A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015

WHO CARES ABOUT THE KIDS?

Published October 8, 2004

It used to be the case that seeing somebody famous, and I mean somebody really famous, somebody foreign and famous, was something people would talk about for the rest of their natural lives. These days, you hardly bat an eye if you see Forest Whitaker at the bar or Bill Clinton eating a hot dog outside your office window. For the past ten years international stars have been coming here in increasing numbers. At first they would mostly hang around in bars but by now quite a few of them have become gainfully employed. The aforementioned Forest is starring with Julia Styles in the film A Little Trip to Heaven, currently shooting. A part of the film is shot in Reykjavík, so its actors can be seen about town in their time off. The actors of Beowolf are not as fortunate. With shooting taking place in the countryside near Vík í Mýrdal, they must bear the brunt of Icelandic weather extremes wearing Dark Age garb. How does star of the picture Gerard Butler feel about this? Grapevine investigates.
It’s not often that you can mark historical days in the calendar in advance. Next November 2nd, however, will be one of these. Will the majority of the voting citizens of the most powerful country in the world vote for war or peace, sanity or destruction? This is certainly the most important election in our lifetime. However it goes, we’ll all have to live with the consequences. There are two reasonable choices, but which one is better? Grapevine investigates.
Meanwhile, closer to home, the teachers’ strike, at the time of going to press, continues. This will no doubt feed ammunition to those calling for privatisation of the schools. Icelandic society has never been as egalitarian as it appears, the lack of surnames disguising the fact that more often than not, jobs are handed down from parent to child. But still, giving everyone access to equal education does go some way towards giving everyone equal oppertunities. It is an important aspect of our society that must not be compromised.
The University of Iceland has already raised its fee by roughly 25%. The University has always been strapped for cash, being reduced to conduct organised gambling for revenue. There are two possible solutions. One is to allocate more money to the University. This seems an impossibility given the current political climate of putting education last on the list of priorities. The other option is to have entrance exams like the other Nordic countries do. This would exclude some people from higher education, but at least it would admit people on basis of merit. Higher fees, however, can only lead to excluding people on the basis of money rather than merit. I refuse to believe that I live in a society where this is seen to be the best option.
University fees, although still comparatively low, have almost doubled since I first started studying there in 1996. But the rises have been piecemeal, to avoid any outburst of protests. Fees have always been collected at the beginning of autumn, when students had money from their summer jobs. Without any explanation given, this year it was suddenly moved to late winter, when University students are at their poorest. Due to criticism, this was pushed back two months, not that students have any more money then. But the criticisms were silenced by this token change.
The battle over the introduction of school fees is approaching, and I hope students will have the stamina to stick together and fight it.
Meanwhile, the youngest members of society currently have no place in the system. Teaching the children how to become adults should be regarded as the most important job in society. After all, if they fail, so does everything else. And yet, these teachers are paid only a fraction of what CEO’s are paid, even if the latter’s responsibility is only to the bottom line. Meanwhile, in the last 20 years, according to the Wall Street Journal the difference between workers and CEO´s wages have risen from being 40 fold to 400 fold. That doesn´t sound right to be. But then some large corporations do call me a communist.



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So Long, And Thanks For All The Cheese!

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For someone who is used to having an entire aisle at their disposal when they run out of toothpaste, Icelandic grocery stores can seem, shall we say, a little mundane. Of course when it comes to toothpaste, all that choice is perhaps excessive. Ever since I started spending considerable amounts of time in Iceland, this ‘paradox of choice,’ and what it might mean, has been on my mind. As I noted in my 27th editorial a few years back: there’s Crest, there’s Colgate, there’s All-Natural, there’s Aquafresh, there’s Arm & Hammer, there’s Oral B, there’s Sensodyne, there’s Mentadent. There’s gel.

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You Probably Just Want To Read About The Eruption, Huh?

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The biggest news from Iceland these days is undoubtedly the eruption. Of course it’s not everyday that a volcano erupts. But it’s hardly a once-in-a-lifetime event either. Holuhraun is actually the fourth Icelandic volcano to erupt in the last four years, and it’s been hurling lava for nearly a month now. Sprawled across three seats on a half-empty flight back to Iceland shortly after the latest eruption began, I found myself wondering if it was an unusually slow day for travel or if the eruption was scaring people off. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption certainly showed the world that our volcanoes are

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Halló, I’m Back!

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I went on a vacation last month. It was wonderful. I left the country. I spent very little time sitting behind a computer. I stopped following Icelandic news. I browsed our website and Facebook a few times. It was really wonderful. I tuned out (and all but turned on, tuned in, dropped out). To say that nothing much happened while I was gone would be an understatement. The Icelandic media seems to be in shambles (turn to page 16 for the scoop on that). The office ate Thai food last print week (we usually subsist on burgers and pizza). They

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Free Pink Street Boys Album! Free Editorial! Free Love!

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Here is a short editorial, inspired by the late, great Bill Gates and his vision, which continues to warm our hearts and our thighs through our pockets, via sturdy, glowing Gorilla Glass: Here’s to the volcanos. The eruptions. The shaking moneymakers. The ones who remind the world that, yes, we exist. While some may see them as extremely dangerous and not to be trifled with, we see them as tremendous opportunities for market expansion, advanced brand awareness building and vast merchandizing profits. Because the people who are arrogant enough to shamelessly exploit potentially catastrophic events, are the ones who make bank.

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I CHOOSE TREASON

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I just signed up to become a founding member of Fylkisflokkurinn (“The County-Party”), which has the stated purpose and sole platform of campaigning for Iceland to re-join Norway and become its twentieth county. I was the 573rd Icelander to do so according to the would-be political party’s website (fylkisflokkurinn.is), while the Facebook group that launched it currently lists over 4,600 members (many of them very enthusiastic!) and counting. Proponents of Iceland’s independence might call me a traitor to the country that bore me—they might even go so far as to accuse me of treason. And I won’t lie: I felt

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A Growing Divide?

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It’s that time of year again, when everybody is talking about everybody else’s salary. “Did you see? Grímur Karl Sæmundsen [CEO of the Blue Lagoon] makes 6.2 million per month [645,000 USD per year],” someone will say. “Wow, Davíð Oddsson [Editor of daily newspaper Morgunblaðið and former Prime Minister and head of the Central Bank] makes 3,3 million per month [345,000 USD per year],” another will say. “Did you see how grossly underrepresented women are amongst the top earners?” It might sound strange to foreign readers, but Icelanders’ salaries come under scrutiny every July, when income tax data becomes publicly

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