January Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • I just wrote a long drinking song in Swedish for the Stockholm Tolkien Society’s 5 x 9th anniversary. The first line translates to “Thranduil in Mirkwood imports beverages”.
  • Like most archaeologists I use Academia.edu to share my work, but I have a somnolent placeholder account on ResearchGate as well. They keep pestering me to engage more. Just now they congratulated me on one of my books reaching 20 downloads there. Oh, hoo fucking ray.
  • Spent several days extracting find spots for some artefact categories from confused & sloppy documentation of a 1915 castle excavation. Got a really clear result though: the find distribution is an artefact of when the ruins where uncovered in the 1880s. I have mapped the spoil dumps.
  • Metal detectorists shared a tip with me. To find silver, do beaches. To find gold, do beaches frequented by Syriacs. They have made a discovery in contemporary archaeology.
  • Sid Vicious was a stage name but Kurt Vile got his name from his parents.
  • The bread I bake has a hard crust with small spiky bits here and there. If I let a loaf fall into a plastic bag, the bag invariably gets torn. But if instead I point the loaf upward and let the bag settle onto it, no damage is done.
  • Reading Raoul Martinez, I belatedly understood a central point in the critique of globalism. Capital is free to go where wages are lower. But labour is not free to go where wages are higher.
  • Swedish daylight metal detectorists are happily showing me finds made at rallies in the UK. I tell them about the Portable Antiquities Scheme. “Never heard of it!”
  • I just got grabbed by the reptile brain and shaken around. An ad for a video game with three swimsuited plus-size models blowing each other’s tanks up. Watched the whole thing. Acres of sunset-lit flesh. And subliminal CGI tanks as a minor irritant.
  • The Cars’ 1984 song “Drive” has the same synths that were popular in scifi movie scores at the time. It sounds like Bladerunner.
  • Purging my Twitter roster of politically interested Americans. Sorry folks, I just can’t stand it. I’ll refollow in 2021.
  • Love this. At dinner table, my wife starts saying something in Swedish, switches to English because Cousin E understands that, switches to Mandarin because Jrette needs the practice, finishes the phrase.
  • I’d like to see a good actor imitating the odd movements of video game characters.
  • Explained to Cousin E that there’s Eastern wisdom and Western wisdom, and that Western wisdom usually has to do with digestive biscuits.
  • Music geekery is pretty useful when you want to retain the respect of a 13-y-o.
  • After receiving a fan postcard I took a nap. Then I checked my email and found a long fan letter from a grad student I’ve never heard of before. This is starting to look like a conspiracy to improve my professional outlook.
  • The cover of this 26-y-o edition of a 53-y-o scifi novel is starting to look retro-futuristic.
  • Cultural summit at the breakfast table. I’m having cheese sandwiches and black tea with milk. My wife is having rice porridge, filo pancake and a boiled egg with soy sauce.
  • Wonder what the Middle East would look like if its inhabitants decided that the finer distinctions within the category of West-Semitic-speaking monotheists are unimportant. Maybe they’d all just go right for the Persians.
  • Me and my wife just read & talked about some poetry with Cousin E that he’d got assigned in school, including Poe’s “Raven”. Sharing the stanzas around.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold is copiously and cheaply available as EPUB files on Baen.
Skating on Lake Lundsjön
Skating on Lake Lundsjön
The snow is thawing off the golf course. No longer great skiing.
The snow is thawing off the golf course. No longer great skiing.

Author: Martin R

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

29 thoughts on “January Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Hello,
    I wonder if you’ve considered giving Humanities Commons a try? We’re new and in beta, but we’re a non-profit, open-source-committed sharing and collaboration network for the humanities, run by scholarly societies. Our repository promises library-quality archiving, mints DOIs, and is integrated with our special interest groups and discussion forums. We have some archaeologists on the platform, but we’d love to welcome more of you and get your feedback on what else you’d like the platform to do to meet your needs!


  2. Synthesizers were a staple of 1980s popular music. That was when Queen dropped their “No Synthesizers” brag on their new albums, and you could hear synths in everything from saccharine pop to heavy metal. I suspect that sci-fi film soundtracks were following the popular music trends.

    There was even an actual instrument called the keytar, which is exactly what it sounds like: intended to look like a guitar, but the sound comes from pressing keys on a piano-like keyboard rather than plucking strings. If you see a keytar in a video, you can be sure it either dates from the 1980s or is intended to invoke nostalgia for the 1980s.

    As with other decades, the 1980s had a few good songs and a lot of dreck. We remember the good stuff, and forget the dreck, even the dreck that made it to #1 on the pop charts.


  3. BTW, I agree with you regarding suitable uses of golf courses in winter. When I was in grad school, my office was two or three blocks from a golf course, and during winter months I would keep my skis in the office, so that once in a while I could put in my hour on the golf course.

    These days I live in a town with no golf courses; however, there are several other areas nearby which are suitable for cross country skiing. If only we could get some actual snow, rather than the mixed precipitation we have been getting. That has all of the drawbacks of snow (not to mention that it’s the kind of heavy wet stuff that can wreck your back if you’re not careful shoveling it), and none of the advantages.


  4. “I wonder what became of that boy…” http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/3593.html
    — — — —
    1980s… I recall a song by Genesis.
    “I won’t be coming home tonight/ our generation will put things right/ wer’e not just making promises/ that we know we’ll never keep”
    — — —
    The Daily Mash: Shit-flinging orange gibbon crowned emperor. Other news: “Berlin to send back thousands of British hipsters”.
    “Cat couldn’t give a toss about humans´ “forever home” bullshit.” http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/animals/animals-headlines/cat-couldnt-give-a-toss-about-humans-forever-home-bullshit-20170121120647


  5. 1980s… I recall a song by Genesis.

    The official video is on YouTube, of course. They send up a bunch of famous people from the 1980s: most obviously Ronald Reagan, but I recognized several others.


  6. ‘Your only right is to obey’: lawyer describes torture in China’s secret jails https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/23/lawyer-torture-china-secret-jails-xie-yang
    Speaking of Chinese modernisation;
    Sweden abolished torture almost exactly 250 years ago and never looked back. I am not sure about Switzerland but lacking a strong central authority with the need to intimidate the population they have likely also been tortuure-free a long time. So HOW ABOUT CATCHING UP GODDAMN IT.


  7. I wish I lived in an area with good cross country, but sadly this is a downhill area, so you either take your chances on “Nordic” courses that may involve a ski lift (no thank you!) or you drive for 5 hours to a nice flat area with snow where it’s -5F.


  8. @JustaTech: I agree that if a ski lift is involved, it’s not cross-country. But many of the ski resorts in this part of the US have designated cross-country ski areas, typically around the base of the mountain. Or you could ask around and see if there is a ski course set up in some park in some town. I’ve never spent any significant amount of time in snow country (at least during winter months) where one of those two options wasn’t viable. Try asking around at local ski shops.


  9. Ancient figures reveal trading routes of prehistoric African civilisation https://phys.org/news/2017-01-ancient-figures-reveal-routes-prehistoric.html
    Scientists find advanced geometry no secret to prehistoric architects in US Southwest https://phys.org/news/2017-01-scientists-advanced-geometry-secret-prehistoric.html

    Circular temple to god of wind uncovered in Mexico City https://phys.org/news/2016-11-circular-temple-god-uncovered-mexico.html


  10. Martin, the god of windbags is the patron saint of populist politicians.
    I have just learned Drumpf has declared January 20th (the day of the inauguration) to be the day of Nationa Day of Patriotic Reverence.
    I would have suggested National Sacred Day of American Patriotism (NSDAP) as it is the anniversary of the Wannsee Conference.
    I do not know Russian and Chinese hisitory, but it is statistically likely that Stalin or Mao also ordered some hideous crime on that day.
    — — — — — — —
    Bona fide magic mushrooms!!
    “Sequencing poisonous mushrooms to potentially create medicine” https://phys.org/news/2017-01-sequencing-poisonous-mushrooms-potentially-medicine.html The mushrooms can theoretically produce billions of compounds through one molecular assembly line. Many cyclic peptides are already known to be important drugs against tuberculosis, drug-resistant Staphylococcus and cancer.
    Also; https://phys.org/news/2014-12-poisonous.html


  11. There’s a circular temple to god of wind and night-soil in our bathroom.

    At least in the US, it’s known as the porcelain god. Although it’s not a good thing if you find yourself praying to that god.


  12. Philip,
    yes, and the amount of bombs American presidents drop on brown people is probably more important than empty symbolical gestures, and this (the bombs) is a facet of US foreign policy that seems unaffected by which party holds the White House.


  13. Had a disconcerting experience attending the thesis proposal talk of one of our students yesterday. Several times he cited a particular paper, the first author of which is a woman I know (not unusual in my field, which isn’t that big). The student (a male) consistently referred to said first author as “he”. I felt compelled, at the end of the public session, to go up to him and point out his pronoun trouble.


  14. A young Chinese man of my acquaintance has only recently learned that the first name of Westerners is not their family name. It was fun to hear him talking about “Margaret” in the context of 1980s UK politics.


  15. Heard a good story today that sounds like a good basis for a “clueless American” joke.

    A Swedish businessman and an American client are riding together on the Stockholm metro. They get off at one station and start to leave when the American claims, “You got off at the wrong stop! This place is called Utgång!”


  16. A young Chinese man of my acquaintance has only recently learned that the first name of Westerners is not their family name.

    Reminds me of the time Ronald Reagan welcomed then-Ambassador Lee Kwan Yew “and Mrs. Yew to Singapore.” He immediately caught one of the errors–that it should have been Mrs. Lee–but repeated the welcome to Singapore, the country they were from.


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