Archive for July, 2012

Halkirk Man the Subject of an Amusing but Scientifically Inept Article


Former North Highland College lecturer and Open University co-coordinator, Ian Kinnaird has appeared in a number of national newspapers following his taking part in the Britain’s DNA project. At £170 or £200 a pop (depending on whether its a woman or man respectively, requiring only their mitochondrial DNA or mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome checked), anyone can send-off a sample of epithelial cells for analysis.

Kinnaird did so, and his paternal line was traced as far as Scandinavia. His maternal line, on the other hand, indicated a genetic marker – named L1B1 – which previously had been seen only in subjects from West Africa, and traced back to a female progenitor some 30,000 years ago and identified as on a direct line to another female progenitor from 190,000 years ago in Central Africa. (Calling her Mitochondrial Eve would suggest there is only one source for the mitochondrial lines, instead of the emerging acceptance that the mitochondrial lines are traced back to one of several early females humans. And speaking of more than one Mitochondrial Eves surely defeats the purpose of this analogy.)

All very interesting. My first thought was that, within the past two or three centuries, Kinnaird’s mother’s family had a female West African slave in its line. And this does originate in Merseyside, which would have been a significant entrepot for this human cargo.

Then the twaddle started with claims such as he was the grandfather of everyone in Britain. (In addition to repeating this, the Daily Telegraph also appears to have mis-labeled a photograph of Britain’s DNA founder, Alistair Moffat as Kinnaird.)

Hardly. They might as well call me my siblings’ grandfather.

Compared to that, the additional a priori failure shown by the Daily Mail was relatively minor. It described him as a descendent from the first woman on Earth.

Again, no. The Mitochondrial Eve hypothesis does not claim that the numera una ancestor was was the first woman to have lived. Merely the end-point of genetic tracings.

At least the Daily Mail used a correct photograph.

Thurso Woman Named Honorary Fellow of Cancer Research UK


Although I have some misgivings about the way in which appeals to donate to national charities can be used as a swaddled cudgel to extract funds, I freely help out at certain charity shops myself and cannot fault others. Into the second category falls the Cancer Research UK shop in Thurso which, as I recall, was one of the top – if not, the top – branches UK-wide.

The long-serving manager, Wendy Meiklejohn just has been awarded the charity’s Flame of Hope award and named as an honorary fellow for, amongst other achievements, superintending the first local Relay for Life rally. When first held in 2008, it raised £120,000, and last year reached £169,000.

Moves Behind Scenes for Thurso Cinema


The John o’Groat Journal reports on continuing backroom discussion about the re-opening of a cinema in Thurso.

One source of potential competition will be the Pulteneytown People’s Project in Wick, which recently started showing films. I am unclear though if this includes the latest releases, or if it will be run along the lines of a film club.

Either way, it is unlikely to offer the same facilities as a well-run site at Thurso (something which has not been altogether realized in the past). Rob Arthur, who is leading the planned re-opening, proposes an initial reliance on existing 35-mm equipment onsite before upgrading to digital; including replacing the current bowling alley with smaller digi-screens, or allowing showings of opera productions and television extravaganzas.

Arthur previously had established cinemas on three continents as well as acting as managing director of Apollo Cinemas. He resigned earlier this year after the sale of this independent chain following wranglings over the estate of Anita Gregg, wife of founder Paul Gregg.