May Pieces Of My Mind #2

Doesn't this picture of Västra Eneby church's body storage shed in winter put you in a festive mood? Party. Party. Par. Taaaay.
Doesn’t this picture of Västra Eneby church’s body storage shed in winter put you in a festive mood? Party. Party. Par. Taaaay.
  • My selective breeding programme for a future master race is producing good results. Jrette just beat her entire class (admittedly, a class selected for musical ability) at the national maths test. Meanwhile her brother is using seven programming languages while his classmates are learning one.
  • Have you heard Clint Eisteddfod’s new album, Good, Bad and Ugly Songs?
  • A bright former student of mine has made a narrow escape from the archaeological job market. Phew! And become a PhD student in Swedish literature instead. Errr…
  • Stop playing the violin around the bonfire, you Pagan ninny!
  • “Love of Brands”. Oh, go away. I hate brands.
  • Table salt container boasts of less sodium. To anyone with a bit of middle-school chemistry, this means “not table salt”.
  • I don’t like decimals on percentages. If you need that kind of precision, and let’s be honest, you don’t, then use per mil. AND NO DECIMALS ON YOUR DAMN PER MIL OK!!!
  • Reading Arthur Ransome’s first Swallows & Amazons book from 1930. Realising that Enid Blyton’s Famous Five are an unabashed Ransome ripoff. It’s all there, including the lovingly described voluminous meals. The first Famous Five book from 1942 is even titled Five on a Treasure Island, echoing the preoccupation with pirate / sea fiction that Ransome’s four protagonists share.
  • I’ve applied for 326 grants since 1993. 40% of them have been approved. Both the large number of applications and the high hit rate show that I’ve gone mainly for small grants, not the big famous ones with a very low average hit rate per applicant. And they’ve allowed me to publish five books and 41 journal papers / book chapters.
  • Sprinkled Georgian (as in Kolchis, roses, wine, gold) spice mix generously onto my lamb patties & baked cauliflower. Then remembered that I don’t currently have any sense of smell because of a cold. So it might as well just have been salt and pepper.
  • Having completed the reports for the second fieldwork season on my castles project, and having finalised my plans for the third and last season, today I’ve begun writing the monograph.
  • Gotta love some spam: “Wussten Sie, dass Yoda in den Star Wars Filmen ursprünglich von einem Affen gespielt werden sollte?”
  • Awesome. Lund University advertises a temp job in biotech — and the department forgets to remove the name of the guy for whom the job is intended from the headline of the job ad!
  • Absentmindedly put lime curd on bread seasoned with fennel seeds. The resulting clash of tastes is extraterrestrial. Good thing I can barely feel it for my cold.
  • Guy at the annual car inspection place is awesome. He’s short, muscular, crew-cut and covered in tattoos. Super butch. But he has the manner of a particularly maternal hair dresser.
  • Received a review copy of an American techno thriller where atheists are being hunted down by shadowy theocrats. And I’m like “I’m Swedish. We’ve already beat theocracy. Atheists are the establishment here, not some beleaguered minority that needs comforting tales about our plight. I don’t care about atheism.”
  • Movie: Llewyn Davis. 1961 US folk singer isn’t doing so well. Grade: Pass.
I don't even want to know what this is that I found in our dried Chinese goods cupboard.
I don’t even want to know what this is that I found in our dried Chinese goods cupboard.

Author: Martin R

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

22 thoughts on “May Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. I don’t even want to know what this is that I found in our dried Chinese goods cupboard.

    I have no idea what it is either, but the writing is Thai. Do you have specifically Chinese markets in your area, or are they pan-Asian, as the two near me are?

    I don’t like decimals on percentages. If you need that kind of precision, and let’s be honest, you don’t, then use per mil. AND NO DECIMALS ON YOUR DAMN PER MIL OK!!!

    I once got a fortune cookie with the following message: “42.7% of statistics are made up on the spot.”

    Property tax rates in the US are normally quoted per mil, and they go two places past the decimal point. In New Hampshire, municipalities set whatever rate is needed to cover the budget, so they need that kind of precision.

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  2. “Awesome. Lund University advertises a temp job in biotech — and the department forgets to remove the name of the guy for whom the job is intended from the headline of the job ad!”

    Actually, it’s better that way: wastes everyone’s time less.

    Sometimes, the university requires posts to be advertised, but the funding agency provides funding only if there is already someone ready to start. Just one problem with temp jobs which are really not.

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  3. Yes, not very upset about the job ad, mostly amused that they by mistake published an honest one for once. In practice jobs like this are often made for a particular person anyhow, so it’s not as anybody else is likely to beat them to it.

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  4. “In practice jobs like this are often made for a particular person anyhow”

    I remember one ad which said “members of the institute will very probably apply”. 😐

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  5. Academic jobs in the US often have to be advertised as well, and in many cases the ad is pro forma because the department in question already knows who will get the job. Explicitly putting that person’s name in the ad, even when it’s obvious from the listed job qualifications who they have in mind, is a definite faux pas.

    Institutes have been known to comply with the letter of the requirement to advertise the position by placing the ad in a paper not local to the region where the institute is located, e.g., the New York Times for a position in California. (Apart from the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, the US does not have any truly national newspapers.) That’s less common than it used to be since everything is online these days.

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  6. Gotta love some spam

    Over the weekend I received an e-mail in Russian (a language I do not speak) which seems to be offering some kind of on-line course in scientific publishing, specifically aimed at Scopus and Thomson-Reuters (these organizations are identified in English). Dates of 15 June to 20 August 2016 are mentioned. The dates and the word zhurnalakh are about the only words of which I am reasonably certain of the translation.

    I’ve also been spammed in Chinese, Japanese, and Turkish, as well as various west European languages. I also got something allegedly from Amazon, except that the initial A was replaced by some apparently Arabic character (obviously a phishing attempt). My spam filter normally catches stuff like that, but these two got through somehow.

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  7. good catch on the Famous Five, I had never made that connection – homage or pillage one wonders.
    On the other hand I’ve re-read the Ransome books many times, haven’t picked up a Blyton book since 1960-something.

    Here in the US, it used to be a requirement for H1-B visas in IT, that no suitable American could be found to do the job. The logical consequence of this was lots of highly-specified job ads, carrying salaries about half the going rate. Yep, no Americans to do that job, oddly enough.

    Lately my spam has been largely in Flemish, lots of Belgian fembots offering themselves.. not sure how they got my name. No, really.

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  8. If you read what Blyton herself said about the way she wrote, it’s entirely possible the plagiarism was unconscious, not deliberate – things surfacing from her sub-conscious that were there because she had read other people’s books, maybe decades beforehand.

    This sort of unconscious plagiarism might be very common, e.g. it is obvious that JK Rowling committed plagiarism from a number of different sources in the Harry Potter series, but I doubt it was conscious or intentional, and no one has made a big issue out of it.

    I don’t get much spam at all and it all goes into the spam filter, even stuff that is not spam – sometimes I have to rescue legitimate stuff and move it to the in-box. Depends on what system you are using, I guess.

    On another topic entirely: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/world-population-in-extreme-poverty-absolute?tab=chart

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  9. “not sure how they got my name. No, really.”

    These days, while some spammers might still collect email addresses from web pages, or even usenet, most probably come via PC viruses which collect email addresses from infected PCs. So if someone sent you an email from a Windows PC, the chances are high that at some point a virus will collect your email address and send it to a spammer.

    I don’t filter spam on content. I like Brad Templeton’s definition of spam: bulk and unsolicited. If it is both, it is spam, end of story. Of course, it’s not obvious to me if it is bulk. So, I use two criteria. First, if it is addressed to a non-existent user, it is spam. (Theoretically it might be a typo and one should bounce the message, but in practice this is often done intentionally and the real recipient of the spam is the (easily forged) From: address, which will get the bounce—this is called “backscatter spam”.) Second, if it comes from an IP address known for spamming, I drop the connection. I use spamhaus.org as a real-time black-hole list. Anyone sending legitimate email can send it through a server not listed here.

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  10. Not that I’m an Enid Blyton fan, I’m not. She was hugely over-hyped when I was a little kid, but there was much other age-suitable stuff available (or maybe there was, but Blyton was pushed onto little kids as ‘safe and suitable’, to the exclusion of other and probably better stuff). She was prolific, but I think she substituted quantity for quality, and her stuff was very formulaic.

    I feel a bit the same way about JK Rowling – the first one or two Potter books were mildly diverting, but then I was definitely over them and didn’t bother thereafter. Too formulaic. My daughter felt the same way, even though they were ‘age suitable’ for her age group.

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  11. Watched a good film: The 2015 Spanish film “Palmeras en la nieve” (Palm Trees in the Snow). It’s pretty long at 2h 42m, but I found it didn’t drag, for me. It was on Netflix – better than the usual Netflix fare, maybe because it’s ‘foreign’.

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  12. Body storage shed?

    In places where winters are cold enough for the ground to freeze (which presumably includes most of Sweden), it’s difficult to bury bodies in winter. You need a place to store them until the ground thaws in the spring.

    I’m not sure what they do in the tundra, or in places where the permafrost layer starts less than 2 m below the surface.

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  13. The Jewish custom in Poland, back when there were Jews in Poland, was that no bodies were buried in the winter. They were stored until the ground thawed. If there was only one corpse, they worried about it getting lonely, so someone had to sleep with it until someone else dropped dead.

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