May Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • This writer knows what glass cutters are for but doesn't know what they look like. She's having somebody behead plastic dolls with one.
  • You know suits of armour? Almost all are Early Modern LARPing costumes for festive tournaments. Not Medieval, not used in battle.
  • Not having any teaching gig this semester is straining my finances. But I also miss belonging. Really enjoyed lunch & afternoon snack with colleagues at the Swedish History Museum today as I was there to look at finds.
  • Trying something I should probably have done many years ago: looking at a form letter when writing a job application. This one's from the Office of Career & Professional Development at the University of California, San Francisco, and it's the top Google hit for "academic job application cover letter". I gotta say though, it makes me feel like I'm at a job centre being pushed around by a caseworker.
  • Surprised to find men ~45 taking out contact ads in the local paper. How does someone born in the early 1970s end up unaware or incapable of online dating?
  • I'm 44 and I still have no gravitas. I'm beginning to suspect that I shall never develop any.
  • Eight years of applying for UK uni jobs have taught me to expect a swift dismissal of my applications. The one big exception to this rule still has me scratching my head. Back in 2010, the University of Nottingham flew me over for a live interview and dinner at the Head of Department's home. Even though I didn't get the job (they already had a guy on staff whose field of research largely overlapped with mine at the time) it was a lovely experience. When I asked for advice about improving my application and interview responses they said "They were fine! We have no complaints. Just keep it up." But at the time, I had never yet had a teaching contract and I had published no books yet after my thesis. What on Earth made them consider me? Clerical error?
  • Excellent ATA archivist finds an invoice from 1928 documenting that none of the planned excavations were done at Ulvåsa that year. Now I don't need to wonder why there's no fieldwork report.
  • A common problem among Sweden's many little non-luxury yachting associations is that when one of the older members dies, the estate often just stops paying the membership fee and leaves the boat sitting in the winter parking spot as several tonnes of abandoned goods. It's barely worth salvaging. You can have a really good 80s sailboat with four bunks for $2400.
  • I am at peace with the English language's bizarre placement of the stress in Latin and Greek loan words. But it wakes a murderous rage in me that English hyphenation software allows words with -logy to be hyphenated -ogy.
  • A nightingale has been performing an improvised virtuoso solo in the ash tree next to our house for the past 15 hours.
  • Stratified High Medieval sites like the ones I'm working with are unusually expensive to excavate. Because they're so rich in informative iron objects. And iron is extremely expensive to conservate.
  • I've been using word processing software for over 30 years, and never felt the need to use formatting templates. I see them as an unnecessary half step in the direction of graphic design software.
  • Movie: Mustang. Five orphaned girl cousins in rural Turkey lead a free life until their guardians realise that the older ones are becoming sexually mature and clamp down hard on their movements. Grade: Pass With Distinction.
  • I just realised that the 80s were really really soon after the 60s.
  • Sooo weird, Americans' patriotic attitude to war veterans. It would be better for the world if the American public came to believe that their war dead and disabled veterans are pointless sacrifices, not a focus of patriotic pride.
  • Listened to New Order's "Blue Monday" for the first time in like 20 years. Realised that the guy is singing in dialect, with a wide-mouthed A that sounds a lot like Scouse.
  • Phew, that was a close scrape. I was two months from going broke. Just received a grant for another year.
  • My buddy teaches programming. Got a suspicious piece of code handed in for an assignment by studentA who never did anything otherwise. Buddy finds the original piece that studentA has plagiarised from a previous participant on the course, studentB. And then some more digging shows that studentB had plagiarised the code from studentC a few years prior to them. *facepalm*
  • Another buddy of mine who teaches relates. A student of his once got reprimanded for plagiarising an assignment, then handed in a new one that seemed strangely familiar. It was copied from my buddy's own MSc thesis.

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I usually use LaTeX when I am writing stuff for publication. The journals I typically submit to will have predefined style files, so I don't have to worry about tweaking header styles and the like to fit the house style. I also find that LaTeX does a far better job with mathematics than Microsoft's Equation Editor--TeX was originally designed for mathematical typesetting. The hyphenation algorithm also seems to do a better job than Microsoft's even though the former has not been updated since the 1980s.

The main advantage of using a template is that if you decide to change the style of some feature (e.g., section heads), you change it once in the template, rather than having to edit every instance.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

Yes, I understand that this is convenient should you find yourself as the person responsible for the graphic design.

"May Pieces Of My Mind #3
Posted by Martin R on June 6, 2016 "

It's June already!

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

"You know suits of armour? Almost all are Early Modern LARPing costumes for festive tournaments. Not Medieval, not used in battle."

While at a conference in Geneva, I visited a local museum. There were many, many suits of armour, but not mediaeval. Stuff like this was worn in the 1500s and 1600s.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

Plagiarism: If it's not true, it's well told: Unable to finish, or even start, his composition for a music class, the hapless student desperately copies his supervisor's submission for the same requirement, but backwards. He fails. Surely his tactic wasn't noticed. No, it wasn't, at least not directly. The prof asks "Why did you turn in Beethoven's Fifth?"

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

"I usually use LaTeX when I am writing stuff for publication."

I fail to see how anyone could even seriously consider anything other than LaTeX.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

#3: the "Pieces of My Mind" posts collect Facebook posts of mine from the past few weeks.

#4: Yes, the period from the Reformation to the French Revolution is known as the Early Modern Period, and people did wear those suits of armour at tournaments.

#5: Good story!

So you are saying this Flemish picture of the Battle of Barnet is fictional, in more ways than one. Did I read you correctly?

I have to say I'm not really surprised, but had assumed that a near contemporaneous depiction would at least vaguely approximate the truth, rather than being so wildly a flight of fancy.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

At Barnet in 1471, very few participants wore full plate armour, and very little of the era's businesslike battle armour survives in collections. At the Royal Armouries in the Tower of London and Stockholm Castle, all the armour on display is post-Medieval tournament gear.

There's a 15th Century depiction of Jeanne d'Arc in full plate armour as well. I realise she served as a standard bearer, rather than engaging in actual hand to hand combat with battle hardened male troops (which beggars belief), so now don't know whether to regard that depiction as fanciful or based on something approximating reality. Not that it matters, but I'm curious. But she was shot with an arrow, I think from a long bow, not a cross bow, so I'm inclined to believe that too was a fanciful depiction

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

I'm planning to write a Treatise on the Tyranny of Tai Chi. You have to practise it literally every day for years. The received wisdom that it takes 10 years to learn it properly is apocryphal - a couple of years of diligent practice, yes, but not 10.

My current female teacher is insistent that I should become good enough to go for the examination and become an instructor. Me teaching Tai Chi to a group of Chinese people? No, that's never going to happen.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

It's not cultural appropriation if you're sleeping with a member of the originator group. (-;

Yes, plate armour did exist, but not during the middle ages, and certainly not during the dark ages. So (apart from being fictional), the knights of the round table in plate armour is a serious (1000-year) anachronism).

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

Ha :)

Chinese don't have a problem with cultural appropriation. That's how they have swallowed up invading barbarians for millennia - by turning them culturally into Chinese. It's more an issue of authenticity. People are always stunned when I win money from them at mahjong - they can't believe they were beaten at their own game by a barbarian, despite the fact that I am self-evidently good at it. They have no problem playing it with me, but they are just always gob-smacked when they lose.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

There is a saying about a certain Western card game (the name of which is likely to trip the spam filter--it's the one that involves five-card hands) that may have some application to mahjong as well. At every table there is a sucker. If you can't figure out who it is, you're the sucker.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 06 Jun 2016 #permalink

The salt-free water in the northern bothnic sea has few scavengers that eat wood, so a lot of old wrecks remain at the river inlets.
The Romans had some plate armor, at lest towards the end (maybe just officers), I believe medieval knights had to make do with chain mail except at the very end.
Samurai typically upgraded their armor thorough their careers, as they could afford to add better stuff. But their main concern was high-velocity arrows from composite bows.
I am told their choice of katanas instead of easy-to-use heavy swords was to exclude quickly trained peasants from the club of professional warriors.
Rather like the Brit 19-century law preventing automobiles that might compete with carriage owners. The choice of technologies is not always straightforward.

By Birgerjohansson (not verified) on 07 Jun 2016 #permalink

It would be better if America's patriotic attitude to their veterans translated into actually looking after the ones so damaged by service that they end up permanently disabled or homeless. although to be fair the Americans are not the only ones who let their veterans down, I know that they represent a far higher proportion of the hmeless in the UK than of the general population.

Must-have crops for China and India:

Scientists identify protein which boosts rice yield by fifty percent by increased control of pH levels.

By Birgerjohansson (not verified) on 08 Jun 2016 #permalink

I was reading an 1863 issue of Godey's Ladies' Book and saw an ad for upper body armor. This was for your man fighting in the Civil War, possibly the first war of industrial attrition what with Gatling guns, surveillance balloons, ironclad battleships and other such elements of emerging modernity

It seems that at least one GPS company's map data has the addressing on my street backwards. This evening a woman showed up at my door, looking for the house at the other end of the street. This isn't the first time this has happened; I've had a couple of pizza delivery guys show up with an order placed by somebody at that other house. My house number is prominently displayed on both sides of my mailbox, which is a rural-style mailbox next to the sidewalk. You would think that drivers would notice that the number does not match the number of the house they are looking for, even if the GPS claims they have arrived at the destination. At least some of the time, you would be wrong.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 08 Jun 2016 #permalink

For a while I wore elbow and knee armour as well as the usual helmet while riding my bike, due to a series of fairly spectacular crashes, one of which left me with a leg wound where I ripped a large area of skin off, which became infected, so I was stumping around on a swollen red balloon for a couple of weeks until two doses of antibiotics from the doc killed the infection. Wounds become infected amazingly easily in this climate and environment. I applied some antiseptic cream and dressings to the wound as soon as it happened, to no avail.

But in this climate and environment, the armour soon became burdensome and unpleasant/uncomfortable to wear, so now I have just resolved to ride more slowly and try to crash less often. The fun of speed is not worth the pain of crashing. And I traded my road racing bike for a hybrid, which helped.

#20- Avoiding crashes has helped me to avoid decomposing too quickly while still alive.

#18 - Interesting. Surprisingly, China is very anti-GMO crops - not necessarily what a lot of people might expect. I don't know the politics behind it, but China is certainly not backward when it comes to experimenting with genetically engineering human embryos.

Has Birger seen Meryl Streep made up to look like Donald Trump? Hilarious. I must try to find the link my daughter sent me.

By John Massey (not verified) on 09 Jun 2016 #permalink