The leader of the most powerful nation in the world is a feral oaf who nevertheless talks a degree of sense about migrants, trade deals in general, and the Brexit disaster in particular.
The leader of the only European nation ever to acquire and sustain a genuinely global empire is a half-baked robot who specialises in screwing up elections and trade negotations.
The most powerful trading bloc after the US – the European Union – is led by a Luxembourger tax evader, an Italian banker with vast clouds over his career past, and a former USSR Youth leader with a serial sausage habit. Only the last of these is accountable to an electorate, and those electors have told her politely that they think she should go.
The former USSR is, um, run by a former USSR secret policeman – a homo-erotic icon who likes to go topless while hunting bear, but who nevertheless runs rings round NATO at every opportunity.
The only nuclear power in the Middle East is dominated by a gobby yob whose idiotic assertions sound more like Nazism with every year. It is openly supported by the White House, and the US President’s son-in-law. The most heavily armed nation in the region stones women to death and hangs thieves in public. It is Britain’s biggest customer for arms.
The chief wannabe nuclear nation there believes that earthquakes are caused by mini-skirts. Together with the heavily armed women-stoners, it bankrolls the vast majority of Jihadist Islamic atrocities.
Black Africa is, with just two exceptions, run by a motley crew of despots and army generals with huge bank accounts in Switzerland.
And last but not least, the most populous nation in the world is run by an unelected dictator. It specialises in exporting things that break, garden lights that don’t give off light – and Chinese influence via the distress purchase of infrastructures. All the other nations above fall over their knickers to do business with this nation. My nation is employing it to build reactors, despite its record as having the most unsafe nuclear systems on the planet.
Is it possible that things could be better than this? I suspect so, but I doubt that any strategy would involve our soi-disant species Homo sapiens in its current form.
Don’t get me wrong: things could be a lot worse. The world could be run by crocodiles, for instance. Crocodiles are not nice: they eat each other and are generally solitary. They lay thousands of eggs at a time, which they bury in the sand. Most of the eggs don’t make it to adulthood – in fact, only 1 in 14 million does. This is what comes of burying your kids in the sand. Also they have not evolved in any way at all for 15 million years. That’s even worse than us.
A world under the tutelage of mice wouldn’t be much better. For one thing, the overpopulation problem would be considerably worse: leave two mice alone in a big house with food to eat, and within a year there’d be 131,258 of them. Mice reach sexual maturity at the age of four weeks. There are no paedophile mice; there simply isn’t time. Mice shit to an unbelievable degree: they shit in their food and on each other. And when the population gets out of control, as it always does, they fight to the death. It’s pretty chaotic on planet Mouse.
Elephants are alleged to be frightened of mice, but if so that’s the only thing they are scared of. Rabid feminists approve of elephants, because once the adult male has had his way with the girlies, he gets kicked out. Hence the term Rogue Male. Once kicked out, Jumbo Nomates spends his time destroying every available tree, swatting potential predators as if they were flies, and trumping loudly. If we didn’t cull elephants, sooner or later Africa would sink. However, before that happened, there’d be no trees left. The food chain would thus break down, and everyone would suffocate. That’s feminism for you.
You might think that, if the animals were in charge, there’d be no politics. Think again: most of the higher primates and pack animals have politics. Orangutans, for example, are run as dictatorships. But if the alpha male(s) don’t ensure the gammas are well fed, the alpha women mate with the betas to produced potential alphas, and they take over. It’s unpleasantly red in tooth and claw, but it is politics….almost Benthamite in fact, because it’s all about the greatest fulfilment of the greatest number. And there are no brown envelopes or brown-nosing involved: the best qualified get to run the show. It’s not ideal, of course…..get up a petition in Orangutania about (say) the uncertainty of the food supply and long hours involved, and democracy would be clubbed to death in very short order. If that reminds you of Man, then it’s not surprising: the Orangutan is our close relative.
It may also surprise you to know that (although we love to talk about “the ascent of Man” as if our genes were somehow superior) this simply isn’t true. A new and fascinating book The Tangled Tree by David Quammen records the history of how Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) was first discovered and then eventually accepted as the replacement for Darwin’s over-simplified tree of life. The Sun headline on this one is that genes are transferred by any “thing” that somehow finds its way into a host body: get a new strain of flu, and the bacteria involved will splice themselves into the host’s DNA before resistance and drugs wipe them out. HGT can also take place if you’re bitten by a midge, a mosquito, a snake, a spider, a rat and so on. The same is true of tapeworms.
Heredity is based as much on infection as the sexual transmission of genes. The modern human body has three times more bacterially derived cells than human cells. There is, in fact, no such thing as a discrete species. So there.
There is such a thing as a discreet species, but that’s certainly not us. When it comes to our influence on the planet, we are about as quiet as a 700 megaton bomb releasing full-base reggae into the atmosphere. And the reality, I strongly suspect, is that Earth as a planet (rather than a holiday resort) would be in much better shape if the last Great Plague had done for all of us. Sure, we have created art, music, beautiful buildings, television, Disneyland and all the rest of it, but we’re the only species that can enjoy it. Dogs can’t see what’s on a flat screen, which explains the dearth of canine cinemas. Cats hear music coming from a hifi or Iphone, but they circle round it looking for the orchestra. There are no reptilian collectors of art deco. You will not see hippo tourists staring up at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao: trust me, I’ve been there, and the rubber neckers are all human.
And so our search for a more community-regarding, discreet species to put in charge of the Earth continues. Except of course, the whole point is not to have anyone in charge. As soon as one species is introspective enough to imagine itself to be in charge, that’s when the trouble starts. What we need is some nice species largely devoid of engorged egos. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I have a favourite candidate in mind.
Robins, for example, look ever so cuddly. Cute little red breasts, a must for every seasonal greetings card, and stoical survivors of the hardest winters. But in fact, somewhere along the line a spin doctor looking for another sweet symbol of Christmas decided to give them that image. Robins are vicious, territorial and greedy. You don’t get to be that fat by sharing out the spoils. Put a bird table up in the garden, and just watch cock Robin kick everything else off it. No, a world giving influence to robins would make for lives that were nasty, brutish and short. Let’s face it, the robin – like every avian species – is just a flying dinosaur. We have more than enough human dinosaurs to be going on with, thank you.
Spiders aren’t the most loveable things on the planet, but they have several points in their favour. They don’t overthink stuff, and this results in a 100% absence of Harriet Harmans, Democrat activists, Momentum propagandists and Milton Friedmans in the arachnid world. They also have a diet rich in flies, so Spider Earth would be free of such vermin. Sadly, that same imagined Earth would be one non-stop candy-floss of cobwebs, spider nets and venomous bites. Also they have eight hairy legs, which is a tad extreme: if cows can manage with four, why can’t creepy-crawlies? At the very least, you’d think they could shave the bloody things.
What of the universally adored Bush Baby? Great big doe-like eyes, amusing ears and a largely vegetarian diet….who could ask for more? Well, the Bush Baby itself could for a start. Its eyes are too big for its sockets, and so it has had to evolve the neck structure in a way allowing the head to rotate 360°. As any highly-trained expert Exorcist can tell you, the ability to swivel a bonce through 360° is the trademark of a hobgoblin. I have been on our sun satellite for over seven decades, and if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s this: never trust a hobgoblin.
If a hobgoblin moves into the neighbourhood, sell fast and get out before property prices fall down the toilet. The hobgoblin works for the Dark Master Satan, and so it would only be a matter of time, if Bush Babies dominated, before the horrible sight of rising devils and their perfume turned the world into a veritable Hell of toxic pollution and malodorous farts.
You see, what we need is an animal which – despite being given a bum set of physical characteristics – has triumphed over those disadvantages without whingeing about them. A species that carries a cross, but doesn’t hit other people with it. And a being whose physical characteristics (while disadvantageous to itself) hold potential advantages for others. Both salt of the Earth, and a saint in the making.
I refer of course to the giraffe.
Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth. This makes them ideal lookouts and a quick way to enter a flat by the second floor window if you’re locked out. Their height makes it something of a trial for them to reach down and drink something (this is effected by a powerful factory-fitted pump) but ask yourselves this: have you ever heard a giraffe complaining about this profoundly daft bit of evolution? Of course not, because your giraffe is a stoical sort of cove.
They are also harmlessly bourgeois. New research conducted in Kenya shows that Giraffes prefer to eat meals in the company of friends. The new study found that they habitually dine with close chums, often creating supper-party groups when eating. This is prima facie evidence of their civilisation: in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if – with the right kind of social programme – these creatures could become exceptional restaurateurs. It would mean kitchens with higher ceilings, but it’d be worth it. The researchers went on to demonstrate the complex but nevertheless dynamic nature of giraffe social structures, suggesting a total rejection on their part of rigid ideology. That would be a major leap forward: and while the giraffe is not famous for its leaping, it is rightly famous for its abnormal speed of travel when rapid movement is required. Let’s be clear about this: your chances of social mobility are infinite if you’re lucky enough to be born Giraffa camelopardalis…..but the same cannot be said of humankind in Europe and the US.
There is something for everyone in the giraffe’s lifestyle. They live in herds of related females (applause from the Sisters) or bachelor herds of unrelated adult males, who fight with their necks alone. I mean c’mon here – how much damage can a neck do? It’s a pretty benign form of competition, reassuringly close to the soccer World Cup. The species gathers in large aggregations from time to time, doubtless to protest about perversions of the Rule of Law by the odd nasty giraffe. And whereas our politicians consistently fail to rise to the occasion, the giraffe is the only mammal able to do so purely by sitting down.
Almost no wild animal messes with a giraffe. Its kick – akin to that of a mule on steroids – will deter even a lion. Imagine the power of having Giraffa camelopardalis wipe the smile off faces belonging to Guy Verhofstadt, Jean-Claude Juncker and Mario Draghi. It would be Curtainsville for the European Union.
But aside from its protective instincts, most scientists accept that giraffes are gentle giants. They’re also very adaptable: believe it or not, the most successful captive breeding of the species takes place in Australia. If you can put up with Australia, then you must be the most tolerant animal in existence.
The downside of handing over supreme Earthling status to the giraffe is that it can’t be housetrained (every domicile would have to be a skyscraper) and it can’t speak, spell, draw or paint. However, twenty years ago a geneticist I sat next to at a New Year’s dinner party (which was, as it happens, devoid of giraffes) told me that Homo sapiens no longer has a gene pool big enough to effect evolution. Since then, The Tangled Tree offers us many clues as to how we might increase that pool.
On the whole, I think it would be a lot less painful if the birth canal of a giraffe rather than a human was used to effect the process of producing Giraffa Homo melior rectus. Giving birth to a human baby is enough of a struggle without adding two more legs and an unfeasibly long neck to the process. But accepting that, it could – literally – be a giant step forward for the third sphere from our nearest star.
Either way, enjoy your Sunday lunch. Dr Slog recommends that posts like this one should be taken regularly, but not too seriously.