Random weirdness for the week of Dec. 1, 2015


Forget the polar bears – this seemingly meek creature (getting his well-deserved comeuppance from the hand of humanity) is Svalbard’s really deadly form of wildlife. Researchers are increasingly worried about a certain species of mouse increasingly prevelant in Svalbard that carries a parasite potentially fatal to humans. The Norwegian Polar Institute and the University of Tromsø are participating in a five-year joint study to better determine the spread of the parasite, which damages the livers of mice who ingest it. Although the parasite was first detected in 1999, researchers say mice are increasingly being found close to Longyearbyen – and residents were asking in a community Facebook chat where mousetraps can be purchased locally. The parasite, which has an incubation time of up to 20 years in humans, can be detected by a blood test…


It’s not gouging, it’s tough love: Eating huge quantities of ground-up intestines results in penalties that go beyond the merely financial. Photo by Per Ivar Velve.

We’ve noticed prices at the supermarket have gotten a little goofy during the past year (due in part to a merger with another chain, which of course resulted in lots of higher prices), but someone posting a photo showing a seasonal example of the weirdness set off this week’s heated social media debate among the locals. Per Ivar Velve noted “it pays NOT to buy the larger economy pack” of Christmas sausages since the per-kilo price is more than 10 percent higher. Wandering the isles exposes plenty of other examples. Hanne Bjerk, for example, notes bulk-size refills on a certain brand of detergent are more expensive than the smaller bottles. There’s also other oddities, such as virtually identical products from the same brand carrying radically different price tags (check out canned ham/spam section, for example). Not shockingly, the thread veers into the touchy subject of food prices in Svalbard in general, with Nils Anton Sverkmo noting a list of groceries that cost 490 kroner at Svalbardbutikken costs 287.10 kroner at a supermarket in Arendal. but while we’re stuck paying extra for some things due to costs like air freight, plenty of folks noted we don’t have a VAT and, hey, the booze here is definitely cheaper, so it’s still the season to be merry.