October Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • What are the best arguments to keep your home wifi password protected? I think it’s a pain in the ass. My retired neighbour makes prophecies of doom involving child pornographers standing around with laptops outside my fence, distributing contraband files and leaving me to do the jail time.
  • I tell my students that the two most important pieces of information I’ll be handing out, the ones they should remember after they’ve forgotten everything else from Scandy Archaeology 101, are these. 1. Agriculture starts in 3950 BC. 2. From that time and 5000 years on, most Scandies live in post-borne wooden long houses.
  • I miss my toddlers sitting on my lap.
  • Medieval Scandy laws didn’t differentiate between rape of and consenting extramarital canoodling with other men’s wives and daughters. The main wronged party in either case was the man who owned control over the woman’s sexual favours and fertility. A man raping his own wife was a contradiction in terms and no concern of the judicial system.
  • The burp at the start of Saint Vitus’s doom boogie tune “Thirsty and Miserable” sounds a lot like the one at the start of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.
  • Jrette is now so old and mature that not only does she have no interest in pink conical Bratz(tm) party hats, she thought I was joking when I found some and asked.
  • I put a tray on the conveyor belt at airport security. The guy behind me in line puts his laptop into it and ignores me. I put another tray on the belt. He puts his jacket into it, still ignoring me. Dafuq?
  • A week ago I emailed my local public library and asked for an inter-library loan. They just texted me that they’ve got the book for me. This is on a multi-ethnic working-class council housing estate.
  • Lasagna typifies dishes that, though they may be tasty enough, aren’t worth the time and effort compared to quicker and easier recipes with similarly tasty outcomes.
  • Using Google Translate to communicate with cleaning lady. Good thing I tested the output phrase by retranslating it before printing. The first version I got when translating “How is your back?” meant “How is your eyesight?”
  • Soon remodelling of the Slussen traffic bottleneck in Stockholm will add 5-10 minutes to my daily commute for a period of years. I look forward to investigating whether the Nacka strand to Nybroplan commuter boat will gain me any time.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1998 novel Antarctica is set in some nearish future where Earth’s human population is ten billion. But they still use faxes, modems and chemical photography. And there’s no wifi.
  • Ha! Screw you, Telenor! I found two of the comfy chairs in another part of the Bromma airport departures hall!
  • Insight: a planet’s rotational poles will only be cold if the axis is roughly at right angles to the planet’s orbit around the star.
  • After a day working at home I’d quite like to be chased by the Nazgûl.

Author: Martin R

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

18 thoughts on “October Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. I got stuck at “post-borne” thinking it meant “after post-something”
    —- —- —
    in 3950 BC… June 2nd, possibly early in the aftrenoon.
    —- —- —– —-
    BTW got a megacold night after meeting Martin and his students last Monday, has been at home trying to squeeze some air past the gunk clogging the lungs and throat.
    Went on a bus stil dizzy from cold, used wrong card and now i have two period bus cards ticking away in parallel, making me go broke twice as fast…

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  2. There is a good article in Science, Oct 10 about organic artefacts found preserved in stable snow patches, not quite the same thing as the (mobile) glaciers.
    Norway has artefacts thawing out in patches that started to grow 7000 years ago. Viking-age and older stuff must be collected in a hurry, since they do not last out of ther snow.

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  3. (OT) Is anyone here knowledgeable about old Celtic holidays? A Muslim authority in Malaysia has issued a religious edict (a fatwa) saying that the celebration of Halloween is against Islamic law and should not be celebrated by any Muslims.
    Ironically, part of the reason given is that Halloween is a “Christian holiday.”
    http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/trick-or-treat-fatwa-council-bars-muslims-from-celebrating-halloween
    — — — — —
    I see the Australian government is closing the borders to people from the region of the Ebola outbreak. Since this is irrelevant to disease control, I assume this is just another pretext to keep the darkies away.

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  4. As most of the Africans I see in Oz are from the Sudan and Somalia, the plan is clearly not going to work very well.

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  5. On computer translations: Fifteen years ago a group of us were preparing for a visit to Munich, including one guy who was going to stay a few extra days. This guy didn’t know much German, so he had Babelfish (the leading translation service at the time) tell him about the displays at the Deutsches Museum. Including the one titled, “The Sun: Our Next Asterisk”.

    Birger @3: Halloween actually did originate as a Christian holiday: it’s the eve of All Saints Day. The latter is still celebrated in much of Latin America as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Like Christmas, the holiday has accumulated lots of secular and/or pagan traditions, but the imam who issued that fatwa isn’t entirely wrong.

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  6. Eric, I read an article in Science August 8th about new circuits better suited for language processing or pattern recognition in images.
    And unrelated progress with neural networks are also improving language processing. In a few years we might actually see computers that are able to do what we saw in SF films. But no true AI, not yet.
    — — —
    Skeptic alert: OK Teacher To Be Quarantined for Going Nowhere Near Ebola http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/11/03/ok-teacher-to-be-quarantined-for-going-nowhere-near-ebola/
    It is closer from Sweden to Northern Iran than from Liberia to Rwanda. Stupid fuckers think Africa is a country.

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  7. (OT) Peruvian dig reveals sacrificial mystery http://phys.org/news/2014-10-peruvian-reveals-sacrificial-mystery.html
    — — — — — — — — —
    “a planet’s rotational poles will only be cold if the axis is roughly at right angles to the planet’s orbit around the star.”
    -But during winter, you get a nearly eternal night, so the temperature swings will be extreme.
    -Another factor for warmth is how excentric the planetary orbit is. Earth has a nearly circular orbit, but for Mars this adds another source of temperature swings on top of the tilt of the rotational axis. And for Mercury these variations are huge.

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  8. “a planet’s rotational poles will only be cold if the axis is roughly at right angles to the planet’s orbit around the star.”
    -But during winter, you get a nearly eternal night, so the temperature swings will be extreme.

    True. However, the corresponding statement that the highest annual average temperatures will occur in the equatorial regions is indeed only true if the angle between the rotational axis and the orbital plane is close enough to 90 degrees. I haven’t done the calculation myself, but IIRC the latitude of maximum insolation moves off the equator if the axial tilt exceeds about 35 degrees (assuming a circular orbit). That’s because the long summer days with the sun passing nearly overhead more than offset the long winter nights. (Insolation is proportional to the cosine of the solar zenith angle when the sun is above the horizon, but cannot be less than zero no matter how far below the horizon the sun is.) And in the polar regions, those long summer days with the sun well above the horizon would be enough to melt any winter ice that did form there.

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  9. How is it that your cleaning lady does not speak Swedish or English?

    I once stayed with a family friend in Antwerp. When she spoke to the cleaning lady, in standard Flemish, I could understand most of what she said, but when the cleaning lady responded, in her own local dialect, I understood not a thing.

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