Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called "hidden people" -- or, to put it more plainly, elves -- in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free but, as he put it, "we couldn't as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people."Hilzoy adds: "Possibly the Icelandic banks should have made sure there were no hidden people lurking in their balance sheets, waiting to take revenge on anyone who disturbed them."
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Quote of the Day: The Elves of Iceland
Stealing just a bit of Hilzoy's quote from Vanity Fair: