June Pieces Of My Mind #2

Archipelago Ship Day: passenger steamers built in 1868-1910, and Waxholm’s Fortress in the background.
  • First roses of the year. The plebeian rose that I’ve trained onto the back wall of the neighbour’s garden shed is thanking me by blooming for the first time in years. The New Dawn also has a lot of buds opening but suffers from bugs.
  • Ringo Starr’s naïvist song “Don’t Pass Me By” on the White Album was released as a single in Scandinavia and peaked at number one in Denmark.
  • Cousin E is getting wise: “When I was a little kid they asked us in school what we wanted to be. I said ‘President of the United States, because that must be the wisest, most highly qualified man in the world.’ Now I know better.”
  • We like to donate books and magazines to our local library. Sadly the Conservative municipal majority has privatised all our libraries, so continued donations of ours would go straight to the shareholders.
  • After three high school years in Sweden, Cousin E is spending summer in China and then moving to Bristol to read maths. Jrette is entering the nat-sci programme at our local high school, whose admittance requirements are pretty serious.
  • Moa, the giant birds of New Zealand, had no wings. Not even vestigial bones remained of their front extremities.
  • Really good audience at my talk at the RepliCon scifi convention in Västerås. Interested and cheerful. Place almost packed. Though I make no money from archaeology now, it’s always good to find that people are interested in what I can contribute.
  • Because of the inland ice, the ecosystem of the Stockholm area is only 10,000 years old. People were part of it from the start. Domestic animals have been for 6,000 years.
At Fisksätra’s International Festival


Author: Martin R

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

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

  1. Wow, your first roses! Our local wild roses are passing, and our garden roses, all modern hybrids, have been blooming for weeks. It sounds like spring comes late to Sweden.
    I’m sort of wondering. Cousin E is planning on school in Bristol in a year or so. How is that supposed to work with Brexit? Sweden might not even have diplomatic relations with England, or whatever is left of it, by then. If he/she has a Plan B, he’s two steps ahead of anyone in the UK.
    It’s sad to hear about your library. Somehow or another, probably because it would be hard to make a big pile of money, corporations haven’t been taking over our libraries. We have a pretty good one for a town our size. There’s a great view of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and Canada beyond from the main reading room.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. He’s a Chinese student applying to enter a UK university. I don’t see why Brexit should come into it at all.

        The fact that he has completed his schooling in Sweden is a detail, provided his exam achievements are recognized, which they must be if he has been offered a place; there must be many similar cases of Chinese students completing schooling in countries other than China before applying to UK, US, Canadian and Australian universities. Well, I know there are.

        The tuition fees for overseas students at UK universities, certainly for nationals from outside of Europe, would be unaffected by Brexit. Maybe for students who are European nationals there might be some effect from Brexit, but I don’t see why that would apply to Cousin E – he would be counted as a Chinese national (unless he has acquired Swedish nationality and has applied as a Swedish national, which seems unlikely).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As for Sweden no longer having diplomatic relations with the UK after Brexit happens, that is complete nonsense. The UK has diplomatic relations with Russia and China.


      3. Affiliation? Does that mean he has dual Chinese/Swedish nationality? (Possible – it depends on whether Sweden granted him Swedish nationality on the grounds that his parents were both Swedish nationals. The Chinese wouldn’t care – they regard him as a Chinese national, no matter what.) Otherwise, I don’t understand what ‘affiliation’ means in this context.

        Then maybe it depends on whether he applied to attend Bristol as a Chinese national or as a Swedish national (if he has dual nationality, he could do either). If he applied as a Chinese national, then Brexit will have no effect at all. If he applied as a Swedish national, then it depends on whether nationals of EU member countries got some reduction in tuition fees at UK universities or not under some EU agreement – I have no idea. But if they did, then maybe after Brexit is effected, it would mean he would have to pay full tuition rates for overseas students, which Chinese students already have to pay.

        OTOH, if there has been no reduction in tuition fees at UK universities for nationals of EU countries, then nothing will change after Brexit.

        I see no other implications.


      4. There is also the matter of visa requirements. If Cousin E is considered a Chinese national, he either already has or will have obtained the necessary visa. If he is considered Swedish, he will need to obtain a visa, because free movement across the UK’s borders is one of the things that goes away with Brexit. And he needs to prepare for that now, because there will be thousands of EU nationals attending UK universities who will need similar visas, with finite manpower for processing all of those visa applications.

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      5. Good thought, Eric. When Brexit finally actually happens (assuming it ever does), it seems fairly predictable that the associated processes will be a chaotic mess, given the way things have progressed (or not) so far. I can only hope for Cousin E’s sake that it proves to be straightforward and lacking in difficulty for him (as the issue of a student visa should be, given that they are issued every year to a veritable army of students from non-EU countries).

        One would like to think that the universities will assist incoming students with any necessary bureaucratic procedures as much as possible. But if my daughter’s experience with Australian universities is anything to go by, the academic staff are totally hands off, and the administrative staff are all ‘jobs worth’ types who don’t know what they are doing, and don’t care that they don’t know what they are doing. Students are regarded as nuisances to be shrugged off, rather than being the whole point of the exercise. OK, students + research, but given that all of the actual work that goes into the research is performed by students, and that the funding that universities need to stay in business largely comes from the students’ tuition fees (at least in the UK and Australia, where large endowments are less of a thing than in the ivy league universities in the USA), it seems like their attendance and participation should be facilitated as much as possible, rather than having every possible bureaucratic hurdle placed in their paths, complicated by every possible administrative screw-up.

        You would think that my daughter would be a straightforward case – an Australian citizen attending an Australian university. But no, she wasn’t, because she wasn’t bog standard and therefore didn’t conform neatly with all of the expected norms – she was an Australian citizen who was ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia (of which there are numerous). She didn’t have a student loan, she was self-funded (OK, Dad-funded, but that’s an irrelevant quibble) – also not bog standard (actually very non-standard; almost all Australian students take out student loans; the fact that she didn’t have one was seen as grounds for suspicion, of what it was impossible to tell). Having turned up for her graduation and award of her pass degree and deciding that the whole thing was a tedious and pretentious waste of time, she elected the following year to have her honours degree awarded in absentia (which the rules permitted her to do, at least on paper), rather than flying to Perth especially for the non-event, hiring the requisite ridiculous academic gown and hood, etc.

        All of that was just much too hard for the administrative staff to cope with or think their way through, so when various difficulties arose (such as them mailing her degree certificate and transcript to the wrong address – they mailed it to some anonymous address in another Australian city > 2,000 English miles away; we have no idea where they got that from, but they were very reluctant to even admit that they had screwed up mightily in a way that was very difficult to imagine), their reaction was to just try to fob her off and tell her to travel to this unknown address and collect the documents from there herself. She had to prove to them that she had given them her home/mailing address in Hong Kong, something she had obviously been required to do, and nowhere had she given them this mysterious address in another Australian city which they got from no one knows where, before they would reluctantly agree to issue her with a replacement set of documents to the mailing address they had been given specifically for the purpose.

        I can only hope that UK universities are better in this regard, but I’m not confident. The burgeoning army of administrative staff at universities seem to be very similar the world over.


      6. I might note in passing, in case anyone thinks there is anything wrong with dual nationality (there isn’t, it’s perfectly legal and the world would be a better place if a lot more people had it), my daughter has triple nationality. She didn’t go around trying to collect to them, they were automatically conferred on her by various laws without her having any say in the process. She didn’t even realize she had three nationalities until she turned 11 and went to apply for a permanent HK Identity Card, and the helpful HK Immigration Officer informed her that she had them. Up until then, she was under the impression she had only one, Australian, of which she (actually my wife and me, she being a newborn baby at the time) was informed by the Australian Consulate and which was conferred on her by legal right the moment she was born, by virtue of having an Australian father born in Australia.


      7. “I might note in passing, in case anyone thinks there is anything wrong with dual nationality (there isn’t, it’s perfectly legal and the world would be a better place if a lot more people had it), my daughter has triple nationality.”

        Whether or not is legal depends on the countries involved. I’m pretty familiar with this: my wife and I both immigrated to Germany and gave up our previous citizenships (which was required; there are several ways to have German citizenship and others as well, but not for us, not that I minded); all of my children have two.

        As to whether the world would be better if more people had dual nationality, I don’t know. It’s obviously an advantage, otherwise most people who have dual citizenship wouldn’t, and often comes about due to reasons other than accomplishments of the person involved. There is enough inequality already.


      8. I say I think the world would be a better place because it tends to balance against any tendencies towards xenophobia and hyper-nationalism, and promotes international understanding and getting along. I think people who have multiple citizenship tend to think of themselves as global citizens first, while being perfectly loyal and law abiding citizens of whichever country they reside in, for the most part (excluding the occasional bad egg – there are some obvious exceptions).


      9. Plus I have to say I think your view of it is pretty weird – inequality? Like, unfair advantage? Well, the more people who have them, the less inequality there will be. Plus a lot of them are of no use to the people concerned. My daughter’s third nationality is of absolutely no use to her, and she actually doesn’t want it; same with my wife. Same with me – I have a second nationality that is no use to me and which I don’t want.

        Many people who have multiple nationalities don’t seek them, they are conferred on them whether they want them or not, and if they wish to divest themselves of any of them they normally have to go through some formal legal process to get rid of them which costs them time, effort and money, and can actually be quite difficult.

        And if you are ethnic Chinese, you are clean out of luck – there’s no way to get rid of Chinese nationality that China will recognize.


  2. My trips to NE China have surprised me – they grow the most absolutely beautiful roses up there, and they are everywhere.

    Certain vital services are too important to risk privatising, and public libraries are one of them.

    Australia privatising its power supplies was a catastrophic mistake.

    Liked by 1 person

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