August Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • I’m confused. For years and years this boy lived with me. Now instead there’s a tall young man studying engineering in Jönköping. I somehow helped make this happen. It’s strange to me.
  • The most common surnames among my DNA relatives are Johansson, Nilsson and Persson. All three are among the ten most common surnames in Sweden.
  • Miley Cyrus & the Flaming Lips have covered “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” & “A Day In The Life” together. Both are amazingly good!
  • Hehe. NYT writer spells “help reign in spending”. Maybe using a reigndeer?
  • “She’s a peach” was not coined by Prince in the 90s. Somerset Maugham uses the expression in his 1921 story “The Pool”.
  • This high-end Yunnan smells of fudge.
  • A sycophantic psychopomp lures the souls of the rich and vain to the Land of the Dead with flattery.
  • Checked my bank balance and was astonished to find lots of unexpected money. Upon investigation it turned out to be my monthly salary. I haven’t had a full-time one since 2001.
  • Enjoyable and uncommon experiences today: received a salary and had lunch with colleagues. Glad I’ve decided to leave my scholar’s lifestyle behind soon, one way or another. Research is fun but it’s lonely, it’s poorly and erratically paid and it doesn’t help you get a job. The academic labour market in my field is a social patronage system rather than a meritocracy.
  • Post-rock is a thing of the past.
  • The leafy walking path to Marksburg Castle doubles back on itself eleven times between the foot of the hill and the car park. Then the steep stairs begin.
  • In her Hugo-winning collection of essays from recent years, Words Are My Matter, Ursula LeGuin states that the big media corporations are trying to get rid of copyright, and that “soma” in Huxley’s Brave New World refers to the Greek word for “body”. Her editor has been nodding off.
  • Redemption is a ubiquitous concept in US literary criticism. The various Swedish translations, prominently försoning, are all archaic and rarely used. As I understand Swedes, we see neither a need for nor a possibility of redemption.
  • I have become quite unwilling to invest in a scifi/f author’s worldbuilding if it is delivered in a confusing, allusive, demanding way. My reaction these days tends to be “If you’re not willing to guide me into the world you’ve made up, then I’m not reading your stuff. I’ve visited too many worlds and yours isn’t immediately important to me.”
  • German das heisst is such a cool expression. “It is named” for “that is”.
  • AfD, the German Hate Party, hasn’t got a lot of posters out this election season. But the one you do see is openly anti-Islamic while also strangely flirting with feminism: it has three women drinking wine and the slogan, “We won’t wear burkas, we’ll drink wine”.
  • Castle Eltz, shown around by the 33rd count, who is also the former treasurer of the German Castle Studies Association. Mind blown.
  • Saw a slightly sinister election poster from the parody party PARTEI. It was at the top of a lamppost. “A Nazi could hang here.”
  • LeGuin really likes Tove Jansson’s 1982 novel The True Deceiver / Den ärliga bedragaren. Maybe I should re-read it.
  • Fun and unexpected radiocarbon result. The wooden poles that we found stuck into the bottom of Lake Landsjön between the shore and the castle islet: they date from the 11th century, 200 years before the castle was built. I’m glad I decided to date them.
  • Why aren’t t-shirts with the logos of popular boardgames sold in game stores?
  • Bloody-minded means deliberately uncooperative in British English. LeGuin, writing in the Guardian, thinks it means literally having violent thoughts.
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57 thoughts on “August Pieces Of My Mind #3

  1. Addendum – you should exclude Sardinians from Southern European (especially people from the mountainous interior) because they are the nearest living proxy to Neolithic Europeans before the waves of Yamnaya-like invasion from the steppe. The invading steppe herders never managed to penetrate Sardinia.

    And also, to a lesser extent, Sicilians, although they are more complicated because, more recently, Sicily has been something of a melting pot.

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  2. Found a secret little gem of a murder mystery hiding on Netflix, masquerading as the 2017 film The Invisible Guardian.

    It’s actually a Spanish film called El Guardián Invisible based on the first part of Trilogía del Baztán by Spanish (Basque?) author Dolores Redondo. Most dialogue in the film is in Spanish with English subtitles but, slightly oddly, there is some English spoken between the lead character and her husband, who appears to be English.

    The lead character is played by a Spanish actress who I find very beautiful – not very young or pretty, more sort of 30s approaching 40, but beautiful, in a very refined way.

    Don’t waste your time looking up the film or the lead actress – there’s nothing available online in English or Spanish about either of them. I had to enter the Spanish name of the film into Wikipedia to discover the trilogy and its writer. Wikipedia also tells me that 700,000 copies of the trilogy have been sold, and that it has been translated into more than 15 languages.

    Entertainingly, Dolores Redondo entered something else she had written under the pseudonym Jim Hawkins, and with a false title, in a Spanish literary competition, and she won the prize, so I presume that at that point her amusing little bit of subterfuge had to be revealed.

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  3. I think I’ve cracked this Netflix thing.

    All of the American and English films on there that are any good are films that I have already seen. The rest are rubbish, as are the Bollywood and HK films, except for the ‘foreign’ (i.e. European or Brazilian) films, some of which are really rather good.

    The problem is, Netflix shows the film titles in English, so you have to figure out which of the English-titled films are actually ‘foreign’, and then just try your luck with them, because there are no reviews of them to be found online.

    You can be misled and find yourself watching the first 5 minutes of some dreadful Bollywood or Filipino stuff, which is irritating. But then, I presume most people are in a ‘geography’ where they won’t be offered those. Penalty I pay for living in Asia and East of Suez.

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  4. German das heisst is such a cool expression. “It is named” for “that is”.

    It also is cognate to, and means the same as, “det heter” in Swedish. “It height” is archaic English (I think Tennyson used it, probably because it sounds archaic, in Idylls of the King), with the same meaning: it is called. In German, it can also be used to mean “that is”, “i.e.”.

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  5. For once, it’s not a UK/US split. The Oxford Dictionary gives “-ize” as the preferred spelling, but lists “-ise” as an optional alternative. So a majority of UK English writers use “-ize”, with a minority preferring “-ise”.

    This is the “Oxford z”. It is etymologically more accurate. “ise” in English came from imitating French, and is now common in tabloid papers.

    There is also the Oxford comma. It can be essential, as this example omitting it illustrates: “I dedicate this thesis to my parents, God and L. Ron Hubbard”.

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