March Pieces Of My Mind 1

The Stockholm archipelago in winter, rarely seen by tourists. (Bullandö seen across Simpströmmen.)
  • Empty email inbox! Nothing I need to attend to now. I love the postpone function in Google Inbox.
  • Hehe. Old dude writes about shoreline displacement and what the level was around Stockholm in 1250 compared to today. For “today”, he cites a book from 1982. When the vertical displacement is about 5 cm per decade.
  • Listening to smoke-drenched stoner rock and cooking elk lasagna.
  • Starting a movement. We believe that people who are afraid of fluoridation are crazy. But that the iodine in table salt is mind-control.
  • Movie: The Shape of Water. Merman locked into military research facility forms bond with lonely cleaning lady. Grade: Great!
  • Love the new study in Antiquity of the Kanaljorden bones by Sara Gummesson, Fredrik Hallgren and Anna Kjellström! “We have recognised a sexrelated, non-random, trauma pattern, where non-lethal forces were directed to the back of the head of women and to the top of the head of men. The fact that the majority of the individuals show healed injuries seems to be more than a coincidence and implies that they were specifically chosen for inclusion in the deposition.”
  • Power tip: the Google Translate app for Android does OCR of text in photos. You can easily get the original photographed text in editable form, not just the translation.
  • Tenacious D’s “Tribute” has the same central conceit as Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”. “This is not the best song in the world: it’s just a tribute”.
  • I tweeted a link to a scifi story by Arthur C. Clarke. Three pornbots have retweeted it so far. These bots are more than just a pretty face!
  • The Scotsman headline: ”Bodies may have to be exhumed to make way for Edinburgh trams”. Or in archaeologist lingo, “Edinburgh trams offer possible opportunity to excavate burial site”.
  • Celtic scholars, how can I tell the Goidelic from the psychedelic? Signed, “Dasedd ac Confulledd”
  • Zork alumni, take note: I played through Buster Hudson’s award-winning 2017 text adventure game The Wizard Sniffer, and enjoyed it a lot! It runs in your browser. Apparently lots of good interactive fiction is still published every year. I must look into this further.
Perks of teaching: got some marking to do and the tearooms to do it in.

Author: Martin R

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

108 thoughts on “March Pieces Of My Mind 1”

  1. Single origin of the sickle allele during the Holocene Wet Phase, the last of the Green Sahara periods.

    The sickle haplotypes are (in)famous for conferring some protection from malaria in heterozygotes (one copy of the allele) and death in homozygotes (two copies of the allele).

    When I was a kid at school, I was taught that the desertification of the Sahara was caused by goats. An apology to African goatherds is long overdue.

    When my daughter was an undergraduate, she had a German lecturer who was in a moral panic about how the world could not sustain Chinese all eating steak as much as Americans and Australians do. That nitwit just hadn’t done his homework – the data show very clearly that, despite increased meat consumption with the rapid rise of affluence in China, the increases have been in pork and chicken. Increase in beef consumption has been barely a blip, and sheep consumption is and always has been vanishingly small in China. Pigs and chickens require very much less agricultural land to farm than cattle and sheep; a small fraction – really major difference.

    Some other European nitwit recently came out with some UN-sponsored report that HK people are the world’s biggest per capita meat consumers – even a lot more than America and Australia. I don’t know where that moron got his numbers from, but he’s clearly wrong. Even if he was right, which he definitely is not, HK meat consumption is mostly pork, chicken, duck and seafood; beef consumption is very minor and sheep consumption virtually zero. HK commentators who know the real numbers just said “idiot” and ignored him, rightly. Even the Green Groups, who can usually be relied on to jump up and down about this sort of stuff, knew his numbers were in the realm of fantasy.


    1. To put what that UN-sponsored person was claiming into context, one commenter calculated (correctly; I checked the calculation) that, for his stated per capita meat consumption for HK, every single person in HK, including all of the babies and elderly people, plus people who are vegetarian or vegan, everyone, would have to consume >0.5kg of meat each every single day for a full year. That’s a lot of meat. Even at my peak meat consumption, at my peak physical condition, I couldn’t have done that. So even if you multiplied me in my late 20s/early 30’s, or in my mid-late 30s when I was pumping a lot of iron every day and trying for a high protein diet, by HK’s total population, you wouldn’t get a number as high as he claimed.

      That’s simply not credible on paper, let alone to anyone who can readily observe people’s eating habits in restaurants. So that guy is either a not very smart con man, a complete charlatan, or an idiot. That would put every single one of HK’s inhabitants very substantially higher than Americans and Australians in terms of annual meat consumption, and Australians lead the world in meat consumption. A simple cross check of shows that HK simply doesn’t import or produce that much meat.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wonder if he got a decimal point in the wrong place? Would 50g a day be more likely?


      2. Possible, but he could only make an error like that while sitting in an armchair somewhere in Europe, never having been to HK. For anyone who lives in HK, it’s self-evidently ridiculous just by observation.

        Recently, HK’s Director of Health stated publicly that 50% of all HK people are obese. Not just overweight, obese, for which there is a clinical definition, right? It’s different for East Asians than for Europeans, the body fat % and BMI are lower, but it’s an agreed definition. Hell, you only need to walk around any urban area of HK for half an hour to see that what she has claimed is clearly untrue. You might see a very occasional person who would qualify as obese according to the definition for East Asians, but it’s still pretty rare here. 50% of the whole population? She’s nuts. Stupid. I have no idea who appointed her to her position, but she’s an idiot.

        She said that to support saying that she wants to introduce a sugar tax. Well, she can do that, I really don’t care, and I doubt many other people will care either, but if she thinks it is justified and will achieve anything, she is deluded.

        A concern did emerge here back in the 1990s that too many kids were becoming overweight, but parents woke up to that really quickly and jumped on it, got their kids off the fizzy soft drinks and junk food, and it’s not happening any more. HK people are much more informed about this stuff than anyone gives them credit for. They’re not stupid and don’t need to be patronised; they get it. All of the kids are now on the Internet, and they’re all clued up about it. My daughter was particularly early in learning all of this stuff, because we gave her a laptop and an Internet connection of her own when she very young, and she became amazingly well informed about nutrition and physical activity really quickly. When she was out with school friends and they all wanted to go into McDonald’s for a snack, she would stand outside and wait for them – she refused to even walk in the door. Well, she’s always been a little, shall we say, extreme. But most kids now are the way she was then.

        Where I live, I see lots of people out exercising every day – really a lot, far more than I ever saw in Australia. Mums, dads, kids, elderly, all out there walking, running, cycling, rowing, paddling dragon boats and kayaks, practising Tai Chi, you name it, they’re all out there doing it. Hot and humid as hell, or cold and windy, raining, they don’t care – they’ve all got the message and they’re doing it. If you get any impression at all, it is that HK people are exercise-mad.


      3. I can’t speak for Australia, but one of the things the USA is notorious for is large food portions. Supersize Me was a documentary. I have been in at least one restaurant where the default size of the steaks is 16 ounces (about 450 g); to get a smaller portion than that you have to specifically ask. The quantities involved may well be ludicrous in Hong Kong, but not in the USA. The researcher may also (as is usually done in the USA) have been using uncooked weight in the calculation; some of that weight is water which evaporates during cooking.

        If you spend a significant amount of time outdoors in a cold climate, you really do need that many calories. I have experienced this firsthand, having visited Fairbanks in January several times, and medical staff with winter-over crews in Antarctica can confirm this. But an office worker sustaining such consumption levels, especially in warmer climates like Hong Kong or the southern US, is likely to turn into a fat slob. Which, I admit, is a too apt description of too many Americans.


  2. Very nice picture, peaceful coldness, no city noises, madness and pollution. Great place to have your own thoughts putting together if it just wasn’t that cold 🙂


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