Saturday, 28 February 2015

Flaxen Saxon's Sexual Healing: A Trilogy in four Parts

A concerned reader writes

Some folk don't need contraception

Dear Flaxen Saxon,
I solicit your advice on a sensitive and personal matter. I’m to be married in two weeks and would like your opinion on the most suitable contraceptive method for a newly married woman. I must mention that I’m a vegan, virgin and believe that to relinquish my maidenhead to my beloved, on my marriage night, is the greatest gift a woman can bestow on a man. I won’t use the contraceptive pill as my body is a temple. Also my intended eschews the contraceptive sheath as burning rubber releases dangerous polycarbonate hydrocarbons which are harmful to pristine rain forest habitats. I spoke to my doctor about this matter but he said he wasn't qualified to provide contraceptive advice. However, he’d met a bloke in a Smethwick pub who knew this Flaxen Saxon fellow who had a first aid certificate issued in 1974 by the Red Cross……[ad nauseum].

Flaxen Saxon dispenses wisdom with aplomb

First off, I applaud your diligence in maintaining an intact and un-nudged snatch. Where I come from the initial courtship ritual usually involves your mates holding the chosen maiden down. Consequently, there are no fragrant flowers to be plucked past the age of 16; a few ugly birds aside. Mrs Saxon can barely keep her knickers on and had performed ‘the hymen manourvre’ when she was 13. By the time I picked her up in the ‘Chain Makers Arms’ Bilsley, in 1978, she had already straddled her way through most of the men folk from Halesowen to West Bromwich. I digress. Here are my top 5 contraceptive methods for you green, left wing, tofu eating, middle-class twats:

    Blu Twat
1. Place a small piece of rolled up blu tac in the eyelet of the erect member. The main side effect, on release, is usually a slight bilateral swelling of the testicles. Don’t be alarmed! Pressure can be relieved by the application of a sterile wooden skewer. Beware of a catastrophic ballistic blowout. In such an eventuality, you may lose a tonsil or ovary, depending on circumstance. Look on the bright side and lose an ovary, thus decreasing your chance to conceive by 50%.

     Coitus Ani in situ: 'One up the bum, no harm done'         
2. Method is self-explanatory. There are no known side effects. Arse, big sore, arse.

     Salt 'n' Shake
3. Tie an empty crisp packet on the ‘old oak tree’. I like to use empty salt ‘n’ vinegar crisp packets as they have the added bonus of containing an active spermicide. Do not be tempted to use an empty packet from Walkers latest range: 'hot chilli and wasabi sauce.'

     Pearls of Jisdom
4. This is an advanced technique and should only be practiced by those possessed of an iron will. Withdraw member just prior to popping. Aim for the belly button. With practice and diligence you should be able to paint animal shapes on your loved ones stomach.

     Rad the Nad
5. Tape down the safety switch on your microwave. Close the door on your testicles (not too tight- otherwise refer to method 6). Turn the microwave on- don’t forget to rotate. Of course, the trick with this technique is to apply sufficient radiation to render the recipient temporary infertile without the need to visit the local Accident and Emergency Department.

Method number 6

Keep the questions coming gentle readers and the beautifully formed and flaxen haired one will endeavour to provide pertinent answers to your most perplexing conundrums and problems. Soapy tit wank. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Did the earth move for you?

Aristotle: Reminds me of a blogger mate of mine. I think we should be told.

If the earth is spinning at 840 mph, why is it when we jump in the air the ground below us doesn’t move? What a good question, I’m glad you asked it. Common sense dictates that during our sojourn in the air the earth would have passed us by and we would probably be dashed unto death against the nearest concrete building. It doesn’t happen, of course. You could argue that this doesn’t occur because the earth is not revolving a jot. Tis stationary and it is the golden global thingy in the sky which moves around the earth; makes sense doesn’t it? Mayhap the world is flat. 

A few Greek philosophers in 5th century BC gave credence to the possibility of earth’s rotation. However, Aristotle (in the 4th century BC) favoured a static earth. Such was Aristotle’s reputation that this view became fixed in the minds of men. Aristotle was an astonishing individual and if his work had remained the basis for future study all would have been well. Unfortunately, the great man was so revered by later generations that constructive thought and speculation ossified for over 15 hundred years. Thus Thomas Aquinas, the definitive 13th-century catholic scholar, believed in a stationary earth mostly because of Aristotle's authority. We would have to wait until the 16th century for the earth to start to move in earnest. The astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, in the 16th century proposed a rotating earth. The medieval scholastic world was coming to an end and the modern scientific age beckoned, with aplomb. Although at the time many scholars, especially catholic scholars, rejected the notion mainly on the basis of theology rather than sound scientific theory. 

The reason we are not all dashed to pieces as the earth rotates is a consequence of 'conservation of momentum.' As the earth spins, the atmosphere and everything on the earth's surface continue to move with the earth at the same speed. Consider yourself in a moving train travelling at 60 mph. If you jumped would you expect to land further down the carriage? Of course not- because you are travelling at the same speed as the train. The earth imparts momentum which is conserved as predicted and shown experimentally by Isaac Newton. Objects will keep moving at the same velocity unless a force is applied. The force required to overcome the earth's momentum would be prodigious. 

Few today would dispute that the earth spins on its axis. Scientific theory and observation have proved beyond a doubt that indeed this is the case. To think otherwise is an exercise in futility and madness. But there are Muslim Clerics who would teach otherwise. Sheik Bandar al-Khaibari is to be seen on YouTube expressing the view that "the earth is stationary and does not move." He backs up his claim with spurious logic. I have included a link to this illustrious video where the good Sheik explains why we foolish Westerners have got it all wrong. The musings are risible because of the Sheik's rhetorical sincerity. Let us be frank, this sort of nonsense has no place in the modern world. It belongs to a world that should have withered away a long time ago. Radical Muslims can believe what they like while we more enlightened folk snigger from the sidelines. Unfortunately, they would, if they could, impose their primitive beliefs on us all and this is something we should resist with all our power and  will.

Newton: Let there be light, mechanics, laws of the universe, calculus.......


Sheik: Let the earth be flat
Watch and weep

Arrrrgh! Now you know why I want to burn stuff on a regular basis

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Democracy in 10th century England


As I sat upon my throne, in the Great Hall, pondering on the inherent absurdity of the  bitter sweet existence, which we call life, I was suddenly aroused from my reverie by the appearance of a lowly thegn. He approached my throne with ill-considered demeanour and gait. "King Flaxen, I approach you as a lowly thegn but would speak to you as a man. Are men not made the same and have the same loves and aspirations?" NO.

I thought anew. As king, my thoughts and aspirations are not of a thegn. Thegns do not know the love of a thousand wenches and have not sent a thousand men to their doom (or Valhalla) on the matter of whim or honour.

And so the thegn apprised me of things I didn't care about. He waxed much about the concept of Democracy. Apparently, a thousand years ago, a civilisation, long gone, decided that the best government should be elected by the 'best' men in the city. Women and slaves never entered the ballot box. So far, I could see nothing which would cause consternation. The city with this notion fell to the sword by a people who practised  Democracy, not at all. However, they practised war better than their neighbours.

So, he told me, that men deserve to choose who rules and influences their fate. Apparently there are several kings to choose from. All the thegns line up and throw a bone into cauldrons. Then someone who is not considered partisan counts the bones. The king with the most knuckle bones is King! But king for four years only. Thereafter, it starts anew.  Interesting, no doubt.

I reminded the impudent thegn that I ruled the kingdom because my father did. And that is democracy, in an instant. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Down Syndrome

The culprit- 'bad chromosome'

As my regular readers are aware, I'm a professional human geneticist. I reached the profession, via a tortuous route, many years ago. Prior to working in a genetics lab, I was a botanist. I couldn't make the transition these days, my background and degrees are all wrong. Arse.

Yesterday, I gave a talk to my colleagues and peers about Down syndrome. Most folk have heard of Down syndrome. It is the most common of the chromosome disorders and is caused by an additional chromosome 21 raising the human chromosome complement from 46 to 47. The presence of the extra 300 genes causes disruption to normal embryogenesis resulting in the stigmata associated with typical Down syndrome, and of course the intellectual deficit.  

Down syndrome individuals are instantly recognisable. There is a collective ‘look’ about them that’s not just confined to their highly distinctive facial features. You could identify a Down syndrome person from behind, I’m sure, without seeing their face. Their gait, their whole habitus, is instantly discernable.

They suffer from a whole host of medical problems due to that pesky extra chromosome. Congenital heart disease and other organ defects are common. There is also an increased incidence of leukaemia and an inherent predisposition to other conditions. The thrust of my lecture was concerned with the phenomenon of premature ageing and Down syndrome; tis a well described feature of the condition.

Ageing is a strange disease and we are still not sure why it occurs. We don’t all age at the same rate. I’m not talking chronological age, but biological age. Clearly, ageing is a complex choreography between our genetics and the way we choose to live our lives. Genetics plays a greater role than most doctors let on to their patients. I suppose this is a ‘trick’ to make us live healthy lives, but in most instances the tactic fails miserably. But regardless, some of us are genetically favoured and some less so. Down syndrome individuals fall conclusively into the latter category. Not only do they age faster than the general population, they also have reduced life expectancy. With old age come the diseases of old age. Arthritis and degenerative physical disease come to the fore. We become less mentally acute and are prone to the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Thus is the great pageant which is life (bugger nuts). Down’s individuals experience all this, but earlier.

Life expectancy in the civilised world has been climbing steadily over the past 100 years, and in parallel, the life expectancy for the Down’s population has soared. In 1929 live expectancy was 9 years, whilst today it is closer to 60. Better health and medical care are the likely causes. Although, I suspect in times of yore, infanticide was overtly or covertly practiced.

The incidence of Down syndrome is on the wane. This is due to improvements in prenatal screening. Theoretically, at least, and in the ‘ideal’ hospital setting 90% of Down’s pregnancies can be identified by a maternal blood test together with a detailed ultrasound scan. This is a screening test with many false positives and the definitive diagnosis still requires an invasive test and an examination of foetal chromosomes.  Most women choose to terminate when confronted with a foetus with a chromosomal disorder. And let’s be honest, who can blame them.

Over recent years, Down syndrome advocacy groups have arisen. They argue that Down syndrome individuals can lead happy and fulfilling lives. This cannot be denied. From my experience, parents choosing to terminate a Down's pregnancy are devastated. Terminating life should never be easy. The fact that most couples decide to terminate reflects reality. Raising and caring for a Down syndrome child is  exacting, draining, and emotionally and economically punishing. Their potential child will never live a full and independent life, and they know it.

The extreme end of the Down syndrome advocacy group use highly charged emotional terms and arguments not rooted in fact, or reality. Some argue that to terminate a Down's pregnancy is akin to eugenics and have the temerity to compare it to Hitler's programme of enforced 'euthanasia' for the mentally feeble. They do themselves no justice with such arguments and comparisons and only serve to raise spurious content which adds nothing to the furtherance of frank and honest debate.

Personally, I am firmly with the parents and their brave decisions. Caring for and raising  a child without mental disability is challenging enough. To embark on the journey knowing the route and the final chilling destination is a parental burden few would knowingly take.     

Bert, the oldest living Down syndrome. Died at 83

Anyway, I’m off to drink beer and smoke a good cigar with my son….                 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Fat Bergs

Fatty deposits: Pipe or artery? 
Ever wondered what happens to the chip fat which is lovingly dispatched down the sink? Hope you remember to apply copious amounts of hot water so it doesn’t congeal into a mass causing blockage and backup. Thus the oils and fat flow clean away, out of sight and mind…….

When the fat hits the cold, foul, sewer water, it coalesces. It associates with other globules of fat, inappropriately discarded tampons and other unmentionable substances.  All this forms a cold, slimy, glutinous alliance and matrix. And then it starts to grow. In this way, it mimics the deposition of fatty plaques in the cardiac arteries of the genetically unlucky. And the eventual result is the same. The bore diminishes until occlusion occurs; then the system infarcts.  For the unfortunate human, the outcome is a heart attack. In the sewer, fetid water and excrement, seep or rush to the surface depending on back pressure. Like coronary heart disease the fatty build-up in sewers can take generations to cause catastrophe.

Recently a 15 ton ‘fat berg’ (for it is they), about the size of a school bus, was discovered in the London sewer system. It took more than a month to dissipate the berg and free the blockage.
But fear not gentle readers, the fat/excrement will not be put to waste (ged it?). London council intends to burn it in one massive conflagration to power a turbine. It is estimated that 130 gigawatt- hours will be produced, enough energy to supply power for 40,000 London homes.  
If diligent sewerage workers hadn’t detected the blob, then eventually the streets of London would have been awash with raw sewage. The smell and the chaos would have been unimaginable- but would anyone have noticed? Arse, big smelly, arse……

Fat Bird

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Mayor of Tipton vows to visit the glorious Democratic Republic of North Korea

The Mayor and Fanny

Today, it was announced in Tipton's premier newspaper, 'The Tipton Bugle, incorporating parts of Netherton North and South Dudley environs', that the Right Honourable Mayor of Tipton, the esteemed Enoch Vowel will be embarking on a fact finding mission to the glorious Democratic Republic of North Korea. Mr Vowel was quick to reassure Tipton rate payers, saying: "I would like to reassure Tipton rate payers by saying that this trip will be fully covered by Council funds."

Mr Vowel will be accompanied by his voluptuous secretary, Miss Fanny Akimbo. Miss Akimbo is hoping to learn how to use Microsoft Word whilst in North Korea.

As a good will gesture, Mr Vowel will take along the entire population of the Tipton dog pound. The dogs will find refuge and heaven at Pyongyang's only restaurant, 'The Dog's Bollocks'. Let's take a look at today's menu:


Lab on a stick
Fido fries
Pooch and Prawn (sans prawn)
Lassie never came home fries
Hot dogs
Poodle noodles
Chow mein
Bichon fries
Spaghetti bolognese
Egg and chips

A 'dogy bag ' is always available.

Mr Vowel is expected to enter into high powered talks with North Korea's glorious leader: Kim Dim Sum. Topics on the agenda are likely to include discussions on Tipton’s appalling human rights record and the burgeoning stray dog problem. Arse.


Friday, 13 February 2015

Meet Spot.....

                                                                                         Watch and be amazed         
Robots are cool. A company in the US, Boston Dynamics, have been developing highly sophisticated robots for a while now. Check out the video above to see how versatile, agile and responsive their latest robot, ‘Spot the Dog’ can be. As you can see it can travel at jog speed, navigate over difficult ground and climb stairs. It is unperturbed by being kicked and is remarkably resilient. The project was funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and ostensibly designed to carry payloads into difficult areas. This would include areas hard to reach by wheeled or even tracked vehicles, or regions deemed too dangerous for humans, such as disaster or war zones. I suspect there may be a hidden agenda here. It doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination, or modification of ‘Spot’, to produce a weapon of war. Apply a few sheets of armour and a machine gun and you have a hardy ‘Dog of War’. I’m sure the US military are well aware of Spots’ capabilities. Certainly, with the modern Western mindset of preserving life in war, this is understandable. Contrast this sentiment to the reality of war 100 years ago. Life was cheap in the First World War and generals sent their men into battle expecting huge causalities rates, rates which would horrify a modern general and perhaps more importantly, a modern society. Regardless, robots are still cool.

I think I will call my robot ferret, 'Shagger'


Thursday, 12 February 2015

What makes you, you?

Are you sure this fits?

What makes you, you? Most would contend that the organ stuck between our ears, the brain, makes us uniquely who we are. The functionality of the organic brain is the formulator of the mind and hence directs and moulds our personal identity. Therefore, if you had a complete brain transplant would you lose your personal identity? Would your body be captured by another mind and essentially 'you' would no longer 'exist'? The donor brain within a recipient body would have a separate identity belonging to the original donor body. I think most would agree the case. Otherwise you would have to assert that personal identity lies elsewhere, say in the heart. This was the predominant view in the ancient world. Successful heart transplants dictate otherwise.

But what if we transplanted part of a brain, say a lobe or just cells. Would the recipient's own consciousness be changed in some way? Could the person take on board memories of the donor? Is it possible that a hybrid personal identity could result? A melding of two minds producing an 'identity chimera'.

These sorts of questions used to be the reserve of stuffy philosophy professors to stimulate rarefied intellectual debate with their equally impractical students. Modern medicine and, especially modern surgical technique, has changed the debate and made it actually relevant to modern practical thought. For today, it is possible to insert cells, lobes, and even whole brains from a donor to a recipient. In fact, brain tissue transplants are used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease. And there is a consideration to use brain tissue transplants for diseases such as Alzheimer's and  Huntington's.    

While few would argue for whole brain transplants considering the likely transfer of donor personal identity, the debate with regard to partial brain transplants occupies a murky intellectual realm. Some argue that transplants involving the parts of the brain controlling motor function, that is to say, arm movement for instance would be okay as identity would not be affected. What about a transplant that would involve the smile reflex? Things then get more complicated as a 'smile' is often linked to emotional states and more linked to our identity than picking up a spoon. The frontal lobe is known to be influential on our personality. Would transplants within this region change who we are? Neuroscientists are only just beginning to fathom the higher functions of the brain. However, evidence to date suggests that individual memories are not just confined to a small well defined region but appear to be spread out and diffuse. So, for instance, destroying part of the brain where a particular memory lies does not necessarily destroy that memory as it can be retrieved from other regions of the brain.

And if things weren't complex enough, some philosophers argue that we do not have an adequate definition of 'personal identity'. And if you don't know what you are talking about, how can the discussion begin? Given the confusion and basic lack of scientific knowledge the discussion on brain tissue transplantation is likely to remain contentious. However, the fact that partial transplants have showed medical promise in the treatment of Parkinson's and are likely to be utilised in other brain disorders it behoves the philosophers and neurosurgeons to initiate a dialogue. But would they actually understand what their counterpart was saying? Perhaps what is needed is a human with half the brain of a philosopher and the other from a brain surgeon. What do you think the end result would be? - I predict a moron.               
Conundrum akimbo

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Waitangi Day: The reprise

That's a bit rude

Yesterday, in New Zealand, we suffered the indignity of 'Waitangi Day'. On this day, in 1840, the British signed a treaty with the Maori tribes. We are now saddled with this legacy. The British of the time must have gone soft and thereby deviated from standard  colonial policy of sending the 'choco' off to an early grave through the medium of Brown Bess and the bayonet. We missed a golden opportunity especially as the Maoris were armed only with pointed sticks and assorted fruit baskets.

Although the Maori comprise only 15% of the population they are responsible for much of society's ill. A brief look at the weekly 'Crime Watch' programme reveals a cascade of mug shots comprising solely of Maori folk. The unending commentary inevitably drones on: "The offender(s) is/are described as Maori or Pacific Islanders."

The white lilly livered liberals are always bewailing and bemoaning that society has somehow failed the Maori, even though they are subject to appalling positive discrimination. Even with all the government schemes and incentives, they still don't do well at school and in society in general. We need to stop making excuses for the Maori. If they are subject to poverty then they need to take action and responsibility and not to expect hand outs from the government and ultimately, the tax-payer. And so I could go on...........

Says it all really- Arse
Oh, by the way, Waitangi Day is the only day you can legally shoot Maoris, or is it Possums- I confess, I often get the two buggers confused. Unfortunately due to my confusion I never know how deep to dig the bloody holes. Arse. I've digressed

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Boko Haram: A darker shade of evil

Seems like a nice fella to abduct your daughter

Let me introduce ISIS's African cousins, Boko Haram. The name roughly translates as: 'Western education is sin' and they are true jihadists, in the traditional and primitive sense (is there any other?). They despise the West and all its values. They particularly oppose Western education and have attacked schools, shot school children and abducted schoolgirls who are then considered 'war booty' to be sold on as sex slaves. The asking price for the average sex slave in Nigeria is $12, apparently.    

The radical Islamic group was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf proved a charismatic leader, who unsurprisingly, died in government custody in 2009. Not only does Boko Haram oppose the 'decadent' West, it also detests what it sees as apostate Muslims, which roughly equates to any Muslim who does not embrace its own barbaric principles. Their goal is to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria subject to strict sharia law. Since 2009 they have undertaken an aggressive campaign attacking police stations and government buildings. Their current leader, Abubakar Shekau, is reputed to have said: "I enjoy killing anyone that God commands me to kill- the way I like killing chickens and rams." Best not to put him in charge of the local petting zoo, then. They have implemented numerous terror attacks against Christians in the north of the country and threatened to kill any Christians they find there- this is no idle threat. They have even extended operations into neighbouring countries. Recently they raided into the adjacent countries of Cameroon and Chad indiscriminately killing over a 100 people. The Chadian army has countered by attacking terrorist outposts in the border region killing large numbers of insurgents.

Boko Haram's tactics of terror and intimidation have resulted in the organisation gaining control of much of north-eastern Nigeria. They control an area equivalent in size to Iraq and Syria combined. Their success has been due, in part, to the divisions in wealth between the north and the south of the country encouraging dispossessed young men to flock to Boko Haram's banner in their thousands. The north of the country is also predominantly Muslim in contrast to the 'rich' Christian south.

The corrupt rulers in Abuja have been unable to conduct a coherent or effective counter offensive. The corruption and incompetency of Goodluck Jonathon's regime is legendary. At one stage the government thought they had negotiated a cease fire with the insurgent group only to find that they had conducted negotiations with the wrong terror organisation. In addition, the Nigerian armed forces are woefully inefficient and brutal. In terms of savagery there is little to distinguish between the terrorists and regular Nigerian armed forces.    

'Badluck Mugumbo' contemplating his numerous assets

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer. Although oil generates vast revenues the majority of the Nigerian population subsists on less than two dollars a day. As in all African countries, corruption is rampant and the ruling elite are concerned only to accrue personal wealth to the economic detriment of the general population. The question is this: Will Boko Haram extend its influence into the south of the country? It is unlikely that the citizens of the Christian south would be willing to side with the brutal Muslim group especially judging on past record. Their only chance of success would lie with a military takeover, which currently seems unlikely. However, political instability in the region is possibly the organisation's greatest ally. The ramshackle, blatantly corrupt, and inept Nigerian regime could collapse into economic ruin. In such an eventuality, Boko Haram would be ready to move south, although geography, lack of infrastructure and the disease infested jungle would ruin their chance of a rapid advance.

America's military gaze is currently and firmly fixed on the Middle East, and for good reason, - here lies the major oil fields. I'm a cynical old scrote and do not believe that the US military intervention in the Middle East is primarily humanitarian in nature. However, the extension of Boko Haram's power into the oil fields of south Nigeria would almost certainly lead the West into another costly, vicious, and drawn out war. This is the ultimate price we pay for expensive oil.  

                                 Predictable, I know. But I couldn't help myself. Arse. 


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

George Formby: Turned out nice again, for the second time

Big headed, twat
As you will recall, George Formby was born in North Tipton on the 32nd of Julember, 1904. Born into a family of travelling vaudeville folk, his education was sketchy at best and he only managed to count to ten with the help of 'Archie the educated ferret'. Archie entertained and regaled voyeurs throughout the 1920s and 1930s with his astonishing ability to add, subtract and perform multiplication with a minuscule, tailor made, abacus which he secreted about his lithe slender body with characteristic aplomb. George was never a slouch when it came to secreting his ukulele which could often be found in the rancid folds of his capacious scrotum. I've digressed.

As forementioned in my previous post: 'Turned out nice again', big toothed George invented the George Formby grilling banjo. By the simple expedient of attaching a banjo to the gas main, and placing said article at an angle of 35 degrees, George was able to cash in on a hitherto blatant hole in the 'grilling market'. Thereafter he enjoyed great commercial success. However, happiness eluded/deluded him once again.

The grilling teapot, in repose

His second wife, Mabel, was a slovenly slattern of woman given to flamboyance  and ostentation. A woman renowned for spending his hard earned money on fripperies and assorted sundries and with a penchant for bestrewing her form with expensive apparel of dubious provenance. She goaded fulsome, toothsome, George into inventing bigger and better, lean mean, grilling machines in order that she could continue spending, anew. The grilling harp was less of a commercial success due to the likelihood of food slipping between the strings thereby alighting on the floor to be consumed by passing curs and drunks. This prompted George to branch out into instruments not inherently stringed in nature. The oboe and the clarinet where quickly discounted due to their peculiar resonance. Eventually, he settled on the kettle drum. This rather singular and particularly taut drum showed promise. But by now the market had become saturated by various vaudeville performers and washed up boxers hoping to cash in and emulate George's initial success. Alas, although the concept was sound, the spending public had become enamoured with the 'Grilling Teapot'. George could never encapsulate his antecedent success; recapitulation would never be his friend. Disgruntled with his failure, Mabel left George for an itinerant teapot salesman, aptly named, Mr Teapot Mugumbo. George was thrown in the deepest of despond. But just as his situation appeared terminal he endured an incredible stroke of luck......To be continued.    

Mr Teapot Mugumbo

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The planet of the Octopi/Octopuses/Octopodes

The shark, is spot one   

First off, we demand clarification: Octopuses or Octopi. Which is grammatically correct for a plurality of these fascinating cephalopods?  Well, apparently, both are equally valid. Strict grammarians would argue that we should use Octopodes, this would be in keeping with the Greek etymological derivation. But common usage and habit conquers all, therefore throughout I will use 'octopi' to denote more than one octopode. I digress.

It seems that octopuses are pretty smart for a creature without a backbone. In fact they are considered the smartest of all the invertebrates. Cephalopods are active predators, unlike their molluscy brethren, and predators, in general, tend to be smart, well at least smarter than their prey. Evolution dictates it so.
So how smart is an octopode? This is difficult territory bestrewn with poor definitions. It would be wrong to impose our notions of 'intelligence' on these multi-limbed creatures. Their brains have evolved in a radically different environment to ours, which makes it difficult to thrust our anthropomorphic concepts of intelligence upon octopi. Indeed, I suspect we would all fail miserably on an octopi designed intelligence test. Question 1: 'How many bloaters required to write the sonnets of Shakespeare, assuming access to a dry computer?'  The number 42 comes to mind, but I suspect I have failed the test.

Back in the 1950's  it was demonstrated that octopuses had relatively large brains in comparison to their body mass. It has been estimated that the octopus has half a billion neurones. Their brains are bigger than the brains of fish and amphibians putting them on par with mammals. Numerous experiments have demonstrated the smarts of this versatile creature. Not only do they exhibit feats of memory they also show 'playfulness' which is a sure sign of intelligence. Whenever did you hear of a  slug playing catch?

It has often been said that if Dolphins had evolved opposable thumbs they would rule the world (citation required). But consider the octopus. A creature endowed with opposable 'thumbs' in abundance, soapy tit wank. Perhaps the watery medium is to blame for the lack of cephalopod dominance. After all, tis difficult to get your computer to boot up in saline. When our evolutionary ancestors left the pond eons ago, they quickly exploited the new medium and radiated out into a myriad of terrestrial  life forms. Humans are the culmination of this evolutionary thrust, for now. But who can contradict, that in the future, some multi-limbed creature will clamber ashore, gasp a gasp, only to be eaten by the vertebrate, canis domesticus. Woof, bloody, woof.  Ain't dat the sad truth.      

I wonder how big his/her brain is?