April Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • The Christian Democrats dropping under the 4% cutoff for Parliament is a thing devoutly to be wished for in itself. But also, I just realised, if they do, then their votes will evaporate, losing the Right coalition a considerable part of their current majority.
  • I feel really bad for people who don’t know what CTRL-Z and ALT-Backspace does.
  • Elsevier’s manuscript submission site is old, creaky and slooow.
  • TV chef reminds me that I like forehead, not fringe.
  • Solsbury Hill that Peter Gabriel sang about has a big hillfort on top. This is pretty badass: a local amateur archaeology association has geophysed the whole thing without any particular funding and produced a complete map of the settlement inside the banks. Would have been impossible very recently.
  • I can kind of understand “My religion is better than yours”, but how any Christian can argue that one brand of it is more pleasing to God than the others is incomprehensible.
  • Nils Månsson Mandelgren’s 1866 Samlingar till svenska konst- och odlings-historien scanned and on-line.
  • Why was everybody so worked up about Belle & Sebastian?
  • Was Rikki-tikki-tavi a Corieltauvi tribesman?
  • Logged an unusual geocache today. The log book is in a watertight container inside a tall metal cylinder fastened to a tree. The cylinder has two small holes at the bottom and is open at the top. In order to get at the log book, you have to stop the holes at the bottom with your hand while someone (ideally not yourself) fills the cylinder with water from the nearby lake. Then the log book’s container floats to the top where you can get at it. This is not easy to do alone. Luckily other cachers had left three bottles at the site, so I could get enough water to the cache without removing my hand from the lower end of the cylinder.
  • Some folks call me the spayed cowboy.
  • It would be fun to apply for a bunch of jobs in the public sector and then file a complaint in cases where you got them.
  • If you’ve had a job that by rights demands a PhD, despite not having one, wouldn’t it be fair if you got fired when you finally presented your thesis?
  • Nick Cave’s (yes him) 1989 novel And The Ass Saw The Angel about insane cannibal hillbillies is not for the faint of heart. I just heard a marvellous reading of a Jay Lake story in that exact vein on the Drabblecast.
  • Started reading The Name of the Wind, a much-lauded 2007 Medieval fantasy novel by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s well written and pleasant reading. But its basic nature as a collage of fragments of the real-world past shows immediately. People go “Sweet Mother of God!” despite the fact that there’s no Catholicism. The spider-like magic killer robots are called “skraelings”, which is the Old Norse term for Native American. I know that my job makes me a hopeless fantasy audience. But really, isn’t skraeling common knowledge?
  • Rothfuss compares something to “a man tending a large, complex machine”. In a Medieval world where to my knowledge there are no machines.
  • *groan* The Rothfuss novel has turned from Oliver Twist into Harry Potter. Dude, I don’t care how amazingly brilliant you are, nor who you’re friends and enemies with at school. No, not even your Snape ripoff teacher.
  • Hobbit Lego. *nerd anguish*
  • Pre-Roman Iron Age settlement sites in northern Jutland sometimes yield pots the size of bathtubs, way beyond the era’s usual pottery tech. In Skalk 2014:2 Jens N. Nielsen points out that they are all from burnt-down houses. Probably they are actually indoor grain storage silos made from unfired clay that have accidentally become fired when the houses burned down.
  • Did an on-line political test to guide my vote in the upcoming parliamentary election. I wasn’t surprised by what parties the test recommended me to choose / avoid. I was surprised by the middle three parties, all of which would represent my opinions almost identically middlingly well on the issues included in the test. The Conservatives, Labour and the Christian Democrats. I’m not sure if this says more about them or about me.
  • I wonder who the troubadours were sleeping with while writing courtly love poetry about other men’s unattainable wives. Their longing seems less poignant when you consider that as noblemen they had unlimited access to the castle staff.
  • I must start using “Tönerne Aquamanilien” as an expletive.
  • *sigh* Presentation files created in the latest version of LibreOffice for Windows can’t be opened in the latest version of LibreOffice for Linux. You get what you pay for, I guess.
  • Some of the older participants in the Apollo program had siblings born in the 19th century.


  1. #1 Eric Lund
    May 2, 2014

    But really, isn’t skraeling common knowledge?

    It might be in Scandinavia, but not in the US, and an author with that name is unlikely to be Scandinavian (he’s more likely to be American or Canadian). I know of that term because Jared Diamond mentions it in Collapse–one of the reasons the Greenland Norse died out (and the Vinland colony was abandoned) is that they were consistently hostile to the natives, who reciprocated that feeling. But I hadn’t encountered the term before reading Diamond.

    It sounds like there is plenty of reason to criticize the novel in question, but applying the term skraeling to a spider-like killer robot isn’t one of them. My ear tells me that this word might be cognate with the English word “scrawny”, and I can understand somebody applying that word to a spider-like killer robot.

  2. #2 Doug K
    denver CO
    May 2, 2014

    enjoyed the Rothfuss novels, waiting for the third one: though the anguished superhero did become a little tiresome. John Scalzi who did like the book, upon picking up the first of them:
    “I have to admit that while first looking at the book I felt it had three strikes against it: First, it was another one of those damn thick fantasy books (derisive emphasis on “thick,” not “fantasy”); second, it was labeled as the first of a trilogy, which meant I was going to have plotus interruptus; third, in the first few pages it had characters eating a hearty stew, which in fantasy is one of your red flags that here there be cliches, arrr.”
    plotus interruptus is very frustrating.

    I took skraeling to mean the skinny weird and frightening alien/foreigner, seemed approximately appropriate. Last encountered it in Nancy Farmer’s Sea of Trolls trilogy, which is recommended though will probably irritate you even more than Rothfuss..

    Good point on the troubadors, never occurred to me before.. human beings have an endless capacity for self-delusion I guess.

  3. #3 Martin R
    May 2, 2014

    Thanks Doug!

  4. #4 John Massey
    May 2, 2014

    “But really, isn’t skraeling common knowledge?”

    I knew it. How common are we talking about?

  5. #5 John Massey
    May 2, 2014

    I confess I never made any linguistic connection to scrawny or skinny though. I think I looked it up once and figured it meant people who wore animal skins, but to me it just evoked a word for “Alien” or “the Other” in a pejorative sense.

  6. #6 Martin R
    May 2, 2014

    “probably based on the Old Norse word skrá which meant “skin” … The proto-Inuit … as well as other indigenous people whom the Norse Greenlanders met, wore clothes made of animal skins, in contrast to the woven wool clothes worn by the Norse.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skr%C3%A6ling#Etymology

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    May 2, 2014

    I can kind of understand “My religion is better than yours”, but how any Christian can argue that one brand of it is more pleasing to God than the others is incomprehensible.

    I understand that you don’t have a lot of so-called evangelicals in Sweden (or in most of Europe, for that matter). We have too many of them here in the US, and too many who want to impose it on everybody else. That attitude invariably leads to “My kind of worship is better than your kind,” and frequently continues to “Kill them all, let God sort them out.” Or as Monty Python put it, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” The actual teachings of that radical rabbi Yeshua bin Yosef don’t seem to play any role here. See also the Sunni vs. Shia schism in Islam, or Wahabism vs. less austere interpretations of the Quran. It’s the same sort of deal.

  8. #8 Martin R
    May 2, 2014

    It’s ridiculous. People shouldn’t be allowed to have group identities — ethnic, religious or otherwise.

  9. #9 Jane
    May 2, 2014

    Well you can feel *partly* bad for me, because ALT-Backspace is a new one on me.

    Personally I feel bad for people who don’t know what Windows-E does. Mind you, in vanilla Windows 8 it probably doesn’t work any more; it most likely opens an exciting range of apps in shiny flashing colours. Grumble grumble usability grumble grumble.

  10. #10 Martin R
    May 2, 2014

    I use Win-M a lot and sometimes Win-L. Dunno about Win-E.

  11. #11 JustaTech
    May 2, 2014

    Re: no complex machines: But they do have printed books, therefore large, complex machines. Also, a wind or water mill is a large, complex machine. Just because it’s made of wood doesn’t mean it isn’t a machine. (I’ll admit I gave up about half way through the first book.)

  12. #12 Kevin
    May 3, 2014

    i understand that Christianity might look like a group identity from outside. But from the Old Testament (Cain &. Abel) to the New (the “widow’s mite” story) God/Jesus was always pointing out that some of His followers did it better than others. You know Christianity itself started as a sect within Judaism that split off and its history ever since has been one of sectarian splits led by people convinced they knew how to please God better than their fellows in the same pews. It’s the nature of the thing, particularly among Protestant faiths that stress the authority of the individual conscience or inner light.

  13. #13 Tobias
    May 3, 2014

    Let’s not forget about the Redo yin to the Undo yang: Ctrl+Y 😉

  14. #14 Birger Johansson
    May 3, 2014

    “In a Medieval world where to my knowledge there are no machines”
    I understand your irritation, but sometimes it is hard for the writer to communicate with the reader without using concepts that were unknown, or only known to a very small group of people in the period mentioned. I come across it sometimes in the “Garrett, PI” novels.
    — — — —
    “My religion is better than yours” -I start every day by logging in to “Dispatches From The Culture wars” by Ed Brayton.
    It provides a hilarious and scary catalog of the activities of Fundigelicals and other nutters in the US and elsewhere.
    The stupidity and malice has NO BOTTOM.
    — — —
    “Some of the older participants in the Apollo program had siblings born in the 19th century”. Hermann Oberth, less well known than von Braun was one of the 19-century people.
    “a big hillfort” -Izmir in Kurdish Iraq has a central town/citadel built on 7000 years of layers ceating a hill. The name goes back at least to 2000BC, accordiing to cuneiform tablets. The first townspeople there lived when mammoths still roamed Siberia. True.
    — — —
    “Belle & Sebastian?” -I can proudly say I haven’t heard about them. 🙂

  15. #15 Birger Johansson
    May 3, 2014

    Aaand “Dispatches From The Culture wars” pointed me to this link “Moron: All Racists are Atheists” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/04/28/radio-host-discussing-donald-sterlings-comments-argues-all-racists-must-be-atheists/

  16. #16 Thomas Ivarsson
    May 3, 2014

    Detector dancing from Bornholm Denmark!

  17. #17 Sean M
    May 3, 2014

    Fantasy lost something when it started being inspired by 20th century fiction more than ancient myths, medieval sagas, and 19th century traveller’s tales. I think that those helped keep it in touch with preindustrial life. Tolkien seems to have been vague on economics and material culture, but having read his Arrian and his Polybius he did know that horses won’t charge elephants, and that puts him one ahead of Peter Jackson.

    I thought that Old Norse “skraeling” was common knowledge, although maybe Canadians forget it after school.

  18. #18 John Massey
    May 4, 2014

    My all time favourite tennis player Venus Williams once wrote on Facebook: “I’m supposed to have world class hand-eye coordination, and I just spilled teriyaki sauce all over my keyboard.”

    Well, I’m supposed to have a high verbal IQ, and I thought “Tönerne Aquamanilien” must be someone’s name.

  19. #19 Eric Lund
    May 4, 2014

    I thought “Tönerne Aquamanilien” must be someone’s name.

    Given the names that pop up in spam messages, I can understand the confusion. Somebody who thought “Euphonious Q. Seismology” was an actual name sent me a e-mail several years ago.

    Of course, “Tönerne Aquamanilien” might make a good band name.

  20. #20 Birger Johansson
    May 5, 2014

    Two words: “Southern baptists”! -They split off because they said the Bible supports slavery. After they got their asses handed to them on the battlefield, they did not back off from “The Only True Faith” stuff, despite apparently losing the approval of Heaven.
    Do not diss Rikki-tikki-tavi: Mongoose are plucky.

  21. #21 Birger Johansson
    May 5, 2014

    Fighting skraelings? I think Thor should have the Spanish gold medal of police merit – which is normally reserved for police who have died in terrorist attacks. Thor kept the worlds safe from giants and finally perished fighting the Ice Giants. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/29/spanish-govt-court-after-award-given-to-virgin-mary

  22. #22 John Massey
    May 5, 2014

    My daughter wonders why people make such a fuss about Elizabeth I, when Hatshepsut was so impressive 3,000 years earlier.


  23. #23 Birger Johansson
    May 5, 2014

    ….and sailing from Egypt to Eritrea with the flimsy boats would have been as challenging as the cross-Atlantic journeys done during the Elizabethan time.

  24. #24 Birger Johansson
    May 5, 2014

    (OT) Stay up late for tonight’s Eta Aquarid meteor shower http://phys.org/news/2014-05-late-tonight-eta-aquarid-meteor.html

  25. #25 John Massey
    May 5, 2014

    And we have to leave it to Halloween enthusiasts to celebrate Lady Fu Hao.


    There is the mild embarrassment that she presided over the human sacrifices. But then, so much the better for Halloween.

  26. #26 Birger Johansson
    May 6, 2014

    Thanks for bringing lady Fu Ha0 to my attention.

    (OT) For skeptics: Mock the Movie: Space Vampire Edition
    ““This sounds awful!” I hear you cry. Yes. Yes, it does. “This must be mocked mercilessly”, you say. Well, then you’re in the right company. See link for the instructions for playing along http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2014/05/05/mock-the-movie-space-vampire-edition/

  27. #27 Birger Johansson
    May 6, 2014

    (OT) Runaway train investigation:
    ” the cleaner had simply closed the train doors, a move that started the engine”. http://www.thelocal.se/20140505/stockholm-train-crash-not-the-cleaners-fault
    Not very reassuring if you live close to the rails.

  28. #28 John Massey
    May 6, 2014

    Birger – Fu Hao’s tomb excavation was really something interesting, to me.

    A while back, Martin was discussing whether ‘shield maidens’ were real and the general lack of female graves with weapons as grave goods – Fu Hao seems to have been a genuine case of a female military leader – that doesn’t mean she was actually wielding weapons in battle, necessarily, of course, but that is also not excluded by anything that I have been able to find about her. Allegedly she died of ‘exhaustion’ at a still young age while on her last military expedition, so it seems she never lost a military engagement.

  29. #29 Birger Johansson
    May 6, 2014

    -John, bronze age China was on the other end of the steppe band stretching from the Scythians, so I am not ruling out cultural influences travelling along nomadic people. Wether influences spilled over into early agricultural states in China is another matter.
    — — — — —
    A New World zodiac to keep track of the seasons?
    “5000-year-old animal effigy mounds in Peru” http://phys.org/news/2012-03-rare-animal-shaped-mounds-peru.html Benfer suggested the structures may have been built as terrestrial manifestations of constellations the ancient Peruvians saw in the stars above.

  30. #30 John Massey
    May 6, 2014

    This is kind of clunky but with good bits – the oracle bones and tomb do seem to strongly suggest that Fu Hao was a real military leader, rather than some sort of symbolism. I guess a problem is that her tomb is the only unlooted tomb found from that period, but there is the corroboration of the oracle bones.


  31. #31 Birger Johansson
    May 6, 2014

    The corroboration must be unique for a historical figure of this early time.
    —- —- — — — —
    (OT) Nr. 3 may be a living Denisovian (or Homer Simpson’s cousin) Nr.6 is a Chinese fake beggar. And nr.9 is what zero fat *really* looks like, which is pretty gross.

  32. #32 John Massey
    May 7, 2014

    It’s a pity Fu Hao’s remains are ‘missing’ (apparently crushed when the coffin disintegrated and collapsed) (but was that just insufficiently careful excavation and sampling? – her remains can’t have evaporated in that case, they were just no longer recognisable as parts of a skeleton).

    The tomb had not been looted of very valuable grave goods, so it cannot have been the case that someone just made off with Fu Hao’s remains. So what was left of her must have been in there somewhere, although in crushed and unrecognisable form. Given what appears to be the good state of presentation of the remains of some of the other people interred with her, I find it somewhat puzzling – for example, her remains were missing, but someone else buried beneath her was there, skeleton looking pretty intact. Is it possible that was actually her? Or had her remains really been rendered to dust totally indistinguishable from bits of disintegrated coffin and collapsed earth, such that no form of sampling was possible?

    Such sampling might not have been of much use at the time, but could be useful now. After all, I presume Chinese archaeologists have access to BGI, which is one of the biggest genomics companies in the world.

  33. #33 John Massey
    May 7, 2014
  34. #34 Martin R
    May 7, 2014

    Wow, that’s two major archaeogenetics projects in Scandyland counting the Atlas project!

  35. #35 Birger Johansson
    May 8, 2014

    People born in the 20th century longing for the 19th century… if “archaeology” is defined as “digging up old cr*p”, wow, here is a biggie: “Neo-Confederate Beliefs Common in the South”. http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/slavery-nostalgia-is-real-and-its-dangerous/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 People who think slavery is OK.

  36. #36 John Massey
    May 8, 2014

    Don’t bother watching the new RoboCop movie, it’s rubbish.

  37. #37 John Massey
    May 9, 2014

    More archaeogenetics – why Sardinians are different. Answer: Sardinians are not different, everyone else is.


    The full paper is available on open access.

  38. #38 Eric Lund
    May 9, 2014

    Neo-Confederate Beliefs Common in the South

    Unfortunately, that headline is up there with “Water Wet”, “Bear Defecates in Woods”, and “Generalísimo Francisco Franco Still Dead”.

    If you’ve never seen the scene from Blazing Saddles where the new sheriff arrives in town, take a look, and you will learn much about contemporary American politics. People who hold such beliefs used to feel that they had to hide those beliefs in polite society (“The President is near”), but not anymore. And many in the southern US think the wrong side won the War Between the States (don’t call it the Civil War in the rural South).

  39. #39 John Massey
    May 10, 2014

    Eric: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    Meanwhile, advice from an Australian retirement advisor:
    ‘Eat your vegetables, go to the gym and inform yourself about your future health by getting your genome sequenced. Staying mentally and physically fit helps keep your job. Working prolongs your life. Move out of the family home and downsize. House prices will fall. And save money for a rainy day. Because your investments won’t be there for you. My last piece of advice to all of you in the audience is this: Always be nice to your children.’

    I should add the footnote that Australian houses are now the largest in the world, even larger than American houses, and much larger than they need to be, and they are widely regarded as a form of retirement investment.

    Martin will regard the advice about going to the gym with disdain, but I think few will quibble about always being nice to the kids.

  40. #40 Birger Johansson
    May 10, 2014

    If the houses are tall enough, you should be able to launch a wind turbine into the jet stream. Actually serious studies have been done of using giant kites hoist wind turbines into the jet stream over Australia. If you could solve the million design problems, it would work. Sort of like fusion power.

  41. #41 Birger Johansson
    May 10, 2014

    “the War Between the States” The wossname state who fired upon Fort Sumpter actually sent a document to the federal government outlining why they were quitting the Union. There was no mention of “State’s Rights” but pleny of complaints of how the northern states refused to ship back escaped n*ggers.
    “State’s Rights” my ass.

  42. #42 John Massey
    May 11, 2014

    Australia gets enough solar radiation to roast a goat. And my home town Perth is the third windiest city in the world, after Chicago and Wellington.

    But if people generate too much solar energy and feed it back into the grid, the power companies can’t make enough profit. Besides, someone needs to use all that coal that the mining companies dig out.

    When the only thing your country produces any more are raw minerals, you need to keep producing them, or you have no income. And then who will pay for the huge houses with their air-conditioners and the petrol guzzling cars needed to drive all that distance to town?

  43. #43 John Massey
    May 11, 2014

    As for the local n*ggers, the early settlers of Perth seemed only too happy to get rid of them. The people who lived in that region when the first European settlers arrived are now extinct – certainly their language and culture are, although I guess some genetic inheritance might linger on.

    The polite opening question to any ‘full’ Aboriginal person in the street is to enquire if they are ‘visiting town’, although it is blindingly obvious that they are. But it is polite to say hello and ask, in cases where the body language and eye contact suggest that a friendly greeting would be welcome. The last middle aged Aboriginal lady from out of town that I spoke to in the street wanted to know where she could buy an AC/DC T-shirt. Cultural diffusion. I was ashamed not to know the answer.

  44. #44 Martin R
    May 11, 2014

    It’s actually polite to question their presence?

  45. #45 John Massey
    May 11, 2014

    No, not to question their presence in the sense of an intrusion – to say hello, ask if they are visitors and where their ‘country’ is. It needs to be read in the context of the culture of nomadic hunter-gatherers at low population density or people who live in small isolated remote communities, who know everyone in ‘their’ country, and so instantly recognise visiting strangers.

    Asking provides the context for them asking for assistance if they need something. If they do, the correct response is to give it, hence my shame about not knowing where to get an AC/DC T-shirt. When someone has travelled several hundred or possibly even thousands of kilometres in the hope of getting one, that could be seen as a pretty serious failure to assist – we ended up asking a series of passers-by until we found someone who knew.

    When the first European settlers landed in the Swan River, the greeting from the locals was friendly and welcoming. Relations only deteriorated later, when farmers started fencing land and disrupting nomadic seasonal routes, which made it impossible for people to feed themselves, and that set up the clash of cultures and legal systems, with European notions of personal possession conflicting tragically with Aboriginal hunter-gatherer rules of communal sharing of resources.

    So, if an Aboriginal man approaches you on the street, and asks for $1 for bus fare, give him $5 or $10 – whatever you can afford, because that is the right to do (although it might elicit shocked looks of disapproval from politically correct passers-by). If a girl asks you for a cigarette, and you have some, offer her two, one for her friend. And a box of matches. Or even a packet, if you can afford it.

    Do that, and you will get polite thanks and a covert glance of appreciation. Refusal will hurt and offend deeply, and could be an invitation for resentment, vocal abuse or even violence. This is not begging – culturally, it is not the same thing. Friendly engagement and willingness to share is the correct response, and will be appreciated.

    On the other hand, if the person is visibly drunk, then the only safe strategy is avoidance. But that is a universal.

  46. #46 Birger Johansson
    May 12, 2014

    (OT) This Shoggoth does not look very impressive (ca. 570 million years ago) http://phys.org/news/2014-05-paleontologists-fossil.html

  47. #47 Martin R
    May 12, 2014

    I’m gonna kick that shoggoth’s median tubular structure.

  48. #48 Martin R
    May 12, 2014

    John, under what circumstances is it socially accepted for a white person to ask an Aboriginal person for gifts?

  49. #49 John Massey
    May 12, 2014

    The same basic rule applies – if you need something, and I have something, the rule says I should share what I have with you. This obviously breaks down very badly in modern society; it just doesn’t work at all.

    But if an Aboriginal person is asking me for something small and affordable, I am going to give them more than they ask me for, partly because they have made their request small and affordable. No Aboriginal person has ever asked me for more than something I could easily afford.

    When I was a kid, my bedroom was full of Aboriginal artefacts, which were gifts Aboriginal men had given my father to thank him for teaching their children in school. They understood it was his job and that he was paid for it, but they gave him things to thank him anyway. To reciprocate, he used to give them rides on the back of his motorcycle – I have one classic old black and white photograph of my father on his motorbike, grinning gleefully, tobacco pipe clenched between his teeth, with a terrified looking Aboriginal man sitting on the motorbike behind him, holding on grimly. I know how he felt, I also rode on my father’s motorbike.

  50. #50 Birger Johansson
    May 12, 2014

    Origin of Scandinavian gorges finally revealed http://phys.org/news/2014-05-scandinavian-gorges-revealed.html
    Damn! there goes my “ancient astronauts quarried gorges” manuscript.

  51. #51 Birger Johansson
    May 12, 2014

    Speaking of motorbikes, the dry climate of the “outback” must be good for preserving all kinds of vehicles dumped behind barns. I know Canadian prairies are a good place to look for 80-90-year-old cars, traction engines and stuff.

  52. #52 Birger Johansson
    May 12, 2014

    (OT) Exorcism by carbon monoxide? Man dies during ritual. “He was heavily possessed by djinns and when I was curing him of them, I could hear the djinns shouting back at me” http://tribune.com.pk/story/705086/demonic-possession-man-dies-as-exorcism-attempt-goes-up-in-smoke/

  53. #53 John Massey
    May 12, 2014

    ‘the dry climate of the “outback” ‘

    Too right, cobber. Stone the crows, it’s as dry as a dingo’s dick out there.

    I found some very well preserved 1920s car bodies in a peat swamp – no rust, shiny metal. I suppose the same works for human bodies, eh?

  54. #54 John Massey
    May 12, 2014

    During World War II, my father was in what was called the ‘coastal defence force’. Hopeless task, Australia has a huge northern coastline and there were not very many of them, but they were armed to the teeth – submachine guns, hand grenades, anything they could carry. My father could never shoot anyone, he would pick up a poisonous spider and carry it outside rather than kill it, so he emptied the ammunition out of his ammunition pouches, and filled them with cheese – spare rations.

    If the Japanese Imperial Army had ever invaded, all he could have done was throw cheese at them.

  55. #55 Birger Johansson
    May 12, 2014

    John, in theory coastal defenders might have used armoured vehicles to destroy invaders, but the British tank designs were crap until the end of 1944. Fortunately the Japanese got distracted by New Guinea and other places. “Look, a big island with high nearly impassable mountains and marshes -perfect for an invasion!”.

  56. #56 John Massey
    May 13, 2014

    …and full of malaria and dysentery – the ideal place, really. They were probably more deterred by that than my father’s emergency cheese rations, despite being lactose-intolerant.

  57. #57 Birger Johansson
    May 13, 2014

    OT) Holy Benedict Arnold, Batman! Skeptic alert.
    Chocolate-throwing lesbian demons. On a plane. I want to see the film version.

  58. #58 Birger Johansson
    May 13, 2014

    Asked how he knew the woman was possessed, he said that “once you hear a Satanic growl, you never forget it.” Of course. Growling, when properly done, *will* stay in your memory!
    Deicide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL-BA86UhoE
    “We are five!” -She is channeling Enid Blyton!

  59. #59 Birger Johansson
    May 14, 2014

    (OT) H.R. Giger ‘created cinema’s only non-shit alien’ http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/arts-entertainment/h-r-giger-created-cinemas-only-non-shit-alien-2014051486567
    Excerpt: Film critic Mary Fisher said: “Before Alien, and indeed after Alien, extra-terrestrials in films were uniformly wank.
    “E.T. looks like a sunbed-addicted nan, the things in Close Encounters were just big fetuses and although Star Wars had some cool aliens in the cantina scene that’s counterbalanced by the ewoks, the shittest of all shit aliens.
    “Independence Day aliens – shit. Men In Black aliens – shit. Predator – clearly a body builder with two stuck-on chicken wings for a mouth.
    “None of them compares to an eyeless armoured demon with acid blood and a hydraulic fanged-penis mouth. That is just so admirably fucked up.

  60. #60 John Massey
    May 14, 2014

    Agreed. Alien and Aliens are two good movies. They should have stopped there.

  61. #61 Dan L
    May 26, 2014

    Thanks for the Solsbury Hill report.
    The application of sophisticated data collection techniques by dedicated amateurs was both illuminating and inspiring. And badass.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.