Saturday, April 28, 2007
So I'll skip the back story, explaining why one of the roomies was dressed up like a sexy blue smurf and why the other earns much mocking for wimping out and not wearing the bib overalls downtown and simply say that I went out in a kilt last night.
And yes, for the record, I went "full Scotsman".
That is half the fun of wearing a kilt after all. The slight naughtiness of it, the wind through your hair. Not to mention that we men look damned good kilted out. There's nothing girly about kilts!
What sucks is the fucking hypocrisy that kilt-wearing brings out in people.
For starters, as far as must Icelanders are concerned, Scots and only Scots can wear kilts. If anyone else kilts up, then they're crazy or gay or "trying to get attention" (which is what the guy wearing the neon-orange and green 80's track suit with the pink trainers, mullet, and big ol' Tom Sellec (?) mustache accused me off at Sirkus....black pot much?). Never mind that a guy can wear Levi's and cowboy boots and a duster even if he's not American, or a girl can sport a kimono or high-collared Chinese dress even if she looks like Hitler's wet dream. Kilts are apparently only for Scots.
Then there's the absolute hypocrisy of women who, if they were accosted on the streets by a drunk who flipped up their skirt and tried to fondle them, would attack said man,call the cops, and have him charged, but see nothing wrong with damn near ripping the kilt off of me on my way home from the bar. I mean WHAT THE FUCK!?
You want sexual harassment to be taken seriously? You want men to stop claiming that "she asked for it" because of what you wear? Then you have to follow the same damned rules.
In the teacher's lounge at the school I work at, they once gathered around the computer to watch a power-point thingy consisting of bag-pipe music and shots of kilt-induced wardrobe malfunctions. There's also a beefcake fire-fighter calender up on the wall, and a cartoon of a naked man being used to plow furrows in a field with his dick with the caption "Back when men were good for something".
I wouldn't mind this at all, really, if it wasn't for the fact that if I looked up some up-skirt shots on the communal computer or put up a poster of some half-naked chick draped over a car, I'd be accused of being sexually inappropriate or worse yet, they'd get on my case about klámveiðing or whatever its called.
Basically I think double standards, whether they favor men or women, suck ass and ought to be fought.
So leave my kilt alone. Seriously. Or I'll retaliate by ripping your top off and leaving you to walk home trying to hold it together so as not to expose yourself to the world.
"Do unto others" after all....
Thursday, April 26, 2007
So this summer the roomies of me will be getting hitched.
I'm happy for them.
My gay and lesbian friends won't be.
Oh, yeah, they can get "blessed", and have a formal civil union under Icelandic law.
But they can't get married.
Because a group of unelected religious twats have the power to decided, without public input, who can and can't get married.
Thanks to this decision, other churches, temples, what have you that are in favor of gay-marriage can't issue marriage licenses.
This pisses me off.
What pisses me off even more is the fact that anyone born in, or moving to Iceland is automatically registered as a member of the state church.
If you move to Iceland and you'r:
Hindu?- you're registered
Jewish?- you're registered
Muslim?- you're registered
Buddhist?- you're registered
Ásatrúar?- you're registered
Catholic?- you're registered
Atheist?- you're registered
Devout Follower of The Great Cthulu, Elder God of Madness, Devourer of Souls, Shatterer of Worlds, Howling Chaos from the Elder Deep?- yup, you're registered
And...just wait for it...
If you belong to any of these groups and have a child- they're registered
How ass-backwards is that?
Some guy from Turkey named Mohamed and they automatically register him as Lutherin?
On a personal note, every Cthulu-damned time I change my address, I have to go and change my registration back to civil so this archaic relic of an idiotic age doesn't get a cut of my money.
I'd like to see these other religious organizations start "marrying" gays, applying for official marriage licenses, and raising hell if they don't get it.
Not likely I know. Icelanders have never been big civil disobedience or protest.
Just ask the Falun Gong, the only group that didn't get automatically registered.
They got kicked out en mass for protesting.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Let's talk about killers dear blogadytes.
Not rank amateurs like that guy at Virginia Tech, or those two kids at Columbine.
Not even the pros, the sociopath sadistic killers like Bundy and Dahmer.
No my little blogadytes, let's talk about the really nasty motherfuckers.
They share a lot in common with the Bundys of this world. They're egotistical, care only about their own perverse needs and wants. They prefer to victimise the vulnerable: Single women (preferably poor), underclass children, minority youth, gays, the elderly, the poverty-stricken sick.
They like to make their victims' suffering last as long as they can. They feel no remorse, hell, most of the time they feel perfectly justified in what they do.
What separates them from the standard serial killer is two simple things. The first being that they rarely kill up front. They kill in the abstract, from a distance.
The second is scale.
They murder in the thousands, the tens of thousands.
They kill the poor and uneducated, cannon fodder for their endless wars. They starve multitudes with sanctions they pass and let others wither slowly away without health care and housing and food they deny. They kill by fostering hatred , justifying parents chucking their gay sons and daughters out to die a slow death on the streets, or at their own hands. The hatred they plant makes sons go off to shoot other sons they have never met, who never posed any threat, because they worship a different god, or have skin of a different color. They feed the masses into unsafe factories, poison them with pollutants, let them choke to death on their own vomit and blood from diseases they themselves can be treated for. Let them freeze on the streets or starve in the slums.
And unlike the guy at Virginia Tech and the kids at Columbine, they don't kill for the sake of rage and pain and madness.
Unlike Bundy and Dahmer and that lot, they don't kill for perverse sexual thrills and their pure predatory nature.
They kill for power and money, the two sides of the seed that birthed the root of all evil.
And they'll keep on killing. With depleted uranium and poverty and drafts and "correction centers" and rising seas and broken levees and sweltering summers and the terror that they breed like careful herdsmen. They'll kill until the planet rots, until there's nothing left but one big radioactive crematorium.
Unless we rise up and stop them, or put them down.
The way these same fucking hypocrites put down Bundy.
At least Cho Seung-Hui had the decency to shoot himself afterwards...
Monday, April 23, 2007
They keep me working right up to curfew. Not like I can do anything about it.
I know I'm replaceable, and I need this job.
But now its after curfew.
So I leave my uniform on to walk home. The cops are supposedly less likely to hassle you if you're comin home from work.
Not that they ever don't hassle us. Guilty 'til proven innocent, that's us. They can tell just by lookin. We stand out.
So I take the backways, through alleys and avoiding street lights, even though I know there are cameras on every other wall, watching.
But for once I'm lucky, I make it back without getting picked up. There's no way my family and I can afford another fine, another court date for curfew violations. I'm so tired I fall asleep in my uniform.
The blare of the one of my alarms wakes me, the other spits out a radio broadcast. Some fat old elites talking about the problems "my kind" are causing society, how they need tougher laws to control us, punish us. I take a quick shower, trying to wash the stink of work out of my short hair. It used to be longer, but the new regs say no hair past the ears. I make sure to shave too. Facial hair is just asking for trouble. Put on a clean uniform, grab my gear and I.D. card, and head out.
I try to be first in line, sometimes they won't fuck with you if your cleaned up and courteous. I get through the metal detectors and the bag search, but then that guard who has it in for me hauls me aside for another pat down. He does this cause he doesn't like me, I'm not "model" enough apparently.
Plus it gives him a kick that every time he frisks me it fuels the rumor mill, makes me look "gay". That way I get my ass kicked without him ever lifting a finger. It pays off for him right away. As soon as he let's me through, the "trustees" in their matching jackets round on me, callin me a queer and a fag. "Having fun with your boyfriend, faggot?" barks the biggest of them, hypocritical gold cross glinting under his collar. I see the punch coming, and try to duck, only succeed in protecting my face, but his next shot hits me in the gut. I know better than to fight back. I'll get the blame, he'll get a stern lecture and a pat on the back when no ones looking.
He walks off, laughing and high-fivin. I catch my breath and limp down the hall. I sit down just as the doors lock. Try to listen to the droning "education", but I gotta pee, the shot to my gut must of loosened up the bladder. I'd ask for a pass, but I know this guy won't give me one. He'll make me wait. If I had a trustee's jacket, he'd let me out no prob. But I'm never getting one of those jackets. Not big enough, not rich enough, no chance to kiss all the important asses, no one on the outside important enough to pull for me.
So I hold it, teeth swimming 'til its time to go out to the exercise yard. Line up. Synchronised jumping jacks, push ups, the usual uniform shit. Then they decide that today we're gonna play football. Some of the muckitymucks are watching, they'll enjoy it. So its me and the other runts against the trustees, except for the two they stick on our side for shits and giggles. The other team wipes the field with us, throwing in punches and kicks and clothes lines, all part of the game. Then the showers, the two trustees stuck on our side beat the shit out of a guy one fourth their combined size for dropping a pass and "making them loose", while the rest of them call us faggots and threaten to kill us if we look at them.
Lunch is a paper plate of slop, eaten with a spork cause anything else would be a weapon, while people throw food and shout insults at each other in the echoing space. Four more hours of "education" and then its sneak back, avoid the trustees, avoid the gangs, grab an hour's sleep wishing I had a lock on my door.
Back to work, try to get the boss to let me leave a bit earlier, so I don't have to risk curfew. She sneers at me and tells me that if people like me knew how to do our jobs right, we wouldn't have to take so long. I wade through the steam and heat of the shift, watching trustees with skinny girls on their arms bum around, rich and pampered and more free than I'll ever be through the windows I have to clean every day.
Dinner is 15 minutes of "food" that tastes like recycled waste, eaten outside, by the waste bins, can't let me be seen eating, but can't eat inside, the heat and the smell and the noise is too much. And then it hits me. Something in me breaks. I throw down my half eaten shit and walk away.
I know I'll catch hell, there's no getting around that. I'll have my ass chewed out, privileges denied, lock-down, who knows what.
I don't care.
I want to die.
The endless cycle of it all. The humiliations, the pain, the pointlessness. Knowing that there isn't an end. I'm at the bottom now, and as far as any I can figure, nothing I can do will make it better. Hell, the everyone says its only going to get worse the older I get. And so far, the older I've got, the worse it is.
So I go and break into an arms locker.
It's easy. They're all over the place, and no one thinks anyone like me would ever have the balls to do it.
I load everything I can find. I'm gonna go down fighting. Better on my feet than on my knees, right?
God damn High School sucks.
Now, please, save your outraged diatribes about me "glorifying school shootings" or whatever. I'm simply trying to point out a simple, but somehow unspeakable fact of American life. Youth, as a class, is horribly oppressed. There are curfews(where you AND your parents get fined, but you get locked up for a bit to boot), mandatory sentences (no juries for juvies either, no peers, just a judge, often elected on a "get tough on crime" platform). No freedom of speech, assembly, not to mention the constant petty humiliations (school uniforms, see-through bags, pat-downs and strip searches), police harassment, the hypocrisy of popularity and the free-pass grants to those rich and well connected enough to get it.
'Cause High school is the glory days, the best days of your life, right?
Is it any wonder some crack? Pumped full of mis-prescribe psychotropics? Surrounded by a culture that glorifies and rewards violence? Being constantly told by the media that this hell you live in is in fact your glory days? That High school and college students live lives of glamor and sex and nice cars and the occasional dramatic murder to up the ratings?
Is it any fucking wonder that some of them just crack?
So stop pulling your hair, wringing your hands, and asking the same old questions, placing the blame on the same old boogie-men. Public education as an institution, draconian juvenile law, and a culture of violence that denounces the young while idolizing youth have reduced adolescence to a mandatory prison sentence. Guilty until proven innocent. Sentence, 4 years re-education plus the occasional beating.
And prisons breed violence. Prisons breed cruelty. Prisons breed death.
Wake the fuck up.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
I've been having a bitch of a time trying to write lately...I 've just had so much going on internally and externally, I try to write it out and it goes all jumbly and strange.
Then I find this guy who sings everything I want to say. So I'll let him:
Peace Justice and Anarchy
If I had a Rocket Launcher
The Ballad of the Last 10,000 Years
Seriously, this guy rocks.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Funny how scattershot the informing of me has become.
I was sitting down to a hangover breakfast of eggs and bacon, and jokingly called it "breakfast of champions", only to log on and find out that Kurt Vonnegut, one of the greatest writers and all-around human beings to grace this good Earth passed away a few days ago.
The world just got a little less interesting, a little less bright, and a lot less deeply absurd.
If you haven't read his books, do so. If you don't like them, read them again. You'll learn to.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
It didn't start out so good.
Not that it started out badly. Go to Ingþór's new place, have dinner, drink beer, talk about how cool it would be if Nick Cave and Tom Waits were sent to a little apartment in Rotterdam and told to make an album together.
Walk to 11, chock-full of girls old enough to be breathe-taking and young enough to be illegal.
Why would anyone drink Jager and milk?
Hit Celtic for a taste of real beer. Get reminded of how old I am by seeing people who were 8 when I first set foot on the island that's become my life.
Get told racist jokes. By an Icelander, who like many of his countrymen can't understand just how viscerally hurtful some words can be.
At that point, I pub crawl.
Along the way I meet The Once and Future Crush. Who is involved with someone. Someone who, even if they weren't kissing The Once and Future Crush, I'd still not really like. Kinda swarmy. But I'm nice. Polite. All those things that don't get you laid.
But anywho, I get a chance to talk to The Once and Future Crush, turns out, the crush is mutual.
That moment, shyly holding hands and knowing that despite all the stupidity and complications, the simple fact is that we like each other.
But, life being life and hence complicated, I have to leave.
Walk in the warm spring rain down to the Lebanese restaurant. Order my food. Listen to a bunch of twenty somethings try to get over the fact that although the place is Arabic, they don't sell fucking Doner Kebab.
Ragnar joins me just as my food arrives and we share a plate watching that beautiful Jordanian girl who's always on the plasma when I go there. The girl who could give Salma a run for her money. The owner jokes that he puts her on just for me.
So I drag Ragnar with me to Qbar, past the ambulances and police lights that habitually appear outside of Solon. Every weekend. Like clockwork. The fights and the mania a sort of modernized blood sacrifice to the dour old gods of the Norse.
Or maybe the Fates. Three women spinning and gossiping and waiting to cut the cord.
Where was I?
Its three times as packed as last night, nothing but sweaty pulsing bodies and beer.
Any other night, I'd throw myself into it like a baptismal font.
But tonight, the bodies, the pulse, the pushing and bumping and sweat is an anticlimax.
My night was topped by a few minutes of clandestine hand-holding, looking into the face of someone I truly desire.
So I walked home, rain pouring off my newly shorn head.
What else could I do?
So I went over to Embles' last night, hung out with her and Klaus and Kari and the ever-so adorable Askur and ate really delicious pasta.
Thanks to Kari and Klaus, I also downed rather a lot of good liquor, especially some very fine Scotch, and being unwilling to waste a rather lovely buzz, I wandered down to Rosenberg, always a fine spot for good music, and wound up talking to a 50 year old woman named Sigrun who has a son my age in the States. Or rather, he was in the States up until last week, when he was deployed to Baghdad. Unlike a lot of American military mothers, she was not proud of him. We spent some time talking about the military, how its "so good at making soldiers but not as good at making men". She was terrified for her son, angry at him for joining the Army in the first place, and pissed as hell at a world that would put anyone in her situation.
Needless to say, after something that depressing (the old-school acoustic blues in the background made it almost cinematic depressing), I needed to lose my mind a bit.
So I went to what is officially my favorite club in Rvk: Qbar.
Long-term readers of my blog (is such a rare and curious creature does in fact exist) will remember me once describing Qbar as a snobby place for coked-up yuppies, but its been remade into a fun, cosy little "straight friendly" dance club, with decently priced drinks, nice staff, and generally danceable music.
Long story short, met a couple of co-workers, danced til 5am, went home, and woke up with much less hangover than I deserved.
The important thing is that I shaved off the 'hawk at Embles' last night, mainly just to make a change. It's weird, I'd gotten used to the 'hawk, but I kinda like the slightly less follicle enriched look of me. Feel free to comment on that, as I know a certain Sarcastic Princess is bound to.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
So I'm sitting at home, on the couch (for once, another seat, another throne was my prefered home over the last four days) chatting on MSN, trying to work up the energy to go see the Doc of DOOM (not having an assigned heimilislaekni I have to go to the on-call doc, who's a skinny little sports-medicine prick who never listens and never ever ever bothers to check you out before telling you to "drink more water, rest, and take painkillers") when I discover via the blessed Þórunn that the stomach evil is in fact a virus that's been going around, and not, as I had thought the result of inept cookery at TGIF's (although they still oughta PAY!).
Hearing of my plight, the brunette goddess of mercy and, well, hotness, comes over a bit later with a magical cure, or at least treatment, in the form of blue-berry soup.
Yup, instant blue-berry soup.
Who knew such a thing even existed?
Further more who knew it was both tasty, and masked the otherwise unappetizing flavor of AB-milk, a sort of almost-yogurt that helps with tummy tribulations.
Long story short, it works.
So I'm off to face a day of taking kiddies to the pool after 4 days of infirmity.
Thank you Fraulein Doktor Frankenstein....I think...
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
So apparently just one bite of undercooked TGIF chicken was enough.
Went over to Anna's cooked an excellent dinner.
Then proceeded to get rid of it, along with everything else in my body for the next 48 hours.
Laid on Anna's couch, watching Criminal Minds and shivering until I finally passed out in her guest room. Woke up the next day still sick as hell, watched TV and drank water until I worked up the energy to go home, at about 11 that night.
Think I freaked both the taxi-driver and my roomy right the hell out with the living-dead boy of me.
Missed work, laid around all day playing on the 'puter, but at least I managed to eat three bowls of rice, which have stayed in me. So I think its over.
Hence, more fun blogging to come.
For now, the idea of a nap is terribly tempting.
The punk's not bed...he just feels like it.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Took it easy today, slept in, read a bit, did some laundry, then walked across town to meet up with the UberGeek Anna for dinner and a movie.
Dinner wasn't so great. We missed "gay shift" (when all the cute young gay men are at work, and hence the service is great, the music sublime, and the food even tastes better) at TGIF, resulting in my being served raw chicken. In the classic Icelandic tradition of putting their own cultural stamp on foreign practices, this did not net me the waves of apologies and gift-certificates such a culinary fuck-up would call forth in the States. Instead I got a "Gúð!" from the busser, followed by copious eye-rolling and bitchiness from the wait-staff. This is to be expected. In a country where no one tips, there's no real reason to be polite, or provide good service. Its also just typical of the food industry here, which manages to remove the "fast" from fast food, for instance, leaving one to wait 40 mins for one's order at Burger King. This more than anything else has managed to wean me off of junk food. I just don't have the patience.
The movie was ok. Went to see Sunshine, which wasn't as utterly "riddick" as Annie judged it, but wasn't anything special either. Think of it as Solaris meets Event Horizon with a little Armageddon thrown in.
But chatting with the geek got me lusting for better films, so I trolled through imdb.com looking for trailers for such future fun as 28 Weeks Later and Day Watch. Now up until tonight, the flick I was most anticipating getting my filthy little eyes on has been the the Roth/Tarantino double feature Grind House.
That was before I found this.
Good bless the Kiwis!
Friday, April 6, 2007
I haven't drunk-blogged in awhile, so I suppose this was inevitable.
Stayed at home all day, as the Cutest Couple in the World abandoned me for the wilds of East Iceland. Lounged around in my pj's until I couldn't lounge no more, at which place I started pounding beers and cleaning up the place.
Got done with that, and stumbled over to the Recently Single Friend's house. Smelled like Jamaica was burning over there.
Fire on Babylon.
He's gotten into wacky science stuff from the net, so he showed me the acid etchings and over interesting uses for household chemicals he's discovered while we drank beer and did our usual witty conversation thing, the whole time the phone in my pocket beeping out hints at a majestic evening to come.
Which never did.
Met up with a few friends at the first bar I rambled into, after telling Magda the Polish Waitress about Sam's Polish Virgin Curse.
More on that later.
We drank a bit, then decided to go get some food and pull a pub crawl.
Went to Nonna. The taste, the smell, the lot brought back visceral memories of my exchange year, when we used to joke that Nonni put heroin in the sauce to keep us coming back. It tasted better back then somehow.
Maybe I'm just hooked on Lebanese food now.
Hauled Svanur the Snake-Starver and Heimir the Beautiful Viking to Cosy for shits and giggles, but it was practically empty and lame.
So I dragged thier straight-boy butts up to Qbarinn.
The Swan walked in, and had no problem. But Pretty-Boy Viking bailed like all the homos of hell were after him armed with bikini wax and roofies.
But I danced, dear blogadytes.
I danced like I haven't danced for a long time.
No thought, no emotion, no intention, no inhibition.
Felt like flying.
But even dancing the bachalia can tire a boy out. So can having a squad of Icelandic frat-boy wannabes invade the dance floor, trying to "fag it up".
They'd bounce around, then one would grap an other's ass and he's spin around ready to punch the shit out of someone, only to discover his friend had been grabbing.
Which made it all a joke.
So I left, decided to check out the single most politically incorrect bar in Iceland; Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Walked in, and was struck down by beauty.
Not sexy, not cute, not seductive.
"Terrible as the Dawn" beauty.
"All shall love me and despair" beauty.
I was in awe.
She was indescribable. New languages need to evolve to talk about this girl.
Not surprisingly I ran away.
"Terrible as the Dawn", remember?
"All shall love me and despair"?
Walking home, both lonely and horny and somehow happy, I witnessed a girl, maybe twenty, being rather forcibly helped by her friends into a car.
Drunk as hell.
Screaming at them for not letting her throw herself in the harbor like she wanted to.
I wanted to walk over to her and tell her. I wanted to say:
"I've been there, many times. By pills, by rooftops, by speeding cars. I've tried. But you know what? Its worth it. Life is. Its worth the sorrow and the pain and the loneliness and the angst. Because sometimes we get to be overwhelmed by beauty. Sometimes we get to be held by a lover. Sometimes we get to laugh with our friends. Life is. If you try to leave before intermission you miss all the good bits."
That's what I wanted to say.
But I just kept walking home...
My tax-rant got me thinking as I walked home from my glorious comrade Ivana's house. Got me thinking about how I'd change the system rather than abolish it.
This is a common temptation for Anarchists. The system is so entrenched, so all-pervasive in the minds of the general populace that you start thinking about leaving off the beating and starting with the joining.
I'm not bush enough to think my day-dreamy "reforms" would work. For starters, they're still so radical that most everyone would look at them as totally implausible. Hell, they'll piss of the majority of people who've gone and bought into the bootstrap myth of self-elevation.*
(*These people are usually in positions of entrenched power, not that they pulled themselves up by the boot straps mind, no no, they were born on a nice little mountain of money. But they believe in the myth even so...)
But even the implausibility of people taking up such a radical position (which is actually kinda moderate to my way of thinking) isn't what dooms it to failure.
Eventual failure is ensured by the fact that "reform" includes the continued existence of a State, and it is the natural progression of States to grow ever more authoritarian the longer they exist. The ways they choose to exercise that authority may change and vary, as well as the means of enforcement (these days its increasingly corporate powers that do the enforcing), but someone always comes along and perverts the original purpose to their own selfish ends, usually with the best of intentions. That's why I'm an Anarchist. That's why I oppose the State.
That being said, I'm still going to share my imaginary reforms. I feel like perverting the State to my own selfish interests.
Representational democracy rarely actually represents the will of the We the MotherFuckin' People. I mean, look at the bullshit the Minister of Industry just pulled, claiming that a binding resolution voted into effect directly by the people is neither binding nor legal, simply because it clearly contradicts the agenda the ruling party decided on without any input from the majority of the population. Look at the sneaky, slippery, and questionably legal tactics the parties employed to prevent a national referendum, and hence the public getting a say, on Media Law a few years ago. Look at just how many things get shoved through that Parliamentary pit of vipers that the vast majority of Icelanders oppose, like signing up for the "Coalition of the Willing", sending armed men to Afghanistan, not to mention The Weasle's latest proposal for an Icelandic Secret Service and Military (despite these things being blatantly unconstitutional as far as I can figure).
The last thing anyone in Parliament (and hence in one of the established political parties) wants is the people having any actual fucking say in anything without any meddling from the parties. I mean, people figure out they can govern themselves, and all the politicos are out of a job.
So for starters, let's get rid of the Parliament. A nation of less than 400,000 people has no real need for 60+ people who's soul job is to make new laws and tweak old ones. A nation doesn't really need that many laws to begin with. Not to mention that all laws ought to have an expiration date, because if they stay on the books, while new laws are piled on top of them year after year, you soon have a Byzantine maze of legal contradictions and outdated "crimes" that only a select few can decipher. This of course grants those select few an astounding level of power over those less knowledgeable, and the hierarchy just gets higher. Add to this the fact that Icelandic Parliamentarians are vastly over paid, and terribly prone to granting sweet-heart deals to the rich and powerful in the form of tax-breaks and privatization, and getting rid of Parliament would save the Icelandic taxpayers a wad.
So what do we do without a Parliament?
We give legislative power back to its source: We The Motherfuckin' People. We hold a bi-annual vote on laws or reforms put forward by citizens, so long as they meet a couple of standards i.e. they are not blatantly unconstitutional and gain enough signatures in petition form. And we make good and damned sure that WTMFP take part in the process by making voting day not just a holiday, but a fun holiday. Day off work. Rides and cotton candy. Concerts. All that good shit.
But that doesn't go far enough. See, even with legislative power devolved back to the people, if the State still exists, it needs someone to administer it.
That's where direct election of ministers comes in. Rather than having totally unqualified people appointed to run various aspects of the State based on the political whims of party leadership, we'd elect those that do the best job. What's more, we'd ban political party membership for anyone running for a ministerial post. You want that power, you have to give up you party's power. You have to administer, rather than rule. That way doctors and health workers would run the Ministry of Health, environmental scientists would run the Ministry of Environment, and a goddamn accountant would run the Ministry of Finance.
Implement some of my previously mentioned tax reforms, and we're well on our way.
But there's still a ton to do.
The Icelandic media and society are currently caught up in a storm of controversy over issues like drugs and the abuse thereof, homelessness/poverty, pediatric and adolescent mental health issues becoming almost epidemic, the repeated failures of the social and child-protective services, crime crime crime, and the current trend towards increased heavy industry.
Sadly, rather than looking at the one of the central causes of these inter-related problems, each is focused on as a separate issue. The answer to drug-crime is increased funding for police and harsher sentences for the "terrorists" that sell drugs. The answer to homelessness and poverty is to increase job opportunities and make sure that business is profitable so the wealth trickles down, all the kids with behaviour disorders will be saved by a bigger and better pediatric mental ward and increased numbers of counselors, who will also prevent further children and teens from falling through the cracks and into the hidden world of drug abuse, rape and prostitution that lies just beneath the civilized veneer of Icelandic life. Crime of course will be prevented with increased surveillance, more policemen, and harsher sentences in general along with more and bigger prisons. Despite the recent positive outcome in Hafnarfjörður, apparently heavy industry will be stopped by holding protest marches after the fucking dam has been built.
All of which is treating the symptoms and not the disease.
The disease is fucking Capitalism folks. Simple as that.
Now, don't get me wrong. Eliminating Capitalism will not bring about a Utopian. There will always be certain types of crime. Murder. Rape. Assault. All the "crimes of passion" will continue as long a people are passionate about stupid stuff. As long as there are differences between individuals there will be different standards of living. I'm not dumb enough to believe in perfection.
But a lot of of the negative trends in Icelandic society today can be traced back to certain fundamental changes in the society in the last two decades, namely the increasingly capitalist and laissez-faire trend in Icelandic politics.
As I've said before, Iceland used to be one of the most economically equitable societies in the world. The gap between the richest and the poorest was for the most part very very small. This is part of what makes stories about homelessness and poverty in Iceland so shocking to Icelanders. There isn't supposed to be poverty in Iceland. Not anymore. Not since the bad old days before WWII.
But there is, and as the gap between the have-a-lots and the have-nots grows, so will problems like those mentioned above. There will be more crime because people who are convinced that they should have all the stuff that their richer neighbors have will steal more often. If they don't resort to theft, they'll deal drugs to get rich quick. If the rich are a society's heroes, then people will do what ever they can to be just as "heroic" as they can.
What's more, in a society where the average Joe and Jane are working they're asses off 50+ hours a week to keep up with the Jonhannsons, while they're kids are raised by underfunded institutions up until they're old enough to "take care of themselves" and wander around their formative years without much of any meaningful contact with Mom and Dad, is it any wonder that kids are increasingly fat, depressed, ill-behaved, prone to drug and alcohol use, and petty crime? They're raised by TV and the Internet, with plenty of visits from Uncle Video Game. They feed themselves on junk, 'cause mommy and daddy don't have the energy to cook. They hang out in front of shops 'cause they have nowhere else to go that doesn't preach at them. They steal to feel cool, tough, hard, and all those other things the media, and especially their peers tell them they should be. They steal and fight and dope and drink to feel real, when life is basically the same old boring ennui. And the highest goal most of them can bring themselves to aspire to is to get a good job out of Uni and get "rich". Not help people. Not make the world a better place. Not follow a dream to travel, write, compose, sculpt. Not have a family and be happy. Nope.
And it'll keep getting worse.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the US. Take a long hard look. And then decide if you want Iceland to wind up like that.
Take a long hard look at countries with relatively small income gaps and those with income canyons. The smaller the gap, as a rule, the higher the standard of living, the lower the rates of crime, the fewer the homeless, the less the drug abuse...get the point?
So what can we do about it? We can do our damnedest to narrow the gap back down and prevent it from widening again.
State-Socialism would seem to solve this problem nicely, but it don't. At least not often. Usually it just leaves everyone feeling hungry.
So I propose something totally different.
The Maximum Wage Law.
Yup. That's right. We have no trouble deciding on a minimum wage (should be renamed the "insufficient wage") so why not a maximum wage? Why not say you can make this much and anything over that amount gets redistributed? I mean, the minimum wage is set so low that its pretty much impossible to live off, so being good capitalists we could set the maximum wage (actually income) pretty fucking high. Enough so that people who are greedy and workaholic can still have something to strive for. But over that, it 100% tax.
Sounds crazy right? But think about it, if we fight against poverty because its a social blight, why not fight against excessive wealth? Its a blight as well, a sort of parasitic infection that causes all kinds of unpleasant symptoms. I mean, if poverty is starvation, excessive wealth is obesity.
And nobody thinks its healthy to be fat these days.
So far we've got direct demockrazy, elected (hopefully) politically neutral administrators, and the Maximum Wage Law to combat the high end of the income gap.
What's needed now is something to allow people to spend more time being people and less time being bankers and teachers and bus drivers and shop assistants and labourers and Increased Income Facilitators.
To solve this problem, you need to ask yourself a very simple question. "Why do we have to work so much?"
The answer turns out to be pretty fucking complex.
There's the labor shortage of course. Iceland increasing finds itself importing workers to do the work its booming economy demands, even while misguided morons prattle on about immigrants "stealing" jobs.
There's also the fact that we are paid for our time, and not so much for our work. I mean, you work in an office, you've got to enter such and such an amount of accounts, collate a dozen or so files, and that's all you really need to do that day. You finish up in 4 hours. Does this mean you get to take the rest of the day off? Nope. You are paid to be there, no matter how productive you are. There has been some research that shows that while Icelanders work one of the longest average work-weeks in the West, they are also among the least productive. I mean, why bust your ass when it means you'll just wind up sitting there all day with a thumb up your bum or, what's worse. you'll have something even worse dumped on you to do.
Of course, the main cause is rooted in one of the classic contradictions of Capitalism. Capitalism demands that all companies grow, constantly, lest they die in the market red of tooth and claw. This ignores the fact that constant exponential growth on a finite planet is a logical impossibility, but I digress.
My point is, the very economic success that Icelanders continually trumpet is in many ways the root cause of many of their social problems. When its all about increase, growth, and competition, things like family, nature, friendships, and personal-betterment tend to get flushed down the shitter.
So what's my genius solution for this problem?
Simple. Decide, as a nation, that parents spending 50+ hours away from their kids is not a good thing. Realize the obscenity of having 6 year old children being "at work", i.e. school and after-school care for 9,5 hours a day! Decide that we'd all be a lot happier if we could have a bit more time to be people and be with our people and a little less time being whatever our jobs define us as.
Reduce the work-day to 6 hours with no reduction of wages.
Hell, let the wages reduce. The less money people have to spend, the less the merchant class can charge. It'll balance out eventually.
Of course, no reduction in wages would mean that your healthier, happier population would have more time to spend their money on more services and recreation. Which would drive the economy onward. Not to mention the reduction in taxes. I mean, a happier, more well-rested, less stressed populace uses up less medical care than an overworked, stressed to the brink populace. There'd be less crime to investigate, prosecute, and punish. Less need for State funded child-care. Fewer car accidents from tired commuters trying to rush through their days.
Sound too good to be true, right? But oddly enough, its perfectly practical. The State has already mandated what counts as 100% work. That means it can change it. It won't, cause its in the thrall of narrow-minded profit-uber-alles thinking, but it could.
Imagine dropping your kid off at school at 9, going to work at ten, and picking them up to go home at three, while making the same money you make now? How could that possibly be bad for anyone other than the folks making obscene money (making the equivalent of 500 of your fellow countrymen's wages, while being taxed less than them, while people suffer from lack of food, housing, decent geriatric care, etc, is so obscene I'm tempted to call it evil) of your back?
So that's it. My reforms for the lava-lump. They´ll be panned and ignored and never ever enacted, because too many people have a vested interest in the status quo, and even more people are both afraid of change and too guiltily defensive to admit to the problems that inspired this rant.
And before anyone starts accusing me of being "too negative" understand that I rant to try to get other people to think, and to act. My solutions may seem extreme and unlikely to you, but they come from a deep conviction that this island can and should be an even better place to live.
They come from my heartfelt belief that for one man to sit at a table groaning with food in his mansion while another sits in a dank and darkened basement and debates whether to eat his last slice of bread for breakfast or for dinner is pure, undeniable, evil.
I'm tired of seeing something I love slowly destroy itself out of greed and apathy.
Bring it on you little anonymous bitches, bring it on.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Considering that my previous post netted me the single greatest number of comments of anything I've ever blogged, and I'd like to thank you dear blogadytes for the intelligent and positive responses, I feel an overwhelming need to respond to several of the chicken-shit "anonymous" posters who felt the need to respond to my rant with xenophobia, nationalism and simple stupidity. Not because what they said hurt me , not because what they posted had any redeeming qualities, but because my next post is possibly going to make their empty little heads explode, so this is my way of saying bless.
The first of these walking arguments for eugenics responded to my tax-rant with a statement so cliché as to make my teeth itch:
Why dont you just leave the country if you dont like it here?? we will not miss you
Now, leaving out the fact that this is such a knee-jerk nationalist reaction it almost doesn't count as thought, let me respond to the question that requires two ?'s.
For the record: I don't like this county.
I fucking love it!
How's about them apples dumb shit??
You can love something and still not think its perfect. That's like saying "Well, mom's nice and beautiful and I get along great with her and she's really a remarkable person and all, but she smokes a lot and has a tendency to embarrass me when she drinks, so I guess I'll leave her and never speak to her again."
You can love something and still wish that it would stop destroying itself.
Then there's nameless wonder #2:
Unless you live in wonderland you can bitch about most of the same things... and if you happen to be from england than you're fucked when it comes to bureaucracy... So help me god you better not be english!
See, no one is ever going to live in "wonderland" if they can't even work up the balls to bitch. One of my biggest pet-peeves about Icelanders is the tendency to equate stoically taking shit because það er vont en það venst with maturity and all criticism with 'bitching'. There is a big fucking difference between righteous indignation and að væla.
Also, I would rant about shit like this in any fucking country on Earth. Stuff like this pisses me off, no matter where it is, and no matter how bad it is somewhere else. I mean, so the UK has more bureaucratic crap than Iceland, so what? That means I can't point out the short comings of the Icelandic system? That's like saying "Sure, I mean, our house might be falling down and have a ton of faulty wiring, but who cares, the neighbor's place is on fire!"
Also, "god" is apparently helping you out. I'm not "english". I'm American!
Yup, break out the Bud and pass me a bible and a shotgun, I'm off to cornhole me a hippy and invade some Ayrabs, hyuk!
The third in this parade of dunces continues along this vein with:
What the fuck. Why are you here ? You cant come from a good country if this isnt good enough for you.
I'm here because I love it here. I'm here because I loved it so much I left my home and family, traveled to the other side of the world, learned and constantly strive to improve my knowledge of an incredibly difficult language so I could communicate and work, mostly at the kind of crap jobs that we helvítis útlendingar wind up working because Icelanders can't be assed to take care of their own children or old people or clean up after themselves. I'm here because despite xenophobic pricks like you, despite the myriad little indignities and aggravations, Iceland is best place I've ever known.
But it could be so much more! There's not a lot I'm proud of about the US, but if there's one phrase I've always loved from our history its the bit about "in order to create a more perfect Union". Not perfect, 'cause that's never gonna happen, but also not "good enough". "More perfect", striving to improve things whenever possible.
Just 'cause the "homeland" has forgotten this principle doesn't mean I have to.
Now then, that´s out of the way.
If you thought the previous rant was, well, excessively outraged and thoroughly over the top, then just you wait my little Henry Higgines, just you wait...
Monday, April 2, 2007
I hate taxes.
Its not that I don´t believe in paying my share, its that when it comes to taxes, you have to be a total idiot to believe that you are paying only your share, and not the shares of the rich, the economically protected, and the politically connected.
Jimmy had the best quote of our incredibly drunken Friday get together.
"Bureaucracy is the leading cause of Anarchists".
So right you are Jimmy.
I mean. I barely make above the minimum wage. I work a crap job that sadly is also extremely necessary for the economy of this over-heated little island, but just the municipal income tax is going to screw me right out of 95,000 ISK. The city I work for. The city that barely pays its childcare workers a living wage. The city that somehow finds money to throw a dozen or so artsy little festivals that no-one but bored yuppies from the suburbs attends, complete with "famous" foreign artists performing and oodles of fancy decorations and print advertisements, but can't be assed to pay for maintenance in its parks over the winter, so that when the people barely getting by looking after the children of the city try to take the little tykes to a playground, its covered in graffiti, scorched from arson, full of nail-studded planks ripped from the fences, sprinkled in broken glass and liberally seasoned with used hash-pipes and still-sticky condoms. Not to mention that to save money they tore down the public restrooms and now we have to walk the little darlings across a busy street back to the school so they can pee sans frostbite.
And still I'm paying through the nose for "public services".
The bus system used to be a public service, before they made a corporation out of it and the prices more than doubled, the bus began to run less often, and the expensive traffic modifications and remodeled buildings they put up as transfer centers all over town just a few years ago stand unused or sold off to developers.
The public parks are ridiculously underused. This is partly due to the fact that the only upkeep they get is in the form of lazy spoiled teenagers put to work cleaning them up over the summer for a fraction of the the minimum wage. Its also underused because, quite frankly, the city's definition of "park" reads as follows :
"A large open grassy space mostly lacking in picnic tables, covered picnic areas, BBQ's, or public restrooms. While a park may contain a few of these things, it should mostly consist of open space and perhaps a dilapidated playground, because of course the point of a park is to be seen, possibly even walked through, but never used."
The public libraries do their damnedest to provide excellent service, but they've still been forced to start charging extra for borrowing DVD's, language CD-ROMs, and Internet access.
Many of the schools are overcrowded, have playgrounds as trashed as the public parks, and are woefully underfunded (not to mention their staffs are woefully underpaid) and many of the new schools (or new additions to the schools) are so expensively designed and utterly nonfunctional as to be outdated and insufficient before the improvements are even finished.
Meanwhile the city goes on paving sidewalks and such with lovely little patterned cobblestones, all bought from the same company of course, and guaranteed to need repair/replacement in about three years, as the frost heave shakes them loose and turns them into ankle-turning little landmines full of slush. Whether one looks at installation or at upkeep, it comes out as costing alot more than just laying some god damned concrete.
And off course the city funds alot of art, to go with its expensive festivals. Statues get moved around, new ones erected, various pretentious art-fags are hired to emboss witticisms into the manhole covers.
Millions are spent to paint over graffiti along major roads. No one much cares if people's houses or schools get tagged.
Then there's the city's little pet projects, like the proposed opera house down at the old harbor. A billion krona edifice to the pretensions and snobbery of the city's elite.
And I pay for it.
In fact, I don't just pay my share. Folks like me, wage-slaves, we pay a greater percentage of our income than the new super-rich. You know, those heroes of the new Iceland busy buying up Danish department stores, British food chains and the occasional football team, basking in the light of Elton John's multi-million dollar glow as the pat each other on the back for being so rich and cool.
Those fuckers make most of their money off of investments. 10% as opposed to 23.7% income tax, that. And cause they're busy building their fourth fucking mansion somewhere up in Akureyri, they get a nice big tax-write off on that.
All this waste and stupidity. All this unnecessary complication (why do some forms of "income" get taxed less than others, and some things that cannot logically be called income, say student loans or disability payments, are taxed the same as wages?). Why do I have to have a little paper card that I take from employer to employer, making it possible for me to pay slightly lower taxes at one job but much higher taxes on the other?
Why the fuck is no one in the government talking about simplifying this thing. I mean, with all the money that goes out from the State being taxed all over again to go back to the State, the State is actually loosing money in processing costs.
Here's the deal. I hate bureaucracy. It made me the Anarchist I am today. But even I can come up with a better tax system than that!
1: Define income. No more calling loans that have to be paid back "income", no more have the State tax itself taking money from people on benefits precisely because they can't make money!
2: The state stops eating itself. Government employees are exempt from income tax (even if their pay is adjusted downward). Get rid of waste and pork-barrel antics. The Parliamentarians will get one, just one god damned retirement fund, not one for each and every fucking time they play Minister musical chairs. Parliament members must join a union (just like everyone else who earns wages in Iceland) and they must negotiate with we-the-mother-fuckin-PEOPLE if they want a raise. Let'em strike. Best way to teach people we don't need them anyway. Stop throwing million krona parties for every half-assed quasi-dignitary that visits this lump of lava. Stop with the waste already. Just fucking stop!
3: Split the bloody difference. All real income whether it be from wages, investment, capital gains, profit, whatever is taxed at 17%. Right in the middle of the current rich-poor dichotomy. Furthermore, simplify the system to the bone. No more special-interest group deductions. No more tax-cards. Pay as your paid. No more of this "X percent for grain farmers, but Y percent for fishermen." Everyone pays their share. Period.
Fucking time for bed.