Random weirdness for the week of Jan 16, 2018

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OK, we definitely don’t want the competition given our status as Svalbard’s resident street beggars, but since we’re journalists first and foremost we feel obliged to point out the riches this utterly boring and obsolete photo is worth to folks outside Svalbard who don’t know any better. Yup, it’s a drab and dull photo of that giant Santa’s mailbox that no longer exist (except in pieces in a storage container where it once stood), but digital copies are selling for 4,000 each at Getty Images, a publications, magazines and other media/PR venues. Check out the related images beneath and it’s clear anyone with a smartphone can take premium-priced images if they’re accepted as a contributor. Yup, we’ve sent in our stuff, so if nothing else we’ve got a brief headstart on folks who actually know how to use a camera…

Since the word of the week is “shithole” – as in, Wiggy Trump referring to countries other than ours with black/brown people, the most bonkers local news item of the week has to be a semi-virtual item about Australia issuing a travel warning to avoid Norway due to the danger of polar bears. Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to handle things in what passes as modern diplomacy (a.k.a. Twitter) by stating “Thank you Australia for your concern. We can assure you that in mainland Norway all polar bears are stuffed and poses only limited risk.” Australia eventually updated their advisory to state they were referring to Svalbard, but of course by then it’s too late to disturb an amusing narrative…

Meanwhile, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Surreal ’17 may be over, but the Doomsday Vault continues to be an endless sources of strangeness. This week it’s book three of the “Beyond Phobos” series that “completes the story of an agricultural scientist from Mars, who faces unprecedented challenges to feed a growing space colony. Fearing starvation, she takes things into her own hands and travels back to Earth to access the Svalbard Seed Vault on a remote Norwegian arctic archipelago. Her efforts to gain precious crop seeds unravel however after her ship crashes off course on a nearby glacier known as Spitsbergen. Caught in a dangerous tug-of war between a Russian Special-Ops team and Norwegian special forces, the plot thickens as Dr. Lirren Lamarr must learn to persevere in the face of danger, amid men, dogs, and drones who battle over a past and future locked in ice and snow.” The link features a long, non-Svalbard passage from the book. We’ll let it speak for itself in terms of whether the book’s worth a read…

Finally, this is at least as congratulatory as weird, but The Local Paper of World Records notes Erlend Bjøntegaard, 27, the son of a former Longyearbyen resident, will compete in the 20K cross-country ski race during the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February after drawing the “long straw.” A cursory check of other media didn’t convince us this was anything other than luck of the draw, but dad tells The Other Paper “(the other guy) is a great athlete, but he has not qualified for this championship.” Let’s just say it’s probably not good if he finishes behind that Shirtless Tongan Olympic Flag-Bearer

 

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