Thursday, October 25, 2007

Estonian Identity Act

The topic of ethnic relations has been on the radar in Estonia for the past 6 months since the riots. Quebec languages laws have often been compared and contrasted with Eesti so I was amused when I read an article in the paper today about the purposed "Quebec Identity Act" which the Parti Québécois is purposing in Quebec.

Essentially the law would create a "Quebec citizenship" which you can get if you speak French and know enough about Quebec culture and history (I'm assuming through some sort of test?). Without Quebec citizenship you would not be able to for the National Assembly, municipal council or school posts, and from contributing to political parties (even Federal Parties) or petitioning the assembly. The article gives a nice example: Just imagine. A born-in-Canada computer analyst from Toronto who moves to Montreal for work could apply for "Quebec citizenship" only if he or she speaks French and knows Quebec culture..

Even if this proposal were somehow to become law (which it won't) there's no way it would survive a legal challenge but it's always interesting to see that Estonia's ethnic integration issues aren't unique and exists even very close to home.

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The Estonian Threat

I just read an article in the NY Times about what Putin may do to stay in power. This paragraph struck me:

The other option would not require Mr. Putin to move out of the Kremlin even for a short time. According to the Russian Constitution, the president may declare martial law in the case of aggression or “direct threat of aggression.” A subsequent “martial law regime” could be easily fashioned by the Parliament to include the cancellation of elections until the “threat” is over. The “threat” could be found to emanate from Estonia, which has been sharply denounced by Russia’s official propaganda this year. Estonia’s ambassador in Moscow has been harassed by a government-organized youth group and its Web sites have been subject to cyberattacks.

I've got to wonder what kind of "threat" Eesti could pose to Russia to cause martial law? I can't even think of a made up threat that Russia could come up with that would require martial law, any ideas?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Adopt the EURO now?

There's an interesting article on EPL today that talk about Estonia adopting the EURO as a parallel currency to the Kroon. All sorts of transactions such as payroll and taxes could be done in either currency. This has been brought up because it's clear that Eesti won't be joining the Eurozone anytime soon as inflation continues to rise out of control and the government is incapable (or unwilling) to address it. Two of the ruling parties have talked about this and it appears to be something that is under study and consideration, how serious that consideration is is unknown.

My thinking is why not take it one step further. Why not simply abolish the Kroon and adopt the Euro unilaterally? There are a number of countries that use the US Dollar even though there not part of America, so why doesn't Eesti make a similar move? There may be EU laws against it, I don't know, but it may be worth considering.

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Singing Revolution - Canadian Premiere

Last night I attended the Canadian premier of The Signing Revolution film at the Ontario Science Centre. The movie was part of the EstDocs film festival, a Estonian documentary film festival that is in it's 3rd year here in Toronto. The event was sold out, with an about 500 guests in attendance including 2 member's of Canada's parliament and Mart Laar who spoke about the film. One of the film's creators, Maureen Castle Tusty, was also in attendance and introduced the film. (You can see a video of the intro at

I had seen the movie earlier and wrote a bit about it but this was the first time seeing it on a big screen with a crowd. Most of those in attendance either fled Estonia during the war or were born to parents who fled so there was a personal connection for most people there. The film received a very warm reception, including a 5 minute standing ovation at the end. It was followed by a nice Q&A with Mart and Maureen where they explained a bit of the background of the movie, how footage was collected, how the inspiration for the film came and some of the challenges of making it.

The film is opening in Los Angeles and New York in December (I believe the weeks of Dec 7th and 14th respectively) and I urge you to go to and register for a screening in your area if you're interested. If you are familiar or interested in eastern european history or have a connection with Estonia, chances are you are going to enjoy this movie. Documentaries are difficult sells, especially ones about small northern countries most people haven't heard of, so supporting this movie is important.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Skype + MySpace

Skype and MySpace just announced a partnership to allow MySpace users to make calls to one another using Skype technology. I think this is a smart move on Skype's part, they've been fairly absent from social networks recently and in my opinion were falling behind in space that seems like a natural fit.

The only question I have is whether MySpace is the right partner? I personally don't use (or like) MySpace and think Facebook is much further ahead and there's been more hype around it recently. Is Skype latching on to old news? I don't know, hopefully this doesn't mean they can't do similar deals with other social networks.

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Please, don't give me a raise.

Eesti has little control over it's own economy at this point, and the little control the government does have they don't want to use because they were elected based on the promise that everyone would be rich. Now the head of the Estonian Central Bank, Andres Lipstok, has come out and asked people not to request a raise next year. Seriously? This is how far Estonian economic policy has fallen, we have to beg people not try and get a raise? Doesn't instill much confidence in the governments management of the economy.

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Monday, October 15, 2007


I haven't signed up for this but it looks good. :)

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Estonian Corruption Alert

Looks like a member of parliament is in another apparent corruption scandal. This time it's Ester Tuiksoo, a member of the Rahvaliit party. The claim is that she's been driving around in Oliver "Kohuke" Kruuda's car for awhile without paying for it. She's also being looked into for some shady apartment deals that have gone down recently. I wonder what the blowback for this will be? Probably very little going on previous similar incidents, taking gifts or doing business with major contributors doesn't seem to bother anyone. I wonder what would happen in a country like Sweden where politicians resign for a lot less.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Singing Revolution Toronto Screening

A couple of people have asked when the Toronto screening will be for The Singing Revolution movie.

The Toronto screening is on October 21st at 5:30pm, it is being held at the Ontario Science Centre (Don Mills & Eglinton). Before the movie there will be a reception with one of the directors and Mart Laar, the 2 time Estonian Prime Minister and current head of the IRL party.

As for screenings in other locations, I have no information. I suggest you check out the website and/or try and contact the makers of the film for more info.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

The future of the music industry?

Radiohead has a new album coming out October 10th. It's their first album in a number of years and their first since they finished up a multi-album contract with EMI. They've decided not to sign with another record label and are releasing the new album online. While that in itself is a little different for a big band what is most compelling about this is how they are pricing their album. They've decided to let the purchaser decide how much they are willing to pay for the album! That's right, you go to and you can (pre)-order the album, you enter any price you want down to 1pence and then submit your order.

For someone like myself who hasn't purchased a lot of music in recent years this is very intriguing. Clearly Radiohead can do it more easily than some other bands since they are filthy rich already but by allowing the consumer to price the product as they want it makes the proposition of purchasing music for someone like myself much more viable. I can know decide myself how much I value the music and also ensure that the money is going to the band, not some big record label.

This probably isn't the first band to do this but as far as I know they are the biggest to try something like this. Is this the future of the music industry?

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