actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

BusinessI am Richard, Editor of NewsThump, the UK's second most popular Onion rip-off, ask me anything

Oct 26th 2016 by NewsThump • 29 Questions • 128 Points

Hi, we are candidates of the Icelandic Pirate party and we have an election coming up on the 29th of October. These are exciting times in Icelandic politics because we are dealing with a post recession economy and the aftermath of the Panama papers leak where the Prime minister had to resign due to his connection with offshore accounts.

The Icelandic Pirate party got 5% in the last congressional election and are currently polling as the largest party at just over 20%. The amazing thing about that is not only that the Pirate party is the largest political party (by a slim margin) but also that the Independence party which has historically been the largest party by far is only polling at around 20%. The political landscape in Iceland has rarely been as exciting and the possibility for change is real.

We have MPs Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir and candidate Smári McCarthy here to answer your questions.

Proof: https://twitter.com/PiratePartyIS/status/789495086170140673

UPDATE: Thanks for all the questions so far! We're signing out for the evening, but we'll monitor the thread tomorrow at least and respond to any new questions. There are a few questions that haven't been responded to yet ─ don't worry, we'll get to them! Thanks again, and more fun soon! - Smári, Ásta and Birgitta.

Q:

What does Simon Williams think about you doing an AMA?

A:

Google alerts to the rescue!


Q:

What are some of the most common misconceptions Americans have about Buddhism?

A:

Many say that you score so high in the polls because of young people say that they will vote you because it seems "cool". Then the majority of young voters won't show up for the election day. Any thoughts about that?


Q:

Fuck Simon Williams. If I want his opinion, I'll give him one.

A:

Yes we are friendly with Gimlet, and are big fans of their shows. Agreed, the more the merrier... there are so many people out there who don't even listen to podcasts yet. We need to work together to turn them onto the medium and provide amazing content. So yes listen to it all!


Q:

There are quite a few. Firstly I'd like to state that "Buddhism" covers a wide area both geographically and in time, and just like there are a variety of types of Christianity that developed over time, so to are there a large variety of Buddhist traditions, some of which have little connection to each other except for some of the most basic teachings of the Buddha. I will try to be as general as possible in my answer but I do admit to coming from one particular tradition which holds importance on the oldest teachings, so much of my answer may not be 100% accurate across all traditions.

One of the Biggest is regarding the Dalai Lama,whom most westerners, including myself in my pre-buddhist days, viewed as a sort of Buddhist Pope. This is in fact far from the truth as he represents only one school of Tibetan Buddhism which accounts for about 6% of all Buddhists. Like most westerners however the Dalai Lama was my first exposure to Buddhism, and is a respected monastic and public figure.

There is no centralization of power in Buddhism, with the exception of some Buddhist countries like Thailand where government and Religion are so intermeshed that monks hold government ranks and get titles. These powers however hold no sway outside of said countries and have no relation to the actual monastic rules of living passed down for 2600 years. Generally speaking every monastery, and every monk, is a "free agent", so long as they are following the basic vinaya, rules for the monks, and this is essentially done on the honor system. There are no bishops and cardinals and popes, no inquisitions and no excommunications.

Another large one is that Westerners get hung up on rebirth and other things related to the teachings. I think this stems from a judeo-christian upbringing. I myself did 12 years of catholic school, was an altar boy, youth group leader, the whole thing, so when I speak about these things I'm including myself and my own misconceptions as a westerner. In these religions you had to believe, or else you were a sinner, going to hell, etc. I'm a Buddhist monk, and i can't say I 100% believe in rebirth, and thats ok. The Buddha teaches us to question even our most deeply held views and beliefs, like the belief in a soul, a permanent self, let alone something like rebirth. We are called to come and see the truth for ourselves by examining our own experience deeply, and with insight begin to see things as they truly are, not how we wish them to be.

I suggest to many people who are interested in buddhism but get hung up on these kinds of things, that it is ok to shelve them and practice, as you will see the benefits of meditation and living by virtuous principles in the immediacy of your daily life as your mind changes and you become less judgmental, of yourself, and others.

I'll close out by also saying that due to the previously mentioned Judeo-Christian backgrounds, people are looking for something that is "like" a religion, but what you can try to get away with and not call it a religion, but a "philosophy" and things like this. Buddhism has come down to us in Asia through 2600 years and has become a religion, complete with all the trappings of it, rituals and ceremonies etc.

Each person doesn't have to take Buddhism on as a religion, and in deed people can remain whatever religion they were raised and take aspects of Buddhism that help them, this is common.

You also see today in the 6 Billion dollar mindfulness industry that it is also common to take the teachings of the Buddha and make them clinical and scientific. There is a wide range of practice going on, from the religious to the secular to the scientific, all of which stemming from the teachings of a bald headed guy in robes 2600 years ago.

A:

Ásta: Maybe. But we actually have good support in all age groups according to polls. Just that we are polling with around 40% support in the youngest age group, 18-29 years old. And it is true that it's a generation that's unlikely to go and vote. And I think that's concerning that young people are not showing up on election day.


Q:

How often do people feedback with a variation of "what about the Muslims???////question mark question mark"

A:

Good luck! It's worth a try.


Q:

How do you feel about the romanticism of Buddhism here in the west? In North America it seems to be a trendy thing currently - does it bother you to have Buddhism watered down and used as a fad?

On the flip side, for those who are genuinely interested in learning or become Buddhist, what do you recommend?

A:

Hi fellow pirates!

My name is Martin van Vuuren from the netherlands Candidate House of Representatives for Pirate Party Netherlands electoral list number 34.

How is it going over there? Are you all excited for being the biggest pirate party to date? I am excited to see how it unfolds that this party knows how to change the future for the best. I will be following the election through social media but i do wish you all the best since we are one big party worldwide.

Sincerely,

Martin van Vuuren


Q:

I want to say daily, but it's probably only on the days when we mock someone on the far-right, or Catholics, or UKIP, or Brexit, or people slagging off immigrants. So yeah, probably every day. To be honest, we're grateful to Stewart Lee for giving us something to respond with, that means we don't have to articulate our position more fully.

A:

Hey there! Our producers work together on occasion. We did a cross-network theme back in 2015, and are planning another one for 2017. It's a fun way to bring everyone together and drum up fan excitement, plus cross-show listening. Many of the producers worked together on episodes throughout the fundraising campaign we are currently running, and yes I think the collaboration made the workload a bit easier.


Q:

Frankly i'm not too worried and uptight about these kind of things. I've been hearing this new term "Cultural Appropriation" being thrown around and it seems to be a part of the whole SJW PC culture, of which I was never a fan of to begin with, way too much controlling and forcing, the opposite of Buddhism.The West has always romanticized the East, going back even before Roman and Greek times, so its nothing new or surprising.

This means that there are many many misconceptions, as almost all of us, myself included, grew up in the west and what we knew of Buddhism was from movies like Karate Kid or Kung Fu Panda etc. It is only when we begin to learn about Buddhism and then come into contact with buddhist places and practicing Buddhists, that our misconceptions are dispelled and we see the truth of the matter, often times to the dismay of many who really romanticize Buddhism.

I have been researching how mindfulness has become a 6 billion dollar a year business and how various brandings of Buddhist culture ( usually related to the terms zen, nirvana, and a fat guy who everyone mistakes for buddha) are becoming common in trendy health food stores and the like. I don't spend a minute of my time worrying about these kinds of things, this is just a typical and normal aspect of society.

If your just starting out I highly recommend "good question, good answer", which you can find for free as a pdf here - http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/gqga-5ed.pdf

that website itself http://www.buddhanet.net is also a fantastic general resource for Buddhist education I used myself for years as I was starting out.

There is also this excellent book through which many a western Buddhist began their journey for the past 40 years " what the Buddha taught" - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003OYIG00/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

also check out youtube, tons of stuff on there. I highly recommend checking out the talks of a monk called Ajahn Brahm, who really tries to integrate the teachings into how they can be used in daily life situations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jniaUr_7438

lastly feel free to contact me anytime via my links in the original post, I'm always willing to help out people who are interested as I remember my own beginnings.

A:

Ásta: Hi Martin! Ancilla will be here on Friday I think! It'll be hell of a party ;) Everything is going very well - unbelievably. Much work, talking to all the people, and handing out too many brochures. I think some of the Swedish volunteers will try to stream the election night party so you can watch it unfold live!


Q:

Which of your headlines is your favourite?

A:

Is there ever going to be a Paypal option for donations?


Q:

and a fat guy who everyone mistakes for buddha

Lol Bhante, I agree with everything you said, but isn't that supposed to be the next Buddha Maitreya?

Also, congratulations and best wishes on your path!

A:

I feel a little concerned that, in all this discussion, nobody's mentioning the original anti-intellectual-property stance that was sort of the core of the Pirate philosophy.

I've often heard that many of the awkward parts of intellectual property law are locked in via treaty. In the US, for example, we can't go back to "registration required" copyright, or a 14-year term, for example, without breaking treaties.

How can you handle that issue in a nation like Iceland, that can't just say "we're the biggest/richest/strongest, screw your treaty?"

Also, if you're Icelandic and Pirates, did anyone suggest branding as Vikings? My apologies for the horrible stereotype joke.


Q:

By 'your' I'm going to assume you mean the site's headlines, rather than mine personally? I'm particularly fond of this one from the day Wonga announced a massive financial loss last year:

Wonga declares £37.3m loss after accidentally borrowing a fiver from itself

Or this one, from the day a UKIP councillor blamed the rain on homosexuality:

UKIP pledges to send homosexual couples to drought affected areas

There are plenty of others, and it's not always the ones that do particularly well with the public. I'd be more interested to know what your favourite is...

A:

Not for this one at least. We're trying to figure out better ways to work with our international donors. We’re continually working with our partner donation platform to improve the quality of the experience for all of our donors, specifically international. As the technology advances we’re certain you won’t have this same issue much longer, and hopefully won't need PayPal. We appreciate your patience and contribution in the meantime :)


Q:

History[edit] According to Chinese history, Budai was an eccentric Chan monk (Chinese: 禅; pinyin: chán)[7] who lived in China during the Later Liang (907–923). He was a native of Zhejiang and his Buddhist name was Qieci (Chinese: 契此; pinyin: qiècǐ; literally: "Promise this").[2] He was considered a man of good and loving character.

Budai or Pu-Tai[1][2] (Chinese and Japanese: 布袋; pinyin: Bùdài; rōmaji: Hotei[3]; Vietnamese: Bố Đại) is a Chinese folkloric deity. His name means "Cloth Sack",[3] and comes from the bag that he is conventionally depicted as carrying. He is usually identified with or seen as an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha, so much so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya is depicted in China.[3] He is almost always shown smiling or laughing, hence his nickname in Chinese, the Laughing Buddha (Chinese: 笑佛; pinyin: Xiào Fó).[1][3][4] In the West, the image of Budai is often mistaken for Gautama Buddha, and is hence called the Fat Buddha (Chinese: 胖佛; pinyin: Pàng Fó).[5]

does seem like this person has been used as a representation of a future buddha, but that was not the origin.

A:

Ásta: On the Viking, that came up. On the IP law, it's complicated. We are working with Julia Reda Member of European Parliament on the IP issue. But the problem is that we are bound by treaties and respecting those treaties is actually necessary to be part of stuff like, the UN and stuff. No country is an island in a globalized world, not even Iceland which is really an Island. The problem is that IP law is so twisted and that's the reason why we were formed in the first place, to fix it. But as many other IP specialists (Lawrence Lessig) we are moving towards tackling corruption and digital rights, because this is all intertwined. Copyright reform was just the starting point, but from there we have grown and it's awesome!


Q:

Do you accept contributions from anyone who submits them to you or is it only a select group of writers?

A:

Why would/should all nuns be reprimanded for the greed of another?


Q:

What is your position on climate change?

A:

We have an open-door policy on submissions, and you can find out more here: http://newsthump.com/writing-for-newsthump/


Q:

you could say that about almost all the rules really. Although I wouldn't say that all the nuns are "reprimanded", more like a restriction of future use.

But in all honesty I'm no monks rules scholar, so I can't say much more then that.

A:

Smári: We'd like to stop it from happening. A stable climate is even more important than a stable economy! In short, we'd like to fulfil our obligations under the Paris convention and then go even further than that. According to loftslag.is, an Icelandic website about climate change, the Pirate Party has the best environmental policy of all parties at the moment.


Q:

No doubt it's gotta be an incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling job but financially is the independent online satire game rewarding or is it very much a labour of love?

A:

I play a level 6 elemental monk in d&d. What's the difference?


Q:

Hi there! As a citizen of Iceland in my twenties I have a few questions for you. I'd like to start by stating that I like most of what you are doing and what you have stood for so far. I will be voting for you in the coming election, unless something huge happens to sway my opinion.

Now. You guys have a huge following with the young people in Iceland. I'm wondering what you are thinking about doing for us. Life for students has, I think, never been harder than it is right now. The student loan situation is horrible and the Renting Market is in the gutter.

Do you guys have any plans to fix this? What are your thoughts on the renters market and what can be done to make things easier? Is the only option for students in Iceland to flee the country, just to be able to study what they want?

I would love a bit of insight :)

A:

I took a pay cut to do this full-time, and no-one is getting rich writing satire on the Internet (I don't think - well, we aren't). But I do make a living out of it, and it's more fun than my last job (selling software), so I can't complain.

I would also add that there are decent financial rewards if your material is good. We've had writers start with us and go on to get reasonably well-paid gigs elsewhere as a result of their NewsThump writing, creating things for TV and radio.

Also, because of how we pay our writers, sometimes they earn pretty decent amounts for their stories. We've had three articles this year that have earned their respective authors over £1,000. That's for ONE silly satire story on the Internet. Obviously these are the exception, but it does happen when stories go viral.


Q:

It depends on whether the monastic as developed the powers that come with a highly concentrated mind, like being able to use fire to defeat dragons etc, read peoples mind, bend earth, teleport etc, although these kinds of things are usually for level 10 and above, I'm only at about maybe level 3 or 4 myself.

btw I use to play D&D, was a huge gamer and pc nerd, played and loved TT/pc/console RPGs since the 80s, love the question.

A:

Ásta: Hi Snojo and thanks for your questions! I agree with you that life for the young has become worse, or at least, it hasn't gotten any better compare to other generations. I was a poor student very recently so I am familiar with the situation. It is necessary to fix some of the problems that we know of in the student loan system, and make part of it into a grant. Also - monthly payments of student loans would make students so much more aware on how much they're spending. AND that income roof that's put on students is absurdly low, it's so easy to just raise that. And just fix the whole attitude in this LÍN institution. I could go on and on and on on that.

We need more rental apartments, and we need the airbnb apartments that are basically just run as a hotel, we need those apartments back on the long term renting market. It's probably around 1000-2000 apartments that are on the airbnb market and noone keeps a home there. Also, we need relax a bit on the building regulations. Not everyone needs to have a car, thus, having a car cellar in every new building should not be a requirement.

Currently, in my opinion, the best bet is to leave Iceland. The only reason I'm in Iceland is because of this amazing opportunity that the Pirate Party has created. We have a chance of fixing so many things that are wrong and make Iceland into the country we want it to be, that I believe we can turn it into. There is hope - the grass is not always greener on the other side - but I seriously feel you and have been there myself!


Q:

What is the most memorable response/complaint you have received?

Have you ever looked back and regretted publishing a particular article or thought "maybe we went too far with that one"?

A:

What about monastic life surprised you the most?


Q:

What are your points of universal basic income and what would be needed to make it fair ?

A:

The best complaints are the ones that say they hope we get cancer and die, definitely. Like this one: https://business.facebook.com/NewsThump/photos/a.167782276585545.35542.157809760916130/1080795431950887/?type=3&permPage=1

Responded earlier about the only time we removed a post after publishing it, only happened once... (not sure how to link to a previous answer, sorry!)


Q:

How not very different it is from lay life. People often expect that when they escape to a monastery in the woods they are leaving the world behind, but this is far from the case. Everything you find in the outside world you will find in a monastery, because you bring your own baggage and issues to it like everyone else. You can go out to the woods and be in a nice, silent, peaceful place, yet your mind is chaos, a war zone.

Everyone, everywhere, has what Buddhists call the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion in our mind, this causes us to not see clearly and not do the most skillful actions in our quest for happiness and peace. This means that there is no place on earth you can escape to and escape greed, hatred, and delusion, even if you are the only living thing within 100 miles, you are still with yourself.

people also tend to think that monks do nothing but sit around and meditate all day, where as we do hours of work on a daily basis and have responsibilities and chores like washing dishes, chopping and managing wood, fixing buildings, etc. Now there may be some places in the world where the monks DO do nothing but meditate all day, but they are in the minority and quite rare.

A:

Smári: We see basic income as an interesting prospect to look towards long term, and have proposed a government working group to investigate which options there are for implementation and adoption. Short term, it's difficult to implement, simply because it costs so much, but there are some possibilities for moving in that direction alongside simplifications to the welfare system that would guarantee more people better coverage and fewer people falling between the cracks.


Q:

How much sex are you having?

A:

Do you believe that Theravada is the only original/most authentic tradition of Buddhism?


Q:

does the pirateparty have any policy regarding taking harder action against parents that alienate their children from one parent ?

A:

More than none, less than too much. Unless this is our gf's throwaway, in which case: the perfect amount, sweetheart.


Q:

I use to, but not anymore. I now know that much of Theravada is quite added on later as well. I follow the early buddhist texts as my guide, and that is pre-sectarian, shared across all traditions.

I also realize that what is right for me, is not necessarily right for others. I could never practice Tibetan Buddhism, but I know some people benefit from that type of tradition. I worry about my own practice and let others worry about theirs.

A:

Birgitta: We don't have a policy on this issue yet, it is however clearly not in the interest of the child if either parent or their families are alienated from them. We as parliamentarians have always supported all reforms in this regard. The current framework around these violations against the rights of children is too weak and needs to be amended asap.


Q:

The only other one I know of is The Daily Mash

A:

Are you worried one day you may not be able to turn back to lay life and live normally again? I.e you may be past the age of relationships kids careers etc?


Q:

What does your party have to do with pirates?

A:

Correct - we're basing that purely on Facebook fans. I've no idea how popular they are in terms of actual readers. I think the Mash is the most popular, but I believe Newsbiscuit was the first in the Uk (happy to be corrected on that)


Q:

I was married in my 20s and long before I became a monk the practice lessened my need to attach to another person and I became quite content with myself. I kept myself open to the possibility of a relationship happening, but I never felt the need to go searching for one.

I was also 36 when I moved to the monastery, even if I had a kid now I'd be a senior citizen by the time they graduated high school. I also know that if I ever decide to leave the monkhood I have my previous skills and experiences to fall back on to get by. I'm not worried at all if I have to leave, although this is a fear for some which might keep them in robes even though they don't want to be.

A:

Ásta: Long story short: Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Sweden there was a bureau, the Anti-Pirate Bureau that was supposed to make sure noone was copying on the World Wide Web and the Internet. Because of ironic seriousness, some people started the Pirate Bureau and from there, someone had the splendid idea to start the Pirate Party. So yes, we have something to do with Pirates, in a digital sense of the word. But since then we have evolved into being a pro-democracy, reformist movement that supports civil and digital rights in any form.


Q:

What is better - cake or pie?

A:

What does the term 'unborn' mean to you?


Q:

Do you think you get negative light because of the name? Because it feels like the older generation see it like Illegal Download = Pirate Party

A:

Pie, always pie.


Q:

not really a term I see used, but in the context of the early buddhist texts that word could probably be connected with nibbana/nirvana. Once you have attained awakening you have cut off all future births, you are no longer subject to being born again in samsara, and therefore since you are no longer to be born, you will no longer die, which is also why Nibbana is sometimes called " the deathless.

A:

Ásta: Well, words only have the meaning we give to them. It hasn't been a problem so far.


Q:

I think The Daily Show had a huge effect here in the US - maybe didn't change opinions but definitely formed them among people already skeptical about Government and the right. Made it more easy to talk at work etc with people of the same mindset

A:

This is a question I have been thinking about recently, with regards to the concept of karma. I have read what you answered in response to another poster, but I would like to ask further: What do you believe the purpose of going through tough/difficult situations is?

Some schools of thought believe that it is a way to work off or atone for bad karma, others think we are put in these positions to learn. What do you think?


Q:

What are your personal positions on the Icelandic Krona? Should it be swapped in near-future for a steadier currency (e.g. USD or Euro), should it be pegged to another currency or should we continue to use it?

A:

It's a format many have tried to mimic in the UK, so far without success. Maybe because our public figures weren't as outrageous as those in the US, maybe because the UK public doesn't respond well to that style of show - who knows. I hope they keep trying.


Q:

There is no grand purpose or scheme taught by the Buddha, in fact he was pretty insistent in teaching us not to worry about such things as there is no way for you to answer that. He's exhortation was to do the practice and end samsara, the cycle of continued existence.

So when you align your own purpose with the ending of Samsara, then every experience is a chance to gain insight, to learn and grow, and gradually move closer and closer to awakening.

A:

Ásta: My personal opinion is that it's not a sustainable future currency as is, that is, we would have to have capital controls in order to keep the króna working as it has the past few years. The króna has always been the black sheep of iceland, yes it helped with recovering from the crisis but it is really expensive to keep. The Króna is the main reason why we have index linked loans with high interest rates and unforeseeable payments, and it's really expensive for the normla Icelander. I don't have much faith in Krónan, but I am willing to work with it since we are a strange country. I think pegging it would be an interesting option, or something similar.

Aesthetically I find the Icelandic króna kinda hillarious. It has fish on it. FISH. That's ridiculous, but quiet ironic as well. The fishing industry is the 'gold' of Iceland, the main export and money making machine. So that's something.


Q:

Celibate? What does celibacy have to do with finding zen?

To me it would seem like the opposite would be true.

A:

Having watched CPG Grey's videos on the pros(?) and cons of commonly used voting systems I am very interested in what your views are on the current voting system in Iceland, and more generally the model it is based on. Also, your views on voting single-person instead of parties! (persónukjör? veit ekki alveg enska orðið)

I personally think it's unrealistic to have a single person vote but I hear people mention it as a solution to the current system.


Q:

I know nothing about "finding zen", not my tradition or anything the Buddha spoke about in the oldest texts.

In what ways would it seem "opposite" to you?

The purpose of a monastic is to end suffering and become awakened, to do that we cleanse our mind of attachments, clinging, and aversion, we in a sense "overcome our programming", one of which is the sexual drive of this human species. The drives to eat, sleep, and procreate are obviously quite strong, they need to be or else the species wouldn't survive to pass on their genes to the next generation and sustain the existence of the species.

That being said however a person can let go and train the mind to the point where innate habitual tendencies are overcome. This leaves the mind in a sate of peace and equanimity that is not caught up in the roller coaster of the typical highs and lows of a mind dominated by natural selection, genes, and an innate habitual tendency of the mind towards greed, hatred, and delusion.

A:

Smári here! There are both pros and cons in the current system, which is very similar to the Swedish and Norwegian systems: d'Hondt's method used to allocate within each constituency, and then a biproportional allocation used to allocate adjustment seats on a national level. The biggest single problem is that d'Hondt's method is less proportionate than, say, the Sainte-Lague method (well, a variant thereof) used in the other Nordic countries. If we could switch to Sainte-Lague, it would be a massive improvement.

By the way, I've written some software that simulates some of these systems, here: https://github.com/smari/voting

That said, there are some bigger things that can and should be done, and one of them is being able to select candidates directly rather than voting for a party list. There are a lot of different ways of doing this, from the (quite odd) Australian method of voting "above the line" (party) or "below the line" (people), to the method used in Finland, which allows for ranking within a party list. I honestly don't favour any specific method above others for use in Iceland (I have a number of ideas though). As long as we can even out the value of the votes between constituencies and increase the ability of people to choose their representatives more directly than they currently can, it's an improvement.


Q:

What was your biggest challenge walking away from your normal American life? How did your friends and family respond?

A:

Will whaling still continue to be legal if you win ?


Q:

without a doubt it was leaving my very close family. You do need to do a lot of letting go of these close connections when you become a monk. This is not to say you won't see them or have a relationship with them, but you are not part of their daily/regular lives anymore, and that is tough both on you and them.

My family and friends knew I was going to do this years before I did, but it didn't hit them until it got real and I really left, it was not easy for them.

A:

Smári: To be honest, we don't have a policy on it either way. Personally, I'm definitely in favour of protecting ecosystems and the species in it. I'd happily get behind a whaling ban if the data suggested that it'd help the ecosystem, but I've seen data that suggests that the whale population might be threatening other populations in the sea... so I'm totally torn. Ultimately we need to do whatever is best for the environment. In the meantime, I do like a good minke steak, even if I wouldn't be too sad to not be able to have it again.


Q:

Does CCP makers of Eve Online play any part in Icelandic politics?

A:

Smári: Nope. They are fairly busy running a galaxy, and have no time for our pithy local affairs. :-)


Q:

I'm really interested in Iceland, but I'm unfamiliar with your political landscape. For starters, why are you called the Pirate Party, and why do you think you are currently favored in the polls?

A:

Smári: In short, there are 12 parties running in the current elections, polling from virtually nothing to around 22%. We're called the Pirate Party in reference to a global movement of Pirate Parties that popped up over the last decade. Despite our name, we're taken fairly seriously in Iceland, in particular because of our very aggressive anti-corruption stance, our pro-transparency work, and our general push in the direction of a more information-driven society with strong civil liberties.


Q:

Yeah, so if you pass a law, it's got to be called the Buccaneer Bill right?

A:

Ásta: Lol. Yes.


Q:

Have you considered pirating Donald Trump's words and ideas? I hear they are the best words.

A:

Ásta: I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?


Q:

I have a chunk of pork in my mouth and I'm not planning on chewing it or swallowing it. Do you have any idea if it's possible for my saliva to dissolve the chunk and, if it is possible, can you say how long it will take for my saliva to dissolve the piece of pork?

A:

Smári: It is very hard to say. There are various important factors. Is it smoked or cured, cooked, or what?


Q:

That is an excellent question, and one which none of the people I have put this particular question to have bothered to ask. I suppose, for the sake of this question, we should assume that the chunk of pork is uncooked but nonetheless free of parasites.

I am from the United States of America, and this is a question that is traditionally asked of our leaders at the highest levels. I would not assume that the same is necessarily true of Icelandic politicians, but I think that it is at least possible that the voters in your country would be interested in hearing your response as well.

A:

Uncooked, hm. I simply do not know. But as a Pirate, and having an endless thirst for knowledge, I suggest that we conduct some scientific research into this and get to the bottom of it.

In Iceland, the questions traditionally asked of politicians are, "would you like beer to be sold in grocery stores?" and "what do you think about the airport in Reykjavík?"


Q:

Will your party work to grant asylum to Edward Snowden?

A:

Ásta: The first bill we put forward in 2013 was on granting Snowden asylum: http://www.althingi.is/altext/142/s/0078.html But he technically needs to apply for it first though. So, it's up to him.


Q:

Will your party work to grant asylum to Edward Snowden?

A:

Birgitta: One person's Utopia could be another person's hell or at least that is the conclusion I reached after reading the The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. My personal utopia could only become real if I could dream it up with others. :) But I guess the poem Imagine is a good start.

Neither cats or dogs: I love wombats.


Q:

How do yiu typically handle people who assume your party is a joke?

How do you go about explaining what the Pirate Party really stands for?

A:

Birgitta: We don't come across many people that assume that we are a joke, it might have been an issue when we were being formed, but it is not really something we experience now.

We are a party that focuses on human rights in the digital era, with special focus on direct democracy. You can read more about our core policy, all our policy had to be based on the principles found there. http://piratar.is/en/core-policy/

You can also find more info here: https://newint.org/features/2015/01/01/democracy-digital-era-keynote/ and here: http://grapevine.is/mag/feature/2015/11/19/hacking-politics/


Q:

Birgitta. Every time a foreign media outlet interviews you, you are portrayed as potentially being the next PM of Iceland. Last time this happened was on Friday, when the Washington Post named you "possibly the country’s next leader". When you are asked by the Icelandic media if you want to be the next PM, you always say no. Why is that? Are the foreign reporters misunderstanding the situation? Have you ever tried to correct them?

A:

Birgitta: I tell them this is not what I am seeking and that we have horizontal structure. They want juicy headlines. Just like the Icelandic media play it out as if Katrin Jakobsdóttir will be the next PM, even if she has never said she wants it. You can have a look at my faq at my web page if you dont believe me :) http://birgitta.is/92-2/


Q:

On a lighter note, what are you going to do for the puffins? The world needs to know your stance.

A:

Ásta: I bet Smári wants to eat all the puffins since he was brought up in Vestmannaeyjar. I just want to cuddle them and make sure they are happy.


Q:

I took a picture of these puffins, and they say thank you.

A:

Smári: I don't want to eat all the puffins. Just a few. Sustainability in puffin hunting is important too!


Q:

Heyo! I'm an anthropologist and filmmaker in Iceland and have talked with Ásta about this before (sup Ásta) but would love to know what inspired each of you to join the Pirate Party and what you want to see for the future of Iceland. Also, based on my interviews with Icelanders all over the country the last year the consensus is that the next economic crisis is around the corner (folks say to count the construction cranes in the sky) - Do you think the next crisis in inevitable and what will the Pirates do to address the problem at the root? (I'm giving a paper on the Panama Papers, Pirates and Utopic narratives in Iceland on Friday at the University of Iceland so this is for SCIENCE!)

A:

Ásta: Sup Jen! Wanna hang out tonight? What inspired me to join the Pirate Party and actively do politics is after my stay in Iran in 2011. Iran being an authoritarian theocracy made me realize how privileged I am. Participating in a democratic society is not a right, it is a privilege and being a young woman, being able to participate in my democratic society and influence it.

On the construction cranes, the difference between this boom is that it is actually better financed than the previous construction crane invasion in Reykjavík. So hopefully this will not go bad. I believe another global crisis is inevitable, but I don't think it's going to hit Iceland as hard as the 2008 one.


Q:

What's your opinion of the British and Norwegian fishing industry near Iceland and do you plan on raiding it?

A:

Smári: We've won three cod wars against Britain. They had warships, we had awesome fishermen. Nuff' said. :-)


Q:

If you had to pick one Icelandic town you'd have to give back to Denmark, which one would you pick?

A:

Birgitta: That would be the notorious town of Fosshöfn, who is to blame for the gigantic sinkhole east east west of nowhere.


Q:

Will the pirate party be a non authoritarian form of government?

I'am a diligent endorser of the original endorsement of participant controlled governance. Wouldn't it be more simple to reduce power of state government and hand it to local government to be able to shorten the distance between voters and their representatives?

A:

Ásta: Well, the mission is to make a more non-authoritarian form of government, so, yes. In Iceland the distance between voters and local government on one hand and national government on the other hand isn't the same as you'd get in larger, more populous countries. But I generally agree with the notion of bringing the power back to the people.


Q:

What's your policy on renewable energy - how does it distinguish you from other parties, and what do you think other European nations should be doing with renewable energy that they are not?

Thanks, and good luck!

A:

Smári: Right now, Iceland's energy for electricity production and heating is almost entirely renewable. There are a few places where emergency generators are still used on occasion, but that'll presumably go away with improvements to the power grid in those parts of the country that have that problem. The remainder of non-renewable energy is fossil fuels used for cars, ships, planes and the like.

Current projections (PDF) suggest that with increased use of electric cars, we can reduce our use of fossil fuels substantially. The Pirate Party therefore has a policy to try to build out the infrastructure for EV's quite fast, so that by 2025 we can stop importing new non-electric cars.

What distinguishes us from other parties here is mostly the speed at which we wish to achieve the Paris agreement goals, but to be fair, there are other parties that have quite radical environmental policies too.

As for Europe, my personal (if heretical) opinion is stop shutting down nuclear in favour of natural gas. Nuclear is problematic in various ways as everybody knows, but right now natural gas (not to mention coal) is a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Eventually nuclear should also go away in favour of renewables, in particular solar power and grid stabilization of various kinds ─ probably some mixture of batteries, molten salt, and other solutions.