From Iceland — Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Published September 28, 2009

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour grape of the month
A case of POLAR BEER for your thoughts.
not gonna lie to you: we really love us some beers. Some folks would
call it a problem, but beer never gave us any problems. In fact, over
the years, it’s solved most of ’em. A frosty glass of cold, frothy,
bubblicious, golden-tinted beer has consistently failed to let us down.

In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson: “Mmm… Beer…”
since we’re real pleasant and giving folks here at the Grapevine, we
thought we’d share some of that wonderful POLAR BEER with you, our
readers. Henceforth, until the end of days (or our Polar
Beer-sponsorship program, whichever comes first), we will reward one
MOST EXCELLENT LETTER with a case of the Polar Beer. You read right. A
full case of beer. At your disposal.
Give us your worst:
Good afternoon,
Just returned from a great hiking trip to Iceland where I came upon your excellent paper.
I read with interest your article on the difficulties people encounter in legally emmigrating to Iceland.  While interesting, the article omitted one crucial element:  there is no universal right to live in whichever country one wishes.  I realize that the concept of citizenship may be lost to a new generation of globally minded individuals, but citizenship and the accompanying right to live in a country is tied to more than a parochial sense of identity.  With citizenship comes a number of rights (e.g. voting, social services) and responsibilities (e.g. paying taxes, obeying laws) that are fundamental to the fabric of a nation’s political, economic and social identity, development and overall well-being.
Furthermore, it’s also important to underscore that Iceland’s immigration laws are no more strigent than most other European Union states.  In fact, I thought it a bit rich to read commentary from three American citizens who fell ill-treated by Iceland immigration system when immigrating or moving for professional reasons to the US is no picnic for most people since 9/11.
I think its marvelous that people love Iceland so much they wish to live there, but to characterise negatively Iceland’s immigration system is unfair and, frankly, not realistic.
p.s. if this qualifies for the case of Polar, well, keep it for yourself and have it my honour.
Michael A. O’Neill, Ph.D
Sessional Lecturer/Chargé de cours
Political Science/Sciences politiques
University of/Université d’Ottawa
Dear Michael,
Thank you for your informative and well put letter/ Merci de votre instructif et bien mit la lettre.
Yours is without a doubt this issue’s MOST AWESOME LETTER. You had us at “keep it for yourself.”/ Votre lettre est sans un dute notre plus AWESOME LETTRE. Vous nous avez à “gardez-le pour vous-même.”
All fun aside, this is an interesting topic to ponder. If the concept of citizenship, as well as the concept of the nation-state is dead to a new generation of globally minded individuals, as you suggest, is it maybe time to seriously reconsider them? 
After all, they are mere constructs, and thus dependent on us for survival. It’s like in the Neverending Story or something. If we quit believing in them, they go away.
Perhaps, there is a better way?  Gosh, I hope so.

My wife and I went to Iceland last month (August) and had a good time.  One thing that I noticed is that everywhere I went #2: hotel, public toilet, etc. the toilet paper was stiff and hard like a piece of paper that my third grade teacher would pass out for doing math problems.  Is this the norm, or just saving money and using the cheap stuff for foreigners and people out and about?  I’ll admit that when I was in Bonus I didn’t “squeeze the Charmin” so to speak.  Just curious if I could make a killling starting a soft-toilet paper export business.
Dear Ben,
thank you for your letter.
I think I speak on behalf of the entire Icelandic nation in saying, in the immortal words of Ol’ Dirty Bastard:
    “Oooh, baby, I like it raw.”

Dear grapevine,
I am writing in response to your immigration article. You define Realative, ”as a dependant child or parent” as does the immigration office.  to clear that up here is a personal example that I find funny:
My daughter is Icelandic. I do not qualify because she is a child and cannot apply for me until she is eighteen. I was married to her father but as soon as we divorced it became increasingly difficult for me to stay here. I left the country for 9 months and was almost deported when I returned. It didnt seem to matter that my 8 year old was dependant on me, the law only provides for an aging parent dependant on a citzen. It also doesnt matter that I have paid taxes here for the last nine years according to the immigration office I have only been here for a year. I speak Icelandic. I fill all the requirements for appyling for citizenship or permanant residency execpt being married to an Icelander.
With one divorce under my belt I no longer believe in marriage. Where does it leave me? I reapply year by year for a temporry permit to work and live here but each year it is a fight. I cannot vote. I cannot recieve unemployment or welfare benefits like other single mothers recieve or student loans. I doubt if seriously ill that I wouldnt be asked to pay for my care.
So if you are sure that this is the way you want to treat us I prefer to have that fraction of tax that I pay for unemployment welfare and healthcare refunded to me. Lets be fair about this.
It should be of note that a few years back the senator,Jónína Bjartmarz, secured an Icelandic citizenship for her daughter in law shortly after her arrival in Iceland. She did not fullfill any of the requirements nor did she speak the Icelandic language. It is a slap in the face.
So again its not what you know but who you know in Iceland.
b.r. neal
Dear B,
thank you so much for your letter. It is a pleasure to run. We need stories like yours to demonstrate how utterly out of touch some of the people running the system are.
Seriously. I wrote that without any hesitation. The stories that occasionally reach us at the Grapevine are enough to completely convince one that some of the people running the system are completely and utterly out of touch with both reality and humanity.
Oh, of course they have their stringent rules to rely on, to lay back on – where would the modern bureaucrat be without rules to guide his every action. We wouldn’t want our bureaucrats running around making decisions of their own, lord knows they’re probably not qualified to anyway. Also, it would make for a random and unreliable system. “There have to be rules.” 
Still, you’ve got to question the merits of a system that in every case fails to take the individual and his situation into consideration, unless, of course, he is in some way connected to a member of government. 

Hi, I dont know if it is too late but I just wanted to writte you a few words about your last issue 101.
I’m from Iceland and Ive been living in swsitzerland for my whole life. I always came to iceland on holiday during the summer or at Chrismas. And the thing I always read here was grapevine. Now with your last issue you put all the past covers and it was funny because I remembered every one when I was here and the great partys we had during that time . really cool
The thing I didnt like was in the article about aids. The writter or an intervenant talks about aids vs. diabetes . I really think we shouldnt make a “diesease ranking”. Personnally I think it depends on each personne and how every one reacts. because what is easier to talk about aids vs sclerose ? aids vs cancer ? diabetes vs … I think its a lack of respect against the single human beeing. I mean you can see a guy kill himself because of anything.
Ok its not really glamourous to talk about that but I wanted to give My opinion.
I appriciate your work . peace,
Edvald Thorsson
Dear Edvald,
Thank you for your letter. It is good to know you drew some enjoyment from our totally narcissistic and self-centred 101st issue. We certainly had our fun making it, being self-centred, narcissistic magazine-geeks.
As for your beef with Catharine Fulton’s HIV article, I think you’re actually misunderstanding what was said there. The individual quoted was merely trying to explain that the AIDS virus is, for some, still enshrouded in shame, even though there is nothing shameful at all about it. It’s a disease, same as any other disease. Diabetes included.
Diseases are generally bad; I think we all agree on that. Oh, I’m sure there are some cool diseases out there, if you look hard enough. Like HULK-disease, or Spiderman-disease or any of those diseases that turn folks into superheroes. Those seem pretty cool. In any case, I am not interested in participating in any debates that have to do with the hierarchy of disease. 

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