June Pieces Of My Mind #2

Ackee, rice, salt fish are nice. I’m skipping the rum though. (Ackee is a fruit whose flesh resembles omelet.)
  • Dammit. Starting to miss archaeology pretty bad. Almost as bad as I miss my toddlers.
  • Who are you today? I’m LARPing a middle-aged pillar of the community.
  • A young Roma woman waiting with me for the bus pointed to my paperback, then to the sky, and said “Jesus? Good!”. I replied, friendly, “No, it’s Ursula LeGuin”. She nodded, asked me for a handout, then had a loud staccato screaming argument with her nearby friend.
  • Started working as an archaeologist 26 years ago today. I went on to other things in February and now I’m only doing archaeology at 25% of full time.
  • Pakistani dads in beige kurta-kameez bringing their toddlers to leisurely cricket practice on the municipal sports field.
  • To all students of meta-archaeology and current attitudes to ancient monuments, I would like to offer the International Festival of Fisksätra, which took place today. It attracted several hundred people for many hours and took place immediately next to the Fisksätra Viking cemetery. Two or three of the participants were aware of the cemetery. It is unknown and meaningless to almost all modern inhabitants of Fisksätra. I believe that this is a typical attitude to ancient monuments, and I feel that this argues strongly against studies of meta-archaeology and current attitudes to ancient monuments.
  • I brought a bag of bones from Iron Age graves to one of the first dinners with my Chinese future parents-in-law. Their daughter told me strictly not to mention any graves, just “studying ancient cultures”.
  • Swedish stores and cafés increasingly refuse cash payments. Digital currency. I like it.
  • Though I agree in principle, I have trouble understanding the emotional resonance of the debate over who should be addressed as “Dr.”. Because in Sweden no man or woman is ever referred to with that honorific except as a joke.


Author: Martin R

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

132 thoughts on “June Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Made me laugh: “The miracle of modern society is that salt is so cheap.” True, though.

    And when it’s iodised salt, it can be really very important. (When you sweat really excessively it can be important too. I know what I’m talking about.) Problems from iodine deficiency are making a comeback because of the big drop in use and availability of iodised salt.

    Birger, you could maybe give a thought to taking L Carnitine. I’m not big on taking supplements as a rule, but that one might be worth considering. Results of trials are ‘mixed’. Well, it can’t hurt, aside from the cost.


    1. L carnitine ? OK, thanks, I have a pharmacy right next to the office, I will ask around.
      – – –
      The vacation has mercifully slowed down the election campaign a bit (leans back enjoying the silence).


    1. There were so many follies with the Vietnam War (or as the Vietnamese call it, the American War–the Vietnamese fought several wars in the 20th century for the right to run their own country) that one always needs to specify which folly.

      Part of the blame for that war can be placed on Woodrow Wilson. A young Vietnamese nationalist who was intrigued by the ideas of Wilson’s League of Nations wrote to Wilson, then the US President, to ask his help in securing self-rule for the Vietnamese. But Wilson was atrociously racist, even by the standards of his time, and ignored the letter. The author of that letter was Ho Chi Minh, who ultimately found a more receptive audience in Josef Stalin.


    2. Someone not stupid in America commented that, aside from the tragedy of sending large numbers of young guys to war who were totally unsuited cognitively to fighting, the Vietnam War “proved the limits of ‘high IQ’ people who were the smug architects of the war.” I could add that applied as much or more to the French than to the Americans and their allies (Australia and New Zealand).

      I got out of having to go by the skin of my teeth.


  2. A 13-century manuscript in the vatican has four images of cockatoos. So trade routes of the era would have extended to the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago.


  3. Made me laugh: “The hot sauce industry is going to start donating 10% of its profits to ass-repair charities.”

    There is one lady in Western Australia who makes a hot sauce which is just hitting the big time in America. What did she call her sauce? “Shit The Bed.” Oh yes, we Sandgropers are all class.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There is also such a thing as sriracha mayonnaise. Which seems like a contradiction in terms to me: mayonnaise is supposed to be a bland sauce that some people insist be put on sandwiches, and others (including me) think is used to ruin a perfectly good sandwich. Sriracha is a Thai (I think) hot sauce which in recent years has become popular in the US; some of it is even made in the US (a company called Huy Fong has a plant in the Los Angeles suburb of Irwindale; the plant is Irwindale’s dominant employer). Sriracha mayonnaise seems like an attempt to have it both ways.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Someone commented that this is all being driven by ‘citizen scientists’. Genealogists aren’t licensed to do anything. Many of them are not qualified as anything. This is all self-taught sleuthing by enthusiasts. GEDmatch is run by two elderly hobbyists. CeCe Moore has no science degree – she never qualified as anything; she now works pretty much full time as a consultant to law enforcement agencies, while sitting on her sofa in her pyjamas.

    “The threshold has been passed and the gates are wide open.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Arrests in cold cases in the USA are mounting so fast that it is not constructive to keep posting all of them. In the latest four arrests, Parabon Nanolabs and genealogist CeCe Moore working together gave the police the names of the likely suspects.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. BTW, when Nicolas Moran (aka The Chieftain, he makes a lot of Youtube videos about tank history) was stationed in Iraq, they got bored and decided to add a zombie defence battle drill to the documentation to be handed over to those taking over when they got rotated out (information transfer being important for unfamiliar theaters of war).
    So they had a lot of discussions if -for instance- airbursts would be more effective than ground-exploding HE rounds, considering than you have to hit the zombies in the head to neutralize them.
    And when local Iraqi military were consulted, they had no idea what those crazy americans were talking about (problem: local allies do not know how to identify the enemy!).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There is a legendary story about the dangers of code re-use involving tank training. Somebody did a version of a tank training simulation for Australia which included kangaroos. Some of the trainees thought it would be fun to scatter the virtual kangaroos by running the tank at them. These trainees were quite surprised to see the kangaroos counterattack the tank with beach balls. It turned out that the virtual kangaroos’ behavior was modeled on some guerilla force in some completely different theater–of course those guerillas would counterattack with rocket launchers and the like.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. People have been comparing data on hand grip strength by country. Icelanders are the strongest people in the world, as evidenced by their performance in all kinds of strength events/competitions. South Asians are the weakest. What it looks like is that the average Icelandic woman is as strong as, or even stronger than, the average South Asian man.

    That is really very surprising, given the large difference in average upper body strength between males and females in the same population.

    As far as I can find out, Iceland was settled by Scandinavian men and female Irish (Gaels) slaves taken as wives.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Slightly embarrassing personal note – fell asleep in the gym today (not deliberately). Gently woken by one of the young female staff, who pointed out that nodding off in a place where people are heaving big lumps of steel around might not be a very good thing to do.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. A 4300 year old trackway and ritual site has been found in Suffolk.
    And before the very well-preserved timbers were laid down, the site had been in use for an additional 500 years. The name “Seven Springs” reflect the several springs in the place, which apparently were put to ritual use, with a wooden structure channeling the water to a platform.
    As the Swedish bronze age associate water and cultic places, I wonder if this is a coincidence, or a sign of very old roots to comnon cultic praktices?

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I learned a week or so ago that one of the tiebreakers FIFA uses is the “fair play” score, which is based on the number of yellow and red cards accumulated by each side in group matches. The “fair play” tiebreaker proved decisive in Group H, where Japan (who lost to Poland 1-0 today) and Senegal (who lost to Colombia 1-0 today) finished tied for second on points and with the same goal differential. I’m not sure of the exact order of the tiebreakers after that point (head-to-head, goals scored, and fair play; if teams are still tied after all of the above lots are drawn), but Japan and Senegal drew their game and had scored the same number of goals. However, Japan got fewer yellow cards than Senegal in group play, so they advance to face the winner of the England-Belgium match (to be played later today).

    It was a good group stage for Scandinavian teams. Sweden won their group. Denmark advanced. First-time World cup participants Iceland, the smallest country by population ever to send a team to the World Cup, managed to score a draw against perennial powerhouse Argentina.


    1. My mother had a unique take on evolution – she objected to it on political grounds. ‘Survival of the fittest’ was just wrong according to her, and shouldn’t be permitted.

      Like a lot of people who think they understand evolution, she didn’t. She also thought computers and mobile phones are ‘bad’. Never used either, not once, but had very strong opinions about them. She didn’t even have a cordless phone handset on her landline; it needed to be connected by a cable.

      She complained that I no longer wrote her letters in longhand and mailed them to her once every two weeks. I tried to persuade her to get an iPad – offered to buy her one and set it up; tried to explain to her that way she could get email instantaneously, and photos and videos, and even talk to us face to face free of charge using Facetime (the Apple equivalent of Skype). She made every excuse she could think of for why she wouldn’t be able to use one. In the end it just came down to no, because no.

      Sister offered to buy her a mobile phone + plan, so she could use it in case of a medical emergency or whatever if she could get to her landline. Same deal – just no, because no.


      1. …if she could *not* get to her landline, I meant. Even faced with the example of her older brother who lived alone, had a stroke and was immobilised on the floor of his home for 36 hours before his cleaning lady found him, she refused to consider having a mobile phone. She took to carrying one of those ’emergency call’ button things that she wore around her neck 24/7 instead.

        Didn’t need it – died peacefully in her sleep at 91.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can understand the reluctance to make everything computer-dependent. I live in a place with a fragile electricity network–any major wind or wet snow event will bring tree limbs down on power lines (the electricity company is of course too cheap to go to the expense of burying the lines underground), causing power outages that can last anywhere from minutes to days. No electricity obviously means no internet, so I do not want to depend on computer-based systems for non-work activities.

        But computers are still useful tools, especially for communicating with friends, relatives, and work colleagues on different continents. Quite aside from the data crunching I do for work, I need to keep in touch with collaborators in many different time zones, including some where normal work hours do not overlap normal work hours where I live.

        Likewise, mobile phones have become indispensable. I finally got one in 2006 after noticing that public telephones in the US were disappearing. My mother actually got one before I did, but she generally only uses it when she is away from home or actually making a call, and she doesn’t always turn it on, whereas mine is almost always on (once in a while I accidentally let the battery go flat, or I am traveling somewhere by airplane). The rise of two-factor authentication makes mobile phones even more essential, because that is how you get the second factor (in addition to your password).


      3. I am a big fan of redundancy – back up systems that don’t rely on mains electricity. If you have electricity and gas supplied to your home, it takes a pretty major disaster to lose both at once. Plus have a landline + mobiles, so if the mobile network crashes (a frequent occurrence here when there is a typhoon coming, because everyone suddenly starts sending text messages to every single person on their phone list) you still have landline contact. A dedicated mobile network is better, but only the police and military can afford those. A satellite phone is even better, but they are very expensive, and very clunky.

        There is a reason I have been wearing a mechanical watch for >25 years (aside from the fact that I love it so much), even though it is a lot less accurate than a quartz watch. One minute here or there is immaterial in real terms, and it’s better to have a watch running half a minute fast, than a quartz watch that suddenly stops dead when the battery runs out.

        Professional divers always use mechanical watches for that exact reason.


    1. 🙂

      Unpalatable and tedious, no doubt, but barley + beans makes sense nutritionally – enough protein, and the carb loading they would need for one on one fighting, which is intense and exhausting. Despite popular depictions in Hollywood movies, they were not competing in body building contests, so getting ‘ripped’/having very low body fat % would be very undesirable; much better to have a layer of subcutaneous fat. And the ash drinks would give them lots of bio-available calcium for strong bones, and aid healing of bruises.

      It all makes sense.


    1. The father massacred the indians and sold girls -as young as six years – as sex slaves to spanish settlers.
      The son seems to have been a totally different species.


  12. Discerning the Origins of the Negritos, First Sundaland People: Deep Divergence and Archaic Admixture.

    Originally collectively labelled ‘negritos’ (‘little negroes’) because of small stature, dark skin and tightly curled hair, like Bantu, only small in stature, so people thought they must be closely related. No. They are (because they are still around) no more closely related than other non-African groups, and they are diverse, not a single population group. Also, they might not have been the first anatomically modern people to inhabit SE Asia, but that is currently an open question.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Indy Neidell is a historian from USA, but he lives in Stockholm. He is famous for his Youtube videos about WWI, following the events as they unfolded the same months a hundred years earlier.


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