November Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • There was a major 19th century arts magazine titled Glissons, n’appuyons pas. This means “Let’s glide, not support”, that is, “Let’s live an easy life without having to support ourselves”. Opera reviews were a big thing in the mag.
  • Private parking is “idiot parking” in Greek, because here the word idiot means “private person”. Our sense of the word comes from the ancient distinction between a skilled person who could take part in public affairs and an untrained one who was just himself, an idiot. The Greek word for the mentally challenged, meanwhile, is vlakas.
  • I saw an old high-wheel bicycle the other day at Malmö’s tech museum. And it struck me: maybe they were designed like that because everybody expected them to be as high as the back of a horse?
  • Gyros in Kavalla involves none of the sauces common at Swedish kebab places, nor the sublimely odd German curry mayonnaise. Here they offer you mustard and ketchup.
  • None of the movies I saw at the festival won a prize. This probably somehow has to do with the fact that I go to daytime screenings.
  • In 1435 King Erik put a new bailiff at Stegeborg Castle: Ivan Fleming. The bailiff is reported to have been shaken but not stirred by this royal preferment.
  • Having cooked my own simple dinners for a week, tonight I treated myself to a taverna meal. Fava-bean hummus for a starter, then the chef’s special, a super-rustic stew of cuttlefish and onions. Swedes, imagine a really savoury cuttlefish kalops. Yum.
  • Renting a car today and taking the ferry out to Thassos to go for a spin with a retired wind power expert.
  • Recently I’ve begun to realise that a lot of things I believe about the world were true 20 years ago and I can’t honestly say that I have any idea what their current status is.
  • Beta is pronounced “v” in modern Greek. Thus basileos –> Vassilis. But some loan words are pronounced with a “b” sound. So they write “mp” for that. As in delicious mpeikon.
  • Kavalla has been flipping between Semitic, Greek, Latin/Romance and Turkic languages since the Phoenicians arrived 2700 years ago.
  • At home, my Sisyphean attempts to empty the fridge are constantly frustrated by other family members who inexplicably keep putting new food into it. But here at the Swedish house I finally get to empty one! The place is closing for the season and I’m one of the last few visitors. People are going home and leaving their food behind. I get to empty the fridge and lead a Spartan life where I don’t buy anything! Woo-hoo!
  • No, Jason Mraz. If you have the expression “God-given right” and need another syllable, you can’t put “God-forsaken” instead.
  • I wonder what’s going to be my main occupation a year from now. Hope it’ll be fun.
  • I’ve been wondering what’s best, to change currency in Sweden before I travel or to get it out of an ATM in the country I visit. So now I’ve done both. In the case of euros and Greece, you get a slightly better rate in Sweden, but the difference between the two rates is less than 1%.
  • Vassilis is a photographer who came to Uppsala in the 70s and used to be married to a Swedish woman. “I like Swedes, I really do. Swedes are Man’s best friend.”
  • After two weeks of work and being cut off from my family, I can feel myself sinking into substance abuse. I have run out of tea. Going to hit the instant coffee. Wish me luck. “First it giveth, then it taketh away.”
  • How do we know that Denisovans are not Heidelbergensis? One has morphological traits, the other has a genome.
  • The Akademibokhandeln chain bookstore cancelled this anti-racist event. Not because they had received any threats. But because they were afraid they would receive threats. Still, it’s taking place anyway thanks to the Workers’ Educational Association, ABF. I’ve had the pleasure of co-organising events with them for the Swedish Skeptics, and also given talks there myself.
Inscriptions, backstage at the Kavalla Archaeological Museum.

Inscriptions, backstage at the Kavalla Archaeological Museum.


53 thoughts on “November Pieces Of My Mind #3

  1. Plus it means that one of the junior guys is having to work over the weekend, so out of solidarity with him, I will do it and get it back to him by tomorrow.


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