Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Is It With Those Finns?

This is too weird not to let go unnoticed. Newsweek just came out with its first-ever World's Best Countries. Finland topped the list of 100 countries surveyed. Finland? Fortuitously, I had prepared myself for this eventuality. Three weeks ago, I was in New Zealand - by rights a country that should rank number 1 on the list - having a beer with my old friend Chris.

"What is it about the Finns?" he happened to ask, seemingly out of the blue. But nothing in our conversations is ever out of the blue. We're both in search of a grand unified theory of everything. Every topic, however arcane, is on the table, and - who knows? - this could very well be the one that would yield the ultimate universal truth - 42 explained - the answer to life, the universe - everything.

Think about, he said. The Finnish language is only one in four in the world not connected to any major language group. (Okay, technically, Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family that also includes Estonian, but you get the point.)

Hmm, I thought. A language - and by extension, a people - from nowhere. Interesting. For extra credit: The word "sauna" is Finnish in origin. So is a type of granite known as "Rapakivi."

Next, Chris said, the Finns beat the Soviet Union during World War II.

I nodded my head appreciatively. During the Second World War and its aftermath, the Soviets overran Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Nazi Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Japanese-occupied Manchuria. Yet they had no luck trying to subdue a nation of a mere five million people right on its border.

What is it about these mysterious Finns? I could only wonder.

Last but not least, Chris added. They make Nokia phones.

Holy crap! I could only think. They make Nokia phones. If this were in any way connected to the Swedish making IKEA furniture then this was very significant indeed.

It just so happened that we had both seen a "60 Minutes" report from the 1990s, "Tango Finlandia," narrated by Morley Safer (the pic above is from the report). The surrealism in the piece would have made Salvador Dali jealous. According to the report, the Finns are a highly depressed and morose race, intensely private and painfully shy, who pay the equivalent of twelve dollars to take part in a national obsession - the tango.

Indeed, this is beyond the realm of human understanding.

And now - number one on Newsweek's Best Countries list. Very - very intensely - significant indeed.

Clearly, without doubt, cracking the Finnish Code will yield the secrets that Einstein spent the last half of his life searching for in vain. And I just know many of you are putting the final pieces in place right now. Those last neurons are connecting, about to reveal the ultimate answer to everything.

Life will never be the same again.

Don't be shy, post your comments now ...


herb said...

Wow! And to think not too long ago Finland had the distinction of the highest suicide rate.

Okay I’ll toss in the unusual; how’s about a possible positive effect of global warming on that country.


Loretta said...

A "highly depressed and morose race"? With the highest suicide rate? Spending their time doing the tango?

Yikes. That's a secret code I, for one, will leave alone. I'm already afraid I may be distantly related to them..... : )