A

Advice

Contrary to popular belief, a human needs a lot of guidance to carry out its life. To meet this need, humans have evolved a strong instinct to give advice. This instinct is stimulated by the complaining of a fellow human. Here are some common, advice-triggering complaints.

This kind of self-pity triggers the listening human's instinct to give advice. This instinct is highly developed, so there is no need for the complainer to ask for the advice. Normally, the provoked advice takes the form of irrelevant, personal criticism.

Complainer I hate being single.

Advisor You never listen.

The next highest level of advice is relevant, personal criticism.

Complainer I hate being single.

Advisor You don't give relationships a chance.

At this level, an optional song lyric may be quoted for emphasis.

Complainer I hate being single.

Advisor You don't give relationships a chance. All you need is love. Ba da da da daaa.

The highest level of advice, rarely seen in the wild, is a useful call to action.

Complainer I hate being single.

Advisor You should go on a date with that cute pastry chef.1

Humans never pay attention to each other, so usually provide advice in the form of irrelevant, personal criticism. While it would be better to say nothing, this does not satisfy their advisory instinct. The advisor will, instead, provide advice it should be giving to itself. Indeed, a reliable rule, for any given advice, is that it is safe to replace all references to 'you' with 'I'. The advisor is always talking about itself when talking about other people.

Complainer I hate being single.

Advisor I never listen.

Advisor I don't give relationships a chance. All I need is love. Ba da da da daaa.

Advisor I should go on a date with that cute pastry chef.

Once the advice has been communicated by one party, received by the other, and disregarded as the ramblings of a mad man by everyone within earshot, all those involved will carry on with their problems unsolved as if nothing had been said at all. Amen.

Alexander the Great

Born in 356 BC, Alexander III of Macedon, known informally as Alexander the Great and on Twitter as @GreatAlex356, is one of history's most successful military leaders and Tweeters. At twenty, he became King of Macedon. By thirty, he had expanded and ruled one of the largest empires of the ancient world. At his death, he had more followers than Ashton Kutcher.

Alexander's Twitter avatar.

Alexander's Twitter avatar.

Before becoming King, Alexander was tutored by the philosopher, Aristotle, in a range of topics that included rhetoric, linguistics, poetry and theatre. All of these subjects were utilised by @GreatAlex356 to become an Internet sensation. Aristotle's fee for the tuition was that Alexander's father, King Philip, had to rebuild Aristotle's hometown of Stageira, which Philip had previously razed. As annoying as it was to have to rebuild a town he had already destroyed, Philip agreed.

The town of Stageira after Philip had both razed it and raised it.

The town of Stageira after Philip had both razed it and raised it.

After the assassination of his father and many more razings, including that of MySpace, Alexander inherited the kingdom of Macedon and utilised its armies to build his empire. He conquered his way through Persia, Northern Africa and the Himalayas. He named many cities in his honour: Alexandria, Alexandria, Alexandropolis, Alexandria and Alexandria, among others.

Alexander earned the title of Great by being a fearless and feared military commander. He remained undefeated and was loved by all, especially @ladygaga. Perhaps his one small flaw was his megalomania.

"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept ... for there were no more worlds to conquer." - Hans Gruber, Die Hard.

Alien

An alien is a lifeform from another planet. The CIA has successfully covered up every human-alien contact, so no one knows what an alien looks like. The most rigorous theories describe an alien as grey or green with a large head and long limbs, like Jimi Hendrix. The least rigorous theories claim that some famous humans were aliens, like Jimi Hendrix. All theories agree that Jimi Hendrix was out of this world.

Hendrix had the archetypal alien body with long limbs and a large head. This black and white image disguises his green skin.

Hendrix had the archetypal alien body with long limbs and a large head. This black and white image disguises his green skin.

According to conspiracy theorists, aliens come to Earth to probe people and take their jobs. Extreme theorists claim that the highest levels of the United States Government are reptilian extraterrestrials disguised as humans. These "Lizard People" hide their grotesque forms to achieve their evil, alien goals, such as universal health care. The CIA has put these wild claims to rest saying, "Aliens do not exist and should be obeyed without question."

Humans not in the CIA do not have TOP SECRET security clearance, so have not been shown the proof of alien existence. However, they still harbour a sneaking suspicion that out there is a lifeform, sitting by the telephone, waiting for humanity to call. Humans estimate the size of this lonely alien population using the Drake equation.

Named after the scientist Frank Drake, which may have been the pen name of Daffy Duck, the equation is made up of a series of factors that, when multiplied together, calculate the number of civilisations in the Milky Way that possess the technology to communicate with humans on Earth.

N = N* . fp . ne . fl . fi . fc . L

The number of stars in the galaxy (N*) is 400 billion, give or take seven. The other factors are highly speculative because Daffy Duck never bothered to find accurate values. The result of all this laziness is that a range of possible values exist for the equation.

To determine N with more accuracy, Drake's equation can be simplified by removing some factors. It's that easy. Here is the simplified equation.

N = P . ft . fm . fl . M

Using the new equation and known values for each factor, the calculated number of civilisations that could communicate with Earth is 1. Excluding Earth, the total is 0. Therefore, aliens don't exist.

Noted astrophysicist Frank Drake?

Noted astrophysicist Frank Drake?

Ambition

An ambitious human wants to get something it hasn't got or do something it hasn't done, but only if that thing is a big deal. A human cannot be ambitious for a sandwich but can be ambitious for the world's biggest sandwich, or to become a famous sandwich chef.

A really ambitious human wants to get something no one has got or do something no one has done. In this case a sandwich is ambitious if no one has had a sandwich before.

Ambition regarding sandwiches is complex and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Humans frown upon being really ambitious because an intensely ambitious human becomes single-minded and forgets the joy of simple things, like a tasty, normal-sized sandwich.

A human with no ambition is also a no-no because it has no reason to work. It becomes a burden on other humans, like the lazy meat in a poorly written sandwich metaphor.

Humans agree it is healthy to have some ambition. A human with some ambition is just right because it can enjoy a normal-sized sandwich while motivated by the goal of making the world's biggest sandwich, which just happens to be cheese and jam.

A common outlet for a human's some ambition is a career, which is a series of related jobs, e.g. sandwich maker, sandwich taster, cheese merchant. An ambitious career is a series of related jobs that increase in salary and prestige, e.g. sandwich maker, sandwich chef, sandwich artist.

Animal

An animal is any lifeform that is able to move by choice. Contrast this to plants, which only move when all other options have been exhausted. There are more types of animal in the world than the human mind can comprehend. Humans make considerable effort to reduce this mental burden by making the animal kingdom more manageable.

The range of animals is immense, e.g. tigers, lions, ligers and tigons.

The range of animals is immense, e.g. tigers, lions, ligers and tigons.

Biologically speaking, a human is an animal because it is a lifeform that is able to move of its own volition, especially on the dance floor. Some humans take offence at being called animals because they consider them to be less important or worthy than humans. Further, they may believe that only humans are created in God's image. God would be in a pretty sorry state if the naked mole rat was also made in His image.

God nibbles on His num-nums.

God nibbles on His num-nums.

Those humans who are happy crawling around in the dirt and being called "animals" claim that the human animal is the most evolved in the whole kingdom. This claim is true when measured against humanity's own criteria: intelligence, morality and career achievement. Really, the only important criterion is time, and all lifeforms have had equal time to evolve. Therefore, all lifeforms are equally evolved.

Humanity's only evolutionary competitor in career achievement, the middle-manager swan, known scientifically as Cygnus bureaucraticus.

Humanity's only evolutionary competitor in career achievement, the middle-manager swan, known scientifically as Cygnus bureaucraticus.

Humans are unique among animal species for the reason that is signified by their Latin name, Homo sapien, which is Latin for 'wise man'. Only humans are able to think, so only humans are able to think they are better than other animals. Truly, this is what separates humans from animals. Also, trousers.

A squirrel monkey ponders its lack of higher brain function and pants.

A squirrel monkey ponders its lack of higher brain function and pants.

Art

Art is broadly defined as pointless. Within this broad definition, there is some room for nuance. Many human artists create art because they aren't happy with the real world. Perhaps they want to rebel against society's repression, or they dream of a utopia where ice-cream sundaes come in three sizes: large, humungous and Lactose Intolerant's Folly. Whatever their motive, expression of repressed desires in artwork is a safe way of tempering idealism.

For consumers, art serves a number of purposes. Rich humans purchase expensive art at the auction house Sotheby's to demonstrate their good taste. Poor humans buy cheap art at their local car boot sale to demonstrate their ability to reverse park. But art is more than just something humans buy: it speaks to them on a spiritual level.

Religious art has been used to teach and inspire true believers ever since Moses took an evening class in stone masonry. The most famous religious artwork, besides God's self-portrait, is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling in an unassuming off-white. The Pope returned four years later to find Michelangelo had painted one of the greatest works of art the world would ever pay to see. Obviously, the Pope was furious and refused to pay one more lire to have the mistake corrected. The ceiling remains intact and depicts many important scenes from the Bible:

The most famous scene in Michelangelo's masterpiece is the Creation of Adam, wherein God breathes life into Adam, the first man. This is symbolised by the meeting of the outstretched fingers of God and Adam. This part of the work is considered the most important by religious historians because of its powerful spiritual imagery. It is also considered important by art historians because they know how hard it is to paint fingers that don't look like bananas.

Michelangelo's first attempt at God's hand.

Michelangelo's first attempt at God's hand.

Astrology

The study of celestial bodies and their effect on the lives of humans is called astrology. Astrology should not be confused with astronomy, which is the scientific study of the physical and chemical properties of non-movie stars.

"A human's personality and major life events are determined by the relative positions of the planets and constellations as they were at the moment of its birth." - Richard Dawkins

Every human is born with a star sign, e.g. Taurus, Gemini, Sasquatch. This sign, along with the less influential moon sign, determine the human's character. For example, a human born with a star sign of Taurus and a moon sign of Scorpio will be emotionally intense, strong, passionate and charming. A human that is Pisces with a moon sign Leo will be strong, charming, emotionally intense and passionate.

Born in April 1983, this sasquatch is charming, passionate, emotionally intense and strong.

Born in April 1983, this sasquatch is charming, passionate, emotionally intense and strong.

A typical, cynical human claims that the positions of the stars at the moment of its birth have no effect on its life. It wouldn't say that if Alpha Centauri was crashing into Earth on the day it was born.

It may be true that the stars, apart from the Sun, do not directly impact the lives of humans. However, astrology does have one positive effect on human life: it reduces anxiety. A stressed human that is experiencing problems in life can visit an astrologer to be reassured that it is not to blame for its woes and inadequacies. The astrologer tells the human that its life is determined by the stars, so beyond the human's meagre control. Therefore, the problems will pass in their own time and there is no point worrying about them. By contrast, an astronomer would not be able to offer such comfort as a professional service.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings." - William Shakespeare


  1. Also good advice if one's soufflés never rise, or if one is ensconced in a failing marriage.