Was strongly tempted to put this into the “Bloody Nora” section of the website but no, I’ll leave it as a stand alone.
Thanks to Calum Cashley for pointing it out to me…
Where are we? – A question that has been ever more accurately answered by a long stretch of people from Aristarchus of Samos to Edwin Hubble and many many before, between and after. Suffice to say we have a very good idea now.
Who are we and what are we? – I would posit that both of these have been satisfactorily answered by Darwin but not in the sense that many people who seek to misrepresent Darwin for right-wing political ends would suggest. Let us not forget that one of the reasons that Darwin got time to study his science more was that he fell out with the ship’s captain (whom he was employed to talk to…he wasn’t employed to be ship’s naturalist) because the captain agreed with slavery and Darwin vehemently did not.
How are we and/or how should we be? – This one is the province of the philosophers ie all of us.
Why are we? – Probably unanswerable question.
When are we? – This has also been convincingly answered. Look it up yourself – you have the time.
And today we got a lot closer to another one…
Are we alone? – I know that this is not a definitive answer but the odds just changed considerably. It is possible that over time this will become one of the biggest stories in history. If it isn’t this one, there is a high possibility it will be another one… and soon.
Check it out. I am completely unashamed to say that the fact we are attaining such a level of understanding is one of the great things about being alive in this time. The tragedy, as it has been pointed out before, is that just as we are on the point of getting it we are also on the point of fucking our little corner of it up beyond repair.
Here is what won’t help…
This is the first part of an only tangentially related two-part post.
There is a famous song by French anarchist George De Brassens that will be part two, but in this first part I just want to post a little film I made to show that the term “Brother Gorilla” is not actually that far from the truth.
The audio is Douglas Adams and comes from probably his best book which is Last Chance to See. I haven’t actually seen any of the more recent TV series with Stephen Fry but I am sure I will get around to watching it soon enough.
Speaking of Stephen Fry, I recently watched a debate on youtube featuring him that you could watch and some of the things in that debate I wrote about a while ago in a slightly different way and got a little bit of abuse for.
Anyway, the film…
I am not normally the kind of person to look at tima magazine but here is a good little picture album of 10 Species Near Extinction.
Also here is the film I made about extinctions a while ago [the music starts after about a minute] and another link to my extinction site which I haven’t updated for a while but am back on the case now.
Like a lot of people, especially in Britain, I grew up watching David Attenborough programmes. I still watch them all the time as they are far and away the best of their kind and I can’t stand most other kinds of TV programme.
Attenborough is a very well-loved figure in Britain. The strange thing is that he has recently been becoming controversial.
Originally, many of the climate change activists were angry that Attenborough wasn’t saying much about the problem.
Then he made a documentary called ‘The Truth about Climate Change’ of which this is an excerpt with some commentary…
I also noticed a great post or two at Wis[s]e Words where he shows that Dutch Evangelical TV had been editing his programmes to remove all references to evolution. The links for 3 videos [in English] demonstrating the editing are HERE, HERE and HERE
In January 2009, Sir David revealed that he had received hate mail from viewers for not crediting God in his nature programmes.
The most recent documentary , ‘Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life’ might not have helped him in those circles.
However his most recent pronouncement may be causing outrage from the very same people as he has started to talk about human overpopulation.
He has become the patron of the ‘Optimum Population Trust’ which is a group that accuses both governments and greens of having a taboo on the subject of human population.
As the BBC article says…
In a statement issued by the Optimum Population Trust he is quoted as saying: “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more.”
The Trust, which was founded in 1991, campaigns for the UK population to decrease voluntarily by not less than 0.25% a year.
It has launched a “Stop at Two” online pledge to encourage couples to limit their family’s size.
Overpopulation is the elephant in the room.
So more power to David – even if I suspect he would find my ideas a little to the left of his.
Just reposting a little film I made. The voice is Douglas Adams..
When I see this kind of thing with adults I find it utterly depressing but to see these people let loose on children makes me unbelievably angry. I also find it quite sinister the way he gets the kids to repeat what he says.
Why don’t you take a ‘biblically correct’ tour of a science museum…
Maybe they should go to this church instead… as one of the comments says ‘The lord is my selecta, I shall not want beats’
Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful.
I have been waiting for a long time for someone to put this on you tube.
If you are having a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon you should take the time to watch this. Douglas Adams had the fabulous skill of educating you without you even realising it because you were laughing too much to notice.
This is a perfect example. It is an hour and a half long and you will absolutely love it. I implore you to watch it, you’ll thank me for it…
Parrots, the universe and everything – Douglas Adams.
I once turned down a totally free, all expenses paid trip to Rome.
I was 17 years old and still at a catholic school, though I had long given up any interest in the religion and had in fact come to resent it because of a number of things that had happened. 
The occasion I was being offered the trip to Rome for was one of the Scottish catholic archbishops being made into a cardinal. The catholic schools in Glasgow each had to send two students as representatives.
Even though I had never shown any interest in the religion I was asked to go to represent the school. A possible reason is that a girl I was friendly with at the time was selected as the female representative and she suggested me. Another is that they were trying to ‘wow’ me into it (you know, the majesty of Rome and the Vatican and everything).
I did consider it briefly (free trip to Rome after all) but quickly decided against it and recommended a good friend of mine instead, who duly went.
I remember everyone being nonplussed with my decision.
‘Why are you turning this down?’
‘Cos I think it is a lot of horse shite.’
‘Free trip to Rome ya tit.’
Since then I have been locked into a cycle of being happy that I did the right thing morally and refused to go on some junket because I didn’t believe in the whole thing and thinking I was stupid for turning down the trip, especially because I haven’t been there since.
The second feeling was exacerbated by the tales of the holiday my friend told me. It turned out to be mostly sightseeing and free or cheap wine and champagne with only a little bit of religion thrown in. Maybe I could just have ignored the religion stuff and seen a bit of the world?
The odd thing is that a lot of the people who were saying I should just hang the religion and take the trip for the sake of the trip were religious people. An ex-girlfriend of mine was aghast and couldn’t see why I didn’t just go. I would have thought that people who actually believe in these things would have been happy that I made the correct moral choice and gave the trip to someone who would appreciate it more and not be tempted to stand at the back and shout ‘rubbish’ all the way through the ceremony.
However, I have had the chance to do my fair share of travelling since then so it doesn’t seem so bad now.
Also, some of the pronouncements of the man that was made into a Cardinal have made me very happy about my decision.
Cardinal Thomas Winning was a man who thought that discrimination against gays was “not unjust” and that homesexuality is a “a disorder… that’s got to be… dealt with”. He also made another amount of bizarre and intolerant statements that made me glad of my decision not to attend.
Oh, and Tony Blair liked him too, so I obviously did the right thing.
 One of the things that had happened was that at my cousin’s confirmation a different bishop stood up and made his little speech which included a disgusting section about abuse. There had been a child abuse scandal involving the church, which he admitted was a bad thing. However, he said that far worse than this was ‘spiritual abuse’ of a child, which he defined as not bringing the child up to be a proper catholic.
Every parent in the room was furious and I waited for the meet and greet bit at the end and gave him a piece of my mind, which, being a bishop he certainly didn’t seem used to.