David Stevens

Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

Dream not the impossible dream

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2017 at 8:40 pm

News of the bus misadventure in the Canutes caused me to reflect on an incident from my school days.

Those of a certain age will remember the tightening of the curriculum, when a scientific fine tooth comb was drawn through the hippy length hair of what in those days passed for the imparting of knowledge to the young.  How bracing we found the shock of the new, when the wool was pulled from over our eyes and we saw not through a glass darkly for the first time.  I remember our science teacher, nervous, looking around, perhaps unsure of how we would react to the “New Learning”.  Then he opened his mouth:

“Children.  Here is something interesting that I have to … need to tell you about.  Did you know that flight is impossible?”

How intrigued I was.  I recall the brand new text books that were handed around that day.  I had never had a new text book before, unsullied by the eye prints of ancient children.  One quote has stuck in my mind.

“Flight is not possible, and never has been possible.  It is a scientific fact, that despite the widespread availability of extension ladders, no part of the fossil record has ever been found in the air.”

That clinched it for me.  Magical thinking dropped away.  Years of superstitious nonsense gone.  Evolution proved it.

“But sir” piped up one familiar voice, and even in those days, the teacher dared not ignore it.

“Yes Trevor?”

“Sir, I dream of flying.”

The teacher was flustered, and he looked around more, sweating.  “But that…”

“Sir, I dream of flying.  I’m up in the air, looking down on all creation.  Without a care, I stretch my arms and just fly over everything.  It feels wonderful.”

“I’m sure it does.”

“But its not true, is it sir?”

The teacher was silent.

“Dreams are stupid, aren’t they sir.  We dream all sorts of ridiculous things, don’t we.”

“Yes that’s right Trevor.  Flight is not possible.  We dream all sorts of nonsense.”

“So sir, when you say all the time that we can achieve whatever we want, and that we should follow our dreams, you’re full of shit, aren’t you sir.”

“Yes Trevor.”

I like to remember that day, on nights when I hear the screeching low over head, when there is the illusion of scrabbling at my roof tiles, when something unseen triggers the alarms in my fortified compound.  It comforts me to know that the desperate screeching above, the whooping, the unearthly howls, are all an illusion, for flight is simply impossible.  It pushes thoughts of military experiments gone awry from my mind, so that images of crazed scientists splitting open the space-time continuum are restricted to my dreams.  Which, as we now all know, are full of shit.

Then tonight on the news, the story of the dreadful bus crash in the Canute Peaks, and the loss of 30 or so scientists as their bus plummeted into the unplumbable depths of the Siegfired Chasm, as they were trying to achieve the State of Bliss.  They were crazy themselves, of course.  They had been at a conference where they had been discussing whether the lack of fossils in the air was not because flight was impossible, but because over time, the ground has risen and absorbed the aerial fossil record.  Some things just should not be discussed.

I like to think that some of them survived the horrible, horrible fall, and that they will eke out an existence in those depths, surviving on the flesh of their comrades who died on the way down, but of course, I am an incurable romantic.

My sort of advertisement …

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Featuring … Darwinian nightmares from David Stevens“. Who could ask for more?

Let them eat balloons!

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2013 at 3:09 am

Here at The Stevens Institute (charitable status pending, we shall be seeking your donations shortly), we seek to ethicise omnivorism (and invent new words to patent). We are trying folks, we really are. We have put all of this week’s grant money into considering balloon animals.

Some of you may be scoffing, as you associate these creatures with parlour games and carnivals. I am not talking about simple domesticated balloon animals. I am talking about great sweeping herds of massive fortean creatures, blocking the sun on their nomadic trek as passenger pigeons once did sweeping across America. Magnificent helium or methane filled beasts, nodding and swaying as they are blown by the currents of wind, just as giant jelly fish are swept across oceans. Picture them now in your mind, see them billowing and filling the sky. Tremendous storms of them. The wondrous sight of them as they rail against the elements, indeed as they rail against their own ridiculous existence. Observe them as over time they are pitted by hail, scarred by lightning, scratched by talons of raptors. And the wonder of them is that their pseudo life is no life at all, it is a mere impersonation. Brave balloon bound hunters shall pursue them without ethical quandary, intrepid mountaineers shall stalk them to their winter homes, small children and we here at the Institute shall wonder at them.

O! If only we could get some nutrition into their skins! Some flavour into the rubber. Some texture into their form. And find some way to stop sea turtles from choking on them in their thousands when they critters deflate and drop into the sea. Perhaps it is impossible. But is not the dream as important as any mere actuality? At least this dream can unite us all, omnivores, carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, lacto-vegetarians, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, pescetarians, pollotarians, and pollo-pescetarians, the dream of the hunt of the giant pseudo-beasts in the sky that can sustain us all without troubling our consciences.

Until then, at least we have salad.

[“Life’s Solution” by Simon Conway Morris, p112 ‘Fortean bladders’]

To dream the impossible etc

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2013 at 11:10 am

News of the bus misadventure high in the Canutes caused me to reflect on an incident from my school days.

Those of a certain age will remember the tightening of the local school curriculum, when a scientific fine tooth comb was drawn through the hippy length hair of what in those days passed for the imparting of knowledge to the young. How bracing we found the shock of the new, when the wool was pulled from over our eyes and we saw not through a glass darkly for the first time. I remember our science teacher, nervous, looking around, perhaps unsure of how we would react to the “New Learning”. Then he opened his mouth:

“Children. Here is something interesting that I have to … need to tell you about. Did you know that flight is impossible?”

How intrigued I was. I recall the brand new text books that were handed around that day. I had never had a new text book before, unsullied by the eye prints of ancient children. One quote has stuck in my mind:

“Flight is not possible, and never has been possible. It is a scientific fact, that despite the widespread availability of extension ladders, no part of the fossil record has ever been found in the air.”

That clinched it for me. Magical thinking dropped away. Years of superstitious nonsense gone. Evolution proved it.

“But sir,” piped up a familiar voice.

“Yes?”

“Sir, I dream of flying.”

The teacher was flustered, and he looked around more, sweating. ”But that…”

“Sir, I dream of flying. I’m up in the air, looking down on all creation. Without a care, I stretch my arms and just fly over everything. It feels wonderful.”

“I’m sure it does.”

“But its not true, is it sir?”

The teacher was silent.

“Dreams are stupid, aren’t they sir. We dream all sorts of ridiculous things, don’t we.”

“Yes that’s right. Flight is not possible. We dream all sorts of nonsense.”

“So sir, when you say all the time that we can achieve whatever we want, and that we should follow our dreams, you’re full of shit, aren’t you sir.”

“Yes. I am.”

I like to remember that day, on nights when I hear the screeching low over head, when there is the illusion of scrabbling at my roof tiles, when something unseen triggers the alarms in my fortified compound. It comforts me to know that the desperate screeching above, the whooping, the unearthly howls, are all an illusion, for flight is simply impossible. It pushes thoughts of military experiments gone awry from my mind, so that images of crazed scientists splitting open the space-time continuum are restricted to my dreams. Which, as we now all know, are full of shit.

Then tonight on the news, the story of the dreadful bus crash in the Canute Peaks, and the loss of 30 or so scientists as their bus plummeted into the unplumbable depths of the Siegfried Chasm. They were crazy, of course. They had been at a conference where they had been discussing whether the lack of fossils in the air was not because flight was impossible, but because over time, the ground has risen and absorbed the aerial fossil record. Some things should not be discussed.

I like to think that some of them survived the horrible, horrible fall, and that they will eke out an existence in those depths, surviving on the flesh of their comrades who died on the way down, but of course, I am an incurable romantic.