In the month of madness: Catching up on the many ways Svalbard was weird during our ‘mysterious absence’


Editor’s note: Ever since we learned the world is ending this weekend we simply decided there was no point in publishing anymore – although, yeah, it’d be a hell of a final story. Or maybe it’s because we’ve gotten lost in an infinite cyberspace time warp. Or we’ve been in a depressed-and-wishing-we-were-in-a-drunken-stupor waiting to be dragged off to jail for stealing from everyone living here. OK, that last one is clearly too absurd to be true, but regardless of the reason we’ve gone a month without publishing a print edition of Icepeople and thus, due to a delusion we still have readers, feel a need to explain why. That appears on page two, where we normally print our normal weekly roundup of weirdness. But, while it doesn’t make up for our absence, this space is for our biggest-ever helping of Svalbard related random weirdness ever since no matter how bad things get we never stop paying attention to that.

So, beginning with the most immediate and theoretically important insanity…

The world is ending Sunday – and the Doomsday Vault designers knew it all along
Given that Planet X is triggering the end of the world on Sunday it might be a good idea to get in line outside the Doomsday Vault. After all, the designers built it specifically because they knew the alien was coming.

Granted, their math was a little off since the world was supposed to end on Sept. 23, according to David Meade, a Christian numerologist credited with enlightening everyone about the End Times. Meade said his prediction was based on Biblical verses and codes, but said a misinterpretation means Planet X will actually arrive Oct. 15 – and instead of a big bang we could be in for up to seven years of earthquakes, hurricanes, nuclear attacks and volcanic eruptions of Biblical proportions.

“He says Planet X is the real reason the Svalbard Global Seed Vault exists (to prepare for impact) and why the Hubble Telescope was built (to monitor the star’s approach),” the website Quartz reports. Also, many others from the Vatican to ““potentially every secretive government agency in the USA.” are in on the cover-up.

The U.S. space agency NASA, for example, posted an unprompted statement on its website declaring “The planet in question, Niburu, doesn’t exist, so there will be no collision.”


Doomsday means no more streaming music – sad!

Only one of these creatures will be left to sow the seeds of our future. So…how comfortable putting mankind’s future in a far leftie?

Insane as the link between Planet X and the Doomsday Vault might seem to those blind to The Truth, there actually are stranger suggestions about who the real victim in the end of humanity is. Such as the robots – assuming the humans know where to send them. And the fact those cyborgs won’t be a be to enjoy streaming music over the internet. Somehow all of this makes it into an article at which notes that while “no matter how monumentally cooked this lil’ blue Earth of ours grows each day, we can at least rest our heads at night knowing that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Sweden is preserving millions of seeds, so the robot alien things from AI can reforest our lands a few hundred years after humankind truly shits the bed.” OK, Norway has been confused with Sweden before, but what we’re wondering is why the bots would bother if all of humanity has been wiped out since, among other things, a Google search for “vegan robot” doesn’t produce promising results…


But a mobile phone and a credit card can be reclaimed 500,000 years from now
Should the world end with seven years of suffering (or a temper tantrum by Wiggy Trump or Little Rocket Man), it’s possible the soil will be less than ideal for sowing all those seeds in the Doomsday Vault. But those able to wait a bit might benefit from the contents of a time capsule buried Sept. 17 at Hornsund. The 60-centimeter-long stainless steel tube was buried five meters under the surface at the Polish research station, where it is expected to remain for up to 500,000 years until erosion or other natural factors expose it. Among the contents: a fragment from a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite; DNA samples from humans, rats, salmon and potatoes; various seeds; a radiation detector;  a mobile phone; a credit card; a photograph etched into porcelain of Earth taken from space, and 300 miniature tardigrades (“water bears”). “It’s a bit of a balancing act between jocular and serious science,” said Marek Lewandowski, a permafrost specialist with the Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Geophysics in Warsaw, who selected the objects for the time capsule.


Keeping the deception about dying alive
Speaking of exposure, yet another documentary has been released that manages to feed our misperception about Longyearbyen being the town where you can never die while also invoking phrasing that carries wisps of that TV series calamity known as “Fortitude.” The nine-minute video, titled “Nobody Dies in Longyearbyen,” by Los Angeles-based MEL Films is meant to investigate the “rumor” about death being illegal. “We went to the northernmost city in the world to find out why, and stumbled into the first act of a science fiction flick about something deadly, long buried in the permafrost,” the filmmakers write. We’ll give away half a spoiler by stating “it” is not absurd as those killer bees in “Fortitude,” but we’ll let you decide if it’s more deadly.


Frozen fashion shoot: ‘Why, then, here…To discomfort dozens for art?’


Hashing things out: Not that we’re suggesting anything by calling this the ultimate version of the super-chill fashion scene. Photo courtesy of Scotch & Soda.

Then there’s the filmmakers who, having accurately placed Svalbard in Norway and not Sweden, set came here to do a fashion photo shoot in Amsterdam. Or, as they helpfully explain, “there are at least 13 places in the world called Amsterdam” and one of them is the tiny island of Amsterdamøya in the northwest part of the archipelago. So a team of about 20 filmmakers, photographers, stylists and models took a 24-hour trip out there because “as inhospitable as it is out of the way, Amsterdamøya is, naturally, an obvious choice for a fashion shoot.” Among the other Amsterdams they’re doing shoots at include a South African town (where “they must locate the town chief to get his blessing and approval),  a remote village in Ohio, and a French island in the Indian Ocean. “But the most outlandish one, the trickiest to reach and, ultimately, survive on, must be Amsterdamøya.” There are, unsurprisingly, no lingerie shots in their “paid content” feature published by The Guardian, which describes the basics of the area and what it’s like to shoot among “wet moss, beached walruses and snow-capped mountain peaks” (it is the first commercial film shoot there, the filmmakers claim).


‘If money isn’t a problem’ these folks will intentionally get you lost in Svalbard


“Hey! I signed up for the desert tour. What the hell is this” Oh, you stupid and now-broke lost sucker….

No, it doesn’t involve getting dropped off at random GPS point with a tent and a rifle – although that sounds far more truly adventurous and far less truly Millennial than what’s actually being offered. A “luxury travel brand” is offering a new service called “Get Lost” which basically provides wilderness training and then sends you to some unknown point on the globe. “They will have no idea where they are traveling to,” a description of the service asserts (OK, truly pulling that off probably would cost an awful lot of money). “Sample destinations of trip locations Mongolia, Svalbard and Guyana to name a few. If money isn’t a problem, then this service will be sure to blow your mind.” Alas, we’re clearly lacking in both money and adventurous spirit because every time we tried to “Get Lost” by clicking that button at their website we merely get sent back to the top of the homepage. Hopefully we’ll get unlost out of that endless loop before somebody puts our picture on a milk carton.


The local flamer experts are so over the the villager people
Somebody who probably didn’t want to be found here is the guy who moved into an abandoned barracks building near Svalbard Airport toward the end of September, rigging it with “many creative solutions” to provide the usual comforts of home, according to the Local Paper of Riff-Raff.  The guy, who had permission to store bicycles in the building formerly used by the now-defunct motorsport club, also took the liberty of putting a fuel tank outside and a heating pipe to the interior where there was “a well-equipped office, a welding machine, a gas burner, a wind-direction gauge, a bed, plenty of food, exercise equipment and hiking equipment,” the newspaper reported. The mystery man arrived while the reporter was watching Fire Chief Jan Olav Sæter and others tut-tut the highly-flammable hut, and immediately got a scathing scolding. “You’ll have a week from today” to clean up and remove everything, Sæter said. “This is scary.” The fire chief said officials are also planning to investigate others he referred to as “villagers” living illegally in local buildings not intended as housing, many of which are in the boathouse area at Sjøområdet.


Meanwhile, whoa…what’s up with this cheap shack-up in Svalbard?


View from the bottom: Remember that prostitute in the original version of “Total Recall”? Of course not and we’re not saying it’s relevant, but…

We’ve always been shameless about publishing gratuitous nudity, but even we are a bit alarmed by who might be allured by these wet walls of flesh. They are, scientifically speaking, Svalbard’s version of a cheap lay. Or, as the science scribes at put it, “Marine snails know how to budget their housing costs.” Researchers studies a 16,000-square-kilometer sea area in Svalbard to determine why tropical water clams are bigger than their their cold-water cousins and concluded “it all comes down to housing cost…sea snails and other calcifying marine molluscs, are frugal investors in their cost of housing and use less than 10 percent of their energy for shell growth.” OK, sorry, we started thinking about other things in our heads while the scientists were droning on about biology. Like maybe what would happen if one of those clams happened to encounter…


Yeti monsters in Svalbard maintaining their really long hard-on in the mind of researchers
“Is the Mystery of the Abominable Snowman Finally Solved?” Insider tip: When a headline breathlessly asks a sensational question, we’ll bet all of our money against yours (OK, that’s almost certainly a criminally evil sucker bet) the “answer” and article will be useless in terms of any meaningful content when it comes to providing an answer. A Serious Scientist has insisted for the past few years that the DNA of polar bears in Svalbard and Yeti monsters wandering the mountains of Nepal are linked. That’s now being supplemented by others claiming the “100 percent accuracy a piece of ancient polar bear jawbone discovered in Svalbard” 40,000 and 120,000 years ago is linked with a brown bar species that provides proof of the interbreeding between the brown and polar bears. Scientists everywhere are no doubt glad these questions persist, since they’re firm believers in standing together when it comes to other crackpot theories like climate change…


Pay no attention (or money) to the very, very pretty death spiral
Which brings us to that multitude of once-in-a-millennium hurricanes that hit several times in the U.S. and other parts of the world (no, Puerto Rico isn’t one of the “others” despite the “let them eat paper towels” decree of Wiggy Trump). For those in the storm areas watching with alarm – and the disaster rubberneckers waiting to see if a particular storm would be the “biggliest thing ever” – many of those frightening maps showing huge colorful spirals approaching land were from data provided by the Svalbard Satellite Station using funding Trump is essentially seeking to eliminate along with anything else that refers to or collects data about climate change. And while it might be awful parts of the U.S., Europe or even India (which suffered the worst damage of all and got the least coverage) wil be denied advance knowledge about increasingly intense storms, we’ll always have complicit media types like us willing to bury such news amidst nonsense like the national anthem, doomsday theories and the Abdominal Snowman.


Murder, defection and avoiding the gulag in Pyramiden
Since we’ve had one UK novelist detailing men behaving very badly in Norway’s part of Svalbard earlier this year, it’s fair for another to tease us with tales about the Russians here. “The Reluctant Contact,” the second novel by Stephen Burke, casts as the protagonist Yuri, a miner in Pyramiden back in the glory days of 1977. Every press release and review repeats the phrase about how he follows “the old gulag-avoidance rules of trust no one, keep your head down and look after number one.” Except, of course, a murder of a friend and a romance with a mystery women take him outside his box (since those are obviously highly unique plot devices). Anyhow, the reviews are kind for the narration about the bizarre life of a miner in Pyramiden, even if the plot it self suffers from a lack of movement. The Irish Times, for example notes “there’s a charmingly gauche disconnect between the naivety of Yuri’s selfless actions and his perception of himself as an agent of Machiavellian subversion, an incongruity which invests this cold war potboiler with a pathos that renders Yuri a tragically deluded hero, but a hero worth rooting for nonetheless.” Assuming his lover’s “missing mystery person” isn’t a space alien or zombie, that puts it above the typical fiction paperback of the archipelago.