I wonder, I just wonder…..

From as far back as I can remember, Elsie would talk openly to us kids about the work she did at the convent. She and the other women, she told us, were made to assemble and package popular Hasbro board games.

“Tell us about Buckaroo!, Elsie?” we used playfully mock her, because she always gave the exact same response.

“Oh God, don’t talk to me about that aul Buckaroo,” she’d say.

“And that bloody Mouse Trap, the worst of the lot of them.”

One Christmas, when I was 12, someone gave me a present of a KerPlunk set.I felt confused. Even at that age, I still felt there was something inherently sinister about deriving any kind of enjoyment from a gift that my great aunt could have packaged at the convent in Waterford.

I knew from the stories Elsie told us at home, every Christmas , about how strict the nuns were.

I wonder whether the Good Shepherd Sisters packaged any other board games?

Dear God these Salon people are ignorant

In this blockbuster, Elizabeth Taylor plays Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt. It did not matter to the filmmakers that Cleopatra actually looked much more like Cicely Tyson. To cast an Egyptian pharaoh as anything but a White person would have been out of step with the racist fantasies the filmmakers desired to capitalize on. Whitewashing glorious non-Whites in history has been one of Hollywood’s favorite pastimes. As quite possibly the most acclaimed and popular movie on ancient Egypt, “Cleopatra” Whitewashed Black Egypt in the American mind probably more than any other film.

Egyptians would be pretty pissed off at being referred to as black if we’re honest about it, that’s something they use to describe the others further south. And Cleopatra wasn’t ethnically Egyptian anyway. Of Greek, Macedonian, descent.

True, not as pale white as Liz Taylor but most certainly not “black” in the meaning either of the time or today.

“The Passion of the Christ” did much more than tragically reinforce the myth that evil Jews killed Jesus—a myth that has inflamed anti-Semitic sentiment for centuries. If “Cleopatra” is the most notable cinematic Whitewashing of ancient Egyptians honored by the Oscars, then “The Passion of the Christ” is the most notable cinematic Whitewashing of Jesus honored by the Oscars. Jim Caviezel starred as Jesus Christ, satisfying the racist theological imagination that can only envision the son of God as a White man. To racist logic, just as the ancient Egyptian fashioners of human civilization must be White, God and his perfect god-son—the creators and saviors of humanity—must be White. Maybe the lightning that struck Caviezel during the filming of “The Passion of the Christ”—scourging him badly—was also meant to strike at this universal perception of Jesus as White.

Are Semites white? They’re certainly Caucasian….

This animated film produced by Walter Disney contained eight segments set to classical music. In “The Pastoral Symphony” segment, Disney presents an ancient Greco-Roman world of centaurs—heads of humans, bodies of horses—where Black female centaurs shine the hooves and groom the tails of the prettier White female centaurs. Critics immediately hailed “Fantasia” as a masterwork of animation, neglecting to mention it animated the racist ideas of Walt Disney for gullible American children.

Pretty weak really. American society really was pretty racist at that time. US Army was still fully segregated for example.

Black people had long been likened to apes in racist mythology. And so, it is hardly a stretch to say the film’s apes—who enslave the White astronauts after their long space journey—signify Black people in this movie.

Anyone noted that the Africa apes at least, chimps, bonobos, gorillas, are in fact black of face?

In the “Song of the South,” Walt Disney celebrated the docile, contented slave character of Uncle Remus, created and popularized by Joel Chandler Harris in the late 19th century. James Baskett starred as Uncle Remus and Disney cast Hattie McDaniel in her customary role as the happy Mammy.

Blimey, as best we know the Uncle Remus stories are the filtration through the slave experience of original West African stories. This is true oral history with a vengeance.

Ibram X. Kendi is an assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida

Another place to add to our little list of universities not to get educated at.

Interesting point

Fears have been raised in Hong Kong over creeping cultural dominance from Beijing after a broadcaster aired a programme subtitled with characters that are commonly used on the mainland.
More than 10,000 viewers complained to TVB after the media outlet used simplified Chinese characters for a news bulletin, as opposed to traditional characters which are common in Hong Kong.

As I understand it Taiwan is the only place left that actually has bits and pieces of Imperial, or at least pre-revolution, cooking floating around. The smaller offshoots of a culture being those that retain the older customs the longer. As here, with traditional and simplified characters.

The Benny’s being the last outpost of 1950s England sorta thing…..certainly, the one time I ever spoke to one on the phone it was like listening to, well, not 1950s, but perhaps 1900, Dorset or Devon perhaps.

From the Annals of the Righteous Amongst the Nations

Israel has honored the late Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds for risking his life to save Jewish American soldiers during World War II. What can you say about such a man?

The Nazi soldiers made their orders very clear: Jewish American prisoners of war were to be separated from their fellow brothers in arms and sent to an uncertain fate.

But Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds would have none of that. As the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer held in the German POW camp, he ordered more than 1,000 Americans captives to step forward with him and brazenly pronounced: “We are all Jews here.”

He would not waver, even with a pistol to his head, and his captors eventually backed down.

Seventy years later, the Knoxville, Tennessee, native is being posthumously recognized with Israel’s highest honor for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II. He’s the first American serviceman to earn the honor.

You don’t have to be Jewish to be a mensch.

Pretty much pisses on that Noble Savage idea, eh?

A chilling prehistoric ‘war grave’ containing the smashed remains of hunter-gatherers is the first evidence of a human massacre and demonstrates the terrifying aggression of early man.
The fossilised bones of a group of 27 hunter-gatherers, who were murdered 10,000 years ago, was discovered at Nataruk near Lake Turkana in Kenya.
Four victims, including one heavily pregnant woman were bound by the hands and feet before they was slaughtered. The others showed signs of extreme violence and some had blades and arrows still buried in their skulls.


The origins of human aggression are controversial, with many archaeologists believing that hunter-gatherers were largely peaceful, and did not resort to warfare until after the agricultural revolution, when groups grew jealous of the land and possessions of their rivals.

Possession of a hunting ground, a foraging area, is a possession. Think how aggressive nomads are today at preserving ownership of grazing rights….

This idea that all was peace and love in some early beginning simply cannot be true. We only need to observe humans today to see what we must have been like. Partly we can observe those societies that are still, roughly, hunter gatherers, various Amazon and Papua New Guinea etc. The murder and violent death rates there are stratospheric. Secondly, we can just observe in and out group behaviour among modern humans. That the Lower Bash Street Boys try to beat up the Upper Bash Street Boys after the footie has nothing at all to do with the footie, booze, the collapse of civilisation or which model of Doc Martens people should be wearing. It’s the remnant of that early past, that young men are like that. And a society in which young men are like that ain’t all that fun for everyone else.

Our forebears were ghastly, vicious, thugs. That’s why they survived and bred.


Cecil Rhodes was a man responsible for untold, unending devastation and violence. An architect of South African apartheid

They might want to have a little look at that history curriculum in Oxford really.

Unlikely really

Archaeologists say they have proven for the first time that Julius Caesar set foot on what is now Dutch soil, destroying two Germanic tribes in a battle which left around 150,000 people dead.

The two tribes were massacred in the fighting with the Roman emperor in 55 BC, on a battle site now at Kessel, in the southern province of Brabant.

That Jules might have killed Germans on Dutch soil, well, fine. But 150k of them?


That’s larger than the Vandals or the Goths were four centuries later.

15k possible, 1.5k why not? But 150k?

So, a thing about Bevin Boys

As regular readers will know I’ve long been of the opinion that conscription is slavery. And if a society can’t find enough volunteers to fight for it then that society doesn’t have much of a right to exist.

Which brings me to Bevin Boys. For some years (I think, maybe 4) those who were conscripted could be sent off to the coal mines. Bevin himself, I’m told, would pluck a number from a hat. And thus, weekly, those whose number ended in 08, 02, 03, dependent upon the number plucked, would, as part of that week’s conscription intake be sent off to the mines, not to the Army (the only armed service where conscription was a major feature of intake, at least in peacetime years).

And so there’s a bit I want to try and get my head around. Given that it’s conscription, and those plucked from the hat have to go off to some mine somewhere, how were they allocated? And how housed? And were they paid normal miners’ wages?

If it really was that lottery, so how was some 18 year old from Dorset set up with a mine job in Durham? And fed, lodged, trained and so on?

And the really important bit I’d like to know is what happened when someone said “Fuck You!”?

Sure, the Army’s got sergeants, jankers, jail cells. Coal mines don’t. So, no one could not turn up, because the police would arrest them, but how did they make sure that conscripts actually do anything? No, not going down the shaft. Or, if forced, not shovelling coal? What was the enforcement mechanism?

Anyone know?

How in buggery does this work?

As the historian Andrea Stuart demonstrated in her recent book, Sugar in the Blood, the original Tate galleries funded their collections from the slave labour that generated the wealth of the Tate & Lyle sugar empire.

Given that the original Tate and Lyle companies that were the constituents of the joint company were both founded some 35 years after slavery ended?

Err, no:

Another example is All Souls College in Oxford, “paid for by the profits generated by the slaves who toiled and died at the Codrington estate in Barbados”.

Codrginton’s will paid for the library. All Souls was there rather earlier.

Dr Gavin Lewis

Tsk eh, northern academics these days……

It’s important to be accurate

Or perhaps this is just pendantry:

That some of those 800,000 asylum-seekers Angela Merkel wants to welcome to Germany are being “housed in the former Dachau concentration camp” was irresistible, although they are not living in the death camp itself but only in an adjacent barracks.

Dachau wasn’t a death camp. It was a concentration camp, many died there, were executed there, were murdered, but it was not a “death camp”. Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, these were death camps. The distinction being that at a death camp the entire aim and purpose was to kill: prisoners were executed within hours of arrival. They were sent there to be executed and that’s that.

They don’t quite get the history, do they?

“His lineage has been traced and his forefathers were slave-owners and benefited from slavery,” he said. “We were left behind because of racism.”

This appears to be a reference to the fact that General Sir James Duff, Cameron’s cousin six times removed, received more than £4,000 compensation for loss of 202 Jamaican slaves when the trade ended 1833.

No, that’s when slavery ended in the Empire, not when the trade ended in the Empire.

Now this is amusing

The Labour leader told an audience of young supporters that he would like to see the national curriculum re-written to take into account the damaging impacts of British imperialism such as the slave trade.

Imperialism is usually thought of as the exercise of state power, yes? And the impact of British or even English state power upon slavery and the slave trade was to abolish it.

The slave trade most certainly existed before that, done by Brits and English and others as well. But it wasn’t exactly the state exercising its powers to do so really.

The attempt to do that was the South Sea Company which didn’t work out all that well.

Note what I’m saying here: not that slavery was good nor even the truth that everyone at the time was doing it as just about everyone had been doing it since whenever. Rather, just taking Corbyn at his word. We want to discuss the influence of the state upon slavery. Which was pretty good.

It’s amazing how the story changes, isn’t it?

Zoe Williams:

The ancient Anatolian settlement of Catalhöyük was utterly egalitarian, drawing apparently no distinction between genders


The most recent investigations also reveal little social distinction based on gender, with men and women receiving equivalent nutrition and seeming to have equal social status, as typically found in Paleolithic cultures

A human culture that makes no distinction between genders isn’t going to last very long. Certainly no Paleolithic nor Neolithic society is going to.

A society that makes no particular gender distinctions in nutrition will do just fine.

For example, the modern UK doesn’t make any particular gender distinctions on nutrition. But I think we’d be able to get Zoe to agree that it still makes rather too many distinctions based upon gender, no?

This is worth killing half the population for

Prof Tombs, speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival in Wiltshire, said: “Terrible though it is to say, the Black Death actually had some rather good effects. This was a good time to be alive.
“This was when the English pub was invented and people started drinking lots of beer and playing football and so on. That was in a way due to, or at least a consequence of, and wouldn’t have been possible without, the Black Death.”
Explaining why the century afterwards could be seen as a good time to live, Prof Tombs said: “The population was getting too great, becoming a strain on resources in agricultural society.
“And after the Black Death, things started to look up. People got better off. There was more land to go around. Resources were not so stretched. What was later called the feudal system largely disappeared.
“Serfs became free because they could simply say to their lords, ‘Ok, if you won’t give me my freedom I’ll go somewhere else’.
“And they did. So if lords wanted their fields to be tilled, they had to give their peasants or vassals what they wanted, which was essentially freedom and a better life.
“The standard of living people reached in the 15th century was not exceeded until the 1880s after the Industrial Revolution. And the amount of leisure they took was not equalled until the 1960s.”

I don’t say that I actually agree with his numbers. But the invention of the pub is indeed worth the slaughter of half the population through pestilence, of course it is.

I’ve long disagreed with this standard view that working hours increased at the time of the industrial revolution though. Entirely agreed that the plague made the survivors richer. But when I look in detail at the working hours claimed it’s the hours spent working for the Lord which are measured. Essentially, what people were doing in the monetary economy. And that just ain’t the total workload. There’s their own work upon their own lands, then there’s all the household work as well. For example, the standard story (Juliet Schorr) says that the peasants got 70 days holiday a year. Sure, there were 70 holy days, but animal owning peasants don’t get 70 days holiday, not from the care of their animals.

So, willing to believe that 1360s etc saw a substantial rise in living standards, some of which would be taken as increased leisure time, but not that leisure equalled that of the 1960s. Not once household production hours were added in.

Fun fact

Reading a history of the late Roman empire by Peter Heather. Enjoying it, talks a lot about the economy etc.

As an aside he tells us that the marble mines all pretty much closed down in the 390s. Constantine has gone Christian 60 years before, but paganism still thrived. And it was really only in the 390s that all the pagan temples got pulled down leading to a glut of second hand marble on he market, thus to the closure of the mines.

Sorta like what’s happened to the US steel industry really. So much scrap is now recycled that many of the blast furnaces have closed….

Bad, bad idea

Landowners’ rights to use their property as they wish are to be watered down for the public good, a senior SNP minister has warned as she unveiled a Left-wing agenda to create a socialist society over the next century.

Aileen McLeod, the Scottish Land Reform Minister, told a conference in Edinburgh that the “core of my approach” is to shift the balance of the law so that the “public interest” is given greater precedence at the expense of “individual’s rights.”

Property rights are the foundation of a functioning economy. No, this isn’t the beginning of a classically liberal diatribe: rather, an observation from some history I’ve been reading. We have had societies where ownership was vested, sa a perk of the job, only for a generation and not then inherited. This isn’t exactly what is being said here but it’s closer to it than the current situation.

And those societies failed. Badly.

You can tell how this article is going to go, can’t you?

Vietnam 40 years on: how a communist victory gave way to capitalist corruption

After the military victory, Vietnam’s socialist model began to collapse. Cut off by US-led trade embargos and denied reconstruction aid, it plunged into poverty. Now its economy is booming – but so is inequality and corruption


Always that excuse, that it’s external factors that lead to the socialist poverty.