Mitchell & Webb Fake the Moon Landing

Via Global Atheist and Lousy Canuck.


Heretical Room Mate

My buddy Micke and his Japanese college room mate:

“I’m Ken Nakamura. Ken means ‘heresy’!”

“Really? That’s kind of… odd.”

“Yes! It means ‘HERESY’! Rike when you are never sick!”

“Ahaaa, you mean ‘healthy’…”

“Yes! Correct! What does your name mean?”

Archaeological Zombies

Image by Joseph Hewitt of Ataraxia Theatre.

Archaeology is a famously ghoulish pursuit whose practitioners are always on the look-out for dead bodies to gloat over. If we can’t find a grave, then at least we’ll try to get hold of animal bones from kitchen middens and sacrificial deposits. I’ve seen desperate Mesolithic researchers cackle with funereal glee over the toe bones of long-dead seals. Osteologists are of course the worst necrophiliacs of the lot. But nobody’s immune. There’s an anecdote going around about my old favourite teacher, where he lifts a pelvis out of a Middle Neolithic grave, licks his lips while turning the charnel thing over in his hands, and exclaims, “Now this was a very beautiful woman!”.

Less well known are the constant zombie encounters that archaeologists have to put up with. It’s not that we excavate a lot of zombies. Soft tissues decay rapidly, and once the main ligaments have dissolved, the zombie can’t really move any more. A de-fleshed zombie doesn’t automatically turn into an animated skeleton: those are mostly superstition. And cremation pretty much puts a dead guy in his place. No, the dead don’t rise much from the kind of sites we usually dig, unless you run into the rare lich king or barrow wight, or work in Egypt. Instead we tend to get a lot of recent zombies shuffling around our working environment.

It starts already at the university. Many lecturers turn into zombies scant years into their tenure, and non-zombies are rare among the adult education students in the night classes. I lost count of the times I had to flee from slavering carrion hordes down the nightmarish Modernist corridors of the South Buildings during my years at the University of Stockholm.

i-2413c9c34064a37937ec59d83d385bc1-fyllhammare.jpgThen you’re on your first training dig, and your co-workers turn out to be zombies. I remember this one excavation at Sanda in Fresta where a group of Samhall special-needs workers were employed for heavier tasks. They may have looked like park-bench drunks, and that confused me at first since I thought they were the main site staff, but soon it was all “Braaains… Braaains… Got a ciiiig’rette, buddy?” It’s simply stressful, what with all the digging implements around. Imagine what a zombie can do with a fyllhammare pointed hoe, right?

So you go on to grad school, and you need access to data and finds from old unpublished excavations. And sure enough: the retired fieldworkers controlling access to the stuff have all turned into zombies. How can you have a rational conversation about site plans and documentation methods with an old guy at a provincial museum when he’s trying to gnaw your arm off? It’s ridiculous.

Actually, museums are really the worst places for this. In the exhibitions, in the offices, and of course in every nook and cranny of the stores: it’s zombies, zombies, zombies. Those damp concrete tunnels beneath the Museum of National Antiquities… I shiver to think of them. At the very least you always have to get past some semi-decomposed colleague with a key card on a lanyard around her excarnated neck, rasping, “Wearrr glovessss when haaandling the fiiiindssss… Raaaahhh…”

As a profession, archaeology is second only to mortician work in popularity. I mean, most jobs don’t involve any handling of dead bodies at all, which means that you’ll have to get your kicks strictly in your free time. But nevertheless, before heading into the archaeology business, I think you should ask yourself, “Do I really want to be chased by zombies at work on a regular basis?”. Consider your alternatives. In the movie industry, for instance, the zombies are just normal people in scary make-up. You can have a cup of tea and a chat with them between takes. And you won’t have to endure the smell. Think about it!

And check out Joseph Hewitt’s open-source multi-platform robot game, GearHead!

In other news, the past three months were the best 2nd quarter for traffic I’ve seen so far as a blogger. Thanks guys!

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Kinky Ikea Bathrobe


So Ikea sells this bathrobe called “Njuta”. It’s a verb, meaning “experience (intense) pleasure”, and it’s usually reserved for pretty powerful kinds of pleasure such as good food, good music, good sex. And Junior’s robe size here is Small to Medium, which goes some way towards explaining why the sticker on his new bathrobe reads:

Experience Intense Pleasure


Becoming Lord of the Afterlife

I’m reading a collection of my favourite music critic’s journalism, Strage Text. Fredrik Strage and I were born the same year and both grew up loving Depeche Mode and Swedish role-playing games. He has a hilarious way of taking things that sound really cool in English and expressing them in Swedish, thus humanising the stars he portrays. And his calculated mix of slang and formality resonates with my own idiom.

In a 2005 interview with Turbonegro’s singer Hank von Helvete I found this gem about Tengil, the evil ruler in Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart. Said Hank,

“To me, Tengil is the book’s main character. He’s as narcissistic and hedonistic as Pippi Longstocking. He does what Pippi would have done if she’d been a man in his fifties. … He controls the people much like Pippi controls Tommy and Annika and Mrs. Pruzelius. But his most impressive achievement is conquering the afterlife. I mean, Nangijala is where you go when you die. You gotta wonder, what was Tengil up to in his previous life? My feeling is he was probably Pippi Longstocking.”

Dark Vengeance of Cryptic Slaughter


Discreetly hidden under the northern side of the eastern bridgehead of rural Täckhammar bridge is a spray-painted mural. I found it while checking for geocaches. It depicts an evil-looking male face accompanied by a really funny piece of Satanist prose poetry.

“Dark vengeance of cryptic slaughter and Satanic suffering. The boundaries of Hell will brake [!] and humanity fall into frantic oblivion. Hatred and pain will forever rule the realm of Man.”

Dark Vengeance is a 1998 computer game. Cryptic Slaughter was an 80s thrash metal band. “Frantic oblivion”, though an oxymoron, is actually a common expression with many google hits. The mural is protected from the elements down there, and my guess is that it was sprayed a decade ago (note the algae covering the left-hand margin) by some metal-head teen. I wonder if he still foresees the braking of the boundaries of Hell.

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A Modest Proposal to Eradicate Square Dance

In many of the world’s most affluent countries, the population is shrinking because people aren’t having enough children to replace the folks who die. This offers some hope to solve global overpopulation, though unfortunately the solution involves eradicating poverty and establishing global ecological sustainability, which ain’t exactly easy.

These shrinking populations become demographically top-heavy, with few young people to support the elderly. Luckily, health care is so good in e.g. Japan and Scandinavia that old folks are in much better shape than they were two generations ago. Therefore everyone agrees that the age of retirement has to be raised here. Allowing all Swedish 65-y-os to retire is ridiculous. It’s like allowing all 50-y-os in 1940 to retire.

But where should we draw the line? Experience shows that arbitrarily deciding on a certain minimum retirement age forces us to change the rules very few decades. Instead we might look at skill levels. Swedish retirees squander their considerable energies on a range of pointless and demeaning pastimes. I propose that anyone who is physically fit enough to play golf or do square dance, and intellectually fit enough to perform genealogical research or follow a lecture organised by the local historical society, has not yet reached retirement age.

Such a reform would benefit public finances immensely, and also rescue the dignity of countless Baby Boomers who in their youth very rightly scoffed at any suggestion of square dance. Imagine them being able to look their grandchildren in the eye again! It would heighten national pride no end if we could eradicate genealogical research. And golf!

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