The Dark Man of Cheddar

Cimmerians. These people were descendants of the ancient Atlanteans, though they themselves were unaware of their descent, having evolved by their own efforts from the ape-men to which their ancient ancestors had sunk. They were a tall powerful race, averaging six feet in height. They were black haired, and grey or blue eyed. They were dolichocephalic, and dark skinned, though not so dark as either the Zingarans, Zamorians or Picts.
– Robert E. Howard, “Notes on Various Peoples,” The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, p348-349

Then when I was about twelve I spent a short time in New Orleans and found in a Canal Street library, a book detailing the pageant of British history, from prehistoric times up to – I believe – the Norman conquest. It was written for school-boys and told in an interesting and romantic style, probably with many historical inaccuracies. But there I first learned of the small dark people which first settled Britain, and they were referred to as Picts. I had always felt a strange interest in the term and the people, and now I felt a driving absorption regarding them.
– Robert E. Howard, letter to Harold Preece, 20th October 1928*

Prof Mark Thomas and Dr Yoan Diekmann at University College London analysed the sequences generated at the Natural History Museum to establish what Cheddar Man looked like. It was previously assumed that Europeans developed paler skin many thousands of years before Cheddar Man, so he was thought to have had reduced skin pigmentation and fair hair. The results however, indicate that whilst Cheddar Man had blue eyes, he also had dark coloured curly hair and ‘dark to black’ skin pigmentation. This means that the lighter pigmentation now considered to be a defining feature of northern Europe, is a far more recent phenomenon.
– The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man Press Pack 

The recent news about Cheddar Man will come as no surprise to people with an interest in anthropology, or even ancient history. Britons with dark skin & black, curly hair have been recorded since the Roman period, with early 20th Century folklorists such as Margaret Alice Murray, David MacRitchie, and G.F. Scott Elliot detailing stories of the early inhabitants of the British Isles.

What is perhaps more surprising is the reaction to that news.

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The Opposites of Traitors

The logic of scorpions extends to many a party.

Mind how I say the Opposition Party are not traitors? Neither are the UK Government party – if anything, they’re the opposite of traitors. They may talk about how proud they are to be Scots – and they do, at length. They may claim they put their constituents’ interests first and foremost – and they do make such claims. But they are members of a party which is dedicated to the perpetuation of their chosen state. Their state is the United Kingdom. They can never work with the cause of independence, for it represents nothing short of an existential threat to them. Keep this in mind, next time you see some pundit acting surprised that a member of the UK Government’s party voted with the UK Government, even if they are Scottish. “Scottish” doesn’t enter into it. Scotland doesn’t enter into it. It never did.

I’ve had a look through the maiden speeches of all 12 new MPs who, we were told, would vote as a bloc for “Scotland’s interests.

Scottish Tories expected to vote as bloc to protect Scotland’s interests
Sources say leader Ruth Davidson will tell MPs to champion Scotland in Westminster, adding to pressure on Theresa May

…Scottish Tory sources say Davidson will use her authority by asking all 13 MPs, including the Scottish secretary, David Mundell, to “champion the Scottish national interest” both at Westminster and inside the government.

That includes fighting for greater Scottish powers and spending on fisheries and agriculture during and after the Brexit negotiations, to reinforce Holyrood’s existing powers in both areas under devolution.
She is also expected to ask the UK government to fund the Borderlands initiative, a cross-border economic and infrastructure investment coalition of English and Scottish local authorities which UK ministers had promised to support. The Scottish Tories won all three Borders seats on Thursday.

See if you can square their honeyed words with what happened last night. I would simply love to know how they think they are representing the interests of their constituents by denying their Scottish Parliament the right to even have a fair say in the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

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The Problem With “Meritocracy”

It’s a fraud.

Sure, the idea of meritocracy is sound: that the people most qualified to do the thing should be the ones who get to do the thing. In fact, it sounds like basic common sense. But when we’re dealing with people who are selfish, paranoid, and desperate to hold on to what they have over other people, it frequently becomes something else entirely. People like this are perfectly happy to cheat to get what they want: to buy high IQ scores, to plead their way into university, to rely on their famous relatives’ influence, all under the guise of “merit.”

Hence how Toby Young, a person who would be struck off the register if he was a classroom assistant, who won a place at Oxford as a result of a clerical error and his distinguished father’s intervention, who just happens to be a close friend to people in high places, was (briefly, thank heavens) appointed to a position of enormous influence over the education of millions of people.

Folk all across the political spectrum have thoroughly denounced the UK Cabinet’s appointment & subsequent defense of said appointment, proving this is not just another lefties vs righties bunfight, but a seriously bad judgement by a government practically making an Olympic event out of bad judgements. Many have, quite correctly, excoriated the inexcusable comments Young has made in regards to women, children, and minorities – but in the process, I can’t help but feel that something much darker and more terrible has been allowed to slip by unnoticed.

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Top of the Year, 2017

Thanks for all the well-wishes from everyone: I never like to jinx things, but I have been getting a bit better over the season.

So I don’t go all of December without a post, I thought it would be nice to have an end-of-year review of the Wilderness.

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The State Is Not The People

The Government of Catalonia declared independence. The international response has been overwhelmingly negative.

I empathise deeply with all those frustrated & outraged by this state of affairs. But if there’s one thing to take away from all this, it’s one simple fact: the State Is Not The People. The State is a construct to serve the People: when it does not suit its purpose, then the People reserve the right to change their State, as enshrined in the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This was reiterated by the current UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order following the Spanish Government’s reaction:

The right of self-determination is a right of peoples and not a prerogative of States to grant or deny. In case of a conflict between the principle of territorial integrity and the human right to self-determination, it is the latter that prevails.
Alfred de Zayos, professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy

It’s easy to be shocked at the sheer hypocrisy of the representatives of nations like Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, and the United States to withhold recognition of a new state given they owe their entire existence to then-illegal measures – even more so for Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Portugal, who you’d think would retain some memory of why they’re not currently part of the Spanish Empire. For these nations to deny Catalonia the recognition their forebears fought, bled, and died for, is the height of cruel, merciless, horrible irony, even as they implore a government which has already sent tanks and truncheons and bullets to see the “force of argument.”

But we must not allow ourselves to lose sight of the bigger picture here.

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Making a Mockery of Tragedy

I wasn’t going to comment on a recent piece in an anti-independence newspaper which once again chooses to inflate a stushie into a stramash, ably deconstructed here. But I do have to comment on this:

“That march showed that elements of the Yes movement are no better than the White Supremacists who ascended upon Charlottesville or the yobs within the Scottish Defence League.”

At the same time as this, we had the former chief of Project Fear and the billionaire author & professional litigator both promoting an identical “Brexiters are copying the Yes Campaign” agenda to newspapers you normally wouldn’t associate with left-wing, socialist sympathies. This would be tasteless any time, let alone the anniversary of the 2014 independence referendum which still hurts every independence supporter to the bone. But to do it when the Spanish Government – the same Spanish Government who they so eagerly acclaimed as another reasonable voice against “separation,” & who then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron actively collaborated with to thwart Scottish Independence – is actively suppressing the Catalonian’s right of self-determination in a manner more reminiscent of mid-20th Century Spain?

Aye, it’s terrible when friends fall out.

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