July Pieces Of My Mind #3

This came sailing. Heavy with water after a long voyage. No sign of crew or passengers. A wave then got it afloat during the night and it left as quietly as it came.
  • If all goes well we’ve got less than 18 months left of this appalling nonsense from the White House.
  • Peter F. Hamilton’s universe, several hundred years into the future, is technologically futuristic but culturally contemporary. People listen to rock music and wear denim. The Guide Michelin is still rating restaurants even on other planets. He is not interested in making up unfamiliar culture.
  • I’m more than halfway through with my translation of Nils Mattsson Kiöping now. Looking forward to hitting the Royal Library to read up on the secondary literature for the introduction and additional annotation. He mentions a lot of small towns in Asia that aren’t easy to identify on current maps, particularly when their names are spelled by a 17th century Swede and then misprinted by Johann Kankel.
  • Cousins L and J drove and rowed me to a desert island!
  • Haha, Ted Chiang is awesome. In his new collection Exhalation is a story about deeply religious people who have a heliocentric cosmology and believe that God made the universe specifically for them. Then their astronomers discover that the universe is actually geocentric. And it’s centred on a planet in a nearby star system, not on their own world. 😀
  • You know how annoying Autocorrect is? Chances are, you’re almost always writing in the same language. Imagine how annoying this thing is for me, flipping constantly between Swedish and English.
  • OMG, Nils Mattsson Kiöping is such an asshole. When he and his buddies hear that Hindus in Surat hold all life sacred, they catch a bunch of fleas, go to a Hindu household, kill some fleas in front of them and demand a ransom for the remaining ones. Having made some money this way, they buy pigeons from some Muslims and then go back to the Hindus to extort more money!
  • Note to prospective parents: your kids will grow up and leave.
  • I haven’t listened to any music recently, so my brain has amused itself by playing fragments of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Take The Long Way Home” on repeat for several days.
  • I found the calling card of an Italian real estate agent in a Bruce Chatwin essay collection from the library. Her office is in Rome, just a short walk from the Vatican.
  • I have an odd architecture of the throat where pills get stuck. Imagine miserable hours of tasting penicillin as a pill fragment slowly dissolves. Now I’ve discovered an excellent way to get stuff down the chute: a big spoonful of oatmeal porridge.

Author: Martin R

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

19 thoughts on “July Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. “You know how annoying Autocorrect is?”
    Probably almost as annoying as Facebook’s Swedish to English translator that doesn’t actually understand Swedish.


  2. Don’t be so hopeful that you might be bitterly disappointed. Some smart , objective people are saying that the Dems have basically handed Trump a second term by being too fractured. It wouldn’t surprise me. Biden is OK now but he’s too old. They need to get behind a single strong candidate, and they’re not doing it. They need to get their act together really fast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Harris is my first choice, with Warren second. Biden is not only too old but not in touch with the younger generation. Sanders is even older and something of a crank. Warren may be pushing 70, but she understands the issues that younger voters are facing.

      The primary season is still more than six months away. At this stage in the 2008 campaign, the leading contenders were Rudy Giuliani for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. (Spoiler alert: neither got the nomination.) Part of the reluctance to back Harris is that people want to know that she can draw votes among white non-Californians–if she does well in Iowa and New Hampshire, I think that will cut into a lot of Biden’s support–Biden is currently seen among the African-American community as the “safe” choice.

      Compared to pretty much any other democracy, the US election season, especially at the Presidential level, is drawn out far too long. Last cycle I started to joke that you should see your doctor if you have an election that lasts more than four months. Some states hold primary elections for state-level races in May; the general election is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

      I also recommend that you avoid the mainstream US press political coverage. Fox “News” isn’t the only mainstream media organization in the US that is in the tank for Trump; they’re just more blatant about it than the others.


      1. I was going to suggest Harris with Warren as her running mate. Like what I think matters.


  3. There is a reason I keep Autocorrect turned off. The reason is that it does not recognize many of the words I need to use, particularly surnames. One of my colleagues has the surname Raeder. I once refereed a paper where the authors left Autocorrect on, and cited one of his papers under the name “Reader”. The dictionary does recognize many common surnames in a variety of languages, including English, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Korean, but among other shortcomings it flags any Swedish surname ending in “-sson” as being misspelled (Swedes are overrepresented in my specialty).


  4. Autocorrect is a misnomer. It just minimizes entropy.
    Science fiction is about the present as much as the future. The satire is often part of the fun. The best scene in Demolition Man, for example, was the one in the lounge where they were playing the evergreen classics, songs like “Welcome to the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant”. (Apparently, the actual Valley of the Jolly Green giant is in Dayton, Washington. I saw his mark when I dropped by a cognac distillery out there. Thank you, Leo Burnett.) For a great take on science fiction tropes, I’ll recommend the 2007 article: https://www.somethingawful.com/news/science-fiction-summary/


  5. After seeing the term in books and such I was finally made curious enough to look up a definition of porridge. Boiled grain? Kind of a minimal concept to have its own word, I would say. Not a widely used word in US english, except perhaps for foodie hipsters. If I went to the newly hip southside of town I could probably order quinoa porridge and they’d know what I was talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I used to eat a lot of oatmeal, but decided that the sweet instant oatmeal I was making was too glycemic.


      1. Is the Swedish term realted to the native southeastern North American word for our common porridge, “grits.” The word is Old English in origin.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Old Swedish song:
    ‘Allting går att sälja
    med mördande reklam
    Kom och köp
    konserverad gröt’
    (everything can be sold
    with killer advertising
    com and buy
    canned oatmeal)


    1. David Byrne went there as well: Love For Sale

      Despite being an American of the right generation (the song was released in 1986), I did not recognize all of the products in the excerpted advertisements. And some of those products/companies (most prominently Pan Am) no longer exist.

      “Leave the driving to us” was the Greyhound Bus Company’s advertising slogan at the time. (This was a time when intercity buses were considered the travel means of last resort in the US.) I don’t know if Coca-Cola used their slogan “It’s the real thing” (or its equivalent in other languages) outside North America.


  7. Autocorrect is annoyingly bad at romanized Cantonese (which is a real pain because of everyone’s name). I keep adding things, but I have barely scratched the surface.

    Google Maps voice assist is annoyingly bad (or screamingly funny, if you are my daughter) at pronouncing romanized Cantonese road and place names (some random American female, and she’s awful at it).

    Apple Maps voice assist is excellent – some English guy with an upper class accent whose diction is excellent and pronunciation of romanized Cantonese is perfect. But the problem is that he keeps telling me to do impossible things, like doing a U-turn on a six lane highway with a high raised central divider – I could probably just about manage in a tank (not sure about that) or military all-terrain vehicle, but even then it would be a very dangerous thing to do (not to mention illegal).

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: