worst racist and antiegalitarian will generally attempt to include human equality into his theoretical framework. To deny the axiom is simply incorrect.

The claim that everyone has equal value requires that a person’s value is a known and measurable quantity. If it cannot be measured, there is no way to determine to what extent each individual is in possession of it. Certainly human value can’t be an externally given, cosmic property – or at least can’t be proven to be that. It isn’t inscribed in the stars, waters or bedrock. In fact there is no indication that the equality of human value, or indeed the entire concept of human value, is anything but an accepted convention, characteristic of our time, alongside the axioms of times past: “The Sun revolves around the Earth”, “The Pope is infallible”, “Women don’t have a soul”, “Masturbation causes shortsightedness”. The self-evidential quality of those has been as obvious as that of equality today. They have been supported by as little actual evidence as we have for equality of value. Because they haven’t lended themselves to supporting arguments, they have been declared axiomatic and therefore to require no support.

The only measurable and therefore definitely real human value is an individual’s instrumental value. Individuals can justifiably be hierarchically ordered by the extent to which the absence of their abilities and knowledge from a community would weaken it. The farmer, the man who raises animals for food and the building engineer are more valuable than others because without them the community would perish of famine and exposure. On the other hand, they would survive in the absence of everyone else’s abilities. The arms-bearing individual is next in value, because he protects the food stock and dwellings from wild beasts and enemies, and prevents the members of the community from destructively following their more primitive impulses.

The artisan (and his modern equivalent) is valuable in that his products and inventions improve the lives of everyone above and below himself in the hierarchy. The natural scientist (physicists and chemists in particular) is valuable because he produces information for the artisan, the soldier, the building engineer and farmer all to apply to their practical activities. It’s possible to survive without foundational science, but unpleasantly. The doctor is valuable because he extends life and improves its quality. He certainly isn’t completely indispensable, though; a great fraction of people would survive until their reproductive age without him. Procreation is the primary activity common to all species that everything else in service of.

The groups I have enumerated more or less produce, in the material sense, the society in which we live. These occupations permit a quantity of free time and the existential contemplation that follows from it, in which I include to a great extent astronomy and, to an even greater extent, the humanities. These things qualitatively separate us from apes, but are by no means necessary. Although it must be admitted that thanks to behavioural science we are perhaps less prone to killing one another. On the other hand, warfare improves group cohesion and almost always leads to technological breakthroughs.

Artists, the clergy and politicians are generally speaking superfluous. The community would function perfectly well without them, and their activities are made possible entirely by virtue of the efforts of other groups. Artists in particular are generally in the grip of a certain bitterness towards science, but no painting would be made without chemical industry, which is an application of natural science. The superfluity of these occupations to the rest of society is indicated, amongst other things, by the fact that they are mostly supported by public handouts from the rest of society.

When in the service of something non-critical, the value of intelligence is subjective, but I don’t think many would deny that reading a good book or hearing sense being spoken stimulates the mind and produces happiness. I find it a strange and insulting idea that Esko Valtaoja (SH: Finnish astronomer and writer) has no greater value than Juha Valjakkala (SH: Finnish murderer), Helena Lindgren (SH: Finnish celeb) or an immigrant loitering in the railway station.

Until someone demonstrates to me how everyone has equal value, I shall consequently consider difference of kind to lead to difference of value, and that everyone has a different amount of value. Unlike the egalitarians imagine, this doesn’t result in gassing those of lesser value in the absence of some particular reason. I value myself above a dead mouse lying on a forest path, but that doesn’t cause me to tear it into pieces. I think the world is a more pleasant place with art (not sure about religions and parliament) and linguistics. But if the boat starts leaking, I consider it obvious that the least valuable have to go first, ie. artists and linguists.

Egalitarian nonsense is the result of too many people with lots of energy and too little of consequence to do. As Finnish examples I might mention Karmela Liebkind (SH: academic, in the field of ethnic relations and social psychology) Rosa Meriläinen (SH: Finnish ex-politician, Green party) or Mikko Puumalainen (SH: minority ombudsman and chancellor of justice, pursued hate speech investigations). Like every age, ours is blind to the fact that we and our ideas are a momentary and soon to disappear eddy in the endless river of time. Generations to come will spit on our graves and receive our self-evidentialities with a hearty laugh and a wet fart. There is no reason not to believe that “equality”, “tolerance” and other things so important to us will be joining the long list of inanities of times past, alongside the Sun that revolves around the Earth, the Pope’s infallibility, the soullessness of women and the fact that masturbation causes shortsightedness.

Vaalikatsaus 2011

Posted by – April 18, 2011

Kansanvallan kultainen hetki on taas nähty. Suomessa ei ilmeisesti ole tänäkään vuonna ketään, jonka äänestyspäätös olisi vaikuttanut vaalien lopputulokseen (ellei tarkastuslaskenta Laura Räty – Lasse Männistö vielä muuta tilannetta). Onkohan muuten koskaan ollut? No, vallassa on kansa etkä “juuri sinä”. Toivottavasti olet hyvissä väleissä kansan kanssa.

SDP ja Vasemmistoliitto saivat matalimmat kannatusosuutensa koskaan. Keskusta on historiansa alkuhämärissä aloittanut pienemmistä luvuista, mutta niiden jälkeen sekään ei ole menestynyt näin huonosti. Ainoastaan Keskustaa pidetään kuitenkin häviäjänä. Itse asiassa jokainen puolue paitsi Perussuomalaiset sai vähemmän ääniä vuonna 2011 kuin vuonna 2007 – myös RKP – vaikka ääniä annettiin rutkasti enemmän kuin viimeksi, 165 850 kappaletta enemmän. Miksi näin? Yritän kanavoida sisäistä perussuomalaistani.

Ensin: en usko pätkääkään että vaalitulos olisi johtunut avoimuuden pelosta (mitä se sitten tarkoittaakaan), rasismista, herravihasta tai kateudesta. Anni Sinnemäki arvioi että vaaleissa voittivat Vihreiden ajamille arvoille kaikkein vastakkaisimmat arvot. Nämä arvot ovat vastuu tulevaisuudesta, kansainvälinen solidaarisuus ja rauha, luonto, sosiaalinen oikeudenmukaisuus, feminismi, monikulttuurisuus, elämänlaatu, sivistys ja kansalaisvaikuttaminen. Sinnemäki on siinä oikeassa että Perussuomalaiset ovat ainakin joissain näistä ulottuvuuksista aika erilainen puolue.

Missä mielessä Perussuomalaiset edustavat näille vastakkaisia arvoja? Yhtenä esimerkkinä: he eivät ole kansainvälisesti solidaarisia siinä mielessä että haluaisivat valtiollisesti edistää muiden kuin suomalaisten hyvinvointia tai haluaisivat käyttää Suomen armeijaa rauhan edistämiseen muualla kuin Suomen lähistöllä. Perussuomalaiset eivät kuitenkaan ole esittäneet juuri vihamielisiä kommentteja muista maista (mikä ei olisi Suomen politiikassa tavatonta) eivätkä esimerkiksi tavoittele merkittäviä laajennuksia asevoimiin. Entä muut puolueet? Minulle ei ainakaan tule mieleen yhtään muuta eduskuntapuoluetta joka ei “tietenkin” tunnustaisi kansainvälisen solidaarisuuden moninaisia velvoitteita.

Monissa muissakin asioissa Suomea väitetään koskevan yleiset velvoitteet – milloin EU:n tai EMU:n jäsenenä, milloin länsimaisena sivistysvaltiona, milloin rikkaana länsimaana – toimia jollain tietyllä tavalla. Tämä koskee myös sisäpoliittisia kysymyksiä. Kun ankaran poliittisen väännön jälkeen – jossa on usein mukana AY-järjestöjä, elinkeinoelämän edustajia ja jopa suuryrityksiä – saadaan aikaan ns. risupaketti, Lex Nokia tai jätevesilaki, se esitetään ainoana keinona saavuttaa ne välttämättömät reunaehdot joihin on tyydyttävä (jos emme säädä Lex Nokiaa, Suomi “menettää kilpailukykynsä” – ja lakia ei ole toistaiseksi edes käytetty). Pakkoruotsi ei ole ollut poliittinen kysymys, koska Suomi on virallisesti kaksikielinen maa. Vaikka puolueiden sisällä on aina ollut asiasta erimielisyyttä, ne ovat olleet tästä asiasta täydellisessä yhteisymmärryksessä. Tätä on toki ennenkin valiteltu – Jukka Relander on eräs Vihreä joka on pitänyt esillä vaihtoehdottomuuden ilmapiiriä – mutta puhe on jäänyt vaaleihin, kuten Relanderkin.

Sivumennen sanoen: paljolti kyse on kommunikaatio-ongelmasta, sekä demokratian inherenteistä ongelmista. Näistä asioista käydään ahkeraa vääntöä nimenomaan poliittisista lähtökohdista ja myös kansanedustajien toimesta – ihmiset eivät vaan pidä julkisuuskuvasta jossa kaikkitietävä hallitus löytää “vääjäämättömät” ratkaisut.

Mutta pidän tätä keskeisenä pointtina. Suomen maahanmuuttopolitiikka ei ole johtanut katastrofiin edes Jussi Halla-ahon mielestä, mutta se on katastrofaalista “vanhoille puolueille” että annetaan ymmärtää että humanitäärinen maahanmuutto ei ole poliittinen kysymys jota olisi sopivaa antaa rasistisen kansan käsiin. Matti Vanhasen sanoin: “Äänestäjillä ei saa olla sellaista illuusioita, että he saavat ilmaista ulkomaalaisvihamielisyytensä vaaleissa esimerkiksi perussuomalaisia äänestämällä” – kuulostaa yksinkertaisesti pahalta kun pääministeri ilmoittaa mitä kansa saa tehdä tai kuvitella. Keskusta ja Vihreät ovat maksaneet kalleimmin siitä vaikutelmasta, että heidän moraalinen (lähinnä Vihreät) ja asiantuntemuksellinen (lähinnä Keskusta) paremmuutensa olisivat niin ratkaisevia että päätöksillä ei ylipäätään ole vaihtoehtoja. En tiedä miksi Kokoomus on pystynyt välttämään tämän ansan edellisiä paremmin. Ehkä koska Kokoomuslaisia on koulutettu esiintymään empaattisesti ja positiivisesti.

Vaalien keskeinen tapahtuma on nähdäkseni se, että ihmiset – mielestäni ymmärrettävästi – kapinoivat sitä ajatusta vastaan että poliitikot johtavat heitä. Perussuomalaisten äänestäminen on yritys protestoida tätä vastaan, mutta siitä ei tule todennäköisesti olemaan tässä asiassa mitään hyötyä. Jos ei suurta haittaakaan; millaisen konservatismin aallon voi vakavasti odottaa pyyhkäisevän Suomen yli? Homoavioliittoa ja -adoptiota ei tule, mutta niitä ei ollut ennenkään. Perheenyhdistämismenettelyyn tulee ehkä sukulaisuustutkimus ja korkeammat toimeentulovaatimukset, mutta olisi voinut olla tulossa joidenkin Kokoomuslaisten puheista päätellen muutenkin, eikä ole mikään kovin kovan tason ihmisoikeusloukkaus. Monen mielestä Suomi “tuntuu” nyt ahdasmieliseltä, sietämättömältä ja häpeälliseltä, mutta se menee ohi. Asiat eivät tule paljoa muuttumaan.

Itse näen vaalituloksessa toivon siemenen: jos ihmiset kapinoivat poliitikkojohdon pelkojaan vastaan äänestämällä uusia poliitikkoja, ehkä he voivat jonain päivänä kapinoida sitä vastaan tavoittelemalla vapautta ja poliitikkojen vallankäyttöä vaativien kysymysten minimointia.

All roads lead to philosophy

Posted by – April 14, 2011

Here’s one way to look at the reason why I wanted to study philosophy as a kid: someone discovered that if you follow the first “proper” (non-etymological or pronunciation guide) text link in almost any Wikipedia article, you will ultimately end up at the article for philosophy (the first link from philosophy is to the article for reason, which leads to rationality, which leads to philosophy, so really any of those have the same property). Here are some example paths:

Chess > board game > game > play (activity) > free will > agency (philosophy) > philosophy

Finnish language > Finland > Nordic countries > Atlantic ocean > ocean > seawater > water > chemical substance > chemistry > science > knowledge > reason > rationality > philosophy

Natural Born Killers > crime film > stage play > literature > arts and letters > fine arts > art form > symbol > numeral system > writing system > symbolic system > anthropology > natural science > science > knowledge > reason > rationality > philosophy

Eggplant > Solanaceae > family (biology) > biological classification > biologist > scientist > system > component > electronic component > electronics > science > knowledge > reason > rationality > philosophy

Bicycle > human-powered transport > transport > cargo > commerce > trade > ownership > rights > principle > effect > result > sequence > mathematics > quantity > property (philosophy) > modern philosophy > philosophy

Cat urine backpack & relative differences of functions

Posted by – March 25, 2011

My backpack got stolen. It had just been urinated on by a cat, and was evidently beyond salvation (it was pretty beat up anyway). I emptied it and left it to stink outside of the pizzeria we’d decided to eat at, planning to take it to the next garbage bin I saw. But somebody nabbed it! I hope they don’t make the mistake I did of wearing the backpack – my nice winter coat now has a faint whiff of un-neutered male cat piss.

We were discussing Ramsey’s function (R(k) = the smallest number of people for which you can guarantee that either k people among them all know each other or k people all are strangers to each other) with Vadim. Its values are known to lie between {\sqrt 2}^k and 4^k, which is obviously quite a large gap. But how large? Vadim immediately said the difference 4^k- {\sqrt 2}^k is exponential, but it wasn’t so obvious to me. Eventually he convinced me. It then occurred to us that it’s in fact essentially 4^k; given a > b > 1, the difference between the gap and the larger exponential function relative to the larger function goes to zero, \lim_{x \to \infty} \frac{x^a - (x^a - x^b)}{x^a} = \lim_{x \to \infty} \frac{x^b}{x^a} = 0. So when you subtract a smaller exponential function from a larger exponential function, you’ve basically subtracted nothing. Which is really a stupid thing to notice because it’s true even of polynomial functions (but not linear functions).

The decline of anthropology

Posted by – March 6, 2011

Here are some excerpts from the Wikipedia article on the house sparrow or Passer Domesticus:

The plumage of the House Sparrow is mostly different shades of grey and brown. The sexes differ, with females and juveniles mostly buff, and the male marked with bold colours. In breeding plumage, the male’s crown is grey, and it is marked with black on its throat and beneath its crown. The cheeks and underparts are pale grey. The mantle and upper back are a warm brown, broadly streaked with black, while the lower back, rump and uppertail coverts are a greyish-brown. The female has no black on head or throat, nor a grey crown and its upperparts are streaked with brown.


There is some variation in the twelve subspecies of House Sparrow. The subspecies are divided into two groups, the Oriental indicus group, and the Palaearctic domesticus group. Birds of the domesticus group have grey cheeks, while indicus group birds have white cheeks, as well as bright colouration on the crown, a smaller bill, and a longer black bib. The subspecies Passer domesticus tingitanus differs little from the nominate subspecies, except in the worn breeding plumage of the male, in which the head is speckled with black and underparts are paler. P. d. balearoibericus is slightly paler than the nominate but darker than P. d. bibilicus. P. d. bibilicus is paler than most subspecies, but has the grey cheeks of domesticus group birds. The similar P. d. persicus is paler and smaller, and P. d. niloticus is nearly identical but smaller. Of the less wide ranging indicus group subspecies, P. d. hyrcanus is larger than P. d. indicus, P. d. bactrianus is larger and paler, P. d. parkini is larger and darker with more black on the breast than any other subspecies, and P. d. hufufae is paler.

I challenge you to find anything like this level of detail regarding human beings on Wikipedia. Granted, all humans are considered to belong to the same subspecies Homo Sapiens Sapiens, whereas the groups of house sparrow are separate subspecies, but it is unclear how crucial this distinction is as the different kinds do intergrade where their habitats meet. The article on humans remarks

There is no scientific consensus of a list of the human races, and few anthropologists endorse the notion of human “race”. For example, a color terminology for race includes the following in a classification of human races: Black (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa), Red (e.g. Native Americans), Yellow (e.g. East Asians) and White (e.g. Europeans).

Referring to natural species, in general, the term “race” is obsolete, particularly if a species is uniformly distributed on a territory. In its modern scientific connotation, the term is not applicable to a species as genetically homogeneous as the human one, as stated in the declaration on race (UNESCO 1950). Genetic studies have substantiated the absence of clear biological borders, thus the term “race” is rarely used in scientific terminology, both in biological anthropology and in human genetics. What in the past had been defined as “races”—e.g., whites, blacks, or Asians—are now defined as “ethnic groups” or “populations”, in correlation with the field (sociology, anthropology, genetics) in which they are considered.

This is very salient, but no discussion of the “ethnic groups” or “populations” follows. There are separate articles for ethnic group and race (classification of human beings), but they are mostly devoted to a general overview of measures of genetic differences and a historical discussion of how these concepts have been viewed, and detailing what proportion of the representatives of various scientific disciplines or nationalities disagree with statements like “There are biological races in the species Homo sapiens.” It is elaborated at length that any genetic division of human groups is necessarily “fuzzy” – something that was taken for granted in the case of house sparrows, which naturally have the same property. The only forays into the actual substance of the matter occur in the section “Political and practical uses”, where a caption states “From left to right, the FBI assigns the above individuals to the following races: White, Black, White (Hispanic), Asian.” There is no verbal guide to how this classification is arrived at.

By way of comparison, in the article on house sparrows “plumage” is descriptively used five times, “beak” twice and “tail” thrice. In the articles on human subdivisions, “nose”, “jaw” and “forehead” were not mentioned in any context, and “height” only as an element in a list of features law enforcement might use to describe a person.

In comparison to other species well known to biology, practically no distinguishing information is available about humans. This is not just about ethnic groups: differences between the sexes are also very hard to pin down. I did find information about what changes happen during adolescence, so from that you can back-reason what children and adults comparatively look like, but with nothing like the convenience I had with the house sparrow.

One exception to this is the resources produced by visual artists for other visual artists: both visual and verbal descriptions of all kinds of human subtypes are available in this context. An excellent example is Drawing People by Joumana Medlej. Summary of Asians, summary of Caucasians, summary of Africans.

One might think that while this lack of scientific information is regrettable, we are at least in a better position than the naïve human classifications of the past, which were tinged with racist/imperialist attitudes and eugenic goals. I was actually a little surprised to find the following rather mature discussion in the 1911 Britannica article on anthropology:

Were the race-characters constant in degree or even in kind, the classification of races would be easy; but this is not so. Every division of mankind presents in every character wide deviations from a standard. Thus the Negro race, well marked as it may seem at the first glance, proves on closer examination to include several shades of complexion and features, in some districts varying far from the accepted Negro type; while the examination of a series of native American tribes shows that, notwithstanding their asserted uniformity of type, they differ in stature, colour, features and proportions of skull. (See Prichard, Nat. Hist. of Man; Waitz, Anthropology, part i. sec. 5.) Detailed anthropological research, indeed, more and more justifies Blumenbach’s words, that ” innumerable varieties of mankind run into one another by insensible degrees.” This state of things, due partly to mixture and crossing of races, and partly to independent variation of types, makes the attempt to arrange the whole human species within exactly bounded divisions an apparently hopeless task. It does not follow, however, that the attempt to distinguish special races should be given up, for there at least exist several definable types, each of which so far prevails in a certain population as to be taken as its standard.


In determining whether the races of mankind are to be classed as varieties of one species, it is important to decide whether every two races can unite to produce fertile offspring. It is settled by experience that the most numerous and well-known crossed races, such as the Mulattos, descended from Europeans and Negroes – the Mestizos, from Europeans and American indigenes – the Zambos, from these American indigenes and Negroes, &c., are permanently fertile. They practically constitute sub-races, with a general blending of the characters of the two parents, and only differing from fully-established races in more or less tendency to revert to one or other of the original types. It has been argued, on the other hand, that not all such mixed breeds are permanent, and especially that the cross between Europeans and Australian indigenes is almost sterile; but this assertion, when examined with the care demanded by its bearing on the general question of hybridity, has distinctly broken down. On the whole, the general evidence favours the opinion that any two races may combine to produce a new sub-race, which again may combine with any other variety. Thus, if the existence of a small number of distinct races of mankind be taken as a starting-point, it is obvious that their crossing would produce an indefinite number of secondary varieties, such as the population of the world actually presents.

(from earlier in the article)

Stature is by no means a general criterion of race, and it would not, for instance, be difficult to choose groups of Englishmen, Kaffirs, and North American Indians, whose mean height should hardly differ. Yet in many cases it is a valuable means of distinction, as between the tall Patagonians and the stunted Fuegians, and even as a help in minuter problems, such as separating the Teutonic and Celtic ancestry in the population of England (see Beddoe, ” Stature and Bulk of Man in the British Isles,” in Mem. Anthrop. Soc. London, vol. iii.). Proportions of the limbs, compared in length with the trunk, have been claimed as constituting peculiarities of African and American races; and other anatomical points, such as the conformation of the pelvis, have speciality. But inferences of this class have hardly attained to sufficient certainty and generality to be set down in the form of rules. The conformation of the skull is second only to the colour of the skin as a criterion for the distinction of race; and the position of the jaws is recognized as important, races being described as prognathous when the jaws project far, as in the Australian or Negro, in contradistinction to the orthognathous type, which is that of the ordinary well-shaped European skull. On this distinction in great measure depends the celebrated ” facial angle,” measured by Camper as a test of low and high races; but this angle is objectionable as resulting partly from the development of the forehead and partly from the position of the jaws. […] The general contour of the face, in part dependent on the form of the skull, varies much in different races, among whom it is loosely defined as oval, lozenge-shaped, pentagonal, &c. Of particular features, some of the most marked contrasts to European types are seen in the oblique Chinese eyes, the broad-set Kamchadale cheeks, the pointed Arab chin, the snub Kirghiz nose, the fleshy protuberant Negro lips, and the broad Kalmuck ear. Taken altogether, the features have a typical character which popular observation seizes with some degree of correctness, as in the recognition of the Jewish countenance in a European city.

Going further into articles on eg. “negro”, there is a wealth of descriptions of different subtypes – many seem inaccurate or exaggerated, and especially the social sciences side is very flawed, but this is 1911 science (there are also numerous passages that make the modern reader blush, eg. “The capacity of the cranium is estimated in cubic measure by filling it with sand, &c., with the general result that the civilized white man is found to have a larger brain than the barbarian or savage.”) There is no article of general relativity because it hadn’t been developed yet. In 2011, the Wikipedia article on black people intimates only that black people often have dark skin, and that they commonly have a thick hair type.

These preoccupations with the nitty-gritty of appearance are perhaps trivial, but they seem to me to point to the root of a general lack of understanding in the human sciences. We still have no idea why different cultures, composed of different groups of humans, have had such different historical outcomes (by “we” I don’t mean the scientific best, but the general well-educated Wikipedia reader, say). We know in almost no detail why the performance of men and women in most areas is as different as it is. We don’t know very much about why and how personality types, patterns of behaviour and occupational specialisations recur in families. In short, there is so much more to know about humans – and we seem to be moving backwards! How can this be?


Posted by – March 3, 2011

(Seen at the film archive’s theatre, Orion.)

Also, #aspekti, the irc channel for linguistic folks at the U of H, set out to collectively write a pornographic short story (in Finnish) with one word per contribution:

Olin diskossa. Sinä katsahdit jotakuta merkitsevästi. Otin taikurinhattuni repustani ja puin sen kaverilleni. Kaverini näytti minulle kännykästä välilihakuvia. Aloin kiihottua.

Lähdin kohti sinua päättäväisin vaikkakin väräjävin askelin. Sinä näit etäältä ilmeessäni jotain, joka sai olemuksesi hiuksenhienosti pelästyneeksi. Saavutin sopivan nopeuden karkottaakseni tarpeettomat hännystelijäsi. Nyt oli aika kuunnella kupeitteni kutsua.

Nostin sinut ilmaan kuin käärepaperin. Sinä söit aina niitä helvetin valkosipulikaramelleja. Kannoin sinut autolleni. Vaihdekeppi tarttui paidanliepeeseesi ja paljasti maidonvalkean kylkesi. Kaluni päätti laueta kalsareihin, mistä sait aiheen ruveta hihittämään ilkikurisesti. Päätin rangaista tästä jompaakumpaa, kaluani tai pilluasi. Päädyin valitsemaan molemmat.

Tartuin toimeen ja sitten hameeseesi. Vedin kaikki vaatteesi kumimatolle. Silmistäsi paistoi pelonsekainen himo. Kaluni ei ollut koskaan ollut toipunut niin nopeasti. Tiesit että olin valmis vaikka uskoin ettet koskaan antaisi anteeksi jos pakottaisin sinut ajattelemaan minua. “Sinä säälittävä mato”.

En murtunut tästä vaan kovetuin entisestään. Painoin taikanappiasi hellästi tupakansytyttimellä kunnes tajusin että se oli pois yhteisestä ajastamme. Vaihdoin otetta ja kuiskasin korvaasi “Et viitsisi antaa minun selviytyä tästä tästä voittajana?” Samalla olin ottanut kulauksen rohkaisevaa ja kaatanut sinut lasiini. Rintasi pullottivat revenneen toppisi lähellä. Asetuin niiden yläpuolelle kuin muinainen munainen Kolossus. “Palvo näitä kuin olisit saanut kohtauksen”, huusin lihasteni sykkiessä rytmikkäästi. Halusin koskettaa huuliasi mutta ne pelottivat paksuudellaan. Mistä olitkaan puhumassa? Kenties

It’s the kind of text that doesn’t really lose much on google translation (I cheated a bit by adding some words it missed):

I was a disco. I looked for someone you significantly. I took wizard hat from my backpack and gave it some characteristics friend. My friend showed me the meat of the mid-term mobile phone images. I started to become aroused.

I went towards you and decisive, albeit trembling steps. You saw from afar in my expression something that got your being frightened by a whisker. I reached a suitable speed to expel unwanted minions. Now it was time to listen to my loins invite.

Lift you into the air as the wrapping paper. You had always those damn garlic sweets. I carried you to the car. Grabbed the gear shift, and revealed your shirt hem milk white side. Decided to go off my dick underwear, where did you begin to rise giggle teasingly. I decided to punish this one, or my dick pussy. I decided to choose both.

I picked up the action and then your skirt. I pulled all the clothes in the rubber mat. Shining in your eyes the fear messy lust. My dick had never been recovered so quickly. You knew that I was ready even though I believed you’d never forgive if forcing you to think of me. “You pathetic worm.”

I do not fractured, but it harden even more. Your magic button gently pressed cigar-lighter until I realized that it was out of a common age. I changed the grip on your ear and whispered “You do not care to let me come out of this a winner here?” At the same time I took a sip of encouraging and knocked down you into my glass. Bulging breasts ruptured your top close. I settled above them as an ancient egg of Colossus. “Worship as you would have received such a scene,” yelled the muscles pulsing rhythmically. I wanted to touch your lips but they are scared thickness. Where were you all talking about? Perhaps

Opinionator 2000

Posted by – February 12, 2011

Election time is drawing near, and some candidate-evaluating applications have already popped up on the Internet. The previous election was actually the first one I was eligible to vote in, since I didn’t turn 18 quite in time for the 2003 one. Back in 2003 and again in 2007 I was very enthusiastic about the prospect, and played around endlessly with the online candidate-evaluation apps. Such fun! This time I wonder if I’ll be able to complete any of the app questionnaires, and feel practically harassed that I should decide to vote for a candidate.

What usually makes me give up in the questionnaires is some question I either have no idea about or that makes me feel like I have no right to have any opinion in the matter. Should Finland have more or fewer immigrants? Come on, you decide! Should Christian immigrants be preferred? (Yes, this was an actual question.) Should wages be lower or should the age for pension eligibility be raised? Should homosexuals be able to marry? Should the Finnish treasury be used to pay for the deficits of other European countries? Should capital gains tax be progressive? Should VAT and/or income tax be higher? All of a sudden I feel like some kind of a monster, contemplating where people should be allowed to live or what particular proportion of their income they should be allowed to keep, (and in what particular circumstance of which I have no understanding).

Of course it’s not me who is the monster, it’s the monster of democracy. When everyone decides together, those decisions gain a kind of mute violence that allows no boundaries to its right to dictate the course of human enterprise. I have to wonder what psychological sea-change came over me between than and know that I should no longer feel able or willing to have opinions on other peoples’ business. Maybe it’s a growing up thing.

Living standards

Posted by – February 12, 2011

I was mildly amused by a story about the contemporary Finnish play Puhdistus (Purge) being staged in New York. It was being put on for pennies in a small theatre for a fairly brief run. The director remarked that living standards in Finland, and especially Finnish theatre, must be high because a delegation of ten people was flying over and staying in hotels just to attend the first night (of no importance in New York terms).

(I don’t know will anyone not acquainted with Finnish cultural life get the humour here.)

Sex inequality observation of the day

Posted by – February 4, 2011

When I find an offer in my mailbox to fix our roof, remove snow from it or do a paint job, it’s always (or has been until now) from a man. There are surprisingly many. When I go to the office of a public authority to deal with something peripheral to my goals that I don’t really want but have to, I almost always talk to a woman about it. Perhaps one of the underlying reasons for my raging misogyny.

Are men the designated voluntary trade / doer -sex and women the designated coercive hassle / administrator / controller -sex? Obviously not, because the police and army are male, and the background decision-makers in everything are usually male too. But there’s something to this – perhaps not so much in the societal power -sense but the social psychology sense.