ZOMFG!

So it’s two am and me and the usual suspects have been drinking since five PM and the bar we’re in closes so we head off for a curry. We sit down and the banter is flying around and the beer is flowing and in comes this couple. The woman keeps looking at me, so I start looking at her and the eye contact is long, I’m talking tens of seconds. Vaguely I recognise her and I pull my phone out and I think back to the last time I met someone online, I look at the photos on my email and sure enough, it’s her! So, because I’m rat arsed, I rattle off an email asking if it’s her and I sit there intently looking to see if she reaches into her handbag but she doesn’t.

But it was her.

Objective truth.

People go to university or college and they pay maybe £30,000 or maybe $100,000 dollars and they do these courses where they’re taught there is no such thing as objective truth. Yeah, exactly: If it’s true that there are no objective truths then it must be objectively true that there are no objective truths, but if it’s objectively true that there are no objective truths, then it is not objectively true that there are no objective truths and so there must be objective truths. The statement “There are no objective truths”, thus refutes itself.

That’s your expensive tertiary “education” shot down. I find myself………..how have we………..Why do we do this to our children? Why do we allow them to off and pay tens of thousands to some pseudo-intellectual quack to teach them things which refute themselves? How did we get here? Why do we allow this? I’m laughing now but I find that the more people I come across with these kind of asinine epistemological positions the more I pity them. These people have been conned out of so much money and also they’ve been let down by an educational system that is supposed to teach them to think critically on some level.

Inspired by ze Muse.

Naturlich I disagree. I find religion rather unpoetic; the thing that makes Greek tragedy so amazing, so enthralling and moving is that there is never a God that pops in and wipes away all of the guilt, all of the shame, all of the negativity and puts everything right. I do not find the “and then a sky daddy came along and made everything okay” narrative all that interesting. In Greek tragedy the human soul is on show warts and all; the beauty is in the struggle against Fate the struggle against circumstance. The beauty of Greek mythology is it’s humanity, for all it’s fantastical creatures and talk of Gods, it’s about people that we can relate to.

Religion is just the story of how we’re just sat here waiting to die so that we can be with our dad telling him how wonderful he is for eternity. Life is awaiting a celestial North Korea where the people who don’t want to be defined by telling daddy how wonderful he is will be burned forever. It’s love is highly conditional and the place it wants to guide you to is usually death and ignorance.

Occasionally on clear summer nights, actually on any clear night, I find myself gazing upwards into the cosmos. I’m lucky in that I have a father who pointed out all the constellations to me and so I can find my way around the night sky. I find myself looking at Mars and wondering what it will feel like for the first humans who set foot on it, I marvel at the journey that has led us from being just another animal out on the African savannah to one who has been to the moon, and now plans to go to Mars. I think of people like Tycho Brahe driven to spend night after night making observations out of nothing but a desire to understand, I think of Kepler pouring through all his data to formulate Kepler’s laws, of Newton building on this work to formulate his laws of motion. Beyond that I think of the generations upon generations of people who have gazed up at the night sky filled with that human longing to know and I feel humbled.

I think of the future generations who will go to Mars, I think of what they will build there, the struggles they will face, the disasters which will happen and which they will rise above and overcome because that’s what we as a species do.

Have you ever seen the milky way? I’m sure it was pretty fascinating to ancient people who didn’t know what it was beyond a blurry patch in the night sky, but how amazing is it to contemplate the billions of stars, to know that you’re looking right at the centre of our home galaxy, to know that there are billions of other galaxies out there in clusters and strings, all held together by gravity. How gripping is it to look up to Sirius and know that the light from it left nearly nine years ago and then to look at all the other stars and just contemplate the immensity of it all, to know that you’re standing in natures cathedral and staring back into time. I wonder what we’ll find out there, what yet to be written history awaits us.

This is all only possible because of science; without it stars are just specks of light, the milky way a cloud, the planets just moving lights to make stories up about. Science isn’t just dry explanations for things it is the story of human understanding, it is the thing that gives it all meaning, it places everything in it’s proper place and it allows us to transcend ourselves. We don’t need someone up there telling us that we’ve done our best because we can look at what we’ve achieved. We can see the diseases that we’ve defeated, we can see the struggle against famine being won, we can see ourselves reaching out into space and every last one of us, every one of the seven billion of us is part of that.

Science tells us our story, it tells of a species nearly wiped out by the lake Toba eruption, possibly only a few thousand ragged survivors in a world that was absolutely hostile. Without claws or particularly good senses, but by sheer will power and solidarity, the drive to look out for one another and stick together and with the curiosity that is innate to us we’ve battled on, we’ve overcome so many obstacles, we’ve built civilisations and gone to other worlds. We can look at each other and know that somewhere along the line that we’re related, we can literally say that we’re one family.

We can all look up into the night sky, point to a little red dot and say, “One day we will go there and one day we will go beyond it”. Religion can’t do that.

Cadets part deux

Occasionally I have this conversation with Americans that basically goes, “You were taught what as a teenager?”. Yes, yes I know how to set up an ambush, yes my fieldcraft is such that if I decide to not be seen you will not see me, or my approach to a target because I know how to use the terrain to mask my approach. Yes I can strip an assault rifle, yes, I’m pretty good with an assault rifle, yes, I know small unit tactics, yes I know CQB tactics, yes, I know how to use a variety of pistols, yes I am trained to fight in chemical and biological warfare environment, yes I knew all this when I was fourteen and by the time I was sixteen I was bloody good at it.

This conversation is particularly amusing with really liberal gun control supporting Americans because it dawns on them that quite a lot of British teenagers are fucking lethal pieces of kit. I’m an ex Air cadet, I’m meant to be fast tracked into a fighter squadron in time of war and I was trained to do all this. Consider what the average eighteen year old army cadet who is even better trained to do all this stuff is like, consider that it hasn’t washed since it was thirteen because, “washing is what gay people do”. Consider that a good proportion of our armed forces have been training since they were twelve or thirteen. About a third to half of our armed forces came from the cadet forces, so a large number have been handling weapons and learning fieldcraft, small unit tactics, etc since they were teenagers, as the Taliban have learned and as IS are learning. When the treeline gets up and decides to have a brew you’ll know what’s going on.

There’s this “OMG you teach children to kill” moment and I’m like, “Yes, yes we do”. This I find highly amusing.

Cadets.

Tonight I met an ex-cadet from my squadron and it’s nice to see the rot hasn’t quite set in. The great thing about ex-cadets is that they tend to be no nonsense “stick them in a stress position long enough and they’ll talk” kinda people. When I was a cadet discipline was enforced by harsher means than we’re now allowed to use to get information out of terrorists. Combined with having to yomp all over the Brecon Beacons in the worst weather and live in ditches while doing it I find that ex cadets are a hardy bunch. They have that stereotypical British ability to just get on with things no matter how bad the situation is.

For me when I meet someone from my squadron there’s an immediate bond, we’re both from the same squadron, we both have the same kind of experiences. We both know what it’s like to be in mid Wales in the worst weather imaginable with twenty-five miles to go and a pack so heavy you wonder how you’re even carrying, it knowing that only two things are going to happen: either you get yourself out of this shit by pushing on, or the RAF are sending in a rescue helicopter from RAF Valley. In fairness you know that the lads from Valley will push that little bit more to get you out and back to safety because you are cadets, but at the same time you really don’t want that. So you push on.

I know for a fact that on some exercises I was carrying a pack that at least equalled my own body weight. There were times when I was living off rat packs for ten days, living in a ditch with a basha and not much else. Fun it was not, but like I was joking with my squadron mate, years later you realise how much of an impact it’s had on you; later on you go camping and people are in tents and you almost laugh at what pussies they are.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that if somehow a bunch of cadets, even pongos, somehow got stranded with the right kit in Syria or Iraq and walked out across two hundred miles of desert without any help. evading capture by IS, laying up by day and moving by night, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. I’d be fucking proud of them, but not the least bit surprised because the thing is that cadets allows you to practice this kind of thing in total safety and teenagers being teenagers they will push themselves to the limit because they think that they’re invincible.

It’s only later when you’re doing something that you consider not that hard and everyone around you is whinging and complaining and you’re just cracking on with it that you realise how well the cadets prepared you for life. Maybe you’re on some university course where they’ve sent you to the lake district for a team building exercise and it’s six am, pissing it down with rain, and everyone is whining and complaining and you and another person are just quietly checking your kit and you look up and you’re like, “Which squadron, mate?” and they’re like, “Fuck off you poof” and you know that they’re ex ACF, or worse, a sea cadet. Then the pair of you return to checking kit with a bit of a grin at the shared joke. It’s no surprise that later on you find that the pair of you are up front leading the group, cracking jokes, while everyone else is wet and miserable and you’re having that discussion that goes, “So we’ll do another two klicks and then have a brew”.

Next thing you know the pair of you are sitting under a basha staring at a mess tin sitting on hexistove with the rain pouring down, still cracking jokes, waiting for the water to boil so that you can make tea. Then later on everyone is sluggishly moving around trying to get their tents up and you’re sitting under your basha with your new best mate in the entire world, sharing the chocolate and boiled sweets from your rat pack, laughing at everything telling the ubiquitous, “I was in the beacons…….” story.

It’s only then that you realise that five years in the cadets have made you into something of a hard bastard.

Isn’t it?

Why, if you’re male and have an intellect, and are in your thirties are you bothering with women over twenty-five? Caveat that there are older women who can be intellectually satisfying, but they’re so rare as to not really enter into the equation. So you’re thirty-one, thirty-two, you’ve educated the fuck out of yourself, you’ve read widely and deeply, you know that you can get any eighteen to twenty-five year old woman just like that, you know that women your own age have the intellect of a goldfish, why, all other things being equal, do you not go for the pretty face?

This is basically what I said to J tonight. Okay so she has a bf, but she clearly likes him more, which is natural, he is more, I say this to Gman now and then: Sure, they, other guys, have more, but we are more and you know what, being more often gets you farther than having more. It usually won’t get you the relationship, she’s always going to go for financial security, but she’s going to be banging you on the side and you’re going to be getting more of her than her bf is. Truth.