I read a recent report from the Swedish Institute of Futures Studies titled Humanisterna och framtidssamhället, “Humanities Scholars and Society in the Future” (freely available as a PDF). I found some but not too much of the usual unrealistic sloganeering about how useful the humanities are to society, and a lot of pretty sobering statistics. In the following note that the typical basic degree in Sweden is the MA. I translate:
“… among those with a basic degree as highest qualification, humanities graduates clearly have the lowest annual incomes in 2008 … Humanities graduates with basic degrees have seen a markedly worse salary development than any other group with basic degrees between 1989 and 2008. … Among PhDs as well the humanities graduates have lower annual incomes than any other specialisation … humanities PhDs have worse annual incomes than business majors, physicians, engineers, dentists and lawyers with basic degrees. … relatively fewer humanities PhDs have very low salaries than other PhDs.” pp. 52-56
“We have compared humanities PhDs with basic-degree humanities graduates … we find that a PhD does lead to a higher annual income as expected, but the difference is less than 4%.” p. 56
“… annual income of PhDs in various subjects … the most notable change is that the annual incomes of social scientists, which were previously  on about the same level as for the humanities, now  have risen visibly. … This is another indication that humanities graduates have lagged behind in their incomes.” p. 57
So the good news is that if you do a PhD in the humanities, then chances are you will not become one of the country’s absolutely worst-paid PhDs. But then, nor will you be able to compete with the income of a generic MBA suit.
I don’t like the loud rattle of dice or the way they careen across the table, scattering game markers and ending up on the floor. And so I’ve been thinking about buying a dice tray. With low walls and a soft interior surface, it solves both problems. When my friend Foaad gave me a huge gift certificate at Dragon’s Lair, one of Stockholm’s best board and card game stores and the only one to my knowledge which offers gaming tables, I decided it was time.
Check out my beautiful new handmade dice trays! Per Landberger makes these without even being an underpaid Third World sweat shop worker. And it took me a while to realise that they’re heptagonal. That’s how crazy this guy is. Order them here.
(I also got the 2011 cooperative boardgame Yggdrasil about the twilight of the Norse Gods — which employs one big chunky six-sided die — and the 6-player expansion for Settlers.)
My musical taste spans half a century, but like many people I have a particular soft spot for musicians of my own age and the albums they made during our 20s. I really love 90s neo-psych. It was disconcerting when these musicians started putting out divorce albums (of Montreal’s brilliant 2007 Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?) and organising reunion tours (The Olivia Tremor Control in 2005). And now they’ve started dying.
Bill Doss of The Olivia Tremor Control and The Apples In Stereo died on 30 July, aged 43. He brought the 60s sunshine pop element to OTC’s mind-bending musical stew, put out some fine tracks with The Sunshine Fix and finally joined The Apples In Stereo for their two latest albums (the Apples being the main vehicle for Robert Schneider who produced OTC’s albums).
Thank you for the music, Bill! You were truly great!
The Curiosity rover / Mars Science Laboratory has landed safely on Mars and is returning data! So now we have two rovers on Mars again, Opportunity and a new one of unprecendented size and instrument sophistication. Curiosity has a laser gun that allows it to measure emission spectra at a distance, an instrument that allows it to identify minerals directly without inference via their elemental composition, and more. Looking forward to new discoveries!
Spent a week gloriously off-line at my mom’s glorious summer house in the archipelago. Oh the joy of reading 300 pages for fun in one day without feeling the need to check e-mail! Here are the books I read:
- Invented Knowledge. False history, fake science and pseudo-religions. Ronald H. Fritze 2009. One amazing essay covers the scifi con-man religion Nation of Islam. Did you know that Louis Farrakhan started out as a calypso singer, and that George Clinton’s Mothership was a concept borrowed from NoI mythology?
- Falling Free. Lois McMaster Bujold 1988. Charming fast-paced scifi. Four-armed gene-mod people optimised for zero-gee! Thanks for the book, Birger!
- Plain Tales from the Raj. Ed. Charles Allen 1975. Colonial India was almost as alien as that scifi novel’s world.
- Medieval Lives. Terry Jones & Alan Ereira 2004. Countless factual gems from Medieval England, like when a besieged nobleman hands his 5-year-old son over as a ransom to the besiegers, and they threaten to toss the child into the fortress with a catapult, and the father yells that he doesn’t care since he still has the hammer and anvils to make a better son. (The kid was never thrown and grew up to become a succesful and violent knight.) Thanks for this one too, Birger!
And the boardgames I played with my buddy Micke and our wives:
- Lord of the Rings: Confrontation
- Lost Cities
- Wok Star
What have you done for fun lately, Dear Reader?