February Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Boomer neighbour calls me and tells me his water meter reads “420”. “You’re such a stoner” is what I avoid replying.
  • Every year my employers each send me a piece of paper telling me how much they’ve told the tax man that I’ve earned. A few months later, the tax man sends me a piece of paper telling me how much my employers have told me that I’ve earned. In a quarter century of managing my own money, I’ve never had any use whatsoever for the first piece of paper. In recent years I’ve begun sticking it straight into the recycling bin.
  • When the kids in the Minecraft videos that Jrette watches describe a really tall structure they call it “higher than Snoop Dogg”.
  • Swedish problems: the municipality delivers brown paper recycling bags to our doorstep faster than we can use them.
  • The German word for catfish, Wels, is cognate with “whale”. And it’s been borrowed into English, where the species native to Northern Europe is called “wels catfish”.
  • I want to go to the Abrolhos Islands and drink atholl brose.
  • If you plant an apple seed you will get a tree whose fruit looks very little like the original apple. This is because the seed shares only half of its DNA with the tree on which the apple grew.
  • I particularly love Wikipedia as a translation tool. It would be so hard to find translations for specialised terminology without it.
  • I just taught a small bird that if you peck angrily at the Rundkvist family’s kitchen window ledge, then hemp seed appears in the bird feeder.
  • Hey archaeologists who have pondered the term “ceremonial site” — the Woodland Cemetery south of Stockholm has one that’s labelled as such on the plan. Wonder no more!
  • Recruitment of Swedish university faculty is a complicated process at the best of times. Now it’s stalled entirely in this one case. An application reviewer has gone incommunicado. I figure this is a good thing. The competition isn’t racking up qualifications faster than me, and as time passes the chance increases that they will accept other positions.
  • One day in 1513 Stockholm brass founder Henrik was speaking with town councillor Olof and his wife outside their home while trade goods were being winched up to their storage attic. A large packet of dried fish (pike, as it happens) fell from the crane and killed Henrik.
  • Sad because I just learned that funny Twitter regular Hanna Fange, the self-described “Truck Dyke”, died two weeks ago.
  • There’s currently no way to purge yourself of the potentially mind-altering cat/rat parasite Toxoplasma gondii. But I’d like to know if I’ve got it — half of humanity has. And I wonder if there’s already a way to push the infection load down, like with HIV.
  • Imagine a Christian writer who, out of religious humility, denies himself the right to comment on the central tenets of faith in the Bible. Instead he devotes his life to finding the most mundane, quotidian verses and ascribing spiritual significance to them.
  • Cantonese is more similar to the Yellow River origins of Chinese than is Mandarin. It hasn’t undergone the same changes introduced by invaders from the north. Cantonese is the Icelandic of China.
  • Brits, Americans, seriously. If you’d just keep a population registry like civilised countries, you could get rid of the whole “register to vote” procedure. As a Swedish citizen with a known address, I just go to the polling station and say hello.
  • Kind of funny how the black and white face paint favoured by extreme metal bands goes back to the 70s bands that gave us “I Was Made For Loving You Baby”, “I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night” and “No More Mister Nice Guy”.
  • “I tried to be a homosexual. But it was only half in Ernest.” /Ivor Biggun
  • Summing up his philosophy towards the end of his autobiography, Somerset Maugham reveals himself as really an extremely acute thinker. He shares my opinions on almost everything.
  • Early versions of MS-DOS had a BASIC interpreter called GW-BASIC. Wikipedia offers several interpretations of the G and the W: Greg Whitten, Gee-Whiz, Graphics Windows, Gates William, Gates-Whitten.
  • The International Space Station’s trash is customarily sent to burn up from friction heat upon re-entry into the atmosphere. This time a camera will document what it looks like from inside the vehicle.
  • Through what is widely known as the most absurd coincidence in all of linguistics, the Maya city Chichen Itza’s name actually does mean “chicken pizza”.
  • I knew that one American rocketry pioneer was an occultist: Jack Parsons. Now Ken & Robin tell me that Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in Russia was also an occultist.
  • Mindblowing. A legal expert serving the Swedish Racist Party in Brussels has been unmasked posting hateful entries full of anti-Semitic and misogynistic slurs on a public on-line forum up until just a few months ago. And now he explains that he was still “rather immature” at the time!
  • Made a wry remark in my diary because my annual 1 January taking-stock there is so repetitive. Then, looking for something in an old diary file, I found that I’d already made that wry remark at least once years ago.
  • The jukebox in my head keeps getting this slow Mars Volta song mixed up with effing “La Isla Bonita”.
  • Moved my music library onto Google Music. Am now reeling from the effect of listening to 2500 tunes on randomise.
  • The Internet made my kid give me Snickers bars for 14 February.
  • There’s a two-part b/w Russian TV version of Solaris from 1968, pre-dating Tarkovsky’s movie by four years.
  • The Copenhagen synagogue that was attacked by the terrorist is in … wait for it … Crystal Street.

Author: Martin R

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

54 thoughts on “February Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. Skeptic alert! “200-Year-Old Mummified Monk Not Dead, Just Meditating, Buddhism Expert Claims” http://www.odditycentral.com/news/200-year-old-mummified-monk-not-dead-just-meditating-buddhism-expert-claims.html
    ..like that Bad Santa they dug up in “Rare Exports”?
    Other fun stuff: Republicans think altering damaged mtDNA of an embryo means the fetus gets three parents, which is a big no-no. One state senator said that “natural” chimeras are OK but not synthetic ones, and went on to talk about centaurs (I am not making this stuff up).
    -John, if you get a quantum computer, you might get to use “closed timelike curves” (Nature Communications, Vol.5, article 4145) -a qubit can interact with an older version of itself.


  2. Birger @52: Do the authors of that paper explain why their closed timelike curves do not violate the rules of relativity? We may not have a theory of quantum gravity yet, but quantum mechanics and special relativity are compatible: they have been combined in quantum electrodynamics. You can have phase fronts moving faster than light, but phase fronts don’t contain information. Anything that does contain information must move at speeds less than or equal to c.


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