Why nobody notices synthesisers any more

I’m intrigued by how quickly we get used to music and sounds. Just about every track we listen to these days has electronically-generated content, and even the analog elements are usually processed. Thanks to digital signal processing and software originally developed for the oil industry, singers can even fix pitch and timing. But that wasn’t … More Why nobody notices synthesisers any more

Are we exceptional humans? Or just stupid apes who do stupid ape things?

It would be nice to think that, as humans, we have something special about us. But when I look at the mess we’ve made of the world – at the way we’re destroying the planet that sustains us, all the while fighting among ourselves, with increasing venom and intolerance, over abstractions, I have to wonder. … More Are we exceptional humans? Or just stupid apes who do stupid ape things?

Can we undo the eco-damage we’ve been doing, as a species?

I lament the way that humans have trampled through the Earth’s fragile environment. We’ve already destroyed a lot of habitats, and with it a dismaying number of species. You can be sure we’ll destroy a lot more before we fall into extinction ourselves, which is where we’re obviously heading if we carry on as we … More Can we undo the eco-damage we’ve been doing, as a species?

Our earliest ever ancestor had a big mouth and spewed – er –

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 –

Why do we always see an apocalypse around the next corner?

A retired Professor from the University of Arizona, Guy McPherson, told an audience in New Zealand last year that the human race will be extinct from climate change in a decade. Except here. Apparently we’re well placed at the bottom of the South Pacific to survive. And there’s a precedent. Until the 1280s, for the … More Why do we always see an apocalypse around the next corner?

How societies get sucked into authoritarianism

I’ve been thinking lately about one of the eye-opening experiences of my university life, and what it tells us about today’s world. In 1981 I arrived at Victoria University of Wellington as a bright-eyed eighteen year old, filled with the idea that university was the place where people could express their intellectual ideas constructively. I … More How societies get sucked into authoritarianism