Category Archives: Rants

OUR EDITOR GET EXPELLED: Here’s what the process is like when the governor forces somebody to leave Svalbard


(As Icepeople’s editor – and everything else – for the past 13 years, I have written numerous articles about the unique provision that anyone who cannot support themselves must leave Svalbard. On Wednesday I was forced to leave on orders from the governor. Because I figure that – like going to prison – it’s something many people are curious about, but few will experience, this is what it was like to go through “the process.”)

I heard a vehicle approaching sometime after 11 p.m. while laying in my bed of cushions and sleeping bags on the porch of Longyearbyen Camping. The sound of tires taking abuse on the poorly maintained dirt road was the same as the occasional other vehicles passing by to reach the scattering of cabins beyond. Like the others, as soon as the vehicle passed the building the sound faded quickly.

But seconds later the sound of tires coming to a halt came from the other side of the building, followed immediately by two doors of something heavy-duty slamming shut.

And I thought “this is it.”

ARTIST RESIDENCY IN EXILE: ‘News of the 14-day quarantine hit. I despaired’…now after surreal experience returning from U.S. ‘pure joy’ isolated with new canine friends on mainland


(Editor’s note: The following is an essay by Elizabeth Bourne, a Seattle artist who moved to Longyearbyen a year ago. She is now in quarantine on the Norwegian mainland until April 1 after returning to the U.S. to sell her home and possessions in anticipation of living in Svalbard for the foreseeable future. It is presented with minimal editing.) 

Home. To return home is one of nature’s strongest instincts. Monarch butterflies travel 3,000 miles to return home. King salmon swim 6,000 miles to find their home pond. Arctic terns fly an amazing 24,000 miles from their southern grounds back to Svalbard to nest. 

My home is also Svalbard. I was 4,000 miles and nine time zones away as news reached me of how bad coronavirus was in other countries – China, S. Korea, Iran, Italy. Seattle had one case, then suddenly it spread like fire through nursing homes in Seattle, then patients’ families spread it into the south Seattle community, and further. I worried how I would get home, if I could get home.

GUEST COLUMN: ‘Shutting down the world for two weeks is a good step…(but) please companies in town…maybe there are other possibilities than just to fire people’


(Editor’s note: The following is an essay posted by Sylvia Gross, a Longyearbyen tourism employee, on her Facebook page Saturday afternoon. It is being republished here with minor style edits with her permission.)

I would like to take you on a small thought experiment regarding tourism in Svalbard.

As there is not much we can do anyway, many of us lost their job already or are about to lose it, and many companies and things in town are closed anyway, we maybe have the time for this now.

RANT: Rumor persists the bear killed on New Year’s isn’t the one that visited in 2016. It’s utterly absurd, unless it’s the biggest and stupidest conspiracy by officials in modern times


First, to the naysayers: yes, the lip tattoo and ear marker on the bear are a match. Unless two different official agencies are telling an easily-discoverable lie for reasons beyond comprehension.

Unlike certain parts of the world where leaders are spouting non-stop “alternative facts,” claims of “fake news” and – in a new classic uttered just yesterday – “no one said this wasn’t photoshopped,” even nonconformists at this newspaper tend to trust public officials are truthful about facts regarding major incidents such as the highly controversial killing of a polar bear on New Year’s Day.

ELECTION LIVEBLOG: Results, reactions and rants about the 2019 Longyearbyen Community Council vote from Stationen


(BREAKING – “FINAL” MONDAY RESULTS: Labor (342 votes) and Liberal (333) parties finish in virtual tie, win five seats each; Conservative (184) and Progressive (126) parties each win two seats, Green Party (98) wins one seat. Makeup of next majority is murky. Official results to be released Tuesday. See details after jump)

Welcome to Stationen, where candidates and politicos are gathered for the results of the 2019 Longyearbyen Community Council vote. This liveblog began when the polls closed at 8 p.m. and will post happenings as they happen, so to speak, in reverse chronological order (in other words, those just wanting to skim the top of this for the latest numbers can do so without wading through the mad wordiage further down).

Emphasis: Tonight’s tally is likely to be preliminary, with full official results released tomorrow. But barring tight margins and unexpected alliances (both of which happened last time), tonight’s results should indicate who the leaders of Longyearbyen will be for the next four years.

Bang the box below for all of this evening’s updates…

Revue Review: New book highlights 24 years of satirical and sentimental Svalbard stage shows – and its primary creator


She entered the theater last and stood at the far right of the choir line, well out of range of the stage lights (and, as usual, was the last to leave that night long after the lights went out as she indulged in her lifelong addiction of tidying up).

But much as she sought to have others shine, there was no way Anne Lise Klungseth Sandvik was not going to be the focus of attention when it came to reliving some of the most laughable and illuminating moments she has brought to the stage of that historic building for the past quarter of a century.

Open letter to Bernice Notenboom: Why should you care your expedition is ‘fake news’? Because people are vomiting on it



You just completed a 200-kilometer ski trip to the North Pole that was difficult, dangerous, and full of scientific and personal discoveries. The comments section of one of the most-read articles about it features an animated GIF of a Muppet turbo-barfing.

Wasted on cracks: One year after hasty evacuation of Gamle Sykehuset evacuees’ hopes crumbing with the building


(Author’s note: I planned to write a “straight” news article about last year’s sudden and drastic evacuation of Gamle Sykehuset, but this week’s avalanche and my once again going through what I did in that building sort of screwed that up. These are my thoughts as one of the evacuees a year later supplemented with factual updates from Svalbardposten, which did exceptional coverage despite being swamped with the avalanche. You’ll have to buy a 30-kroner daypass to read it, but since I’m quoting it I obviously consider it worthy.)

A year after being hastily forced out of my home permanently for the first time, only one thing is certain: the living room of the flat I was in must be pretty drafty during storms these days.

Rant: You may want to go home – for maybe the last time ever. The Sequel (20 minutes in a freezing hell with little left to lose)


This time, almost exactly a year to the day later, there was no forewarning it might happen. Instead of two hours, I had 20 minutes. There was no calvary bringing vehicles – indeed, there were no cars at all because I had no idea where mine was.

And it wasn’t a pivotal moment on a worldwide reality TV show – or even covered by the local media. Good thing, because as the picture indicates, I look a whole lot worse for wear this year.

Rant: Yes, they’re really doing season two of that BBC docu-soap; that’s (gasp) a good thing


I have come not to praise, but to bury the show on many occasions during the past year. But since it’s clearly Not Dead Yet (sorry, I just discovered the existence of a Lego remake of “Monthy Python And The Quest For The Holy Grail”), I Assur (capital of Assyria, may Sir Robin rest in peace) you I will embrace the spawning of a second season with a shimmering soul.