THE ODYSSEY: Review of 2009

I guess now is a good time to look back over what was the year that was, the highs and lows of life on the road. If you can’t be bothered reading my blogs for the whole year (and who could blame you?) here’s 2009: An Earth Odyssey in a nutshell…

January 2009
Ah, January – the whizzbangshebang through South America… for the first two weeks I was on target and on schedule. But then The Caribbean reared it’s ugly head and well and truly stuffed me up for the next couple of months.

Countries Visited: 19
Running Total: 19


February 2009
February was a difficult month – just getting from St Vincent to Mexico required all my skill and dexterity, of which I have neither, which is probably why it took me a month, not the week I expected it to.

Countries Visited: 10
Running Total: 29


March 2009
It’s crazy to think that I spent the first few days of March visiting every country in Central America, and then spent pretty much the rest of the month trying to get to one – Cuba.. Made a HUGE mistake in trying to get there from Key West, should have gone from Cancun in Mexico, would have saved a s— load of time.

Countries Visited: 6
Running Total: 35


April 2009
A fond month of 2009 as I wrapped up warm in Halifax, Nova Scotia before taking a phenomenally fast trip across the Atlantic Ocean to meet up with my friends and family in Liverpool. Managed to get all the way to Greece before the month was out. Nice!

Countries Visited: 28
Running Total: 63


May 2009
The start of my downfall. Within just a few days I had polished off Europe and attempted to take a huge bite out of North Africa, a bite which ended up as a pathetic little nibble. The month ended in start-as-you-mean-to-go-on style with me being knocked back from Mauritania and failing to find any sensible way of getting to Cape Verde.

Countries Visited: 25
Running Total: 88


June 2009
The month from hell. It kicked off with six days in a Cape Verde jail cell and went downhill from there as I found myself trapped in the worst place in the world.

Countries Visited: 1
Running Total: 89


July 2009
Desperate to leave the damned island of Cape Verde, I was eventually rescued by a lovely chap in a sail boat who managed to deliver me safe and sound (despite Poseidon’s protestations) to Dakar in Senegal. Before the month was out I had managed to wing it all the way to Cote D’Ivoire.

Countries Visited: 7
Running Total: 96


August 2009
A good month on the road through West Africa, interrupted by a unexpected sojourn in Libreville waiting (once again) for a cargo boat that just refused to leave.

Countries Visited: 11
Running Total: 107


September 2009
I hadn’t been illegally detained for three months now, so the powers that be organised a surprise incarceration upon my arrival in the capital of Congo.. After I finally escaped I was bogged down attempting to renew my Angolan visa, but once I made it to Namibia, I was FLYING. Well, not really flying… I’m not allowed to.

Countries Visited: 6
Running Total: 113


October 2009
Possibly the most enjoyable month of travel, as I thundered pell-mell throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, fell in love with Madagascar and reached Mauritius in record-fast time.

Countries Visited: 11
Running Total: 124


November 2009
A silly and depressing month spent attempting to return to Africa from Mauritius and failing at every turn. The fact I missed out on visiting Seychelles particularly stung. Not a single new country to add my tally for the whole stinkin’ month.

Countries Visited: 0
Running Total: 124


December 2009
After a slow beginning in stuck in Comoros, December leapt into action when I had just two weeks to get from Dar-es-Salaam to Cairo via Rwanda and Somalia and, against all odds, I pulled it off. I also made it to Cairo.

Countries Visited: 11
Running Total: 133

“Graham’s World”: My Very Own TV Show Starts Tuesday!

Okay, Odyssey fans… this is it, the television show documenting my travels is being shown every TUESDAY at on the Nat Geo Adventure Channel, which is available in 40 countries across Asia and South America.  If you can get it, great.  If you can’t, you’re stuck with my YouTube videos until it gets broadcast on the BBC (fingers crossed) early next year!!

The eight episodes of season one cover the first 133 countries of The Odyssey Expedition – my journey from Uruguay to Egypt, starting on 1st January 2009 and finishing on 31st December 2009.

EPISODES:

1. From Argentina to Guyana

2. Caribbean Castaway

3. From Cuba to Tunisia

4. Arrested In Africa

5. African Rough Road

6. Congo Chaos

7. Africa Island Hop

8. Pyramids Or Bust

Hmm... are you following me?

As for the final 67 countries… (including Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea) Lonely Planet TV have just bagged first refusal on the second series… WATCH THIS SPACE!!!

How To Travel The World On The Cheap!

I’ve been stuck on the border with Papua New Guinea for the last few days, so not wanting to waste my time I made this here video for ya!

It’s set up so that EVERY CLICK results in money going to the charity WaterAid: so why not set up an auto-refresh program, such as this one for Internet Explorer or this one for Firefox, leave it running overnight and give give give without spending a penny!!

Enjoy! Share! Comment!

Here’s the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAbCgr6jJ_0

Day 883: A Breath of Fresh Air

02.06.11:

For somebody with my fun-seeking personality traits it may come as a shock to some of you that I’ve never knowingly taken an illegal drug.

The closest I’ve got was haplessly sharing a ‘Happy Pizza’ in Cambodia back in 2002: coming from the country that also has a ‘Happy Rifle Range’ I (rather naively) thought it would be the Cambodian equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal.  Well it wasn’t for kids and I didn’t get a toy, but do I have to concede: it did make me happy.

So despite all the travel, all the gigs, the random house parties and music festivals I’ve attended over the years, nobody has ever seen me smoke a joint, snort a line of cocaine or declare I can fly after taking acid.  I don’t need acid to fly, I have Ryanair.

Okay, some people may have seen me in a nightclub sweating like a madman and hugging random strangers while simultaneously attempting to chew my own face off, but that’s just how I dance.

If I get a little agitated when some narcotic is being passed around in my presence, it is not because of the existence of said narcotic, but because of the looks I get from my peers when I politely decline.  A kind of ‘do you think you’re better than us?’ look which I don’t really deserve.  Of course, I do think I’m better than them, but that’s only because my healthy arrogance leads me to believe I’m better than everyone… it has little or nothing to do with what they choose to suck into their own bodies.

So it may come as a further shock when I say that I am 100% in favour of the ending of prohibition and the legalisation of ALL drugs.  As soon as possible.  Obviously not to make my life easier, I don’t grow them, deal them or take them: but to make this world – the only planet we’ll ever know – a more peaceful place for everyone.  Everyone.

And, guess what?  There’s a whole bunch of powerful people who FINALLY agree with me…

BBC NEWS: GLOBAL WAR ON DRUGS HAS ‘FAILED’ SAY FORMER LEADERS

But (I hear you scream) drugs ruin people’s lives!!  Yes.  Yes they do.  But then so does falling in love with the wrong person, getting pregnant at 16, your boss being an utter bastard, eating too much, not eating enough, bad tattoos, plastic surgery, adultery, modern architecture, World of Warcraft, RELIGION!!! …but none of these things are illegal in the Free West.

Although Modern Architecture possibly should be.

I hope you don’t think I’m being unduly flippant here comparing drug addiction to adultery.  Look at the suicide statistics: drugs (if involved at all) are almost always a secondary factor after relationship breakdowns, mental illness or peer group isolation.  ‘They ruin people’s lives’ is an inept an excuse for keeping the status quo as when people say ‘There’s no point in getting rid of Hitler / Stalin / Pol Pot / Idi Amin / Trujillo / Pinochet / Milošević / Saddam Hussein / Colonel Gaddafi / Mugabe / Bono – because somebody else will just replace him.’  Don’t get me started on that one.

Humans do tremendously dangerous things in their everyday lives – they drive cars, climb ladders, breathe in all kinds of germs on The Underground, get drunk, change lightbulbs, eat undercooked meat, climb aboard a jet plane or take leaky wooden boats over high seas with no radio.  We can’t (and shouldn’t) stop them doing these things, but we can all work together to make these risky propositions a little less fraught – health and safety guidelines, for example.  The same should be true of drugs.

Mentally competent adults living in a free society should be able to claim 100% ownership of one thing: their own bodies.

Your own body should be the one thing that is inherently YOURS.  Whatever bonkers thing an educated, mentally competent adult wants to do to their own body – so long as it harms no others – should be the alpha and omega of human rights.  If we can’t claim ownership of our own faces, arms, legs, hearts and livers then we are nothing.  Your body is the one thing that every human – from the shoeless orphans of Kinshasa to the privileged toffs of Cambridge – has dominion over from birth, and that’s an authority that no other human should be able to take away.

We can’t get away with saying that everyone who has ever taken drugs is insane.  If that were the case, over a QUARTER of the British population would be certifiable.  And that’s just the people who didn’t lie on the survey.  There are millions of functioning cocaine users all over the UK.  Chances are you’re sitting less than 50 metres away from one RIGHT NOW.

Of course there is plenty of “well, I should be allowed to do what I want with my body, but other people – you know, stupid people – shouldn’t” being bandied around, but even with a monster ego like mine I couldn’t even think something as arrogant, well, not with a straight face.

But I come now to the crux of the argument: making something legal does not make it ‘right.  There are enough people out there who disagree with abortion – fair enough, nobody is going to force them to have one.  People don’t like horror films, fine – don’t watch them.  I can’t stand Russell Brand: happily I have a remote control.  When drugs are legalised – and I’m confident this is something that will happen in my lifetime – I will continue to pass on the joint to the next person.  I don’t smoke, I have never smoked, I hate smoking and I’m not going to take up something I detest just because it’s legal.  Did legalising homosexuality make otherwise completely heterosexual people gay?  Of course not.  I’m never going to degrade myself my snorting a line of legal cocaine any more than a holiday to Spain is going to make me want to fight a bull.

‘But we need to protect the children!’ and on that point, Mr. and Mrs. Knee-Jerk Reaction and I heartily agree.  But do the maths.  Governments around the world waste TRILLIONS of dollars trying to stop drugs entering their countries and locking up dealers.  Turn that around.  With legalisation, regulation and taxation governments would not only make billions in tax, they would save billions by cutting the prison population by up to THREE-QUARTERS, all but eradicating drug-related crime, as well as the massive savings that would be made on things like policing, customs and legal aid.

All that extra wonga could be spent on IMPORTANT THINGS like education, health care, and stopping terrorists blowing stuff up.  It could be spent not on protecting a 21 year old accountant from himself, but on educating kids on the real dangers of drugs (like the problems cannabis can cause to a developing brain) and on severely punishing people who give or sell drugs to minors.  Hell: there’d be enough empty cells to throw them in.

At the moment the only people befitting from the status quo are the drug dealers.  If anyone can suggest to me a criminal activity that is as profitable or as easy as dealing drugs I’m all ears.  A note to would-be jewel thieves: you’re in the wrong business, mate.

And don’t give me that hackneyed old crap about some drugs being ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than others.  The ongoing Mexican Drug war last year resulted in the cold blooded MURDER of more people than ANY OTHER WAR CURRENTLY BEING FOUGHT IN THE WORLD TODAY.

And where does most of the cannabis – soft lovely squishy friendly hippy cannabis – that’s in the United States at the very moment come from??

Mexico, of course!!  Hey stoners!  That’s a f–k load of blood you’ve got on your hands!  Well done you!

The time has come for us all to band together for the good of ourselves, our communities, our civilisation… and support this movement to rid the world not of drugs (because that is proving impossible) but of drug lords. And the only way to do that is by legalising the whole stinkin’ lot of them.

Yes, I agree that drugs are not the best of ideas, but all we are doing with this daft prohibition business is making a bad situation worse.  Drugs exist.  They always have and they always will.  While vast numbers of humans on this planet want to try them, we’re never going to stop them.

If I want to dick around with the chemical composition of my own brain, (MY brain, not yours) no farmer in Colombia, mother in Mexico, kid from Moss Side or policeman in Baltimore should have to sacrifice their lives to the process that makes that possible.

I decided at a young age to never take drugs – not for religious reasons, not for health reasons, not because I’m a party pooper, but because the whole dirty business – and it’s nothing but a business – made me feel profoundly uncomfortable.

Perhaps I saw a future in which I could stand up against hypocritical politicians such as Barack Obama and David Cameron and point out just how much blood they have on both hands.

Their left hand for giving money to drug dealers when they were younger – something they both admit – and their right hand for supporting the profits and business practices of today’s drug lords by keeping drugs illegal.  Whose interests are these bastards representing?  Us?  Or the drug lords… and the global trail of death and misery that they leave in their wake?

BBC NEWS: THE PRICE OF MEXICO’S ‘DRUG WAR’

Even as the war on drugs continues to pile up the casualties, drug rehab program options for addicts everywhere continue to increase.

One thing is for sure: my hands are clean. I’m putting them up in the air and surrendering. The war against drugs has been lost. It’s time to declare war against the drug lords: a war we can win without firing a single shot.

Day 884: A Greenpeace of My Mind

03.06.11:

There’s a movie that I implore you all to watch: Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man. It tells the story of an incredibly stupid guy called Timothy Treadwell who thought that the Grizzly Bears of Alaska were his friends. He treated them like pets, like members of his family… and they ate him.

A true, cautionary tale that we should all draw some important lessons from. One is that wild carnivorous animals are not our friends; they deserve our respect and awe, but to them we are nothing but walking slabs of meat. The other is so self evident that it hardly needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: don’t f–k with nature, because nature will f–k with you. And you don’t need Dr Frankenstein to explain that you don’t stand a chance.

I’m in Australia at the moment watching with horror as the so-called ‘Liberal’ party (something they are anything but) openly questions the scientific FACT of climate change. Yep, these elderly selfish cretins are so moronic that they honestly think they can change the amount of CO­2 in the atmosphere, the temperature of the sea and, yes, THE WEATHER by voting against it. Shocking, yes. In the UK, there is a cross-party consensus concerning the science of climate change: there may be disagreements on the methods that should be employed to tackle this future ill, but at least they all agree that it’s actually happening and that it’s all our fault.

It’s time to stop asking what Planet Earth can do for us and instead focus on what we can do for Planet Earth. ‘Stop needlessly filling the atmosphere with carbon’ would be a good start.

There are stark parallels between the Australian Liberal party and Timothy Treadwell. Both think they can trump the laws of nature, both believe that they shoo reality away with a bizarre gust of optimism (it’ll be right, mate) and both think that the scientific consensus of the world is wrong and that they are right – with no evidence, no expertise and no scientific understanding or endeavour.

But there ARE crocodiles, and if you swim in the river, chances are they’ll eat you. Misunderstanding the evidence will not save your life.

But this issue is bigger than crocodiles and grizzly bears, it’s an epic tragedy that will affect the lives of everyone and everything on our lovely little planet. Such high drama is worthy of one fella: the Bard of Avon. So I hope you don’t mind me stretching a metaphor like so much Lycra over a massive pair of buttocks, and I also hope you recall a little Shakespeare from high school…

The Liberal party of Australia have nailed their colours to the mast: they and their gormless supporters have proven themselves to be greedy, easy-manipulated, cowardly, unimaginative villains in the grand tradition of epic tragedies of yore. They are the Macbeths of the political landscape, constantly screaming ‘yeah, but what’s in it for ME?’: grand, obnoxious, selfish and guaranteed to come a cropper by the end of Act V.

Then there are villains equally as hopeless, but not necessarily driven by inherent greed or selfishness: they are the Hamlets of the world, caught short by their inaction, indecisiveness and procrastination. They are the politicians and representatives that have seen the evidence, know something must be done, but don’t have the grit necessary to take the bull by the horns and kick it in the bollocks.

The Hamlets’ monumental inability to deal decisively with the ‘something’ that was rotten in the state of Denmark (The Copenhagen Climate Change Summit of 2009, anyone?) has lead them on a merry path to damnation. They could have done something, anything, but they didn’t – they just put off the decision for another few years. Nice one, guys – it’s not like every day it’s getting worse or nuthin’!

Like their namesake, it’s not just the Hamlets that will pay the consequences of their inaction: it’s everyone around them. Instead of seizing the opportunity to cut out the rot before it spreads, they went fishing. Unchecked, that rot will ooze like black tar all over our otherwise groovy planet, until there isn’t a single human, animal, plant or insect that isn’t affected.

But what I find most concerning are the Othellos of this global Shakespearean tragedy: those that have seen the evidence, burn with a desire to do something about it, can do something about it, but go about it in entirely the wrong way. While not the obvious villains of the piece, they turn out to do just as much damage, moreso perhaps. Greenpeace, I’m looking at YOU.

Greenpeace is the poster boy for the environmental movement, but, sadly, it singularly fails in its task of – there is no other way to put this – saving the world. By that I mean the world as we know it, of course the good ship Earth will outlive all of its present life-forms (including us), but (given the choice) I would prefer that ‘our world’ lasted another 100,000 years rather than a mere 100.

How should Greenpeace go about saving the world? By focussing all of its efforts towards stopping the damage we are doing to the atmosphere and encouraging people to have fewer kids. That’s it. Simple, but by no means easy. A noble goal that anyone in their right mind would support.

But what’s this? GM crops? Nuclear power stations? DDT? Whaling?? No offence guys, but who given the scale of the rather monumental task ahead, don’t you think that you should be, you know, concentrating your efforts? If we allow the Macbeths of the world to continue to wreak havoc on a global scale, there won’t be enough crops, genetically modified or otherwise, to feed the unsustainably-increasing population of the world.

Then again, I may find it an unnecessary distraction, but it’s not the division of Greenpeace’s labour that I have a real issue with. I guess pushing for sustainable farming and preserving virgin rainforests have their benefits to the overall scheme of avoiding all things Armageddon.

My real issue is Greenpeace’s inability to push the Hamlets into action and whip the Macbeths into submission. Note I used the word ‘inability’ there: it’s not like I think they don’t want to, it’s that I believe they can’t. Why? Because they keep kicking away the one weapon that they desperately need to slay the Tony Abbots of the world. That weapon, ladies and gentleman, is SCIENCE.

Greenpeace has an uneasy relationship with science. They seem to see it as an enemy, possibly because Greenpeace activists are, by-and-large, drawn from the Storms of the world rather than the Tim Minchins.

While Greenpeace continues to battle scientific consensus and the very foundations of scientific reasoning, the impasse will remain, while the impasse remains the atmosphere ain’t getting any cleaner.

Greenpeace’s quixotic battle against Genetically-Modified crops is one of their more bizarre and counter-productive crusades. Joining forces with the likes of The Sun newspaper and David Icke, they denounce GM crops as ‘Frankenstein Food’ and make claims (utterly refuted by all scientific studies) that it causes cancer.

Newsflash, people: you know dogs? Yeah, dogs: those annoying yappy shit-machines that bring love and support to the olfactorily challenged?

Genetically. Modified. Wolves.

Over thousands of years of selective breeding we now have a magical cornucopia of doggie breeds, from the Chihuahua to the Doberman. We did that! Humans! Meddling with nature! Woohahahaha!

You know Brussels sprouts? Those nasty little orbs of solidified fart that your auntie forces you to eat at Christmas?

Genetically. Modified. Cabbage.

As is cauliflower. And broccoli for that matter.

If it wasn’t for humans meddling with the forces of nature, Chihuahuas and Brussels Sprouts would not exist. And neither would Friesian cows, Clydesdale horses, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, garden strawberries, Granny Smith apples or King Edward potatoes. We made ’em all, through years of selective breeding, modifying the genetic code like crazed Dr. Frankensteins intent on world domination. But with CABBAGE!

Have these marvellous inventions increased the amount of suffering in the world? Have they caused untold damage to the delicate global eco-system? Have they wiped out civilisations, pulled apart communities or given people cancer? No. No, they haven’t. Is Greenpeace’s objection to GM crops based on any scientific reasoning whatsoever? No. But what they are saying is this: scientists are not to be trusted, go with how you feel about something, not the actual evidence.

Nice one, Greenpeace! So let’s ignore the research carried out by NASA, Universities all around the world, the Met Office and the Royal Society in favour of our gut instincts. You can see where this is going…

And then there is the spectre of nuclear power. Now while I agree that the world would be a much more lovelier place if it wasn’t for nuclear weapons, I cannot say the same about nuclear power. 75% of France’s power is nuclear. If they upped their ante on renewable power and got everyone to convert to electric cars, they could be the first carbon-neutral country in the world in just five years. Not bad for a country of 63 million people.

And why should we not be using nuclear power? Because it is perceived to be dangerous. But how dangerous? As unhealthy as making men dig in South American coal mines? As dangerous as a Qatari gas tanker filled to the brim with ultra-flammable fuel sailing through Somali pirate waters? As bad for the environment as deep-sea oil drilling? As bad for the economy as relying on the tyrannical regimes of the Middle East for our electricity? According to all the available data, no. According to Greenpeace, yes.

Again after Fukushima (as after Chernobyl) there was much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth from the environmental brigade, and (as after Chernobyl) their apocalyptic fantasies failed to come true. More coal miners died in the Pike River mine disaster in New Zealand last year than died tackling the partial meltdown in Fukushima. Let’s put this into context: this plant was hit by one of the five biggest earthquakes in recorded history. It was then hit by a 14 metre wall of water: an unprecedented attack in the history of nuclear power.

And what is the reported death toll from the clean-up operation? One. Yup. One person shuffled off this mortal coil – and that was from a heart attack. There is a leakage of radioactive isotopes around the immediate area, but can we please put this into context? 25,000 people died on that awful day in March, and so far not a single person has been killed by radiation poisoning. The Fukushima exclusion zone (at its height) was 20km around the plant. Compare that to the 80-square-mile (210 km²) “kill zone” surrounding the blown Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. So far two people have been hospitalised by radiation poisoning in Fukushima. 500 people have been hospitalised in Europe from eating ORGANIC CUCUMBERS.

I can’t stress this enough: just because nuclear power is complicated, it doesn’t mean it is inherently more dangerous than coal, oil, gas or even – yes – ORGANIC CUCUMBERS. Fossil fuel – even when NOTHING GOES WRONG – is substantially worse for the miners, transporters, the global economy, local environment and, of course, the whole bloody planet.

Nuclear power could save us, save the whole goddamn world, but is Greenpeace pushing for investment, research, safety procedures, more plants? No. They’re pushing to have no plants whatsoever. Why? Because scientists ain’t to be trusted.

Isn’t that EXACTLY what batshit crazies like Tony Abbot, Sarah Palin and THE ENTIRE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY are saying? Don’t trust the hard science, don’t peruse the facts, just come up with your own judgement based on how you feel.

This makes me furious – and I’m not even a scientist. I haven’t spent my life drilling ice cores in the Antarctic, corralling weather balloons, studying glacier retreat in the Himalayas, analysing meta-data from temperature monitoring satellites all over the world… I haven’t done anything to make you live longer, invented anything to make your days more entertaining nor perfected a formula that will make you more comfortable. Scientists have, and despite the fact that we’re an ungrateful bunch of bastards, science is not going to give up on us – it’s going to keep on searching for a cure for cancer, working out new and wonderful ways for us to communicate, it’s going to keep the internet running smoothly, our planes in the air, food on our shelves, power in the grid and our air-bags ready to spring from nowhere and save our lives.

This isn’t Lord of the Flies. If we burn down This Island Earth, a helpful ship isn’t going to come and rescue us. There isn’t going to be a Deus Ex Machina ending to all this, since if there ever was a Deum (which I doubt) he packed his bags and left this place a long time ago my friend.

The environmental movement, if it is to drown out the non-committal drone of the Hamlets and the ignorant bluster of the Macbeths, must begin to use scientific data more honestly. Stop cherry-picking, stop ignoring pertinent and demonstrable facts just because they don’t suit your world-view; and for heaven’s sake, stop appeasing these c—s in the oil industry by giving them ANY room to manoeuvre.

At the moment Greenpeace, like Othello, is its own worst enemy. They are playing right into the hands of the oil barons, by believing half-understood rumour over demonstrable fact. If only Othello, instead of slaying Desdemona, just listened to her – trusted her – they could have teamed up, destroyed Iago together and exploded his nefarious scheme.

But Othello, like Hamlet and Macbeth, ends in tragedy. He doesn’t listen to reason, he doesn’t even bother to independently examine the evidence, he just acts on impulse, emotion and a twisted sense of personal justice. We don’t have time for such games. The stakes are too high. The anti-science bias of the environmental movement has to end, and it has to end now, for all our sakes – even those who are too pig-ignorant or pig-headed to see what’s coming.

Day 885: The Frog and The Scorpion

04.06.11:

It cracks me up that so much positive emphasis is put on stuff that is ‘natural’.  Talk to your average punter in the street and they’ll invariably make the assertion that the more natural something is, the better.  The fact that arsenic, earthquakes and cancer are 100% natural and that most things human beings do is pretty goddamn unnatural seems to idly pass them by.  We should be getting back to nature, they say, whereas I say – much in the manner of Kate Hepburn in The African Queenthat ‘nature’ is what we are here to rise above.

Nearly everything you do in your waking life is magnificently unnatural, and rightly so.  You get up and eat cereal covered in cow’s milk (eek!) – which is rather unnatural.  You then brush your teeth with unnatural fibres, put on clothes woven with unnatural materials, get in your unbelievably unnatural car, drive on an unnatural road, go to work in a completely and utterly unnatural building and sit on your unnatural computer all day unnaturally communicating with similarly unnaturally-inclined people all over the world.

You come home, pet your unnatural dog, eat your unnaturally heated dinner off a plate that I’m fairly sure didn’t grow on a tree and watch stuff on your comprehensively unnatural widescreen TV before – if you’re lucky – doing some devilishly natural things in the bedroom.

Let me break this scenario down: we shouldn’t be able to drink cow’s milk.  Most people in the world are lactose intolerant beyond the age of around four.  No mature animal in the natural world drinks milk squirted out of another species.  Your toothbrush is made from oil found up to a mile below the surface of the Earth and I have to say I haven’t seen too many cats drilling for oil recently (despite what Eddie Izzard says).  The same is true of the nylon and polyester in our clothes and the fact we wear clothes in the first place – do chimps wear pyjamas?  Only when they’re selling PG Tips.

As for cars, roads, buildings, computers, the internet: hells bells!  How much more unnatural do you want to be??

As I said yesterday, your dog is not natural, it’s a genetically modified wolf.  You think that in the natural world bees make a ridiculous amount of honey for FUN?  More than they would ever possibly need?  Of course not: we did that, dicking around in our apiaries, poking around with their queens and generally meddling with powers we cannot possibly comprehend.

Woohahahahahaha!

What other animals own Playstations, fly aeroplanes, race each other on the backs of other animals, play sports, read books, brew beer, trade money, go skydiving, undergo chemotherapy, use contraception, launch telescopes into space, pay taxes, look after the disabled, produce Mars bars or go Scuba diving?

Are any of these things natural?  No.  Are any of these things good?  Hell Yes.

But for some reason (marketing, I’d say) the world ‘natural’ has become synonymous with ‘good’.  Funny how when things are perceived as good they are called ‘natural ingredients’, whereas they when they are perceived as bad they are ‘harmful chemicals’.  What’s the hell is this NaCl doing on my chips…?!  Grr…

The most unnatural things we do are associated with medicine.  In the natural world, an impoverished family has a child, it dies.  In the natural world, if a child is born blind, it dies.  In the natural world 1 in 3 human births result in the death of the child or the mother.  We don’t live in a goddamn natural world.  And thank f—k for that!

The horrible truth is that the ‘natural’ reaction to the news that your wife has been unfaithful is to kill the other guy and give your wife a damn good raping.  Civilised?  No – not by a long chalk, but at least it would be ‘natural’.

I can’t state this enough: civilisation is not natural.  You want nature?  Check out the warring tribes of Papua New Guinea, the thousands of Indian children who die every year from diarrhoea or the systematic rape of woman in Darfur.  I’m sorry, says the scorpion as he sinks to his death, it’s my nature…

Isn’t it interesting that while the Catholic Church is happy to condemn the unnatural-ness of contraception, they have little to say about how incredibly unnatural welfare states are.  The very same welfare states that ensure the survival of unwanted or poverty-stricken children produced as a indirect consequence of the Church’s unwarranted annexation of the reproductive systems of half the human race.  Half, mind you, and – of course – it’s never their half, is it?

While the Pope is content to live his life steeped in unnatural trimmings – and I’m not just talking about his hat – and go so far as to profess SUPER-natural abilities, he (and many religious and prejudiced people of his ilk) see the completely 100% NATURAL fact that a good number of us humans are attracted to members of the same sex (as are a good proportion of dogs, sheep, penguins, fruit flies, etc…) as ‘unnatural’ and therefore ‘immoral’.

Just in case you really believe that humans invented homosexuality for a laugh (possibly with the intent of making Baby Jesus cry), I would really like you to read up about our closest cousin, the Bonobo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonobo.  I think you’ll find the information under the heading ‘Social Sexual Behaviour’ most illuminating.

And if that’s not enough for you, the good people at Wikipedia have put together a marvellous list of all the gay animals it can get its grubby little hands on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals.  Be warned, it’s not a comprehensive list: there are at least 1,500 species – mammals, insects, birds, lizards – you name it – that, for one reason or another, sometimes prefer to bowl from the pavilion end.

This bumbling adherence to the mantra of “natural = good, unnatural = bad” is overly-simplistic, morally abhorrent and intellectually bankrupt.  It needs to be stopped, forthwith!  If people find the idea of two men going at it hammer and tongs distasteful or are haunted by the fact that given a certain angle and a certain light they themselves might be ‘turned’, they should just admit it – to hide behind the old lie of ‘it’s not natural’ is not just cowardly – it’s demonstrably wrong.

But in this world we live in, so desperate are we to condemn others for the choices made for them by Mother Nature, so pathetic our need to one-up each other, that we have made the word ‘unnatural’ synonymous with the monstrous, the perverted, the subversion of civilisation… when it should mean anything but.  As Hobbes pointed out a long time ago, life for humans in our natural state is brutish, nasty and short.

We live in a world of pernicious memes: viruses of the mind.  And while ad men conning us with their ‘100% natural ingredients’ is just a bit of fun, the flip side of that way of thinking takes us to some very dark places indeed.  In short, some natural things are great, others are not so great.  The same goes for unnatural things.  You can’t, and shouldn’t, use something being ‘unnatural’ as an reason to espouse fear or hatred – especially when the activity in question occurs all over the natural world.

The maddest thing about all this is that when you think about it long enough, nothing we do is really that unnatural: everything on this planet is made of naturally-occurring elements and isotopes.  We just find new combinations and uses for them… using our highly evolved brains and opposable thumbs.

In fact, the only thing we can talk of as being 100% unnatural isn’t to be found here in this old plane of reality.  The only truly unnatural thing is the supernatural.  And as such – thankfully – it only exists as a quirk of the human imagination.  But (naturally!) that’s another story…

Days 974-984: Conspiracy Nut Cornflakes

01.09.11-11.09.11:

I was a kid in the eighties. I grew up with the distinct possibility that at any moment the Russians might take a dislike to the latest Madness single or something and destroy the entire world. Films like Red Dawn and When The Wind Blows didn’t help. My brother Alex and I would waste entire summers digging fallout shelters (which invariably ended up as two foot deep puddles of mud) and learning to fend for ourselves in the field across the road, seeing if we could live off ‘rations’ of sugar and ketchup sachets stolen from Little Chef, you know: just in case.

And then one night, suddenly and unexpectedly, the Berlin Wall collapsed. All that fear, all the paranoia and all the neuroses that the Cold War had instilled in my and my parents’ generation had gone. The sword of Damocles that had dangled menacingly above my head throughout my formative years vanished. Whoosh, kaput, hooray.

Soon afterwards I turned 11 years old. The nineties had begun. From then until the age of 22 I lived life free of that horrible feeling, the feeling that everything and everyone I know and love might be taken away at any time with the push of a button. The feeling that somebody who I don’t know, who doesn’t know me, might well murder me and my family for no other reason than madness, utter madness.

All I needed to be is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Life rarely gives many certainties, except death and taxes, but as the IRA dwindled away, the possibility of me being senselessly blown to Smithereens by a faceless menace seemed to diminish as the years went on.

From November 1989 to September 2001, things got better and better. The more I learned about history and politics the more I became convinced that, in the words of Bill and Ted, the best place to be is here… and the best time to be is now.

Compared with the adolescence of anyone born before 1900 (why are all 14 of my siblings dead?), anyone during WWI (why are all my friends dead?), anyone during WWII (why are all my people dead?), any one of the Baby Boomers (why is every living thing on the planet dead?) or any of the Generation X-ers (imagine being a teenager in the eighties – ack! The humanity!).

Compared to that lot, my (MTV) generation had it made: great music, great films, great video games, satellite TV, the INTERNET… we were still some distance from World Peace Day, but for me, getting drunk and annoying girls in Liverpool, everything was peachy.

And then 19 psychos, armed only with airline tickets and box cutters, changed the world.

Like millions of others, I had stood on the roof of the World Trade Centre before it was destroyed. But unlike millions of others, I was in Ahmedabad just days before the 2002 massacre. When I visited Bali later that same year, I spent every night in the Sari Club. A few months later it was gone. As was the Casa de España in Casablanca, a place that me and my friend Dan frequented on our trip to that city.

I had been to the wrong places, just not at the wrong time.

I travel a lot, it’s statistically highly likely that stuff like this is going to happen, but what really bothered me was that same creeping dread I experienced as a child – the faceless horror that could take everything from me – was returning… and then the bombings in Madrid and London brought it home that, like in the 1980s, nowhere was safe.

Anybody who has been following my progress over the last couple of years can imagine my response to that feeling. I, like the good people of NY who swept the streets after 9/11 and the noble Londoners who continued taking the tube to work after 7/7, refuse to be terrorised. I refuse to retreat back into childhood, start jumping at shadows or freaking out every time I see an Arab with a backpack. In a battle of wills between me and Osama Bin Laden, you know what? I won. He and his group of murderous idiots and psychopathic zealots didn’t stop me travelling the world. They didn’t even stop me visiting Afghanistan.

But there are people out there who are suitably terrorised and freaked out. For the last ten years they’ve been fighting a losing battle against the forces of reason, attempting to push a square peg into a round hole, getting the hammer out because the pieces of the jigsaw don’t fit. Like the mother watching her son in the parade and wondering why everybody else is marching out of step with her Johnny, they suffer from tunnel vision, only see what they want to see and ignore all the evidence to the contrary.

They are the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

I find them an annoyance, but not a particularly dangerous one: unlike climate change conspiracy theorists who are doing real-world damage to my only planet. So I’ve not really talked about the 9/11 ‘truthers’ or their crazy notions on my blog. I didn’t really want to give their lunatic views a public airing, not least because they’ve got the entire internet to write up their crackpot theories (mysterious how nobody stops them eh?) and I can’t be bothered vetting all the abusive comments I would (not doubt) receive.

But sometimes people bring the fight to you, and you know I’m more than happy to defend my corner.

So, grab your popcorn and adjust your reading specs, here we go…

On the 25th August 2011, “Joe” wrote:

For the most part you’re spot on, but how do you deny the 9/11 truthers? Buildings don’t pancake unless they are demolished with explosives, building 7 didn’t get hit but it dropped perfectly into it’s own footprint. There was NO plane in the pentagon or on the ground in the Virginia field. You do understand the first law of thermodynamics right? Planes don’t vanish on impact. America went to Afghanistan within a month, no trial, no discussion, nothing. Since when does anyone KNOW who committed a crime with no ACTUAL evidence. The invasion of Iraq was completely based on lies, and no one denies it. We have been fighting a boogie man for over 10 years now, for what?? Do you really believe this al-queda (which is a known CIA asset, as well as bin Laden) outfit is so powerful that EVERY rich and powerful nation on earth can’t stop them in a DECADE! It only took four years to stop Hitler! We find bin laden, the very REASON we have blown trillions of dollars and ended hundreds of thousands of lives, and we KILL him without questioning him!!? Then show NO proof and within a day throw him into the FUCKING ocean!! What kind of protocol is that!? I think you are a very smart and experienced person, so how could you possibly believe any of this? You admit that the powers that be lie all the time in your blogs, so why would you believe any of this crap when it’s so blatantly obvious?

To which I replied:

I “deny” the 9/11 truthers for the same reason I “deny” mother goose: because it’s absolute hogwash!!

The world is run by inept, ignorant and barely-qualified politicians… NOT moustache-twiddling James Bond-villain-esque criminal masterminds. Then again, I don’t know which proposition is scarier…!

Which stirred up the hornet’s nest.  Joe wrote:

So you think a ballsy gang of ubermuslims are the real supervillians? outwitting the world, always a step ahead of the intelligence agencies, able to run a commercial airliner into the pentagon (the most heavily fortified building on earth with the capability of shooting rockets out of the sky) and make it vanish upon impact. These James Bomb esque baddies are so well organized they don’t even need banks or money (the CIA is capable of freezing anyone on earth’s assets, something they have done to many a dictator and despot) , they must communicate telepathically as well (considering the coalition of the willing basically has a monopoly on transmitted communication and has been intercepting com since pre WW2) and i guess they have a clone army of super soldiers considering they have withstood the 200,000+ man strong force of America Inc and her lapdogs and mercenaries (the most expensive, powerful, and technologically advanced fighting force in the history of mankind) for over 10 years.

that makes more sense to you than some VERY powerful men who control the oil industry, the banks, the military industrial complex, and world business wanting to grab more power?

Oh bugger it, methinks, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  He might yet be sane…  So I replied:

  1. Since I don’t live in the Marvel comic universe, I don’t believe in supervillians. The very concept is as laughable as Dr. Evil’s sharks “with frikkin laser beams on their heads!”.
  2. ‘Always’ one step ahead? Once was enough my friend, once. 9/11 was a pretty low-fi operation.
  3. The Pentagon can shoot rockets out of the sky? Really?! I thought they retired Reagan’s Star Wars project. But still, rockets and planes are two rather different things (rockets, being packed with explosives, tend to blow up when you hit them, planes don’t).
  4. Magic! The plane vanished did it? Where you there? Did you sift through the debris? Are you an air-crash investigator? And where, pray tell, are the people who were on board? Would you mind explaining to me (or even better – their families) where they are? I’m sure they’d like to know…!
  5. The CIA can freeze anybody’s assets can they? That’s news to the bankers in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Nigeria. I better tell them.
  6. If the Americans have the monopoly on communication, why on Earth did they invent the internet? Shot themselves in the foot there, methinks. You better watch what you say on this site, ‘they’ might come and get ya! Like ‘they’ came for the makers of ‘Loose Change’. Oh, hang on… no, no ‘they’ didn’t. Silly ‘they’. Missed a trick there, like not being able to assassinate Castro… when he was in a coma(!).
  7. Not sure what you’re getting at with the ‘clone army’ malarkey, but if you’re talking about Al Qaeda, well, they’re not exactly Darth Sidious are they? Last time they tried to blow up something in the UK, they ended up getting their car bomb towed and setting themselves on fire. As for the Afghans, they’ve been kicking the arse of empires since 1841. They even chopped off Sean Connery’s head, which is more than Blofeld ever did.
  8. Yes, there ARE some very powerful men out there. The remarkable thing is that they are ALL utterly rubbish at keeping all the horrible things they do a secret… but they are incredibly good at getting away with it. Why? Well, I don’t know, Joe… maybe it’s because people are too busy wasting their time pursuing mad conspiracies that make no sense. We have NO EVIDENCE that 9/11 was an inside job other than hearsay and conjecture… don’t forget: we’d only need ONE piece of concrete evidence to bring a court case against Bush and his cronies, one whistleblower, one disgruntled employee, one payslip, one receipt, one unambiguous photo, one little piece of CCTV footage…

One little thing to bring down the entire Republican party, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin… and oh what a joy that would be. Sadly, that one little thing doesn’t exist. There’s nothing, even after 10 years. Not a dicky bird. This is the same government that couldn’t even get away with stealing a few bits of paper from the Watergate hotel. And while people’s attention is focussed on this garbage, the REAL conspirators get away with in BROAD DAYLIGHT!!

Honestly: you can look their activities up on Wikipedia and everything!

Some homework for ya:

  1. Union Carbide. Bhopal. Investigate.
  2. Find out where the $60,000,000,000+ worth of Iraqi ‘rebuilding’ contracts went. The Iraqis would love to know.
  3. Coca-Cola. Colombia. Murders. Nasty. Get them to pay compensation to the widows.
  4. Find out why on Earth some ex-Nazi rocket engineers were paid by tobacco companies in the 70s to manufacture doubt in the popular imagination that smoking leads to lung cancer (Hint: they did such a good job, their arguments are STILL being used to cast doubt on the otherwise irrefutable science of climate change).
  5. BHP Biliton, War in Zaire (DR Congo), copper prices. TELL PEOPLE!
  6. Find out Who Killed The Electric Car. Hate them forever.
  7. What links Agent Orange with the American farming industry?
  8.  So when did Donald Rumsfeld exactly leave the board of Halliburton, it being a blatant conflict of interest, of course…
  9. Which American politician (and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, bizarrely enough) flew out of Jakarta mere days before Indonesia invaded East Timor?
  10. Talking of East Timor, what was it that Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said when people were being massacred on the streets and Jose Ramos-Horta pleaded for help?
  11. Find out how ONE MAN reduced the value of the British pound by 25% IN A DAY.
  12. Give me a rough estimate of how much money the Nigerian government has stolen (by its own admission) from its own people since 1967.
  13. Find out who gave Ethiopia the bombers to destroy Massawa in Eritrea… and why.
  14. Tell me some of the high-jinks the Portuguese got up to before leaving Mozambique.
  15. Exactly how much of Italy’s media is owned by its Prime Minister?

That’ll do for a start. I have more.

I thought that would be the end of it, but then I haven’t been frequenting too many conspiracy forums recently… I kinda forgot that you can’t reason people out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into.  Joe wrote:

  1. You must believe in supervillians if you think a rag tag gang of afghans with a budget of about 1/100000th that of the US and her allies is capable of holding the whole damn world hostage
  2. Not once, 5 times that day (supposedly) and then for 10 straight years. Do you really believe a few arabs with box cutters could really subdue 5 airplanes? the 100s of people on those planes sat aside and just let that happen? Come on, you can’t even get into a cockpit on a commercial plane, never would’ve happened
  3. I didn’t say from space, but of course america and especially the pentagon itself has anti missile defense systems. A plane is much larger and moves much slower than a missile, therefore they shouldn’t have had any problem whatsoever taking that plane down well before it maneuvered (while flying over Washington, DC) to street level and crashed into a relatively short building. a basically impossible feat
  4. Do yourself a favor by looking at a photo of the perfectly round hole in the pentagon and the “wreckage” that was in the field. Then type “plane crash” into google photo to see what an actual plane crash looks like. I don’t have to be an aircrash investigator, the only qualification you need is sight to know that there ISN’T a plane in the pentagon or on that field. As for the families, they were probably killed, just like the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis.
  5. Yes, the CIA def can freeze assets. They recently froze syrian president Assads’, Gaddafi’s, gbagbo’s (ivory coast), mubaraks, Saddams, the list goes on. They do it whenever they want to. There is no telling what their real agenda is or what kinds of backroom deals they make with various world leaders but there is no doubt that if they deem it necessary they can and will
  6. I know you’ve been to Egypt, Turkey, and China, three places (among many) that have restricted the internet (in Egypt’s case completely shut it down, which fueled the revolution). The internet isn’t exactly the free speech untouchable force it’s played up as. Governments shut down websites all the time.
  7. I mentioned the clone army because only an infinite clone army would have the manpower to force a 10+ year war with the entire G20. We aren’t fighting Afghanistan by the way, they are actually our “ally” in this endeavor, our “enemy” is some faceless ghost army of terrorists that can be everywhere at once and have endless supply lines the world over
  8. There is an absolute MOUNTAIN of evidence. 1000s of structural engineers, physicists, first responders, eyewitnesses, military insiders, computer simulations, the entire history of steel buildings (never has a steel building fallen because of fire, NEVER), common sense (why did building 7 fall? why no planes? why would the building fall perfectly into it’s footprint? (something ONLY possible with a controlled demolition) who had the most to gain? (Dick Cheney (as you must know) was the CEO of Halliburton the day before he swore into office. Of course i don’t have to tell you Halliburtons role in all this is. You’ve seen loose change, you know about the pipelines across afganistans and how the taliban didn’t want to play ball, i know you understand the abhorrent greed of mankind and the insatiable drive for more, more power, more money, more oil, more control. Why wouldn’t these top tier assholes want to consolidate all the power they could?

I think you have a bit of a fairy tale idea of real world justice. The 9/11 commission posted it’s results within a month, accepted no independent investigations, and closed the folder forever. Why wasn’t anyone at BP charged with a crime after the gulf of mexico spill that killed 11 people and still ravages the south coast of America? Why wasn’t bin laden brought to the Hague or DC and put on trial for his crimes? why wasn’t a single banker indicted after the 2008 economic collapse after it became common knowledge that they were engaged in a plethora of illegal business practices (in fact they were rewarded to the tune of trillions of dollars of no interest loans)? Why? because the system is rigged to favor the elite, by the elite. If you don’t believe the elite are looking out for themselves then you must be delusional. Would you help you’re family out if they were in trouble? Do you take care of your friends if you can?

Your list of atrocities only proves my point, those in power will ALWAYS take advantage of that power and do whatever they can to keep it. Morals be damned. Just look at the entire history of mankind, its a running theme. To say that the corporate/banking elite are all just a bunch of idiots, bumbling around with theie combined trillions of dollars, tripping over their own feet, is patently ridiculous. Politicians? Yea, for the most part they probably are pretty dumb, but those guys aren’t making real decisions, they are lackeys, henchmen, PR spokemen, actors (Ronald Reagan was literally an actor before he became president).

Every year the top echelon of elites meets as a group called the Bilderbergs, (as you may know), behind closed doors, with no media coverage. What do you think they are talking about? How they can make the world a better place? If so, they are doing a pretty shit job at it

Well, I really couldn’t be bothered refuting each point separately, so I thought I’d just target the most nonsensical part of the whole silly conspiracy theory: the idea that not a single person who was involved in this cover-up would say anything to anyone, even after ten years.  So I wrote:

STOP STOP STOP. PLEASE. THINK about it. Just THINK.

If 9/11 was an inside job… how many people would have to be in one it? Give me a rough figure. 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? These people would have to ALL be utterly amoral psychopaths whose motive was what… power? The iron law of oligarchy states that powerful people don’t share power… so then money? Okay… let’s say money. There’s a lot of them, but lets say they just escaped en masse from Arkham Asylum.

Now if ONE of these people talks the whole thing is shot to shit, and everybody goes to jail… for the rest of their lives. We’re not talking corrupt bankers here, or Bono cooking the books so he pays no income tax, we’re talking the wilful murder of 3,000 AMERICAN CIVILIANS. This is death penalty level crime we’re talking about.

Now work out how much it would cost to keep every single one of those people quiet for 10 years. How much would it cost to keep YOU quiet about the biggest conspiracy the world has ever seen? $1,000,000? Damn you’re cheap! There are businessmen and politicians involved in this who earn that amount A DAY. So how much do you pay them? $1,000,000,000? Sound fair? Let’s say they demand a cool billion every year. Let’s say there are 1,000 of them in on it (a modest figure, I’m sure you’ll agree, given the scale of this thing)… that’s a TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR for TEN YEARS just to keep people quiet… because any one of them could AT ANY TIME grow a conscience (or need more money) and blow the whistle.

TEN TRILLION DOLLARS… for WHAT? So they could invade IRAQ? Even though Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11? Even though the combined worth of Iraq comes to… wait for it… $117 BILLION a year… hang on, what about Afghanistan?? Well (being one of the poorest countries in the world AND HAVING NO OIL) it’s worth a good $14 BILLION a year, so shall we call it $130 BILLION all up…

…and we’re spending $1,000 BILLION a year on BRIBES??

That’s the conservative figure… how much does it cost to keep Wikileaks quiet? I’d love to know.

IT. MAKES. NO. SENSE. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can’t grasp how ridiculous the ‘truthers’ proposition sounds to somebody who has a degree in Poltics and Modern History and has travelled as extensively as I have. You might as well be arguing that the world is flat or that an eclipse is a dragon eating the sun. IF there is ANY truth in what the ‘truthers’ claim, why doesn’t one of the more wealthy ‘truthers’ make a civil case against the US government? Anyone with a bit of wonga can do it. But they don’t, do they? Why is that Joe?

Maybe because it would require REAL EVIDENCE and a ACTUAL MOTIVE for the US govt to be behind it… and, as yet, NOBODY has provided me (or any of the millions like yourself who obsess over 9/11) with either.

It may make you sleep easier at night to believe that you live in a universe in which everything happens for a logical reason, but that doesn’t make it the case. The 9/11 hijackers had the motive, the opportunity and the ruthlessness to go through with one of the most spectacular terrorist attacks the world has ever seen – and hopefully will ever see. All they needed was a few flying lessons, nineteen plane tickets and some box cutters. Scary eh? Tough. That’s the way the world is: shit happens… it doesn’t necessarily follow that the shit was put there by the Men In Black to enslave humanity and feed us to the space lizards.

As I tried to get across in my last reply, there are REAL messed-up things that politicians, governments, corporations and businessmen have done and are still getting away with. As I travel, I meet people who want to talk about how every major event or every famous person’s death is a conspiracy (JFK! Diana! Elvis! Evolution! The Moon Landings! Climate Change!), but very few who want to talk about what the Sudanese government has done in Darfur in the full view of an indifferent and apathetic world.

Hell, maybe you and the 9/11 ‘truthers’ are part of a conspiracy to distract people from talking about what’s REALLY going on…

Go on, it’s the space lizards, isn’t it?

I KNEW IT!!!!!!!

To which Joe wrote:

Well Graham, I guess there’s just no convincing you. Usually i dont bother trying to convince anyone because i figure if you believe the “official” story then your just a believe what your told kind of person. I think your stuck on the disbelief that people would be evil or careless enough to do it, but just look at your list of “real” atrocities. Every single day people in power take horrible advantage of people, genocides are very real, slavery is very real, the oil industry really has decimated the Nigerian Delta, the Fed Reserve really did give (print out of thin air) over 1 trillion dollars to the same banks that wrecked the worlds economy. These aren’t even denied and no one does anything. How much convincing do you think it takes to get a soldier to fire bullets into a crowd of protesters in Syria? Mindless people do what they are told, against their own beliefs and morals, every single day, every day of history even. They don’t have to be “paid off” they just want to maintain their status quo, get their paycheck, not ruffle any feathers. As an independent person (remember that i also took a 2+ year epic journey around the globe) you dont get it, but most people want to be part of a “gang”, be told what to do and do whatever it takes to fit into it. Also i think your stuck on “it’s the government”. The real powers that be are the international bankers and corporations, that are above any one countries jurisdiction. If you think those assholes have ANY morals whatsoever then your just lying to yourself.

If you think killing 2000 Americans is some major line that had to be crossed, consider the fact that over 6000 have died in the wars so far. 3 times more have died than the original attack. How about the 100,000s of Iraqis and Afghanis (innocent bystanders many of them) that have died. Nothing is “better” in either country in 10 years. What the hell are we doing there? Obviously nothing good. (Even you admit 60 billion dollars of the “rebuilding” money vanished) It’s all a farce. But i will just stop, because if you can’t see the nose on your face then who am i to show you a mirror. No offence.

So i’ll just leave it be at this point. I highly recommend you do some more research, all of the answers are out there, very easy to find if you want to

There’s a point at which your eyes are rolling so far to the back of your head there’s a good chance you might detach your retinas.  I was rapidly approaching this point.  With the ad hominem attack of  me being a “believe what you’re told” type of person ringing in my ears, it was no more Mr. Nice Badger…

At the end of the day, I’m asking you to provide me with solid evidence and you’re asking me – in true conspiracy theorist-style – to take your word for it based on no evidence whatsoever other than opinion, conjecture and idle speculation.

And then you sign off with ‘the answers are out there’ like its an episode of the X-Files, yeah…. so’s Russell’s Celestial Teapot, but I’m not going to waste my life looking for it.

Sorry my friend, but as Christopher Hitchens quite rightly points out, claims that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

And that’s where this conversation (which, quite frankly, I tire of having) ends.

But Joe didn’t want to leave it at that.  Funnily enough, he found it hard (impossible, maybe?) to explain the exact mechanisms for keeping all those people quiet, and herded me instead to watch a bunch of 37 second YouTube clips: essentially adverts for the 9/11 truther’s “product”.  Which seems to be… bullshit.  Joe wrote:

I assumed that you were capable of doing your own research (and would trust what you found more wholly) but if you want some actual evidence then I can provide you that.

The top 40 reasons http://911truth.org/article.php?story=20041221155307646

Here is a recently released video with the backing of 1500 architects and engineers about WTC7 that proves it was a controlled demolition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z6LMGXDZnI

more thermite evidence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezIU6ZxYU3A

the pentagon? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcWT2lQszEE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmP2Vy8K0i0&feature=related

The planes had no windows
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRC4lCQuBmcfeature=related
and apparently weren’t in the air
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2QAh0rBrew&NR=1

Senior Officials, Government employees, People who were on the 9/11 commission don’t believe it

Just go through all of the info on
http://www.911proof.com/
http://www.911truth.org/

It seems like you made up your mind a long time ago about this issue, maybe there are some new bits of information that you are unaware of.

The reality is the history of mankind reads as one endless power struggle between the elites. Ghengis Kahn rode across the Central Asian steppe slashing and burning his way to Europe? Alexander the Great convinced his country to march into Turkey and lay siege to its cities on the way to Egypt and India. The Caesars murdered everyday during their reign, as did the Goths, the Ottamans, the Moors, the Franks, the Germans (did Hitler have to pay off all of the Germans to be convinced the extermination of the Jews was ok?) the Brits, all of Western Europe raped, murdered, and stole their way through the Americas, and today corporations and governments economically pillage the world (I’m sure you’ve heard about all of the help the IMF and the World Bank has brought to the developing world). Why? Because its the very nature of mankind, it’s how it’s always been, and most likely always will be.

That’s got to be the non sequitur to end all non sequiturs.  I couldn’t resist. I wrote:

Jesus Christ: The planes had no windows! They weren’t even in the air!

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, gimme a break!

As you keep re-iterating time and time and time and time again, your argument boils down to this:

a) governments did bad things in the past (go on about ancient Rome)

b) governments continue to do bad things today (go on about American foreign policy)

Therefore… (drum roll please)

c) the US govt masterminded the 9/11 attacks

What? Eh? Hang on… erm? WHAT? You even sign off with “its the very nature of mankind” as if that’s going to convince me that it’s why no journalist IN THE WORLD fancies winning themselves the Pulitzer Prize by exposing the BIGGEST CONSPIRACY THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN!! Wooowowowowoooo!

You might as well say:

a) pirates did bad things in the past (go on about Blackbeard etc)

b) pirates continue to do bad things today (go on about Somalia)

Therefore… (drum roll please)

c) pirates cause global warming!!!

You’re so immersed in this fantastical world that makes Battlefield Earth seem logical and you just can’t see how utterly bonkers it all sounds.

And you send me links (WordPress don’t likey too many linkys – maybe they’re in on it toooooooo!) to websites stacked full of (again) biased opinion, conjecture (it COULDN’T have happened that way… I don’t think!), hearsay (this guy, right, he’s an engineer and even HE SAID IT – explain THAT, Poindexter!) and a really annoying habit of ignoring any evidence that doesn’t fit the conspiracy theorist narrative.

The ‘forty reasons’ link is hilarious! Thanks for that! Here’s an example of how utterly invalid the points are…

6) Did cell phones work at 30,000 feet in 2001? Maybe not, but the PHONES IN THE BACKS OF THE CHAIRS DID.

38) “Al-CIA-da?”
The longstanding relationship between US intelligence networks and radical Islamists, including the network surrounding Osama Bin Ladin.
 Oh look, they’re talking about the CIA assistance to the Afghan Muhajideen in the 1980s – BEFORE BIN LADEN EVEN ARRIVED IN THE COUNTRY. Hey, Stalin was our ALLY in WWII, and then the Cold War happens… ha ha, look at the stoopid sheeple believing in the Cold War!! Tsk! It was all smoke and mirrors!

In short, IT IS NOT EVIDENCE – none of it is. It would NEVER STAND UP IN A COURT OF LAW, it would NEVER BE PUBLISHED IN A PEER-REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC PAPER.

The best you can hope for is the National Inquirer and a few paranoid, tinfoil-hat wearing fruit-loops on the internet who BY GOD I never want on my jury… unless I’m guilty of cause ;-)

Again you’ve failed to adequately explain a motive (they’re just EVIL! They don’t need a motive!), where all the money went, why there’s no paper trail, why they didn’t just “make” AT LEAST ONE of the hijackers Iraqi or how on earth the US govt keeps this under wraps when you and I both know that two people can only keep a secret when one of them is dead.

Not ONE of the intercepted 9/11 pager messages published on Wikileaks said “Phase One Complete. Plan for invasion of landlocked resource-poor Central Asian basketcase on schedule!” Maybe the governmentals use that telepathy what they learnt from them Aliens in Roswell, eh?!!

:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

The arguments you use are exactly the same as climate change deniers and the young Earth creationists. I can sit a climate change denier down with a Nobel-prize winning scientist who can show them all the evidence in the world that climate change is real, man made, happening right now and something we should be damn worried about – and it STILL won’t change their mind. I can take a young-Earth creationist to the Natural History Museum and show them fossils from millions of years ago and they’ll STILL think the world is 6,000 years old.

Like them, NOTHING I or ANYBODY can say or do will persuade you otherwise.

However, you could persuade me: all I’m asking for… is evidence.

Why can’t I persuade these people? Because that’s what you and they WANT to believe. Climate Change is scary. Evolution is demeaning. Better to just stick your fingers in your ears and go lalalalalalalalalalalalalala.

9/11 truthers like yourself are exactly the same mindset. You WANT to live in a dystopian world in which rich Western governments oversee the wholesale slaughter of 3,000 civilians LIVE ON TELEVISION and get away with it. So long as you get to feel like you’ve got the magic powers, the vision, the intellectual vigour to know what’s really going on, and you can badger people online and in the pub with the old “everything you know is wrong!” fallacy. And WHY do you find the “9/11 was the govt” theory so appealing? Well, according to psychologists, because it’s what you would do.

Yep, conspiracy theorists seem to score higher on Machiavellian mindset tests than people like me. But it’s not like I don’t have any Machiavellian thoughts (we all do), it’s that I’m humble enough to know there would be absolutely NO WAY I could get away with it. The sad thing is, conspiracy theorists are the ones who think they could get away with it, an arrogant inflation of their own (and by extention, others) abilities to pull off the most horrifying acts of violence and walk away scot-free.

From your own comments on this site, you appear not to think much of humanity: you talk about human nature being essentially evil and you say (perhaps sarcastically, who knows?) that 2000 Americans “is a drop in the bucket”. (I’ll assume you mean ocean… it could be a small bucket).

These are the opinions of a psychopath. And while you subconsciously project your murderous desires onto a terrorist attack like 9/11: the REALLY scary thing is you consciously believe that you could get away with it, therefore it follows (in your mind) that the government could.

That’s worrisome. You should really get some help with that.

—————————————————————————————————————-

You started this discussion by asking me how I can ‘deny’ the 9/11 conspiracy nuts. Maybe I should explain.

I don’t have a religious/spiritual/faith bone in my body. I really don’t. That’s not to say I am a nihilist, I most definitely am not. I just find it incredibly difficult (more like impossible) to believe anything I’m told unless it passes a quick and easy mental test:

1) Does it sound plausible?

2) Is there any solid, unbiased evidence to support the proposition?

Needless to say, for me, the 9/11 truthers fall at the first hurdle. It sounds as plausible as Elvis working in a KFC on the moon. As for the second extremely reasonable question, the evidence is painfully flimsy, all based on bad science and conjecture… and almost comically biased.

But I think everybody runs through that same mental test, and you know what? For some people it must sound plausible, for some people the evidence presented on hysterical websites is all the evidence they need: hell, it fits their bleak, paranoid world-view that we’re all cogs in a vast machine – a vast machine that wants to sell us Coca-Cola or something.

But my brain will never be wired that way… I dunno… possibly because I’m not a psychopath?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The 9/11 wingnuts don’t even have ordinaryevidence, even after a decade of obsessing over every last element of that dreadful day in September. All they got is a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

You’ve had your say and I’ve allowed you to post your utterly bonkers links which users of this site may click on if they wish. Unless you have something new to add to this conversation – (and I’m talking something that could win you a Pulitzer), I won’t be approving your next reply.

You see, I have the power to approve people’s replies on this site, since I pay for it and maintain it myself.  I can also edit people’s replies.  And then Joe surprised everybody by writing:

You know, after reading your solid rebuttal I do admit it DOES all sound a bit silly. Maybe I’m just a little naive, you know, and the habit of stuff like ‘Loose Change’ to ignore the inconvenient facts, cherry-pick evidence that suits its (for-profit) agenda and take quotes out of context is really starting to make me question my entire opinion on the matter.

The ‘Machiavellian mindset’ thing you posted was very interesting, and I have to admit I do have a tenancy to think the worst of people and that everyone has a price. I guess I am a little paranoid and yeah, you’re right, I kinda wanted the government to have masterminded 9/11 – I don’t know why, possibly because it would confirm all the bad things I think about everybody who isn’t me.

I’m also concerned by something I noticed while surfing conspiracist websites… a definite anti-Semitic tone, one that has a tenancy to deny the holocaust (or say it ‘was no big deal’) and claim that a shadowy cabal of Jews are responsible for all of the world’s ills. It’s very similar to the rumours that led to the Pogroms in Russia and then the Holocaust itself, and that worries me, especially as my great-grandfather died fighting the Nazis and I’d hate to belittle his sacrifice by supporting the beliefs of right-wing fascists and racists – the very people he gave his life fighting against.

I found this brilliant article on the cracked.com website: http://www.cracked.com/article_15740_was-911-inside-job.html Cracked is pretty funny, but it really helped me to see things as they really are, rather than how I would want them to be.

Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for setting me straight, I’ll try in future to have a little bit more trust in the inherent goodness of humanity (after all – we’ve made it this far haven’t we?) and a little less time badgering people to believe in stuff that is — I admit — pretty far-fetched. I’ve been reading up on some of those issues you mentioned in a previous reply and I honestly believe that my time would be better spent spreading the word about stuff we SHOULD be getting angry about, and — more importantly — bad things that are happening right this moment that together we CAN do something about.

Take care and safe travels,
Joe.

PS. I did warn ya! ;-)

Oh, okay then… I wrote that last one myself.  Joe’s real last reply was (predictably) more links to YouTube videos and websites that gnash their teeth and holler about global conspiracies, with (as always) nothing but conjecture, cherry-picked evidence and the conceit of the paranoid mind to back them up.

But before I go, I just want to ask you something.

Q: What links Nazis, holocaust deniers, Soviet apparatchiks, climate change deniers, corrupt policeman, tin-pot dictatorships and 9/11 ‘truthers’?

A: A determined and concerted effort to take things out of context to fit their twisted world-view. 

Winston’s job in 1984 was an editor of history: he would physically black out facts in books and newspapers that were in contradiction to Big Brother’s narrative (one that, in the context of the novel, changed with political expediency).

It’s easy to do: I’m a professional video editor, I know what you mischief you can make with a clever snip here and there… you can change the true meaning or intent of just about anything.  Imagine Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal taken in isolation from all of his other clearly satirical works: it would be the ravings of a madman – a homicidal, cannibalistic madman.

If the only song you knew by John Lennon was Happiness is a Warm Gun  you would probably never guess that he was an avowed peace activist and that the song is either clearly ironic or a sexual (and possibly narcotic) metaphor.  As far as I’m aware people shooting real stuff with real guns didn’t make John Lennon happy – in fact it made him dead.

If all you knew of Nelson Mandela was that he was sent to jail for attempting to blow up a train, and the context of apartheid South Africa was missing from your narrative, you’d possibly be wondering why he was ever let out of his cell.  You’d crap your pants when you found out he was made President.

If the only clip of Star Wars Episode I you had seen was Darth Maul pulling out his double-ended lightsaber, you might be fooled into thinking Episode I was actually a good film.  It wasn’t.  Watch this re-edit of The Shining that makes the scariest movie of all time look like a heart-warming comedy.  Clue: it’s not that difficult.

In short, context is everything.  But for your local conspiracy-theorist (and the list of their fellow nasty badgers above), context is something to be suppressed, an irritation to be edited away – and there seem to be enough willing Winstons in the world happy to go along with it.  Maybe the government attached a rat to their faces once.

Conspiracy-theorists want you to ignore all the evidence to the contrary and fixate on a select line that fits their pre-conceived narrative – and so we find ourselves at the mercy of the tyranny of soundbites.  If you look at what the Nazis did with Nietzsche’s works, you’ll see how pernicious this practice is.  Watch out for it.

In any conspiracy rebuttal piece or video, you will notice a very different tactic: they invariably fail to show you the full video, the full interview, the full set of photographs – making it impossible to take the material out of context.  For every one photograph that the conspiracy nuts hold up as some sort of talisman of all truth and logic, the rebuttalists are more than happy to upload twenty that show what actually happened from all different angles.

This is important – it shows the conspiracy theorists for the deluded hypocrites they most certainly are.  They accuse the government (or whoever) of ‘covering up the truth’ and then proceed to use the exact same tactics that a ministry of propaganda would use in order to get its nefarious message across.

We all need to draw a line in our minds between what is true and what we wish were true.  Otherwise that line can become blurred; hence the number of people who go on X-Factor firmly believing that they can sing when even the deaf can see they cannot.  In order to draw another person into your wish-fulfilling delusions, they need to share the same desire for it to be the case: so you’re probably not going to get very far with me.

I hold a fairly strong belief (backed by evidence, of course) that conspiracy theorists are all of a particular mindset.  One that is generally paranoid, border-line psychopathic and Machiavellian to a greater extent than the general population.  If nothing else travelling to over 180 countries around the world has re-affirmed that not everybody is out to get me – most people are inherently good, law-abiding citizens who will go out of their way to help a straggly wayfarer in distress.

And until some Earth-shattering revelation is made by Wikileaks, the BBC, the Independent newspaper or two renegade journalists working for the Washington Post, I will never seriously entertain the mere possibility that those people brutally murdered on September 11 2001 were killed for any other reason than nineteen paranoid, psychopathic and Machiavellian bastards bought their golden tickets to the ancient and hollow lie that is the Elysian Fields with the blood of 2,977 innocent lives.

Conspiracy Nut Cornflakes David Icke
And David Icke says…….

The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy.

– H. L. Mencken, 1936

 

FINALLY!! The Odyssey Expedition comes to AMERICAN TV!

On MONDAY 21st DECEMBER 2015, Travel Channel in the US is dedicating an entire afternoon to screening the entirety of the first year of my epic adventure (Uruguay to Egypt)!! That’s right… eight back-to-back episodes of Lonely Planet: Odyssey with Graham Hughes.

It begins @ 11/12c… whatever that means!!

It’s a Gramarathon!

Odyssey-Cover

On Travel Channel’s site: http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/lonely-planet-odyssey-with-graham-hughes

And CHECK OUT the amusing listings on tvguide.com…

http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/lonely-planet-odyssey-with-graham-hughes/episodes/886030/

Leg 5: The Road to Nigeria Season 1, Episode 5
“The road to Nigeria includes a European sailor savior, an arrest for people smuggling and a hilarious goat.”