Saturday, March 14, 2015

Iceland Noir v. Mediterranean Noir

I just saw a headline in the “Watching” column of The New York Times online edition that immediately made me want to shout out to Yrsa—

According to BBC News, “The government of Iceland has announced it is no longer seeking European Union membership for the North Atlantic state.  Iceland gave no reason for dropping its bid to join the 28-member bloc.” 

I’d love to hear Yrsa’s take on that.  It’s probably a practical reason for, as its government points out, the nation already enjoys most full membership benefits through deals with the EU.  Besides, Iceland is a self-sufficient land of 325,000 hearty souls cruising along rather well after being especially hard hit by the fiscal disaster that ravaged so much of Europe over the last half-dozen plus years. 

Besides, that’s the sort of strong silent, government response you’d expect from the land of Iceland Noir.

On the other hand, we of the Mediterranean Noir persuasion just love pumping out one-liners aimed at authority figures of the sort of Grade-A trash talk that would make Dennis Rodman proud.  

For example, according to Greece’s Ekathimerini newspaper, when asked about his relationship with his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schaeuble, Greece’s Finance Minister said, “Mr Schaeuble had told me I have lost the trust of the German government.  I have told him that I never had it. I had the trust of the Greek people.”

Yeah, man, kick ass. Don’t let him intimidate you.  Who cares if he’s the most important and respected finance minister in Europe.  Make him bring his A-game.

I really don’t have to speculate on where all this is headed, because with the dollar soaring against the euro, and international papers such as The New York Times running several stories a week on the drama of it all, those who care to see the future can likely figure it out for themselves. For example, this is from a Thursday NY Times story:

[A]fter weeks of wrangling over how and whether to continue hewing to the dictates of its 240 billion-euro bailout program, Greece has clearly tried the patience of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers who have been holding the discussions so far….

And though the Greek government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been insisting that it will negotiate with the creditors only in Brussels, to avoid the continued stigma of inspectors periodically occupying Athens, Eurogroup members on Monday indicated that it was not feasible to get a clear picture of the Greek economy without emissaries visiting Greece’s capital.

“Some people will have to be on the ground in Athens,” Mr. Dijsselbloem [head of the Eurogroup] said. That visit would be in addition to the meeting with the Greek officials in Brussels on Wednesday, although Mr. Dijsselbloem did not say when it would take place.

The visitors would be given “full access” to Greek officials, Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, told a news conference after the meeting. But those visitors should not “enter the ministries” displaying “a kind of power play that smacked of a colonial attitude,” said Mr. Varoufakis. “That practice is finished.”

Although European officials had agreed in principle in late February to disburse an additional 7 billion euros, or about $7.6 billion, from Greece’s bailout program, they have indicated that no money will be released before a full assessment of the Greek economy is complete and overhauls are in place.

And they have said it would happen only if the new left-leaning Greek government could demonstrate it was serious about improving its tax-collecting efforts and making structural changes in the economy….

Late last week, Mr. Varoufakis submitted a set of proposed measures, including an unorthodox plan to enlist Greek citizens and tourists in an undercover program meant to identify tax evaders.

If that idea conveyed a sense of desperation, it might be for good reason. Greece risks running out of money before the end of this month, as tax receipts shrink and the economy shows signs of lapsing back into recession.

In other words, while bankruptcy looms, the battle rages on over whether or not to put aliases on the place cards at the negotiating table.

No wonder Iceland quietly said, “No thank you.”

We’ll see which approach prevails, but no matter the outcome of the battle of the noirs, one thing remains certain: Yrsa Rules!




  1. I want to hear more about Yrsa's Rules. Are there three of them? More? Less? Are they more or less strict than Jeff 's Rules. I definitely don't want to follow Jeff's Rules...

    1. #1: Always look on the bright side of life...
      #2: Never mix up the milk and meat dishes...
      #3: Keep your fermented hákari far away from your hrútspungar.

      Words to live by for us all.

    2. I didn't even know that I *HAVE* a hrútspungar! Is it terminal???

    3. Can't believe you bit, EvKa, so to speak.

    4. Tim wins best humorous novel at LCC!