July Pieces Of My Mind #2

Lynn was my nanny and helped raise me from age 4 to 7. Now she’s visiting from Connecticut! Here we are at the public beach where she used to take me and my kid brother back in ’78. ❤
  • The assassin shot Shinzo Abe because Abe supported the Moonies, to whom the assassin’s mom gave so much money that she went bankrupt 20 years ago.
  • The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper in May of 1967. In November, 20-y-o Elton John began recording sessions for his first album, Regimental Sgt. Zippo, strongly influenced by the Fab Four’s offering. It was shelved for over half a century and released on vinyl only last year, and on digital four days ago. It’s good stuff!
  • Girl, you so fine Parliament should pass a sumptuary law against you!
  • I’m a lecteur paisible et bucolique, sobre et naïf homme de bien, but I enjoy reading dark stuff anyway.
  • 41st summer at my mom’s place in the archipelago, and the fauna has changed drastically. Common in 1982, almost absent today: Great Crested Grebe / skäggdopping + Eider Duck / ejder. Absent in 1982, common today: Great Cormorant / ålkråka + Grey Heron / gråhäger + Oystercatcher / strandskata. Seals and eagles were absent in 1982, and though not exactly common now, we see them several times a year. And beavers have made brief visits! No change: gulls, terns, Merganser / storskrake, Mute Swan, White Wagtail / sädesärla.
  • I’m a 1st generation PhD. When I went to uni my surname just meant “hockey player” to my professors. No academic history. I just had a realisation that kind of shook me. The family name actually does mean something now if Junior and Jrette go into the humanities. In archaeology of course, but since my wife took my name and has a high profile in Chinese Swedish circles, in sinology too. Lecturers may raise their eyebrows when they see the name on the student roster.
  • You know those scholars who work with the same thing for years and years? Bragging time: over the past year I’ve had papers in big international journals that deal with the Roman Period, the Vendel-Viking Periods and the 19th century. (And I published a historical source edition on the 17th century.)

Author: Martin R

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

5 thoughts on “July Pieces Of My Mind #2”

  1. Wow you had a nanny? Highly elevated social status. My mother labored to look after us three kids and carry on her peace activism alone.

    Family name is important in Swedish academics? Aristocratic traditions must be ongoing in your part of the world. In the US I think rather the reverse is true. A child of a prominent academic would be seen as riding on their parents coattails and would have struggle to prove themselves. The system there would seem to me to promote people of relatively mediocre intellects at the expense of people who are really better but just lack connections. Do you feel lack of the right name has negatively impacted your career? That would be a great injustice.

    Isn’t specialization important in academia? Aren’t you supposed to restrict publication to around two areas? Working in CRM I did papers on a variety of times and areas. I even presented a paper on lithic debitage at a 6,000 year old site, though I regard flaked stone tools as “boring pointy rocks” and mostly concentrate on late prehistory and history through the early 19th century. In my future academic work, to the extent I can carry it on on my own, I intend to focus pretty exclusively on the Moundville chiefdom of west Alabama and 17th and 18th century Lower Creeks of the Alabama/Georgia border region.

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    1. Neutral Sweden’s industries and infrastructure were never bombed. For c. 30 years from the end of WW2 to the Oil Crisis, the country made an enormous amount of money on overseas trade while keeping quite a high taxation rate. One thing the Social Democrat government put this money into was a major expansion of free higher education. Both my parents are 1st generation uni graduates, no family money, but they immediately got really good jobs. They bought a house in the suburbs and hired a nanny as soon as I was born. My mom was quite torn between her career and us kids. She soon scaled down to working half of full time.

      I don’t know what effect a famous academic surname can have. I was just musing that this is a new thing in my kids’ generation. My impression is that the really important thing in Swedish academia is not what your name is, but who your parents are buddies with. Plus of course all the knowledge and social capital you have access to when your parents are academics. When my daughter had trouble with her physics homework, we would call my buddy the physics professor.

      Why would specialisation be an end in itself? If someone can publish ten papers in high-profile journals, then I admire them way more if the papers are about different topics. I diversified for fun and to become more employable.


  2. I don’t know, at least in my experience, hiring someone to look after your kids, as opposed to putting them in a daycare, is pretty economically elite. SES is more than money but at least in the US having parents with money has tremendous, if not all important, effects or your life coursed and outcome. For instance having a mother who makes over $70,000 a year eliminates the “single mom penalty” that often considered to be due to the absence of a father.

    Okay, I misinterpreted your statement. Of course “know who” and having educated parents is important world wide. The problems poor kids have getting educated and doing well in life largely stem from having uneducated, poor parents.

    Okay it is admirable that you can publish in multiple specialties. Maybe you have a more flexible mind and are a faster learner and a harder worker then. For me though I’ve looked at plenty of “them thar injun arrowheads” in my days in CRM, Ahler’s mass analysis of debitage is the only area of lithics I would feel able to publish in. Perhaps this is due to lack of interest and application or possibly to some extent my peculiar limitations as an observer. Still I would say part of having a career in an academic field is being part of a community of scholars. Different specialties are different communities in my experience. For instance after I gave my first academic paper on a Mississippian site, a drunken Woodland specialist tried to pick a fight with me on the ground of “you Mississippianists think your shit don’t stink.” Perhaps you are social and energetic enough to participate in multiple communities.


    1. Economically I had an upper middle class childhood, but not an upper class elite one like some of the kids in my school. Sweden had been doing exceptionally well. Services that you pay for in the US are still free here.

      One reason that I’ve been able to work in several fields is that I never got a steady teaching job. I’ve subsisted mainly on small grants and on a 25% salary as a journal editor. Much easier to be productive when no boss is asking you to do anything. A quarter century with over 50% research time lets you get stuff done.


  3. Dr. Pangloss would say that the only good thing about present circumstances is that we have time and isolation to write. I finished the manuscript of my second book before the end of the second plague year.

    This year I got word that my article with translations of sources in ten languages which I submitted in 2021 will not appear until 2023. I am trying to summon the energy to deal with the latest set of reviewers’ reports on the other thing I submitted in 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

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