Monday, April 23, 2007

Khanti-Mansiisk. Oil like in Arabia. With a touch of Finnish design.

This does not look very Finnish to me... The photo is from a Russian oil field, probably but not necessarily from Khanti-Mansiisk.

Ever fancied being an oil billionaire, a tycoon controlling the huge delta with oil pumps popping up from the ground like mushrooms? Well, come to think of it, eh... Yes, I would spend some extra to the human rights works, for sure.

But our relatives, the Fenno-Ugrien people in Khanti-Mansiisk live on oil. Literally. Above it. But they do not profit from it, and neither would they even want to. They are simple nomads with small, rural villages, valuing their simple lifestyles. But their ancient culture is under a great threat.

This is part of the article recently publish in the Globalist, written by Anatol Lieven:

(quote starts) ...

Come to think of it, the whole of the immense apparatus of the Russian state — with its nuclear arsenal, still-powerful army, public services, giant bureaucracy, vast and overstretched transport network and geopolitical influence — could be described as a huge inverted pyramid whose tip rests on Khanti-Mansiisk.

How could that be? Well in 2005, Khanti-Mansiisk produced 267 million tons of oil, or 57% of Russia’s total production: If it were an independent state, it would have 7.5% of the world’s oil production, second only to Saudi Arabia. With about 1% of Russia’s population, the region contributed 22.7% of the total tax revenues of the Russian Federation.

Khanti-Mansiisk is therefore one of the spots on the earth through which flows the indispensable life-giving heroin, called oil, that permeates the present world economy.

Foreign appearance

It flows similarly through the Persian Gulf, the Niger Delta — or, in smaller ways, the North Sea and the bayous of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. This raised an interesting question in my mind: When it comes to the things that make life worth living for the people who live there, where to place Khanti-Mansiisk on that spectrum?

The town of Khanti-Mansiisk itself looks like a small, very prosperous town in Finland. That is the case for a very good reason — to a considerable extent, Finns built it. When the regional authorities in recent years gained a greater share of their region’s immense revenues, they decided to turn their small capital into a magnificent regional showcase.

Finnish influences

They chose mainly Finnish firms to do this, partly because of the excellence of Finnish design, partly because of a desire to create a regional style with references to the Finno-Ugric origins of the Khanti and Mansy. Those peoples have given the region its name and autonomous status.

(end of quote)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dalai Lama's soulmate

In the blog of Accidental Russophile there was this interesting political test.

As it said, "There's abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left', established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape. For example, who are the 'conservatives' in today's Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher?
On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can't explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as 'right-wingers', yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook."

And, where does IStori stand, you are wondering?

Where Dalai Lama is, of course. (YES! And YES, I did take the test.)

Marches. Class B actors. Crazy, dangerous Russia.

A friend and a respected human rights specialist, journalist Oksana Chelysheva wrote in the Guardian a most interesting comment on the latest developments in Russia.

* People marching for freedom.

* Thousands of policemen and OMON men beating them up, hospitalising activists.

* Putin meeting with a class B actor Jean-Claude van Damme, instead of paying attention in public to what was taking place in Moscow. (What was he doing in Russia, anyway?!? Judoka-Putin is a fan of his, or what?)

* Putin crazy after the Orange revolution in Ukraine!

I have written about Chelysheva earlier, about her office and a newspaper in Nizhny Novgorod being raided, see here.

Things are getting grotesque there. But are the protesters really gaining power?

If the response (from Kremlin) is so huge and violent, I am beginning to think the forces for freedom are getting more and more substantial, day by day.


A big part of Oksana's text:

I want my daughter to live in the Russia that I love and admire. That's the Russia of great culture and beautiful nature. It is not Putin's Russia that has alienated the countries of the free world, while cherishing allies from Hamas, Syria and North Korea. I feel furious with the Kremlin's arrogant certainty that we are just a herd who need to have a shepherd. I have participated in the marches to feel and become free.

In Nizhny Novgorod on March 24 the authorities demonstrated their readiness to apply force against peaceful protesters. Police helicopters barraged the city. Armoured personnel carriers drove into the yard of a kindergarten. Some 20,000 heavily-armed soldiers and Omon servicemen from 10 regions of Russia set against possibly 1,000 protesters. There was no march but they stirred up people's anger.

In Moscow on April 14 the number of soldiers and Omon was less: some 9,000. But the level of the authorities' fear seemed far greater. They missed our marching column because they drew all their forces into Pushkinskaya Square and Tverskaya Street. They were so paranoid about another "orange" revolution that they focused all their attentions on blocking the way to Manezhnaya Square and the Kremlin ... And cleared our way towards Turgenev Square, the site of the authorised rally.

But when an animal is wounded, it becomes 10 times more dangerous. The Omon began to chase people and beat them up. Many were injured. I went to hospital after being injured by an Omon serviceman's kick to be told that I was the 54th protester to arrive there that day.

St Petersburg the following day was even more horrific. The authorities overrode an order restricting the Omon to threatening people with batons. A number of demonstrators were subsequently hospitalised.

What was President Putin doing that spring weekend? He left Moscow for St Petersburg while his "valorous" Omon were beating people in Moscow. He spent the day in the company of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The white marble of Van Damme's teeth looked even brighter against Putin's black shirt and pale face. It seems that Putin is really trying to cope with the deep psychological injury caused by the victory of the "orange" movement in Ukraine by demonstrating an absolute neglect of the basic norms of democracy.

(end of quote)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Exhausted. Looking forward to the summer of 2008.

This is Vienna, my town of 2008!

Today Miss Funnybunny and I went to a huge shopping mall in Eastern Helsinki.

Why an earth did we do that? That's what I was wondering when we walked home with a lot of heavy groceries, loud crying (<= Miss F.) and (my) painful back and feet.

But we like the Helsinki metro, ice cream, shopping cheap computer hardware and carousels, and of course, there is one. And we met a friend there.

But I am so very tired. I haven't got enough rest after London, and Miss Funnybunny is making me crazy by being rebellious, misbehaving and difficult, like a huge, nearly three-year-old, spoiled drama queen.

No, to tell you the truth, she is wonderful, for most of the time. But it is just a fact that nearly three-year-olds do tricky things to their mothers. Like they always say "no" to anything. And cry if they don't get their will. And cry even when everything is done according to their wishes. And leave forks on the floor causing their mothers, by accident to step on one. (I got it away immediately, but there was blood everywhere, and I am limping a bit. No real harm done. Just that it made me even more tired.)

And, when being at granny's, she had been just perfect: happy, cute, nice, polite, obedient... Everything she has not been with me today. Or yesterday, or day before that...

How do single parents survive? Beats me.

At times like these, I flip through Petite Anglaise's excellent blog and check out how her Tadpole is doing.


And then, to make my agony worse, some brain-dead idiot has designed this weekends movie schedules on TV. There are three (3!) Tom Cruise films on TV, can you believe it?!?! One of the worst ever is on right now.


So, why Vienna?

Only 412 days, 21 hours and 16 minutes to... this! And I will be there in Vienna!

Never seen that city. But I have liked Austria a lot: Salzburg and the Alps are great, been there years ago.

OH YES, very important things to add: Miss Funnybunny will be travelling with me, and so does Mr HP, and many friends of ours. Lovely, lovely Vienna!


PS. About the tragedy at Virginia Tech, a funny and clever blogger, Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry, put it bluntly, and I agree:

... The idea is that if one of the Virginia Tech students (other than the killer) had had a gun with him, he could have come to the rescue like Dick Dauntless, and shot the Korean.

Well that’s true. But what if 300 students had guns, and they were all on the look-out for a student with a gun? I’m failing to see the genius of this plan, though no doubt I’ve overlooked something obvious.

(Hey. Was the "300 students" referring to Frank Miller's 300? Perhaps not...)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Greetings from London. A stupid man.

IStori visited London briefly. Went to the London International Book Fair.

And to Notting Hill, Portobello Road.

And enjoyed a carousel by the London Eye.

And I met a friend to whom I complained Boris Berezovsky being so very, incredibly stupid, STUPID man when he said he is plotting a revolution in Russia. His words exactly, accroding to the Guardian: "We need to use force to change this regime. It isn't possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force, pressure."

So it might get violent? That's how his careless utterings were interpreted anyway. He put many human rights activists at risk. He (my friend, not Berezovsky) agreed.

Now the hysteric oligarks and the men in black at Kremlin can (and probably will) accuse anybody of taking money from Berezovsky. Gee. Anybody.

At night I checked in an early morning flight holding the laptop on a trash can – the net connection in our hotel cost money, which was ridiculous. Outside there were several free connections. But no benches.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Warps and work

Yes, it is true, we do have an MP who has translated his pages into Klingon! I think this means our country is very friendly to aliens.

And, I have a friend the blog of whom is called Phaser, Vaiheinen. (But guess who's idea that name was!) Do you know what a phaser is? Should you have forgotten, check out the Memory Alpha pages.

Remember the warp drive? And warp factors? (Poimukertoimet!)

And if you visit this MP's (Mr. Jyrki Kasvi's) web pages – which I highly recommend you do – do not fail to read the comments (below the presentation): "If I were a Finn I would vote for you". They are hilarious!

An example: Dude - you are entirely too sensitive to be a KLINGON. Where's the old 'Any day is a good day to die' attitude? Let's go choke a targ for fun! (best wishes) Brian in Kansas, USA

The Klingons and Spartans, they sure have a lot in common. Go and see 300.


Miss Funnybunny has a job: she must play with Tove's cat Sandra while Tove is in London.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter! Pasha, blinys and 300.

Miss Funnybunny made that beautiful Easter birdie card, with her palm. Miss Funnybunny is at her grandparents' with Mr HP, and I miss them terribly. (But I could not go, had just too much to do. And I will be travelling soon, too, in London, and Milan...)

Pasha on the table was made by a friend and neighbour MT. Thanks! What a lovely Easter surprise.

The pumpkins around the pasha are marsmallows. Not self-made, no.

And yesterday I went downtown, to the Southern part of Helsinki, Ullanlinna.

LH and I celebrated Easter (a bit in advance), and ate blinys with caviar (roe, actually), mushrooms, onions, pickled cucumber (Russian style! the best in the world), smetana and honey. And drank Siberian beer.


Easter is about dying. And yes yes, about resurrection, but I do not understand what that means. I have thought a lot about dying recently. Last year my friends and I lost some significant people, significant to us: friends, members of our families, people we wished we had known better.

But we all will die. Do I understand it? I am not sure, but I am perhaps getting closer to understanding that, since I get older and older. No healthy 25-year-old can really understand dying. But closer to 40's one starts thinking about health and good food and exercising and buying anti-wrinkle creams and all that horrible stuff the markets are cheating us with.


To shake and stir the theological thoughts I went to see an excellent movie. Wow, that was something!


It was so good. My friend VT and I had to choose out of many films: the newest Bond, Pan's Labyrinth (still would like to see that one), Goya's Ghosts (a new Milos Forman, can you believe that?) and Quelques jours en septembre (my being a huge fan of la Binoche).

Luckily there was a bunch of films I would never go and see, like The Queen (WHY on earth would anyone want to see a film about one of the most boring women on earth?????! And don't give me that crap about Helen Mirren being so good. Yes, she certainly is, but in Finland we get to watch Tennyson series on TV, and she is so good in there, too), Music And Lyrics (Usch.), and so on.

But 300 was so good.

Frank Miller is a genius. He is a wizard of graphic arts. He is a master of storytelling. It was so beautiful. It was pure, wonderful visual pleasure.

About the body count... You can start with 300. But the film was not just about war and killing. It was about the long threads of people. I am not interested in ancestors or family histories, but I am very interested in major historical turning points and the ugly start of our so-called civilisation.

300 is about intrigue and passion. About immortality that does exist on earth. About rough life so hard that dying is not scary but a gate to the free world. About moral stronger than the words of useless gods, and stronger than the words of the sinful and corrupt priests. About loyalty to the pricelessly valuable person by your side.

About stories larger than life.

(I must get a rental 300 DVD once it's out. Or actually, I may have to buy the film. Oh, what the h***. I will go and see it in a theater again.)

Challenge. Our beautiful language.

Ok, so there is the first meme in IStori. I have been challenged by Ajatusten Rekolanoja ("The Rekolanoja of Thought", Rekolanoja being a small river in the north of Helsinki, in Vantaa.)

I will answer in both English and in the loveliest, most beautiful language in the world, my mother tongue, Finnish.

1. Five of my favourite words (no names allowed):
* Mother, love, happy, baby, girl

2. Phonetically the most beautiful word:
* Love

3. Five words I use most (at work, home, wherever):
* No, yes, please, must, and

4. A saying, proverb or aphorism that means a lot to me:
* A friend in need is a friend indeed.

5. Five words I hate:
* Rape, puke, attack, torture, bomb

6. A saying that should be replaced by something new:
Axis of evil.

7. The word I would like to hear more often:
* Love.

8. A modern word I have learned most recently:
* Meme.

1. Viisi suomenkielistä lempisanaani (ei kuitenkaan erisnimiä tai paikannimiä tms.):
* Äiti, rakas, pieni, tyttö, sinä

2. Suomen kielen sana, joka on mielestäni äänteellisesti kaunein:
* yö

3. Viisi sanaa, joita tulen käyttäneeksi eniten työssä, arjessa tms.:
* ei, joo, mä, hyvä, ja

4. Sanonta, sananlasku tai aforismi, joka merkitsee minulle eniten:
* Hädässä ystävä tunnetaan.

5. Viisi suomenkielistä sanaa, joita eniten inhoan:
* Sota, raiskaus, kidutus, pommi, toimesta

6. Puhkikulunut fraasi, jonka tilalle pitäisi keksiä jotain uutta:
* Helppoa kuin lapsen lyöminen.

7. Sana, jonka haluaisin kuulla useammin:
* Kulta. (Ihanin yhdyssana: äitikulta)

8. Uusin nykykielen sana, jonka olen oppinut:
* Meemi.


Ok, I will send the challenge now to Vaiheinen, a., Avaruusajan päiväunelmia, Kristiina Koivunen, Mohammed Umar, Mane the Mean, Hinkstoona and Arjentola. Kristiina and Mane will be blogging in English.

And, to have someone thinking spectacular words in Swedish, I will count on TN and NEF.

Ready, steady, go!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

IStori becoming insider

Due to the moth-eaten and boring political atmosphere in Finland, as I have been complaining, and extremely expensive living costs, Mr HP and I have decided to move to our family datcha, to Svetogorsk.

So, soon IStori will be blogging from the generous Slavic territory, with a deep inside view into the Russian politics.

I was very much encouraged by La Russophobe. After reading her blog I felt I just have to contribute. Dosvidanya!

Parliament, nukes and NATO

Here comes the sun...

This is how it has been officially put, according to the pages of the Finnish Parliament, Eduskunta:

In Finland sovereign power lies with the people represented by the Parliament in session.


When the Finnish Parliament adopted the Declaration of the Independence of Finland on 6 December 1917, the new state already had a rich national culture and centuries of experience in managing its own affairs. The makings of an independent nation derived partly from the times of Swedish rule (from the 12th Century until 1809) and especially from the period when Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire (from 1809 until 1917).

Parliamentary elections results, 2007

Number of seats in Parliament
Centre Party Parliamentary Group: 51 (-4 from 2003 elections)
National Coalition Party Parliamentary Group: 50 (+10)
Social Democratic Party Parliamentary Group: 45 (-8)
Left Alliance Parliamentary Group: 17 (-2)
Green Parliamentary Group: 15 (+1)
Christian Democratic Parliamentary Group: 7 (same as 2003 elections)
Swedish Parliamentary Group: 9 (+1)
True Finns Party Parliamentary Group: 5 (+2)


Soon we Finns are trying to find solutions to difficult questions. I have not been able to find out any solution to this one:

To which planet should we send the old-fashioned, senile officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry? Them, who openly support the expensive and hazardous nuclear industry, opposing all the sensible ideas (like increasing usage of bioenergy + wind, solar), and who keep repeating like blind dinosauruses that more and more electricity is needed. As if it would not be a matter of politics.

Listen, you decisionmakers both in the relevant ministries and in our parliament: You guys can actually conduct these things by political decisions. Really. There is enough technology for both slowing down the climate change, and producing heat and power. And good technology; clean, safe, and productive. But what is lacking is political will. Prove me wrong, please.

The second problem is the NATO. I have earlier referred to that question comparing it to jack-in-the-box. And, what was the problem again?

I just don't like the idea of sending Finnish military forces (= young men and women) anywhere, to any military organisation, or let alone, to a military operation led and run by the USA, together with its axis of best friends, or however George W. and Condoleezza would put it.

Well, would we have to send our kids anywhere?

Yes, that could actually happen. This is how the FAQ at the NATO pages put it:

Q: What does NATO do?

A: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an alliance of 26 countries from North America and Europe committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on 4 April 1949. In accordance with the Treaty, the fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means. NATO is playing an increasingly important role in crisis management and peacekeeping. (--)

Q: Does NATO have its own armed forces?

A: All member countries that participate in the military aspect of the Alliance contribute forces and equipment, which together constitute the integrated military structure of the Alliance. These forces and assets remain under national command and control until a time when they are required by NATO a specific purpose (i.e. conflict or crisis, peacekeeping). (--)

Good luck. To all of us.