Archives for January, 2012

Dungeon Dudgeon Gudgeon Bludgeon

Dungeon: a massive inner tower in a Medieval castle or a dark usually underground prison or vault. Traceable back to Latin dominus, lord. Dudgeon: a wood used especially for dagger hilts or a fit or state of indignation. Traceable back to Anglo-French digeon. Gudgeon: a pivot or a small European freshwater fish (Gobio gobio, Sw.…

Recent Archaeomags

British Archaeology #122 (Jan/Feb) has a good feature on the origins of Roman London, presenting and collating evidence from excavations in the 90s and 00s for a military camp immediately post-dating the AD 43 invasion of Britain. The editors have slapped a silly headline on the thing though, playing up a short passage about human…

Dear Reader, remember the remote-controlled Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity? How long is it since the last time you thought of them? Opportunity landed on Mars eight Earth calendar years ago today, and it still works fine! Its mate Spirit was mobile on the Red Planet for over five years and then functioned as a…

Car question. When I turn on my windshield wipers, the energy for those two step motors comes from the battery. And it comes to the battery from the gas tank via the alternator. This means that if I drive with my wipers on, I will run out of gas sooner. But doesn’t the alternator constantly…

Baby Aardvark

Spring Travel & Speaking Schedule

25-26 February. Blankaholm, Swedish East Coast archaeology conference, speaking about picture stones 7-9 March. Danish Viborg, Bronze Age burial conference 15-17 March. Paris, European Archaeological Council, Annual Meeting 21 March. Stockholm, Senioruniversitetet / ABF, speaking about pseudoarchaeology 24 March. Eskilstuna skeptics group, speaking about pseudoarchaeology 16 April. Västerås / Westeros, Senioruniversitetet, speaking about regional archaeology…

De-Lurk

It’s time we had a de-lurk around this here blog! The last one was a year ago. If you keep returning to this blog but rarely or never comment, you are a lurker, Dear Reader, and a most welcome one too. Please comment on this entry and tell us something about yourself – like where…

Rue Poirier de Narcay

When I was 16 in 1988 I spent a couple of days in Paris with a language school. I brought the address for a game store, one that advertised in White Dwarf magazine. It was on Rue Poirier de Narcay, which turned out not to be a central location, and so I never went there.…

Skeptic’s Guide Interview

I’m on the latest instalment of the Skeptic’s Guide podcast talking about the Mora/Orsa electrophobia case and the Obscurantist of the Year anti-award. I also mention a bunch of upcoming European skeptics’ conventions, though Steve Novella cut out the bit where I recommended that the skeptical rogues grow mullet hair styles and mustaches for the…

Saltpetre, potassium nitrate, is added to food to give meat products a nicer colour. One winter in the 70s when we were living in Connecticut, my dad went to a New York drug store to buy saltpetre for our traditional Christmas ham. And the elderly druggist winked at him and said this odd thing. “Hehe,…