November Pieces Of My Mind #2

Under Västerbron Bridge
  • Love the academic rock exactitude of the Hellacopters’ “I’m In The Band”.
  • Blue Öyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” famously has cowbell, but I just realised that it has lots of güiro too!
  • Listened to Depeche Mode’s “Shake The Disease” for the first time in decades. Impressed!
  • One of my Umeå students has got a short excavation job at the Östergötland County Museum thanks partly to digging with me in the region! This is an excellent person who really knows how to get things done.
  • I’m an archives person now, surrounded by historians all day long. I’ve ordered a pair of slippers.
  • When discouraged, let’s recall that the Internet is also a place where you can see pictures of delicious gumbo posted by double Hugo Award winners.
  • An angel dictated the Quran to a man. A man dictated the Mahabharata to a god. Some secretary.
  • Further optimisation at work: I now have slippers (actually black clogs with a solid-rubber base), a kickass Assam + Ceylon tea blend from the Sibyl’s tea & coffee shop, and a database extract with the coordinates of every known prehistoric cemetery or solitary barrow in Södermanland province.
  • Told one of the IT guys about the boardgame Istanbul. His dad is Turkish. Now he’s bought the game for his kids.
  • All this reading of the Sites & Monuments register makes me want to direct a big cemetery excavation.
  • “It’s one life and it’s this life and it’s beautiful” /First Aid Kit
  • The head waiter at Millesgården’s restaurant is gloriously, crushingly, relentlessly campy. At the moment he’s even sporting a thin whispy mustache. He’s so out and proud he’s a wandering work of art. I am completely in awe!
Gravfält mot ensamhögar 171109
In Värmland, solitary burial mounds (green) seem to represent 5th century settlement nuclei, from which settlement expands up to the 10th century, when the mound cemeteries (red) allow us to map it for the last time. Then quiet until the 14th century when the written sources allow us to map settlement again.

Author: Martin R

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

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


    Taming a wild animal is not the same as domesticating it. I see people make this mistake all the time, including people who I think should really know better. A tamed wild animal is just one that has been trained (normally by a process of reward and punishment) to remain docile in the presence of humans. People who have raised male chimpanzees as pets have discovered that when they become adults they can suddenly revert to the extremely violent behaviour they exhibit in the wild, like ripping people’s faces or genitals off. Tamed tigers and lions have been known to suddenly revert to wild behaviour and kill their trainers or owners. If people think some domesticated bulls are fearsome animals, they need to think about what the now extinct aurochs was like; Julius Caesar was terrified of them, and he was no pussy.

    Domestication is a much longer process of selective breeding, selecting animals to breed which have desirable traits. In that process, the animal is changed from its wild state into a different animal. Domestic dogs typically have much shorter snouts than the wolves they derived from. The animals’ brains also undergo changes – domestic dogs ‘look back’ at human faces to check on their reactions; wolves don’t. Domestic dogs make and hold eye contact with humans; wolves don’t. Domestic dogs can actually read human facial expressions; there’s no evidence that wolves can do that. People who go in for breeding dog/wolf crosses to produce new dog breeds are nuts. The series of Russian researchers who managed to breed domesticated foxes ended up with animals that had floppy ears and curled tails – very different looking animals from wild foxes.

    People have hypothesized that humans have domesticated themselves. If so, I’d say that so far, the process is probably not far enough along, especially in relation to males.


  2. Online dating has increased the frequency of inter-group couples a lot in the US. Me and my wife needed no such encouragement though. We’re not very inter-group considered as two Leftie bookish university graduates.


    1. Yeah. I think a lot of it is just who you have the chance to come into contact with and get to know, without in-group pressure coming into play to throw you off. Online dating opens up avenues for communicating with people from one of your out-groups who you might never otherwise have the chance to find or talk to without interference from your in-group.

      In my case, it was very definitely in the category of inter-group, but it came about from traveling alone – by the time my in-group found out, it was too late; my mind was made up and no one was going to change it. When I told my parents, my father took me out into the back yard and said “Don’t listen to anything your mother or I might say about this. You do what will make you happy.” He was good like that, my Dad. He never did say anything to try to discourage me, of course, he was just being democratic about it.


    1. The other positive actor was my mother-in-law. My wife-to-be was undecided, worrying about possible adverse consequences of mixed marriage, etc., but her mother just told her straight out to stop worrying and marry me. So she stopped worrying and did.

      I thought very highly of my mother-in-law.


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