Monday, November 30, 2009

Started a new blog and a name change for this one

I've just started a new blog at

I don't have a good name for it, so for now I'll just call it "RPGs, boardgames, and gaming". I've copied my texts on those subjects (and close to them) from this blog to that one, and intend to keep these subjects in their own, separate blogs (both bilingual - mostly in English, but partly in Finnish).

For that reason, this blog was renamed simply (also for lack of better title) "Jouni Vilkka's Philosophy". I will write here anything at least remotely philosophical, or intellectual. I might write about academic philosophy, history, the human sciences, or the natural sciences. Or I might write about my own political views (if any), or about things that important in my personal life, such as working out, or Secular Humanism, Scientific Skepticism, things like that. Time will tell what (if anything) I actually end up publishing here. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't shake hands - learn to bow like the Chinese!

For years I've hoped we stupid Westerners would finally learn to bow instead of shaking hands (thus exchanging some of our germs with other people). Now I'm glad to note that at least here in Tampere, Finland, city officials seem to have adapted a policy of not shaking hands with customers. Unfortunately, nobody there seems to have thought of replacing that (bad) habit with another one, such as a simple bow. (I mentioned this to the officials I met, but don't expect that to have any effect, as I'm not a consultant hired by the city.) But I hope they'll learn - I hope we'll all learn.

Of course it's possible that it will just take a long time. The officials here, according to a sign I read, have stopped shaking hands for the duration of the "current threat" or something, apparently believing that this is an unusual situation that will soon change as everything returns to normal. I doubt this will happen. Instead, I'm pretty sure that there will be more and more viral threats, especially as long as people keep shaking hands. And cultural things like that are hard to change rapidly. The farming methods in Asia should be changed much more urgently than our custom of shaking hands, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

I can only hope people all over the world start learning new customs and habits, instead of just panicking about the most recent case of flu or other candidate for the next Black Death.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How I Would Throw a Funeral

Yes, I meant "throw", as in "throw a party". After all, a funeral is really just one type of party (albeit, not necessarily a happy one - although in my humble opinion, it should be). For that reason, any general advice for throwing parties should be considered. Such as on this page:

I don't pretend to have any great insight into this subject (or any other), but I have been forced to participate in several funerals that left me with the feeling they were badly executed. For a big part, this was because they were traditional, Finnish funerals, with the Lutheran church's representatives taking care of most of the practical issues. What apparently hasn't occured to many people, is to ask the simple questions "What is the purpose of the funeral?" and "Whom is the funeral for?" - and then to follow this reasoning to question all the tradition that goes with it.
Most of this, as well as the following meager advice, applies to other kinds of parties as well, such as weddings, for example - mutatis mutandis, of course.

The following is some more specific advice I've thought of.

I would have no actual burial as part of the funeral, unless really needed. In that case, I'd either do it afterwards with the select, small group only, or before the guests arrive to the memorial service. Of course, cremation in the presence of the family might be one option. If at all possible, I'd have the dead buried in the most ecological way possible, which usually means burial in cloth, not casket.

But I would prefer to have the remains in a coffin or an urn present during the memorial service. It would be as if the person is still there, and people could rhetorically address speeches to him or her, if they wish.

Of course, funerals are in reality held for the living, not the dead. The dead no longer suffer. That is something to be glad about. Nor do they care what sort of funerals they get. The living may still suffer, and the funeral may be necessary to alleviate their emotional suffering. Funerals serve several purposes, such as giving "closure" to those who knew and possibly loved the deceased, bringing together such people, and providing an opportunity to celebrate a life that's ended. In this grim world just the opportunity to have a party should not be looked down upon either. An important thing in all this is to remember that there may be several different kinds of people who all need the same closure. When planning and executing a funeral, co-operation with all these people is well adviced. Participation in the procedings may be important for some, unimportant for others. It seems common sensical to at least ask the people who were close to the deceased, what they think. If possible, a meeting for planning the event might be good, but with contemporary information technlogy, and "postmodern" life style separating people from each other by great distances, it might be unnecessary and impractical.

It's not possible to give universally useful practical advice, except this: do what seems best. Personally, I'd have no religious service with its empty rituals. I'd rather skip such pointless things and move straigh to the memorial service. This would allow one to remove the problems associated with travelling between the different places, like from a chappel & cemetary to a restaurant. Often it's hard to find parking spaces, and the whole process of moving from one place to another takes time that could be spent doing something more meaningful. And the empty rituals are for most people just boring waste of time anyway.

The memorial "service" should have a structure planned out beforehand, at least if it involves any performances. A eulogy, or several, could be presented, and they should be announced in the invitation card along with other possible performances, so everyone would know what to expect. I in general would avoid formalities, but professional speakers could be hired . There are secular humanists who practice that for a living, but undoubtedly even some priests, with proper instructions, could pull it off.

There you have it. In short, it's all about asking why the funeral is to be held, for whom, and what is it supposed to achieve. Throwing away useless tradition and reaching into the common human emotions and allowing them to be expressed is probably the most important aspect for each individual participant. To celebrate the life that ended, the achievements of the deceased, is a way to honour that person, and our common humanity. No superstitious trappings are needed, and for a growing majority, such things are more of a hindrance than any sort of benefit by now. In the end, a funeral is just one type of party, where people with something - or someone - in common can come together and celebrate.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mikael el-Hakim (i.e. Waltari) uskonnosta

Seuraava lainaus on odotellut pöydälläni jotain käyttöä jo varsin kauan. Kun en kerran sille muutakaan keksinyt, päätin kopioida sen tänne.

"Todellinen uskovainen pitää omaa uskoaan ainoana oikeana, olipa hän kristitty, juutalainen tai muslim, ja tapuminen kunnioittamaan toisten uskoa tahtomatta tappaa heitä sen tähden merkitsee vain ihmisen sydämessään luopuneen uskostaan. Epäilemättä maailmassa on jo koko joukko valistuneita ihmisiä, jotka ajattelevat kuten sinä, mutta heidän lukumääränsä on aina pysyvä pienenä ja heidän on pakko pysyä pysyä viisaasti vaiti, koska vain ahdasrajainen, kiihkoileva usko kannustaa ihmisen tekoihin eikä suinkaan valistunut viisaus.
Uskonsa menettäneen on aina varminta pysyä vaiti, koska ihmisten suuri joukko haluaa ikuisesti uskoa ja uskon väistämättömänä seurauksena on toisten tappaminen uskon eroavaisuuksien vuoksi."
- Mikael el-Hakim suurvisiirille
Mika Waltarin teoksessa Mikael Hakim (s. 338; WSOY, 1949)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Deathlands - elokuvan lyhyt arvio

Toivottavasti ette tuhlanneet aikaanne elokuvaan nimeltä Deathlands, joka tuli telkusta eilen. Uskomattoman huono pätkä, ehkä pilotti TV-sarjalle jota ei koskaan (ymmärrettävistä syistä) tehty. Mitään hyvää siinä ei tainnut olla. Kliseitä, naurettavaa veren lotraamista (mitä en suinkaan vastusta jos se tehdään humoristisesti tai realistisesti, mutta tämä ei ollut kumpaakaan), typeriä leikkauksia ja huonoa ohjaamista, kameran käytössäkin vähintään parannettavaa. Maiseman värittäminen punaisen linssin läpi kuvaamalla ei nyt hirveesti vakuuttanut ja lavastus oli muutenkin haitarista. Kässäriä ei tarvinne mainita. Näyttelijöitä (edes sitä entistä pornotähteä) en syyllistä, koska varmaan vaatii tekemistä että kestää läpi tuon roskan edes normaalilla keskinkertaisella TV-näyttelemisen tasolla.

Oli siinä sentään yksi tahattomasti hauska kohta: Päähenkilö, joka oli vähän aiemmin ampunut rynkyllään, huomasi auton lähestyvän ja viritti aseensa (siis turhaan, mutta tätähän elokuvissa usein tehdään). Sitten leikattiin lähikuvaan kun hän tähtäsi pyssynsä (M16) kohti autoa. Silloin repesin. Aseessa ei nimittäin ollut lipasta! :D Leikkaus oli kyllä tehty nin, että periaatteessa se olis voinut ladata piippuun suoraan yhden kuulan, mutta miksei tätä sitten näytetty, ja miksi ihmeessä se tekis nin, kun sillä oli varmasti niitä lippaita?! Yksi pieni naurahdus on aivan liian vähän elokuvasta, jonka jaksoin katsoa enimmäkseen vain kuvakelauksella ja oli se aika tuskaa ninkin.