November Pieces Of My Mind

  • Once when I was a kid I read in the paper that Elvis had stolen black people’s music and sold it to the whites. What an incredibly racist perspective.
  • Archaeologists have it easy at Hallowe’en parties. No need to dress up: just be a grave robber and come as you are.
  • You know you’re not a kid any more when your wife buys Bornholms Rugkiks crackers.
  • Love the scent of bog myrtle and marsh Labrador tea, pors & skvattram.
  • Let’s all start pronouncing Asquith “ass queef”.
  • Correspondence analysis: Freudian therapy conducted by mail.
  • Students demand that I teach them during the spring term as well, for which staffing has yet to be decided. I tell them to talk to the higher ups. *smug*
  • Had slight double vision. Realised that there were two contact lenses in my right eye.
  • Listening to Radiolab about how come Kalenjin tribesmen are such great long-distance runners. Is it their slender build? Their grisly initiation/circumcision ceremonies that inure them to pain? A genetic selection process producing a phenotype with dulled pain sensors? And all the while I’m getting increasingly annoyed, until I almost scream WHO THE FUCK CARES HOW COME THEY CAN FUCKING RUN FAST? RUNNING IS A WORTHLESS JOCK PASTIME! RABBITS RUN FAST AND NOBODY GIVES A SHIT! I PISS ON ALL ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT! Thank you.
  • The Song of Solomon endorses interracial marriage. But mainly nookie.
  • My Irish colleagues talk like Paddy, which endears them to me. But the chip shop staff’s sociolect was almost incomprehensible. Same in the Orkney chip shop where I had dinner a few years ago.
  • Descending towards Heathrow I saw Diwali fireworks from above in the suburbs.
  • Are the employees of Aer Lingus unusually good at cunnilingus?
  • Not once but twice during our three years of high school French lessons, Tor and I were given an exercise form where we were supposed to complete a sentence that translated literally to “The professor congratulated the young girls. They had satisfied him.”
  • Jrette gave me chocolate for a Father’s Day gift, commenting that it’s a relief to have a dad whom it’s so easy to find welcome presents for. Love that child to bits!
  • I just had a soul-rattling epiphany. You know the terrycloth pillow case that you put on (semi-permanently) before you put on the outer pillow case? I know a lot of you won’t believe me, but do please bear with me, OK? Those terrycloth pillow cases — you don’t actually have to bring them from your parents’ house when you move out at 18! You can buy new ones at any time without even alerting your mom!!!
  • Shall I compare thee to a neo-otyugh?
  • Odd queasy/intimate experience to walk into a co-ed airport WC and find it smelling strongly and unmistakeably of some unknown woman’s used menstruation pad.
  • Note to self: must some day use the phrase “She wasn’t half-assed and he wasn’t half-cocked” on a writing project.
  • Heard on the Naked Scientists podcast that the cause of psychosis is increasingly believed to be autoimmune.
  • Violently honour-oriented patriarchal families simulate liberal Swedish values to regain control over the daughters they threaten.
  • I like the term “field runologist”. There’s a recurring field-runological conference where these people get together outdoors and look at runic inscriptions, discussing variant readings etc.
  • Little-known fact: the word hotosho, to which the name of a popular image processing program alludes, is Japanese for “proctologist”.
  • Awkward moment: well-meaning Chinese dude tries to bond with the Swede over soccer. Swede explains politely that he is not a jock and doesn’t give a damn.
  • Classic symptom of low computer literacy: a person leaves the Adobe Reader icon on their desktop.
  • The Swedish word mökom means “let us break wind”.
  • Hell’s Angels at Bromma airport have a sign on their building with the typical Swedish mistake “motorcycleclub”. Born to be wild in spelling matters.
  • I wonder what’s worse for a parent of teens. Remembering one’s own troubled teens and seeing the same shit repeat itself. Or remembering calm cheerful teens and looking at one’s kid as an incomprehensible space alien.
  • Perse means arse in Finnish. Reading academic prose it’s always worthwhile to read “asshole” when the text says “per se”.
  • Norway currently negotiating the metal detector hobby that Denmark has already incorporated into its culture, while Sweden sticks fingers in ears and goes “NANANANANA”.
  • The cute and heartwarming thing about occultists is that they believe the universe gives a damn about their ritual transgressions, minuscule though they are in the greater scheme of things.
  • This 2013 paperback has a lot of intriguing manufacturing faults. The paper roll seems to have torn in the press and been roughly joined up with sticky tape. There are several pairs of empty pages. Quite charming in this day and age, particularly as no text is missing. Reminds me of the Swedish 17th c. printer Johann Kankel who will sometimes turn letters upside down or skip a page number so odds and evens change places.
  • This morning I discovered that I am greying at the temples.
  • Realisation: if I were to review my own 1993 project proposal for grad school, I would recommend that young Rundkvist’s application be turned down. I would tell him that assembling and publishing large fragmented data sets spread out across many archival institutions is not what grad school is about and not a realistic way to get a PhD in 4 years. I would tell him to go find some well-published but under-used data and come back with a proposal for a project to perform question-focused analyses of that data.
  • In Works & Days, Hesiod warns his audience never to fart in a river or spring.
  • Here a Japanese person is writing about rune stones, describing the script as “runatic”.


  1. #1 Derek
    November 30, 2013

    It’s a cliché in Britain to say that the further into the North Atlantic the Scottish islands get, the more they talk like Scandinavians, so it’s surprising to hear you had more trouble with Orcadians than with the English, Irish, or Scottish. How well do you cope with a Shetland accent?

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    November 30, 2013

    On the origins of rock and roll: The US of the 1950s had a quite racist culture. Jim Crow laws, the American version of apartheid, were still in effect in the South, and in other parts of the US many municipalities were “sundown towns”, meaning that non-whites couldn’t stay there overnight. Many states would not have recognized your marriage. So while accusing Elvis of stealing the music may be a bit over the top, the statement is otherwise accurate: rock and roll started in the American black community and spread, via Elvis and a few other pioneers, to the American white community and thence to the rest of the world. Similar things happened earlier with jazz and blues, and later with hip-hop.

    In the same vein, one of the stereotypical traits of American preachers, especially of the fundamentalist variety, is to warn kids about the evils of rock and roll. Aimee Semple MacPherson, one of the most prominent such figures of the 1920s and 1930s (she would have been a televangelist if TV had existed; she did have a radio network to broadcast her sermons), routinely made similar comments about jazz.

    I’ve also seen fireworks from above. I was arriving in Portland, Maine, on Independence Day, about an hour after sunset.

  3. #3 Kaleberg
    December 1, 2013

    Supposedly the best place to watch fireworks from above is in the whatever they call the John Hancock tower in Chicago these days. There are apartments on the upper floors, so you can watch fireworks exploding over the lake from above in your own living room. It’s supposed to be an amazing experience.

  4. #4 Kaleberg
    December 1, 2013

    Eric Lund has it right. African Americans invented all sorts of music, but had a lot of trouble making any money off it. The sheet music companies weren’t too bad, but the record companies didn’t want to deal with N—s. The music usually got “translated” for the white mass market by cover bands. The musical Dreamgirls did a great job telling this story.

  5. #5 Birger Johansson
    December 2, 2013

    Kalenjin tribesmen might have been in Darwinian competition with long-range running predators. Or not.
    By constrast, I am interested in the genes of those cancer-resistant wossname eusocial rodents. And I want gecko feet.
    — —- — — —
    The song of Solomon might be one of the few interesting parts of the OT, which is otherwise an apocryphal re-writing of proto-Jewish history.
    (yes I have written it before, but it deserves to be repeated again and again) Jews were ordinary Caananites until the babylonian captivity.

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    December 2, 2013

    “Hotosho” sounds like the sound a proctologist patient makes.
    BTW gray is just a shade on the black/white spectrum. The lunar surface is darker than your hair but we perceive it as “white” by contrast.

  7. #7 Birger Johansson
    December 3, 2013

    Hell’s Angels; If you include the time they serve at His Majesty’s pleasure, they probably make less than minimum wage. Stoopid career choice correlates with bad speling.
    — — — —
    I should stop commenting on Old Testament stuff but the fundamentalists drive me nuts by repeating disproved claims. Grrrr!

  8. #8 Birger Johansson
    December 4, 2013

    Re . outlaw bikers, Sweden is closing one of its prisons for lack of inmates.
    And here is what happened when a guard forgot to lock in a group of prisoners for the night (true story) They didn’t save anything for Father’s Day, though.

  9. #9 Martin R
    December 5, 2013

    My point regarding the origins of rock’n’roll is that when discussing art/music, the artists’ skin colour should not be an issue when judging quality or ownership. I am of course aware of the endless source of great music that is African American culture.

  10. #10 Martin R
    December 5, 2013

    I don’t believe I’ve heard any Shetland English. Though regarding Scandinavian influence, remember, I’m basically from Connecticut when my brain is in English mode.

  11. #11 John Massey
    December 5, 2013

    #10 but you spell correctly.

  12. #13 Martin R
    December 5, 2013

    Haha, John, yeah, I was 6 when I left the US and in Sweden they taught us British spelling.

  13. #14 Birger Johansson
    December 5, 2013

    (OT) News for any Aussies reading this: There is a naked-eye nova visible in Centaurus. Make sure you have the correct number of contact lenses.

  14. #15 Birger Johansson
    December 5, 2013

    (OT) Women and science on YouTube (I hope Juniorette will join their numbers eventually)
    Few women promote science on YouTube, because of the creepy misogynist trolls that infest the comments. (Like John Hinckley jr., they were too crazy for the Nazis and now trawl the internet instead of trashing Jewish cemeteries). PZ Myers has a list of women scientists who nevertheless use the medium.
    NB. If you are a woman who intend to use YouTube for science DISABLE THE COMMENTS and don’t enable ratings

  15. #16 John Massey
    December 6, 2013

    I still like this one my daughter showed me, including a lot of the comments:

  16. #17 Birger Johansson
    December 6, 2013

    Yes, John, this one had a better class of commenters.
    The trolls I am talking about are the ones who write “I hope you (insert horrioble death)” and the ones who make rape threats. They target various activists, but for some merely having XX chromosomes makes you a target.

  17. #18 John Massey
    December 6, 2013

    I know – Sheril Kirshenbaum once wrote a very disturbing piece on some of the comments she gets on her blog that she doesn’t let through the comment filter.

  18. #19 Derek
    December 6, 2013

    This one’s a woman in church reading in broad Shetland accent.

  19. #20 Martin R
    December 7, 2013

    Thanks Derek! I understand very little of what she says, though it gets easier when she starts reading from the page.

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