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The Department of Kroverload

I had every intention of attending the open citizen’s meeting in Háskólabíó last night, the one where members of the new government appeared before us commoners, and where the keynote speakers talked about a] our colossal debts and b] how the people with the offshore cash should cover the colossal debts.

However, that was before AAH embarked on puking her guts out at hourly intervals, while screaming I’M DYYYIING!! at the top of her lungs. I figured she needed her mommy. And as if more proof were needed – she’s still alive!

Plus, and here comes a confession: I’m totally suffering from kreppa overload. Just like around 95% of the nation, by the looks of it. I detect a large-scale lethargy all of a sudden, a nationwide ennui. Protests have fizzled. Citizens are not flocking to those open meetings like they were. When it comes to protesting, the Icelandic nation is like an overweight smoker that has just run a marathon. WE GAVE IT OUR ALL for two weeks in January – and now we’re wiped out. Numb. Vegetating in front of the television watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Pass the Twinkies, please.

It’s not exemplary, I know. But let me tell you: all talk of offshore accounts in fricking Tortola, or Davíd Oddsson’s ego, or the fact that one – ONE – case is being investigated by the Chief of Police in relation to the bank collapse, or all these conflicting accounts of how much money we actually owe and how long the kreppa is going to last, or the bickering of the Independence Party over the bill to get Doddsson removed from the Central Bank, or changes to the constitution, or … or …

… Just makes me want to crawl into bed and pull the covers up around my ears.

I think it’s called kreppa burnout and no doubt they’ll have a special department set up at super-savvy Reykjavík University by the end of next week to carry out in-depth research.

In the meantime, I’m going to bed.

MILD TEMPS BRING STORMY WEATHER
It feels like spring out there, and it’s been super-windy. Today this was accompanied by driving, horizontal sheets of rain, which YT got caught up in because, well, I needed some relief from my cabin fever. 7°C [45F], sunrise this morning was at 9:16 am and sunset at 6:08 pm.

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  • mary February 17, 2009, 11:52 pm

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean!
    The Polly story was like a breath of fresh air.
    But I don’t for one minute think that that is the end of your amazing coverage of the kreppa or the end of Icelanders’ protests.
    I wish you all the best.

  • Gregg Thomas Batson February 18, 2009, 12:13 am

    Where do you get twinkies in Iceland?
    GTB

  • James February 18, 2009, 1:06 am

    I bet they don’t deep fry battered Twinkies in Iceland…

  • Bluegrass Mama February 18, 2009, 1:38 am

    Perhaps poor AAH was having an allergic reaction to kreppa.

  • Don in Seattle February 18, 2009, 3:40 am

    “When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
    When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
    When the funds are low and the debts are high
    And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
    When care is pressing you down a bit,
    Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
    Life is queer with its twists and turns,
    As every one of us sometimes learns,
    And many a failure turns about
    When he might have won had he stuck it out;
    Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
    You may succeed with another blow,
    Success is failure turned inside out–
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
    And you never can tell how close you are,
    It may be near when it seems so far;
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
    ~ Unknown

    And this too shall pass

  • wally February 18, 2009, 7:29 am

    And I thought it was just me….

  • Ljósmynd DE February 18, 2009, 8:10 am

    The overload of bad news is staggering also in countries, where this is not called kreppa. Sometimes, you just need a break.

    I hope, the awareness of the need of change remains unfazed in general.

    I have heard of some Icelanders, who have not intention to vote at all at the parliamentary elections, because they are so frustrated about everything. I think, this would be wrong, even if there are no new parties to choose from. If Iceland is going to end up with a similar government like the last failed one, I wouldn’t know, if this should be considered just as lethargy or rather as a variation of the Stockholm syndrome.

  • Kathryn February 18, 2009, 8:25 am

    Just all kreppa’d out by the sounds of things… It was lovely to see little
    Polly again though.

  • colin buchanan February 18, 2009, 9:55 am

    The crucial question remains: is the protest movement going to stand a candidate in the coming elections or are they just going to leave things to the politicians? Getting a voice inside parliament would be a great advantage in the inevitable battles ahead.

  • alda February 18, 2009, 10:13 am

    Thanks, everyone.

    mary – I suspect you’re right. There will probably be a kreppa post tomorrow.

    Greg – no idea. It was just a figure of speech.

    James – no, and no deep-fried Mars bars, either. Perhaps the reason why we have one of the longest age expectancies? 😉

    Cat – now there’s a thought!

    Don – lovely. Thank you. 🙂

    wally – yeah! me too!

    LDE – correct, I’ve heard a number of people say they’ll go to the voting booth but just hand in an empty ballot.

    Kathryn – I suspect Polly may have to figure in a few more posts, just as, like, an antidote.

    colin – there were so many people involved in the protests that certainly some of them will step forward. There is no organized movement, though, as far as I’m aware of.

  • hildigunnur February 18, 2009, 11:07 am

    I’ve always wanted to deep-fry a Mars bar – if only to taste what the ultimate bad-for-you food is like 😀

    Other than that, yes we’re all sick of this whole thing. We’ll be back, though…

  • Guðmundur February 18, 2009, 11:10 am

    I know the feeling. When the protests in january were over I just sat down in front of the TV and didn’t leave the house until I had finished the first season of Battlestar Galactica (which was totally worth it). I just needed to immerse myself in something totally different. But I think there’s more than just slumber and exhaustion going on. I think many people (me included) are thinking: “ok, what now?”. Looking around for some platform they can work on to better their country. I personally hate politics and political parties, so I’ve no interest at all to enter that silly world, and have not yet found my place, but I hope I will eventually.

    And colin, there are some groups plotting for the elections. The problem is that there is so little time to form a fully fledged political movement, so I think a lot of these groups are thinking whether to enter the parties that are there and try to work them from within or try to form a new venue. I guess in the next few weeks we will see some results.

  • Andrew February 18, 2009, 11:37 am

    I expect you’ll all have a rest for a few weeks, and when Spring comes you’ll all get going again. Winter’s not really the demonstrating season, is it!?

  • tj3 February 18, 2009, 11:51 am

    Voltaire in Candide suggested that we remember to tend our own gardens.

    So the weariness we all feel some time is nothing new to the modern age.

    The people who do not tend to life are fanatics and schemers. It is fanatics and schemers who have made such a mess of things.

    I think the most dangerous people of all are the mercenaries, who get rich by outlasting normal people. They can even out last the fanatical crazy folks. Their position is restful and profitable even when busy, busy, busy. Because they are emotionally uninvolved public life is a field of opportunities.

    I guess for the rest of us the trick to to find a balance, have some fun keep our spirits up and energized.

    In Florida the victory of a new government is going to turn common tiredness into permanent apathy… if winning proves not to matter.

    In my opinion we are in a fight with pirates, pirates in suits and nice neck ties. It is less about policy and particular characters than staying power. After all it was not Oddsson or anyone in Iceland who messed us up here in Florida. We could exchange our entire cast of characters and end up the same.

    Stay rested have a good day!

  • Rachael February 18, 2009, 12:12 pm

    I hope AAH is feeling better, and that your kreppa-induced ennui doesn’t last too long (although you do deserve a rest!).

    My local fish & chip shop has seasonal specialities like deep-fried Creme Eggs and deep-fried Christmas pudding… I’ve never tried then and I have no desire to, my arteries wouldn’t thank me for it!

  • Lissa February 18, 2009, 1:06 pm

    Perhaps Polly should form her own party?

  • Jessica February 18, 2009, 2:34 pm

    Maybe AAH was vomiting profusely because she heard the word “kreppa” too much…I know that word makes my stomach spasm a little!

  • Blank Xavier February 18, 2009, 9:32 pm

    > where the keynote speakers talked about a] our colossal debts and
    > b] how the people with the offshore cash should cover the colossal
    > debts.

    Those people are populists. There is as far as I know only rumour and innuendo about what might or might have been taken offshore – a meme which is without doubt inherently extremely popular in the current situation – but I can tell you with absolute certainty that there is no way there will ever be so much money taken away that it could make any kind of difference into the debts of the former banks.

    To proclaim this as a solution is to pander to the crowd in an attempt to obtain power. You are very ill served by such people at the best of times and this now is the worst of times.

  • Flygill February 19, 2009, 1:18 am

    What’s the worst that can happen for the average Icelander if the country completely implodes? Then you have to move to Norway and get a desk-job in the oil industry, or in a shop or something like that. So maybe you don’t get to work in the job you were trained for. In return, you get free high-quality health services, day-care, etc. and you get to become a citizen in a few years, with a nice pension when you retire. You can come back to Iceland for 6 weeks a year and on weekends too, if you want. Icelanders are incredibly lucky to have a safety-net like that, most unemployed foreigners would kill for the chance to live in Norway.
    I just saw a feature on tv about Haiti — now that’s true bankruptcy. Not much food, no services, huts for houses, and garbage everywhere.

  • alda February 19, 2009, 10:05 am

    Thanks, everyone!

    BX – populist: A supporter of the rights and power of the people. (from answers.com)
    So yes, I think you’re right. However these two people mentioned above don’t appear to have any aspirations to power (one is a psychiatrist, the other an economist), so I really don’t know where you’re coming from.

    Flygill – Norway as a safety net??? – where did that come from?

  • Blank Xavier February 19, 2009, 11:15 am

    Flygill wrote:
    > What’s the worst that can happen for the average Icelander if the
    > country completely implodes?

    People have to immediately pay back their mortgages and car loans. They cannot and are declared bankrupt. Everything they own is taken from them to pay off as much of their debt as possible. They lose their house, car, pensions, everything.

    > Then you have to move to Norway

    Who pays for the air ticket?

    > You can come back to Iceland for 6 weeks a year and on weekends
    > too, if you want.

    Where you can look at your house and the life you had and had planned and the school where you kids and their friends went and the places where your family were; you can go back and visit the shattered past. Would you want to?

    > Icelanders are incredibly lucky to have a safety-net like that, most
    > unemployed foreigners would kill for the chance to live in Norway.
    > I just saw a feature on tv about Haiti — now that’s true bankruptcy.
    > Not much food, no services, huts for houses, and garbage
    > everywhere.

    In Soviet Russia, it goes that when a phone in radio programme was held, discussing the West and how awful it is, someone would phone in and say “when do *we* get paid more? why is the school so awful? when will I get a car? I’ve been waiting for four years now” and there would be a pregnent pause; then one of the people on the show would say “they hang blacks over there, you know”.

  • Blank Xavier February 19, 2009, 11:20 am

    alda wrote:
    > BX – populist: A supporter of the rights and power of the people.
    > (from answers.com)

    That’s not what it means. Modern political useage is someone who *panders* to the masses, typically telling them they will have what they want, when either it can’t be done or if it is done, it will do harm – quite possibly a *lot* of harm – much more than the benefit gained thereby. A deciever and manipulator.

    > So yes, I think you’re right.

    I don’t understand how. The definition in answers.com goes against my description.

    > However these two people mentioned above don’t appear to have
    > any aspirations to power (one is a psychiatrist, the other an
    > economist), so I really don’t know where you’re coming from.

    Well, two things. Firstly, they are human. Do you not think that the roar of the crowd, the massive emotional impact of the agreement and support of the crowd, is something which influences almost all men, something they can come to seek? political power is not the only sort.

    Secondly, they’re plain out and out idiots, if they genuinely believe there is stolen money of an amount sufficient to resolve the debt problem. So are the people in the crowd who went along with it. Blind leading the blind – and you will get what you get, from that.

  • alda February 19, 2009, 12:19 pm

    It’s a good thing we have people like you to save us from ourselves.

  • jpeeps February 19, 2009, 12:38 pm

    I’ve just read of Jonas Moody’s plight over at IR-

    “Iceland’s Disposable Class”
    http://www.whatson.is/icelandreview/daily_life/?cat_id=16567&ew_0_a_id=320153

    It’s a bit of a shocker, frankly. Is this a result of that distinctly unprogressive immigration policy Iceland copied from Denmark a couple years ago? Is there anything to be done?

  • Vikingisson February 19, 2009, 1:22 pm

    The consensus seems to be that the stolen money sitting on off shore beaches isn’t enough to pay off the debt. But as a commoner saddled with the burden of paying for it I’d still want as much of that money back so my grandkids might have a chance to live a normal life. What about all those frozen assets and in particular the properties in places like High Street? Can’t that be leveraged no matter what the money trail is and shell game that was played? If they are going to force the regular folks to pay then why not the tycoons? Oh, wait, connections and corruption..

    I’m also kreppa’d out and I don’t live in Iceland so I can believe that the people need a break. Take your break but don’t give it up, come back with the final push back to sanity. The kreppa is having strange ripples all over the place and oddly it isn’t yet causing the beneficial side effects at least where I am. Those side effects being improved customer service, competitive pricing, and innovation. There is simply a shift in marketing tactics with no thought for what the future might bring and already happening. Mediocrity at its most obscene. I guess that’s why populism works so well.

  • Kevin OConnor February 19, 2009, 1:30 pm

    I think the next phase is to get together a citizens manifesto ie the things that I dont like about iceland right now…. everyone chucks their views in etc you seemed to have caused the govermento to collapse you have fresh elections in spring 2 out of 3 of the bank governors have gone ie by june 1 to go maybe you could just go ahead appoint a new one and just ignore the other guy if he wants to stay in the office fine he could look after the coffee percolator, there is probably a money angle there too, if he gets fired he gets breach of contract payout if he leaves he gets nadia nix zippo zilch.Then get down to the favorite subject where has all the money gone too,tot up the total debt see what Iceland has by way of assets abroad ie football teams,all mums go to iceland etc and well nationalise them,get the revenue for Iceland.Because if I understand it correctly the debt situation is well impossible an article in Der Spiegel stated that the average icelander ie wife ,husband 2.2 kids is looking at a total tab of $2 million, call me old fashioned but I fail to see how taxi drivers,waiters,chefs, retail assistants in upmarket shops could ever pay that lot off in a month of sundays,doing lots of overtime just wont cut it. If it where me lets think about this, say paying a mere 200,000 a year wow 10 years later problem solved.The problem is you have some rich guys went wrong in business and now they want joe public to cover the tab to keep various goverments and the IMF in the world sweet, and perhaps maybe keep a little for themselves so they dont suffer tooo much,suffering is for little people like taxes.

  • Elín February 19, 2009, 1:49 pm

    Let´s all take a moment and turn our thoughts to cream puffs and yellow pea soup with salt lamb. And isn´t ladies day just around the corner?

  • Dave Hambidge February 19, 2009, 2:45 pm

    I trust that AAH has recovered fully from her malaise, and that you and the whole of niceland soon recover from your!!

    dave

  • Bryan Bessette February 19, 2009, 6:44 pm

    I am still in shock over Jonas’ situation…

    http://www.whatson.is/icelandreview/daily_life/?cat_id=16567&ew_0_a_id=320153

    Thank you, Jpeeps for posting that. I have not read Iceland Review in a while. (It’s your fault Alda for having such an interesting Blog! The irony is that I found out about the Iceland Weather Report from Jonas.)

    I would be very saddened to know that Jonas had left without at least e-mailing him to thank him for his clever perspective he gave to every story IR and to let him know that my thoughts are with him.

    If you feel the same way his e-mail at IR is jonas@icelandreview.com

  • Bryan Bessette February 19, 2009, 7:33 pm

    BX, your definition of populist and populism is your own “modern usage” perspective/opinion.

    “Populist” is not synonymous with “manipulator” or “deceiver”.

    I would rather lean upon the actual meaning rather than a political perspective.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/populism

  • alda February 19, 2009, 9:03 pm

    jpeeps, Bryan – I agree completely. Jonas is a good friend and I’ve known about this for a few days. (In fact we spent yesterday evening together, bombing out completely at the Expat pub quiz!) I am especially appalled about the unemployment benefit thing.

    However, his departure from IR is not related to the residence permit. All the journalists were laid off up there when the kreppa hit and he’ll be leaving in a week’s time. The sad thing is that he needs to have a job to get his permit extended.

    It’s an incredibly frustrating and seemingly unfair situation.

  • Karen February 19, 2009, 9:16 pm

    Hmm…. what if he was self-employed with one of those webstores like you’re running?

  • alda February 19, 2009, 10:00 pm

    Karen – believe me, if that was his sole source of income he would only eat once a week, tops!

  • JoeInVegas February 19, 2009, 10:40 pm

    OH, sorry, it seemed as if you all were going somewhere (even with Oddson still in) and now it looks like it’s all still in the same place. Like Throught the Looking Glass, where you have to run and run to stay.

  • Karen* February 19, 2009, 11:23 pm

    Well sure, there’s the poverty thing, but if he could say he was self-employed, would they renew his work permit?

    That was my point… just to gain him some time to look for more.

  • alda February 19, 2009, 11:27 pm

    No – that’s the thing, he’s not allowed to be self-employed. He has to be able to prove that he can support himself, or have a job. 🙁

  • Blank Xavier February 20, 2009, 6:21 am

    jpeeps wrote:
    > I’ve just read of Jonas Moody’s plight over at IR-

    [snip]

    This whole situation is profoundly unfree.

    We have a group of individuals (who form an Icelandic company) and they wish to hire another individual. Let’s call them Party A and the hiree Party B.

    Another group of individuals, completely unrelated (let’s call them Party C), turn around and tell Party A that if they hire Party B, they’ll go to jail. They tell Party B to leave the country.

    What *possible* business is it of Party C what Party A and B do, as long as what A and B do voluntary and well-informed?

    And if you think it IS okay for Party C to intervene in this matter (“for the good of the Icelandic people, so that they get jobs”) then you are agreeing that Party C can arbitrarily intervene in private contracts on the basis of “the greater good” – whatever that is – and what you in fact will find is Party C, being human and selfish, intervening in private contracts *for the benefit of Party C*, who’s main interest is being re-elected and who’s interest in being re-elected is *actually* in practice something that goes against any sensible definition of the greater good (not that that is actually a reason to violate private contracts).

    The other problem of course with “the greater good” is that it can be used to justify a great deal of *suffering*, on the basis there is “more good than harm”. Here we see someone with an Icelandic financee being thrown out of the country. For the greater good – whatever that is.
    Moreover, consider the economics of this case. The Icelandic economy is in free-fall. An Icelandic company has a long term employee who is efficient and effective in their job – which is to say, *economically productive*. This company now is obliged by law to dismiss that employee and hire someone entirely new who must be Icelandic. In what way is this sensible or useful? it’s great for the person being hired. It’s bad for the company, it’s bad for everyone who uses the services of that company, it’s bad for the person who just got dismissed. And the reason for it? because Party C insists that Party A hires only Icelandic staff.

    So much for freedom.

  • Bryan Bessette February 20, 2009, 8:29 pm

    @Alda and Karen

    We should start a SAVE FERRIS campaign! 🙂

    I would happily wear a “Save Jonas” t-shirt or knit cap! lol