Auditioning to Replace Freddie Mercury

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The other day Dr. Isis made comment no 10,000 here on Aard. Lucky it wasn’t one of the hate commenters that swarmed the blog around that time! Because the prize I decided on for commenter 10^4 was a song, and it could have become awkward. Now, If you want to hear me do a Queen song, head on over to the good doctor’s place.

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Swedish Research Council Releases Funding Lists

The Swedish Research Council just released the list of researchers who are getting funding this year. The following archaeological projects are on the list.

  • Ingela Bergman: Trade, trade routes and Sami settlements — socio-economic networks in northern Sweden AD 1000-1500.
  • Gunilla Eriksson: Individual relationships — cultural diversity and interaction in Neolithic Poland.
  • Henrik Gerding: Lateres coctiles — the early use of fired brick in Europe.
  • Ulf Hansson: “The Linnaeus of Archaeology” — Adolf Furtwängler and the great systematisation of Classical Antiquity.
  • Ragnar Hedlund: Propaganda and dialogue — visual media and societies in the Roman empire.
  • Kristian Kristiansen: National data base for rock-carving documentation and research.
  • Johan Ling: Was copper ore mined in Sweden during the Bronze Age? Reality, mode of thought or myth? A comparative study of lead isotopes between bronze objects and copper ore in Dalsland, Värmland and north-east SmÃ¥land provinces.

Congratulations, guys! There is almost always somebody on the list that makes me whince and grind my teeth, but not this time. Eriksson and Ling are awesome, they really deserve some dough.

Weekend Fun

Friday night, I made tacos and chocolate chip cookies with my kids. Saturday, I attended the Imagicon 2 speculative fiction conference, chairing a panel on time travel and forming part of a panel on legal aspects of interstellar empires without faster-than-light travel. I also talked to loads of people and bought a 70s paperback edition of Shea & Wilson’s Illuminatus books, which I haven’t read before.

Today I finished and submitted a review essay, which is sort of work but fun too, especially since it’s the first time I’ve been commissioned by a major newspaper to write something. And as I type these words I have just sent off an audio file to Dr. Isis with the song she won by making comment no 10,000. Recording it was super fun, so when I was done I wrote to the editor of Escape Pod and offered my services as a narrator.

And you, Dear Reader? What did you do for fun this weekend?

Dr. Isis Makes 10,000th Aard Comment

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Dr. Isis made the 10,000th comment here on Aard earlier today! Flatteringly, she said that I had made half the women on the Internet lose their shit. I simply know not my own strength.

It took two years and almost ten months to get to 10,000. As her prize, I hereby offer to call the good doctor trans-Atlantic at a time to be agreed on and sing her the Queen song (naturally) of her choice.

*howls* “I was just a skinny lad, never knew no good from bad, but I knew life before I left my nursery…”

Misogynist?

The entry about the Fake Advertising Mom provoked a reaction I didn’t see coming. I said that pregnancy and nursing changes a woman’s body in plainly visible ways and that the fake moms in ads usually show no such signs, in addition to being too young to be realistic mothers of the children they’re photographed with. This, to my mind, was a feminist observation.

I picked up feminism from my first wife who had been a women’s-lib radical on the extreme left during the 70s. In that mode of thinking, feminists accept and celebrate the female body for what it is. Attempting to look like 20 when you’re 35 is seen as a symptom of patriarchal repression. Such a feminist doesn’t shave and wears her stretch marks with pride.

Instead I got this barrage of angry comments and blog responses from people who think that it is misogynistic to suggest that a woman cannot look like 20 at 35 and after becoming a mom. This reminds me of the Onion’s headline, “Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does“. My critics apparently buy into the skinny waif ideal, they assume that I do too, and so they automatically conclude that I’m hostile to women. Not true.

To me, it’s sad to see a woman touting her ability to get skinny again after childbirth as a virtue. Sweetheart, you don’t need to look like the models in the ads. And, frankly, once that first baby pops out, you will never look quite like a girl again. My point is that you really shouldn’t want to. (The men don’t mind. That’s why children get siblings.)

And to those who think that men have no right to voice an opinion on these matters, I’d just like to take this opportunity to thumb my nose.

For a characteristically wise and graceful (though slightly condescending) treatment of the issue, see this entry by the incomparable Dr. Isis.

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Fake Advertising Mom

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Autumn is starting to get nasty in Sweden, and immediately the Fake Advertising Mom pops up on billboards and in magazines. Sometimes she’s even part of a Fake Advertising Family.

Here’s what I mean. I don’t claim 100% accuracy, but I believe I can usually tell on sight whether a woman has given birth and nursed a baby or not. It’s part of the difference between girls and women. There is also the simple issue of at what age women usually have kids in the West. So when the travel agencies want to illustrate parenthood and show us a cute 7-y-o kid being held by a really pretty, pert, skinny woman in her late 20s, I just shake my head. It’s obvious. They stick a kid model onto the lap of a grownup female model who has no kids, and sometimes they also equip the pair with a grinning hunk of a male model with good hair, playing dad.

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Somewhere outside the picture frame is the kid’s real mom. She’s not in her 20s and she has given birth and has nursed and is probably not skinny, though most likely pretty too, and she has the build of a woman. During the photo shoot she’s probably sitting around with the kid’s dad whose hair is going and who isn’t skinny either. I’d be more open to buying a ticket if the ads featured real families instead.

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Anti-Monarchist

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Last night somebody googled the phrase “martin rundqvist republikan” and ended up here on my blog. Note the K: this person probably didn’t wonder if I’d vote for Sarah Palin. They wondered what I think about the Swedish constitution, which provides the country with a decorative king. Outside the US, “republican” means “anti-monarchist”. And yes, I am an anti-monarchist. I think it’s a disgrace that the Scandy countries, which are among the world’s strongest democracies, are still symbolic monarchies. And I think it’s deeply wrong that the hapless royals are born into their golden cage.

But there’s a paradoxical twist to this issue. When polled, most Swedes voice strong support for the current constitution and the royal house. So although monarchy is by its very nature undemocratic, it would be undemocratic to take monarchy away from the Swedish voters. Republikanism (with a K) is in fact a minority position of the intellectual elite in Scandinavia. And if we’d decide that anybody who supports monarchy is too stupid to be allowed to vote, then bang goes our strong democracy. So I tend not to think too much about the issue.

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My House is a Wasp Condom

I lost the battle against the wasp nest: no matter how many workers I vacuumed, it still hung on. And now our house is full of groggy young queen wasps. It seems that the last thing a wasp nest does before shutting down for good is discharge a bunch of queens who will hibernate and then start new nests come spring. But these queens are racing into a trap.

The nest has two main exits. One out into the chilly open air. The other into the comfy warmth of the Rundkvist household. And we haven’t been able to locate and stop up the latter opening. So when one of these young ladies is set to leave the nest — which exit do you think she prefers? The parallel that comes to me unbidden is that of a condom: the wasp nest is ejaculating its little emissaries, and my house is one big latex contraceptive.

Though unusually large, they’re quite pitiful creatures, unaggressive, already sleepy, looking for a decent hiding place to crash out in. I grab them from the south-facing windows with a piece of kitchen roll and end their suffering with little crispy noises.

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