June Pieces Of My Mind #3

  • This is the time of year when our yard becomes an extra room in our house. Where a man might sit around butt naked except for a straw hat, reading. I mean he really could. If he wanted to. You’ll notice I’m not appending a selfie.
  • Anybody into Ariel Pink? Seems to be a true original. His 2014 song “Dayzed Inn Daydreams” has the weirdest Motown interlude in the middle.
  • I never understood, growing up, that democracy means that you run a constant risk of being governed by assholes on the strength of votes by the ignorant, hateful and scared.
  • Wife’s workout app tells her “keep your abs tight”. I keep hearing “ass”.
  • Confused to learn that the Scottish National Party is not right-wing racist/populist.
  • Somebody on Twitter offers a list of “10 Podcasts That Will Make You Feel Smarter”. I don’t even know where to begin explaining how lame this is. Whether justified or not, me and all my friends already consider ourselves pretty smart. We don’t need to “feel smarter”. In the end I just unfollowed the person.
  • Sitting outdoors in the South American hammock swing at ten in the evening, listening to birdsong and bumblebees, reading a book. Swedish summer!
  • Starting a big dig like this feels a bit like launching a spacecraft. Luckily there is a bit more room for improvisation, changed plans and resupplying on an excavation than there is on a rocket after take-off.
  • Academia has done its best in the past few months to make me feel useless and expendable. Heading a fieldwork team of 20 who show every sign of enjoying working with me does a lot to compensate.
  • Student turns me on to early 80s Dio. I try to find him on Deezer. The service suggests that I may be looking for Céline Dion.
  • This is the third time my team inadvertently finds a Stone Age site while excavating a post-AD-1 site in Östergötland. Sättuna, Landsjö, Ulvåsa!
Peonies in our garden
Peonies in our garden

Author: Martin R

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

58 thoughts on “June Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. why the hell did the Japanese rebuild Tokyo in the same place after the big eartquake?

    There isn’t anywhere in Japan that has substantially less seismic risk. There’s a reason why the Pacific Rim (from Indonesia up the Asian coast to the Bering Sea and down the American coast all the way to Chile) is known as the Ring of Fire.

    Parts of China do have less seismic risk than the coastal plain, but they tend to be in the northern interior, which doesn’t have the resources to support so many large cities–there is a reason so few people live west of Urumqi.


  2. Eric @ 52 – Not strictly true. Seismic risk varies a lot in Japan. Tokyo is built in one of the areas of highest seismic risk, so Birger’s question was perfectly valid – it’s in about the worst place in Japan that it could be.

    You can see what I mean by referring to the map on this page: http://www.j-shis.bosai.go.jp/en/shm


  3. I think I understand what that map is trying to say, but Tokyo isn’t the only major Japanese city at high seismic risk. I can pick out the approximate locations of Nagoya, Chiba, and Sendai on that map, and all of them are only slightly better than the Tokyo Bay region. I don’t know offhand which city or cities are on the next bay to the west of Tokyo, but that’s also a bad spot. And I don’t see many good harbors on the northern/western coast of Honshu, where the risk is much lower.

    A better question would be why they moved the capital from Kyoto to Edo in 1868. Granted that Kyoto is inland, but so is Beijing.


  4. As for New Orleans, keep in mind that the levees have two purposes: (1) to keep the Mississippi River out of New Orleans and (2) to keep the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Point (1) is, of course, flood control–the city is below sea level (mostly due to subsidence of the land, which is no longer being replenished by river sediment deposited in the delta). Point (2) is that, left to its own devices, the Mississippi River would cut a much shorter path along the Atchafalaya River to the Gulf of Mexico, with an outlet more than 100 km to the west. The reason that is a problem is that New Orleans is where a lot of cargo that is moved along the Mississippi and major tributaries by barge is transferred to ocean-going ships. Among that cargo is a few percent of the world’s food supply. That’s why New Orleans was rebuilt after Katrina. The Atchafalaya would bypass not only New Orleans but Baton Rouge, the most plausible alternative location for this transshipment port.


  5. It’s a pity that the 2015 paper by Allentoft et al. “101 ancient Eurasian genomes” was published in Nature and is therefore pay-walled. It’s an important one for archaeologists. A fair bit can be gleaned from the figures, though.

    The abstract: “The Bronze Age of Eurasia (around 3000–1000 BC) was a period of major cultural changes. However, there is debate about whether these changes resulted from the circulation of ideas or from human migrations, potentially also facilitating the spread of languages and certain phenotypic traits. We investigated this by using new, improved methods to sequence low-coverage genomes from 101 ancient humans from across Eurasia. We show that the Bronze Age was a highly dynamic period involving large-scale population migrations and replacements, responsible for shaping major parts of present-day demographic structure in both Europe and Asia. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesized spread of Indo-European languages during the Early Bronze Age. We also demonstrate that light skin pigmentation in Europeans was already present at high frequency in the Bronze Age, but not lactose tolerance, indicating a more recent onset of positive selection on lactose tolerance than previously thought.”


  6. Is anyone going to watch the 2016 film “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl”? I see the part of Electra Woman is played by one Grace Helbig. Is this a sinister hidden message? I think we should be told.


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