April Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Slussen, "the Lock", an enormous 1930s concrete structure built to organise an 8-way road crossing in central Stockholm, is headed for replacement and the really big demolition bout is drawing near. Exciting! And an opportunity for looooads of really interesting urban contract archaeology!
  • In Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, the hero goes nuts and an hermit prays for his soul. In the Old Swedish translation, the hermit instead prays that Yvain will never bother him again.
  • Haha, fucking Swedes. Dude publishes an interesting paper in good English, except he consistently puts "even" when he means "also". And so he comes across as perpetually surprised by really banal things. It's a classic case of false-friend translation, because Sw. även means "also".
  • Let's get rid of the word "multivocality". There are always less pretentious ways to talk about that. Shit means different things to different people and at different times. Old hat, get over it.
  • Movie: Perfect Day. Aid organisation workers have trouble getting a dead guy out of a well during the last days of the war in Yugoslavia. Lots of good dialogue and stark landscapes. Grade: Pass With Distinction.
  • Is a shamrock the opposite of true metal?
  • Plant macrofossil studies is carpologie in French.
  • I'd forgotten what a great combo mustard, tarragon and onion is. Mmm!
  • Thought my blog traffic's glory days were over. Then Dennis Fabricius Holm lets me post pics of the 10th century crucifix he found, and BANG, the first quarter of 2016 is one of the three best the blog has ever seen!
  • Former right-wing populist Toronto mayor Rob Ford died at age 46 -- of cancer in his fatty tissue. You can't make this shit up.
  • When reading about religious rituals, like in Sir Richard Burton right now, I get really really impatient with the pointlessness of it all. Go paint the barn or something, make yourself useful.
  • I'm completely confused by the trans bathroom thing. Who cares what gender identity and clothing other people in public restrooms have?!
  • The Swedish Research Council's newsletter has a feature on how to get researchers to become more entrepreneurial. Oddly it doesn't cover the method that worked on me. "Never give them a steady academic job or any grant larger than €16 000".
  • Old English chicks like getting hrothgared.
  • Someone on Twitter calls themselves Hrothyogg. Out from under ~30 years of oblivion sediment comes a tiny itch of remembrance. From long before I was familiar with Beowulf. And sure enough, it's the name of a 1987 ogre captain miniature for Warhammer.
  • Compared Sir Richard's 1853 map of Al-Madinah with a current satellite photo. Ouch ouch ouch. They've bulldozed and replaced everything except one extramural cemetery. No trace of the original town plan. I wonder if urban archaeology is even known to Saudi Arabia.
  • I've got chocolate with nuts. I've got Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I've got cantucchini alle mandorle. I've got fancy cocoa powder. But I haven't got a sense of smell because of this cold. So I can't enjoy any of the goodies I've got.
  • If the people who get tenure in my discipline had solid publication records in a style of archaeology that I dislike, say, a highly theoretical post-modern one, it would just be annoying. But in fact a lot of them have no publication record to speak of in any style of archaeology and just happen to be buddies with someone. That is fucking infuriating.
  • Free paper-writing tip. When you prepare images, diagrams and plans for journal papers, remember that the journal is not the size of your computer screen. And your image will not be printed across the entire page width of the journal. All white space you leave in your image is bought at the expense of whatever is really interesting in the image.
  • Haha, awesome! In natural science, "relativist" means "physicist studying things relevant to Einstein's theories of relativity"!
  • I've got a new explanatory model for dark matter. It's not weakly interacting massive particles. It's weekly interacting particles. On Tuesdays, for instance.
  • Been asking around Scandyland about temp teaching. Turns out prehistoric archaeology, along with many other disciplines, is in a funding slump. One place has closed its undergrad programme (temporarily?), another its MA programme.
  • Apart from the vitally important tasks of teaching immigrant kids Swedish and English, a teacher friend tells me she has to put a lot of ongoing effort into explaining that it is not a socially accepted custom in Sweden to hit classmates on the head because they have had their hair cut.
  • Baltic = Scrotal mite
  • Awe-inspiring fashion statement from a distinguished Scottish colleague: washed-out grey t-shirt and loose-fitting unbuttoned plaid tweed vest.
  • The incidence of misattributed paternity is only high among people who order paternity tests. Among others it's 1%.
  • Dear journalists: did you know that if you call anything archaeological "mysterious", you immediately lose your job?

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It’s a classic case of false-friend translation, because Sw. även means “also”.

Sometimes. But sometimes it does mean "even", as in "även om jag hade varit där, kunde jag inte ha sett honom" ("even if I had been there, I couldn't have seen him").

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

"I’m completely confused by the trans bathroom thing. Who cares what gender identity and clothing other people in public restrooms have?!"

I agree, but it is probably less of a problem in Sweden where mixed public toilets are common. However, you are really showing how hung up you are (compared to the German- and Dutch-speaking countries) by not having mixed-gender public saunas (with nudity required).

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

"I’ve got Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups."

A truly wonderful invention. I recommend fried chicken with honey: a similar taste, this combination of salty and sweet. (Decades ago, McDonald's used to offer honey as one of the sauces for Chicken McNuggets. Sic transit gloria mundi.)

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

"I’ve got a new explanatory model for dark matter. It’s not weakly interacting massive particles. It’s weekly interacting particles. On Tuesdays, for instance."

I've actually written several papers on dark matter, but I don't get this one. :-(

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

OK, got it. As Spock would say to Chekov: "Very silly, Ensign". I'm all for puns. What threw me was leaving out "massive" in the second instance.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

But I haven’t got a sense of smell because of this cold.

When I had reliable access to decent Chinese food (which is not currently the case), I found hot and sour soup (suan la tang) effective for temporary relief of nasal congestion. So if your wife knows how to make it, or you have a decent take-away Chinese restaurant nearby, you can give it a try.

Alas, while I can buy some Japanese soups (particularly miso) in powdered or canned form, Chinese soups are not available in local stores (Asian or American).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

I’m completely confused by the trans bathroom thing.

If you are referring to the law they passed in North Carolina, there is a whole lot of other objectionable stuff in there. County and municipal governments are not allowed to enact anti-discrimination laws separately from the state. Nor are they allowed to set a higher minimum wage than the state or federal government. The law also makes the state's anti-discrimination statute effectively unenforceable, because it states explicitly that individuals have no cause for action under the law. The transgender bit was essentially a smokescreen designed to draw in religious types who can't deal with the concept of anybody not being a cis-gendered heterosexual (of which there are many in the US, especially outside of big cities and university towns).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

Philip@5: I realize that humor in a second language can be hard to pull off, but since English is my native language, this one was obvious to me. It's a credit to Martin's English skills that he could pull off a pun, even an incredibly lame one, in English.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 13 Apr 2016 #permalink

Woah man, talk about damning with faint praise! "He could pull off a pun"! Now I'm just going to make lame jokes in Swedish.

And [Cruz] is supposed to be the non-insane Republican.

I'm afraid your definition of insanity is much too narrow, Birger. Cruz is a True Believer cut from the same cloth as Al Qaeda or IS. If you are familiar with Heinlein's "Future History" stories, you will find a close parallel between Cruz and Nehemiah Scudder.

I can't say for sure that there are no sane Republicans at all, but it has been years since there has been a confirmed sighting in the wild.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 14 Apr 2016 #permalink

"Philip@5: I realize that humor in a second language can be hard to pull off, but since English is my native language, this one was obvious to me. It’s a credit to Martin’s English skills that he could pull off a pun, even an incredibly lame one, in English."

English is also my (only) native language, and I have a reputation as a punster. My record in one day was more than 100. But somehow I missed this one.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 14 Apr 2016 #permalink

The incidence of misattributed paternity is only high among people who order paternity tests. Among others it’s 1%.

Fantastic!