Sunday 28 September 2014

It's Time For Global Sorry Day. The Killing Must Stop.

I know that it's crass to be saying such things as you'll soon be reading at the same time as I am advertising in the side bar. If I could 'suppress' the ads, I would. Please try to ignore them. Thank you. Now, read!
In 1997 Australia's non-indigenous people decided it was time to say "Sorry!" to the Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders, to begin to redress [oh, so tardily] the manifold and ramified wrongs they had visited on the the indigenous people of those lands from the first time outsiders began, nation by nation, to co-opt those lands for their own political and economic purposes. For murder and massacre, forced relocation, deracination, and more human rights violations than the United Nations and the Hague could shake a legal stick at.

So, I'm taking a page from Australia's recent history today.

I'm declaring Global "Sorry" Day.

Why now?

If not now, when?

I call on the people of this planet—yeah, you know who you are—to stop. the. killing. NOW. and everybody say "Sorry." 'Cause, but for a few, everyone is responsible for the violence that's disgusting right-thinking people everywhere, and which fills the nightly news, sewing the seeds for further atrocities in the name of reciprocity.

I've come up with a short list of the apologies that might be passed along to the people who're perpetrating atrocities in the present—especially those in the area shown in Figure 1. I hope that starting with "Sorry" might convince the recipients that those apologizing are sincerely committed to redressing AGE-old—and by that I mean really old—wrongs, to reinstating basic human rights, to treating everyone with the dignity that they, as human beings, deserve, and generally to playing nice together for, effectively, the first time in history.

Figure 1. The lands known today as the Near and Middle East. You'll notice that most are either mentioned in the Abrahamic holy books, or other historico-cosmological narratives originating in the region.
Feel free to turn on Track Changes and add away if I've forgotten anybody.

By the way, in the following, the group that should proffer the apology is in parentheses at the end of each apology.

"Sorry" to the local inhabitants of what later came to be called the Near/Middle East (see Figure 2), for annexing the lands and slaughtering the people of Mesopotamia—the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys (Akkadians and the Amorites).

Figure 2. Akkadian Empire ca. 2,340 BCE. The city-state of Kish was at its centre in the beginning.
"Sorry" to the local inhabitants of what later came to be called Canaan (Figure 3), to which a supernatural entity known only as "God" told Abram of Ur (in Mesopotamia) that he was to move and that it was to be his and his descendants' homeland, in perpetuity. One of Abraham's descendants, Joshua, eventually slaughtered the indigenous inhabitants and conquered great swaths of Canaan in the process of establishing the Land of Israel (Israelites). [Oh, and, by the way, just whose Promised Land was Canaan, in the beginning, before the Israelites were so graciously granted it by their now-unitary deity? Thass whad I'm talkin' bout. Evrybuddy owes everybuddy else a big, fat, apology, and PAY ATTENTION. NO. ONE. gets to say this land was always theirs. No. Buddy. 'Cept, o' course, that regions indigenous people—the ones that filled it up during the last Ice Age, and were there when wave after wave of furreners over-ran them in the original, agricultural, land grab. GET THAT? NOT. ONE. OF. THE. APOLOGIZING. GROUPS. GETS. TO. SAY. THAT. THE. LAND. WAS. THEIRS. TO. BEGIN. WITH. Period. Full stop.]

Figure 3. The Land of Canaan, eventually conquered by Israel's son Joshua, after "God" gave the lands to Abraham.
"Sorry" to all those people mentioned above, and some new ones—including those from present-day Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Bahrain, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Sudan, and Arabia (Assyrians). See Figure 4.

Figure 4. The Neo-Assyrian Empire. 'Nuff said, I think.
"Sorry" for a whole lotta shit that people in the following list did to other people in the name of fame and glory—or other equally shallow aims—and some truly abominable aims, such as genocide and eugenicide.

The Assyrian Empire(s), the Babylonian Empire, the Achaemenid Empire, Ancient Israel, the Kingdom of Armenia, the Seleucid Empire, the Parthian Empire, the Hittite Empire, the Egyptian Empire(s), the Carthaginian Empire, the Ancient Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the Sassanid Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Safavid Empire, the Afsharid Empire, the Mongol, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Russian Empire, the Mughul Empire, the German Empire, the Dutch Empire, the Portuguese Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Japanese Empire, the Imperial United States of America.

Did I leave anyone out?

Do I need to detail for you just why ISIS is lopping off people's heads, and why they are not doing so in a historical vacuum?

And, lest you think that I'm singling out the world's three great Abrahamic religions for abuse, or in any way blaming them for the mess they've gotten each other in, give your head a shake.

Deities and religions are just the ideology that masks the root cause of all of this—Power.

Pure and simple. The weak use it to justify their actions as easily as the strong do. It's all the same—all of a piece. It's power. "God" is just an excuse. So, when the strong and abusive one day become the weak and oppressed, the same "God" fuels their anger and thirst for payback. Power. Nothing more; nothing less.

Good "God" world! Get off your collective duffs and say "Sorry" for everything, to everyone, now and for ever. Even if you didn't personally take part, if you're living in one of the lands that were once inhabited by an original, indigenous population, you're profiting from the acts of others in the past, whether related to you or not. [Oh, and, for those of you in what's now Europe, unless you can trace your ancestry back to the hunter-gatherers that populated those lands after the Ice Age, you can forget being all smug and saying "I'm not like that. My people have been here forever." As far as I know, the only people left in this world who can truly make such a claim live in what's now Australia, parts of Africa, the Arctic and sub-Arctic people of the world, and the First Nations and other indigenous peoples of the Americas.

While we're at it, will somebody please apologize to the indigenous people of the Americas?

It's about bloody . . .  er . . . time. 

Tuesday 23 September 2014

TAG! I'm IT!


Great things are, indeed, afoot.

I've just booked a 15-day holiday in Manchester, England, later in the year. I'll be in Merry Olde from the 12th of December until Boxing Day, the 26th. Christmas in England—one of my lifelong dreams, soon to come true.

Manchester is in the southwest of the area known in Roman times as Brigantes, right near the border with Cornavii. Click here for an embiggened map with Manchester circled in red.

Oh, and you might have heard of Manchester, because it's the home of the world's most famous and popular soccer football team, Manchester United!

You're prolly wondering why I'd bother devoting an entire post to this bit of news.

I'll give you a hint or three.

Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley.

Alison Wylie.

Colin Renfrew.

The Subversive Archaeologist.

TAG, you're it!

OK. I'll stop this little game right now.

I've accepted an invitation to be the discussant at a symposium to be held at the founding Theoretical Archaeology Group annual meeting. *waits a moment for that to sink in*

Yup. That's right. Little [not that little, really]. Old [sadly]. Me [Ç'est moi!]. Un. B. Effing. Lievable!

Friend of The Subversive Archaeologist, Paul Preston, is one of the organizers, as you can see from the session description, below.

Wrap your head around that one, Dear Reader.

O' course, I'm gonna hafta bone up on my Deleuze. Whaddyamean, "What's the difference?" I'm with Deleuze on that point. I'm living proof that difference has nothing to do with being something else first. As to how that works into my epistemology, you'll just have to wait to find out!

If you're in Manchester at the TAG, your favourite subversive will never be far from the proceedings. Unless there's a good alehouse nearby!

I am seriously excited!

But, it's back to herding cats tomorrow morning. So. Gotta go. Bye. See ya.

SUBVERSIVE SHIRTS—The online store. Exclusively at the Subversive Archaeologist and street fairs around the Pacific Northwest

Friday 19 September 2014

Meet Mr. Gradgrind

I get up at 0530. Out of the house by 0630, and on the road. Cross the US--Canada border at around 0650, and head for the South Surrey Park and Ride. Hop on a bus at 0708 and catch the Skytrain from the King George Station at around 0745. Change trains at Columbia Station in New Westminster, and head for the Brentwood Town Centre (the vulviforme object in the lower right image, below). Stop for the requisite Starbucks coffee and make it to my cubicle by 0800. 

On the morning after the thoroughly ideologized Scots narrowly rejected rejecting their English oppressors, the route I've just recounted for you reminds me that there are English colonial reminders all over the planet. 

After a harried day herding felines for a large, multinational consulting company alongside some old and dear archaeologists, at 1630 I do it all again, except backwards, kinda like Ginger Rogers! And I'm back at World Headquarters by around 1830. Mr. Gradgrind woulda been proud. Donchathink?

Skytrain and the feeder busses make for a fabulous way to get around without a car in one of the world's most livable areas. IMHO!

Thursday 18 September 2014

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Herding Cats! Episode 1.

I'm crazy busy these days.

Friends from 30 years ago asked me to help them pump out 18 interim reports by 31 October on excavations that didn't get going 'til late August, and are ongoing. I'd be telling tales out of school, and it'd prolly be immensely unprofessional of me to give you the details. I can tell you that I'm working in Burnaby, BC.

I leave World Headquarters on the Salish Sea roughly two hours before I start work. First is a 13-mile (~20 km) drive to the nearest Park-n-Ride on the Canadian side. A half-hour bus ride gets me to the nearest mass-transit station. After one change, I get to work about 0800. If I leave a few minutes before 1600, I get home around 1800. If I mess up, it's 1830. That's if there's no backup at the US-Canada border, which there often is.

Saturdays I'm the proprietor and sole employee at the Subversive Shirts mobile storefront on Peace Portal Drive, Blaine, Washington, from 1000 until 1400 or later. Then it's back to World Headquarters to count my money, ready the mobile enterprise for the next outing, and a glass of wine or four before I collapse in the early evening.

Sundays are GOLD! But thanks to my efforts to stave off penury, they're often filled with the busy-ness of business—even nascent, yet to blossom, business. And then it's time to get ready for the next work week.

So, Dear Reader, you and the Subversive Archaeologist are the losers in this competition for my time.

I have to follow through on my commitment to help my old friends out of a bind, and in the process get paid more than I would have earned had I stayed at home filling your mind with excellent subversions.

So. I promise I'll be back full time some time in the future. And any time I see some egregiously credulous BS in the news, I'll lose sleep to keep you informed.

That's the best I can promise.


Still Here!

Monday 8 September 2014

I Can't *cough* Bear It Any Longer! I Have Been So Wrong About the Neanderthals. How Can I Go On?

At Gorham's Cave the archaeologists have finally gotten to the bottom of their site. And imagine what they found on the bedrock floor of the cave.
Gorham's garbage
I'm gobsmacked. Imagine. All this time I've been thinking that the Neanderthals were dummies. This has completely turned my worldview on its head. Gorham's Cave was a Middle Paleolithic Iberian artesaneria!
It's clear from the energy it took and the location of this inchoate expression of the creative germ: the Gorham's Cave Neanderthals must have been all about the PROCESS of the art, and not the PRODUCT. How much more honest, as artists, those Gorham's Cave Neanderthals must have been—than you or I could ever hope to be—to have valued their PRODUCT so little that in a matter of a few weeks the combined detritus of plucking feathers from dead, black vultures and the litter from countless pigeon feasts had almost certainly obscured their work, thus ensuring that it would remain forever unseen—but not forgotten in Neanderthal art circles—for posterity, if not for oblivion. How forward-thinking of them to make all of this sophisticated geometric art on the FLOOR of their home! They were so avant-garde they approached the post-garde! Later bipedal apes—the ones with the bona fide cognitive capacities—put all their art on the walls of caves, where it couldn't be shat on, or be rapidly covered by naturally accumulating dust and dirt. Artistic genius surely had its roots in the Middle Paleolithic of Gibraltar.
No doubt, there'll be nay-sayers who'll point out that there is a well-documented record of cave bears having made identical markings on the surfaces of caves in which they hibernated, from Iberia to eastern Europe, and everywhere in between, to say nothing of everywhere else in the world where bears have hibernated in caves. But I ask you, who couldn't tell the difference between those bold statements on the floor of Gorham's Cave and these futile faunal failures from Wells Cave, Orange County, Indiana (photo courtesy of Elliot Stahl)?
I mean, really! There's no comparison. Just ask the PNAS editor, Erik Trinkaus, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO. He would know. Really. A biological anthropologist; why wouldn't he know? Disregard any bad blood that he harbours for me and my thoughts. He was and is right about the Neanderthals. So are Finlayson, Finlayson, & Finlayson. Gawd that felt good! I feel all refreshed. Like a cave bear with a lotta pent-up energy. My eyes are clear at last. What a wonderful Paleoltihic world I behold. It's like . . . Wonderland. And I, the Mad Hatter.SUBVERSIVE SHIRTS—The online store. Exclusively at the Subversive Archaeologist and street fairs around the Pacific Northwest Order Online

Monday 1 September 2014

A Musical Interlude: Rodrigo y Gabriela

I was just checking out the latest from Paul Krugman, and was, as was he, quite taken by these two minstrels, Rodrigo y Gabriela, here filmed in a Moroccan deli in Paris. Fascinating and irresistible. Enjoy.