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Appreciation of Culture

I can’t let Anu’s announcement pass by without an expression of appreciation of Anu and the culture she represented, much to my own personal enrichment.

When Anu visited me some weeks ago, we went to a bakery named “Sweet Finnish” in Boston, and met the Finnish owner. I got to hear a short conversation in Finnish for the first time. The owner had set up a posterboard with pictures and factoids about Finland. Very well done, and very interesting to me, considering its emphasis. Here are some quotes:

In 1906, Finland became the first country in the world to adopt universal suffrage that not only gave women the right to vote, but also run for office

Finland is one of 10 countries in the world that has a women president chosen by direct popular vote.

Independent since 1917, Finland is the only country in Europe that has never had a king or an aristocracy.

Finnish teenager’s skill in math, science and reading were rated the best among the 40 countries assesed in 2004. Education is free from Kindergarted to higher education including Medical and Law School.

Finland was ranked the most competitive economy in the world.

Finland was, for the 3rd year in succession, rated the least corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.

The openeness and transparency of Finland’s companies were ranked the highest in the world.

Linus Torvalds developed the Linux operating system while studying at the University of Helsinki.

Linux was the only serious competitor to Microsoft Windows.

Unlike Microsoft, Torvalds made his operating system open source and available free of charge.

Many consider Linux more secure and reliable than windows.

(All this — in a Finnish bakery! Makes me want to live there, except for the cold winters.)

This was so interesting because it suggests how Anu may have acquired some of her enlightened qualities and principles (though surely she’s much more than merely a product of her culture), and why ultimately, volunteering for CS (under the current management) turned out to no longer be right for her. They are against democracy, have strongly favored secrecy over transparency, and have taken a stand against open-source.

Perhaps the CS management should send a delegation to Finland and tell them democracy can’t work, since it’s known to crush minorities. That it is impractical and dangerous to let citizens vote for their leaders — only chaos can result. They might also want to inform Linus Torvalds that open-source is a dangerously insecure way to develop software. American corporate culture, Bill Gates-style, is the way to go. (Although, word is, even Microsoft is starting to explore open-source possibilities).

People that think like this couldn’t possibly fully appreciate the tremendous gift Anu was to the CS community and the hospitality movement in general. But some of us know better, and we hope she doesn’t let their lack of understanding and appreciation for her, personally, and the excellent Finnish cultural qualities she brought with her, to weigh on her.


2 Responses to “Appreciation of Culture”

  • I hope that the CouchSurfing Leadership will publicly admit that they have made a mistake. They can portray me as an open source zealot, and say that some other critical people never contributed much, and leave out a bunch of facts here and there, but Anu has done such huge amounts of work, and she is admired for her integrity, communication skills and persistency, that Anu’s departure will come as a shock to many.

    I sincerely hope that there will be an announcement that will stop the (ab)use and belittling of volunteers by CouchSurfing Inc.

    Until then, it’s a relief to know that this departure also means an arrival, for BeWelcome, Crash at Mine and other free projects that do respect their volunteers.

    P.S. John, I would have left out: “Linus Torvalds developed the Linux operating system while studying at the University of Helsinki.” (Linus developed the Linux kernel, which is part of the operating systems sometimes, and I think more appropriately, called GNU/Linux.)

    P.P.S. Even though the open source issue wasn’t so determining in this course of actions I’d rather see people describe me as a free software zealot.

  • Well all :)

    Anu knows she has my support, and now i’ve publicly backed the ‘coders are whiners’ comment as one made to me… i’ll be interested to see if say, Jim asks me who said that and in what context.

    I will also be very interested to see if there is any further response than jim’s on that thread. If there isn’t i will probably post a bit more.. but injecting a little space is not a bad idea. I really AM hoping there is integrity within the LT, that someone will publicly thank Anu for her service (as you all shuold have been!!!) and begin to set the tone and intention that they claim is theirs already.

    I hope you, Anu, have not found your karmic lessons too difficult – nor the rest of you. CS is a microcosm of the world, and the best thing i can say right now is that CS is making many of the problems of our world human systems, very clear. That’s a good thing! And we have all met..(virtually) and perhaps the solutions, too, become clearer!

    and Anu.. i think you should be calling yourself an official gift of Finland to the world now, after John’s post – LOL!!

    all be well and happy!

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