Stockholm Library Vandalised

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Dagens Nyheter reports that the Stockholm University Library has seen some pretty bad vandalism. Yesterday morning it was discovered that someone had disconnected the drain-pipe from an upstairs washbasin and opened the taps to the max. Several cubic meters of water flooded out during the night and drenched three floors. Luckily, few books were damaged, but the place will have to close while everything is dried out and the carpeting replaced.

Vandalising libraries is of course on a par with organising book bonfires or bringing down internet hubs, a particularly ugly crime. I hope whoever did this turns out to be mentally ill, not having acted on any rational plan.

Personally, I’ve never spent much time in the University library, mainly because the Library of the Academy of Letters specialises in my field and so offers all I need. The Uni library is a pretty ugly building, designed by Ralph Erskine to the great acclaim of his colleagues and finished in 1983. More than anything else, it looks like a passenger ferry on dry land. As an undergrad I studied for a few exams there, but the distraction level is unbelievable: it’s babe ground centre, enough to make anyone’s head explode.

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Reality-Based Child Rearing

i-d0615a4993c416b74ac447c3b28fa26d-parentingbeyondbelief.pngMy kids see a fair share of lukewarm religiosity with their grandma and teachers. At home, they’re taught that there are basically two types of characters:

  • Real people who merit empathy and solidarity, such as themselves,
  • Fictional ones that you can make up stories about, such as Spiderman, the Little Mermaid and Jehovah, Lord of Hosts.

Being Swedish, I’ve never come across a religious parenting manual. But I gather they are really common in the U.S., and that some are exceptionally nasty (as discussed by Jim Benton). Enter Dale McGowan, editor of the anthology Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, due out in April.
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Odin, Thor and Other Space Aliens

Regular Dear Reader Christina lives in a small town in western Canada, where there are “lots of nice rock art and arrowheads and Indians (though they don’t want to get excavated for political reasons) “. Here’s a cool snippet from a letter she sent me.

“Speaking about books and the local library, I’ve discovered that if you want to read about Old Norse religion, then you’ll have to look in the science fiction section. I guess I should have known, or what? Most likely, the reason is that I live in a town that used to be a really tiny place, but that’s grown into a major city in the past five years. The politics of the place, though, are still run as if the place was a hamlet, and everything is pretty much controlled by five Dutch families. All five are horse-and-buggy, dyed-in-the-wool Mennonites, so for them it’s of course inconceivable to discuss other religions as anything else than sci-fi…”

Well, I think these Mennonites are definitely onto something. All religions are escapist fiction, so why not science fiction? I hear L. Ron Hubbard wrote some rousing yarns in his day.

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Going Medieval

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There’s childhood and youth and young adulthood. And then comes middle age. I’ve been wondering when my Middle Ages are going to begin. I’ve left the Iron Age of my youth, for sure, and I have a feeling that my Roman Imperial times are drawing to an end. So, the other day, I found the answer. Three weeks from now, I will be closer to 50 than to 20. That must be my AD 409. That’s when the last remaining Imperial officials in the province of Britannia start packing their gear and no longer answer plainly when you ask them how old they are. “Thirty-something” is all they reply.

I’m going Medieval and feeling pretty good about it. The Middle Ages are a long and colourful period with many riddles that can only be answered by living through the era. And then? The Renaissance!

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Hopeful Buttons

Dear Reader, please let me remind you of the Hopeful Buttons to the left under my profile. One will exalt this blog in the eyes of Technorati, the second will allow you to heighten the esteem in which the blog is held by a Swedish ranking engine, and the third will let you look at stuff I would already have bought if I hadn’t put all my money into absinth and bagpipe Whitesnake-tribute concerts.

Four Stone Hearth 11

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It’s a posthole! It’s a rubbish pit! It’s an elk-trapping pit with the remains of a wooden catch box at the bottom! No — it’s a hearth. A Four Stone Hearth! The eleventh carnival in the series, to be precise. And it’s all about humans. As the poet put it,

“Now I’m the king of the swingers
Oh, the jungle VIP
I’ve reached the top and had to stop
And that’s what’s botherin’ me
I wanna be a man, mancub
And stroll right into town
And be just like the other men
I’m tired of monkeyin’ around!”

This is where we all pretend to be human.

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Kurtz

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Dear Reader, are you at heart a shady character? Have you seen the seamy side of things? Is your outlook bleak? Is your appearance disreputable, your gaze shifty, your shirt unwashed, your hair style bedraggled? Are you familiar with spleen, anomie and ennui? Is your mother worried about you?

I mean, Dear Reader, do you miss Joy Division, early Sisters of Mercy, early Jesus & Mary Chain? Don’t. Listen to Kurtz instead — while reading Poe, Huysmans and Baudelaire.
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