Brief in English


Soap Opera Fever in Finland

Slouching in front of the television is a moral dilemma in Finland, a behavior one has to defend, make excuses and justifications for. Only the evening news can be watched with a clear conscious. Regardless, viewer polls show that virtually every Finnish home watches so-called `trash TV’. One million Finns follow what is happening in the world of the Forresters every day. Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210 boast a half a million viewers each. Several documentaries have just as many watching, but viewers are concentrated in the countryside and amongst older people. In between the TV shows, one million Finns watch the news. In Finland, watching the news broadcasts is a citizen’s obligation, much like cheering on Finnish athletes on TV from your armchair. In a poll taken last spring for Helsingin Sanomat, 40% of Finns couldn’t even guess the names of the warring parties in Bosnia, while 20% of respondents were more than familiar with the love lives of the Bold and Beautiful cast.
    Soap operas have been credited with bringing a sense of community to the cold city developments, continuity to the fragmented weekday, security to the broken routine brought on by unemployment, advice for handling interpersonal relationships and company for the lonely. Europeans disapproving of the trashy series are concerned about this spread of American cultural imperialism. German and Finnish family series don’t inspire the same kind of moral backlash as the supranational U.S. soaps, watching Schwarzwald Klinik and Metsolat is considered educational. Television critics have declared soap operas detrimental to human’s mental health. Finnish critic Jukka Kajava demanded that Bold and Beautiful be moved a half hour back so as not to overlap with afternoon children’s shows. His wish was granted and now small town grocery stores all over Finland are empty a half hour later than they used to be.

Unix password Renewal

The University of Helsinki Computer Center is planning to renew all of its unix system passwords this spring. The Center will inform most users of their new passwords by mail. Those who don’t receive a letter can pick up their new password at the Computing Center office. Renewal of the over 15,000 existing passwords has proven necessary because a small number of passwords have fallen into the wrong hands. Many current users have chosen passwords that are easy for domestic and foreign computer hackers to guess. The renewal is expected to be completed by early June. For more information, contact

New Chancellor To Be Elected

In late March, the University of Helsinki will elect a new Chancellor. Three candidates will be chosen, of which the President of the Republic elects one to the office of Chancellor for five years. The current Chancellor, Lauri Saxén, will retire in August. Preliminary speculation predicts a clear win: the next Chancellor will be the current Rector of the University, Risto Ihamuotila. All previous Chancellors were first Rectors, with the exception of Saxén. Ihamuotila’s term as Rector hasn’t been an easy one – he has managed the fight against budget cuts, the introduction of a new university administration, and the development of a self-appraisal system well. Chancellorship would be a suiting end to his University career, and, perhaps, the beginning of a political one. So why bother electing three candidates? Any publicity is good publicity. The election debate is an excellent opportunity to raise one’s profile, keeping in mind the up-coming election of a new Rector. Professor Matti Klinge will surely receive some votes again this year, along with Professor of Law Mikael Hidén. Professor of Public Law Edward Andersson will most likely be in the running, having previously served as Vice-Rector. Philosophy Professor Ilkka Niiniluoto is highly regarded within University circles, adding focus to several committees and leading Esko Aho’s famous `philosophy working group’ during the previous government.
     But the real competition will begin once Ihamuotila has been elected Chancellor and his Rector position is free. His replacement will have to wait until May, however, until the President officially names the Chancellor. Vice-Rector Arto Mustajoki is the favorite, having already been stiff competition to Ihamuotila in the 1992 election. As Vice-Rector, Mustajoki has been left with the `dirty jobs’ and brainstorming new ideas – those that find favor improve the Rector’s image, those that don’t worsen Mustajoki’s. His election, however, is far from sure. Many challengers may have an interest in the title, among others, Hidén, Dean of Medicine Kari Raivio, Dean of the Humanities Göte Nyman and Eero Puolanne of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. Possible black horses include Professor of International Politics Raimo Väyrynen and Sociology Professor Elina Haavio-Mannila.

Melissa Etheridge – Tough Female Rock

Melissa Etheridge is happy that women playing tough American rock is suddenly `in’. Her last two albums, Yes I Am andYour Little Secret have found a large audience. “These days, women like Alanis Morissette, Courtney Love and Joan Osbourne are really strong and it’s not considered ugly or frightening, but beautiful and sensual. It’s been great to see this kind of change,” Melissa explains before her Helsinki concert. Etheridge’s scratchy voice has often been compared to Janis Joplin. She is a master of American rock and her two-hour Helsinki concert inspired even back row fans. As a young girl, Etheridge listened to rock legends – from Jagger to Springsteen. “I make the kind of music that I loved as a kid and that I grew old to. It never even crossed my mind that I couldn’t play something just because I was a woman.” She feels her last two albums have been very personal, “On my last two records I wrote about things that I know: American intolerance and those feelings that I have as a woman and homosexual, of inequality and rising hate.” She hopes that people from all sorts of backgrounds find her music inspiring. “I know that women have a lot of unutilized potential. We shouldn’t be frightened by words like woman power or hold it in any way categorizing.”

Just How Hungry Are You?

If every university student were to take one piece of bread too many daily, the waste heaps of the world would increase by 55,000 pieces of bread. The same goes for potatoes. Hundreds of kilos of food remain uneaten daily at student cafeterias. Over 50 kilos a day are thrown away at Porthania alone. Before Christmas, Unicafe planned a `stingy’ week, where students were asked to consider carefully how much food they needed to avoid the amount of waste. Sanna Pulkkinen, student member of the Unicafe board, comments, “Food is cheap for the time being, but if the amount of waste isn’t cut down, we may have to resort to taking the money from students’ wallets.” Liisa Lehtinen, Assistant Director of Unicafe’s operational activities, is upset by the amount of waste, “Cleaning your plate is an environmental task we could all practice daily.”

The Red Stars Remake The Seventies

The tongue-in-cheek band Punatähdet (The Red Stars), composed of Aatos Punainen (Jan Erola) and Varma Kosto (Jaakko Lyytinen,) are collecting quite a fan club these days making remakes of 70’s Finnish communist songs. Lyytinen explains, “We’re not trying to stir up a revolution, this is just heavy parody and, in a way, a perverse kind of tribute to Finnish communism of old. The seventies seems to be working again in the nineties”. Both Erola and Lyytinen study in the department of political history. Their colleagues in the Savo student nation know every song by heart and are analyzing Punatähdet as a profound phenomenon of our time. Go see them in their far out 70’s clothes perform at the New Student House March 16th.