Random weirdness for the week of March 3, 2015


A giant cruise ship lowering lifeboats after striking an iceberg in icy waters in a special-effects-filled film targeted at Svalbard audiences that bears absolutely no resemblance to “Titanic.”

No, really, other than the boat and iceberg thing, “Arctic Mayday,” subtitled “A Future Scenario For Search and Rescue in the High North,” follows the fate of the Arctic Viking after it begins sinking in northeast Spitsbergen.


‘Titanic’ meets ‘Terminator’! A silver human-shaped figure capable of transmitting radar signals is spotted in the icy waters of Svalbard by a rescue helicopter in the film “Arctic Mayday.” Photo courtesy of

Unlike “Titanic,” the film by SARNOR (acronym for the latter part of the title, for those needing subtitles) envisions a sufficient number of rugged covered lifeboats that can be picked up by helicopter and dropped on land or an ice floe. All passengers would be fitted with signal-transmitting wristbands so swimmers could be detected by radar. A multitude of responding agencies would also be able to rapid-build medical facilities and other shelters.

But, like “Titanic,” the film also requires some suspension of belief. Winter cruises under the northern lights northeast Svalbard aren’t exactly a thing. Also, the English narration notes “the film describes an ideal operation so it could be implemented if all resources are at the right time.” But local rescuers – in only two helicopters – would be the first to arrive after 90 minutes (less than an hour before the Titanic sank in real life). Also, the film notes full-scale operations could rescue 150 people every 15 minutes – not ideal for those in the water…


Government bloat: If you’re a politician parking illegally, it’s best not to have one of the most unique vehicles in town. Photo by anonymous photographer.

Ooooo…a Longyearbyen politician got ensnared in a “wide stance” scandal this week, which means folks like us get to write biting headlines and commenters get to rage at length about whether the media or the politician is the villain (OK, how many of you raised your hand for both?). It seems our esteemed Mayor Christin Kristoffersen parked her black Mercedes in the traffic lane at the entrance to Svalbard Airport, causing snarls for other vehicles trying to get through for about half an hour, according to The Local Paper of Reciprocity. Like a certain “family values” politician who got caught intimately encroaching on a cop occupying the adjacent restroom stall, Kristoffersen’s hijinks were particularly ill-timed. The paper ran an article two weeks ago about how taxi drivers and others are furious at people – presumably tourists – parking in such a manner. Still, that didn’t keep a lot of commenters on the newspaper’s Facebook page from taking her side. “Does the local news have nothing better to do than hang out the mayor? Pull yourself together!” Others took the “public figure” and “newsworthy issue” side. Kristoffersen, who certainly would have no reason to mislead us, claims “everybody seems to be on my side” (yeah, she apologized as well, but that’s less fun to point out).