April Pieces Of My Mind #3

magnolia
Year’s first magnolia bloom.
ants
Ants love banana peels.
  • Found an ancestor in the 11th generation who died in the Battle of Landskrona in 1677. He was from Västervik in Småland, so I’m guessing he would have fought on the Swedish side. He was 47, like I am now.
  • The slow worm, Anguis fragilis, is not particularly slow. Instead the first element of the word goes way back into Proto-Germanic, and its original meaning is uncertain. Not “slow”, though. We have it in Swedish too, where ormslå (formally identical to “worm slow”) is an old word for the same creature and etymologically opaque to speakers of modern Swedish.
  • The Rundkvist ladies came home from Berlin last night, and so they could help me get Cousin E awake by singing the lovely traditional tune “Plättar med lingonsylt” nine times with great gusto in trio at his bedside this morning.
  • Finland’s extreme right-wing populists got roughly the same number of parliamentary votes as the Labour Party. These are the two biggest parties in the country’s parliament. /-:
  • Two currently successful anti-fascist black metal bands are called Feminazgul and Neckbeard Deathcamp.
  • First response in print to my new book: a favourable note in the newsletter of the Wartburg-Gesellschaft. They promise a full review in a future publication.
  • The upcoming Lucy mission to seven asteroids is named for an early hominin fossil. Named for a Beatles song. Named for a hallucinogenic substance.
  • Control over academic jobs is a resource. Professors use it in transactions for social capital and influence. This is why many of them are so hostile to straight meritocracy when hiring. From their point of view, this is destruction of capital that they feel is theirs. And humanities professors have very little capital of any kind.
  • Movie: Lynch’s Dune. Incoherent sci-fi novel by someone on drugs is made into an incoherent movie scripted and directed by someone on drugs, then shortened mercilessly by the studio. Magnificently strange and magnificently bad. Grade: fail.
  • In New Twin Peaks, brain-damaged Cooper shouting hello to slot machines in Las Vegas is a callback to the silly voice weapons in Dune.
  • At gladiatorial games in Iceland the participants will plead for mercy: “Vae Vigdís!”
  • Got a short archaeological writing job that is smack in the middle of my sphere of interest and qualification, and which may with luck lead to some pretty solid paid research work.
  • Al Cisneros is not a lazy man. He’s touring with OM now and with Sleep later this year, playing in Stockholm with both bands.
lunch
Year’s first lunch in the yard.

 

Author: Martin R

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

15 thoughts on “April Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. Martin, humanities professors at some kinds of university (like Canadian provincial universities) have lots of capital: high wages, protection from layoffs, and generous pensions. In fact, that is part of the problem, because administrators see that hiring a future member of the faculty union will be expensive and chose to offer a short-term, non-union job instead.

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      1. No, you don’t understand: the decision about whether to hire someone in a small humanities field at a Canadian university is not made by someone who knows or cares what “post-processualist” means or who cites who and ignores who, but someone who has very carefully studied demographic changes, the outlook for provincial politics, how much of the university’s income is already committed to things which can’t be cancelled on short notice, and fashions amongst the right kind of chatterer. Only once the department gets permission to hire a tenure-track faculty member can people within the field try to influence who gets the job. I could give examples but not on a public blog post.

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  2. Although “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is full of imagery associated with hallucinogens, Snopes says the title’s capital letters were a coincidence:

    John Lennon, while never denying that the song itself was inspired by the countless acid trips he had taken, quickly explained that the title, in fact, had been mere coincidence. It was taken, verbatim, from the name John’s four-year-old son Julian had given to a drawing he made at school (shown below), Lennon claimed; Lennon himself had no idea that the title formed the abbreviation LSD until it was pointed out to him by someone else after the album’s release.

    Others who were close to Lennon have corroborated Lennon’s version of events.

    That’s not the only example of seemingly outrageous rock star antics that have an innocent explanation. Another is the notorious “no brown M&M’s” clause in Van Halen’s standard touring contract. That clause gave the band an innocuous way of checking whether venue management had read and were complying with the technical specifications of the contract–the band members routinely found that venues that did not abide by that clause also ignored some other specification in a way that endangered the band or the spectators.

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  3. Ants like any food. While trekking I do the dishes by setting the plates where the ants can get to them. In the morning they are squeaky clean.

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    1. Where do you usually like to go hiking? I’ve made three short expeditions in the northern Swedish mountains in recent years, and just recently I went with friends for two days along the Sörmlandsleden hiking trail just south of Stockholm.

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      1. Mostly I’ve done it in the archipelago of the Gulf of Finland. Technically most of it is “kayaking”. But the trick works anywhere you have ants. I’ve even tried it in a rented hut in Moorea (next to Tahiti). Luckily Polynesian huts are not ant-proof 🙂

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  4. A magnolia tree up the street from my house went into full bloom a few days ago. The one in my garden usually lags that one by one to two weeks. However, the forsythia and one of my rhododendrons are in bloom, and one of the phlox plants is starting to bloom.

    Several recent days when neither work nor rain have intervened, I have been fighting a battle against a bush (species unknown to me) that spreads thorny vinelike branches all over the place. Because of these weeds, I have to wear full-length sleeves, work gloves, and full-length trousers for gardening work even during the hottest days of the year. I can’t say I have eradicated this one–even if I did, this species is also growing on neighboring properties on both sides of me.

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      1. I did read it, yesterday. Thanks for putting it on line, Martin 🙂 Quite an interesting read. I tended to get a bit tangled up in unfamiliar names and places, so I’ll have to read it again to get more out of it. One thing that struck me was that most of the rooms in these castles seemed relatively small. When you take into account the amount of organic rubbish people apparently threw on the floor, they seem like pretty unpleasant places to live.

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      2. In medieval times, not too many places would be all that pleasant to live in, although I understand that people can get desensitized to smells if they are constantly exposed to them for long enough. I think the exposure does need to be constant, though. It didn’t work with my daughter’s nappies after she had shat herself – I dry retched every single time I had to clean her up and change her.

        My daughter doesn’t understand my admiration for the Romans, but then she has never had to live without the benefit of modern plumbing, sewerage and waste disposal. Although in fairness she has been in a large sample of public toilets in the Mainland, which tend to be pretty vile away from the first tier cities.

        Speaking of people shitting themselves, a piece of soccer trivia I could have happily died not knowing was that Gary Lineker once accidentally shat himself on the pitch while playing an international match for England. That would make you feel pretty special, I would think – millions of people all over the world are glued to their TV sets watching you to see what sort of magic you can work with the ball, and you involuntarily shit in your white football shorts.

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      3. Recently I discovered from watching an episode of Have I Got News For You that Gary Lineker actually has a sense of humour. He would have needed it. He also has something of a sense of comedic timing, but…no, I won’t go there.

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  5. Lynch’s Dune. Incoherent sci-fi novel by someone on drugs is made into an incoherent movie scripted and directed by someone on drugs

    Oh, come on. The book is not that incoherent. I mean, the real first one. I had a highschool classmate who managed to quote Dune in every dissertation he had to write. Plus, not everyone got to be mentored by a young Captain Picard. Note, I don’t dispute any of your following assertions.
    Before Lynch, it was Alejandro Jodorowsky who tried to adapt and direct a movie out of the book. If you think Lynch was incoherent and on an acid trip… Just check Wikipedia for the proposed casting.
    Given how Jodorowsky recycled Dune’s story into his Metabaron series of graphic novels (emphasis on graphic), and how his takes on the book seems to be the diametrically opposed to mine, I’m actually glad Lynch got to be the one to make the film of reference.

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