The other week I was confronted in a supermarket by another customer who appeared out of nowhere, boiling with anger and screaming at me to apologise to them. It turned out my trolley had accidentally touched theirs, some time earlier. It happens a lot in supermarkets, but to this customer it was a mortal insult, … More A disturbing lesson about human aggression
There was a time when the apocalypse seemed close. The climate was changing. It was a time of unprecedented storms, when crops failed and the people went hungry. Governments fell before an unprecedented wave of popular change. A mercenary army roamed the lands in the name of religious zeal, destroying all before it and seizing … More When the apocalypse loomed
I have been fascinated of late with the way our understanding of human evolution has forged ahead in leaps and bounds. This year alone we’ve discovered that Homo naledi, the previously unknown ‘archaic’ species that was discovered in a South African cave, was still going just 250,000 years ago and – very likely – had … More Re-thinking human evolution… again
One of the ways that George Orwell exposed the reality of authoritarian dictatorship in his novel 1984 was through the way his Big Brother authorities twisted the truth. They didn’t just lie in blatantly transparent ways – they demanded that their ‘alternative facts’ be taken as gospel, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary. If … More Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the alternative truth
Humanity’s earliest ancestor was dug up a while ago. Well, when I say ‘our’ ancestor, it’s also the ancestor of fish, amphibians, reptiles and starfish among other things. It’s 540 million years old, it’s called Saccorhytus coronarius, and it’s a primitive deuterosome, a type is thought to be one of the earliest common ancestors of quite … More Our earliest ever ancestor had a big mouth and spewed – er –
When I was at primary school in Napier, New Zealand, all the kids – including me – were terrified of a particular teacher, the ‘go to’ disciplinarian who was invoked when other teachers wanted a kid especially punished. This bellowing drill-sergeant of a teacher demanded total submission to his power, even down to punishing kids … More How authoritarian bullies get away with it
When I was looking around for a new car a couple of years ago I made the difficult decision to go with an automatic. To me, autos aren’t proper cars, and they don’t require proper driving, especially with cruise control. You don’t drive them, you sit and ride in them while steering a bit. Mind … More Is driving an auto real driving?