March Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • Pretty groovy example of restaurant spelling the other day: “A là cartè”.
  • ”From what black wells of Acherontic fear or feeling, from what unplumbed gulfs of extra-cosmic consciousness or obscure, long-latent heredity, were those half-articulate thunder-croakings drawn?”
  • I know I’ve said this before, but it is such a remarkable fact that it bears repeating. Dungeons & Dragons was designed by two members of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • In library catalogues, books are sometimes categorised as “diss”. It means that the librarians don’t like them and you probably shouldn’t read them.
  • Had a chat with a charming and knowledgeable German colleague. She signed off with the words “have to leave now, my man wants me for lunch”. Clearly a happy marriage.
  • Fela Kuti argued that Africans must be the cleverest people in the world because their continent is in the middle of the map. Sorry, Mr. Kuti, that’s actually because West Africa is due south of the Greenwich Observatory.
  • One of the coolest applications of wifi is for printers. It blows my mind to be able to print from my laptop wherever I am in the house.
  • Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” was one of Mats P. Malmer’s favourite songs.
  • I love streaming music with an automatic discovery algorithm! It’s improved my enjoyment of music enormously. A lot of people have a fairly static collection of favourite albums and songs, amassed in their youth. I discover several new songs and bands every week that make my music enjoyment meter max out!
  • I’ve got this Albanian colleague who looks just generally European and speaks excellent Swedish. In conversation yesterday, he said offhandedly, “… back when I was a refugee and lived illegally in Sweden”. Made me think.
  • Love these springtime field trips, looking at sites before the leaves sprout and obscure everything. A sense of freedom and belonging.
  • PhD student supervision course done, diploma in hand, check.
  • I wonder if Duane Gish was on a debate team at school. You can win US school debating matches by talking really fast and making more arguments than your opponent has time to respond to. Sounds like a tobacco auction and is absolutely worthless from a rhetorics perspective.
  • Verdi’s Requiem to a full house! And in the basement some of my ancestors rest in urns.


This Arnebo farmer and flight mechanic has an unusual garden ornament: a SAAB 340.
This Arnebo farmer and flight mechanic has an unusual garden ornament: a SAAB 340.

Author: Martin R

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

11 thoughts on “March Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Pretty groovy example of restaurant spelling the other day: “A là cartè”.

    Ugh. That manages to look pretentious and foolish at the same time. As does a Mexican restaurant near me called “Agavé”. The acute accent in Spanish always indicates “stress this syllable. What makes my local case even worse is that the name refers to the agave plant, an extract from which is used in making tequila. I have learned from painful experience not to dine in restaurants named after alcoholic beverages. (Which is why I don’t eat at my local Japanese restaurant–it’s called Sake.)

    The most amusing spello I have seen on a restaurant menu is the place (since closed) that offered “Tornadoes of Beef”. They must have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen.


  2. My favorite from a restaurant ad in a small town newspaper. This ran weekly for 20+ years: “Take out orders to go.”


  3. Martin, pardon me if you’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but which automatic discovery algorithm service(s) do you use? Thanks.


  4. I have not commented on the atrocity in Brussels this week, since even heartfelt comments tend to sound like platitudes. Niece is at a safe distance in Ghent, sorting out her dissertation.
    — – — —
    My mother passed away early this morning of apparent heart failure.
    I am not doing a “Robert E. Howard” but I understand where he was coming from. Fortunately my sister has arrived and is helping me sort out the practicalities of the situation.


  5. Thank you

    Odd synchronicity: She was born the same day as Roger Moore, a week or so after Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg et al rounded up the meeting in Switzerland where the modern interpretation of quantum physics got sorted out.

    She passed away Thursday, the day Emmanuelle Charpentier received a prize i Paris for the CRISPR discovery.
    88 years that spanned the most dynamic period in human history, even more so than the 19th century.
    Born in a rural village, and witnessing the extreme expansion of standard of living and healthcare, and opportunities for women outside the home. One of eight siblings, she saw one brother die of what today would be a trivial infection. One whole family in the same village died of tuberculosis, and the authorities burned the house, lacking an understanding of how to stop the disease.
    At the same time, wealthy families in the big cities often looked with approval at what was happening in Italy and Germany, regarding things like fascism and eugenics as “modern”. The past is a different country, indeed.


  6. OK, so I finally got the point of that new paper on Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry. It’s this:

    The ancestors of modern Europeans had interbreeding events with Neanderthals during TWO separate periods in TWO different locations. The ancestors of modern East Asians had interbreeding events during THREE separate periods inn THREE separate locations ( the first two were probably identical to the European two, because these occurred before the ancestors of East Asians and Europeans split and went their separate ways, and then the ancestors of modern East Asians had another interbreeding encounter with Neanderthals). But the ancestors of Melanesians, Papuans and Australian Aborigines had only ONE interbreeding event in ONE location with Neanderthals, but then had a separate interbreeding event with Denisovans in a separate location. East Asians may or may not also have a very small amount of Denisovan introgression.

    But these were not just a few rare encounters – there was lots of interbreeding going on during these events. I hadn’t really picked up on that either. According to John Hawks, these events may have minimally resulted in 1,000 hybrid individuals who contributed to the modern human gene pool, probably more.

    That is a very different picture to the one I was carrying in my head of the occasional chance encounter.

    One thing I had realised – modern Europeans got different things from Neanderthals than modern East Asians and modern Melanesians. We (excluding sub-Saharan Africans) don’t all carry the same Neanderthal genes, we carry different bits.


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