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Beijing, the end of the Olympic spirit
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-08-03 07:14:42
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The clock in the centre of Beijing counts down the last hours before the beginning of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese president Hu Jintao has appealed to the international media not to "politicize" the Beijing Games and, for the first time, I’m not going to watch the opening ceremony.

From the day I felt aware of myself and having a father who loved classic athletics I have watched all the Olympic Games religiously, three of them live and I always regret that due to other problems I couldn’t watch the last ones live in my home city Athens but I watched them on television. And this has nothing to do with me agreeing or not in a lot of things with the background of the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee. But for the first time after all these years I will keep away from an event I love by boycotting something I feel it is against my principals, politically, ethically and culturally.

The Olympic Games in Ancient Greece was not a celebration of colas, printers and watches it was a celebration of peace, the ultimate plea to gods to end the wars; it was the chance of the powerless to feel equal next to the big ones. For nearly ten days it was a chance for enemies to meet and see each other, talk and exchange ideas; it was a good chance for people to see different customs, different tastes different foods and enjoy different forms of art, music and theater. The Olympic Games gradually became the place that ideas and beliefs could be argued.

I think that was the dream of Pierre de Coubertin and Dimitris Vikelas when they decided to resurrect the dream of the Olympic Games and they put the foundations of the modern Olympics. The two men were inspired by the ancient spirit and decided that this would be a celebration of sports and ethics asking from the athletes to be amateurs and pure. The first winner of the marathon in the first Olympics was a simple man, a poor water-carrier with limited education who got his clothes from other athletes. That was the first to win an Olympic medal and his name was Spyros Louis.

This very same man, Spyros Louis became the symbol of the beauty of the Olympic Games the spirit of equality and peace became symbol of the opening ceremony for the Olympics that to my opinion twisted the meaning of the Olympic Games and became the beginning of the end of this institution, the '38 Olympics, Hitler’s Olympics. Hitler wanted something of the glamour of the first Olympics so he put first in the parade the old man. Berlin Olympics changed everything and they were twisted and controversial all the way. For the first time the Olympic Committee organized the games in a country that was preparing for war traversing all the Olympic ideals, perhaps they thought that the message will save the world but they failed, a few months after WWII started.

But the controversy and the twist didn’t finish there; USA got some of the proudest gold medals in Berlin from black people while black people suffered in the country, living all the discrimination and prejudice especially in the south starting from the separate toilets and schools to their right to elect and be elected. To get a medal it had nothing to do with pride and honor any more but with propaganda, nationalism and how many medals Nazi Germany or Russia got became very important for their propaganda. At the same time and because all the above somewhere between Berlin and Helsinki doping started.

Doctors and laboratories became part of the Olympic celebrations. This is the part where the Olympic Committee lost control and started flipping their interest to the financial part of the Olympic Games diving in a swamp of economic scandals and bribes. In the meantime all the principals of the Olympic Games, everything de Coubertin and Vikelas dreamed of vanished inside rivers of dollars and rubles.

To my opinion the Athens Olympics was a swan song of the Olympic Games, a last effect for a rebirth but cola, printers, watches and most of all politics won again, after all the profits are high, too high to risk. The choice of Beijing as the next city to organize the Olympic Games was the final cut in an anticipated death and even by watching it I feel that I participate in that.

It is not the pollution over Beijing which apparently shows the non-existent environmental policy from China, it is not only the child labor that thrived during the preparation of the Olympics but in this case a lot of western companies share responsibility because despite their sorrow tears they knew well what’s going on. It is not only the thousands dead from the most inhuman punishment, the capital punishment, it is not only the thousands of prisoners for their beliefs, it is not only the daily violation of the human rights in every corner of this gigantic country, it is not only the disrespect of the will of the Tibetan people, it is not the Chinese government’s support to regimes that embarrass humanity like the one in Burma, it is not the lack of information the lack of freedom of speech, it is not the prejudice and the discriminations it is all together. China is exactly the example of the country the Olympic Committee should avoid under any coast!

But as I said before the people of the IOC don’t count the cost in honor and principals but in dollars and Euros and the over a billion population country is a market of a lot of dollar and Euros. I suppose drug dealers think the same way, so what’s IOC’s difference with them?

I’m not going to watch the ceremonies that will try to cover up the thousands of dead and imprisoned. I’m not going to watch a ceremony that will try to cover the suppression of a nation, the Tibetan nation, I’m not going to watch the hypocrisy of people who preach democracy and accept to smile and hug people like Hu Jintao and everything he represents for a few seconds on television, I’m not going to watch the game of bribery and doping there is nothing of the Olympic spirit there at least regarding to what de Coubertin and Vikelas dreamed of.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 13:06:53
Your protest of the violation of the principles of the Olympic spirit is surely on target, Thanos. That spirit was indeed violated as soon the games began to be interpreted as nothing more than competition among nations. Within such a context they can only be conceived as an extension of war, at best a sublimation of war as Freud would put it, war being the ultimate focused violence and brutal competition from which men and entire nations derive their “glory.”

I find it intriguing that, as you point out, the original Olympics were an attempt at peace in a culture that was constantly at war. As such they were an obligatory respite from war. That was better than nothing but it seems to me that the flaw within such a brave attempt was the exclusion of women. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 13:08:23
It was after all a patriarchal culture which glorified and celebrated war. One is bound to ask how did this patriarchal culture originate? The question needs to be asked since it was not always so; it is well known by now that in Europe a matriarchal society precedes the patriarchal. The first religious impulse and the first figure of human worship that can be found in Europe, dating back to 35,000 BC, is not a god but a goddess: Magna Mater (or Gaia) which oversees a society matrifocal in nature built on a culture of equality and peace between the sexes. That was before being overrun by Indo-European invaders who introduced warrior gods, weaponry designed to kill human beings, and of course, patriarchal civilization with its de-emphasis of the feminine aspect of spirituality and introducing Zeus, the male god. Perhaps the silver lining in this line of thinking, what you call “the beginning of the end,” is this: that the demise of the Olympic spirit may signal the demise of a culture built on constant competition and war, the society of the likes of Mr. Karadzic conceiving of knowledge as mere power which has produced a devastated and polluted earth. Mother Gaia is certainly not pleased and we are beginning to gather the fruits of that displeasure. In other words, the return of the goddess Gaia may be at hand. And perhaps not. Time will surely tell.

Sand2008-08-03 14:15:59
As much as I admire women from almost every angle, both physically and psychologically and decry the economic and social inequality imposed upon them by a male dominated society I would hardly describe them as genetically peaceful. They now pilot the most destructive aircraft in war and the legendary single breasted Amazon warriors (see http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/11-10-2004-61463.asp) were as fierce as men.

I remember the violent faces of the screaming spitting women as the small group of black kids were escorted into school in the early days of the racist changes in the USA. As much as I would like to believe in the myth of the general benevolence of women it unfortunately has no background in human behavior.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 16:46:18

For more than a pancake thin superficial and spurious treatement of the theme of the radical difference between patriarchal and matriarchal cultures throughout history read the above link.

AP2008-08-03 17:17:09
I remember watching very entertaining and exciting sports moments during the Games. That's not what's in question. And (healthy) competition, as a sublimation of violence, I don't find it so bad - when one trains to excel in something, that is a constructive impulse. Imagine how the world would be if everyone would try to excel in something beautiful, creative or constructive, instead of trying to destroy others to feel power over them, or to feel better with his/her own failures. The IOC could in fact take advantage of the ancient Olympic Spirit and its authority in more constructive and less hypocrite ways. Will this strategy work? Not sure, but I don't think so - when we address the human rights and civic freedoms perpective of the subject. From a pure business, financial and propaganda perspective it will surely work and make profit. It's the (for some) old dilemma of conciliating both. The issue is: who are these 'some' and why do they find it so hard to conciliate profit with ethics?

Sand2008-08-03 17:32:59
It really takes almost no effort at all to spot the way large corporations are continuously ignoring ethics to favor their profits. It is, after all, what they were designed to do.I am surprised it is a surprise.

AP2008-08-03 18:04:53
I don't agree. There are many examples of successful businesses which don't need to be unethical to profit.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 18:07:18
In a positivistic world unconcerned with ethics, corporations become mere money making machines. They are part of the impersonal demiurge called the market. The market dictates, never mind ethics, never mind human nature and greed. That is the paradox: the more rationalism takes over the economic system the more disastrous to man's humanity it becomes.

AP2008-08-03 18:12:59
Saying "they were designed to do that" makes it feel as if it is not a choice, that it really is. Should anyone start regulating if corporations make profit based on the quality of services they lend instead of how much they smash human rights?

Sand2008-08-03 18:17:28
I never claimed that all corporations act unethically, merely that it is no problem to discover huge numbers that do. The current housing scandal is the direct result of many major financial corporations making insecure loans for profit and sending off the risks disguised as bonds to other corporations to crash into insubstantiality. The Blackwater security corporation continually violates common decency in dealing with the situation in Iraq. Arms manufacturers are continually fighting necessary gun control laws. The health situation in the USA is a total mess because the corporations in charge are more interested in profits than the health of the patients and the large drug corporations are equally guilty. Tobacco, Halliburton, etc. are common violators of ethical procedures as are many other large corporations. But that is exactly as they are constituted - to make huge profits no matter what. Of course there are many businesses that act ethically but look around! See how many are not!

Frances2008-08-03 18:18:36
That is what "capitalism" is about-- One of the main reasons that China is being criticized for.

Just as every other nation, China can't be perfect either.

Sand2008-08-03 18:28:31
The controls that should be in place to promote ethical behavior must emanate from governmental bodies but ever since Reagan convinced a good number of fools that the less government the better huge moneymaking corporations have corrupted governing bodies to limit their control over business. One only has to see the periodic crises over poisonous food, toys, insecure safety practices in factories, etc to see how business in general is destroying decent government. Katrina is an outstanding example of the horrible stupid inept government in control, not to speak of the international situation.

AP2008-08-03 18:31:56
The ones which are not -- they are not because someone let's them be not. It doesn't start as much in the government as in the awareness, critic sense and freedom of the citizens.
China can't be perfect. No country can. But the IOC should be ethical. No country which has not implemented certain basic human rights policies should host the Olympics. The IOC is not a common corporation either, and has certain responsibilities, even imposed by tradition and the original Olympic Spirit, that a common company doesn't have. It's a matter of courage, to assume that.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 18:35:58
Indeed it boils down to one's take of human nature and natural law. Are humans free to obey or disobey natural law and if not then one would have to conclude that they are determined. This is the paradox: if they are determined they are not ethically free and therefore it makes perfect sense to say that making money is their only obligation and concern. It would seem that logically and rationally, without positing a natural law the gordian knot of man's freedom vs. determinism cannot be untied. Perhaps we need women with their intuition and heart to explain that to the modern rationalists, the men without chest that roam the modern technological society with a fallacious paradigm that declares that "knowledge is power."

AP2008-08-03 18:43:17
Sand, do you miss the States sometimes?

Sand2008-08-03 18:54:32
Aside from the obvious ridiculous obverse of knowledge is power being ignorance is power, to idiotically declare that putting women in charge of everything will make everything alright works out of the assumption that men are genetically inferior to women. I don't find that any more acceptable than the current discrimination against women. One might as well say that rushing dogs, chimpanzees or penguins into power will solve all our ethical problems.

Ignorance, of course, is power - that is people who know how to push ignorant people around would love to see ignorance more generally distributed.
If you are interested in ethical behavior you have to have ethical people in charge whatever sex they may be and I don't pretend there are easy solutions as to how to bring that about. Being stupid or ignorant certainly will not help.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 19:02:08
You may want to begin with Marcus Aurelius "Meditations." He was not only a philosopher but a ruler too and was believed to be quite intelligent but he would probably advice that ethically challenged nihilistic monsters be not send to school for they will do much more harm with their education than if they had never gone to school. Of course ethically challenged humans do not buy that argument. How could they!

Frances2008-08-03 19:07:08
So, you're saying the IOC are not bright enough to make the right decision themselves? No matter what is going on, there will always be some people complaining; in this case, it happens to be you, unfortunately.

Talking about "ethics", human rights and such, there are 55 minorities all over China, (more than the number of countries in Europe) and there's not much fighting as much as on this continent, is there? China, as far as I know, hasn't installed the system to collect people's finger prints, bio-data, ect. which are supposed to be PRIVATE. Besides, she doesn't invade any country only for her own interest. Apparently, Chinese don't think they're more equal than the rest.

Sand2008-08-03 19:16:29
Do I miss the States?
That's not an easy question to answer. I have been around a little and found great beauty and great ugliness everywhere. I am in love with the entire planet and have found wonderful people in every nation and likewise totally stupid vicious bastards well distributed. I am in love with dogs, cats, elephants, penguins, lions, frogs, salamanders, snakes, rats, seagulls, hedgehogs, humans, paramecia, blepharisma, vorticella, sparrows, apple trees, rose bushes, and so on not quite ad infinitum. I despair over idiots who demand a reason for living when mere existence for the lousy few years I am permitted to spend as a living creature here is more wealth than most people dream of and severely underappreciated

I miss the New York of my youth when most of the museums were free and the Staten Island Ferry and an ice cream cone and a subway ride and a cup of coffee at the automate were a nickel. They are all as distant as the planet Mars now and just as unreachable.

The outreaches of Helsinki are not too different from New Jersey long ago and the city is amazingly well cared for and very clean and without slums. There are ducks here that I feed regularly just as I used to feed the ducks in Central Park lake and I don't regret coming here. The USA that I knew and loved no longer exists.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 19:24:00
Frances, I am curisous. Are you Chinese? If you are, I'd like to ask a question: have you ever heard of the gulags (there is a Chinese name for them which escapes me)of approximately on million people where people are sent simply for disagreeing with the government's ideology or positions? If you are unable to respond to the question, I will understand but will nevertheless remain curious.

Frances2008-08-03 19:31:44
Do I have to be a Chinese to know these common sense? :-P

And I'm not sure about the "gulags" you mentioned, is there any special time, as in which decade or century? But it might help if you search a bit under the name of "Chiang Kai-shek", because I remember their Party did lots of crazy and cruel things to ordinary non-party people. It's a start for you to understand modern Chinese history though.

Frances2008-08-03 19:32:58
*specific time*

Can't spell today.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 19:49:18
I am intrigued by your refusal to answer the question and you don't seem to know about the gulags. I will answer yours though: I am talking about today as we speak, not the time of Mao or Kay-Sheck. If you have never heard of them you might have to get some information, if you can, that is.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 19:53:01
P.S. I just remembered the Chinese name for the Gulags of China: laogais. Ever heard of them? I can give you some documented information if you so wish.

Frances2008-08-03 19:59:21
Sure, please do, as "Laogais" doesn't sound like Chinese.

Frances2008-08-03 20:20:12
Ah, I just read http://www.zenit.org/article-17837?l=english

Now I know what you meant. First off, I believe this Harry Wu's laogai experience was decades ago, which was still under the tension of the Party being violated by other forces, even including foreign countries. And nowadays "lao gai" is a place for those who committed not-so-serious crime or young people under 18 who committed serious crime (It's at least considerate to separate the teenagers from the REAL criminals, don't you agree?), and they're willing to leave the prison earlier than they should through hard-working.

Labor work is not considered as "slavery" in China any more as long as you do what you are able to, ie. parents encourage their kids to share some homework if they're capable. For those criminals, why are they exception sitting in the prison doing nothing?!

Secondly, it's difficult to deny the fact many people would say/do anything to get famous, let alone adding different colors onto facts in order to sell their books. I'm not saying that Mr. Wu was making up stories, but not everything he said about CURRENT China is true! (I wonder when his last visit in China was...)

I find so much information people get from the media is simply out-of-date. As people start to not to believe everything through their media, and see things on their own, they can make the judgment fairly then. Otherwise, they are all biased.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 20:56:17
Funny. Harry Hu was on TV this morning (The Washington Journal)and said the the last time he was in China he was arrested at the border and kept in jail for a few weeks. The only reason he was let go is that he is now an American citizen. It seems to me, even though you will not say, that what I am being fed is pure propaganda and I also suspect it is coming directly from China; which if true would be some sort of progress I suppose (the mere fact that you can now dialogue with the rest of the global village), but much remains to be done in the area of respect for human rights in China. I for one think that the IOC made a mistake in assigning the games to China without getting any guarantees on human rights.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-03 21:01:47

Frances, here above is another piece of information about the issue from Foreign Affairs, a respectable journal of political affairs. Is that too misinformed?

AP2008-08-03 21:37:21
"So, you're saying the IOC are not bright enough to make the right decision themselves?" They are not ethical enough, that's what I said. But I don't consider unethical decisions bright either. So yes, in a way. :P

Thanks Sand, sounds like an appealing city in your description, even if a long time ago. Now you just find something similar in Helsinki - but you don't ever visit NY anymore?
"have found wonderful people in every nation and likewise totally stupid vicious bastards well distributed"
I begin to find it surprising when bastards are not found... It begins to surprise me more if a person is good than selfish and manipulative. Is it the case that these last ones predominate? I wonder...

AP2008-08-03 21:41:36
Someone forgot to mention the "hit hard" campaign of the chinese government against crime, through which hundreds of small criminals receive letal injections or shots in the back of their necks in... public stadiums. Long live the Olympic Spirit! Stadiums are for sports and... mass murder.

Sand2008-08-03 21:49:57
I have not been kind in my comments on the present administration of the USA and since it seems the assignment of people to the "no fly" list is rather random a visit there might prevent me from returning home to Helsinki. It is too dangerous to make a visit there until "regime change" might make the country more welcoming.

AP2008-08-03 21:54:56
Then you plan a visit for when Obama is elected? :P

Sand2008-08-03 22:21:37
But why are you so interested in my plans? I have flown between Helsinki and New York many times and it has always been an uncomfortable 8 hours in a cramped position and now that fuel prices have gone through the roof the expense of the trip is enough to deter anyone. And what would I find of my old New York? Hardly anything worthwhile in a dirty noisy city full of people frightened of another 9/11. As an artist the museums might be interesting but overpriced. I can see the city again anytime I see a recent film and the old places are still recognizable but hardly tempting. I really don't need the old place anymore and although Obama can't be worse than Bush some of his senatorial votes indicate he will not vary significantly from the depressing trends towards restrictive civil liberties and invasion of privacy. And economically the place looks to take a steep nose dive. Not very tempting.

AP2008-08-03 23:04:34
You wouldn't find your old NY, but a different one. You must admit at least the museums, galleries and the arts scene in general are interesting. Perhaps it became too expensive, and maybe you have lost not only the old city but also some people there, or felt disgusted or disappointed somehow. Still also Helsinki (and Finland) has its flaws, it is not so unspotted. Your old city won't come back. But the current still has some things to offer.

AP2008-08-03 23:13:26
Make peace with your city, Sand. And forgive the Americans which are, in spite of all the arrogance and sometimes jealousy coming from Europe (and specially northern Europe, thinking it is "the owner of the intellect"), a great people.

AP2008-08-03 23:25:49
I don't like the invariably-injurious comments of northern europeans towards Americans. It's kind of racist, just as their general attitude towards southern Europe always as been. The "Arian superiority" still lives.

Frances2008-08-03 23:51:43
EP: Thanks for the link, but according to the date, it was in 1998, 10 years ago. A country can change a lot especially if you take a look at the speed in China these years.

But there's one thing I don't get from the material, why does the writer complain about "the remote location of prisons". For the sake of the majority's safety, we'd like to keep those murders or whatever criminals as far as possible. Or do you like the idea of living with them as neighbors? Obviously, northwestern cities in China have vast land without many citizens, so it is natural the prisons seem far away from crowds. They have nothing that makes sense to fuss about?

AP: You can keep your personal opinions as everybody else, no one is going to argue about that. I just want to ask "Have you ever been to China?" and "if so, for how long?" I certainly wouldn't make any judgment about one whole big nation without living there for some time at least.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-04 00:54:05
No Frances, I have never been in China, neither was I ever in the Soviet Union, nor in North Korea, nor was I ever in Nazi Germany but I need not have been there to know about the despicable violations of human rights that have happened and are still going on. Obviously you are Chinese writing from China but you will not say, perhaps cannot say. That not that fact give you pause? Mind you, I personally I have nothing against the Chinese people who are the inheritors of a great history and civilization. My complaint as well as the editors of this magazine and other concerned contributors and readers is with a government that while being proud of its material progress, tolerates no opposition to its ideology, violates the human rights of its own citizens (such as free speech and freedom of religion, just to mention two), destroys the ancient culture of a people that would like to be free or at least autonomous, the Tibetans. No amount of Olympic hoopla can erase those realities, well known to the free world. To imitate only the material prosperity of the West and its neglect of spiritual realities is indeed to imitate not the best but the worst. As Jefferson said a long time ago: a people who sacrifices its liberties for material prosperity deserves to lose both.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-04 00:57:34
Errata above: "that not" on the fifth line ought to be "Does not."

AP2008-08-04 01:29:13
Dear Frances:

You need to learn that judging a government is not judging a country. Fortunately, I don't need to go to Zimbabwe to know that Mugabe is a criminal. The media - praise them for that - at least allow one to know it abroad. I would never judge a "vast country" with many cultural aspects that I absolutely love and like to learn about, but I judge a government which absolutely oppresses those different ethnic groups under its authority and their cultural manifestations and the basic freedoms of its citizens, and doesn't admit freedom of speech.

AP2008-08-04 01:46:32
ps - have you thought, Frances, if we could have this discussion in a chinese blog? and why not?
I love chinese history, calligraphy, food, traditional and contemporary arts, organization capacity and many more qualities. But I don't like the chinese government. The Olympics won't do any good, the government uses them as propaganda and I'm sure that even the athletes who will travel there will not see the common-citizen everyday China.

AP2008-08-04 02:00:13
You see, criticizing a government can actually mean loving a people.

Sand2008-08-04 03:17:03
You judge too quickly and easily about general attitudes of "northern peoples". I judge from personal experience with individual contacts. A nation's people in general is neither great nor inferior. I judge individuals and they vary greatly from nation to nation. I wonder greatly about how Bush could have been re-elected after he so clearly demonstrated the directions in which he moved after his first term. I do not think Obama will move swiftly enough or with sufficient conviction to supply the remedies necessary to reverse the rapid destruction of all the traditions that held the USA to be great even though they were obviously flawed by great hypocrisies from its inception. I am sad for seeing the reality but I cannot deceive myself as to its importance.

AP2008-08-04 13:37:51
Dear Sand,

If you want me to be more accurate and precise, for Too Many times I heard friends of mine - and specially finnish men - saying they don't like the Brits nor the French, the Swedish nor the Russians nor the Italians or Spaniards... but invariably and absolutely demolishing the Americans. Those just seem to like Finns themselves, Germans... and the Chinese government. That's not something to copy. I disagree: every nation's people is great and none inferior. You wonder how Bush was elected and you don't think Spaniards still wonder how Franco was elected or Germans still feel guilty for electing Hitler or... I mean, you seem to have a too idealistic vision - America is not allowed to commit mistakes, or you actually think Finland doesn't too, and pretty bad ones? I had many times the experience of being discriminated in Finland as a foreigner and Southern European. It even happened to me that, wanting to report an offense against a finnish citizen in Finland, they did not allow me to do it while making racist comments, in spite of being a EU citizen! Is that a democratic country for you? Be it.

AP2008-08-04 13:48:01
Oh, by the way, we don't need to talk about the role of the vast majority of black skin people in the wonderful finnish society, need we? You just have to walk around the centre of the city around 5-6 am to see that, most of the times, the only job they are allowed to do is to clean the vomit of the drunkards in the pubs. At least praise your home country for allowing black people and latino people to do more than that. The only exception I know are the indian engineers who go to work for Nokia and then back after a couple of years.

AP2008-08-04 14:11:16
Nokia is that company which large majority of capital is now... American (schhh... keep it secret!!). It also happened to me before, for example, to apply for a job for which there were 3 candidates: me, an asian girl and a finnish girl coming from the countryside. In spite of the fact that clearly/pretty obviously both me and the asian girl had better qualifications for the place and developed our ideas more strongly in front of the juri, the finnish girl, with no experience whatsoever and no ideas one could even mention, got the place. This is just one between a million examples. Also for iraquis/moroccans/turks/italians there seems to be a quite fatal place in Finnish society: to own kebab/pizza ravintolas.
For many Finns, the Spanish are very noisy and "uneducated", but the place actually serves well their intentions as a holiday playground where to get drunk and provoke damages. Italian constructions are awful and finnish men are incredibly jealous of italian and french men, but it's nice to bring photos from your vacations there to show to your friends. Brits and Sweds are snobs, Russians are rude... only Germans seem to be nice because... they eat many sausages too (is it?). Still, comments against Americans are something unbelievable when compared to these examples above. In the words of many Finns, they are a collective anonymous mass of dumb, fat, extremely stupid and ignorant people, with no brains even. It's incredible how verbally agressive they can get about Americans. That's not something I like. At the same time, everything the Finns criticize in America they copy and overstate. Like capitalism.

AP2008-08-04 14:44:36
I won't even develop much my ideas around another extremely racist phenomenon: the fact that sex is many times faced, in Finnish society, as - with the help of money, or of "being richer" than other countries - a tool to have power over people from other places. I mean, I know and I believe in Finland many people know the cases of old and not so old men going to Thailand and India to explore one or many girls sexually, or even bring them to use them as their personal sexual toys. Many finnish men actually face african, south european and south american women the same way - as something they can buy and use with no respect whatsoever for their rights as human beings. I also know the cases of my black skin male friends in Finland who are sexually harassed all the time on the street by finnish women , as if they had no rights nor the right to be respected as citizens just because they are... faced as a "black exotic starter" by them, and as such considered as mere sexual toys. There is this quite common thing too: finnish women going abroad to get pregnant of a stranger (joining the useful to the pleasurable...), coming back to Finland and not telling the fathers that they are fathers, or only telling them many years after. I know personally at least the cases of an American guy, a black skin guy from Lisbon and a British guy to whom this happened - the fact that it is the country in the world with more single moms/single-parent families has, in part, to do with this. All these behaviors don't show very humane values and I see no one trying to stop them, on the contrary.

AP2008-08-04 15:01:07
So please, after witnessing all this and some other important things I didn't mention, don't talk about American hypocrisy. And for you: don't immitate not laudable hate.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-04 15:17:33
Given that this is a free forum with unlimited space for comments where nothing is censored and free speech is respected, and we are encouraged to “get it off our chest” (if we have one that is…) and converse with one another in a fair mode, and disagree without becoming disagreeable and boorish, let me interlope and add my own two cents too. I would have to strongly agree with Alexandra’s comments about a simple-minded anti-Americanism issuing from a simple-minded nationalism. Every time I go to Europe, which is almost every year, it gets more virulent. One can blame it all on Bush and his cowboy diplomacy, but the phenomenon is symptomatic of something more grave. A preliminary diagnosis is this paradox: that the anti-Americanism is proportionally related to the imitation of all the worst and coarser features of American popular culture while the best is simply ignored or is unknown. Jung would probably define it as a case of cultural projection. One projects on the other all one’s fault. What makes the phenomenon sadder and more disturbing is that allegedly the old nationalism is supposed to have disappeared now that the EU has given everybody a European identity. As they, say, between theory and practice there is an ocean in between. In Italy after the unification was achieved, its architects proclaimed that “now that we have made Italy we need to make the Italians.” I suppose that, pari passu, the same applies for the EU architects: now that we have made Europe we need to make the Europeans. The cart has been put before the horse.

AP2008-08-04 15:18:29
Behind many of these behaviors there is this racist superiority disgusting belief: "poorer have no brains and no education... and no culture". Even the national laws confirm this: the Finnish law concedes special benefits for northern countries' citizens when applying for public jobs in Finland and in the recognition of their qualifications in Finland, when it shouldn't be like that - the conditions should be the same for all the EU citizens there!! Inequalities inside the EU on how citizens of different countries are treated are obvious! A Finn can come to Portugal, stay for as long as he wants even if not working (as is the case of at least 4000 Finns in the Algarve), work here because his qualifications are recognized, etc. I can stay in Finland for 3 months only or have to earn at least 1000 euros per month in a short period to be able to stay there after that, the fact that I work in Finland doesn't guarantee that I have access to social security as foreigner - as is the case of a friend of mine -, I show up with a degree from the oldest and one of the most credible universities in Europe and the finnish board "is going to decide" if I can work, and I have to go through that. What kind of EU deal is that?

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-04 15:25:25
P.S. Those in America who have concepts of superior thoughts and superior races, are invariable the same that have changed thei immigrant last name and adopted an Anglo Saxon one to appear more Arian and superior. Of course the case of the African-Americans is an exception: they were stuck with the last name of their masters. That explains Malcom X's protest and perhaps Jesse James wanting to castrate Barack Obama who dares to sport an African name and may become our next president. Ah, the ironies of history.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-04 15:32:07
Errata in line 2: "thei" should be "their." I can spell but make typos like most other contributors. I regret them but do not apologize for them; they are inevitable; one finds them even in books and magazines, never mind comment boxes.

AP2008-08-04 16:54:38
For those who don't know the place, I would like to state clearly that you cannot by any way get an ice cream cone, a subway ride or a cup of coffee by one nickel in Helsinki, like in Sand's old NY :P And museums are far from being free. It is not a cheap place, but actually a pretty expensive one, at least for most living creatures in this world. A single red or yellow pepper there costs the same as a whole kilo of them in my home Iberia, a piece of cake in a cafeteria costs 100-150% more. And it's all Europe. Now imagine the unbalance to Africa or South America. It is proportional to the difference in salaries and how well richness is distributed. Portuguese are some of the best clients of Nokia, with millions of mobile phones bought. Most of Nokia capital is American. Most of its richness stays in Finland.

AP2008-08-04 17:04:56
Well, Mr. Paparella, I would say not only simple-minded anti-Americanism as a tremendous selfishness. Estonians, on the other hand, "are okay", not as much because of having been victims of the rude Russians as because of representing a place that Finnish companies can nowadays "colonize" and make profit with, besides being another holiday playground where to get cheaper... alcohol.

Sand2008-08-04 18:22:19
Comparing New York City of 1935 to Helsinki in 2008 pricewise is one of the most peculiar exercises I have yet to come across.

AP2008-08-04 18:36:07
But you have done it to justify your (present) disgust for NY, Sand... of course you will not find those prices anywhere now, so that's no valid justification. Is it that you find Latinos and others "corrupted" your old city?

AP2008-08-04 18:36:27
But you have done it to justify your (present) disgust for NY, Sand... of course you will not find those prices anywhere now, so that's no valid justification. Is it that you find Latinos and others "corrupted" your old city?

AP2008-08-04 19:10:29
Oh, I know another exception: a black skin guy who co-owns a gallery with his finnish wife and recently (May) was brutally spanked (I mean almost killed) on the streets of Helsinki, on a weekend, at night, by someone who simply hates black skin people.

Sand2008-08-04 19:27:53
Ah. I see. You want me to admit some sort of basic dislike for Latinos that have destroyed a New York that existed about 70 years ago. The concepts keep getting stranger. I have nothing against Latinos. I lived in a Latino neighborhood in New York for a short time at the beginning of this century. I found their life styles quite different from mine but the ones I encountered were reasonable and no more objectionable than any other New Yorkers. They frequently held loud parties until three am so I couldn't sleep which is in direct contrast to the Finns who are generally quite quiet people but that probably was a local situation and I don't generalize about nationalities. The streets were unkempt because the city services were not as assiduous as they were in central Manhattan but that was the responsibility of the city administration and not the local people. It was the city as a whole, not the Latinos, that made the changes. The bureaucracy was frightful, the subway service was undependable, the buses traveled in herds as if they were afraid of predators in direct contrast to the bus service in Helsinki which is so precise that the issued time tables are at most a minute or two off. And the general city noise of ambulances, fire engines, police sirens and of course, the automobile alarms that went on multiply and continuously most of the night was rather terrible. I do not blame that on the Latinos. The city in general was a mess and I am delighted to be away from it.

Sand2008-08-04 19:31:16
I am sorry for your black friend. I had several black friends in New York and I assure you Helsinki is not alone in its mistreatment of blacks but what is an unusual event in Helsinki is a bit more common in the USA.

AP2008-08-04 19:40:13
I don't want you to admit anything. I was posing many different hypothesis. I just can't understand anti-Americanism coming from... an American. Do you hate yourself or think you are better?

"I have been around a little and found great beauty and great ugliness everywhere. I am in love with the entire planet" --> you should at least have excluded NY from that

AP2008-08-04 19:41:25
I know - but people cover their eyes and it's not even in news. In other places it would be.

Sand2008-08-04 19:54:59
Again you leap to odd conclusions. I never said that New York wasn't beautiful. Watching the sun set between the tall buildings on west side Manhattan is very impressive as the glass flashes brilliant rays between the buildings. Times Square with its LasVegas advertising chaos is modern pop art at its most extravagant. And Central Park is still a fantastic wonder. The Museum Of Natural History has always been a world wonder and still is. The metropolitan Museum, The Cooper Museum, the Guggenheim and quite a few others are most worthwhile. But I can live without them with no problem. The same sun shines on Helsinki and it too is a very lovely place. Black and white kids here play and go to school and, frustrating to me who is no linguist, Africans speak Finnish like natives and are employed everywhere as are people from the Middle East and Far East.
My wife and my son and his three children are Finns and fully enjoy a country that appreciates and takes care of its natural beauty.
Why should I not want to stay here?

AP2008-08-04 20:07:45
I recall a man being killed with an axe in his head inside a very punctual Helsinki metro. And several people being killed with an axe too inside a camping tent. The country with more legal guns per number of inhabitants. And several teenagers being shot down in a high school. Also recall the E train not coming for several times. And the kids with swastika tattoos or Nazi uniform jackets stealing ciders in R-Kioskis. The murders among motocyclist gangs.

"a country that appreciates and takes care of its natural beauty"
This reminds me of 8 nuclear plants, the pollution of the Baltic sea and the cutting of Finnish forests.

Please don't say half the truth, that's not intellectually honest. Say the bad things about it too, it's more realistic.

Sand2008-08-04 20:16:19
Are you really serious about comparing ecology and violence between the USA and Finland? I'm beginning to suspect you are as wacky as Mr.P.
What happened to you in Finland to arouse all this animosity?

AP2008-08-04 20:27:26
You were the one who started comparing the frequence of crimes in an one-million inhabitants city with the frequence of crimes in an eight-nine million inhabitants city...
You call the other side of facts animosity? It's just reality.
The only thing that happened is that I'm tired of hypocrisy, and also of (in this case Finnish) racism. Nothing which hasn't happened many people before.

Sand2008-08-04 20:34:27
I've lived in both cities for many years. I don't need any statistical analyses to argue about. I know how it feels and how I react. I am no hypocrite. I know damned well what I prefer and what I consider more important.

AP2008-08-04 20:46:15
For you, it doesn't matter at what cost those "important things" are get? For me it does.
I didn't call you a hypocrite, I said how much hypocrisy there is in talking about Finland as "Paradise on the land"... and almost all other places/people being bad. I heard this kind of speech many times.

Sand2008-08-04 21:09:06
I'm afraid this kind of distortion is getting out of hand. I really don't appreciate your placing statements on me that I haven't made. I never said every place is bad but Finland. And I never claimed Finland is perfect. I merely compared it to the USA where they are chopping off mountain tops in West Virginia and dumping them into the valleys, where the agricultural runoff from the rivers are killing all life in the near seas, where New Orleans is still a total mess, where, seven years after 9/11 they still don't know what they're doing at the building site, where they are trying to remedy the oil costs by drilling which will be entirely ineffective even ten years from now, where the voting machines for the coming presidential elections are an open welcome to corruption and indeterminate counts, where people are having to decide between buying food or medicine, where the number of kids who can't read is an open scandal, where the financial firms who rewarded their CEOs with millions for destroying public confidence in the system are further rewarded by a corrupt Congress with huge financial support, where the public still believes that it's possible to "succeed" in Iraq, and so on.
Of course, Finland has neither the military power or the money or the inclination for such awful foolishness and I cannot say if that is because of Finnish character but I'm very glad it's not happening here.

AP2008-08-04 22:36:42
Oh, so are Finnish politicians incorruptible and they do not commit foolishnesses? And finnish policemen? Is it all really separated by borders, Sand? How many children in the world cannot read so that the Finnish ones can learn how to do it and for free? How many can't have something to dress so that the finnish ones can be flooded in toys? Is consumption restricted to the US? That's a profound lie, as waste and over-abundance is common in many european countries, among which is Finland. Is it all a matter of borders? Who gives profits to finnish companies to pay the salaries of parents, who pay the taxes so that the finnish children can learn for free? It isn't the short 5-million finnish market giving those profits for sure. Can't you see no one is free from responsibility anymore? When markets are global, what sense do nationalisms or anti-nationalisms make?
Once again, the scale of the US, when we address problems (but also good aspects) has nothing to do with Finland.
Finnish parliament is not corrupt? LOL
Solar energy is being developed in the States. Geothermal energy is an effort Finland has barely made when we compare it, for example, with the 'snobbish' Sweds.
Do you by chance think Finland is free from corruption in elections? And from awful environmental crimes? And even a dictatorship? I don't think any State is. Are Finns special? More educated and cult? More civilized? Untouchable by bad luck or bad policies?
In the States there are also many worthy ecology projects, many grants for researchers to discover new alternatives and technologies, good arts and quality culture, increasingly more families with totally green houses and increasing awareness. Is it too slow? Maybe not as fast as we would all wish. But you can't deny it also happens.

I remember the first finnish female friend I had, a very progressive girl, complaining that she once saw a spanish mother shouting at her child on the beach and how "spaniards were not environmentally educated". It happened to be a total prejudice, but the overt or covert belief that they are more "civilized" than southern europeans is very common even among younger finnish generations. That's shocking. Her parents happened to retire to Spain and make their profitable business there, among the "uneducated" people.
It's not hard to find silence in a place where, as a Finn friend of mine jokes with, "if you talk inside a train you are almost considered abnormal and everybody looks at you for doing so". Or where the man at the public library or the university teacher are unable to make eye contact when they speak at you. Plus the volume of voice has absolutely no relation with the truthfulness of what you communicate, which is in my opinion the most important.
One of my favourite beaches in the South of the Iberian Peninsula is one of the cleanest large public-accessible beaches in the world, and it's not easy to find one as contamined in the South of Europe as many lakes that surround Helsinki, for example.

AP2008-08-04 22:45:47
So there are many fallacies and untold truths in common speeches about Finland. Propaganda too?

AP2008-08-04 23:44:16
How many Finnish companies sell products to and do business with the US? Is their responsibility somewhere behind curtains? I know cases of companies which even sell products (like reality shows) to Los Angeles producers. So the Americans are stupid but they are okay if we want to profit with them - and even sell them stupid products? Just like Southern Europeans... Once again the hypocrisy.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-05 05:01:03
Actually anti-Americanism coming from an American is not that difficult to understand, Ms. Pereira. It's a way of standing out and being an enlightened elitist looking down one's nose to the unwashed ignorant masses. This is meant ironically, by the way. I can see Mr. S. disengeniously trying to put the statement in my mouth now; he is very capable of that devious tactic.

The first step is to change one's last name and maybe even one's first name and acquire an Anglo Saxon one. Then one can belong to the superior race. The second is to leave the unwashed masses when the going gets tough and go live abroad, but not in Africa, like Shweitzer, whose champion they think they are, in theory, but in one of the Scandinavian lily white, silent, clean country where their elitism is accepted and encouraged. You put your finger on it: it is a form of masochism and self-hatred. Oh. most of them consider themselves "citizens of the world" which in reality means they have no obligations or responsibilities or loyalty to any community. They go where the opportunities present themselves. How convenient indeed.

Sand2008-08-05 07:42:07
Mr.P., as I have noted before, is not worth confronting since nothing he says makes any sense.But AP, I am taken aback at the violent prejudice you have exhibited in your hatred of Finland. No doubt you might have encountered a few Finns with unjustified opinions but he venom in your statements betrays something extraordinary. I'll leave it at that since your opinions in vilifying Finland seem immovable. My personal contacts here indicate nothing of the nastiness and total corruption you imply and I am not blind to the acts of the few mentally disturbed individuals here whose type can be discovered in any country. They are not characteristic, in my experience, of the country in general but it is becoming very evident you cannot be convinced otherwise so I will not try.

AP2008-08-05 15:21:08
I don't hate any country, not Finland nor any other. You are the one distorting things. I hate the hypocrisy of trying to advertise a "clean" and "pure" (the blonder the better... don't forget still the belief of many Finns that they have to "protect the race" so it will not "disappear" - I heard this fear from the mouth of quite a few finnish university students - something unbelievable and that you wouldn't ever by any chance commonly hear from the mouth of spanish or italian or portuguese or even uk or us youngsters - unless they would be degenerated skinheads - without being socially condemned by everybody... in Finland it's okay and "in a way they are right"). A "lovely" place where materialism abounds and reaches in some cases the level of totally obscene (think about the exaggerated amounts spent in alcohol or restaurant meals - many finns enjoy having almost every meal in expensive restaurants and I always recall the sad joke by a northeast brazilian in Brazil "the most out of my place I ever ate was in the yard" - or even spent by helsinki citizens with "common salaries" playing with business men from Dubai in the local casino - also know such cases - and how many people they would feed, or the ferraris and lamborghinis and bentleys one happens to see). Education about global effects and consequences of your actions and empathy towards other world citizens seems to fail most of the times (the world is nice to "go on holidays" or have "exotic experiences", that's the attitude of the majority).
Above all, I hate the belief that you "have the right" to all priviledges because you are "more civilized" than the rest of the world - which is a profound lie. The paranoia of self-sufficiency in case of a future war covers and legitimates the economic interest and environmental attack of one nuclear plant after the other. What is their energy used for? In part, to feed hundreds of single-family homes in the outskirts of Helsinki an other cities with several floors covered with marble stone heated by electrical resistances... and their respective saunas. I remember Nigeria friends walking on the street and finnish women coming to them, proposing them to spend a random night with them, with just one single condition: not to use a condom. HIV medications are free for... Finnish citizens. All these and other behaviors showing no empathy nor respect for human and legal rights or feelings are more the sign of a stone age society than a developed or "educated" one.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-05 15:37:12
Indeed, they think they are enlightened because they are clever and "modern" but neither is necessarely a sign of genuine intelligence when reason is divorced from imagination and intuition and reduced to logic and rationalism. The think they are part of the solution but in reality they are part of the problem. Mr. S. will now call the ambulance... for a final ultimate solution.

On the mixing of races. In Italy where you have the mixing of minimum a couple of dozens races, they have understoo one thing a long time ago that neither Nietzsche nor Hitler ever understood: the more bastardized is a race the more resilient and intelligent. The royal houses of Europe began begetting imbeciles exactly because there was too much interbreeding among them.

AP2008-08-05 15:41:37
Plus I didn't imply total corruption. I implied that Finland is not immune to that neither presently nor in the future, and the only reason why it can be happening less (which I'm not totally sure, because things tend to be covered...) is that it is presently more priviledged financially. That priviledge doesn't come from any inner quality, but from exploring global markets... including the "stupid american one" and others that they disconsider. Political and financial scandals will burst also in Finland, as human nature is the same everywhere and "arians" are as honest as anyone else.

Sand2008-08-05 15:54:46
I must say you must have peculiar luck in your encounter with Finns. I have lived in Helsinki, on and off for over 40 years and never heard anybody speak of preserving Finnish purity. Others have made the remarks about Scandinavian blonds and so I took note of the number of blonds, redheads, brunettes, etc. several times while riding public transportation and the ratio is pretty much the same as a typical ride on the New York subway system. I cannot vouch for the naturalness of the hair color except for the number of people with green or purple hair that seem also more to match the ratios in New York. The number of macho guys who invite strange girls to fuck is in New York is reasonably large but I have no idea as to how common that is in Helsinki. Perhaps Washington DC might be a good place to make comparisons. I am not sure what you mean by "civilized" but the number of American aircraft that "clear an area" in Iraq with indiscriminate bombs is probably not much different from the number of Israelis that pop off Palestinian kids or, to be fair, Palestinian suicide bombers who blast Israeli citizens although many more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis. Was Truman "civilized" when he ordered over one hundred thousand Japanese civilians simultaneously fried? There are no clean hands around the world but Finns have nor really knocked off enough innocents lately to be considered uncivilized. Of course, Portugal had Salazar and Finland had Männerheim who did some rather awful things in the past but how far in time would you prefer to look. There are lots of dirty hands around.Incidentally, I do all my own cooking and baking and I don't drink and have no opportunities and small inclination these last few years for any fucking. I really don't give a damn if Finns like to drink. Looking at the world in general it does not seem a unique predisposition. None of my acquaintances here have confided in my their relationships with women, local or otherwise and I never ask.
I do not expect this information will moderate your torrent of vilification to any degree whatsoever.

AP2008-08-05 16:08:09
Don't forget that the typical blod hair-gree eyes Finnish phenotype represents genetically 2 or 3 recessive characteristics, and that argument is used by nationalists with the enthusiasm of someone who defends a rare type of wild fox, or of a Batman engaged in the mission of saving the "beauty" of the world.

Sand2008-08-05 16:27:39
Sorry about that last submission full of typos. I am eating lunch and was not too careful. I apologize for sloppy work and will try to do better.

I am not sure whether or not you are or have been in Finland. I travel the streets quite often and have yet to encounter Batman defending phenotypes. Or, for that matter has the Joker made an appearance. I'll keep an eye out.

Insofar as Finnish appreciation of beauty is concerned if you have been subject to the tons of daily distributed advertising here you must have noticed many very good looking black people used as clothing models. This should indicate something in the way of Finnish standards of beauty.

AP2008-08-05 16:55:04
"blond hair-green eyes"

"the ratio is the same"? - that just confirms that hairdressers are in fact very popular and another place where "Helsinkians" like to spend rivers of money every month, or being a finnish grandfather you never noticed how kids find it "funky" and "gothic" to colour their hair in black when they are so pale, or in whatever colours, and the ladies, and that even blond men quite often like to bleach their hair "blonder"? Finns in general actually invest incredible amounts in appearances, like clothes, gadgets, hairdressers, trips, mountain bikes, golf and ski accessories, laptops, drinks, bet games, etc.

Either I have peculiar luck or you close your eyes to many things. Hummm... I find this last one more likely.

I didn't mention the fucking for the fucking (which I could have, and doesn't champion humanity either, but inner emptiness or simply frivolous lives... it is characteristic of western societies but nordics are proud, "modern" and surprisingly often unprotected "educated" practicers too... which among other edifying results gave birth to a specific "brand" of resistant chlamydia, swedish/finn-made), instead I related it with exploitation and racism.

I don't have a problem with the fact that Finns drink, but with the hypocrisy of a government which profits with it and the fact that the problem (it is actually a deep public health problem) isn't even mentioned in schools. Besides, an epidemic phenomenon as it is in Finland, it obviously serves to allienate the citizens. Don't know what rest of the world you are thinking about, but by portuguese/spanish/italian/greek standards 70% of Finns are alcoholics and Muslims don't even drink.

Can't see what Israelis and Palestinians have to do with this, but whatever. If you live in Alice's Wonderland and think Finns have no relation with American bombs, or that they are not as nasty as others, I'm sorry for you.

Sand2008-08-05 17:05:07
Wow, lady. Do you have to take an anti-acid pill after that kind of emotion? Gaviscon is pretty good. It coats the esophagus all the way down.

AP2008-08-05 17:30:06
You asked for more accuracy and detail... you got it. It's easier to joke about it now.

Sand2008-08-05 17:52:08
As I said, I have live here for around 40 years. Apparently we have differences as to the definition of accuracy.

AP2008-08-05 18:56:59
And truth. You apparently have a romanticized vision resulting from the fact that your family is Finnish maybe? Last time we had this discussion, a couple of days after there was that high-school shooting and Ovi was publishing a cover with the title: "Finland: the end of innocence" - remember? Then there was this finnish boy sending hatred comments against Americans (who else?) and how they "influence the world"... I wait for the next episode of violence, political corruption or a financial scandal. The true Finnish "reality show".

Sand2008-08-05 19:18:43
And you are so eager to claim that a single psychotic incident portrays the nature of a nation. Have you the same standards for the USA (which you admire so much) where school shootings occur every other week? Can you somehow fit Timothy McVeigh into the picture, and the uni bomber and all those people rushing in to slaughter co-workers that occur with strange frequency. I have no idea but has this never happened in Portugal? Are you so naive as to assume a few nuts determine the nature of a nation?

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-05 19:31:21
I may be wrong but what Ms. Pereira, might have been trying to convey to your obturate mind, alas in vain, to Mr. S. is that a few nuts indeed convey what human nature is capable of and perhaps that there is nobody, not even Mr. S. in all his respendent perfection with anglo-saxon name..., who ia able to obey the natural law perfectly. When that simple notion sinks in, I suggest that you will have a different more profound view of what religion vis a vis human nature is all about. Right now all you can do it trivialize and caricaturize. Too bad!

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-05 19:37:45
Errata: with anglo-saxon name should be "with an anglo saxon name." "To" ought to be eliminated in line two; "ia" ought to be "is." Gotcha! before the respelendent tropical bird says it. What is his name? Or is it your pre-programmed computer? Whichever it is, it an impressive show of artificial intelligence. I propose we nomeinate them both for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-05 19:39:44
Errata; nominate is mispelled as "nomeinate." Gotcha.

Sand2008-08-05 19:40:03
I'm really not interested in your silly nonsense, P. I'm talking to someone else.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-05 19:42:52
Yes S. You do that a lot. but those voices that keep visiting you have not shown yet a minumum of common sense.

Sand2008-08-05 19:49:02
Since you are so familiar with odd voices, P., its obvious you're somewhat schizophrenic. I'm not interested.

AP2008-08-05 20:04:20
No, I'm not. Was that what I said, Sand? For God (or the Martians) sake. What I said was: you know how the myth of the untouchable usually ends? With self-destruction.

Why instead of burying the head in the sand, real prevention/educational measures for drugs and alcohol abuse aren't taken? And why not implementing family planning measures with slogans like: "Moms: your children need a father! Dads have the right to be pregnant too!" or "A baby is not your private toy" (with drawings) It's like a complete caricature for us, but things are in fact so extreme that it would be necessary! Or educational campaigns with a photo of a poor Thai girl (or a black skin man) and as subtitle the slogan "This is not your private toy" or a slum in Rio and the sign "Poor is not dumb" or even a retarded blond child (or Hitler, which many Finnish kids find so cool) and the shocking "Pure Arian" to explain the long-term results of endogamy even more clearly.

ps - I can give you the contacts of the beaten and the harassed black skin people, as well as of the university students who recognized "saving the race" was a worry... for you to know peculiar Finns too.

As a matter of fact it hasn't, not with such proportions. It happened someone killing one or two colleagues, but not a massive slaughter. No one blamed the Americans, the debate following the crime was around national gun control and education policies. But we are not free from such thing, and I'm sure everyone is QUITE aware of that - we might just be slighty more free than the country with more legal weapons per capita. Why is the suicide of teenagers with guns so high in Switzerland? Because of the Americans? Because they have a terrible life there? No, because they have very easy access to guns.

ps-2008-08-05 20:20:44
I know nothing about this side game of names but maybe, Sand, it would be better if you could clarify: what is exactly your ascendance and have you/family ever changed name? It's parallel to the discussion and not important to me, but because of the insinuations.

Sand2008-08-05 20:23:00
Frankly, AP, I don't hanker after meeting with vicious idiots, Finnish or otherwise. I am not politically active and I have other interests. Since you are so concerned I'm sure you would find sympathetic contacts even here in Finland. The Finns I know are reasonable and congenial and we enjoy each other's company. I have no idea whether or not they have guns. It has never concerned me, one way or another and nobody I know has made a display of them. My friends work hard, they enjoy drinking moderately, they care for their kids who all get a decent education and they have terrific vacations in wonderful Finnish localities. It seems a great life to me and I have no complaints.

Sand2008-08-05 20:24:39
ps none of your business.

AP2008-08-05 20:51:23
"The Finns I know are reasonable and congenial" - All the ones you know are like that? Boy, you are lucky! Specially being American.

"have no idea whether or not they have guns. It has never concerned me, one way or another" ---> head in the... sand

"they enjoy drinking moderately" --> euphemism

"and they have terrific vacations in wonderful Finnish localities" ---> LOL, man you're very very funny! :P

" The United States is one of the main long-haul destinations for Finns. In 2006, over 95,000 Finns traveled to the United States. However, the number is expected to increase in the near future. Florida, California, and New York continue to be the best prospects for the U.S. travel industry. First time travelers, families with children and senior citizens favor Florida, whereas younger people and experienced travelers favor the West Coast.

A growing interest in travel has increased the number of Finns traveling abroad. Finns favor long-haul travel and Mediterranean destinations. Majority of Finns traveling abroad, favor sun and sand followed by city destinations. T he most active travelers are from the capital area, well educated, and belong to the upper middle class.

Although Finns generally favor sun and sand and city destinations, a growing number of travelers are looking for activity holidays. Local culture, golf, fishing, diving, sailing, skiing and many other activities have become important for Finns when traveling abroad. Therefore, Finns have shown interest in other destinations such as Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Mexico.

In 2006, Finns made 43,000 business trips to the United States. This number is expected to increase in the future. New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are the most important destinations for Finnish business people."

"ps none of your business" --> transparency

Sand2008-08-05 21:03:48
Fine. Our conversation is finished.

AP2008-08-05 21:05:33
Mr. P. what do you mean that he changed his name from what and with what type of intention?

Someone long ago in my family changed his last name to Pereira, he was a Jew. I'm not ashamed of that, but of the fact that he was forced to change.

AP2008-08-05 21:30:05
"Fine. Our conversation is finished."
Now that it was becoming intriguing.

AP2008-08-05 22:07:35
Your finn friends are specially humble. Mines have "terrific vacations in wonderful Finnish localities" such as India, Japan, Egypt, Croatia, New Zealand, Peru, Brazil, Greek Islands, Thailand, Chile, Australia, Italy, Mallorca, the US... several times per year. Rarely Africa though, but I'm sure there is someone going there.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-06 08:03:58
To answer your question Ms. Pereira: in America there has always been immigrants who having understood that their last name would identify them as "undesirable" (or hypheneted Americans) have taken care to change their names to an Anglo-Saxon one. One can say that they had to do it due to the prejudices against immigrants that has always existed in America. On the other hand to change one's ancestral name from Verdi to Green is to run the risk of loosing contact with one's own roots and one's cultural identity, not to speak of what it does to pride in one's background and heritage. The African Americans were of course stripped of their original African name and given their master's name. Ironically, the first African American president will not have an Anglo-Saxon name but an Arican name.

AP2008-08-06 13:25:47
And what is your accusation towards Mr. Sand in particular?

AP2008-08-06 13:29:33
I don't feel I lost contact with my roots and I have pride in my background. Of course it happened 3/4 generations ago. Anyway, if one is forced to change, one is FORCED to change, thus there is no space to shame. Unless one is ashamed of his background.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-06 15:53:35
There is no accusation other than pointing to a sociological fact. The fact that you are proud of your Portuguese and European identity shows that one has larger identities than the one partaining to to one's family or clan. My ancestors, who were also Jews, hailed from Spain and were most probably Jews. How do I know that? By the fact that they were assigned a name which was the name of an animal, which was a way of keeping tab on the converts to Christianity. Was that an abuse of religion? You bet. Does the abuse justify the elimination of the use? I think not, at least if one looks objectively with no ax to grind to the positive contribution of religion all around the world.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-06 16:00:27
On another matter, partaining to the diatribe between you and Mr. S., somehting he is a master at, I am intrigued by your insistence that there are standards of decency and human rights which need to be acknowledged and observed. I am also intrigued by the fact that not one do you spell out on what grounds are those standards built on. It is simply taken for granted that they are self-evident, but if everything is self-evident, nothing is self-evident and the sad history of Man regarding violations of human rights more than proves it, I am afraid. A hint of an answer is given by C.S. Lewis in his Abolition of Man where he speaks of Natural Law, well understood by the likes of Marcus Aurelius and the Stoics in general. You may wish to consider it, or at least entertain the thought in your mind for a while, as C.S. Lewis a former atheist did, and then make a decision

AP2008-08-06 20:21:54
You should agree that non-religious people also have standards of human rights, even if not grounding them in religion (maybe you should put the hypothesis that religion is not the only or even main ground). For me (and I know you'll disagree) ethics goes much beyond religion. I don't need one/many God(s) to tell me what's right or wrong, provide me the salvation or trust my life to (because generally you'll be disappointed). The only place where they threw religion out the window is China (read government policies), in all other places (or almost) people simply CHOOSE to adopt or not a certain religion. As they shouldn't minimize it, they should not be forced to have one. For many people, it just doesn't make sense or they don't feel any need to have one. That's my case.

AP2008-08-06 20:28:02
What I find intriguing is that no matter what we're discussing, Obama or Michael Jackson, mobile phones or solar energy, poetry or art, washable diapers or the tail of mickey mouse, your comments invariably end up in ...religion and how it is the salvation of men. That's a bit too much, don't you think? Seems to be some sort of obsession, at least for the incautious reader.

Sand2008-08-06 20:39:33
Perhaps I will be permitted one more comment insofar as a name is concerned and its relationship to ancestry. Since I am not a plant I am not particularly in need of roots. If I want to search back far enough for an ancestral name perhaps it will suffice to go back to the old and delightful ancestor of mine that was rather small and elusive and made its living cracking and gulping down dinosaur eggs. Its name was a grunt and a squeak and a quick wave of its prehensile tail from left to right. This name, as honored as it was, is not really possible for me and my present families for, sadly, although grunting and squeaking are within our possibilities, the business with the tail is a bit too tricky. This frees us up to choose whatever name we can easily manage in our current tailless state. I believe we have done rather well.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-06 21:37:09
Sorry to disappoint you Ms. Pereira, but I was referring to the Natural Law, known to the Stoics who were not advocating religion bur reason and logic. You are right in one respect, although there were religious wars aplenty and those are regrettable, never was religion thrown out the window, up to the 20th century that is. Then, as Dostoyevsky prophesized, we tried the Godless atheistic state in the Soviet Union, the Nazi State and the Communist Chinese State stil alive and well, and other minor Communist States (North Korea, Cuba, Laos, etc) who also egregiously threw religion out the window. The results are there for anybody with eyes to see. The problem of course is that many in our rationalistic times which have substituted an ideology for religion, have lost the ability to see and go around proclaiming that they have the solution to our problems, when in reality they are part of the problem. See the C.S. Lewis poem "The Country of the Blind."

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-06 21:40:58
But weren't plants there before animals. So your real ancestors on the tree of life are indeed plants. Perhaps you should wrap your mind around that thought Me. S. and consider the importance of roots and origins for one's identity as a human being.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-06 21:45:48
P.S. Ms. Pereira, should I have been trying to ram religion down your throat the way a Stalin tried to ram atheism down the Russian people's throat, I would not be advocating religion but a cult or an ideology of sort. Religion is always by its own intrinsic nature free. If it is not it is an abuse of religion and a more properly a cult.

Sand2008-08-06 22:11:52
As usual, Mr.P, your point of view is so strange as to be comical. My identity is totally firm and secure with no ancestral roots whatsoever. I wonder about an identity that is so fragile that it has to scrounge around in ancestry to feel secure.
If you are so helpless to orient yourself without reaching all the way back to beginnings the first life was sort of a mat of slime floating on the surface of the sea. If you require that for personal inspiration I am totally baffled.

Emanuel Paparella2008-08-06 23:41:02
I see now. You are a god with no precedents of any kind. You were born from the foam of the sea in a shell like Venus. Have the voices been visiting again? Don't believe them, they are liars.

Sand2008-08-07 06:27:27
Sorry. Your feeble attempts at character assassination don't explain your enthusiasm for bucking up your ego by claiming genetic relationships to primitive life. Of course we came from that but how does it make you feel emotionally secure?

Sand2008-08-07 07:14:46
Incidentally, if evolutionary biology is correct, apparently we all were born from a variation of foam from the sea. Your absolute adulation of mythology seems to have taken a turn for the worse. The question seems to be that you feel it vital that I identify myself with a particular patch of foam from the sea. I am willing to neglect the importance of that.

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