Friday 28 December 2018

Smells of Doom

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience the worst smell ever? Of course, there are many runner-ups in this category. Many years ago, there was a chappie in the department I worked with excruciating BO. I’m not talking about the faint miasma which surrounds manual workers after a hard day’s work. I’m talking about an intense stench apparent first thing in the morning. This individual who shall remain anonymous (stinky Eric) was completely oblivious to his predicament even after unsubtle and pointed comments from colleagues berated by this barrage of intense olfactory insult. Luckily, I worked on the floor above and therefore spared from this particular work hazard. However, on occasion, I had the mishap to tread the hallowed halls below. And indeed, the stench was particularly nauseating and not just confined to his office but seemed to permeate (nay insinuate) throughout the corridors of academic excellence. Inevitably the perpetrator was interviewed by the boss (Prof. Mugumbo) and told to go home for extensive hygienic intervention. Now you might think, due to the severity/intensity of the problem, that this individual was slighted by a bizarre metabolic condition. But in that regard, your thought processes would be awry. For miraculously and subsequently, the stench was no more and respectable folk could go about their business without having their teeth enamel seared clean orrrf. Needless to say, ‘Ol noisome’ lived alone. True story.

Laboratories are the scene for a herd of unpleasant chemical smells. Luckily, facilities are fitted with ‘fume cupboards’ which filter and scrub the air of unpleasantness. However, there are a handful of chemicals oblivious to filtering intervention. By their very nature, they can be detected by the human nose in extremely low doses and the odour released is gut-wrenchingly nauseating. The chemical in question goes under the name of mercaptoethanol. As a snot-nosed postgrad, it was my unenviable duty to extract RNA from cells, various. Part of the process dictated the use of this offensive chemical. Although I took meticulous care to contain/constrain the resultant mephitic niff, invariably molecules would permeate the whole lab. Scientists and students alike would scatter like a fart in a colander. How can I describe the smell? Tis a mixture of decaying flesh/rotten eggs/gypos/cat piss/stinky Eric with a tincture of rotten sprouts. Even after the chemical had been placed, neatly and securely in a chemical hazard bin, the smell would linger for hours. Technicians and scientists of today are saved this olfactory bombast due to a modification in the RNA extraction protocol. However, I became reacquainted with a similar smell a couple of years ago when I was developing a sperm DNA ‘unravelling’ protocol which used an analogue of mercaptoethanol. The name of the chemical escapes me, and frankly, I can’t be arsed to look it up. Again, just like mercaptoethanol, the smell was extremely unpleasant and persistent. Both these chemicals contain a thiol moiety which is perhaps responsible for the singular dank/rank, stench.

Enough reminiscing meanderings, for now, the Flaxen haired one is off to a local winery to sample the fruit of the vine in an escalation of bacchanalian excess. Wibble buttocks, akimbo

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Flaxen’s Anal Christmas Address 2018

Ho, bloody, ho

Another year has passed and disintegrated into a stinking heap of assorted detritus of no common denominator. Flaxen’s fortunes have waxed and waned in tune with his throbbing ingrowing toe nail. Wondrous times you might say tinged with a fearful patina of moribund and dread. Yet amongst the rumours of war, we can all take heart with the promise of a bright tomorrow full of hope and stagnation.

It is my fervent aspiration, that this year, I won’t be abducted by anal probing aliens of obscure providence/provenance. Tis a feature correlated with bouts of heavy drinking all too prevalent at this time of year. But correlation does not equal causation, and for this, we should be eminently thankful. Indeed, I am of stout countenance, full of incontinence and thrusting vigour. Aliens beware! Flaxen will be mindful and imbued with extreme cognisance. This will prove fruitful in combatting any itinerant, painful and largely unwarranted alien induced proctology.

Enough of dwelling on my painful and unsolicited alien abductions. I would like to concentrate my thoughts and dedication on promoting world peace at this inauspicious time of year. A time of great bounty and fortitude. A time that will reverberate down the hallowed corridors of extreme profusion. No doubt there will be naysayers there will always be folk of that ilk. But gentle readers, be not nonplussed or imbued with impending inconsequence. For there will rise, from the depths of extreme fortitude, a hope never stifled and unsullied by dedicated insouciance.  Nay, may vigilance be on the forethought of your nested and strangely everted moral landscape. May the watchword ‘Awake’ be emitted/submitted from your succulent, moist and delightfully pursed lips.

 On this propitious Christmas day, I would like to dispel heartfelt ruminations of felicitous apprehension and foreboding. Let the spirit of the season infuse/imbue, concentrate and ultimately relinquish any thoughts not in tune with harmonious abode/abide. May the furies which assail your very being, abate, at least for a small span, enabling a deep and abiding fortitude not normally witnessed by this benighted generation. For myself, I will take time to reflect and ruminate on felicitous fortune; sometime fickle, but always capricious. Surely, there is some comfort in that?

Enough for now, gentle souls. Remember to keep yourself clean, well-watered and as always, keep taking your prescribed dose of medication as indicated by a syndicated and mostly competent medical professional. And if the voices in your head are insistent and dedicated upon the burning of sundry abodes of scant acquaintance, be mindful, reflect on the resultant sequelae. Or at least remain unsullied by the acquaintance with undiscriminating law enforcing authorities. Take heed or render despair as your nemesis! ARSE.

                                  Merry Yuletide         


Thursday 20 December 2018

Have a merry Yule

The real meaning of Christmas?
Tis nearly Christmas and Christians throughout the world will celebrate Jesus’ birthday on the 25th December. For many in the Western nations, the date is a secular holiday without religious devotional overtones and this trend appears to be gathering apace with the passage of time. What many folk, religious or not, don’t realise is that the date of Jesus’ birth is unknown and is almost certainly not the 25th December. Some scholars attest that Jesus was a fictitious character invented by the early Christians. The argument is based on the lack of corroboratory written evidence outside the Bible for Jesus’ existence together with a remarkable concordance of the ‘Jesus story’ with pagan mythical figures such as Horus and Heracles. To be honest I don’t find this thesis particularly compelling and find it difficult to believe that the seed of Christianity took root divorced from a true historical figure. 
From internal biblical evidence, the consensus amongst scholars is that Jesus’ birth took place in the spring of 7BC to 2 BC. To be fair the real birthdate of Jesus is now unobtainable especially as early Christians seemed more concerned with ‘Jesus the Divine’ and appeared blissfully/blithefully uninterested in the contemplation of the man as flesh and blood. So that being the case why do we celebrate the 25th December as Jesus’ birthdate? For this answer, we need to contemplate the reinvigorated Christian Church of the 4th century AD. 
Christianity’s prospects became exceedingly favourable following adoption of the faith by the Roman Emperor, Constantine, in 312 AD. But the early Christians faced a problem. While the Empire’s inhabitants seemed happy to embrace Christianity, over time, they seemed reluctant to relinquish their pagan festivals. And so, as a matter of expediency, the Church supplanted the pagan ‘Birthday of the Sun Festival’ with a made-up date for Jesus’ birthday. Once the Church took hold in the northern Teutonic lands it faced a similar problem. For the heathen celebrated the 'Mid-Winter Festival of Yule’. Twas a time of feasting and a celebration of the coming spring. It was also a time when the Teutonic god, Woden, (Odin in Norse) came forth with his hunting host of Elves and other supernatural entities to ride the ‘Wild Hunt’.
The vestige of pagan belief can still be seen in the celebration of modern Christmas where a fusion of heathen symbols exists with Christian veneration. Both the giving of gifts and the Christmas tree are symbols of the pagan base for Christianity. Although indoor trees only became popular about 500 years ago.
Of course, this was not the only pagan festival overridden by the Christians. Consider good old Easter, the supposed festival of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As a digression, it is worthy to note, that coming back to life after biological death is an absolute impossibility as it violates the Law of Entropy- enough said, for now; more in a subsequent post. The early Christians, for pragmatic reasons, added the Christian festival to the pagan celebration of spring, a time of bounty and renewal. The name ‘Easter’ is a derivation from Eostre, a Teutonic fertility goddess. And this is why we associate Easter with eggs and the obvious fertility symbol, rabbits.
Christmas means many things to many people. For some, it is simply an excuse for excess. For others tis a rest from work’s labour. And let us not forget the folk who genuinely celebrate the birth of their Saviour. For me, it will be a rare time when our family comes together. I would like to say: ‘together in harmony’ but to be realistic, this is unlikely to be the case. 

The real meaning of Christmas?


Thursday 13 December 2018

Otherkin and Other Bollocks

Like real cats, cat-man did not work

Behold the magisterial folk who believe they are the incarnation of an animal or a mythical beast. Now not all these folks are delusional or completely deranged, for there appears to be a gradation of belief, a spectrum from normal to sad gamer to fully certified bona fide twat. 
There are those that use an animal persona for their online incarnation. Tis easy to slip into another’s clothes/fur online and portray yourself as something or someone else. Mostly this is achieved with a sense of humour and all who can read can see the mild and unconvincing deception. Many engage in this soft escapism and as long as no nefarious intent is forthcoming all is well. There are gamers who take the concept to the next level and totally wallow in an animal persona. Generally, this masquerade is to cover over deep insecurities and mental and physical infirmities. Online, no one can tell that you are a fat 40-year-old unemployed virgin living in your parent’s basement and it is enticingly easy to slip into wolf’s clothing. Note, the animals chosen are those associated with noble and physically vigorous attributes. There be lots of wolves, lions, tigers and dragons, but for some reason, no one wants to be a slug.
And so, to the next level. These folk contend that they have a spiritual affinity with a chosen animal. Regard the bores at parties who brow beat listeners with tales of the 'rape of mother earth' and how things would we be perfect if we stopped using plastic bags and became more ‘in tune’ with nature. All superficially profound but condensed silly hippy pronouncement all the same. Of similar ilk are those who take to expressing that there is something about them that is part animal, not on a physical level but on a psychic plane. Tis is all very ethereal and unsubstantiated and the ravings of a disordered uneducated mind; contemplate the fools who delude themselves but rarely beguile others. Here be a quote from a believer: “In pagan religions of the past, it wasn't uncommon to believe that humans would be reborn as animals, so the idea that I was, in a past life, a lion, is not as far-fetched as some would think." I’ll not bother to unpack this blathering nonsense. Just to say that several logical fallacies have been committed and therefore I’ll not trouble my formidable intellect to dissect this statement further.
 Some may entice with body modification, an attempt to force the body to take on the form of their chosen totem. They ingratiate themselves with a sanitised form of animism or elder primitive culture. An affinity with so-called native American beliefs is exceedingly common. In rare cases, extensive modification surgery is undertaken. The ‘cat man’ is a tragic and extreme example of this form of hallucination. If we take a step back, we can identify a less severe exposition. Teenage girls of a certain type are prone to affecting superficial appendages of their chosen beast. Thus, tails are sown on, headgear is worn and the odd howl may occasionally be vocalised. They hang about with other disenfranchised and socially marginalised souls and frequent local malls attracting derision and merriment from their peers. This is just a phase and most will outgrow foolish things to partially integrate/ingratiate into mainstream society.  
It is time to enter the land of ‘pseudologica fantastica’. A small subset of the ‘otherkin’ community avers that they are able to physically transform into the animal of their choice. They state that their DNA is entwined/twinned with animal DNA. As an ex-professional Geneticist, in a previous incarnation, this particular pseudo-bollox makes me want to weep, or howl perhaps.  This is known a P shifting. If we are to consider ourselves as rational beings, this form of fallacious rendering is the babbling of a charlatan or more seriously the ravings of an individual with a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia.
It may come as no surprise that adherents to this sub-culture are prone to partake in other irrational beliefs such as the supernatural, ghosts and extreme conspiracy theories. It would seem, from reading otherkin message boards, that a significant percentage of otherkin are also transgender. Delusions,  like wolves, come in packs.
I’m an advocate for freedom of expression and speech. However, that said, this should not be confused with a willingness to take on board any expressed beliefs before examining their rational basis and in this respect and case, they have been found wanting. Watch out for the legitimisation of this sub-culture by the liberal intelligentsia. Just like so-called gender fluidity, the strident few will invent a new category of hate crime – ‘specism’. I hope you have noticed - this is not a real word. Arse. 

O Lordy, Lordy

Thursday 6 December 2018

Blast From the Past

Dragons live here

Politics has always been a calculated mix of bluster, bluff and rhetoric; at least in the democratic world. On occasion there is an admixture of comic absurdity. The astute politician knows well to cultivate the former three qualities and steer clear of the last. Few politicians can maintain this delicate balance throughout their career unless they are particularly blessed, extremely wealthy, or well connected. Being of a cynical bent of mind I suspect that being particularly blessed, extremely wealthy and well connected are not unconnected.  The politician possessed of all of these attributes can truly walk on water. Present British politicians tend to flounder in the shallowest of puddles. But this post is not about British politics.   

A student of British politics would see much that is familiar in New Zealand politics. Very much the same political parties saying much the same thing; except in a silly accent. No offense to the West Midland parliamentarians.  There is one particular aspect of New Zealand politics which is totally alien to British observers and that is the subject of ‘Maori Politics’. Think of a time, somewhere in the distant dark past when our ancestors were unread, barbaric and extremely stupid; a time before the renaissance and scientific revolution. Welcome to the wonderful world of Maori politics!

Let me introduce the taniwha. It will serve my purpose and make my point well. The taniwha, in Maori mythology, is a supernatural creature of watery dens or caves. The shape of this creature can change and sometimes it is depicted as a large shark. There is nothing wrong with folk story and myth. Most cultures can relate to the rich stories of their ancient folk. We tell them to our children on our knee. The stories thrill us when young and fill our naïve hearts with wonder. Then we grow up. If wise we pass them on to our grandchildren.

Now here is the silly bit. If I told you that in our day objections have been raised to a motorway link because it disturbed the lair of a resident monster, you may be spurred to comment. Perhaps you may laugh and think that the 1st of April had come early. If I say that this matter has been an item raised on the ‘Auckland City Council’ you may start to titter. However, this is a serious practical matter that affects people’s lives. If it doesn’t bother you then it should at least rouse the good burghers of Auckland. Perhaps they have heard it all before. Of course, the main stream press of New Zealand does not spell out this absurdity. It is a brave journalist indeed who voices a sensible opinion on the matter.  There is a pandering to Maoris and Maori sensibilities in the press, and in official government releases, that is positively sickening. This reverence to blatant nonsense has no place in any modern free society and surely reflects ill on Maoris in general. A European voicing similar sentiments in open parliamentary debate would be subject to derision and quite rightly so. Replace the speaker with a Maori member of parliament and you wouldn’t hear a pin drop. Double standards I hear you cry. Well, tears roll down my face. Whether from risible mirth or from palpable frustration I will leave you to judge. On another occasion a highway up grade in the Waikato region was halted after objections from the local Iwi (tribal council). They argued that the up grade would cut through the den of the local taniwha. This one eyed monster lives in a swamp for half of the year then takes up residence in the Waikato River for the remaining six months. Surely swamp living can’t be healthy, especially if you only have one eye. The solution of course was simple. A high bank was erected next to his lair and drainage channels inserted. The extra cost to the tax payer was a modest $20,000. In this instance no direct ‘compensation’ was paid to the local Iwi. There have been other occasions where the taniwha was mysteriously placated when large sums of tax payers money was directed to the Maori. I respectfully request that, in future, all taniwha compensation should be in cheque form. The cheques would then be placed in a water tight bag and deposited in the deepest part of the lake. Taniwhas could then wait in line, like the rest of us, and cash their cheque at the local bank. But I can see that you have already seen a problem with my cunning plan; taniwhas don’t have opposable thumbs. Consequently picking the cheque up from the lake bed would be impossible; silly me. I just thought of another solution. Perhaps the New Zealand citizenry should rise up and hunt down these irascible monsters and shoot them. After all, large invisible water creatures shouldn’t be that hard to find. The Maoris have no problem locating them, when it suits.

What are we to make of this matter when New Zealand’s leader of the opposition is on record as saying that he believes in the existence of taniwhas. It is my fervent hope that he never becomes Prime Minister. The day that this happens is the day I fuck off to Australia. David Shearer is a well educated and supposedly intelligent man and should know better. The electorate of New Zealand deserve better and will assuredly treat him with the contempt he ultimately deserves. There is a special place in hell reserved for ingratiating twats like David Shearer; the man leaves behind a slime trail. It is stuff like this that leaves the decent majority of New Zealanders in quiet despair.      

Let me be blunt. Supernatural entities have no place in politics or in any other serious practical pursuit. Believers in gods, angels and devils should take note.  Maori politicians using taniwhas to leverage political gain, and most importantly money, are cynically playing on the guilt felt by the left wing, hand wringing socialists and other peddlers of associated PC shite. But what has all this have to say about Maori society? There is no doubt that in European society, at all levels, it simply reinforces commonly held prejudices: Maoris are primitive, childlike and stupid. They are not to be judged by our superior European mores and standards. If Maoris are not offended by my comments then they should. If they would like to be treated with respect then they need to grow up. Maoris may well have serious concerns and political issues that need to be addressed. Welcome to the real world. In this world they would be well advised to enter the arena of rational debate with well thought out arguments and be prepared to leave their taniwhas at the bottom of New Zealand’s murky lakes, where they belong.     

Tuesday 4 December 2018

The Argument From Design

This post has been inspired by a chance encounter with a young ‘Jehovah Witness’ a scant four months ago. We had just moved to our present property, but not a week, when we received a visit from the delightful JWs. As I grew up in a JW household I am familiar with JW doctrine and teaching. Needless to say, I rebelled against the ‘truth’ from an early age and consequently suffered much physical and psychological trauma that could only be mustered and inflicted by an evil cult. This is not the topic of discussion, today, or for that matter, any day for reasons I’m sure you can discern.
I am well aware of the JW opening gambit to the exclamation: “I am an atheist”. The term atheist triggers an automatic response and the recipient immediately launches into a well-rehearsed argument for the existence of ‘God’ based on the argument from design. This argument comes in several flavours and is highly popular with Christian apologists and theologians. In its most sophisticated form, the argument can become quite technical, but we need not enter this particular tepid/fetid pool of sophistry. For our purposes, I’ll consider the simple manifestation of this approach as proposed by the JW brethren. Indeed, this argument was expounded by the 19th century (1802) English cleric, William Paley. However, Paley was not the originator of the argument and it is derived from Cicero in the 1st century BC. Paley’s version, perhaps a pale version, is detailed below and in his own words:        
…….” suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. ... There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. ... Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.”

— William Paley, Natural Theology (1802)
The implication, of course, is that ‘the artificer’ is God and not just any god, but the God of Christianity. Paley is clearly aware that even if his argument was proved sound it does not rule out the possibility of a host of deities and is not exclusively in accord with the monotheistic Abrahamic God. 
The ‘proof’ is reliant upon analogy and assumes that if two items are alike in one respect then it follows that they are alike in another respect. In this case: watch is complex, watch has a designer; life/universe is complex, life/universe has a designer i.e. God.  However, there is no logical basis for such a fusion of concepts. Also, the argument fails due to its inherent assumption: order and complexity can only arise by intelligent design. But this is clearly not the case. For instance, consider evolution by natural selection. Evolution results in complexity by mutation and genetic variation shaped by environmental factors. In the case of evolution, there is no conscious designer but complexity exists nonetheless.
There is also the problem of the ‘self-refuting fallacy’. In this respect, the conclusion denies the premises. Surely, God should be envisaged as complex and therefore following on from Paley’s thesis, God must have a designer……….. This could be extended to an infinite sequence, each God being created by another God, ad infinitum. Most Christians would not be particularly happy with this conclusion for reasons obvious even unto a dullard (Ard).     
The above refutations are based on an appeal to logic and reason, however, we don’t have to rely on irrefutable logic in order to give the design notion a thorough and concise kicking.
My final illustration is an argument from ‘perfect form’. If we envisage God as perfect then it follows that all that he creates must be perfect. For how can a perfect deity produce faulty goods? It is clearly the case that, from an engineering perspective, perfection does not abide in God’s creations. The way out of this perverse conundrum, for the theist at least, is to argue that ‘god’ is not perfect and therefore his craftsmanship is often shonky. There are many examples that I could posit here. Consider inherent design defects in the human body such as the presence of vestigial organs and the ill-considered placement of organs. How about birth defects and perverse and life-destroying genetic maladies? I’ve discussed this aspect of ‘design’ in a previous post: check it out here
So, there you have it. Are you convinced by my refutation? If not, I suggest you visit your local JWs (how's that for a novelty?), for they have some good news which they would like to share with you. Good luck.