November Pieces Of My Mind #3

Lilla Sickla with its boardgames gazebo
  • With three weeks left of my first stint with the Örebro County Museum, I have scored a fun assignment. I’m looking at everything from the Iron Age in the province of Närke, starting with the Swedish History Museum’s online catalogue. It’s for a survey of powerful people during the period 150-800, similar to my 2011 book about the adjacent province of Östergötland.
  • In addition to the very productive Kent Andersson and Kenneth Svensson, I’ve discovered that there is also a Kenneth Andersson in Swedish archaeology who is not a lazy man either. Now I’m confused.
  • One hundred pages into Casanova’s autobiography he is still a virgin.
  • Syphilis was endemic in Central America in 1492 and raged through Old World populations in the same way as smallpox did in the New World after contact. Sadly it appears that modern Native Americans have no particular innate protection against the STD.
  • Space-time is expanding. The universe is like a rising dough. Our planet is a grain of starch caught in the gluten filaments of gravity.
  • I’m glad I bought the scifi role-playing game Ashen Stars and got such a good, dependable group together after all these years. I enjoy the prep and the play sessions and the shared storytelling!
  • The Mars InSight lander has been active on Mars for three years today!
  • Four people who went to Narbonne High School in L.A.: Frank Black of the Pixies, Mat Kaplan of Planetary Radio, Quentin Tarantino, Bo Derek.

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 “November Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. On the topic of similar names: Welcome to my world. So many Smiths and Erikssons and Kims and Nguyens and Zhangs, among many others. There are cases where, as with your Kent Andersson and Kenneth Andersson, initial(s) and surname are not sufficient to distinguish between two scientists; e.g., I know two prominent scientists in my field who could be identified as L. J. Chen. You may be in a smaller field than I, but it is Scandinavia-specific, so you have a much smaller universe of surnames to draw from.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know two people interested in computing, both named (somewhat disguised, to keep their identities secret) Firstname H. C. Surname, who were both at University of Cambridge at the same time (one as staff, one, I believe, as student).

      That was not at ALL confusing…


  2. Before the discovery of penicillin, syphilis was untreatable. During the Elizabethan era, prostitutes infected with syphilis and other STDs were known colloquially as ‘fire ships’.

    With the advent of antibiotics the incidence of syphilis was greatly reduced, but not eliminated because it can be very difficult to diagnose, and many of those who are infected with it don’t realise they have it. Since 2000 there has been a resurgence.

    A couple of years back, there was a big outbreak of syphilis among Aboriginal people living in remote communities in northern Queensland – people who have poor access to healthcare and poor health education generally, but I think the authorities have managed to get it under control now.

    In outback Australia, remote really does mean remote, as in up to hundreds of kilometres from the next nearest settlement. Healthcare workers posted to live in these remote communities to try to improve things are very commonly subjected to serial physical attacks and have to barricade themselves in their living quarters, which are reinforced with steel bars and other means of security, so it is not surprising that finding volunteers to go and work among these remote communities is very difficult. It takes dedication to keep wanting to treat people who are just as likely to turn around and beat you up.

    But then, even in the big cities in Australia, healthcare workers and ambulance crews are routinely subjected to physical assaults, and not just by Aboriginal people.


    1. There are posters in the public clinics of Sweden that no threats or violence are tolerated. I’m completely mystified as to why anyone would threaten the local nurse. But I gather it has to do with addiction and the criminal lifestyle, where people try to push for a certain prescription, treatment or diagnosis. What motivates the serial attacks on healthcare workers in Aboriginal communities?


      1. Yes, same in HK, and what that tells you is that the notices are needed because threats and violence have happened. They seem to be quite common in the Mainland also.

        In those remote communities – well, I’m no expert on the subject. Random acts of violence under intoxication. Sometimes rape, sometimes stealing. Black resentment of whites, justified or otherwise. Trying to demand getting prescription medications to feed drug habits. Anger about treatment not being good enough, or not the right thing, or whatever. Not liking being told things they don’t want to hear, e.g. no alcohol consumption during pregnancy, no sniffing petrol, no excessive alcohol consumption, all that sort of stuff. It is particularly a problem in those remote communities because the medical staff are isolated, so they have no colleagues to back them up or help them out when they are attacked. Plus, if I can generalise about a bit of a stereotype (but stereotypes happen because they are based on some kind of truth), Aboriginal people are prone to random violence when intoxicated, the women just as much as the men, and it just comes out of nowhere – no one is doing anything to them, and then suddenly they will just explode into violence. If you see a sober Abo, don’t be afraid, they are nice people, especially if you give them a little something when they ask – maybe a couple of dollars, or a drink of water. But if you see a drunken Abo, steer well clear. I think that applies to humans generally, but Abos particularly.

        I had a friend, a big tough guy who ran a hotel in a country town, and after it became legal for Aboriginal people to drink in bars (it was not always so), he would get Aboriginal men and women going to his hotel to drink, and inevitably a sub-set would get drunk. My friend said he was never scared of the men, because he was a big guy and he could handle them, and often just use his size to intimidate and talk them out of trying to fight him, and he could eject them from the bar without too much difficulty. But he was terrified of the women, because he said *all* of them carried some kind of weapon in their handbags, e.g. a sharp pair of scissors, and they would not hesitate to use them. So, in addition to his natural reluctance to hit a woman which put him at a disadvantage, there was always the risk of being stabbed or slashed, often completely without warning.


      2. I really should add that some of the most charming and endearing people I have had interactions with have been Aboriginal people, and they (generalisation again) have an open, genuine friendliness that you just don’t get from whites any more – my father’s generation were more open and friendly, but it’s gone now. When you pass them in the street they will give you the sweetest smiles and say: “G’day mate”, just to be friendly. One of the funniest ones I had was I was in ‘town’ one day, hanging around (OK, loitering) in the street while Wife + Daughter shopped nearby for something boring to me, and this late middle aged Aboriginal woman approached me and said: “G’day mate, how ya goin’?” (Very polite and friendly greeting in Oz – that’s as good as it gets.) Then: “Hey, I’m just down from the bush and don’t know my way around. Do you know where I can buy an AC/DC T-shirt?” I nearly doubled over laughing – of all the things I might have expected her to ask me, that wasn’t one of them. Sadly, I had no idea where she could get an AC/DC T-shirt, but she didn’t hold it against me. Then she proceeded to tell me where she was from, and this and that, and we had a good old wongie (pointless discussion) – when Wife + Daughter appeared, Wife said: “Why were you talking to that old Abo woman?” And I couldn’t find a rational explanation to give her. Because she was there, and it’s what you do to be polite and friendly.

        But if I see a visibly drunk one, I’m out of there.


  3. “Four people who went to Narbonne High School in L.A.: Frank Black of the Pixies, Mat Kaplan of Planetary Radio, Quentin Tarantino, Bo Derek.”

    Four people from the English-speaking community in Montreal: Steven Pinker, William Shatner, Burt Bacharach, Leonard Cohen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 3140 Americans died of COVID19 wednesday december 9.
    That is significantly more than the deaths at Pearl Harbor.
    It is twice the death toll of the Titanic.
    And I think it is more than died at…something that happened in 2001, what was it called again?
    So… we have the best numbers.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: