April 14, 2005


If you're ever driving around northern Minnesota in the summer you are likely to see posters for dance bands written in English and Finnish. Like all Finns, the Finns up on the range love to dance. Finland is the second country in the world in terms of Tango dancing, per capita. At per capita coffee drinking they are number one.

I'm going to go to a meeting in Helsinki tomorrow, a place I've never been. Finland in general just seems very interesting. We had a speaker here earlier this week by the name of Markku Kulmala, who referred to his country as 'Western Siberia.' Cool I thought, a mixture of Scandinavian and Russian culture. There is of course a sizeable Swedish minority in Finland with their own version of the Swedish language. We have a Finnish postdoc in the lab and we were talking at lunch about the influence of the Russian bear on Finnish politics and I learned something very interesting: Finland has been paying reparations to Russia since the end of WWII! I never knew that. I had a romantic image of Russia making a land grab and brave Finns in white camoflage suits and wearing skiis fighting them off during the famous winter war. It turns out that Finland attacked Russia. First they went after Karolia that they had lost during WWI, and then they kept going farther and farther into Russia, and eventually they got chased back to the Baltic, lost the war, and were forced to pay reparations.

I will write again next week with news from Finland.


At April 14, 2005 6:14 PM , Anonymous tim said...

A lot of grim jokes came out of that war:

Two Finnish soldiers were hiding in farmhouse. One says, "we're in trouble, There are over 100 Russian soldiers out there."

Other one says: "ya, its going to take us all day to bury them"

At April 15, 2005 5:13 AM , Blogger Brad said...

Your post got me thinking about some CDs my brother gave me for christmas a couple years ago. Finnish reggae. Great stuff from a band called Conga Se Menne. I think they're still hanging around the upper peninsula someplace. http://www.congaonline.com/products.html

At April 17, 2005 6:50 AM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Finnish reggae!
It used to be that the only people who could survive in this region were those that had very little skin pigment, meaning that they could produce their own vitamin D. Being blond is a recent adaptation, just during the something like 300 generations since the end of the last ice age.


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