September Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • Did I just tell the students that “polysemic” refers to people who donate repeatedly to sperm banks? Surely not?
  • In mid-70s Dungeons & Dragons, players would often bring their characters from one dungeon master and gaming group to another, effectively skipping between worlds. Unheard of in Swedish 80s and 90s gaming.
  • Annoying: seeing that the next five end-notes in the book I’m reading are just brief citations with no interesting text, making a mental note of this, then forgetting and looking the following end-note up anyway. I wish end-notes would be consistently narrative text or citations, not both in the same book.
  • Easily anthropomorphised bird behaviour: the Common Murre, Sw. sillgrissla, forms couples that rear a single chick on a high rock ledge. When the chick is fledged, the male flies down to the sea surface below the ledge and calls to the chick until it jumps down to dad. Then the male feeds and accompanies the chick until it is ready to become independent.
  • I’ve got two similar keys on my work keyring. Only one of them actually fits the three locks on the office door and iron gate. But of these locks, one doesn’t quite like its key. You have to turn the second, irrelevant key in that lock before the real key will open or close it.
  • Why doesn’t ecologically grown cocoa powder come in large packages? I understand the difference between unit price and kilogram price, thank you very much. Don’t all consumers? If not then they are not fit to live.
  • Was just frustrated to find no watch top right in my paper book.
  • Strangely intimate to shave and brush my teeth at a washstand in Bromma Airport’s co-ed departure-hall bathroom. Better than getting up 20 minutes earlier.
  • I discombobulate students by moving halfway down the room for discussions instead of remaining up front at the lectern.
  • On the walking tour of Kalmar with the students, this oldish lady joined the group out of nowhere. She made the students carry her stuff and asked a lot of slightly off-topic questions in a reasonable and cultured tone. For instance, while I was talking on site about the late-17th century demolition of the old town cathedral, she wanted to know what people over in Kalmar Castle ate in the Middle Ages.
  • Flunked job interview. Got rave reviews on students’ anonymous course evaluation. Don’t know what to think. Maybe I’m good at teaching but bad at job interviews?
  • Do you miss the Beatles and the Super Furry Animals? Then listen to The Dowling Poole’s first album, Bleak Strategies, that came out in April. I love it!
  • Banksy Moon hides in plain sight as Secretary General of the UN.
  • Jr. is on the school LAN party committee. He designed the logo. Jrette is starring in a kids’ science show for Swedish Broadcasting, working two full days a week with this until the end of the year. *proud dad*
  • Being a bookish nerd who doesn’t watch TV, I’ve always had some trouble finding shared points of cultural reference with people. This has become doubly difficult as I’ve begun teaching folks who are in their early 20s, where there’s a major age gap as well.
  • Esprit d’escalier is Treppenwitz in German.
  • Reading a 2004 urban fantasy story about a teenage girl. Personification of slim is “Ally McBeal”, of beautiful is “Britney Spears”.
  • The flying rowan at Kristineberg subway station is still doing well.
  • I really hate the smug claim to a privileged meta-perspective on previous research that is the defining characteristic of post-modernist humanities writing.
  • Slightly outweirded when Facebook suggests that I should befriend an account that represents a Stockholm BDSM club, on the grounds that three of my Fb friends, each from a separate social circle, are buddies with it.
  • I started gradually going bald around when the first seasons of The X-files aired in Sweden, and it was a comfort to me that Mulder’s and Scully’s badass boss Skinner was an honest-to-goodness side-fringy baldy. Mitch Pileggi who played Skinner was 41 when the series started, and here I am now, same age, same hair style, same badass demeanour.
  • “Is that prostitute wearing full plate armour and brandishing a sword?!” “Oh, yeah, that’s Betty. She’s just a complete Ivanhoe, ‘s all.”
  • Swansea = Sveinns ey = Sven’s Island.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

44 thoughts on “September Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Slightly outweirded when Facebook suggests that I should befriend an account that represents a Stockholm BDSM club, on the grounds that three of my Fb friends, each from a separate social circle, are buddies with it.

    The computer does what it’s told to do, not necessarily what you want it to do. Remember that Facebook is an American company. When Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people, too,” he was, from a legal standpoint, technically correct.

    I’ve never joined Facebook. The last e-mail that encouraged me to join listed three prospective “friends”, only one of which was a legitimate connection (a distant relative living in Yokohama). The other two were a furniture store and a self-described “sex Arab”, both in Birmingham, UK, a city I have never visited.

    I am on LinkedIn, which occasionally suggests some odd connections, but nothing quite that strange.


  2. “Same badass demeanour” and sideburns like Wolwerine.
    Shave off all hair and you are McLane from NYPD, dying harder each time.
    “Who are in their early 20s, ”
    (looks at pyramids on TV) “what are those triangular things?”
    “Uh…I think Moses built them. Really long ago, like in the sixties or something.”


  3. (looks at pyramids on TV) “what are those triangular things?”

    Students of history have had some interesting things to say about ancient Egyptians over the years. A classic compilation by former preparatory high school (i.e., the “best and brightest” students) teacher Richard Lederer (archived here) includes this paragraph:

    The inhabitants of Egypt were called mummies. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation. The Egyptians built the Pyramids in the shape of a huge triangular cube. The Pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.


  4. Why doesn’t ecologically grown cocoa powder come in large packages? I understand the difference between unit price and kilogram price, thank you very much. Don’t all consumers?

    You’ve also got to think about shelf life. Not to mention storage space. Or average consumption patterns. Our local supermarket sells 25kg bags of rice, and people who buy them obviously make some savings. But there’s not much point in me buying one. Probably many other reasons for “that” particular sized packet.


  5. Maybe people buying organic cocoa powder (picky grammar note – you can call it ecologically-grown cocoa powder, but not ecological cocoa powder. Sorry) – are assumed to be so economical with the earth’s resources that they’d only ever need a small packet?


  6. @Jane: No, they might want to buy a reasonable amount at the time, so they don’t have to go to the store so frequently to buy more of it, not to mention generating less waste. Put a spoonful into an appropriate quantity of hot water, and put the lid back on the container.

    I can understand why the largest sizes might not be available: supplies may be too limited to offer it in kilogram packages. But a 250 gram package (or close to that, depending what the “standard” sizes are) ought to be available.


  7. But Mal’s always been a bit off.

    Little known fact – AC/DC have sold more albums than the Rolling Stones.

    Onya Mal.

    I was talking to one of the security guys at a concert my daughter dragged me to as her bodyguard, and he said the last gig he’d worked was an AC/DC concert – got the shock of his life when the door opened and out walked a troupe of midgets. He’d always imagined they were these really big nasty guys. No, they’re tiny wee little fellas. Malcolm and Angus were both 5’1″ at their peak.


  8. If this is to be a mini-memorial to Malcolm Young, Keith Richards once said that Mal is the best rhythm guitarist in rock music of all time.


  9. The rowan is sitting on a triffid!
    — — —
    OT, This is more for American skeptics, I am adding it if any of them is reading: Creationists often claim Hitler believed in evolution, and blame this for the holocaust.
    Hitler did not!
    The word often translated into “an evolutionary higher stage of being”* (which, by the way, isn’t an evolutionary concept anyway) was “Höherzüchtung”. That’s not evolution. A literal translation would be “higher breeding”. So it’s a very misleading way to quote it.
    AH: “The act (racial mixing) which brings about such a development is a sin against the will of the Eternal Creator. And as a sin this act will be avenged.”


  10. Chinese Science Fiction Translation Project

    Kickstarter worth supporting: translating international sci-fi into English, to the benefit and eddy-fication of us all!


  11. (OT) BBC Exposes Fraudulent ‘Psychics’

    “The BBC did an expose where they caught three “psychics” faking it with a very clever trap. They planted a fake story on a website about a guy who once ran a chocolate factory and invited the “psychics” to tour the factory and communicate with the spirits there. And wouldn’t you know it, they came up with all the details of the fake story that had been planted.” BWAHAHAHAHAHA.
    — — — — —
    Nobel prize for physics 2014: Inventors of blue LED (making white LED light possible)


  12. Psychics have generally mastered an occasionally useful skill, namely the ability to tell someone what he wants to hear.

    There was a brief mention on the TV show West Wing (source), quoted in Bob Parks’ “What’s New” column:

    This week’s episode of the popular TV drama opened with the sacred words “It’s called the theory of everything.” It’s delivered by a guy who is bedridden. . . . He tells the White House spokeswoman to lead with the announcement that physicists have answered the big question. She strides into the press room, stares confidently at the bloodthirsty Washington press corps and says “Psychics at Cal Tech and Fermi Lab…”


  13. As the post-election debates continue, a recurring theme is that people who vote for SD often live in small towns and villages that are becoming depopulated as no long-term employment is available and mainstream political parties are seen as having turned their backs.
    Voting for SD is thus a final desperate protest by many marginalised people who actually do not share the xenophobic world-view if the party.


  14. Aand …Prehistoric paintings suggest Indonesians began making art 40,000 years ago
    Pre-dating Lascaeux!
    (Of course, this is not against the stereotype that oriental blokes are brilliant but cunning and unreliable)
    — — —
    I just found out that the Australian government is making further big cuts to science. The wankers do not comprehend the correlation between basic science and long-term growth.


  15. a recurring theme is that people who vote for SD often live in small towns and villages that are becoming depopulated as no long-term employment is available

    This is very much a part of the Republican/Tea Party dynamic in the US. Both of my parents grew up on the Great Plains. The old prairie conservatism that they grew up with no longer exists; it has been replaced, as in the American South, with Fox News-fueled paranoia and hate. And except for the fracking boomtowns of North Dakota, people who have options elsewhere are moving away, and have been for decades.

    My mother has said that she might be able to adapt to the cuisine and climate of her native South Dakota, but she could never get used to the politics. The small town near her father’s ranch has effectively ceased to exist.


  16. Birger #22 – your description of the Australian governent is fully justified.

    The year my daughter enrolled in the first year of her science degree, we were delighted to discover that the government had given a 25% fee reduction to encourage more students to enter science courses – they were frantic with worry because enrolment in science had dropped to such a low lever. This was to be a part of a ‘long term programme’ to encourage more students to take science.

    Two years later, the fee reduction was gone. Two years – that’s pretty long term in Australian political terms.


  17. They are conflating gender ratio with normative Chinese behaviour.

    They should try Western Australia, if they can find it in their atlas


  18. Retraction Watch notes the case of fictitious author Stronzo Bestiale (which is Italian for “total asshole”) and asks, “Should papers be retracted if one of the authors is a total asshole?”. The earliest known example is “Diffusion in a periodic Lorentz gas,” Bill Moran, William G. Hoover, and Stronzo Bestiale, Journal of Statistical Physics, vol. 48, no. 3-4 (1987): 709-726. Reportedly, Hoover added Bestiale as a co-author after two journals (Physical Review Letters and Journal of Statistical Physics rejected the manuscript.

    (via the Improbable Research blog)


  19. Those Demonic Toys, Cartoons and Games of the 80s.
    If you throw a D&D game in the fire, you’ll hear the screams of demons:

    In the 60s it was Ouija boards that screamed if you threw them into fires.


  20. Birger @33: Those are the same people who have claimed that jazz/rock-and-roll/hip hop (depending on decade) are the Devil’s music, that you can hear demonic messages if you play certain records backwards, and that Harry Potter is causing kids to turn to witchcraft. In support of the last, they point to an article which actually appeared in the Onion, apparently unaware that the Onion is satire. I suspect these people are the intellectual heirs of earlier scolds who blamed society’s ills on card playing and the demon rum.


  21. Eric, let us not forget Be-bop. And 150 years ago, it was the fiddle and the Swedish bagpipe. The church actually managed to exterminate the bagpipe (I am told it was simpler than its Scottish cousin, and presumably even worse-sounding).


  22. Echopraxia (Peter Watts)
    Online review: “H.P. Lovecraft once wrote, “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age”
    As it turned out, Lovecraft was predicting Peter Watts.”


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