Sour Grapes Issue 01 2009 - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Sour Grapes Issue 01 2009

Sour Grapes Issue 01 2009

Published January 12, 2009

I was privileged enough to have the opportunity  to spend summer 06 and 07 in Iceland, together with my wife Alicia Wilson who played soccer for KR.  I messed the Icelandic summer this year.  I hope to come in the near future with our daughter, Kiana Esja, and show her the reason why we gave her that middle name.  I certainly miss Iceland and all its natural beauty and wonders.
Oscar E. Lopez
We miss you too, man. Come back soon.

I am interested in helping your economy by buying Icelandic products. Do you have
a Rotary or Chamber of Commerce that is promoting exports. I am a small business person and would be happy to see if there was something you produce that I could sell here in California.
Bob Alderman
Readers: This guy Bob really means well. If any of you want to do commerce with him, write us a note and we’ll pass it on to him. Who knows, it just might save our collective ass.

Some observations on Icelandic character trait development during the recent financial crises.

I love Iceland, the people and the attitude and want to stay permanently.  Unlike a newly wed, I would like to note a few points about the characteristics of the object of my affections.  It seems to me, as a temporary Icelandic citizen (I like to consider myself as such), since my arrival in January 2008, that the recent financial crises has brought to the fore a number of endearing national Icelandic traits that I have  observed periodically over the last 10 months.
These traits have surfaced previously only intermittently over the last 10 months, during both my business day and during my social life, and I feel tempted to document them. Naturally, following great journalistic tradition, these are only my opinions, with no substantive evidence to support these comments, yet I shall say them as if they were the only truth, sent from on high.  To pontificate without substance is the prerogative of the foreigner…….especially an English one.
I call the first trait,  the not invented here syndrome.  This trait could be described as reinventing the wheel and involves ignoring known alternatives in favour of an Icelandic solution.  The benefits of this approach can be seen in an entrepreneurial active can do attitude to business which ignores the nay-sayers.  This can be seen in the rapid growth of the Icelandic high tech sector and the decision to open a website selling the entire population of the meddellin cartel range rover specials to the rest of the world, now that the ISK has made them moderately less expensive than they were before.
The downside of this trait can be described as poking a lion with a short stick…. Not o good move unless you are faster than the lion.   This is most evident in the excessive prices that were paid with borrowed money for assets, by these canny entrepreneurs (same effect as the drunk sailor with a credit card on a Friday night out in town).  The Japanese did the same thing in the 1980 ties.
However, I should be balanced, and note that you have taken up a number of English habits and traits that will serve you well.
The ability to spin….I.e. inform people of the facts that best suit your position rather than give a complete position.  In the UK, this is standing Government policy and is fairly evident from the drip drip of information concerning what actually happened during the nationalisation procedure.  Word of warning…when a politician says that it is too early to look to blame or that more important things need to be done, this is usually a euphemism for acknowledgement of some fault for the situation. 
The sheer quality of political stock.  Like UK politicians, you get the feeling that they would be out of their intellectual depth in a car park puddle.  (I can be gratuitously rude about politicians as they do not care what I think and so I can only return the complement.)
Blaming someone else (foreigners are good targets, especially for politicians as they do not vote for them as a rule).  This is known as the SUN rule (naked after UK literary establishment, although narrow mindedness with a hint of xenophobia can be rightly known as the Daily Mail rule.
The UK banks were just as greedy and short sighted as the Icelandic banks.  We just have someone to right a big enough check, which you dont.  But that is not a reason for some attempt at cultural superiority or one upmanship.
We in the UK have a glorious history of borrowing peoples countries (yours included apparently), taking what we want, rewriting history and then leaving the recipients with the mother of all inferiority complexes.  If we are on top form, we will also have partitioned your country so that you spend the next 20 years fighting yourselves rather than hating us.  The skills and traits that we have developed to provide such success in this field can only… well,, lets just say we consider ourselves legends,  (that is why you get over weight drunk English tourists, sartorially challenged, whose vocabulary skills can only be described as stunted before they started drinking, expecting people to respect them, because they are English… just like Lord Nelson was!
When I look at it like this, I can feel pride that , although Iceland has many new behavioural traits to learn, that they too can aspire to what we English are.  On this basis, my love affair with Iceland continues.
Andrew Khan Jackson

This is a fun letter Andrew, although I don’t understand a lot of it. Still. Letter of the month! Cool. Let’s do that. Just write to the usual address to receive your prize of a delicious Shawarma sandwich from the excellent Habibi.
To whom it may concern,
I had a dream that I was a lizard training with other lizards to fit through a hole in the wall. I had a dream that I was a lizard training in the air force. When I talk to people I use evasive maneuvers. I had a dream that one day, wait, Wrong dream.
My dream is we will wake up. A hippy is lost in a world of capitalist vampire cannibals. Don´t lose hope, even though half of the 21rst century has gone into making humanity more efficient killers. You have the right to believe what you want. Your brain is a chemical reaction of imaginative power. You have the right to power it with what you will. Your time is your life. Your breath is proof of your existence. Your muscles are your vehicle. Your mind is your freedom. Your actions are your legacy.
Sorry Andrew Khan. Dan’s letter is far superior to yours and has hereby been named Letter of the Month! It has lizards and airplanes and vampire cannibals, Andrew, so I am sure you understand! Now, Dan, please write us to receive your complimentary Shawarma. You can have one too, Andrew, if you want.

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