February Pieces Of My Mind #1

"That's lovely sweetie, but can't we just go to bed now and have a good fuck?" (Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm) "That's lovely sweetie, but can't we just go to bed now and have a good fuck?" (Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm)
  • I wonder what kind of event lead to entire 20-metre dinosaurs becoming fossilised as articulated skeletons.
  • There's been a lot of psychological research into the mental differences between conservatives and lefties. Chris Mooney's The Republican Brain summarises it well up to 2012. And the refugee situation has really brought this out to me. I follow some conservatives here on Fb, and I happened to read an article in the Daily Torygraph yesterday. Many Conservatives truly believe that the arrival of large numbers of refugees in north-western Europe is an apocalyptic event. They really think it's going to be Mad Max soon. The Torygraph speaks ominously of "the Great Migration". These people are seriously, seriously scared.
  • Jeanette Winterson believes in psychic mediums and is in contact with the ghost of Ruth Rendell.
  • Having visited central Stockholm today, I'm pleased to be able to tell everyone that I saw no racist mobs, no sexual harassment and no police presence. Sweden's societal structure shows no signs of failing.
  • Talking to a Fb buddy about the problematic Swedish national identification with Vikings, I just coined a phrase. "What happens in Lindisfarne stays in Lindisfarne." *smug*
  • Anybody got access to advance articles in the European Journal of Archaeology? I'm really keen to read more than the first page of three in the third review of my latest book. The libraries I have logins for carry the journal but not advance articles.
  • Second reviewer of my recent book ignores the results, mainly complains that I haven't used his favourite method. I just wrote him and said "You're right, it would be great to see what someone using your method might come up with about my sites. I'll be happy to provide you and your students with data."
  • Bought fancy cocoa powder for the first time at the 100-y-o coffee & tea shop. It's 7 times as expensive as standard grocery store stuff. But tastes way better!
  • Spate of teen boy on teen boy rapes among Afghan asylum seekers in Sweden. It's like they've grown up in, I don't know, fucking Afghanistan or something. /-:
  • I'm having tea and sandwiches for breakfast. It's an act of Men's Rights Activism. Tastes so good!
  • A fossil is not a bone any more. Fossilisation is a slow geological process. There are no Homo sapiens fossils yet. There are no stegosaur bones any more. I wonder which hominin species is the oldest non-fossil one. It's important for DNA purposes.
  • Soap is made by treating fat with lye. The process also produces the alcohol glycerol, which softens the soap. During the use time of a large piece of soap, the glycerol gradually escapes and the soap goes hard. This is why the core of a once large soap is way less soapy than a new hotel soap of the same size. If you cut the core out of a new large piece of soap, it is just as soapy as a new hotel soap.
  • Conflicting emotions on posh Strandvägen yesterday. Met a young man in an extreme upper class outfit, quilted green jacket, greased comb-back hairdo and all. I felt intertribal enmity and distrust. But he was pushing his baby buggy. So I also felt brotherly love.
  • A reason to hate Google Docs: when you start it, it doesn't pay attention to the keyboard queue. So when you hit CTRL-F to find something, you end up typing in your document instead of in a search box.
  • Movie: The Hateful Eight. Grotesquely violent stage play where a stellar cast of major older film stars end up dead. Grade: Pass.
  • It's sooo painful when, in the middle of your usual stream of snark and obscure puns, some peripheral Fb contact posts a clichéd feelgood affirmation. And you can't tell them they're ridiculous because you don't want to be mean.
Pueblo figurines, early 20th c. (Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm) Pueblo figurines, early 20th c. (Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm)

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The arrival of large numbers of people from the east WAS an apocalyptic event...for the indians.
Afghanistan has a seriously twisted culture due to the extreme segregation of gender. You may recall the TV documentary about the pre-pubescent "dancing boys".
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I just read a catalog for the book sale that starts the 24th. One book is "Medeltida Borgar"(Medieval Castles) by Martin Hansson. It remains to be seen if it is good, or just Readers' Digest-grade stuff.
Also at sale are the final books by Henning Mankell.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

A competent medium should be able to make money working as a consultant for archaeologists, telling them where the stuff is, or how the odd artefacts were used..
Also, why does not CSI have a couple of mediums on staff? It is as if their honesty is questioned...

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

"Many Conservatives truly believe that the arrival of large numbers of refugees in north-western Europe is an apocalyptic event."

How many do you think northwestern Europe can accommodate without it becoming an apocalyptic event? 1 million? 10? 100? Let's hear a number. Or is there no upper limit? I'm assuming migration in something like the current form, which is not working, as numerous examples, many from Sweden, demonstrate, even if you can take a walk and see nothing. (A wonderful film called Die Feuerzangenbowle was made in Germany during World War II, but that doesn't mean that World War II wasn't a big deal.)

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

Well, I'll tell you this. I'm in the densest-populated part of the European country that has received the largest number of refugees per capita. And we're doing fine. So people shouldn't worry too much.

Just to be clear, I've never considered myself a conservative. However, I find it strange, and counterproductive, that some liberals don't seem to see any problem with a significant influx of people who have an idea of society quite different from the idea of a liberal society since the Enlightenment with regard to things such as women's rights, the role of religion in society, and so on. Think of all the stuff which Sweden accomplished in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Much of that is questioned by recent immigrants. Even if they are fleeing from real oppression, that doesn't mean that they support a liberal democracy. (The Pilgrims fled from oppression to North America, where they created their own even more oppressive society.) Sure, some do, but even if most do, one shouldn't turn a blind eye to potential problems. There are cases where one group of immigrants, literally in the same boat with another, killed the other group by drowning them in the sea, because they were adherents of the wrong religion. Do such people deserve any sort of asylum in Europe?

By the way, both my wife and I immigrated from non-EU countries and learned German (and Swedish!) as adults. There has to be something between "no immigration policy at all; anyone can come and count on welfare" and "completely closed borders". I expect the right-wing extremists to be in the latter camp, but why are so many liberals advocating something close to the former camp?

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

" I’m in the densest-populated part of the European country that has received the largest number of refugees per capita. And we’re doing fine. So people shouldn’t worry too much."

But then why do the Swedish police have to stop bands of armed Swedes attacking immigrants?

Give me a number. You can jump out of a skyscraper window and say "everything fine so far" as you fly past the second floor.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

We do have problems with a small number of violent racist criminals. Surely you're not suggesting that their behaviour is warranted?

I don't have a number for you, because I'm not bothered. We can do this.

No; of course their behaviour is not wanted. But, say, 40 years ago, one did not hear of such problems in Sweden. Where did they come from. No, it's not the victim's fault.

But neither is it the victim's fault in the hundreds of cases of sexual assault by, mostly, immigrants on, mostly, ethnic Europeans. Is that a problem? If not, why not? If so, then how is that "doing fine"? And what about the directives that the police should not mention such complaints?

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

Neither wanted nor warranted.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

AFAIK it's sexual harassment, not assault, if you want to talk about hundreds of extra cases in Sweden in recent years. And the daughters of immigrant parents aren't immune to either of those. Anyway, most sex crimes are committed by a man who knows the woman well.

But most immigrants don't commit any crimes. And we can't identify the ones who will at the border. Are you suggesting that we should only let women and children in? What we do instead is deport serious offenders after trying and punishing them.

Harassment is more general, can be just verbal, etc. Grabbing breasts and crotches of women you don't know is assault (and harassment as well). Hundreds of extra cases just in the last few weeks. No, immigrant daughters aren't immune. Does that make it OK? In at least some cases, it is intentionally against European women. And there have been many such cases at music festivals and so on, where many immigrant daughters aren't allowed to go. The perpetrators are almost always immigrants. Why beat around the bush? Most sex crimes? Maybe. That doesn't make additional crimes perpetrated by immigrants who don't know the woman at all anything less of a problem.

Yes, most immigrants don't commit any crimes. Most Swedes are not neonazis, so should we not worry about those that are?

Stefan Löfven can hardly be called a right-winger. Why did he take steps to drastically reduce immigrant influx if things were fine?

"And we can’t identify the ones who will at the border. Are you suggesting that we should only let women and children in?"

No. But obviously it is not clear to the perpetrators that such behaviour is not acceptable and/or those identified are not punished severely enough. And was it a good idea to tell the police to play it down?

The main problem with painting a too rosy picture is that people who have reason to be sceptical, say someone who was sexually assaulted or whose daughter was, gets told there is not a problem. So, perhaps in desperation, they turn to parties whose politics, just to be clear, I don't agree with, and who exaggerate problems with immigrants, but some voters perceive them, perhaps wrongly, as the lesser of too evils. A right-wing party with at least roots in the neonazi scene is one of the largest, perhaps the largest, in Sweden in terms of voters. 20 per cent of the population closet right-wingers who have just recently come out? I don't think so. How do you explain the rise of the Sweden Democrats?

Just to be clear, the immigrants, at least most of them, are not the problem, but rather the way that a false picture is painted by the liberals.

Was Löfven wrong?

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

too ---> two

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

But, say, 40 years ago, one did not hear of such problems in Sweden

Which is not the same thing as saying that such things did not exist. Forty years ago we did not have 24/7 cable news networks, or internet reporting. So stories that would have been only local news then would not have seen the sort of distribution that such stories get today. A gang of street thugs in Sundsvall would not have made news in Jonköping, or vice versa. Today they do.

We see the same thing in the US. Crime rates today are much lower than they were in the 1980s--many cities have areas that were no-go zones then but are safe to venture into today. But that's not the impression you would get from CNN, let alone Fox News. And it has observable effects on society. I was always allowed to go to school by myself (or accompanying a younger sibling), even though I was in Miami during the heyday of the Cocaine Cowboys. Today, that would be unthinkable in most of the US, including small towns with negligible crime rates.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 11 Feb 2016 #permalink

Race is, of course, a social construct. But race drive some people over the deep end.

On a forum a man was going on about how the blacks are going to turn all the white people black. I'm not exactly sure why he wouldn't want his heirs to be a bit more black because he did go on in great detail about how those who are 'more African' are taller, more vigorous, and have enormous peens. All of which, within certain limits, would seem to be beneficial.

He was upset about how the white race would disappear. He seemed to calm down a bit when I pointed out that lighter skin tone is a dominant genetic trait. Because of this the trend will be far less about white people turning brown, than darker browns turning lighter and, in time, becoming indistinguishable from white folks.

I also pointed out that mutts tend to be, on average, healthier than purebred dogs. Humans have always been rather generous with our seeds and it has, for the most part, been a big part in who we are and how we survived.

Most child molestations are committed by someone the child and/or family know well. Not so with rape. Even with date rape, the victim probably does not know the perpetrator "well". In the context of war, sexual assault is "laying claim" to the property of the head of household. Something a kin to entering someone's home and smashing the heirloom china and taking the silverware - it is a show of power, something meant to demean and humiliate not just the victim but the entire family as well.
To compound the problem, some of these religious groups don't see people outside of their belief system as even being human and dismissing their behavior as simply using a product that is at hand. When conquering soldiers enter an area they consider all of the inhabitants to be "spoils of war" and even the scriptures of these groups (the bible included, which is how slavery went on so long in the US) to do with as they please, and rape is one of the most heinous kind of retribution against the losing combatants. As long as women are objectified and considered property, this kind of horror will continue. It takes men to put pressure on other men to create an attitude of disgust and convey the unacceptable custom of sexual assault. Most men wouldn't drive a pink little car. Why? because society, peer pressure, makes them feel it is inappropriate. That same kind of pressure needs to be applied to the practice of rape. Unacceptable under any circumstances.

Nazis cheering arrested Nazis. “Protesters cheer on 'refugee attack' suspects” http://www.thelocal.se/20160212/protesters-cheer-on-refugee-attack-susp…
Note that they are Polish and Ukrainan.extreme-right thugs that apparently travelled far for the chance of beating up people.
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The demographic "Young men in the most criminally active age group from a region where social control rather than internalised rules (shame instead of guilt) dominate for norm enforcement" is a statistical outlier in comparison with other refugee Groups.

By Birgerjohansson (not verified) on 12 Feb 2016 #permalink

" It takes men to put pressure on other men to create an attitude of disgust and convey the unacceptable custom of sexual assault"
Sconded.
A problem is, many come frm areas where war has turned norm systems and culture inside out, like in Congo or Aghanistan.

By Birgerjohansson (not verified) on 12 Feb 2016 #permalink

On a completely unrelated note - I wonder what those pueblo figurines are singing?

By Jim Sweeney (not verified) on 14 Feb 2016 #permalink

A knowledgeable lady I know said that the type is called "storyteller figurines". But they do look like they're singing!

Washington Post (Richard’s poor Almanac): ”The language of valentines” http://www.gocomics.com/richards-poor-almanac/2016/02/15
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When the influx of refugees from the wars of former Yugoslavia peaked, Sweden got 140 000 refugees in one year.
Last year, we got 160 000, not all that many moore, and after WWII we got a cople of hundred thousand refugees from the Baltic countries. Consider that sweden was a much, much poorer country in 1945...
Briitain got 330 000 immigrants (not refugees) last year. That is half a per cent of their population. Considering the inevitable die-off of those born in the forties, it is a necessary influx to counter a population slump, at least if the British want to have pensions of the same size as they ave today.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 15 Feb 2016 #permalink

#22 - Britain is experiencing a measure of "white flight" - lower SES whites are decanting into Australia and still make up the largest proportion of migrants + refugees into the country.

In the last census, in answer to the question of ethnicity, 36% answered "English" - a higher percentage than those who answered "Australian". About 12% responded Scottish and about 10% Irish. And I would say that does not include the white South Africans who have fled from the country and taken refuge in Australia since the end of Apartheid. 2.5% answered Indigenous, and that would include the large majority of people who are of mixed Aboriginal/white or mixed Torres Strait Islander/white.

So contrary to what a lot of Australians might tell you anecdotally, the facts show that Australia is now more 'white' than it has ever been before, where 'white' means of Anglo-Irish ancestry. Ever.

So when you hear Australian politicians grandstanding about how Australia is the most multi-racial country in the world, and the most successful multi-racial society - 1. it's jut not true, as the census data show, and 2. it is 'successful' multi-racially because the minorities are still small and mostly keep their heads down out of fear of persecution.

By John Massey (not verified) on 16 Feb 2016 #permalink

it is ‘successful’ multi-racially because the minorities are still small and mostly keep their heads down out of fear of persecution.

I would venture a further guess that most of those minorities are concentrated in certain (mostly urban, except for the indigenous peoples) areas, and probably in certain neighborhoods within those urban areas. That's how it works in the US.

Many of my foreign-born colleagues who teach undergraduate (especially freshman level) courses get complaints about their accent. (This includes Europeans.) There is nothing wrong with my colleagues' English. They just have to deal with a bunch of students who only have experience with a handful of accents: standard US, New England (in the part of the US where I live), and possibly southern US and "British" (usually RP) via television. They aren't used to dealing with people from other places. Then they go to university, where it is normal to encounter people from other places. Couple that with many Americans feeling no need to learn a language other than English. That the professor speaks better English than almost all of the students speak German, Russian, Hindi, Chinese, etc., rarely occurs to the students.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 16 Feb 2016 #permalink

"I wonder what kind of event lead to entire 20-metre dinosaurs becoming fossilised as articulated skeletons."

Volcanic ash deposits.

It took me a while to think of that. Death by toxic gases and then burial by ash deposition. Well, it's a possible.

By John Massey (not verified) on 16 Feb 2016 #permalink

#29 - "I would venture a further guess that most of those minorities are concentrated in certain (mostly urban, except for the indigenous peoples) areas, and probably in certain neighborhoods within those urban areas. That’s how it works in the US."

Depends on SES, but yes, mostly.

I have to have some sympathy with the students. I watched the very funny video of Reese Witherspoon, drunk as a skunk, being arrested for disorderly behaviour by a young Georgia state trooper, and I couldn't understand a word he said.

Likewise, I've watched two movies recently, one English and one American, where I had to turn on the subtitles because I simply couldn't understand the dialogue.

I once found a German bar in Hong Kong where the barman and everyone drinking in the bar was German. At last, I thought, a chance to practice the German I learned at school So I started hanging out there and trying to eavesdrop in conversations. Nope, I could understand barely a word. I was berating myself for so badly forgetting a language I laboured for five years to learn.

Then one night a very smartly dressed guy walked into the bar, who evidently knew everyone there, and as he walked in he made a loud pronouncement to everyone; something concerning the state of his health, and every word he said was crystal clear to me. Delighted, I went up to him and said "I just understood every single word you said." He smiled and said "Yes. That is because I come from Hamelin, so I speak High German. All these people are speaking different dialects."

By John Massey (not verified) on 16 Feb 2016 #permalink

Yes, it doesn't mean high class or high standard, it means high altitude!

But I think now what was called High German is labelled as Standard German; because that's what I learned at school, and that's what the guy from Hamelin spoke.

I forgot to ask him if they are having any trouble with rats these days. I had forgotten about the Pied Piper.

He was a shoe salesman, but a remarkably well educated and well dressed one. I suppose you have to dress up if you work in the fashion industry.

By John Massey (not verified) on 17 Feb 2016 #permalink

John, of course the Southern US accent and many of the regional UK accents are likely to be unfamiliar to you. Being American, I'm more familiar with the Southern drawl, but I'd probably have more trouble with some of the regional UK accents if they were speaking too fast. Speed is a major factor here: I generally do OK with Spanish or German if the speed is slow enough, but native speakers on average talk much faster than people speaking in a second language.

Once, when visiting Cardiff with my mother, I had to translate a Welsh accent for her. A colleague who grew up in the US Midwest tells a similar story about a trip to Birmingham, where she had to have her German colleagues translate the West Midlands accent for her. But again, speed is a factor. I can understand Bavarian and even Swiss German dialects if the speaker is speaking slowly enough. (Or at least I could when I was regularly traveling to these areas; I haven't been over there in some years.) At speed, I don't stand a chance.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 17 Feb 2016 #permalink

So, the latest findings about anatomically modern human interbreeding with archaic human species/subspecies (Razib Khan uses Homo sapiens sapiens, so it looks like he's going with subspecies to describe Neanderthals and Denisovans) - and the more we know, the more difficult it becomes to understand.

Maybe the most satisfying conclusion for me from the latest work is that human culture did not suddenly explode 50,000 years ago. All of the supremacist presumptions about archaic admixture 50,000 years ago resulting in Eurasion superiority have been wiped off the slate.

The evidence that the first anatomically modern humans left Africa 100,000 years ago or longer is mounting. And the Red Deer Cave people begin to make sense, and the credibility of Chinese scientists in this area has received a boost - no, they are not just imagining things.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Since the English counties (and the Germanies - a united "fatherland" is a very recent thing) have not experienced migrations for a thousand years, the local languages can be expected to be nearly incomprehensible to outsiders (just consider the colloquial regional versions of Arabic). That the English (or the Germans) can understand each other at all is due to the centralising efforts of the rulers and the recent* technology changes (railroads, telegraphs, radio and TV).

* anything < than 200 years ago: pretty recent.
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The first aboriginies would have encountered this animal. It was actually more powerful than the African lion,
"Mighty marsupial lion claws its way out of the darkness" http://phys.org/news/2016-02-mighty-marsupial-lion-claws-darkness.html

By Birgerjohansson (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

My great great grandfather was actually Prussian, before German Federation.

It seems ridiculous now, but when I was a kid, scientists were puzzled by the teeth of Thylacoleo carnifex (there were several Thylacoleo species, but T. carnifex was the biggest) and the popular theory was that they lived on melons.

I used to go to the state museum and stare at the mounted skeleton of a T. carnifex, which they had mounted next to a skeleton of a modern African lion for comparison purposes, and think "Who the hell do they think they're kidding? That thing was built for ripping apart large prey animals."

And now that's the current theory - that they were probably ambush hunters adapted to preying on Diprotodontidae, probably by dropping onto their backs from trees and holding on with the enormous dew claws they had on their front legs, while paralysing the prey animal by crunching through its spine with those huge, bone crushing incisors.

Experiments have shown that they must have had a bite more powerful than an African lion. One good look at those teeth was enough to convince me of that, even when I was just a primary school kid. You don't need a brutal apparatus like that to crush a melon.

And yes, it's an assumption, but there is some ancient rock art that appears to portray a T. carnifex. If so, they had striped forequarters, like Thylacines. The Aboriginal artist painted it that way.

And if that's true, that it's an eye-witness portrayal of a T. carnifex, that would make it the oldest rock art ever found, by about 20,000 years.

What else - judging by the mounted skeletons I was fascinated by as a kid, they were about the size of an African lion or a little smaller, but with a stockier build and with very powerful front legs. They must have been animals that nightmares are made of for the first Aboriginal settlers, except that they had the weapon of fire, which they used regularly to clear areas of bush. 'Marsupial lion' is a reasonable common name, because of the similarity in size and general shape - they had similar skeletal morphology to a big cat. But in appearance when alive, no doubt very different.

Cooperative hunters? I don't see why - these buggers were not built for high speed charging like African female lions, they were built for stealth and ambush.

I'm just glad that my indigenous brothers extincted them long before I lived - I was born in Margaret River, and I would *not* have wanted to live there with those things around.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I think the find of that cave containing the remains of Pleistocene megafauna tells us something about the hunting style of T. carnifex, and maybe also of the smaller Thylacoleos - when I was born there, the surrounding countryside was very dense, lush temperate rain forest, with abundant large eucalyptus trees; very different country from much of Australia which is arid and often treeless.

Carnifex means butcher - the first person to identify and name a specimen was in no doubt about what those terrifying teeth were for. Not melons.

I took my daughter (a biologist) to the museum and showed her the mounted T. Carnifex, and told her about the 'lived on melons' theory - she thought it was a great joke. As did I when I was 9 years old, but who was I to gainsay the most prominent 'naturalist' in the community at the time? So I just used to snigger quietly whenever the melons theory was mentioned.

Just goes to show - don't always just believe the 'experts', particularly when the experts are not particularly bright, appropriately educated and expert.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I have a very old black and white posed photo (as they needed to be in those days) of my great great grandfather in his cavalry uniform, with his big moustache, mounted on his beautiful white horse, and wearing his helmet and his whacking great curved cavalry sword.

I'd like to say he was a military hero, but he wasn't - he deserted from the Prussian cavalry to avoid fighting in the Franco-Prussian war, and eloped with a French girl.

I come from a family of lovers, not fighters.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

#43 - The source was one very pig-headed 'naturalist' who made a loud public pronouncement about it, and would brook no disagreement with his carefully considered opinion. You could even find his name in Wikipedia before someone expediently buried the highly embarrassing 'melon' story. Everyone else lacked the courage of their convictions to publicly disagree with him, so the melon story hung around for a long time, even after that guy's death, and even when it was abundantly obvious that it was ridiculous.

Even in the museum, the plaque at the time read "thought to have lived on a diet of melons". Admittedly, wild melons grow in abundance in Australia and, although not sweet, they make very palatable jam when mixed with appropriate amounts of sugar so that it is just mildly sweet. The farmers used to call them 'pig melons' because they used to feed them to their pigs. Very good for pig feed, but *not* I think for obviously carnivorous animals at the apex of the food chain.

As a primary school student, I learned 'natural history' from just such a person, although not the same guy - a very observant and knowledgeable bushman who was a keen student of nature, but had absolutely no relevant tertiary qualifications whatever. He died only recently, a very old man. He made a lifetime living out of being a respected 'naturalist', but he was really a nothing, except a guy who spent long periods of time alone in the bush and was keenly interested in native fauna - not even a first degree in zoology or palaeontology or anything else relevant. But he was good at it, so he had a job for life with the museum. He did form a partnership of sorts with another guy who was a qualified zoologist, and no doubt picked up bits of the science from him.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

#45 - But the Franco-Prussian war was a walkover for the Prussians. The French lived up to John Cleese's description of then from I think Monty Python, but possibly from Fawlty Towers as "cheese eating surrender monkeys". But I guess my ancestor was not to know he could have made a glorious cavalry charge right into the centre of Paris without any serious resistance.

Anway, he kept his gonads intact long enough to father three sons. One moved to Trieste and opened a brewery, which is still operating today - I have drunk a salutary bottle of beer from that brewery, and it is pretty good typical Italian beer. The second moved to New York and became very successful as he owner of a funeral parlour.

And my great grandfather (at the age of 9??? but that is indeed what he did) and became a farmer, in fact a model farmer, often winning prizes for operating the best farm in the district. Then the government forced all the farmers into growing wheat, but declined to bail them out when the price of wheat crashed, so he went bankrupt, along with all of the others.

One of my late uncles was deeply into genealogy before he became blind from macular degeneration and could no longer use his computer, and he had actually located clippings from newspapers of the day about the government's disgraceful performance over that issue.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Oops - I mean he migrated to Australia at the age of 9 - even though his older brothers had migrated to Italy and America respectively.

By John Massey (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Your piece of trivia for today:

Australia has no official language.

By John Massey (not verified) on 22 Feb 2016 #permalink