Monday, February 22, 2010

Pay raise to Finnish soldiers in Afghanistan

The video describes the challenges faced by embedded tactical trainers (ETTs). ETTs are American soldiers who are training the Afghan army to mind their own backyard. The video mentions complete lack of discipline, rampant drug use, corruption in promotions and wrong kind of soldier material as main problems.

When the Finnish or American soldiers exit Afghanistan, in five years the locals will revert back to their own ways. It's insane to believe that you can just train them into Finnish ways like any Finnish conscript. Their background, culture, institutions and genes are very different from us.

The foreign military presence will hopefully give them enough time to establish stable institutions and rebuild infrastructure so that Afghanistan will continue as a democracy, instead of sliding back into being a fundamentalist totalitarian state (or was it feudal warlord anarcy?), and that's a huge improvement. But they are going to stay half illiterate, corrupted, drug-addled and poor no matter how much military support and development aid is wasted on them. Western presence is a light, passing breeze compared to the internal logic of 30 million Afghans.

Jyri Häkämies increased the pay of Finnish soldiers by at least 500e per month, which is money well spent on valuable work.

Those who oppose wasting taxpayer's money should remember that there are less than 200 Finns there, so multipliers stay small. Also, they will be brought back to Finland - it's not a permanent black hole for taxpayer's money like suggestions to raise development aid to 1% of GNP.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Intelligence and memory

Last year I was deeply disillusioned with intellectual approaches to life, as you could see from this blog which was restricted to sports and socializing. To turn a new page in my life I went to Mensa test, thinking "Let's face it - I'm not smart. My life outcome is thoroughly mediocre. I'm much better off with stupid approaches like sports and surfacial skills. After math high school, I haven't had success in anything intellectual."

To my surprise I passed the test with the same score as BB-Esa A. I also joined the club because it supports my New Year's goal of getting a more active social life. Within one month, I have done the following:
  • Seen the movie 2012 and talked about it.
  • Listened to how a Tampere city planner lectured about developing public transit and city center.
  • Went to a Pink Floyd cover concert by Pulse and talked about the music (a person in The Club recommended the gig).
  • Went to the monthly bar evening and talked with two cute girls who are a few years younger than me, among other members.

The Club has 300 members in Pirkanmaa. However, I've seen only 20 of them in any event, so mostly the club doesn't appeal even to its members. However, it fits perfectly to my current life situation, where improving social skills is a proprity. The people are in the same wavelength in some subtle manner - I'm not an introvert in their events.

To summarize, The Club is an organization of well-rounded slackers. The events are versatile. The age of the active members varies from 20 to 70. Occupations are also versatile - a sheep farmer gets regular publicity in the "members in the news" page. In the same way as my past fraternity Luuppi brought out The Drunkard and go club brings out The Nerd Intellectual, Mensa events bring out The Well-Rounded.

Now people who have followed the human biodiversity debate may want to know how the folks inside Mensa talk about it. Overall, they don't. Instead, they cultivate self-depracting humor, which is otherwise just like metodinen alemuudentunto, but more restricted:

Tuuli: When I was young, I had a Rubik's cube and I couldn't solve it.
Kari: So your intelligence emerged only after you joined the club?
Tuuli: I'm still waiting for it to emerge.

Naturally, taking the test doesn't change anything in me. I still have 10 years of life experience as an independent adult to show that I'm nothing special in intellectual pursuits. High IQ is not so much an unfair advantage as it is a bargain with the devil - and the price I pay is that my memory is wiped clean every 5 years from stuff which has not been used recently.

The Scientist wrote about general knowledge of facts as well as reading.

When I was younger I used to read quite a bit, things like Enid Blyton (Viisikko, Seikkailujen sarja) and The Girl Detective. The funny thing is that I remember absolutely nothing from them. The same is true for all children's books. Not a single plot has stuck to my mind, while many people remember even details. (Earth Search is one of the almost forgotten ones.)

About 5 years ago I tried to civilize myself by reading about each European state, and ended up finishing about 10 books. The traces are pretty non-existent.

But there is one type of knowledge which does stick - information linked to skills. Maybe the best examples are programming skill which I started to exercise at young age and math high school where I went as a teenager. Both are skills to be trained rather than knowledge to be assimilated. They do involve lots of details, but remembering those is not a problem.

I remember so little facts from books that for me it is primarily language practise. Nowadays I hardly read at all, as Finnish and English don't need extra practise and Chinese is still on the verge of usefulness.

The only question about Ridge Forrester which I could answer is "In which TV series there is a character named Ridge Forrester?" All I know about Rocky is that it is a wrestling movie which made "Eye of the Tiger" a hit song.

Update: The post was completely rewritten.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Peacekeepers to Afghanistan

Instead of importing refugees to Finland, it is better to mind the crisis where it happens. So let's pay well to the brave souls who voluntarily risk their lives to make godforsaken hellholes livable.

Recently HS reported that low salaries made Finnish officers reluctant to go to Afghanistan. On the other hand, there are 2000 Aghans in Finland. Most of them live by social benefits - the latest statistics from 2005 tell that their unemployment percentage is a whopping 64%, and this counts only those in the labor force. This does not mean they are poor - according to today's MOT program, many Afghani families get benefits which are comparable to a Finnish worker's salary.

It's an insane result of the leftist obsession of victimhood that people who risk their lives to maintain rule of law in Afghanistan hardly benefit from it, while refugees who cheat their way here get a handsome increase in living standard for being idle. The opposite way would be better.

Update: A substandard post was rewritten into tolerable.