12. Are birds dinosaurs?

“It is because Nature is ruthless, hideous and cruel beyond belief that it was necessary to invent civilisation.”  John Wyndham.

1. Mirko was up and about,and fiery. Angrily he insisted we “speak logic”, and he jumped on anyone who did not comply with that demand, which was nearly everyone. Mirko does indeed run a tight ship. It’s just a shame that ship is lost at sea.

2. A woman called Johelps runs storytellers NSWand this morning their group had a special session  in the Botanic Gardens to celebrate World Storytelling Day. Your inquisitive scribe  was there to listen and he enjoyed the event, even though the stories were for kiddies. The tellers have an appealing way of telling stories.

Jo accepted an invitation from Mr B to join us at Speakers’ Corner afterwards, and she kindly agreed to stand on the Ladder of Knowledge and tell us a story for adults. (No, not that type of adult story. Get your mind out of the gutter.) The story was about a man seeking good luck. Jo’s gestures, facial expressions and vocal variety made this scribe realise just how much a story can be enhanced with a little effort.

Thank you, Jo!

Unfortunately, Mr B learnt nothing from Jo. Straight after witnessing the good example Jo set, Mr B was bellowing at his grasshoppers in a less than savoury manner. Pretty soon it was a free-for-all. The talented, colourfully dressed, pleasant-natured Jo, who only an hour earlier had been entertaining young kiddies with delightful stories, now sat surrounded by insults and buffoonery. It was like having Bambi sit midst a pack of rabid hyenas.

In other words, we disgraced ourselves.

Jo, from Storytellers NSW.

3. “When the stone-age people were hunting dinosaurs . . .”So said Mr B before he was promptly interrupted by Uncle Pete, and others, telling him that humans never co-existed with the dinosaurs.

The thing is, a year ago Mr B stood on the Ladder of Knowledge and said birds had evolved from dinosaurs but were not actually dinosaurs. “After all,” he explained, “the word ‘dinosaur’ means ‘terrible lizard’, and the superb blue wren is neither terrible, nor is it a lizard. To call a blue wren a dinosaur is absurd.

That sound reasoning didn’t wash with his grasshoppers, who said he had no idea what he was talking about and that birds are indeed dinosaurs. During that week he checked, and found that the “experts” do say birds are dinosaurs. So, when Sunday came around the honorable Mr B did the right and noble thing and humbly admitted he was wrong. He couldn’t argue with the experts, he said.

Privately he thought, “Piffle. Birds are not dinosaurs.”

That was a year ago. Since then Mr B has “gone along” with that “revelation” and occasionally thrown in statements like, “When the stone-age people were hunting dinosaurs . . .” just so that he can be “corrected”. Today when his grasshoppers jumped in to tell him humans and dinosaurs did not coexist he pointed out that on the contrary, we have hunted dinosaurs. That’s why the dodo and the Moa became extinct. We eat millions of dinosaurs every day. They’re called ‘chickens’.

His grasshoppers get sucked in every time.

Today his grasshoppers again took umbrage and said it was a poor use of the word ‘dinosaur’. But given that ‘birds are dinosaurs’ they don’t have a hollow leg to stand on.

He will suck them in again.

A superb blue wren, with some kale in the background.

4. Does Mr B understand the process of natural selection?Or is the problem his propensity to apply it to behaviours? Should he apply the process to behaviours when there is no evidence (and can’t be any) to prove that is justified? Uncle Pete says ‘no’ and Mr B says ‘I do, I can and I will’.


5. What was life really likein ‘the good old days’? Mr B based his observations on the many examples given in Richard Glover’s book, ‘The Land of the Avocado’.

After a while the question became, “Are young people more resilient than the kids of yesteryear?’ Mr B said ‘yes’ while others said ‘no’. Mr B felt the need to distinguish between ‘stoicism’ and ‘resilience’ and he pointed out how many old people are walking around ‘wounded’. But was he right?


6. When people say they want to limit immigration are they unfairly being called racist? The Australian Bureau of Statistics found from the 2016 census that Australia has a higher proportion of overseas-born people (26%) than the United States (14%), Canada (22%), New Zealand (23%) and the UK (13%). In the major cities it’s nearly 50%. Further, 49% of our entire population has been born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas.
So, if someone asks for a limit on immigration, are they really being racist? Especially if their objection applies to all human beings equally? Should we be asking that? Should we be aiming to reduce our population for environmental reasons?
But then, Mr B’s figure of 26% is compared with only four of 200+ nations. Is he cherry-picking?
And, perhaps a better way to determine whether a person is racist is to ask them if they want to limit immigration from particular regions.
But then, Peter the Younger pointed out that it’s not race many people object to, it’s cultural practices and cultural values.
It’s a discussion that will receive more exploration in the coming weeks.

7. Other subjects discussed:
– Mr B’s life hack (helpful tip) for this week: don’t pee in the shower. The explanation as to why was unpleasant enough, but Mirko took that unpleasantness to a whole new level. We had to change the subject, pronto.

– Mr B read a poem he thought was funny, but at its conclusion all we heard were the crickets. Not one person even smiled. (The poem was about a ne’er-do-well going to heaven and stealing St Peter’s pearly gates.)

– Why didn’t the Aborigines domesticate pigs in the 60,000 years of their occupation, like the Papuans did? Possible reasons were given.

– Helmut gave his thoughts on private schools and public schools. At first he seemed scathing of the public school system but by the end of his entertaining talk he was saying we should abolish the private school system. Go figure.

– Mr B and his grasshoppers attempted to answer a passer-by’s question, “Do deaf people talk to themselves?”

8. In our Unusual Creature Serieswe present to you the maned wolf of South America. It sniffed our Facebook Page.