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View Diary: How We Do It Over Here: Iceland vs. America (129 comments)

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  •  The first time I dreamed in Icelandic... (7+ / 0-)

    was in the US  :)

    I think a lot of people focus too much on the differences.  For example, people say, "Well, we don't have the geothermal heat".  Yeah, but you have tons of waste heat from your power plants, right about the same temperature that we get ours from underground.  Except you dump that heat into rivers (and cause all sorts of problems with fish life, especially during drought).  You treat it as a waste product.  We treate it as a product, period.

    In many ways, doing these things was much harder than Iceland.  We have no economies of scale here.  For example, writing a software system to handle the needs of 320 million people is, per capita, orders of magnitude cheaper than for 320,000 people.  It doesn't take a thousand times more people to create a system to handle a thousand times more users!

    Another thing that's much harder for us is that we have 1/10th the population density of the US.  Yet we still,for example, have one of the world's best broadband penetration rates.  Through our sparse and ridiculously rugged (and unstable) terrain.  That should say something.

    Iceland's population is tiny but it is not homogenous.  It was at one point, but it is not anymore.  We're actually slightly over the European average for immigrants and have the second highest rate among the nordics (only Sweden is higher).  We have some of the highest per-capita rates of immigrants from Poland, Lithuania, and the Philipines in the world, for example.

    I don't go out to eat a lot, but there's tons of international restaurants.  Iceland has a really outward-looking attitude, to the point where a large chunk of the bars and cafes are themed on other countries - you can go from Café Paris to Þýski Barinn (The German Bar) which is next to The Irish Pub, which is across from Café Amsterdam which is near English Pub, then catch a bite at American Style (which is a whole chain)... well, you get the picture.  Most people are surprised by the grocery stores here, too - people expect there to be not many options, but the selection is better than I'm used to from the US.  The only downside concerning food is that the non-greenhouse fruits and vegetables aren't as fresh.  But I mean, I've even ordered things online because I figured there would be no way to find them in a grocery store (like, for example, xylitol), only to then find it right there the next time I went shopping.  I used to say that "the only thing I can't find here is a good horseradish sauce".  But then just last night after posting this I found two  ;)  So now I've got to figure out something else I can't find.

    Now, for non-grocery stuff I've had more times where I've had trouble finding stuff, primarily in regards to plant supplies.  For example, it's almost impossible to find most pesticides.  And it took forever to find anywhere that sells perlite or vermiculite, and they cost a small fortune.  Gardening of certain things is popular here (for example, tons of houses have blueberry or currant bushes), but not exotics and not usually indoors.

    Hehe, if music is your issue, you should totally move to Iceland.  It's just utterly ridiculous how many bands of all genres there are in this country.  That a nordic subarctic island country of 320,000 (the population of Santa Ana, California) would have a quality blues band would be surprising.  But we have a whole annual blues fest.  And a metal fest, and a chillout fest, and on and on.  These sort of things are multi-day and have dozens of bands attend.  I have music from maybe 150 different awesome bands, have heard about as many more, and at the rate I keep finding new ones, there must be hundreds more still.  It just makes no sense, but that's Iceland!  The music culture here is mind blowing.

    To be fair though I don't think there's any dedicated blues clubs.  But that's not my scene so I've never looked.  I know there's a weekly jazz night at Faktorý (not my scene either)

    •  I celebrate differences (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan
      I think a lot of people focus too much on the differences.
      Your diary "How We Do It Over Here: Iceland vs. America" was about differences and I'm just continuing the conversation.  I enjoy differences and like to look at what social or environmental structures make things different.  The key difference in energy sources are that after production, electricity is cheaper in Iceland than most other parts of the world.  But in addition since most power plants are hydro or geothermal, prices are stable.  This is all a terrific strength and Icelanders should be proud of the planning they put into it.

      About population homogeneity.  There are a number of places in Chicago where I can drive down the street 1-2 miles and see organizations or businesses from a dozen different ethnic groups.  I'm not talking about a handful of northern European groups either.  I'm talking about places like the the various Assyrian organizations.  So, yes, to me Iceland is quite homogeneous.  And all I was saying is that when I was in Germany, I missed the cultural diversity of places like Chicago.

      My wife and I both work so we eat out 3 times per month.  The fish head curry, japanese miso soup or tom ka kai I get at my local Malaysian, Japanese and Thai restaurants are top quality and authentic asian (not americanized).  Plus I've got two outstanding Mexican restaurants so my enchiladas are only 2 blocks away.  ;-)

      Hehe, if music is your issue, you should totally move to Iceland.
      I've got enormous choices right here.  Locals of wide variety playing every kind of music every night but especially weekends.  And for the Chicago blues fest they had Mavis Staples among other top talents.  Attendance this year was half a million people.

      So yeah, cultural diversity is rich here and I have a very diverse taste in music including Asian, South Asian and African music.  I've heard everything from Bismillah Khan:

      http://www.youtube.com/...

      To Mavis Staples herself:

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 01:25:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Haha, touche... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, mythatsme

        though I was talking about geological/geographical differences as excuses.  :)

        There are a number of places in Chicago where I can drive down the street 1-2 miles and see organizations or businesses from a dozen different ethnic groups.
        And there are places I can drive to in Iceland where the predominant language people talk with each other is Polish.
        I'm not talking about a handful of northern European groups either.
        Filipinos are northern Europeans?
        .  I'm talking about places like the the various Assyrian organizations.
        And I've met Masai tribesmen who live here.  Plural.
        So, yes, to me Iceland is quite homogeneous.  
        You know, it's actually a bit insulting to have people who've never been here tell me how "homogenous" my country is.
        My wife and I both work so we eat out 3 times per month.  The fish head curry, japanese miso soup or tom ka kai I get at my local Malaysian, Japanese and Thai restaurants are top quality and authentic asian (not americanized).  Plus I've got two outstanding Mexican restaurants so my enchiladas are only 2 blocks away.  ;-)
        Oh wow, because we certainly don't have Thai here.  Nothing like Naree Thai, Thai Reykjavík, Take-Away Thai Grill, ENana thai thailenskur veitinga og matvörustaður, Thai-camp, Mai Thai, Thai matstofan, Ban Thai tælenskt veitingahús, Khiem Thien Nguyen Thai, Thai Ðinh Hoang, LNguyen Xuan Thai , Austurlenskur veitingastaður Nana-thai, Krua Thai, Perla Thoa Kim Phu Thai, and Sælkera veitingar og thai matvara, just from a quick search of a small chunk of Reykjavík.

        Want me to do the same for Malaysian and Japanese restaurants?

        No, I'm sorry, clearly Iceland is some homogonous Aryan country and only you live in a diverse place.  Even though you've never been to Iceland and I've been to Chicago more times than I could count.  You know, that's such a damned annoying American attitude that I'm so glad to get away from.

        I'm sorry, but I don't want to respond to any more of this, your post really bugged me.

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