föstudagur, júní 23, 2006

þingmaðurinn

I just got back from Smáralind, Kópavogur's answer to Kerlinglan, which in turn is Iceland's answer to the Cambridgeside Galleria. So, it's a mall. In fact it's Iceland's largest mall of a total of 2.5, and it's right down the hill from where I work. Since it's basically all there is for places to go in this sprawly lost district of Kópavogur, it's where I went for lunch. It's my suburban teen-mall-rat past come back to haunt me, I suppose.

I was meeting up with one of Iceland's 63 MPs (Members of Parliament), a gentleman about my age who I met at a party a month back. Iceland has the world's oldest representative assembly, called the Alþing, which basically translates to the General or High Assembly. The Alþing has been around since the year 930, which is basically well before you were born. So they knows them some representative democracy.

I didn't understand just how representative that democracy was until today. We met up in the cafeteria line at Café Adesso, shook hands, exchanged the Standard Icelandic Greeting, and then sat down and spoke over salad and coffee. I showed up with a whole list of ideas for improving the immigration process, and he listened and tossed in ideas of his own. Then the conversation really got going and ranged over Iceland's high tech industry, aluminum smelters, American politics, the Icelandic securities industry, trade policy, and agriculture. When he got up to go to his next meeting, I realized we had been speaking for over an hour. All this for someone who won't be able to vote for him in a parliamentary election for at least five years. I am fundamentally wowed and very impressed.

Today's word of the day is tré. You can guess the English equivalent, I hope. Both the Icelandic and English words come from proto-Germanic, just like gras. And the proto-Germanic flavor of the word comes in turn from the proto-Indo-European (way back, waaaay back!) word for "oak". Sweet A.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Prima said...

I have not seen a single one of your favorite movies (listed on your profile).

23.6.06  
Blogger Sigvaldi said...

Speaking of Malls, how do you define a mall?
If the definition is a building where you can enter the stores from an indoor corridor or such then there are more than 2.5 malls here.

24.6.06  
Blogger JB said...

Dictionary.com has "shopping mall" as:

n : mercantile establishment consisting of a carefully landscaped complex of shops representing leading merchandisers; usually includes restaurants and a convenient parking area; a modern version of the traditional marketplace; "a good plaza should have a movie house"; "they spent their weekends at the local malls"

I would say anything with just a handful of stores is more "shopping center" than "shopping mall". A mall conveys hugeness and glamour, or at the very least, faded glory, as in the case of the Billerica Mall.

24.6.06  

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