Vanity Fair on Iceland

I became aware of Iceland’s bankruptcy through a curious route. A local geek mailing list had a posting from a friend of one of the guys on the list. She was Icelandic, and she was really in distress — able to understand how serious the situation was, unable to understand it at the same time, scared for the future, and reaching out to a friend. It was really touching. I replied to the guy that it was a shame I couldn’t access any of the Icelandic news as an English speaker, and that perhaps his friend would like to start a blog translating it, so that I could understand her country’s situation better. I offered to donate some money for the service.

It took off. NewsFrettir has consistent readership, and has been helpful to the girl, if not from by making a dramatic amount of money, at least as an emotional outlet and support. It always helps to know someone’s listening, that someone cares what’s happening to you.

I come back from time to time and check it out, to see how it’s going for the girl I “met” anonymously last October. She’s strong. She’s weak. She’s above all, human. She’s struggling, but what makes her struggle all the more is her empathy for those struggling around her. I think about her and hope for the best. I donate some more money from time to time, but it’s not so easy for me either — I’m on a student’s budget as well, because I’m living alongside my student girlfriend in a country where I don’t have the right to work. (I’m not complaining, this is exactly what I want from life, and what I chose. But I’m unemployed, and I have the budget to match.)

Now, there’s another piece of the puzzle. Vanity Fair has published an article on Iceland. It gives me another view, and while it doesn’t change what I’ve already learned about one woman there, and how she feels about the changes in her community, it also shows me some other sides to the story.

And on a relatively unrelated aside…

One really great quote from the story is:

You can tell a lot about a country by how much better they treat themselves than foreigners at the point of entry. Let it be known that Icelanders make no distinction at all. Over the control booth they’ve hung a charming sign that reads simply, all citizens, and what they mean by that is not “All Icelandic Citizens” but “All Citizens of Anywhere.”

This observation is so, so, so true. The borders of the USA and the UK always make me scared, depressed, and annoyed. And I’m a middle-class white guy, with the right passport. I have the right to pass these borders and they still make me cringe. Imagine how other, more desperate, people feel?

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