Sunday, 3 February 2013

Successful dumb bastards

Survival of the fittest. We've all heard that one. It is a quote attributed to Charles Darwin and liberally thrown around like cheese on pizza.
Survival of the strongest, only the strong survive, law of the jungle and all that shit.
The funny thing is, I've read Charles Darwin's Origin Of The Species and at no point did he write 'survival of the fittest' or any of it's variations. Nope, it's not there.
What he does mention, when not talking about worms or calling natives 'savages' as was the style of the time, is that the species that survive are those who are better adapted to the their environment. Those who are more fit to live in it.
That part of the book was twisted by industrialist (the corporate executives of the Victorian era) to show that they were the strongest therefore had evolutionary right to hire nine year old kids and pay them with a bowl of gruel for their 14 hours of work a day.

No. Evolution is about adaptability and Darwin saw this everywhere. Every organism is finely tuned to survive it's environment, because if it isn't, it wouldn't be here.

And here's the one that amuses me. We, as humans, assume we're the pinnacle evolution because we're so smart. The smartest animal on the planet in fact.
Ever since modern humans busted out of Africa, we steam rolled the Neanderthals because we are intelligent and they were just a bunch of hairy dumb shits, right?
Motherfucking wrong! Neanderthals had ten percent bigger brains compared to us. Their toolmaking techniques where complex and ingenious, far beyond anything modern humans could come up with. Neanderthals, it appears, were the superior species.

So what happened? Why are we here then? How did we wipe them out?
I'll tell you how... we out-fucked them.
No battle of wits or epic all out war of species. Nope, we simply reproduced faster than they did.

Luckily, Neanderthals did not completely disappear. Recently, genetics have shown that most of us (with some sort of Asian, European or American decent. Not pure African) have some traces of Neanderthal DNA (from roughly around 2% to 6%).

So next time the world appears to be getting dumber, it may not be your imagination. You don't need brains to take over. No, all you need to conquer the world is to fuck more than the guy next to you.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The world is over. Welcome to the new world.

Globalisation. It's kind of the new buzzword like 'information superhighway' was in the 90's and 'fetch me some penicillin because I'm pissing fire and razor blades.' in the 1940's.
But what does it mean? Is it a good thing, a bad thing? What the fucken?

What it means is that we are no longer living in an era of self contained nations. It is no longer possible to shut the door, tell everyone to fuck off and run your country as a hermit... North Korea has been trying to do this for decades and they are now in a state where a bowl of spaghetti would feed five families. They are not doing so well.

Globalisation has met a lot of opposition for various groups. It's uncomfortable, scary and it can bring a whole lot of unwanted baggage.
Think of it this way. Say you've been living with your parents. You only got a couple of people to deal with so you've manage to work out rules and protocols that allow you to live in sort of harmony. Suddenly, your entire family moves in. Cousins, uncles, long lost relatives. This will cause a lot of friction. Everyone has their own idea of how to run things and how to deal with each other. Suddenly your routine, protocols and bathroom is thrown in disarray. You're no longer as important as you thought you were.

In the 80's , it's first victim was communism. Capitalist saw this as confirmation that capitalism was the way forward and they went full steam ahead.  Now capitalism is on life support and I don't think it will be waking up from its coma. Maybe we can draw a funny moustache with a marker before it kicks the bucket.
You see, the thing about communism and capitalism it that their demise was not due to them not working or being ineffective. Under the right conditions, both system have demonstrated that they can work. What happened was that they simply became obsolete. Both systems encourage despotism. Communism with despotism of state and capitalism with despotism of elite classes. Thanks to a wired, on-line and always connected world population, that shit don't fly anymore.

Now we're in a state of flux. There is a power struggle of different ideas and factions battling it out to become the next dominant philosophy that guides the world. Religious and fringe political groups are in upheaval for that same reason. I suspect they are wasting their time.

Just as Socialism was an answer to the exploited working class of the 18th century or environmental parties came out as an answer to the reckless environmental damage of the 20th century, I believe a new political/philosophical movement shall rise in this new world.  A movement that defies national boundaries and not so much ignores cultural differences  but acknowledges the common bonds that ties us all as a human family.
It won't be easy. We have an enormous amount of baggage  to throw away. Nationalism, racial prejudices, socio-economic elitism. Heck, there are some countries out there that still haven't realised that they are but a small part of a very big planet and see themselves as more important that the rest of the world. I wish them luck because some of them are already paying the price for their self-importance.

No one can survive on their own anymore. For a few countries,  these lessons will not be learned but beaten into by the circumstances.
It will not be pretty and a lot will be lost. Some individual cultures will cease to exist and the world as a whole will be a bit poorer for it. But really, it is what may need to happen for us to survive. In the end, that's the name of the game, survival.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Sir Patrick Moore

I had no idea! How did I not know this?!

Today I came across the terribly sad news that Sir Patrick Moore passed away on the 9th of December 2012.

This quirky showman of astronomy inspired many a child to take up astronomy with his infectious enthusiasm.
Although describing himself as an "amateur astronomer", his work in mapping the moon was used by the USA and the Soviet Union as reference for moon landings.

His monocled face and smashing British accent will be sadly missed and leaves a void that will be extremely hard to fill. His legacy however, will live on.

Good night, sir.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Making a comic: A joyful happy chamber of torture.

(This entry may not come out right since I'm currently nursing the worst hangover in the history of humanity.)
Right, just so you know, I'm a busy person. At most, I get one or two hours a day to work on my comic. It blows.
I wish I could update at least twice a week, but due to real life responsibilities and commitments the best I can do is once a week. However, single weekly updates brings forth a whole new bag of problems. In some ways they create more work for me.
1) You must wrap up a lot in that single page. Joke, story and punchline. You don't have the luxury of opening a joke then delivering the punchline on the next page. That would be in a week, and by then you'd forgotten the set up for the joke. So you must make a self contained page that not only moves the story forward at a brisk pace but also sets up a joke and delivers the punchline in a very limited amount of space.
2) Less frequent updates mean higher quality pages. That means spending a lot of time in the artwork and dialogue. Get everything just right. Make a rubbish page and you won't get a fresh chance to win new readers till next week. Try making the best page you possibly can.
3) Pacing. You don't get the luxury of establishing mood and setting with grand locale illustrations or long winded back stories.  You gotta move the story along at neck breaking speed otherwise you could easily spend months in a single chapter. People would be bored very quickly.
4) People will forget you. Most people these days have the attention span of a fly on amphetamines. If you're not in their faces constantly, you'll fade from their memory very quickly.
Do stuff to remind them of you outside updates. Screen wallpapers, blogs, Facebook. Build a relationship with your readers and they may remember you not just your comic.
5) Discipline. Sometime, just because you're doing one page per week, you think you can get away without working on your comic for a couple of days. Sure, that brand new game you bought yourself is mighty tempting, but you do run the risk using up your comic making time and missing your update schedule date. You must have a clear timetable and targets, otherwise you'll fall behind.
6) Keep improving. I'm guilty of this one. Sometimes you're so busy and have so little time that you stagnate and stop experimenting. Try new things out and who knows, you might find a new technique that saves you time.
That's a lot of work. I can see why so many webcomics fold so quickly and yet I'm amazed that so many stick to their guns and keep working on it, popular or not, with or without readers. That, in a nutshell, is passion.

Friday, 4 January 2013

I'll see you in space... NOT!

If you're anything like me, at some point, would have watched a sci-fi move made in the 50's or 60's. A shiny vision of the future with man living in distant planets, wearing space suits made out of aluminium foil, fish-bowls for helmets and not a single black, Hispanic or Asian person to be seen. Yes, it was all very optimistic, if a little racist, and people were convinced that Earth was but a temporary home for mankind as we were sure to leave our ancestral birthplace behind and head for the stars.

Yeah, so what happened?
Okay, first we have the obvious technological constrains. Putting stuff in space is expensive and really, really difficult. In fact, rockets use all their fuel just escaping earth's gravity. By the time our orange juice is floating in an amusing manner across the room, we're running on fumes and there's no BP servo anywhere to be seen.

But let's say we overcame this problem? Let assume we've constructed a space lift which makes earth launches redundant. There's the distance.
Space is fucking big. Seriously, whoever built it... WHAT THE FUCK WHERE YOU THINKING! Even travelling at light speed it would take 100,000 years to cross our galaxy! To get anywhere interesting we would need stasis chambers and by the time you wake up, there may not be anyone home to tell what you've seen.

But let us assume that we overcame the faster than light travel issue. Let us assume we can go anywhere in a relatively sane amount of time. Now we have the biggest problem of all. Us.
You see, humans were developed on Earth. Designed and conceived in the very place you're standing right now. We have a very pleasant star, called the sun, which gives us the right amount of heat. We also have plenty of water, food, oxygen, a rather convenient magnetic field to protect us against cosmic radiation and the perfect amount of gravity so as to enable us to do most thing, yet not allowing our muscles to waste away.
Earth is perfect, right? Not really. It's only perfect to us because we've been tailored to live on it.
The problem is that space is not earth. That's right, you've heard me! Humans evolved here and here is the only place we can survive.
Think about it, we get ill just by eating the food when we go to another country. What chances do we have of surviving a trip to Andromeda?

Space is not a nice place. In fact, space is out to metaphorically butt-rape you the second you get there and we're completely defenceless. Radiation would kill us at a molecular level, the vacuum would make all our bodily fluids boil away and there's no way we could survive the extremes of heat and cold. There's also the problem of food. Even if we find plants and animals in other planets we would be unable to digest them as their genetic (if they even have genes) codes would be incompatible with ours. We would starve.

There are two possible solutions to these problems.
Option one... You terraform. Find a suitable planet, roughly the size of Earth with a magnetic field and soil with similar chemical make up which also happens to reside in a habitable zone not too close or too far from a star. Then it's just a matter of getting to work reshaping it into something we can live in.

Option Two... Here things get interesting. We change ourselves. We genetically engineer people to allow them to survive in the hostile space. Make them impervious to radiation, allow them to survive in zero gravity environments, modify them to extract nutrients from simple organic materials found all throughout the known universe and shield them against the heat and cold of space.
What I do wonder is, once we're finished modifying all the DNA needed to survive, what do we have then?

One day, we may reach other worlds outside our solar system but I got the feeling that by the time we get there we will no longer call ourselves humans.
I just hope it's girls with cat or bunny ears.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


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Friday, 21 December 2012

End of the world!!

So how was the end of the world for you?
I liked the bit when Jesus and Satan bought everyone a round of drinks.