September Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Why you should never get a tattoo: it’s a fashion item that can never be upgraded. Imagine being forced to wear 1979 glasses all of your life from age 18 on.
  • So boring to proofread hyphenation.
  • Artists referenced in the sleeve notes to Goat’s first album: 1. Dan Andersson, 2. Boubacar Traoré.
  • Jrette has excellent innate inscrutability skills. She tells me she’s taken to ignoring boys who demand her attention or some of her Saturday candy. Oh boys and men of the 2020s and 30s, you will be sooo ignored.
  • Since 1991, we’ve sent 84 people into my copy of Dungeonquest. Only 31% have survived. This is actually twice what the basic rules tell you to expect.
  • It’s a bit of a hassle to travel to my teaching gigs, but still I enjoy it hugely. I think it’s largely because it makes me feel that I matter to people. Also it’s fun and easy.
  • Homeless drunks seem to have great conversation. I overheard a couple on the subway who were complaining laughingly about a friend’s personal hygiene. Among other details, they described the tick that this man had removed from his bell end and left on a piece of paper next to the toilet.
  • Woah. Almost none of the students I teach right now had been born when I started making my living as an archaeologist.
  • Saw an ad for cheap used bikes on campus and was enthusiastic. Then realised that the campus I need a bike at was >700 km distant. Kind of far to cycle.
  • A lot of the proofreading errors I have to point out while guiding various publications into print have to do with the spacing of adjusted text. Lines will get too airy if you don’t hyphenate aggressively enough. This looks to me like something that should be easily automated. Don’t current graphic design programs have the ability to spot too-airy lines automatically and flag them for correction?
  • An idea for a parable about lost youth: a middle-aged hero wandering through subterranean catacombs, sword and torch in hand — and there’s nobody there. The goblins have moved on. The gold has long been stolen. The traps no longer work for neglect. Just dark dusty empty rooms and twisty little passages, all alike.
  • Swedish election: I’m happy that the reds & greens will be in charge, but confused by the Racists taking so many votes from the Conservatives of all parties. The Red-greens win not because they have gained any votes, but because the Tories have lost a big chunk to the Racists and are decent enough to refuse to collaborate with them. But why is the main change in the power landscape a movement of voters from the anti-fascist Conservatives to the Racists? Sten Thaning suggests that those voters were simply disappointed to find after the last election that the Tories aren’t racist.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

77 thoughts on “September Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. Agriculture’s northward expansion actually halted in Germany for all of the 5th millennium before crossing into Denmark. We know that there was cultural contact, for instance though the spread of Central European Schuhleistenkeil polished axes across southern Scandinavia. Current thinking has it that the Ertebølle culture’s semi-sedentary fishing-gathering economy made for such a high quality of life that agriculture didn’t seem worthwhile.

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  2. No, I’ve been sadly remiss in her musical education because I always use headphones.

    Dunno about “I Am The Walrus”. It was recorded in September 1967. The animated movie premièred in July of the following year.

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  3. I have found some cultural references to “I Am The Walrus” being used in a film (thriller?) , bad guy strolling up, saying ‘I am the “Walrus” (BLAM!).
    Election; it may be that most of SD;s voters simply feel marginalised and abandoned by mainstream estasblishment parties* and vote SD as a protest (those on the left would vote V for the same purpose). *That many SD voters live in small towns with negative demographic growth and high unemployment seems to support this idea.

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  4. Current thinking has it that the Ertebølle culture’s semi-sedentary fishing-gathering economy made for such a high quality of live that agriculture didn’t seem worthwhile.

    That is not a unique occurrence either. The Yayoy of Japan, who are thought to be the ancestors of the modern Ainu, had such an economy, and I have heard the claim that the Yayoy are the only culture to have developed pottery without developing agriculture. They were eventually displaced by the Jomon, farmers crossing over from the Korean peninsula who are presumed to be the ancestors of the modern Japanese. The linguists eventually concluded, after many decades of debate, that Japanese and Korean belong in the same language family–at one time there was a school of thought that Korean was either Turkic or Uralic (the latter being the same language family as Finnish and Hungarian).

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  5. Nowhere did I say blanket dismissal.

    Pre-Neolithic maternal haplogroup subgroups are now rare everywhere, except among the Sami, where they occur at 50%, and at much lower frequency among Basques and Berbers. Pre-Neolithic paternal haogroup subgroups exist nowhere. Seems like pretty effective marginisation.

    Nowhere did I mention iron or copper. Whatever you think I said, I didn’t say it.

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  6. I was speaking generally when I said “Tech travels unfettered by genes”, so I got the impression that you were arguing against this on the general level too. Good to know that we’re mostly in agreement.

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  7. No, cultural diffusion must have happened many times over.

    The interesting thing about the third wave of migration into northern Europe was that it was pre-Bronze Age, or maybe right at the start of the Bronze Age. They might have had a few bronze weapons, but that would be about it. So no – Bronze casting or iron working definitely did not arrive with this third wave.

    They had carts pulled by oxen, though.

    And they did not have domesticated horses, something often erroneously claimed as the ‘Indo-European’ advantage. Didn’t have ’em.

    The language thing is tricky – I can understand why linguists distance themselves from genetics. I don’t think they should, but I understand why they do.

    Ethnicity means…what, exactly? Latterly it tends to be used as a euphemism for race, but then ‘race’ is starting to look pretty ragged around the edges too. There are no homogeneous ‘races’.

    Which makes the US Census look even more quaint and vaguely offensive than it already is.

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  8. Sorry for the time lag – I was at work before. After 2.5 years working for the same company on contract, they have just asked me to join the permanent staff.

    I’m going to have to think about this – there are advantages and disadvantages; lack of freedom being the obvious disadvantage. Currently I can tell the big boss to go and get fucked, and do so on a fairly regular basis. That is going to become a bit more difficult. Not my immediate boss, he’s a real sweetheart, but his boss.

    Maybe I should demand that it be written into my terms of employment: “Permitted to tell the big boss he is a slime ball and to go and get fucked whenever he feels like it.” So far I have tried to resign 3 times and they won’t let me (my immediate boss is really big ugly guy, and he just stands in the way and says “”No, I cannot permit you to leave, I need you”, so who knows, it might work.

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  9. Eric Lund #56: I think you got the Jomon and the Yayoi mixed up. The Ainu are (mostly) decended from the Jomon. The Yayoi arrived later, during Iron Age. By that time the Jomon were already part-time farmers (e.g. dry rice), but the Yayoi knew the more productive wet rice method (paddies). Modern Japanese are a mix of Jomon and Yayoi.

    As a useless bit of trivia, the origin of the name Mt Fuji is obscure. One suggested source is the Ainu word for fire.

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  10. Skeptic aler! Here is a TV ad by a particular political group, not condescending at all:

    Excerpt:” In 2008, I fell in love. His online profile made him seem so perfect: smart, handsome, charming, articulate, all the right values. I trusted him. But by 2012, our relationship was in trouble, but I stuck with it, because he promised he’d be better. He’s great at promises.”
    -So, women choose to vote on people the way they pick dates, because that is how their fluffy pink brains work? Any neurologist here who wants to comment on that?

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  11. Birger @64: I’m not a neurologist, but I see what they are doing here. They are making the analogy to an abusive relationship. Which, if my guess as to which party made the ad is correct (I haven’t watched), is pure projection: that party does nothing but abuse the trust of the majority of its voters. (As well as almost everybody in states where this party sometimes wins electoral majorities.) It’s a cynical ploy: note that the party in question is well-served if people who might agree with that spokeswoman stay home.

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  12. More abstracts for anyone who is feeling deglected on that front. Personally, I am feeling somewhat over-abstracted at the moment: http://dienekes.blogspot.hk/2014/09/eshe-2014-abstracts.html

    On a personal front, I have a badly infected lower leg from a cycling accident a week ago – I got a little too close to a lump of jagged concrete on a tight turn while travelling a little too fast, which ripped hell out of my lower leg at the front. I cleaned and disinfected it in situ, and then forget about it. Stuck some of those big Band-Aids on it Mistake – a week later, my leg is swollen and yellow,and my foot has turned black (suprisingly painless).

    The good news is that a cute young female Chinese doctor has made it her mission in life to get me uninfected again. I threw the pain killers she gave me in the rubbish bin. I need antibiotics, I need to clean,disinfect and dress the wound twice very day. The one thing I don’t need is pain killers.

    Of course, none of this is preventing me from cycling or weight training. That would be. like, sensible behaviour. Life is not meant to be sensible, it is meant to be fun. Besides, the increased blood circulation is likely to clear out the crap faster.

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  13. For some reason, some political discourse in USA is inspired by Ayn Rand. Skeptics interested in destruct-testing her beliefs can get a brief summary below, see link:

    John Oliver presents: The enduring influence of Ayn Rand, ‘selfish *sshole’
    On HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver presented an informational segment on the enduring influence of libertarian writer Ayn Rand on politicians and captains of industry, asking, ‘Ayn Rand: How is she still a thing?”

    Rand is noted for her two novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Foutainhead, “Stories about rapey heroes complaining about how no one appreciates their true genius.”

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  14. The definitive quote about Ayn Rand is from John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves Orcs.

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  15. Of course, the likelihood that both the Basque language (super-careful specifying here) and Etruscans (more or less lockstock’nbarrel, the Top People that is, just ignore those indigenous italoceltic peasants over there) were early/middle bronze age intrusions from TransCaucasia>Anatolia>The East Med in general, on a continent already transformed (by indo european speakers and their attendant R-(chaps) and is it H? or T? (gels) haplogroups, who’d as mentioned, rolled over and mopped up the (G and I and whatever) earlier neolithic and native groups) is not very popular for some reason.
    Looks good to me. Nothing indigenous or aboriginal about either of these puzzling isolates. Late to the party, if anything.

    Hm. Too many brackets possibly?

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