March Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • Swedish Mail’s money transfer numbers usually have eight digits. My mother’s number has four. This is because the account was originally opened by her grandfather in 1925, shortly after the service started.
  • Kipling was quite conservative in many things, but still a recurrent theme in his short stories is a deep sympathy for women who have extra-marital affairs and children.
  • I’ve become a 2010s computer user. I catch myself expecting screens to be touch screens.
  • Would the scifi story mag Analog sell better if they renamed it Anal Log?
  • Certain countries have their own sexual acts. And it struck me that there’s actually one from the folklore of the Stockholm archipelago too. Strömmingstag: fucking on top of your herring nets to improve your future catch.
  • The guy whose enthusiastic review is quoted on the jacket blurb for the 1980s Swedish omnibus edition of LeGuin’s Earthsea books is completely unknown to me. Googling, I find that his main claims to fame were as municipal politician and theatre reviewer in Borlänge, pop. 42,000.
  • Huh. Game designer and Star Wars novelist Aaron Allston dead at 53 from massive heart failure at gaming convention. )-:
  • A good thing about the list you get of everybody who applies for the same job as you in the Swedish public sector is that it’s so easy to forward the list to Hell’s Angels. It only gets tricky when the bidding war starts among the job applicants for whom the Angels are not going to dissuade.
  • Jrette and her mother have made a deal. Instead of buying new pants for Jrette, she will wear mom’s pants for a period now until she grows too tall for them.
  • “All the while, as he speaks softly and listens attentively, his eyes gleam, and one knows he is thinking of the strange sights he has seen and the odd deeds he has done.” Jack Vance 1964, The Killing Machine
  • I really loved the Vertibird.
  • Linda Lundberg has just succeeded me as chairperson of the Swedish Skeptics. I’m very pleased. She’s got what it takes and I’m sure she’ll do a better job than I did.
  • I turned my keyboard upside down and found abundant forensic evidence that somebody’s been using my computer. This person has crew-cut dark hair and dandruff, and he/she apparently likes to eat cookies at my desk. Hmmm.
  • An old Swedish saying has it that young mothers have milk in their breasts and porridge in their heads. My pride forbids me to believe that. My friend Maria is just entering the third trimester. Saturday night she beat four male gaming geeks resoundingly at Shogun, a game she had never played before.
  • Geocaching is doing well in Sweden. A new cache showed up near my house this morning. When I got there, three people were already busy searching for it.
  • Carouse, from German gar aus, all out, meaning “Bottoms up, the place is closing”.
  • Heh. This Atlantis believer calls me “an obviously third-rate archaeologist” for criticising Thor Heyerdahl.
  • Re-listened to MGMT’s 2008 debut album. They were the first band I liked who were ten years younger than me. They were hugely hyped at the time. And now they’re in their 30s, respected musicians, third album out last year, not getting the same attention any more.
  • Bars are pointless to me. I don’t drink. I find shouted bar conversations a waste of time. I either arrive with a knockout woman who’s coming home with me or she’s waiting for me there, so I needn’t think about the women. Besides, late-90s experience taught me that though good at the chat I’m crap at the bar pickup. Possibly because I never stayed until closing time.
  • Google Translate informs me that in English, Sw. Rundkvist translates to “Rundquist”.
  • Have you read any of the self-published erotica that David Eddings put out before he made it big with those fantasy novels? I quite like Porn of Prophecy myself.
  • Another ugly American usage that must stop: “quantify” for “define / understand rationally”.


  1. #1 Birger Johansson
    April 2, 2014

    “The Killing Machine”
    Ah. yes, Kokor Hekkus. Actually, he was one of the less scary demon princes. Lens Larque was much more of a freak.

  2. #2 John Massey
    April 2, 2014

    I caught myself spelling it “Rundquist” a couple of times. I must have Google Translate installed in my brain.

  3. #3 Thomas Ivarsson
    April 2, 2014

    Google translator change rund kvist to round twig!

    You English experts. How do You express the Swedish municipality ‘Bjuv’ phonetically?

  4. #4 Martin R
    April 2, 2014


  5. #5 John Massey
    April 3, 2014

    My Norman surname translates in Chinese as “horse shit”.

    Near where I live there is an island, the Chinese name of which translates literally as “horse shit island”. It turns out, when the British first invaded and occupied Hong Kong, they asked the local Chinese for their names for various places, and with totally straight faces, the Chinese people told them some very imaginative stuff – so lots of places in Hong Kong have absolutely outrageous and satirical Chinese names.

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    April 3, 2014

    Now we know where Pratchett got the idea!

  7. #7 Birger Johansson
    April 3, 2014

    The first editor of Analog -then named Astounding- was certainly a bit anal, not to say nuts. Campbell cleaned up the “purple” aspect of the genre, but was quite eccentric. “SF writer Alfred Bester recounted at some length his “one demented meeting” with Campbell…(snip) … Bester commented: “It reinforced my private opinion that a majority of the science-fiction crowd, despite their brilliance, were missing their marbles.”

  8. #8 Eric Lund
    April 3, 2014

    In his memoirs Isaac Asimov noted that by the late 1940s Campbell had taken up Dianetics, which Asimov described as “an odd bit of pseudo-science”. Asimov didn’t mention that Dianetics later formed a key part of the Church of Scientology’s philosophy (if you can call it that). Asimov didn’t say whether Campbell was already crazy when he took up Dianetics, but after that his relationship with Asimov was never quite the same.

    But Campbell’s influence on science fiction was tremendous. Campbell discovered not only Asimov, but IIRC Bradbury and Heinlein as well.

  9. #9 Martin R
    April 3, 2014

    Or did they discover him, because he was who you went to if you wanted to publish sf?

  10. #10 Eric Lund
    April 3, 2014

    There were other SF pulp magazines, but as Birger said, the stories they published (as did Analog before Campbell became its editor) tended to have a higher degree of sexual content than was considered acceptable at the time. (One of Asimov’s stories, the title of which escapes me, was specifically intended as a parody of this kind of science fiction–the plot involves an alien kidnapping a male and a female human and trying to get them to demonstrate sex to the other aliens on the ship.) Campbell brought his magazine more into line with the prevailing standards. Other editors followed suit toward the end of the 1940s.

    Of course, standards have changed since then. Some of Asimov’s later work, and even more so Heinlein’s, would probably have been too sexually explicit even for the SF pulp magazines of the 1930s.

  11. #11 Martin R
    April 3, 2014

    Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” is pretty interesting. (-;

  12. #12 John Massey
    April 4, 2014

    Yes, I recall being interested.

  13. #13 Birger Johansson
    April 4, 2014

    Brian Aldisss remarks that Science Fiction appears to be oriented between a “Thinking Pole” (like Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harrison) and a “Dreaming Pole” (Jack Vance, P J Farmer, Zelazny). Campbell belonged to the former, and demanded writers would stick by science, while he also championed various forms pf pseudoscience.
    Farmer revolted to the paternalistic and puritan straightjacket, and was one of the first to systematically push the envelope for “adult” themes (his novel “A Feast Unknown” was published by Playboy Press). “The Lovers” both opposed religion and had a protagonist in a sexual relationship with an alien human-mimic.

  14. #14 Birger Johansson
    April 4, 2014
  15. #15 Birger Johansson
    April 4, 2014

    (OT) This is the kind of claim I would have rejected without video proof: “Norwegian skydiver almost struck by meteorite” Clearly the sky god has something against Norwegians.

  16. #16 NigelPJ
    April 5, 2014

    This must be the power of speech: “shouted bar conversions”.

  17. #17 Martin R
    April 5, 2014

    Whoops, thanks for the correction!

  18. #18 Birger Johansson
    April 5, 2014

    Did anyone say “Vertibird”?
    “Video: A 500 mph Helicopter” -a hybrid, simpler than a true helicopter.
    I first read an article about this concept in a 1994 article in New Scientist –they have had great problems with funding since, and had to progress at a snail’s pace but they have finally proven their second prototype workable.

  19. #19 Birger Johansson
    April 5, 2014

    (OT) Skywatching for everyone
    At dusk, during April 5-7 the full moon will pass near Jupiter, which itself is underneath Pollux and Castor.
    Around14-15 the thin moon crescent will be visible before dawn near Mars, Venus will be close to the horizon but bright enough to be visible.

  20. #20 Birger Johansson
    April 5, 2014

    Urban/rural archaeology?
    -It reminds me of the Tarkovsky film based on Strugatsky’s SF novel “Wayside Picnic”

  21. #21 John Massey
    April 6, 2014

    Further to the above, for an insight into mid-19th Century Cantonese sense of humour:

    The Geographical Place Names Board just have no respect for history or traditional culture 🙁

  22. #22 Birger Johansson
    April 8, 2014

    (OT) “Faster eye responses in Chinese people not down to culture”
    Obvious cause of selection: When there are bloody dragons flying around those who notice movement in the periphery of their vision quickly will survive longer.

  23. #24 Birger Johansson
    April 8, 2014

    Thank you, John.
    Warning: A troll named “Arnold Ruge” is really Dennis Markuze/David M*bus.
    On the subject of authors: William Gibson is praising the urban gothic novel “Devil Said Bang”

  24. #25 Kaleberg
    April 18, 2014

    Kipling also had a lot of sympathy for the enlisted man soldier and lower ranking officers that were the backbone of the British army. He was a weird character.

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