Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Quote of the Day: The Elves of Iceland

Stealing just a bit of Hilzoy's quote from Vanity Fair:
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."

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