Let me vote "Yes" for the European Constitution 
Saturday, 15 .April, 2006, 08:27 - English Entries, Europe, Politics

The Finish parliament seems to be willing to ratify the European Constitution. It is April 2006, the Constitution was already ratified by several member states, but rejected by the referendums held in France and the Netherlands. The Union was in distress for a while, it was said that processes inside the EU are not transparent enough and that people had problems with the ongoing process of countries joining the Union.

I am a supporter of the European Union and its constitution. There are problems and things I am not happy with, but in general I am very glad to see that Europe starts finally understanding itself not only as a community of friends but as a union of individuals, that all at least try to work towards prosperity and peace. That might sound too idealistic, but I think Idealism is needed to get such projects going.

What happened since the French and Dutch "No" is not only disappointing but also embarrassing. Nobody knocked on my door and told me with enthusiasm about the great Europe we are going to shape. Nobody explained to my Euro-sceptic relatives why we and generations after us will benefit from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia joining the Union, why even Macedonia, Ukraine and Serbia-Montenegro would be welcome, alongside with Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belarus (after they kick out their dictator hopefully soon).

I had to buy my copy of the Constitution on my own. It is a very interesting little book in which I read every now and then and I like what I see in there. But why did I myself have to go to a book store and buy it? Did I miss the postman or was really no free copy sent out to me in order to inform me about and to promote it? That is my Constitution, the law I will live under if it gets accepted throughout the continent and our politicians do not even see the need to show this law to me?

Spain also held a referendum on the constitution and it was clear that they would accept it with great joy, as Spain sees a lot of immediate benefits from the EU. But still, the government (even under the conservative Aznar) sent the constitution to every citizen and promoted the "Yes" for Europe everywhere.

And think of all the countries that want to join - how they understand the idea of Europe, how they want to be part of it. One can say they are just greedy and their only intetion is to take away a share of our wealth - but swallow it, lots of the money that the industry of the Western European countries make is already produced in Eastern Europe, so let's have the dignity to not only regard these countries and the people withim them as a new market, but also as equal partners.

I ask myself if I am the only one in Germany or Finland who feels enchanted when thinking of a united Europe. Without being nationalistic or patriotic. Our grandfathers killed each others on the ground on which we recently abandoned all borders. We have the responsibility to make this project work, to build a fundament that will not be shaken easily by storms in the future. This is not about globalization or centralism, this is the idea of a society that works on a common better future and that regards all the differences inside it with respect.

Is it really so hard to make this vision clear to the people? I know that politics is a hard business these days, as most of the people do not trust their statesmen anymore and think they are corrupted liars. But is there really nobody among this government crowd that can induce passion for one of the biggest peaceful political projects that history ever has seen? Are they blind for the idea themselves or are they afraid of democracy?

German edition of a very valuable bookAnd aren't they all running around and looking for visions? Well here it is – shiny and colourful. Take it, promote it, make us burn for it and give us back confidence in modern society, the democratic process and ourselves. Dear Prime Ministers and Presidents, show us that we are playing our role in history and that there is more to this century than a fearful war on terrorism. Bring out the idealists in us, point out that we do not only have a common currency but also common roots in culture, that our variety is not a blocking point but that our diversity will enable us to master the challenges of the future.

I don't want any German or Finish parliament to decide over my constitution. I want one day, on which everybody in Europe can vote on this little book. I want every member state to agree on a European Euphoria Budget to bring a vision of a bright and united future to every person within Europe. I want to personally, freely and happily vote "Yes" for this document.

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My Easter Present to You: Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll 
Thursday, 13 .April, 2006, 18:36 - English Entries, Movies, Music, Online/Blogs

Most of you know this video (which I found here) anyhow already – it is my Easter present to my readers. The song was written by Burt Bacharach, who wrote many lovely songs and is sung here by the White Stripes, a band that fascinates me since I heared them for the first time. The video was directed by Sofia Coppola, who directed The Virigin Suicides and Lost in Translation - two beautiful movies. The girl dancing is Kate Moss, I hope you know enough good things about her, so that I do not have to introduce her.

I wish you all happy Easter, in which ever you are going to spend it. I am off to Hanko.
Cheers! Georg

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MTV - stay on the air! 
Thursday, 13 .April, 2006, 17:33 - English Entries, Movies, Politics, Religion

Protect the pope! Danger is brewing from Germany, his own home country. I am here in Finland and don't know any other way to help him than to raise my weak voice in this article. It is cruel and of course the root of the problem is again the Island: the Great British nation. There it is where they make fun about gods representative on Earth and all his fellow believers.

I talk about "Popetown", a British cartoon series that German MTV plans to show from May 3rd on. The series was produced by BBC, but the British broadcasting company did not dare to put it on air. Wikipedia writes the following: Popetown is a controversial animated sitcom following the life of Father Nicholas, who lives in a Vatican City parody referred to as "Popetown". The series was originally commissioned by the BBC in the UK, but was dropped from scheduling without a screening in the wake of protests from Roman Catholics.

Britain in the last minute prevented itself from what we all need to be afraid of: hurting the feelings of the Roman Catholics.

Yesterday the online version of German magazine "Der Spiegel" collected reactions from German officials on popetown:

  • Secretary General of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Söder, a person that I admire in a very special way, stated: "German TV is no place for such a series. [...] It is about time to protect religious symbols by law.". Söders party is part of Germanys current government.
  • The spokeswoman for human rights(!) and humanity(!) of the Christian coalition in German parliament, Erika Steinbach, was not happy that the series depicts Jesus Christ and the pope in denigrating ways. Airing the program would be a unbearable insult towards all Christians.
  • The German commission for youth media protection (Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz - KJM) wrote an open letter to MTV, in which it proposed to check after the airing of the first issue of Popetown. What exactly they want to check is not clearly said in the article, but it seems the item of discussion is whether there should ever be a second issue of popetown on German TV.

I share a deep understanding, that a humorous TV series is one of the biggest threats towards an organization that is completely and seriously committed to teaching the only evident truth, as it it revealed in a several thousand years old book.

Soon it is not necessary anymore to envy the US-Americans for their progress on intelligent design, the religious influence on politics and the election of a god-fearing president. We start to slowly walk along the same path by selling TV censorship under the headline of youth protection and humanity. Naturally avoiding the question who protects youth from enforced church service by their parents or from compulsory religious education in German schools.

Jello Biafra once sang "MTV get off the air" and nowadays should be surprised to hear the religious right in Europe joining in his chanting. I always liked that song, but for the moment I hope MTV stays on the air and keeps a strict line towards providing a religiously disturbing program.

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Springtime in Pikku Huopalahti, Helsinki 
Tuesday, 11 .April, 2006, 18:17 - English Entries, Helsinki, Photographs

Whenever I go home with Bus line 14 from my work I come along Pikku Huopalahti and find the whole area simply beautiful. During the last summer I went there often by bike on the way to the office, but did not take any pictures. The sea sends some water to the little bay, which on one side has a lot of colorful houses, that are all beautifully shaped. The area gives a quiet and at the same time modern impression. And that although it is located inbetween two of the busiest Helsinki streets. Still some people in city center might regard this part already as an outskirt.

Architecture in Pikku Huopalahti, Helsinki

Architecture in Pikku Huopalahti, Helsinki Architecture in Pikku Huopalahti, Helsinki

The round McDonalds tower has it's own character, with the wodden structure in front of it, that is connected by a complex metal construction. Again modern without being pretentious or too flashy.

McDonalds Building, Pikku Hupalahti, Helsinki

McDonalds Building, Pikku Hupalahti, Helsinki McDonald Building, Helsinki Steel-Construction on the McDonalds Building, Helsinki

Still it is very cold these days, so I entered a bus at the next station instead of walking home. Taking the pictures took me less then 15 minutes. Huopalahti is one of the areas in Helsinki that shows that nature and modern architecture are very well integrated here and go peacefully side by side.

View over Pikku Huopalahti, Helsinki

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Confessions of a book addict 
Monday, 10 .April, 2006, 09:38 - English Entries, Literature

books Yesterday I re-arranged the better part of my books. Not all of them, only the novels. Most of the novels. Since months they were trying to conquer my little apartment, piling in every corner, hiding when I was looking for one of them. Books are cruel when you don't find them. Or when they are not strong enough to keep you reading. Then they end up somewhere in the kitchen or fall from the bedside table and wait for further attention. Most of them start closer relationships with dust, which is also very attracted to books.

I only read novels, nothing else. Since two decades I try to read books about science, biographies, psychological and philosophical literature. It never really works for me. I read the biography of Richard Feynman and "Fermat's Last Theorem" and that should be enough non-fiction for a lifetime. This nevertheless does not stop me from buying more non-fiction books. I look into them every now and then, spend some time inside them, but never really read them from cover-to-cover. One of my latest acquisition is "Die Rückkehr der Geschichte" ("The return of history") by former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. I started reading it. It was very interesting. In the middle of the second chapter I stopped and now it leans against a half-read Willy Brandt biography and smooches with dust.

There are also many novels that I own but did not read – yet. They just keep coming in and start living with me. They tell me that they are very interesting and worth spending money and time on them. Once they are bought, they are a part of me. It seems impossible to get rid of them. I know I am an addict - but books are not my only addiction and I cannot care for every weakness that I have, so let's don't get into an argument whether it makes sense to buy something that is only used to bind dust.

Believe me, I tried to free myself from the addiction. At least once every week I have this vision of a free life, in which I only own a bed, two chairs, a table and a laptop. Books I would lend from the library, as every sound person does. It is a wonderful thought, I always feel light and happy when I think it.

books During the last weeks I found out about BookCrossers, a group of people who intentionally lose their books. They register them beforehand in the internet, where they get a registration number that they write into the book together with a note that the person, who finds it, should go to the webpage and type the number in. That way the journey of a book can be followed. This sounded like the end of my addiction: I would lose all my books. I would take the best ones first, register them and share them one by one with the entire world.

Of course that dream was over when I stood in front of my shelf. First I took out "Post Office" and even before I had typed it's ISBN into the BookCrossers webpage I felt a scalpel sliding along the inside of my stomach. I was about to cut off an essential part of my body. Maybe I should start with a book which I have read several years ago, not one that I just finished. "Post Office" went on a pile again and I took out "The Music of Chance" – but no, not this one. Maybe a German book? Who wants to find a German book in Finland – it makes no sense to lose it here. Keep it, Georg, keep it! Even those that I had not read, that I never intend to read in the future, I could not decide to lose.

Yesterday I took a long look into the abyss of my character. Afterwards I gave in and decided to keep them all and to re-arranged at least the novels. Most of the novels. They went on several piles on my desk. German literature. Poetry. Crime. English and American writers. French authors. Finish stuff. The piles grew fast. I dragged the victims of my inattention out from every corner of the 42 square meter flat, blew the dust from them and put them on top of their pile. That was the easy part.

My shelf has four boards for fiction books, not counting in the crime and SF-stuff. Four boards of what some people might call "real literature". That is not enough, naturally. Some years ago I started to put there two rows of books on each board. This saves a lot of space and has many disadvantages. The books in the rear row are not visible, which makes it impossible to sort the books alphabetically by author, because either "Auster, Paul" or "Wolf, Christa" will end up in the back row, but to both of them immediate access is needed from time to time.

The moment I started to sort the piles into the shelf, the books began to quarrel. Hesse demanded the front row, as well as Sophocles and Frisch. Brautigan put out his elbows and had a longer fight with Coupland. I threatened them that I will lose them all via BookCrossers, but they did not take me serious anymore. "Put the old farts in the back" Kerouac said, which caused a heavier bi-lingual edition of "the Tempest" to throw itself in a suicidal act of revenge on top of "On the Road". They both survived.

It took me a while to gain back my authority. Putting "Illuminatus" next to "Animal Farm" into the back row was close to losing them. They looked at me with their paperback spines, implying that I would not love them anymore and I apologized woefully until Arthur Miller covered them from the front. It was not easy.

books The crime books were not that complicated to handle, as they all fit in the front of the philosophy books, that since long gave up to complain about their back row existance. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler took their established positions and seem to do well with each other, whilst Sartre and Camus go on discussing existentialism in the background.

After that I was exhausted. In an unbelievable effort of strength I switched on the vacuum cleaner, which sucked in all the dust. All the novels are sorted now and have their place. For a while at least. Time to care for the records and CDs next.

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