Richard Lutz ponders the last seven days of a mis-spent middle age.
I am a card-carrying Neanderthal. As I secretly revealed to my many detractors last month, a recent DNA test showed I have a spot less than 1% trace of caveman in my bio-makeup. Many relatives, strangely, agreed a bit too quickly with this.
Today, as I rummage through the weekend papers, I find that scientists are ready to grow Neanderthal mini-brains in a futuristic techy-lab. Finally, a link with my distant past. And in a test tube to boot.
Head of the experiment is Prof Svante Paabo from the Max Plank Institute and he worries: “To me, the biggest question in human history is:’Why did we become this crazy?'”
Ha…. Us? Crazy? On this planet? Trump condemns a nation that has no nuclear weapons (Iran) and buddies up to a dictator who’s got nukes (N. Korea); our beautiful oceans are coated in plastic and all the whales are choking on wet wipes: and, over in Old Blighty, no one understands the Brexit mess. Or cares any more.
Time to take off. Not to a beach nor a rain forest. But to Scandanaivia. I visit Copenhagen to find this pleasant city engulfed by fans invading the city for the World Ice Hockey championships. Turn any corner and you are confronted by a marauding horde of Slovakian fans singing Bratislavan beer anthems and Norwegian hockey nuts dressed as Vikings (it’s in their DNA).
To escape, we head for a design museum on a canal that has a virtual reality exhibition. Here is a familiar face giving it a go:
What she’s seeing is a virtual house of the future with virtual sunny rooms, virtual hidden gardens that blend into the virtual building and virtual atriums that seemlessly lead to more virtual sunny rooms. Peek downward and she peers into a bottomless virtual jungle ravine. Look up and the sky turns virtual dark and she’s overwhelmed by nighttime constellations that virtually and slowly revolve.
Maybe Prof Paabo might want to chill out and spent a couple of hours here before plunging back, way back, to our caveman past and, more specifically, my 1% heritage. Virtual life is a spot more entrancing, I have to say, than a pack of cavepersons huddled around a sputtering fire eating raw tubers and mastodon burgers.
Finally, let’s hark back to my tedious preoccupation of famous folks who share the same exact date of birth. Last Wednesday, actor Albert Finney and movie star turned politician Glenda Jackson both turned 82. And today, born fifty years later, movie stud Robert Pattinson and comedian Lena Durham are both 32.
Happy birthday, folks, you are all twice blessed. Virtually. No really… you are. Honestly.