August Pieces Of My Mind #2

It’s been too long since I made kimchi.
  • Election season. The political posters we all post are made to withstand the weather. Immediately after we got them all up, there was a rainfall and people started ripping the posters down for rain protection. /-:
  • Article in the current Skalk describes a big sister to Ales stenar that has actually been excavated almost fully. It’s a more than 80 metres long stone ship whose last standing stones were robbed out c. 1850. And across its central space were strewn the remains of an exceptionally rich and very intensely cremated furnished burial from the Vendel Period’s first third, probably mid-500s. Just like the barrows of Old Uppsala.
  • I email some info to several hundred people, and in order to avoid “reply to all” ridiculousness I put their addresses in the blind copy box. Then this one guy replies to me with irrelevant content and in terms that reveal that he believes that he is addressing several hundred people. Intentionally trying to hitch a ride on my address database, yet failing to understand how email works.
  • Syllabub for breakfast, starkers in the garden. Good morning, everyone.
  • The MOLA Headland Infrastructure collaboration believes that the indoors part of a contract archaeologist’s necessary education takes 14 weeks. I’m not sure that they’re wrong. (from British Archaeology #164, p. 19)
  • In the Levant there’s a Pre-Pottery Neolithic. In Northern Europe there’s Pre-Neolithic pottery. (Neolithic = agriculture and ground stone tools.)
  • Two squirrels chasing each other around an oak tree and squeaking angrily.
  • I want you all to make it your #1 priority in life to take new towels from the bottom of the stack in order to cycle through them and use each one roughly equally much.
  • Vilma Hodászy Fröberg’s posthumous 1998 book about library architecture has such a good title: Ljuset och tystnaden, “Light and Silence”. Because that’s what a reader needs. Light, silence and books.
  • A memory. My buddy and I make a treasure hunt for the smaller kids. They need to chase us around to get little written clues. While we’re at it I realise that the clues contain nowhere near enough information for them to find the treasure. The whole thing fizzles.
  • Lollards laughing out loud, levellers gaining experience points.
  • Story germ: a wizard summons 15 demons to act in his vanity play that no professional theatre troupe will touch.
  • “I could care less” is a stupidly misunderstood version of the expression. Now I’ve found “Will wonders ever cease?” in a Sufjan Stevens song lyric. People shouldn’t be allowed to use language. /-:
  • Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo has recently received a PhD in mathematics from Emory. Congrats Doc!
  • Call me naïve, but I just realised that the central goal of conservatism is that rich families should stay rich long-term.
  • Weak geocaching session today. Found only four of the nine caches I attempted.

Author: Martin R

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

152 thoughts on “August Pieces Of My Mind #2”

    1. Yeah, not really the latest. Much more recent work by Skoglund and others in Vanuatu hasn’t really clarified matters, though. The seeming odd anomaly of mostly genetically Papuan populations speaking Austronesian languages has still not been explained.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. To be honest, I misread the 2008 date as 2018. That explains the anomaly in my own mind, because I had previously read Reich’s work that said that all Pacific Islanders including Polynesians are at least 10% Papuan, presumably resulting from mixing with Melanesians before people headed out to populate the further reaches of the Pacific (so, evidently, disproving the ‘fast train’ model).

      I’m now very confused about the whole thing, which is not really surprising.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, the Pacific, from PNG and neighbouring islands in the west to Easter Island in the east, the Hawaiian Islands in the north and New Zealand in the south has everyone thoroughly confused, because of the special dynamics that played out, that just don’t apply anywhere else. It is going to be the most difficult region of the world to really work out. Maybe impossible.


  1. Semi-amusing follow up to my gripe about the bloody book: the English lady responsible for overall editing and production for publication, who is normally pretty brutal in her comments on submitted material, has called my comments “incredibly valuable insights” and wants me as a (recognised) co-author. I can’t help feeling I am being suckered.

    So now I am stuck with the bloody thing. A possible upside is an implication that an attempt will be made to get some funding, so that I might be paid a modest amount for my efforts. I’m not optimistic. With rare exception, there is no money to be made in writing books; certainly not books about engineering.


  2. *sigh*

    Reconciling material cultures in archaeology with genetic data: The nomenclature of clusters emerging from archaeogenomic analysis.

    For Europe, archaeogenomics has already become almost impossibly confusing, and a lot of archaeologists have made numerous (justified) criticisms about misuse or insufficient insight/understanding, etc. when people try to link genetic clusters with recognized/established material cultures. Qiaomei Fu (maybe wisely) tried to dodge this problem altogether by ignoring archaeology and just identifying genetic clusters, to which she attached her own names, and largely leaving other people to link the clusters to material cultures, as identified in this paper. And that’s back in the Paleolithic, when things in Europe were still relatively simple (or seemingly so, but maybe deceptively due to the small number of samples; but population sizes were small then, and human groups were very diverged from one another, so maybe not too deceptively).

    Wait until they try to link in linguistics as well. It is already common to see people in the context of discussing genetics referring to Indo-Europeans as if they were people, when it refers to a large and complex language family stretching from Ireland to India. You would think that people who dabble in genetics would know better. I used to make this mistake in 2002, but never since.

    And that’s just Europe. Wait until they really get started on SE Asia. And Africa. Unlikely to get as heated and political as India, though. I hope. It could still get a bit nasty in China, with the old guard nationalists pitting themselves against the new wave of geneticists, but I think Q. Fu has the international standing to stand up for herself there, and she is backed up by some now very large and powerful Chinese genomic institutes which have been established with partial government backing, and some other high flying geneticists at high ranking Chinese universities who are not in the least afraid to speak their minds and contradict the old guard nationalists.


    1. A proviso with regard to China, though, is that the genomic institutes are heavily focused on medical applications of genetics, and don’t pay much heed to unraveling e.g. the origins of the Han or other ethnic groups in China, i.e. there does not (yet) seem to be a Chinese version of David Reich, who is mostly focused on medical genetics but has an unquenchable curiosity about human origins. (He resented and regretted the time he needed to take out to write his book, because it took him away from his research for two years.) But there’s Q. Fu, and she is certainly highly competent, and determined.

      But she currently seems to be spending her time hunting for Denisovan remains, apparently driven by a desire to be able to put a face (or rather a decent collection of skeletal remains) to a group for whom, so far, no one has the vaguest notion of what they might have looked like. You could conjecture that they maybe didn’t look all that different from Neanderthals, but that could be pretty far wrong, for all we know – they were more diverged from Neanderthals than any two human populations living today.


  3. And in other news, Elon Musk has decided not to take Tesla private after all.

    People actually needed to point out to him the cognitive dissonance associated with him getting funding to take it private from Saudi Arabia, an oppressive regime that derives its wealth from fossil fuels, to help fund his grand vision to shift humanity completely to using renewable energy and electric vehicles. He hadn’t spotted that, but evidently it was enough to persuade him to scrap what was a very bad idea.


  4. More anti-protein vegetarian propaganda:

    Hong Kong schoolchildren eat less salt and sugar in lunches but too much protein and not enough dietary fibre, health officials say.

    The real ‘tell’ is in the comment: “The problem is probably because of the non-vegetarian lunches.” Vegetarian lunches are exactly what school kids don’t need – they need to take in adequate protein several times/day, because your body can only use so much at one time. For adults, the upper limit is around 30g. For kids it will be something less than that, but not too much less, because they are doing a lot of growing, including their brains.

    Growing children need protein. (So do a lot of other people, including sick people and elderly people.) You can’t eat too much protein – you just piss out what you don’t use. There is a theoretical objection to a high protein diet, which is that it “strains the kidneys and liver.” The vege crowd have been hammering this one for decades. No it doesn’t. It is only ever a problem in people who already have severe kidney disease. There has never been a documented case of kidney failure or liver problems caused by excessive protein intake in people who do not have kidney disease, even among hard core bodybuilders who consume insane amounts of protein over a very long period of time. The alleged “strain” comes from the kidneys needing to convert protein to energy, in the absence of adequate carbohydrates. If protein is taken together with an adequate quantity of carbohydrates, in the ratio of at least 4 carbs to 1 protein by weight, it doesn’t happen. You wouldn’t want to try to live on an all-meat diet, but who does that, outside of a few extreme paleo loonies and low carbers? Humans have never been obligate carnivores, so why would anyone think that is the right thing to do?

    The other objection I have is that they need to distinguish between soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre (the sort you get from vegetables and fruit) is good for your digestion and bowel. Insoluble fibre (the sort you get from whole grain cereals) is abrasive and irritating to the walls of the bowel, and can cause irritable bowel and inflammation problems, and the formation of polyps, which are a pre-cancerous condition. Telling people to eat brown rice is exactly the wrong advice, on multiple counts – the husks are also where toxic contaminants, which wet farmed rice is very efficient at taking up, get concentrated. A little bit of insoluble fibre won’t hurt if it is not giving you problems, like a salad sandwich made with whole wheat bread, but you don’t want an excess of it,or to the exlusion of soluble fibre – you want lots of soluble fibre, which means you want lots of veges and fruit.

    So, what does what I am saying add up to? A balanced diet, with adequate amounts of protein sources, vegetables and fruit, and carbohydrates in appropriate proportions. Does anyone seriously have any argument with that, aside from fringe loonies?


    1. It is possible, though harder than a diet that includes meat, to get adequate protein in a vegetarian diet. A significant minority of people in India refrain for religious reasons from eating all meat, not just beef (for Hindus) or pork (for Muslims). You also find de facto vegetarians in places like Mexico: they don’t eat meat because they can’t afford it. Certain vegetables, such as beans and chick peas, are good protein sources. The trick is you need a bit of variety to get all of the amino acids that the human body does not make on its own.

      An important distinction here is the difference between vegetarian and vegan. Vegetarians are allowed to eat dairy products, eggs, or both; in some countries (most famously France) fish is not considered meat, providing another loophole. Vegans forbid eggs and dairy products. That makes it much harder to get a balanced vegan diet. I don’t see any particular advantage to going full vegan. At least I understand the reasons why some people are vegetarian.


      1. Most vegans only manage to remain that way for a few years at most. Plus a lot of them cheat.

        That was Venus Williams’ joke on herself: “I’m a chegan – a vegan who cheats.”


    2. You wouldn’t want to try to live on an all-meat diet, but who does that, outside of a few extreme paleo loonies and low carbers?

      Apparently Jordan Peterson for one, a beef only diet in his case.


      1. Beef and green vegetables, I understand. In his case, he is doing it to treat an unnamed autoimmune disease he claims to suffer from. It was not his idea, he copied it from his daughter, who he claims cured herself of rheumatoid arthritis by putting herself on the same diet. His daughter contracted rheumatoid arthritis as a small child, and by age 16 she’d had to have a hip and an ankle replaced by artificial joints.

        I have seen recent photos of his daughter – she now looks fine, and evidently is married with a child. I have also seen photos of her showing her scars from the joint replacements, so that wasn’t a fabrication. He was badly affected by having to see his daughter suffer so much – I have seen a video of him crying while describing what she went through. But then, I have also seen a video of him crying when saying that his dog had died. I’m not mocking him for that; on occasion I have become emotional when talking about my dingo dying, and that happened when I was 21 – she was put down by the vet while I was at work, without me knowing about it, and then my father buried her body in an unknown location before I got home, so I never got ‘closure’, so to speak.

        I presume it is not a diet that he would recommend for everyone (at least I hope he wouldn’t). I have heard him recommend that people have bacon and eggs for breakfast, in the belief that people need some protein at breakfast time. He’s not alone on that.

        But I have also heard him contradict himself quite a few times, admittedly over a considerable span of time. I guess that’s what happens when someone leaves a record of himself speaking in the Internet over a span of years – you can catch them out being inconsistent and self-contradictory.


  5. TV documentary yesterday about the Swedish alt-right and the surprisingly major role they play on the international alt-right scene.
    Cor, blimey what a bunch of mutants.


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