The European Writers’ Council (EWC) has expressed “deep concern” about the Icelandic government’s plans to raise the VAT on books from 7% to 12%. In a statement released at the council’s annual general assembly, EWC says it sees the raise as “devastating to the small Icelandic book market,” and predicts it “will have painful and irreversible effects on authors, publishers, booksellers, and on the reading culture of a nation known throughout the world for its rich and diverse literary heritage.” The statement further points out the example of “your neighbouring countries like Norway, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Faroe Islands which charge no VAT at all on books,” encouraging the Icelandic government to carry out the same policy. The WEC (French: AISBL) is a non-profit federation of national and trans-national associations and unions of professional writers and literary translators in 34 European countries.
Iceland has no army. It does operate a Coast Guard, which does have four ships, three of which are combat-ready vessels. The Coast Guard has a wide variety of guns at its disposal, from cannons to handguns. But it is not really a navy in any kind of traditional sense. The National Police Commissioner also has a Special Unit of 50 police officers, nicknamed “The Viking Squad,” which has several units specialized in various aspects of armed conflict. Viking Squad? Should monks in Britain and France start locking their doors at night and pray for safety from the wrath of the Northmen? Just about the only thing the Viking Squad has in common with their namesakes, Actual Vikings, is that neither wear helmets with horns. That is about it as far as anything that could be called a militarized force in Iceland. With the best will in the world, it includes about 250 people—that includes those who answer the phones when you call the Coast Guard office. This is not a recent development. Unlike military-free countries such as Costa Rica or Haiti, Iceland never had an army to disband. No army? So all these Vikings that settled Iceland gave up their bloodletting ways? First of all, the actual Vikings who settled Iceland were only a small proportion of the original settlers. Second, no they certainly did not give up their bloodletting ways. In the first few centuries of its existence, Icelandic government had no executive branch. People had to enforce laws and court judgements on their own, which often meant doing so by force, which could lead to death and disfigurement. And if someone harmed you or your family, you had to retaliate in turn. It made for an unstable society, which was good material for saga-writing, but bad for getting through life with all your limbs attached. I also sometimes do stupid things to get a good story, like when I stuck a baby eel up my nose. After Iceland became part of Norway, and then of Denmark when Norway became subject to the Danish king, there was little or no effort made to create an army in Iceland. There was not much gained for the Danish state in having an army in a generally quite peaceful country, especially since transporting the troops to where they would be needed in mainland Europe would take months. This lack of army sometimes caused problems, such as in the sixteenth century, when English and German merchants fought for control of harbours in Iceland, with dozens of deaths. And, then, there was a mini-religious war between Catholics and Lutherans. You see, the baby eel wriggled about for a while and then fell out. Maybe that’s not such a good story. With Iceland’s lack of army, the occasional pirate ship could have free reign in the country, as could Danish adventurer Jørgen Jørgensen, who took control of Iceland for a couple of months along with a few British merchant buddies of his. However, mostly
A three-day “Dating” Bootcamp by controversial Pick Up Artist, Julien Blanc, due to be held in Iceland next year, has most likely been cancelled, reports Vísir. The workshop – as well as a course planned in Sweden – has been removed from the overall schedule on organiser Real Social Dynamics’ website. As reported, news of Blanc’s course in Iceland prompted mass protest from the public with over 11.000 people signing an online petition to stop Blanc from entering the country. Icelandic comedian and cartoonist, Hugleikur Dagsson, proposed an alternative approach, saying the country should welcome him rather than martyr him, then proceed to treat him the way he treats women. I’m now speaking to the men of Iceland: It’s time we use our privilege for good. Chauvinists like this creature are almost without exception homophobic. They fear nothing more than someone treating them like they treat women. I say we hit on Julien Blanc. Every single one of us. If we see him in the street, we’ll give him a wink. Whistle at him. If we meet him at a bar, let’s pinch his ass. Blow him a kiss. I urge every male reporter to stroke his thighs while interviewing him. I urge every large man to tell him what a purdy mouth he has. I urge every male bartender to whisper in his ear how much they want to be inside of him. Despite efforts to contact a representative of Real Social Dynamics, Vísir has been unable to confirm for certain that the lecture has been cancelled. The collective melancholy howls of Icelandic fedora-wearing Neckbearders will haunt the bleak winter night tonight. This journalist recommends you ignore them.
The film, Aurora Iceland, featuring 3 years worth of time-lapsed aurora borealis footage has been released on VOD. As reported, three independent filmmakers spent over 130 nights over 3 years in 50 different locations across Iceland taking time-lapse sequences of northern lights with 50,000 individual High Resolution RAW images. Each second of the film is equal to approximately 3-5 minutes of real time. “In our opinion it is not enough to just catch beautiful aurora displays of all shapes and colours,” said film maker Snorri Þór Tryggvason who shot the film alongside his day job. “Each frame had to look beautiful and be good enough by itself, even if there wasn’t any aurora. To make a whole film interesting, there’s got to be more than just pretty lights dancing in the sky.” This is the first Icelandic film released in 4K. A free chapter has been made available and those interested can download or rent the full film on the movie’s website.
In a unsurprising turn of events, the weather will be getting much colder in Iceland in the coming days. RÚV reports that dropping temperatures are expected to cause icy road conditions and black ice. The Icelandic Met Office has stipulated that this is mostly applicable to the West and Southwestern parts of Iceland and mountain roads in the North and Northeast. Icy road conditions have been reported in Hellisheiði, Sandskeiði, at Mosfellsheiði and Lyngdalsheiði, so if you are traveling through those areas, stay vigilant. Up north icy road conditions and hail showers are expected at Holtavörðuheiði, Hrútafjörður, Bröttubrekka and Svínadalur. For those who are traveling through Iceland by car it’s good to check out Safe Travel and the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration for information on road safety and to stay up to date on any road closures or notices. — Note: an earlier version of this article accidentally spelled the word “surprises” as “suprises”. In the headline, of all places. This has been amended. But, you know, we’re not even sorry. It’s not like everything you do is perfect all the time.
Young Margrét Vera Mánadóttir believes English playwright and actor Richard O’Brien is her father, reports Vísir. O’Brien is known for writing Rocky Horror Picture Show and for his role as Riff Raff. In a twist of fate, Margrét has been cast in the role of Riff Raff in her high school production of Rocky Horror. “I’ve tried to get in touch with him but haven’t gotten any replies,” said Margrét. “My mum tells me it’s pointless, but I’d like to try to contact him.” Margrét’s mother and a friend of hers traveled to London at the start of 1997 which is where she met O’Brien. Margrét’s family have tried to dissuade her from pursuing contact, as he was apparently very careful not to leave any trace of their brief romance. He is currently married to Sabrina Graf and has three children from previous marriages. “This is all very strange, of course,” said Margrét. “I’ve never really told anyone about it. But when I was cast in the role of [Riff Raff] I started thinking about reaching out. If anyone knows him or could help me get in touch with him I’d be very grateful.” CORRECTION It seems Margrét Vera Mánadóttir fabricated this story, and Fréttablaðið didn’t bother checking it in the slightest before slathering her false claims on their front page. Margrét told RÚV that she fibbed to Vísir as a publicity stunt for her high school production of Rocky Horror Picture Show. That it was all in good fun and just a little prank. You know, one of those pranks where you accuse an innocent stranger of having impregnated your mother, possibly in an act of infidelity, and ignoring paternal duties for almost two decades, to promote your high school play. You know, that kind of prank.