May Pieces Of My Mind #1

Deer like to browse our back lawn and take naps.

  • Pugh Rogefeldt has passed away aged 76. His 1969 début album is one of the first and still best rock records ever made in Sweden!
  • Futuristic music still sounds like The Prodigy did 30 years ago.
  • Someone has suggested that Lovecraft had a calculated reason for writing rugose, squamous, gibbous instead of ribbed, scaly, near-full. Not understanding the description of something scary is way more disturbing than any fully comprehensible description can ever be. A brief partial glimpse of a monster instead of a well-lit full-figure portrait.
  • There were typists on the moon bases Arthur C. Clarke imagined around 1950.
  • After playing Zork-like text adventures for hours as a boy, I would feel like primary reality was also an adventure game where you had to explore any place you could go to and pick up any loose objects.
  • Get this: they can determine the sex and the population-genetical affiliation of a person who lived 20,000 years ago by sampling a pendant she wore. They have no other remains of her body. In recent years we have alse seen ancient human DNA being recovered from chewed birch pitch and floor dirt!
  • In Poland it’s bad luck to shake hands through a doorway.
  • Repatriated Benin brasses are ending up in private royal hands. Despite the country not being a kingdom anymore.
  • Lord Dunsany’s “As It Seems to the Blackbird” has a lot in common with Machen’s “Great God Pan”. Using brain manipulation to gain a fuller impression of the world’s beauty and horror.
  • The Norwegian child mass murderer believes that there is a Jewish conspiracy to make Europe Islamic by means of vigorous baby making.
  • Maybe the main lesson of the stochastic parrots is that very few people can write anything that is factually and grammatically correct yet also highly original. The real reason that the machine is shit is that we are also mostly shit.
  • Thinking about the low life expectancy during prehistory, I mused, which one of the illnesses I’ve survived would have killed me then at a young age? Pneumonia maybe. Then I realised, I would have died from an illness that I’ve never even had thanks to vaccines, hygiene and sanitation.
  • Yay! One of the students on my 2020-21 excavation team is just graduating and has immediately got a museum job!
  • There’s a 90s alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove where aliens arrive during WW2 and sell tactical nukes to the inhabitants of the Warsaw ghetto.
  • The role of Solidarność in recent Polish history is really difficult to understand if you start from West European assumptions about anti-imperialist resistance movements. It started as a labour union. And became a Polish nationalist movement. And strongly anti-Communist. And strongly anti-Russian. And strongly pro-Catholic. And currently supports the extreme-right government.

April Pieces Of My Mind #2

The Grünewald Hall in Stockholm’s Concert Hall

  • My boyhood experience with D&D gave me a set of erroneous assumptions about academia. In D&D, the game master will usually follow the rule book and will tell you beforehand which rules don’t apply. And in D&D, everyone gets to level up as soon as they have collected a certain number of experience points.
  • Another rural kebab place, I ask for bulgur and ayran, and it happens again. The guy stares at me and asks, “Where are you from?! This is the first time in eight years that somebody asks for bulgur!” “I’m from Fisksätra”, I reply.
  • The mites on my body have a religion that causes them to transport lint around. Then they sacrifice it in my navel and at the nape of my neck.
  • Given the state of gender politics in the 1970s, it’s kind of odd to find Elvis apologising for not putting out sexually often enough in “Always On My Mind”. The explanation is that the song was intended for a female singer. With Dusty Springfield’s “Spooky” it’s the other way around. Both songs are gender flipped in their hit versions.
  • I remember when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was just one unlikely indie hit comics album.

January Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • An idea: the 1980s cassette course in a foreign language found in your batty old aunt’s home after the funeral turns out to teach an extraterrestrial language that opens your Third Eye to the cosmos and slowly drives you insane. Now Duolingo wants to put it online…
  • Movie: UFO Sweden (2022). This is a big-budget X-Files feature film about a misfit UFO investigation club — but made in the style of Swedish children’s TV, set around Norrköping, several characters speak dialect, and there’s a lot of comic relief revolving around Swedish self-perception. Grade: great!
  • We look quite differently at violent nationalist movements when they are underdog freedom fighters and when they are topdog oppressors. But often one turns into the other. Maybe the distinction between the two types of violent nationalist movement is redundant.
  • Working from home, I occasionally feel a little lonely. But there are two kinds of weather that make me super pleased not to have to go to an office. One is extremely good weather. One is extremely bad weather. Today is a cold, rainy, windy day. I ain’t leaving the house!
  • Funny how Fundie Christian groups focus on the straight nuclear family. Jesus certainly didn’t.
  • Was asked to contribute some provocative debate starters for a workshop weeks from now. I’ve already written them, but I’m so used to online life that I have this vague feeling that any minute now a lot of angry people will start commenting. On something that only I can read.
  • Saw the trailer for the upcoming D&D movie the other day. Was confused to find remixed 70s hit songs on the sound track. A battle scene has Robert Plant offering you every inch of his love. Another tense scene has Elton John — a mongrel who ain’t got a penny — thinking wistfully about leaving his drug-addled socialite sugar daddy and going back to his plough. Don’t the film makers know that people listen to song lyrics?
  • Oh no, the SkepDoc Harriet Hall has passed away! I met her in Florida once, she was such a nice person and such a good writer.
  • An old lady wrote me and asked for a summary of our recent investigations at Aska in Hagebyhöga. Then she informed me that the most recent results are that the platform hall was built by a powerful Viking Period woman, and asked what my opinion is. I replied “The most recent results are from my project. The hall was built before the Viking Period, most likely by slaves, at the orders of a powerful family”. Highly original thinker. “Hello, I know that you have recently investigated a site for years, but I haven’t read your work, now let me explain the most recent ideas about your site to you”.
  • One month to either side of the winter solstice is unacceptably dark in Stockholm. Less than a week left now until that period ends!
  • Movie: Prey (2022). Sportsman goes trophy hunting on one of his favourite planets in 1719, is inconvenienced by Native American teenagers and a large group of trappers whose ridiculous attempts at simulating the French language make it a joy to see them all killed. Grade: good!
  • We have long known several runic inscriptions from AD 150-200. But the new find may be the oldest rune stone so far. However, the radiocarbon date should be seen in relation to the maritime reservoir effect, that is, how much fish the deceased ate. S/he may have died much later.
  • Capitalism was a historically contingent abstract game back when it involved the manipulation of coins with an actual value in precious metals. Today it mostly doesn’t involve any kind of physical money at all. A US dollar is no more real than a DogeCoin or an NFT monkey picture. And the rules of the game are no more natural laws now than they were in AD 1400. We have founded the well-being of our societies on emergent behaviours of an extremely large number of people playing Settlers of Catan with our labour and the planet’s resources.
  • Movie: One False Move (1992). Two killers from the cocaine underground and one guy’s girlfriend flee Los Angeles with city cops on their tail to the woman’s little home town in Arkansas. There the local police chief awaits them, who hasn’t drawn his gun in years. But what’s his relationship to the young woman? Grade: good!

December Pieces Of My Mind #1

At the Stockholm Toy Museum

  • Read an interesting view of the increasingly bold covid lockdown protests in China. Dangerous to participate. Have these people forgotten about the Tiananmen Massacre? Actually they probably have. Because of Party censorship, that event is little known as a deterrent.
  • In its annual stat dump, Spotify tells me that I like rock, neo-psychedelia, indie rock, psychedelic doom (a.k.a. stoner rock) and alternative rock. A big change in my listening behaviour with the arrival of streaming services was that I abandoned albums altogether. There are lots of bands where I love three songs and I have no idea what else they’ve done.
  • Found a copy of Neue Zürcher Zeitung on the train home from Lecco. Excellent paper, like onion skin.
  • Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods (1998) describes pre-GPS hiking. He’s super angry with the inadequate official paper maps of the Appalachian Trail. President Clinton opened GPS to the public in 2000.
  • Annoying boardgame design feature: when you gain new complicated individual abilities through the game, and you forget to use them.
  • If on an empty highway at night you engage cruise control on your Tesla and fall asleep, then the car will zig zag lazily mile after mile, automatically avoiding the barriers, neatly blinking its indicators each time it changes direction. You may wake up on an off ramp that the car happens to enter. Or just travel on.
  • People with a historical perspective tend to assume that if you follow the written sources back to the earliest ones, you encounter the Original State of Humanity. I find it fascinating that before written history, there’s actually hundreds of thousands of years of kaleidoscopic cultural change before you get back to the H. sapiens speciation event.
  • Somebody should write a study of American musicians’ attempted name changes.
  • There is no breathable air inside the Orion capsule during the début flight, only nitrogen.

Go Away, Sanctimonious Fellow Leftie

I hardly ever get attacked online by people whose opinions I fundamentally oppose. They mostly just ignore me, even though I frequently attack them and their organisations in public. But every now and then I get these really vicious attacks from people who know that I basically share their opinions. Usually they get angry with me because I (seem to) question some in-tribe Leftie sacred truth.

One example was when I mused ”I wonder when the covid vaccine will become commercially available and what it will cost”. People went apeshit over this and called me a bad Social Democrat, apparently because somehow they interpreted the question to mean a declarative statement, ”I think rich people should be able to buy the vaccine ahead of everyone else”. Another was when I said that I think it’s great that modern medicine allows women to opt out of Down syndrome pregnancies. Again, some people apparently interpreted this quite differently, perhaps as ”Down syndrome people have no value and should all just be shot”. Or the time when I said that I didn’t see the practical value of organising a massive multi-thousand participant protest rally against a small local neo-Nazi club, when 90% of the parliamentary voters supported explicitly anti-Nazi parties. Or the time when I scoffed at the most recent ungainly euphemism for disability.

I’ve been trying to formulate my view of these attacks from the Left. There are some good English and Swedish words.

  • Over-earnest
  • Sanctimonious
  • Self-righteous
  • Prissy
  • Humourless
  • Condescending
  • Förnumstig
  • Distanslös
  • Självgod
  • Nedlåtande

Facebook calls your contacts ”friends”. That’s my yardstick there. If people are unfriendly on Facebook, for instance by not giving me the benefit of the doubt if they question something I seem to say, I usually block them right away. I’m not on the social media to debate hostile people. At the time of writing, I have 3267 Facebook friends and there are 44 names on my block list.

See also: Relatively Woke.