Archive for August, 2009

Question of the Week: If humans weren’t here, which animal could take our place?

Humans!

We’re great, aren’t we? Flying around the globe in our artificial vehicles, showing off our large brains and swanky opposable thumbs. We’ve mastered the lot. We’ve left the trees, split the atom, stuck a flag in the surface of the moon and invented the cappuccino. We’re king of the world! Sort of.

No other animal has achieved the position that humans have. We have manipulated our environment to an extraordinary degree, and have used our powers of imagination to create all kinds of never before seen inventions. We can even listen to the ‘noise’ from events that happened billions of years ago! Cool, eh?

But the truth is that despite all this, we’re nothing special. Everything humans can do can be found to some degree in the animal kingdom, we just do more of it and all at once. It’s a matter of quantity rather than quality.

So this week’s question is this: if humans weren’t the dominant species on the planet, what other animal could potentially be in the driving seat?

Of course, evolution is not directed and we could simply be an aberation. The exercise is simply one of imagination. Maybe dolphins could have invented the ocean equivalent of the wheel? Maybe bears and their  big brains would eventually get around to doing something more than catching fish and scaring Heath Ledger off his horse? How about meerkats with their complex social structures? Why stick with mammals. Maybe the world could be run by giant lizards? If you speak to David Icke, that’s already the case…

So, who are the pretenders to humanity’s throne?

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A Fraud in a Cassock

I cannot recall being a believer. I can recall not really having an opinion about things. Agnostic if you will. But I must have made my mind up early because I do remember joining St John’s church choir, simply because I fancied one of the choristers, to discover I had to pledge my love for and service to God each week.

This was difficult and I tried not to say “The Creed” out loud, mouthing it instead. I knew I was a fraud in a cassock. I was about 13.

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How to Keep Friends and Influence People

I’m concerned that when discussing matters with people I know, I might end up alienating my friends or people they are friends with. I can be a bit opinionated anyway and if you add in the extra flavour and motivation that comes from becoming more activist (such as joining the MSS)…well let’s say I can be a bit overbearing. So I need all the help I can get in improving my debating skills.

The recent problem I wanted to put on the table for discussion is this. One of my Facebook friends is called … “Jane” (alias. They’re all going to be aliases). Her partner is called “Peter” and they live together some distance away. I used to see them regularly and now it’s been a couple of years. So we’re friends on Facebook, me and Jane. Not long ago she posted some crackpot conspiracy theory that NASA planned to blow up the Moon (it was the planned 1st and 2nd stage impacts from the LRO) and shouldn’t we all be scared of what might happen.

So there were a few replies saying it was disgusting so I researched it then explained the facts in my own reply. But then I looked around and saw all kinds of Woo in her previous posts that had never come to my attention. So I suddenly realised that she was a credulous “believer”. I resolved not to get involved again, in the spirit of maintaining friends.

But then she posted some David Icke video in which he suggested no-one should take the Swine Flu vaccine. Dangerous, I thought, so I researched the video and made a post debunking it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pills, Ciggies, Guns and Catholic Bankers…

It emerged this week that a Roman Catholic bank in Germany has been indulging in some rather unethical and hypocritical investments.

The Pax bank, founded in 1917 for institutions and employees in the Catholic Church, was caught red-faced when it was revealed that they had invested almost £500 000 in an arms manufacturer, almost £750 000 in tobacco companies… and even over £137 000 in shares of a US company which manufacturers the contraceptive pill.

These investments, as we well know, run exactly contrary to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, which to this day still brands all forms of contraception as sinful – something Pope Benedict has made a real point of reiterating. Read the rest of this entry »

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Son of God says the flu vaccine will kill your kids

Last week, the British government announced that it would concentrate on immunising vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women and health care professionals, against the H1N1 “swine” flu strain, before considering whether to extend the vaccination program across the wider population.  Westminster is reported to have contracts in place for 132 million doses of the vaccine, enough to immunise the entire UK population. Whether they use it or not remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, the vaccination program has attracted the attention of Internet crackpot and former son-of-god David Icke, who contends that the swine flu vaccine is a conspiracy by the Illuminati to cull vast portions of the human population.

Oh dear.

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Feeling Jaded: Psychics in the Sun

In a story which appeared in the Sun on August 3rd, Jade’s mum Jackiey Budden has met with medium Jayne Wallace to find out what her deceased daughter has to say about such a range of topics as her widower Jack Tweed, the custody of her children, musical theatre and Oprah Winfrey.

In a 2-and-a-half-minute video on the Sun’s website – the highlights of a two hour seance – we see the so-called psychic performing a combination of tarot-reading and straight-out clairvoyance with Jackiey, who’s daughter lost a very public battle with cancer four months ago.

Now, I’m never one to speak ill of the dead.  Fortunately, there are mediums like Jayne Wallace who are happy to do that for me, making really disgustingly distasteful claims like:

  • Marrying Jack ‘was the biggest mistake [Jade] ever made’
  • ‘[Jack]’s gonna by a pub or a club with [Jade]’s money’ – a claim that gets swiftly re-written when the so-called psychic is told that he’s not getting any of her money, and the claim is suddenly adapted to mean ‘money he has made by selling out her memory’.  Selling her memory.  A bit like, say, the money Jayne the psychic and Jackiey the grieving mum would be making from the Sun for conducting a public and ghoulish seance, you might say?

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