Saturday, March 7, 2015


Where every country in the world has, in the CIA World FactBook, a historical introduction, economic and geographical information, demographic data and reference to transnational issues, and so forth, the Iceland page simply invites you to look at 39 photos. 

But maybe the number 39 is a secret code; this is the CIA after all. 

James Joyce uses the number prolifically in Finnegan's Wake; could this be a clue? Edward Snowden, do you have any information on this? 39 is a significant number after all. It precedes 40 by 1, and 40 was the number of years Moses spent in the wilderness, the number of days Jesus spent in the wilderness; even more importantly the number of players a major league baseball team is allowed to have in its squad. 39 is what you get if you add the first five prime numbers, 3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 13, and also what happens if you multiply the first and last of those. Only three other integers share these properties (10, 155, and 371 if you really want to know). And what if you add powers? 31 + 32 + 33 = 39. This must be it. The word “powers” is the cryptic clue. But which powers? Iceland is generally linked to Greenland. Can the third be Canada? Or is it, can it be, must it be, surely not…Russia? What is this CIA page really alluding to? Is the Kremlin poised to invade Reykjavik, take over its printing presses, and re-issue John Buchan’s “The Thirty-Nine Steps” in audio form, or perhaps the church’s “Thirty-Nine Articles” as a movie, with Queen’s “39” from “A Night at the Opera” as the soundtrack, and Freddie Mercury wearing Roy Campanella’s baseball jersey. And if so, is Mossad involved (the International Zionist Conspiracy can never be counted out of any serious spy plot) – there are, after all, precisely 39 melachot, or actions that cannot be performed on the Sabbath, so are the Russians, or is the CIA itself, seeking to making a Jewish Caliphate in Iceland (now I get it – as the Jews were offered Uganda as a home after the Holocaust, Iceland is to be offered to the Palestinians, but first the place will have to be made warmer for them, which explains the conspiracy to engender global warming).

Why am I not writing anything serious about Iceland? Come on, do you really need to ask that question? They are actually very nice photos. Number 6 has an amazing rainbow (the ones in 9, 10 and 11 are too hazy). 14 may be a foolish error by the CIA that could lead to someone’s resignation, as it adds weight to the belief that Man has never yet been to the moon, but faked the entire adventure here, in Iceland. 17 is the one to look at though (see illustration on the left); it appears to suggest that the ancient Icelandic Eddas, the great national epic, are based on a geological map of Iceland – you can see the eye and the mouth of the dragon very clearly, and its multiple feet that are made of calcified fishes. Have you noticed (you who took the trouble to look anyway) that there is absolutely no ice, anywhere, in Iceland?

Marks For: 6

Marks Against: 6

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