Posts filed under General

Who trained al-Zarqawi's successor?

A quick read through a news story about al-Zarqawi's successor tells us that he a) "is an explosives expert trained in Afghanistan", and b) "has been a terrorist since about 1982...". Nowhere does it mention exactly when he received his training in Afghanistan, or more importantly,from whom. If he was trained by the Taleban, wouldn't the "U.S. military spokesman" have mentioned that? So let's take a guess who else was training terrorists freedom fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980's. The International Herald Tribune offers more clues:

One hint was that the word "mujahir" usually refers to an Islamic militant who has traveled beyond his own country in service of religious conviction, commonly, among insurgents, a man who went to Afghanistan to join the war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

Posted on June 16, 2006 and filed under Academic, General, Rambling.

Google Maps improving European coverage

Yet another Google story, sorry. It looks like Google Maps is finally upgrading the resolution of satellite photos and adding street maps for some major centres in Europe, which began with the coverage of Torino (Turin) for the Winter Olympics. While Rovaniemi obviously doesn't count as a major European centre yet, there are higher resolution satellite photos and street maps for Jyväskylä (unfortunately covered in snow and cloud) and Savonlinna. The street layer in Finland now includes the highway network, as well as the names of different city neighbourhoods (kaupunginosat). More interesting from an academic perspective, is the resolution upgrades to several key areas of the Kola Peninsula. Last year I put together a Google Maps mashup for students on my annual excursion to the Kola showing points of interest like military installations and heavy industrial pollution. The interesting this is that the new high resolution images are concentrated in military sensitive areas instead of Murmask, by far the region's largest city. Unfortunately these images, too, were taken in winter so have low light, snow and cloud cover. But the area around one of the biggest naval bases (Nerpich’ya, Nerpa and Olenya) near Polyarny is quite clear, with naval vessels and nuclear storage facilities readily visible. But Gremikha is probably the most obvious evidence that these locations were chosen for military purposes (at some point in their history, not necessarily by Google). Thousands of square kilometres of barren Arctic coast and tundra, and there just happens to be several very high-res images of the area around one of the Northern Fleet's biggest nuclear sub bases? Not that I'm complaining. This is way cool.

Posted on April 25, 2006 and filed under Finland, General, Software.

Cure for Grey Hair?

GrecianFormulaCan this really be true? A cure for grey hair? L'Oreal has apparently discovered a way to 'switch on' the cells that switch off that turn our hair grey. No more colouring. Only a no-doubt pricey drug and your own natural hair colour back. I've had a patch of grey ever since I was about 17, but have noticed I'm going more and more grey now. The colour I can probably live with, but the "new" grey hair seems to be more wirey. Maybe the new drug makes the hair soft and luxuriant too?

Posted on April 18, 2006 and filed under General, Web Weirdness.

Makkara kurssi

A group of us got together last night for a sausage-making course at the Martta organization ("founded in 1899 to promote the quality and standard of life in the home. It also carries out cultural and civic education"). There were ten of us, and five different sausage recipes: American breakfast, Italian fennel, reindeer, mushroom and pork, and Christmas. As I guessed, sausage making is both fun and messy. Although we were using improvised devices like sliced-up plastic ketchup bottles, I'm hoping for something a little more high-tech.

So I'll leave you with a rather flavourful recipe for joulumakkara (Christmas sausage), that is flavoured rather like mulled wine or Christmas cake.

300g laihaa sianlihaa 300g naudanlihaa 300g silavaa 1dl madeiraa 1/2dl konjakkia rohouittua mustapippuria 1/2tl jauhettua neilikkaa 1/2tl jauhettua inkivääriä 1/2 jauhettua kanelia 2dl korintteja suolaa

Posted on December 8, 2005 and filed under Finland, General.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day ZgonToday is Remembrance Day, at least it is in Canada, where I and everyone else would be proudly wearing a poppy in memory of those who served our country. Now that most of the WWII generation are passing, it's sometimes too easy to forget what kinds of different lives we do today compared to say, my grandfather's generation. Sometimes I wonder about the moral courage of my generation (myself included), that we're prepared to largely ignore the erosion of democracy and liberal human rights perpretrated in the name of a misguided and illegal war so long as we continue our right to rip CDs to our iPods unhindered. So at least for today, I just wanted to say that I remember.

Posted on November 11, 2005 and filed under Canada, General.

Threadless Submission - Permafrost PollutionCame across a very cool t-shirt site called Threadless. I had been about to set up my own shop at SpreadShirt, so I could upload my own designs and get professionally printed custom t-shirts. But that all seems like more trouble than it's worth, so I think I'll leave the designing to the "professionals" (or at least amateurs with more time and talent than me). Threadless is more than just an online t-shirt shop, of course. It's very Web 2.0, as an ongoing interactive t-shirt design competition, blog, and more. Very nice community atmosphere and a constant stream of new designs coming in all the time. The successful designs get printed for a limited time, which also makes the designs more collectible. You can vote on which ones you like, and ask for re-prints of out of print shirts. I really want this polar bear shirt (it would be great to wear to our seminar on global change in the Arctic), so get over there and request it.

Posted on September 3, 2005 and filed under General.

Russian twin?

Russian twin?I must have one of those totally generic faces, because my friends keep finding twins and doppelgängers of me all over the internet. Now from what I gather is a Russian mobile phone or internet provider ad, comes this latest one. So, to those who know me, what do you think? A perfect likeness? And to my Russian-speaking friends, what am I saying to that woman?

Posted on August 19, 2005 and filed under General, Web Weirdness.


I bought a beautiful set of chessmen a few years ago in Stornoway, Scotland that were modelled after the 'Lewis Chessmen.' These were a partial set of Viking chess pieces that were found on beach nearby to Stornaway, on the Isle of Lewis. Pretty cool looking, if I do say. The only problem (other than being a crap chess player) was that I didn't have a board. I wanted something suitably vintage to go with the medieval look of the pieces. Just by chance I was checking out an online auction site the other day and found a nice looking old board. As it happens, my €12 bid won an hour after I bid on it. It hasn't arrived yet, but I'm hoping it'll live up to my expectations, and I can begin learning chess all over again.

Posted on August 10, 2005 and filed under Games, General.

The Single Ring

Single RingI really can't make up my mind whether this is cool and innovative, or sad and desperate. A pair of Swedish designers have come up with an alternative to the wedding ring for single people, the Single Ring (or Singelringen in Swedish). The idea is both to empower single people to accept their status with confidence, and also to serve as a stylish signal to other singles. This dual meaning is where the concept might trip up. Are we loud, proud, and single? Or, are we advertising for a mate to save us from perpetual loneliness? I guess each bearer can make up his or her own mind what the ring is supposed to represent. There's something about the idea that is quite enticing for me, as a 30-something bachelor. Or perhaps it's that I'm developing a jewelry fetish.

Posted on August 7, 2005 and filed under General.

Relaiming my inner artist

Why is it that when we're young everybody draws and paints, but at some point our education system divides us into those with real artistic talent, and the bumbling rest who more-or-less stop drawing entirely?

Posted on July 17, 2005 and filed under General.

Ah, spring!

snow in may

Considering I was swimming in the Pacific two months ago, and in shorts last week in Berlin, spring weather in Rovaniemi leaves rather a lot to be desired. Frickin' freezing, big wet chunks o' snow.

Posted on May 9, 2005 and filed under General.

Home Sweet Home


I've been working at home since Christmas because of the ongoing mould problems at the Arctic Centre (you kinda have to know that "home" means mould in Finnish to get the joke). Repairs on my office started today, and they're starting to rip off the insulation and open up the wall.

Basically this is just a band-aid solution, and won't do anything to solve the overall mould and dust problems that have plagued (literally) the building since it was built seven years ago (they opened it the day I came to Rovaniemi).

Until something more is done, my broadband connection will be my workplace.

Posted on February 1, 2005 and filed under General.

Catching Up

Maria Irene Snowball

It's occurred to me several times over the last couple months that I should really post something on my blog (oh no, now I've admitted that I'm a blogger). Trouble was, that after a bit of a break nothing I thought to post on seemed blog-worthy. Time goes by, and the pressure builds to have something terribly interesting to say. So I decided to solve that by having positively nothing interesting to say. Instead I offer a short summary of what I've been up to in the past while:

  • our project received over €200,000 in funding from the Finnish Academy, which will provide me with PhD funding for the next three years. Yay.

  • the first action of our research project will be a very Arctic trip to the International Studies Association annual conference-- in Honolulu, Hawaii. Yay again.
  • I spent Christmas in Keminmaa with Piia and her family. No pressure. :roll:
  • Traditional Lapland new years at mökki just up north a bit, with Kirsi & Agustin, Bruce & Anna, Joni & Heli, Riikka & Arto, etc, etc. Nice weather, good Spanish food, sauna, fireworks... and kids.
  • Attended the wedding of local member of parliament Jari Vilén to Piia's friend Janina. Rubbing shoulders with celebrities, but alas no pictures of us in the tabloids. I promise worse behaviour next time.
  • I just finished a draft of my paper for the ISA conference, "Indigenous self-determination in Finland: A case study in normative change," that should become the first article for my PhD

Well, now that you're all caught up I can return to other more eclectic matters of equal or less interest to the general population. Enjoy!

Posted on January 22, 2005 and filed under General.

Bug Me Not!

My web experience keeps getting easier! Anyone who has ever tried to read a linked news story from the NY Times or Washington Post, etc, and been confronted with a registration screen instead of the story will appreciate this. provides free logins and passwords for mandatory registration sites such as these. Just drag the bookmarklet link to your personal bar (in Opera, of course). When you come across a registration page, click the bookmarklet and a window will pop up with a login and password for that site. Great. The only problem I've encountered is with file download sites like If someone else logs in with the same id, your download will get cancelled. :-( Bummer.

Posted on August 24, 2004 and filed under General.

Google Image Search in Opera

Ok, it's a small but wonderful thing. My beloved browser Opera has a nice little search box on the Personal Bar, all set up for quick Google searches. By using the drop-down menu, you can select from a wide variety of other searches. I use it constantly. For some reason, though, the image search uses the rather useless, instead of the world renowned Google Image Search. Turns out, however, that this is a simple snap to remedy. Fellow Opera-philes Tim and Tracy Luoma (whoa, a Finnish surname?) show how simply editing Opera's search.ini config file can add any variety of searches to the drop-down box, including GIS!

Just add this line to the URL for the Image search:


Ooh... search! Great idea!

Posted on August 19, 2004 and filed under General.

Jay-Z in da House

Most of you probably didn't know that I went to school with a famous rapper, eh? Well, during my Vancouver trip I was able to make a short visit Jay Z(ipursky) and Kim and their wrinkly new addition, Shula. Aw. (You know these pages aren't normally prone to this kind of domestic sentimentalism, but she's just so darned... yeah, wrinkly is still the right word). Props to Jay for returning the favour by popping in to my virtual home to say 'yo', and also for pointing out my online doppelgänger. His evil twin is of course known to all of you.

I also have to plug Jay's photo site, which has some pretty cool stuff. So order today!

Posted on June 11, 2004 and filed under General.

Spring Is Here

ButterflyAh melting snow, gravel-covered sidewalks, the smell of six months' of dog poo melting, and butterflies on the balcony... it must be spring! Looks like there still might be a chance to head out on the ski trails this weekend, but not too much time left before winter tucks its head between its legs for another year. Easter is just around the corner too, and then the wonderful socialist worker / student celebration / rite of spring / drunken boozefest known as Vappu. Wonderful. With any luck, shortly thereafter I'll be winging my way to Fairbanks, AK, in the U.S.A. (trying my best not to run afoul of George Dubya's minions). A short stop in the old town of Vancouver is on the books too. So watch out my old dearies!

Enjoy the sunshine! (and as of last week I have more than any of you, for a change).

Posted on April 2, 2004 and filed under General.

Visit from the Bro

107_0710.JPGGreg made the trip up to the wilds of Lapland in the middle of winter- fresh off his success in Munich at the BMW tech competition where he and his teammate placed fourth out of 37 international teams. So we had a whirlwind trip around Lapland in the four days he was here, cramming in quite a lot of activities. Besides the mandatory trip to Santa Claus, we took a trip up north to Luosto, where the temps hovered around 30 C for our hike. Then south to Kemi to see the Snow Castle and the Snow Show exhibition. We saw the Rovaniemi part of the Snow Show on Friday before heading to Tivoli for the annual Beach Party/Rantafestarit. He only had time to pack and grab a quick shower before taking off at 6am this morning.

Was a great time. Come back soon, Greg!

Posted on February 14, 2004 and filed under General.