July Pieces Of My Mind #2

klippkoja
Found an unusual club house ruin while geocaching on the hill west of Nacka. It’s a roofed crevice in the bedrock.
  • Tarzan was named for the little community of Tarzana, not the other way around.
  • Holy shit! I just realised that my Kindle contains the complete searchable offline-available Oxford Dictionary. 0-:
  • Got the ranking list for the last academic job I applied for (13 months ago), the last I plan to apply for. For once I have no complaints, though I am not on the shortlist. The first two names on the list are the ones I expected to see, and solidly qualified people who deserve the job. The shortlist is also refreshingly non-ageist, dominated by much older folks than usually get lectureships.
  • A French memory. The husband of my language exchange supervisor looks North African. I ask him if he’s a Muslim (which would still be exotic to me in 1988). He says “Non, je suis chrétien”, which confuses me since I take it to mean that he’s from Crete.
  • So I hear a lot of you are wondering how I’m holding up on the purity of my sacred Germanic cultural heritage. I’ll just say this: I’ve got ONE LITRE, and believe me, I’m not making this up, ONE LITRE of gratuitous sesame oil in my kitchen.
  • In a real D&D dungeon, the inhabitants of the first room would alert all the others when the party entered. The party would have to either fight or chase 75 forewarned adversaries at once on each dungeon level.
  • Saw an Arctic loon up close for the first time today. Popped out of the lake 3-4 metres from me, grunted quietly, dove again, came up almost as close by, swam off. Such beauty!
  • Outing to Mariefred by steam boat and steam train: photos here!
  • Rode five railways and tram lines in 2½ hours on my way from Mariefred to Fisksätra.
  • There are X-ray and gamma ray pulsars too. How cool!
  • I just tried to turn the page in a paperback book by poking at the right-hand margin with my finger.
  • I’ve just signed on to work for the County Archaeologist in Linköping from mid-September to the end of the year. I’m going to take care of the Vadstena branch of the EU’s SHARE project, “Sustainable approach to cultural Heritage for the urban Areas Requalification in Europe”. Vadstena is a Late Medieval town that grew up around the mother convent of the Bridgetine Order in an area that had an extremely pronounced elite presence already from the 9th century on.
  • One of my childhood’s favourite authors has died. Thank you for the books, Christine Nöstlinger!
  • New begging method: a woman was wandering around the grocery store with a chicken, asking shoppers to buy it for her.
  • Tried some Hershey’s chocolate, did not like its indistinct taste and mushy consistency. Thought it was a Chinese knockoff. Turned out to be made in Mexico for the US market. I guess each country has its own varieties. I’m a Marabou man myself.
  • Ours is an astonishingly ugly lawn.
  • My meditating technique is based on the initiates concentrating on the sound of them waggling their own ears.

Author: Martin R

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

50 thoughts on “July Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. I’ve started running. As a geek with a long-standing dislike of sports I’m surprised to find that I really like it. Also, it is a very time-efficient way to explore the town with a camera.

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  2. “My meditating technique…”
    Lol! Mind you, the true adepts say that if you waggle your ears fast enough you will be able to levitate. Looking forward to reports of your progress, Martin 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do not have a lawn, I have grass of varying heights right up to full with seed heads, with a lot of moss in places, creeeping buttercup, and all sorts of other plants too. Plus bald patches where our bitch GSD has pissed, you can avoid these if you dilute with water as soon as the bitch has gone, but having a proper lawn is not a priority.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The only good thing that can be said of our lawn at the moment is that not only is the grass dead, but so is all the moss. The few green patches in it are other plants.

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    1. Our moss isn’t looking too healthy, but from past experience, given our heavy clay soil and our usual damp at best climate I am pretty sure the moss will be bouncing back right now as we had heavy rain today.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In the Dean Koontz novel about Odd Thomas the town near the Mojave desert has decorative trees of various kinds, all of them poisonous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Focus is back on skin pigmentation with the publication of a couple of papers, one on skin pigmentation in Africans (which is a lot more varied than a lot of people think it is).

    Not so long ago, people thought that skin pigmentation was controlled by a few well known alleles. Turns out it is polygenic and much more complicated than that, but not as complicated as height. It is controlled by a relatively few alleles of strong effect, and a whole tail of other alleles of much smaller effect.

    Loci associated with skin pigmentation identified in African populations.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5759959/

    It’s a long and technical paper, so here’s a longish quote from the paper which has a lot of juice:
    “Skin pigmentation is highly variable within Africa. Populations such as the San from southern Africa are almost as lightly pigmented as Asians, while the East African Nilo- Saharan populations are the most darkly pigmented in the world. Most alleles associated with light and dark pigmentation in our dataset are estimated to have originated prior to the origin of modern humans ~300 ky ago. In contrast to the lack of variation at MC1R, which is under purifying selection in Africa, our results indicate that both light and dark alleles at MFSD12, DDB1, OCA2, and HERC2 have been segregating in the hominin lineage for hundreds of thousands of years. Further, the ancestral allele is associated with light pigmentation in approximately half of the predicted causal SNPs; Neanderthal and Denisovan genome sequences, which diverged from modern human sequences 804 kya, contain the ancestral allele at all loci. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that darker pigmentation is a derived trait that originated in the genus Homo within the past ~2 million years after human ancestors lost most of their protective body hair, though these ancestral hominins may have been moderately, rather than darkly, pigmented. Moreover, it appears that both light and dark pigmentation has continued to evolve over hominid history.”

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  7. But the thing about genes is that a lot of (most? all?) allelic variants don’t just have one effect; they have pleitropic effects, which can often be unexpected.

    Darwinian Positive Selection on the Pleiotropic Effects of KITLG Explain Skin Pigmentation and Winter Temperature Adaptation in Eurasians.
    https://academic.oup.com/mbe/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/molbev/msy136/5046866?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    The KITLG variant is also known to be associated with testicular cancer. So be careful what you wish for. Or more to the point, be careful what you have yourself CRISPRed for – it could have some very unexpected and unwanted effects.

    That’s one reason I don’t think we are going to be seeing genetically engineered humans any time soon – for most genetic variants, geneticists don’t know what pleitropic effects they might have (I think it’s likely that they don’t know all of the possible pleitropic effects that any of them have). So, imagine the scenario where would-be parents decide to have a foetus engineered for high intelligence, blue eyes, creamy white skin and lovely golden hair…and get a very smart, blue eyed, white skinned, golden haired monster.

    The old tried and tested method still currently seems the best – selective breeding. If you want a smart kid, marry a smart woman/man. But do get genetically tested first, to avoid any nasty homozygosity. Or just marry someone from a different geographic population (I’m avoiding the R word) – that’s a pretty safe strategy.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Meanwhile, I’m hugely envious of your trip by steam boat and steam train. It’s a lot to ask, but could you get me a bottle full of steam train exhaust and mail it over? I long to breathe in that glorious smell again. (Joking, obviously.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My daughter has always been a real little gourmet – no idea why, she just came out that way. She’s far from gluttonous – she has a rather small appetite, and her focus is solely on quality. Her tastes can be somewhat extreme and demanding, e.g. she refuses to eat any chocolate other than Criollo. I guess the good part is that I don’t need to buy very much of it for her, and she makes it last for a long time.

    She’s a real pain when it comes to anything flavoured with vanillla – she won’t eat it unless it has been made with genuine vanilla, which you often can’t tell when you order something; they don’t usually tell you that on a menu, for example. So if a dish comes and it has been flavoured with artificial vanilla essence, nope. Won’t eat it. At least she hasn’t refined it down to which particular cultivar of vanilla she will deign to consume…yet.

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  10. Finally, some rain!
    Sweden has been spared firestorms like in Greece and California, but we have had the worst forest fire season in living memory.
    We got a brief thunderstorm today but now there is a proper soaking going since midnight. I would not mind a whole week of this.

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    1. We’ve had rain on and off since Friday, it’s tipping down now, with sheets of rain blowing up the small valey behind our house. This is jolly good for everything growing out there, though will probably mean more damage to Mr Jzz’s fruit cages and bean supports. I can see the netting blowing around the blueberries, but am not going out to fix it, wearing glasses as I do would mean I couldn’t see what I was doing in this rain.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. “Tarzan was named for…”
    Actually, the naming of Tarzan is more interesting than it seems, and shows how hard it is to see into the mind of an author. E.R.B wrote the first Tarzan stories in 1912, settling on the name after rejecting “Zantar” and “Tublat-Zan”.
    Burroughs and his family had twice wintered in California (dates unknown) prior to the first publication of Tarzan, and reputedly knew of a small community there unofficially named “Tarzana”. In 1919 he bought land in Tarzana and established Tarzana Ranch, which was later developed into the modern day Tarzana.
    I thought that the Tarzana community would have been named by the original (1797 – 1848) Spanish settlers, but it is apparently not a Spanish word. At least, not spelled like that. Indian, maybe?
    At any rate, despite the apparent connection between the names, nobody really seems to know whether Burroughs invented his hero’s name, remembered the community from previous visits, or simply found the coincidence amusing. (Sources – Wikipedia, Snopes, Tarzan.org).

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  12. Non, je suis chrétien

    Ah, so that’s where that surname comes from. Canada has had a prime minister with that surname.

    I suppose it’s the equivalent of Christian, a surname which occurs in English-speaking countries (most famously, the leader of the mutineers on the HMS Bounty). And when he converted, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens took the name Yusuf Islam.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Tried some Hershey’s chocolate, did not like its indistinct taste and mushy consistency. Thought it was a Chinese knockoff.

    I agree that Hershey’s is mediocre. If you are looking for a mass-market American chocolate, Ghirardelli is a much better brand. There is even better stuff out there, but it tends to be small-batch artisanal chocolate, so you wouldn’t see any of it in Sweden.

    In principle the most authentic chocolate should come from Mexico (the word is of Aztec origin), but it tends to have a bitter taste if you don’t follow the Western practice of combining it with sugar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Aztecs had to import cacao beans, as the trees would not grow in their home territory in the Mexican highlands. Earliest identified use was by the Olmecs in 1750 BCE. All of the Meso-American cultures had it, but it remained a liquid drink until 1847, when Englishman Joseph Fry discovered a process to make solid, mouldable chocolate.

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  14. Ours is an astonishingly ugly lawn.

    Most lawns are. Unless you are willing to devote the time, effort, and expense to keep your lawn immaculate (in many places even this is not enough), you get something that looks ordinary at best and ugly at its worst.

    I have replaced parts of my lawn with ornamental landscaping, which I find gives me more pleasure than an ordinary lawn. Most of my neighbors seem to agree.

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  15. “I’m a Marabou man myself.”

    Yes, it is good. Actually, most European (except English) chocolate is superior to American.

    Except that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best candy ever.

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    1. Chocolate + peanut butter: one of those combinations that most people wouldn’t think to try, but works surprisingly well.

      Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my preferred Halloween candy, and something I like myself. I usually run out of it, however, which is fortunate for my waist line.

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    2. Chocolate making is a very complex process that is ripe for experimentation, with now a plethora of artisinal chocolatiers in very many countries, so when it comes to quality, it is more a question of who makes it and how much you are willing to pay, rather than where. Cheap mass produced chocolate is always going to be inferior. The worst I have tasted recently was Polish – very cheap and very bad. I imagine a Mexican product mass produced under licence could also be pretty bad – Hershey’s are into cheap mass production and high sales turnover, not quality. They’re not alone in that, by any means.

      See’s Candies, established in California in 1921 and bought out by Warren Buffet in 1972, has long been an old favourite of mine. They have had a thriving outlet in HK since long before I got here and are still going strong, and their chocolates are uniformly excellent, but they are hellishly expensive. But the quality of both the chocolate and the other ingredients are there for the price. When you go into the shop, you are offered free samples to try. You can’t pull the trick of going in there once every month to get a free chocolate fix, though, because they have long-serving staff who recognize everyone who has been in there. Repeat customers who have made substantial purchases there previously continue to get offered free samples; repeat cadgers who just go in for a free sample and then leave without buying anything don’t.

      Some Japanese companies make excellent quality chocolate. Typical of Japanese, they get obsessive about quality, grading and detailed product information – what variety of beans grown where, % of cocoa, and other ingredients, and even what temperature the chocolate should be consumed at. A couple of Japanese companies also have thriving outlets in HK, also with expensive products. They will also give you free samples to try.

      The rarest and most expensive cocoa is Criollo – Criollo cacao trees are difficult to grow, and vulnerable to pests, diseases and environmental threats. It’s not for everyone, though, because it is low on ‘classic’ chocolate flavour.

      Cacao trees are thought to be originally native to the Amazon basin and Venezuela, but it’s now virtually impossible to determine where they originated because they were transported so widely by people around South and Meso-America.

      Just about any nuts go well with chocolate (I’ve never had a good quality nut chocolate that I didn’t think worked well), so the pleasing pairing of chocolate and peanut butter is maybe not so surprising. Chocolate + hazelnuts is another surefire winner.

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    3. Admittedly the taste and texture are not brilliant (I detested the stuff as a kid, and I’m still not overly enamoured of it), but peanut butter offers a cheap alternative source of protein – it’s 25% protein by weight, which is a lot. Admittedly it’s 50% fat, but most of that is unsaturated fat, and that’s not really a concern for people who exercise a lot.

      People who do strength training need a lot of protein for muscle repair and growth, and they need to get it from varied sources, because different sources have different concentrations of the essential amino acids, and there are only so many food sources that are rich enough in protein: red meat, pork (which tends not to get counted as red meat), chicken, turkey, fish, dairy products, eggs, some kinds of beans including soy beans; and peanut butter just offers another alternative source that is low cost, doesn’t involve a lot of preparation time and is quick and easy to eat.

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  16. “Gun Jesus and the Chiappa holy trinity” (a three-barreled shotgun).
    Ian McCullen at “In Range” has halloween fun.
    – – –
    Since Crete is separate from the mainland, they might have retained a language with more similarities to that of the early neolithic settlers. …making it really hard to depicter the short inscriptions.

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    1. Birger, well done, that’s either an educated or inspired bit of guesswork. Mycenaeans and Minoans were genetically similar, except that Mycenaeans had some East European hunter-gatherer admixture, so in other words some Steppe ancestry, which Minoans did not (likely due to island isolation, similar to Sardinia).

      So Mycenaeans spoke a proto-Indo-European language, as confirmed by the deciphering of Linear B (but with loan words from other languages). Minoans did not, and Linear A has never been deciphered. No one knows what language they spoke, but it’s an odds-on bet that it was derived from language spoken by Anatolian farmers who migrated into Europe during the Neolithic.

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      1. Not unaltered PIE, but my reading tells me that Linear B had a PIE substrate, which would not be surprising given the Steppe admixture in Mycenaeans. They also had symbols for chariots, wheels and horses. But I don’t know what sources you are using.

        Sardinians ended up speaking an Indo-European language, despite minimal Steppe ancestry (to the extent that they are the best modern day proxy for Neolithic farmers), so Minoans speaking Greek is not a stretch, I guess, but I don’t know your source for that.

        Contrast with Basques, who retained their pre-Indo-European language, despite having some Steppe ancestry, albeit less than surrounding populations. They were somewhat geographically isolated and off the main trade routes.

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      2. I’m genuinely curious about this. What I read in Wikipedia is this:
        “Although the Minoan language and writing systems (Linear A) remain undeciphered, and are the subject of academic dispute, they apparently conveyed a language entirely different from the later Greek.”
        And this:
        “As the Cretan hieroglyphs are undeciphered and Linear A only partly deciphered, the Minoan language is unknown and unclassified: indeed, with the existing evidence, it seems impossible to be certain that the two scripts record the same language, or even that a single language is recorded in each.”

        Whereas there seems to be consensus that Mycenaean language was as early form of Greek, with PIE elements.

        The Minoans had a lot to do with Egypt, and apparently Cretan hieroglyphs were borrowed from Egyptian, but not Linear A.

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      3. My understanding is that the Cretan tablets in linear B is early Greek. But the folks who contribute to Wikipedia probably have much more up-to-date info than I’ve got in my noggin. (Not ironic.)

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      4. That’s what I couldn’t figure out. I get that Linear B appeared at some point in Crete, during the later (declining?) stages of Cretan civilization. But did the Cretans get that from the Mycenaeans, or vice versa? That’s what I can’t seem to find out.

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      5. I have seen the argument that Linear B was originally developed for a non-Indo-European language, because it seems poorly suited to representing many sound combinations in Greek, Consonant clusters are particularly poorly represented, but in addition certain sounds are either not distinguished (R and L; G and K) or not represented at all (F/V/Th). Trying to write Greek with Linear B is like trying to write English with kana.

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      6. Linear B was derived from Linear A, which relates to an as-yet unknown Minoan language. Also, the tablets that have been found are confined to administrative texts – lists and inventories; no prose narratives, myths or poetry, and the script might only have been used by a guild of professional scribes who served the palaces. So, yeah, the sounds of Mycenaean Greek are not fully represented.

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    2. Oops – I meant to say that Mycenaeans had some East European hunter-gatherer plus Siberian admixture, which is the real ‘tell’ for ancestry from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe.

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    3. Wouldn’t surprise me if previous excavation methodology and current dating methods are too coarse to tell where the first Linear B appears.

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      1. Yeah. Frustrating.

        I’ve been kind of fascinated by Minoan civilization for quite a while (all those ladies wi’ their tits oot (to be read in a Glasgow accent) and bull jumping), but a lot of it is pretty cryptic. Very cryptic, in fact.

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      2. We’ve got lots of young women doing back flips on Scandinavian rock art and a few bronze figurines. No bulls involved though.

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      3. I should post a clip of Australian national soccer team striker Samantha Kerr scoring a goal – her goals are great to watch, but her celebration afterwards is even better: a running cartwheel culminating in a backflip. Very Minoan.

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  17. “Meet the woman who learned that her mother passed as white”.
    When her daughter found out the family history in 1997, her mother made her promise never tell anyone while she was still alive.

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  18. And the genetic genealogy revolution in solving crimes in America goes on, now being applied to recent cases as well as long-unsolved ‘cold’ cases. There’s now a new kind of detective working with law enforcement agencies in America – the self-taught genetic genealogist, and it’s not an exaggeration to say it is going to revolutionize police work for a high proportion of serious crimes committed by people of European ancestry.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/611748/genetic-genealogy-is-now-solving-recent-crimes-not-just-cold-cases/

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  19. Probably because they couldn’t get funding for a) their time b) lab analyses quicker. In archaeology and related disciplines, enormous amounts of informative material always sits unstudied for decades. A lot of the excavation data and finds I used when writing my thesis in the mid-90s was 30 years old and never before studied. Some of it hadn’t even been written up into archive reports.

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  20. I should have thought of that.

    In engineering it’s the opposite – the money is there, but everything needs to be done by yesterday. You read a lot about project cost and time overruns – at least part of the reason for that is unrealistic expectations and demands by clients/owners. Of course you have the option not to bid for projects, but then you go out of business.

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