May Pieces Of My Mind #2

Come on join the joyride / Be a joyrider
  • When I hear about people who hate and fear immigrants I think about a percentage: 20%. That’s currently how many Swedish citizens were born abroad. Think of how many citizens are family members or friends of these foreign-born people. The haters don’t have a chance. ❤
  • Why do or did Englishmen have a thing for women wearing nurse uniforms?
  • Given the Aztec Empire’s extremely awful religious traditions, I don’t mourn its downfall. The sacking of the royal court in Benin in 1897 is taught as a textbook example of reprehensible colonial looting. But it seems that it’s a similar case as with the Aztecs. My cultural relativism only goes so far. “The kingdom’s prosperity declined with the suppression of the slave trade, and, as its territorial extent shrank, Benin’s leaders increasingly relied on supernatural rituals and large-scale human sacrifices to protect the state from further territorial encroachment. The practice of human sacrifice was stamped out only after the burning of Benin City in 1897 by the British, after which the depopulated and debilitated kingdom was incorporated into British Nigeria.” (Enc. Brit.)
  • I enjoy training roses onto supports to help them climb. It’s fun to see them turn any misaligned leaves towards the sun after I reposition a twig, then sprout new shoots.
  • Haven’t noticed the mistranslation in Kraftwerk’s “Showroom Dummies” before. “We’re standing here exposing ourselves…” 😀
  • Wife asks me to buy two aubergines and a small bag of almonds. I’m afraid the grocery store clerk will yell “KITCHEN ABSURDIST” at me.
Lilacs beginning to bloom.
… and the young gingko’s first leaves of the year.
Grass snake sunning itself. Not venomous. Likes to swim and eat frogs.

Author: Martin R

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

30 thoughts on “May Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Re women dressed as nurses, I am not sure that that is an exclusively English (British?) obsession, but if it is a fetish of Albion, it’s likely a taste acquired early in life, like caning. The NHS has a lot to answer for. BTW, I do remember thinking that Joanne Whalley looked impossibly beautiful on Dennis Potter’s “The Singing Detective” many years ago and I’m not an Englishman.


    1. The nurse uniform fetish is not uniquely British; it has existed in the US as well. And while the NHS may have a lot to answer for, the nurse uniform fetish is not among those things, as this fetish predates the NHS.


    2. It might have something to do with uniforms indicating personnel. After polygyny, concubines, etc became out of fashion, the tradition carried on among those who could afford it by having a huge number of female servants. French-maid costume, anyone?


  2. “When I hear about people who hate and fear immigrants I think about a percentage: 20%. That’s currently how many Swedish citizens were born abroad. Think of how many citizens are family members or friends of these foreign-born people. The haters don’t have a chance.”

    Of course, there are a multitude of opinions on any issue, most of them wrong. However, aren’t you deliberately glossing over problems? 20% born abroad, most are OK. So what? That is little consolation to the woman raped by a gang of “asylum seekers”. Some people claim that 100% or very close to it of real rapes in Sweden (as opposed to the Assange bullshit—how about a post on that) are due to recent immigrants.

    As regards haters not having a chance, there used to be a huge Jewish population in Germany.

    Glossing over real problems is ammunition for the right-wing extremists. Given the lack of a sensible position, people are forced to vote for an unsensible one, and it might not be the best one.


    1. Phillip, why are you so preoccupied with gang rape? It is an extremely rare type of crime and perpetrated by an extremely small fraction of immigrants. Most of them are women, children and old people anyway.


      1. I’m not preoccupied by it, just using it as an example.

        Have there been no problems at all in Sweden due to immigrants in the last, say, 5 years?

        If a neonazi murders someone, would you say “It is an extremely rare type of crime and perpetrated by an extremely small fraction of the population”?

        Rape, in general, is apparently common in Sweden. This might be due to a broad definition, to more reporting, etc, but it seems that sexual harassment a) has really gone up and b) this is due mainly to (some, not all, not even most) immigrants. True or false?


      2. I don’t accept your framing of the discussion. The category “immigrant” is less important to me than the category “peaceful, law-abiding inhabitant of the country”. The haters are the big problem. I am optimistic about them not gaining significant power in the long run.


      3. For people who actually read things, it is well documented that the noted increase in the frequency of rape in Sweden is due to major changes in Swedish law. Sweden now has the strictest rape laws in the world. (For the record, I agree with them – not that I get a say in Sweden, but I do anyway.)

        By my count, that is the third time that Phillip has posted precisely the words: “French-maid costume, anyone?”


      4. By my count, that is the third time that Phillip has posted precisely the words: “French-maid costume, anyone?”

        Seems to pique your interest. 🙂


    2. “…there used to be a huge Jewish population in Germany.” No, there wasn’t. In 1933 when the Nazis came to power, there were 522,000 Jews in Germany. That’s hardly huge. Their number steadily decreased from then on as the intentions of the Nazi Party towards them became increasingly apparent.

      After the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, as well as from Austria, Hungary and Germany, Poland became the centre for European Jewry, as it had a much more tolerant policy towards Jews. Of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, 3 million of them were Polish Jews, who were about 90% of the then Jewish population of Poland.


      1. The Holocaust Encyclopedia offers the following critical thinking question:

        Why did Germany target a minority that was such a small part of its population?

        My suggested answer: because it could.

        20%? No.


  3. I wish I could share your optimism about the acceptance of foreign-born citizens, but the US also has a relatively high percentage of such, and the haters are still powerful. The problem here is that these foreign-born citizens are not uniformly distributed: they are found disproportionately in big cities, university towns, and areas near the Mexican border. In Texas, Jim Crow laws applied to Hispanic as well as black people, so this is not a new thing–what has changed in recent years is that people are increasingly open about showing hate for immigrants.

    I do not know how well distributed Sweden’s immigrants are, but I suspect that as in the US, big cities and university towns have a disproportionate share.


      1. Here’s how it works in the US: People who live in areas with a substantial foreign-born population become accustomed to having foreign-born people around, and see that fears of the Other are mostly groundless. People who do not routinely encounter foreign-born citizens never see anything to counter the fears that certain politicians are inciting. Those in the first group recognize that immigrants, especially those who came to the US as adults, often retain the distinctive accent of their native country. Those in the second group do not; university students who complain about their instructors’ accents are usually from the second group.

        This does not mean that some of the foreign-born people turn out to be criminals–some of them do. But I have never seen any evidence that they are any more likely to commit crimes than the native-borne citizens; quite the reverse, actually. The urban crime wave in the US peaked in the 1990s, about twenty years after lead-containing compounds were phased out of motor fuels, and today many rural areas are actually more dangerous than most urban areas. The median US criminal is a US-born white male.

        Several of my cousins live in rural areas in the central US, and they are much more anti-immigrant than my relatives living in coastal states, who are much more likely to know actual immigrants.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. The Republican party is an extremely nasty organisation. Its current policies would, if marketed in Sweden today, never get that party past the 4% cutoff for parliament. Its supporters would be ashamed of themselves if they had not been raised in such a toxic political environment.

      As for the distribution of immigrants across Sweden, the US situation isn’t comparable. You need to compare with the EU. Sweden has only 10.2 million inhabitants, and about 9 million live in the southernmost quarter of the country, on about 112,000 km2. A US comparison might be New Jersey with 8.9 million inhabitants, but that state is only 23,000 km2.

      The general tendency in all of Scandyland is for everyone regardless of ancestry to migrate to the largest nearby city, the largest of which has only 1.5 million inhabitants.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sweden’s demographic trends, at least in terms of urban vs. rural, seem to be ahead of the US. Here, parts of the countryside that are within 1-3 hours of a major city (the radius depends on how big the major city is) are still seeing some growth, but most rural areas are losing population as farms are absorbed into industrial-scale operations. Forecasts say that by 2050 half of the US population will live in just 8 states. That will be a problem when that half of the population is represented by just 16% of the Senate.

        It may be true that in Sweden catering to the rural population is no longer a viable political strategy. But those attitudes do not disappear entirely. The US suburban development pattern has made it easy for haters to concentrate in certain suburban areas; e.g., some of the most Republican towns in New Hampshire are bedroom communities that are considered part of the Boston metropolitan area (the state line is less than 50 km from the Boston city center).

        I see what has happened, not just in the US but countries like Hungary and Brazil, and think that the battle against this kind of hater is far from over. The things Trump is saying would have been completely out of bounds in polite US society fifteen years ago. One of the few things George W. Bush got right during his presidency was to dissuade, however feebly, non-Muslim Americans from going after their Muslim neighbors after 9/11. Trump would actively encourage such a pogrom.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Roy Zimmerman has a good line in his tune “My Conservative Girlfriend”:
        My Conservative girlfriend has a tiny little heart full of passion / My Conservative girlfriend, her white collar and her red neck are clashing


      1. Yep.
        Fun facts: in Berlin, Germany, during the 1990s some clandestine leftist groups started a competition about who could burn the most expensive car. Scores were published in an underground magazine. It was called Wagensportliga, ‘Car Sports Legue’.
        Now this has devolved into a pastime for bored youth from the outskirts.
        Nary a week passes without burnings of random cars.


  4. 1) The US has long had conflicts between earlier immigrants and later immigrants. There were the Irish in the 1840s who were considered the lowest of the low. There were the Chinese exclusion acts in the late 19th century that limited immigrants from East Asia and deprived them of political rights. There were the immigration control acts of the 1920s that dramatically clamped down on immigration from inferior nations like Italy, Greece and Spain. We seem to be going through another round of immigrant bashing. Something about scorning the baser rungs and all that. (I’m not even going to discuss the forced immigration from Africa.)
    2) I’m glad to learn that you have little sympathy for religious justifications for gross immorality.
    3) Perhaps the nurse fetish has something to do with playing “doctor” as a child. It’s an excuse for doing an I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Getting undressed is not just allowed, but expected when visiting a doctor. Uniform fetishes are pretty common. The 1970 era movie Le Sex Shop, a French movie, covered the usual ground of schoolgirls – odds are, the females a male was first sexually attracted to were schoolgirls – rubber raincoats and so on. It isn’t just an English or American thing.
    There are also theories:, published in, of all places, Sweden, and a critique at Slate Star Codex. (I’d put in two links, but I’d probably run into your spam filter.)


  5. Europeans were not able to witness the Mayan civilisation before it collapsed. For a long time, everyone assumed that the Maya were nice, peace loving people, star gazers and astronomers, busily working peacefully on their calendars, etc. until scholars managed to start to decipher Mayan hieroglyphics, whereupon everyone went: “OMFG!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Central America had some pretty grim religions and elite practices. I went to an exhibit of artifacts, and the big thing for the elite of one civilization was cutting off heads. There was a huge axe for actually chopping off heads. There was a stone receptacle for catching to blood since it is hard to cut off someone’s head without them bleeding. There was a special fancy stone stand for holding the chopped off head. I had never realized that there were so many accessories one just had to have if one was going to cut off lots of heads. If I remember the curation notes, the civilization vanished mysteriously or perhaps was wiped out by the Spaniards.


  7. Martin’s mention of Benin got me digging around, and I quickly unearthed old photographs and French historical records of the ‘Dahomey Amazons’, a regiment of highly trained female warriors who were notably bloodthirsty and were in the habit of cutting off the heads of their defeated enemies.

    What I have found out about them has made me wonder whether the African woman who distinguished herself in the Battle of Macau with her skill with a halberd had been one of those when she was captured and sold into slavery. Some of the weapons they were trained to use were not dissimilar to halberds. The only French criticism of their way of fighting was that they fired their muskets from the hip, rather than holding them to the shoulder and sighting along the barrel. Otherwise they clearly regarded them as a pretty fearsome bunch – all married to the king, but they were the ones that were too ugly for him to want to have sex with them, so they got put into this female regiment, consigned to a life of celibacy, and head removal.

    Notably, the African slaves who fought in the Battle of Macau made a point of beheading those Dutch they got their hands on. The religion in Benin required a certain fraction of prisoners of war be beheaded, with the rest sold into slavery to the Arabs. So, if they were from Benin, they were following the precepts of their religion, but getting them tangled up with Christianity and beheading the Dutch in the name of John the Baptist (who was famously beheaded, obviously).

    Well, it’s a theory.

    Liked by 1 person

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