June Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • WTF! Ugly digital version of the wonderful claymation Shaun the Sheep! Curses!

  • Top three Women As Sex Robots songs: Rollergirl: Superstar. Teddybears Sthlm: Yours To Keep. Kylie Minogue: Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.
  • In the otherwise excellent boardgame Lords of Waterdeep there’s a quest called “Retrieve Ancient Artefacts”. Come on, do I really have to deal with work during game night too?
  • Shampoo is hársápa in Icelandic. Hair soap.
  • Borley Rectory in Essex has been called the most haunted house in England. I think there is a sound scientific basis for that statement. No house in England is haunted. This means that there is not one single building there that is more haunted than Borley Rectory, that truly horrific old pile.
  • I helped a young woman with her shopping trolley down at the shops. She looked and dressed like she’d just gotten off the plane from Djibouti. But when she spoke it was pure Stockholm Swedish. On the phone I would have assumed that her name was Anna Larsson and that she was a blue-eyed blonde.
  • I’ve had a really bad cold ever since I got back from Poland three weeks ago. The most annoying part right now is not being able to sense smells or taste anything beyond salt-sweet-bitter-hot. I tried eating some Pakistani mango, my favourite fruit, but had to give up. It just tasted like cucumber.
  • While watching A Game of Thrones, my wife has increasingly come to exclaim stuff like “Oh no! No! Oh that’s so awful! Omigod!”
  • Paracelsus was probably present at the Stockholm Blood Bath of 1520, as a surgeon for the Danish army.
  • Historians of science keep saying stuff like “Yeah, well, what you find important about Newton’s work isn’t necessarily what he and his contemporaries found important”. But guess what. We’re not historians of science. We are not members of that tiny subset of humanity that finds Newton’s astrological speculations equally or more interesting than the Principia. The reason that we care about him at all is his contributions to natural science.
  • Merihobu in Estonian, literally “sea horse”, means both seahorse and walrus.
  • Håkan Håkansson writes that the unburied dead from a 1599 famine caused an epidemic. This was widely believed at the time but is not true. Most pathogens simply die when a body dies. The unburied dead smelled bad and that’s what people believed was the vector of contagion before bacteria and viruses were discovered.
  • Short-tailed fledgling magpie pursues parent across lawn, complaining that it’s hungry.
  • According to the Malleus Maleficarum, all intercourse between witches and demons is vaginal.
  • Reading about the 1534 siege of Münster after the town was taken over by millennarian Anabaptists. It was Waco on a much larger scale.
  • Junior called me yesterday and asked for the technical specs of our TV. I wonder if that was a teen celebration of Father’s Day.
  • “I met a strange lady / She made me nervous / She took me in and gave me hickies”

Comments

  1. #1 Eric Lund
    July 1, 2014

    Shampoo is “hársápa” in Icelandic. Hair soap.

    A couple of examples from German: Glove is Handschuh (hand shoe). Hydrogen is Wasserstoff (water stuff). The latter is, loosely, what hydrogen means in Greek.

    “Merihobu” in Estonian, literally “sea horse”, means both seahorse and walrus.

    Does it also mean “egg man”?

    She took me in and gave me hickies

    No wonder she made you nervous. But the line in that song that gave me trouble for years was the one about where the man who gave the singer a Vegemite sandwich was from. I finally figured out it was Brussels (which rhymes with “muscle” on the next line), but it sounds a lot like Brazos, or even Brazil. (I also had trouble with “Vegemite”, because I didn’t know at the time that there was such a thing–I’ve never been to Australia, and didn’t know any Australians when that band was popular–but once I learned of it, that line became obvious.)

  2. #2 Kevin
    July 1, 2014

    And “walrus” is probably whale-horse.

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    July 1, 2014

    Film reference: “I am the Walrus”. BLAM!

    Marc Almond: The house is haunted/ by the memory of our love.

    500-million year old find in Swedish quarry: meteorite find may be ‘missing half’ of interplanetary collision http://phys.org/news/2014-07-meteorite-interstellar-collision.html

  4. #4 Birger Johansson
    July 1, 2014

    New good Brit claymation: they make short fims where domestic (and wild) animals are interviewed of their opinions of various topics. (apparently animals speak cockney English) I also saw an episode where they commented on the verses of the very long christmas carol “On The (insert number) Day of Christmas”.
    Darn, I cannot recall the title of the series.

  5. #5 Phillip Helbig
    Tyskland
    July 1, 2014

    “I helped a young woman with her shopping trolley down at the shops. She looked and dressed like she’d just gotten off the plane from Djibouti. But when she spoke it was pure Stockholm Swedish. On the phone I would have assumed that her name was Anna Larsson and that she was a blue-eyed blonde.”

    So, good or bad, or some of both, especially in light of the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has upheld the burka ban in France?

    “And “walrus” is probably whale-horse.”

    Right. In German, Walross. Wal is whale and Ross is an old-fashioned word for horse (the modern term is Pferd, which ultimately derives from Latin).

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    July 1, 2014

    Found the name! Here is “Creature Comforts” on sunbathing. .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVh-sZqeuvk&list=PLSkSd-az78Fe3jfihlZTxzkandVDiWybm&feature=player_detailpage
    — — —
    “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” refers to the woman-shaped robot chassis Schwarzenegger used to sneak past guards in Total Recall. When he finally got out of the head he tossed it on the guards with a bang. The name of the model should be “Killer’s Queen”.

  7. #7 Kevin
    July 1, 2014

    While we’re on the subject “porpoise” is pig-fish — apparently they eat rather well. But my favorite comes from my cousin in norway who reported on Facebook that she’d seen a hedgehog in her garden — lillebollapinnsvin.

  8. #8 Janne
    Japan
    July 1, 2014

    In the otherwise excellent boardgame Lords of Waterdeep there’s a quest called “Retrieve Ancient Artefacts”. Come on, do I really have to deal with work during game night too?

    You’re the mysterious old man in a long gray beard that gives the quest to the heroes/doctoral students. They do the work, you get the publication.

    Merihobu in Estonian, literally “sea horse”, means both seahorse and walrus.

    And in Swedish we say “bläckfisk” for both squid and octopus. Which is really ridiculous when you realize just how utterly different they are both biologically and as (very tasty) food ingredients.

  9. #9 Phillip Helbig
    Tyskland
    July 1, 2014

    Yes, but bläckfisk means ink fish (bläck is obviously a cognate of black), and both produce ink. Inkvis in Dutch.

  10. #10 Birger Johansson
    July 1, 2014

    (OT) Every blog should have Elder Gods and cats. This trailer has both: “The Uncanny” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzQaoI8F1qA&feature=player_detailpage Cats…Bwahahahahaha

  11. #11 jane
    July 1, 2014

    CGIing claymation? Is nothing sacred? Actually I dislike both. I’m twisted enough to prefer the rather sinister Johnny Morris voiceover from the British classic “Animal Magic”, which for some reason always made me think of taxidermy, even as a child.

  12. #12 derek
    July 1, 2014

    “Creature Comforts” is a few years old, and the accents are from all over Britain.

    Merihobu surprises me, because it sounds like it could be an Indo-European word , and Estonian isn’t an Indo-European language.

  13. #13 Eric Lund
    July 1, 2014

    “Merihobu” surprises me, because it sounds like it could be an Indo-European word

    The meri- part probably is of Indo-European origin. As I understand it, the language group to which Estonian, Finnish, and Hungarian belong originated well to the east of where those groups ended up, so they may not have had their own word for “sea”. As they moved west toward the Baltic coast, they encountered Indo-European speakers who did have such a word, and the former borrowed it from the latter. It’s the same process by which, e.g., tsunami became an English word (borrowed from Japanese), and conversely, beisuboru became a Japanese word (derived from English “baseball”).

    I’m not sure where the hobu part came from. It doesn’t sound particularly Indo-European to me, but I could be wrong about that.

  14. #14 John Massey
    July 2, 2014

    Vegemite made me the man I am today. You can take that any way you like.

    So, there’s currently an “Asian Eastern Zone Women’s Volleyball Championship” being held here, I gather that means it’s an inter-country club competition, and the teams are staying in the hotel where I use the gymnasium. Lousy hotel, but good, affordable gym.

    I walked into the gym yesterday and was immediately surrounded by at least a dozen amazing, gigantic creatures, slender but impossibly tall, leaping and capering around – a previously unknown sub-species of Homo sapiens, perhaps, or even an alien species, but giggly, playful and clearly benign. The two tallest had to be close to 7 feet tall (sorry, 2.15 metres). The shortest was scarcely less than 2 metres.

    I commented to one of my local Chinese gym buddies: “I suddenly feel very short. But I’m not complaining.” He muttered: “I know – just admiring.” He plucked up the courage to speak to one of the fabulous creatures: “I say, Miss, you up there – can you hear me? Which planet are you from?” “We are a team from Beijing.”

    Life doesn’t get much better than this.

    The lyrics were all crystal clear to me from day one – but then, I come from a land down under. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfR9iY5y94s

  15. #15 John Massey
    July 2, 2014

    BTW, I assume you know Kylie Minogue is a gay male icon. Which I find slightly confusing, because she’s a straight female. A straight female who would qualify technically as a Pygmy in Beijing.

    I also assume you know that ‘kylie’ is an Aboriginal word for ‘boomerang’. The first time I heard of a girl called Kylie, I laughed and said “Why would someone call their kid ‘boomerang’?”

    I think that exhausts my store of inane trivia for the moment.

  16. #16 Birger Johansson
    July 2, 2014

    (OT) This 66-year-old man obviously went nuts because of role-playing games (sarcasm) ‘Owl man’ attacks elderly Swede with chainsaw http://www.thelocal.se/20140701/swede-attacks-elderly-neighbour-with-chainsaw

  17. #17 John Massey
    July 2, 2014

    A team from Taipei were in the gym today, so me and my mate felt a bit taller. They’re still quite tall girls, maybe 1.8 to 1.85m, but we don’t think they stand a chance against the giantesses from Beijing.

  18. #18 Birger Johansson
    July 2, 2014

    “Rural students are being left behind in China” http://www.nature.com/news/rural-students-are-being-left-behind-in-china-1.15448

  19. #19 John Massey
    July 2, 2014

    Funnily enough, exactly the same thing is happening in Tasmania, which is a rather more manageable size.

    This is called “demographic transition”.

    “In stage three, birth rates fall due to access to contraception, increases in wages, urbanization, a reduction in subsistence agriculture, an increase in the status and education of women, a reduction in the value of children’s work, an increase in parental investment in the education of children and other social changes.”

  20. #20 Eric Lund
    July 2, 2014

    I also assume you know that ‘kylie’ is an Aboriginal word for ‘boomerang’. The first time I heard of a girl called Kylie, I laughed and said “Why would someone call their kid ‘boomerang’?”

    Hey, at least a boomerang is a useful thing. You throw it at the target, and if you miss it will come back to you, without your having to go to the trouble of retrieving it.

    And face it, you can do a lot worse. People have named kids after English industrial cities (Bristol Palin), naked posteriors (Moon Unit Zappa), et cetera.

  21. #21 Phillip Helbig
    Tyskland
    July 2, 2014

    “Merihobu surprises me, because it sounds like it could be an Indo-European word , and Estonian isn’t an Indo-European language.”

    Right, it is related to Finnish. Latvian an Lithuanian are, however, Indo-European.

    Any truth to the claim that, of all modern languages, Lithuanian is the closest to proto-Indo-European?

  22. #22 Phillip Helbig
    Tyskland
    July 2, 2014

    “Kylie Minogue is a gay male icon. Which I find slightly confusing, because she’s a straight female.”

    Some of the biggest gay-male icons (not “gay male icons; there is a huge difference!) are ABBA, which consisted of two heterosexual couples. And, interestingly, among gays, the question is not “Björn or Benny”, but the answer is Frida.

    Aahhh yes, ABBA, all that youthful sexual energy enticingly packed in skin-tight lycra—and that’s just the blokes!

  23. #23 John Massey
    July 2, 2014

    Not content with naming his first daughter Moon Unit, Frank Zappa named his son Dweezle. If my father did that to me, I think I would have killed him. I came pretty close by accident anyway – we once sawed a 1957 Morris Minor in half with a hack-saw (you hold that end, Dad, while I cut it through the middle here…), and I accidentally dropped half the car on Dad. He came close to killing me on many more occasions, though.

    As it happens, my father wanted to call me Robert. That obviously didn’t happen. But you can understand his logic if I tell you that my second name is Bruce, and most of my father’s ancestry was Scottish, a couple of generations earlier. As a small child, my paternal grandmother had me totally convinced – she would shepherd me into dark corners and whisper: “Never forget – we are Scottish, and proud.” She used to take me to watch the Highland Games every year, big fat guys in kilts heaving tree trunks around, and feed me Dundee Shortbread, and all that stuff. It came as quite a bitter awakening when I realised that I wasn’t Scottish at all – not only was I born in Australia, so was she!!!

    I had a real Aboriginal boomerang, a big heavy one, one that had been given to my Dad by the father of some of the kids he taught in school, and I tried for years and years to throw the damn thing and get it to come back to me, but all it would do is dive into the ground. Years of frustration, self-accusations of being a useless boomerang thrower, etc.

    Then one day I finally figured out that the guy who had made it was left-handed, so he shaped it and put the twist in it the other way.

    So I tried throwing it left handed, and from the very first time, it flew like a bird and came back to me beautifully. It was an outstanding boomerang, beautifully crafted, but just a left handed one.

  24. #24 Martin R
    July 2, 2014

    Haha, a south-paw boomerang! Great!

  25. #25 Eric Lund
    July 2, 2014

    Not content with naming his first daughter Moon Unit, Frank Zappa named his son Dweezle. If my father did that to me, I think I would have killed him.

    Johnny Cash wrote the ultimate song on that topic: A Boy Named Sue.

  26. #26 Sean M
    July 3, 2014

    “Historians of science keep saying stuff like “Yeah, well, what you find important about Newton’s work isn’t necessarily what he and his contemporaries found important”. But guess what. We’re not historians of science. We are not members of that tiny subset of humanity that finds Newton’s astrological speculations equally or more interesting than the Principia. The reason that we care about him at all is his contributions to natural science. ”

    And romantic Neo-Pagans are some of the few people who care about the Viking Age. Does that mean that archaeologists should focus on saying and publishing what is helpful to followers of Asatru?

  27. #27 Birger Johansson
    July 3, 2014

    (OT) Literary review of the old testament (Swedish text).
    Wow! The book has too much cruelty to be the basis of any RPG.

  28. #28 Martin R
    July 3, 2014

    I certainly think the modern interest in ancient Norse religion is an argument for research funding in that field. But what really gets me about historians of science is that they like to make make general relativist pronouncements on science and scientific knowledge. Or that they at least tend to be studiously neutral or unconcerned about who in an old scientific debate turned out to be right, as if this were unimportant.

  29. #29 John Massey
    July 3, 2014

    I have been taught to say “Viking Period”.

  30. #30 Birger Johansson
    July 3, 2014

    (OT) Medieval-style, literal surnames to be reintroduced http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/literal-surnames-to-be-reintroduced-2014070388223 Medieval-style surnames that describe a person’s job or characteristics are to be brought back, the British government has announced. The move will make it easier to assess someone’s suitability for a job or social interaction thanks to surnames such as Electrician, Accountant, Friendly, Pisshead and Twat.
    The spokesman added that if crime-related surnames, such as Simon Murderer and Barry Insurance Fraudster, had been introduced earlier it “would have saved a lot of police time”.

    Forgot link in @27, My bad.

  31. #31 John Massey
    July 3, 2014

    Rocket Propelled Grenade?

    You forgot to mention the incest.

  32. #32 Birger Johansson
    July 3, 2014

    John, role-playing game. BTW I just came across a blog with a creationist named “Kaled”.
    (The Doctor) “Kaled, Interesting. That is an anagram of…”

    “Genesis of the Daleks”, 1975.

  33. #33 Birger Johansson
    July 3, 2014

    (OT) “Satan is Behind Gay Marriage”
    He likes to throw the rice when the grooms (or brides) leave the church, the ol’ softy.
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/barber-gay-marriage-brainchild-satan

  34. #34 John Feudal-Overlord
    July 3, 2014

    That sounds unlikely.

  35. #35 John Massey
    July 3, 2014

    Curses – my joke has just been caught in the SPAM filter!!!

  36. #36 John Massey
    July 3, 2014

    My daughter, at age 11, did *not* forget to mention the incest (in relation to Noah and his daughters) in Religious Instruction class, and made herself very unpopular with the teacher, who clearly knew the Bible (OT + NT) less well than my daughter did, my daughter having read the whole thing from beginning to end, not once, but twice by the time she was 11.

    You know, if you are going to teach a book of fables to a bunch of 11 year old kids, the least you should do is read the book yourself first, so one of them can’t catch you out in front of the whole class by referring to, shall we say, inconveniently inappropriate bits that you didn’t know about.

  37. #37 JustaTech
    July 3, 2014

    Arrgh John Massey@14 ! Now I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of bizzare 80′s music vidoes on YouTube! (Safety Dance!)

    Here’s what I learned in my history of science in the early modern world: Newton was nuts. He stuck a bodkin in his eye! (Around the back of his eye, but still.)

  38. #38 Birger Johansson
    July 4, 2014

    John, beware the book-reading appetites of bored pre-teens. I read just about everything in the house (but even I found Nancy Drew rather bland).
    Martin, her is a huge irony: “Winner of Nazi 1935 ‘most beautiful Aryan baby’ contest revealed to be Jewish” http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/02/winner-of-nazis-1935-most-beautiful-aryan-baby-contest-revealed-to-be-jewish/

  39. #39 Birger Johansson
    July 4, 2014

    Damn tpyo, should be “here” , not “her”.

  40. #40 Sean M
    July 4, 2014

    Martin, can you give any examples (obviously you are away from your library right now)? The works on Newton and Galileio which I have read emphasize that Newton was not a 20th century secular academic in 17th century clothing, and that sometimes the view which proved right in the long run was contrary to the evidence at the time. While some historians are very skeptical about the possibility of knowledge in general, it seems to me that the first two views are precisely the respect-the-evidence approach which you approve of.

  41. #41 Birger Johansson
    July 4, 2014

    Skeptic alert: Proponents claim China’s unusual ‘fire’ therapy can cure stress, indigestion, infertility and even cancer http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/04/proponents-claim-chinas-unusual-fire-therapy-can-cure-stress-indigestion-infertility-and-even-cancer/

  42. #42 John Massey
    July 5, 2014

    ‘The treatment gained renewed public attention this month when photos of a man having fire applied to his crotch went viral on Chinese social media: “Sir, how well would you like your meat cooked?” joked one microblogger on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.’

    Why is this “China’s unusual ‘fire’ therapy”?

    I assume in pretty much the same way that it is Sweden’s practice of attacking neighbours with chainsaws.

    Saying “for some in China” is like saying “for some drops in the ocean”. How many stories do you see that start “for some in India, engaging in bizarre pseudo-science is regarded as the big new thing”.

    Deduct 3 demerit points from Agence France-Presse for stupidity and cheap sensationalist reporting of absolute trivia.

    But then, it’s “those funny Chinese”, so normal anti-racism rules are suspended.

  43. #43 John Massey
    July 5, 2014
  44. #44 John Massey
    July 5, 2014

    These simply have to be the best police recruitment posters of all time:

    http://cd.qq.com/a/20140703/011313.htm#p=2

  45. #45 John Massey
    July 5, 2014

    Apparently to people in Sichuan, those police recruitment posters are very “Hong Kong style.”

    Those would have to be people from Sichuan who have never been to Hong Kong. Police women in Hong Kong usually wear skirts, and don’t do stuff like that. In my opinion they are the world’s best cops, but they don’t do that.

  46. #46 Birger Johansson
    July 5, 2014

    John, Sweden has its share of creepy nutter “therapists” (Swedish language text) Hans Scheike http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Scheike I will not translate, since you would need bleach to purge your brain.

  47. #47 John Massey
    July 6, 2014

    Yes, well, that was fairly unedifying.

    One of my colleagues at work made the humorous comment that, now that Rolf Harris has been totally publicly discredited and imprisoned, his crappy paintings being dumped cheap on eBay and his various honours taken away, I am Perth WA’s most famous export, because there is no one else left. I didn’t want to spoil his joke by telling him I was not born in Perth.

  48. #48 John Massey
    July 6, 2014

    This could make you think that Japanese people must be pretty weird.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-27067012

    That is, until you find out that, in the whole of Japan, with a population of 127 million, there are 100 ‘zentai’ enthusiasts. That’s less than 0.00008%. But apparently it’s newsworthy enough to make it to the BBC, and to warrant the attention of ‘academics’ (read ‘stupid psychologists with nothing better to do’).

  49. #49 John Massey
    July 6, 2014

    I usually avoid these people like they’ve got the plague, so I never knew how funny (or accurate) Bill Maher is.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYkqp9v1zL4

    Did Hillary Clinton really say her favourite book is the Bible? Did she actually say that? Does anyone need any more evidence of what scumbags all politicians are?

  50. #50 Birger Johansson
    July 7, 2014

    Clinton: Pandering.
    Remember, she was in favor of tort….”enhanced interrogation”, and then claims she wasn’t.
    -John If you want to laugh at these assholes, do what I do and start the day by reading “Dispatches from the Culture wars”
    Janne, maybe you can check this out: “Tokyo toilet exhibition: giant poo slides and singing toilet seats – video” http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/jul/02/tokyo-toilet-exhibition-singing-toilet-seats-video

  51. #51 John Massey
    July 7, 2014

    I have been defeated by a Japanese toilet. It was so technologically complex that I simply couldn’t figure out how to use it.

    The other bit of technology that has defeated me was a shower in Tangshan, in Hebei Province, where they had the big earthquake in July 1976. I was there just after the 20th anniversary of the earthquake, in mid-September, definitely starting to get cooler in the mornings and evenings up there, the harvest is just starting, and I had to have freezing cold showers for two days until I figured out how to make hot water come out of the shower. And no, it was nothing like as simple as turning on the hot tap.

  52. #52 John Feudal-Overlord
    July 12, 2014

    This Tajik woman definitely needs a tougher, meaner looking wristwatch. Something shock proof in camo plastic could work.

    http://shanghaiist.com/2014/07/11/tajik-swat-police-officer.php

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