Archives for January, 2013

Recent Archaeomags

Current Archaeology #273 (Dec) has an interesting feature on an 18th century ship of the line found hidden as a construction kit under the floor of a workshop at a naval dockyard in Kent. The timbers were re-used, but not in an economically or structurally rational way. Instead the greatest possible amount of ship’s timbers…

Quaint Local Pronunciation

My boss at the Academy of Letters used to head the National Archives. Here’s a story he told over coffee the other day. Some decades ago a delegation of Swedish archivists was driving across the American Midwest to visit a Mormon microfilming facility. Stopping in a small town for lunch, they noticed that it had…

Two years ago I was dismayed to find that a pair of crank authors had managed to slip a pseudo-archaeological paper into a respected geography journal. Last spring they seemed to have pulled off the same trick again, this time with an astronomy journal. Pseudoscience is after all a smelly next-door neighbour of interdisciplinary science.*…

Ferdinand Balfoort contributes a guest entry upon a recent ancestral pilgrimage to Stockholm. I gladly agreed to write something for the blog after being introduced by Martin to a book by Frans G. Bengtsson about Early Modern Scottish brigades (and brigadiers) in the Nordic region including Sweden. I visited Stockholm in December on my quest…

Hot on the heels of the hapless Science Publishing Group, I have received solicitation spam from another dodgy OA publisher, Hindawi Publishing in Cairo, with another odd on-line archaeology journal. The Journal of Archaeology has 71 academics on its editorial board. And a strangely generic name. What it doesn’t have is any published papers yet,…

November Pieces of My Mind

Selected Facebook updates: John Lennon offers a grammar lesson: “A working-class hero is something to be”. It’s an adjective and a noun. Not a verb. A friend of mine is rehearsing Orff’s Carmina Burana and not loving it: “I’m liking the work less with every rehearsal and we’re performing it three times in one week,…

Valkyrie Figurine From Hårby

Etymologically speaking, ”valkyrie” means ”chooser of the slain”. The job of these supernatural shield maidens in Norse mythology is to select who dies on the battlefield and guide their souls to Odin’s manor, where they will spend the afterlife training for the Twilight of the Gods, the final battle against the forces of chaos. After…

Bread and Microbes

I found some slightly mouldy bread in the cupboard, cut off the mould and made toast. And I thought about bread and microbes. For flavour, not as a raising agent, I make sour dough. My method is simple: I mix rye flour with water in a glass, cover it with cling film and put it…

The wonderful Curiosity rover on Mars has been much in the news lately, but let’s not forget about the previous rover generation! Opportunity landed on Mars nine Earth calendar years ago today on 25 January, and it still works fine. Its mate Spirit was mobile on the Red Planet for over five years and then…

The Swedish Skeptics have announced their annual awards for 2012. Both the Enlightener award and the Deceiver award are given to the editorial staff of programmes on Swedish national radio. Medierna is a weekly media criticism show. They roast journalists in an excellently skeptical fashion and have during the year touched upon mistreatment of subjects…