January Pieces Of My Mind #2

Meet our neighbours, Rabbit and Pheasant.
  • I knew Olle Sahlin for almost 40 years. He was my temp teacher first. Then a gaming celebrity. Then a Tolkien Society friend. Then the partner of my fiancée’s best friend and our marriage witness. We had a joint birthday party in ’96 when I turned two dozen and he turned two score. Then he did the typographic design on my PhD thesis. He was 64 when he succumbed to autoimmune disease, an unlucky genetic die roll.
  • We don’t worry about cadmium in plastics anymore like they did in the parenting magazine my mom subscribed to in 1979.
  • “The problem for the GOP is that every Republican on Capitol Hill needs the support of these protesters — and people like them — for survival,” a senior Trump adviser said. “Unless and until the party can find a message that is more popular with the white working class than Donald Trump, there is no bright future for Republicans.” politico.com
  • So funny what Americans call the “radical left”. The Swedish word for those policy positions is gråsosse, “grey social democrat”. You should see the European radical left!
  • There’s a Starmer waiting in the sky
  • Almost unbroken overcast for 6½ weeks. The weeks with the least daylight in a northern year. Because of the pandemic, I don’t leave my home area much. There’s hardly anything happening anyway. And no snow. So apart from the vaccination starting, this is the worst winter I’ve ever seen.
  • The various Slavic names for Germans and Germany go back to a word meaning “mute”. The ones who don’t respond comprehensibly when you speak to them in Slavic!
  • Looking at the entire dataset of presidential impeachments since 1776, roughly half of them have been directed at men named Donald.
  • H.P. Lovecraft idealised the 18th century Enlightenment and was highly skeptical of the 17th century Puritan religious orthodoxy that preceded it in his native New England. In his fiction, Puritanism is always bad. Even 17th century architecture is evil. Lovecraft lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Now I learn that the Puritans of the nearby mainland hated Rhode Island because it was not a religious colony! Period writers call it “the Isle of Errors”, “the sewer of New England”, and warn against profane “Rhode Islandism”.
  • Joey Santiago’s Twitter bio says simply “I have attended every show the Pixies have ever performed.”
  • Surprised and intrigued to find that H.P. Lovecraft’s obsession with degeneracy, backsliding, miscegenation, creolisation goes straight, word-for-word, back to local New England Puritan writings of the mid-to-later 1600s. They wrote about lapsing from Puritanism and Englishness.
  • While editing the journal Fornvännen, I dealt with a few rather difficult authors who didn’t like to get edited. One, I recall, had the idea that in a bibliography you must print the city of publication exactly as it is printed in the book. It was a good moment when I could see the coin drop in them after I explained “You are writing in Swedish. There is no reason for you to use the Finnish and Danish forms of those countries’ capitals’ names anywhere in this paper.”
  • Our back yard in Cos Cob, Connecticut, when I was 5 years old. Fireflies. Raccoons. Huge tomato. Small cucumbers. Climbable rock face. Interesting pieces of roofing felt blew off the neighbours’ abandoned gazebo.
  • Myself and Julia Schulte Koskinen have published our report on September’s fieldwork at the West Cemeteries of Aska in Hagebyhöga, home of the famous 1920 burial with the many silver pendants.
  • Biden to elevate top White House science post to Cabinet level!
  • Amazed by these morons who compare the mortality stats for 2020 with other years and conclude that covid-19 is no biggie. You may have noticed that we kind of didn’t behave quite like other years in 2020?!?!?
  • Density of granulated sugar: 850-900 g per litre. Icing sugar: 600 g per litre.
  • Fun fact: “This rewrites history” means “This is interesting additional source material”.
  • Osteologist Rudolf Gustavsson reports a preliminary result from the Aska platform mound: the highly fragmented bones from the capping stone layer laid down after the mead-hall was torn down include several human skull fragments. Can’t wait to do radiocarbon and ancient DNA on them! This is the third such skull find I’m aware of from Viking Period Östergötland. There’s also Herrebro in Borg parish and Ströja in Kvillinge.
  • About that deceased murderer & music producer. It’s pointless to classify people as good/evil. Our actions spring directly from nature and nurture. For this reason, when someone commits a gravely violent act, I always find it equally pointless that the court wants to find out if the person was sane and responsible for their actions. It’s completely beside the point. All we need to know is that this is a person who is prone to gravely violent acts and needs to be monitored.
  • I’m having a blast at work since I started at Uni Łódź and embarked on full-time research. Looks like I’m excavating at six sites this season!
  • C. 1700-1830 there was a form of poor man’s unarmed honour duel in America with the expected outcome that the loser got an eye gouged out or a nose, ear or lip bitten off.
  • Haha, this is awesome. 40 years after the American Revolution, many New Englanders were so unhappy with the USA that they seriously discussed seceding from the Union! They had been eclipsed by Virginian leaders and didn’t like all the Frenchmen, Spaniards, slavers and Native Americans that they were politically united with. See the Hartford Convention. (US folks no doubt learn this in middle school.)
  • In Mark Twain’s 1881 novel The Prince and the Pauper there’s this scene. A soldier, just returned to London from years of imprisonment in France, rescues a 9-y-o boy dressed in rags from the boy’s abusive father. He then takes the child from the street straight up to his cheap hotel room and… decides on the spot to become a kindly foster father to the boy. I wonder if you could get this past an editor today, no matter if you pitched it as a book for grownups or for children.
  • The Soyuz is a dependable bus to orbit and back. Over 140 of them have flown since 1966. Good tech! Though not reusable.
  • When you take up gardening in an area with cold winters like Scandyland, your longing for spring reaches new insane depths. I spend absurd amounts of time thinking about rose bushes.
  • 1.4% of Sweden’s population has received the first shot since vaccination started 3 weeks ago. Risk groups first.

Author: Martin R

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

2 thoughts on “January Pieces Of My Mind #2”

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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