William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Wolfrum's Morning: Don't Panic


    Thanks for all the fish, Douglas.

    Wolfrum's Word

    Douglas Adams died 10 years today. It was an incredible loss for his millions of fans, as well as the public in general. Because Adams was one of the first public figures to truly understand and embrace the Internet. Here's what he had to say in 1999:

    Because the Internet is so new we still don’t really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because that’s what we’re used to. So people complain that there’s a lot of rubbish online, or that it’s dominated by Americans, or that you can’t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back – like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’ What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust – of course you can’t, it’s just people talking – but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV – a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’

    You are missed, Douglas. Hope you're enjoying the End of the Universe.



    Free Money for Oil: Remember, if we stop flat-out handing oil companies billions of dollars, that's a tax hike. At least, that's how John Boehner and Republicans are trying to frame the giveaway to the world's most profitable industry.

    Syria: Death & Violence.

    No Plan in Indiana: Sorry, residents of Indiana, you don't get Planned Parenthood anymore, as Gov. Mitch Daniels shuts it down. A big victory in the Republicans War against Women.

    Holy Gays and Lesbians!: Non-celibate gays and lesbians will become eligible for ordination in the Presbyterian Church.



    Progress Florida: "If making it harder to vote, gutting public schools, salary cuts for first responders and paving paradise were what Floridians wanted, Gov. Scott and this legislature deserve a standing ovation."

    Intersection of Madness and Reality: Sarah Palin and Conservatives are not rap fans. Go figure.

    There Will Be Cupcakes: Remembering Victoria Woodhull, a true trail blazer.

    Vagabond Scholar: A polite media doesn't help anyone except the liars.



    Not only did we lose Douglas Adams on this date, but Bob Marley, as well. Today is a day for remembrances. And Redemption.


    Crossposted at William K. Wolfrum Chronicles



    Man, DNA was awesome. He is truly and sorely missed. Thanks for reminding us.

    It must be Wednesday.  I never could get the hang of Wednesdays...

    "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability
     to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable
     for their apparent disinclination to do so." - Adams


    (An extraterrestrial robot and spaceship has just landed on earth. The robot steps out of the spaceship...)

    "I come in peace," it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, "take me to your Lizard."

    ’It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…’

    ‘You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?’

    ‘No,’ said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, ‘nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.’

    ‘Odd,’ said Arthur, ‘I thought you said it was a democracy.’

    ‘I did,’ said Ford. ‘It is.’

    ‘So,’ said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, ‘why don’t people get rid of the lizards?’

    ‘It honestly doesn’t occur to them,’ said Ford. ‘They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.’

    ‘You mean they actually vote for the lizards?’

    ‘Oh yes,’ said Ford with a shrug, ‘of course.’

    ‘But,’ said Arthur, going for the big one again, ‘why?’

    ‘Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,’ said Ford, ‘the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?’


    ‘I said,’ said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, ‘have you got any gin?’

    ‘I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.’

    Ford shrugged again.

    ‘Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them,’ he said. 'They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it.’

    Very apropos.

    Thanks for reminding us about Adams and Marley. Unique, irreplaceable voices.

    I loved everything that Douglas Adams wrote, but his last book, "Last Chance to See," when he traveled the world to see animals on the edge of extinction has a special place in my heart.  In it he referenced birds that had lost the ability to fly and were beaten to death by humans (just for fun, because they didn't taste good) who "discovered" the islands the birds had lived peacefully on for who knows how long.

    His 4 book, Hitchhiker's Guide, "Trilogy" is what made him famous, but the Dirk Gently Detective Agency books were wonderful and very thought-provoking.  

    I don't know where I read this, but he referred to the joy of fatherhood, and noted that his little infant (I think it was a son) would give him a strange look now and then, and Douglas's take on that was that the baby was "rebooting."  This was mentioned as he was discovering his love for computers.

    He was a real treasure, and I always wondered if he had undiagnosed Marfan's Syndrome.  He died while exercising on a treadmill, which suggested that to me.


    Now, don't get me started on Bob Marley, whose gift to this world continues to keep us going with a little bit of hope.

    His 4 book, Hitchhiker's Guide, "Trilogy" is what made him famous, but the Dirk Gently Detective Agency books were wonderful and very thought-provoking.

    Great news! He wrote 5 books in that "trilogy". Good news, there's also a sixth book. Granted, it wasn't written by him, but I've heard it's very good. Eventually, I'll find out if that's true.

    I believe it was a daughter, CVille, and 42 was his age when she was born. Aha!

    Adams is the only person I know who wrote with a lilt. Almost as if to challenge his readers, "I can pull this off because both of us know the very next word you read will be hilariously perfect." And it would be. And you, the reader, would say, "OK, I'll give you that one. But ...."

    A total delight to read. And yes, Hitchhiker fans overlook Dirk Gently and Teatime of the Soul at their peril.

    I cannot resist (you know I just can't) without my absolute favorite part of HG:

    May 42 be with you all :)

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