Moving the Optimist skiffs to another sailing camp
- Reading Matt Ruff’s new novel about black Americans in the 50s. Annoyed to find that nothing in the dialogue would sound out of place if spoken by a white American sci-fi fan in 2017.
- Feared 45 would be the sort who gets the trains running on time and starts wars. Actually can’t get trains running at all, wars with TV hosts.
- Etymological misunderstanding in this novel. Ruff parses the name Braithwaite as Braith-white, when it is actually Brae-thwaite.
- There’s this book about edible wild plants in Sweden named “Can you eat these things?” A more important question is “What population density could Sweden support if we reverted to hunting-fishing-gathering?”.
- I saw a seal between Bullandö and Djurönäset.
- Apron is furkle in Stockholm Swedish.
- Wonder how old our current run of seven-day weeks is. It’s survived several calendar reforms and at least one re-naming of the days.
- I’ve worked a lot with gender symbolism and gender transgression during the Late Iron Age. I’m an LGBTQ friendly scholar. But I’m sad to see the Swedish History Museum spread erroneous statements and wishful speculations on this theme in the country’s biggest newspaper because of Stockholm Pride.
- In theory of science, you usually reckon with two possible states of debate over a given issue. Either the scientific community is undecided, or it has reached a (provisional) consensus. In poorly funded and staffed subjects such as mine, there’s a common third state: apathy. This is when the scientific community doesn’t care enough about the issue to comment on it. Someone voices an opinion, and then it’s 40 years before someone else replies, and nobody pays any attention to either of the scholars.
- The post-apocalyptic pictures of the Statue of Liberty or the Capitol sticking up out of water / ice / desert sand reveal a poor understanding of how deserted buildings collapse.
- The head of a humanities think tank in Sweden has published an argument that strikes me as remarkably silly: “When simple jobs are lost to automation, the market value of humanities skills will rise.” So as the taxi drivers become jobless, a PhD in modern Latvian poetry will grow more valuable. Huh.
- Too often these standard 350-pp books barely keep me reading along, while part of me just wants them to end. Now I’m reading a feckin’ 1000-page P.F. Hamilton novel and the pages simply keep on turning.
- According to the POTUS, relations with Russia are “at an all-time and very dangerous low.” Cuban missile crisis, anyone?
- I gotta say, it’s pretty amazing that I can read daily tweets from William cranial-jacking Gibson himself. Respect!
- The 20th century: the time of smoking cigarettes while driving combustion-engine cars.
- Much of English Wikipedia’s article about soy sauce has been written by someone who doesn’t quite know when to use the word “the”, and prefers to skip it. This suggests to me that the information in the article is probably quite accurate.
- Decryption and decoding are the same. Doesn’t matter if it’s encrypted English or plaintext Swahili. I won’t understand either.
- Had a strange taste of retirement this past weekend: teenage kids off doing stuff, just me and my wife at my mom’s summer house. Though my wife looks about 40 years from retirement.
- Holy fuck. Junior has been teaching himself Japanese for the past year and a half. Today I learned that he has picked up 500 kanji characters along the way and reads Chinese food packaging quite easily. :-0
- A friendly soul at this publishing house apparently knows my daughter’s name. Their envelope of otherwise generic advertising material contained an old tea spoon with “Signe” engraved on it.
- This Picasso “Pigeons” print hung in our house when I grew up, and I’ve been wondering for decades what the spotted triangular thing in the lower left-hand corner is. A lamp shade? Took me 5 mins on WWW to find that it’s a stylised building that is seen outside the window in early treatments of the motif.
Pablo Picasso, Pigeons, 1957, detail
Pablo Picasso, Pigeons, 1957, detail