July Pieces Of My Mind #1


  • Two additional Viking Period boat inhumation graves are being excavated at the known Old Uppsala cemetery. One is a weapon burial with a horse and a dog.
  • It’s odd how often neo-Nazis deny the Holocaust at the same time as they threaten to kill Jews. What’s their position? “We haven’t mass-murdered any Jews … so far! It’s all lies! But we’d sure like to.”
  • I am upset that people vote for xenophobic parties and politicians. But I am in fact even more upset that they keep voting repeatedly for stupid and ignorant petty criminals who have no ability to get anything useful done.
  • Very pleased to have identified the Persian ruin site of Tsiel Monar that Nils Mattsson Kiöping mentions with Čehel Menār, “Forty Minarets”, the Early Modern name for the ruins of Persepolis.
  • The Swedish monthly for employees of local and regional government, Dagens Samhälle, has asked all the country’s municipal chairpersons about their role models. Most representatives of the Moderate (Conservative) party replied “Thatcher”. This includes the head of my home municipality, Nacka.
  • Some notes on Def Leppard’s 1992 hit “Let’s Get Rocked “. 1. The production is strikingly reminiscent of Roxette. 2. There are so many funny sound effects that it’s almost a Spike Jones novelty tune. 3. The lyrics suggest incorrectly that driving a woman around in a car will make her erotically enthusiastic. My wife assures me that it would have no effect either way.
  • Boo Vintage Books. You can’t publish a collection of Rushdie’s essays and criticism without an appendix detailing when and where they were originally published.
  • 30 years later I realise why the patois-speaking man in the Zingo soft-drink commercial sounded mentally challenged. He wasn’t saying “Can – aaah-nuh-aaah – have another one?” He said “Can I-and-I have another one?”.
  • Went to the library to borrow a P.F. Hamilton paperback novel. Discovered that it weighs a kilo. Decided to pay $9.5 for the Kindle version instead.
  • Fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, reading about the German Wandervogel movement’s afterlife in California and its influence on 60s US counterculture. It’s the link between Rudolph Steiner and Nat King Cole!
  • … and more summer reading: Edith Unnerstad, Ted Chiang, Peter F. Hamilton.

Author: Martin R

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

48 thoughts on “July Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. >It’s the link between Rudolph Steiner and Nat King Cole!
    I supect this refers to the tune “Nature Boy” by Eden Ahbez who allegedly at one time slept under the Hollywood sign. BTW, would NKC’s “looking for a Jewish song to sing” qualify as cultural appropriation today?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As indeed did New King Coal (aka Chris Cline), or perhaps his admirers/detractors did that.


  2. It’s odd how often neo-Nazis deny the Holocaust at the same time as they threaten to kill Jews. What’s their position? “We haven’t mass-murdered any Jews … so far! It’s all lies! But we’d sure like to.”

    It does have its own logic. They don’t like the Jews, so claiming that the Jews exaggerate their own problems goes along with that.


    1. And the driver.

      Anyway, sample of one. But then, the ‘sample’ is a licensed psychologist, so probably better able than most to give an informed opinion.

      I had a former boss who built a 12 metre ocean going yacht because he claimed it would be a ‘leg opener’. He took ages to get the thing built, like about 10 years (during which it was clearly not fulfilling the leg opening function), took part in one offshore race, which he had to pull out of to rescue the crew of another yacht that had been dismasted, and then came down badly with Parkinson’s Disease, so he had to sell it.

      That’s not karma, because that’s not what karma is, but it’s a reminder of the wisdom of Robert Burns: The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.


    2. Many Americans associate cars with freedom, both generally and specifically of a sexual nature. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” is one of many examples of songs with that theme–it is clear what the narrator wants Wendy to do with him, and he is trying to persuade her that she should.


      1. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run”

        I’m not a Springsteen fan, though he has some good songs, such as this one and “The River”. As Roger Ebert said about films, it’s not what it’s about, it’s how it’s about what it’s about. In other words, one can appreciate the craft even if one doesn’t agree with the sentiment.

        Fun Fact: The name “Wendy” was invented by the author of Peter Pan.


      2. You obviously need my daughter’s “Springsteen speaks out for the working class” lecture, which goes on for quite a while.


    1. That’s because you were hanging out in Stockholm, and not anywhere near the Jersey Shore (the “Highway 9” mentioned in the song is the major north-south non-motorway route along the New Jersey coast). American car culture is a sui generis thing, difficult to explain to somebody who has never lived here. I do not fully understand it myself, even though I grew up in the US.

      An acquaintance of mine who is a Ukrainian immigrant noted a peculiarity of American culture: that even though English has a neutral gender pronoun, Americans tend to refer to cars as “she”. Russian and Ukrainian, he claimed, properly refer to a car as “it”, because cars do not have a soul. German does so as well (das Auto). Spanish, which lacks a neutral gender, makes cars masculine (el auto).


      1. Def Leppard are from Sheffield though.

        The US link between cars and sex seems largely to be caused by the facts that the country’s teenagers are allowed to drive but not to share a bed at home.


      2. “The US link between cars and sex seems largely to be caused by the facts that the country’s teenagers are allowed to drive but not to share a bed at home.”

        Right, hence the importance of a back seat as large as possible (in the car, though perhaps the girl’s seat should be large as well).


      3. “A pickup truck was a symbol of sexual freedom”

        “The pickup truck has endured as a symbol of sexual independence and potency, especially in a Texas context.”


        Note that these two analyses don’t always agree. And there are many more. But the basic idea is clear enough.

        Once, when asked what “American Pie” really means, McLean replied “It means that I never have to work again”.

        I think that this is a great song, though I don’t share all the sentiments. In some sense, it is similar to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Lilke with a joke, if one has to have it explained, the effect is different.


      4. Don McLean has admitted that “the day the music died” refers to the 3 February 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. There have been many analyses of the rest of the lyrics, with general agreement that they are discussing the history of rock and roll from the late 1950s to about 1970. But most of that is educated guesswork.


    2. Yes, cars are definitely always female, like boats. The faster they are, the more endearingly female they are. My father always gave female names to his cars, and his motorcycles. I don’t go that far.

      But in my last car, which had built-in GPS with an upper class British female voice, my daughter and I gave the GPS a female name. We used to talk to it, and tell it to shut up when it was trying to send me in the wrong direction. My wife could never understand this – she said what was the point of using the GPS if I was just going to argue with it and ignore it all the time. Well, when ‘Cynthia’ tells you to do a U-turn where it would be lethal to attempt a U-turn, you have no choice but to tell her to shut up.


  3. But that was a chrome wheeled, fuel injected muscle car.
    Muscle cars were a theme with Springsteen, e.g.

    “I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396
    Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor.”

    With a big block 396 cubic inch V8 engine in 1969, that was probably a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, modified. And only a two seater. So definitely a muscle car.

    I doubt a sedate Volvo or Saab would have fit the bill for consorting purposes.


  4. Speaking of muscle cars: in 1955 James Dean filmed this public service announcement, in which he admitted that he enjoyed racing on the track but urged people to be much more cautious about driving on the highway. One week later Dean was killed in an automobile accident caused by speeding on the highway.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peter Hamilton’s brand of SF is usually very readable, but I advise you to skip the “Night’s Dawn” series, which was just annoying.

    Another Hamilton (Laurell K. Hamilton) started off writing good urban gothic but veered off into writing bad porn, thus ruining the “Anita Blake, vampire killer” series.
    I am unable to judge any connection between transport technology and libido.
    And to me, “bed” is somewhere you avoid eating stuff that easily crumbles . In addition, don’t let furry critters get accustomed to sleeping there, as they will dump a whole winter’s coat’s worth of hair in a couple of hours. Sometimes I find missing library books in the bed, a problem no one else seems to have.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I am unable to judge any connection between transport technology and libido.”

    That is probably because you have never seen a metallic green Maserati Quattroporte 3.8 litre twin turbocharged V8 in real life.


    1. “[brief sounds of sex]

      So I stood by the roadside
      The soles of my running shoes gripping the tarmac
      Like gunmetal magnets
      Fixed on the front of her Fassbinder face
      Was the kind of smile
      That only a rather dull child could have drawn
      While attempting the graveyard in the moonlight
      But she was impressed
      You could see that she thought I looked fine
      And when she turned sweeter [woman sighing]
      The reason (between you and me) was
      She’d just seen my green Lamborghini [engine revving]

      (I think it was the Lam-bor-ghini)

      So we went for a spin in the country
      To feel the wind in our hair
      To feel the power of my engine
      To feel the thrill of desire

      [sounds of sex]

      And then in the trees I heard a twig snap
      Warning lights flashed on my map
      I opened my eyes and to my surprise …”

      The above is from Roger Water’s The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. I remember being in Stockholm in the spring of 1984 with huge posters of the album cover on billboards. Would that be possible in Sweden today? A friend and I were actually hitchhiking in England when we saw similar posters advertising a concert at Earl’s Court. We could actually still buy tickets and, after a visit to Stonehenge (at the time, the stones were accessible by everyone and there was a huge hippie festival (which we had had no idea about before we arrived) nearby: lots of nude people and bands with generators to power the amps for the electric guitars), we attended the concert. As on the album, Eric Clapton on guitar (whom I saw for the second time about a month ago at a surprisingly good concert (and, I think, the most expensive I have ever attended, even topping the recent Fleetwood Mac (a few years ago, with Buckingham), which was also excellent) and Mel Collins on saxophone.


      1. I said in Hong Kong, which has a lot of very marked cultural differences with the Mainland; not to mention that most people speak either English or Cantonese rather than Mandarin, and all of the colloquialisms are different. It’s actually mostly English speaking expatriates who sneer at Lamborghinis in this way. Nice try, though. Advice for future reference: I don’t make shit up.


      2. This thread drift is mild compared to most blog comments. You mentioned something interesting, I replied with a link to something similar and also interesting (I didn’t make anything up).

        Who pissed in your cornflakes?


      3. A cockroach.

        Or a locust. It’s hard to tell just from the taste.

        69HP – what do you drive, a lawn mower?


      4. I drive a Skoda Fabia 1.9 SDI. I recently drove from Hamburg to where I live near Franfkurt. Because of construction areas and some stretches with a speed limit, not full speed all the time, but full speed when possible. At full speed, it goes 190 km/h. Considering that, in the entire world, one can drive this fast legally only in Germany, I fail to see any reason to have a car which can go faster than the local speed limit anywhere in the world. Yes, pulling a trailer in the mountains might mean you need more horsepower, but most people with a high-powered car drive without a trailer on flat ground. Conspicuous consumption and all of that.

        I once passed a Bugatti Veyron on the motorway (about a thousand horsepower, costs about a milion). It had a Swiss registration and was going about 80 km/h. I read that most people who buy them don’t actually drive them. They buy them to show off by putting them in their living room or garage or whatever and/or as an investment.
        Nice car, but I wouldn’t buy one even if I had the money.

        At one time I might have considered buying a Porsche 911 if I had so much money that I wouldn’t notice it, but not anymore. Unless they plan an electric version, but actually their plans are to have everything but the 911 electric.

        Future historians can easily determine when the decline of civilization begin: it began with the introduction of SUVs.

        By the way, a speed limit on the Autobahnen would decrease Germany’s carbon-dioxide footprint by about half a per cent.


      5. There are good, logical reasons for wanting to have a high performance car that have nothing to do with its top speed, which has never been a consideration for me when buying a car. I couldn’t tell you what my car’s top speed is – it’s irrelevant. What is relevant to me is its low end acceleration, road holding and handling, braking, safety, and its ability to accelerate up the steepest hills and ramps.

        To me the Veyron and its successor the Chiron are hideously ugly, and their mechanical design is stupid and inelegant – two V8 engines bolted together and 10 different radiators? Their fuel consumption is ridiculous. Jeremy Clarkson said that the Veyron cost 5 times as much to produce as it sold for, i.e. they didn’t make them to make a financial profit on them, and they lost a small fortune on every car they sold. People who buy them and keep them in their garages are doing it because they regard them as a long term investment. They are probably right – I doubt we will ever see cars like that again. There isn’t a point; not a rational one.


  7. Depending on the source, for a long time, from 30-60% of all Americans lost their virginity in a car. By the 1920s, women had a lot more freedom and the right to vote. Automobiles were being mass produced and increasingly affordable. Young men and women wanted to have sex, but couldn’t do it at home. Their parents were stuck in the more repressive Victorian era. The back seat of car was not quite as comfortable as a proper bed, but American cars were big and had bench seats.
    I gather this is less common with young people today. You can’t screw in an Uber or Lyft what with the driver right there. (I suppose you can, but you have to be in to that kind of thing.) Fewer young people own cars. Also, fewer young people are having sex.


      1. I mean lots of published data that what kaleberg said is true, and it’s not just in America, it’s in lots of countries. Try looking something up for once.


  8. Another thing is that the typical modern automobile outperforms the muscle cars of the 1950s and 1960s. It’s much harder to romanticize modern cars. I read an article in Motorsport pitting a Honda minivan against a Jaguar XKE and a Porsche 356. The Porsche beat the Honda, but by less than a second on the track. Since this was Motorsport, they put a set of performance wheels on the minivan and knocked five seconds off its track time stomping the Porsche. All this, and, as the writer noted, they could be watching a DVD of the Lion King at the same time. It gets even worse with electric cars which have nearly insane torque by muscle car standards.
    My guess is that sexual nostalgia will revolve around all those little LEDs everyone has in their bedroom. “I can’t sleep, my phone’s charging. That green charger light is too distracting.” “Well, what do you want to do? I have some ideas.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, some electric cars are insanely fast, like 0 to 100 kph in 3 seconds. It helps that they have fewer moving parts and don’t have the weight of a hulking great internal combustion engine to push along. A lot of the old muscle cars had engines the size of truck engines, which became self-defeating – a lot of the power went into just propelling such a big heavy engine around. Plus it played hell with their handling and road holding.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our car is over 20 years old. I expect we’ll switch to a nearby electric car pool once it gets too expensive to repair.


      2. I drive infrequently enough that the greenest car I can drive is the one I currently own. It’s so old, it has a cassette deck (in-car CD players became available a year or two later).

        I am hoping I can hold off replacing the car long enough that used electric cars will be available. Historically, used cars are significantly cheaper than new cars.


      3. My concern is charging time and the availability of charging stations. I suspect that by the time I wear out my current car, I will no longer be driving on the grounds of eyesight.


      4. I got my 69-horsepower diesel through the last inspection, so I have another two years. I would like something similar as an electric car: neither some huge SUV nor something with 100 km range as a town car (I rarely drive in or into towns). I’ve read that there will be an electric Opel Corsa; that might fit the bill. Or maybe Tesla will really offer a car for 30,000 (though I think that is a bit expensive, but one has to take incentives into account and the fact that it should be cheaper per km even than an efficient diesel).


      5. “My concern is charging time and the availability of charging stations.”

        As with any car, the size (for me, as small as possible but not smaller), cost of purchase, and running cost are important. I think that range is overrated. What is important is how long to charge for 100 km. If I charge 60 minutes for 1000 or 30 for 500, it works out the same, despite the former having twice the range. Obviously, one has some fixed costs (get off the motorway, find the charging station, perhaps wait, get back on the motorway), so charging 3 minutes for 50 km wouldn’t be an option if I have to charge every 50. One also has to make it to the next charging station, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem in Europe. Obviously, some minimum range is needed, e.g. I have to drive somewhere quickly with no time to charge; for me, that would be about 300 km.

        My main concern is that lack of transparency of the price of a charge and the fact that it is not uncommon to carry around 20 different cards. Anywhere in the world, I can see the price at a petrol station before deciding to stop and can pay with standard payment instruments in the country in question. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for electric cars. Also, sometimes one pays for the amount of time spent charging, not for the energy one buys.


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