Philosophy


Day 3 (cont):

~ And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

~ And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good

In other words, God made all the plants. And felt mighty pleased with himself. Then he remembered that maybe the plants would all DIE if they had no sunlight (at least they had plenty of water), so when he went home that night he obviously scribbled up a few ideas for the next day’s chores.

Day 4:

~ And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

~ And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

OK, so I just want to go over that. In the first verse it says God made some lights in the firmament, and then in the next one he made the sun and the moon and the stars. What the fuck is the person who wrote this smoking? If he made lights in the firmament, what were they if they weren’t the stars? And didn’t he already make light anyway? Where the hell was that coming from if it wasn’t from the sun or the moon or the stars?1

If these verses tell us anything, it is that God is very fucking badly organized. Why the crap didn’t he do the sun & the stars and so forth before he did the Earth? It’s like he was doing this for the first time or something. Oh, right.

Anyway, God set the sun & stars in place…

…to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

Here he is acting smug again, even though he’s royally screwed up Day 4. Can it possibly get any worse?

Day 5:

~ And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

~ And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

On the Fifth Day we find God creating winged fowl and whales. The most astute of you will have already noticed that God’s To Do List for Day 5 specifically describes ‘Birds and Fish’ and so again he has fucked up from the get-go by creating whales, which as anyone knows are mammals and not fish. As for the fowl, he has given them free reign to flap around the firmament, which, as we learned from the last installment he designated as Heaven. Yes, that’s right – Heaven is full of chickens.

Stay tuned to Tetherd Cow Ahead for Episode 3 of ‘What God Did’, where we find out what God got up to on Day 6, and examine in depth his obsession with ‘creeping things’.

  1. Out of his ass is the obvious answer. OK, I guess if anyone can claim that the sun shines out of his ass, it’s God, come to think of it []

As Reverend of the Church of the Tetherd Cow, one of my many duties is to ponder the Big Questions of Life so that I may duly pass my received wisdom onto you, my flock of faithful Acowlytes. Recently, I found my mind wandering onto one of the biggest puzzles of them all – that of the Creation of the Universe. Specifically, the kind of Creation as taught primarily (but by no means exclusively) by those who advocate the Christian view of things.

In case your Sunday School lessons have receded a bit too far into the foggy haze of memory, here’s a quick refresher on how the Almighty got things under way:

In the beginning there was nothing at all. Except, self-evidently, for God Himself.1 This must have been deadly dull for dear old God. Imagine the most boring day you’ve ever had and then multiply that by ten gazillion. There wasn’t even so much as a crossword to fill in or some paint to watch dry. There was just a whole big heap of nothingness. Just God sitting in a chair, on his ass, wondering what to do with himself. No, wait, there wasn’t even a chair.

So God decided to bring the universe and everything we know into existence.2 The conventional wisdom has it that he did this over seven days. Well, technically six, but more of that in a bit. This was the To Do list:

Day 1: Light.
Day 2: Separation of the Waters.
Day 3: The Earth
Day 4: The Sky.
Day 5: Birds and Fish.
Day 6: The Animals including Humans.
Day 7: Rest.

Day 7 wouldn’t count as a working day in any job I’ve ever had, so we can only assume God filled in His timesheet something like this:

But really, if you start to scrutinize God’s first week of work, some interesting questions arise…

Day 1: How long, exactly, does it take to create Light? It’s not like you can carve it out of something, or cobble it out of stuff to hand – there isn’t anything. So you’ve got to conjure it up from scratch. To you and me this sounds rather daunting but it is of course no real problem for God, since He is omnipotent. This means he could easily whip up a whole batch of light in a good 8 hour day. But waiddaminute… if he’s omnipotent, why spend a whole day on it? He could do it in half an hour. A minute. A second even. Just what was God doing all that first day? Is it possible he rocked up to work, zapped light into existence, grabbed a cup of hot java3 and then sat on his fat ass all day? Are you with me here? Alright. Then, the very next thing that happened was:4

~And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Whoa! Wait just one damn minute there Big fella! Everyone knows that night and day are the result of the earth’s rotation5, and the Earth doesn’t get created until Day 3, according to the List. What the crap is going on here pal? You’ve got days, but you ain’t got rotation! Or even a planet. How the heck does that work?

Day 2: To me, creating Light sounds pretty damn tricky, but that’s a snack compared to what God did next:

~ And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

~ And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

OK, now did you get that? It seems there was a lot of water (I don’t exactly know where that came from, because there is no mention of it actually being created, as such. The water was just there.) and God divided it into two portions, separated by a firmament – a sort of watery firmament sandwich. God then called the firmament Heaven. Just so you’ve got a visual picture here, there’s Heaven, with a whole lot of water above it, sitting in a whole lot of water. I trust that God made sure Heaven has good caulking.

Day 3:

~ God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

From here on in, there is no mention at all of the waters that float somewhere above Heaven. Like it doesn’t matter. What bothers me is if this supra-water was not important, then why bring it up it in the first place… What has it got to do with ANYTHING? And, as far as I know, we never again hear about this extra water in the whole course of the Bible!6

Well, I’ll leave you to ponder that until the next installment, when we will learn some more about the Creation of the Earth and then about the Sky, including the Sun and the Moon (Yes, yes – I know we have days already without the Sun being in place… if you think that’s daffy, wait till you see God make all the trees and plants and then the Sun. Talk about workflow inefficency.)

  1. There may also have been a lot of water – see later []
  2. Why He did this all of a sudden is anybody’s guess. []
  3. OK, I guess he couldn’t have done that – he hadn’t created coffee beans yet []
  4. All biblical references are from the King James Bible, ‘cos I’m an old fashioned kinda Reverend and I don’t hold with these modern ‘interpretations’ of the Holy Bible where some joker has gone ‘I know God said that, but this is what he really meant’. []
  5. Anyone going to argue with me over that? No? I thought not. []
  6. Although I guess God had to get the water for the Great Flood from somewhere… []

Cuddly!

Now, as I mentioned at the end of that last post, before I got distracted by the whole V debacle I had set out to jot down a few thoughts on something a little more serious. A related topic, to be sure, but seriouser. And much more deeper. You’ll understand the detour I think – just keep in the back of your mind that it might involve lizards and you should keep up.

In a recent issue of New Scientist magazine, Dr Susan Blackmore (a scientist we quite like because she dyes her hair rainbow colours) made some interesting speculations about what she calls the ‘third replicator’ of our species. I’m not going to go into detail about her article (you can read it here if you like) but to precis, her idea is that there have been two important shapers of human evolution on this planet – genes and memes – and that we may now be looking at the emergence of a third replicator which will change us beyond what we can ever anticipate and probably do so even before we are likely to be fully aware of it. This third replicator (for which she invites us to invent a name) is something, she speculates, that is arising already out of our rather recently acquired human interconnectedness. I like the notion and I even think she may well be onto something, but that’s by-the-by; let’s push on a bit.

Toward the end of her item she brings up the subject of the perennial modern human quest to find life elsewhere in the universe. It is a pursuit close to my heart – I, too, would love to know if there is life out there. Really, who wouldn’t? Like about a zillion other people, I was happy to jump on the SETI@Home bandwagon when that started up, and for a while there I was pretty damn eager to help find the next Wow! signal. But then I started to reflect… The idea of making actual contact with aliens has always freaked me out a bit. While it would be nice to know if those lizard people are out there I’m not so sure I like the idea that they may consequently know we’re out here. Just think about it for a second: any civilization with whom we might make contact must necessarily be at least as technologically advanced as we are, and, more likely, somewhat further advanced. Can a situation like this turn out to be to our advantage? Given the only example to which we can refer – the history of the civilization of own planet – I think we can make an almost unassailable rule-of-thumb. I will call it the Reverend’s Law of Beads & Mirrors:

• If, by fate or design, two previously separated cultures are drawn together, the one with the least sophisticated technology always ends up with the worst part of the bargain.

I don’t think I can think of a single exception to this Law in the entire span of human history (although I would be completely delighted to be pointed to any counter-examples).

Further, I propose that this Law is exponential – the greater the difference between the two technological entities, the worse the outcome for the less sophisticated one. Again, my examination of human transactions shows no contradiction to this addendum.

And so I ask: is it really such a good idea to buddy up with the lizard-folk? Won’t it just turn out badly for us? Call me xenophobic, but if an alien is offering his claw in friendship, I’m keeping my brain way out of reach of his telescoping mandibles.

“But Reverend,” I hear you exclaim, “If Professor Einstein was correct, even if the lizard people are super-intelligent, then the laws of physics won’t allow them to ever get here! So our hamsters are completely safe!”

Ah yes, but this is where we turn back to Dr Blackmore’s hypothesis, and the scary implication she has entirely missed (or perhaps glossed over, if she is, as I am beginning to suspect, a lizard person herself…)

After making a case for our human originated Replicator 3 (R3) somehow acquiring a gestalt ‘imprint’ of the sum of human experience that none of us individually may even fully comprehend, she says in her New Scientist article:

Perhaps intelligence and civilisation are not what we should be concentrating on […in our search to find extraterrestrial life…]. My analysis based on Universal Darwinism suggests that instead we should be looking for R3 planets

Hey! Whoa there Starbuck! Throttle back on the thrusters and pull up planet-side for a bit!

Can you see the full implication of what she’s proposing, Acowlytes? Not that we should be looking for life on other worlds, but that we should be looking for third level replicators on other worlds. Or, to fill in the step that she seemed to have… missed… (yeah, right, Ms Lizard Scientist): that we should be setting ourselves up so that our third replicators (you remember – they’re the ones over which we may not have any actual control) can get in touch with their third replicators. In other words – our souped-up way-brainier-than-a-hundred-Einsteins Hive Mind confabbing (behind our backs) with their souped-up way-brainier-than-a-million-reptilian-Einsteins Hive Mind…

The lizards are probably in parking orbit already.

Well, alrighty then! I’ve sure got a name for this R3 thingy: let’s call it a neme, after the word nemesis – something it will surely become. From the Greek nemein for ‘retribution’, personified as the goddess of divine punishment.

I’ve got a b-a-a-a-d feeling about this…

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Oh, and while we’re on the subject – I see from the poll that we now have two lizard people among the Cownoscenti! Praise Mangar-kunjer-kunja! I pray that he sends you a plentiful supply of flies and hamsters!

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While in my local video store a few days back, in a rare moment of consumer weakness1 I succumbed to a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ offer and picked up a DVD compilation of all the episodes and the ‘movie’ of the 80s science fiction tele-epic V.

It didn’t seem like such a bad deal really – Violet Towne and I both had fond memories of V. You remember the schtick I’m sure: huge alien space ships the size of Donald Trump’s ego appear rather abruptly over a good number of the world’s major cities and hover there j-u-u-u-s-t long enough to give everybody the heebie jeebies. It turns out that the wait is merely due to the alien leader putting on her face. The doomsaying of a few negative Earthling Cassandras is, it appears, just overactive xenophobia. Shucks – the alien ‘Visitors’ are a jolly happy lot who want nothing more than to lend a helping hand to the struggling new kids on the intergalactic block. And to eat all our hamsters, steal our water and suck out our brains – but it’s not like anyone could have seen something like that coming, right?

Sure, there were a few troubling indicators, if you knew where to look: the aliens’ appalling dress sense (well, it was the 80s, so it’s not like they stood out that much), their insistence on wearing sunglasses indoors (that didn’t start happening for Earthlings until the 90s, so I guess that was a demonstration of the visitors’ advanced culture) and their habit of snacking on mice out of dumpsters (but hey – if you’re discreet…). Oh, and if you happened to tear their skin off, there was a surprise lizard underneath.2



In any event, it didn’t take VT and I long to realise that our fond memories of V had taken on the rosy glow that only nostalgia can lend. The series (which David Icke probably thought was a documentary), was, in fact, pretty damn awful. The general structure of the thing certainly did have potential (ham-fisted Third Reich analogs notwithstanding) and the feeling of distrust and helplessness in the face of an implacable adversary is an idea that has a lot going for it. Our twenty-something selves evidently saw past the frightful soap-quality acting and into something of the concept’s promise – over the years our memories have thankfully expunged much of the dreadful dialogue and appalling plot contrivances.

Last night we got to the end of Series 2, in which, overcoming the sobering improbabilities of mammalian and reptilian genetic structures being anywhere near compatible, one of the cast gives birth to alien twins, the arrival of the second of which was undoubtedly supposed to instill terror in the viewing audience. But when the little toothy green reptile muppet ‘baby’ lunged ‘menacingly’ toward the camera (several times for good measure) Violet Towne and I simultaneously shrieked in unison, snorted our pinot through our noses and fell on the floor laughing. How did we ever accept such abominable bathos? I mean it’s not as if there wasn’t any better precedent – V post-dates Ridley Scott’s impeccable (and still mightily effective) Alien by a full 5 years! I guess we were just a lot better at the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ in those halcyon days (and it was television – which in those times was in most cases notably inferior to anything you could see on the big screen).

At several times during our V marathon, VT and I remarked that it was surprising that no-one had attempted a remake of the concept, and, of course, teh internets piped up to let us know that someone is doing just that. It will no doubt thrill all you V aficionados down to your little webbed toes (and have David Icke struggling even harder in his straight jacket) to know that ABC is airing a new series of V this November. And the subset of those devotees who are also fans of Joss Wheedon’s lamentably short-lived Firefly will be doubly chuffed to learn that the Visitor leader is being played by Morena Baccarin – a woman so impossibly beautiful that apparently she can only get roles that require an impossibly beautiful woman who is really a lizard (well, seriously – after a smashing debut in Firefly, she fairly disappeared without a trace. WTF?) Alan Tudyk (Firefly‘s ‘Wash’) also has a major role in the new V3



I think we can assume that ABC is attempting a Battlestar Galactic-style remake of V, which, all things considered, could be kinda fun. At least we can expect the acting to be better, and hopefully something a little less lumpen in the way of allegory and story.

I have to confess, though, Faithful Acowlytes, that these musings have become something of a digression from my original purpose for this post – I meant to use my examination of the colourful antics of V to illuminate an entirely different matter involving aliens and earthlings. As this post has already become rather lengthy, I’ll forbear for now. But stay tuned for Part 2, in which we’ll ask some serious questions about alien/human interaction. And no, it doesn’t involve kinky lizard porn.

  1. I’m not much of a ‘bargain’ shopper – I figure that bargain is just retail code for “We’ve got too many of these bloody things Hank – see what you can do to free up some shelf space…” []
  2. In what must be one of the cheapest budget decisions made for a science fiction movie EVER, the Visitors never appeared as their lizard selves. Never. Not once. They goose-stepped around earth in their orange-uniformed monkey-suits, procreated with Earth women without giving anything away (now that must have been interesting) and relaxed in the privacy of their own off-Earth ships in their stretchy homo-prostheses. No alien in the history of science fiction has shown such dedication to keeping incognito! []
  3. One is inclined to speculate that people at ABC actually watched Firefly (unlike anyone at Fox, evidently) and knew a good thing when they saw it… []

Cemetery!

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Special big thanks to Bronni for spotting & snapping this excellent signage!

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A Village Idiot

I’ve long been fascinated with the concept of the ‘village idiot’, a notion that is so entrenched in our collective psyches that pretty much everybody knows exactly what it means. The concept of the village idiot appears everywhere from Monty Python sketches, to the name of a motorcycle club, to the almost ubiquitous association of the term with George W. Bush in recent times.

I’ll bet that you, like me, thought it was an idea that has somehow made its way to us from medieval times, to take its place in the zeitgeist as a quaint reminder of days of yore, where every village had its idiot and a nicely aimed rotten turnip was not only completely politically correct, but de rigeur.

Turns out that teh internets don’t have much to say on the history of the village idiot at all. The root[tippy title=”*”]Geddit? Root? Turnip?[/tippy] of the idea is somewhat obscure, and the oldest actual reference to it that can be tracked down comes from the preface to George Bernard Shaw’s acerbic Major Barbara, written in 1907.

Before that, nothing. It’s quite surprising really – I was expecting it to be a term rich with history and colour, maybe something featuring in Shakespeare or Chaucer, but it appears that its main activity has been in the near past; the invention of an era almost without villages as such.[tippy title=”†”]Not, however, an era without idiots, needless to say.[/tippy]

So, as we go forward into this age of the Global Village, we will, of course, need to refresh this term. As idiots embrace technology there will undoubtedly be a role for them to fill, and the very least we can do, is offer them the opportunity to do so!

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*Geddit? Root? Turnip?

†Not, however, an era without idiots, needless to say.

(Photo of the Technological Idiot swiped from the inimitable Dark Roasted Blend)

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