January Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • People who got some very bad ideas drummed into them during the postmodern 1990s are now writing policies for Swedish schools.
  • New study of twins documents that indeed, pot smokers aren’t as smart on average as other people. But most likely they become a) stupid and b) pot smokers because of their social environment. Pot smoking is a symptom, not a cause.
  • Of course my new pun “The posthuman always rings twice” turned out to have been already invented.
  • Fiction writer Michael Reaves gets AD and BC mixed up, claims that Akkadian was the lingua franca of the Arabian world until AD 700. Context shows that he really does mean post-Mohammed. *sigh*
  • The rule in Norway seems to be that every time I apply for a job, there needs to be one of my many buddies, one of my very few enemies and one person I’ve never heard of on the application review committee.
  • I just realised that my PhD supervisor never supervised one other grad student to thesis presentation. Figures.
  • The Chinese word for century eggs sounds a lot like Swedish for “the willie”. My wife just told me she has a craving for century eggs. “I know honey, you always do.”
  • Listening to Planet Money about tipping. I’ve said before that I find tipping pointless. Now I realise that it goes beyond that for me. I simply don’t want table service, good or bad. I want to go get my own food at the counter. I don’t like interacting with wait staff.
  • The other day Facebook suggested that I join an alcoholism rehab group. Now it’s asking me for the Stockholm address of the Former Commie Party’s youth section.
  • Me & YuSie went to a really kickass vocal concert in Fisksätra church. Seven members of the Synagogal Ensemble Berlin plus their cantor and their director, each singer being a pro-level soloist. And they performed 19-20th century religious classical music by Jewish composers, with lyrics in Hebrew or Yiddish. Not quite like anything I’ve heard before. Consciously blending the Western classical tradition with Oriental tonality. Good stuff!
  • Ken & Robin once pointed out that the rational way to deal with a haunted house is to burn it down, not explore it at night.
  • Reading about scientific publishing fraud where Chinese biomed researchers exploit the fact that journals allow them to select their own peer reviewers. In my opinion those journals are also to blame for providing a completely flawed process.
  • Sudden insight: the little knob at the end of the hook on a coat hanger is there to avoid the hook snagging on clothes.
  • Don’t list several verbs and several objects in a sentence: “create, innovate and develop discourse, strategies and interpretations”. It’s ugly and unclear. Often the listed words are actually just synonyms, “create, innovate and develop”, that is, pointless padding of your text. Gina Wisker, I’m looking at you.
  • What is Pekka Salonen’s position with the European Space Agency? When I Google him I just find a lot of stuff about classical music.
  • A mythomaniacal surgeon in Stockholm performed an experimental procedure on five dying patients without prior animal trials. That’s bad. But it gets worse. He didn’t even have a permit for the animal trials he hadn’t done.
  • Wife brought freeze-dried durian from China. Looks like insulation foam. Smells like cat pee. Tastes kind of OK if you like fermented herring.

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 “January Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. we must constantly renegotiate the first five decimal digits of pi, to ensure their continued cultural validity!

    The claim that one or more US state legislatures passed bills setting the value of π to exactly 3 (as specified in the Bible) is an urban legend. There was an attempt in 1897 to pass a bill in Indiana that would have set π to exactly 3.2. The bill passed the House of Representatives but died to much ridicule in the state Senate,


  2. And just when I thought the peopling of Europe was getting too complex to get my brain around, this comes out:


    U5 – that’s my great great great…great grandmother. The red dots. The maps blow up big if you click on them.

    So it looks like sometime around 14,500 years ago, the red dot people staged a major takeover, and by 7,000 years ago had moved into southern Scandinavia, having survived a population bottleneck during the LGM in a south-eastern European refuge.

    But U5 is now rare among Europeans, except the Sami, where it occurs at 50%. But I’m not descended from the Sami U5 because that’s a different haplogroup sub-group. Not that anyone should give a damn who I’m descended from, but I find it kind of interesting.

    This makes mathematics seem childishly simple.

    Birger is right – it’s like trying to connect dots when there are only a handful of dots spread over 10s of 1,000s of years.


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