WHAT SURPRISES ME, still surprises me, in all of this recent scandal/discussion revolving around this Balto-Finnic players gallery of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former First Lady Evelin Ilves, Iivi Anna Masso, Krista Lensin, Toomas Sildam, Risto Vuorinen, Erkki Tuomioja, Ieva Kupce, and nearly everyone else touched by its transparent but potent vapors is that, with the exception of President Ilves’ Latvian bride to be, I have met or exchanged mails with almost every person mentioned or involved. I even bumped into the Finnish journalist Risto Vuorinen at a book launch once, where he made light of the insinuation that he was a tool of Russian propaganda. Everybody here knows everybody. Everybody is so close. Too close. Like that grotesque sensation that courses through your fibers when you stand next to a vagabond at a urinal at a New Jersey rest stop. This is life in the tiny pagan northlands, that feeling that you have made out vicariously with everyone in the country, or at least felt the sweat from your palms mingle as you exchanged handshakes after a good night’s sauna. The spit and sweat of the people, yeah, it’s here all around you in Eestiland, everywhere you go. The political does not get personal up here. Everything is personal. We have all shared too much.