July Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • I wonder how many head shops worldwide are called The Joint Venture.
  • When friends of my kids cycle to our house, they always leave with their saddles yanked up a good bit. Because apparently other parents don't notice when the kids grow too tall for their bike saddle setting.
  • Finally figured out how the fuck I can accordion sheets while sleeping. I sweat a lot. The sheet gets glued to me. When I turn over, I'm like a big roller moving the sheet to one side and bunching it up next to me. After rolling over I often end up on top of the damp warm wad of layered fabric, steam ironing it with my weight.
  • My first album will be titled "Sensual Harassment".
  • Taught daughter, wife and mother to use calipers with the Vernier scale to get three decimals on centimeter measurements of external width, internal width and depth.
  • Wonder if people still come up to Howard Jones and express a wish to get to know him well.
  • Crap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.
  • My little babies just turned 16 and 11. Jr is almost as tall as me and Jrette is almost as tall as her mom. Both are graced with so many rich endowments!
  • Revolutionary youth have spraypainted the rocks at my favourite secluded swimming spot. I understand what "I love Hitler" means, but I can't quite grasp the totality of their ideology when they also paint a large penis and write the words "poo" and "boob".
  • I ask the council to send a graffiti removal crew to the east underpass at my development. They're very good about such things. But I've forgotten that there are two east underpasses and I don't specify which one. The lady replies with a pedagogical map and asks "When you say 'east underpass', do you mean the north-east one or the west one?". She pays no attention to the south-east one.
  • Anthroposophy offers Steiner schools, which is German for stoner schools.
  • My buddy came with his parents from a war-torn country when he was a toddler. As a grownup he's identified greatly with that country's ethnic majority and its glorious culture & history. Now he's suddenly received information that his parents belong to two of the old country's oppressed ethnic minorities, and their family name suggests that somewhere back up the male line his ancestors belonged to a third of these groups.
  • My dad's refurbishing the old Optimist skiff for Jrette. Epoxying some cracks and painting the hull, I was reminded of the time when my dad varnished the floor of the summer house and got completely blasted from the fumes.
  • Seems like blood-and-soil, the idea that a certain region belongs to people of a certain race or ethnicity, brings out the worst in us and is a poor basis for a country's constitution.
  • I was feeling dozy and otherworldly, so I took a nap. Now I feel bedraggled and otherworldly.

More like this

As I recall from the oft-parodied Führerbunker scene in Downfall, Steiner was the general who did not counterattack the advancing Russians with his nonexistent army. I hadn't thought about the literal meaning of his name, but it seems oddly appropriate.

Two of my work colleagues are Germans with Slavic surnames (one Czech, the other Polish). There was a time when nobody cared if you crossed the border. Of course, in the Schengen era nobody cares if you cross those borders today. Then again, I live in a country where many surnames (including my own) originate from languages other than the dominant local language. At one time the biggest obstacle to immigrating to the US was physically getting here.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 01 Aug 2014 #permalink

"The Joint Venture" should provide secondhand joints -artificial, or -if catering to the tribe of Igors- organic.
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"paint a large penis and write the words “poo” and “boob”.
I believe the word for these authors is "atavism".
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"Scientists solve 2000-year-old mystery of the binding media in China's polychrome Terracotta Army" http://phys.org/news/2014-08-scientists-year-old-mystery-media-china.ht…

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 01 Aug 2014 #permalink

Blut und Boden, my ass. Around AD 800, everything east of Elbe was populated by West Slav tribes. After conquest by German feudal lords, most underwent a language transfer by "elite domination" but naturally retained their genetic heritage. So introducing the concept of "race" to distinguish between, say poles and Germans is futile. In fact, the place name "Berlin" has a west slav origin.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 01 Aug 2014 #permalink

Birger @2: "The Joint Venture" is an appropriate name for a head shop, for the same reason that Colorado's Department of Transportation replaced mile marker 420 on the state's primary east-west motorway.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 01 Aug 2014 #permalink

Shiny stones! I want!

Birger, there are problems making a lot of the data fit the theory. That doesn't make it wrong, though. I can't get the whole original paper, unfortunately - you have to pay for it, and as a strong supporter of open access publication, I just won't do that. Pity, because it seems like a nice theory.

I have an embarrassing admission to make. I was born in a very remote part of Australia (to illustrate, when I was born, the population of the place we lived in went up from 3 people to 4) (there were more than that sort of moving around the area, but Aboriginal people were not included in the census in those days), and grew up in an only slightly less remote part of Australia. And I have now spent well over half of my life living on the southern coast of China, which really did not start to modernise much until the 1980s, after the end of the Cultural Revolution in the Mainland. It still noticeably lacks the trappings of true modern Western culture, like graffiti, which is a real rarity in Hong Kong.

So there is a whole world of stuff, culturally speaking, of which I have essentially zero knowledge, and which strikes me as very odd when I encounter it.

The other thing is I earn my living as a civil engineer, so I tend just to focus on that and action/adventure movies, plus an almost accidental abiding interest in human genetics and palaeoanthropology that is now getting way past my level of understanding, so there's a lot of other sort of social/cultural stuff in the West that I am just oblivious to.

Example - I had to look up what a "head shop" is. I am still not sure why they exist, but I think now I more or less understand what they are. I think. Maybe. They're kind of 'counter-culture shops, right? The sorts of places that were selling lots of needless candles and magic crystals and stuff when I left Australia.

A lot of the stuff that Martin, Birger and Eric talk about, I just don't get at all. Not at all. It just goes straight over the top of my head.

By John Massey (not verified) on 02 Aug 2014 #permalink

" .. ask the council to send a graffiti removal crew to the east underpass at my development."
Don't wait for the council Martin, you could die of old age.

When the NF (yes I am that old) daubs hung around the SlabWorld that the innercity bypass ploughed the end of our road into a bit too long, we went out in the middle of the night with all colours of old housepaint scrounged from all over. Two of the flatmates were Proper Artists, with beards and berets and stuff, even the girls (hence the old paints, I never said they were any good), up went the stepladders, they got out the chalks and labelled what goes where, and out with the rollers. Bish bosh job done over a couple of nights. Very colourful and pictorial, bits of Old Art mixed in (I think there was some Delacroix in there).
Did get some sketchy looks from the blokes from the veg shop, parked in their van after being out doing who knows what, but they were full-on islamic beardies with those Afghan pie-hats and pyjamas, probably thought we'd done the neonazi mess as well. But they were all smiles a couple of days later. Despite it being graven images or whatever (including t1ts .. (.)(.) ).

By dustbubble (not verified) on 02 Aug 2014 #permalink

John, head shops sell drug paraphernalia.

Dustbubble, could you please unpack that sentence about ploughing bypasses and slab worlds?

I wonder if Dustbubble is planning to enter the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, although to do that he would have to combine that paragraph into a single sentence.

John, it sounds like you had a somewhat sheltered childhood, in that drug culture hadn't penetrated to your neck of the woods. I don't know if that would be true today; certainly in the US, many rural areas have drug abuse problems as bad as the big cities. Having grown up in Miami during the days of the Cocaine Cowboys, of course I knew what "joints" and "keys" are. (Hint on the latter: transporting one through Singapore is likely to get you a date with the hangman.) It's also possible you had different slang terms in Australia for these things.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 02 Aug 2014 #permalink

Typhoons make me bad tempered. It's the low atmospheric pressure, plus the air quality goes to hell: http://severe.worldweather.wmo.int/

Last time I went to where I was born and where I grew up, they had been totally destroyed. I have never gone there again.

No, Eric, the drug culture totally passed me by. I'm not interesting in anything that distorts reality.

Look what they do to my country: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-03/aboriginal-elders-devastated-at-r…

People in Australia now speak some kind of slurred gibberish. I have major language problems in my own country, but understand Martin's speech perfectly.

By John Massey (not verified) on 02 Aug 2014 #permalink

What had been totally destroyed?

Very pleased that my mid-Atlantic mumblings are comprehensible! I learned just the other day that "pedagogy" and "pedagogical" are so rare in spoken idiomatic English that people recognise them as "that thing Scandinavians always say when they try to speak English".

Of course, in civil engineering we have our own arcane collection of 19th (or possibly earlier) Century English jargon that we still insist on using. It's like a secret language - I imagine there was a time when you couldn't become a civil engineer without first joining the Freemasons and learning all the secret stuff.

By John Massey (not verified) on 03 Aug 2014 #permalink

This, Martin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_West_(Western_Australia)

This region is, or was, notable on a global scale for having unique flora and fauna. Margaret River, in whose two room timber structure I was born, was at the time surrounded by thick temperate rain forest with a sparse scattering of dairy farms, which don't need a big acreage compared to wheat and sheep farming, so most of the whole region was still virgin forest.

Now the whole area has been destroyed to turn it into vineyards churning out 'high end' wine for over-nourished corrupt fat slobs to guzzle.

Bramley, where I first lived, 18 miles out of Margaret River, in amongst the thick tall timber and dense bush, has disappeared. The schoolhouse where my father taught a mixed primary school class of white and Aboriginal children has been turned into a museum (they should have stuffed the Aboriginal children and put them into the museum while they were at it, before they became extinct), but the house, such as it was, was demolished long ago. It was a railway siding, where the dairy farmers delivered their milk to be loaded onto the train to be taken to Perth, and that railway line fell into disuse long ago, as did the one room schoolhouse.

So what was once pristine forest is now just endless, featureless vineyards, as far as you can see in every direction - mono-culture supporting nothing but the alcoholic habits of bloated wine snobs.

It is regarded as un-Australian and an act of overt aggression to even mention this, especially coming from someone who left the country to 'seek his fortune' 'overseas' and who is therefore, by definition, a Bad Australian.

Nuts - I had to strain my ears to even pick up any Swedish accent in your speech. It's there, but barely - you lack the lilt that is regarded as stereotypical of Swedish speakers, e.g. as in everyone's favourite example, the Swedish chef on Sesame Street: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q8o61kqFvA

The Swedish chef always reminds me of Birger, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on.

By John Massey (not verified) on 03 Aug 2014 #permalink

Birger, when I meet you in Umeå in September I expect you to shout BORK BORK BORK!

Bah..."in whose two room timber structure hospital I was born".

By John Massey (not verified) on 03 Aug 2014 #permalink

Decisions decisions - on the one hand, a thunderstorm warning has been issued, and there is lightning flashing at all points of the compass. One has to question the wisdom of going out in it mounted on a large aluminium object.

On the other hand, it's blowing a fairly stiff nor-easter which would blow me straight up the river on my bicycle, which is exactly where I want to go.

By John Massey (not verified) on 03 Aug 2014 #permalink

Birger - here's Razib Khan's take on the 'feminisation' paper - like he says "it isn't wrong on the face of it."


That reminded me of this:


I was quite taken by Helga Vierich's long exposition in the comments here: http://www.unz.com/gnxp/domestication-due-to-the-neural-crest/

It's all too difficult for me - I wish someone would just figure out the answer and tell me. I just want to know the Truth, whatever it is. It's not too much to ask, is it?

By John Massey (not verified) on 03 Aug 2014 #permalink

Yeah "pedagogy" is too close to "pedophile", by far the most common use of that prefix. People may know what it means but it just sounds dirty. Kind of how you can't say "niggardly" any more without shocking anyone.

Actually, "pédagogique" also comes up a lot in French (and as "pedagogical" in English written by French people), so it's not just Scandinavians that use it. But yes, it's completely extinct in English. Use "educational" instead. Plus it's easier to type!

Pedagogical isn't completely extinct in English - it is a little archaic and tends to be used as a written form as it is challenge to pronounce. I am the chair of governors of a school and recently had to give an end of year speech. I was going to use 'pedagogical' but rehearsing it I was worried I'd mispronounce it so I copped out and used 'educational'

By Neil Howlett (not verified) on 03 Aug 2014 #permalink

A word that is definitely under-utilised is "didactic". I'd like to see that used very much more than it is, these days.

By John Feudal-Overlord (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

Regarding similar-sounding words, a guy in USA just got sacked from his job for using the word "homophone" -on his *private* web site!
Next: Homophone marriage?

Martin, I am more a "Duh!" guy than a "Bork" guy.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

"It's not as bad as it looks" LMAO!!!

If my grandfather had been stuffed into an Ikea bag, I would have been absolutely delighted - preferably while he was still alive.

By John Feudal-Overlord (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

Kevin @22: There is a medical specialty, pediatrics, and doctors with that specialty are called pediatricians. Most children see such doctors. But yes, there have been people who have mistaken pediatricians for pedophiles. I hear that this has been an issue in the UK as well as the US.

This is probably fallout from people not learning the Greek and Latin roots of many English words (some of which have been borrowed into other languages). Another symptom is people forgetting (or never learning in the first place) plural forms that derive from Greek and Latin. For example, there is a local Beatles cover band called the Spectras [sic]. AARGH! I've seen them once, and they appear to be my age or older, so they should know better. One spectrum, two spectra. Is that so hard?

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

My colleagues quite happily write "a centra", for which a swift death is of course far too lenient a punishment.

Well, it's understandable for somebody who speaks English as a second language to botch the occasional irregular plural. Or a child who is too young to know better. That's what copy editors are for: fixing small problems of this nature.

But many (not all, this being a university) of the people I work with are native English speakers. They are supposed to know that, e.g., it's either "this phenomenon" or "these phenomena", never "this phenomena". Likewise with data: if you have only one, it's a datum.

And to think that only 50 years ago, the Canadian comedy duo Wayne and Shuster could get a guaranteed laugh with something like this (the bar in question is in ancient Rome):

Bartender: What are you drinking?
Customer: Get me a martinus.
Bartender: You mean martini.
Customer: If I want two, I'll ask for them.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 04 Aug 2014 #permalink

In my specialty (databases) the datum/data distinction has become such an ugly pedantry that I eschew it in business writing, though I know better.

You could always pass that one to some philological colleagues, or make them write the Swedish equivalent of German usw. "und so weiter."

"for which a swift death is of course far too lenient a punishment."
(Bond reference) Send in SPECTRE.

"My little babies just turned 16 and 11."
Soon they are old enough to use bad horror films as comedies. I like how "Jason" only moves with a slow, menacing walk and yet manages to catch up with healthy scared teenagers running for their lives. Making shortcuts through spacetime? Maybe he used to be a librarian.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 05 Aug 2014 #permalink

It was the rats. They ate the tree seeds.

By John Massey (not verified) on 05 Aug 2014 #permalink

From link @ 37 "Vast methane plumes have been discovered boiling up from the seafloor of the Arctic ocean"
In this case the rats are those who fund climate change deniers.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 05 Aug 2014 #permalink