YLE reports that despite the economic downturn in Finland, those who retain their jobs can expect to see an increase in real income of 4.6% this year.  By contrast, last year’s increase was 1.5%.

Quoting the Taxpayer’ Association, YLE notes that ”The group attributes the improvement to slowing inflation and tax cuts. This year earned-income taxes are to be lowered overall to the tune of 870 million euros. The government — under the lead of conservative Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen — has also removed some tax penalties for raising one’s earned income”

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Eric Back on October 13th, 2008


Former Finnish president (1994) Martti Ahtisaari was recognized by the Nobel Committee for his success in brokering deals as a United Nations envoy.  He was cited for his work in helping Namibia achieve independence from South Africa, for ending the 3 decade long conflict between the Aceh movement and Indonesia, and for negotiating the end of the 1999 Nato air campaign in Kosovo.  His work in Kosovo became the blueprint for the new Kosovo constitution.  He has also been involved in mediation in Iraq, Northern Ireland, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa.

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Eric Back on September 14th, 2008

Over 1400 people attended the first ”Alaska Women Reject Palin,” rally outside the Anchorage library making it the largest political rally in Alaskan history according to the ”mudflats” blogger.


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Eric Back on September 14th, 2008


So, with so many of the Palin/McCain statements proving flagrantly untrue, can you really see Russia from Alaska?

1) No: The Bering Strait is 53 miles across, which means you can’t see Russia across it because of the curvature of the earth. freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2080507/posts

2) Yes: ”and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.” — Sarah Palin

3) Maybe (on a technicality): A Yahoo Answer Poster said, ”Actually, the answer is yes and no. From the mainland, there is no way to see Russia from Alaska. The distance is too great.

However, there are two islands in the Bering Staight – Big Diomede and Little Diomede. The big island is Russian and the small one American. They are 1.5 miles from each other. Interestingly, the International Date Line separates the two, so there is a time difference of 23 hours between the two.”


And finally, for fun, catch Tina Fey’s SNL impression of Sarah Palin here…

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Eric Back on September 2nd, 2008


It used to be that I had an email address with an account conveniently located on my ISP’s server. IE automatically used Outlook Express, and email was easy. For the past couple of years my email through my new ISP has only been available through the MSN subscription that came packaged with internet access.

Now I don’t really like MSN, and I don’t like IE either.  Like many other people, I’ve made the switch to Firefox and have chosen to use the google, Gmail service.  Using this has been awkward at times as Firefox does not know which email client to use unless it is told how to do so. Lifehacker.com provides a quick solution for getting Firefox to work with Gmail and it works well. It’s as easy as going to their site and copying and pasting a piece of script into your Firefox address bar.

Set Firefox to Use Gmail for ”Mailto” Links

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Eric Back on August 30th, 2008


By his own admission, John McCain ”don’t know much ’bout the economy,”

By her record, Sarah Palin ”don’t know much foreign policy,”

… What a terrible presidency!

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Eric Back on July 11th, 2008


Gail Renard was 16 when she heard that John Lennon was going to be staying over in Montreal.  She crashed his party with a friend via a fire escape at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  Ringing the doorbell during a change of security, Yoko answered the door and let her in for an interview.

Gail stayed for the week of the famous bed in and the recording of ”Give Peace a Chance.” Lennon is recalled as speaking with Gail’s mother on the telephone and gaining her approval; every night Gail went to her own home and bed to sleep.  During the day she acted as Lennon’s liaison to the press, played with Kyoko Lennon in the nearby park, made arrangements for tambourines for the recording session, and hobnobbed with the celebs including Tommy Smothers, Timothy Leary, and Allan Ginsberg.

She felt secure in her surroundings and recalls how when an amorous member of the press attempted to kiss her, John intervened and chased him off.  Among the several mementos that he gave her was the song board to Give Peace a Chance which was recently, almost 40 years later, auctioned off at Christies for almost $850,000.  He’d told her, ”hang on to it, it will be worth something one day.”  They had originally guessed that the piece would fetch between 200 and 300,00 pounds.  Renard, an award winning radio and TV writer, commented, saying, ”It’s all monopoly money to me.”


Read an interview with Gail Renard here.Â

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Last Friday the Canadian Federal Court ruled that US war deserter, Joshua Key, could qualify for refugee status in Canada. Federal Court Justice, Robert Barnes said that the refugee court had erred previously in denying Key’s bid for asylum and ordered the board to reconsider Key’s application. Citing a case from the US Federal court of appeal, Barnes ruled that supporting evidence for asylum status did not have to meet the threshold of a ”war crime,” as sufficient reason for Key’s refusal to serve.  Barnes said that ”it cannot be seriously challenged,” that some of the conduct that Keys witnessed had violated the Geneva Convention.  The decision was released on July 4th and could affect as many as 100 other deserters in Canada presently according to the Windsor Star.

Key’s had been sent to Iraq for an eight month tour and testified that during that time he witnessed instances of abuse, humiliation, and looting by US military personel. Key’s then experienced debilitating nightmares upon return for a two week leave and said that he could not return.  Seeing no other option, he moved his family to Canada and applied for asylum.

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Eric Back on July 7th, 2008

So how are we doing as a nation at the close of the Bush presidency.  Take a look at these statistics reflecting the USA’s place in the world according to a number of vital parameters for an established and developed nation.  All of these scores were culled from another site that had compiled them throughout the Bush years, some of them have worsened over the past few years.

What will it take to make America truthfully, ”the greatest nation on the earth?”

1) Adult Literacy:
USA #9, Sweden #1, Norway #2

2) Healthcare Quality Index:
USA #37, #1 France, #2 Italy

3) Student Reading Ability:
USA #12, Finland #1, South Korea #2

4) Student Problem Solving Ability:
USA #26, South Korea #1, Finland #2

5) Student Ranking on Mathematics Ability:
USA #24, Hong Kong #1, Finland #2

6) Student Ranking on Science Ability:
USA #19, Finland #1, Japan #2

7) USA Ranking on Life Expectancy:
USA #29, Japan #1, Hong Kong #2

8) USA Ranking on Political Corruption Index:
USA #17, Iceland #1, Finland #2

9) USA Ranking on Environmental Sustainability Index:
USA #45, Finland #1, Norway #2

10) USA Ranking on Infant Mortality:
USA #32, Sweden #1, Finland #2

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Eric Back on July 6th, 2008

Jim Carrey entertained beach goers in Malibu recently by donning partner, Jenny McCarthy’s swimsuit.  I’d say that the outfit has a certain retro look, and perhaps even harks back to simpler times.

Jim Carrey


Above: What men wore to the beach in the 1920s and 30s.