Random weirdness for the week of Nov. 28, 2017


OK, here’s our totally not made-up Star Wars secret reveal: The Last Jedi Are Headbangers.

At least we’re sure they’d opt to be after viewing this photo by Terje Nergård Nissen of people wearing headlamps watch the Northern Lights this week near Longyearbyen. The lights have been especially active early this fall, presenting numerous photography challenges and opportunities for photographers attempting to capture them. Obviously the F-stop is strong with this one…

It’s been a year since Wiggy Trump lost the U.S. election (but still became president because the only ballots that matter are from 538 people participating in a separate vote a few weeks later). And despite an avalanche of articles advising people wanting to escape Great-Again America how to move to Svalbard, we can report exactly zero people actually did so (any official statistics to the contrary are Fake News).

There are, of course, a handful of new U.S. residents who moved to here during the past year, but the “got the hell out of there to escape the madness” is not a statistic kept by the tax office. So we threw the question out of social media and got one relevant reply. Brianna Mills, a resident of the Seriously Red state of Montana, who moved here with her boyfriend Josh Wing. “Truth be told it was not for that reason,” she wrote. “We left for work, but I can’t deny it was a good feeling to be away from his disgusting politics.” Kelsey Camacho, who moved here in 2014 from the Seriously Blue state of Oregon (albeit with big areas swinging the other way), notes “I’m cool because I left the country *before* it was deemed necessary. But on a serious note I think a lot of people realized that being an American expat is actually quite complicated (when it’s not on a place like Svalbard), visas and bureaucracy, man. And it also seems like Americans have kind of rolled over with their bellies up when it comes to the political situation…”


Getting stoned: Don’t be fooled – this creature has a trippy ability to inflict serious harm. Photo by Darren Wombwell.

Still, recycling old clickbait articles is easier than coming up with new ones, so for MAGA’s one-year anniversary we’re again seeing articles such as Thrillist’s “9 Easy Countries For Americans Who Want to Move Abroad”. Skipping past the eyeroll since Svalbard is not a country, the article asserts “only a hardy handful” of Americans live in the archipelago (a description nobody has ever associated with our derranged tyrant boss). The article also gives a passing shoutout to this struggling bathroom reader by noting U.S. residents lured here “no doubt enjoy the local English-language cultural publication called Icepeople.” There’s a few other sketchy claims, such as declaring 90 percent of Svalbard’s 2,600 residents “huddle in Longyearbyen, a settlement on the icy island of Spitsbergen that’s home to an airport, a sushi restaurant and a brewery” (The figure is closer to 80 percent and one of those three attractions no longer exists). Also, it’s really to make living here “unless you’re a scientist, a miner, or fluent in Norwegian and Russian, (or) plan to make money online or live off savings.” Which is why, despite being the easiest location on the list to physically move it, it’s last on the list in preferance by a massive margin, since other places range from tens of thousands to millions of Not Real Americans…Finally, we have the second person in the past few months claiming to have driven to Svalbard as part of a marathon road trip. Darren Wombwell sent us an e-mail titled “Svalbard and North Cape in one week driving from Nottingham,” asking if we’d provide a link the blog of his epic quest. We’re caving in (tinyurl.com/y9yeyxc2) not because he managed to wheel on water (they took a plane from Tromsø, of course), but because of the epic photo above of their encounter with a polar bear. Or so the terrorized visitors thought. Just keep in mind before making fun of them it’s still out there somewhere in the dark (and we’re not telling you where).