Topic: Dark hair was common among Vikings, genetic study confirms
They may have had a reputation for trade, braids and fearsome raids, but the Vikings were far from a single group of flaxen-haired, sea-faring Scandinavians. A genetic study of Viking-age human remains has not only confirmed that Vikings from different parts of Scandinavia set sail for different parts of the world, but has revealed that dark hair was more common among Vikings than Danes today.
What’s more, while some were born Vikings, others adopted the culture — or perhaps had it thrust upon them. “Vikings were not restricted to blond Scandinavians,” said Eske Willerslev, a co-author of the research from the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen.
Writing in the journal Nature, Willerslev and colleagues report how they sequenced the genomes of 442 humans who lived across Europe between about 2,400BC and 1,600AD, with the majority from the Viking age — a period that stretched from around 750AD to 1050AD. The study also drew on existing data from more than 1,000 ancient individuals from non-Viking times, and 3,855 people living today.
Among their results the team found that from the iron age, southern European genes entered Denmark and then spread north, while — to a lesser extent — genes from Asia entered Sweden. “Vikings are, genetically, not purely Scandinavian,” said Willerslev. However, the team found Viking age Scandinavians were not a uniform population, but clustered into three main groups — a finding that suggests Vikings from different parts of Scandinavia did not mix very much.
The team found these groups roughly map on to present-day Scandinavian countries, although Vikings from south-west Sweden were genetically similar to their peers in Denmark. Genetic diversity was greatest in coastal regions. Further analysis confirmed the long-standing view that most Vikings in England came from Denmark, as reflected in place names and historical records, while the Baltic region was dominated by Swedish Vikings, and Vikings from Norway ventured to Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and the Isle of Man.
However, the team says remains from Russia revealed some Vikings from Denmark also travelled east. The study also revealed raids were likely a local affair: the team found four brothers and another relative died in Salme, Estonia, in about 750AD, in what is thought could have been a raid, with others in the party likely to have been from the same part of Sweden.
In addition, the team found two individuals from Orkney, who were buried with Viking swords, had no Scandinavian genetic ancestry. “[Being a Viking] is not a pure ethnic phenomenon, it is a lifestyle that you can adopt whether you are non-Scandinavian or Scandinavian,” said Willerslev, adding that genetic influences from abroad both before and during the Viking age might help explain why genetic variants for dark hair were relatively common among Vikings.
Steve Ashby, an expert in Viking-age archaeology from the University of York, said the study confirmed what had been suspected about movement and trade in the Viking age, but also brought fresh detail. “The evidence for gene flow with southern Europe and Asia is striking, and sits well with recent research that argues for large-scale connectivity in this period,” he said. “[The study] also provides new information about levels of contact and isolation within Scandinavia itself, and offers an interesting insight into the composition of raiding parties.”
英國約克大學的維京時代考古學專家史蒂夫‧阿什比指出，這項研究證實了先前科學家對於維京時代遷徙和貿易活動的猜測，並且帶來新的細節。「（維京人與）南歐以及亞洲基因流動的證據相當驚人，也吻合近年研究主張這段時期大規模的人類交流情況。」阿什比表示：「（這項研究）傳達新的資訊，透露斯堪地那維亞半島內部交流和隔離的程度，並且提供有趣的見解，讓我們一窺強盜集團的組成。」Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/09/27/2003744127
Topic: Finland Has Faith In the Euro
Finland is, in many ways, the anti-Greece.
Like Greece, it is geographically far from the core Western European powers of Britain, France and Germany. And like Greece, it uses the euro currency. But unlike Greece, it is a model of sound governance and responsible use of debt.
Yet Finland’s economy is also not doing so great, with an 11.8 percent unemployment rate and with contracting gross domestic product in the last three years.
A number of American commentators have looked at Finland’s current economic troubles as a clear sign that what ails the eurozone is far deeper than profligate spending by the Greeks. Paul Krugman has made that case at The New York Times, Tim Worstall at Forbes and Matt O’Brien at The Washington Post.
Alexander Stubb, the Finnish finance minister, thinks they’re wrong. I brought this up with him recently in Espoo, the Helsinki suburb where he lives. His vigorously defense what the euro has done for Finland, and his comments help explain why elite opinion about the euro is so different on the two sides of the Atlantic.
There are three main causes of Finland’s economic weakness. Nokia has gone from the world’s largest mobile phone maker to an afterthought, costing thousands of Finnish jobs and many more when its supply network is counted. Demand for paper, another major export, has fallen. And the economy of neighboring Russia, with which Finland has deep trade ties, has collapsed because of plummeting oil prices and Western sanctions.
Because Finland has used the euro since its inception, the value of its currency cannot adjust in ways that would cushion the overall Finnish economy from those shocks. If Finland still had its old currency, the markka, it would have fallen in value on international markets. Suddenly other Finnish industries would have had a huge cost advantage over, say, German competitors, and they would have grown and created the jobs to help make up for those lost because of Nokia and the paper industry and Russian trade.
“Rubbish,” Mr. Stubb said. To evaluate the euro, you can’t just look at what he calls a current “rough patch” for the Finnish economy. You have to look at a longer time horizon. In his telling, the integration with Western Europe – of which the euro currency is a crucial element – deepened trade and diplomatic relations, making Finland both more powerful on the world stage and its industries better connected to the rest of the global economy. That made its people richer.
“In the early 1990s in the middle of a Finnish banking crisis and economic depression, we were a top 30 country in the world in per capita G.D.P.,” he said. “Then we opened up; we became members of the E.U. Now we’re always up there in G.D.P. per capita or whatever other measure you look at with Sweden, Denmark, Australia and Canada.”
As to whether the ability to devalue its currency would help deal with the current economic downturn, Mr. Stubb is similarly skeptical.
“Devaluation is a little like doping in sports,” he said. “It gives you perhaps a short-term boost, but in the long run, it’s not beneficial. Just like anyone else, we need structural reform, structural adjustment; we need to increase our competitiveness, and a little bit of luck.”
「貶值有點像是運動賽事服用禁藥，」他說。「或許能在短期內增進你的表現，但長期而言並沒有好處。跟任何其他人一樣，我們需要結構性的改革，結構性的調整；我們需要增強競爭力，再加上一點點好運道。」Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/283515/web/
Topic: In Sweden, Happiness in a Shorter Workday Can't Overcome the Cost
A controversial experiment with a six-hour workday in one of Sweden’s largest cities wrapped up this week with a cheerful conclusion: Shorter working hours make for happier, healthier and more productive employees.
There’s just one catch. The practice is too expensive and unwieldy to become widespread in Sweden anytime soon.
The two-year trial, which took place in the southern city of Gothenburg, centered on a municipal retirement home where workers were switched to a six-hour day, from eight hours, with no pay cut. Seventeen new nursing positions were created to make up for the loss of time, at a cost of around 700,000 euros, or $738,000, a year.
Although it was small, the experiment stoked a widespread discussion about the future of work, namely whether investing in a better work-life balance for employees, and treating workers well rather than squeezing them, benefits the bottom line for companies and economies.
“The trial showed that there are many benefits of a shorter working day,” said Daniel Bernmar, the leader of the Left party on Gothenburg’s City Council, which had pushed for the experiment. “They include healthier staff, a better work environment and lower unemployment.”
But the high price tag, and political skepticism about the practicality of a shorter workday, was likely to discourage widespread support for taking the concept nationwide.
“The government is avoiding talking about the issue,” Mr. Bernmar said. “They’re not interested in looking at the bigger picture.”
While a growing number of countries and companies are studying the concept of employee happiness, the idea of improving it through shorter work hours has by no means gained broad traction. In Gothenburg, the City Council’s conservative opposition parties derided the experiment as a utopian folly and sought to kill it, citing high costs for taxpayers and arguments that the government should not intrude in the workplace. The current government is also not backing a shorter workweek.
Even the handful of progressive political groups aligned with Mr. Bernmar’s Left party have not made a six-hour workday in Sweden a priority in their platforms. Nor have large Swedish companies, including multinationals active around the world, embraced the idea. Other Swedish towns that previously conducted limited experiments with a shorter public-sector workweek eventually abandoned the concept, citing high costs and flawed implementation.