July Pieces Of My Mind #1

Piecing it together
  • Almost got my latest co-authored paper into Antiquity, which is the highest-scoring venue on the Uni Łódź list. Both reviewers recommend publication with barely any changes, and the editor says some very nice things about it, but they turned it down on the grounds of brevity and slightly off-beat theme. It’s about the dating and interpretation of 19th century harness mounts. They have been receiving loads of manuscripts lately because of the quarantine. Anyway, this is encouraging for the next venue I submit it to. I won’t have to aim straight for the Ögleboda Parish Historical Society’s newsletter.
  • When was the last time you flew a kite? A friend lent me one last summer, and then I ordered one from Günther Flugspiele. So much fun!
  • Strawberries usually just taste like cucumber.
  • Journal paper manuscript updated and submitted to a new high-profile venue 43 hours after it was turned down.
  • When someone asks you “What do you mean?”, assume that they aren’t asking you to clarify what you just said. They usually consider you a symbol or material cipher, and they are struggling to interpret your entire existence.
  • The Helga Holm Medieval ship reenactment group has run into a problem I’ve never heard of before. After 37 years, their ship is way past its technical life expectancy. Even if the group’s members were still 30 years old on average, which they are not, it would make no sense to keep repairing the Helga Holm. Their reenactment gear has grown so old that it is itself a remnant of a distant past. You could start a meta-reenactment group about their ways in the 1980s.
  • Thinking about the Helga Holm reminded me of another ship replica that was way less sturdily built. Have you seen the Pond of the Plywood Vikings in Skive?
  • Remembered Larry Niven’s Mount Lookitthat. Space probe reports that it’s found a habitable planet. Colonisation ship follows, finds that probe has landed randomly on tiny extremely high plateau, rest of planet awful.
  • It would make more sense to have news headlines that said “Famous artist is over 70 and has not done anything big in over a decade, likely never will again, let’s grieve” instead of “Famous artist who last did something big 20 years ago dies aged 93, let’s grieve”.
  • One quarter of everyone working in Swedish healthcare was born in another country. Among the doctors, the share is even greater: one third.
  • Prior to the pandemic I didn’t know that intensive care often includes the patient being sedated long-term. I’ve been lucky.
  • Fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter to put out a fine new edition of published work just hit U$D 4,000,000 in one day. The publishing business is in a decades-long state of continual technological disruption.
  • You know when you’re a member of a Facebook group about something you have deep and wide knowledge about after decades of study? And somebody asks a question? Wouldn’t it be great if nobody showed up and replied to that question with ignorant speculation several days after yourself and other people who actually know something gave conclusive replies? *facepalm*

My Cancelled or Postponed Events

A dynamically updated list of cancelled or postponed events where I was planning on participating.

  • Nacka district court’s layman judge association, annual business meeting & lecture.
  • Fantastika scifi convention. I was on two panels and was giving a talk about NMK.
  • Game night.
  • Royal Armoury’s appointment-only library, research visit.
  • Nacka Social Democrats, annual business meeting.
  • Wikimedia Sweden, annual business meeting and seminar.
  • Östergötland County Museum’s friends association, me speaking about my Viking Halls project.
  • Continued training for layman judges.
  • Local school administration and education board politicians, seminar.
  • Kai’s 54th birthday party. With alleged waffles.
  • Municipal school board’s monthly meeting.
  • LinCon 2020 gaming convention. I was supposed to give a talk on NMK.
  • 2020 Sachsensymposium in Castricum-Alkmaar. I was giving a talk on Aska in Hagebyhöga.
  • Colloquium in Prag on rulers’ residences of the period AD 1000-1150. I was giving a talk.

June Pieces Of My Mind #3

Tea cups by master potter Calle Forsberg, Kummelnäs
  • It’s dun-SANE-y. But on the other hand it’s also CAB-ell.
  • I know it’s a late warning, seeing as I’ve known this for over 35 years. But really, never try casting toy soldiers from Linotype alloy. It’s too hard and really difficult to clean up after casting.
  • I suffer from outrage fatigue. I don’t even want to read social media posts from activists that I agree with. That’s not why I’m on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Zierscheibe is rouelle in French.
  • You come home and find that a 200-litre barrel of pombe, traditional opaque millet beer, has been delivered gratis to your doorstep with compliments from the cultural outreach office at the Embassy of Cameroon. What do you do with it? (Asking for a friend.)
  • You get the degree symbol° in Ubuntu Linux with AltGr+shift+0.
  • I love The Cult’s 1985 hit “She Sells Sanctuary”, but I gotta say, this is the sloppiest diction I’ve heard in any rock song apart from black metal vocalisations. Excepting two or three lines near the middle, I can only make out the word “yeah” here and there. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” comes across as quite crisply enunciated in comparison.
  • Suddenly felt badly stressed out and uncomfortable at my desk, as if I had forgotten something important that should be attended to quickly. Couldn’t understand what it was. Felt really worried. Then finally realised that I simply needed to take a dump.
  • I once microwaved my 1971 paperback copy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. It was falling apart because the glue in its spine had dried out, and I had the idea that heating it would reactivate the glue. It didn’t work. Nothing much happened. I still have the book and it is still falling apart.
  • I’ve dodged a bullet. During my last job in contract archaeology, in 2002, everyone was using ArcGIS. I hardly learned anything about it and haven’t used it since. Meanwhile, Swedish archaeologists have gotten tired of paying the exorbitant price for ArcGIS and switched to QGIS, which is free. So it doesn’t matter anymore that I don’t know ArcGIS.
  • This boat builder on Twitter sent me a lovely gift! Two kilos of beautiful cured & tarred French oak to mount my Chinese fire hazard sign onto. Thank you Sir!
  • Dreamed that I was nudging, with my foot, a half-closed door behind which someone was skulking. Woke up because I had kicked the window sill next to the bed so hard that my toes hurt.
  • There should be a central repository for people who like dogging. It should be named the Dogger Bank.

Novels In English Are A New Thing

The English-language novel is commonly held to have originated around 1700, with Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688; at 31,000 words it’s a novella by current standards) or Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719). It occurred to me that since it’s such a recent thing, I’ve lived through much of its history by now. I’ve been reading English-language novels for about 35 years, that is, 11% of the period.

Let’s say you and your grandma read a new novel that you both like in 2020 when you’re 15 and she is 75. And she shared a new novel with her grandma when she was 15, etc., etc. Then the book you two are sharing now is only the sixth in the chain back to Robinson Crusoe. And we know that the book they shared in 1720 was Robinson Crusoe, because there was no other original novel-length prose fiction in English to choose from then.

The first novella in Swedish is Urban Hiärne’s Stratonice from 1666-68. I discussed it here back in 2012.

June Pieces Of My Mind #2

Dragon’s head on one of the 11th century runestones reused in the foundation of Strängnäs Cathedral
  • Saying “Don’t delete history” about statue removal reveals a misunderstanding of the function of statues. Many of them communicate values in the present. Our knowledge of Hitler and Stalin doesn’t decrease when we remove their statues. We remove them to communicate values in the present. Because we are no longer people who honour Hitler or Stalin with public statuary. Despite them both being unavoidable historical figures. You don’t remove history by removing statues. Those are neither historical source material nor effective teaching tools. Almost none of them are even coeval with the person they depict.
  • No strong / stinky cheese in the fridge. Must go hunting.
  • Jrette has levelled up to junior camp counsellor.
  • A friend has invited us and a group of botanists and journal editors to her isolated summer house at a picturesque lake in the woods. Nobody knows each other. This is clearly the setup for a movie, and I see three possibilities. This is a murder mystery. Or a Lovecraftian horror story. Or a 1970s soft-porn comedy.
  • Junior’s podcast: “Jumping Flash made a splash in 1995, when it was the first 3D platformer to hit consoles. But did you know there’s a third game in the series, released only in Japan?”
  • Today’s the 28th anniversary of me starting my first archaeological job. It’s also the day when my dear old thesis supervisor Jan Peder Lamm passed away.
  • I’m running Microsoft Teams under Ubuntu Linux. A native Microsoft application. Unaccustomed!
  • Played Call of Cthulhu. My character the psychoanalyst got axed down by a possessed mental hospital orderly. But my other character the fake spirit medium helped take the killer down by beating him over the head with an enema pump filled with salty water. Happy ending!
  • Czech colleagues asked if I will show up to their conference in August, with an eye to the pandemic. I checked whether it would be safe for me to visit this potentially scary foreign country. Turned out that I would be much safer there, but that there is no guarantee that they’ll let me in as they consider Sweden one of the scariest countries in Europe.
  • The Spandauer Zitadelle has an exhibition of statues pulled down in Berlin in the 20th century.
  • Movie: Parasite (2019). The members of a poor family infiltrate the home of a gullible rich family as employees. Mayhem ensues. Grade: OK.
  • Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children is set in AD 2175. There are still phone booths, no cell phones. In ch. 5 a man rents a jet plane, then lands halfway to find a phone booth because he needs to make a call. Space stations receive physical paper mail by mail rocket.
  • I assume that linguists prefer linguine over all other pasta.

June Pieces Of My Mind #1


Racing with Lasse on Baggensfjärden
  • Swedish county admins have in recent years put a high fee on a hobbyist’s metal detector permit. This has caused many detectorists to go underground. And when inevitably they find scientifically important things, they now daren’t hand them in. To those who contact me about this, I say “Hand your finds and their coordinates in anonymously at the County Admin’s front desk. Make it extremely clear that it’s not a bomb, preferably using clear plastic packaging.”
  • OK, done, 45 clearly has no redeeming qualities. I’m more interested now in what this says about the voters without whom he would be nothing. And what this says about the system of government that brought him to the White House.
  • Tiny tweeting voices are heard from the bird box demanding food. ❤
  • Duolingo just told me Dotykam każdej lodówki, I touch every fridge.
  • Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 hit “Torn” deals frankly and courageously with post-partum labiaplasty.
  • The statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol is from 1895. It’s a piece of late Victorian commemoration, not anything to do with Colston’s own day around 1700. It should have gone down in 1945.

May Pieces Of My Mind #3

I rented the Lilla Sickla gazebo for game night
  • Wife finds an ad for the company Nordic Holistic Care. They clean houses and offices. Sounds like they started out as faith healers but had to re-think their business model.
  • I’ve always found it a little odd that the Beatles’ manager was gay and tried to get them to have sex with him. Brian Epstein also frequented rent boys. Reading Jon Ronson’s coverage of the 2001 Jonathan King trial, I now learn that in the 60s, 70s and 80s (and later?), it was quite rare for the manager of a UK boy band to not be gay and try to have sex with his proteges. In the US, managers were generally far more focused on making money for themselves.
  • Junior has started a podcast about obscure video games!
  • Movie: Limitless (2011). Ordinary guy gets hold of an experimental drug that makes him superhumanly smart for half a day but also has bad withdrawal effects when convenient for the plot. This causes him to suddenly become interested in stock trading and business mergers. Grade: OK.
  • Archaeologists rarely get NSWE wrong. But it is super common for them to write e.g. north-west when the plan shows clearly that they mean north-east.
  • I want to study finds in a museum basement.
  • Realization: we have seven rose bushes now. We can race them for which one blooms first each summer!
  • Life’s strange. One day you’re writing your senior-year high school essay on what the Hubble Space Telescope will be able to do, then before you know it they’re celebrating Hubble’s 30 years in orbit.
  • Junior: “Hear me out here: halberds are the spork of the weapon world.”
  • So is Korak, son of Tarzan, much on everybody’s minds these days?
  • Yay the Johan & Jakob Söderberg Foundation!!! We are hitting the royal mead-hall at Aska in Hagebyhöga!!!