December 1, 2015
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Von Neumann, widely regarded as perhaps the most intelligent man who ever lived, had this to say:
It is just as foolish to complain that people are selfish and treacherous as it is to complain that the magnetic field does not increase unless the electric field has a curl. Both are laws of nature.
There’s an amazing story (H/T Candide) of a Belgian couple who for some stupid reason decided to drive across the Belgian Congo (DRC today). They documented the whole trip on this forum. The whole adventure is a great story, of course. Unless you’re like me, and can’t stop wondering why would anybody attempt such a stupid trip. Why, oh why. I mean I sorta get it if you’re a 20 something man with your buddies. But a couple on their 30s (by the look of them)? What kind of man brings a woman to such a place? It’s insane. On the other hand I find it very useful, when I show it to my wife to tell her how lucky she is of having a man without a death wish.
That said, it is an amazing read. I liked this passage the best:
Bicycle tracks are not suited for Landcruisers… so we got stuck. The villages usually had the worst obstacles. In this one village there was a big boghole filled with water. We drove in but did not see the pigs that were taking a bath so we slowed down to give them the time to get out.
Big mistake. We were stuck. The water came to the bottom of the door. This particular mudpit had a bit of a funny smell. It was the favourite place of the pigs so it probably contained a fair amount of sh*t. It sure smelled like it. The entire village gathered round us while we got out, knee deep in sh*t.
They did not offer help.
We started clearing the wheels. Josephine hurt her foot on a stick, the pain could be seen on her face. The people thought this was extremely funny and burst out laughing. This was very humiliating for Josephine and I could see the anger on her face. We looked at eachother and understood that this was not the time to get angry or start discussions with 50 or so people. We continued to work. As I bend over to clear the mud from underneath the car my pants get wet up until my ehrm.. ‘privates’.. . Once again this is the funniest thing these people have ever seen. Hilarity ensues. This was very humiliating to us.
Eventually they offered to help us if we pay them. I tell them that I do not have money. They did not move an inch.
It takes the best part of an hour to get us out. To their surprise we stop again and I get out and walk up to them. Very calmly I explain that we did not like it when they laughed at us. I asked them how they would react if they hurt themselves and we would laugh at them. The acknowledged that they would get mad at us.
I asked them if they would want us to help them if they had a problem. The acknowledged this. I said what they would think if we asked for money before we would help them. They called us racists and immediately demanded money from us.
Of course they did.