Friday Morning Open Thread: Monster Machine, Samsung SSD Edition

This is bloody awesome. I want one.

(Well, ok -- I want five.) Hat-tip to Devon in Acton for the heads-up.

So, what's your idea of a "monster machine"? And do you have it, or is it a pipe dream?

On an oddly related note1, this sucks. (Technically, as has been pointed out, it blows. Whatever.

Icelandic volcano 'set to erupt'

Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year's event.

[ for full article...]

...the only thing that would suck more is to be Bobby Jindal and to have his comment about "something called volcano monitoring" thrown back in his face...again.


See our prior piece for a related story on last year's Icelandic eruption.

Whatever else you may do today, keep in mind: this is an Open Thread.


1 Oddly related because it was a thread about the volcano that led to my digging out the video about the monster machine created with 24 SSD drives. Go figure. :)


Iceland Modern Media Initiative Passes in Parliament

The Iceland Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) has passed its first hurdle. On June 15, the Alþingi voted and passed just one vote shy of unanimous, a bill empowering the government to write new legislation that protects free speech - specifically shielding whistle blowers, journalists, human rights activists and publishers. The process is expected to take one year.

It's hoped Iceland will one day become a safe haven for journalism.

Blackmail in Iceland?

What incriminating information does Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson hold over members of Iceland's Parliament? That's the only explanation for a new piece of legislation passed by Iceland's Parliament, Allþingi, on June 7.

Margret Tryggvadottir, Thor Saari and Birgitta Jonsdottir, Members of Parliament for the Movement Party - a new political party that arose out of the pots and pans revolution that brought down the last government - issued a statement earlier today on Facebook damning the new bill, which essentially rewards one of the architects of the financial collapse in Iceland. Americans might question the wisdom of issuing a statement via Facebook, so it´s worth noting over 60% of Iceland´s citizens are members of the social network. Word will travel fast of this new travesty of political favoritism.

Moving on from pots and pans, next up, the garden club revolution.

Iceland releases Report on Financial Crisis

Only from the land of the Icelandic sagas could such a story unfold. Homer would be proud to claim this epic tale as his own. Alas, while Greece will have its day, this one belongs to the Vikings.

Yesterday morning, Iceland released its long awaited report on just what happened with its banks. It now turns out the banks’ assets were overstated by ISK 7,400 billion before the collapse (approx US $59 Billion dollars). Iceland's annual GDP is - give or take - roughly US $19 billion.

The report is widely believed to be opening the door for criminal prosecution - but current cynicism in Iceland believes the billionaires are going to get away, making the fishermen pay for the mess. Several sections of the actual report are in English including an English language summary:

Report of the Special Investigation Commission (SIC) - English Skýrsla rannsóknarnefndar Alþingis - Icelandic

Former Prime Minister (1991-2004) Davíð Oddsson, largely responsible for the privatisation of Iceland's banks and the abolishment of the National Economic Institute, fled the country just three days before the report was released. Icelanders don't think that was coincidence.

Economic Warfare? Europe versus Wall Street

Michael Collins

(March 10) Wall Streets is headed toward international pariah status thanks to two recent actions by the European Union (EU).

On Tuesday, the EU announced that it was banning Wall Street banks from the lucrative government bond business in Europe. They didn't express official concern or fire off a warning shot. They simply banned Wall Street from financing government bond deals like the one Goldman Sachs sold to Greece. The Guardian pointed out that Wall Street bond business from European governments has gone down over the last two years. Now the business is gone period. In effect, the EU has labeled Wall Streets business tactics as too dangerous for their governments to handle.

Then on Wednesday, the President of the European Commission said that the EU was considering a ban on government debt speculation through Credit Default Swaps (CDS) President José Manuel Barroso announced that, "the Commission will examine closely the relevance of banning purely speculative naked sales on Credit Default Swaps of sovereign debt." While not an outright ban, the threat of banning CDS on national debt would be a major loss for the world's financial speculators, particularly those in the United States and Great Britain.

First Iceland, then the World

The public is angry. Why should the public pay for the bankers mistakes. Iceland blogger Halldor Sigurdsson

Who cleans up the mess when ignorant, greedy bankers rack up massive debt then go broke? The people of Iceland made a strong statement Saturday. The sins of big bankers and government regulators shouldn't fall on the citizens. By a 93% to 2% margin, they voted down a proposal requiring them to cover bad debt incurred by one of the nation’s oldest and largest banks. Covering the debt would have cost Iceland's 317,000 citizens around $17,000 each.

Iceland's national referendum was the first opportunity for the people of any nation to vote directly on who pays when the financial elite fail.

As citizens voted, Iceland's Prime Minister was dismissing the importance of the vote and promising to negotiate a payment scheme obligating citizen subsidies for bad debt created by Iceland's beyond-bad bankers.

Icelanders are struggling with a collapsed economy. Businesses are failing at a startling rate, unemployment is soaring, and the prospects for the future are simply not there. Yet the British and Dutch governments demand that their swindled citizens receive compensation from beleaguered Icelanders. Where were the British and Dutch central banks and politicians while their citizens were being fleeced? Aren't the rulers of these countries aware that the failed Icelandic bank was owned by wealth investors, not the citizens?

The Canary in Iceland

Bumped and promoted. Originally posted this morning at 4 am EST (2010-01-22 04:28:19 -0500). -- GH

It's been a very busy year in Iceland. It's a bit like a soap opera at times.

Eva Joly was appointed as a special adviser to investigate the financial collapse in Iceland. The people of Iceland love her. The politicians in power, not so much it seems.

The Icelandic inquiry is examining whether market manipulation helped inflate the balance sheets of three banks, Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbanki, while, as the FT put it, “the clique who ran them doled out cheap credit to some of their biggest shareholders and favoured foreign clients”.

After three months in the job, Joly showed she was not shy about flexing her muscles. In an interview on Icelandic television last June, she raised concern about the potential conflict of interest represented by Iceland’s state prosecutor, Valtyr Sigurdsson, whose son was chief executive of Exista – the major shareholder in Kaupthing.

As a result, Ragna Árnadóttir, Iceland’s justice minister, began drafting a law to create another state prosecutor and Sigurdsson has declared that he would not participate in the banking investigation.

Joly also criticised a lack of political will in the government to bring to justice anyone who has committed economic crimes.

Parliament tried to push through a law committing Icelanders to an enormous debt at approximately $12,000 US per man, woman and child. President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson essentially vetoed the bill after 1/5 of the voting population signed a petition asking Grimsson not to sign.

I'm told this is only the second time in Iceland's history of independence that the President refused to sign a passed by Parliament.

The Iceland Meltdown - it's coming here

It's been a busy week in Iceland. Former Prime Minister and head of the Central Bank, Davið Oddson has finally stepped down. That may sound voluntary - but it wasn't. Parliament (Alþingi) had to pass a new law to remove him from power. He did not go quietly into the night but rather kicking and screaming. Somewhat literally.

Iceland - government falls

Promoted. Also added a link back to the previous diary on ePluribus Media. -- GH

Monday January 26 at approximately 3pm local Iceland time, Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde announced to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson that he was stepping down and the coalition government between Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (D) and Samfylkingin (S) has collapsed.

Tip of the iceberg - politics in Iceland

This is an attempt to provide some general background on the political parties in Iceland from the perspective of a liberal American so that more might better understand what is happening in the small country today. 


Iceland has a bitter history as a colony of Denmark having only recently established its independence in 1944. Independence from others is important to most Icelanders. Keep this in mind as current events continue to unfold. Iceland is about the size of Kansas with a population worldwide of around 350,000 Icelandic speaking people. The majority of Icelanders, close to 200,000, live in the immediate vicinity of the nation's capital, Reykjavik, on the West coast. Icelanders are well-read and have one of the highest literacy rates in the world. The country is modern with an infrastructure that in many ways surpasses that found in the United States. 70% of its GDP relies on the fishing industry. Just recently, rich oil fields were discovered in the far north eastern tip of its international waters. The country uses geothermal energy for most of its hot water and power. As an amusing side note, I'm told 60% of all Icelanders are members of Facebook. And if you don't yet know about it, poetry is a vital part of Icelandic life - it's almost as important as breathing.