June Pieces Of My Mind #2

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Dragon’s head on one of the 11th century runestones reused in the foundation of Strängnäs Cathedral
  • Saying “Don’t delete history” about statue removal reveals a misunderstanding of the function of statues. Many of them communicate values in the present. Our knowledge of Hitler and Stalin doesn’t decrease when we remove their statues. We remove them to communicate values in the present. Because we are no longer people who honour Hitler or Stalin with public statuary. Despite them both being unavoidable historical figures. You don’t remove history by removing statues. Those are neither historical source material nor effective teaching tools. Almost none of them are even coeval with the person they depict.
  • No strong / stinky cheese in the fridge. Must go hunting.
  • Jrette has levelled up to junior camp counsellor.
  • A friend has invited us and a group of botanists and journal editors to her isolated summer house at a picturesque lake in the woods. Nobody knows each other. This is clearly the setup for a movie, and I see three possibilities. This is a murder mystery. Or a Lovecraftian horror story. Or a 1970s soft-porn comedy.
  • Junior’s podcast: “Jumping Flash made a splash in 1995, when it was the first 3D platformer to hit consoles. But did you know there’s a third game in the series, released only in Japan?”
  • Today’s the 28th anniversary of me starting my first archaeological job. It’s also the day when my dear old thesis supervisor Jan Peder Lamm passed away.
  • I’m running Microsoft Teams under Ubuntu Linux. A native Microsoft application. Unaccustomed!
  • Played Call of Cthulhu. My character the psychoanalyst got axed down by a possessed mental hospital orderly. But my other character the fake spirit medium helped take the killer down by beating him over the head with an enema pump filled with salty water. Happy ending!
  • Czech colleagues asked if I will show up to their conference in August, with an eye to the pandemic. I checked whether it would be safe for me to visit this potentially scary foreign country. Turned out that I would be much safer there, but that there is no guarantee that they’ll let me in as they consider Sweden one of the scariest countries in Europe.
  • The Spandauer Zitadelle has an exhibition of statues pulled down in Berlin in the 20th century.
  • Movie: Parasite (2019). The members of a poor family infiltrate the home of a gullible rich family as employees. Mayhem ensues. Grade: OK.
  • Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children is set in AD 2175. There are still phone booths, no cell phones. In ch. 5 a man rents a jet plane, then lands halfway to find a phone booth because he needs to make a call. Space stations receive physical paper mail by mail rocket.
  • I assume that linguists prefer linguine over all other pasta.

Author: Martin R

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

12 thoughts on “June Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Now and then science fiction writers do this intentionally. Stirling’s ‘The Sky People’ and ‘In the Courts of the Crimson Kings’ are set on Venus and Mars respectively. The idea was that the first US and Russian space probes found human life on those planets and went big on space exploration to the detriment of other technologies. Big rockets to the space colonies, but they’re still mainly using film cameras. The worlds were loosely Edgar Rice Burrough’s versions of the planets. Both books are a lot of fun.

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  2. I’m surprised Trump is mouthing off more about that anti-fa memorial in DC. It’s to honor the veterans of World War II. You’d think with all the people going foamy mouthed over anti-fa, there would be more World War II revisionism.

    You are right about statuary. I remember being impressed with the Great War memorial in Sydney, NSW. A lot of Australians served in that war. It was interesting to see the statue included male soldiers and female nurses. Most war monuments forget that women were served too. (In France, they were often cantinieres in charge of doling out meals. I saw a great exhibit of their regimental dresses. In the US west, they were often laundresses with one required for every three soldiers.)

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  3. > This is clearly the setup for a movie, and I see three possibilities. This is a murder mystery. Or a Lovecraftian horror story. Or a 1970s soft-porn comedy.

    Or all three!

    “So, The Colonel is dead, stabbed with a Indian dagger in the library. One of us is masquerading as a Being from Beyond Space and Time. And … is that a tentacle or are you just happy to see me?”

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  4. A setup for a movie… if it is an outright horror film, do what Ash did and attach a chain saw to the stump of your bitten-off hand!
    .
    Our consumer electronics have surpassed the hopes of SF with the big exception of ‘strong’ general AI.
    Spaceship development have been held up by materials science; aluminium and steel get soft at high enough temperatures and carbon cpmposites-while lightweight- have their own set of problems.
    Ceramics are heat-resistent but as the last space shuttle disaster showed, they are brittle (at least up to today) and prone to catastrophic failure.
    Flying cars demand a level of computer control we only are approaching recently, the same goes for walking robots.
    Biotech is likewise dependent on a knowledge base we only recently have achieved.
    Nuclear thermal rockets could have been designed in the 1970s but have been held back by politics.
    Nuclear powerplants are *very* expensive and this has held back experimentation.
    We *may* be om the brink on biotech producing butanol as a simple replacement for petroleum if cost is pressed below petrol.

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  5. Most science fiction writers are overly conservative when it comes to considering secondary effects of technical advances. Heinlein was a sharp observer in some ways–the notion that the US might turn into a fundamentalist theocracy is a lot less farfetched than when he wrote the Future History stories–but he was also myopic about technological advances in other areas, such as having fully portable communication devices.

    This tendency toward underestimating technological progress and the social consequences is so prevalent that it is easier to list the times when an author did not fall into that trap. I can think of two. In Isaac Asimov’s short story “The Feeling of Power”, political leaders discover a man with a remarkable ability: he can do basic arithmetic with pencil and paper, a skill mostly forgotten because calculators are so prevalent (remember that this story was written in the 1950s, when calculators were not portable). The other is Ender’s Game: the novel has a subplot in which the protagonist’s older brother and sister become pseudonymous internet pundits (the novel was written at a time when the internet was still an academic/DARPA plaything).

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  6. “This is a murder mystery. Or a Lovecraftian horror story. Or a 1970s soft-porn comedy.”

    Or all three. Or a lost film by Ingmar Bergman.

    Like

  7. “Heinlein’s Methuselah’s Children is set in AD 2175. There are still phone booths, no cell phones. In ch. 5 a man rents a jet plane, then lands halfway to find a phone booth because he needs to make a call. Space stations receive physical paper mail by mail rocket.”

    Clarke’s Islands in the Sky had a communications satellite—with women sitting in it connecting calls by hand. Asimov’s far-future Foundation trilogy has people buying newspapers from machines.

    But Asimov also got many things right; one is mentioned above. And Clarke was very perceptive about the internet. Apart from calling it the internet (by the way, how many today know what wireless world, where his communications-satellite paper appeared, actually means?), Clarke described essentially everything we are familiar with in connection with the internet. He even wrote a short story about internet porn.

    Liked by 1 person

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