June Pieces Of My Mind #3

My dad’s mailbox and English dogwood.
  • Funny how “illegible” and “unreadable” mean different things.
  • A drawer full of Jrette’s old crayons, markers, sticker albums and plastic beads has been sitting untouched for years as she’s put away childish things and approached womanhood. The other day I went through it all and collected the good kids’ stuff in a bag. This morning I cycled by a day care centre on my way to work and handed in the bag. Much appreciated!
  • A friend complains about last night’s date. “Dammit, I thought I was going to be a gynaecologist and instead I spent the evening as a psychologist.”
  • I have come to view paperback books as an irresponsible waste of trees.
  • Visibility was bad yesterday. Anticipating today’s improved weather, the County Tourist Administration has delivered several snow- covered mountains overnight for us to enjoy.
  • Confusing sweater. To either side is an inside pocket and an outside pocket layered one on the other. The outside one is accessed from the inside of the sweater, and vice versa.
  • My Mid-summer mountain hiking pics here.
  • Junior gave me a glass of his home-made elderflower cordial.
  • Found a 2013 issue of The Economist in the half-way hut between the Sylarna and Storeriksvollen hikers’ lodges.
  • Messy and confusing when a bunch of organisations send you money, all with the word “Salary” as the only identifier.
  • The Last Jedi is a silly film, but the bits that the conservative fanbois hate count among its strengths. Every scifi movie is improved by a Kelly Marie Tran. And I like Rogue One!
  • My excellent driving pupil Obaida passed his driving test, theory & practice!
  • Yesterday we had a look at Swedish plural imperative inclusive with mökom, “Let’s all fart!”. Now we move on to plural imperative exclusive with möken, “Y’all fart now!”.
  • Stockholm University explicitly moves funding from Elsevier subscriptions to Open Access!
  • Looking at Junior’s flowing mane, I’m sorry that I didn’t understand back in ~1990 how cool long hair is.

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 #3”

  1. Spot the Aboriginal woman. Did you see her?

    Alice Springs is awful – unofficial Apartheid in action. Which side of the tracks do you think that “proud Kaytetye woman” with her “connection to country” grew up on, the clean sanitised white side or among the horrible degraded insanitary hovels on the other side?

    One of my great great grandfathers was Prussian. So, naturally, you will frequently see me goose-stepping around wearing a Pickelhaube.


    1. Well, assuming that “Pickelhaube” is a euphemism, I’m not surprised it makes you goose-step. But if it works for you, that’s ok. 🙂
      I don’t have a problem with Aboriginal people working to reduce cultural barriers – even if those same people look “white” and come from privileged backgrounds. A former friend of mine in Sydney was in that position, and learned about her aboriginality relatively late in life. The knowledge inspired her to learn more about her indigenous family history, and then teach what she’d learned. She’s using the privilege of a university education and comfortable upbringing to promote Sydney’s Aboriginal culture.


      1. I have a problem with authenticity and truth, because a lot of what I see peddled about traditional Aboriginal culture (or I should say cultures) is fabrication, and there are a lot of things about it that have been carefully air-brushed out (at least in part because there are things that were, I might say, somewhat disturbing – it would be very surprising if there weren’t, among people who were effectively still living in the Pleistocene).

        What I see is a blonde haired, blue eyed, white skinned woman of almost wholly, if not wholly, European ancestry who grew up in Alice Springs but claims to be Kaytyetye and ‘connected to country’, despite not growing up in Kaytyetye country (and who, for all I know, might never have been there), with a degree in Economics (we are told) who wants to teach people about Aboriginal history and culture. I want to know what qualifies her to do that, and I want to know how people can be confident that she is not just some self-delusional person or con-artist peddling a load of made-up stuff.

        I am wholly in favour of people studying authentic Aboriginal history and cultures, from well attested sources, but what I see routinely is not that at all.


  2. “…there are things that were, I might say, somewhat disturbing…”
    Oh yes, I agree completely – the “noble savage” myth is alive and well, especially amongst those who suffer from White racial guilt. The truth of some Aboriginal cultures was that life was extremely harsh and often horrible. Nevertheless, I like to see people pushing the “good” side of tribal life, even at risk of sanitising the truth to a certain extent. I, for instance, like to think of my Irish forebears as having come from a land of learning and artistry, even though they were apparently imported mercenaries who were known as “The people of the axe”. Sometimes you have to accept a version of the truth in order to move forward, as long as the whole truth is kept publicly available and records are not destroyed.
    Regarding the lady herself, it’s a good thing that someone nowadays is happy to step forward and claim Aboriginality when they don’t have to. But you’re right. The version of “tribal knowledge” that she’s peddling should be genuinely backed by the appropriate elders, and not just made-up woo-woo stuff.


  3. When it came to framing a legal definition of Aboriginal, the law drafters opted against a definition based on ancestry, which means a definition based on genetics. In my view that was a mistake. It is at least theoretically possible, and it might well be happening, for someone to legally self-identify as Aboriginal while having zero Aboriginal ancestry, a situation which should be self-evidently ridiculous.

    Aboriginal people are clearly a disadvantaged group in health terms. By ‘Aboriginal’ I mean people who are identifiably Aboriginal by ancestry – genomes. They have much lower life expectancy than other Australians, they have less immunity to many common diseases, and they are more prone to other diseases as a consequence of having no adaptation to a modern agricultural diet. I won’t make a big deal out of low tolerance to alcohol, because societal problems in Australia related to alcohol are certainly not confined to the Aboriginal population, but clearly it doesn’t help. Data are needed to identify those areas that need to be specifically targeted for health care in order to improve on the current awful health outcomes for Aboriginal Australians.

    Unfortunately, within the current legal definition, people are able to legally self-identify as Aboriginal who are, genetically, not Aboriginal – people who might have only a few percent of Aboriginal ancestry or less, or even none at all. It has become fashionable for such people to self-identify as Aboriginal, whereas in the past having some Aboriginal ancestry was regarded as something shameful to be denied and concealed. It is a good thing that those bad old days are gone, but I say the current trend is unfortunate because it greatly obscures the medical data needed to address health problems specific to Aboriginal people. So the reality is very likely to be that, for people who are completely or largely of Aboriginal ancestry, health outcomes are even worse than revealed by the data, but targeting those people and their special health needs has been rendered much more difficult.

    Another but related issue is funding and resources that can be made available to disadvantaged groups. Government funding is a zero sum game – the pie is only so big. It is self evident that, the more people who self-identify with a disadvantaged group, the fewer resources available to assist that group. It is an apparent conundrum for disadvantaged groups, because they believe (I think wrongly) that the more people who self-identify with them, the more political clout they have in getting a bigger slice of the pie, but then it works to their disadvantage when that slice of pie is being distributed among the members of the group. Funding and resources are likely to be utilised far more effectively if they can be targeted at relatively small, well defined groups. It does not surface as an issue in the media very often, but it is a fact that ‘black Abos’ greatly resent ‘white Abos’ precisely because of this.

    Another issue is education. Aboriginal education is acknowledged to be a failure. Obscuring who is or who is not genetically and culturally Aboriginal is very unhelpful in trying to identify how to make Aboriginal education work better. Affirmative action in universities (e.g. reserving a number of places in medical schools for Aboriginal students) is rendered less effective by reserved places being taken by people who are not, in real terms, culturally and genetically Aboriginal, but who are able to self-identify as Aboriginal by a defective or at least obviously loose and leaky legal definition.

    To me, it is fine for people to acknowledge that they have some (small) amount of Aboriginal ancestry, and to be happy about that. There is nothing wrong with that. But it is dishonest for that woman to claim that she is Aboriginal and belongs to a particular language group, when she is clearly genetically European (and therefore does not suffer the health and other disadvantages that Aboriginal people do), and does not suffer racial discrimination because she is visually clearly European. And I would be really very surprised if she speaks the language of the language group she claims to belong to and to be a proud member of. She did not grow up in the area of the country traditionally occupied by people of that language group, but claims she has a “connection to country.” What connection to country, if she has never lived there?


  4. *moan*

    Fatal discovery – Daughter works next door to an old fashioned English lolly shop. Such establishments fill my heart with joy like few other worldly delights.

    Far from concealing this vital piece of information from me, she has been busily head-scratching, trying to work out what sort of nice surprise to buy for me. The answer is very simple – licorice allsorts. I have a weakness for all manner of traditional English style lollies, but none more than licorice allsorts. The English excel at this stuff, and the licorice allsort is, in my estimation, the pinnacle of their achievements. Sherbet comes moderately close, but then there is a whole glorious assortment of things that come moderately close – humbugs, all manner of toffees, the list is almost endless and a testament to British imagination and creativity. But none quite reach the glorious soaring heights of the licorice allsort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquorice_allsorts

    Normally, if you poo black, you need to get medical attention pretty quick, because that black is ‘old blood’, and fully two thirds of people who poo old blood don’t survive. They die. I’m not joking. Fresh, bright red blood – don’t panic, probably just a bleeding internal hemorrhoid, which looks a bit worrying, but in medical terms it’s trivial. It’s the old black stuff you need to worry about. So if you look in the bowl and see the old black lurking, bobbing around where a brown submarine should be, hie thee hither to a quack in all due haste.

    The exception is if you have been over-indulging in eating licorice (meaning ‘licorice candy’). In that case, pooing black just means you have been over-indulging in licorice. Which, given half a chance, I can be counted on to do 10 times out of 10. For me, there is no such thing as eating a licorice allsort. Either you eat a bag of them, or you don’t start. Same goes for licorice sticks – if one goes down, they all go down, the whole bloody lot.

    Italians aren’t half bad at lolly making either, just quietly, and their licorice confectionary is commendably good, but finding them outside of Italy is a real rarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liquorice is horrid as is to be expected of an old-fashioned ‘medicine’.

      Give me tablet, the Scotish version of fudge, and I have no restraint.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Marmite every time ;P

        Mind they’ve diluted Marmite, it’s not what it was, if you put too much on it ‘bit’ like a good mature cheddar, but of course that meant it was too salty, never mind the fact that the serving size was tiny so the jars lasted a long time. And no the price wasn’t reduced when Marmite was diluted. Yes I am bitter.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Shameful admission – I did now and again buy Marmite in the past, just as a change from Vegemite when it was one of my main food groups; different, but I liked it just as well – Vegemite is more a head-on brutal tastebud assault, while Marmite was somewhat gentler/more subtle/nuanced in flavour, while still having that all important ‘bite’ that you describe. Both had their virtues. Probably wouldn’t buy it now that it has been diluted, though. Don’t do a thing if it ain’t got that zing.

        A while back they tried to change Vegemite – marketing failure and absolute uproar in Oz, so they scrapped that.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably not that different to very salty salted caramel. Which is just every where in the UK at the moment, all the obvious chocolate possibilities, popcorn etc, but also some rather stranger ones, though of course I can’t bring any to mind right now.


    2. Pink salt caramel lattes are all the go at the big coffee chains here. Don’t know why the salt needs to be pink, but apparently it makes all the difference. People sit around talking knowingly about carbon footprints, while insisting that their salt needs to be pink and mined in the Himalayas. The current fad for salt in everything must be driving the nutritionists mad.

      Chocolate with chili had a bit of a run here for a while, but didn’t catch on and has disappeared. The Aztec nobility would have been disappointed.


    1. So it’s breaching the false advertising and statement of origin legislation in HK, and no doubt numerous other countries, not to mention the associated bogus health claims. Interesting.

      There’s a pink salt harvesting operation in Australia, fairly small scale and managed to avoid over-exploitation of the resource, employing Aboriginal people. They don’t seem to make any bogus claims about it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. An interesting detail.

      I had heard of pink Himalayan salt because it was mentioned in a column by the eminently mockable American pundit Megan McArdle. I’m not going to give a link here because she already has far more fame than she deserves. Like most American pundits, Ms. McArdle routinely attempts to show that she is smart while actually proving that she is a complete idiot. So I am not at all surprised that she got this wrong, too.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Right wing libertarian, BA in English Literature and an MBA, so qualified to know nothing about anything. I have read very few of her opinion pieces because what she writes about is of no interest at all to me, and is all about unfamiliar territory to me anyway, so I can’t judge, but she seems to have a tendency to make stuff up, from what I can tell.

        All I really know about her is that she’s about 7 feet tall, suffers from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (not good), and that when she wears her hair tied back, she looks like an elf from Lord of the Rings, or at least did when she was a decade younger.


    3. Yet devotees will insist that it is not, absolutely definitely not, sea salt. One of the daft things you can buy is a ‘Himalayan’ pink salt block for

      salt block cooking – the ancient art of grilling, chilling, searing and serving on a salt block

      it has to be heated up in an oven then you cook straight on the surface https://www.lakeland.co.uk/72246/Salt-House-Himalayan-Rock-Salt-Cooking-Block They do at least say that it is from Pakistan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also salt lamps, claimed to have magical ‘health’ properties.

        I was entertained to learn that some of this falsely named Himalayan salt contains ‘impurities’ (naturally occurring mineral constituents) and needs to be processed to remove them to render it fit for human consumption or industrial use. So much for magical properties – eat the unprocessed stuff and die.

        I like the flavour of sea salt – modern sea salt, not Permian sea salt.


  5. I seriously don’t like the sound of this. Daughter sends me a photo of the sweet shop. Looks very nice. Then a photo of a packet of Liquorice More-Sorts (delicious looking assortment of licorice allsorts), and then a photo of a packet of Soft Eating Black Liquorice. So, this is looking really good; just what I want. But then she says: “Yours are opened. I took the liberty of purchasing black liquorice so that you might be able to sample the shop’s own brand. It is of very high quality, better than I have ever tasted anywhere before.”

    You realize what this means, don’t you? I get a slightly used packet of plain licorice, and the delicious looking licorice allsorts are hers. And she’s really mean with her lollies. Which means I will get one, if I’m lucky and behave myself.

    This is not what I had in mind at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha – when I grumbled about it, she messaged back that they are all for me. She was pulling my leg, the little bugger. She knows how to wind me up every time.

    I see a horrible licorice binge looming. OK, liquorice, then. This could get really ugly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not in the stuff that Daughter has brought home, unless the makers of it are lying about the contents.

      On the other hand, liquorice-root extract contains the natural sweetener glycyrrhizin, which can cause potassium levels in the body to fall, triggering abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema, lethargy, and congestive heart failure in some people. (Also, comparative studies of pregnant women suggest that excessive amounts of liquorice (100 g a week) may adversely affect both IQ and behaviour traits of offspring.)

      So, while what she has brought home is to my liking taste-wise, I will be consuming it in small doses and intermittently. My blood pressure is on the low side of normal for a 21 year old, and I plan on keeping it that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. But on a healthier note, there’s some nice fresh sole for dinner. I love the way Wife cooks sole – best anywhere.

    It’s all happening – an evening of haute cuisine delights in store. Sole for main course and (as reported by my resident expert gastronomic adviser) very high quality English liquorice in abundance for dessert. Doesn’t get better than that.


  8. Report from the far north. Amazingly, we have an episode of summer, by which I mean what southerners call “summer”.
    Cicero (resident ambush predator) gives the word “lazy” a new meaning. If cats ever evolve intelligence, taking over the world will fortunately be too much work for them.
    – – –
    I do not begrudge the English their football victory, having little interest in sport. Also, after two years of Brexit misery they need something to cheer them up.
    – – –
    Apparently, there will be a film (TV series?) about Spawn. They will wisely use the detectives Sam and Twitch as protagonists, as a supernatural vigilante without social life is hard to empathize with.


    1. I’m hoping England win it. I admire them for their lack of histrionics, lack of bigheads and refusal to engage in diving. There’s a lot to like about the current English team and coach.


      1. His former owner used the faulty medieval pronounciation. I usually pronounce it “no, don’t pull down that vase!”.
        (And I think Julius Kesar (Kaisar? ) was a nasty warlord. Appalling that kids get named after him. )
        – – –
        Wow, the Brits did not get to bask in the glory for long before Brexit came back.
        – –
        Big parts of Sweden has been without rain so long that fodder for livestock is getting scarce.


      2. You know that and I know that, but many people don’t. The Chicago suburb of that name is pronounced with soft C’s.

        How we got from Latin pronunciation to what we see in European languages today is interesting. Latin apparently did not use the letter K (because the C was always hard), and even today in most Romance languages the K only appears in words of foreign origin. At least three soft C’s occur in European languages: the S sound of English, French, and Spanish; the CH sound of Italian, and the TS sound of Slavic languages–Pinyin borrowed the last, so that, e.g., Cai is now the standard transliteration of the name previously romanized as Tsai (I know people with both spellings of that surname; the former is a thirty-something immigrant from mainland China while the latter is an ABC about ten years older than I). Meanwhile, both Romance languages and English lost phonemes that corresponded to the German CH (some Spanish dialects later re-acquired that sound from Arabic, but assigned it to the letter J). There are at least five different J sounds: Germanic (except English) and Slavic languages preserve the original Latin sound for that letter (which was not distinguished from I until sometime in the medieval period), English and Italian use another sound, French a third, Castilian (and certain other dialects) Spanish the aforementioned German hard CH, and other Spanish speakers the equivalent of the English aspirated H. I have no idea how any of these shifts happened; I am just reporting what I have observed in the field.


  9. Single-chrystal boron arsenide has ultra-high thermal conductivity, second only to diamond.
    It will be very useful for cooling computer chips.
    I wonder if it can be applied to air-cooled engines?
    Highly supercharged engines also need effective aftercoolers to avoid detonation, even if they have high-octane fuel.
    And utility vehicles in southern Arizona or Australia certainly need to dump heat effectively to keep the engine running.


  10. Having exhausted reruns of QI and in the process having had enough exposure to Stephen Fry to last me several lifetimes, I have discovered 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown – very amusing, plus Rachel Riley, the lady with an MSc in Mathematics from Manchester University who is in charge of the arithmetic portion of the show, is an absolute cracker. It’s not fair, mathematicians are not supposed to be so beautiful or so much fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rachel Riley is lovely. I also thoroughly enjoy watching Lily Serna, who was a presenter on the Australian version of Letters and Numbers. The mathematics teachers during my high school years were neither beautiful nor fun – they were male, unattractive, and frankly insane. I thought all mathematicians were like that until I saw Lily.


      1. I actually had a maths teacher of substantial proportions, with iron grey hair in a severe short cut, called Miss Pain.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My school teachers were irrelevant, mostly, and my university lecturers and tutors certainly were.


    2. Have you watched Only Connect? It’s a straight quiz show, but with fiendish questions, definitely not your normal TV quiz show.


      1. Not yet – I picked up on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown because of the humour, mostly. British humour still rules as far as I am concerned.


  11. Film actor Tab Hunter is dead at 87. You may recall him from Polyester (1980).
    – –
    The US far right plan to make a film about the historical Roe vs. Wade court decision, and it is rumored to be a turkey on the level of Sharknado.


  12. Military History Visualized on things from Poland to the Governator
    Nicholas “Chieftain” Moran* & Bernhard från MHV have a nice, unscripted chat during Tankfest, while just about every kind of tank rolls by behind them. (Check out the Comet cruiser tank early on, with a Rolls-Royce Meteor engine)
    Surprisingly interesting
    *from “inside the Chieftain’s hatch”


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