March Pieces Of My Mind #1

Joan Crawford representing America on one of the four main doors to the Grand movie theatre in Stockholm.
Joan Crawford representing America on one of the four main doors to the Grand movie theatre in Stockholm.
  • If you block the Autobahn with droves of bananas, is that then ein Obstruktion?
  • Tim Minchin has a huge hit right now in Australia with a song urging a strangely reluctant cardinal to come home from the Vatican and answer some questions about the clergy’s crimes against children in the 70s and 80s.
  • Enormous areas in Scandinavia don’t seem to have been completely messed up by the inland ice! If we have any Neanderthal sites, then that’s where they are.
  • Such an amazing night for stargazing in Blankaholm! The sky isn’t black with a few shiny dots, it’s shimmering all over with varying intensity. By Hera’s teat, I can see the Milky Way!
  • Final assignment for the supervision course submitted with two weeks to spare.
  • There’s an anti-Dawkins, anti-scientism opinion piece in today’s issue of Sweden’s main conservative newspaper. My humanities buddies are sharing it with approval. My skeptical buddies are sharing it with critical comments. I don’t care enough to read it. But my position is religion bad, Dawkins bad, pro-faith humanities bad, scientism good.
  • After getting up in the morning, I like to grab a cup of tea or cocoa and immediately go to work at my desk. Breakfast preferably later.
  • Spell checker hasn’t heard of Ångermanland, instead suggests that the northern limit of the Pitted Ware Culture was in Gondwanaland.
  • Americans! Hear me! An elite is a group, like a team. Two members of a team are not “two teams”. Two members of an elite are not “two elites”. You’re making me embarrassed!
  • Here’s a non-Indo-European language that may have survived into the Roman Republican era in SE Italy. Unintelligible today. Fascinating!
  • The Lakes Lundsjön-Dammsjön basin, where we go swimming in the summers and skating/skiing in the winters, was cut off from the Baltic by land upheaval about 2300 cal BC, around the start of the Late Neolithic.
  • Movie: En man som heter Ove. Bereaved grumpy widower hates the world but is brought back into engaging with life by his neighbours. Not for the cynical. Grade: Pass.
  • Jrette has a major role in a possibly Un-American musical: “Guys and Dolls was selected as the winner of the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, because of writer Abe Burrows’ troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the Trustees of Columbia University vetoed the selection, and no Pulitzer for Drama was awarded that year.”
  • Do Juggalos vote for Trump?
  • Why is the first Indiana Jones movie named Raiders of the Lost Ark? There are no raiders in it. Makes no sense. According to Merriam-Webster, a raider either “suddenly and unexpectedly attacks”, or he “enters a place in order to steal or take something”.
  • Reading Agatha Christie for the first time in decades. Surprised to find how intensely funny she is at times!
  • Colourful Danish expression: Jeg var ved at skide en snemand! — “I almost shit a snowman!”.
  • Free style tip: if your noun is in the plural, then you don’t have to add “different” or “various”. It’s implicit that “things” refers to several non-identical things. “Different” is just redundant.
  • Having attended a pleasure-boating fair yesterday, my dad reports that the entire hobby seems moribund here in Sweden. No interesting new tech. Everybody there was way past retirement age and male. The price of a used pleasure boat is plummeting.
  • In 1276 the King of Norway, Magnus VI the Law-mender, sent a whale’s head as a gift to the King of England.
  • Växjö’s main council tenement area, multicultural and socially disadvantaged as these tend to be, is named Araby. I kid you not. The name predates the town and is likely to be over a thousand years old (cf. Whitby, Ingleby etc. in England). And that’s where they decided to put their council tenements.
  • Mats P. Malmer had no contact with archaeology before age 24.
  • Some day yew folks’ll hear a child o’ Lavinny’s a-callin’ its father’s name on the top o’ Sentinel Hill.

Author: Martin R

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

59 thoughts on “March Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. #49 – That article could be potentially misleading. It is unlikely that modern humans derived any ancestry from the Cro Magnons who inhabited parts of Europe 45,000 years ago.

    The blue eyed variant was present in hunter-gatherers who reinhabited Europe after the last glacial maximum, e.g. in the Loschbour remains, which from memory date to 8,000 years ago. That individual sticks in my mind because they found he had dark skin and hair, and blue eyes – an unusual combination now.


  2. Probably extinct. But I don’t know that for a certainty, because I don’t think anyone has gone looking for them in any genomes other than European genomes, so I am being cautious. But effectively, we can assume they are gone – died out in the severe population bottlenecks that occurred with the advance of the last ice age.


  3. Oops, notice to people using Amazon for book purchases: The address used most often becomes default, and you might ship a book to the wrong place if you don’t double-check the address.
    — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
    I love engineering: “Bike thieves, don’t even try it: Hexlox locked into bolt”
    In Umeå, attractive bikes just evaporate. I consider boobytrapping my next bike. Or painting it with rust-coloured paint, maiking it look ancient. No, I prefer explosives…


  4. My beloved little folding bike, which I rode everywhere for 7 months as my then principle means of transport, was stolen in 2012. It was entirely my own fault – I locked it to a street railing with a cable lock, but the cable was too thin and could simply be cut through with a decent pair of bolt cutters, or even a pair of pliers. I say it was my fault because I broke all of the rules – I was totally predictable; I parked my bike in the same place every day and disappeared inside a building for a predictably long amount of time. So any observant thief knew he had plenty of time to break the cable lock and ride the bike away.

    But in fairness to the population I live among, I did that almost every day for 7 months before the temptation for someone was finally too much. I became blasé about it, and finally paid the price.

    There is a Pakistani guy in the UK, a reformed bike thief who used to steal bikes to finance his drug habit. He has set up a website at which he gives you all his rules to avoid having your bike stolen. Rule number 1 is never be predictable – never park your bike in the same place every day. He has lots of other advice and tricks. One I remember is that he says to let the air out of one of your tyres – no one will try to steal a bike with a flat tyre, it’s too troublesome, so he will steal someone else’s bike instead. You carry a small pump with you, so that when you return to your bike, you just pump up the tyre again.

    I replaced the folding bike with a full sized road racing bike – more difficult to steal just due to size, and more difficult to ride – but the outcome of that was that I crashed too often at high speed, and the injuries were becoming tiresome.

    These days I rarely use my bike as a form of transport, which is a real shame, because where I live, the cycleways have been designed for it. The occasional recreational ride is fun, but becomes tedious and pointless after a while.

    When I was reporting my stolen bike to the police, I commented to the police officer that I should have bought an old rusty bike that would be less attractive to thieves, but he said it wouldn’t have helped much, because the thieves mostly steal them to break the frames up for the scrap metal (most bikes being made of aluminium). The removable parts in good condition get built into new bikes, which are then sold back into the market.

    That was the Pakistani’s second rule – lock everything. You need to lock both wheels to the frame, and lock the seat to the frame as well, and lock the whole thing to some immovable object. This means you have to carry a heavy weight of cables or chains and locks everywhere.

    So the Hexlox could be a real advance, and well worth the investment.


  5. Woke up this morning, reached for my precious Flamenco guitar to start practising and…horrors! One of the strings had snapped during the night. The A string, to be specific, which is a bundle of synthetic fibres wound in fine silver-plated brass wire.

    This has never happened to me before. I’ve had plenty of strings break while playing (usually steel strings when I was thrashing away at them with a plectrum), but not while the instrument was just sitting idle. I’m bemused – I guess a it could have been caused by a sudden temperature change causing a change in the tension of the string, but there should have been some prior indication, and no such dramatic change occurred overnight. That string was looking a little worn, which is why I have ordered some new sets of strings from the manufacturer (the particular strings I want are not sold locally), but they won’t arrive here for weeks yet. The strings were those put on by the manufacturer, so I don’t even know their provenance – they were neither very good nor very bad strings, just kind of OK-ish or a bit better than that.

    This prompted an emergency trip to the music shop for new strings.

    I have since decided to replace all of the strings – may as well, they are all getting towards the end of their playing life. But this in itself is a pain in the arse, because after you install new strings, they go on stretching for hours and the guitar keeps going out of tune. I have seen people trying to pre-stretch strings by pulling them with their hands, rather comically, but they can’t hope to apply the tension that is applied to them when they are wound onto the guitar. So I still have to wait for hours for the strings to settle down before I can start practising.

    I heard somewhere that Segovia used to soak his strings in water. I can’t see how that could possibly help.

    It’s a puzzle. Any idea, Phillip or others? It was the bundle of fibres that ruptured, obviously – the wire binding doesn’t carry any tension.


  6. Two members of an elite are not “two elites”.

    Similarly, two members of a minority are not ‘two minorities.’ And y o u ‘ r e embarrassed.

    –an American late in reading this, due to different time zone.


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