When romance is on Fin ice

Finland’s citizens are some of the heaviest users of the internet in the world and the country is the home of telecoms giant Nokia.

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By  Published  December 16, 2006

The tag of Finland’s sexiest man has not had quite the same cultural cachet as, say, France’s sexiest man. However, when French President Jacques Chirac said that the current Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen was that very man, the country’s tabloids decided to take an interest in his private life.

And they hit paydirt with news of how Vanhanen, a 51-year-old divorced father of two, was romancing Susan Kuronen, 36, whom he had met on the internet.

Finland’s citizens are some of the heaviest users of the internet in the world and the country is the home of telecoms giant Nokia. It was little surprise then, when Kuronen announced that Vanhanen has dumped her —by text messaging.

“Matti dumped me in a text message, where he said ‘that’s it,’” she bawled to Scandanavian magazine Me Naiset (Us Women) in an interview earlier this month.

Text messaging your split seems to be the vogue among celebrities, including such names as Britney Spears, as readers of Backbyte will be familiar with. Britney’s kiss-off to then-husband Kevin Federline message has started the ball rolling. It certainly explains why her name is still in the headlines.

Oops, I did it, etc.


And on the internet. Yes Britney has topped the year’s poll for most searched item on search engine Yahoo.

Amazingly, despite not releasing any new material for nigh on two years, more online searches were done about Spears than any other topic or person, the US search giant revealed — for the fifth time in six years.

“Why she keeps ranking top... is beyond me,” claimed Cathi Early of Yahoo. “I don’t think people are just sitting in front of their computers looking for Britney.”

We suggest Early has a look down the list of the top ten search items, to gauge the age of its user base: Shakira was at number three, Jessica Simpson at number four and Paris Hilton at number five.

Lets narrow it down — the second most popular search enquiry was for Wrestling TV network WWE and the most searched news item was on the death of Australian crocodile hunter Steve Irwin.

What do these results tell us? Only that US pre-teen boys have remarkably similar tastes...


Planet waves


Earlier this year, Backbyte reported on the efforts by scientists to crack the inner workings of a 2,000-year old analog computer.

The Antikythera Mechanism, discovered more than 100 years ago in a Roman shipwreck, was used by ancient Greeks to display astronomical cycles.

Well now an Anglo-greek team, using advanced imaging techniques, has examined the fragments of the complex geared device and concluded that it could have been used to predict solar and lunar eclipses.

“This is as important for technology as the Acropolis is for architecture,” claimed Professor John Seiradakis of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. “It is a unique device.”

The team was also able to decipher more of the text on the mechanism. This, combined with analysis of the dials, point to the possibility that the mechanism could have also displayed planetary motions.

The study built on a reinterpretation of the fragments by Michael Wright of Imperial College London. He believes the device was not a one-off.

“The designer and maker of the device knew what they wanted to achieve and they did it expertly; they made no mistakes,” he told the BBC.




Creative types are extremely savvy in using the internet to build up a groundswell of support for them when things get tough. Take the case of Australian director Peter Jackson.

Jackson, the man behind the camera for the blockbusting Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, posted a letter on the fan web site TheOneRing.net, to tell his fans that he had been dumped from the long-mooted adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the prequel to LOTR.

“This outcome is not what we anticipated or wanted, but neither do we see any positive value in bitterness and rancor,” he wrote along with his wife Fran Walsh.

“We now have no choice but to let the idea of a film of The Hobbit go and move forward with other projects.” Cue the predictable internet backlash.

“This is a big blow to the LOTR community, I feel like there has been a death in the family,” one irate fan wrote, as hordes of LOTR fans deluged the film’s producers, New Line, in order to get them to back down.

New Line refused to comment, citing an impending lawsuit with Jackson’s company against the studio, so MGM, which owns the distribution rights to The Hobbit, held out an olive branch.

“We expect to partner with New Line in financing The Hobbit,” said an MGM representative. “We support Peter Jackson as a filmmaker, and believe that when the dust settles, he’ll be making the movie. We can’t imagine any other result.”

One wonders if Jackson, and his fans, are getting a bit too ‘precious’ over Tolkein’s tales.

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