The darkness is upon us and getting heavier minute by minute, week by week. So, onto more cheerful subjects.
Emerging from three days of deadlining (rushing madly to get something finished) I realise the outside world has become too cold for comfortable cycling and certainly too cold for stopping to take still photos. This one was done gloves-on and on the move.
It seems wise, instead, to head for the warmer environment of the internet. No wonder it’s so warm here, with all this activity going on!
What do I find. References to The Usual, of course. In one, my friend (and “friend”) observes that public opinion seems very hostile towards sociable, shared use of streets and pavements, including public transport. It seems there is debate as to which should be higher, a fine for fare dodging on buses and trams. (I was going to write “bumming a ride” but that’s a) something else though it is b) an intuitive tranlation of the Finnish “mennä pummilla”).
Elsewhere, namely on the leader page, Finnish society is derided for being inward-looking to the point of incestuous (unless the meaning of sisäsiittoinen has been altered), that it’s NIS (that’s national innovation system, of course) is outdated and no longer delivering the biz, and that Finns bask in the unhealthy glow of misguided smugness. As a country Finland is apparently bureaucratic and rewards mediocrity, no wonder the international talent isn’t banging to get in!
Whence this outburst? Well, the usual quarters, naturally. The Ministry of Education and the M. of work and industry commissioned six foreign and six home-grown professors and researchers of the surprisingly soberly (for a Finnish organisation of its kind) named Research Institute of the Finnish Economy to study, er, not what Finns generally are doing but what the innovation committees have been getting up to. This apparently shows that some ministers have better things to do than attend committee meetings devoted to inspiring creativity and innovation.
Well whaddaya know! Leaving aside for a moment what we think ministers should be doing, the report and media attention is run-of-the-mill stuff: we should all pull up our socks, work harder, spend more imaginatively, submit our lives to the creativity-innovation imperative with all its routine waffle and generally be more like the cosmopolitan elites. Though having jumped to this old chestnut, it strikes me that this could all be part of a cleverly veiled attack on the not-so-cosmopolitan elites which have been mentioned recently on this blog.
Or, we could take all this in our stride (after all, what government doesn’t periodically resort to underhand use of professors’ time to whip the populace into shape?) and conclude that really what Finland needs to do is recognise its strengths, or at least perceived strengths. From a Helsinki point of view those include a still rather loveably well-oiled public transport system (another excuse for a gratuitous picture of a tram! Featuring ticket inspectors) and a cycle infrastructure that is, as the research shows (as I wrote last week) remarkably extensive. Unless the balance of power between the carbon-powered and the carbo-powerd in this city has altered massively, there should be no reason here to set up something like the London Cycling Campaign.
On which note, off to celebrate the tenth anniversary of one of that august institution’s AGMs. It was then and there, exactly a decade ago, under the sign of the bycicle, that Mr P and I first laid eyes on each other.
Love, JHJ a.k.a. Mrs P or Narrator
p.s. (In the time it has taken me to draft this, the internet has allowed a friendly cycling soul to direct me to Helsinki’s equivalent of the LCC, HePo whose website includes an English-language page, naturally.)