July Pieces Of My Mind #1

Piecing it together
  • Almost got my latest co-authored paper into Antiquity, which is the highest-scoring venue on the Uni Łódź list. Both reviewers recommend publication with barely any changes, and the editor says some very nice things about it, but they turned it down on the grounds of brevity and slightly off-beat theme. It’s about the dating and interpretation of 19th century harness mounts. They have been receiving loads of manuscripts lately because of the quarantine. Anyway, this is encouraging for the next venue I submit it to. I won’t have to aim straight for the Ögleboda Parish Historical Society’s newsletter.
  • When was the last time you flew a kite? A friend lent me one last summer, and then I ordered one from Günther Flugspiele. So much fun!
  • Strawberries usually just taste like cucumber.
  • Journal paper manuscript updated and submitted to a new high-profile venue 43 hours after it was turned down.
  • When someone asks you “What do you mean?”, assume that they aren’t asking you to clarify what you just said. They usually consider you a symbol or material cipher, and they are struggling to interpret your entire existence.
  • The Helga Holm Medieval ship reenactment group has run into a problem I’ve never heard of before. After 37 years, their ship is way past its technical life expectancy. Even if the group’s members were still 30 years old on average, which they are not, it would make no sense to keep repairing the Helga Holm. Their reenactment gear has grown so old that it is itself a remnant of a distant past. You could start a meta-reenactment group about their ways in the 1980s.
  • Thinking about the Helga Holm reminded me of another ship replica that was way less sturdily built. Have you seen the Pond of the Plywood Vikings in Skive?
  • Remembered Larry Niven’s Mount Lookitthat. Space probe reports that it’s found a habitable planet. Colonisation ship follows, finds that probe has landed randomly on tiny extremely high plateau, rest of planet awful.
  • It would make more sense to have news headlines that said “Famous artist is over 70 and has not done anything big in over a decade, likely never will again, let’s grieve” instead of “Famous artist who last did something big 20 years ago dies aged 93, let’s grieve”.
  • One quarter of everyone working in Swedish healthcare was born in another country. Among the doctors, the share is even greater: one third.
  • Prior to the pandemic I didn’t know that intensive care often includes the patient being sedated long-term. I’ve been lucky.
  • Fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter to put out a fine new edition of published work just hit U$D 4,000,000 in one day. The publishing business is in a decades-long state of continual technological disruption.
  • You know when you’re a member of a Facebook group about something you have deep and wide knowledge about after decades of study? And somebody asks a question? Wouldn’t it be great if nobody showed up and replied to that question with ignorant speculation several days after yourself and other people who actually know something gave conclusive replies? *facepalm*

Author: Martin R

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

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

  1. As a kid I used to make box kites out of balsa and tissue paper, which were fun, but cheating a bit because they are so easy to fly. On my first trip to Malaysia, I couldn’t resist buying a bloody huge traditional Malay kite, which I thought would cause me major problems getting it onto the plane back as hand luggage, and then getting it through Australian quarantine when I arrived back in Oz, but no – people were more tolerant back then. Flight crew: “Just stash that against the emergency exit.” Quarantine guy: “Ar, I reckon you’ll fly that so high that you’ll shake all of the bugs off it.” My father was so enthused by the design that he copied it and made some excellent replicas. Unlike most kites, they don’t fly at an angle from you, they fly straight up above your head, because the ‘wings’ are shaped like aerofoils. The many varied and colourful designs are beautiful – works of art.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Remembering, it’s sad – Australians were largely lovable, friendly, polite and helpful back then, and I was proud to be able to call myself an Australian because we were always received enthusiastically by the locals when we traveled in SE Asia, but that was 45 years ago. Something major has happened; maybe multiple things – they have changed a lot, very much for the worse. I am not at all clear on what has done it. Some people would blame immigration, but that’s not it at all – Australia took in truckloads of immigrants after WWII, and they improved the country and made it more diverse, interesting and enjoyable without in any way damaging the ‘national character’ or depriving people of jobs, because a lot of them opened their own modest businesses, shops and restaurants, and assimilated very quickly. My wife said the same thing – she said men of my father’s generation were mostly very endearing, friendly and helpful guys, but the younger generations are completely different. It is really very sad.

    Australians today kid themselves that they are still like typical Australians back then, but they are not; not by a very long way.



    1. If their world-view is constantly bombarded by propaganda by an owner of all the major newspapers (and some TV channels) and that propaganda is aimed at the most base instincts, it will make a difference.
      Also, in English-speaking countries they have bought into market liberalism and ‘trickle-down’ economy (connected to media bias, BTW), bringing the post-WWII trend of increasing wealth for ordinary people to a halt. People with stressed economies get grumpy and insecure.
      There are other factors of course, but I lack a good knowledge of Australia.
      Usually when things go to shit, just follow the money to see who has been a bad boy. Also, nationalism. Sometimes, religion or whatever will get the plebes to obey their betters.


    2. “People with stressed economies get grumpy and insecure.” Yes. There is a lot in that. I don’t want to expand on it (mostly out of laziness), but it has a lot of explanatory power.

      Plus the Murdoch press, with its constant stream of propaganda.


  3. “One quarter of everyone working in Swedish healthcare was born in another country. Among the doctors, the share is even greater: one third.”



    1. Probably several unrelated reasons, because the employee groups with the largest immigrant percentages are the ones with the shortest AND the longest education.


    2. This is very common in countries with large migrant intakes and/or ageing populations. It’s the same or similar in Australia, and migrants are propping up the NHS in the UK.


      1. Might seem like a win-win situation, until one considers the brain drain in the countries of origin, which probably also paid for their studies.


      2. That is a common argument against migration, but a false one. Many such people repatriate funds to their countries of origin, e.g. Filipinos, who typically help to support their families still living in the Philippines, where living costs are very much lower. Cuba produces a large surplus of well trained doctors, many of whom fill voids in wealthy countries, and repatriate funds to Cuba. So it is a win-win.

        On a somewhat different tack, refugees in Australia fill a lot of the low end low-skill healthcare jobs that locals will not work in, as Eric mentions below.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “On a somewhat different tack, refugees in Australia fill a lot of the low end low-skill healthcare jobs that locals will not work in”

        Yes, there are some jobs that the natives just won’t do—which is why most of Donald Trump’s wives are immigrants. 😐

        Liked by 1 person

    3. It’s a thing (or, as Martin suggests, multiple things) in the US as well. Doctors who are already US citizens or permanent residents have options, so they tend to avoid rural areas (where they would generally be paid less). Immigrant doctors make up the difference. And US nursing jobs generally do not pay as well as other jobs with similar demands and training requirements, so again, immigrants fill the void. Low-skill healthcare jobs also tend to have high workloads and low pay, similar to picking crops (except that healthcare is generally not seasonal work), so of course immigrants end up in those jobs, too.


  4. So, you have industrial grade strawberries in Sweden too. Most strawberries are grown to look pretty but they taste, variously, like wood, wool, cotton or cucumber. Real strawberries are sweet and taste like summer. There are a few industrial strawberries that have some real flavor, but they are rather expensive. I’ve had some at fancy weddings. We have wild strawberry plants growing in the forest here, but we had never seen them bear fruit until this year. There were only a few, but they were quite good, and they did not taste like cucumber.

    That science fiction story idea rather dates itself. The idea of a space probe finding the inhabitable part of a planet without doing a complete survey implies that we have interstellar travel but have lost the art of satellite mapping. I remember the 1960s when they launched the first satellites with cameras aboard. There was a sense of surprise. No one was sure the atmosphere was really transparent. The land masses looked like they did on a globe, but the clouds were amazingly visible. TIROS, the first weather satellite series launched shortly afterwards. Then there were the first photos of the entire earth in a single image from the Apollo missions, and even now they are iconic. Nowadays, it’s as hard to imagine the world unimaged as it is to imagine the world unmapped.

    Wow! 1/3 of Swedish doctors are immigrants. Are there too few Swedish medical schools? Is the profession underpaid or under-respected? I live in a rural area, and most of the doctors here are native born, some of them from the area. Still, doctoring is a portable skill. One of my cousins is a doctor who now works for the NHS in England. He married another immigrant, a doctor from Ireland. I suppose a doctor moving the distance from, let us say, Georgia to Oregon would have to cross a lot of national borders in Europe. Servan-Schreiber wrote Le Defi Americaine about this to help sell the whole idea of an EU.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The purpose of the Schengen agreement is to allow movement between EU member states to be as easy as between US states. Portugal to Finland would be roughly comparable to Georgia to Oregon, but in the Schengen era the former trip is almost as easy as the latter. I say “almost” because the fastest surface route to Finland would likely involve a ferry crossing or two, and there are probably fewer direct flight options for LIS-HEL compared to ATL-PDX (Atlanta has for several years been the world’s busiest airport as measured by passenger boardings).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: