Thursday, May 19, 2011


We had today the closing ceremony at pre-school for our youngest daughter. She was keen to have the event recorded, and I took quite a lot of photographs. But there were almost none of the kind which I put up here.

By the way, is it nationalism if you praise the school system in your land? Anyway, I'm extremely impressed with the Finnish school system - keep up the good work!

Another topic for today is a bit of bookkeeping... I checked, after a very long while, what are the most popular places visitor come to see here at Light Scrape. And this is probably no wonder: all of the top 5 postings (1 2 3 4 5) for the last 30 days are related to cameras. Gear seems to be the topic of interest.

And last, a bit offtopic: I published yesterday my 200th book review at my Finnish-language blog, Valopolku. These have been written in less than a year and a half. I feel I have learned quite a lot by writing about the book, not just reading them.


Andreas said...

Well, everybody is impressed with the Finnish school system. I wonder how you manage to do it. Here in Austria and probably mostly everywhere else it is so incredibly bogged down by politics, it's a shame :)

Juha Haataja said...

@Andreas: This is a topic I could write lots about - I fear that things may be turning bad also here in Finland. Do we really understand how everything depends on the schools?

The failure of school system is a world-shaking thing. In the book Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy Raghuram G. Raja demonstrates why this was one (and maybe the biggest) of the fundamental reasons why the financial system collapsed in the USA. Lose trust in the American dream, and what happens then?

Markus Spring said...

Hmm, I'd say the destruction of the school system is widely done on purpose. To quote Warren Buffet from a CNN interview in 2005: "There's class warfare all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." It is so much easier to stay rich when the poor are uneducated, and nothing is more dangerous than educated poor. So the schooling system especially in the U.S. is kept like this to maintain the class differences, and European school systems are fragmentated instead of strengthened for a similar reason. Sorry, I can't find other reasons...

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus: I'm afraid you are correct, although it isn't as if all of the rich would be like this - but it is enough that some of them are, and that these people have influence in the right circles, such as those agencies which advise the government on policy issues.

But the self-interest of the rich is very shortsighted, and the worst thing is, this development can't probably be reversed by ordinary democratic means, if it goes long enough.

I see some of the resulting discontent being channeled here in Finland through a populistic party. Unfortunately, they only make use of the discontent to further their aims (hate against minorities etc.), not to fix the real fundamental reasons.

Sadly, one of their targets is education, science and culture, which they seem to feel is a high-brown luxury not worth supporting. How wrong you can be, it is like shooting yourself in the head.

Andreas said...

The problem is, that the conservative backlash since the 80s has managed to destroy all sympathies for left-wing, socialist ideals. Together with the downfall of the Soviet Union, this has eliminated even the option to think left. Today "left" means liberal in the sense of "economically liberal" with a touch of tolerance, as long as the mob and the right-wing totalitarian ringleaders let it pass.

Of course that does not work either, because they are against everything anyway. It's their modus operandi. You see it in the US. Regardless of how Obama really is and what he really wants or wanted, the GOP and the Tea Party mob won't let him achieve anything.

Any they get away with it. Their power lies in lying to the masses, in breaking the rules of honesty and of logic.

Look at Macaulay's "Copyright Law" speech of 1841. This is stringent and convincing and elegant and therefore it won the case.

This is exactly the kind of speech that would not be held today. It is everything that the right mob is not and does not.

What the not-right parties do today is trying to emulate the mob. That does not work, because you can't lie to reach an honest goal. It always makes you vulnerable, and we're simply not very good at it, because the best of them even believe in it, and in order to believe such illogical nonsense, you have to be more or less stupid as well. Which we are not, at least not to that extent :)

Hmm ... I feel not yet ready for it, but a project of mine is to try to crowd-source a constitution. Something that would honor human rights, the right of the individual, would not be in the way of the market, at least not more than necessary, something that would be transparent and understandable, something that would not only be acceptable to the masses, something that would carry a vision.

Of course none of us are lawyers or politicians, but probably that's not so important. I really want this constitution to be all that I've said, and to be a well-engineered work of art, constructed to withstand the storms and challenges that are to be expected. It would have to be robust against challenges from outside, but also and even more so, against challenges from inside.

Can you imagine an Arab Spring in a world where we had already done this work? Egypt adopting this ready-made constitution, instead of having to rely on functionaries from the old régime? A new country of free people, ready to go operational, because everything has already be figured out? Imagine the momentum.

I think this can be done. We are no lawyers, but if we have a broad international basis, we will get enough input to at least construct a solid frame, and with that, the lawyers will flock in as well.

Anybody in?

Juha Haataja said...

@Andreas: I admire your idea about putting together a constitution as a ready-made starting point for countries in a crisis. (This might get handy even Europe if Greece etc. start going bankrupt.)

But the big problem is how limited the human understanding is, how easy to affect by rhetoric, and how biased each of us is.

The word democracy seems to mean "free to do whatever you want" to some people. But can there be democracy without responsibility?

Some people are using even this to suit their purposes, for example claiming that people clamouring for fairness 'believe they should take or be entitled to a spoil of your earnings – their “fair share” of your labors'.

I just can understand where thinking of this kind comes from. Really, I can't.

But I fear that fairness is dead in the world.