Random weirdness for the week of April 9, 2019

nudeicefish

Tip for the many North Pole hopefuls stuck in Longyearbyen: Don’t try to reach the Barneo ice camp like the guy above. Still, since the madness of our stranded caravan community of Pole pursers reportedly involves everything from a marathon bar brawl to blaming Wiggy Trump for the trouble (because of course he always is), it’s probably not the worst sock to the balls suffered this week.

While this bull rider of the Arctic is unnamed (OK, we’re sure he has a name, but y’know), the credit for this shot making a few circles on local social media goes to photography pro Tommy Simonsen who’s been shooting stuff here for the past 20 years (along with other parts of northern Norway). His most recent voyage was co-hosting a cruise last fall aboard a Norwegian weather ship retrofitted with lot of lux guest stuff including “most important my friends,” a hot tub on the rear deck. Which is the sort of thing that might make this polar dip feeling ballsier in the end than otherwise expected…

OK, now that we’ve gotten that absurd word salad out of the way for the sake of headlining yet another nude photo in this space, let’s move on to the rather large crowd who don’t need no stinkin’ jacuzzi to be steaming right now. With scores of North Pole hopefuls stranded in Svalbard because of the bonkers bollocks at Barneo for a couple of weeks (with no assurance they’ll get to the ice camp this season), it’s understandable the general advice/attitude of being flexible and patient isn’t quite achieving 100 percent compliance. Amidst the grumblings and rumors of grumblings was a row that came to blows in a bar over between North Pole Marathon participants having a stay-or-go debate and a rather experience expedition leader musing on social media guide musing “tongue-in-cheek” on social media whether attempts to resolve the mess – which, to greatly simplify, has to do with the years-long Russian/Ukrainian conflict –  “would be thwarted not by Putin but rather Trump this time.” Why? Well, because Russia doesn’t want a Ukrainian plane at Barneo (thus it has departed and left officials scrambling for a replacement), so maybe the MAGA moguls won’t want an Iranian plane under consideration there. Somehow, we get the sense that when/if we get around to doing a winners/losers article about this message the locals who sell alcohol will be scoring decisively on one end of that scale (sorry, no sneak preview even though surely the suspense must be overwhelming)…

Speaking of foreign “invaders” (especially if you’re of a Trumpian/Brexiteer mindset), the ratio of outsiders to Norwegians continues its long upward trend in Svalbard as they now account for 35 percent of the population in the Norwegian settlements of Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund (up from 32 percent during the most recent survey as of July 1, 2018, and 14 percent in 2009), according to Statistics Norway. The total population this year dropped to 2,258 compared to the record high of 2,310 last July  a bit from its record high last year, 799 of whom are foreign citizens. Two interesting tidbits in the latest numbers: it’s long been said Thais are the largest group of non-Norwegian residents and they remain so with 131 at last count, but Sweden is on the edge of overtaking them with 128 . Also, the statistics folks note that if you add the 458 residents of the Russian settlement of Barentsburg and the 10 at the Hornsund Polish research station the percentage of foreigners in Svalbard totals 43 percent. Add in the likely 100 or more “Poleish” refugees and it might be argued at the moment we’re a “minority majority” territory…

rocketufo

We, for one, welcome our new alien overlords: Um, OK, “we” isn’t a singular reference, but presumably everyone reading this is so petrified by government reassurances these are merely harmless cases of gas to notice. Photo courtesy of NASA.

And since we’re the experts when it comes to aliens in Svalbard, we’ll end this week’s politically and pictorially incorrect rant by reassuring everyone that the “extraterrestrials” seemingly spotted in the skies last Friday weren’t from a UFO, at least according to the “official” word from observers at NASA (and there’s definitely no chance the fine folks working for a guy who says windmill noise causes cancer would fib). On that evening “clusters of purple, blue and yellow lights appeared in the country’s night sky; as the ghostly shapes hovered, their eerie glow and unusual formation invited speculation about visiting alien spacecraft,” according to obedient media mouthpiece Live Science. Instead, it was NASA launching a new rocket system from to study the flow of winds in Earth’s upper atmosphere, the first of eight being launched from bases in Andøya and Svalbard, and the glow is a spectacular gas of gas (as in chemical tracers that ionize in sunlight). Of course, with nights now basically nixed here since there’s 24 hours of usable daylight (and the polar summer begins April 19), those space age spooks – whether from Earth or elsewhere – will likely be able to complete the rest of their mission unobserved by us serfs. Although maybe if some of the would-be Barneo-bound know enough to Don’t Panic they can hitch a lift…

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