May Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Contraceptives really changed society radically. Prior to them literature is full of references to people being too poor to get married. Because getting married was the same thing as having children.
  • I’m disappointed with streaming movie services. I thought they were like music services, where it’s a rare exception if some older band’s catalogue isn’t available in full. On Netflix and Viaplay it’s in fact the other way around: you’re super lucky if an older movie is available, and you often have to pay extra.
  • Snoop Dogg’s autobiography: The Chronicle.
  • Poetry tip: don’t put the word “the” in a stressed position unless you really want to emphasise it.
  • Just applied for an academic job. Viewed dispassionately I think I’m a really good fit for the position. But I still feel a bit queasy about it. You see, in Scandinavian academe, when you’re turned down for a job you don’t just get a “Thanks for your interest” letter. You get a document where three highly qualified colleagues explain at length why they think you’re crap compared to applicant A and should only be considered if all alternatives are killed by falling grand pianos.
  • A metal detectorist just posted a picture of a recent find on Fb: a 1970s pendant with the Phantom’s protective symbol, the four sabres…
  • Confession: when I saw the May The 4th Be With You tweets I thought to myself “But I don’t care about Trek”.
  • Wonder if we still have access to apex steam locomotive technology. Or if important parts of it died with that generation of engineers.
  • Historical archaeology: I’m not quite sure to what extent I need to cite primary sources and academic discussion among historians. It’s fun but it takes time and is not really my job. I assume that there is room for archaeological research into the material record that uses historians’ results without taking the step itself fully into historical research.
  • The Chronicle of Duke Erik gets even better if you read “dude” for “duke” in it.
  • I haven’t got a Georgian landscape park with follies and a part-time hermit, but I can at least make syllabub.
  • Movie summaries are a huge genre of short films on Chinese YouTube. There are lots of celebrity summarisers. Cousin E thinks there may be several reasons: movies with sexual or political content are forbidden in China, people don’t have much free time, people may think some movies are too scary to actually watch.
  • I haven’t found the Philosopher’s stone. But I’ve synthesised its stereo isomere.
  • It hasn’t made me rich and employers aren’t fighting over me, but I gotta say, I’ve probably had more fun as a scholar than most of my contemporaries. Eight years ago I was finishing a book about Late Iron Age elite settlement. Three years ago, a book about Bronze Age ritual deposition. And now, a book about lifestyles at High Medieval strongholds.
  • Forget about Transylvania. In Myresjö parish, Småland, is a hamlet named Drakulla. On its land is an island in Lake Grumlan with the remains of a modest Medieval manor house. The written sources aren’t strong enough by far for us to exclude the possibility that Vlad Tepesz stayed there.
  • Sunset makes me happy-sad.
  • Our current situation, with only one hominin species on the planet, is recent and unusual.
Baggensfjärden, windy May

Baggensfjärden, windy May

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24 thoughts on “May Pieces Of My Mind #1

  1. Let me guess, the small, dark island on the photo has a name that means “Dweller From the Far Side” in archaic norse, and the locals avoid it.
    On certain nights you see flickering, unearthly greenish lights and hear odd noises that make people feel uncomfortable without any straightforward reason.

    Many people have camped on the island to dispel the myths around it and they -mostly- return alive, but some of them are subtly changed afterwards: Last century, one of them murdered his whole family before killing himself, leaving strange glyphs written on the wall in his own blood.
    — — —
    ” you’re crap compared to applicant A” -Isn’t it foolhardy to tell the rivals the name of the preferred applicant?
    — — —
    Apex steam locomotive technology -repairing the complex beasts may be a bit of black art, without the living memories of the old engineers.

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  2. Meanwhile, here in Japan young people are too poor to get married — because the societal pressure to have children once you do is very strong.
    ———
    I’ve tried Spotify. Didn’t have some of my favourite artists at all, and some only because they happened to have a track on some sampler record.
    ———
    To paraphrase am old joke: Friends help you move. Real friends help you move grand pianos.

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  3. ”you’re crap compared to applicant A” -Isn’t it foolhardy to tell the rivals the name of the preferred applicant?

    In Scandinavia (and Finland) in general, and Finland in particular, by default all information is public. There are really very, very few things which aren’t. Things which are public by law in Sweden and secret by law in other countries.

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  4. Things which are public by law in Sweden and secret by law in other countries.

    For instance, most personnel records, including the scenario Martin was discussion, are specifically exempt from open records laws in the US. Employers can confirm that John Doe worked there from date X to date Y, with certain job titles. Public employers may also be required to disclose employee salaries; e.g., local newspapers have been known to publish the academic year salaries of every tenured or tenure-track professor on campus when negotiations between the Board of Trustees and the American Association of University Professors get acrimonious. (As an aside, it’s a measure of how bad those relations have historically been that we have a faculty union on this campus–this is the US, where labor unions tend to be frowned upon.)

    As for dropping pianos, there is at least one US university that has a tradition of doing so. However, the dropped pianos tend to be spinets, not grand pianos (though in the linked video a baby grand is the target).

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  5. Poetry tip: don’t put the word “the” in a stressed position unless you really want to emphasise it.

    Also goes for songs. The offender I have in mind is Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”. She pronounces the title line in the chorus “LA is-LA bo-NI-i-TA”. That puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-bles; it should be “la IS-la bo-NI-ta”. “La”, of course, is the feminine singular definite article in Spanish.

    As an aside, because of Madonna’s botched Spanish, I thought the song in question was called “Spanish Lullaby”. And of course I mondegreened the offending line into, “That is all for me, Itá”. I learned the song’s correct title from, of all places, a collection of mondegreens published in the 1990s: some listeners hear the first line, “Last night I dreamed of San Pedro”, as, “Last night I dreamed of some bagels”.

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  6. There is at least one other song in which Madonna butchers Spanish: in “Who’s That Girl”, she pronounces “quién” as two syllables, with the first stressed. It should be one syllable, and the acute accent normally indicates a stressed syllable (though in this case it is used to clarify that it’s a question).

    At least Madonna enunciates reasonably well when she sings in English. Lots of popular musicians of the last 50 years do not. Sir Elton John is one of the most notorious; it doesn’t help that some of Taupin’s lyrics border on word salad. An example, from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”:

    What do you think you’ll do then?
    I bet they shoot down the plane
    It’ll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
    To get you on your feet again

    I only know the correct lyrics from having seen them on kissthisguy.com ; among other mondegreens of mine from that song, I’d always heard “accurate talents” in place of “vodka and tonics”. (The latter would be one of the last things you would want if you survive having your plane shot down, as you would likely be on prescription painkillers.)

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  7. A devil in disguise: I thought Elvis sang “a devil in the sky”
    And there is a calypso/reggae song: “Oh-oh-my-ears-are-alight”

    Why do fundies bother to hear “backward lyrics” when the forward lyrics can interpreted this widely?

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  8. Why do fundies bother to hear “backward lyrics” when the forward lyrics can interpreted this widely?

    For that matter, in many songs the actual lyrics are explicitly about things of which these moral scolds would not approve.

    There was a Bloom County strip from the early 1980s that parodied this habit: the fictional band Deathtongue had a single with backward lyrics that said, “Go to church. Say your prayers.” Needless to say, it was deemed a non-story.

    A handful of songs actually do have intentional backmasking (as it’s called). The one I’m most familiar with is Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces” (from The Wall), which apparently has the following (or similar) spoken words played backwards: “You have found the Pink Floyd hidden message. Send your answer to the Funny Farm, Chalfont.” followed by another man saying, “Roger, Caroline’s on the phone.” I presume the bit about the funny farm is a reference to founding member Syd Barrett, who went insane from LSD use and had to drop out (he was replaced by David Gilmour).

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  9. As I understand it, Barrett had a particular liking for LSD because he was going insane anyway, poor bastard. He was about the age when schizophrenia often débuts. )-:

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