British mainstream media like the BBC have given more than a fair share of visibility to characters like former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Far-right populists, despite being given loads of screen time, must yammer to their base with tired old clishés about “Lugenpresse”, the “lying press”.
Mr. Farage is of course no exception, and yet again he so enthusiastically wanted to wage his war on the BBC, that he did that Internet-age equivalence of a public fart: holding up an easily photoshoppable sign. Like farting, an exploitable photo happens to all of us every now an then. But how bad it is, to quote George Carlin, depends “on who’s cooking”.
But just check this big and beautiful thing. As far as held-up signs go, this is top shelf material. It couldn’t be much wider if Mr. Farage wanted conveniently the hold it up by himself and fit it into a conventional photo.
Just compare it to the Dunkirk movie poster thing Farage did last summer. It may be a big sign, but it’s way less personal and enthusiastic.
Every nationality has their own identifiable characteristics no matter how stereotypical they may sound. As a Finn I hardly recognize these behavioral traits in myself until I’m outside my home country, Finland. With this list you’re sure to never mistake a Finn for anyone else again, especially while traveling or residing abroad…
1. At first you won’t even spot us because Finns know how to lay low on the communal radar — virtually undetectable. You won’t hear us voicing loud opinions on public transportation.
2. But Finns are surely there. We’re super punctual. If an event starts at 10:00 a Finn will be there at 9:40. Tip: If there’s coffee, make it 9:20.
3. Finns are the grumpiest looking people in the group. Finns tend to have unreadable facial expressions all while avoiding excessive smiling. If we’re excessively smiling it’s most likely because you just told an inappropriate joke. We love questionable humor. Dark winters = dark humor?
4. Finns can be spotted awkwardly hovering around the coffeemaker drinking hideous amounts of coffee, no matter what time of day it is. It’s a way of staying awake during those dark winter months, and a habit we cannot switch off while abroad.
5. Apart from finishing our coffee before you, Finns will also finish their alcoholic beverages before you. A moderate drinker to Finns is a person with a problem to others. Be careful when you challenge a Finn to drink — you will lose and most likely be humiliated.
6. Don’t expect an extended amount of emotional small talk. Finns often answer in short and honest bursts after a momentary ponder. Alternatively, we will tell you our whole life story when asked: “how are you?” This is more rare than the first scenario and likely involves booze.
7. Finns look unfazed by chilly weather. If it’s above -20C then you won’t see Finns commenting on the cold. You will learn to stop asking us if we’re cold because the answer is always going to be “no.
8. But when it’s actually cold Finns are really good at dressing themselves. We’ve got all the right clothing for that. There’s no shame in wearing double layers of grandma’s wool mittens, scarves and/or sweaters…layering like a maniac is a must. It should take you over 20 annoying minutes to undress once you’ve come inside, or you’re not dressed warm enough.
If you happen to mistake someone for a Finn abroad even with this helpful list, then you failed. But hey, it’s a good start and they’re probably an awesome person anyway.
There are countless reasons to love JK Rowling. One is her peerless ability to destroy the increasingly fantastical Brexit fantasies peddled on Twitter.
Previously she stepped into the debate to shut down a Brexiteer who blamed Remainers for the failing EU negotiations. Now, she’s displayed that skill in fine style against Leaver luvvie and Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, by showcasing the glaring flaw in his shockingly bad and utterly unverifiable Brexit analogy.
Leaving the EU is a bit like moving to a nicer home. The move can involve stressful moments, but it's worth it. https://t.co/NMF0Gexj3I
Today British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to set out an upbeat vision for Britain’s future relationship with the EU in a speech at the Santa Maria Novella church in the heart of Florence, Italy. Sadly, the internet wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as she’d hoped about her new “have your cake and eat it” proposals.
Electric vehicles, EVs, were invented nearly two centuries ago. Hungarian priest and engineer Ányos Jedlik, created the electric motor in 1928.
You’d think then that these cleaner and more energy efficient vehicles would have already taken the world by storm. Indeed, in some places they have. Norway, for example, peaked with over half of new cars sold being EV or hybrids in early 2017.
But in many other parts of the world, EV market share is still patchy at best. So, what’s the deal with Finland? As recently as this decade, one Finnish University of Applied Science, Metropolia has done well in electric car racing. And surely, one of the world greenest countries according to the Environmental Performance Index would be on the fast track to an electric car future, right?
Wrong. Finland’s lagging far behind. Here’s why.
1. There’s a perception problem
For a start, there’s a flawed perception problem. At the moment, electric cars cost more than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Add a more limited range, and there’s a belief, enthusiastically promoted by Finland’s bio-fuel lobby, that electric cars aren’t as good value for money.
However, total cost of ownership for electric vehicles is closing in on oil burning cars thanks to cheaper energy and motors with far fewer moving parts. What’s more, this trend is set to continue.
By 2025, it’s expected that the cost of electric vehicles will match that of combustion engine vehicles. It’s probably for this reason that Volvo recently announced they’re going all in on electric cars by 2019, for new models. Mass adoption is only a matter of time.
The Fisker Karma, a premium, Danish-designed plug-in hybrid manufactured during 2011-2012 by Valmet Automotive in Finland.
2. A real lack of subsidies. An imaginary lack of charging stations
Many governments offer subsidies for people buying electric cars. Not in Finland. Thankfully, next year, it looks like Finland might finally join this trend. But you can’t drive a car on tax breaks alone.
You also need places to charge your vehicles. Happily, tax incentives for charging stations are already in place, and thanks to charging companies such as Virta, businesses are investing, even in remote areas like eastern Finland.
A better charging network is a big deal. In Finland, even though the average daily drive is just 10km, the fear of not having enough power to reach your summer cottage is real. The more stations, the merrier everyone is.
3. The current Finnish government has bought into bio-fuels
The current Finnish government has made a number of decisions concerning biofuels, which can charitably be described as bizarre.
The Center Party aren’t alone in flying the bio-fuel flag. Oil industry business people such as billionaire ST1 owner Mika Anttonen, who’s heavily invested in biofuels, regularly belittle electric vehicles in the press (1,2,3,4,5,6,7).
While the oil lobby is unlikely to change its tune anytime soon you wouldn’t bet on Prime Minster Sipilä winning a second term. If he were to lose the 2019 parliamentary election, the likelihood is harmful handouts to produce biofuels will end too.
90s photo of Finnish made Elcat electric vans, here in use by the Finnish postal service. This model was based on the fifth generation Subaru Sambar.
4. The oil industry has fueled suspicion
There’s a number of common misconceptions and downright myths surrounding electric vehicles. Once you dig deeper you often find they’re fueled by dubious studies, regularly sponsored by the oil industry.
This is nothing new. Ever since GM conspired to destroy electric trams after WWII, the oil industry has used its wealth and power to thwart alternative energy. It’s this century-long deception that’s now causing us all to suffer from rampant climate change.
However, claims such as a notorious rumor that the net energy consumption of EVs exceed that of traditional cars, when lithium ion battery consumption is taken into account, simply don’t add up over extended use.
The electric CityEl microcar was designed in the 80’s by a Danish company and has been in production from different manufacturers since then.
This hasn’t stopped one Finnish oil company from producing a flashy site where claims are made of electric car emissions exceeding those of bio-diesel powered one. In the comparison, the EV’s co2 emissions are based on net fuel production and usage, but bio-fuels only on production, not consumption.
The reason cited is dubious in the extreme. It’s unnecessary to take usage emissions into account because bio-fuels are a type of waste disposal. This disregard for obvious co2 emissions makes no sense whatsoever, but is typical of the oil industry strategy of playing fast and loose with the facts.
Despite all these obstacles, it looks inevitable that the future for cars in Finland is electric. And while Finland’s currently lagging behind its Nordic neighbors, we’re hopeful that’s set to change sooner rather than later. That’s something we, and the planet, can all be thankful about.
There are more saunas than cars in Finland. In fact, Finn’s love is so great there’s probably even Finnish cars with saunas. Consequently, if you’re a visitor or a recent arrival, you’ll need to give sauna a go. That’s the unwritten law and if you ignore it you risk suspicious stares at best, the silent treatment at worse, (and Finnish silent treatment can last for years). Happily, help is at hand in the form of this handy guide I’ve put together to ensure your first time is one to remember for all the right reasons.
Don’t wear clothes
Public nudity can take time to get used. Practise in your own home with friends and family if necessary. If you don’t have time for this, remember sauna is pretty dark and nobody is looking at you… that is unless you stroll in with a pair of Bermuda shorts or a neon thong.
Don’t sit on the highest bench
Heat rises. The higher you are in the sauna, the more likely it will feel like your skin is going to get seared off. Lips and fingertips are most susceptible to this world of sizzling pain. Only the very hardcore sit up top, their nerve ending have long been destroyed by years of exposure to löyly, the cute Finnish name for skin burning sauna steam
Don’t put your feet in the water bucket or drink from it
This is the sacred sauna water and no matter how desperate you are chill off or how parched you are from the incessant heat, the water in that bucket is for one thing and one thing only, to make you hotter.
Don’t moan about the heat
The heat is the whole point of a sauna. Saying a sauna is too hot is like saying your shower is too wet. If the sizzling embrace of the löyly is causing you to feel faint, don’t wait until you faceplant onto the sauna floor. Sit yourself on the lowest bench and breathe slowly and calmly. Wasting your breath sighing and moaning about how scorching it is will only make you, and the other occupants, feel worse.
Don’t go mad with the löyly water
One of the great temptations, when you go to your first Finnish sauna, is to go crazy throwing water on the rocks. There’s something deeply satisfying about the whooshing of steam and the sudden rush of heat, but do it too much and the consequences can be extreme. Not only do you fry your skin, you also soon turn a very bright lobster red. Not a good look for anyone, (unless of course you’re English in which case it’s the expected holiday colour).
Just don’t. The likelihood is you’re from a country where communal nudity isn’t a national pastime, but staring is still rude. One of the greatest things about sauna is that it destroys the myth of body beautiful and shows nobody’s perfect. If have stare at something look at your hands as they go an ever-increasing deep shade of rose.
It might be minus 25 outside and so cold your nipples retreat back into your body. It doesn’t matter. Swimming is what makes sauna so special. The ying to löyly’s yang. People say Finland is a country of extremes and freezing your balls off (if you have them) after experiencing heat, which makes your sweat sweat is as extreme as you get. So, don’t be shy. Take the plunge. Your body will say thank you.
Weighing your options in Britain? Check out our podcast. Follow one Brit who escaped his homeland’s post-colonial decay and rigid class system for the Nordic, egalitarian winter misery of Finland. Sure, it’s on Apple Podcasts, too.
The titanic idiocy of Brexit has inevitably prompted an avalanche of commentary and correspondence critiquing its epic stupidity. However, some letters captured the mood, of an increasingly skeptical public, so well they went viral. To see why there were shared by tens of thousands and read by millions have look below.
The Poke, one of the UK’s funniest satirical websites, asked Twitter for Brexit themed children’s books to help with the task of explaining Britain’s slow motion suicide to kids. Needless to say, the internet delivered in fine style.