August Pieces Of My Mind #2

Registering the bones from this summer's fieldwork at Landsjö.

Registering the bones from this summer’s fieldwork at Landsjö.

  • Getting rid of excess stuff. Azerbaijani dude with a huge beautiful beard showed up on his wife’s orders and collected both bike baby seats, the rolling baby stool, the dinner table lamp and the microwave oven. *happy*
  • My wife’s workout app is giving her orders. It sounds like a very, very strange satnav.
  • User interface fail: our new microwave oven has not only start/stop buttons, but also on/off buttons that control whether the start/stop buttons are responsive or not.
  • Oh great, LinkedIn. You tried to find a job for me and emailed me the results. Ten jobs in fact. All of which had in common that they are in my home town and have nothing whatsoever to do with what I’m skilled at.
  • It always saddens me to see a librarian with shelf-inflicted wounds.
  • I idly comment in an Facebook thread on the issue of how old the cult of the Aesir is likely to be, reporting what I’ve understood of my reading of current academic literature on the history of religion. Dude tells me I’ve lost the argument because I’m just arguing from authority.
  • Is there a quick rule of thumb to tell a stylist from a stylite?
  • The Swedish Geological Survey has quietly doubled the chronological resolution of their shoreline maps! You can get them for every 500 years now instead of every 1000!
  • Cherry Twister sound exactly like Teenage Fanclub.
  • An anonymous German university wants my Bronze Age book. That’s nice and I would be happy to donate a copy. But instead of writing me, they’ve put in an order with a bookseller, who’s written me. Annoyingly inefficient.
  • When I get turned down for teaching jobs, I console myself with the thought that the scholars who influence their fields strongly, and get studied by historians of science afterwards, aren’t the ones who teach full time for years and years. As an archaeology teacher, you mainly get to influence the thinking of future archivists and bus drivers. So if you want me to STFU, just hire me and keep me busy.
  • Should I put in the fieldwork report that while registering the bone bags I was semi-nude, outdoors and listening to extremely druggy music?
  • Would you like me to Roger your Bacon?
  • The Chinese just outweirded me again. They’ve got something called “the Hundred Surnames”, which are exceptionally common. Among these are several true homophones, I just learned. So there’s the Zhang family and the Zhang family: same pinyin transcription, same tone, different characters.
  • Feta cheese in a vacuum pack keeps way way past its use-by date. Nom nom nom.
  • Looking inland from Kalundborg’s West Castle, you see a big fat Bronze Age barrow. This, the locals explained, was probably hard to avoid given how common these barrows are in the area.
  • Mulberries are amazingly good. And amazingly messy.
  • I often get the voice parsing input started by mistake on my phone. Now when I want to try it out I can’t turn it on.
  • Dear colleague. I am truly grateful to you for giving your paper in English. I sadly don’t know your native language. But frankly you are boring us all to tears by reading a manuscript out instead of improvising.
  • I learned on this trip that you can easily see across the Great Belt and Öresund. Medieval Denmark was pretty integrated.
  • Colleague demonstrates his grasp of Schwiizerdütsch with a series of vaguely Danish-sounding gurgles. Claims they mean “Have you already had your Ovomaltine cocoa this morning?”.
  • “Redemption” is such a strange word and concept. In US English you can barely read a movie review without coming across it. Yet in Swedish we hardly ever use its equivalents outside a religious context. And since few Swedes are religious, we rarely use the concept at all. I feel no need for or possibility of redemption.
  • Apollo is “Apollon” in Swedish, which means “monkey’s bell end”.
  • Eight young women in head scarves and Pakistani clothes are playing soccer in the field next to our house.
  • Incredible contrast between the 17th century’s oil paintings and Scandy sculpture. Like two completely separate traditions, the latter grotesque and abstract, divorced from the Classical heritage.
  • Hey, I’d vote for Jeremy Corbyn!
  • Been handy today: bought a doormat, long screws (no) with plugs, an electric plug and a window holder ajarer; used them to mat a door, fix a Pilaster book shelf to a newly painted wall, reenable my reading lamp after my dad installed earthed sockets, and hold a window ajar.
  • Updating my freshman presentations. Since last year, the oldest known stone tools have moved from 2.6 to 3.4 mya, and from Homo habilis to some Australopithecine. The bulk date of the great clearance-cairn areas of Småland has moved from the Early Iron Age to the High Middle Ages.
  • Reading this paper by a Scandy scholar whose English is shaky. They describe the defenders of a besieged castle using “guns, piles and stones”. Ow, me bum…
  • Hawkwind’s most beloved song, “Master of the Universe”, has huge information redundancy. It’s just one riff played in unison by bass and rhythm guitar all the way through, plus aimless quiet noodling on the lead guitar and swishy noises from the keyboards.
  • Movie: Dheepan. War-traumatised Tamil man-woman-child form a fake family to enter France, settle in ghetto shaken by drug gang fighting. Grade: pass with distinction.
  • Oh sure, LinkedIn. I’m definitely the right man to head a pharma research team working on immuno oncology. Thanks for telling me about the job!
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126 thoughts on “August Pieces Of My Mind #2

  1. But is it a small subset? Everything I have read about the UK data suggests it is a general practice. For the sake of the football playing girls, one hopes not, withal. It seems to have become very politicised there, with government being accused of seeking to interfere with traditional cultural practices and lots of to-ing and fro-ing about associated risks.

    Yes, I had momentarily forgotten that historically eugenics was practiced in Sweden for a period of time.

    I discovered to my utter disgust that disabled girls in Australia are still being sterilized, often without even parental consent, but that is another subject, and my sister says it’s complicated and that I should not jump to swift and sweeping judgements. One of the reasons used to justify it is that they are very likely (read ‘a virtual certainty’) to be sexually abused when ‘in care’, and it prevents pregnancy. I’m likely to be swiftly and sweepingly judgemental about that.

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  2. The f*cking eugenics movement and their impact in Sweden is a disgrace. We even got an “institute of racial hygiene” before Nazi Germany did.
    — — — — —
    I wonder if cousin marriage is intended to keep agricultural land inside the extended family. It would work for a few generations, after that youi had better hope some of the children were conceived “outside wedlock” by unrelated lovers.
    — — — — —
    An A for effort: Latino brujas have taken offence over Donald Trump’s hateful description of Mexicans, and have gathered to curse him.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2015/09/13/witches-gather-to-cast-spells-on-donald-trump/
    Since his success is the result of sacrificing a bunch of orphans to Bel-Shamaroth I fear he is parctically invulnerable to sorcery, except possibly a balrog attack.

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  3. Yes, I think cousin marriage is intended to be a way to keep whatever accumulated wealth there is within the family, and it is also a convenient way to keep the girls locked up and under control.

    I have been researching – it turns out Paco de Lucia’s father was of Gypsy ancestry, but his mother was not. At least they saw the wisdom of exogamy, and produced a prodigy – he toured America for a year when he was 12.

    We can let Paco’s ghost deal with the likes of Trump.

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  4. A way to spread the genes geographically, thus avoiding the perils faced by some pakistanis. http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=2853 Also, it explains why Stewie Griffin looks the way he does.
    — — — — —
    Britain (Daily Mah): Bad weather ends tiresome obligation to act happy.
    Man who just got elected ‘definitely unelectable’
    David Cameron visit better than a British passport, says refugee

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  5. Also, most countries in Europe are not predominately Muslim, so for those whose faith is important—and it is for most, at least to some extent—this is an obvious barrier to fitting in, not comparable to Catholic Poles and Irish and Germans in the US.

    But it’s not just Catholic Europeans in the US–similar opinions once prevailed regarding Jews, and Buddhists/Taoists/etc. from Asia. There was a period when people from Asia (especially China) were prohibited by law from immigrating to the US. No other ethnic group has had a similar restriction. In those days, only people from northern and western Europe (Finns were explicitly excluded from this group) were allowed to become naturalized US citizens.

    There may be a problem in some European countries which do not allow their immigrants to assimilate. Germany, for instance, has a problem with non-citizen Turkish guest workers (some of whom are third generation residents of Germany). But it doesn’t need to be a problem.

    Inbreeding will always be a problem for isolated populations. In the US, people from Appalachia are often stereotyped as stupid, in part because the mountainous terrain has historically made it difficult to travel and therefore meet people to whom one can out-marry. First-cousin marriage is allowed in some US states and prohibited in others.

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  6. It’s impressive, or should be, that Australian Aborigines understood the perils of inbreeding within fairly small extended family groups and had systems to deal with it. It’s more than the Habsburg royalty of Spain understood.

    But Aboriginal people had other problems that they didn’t comprehend that were likely doing them harm, like old husband marriages to young girls. No one knew until very recently that this can greatly increase the frequency of deleterious genetic mutations, which can impact on e.g. cognitive ability.

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  7. It’s impressive, or should be, that Australian Aborigines understood the perils of inbreeding within fairly small extended family groups and had systems to deal with it. It’s more than the Habsburg royalty of Spain understood.

    I can’t be sure, but my guess is the Aborigines learned it the hard way, as the Habsburgs did later on. The bad effects of brother-sister and parent-child incest are likely to show up right away. It typically takes a few generations for issues with repeated first-cousin or uncle-niece marriages to show up, as with the Habsburgs and with the fictional Buendía family from One Hundred Years of Solitude. A culture with a strong oral tradition, like the Aborigines, is likely to remember this lesson. It seems to be more of a problem for speakers of Indo-European languages, including English, Spanish, and Urdu. That’s why the Catholic Church had to specifically prohibit cousin marriage (they had the written tradition to recognize the issue).

    Old man-young woman marriage seems to have been a problem in every society I have heard of. Alpha males tend to get the females, and in human societies, especially after the development of agriculture, alpha males are often in a position to enforce this. It’s only been in the last century or so that Western society has developed an attitude of squick toward May-December romances. Wife husbandry is a common fictional trope for a reason.

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  8. “here was a period when people from Asia (especially China) were prohibited by law from immigrating to the US. No other ethnic group has had a similar restriction. In those days, only people from northern and western Europe (Finns were explicitly excluded from this group) were allowed to become naturalized US citizens.”

    True, but this was not based on any negative experience, but rather on fear and misunderstanding.

    “Jews, and Buddhists/Taoists”

    All religions which don’t mind if others are non-believers, and might actually prefer them to be. Quite different from Christianity and Islam.

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  9. “The reason that Swedish farmers moved onto their land in the 19th century was the Laga skifte land amalgamation reform. Its goal was increased agricultural yield.”

    Yes, reading up, it seems that this was the reason. I remember seeing a Swedish docudrama about Rutger Macklean and seem to remember that at least a subsidiary goal was to stop everyone in the village from getting sick if there was a contagious disease in one family. But I’m getting old and maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.

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  10. this was not based on any negative experience, but rather on fear and misunderstanding

    And this differs from the attitudes taken by right-wing anti-immigrant parties towards present day immigrants how?

    In the US it isn’t just Muslims. It’s also Mexicans (and to a lesser extent people from the rest of Latin America), who I will remind you are at least nominally Catholic. If anything, the Mexicans get it worse due to the long border with the US.

    As for Muslims, yes, Wahhabi types are dangerous. But not all Muslims are Wahhabi. There are plenty of self-described Christian sects I regard as more dangerous than more mainstream forms of Islam. The city of Boston was founded by a self-described Christian group, and they have been an important influence on US history ever since.

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  11. “And this differs from the attitudes taken by right-wing anti-immigrant parties towards present day immigrants how?”

    When laws were passed restricting Chinese immigration to the USA, there was not a large population of Chinese in the USA. In many European countries, a) there are large populations of Muslim immigrants and b) there are problems related to the “clash of cultures”.

    So, there is a difference.

    Whose fault such problems are is a different question.

    But your question is loaded: “right-wing anti-immigrant parties”. With the current debate about the huge influx of new immigrants, one hears this false dichotomy more and more: either one is a violent right-wing racist who wants to kill immigrants, or one thinks the solution to all problems is completely open borders. No middle ground. Sorry, false dichotomy.

    Unrestricted immigration also poses dangers to the left, not just (obviously) to the right. Things like Martin mentioned such as a realistic view of teenage sexuality. This exists in no Muslim dominated country. Integration, assimilation? Doesn’t work if the community is too large. Many immigrants don’t even speak the local language, even after decades.

    To some extent, one can ignore this, unless “Sharia sheriffs” use violence to try to force people to conform to their views (this has actually happened in some European cities). This is obviously illegal and usually the police take care of it, but apparently there are “no-go areas” in some European cities where non-immigrants cannot count on their legal rights being upheld. Influence on the laws of the land is minimal, in part because many immigrants choose not to become citizens of their adopted country, especially if (as is often the case) they have to give up their other citizenship. Left-wing ideas like allowing more than one citizenship and/or allowing non citizens to vote could, of course, change this.

    As I see it, such false dichotomies are part of the problem. Most people don’t want a right-wing government, and in recent history in Western Europe this has been a bigger danger than a left-wing government, so many people say nothing rather than say something which could be construed as possible being right-wing. This leaves those who think, literally, that abolishing all border controls and allowing free movement for everyone (accompanied by enough welfare to survive) is the only possible solution.

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  12. On the contrary, Phillip, there was a large enough Chinese population in the western US by the 1870s that several pogroms were committed against Chinese communities. This hasn’t happened yet with Muslim communities in Europe, but I don’t consider it farfetched.

    As for the claim about “no-go areas”: Sources, please. I am aware of claims of such, made by news sources of dubious reliability. Snopes.com says these claims are false. The claim about immigrants not speaking the language depends on your standards for being able to speak the language: it is difficult for adults to learn new languages, especially languages with distant or nonexistent relationships to their native language. But most people who are immersed in a language will acquire some rudimentary skill in that language. I encounter immigrants routinely, and while the ones who came over after the age of 12 have an obvious foreign accent, they can generally speak the language.

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  13. #109 The Aboriginal rules are strict and complex. Example – it is forbidden for a man to look at his mother-in-law. True – he is not even permitted to look at her, let alone converse.

    Punishment for breaking such a rule could be severe, like being speared in the thigh. If that doesn’t sound too severe, think about what it means to a nomadic hunter, to be unable to walk.

    It takes a bit of head-scratching to figure out the logic. But if a man fathered a child with his mother-in-law, relatedness would quickly become complex and difficult to follow, with the inherent risk of unwitting inbreeding.

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  14. “On the contrary, Phillip, there was a large enough Chinese population in the western US by the 1870s that several pogroms were committed against Chinese communities.”

    How large as a percentage of the total population? “Large enough for a pogrom” is arbitrary; for some, 1 person is enough.

    ” This hasn’t happened yet with Muslim communities in Europe, but I don’t consider it farfetched.”

    Pogroms are far-fetched. Incidents of racially motivated violence? Happens, and has happened, almost everywhere, for various reasons. (Just to be clear: violence is never an appropriate reaction, except in cases of very literal self-defense.) In the news recently have been cops in the USA.

    There is some fear of the reverse: violence of immigrants against “natives”. The self-appointed “Sharia Sheriffs” are an example of this. Not uncommon is violence between different groups of immigrants, or against those of one’s own group who have become too integrated. “Honour killings” and so on.

    As for the claim about “no-go areas”: Sources, please.

    How about the Swedish police? Reliable enough?

    https://polisen.se/Global/www%20och%20Intrapolis/Rapporter-utredningar/01%20Polisen%20nationellt/Ovriga%20rapporter-utredningar/Kriminella%20natverk%20med%20stor%20paverkan%20i%20lokalsamhallet%20Sekretesspr%2014.pdf

    Politically correct, of course, the connection to immigration is down-played, but there are maps so one can see exactly which regions are being discussed. I’ve been to some of those regions.

    “The claim about immigrants not speaking the language depends on your standards for being able to speak the language”

    Speak well enough to interact with the natives in day-to-day life.

    “it is difficult for adults to learn new languages, especially languages with distant or nonexistent relationships to their native language.”

    Sure, and for some more difficult than others.

    “But most people who are immersed in a language will acquire some rudimentary skill in that language.”

    That’s the point. They are not “immersed in the language” since they live in “parallel communities” with essentially no contact to the outside world. This is not that uncommon; probably most people from England living in Saudi Arabia don’t speak Arabic. But they don’t collect money from the state.

    “I encounter immigrants routinely, and while the ones who came over after the age of 12 have an obvious foreign accent, they can generally speak the language.”

    So do I. Most can. But some can’t. All should.

    I do have considerable personal experience. I myself am an immigrant, as is my wife (from somewhere completely different), and we both learned German as adults. Most of the people I work with are immigrants (and we speak German).

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  15. Just to be completely clear: In most countries, most immigrants are law-abiding inhabitants. (Whether they are citizens depends on a number of factors: how easy naturalization is, whether more than one nationality is allowed, what advantages naturalization brings, etc.) My objection is only to those who claim that there is practically no crime related to immigration or, if so, that it is almost never the fault of the immigrants.

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  16. Technically, we are all immigrants from Africa. There will always be one or two who are just “coasting along”.
    — — — —
    Black Monolith time: “Earliest evidence for ambush hunting by early humans in the Kenyan Rift” http://phys.org/news/2015-09-earliest-evidence-ambush-early-humans.html No-brainer, but useful confirmation: “The animal populations that humans selected to domesticate grew increasingly tame” http://phys.org/news/2015-09-animal-populations-humans-domesticate-grew.html

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  17. “Technically, we are all immigrants from Africa.”

    True, but completely irrelevant to the current debate. Well, not irrelevant, but harmful, since it suggests an illogical syllogism: we are all immigrants, I am not evil, therefore no immigrant can be evil.

    Of course, there is the KKK and there are racists everywhere, but they are a small minority. Even “concerned citizens” who raise issues about problems with integration are not racist in any meaningful sense of the word, though they often get painted as such, or anti-immigrant, or right-wing, or whatever, even if no other aspect of their behaviour suggests this.

    There are many cities in Europe where there are large Japanese communities. These people are usually not Christian, come from a very different society, have a very different native language, are immediately recognizable as foreigners, but there is practically no concern about them, because there are practically no problems associated with them. No Japanese schoolboy has ever called anyone a slut for not wearing a headscarf. That’s what it boils down to.

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  18. @Phillip: Try this for numbers: Eliminationism in America: VIII. The author is a recognized expert on the subject of eliminationism.

    In 1870, Chinese were about 10% of the population of California and a third of the population of Idaho. By 1910 almost all Chinese had been driven out of Idaho.

    As for your Swedish police link, it appears from the title to be discussing gangs (criminal networks). Criminal gangs among marginalized populations are not a new phenomenon; we have them in the US as well, and not just among immigrants. But immigrants often are marginalized populations. That makes them easy prey for such gangs, and at the same time fertile recruiting grounds for youths who need some kind–any kind–of protection. That is not the same thing as “no-go” zones. The Chinese community, too, had its criminal gangs (“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”).

    It also differs only in detail from what Americans were saying about Chinese and other Asian populations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The anti-Asian agitators were certain that Chinese, and later Japanese, could never assimilate. That was mainstream thought at the time–a couple of the more prominent examples, Kearney and Geary, have major streets in San Francisco named after them (ironically, Kearney St. passes through San Francisco’s Chinatown).

    It is historically true that not all anti-immigrant movements have been of the political right. The populist movement of William Jennings Bryan comes to mind. But starting in the twentieth century, that is where most of the prominent anti-immigrant movements have been found, and they are the ones who have been quite vocal about it.

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  19. @Eric: Maybe we’re talking past each other. First, I hope you understand the distinction between KKK-type racism and a liberal (in the social sense) concerned whether there is a danger that immigration could turn back the clocks on things like women’s rights, acceptance of LGBT people, and so on. Just because someone emigrates from a country where I would not like to live doesn’t mean that he is willing to give up everything about his past life. (Recently, some refugees from different places were literally on the same both. Some of them drowned the others because they had a different religion.) Not that he should, but if it threatens the culture of the new country, they have a right to be concerned, just like Amazon Indians have a right to retaining their culture (even if many aspects of it would be illegal in many “western” countries).

    It isn’t that long ago that people defended the right of immigrants to practice FGM (even Germaine Greer did so). In many cases, the left remained silent for fear that they might be mistaken for the right.

    The fact the Chinese in Idaho were unjustly accused of not wanting to be integrated doesn’t mean that every group wants to be immigrated. When the Turkish president visits European countries and tells Turkish immigrants not to become integrated and is greeted by the applause of thousands, those concerned about this are not necessarily right-wing nuts.

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  20. Regarding the ethnic resilience of the Chinese diaspora, I’ve come across a pretty funny attitude to Jews among Chinese acquaintances. Turns out that they have a fairly traditional Western picture of Jewish people. “They’re a strongly inward-looking diaspora that doesn’t intermarry much and is greatly focused on making money.” The difference is that Chinese people tend to see this as high praise! Jews, in fact, are seen as the smart and business-savvy kind of Westerner. The Chinese themselves are sometimes known as south-east Asia’s Jews, and often suffer pogroms in e.g. Indonesia and Malaysia.

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  21. Martin @122: It may also be significant that both Jews and Chinese have a strong cultural emphasis on education. An observant Jew (at least if male) is expected to be able to read the Torah in the original Hebrew, and for much of China’s history, passing the civil service exam was a ticket to a reasonably comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

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  22. The Way of the Swede is to marry whoever happens to be nubile and wander by in the street. This ensures that the grandkids will only speak the area’s majority language.

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  23. My favorite Bible verse also doesn’t exist:

    And the LORD spake, saying, “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.”

    I can’t really fault Trump, compared to other Republican presidential candidates, for this one. The American religious right has a seriously warped view of what’s in the Bible. They seem to be completely ignorant about the verses concerning economic matters, and I find their attitude toward bearing false witness to be remarkably casual.

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