The gene genie

‘There is only one race – the human race’

Genetically we are very similar – there is only a small variation among humans and the concept of different races is largely a social construct, not a biological one. We’re also not so different from our nearest relatives the apes  – Chimpanzees share over 98% of our DNA.

We are related to all life on Earth in all its staggering diversity. Even bananas, which share 50-60% of our DNA, are distant relatives. I suspect this is why some people bruise more easily than others, and some quickly turn brown, or peel after sunbathing. They are a bit more bananas than the rest of us. (I’ve certainly encountered a few 100% bananas individuals online..)

One might think that the appreciation of all the wondrous diversity of life among our global kin would be hardwired. That Homo Sapiens would celebrate and embrace all the many forms life takes. Yet the history of our species is a bloody tale of intolerance, hatred and exploitation of our fellow man, and of the other species with which we share the planet.

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The Procrastinators

sliced cucumber_medIt was almost a year to the day since Peter Pike – AKA Procrastination Man – had last donned his ill-fitting spandex outfit and battled the forces of evil. But Peter had not been idle, far from it. In that time he had thoroughly reorganised his cutlery drawer, joined a gym (although not actually visited it) and made detailed plans to re-decorate the lounge and repair the kitchen window. There had even been a few half-hearted attempts to start writing his autobiography.

He had also, much to his surprise, found a partner, Melanie Grant, with whom he had made some exciting and probably completely impractical plans. An attractive, if slightly geeky young science graduate, she had been inspired by the press coverage of his earlier adventures and had responded to his online quest for a partner:

WANTED: SMART, KICK-ARSE PARTNER FOR A UNIQUE CRIME-FIGHTING OPPORTUNITY! NO TIME-WASTERS PLEASE.

Their first meeting at The Black Crow pub hadn’t gone quite as well as they’d hoped. A nervous Peter had arrived late as usual, and then managed to spill his pint of beer all over their table. Melanie had ended up trapped in the women’s toilet cubicle, a faulty lock requiring intervention from the local fire brigade. But they had been able to laugh about it afterwards, and their disastrous evening had eventually ended on a unexpected high note.

As they had slowly gotten to know each other in the months that followed, the future suddenly seemed to be full of promise and adventure.

After a long planning phase, they were determined not to let any more grass grow under their feet. It was time for action, just as soon as they’d saved up enough cash to advertise their services in the papers, and whipped themselves into shape at the gym. And paid off the credit card bills. Yes, quite soon they would be ready to unleash the force of THE PROACTIVATORS upon an unsuspecting criminal world.

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Liar, liar pants on fire

pinocchio_medWe instinctively recoil from people in authority who are publicly exposed as liars, feeling cheated and seeing them as tarnished individuals. Yet whether we like to admit it or not, we all have an intimate relationship with lies, fibs and tall tales.

According to a 2002 study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of adults can’t have a ten minute conversation without lying at least once.

I personally never lie, as I was telling Bill Gates and his wife Melinda the other night at dinner, on George Clooney‘s new super-yacht.

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Who are you?

tardis2_med

Identity is a funny thing, something we often take for granted. How do you define the you that you see in the mirror? Who is that person looking back at you and is it the same person who was there yesterday? What do you mean you have no reflection? Do your friends know you’re a vampire?

When you think back you might realise just how much you’ve changed over the years, even if you’re still relatively young. The fact that you (hopefully) no longer howl when hungry, or throw a temper tantrum at the supermarket ‘cos they’ve sold the last of your favourite ice cream or potato chips shows that you are evolving. Of course not in a Darwinian sense: you are unlikely to develop gills just because you swim a lot, or wings because you are tired of taking the bus. It doesn’t quite work like that, unfortunately.
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Jekyll and Hyde

Mr Hyde_medI’m a health nut and a borderline alcoholic. I enjoy science documentaries and art-house cinema, but I also like watching UFC fighters knock seven shades of shit out of each other. I’m a fairly empathetic person, but sometimes wish I could see my upstairs neighbours eaten slowly by wolves.

I’d be surprised if there were many people alive who didn’t exhibit some degree of these types of contradictory character traits. Their existence has surely inspired many writers and thinkers over the centuries, including the author Robert Louis Stevenson himself.

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Evilution*

homersapienEvolution has brought about a spectacular abundance of plant and animal life that we are trying our very best to eradicate, perhaps so we can have the planet all to ourselves. Of course the interdependence of humans and the flora and fauna of Earth makes this behaviour slightly baffling. It sometimes appears we are like a cartoon character, sawing through the branch that it sits on. Or in our case chopping down the whole forest.

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If we could talk to the animals..

ant2_medI’ve been trying out this amazing new universal animal translation software and thought I’d give it a go. Here is the result.

It is morning in the home of Jason, Ann and their elderly cat, Minnie.

J: ‘Hi Minnie! How are you?’ *Strokes her back and face*

Minnie: ‘Never mind that shit, get me some grub!’

J: ‘Hang on a sec, gotta use the bathroom..’

Minnie: ‘Oi! Where the hell are you going? Get back here!’

*Tries to trip him up*

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The Halfbananas guide to.. health and nutrition

Vegas_medYou have probably noticed the Internet is awash with articles, blogs and websites promoting ‘natural health,’ or ads for the latest new ‘wonder food’ that will make you thinner, healthier or smarter than Einstein.

There is also a steady stream of stories in the media telling us how this latest study contradicts the many previous studies, and in fact a diet based around lard, cigarettes and heroin is perfectly fine, in moderation of course.
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Gimme space, man

astronaut_medWhen I was young I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, apart from taller.

I showed a keen interest in science and space exploration at an early age, but sadly my eventual application to astronaut school was rejected, on the grounds of my flat feet and shortsightedness. That, and the complete lack of a science degree, flying experience, courage, or any of the usual qualities they tend to look for in potential astronauts.

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The rise of the idiots – a dystopian tale. Part three

Read part one and part two of the story.

tatue_of_Liberty_med

The situation looked grim – the demonstration outside New York’s Hall of Science was turning into a riot as more and more of the city’s thugs and crazies arrived to join in the melee. Salma was down, injured, Spark almost out of juice and Ray Flint – Rational Ray – seemed to be missing in action.

Will the forces of idiocy prevail? It’s time to find out..

Spark crawled across the grass to Salma’s side. Blood trickled down from her temple, giving him grave cause for concern. Her attacker, a hulking brute with shaved head and swastika tattoos was still close by, but just out of his reach. Perhaps he could manage one last stun before his battery ran flat. Where in the name of fuck was Ray?

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