May Pieces Of My Mind #2

Tree house ruin, Saltsjö-Boo

Tree house ruin, Saltsjö-Boo

  • Listening to the classic rock station in the car, I turned it off in the middle of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under The Bridge”. Two days later I turn it on again and find myself in the middle of their “Scar Tissue”.
  • Heh. American podcaster talks about someone named Rothschild (pronounced “roared-shilled”), consistently pronounces it “rots-child”.
  • Norwegian reggae: Bo Mærøy and the Whalers.
  • I love Google Inbox’s snooze feature. Takes a huge load of stress off to be able to decide at what date and time I want to attend to a given letter, and then just forget about it.
  • Today Kadzic ripped out the dining-room ceiling. There must be so much anger inside him.
  • Am I the only one who has a home-made HTML file with links to my most-used sites as start page in my browser? Been updating it for 20 years.
  • I want to go to Georgia. The one in the Caucasus.
  • I’d like to reconceptualise the Eurovision song contest. The songs will be submitted as sheet music. The TV programme will consist of a jury looking at the sheets, humming to themselves and arguing amicably about whether certain lines scan and rhyme well. The winner gets a ten-song publishing deal.
  • Book Bond (unlike movie Bond) operates in the 1950s, wearing a fedora and smoking three packets a day. In “Live And Let Die”, he appreciatively rides a late-1930s Cord that would look roughly like this.
  • Bond asks HQ for diving gear. They send it over and helpfully add a box of speed pills. After a week of phys exercise, Bond prepares for his dangerous underwater mission by swallowing speed down with whiskey.
  • Medieval Saxons around the Sea of Azov!
  • Not only does Google Play Books sell ebooks. They also offer ebooks for free. Last night I was going to buy James Branch Cabell’s novel Jurgen, but instead ended up just getting his story collection Chivalry at no cost.
  • Royal Institute of Art has two display spaces in Stockholm, half an hour’s walk apart. Distributes invitation to an exhibition but does not mention any address at all. The fact that we still have artistry in the human gene pool is a really underused argument against evolution.
  • Finally! After the Destruction Phase, Kadzic the Demon Carpenter got stuck in unexpected rewiring for almost a week. But now he’s moved into his Creative Aspect.
  • This guy tries to create a ± symbol by typing + and underlining it. *groan*


  1. #1 BirgerJohansson
    June 1, 2015

    Isn’t “Jurgen” that old fantasy book that upset a christian watchdog group in USA a hundred years ago, but is actually very boring? LOTR it is not.
    — — — —
    The mongols wiped out pretty much everything around Crimea and the sea of Azov, with the exception for the Venice-allied coastal towns (The venetians provided the mongols with intelligence). This would set an upper limitt on the survival of the colony.

  2. #2 derek
    June 1, 2015

    Like Sherlock Holmes’s, Bond’s movie life stretched and stretched over the decades until it couldn’t stretch any more, then snapped. The Craig Bond is a re-planting in modern times, like the BBC “Sherlock” series, and I think at some point someone may take the character back to his roots in the Cold War, like the Robert Downey Jr. Holmes movies.

    Given modern copyright law, that someone’ll have to be either the current Bond rights holders, or else someone far in the future.

  3. #3 Eric Lund
    June 1, 2015

    Distributes invitation to an exhibition but does not mention any address at all.

    Unfortunately, it’s not just the artists who suffer from this problem. Last month I was invited to attend an event at Philips Exeter Academy, about 20 km from where I live. The PEA campus takes up several blocks in the central village of Exeter. The invitation did not state which building the event would be in–that information was only available at a specific point in the registration process.

    And while this has never happened to me personally, it is apparently common in some areas of the US to give directions which include a statement like, Turn left just past $NO_LONGER_EXISTING_LANDMARK. Which isn’t useful to people unfamiliar with the area, but locals will generally understand what it means. The direction giver will sometimes even admit that said landmark no longer exists.

  4. #4 BirgerJohansson
    June 2, 2015

    ” Turn left just past $NO_LONGER_EXISTING_LANDMARK. ”
    This could be an idea for an art exhibition, if you have the inspiration and time.
    — — — —
    I read one of the Bond novels as a wee lad, when the Cold War background was relevant.
    Somehow, I do not think the Bond concept will have as much mileage as Robinson Crusoe, not without a lot of alterations. Misogynic, and not very enlightened racially (the same can of course be said about the 18-century classic).
    One or two of the Alisdair MacLean titles may survive longer, from before the author lost himself in alcoholism.
    — — — — — —
    “Today Kadzic ripped out the dining-room ceiling”
    If this was a novel, he would uncover something that got the police, the secret service and the Vatican buzzing.
    If it was von Daniken’s house, he would interpret a moisture stain as an alien glyph.
    If it was a Val Mc Dermid novel, you would find body parts

  5. #5 Martin R
    June 2, 2015

    Neither Fleming nor Bond come across as misogynist in Live Or Let Die. Bond’s relationship to the main female character is pretty warm-hearted. But she isn’t particularly capable.

    Hey Birger, I’ve signed up for another autumn semester in Umeå! Dinner’s on me!

  6. #6 Eric Lund
    June 2, 2015

    Bond was certainly a womanizer in the novels and in the Connery and Moore era films (I haven’t seen any of the more recent Bond films; I outgrew that franchise around the time Dalton replaced Moore). That alone doesn’t make him a misogynist, but it is a troubling pattern. A relevant factor here: Bond actually did get married in, IIRC, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but the bride was assassinated on their wedding night. The book and the movie agree on this point (which is not always the case with the Bond franchise; the only things the movie The Spy Who Loved Me has in common with the book of the same title are the title and the James Bond character).

  7. #7 Martin R
    June 2, 2015

    The novel I read recently is only the 2nd in the series, so Bond hasn’t really had time to womanise yet. In this book, he keeps getting wounded and comments on how because of this he can’t make love to the main female character. So there’s never any bonking, only anticipation of it.

  8. #8 Eric Lund
    June 2, 2015

    The novel I read recently is only the 2nd in the series, so Bond hasn’t really had time to womanise yet.

    If you are at all familiar with English sexual slang, prepare to wince at some of the Bond girls’ names later in the series (at least in the movies; the books may be less egregious in this regard). Miss Galore (I’ll leave it to you to learn her first name) and Dr. Goodhead (I don’t recall whether she’s an MD or a Ph.D., but the degree does not immunize her from Bond’s charms) are particularly obvious. And while the heroine of the novel The Spy Who Loved Me has a reasonable-sounding French name, the Bond girl from the movie is a Soviet agent, Agent XXX.

    Movie Bond was not always above board in his dealings with women, either. His method for winning Miss Solitaire’s affections in the movie version of Live and Let Die (which IIRC was the point where Moore replaced Connery as James Bond) was particularly underhanded–that movie would probably not be made that way today.

  9. #9 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    June 4, 2015

    “Am I the only one who has a home-made HTML file with links to my most-used sites as start page in my browser? Been updating it for 20 years.”

    No, you’re not. Started in 1994, and still actively in use.

  10. #10 Martin R
    June 5, 2015

    Well done Mike!

  11. #11 BirgerJohansson
    June 5, 2015
  12. #12 John Massey
    June 7, 2015

    There are more reasons than one why Razib Khan does not wish to return to Bangladesh, the land of his birth – he is an atheist and therefore an apostate, and as such is liable to the death penalty.

    Birger – some stuff on population replacements in Europe:

    And some interesting Bronze Age stuff:

    The thing that must always be remembered in trying to trace ancient population movements is that male and female populations movements and replacements do not track together. Largely, they moved independently from one another, except in cases where whole populations migrated, as in the Iron Age Anglo-Saxon migration into England.

    It should be obvious from the genetics of the modern day inhabitants of Middle and South America, but people keep having to discover the same principle. You can’t track population movements in Europe just from mtDNA or just from Y DNA, because they don’t track together.

  13. #13 BirgerJohansson
    June 7, 2015

    Re @12: Agreed1 And I recommend those liks to anyone else who is interested in where “Europeans” came from!
    Important quotes: “Scandinavia is on the edge of the range of humans” leading to local extinctions, and “These results indicate a more complex transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic HG societies in Scandinavia.”
    — — — — —
    I have followed the tragedy of the Chinese cruise ship.
    It is remarkable that the authorities got cranes big enough to lift the ship to the place within a week, maybe the victims can be identified visually.
    But I hope they have the sense to rig up CCTVs so the next of kin do not have to be in the same rooom.
    Just like with Estonia a lot of the victims were elderly, they never had a chance. I once travelled with the ship later renamed Estonia, these disasters makes you think about your mortality…

  14. #14 BirgerJohansson
    June 7, 2015

    “Tree house ruins” made me start thinking. Alas, even the oldest Swedish houses and their environs are annoyingly young, unlike London. When they built new houses a few years ago behind the Tower, near Wellclose Square, they found hundreds of gravestones everyone had forgotten about.
    And on top of the real past, the Victorians shamelessly invented new tales of the past, the myth about the ravens of the Tower is just one of many.
    You should spread a few stories about your house, like being sited on the original estate of the knight that served as the real-life template for Arn. Add some iron-age human sacrifices in the sacred grove at the same site.
    For good measure, let Kadzic the Demon Carpenter drill a few canals along the walls, giving rodents easy access. The resulting noises is “what gave Lovecraft the idea to that story, during his visit to Sweden 1923”!

  15. #15 Martin R
    June 8, 2015

    Excellent suggestion about Kadzic! I’ll just have to learn enough Polish to speak Lovecraftian prose to him. Now where’s that dictionary? Let’s see now, squamous, rugose, gibbous…

  16. #16 Eric Lund
    June 8, 2015

    I’ll just have to learn enough Polish to speak Lovecraftian prose to him.

    It’s probably the same as in English: Cthulu fhtagn.

  17. #17 BirgerJohansson
    June 9, 2015

    Squamous and rugose
    — — — — —
    Is anyone interested in evidence for the “weak anthropic principle”? Basically, the opposite of the Copernican principle.

  18. #18 Martin R
    June 9, 2015

    You mean evidence for the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics?

  19. #19 birgerjohansson
    June 11, 2015

    Yes,but the less drastic version, the weak anthropic principle applies to Earth, the solar system and its habitbility.
    I would reommend the book “Lucky Planet” , it is written for laypeople and non-astronomers. After reading it, I consider Fermi’s Paradox thoroughly explained.
    -Remember how priviliged we are, living in an industrialised democratic country with a welfare system and 200 years of peace?
    Now take that privilige and multiply it with one billion…

  20. #20 John Massey
    June 11, 2015

    And never mind the conspiracy of Scandinavian Bronze Age scholars against you when you are far ahead of most of them them by knowing this:

  21. #22 John Massey
    June 11, 2015

    What is worth paying attention to is climate changes in parts of Europe that resulted in catastrophic drops in population of early European farmers, that may have made it relatively easy for Indo-European speaking herders to migrate in.

  22. #23 John Massey
    June 11, 2015

    Interestingly, they found that the steppe Y DNA included haplogroup R1b, which subsequently went to high frequency in north west Europe. The only possible explanation for that is high male population replacement.

    Other interesting snippets – pale skin was present in Europe relatively early. European hunter gatherers were da ark skinned. But it looks like there was selection pressure for pale skin in early European farmers, or that the farmers who migrated into Europe from Anatolia were already pale skinned, possibly due to changing to an agricultural diet.

    And the selective sweep for lactose tolerance was relatively late.

  23. #24 Martin R
    June 11, 2015

    Birger, I believe the definition of the Weak Anthropic Principle has nothing to do with Earth being intelligently designed. The WAP says that the reason that our world seems so finely tuned for us to live in it is that there are countless parallel universes and we can only observe the ones that are hospitable to life.

  24. #25 John Massey
    June 11, 2015

    The problem for a lot of people is that what is emerging about the origin of modern Europeans looks in some respects too close to old Nazi theories about ‘the Aryan race.’

    Be that as it may, to quote someone worth quoting: “I’m deeply hostile to any research strategy that aims to propagate a pre-formulated view of a matter rather than investigate whether that view has empirical support. Even in cases where I find the viewpoint politically sympathetic.” Or vice versa.

    The Nazis were wrong and living in cuckoo land, and any similarities that appear to exist between their crackpot theories and the peopling of Europe are superficial, and should be ignored. Particularly, they should not be permitted to obscure the truth.

    There are already serious nutcases out there with elaborate theories about the superiority of the ‘Indo-Europeans’, as if that were a genetic classification rather than a linguistic one. Well, longer term, being Indo-European speakers didn’t seem to do the Tocharians a lot of good in maintaining a “pure white race”. We need to not let our revulsion for those nutcases divert us from seeing the truth when we have persuasive evidence. There is nothing ‘pure’ about modern Europeans in genetic terms.

  25. #26 Martin R
    June 11, 2015

    Hear, hear!

  26. #27 BirgerJohansson
    June 11, 2015

    I did not mean our system is “intelligently designed”* at all!
    Rather, the Earth -and the kind of system we live in- is of a vanishingly rare kind, but but since the univerese is so incredibly big, systems like ours -even containing intelligent life – are very numerous. These two statements are not contradictory.
    (I think the WAP is the one about the solar system. The *strong* anthropic principle is about having a universe that allows life on account of number of dimensions, value of constants and so on)
    —- —- —- —- —-
    “the conspiracy of Scandinavian Bronze Age scholars”

    Not me, I am not a scholar and I certainly don’t mind if we are descended from dark-skinned Europeans. Ultimately, we are all from Africa*, which is why Adolph loathed the idea of evolution.
    *Yes I know the neanderthal ancestors came one migration ahead of us.
    — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
    * The “intelligent” in “intelliegntly designed” is misplaced. Creationists are the worst kind of ignoramuses.
    For examples, check a site named “Dispatches From the Culture Wars”, where Ed Brayton helpfully displays some really horrid stuff from various news outlets in America.

  27. #28 Martin R
    June 11, 2015

    Both the SAP and the WAP are about the whole universe. “How come it works in such a way that we can exist anywhere in it?” The SAP replies: “Because it was made for us.” The WAP replies “Because there are innumerable universes and we wouldn’t be around to ask the question if this were a less hospitable universe.”

  28. #29 BirgerJohansson
    June 11, 2015

    “I want to go to Georgia” -Have they recovered from the last mess Putin made? Hard to get investors with neighbours like that.
    — — —
    Going off on a tangent a bit: China is not strictly a developing nation, but water shortage combined with rural poverty will make it increasingly hard for many to get clean water at reasonable cost. So this will be helpful.
    “Researchers study inexpensive process to clean water in developing nations”
    — — — — — —
    Also, I read that the horribly polluted water of Ganges does not cause as much disease as expected because it is loaded with bacteriophages; virii that kill bacteria. I knew the deep ocean microbiota is controlled by bacteriophages, but they also play a big role in freshwater. But I do not recommend transporting viral species to the Chinese rivers without a lot of research.

  29. #30 John Massey
    June 11, 2015

    Birger, the “conspiracy of Bronze Age scholars” against him was one of Martin’s Facebook ‘pretending paranoia’ jokes.

    I’m mixing media, which I guess could get messy if uncontrolled.

  30. #31 John Massey
    June 11, 2015

    Speaking of Chinese rivers, on my first visit to China in 1982, we were on a cruise down the Yangtse and came upon two ancient and rusting submarines that were so derelict they looked comical, so I innocently pulled out my camera and started snapping away, until a crewman tapped me on the shoulder and shook his head. I guess the Chinese navy didn’t want anyone to know how absolutely humorously awful their submarine fleet was.

    I still have those photos somewhere.

  31. #32 Martin R
    June 11, 2015

    I hear the Ganges is more sort of like a meaty soup than a river because of all the sloppy cremations performed on the river shore at Benares.

  32. #33 BirgerJohansson
    June 11, 2015

    Swedish-language article: Stockholm to get viking museum.
    Only 2000 m2 ? Meh. They have a big goddamn museum for a ship that didn’t float, but a small shed for people who sailed to Vinland…

  33. #34 BirgerJohansson
    June 11, 2015

    Noo! Saruman/Dracula (Christopher Lee) is dead at 93.

  34. #35 Eric Lund
    June 11, 2015

    The problem for a lot of people is that what is emerging about the origin of modern Europeans looks in some respects too close to old Nazi theories about ‘the Aryan race.’

    The Aryans did get around. Two countries derive their names from the Aryans: Iran and Ireland (Eirann).

    The story of how proto-Indo-Europeans spread into Europe somewhat resembles the spread of Europeans across North America. It’s not exactly the same: diseases to which Europeans had acquired some immunity due to exposure had devastating effects on the indigenous North Americans. Contemporary records from New England mention plagues that killed as much as 90% of the population of some indigenous tribes. One of the native villages abandoned as a result of these plagues was the site settled by a bunch of English farmers who arrived in 1620, having run out of beer on their way to their intended destination, an island called Manhattan.

    I hear the Ganges is more sort of like a meaty soup than a river because of all the sloppy cremations performed on the river shore at Benares.

    That may be the inspiration for it being difficult to drown, but easy to suffocate, in the Ankh River.

  35. #36 Martin R
    June 11, 2015

    Hail Christopher Lee! He lived long and prospered.

    As for the Viking thing, so funny when in another interview the owners commented Och Kungen är positiv, “and the King is vaguely enthusiastic”. 😀

    Anyway, I hope they realise that they need an archaeologist, not just an historian.

  36. #37 Martin R
    June 11, 2015

    “A water that has been filtered by so many kidneys can only be very pure indeed”

  37. #38 Eric Lund
    June 11, 2015

    Only 2000 m2 ?

    That’s slightly larger than the lot on which my house was built. But I am in the US, a place where houses and house lots are frequently of ridiculous size. In a city like Stockholm, it might be difficult to get that much land in a location tourists would be willing to visit. Of course, land is probably cheaper in Umeå. It’s cheaper in most US cities, too, though not the ones that people want to live in.

  38. #39 John Massey
    June 12, 2015

    There were no ‘Aryans’ in race terms – that was a deluded Nazi myth. There is an Aryan language family, which is not the same as the Indo-European language family. You can’t map language to race – it doesn’t work. Example: Basques, who are not genetically different from the people who live in the surrounding areas, but who speak a non-Indo-European language that derived from early European farmers. Second example: Sardinians, who are as close as we can get today genetically to early European farmers, but who have adopted an Indo-European language.

  39. #40 BirgerJohansson
    June 12, 2015

    There were no wading birds in the river Ankh, as the water would have dissolved their flesh…
    — — —
    Why most Swedes don’t care about National Day
    Yes, the Midsummer Day festivities is a de facto national day, outcompeting the “official” one.
    BTW Stekenjokk, in the mountains at the Norwegian border got two feet of snow the night before Wednesday. We have trumped England in the competition for “worst f*cking summer weather”!

  40. #42 BirgerJohansson
    June 12, 2015

    (OT) Swedish-language article. A bunch of Swedish politicians and business leaders make an important statement, and discover they should have checked their facts. “”Grovt fel i ex-direktörers debattartikel om DÖ” Duh. Someone should have told them about this thing called “internet” and the ability to quickly check the facts. I forwarded this to show how surprisingly often people don’t show necessary caution with their claims. I mean, these people could just have asked a secretary to surf the web five minutes…

  41. #43 Eric Lund
    June 12, 2015

    There is an Aryan language family, which is not the same as the Indo-European language family.

    Specifically, the Aryan languages are a subset of Indo-European languages. The group includes Farsi and many of the languages of the Indian subcontinent. There may well have been people calling themselves Aryans, though as you point out, it was probably more of a tribe than a race. And it certainly wasn’t the sort of people the Nazis considered Aryan. I don’t know offhand what the Nazis thought of non-Jewisn people from southwest Asia, but they definitely had it in for their neighbors, the Slavs. Political considerations certainly entered into the calculation of who was and wasn’t Aryan: the Japanese and Sioux/Lakota were considered Aryan (the latter due to the ancestry of a particular author who was popular in Germany at the time) despite having no obvious genetic kinship with north Europeans.

  42. #44 birgerjohansson
    June 13, 2015

    ” the Japanese ” ?
    For your vacation planning, here is a short film from the Tokyo Tourist board. Alas, the music is synth raher than rock.

  43. #45 John Massey
    June 13, 2015

    Ironically, northern Europeans and Native Americans do have some shared ancestry through the Ice Age steppe connection.

    But it’s hysterically funny that the Nazis singled out the Lakota, when it’s now so well known that Native Americans are the most genetically homogeneous geographic population, having travelled the furthest away from Africa.

    But erm Japanese?

    Anyway, next time you hear someone referring to Europeans as ‘Caucasian’ please tell them to stop doing it, because it’s obviously wrong. About the best they can do without being wrong is to call them West Eurasians. Yes, I realise the American government does it. Police forces in Australia still do it.

  44. #46 Martin R
    June 13, 2015

    Funny too how the term “Caucasian” was coined: Christoph Meiner and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach simply thought people in the south Caucasus were so good-looking that they should be the original version of the “white race” the two philosophers believed in. I don’t know if they were influenced by the discovery of the Indo-European language group and its geographical distribution.

  45. #47 John Massey
    June 13, 2015

    The ‘ur-heimat’ of proto-Indo-European is still hotly debated, but yes, they could have been.

    It seems to be increasingly theorised that proto-Indo-European may have originated with the Yamnaya people, and that it was they who migrated into Europe with it. (It’s also now theorised that they also migrated eastwards as far as the Tarim Basin, which would explain the Tocharians, and not, as my daughter wryly commented, “some lost Roman legion”.)

    It looks a lot (and rather entertainingly) that some of the alleles for pale skin were introduced to Europe by migrating Anatolian farmers, among whom pale skin was genetically selected for because, on an agricultural diet, they could not get enough Vitamin D without being able to synthesise it from sunlight, and as they migrated to more northerly latitudes, pale skin became increasingly necessary.

    Sardinians are not really dark skinned at all; at most you might say that some of them have an ‘olive’ complexion, as my mother would have called it, and many are quite fair skinned. If the early European farmers looked like them (which seems likely), that would explain the relatively early appearance of pale skin in Europe.

    Some of the alleles for pale skin occur today at high frequency among people in north Africa. The Berbers are not dark skinned people.

    And then particularly in northern Europe, it looks like there was another injection of other pale skinned alleles by migrating Indo-European people, who were a hybrid of Ice Age hunter-gatherers with steppe people. This migration appears to have been very rapid, because it shows up in Scandinavia and Scotland pretty much around the same time.

    The old Nazis would all be turning in their graves at the findings of all this recent work, which makes it all the more perplexing that people reject invasion and large scale population replacement in Europe by Indo-European speaking people as some dressed up version of old Nazi race theories. I suppose it’s akin to people rejecting modern genetics as some evolution of the old eugenics movement.

  46. #48 John Massey
    June 14, 2015

    At least one issue is now settled: Yamnaya = Corded Ware People

    That makes it more likely that the ur-heimat of proto-Indo-European was the Pontic Steppe.

  47. #49 John Massey
    June 14, 2015
  48. #50 BirgerJohansson
    June 15, 2015

    About the name Lee… Did Bruce Lee borrow the name because Hong Kong was a Brit colony, or is it an indigenous Chinese name?
    Bruce Lee
    “Sun” is also a Chinese name.
    -And then we have Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon, known by satirical MAD magazine as “Sun Moon Loon” (Being absorbed by a cult is a horror story in itself, like the Borg, only without cool technology)

  49. #51 BirgerJohansson
    June 15, 2015

    Shared ancestry: Amazing that the shamanistic belief system preservered for…how long must it have been? 20.000 years? The genes evolved, languages evolved but the roots of the belief system remains recognisably the same in Siberia, Lapland and the Americas.

  50. #52 John Massey
    June 15, 2015

    #50 Indigenous Chinese 李 – in Romanised Cantonese, people usually write it as “Lee” and pronounce it that way when speaking English, but in Cantonese it is actually pronounced as “Lay”. So in Cantonese, Bruce’s screen name would be pronounced Lay Siu (like see-ew) Loong.

    Bruce Lee was not pure Han, his mother was half European.

  51. #53 John Massey
    June 15, 2015

    To further confuse you, the reason that the very common Chinese family name 李 is written as “Lee” in romanised form is that in Mandarin it is pronounced as “Lee”, identically to the English name “Lee”.

    Romanisation of Cantonese has been haphazard. There are at least half a dozen ‘systems’ invented by various language scholars for romanising Cantonese. None of them reproduces Cantonese exactly the way it is spoken.

    To the credit of the Chinese government, they standardised the romanisation of Mandarin (or Putunghua as it is now referred to in China, being the common spoken language of China) as Pinyin.

    If you go to Beijing and other big Chinese cities, you will see road signs and a lot of place names written in both Chinese script and Pinyin. It is very helpful to people visiting China who are not literate in Chinese.

    This is not the case in Hong Kong where, because of its colonial history, street and place names are written in Chinese script and English, and the Chinese might be totally different from the English – or might be a transliteration from English into Chinese.

    So the street “Salisbury Road” is written in Chinese so that in Cantonese it is pronounced “Sa-lee-see-ba-lay-dow.” When of course English people pronounce “Salisbury” as “Sawlsbry”, not “Sal-is-berry”.

    The one that made me laugh out loud when I heard it was the transliteration of the name of the American film actor Charles Bronson – in Cantonese it comes out as “Cha-lay-see-bear-lon-son.”

  52. #54 Martin R
    June 15, 2015

    The recommended dictionary transcription of Martin in Chinese characters means “Horse Nail”.

  53. #55 John Massey
    June 15, 2015

    I posted this on Facebook, but it’s worth repeating here – do yourself a favour and wade all the way through Razib’s Magnum Opus, if you want to catch up to where population genetics has got to in reconstructing the human past:

  54. #56 John Massey
    June 15, 2015

    In Mandarin, John comes out as “Jorng” which means “brick”. My wife’s grandmother was most bemused when I first met her – “What’s his name? Brick? That’s a strange sort of a name to call someone!” To Granny, I was Ah-Jorng (Ah-Brick) ever afterwards.

  55. #57 John Massey
    June 15, 2015

    In Cantonese, you would be “ma teen”, which means “horse sky” or “horse heaven”.

    In Mandarin, the Tien Ma are the “heavenly horses”, the horses that saved China from invasion by the Xiongnu.

  56. #58 BirgerJohansson
    June 15, 2015

    (OT) Judging by reviews, you can all save money by giving the latest “Terminator” sequel a miss.
    — — — — — —
    I watched the Director’s Cut version of “Alien” this weekend. Was impressed by the acting of a very young Sigourney Weawer.

  57. #59 John Massey
    June 15, 2015

    Sigourney Weaver was brilliant in that. Alien and the sequel Aliens rate as two of my all time favourite movies. The third in the series was taking it one too far, and Sig was getting a bit middle-aged by then. But in the first two films she was one of my favourite film heroines.

  58. #60 Eric Lund
    June 15, 2015

    Birger @50: As John pointed out, Lee (usually spelled Li in Pinyin, but Bruce started transliterating his name before Pinyin was invented) is a common Chinese surname. It is also a common surname among Koreans (though there is significant overlap in Chinese and Korean surnames, not surprising when you consider the shared border). My impression is that the name is more prevalent among Chinese and Koreans than among the English; Lee and Kim are the two most common Korean surnames. But the name Lee comes up in historical contexts, especially in the US: obviously the Confederate general, but also in the names of several towns, many of which pre-date the US Civil War, including the next municipality over from where I live.

    There are two possible origins for the English name Lee. The more likely is a variant spelling of “lea”, an old word meaning “meadow”. “Lee” is also used in nautical terminology, to refer to the side away from the wind (whence the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean; they are further west than the Windward Islands, at a latitude where prevailing winds are normally from the east).

  59. #61 John Massey
    June 15, 2015

    While we are at it, people can save money by not watching Inherent Vice, Jupiter Ascending, American Sniper, Wild, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Seventh Son, Exodus, Her, Birdman, the latest Hunger Games crap, and The Maze Runner.

  60. #62 Martin R
    June 15, 2015

    Of those, I’ve only seen Birdman. I found it to be OK but not great.

  61. #63 BirgerJohansson
    June 15, 2015

    I had a lot of empathy for the hapless navigator, Lambert (Veronica Cartwright). We cannot all be Beowulf or Siegfrid .

  62. #64 John Massey
    June 16, 2015

    Films I have watched recently which I think are worth a look are Interstellar, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, Begin Again, The Judge, Trash and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

  63. #65 John Massey
    June 16, 2015

    I forgot to mention Ex Machina. It got a varied critical reception, but I think it’s a very good film.

  64. #66 John Massey
    June 16, 2015

    I’m going to give Project Almanac a miss, on the assumption that it’s drek, which seems likely.

    I’m thinking about Chappie – same director as District 9, so it could have possibilities. It’s one to ignore the critics on – if you liked District 9 like I did, I think there’s a fair chance this could be worth it.

  65. #67 John Massey
    June 16, 2015

    I should say that the only critic I saw who panned Ex Machina was MaryJanice Davidson of USA Today, but I disagree strongly with every single thing that woman has written that I have ever read. I should probably read all of her film reviews and then watch the ones she really doesn’t like. I agree with another critic who called Ex Machina intelligent science fiction.

  66. #68 Eric Lund
    June 16, 2015

    It’s been many years since I have seen a movie in a theater. The nearest such is at the regional mall, about 20 minutes drive from where I live. There used to be closer places than that, but they all closed in the aughts. And US-style shopping malls are not places I like to visit–sometimes I need to go there to get something, but if I am making a discretionary trip, there are other places I’d rather go.

  67. #69 Martin R
    June 16, 2015

    Our nearest movie theatre is in a converted 1909 factory building next to a little mall. But we usually go into town (Stockholm) for a really big screen or an art-house flick.

  68. #70 John Massey
    June 17, 2015

    I don’t recall the last time I was in a movie theatre. A lot of the movie theatres in Hong Kong have died since people can rent films online to watch at home. There is one big movie theatre in the middle of town that has been frozen mid-construction for at least the last 4 years. It is just sitting there half-built.

    I watch all films on a wide screen at home. I never watch TV except when there is tennis on cable, so I can usually get through one film every night after work. Which means I watch an awful load of rubbish for the occasional gem.

    Wimbledon starts 29 June, so that will put a stop to my compulsive movie watching for a couple of weeks while I’m in compulsive tennis watching mode.

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