October Pieces Of My Mind #2

Though we mostly had sunshine, Saturday morning at Hassle in Glanshammar was spectacularly misty.
  • At our house it’s permanently International Book Week.
  • I’ve noticed a large percentage of highly skilled amateur photographers among metal detector hobbyists.
  • The Swedish Extreme Right emphasises Nation and Shared Tradition in public, and genetics in private. It’s strange to find so many Finns in the party, like Richard Jomshof. Neither shared nation, tradition nor genetics.
  • Why isn’t White Pride OK? Frankly, because if your ancestors have not seen centuries of enslavement and systemic racism, then you’re expected to have something better than your innate skin tone to be proud of.
  • There’s a Welsh colony in Patagonia named Gaimán.
  • Got group email from my employers. My Polish is very weak but I could just barely understand it. They’re offering me an online course to learn English.
  • I desire few objects. Teapots are among them.
  • I’ve been listening to the Real Polish podcast for almost a year now. It’s gradually getting more comprehensible. Recent episodes have been about quantum computing, Nietzsche and the history of Belarus.
  • I love the feral rabbit that burrows behind our house and grazes outside the kitchen window most mornings. It’s got a good winter coat coming on now. Hope it’ll make it through its 4th winter here.
  • My working days have been quite solitary for the past year and a half. Of course the pandemic made it worse. I go to the Academy of Letters’ library a few times a week though. Not because I always need to use it — more to see a few colleagues and exchange a word or two with the librarians, see something besides home.
  • The 1897 Andrée expedition perished because they had a really bad balloon that crashed into the Arctic. I am passionately, indeed PANTINGLY, uninterested in any details of their last days that new analyses of their diary fragments might now divulge.
  • Dear Americans, let me remind you that in Sweden, AOC would be a vanilla politician. You know where to move if shit goes south. Welcome!
  • Bon Jovi was hugely influential to early Black Metal. Fight me.
  • UK shooting estates breed enormous numbers of semi-tame pheasants. “In September, just before the beginning of the shooting season, total pheasant biomass is about 1.6-1.7 times the total biomass of the British breeding bird population estimate for spring. In September, pheasant biomass is at its highest point of the year while in the spring the biomass of the UK resident breeding bird population is at its lowest”
  • Martin Edlund chose the site. I didn’t believe in it much. We invited 25 members of the Swedish Metal Detector Association. That kind of intensity is very rare in a Swedish metal detector survey. After two days’ work (more than five full-time weeks for a single person), Hassle in Glanshammar now has not only the region’s biggest Bronze Age hoard (~600 BC, found in 1936), but also the region’s richest 1st Millennium AD settlement site. The question now is whether Hassle is the source-critical glitch or if the rest of the region is. Contract archaeology will never be given the means to resolve it. Örebro County Museum is running a unique programme of cooperation, and I am proud to take part! (Sw. hassle means Hazel Grove.)
  • I’ve got a bunch of 17th century relatives named Wankif. (Insert obvious wanker joke here.) The first one is Jöns Nilsson Wankif, parson of Asarum in Blekinge 1656-64 and a direct ancestor of mine in generation 11. I’ve been wondering about this name. And now I find that it’s simply Vankiva parish near Hässleholm in Scania.
  • All the metals in a space probe come from named mines, often bearing older names for the sites. Thus a space probe consists of fragments of cultural landscape.
  • When cooking Chinese, make very sure that you’re adding weijing to your dishes, not Wade-Giles.
  • Remember how great Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy were in the early 80s? Wouldn’t it be superb if they were in the same movie? Well they were in Best Defense (1984). And it’s awful. Moore and Murphy are never even on-screen at the same time.
  • The Netherlands, another highly civilised Western country, takes the path of open collaboration between professionals and amateurs in recording archaeological finds, thus making us Swedes look even more backward and strange in this area.
  • Oh. There’s not just a presidential election coming up in the US, where the Republican candidate is facing really bad numbers. There’s an election to the Senate as well on the same day. And those numbers are clearly being influenced by the abysmal presidential incumbent. Tee-hee.

Author: Martin R

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

36 thoughts on “October Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. “The Swedish Extreme Right emphasises Nation and Shared Tradition in public, and genetics in private. It’s strange to find so many Finns in the party, like Richard Jomshof. Neither shared nation, tradition nor genetics.”

    Hitler claimed to have nothing against the Anglo-Saxons. I think that the key here is similarity. Although to me all the Nordic countries are exceedingly different, from the perspective of the rest of the world they are very similar.

    On the other hand, the typical leftist position is that anyone can be integrated, where you come from doesn’t matter, it’s your behaviour which counts. So why shouldn’t that apply to the right-wing as well? Only if they believe is pseudoscientific genetic racism, but then it also depends on which races are considered good and which bad.

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    1. No, I think Hitler was well disposed to the British people because of perceived shared Germanic roots, i.e. part of the same ‘pure’ stock.

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  2. “Why isn’t White Pride OK? Frankly, because if your ancestors have not seen centuries of enslavement and systemic racism, then you’re expected to have something better than your innate skin tone to be proud of.”

    True. But the converse is not true: having oppressed ancestors does not make you inherently bettter.

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  3. “I’ve been listening to the Real Polish podcast for almost a year now.”

    Even though I had just read the item immediately before, I parsed it differently, probably because I assumed that the capitalization was due to its being a title (as indicated by italics). For a moment there I thought that you were into restoring the shine to furniture. 🙂

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  4. Yes, there is the possibility of a Democrat President at the same time as a Democrat majority in both the Congress and Senate.

    Unfortunately, undoing the damage done by the current administration will take many years, so even if there is a sweep, they will have their work cut out.

    I listened to Anthony Fauci being interviewed on 60 Minutes. When he, his wife and/or children go out in public now they need to have armed bodyguards with them. Ah America, land of the free.

    And Fatty Pompeo and Little Miss Florida Citrus insist we are oppressed in Hong Kong. Not now that the violent radicals have been dealt with, we’re not.

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  5. So called ‘white’ people became that way due to loss of function mutations. So White Pride folks need to accept the fact that they are defective mutants – doesn’t sound like something to be really proud of.

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    1. Most evolutionary change is due to mutations. White people aren’t significantly more mutated than anyone else.

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      1. My comment was self evidently tongue in cheek and intended to get a rise out of any white racists who might be hanging around.

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      2. Someone once said that there is no satire so bizarre that there is no-one who actually believes it. Sometimes it is hard to separate satire from things which people really do believe. Until recently, this was flat-earthers and so on, so stupid, but harmless, but now with QAnon and so on, bizarre beliefs are becoming dangerous. There certainly are people who believe that the white race is inherently inferior, due to mutations or something else. The point is that the answer to racism is not another form of racism.

        I understood your remark correctly, but casual readers familiar with neither of us might take it the wrong way. 😐

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      3. The ‘white race’? Do you actually think that is a real thing?

        That was a very telling comment, right there, in multiple ways.

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      4. For people who believe it is inferior, it is indeed a real thing. 😐

        It’s interesting what qualifies as “white” now. Muslims are “people of color” wherever they come from, but Jews are not. So of course the political concepts of race and people of color are mostly nonsense.

        On the other hand, no serious biologist will deny that human races are just as real as dog races (and I don’t mean the kind that you can bet on), though those might not correspond to what many people think that they do. There is a movement to make this word taboo with the intent that if races don’t exist, then racism can’t exist, which is stupid. Might as well try to stomp out sexism by claiming that sexes don’t exist, or all people are of the same sex.
        In general, one shouldn’t try to get “ought” from “is”. The fact that human races exist no more justifies racism than the fact that humans have different hair and eye colours justifies discrimination on that basis. There have actually been proposals to remove the reference to race, ethnicity, etc/I>. from anti-discrimination laws, which means that racists could not longer be prosecuted based on such laws; it is completely stupid to think that such matters would end racism.

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      5. I have never heard or seen anyone anywhere say anything like ‘the white race is inferior’ or ‘white people are inferior’. Where are you getting this from? Which people are saying it?

        The only people I have ever seen refer to ‘the white race’ have been white supremacists, who are deluded enough to believe there is such a thing, and that it can be scientifically defined.

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      6. Google found this for me in about 5 seconds: https://torontosun.com/2017/02/11/black-lives-matter-co-founder-appears-to-label-white-people-defects

        I’m not saying that it is mainstream thinking, merely that such thinking exists. It also references the “mutant” stuff.

        “The only people I have ever seen refer to ‘the white race’ have been white supremacists, who are deluded enough to believe there is such a thing, and that it can be scientifically defined.”

        Again, the main point is that even if it can be scientifically defined (and any serious biologist will acknowledge the existence of various human races, though “white” is probably not one of them), then it in no way justifies racism. (Even if one could scientifically prove that one race, or group, or whatever really is genetically inferior, it still wouldn’t justify racism.)

        To repeat myself: many people avoid the word “race” because they think that belief in race (whether well founded or not) is the cause of racism. True, racism could not exist without races, but denying that they exist when they do doesn’t help (bad arguments rarely do), and, again, the main point is that the existence of races does not justify racism any more than the existence of sexes justifies sexism.

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    2. Oh, so Toronto is the centre of the world now. That hardly counts as any kind of mainstream thing – it’s one crazy woman in Toronto who writes humxn for humans, so I think she can be discounted as having any view worth bothering to read. I need to see a lot more than that to persuade me that this is a real and significant thing.

      Jerry Coyne is actually not very good on population genetics, he has been overtaken by far too many other people who are much better. He’s frankly passé. And you had to go back to 2012 to find that. The field of human genetics has moved very fast and very far since then. I very much doubt that would be regarded as the consensus among geneticists today. You really need to update your reading – no one takes Coyne very seriously any more.

      A huge amount has been learned about population genetics over the past 20 years, and what it all points to is that even the biological term ‘race’ (as opposed to the social construction of race) cannot sensibly by applied to modern humans in any sound scientific sense. And there isn’t any need to, when you can type someone’s whole genome for less than US$1,000 (probably less by now). What you find when you look at whole genomes, and uniparental markers, is that groups of humans are heterogeneous at every scale, so there is no group you can fit neatly into a ‘race’ box.

      The classic stupidity is of course the US Census, which classifies Portuguese as ‘white’, but not Spanish people. But north Africans are ‘white’. So, north Africans are ‘white’, but Spanish people are not. And Koreans are not, even though they are whiter than white people. So, white is not actually a skin colour descriptor, it signifies something else. But what is that something else?

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      1. Coyne has written newer stuff on the same theme, and criticizing the “race is a political construct” stuff. Some people don’t agree with him? Big deal. Again, don’t get hung up on “white race” or the political use of the term. It is a biological term which can be abused politically and socially, just like sex, but pretending that it doesn’t exist won’t help anything.

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      2. No, ‘white race’ is not a biological term. That you seem to think it is, is very telling.

        And what does the word ‘consensus’ mean to you?

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      3. “That hardly counts as any kind of mainstream thing – it’s one crazy woman in Toronto who writes humxn for humans, so I think she can be discounted as having any view worth bothering to read. I need to see a lot more than that to persuade me that this is a real and significant thing.”

        It is real, in that it exists. I never claimed that it was significant. However, it is not the only example.

        Where did I claim that “white race” is a valid biological term?

        If you think that there is a consensus among biologists on this point, point me to a (freely available) paper in a respected journal saying so.

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      4. “Again, don’t get hung up on “white race” or the political use of the term. It is a biological term which can be abused politically and socially, just like sex, but pretending that it doesn’t exist won’t help anything.”

        And I said “white race is not a biological term”, which it isn’t. You said it is, I said it isn’t. You can try to use as much sophistry as you like, but you can’t wriggle out of what you have just written.

        Not biologists, geneticists, who are a specialist subset. I know, my daughter is one.

        The most prolific researcher in population genetics is David Reich, although there are some other really good ones. If you are going to take anyone as ‘the authority’ then it should probably be him. If you have not read his book Who We Are and How We Got Here, you really should.

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      5. Of course it is a biological term, almost by definition. But I wrote repeatedly that “white race” is not a term you would expect a serious biologist to use.

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      6. It is not a term I would expect any biologist to use, because it is not scientifically valid. To anyone who understands anything about human population genetics, that is abundantly self evident.

        I have been posting links on this blog to papers and articles about human origins and population genetics for more years than I can remember. If you haven’t even bothered to scan the abstracts, that’s your loss. Don’t ask me for a single reference now. Read David Reich’s book.

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  6. “There’s not just a presidential election coming up in the US, where the Republican candidate is facing really bad numbers. There’s an election to the Senate as well on the same day.”

    All U.S. elections are on the same day: federal, state, county, local. The presidential election is every 4 years. Every two years the entire House of Representatives is elected. Senators are elected for six years, but every two years one-third are elected. Governors, state representatives, sheriffs, judges—everything on one day. Not every office is elected everywhere every year, but if it is, then on election day.

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  7. One of my favorite cookbooks is by a black American, Edna Lewis, who grew up in rural Virginia. Her recipe for guinea fowl notes that the birds were raised like farm animals but shot as game. They can fly, unlike chickens. Perhaps the scale of a traditional French or English pheasant shooting party is different, but the custom of raising animals for food, then killing them as if hunting spans continents and cultures. It may tell us something about the origins of domestic animals.

    The science of race is politically touchy, especially now that we have so much data on genetic history and distribution. There are genetic clines in Europe, China and India that tell fascinating stories of conquest, interbreeding and replacement. These do not line up well with popular political or racial theories, but there they are. (Out of curiosity, I’ll ask if you gather human remains for genetic testing on your digs? You may find some surprises.)

    The whole point of racial “science” is political, as a way of allocating power and resources. The Romans argued that they deserved to rule since those to the north were big, dumb barbarians and those to the south were civilized enough, but lazy and too clever by half. That, and that they had kick ass legions. It wasn’t all that long ago that French speaking Canadians in Quebec would be told to “speak white”. The anti-French racial prejudice in books like Anne of Green Gables is sometimes jarring. They’re rather sweet stories otherwise.

    Jews may be technically “white” nowadays, but the racists loathe them just fine.

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    1. Last time I excavated a non-cremated grave was in 1993. But I follow Swedish aDNA research with great interest! My own mitochondria are Finnish and my Y chromosomes are from southern England.

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      1. Did they give you any time windows for your uniparental haplogroups? And did they identify mtDNA as Finnish qua Finnish, or just someone located in Finland?

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      2. Very easily.

        I’m not going to spend hours writing you an explanation. If you don’t know this by now, then you don’t.

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      3. Suppose a woman conceives children in several different places, either by one man or several. Either you are saying that it is possible to tell the country of conception via mitochondrial DNA, or your expression is unclear (probably not just to me). Alternatively, look at the descendants of several people conceived at the same place, but by people from various places just passing through for a short time. Clearly, the first can be determined to some degree, but the second?

        Or maybe “Finnish qua Finnish” means “Finnish a long way back” and “just someone located in Finland” refers to, for example, people of Swedish descent in Finland but who have been there long enough for their mitochondrial DNA to have drifted away.

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  8. My closest Y-chromosome matches have earliest known patrilineal ancestors clustering in S England, and still largely live there themselves too. When I asked an earlier version of the FTDNA web site to do some calculations I was told that the split between the closest matches in England and me is likely to have happened around AD 1500. My closest mitochondrial matches cluster in central-southern Finland in the same manner. There was large-scale state-sponsored Finn colonisation in mainland Sweden around AD 1600. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Finns

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    1. I had heard of them before, but read the Wikipedia article, which took me to one about Tage Erlander (which I had read before). The positive changes in Sweden between the 1930s and the 1970s were truly remarkable. If given the choice of where and when to live, it would definitely be now (many reasons, but medicine alone would be enough) and in Germany or perhaps the Netherlands, but if I were able to choose where to live during the middle of the twentieth century then, based on what I know, it would be Sweden. Do you ever long for the good old days? Or are you too young to remember them?

      I’ve been to Sweden 32 times (between 1983 and 2015—time to get back!) for a total of about 40 weeks or so, so I experienced the tail end of the good old days to some extent.

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      1. Hard to beat Sweden when you’re talking about where to live during World War II and its aftermath! I would not prefer Germany or the Netherlands today. I’d like to live in New Zealand from 1 October to 31 March every year so I’d constantly be in temperate spring and summer and in a well-organised country where I speak the language.

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