Review: Walking With Dinosaurs

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This arena show of the BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs is amazing. All the dinosaurs are life size and it was really staggering to see them compared to the human MC of the show as a size comparison. Smaller dinosaurs … Continue reading

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No clever name for garden post

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This gallery contains 10 photos.

Time for a garden visual fest! Okay, so about the cranky spider. When I was taking the photo, I thought that the white thing on the strawberry bloom was plant debris. So, I reached out and tried to pull it … Continue reading

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Faith is belief absent of proof

I am not sure which is more disturbing, that explainable things are deemed miracles or the low caliber of what’s claimed to be a miracle.

A miracle is supposed to be something that cannot be explained – and not in a we just haven’t figured out the trick yet way.

Babies being born is not a miracle. It’s a well documented and explainable process – and with over 6 billion people on the planet, it’s far too common.

Diseases go into remission all the time and too often, people who claim a miraculous healing lack any documentation that they were ever sick to begin with.

I can’t fathom how anyone could claim Mary or Jesus’ face on toasted bread products, wood grain, the faces of broken rocks, mold, clouds or a host of other locations as a miracle. Is that really the best that these alleged holy people can pull off? Peek a boo I see you?

How about using that miracle power for something meaningful? Save a life, end a war or disease, or clean up some environmental disaster.

Don’t even get me started on disasters where the handful of survivors say they felt god keeping them safe when others were allowed to perish. If this god character was really looking out for them, why not avert the disaster or save everyone? Seems pretty ineffectual a god to me and more likely a justification in the brain to deal with survivor guilt.

But I’d like to know how one of those survivors could look into the faces of the family of one of the dead and make that claim. God saved me because it wasn’t my time and I have a purpose yet to fulfill. Right, like their relative was so done with life.

It’s appalling how frequently the stories of weeping or bleeding statues or paintings of holy figures make the news on page 1 and the story that reveals the fraud is on the back page.

The worst one of course is the Shroud of Turin. A centuries old fake that even the Vatican isn’t dumb enough to claim as authentic – focussing instead that the devotion and belief of the sheeple as more important for it’s symbolic meaning than the reality that it’s a clear hoax.

Even without going to the carbon dating and the history of textiles – just look at the image itself.

It appears to be a man – but the proportions of the face and body are incorrect.

The first area of concern is the head. The image is the front and back of what appears to be a man.

Here’s a close up of the head – you see the front of the head and the back of the head.

1 inch thick?


But no top of the head, like you’d expect if the continuous cloth was wrapped over the head . So, unless the person wrapped in this cloth was about an inch or so thick….

The placement of the eyes relative to the head is wrong, there’s no sides of the body and the limb to body ratio is wrong. If this was a person, it was a very malformed person.

The carbon dating by several independent labs also dates the shroud so the 1200-1300’s. And let’s be serious, they didn’t take the same from the later patches, but the actual cloth. Nor would whatever smoke residue be an issue.

Which, incidentally is 1300’s textiles, as the woven pattern was not seen in the 1st century.

There’s been two re-creations of a shroud. The first was in 2005 using sunlight and painted glass.

Then there’s the recreation of it by Italian chemist Luigi Garlaschelli in 2009.

Check here for a side by side comparison:

which is the real fake and which is the fake fake?

Does all the evidence that this cloth is a hoax change anyone’s religion?

No, and really why should it?

Religious belief has never been grounded in evidence but is essentially a rejection of evidence.

This cloth won’t change anyone’s faith, in either direction.

People who are convinced that this is proof that there was a Jesus who rose from the dead, transferred this image to the cloth as evidence of his passion… to them I say it’s time to put this Tissue of Turin away.

Virginity vs Virginity

What makes male virginity different from female virginity?

Male virginity is deemed almost a stigma and something to be dispensed with as soon as possible.

While female virginity is a mystical status that must be preserved until marriage. Maybe even beyond.

But who are the males to lose their virginity to when females aren’t supposed to lose theirs? The pro-virginity crowd frowns on gay sex as much, if not more, than premarital sex.

The attitude of boys are studs and girls are sluts for engaging in the same sexual behaviours is just as harmful to boys as it is to girls.

The idea that there’s girls you have fun with and girls you marry is just as bad and largely it is propagated by girls who are seeking to reduce their competition – there’s no benefit to boys in that adage.

Nor really for the married girls, since sexual non-compatibility is one of the leading causes of divorce. Better to know what you like and find a compatible sexual partner than enter into a commitment intended to be life long and having no clue about your or your partner’s sexuality.

Certainly part of what underlies these attitudes are biology. Male genital are out in front and are handled several times a day for urinating and masturbation. Males are encouraged to be sexual, even though masturbation will make you go blind and get hair on your palms. Seriously, masturbation is the original victimless crime.

Female genitals are internal and specific effort must be made to view yourself. Prior to the invention of the earliest mirrors, who knows if women took that empowering step of self-discovery.

Girls are taught that their genitals are dirty, smelly and contaminated. Girls are discouraged from touching themselves “down there.” Many cultures have forced – and continue to force – women into seclusion from regular society or activities while they are menstruating. This serves to reinforce that the vagina is to be feared and shunned.

Before humans domesticated animals and had the opportunity to observe the animal cycle of mating and birthing, there probably wasn’t a connection between sex and babies.

Chances are that even with dividing labour along gender lines, it probably wasn’t until the sex/baby connection was realized that women became more property of men.  Although, this would have had some benefit to women, as it tied the male closer to her for protection and big game provision.

But, when comparing a penis that can double as a pen during winter, the vagina seems far more psychologically powerful.

Women bleed regularly without dying, women birth the babies, and for many males, the vagina represents an endless hungry mouth. The vagina, being composed of many parts that can be stimulated from several positions and angles, can seem to be an endless consumer of pleasure.

To the best of our knowledge, the clitoris is the only human organ who’s sole function is pleasure and it has the highest concentration of nerves in a woman’s body.

It’s always struck me as wrong that men are presumed to be more interested in sex, when women have the greater capacity for multiple-orgasms and sexual endurance.

As psychologically mighty as a thrusting penis can seem, a properly warmed up vagina can take anything the penis can dish out. Sort of like that Ginger Rodgers did all the same steps Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in heels and for none of the credit.

It’s incorrect to thing of virginity as a pure or innocent state. Virgins have sexual urges and desires. Virgins can and should masturbate to learn what their body likes – and as sex columnist Dan Savage advises, always vary your routine so your sexual response is as varied as possible and not locked into one type of stimulation.

An interesting study identified a correlation between the number of religions in a region and the number of diseases. The tropics had the highest incidence of both religions and disease.

Despite being an atheist, I am not saying religion is a disease – I think it’s a dangerous cultural by-product – but religion serves as a measure of aversion to contamination.

Prior to the discovery of bacteria and viruses, people thought that diseases were curses or punishments and the way to avoid being cursed or punished was to be pure in body and spirit. Religion was a guide to being pure. Since sex requires a certain amount of physical closeness and often is the infection path, it’s not hard to see why and how religions often try to regulate sex or ban it outright.

Plus, if you can control something as primal as sexual behaviour, then you really can control the person – and that’s what religion is all about – controlling you – your thoughts, behaviours and wallet.

Every human has the capacity to think, to evaluate information, to make judgments and to experience many kinds of pleasures.

So, use your brain – there’s no reason for any person to be remotely concerned with what sexual antics other people get up to, down to and into – as long as all the participants are consenting adults.

And, use your brain when you engage in whatever sex you want and play safe.

Survival Instinct Has Died

I think that with over 6 billion people on the planet and no natural predator, that our individual survival instincts have become dulled, if not eliminated.

I used to think that it was pure self involvement that allowed people move about texting, listening to music or even watching movies while driving or cycling or walking around the city.

A kind of everyone is responsible for my safety but me mentality.

But then I thought, what does make people pay attention to potential dangers? How do they not realize that texting and driving are a dangerous mix?

It occurred to me that we as humans do not have any natural predators and we do not regularly encounter danger.

Yes, some humans are dangerous, but how often does a serial killer try to catch you in any given month? We have created a great stranger danger panic when it comes to children, but the reality remains that the majority of child abductions are done by the non-custodial parent, not a stranger.

Killers, rapists and pedophiles are not average people they are a throw back or aberration. They would always have been some small portion of the population and with 6 billion plus people on the planet, their numbers are increased, but not likely their percentage of the total population.

That’s when I had the lightening strike. There weren’t always this many people.

In pre-historic times, we lived in small groups – so cooperating was critical for survival. No stealing, no raping and no killing each other. Anti-social behaviour threatened the entire group and wouldn’t have been tolerated.

In pre-historic times, there were a lot of predators of humans – lynx, hyenas, wolverines, wolves, cave lions and, the animals that we preyed on Mammoths, Whoolly Rhinos, bison and any large heard animal posed a risk for death to the human hunter and required the co-operation of many hunters to be able to successfully hunt the large prey animals.

Humans, lacking claws or teeth that could be used in combat, developed technology to level the playing field. Now, there’s no animals that intentionally seek out humans to eat. Animal attacks occur and are still fatal, but usually it’s because the human has blundered into the animal territory or been mistaken for other prey.

Our species survival no longer turns on individual survival either. So we can collectively relax, since there’s so many others propagating the species that it doesn’t matter if a large number of us don’t survive to breed or chose not to.

The dangers that could wipe out our species in pre-historic times are very different than the mass extinction ones that we face today.

In pre-historic times, it was drought, disease, crop failure, inter-group conflicts and natural disasters that threatened us as a species.

75,000 years ago, the eruption of supervolcano reduced the global human population down to approximately 10,000 individuals. This vastly reduced the gene pool and made cooperation far more critical for long term survival.

Now, we still face the same dangers as our pre-historic counterparts, but drought, disease and warfare is not likely to end all human life on earth. Though, if any war or conflict does go nuclear – and there’s apparently enough nuke weapons to kill every person on earth 5 times – then, it’s probably better that humans cease to be part of the Earth biosphere.

The species ending dangers that we face are too big, not predictable and there’s nothing we can do with the current technologies. These would include asteroid strikes and global climate change.

Since there’s nothing we can do, there’s nothing to consider or do or dwell on, unless you’re into general anxiety attacks.

Since we do not face danger every day, or struggle to obtain enough food, water and creature comforts, we are greatly distanced from our pre-historic ancestors who, if they didn’t go out to hunt and store food, had to go without.

Today, urban dwellers are so removed from the food supply that we often don’t think of steak or bacon or chicken wings to be related to an animal at all. For me, I prefer the shape of the food to not be from an obvious part of the animal because I don’t want to think about it. Animals that are close to me are pets and food animals are some misty, distant, theoretically concept that has little to do with me.

I probably should be a vegetarian but BBQ meat tastes too good to pass up.

Without having to be dealing with danger, without having to struggle to survive, we just don’t need as much brain capacity as we used to.

It turns out that our brains are smaller than our prehistoric ancestors. By about a tennis ball.

It’s not just down to less danger, but that we have by domesticating animals and plants, also domesticated ourselves.

The wild ancestor of any domesticate animal has a larger brain, larger head and body, is often stronger and with more canny behaviours.

Domesticate animals tend to be smaller brains and bodies, shorter and rounder heads, more colour variations, floppier ears and often curly tails.

Dmitry Belyaev experiemented with foxes, breeding only the most docile and 40 years and 45,000 foxes later, the foxes not only show the physical differences, but have different behaviours than wild foxes and their brain chemistry is different. They respond to sounds sooner and develop fear much later. They are interactive with humans and as eager to please as any dog.

Humans, by living in larger and larger groups that required co-operation, basically bread out a lot of our aggression that we needed in prehistoric times living in smaller groups that competed with other groups for resources.

Trade of goods and culture between groups, groups merging, the creation of villages, towns and eventually cities makes aggression an undesirable trait for sexual selection.

As it turns out, we are only distinct from other animals, not because of opposing thumbs, since this is a primate trait – but rather the ability to self-domesticate and the capacity we have to live in our own waste.