September Pieces Of My Mind #3

Polish glass at the Szołayski House National Museum in Kraków
  • A memory. During an election battle, a Conservative US politician reminds the constituents that his rival’s sister is a Thespian. This is true, but he is counting on them not to know what the word means, interpreting it instead as (shock, horror) “Lesbian”.
  • Well preserved Early Roman Period farmstead sitting under sand dune on the Frisian island of Amrum is rescue excavated. Partly because the sand is moving again, uncovering the site. But more urgently because creative and ignorant locals are ripping stones out of the house foundations and building neo-Pagan stone circles.
  • Slavic speakers, surely you must agree that “the 1920s” is a better way to name a decade than “the 20s of the 20th century”.
  • Hey military minded people. When Russia “mobilises”, aren’t they likely to mostly get completely useless recruits? I know I would be absolute shit in the army.
  • Doing impromptu outreach at the Bergslagen History Festival, a.k.a. my used car salesman act. (The car is from the early 1600s.)
  • Movie: The Abyss (1989). Underwater catastrophe techno thriller with nukes and the kindly aliens from Close Encounters, including angel choir. Grade: good!
  • The bank was going to send me a new payment card, but it seems I got a futuristic prop from some scifi movie production instead. It says that it’s supposed to be valid through 2027, haha.
  • Is anyone in your tree? Is it high or low?
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash had a hippie song titled “I Almost Cut My Hair”. The Grails have a space rock song titled “I Almost Grew My Hair”.
  • Paraphrasing Darth Putin from Twitter: the question now is whether Russian men are as brave as Iranian women.
  • Surprised to think of the Stockholm Tolkien Society’s age. Both how new it was when I joined: 16. And how old it is now: 50. Same age as me.
  • A memory: at one of my first jobs, for a private company which was rare in Swedish archaeology back then, the CFO advised me at the hiring interview not to talk to my co-workers about my salary, because it could cause envy. I realise now that what she meant was that it could cause union activity.
  • Watching the double asteroid system grow in the sights of the approaching DART probe.
  • Missing house cat found living in lynx enclosure at Stockholm zoo.
  • Did you know that gna is a traditional Tibetan pasta dish? And that the most popular regional variant is the Lhasa gna? Widely imitated in Italy.
  • Say what you will about the old media, but it was rare for complete morons to reach nationwide circulation and electoral visibility back in the day when you had to get your message past an editor.
  • Insight: to a bedrock geologist, given the usual time scale and dating error bars in that field, the ice age didn’t end recently. It ends now, and apparently causes or creates necessary conditions for the anthropogenic mass extinction.
  • Imagine Bob Dylan covering “I Will Always Love You”.
  • Movie: Katalin Varga (2009). Rape revenge story beautifully shot in Transylvania. This was Peter Strickland’s first feature film and IMO the weakest of them. Grade: OK.

Author: Martin R

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

21 thoughts on “September Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. If the Americans are ever stupid enough to come, I’ll tell the PLA to give me a sniper rifle and some camouflage. I’ll die for sure, but I’ll do some damage before I do.


    1. Hard to overestimate the stupidity of American generals and politicians. A war between nuclear armed powers is too awful to contemplate, despite this the US military is increasingly configured for war with China, in addition to the usual world domination. I hope only a fully Donald Trump level ignoramus asshole could actually provoke such a war, but stranger things have happened.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just being a patriot. Though I am generally a pacifist, in the extremely mathematically unlikely possibility of the US being invaded I would chose to fight. I would not be combat effective but I could sacrifice myself attaching a magnetic mine to one of them mighty Armata tanks.


  2. “aren’t they likely to mostly get completely useless recruits?”

    Maybe not completly useless if there is a mandatory conscription beforehand, with the (somewhat) trained soldiers being made reservists, ready to be called upon during the next few years.
    And the mobilized soldiers start with a few weeks of a refreshing course. Not sure the Russian boys got any of these.

    All of these, of course, making sense with an army from 50 years ago, or more.
    I mean, learning which end of a rifle to point at the enemy could be done in a few days. Piloting a tank or a drone are likely taking a lot more learning.
    In short, unless you get to train them, you are basically recruiting canon fodder. People you will throw as speed bump at your enemy’s army.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No. If reports are to be believed, then the Ukrainian snipers have been very effective.

      Individual infantrymen with light anti-tank weapons have been very effective too, but I think that would probably be beyond me at this point.

      You don’t need to be a genius or have much training to operate a drone.

      I don’t know about Russia specifically, but reservists are normally people who have had substantial amounts of training, and in more things than how to point a rifle. A lot of them are likely to be more useful than the 19yo conscripts with basic training that the Russians have there now.

      Of course, we are hearing in the Western media about the Russian men who are rushing to get out of the country to avoid being called up. What we are not hearing about are the ones who are not.

      Ukraine has called up a huge number of reservists, and has prevented them from leaving the country, but of course the Western media portray that as OK, while they mock exactly the same thing when the Russians do it. I guess you need special sight to see exactly the same thing as two different things.

      They don’t actually throw people at the opposing army any more – that ended in WWI with the advent of the machine gun and the age of industrialised warfare.

      So the short answer to the question Martin asked is no, they are not likely to get mostly useless recruits.


      1. “Of course, we are hearing in the Western media about the Russian men who are rushing to get out of the country to avoid being called up. What we are not hearing about are the ones who are not.”

        Indeed, and this thing has been irking me. In all wars, there has always been deserters, pacifists, and other people objecting.
        We did the same thing when Bush junior was revving up the US armies for going back in Irak.

        “I guess you need special sight to see exactly the same thing as two different things.”

        As a mitigating circunstance, Russia is the aggressor here, last time I checked.


      2. I was referring only to the call up of large numbers of reservists on both sides. If there is a difference, the Ukrainians are motivated to defend their country, and it is always easier to defend than attack. What is the motivation for the Russian troops? I don’t see any. Otherwise I don’t see much difference.

        To be clear, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I dearly wish that Russia had not invaded Ukraine, because it has made things very difficult for China, which has absolutely no choice except to try to remain strictly neutral, and try to get both sides to negotiate cessation of fighting.


  3. While on the subject, I don’t usually link to RT here because I figure it does not make me popular, but this has me head-scratching, and they are allegedly quoting the normally reliable Norwegians:

    The kicker is in the last paragraph. On the one hand, we are supposed to believe that Russia attacked its own pipelines because…erm…, and on the other hand, allegedly last February Biden said that if Russia invaded Ukraine the USA would ‘end’ Nordstream 2.

    It’s far too much for me to figure out. But it would be good if someone could fact-check what Biden actually said last February.


  4. I have no nearby trees. But the adventurous cats adopted by my neighbour (a retired digital art artist) like to climb anything that is remotely climbable.

    The magpies, crows, jackdaws and smaller songbirds certainly have a presence but I cannot see them well from my windows. I would rig up feeding throughs for winter if not all trees were blocked by tall walls of snow thrown up by the ploughs in wintertime.


  5. The Slavs may be right. We’re at the point where talking about the teens or 20s will be ambiguous. Would the epidemic of the teens be the flu or covid-19? People still talk about the rise of fascism in the 30s or the war in the 40s, but very soon people may be asking which 30s or which 40s.

    Growing up in the 1960s, the 20s meant the 1920s, not the 1820s. No one talked about the civil war in the 60s except metaphorically, perhaps discussing protests against the war in Vietnam. I think this is because of the relatively modern custom of naming historical periods by their decade rather than with a more specific name for the period like the Era of Good Feelings or the Colonial Era.

    I’ve been reading mixed reports on Russian reservists, most negative. There are a number of big ifs. One is the depth of the Russian NCO corps. Another is their ability to equip those reserves.

    The NCOs are the sergeants and other low level officers who are critical to military operations. When the Germans rearmed in the 30s they created an army of sergeants. Since they were limited by treaty to only having a small army, they focused on developing every soldier’s leadership skills as well as his combat skills. When they called up a larger army, they had an effective NCO corps. There’s also the matter of how well they use their NCOs. The Soviet military discouraged initiative and flexibility at that level. It’s not clear the modern Russian military has gotten past this.

    There is also the issue of equipping those reserves so they can fight effectively. This means everything from rifles and drones to winter coats and field rations. That last issue is serious. Simonyan, the head of RT, was recently quoted on Russian television about this. She referred to the story of the mutiny on the Battleship Potemkin in ’05: “Let me remind you that in 1905, small things like these led to the first mutiny of an entire military unit in the history of our country. Is that what you want?” She starkly warned: “You’re toying with armed people.”

    (There was an excellent silent movie made about that mutiny in 1925. You can probably find it on Youtube.)

    (There is a certain chance that Simonyan will fall through a window from a great height, something that seems to be surprisingly popular in Russian lately. It reminds me of an old custom in New Orleans. When gangsters killed someone for not paying their gambling debts, they threw the body through a glass door or window as a warning to other deadbeats.)

    Liked by 1 person

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