September Pieces Of My Mind #1

  • Five years since my first teaching gig. Still temping today, still enjoying it, still think I should have a steady job.
  • LinkedIn suggests that I might apply for a job as home language teacher of Kannada, a Dravidian language spoken in southern India. 15% of full time.
  • Did Timothy Leary use TripAdvisor?
  • Richard Bradley discusses my 2015 book at length in his new book A Geography of Offerings. *happy*
  • I want to text my lower-teen self that I just favourited Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart”. He would be absolutely disgusted.
  • Breakfast: bread that I baked, mushrooms that I picked, crayfish claws that my wife left.
  • Our first real Viking warrior burial that has been genetically identified as female! This paper will prove a milestone. Here’s the burial itself. It doesn’t get more warriory than this.
  • Satisfying little discovery today: one of the most honoured guests at the wedding in July of 1359 at Stensö Castle, the uncle of the bride, was the owner of Landsjö Castle, whatever was left of it at the time.
  • Placed 7th out of 12 boats in the mini race.
  • The new Ride song “Charm Assault” has the expression “your lies begin to unfurl”. Think you meant “unravel” there, mate.

Author: Martin R

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

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

  1. “If you can survive the next two decades”

    I am just trying to survive the next two years.

    Couldn’t get my @#$%&$# desktop to boot this morning. Ended up having to spend 2 hours doing a full system re-install, thankfully successfully without loss of any files. Tedious process.


  2. I went voting for the Swedish Church assembly thing election today, to boost participation and marginalize the xenophobe party, wich hopes to use the church as a plattform.

    “Blue ice”???
    Google “016302 Have I Got News For You”, it provides a glimpse of a young Michael Hazeltine working in television, giving me the impression a lot of nasty politians have worked in TV.
    Reagan of course worked in radio and film, he came too early for “The apprentice”.


  3. Carrie Fisher (princess Leia) passed away last December, John Hurt in January. Now Harry Dean Stanton passed away at 91.
    Apart from the hapless crew member of Nostromo, he is also remembered for films like Paris, Texas.

    I suppose we should expect Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver to go next. Entrophy sucks.


  4. This is a biggie:
    “Why we did not evolve to live forever: Unveiling the mystery of why we age” -The ageing process arises as a quirk of evolution
    ”Autophagy is known to become slower with age and the authors of this paper show that it appears to completely deteriorate in older worms. They demonstrate that shutting down key genes in the initiation of the process allows the worms to live longer compared with leaving it running crippled. This could force us to rethink our ideas about one of the most fundamental processes that exist in a cell,”


  5. giving me the impression a lot of nasty politians have worked in TV

    It should not surprise you that politicians, especially in countries that use first-past-the-post systems (as most English-speaking countries do), often come from the entertainment business. Entertainers start off with substantial name recognition, which is a plus for any would-be politician.

    You see them on both sides of the aisle, too. In the US, in addition to the notorious examples of Reagan and Trump, you have Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota), who was a writer for the Comedy Central TV network before he ran for Senate (IIRC it was Franken who originated the quip that Pat Buchanan’s speech at the 1992 Republican Convention sounded better in the original German). Other US politicians were previously basketball or American football stars. I can also name at least one Australian example: the Peter Garrett who was Environment Minister (I’m not sure of the exact title, but that was his role) in the Labour government about a decade ago is the same Peter Garrett who was front man for 80s-90s alternative rock band Midnight Oil. So far Bruce Springsteen has resisted calls to run for political office, but he freely donates his time and performing skills on behalf of the US Democratic Party.

    The ur-example of this phenomenon is probably George Murphy, whose election in 1964 as US Senator from California attracted the attention of Tom Lehrer. The bit in Lehrer’s introduction about Massachusetts having three senators is a reference to Robert F. Kennedy’s election that same year to a Senate seat nominally representing New York (this is the same seat to which Hilary Clinton was elected 36 years later).


  6. Reagan was not elected to public office until 1966, when he was elected Governor of California. According to Murphy’s Wikipedia page, Reagan always credited Murphy as being the trailblazer in this regard. Reagan was politically active well before that election, but not as an officeholder.


  7. Birger@57 – I like how that article on Chinese typewriters used a photo of a Japanese woman. All look the same, really; even when wearing traditional dress?


  8. It’s OK, you can all sit down again. In fact, it turns out that standing up (stationary) for too long is bad for you too. Better lie down.

    I can’t help feeling that the mainstream media have contributed heavily to their own death spiral.

    How long did they run with the story that ‘moderate drinkers live longer than people who don’t drink at all’, until someone pointed out the gaping confounding factor in that research? Even my doctor was so persuaded by it that he kept trying to talk me into taking up drinking. Of course, he himself was a ‘wine lover’ who was only too happy to be convinced that it was good for him. Ethyl alcohol is ethyl alcohol, a virulent toxin, no matter how much you pay for the bottle of fermented grape juice it comes in.

    It’s such a virulent toxin that it makes for a great disinfectant – it will kill just about anything.

    Ronald Reagan wasn’t fooled though – he knew the real secret to longevity was to eat jelly beans.


  9. The US military is always desperate for more recruits. But they will not recruit anyone with an IQ of 73 or less (why precisely 73 I have no idea), because they have determined that there is no job in the armed forces that can be done reliably by someone whose cognitive ability is that low. Nothing.

    People with an IQ of 75 or lower make up 15% of the population. But they are still allowed to vote. In Australia, where voting in all federal and state elections is compulsory for people aged 18 or over, they will be subject to a fine if they don’t vote, or if it is detected that they have deliberately spoiled their ballot paper. The question is, should they even be allowed to vote? Yes, poorly educated voters make poor political choices. But what about the substantial proportion of the population who are not capable of becoming educated because they simply don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand?

    I guess the bad news for the US military is that, as warfare becomes more mechanised/automated, that minimum acceptable IQ is continually rising. But the good news is that warfare relies decreasingly on physical strength, endurance, stamina, etc., meaning that a continually increasing number of roles in the military can be taken up perfectly competently by women. There are already female fighter pilots who can do that job just as well as males. So, as one potential stream of recruits is progressively narrowing, another is increasingly becoming available. I see no reason now why they can’t have female tank crews (if they don’t have them already – no idea). I don’t see any sense in trying to turn females into marines, when they can use them in any number of roles that require less muscle power.

    It makes me wonder. Someone with an IQ of 90 is incapable of reading a simple set of instructions and then applying them. (So, they are unable to do things like work out how to operate a household vacuum cleaner, or washing machine, or microwave oven without someone showing them how.) Unemployment in Australia is currently around 5 to 6%. That means that there are more than 10% of people who are employed who are doing…what? Pushing brooms around? Folding envelopes? Whatever they are doing, the jobs they are capable of doing are going to progressively disappear very rapidly with automation.

    That is actually really bad news, because most people want to feel that they are doing something useful and productive, and the % of the population who won’t be able to is going to keep increasing.


  10. Martin@64 – No, the confounding factor was that a lot of people who were counted as ‘non-drinkers’ were people who could no longer drink because they had health conditions resulting from past abuse of alcohol – so of course, those people tended to die younger than moderate drinkers.

    If you confine ‘non-drinkers’ to people who have never been regular drinkers during their lifetimes, you get the intuitively obvious outcome – people who have never been drinkers live longer than people who are moderate drinkers. Any alcohol at all is a risk factor. There is no ‘safe’ lower limit. Risk rises with increased usage – it’s the classic dose-response relationship that you would intuitively expect to see from ritually ingesting doses of a chemical compound which is both a toxin and a carcinogen.


  11. In fact, it looks very much like Vladimir Putin was single handedly responsible for arresting the decline in longevity of Russian men and turning it around – so the life expectancy of Russian males is now rising again, and the Russian population has started rising again – by banning the sale of cheap vodka. Well done, little Vlad. But it’s not rocket science.


  12. My old thesis supervisor once mused about the change to society that means these days nobody can make a living pushing a wheel barrow or carrying logs. Then he added, pensively, “Or they could become samurai, back then”.

    Hard liquor is evil stuff. Like drinking paint thinner. If we legalise soft drugs, then we should consider reclassifying any alcoholic beverage stronger than wine as a hard drug.

    I’m happy to hear that Tsar Putain has had some positive impact.


  13. If you look at old black and white photos of samurai, they look like a bunch of belligerent brainless thugs – which is presumably exactly what they were. Not particularly physically fit or strong looking, just seedy looking layabouts.


  14. People tend to strongly romantize hereditary military “elites” of the past. Both the samurai and the spartans were easy to bribe


  15. My pleasure. I think that helps to explain why John Hawks never got around to answering your question – he didn’t know the answer, and wasn’t willing to engage in wild speculation. He doesn’t.

    This one is kind of interesting:

    “We estimate that African populations contributed approximately 1.2% of the UK gene pool and did so approximately 400 years ago.” Hmmm – 400 years, eh?

    “places the migration event early in the era of the “First” British Empire when Britain was actively establishing colonies in West Africa and the West Indies. During this period there was
    a notable rise in the Black British population, often as household attendants to returning sea captains and colonists or as former slaves from Spain and Portugal.”

    Slavery was not abolished in Britain until 1807.


  16. Birger@70 – I can name at least one hereditary military elite who have not been romanticised, or anything close – the Normans. In fact, I think they deserved a bit more credit as a civilising force in Britain than they have ever got.

    But then, I would say that, wouldn’t I?


  17. Yes, I read about Petrov.
    If the Mericans want to put up statues everywhere, they should raise statues in his honour.
    And as a bonus he looks aryan, making him acceptable in the South.
    — — —
    A biblical fantasist claims having found the blood of Jesus.
    He also claims the blood is still alive…at this point it is very temp ting to insert a zombie joke, but I cannot be bothered. These kooks have apparently no trouble getting people to listen to them. But the story is unintentional comedy.

    “ Then, they looked at it under a microscope and counted the chromosomes. How, I don’t know; you can’t see chromosomes with a light microscope unless you squash the cells undergoing mitosis and stain them, which would require killing Jesus’ cells.”

    And they claim to have found an extra chromosome, from Jahwe. Suppose this would be useful if someone wants to create a clone of God… Lex Luthor would certainly be interested.
    Question: Did they find any DNA in the red blood cells? Because THAT would be a miracle.


  18. I think the Normans got a bad rep because Vilhelm/William was a total c*nt. He had no trouble breaking his promises to fellow normans and generally was as what you expect a medieval warlord to be. At least he did not impale people.
    “Vote Vilhelm in 1066! He never impales his subjects!”


  19. William needs to be judged by the standards of the times. I don’t doubt he wasn’t a nice man. His legal reforms were pretty impressive by the standards of the day, though – at least, it seems to me that way. Plus he gave my multiple great grand daddy some land in Cheshire – could have been better, I suppose, but then I have no idea how useful my multiple great grand daddy was on the day. Not utterly useless, presumably.

    I read somewhere that William was so fat by the time he died that they couldn’t get the lid on his coffin. Don’t recall where I saw that.

    Not just Merkins who should put up statues to Petrov – I don’t fancy my chances of surviving a nuclear winter in a world where the whole global economy has been destroyed.


  20. There is a French absurdist play named “King Ubu” which the Americans ought to familiarize themselves with.

    And Gwyneth Paltrow is now selling a vampire repellent. Not kidding.

    Catholic Church Releases List of Pedophile Priests — 74 in One DioceseRead more at
    As onetime boss of what was earlier called “the inquisition”, the previous pope would have known about it.


  21. Bloody hell. In his speech to the UN General Assembly today, Dolt 45 actually called Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man”.

    I have issues with a lot of Sir Elton’s music, but “Rocket Man” is a song with personal meaning to me. Or perhaps I should say it had personal meaning, because President Scheisskopf has a well-earned reputation for ruining everything he touches.


  22. Gwyneth Paltrow *is* a vampire repellent. I mean, who would want to bite…?

    This is a fairly big one:

    I keep expecting to see a European pop gen paper published which has a list of authors/contributors and their affiliations which is longer than the rest of the paper.

    This one doesn’t go close, but the list of authors/contributors is still pretty mind-boggling. A look at the contributions at the end shows that the majority of the contributors ‘assembled and interpreted archaeological material’.


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