Friday, September 23, 2016

Correspondence: The world moves on

Edited by Moristotle

Pictures from the first week of the Oktoberfest in Munich. Thankfully without terrorist attacks: “Oktoberfest: the world's largest beer festival – in pictures” [Natasha Rees-Bloor, Guardian, September 20]. Excerpt:
The 183rd Oktoberfest, taking place in Munich, was first held in 1810 in honour of the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. It is expected to attract more than 6 million visitors. [read more]
“How We Got Here: DNA Points to a Single Migration from Africa” [Carl Zimmer, NY Times, September 21]. Excerpt:
Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?
    The question, one of the biggest in studies of human evolution, has intrigued scientists for decades. In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer.
    In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago. [read more]
Check this out. An interview with Bill Gates, published only 22 years ago: “E-mail from Bill” [John Seabrook, New Yorker, January 10, 1994]. My goodness, how the world has moved on. Excerpt:
At the moment, the best way to communicate with another person on the information highway is to exchange electronic mail: to write a message on a computer and send it through the telephone lines into someone else’s computer. In the future, people will send each other sound and pictures as well as text, and do it in real time, and improved technology will make it possible to have rich, human electronic exchanges, but at present E-mail is the closest thing we have to that. Even now, E-mail allows you to meet and communicate with people in a way that would be impossible on the phone, through the regular mail, or face to face, as I discovered while I was working on this story. Sitting at my computer one day, I realized that I could try to communicate with Bill Gates, the chairman and co-founder of the software giant Microsoft, on the information highway. At least, I could send E-mail to his electronic address, which is widely available, not tell anyone at Microsoft I was doing it, and see what happened. I wrote:
Dear Bill,
    I am the guy who is writing the article about you for The New Yorker. It occurs to me that we ought to be able to do some of the work through e-mail. Which raises this fascinating question –What kind of understanding of another person can e-mail give you?…
    You could begin by telling me what you think is unique about e-mail as a form of communication.
I hit “return,” and the computer said, “mail sent.” I walked out to the kitchen to get a drink of water and played with the cat for a while, then came back and sat at my computer. Thinking that I was probably wasting money, I nevertheless logged on again and entered my password.
    “You have mail,” the computer said.
    I typed “get mail,” and the computer got the following:

From: Bill Gates
Ok, let me know if you get this email.
According to my computer, eighteen minutes had passed between the time I E-mailed Bill and he E-mailed me back. His message said.... [read more]
The best way to eat all you want and still lose weight is to want very little.

We would never see these things but for the Internet and photography.
Queen Victoria Clock in Chester, England


Difference of opinion makes for hoarse voices.

An insurance agent we know refused to fly because he feared that the airplane would be bombed.
    “What are the chances of my boarding a plane with a bomb on board?” he asked the company’s actuarial agent. [This was some years before 9/11.]
    After some calculations the answer came back: about one in 500,000, a probability that would have reassured anyone else, but not this man.
    “What about boarding a plane with two bombs?”
    This time the answer was: about one in two hundred and fifty billion.
    That was more to the man’s liking, and now he flies. But he always takes one bomb aboard the plane himself.

Grateful for correspondence, Moristotle


  1. Bob Boldt's sharing of "Changing of the Gods' video" (on Facebook) seems somehow serendipitous with the correspondence about DNA from Africa....
        For your convenience, Bob's text:

    This is my true religion (True for me). It stands at the foundation of all my Buddhist beliefs, my Christ Consciousness, and all my ethical and rational ideals. They all have their origins for me in this Yoruba religion of West Africa that I was introduced to nearly a half a century ago at The Temple of the Moon in Chicago.
        This mythology is broader, more diverse, deeper, more profound and powerful than all the dead Roman and Greek gods and all the Saints of the Catholic Church combined. Once you come to understand the principles of the religions of the African Diaspora like Santeria, Voodoo, and Candomble the Big Three, strictly monotheistic religions all will seem retarded, unevolved, and barbaric to you.
        All spirituality is metaphor. Pick the one that serves you best.

  2. Beer, song, & dance in Munich; evolutionary source of contemporary humans; Bill Gates; & more...."CORRESPONDENCE: The world moves on."