A Female Viking Warrior Interred at Birka

In archaeology, we distinguish osteological sex from artefact gender. Osteo-sex is with very few exceptions (odd chromosomal setups) the same thing as what your genitals are like. Artefact gender is the material correlate of a role you play according to the conventions of your time: e.g. whether you keep your genitals in Y-fronts or lacy…

September Pieces Of My Mind #1

Five years since my first teaching gig. Still temping today, still enjoying it, still think I should have a steady job. LinkedIn suggests that I might apply for a job as home language teacher of Kannada, a Dravidian language spoken in southern India. 15% of full time. Did Timothy Leary use TripAdvisor? Richard Bradley discusses…

August Pieces Of My Mind #3

I’m confused. For years and years this boy lived with me. Now instead there’s a tall young man studying engineering in Jönköping. I somehow helped make this happen. It’s strange to me. The most common surnames among my DNA relatives are Johansson, Nilsson and Persson. All three are among the ten most common surnames in…

August Pieces Of My Mind #2

I don’t get it, safe deposit boxes, Sw. bankfack. Are they a disappearing bank service? Do I know anyone under the age of 50 who has one? What do you guys keep there? Do you wonder if I’ve got my shit together? I’ll tell you. I have street maps of Helsinki from visits in 2002…

Stop Prefixing with “So”

I was pleased to learn from Current Archaeology #330 (p. 65) that Chris Catling shares my distaste for the habit scientists have recently picked up of prefixing their answers to interview questions with ”So…”. Q: Where did you find the new exciting fossil? A: So we found it in Mongolia. Q: How old is it?…

WorldCon 75 in Helsinki

The 75th World Science Fiction Convention took place in Helsinki and seems to have had the second-highest attendance ever: more than 7000 people in the Messukeskus convention centre, 2000 of whom had (like myself) never attended a WorldCon before. There were 250 programme items only on the Friday between 10 am and 10 pm, so there is…

August Pieces Of My Mind #1

Reading Matt Ruff’s new novel about black Americans in the 50s. Annoyed to find that nothing in the dialogue would sound out of place if spoken by a white American sci-fi fan in 2017. Feared 45 would be the sort who gets the trains running on time and starts wars. Actually can’t get trains running…

July Pieces Of My Mind #3

“Ways of knowing” = alternative facts. I am on a WorldCon panel about the Medieval mind and fantasy literature. I just had the (unoriginal) idea to say that the High and Late Medieval aristocracy lived largely in an Arthurian fantasy world of their own creation. Last night a skinny cat came miaowing at our door.…

Yesterday we had a guest entry from Lars Amréus, the Director General of the National Heritage Board about the signage with fringe theories at a much-visited archaeological site in southern Sweden. As I read it, the main take-away message is ”Sorry, I know this used to be our job but it isn’t any more”. So…

July Pieces Of My Mind #2

Los Alamos means “the poplars”. A friend lent me J.P. Hogan’s 1980 novel Thrice Upon A Time. It’s set in 2010 but has pre-PC “mini” computers the size of fridges, with text terminals and command-line interfaces. Four years before Neuromancer… 1970s computer designers: “What? You folks run your screens in graphics mode all the time?…