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Badger considers coincidences

THE IMPORTANT thing to remember is that coincidence is not proof.

For example, in human history, there have been many sky gods or deities based around mountains.

This is not evidence of aliens’ presence in our pre-history.

To our ancestors, the sky was important because it was where the weather came from. Observing the night sky was necessary to track the course of the seasons wherever you lived.

The great lie of pseudo-history is that our ancestors – particularly black or native American ancestors – were too dumb to come up with similar ideas at similar times. Or at least too stupid to do so without being in contact with a race of superior intelligence.

At the core, pseudo-history is unabashedly racist. Nor is it confined to those of European descent. There is an entire genre of Asian pseudo-history and fringe African-American pseudo-history, which traffics racism in the opposite direction.

The coincidental existence of gods from the sky in religions is just that: a coincidence based on shared experiences of the world we all inhabit.

The reception of other cultures’ behaviour, particularly its treatment as being ‘exceptional’ or ‘outside civilised norms’, depends on the perspective of those reporting upon it.

Consider this: the Spanish found human sacrifice practised in Mexico abhorrent but came from a culture in which brutal ritualistic death and torture were part of society’s fabric.

If you think mass execution of war prisoners, as the Aztecs did before the conquistadors, is barbaric, account for this: at least two hundred prisoners hanged, cut down while still alive, disembowelled alive, their remains parboiled, tarred, and displayed on poles, trees and lampposts.

To prevent bodies from being cut down, those exposing the bodies drove spikes into the posts supporting the rotting carcases.

That was England in 1685, after the Monmouth Rebellion.

Our capacity for apparent inhumanity is a thread running throughout history.

The truth is that humanity is capable of great evil as well as great good.

The idea of a utopian society existing in a state of grace, the sort of bullshit peddled by old-school anthropology and political theory, is nonsense, as well as implicitly racist.

When the French sought utopia on the South Pacific islands, they searched for their idea of paradise. The concept of nubile, semi-naked young women unsullied by the modern world was a Frenchman’s dream.

In exchange for French notions of utopianism, the islanders got the clap.

France’s nuclear weapons tests later irradiated them.

Wherever humanity is, is a new level of hell on earth. It is in our nature.

On the upside of that argument, compassion, art, poetry, science, the capacity for self-reflection and self-expression are also within our natures.

One often-cited factoid relates to how much genetic material we have in common with other primates. It’s scarcely surprising; we stem from the same ancient lineage.

But it doesn’t matter whether we have 98% of the same genetic material as a chimpanzee or 99%. Those few percentage points of difference between us contain Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, J.S. Bach, and Shakin’ Stevens.

By the way, as well as using simple tools and carrying pianos upstairs while pining for a cuppa, chimps are also aggressive, territorial and hierarchical.

They hunt monkeys for food in an organised way.

So, readers, we have coincidence and difference. We need to be careful about reaching definitive conclusions based on our own observations and prejudices.

We need to remember that ‘prejudice’ means no more than our preconceived ideas formed by our own experiences – whether lived or studied.

It’s an important point to consider because prejudice is everywhere.

When you read a book, watch a television programme, absorb news, listen to a podcast, or look at a Facebook page, what you see has been shaped by others. And what they present is shaped by how they’ve responded to others.

One person’s worldview, or how an organisation offers its own view, can become an accepted ‘facts’ when they are nothing more than an opinion or an incomplete rendering of the facts.

Let’s look at some facts together, readers:

  • Fifty million face masks, purchased through a company specialising in currency trading and offshore property, part of a £252m (€291m; $348m), were unusable.
  • A Miami jewellery designer, awarded a £250m contract for PPE, was found to have paid £21m to a consultant to broker the deal.
  • The Department of Health gave a pest control company with net assets of £19 000 a £108m contract for PPE.
  • A company run by ‘an acquaintance’ of the Health Secretary switched from making food cartons to plastic tubes. It secured a lucrative contract with the health service last spring to provide Covid testing vials. The owner of the company confirmed he contacted Matt Hancock to offer his services.
  • A Tory councillor won a £156m COVID contract. The Gloucestershire councillor ran a small, loss-making firm distributing medical devices before the bumper contract landed.
  • A healthcare company ultimately controlled by the leading Tory donor and former party chairman, Lord Ashcroft, has received a £350m contract as part of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out,
  • The UK commissioned Serco and other private companies to run the test and trace service. £37bn of taxpayers’ money is being given to this service—the figures are almost too massive to comprehend. To help, consider that the total annual NHS salary cost is around £47 billion, which amounted to 44.9% of the NHS budget in 2018/19. A 5% pay increase for the WHOLE of England’s NHS staff, as opposed to the 1% on offer to nurses, would cost only £1.7bn.
  • The test and trace service is run by the wife of a Conservative MP who has no qualifications for her role. Without irony, the MP, John Penrose, was recently announced as Westminster’s anti-corruption ‘Czar’.
  • The English government’s test and trace system’s performance has been poor compared to the rest of the UK.

In Wales and Scotland, where governments used local authorities and health board staff, the operation has been more efficient and successful.

Yes, readers, coincidence is not proof of anything at all.

You’d have to be crazy to think that donating money to a political party or offering financial ‘support’ to an MP bought even the hint of influence. Or secured a contract.

Handing a Cabinet minster a few grand here and there to help run his constituency office comes without any sort of strings.

Like all of the above facts about Covid contracts, little and not-so-little payments here and there to MPs and the identities of who provide them are all coincidences.

After all: what else could they be?

For Brutus is an honourable ma