May Pieces Of My Mind #2

Wessen lores
Legendary philologist and place name scholar Elias Wessén painting the Sö 344 Kiholm runic inscription in 1930. It dates from 1050-1100. Since then the land has risen several metres out of the sea. (
  • Spreading traditional Chinese wisdom in Skövde: teaching road diner staff that you can make tea in large Duralex drinking glasses.
  • Chapter 18 of Fleming’s From Russia With Love has a ridiculous pornographic fight scene between nude Roma women who are rivals for a young man.
  • German interwar movie heartthrob Lotte Lenya starred in the first production of the Dreigroschenoper and plays a top Soviet intelligence officer in From Russia With Love.
  • Never a frown with Gordon Brown
  • Reading about Swedish white supremacists I get these mixed feelings. Of course I oppose their politics. But I also marvel at how naïve and uneducated their ideas about national identity are. It’s as if they have heard someone describe what a few Swedish intellectuals believed 200 years ago, without actually reading anything that these people wrote. It’s the weakest kids in class, who have very little to show for themselves, trying to be proud about something nobody else actually admires. As Tegnér put it, all our learning is in the final analysis a smallholding thrown together on someone else’s land, and the only innate national characteristic of the Swedes is barbarism.
  • All around Sweden when I meet local amateur archaeologists they tell me about interesting sites in their area and complain that “If this was around Stockholm, sites like ours would be excavated immediately!” I wish this were true. Because then there would at least be one part of Sweden where interesting sites get excavated swiftly as a matter of course. In fact, all over Sweden the only sites that get excavated are the ones that end up in the projected line of a highway or railway. And those projects are designed to avoid interesting archaeological sites as far as possible.
  • Found another castle bailiff in my ancestry. I already knew about a 16th century one at Stegeborg in Östergötland. Now also Christen Mårtensson Hoffgard, an 18th century bailiff at Maltesholm in Scania. Funnily, the place has been owned for ages by members of the Palmstierna family. So when my aunt married her first husband, it was a descendant of the bailiff marrying a descendant of the lord.
  • Playing Call of Cthulhu for the first time in a quarter century (over Zoom). Horrific scenes, confused mental patients and a tense search through an unfamiliar building!
  • Hey archaeologists, when you suggest an interpretation of the material, never ever preface it with “It cannot be excluded that”. Because that is the weakest possible kind of statement you can make. Archaeology can hardly ever exclude anything. It’s completely redundant to say that. Either you stand by your interpretation because you find it reasonable, or you don’t mention it at all.

Author: Martin R

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

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

  1. “It cannot be excluded that” is a phrase that makes sense in the hard sciences, because you are acknowledging an alternative explanation of your data. Some hypotheses can definitively be excluded, e.g., thanks to the Apollo moon landing missions we are absolutely sure that the Moon is not made of green cheese.

    I can understand that phrase being introduced at the insistence of a reviewer. Some reviewers will insist on mentions of their pet theory/interpretation that differs from the authors’.


  2. Your comments about Swedish white supremacists are just as applicable to American white supremacists. A bunch of losers who forget about the American mythos as a nation of immigrants. Particularly the ones who display the Army of Northern Virginia flag even though they nor any of their ancestors ever lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. Also the people with obviously Slavic surnames who spout neo-Nazi ideology–Slavs were not considered Aryan back in the day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While it is true that the Nazis considered the Slavs to belong to an inferior race, it is also true that at the height of Nazism many Slavs, especially Ukrainians and Poles, eagerly collaborated with the Nazis in exterminating Jews. So there is a historical precedent for Slavs supporting Nazism.


  3. “Chapter 18 of Fleming’s From Russia With Love has a ridiculous pornographic fight scene between nude Roma women who are rivals for a young man.”

    There is a toned-down (or dressed-up) version in the film.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. James Bond was a serious fantasy for post World War II Britain. If I remember correctly, rationing didn’t end there until the early 1950s, so Bond’s life style full of luxury goods and exotic travel was especially appealing. If I remember correctly, in Casino Royale, which came in 1953, one of the luxury items was an alligator pear aka avocado. All of the books were full of borderline pornography which was one of the reasons they sold so well. Ian Fleming and his brother Peter Fleming were both in intelligence during the war, so they knew how boring the real thing could be, but Ian wanted to sell books. He had to make his living.

    My favorite commentary on the appeal of Bond after the war contrasted him with Jason Bourne, a hero more for our age of austerity.


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