Why you’ll want to visit Iceland #6

Bubbling hot mud pools at Seltún and elsewhere.

Seltún

Gute Gründe Island einen Besuch abzustatten #6

Blubbernde heiße Schlammlöcher bei Seltún und anderswo.

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Why you’ll want to visit Iceland #5

Old houses in Árbæjarsafn (Árbæ-collection).

There you can see how Icelanders lived through the centuries. I also recommend visiting the National Museum (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands) and the Saga Museum (or alternatively the museum about Egill Skallagrímsson in Borgarnes).

Moss houses at Árbæjarsafn / Mooshütten im Árbæjarsafn

Gute Gründe Island einen Besuch abzustatten #5

Alte Häuser in der Árbæjarsafn (Árbæ-Sammlung).

Dort kann man sehen wie Isländer in den letzten Jahrhunderten lebten. Ich empfehle auch das Nationalmuseum (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands), sowie das Sagamuseum (oder alternativ das Museum über Egill Skallagrímsson in Borgarnes).

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Anders “Fokk” Rasmussen: Iceland crucial to NATO

Helvítis fokking fokk!

The NATO flag was flying at the ministry of foreign affairs, approximately a hundred meters from our office here in Reykjavík, on Wednesday. I pointed it out to my colleagues who hadn’t recognized it while we took a stroll to the coffee house and back.

Apparently NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was visiting.

“Since the end of the Cold War NATO has tried to approach Russia through constructive collaboration. Now we have realized that Russia sees us as the enemy,” Rasmussen told Morgunblaðið.
(Source)

Where constructive collaboration refers to the collaborative NATO efforts acquire new NATO members in Eastern Europe and construct more NATO bases closer to the Russian border. Rasmussen simply wanted to keep it short and crisp, I reckon.

In these unpredictable times, we need NATO more than ever. I count on Iceland’s support as we make the Alliance even fitter, faster and more flexible.
(Rassmussen, as quoted by the Reykjavík Grapevine)

Actually, since the Warsaw Pact is a thing of the past and NATO has been warmongering on since the end of the Cold War, why not simply dissolve it as well? It would be high time …

// Oliver

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Why you’ll want to visit Iceland #4

Enchanting sunsets in summer towards the North1 around midnight by the seashore (and while resting your feet and legs into hot water near the Seltjarnanes lighthouse).

Sunset / Sonnenuntergang

Gute Gründe Island einen Besuch abzustatten #4

Bezaubernde sommerliche Sonnenuntergänge Richtung Norden2 um Mitternacht an der Küste (während die Füße und Beine im heißen Wasser nahe des Leuchtturms von Seltjarnanes ausruht).

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  1. yep, towards the North! []
  2. ja, richtig gelesen: Richtung Norden []
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Selective memory?

It’s fascinating to see how segments about the alleged downing of MH17 in the US news remembers Reagan’s reaction to the shoot-down of KAL007.

Of course, if you want to emphasize “the president’s” reaction it’s an appropriate comparison. But a more recent and inverse example would be Iran Air flight 655. It was shot down approximately five years after the KAL007 and by USS Vincennes.

As was already mentioned in a German satirical TV broadcast: can you remember the tough economical sanctions against the USA that followed the incident? Neither do I.

However, while the mainstream news broadcasts seem to have forgotten about the 1988 shoot-down of the Iran Air flight, Jon Stewart mentioned it in a segment a few days after the MH17 downing and compared it directly to the 1983 incident caused by the Soviets when Reagan had to end his vacation early – which he didn’t do in the case of Iran Air flight 655. And the USA has yet to apologize formally or accept responsibility.

// Oliver

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Why you’ll want to visit Iceland #3

A fjord (Hvalfjörður, literally: whale fjord) with the highest waterfall in Iceland (Glymur) and an enchanting view out of the fjord onto the sea (and if you happen to be on the sea also vice versa).

I’ll not spoil the highest waterfall for you with a photo of Glymur in all its glory, although I am in possession of several. Come and see it by yourself. And if you climb up one side and intend to descend on the other, make sure to bring rubber boots or a lot of courage. The water up there is ice cold – and unlike at the base of the waterfall, there’s no tree trunk to cross the water.

Hvalfjörður

On top of Glymur / Oberhalb von Glymur

View into the whale fjord / Blick in den Walfjord

Looking into the whale fjord from the sea / Blick vom Meer in den Walfjord

Gute Gründe Island einen Besuch abzustatten #3

Ein Fjord (Hvalfjörður, wortwörtlich: Walfjord) mit dem höchsten Wasserfall Islands (Glymur) und einem bezaubernden Blick vom Fjord auf das Meer (und manchmal auch umgekehrt, wenn man draußen auf dem Meer ist).

Ich will kein Spielverderber sein und biete daher kein vollständiges Foto von Glymur in seiner vollen Pracht, auch wenn ich sie habe. Kommt selber und schaut es euch an. Und wenn ihr auf der einen Seite aufsteigt und auf der anderen abzusteigen gedenkt, bringt euch Gummistiefel oder viel Mut mit. Das Wasser ist eiskalt – und im Gegensatz zum unteren Teil gibt es oben keinen Baumstamm um das Wasser trockenen Fußes zu überqueren.

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George Carlin

Remember him? One of my favorite contemporary American satirists. He had one piece where he stated that we have no rights. In particular he referred to all the Americans always yammering about their rights. He then pointed to the Americans of Japanese heritage that were stripped of their rights during WW2 and interned in internment camps. “Right this way” was the only right they had, he concluded.

He was right that rights are no rights if you can be stripped of them. They are privileges.

We should keep this in mind with the recent global developments.

// Oliver

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Man kann es sich direkt ausmalen

Die New Straits Times berichtet in einem englischen Artikel von heute:

KUALA LUMPUR: INTELLIGENCE analysts in the United States had already concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it.

This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a fighter that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth.

Auf gut Deutsch:

KUALA LUMPUR: Geheimdienstanalysten der USA hatten bereits gefolgert, daß der Malaysia Airlines Flug MH17 durch eine Luft-Luft-Rakete abgeschossen wurde und daß die ukrainische Regierung etwas damit zu tun hatte.

Dies bekräftigt eine sich entwickelnde durch Ermittler vor Ort vorgebrachte Theorie, daß die Boeing 777-200 durch eine Luft-Luft-Rakete stark beschädigt wurde1 und danach durch Bordkanonen eines Kampffliegers erledigt wurde welcher ihr folgte2 während sie zur Erde fiel.

Desweiteren wird auf Einschußlöcher in den Trümmern verwiesen, welche von zwei Seiten gekommen sein müssen. Die Hinweise dafür stammen von einem ehemaligen Lufthansa-Piloten. Das ließe mehrere Schlüsse zu:

Auf die Abschußtheorie durch ukrainisch Kampfflieger wurde schon mehrfach verwiesen. Beispielsweise hier.

Alles sehr bedenkliche Entwicklungen. Es fehlt nur noch daß uns die Führer und Medien der westlichen Welt erklären:

Jedes Schwanken, jedes Zögern wäre Verrat …

Wahlweise (zutreffendes bitte ankreuzen):

  1. ✓ … an Demokratie und Menschenrechten!
  2. ✓ … am jeweiligen Vaterland5!
  3. ✓ … an den Interessen internationaler Großkonzerne!

Ups, letzteres würden sie uns natürlich nicht offen sagen.

Gleiwitz ick hör dir trapsen …

// Oliver

  1. crippled == verkrüppelt []
  2. wörtlich “sie beschattete” []
  3. Er behauptete daß sich noch 3 Minuten vor dem endgültigen Verschwinden der MH17 von den Radarschirmen zwei Kampfflieger in der Nähe der Boeing aufhielten. []
  4. Begründung: das Twitterkonto und sein Blog war kurz nach dem Tweet nicht mehr erreichbar. Eine Begründung welche außer Acht läßt, daß es sich um US-amerikanische Dienste handelt. Ob es einen spanischen Mitarbeiter bei der ukrainischen Flugsicherung gab, sollte sich doch herausfinden lassen. Wo sind die kritisch nachhakenden Journalisten denn geblieben? []
  5. siehe Rede von Kaiser Wilhelm II. zum Kriegsbeginn []
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Why you’ll want to visit Iceland #2

Weather galore!

Yep, it’s true. Not only does Iceland export fish and volcano ash, it also exports weather, albeit mainly to mainland Europe.

Or as Icelanders tend to say: if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.

Mountain draped with clouds / Berg mit Wolken behangen

Good weather in the distance / Gutes Wetter in der Ferne

Southern Reykjanes mountains under cloud cover / Südliche Reykanes-Berge unter Wolkenbehang

In the bay of Reykjavík / In der Bucht von Reykjavík

Clouds crashed into a mountain / Wolken die in einen Berg gekracht sind

Mountains with mountains of clouds with a view of Reykjavík / Berge mit Wolkenbergen und einem Blick auf Reykjavík

Gute Gründe Island einen Besuch abzustatten #2

Jede Menge Wetter.

Ja es stimmt, Island exportiert nicht nur Fisch und Vulkanasche, sondern auch Wetter, vor allem auf’s europäische Festland.

Oder wie die Isländer zu sagen pflegen: wenn dir das Wetter nicht paßt, warte einfach fünf Minuten.

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Smart guy, but partially flawed logic

Neil deGrasse Tyson, a world-renowned physicist, defended genetically modified organisms some time ago and it went viral on Youtube with this video, posted some days ago.

He wrote a rebuttal on Facebook1 regarding the reactions to his words. Of course he’s entitled to his opinion, but so am I.

For starters he’s absolutely right that a lot of the discussion has been scandalized2 which doesn’t exactly aid a rational discussion. He’s also right on the issue that there are many facets to take into account and each should be treated separately. He also writes:

2) Everything I said is factual. So there’s nothing to disagree with other than whether you should actually “chill out” as I requested of the viewer in my last two words of the clip.

But is that so? Is it factual? I also watched the clip a few days ago and even though I didn’t feel the need to comment on it then, I do now. In my opinion comparing die-hard modern genetic engineering to breeding by selection is comparing apples and oranges.

There is a hybrid method I have read and heard about that uses selection as we humans have used it for millenia and combines it with genetic research to find out how close the actual outcome is to the intended outcome. Simply put, this is something that could normally happen in nature by pure chance, but you don’t have to wait entire crop cycles to make sure you get what you want. I have read that this method is being used to breed strawberry strains that are a lot more aromatic than those commonly available on the shelves these days3. In fact the standardization and complete focus on the needs of the retailers have taken their toll already – biodiversity, something many people have vowed to protect, is diminishing at a fast rate from our food crops – … but that’s another story.

However, the statement is that die-hard genetic engineering which introduces a pig’s genes into a mouse or soy genes into all kinds of food is something that has been done for a long time by humans.

Of course that’s not correct. Being the smart guy he is, I wonder how this could slip his mind. There is nothing “factual” and similarly to splitting up the discussion about the different facets of GMOs, this kind of genetic engineering shouldn’t be mashed together with selection either – whether human-made or natural.

Certainly in nature you wouldn’t suddenly end up with all kinds of crops that produce “interesting” proteins normally not found in that particular species. The scope of the problem becomes visible by looking at allergies. Good for you if you don’t suffer from one (or several). But if you do: good luck!

Sweeping this very important fact under the carpet makes one wonder where his bias stems from. It’s part of the food security discussion, but most of the time it is completely neglected as a topic of that discussion. Just because something isn’t outright killing people doesn’t mean it’s safe, let alone good, for you.

// Oliver

  1. https://www.facebook.com/neiltyson/posts/10204439688771816 []
  2. not the only topic either in which this happens []
  3. based on older strains that went almost extinct because of the mainstreaming of seeds – i.e. emphasis on quantity rather than quality []
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Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands (DE)

Und nochmal das ganze auf Deutsch.

Wer von euch Metal mag, insbesondere Symphonic und Power Metal, sollte sich unbedingt die isländische Viking Metal Band Skälmöld (etwa “Zeitalter des Schwertes”) und ihre DVD/CD “Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands” (Skálmöld und das Symphonieorchester Islands), welches letztes Jahr im Saal Eldborg in der Harpa aufgenommen wurde, anschauen/anhören. Dabei ist die Band sowie drei Chöre und das Symphonieorchester Islands. Als jemand der von Symphonic und Power Metal begeistert ist habe ich es sogleich angehört und auch sofort gemocht.

Wenn ihr nicht durch allerlei rechtliche Hindernisse1 eingeschränkt seid2, könnt ihr die Lieder sowie das komplette Konzert, wie es auch auf der DVD zu finden ist3, auf den üblichen Video-Seiten finden. Ihr müßt dafür nach Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands full4.

Ich kann nur wärmstens folgende Lieder empfehlen: Kvaðning (Ruf), Miðgarðsormur (Midgardschlange5) und Narfi6. Auch Hel7 hat es in sich, durch das Growling von Edda Tegeder Óskarsdóttir, Mitglied der Gruppe Angist. Man würde derlei Töne von einer Frau einfach nicht erwarten.

Und jetzt geht schon und guckt/hört es euch an ;)… und vergeßt nicht es zu bestellen wenn ihr es mögt. Ich hab8.

// Oliver

PS: die Liste der Lieder auf der DVD (die auf der CD fett):

  1. Heima
  2. Innrás
  3. Árás
  4. Gleipnir
  5. Upprisa
  6. Sleipnir
  7. Narfi
  8. Hefnd
  9. Sorg
  10. Loki
  11. Fenrisúlfur
  12. Miðgarðsormur
  13. Dauði
  14. Valhöll
  15. Hel
  16. Kvaðning
  17. Baldur
  1. GEMA ;) … hier aus Island gibt es mindestens zwei Möglichkeiten für das komplette Konzert plus die Einzeltitel []
  2. VPN, Proxy … []
  3. könnte trotzdem noch geschnitten sein []
  4. oder Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands und dem Namen des Liedes suchen, siehe meine Empfehlungen []
  5. ein Wesen aus der nordischen Mythologie []
  6. ein isländischer Männername []
  7. Hel ist eine Göttin in der nordischen Mythologie []
  8. … es gemocht und gekauft, CD + DVD _ Versand []
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An effort to crowdfund the pilot to a “Man from Earth” series

If you liked the movie after the story by Jerome Bixby, here’s the link to the Kickstarter campaign. Go join the effort. It’s needed, because the previous attempt failed.

// Oliver

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Why you’ll want to visit Iceland #1

Dyrhólaey (Icelandic for door hole island1) and Vík. It’s a natural reserve and features a great coastal lines and all kinds of birds, including puffins which breed there. A trip through the Icelandic South deserves at least one, more likely up to four days.

Dyrhólaey also houses the southernmost lighthouse in Iceland, to my knowledge (visible on the photo).

You’ll get to see the North Atlantic, waterfalls galore, volcanos, glaciers, glacier lagoons and the manifold results of the powers of nature. More of that in a subsequent post …

Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey

Gute Gründe Island einen Besuch abzustatten #1

Dyrhólaey (Isländisch für Türlochinsel2). Es handelt sich um ein Naturreservat mit wunderbaren Küstenabschnitten und Vögeln aller Art, Papageientaucher eingeschlossen, welche dort brüten. Eine Reise in den Süden Islands verdient mindestens einen, eher bis zu vier Tage.

Dyrhólaey beherbergt meines Wissens nach auch den südlichsten Leuchtturm Islands (auf dem Foto sichtbar).

Ihr bekommt zu sehen: den Nordatlantik, jede Menge Wasserfälle, Vulkane, Gletscher, Gletscherlagunen und die vielfältigen Auswirkungen der Naturgewalten. Mehr davon später …

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  1. -ey for Island can still be found in the Orkneys as well as in the oe of Faroe Islands []
  2. -ey für Insel kann noch in den Orkneys und im ö der Faröer gefunden werden []
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Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands

Check out the Icelandic Viking metal band Skälmöld (roughly “sword age”) and their DVD/CD “Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands” (Skálmöld and the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra) recorded last year in the Eldborg hall inside Harpa. It features the band plus three full choirs and the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra. Being a fan of Symphonic and Power Metal this is certainly something I had to check out and liked immediately.

If you are lucky and not restricted by geolocation you can find individual titles as well as the full1 DVD video recording on Youtube or other streaming sites. Make sure to search for Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands full2 and you should be able to find something.

I can warmly recommend the songs Kvaðning (call), Miðgarðsormur (Midgard serpent3) and Narfi4. Also Hel5 is pretty interesting due to the growling part of Edda Tegeder Óskarsdóttir, band member of the band Angist. You wouldn’t normally expect the growling part from a female.

Now go and check it out ;) … and don’t forget to order it if you liked it. I certainly did6.

// Oliver

PS: the list of tracks on the DVD (those on the CD in bold):

  1. Heima
  2. Innrás
  3. Árás
  4. Gleipnir
  5. Upprisa
  6. Sleipnir
  7. Narfi
  8. Hefnd
  9. Sorg
  10. Loki
  11. Fenrisúlfur
  12. Miðgarðsormur
  13. Dauði
  14. Valhöll
  15. Hel
  16. Kvaðning
  17. Baldur
  1. I think it may still be cut, but I am not certain – the CD definitely only contains part of the songs presented in concert []
  2. or Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands and the name of a particular song, see my recommendations []
  3. a creature from Norse mythology []
  4. an Icelandic name []
  5. Hel is a godess in Norse mythology []
  6. … like and order it []
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Unangenehm

Wie unangenehm für die Spiegel-Redakteure, daß ihnen jetzt ein Gegenwind seitens der deutschen Bevölkerung entgegenbläst – um nicht zu sagen -stürmt.

In ihrem Blog in dem die Kommentarfunktion taktisch klug abgeschalten ist, echauffieren sich die Spiegel-Redakteure ob der Empörung welche ihnen in den sogenannten sozialen Netzwerken entgegenschlägt. Man habe doch mit dem Titelbild der aktuellen Spiegelausgabe, welches mit Stoppt Putin jetzt auf einem Hintergrund von Bildern der Opfer des Fluges MH17 titelt, keinesfalls militärisches sondern allein wirtschaftliches Vorgehen gegen Rußland gefordert.

Daß man damit nicht nur – unbegründeterweise1, denn die Untersuchungen sind keineswegs abgeschlossen und werden scheinbar aktiv durch den Vormarsch der ukrainischen Armee Richtung Absturzstelle sabotiert – Rußland in Personalunion mit Wladimir Putin die Schuld zuschiebt und sich an die Seite von “Freunden” stellt die uns schamlos ausspionieren, ausnutzen und bevormunden scheint den Musterdemokraten in der Spiegel-Redaktion vollkommen zu entgehen.

Jetzt heißt es aufstehen und den Mund aufmachen, damit uns “danach” keiner vorwerfen kann, wir hätten geschwiegen. Ich hoffe zwar auch, daß es kein “danach” geben wird, aber einhundert Jahre scheinen nicht genug Zeit gewesen zu sein um aus Fehlern der Geschichte zu lernen – oder auch wieder zuviel um sich noch der schlafwandlerischen Sicherheit zu erinnern mit der die Mächtigen Europas sich und ihre Völker in den Ersten Weltkrieg stürzten.

// Oliver

  1. zumindest noch! []
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Beer lovers who are actually beer haters?

Too often I see self-proclamations of beer lovers that advertise all kinds of equipment to cool down the beer to arctic temperatures.

I am not sure how these people qualify as beer lovers.

If you numb your taste buds by cooling down the beer to freezing temperatures, how does that allow one to taste and enjoy the beer?

If you’d cool down a wine to similar temperatures, lots of people would complain and call it a sacrilege. But for beer it’s somehow permissible and even encouraged.

I don’t get it at all and prefer to drink my beer at temperatures at which I would also drink wine.

// Oliver

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Palettes in Iceland?

Okay, palettes (vörubretti) can be bought in Iceland from Saltkaup in Hafnarfjörður. I picked the plastic ones as they are lighter1 and offer more net weight for the freight I plan to ship. However, they also offer wooden palettes and there are two more only a stone throw away from Saltkaup, including Brettasmiðjan.

At Saltkaup one EUR1-size palette from plastic was 1500 ISK + VSK2.

Search for vörubretti or bretti, but make sure to ignore anything referring to snow boards ;)

// Oliver

PS: Saltkaup also offers other goods that can aid when moving, btw ;)

  1. just 4.5 to 7.5 kg for a EUR1-size palette []
  2. VSK == VAT []
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Live from Iceland? Yep!

Turns out the webcam at Jökulsárlón is indeed live. Here am I yesterday around half past five in the afternoon:

Screenshot 22nd of July 2014 livefromiceland.is
(click to see full size)

… in my lime shirt with the “Free Shrugs …” motto and brown corduroys.

// Oliver

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A pretty good one

Here’s a “joke” on part of NATO, quote:

Secondly, all of NATO’s deployments have taken place on NATO territory, with the intention to deter threats to NATO territory.

True, but of course this ignores the promises that were made more than twenty years ago not to expand the NATO eastwards. But since Poland has now moved towards the north Atlantic coast with Georgia and Ukraine slated to join them soon, the Russian bear feels somewhat cornered. Possible after a first few growls it might lash out soon. Let’s hope it won’t get that far.

Russia, on the other hand, has illegally annexed Crimea, allowed mercenaries and heavy weapons to flow across its border into Ukraine, and refused to condemn the aggressive and illegal actions of armed separatists in Ukraine, as it committed to do in Geneva in April. Recruiting efforts for separatist fighters are also expanding inside Russia.

Oh the irony1! As one German political satirist quipped so nicely: Putin let the Crimeans vote by whom they prefer to be oppressed – and they opted for Russia/Putin.

Quite frankly I think that perhaps the referendum was even legit. We might never know. But the outcome could make sense in the light of the ethnic-Russian population et cetera. It still doesn’t matter. “The West” condemns anything not fitting its own agenda while praising the exact same thing, sometimes in an even more ridiculous shade, where it fits (e.g. Kosovo vs. Crimea). And the best part is that the democratic “international community” is led by a country in which there are two big parties whose agendas differ by not much more than 10-20 years. What’s the difference compared to Putin’s “directed democracy” or the single-party socialistic countries that went the way of the dodo at the beginning of the 1990s?

And if I remember correctly ‘t was Greystone mercenaries – a “private military company” closely affiliated with Academi2 formerly known as Xe, formerly known as Blackwater and headquartered just around the corner from the CIA headquarters in McLean – that were spotted in Ukraine during previous escalations that led to the current state of a civil war in Ukraine’s East. But of course those mercenaries were probably all legally deployed, I guess?!

One thing is remarkable in that statement, though. They don’t use the term terrorist, which is good. Calling someone terrorist is the modern version of dehumanizing your opponent in order to justify crueler actions. Of course the Ukrainian government in Kiev doesn’t mince their words quite that much, neither to the separatists themselves, calling the opponents fascists and the like.

You can think of Putin what you will, but he’s right about one thing: if the “international community”, AKA “the West”, wants to support Ukraine, they shouldn’t exclude everybody below the oligarchic elite of Ukraine. Unfortunately that’s something that many Ukrainians are willingly blind to. Why? Because on a smaller scale many of them benefit from the corruption which keeps the oligarchs at the top in power. No one sees the damage this does to society as a whole and in turn to themselves. It’s the same cognitive dissonance at play in people that commit tax fraud for their individual profit, not recognizing the implications this has for society as a whole and still lamenting about shortcomings that can well be attributed to asocial behavior like tax fraud.

It would be nice if Ukraine would once again become the country I love and remember as my second home3. It doesn’t look like it ever will be, though. What a tragedy.

A hundred years full of wars, including two world wars, and politicians the world over seem not to have learned one bit. Sleepwalking into the next one? …

// Oliver

  1. for my US-American friends: irony is the same as goldy and bronzy, just made from iron []
  2. another name that could originate at MiniTru from Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four []
  3. Iceland coming third, sorry :) … []
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When in Rome …

Strange, the parents – especially the native Icelandic mother – of this 10-year old girl (related English article by The Guardian) should have been aware of the naming rules here in Iceland. What’s the big deal?

Usually Icelanders have first name, middle name and patronym or matronym as last name, occasionally a family name instead if their heritage is Danish, Norwegian or Swedish within the last few hundred years under changing rule.

When first confronted with the fact I was a bit surprised, but by no means shocked or disgusted by the idea. The fact that names of Icelandic citizens should conform to Icelandic grammar shouldn’t be a surprise and is certainly sensible. The fact that a commission has to approve the name is the other side of the coin and indeed stifles creativity as Jón Gnarr complains in The Guardian article linked above.

Heck, the commission even approved names starting with C and C is a letter not known from Icelandic words. Every Icelander having a middle name usually goes by either first or middle name chosen depending on the circumstances and taste. E.g. if there’s a Sigurður Ragnar and a Sigurður Arnar in the same study group, one might go by Ragnar the other by Sigurður. Icelanders generally call each other with the informal þú, related to English thou, and first names. There is nothing like Mister Þórarinsson for a Sigurður Ragnar Þórarinsson, because it would be pointless for a patronym to be used to address an individual when there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other individuals descended from a father named Þórarinn.

What’s more Icelandic names are beautiful. Nothing wrong with preserving and promoting that beauty in the context of this small society.

One thing is for sure, though. The rules should be completely waterproof and right now there seems to be enough room for discussion and interpretation. But then, it’s a common ailment from which legislators the world over seem to suffer …

If I were to pick up an Icelandic name it’d be Ólafur which is close enough to my original name, has a similar nickname Óli instead of Olli, and may even be related to Oliver, although that’s disputed (origin may be Romance languages, having something to do with olives, or Ólafur and Olaf etc.).

// Oliver

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