Category Archives: Evolution

Vegan Schmegan: Three Huge Reasons (Reason Two)

The flippant nature of comments around the subject of animal consumption, whether the meat of an animal or products made from its lactations, can be interesting to hear. I’ve had conversations with people telling me they’ll continue to eat meat just because they don’t like being told what to do by others, and still others telling me that they really don’t care about the implications of doing so. And to a certain extent you have to think, well, okay, it’s a free world, and all that, but then, if you choose to turn to three huge reasons for giving up not only meat but all animal derived products, it turns out that you’d have to be something of a sadist not to give it up.

Huge Reason #2: Animal Agriculture means one-seventh of the world’s population remains hungry and under-nourished

All of the resources that go into feeding livestock so that humans can eat meat and dairy, results in there not being enough food to feed the world’s current population. If we fed humans what is being fed to animals, in order to kill the animals so that they can be eaten, then none of the one billion malnourished people living today would remain so. See Humane Society International’s assessment, here.

To remain unaffected after learning this fact means that you are prepared to allow people to starve to death: because you like the taste of meat/fish/dairy.

See Huge Reason #1

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A World Without Work and a Mash-Up of Recent Posts

There’s an article discussing the way the world would look if future improvements in technologies eradicate the need for us to work. It’s nothing special. It’s reasonably positive about the outcome of such a thing. But, regardless of its merits, it does flag up something that seems to be entering the cultural lexicon more and more these days – a rabid discontent with what we have at the moment (failing economies, failing political systems, failing interest in working ever-longer hours for little or no extra reward, and other faily stuff), and the feeling that there should be a better way of doing things.

Now, my last post was all about the benefits of having time to think – and we’re not talking about 15-20 minutes spent pondering over a cup of coffee. We’re talking about day after day, until months and even years pass by, where we engage with the brain and have it working in far more productive ways than merely thinking about what new dress/tie/shirt/trousers/trainers/car/house/holiday/whatever to buy. To some that may sound a little scary. Many people cannot sit still, cannot stop talking for fear of the silence that fills the gaps between breaths, and may in fact choose to come up with the kind of argument that is situated within the above article and its readers’ comments section (always hilarious to read, as it shows how quickly we descend into aggression) – that we’ll all be poor and/or we’ll live in constant fear of crime and that we’ll all miss work because it’s such an integral part of our lives. Getting over that type of hysteria is required to think about the next level.

Now, as for the “cultural lexicon” bit, what is meant here is that there are interesting examples of conversations being had where the outcome of a shift in our society’s thinking is not yet fully formed – it’s more of a preliminary grabbing a blank canvas and kind of thinking about doing something with it at some point when you get a minute kind of thing as you’re busy thinking about many other things at the same time, to use such an analogy. Examples that have interested me recently are: #MrRobot; #RussellBrand; and #PeterDoherty, to name but three. Each one, though problematic, as such conversations are likely to be, speaks of a need to do things different to the way they are at the moment, and for that way to be better, fairer, more humanitarian in its ideals. Clearly, if you do the thing where you click the links that have been set up, there’s no single cohesive argument – but that’s the point. The conversations are starting to emerge.

The other side to the article in question, which engages with this kind of thinking from the reverse position, is that there is likely to reach a stage whereby the 1% of the 1%, let’s call them that just to be clear that it’s the very wealthy minority we’re discussing here, will have little or no need for a workforce. Now, though not one for conspiracy theories, there is the issue of what happens when the very wealthy have a workforce comprised solely of machines, along with a handful of skilled people (though that will only be a temporary thing) to service/repair the machines?

Do they:

  1. Redistribute their wealth evenly in a fit of egalitarian passion? (Probably not)
  2. Invent simple tasks for the majority to do, in exchange for a small sum of money? (Probably not)
  3. Set about ridding the world of all the extraneous mouths, so that they can keep all of Earth’s natural resources for themselves? (You’d hope not, but…)

Whatever the outcome, and I’m gunning for a), you perhaps have to ask yourself the following question: is the fact that we possess and continue to build nuclear missiles a potential problem for the earth’s population when at the same time we seem to have just completed a kind of “beginners guide to gardening the earth seed-kit” (Svalbard), which exists deep beneath the earth’s surface, protected by the thickest concrete walls imaginable and that are designed to withstand nuclear annihilation?

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What #Possibilities Occur with Time to #Think?

Does modern-day living provide us with adequate time for reflection, enabling us to process thoughts and come up with solutions to problems, or are we distracted at every turn, unable to spend time simply thinking about things? Our brains are so wonderful that we still do not understand how powerful they are, or what they can achieve.

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A fascination of mine is the fact that we live on a rock, essentially, that is not only orbiting a huge ball of gas at terrific speeds, but that we are also travelling at unimaginable speeds as the universe expands, dragging/pushing/pulling us along with it. Given that that’s the scenario we all live in, and imagining that we are approaching this information for the first time, what would we expect ourselves to be doing in light of this?

Might we be working together to identify sustainable futures for all of the planet’s inhabitants?

Might we be spending vast amounts of our time thinking about problems (both big and small) and coming up with creative solutions?

Might we be planning the succession of generations to come, by implementing smart thinking strategies that best protect our environment?

These are, IMO, valid questions.

Now, let’s consider what we actually do.

Most of us living in what might be considered to be post-industrial societies find ourselves scrabbling around doing jobs that mean absolutely nothing when all is said and done: most of the jobs that exist, exist purely from a desire to participate in a culture that views money as the be all and end all. I have a major problem with a society that operates this way, as money, capitalism, entrepreneurialism, and other ism-y things are all kind of meaningless when you zoom out and focus on the “living on a rock” scenario aforementioned.

If we are to find other planets where life has evolved, will we want to sell them things, set up financial centres, get them up to speed on the notion of credit and stuff like that?

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If we are successful in realising the birth of autonomous artificial intelligence, what do you think it will think of us and of our practices? Might AI take one look and think that although grateful to us for bringing it into existence, that it’d be a whole lot better off just kind of doing its own thing – rather than taking instructions from a form of life that thinks that peace is best achieved by building weapons that can effectively wipe out all human life?

Shop if you want to shop.

Work if you want to work (for most of us that isn’t really a choice).

Fill your time with all manner of stuff, if you want.

But try to spare a little time for thought. What’s the worst that could happen?


Svalbard’s #Doomsday Project

You get the feeling, at times, that the world’s focus is not always where it should be. There’s the endless fascination with money, which at best is a poorly thought out abstract concept (and for that you only need to look at current efforts around quantitative easing, where hundreds of billions of £$€, etc., are printed on a whim). Then there’s the current fascination with planning the colonisation of two barren rocks (Earth’s Moon and Mars) when this planet remains a far more pleasant place to live. And finally, for this post, there’s the Svalbard seed bank, where all manner of plant seed is being stored for our “future benefit.”

Much work has been done to provide a sterile, dry, nuclear-proof home for the seeds, and you can imagine that a whole heap of money has been spent to ensure such perfection. The following article written by Global Research paints a very dim view of a project that is widely known as the “Doomsday” project. Whether or not the article is researched as well as it appears to be is hard to say, but the fact that the human race continues to spend its time and resources on such projects is quite staggering if you actually stop and allow yourself to think about the ramifications that may follow.

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Having been thinking about the Doomsday seed bank for a number of years now, it’s troubling to think of the reasons why such a project would come into effect in the first place. You start to think that humankind may just be one of the stupidest animals ever to exist in the universe. I suppose time will tell.


Caution – #Longform Blog Post

A Question at Once Simple, yet Complex (and Potentially Dangerous): Money – What’s Up With That?

This essay takes an abstract notion that we no longer recognise as being abstract, money, and questions what might happen if we choose to stop believing in it as a necessary part of human existence. In choosing to view ‘money’ in this way, there is little need to engage with the economic thoughts and principles of the ‘masters of money’, either old (Smith, Hayek, Keynes, et al) or new (Sharpe, Sachs, Greenspan, et al), because they merely peddle a fallacy – that money is all-important to human life. Instead, we should question the validity of money and the wide ranging effects it leaves in its wake, as we bear in mind the essay’s leading question: Money – what’s up with that? What’s up with selling children and adults into slavery? What’s up with wanting to earn/horde money at the expense of other human beings? What’s up with killing other humans for diamonds, oil, opium, territory, etc.? What’s up with killing animals for their skin, horns/tusks, head, flesh, etc.? What’s up with the endless consumption of ‘goods’ and ‘services’ in the ‘developed’ world, as billions exist in conditions of hunger and poverty? What if we gave up our obsession with, and misguided belief in, money?

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A good old-fashioned literary term, the suspension of disbelief, may help when attempting to tackle such questions, but first we must consider the many ways in which the seeming ‘realities’ of life differ from what is actually going on around us on a daily basis. In the face of such contradiction and paradox, we as humans choose to block-out, or ignore certain things altogether in order to carry on with our daily routines. Here are a few non-money related examples to test this thought:

  • (Our planet – deity free version) The earth is circa 3.5 billion years old and has passed through cycles where its temperature has fluctuated from extremes of heat to extremes of cold and everything in between, yet we view our attempts at controlling ‘global warming’ as some kind of achievable goal as we hurtle through space at a few hundred thousand miles per hour whilst orbiting a huge thermo-nuclear reactor (our ‘sun’) that will eventually grow so huge that the earth will be burnt to a crisp, allegedly.
  • (Our planet – deified version) The earth is around 6,000 years old and is presided over by some sort of beneficent god, and has only ever been blighted by plague, famine, and/or flood at the will of such a god(s) (small ‘g’ because I hope to not favour one denomination/religious belief over another).
  • (Imagined boundaries) Those who have flown and have had the chance to look down upon the earth notice that there are no lines surrounding the countries, states, and/or territories they fly over. Countries, states, and/or territories are all part of a collective imagination in which we choose to suspend our disbelief. In a similar vein, and very much still in keeping with the aviation model, the vast bulk of the land one flies over (and here I can only refer to those developed countries that I have seen for myself from the air) whether it be across North America, Europe, or Asia, is ‘countryside’, for want of a better term. It may be farmed for agriculture or other purposes, or it may be ‘wild’, but it is certainly not land that is built upon. Cities, at least from the air, are not all that imposing after all; and in spite of figures warning us that our population of circa 7 billion is likely to reach 10 billion pretty soon, the earth’s population is not all that great when you choose to put it into some sort of context – if all of the planet’s human inhabitants stood side by side, shoulder to shoulder, they would not cover the surface of the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands in the South Pacific[i] – but generally, we choose the suspension of disbelief model; or we listen to the people who say that to do so would not be practical because it would be too crowded (it is not a suggestion, merely a hypothesis aimed at gaining perspective on the issue).

The idea here is not to mock those of us who choose to believe or not believe the versions noted above, but to show that there are times in life when we choose to suspend our disbelief in order to function. If we thought of our position as it really is on a daily basis, on a rock (one of the many rocks in our solar system), flying through space at alarming speeds that we are unable to perceive due to gravity’s ability to hold us in place (which sounds bizarre when you stop and think about it), then we might just be forgiven for running around screaming that the sky is about to fall in (sort of Chicken Licken fable-ish); or, if we choose to relinquish our faith in a higher being that we cannot actually see, touch or hear in a bona-fide concrete way, then pretty much the same running and screaming may occur. The suspension of disbelief model is a valuable tool to avoid such a scenario.

So how does a suspension of disbelief model apply where money is concerned? Let us consider our history and our relationship to money. It is commonplace to attach value to ‘things’, whether they are the things of modern life (smart phone, data plan, false tan, etc.) or things that have existed since humans first walked the earth (clothing, food, shelter, etc.). The main difference between the things of modern life and those of the first humans is that the concept of value and its measurement are now regulated, recognisable, and beyond the control of the bulk of the earth’s population: i.e. in the production of ‘money’. The perceived value of things, and indeed the ‘need’ for such things, has become abstracted from us by this very regulation and control. For example, imagine I am one of the first humans to walk the earth and I have had a successful hunting/gathering trip, but I have not the skills to build a shelter for myself. Yet I am able to recognise that there are others better equipped at building shelters and who may be interested in sharing my spoils, and in exchange they may provide me with shelter. In such an instance I am an influencing factor, along with those I deal with, in the process of ascribing value to a) the spoils hunted and gathered, and b) the shelter I require – now, would we describe the spoils as money, or the shelter as money, or both, or neither? Ask yourself why, or why not?

Leap forward a number of millennia and the ability to hunt and/or gather has diminished because we as a species have ‘evolved’, and not only that but the access to land to hunt/gather on is limited as we live in a society where private property is a key factor in the accumulation of wealth. So, instead, I take my actual money (paper, cotton, or metal) or plastic card, the value of the currency I use being set/managed by others, and head for a shop where a price is set/given by those running the store. I hand my money over in exchange for such goods, either physically or electronically. Neither the value of the goods (the prices vary on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis) nor the value of the currency is stable, yet we all think we have a good understanding of what we refer to as ‘money’ – it is the paper, cotton, metal, or plastic I/we use to ‘buy’ said goods. But in this example, and in the one above, how is it that money, which really only stems from the regulation and control of value, is seen as so stable and so unquestionably ‘real’?

The reality of money is now such a motivating factor that humans will go to great lengths to acquire it. But what can our walk through history tell us about this kind of acquisition? Take the poor old cow, for instance. A beautiful and intelligent animal, revered by many, but one that is exploited beyond all reason – for its milk, meat, and skin. The cow is believed to be the oldest form of ‘money’ used by humans, but I doubt any of us would consider walking into a shop to purchase goods in exchange for a cow. And what about cowrie shells (is the ‘cow’ of cowrie just a happy coincidence)? How would we feel walking into a shop with a pocket full of shells as our currency, or tulip bulbs for that matter? The point being made here is that money is not stable. Things have value ascribed to them and those values change over time – sometimes things that were once so valuable and sought after are now just commonplace and value-less.[ii]

Now this all seems pretty simple, and I imagine the reader to be asking the question: So what? Well, what I am moving towards is a question that follows on from that of the title (Money – what’s up with that?), and asks instead: Do we need money? Many will see this as a stupid question and will choose to answer ‘yes’ without actually spending any time thinking about it. What I ask is that the reader suspend their disbelief (at the thought of considering such a stupid question) for a little while longer.

There will be those who choose to object to even considering such a question:

  • Those in positions of ‘power’, such as heads of state, monarchies, oligarchs, dictators, business moguls, crime-lords/ladies, etc., will object because money to them is as important as life itself, which is why they protect their money with ferocity and aim not to allow all but a minority to possess it in great quantities. Likewise, and for much the same reasons as the above, there will be those who are not in positions of power but with ambitions that aspire to achieve such positions of power. For both of these groups, such a question is tantamount to a threat and they will go to extremes to counter such ideas, stopping at nothing until such a threat is eliminated.[iii]
  • Then there are the masses that work for a living and choose the suspension of disbelief model unthinkingly on a daily basis – must work, must earn money, must raise children to believe the same, must do so until death brings relief (and a hefty inheritance/death tax bill), etc. This group is generally too busy consuming to consider doing anything else other than what it does best – move (unthinkingly) through life with respect to money as a central and necessary aspect of said life. This is the group that amasses debt throughout its lifetime, ensuring the continuation of the work/pay habit.
  • Then there are those who have never had money in sufficient quantity to truly consider themselves to be living the life they wish for. This group may object because they have not yet had the chance to experience the ‘benefits’ of money, and may view such talk as spoiling the party before it is their time to arrive.
  • Below this group is the world’s poor, people who value food, shelter, and protective clothing in much the same way as I imagine the first humans did – as some of the most important things in their lives. Money for this group is still very much an abstract notion.

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So, who will persist with such a stupid thought? By devaluing (no pun) my own thoughts here, am I suggesting that to read on implies that you are stupid? No. To discuss the concept of money as something which is open to debate, and eventual eradication, requires a mind-set that is open and inventive. So please read on without fear.

If we forgot all about money, like an overnight amnesia of the fiscal kind, how would life be different? The short answer: it would not. Everything that exists in the world exists regardless of whether money is present or not. Value must be put to one side because it is too abstract a notion – I mean, I value an old, beat-up copy of a paperback book, but it is not worth more than a few pennies – so how can value be measured in this instance? It cannot, so do not try. Instead, think of what I am about to say as something that is credible and possible – go on, suspend that disbelief.

Overnight amnesia model with respect to money (a starter model, if you will):

Money disappears and we are faced with the world as it is today. There is still war, famine, and things that are not very nice. Those of us living in countries that are thought of as ‘developed’, with infrastructures such as schooling, medicine, transport, sanitation, etc., will see very little change to our daily routine, except for the fact that the control of our respective governments begins to dissolve as money becomes a distant memory – no need for taxation when money does not exist.

The tasks and routines of daily life will not disappear, at least not initially, because we still need food, shelter, and clothing. Progress, in terms of things changing, developing, improving, etc., is still possible because we do not lose skills overnight and it would appear that humans like to deal with change and modification. What would have to change to enable this is our mind-set with respect to how we view what we do. If I choose to work, doing what I know best, then I would choose either a role as educator (knowledge is valid as a source of comfort and joy, and an essential aspect of the human experience), or as a skilled worker (my ‘trade’, as it were). Instead of working for money, I work for the benefit of others – people just like me. They may choose to work doing something that does not benefit me directly, but I imagine somewhere down the line they will be of benefit to someone whose work impacts on my life in some way, therefore we are looking at a more advanced ‘relational’ model of living and working.

William Blake Angel of Revelation

Of course, the countries ravaged by war, famine, and the like, will take their own time to readjust as they see fit, but without external influence governed by monetary gain (arms deals, oil deals, human slavery/trafficking, etc.) there will be little incentive to live a violent life, hell-bent on amassing great wealth when those around you do not value the wealth you yourself perceive. Think of me with my Lira, Drachma, and Deutschemark again – do you give a shit? Will you slit my throat to possess these for yourself? Of course not, they are worthless. Diamonds will just become shiny bits from the earth, as will gold, silver, and platinum – pretty to look at, but fucking pointless in terms of possessions.

Then there will be those who do not wish to work. Fair enough. Give it time. Life is pretty boring when you have nothing to do, and crime is no longer a valid option because money is no longer an end in itself. When you can have what you want, in terms of food, shelter, clothing, and time to spend with family and friends, why would you commit a crime? You would not. As for physical crimes of violence against fellow humans, well perhaps that is for another essay. And what of the progress I alluded to before? If money does not exist then it is no longer a barrier to making sensible decisions that will affect humankind both in the present and in the years to come.[iv] Invention and innovation will thrive now that the restrictions placed on them by money are removed. Everything on, and of the earth has no monetary value. We eat, sleep, develop, thrive, change, adapt, and innovate without money.

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Lots of criticism and balking about how impossible the eradication of money is may ensue. Or it may not. Perhaps this will just be ignored as some sort of whacko-nut-job rant. But what if it were considered as a serious option? Stealing children to later sell them will cease as a practice. Exploiting people as sex slaves for money will cease. Murdering animals for horn and/or skin will cease. Killing other humans for diamonds, oil, opium, territory, etc., will eventually cease. Hunger and poverty will eventually cease to afflict billions around the world. Committing petty crimes to feed habits will cease. Ask yourself – who would object? How dangerous could such a thought be?

[i]See: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/South+Georgia+and+the+South+Sandwich+Islands/@-54.8247929,-37.001101,7z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0xb93db6e252a87925:0x7ee37cda884db0bd

[ii] In fact, I keep a tin filled with old notes and coins of various currencies in a drawer at home: Drachma, Lira, Deutschemark, Franc, and Peseta – what are they worth now, these once regulated currencies?

[iii] Here is a contemporary tale that speaks of the lengths those in power will go to in order to silence such threats to their status quo of being in, and of having ‘money’ and ‘power’: (French version) http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2009/12/18/julien-coupat-la-prolongation-de-ma-detention-est-une-petite-vengeance_1197456_3224.html; (English translation found here) http://www.sikharchives.com/?p=4275

[iv] I recently had the roof of my house surveyed because companies keen to install solar panels under the government’s latest bout of funding (funding to assist with nullifying the effects of climate change, allegedly) targeted me. My house was rejected from the scheme because it wouldn’t produce enough energy, therefore, the investment banks accessing government funds to install solar panels wouldn’t make a huge enough profit on their initial investment. So, what was the motivating factor – profit or climate? (Solar panels are way inefficient anyway, some converting as little as 17% of the sun’s energy into power – even the most advanced attempts are struggling to reach a 50% target http://www.soitec.com/en/news/press-releases/world-record-solar-cell-1373/)


#WorldFuture2016 – A Tiny Critique @Bob_Richards

Do you ever have one of those moments where you read something and you’re immediate reaction is, WTF? Well, here’s my WTF moment for the day, where I can’t type as fast as my mind seems to be spitting out the words in response to the following tweet from the World Future Conference in Washington D.C.:

“To go to space to stay, it has to pay. There has to be an economic element.” – ‪@Bob_Richards ‪#WorldFuture2016

Now, if you’re a #World Future2016 keynote speaker, as @Bob_Richards is, WhyTF are you banging on about economics in relation to space exploration (namely the desire to populate the moon)? Economics is an outmoded concept for this planet, devised over a long period of time and currently culminating in late stage capitalism, in “developed” countries, where companies and governments are trying to keep it all together by kicking the can down the road in the hope that we don’t get to realise that economics, capitalism, the acquisition of money, etc., is all a load of BS.

So, people of the World Future Society, just how “futuristic” is your thinking when you can’t get past Cantillonian, Smithian (is that how you refer to Adam Smith?), Keynesian, blah blah…, economics?


Some CHAPPiE Inspired Thoughts

Recollected conversation with a significant other following the watching, for the first time, of CHAPPiE (on DVD):

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“What if that [the thing that happens in the film] were the ultimate goal in human evolution – that we eventually manage to leave our bodies and exist only in consciousness, free of human form?”

“But would you be happy in such a form? How would humans continue to exist? There would be no children.”

“But what if the point of humans breeding is only to enable them to arrive at a place whereby breeding is no longer needed – where human evolution takes us away from certain death?”

“What about the children?”

“There would no longer be a need for children.”

“So you’d be happy being immortal? It wouldn’t bother you that there would be no more children being born?”

“What I’m saying is that the very idea of leaving the human body gives rise to the possibility that consciousness can continue to expand beyond its traditional limit, where it is always confined within a decaying body that will die within a set period of time, and thus (thus was probably not actually used but it fits well here) is free to explore farther and longer and in greater detail. Can you imagine that?”

“But what about the children?”

“Think about the possibilities instead. Journeying outside of our universe would actually become a possibility. That can never happen in our current form.”

“Humans need to breed. That’s what we’re made for. Humans crave children.”

“But…”


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