April Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • I keep getting ads for “Game of War”. They seem to be mixed up with ad clips for a game likely to be called “Gratuitous Breasts”.
  • Sw. massiv means “solid, unmixed, not hollow”. Eng. massive is almost exclusively used to mean “big”. For decades I thought this was sloppy / slangy / colloquial. Today I looked it up and learned that though massive can at a pinch mean “solid”, its main dictionary sense is “big”. I’m Swenglish.
  • Travelling an overnighter to give a talk. Bringing no luggage. My presentation is on a USB stick and my entertainment is in my phone. The largest item I’m bringing is a deodorant in my jacket pocket. Love it.
  • Listening to Bill Doss songs I can’t quite tell if I feel sad because he died so young or because it’s so long since I was 25. But then I remind myself that everything in my life is better now than when I was 25, except for the amount of hair on my head.
  • The plane ride from Gothenburg to Stockholm is amazing. Being able to see the whole area around Lake Vättern at the same time. All the lakes and towns of Östergötland.
  • Danish uni jobs. Not only do they refuse to tell you who’s applied. They refuse to tell you who got the job!
  • OK, librarian friends, I’ll come clean. Remember back in the 90s when I was employed to register a bunch of Fornvännen articles in VITALIS, the main Swedish library database for archaeology? Well, I also registered the John Dee translation of the Necronomicon. I’m sorry, I apologise, I was young and stupid. I know now that we aren’t supposed to talk about that particular volume.
  • Two of the largest Swedish domestic airlines are merging. The new company is going to be called “BRA”. Um. Yeah.
  • For decades I couldn’t quite understand why law courts pay any attention to motive. It was my science background. I thought court cases were simply about investigating empirical reality, when more often than not they’re about establishing narrative plausibility.
  • My no. 1 priority when taking a shower is to remove any empty shampoo bottles.
  • It used to be that kids who did really poorly at school despite trying were dismissed as fucking stupid. Today we know that many of them are in fact quite intelligent but suffer from conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or ADD. I was intrigued to learn yesterday, though, that there still remains a considerable percentage of children for whom child psychology has no other label than fucking stupid — sorry, Borderline Intellectual Functioning. They score just slightly on the sunny side of the (arbitrary) IQ cutoff for intellectual disability.
  • Blackbirds singing in all directions. Love love love it!
  • Am I uninterested in rich women because many are so slim? Or am I uninterested in slim women because of class hatred? Or both?
  • Realised today that the job security act will not only keep me from jobs I apply for when clueless employers allow some poorly qualified temp to work just long enough that they get a steady job by default. (This happened to me last week.) The law also ensures that I will eventually get kicked out of my temp gigs unless my employers are clueless. And one of them informed me today that they are not. Academe is not a meritocracy.
  • Buoyed by yet another ridiculously positive course evaluation from the students.
  • A memory. My childhood buddy lived in an old house with old wiring. When using their phone you would hear the ghosts of other phone conversations. Once while waiting for my mom to pick up I suddenly heard quite clearly a tired, mildly annoyed male voice say with a Finnish accent, “No. That pipe belongs to Daddy.”

Author: Martin R

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

29 thoughts on “April Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Two of the largest Swedish domestic airlines are merging. The new company is going to be called “BRA”. Um. Yeah.

    There used to be a Brazilian airline by that name. I saw one of their planes parked at Guarulhos airport (São Paulo) when I visited Brazil some years ago. I heard that they had just gone bankrupt at the time. It wouldn’t be the first case of a recycled airline name (there have been at least three iterations of Pan Am, the most recent being owned by the same company that owns the railroad track passing through my town–once in a while I will see the Pan Am logo on a railroad freight car passing through).

    Am I uninterested in rich women because many are so slim? Or am I uninterested in slim women because of class hatred? Or both?

    This is a peculiar era in human history. Food is abundant, at least in developed countries, so plumpness does not signify wealth, as it has for most of human history. You may also have an instinctive preference for women who look like they could handle being pregnant, which too-thin women might not be able to do.


  2. But as recently as a hundred years ago or so, your firmware would not have been maladaptive–any woman who could display those kinds of, um, assets would have needed substantial monetary assets. It’s only in the 20th century that the two have become decoupled, and even then not in all societies.

    If we somehow manage to remain in an economy with abundant food for a few more centuries, then maybe your great-…-great-grandchildren will have adapted to prefer women who can afford to cultivate the waif look. But I suspect that our abundant-food economy is a temporary thing. Of all the dire predictions of climate change effects, the most dire (to me, at least) is that we may break agriculture, and there are signs that this is already starting to happen. Look at California or Pakistan. And if you don’t think that people will commit murder over a can of tomatoes, you have never been hungry.


  3. The English word ‘massy’ would be closer; it can be used of an object regardless of size, suggesting heft. It’s interesting that the modern Swedish definition is more etymologically distant. The lussekatter I baked last December were not large but they were sadly massy.


  4. “Massive Attack” is always good…
    “They score just slightly on the sunny side of the (arbitrary) IQ cutoff for intellectual disability.”
    Sadly, lead contamination of the environment can lead to this.
    — — —
    “Trying to correct political myths may only entrench them further, study says http://phys.org/news/2015-05-political-myths-entrench.html
    That is why flying saucers are hidden in Area 51 (which is sponsored by the Jews). And to continue the hunger theme, Death Panels are waiting to turn the American elderly into Soylent Green –to sell to the Chinese in payment of the US national debt.


  5. Sw. massiv means “solid, unmixed, not hollow”. Eng. massive is almost exclusively used to mean “big”.

    Of course you can have etymological drift. To take another example: The Swedish word for woman, kvinna, is cognate to the English “queen”. The primary English definition of “queen” refers to a particular woman: either the wife of the current king, or a female monarch ruling in her own right (there can only be at most one in a given country at a given time). There is a second colloquial usage of “queen” in US English: it refers to homosexual males with certain mannerisms our society normally ascribes to females. But I wouldn’t recommend using that term in polite society.


  6. I wonder why the germanic languages (except for the recent ‘kaiser’) retained king/queen while everyone else in europe went with derivatives of caesar/rex. Even in English, which in most cases demotes the germanic word in favor of a higher-status latinate import.


  7. The languages spoken in southwestern Europe (except for Basque, which is non-Indo-European) are all derived from Latin, so of course they would retain Latin terms for “king”. The English word “emperor” comes from the Latin “imperator”, and “president” is also Latin-derived. The Germans and Russians were obviously influenced by Rome in calling their monarchs “kaiser” or “tsar” (from Latin Caesar–I’m not sure whether this was a family name or a title). The Turkish equivalent would be “sultan”; I’m not sure whether this is inherently Turkish or borrowed from Arabic. I can’t speak for the other Slavic languages, the Baltic languages, Greek, or Europe’s other non-Indo-European languages.

    England was conquered by French-speaking Normans in 1066, so in addition to words borrowed directly from Latin, some Latin-derived words entered English via French. Some French/Latin words replaced their Germanic equivalents, but others coexist with Germanic counterparts: e.g., among the nobility you had your French dukes and counts along with your Germanic earls and lords. And in many cases the word with the Germanic root prevailed; e.g., the Germanic “chicken”, never (unless you are in a very fancy restaurant where everything is alleged to taste better in French) the French “poulet”.


  8. I always thought that massive was about having a lot of mass, that is weighing a lot or being hard to move. I checked the OED and came up with “Forming or consisting of a large mass; having great size and weight or solidity” which fits.

    Also, motive is very important in most legal systems. If you cause someone’s death, there are various crimes you might be charged with. If you planned the killing, it is premeditated murder, usually considered the most serious kind. If you were horribly angry and out of control, the charge might be aggravated manslaughter. If you were operating a piece of heavy machinery, you will be charged differently if you were being careful, but killed someone anyway as opposed to operating without due care. Most legal systems even have a self defense clause where if you kill someone who was trying to kill you, you are considered much less to blame for his or her death. In each case, your motive in killing is of primary importance. (Even in your part of the world there is probably an exception for a soldier who kills someone in combat if subject to the rules of engagement. He or she might get court martialed or he or she might get a medal.)


  9. (OT) 1. Today, 70 years ago the German surrender was signed in Reims, France. The day after, it was signed in Berlin. In the British Commonwealth, today is celebrated as VE-day.
    (OT) 2. Sword in the Stone http://xkcd.com/1521/
    (OT) 3. Today is the British election, which is somewhat related to (2).


  10. This should be very useful for excavations! (GPS is already used, but now the equipment will get ubiquitous and correspondingly cheaper *without* sacrificing accuracy)

    “New centimeter-accurate GPS system could transform virtual reality and mobile devices”
    “The researchers’ new system could allow unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages to a specific spot on a consumer’s back porch, enable collision avoidance technologies on cars and allow virtual reality (VR) headsets to be used outdoors.”

    Hmm..you could have a VR game in a virtual reconstruction of a medieval castle, right on top of the real site. Or hang out in a Victorian-era environment, watching the place as it was before the developers moved in and poured concrete all over.


  11. This is in reference to your childishly snarky post regarding the German Rune specialist who endured several years’ confinement at various Concentration camps as punishment for his views. Besides your obvious ignorance of the actual content of Marby’s work, the contemptible implication of your post seems to be that his views earned him such a fate.

    While I do not defend the blind irrationalism of occultists (and it’s not clear that Marby deserves to be tarred entirely with that brush, as it appears that he performed some historically valuable research regarding the runes), I find the arrogance and irrationalism of advocates of Scientism just as hard to swallow. I hate to break the news to you, but in their dogmatism, narrow philistinism, arrogance, and emotional attachment to their beliefs, Mighty Science Warriors, ever on the defensive against “woo”, practicing scowls and heroic poses while muttering “eppur si muove” before the mirror, appear no less ridiculous than those whom they criticize. And please, before you start going on about “evidence” in the silly, philosophically unsophisticated way that Science Warriors usually do, do yourself a favor and read this:

    https://philosophynow.org/issues/78/Wheres_The_Evidence .

    And in the interim, by all means continue to mock and pretend to be superior to individuals such as Marby who have endured hardships that spoiled little Science Warriors in their comfortable middle-class existence can’t even fathom.


  12. Where is this childish snark about Friedrich Marby, then? He sounds like a bit of a nutter. I noticed something about runologists somewhere in passing but didn’t read it because I find runes totally confusing, and now I can’t find it. The only credible rune translations I have seen seem eminently prosaic and pedestrian, like “Birger was here” or whatever. Not that I mind, but if that’s what they were, so be it – that’s interesting enough.

    And why do I get so irrationally irritated by people who use the term “social construct”? The same bloated race who turn the perfectly good work “transport” into “transportation” insist on turning “construction” into “construct”. It’s because it has become a banner for post-modernists, probably.


  13. Yeah. I thought I saw something else on rune-ologists just recently – odd looking chaps with long straggly hair wearing special strange cloaks, etc. But that was enough to put me off wanting to know what the articles were about. I know nothing about runes, but I’m sure you don’t need to wear special strange clothing to decipher them.


  14. I see the difference. But then, the conventionally dressed and coiffed Marby had his rune yoga thing going on, which seems closer to magic than…I think I’ll stop, because this is not leading in any good or useful direction.


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