31 January 2007

Birmingham arrests

The war on so called terror keeps on continuing here in UK and now on my streets in Birmingham. The fact that this took place in Birmingham doesn’t really surprise me at all, quite the opposite, but it’s a sad thing. From what I have been following the whole situation here, probably the most ethnically diverse part of the country, the tension is rising. Not in any obvious way (unless if you call the riots less than 2 years ago obvious) but on the background. You hear how people talk and how little the different communities communicate with each others. How the area you live in pretty much tells your ethic origin and those lines are not to be crossed. It’s almost like voluntary group areas act (of apartheid) and it’s sad to see. What this creates is ever increasing suspicion towards the large Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi etc communities. There has already been extremely ignorant and hurtful comments from Home Secretary John Reid urging all Asian parents to “spy” on their kids so they wouldn’t join so called terrorist activities and then the government leaked document urging universities to keep an eye on the “Asian looking people”. It seems obvious to me that every single person from these communities is a suspect now. I’ve seen the frustration of my fellow students and I cannot imagine how it would be to be in their shoes.

I am not, of course, saying that they shouldn’t arrest people who plan on blowing up innocent people, if that is the case, but this government won’t win this war with its discourse of aggression and dividing the nation. Out of all the options to deal with the situation, it is probably the worst one. There is a lot of healing to be done and for it to ever happen, someone should start it in the near future. Maybe even today.

By the way – what a convenient way of not to talk about this.

28 January 2007

A new photo service.. new for me at least.

The new services online are getting better all the time and I am sure they have a fair bit of competition amongst them; which becomes the next YouTube or MySpace and so on. I like the Flickr photo service but I wanted to try Picasa. To know what is it about. Picasa is the image service of Google and having Gmail address I get to use all that they have to offer. Even this Blogger now works with the same passwords, but here is how it looks. Some photos that has already been up on Flickr but I'm only about to find out now how they work with Picasa.




15 January 2007

eMpTyV

It must be already over fifteen years ago when our household got a new VCR and unlike the older one, with this I could start watching MTV. That was one of the best things at the time. Little old me was finally connected to the big world of entertainment and popular culture. I must have spent months just staring at the box during the next few years after that. It was MTV Europe with Ray Cokes, Davina and likes and all of this music that I had heard off but had not heard. I remember spending some absolutely gorgeous summer days (and back home they are limited) inside waiting for the Madness video or American soul tracks or dozens of pop tracks that are already forgotten even by the very people who wrote them.

During the years my habit was fading a bit by bit but I still have memories taping the latest TLC and Boyz II Men videos. For the youth of today this may sound incomprehensible but at that time MTV still played music.

Some years after MTV Europe became MTV Nordic; a regional Scandinavian and Baltic music channel playing mainly Swedish music and increasingly mind numbing reality shows and now, over a year ago Finland got its own MTV which plays few videos in the middle of the night but mainly shows that kill your brain cells more than sniffing glue. It is all pretty much that American teen entertainment. It is understandable that as I grew up MTV as my best friend, it is hard for me to completely to detach myself from all of this rape of human mind. I am no longer the target audience for the channel but while I was watching some of it on my holidays, and when I do my best to set my need for nostalgia aside, and I thought that it was nothing more than eMpTyV.

Their rotation of videos at night time, the time when you can still see some videos, is so tight that it makes CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio) feel like a diverse and well balanced source of entertainment and information and on top of those videos, viewers can send text messages and channels offers a tasteless comment about their sex lives. I must be getting very very old, but at the same time surely the viewers themselves must be too young for that. I mean the content feels like it is targetting ten year olds. The shows are almost all American and I remember when they started this new service it was promised how it will give a new platform for local popular music. Although few of the videos played were local, the small amount of videos and the tightness of rotation ensures that not many artists will benefit from this. Only thing I can imagine to be different from the regional MTV Nordic to MTV Finland is that now they can sell their own advertising time and all of a sudden all the old Nordic channels can multiply their advertising revenue by targeting it better and Viacom in US will be happy while the kids learn that a) it’s cool to be stupid b) money defines your value if you are a male and c) the size of your breasts define your value as a human being if you are a female. If I ever have children I will not tell them that popular culture exists before they are old enough to understand that it also has more positive sides than MTV.

Back in UK

I arrived back to Brum last week and I am finally ready to start the final part of this journey that has taken much longer than I ever thought it would. Although Finland had no winter either, the spring is much further here. Or I suppose the it is more like the winter never came here as much anyway. I have a new room in the same old house and I think it will be a good one. For once I am very excited about the future and that, my friends, is a great thing. I cannot wait for the proper spring (although that will still take a while, but in the last year of university time flies).