December Pieces Of My Mind #1

There will be a spring after winter! They're planting bulbs down at the Saltsjöbaden Centrum mall.
There will be a spring after winter! They’re planting bulbs down at the Saltsjöbaden Centrum mall.
  • Anglophones, why do you say “might” instead of “may” when expressing uncertainty? If you’re certain, you say “I’ll eat some bread”. If uncertain, you sometimes just say “I may eat some bread”. But usually you form a needless subjunctive, “I might eat some bread”. Sometimes you even use this mode to express certainty! I sometimes wonder if you aim at grammatical optimisation at all. Do you even know that ”may” and ”might” are the same verb?
  • Some people are angry because they have no voice in public discourse. I sort of have. Instead I’m annoyed because public discourse mainly deals with topics I don’t give a shit about.
  • I saw chewing tobacco marketed with the selling point that some of its constituent leaves are grown in Sweden. AFAIK that just lowers the quality of the product.
  • Listening to a radio programme about Kafka’s The Trial I am reminded that personalitywise, I am almost completely incapable of appreciating or identifying with Kafka’s neurotic worldview.
  • Somebody asked me if I wanted to bet on the outcome of the repeated parliamentary election. My first thought was “What? That’s an empirical issue. You don’t bet on it. You wait and observe it.” I never did see the point of betting or gambling.
  • Who’s making a mashup of “Wrecking Ball”, “Balls to the Wall” and “The Wall”?
  • With the current Swedish political situation in mind, I am particularly proud of my dad today. His Polish cleaning lady of many years’ standing was hassled by the building society about the constantly leaky/clogged drain in her apartment. My dad waded in with the big guns, including professional builder’s expertise, and got the whole thing sorted for her.
  • Sweden’s biggest group of contract archaeology units is moving from the umbrella of the National Heritage Board to that of the Swedish History Museum. Because the Board is responsible for quality control in Swedish contract archaeology. And so shouldn’t also be the main undertaker of such work.
  • Can we have some forward-looking scifi again please? I don’t want to hear another word about Star Wars.
  • I left the sour dough out for too long. The current batch of bread smells like garbage can. Tastes fine though when toasted.
  • A book reminded me of the exquisite childhood feeling when we’d been at the summer house for weeks and came home again, everything familiar yet strange.
  • My wife just got out of bed over at the other end of the house. I know because she liked one of my Facebook posts.
  • After being asked, and after thinking the issue over for about 0.25 secs, Andreas Viberg and I have decided not to give any interviews or image rights regarding our Viking Period research to right-wing extremist publications.
  • As the husband of a woman who enjoys good male looks, I’ve come to realise lately that the orthodontist who fixed my protruding front teeth during adolescence had a huge influence upon my adult life.
  • Suddenly reminded of Asterix’s Gothic buddies Rhet-Oric and Meth-Odic.
  • You say “artefact biography”. I say “anecdotal ad-hoc explanation”.
  • The 2nd Vice Chair of the Swedish Parliament said the other day that Jews and Saami aren’t real Swedes. He’s previously come down hard against the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. He needs to go.

Author: Martin R

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

19 thoughts on “December Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. As someone who is 50 % Finn, 25 % Swede, and 25 % Saami, that last one kind of nauseates me. I have never understood racism of any form, and it saddens the heck out of me.

    Well hell, i’d like to think if i were Maori, Mayan, and Magyar, i’d still be nauseated by racism! I may have an unusually optimistic view of humanity, including myself, however….

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  2. “Can we have some forward-looking scifi again please?”

    Peter Watts: Echopraxia”, Old classic by Stanislaw Lem: “Fiasco”. William Gibson: “Peripheral”. The latest wossname book that Peter F.Hamilton has published, forgot the name. And look for next novels by Alastair Reynolds and Neal Asher.

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  3. On the first point: “May” indicates that you have permission to do something (contrast with “can”, meaning you have the capability to do something). That distinction has faded during my lifetime, but it’s a plausible explanation for the “may” vs. “might” distinction. Give it another century or two.

    As for election betting, it’s not that different from short-term stock market investing. You are betting that the company’s stock price will rise in the next few months, days, hours, or even (if you are a high-frequency trading algorithm) milliseconds. That, like elections, is an empirically observable thing. (I distinguish this from long-term investing, where your goal is to share in the wealth the company claims to be creating.)

    That parliament guy would, unfortunately, fit in with governing bodies in too many countries. For historical reasons US politicians cannot define “American” quite so narrowly, but there is a definite sense in a certain party that people with skin much darker than mine (including people whose ancestors were here long before anybody had heard of Columbus) cannot be fully American. For most of my life, a politician could not say this openly, but unfortunately this barrier seems to be breaking down.

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  4. As for forward-looking SF, there’s Kim Stanley Robinson. I read 2312 earlier this year–I don’t know if it’s his latest, but it’s fairly recent–and he depicts a human race trying to grapple with problems (including, unfortunately, wanton destruction by political nihilists). I’ve also read his Mars trilogy and Antarctica.

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  5. Yeah as a mid-west American, I recall even being taught the difference between can, and may, not so much might.

    subject can do something – means the subject is physically capable of doing something.

    subject may do something – means the subject has permission to do something, either from parents, or law or something else.

    subject might do something – means there is reasonable probability that the subject will do it, or not. No capability or permission implied.

    This gets messed up speaking because one often hears “Can I get a soda?” when “May I get a soda?” would be more correct according to the rules above. But “Can I?” is such an ingrained usage it might take over totally.

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  6. Yeah Markk has it right. You could say “I may have some lussekatter” but, particularly when written or spoken without voice inflection this could reasonably be understood to mean that someone gave you permission. When spoken, you’d have to emphasize the “may” lest you be misunderstood: “I MAY have some lussekatter”.

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  7. We should sell ready-made nithstangs to tourists!
    — — —
    Lovecraft was raised by his mother as a girl during his earliest years. The opposite practice exists in Khost province in Afghanistan; a son is so important that -as a substitute- families without sons sometimes raise a girl as a son. As adults these women can never marry and are seen as “narkahazak”; eunuchs.
    — — — —
    What Chtonians live on? “Earth’s deep crust could support widespread life” http://www.nature.com/news/earth-s-deep-crust-could-support-widespread-life-1.16575

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  8. I stand corrected. Goseck circle (ca. 4900 BC) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goseck_circle Archaeologists and state officials have reconstructed the wooden palisade of the circle. Woodworkers worked with hand tools so that the wooden posts would look more authentic. The site was opened to public on 21 December 2005, the winter solstice.

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  9. The Yule cat from Iceland:
    Scandinavia and the World: Evil Christmas Kitten http://satwcomic.com/christmas-kitten
    .
    -The Yule Cat is a monster from Icelandic folklore, a huge and vicious cat said to lurk about the snowy countryside during Christmastime and eat people who have not received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve.
    The Yule Cat has become associated with other figures from Icelandic folklore as the house pet of the giantess Grýla and her sons, the Yule Lads
    ..
    The number of the Yule Lads has varied throughout the ages, but currently they are considered to be thirteen. They put rewards or punishments into shoes placed by children in window sills during the last thirteen nights before Christmas Eve. Every night, one Yuletide lad visits each child, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on the child’s behavior throughout the year.

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  10. ‘might’ is no longer considered a subjunctive of any sort. Rather, ‘may’, ‘might’ and a couple more are modal auxiliary verbs with no inflection at all – and, in this case, a dwindling difference in meaning.

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