Buying Books on the Internet
This fall in Finland, a major advertising campaign began for pioneer companies specializing in internet shopping. Bokus, a book supplier and Boxman, specializing in CDs, are two enterprises that have been quite successful. Too bad all of the money is going to Sweden.
Domestic record and book stores have existed on the net already for years in this country, but none of the big names dared to take the risk and take advantage of the expanding market – even if they would have had the money to make it possible. Fredrik von Knorring, Bokus¦ Director in Finland doesn¦t want to encourage a competition, “Internet retail grew faster in Sweden, but I¦m sure that Finns will follow soon.”
Bokus is still building up its collection of Finnish books, most of what it currently offers are English and Swedish material. “Our primary targets are students. Buying books on the net is cheaper and faster than ordering them from a bookstore,” claims Von Knorring.
Aila Santanen, Managing Director of the University Bookstore in Helsinki, is quick to point out that their store has had all of the Finnish language university texts available on the Internet for some time now. There just hasn¦t been a big media effort to advertise it. It is just a matter of time before the big publishers and book store chains have their own book sites as well. Stockmann¦s Academic Bookstore is soon to open an on-line store of their own.
Stores in the Net:
Agriculture and Forestry Frosh Get Serious
Educational Planner Saara Repo-Kaarento decided to revamp the freshman orientation course for new students of agriculture and forestry this year. “Every year, there were complaints: students thought the lectures were useless and dull and lecturers disliked talking to a shrinking numbers of students,” she explains.
Repo-Kaarento decided to activate the incomers by assigning them each with a research project the very first day. Each research group was given a topic, something affecting the start of university studies, and was asked to present their findings that Friday. Subjects varied from the use of copy machines to making ends meet. Friday¦s results were creative, not all of the presentations were lectures with overhead trans-parencies, some were songs, poems and even a play.
“My understanding of teaching is that the message should be inherent in the structure: what is being done. If I stand up in front and lecture, that immediately gives the impression that I know better,” says Repo-Kaarento. In addition to the assignment, freshmen were also invited to attend lectures, social events and presentations. First year consumer economics student Sirkku Suovaara commented, “I was annoyed that we had to do work right away. I think the first week should be for getting to know people and places and having fun. The research project was like a cloud over the whole week.” Jari Kilpinen, another freshman, liked the idea of a project but would have left it for later in the week. “We had a lot of fun Friday when we presented the research for the other students.”
Hanna Poutiainen acted as a tutor during the week. “It didn¦t make any sense to be doing research when classes haven¦t even started yet. First priority should be given to practical issues like bathroom and cafeteria locations and social norms.” Hanna felt the pace of the orientation week didn¦t leave any time to address individual questions. “Only the loudest ones were heard.”
Preconcieved Notions Abound Among Student Types
To the student of the University of Technology, students that choose to study the humanities belong in the same group with UFO researchers and yoga healers. And everybody knows that only money-hungry swindlers study in the School of Economics and Business Administration.
To the students of the Fine Arts, the hulligan student droves in their silly overalls are clearly a caste below. Students of Agriculture and Forestry are forced to share a building with the students of Philosophy, “Can you really study that shit?”, they ask.
Oili-Helena Ylijoki has recently completed her dissertation on the different types of students that pursue university degrees. She found that there were three basic types: the ones that sought Oa good job¦ someday, those that looked for Oa higher truth¦ and those that were out to Osave the world¦. Each group of students can be compared to a tribe: each has its own traditions, morals, power positions, enemies and interpretation of the other tribes.
Tomio Pihkala, 23, is studying Mechanical Engineering. “Aren¦t the ones that study humanities the ones that take my order ten years from now in a hamburger joint?” Pihkala feels that students of the humanities are theoretical and not systematic. They aren¦t interested in whether something works or not, they prefer to just think about things.
Arno Kotro, 28, studies Sociology. “The more pragmatic a student¦s line of study is, the better looking they are. Economists and statisticians could be models and students of religious studies and classical philosophy are ugly.” He feels that students of medicine have begun to resemble engineers more and more. “I agreed to meet with a friend that studies medicine once. He had studied here for five years already and didn’t know where the Main Building was!”
Mari Vuorre, 26, is a graduate of the School of Economics and Business Administration. “Students of natural sciences are…well, how do say nerd in a nice way? They are quiet and hard-working.” Engineers are almost always second-generation. “They come from a strict home and spend their first few years partying, because soon they¦ll be trapped in a job, fulfilling all the expectations of others.”
Signs of War Still Haunt Sarajevo
People in Sarajevo consider the war that ripped their city for four years a natural disaster. Nothing could have been done to stop it and it could come back anytime. Nothing can be done. This attitude is apparent in the city skyline still today, skeletons of buildings are everywhere and no one seems to notice anymore.
Unemployment is chronic, people live for the day, just are killing time in street cafes. There are no instigators for a return to normal life. Trying to pick up the pieces of the war¦s destruction and change to a market economy is proving too massive a task. The people blame the international organizations. The organizations blame the local politicians, claiming they are too divided in their nationalist aims to work together for anything.
Emir Kastovich is a 27 year old author. “I am so tired of “So what was it like¦ questions. I always answer that OIt was damn fun, of course¦.” Emir fought two and a half years for the Muslim army. He tells of making love to a woman underground, surrounded by rations of sugar and flour, with bodybags thrown in between. “Can you imagine love in such a situation?” he asks.
He remembers one battle vividly, “The front line went right through a big state building at the beginning of the war. Serbs were on one side and Muslims were on the other. Many were so mixed up they couldn¦t even remember what side they were on. They would go through the wrong door and the machines guns would take care of the rest.”
Sarejevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina was attacked on April 5, 1992 by the Yugoslavian National Army and the local Serbian terrorists. By May, the city was under total siege with thousands of grenades showering it each day. The city was isolated for 1,395 days, the longest period in history. There was no phone service, water, gas or electricity. Firewood was taken from the city parks, eventually even the benches were disassembled. 10,615 people were killed in Sarajevo, 1,601 of which were children.
Europe’s Largest Sewer
For years and years, the Soviet government had better priorities than improving the waste water treatment of Leningrad. Now the World Bank has declared one hundred kilometers of the sewer system close to collapse. One third of the waste water and heavy metal waste of industry flows unihibited down the river Neva from St. Petersburg into the Gulf of Finland, carrrying with it lead and mercury emissions.
In mid-September, a forum was held in St. Petersburg to deal with this problem. “Our Common Environment” unveiled a five year plan from the Finnish Ministry of Environment and the City of St. Petersburg to develop a waste water treatment facility. The goal is to build a facility to the southwest of the city that would treat the sewage waste of one and a half million St. Petersburg residents.
Improving the city¦s water and sewer facilities would require a three stage plan, extending into the year 2015 and costing 25 billion FIM. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, England and Belgium are participating in the project. The European Bank of Restoration and Development is expected to pick up the tab, with the European Union Tacis-fund is also being targeted. Also important is the overhaul of the drinking water facilities, which would improve St. Petersburg¦s water supply significantly. “At this time, one-fifth of Petersburg¦s illnesses are caused by the drinking water,” says Esko Seppälä of the Finnish Ministry of Environment.
The “Our Common Environment” Forum also discussed other pressing matters. Alexander Federov of the Green World organization was concerned about the safety of the Sosnovy Bor nuclear plant, located 60 kilometers from St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland shoreline. The first reactor should be operative only another four years, but plans are underway to extend its use for yet another decade. Nuclear waste is problematic as storage centers are already a third over capacity. “Staff is no longer sufficient,” says Federov. “Two more workers just died of heroine overdoses.”
by Pamela Kaskinen