Posted on February 21, 2005
I was invited to speak at a fighter symposium in Finland several years ago. I arrived in early March, tasked to give an unclassified lecture on 1v1 fighter combat. That’s a pretty short lecture, alas, but as I was there in conjunction with some other folks, we spent a week sightseeing and mixing with the locals. It was a great trip to a very foreign place, although it was very, very cold.
The kind of cold you read about in books, maybe. Jack London, “Call of the Wild” cold.
The Finns are fascinating people – serious in demeanor, almost grave, and yet much given to partying at late night discos and bars, none of which seem to close prior to 4 AM (I discovered this through personal observation and verification).
Sample Finnish humor: One day Pekka and Toivonen meet after a long time apart and they go to a sauna in the woods. They drink vodka for a couple of hours. Pekka asks how Toivonen has been doing. Toivonen says nothing, but continues drinking for a couple of hours. Then, slowly, he replies: ‘Did we come here to babble, or did we come here to drink?
Posted on June 28, 2006
The World Championship Wife-Carrying competition.
In 1992, the people of Sonkajärvi decided that it was time to revive some long-forgotten traditions: back in the late 1800’s there was in the area a brigand called Rosvo-Ronkainen, who was said to have accepted in his troops only those men who proved their worth on a challenging track. In those days, it was also a common practice to steal women from the neighbouring villages.
So that’s how this small town in central Finland became the focus of attention of world media and sportshusbands and wives. From year to year a large number of competitors, public, and media from Finland to Canada attend the annual Wife-Carrying rendezvous in Sonkajärvi, doubling the population of the town for the weekend.
The Wife-Carrying World Championship is becoming increasingly popular. If he were alive today, old Rosvo-Ronkainen would have faced tough competition from husbands from as far away as Estonia, Norway, Ireland, or the United States of America. And being fit would just not be enough for Rosvo’s troops taking into consideration that qualifying Wife-Carrying competitions are already being held in Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, the USA, and South Korea…
The winner gets an array of prizes, including his wife’s weight in – wait for it: Beer.
What a great country!
Good pilots, too.
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Posted on January 12, 2006
Remember that Virginia coal miner who, having been found guilty of raping and murdering his sister-in-law, went to his 1992 execution insisting upon his innocence?
Turns out that, along with being a rapist and a murderer, he was a also a liar:
A new round of DNA tests that death penalty opponents believed might finally prove that an innocent man was executed in the United States confirmed instead that Roger Keith Coleman was guilty when he went to the electric chair in 1992.
In a case closely watched by both sides in the death penalty debate, Gov. Mark Warner announced that genetic testing on semen proved Coleman committed the 1981 rape and murder of his sister-in-law, Wanda McCoy.
Posted on April 5, 2006
Shortly after 9/11, and before the warship upon which I then had the pleasure to serve departed for an extended deployment to the Arabian Gulf in the winter of 2002, I read “The Middle East – A Brief History of the Last 2000 Years,” by Princeton Professor or Near Eastern Studies Bernard Lewis. It’s an impressive book if you haven’t had the chance to read it, and Lewis deals with his topic in scholarly – but accessible – detail. He demonstrates not just an understanding of his subject, but also a genial admiration of Islam’s many social, scientific and medical triumphs during a time when all of Europe was in darkness.
January 13, 2006
This may meet or exceed the previous record for brevity. Just so you know.
Where to start?
There are at least 10 11-year old girls in the house right now, on consequence of there having been a girl scout meeting for the Kat’s gang, or claque, or junta, or whatever they call themselves, augmented just at supper time by another set of 11-year olds, who came to house for an entirely separate social reason. You would not credit the noise they can make, gentle reader, when you mix them together, nor the frequency at which they can make it.
I give. OK?
On April 21, 2006
Many students of American history are aware that George Washington put down a nascent officer’s revolt during the Revolution – the officers had sacrificed a great deal for the country’s benefit, and a dilatory Congress had for far too long delayed in making good their compensation promises.