December Pieces Of My Mind #1

Detail of Signe Persson-Melin's & Anders B Liljefors's facade decoration on the Natur & Kultur publishing house in Stockholm.
Detail of Signe Persson-Melin’s & Anders B Liljefors’s facade decoration on the Natur & Kultur publishing house in Stockholm.
  • Found the secret passage between the humanities building and the library. Now I can go eat lunch without braving the elements.
  • I flew to Umeå today along the contrail left by the aircraft when going south earlier in the morning. Contrails are really pretty up close. Once I saw two parallel ones, really thick and marshmallowy, glowing pink in the sunrise.
  • LinkedIn informs me that very few people have looked at my profile recently, and that one of those who have works for Autistic Initiative.
  • Two new things about Jrette that make me happy: she makes me help her with French homework and she’s realised that my old steel string guitar sounds better than her nylon string.
  • I just realised that the picture I thought was of Ayn Rand is actually Rosa Parks’s police mug shot.
  • Banner over one of Stockholm’s biggest highways: “Refugees Go Home”. A volunteer climbs up and removes it. Finds that the message has been sprayed onto the back of a banner for the National “Democrat” Party, who disbanded last year. Recycling FTW. /-:
  • In the 70s, the standard term used to talk to kids about child sex offenders was Sw. ful gubbe: “ugly old man”.
  • Student asks which of eight exam rooms he’s scheduled for. I tell him that according to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, he will sit the exam in all eight rooms. When he hands in his paper, the waveform will collapse and we will know which of the rooms he sat in.
  • The Muslim bartender in our spare room pointed out that he’s actually not just a bartender but also an ex-refugee.
  • Woah! There are Facebook events for lots of Yes concerts in the 70s! People use the comments sections on the events to reminisce!
  • Jobriath died three days before Klaus Nomi.
  • I just finished the first draft of my first book in Swedish. It’s a little collection of essays on archaeology for the general reader, based mainly on the routine I’ve developed through the years for when people at parties ask me what I do.
  • WOO-HOO! YAY! I’ve been butting my head against various academic brick walls for years, trying to get onto this course in how to supervise PhD students. Because you need that course in order to be eligible for this academic boy-scout badge, the docentur. And now FINALLY I’ve gotten onto it, starting in late January! I have to pay for it myself, but that’s money well spent if the docentur helps get me a lectureship even just one year earlier.
  • The planned follow-up to Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking was supposed to be titled A Year Of Conventional Thinking but the publisher turned it down.
  • I’m starting a stoner rock band called Böngröt. It means “porridge with beans” in Swedish and is my wife’s favourite breakfast food.
  • There are fewer things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
  • A part of my child-rearing style that I’m particularly proud of: Jr and Jrette are completely unfazed by absurd and pointless remarks. It’s extremely hard to outweird them.
  • The Chainsaw Warrior solo game was remarkably boring.
  • My favourite way to explain Ockham’s razor is this. There was a break-in. There are footprints, all the same size and model of shoe. Let’s assume until more data surfaces that there was only one guy, not twenty wearing identical shoes.
  • I just took this year’s flu shot. Lucky enough that my employer paid for it and let me pop over to the clinic during office hours.
  • If you think God is omnipotent — isn’t “God’s will be done” kind of an infinitely redundant thing to hope for?

Author: Martin R

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

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

  1. God is omnipotent, but his attention is sorta fractal. The ancient theologians didn’t work this out since they preferred integers (you know, Pi=3 in leviticus).
    [If I could get some Texas religious millionaire to sponsor me, I could develop this into a whole belief system and get stinking rich in the process]
    Valinor and Middle Earth could coexist with the biblical narrative since they do not occupy the same volume in fractal L-space. And the quantum leakage into Tolkien’s mind occurred since he spent so much time in libraries. I could start a franchise with Tolkien as a bona fide prophet. Ka-ching!


  2. Recycling extreme-right beliefs…
    “The GOP is a captive of the Donald’s supporters, and so are the rest of us”.
    I suppose we see a kind of rathchet effect. The Republicans can no longer go back to include moderate conservaives without losing the extreme-right/brownshirt demographic (which they helped create) they need in the elections. Therefore they must pretend to believe recycled garbage from the 1950s and earlier while the rest of the world laughs.


  3. Birger@1: It’s spelled out in 1 Kings 7:23:

    He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. [New International Version translation]

    The statement would be correct if the described object had a hexagonal rather than circular cross section, but the verse specifies that the Sea has a circular cross section.

    I’ve been watching the US Republican Party with some alarm. Trump isn’t actually saying anything about non-white-evangelicals that the party base hasn’t believed for a while, he’s just saying it out loud. The Republicans have been working on this strategy for close to 50 years now, and somebody like Trump is a logically expected outcome of this strategy. I don’t think the moneyed elite of the party believed it, they were just exploiting it for their benefit. Now the monster has turned on them.


  4. “Now the monster has turned on them”
    Eric, schadenfreude is the highest joy!

    Martin, Ayn Rand and the ancient sophists would say that the clever way to put food on the table is to write/teach what a wealthy audience wants to hear.
    — — —
    “Found the secret passage” and said “friend” in Sindarin.


  5. “There are fewer things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    Today in the English-language selection of the local bookshop, before browsing Pinker’s style guide, I came across a series of books based on the Star Wars movies—all written in the style of Shakespeare! Yes, Jar-Jar Binks has a soliloquy!


  6. New Zealanders are voting for a new flag.

    My advice – when it comes to matters of good visual design and simple ‘good taste’, don’t choose by popular vote.

    When Australia decided it was time to ditch “God save the Queen”, that’s how we ended up with an outdated, cringeworthy, jingoistic national anthem no one knows the words to and no one can sing – by popular vote. Guaranteed to deliver rubbish every time.


  7. DNA of small, indigenous populations that have been in ilace a long time is a treasure trove for genes that influence heigh, weight and other traits. Genes that can be found and relatively easily identified in such small populations can affect traits like lactose tolerance, malaria resistance and cholera resistance.
    See Science, 18 September, p 1282 and p 1343 vol 349 issue 6254.


    — — — — — — — — — — —
    James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’
    “…but, according to Hansen, the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions aren’t taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.
    “It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”
    — — —
    Violent folk songs -Simpsons’ fans will recall this:


  9. I’m working on my Swedish, but idiomatic expressions are often left out of language programs. Thanks for the “ful gubbe” expression. Isn’t that what Elias calls Wallander in season 2?


  10. They turned my Starbuck Christmas cup red this year. Everybody knows it’s a plot to do away with Christmas. It’s anti-Christian. Hmm. The caramel macchiato still tastes pretty sweet.


  11. #11 – Yes, I’m afraid James Hansen is right. It’s a crock of shit.

    The Chinese will convert to nuclear because they have no choice, supplemented by hydrothermal and other alternative technologies where feasible. No one else will do anything. Australia will keep selling coal to whoever wants to buy it, which means India. America is already virtually self-sufficient in oil and gas and will go on using them. The power companies in Hong Kong will convert from burning coal to liquified natural gas, but they could and should have done that decades ago, and it still means they will be burning fossil fuels and producing carbon dioxide.

    It’s all crap, from a bunch of self-serving politicians. Situation normal.


  12. So, as far as I can understand it, AMHs survived while Neanderthals and Denisovans didn’t because we stole their useful alleles, and because we had better dress sense. And becuz we could dayance, bo’.


  13. Headlines: Robots could replace drunks by 2018
    Heathrow third runway to be built at Gatwick
    UK arms deals unaffected as Saudi women allowed to operate car radios
    Trump Still Thinks He’s Going to Win the Black Vote (This one is not satire)


  14. Is anyone playing The Room 3? Just asking. Gloriously steampunk, as were 1 and 2.

    I loved Iron Sky and looking forward to the sequel. And Captain America, the first movie, believe it or not – not only wonderfully steampunk, but straight out of the comics I read as a kid.

    Trump…black vote…erm nooo.


  15. But of course it’s all f*cked up because they thawed him out in the present at the end of the first movie, so now there is no reason to watch any more Captain America movies – unless of course the Black Widow is in it. That girl has what has got to be the world’s most fascinating nose.


  16. Think of the time I’ll save changing clothes.

    I’m hopeless when I first wake up, stumbling round, falling over, etc., so changing from my pyjamas into my clothes involved a lot of fumbling, cursing, etc.

    If I just go to bed in the my clothes in the first place, I short-circuit the whole problem and can concentrate on remaining upright until I get to the kitchen and get the first cup of coffee with honey into me. Once my blood sugar goes up, I’m fine, so the sooner that happens the better.

    We used to live in a two storey house – bedrooms and bathroom upstairs, everything else downstairs. My father and I both fell down the stairs several times.


  17. “Dear Dad” (English version)
    Director Jakob Ström: ”This is a pro bono job I did for an Organisation called The film is called Dear Dad, and the film carries a very important message that concerns us all:
    “I will be born a girl, please do everything you can so that wont stay the greatest danger of all”


  18. Martin, were you depressed to find out Adele is only one year older than Taylor Swift?

    I’d take Lucinda Williams over both of them, even though these days she is a very far gone chronic alcoholic, poor woman. I guess spina bifida could do that to a person.


  19. Adele tends to be regarded by some as a middle, overweight aged frump, where as Swift is regarded as a young glamour queen. Adele sings better. People are surprised that young people are attracted to Adele’s singing, when all they are doing is exercising good musical sense.

    Lucinda’s days are over – last clip I saw of her was with Emmylou Harris and Roseanne Cash. Lucinda could barely stay upright in her chair, let alone remember the words, Emmy couldn’t remember them either. Roseanne looked like someone in her 30s, whereas she is actually 60, had it all together and was holding the other two together as well, and prevented the whole thing from being a totally embarrassing disaster. Damn she looks like her father, but with the Mexican colouring from her mother.


  20. Not sure what to make of that. Archaics and moderns evidently co-existed in SE Asia over a long period (erectus, floresiensis, interbreeding with Denisovans), but it seems no one can nail down who the Red Deer Cave people were.


  21. I wouldn’t trust myself to find and pick from the right plant without Samara and Felicia’s expert guidance – that could be a quick road to fatal poisoning. There are numerous subspecies in that species and correct identification could be really difficult.


  22. Melaleuca citrolens

    I don’t know if it’s the same (sub)species, but there is a species of Melaleuca that’s a nasty invasive in southern Florida. It was planted for flood control, because it does a good job of soaking up water in swampy environments, such as most of southern Florida. The problem, of course, is that these environments are supposed to be wetlands.

    Even with an expert guide, I’ll pass on this one, thanks.


  23. This one thrives in arid environments, so not the same one, I think.

    Aboriginal people are the only people I do trust on consumption of native plants.


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