Blogger Gets Top Job Offer As Comment

My dear SciBling and fellow big-nose European, Bora/Coturnix, has a wonderful story to tell! After seeing an interesting job ad (regarding a position as on-line community manager for the Open Access journal publishing house Public Library of Science) he blogged about it and said he’d really like the job. In a matter of hours, a PLoS editor commented on Bora’s blog and asked if the blog entry should be considered as a formal job application — and Bora got the job! I gather what did it was a combination of his excellent blogging and the way he interacts with his many readers in the comments section.

Congratulations, Bora!

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500 Hidden Plastic Jars

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Dear Reader, I have a confession to make. During the past two years I have invested a lot of time, effort and gasoline into locating 500 plastic jars, most of which were hidden under rocks. Some were in crevices in stone walls, others fastened with magnets behind metal fuseboxes and the like. Many were at scenic spots or among strange ruins. I used the Global Positioning System to find those jars. Sometimes I had to solve riddles and conundrums to get the coordinates. Often I have risen at dawn on weekends and gone out to seek tupperware while my family enjoyed a lazy morning. And you know what? I enjoyed it!

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Carnivalesque 27

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Welcome, everyone, to Aardvarchaeology and the 27th Carnivalesque blog carnival! Aard is a blog about archaeology and skepticism and stuff, hosted here at ScienceBlogs among a bunch of natural-science blogs, most covering the life sciences. Carnivalesque deals in Ancient, Medieval and (in even-numbered instalments) Early Modern history, subjects in which I am interested but of which I am largely ignorant. Yes, I am a prehistorian. Let me classify your kitchen ware and section the contents of your cess pit! Let me put the cremated fragments of your skeleton in a neatly labeled plastic bag! Just don’t expect me to know about kings and battles and named people, OK?
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Ebba During 1937-2007

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Photograph from Per Dahlberg’s blog.

Woah, I don’t like the attrition rate among my colleagues right now. Magnus at Testimony of the Spade informs me that professor emerita Ebba During died on Tuesday 15 May after a battle with illness. Ebba was an osteologist, which means that like all Swedish bone people she combined the specialities of physical anthropology and animal osteology.

For years and years, Ebba taught osteology on the snug premises in Ulriksdal outside Stockholm made available by the archaeologist-king Gustavus VI Adolphus. Her manner was kindly and unassuming. Yet her published work treats a number of very high-profile sites, such as the Alvastra dolmen, the Alvastra pile dwelling and the 17th century warships Vasa and Kronan.

Ebba’s colleagues are currently writing something about her, and I hope to offer their piece as a guest entry here soon here’s their piece.

Update 17 June: Obits in Swedish available at Dagens Nyheter and Ting och Tankar.

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Medieval Monastic Graffitti

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One of the most recent additions to the on-line catalogue of the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm is deliciously enigmatic. It’s a little sandstone tablet (SHM 18011:100) measuring 73 by 60 mm, covered on both sides with vaguely script-like and architectonic graffitti. The edges are neatly notched, prompting a museum curator to suggest in the inventory notes that the tablet may have been intended as a yarn spool, nystvända. But no-one really knows.

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The tablet was found by Sigurd Curman’s team in 1919 during excavations among the ruins of the nunnery of Vreta in Östergötland. The find spot was in the south-west corner of the nunnery’s smaller quad. Vreta is within sight of my late-1st Millennium site in Kaga parish. A Benedictine nunnery was founded there c. AD 1110 as Sweden’s first documented monastic institution. In 1162 it was handed over to the Cistercian order, and remained so until the Reformation. The last documentary mention of nuns at Vreta dates from 1562.

My buddy Göran Tagesson has recently re-opened excavations at Vreta to study something that may have been a baptisterium, an subterranean baptismal pool. Check his site out!

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Technorati Quits Ranking Us

Popular blog indexing service Technorati has revamped its graphic design and appears to have quit ranking blogs. Now how will I know if I have any personal worth?

Technorati keeps track of how many different sites have linked to yours over the past six months. This figure is called your blog’s “authority”. Engadget, Boingboing and Gizmodo are currently the top three, with authority assessments of over 19,000. The most popular ScienceBlog, Pharyngula, has authority 2,629. Aard currently has authority 266.

Until yesterday, Technorati provided a ranking figure along with your authority assessment. Aard was ranked about 14,000, which meant that there were about 14,000 other blogs with the same or greater authority. From now on, I will have to do without that information. But I can still look at the list of blogs tagged “archaeology”, for instance, where Aard is currently ranked #2 worldwide.

I wonder if they got rid of the ranking figures because of processing-power constraints or simply because they found out they had been miscalculating them all along.

Update 29 May: The ranking figures are back. Phew. Heading for 13,000!

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Hyphenation is a Drag

15 years ago, the word processing software I used was WordPerfect 5.1. It wouldn’t be able to compete with any current software, except for one thing: hyphenation. I have yet to see any word processing or type setting software with hyphenation as good as that of WordPerfect 5.1.

I co-edit two journals typeset by two different people, and the beyond all comparison most common proof error I have to correct is crappy hyphenation. This is a big deal in Swedish where composite words are written without spaces or hyphens, just like in German. Automatic hyphenation always screws up when the second component starts with a vowel or multiple consonants. In English, without the space or hyphen, you’d get hyphenations like “psychoa-nalysis”, “irono-re”, “spacea-lien”, “stormt-rooper” and “ringw-raith”.

Bronsåldern and järnåldern, the Bronze and Iron Ages, cannot be hyphenated bron-såldern and jär-nåldern. Nor is bol-mört or hor-nuggla something I’d like to subject our readers to.

WordPerfect 5.1 had an easily accessible list of hyphenation exceptions. The first time I saw bron-såldern, I taught the program to hyphenate that brons-ål-dern, and then the problem was solved, permanently. Well, not permanently. Only until I switched to Microsoft Word.

I wonder if those exception lists are still around, but hidden in today’s bloated software packages, so that nobody knows how to use them.

New Novella by Michael Allen

i-58f2cce20cdc3d2dd1f9a4917e5c8d74-pp90c4cfe8.pngMichael Allen, a.k.a. the Grumpy Old Bookman, has a new novella out for free download: Mr Fenman’s Farewell to His Readers. It’s historical fiction with an unreliable narrator. I can’t wait to read it!

“Who was the mysterious Madame de Mentou? And how did she become such an expert teacher in many different art forms? These are the questions which the writer Thomas Fenman addresses in a brief memoir which was written a few months before his death. Fenman’s puzzling memoir is now published for the first time; Michael Allen provides a scholarly introduction.”

To really round this post-modern literary treat off, Allen also appears to have published a pseudonymous spoofed lit-crit study of the novella under the pen-name R. Gowan Haverges, which looks a lot like an anagram to me. “Grow a grave, Shane”?

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Blog Carnival Call for Submissions

Wednesday 23 May will see the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival appear in all its archaeo/anthro glory at Greg Laden’s blog. If you have read or blogged anything good on those themes lately, then make sure to submit it to Greg ASAP. (Yes, you can submit stuff you’ve found on other people’s blogs.)

I’m hosting a blog carnival myself on Thursday 24 May: Carnivalesque, on Ancient and Medieval history. Please help me stock that carnival with good reading matter! Submit here.