Hectic times and the Moment of Truth

Posted: September 14th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: things that suck, thoughts | 1 Comment »

As always, the beginning of September is time-wise extremely constrained for me. Therefore I do not have enough time to write anything. In any case, I’ll soon be back with a more regular updates to the blog.

In the meantime I have had a nice birthday and other things are developing nicely.

I wanted to give a new remark about the new TV show Tõehetk (The Estonian version of the Moment of Truth). I think the show is especially vicious and it is a crime against the human civilization. It plays on the vice of greed to satisfy the public’s almost unlimited infringement on the game participant’s privacy, which I value as especially precious. I am scum for having watched it and I’ll try not to watch it any more.

Georgia under attack!

Posted: August 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: russia, things that suck | No Comments »

If everything had gone according to plans, I would be in Georgia today with a group of people from Estonia, visiting Batumi. As fate had it, the plans changed and I am in France instead.

If this event does not convince European leaders that Russia cannot be regarded as an equal partner, then what needs to happen. Democratic countries do not attack other democratic countries. Do they need to nuke someone for people in European capitals to wake up? Russia is too big and too consequential to let it drift into a complete dictatorship.

Read the joint declaration of Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish presidents on Russia’s military attack against Georgia.

Unlucky Friday

Posted: June 14th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: apple, things that suck | No Comments »

Yesterday was Friday 13th, so naturally some things had to go wrong: in a global scale the Irish said no to the Lisbon Treaty, but in my personal level my MacBook Pro refused to show any video (the screen was completely blank). At the local Mac service I was told it was the motherboard which was faulty and there would be a 2 -3 weeks wait until a new one arrives.

Fortunately I can borrow another MBP at work and restore my documents to that one until I get it fixed. Also, my MacBook Pro was within warranty period, so I do not suffer a financial setback, just an inconvenience.

The Irish said No to Lisbon Treaty

Posted: June 13th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: european union, politics, things that suck | No Comments »

It appears that the best hope for a more integrated Europe has gone. The Lisbon Treaty, already a Plan B after the failure of the Constitutional Treaty has been rejected by the voters in Ireland, the only country where a referendum was held. It is a sad day for Europe, as it appears there is no Plan C.

Populist rightwingers can continue their lies and misinformation about the European Union.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, abolishment of the pillars and streamlining lawmaking process are now all on hold.

I do not understand who say that this was a democratic vote. It was not. 3 million Irish people decided to hold back 500 million Europeans. The No campaign was based on misrepresenting, fearmongering and unashamed populism, which muffled the Yes vote. The whole situation is absurd.

Things That Suck: the Victory Monument

Posted: May 31st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Estonia, things that suck | No Comments »

The Victory Monument

The planned Victory Monument of the Freedom War (Vabadussõja võidusammas) is being built without regard to the principles for which Estonia stands for me. I will not honour the monument and will use any and all means reasonably possible to discredit this antithesis to freedom or the memory of the victory. I love Estonia, but I hate the monument the way it is planned. I was not always against it, I am a great believer in the power of the arts so I welcome any new development that would enrich our public space in my home town of Tallinn. But everything changed when I saw the design and found out more about who and why is building it. For some reason the monument is being built under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence, which as far as I know does not deal with planning of public areas in Tallinn.

Here are the reasons for my decision to disown the monument:

  1. The cross: Estonia has never been a Christian country, we are mostly atheists/pagans and proud of it. The cross has for Estonians the meaning of oppression and foreign conquest rather than victory. The teutanic cross is also very similar to nazi regalia, which might confuse some people.
  2. The process, which ran against all good governance principles. The monument process was politically driven and hasty. It did not take into account any of the principles of inclusion, instead it showed that in 2008 democratic Estonia it is still possible to make decisions like in 1978 Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. Dissenting opinions are disregarded and democratic dialogue discouraged with classic excuses (not the right time to raise questions, it is unpatriotic). It seems to me that the people who decide are motivated by the need to be written in history as the ones who finally managed to conclude a project which was in the making since 1918.
  3. It is unsuitable. The general consensus among those who are educated in the field of arts is that artistically it is not suitable to the area. 
There are a number of other concerns, but for me the worst is that it is simply unpatriotic and stupid to erect such a divisive and controversial monument in the year of the 90th Anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. I do not know what have been the intentions, but the result is that people have been disenfranchised and pushed away from their country by this process.
It is sad that such a trivial matter as one monument should cause so much grief, but it again shows what power symbols have.

A question of principle

Posted: April 21st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: things that suck | No Comments »

An interesting dilemma. Via Andrew Sullivan.

Members of parliaments and their tricky expenses

Posted: April 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: european union, politics, things that suck, thoughts | No Comments »

In Estonia the MPs expenses that they have claimed for reimbursement by the taxpayers have been a constant source of ricidule. The groceries, the “meetings with voters”, etc.

Now it seems that the UK public also finally is able to join in the “fun”: this Guardian article reveals expenses claimed by Tony Blair and other UK parliament politicians. Blair paid for a dishwasher, for example, from his £ 22 000 (ca 500 000 EEK) yearly expense allowance. Together with accusations of outrageous spending and forgery related to expense allowances in the European Parliament, is an issue that is more serious as it seems. The sums have no real impact to the taxpayers, because they are nominal compared to the total budgets, but it nevertheless angers the voters and destroys their trust in the parliamentary system.

The expense amounts should be removed, wages of MPs should be transparent and no room should be left for fraudulent or unethical behaviour. The people’s trust in democratic institutions is too precious to risk for these benefits sake.

Things that suck: ETV Pluss

Posted: January 3rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Estonia, things that suck | No Comments »

Eesti Televisioon (ETV), the sole Estonian public TV channel (managed by Estonian Public Broadcasting) decided some time ago to enter into digital age with putting its shows and archive of its shows online. The idea is brilliant as there are many shows that are of good quality and many that have real historical significance. However, it did this in the most ill-conceived way possible and that is why the service has failed to attract any significant usage (as opposed to the tv.ee portal, which broadcasts Kanal2 shows). TV3 seems to be following in ETV-s footsteps, but at least they are a private TV channel, so they can make their mistakes and lose the ad-revenues until they change.

So, what is exactly wrong with ETV Pluss? There are several things:

    1. Partnership with the formerly state-owned dominant telecom Elion. Public private partnerships work in many areas and they are beneficial. In this case, however, the requirement to have Elion’s e-pass to use the service and pay to Elion 70 kroons per month (ca 4,5 EUR) AND a separate fee for the shows as well (ca 1 EUR per show) is outrageous.

    2. Double-dipping in tax-payer pockets. ETV’s archive is not private property, it belongs to ETV and ETV should use it in public interest. Furthermore, ETV gets its funding from the state budget, which in turn gets it’s money from taxpayers (i.e. citizens and companies in Estonia). This means the taxpayer who has already once paid for the upkeep of ETV and for the production of the shows is sold those shows once again for a fee. It is outrageous and I cannot see why people should put up with this.

    3. The technology behind the site is subpar. The site does not use the latest global standard methods of media delivery (MP4, AAC or Flash), relying instead of Microsoft’s dying and antiquated Windows Media solutions. Consumers all over the world have voted by no longer using Windows Media, because it does not work properly, has much worse quality versus file size ratio and because it is not interoperable enough.

    4. The DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme is unnecessary and complicated. For a small country and for public TV, it should be self-evident that the TV shows should be freely distributable. There is no money to be made from the digital sales as the market is too small and most of the shows are not so good. ETV should be interested in having MORE viewers, not trying to restrict access by complicated and unnecessary DRM schemes.

    5. ETV Pluss only works with Windows XP. When I tried to use the site, I was greeted with a message that I should upgrade my state-of-the-art Mac OS X Leopard operating system (released October 2007) to Windows XP (and not even Vista!). Windows Media Player 10 is also required for the cumbersome DRM to work and it is not available for anything else than Windows. When BBC tried to make its online video delivery system called iPlayer available only to Windows, there was an instant and vocal uproar, which caused the BBC Trust to require from the BBC to also support other operating systems. So they are re-engineering it to make it work with Macs and other OS.

So basically what has happened is that a public TV station has again shown its incompetence and cluelessness about anything digital and created ETV Pluss in partnership with dominant telecom requiring the use of a near monopolistic software company’s operating system. The latter has been found guilty by the European Commission in 2004 and EU’s Court of First Instance in 2007 of illegally abusing it near monopoly in operating systems.

ETV of course has many more problems than ETV Pluss (the quality of its shows, crashing viewer ratings, inability to govern itself effectively), but it is a sign of a mentality that a public broadcaster should get rid of. ETV could and should carry an important public role, but right now it has been marginalised (and not by competition from outside, but because of what they are and how they do things). The BBC went through and is going through the same problems, but there are signs of recovery.

ETV Pluss is a disgrace. Put the archived shows on YouTube, if you cannot think of anything better. Create podcasts of shows, make them publicly available on your website. I can listen to archives of radio shows, why should TV be any different. And, most importantly, stop trying to make money out of things that people have already paid for once.

I, Murderer

Posted: August 19th, 2004 | Author: | Filed under: things that suck | No Comments »

I killed a frog yesterday. It was horrible. Although I did not do it intentionally, it did involve certain amount of negligence on my part. I should have been even more careful with the lawn-mower or then transported the frog to a safe location.

I feel sad and guilty.