Posts Tagged ‘Apes’

Does this B-Movie Plot Remind You of Our Prime Minister?

December 14, 2019

Okay, I know this is low and ad hominem, but I think we could do with a laugh after the election. I found this brief description of the plot of the 1927 film, The Wizard, in the Science Fiction Film Source Book, David Wingrove, ed., foreword by Brian W. Aldiss (Harlow: Longman 1985).

‘The misleading title aside, this is based on Gaston Leroux’s novel, Balaoo, and concerns itself with the obligatory mad scientist trying to graft human heads on to apes; to use the result to avenge himself on his enemies. Re-made in 1942 as Dr Renault’s Secret.’

A human head on an ape’s body sounds pretty much like the unfunny clown, who’s now been elected Prime Minister of the UK. But I fear describing himself as such is a slight to apes. They’re intelligent animals that are critically endangered and deserve to be left alone with their environment intact.

Boris Johnson and the other alleged humans in his party, on the other hand, deserve to be turfed out of government ASAP.

German Fossil Ape Discoveries Support Initial Bipedalism

November 8, 2019

There was a very interesting piece in yesterday’s I newspaper about the discovery of the remains of an ancient ape that lived 12 million years ago in Bavaria. According to the palaeontologists and zoologists examining the creature, its remains suggest that it could walk as well as climb trees. This seems to support the theory of initial bipedalism. This states that walking on two legs is not a trait humans acquired, but one what that apes lost.

The article by Frank Jordans, ‘Ancient walking ape takes stand against evolutionary theory’ runs

The remains of an ancient ape found in a Bavarian clay pit suggest that our ancestors began standing upright millions of years earlier than previously thought, scientists have said.

An international team of researchers said that the fossilised partial skeleton of a male ape tyhat lived almost 12 million years ago, in what is now southern Germany, bore a striking resemblance to modern human bones.

In a paper published by the journal Nature, they concluded that the previously unknown species, named Danuvius guggenmosi, could walk on two legs but also climb like an ape.

The findings “raise fundamental questions about our previous understanding of the evolution of the great apes and humans”, said Madelaine Boehme of the University of Tubingen, Germany, who led the research.

Previous fossil records of apes with an upright gait dated only as far back as six million years ago.

Ms Boehme, along with researchers from Bulgaria, Germany, Canada and the US, examined more than 15,000 bones found west of Munich.

They were able to piece together primate fossils belonging to four individuals that lived 11.62 million years ago.

The most complete, an adult male looked similar to modern-day bonobo chimpanzees.

They reconstructed how Danuvius would have moved, concluding that, while it would have been able to hang from branches by its arms, it could also straighten its legs to walk upright.

“This changes our view of early human evolution which is that it all happened in Africa,” Ms Boehme told AP News.

Fred Spoor, a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said that it could challenge many existing ideas about evolution.

“This is fantastic material,” said Mr Spoor, who was not involved in the study, “there undoubtedly will be a lot for people to analyse.”

Some of the fossil apes they’ve previously discovered seem to have different proportions to modern apes. Ramapithecus had arms that were proportionally more like those of humans, rather than the long arms of apes. This suggests to me that the animal was more bipedal than modern apes, which commonly walk on fours.

I first encountered the theory of initial bipedalism through articles written by the French zoologist, Dr. Francois Sarre, in the ’90s cryptozoological magazine, Animals and Men. Cryptozoology is the study of mystery animals. It covers everything from creatures that may plausibly exist, to beasts that are probably mythical like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Animals and Men was a strange mixture of the paranormal and popular articles about respectable zoological discoveries, like the fossils of various types of extinct whale. It was very much fringe literature, which is possibly the reason why Sarres’ articles were published in it. He may not have been able to publish them elsewhere. Now this discovery suggests he was right. Which also shows you shouldn’t discount everything in the paranormal press.

Secular Talk on Donald Trump’s Attempt to Sue the Onion

May 18, 2016

This is yet more evidence how psychological incompetent Donald Trump is to serve his country as its head of state. And it’s hilarious!

In this piece from Secular Talk, the show’s host, Kyle Kulinski, talks about an article in Legal News discussing how The Donald tried to sue the Onion for libel three years ago in 2013. The Onion’s a satirical website. In 2013 it ran a piece under Donald Trump’s names, entitled, ‘When You’re Low, Just Think: In 15-20 Years I’ll Be Dead’, and then went on to discuss how unpopular the Coiffured Clown is. Trump and his frail ego went berserk, and his attorney sent of a letter to the Onion demanding that they pull the article and apologise, or else. In fact, as Kyle Kulinski says here, the letter probably wasn’t written by an attorney or spokesman, but by Trump himself. He’s known for spending his time combing the press and news for anything on him, and then getting irate when they say something he doesn’t like.

Secular Talk also had a piece about him a few days ago, in which they discussed another piece of Trump’s weird personal history. Apparently in the 1980s or thereabouts he used to ring newspapers up pretending to be his own publicist, a John Miller, and start praising himself to the rafters. One of the American newspapers, I think it may have been the Washington Post, did a piece about this, including a clip from one of these phone calls. Trump denied it was him, stating on a TV interview that it didn’t sound like him. Kulinski, however, made the point that it does sound like The Donald, and at various points in his long spiel about how wonderful he was, Trump would occasionally forget to talk in the third person, and say ‘I’ instead. He’d correct himself afterwards and carry on as before. Nevertheless, that slip confirmed that it was him all along.

He also got annoyed with someone else and threatened to sue them when they dared to mock his risible ‘Birther’ views. Trump, like many extreme Right-wing Republicans, doesn’t believe that Obama should be president, ’cause he doesn’t believe that he was actually born in America. Obama, however, pointed out that he was born in Hawaii. This produced the response from the Republicans that he should confirm this by showing his birth certificate. Trump was one of them. One of the media wags decided to spoof this by claiming that The Donald was not fully human, and his father was really an orang-utan. They put up a picture of Trump next to one of the apes to show that Trump’s hair colour was closer to the orang-utans’ than to everyone else’s. Trump, however, took the jibe way too seriously, and instead of seeing it as a rather daft joke, viewed it instead as a terrible slur on his ancestry. He therefore started waving his birth certificate around to show he had a human father, and started threatening the joker with a libel action.

He really, really doesn’t have any sense of perspective when it comes to these jibes and insults. I don’t know, but I think probably almost everybody in the West realises that humans and apes can’t breed, despite what the Nazis tried to say to the contrary about Blacks during the Third Reich. And it’s an old joke anyway. In the early 19th century there was a novel about a mysterious red-headed stranger, who arrives from the East Indies, called Mr Ouran Haut-Ton. Mr Haut-Ton thrives in business, becomes a successful MP, and eventual gains a peerage and joins the House of Lords. The whole joke is that the distinguished gentleman is an orang-utan. Try saying Ouran Haut-Ton as it would be pronounced in French. That should give you a clue. This shows you how long people in Britain have been joking that their leaders in business and politics are really just strategically shaved apes.

Moreover, satirists in Britain have been taking the mick out of politicians and celebrities by writing spoof articles under their names for a very long time. Craig Brown has been doing it for about twenty years or so in the pages of Private Eye. He did once get sued by one of the Tories. I’ve a feeling it might have been Alan Clarke, and that did end up going to court. But such spoof have been a staple of satire for so long that no-one takes them seriously as really being by the people they send up.

Trump’s manifest lack of any sense of humour or perspective about this is funny, but there’s a very serious side to this. Kulinski makes the point that Trump says he wants to ‘beef up’ the libel laws so that he can sue people who publish material he doesn’t like, and get more money. This is censorship. Kulinski compares Trump to Erdogan, the wannabe-sultan of Turkey. Erdogan had a doctor charged, because he dared to retweet a picture showing the Turkish president alongside Gollum from the Lord of the Rings. He also had another man arrested after his wife wrote a snitch letter, saying he turned the TV off whenever Erdogan came on. And he demanded that Angela Merkel prosecute a pair of German satirists after they took the mick out of his litigiousness on a late night programme on German TV. He was disappointed, as Merkel stood up for free speech, and turned him down.

Free speech lives in Germany, but may not last much longer in America if Trump gets into power, as he’ll spend his time trying to censor people from saying anything critical about him whatsoever. If he gets into the White House, all you’re going to hear from the press for the next four years will be the sound of ‘Duce! Duce!’ and phone calls to their lawyers to protect them when The Donald sends his squadristi round to have a quiet word after they’ve written something he doesn’t like.

Chaos on the Airwaves: Wannabe Fascist Dictator Phones into LBC

March 18, 2015

More from the Fascist trainwreck that is Joshua Bonehill, the would-be great dictator. EDL News has this piece, Joshua Bonehill calls LBC to discuss anal sex and it ends badly , reporting the appearance of Bonehill on a late night show when he phoned into discuss the above topic with the programme’s host, Christo. In the words of Derek Fender’s article

Predictably it did not go well for him. The Yeovil based oddball ranted about gays, jews blacks, cultural marxism, white genocide whilst LBC host, Christo, could barely contain his laughter.

It ended with Christo asking Bonehill if he had a girlfriend which seems to be a very touchy subject. Christo then went on to ask Bonehill to meet him for a cosy dinner date in Old Compton Street which lead to him slamming the phone down.

Amongst other offensive, ludicrous and potentially dangerous comments, Bonehill claimed that AIDS was nature’s way of correcting homosexuality, which was unnatural. And the Jews were responsible for encouraging homosexuality as part of their plan for world domination by destroying the White race.

Cristo raised the obvious point that homosexuality was hardly unnatural, as it was found in nature. That’s a fact that has only really been established scientifically within the last 20 years. I’ve a book on genetics published in the 1990s that states that while pseudo-homosexuality exists in nature, homosexuality proper doesn’t. It was Plato, who first argued that homosexuality was unnatural, and this view has now been completely refuted. Channel 4 even broadcast a programme about it, The Truth About Gay Animals. There was also an article about it a decade or so ago in the Fortean Times.

As for being spread by homosexuality, I was of the impression that the disease first crossed the species barrier from apes and monkeys to humans through people eating infected monkeys. And in Africa one of the ways the disease is spread is through long distance truckers catching the disease through prostitutes, whom they infect in turn, and then their wives and families when they return to them. If there’s a lesson about danger there, it’s probably that there are pockets of disease in Africa into which the human population is increasingly coming in contact. And also the grinding poverty and lack of economic opportunities that forces women onto the streets.

There’s also a problem with sexual ignorance and a number of superstitions that have grown up about the disease. One is that it can be cured through having sex with virgins. This has led to previously uninfected women being exposed to the disease. Some of this is through rape, and there are horrendous reports of young girls being attacked.

Bonehill doesn’t really respond to Christo’s argument, instead getting a bit shirty, and trying to change the subject slightly by moving on to argue that the Jews were deliberately promoting gayness. This is not only bilge, it’s pure projection. I don’t know, but I think the origins of the gay rights movement go back to the end of the 19th century and the beginnings of academic sexology with Havelock Ellis and E. Krafft-Ebing. From the 1930s onwards there were increasingly sensitive literary treatments of it, with Radcliffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, which dealt with lesbianism. Radcliffe Hall came from a very respectable British middle class background. It was also part of the sexual revolution that started in the ’60s with the Kinsey Report, the Stonewall Riots in America, and the formation of Gay Liberation over here. One of those, who campaigned for the legalisation of homosexuality in the 1960s was the musician and cartoonist, Gerhard Hofnung. Hofnung was of foreign extraction – he came originally from Germany. He was, however, Quaker and not Jewish. His reasons for advocating its legalisation was due to his humanitarian concern as part of his Quaker faith. This isn’t to say that there weren’t Jews involved with movement. I’ve no doubt there probably were, along with people from Roman Catholic, Protestant, and purely secular backgrounds. It’s just that it can’t be seriously claimed that the campaign to legalise homosexuality, and demand equal rights for gay people originated solely with the Jews, or is part of some weird secret plot.

And it is a piece of projection. Certain parts of European Fascism were strongly supportive of homosexuality. Ernst Rohm of the SA, the ‘socialist’ section of the Nazi party, was gay and it’s been claimed that so were 3/4 of that organisation’s members.

In Italy, the Futurists advocated as part of their programme of artist and social modernism ‘scorn for women’, and attacked the family and traditional sexual morality. They were in favour of free love, and also advocated homosexuality.

This does not mean that Fascism as a whole supported homosexuality or treated homosexuals with anything other than absolute contempt. In Nazi Germany, gay men were sent to the concentration camps, where they were identified with a pink triangle.

The Nazis did, however, encourage homosexuality amongst Jews as a way of trying to prevent them from having children. It was part of a deliberate policy aimed at their extinction. Bonehill’s statement that the Jews are doing this to prevent Whites from propagating their race is pure projection.

The LBC show is weirdly funny, however, as Christo really can’t believe how bonkers Bonehill actually is. Apart from his guffaws, he asks several times if it is a wind-up. At one point he asks if people really still believe the rubbish Bonehill has been uttering.

The EDL article is at http://edlnews.co.uk/2015/03/01/joshua-bonehill-calls-lbc-to-discuss-anal-sex-and-it-ends-badly/. It’s got a 25 minute recording of Bonehill’s inane spoutings. As an example of pure right-wing drivel, it is utterly hilarious.

Christo is right in that some of Bonehill’s antic are so weird and bizarre that you wonder if he is entirely serious, or just playing a very tasteless and offensive game. If he is serious, then you also wonder about his mental health. According to the SlatFascist site, not so long ago Bonehill was trying to promote himself through some extremely dodgy pseudo-mysticism. He claimed that he was the White messiah prophesied by one Aryanus. This is too close ‘Hairy Anus’ to my mind to be taken at all seriously, quite apart from the fact that Aryanus was obviously someone Bonehill made up.

Frans de Waal Goes in Search of Atheist Chimps

May 18, 2013

Looking through Waterstone’s last week, I found in the popular science section Frans de Waal’s latest work, The Atheist Amongst the Bonobos, with a subtitle about Humanism in our nearest relatives. De Waal is a primatologist with an interest in using ape behaviour to try to explain human nature and society. One of his previous books had the title Ape Politics. I don’t think it’s entirely accidental that his latest book is about Bonobos, rather than the chimpanzees that usually comprise the subjects of primate research. Unlike chimps, Bonobos are matriarchal, with the females holding considerable social power. They are also very promiscuous with sex used to counteract social tensions and prevent the formation of alliances amongst the male bonobos, which lead to violence in chimpanzees. It seems to reflect the hopes and expectations of ’60s radicalism that if women had more freedom and power, in politics and business and the Judeo-Christian taboos against sex were abolished, society would become much less violent and wars would cease.

Now it may be that if women had more power, there would be less violence and war. There have been numerous feminist movements throughout history that have attempted to end conflict. One of the latest was a group of mother’s in Northern Ireland from both sides of the sectarian divide. They had lost their children to the paramilitary violence, and so were campaigning for its end. On the other hand, the BBC’s veteran reporter, Kate Adie, in her book on women and war, noted that women could be just as belligerent and pro-war as men. She cited the women, who stood on street corners handing out feathers to men, who had not joined up during the First World War. As for the issue of sex and violence, the rise of the permissive society in Europe has effectively removed much of Judeo-Christian morality concerning sex. Sex before marriage appears to have become the norm, and there is more explicit depiction of sex and sexual relations than was usually permitted when society was governed by Judeo-Christian notions of sexual restraint. It’s arguable, however, whether society is less violent. Critics of the view that freer sex would mean less war and violence have pointed out that many of the most violent societies in the ancient world had far more permissive attitudes to sex than in later, Judeo-Christian societies. Babylonian religion, for example, featured fertility cults and sacred prostitution, which were strongly condemned by the Hebrew prophets.

De Waal’s book also seems to partake of a romantic view of primitive life that goes back to ancient Rome, and even found occasional expression in medieval culture. The Romans believed that the people of the Golden Age lived without tools, agriculture and civilisation in a state of paradaisical innocence, free of disease and war. Thte archaeologist, Stephanie Moser, in her book Ancestral Images shows a depiction of a family of hairy wild men from a medieval book illustration. The image of the Wild Man first appears in the 13th century or so. They are shown naked, with a club, and usually represent primitive violence set against European civilisation and chivalry. This particular picture, however, shows a Wild Man, with his wife, a Wild Woman, nursing their baby. An accompanying poem records how they live according to nature, eating wild plants, drinking water – but only when they’re thirsty – and sleeping out on the grass. Each stanza ends with the refrain, ‘And so I have, thank God, enough’. The Wild People of the picture are therefore held up as pursuing a natural, frugal, godly life, free of the luxuries and vices of human civilisation. A similar attitude appears to be behind de Waal’s books.

The use of chimpanzees and other primates as ideal models of basic human cognitive and social traits and behaviour has also been criticised, notable by the neurologist Raymond Tallis and and the BBC science journalist, Jeremy Taylor. Tallis in his book, Aping Mankind, and Taylor in Not a Chimp both argue that human culture makes us profoundly different from chimpanzees. Taylor in particular points out that we are not as close to chimpanzees as has been frequently suggested. Instead of the genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees being a mere 1 or two per cent, it’s more likely to be four per cent. And this is merely genetic difference. In these different genes lie the whole world of human culture and civilisation. Taylor notes that the last common ancestor between human and chimpanzees was six million years ago. And just as humans have been evolving in those six million years, so have chimpanzees. The total evolutionary difference between people and chimps is therefore 12 million years. Tallis points out that even the most basic, biological activities, like eating and going to the toilet, in humans takes place within a network of thought and symbolic culture that simply is not present in apes. Taylor aos points out that in humans, politics takes place within a network of rights, obligations and responsibilities of which chimpanzees simply aren’t aware. Both Taylor and Tallis find intensely distasteful and factually wrong the attempts to reduce humanity to another type of ape. Taylor is also extremely critical of the accompanying anthropomorphism of chimpanzees into another type of humans. He draws a parallel with the adverts for PG Tips tea which ran for years on British television. These featured a group of costumed chimps in humorous situations, trying to perform human tasks, like moving pianos, before settling down to a nice cup of tea. They were degrading spectacles, which are now mercifully discredited and taken off the air. Yet the attempt to gain specifically human rights for chimps and other apes is also degrading in its anthropomorphism. Rather than attempt to assimilate them legally to us, we should, in Taylor’s view, recognise their difference. Only through properly appreciating and providing for that, can we see that they and other wild animals receive the proper ecological protection they need and deserve.

As for atheism, nearly ten years or so now primatologists noticed chimps gazing into the distance. They suggested that this indicated that chimps also had a vague sense of the transcendance that forms the heart of religious experience. Now this is a long way from claiming that chimps or other primates are religious, but it does indicate that there is a beginning of the ‘sensus divinitatis’ – the sense of the divine in these related primates.

Taken together, bonobos, chimps and the other apes cannot be taken as models for human nature and society. Doing so mistakenly idealises and anthropormises them. Primatology can contribute much to our understanding of these creatures as well as humans, but the differences between apes and humans must also be respected. Between us and our nearest relatives there is a whole world of culture.