April Pieces Of My Mind #2


  • Looks like the entire tourism infrastructure involved in taking Swedes on overseas vacations will be effectively shuttered for one whole year, from the bullet trains and bus services to the country’s airports onward. And when I say shuttered, I mean wiped out, since neither the companies involved nor their staff can afford to sit around and wait for a year. Arlanda Airport and supporting functions has 17 500 employees.
  • Blackbird singing contest at sundown!
  • Hey historians and civ gamers, remind me please: what happens to an empire when a major plague strikes during the reign of an insane emperor? And what are the knock-on effects on realms in economic and military contact with that empire?
  • Did you know that the McDonald’s logo is a graph describing the availability of bronze during the Scandinavian Bronze Age, with peaks in periods 2 and 5 out of 6?
  • I enjoy boosting & sharing good stuff on social media. I have very little interest in arguing with anyone. As for myself, I am here to proclaim my opinions and discoveries and bad jokes.
  • My buddy pointed out that most African countries have such low life expectancy that there aren’t a lot of old folks there who run the risk of dying from covid-19.
  • Blue tit nesting in the new bird box!
  • I was pleasantly surprised to learn that attendance in high school went way up when they moved teaching online. Apparently a lot of shut-ins, hikikomori and skivers want classes, just not in classrooms.
  • Jrette asked me what “to surf the web” is in French. I have no idea, because most of my French vocab dates from the 1980s.
  • I’m one of those men who run their own covid stats in Excel. I have only one sheet and it does only one thing: adds up and graphs the daily national number of Swedish ICU admissions per week. The graph is reassuringly flat.
  • So annoying when you email someone about something and they reply “Sure, call me!”. Fucker, if I wanted to talk on the phone I wouldn’t have emailed you in the first place.
  • Since the new year when I returned to academia I’ve written and submitted one meaty co-authored journal paper, a book chapter and two book reviews. Oh right, and the fieldwork report and the as yet not submitted journal note. I’m enjoying myself! And they’re about three unrelated things. And the manuscript I’m working on now is about a fourth unrelated thing. Whee!
  • OMG, in Polish double consonants are not long, and they say nothing about the preceding vowel, they’re feckin’ REPEATED!
  • Movie: Aliens (1986). On a rescue mission back to the now colonised moon visited in “Alien”, Ellen Ripley has to be someone’s mother — and fight a Mean Big Mama. Grade: great!
  • Some 19th century colleagues wordlessly taught me a neat trick through their archives. No printed margin on the sheet of paper you’re writing on? Fold the sheet to mark the margins.
  • I just invented reverse werewolves, wolves that turn briefly into intellectually disabled nude humans, but it turned out not to be an original idea.
  • Met a couple at Sanda Spring who were bringing tens of liters of water home to brew beer.
  • I first heard of Leisure-suit Larry from a 9th grade schoolmate. His English pronunciation wasn’t real great, so I was confused to learn about this man who apparently lived in a land of long lizards.
  • Hiked in the woods today. Met lots of people on the trail. Oddly only the dog owners were walking. Most people ran. A considerable number rode mountainbikes at great speed.

Author: Martin R

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

18 thoughts on “April Pieces Of My Mind #2”

    1. Reminds me of a chap who stole a woman’s purpose from a passport-photo machine. She waited a couple of minutes and took 4 mug shots to the police. True story. The man was soon caught.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Are you doing what Paul McCartney was doing, using “blackbirds” as an allegory?
    -Also, if you can get an instruction /blueprint for making a simple hedgehog hibernation place, you may get even more visitors next spring.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s what the murderbots are for (co-incidentally, the first four murberbot novellas are being released one a day over on tor.com (this blog post, specifically).

        Installing one or murderbots in your own garden is likely to fall under location-specific legislation. Please consult with your law enforcement before installing murderbots.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Jrette asked me what “to surf the web” is in French. I have no idea, because most of my French vocab dates from the 1980s.

    A French co-worker claims it’s “surfer le web”. This is probably not what the Academy would want it called.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Martin, did I send you any
    Murderbot book? I cannot keep track of details beyond a week or two.
    -If you have a pond nearby, it might be worthwile to introduce capybaras, they are very friendly. Downside, you would have to keep them in a barn during winter. Dunno if they can be housebroken, in that case you just need some room where they can sleep.
    Vegetation: if the climate permits, you might grow “medicinal” stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, yes, you sent me the first one! I enjoyed it. Please do not send more stuff, your kind largesse embarrasses me and occasionally our tastes diverge!


  4. Double consonants: my (so far) favourite Finnish word is piikkilanka.
    Germans understand it immediately.


  5. Some friends of mine flew from Washington State to Georgia on a commercial flight the other day. Seatac airport was quiet, but there were a few food places open and the TSA security people were, if anything, lonely. The flight was maybe 20% full with lots of empty seats for social distancing. No food was served aboard. My friends said that Hartsfield in Atlanta was completely deserted. This airport has almost 200 gates. There wasn’t even a place open to buy a snack. No such adventures for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Re: “reverse werewolves”

    Terry Pratchett did it. Although his wereman was not intellectually disable, just a bit confused about what to do with his life.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As I remember it, yes.
        (it has been some time since I read it)
        In term of metamorphosis, Terry Pratchett ascribed to the school of the shape makes the function (a bit like David Eddings in his Belgariad cycle, but Pratchett does it for fun). If you become a wolf, then you acquire a wolf’s intelligence and persona. So, logically, a wolf becoming human will have human intelligence.
        Well, more or less, it could be a gradual phenomenon if that suits the story. For different reasons, both Angua and Granny Weatherwax have to fight to remember they started as human. Or close enough.
        The Librarian is a category upon himself. Still as intelligent as a human (maybe more so, now that a few things are out of the way), but no longer afflicted by human existentialism.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. What you say seems contradictory to me. Anyway, if the wolfwere acquires human intelligence upon transformation, it would have computing power but no data, no human memories, no knowledge of anything but running around in the woods chasing deer.


    1. Eh, if you are going to insist that folklore tales make sense 🙂
      By that logic, werewolves wouldn’t know how to behave in dog/wolf form. Or shapechangers going for a bird form wouldn’t know how to fly.
      However, I agree that the limits of the metamorphosis vary in function of the story Pratchett wanted to tell.

      Most of the time, it’s implied that the “data acquisition” happened – the ‘newly’ human had to learn to go around in the big city. But since it’s not fun (well, not for long), to describe a secondary character learning to pull on pants, the story is quickly moved onto more interesting parts.
      Also, Pratchett doesn’t make a clear cut between the two states, and between intelligence and persona. The transformed wolf keep memories of his wolf’s life (however little that may help, he is not a fully blank slate), and the author is conveniently fuzzy about where nature and nurture stop. For a start, a transformed creature acquires the language of its new form. Which, now I think of it, is weird. But again, rule of storytelling.
      And it’s not like there aren’t precedents…

      Liked by 1 person

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