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Finland’s Independence . . . and ours
Dec 6th, 2017 by Dr Karma

It’s Finnish Independence Day! In fact, it’s the 100th anniversary.

Happy Anniversary, Finland!

On this day in 1917, Finland broke free from Russia. Historically, Finland had to break free a lot–its neighbors didn’t respect it, but the Finn’s sisu (a uniquely Finnish characteristic involving perseverance and stubbornness and quiet resolve) has freed it time and again and kept its culture and language unique.

(Independence did not, by the way, stop Russia from re-invading during WWII. And for some reason, the Finns had to pay a war debt for defending their own country. Apparently, since the allies won, and since Russia was an ally, the Finns were supposed to just say, “sure, c’mon in, the sauna is all warmed up for you.”)

When I was in Finland several years ago, I spotted this painting in the national museum:

I was drawn to it immediately.

“Yeah, girl! Protect that book!”

Of course, I discovered it wasn’t just celebrating bibliophilia.

The woman is the maiden of Finland, defending the rule of law against the Russian eagle.

As we celebrate Finnish independence today, let’s all take a moment to consider the sad fact that we need a picture just like this, with the Statue of Liberty instead. Or Mueller. Or a donkey.

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Happy Simpsons Anniversary!
Apr 19th, 2011 by Dr Karma

Today is one of The Simpsons‘s anniversaries. I say “one of” because while this is not the day the full-length show first aired in 1989, it is the day the family first appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987.

I was there. I saw it. I was hooked.

I’ve written a lot already about the cultural impact of the show, so for today, I’ll focus on another aspect of the show: its prescience.

Somehow, all of the things I love, Margaret Atwood, Science Fiction, The Simpsons, etc. are great at seeing where our cultural trends are going to go.

The Simpsons has both commented on and anticipated many aspects of American culture. Our current political season is reflected eerily in Season 11’s “Bart to the Future.”

In the episode, Bart sees a vision of his future. He’s a loser, but Lisa is President. The beginning of her administration is plagued by a debt: “As you know, we’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump.”

At the time, the line was funny–of course we would never be so stupid as to elect the Don. Now, the line evokes a sick feeling in my stomach as candidate Trump illustrates his lack of genius by siding with the birthers. A reality TV star courting the lowest common denominator? And winning? Yes, it could happen.

Lisa has to raise taxes to balance the budget, but doesn’t want to say that that’s what she’s going to do. Milhouse, her advisor, says that if she wants to “out and out lie,” she could call the “painful emergency tax” a “temporary refund adjustment.”

Doublespeak in politics is nothing new, but Jon Stewart was struck by Obama’s doublespeake last week enough to comment on it. Specifically, raising taxes (or, rather, allowing some tax breaks on the super rich to expire [did you know the richest 400 households pay 17% while I pay 30 something %?]) was “spending reductions in the tax code.”

This is why I love The Simpsons; they are us!

Happy 24th!

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