Busy Time Ahead

After a languid summer of reading, swimming and some work I'm gearing up for an intense time with a lot of fun stuff during September and October.

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Come September I'm scheduled to fulfil a major life goal of mine after over 15 years of impatient waiting. I'm going to teach Scandy Archaeology 101 for the first time, at the University of Umeå!* The fall semester is divided into four modules of which I am head teacher for three: 1) Introduction,…
Since the autumn of 2009, I've spent most of my research efforts studying sacrificial finds in the Bronze Age local landscape. I was thus pleasantly surprised (though a little disappointed because I missed the whole thing) when I learned that there had been a symposium on the theme "Sacrificial…
I've got a lot on my mind. Bronze Age deposition book: visiting some sites on Friday, data collection almost done, have started doing stat analysis and writing interpretations, need to write gazetteer entries while I remember details of how I've managed to pinpoint find spots. Also time to decide…
I'm giving a talk at the Stockholm County Museum in Sickla, Saturday at two o'clock, as part of a day seminar. The subject will be my on-going research into Bronze Age sacrificial sites, where I collaborate with the museum on fieldwork. Aard readers are welcome: just tell the organisers that I'm…

It sounds like you will be in "all my bags are packed" mode for a while. That sounds like a fair amount of air travel.

As for myself, I have no travel plans until December, but I'll have two transcontinental roundtrips that month.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 09 Aug 2013 #permalink

Good luck! -Be advised that the Botnia train line up to Umeå is somewhat...unreliable (note how I showed great restraint when mentioning that piece of cr?$£).
OT: Since you once mentioned Ron Hubbard's book A History of Man, check out this illustration of skeptic P.Z. Myers confronting the same book: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/files/2013/08/historyofman.jpg
OT2: Myers has spent a lot of energy adressing misogyny in the American skeptics movement (Kudos to him). I hope misogyny is not rearing its ugly head in Sweden, at least not at the same scale. I mention it because now a major name in the US skeptics movement has been exposed as an asshole. May you never have to deal with that kind of internal crap!

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 10 Aug 2013 #permalink

We've been lucky, no harassment cases have come to light with the Swedish Skeptics that I know of. As for misogyny in general, my feeling is that male Swedish skeptics are generally quite feminist in their opinions. But still, sadly only about 15% of our members are women.

There was a mess a few years in Canada where the head of a skeptical organization was involved in men's rights activism and was not careful to keep those two roles distinct. The latest charges certainly put a lot of the drama inside the American skeptical/atheist movement in a new light.

Re . Paderborn, pagans remained longer in what was recently East Germany compared to the rest of Europe (the west slav language of the Sorbs still remain spoken in a tiny region).
I believe it was only towards the end of the twelfth century this region was annexed during the general drive to the East that brought teutonic knights to Prussia and the Baltic.
There must have been plenty of time for cultural influences to blur the line between pre-christian and christian culture in the region.
Maybe the Germans should look for pagan myths being re-cast as pious christian stories?

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 12 Aug 2013 #permalink

Maybe the Germans should look for pagan myths being re-cast as pious christian stories?

That's not hard to do. Consider Saturnalia, a.k.a. Christmas. There isn't really any good reason for thinking that Jesus was born on 25 December. But the early Church thought it would be a good political move to piggyback on the traditional Roman holiday near the winter solstice. Some other Christmas traditions, such as the decorated tree, have pagan origins.

And then there's Easter. You may wonder what eggs and rabbits have to do with the alleged resurrection of Jesus. It's a question of timing: Easter comes during spring (late spring in the Mediterranean, early spring in northern Europe). So Christian Easter celebrations incorporated pagan fertility rites.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 12 Aug 2013 #permalink

I don't mean to sound condescending or whatever, but 15% is so low that it would give me cause for suspicion and close critical examination. I'm not totally inexperienced in this (my experience relates to females in civil engineering, which has been a traditionally 'female unfriendly' profession, on two different continents and among several different cultures, with some surprising factual observations, and even some things where I felt compelled to personally intervene in a pretty strong-handed way). What people profess to be their beliefs or opinions may not match how they behave on the ground, so to speak.

Observing the saga that unfolded among the American skeptics was, to me, really quite shocking. It highlighted to me the difference that can exist between the 'enlightenment' that a nation/culture may claim to have achieved, and the reality.

In the case of the Swedish Skeptics, I'm not saying I know the reason for the very low female turn-out - I don't. But I do think it gives more than enough grounds to 'listen to the unspoken', because something is definitely not right.

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Aug 2013 #permalink

The gender imbalance was with us from the start in 1982 because almost all of the original members were PhD students at an engineering college, who had a particular demographic skew. I don't know why we don't attract today's female PhD students. The society's activities have until recent years not been very social, so there has been little opportunity for any putative sex harassers to scare the ladies off.

Figuring out the causes of gender imbalances is hard, as the cultural causes can be subtle. Why is one field dominated by women, and another by men, especially in endeavors that are too recent to be strongly linked to traditions in the old patriarchal society?
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OT: "Dating Oldest Known Petroglyphs in North America" http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813121622.htm

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 14 Aug 2013 #permalink

Yeah. Even harder to figure out is why there are major differences in gender balance in the same field in different countries, e.g. female participation in civil engineering is now much higher in Hong Kong than in Australia. And there is no kind of affirmative action or special encouragement for women to study engineering in Hong Kong, whereas in Australia they are constantly hand-wringing about it and discussing how they can increase female participation. This is pretty recent - traditionally, female participation in both places was low.

By John Massey (not verified) on 15 Aug 2013 #permalink

(OT) Changing climate may have driven collapse of civilizations in Late Bronze Age http://phys.org/news/2013-08-climate-driven-collapse-civilizations-late…

Ancient artefact gets a good bake http://phys.org/news/2013-08-ancient-artefact-good.html -Lets preserve documents by burning them.

Busted: Researchers debunk myth of 'right-brain' and 'left-brain' personality traits http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-08-debunk-myth-right-brain-left-brai… “Braaains...”

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 16 Aug 2013 #permalink

Unrelated factoid; -If you are out in the boondocks doing research you are more likely to have favourably pitch-dark skies, suitable for star gazing.
There is a new nova in the Dolphin (not far from the Swan and the Lyrae) and it is increasing in strenght so it will be visible by the naked eye.
(Fortunately the cranks are too lazy to go outdoors so we should not have to worry about end-of-the-world prophesies)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 16 Aug 2013 #permalink

At the Fantastika 2013 convention you might get questions about this:
"World's oldest temple built to worship the dog star? " http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929303.400
(but Sirius was very low over the horizon at the beginning, so I doubt the interpretation)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 19 Aug 2013 #permalink

A Pluto-Sirius Dog dualism?

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 19 Aug 2013 #permalink