Sunday, 24 April 2011

News Roundup: Easter Special (Satirical)

Here is a roundup of some spoof news stories that I wrote for my own amusement, then realised I have nowhere to put them. So here they are. Some are scientific in nature, some are not. Either way, Happy Easter!

Clashes over changes to meaningless voting system

Britain's most influential people (judges of prime time talent contests), risk coming to blows over severely divided opinions in the ongoing debate over potential changes to the reality TV contest voting systems.

Orange Billionaire Simon Cowell, former judge of the most popular talent contest 'Shit Factor' and the man responsible for Westlife, Robson and Jermome and the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami among other global catastrophes, wants to see an overhaul of the current voting system, stating that it still allows people too much choice regarding which desperate prole wins the chance to be famous for almost an entire month.

"Although we've done our best to prevent it, the current voting system still can't rule out people voting based on talent or some form of primitive empathy for a sob story, and this undermines the reality contest ethos. Taken to its logical conclusion, it could mean the UK could be subjected to some random biped with musical ideas far above their station, or, God forbid, an ugly person. People could be exposed to this undesirable person via saturated blanket media coverage for the two full weeks before the next contest starts, and that would never do".

However, his proposals to change the current system to one where contestants are voted for based on 'fairer' but more restricted criteria such as racial purity and obedience to the Cowell empire, are strongly opposed by the celebrity judges of the other high-profile talent contest 'Britain's got Terminal Illness'. BGTI judge and primitive animatronic mannequin Amanda Holden strongly opposes any changes to the current system.

"People should vote based on who they like, and that's all there is to it. If we focussed on looks and everyone sounding the same, what good would that be? Susan Boyle would never have become famous, for a start, and how horrible would that have been? If we keep the current system, we could end up with a country covered in Boyles, and then everyone's happy". However, Amanda Holden's judgement has been called into question by opponents in the voting-system debate, citing the evidence that she has had sex with both Neil Morrissey and Les Dennis. Fellow judge Michael McIntyre is also believed to favour sticking with the current voting system, but has not made an official statement on the matter, answering any question asked with an extended 20 minute routine about the various amusing aspects of casting a vote, delivered via high-pitched noises and skipping. Judge David Hasselhoff was unable to comment on the issues of voting and fairness as he is a wealthy American, an as such is unfamiliar with the concepts.

A recent survey revealed that most people are unhappy with the current reality contest voting system, but the majority would prefer to adopt a more efficient system, such as a 10 mile assault gruelling course to decide who wins each round. When asked about disputes between judges, 68% of people would prefer them to be resolved via 'gladiatorial death matches'.

Harry McAllister, a labourer from Stevenage, sais 'I've got an assault rifle and a dozen Molotov cocktails all lined up, how about we vote on whether or not I storm the studios and end it all for good?'

Commercial sector anger at efforts to Christianise Easter

The Easter holiday period was potentially soured by recent condemnation by the commercial sector of what they described as 'a cynical and manipulative attempt by the Christian community to introduce Christian views and religious implications to a glorious celebration of buying pointless egg-themed things'.

A traditional celebration of the arrival of spring, the changing of the seasons and increased fertility among livestock and other non-domesticated herbivores, Easter is the most lucrative time of year for many in the commercial sector, particularly business based on the selling of alcohol, novelty chicks and egg and/or rabbit shaped chocolate things. However, many believe that recent years have seen an alarming increase in efforts by the Christian community to introduce a more religious and sombre tone to the holiday period.

Jeffrey Salmon, an executive director of chocolate manufacturers 'Cadbury's', condemned the efforts to make Easter a religious celebration. "I think it's a deeply cynical and self-serving move on behalf of the church-going community to make the British public feel bad during the holiday period. All people should have the right to spend obscene amounts of money shortening their lifespan via self-induced obesity and diabetes, without feeling judged by some omnipresent no-nonsense deity or an old pervert in a jewelled dress."

Mark Llewellyn, a vice-president at Brain's Brewery, also expressed serious concerns over increasing religious interference with Easter. "I'm not being funny, but the 4 day weekend is a serious money-making period for the booze-peddling industry, especially when the weather is as good as it has been. We've still got a load of financial crises going on, and the last thing my industry needs is people not going out on Saturday night because they don't want to be hung over and miss the opportunity to sit in a cold building and hear how they're going to burn forever in hell the next morning".

However, religious leaders have denied the accusations that they are behaving underhandedly or unfairly, stating that Easter has always been a Christian festival, ever since it was essentially stolen from the Pagans. The Reverend Archie Dean defended the Church's actions "The commercial sector has been corrupting and perverting the message of Easter for far too long, and it's time something was done about it. This obsession with confectionary, eggs and rabbits is not just spiritually meaningless, it is often downright sinister. We urge everyone to put aside the childish and ridiculous notions of an Easter bunny, and return to worshipping the resurrection from the dead of a 200 year-old demi-god whose mother was a virgin".

Other groups who oppose the commercial sector's attempts to stop Christians making Easter more religious are those that make up the right-wing media, who find the whole thing highly profitable all year round.

Kate Middleton will refuse to adhere to traditional consummation ceremony

Star of countless commemorative souvenirs and fiancée Prince William, Kate Middleton has caused anger and outrage among traditionalists and royalists by declaring that she will not be engaging in the standard consummation ceremony of her marriage to the future king. Sources close to Middleton state that although she fully intends to be a dutiful and loyal wife to her husband, she is a young, modern woman and doesn't see the need to engage in a centuries old consummation ritual which has no place in contemporary society.

Traditionally, the consummation ceremony takes place after the wedding reception once all other guests have left, and involves a few minutes of grunting and sweating before one or both of the newlyweds falls into an alcohol-facilitated slumber. Dr Mary McAllister, a historian at Strathclyde University and an expert in the traditional consummation ceremony, explains that there is much variation in the ceremony, depending on the culture and background of those involved.

"Typically, it is a relaxed, almost melancholy affair, a sexual coupling that has more to do with a sense of obligation rather than arousal or excitation. After the removal of the wedding dress, which is itself a long and complex operation, there usually follows a brief, 3 minute period of coupling, typically in the missionary position, or possibly doggy style, or maybe even with the woman on top, although as this occurs after an extended drinking session this technique usually causes delays as it results in unwarranted pressure on the male bladder. Some men try to prolong the experience by drinking less, or banging out a quick one with one of the more desperate bridesmaids in the toilets during the reception, but these are only minor variations on what is essentially a centuries-old tradition".

Kate Middleton has reportedly stated that she will not be putting up with such an archaic, one-sided tradition, and expects 'some decent foreplay' from her husband, possibly with the inclusion of appliances or some sort of synthetic slippery substance to increase mobility and reduce friction of various areas.

Dr McAllister says she supports Miss Middleton's stance, but advises caution when bucking tradition. "I agree that she should expect some consideration from the man she's just promised to spend her life with, but I think her expectations may be misjudged. Given his upper class, private school and military background, she may find that Prince William has a very unusual attitude to sex. She should be prepared to be taken roughly, asked to insert things into his 'area', and mistakenly be referred to as one of his school or barrack 'buddies' during the act. Possibly 'Bingo' or 'Skipper'. And to be completely honest, if she is one of those people who has no time for tradition and rituals, marrying a future monarch is possibly the worst mistake she'll ever make."

"Alzheimer's disease is definitely not contagious", claims… some guy. He had a white coat. I think…

A leading scientist has dismissed claims that the severe progressive memory disorder Alzheimer's disease is actually communicable and worryingly contagious. The scientist in question has been studying people with Alzheimer's disease for many years, and dismisses all claims that the disease is caused by some form of communicable pathogen. He intended to produce results which support his claim, but neglected to bring them to the press conference.

The scientist, who was unable to tell us his name despite several efforts to do so, claims that any suggestion that Alzheimer's disease can be spread from person to person is laughable. "I've been studying people with Alzheimer's for many years" he told journalists, repeatedly. "I can safely say with 100% certainty that I can safely say with 100% certainty that there is no danger of catching Parkinson's disease from a dead pigeon. What? Alzheimer's? What about it?" The scientist then spent at least 15 minutes searching for his research papers supporting his conclusions. During this time he attempted to fill in the already-completed crossword in a nearby newspaper on 3 occasions, asked 6 of the assembled journalists what time the bus was arriving, and pulled a remote control from his back pocket and declared he'd 'been looking for that!'. He then attempted to use it to call his wife, who did not answer.

Suggestions that the blood-clotting disorder Alzheimer's disease is spreading rapidly have thus far been unsubstantiated by scientific evidence. Any suggestion that a memory disorder can pass from person to person will be revealed at the end of Chris Nolan's summer blockbuster 'Infection', where Leonardo Dicaprio fights his arch nemesis, the Joker. Further updates on the Royal Wedding between Prince Charles and Kate Thornton will be revealed as they occur.

Sharon, can you write this up and send it to His Nibs the editor please? It's not ideal, but you know what that fat bastard is like when he doesn't get his deadlines met LOL ;) kthnxbai D

Bananas - Eggs - Flour - Red onions - Haemorrhoid cream - Trifle - Peppers - Tin foil - …what's that stuff? The stuff with the red dust on top? It's like a curry powder but it's not as spicy?

Scientists: "No, you CAN'T have a pissing jetpack, so stop asking!"

Individual Jet Pack Clip Art

Leading figures in the science and engineering fields have admitted that not only have they not invented the jetpack yet, they have no intention of trying. The jet pack, sometimes known as the rocket pack, is a theoretical mode of transport which consists of an apparatus mounted on a person's back like a rucksack which features rockets powerful enough to allow a typical human to take off, but precise and balanced enough to allow said person to control their speed, descent and orientation in a manner which would allow sustained and controlled flying without the need of an aircraft or other encompassing vehicle. But now scientists and engineers have issued a statement saying that such a device would be 'ridiculously dangerous'.

Leading aeronautics engineer Rhys Phillipson has extensively pointed out how ludicrous the whole idea is, and is apparently sick of doing so. "Look, you're expecting a device which emits rocket exhaust powerful enough to propel you into the sky at high speeds, but is also light enough to be carried by a typical person, who is probably unfit and overweight seeing as they're the sort of person who'd want a sodding jetpack so they don't have to do all that strenuous walking. Even if we were capable of such a staggering feat of engineering, you wouldn't want rockets of that magnitude occurring within 30 metres of you, let alone right next to your feeble little legs. That's assuming you'd object to being reduced to a torso with a crispy base, of course.'

Stanley Washington, an employee at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, elaborated further on the impractical nature of jetpacks. "People seem to be annoyed by the fact that we haven't perfected these obvious death traps yet, despite the fact that it definitely is rocket science, which most people acknowledge is extremely tricky. There's the whole 'burning off your lower limbs' issue, which would necessitate some sort of metre-thick Teflon trousers. Still think you'd look cool with a jetpack while wearing those? No, didn't think so. Most other 'cool' forms of transport are things like skateboards and roller-blades, and have you seen the people who use those things? I wouldn't trust them with a used rubber glove, let alone packs full of volatile fluid and capable of 4,000 degree flames".

In response to continuous criticism from people expecting jetpacks, Scientists and Engineers issued this statement. "Tell you what, you guys stop causing carnage and getting ill on your own, then we'll get you a jetpack. Deal?"

Email: Humourology (at)

Twitter: @garwboy

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Once again, homophobia has ruined someone's night and made it into the news. This seemingly keeps happening, and it invariably leads to the tired debate about lifestyle choice/religious views/political correctness and all that. It's ridiculous but inevitable, like Boris Johnsons rise to power. But why is it so common? In my experience, you do have to be careful about talking about homosexuality in a public forum, no matter what the context. The majority of people I've encountered aren't homophobic, and perhaps more importantly, seemingly even more people don't want to be thought of as homophobic, even if they probably are. This leads to some strange outcomes.

You know how people say 'I've got lots of gay friends!' after saying something blatantly homophobic? I don't do that. It's another variation of the classic get-out-of-jail-free card when expressing derogatory or unacceptable views about groups of people that they don't actually belong to. The typical formula is "I think [group x] are all a bunch of [offensive comment or term]. But I'm not [prejudiced against group x], a lot of my friends are [belonging to group x]". With people who use this argument, I would question their definition of 'friend'. I'd wager they define it, in this scenario, as 'someone [from group x] I met who I didn't like due to my views but who I remember I've encountered when making offensive comments about [group x]'. This is just my opinion, though.

But like I said, in the case of homosexuals, I don't do that. Partly because it would be superfluous (I don't have any issue with homosexuals, nor do I make offensive jokes about them), but mostly because it would be inaccurate. Truth be told, I don't have many gay friends. Gay male friends, at least. I do know a statistically unlikely number of lesbians. Not sure why, I don't actively go out of my way to meet lesbians, I get the impression that I probably wouldn't be too welcome in the places they allegedly hang out. Worryingly, the only thing these lesbians I know have in common is that, at some point in their lives, they all met me. But to make any conclusions based on this would be confusing correlation with causation (sort of), and that would never do.

Admittedly, I do have a habit of unintentionally upsetting the gay men I do meet via the medium of social faux pas. For example, I got a lift back from a wedding with a friend of my then girlfriend (now wife) who, as it happens, is homosexual. We were listening to Radio 1 (I was much younger then, don't judge me!), and Sarah Cox was on. I like Sarah Cox, unlike most of my mates. I like to see if my fondness for the nice gobby northern lady is considered weird by other people as well, so I asked my generous driver friend 'Do you like Cox?' The awkward pause that followed last just long enough for maximal embarrassment to kick in, which made the drive a lot more 'interesting' (meaning 'quieter'). Stuff like this happens with me alarmingly often, as anyone who's seen my stand-up set will know. But I'm telling you this to point out that, in the sociological context at least, I'm ill-qualified to make any comment on the matters I'm about to comment on extensively. Just letting you know in advance, so feel free to take all this with a pinch of salt, or whatever your preferred cliché.

Homosexuality, or maybe more accurately, homophobia, is an ever present issue in modern society. I don't 'get' homophobia. It's not as if homosexuality is a new thing; judging by what we see in the wild, it predates the concept of conscious prejudice by a significant margin. So if we're going to talk about 'unnatural behaviour'... And it's not as if homosexuality is an uncommon thing either. If it were, you can sort of see how people would be a bit afraid of this bizarre and unfamiliar practice. But no, lots of people are gay. The figure 'One in Ten men' get's bandied about a lot, but not sure how accurate that is. And women, they're even worse. There is extensive video evidence available from a variety of sources that show that two women who are left alone together will inevitably end up having sex with each other, within minutes, for no discernable reason other than boredom, or simply because the opportunity has presented itself. I know this sounds ridiculous, but trust me. I did extensive research into this during my teenage years. And then again when I first installed high-speed broadband. And every now and again when the wife is out.

But despite all this, homophobia is still rampant in pretty much all societies. And in my own personal view, I don't think it will ever be stamped out entirely. For example, men in a group of male friends in full on male-badinage mode, will invariably imply that one or more of their friends is gay in a joking yet derogatory manner. I don't think this will stop in the foreseeable future, but I don't think it's as bad as other forms of homophobia. Heterosexual men constantly evaluate their own sense of self worth and social standing by their masculinity, and one of the most common and powerful ways to demonstrate masculinity is via prowess with the opposite sex. Young boys will often describe other boys as 'girls' when they want to insult or offend them (or maybe that was just my school). I'm not sure if the opposite is true, that girls describe other girls as boys, as I was never a young girl. I'm pretty sure boys don't insult girls by calling them boys, children tend to struggle with reciprocal negative gender stereotyping, for some reason. Probably because I just made the term up a minute ago.

As we grow though, the rational world tends to shape our consciousness more and more, and we are expected to be smarter and more accurate when it general interaction with others. If he wished to imply that a friend was not masculine, he could still call him 'a girl/woman', but that would be demonstrably not true, so would be something of a hollow insult. The insulter would also look stupid/childish, so the insult would have to opposite effect to that intended. However, now the concept of homosexuality has been introduced into their lives, and accusing a mate of being a gay man is far more effective way of questioning his masculinity; it's physically possible, potentially true, and the only way the accused to completely disprove it is to have enthusiastic sex with a woman in front of the accuser while demonstrating genuine revulsion in response to a naked man. And that sort of behaviour will get you thrown out of the pub. As will homosexual activity, apparently. When it comes to sexuality and socialising, it might be easier to just not bother, just buy a 4-pack and stay in.

But I don't think the 'gay' insult in the context of friends trying to undermine masculinity is such a bad thing, as it's (usually) more to do with the 'activities' associated with being gay, rather than a slur on homosexuals themselves. But the use of the term 'gay' as a general derogatory one, that's not good. The use of the term 'gay' to describe something stupid, or physically weak/incapable, that's just crap. Of course, no gay person has ever been considered
intelligent, or physically adept at sports or combat. What a ludicrous notion! Especially since every straight person is an intellectual beefcake.

I'm not sure if this applies to lesbians and lesbianism to the same extent. Obviously in a patriarchal society where the desire to prove 'manliness' seems to be an overarching necessity to pretty much everything, homosexual activity between women is both non-threatening to the masculinity of, and erotically stimulating to, heterosexual men. I don't have any proof of this of course, it's just speculation on my part. The only thing I can call on to back up my supposition is the fact that the term 'lesbian' itself is an emotively-neutral term which specifically describes a homosexual woman. I don't know of any equivalent for homosexual men. Lesbian is, as we all know, derived from the island of Lesbos, where the ancient Greek female poet Sappho resided. If only the ancient Greeks had shown any interest or appreciation for male homosexuality, what might have been!

Anyway, to the point. Whenever any homosexuals get in the news for having the audacity to expect to be treated like normal humans, it generally kicks off with the right-wing posse. The Daily Mail columnists, the fundamentalist Christians, the deeply conservative, and so on, complaining about the Gay agenda and marginalising of 'normal' people. But invariably, we'll get some argument about homosexuality being a 'lifestyle choice'. And this then leads to the argument about whether homosexuality is a choice. Homosexuals almost unanimously say it isn't. But skeptics and the like have a saying; the plural of anecdote is not evidence. Even if every homosexual person in the country stated flat out that they did not choose to be homosexual, this would not constitute reliable evidence as it wouldn't be free from bias, personal interpretation, objective measurements etc. So this begs the question, is Homosexuality actually a choice or not?

I mean, obviously it's not. Logic alone dictates that much. If it were a choice, then logically it's a choice made when an individual is old and mature enough to recognise sexual attraction and physical intimacy as something they'll end up doing (hopefully). So until the time of 'choosing', they'd logically either be heterosexual or some sort of 'asexual' with no preference. If they're heterosexual originally, why change that? Does the thought process go "I know I'm heterosexual, but life is too easy so I will spend my life pursuing relationships with my own gender (who I'm not actually attracted too), engaging in sexual actions that don't appeal to me, in order to endure a lifetime of prejudice, judgement, persecution and legal challenges to my efforts to lead a normal life". Stereotypically, Gay people do tend to have more interesting and varied wardrobes, but that seems like a paltry conciliation. And if people start of as asexual and make a choice comparing after comparing the options and opportunities presented to heterosexual and homosexual people respectively, anyone who chooses the latter is going to seem quite masochistic. And I know some people are masochistic and there are clubs for just that sort of thing, but I do believe they're not limited to the homosexual communities.

But I've always been concerned by the extent to which the 'choice or not' argument rarely brings up any scientific or quantifiable information. Is there actually any? Turns out, there is.

One of the earliest findings I could uncover is from about 20 years ago, which, based on post-mortem studies of brain tissue of heterosexual men, heterosexual women and homosexual men, revealed that heterosexual men have a much bigger Interstitial Nuclei in region 3 of the anterior hypothalamus (INAH3), being almost twice as those found in women women and, more tellingly, homosexual men. The cells that make up INAH3 are widely believed to be the Sexually Dimorphic nucleus in humans, i.e. the bit of the brain that controls sexual behaviour, found in many in many animals (including rats and sheep, for example). Development of this region is highly sensitive to sex hormones during gestation and neonatal phases, particularly testosterone, the bad boy of the sex hormones. Why should some male foetuses receive less than 'normal' testosterone and some female foetuses receive more?

One theory was to do with the fecundity of and number of previous children from the mother. A study did discover that homosexual males do tend to have more homosexuals in their family in the maternal line, suggesting an X-chromosome genetic factor that leads to homosexuality. There's also a possibly affect of having more older brothers; the 3rd, 4th etc. brother from one mother is potentially more likely to be homosexual as the mother has built up an immunity to testosterone due to repeated exposure. As far as I'm aware, most mothers are women, so testosterone isn't as prevalent in their systems as it is in, let's say, a mans, so they become desensitised to it when repeatedly carrying male foetuses. As previously stated, testosterone greatly influences how INAH3 develops. Hence, homosexuality.

Before any macho dads jump on the 'it's all the woman's fault! Ain't no gays in my mighty seed!' argument, these effects only account for, at most, 20% of homosexual males, so maternal genetics and testosterone insensitivity are contributing factors at best, not deciding factors. Also, the study I'm referring to only focussed on homosexual males, so not sure how much (if at all) lesbianism is influenced by these factors. You could argue that having more daughters means a mother becomes more sensitive to testosterone, thus the testosterone present has a more potent effect? Or maybe having older brothers means the mothers testosterone insensitivity results in more testosterone being released in order to compensate. Both outcomes could influence the sexual development of the daughter, but this is just speculation on my part.

Whatever the underlying cause (I'm no embryologist, but it's a fantastically complex process, and the interplay of hormones and chemicals involved probably means there are countless things that can influence the overall outcome i.e. sexuality), it could be argued by opponents of homosexuality that just one slightly over/undersized brain region suggests that homosexuality is less a natural occurrence than a biological 'glitch'. Leaving aside the fact that this completely ignores the 'choice' argument, it's more complex than that. Research has revealed that there is also significant variation in the brain structures and connections between them between heterosexual and homosexual members of the same gender. Men typically show greater hemispherical asymmetry than woman (in lay terms, they use one half of the brain more than the other, which might underlie the whole 'single minded/multitasking' gender disparity). Interestingly, this asymmetry is also present in homosexual women. Contrastingly, women and gay men share a more balanced hemispherical usage. There are also noticeable differences in functional connections between the brain regions, such as gay men and straight women having more widespread connections from the left amygdala to

the contralateral amygdala and the anterior cingulate. Contrastingly, straight men and gay women have more connections from the right amygdala to the caudate, putamen, and prefrontal cortex. The brain is quite an incredibly impressive organ (I would say that, given my background), but this persistent and regularly occurring extensive wiring difference between the sexual preferences of the same gender is far too common and complex to simply be a recurring 'glitch'.

Long story short, homosexuals seemingly show brains structure and development that is more commonly associated with the opposite sex, which is sort of what you'd expect to see. And if some angry priest or right-winger tells you that someone from one gender having features associated with another is sick, wrong or unnatural, remember that his argument is entirely void if he has nipples.

Clearly, homosexuality has a use, otherwise gay people wouldn't still be around in such numbers. There are many evolutionary psychology theories as to the roles homosexuality plays/played in our developing culture and societies. Social bonding, better interaction between same-sex groups, a means of keeping population rates down in times of scarcity, inter-gender relationship building, and so on. I don't know how many, if any, of these theories have any validity, but there's a certain logic to all of them.

I sincerely doubt that there's one underlying aspect that underpins all homosexuality, and attempts to find one are likely to be misguided. I've discussed this 'complex behaviour must have a simple source' in relation to neuroscience in some depth previously. I read 'The Eternal Child' by Clive Bromhall. An interesting, if somewhat flawed, account of how everything about human society can be explained by paedomorphosis (which isn't as bad as it sounds, it means evolution takes 'short cuts' by exploiting the features and properties of children, such as humans having the smooth skin and upright stance of pre-adolescent chimps). He argues that homosexuals are the result of the same-sex bonding phase we experience in childhood, but achieving sexual maturity without going beyond that. This must be why all gay men despise women and never go near them. And all lesbians clearly despise men… actually, scratch that last one.

So clearly there are evolved neurobiological properties that give rise to homosexuality. And the research suggests that these are the result of variations in hormones and other developmental factors that occur during pregnancy or during the neonatal phases. Even if we could somehow consciously choose to drastically alter our biological features to support a sexual preference that comes encumbered with relentless persecution from psychotic idiots, that idea that we do it before birth, or before we develop the ability to sit up straight, or before we gain the ability to not have to spend long periods sat in our own copious bodily waste, seems to me to reaaaallllly stretch the definition of 'informed decision', to the point where it's not a choice at all.

So yeah. Science strongly suggests that homosexuality is the result of natural biological process beyond our control. There's plenty more research than I've covered here, and maybe everything I've referenced was flawed in some way? That's always a danger though, and that way madness lies. But if you're still reading this, well done, and next time someone says that homosexuality is a choice you can hopefully provide some proper data as to why they're wrong. They probably won't listen, but you'll have done what you can.

Just remember, science says Homosexuality is not a choice, it's just a naturally occurring facet of the complex and varied gestalt that is humanity.

I'm not sure if this applies to bisexuals though. They're probably just slags*

* = bisexuals are obviously not slags. Any suggestion that they are is wrong and pig headed. My reference to it was a blatant joke regarding the fact that I'd spent so long in criticising and condemning homophobia in any form that the fact that I myself was prejudiced against a group of people with a specific sexual preference would be ridiculously ironic. But some people have reminded me that there is such a thing as Biphobia, a prejudice they encounter from both straight and gay people, hence this clarification; Bisexuality is just another form of sexual dimorphism, and they should not now or ever be subjected to criticism, abuse, prejudice, or anything else based on their sexuality.

Email: Humourology (at)

Twitter: @garwboy

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Primates on the loose! (Uncaged Monkeys: The 'truth')

What follows is essentially a paradoxical attempt at self-promotion via the technique of self depreciation. Feel free to read a few lines and then resume the search for horrific animal-based porn that brought you here by accident (this is, in fairness, how I get most of my blog hits). But anyway, here’s some news that I got quite a while ago now, but just haven’t had the time or inclination to report it properly here. But now I do. So I am. With me so far?

My limited, unexpected and already clearly over-stretched appeal seems to be based on two things. 1: People’s surprising tolerance for overly-descriptive and grammatically dubious long winded sentences, like this one. And 2: My efforts to combine Science and Comedy.

The second factor there is the important one. The first one can be resolved by just sticking to my twitter feed, where sentence length is physically limited, or maybe just reading half of every sentence I write here. I can’t imagine it makes any less sense overall, and it’s a trick I used when reading up on all the relevant journal articles for my PhD, which I still managed to get somehow.

But efforts to combine science and comedy are seemingly still rare in contemporary UK. The skeptic community seems to be still gathering in strength and popularity, the promotion of evidence based medicine and policies is getting more traction, and the comedy scene is bigger and more popular than it’s ever been (whether this last one is a good or a bad thing is, like all comedy, largely a subjective matter). Attempts to combine these things, though, remain relatively sparse. But it’s not unheard of. Far from it, in fact.

I think the reason I get as much publicity as I do is due to both my being based in Cardiff, which gives me serious ‘big fish in a small pond’ value when it comes to science-based comedy. It’s not that small a pond though, I’ve not really encountered any other fish in it yet. That and a flew surprisingly popular blogs are all that stands between my current profile and total obscurity. Comparatively, it’s like saying ‘almond white is all that stands between magnolia and vanilla white on the Dulux colour chart’

It should tell you everything you need to know about me, the fact that I actually looked that up. Also, that I giggled somewhat at the term ‘ready mixed creams’. No idea why, but there you go.

But now my reign of tyranny is coming to an end. The professionals are coming to town. The best science/comedy folk in the UK are coming to Cardiff, and once people see how it’s really done, my brief spell of attention will fade, and rightly so.

I speak, of course, of the Uncaged Monkey’s tour. Robin Ince’s mighty rationalist comedy machine is making its way to the Welsh capital in May. The powerhouses of the science/sceptical/comedy communities are joining forces and touring the country, and seeing as those involved probably have a combined IQ that hits 4 figures, they’re aware that the country includes Wales (seriously, it’s weird how many high-profile tours seem to overlook this fact).

As a combined generous act of inclusion/’look how bad it can get’ gesture, I’ve been asked to contribute to the event in Cardiff as a special guest. I’m pretty sure my set is being used to give the staff something to listen to as they hoover under the seats after everyone leaves, but I’ll take it.

However, given the nature of the skeptic/rationalist communities and those who object to it, I’m sure there will be accusations abound regarding this huge, high-profile tour promoting science and reason, about ulterior motives, elitism and conspiracy theories, usually concerning the suppression of the existence of unscientific theories, magic and illogical principles for the benefit of Big Pharma puppet-masters. So, to save time and effort, from someone who is ‘on the inside’ to a certain extent, here is the true nature and the ulterior motives of those involved in the Uncaged Monkey’s tour (Cardiff event).


Officially: A talented and experienced comedian with an almost pathological need to obtain books and learn new things. As a result of getting his big-name friends and colleagues to help promote science and rationality in a comedic (or just plain interesting) fashion, science-comedy is currently fashionable. Specialises in angry, crazed rants and withering criticism or poorly written literature.

Unofficially: Robin Ince is actually the world’s most powerful homeopath, chiropractor, crystal healer, psychic, and fortune teller. He is also a devout Christian. His obsession with acquiring books and reading about new things eventually led him into the study and appreciation of all things ‘pseudoscience’, and his tenacious and meticulous nature meant he eventually mastered them all. This was in the late 1800’s, but he was able to work out the powerful cocktail of vitamins and raw foods necessary to halt the ageing process. He has since worked tirelessly to fight the rising tide of so-called rationalism occurring in the world today. His efforts are funded by all the profits generated by Ricky Gervais. Ince controls Gervais, and almost everyone else within his sphere of influence, in a manner not unlike the mice that control humanity in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; manipulating them by letting them think they’re in charge. The purpose of all these exploits is to subtly build up to a sell-out science/rationalist event at a venue like a stadium, at the climax of which a powerful (but all natural) psychotropic gas will be released which will cause all speakers and attendees there to abandon their beliefs and embrace pseudoscience and the world of magic. Or it will kill them. Either way, every little helps.

SUMMARY: Despite initial impressions, Rob Ince is clearly some sort of powerful druid. Or possibly a Wizard.


Officially: The UK’s go-to guy for all issues concerning the abuse or misuse of science in the mainstream media, marketing and beyond. His background in psychiatry, neuroscience and statistics gives him a powerful grasp and understanding and, perhaps most importantly, a willingness to use statistics and the related evidence when it comes to analysing and debunking claims of dubious scientific validity. He is a member of that elite group of skeptics and scientists, the ‘I’ve been unsuccessfully sued by powerful but dangerous quack(s) for speaking an obvious truth’ allegiance (rarely shortened to IBUSBPBDQFSAOTA, for obvious reasons). Specialises in talking about impressive science very rapidly, and being borderline assaulted by high-profile individuals who don’t like it when evidence contradicts their beliefs.

Unofficially: Even a stopped clock is right twice a day (or just once, if it’s a 24hr digital clock, assuming it’s not displaying some scrambled unrecognised time like34:65 or something), and for once the pseudoscientific conspiracy theorists are right; Ben Goldacre is a tool of the Pharmaceutical industry. Only they’re more right than they know. During his time as a cognitive Neuroscientist, Goldacre agreed to take part in a cutting-edge experiment in return for a ridiculous amount of cash. This experiment effectively turned him into the world’s first cyborg. He is programmed to destroy anyone attempting to exploit non-scientific (and non-pharmaceutical) theories for personal gain, using widely read articles and inhuman levels of data processing. The former is paid for and supported by Big Pharma profits obtained via auctioning off the seized properties and resources of innocent homeopaths and chiropractors Goldacre has destroyed. The latter is made possible by several hard disk-drives and processors implanted in his skull and wired directly into his brain (mostly into the temporal lobes, but also the corpus callosum to facilitate hemisphereical communication). He occasionally criticises the pharmaceutical industry in a classic case of misdirection. The cyborg enhancements are almost undetectable, but a glitch in the interface is what causes his rapid speech patterns, and his signature curly hair is maintained in order to hide the numerous USB sockets embedded into his scalp. The ultimate aim of Goldacre’s modifications is to make him the most trusted source of science information in the world, to the point where his opinion outranks the process of peer-review. Once this happens, he will suddenly start promoting ‘new’ types of antidepressants.

SUMMARY: Despite initial impressions, Ben Goldacre is a cyborg designed and maintained by Big Pharma. The vast wealth he receives for his efforts is spent on Christmas cake, which is what powers his cybernetic enhancements.


Officially: A well-liked and widely respected award-winning author, presenter and scientific journalist/investigator. Simon Singh is known for his dedication and enthusiastic manner in making seemingly complex and difficult scientific concepts more easily understood and engaging. He is also a member of that elite group of skeptics and scientists, the ‘I’ve been unsuccessfully sued by powerful but dangerous quack(s) for speaking my mind’ allegiance (IBUSBPBDQFSAOTA).

Unofficially: Singh is actually well on the way to developing a powerful global religion in his name. He is known by many names to his followers, ‘The Guru’, ‘The Brahman of Bogus’, ‘The Codebreaker Christ’, ‘The treatment or trickster God’, ‘Singh of the Singularity’ and so on. Singh’s efforts to debunk alternative medicine, climate change denial and other pseudoscientific practices are tantamount to the Biblical incident where Jesus threw the money lenders out of the Church; he’s essentially clearing the decks before he becomes the all powerful religious icon he is believed to be. His books and articles, read together, actually form the basis of a new gospel (The Big Bang = Genesis, Trick or Treatment = Ernst’s Gospel etc.). He is already better than Jesus as, via the technique of serial reincarnating, he has died and risen again many times, not just the once. As such, the effects of Singhism have been subtly accumulating for many years. E.g. Simon Singh is the original Simon from the game ‘Simon Says’ (where children are taught that ‘Simon’ must be unquestioningly obeyed, and anything he does not say is false). The act of hymn singing is also actually a distortion of musically praising ‘Him; Singh’. His involvement in big touring events like Uncaged monkeys is a way to further spread his word to a wide audience. Once all other forms of false beliefs are discredited and abolished (Singh shall have no other idols, other than him), he will announce a dress code and introduce tithing.

SUMMARY: Despite first impressions, Simon Singh is a centuries-old religious icon, poised to overthrow all other major religions on Earth (except scientology, which amuses him greatly).


Officially: Possibly the most famous science presenter in the UK at present, Brian Cox is an accomplished professor of physics and works directly with the LHC and other high-energy facilities. He is perhaps best known for presenting popular programmes detailing the wondrous aspects of the solar system, the Universe and more (not sure what ‘more’ there is than the Universe, but you get the point). He is regularly involved in scientific discussions in the media, and has a bizarre background in Pop music as former keyboard player of 90’s pop group D:Ream.

Unofficially: Brian Cox, with his softly spoken demeanour, earnest enthusiasm and trendy appearance, is planning global annihilation. An extreme sociopath since a childhood trauma involving a Cornetto and a friends bicycle pump, every aspect of Cox’s life is dedicated to the eventual destruction of human kind, and the Earth itself if necessary. His dedication to high-energy physics is the result of his deep desire to develop a catastrophic doomsday device (the widely dismissed planet-swallowing black-hole generating capabilities of the Large Hadron Collider were the only reason he got involved with it in the first place). His ‘Wonders...’ programmes are actually his way of gleefully pointing out how pathetic and meaningless the human race is, and how the Universe won’t miss one pathetic planet, and also to emphasise to people how insignificant they are, in order to sap any desire they may have to fight against his world-ending schemes. Even the D:Ream song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ bore the marks of Cox’s destructive hatred for mankind. The original lyrics went ‘Things can only get better... when you’re all dead’, but the studio intervened. Brian Cox enjoys doing high-profile speaking events as he gets to look directly into the eyes of the pointless beings whose demise he will shortly be bringing about.

SUMMARY: Despite first impressions, Brian Cox is an evil warlord wanting to bring about the apocalypse. Government funding cuts imposed by the coalition means MI5 may have to stop sending James Bond to thwart him so regularly, so he may soon succeed.


Officially: A sharp and intelligent stand-up comedian, Addison is known for lecture-esque comedy shows in both live and radio formats, the majority of which focus on science or rationalism in some form. He is also regularly seen as an actor in the political TV satire ‘The Thick of It’, where he belligerently mocks an older man and is horrifically bollocked by another with disconcerting regularity. His manner of speaking makes you feel somehow less intelligent just by hearing it. In a more just world, Stephen Hawking’s voicebox would sound just like him.

Unofficially: At a very young age, Addison discovered the Fountain of Youth. Except it wasn’t a fountain, it as a pond near his house. This is why he still looks like he might get ID’d in pubs despite being nearly 4 decades old (chronologically). After discovering he had been granted eternal youth, Addison decided to dedicate much of his time promoting science, rationalism and reason, to the point where everyone rejects the notion of a ‘fountain of youth’ outright. Faced with the possibility of several lifetimes of accumulated interest, Addison has been quietly investing in and promoting left-wing media franchises, and secretly incorporating subliminal messages and commands into all of his live/broadcast output. These commands are essentially random and un-linked instructions, they’re basically the society-manipulating version of a “testing, testing. One two, one two”. He has discovered there are other high-profile comics that don’t age, and is using the scientific and sceptical communities to consolidate his position before making his move and engaging them in combat, to the death (by decapitation).

SUMMARY: Despite first impressions, Chris Addison is a society manipulating immortal, sort of like a stand-up comedy version of one of those guys from ‘Highlander’.


Officially: Helen Arney is a delightfully talented songstress, who combines her scientific background with quirky, whimsical music and stand-up. She is increasingly being seen at festivals and live events in front of large crowds, and can often be heard on Radio 4.

Unofficially: Helen Arney is actually a mythical creature. Part pixie, part elf, part siren, part succubus, part fairy (mythical creature biology doesn’t follow the same rules as ours does). She uses her siren song and musical abilities to confuse and cast a glamour over her audiences and listeners, which then makes those under the spell amenable to her will. By focussing on scientific and rational audiences, her power is increased tenfold, as converting followers with no other-worldly beliefs are considered to be far more valuable in the magical kingdom. As such she is on course to become queen of the fairies (and others), and by casting her musical spell over large audiences of scientifically minded thinkers she is coming ever closer to opening a portal to this world where the armies of elves riding centaurs and firing gremlins from bows made of unicorn gut, who will storm our Earthly realm, and steal all our milk. Why milk? I don’t know. They’re other worldly beings, logic is not required.

SUMMARY: Despite first impressions, Helen Arney is an otherworldly sprite who is working to unleash a force of magical beings on our universe. In a nice, quirky way though. So that’s fine.

MYSELF: I check the Dulux colour chart when making pointless long-winded comparisons. Enough said.

So yeah, that’s that. Uncaged Monkey’s, 9th of May, St David’s Hall. Come along, it’ll be great. Mostly.

Email: Humourology (at)

Twitter: @garwboy

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