Ink Tank - Make words not war Georges Hourani

 

While the Syrian war crisis is hardly fresh frontpage news, it continues to rage and gather more casualties with no real end in sight. This war has created a global humanitarian crisis, while refugees flee their homeland after being uprooted by selfish political desires and guerrilla fighting forces.

Wherever you live you most likely have seen this crisis manifest in extreme human persecution, death and desperation, and many people outside Syria feel powerless to help.

I currently reside in Lahti, Finland and this is where my story begins. Finland is a place like no other and the city of Lahti, even more so.

Finland’s a country battered by frigid winters and humbled by quiet people.

 

Lahti, Finland

 

It’s peaceful, safe and uneventful on the global news forum. The last time Finland’s inhabitants have seen a war was roughly the same time the rest of Europe did — during World War II.

In Lahti I belong to a Lutheran church community who wanted to help with the Syrian refugee crisis.

 

 

About 6 months ago my mission partner and I decided to take a trip to Lebanon to visit a refugee camp nicknamed “The Border Community,” or more formally known as camp Almarj. Almarj is located in northern Lebanon some 80kms from the Syrian border.

We were expecting squalor living conditions upon arriving at Almarj, however, once we got there it was worse than expected. Aside from the slum-like conditions, merely visiting this camp is extremely dangerous. The camp is located eerily close to ISIS fighting grounds which allowed for my fear to trump my courage.

 

Home to over 2,000 refugees of all ages and backgrounds, Almarj is very isolated.

 

UNHCR

 

After spending countless hours listening to stories about daily life from the families, my heartfelt hopeless. Compared to my minimal life in Lahti these people were suffering a tremendous amount. However, through the same glass there was an underlying sense of hope.

Suggestive in its adopted name “The Border Community,” this community of displaced people was indeed just that — a group of scattered souls that found each other and together they found comfort in their shared struggles.

The word spread quickly throughout Almarj that we came bearing gifts. The gifts presented to the families seemed to provide momentary relief from daily despair, and it was obvious in their gratitude.

One little girl asked us for a dress so that she could be the princess she always dreamed of being. Her father was left behind in Syria while her mother strived to better their lives and situation. The girl’s elation when I gave her the dress was unforgettable.

 

 

After spending time with the kids and playing a few games of football, it became apparent to me that although these children have suffered indelible scars, they haven’t abandoned the intermittent happiness one can find in hope.

 

Hope is an undeniably strong force. If you abandon hope then you abandon everything.

 

Almarj Camp “The Border Community” – Lebanon

 

 

Even when the world around us seems desolate and deranged, hope can trickle in. Hope can force those adults who have discarded all optimism to continue searching for a positive way forward.

Upon leaving the camp a little boy asked me what I do back in Lahti. I was stumped, dumbfounded. I quickly realized that I don’t do anything meaningful enough to help others in dire straights such as the Syrian refugees at Almarj.

 

The only next logical step I could take in order to help this global crisis was to offer my services to refugee families recently settling in Lahti.

 

 

 

I’m currently meeting with families and offering what little I have to aid them in their transition, and although I go through bouts of anguish about the people we left behind in Lebanon, I remember that small gestures of good faith can help light the pathway to hope for those who are accessible to us.

– Georges Hourani is a researcher,  journalist and political analyst.  He is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and has published various articles in Finland and other Nordic countries.


Photo credits

UNHCR photo by michael_swan

Lahti photo by Anton Czernous

Remaining photos are all owned by Georges Hourani

 




The post From Lahti to Lebanon: My journey to a Syrian refugee camp appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Julie Anderson

Yesterday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö met with Donald Trump. When it comes to meeting with the world’s most powerful leaders Niinistö has been on something of a roll this year, having already spent time with Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin. The Finnish press also got excited by the fact that the only other Finnish president to get an official invitation to the White House was the legendary Urho Kekkonen. However, what excited the internet more was the series of blunders Trump notched up at their press conference. Some even believed they were some of his greatest ever. Have a look to see for yourself.

1. Getting Sauli Niinistö’s surname spectacularly wrong.

When people try to pronounce Finnish names

When English speakers try to say a Finnish surname.

Posted by Very Finnish Problems on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

 

[adinserter block=”2″]

2. Saying Finland’s buying loads of F-18 jets. (They’re not.)

Trump puhui palturia hävittäjäkaupoista

Ilmeesi, kun kollegasi väittää sun ostavan siltä miljardien edestä hävittäjiä ? ????

Posted by Kioski on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

 

[adinserter block=”2″]

3. Forgetting or not knowing Finland fought the Winter War.

What's a little war between friends?

Posted by Ink Tank on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

 

4. Thinking all Finnish women look the same.

The best Trump press conference moment ever

Trump's press conference with Finnish president could have gone better.

Posted by Very Trump Problems on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

[adinserter block=”2″]

Remember you have to laugh sometimes at Mr. Trump’s antics. Otherwise, you’ll spend the next three and a bit years crying.

The post The internet loved Finnish President Niinistö’s press conference with Trump. Here’s why. appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Very Finnish Problems

Finnish made Kone elevator

How does elevator awkwardness in Britain differ from the same in Finland? Joel Willans, author of Very Finnish Problems, asks game studies Ph.D. Aki Järvinen essential questions about migrating to the UK. Co-host Thomas Nybergh is curious about the demoscene and where fake money used inside video games ends up.

Contact: veryfinnishproblems@inktank.fi

Produced by Thomas Nybergh / Ink Tank Media

 

Shownotes:

Mr. Järvinen on Twitter

Elevators and how they impacted culture

Finnish chapter of IGDA, the International Game Developers Association

The Assembly demoparty

Example of a demo

Journalist Anni Lassila on how cool summers are becoming a privilege

Joel Willans with game studies Ph.D. Aki Järvinen

Joel Willans with game studies Ph.D. Aki Järvinen

 

Download or subscribe

You can get the show as a direct download.

Get all new episodes automatically by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.

Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Stitcher / TuneIn / AcastGoogle Play / RSS

 

About the show

What’s so weird and wonderful about Finland? British born Joel Willans, creator of Very Finnish Problems, discusses, with a variety of fascinating guests, what he’s learnt after 15 years living in his much-loved, adopted country.

Follow Very Finnish Problems to get all our stuff.

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter




Title photo by Andrés Moreno

The post Very Finnish Problems Episode 5: When somebody else is in the lift appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Flow Festival sign, photo by Samuli Pentti

Helsinki based Flow Festival has established itself as one of Europe’s most praised music festivals. With ringing endorsements from publications like The Guardian and The Consequence of Sound, you’d think Flow would be one of those experiences you should try and have.

None of the above is true,. Flow Festival 2017 (August 11-13) is terrible and we’ll explain why.

 

1. First of all, Finnish festivals are all about people being obnoxious around cheap beer

 

2. Finland has the lowest population density in Europe, so Flow Festival must surely be in the middle of nowhere

 

3. Flow offers nothing for people with families and responsibilities

 

 

 

4. The the music at Flow has no rhytm or melody

 

5. Especially the Finnish lineup are monotonous nobodies

 

6. Flow books bottom of the barrel acts who can’t sing

 

 

 

7. There’s no oomph and groove in any of these people

 

8. These EDM clowns take themselves way too seriously

 

9. And of course it’s never worth looking into music you haven’t heard of before

 

10. Flow takes place in a boring industrial zone with no sense of magic in the air

 

11. If you get hungry you’re out of luck

 

12. There’s no place to chillax

 

 

 

13. Evenings gets darker in August so the feeling of summer is basically gone

Nicely lit summer evening at Flow Festival

Photo by Konstantin Kondrukhov

 

14. There’s no way you could enjoy music in this environment

 
Terrible, right? Avoid Flow at all cost. If you have more warnings to share, please feel free to open up in the comments section below.

 

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The post 14 reasons why Helsinki’s Flow Festival is terrible and must be avoided appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Ville Nummenpää

We’ve all had these moments, “what, did I say something wrong?”. It could have been something really innocent that is downright disgusting for someone else, but it also could have been something you didn´t say. A couple of pointers for your travels.

Things you should say:

1. Please. We are kind of like Klingons here. The Klingons don´t have a word for mercy, and us Finns don´t have the word “please” in that context. When you see a Finn demanding “beer” from the bartender, they’re most likely not being rude. They’re just doing it they only way they know how. We are learning, please be patient.

 

 

 

2. Good morning, thank you etc. in their language. Sure, you can say them in English, but take the effort to google a few key phrases in the language of the place you´re visiting. Not much of an effort, but makes the world of difference. Try it. And this goes for all the people everywhere, not just Finns.

 

Things you should never say:

 

3. Katso merta (look at the sea). Saying these two innocent words in Italy might get you a weird look from the locals. Or how would you feel, if you´d see a couple staring at the ocean, saying “dick shit”. (cazzo merda)

 

 

4. Hui! An involuntary reactionary word, used in a situation where, say a bird flies too close to your head. Perfectly usable in many countries, but bite your lip in Russia. There the word is very naughty, referring to man´s genitalia. Did someone laugh when you spilled some coffee in Russia? This should explain it.

 

5. Apuva/suut makiaksi/elämä on/a wink a wink…These are just a few examples of many catchphrases taken from Finnish comedy shows and commercials. When repeated enough times at a holiday resort, the locals catch on and start using them on other tourists. This is slightly charming, but oddly disturbing, especially if enough years have passed since the phrase´s expiration date. Also, don´t start chanting catchphrases anywhere ever. Please.

 

6. A bit of a stretch this one, but if you are a hardcore Charlton Heston-fan and visiting Greece, you might want to restrain yourself in public while enthusing about him. Heston means something like “shit on him” there. Just saying.

7. Talking about the country Nigeria in Finnish anywhere. Maybe a bit far-fetched too, but worth pointing out. The way we pronounce it, could sound like we were using a derogatory word about people of African descent.

 

 

8. This one doesn’t sound even remotely plausible, but is a true story nonetheless. A child was mimicking the siren of an emergency vehicle, “pii paa…”. A Greek person chuckled at this, and when an explanation was demanded (without using the word “please”), he explained that it sounds very similar to a word they use to describe fellatio. So…if you feel an urge to do an ambulance-impersonation in Greece, try to fight it.

Got more? Please share them with us.




The post 8 things a Finn should, and should never say abroad appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Ville Nummenpää

We’ve all had these moments, “what, did I say something wrong?”. It could have been something really innocent that is downright disgusting for someone else, but it also could have been something you didn´t say. A couple of pointers for your travels.

Things you should say:

1. Please. We are kind of like Klingons here. The Klingons don´t have a word for mercy, and us Finns don´t have the word “please” in that context. When you see a Finn demanding “beer” from the bartender, they’re most likely not being rude. They’re just doing it they only way they know how. We are learning, please be patient.

 

 

 

2. Good morning, thank you etc. in their language. Sure, you can say them in English, but take the effort to google a few key phrases in the language of the place you´re visiting. Not much of an effort, but makes the world of difference. Try it. And this goes for all the people everywhere, not just Finns.

 

Things you should never say:

 

3. Katso merta (look at the sea). Saying these two innocent words in Italy might get you a weird look from the locals. Or how would you feel, if you´d see a couple staring at the ocean, saying “dick shit”. (cazzo merda)

 

 

4. Hui! An involuntary reactionary word, used in a situation where, say a bird flies too close to your head. Perfectly usable in many countries, but bite your lip in Russia. There the word is very naughty, referring to man´s genitalia. Did someone laugh when you spilled some coffee in Russia? This should explain it.

 

5. Apuva/suut makiaksi/elämä on/a wink a wink…These are just a few examples of many catchphrases taken from Finnish comedy shows and commercials. When repeated enough times at a holiday resort, the locals catch on and start using them on other tourists. This is slightly charming, but oddly disturbing, especially if enough years have passed since the phrase´s expiration date. Also, don´t start chanting catchphrases anywhere ever. Please.

 

6. A bit of a stretch this one, but if you are a hardcore Charlton Heston-fan and visiting Greece, you might want to restrain yourself in public while enthusing about him. Heston means something like “shit on him” there. Just saying.

7. Talking about the country Nigeria in Finnish anywhere. Maybe a bit far-fetched too, but worth pointing out. The way we pronounce it, could sound like we were using a derogatory word about people of African descent.

 

 

8. This one doesn’t sound even remotely plausible, but is a true story nonetheless. A child was mimicking the siren of an emergency vehicle, “pii paa…”. A Greek person chuckled at this, and when an explanation was demanded (without using the word “please”), he explained that it sounds very similar to a word they use to describe fellatio. So…if you feel an urge to do an ambulance-impersonation in Greece, try to fight it.

Got more? Please share them with us.




The post 8 things a Finn should, and should never say abroad appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Ville Nummenpää

"Tervetuloa", Finnish welcome sign

 

Somewhere along the line, someone figured out a great job for themselves: Ban things. It doesn´t matter what, just think of something for whatever reason you happen to think of at the moment. It´s a convenient way to make yourself seem important, and have an actual impact on the world. Not to mention banning things is way easier than suggesting constructive ideas and improvements on society.

Excessive banning is not exclusively a Finnish phenomenon, but what is astounding, is our ferocity in enforcing our regulations. No matter how silly, we take them seriously. Next week when somebody comes up with a new regulation, that will prohibit the sale of carrots on Tuesdays, two things will happen: First, we will shake our heads and laugh. Next, we will form a task force unit that will patrol convenience stores on Tuesdays.

Don´t believe us? Check out these funny things somebody somewhere wanted to ban.

Man eating liquorice pipe candy while driving

Photo by Henri Bergius

Liquorice pipes are evil!

Why? Because they look like pipes and therefore invite innocent children to smoking, drugs, and satanism. It has not yet been scientifically proven that liquorice acts a gateway drug, but better safe than sorry, right? Liquorice pipes have been banned, and released for sale an embarrassing amount of times, because…it keeps somebody somewhere busy. At the moment, the sale of liquorice pipes is not forbidden, but they are considered as tobacco-imitation products, and as such, they will not gather bonus points on your customer account, you naughty person.

 

 

VHS copy of Die HArd

Bruce Willis should not walk on broken glass!

This is one of the funnier examples of how the official board of censors wanted to protect their citizens. There´s a scene in Die Hard, where Bruce Willis walks barefooted on broken glass. Ever loving and protecting, the censors cut this scene from the video-release. It is not official how many lives were saved, but it has to be a lot, otherwise, this would just have been a random act of vandalism. The funny cuts don´t end there, many movies like Robocop, Predator, True Romance or any Seagal-film looked a lot different here than the rest of the world. The days of movie censorship are over now, which might explain the sudden uprising of chainsaw massacres in our country.

Beer brands on trucks are the devil´s work.

A couple of years ago this country was a mess, simply because the beer delivery trucks were allowed to have popular brand names on their sides. “Not on my watch”, said somebody, and the naughty trucks were all repainted. Thanks to the government everything´s a-ok now. Or have you involuntarily gone on a 5-day bender, and woken up in the gutter recently? That´s right you haven´t, and it´s all because you can´t see the brand names on trucks anymore.

No beer for you before 9 am.

This regulation apparently eliminates the supply for people who set the alarm at 7 to dash off for more beer. So if you´re at the checkout at 8:55, tough luck. Of course, there is a loophole to this. A clever consumer can buy some extra alcohol the day before and set the alarm at 7 to get wasted at the crack of dawn. Someone should put a stop to this.

 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more super stories

 

Ville NummenpääVille used to play guitar, compose, and write lyrics for the bands Euthanausea and Skyward. He is now embarking on a new career writing TV-screenplays, articles, short stories, and possibly stage plays. His screenwriting debut was for the tv-show Kimmo (2012-), and he is currently developing other new exciting projects for TV, cinema, and radio. His first published work on page was for an anthology Adverbially Challenged (2016), a book for writers, by writers. When not writing, you can find him on the sofa watching movies or blasting some death metal.


Title photo by Dave_S

The post Why Finland bans the weirdest things appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Ville Nummenpää

"Tervetuloa", Finnish welcome sign

 

Somewhere along the line, someone figured out a great job for themselves: Ban things. It doesn´t matter what, just think of something for whatever reason you happen to think of at the moment. It´s a convenient way to make yourself seem important, and have an actual impact on the world. Not to mention banning things is way easier than suggesting constructive ideas and improvements on society.

Excessive banning is not exclusively a Finnish phenomenon, but what is astounding, is our ferocity in enforcing our regulations. No matter how silly, we take them seriously. Next week when somebody comes up with a new regulation, that will prohibit the sale of carrots on Tuesdays, two things will happen: First, we will shake our heads and laugh. Next, we will form a task force unit that will patrol convenience stores on Tuesdays.

Don´t believe us? Check out these funny things somebody somewhere wanted to ban.

Man eating liquorice pipe candy while driving

Photo by Henri Bergius

Liquorice pipes are evil!

Why? Because they look like pipes and therefore invite innocent children to smoking, drugs, and satanism. It has not yet been scientifically proven that liquorice acts a gateway drug, but better safe than sorry, right? Liquorice pipes have been banned, and released for sale an embarrassing amount of times, because…it keeps somebody somewhere busy. At the moment, the sale of liquorice pipes is not forbidden, but they are considered as tobacco-imitation products, and as such, they will not gather bonus points on your customer account, you naughty person.

 

 

VHS copy of Die HArd

Bruce Willis should not walk on broken glass!

This is one of the funnier examples of how the official board of censors wanted to protect their citizens. There´s a scene in Die Hard, where Bruce Willis walks barefooted on broken glass. Ever loving and protecting, the censors cut this scene from the video-release. It is not official how many lives were saved, but it has to be a lot, otherwise, this would just have been a random act of vandalism. The funny cuts don´t end there, many movies like Robocop, Predator, True Romance or any Seagal-film looked a lot different here than the rest of the world. The days of movie censorship are over now, which might explain the sudden uprising of chainsaw massacres in our country.

Beer brands on trucks are the devil´s work.

A couple of years ago this country was a mess, simply because the beer delivery trucks were allowed to have popular brand names on their sides. “Not on my watch”, said somebody, and the naughty trucks were all repainted. Thanks to the government everything´s a-ok now. Or have you involuntarily gone on a 5-day bender, and woken up in the gutter recently? That´s right you haven´t, and it´s all because you can´t see the brand names on trucks anymore.

No beer for you before 9 am.

This regulation apparently eliminates the supply for people who set the alarm at 7 to dash off for more beer. So if you´re at the checkout at 8:55, tough luck. Of course, there is a loophole to this. A clever consumer can buy some extra alcohol the day before and set the alarm at 7 to get wasted at the crack of dawn. Someone should put a stop to this.

 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more super stories

 

Ville NummenpääVille used to play guitar, compose, and write lyrics for the bands Euthanausea and Skyward. He is now embarking on a new career writing TV-screenplays, articles, short stories, and possibly stage plays. His screenwriting debut was for the tv-show Kimmo (2012-), and he is currently developing other new exciting projects for TV, cinema, and radio. His first published work on page was for an anthology Adverbially Challenged (2016), a book for writers, by writers. When not writing, you can find him on the sofa watching movies or blasting some death metal.


Title photo by Dave_S

The post Why Finland bans the weirdest things appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Very Finnish Problems

What’s the weirdest place Finnish president Urho Kekkonen went fishing? Author Joel Willans is joined by maritime historian Aaro Sahari. The two discuss icebreaker ships and their impact on Finnish 20th century industrialization. Aaro explains how conquering nature with year-round open waterways affected Finnish national pride.

Contact: veryfinnishproblems@inktank.fi

Produced by Thomas Nybergh / Ink Tank Media

 

Shownotes:

Old footage with fearless strolling next to speeding icebreaker

Mr. Sahari’s academic record

Sahari & Matala: Small nation, big ships winter navigation and technological nationalism in a peripheral country, 1878–1978 (paywall)

Mr. Sahari’s popularized article on icebreakers (in Finnish)

Finnish Funding Agency TEKES makes video campaign with self-mutilating daredevils group Dudesons

Joel Willans with maritime historian Aaro Sahari

Joel Willans with maritime historian Aaro Sahari

 

Download or subscribe

You can get the show as a direct download.

Get all new episodes automatically by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.

Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Stitcher / TuneIn / AcastAll others (RSS)

 

About the show

What’s so weird and wonderful about Finland? British born Joel Willans, creator of Very Finnish Problems, discusses, with a variety of fascinating guests, what he’s learnt after 15 years living in his much-loved, adopted country.
Follow Very Finnish Problems to get all our stuff.

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter




The post Very Finnish Problems Episode 4: When your winter stroll is ruined by an arriving icebreaker appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Very Finnish Problems

What’s the weirdest place Finnish president Urho Kekkonen went fishing? Author Joel Willans is joined by maritime historian Aaro Sahari. The two discuss icebreaker ships and their impact on Finnish 20th century industrialization. Aaro explains how conquering nature with year-round open waterways affected Finnish national pride.

Contact: veryfinnishproblems@inktank.fi

Produced by Thomas Nybergh / Ink Tank Media

 

Shownotes:

Old footage with fearless strolling next to speeding icebreaker

Mr. Sahari’s academic record

Sahari & Matala: Small nation, big ships winter navigation and technological nationalism in a peripheral country, 1878–1978 (paywall)

Mr. Sahari’s popularized article on icebreakers (in Finnish)

Finnish Funding Agency TEKES makes video campaign with self-mutilating daredevils group Dudesons

Joel Willans with maritime historian Aaro Sahari

Joel Willans with maritime historian Aaro Sahari

 

Download or subscribe

You can get the show as a direct download.

Get all new episodes automatically by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.

Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Stitcher / TuneIn / AcastAll others (RSS)

 

About the show

What’s so weird and wonderful about Finland? British born Joel Willans, creator of Very Finnish Problems, discusses, with a variety of fascinating guests, what he’s learnt after 15 years living in his much-loved, adopted country.
Follow Very Finnish Problems to get all our stuff.

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter




The post Very Finnish Problems Episode 4: When your winter stroll is ruined by an arriving icebreaker appeared first on .