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  • Writer's pictureFred

Goin' to Longyearbyen

Google is awesome.

You say they're terrible? Listen they may (ahem, ahem) manipulate their search engine, but no one has done more for mapping since Galileo.

I mean, most of Beacon of Speech is bitchin' about this, or moanin' about that, but I am very grateful for Google Maps. I can literally go to the end of the world....

Editor's Note: I started this article in 2021 and didn't know where to go with it, so it languished in the Drafts Section of the blog......until last week.


So I was reading the Jerusalem Post when I came across this little tidbit: Russia warns Norway over restricting supplies to settlements on Svalbard.

Really? Svalbard? In 1920, the Svalbard Treaty recognized the sovereignty of Norway over the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, The Administrative Center of Svalbard is Longyearbyen with a population of around 2,500. The Svalbard Treaty also regulates the demilitarization of the islands (above in red, due north from Norway.)

Listen, I can't beat this into the ground enough, we are talking about an island chain half way between Norway and the North Pole in the middle of nowhere. 99% of the islands' land mass is permafrost, tundra, and snow. Longyearbyen is known as a layover point for North Pole Expeditions...

The second largest city in Svalbard is Barentsburg, home to about 450 ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. Are they fighting in the streets? Goodness, I hope not. Does Google Maps go there? Of course it does:

The Blue and Yellow building on the left is the Barentsburg Pomor Museum about a block away from a Russian Orthodox Church. The settlement is based around a coal mining operation that the Russians have been operating since the 1930's.

Barentsburg and Longyearbyen are separated by about 30 miles, but there are no roads between the 2 settlements. During the summer, most travel between the 2 villages is by boat or helicopter. During the winter, most travel is by snowmobile.

The fact that we are talking about war over Svalbard is pure absurdity. Russia controls .4% of the land mass. When Putin shakes his fist in the air this is what he's talking about:

The picture above is the coastline of Longyearbyen, again, the largest city for 500 miles in any direction. There is no nice way to say it, Putin is simply cuckoo-for-Cocoa Puffs.

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