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Skeptical Sir Richard

Yesterday I finished reading the first volume of Sir Richard Burton’s 1855 Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah (in the public domain). Here Burton recounts his travels in the summer of 1853, when he disguised himself as a wandering Persian physician and performed the Muslim pilgrimage. At the time, if a non-Muslim…

Metal Detectorist Tattoo #2

Metal detectorist Steffen Hansen has kindly given me permission to show you his tattoo sleeve. He found the strap-end at Øvre Eiker in Buskerud fylke, Norway, and had it tattooed along with other Norwegian examples of the Borre style. I haven’t got a picture of his find, but you can see what they look like…

March Pieces Of My Mind #3

Untouched WW2 resistance arms cache found in a cave near Bergen. Sadly no archaeological involvement. Everything dealt with by police explosives experts. Greek Western heroine: Kalamata Jane. So annoying when people write about patently incorrect beliefs held in the past or in far parts of the world as “knowledge”. They’re going to drill cores of…

Weekend Fun

The past two weekends were a lot of fun. The Royal Technical College’s orchestra and several combined student choirs from Sweden and Finland performed Giuseppe Verdi’s 1874 Requiem, an intricate and operatic farewell to fellow composer Gioachino Rossini and poet Alessandro Manzoni. Gig with King Khan and the Shrines. Imagine a tall, psychedelic, semi-nude, portly,…

Metal Detectorist Tattoo

Yesterday I learned about a cool new tradition among metal detectorists. They’re having images of their favourite finds tattooed, often on the arm with which they hold the detector! Note that in Scandinavia these are generally objects that the finders have handed in to museums – they keep them only as tattoos. This is in…

March Pieces Of My Mind #2

Pretty groovy example of restaurant spelling the other day: “A là cartè”. ”From what black wells of Acherontic fear or feeling, from what unplumbed gulfs of extra-cosmic consciousness or obscure, long-latent heredity, were those half-articulate thunder-croakings drawn?” I know I’ve said this before, but it is such a remarkable fact that it bears repeating. Dungeons…

Palm Oil Non Sequitur

Weird argument in the World Wildlife Fund’s magazine for why Swedes shouldn’t avoid buying palm oil. “Sweden has such a small population that it doesn’t matter to the environment whether we buy environmentally destructive palm oil or not. The big markets are in other parts of the world. But if we buy environmentally certified palm…

Viking Crucifix

Metal detectorist Dennis Fabricius Holm made a pretty sweet find yesterday: the third known Birka crucifix. These little wonders of 10th century goldsmith work are named for the first find, made in 1879 when Hjalmar Stolpe excavated in the cemeteries of Birka near Stockholm. In addition to the crucifix grave 660 contained, among other things,…

March Pieces Of My Mind #1

If you block the Autobahn with droves of bananas, is that then ein Obstruktion? Tim Minchin has a huge hit right now in Australia with a song urging a strangely reluctant cardinal to come home from the Vatican and answer some questions about the clergy’s crimes against children in the 70s and 80s. Enormous areas…

Satnavs and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

One of the best pieces of economic advice I know is ”Don’t throw good money after bad”. Or in other words, when you consider whether you should continue to invest in a project, don’t let the sum you’ve already invested figure into your decision. To do so is known as the ”sunk cost fallacy”, and…