Remember last issue when we complained that the Bárðarbunga volcano was a huge disappointment for not having the decency to erupt? Well, apparently the volcano gods read the Grapevine, because a huge fissure opened up in Holuhraun and began spewing forth some very photogenic magma. Icelanders were quick to ask the most important question: What are we going to name the new lava field when all is said and done? The jury’s still out on that one, but for now, this is proving to be the ideal volcanic situation: pretty lava, no airplane-choking ash clouds and no one hurt or injured. Now if we can just find a way to charge tourists money to look at it.
It looks like the Progressive Party needs to come up with some new ideas, as it turns out that their much-lauded household debt relief package doesn’t actually have all the money it needs to fulfil the promise that got them into power last year. Whoops! In fairness, though, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson said the money was supposed to come from a new bank tax–it’s the banks that don’t want to pay it. Maybe they can have a bake sale or something.
In what is sure to be a worthwhile venture, foreign investors are now putting their money on mining for gold in Iceland. Significant quantities of the metal were found in Þormóðsdalur, and there’s hope that even more can be unearthed. While it’s unlikely that this will kick off an era of wild prospecting and pioneer-style justice, you never know.
Former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr is still trying to get his name legally changed to the name he has been known by for decades. While the National Registry has rejected his request, he intends to appeal the matter to the Ministry of the Interior. It turns out that the law on names might be being applied unevenly, as some people are being allowed to change their surnames while others are not. If that turns out to be the case, could it be the beginning of the end for the Naming Committee? It’s difficult to say.
A story about some tourists who were scolded by a park ranger for daring their son to jump into some freezing cold water, and then subsequently laughing at the child, prompted many of our readers to react with surprise and horror. Some well-meaning American readers commented that this behaviour was a shameful representation of Americans, while other Americans were quick to point out that not all Americans can be blamed for the actions of a few Americans. We at the Grapevine would like to assure our readers that no one here thinks Americans as a whole are heartless, thoughtless, cruel morons who consider hypothermia a form of entertainment.
In spookier news, the former Chinese Ambassador to Iceland Ma Jisheng has apparently disappeared. That is, he left in January with the expectation that he’d come back in March, and never did. No one seems to know where he is, or why he’s not coming back, and it would be irresponsible of us to speculate. Suffice it to say that we sincerely hope he just got a better job offer back in the mainland, or has finally decided to start working on that novel he’s been planning, or is on some tropical island sipping a cocktail out of a coconut. Ma Jisheng, if you’re reading this, drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to so we can stop worrying.