March Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Oh fuck. I just installed the operating system update/trojan that makes this particular Samsung smartphone model slow.
  • I wonder how classical liberalism views labour unions. On the one hand, the right to form one is clearly a civil liberty. On the other hand, it can be seen as what Smith called a “conspiracy of businessmen”, or in modern parliance, a price cartel.
  • Jrette approvingly recommends me to check out pics of curvaceous model Denise Bidot. I have to tell her that though Bidot is indeed beautiful, I’m not quite comfortable looking at pics of her in Jrette’s company.
  • Movie: Pride. Heart-warming propaganda piece for two political movements which I happen to support: Labour and Gay Rights. Grade: Pass With Distinction.
  • I was impressed when I heard Sia Furler’s singing on last year’s hit song “Chandelier”. I was even more impressed when I learned that she’s 39.
  • Jrette belting out Adele’s “Someone Like You” to her own guitar accompaniment and with huge power.
  • 38% of the students who volunteered for the coming summer’s dig are female. 4 of the 10 whom the randomiser selected are female.
  • I love the snooze function in Google Inbox. “Hide this letter until Wednesday morning”.
  • Tragicomical to ponder how much time and ink has been spilled on the issue of whether certain early written sources mean Old Uppsala or the current cathedral town when they say “Uppsala”. The two places are just a short walk apart.
  • How. I just want to know HOW. The fuck. Does a person think. When they write ”et. al” instead of ”et al.”?
  • Blackbird singing in Fisksätra!
  • Christianity’s offer of salvation is like insurance against unicorn stampede.
  • I want to hear a cool jazz version of Marilyn Manson’s “The Dope Show”.
  • In Stanislaw Lem’s 1959 novel Eden, everything on the alien planet is incomprehensible including its inhabitants. Classic Lem. He pulls a cop-out at the end though, and explains that most of the aliens are mentally retarded after large-scale inept genetic engineering. When finally the humans find a smart alien he makes perfect sense. But before that you have to read over 200 pp of pointless gibberish.
  • Norrköping’s Early Christian century is becoming clearer thanks to archaeology. First there was the 2010/11 find of a forgotten churchyard on the left-hand river bank in the Mjölnaren block. Now there’s the city’s first Eskilstuna type burial monument from the Rådstugan block, not far from St. John’s church on the right-hand bank, and on the sight line between the two church sites.
  • Just realised that I haven’t worked at an excavation directed by someone else since I was 22. Unless you count single days as guest digger on Roger & Mattias’s sites.
  • I send every issue of Fornvännen to an address in Philadelphia where the contents get indexed on-line. Just now I checked the address in Google Streetview. It’s a tall office building. To either side of the entrance is a Saladworks and a Dunkin Donuts.
  • Got a call from an amateur scholar who has identified Beowulf’s grave. It’s in eastern Uppland. Beowulf, it turns out, was born in 519 at Hageby near Norrköping. The guy has talked to about twelve professors about his ideas, all of whom just laughed at him. I explained that I have no training in the Old Norse or Old English texts, and that I’m more of a potsherds and rusty nails kind of scholar. Our conversation ended amicably.
  • Imogen Heap won a 2009 Grammy for sound engineering.
  • Lovely spring walk in the woods, saw two brimstone butterflies!
  • Said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t understand why the Maya bothered with chocolate. Without milk and sugar it’s just nasty, and they had neither. It isn’t even perceptibly psychoactive. The word means “bitter water”! These people were crazy!
  • There’s often a bit of beer left in the cans tossed on the ground by roaming drunks. As I empty them out and take them to a trash can, I muse that drug addiction leaves you unable even to optimise your drug intake.
  • I’m pretty sure that the inability of the iPad to accommodate several separate login identities is a calculated move on Apple’s part in the hope of selling more units.
  • I don’t feel much like working today. “I need a pickup and I don’t mean a truck”, as Brendan Benson put it.
  • PhD position in “Stochastic Wind Park Modelling and Maintenance Scheduling under Uncertainty”
  • Thanks brain. Unexpected move there, waking me an hour early because you want to think about habilitation and play me the Beach Boys’ lamest hit on repeat.
  • Nice work on Word for Mac OS, Microsoft. The Paste Special menu alternative and its hotkey combination do different things.
  • So good to be back out in the field in early springtime! Sunshine, birdsong, no crops covering the fields, vegetation leafless or flat. Checked out our new accommodation for the Stensö dig, then explored the ruins of Rönö Castle.
  • Woah, there are a few late-period Beatles tunes that I can’t remember hearing, on the Yellow Submarine album!
  • Turns out you can get dry-trousered to Landsjö Castle islet through the dense belts of boggy scrubwood and tall reeds that join it to the lakeshore. But you need to wear rubber boots. And bring two planks. And it’ll take you 40 minutes to move 110 metres. And you’ll be exhausted.
  • I have serious trouble making cultural references in lectures that stick with my students. One important reason is of course the 20-year age difference. But another simply seems to be that few of my students are as bookish as I am. I have a feeling that I’d have similar trouble if I were 22 today and talked to fellow students. In fact, come to think of it, I’ve had this problem from age 6 onward.
  • English dialogue becomes much more interesting if you swap out “sod/bugger” and “pox” for their original meanings “sodomite” and “syphilis”.
  • The nouns of “to try” are “a try” and “a trial”. Now I find a colleague using the verb “to trial”. /-:
  • Sometimes you take a nap, and you surprise yourself by sleeping for two hours, and when you wake up there’s lasagna.
  • The verse on ABBA’s “Don’t go sharing your emotions” rips off Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”.
  • A recent change to the Swedish Cultural Heritage law makes every abandoned structure made before 1850 a protected ancient monument. This, I just realised, includes the excavation trenches of our first archaeologists.
  • Dude reads 16 job academic applications and throws out everyone who hasn’t taught for at least one academic year in total. But he does this so slowly that by the time he tells my prospective employer that he’s thrown my application out, I have taught enough. *sigh*

Author: Martin R

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

28 thoughts on “March Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. How. I just want to know HOW. The fuck. Does a person think. When they write ”et. al” instead of ”et al.”?

    Few people learn Latin anymore, so they don’t learn that “et al.” is short for “et alii”. And it’s too rare these days that anyone proofs copy.

    Among my CD collection is a recording, originally from the 1950s, of a comedy sketch by the great Canadian duo Wayne and Shuster, in which they place a film-noir style detective in ancient Rome. At one point our hero (Flavius) walks into a bar, and the following exchange takes place:

    Bartender: What are you drinking?
    Flavius: Give me a martinus.
    Bartender: You mean martini.
    Flavius: If I want two, I’ll ask for them.

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  2. Haha! Reminds me of the debate over whether it’s “one paparazzi” or “one paparazzo”. The noun comes from a film character named Paparazzi, which confuses the issue.

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  3. There’s often a bit of beer left in the cans tossed on the ground by roaming drunks.

    Some years ago, somebody (presumably a bunch of kids from Local U.) abandoned a six-pack of beer bottles on my lawn. Two of the bottles hadn’t even been opened.

    Nice work on Word for Mac OS, Microsoft. The Paste Special menu alternative and its hotkey combination do different things.

    Classic blunders: Never get involved in a land war in Asia, never agree to a battle of wits in which iocaine powder is a factor, and never assume without checking that Microsoft software conforms to your idea of logic.

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  4. Besides, et al. is stupid. What’s the point of replacing ii with .? It should be e.a., like in e.g. and i.e.

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  5. I’m still a proud card-carrying member of the Musicians Union in Australia. On the one hand, I was given no choice about joining – 3 very large, burly gentlemen in overcoats stood over me until I paid them my $10 – the exact sum I had moments before been paid for recording a piece for ABC Radio (in this case, ABC stood for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australian spin-off of the BBC and, in those days, a highly respectable and respected institution).

    But on the other hand, it is proof that I worked as a professional musician, while still holding down my day job. I keep it as a memento that I once had a very promising professional music career, something I am proud of, which I only gave up after several years of moonlighting at two full time jobs out of sheer exhaustion.

    I think the difference is that a union is a mutually supportive group of individuals, in a situation where the individual by himself has no bargaining power. A price cartel is a group of companies who have any number of means to exact pressure on employers.

    Weren’t the Masons the first ever mutually supportive labour union?

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  6. Besides, et al. is stupid. What’s the point of replacing ii with .?

    That I can tell you in one word: Tradition.

    You may ask: How did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you: I don’t know. But it’s a tradition.

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  7. If you spent all day writing with quill pens, you would start looking for ways to replace four strokes (an i or j is a minim and a dot) with one. Medieval scripts did the same for Latin inflection endings, et, -que, /nd/, and other common polygraphs.

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  8. Stanislaw Lem’s novels were driven by ideas rather than deep loks into what drives the human characters but his later novels were -not surprisingly- better in that regard.
    — — —
    Today, north Sweden got to see a 90% solar eclipse -or to use the old Chinese explanation, a dragon tried to eat the disc of the sun.
    An improvised camera obscura worked well, but a friend brought alon special “eclipse sunglasses” thta worked even better. Extraordinary to see the sun reduced to a tiny sliver of light.

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  9. (Blatantly OT) So much for enlightenment.
    Saudi Arabia has instigated a widespread reaction against Sweden in the arab world (they own the asses of the other arab countries who rely on Saudi $$$) after Sweden dared criticise human rights in Saudi.
    Now the business leaders are wetting their pants fearing the loss of export money, even though we have less trade with arab countries that with Russia.
    The Saudis have succeeded well in intimidating Swedish politicians. Especially the conservative leader has become a de facto Saudi ambassador. (but she does not argue about the costly sanctions against Russia, surprise surprise)
    A fucking medieval system demands respect… and the Swedish leaders are kowtowing.

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  10. The eclipse was total in the faroe Islands, but the local skies were overcast. However, people there did like Martin andl ooked straight at the sun through the clouds. So those who travelled there specifically for the eclipse did get to see something.

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  11. I got to see an annular eclipse once, in 1993. The annular zone happened to include the place where I was working at the time. I got to look at the sun through a piece of lab glass which attenuated the sunlight enough. I happened to be in Munich on business for the August 1999 total eclipse, but I didn’t get to see the totality portion. Skies in the Munich area that day were mostly cloudy, so it was luck of the draw: people in the Marienplatz saw the total eclipse, but where I was (at the suburban home of a friend of my then boss) the sun was hidden behind a thick cloud during the entire interval of totality. It could have been worse: it rained at the Olympic Stadium.

    I understand that the next total solar eclipse visible from the continental US will be in August 2017, and the path of totality comes within an hour’s drive of where my mother lives. I hope I can arrange to see that one.

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  12. “I understand that the next total solar eclipse visible from the continental US will be in August 2017”
    I can see into the future.
    I predict religious leaders will say “The eclipse is a sign from God we are headed for the apocalypse for permitting gay marriage” (never mind that eclipses can be predicted millennia in advance).
    — — — —
    Abbreviated latin. Ibid is a character from Ephebe in a Discworld novel (“Pyramids”). But what does the abbreviation ibid. mean?

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  13. Ibidem means “in the same place”, that is, the same work as cited previously. Lovecraft wrote a funny piece about all the many books and papers written by the learned Mr. Ibid.

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  14. Lovecraft wrote a funny piece about all the many books and papers written by the learned Mr. Ibid.

    Back when I was young enough that family vacations consisted of my parents, siblings, and I, we used to be amazed at the number of road works projects, especially in the US state of Georgia, that were awarded to a construction firm controlled by the family of then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The evidence was plain to see: signs that said, “Begin Construction”.

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  15. “Early springtime” ha! -We got snowfall for the first time in weeks just as I left the office in the afternoon.
    -Shit. I just learned Isaac Asimov was an asshole who used to grab boobs or asses on SF cons.
    Eric, I used to be surprised there were so many villages with the same strange name: Jvstn (abbr of “railway station”)

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  16. An English lady among my ex’s acquaintances used to wonder why there were so many buses headed for Abonnerad. It means “subscribed” or “reserved” in Swedish.

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  17. During World War II the British railway authorities removed all of the station name signs, in order to create an obstacle for enemy spies and saboteurs. There’s a story that a pair of such, wandering about the countryside, found a sign in a railway station. One of them had the idea of trying to figure out their location, but they could not find it on the map. The sign in question said, “Gentlemen”.

    In Quebec (and presumably also in France, but I haven’t spent as much time there), if you are looking for lodging, you can always find a Hôtel de Ville in the town you’re in, and if you’re close enough to it, signs will point your way. It won’t solve your problem, however: that would be City Hall.

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  18. I’ve never been brave enough to imbibe chocolate the Mayan way. Guaranteed to avoid the tastebuds. Unfortunately it would seem to require a fair degree of contortionism and athletic ability.
    Although it would be great to start a chain of city-centre choco cafes based on the authentic Maya experience. With massive floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows.
    Washing up would be hell, mind.

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  19. If by classic liberalism you mean the liberalism that emerged during the 1930s worldwide depression, then the attitude is definitely pro-union, at least in the US. The US has a long history of corporations banding together to set wages, blacklist troublemakers and so on. (Look at the recent Apple/Google wage fixing case.) Unions were seen as a counterweight. In general, they resulted in better wages, better working conditions and so on. They were seen as more compatible with the US “free enterprise” ideology as opposed to an alternate scheme where wages and conditions would be set by some political entity as in the Soviet Union or Fascist Italy.

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