And the winners are… Refractory Awards 2016

Happy New Year to you all, dear readers! What better way to celebrate a new year than by announcing the winners of our surprisingly successful ‘Refractory Awards 2016!’ With over 400 votes cast, millions of bitcoins spent on blatant lies painted on the side of a bus, and some Russian hacking, this is undoubtedly a victory for the little people, the real people, and the village people. And … Continue reading And the winners are… Refractory Awards 2016

2016 Refractory Awards – Vote Now!

There is no mistaking this time of year. The soppy music in Pret-a-Manger. The angry shoppers in Westfield. The tourists standing on the left on the escalator. The feeling that the year, and the world, are about the end… Yep, it’s Christmas time again, which means awards season! Woohoo! Last year’s Awards Winners were a deserving bunch, but this year’s promises to be even more special! … Continue reading 2016 Refractory Awards – Vote Now!

Enough with Brexit Already

For those of us privileged enough to live in the Glorious Islands of the Disunited Kingdom, it is difficult to avoid the all-consuming nightmare that is brexit. It dominates the news, the conversations, the supermarket shelves, and every Tweet/email/snapchat sent from the UK now contains at least 50% brexit. Everyone hates brexit. The Leavers bemoan the fact that people are constantly talking about brexit as … Continue reading Enough with Brexit Already

Panama Papers – The Great British Rip-Off

Before we start our controversial debate as to whether it’s morally wrong for unimaginably wealthy people to avoid paying taxes whilst lobbying for austerity to be imposed on the poor, it is worth noting the complete inadequacy of the moniker ‘Panama Papers’.

The ‘Panama Papers’ sounds like a film starring Tom Cruise about a young, handsome, and yet vertically challenged lawyer, who finds buried evidence about poor procurement practices in Lancaster City Council, whilst wearing his Panama hat. It’s wholly inadequate for the situation we are facing here. It’s like calling the Jimmy Saville scandal ‘The Lime Grove Indiscretions’. It doesn’t exactly tell the whole story.

This should really have been called ‘You Are Getting Completely Screwed by a Super Wealthy Elite, And It’s Only Getting Worse, Part XVI’. No Tom Cruise needed for that one, and at least we all know where we stand. Continue reading “Panama Papers – The Great British Rip-Off”

CRISPR and the Future of Humanity

Every once in a while there comes a technology that revolutionises the way we live: the internet, penicillin, electricity, or the selfie stick, all have completely changed the way we interact and perceive the world around us. The technology is rarely political per se, but its impact is so great that it ends up shaping the way we live. Before the internet was regulated, and monitored, and encrypted, and taken over by governments and corporations, it was just an interesting communication technology that early adopters explored freely. There were no rules, no laws regulating its use, and no limits on the use of free speech on it. It was in its ‘pre-politics’ phase.

Today, the internet, like drugs and the use of electricity, is heavily regulated, monitored, and legislated for. It is inherently political. But that wasn’t always the case.

The technology that is the subject of today’s article has the potential to revolutionise humanity in a way that few technologies before have. Even more so than selfie-sticks. And if this technology is currently in its ‘pre-politics’ phase, it is blatantly obvious that it will become terribly political at some point. Perhaps even tragically so. It might therefore be pertinent to understand what this technology is, what it does, and what this means for us.

That technology is called CRISPR. I first heard of it on a podcast called RadioLab, and if you fancy a listen, you can find it here. I’m not one for hyperboles, but this technology has the potential to change the rules and parameters of human existence. It was invented millions of years ago. By bacteria, those invisible celebrities from the Yakult adverts. Continue reading “CRISPR and the Future of Humanity”

And the Winners are…

Happy New Year to you all, dear readers! What better way to celebrate a new year than by announcing the winners of our surprisingly successful ‘Refractory Awards 2015!’ With over 400 votes cast, millions of dollars spent on negative advertising, and some to-and-froing with the UN Electoral Commission, this is undoubtedly the first and most successful Refractory Awards of all time. And so, without further ado, … Continue reading And the Winners are…

2015 Refractory Awards – Vote Now!

There is no mistaking this time of year. The soppy music in Pret-a-Manger. The angry shoppers in Westfield. The tourists standing on the left in the escalator. The jets bombing some foreign middle eastern country. Yep, it’s Christmas time again, which means awards season! Woohoo! Considering there exists an Award Ceremony for the Best Award Ceremony, Refractory certainly wasn’t going to be left out from this … Continue reading 2015 Refractory Awards – Vote Now!

COP21: Climate Change and Civilisation

You are unreliable and can’t be trusted. This isn’t the start of a Dear John letter, it’s just a scientifically proven fact. Your brain is flawed. You are easily influenced by your peers. You block out things that you don’t agree with. You can’t be objective. You have a terrible sense of risk and probabilities. You mistake post-rationalising for free will. And you’re not nearly as independent as you think.

If you’re still reading this, well, on the plus side you do have a thick skin.

I’m not having a go at you. Really, it’s nothing personal. All of us suffer from these inherent biases. These were probably necessary for our evolution, from social animals to social-media animals. From apes in trees to apes in cubicles.

And while I can already feel your attention slipping away due to your inbuilt confirmation bias disliking this full frontal assault on your God-given perfection, fear not. Things are only getting better. It might seem counter-intuitive, but that’s your badly-wired brain for you. In almost every single quantifiable and measureable way, things are getting better.

I know, it doesn’t seem like it. In the UK, the Tories are wrecking the livelihood of poor people. There is terrorism in Europe, civil war in the Middle East, inequality is increasing worldwide, Donald Trump is still a Presidential candidate, refugees are everywhere, and the EU is in disarray. Institutions that were once honourable and respected are now shown to be corrupt and fraudulent, whether that is FIFA or Strictly Come Dancing. Gosh, is nothing sacred anymore? Continue reading “COP21: Climate Change and Civilisation”

Optional Taxation and the Social Contract

I have a confession to make, and it is that I have recently found out a heartbreaking piece of news that has melted my heart even more so than the day Take That split up, more so than the day Santa told me to “piss off” in a shopping centre in 1989 and even more so than the day I found my milkman in his milkfloat with my first girlfriend. I am a chicken aficionado, and for anyone who likes chicken, Nando’s is a place of pilgrimage. The Santiago de Compostela of chicken shops – where else can you get battery chickens so deliciously smothered in Peri-peri sauce? So good it almost makes you forget about the animal welfare standards of the chickens being used…

Although Nando’s markets itself technically as a Portuguese chicken place, it is actually South African as most of you know, and it is the most useful South African product since Charlize Theron. One problem though: Nando’s, like almost every other major corporation it seems, refuses to pay tax. Continue reading “Optional Taxation and the Social Contract”