February Pieces Of My Mind #1

Skiing on Lake Dammsjön
  • I never expected stupid, ignorant and rude people to become such a political problem.
  • Latest bread batch: sourdough, leftover lager beer, whole grain wheat, sunflower seeds.
  • I sure hope the new Mars rover lands OK, but I don’t quite understand what it’s got to do with Perverse Ear Ants.
  • My kids and possibly myself should be around for the centennial of the first moon landing. That’s pretty scifi.
  • Movie: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988). Fatherless boy grows up in the projection room of his small town’s only cinema, forging a close relationship with the childless projectionist. Grade: OK.
  • I think the term “existential threat” should be reserved for situations involving Jean-Paul Sartre.
  • The Swedish magazine Vi used to have a page of reader-contributed jokes. It had a rewards ladder with several steps where you got paid more for a better joke. But there was also a bottom rung: “This is really awful. We’re sending an invoice.”
  • In rural rivalries, people used to say, “Those folks in Ögleboda are so stupid that they mistake flax fields for lakes”. I actually made that exact mistake once. When flax blooms it forms a pale blue expanse in the distance.
  • Here’s the smoking gun (see below). A strap buckle from a 15/16th century spur. If you see a knight around Vendel with only one spur on, then he’s the asshole who looted several of the boat burials at the church.
  • Ebook fans, check out Fadedpage.com where you can download fine digital editions of books whose copyright has lapsed in Canada. Which happens way faster than elsewhere. Hint, hint.
  • The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine knows about me! I’m a known entity! They know when I was born and that I’m an Ur- und Frühhistoriker!
  • A student asked me something and I realised that the field of Gotlandic picture stone studies is completely closed to contributors who can’t read German. At least until someone translates the 984 pages of Lindquist 1941-42 plus Oehrl 2019, or writes a study in another language that is comprehensive enough that it supersedes them. Na ja…
  • 2019 Feb 16: snowdrops. 2015 Mar 10: crocus. 2012 Mar 22: crocus. 2018 Apr 8: coltsfoot / tussilago. 2016 Apr 10: coltsfoot / tussilago. Longing so much for spring.
  • I’ve got an unusual task. I have to describe my research career as impressively as possible. But I can only refer to work I have published in journals or with publishing houses that are on a list put out by the Polish Ministry of Higher Education. And the Ministry is almost entirely unimpressed by Scandinavian archaeology journals and publishing houses.
  • I want a society that de-incentivises skill in the handling of money.
  • 2.6% of Swedes have received at least one dose of a COVID19 vaccine. During February and March, enough vaccine will be delivered to give an additional 21% one dose.
  • Feeling smug, remembering colleagues I debated with 25 years ago about what archaeology should be, who have since had little impact on what archaeology is.
  • Thinking about Shanks & Tilley, I’m reminded of the “Alan Sokal Academic Left” to which I count myself. We’re academic Lefties who seek scientific truth first, and want to further Leftie political causes second. You can’t right a societal wrong if it’s impossible to determine if the societal wrong has any objective existence.
  • I never read the forewords to anthologies or magazines that consist of summaries of the contents.
  • A failed attempt to read Sven Delblanc’s 1967 novel Nattresa reminded me of how much I hated Joyce’s Ulysses with its oblique and allusive method of not telling a story. I am now much relieved to be reading Ian Fleming’s 1958 Dr. No.
  • Movie: Dunkirk (2017). The evacuation of Dunkirk in all its smudged and ragged glory. Grade: good!
  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is now online for free, more than 18,000 entries!
  • Rubbish: field archaeologists dig it up and theoretical archaeologists write it down. Paul Bahn, Bluff your Way in Archaeology.
Strap buckle, c. AD 1500, found at a depth of 45 cm in boat burial 11 at Vendel Church.

Author: Martin R

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

10 thoughts on “February Pieces Of My Mind #1”

  1. Ebook fans, check out Fadedpage.com where you can download fine digital editions of books whose copyright has lapsed in Canada. Which happens way faster than elsewhere. Hint, hint.

    Not everything technically possible is also legal. 😐

    I’m looking for an eBook reader. I was happy with tolino until a) most titles mysteriously disappeared, b) I could download most, but not all, from the cloud backup, c) some encryption is no longer supported so I have to read them in Adobe Digital Editions (which fortunately I had recently installed for completely different reasons) on the iPad (which I normally use for eBooks only if they have high-resolution and/or colour images which are important), d) some encrypted titles don’t work even in Adobe Digital Editions, so I can’t read some eBooks which I have purchased. I am really disappointed with the tolino system and the Hugendubel shop (one of a few who use it). After much haggling, they offered me a coupon—for some of their eBooks. Not exactly a good compensation considering that I have to move away from their system.

    What I would like is something like the tolino, i.e. an eBook reader which reads .ePub files (but also .txt and .pdf), with the ability to look up words in various dictionaries stored on the device and to make annotations. Ideally it would have some sort of cloud-based backup but, having had that bad experience with such a thing which is beyond my control, essential would be the possibility to simply back up the entire device via USB cable.

    Suggestions welcome!

    Kindle is not an option, for several reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t tell you what ebook reader to buy, but I recommend the free Calibre software to convert between formats. That’s how I get epub files onto my Kindle. Calibre has a clownishly ugly user interface, but it works.


      1. On the whole, Calibre is the bee’s knees (and its user interface looks like a clown convention so that it works across almost all conceivable platforms).

        I have NO idea about the configurability of the “look up words in dictionary” functionality on my Kobo (I know it has one, because I sometimes manage to trigger it), but on the whole I have been happy using a Kobo of one model or another for somewhere in the region of 10 years.

        They do have this nasty tendency to break, when dropped from height onto hard surfaces, especially when landing flat. They’re also not super-bend-resistant, I managed to make one have about half a working e-paper display that way. But, for consumer electronics, I’d put them in the “pretty durable” category. Of the four I’ve had, one ended up with a worn-put flash after a few years (3-4 I think), two had physical injuries, and the current one has been fine for… about four years?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thinking about Shanks & Tilley, I’m reminded of the “Alan Sokal Academic Left” to which I count myself. We’re academic Lefties who seek scientific truth first, and want to further Leftie political causes second. You can’t right a societal wrong if it’s impossible to determine if the societal wrong has any objective existence.

    As an Erlander-style Social Democrat, I see the wokeness of the so-called left today as a big problem. Maybe not quite as big as Trump. Yet. Follow the blog https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com for some stuff on evolution, music, and other things, but much on decrying wokeness. The sensible progressive people such as Pinker are being eclipsed by these woke idiots, and that is a bad thing.


  3. Re: “Gotlandic picture stone studies.” The problem is when people don’t know or care there is all this evidence and analysis in languages they can’t read and just publish anyways 😦 So all the serious information on Iron Age arms in the Aegean is published in German or Modern Greek, but Anglos make general statements about them which do not survive contact with the relevant Prähistorische Bronzefunde volume from 1993 let alone the site reports.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. also see Project Gutenberg Australia..

    use a Kindle but would rather not, looks like the Kobo Clara is the best bet for a non-Amazon experience. See link from my name..
    The only problem then is all the Amazon books I have bought.. it used to be simple to convert mobi to epub with Calibre. The last time I tried that it appears that Amazon has rewritten its file format and Calibre hasn’t been able to crack it yet..


  5. The Dunkirk evacuation and all the poems, stories and movies about it are excellent examples of the English turning an unmitigated cock up, their word, into a heroic gesture. It’s like the Charge of the Light Brigade, with their cavalry predictably destroyed by enemy artillery, but somehow an example of great soldiering. There was an Anglo-Saxon account of a battle in which an English army holed up in an impregnable fort agreed to come out and get slaughtered man by man. A friend of mine had to translate this on a test and was sure she had misunderstood an idiom, vocabulary word or something. Then there’s 1066 and all that, a great defining moment but basically the home team lost. Then there’s Kipling. For all the bombast, an awful lot of it is about the English getting clobbered, soldiers dying uselessly and so on. I don’t think anyone actually reads Kipling. If you read enough English battle poetry and literature you wonder how, with defeat after defeat, they managed to build a world wide empire.


    1. The English managed to get in a pretty good run of about three centuries, including the defeat of the Spanish Armada (Spain had been the dominant European power prior to that), taking India, and defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. But that came between losing their mainland European territory in the Hundred Years War and the aforementioned Charge of the Light Brigade. In the long run, trying to maintain such a far-flung empire is ruinously expensive, which is why the British eventually abandoned most of it, or allowed the countries to become independent.


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