Music: A Finnish Preoccupation

KUHMO -- Finnish parents can send their children to a state-sponsored music institute at any time after they are eight months old. Day care centers here have music classes and a stock of kids' musical instruments. Every Finnish school offers music, and every student takes music classes through the seventh grade.

Partly as a result of all this, Finland has "the best audience for music in the world." Well, that's what we heard from Jukka Valtisaari, Finland's ambassador to the United States, who urged us to pay attention to Finnish musical education when we talked to him in Washington before we left on this trip. He also gave us a list of the summer music festivals we might be able to visit. It was a very long list. Unfortunately, the festivals all begin after our journey ends next month.

One of them, a renowned chamber music festival, will be held here in Kuhmo in the second half of July, as it has been for years. Kuhmo is nearly 400 miles northeast of Helsinki. One of its closest neighbors is Petrozavodsk in Russian Karelia, just across the border. Kuhmo and Petrozavodsk share a joint youth orchestra.


The concert hall in Kuhmo, Finland, was designed by Matti Heikkinen and was built by local carpenters using pine wood from area forests.
View Enlarged Photo

Improbably, this small and shrinking town (population about 10,000) has one of the handsomest concert halls I have ever seen. Designed by a Finn named Matti Heikkinen, its grand auditorium is a towering cathedral of pine paneling shaped in waves along the walls. Pine boards cover 95 percent of the walls and all of the ceiling. The acoustics are startlingly good.

This luxurious piece of modern architecture sits beside a large lake, and Heikkinen used expansive panels of glass to bring the Finnish landscape into one end of the vast lobby area, where a restaurant is located. Just walking around inside is an exhilarating experience.

The Kuhmo Arts Center is also the year-round home of the town's Music Institute, a typical Finnish music opisto [institute or academy are rough English translations]. It is institutions such as this one that train that great Finnish music audience.

Kuhma's may have the most luxurious quarters of any music opisto in the country, but others exist in nearly every town this large or larger, according to Pekka Huttu-Hiltunen, 50, the director here.

The institute's services are available to any kid in town who wants to work on music. About 10 percent of the eligible age group does attend, Huttu-Hiltunen said. A family pays about $425 a year to enroll a child. The youngster typically has one private lesson in his or her instrument every week, one or two classes in music theory, and a lesson with a group, from a rock band to a string quartet or chamber orchestra.

Kids who are serious about their music might spend a couple of hours here every day, the director said, practicing or just hanging out. The institute has a full-time staff of a dozen, several of them noted professional performers in their own right. There are also some part-time teachers. The full-timers earn salaries of $2,500 to $3,800 a month, a little less than the earnings of Finland's revered schoolteachers. One teacher on the faculty lives in Tampere, hundreds of miles away. He teaches Kuhmo's one double-bass player by computer and ISDN line, using a huge HDTV screen and fancy loudspeakers. The institute is elaborately equipped.

The opistos are a good example of Finland's many civic luxuries. This one was built with money from the national and local governments, and with funds raised by local citizens. Most of the seats in the main concert hall have nameplates on them, the old American trick for raising private funds for such establishments.

Kuhmo's taxpayers have subsidized the hall since it opened in 1993. But according to Matti-Jussi Pollari, managing director of the facility, local citizens realize that it brings substantial benefits to the community, especially when thousands of spectators show up for the chamber music festival.


Veeraleeni Vayronen, right, and Sanna Klemetti, left, perform an originally composed song.
View Enlarged Photo

Pollari arranged for an unusual concert for Lucian and me, so we could hear the hall's acoustics and also see some of the local youngsters in action. I urge you to look at the slideshow of Lucian's photos that accompanies this entry in the Diary, and also to listen to its soundtrack.

There you will hear a performance by a group of teenagers who recently put on their own musical here. They performed some of the music for us. We interviewed them after they played, and like many of the Finns we have talked to, they were friendly but shy, and anything but loquacious. This, Finns say, is a national characteristic.

I asked the composer of the music, a 17-year-old redhead named Veeraleeni Vayrynen, if she could explain the role of music in Finnish society. She thought about it for a moment, and said: "I think [music] has been the only way to express your feelings, because we are a very silent people."

By Robert G. Kaiser |  May 27, 2005; 1:35 PM ET  | Category:  Culture
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Hah. I live there.

Posted by: BLH | May 27, 2005 02:15 PM

All kids can learn music? I would say it's not complete truth. No matter how enthusiastic and talented you are - at some cities it's nearly impossible to find teachers and to get accepted to music schools. Many people can not even afford fees and buying an instrument. I myself was the fortunate one, and had no other hobby besides music. Living in a smaller city was also a blessing. Now struggling to to find a path for decent teaching for own kids is difficult. So much for the musical wonders and oppoturnities!

Posted by: Marja | May 27, 2005 03:11 PM

Learning music is about learning to listen - and at least when I was in elementary school in Kajaani (a town with population of 35 000 not too far from Kuhmo), I learnt to listen to music in school. Different kinds of music, from classical to ultra-modern.
I was fortunate to be selected to a special music class (a group of children that had more music lessons than others and who learnt to play some instrument while studying) when I was on third grade, but did not appreciate that when I was about ten years old. The result? I became an engineer. And yes, I used to work for Nokia for a while... OK, but I had the chance to aim for something more interesting than technology career.

Posted by: Sami | May 27, 2005 03:48 PM

Almost all Finnish names in your reports are miss spelled, and often in forms that are alien to the Finnish language..

Posted by: Visitor | May 27, 2005 04:12 PM

I am so glad you have written about music in Finnish life! It is a part of the Finnish soul, their spirit. Young, old, in between, all Finns seem to have this special connection to music. Their music is eclectic - rock, heavy metal, symphonic, folk, you name it, they have it. The nature, the music, the people are all one in a dance of the human spirit. Through my observations, they each have a unique dance to share with the world. Kiitos paljon!

Posted by: Karen "Lulu" Foley | May 27, 2005 04:19 PM

No wonder all of my favourite bands - from HIM, Amorphis to Nightwish - come from this country! Keep up the excellent educational system.

Posted by: hs | May 27, 2005 04:53 PM

Yeap, some of those names are indeed a bit misspelled. But the Finnish language being what it is and sounding how it does to an English person, I'd wager they're doing a reasonably good job with them. After all - and this is not meant as an insult by any means - how many of us Finns could manage to write Chinese, Japanese or Muslim names correctly?

I think you reporters are doing a good job, and your articles are interesting - as is the whole idea of this journey to come here to the Northern wastes of Europe. Well, wastes and wastes... Anyway, keep up the good work!

Posted by: H.M. | May 27, 2005 05:02 PM

Don't forget Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius when talking about bands.

Posted by: Visitor | May 27, 2005 05:07 PM

One of the first things I was told to do when I started my job as a journalist was to "always, always double check the spelling of names and numbers".

Maybe Finns are a bit too concerned at the accuracy of the spelling and grammar, but I think there is a certain amount of professional pride in being able to spell things right when you are a journalist and you are writing people's names. People don't usually like their names being misspelled.

Posted by: Anne | May 27, 2005 05:36 PM

I can believe this music-teaching scenario may come true in Kuhmo, which has adopted music as its trademark and main tourist attraction, and in some bigger cities, but certainly not everywhere and for everybody.

Then a comment on Finnish people being Extremely Silent, a definition which is really starting to annoy me. I think this assumption is at least partly a bias caused by the fact that evaluators expect Finns to be talkative in a foreign language and we Finns are just repeating what the language-handicapped outsiders have observed, "we poor Finns are so quiet". Based on personal observations, Finns in their native language are as talkative as any western population; variation among individuals, and regions naturally may be wide. Even though I have years of english-speaking experience I still struggle to find words in situations that I know wouldn't require any conscious effort in Finnish and this shapes my image abroad to be very different from that at home. I would like to see how talkative americans/british/french etc. would be in Finnish or any language totally different from their own. Unfortunately I haven't met many that could provide a sample for this study. Those few foreigners that I see in Finland and know some Finnish quite often just remain silent unless they are asked a question. I wonder if this behavior means they have some amount of silent Finnish blood in their veins or that they just find it difficult to communicate in foreign language?

..What comes to writing Finnish names correctly, most of the alfabets are the same as in English (in contrast to chinese or arabic) and it only takes little effort to ask the interviewees to write down their names and the name of the city that you are dealing with + checking the consistency of spelling after the story is complete. The accuracy has improved along the road. Thanks for the good series.

Posted by: Kottarainen | May 27, 2005 05:45 PM

Kottarainen does bring a new perspective into play, the reason for this lack of small talk in my opinion is due to the geography of Finland. Few people and lots of space in between, with the exception in the south. With this is mind it makes sense to cut to the chase and get whatever needs to be done, this is my logic and I'm sure most of you will either completely ignore it as is the case usually.

About the correct spelling of names in Finnish, this is very important in the language, point one being the meaning of words can ben changed into something completely different when even 1 letter is changed. Second of all, it is unpleasant having to see something and then guess whether it is something you think it is, or something different.

Describing a Finn as extremely silent is exaggeration, we do speak when there is something to be said, otherwise the useless babble is left out. Reversing this to foreigners, it turns out they are very unlikely to bother learning Finnish, that seriously impairs the ability to somehow have a balanced comparison. I understand the fact that Finnish is found to be extremely difficult in terms of knowing the grammer, however it is much more easier to learn from the grassroots, ask people how do you say this or that. It is very clear when someone puts the effort into learning, plus it breaks the ice very effectively.

Posted by: J. Kokkarinen | May 27, 2005 06:18 PM

It is, in mai opinjon, äpaut tö seim tihvikulti voor ö vinnishö pöösön tu löörn inklis, vööst juu niit tu löön hau tu ronauns it korrektli, and after that you have to figure out how the warped pronunciation goes hand in hand with the about as warped spelling... what do you mean they are spelt differently and sound the same!

But I still giggle on the "Kirkko Church" a bit.

Posted by: Hank W. | May 27, 2005 06:18 PM

Judging from the comments section on this blog, Finns are extremely talkative. They yammer on and on endlessly about themselves, their two languages, or how quiet and reticent and therefore superior to other people they are.

Posted by: Ann | May 27, 2005 07:12 PM

Ha! I'm a Finn and not at all quiet! Also, I don't drink coffee (get heart palpitations), don't drink milk (yuk!), don't know how to Tango and hate ice hockey. But I am a Finn! Oh, and I agree that music moves me, it's part of teh finnish heritage. Like all kids in my village, I played two instruments, played in orchastras and ensambles,and took music lessons every weekday night from age 6 until age 16. Wasn't especially talented, but could play "for house-need". Just part of the culture. Never realized knowing howto read music was something special until later in life.

Posted by: Proud finn | May 27, 2005 07:36 PM

Let the great reporters do their job without attacing at them. Personally I humbly listen to their analysis that is near enough of the realities of the country and its people.

Posted by: Kari Hermanson | May 27, 2005 08:37 PM

I don't know if Kari Hermanson's comment was aimed at my reply or just in general. I think this Blog is excellent, the reporting is right on and very refreshing. These reporters are doing a great job. However, I do think that the whole point with having an open forum is to spark replies. For Finns (and other) to come around and say "exactly!!!" or "no, no... that's not so...".Discussion is a good thing. None of the comments I read above are IMHO attacking the reporters, on the contrary, I think all the replies and the lively discussions are a testiment to what a great job they are doing. If they doing a bad job and if the blog was boring, then noone would care to write comments.

Posted by: Proud Finn | May 27, 2005 09:20 PM

Keep up the good work, guys,... I like this blog :)

Posted by: Just a random Finn | May 27, 2005 11:02 PM

Ann,

of course the Finns talk about themselves here, isn't that the whole point, this being on Finland and the Finns?!?! If this was about Sweden, all the Swedes would be here telling us what they are about and what makes them tick.

Posted by: K in New England | May 28, 2005 02:46 AM

I have to say I like to read this journey through Finland. It´s very interesting indeed to read how people from another nation and culture see and experience our country. Let´s not yap about spelling the names etc. I feel honored that someone has interests to learn about us and our small country. I´m disapppointed only about that I did´nt have opportunity to chat with these people when they visited Jyväskylä. =)

Posted by: A very interested reader | May 28, 2005 02:55 AM

"After all - and this is not meant as an insult by any means - how many of us Finns could manage to write Chinese, Japanese or Muslim names correctly?"

Most likely all of them. That's because Finns are not used to un-finnish names, and are anxious to get them right. My un-finnish name is always spelt correctly, exept the cases it has been asked on a telephone conversation :)

Posted by: mordechai | May 28, 2005 03:21 AM

People in US and Finland own the same open settler spirit. Therefore many visitors from US feel themselves familiar here in Finland even if the languages are quite different.

Posted by: Pekka | May 28, 2005 03:24 AM

"I would say it's not complete truth. No matter how enthusiastic and talented you are - at some cities"
--
And some dont learn no matter how long they wake up their late-working neigbors in apartment houses at 7 in the morning to practise.

Posted by: | May 28, 2005 04:04 AM

"I think this assumption is at least partly a bias caused by the fact that evaluators expect Finns to be talkative in a foreign language and we Finns are just repeating what the language-handicapped outsiders have observed, "we poor Finns are so quiet". "

We were countless of years under swedish rule. Talking was not allowed to the lowly Finns. Only in eastern finland there still are talkative people. Visit a pub there, people come talk to you. Visit a pub elsewhere, people sit quietly and drink.
The rule has resulted in some strange behavior, including quietness to the extreme in the company of foreigners (looking up to them, so waiting to be asked and allowed to talk)
-Someone in the first post commented like this:

--
"comparison to the situation in America would be more along the lines of comparing the Finn-Swedes to the Jews in America rather than to the Civil Movement and white supremists. At least the old myth of Jews controlling the market, banks, the universities, Hollywood, is similar to the myth of Finn-Swedes still being in control in Finland. "
--

To that I replied with this:

--
Well that is not only a little bit far-fetched.

Do the americans all have to learn about the Jewish culture and learn their language (or be thrown off school?)

Finns are still scared of the swedes (and viking) and do as they say. It is in the national psyche, politicians bow to them.

(Widely reported in media:)
When Adolf Hitler found Jews to be a lesser race, at the same time the Swedes found Finns (among others) to be a lesser race and themselves to be 100% aryan.
That was the official state line, the hatred coming from their most prestigious academics.

After the war they changed their mind and started calling Finns criminals (also locking up countless innocent Finns) and savages, but not a lessed race anymore. Speaking of Finnish on public places, such as schools, was forbidden. That was widely supported by the populace.

Before world wars the Swedes had occupied the whole country of Finland. Finns had to pay lots of tax and give lots of men for the king, to die in battlefields of europe. Lots of the noble men that came from Sweden, to raided land, were murderers etc.

Before the country existed, the viking made raids, robbing, stealing, raping.

There still lives descendants of the viking in Finland. Lots of the people of Åland, the island between Finland and Sweden you can see if take a ferry between the countries, which pretty much lives by selling tax-free alcohol on the ferries mostly owned by them (called viking and silja line) used to be pirates who lived by raiding passing ships.
--

"Ha! I'm a Finn and not at all quiet! Also, I don't drink coffee (get heart palpitations), don't drink milk (yuk!), don't know how to Tango and hate ice hockey. But I am a Finn!"

Well, me too, no coffee, no vodka, no milk, no tango, no ice-hockey. Yet I dont feel myself any different from others.

People do drink lots of coffee but nobody forces one to do that. I personally just dont like the taste.
I do drink beer (as do most, instead of vodka), watch Formula ones (as lots do), do not dance (in a small town, men do not dance that much), drink water instead of milk (quite common among adults) etc..

Posted by: Sad truth | May 28, 2005 04:39 AM

"Kuhmo's taxpayers have subsidized the hall since it opened in 1993. But according to Matti-Jussi Pollari, managing director of the facility, local citizens realize that it brings substantial benefits to the community,"

Never been to Kuhmo nor know where that is, but surely some there, too, disagree. Lots of people think one should first make sure the elderly have enough food and nurses in the old peoples homes and that everyone has a place to live in, before building such cultural - or sports - venues which are built for the elite.

In other towns, they close down libraries, used by most people in town and build such palaces as described in the article, to the ambitions of the few who decide.

Posted by: | May 28, 2005 04:46 AM

Hey Ann, you've got it all wrong. It's the French who think they are superior to everyone else, not the Finns. Yeah, the French - the Finns. I can see how you could get them mixed up. No, see, here in Finland think we are superior only to Swedish and Russians.

Posted by: Timo A | May 28, 2005 05:22 AM

"We were countless of years under swedish rule. Talking was not allowed to the lowly Finns."

I have never heard such a claim before. I think the Swedish elite did what the elite has always done: lived their lives separated from the ordinary people, only mingling with them to collect taxes or to recruit soldiers. Mostly the Finnish peasants were left alone. Sure there was some language oppression (Swedish courts, universities...).

"After the war they changed their mind and started calling Finns criminals (also locking up countless innocent Finns) and savages, but not a lessed race anymore. Speaking of Finnish on public places, such as schools, was forbidden. That was widely supported by the populace."

Again, I have never heard such a claim. How can you claim that a 5 % of the population can forbid talking a language in public places?

"Before world wars the Swedes had occupied the whole country of Finland."

You seem to forget the early years of independence 1917-1939 and Russian rule 1809-1917.


"Before the country existed, the viking made raids, robbing, stealing, raping."

According to the info I got, Vikings mostly traded with the Finns. Some Finns even joined them on their raids to other places.

If someone is interested in the history of Finland, they can read this article from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Finland

Posted by: Jaakko | May 28, 2005 05:32 AM

"How can you claim that a 5 % of the population can forbid talking a language in public places?"

It was the Swedes in Sweden that did just that to the minorities.
In Finland it used to be one had to learn Swedish to go to any school above the (currently ala-aste) small childrens level.

"Vikings mostly traded with the Finns. "

There was robberies, enslavement and wars. Finns lost. Viking wrote the history. Yet everywhere in Europe where people escaped to tell of them, the stories were similar. Raids, rapes, enslavement.

"Finland has "the best audience for music in the world.""

Many also like to sing themselves. But not so much in such official big happenings or concert halls.

Many sing in their local pub. Many pubs there is Karaoke every night. Some sing better than the well-known artists on TV and on CDs. Many, including me, sing like a corvus corene.

There are also huge tent meetings of religious people where they sing to praise their religious ..whatever. For example:
http://www.ecredo.fi/konferenssi/

Posted by: | May 28, 2005 05:58 AM

Corcus corone, that is.

Posted by: khraa | May 28, 2005 06:03 AM

Posted by: still wrong | May 28, 2005 06:04 AM

Its characteristic and funny to notice how many Finns are interested about this journey, blog and conversation.

This match very well to a elephant joke, which I heard years ago: "There were French, German and Finnish people, who all had to write a book about elephants. The French wrote a report about sexual life of the elephants, the Germans wrote a long 2-part book "A short introduction to the Anatomy of the Elephants" and the Finns wrote a book "What the elephants think about Finland"

PS. I am not much better, although have not red but few of the comments here.
And feel pity, that some activists have found also this forum for arguing about teaching Swedish language to Finnish people.
Maybe that is one reason, why we are so silent. We are afraid, that we lose our verbal fights. By the way, what is "jankutus" in English? It is a very typical Finnish way to discuss about issues, which we do not like. Repeating and repeating...

Posted by: a Finn | May 28, 2005 06:15 AM

"After the war they changed their mind and started calling Finns criminals (also locking up countless innocent Finns) and savages, but not a lessed race anymore. Speaking of Finnish on public places, such as schools, was forbidden. That was widely supported by the populace."

"Again, I have never heard such a claim. How can you claim that a 5 % of the population can forbid talking a language in public places?"

I think he ment in Sweden. There it was practically forbidden to speak Finnish in schools only a couple of decades back. Don´t really know if it´s a bit of an exaggeration but some say that teachers even hit the pupil they heard speaking Finnish. Anyway, forbidden it was.

And let´s remember very strong Finnish cultural heritage there, even nowadays you may get along with Finnish in Norrbotten. At least near border. BTW you´ve Got to visit Tornionjoki area! Tornio-Haaparanta may be the only ever peaceful borderline "double city" in the world (someone correct me if I´m wrong). They are even building a mutual city central. (Tornio is in Finland and Haaparanta [or Haparanda if you prefer] in Sweden; though they used to be one but when Sweden lost Finland to Russia the new border tore Tornio apart)

Posted by: Teemu | May 28, 2005 06:23 AM

"If this was about Sweden, all the Swedes would be here telling us what they are about and what makes them tick. "

You mean, the Swedes would be here droning on and on and boring us to death by arguing amongst themselves about whether the Finns and their language are evil or not, while comparing themselves to various American minorities whose history they obviously do not understand at all?

I hope the Washington Post spares us that embarrasment and finds somewhere non-Nordic to report from next time. I, for one, have had enough of the Finns.

Posted by: Ann | May 28, 2005 06:26 AM

I'm sorry, Ann, that we bored you. It should be noted that the relationships between the speakers of the two languages are great. However, there are complaiments about *having to know both of the languages* in order to graduate from high-school. Note, that as a speaker of four languages myself, I have nothing against learning languages. I do belong in another minority, but I don't expect that everybody would speak the my language.

Posted by: mordechai | May 28, 2005 07:12 AM

Ann,

Places like this "comments section", where anyone can post whatever non sequitur rants, on any subject they feel like, are best read selectively. Just skip the boring parts, or pass on reading the comments at all.

Posted by: Turnipsi | May 28, 2005 07:25 AM

Would you even try to write those names correctly?

Posted by: Henna | May 28, 2005 07:45 AM

Proud Finn's comments "Ha! I'm a Finn and not at all quiet! Also, I don't drink coffee (get heart palpitations), don't drink milk (yuk!), don't know how to Tango and hate ice hockey. But I am a Finn!"

Right on, there is no mold which everyone must conform to in order to be a "Finn", this is another misconception. Then again it applies everywhere, stereotyping is quite lethal if it gets out of hand, as in this case it makes a stereotypical finn seem a drunkard and abusive redneck. They exist yes, but they are a minority.

Thank you Ann for another enlightening comment, it just made my day.

Posted by: J. Kokkarinen | May 28, 2005 07:53 AM

When I was 5 years old I went to music opisto for a children's music group, where we sang, played different istruments and learned the basics of theory. All kids were accepted to these groups (called "musiikkileikkikoulu", in english musical playgroup) and we gathered once a week. When I was 7 years old I was accepted to be e real student in music opisto and I played violin as my solo instrument for 12 years but I also played piano, sang in a choir, played in a chamber orchestra and in a jazz orchestra.

However, music was only my dearest hobby and next year I'm going to graduate engineer (M. Sc in Tech). So tehcnology won this time! Nowadays I am playing violin in the university's chamber orchestra in Oulu.

Posted by: Jaana | May 28, 2005 08:33 AM

I hate ice hockey.
But I almost know how to tango.
And I drink coffee. Rarely, though.
And I think that milk tastes good.

This makes me a bit more Finnish than Proud Finn, right? :P

But the most Finnish characteristic I have is the stereotypical weak Finnish self esteem. Reading Ann's latest (not last, I hope!) comment made me feel horribly ashamed. I was almost going to post the address of a (nearly) good forum here, until I realised that letting the debaters invade it wouldn't be fair to the (nearly) well-mannered people who discuss there now.

I'm sorry, Ann.

And to the music thing, it being the real subject...

During the music lessons in school (not in a opisto, that is) (from the primary school to the high school) the main object of our studies wasn't Finnish music, in case someone thought so. In addition to studying, we even played a lot of American and British pop music. I think we enjoyed playing the same music ourselves that we heard everywhere, especially when we were young and weren't good musicians and were only able to play something very simple with drums and it felt like an incredible honour.

Posted by: | May 28, 2005 09:48 AM

Oh, Ann, oh please don't leave us. Give us another chance! Please, tell us what you would like to talk about? We are so sorry for boring you. I'm sure we'll be able to find something that you'd find interesting.

Posted by: Timo A | May 28, 2005 10:36 AM

It is inresting to read how people from other countries feel about Finland.

I also want to thank Robert on the nice words he has written about Finland and Lucien for extraordinary fine photos. During my holidays I have always travelled around Europe. After reading this blog, I have begun to think that next time I should probably discover my own country.

I also want to apologize Ann and other readers that some people here don't respect foreign readers and use this forum to argue with each other.

I hope that Robert and Lucien has time to visit my home town Rauma that has the largest medieval wooden city center in Finland. But after reading their articles so far, it seems that Finland has too many interesting places and they surely have no time to visit them all.

Posted by: Pertti | May 28, 2005 11:01 AM

All countries have music as an intrical part of their culture, do you guys think music is more or less important than the average country in the world?

From what I've experienced after living here is that music isn't as a big deal as in other parts of the world.

Sometimes it seems that the Finnish government only throws money at these music programs so Finland can "compete" in music worldwide and "look good" compared to the other countires. Is the government more interested in its people learning music or showing the globe that Finns excel in music?

- Phil
http://www.finlandforthought.net

Posted by: Phil | May 28, 2005 11:44 AM

It sure has been surprising how thoughout their journey has been. Education, popular culture, business, and now music has been discussed so far.

Basicly it seems, that with good and free education you end up having well-producting companies, which pay taxes, and then you can spend the tax-payers money into nice things, such as libraries and internet-connections, so that the all the people (not the richest or smartest) can come here and argue over non-essential matters in a language they learnt in their free schools and universities, and make fools of themselves.
I'm talking of myself :)

Posted by: mordechai | May 28, 2005 11:46 AM

Please, let me invite you to Etelä-Pohjanmaan Opisto in the center of Finland's summer festivals Ilmajoki. www.epopisto.fi We would love to have you and show you a little of an American's perspective to Finland. I am originally from Boston and I love where I live and work now. I can be reached at donald.jordan@epopisto.fi

Posted by: Donald Jordan | May 28, 2005 12:07 PM

"Is the government more interested in its people learning music or showing the globe that Finns excel in music?"

You don't obviously know much about the country you live in, and I get the feeling that you're not the most active listener of classical music, opera and such. Still you like to blabber a lot about things you don't know very well.

Posted by: User | May 28, 2005 12:43 PM

I don't know what Finnish metal band Sonata Arctica review does in punkrocks site, but the story about Finnish musical education answers to the question in the review "What's up with Finland? How can they churn out musicians that are so well-influenced, well-trained and just in general pretty awesome?":

http://www.punkrocks.net/display_review.php?id=621

Posted by: Visitor | May 28, 2005 12:46 PM

"All countries have music as an intrical part of their culture, do you guys think music is more or less important than the average country in the world?"

Phil, one could ask as well what's so typically american in democracy (which the US lacks), apple pie (that was eaten in Europe long before the North America was even found yet) or freedom (which is universal at least in the western world, and true freedom is more easily found elsewhere than in the US).

Following your logic, I could say that americans like to talk so much about freedom and democracy just to mask the lack of freedom and democracy in their own country.

Most of your questions are pointless and make you look like a bitter whiner who is never satisfied. It seems that you've learned the Finnish habit (which, in real life, exists more in your imagination and blog than in real life) of striking down people instead of being happy about their success. How about some positive comments for a change?

Posted by: amused | May 28, 2005 01:08 PM

Funny, I was just going to point out Ilmajoki music festival (mainly folk opera, just one of the dozens of music festivals) but Donald Jordan was quicker. I understand that it is an effort of both professionals and amateurs. Just like Kaustinen´s and Rääkkylä´s folk music festivals and many others. Savonlinna Opera festival, Pori Jazz and numerous rock festivals are not the only ones. The country is full of smaller festivals that just don´t get so much attention.

And no, Phil, government is not "showing the globe that Finns excel in music?" GOVERNMENT?

Posted by: Afinnwhoelse | May 28, 2005 01:34 PM

I find it funny how americans are obsessed that it's always the GOVERNMENT that is behind all (imaginary) sinister plots and conspiracies. But we have to remember that most countries aren't Nordic welfare states with high public honesty, low corruption and trust to the authorities and government.

Posted by: Visitor | May 28, 2005 02:06 PM

HIGH trust to the authorities and government, I might add.

Posted by: Visitor | May 28, 2005 02:19 PM

"I get the feeling that you're not the most active listener of classical music, opera and such."

You're right, I'm not the most active listener of that stuff, but neither are most Finns.

Classical music, opera, and such are heavily subsidized by the Finnish state. In the *current form* of the government, these arts couldn't survive without a large dose of our taxpayer money.

- Phil
http://www.finlandforthought.net

Posted by: Phil | May 28, 2005 03:34 PM

Phil, oh, Phil, I don't what to say... Ok, sure, music doesn't play a big part in my life either. I listen to it in the car on the way to work but that's pretty much it. So, if you'd ask me if music is important to Finns, well, no. I don't care so much of it. If I did, however, I'd have ample choise.

You know in Kalevala the heroes sang their opponents into a swamp and stuff, right? You've watched old Finnish movies from the 40's, right? Most of them have singing in them. You know names like Olavi Virta, M.A. Numminen, Juice, Hector, Matti ja Teppo? You know those freaky kanteles, right? You've heard of the opera divas and composers of today? If you'd look back in history and compare it to today's Finland, you'd see what music is to us. Is it more a thing here than elsewhere? No, I wouldn't say that. But if Mr. Kaiser is impressed by what he sees practically in the middle of nowhere, let him.

Posted by: Timo A | May 28, 2005 03:44 PM

"Following your logic, I could say that americans like to talk so much about freedom and democracy just to mask the lack of freedom and democracy in their own country."

And I would agree with you!

"striking down people instead of being happy about their success."

It's politics. Shouldn't we question government or should we just nod our heads and smile at everything they say?

Posted by: Phil | May 28, 2005 03:50 PM

"Is it more a thing here than elsewhere? No, I wouldn't say that."

Those are my thoughts exactly.

Posted by: Phil | May 28, 2005 03:53 PM

Can't believe that Finland has made it to the top!
I tought that I was dreaming when I saw "Finland Diary" standin there at the frontpage. I just adore Finland, and U.S.A, of course. I'm a 14 year-old girl from Espoo, Finland, and I visit washingtonpost.com almost everyday. My dream is to study there as an exchange student. Also, it would be nice to write an article to The Washington Post. So exciting :)

Posted by: Anne | May 28, 2005 03:56 PM

My American friends are coming for a visit to Finland this summer, some of them for the first time. Them Hoosiers do not read your civilized paper, so this has been a great opportunity for me to make them learn facts about Finland.

I'm not sure whether they trust your word better than the Finnish material I've sent them though. After all, Hillary lives pretty close to you... ;)

Thanks anyway for a great Blog! As you must have noticed already, we Finns read it closely, and notice every mistake and mispelled word.

Keep up the good work!

P.S. You cannot leave Finland without visiting the outer archipelago. Check www.uto.fi.

Posted by: skäribo | May 28, 2005 04:05 PM

"You're right, I'm not the most active listener of that stuff, but neither are most Finns."

First, knowing lots of well educated Finns, I couldn't disagree more, but, even if it was so...

"Classical music, opera, and such are heavily subsidized by the Finnish state."

...it would be even more important that the state supports high arts and culture. That's called civilization, something that many countries lack because artists seldom can get a decent living from what they do, and yet, their existence is extremely important to any country that claims to be civilized.

Posted by: Visitor | May 28, 2005 04:06 PM

I don't know the current situtation, but at least at some point Finland was ranked no. 1 in public funding or arts and museums. That's something to be proud of. Image a country without museums, classical music and high arts that are available to all like they're available in Finland. Imagine what it would do to the population and the culture in the long run.

A good example is USA where many people think the highest form of art and culture is MTV R&B arse shaking videos. *shudder*

Posted by: Guest | May 28, 2005 04:14 PM

Phil, when a Finnish school class (actually I did already in kindergarten with my day care group) goes to symphony or opera, do you think they do it just to piss of foreigners or to look good in international statistics? No. The purpose is to raise well-educated harmonius persons capable of appreciating different forms or art and culture, to use that as a source of well being and to increase the quality of life. People who hopefully will want to do more with their lives and spare time than to "hang out at Wal-mart".

Phil, your typical american attitude of total disrespect towards culture is an excellent warning example what the lack of cultural support and education does, and why all civilized states should support higher culture as much as possible. I'm starting to believe Oscar Wild in "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."

Not every pupil of a school class becomes an active symphony, museum or opera goer, but many pick up something of it, and the positive effect on the whole population is enormous. It's a real pity that in some countries artists have to struggle because the local cultural understanding is almost zero, and it will remain that way unless the state does something to it, for the benefit of the whole population.

Also I can't believe how blind some (not so well educated) people are to the connection of higher arts and culture, and high technology and science (as well as high education level, relatively peaceful people and low crime levels...). I leave it up to the reader to figure it out.

Posted by: Oh dear | May 28, 2005 04:51 PM

In my life, I've seen just one article written in English (published by National Geographic) on Finland where the names were spelled correctly. The product at hand is no exception. Pretty please the dynamic duo, explain the spelling problem
to the interviewed and ask them to write their respective names using block capitals.
(We call 'spelling' by the name of "correct-writing" -- spelling as known to speakers of English is automatically provided to the Finnish speakers by our linguistic system, requiring no mnemonics)

The Am. and Finn. hands contain many incompatibilites & sources of error. Once both parties are satisfied, use the reference as a guide to model the picture captions as well, so as to indicate the same form of the name, not a different one that we recurringly see now.

-Yours, Disillusioned Nitpicker

Posted by: PerfectSpelling for teh Perpect People! | May 28, 2005 06:07 PM

This being the Memorial Day weekend in America, I want to remember my own father, whom I did not get to know, since he was wounded February 1st 1940 in Kuhomo and died February 5th in Sotasairaala 23. I was born in Möhkö, Karelia 1939. Now I live in Amerika, but I'm very proud of my Finnish background and proud that my father fought to keep Filnland free. As for writing the Finnish Ä and Ö most computers have to be set to do that. I have mine so that I can flip between English and Finnish.
I'm so glad that Kuhomo and Finland is getting all this exposure and we all can learn more about the land of my birth.
Thank you so much.

Posted by: Kirsti | May 28, 2005 06:28 PM

oops, misspelled Kuhmo and America.....so us Finns are not perfect!

Posted by: Kirsti | May 28, 2005 06:33 PM

"Its characteristic and funny to notice how many Finns are interested about this journey, blog and conversation."

Again someone is feeding the old stereotypes and cliches. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the reporters hope that Finns would comment their findings as much as possible? And my estimate is that there are maybe a couple dozen Finns who are actually active here. So much for the high interest.

What comes to the cliche of Finns being silent. That might have been true at some point in the history, but not nowadays. And the reason behind that (and maybe hich tech) is most likely both biological and cultural evolution. In the good old ancient times in the arctic climate, those people who kept their mouths shut and did what it took to survive, survived, and those who liked laughing and talking more than surviving, didn't.

It's called evolution and natural selection.

Posted by: Visitor | May 28, 2005 06:34 PM

Kirsi

I and other Finns are proud of your father and all other MEN of his age. These people fought five years against superiour red army and thanks to these men we still have our independence.

Posted by: | May 28, 2005 06:42 PM

Ann said:

"I hope the Washington Post spares us that embarrasment and finds somewhere non-Nordic to report from next time. I, for one, have had enough of the Finns."

Ann, I perfectly well understand what you mean and feel exactly the same about most of these posting here. However, there are only a handful of people writing all these comments and many of them anonymously. They certainly do not represent us Finns in general. Sadly the internet spreads stupidity as fast as anything else and a handful can spoil the fun from many.

About the music topic:

In Finland the folk music is very much alive and well. We have a couple of top notch bluegrass bands in Finland and one of our well known 5 string banjo players is Janne Viksten who was also taught by the famous American banjo guru Tony Trischa. Actually I personally have been playing the guitar, mandolin and tenor banjo for many years and am extremely fond of the bluegrass music too.

You can hear short samples taken from Janne's record Blue Harbor and read what Tony Trischa has to say about Janne. The link points to Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. Follow the "Recording" link and then down to number 21 for Janne. The page contains extracts from the records of many of our folk music bands. Most of the members in these bands have studied in the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. I think this department is the latest addition to the teaching of the Sibelius Academy..

http://www2.siba.fi/kamu/index.php?id=24&la=en

We have some annual folk music festivals here too and in Haapavesi there are often visitors from the US as well. This year it appears to be Erik Hokkanen teaching fiddle. One of the main functions are the Workshops given by the visiting foreign or domestic top notch players. The link below, though nothing much in English.

http://www.haapavesifolk.com/index.php?pid=enesittely

Thanks for the Diary,
Risto

Posted by: | May 28, 2005 07:28 PM

Sorry, reply to Ann from me.

Posted by: Risto Apajalahti | May 28, 2005 07:29 PM

PS. Erik Hokkanen is an American born fiddle master who playes anything from bluegrass to walzes.

Posted by: Risto Apajalahti | May 28, 2005 07:40 PM

In reply to "a finn" and the elephant joke. That is very funny and the finns in your joke could very easily be replaced with Australians. Every time anyone exciting comes to australia on tour, the first thing anyone asks is what do you think of australia? I don't know why. It's kind of embarrassing, kind of cute ... Like a little kid wanting attention. Better than some other countries though where the main concern is the citizens right to bear arms or which class you come from ... Have to say I found Ann's contribution to the forum to be extremely bad mannered and also bad humoured. Lighten up.

Posted by: christine from oz | May 28, 2005 07:40 PM

"I found Ann's contribution to the forum to be extremely bad mannered" -

Man, have you READ any of the comments to the other blog entries? Like 60% are drivel about how HARD it is to be Finnish in Finland. Or Swedish. Isn't that like saying it's hard being white and middle class in Minneapolis?

Anyway, I have some Finnish friends who claim there's lots of multicultural stuff, festivals etc, in Finland. Like, where immigrants and Finns (non-white, non-Finnish or Swedish) actually get together and do stuff. Is that true or is it just all white people bickering about Finnish vs. Swedish?

Posted by: | May 28, 2005 08:44 PM

A couple of links more. These are more for the Finnish musicians living all over the Big Balloon. I suppose there must be some:

Bulletin Board for musicians or wannabes;-), any style. Finnish only but you can get into conversation in English if you have the wits to first manage through the jungle of the Finnish links: www.muusikoiden.net

The Finnish Bluegrass Music Association (SBMY). Finnish only, English understood naturally. If you are bluegrass oriented and want to drop a line just pop by: http://www.bluegrass.fi/

Posted by: Risto Apajalahti | May 28, 2005 08:55 PM

No, seriously,

this post is only
for Ann,

wherever it may find her;

You should get be "offended" of real issues in life, instead of some imaginary stuff on the internet.

I happen to live in Finland, I have to live with the 22% VAT

And I am not offended, rather touched for your condecending arrogance and stupidity - which is however nothing we here living in this hellole experience daily.

Posted by: Hank W. | May 28, 2005 09:54 PM

In FINLAND we have one of the greatest metall
scene. YAY so you Yanks can Watch MTV. lol.
We dont need that mud crap rap. Sorry!

Posted by: Eero | May 28, 2005 11:09 PM

phil-
americans such as yourself are the reason i hide my american nationality (though i do not identify with the culture at all)in europe. wake up to the reality that finland, along with other nordic nations, are doing far better than the u.s. not only in terms of arts and music, but also health care, democracy, women's liberation, gay rights, equity and environmental conservation.

i also urge you to check out the metal scene in finland...metallica is a joke in comparison to nightwish, amorphis, h.i.m.

Posted by: hs | May 29, 2005 12:24 AM

To Visitor:
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the reporters hope that Finns would comment their findings as much as possible?"

You are right, but I assume, that they did not anticipate, how much we can produce such comments. Actually I enjoy most in this conversation of the comments of other foreigners who have lived, or currently live here. Do they agree or disagree with findings of mr. Kaiser.

"And my estimate is that there are maybe a couple dozen Finns who are actually active here."

You might be right. But they are very productive in writing. And of course, most annoying here are those (young?)individuals, who assume that all the world are listening to them, when they complain "compulsory Swedish" in Finnish schools, and thereby will cause international pressure against Finnish government and parliament. It is quite (or too?) common in present Finland, that the activists of any issue search help abroad in order to change our own local laws. They/we know/assume that our leaders are very concerned about "Suomi-kuva" (image of Finland abroad), and therefore accept changes if foreign politicians or journalists or artists or scientists express publicly, that our current laws or practices are against human rights, world nature conservation or international conventions. Finland is quite young member of "civilized world", and we are still worried that "western world" consider us to belong in slavic or mongolian world.
In fact, most of our relative nations still live there.
http://www.helsinki.fi/~jolaakso/fgrlinks.html#oppil_Suomessa


"In the good old ancient times in the arctic climate, those people who kept their mouths shut and did what it took to survive, survived, and those who liked laughing and talking more than surviving, didn't."

You might be right. Lots of Finnish work, especially mens' work, was done alone in forest and agriculture society, without possibility to discuss to anybody while working. And our school systen was also such that teacher taught and the pupils had to be silent. Even at homes it was typical that well grown children had to be silent, especially while the family had adult visitors. We had even a proverb "speaking is silver, silence is gold". So appreciating silence (vs. talking nonsense) is part of Finnish culture and heritage.

I recommend this link "Test if you are a Finn" http://www.helsinki.fi/~jolaakso/finntest.html for everybody who wants to understand us. :-)

Posted by: a Finn | May 29, 2005 02:11 AM

"wake up to the reality that finland, along with other nordic nations, are doing far better than the u.s. not only in terms of arts and music, but also health care, democracy, women's liberation, gay rights, equity and environmental conservation."

I couldn't agree more!! Finland *is* doing much better than the U.S. in regards to those things you mentioned... and many others.

But what you need to understand is that I loathe U.S. policies/government much more than Finnish policies/government!! I criticize the U.S. government 10 times more than I do the Finnish government.

So just because I criticize Finland, does in NO WAY mean that I think the U.S. is "better" or anything of the sort. In fact I think just the opposite, it's one of the reasons why I moved here.

"americans such as yourself are the reason i hide my american nationality (though i do not identify with the culture at all)in europe. "

So I should just shut my mouth about politics eh? Not criticize anything, just smile and nod? I've met a couple of you "I hate to be an American" people in Finland, that whole "I'm better than everyone else" elitist attitude is so played out. People like you make me want to hide MY american nationality.

"i also urge you to check out the metal scene in finland."

I think I'll pass. Although the Finnish dance scene is quite vibrant, I was very happy when I first arrived to see a regular flow of international DJs spinning in Finland. I urge you to check out the house & trance scene in Finland, although people into metal will NEVER enjoy dance music and vice-versa! :-)

- Phil
http://www.finlandforthought.net

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 03:30 AM

"Phil, your typical american attitude of total disrespect towards culture is an excellent warning example what the lack of cultural support and education does"

I'm in no way disrespecting culture. Art, music, opera, ballet etc... are all wonderful things - I don't deny that. I'm only QUESTIONING who should pay for all these things.

Should the poor family in East Helsinki be forced to fund some girl and her opera career which will make her millions in the future? That's all I'm asking here.

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 03:34 AM

"A good example is USA where many people think the highest form of art and culture is MTV R&B arse shaking videos. *shudder*"

Uh-oh, I hope we're not dictating what art is and what art isn't?? Talk about disrespecting culture....

- Phil
http://www.finlandforthought.net

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 03:35 AM

I still like to add here a descrption of Finn by poet Jorma Etto.
(copied from http://www.aamulehti.fi/kukkiansanomat/lehdet/uusi/luo11.shtml)

First in Finnish:
---------------------------

SUOMALAINEN

Suomalainen on sellainen joka vastaa kun ei kysytä,
kysyy kun ei vastata, ei vastaa kun kysytään,
sellainen joka eksyy tieltä, huutaa rannalla,
ja vastarannalla huutaa toinen samanlainen:
metsä raikuu, kaikuu, hongat humajavat.
Tuolta tulee suomalainen ja ähkyy, on tässä ja ähkyy,
tuonne menee ja ähkyy, on löylyssä ja ähkyy,
kun toinen heittää kiukaalle vettä.
Sellaisella suomalaisella on aina kaveri,
koskaan se ei ole yksin ja se kaveri on suomalainen.
Eikä suomalaista erota suomalaisesta mikään,
ei mikään paitsi kuolema ja poliisi.

-Jorma Etto, kokoelmasta Suomalainen ja muut valitut (Pohjoinen 1985)
-----------------

And then my humble translation:
----------------
A FINN

A Finn is a man, who answers, when not asked, asks, when there is no one to answer, does not answer, when asked.

a man, who gets lost from the road, shouts on a shore, and there is an other Finn shouting back on opposite shore.

Forest is full of sounds, echos, whistling in tops of tall pinetrees swinging in wind.

There comes a Finn and breathes loudly, is here and breathes loudly, goes there and breathes loudly, is in sauna hot steam and breathes loudly, when the other one throws water on the hot stones of oven ("kiuas")

Such a Finn has always a friend. Never he is alone. And the friend is always an other Finn.

And nothing can separate two Finns from each other, nothing except the death or a police.
--------------------

I like this poet very Finnish, especially when red by good artists. And although it describes especially how Finnish male persons behaved together in older times while all available alcohol was not yet consumed.

(Would be nice, if somebody translates the poet to better, more descriptive English?)

Posted by: a Finn | May 29, 2005 04:43 AM

"Uh-oh, I hope we're not dictating what art is and what art isn't?? Talk about disrespecting culture...."

Maybe you should read more carefully, the text mentioned that in someone's mind it's the highest form of art. Nobody can say that it's not some kind of art, but it certainly isn't high arts and culture.

"Should the poor family in East Helsinki be forced to fund some girl and her opera career which will make her millions in the future? That's all I'm asking here."

Very few opera singers, classical musician and such make millions. And even if someone did, the answer is still absolute yes. That gives the "poor family's " children equal change to become an opera singer just like free university education gives them a change to become scientists. And even if they don't choose to become artists or scientists, the whole family will benefit the effect that supporting arts and free education has in their society.

I'm not interested in sports, still I don't think that the state shouldn't support sports and physical education. I'm not that selfish. Every cent of the taxes I pay goes to good purposes that raise my quality of life as well, even if I don't use all those services that I could myself. (But I try to understand your "me me me me first money money money I want it all for myself" american attitude here, even though it's not easy.)

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 04:48 AM

What makes a Finn happy at Virtual Finland:

http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=27111

1. Home sweet home, a home of one's own
2. Sunny weather
3. An honest relationship
4. A trusting relationship
5. The freedom to be oneself
6. A freshly cleaned home
7. Friendship, gestures/words in a relationship
8. Friendship, actions in a relationship
9. Fidelity in a relationship
10. Security in a relationship

"In Finland the folk music is very much alive and well."

Especially the folk band Värttinä is popular abroad too.

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 04:54 AM

"Nobody can say that it's not some kind of art, but it certainly isn't high arts and culture."

Ahhhh...I see. "Higher" forms of art. :-/

"the whole family will benefit the effect that supporting arts and free education has in their society"

Yes, I'm sure that as we speak, the 340,000 Finns living below the poverty line are thrilled that so much tax money goes towards supporting the arts.

"But I try to understand your "me me me me first money money money I want it all for myself" american attitude here"

Hardly. I'd argue that the welfare state only limits the arts. I want to see arts flurish even more!

"Every cent of the taxes I pay goes to good purposes that raise my quality of life as well"

I believe a good translation for "naive" is "sinisilmäinen" ?

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 06:23 AM

Dear readers of the blog and active writers of the comments!

I agree with Mr or Ms Oh dear up there in that the point with music education is not to produce world-class violinists or to make everyone love opera but to give people the opportunity to explore the sounding side of human life, so to speak, and learn. I consider myself a good example: I went through the mill of a music "opisto" in a random middle of nowhere -town I grew up in. Some of my fellow piano playing little girls do have a career in music nowadays whereas I -whoops!- am a biologist. And what do you know: surprisingly many of my colleaques go to concerts, play in a band or sing in a choir, like myself. And my choir seemes to be packed with people who have had their share of music education in their youth and can read music and make it, which gives them so much joy.

The value of such things is difficult to measure and it's a neverending battle. Nobody should think that allocating the tax-payers money to culture goes without discussion here. You can always argue against culture by saying it's not necessary for staying alive. Fair enough. It's only one of those things that make life worth living :-)

Posted by: Just a note | May 29, 2005 06:30 AM

Oh, and to comment the always so delicious side topics,

it seems to me that too many people are embarrassed about us being so interested in what is said about us. I don't think that the good old elephant joke is the whole truth. In my opinion, Finns (and all other nations for that matter) are, and should be, interested in how others find our way of living not only because it tells something about us but because it teaches us a whole bunch of things about others! And it never hurts to understand others, does it :-)

I'm under the impression that people who ask foreigners how they like it here are not just expecting a praise of their country but the tone might be more like "I know it's different here and was wondering how you are dealing with it." I'm always delighted when I'm asked such a question abroad. I think it's polite of the locals to ask how things look like from where I'm standing, it only shows they appreciate my different background. Plus it gives me the good opportunity to squeeze in some compliments ;-)

Posted by: Just a note | May 29, 2005 06:49 AM

"Nobody should think that allocating the tax-payers money to culture goes without discussion here. You can always argue against culture by saying it's not necessary for staying alive."

Those who are against tax-payer money going towards culture are ****NOT**** "against culture" - that's absolutely ridiculous and if you truly believe that, you're very narrow-minded.

The welfare state only limits culture by getting involved...

- Arts, music etc.. can only go as far as the government's budget goes. When government overspends, it's the "non-essential" programs like culture which eventually suffer.

- If your "art" isn't approved by the powers-that-be, you won't get funding and are basically screwed. The government decides what is art and what isn't.

- When people have more money in their pockets, they spend more on culture-related things. The welfare state only takes money away from the people.

- The welfare state is slowly crumbling, services are methodically being cut constantly - this means that arts/music/etc will be cut too.

If you want to see Finnish culture flourish more than it does now, get the government out of the picture.

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 07:11 AM

"Ahhhh...I see. "Higher" forms of art. :-/"

I see that the concept of high arts and culture is alien to you. Still you consider yourself to be an expert in the matter.

"Yes, I'm sure that as we speak, the 340,000 Finns living below the poverty line are thrilled that so much tax money goes towards supporting the arts."

Not to mention the unbelievable amount of people living below the poverty line and streets elsewhere, and the fact that nobody in the Nordic countries live on the streets, it's clear that all people aren't willing to support the same things. I'm not thrilled that part of my tax money goes to sport arenas, but as said, I'm not that selfish that I'd believe that only those things that are important to me should be supported. And I'm sure you won't find a Finn who doesn't think health care and education are the primary things. Supporting culture as well is building
the necessary base for a civilized society. But then again, your lack of cultural understanding is below zero so it's pointless even to try the whole picture to you.

"Hardly. I'd argue that the welfare state only limits the arts. I want to see arts flurish even more!"

Nothing stops you from doing your own kind of art. Most likely you will get at least some kind of support for it, but even if you don't, it doesn't limit you or stop you. You're just making up excuses.

""Every cent of the taxes I pay goes to good purposes that raise my quality of life as well""
I believe a good translation for "naive" is "sinisilmäinen" ?

No, Phil. It's just that you come from a country where the government screws up people, spends their money to pointless illegal wars, controlling and manipulating people etc. I don't blame you since where you come from, it's always THE GOVERNMENT that is behind every "conspiracy". As an highly educated and quite critical invididual, I think I'm able to say what I think is a good use for my tax money. Sure there are things that I would do differently if I was a dictator. But I'm not. Tax money should used so that it benefits everyone. Supporting sports doesn't (directly) benefit me, but I'm not selfish enough to think that supporting sports should be stopped. You know, the system is called democracy.

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 07:30 AM

Phil, sorry for the "against culture" -shorthand, I see it wasn't very accurate :-P What I meant was just "tax-payers' money" etc.

Posted by: Just a note | May 29, 2005 07:47 AM

"I see that the concept of high arts and culture is alien to you. Still you consider yourself to be an expert in the matter."

Well I'm certainly no expert and never claimed to be! I guess I should be flattered that you'd even think such a thing.

Sorry but I just don't like placing arts into "classes" - to say that opera is "high art" while talented and professionals dancing to R&B is a "lower form of art" is very elitist and condescending.

"and the fact that nobody in the Nordic countries live on the streets"

Wow, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, or you're just completely disillusioned. Anymore false information you'd like to share?

"Nothing stops you from doing your own kind of art."

Ummm...then why would taking away tax-payer support stop people from doing art? Your logic is hypocritcal.

"It's just that you come from a country where the government screws up people, spends their money to pointless illegal wars, controlling and manipulating people etc."

Agreed! But you're naive to think that the Finnish government doesn't do this, although to a lesser extent obviously.

"As an highly educated and quite critical invididual, I think I'm able to say what I think is a good use for my tax money. "

Ohhh!! That's some elitism if I've ever heard some. Typical left-wing mentality right there, you did an excellent job of summing it up. Like we less educated don't know what's best for our tax money and therefore shouldn't make that important decision. Nice.

Shot in the dark here, you're a member of SDP, no? Only SDPers talk that way.

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 07:56 AM

Yep, Phil seems to think he is living in Philland, where the taxes should go only to things that please Phil.

But this is Finland, not Philland. One of the main reasons why the state supports arts and culture is precisely that any person, including unemployed, students and old folks, could enjoy it and not only those who can afford to pay for it.

Posted by: - | May 29, 2005 07:58 AM

"Wow, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, or you're just completely disillusioned. Anymore false information you'd like to share?"

There are people who are offered apartments and who still go back to the living they've chosen. And there are people waiting for an apartment. Then again, compare that to millions of people living on the streets without health care and education elsewhere to a few hopeless cases in Nordic countries. Yeah, Phil, lets talk about your one eyed illusions and double standards.

"Agreed! But you're naive to think that the Finnish government doesn't do this, although to a lesser extent obviously."

Again, humans are humans and no place is perfect. But if you compare Nordic governments to other governments... And since when have Finns started illegal oil stealing wars?

"Like we less educated don't know what's best for our tax money and therefore shouldn't make that important decision. Nice."

Nice try. This is a democracy. Tax money goes to things that benefit everyone. You were claiming that poorer families protest that a small part of their taxes are used to support culture, when in reality, for many of them free cultural services are extremely important. Some of them might not be pro-culture, but use something else like tax paid sport arenas that some other people don't use.

And no, Phil, I'm not a member of any political party, but if I was, I would be a Green.

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 08:07 AM

", the Swedes would be here droning on and on and boring us to death by arguing amongst themselves about whether the Finns and their language are evil or not"

No, they are the masters, Finns are the slaves. They have nothing to complain about. Simple as that.

The culture of silence was created to justify violence. Easternmost people of Finland never accepted it.

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 09:34 AM

Finns are little like my African Gray Parrot Freddie, he has amazing vocabulary and out whistles most people, but when someone new comes to our house he clams up. He listens, watches your every move and gives a warning if you get too close. After he gets comfortable with you, which takes a loong time or may never happen, he will start to talk again.

Posted by: Kirsti | May 29, 2005 10:09 AM

Sounds like a wise parrot.

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 10:26 AM

I was screwed up by the Finnish government and welfare society really bad all my life. Just think of what horrible things their conspiracies did to me: free schooling including two master's degrees, free state-of-the-art health care and deltal care including full orthodontics that took over 8 years to complete (and would have cost astronomical sums elsewhere), free and healthy hot meals in school, low cost high quality day care in a spotless and modern day care center with multitude of meaningful activities, run by university educated staff, with healthy full meals (not pizzas, hamburgers or candy) and trips to museums and concerts, student grants and apartment while studying, just to name a few random picks.

Oh dear, I can't believe I've been naive enought to live in this country. I feel so abused now after my eyes have opened. I'm already planning moving to some place where the government is honest, offers high-quality public services and the quality of life is acceptable. It's just so hard to choose my new home: USA, Romania, Albania, Columbia or Iran? :-)

(Seriously speaking, although I've complained about taxes once or twice, "Phil"'s rantings makes me realize how well things actually are in Finland and Nordic countries.)

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 11:01 AM

"Our homeland lies in the snows of the North;
the hearth of the home glowing warm and strong
Our hand has grown sure with playing the sword
and honour and pure faith lies in our record"

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 11:31 AM

"Yep, Phil seems to think he is living in Philland, where the taxes should go only to things that please Phil."

Yeah, cause I'm like the only one who wants to see lowered taxes. If Finland wishes to remain competitive in the global market 10, 20, 30 years from now, we're going to NEED to lower taxes.

Finland's current economic model just isn't sustainable anymore, and will be even less so in the future - changes need to be made.

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 12:57 PM

"I'm already planning moving to some place where the government is honest, offers high-quality public services and the quality of life is acceptable."

Just wondering - how do you feel about Finns who are raised in Finland, enjoying the "free" services, getting two master's degrees and a doctorate....then leaving Finland for more income, less taxes, higher purchasing power?

Posted by: Phil | May 29, 2005 01:01 PM

"getting two master's degrees and a doctorate....then leaving Finland for more income, less taxes, higher purchasing power?"

People are free to do as they wish. If the person wants to get new experiences from living or working abroad, finds a foreign spouse or has some other "real" reason, I don't object. But if the person's ONLY motive is getting more money and paying less taxes, then I'd feel sorry for the person. In that case there's at least one more lesson to be learned: money isn't the most important thing in life, and a person's value isn't measured in money or "purchasing power".

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 01:22 PM

Phil is not completly without merit in his arguments. Public sector cultural spending is keeping "high" culture well positioned and (comparatively) well funded, while these forms of culture (like the opera, balet, museum of modern art) are hardly consumed by the majority of Finns. If for not other reasons, then because they are located mainly in Helsinki. In a large country this is really something that makes equal possibilities to enjoy high culture limited, even though my out-town tax-money goes to these facilities as well as those fortunates (usually better-off people) who largely enjoy them in our Capital. The National Opera uses up more money yearly than, say, national subsidies to movie industry, which can be easily accessed and enjoyed by notably larger audiences. In democracy your money goes where elected politicians decide it should go, which is all fine, but citizens like I and Phil (who is at least a resident) still can hope some decisions would be made differently and money spent more wisely. I for one would not cry over losing opera in Helsinki, btu it is far too easy to spend valtion rahaa ("government money") to white elephants like it. This said, spending tax-money to childerns' access to equal music and sports education everywhere gets my support. "Love your taxes", like the demaris say it, right?

Posted by: lp | May 29, 2005 01:30 PM

Nothing is free. You can choose to live in a country with higher taxes, but also high education, safe streets, low levels of crime and corruption, high quality public services and so forth. Or you can choose to live in a country with low taxes (more purchasing power), with higher crime levels, street violence, pollution, more or less corrupted government or authorities and so forth. And when you have to buy your education and health care, you'll soon notice that you don't have so much left of your higher incomes for other things.

I much rather "buy" safe and pleasant country with high quality public services by paying higher taxes instead of buying a few extra beers and cheaper gasoline in a country with lots of serious problems and eye-for-an-eye & cut-throat-competition attitudes.

Posted by: | May 29, 2005 01:48 PM

"Yes, I'm sure that as we speak, the 340,000 Finns living below the poverty line are thrilled that so much tax money goes towards supporting the arts."

Some of those 340,000 have come to me and told how happy they are, because their kids can come to our orchesta and learn how to play. We are able to keep our annual fees low thanks to the tax money we get from our home town (about 3000-4000 euros per year plus a place to practise and keep our instruments and other stuff), and the government (supporting a local "kansalaisopisto" (folk institute?) from where our directors get part of their job paid).

Posted by: Jaana | May 29, 2005 04:38 PM

http://pitchforkmedia.com/features/weekly/05-04-18-finnish-psych-folk.shtml

Apparently Finland's indie rock scene (or indie avant garde folk, to be more exact) is getting a lot of attention recently. It's not just that article, I look at music blogs that feature a wide variety of stuff and in the past months there has been an unbelievable amount of Finnish music posted-- and these are not blogs run by Finns. In some ways I think the mp3 blogs may be helping pop music from non-English speaking regions (which may not even be available in any stores in Western Europe or North America) gain much more popularity than it ever could have before. And especially with Finland, the bands may be tech savvy enough to realize that exposure is great for them.

I haven't gotten around to diving into much of this stuff yet, but I have one of those "cheaper than food" compilations of Nordic music which includes some Varttina and other Finnish stuff, and I've heard some great Circle songs. I need to check out some of this other music-- it seems there is a lot going on outside either the Eurovision contests OR the opera house.

Posted by: Some more info on music | May 29, 2005 11:18 PM


I just have to comment one thing, just so people not living in Finland get the facts right.

There is much talking about Sweds and Finns here, well, actually there are no Sweds and Finns, only Finns, Finns who speak Finnish as their mother tongue and Finns who speak Swedish as there mother tongue. The Finlandswedes have nothing to do with Sweden, really nothing!!

It is like saying to an American, "you speak English, you must be a Brit, or an Ausralian, or..". It doesn't make any sence. The swedish-speaking minority has been living in Finland for a thousand years, maybe even longer, and still some people are eager to call them Swedes.

The picture about the swedish-pseaking people to be rich and wealthy and on top in everything is just an stereotype, which comes from the fact, that under the Swedish rule, the leading people were speaking swedish.

The swedish-speaking-people in Finland are as ordinary as the finnish-speaking. In real life there are no barriers, only in some peoples minds. Sadly. They shout around a lot, but can never give any facts on there claims. They live in their own world and believe in big conspiracys, for example that the swedish-speaking-people rule Finland. It would be a hilarious comment but sadly there are people who really believe that. It is a theory which can be relates to the one saying the Jews rule the worl true different channels.

Well, my point was, all the swedish-speaking-finns are really Finns, not Sweds, and the only difference they have to the finnsih-speaking-people, is that they speak Swedish as heir mother tongue. Plus, they speak also Finnish fluently. Most are completely bilingual.

So, no Sweds and Finns, only Finns. There are room for more than one language in one country, and languages don't follow country-borders, made by man, so it's natural that people speak the neighbours language on the borderlines.

Posted by: Heulwen | May 30, 2005 04:07 AM

They shout around a lot, but can never give any facts on there claims. They live in their own world and believe in big conspiracys, for example that the swedish-speaking-people rule Finland. It would be a hilarious comment but sadly there are people who really believe that. It is a theory which can be relates to the one saying the Jews rule the worl true different channels.
--
You tell direct lies. There are countless facts. There is no great conspiracy, however. Things seem to happen quite openly.

Only one talking of conspiracies are you.

Please do not compare Swedes and Jews.

Swedes found (and often still find) others to be lesser race. Jews were considered, as were finns, gypsies, lapps etc., a lesser race. Documented facts: still in the 80s Finns were forbidden from speaking Finnish with other Finns in Swedish schools and universities, still in the 80s Finnish were actively followed in Norway by the state secret police (as they were branded communists, because of their ethnical origin) - what happened to smaller groups who had even less say, must have been even more terrible.

http://www.frif.com/new2000/giv.html

Jews worked hard for their lives and were peaceful even when they were being taken to the gas chambers.

Posted by: | May 30, 2005 06:22 AM

still some people are eager to call them Swedes
--
Including themselves.

Posted by: Well... | May 30, 2005 06:23 AM

I'm sure that as we speak, the 340,000 Finns living below the poverty line
--
Also the poverty line is lower in Finland than in other euro-countries as the general living standard in Finland is lower.

Best benefactor to those who have less money in Finland has been Lidl, the German shop-chain that came to Finland. If it never came, food would be 20-25% more expensive. Let us hope Aldi decides to come here as well. (Then there would be competition between the two, now some people avoid Lidl as it is known to be non-Finnish, despite offering better quality at cheaper prices, which means, often people with large luxury cars shop there as well, probably comparitively more than in other shops; so prices have remained relatively stable and no great price wars have been started anymore. Lidl also was not careful enough when employing its first employees, as not all their shops are at best possible locations.)

Posted by: | May 30, 2005 06:30 AM

Phil isn't the only one who wants lower taxes in Finland. Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila is a leading advocate for lower taxes, especially tax breaks for Nokia.

I find the idelogical discussion rather boring. There has to be a point behind every tax. I disagree with those who say that taxes qua taxes are cool but I also disagree with those who say that skipping the taxes will solve all the problems. To me the issue is WHERE the tax money is needed and where it is wasted.

Posted by: Topi L | May 30, 2005 06:31 AM

There's also an award winning movie "Invisible Elina" (Näkymätön Elina in Finnish, Elina - Som om jag inte fanns in Swedish) about Finnish girl Elina living in Sweden in the beginning of the 50's, oppressed by her teacher who doesn't allow speaking Finnish:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0330911/

Posted by: | May 30, 2005 06:46 AM

About Lidl being the savior of poor people;
It has also been widely reported that Lidl pays illegally low salaries, stomps on workers rights, forces them to work overtime without extra pay and so on. The situation is, of course, much worse in Eastern European countries than in Finland. In many ways, Lidl is european Wal-Mart in every aspect. Not bying from there means not supporting abuse of workers.

Posted by: | May 30, 2005 07:09 AM

As a Canadian who has visited Finland on several occasions, the one comment that I keep hearing from Finns is "we're a small country, so we have to work together". I heard this 3 times, from 3 different people, in 3 different contexts, on my first trip. The result is a unique collaboration between industry, government and academia to build a better country. The results of this "work together" ethos (in contrast to the North Amertican "every man for himself" ethos) include Nokia, the Finnish pulp and paper industry, the Finns' successes fighting Russians in 1939-40, etc. The system isn't perfect (witness the current lock-out in the paper industry) but it does work, arguably at least as well as Canadian or US democracies.

Posted by: Tom Browne | May 30, 2005 08:06 AM

jes! Aivan mahtava juttu! Tuli melkein isänmaallinen tunne!

And same in english:

Yes! Really awsome text! I nearly felt myself a bit patriotical!

Posted by: Siili | May 30, 2005 08:13 AM

"the Finns' successes fighting Russians in 1939-40,"

True, and only that started to heal the wounds of 1917 civil war. People just couldn´t afford to be in two different camps. One of the most efficient military units was a group from at that time working class district (usually communists) of Kallio in Helsinki. One of those soldiers said to another:"Boy, are we lucky that we have that old white slaughterer (Mannerheim) leading us."

Posted by: | May 30, 2005 10:05 AM

>>I urge you to check out the house & trance scene in Finland, although people into metal will NEVER enjoy dance music and vice-versa! :-)

is that so? i guess that is why i am a classical guitarist.

Posted by: hs | May 31, 2005 01:49 AM

Finnish people never talk to strangers, in the bus it's always a complete silence. And when eating, silence is quite normal. People are shy here, they of course talk to people they know, but are quiet with others. Finnish kids also seem to be afraid to do discourses in front of their class. I'm shy with strangers too, and I think it's a good thing. i hate people who are too talkative, it's annoying!!

Posted by: Miikka | May 31, 2005 02:58 PM

To go back to music for a bit. Do students have the opportunity to learn to play the kantele?

http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=27002

Snow Kantele (Finlandia Records, 0630-19052-2)
Sámi Suite by Martti Pokela is one of my very favorite albums.

Posted by: Chris Tabby | May 31, 2005 04:42 PM

I hope that Phil finds that wonderful land that has all the advantages of Finland and low taxes. But if Phil has children and wants to move back to Finland to educate them won't that make hm a hipocrite. Just a thought.

Posted by: Coach | May 31, 2005 05:07 PM

"Finnish people never talk to strangers, in the bus it's always a complete silence. And when eating, silence is quite normal. People are shy here"

Well, I'm not shy and still I don't talk in the bus or train or what ever. Especially in winter when it's dark I'm simply too tired to talk or listen to someone. Even in summer time, I just don't bother to talk all the time, it has nothing to do with being shy or introverted, just saving energy when there is nothing important to say.

Posted by: | May 31, 2005 05:30 PM

"To go back to music for a bit. Do students have the opportunity to learn to play the kantele?"

In some schools they do yes: http://www.espoo.fi/paakirjoitus.asp?path=1;71781

Also in the pre-schools but more as just for fun. Appears that they do the same thing in American pre-schools too, at least in San Diego: http://www.kantele.com/

Posted by: | May 31, 2005 06:55 PM

"It has also been widely reported that Lidl pays illegally low salaries, stomps on workers rights, forces them to work overtime without extra pay and so on"

So ?
With food being cheaper, they still are better off than if it were too expensive for them to buy. Liked it used to be. Not long ago.

Posted by: | June 1, 2005 06:36 AM

One reason for forbidding the speaking of finnish in swedish-speaking elementary and secondary schools has been the fear of halflingualism. It is very easy to become halflingual by always choosing a word that comes to your mind in one of the two languages you know. This leads to the brain using words from both languages mixed in everyday discussions and not learning the difficult ones in both. It's a sad situation and apparently leads to learning disabilities in other subjects as well.

Thank you for this diary and the blog (the parts that are not filled with anger and idiotic comments). I'm sure many people in Finland (and hopefully elsewhere) follow the story eagerly. Good luck to you on your trip. Nice Finnish word, by the way: Haayoaie (=weddingnight intentions)

Posted by: marko | June 1, 2005 02:31 PM

>>it would be even more important that the state supports high arts and culture. That's called civilization, something that many countries lack because artists seldom can get a decent living from what they do, and yet, their existence is extremely important to any country that claims to be
civilized.

>>If you want to see Finnish culture flourish more than it does now,
get the government out of the picture.
--
witness the united states, with the least percentage of funding going to the arts, the major symphony orchestras regularly in danger of going under, the lack of support and confidence in music as a career.

>>Very few opera singers, classical musicians and such make millions
--
the stereotype/fear/joke of the "starving artist" is not far from truth, at least in the US, in all of the fine arts. those who succeed/make it to the highest level in the classical music industry make enough money to get by, and not much more. they work longer hours than most people realize, because their practice time is work and applies to their job.


>>>I urge you to check out the house & trance scene in Finland,
although people into metal will NEVER enjoy dance music and vice-versa! :-)
>>is that so? i guess that is why i am a classical guitarist
--
i dont' understand why there is such negative sentiment displayed here. music is joy, life, passion, all that is good. it does not matter the genre or label you give it. labels are illusory, inventions we made. why can't i, a music major in a classically trained tradition, enjoy music from all around the world without getting weird/negative comments? why can't my fellow musicians refrain from making negative comments about/to lovers of different kinds of music?

and here i was being delighted about the amount of available music education Finnish students are able to recieve, the beauty of the hall displayed, the opportunities for new music and student composers. i guess the other negative items were just too important to let go/overlook.

Posted by: american music major | June 1, 2005 04:59 PM

AS to: Do kids get to learn the kantele? In the national kantele city, Haapavesi, half of all the 7th-graders admit that they have at least one kantele at home, I've been surveying it for fifteen years! All 7th-graders have to learn some traditional 5-string music from Haapavesi and lyceum students are even offered music courses in kantele, with over 100 having finnished a kantele course. You can check out the region's kantele activity at www.kotinet.com/jane.ilmola/netti/default.htm and/or see/hear some of us in Minnesota or Michigan this summer!

Posted by: Jane | June 15, 2005 04:26 AM

AS to: Do kids get to learn the kantele? In the national kantele city, Haapavesi, half of all the 7th-graders admit that they have at least one kantele at home, I've been surveying it for fifteen years! All 7th-graders have to learn some traditional 5-string music from Haapavesi and lyceum students are even offered music courses in kantele, with over 100 having finnished a kantele course. You can check out the region's kantele activity at www.kotinet.com/jane.ilmola/netti/default.htm and/or see/hear some of us in Minnesota or Michigan this summer!

Posted by: Jane | June 15, 2005 04:28 AM

They finally have managed to make a finnish movie that foreigners have had interest in: (in finnish with english subtitles)
http://www.google.fi/search?hl=fi&q=star+wreck&btnG=Hae&meta=
(boring (but free, i am not watching anything that geekish unless someone pays me, maybe someone else is interested, they told about it in the news so thats how i rememebered the name) scifi stuff but still, they said its currently third most watched finnish film so far and been out only a short time)

Posted by: | October 13, 2005 07:06 AM

The conan forums are quite interesting after he mentioned the finnish president:
http://boards.nbc.com/bb/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=199716&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpart=2&vc=1


Now, it is really unlikely that the president is a lesbian (as told here) - and the communist values, they can be called christian values and the meaning is the same without putting down the person.
Strangely, the swedish/social democrat member of parliament who used to be porn star (Jörn Donner/Bjorn Thunder, he recently got a medal from the swedish state for spreading swedish culture) was never critisized for anything, the values that Finns must comply and the ones the swedes in finland must comply, are quite different. (not that there is anything wrong with being a porn star, lots more porn stars, women too, to the government might help finland with its biggest problem, the declining birth rate)

I say (some of the) Finns are looking for a brave new leader, a tall, daring
and educated Irishman for a king.

For example, former Prime Minister of Finland, Anneli Jäätteenmäki
was kicked out because she told the truth to the people (no kidding,
that really happened, maybe the reason behind that was that she refused
to obey her strings, the politicians are usually just puppets for those
who are in power - lots of women misguidedly think she was kicked out
because she was a woman, but that was not the case quite obviously)

The Irish are quite different from the Finns, look, he dared say on tv
"sweden sucks", not many Finns would dare do that.
They fought the English for centuries, never giving up to the world
power. Finns hope they could be like that, too, but alas are one of the
pussiest nations in the world, everybody must study Swedish (not
english, which is a useful language); the Irish dare drink, unlike the
pussy Finns who copied Sweden's "systembolaget", (here called "alko")
which makes booze too expensive to drink.

More interesting than the president (supported in conan's show) would
be minister Karpela, former beauty queen
http://www.tanjakarpela.net/2004_san/loma.html
who has been inspired by an indian religious leader
http://www.ammachi.org/
who is now visiting Finland, the news say for the 7th time, (and
extremely heavily been critisized for that, and for being a woman) -
she dares be pussy, nothing is as sad as some pussy claiming to be
tough - and Finns are not.
(On the boards there is people saying their a-kind-of-idol conan should
visit Finland - why ? Only thing to see is the snow, and there is snow
closer, there is nothing in Finland that was not in other countries, as
well, the India leader, for example, would probably make a more
interesting trip)

Posted by: | October 19, 2005 03:51 AM

Things Conan should know about Finland:

http://www.elisanet.fi/independent.film.finland/things-conan-should-know-about-finland.htm

This is a open letter to Conan.
There is some (strange) and surprising facts, that everyone should know about Finland. Especially if great Conan conquers Finland.

Send me some tips about Finland as phenomenan - if it is something really interesting.

Posted by: ArhiKuittinen | November 11, 2005 04:29 PM

I just have to say a few things about this
issue thing between finns and swedes.
The story of war,plunder,rape and genocide
is the history of ALL the nordic countrys.
The danish,norweigans,swedes and finns have all killed each other, raided their nations
who's borders where in constant change.
In fact all of Europe is one long history
of bloodshed.
The finns i know, personal friends and
people i talked to is not "scared of swedes" as if anyone would be considered a tyrant by any other nordic nationality becouse of the numerous wars down in history.
Sweden have a very open system for minorities.
One of my finnish friends
during childhood got so called "home language" education in school in order to master his parents language (Finnish) better.
Finland is a free modern democratic nation.
They dont have to learn swedish to get a higher education anymore.
The Finland swedes is an old minority
and in Estonia there was such a minority
as well, but they where extincted after the
soviet occupation.
The finns got "sisu" and
have a nice underground music scene
and very skilled people in every area.
So if you are angry over finland copying
swedens losy system, stick your votes on another politician in the next election.

Posted by: bomfunk | February 19, 2006 02:02 PM

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