Wednesday, May 30, 2012

As cheap as it gets - in OSLO

I'm an immigrant and I know people basically think that us foreigners are taking YOUR jobs and taking your YOUR apartments, and so on, etc.

As I see it, Dublin is actually pretty cheap place to live. If you want to understand how it feels for me to move to a developing country like Ireland, let's see how norwegian people feel about finnish people. My first encounter with an actual Norwegian was when I was about 19-20 years old and we met in a centerpub where it cost like 25 marks (inflation not included - 6 euros) per a 0,5 litres of beer and he paid for me and my ladyfriend the whole night. His idea was that it was cheap in Helsinki, when in Oslo it cost about 100 marks (inflation still not included - 16 euroes) to get a beer in a restaurant.

So I try to understand, when moving to south, from my point of view, I am moving to a developing country. And Ireland is probably getting Spotify in there too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Would you like to walk on The Ernest Walton Bridge? reports of a movement led by The Institute of Physics (IOP) in Ireland aiming to have Dublin's City Council to name the planned Marlborough street bridge spanning over the River Liffey as "The Ernest Walton Bridge" after the nobel-prize winner.
I think it's a great idea for a city of such a long history to brand new projects with a sense of pride in history. In Helsinki, a city where I have lived more than a half of my life, the main street is named Mannerheimintie after the president and a military leader who fought on the side of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War. Although Mannerheim's greatness is a matter of debate in Finland even after 90 years since the Civil War, Walton himself doesn't have a cloudy past which could be a burden to a new bridge, unless you want to blame him for discoveries that lead to Manhattan Project.

You can sign the petition at the surveymonkey.

Learning to talk like politicians - lesson learned from Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan

Ireland is having a referendum about the new fiscal treaty in two days and according to some polls the Yes side is a little bit ahead. It seems that diplomacy ain't the first thing in mind when it comes to politics. Irish Examiner quoted Taoiseach Enda Kenny that he will not "be shoved around" by Sinn Féin. ""I am not going to give a platform to somebody who I don't regard as the leader of the Opposition to [propagate] what are blatant lies and hypocritical assertions", Irish Examiner's article ends up quoting aforementioned Kenny.

On this notion, other countries should learn about Irish diplomacy when it comes to the highest form of political debating. Forget lines like "there seems to be some kind of misunderstanding" or "we still have some issues that we need to work out to get to the approvable level of compromise". You have to be strict and call your fellow companion a liar and a bully. That's how political differences are worked out in Ireland.

But also other kind of behaviour can be found in Ireland. According to the Independent, the finance minister Michael Noonan promises easier budget, if the Yes side wins. Noonan's worries seem to be concerning Ireland falling down on credit rating. There's is also a lots of worries about Ireland's public sector, growth and sustainability of the social welfare. The carrot that Noonan is offering seems a little bit obscure to me in a sense that I don't understand how economical forecasts are made in Ireland. But that's my problem.

Perhaps after next week (or next year or next decade) we will have more of that hindsight concerning what should have been voted, which in my humble opinion is the only exact science.

Monday, May 28, 2012

How to travel cheaply from Dublin to Helsinki

Travelling between Dublin and Helsinki can cost a lot of money when prices are ranging around 300 euros. There are even trips which cost close to thousand euros even if it's just a oneway trip. It goes without saying that you'll have a very nice flight with a k.

I've been using Momondo, and to try to find out the cheapest flights. They all seem good sites, but Momondo has a nice graphical output. After you've inputed the date, where you want to travel from and to, Momondo shows you, not just the prices for that day, but also the prizes for every day of the month. This is done with a chart that shows the lowest prize from the first day of the month to the last day. Underneath it you can find the actual planned flights.

Sometimes it's even cheaper if you fly from Dublin to Estonia and cross the Baltic Sea with a boat. Flight between Estonia and Dublin can cost as low as 70 euros. But there's a cutback into it. Path goes via Latvia and Latvia's pitstop takes about 10 hours.

Bad news for comedians: You can still get convicted for blasphemy in Ireland

Freedom house's last year's report gives good scores to Ireland for almost all the concerned fields (legal, economical, political, press freedom) except matters concerning freedom of speech.

It seems that Ireland is at the same time highly secular and highly religious. Blasphemy is regarded as a criminal offence in Ireland, although it's unclear to me, how the grounds of blasphemy are judged. Wikipedia's article "Blasphemy law in Republic of Ireland" gives some insight. The article states that somebody got fined thousand pounds and got convicted to jail for a year for denying Divinity of Christ. This was about 300 years ago, but the law is still in effect and a few years ago Defamation act was reformed. Reformed Act, according to Wikipedia, states that uttering "material 'grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion', when the intent and result is 'outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion'."

I'm not indenting to test the limits of the law, but I would be curious to know how to get accused of blasphemy. In Finland there was (and still is in some form of) an Act which included blasphemy. Two Finnish artists got convicted and later pardoned by the President.

First case was when an author called Hannu Salama published a book called Juhannushäät (Midsummer dances) 1964. It included a scene called Pilkkasaarna (mockery of a christian sermon). It didn't help his case that he was known for his affiliation with working-class. He got a three months of parole in 1966, but got pardoned in 1968.
Second case happened in 1969 when a painter Harro Koskinen got convicted for a painting called The Pig Messiah, which featured a crucified pig.

Perhaps these two Finnish artists gives some ideas to people in Ireland how to provoke on the limits of legal boundaries.

Spotify thinking of moving to Dublin

Spotify might be locating in Dublin, if we are to believe Irish Central's headline - and why won't we. Dublin might be a good place for an international company operating in digital business. Dublin already accommodates firms, which you've probably heard before, like Google, Twitter, Facebook and Zynga.

Spotify is a music streaming service which has about 20 million subscribers. Spotify's revenue model is based on subscribers paying a monthly fee to gain access to millions of music tracks on Spotify's servers. There are also free accounts, which include advertisements broadcasted between tracks.

Dublin has a significant amount of foreigners (13 % according to CIA - The world factbook) which gives companies reasonable amount of language specialists, which is sometimes required for big companies to appear local where ever they offer their products. I can talk from an experience, for I am about to start at one of these big companies, and although my work language is english, my daily duties will involve a lots of finnish.

The irony of Spotify possibly basing their operations in Dublin, is that Spotify, although available in UK, is not available in the Republic of Ireland.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I am armed and gonna kick you in the face - with my fist

I sometimes feel it disturbing to use certain english words, when there is probably a high probability of getting misunderstood. For instance there are many jokes among finnish-english-speaking community of how to translate idioms or phrases from language to another. For instance the word arm is 'käsi' in finnish and the word 'käsittää' is "being understood' and therefore 'I am being understood ('olen käsitetty')' can be translated into english in a sentence of "I'm armed".

To help me get by these common mistakes, I sometimes remind myself of Jon Lajoie. He is canadian actor/comedian/performance artist whose "Guns don't kill people" is a good reminder of how to get others get your point and get UNunderstood at the same time.

"I'm gonna kick you in the face - with my fist"

Few reasons not to leave Dublin - or come to Dublin

Totally Dublin (TD) produced 200 reasons for not leaving Dublin. It's mostly written for somebody whose family line might be located close to Dublin for generations (at least one).  The list is not in any fashioned form emphasizing better reasons upon worse.

So here is a short list of reasons put into different categories.

Respect your shoe polisher
The use of chemical substances or the otherwise lacking respect for things considered gratious are treated differently in Dublin than let's say in Buckingham palace.
  • "If the Lady Liberty was here, it’d be called The Clown In The Crown."
  • Alcoholism. "There’s actually serious social stigma attached to that in other countries"
  • Referring to politicians by their first name. Michael D. Higgins is Michael D. 
  • Cheeky kids. If a kid tells you, he likes your hair, he thinks your hair looks stupid and you're an idiot. "The city’s children are amongst the world’s most sarcastic." Author of this blog is just being diplomatic.
It's just like everywhere else, but better
It's not like people invented potatoes in Ireland, but they are better here than anywhere else. If you're unsure where potatoes came from, then please visit google maps. It's that big island few thousand miles west of Ireland.
  • Burritos are "everywhere, but they’re probably full of fancy stuff and complications. Stick to Boojum, Pablo Picante and Burritos & Blues."
  • Vikings. They needed parking space for their boats before going on rampage stealing gold and burning monastries. "That’s way cooler than pilgrims", reasons TD.
  • Salted butter. "The disappointing, colourless slop that passes for butter in every other country in the world is a disgrace to bread."
  • Low risk of invasion. Basically it's like Switzerland except on an island.
  • Pubs that are institutions. "-- each better than any pub in any other country. Science fact." A bit like Tavastia or Juttutupa in Helsinki.
  • Poker. Different game and you have to be sober. Otherwise it's the same game.
Actually worth mentioning
This category is probably the most important, if you're really into the distinctive nature of Dublin, otherwise it's just some concepts people are copying around the world.
  • Pints of Guinness. I won't copypaste TD's review. I'll just point out that there's a difference.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Richard Evans won the poker title in Dublin

Last week would have been a great chance to enjoy UKIPT in Dublin. Doesn't those letters sound fascinating? Well, they are, if you are into the world of poker. UKIPT stands for UK and Ireland Poker Tour, which is sponsored by Pokerstars, one of the biggest poker tournament promoters and probably the biggest poker site on the internet.

This time the winner was Welshman Richard Evans who was about to drop out of the tournament on the 4th day with no more than 1.2 chips in front of him. You can read about the final table on Pokerstars's blog. If you're unfamiliar with poker, watch this video where Phil Hellmuth (a.k.a. Poker Brat) blows up after losing a hand.

If you missed this bigger event, don't worry. There are lots of poker going on in Ireland as far as I can tell. Even in Dublin there's a poker room practically in every district. Basically you get the idea by opening Google maps and inputing "Dublin" and "Poker".

update: I included Mick McCloskey's Poker In Ireland link in "Useful links in Dublin/Ireland"-tab, where you can locate bigger tournaments played in Ireland.

Dublin theatre festival offers like 500 shows in a month

For being credited as a playwright in Finland for several occasions, I'm pretty excited about the Dublin Theatre festival.  I consider myself a drama enthusiast with a skill to sense comedy behind even the darkest play, even if you actually take in count that I have written few scripts which have made their way on stage with actual actors yelling lines wrought by me. For that reason I cannot actually wait for the festival to begin.

If this year is anything close to previous year, we will be seeing more than 500 performances on a couple of dozen venues in a timeframe of less than a month. That's like 30 shows a day.

Unsure what they will play there and what my budget will be, I decided that if I would work for the festival as a volunteer or as a trainee (fancier name for a worker who doesn't get paid) I could probably get free tickets. I have previously volunteered at Helsinki International Film Festival (Rakkautta ja anarkiaa) in a very simple job of guiding people in cinemas and making sure that people have right tickets to right shows. If it would be that simple, but this year it probably ain't. Dublin theatre festival's homepage sites that "The closing date for seasonal positions has passed."

Next year, if I still live in Dublin, I'll be prepared for applying long before the summer. Perhaps they could use a languagespecialist for finnish tourists?

Before Jedward

Just before you get to see the Eurovision finals, you should see this. Before Jedward there were John and Edward performing in the X-factor 2009. Here they are performing Ghostbusters. I have to grant, that they have attitude, which probably appeals to certain kind of stereotypical Eurovision fans.

Eurovision: Jedward should take David Bowie and Teletubbies on the stage

Ireland's this years contestenders for Eurovision song contest is Jedward. When I saw them earlier this week performing to get their shot at the finals I thought they were some kind of a mixture between David Bowie and The Teletubbies.

Let's see what they performed at the Eurovision semifinals.

Okay. They are full of the right kind of cheerfulness. Now let's see David Bowie performing Starman decades ago.

As you can see, there is that same kind of glittery and colourfulness in Bowie's act as well as in Jedward's act. But there is something still missing. Now let's see The Teletubbies and you try to figure out why I see the connection between Jedward and Bowie-Teletubbies-hybrid.

I actually think that Jedward's performance is a good one, but they should enhance it with little more Teletubbies and people will hear a lots of twelve-points-goes-to-Irelands tonight.