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Noah and His Ark - a Global Flood Survival Story

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bible, christianity, flood, noah, science, skepticism

So I’m going to disect the story in the bible about the global flood. It’s been done before and by people better than me, and I’ll link to them at the end of this post.

Ark

I apologise if you’re atheist, because you’ll probably find this utterly boring and ridiculous, but you never know when you might come across someone who believes it!

This is something that I think is quite important. The reason being that anyone who is a bible literalist will believe that what is written down is an account of actual events. A lot of Christian religions’ official stance is that the flood story is factual. This provides us with an interesting situation wherein if the flood story is shown to be outrageous and impossible, then that opens the way to the rest of scripture to face that same scrutiny.

Once you realise that, it doesn’t take long for the rest of the pins to fall. Of course, it really is a futile effort because there’s always a magic get out clause…I’ll try and address it in a logical manner, but hey, you can’t fight against blind faith, no matter what.

From the beginning

This story starts really early in the bible, I mean, in the first book! The whole series of events are covered from Genesis 5:32 – 10:1. (I shall be quoting from the NIV bible, because hey, it’s as good as any other.)

Genesis 5:32 – AKA Old man Noah

32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Cool…WAIT…HOLD UP… 500 years old, 500 YEARS OLD??? Yes that’s right, humans were closer to the perfection of Adam and Eve (another story for another time) so they lived longer, and hey at 500 years old you’d expect your sperm to be nothing but dust particles, but not Noah, he was going strong!

Big Pimpin

What do we actually know about that time period? Well a 2007 research paper which includes analysis on skeletal remains shows us that the life expectancy of the Neolithic period (about 10,200-4,500/2,000 BC) was around 20 years of age. Life expectancy in the Bronze age (around 3000-1200 BC) was something like 30 years.

What seems more reasonable to you? A 500 year old pimp-daddy hunter gatherer, or maybe that the story is a bit of a fabrication?

Moving right along…

Genesis 6:1-8 – AKA Hot angel all-angle sex

1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

So hey, this is a bit of an aside, but God created his angels with sexual desire, his asexual (Matthew 22:30: “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven”) beings want to come and rape the hot women (or men, but sometimes you just want to offer your daugters up for some good old angel rape – Genesis 19:8). Anyway so yeah they turned into men and started banging heaps of chicks and because they were magical their kids were angry giants. Sounds a bit like the bible writers were projecting their bedroom fetishes into their writings.

Dat ass

Ohhh and this is where we learn why people now only live to be 120 years old instead of 500, I guess we should forget about the actual bone evidence now.

God was mad, the God of love was SO mad, in fact that he wanted to murder every single thing he had made, in cold blood, those children and animals had to pay, luckily for everyone on earth, God liked Noah and he’ll save them all…or will he?

Genesis 6:9-13 – AKA Slaughter those babies

9 This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

Uh-oh, it doesn’t look like all those babies will be spared after all, see ya little ones, kittens, puppies and joeys. You are all corrupt, every. single. one. of. you. What’s that? You haven’t even said your first words yet? I’ll murder you to spare you corruption! You haven’t taken your first step yet? Well don’t worry, I’ll kill you in case you become violent.

I guess Noah was the only one that could ever possibly be a good guy…out of the whole entire world…

Killem

Makes sense? Totally.

Genesis 6:14-16 – AKA An old old wooden ship

14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.

So make a 3 decker wooden boat about 137m long, 23m wide and 14m high, with a wind tunnel (air gap) about 45cm high under the top roof and one door on the side, cool.

One of the longest wooden ships ever known is the Vasa (47.5m), which is cool because I’ve been to the Vasa Museum in Sweden and seen it personally. It’s great! Anyway that’s still a huge amount short of the 137m ark…which is really unfeasable because without major steel or iron reinforcement, the wood flexes and leaks.

Hell even Johan’s “full size” recreation is made out of metal…I guess he couldn’t stick too closely to the biblical story.

Also, the Vasa sunk on it’s maiden voyage…oops.

Vasa by Peter Isotalo

Genesis 6:17-7:16 – AKA Lettuce in for 370 days

This is a long block:

17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

7 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

OK, God really is hell bent on destroying everything…Except for 2 of every kind of animal, or was it 7? Here’s where it gets even more interesting…

Firstly, this sounds quite familiar, there are flood stories from Sumeria (tablet dated 1600 BC) and Babylon (Epic of Gilgamesh tablet dated 700 BC), which predate the biblical one. The oldest copy of Genesis is from the dead sea scrolls, which dates from about 100-1 BC. There is a nice table for comparison found here.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s address The animals themselves.

OK so let’s assume for a moment you’re a believer, and then let’s assume you don’t believe in evolution, and also for the sake of continuity, let’s assume like Jehovah’s Witnesses you DO believe in microevolution (animal “kinds” can become other “types” of the same animal). Even then, the most conservative christian estimates assume a bare minimum of 2000 (x2 or x7) animals. That excludes a lot though, aquatic, amphibious, insects, and heaps more…but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt (really??)

We have about 9453 m2 of floor space to work with (that’s because there’s 3 levels remember?). That literally is only 2.3 acres. I grew up on a property with 2.5 acres…so I know how ridiculous the idea of 4000+ (remember that’s some crazy made up small number) to 1,300,000 creatures on there is. We had a horse, a dog, a cat, and I reckon we could have had a cow too if we wanted, also we had a few chickens.

Elephants are one of the biggest guys coming on to the ark, them, rhinos and hippos…they’re all going to need a LOT of space, the bare bare bare minimum per elephant is about 37m2 (that really is cruel, they will go crazy, the normal elephant home area is 640,000 acres, not 0.009 acres). Elephants eat from 100KG to 200KG of food, PER DAY. That means for 2 elephants, you would need to bring along 74,000-148,000 KG of food, JUST FOR THE ELEPHANTS. Just go give you a really quick idea, iceberg lettuce typically is about 22cm wide and tall and about 700g (I’m being generous here). So you’d need 105,714-211,428 head of lettuce, taking up 1125-2251 cubic metres (5116-10232 square meters) of space JUST FOR THE ELEPHANT FOOD! OMG.

That’s a lot of lettuce!

Lettuce Stadium

You really can see how insane that is…what about the amount of work for 8 people, looking after 2,000-1.3million animals? Cleaning their feces, keeping them free of lice, but not completely free of lice because some of the lice have to survive the journey.

What about the insects? why do they get ignored? They obviously need to survive, spiders, ants, bees, butterflies…most of them wouldn’t live long enought to survive the journey.

How about all those animals together? Do they each get a cage (made out of what, by the way? Every thing you add, makes this whole enterprise a lot heavier). All the predators will need to be fed prey, which means you’d have to violate God’s command, and bring extra to feed them. Lions tend to eat a lot, and they want fresh, bloody meat.

This could go on, and on, and on, and on, the logistics are completely impossible.

One kind of animal dies, and then boom, sorry God, that animal no longer exists…

Genesis 7:17-8:22 – AKA it stinks in here

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

8 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though[i] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Let’s think about this. Church of reality have kindly done the math which basically equates to 13cm of rain, per MINUTE for 40 days and 40 nights. WAT???? Even the biggest storms can’t even come close to that. There is no way that the ark could stand that kind of constant battering without splintering to pieces.

What about the geological effects? After that kind of pummeling the whole could look like a giant marble, all smooth and shiny, HA. This kind of rain would cause huge gushing surges of water everwhere, strong enough to move giant boulders and crush everything.

This would have completely destroyed the delicate ecosystems present in the sea and every river and lake, making it all a semi-salty mess of debris and dirt, you can kiss goodbye to every fish, crocodile, whale, crustacean, and marine plant, algae, etc. There is no way they would have survived.

What about plant life? Do all the trees, forests, bushes, grasses, survive being underwater for up to a year after being pelted with rain like they’ve never been and exposed to raging torrents of water, uprooting every one of them? Hardly.

Not to mention it’s going to take years and years and years (probably never, actually because of rain) for all those waters to go into the clouds and recede the amount they’d need to to have the sea level as it is now! If it was anywhere near the speed in the bible again, it would have huge, devestating geological consequences.

All of this would leave huge, steaming piles of evidence, so much evidence that you wouldn’t have to make things up, it would just be so damn obvious that not a single person could deny that it happened, we can tell so many things by looking at rock formations and layers and fossil placement and valleys and lakes and salt lakes, and none of it point to there ever having been a global flood.

I hope some of the animals survived the journey, and man must it have reeked in there after such a long time cooped up.

So let’s let the animals out, eat a few of them and sacrifice a few more, we have plenty to spare.

All the animals, in all the remote parts of the world, including ones that are completely isolated, and you can’t find ones like them anywhere else, just happened to go to the right places, all the weird Australian marsupials just decided to move to Australia together, I guess they made their own ark and crossed the long distances required to get to Australia…Kangaroos of Noah’s day were so much more clever.

journey

I’m getting tired, so I’ll finish right up…

Genesis 9:1-17 – AKA We don’t understand how light works

1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind. 7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

AHA, we are at the end of our journey, the animals worked it all out, they got where they needed to go and God promises never to kill everyone with a flood again (by flood, other means are OK though).

Let’s keep this simple, rainbows are a direct result of water reflecting and refracting through the rain droplets…you can see them also when you splash water, in waves and at waterfalls. (Do you remember making rainbows with the hose as a kid?? It’s that easy!) WRONG…God changed the way light works, so before that glorious moment, if you got a prism, the light dispersed out of it in shades of gray.

Before and After noah, light dispersion

And there you have it, if you’ve made it this far I really commend you, because I almost didn’t. There’s so much more I could have covered, and so much more detail I would have loved to have gone into, but this already turned out insanely long.

The story does have a happy ending, Noah’s grandsons and granddaughters had lots of incestuous sex (just think House Targaryen, but without dragons) and Noah himself lived to 950 years of age. WHAT A GUY!

no dragons

In summary, a flood happened, in fact they happen all the time, and sometimes they’re really bad, and if you don’t know of any / many other people and villages, it would seem like your whole world, and maybe the guy saved his dog and wife by creating a makeshift pontoon. The story was told to his kids and they told it to their friends in the new town and it got changed over and over…or maybe that specific event never happened and it was just a good re-creation myth and a good device to illustrate the power of god a, then god b, then god c, then the biblical god Yaweh.

See also:

Noah’s Ark Part 1:

Noah’s Ark Part 2:

Church of Awesome’s Flood episode

Caustic Soda Podcast’s Flood episode

Top 10 TV Shows That I’ve Probably Told You About 100 Times

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entertainment, pop culture, recreation, tv

A fun post because I’m too tired to go into anything meaty, and I thought I should update my blog once in a while…I have a few things to write about, and to continue my story but it will have to wait till another day.

I wont give them ratings, and I wont iterate that you should watch them if you haven’t, otherwise they wouldn’t be on this list. I’ve not really reviewed things before, which means I might not sell the show to you as well as I should, but just assume they’re better than I describe them. So without further ado, the list in all its glory:

10. Extras

Extras

Ricky Gervais is one of the masters of awkward comedy, and Extras is very well done. Each episode starring a different guest, including the likes of Daniel Radcliff (in which he manages to get a condom land in someone’s hair), Patrick Stewart and Samuel L Jackson. Even when landing his own comedy show Andy Millman (Gervais) just doesn’t seem to have things going well for him. His useless manager Darren (Stephen Merchant) is also hilarious in his role.

9. South Park

South Park

I’m not sure there’s anyone who hasn’t seen at least one episode of South Park, a lot of people can’t stand it, Andrea falls asleep when South Park comes on. Personally I love it. Matt and Trey have consistently created good content, leaving nothing sacred. It’s crude, it’s on point and I there hasn’t been many (if any) episodes that I haven’t had a good laugh at. One of the things I love about the show is how it comments on current events and pop culture and just takes it to the absurd.

8. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Perhaps you liked Seinfeld, I know I did, it’s one of my favourite shows even though it didn’t make the cut for the top 10. Regardless, Larry David clearly was the driving force behind the show. In Curb, he plays a likeable asshole, who you have to admit is right more than he is wrong, but he manages to piss everyone off with every move he makes. Sometimes you feel sorry for him, sometimes you hide behind a pillow while Larry goes and does something you know you’d love to in real life but don’t have the balls to.

7. Louie

Louie

Louie CK is a comedic genius. His show is based around his life, which he makes seem extremely mundane and boring, but yet his interactions with his friends, family and acquaintances are incredibly well done and always get a laugh. I think he balances the comedy with moments of feeling and tackles some more serious issues, then proceeds to piss on them. Also love the great stand up segments which may remind you of Seinfeld, though 1000x better.

6. Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks

Focused on the life of two siblings Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam (John Francis Daley) in high school. Freaks and Geeks is both funny and manages to address what it’s like trying to fit in and some of the issues you face growing up. I watched this only a few years ago and from the first episode was hooked. I’m not sure how I would have felt watching it as a teen considering I was in a totally different place. It was jus really enjoyable. Oh, and it’s only 1 season (18 episodes), so you’ll be left wanting more, but obviously the show never had the chance to get tired and played out.

5. Borgen

Borgen

OK, we are still in the process of watching this show, and hopefully it wont end up being really disappointing, but we’ve almost finished season 2 and it’s been excellent! This show revolves around Birgitte, a career politician who is very idealistic, and wants to bring about change in the Danish government. It’s an fascinating look into the life of a politician and the drama that surrounds even the minutiae of a public figure’s personal life. There are moments of intense atmosphere that builds and builds, and the acting is superb.

4. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

Well, no doubt you’ve heard about this show, and most likely watched it. If you’ve been putting it off, then now’s the time to start. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a school teacher who finds out some bad news and decides the best way to spend the rest of his days is to make a buttload of cash making meth. Of course, it’s not that simple, and the show has some explosive moments. I’d say it’s a lot more drama than action, which is fine. The show is just so well done, from the acting, to the cinematography (which to me seems like they have thought out every detail of every shot) and the dialogue. There are scenes when no words are said but the atmosphere is ripe and leaves you squeezing your chair.

3. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Well, there’s not much more you can ask for in a series, there’s action, there’s intrigue, there’s murder, there are fantastic creatures and there’s naked people…yep it’s all covered. I hadn’t read the books before I started watching the show, and the first season came as a bit of a shock to me. I’ve since read all bar the last half of the latest book. Honestly the show is way better than the books. George R R Martin is a bit hit and miss with his descriptions seemingly happy to spend 84 pages describing the bark of a tree whereas the show basically cuts a lot of the cruft away and manages to be extremely entertaining and leaves you wanting more, but not in the shitty Lost way where nothing happens, but in a really good way where you enjoy it and you know you’ll enjoy the next one, even if the events in the show weren’t what you would like to happen.

2. Forbrydelsen

Forbrydelsen

Surprise surprise, another Danish show on the list. Well it just so happens that Forbrydelsen is about as perfect as any show can get. It’s a police murder mystery type show with only 3 seasons, and each season being a different case. Sara Lund (Sofie Gråbøl) is a police officer who is really great at what she does, she loves it so much she lets her personal life slide. As you watch, at times you’re both in admiration and completely frustrated with her. Sofie is an amazing actress. The story is brilliant, and even if you can work out who the baddies are (like Andrea did hah) you will want to watch it. The Danes shure know how to make some good TV.

1. House of Cards (2013)

House of Cards

This show absolutely smashed it’s way to the top of my list, it’s just that good. Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is a ruthless (psychopathic) politician who is social engineering his way to the top. The dialogue is classy, the SE techniques he uses are spot on, and the entire cast do a great job in their roles. His wife Claire (Robin Wright) is just as devious as Frank is and watching the details of their relationship become revealed is intriguing. It’s a reflection on the current state of politics and how little faith people have in politicians. If Borgen shows an idealistic view of democracy, House of Cards is the take from the seedy underbelly. It is fucking awesome!

Honorable Mentions

  • House
  • Sarah Silverman Show
  • Spaced
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

And that’s it, hope you enjoyed my list!

My Story - Part 1

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life, personal

thought that now might be as good a time as any to write about about my life. As you can see, it’s on my blog, it’s not going to be a bestseller and I’m doing it for me. If it so happens that you enjoy reading it, all the better!

Be warned: as far as I know there is no murder or CSI style investigations. Because I’m not drafting, editing and proofing this, it might not be as coherent or polished as it should be. Some parts will be too light on detail, and others too heavy.

Part one is going to end when I’ve written as much as I feel like tonight.

 Pre history

I was born in Penrith, a medium size city to the west of Sydney. My dad is an electrician, he has always worked hard and is most happy when he has a million things to do. My mum is a school teacher, she was born in Finland and came over when she was young. My parents went to the same school together.

My parents had travelled a lot around Australia, and in the case of my dad, the world. He spent about a year backpacking all over the place. I don’t remember with certainty but it included Europe and India at least.

They tell me that they weren’t particularly religious before the Jehovah’s Witnesses came knocking at their door, and were seemingly skeptical about what the JWs were offering. I’m not sure if they were called on at a vulnerable point in their lives, but for whatever reason, they started a bible study[*][#fn0001] with the witnesses.

Dad and mum were married on a paddle steamer on the Nepean River. It was a small affair with only close friends and family in attendance.

The first place I lived in was a 3 bedroom house in the foot of the blue mountains. I have fond memories of this place. It had a decent sized yard, a pool and a sauna (which is probably my most loved thing about the place – my dad built a sauna in the places we lived for my mum. It’s very Finnish.) My grandmother (mummu) lived there too, but she had a granny flat above the garage which allowed her to be independent.

There are lots of photos of holidays I went on, long before I can remember, I have a few flashes here and there, but not many. I know we went yearly down to camp by the beach in southern New South Wales, we made fires, caught fish, swam and were surrounded by wildlife.

I don’t remember my sister being born two years after me, as far as I remember she’s always been there.

First memories – school

Actually, my memory from my whole youth is piecemeal and hopefully writing this dawn might help recall more. There are things I do remember though, like making a volcano with food dye, vinegar and baking soda, and before that a memory of burning my ass on a fireplace. I had to go to hospital for it, I don’t remember that part, but I do remember the reason I was naked in front of the fireplace was because I’d just bathed, and I wanted to get warm and dry, in doing so I guess I got a little closer than what you might call a safe distance. Lesson learned, I never did that again.

I remember my a few things from my first year and a bit of school. Once I got detention for kicking my shoes over the fence accidentally in a game my friends and I thought was hilarious. The game was such: loosen the lace on your shoe and lift the tongue up. Kick your leg forward as vigorously as possible, and see how far your shoe goes. Collect shoe. Repeat. Of course it was great fun up until the point where the shoe went soaring over the fence, and after being told off, we had to sheepishly knock on the neighbour’s door and ask for the safe return of said footwear. Luckily (living next to a school) they were probably used to articles of clothing landing in their yard and helpfully returned my shoe. If I remember rightly, these shoes had a pump in the tongue which inflated it when pressed, they seemed to make me happy,

I had a little crew of friends that used to play soccer and roam the schoolyard together, I don’t remember much of our conversations but they probably revolved around lunch, who’s dad is better, and who we did and didn’t like in class. I remember one classmate called Sarah with whom I was smitten and she would be the one I’d always go after in “Kiss and catch.” Of course in a dancing lesson i remember, I hoped that I would be paired with her – instead, as there were more boys in my class, I got stuck with a redhead kid called Corey who had warts on his hands and wasn’t thought of fondly by my gang.

At some point I wanted / was encouraged to learn an instrument, so I decided on the piano. Little did I know how seriously my parents would take this, forcing me to practice an hour a day and take exams and perform in eisteddfods and talent shows. Eeek, held to a decision you made when you’re 4 or 5 for the next 8 years is pretty hardcore. (It was made far less fun for me because the music is chosen for you when you take the AMEB exams, usually classical music which my 4-27 year old self had/has very little interest in.)

There’s not much else that stands out from there except I was bored in class, and the teachers had me sit a test and because I did so well they decided I should skip a year, and I think there was some “gifted and talented” class in there somewhere too. I think that was a mistake because I missed out on some fundamental education that meant I had to play catchup, and I suppose that’s what lead to my incessant complaining of school. I asked my mum to teach me at home because she’s a teacher – and she did.

So my school years ended abruptly and my new life at home began.

That’s it for today and I guess I’ll continue from where I left off here at some point.

* In JW terms “bible study” does not in fact mean studying the bible, but means studying one of their publications.

Coming to Terms

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life, personal

The path that was

Oh I never had very high expectations of what would become of my life. I was taught from the moment I can remember that this life was just a transient state, “Don’t invest too much in this life, prepare for the one to come!” or “‘The Truth’ [JW speak for the JW religion] isn’t a religion, it’s a way of life.” or “Satan roves about like a roaring lion waiting to devour…” Constant quotes, pithy phrases and one-liners were thrown at me. Most of them with the outward intention of bolstering my faith but always with a more sinister message of spending even more time focusing on religion and sparing no time for other activities.

I’ll probably go into a lot more detail on my upbringing in a future post, but for now the focus is on my current state of mind.

From when I was very young I had a love of science and technology. I got to read a lot but always through the blind eyes of faith. I read in awe books about our amazing planet and life on it, yet managed to ignore any reference to evolution (and anything else that went against my “truth”) and in doing so feel proud of myself that I had the right answer, all the scientists were wrong. They were just too smart to see the simplistic beauty that was a divine creator, if only they would pick up their bibles. Ugh, I sucked.

It took an exceptionally long time to clear out everything that had been forced into my mind from years of spoon fed, watered down misinformation – I had to start from zero. A humbling experience, finding out that almost every single thing you thought you knew and believed to the core was wrong. I had to question everything, I researched minute detail, I read lots (and will continue to do so) on science and critical thinking.

Between those two stages, I was left seemingly without purpose. I didn’t mind though, I adopted a somewhat hedonistic approach to life, self destructive perhaps. I worked, I did my part, but amidst that was a bunch of excesses that weren’t easy to curb.

Somewhere around that time I met my amazing wife and we were soon smitten with each other, luckily for us we even out each other’s extremes in just the right way. Her presence, constant support, intelligence and enthusiasm kept me learning new things and examining the status quo.

The now

Thanks in a exceptionally large part to her, I am where I am today. In a happy relationship with 2 beautiful kids, living in a nice area of a great city with a good job. Many people would be envious, some scornful, though I never thought I based my decisions on what would bring me the most accolade from others. By many measures of life, and despite my upbringing I have achieved success, and yet it doesn’t feel like it.

Andrea and I talked about this and she asked what it would take to bring about that feeling. I honestly do not know. It’s not about not being content with what I have – I am, very much so. I appreciate how well things are for me I love nearly every aspect of my life. Partly it stems from a desire to leave a lasting contribution, something that matters, maybe something that would make up for all my wasted time and even poisonous input into society. (You probably didn’t think twice about it, but sorry if I ever knocked on your door and tried to scare you into thinking that the world is horrible and you need saving.)

The result of this melancholic state was that (with some nudging) I have done some thinking and written this blog post almost as a fluid thought process. Andrea pointed out that I have more time now to pursue my interests, I no longer have the option of squandering my time on activities that I used to like going out several nights every week. Basically the hours between 19:00-22:00 are mine, I’m not going to make the best use of every minute, and my wife and kids will always come first, but I can force myself to make at least some nights count!

The path that may be

So what can I contribute? What am I passionate about? I have no idea, really, so as a beginning I’ve compiled a list of things that I want to do. This is not a new year’s resolution, it’s not a to do or a bucket list. It’s just a vague list, but I will do some of these things, some I’ve even started. Others could turn into goals – both long and short term. Some things may be added and others struck off. It is a start, a first step in the right direction, a slight narrowing of a broad cacophony of sentiments and ideas.

  • Write, AND FINISH a song
  • Sing that song or another one to Andrea
  • Write a story (length and genre not specified) and submit it somewhere
  • Write an (mobile or desktop) application
  • Own a successful business (in what? define success?)
  • Learn another programming language
  • Speak Spanish at home
  • Learn a third spoken language
  • Plan more
  • Write more in this blog
  • Live in another country
  • Buy a house
  • Grow a nice edible garden
  • Read more
  • Go to university (not just work at one. hah)
  • Help educate people (specifically in critical thinking)
  • Fight misinformation
  • Attend a conference (TED maybe?)
  • …?

That’s it for now. I will keep track of new things I think of or other things I remember and add them here.

Just getting to this point has been a good thing, and setting some long term goals, defining them and keeping them in mind requires an attitude shift and lots of thought. I have a bad track record when it comes to that, but then again, I know nothing…but I’m willing to learn!

Sick of It All

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culture, life, science, skepticism

So, I originally started this post planning to cover various topics, but I think I’ll tackle them one at a time…there’s too much to cover and some research involved.

I’ve just got so upset with the amount of bad content that I see constantly posted and reposted on Facebook or elsewhere, it’s frustrating, it’s saddening, and it shows a general lack of interest in thinking. It doesn’t take long to visit a few websites such as snopes, RationalWiki or The Skeptic’s Dictionary. Really, it just takes a few moments of your time and you might be blown away by the things you find.

It took me such a long time to come around to thinking critically, but when I did, it was exciting, it was as if I got a new start in life. It was invigorating, it was tough and it has been totally worth it. Ignorance is not an excuse, ignorance is not bliss.

For the most part of my life so far, I went along thinking that I had to be told what to believe, and took things at face value, but now I’ve lerned to do my own research and adjust my thinking if I’m wrong. It’s made me a better person, though perhaps more vitriolic than before – that’s a side effect of seeing people you care about sucked into believing ridiculous things.

Two things which are worth constantly remembering are:

Older X is better

Normally in one of the following forms:

  • [Insert appliance/thing here] were made so much better before
  • Life was so much better X years ago
  • New technology X is ruining our lives / making us less social

I want to briefly address them one by one:

Quality of construction

This is easy, and something my wife and I have discussed several times. The appliance manufacturers do not put in time bombs into your dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, PC, mobile phone or printer so they die just out of warranty…but there are several important points to be made:

Things are a lot cheaper now. for example a brand new washing machine in 1970 would cost you around US $130, but your yearly (median household) income was around US $7600. Now you can find a washing machine for about US $400 or less – but the 2012 median income is about about US $50,000. That means an average household can now buy over 2 washing machines per year for every 1 they could back in 1970! (0.8% of yearly income vs 1.71%).

Grandpa knew how to fix the washing machine. It DID break down, but it was fixed at home. Some people can still do that, others can’t.

Confirmation bias & anecdote reign supreme. the articles / blogs I found saying “modern” things are worse were written without evidence, and were along the lines of “my washing machine broke down after 10 years, I bought a new one and it died after 2.” That’s not evidence, at least not by itself…Do you know the manufacturer return rates then vs now? What about giving a product time to see how long it lasts, a 2 year old product logically can’t have anyone using it for 10 years! Besides, this isn’t necessarily the truth. Modern appliances function better and are more efficient, saving you money in more ways than one.

The good ol’ days

Anyone who knows me has probably heard me rant about this more than once…

I won’t go into great detail but.

Violent crime is down see the following image of violent crime by gender per 1000 people: (via wikipedia) Wikipedia Image showing violent crime per 1000

Life expectancy is up! If you were lucky enough to be born in the 1850s you would have a lovely life expectancy of 38.3* years. If you were born in 2004, that age now becomes 75.7! Going further back in time than 1850, things are just as grim.

Kids these days / AKA the good ol’ days part 2

Something oft repeated…“this generation is worse.” “Technology is driving us apart.”

As always. There’s a relevant XKCD which nicely illustrates how people have been saying the same things for a long time!

Here’s an excerpt from a 1908 essay on ancient Greek Schools entitled “Schools of Hella – An Essay On The Practice And Theory Of Ancient Greek Education From 600 To 300 BC” by Kenneth J. Freeman.

The counts of indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise.

Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room ; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at the table, and committed various offences against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs.

Kids these days are getting out of control.

People are afraid of change, time after time we see the same issues come up as long as you can go back. I hate it now that horses are domesticated, people are leaving their villages and families and it’s tearing society apart!

Anyone who does X is stupid

While there are many exceptions to this, the attitude of putting people into baskets is so detrimental. It means before you even get a chance to understand their reasoning, you’ve already judged them and even if you are wrong, you still experience confirmation bias.

Example: All goth kids are depressed.

  • JP: Hi Goth Kid
  • GK: Hi Judgmental Person
  • JP: How’s it going?
  • GK: good thanks, it’s a great day today but I’m not looking forward to going to work tomorrow
  • JP: I knew it, you have such a bleary outlook on life
  • GK: Oh, so you’re looking forward to work then?
  • JP: No, but…

Next time you tell a story think, why are you mentioning the race of the person or their sexual orientation as part of the story (unless it’s strictly relevant). I don’t often hear stories about this Australian driver (unless you’re overseas and then you can hear the Aussie jokes…), or this straight guy. You’re leading the listener on with loaded language and reinforcing stereotypes, even if it’s unintentional.

Conclusion

This turned out longer than I expected, but there is so much material to cover and I feel like I haven’t done it justice. I would love to discuss this more and I have some ideas for the content of my next post.

Just think!

My Last Blog

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Hello, Tech

After many server switches, changes of countries, tecnology updates and data loss, I believe I’ve found a permanent solution thanks to GitHub Pages and Octopress so here I go again…

Welcome to the last blog I will need. Watch this space!