November Pieces Of My Mind #2

  • Thanks to metal detecting, the 7th century material has exploded with duckbill brooches / næbfibler in Denmark and conical brooches in Norway. The making of every one of those brooches resulted in a pile of durable, easily identified mould fragments. Where are those? Ground up into grog / chamotte for new moulds?
  • Distinguished older Slavic construction worker on commuter train is annoyed on cellphone, says kurva at least once in every sentence.
  • I need to stop reading US news. It’s sheer self-harm since I’m powerless to help.
  • Tea leaves flavoured with berries and cream. What is the substance that confers the aroma of cream? I hope they don’t pour cream onto the leaves. Anyway, I’ve never tried it.
  • Playing the boardgame Detective & Co. Gameplay was somewhat confused. In this game you only know which colour belongs to you, and two players believed that they played orange.
  • Odd expression in Planetary Report: “four times closer”. I conceptualise this as “one fourth of the distance”.
  • I posted an annoyed note recently about people getting context numbers confused during excavations. Somebody commented “Oh how boring”. This somehow stuck with me. I’m tempted to reply “Well, I guess not all of us are mentally geared towards scientific exactitude”. But I won’t. Because it would be mean. And worse, most likely completely ineffective as an insult. Comparable to “I guess not all of us have a complete collection of the Swedish Ant Farm Association’s newsletter”.
  • About the Mick Rock movie Shot. “I was lucky to shoot Bowie and Reed before they were really a big deal.” Maybe that should be “If I hadn’t shot Bowie and Reed at that time they would never have become such a big deal.”
  • Kebab places are extremely reluctant to serve small helpings. They prefer to give me three times the food I want and a take-away box.
  • Klavs Randsborg, dynamic Danish archaeology professor, died Saturday 12 November.
  • WTF. Sponge cake as the basal layer of a cheesecake?!
  • Some Roma beggars display religious effigies. I wonder if that really works in Sweden. To me they might as well heft a daikon radish.
  • So weird when Adele Adkins (26) sings lyrics written from the perspective of a 50-y-o multiple divorcee.
  • Just had to explain to a young scholar that when you submit a manuscript file to a journal, questions of font and type size are irrelevant. “You can submit in 35 p green Comic Sans if you like, it still only takes me 5 sec to change it to something I like better.”
  • Heading for Kavalla and two weeks of reading & writing at the Swedish Institute. Screw you, Swedish November!
  • Rode two Embraer 195s Stockholm – Vienna – Thessaloniki.
  • The Kavallans are wearing sensible November clothes. Sensible that is if you’re in Stockholm. I’m walking around in just a shirt above my belt.
  • Lunch: sardines cooked with onions, mustard and parsley. And a dish of oil-simmered horta greens. Only the absence of garum dates this meal after AD 400.
  • I’m not a great tourist ambassador. I mainly take pictures of buildings in severe disrepair.
  • The some-time live music bar was almost empty. Instead I found a recently opened boardgame café full of people. I had a cup of hazelnut cocoa, but I couldn’t find the courage to ask a bunch of young Greeks to play Saboteur with me. Next time I’ll be braver.
  • I’m hiking the Water Trail north from Kavalla into the hills, on the conduit that fed the town’s aqueduct.
  • I like the bedrock here. It’s gneiss like I’m used to, not some weird-ass recent sedimentary.
  • Unripe olives taste really bad.
  • The water conduit and aqueduct remained functional until WW2.
  • Under Ottoman rule, the Christians of Kavalla were exempt from taxes in return for funding and organising upkeep of the water conduit. This involved a lot of chalk powder, linseed oil and cotton wool.
Kavalla's Water Trail.
Kavalla’s Water Trail.

Author: Martin R

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

78 thoughts on “November Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Birger@55 – Well, there you go. I never knew that echidnas produce venom. The strange thing is that they don’t seem to use it for anything. If they did, I suppose I would have known about it.

    But then it wasn’t all that long ago (2005) that it was discovered that Perenties are venomous.


  2. Anyway, good news about the Chinese girls.

    A lot of those infanticide and forced abortion stories always seemed to me to be a fabrication of the Western media, and it looks like that might be true, at least in part – exaggeration, if not outright fabrication.

    Meanwhile, you never seem to read much about female infanticide in northern India, where it really is a major problem.


  3. #62 – OK, so we’ll just ignore the billion people in Africa, then. Exclude them from “our”.

    My meaning was that anatomically modern humans did not evolve from Neanderthals – both evolved from a common ancestor. Some subsequent interbreeding between anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals outside of sub-Saharan Africa resulted in introgression of some Neanderthal alleles into modern humans outside of sSA, although much Neanderthal ancestry was fairly rapidly purged from the modern human genome, presumably because it was deleterious and selected against.

    Good enough?


  4. There is a line of thinking, although I don’t remotely imagine that you engage in it, that somehow having some Neanderthal ancestry made people outside of Africa in some way superior to Africans. It was first suggested by Gregory Cochran that interbreeding with Neanderthals might have led to the modern human ‘cultural explosion’ about 50,000 years ago by making ‘us’ more intelligent (‘us’ meaning non-Africans, obviously).

    Greg Cochran has since himself publicly disavowed this theory, because there is absolutely no evidence to support it. He does this sort of stuff all the time – tosses out ideas for discussion, and then scraps them when they don’t work out – it’s just a form of thinking aloud. But unfortunately there are people of a ‘certain persuasion’, shall we say, who seized upon it and continue to peddle it and pursue it like a terrier after a rat as if it is an obvious truth, when it is nothing of the sort.

    It is something I get pretty touchy about. I really don’t like that line of thinking, particularly as there is absolutely no evidence for it.

    In any case, I don’t believe there is evidence to support anything like the 50,000 year cultural explosion that a lot of people still seem to believe in. If people want to point to evidence of innovation in material culture, there are plenty of examples predating 50,000 years ago, including some in southern Africa dating to 100,000 years ago.

    So, sorry if I came off a bit touchy-sounding. It’s because, on that point, I am. It’s a by-product of hanging around on a couple of blogs which in themselves are perfectly OK, or more or less OK, but which by their subject matter unfortunately tend to attract people of that ‘certain persuasion’ as commenters. The more egregiously racist comments get filtered out by the bloggers before anyone else sees them, but some of the more sly digs occasionally slip through.


  5. John@59: The site in question is basically a compendium of press releases. To the extent that their writing standards are declining (if they are), it is a reflection of the state of education in the developed world.

    The prognosis on that is not good. The woman Trump has chosen for Secretary of Education is a big player in the charter school movement, which seeks to replace accountable public schools with mostly unaccountable privately run but publicly funded schools.


  6. Eric@66 – Don’t get me started on that subject either. I have a very strong view that privately run schools should be entirely self-funding and should not receive any public financial support at all. If the rich want ‘exclusive’ schools for their disgusting offspring, they can bloody well pay for them.

    I say that having suffered through 5 years of secondary schooling at a privately run school myself, by dint of having enough wit to win a scholarship. I would like to report that I enjoyed the experience, but I most certainly did not.


  7. The type of school I mentioned tends to be associated with people looking for avenues for grift and corruption. (There are a few well-meaning exceptions, but they are exceptions.)

    One of the few safe predictions for what will happen during a Trump administration is that we will see corruption on a level not seen in a US Presidential administration since Warren Harding was President. It’s turtles–I mean grifters–all the way down.

    If we’re lucky, Trump will merely be a Berlusconi. But Mussolini or Putin are more likely outcomes, and I can’t rule out something worse than those two.


  8. I see the Singaporese also have some Swedish bandvagn vehicles. I grew up seeing an earlier generation of those moving through thick snow. (It was felt that adding offensive weapons on personnel carriers like the Soviet BMP would have made them too heavy to cope with Swedish conditions).
    — — —
    “Travelling salesman” problem, anyone?
    “Researchers create a new type of computer that can solve problems that are a challenge for traditional computers ”


  9. It’s astonishing how many armoured vehicles Singapore has. It has a land area of only 700 square kilometres. If you laid their armoured vehicles end to end on made roads, you’d have trouble finding enough road to accommodate them all.


  10. Birger@72: Yesterday I saw a link to an American “news” video (which I refuse to watch) in which apparently a leading Trump surrogate said something like, “There’s no such thing as facts.” OK, since you claim that gravitational attraction is not a fact, I invite you to test this notion by stepping off the roof of the tallest building you can find. Much as Alan Sokal invited anyone who thinks that the laws of physics are mere social conventions to transgress those conventions from his apartment window (at the time, he lived on the twenty-first floor).


  11. Help me. I’m an American.

    I must apologize to the two boatmen I met at Rättvik last summer. They were mortified at the prospect of Trump becoming president, and I naively assured him that Americans would never elect someone like him.


  12. I’m afraid the best help we can offer is to suggest that you emigrate to Sweden. It’s a place where Bernie is mainstream and Obama is about as right-wing as you can get and still be politically viable. Everybody speaks English.


  13. “The Kavallans are wearing sensible November clothes. Sensible that is if you’re in Stockholm. I’m walking around in just a shirt above my belt.”

    A belt, a shirt, nothing else. I’m picturing it now. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: