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Proving that notoriety comes from outside. And that the Central Bank cares.

Today I had a fascinating conversation with someone at the Central Bank*.

It all started with a contact form submitted through this website last Thursday. It read, verbatim, in Nicelandic:

I urgently need to get in touch with you.
Could you e-mail me, or call.

[name]
[cellphone]

Being an obedient little soldier, I replied with an email that same day.

And received no response.

Mindful of the fact that the good man’s query was urgent, and fearing that my email could have become caught in the Central Bank’s spam filter [slotted into ‘subversives’, no doubt] I decided this morning that I should probably call the number provided.

[Ring ring]

CENTRAL BANK OFFICER: Hello?
YT: Good morning. My name is [Yours Truly] and I run the website The Iceland Weather Report. You sent me an email?
CBO: Oh. Yes. I wanted to find out who was behind that site.
YT: Ah. I see.
CBO: Your name is [Yours True]?
YT: No, it’s [Truly. Yours Truly].
CBO: Ah-hah.

[Awkward silence]

CBO: I thought I should find out who is behind the site. Since you’re being quoted in the foreign press.
YT: Oh! Which foreign press is that?
CBO: Affärsvärlden, for example.
YT: I’m sorry?
CBO: [drily] Affärsvärlden. According to them you’re the only reliable source of information coming out of Iceland.
YT: Oh! How delightful!

[Awkward silence]

YT: And … is that a German paper?
CBO: No, it’s Swedish.

[Awkward silence]

YT: So … was there anything else?
CBO: No.
YT: All right then, goodbye.

Right. Does it strike anybody else as slightly bizarre that the Central Bank should go out of its way to determine which blogger is behind some obscure blogsite?

And what do you make of the fact that the officer urgently – and rather cryptically – asks YT to get in touch, yet when she does, doesn’t even respond?

Could all of this possibly have something to do with the fact that, on the day the form was submitted, the name “Davíð Oddsson”** was plastered all over this blog’s sidebar?

And finally, do you think I should I be worried about the two men with dark glasses that have been sitting outside my house all afternoon in a black SUV?***

MAYBE I SHOULD THROW A SNOWBALL AT THEM
Because – hurrah! – we have lots of snow! I’m sad to say that I hardly went outside at all today [excepting the few steps to the car and back when I went to the gym to work out] although I would happily have done so – it was just SO beautiful! Fresh and crisp and [this morning at least] perfectly calm. And with all those coloured lights and everything – fantastic. Currently 2°C [36F], the sun came up at 11.04 and went down at 3.35 pm.

* Not Doddsson
** Central Bank governor, if you’ve just joined us.
*** kidding.

Comments

comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • qibhom December 8, 2008, 7:34 pm

    do you think I should I be worried about the two men with dark glasses that have been sitting outside my house all afternoon in a black SUV?

    Only if the men are Americans.

  • Kate December 8, 2008, 7:38 pm

    Blimey! You may need some backup 🙂

  • Abby December 8, 2008, 7:41 pm

    I would have assumed the urgent message was spam – I get email and text messages like that all the time – and deleted it. Are you sure it was legit?

  • Zoe December 8, 2008, 7:49 pm

    Huh, that’s… interesting.

    Looks like someone cares about their public image!

  • Jessica December 8, 2008, 8:12 pm

    Guð minn góður! That is creepy! Images from the film “Michael Clayton” are conjuring up in my head now. However, judging by the relative ineptitude of the current government, I wouldn’t worry about it ; ‘ )

  • mary December 8, 2008, 8:18 pm

    That’s very funny and exciting!

  • wally December 8, 2008, 8:38 pm

    Oh help us if they cant even snoop competently.

  • Grif December 8, 2008, 9:20 pm

    Given their professionalism trying to figure out who runs this site, I guess the worst thing you might encounter is getting a snow ball thrown at you … or maybe get your house TP’ed :p

    Anyway… sounds like a very strange phone call, but maybe you’ll get some more hits now 😀

  • MaggaLukka December 8, 2008, 9:25 pm

    HAHAHA! Þetta finnst mér geðveikt! Alda, you’ve become a celeb, congrats! But I agree, your blog is the only reliable source out there so thanks again.

  • Jon December 8, 2008, 9:27 pm

    Maybe they realize that the WORLD knows about their shenanigans and are a little embarrassed. As they should be. And they’ll probably try to brand YOU as a terrorist for helping to expose them in the larger public arena.

  • David December 8, 2008, 10:09 pm

    The Federal Reserve does this to bloggers all the time in the US. ***

    *** kidding

  • Marc December 8, 2008, 10:28 pm

    Some of the more hard-headed people have in recent years decided that the commercial newspapers, through downsizing and focusing on profitable article writing, do not offer the type of independent journalism they used to. Especially in small countries, where readership is evidently limited, they have resorted to copy-pasting international newsagencies telexes. So most of the news looks exactly the same in all newspapers. Those who are paid to offer opinions on the news also have to manage the department and get all sorts of other managerial stuff in order. So much for usefull commentary. And if there is an article with a deeper insight, odds on it is bought from another newspaper or an independent reporter.

    So blogs are starting to fill the gap. You sure are, even if that has never been your intention.

    On top of that governments have become more aware of how to deal with the media. They employ people who tell them which day is optimal to divulge bad news and how they can maximize the exposure of positive news. They reward government-friendly media with scoops and punish critical ones by refusing interviews etc. The game is not new, but it has become much more sofisticated in recent years.

    They will want to control bloggers too. But there are (as yet) no recipes out there.

  • Muriel Volestrangler December 8, 2008, 11:28 pm

    You rock, Alda! You’ve become an “Official State Enemy” — congratulations!
    I looked on the Affärsvärlden website — I didn’t see you mentioned but they did run a very long (and very good) expose article about the Icelandic business/bankers “mafia” on Dec. 8. That’s probably why the Government is upset. That article was very bad “public relations”, Iceland can forget about any support from the Swedish public after that.
    I hope you have seen the Godfather movies. If you see two men stopping their car in front of your house and carrying cannoli, run like hell — otherwise you will be swimming with the fishes, as they say.
    And while we are on the subject, here’s a list of Icelandic culprits, the “Gang of Thirty” (more or less), who ruined the country:

    [de-leeted]

    Hey, Icelandic Secret Service — come get me!

  • Sigga December 8, 2008, 11:35 pm

    That was precious Alda, love the ineptitude, I think even I could have googled you and not have had to be so obvious about it… Tomorrow will be a fun day for him at the office once everyone there has read your blogg. Did you get his name? If so, time to take out your sunglasses and you and EPI can walk casually past his place every once in a while….

  • alda December 8, 2008, 11:40 pm

    Sorry MV – gotta let that list go. The sad truth is that they probably wouldn’t come get you [not knowing your real name] but would come get me [knowing my real name]. As we discovered about a year ago when that Texan DA appeared here and proceeded to raise hell [anyone remember?] I could be incriminated for things that other people leave on my website. Plus I don’t like blatant name calling [being more partial to the subtle kind].

  • alda December 8, 2008, 11:42 pm

    Sigga – hell, my real name is at the bottom of this website. No googling required.

  • Andrew December 9, 2008, 3:27 am

    Speaks volumes for the efficiency of the Central Bank – your real name and photo is on the ABOUT page of this website!

    Someone must be getting nervous. I wonder who!?

  • Finnguy December 9, 2008, 6:28 am

    Ha ha, Central Bank officers surfing blogs in absence of real work…
    Now THAT is what I call crisis management 🙂

    Now, as a “only reliable source” in Iceland, maybe you should prepare yourself for a call from Moody’s and S&P too 🙂

  • Sirry December 9, 2008, 6:31 am

    Hahaha shows the efficiency and stupidity of the Central Bank people.
    I think this is creepy and weird and who ever placed the phonecall isn’t all that bright. Doerh!
    Yeah, contacting you to find out who you are…hmmm how about some research like read your blog.
    I wonder what grades this guy got while at Uni? I assume he graduated college and Uni having a decent job at the CB.
    Creeepy is all I can say.

    If you hear clicking sounds while you’re talking on your lanline…I’d say that’s the only time you should be a tad suspicious.
    I know for a fact that ‘that’ has been done by some government people. I used to work for them, the ones who did that…and I’ll say no more about that

  • PhilippeP December 9, 2008, 7:16 am

    You should maybe point the CB guy to the “Hire Me!” page 🙂

  • Ljósmynd DE December 9, 2008, 7:27 am

    Bizarre indeed, scrolling down to the bottom of the page would have helped. The person must have been traumatized somehow by the fact that there are foreigners out in the world who care about what’s going on in Iceland.

    Keep up beeing our reliable source.

  • Ægir December 9, 2008, 9:27 am

    You’ve got backup… right? As in, data on your page? They might be trying to figure out some details about you to hack you page 😉

    Have you gone through your google analytics to analyze if there’s an increasing traffic coming from the central bank? :þ

    You could all so fuck with them… display completely different page when traffic comes from that hell house.. or direct their traffic to, say, http://www.segduaftherskrattakollur.is

  • alda December 9, 2008, 10:45 am

    Ægir – yes, I have backup. 🙂
    And I like the URL you provided. Why hasn’t anyone registered that domain yet?

  • Muriel Volestrangler December 9, 2008, 11:03 am

    And the strange thing is that Alda’s “criticism” of the Government is actually very mild and polite in comparison to what a lot of other Icelanders have been making elsewhere. There’s several message boards (in Icelandic) full with post after post, page after page, of long rants complaining in detail about all the Albanian-style corruption and incompetence of the government and business figures and their cronies, and with every insult and bad word that exists in the Icelandic language.
    I guess the difference here is Alda writes in English and the whole world can read it. The message seems to be — don’t air your dirty laundry in public.
    As for the Gang of Thirty, well, if I can’t name names, how about a philosophy? It’s called “free market” conservatism. Iceland has combined a dysfunctional, pseudo-democracy with an unregulated free-market — a lethal cocktail. The “free market reforms” enacted over the past 10 years unleashed some initiative, but also a lot of very bad behavior, with no one to punish them. As Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “Free people are free to do bad things.” And that’s exactly what some Icelanders did, especially those at the top. They know who they are.

  • alda December 9, 2008, 11:19 am

    MV – Precisely. You make some good points. However, I believe that the fact that my criticism is “mild” adds to the credibility of this site. I don’t tend to get hysterical or OTT – I try to maintain a balance and report things as they are. That said, my opinions usually show (and occasionally my resentments). I certainly don’t write everything I’m thinking – partly because I don’t believe imposing my opinions on everything is necessarily appropriate, partly because I have manners, and partly because I believe that people deserve fairness and respect – even those who have fucked up. Besides, you can’t dish out blame on others, without getting a little on yourself. That’s just how it is.

  • Rachael December 9, 2008, 11:46 am

    I wonder how the guy at Central Bank found out about Affärsvärlden in the first place… do they just scour the foreign press to find out what’s being said about them? I would have thought they’d have more important things to do, but there y’go… 😉

  • Ljósmynd DE December 9, 2008, 12:35 pm

    “I wonder how the guy at Central Bank found out about Affärsvärlden in the first place”

    I would expect that the CB had been contacted by somebody from Affärsvärlden in connection with a search regarding the subject.

    Is there a link available to this mentioned expose article in Affärsvärlden?

  • PeterRRRRRR December 9, 2008, 12:35 pm

    Well, when Ian (Frazier, I assume?) of The New Yorker, probably the most well-regarded, beloved, best weekly magazine in the US, maybe the world (well, the English-speaking world, anyway) is seeking you out, what do you expect?

  • alda December 9, 2008, 12:47 pm

    Ljósmynd – To be honest, I’d never heard of Affärsvärlden before yesterday. I have no idea what sort of publication they are. I checked their website and did a cursory search of the blog’s name, but it turned up nothing. Perhaps I was quoted in a print edition, if they have one.

    PeterRRR – Despite the renown of the New Yorker (and its stellar reputation) Ian (no, not Frazier) was one of the nicest, most unassuming and pleasant journalists I’ve met so far (and I’ve been contacted by many these last few weeks). Which no doubt goes to show that manners and politeness can take you a long way. 🙂

  • Rachael December 9, 2008, 1:01 pm

    Apparently Affärsvärlden is a Swedish business magazine. I’d love to know what they said about your blog (besides its reliability). Shame I can’t read Swedish.

  • Andrew December 9, 2008, 1:09 pm

    What does segduaftherskrattakollur mean, if anything!?

  • James December 9, 2008, 1:17 pm

    Maybe the Central Bank wants to sponsor your site 😉

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson December 9, 2008, 1:21 pm

    segduaftherskrattakollur (Segðu af þér, skrattakollur) can be translated into English as “resignyousonofabitch” or words to that effect.
    You get no points for guessing who is being targeted here.

  • Kevin OConnor December 9, 2008, 2:10 pm

    Congratulations The Gulag awaits you ALda, lets see 10 going on 15 like OJ no make that a straight 30 years shoveling Aluminium dust !, Your country has gone from Maggie Thatcher Milton Friedman Land, Globalized markets,Free Movement of capital, privatise,privatise etc ectc to The Peoples Democratic Republic of ICeland, why do want €3000 comrade citzen you know trying to sneak out of paradise with a valuable currency is a hanging offence!!. I look forward to visiting iceland some day next year when I have enough pesos, meantime I donate £4 to your blog, I really wish they would sort this krona euro thing out as you have really high inflation and I dont know what its worth the European Central bank says 290=1€, things should have settled down by the time I get there though to the blue lagoon greetings from People Republic OF Ireland

  • Andrea December 9, 2008, 7:59 pm

    Maybe it has something to do with the headline “Meetings scheduled next Thursday between foreign creditors of Icelandic banks and bank officials.” Worried about extra pressure on their failing public image? That sounds very disturbing.

  • alda December 9, 2008, 9:43 pm

    Andrea – the contact email came long before that headline, so that’s not the reason.

  • Rozanne December 10, 2008, 2:35 am

    “And finally, do you think I should I be worried about the two men with dark glasses that have been sitting outside my house all afternoon in a black SUV?”

    I actually didn’t realize you were joking until I started reading the comments. D’oh! I was worried!!!!!!

  • nancy December 10, 2008, 2:43 am

    WOW! You are the WOMAN!

  • Andrew December 10, 2008, 3:38 am

    “segduaftherskrattakollur (Segðu af þér, skrattakollur) can be translated into English as “resignyousonofabitch” or words to that effect.
    You get no points for guessing who is being targeted here.”

    LOL!!

  • alda December 10, 2008, 10:27 am

    Rozanne – does that say something about our respective cultures, i.e. that over here that’s a pretty absurd notion? If so, then no SAB points! 🙂

  • Jessica December 10, 2008, 1:47 pm

    OK I can’t help wondering about one of the latest headlines (thanks Alda for those!) “Icelanders liable for some ISK 100 billion relating to Icesave accounts…” That translates to 870 million USD…and there are only @ 300,000 inhabitants of Iceland. I checked the Statistics Iceland site to see that in 2007 only 177,300 of the total population was actually employed. Now assume with foreign workers leaving and layoffs, that number is down to 150,000 today. So that means nearly $6,000 is getting added to everyone’s tax bills? Ouch! That is a heavy burden on so few people. That would make me want to protest every Saturday too!

  • hildigunnur December 10, 2008, 10:26 pm

    Rachael, there are Icelanders everywhere, loads of us in Sweden, somebody’s bound to read such things – and forward them to the press around here.