Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Night and Day

I just decided to tell you two things you could not live without knowing:

1) There are HUGE bunnies in Germany. Someone has suggested them to be sent to North Korea. I found this story when I googled "North Korea" today looking for a picture for the piece I put together, concerning May day politics. (I did not choose the monster rabbits pictured there, but for IStori, on the other hand, they are most suitable.)

2) The most expensive gadget in the world is a watch that does not tell the time. (Thanks for the hint, M.U.!)

Luxury watch that doesn't tell the time sells out
By Nick Pisa in Rome

A £150,000 watch that doesn’t even tell the time has sold out within hours of going on sale. The crocodile skin strap accessory, called “Day & Night”, is encrusted with sapphires and made from steel salvaged from the wreck of the Titanic. ISTORI: And you Swiss think that's supposed to be lucky material?

Its face is divided into two sections - a dark half to signify night and a lighter half to signify the day.

A limited number were made by Swiss manufacturers Romain Jerome and they sold out within 48 hours after being presented at a watch exhibition. The Brazilian footballer, Ronaldo, was given the first one. ISTORI: From whom did you get it – some fan of Inter Milan? (Ronaldo is playing with AC Milan.) --

They describe the timepiece as a “world unique - a watch that does not tell the time”.

“With no display for the hours, minutes or seconds the Day & Night offers a new way of measuring time, splitting the universe of time into two fundamentally opposing sections: day versus night.

“A new interpretation of time, an avant-garde approach that is different and even disturbing.”

Chief executive Yvan Arpa, said: “Anyone can buy a watch that shows time, but only a discerning customer can buy one that doesn’t.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Postman always rings. And sings.

This is a tribute the British culture and a present for Funnybunny. I have just had my two morning cups of coffee, read the paper and now checking out the news on web. We are still lazily in bed, Miss Funnybunny happily leaning on my shoulder, singing along the Postman Pat theme song.

A day could not begin in a more enjoyable way!

Ladies and gentlemen:
Postman Pat with Jess the Cat. *** Postimies Pate ja Jessi-kissa.

EDIT: How many times does a postman ring? See yourselves, the answer being most visible in the Finnish version.

...and this is a treasure. The same in Norwegian: "Postmann Pat med sin svarte-vite katt..." It works in a Scandinavian language, too, I must say. Edit: But the pictures lack all the other characters but Pat and Jess. Whysdat? Not in DDR...

Friday, April 18, 2008

London Book Fair 2008. Photo report.

So, here is the report I promised. Knowing there is a number of colleagues waiting for this, it's about time.

Should you like to see a bigger photo, please doubleclick the pic. (Or that's what you shoud do with Mac; I'm not sure if it works likewise with PC.)

But, before looking at these, you should read the short written report, which is just before this post under the title "Signs of an acceleration".

Landing soon. On an early morning flight from Helsinki.

Queensway tube station, the entrance just on my left hand side. Bayswater Road on the right, Queensway crossing. Kensington Park on the right on the other side of the Bayswater Road. Our hotel was a block away from this meeting point. Good neighbourhood with silent streets full of little hotels and some lively main streets, like Queensway, with shops, cafes, pubs, and reasonably cheap ethnic restaurants. My favourites: Lebanese, Persian and Thai kitchen. All those can be experiensed on Queensway. I am usually staying in Bayswater and have never regretted. (Two years before we were in Bloomsbury, a bit north from the Russell Square, and that was not a nice area late in the evening. Or at night, really.)

Earls Court. The fever pitch of book industry for these three days.

PEN Cafe. Take a look at the walls with important quotes. (Doubleclick, doubleclick, doubleclick.) I was so proud to be a PEN active.

... and I was not the only one interested in Freedom Of Speech.

* * * * *

Stinkies? How funny. I like the window decoration of this children's toy shop.

Apples being on their way – or cherries? Having spring around, aren't we.

A nice street in South Kensington, or "Ken". That's what I learned from a London-based Rankin novel.

Residence of the Finnish Ambassador.
One of the most expensive addresses in the world, Kensington Palace Gardens. (After the collapse of the West European banking we predicted with M.U. it might not be that high-priced any longer.)

Eros on Piccadilly Circus. Managed to get downtown, too!

* * * * *

Last year I was very angry with Boris Berezovsky. And as usual, took some photos of very warm London. Go though this link to the short update on LBF 2007.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Signs of an acceleration"?

I mean quite simply that I have begun to crack all over like an old jug – that my poor body, singular, unlovely, buffeted by too much history, subjected to drainage above and drainage below, mutilated by doors, brained by spittoons, has started coming apart at the seams. In short, I am literally disintegrating, slowly for the moment, although there are signs of an acceleration.

No, I'm not that bad. This was written by Salman Rushdie in his 1980's Booker Prize-winning Midnight's Children.

* * * * *

After arriving in London we immediately left for the biggest store belonging to the Waterstone's chain, but didn't take the quickest route. Walked from the Oxford Circus tube station instead. That gave us both an excuse and opportunity for some window-shopping on Regent Street. (And not just "window", sorry.)

There we bought some books – we are not supposed to buy any. Especially not me. But I just did not have anything to read, like I often tell Mr HP.

And then we admired some stationery. Sounds strange? Oh, business is business is business.

Mr HP noticed soon there is another book shop we should visit. "Kind of a small one". Hatchard's.

Founded in 1797. An official supplier of the Royal Family. Yeah right.

How the books were piled in very central positions, and they were signed, this made a great impression. Big names like Donna Leon, Jeffrey Archer... Not necessarily my cup of tea, but hey: signed.

I saw there was someone signing in the back and told Mr HP we must go and see an author in action. Besides me, no other audience around, by the way. Absolutely no-one around besides an agent, a PR woman, the shopkeeper, or some rep of very high level, and seemingly, a grandchild of the author.

After taking two steps towards the author's direction I came back, took a book, ran back and kindly asked Mr Salman Rushdie to sign one for me as well. So he did. As a result of this encounter I bought his newest, The Enchantress of Florence.

* * * * *

Now I regret I left my camera at work, so I can't download the photos I took. But the rest in brief:

I had breakfast with Tony Wood who works at the New Left Review. Invited him to Helsinki. I hope he'll come.

At the fair I saw friends and/or business acquaintances from Nigeria, Norway, France, Sweden, England, Scotland, Estonia, Turkey, USA, Canada and – well, Finland. Including some Finns who live in the UK now.

EDIT: At the fair Mr HP and I did some real work. Involving book trade and industry. Arts and crafts. Rights and agreements. But I won't bore you with the details now.

In the evening we visited the Finnish embassy, or actually, the Ambassador's residence and attended the reception for the literary community from the Nordic countries. The Residence is in Kensington Palace gardens. Nice neighbourhood, I dare to admit.

Afterwards I needed to catch up with a friend who works for Söderstöm's, a Finnish company publishing in Swedish.

I managed to listen to some discussions organised by the English PEN. There was even a "PEN Literary Cafe" for discussions on Freedom of Speech. Always full but with some luck and patience there was room.

That's enough for a three-day visit.

* * * * *

Sunday, April 13, 2008

... Calling To The Faraway Towns..."

I'm going here.

And here, as it was recommended by him.

And I am already thinking about visiting some sites worth seeing, belonging to this, too.

And will be meeting people in here, too, hopefully from other Nordic Countries as well – a Nordic Reception as it is.

In my iPod I have this, too. As usual.

An update en route, look forward to that.

Monday, April 07, 2008

"I am calling you, president Bush..."

The following has also been published in Herald Tribune, titled as "Confront to Kremlin".

Because this is so very important, and as I am very, very busy now with a lot of writing for my work, I just add this here.

I can't help thinking it is so sad to appeal to Bush, the great inventor and launcher of the stupidities like "the Axis Of Evil" and "War Against Terrorism", since he handed those total bullshit-like definements to Putin like gifts on a plate. Very useful for Putin's equally stupid rhetorics against Chechnya, they were.

* * * * *

(Oksana Chelysheva's text beginning from here.)

As President George W. Bush prepares to meet with President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dimitry Medvedev in Sochi on Sunday (6 April), I hope he will remember the pledge he made in his second inaugural address in 2005. In that memorable speech, he promised that the United States would not ignore oppression and that it would stand with those who stand for liberty.

Thousands of Russians like myself have been speaking out and standing up for liberty and paying a heavy price. Some of us, like Anna Politkovskaya, have paid the ultimate price. The rest of us have suffered threats, defamation in the media, physical assault, fabricated prosecution and interference or obstruction of our work.

We hope that Bush will not excuse our oppressors, who act in the name of Putin.

There used to be a time when reforms announced in Russia promised to empower citizens and take Russia on a democratic path. Many people inside Russia and abroad wanted to believe it.

What reality do we face now? Freedom of speech in Russia has been curtailed to the size of a poppy seed. The Kremlin has allowed the existence of a few independent media outlets as a cover for its systematic destruction of free journalism. Political prisoners are becoming a common reality: Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Yukos prisoners; scientists accused of espionage; Muslims, many of whom have been accused of supporting extremism only because they practice their religion; people in Russian cities who dare to take to the streets in hope that their voices will be heard. They are being beaten up by baton-wielding police. They are being taken into custody. They are being charged with absurd accusations of assaulting the police force. They are being subjected to enforced psychiatric treatment.

The last two election campaigns in Russia, both parliamentary and presidential, were nothing but a mockery. The main purpose of our elections has been to secure the authoritarian regime that is being created in Russia.

The situation in my home town of Nizhny Novgorod, the third biggest city in Russia, located some 300 miles from Moscow, is a perfect example of the real face of the Kremlin. It started with persecution of our small human right group, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society that was closed down in January 2007. It continued with breaking up peaceful protests during the Marches of Dissent in March. The authorities deployed 20,000 police and military troops against an expected 2,000 protesters.

In August 2007, the police raided the offices of our new Russian organization, the Foundation to Promote Tolerance, and the Nizhny Novgorod edition of the newspaper, Novaya Gazeta and confiscated all the computers. In October 2007, they disrupted our attempt to hold a meeting in memory of Anna Politkovskaya. They even detained foreign guests who dared to come to the city.

The repression continues. On March 20, the police carried out simultaneous searches in the homes of some 20 residents of Nizhny Novgorod and the region as well as in the office of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance. They have again confiscated all equipment, including cell phones and DVD players, claiming that they are combating extremism.

Dozens of grave crimes against the peaceful citizens of our country have remained anonymous and unaccounted for.

We are guilty of electing a president who, in the words of a group representing the victims of the 2004 Beslan tragedy, solves his problems by using tanks, flame-throwers and gas.

But it is not our fault that the political elite of the world gives uncritical support to our president. I hope that Bush will not join them.

A few weeks ago, I was in Prague meeting with Vaclav Havel and dissidents from around the world. Havel understands that those who stand up for liberty in Putin's Russia are engaged in the same struggle as dissidents in Cuba, Burma, Iran, or North Korea, countries that Bush has found easy to criticize in public for their violations of human rights. Will he do less for us when he visits Russia?

We are committed to human rights and non-violence. We stand for liberty, but we suffer oppression from our government. Unfortunately, the Russian authorities seem determined to make an example of us, presumably to intimidate others who share our views so that they think twice before speaking out.

I am calling on you, President Bush, not to avert your eyes from the many Russian citizens in Grozny, Nasran, Beslan, Volgodonsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Murmansk, and Saint Petersburg who feel neglected and ignored in both their protests and suffering. Please stand with us as you meet with our oppressor.

Oksana Chelysheva, a Russian journalist, is the director of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation for the Promotion of Tolerance and a spokeswoman for the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I'm waiting. Please hurry up now.

The building of Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland is the white one (actually, it's yellow), on the island of Katajanokka, Helsinki. The painter of this picture must be standing on Tervasaari.(Tjärholmen in Swedish, Tar island).

I proudly state I have not sent 200 sms to any stripper. (Unlike Mr Ilkka Kanerva, who is soon to resign as a Minister for Foreign Affairs, see here.)

So I am most willing to start as the newest Minister for Foreign Affairs.

I have travelled and know a fact or two about these businesses. (... not too many more, but hey, nobody's perfect.)

Like Mr Kanerva, I also love sports, especially football. I would boycott the Opening Ceremony of the next Olympics (unless Dalai Lama would tell me not to), but would enthusiatically attend the Football cups, both the European and the World Cup, and even African Cup and Copa Americana, should you so wish.

I'd also like to meet with Dalai Lama, my utmost political hero (alive).

Dear head of state Matti Vanhanen, please do ask me quickly, I am a very busy woman.