Another Africa story – this time in Zimbabwe

From The Dispatch:

A Zimbabwean newspaper reported that while transporting mental patients from Harare to Bulawayo, the bus driver stopped at a shebeen for a few beers. When he returned, the 20 patients had vanished. He stopped at the next bus stop and offered lifts to people waiting. At a Bulawayo mental hospital he handed over his charges, warning the nurses they were particularly excitable.

After three days the hospital staff finally became convinced of the truth by the consistency of the stories by the 20 people. The real patients have vanished, apparently blending back into Zimbabwean society.

Not that such stories don’t occur in other places (and God knows India has even crazier stuff making it to newspapers practically  every day). But somehow these Africa stories warm my cockles more.


Gaia hypothesis : human limitations : hindu philosophy

in which I promised to tuck away all things not tourism, not travel, not food & likely not of interest…

This morning I read that scientists believe that the Sahara desert might be in retreat with water & life slowly reclaiming it.

The Mahabharata (as most other expositions of hindu thought) talks of life as an endless cycle of Cause and Effect. I remember reading in primary school that the Sahara desert was once (a few million year ago) a lush green landscape. The wheel seems to be turning.

It was in the 1970s that James Lovelock proposed the Gaia hypothesis, whereby he suggested that the Earth’s biosphere and its physical components are all so closely linked in a manner that keeps the balance on earth (‘homeostasis’) enabling Life to flourish. Effectively, he said that we needed to think of the Earth and its biosphere as one huge organism. This is not an easy thought to hold for most of us. And if you extend this idea to saying that the whole universe is actually a single organism and everything is closely linked to create the same homeostasis, then the problem of holding this in one’s head becomes bigger.

Human beings seem to have a problem of scale. Our cognition seems to be finely tuned to the scale at which we operate. Scale can be across many dimensions – the most obvious ones that cause us regular grief seem t0 be Size and Time. It seems to me that we cannot recognize and therefore cannot understand things much much larger than ourselves  or much smaller than ourselves. Modern Science, which is after all a product of human observation (‘empirical‘) was forced to take many a fall, when it was faced with the very small – and the new body of knowledge of the very small is now called Quantum Physics. It is my belief that the very same experience is likely to recur when human beings expand our horizons to be able recognize (however dimly) stuff much larger than ourselves. The same is true of things that occupy much longer or much shorter time spans in relation to human beings.

So, while I appreciate the temporary benefits that accrue to the human race from the energetic work of Mr Al Gore et al, I am unable to get terribly enthusiastic. There seems to be too much going on that we do not understand.

Here is another earlier post I did on the subject of Scale.

Swaziland’s merchant navy

Read on for some ‘news’ from Swaziland that I was pointed to recently:

The situation is absolutely under control,” Transport Minister Ephraim Magagula told the Swaziland parliament in Mbabane. “Our nation’s merchant navy is perfectly safe. We just don’t know where it is, that’s all.” Replying to an MP’s question, Minister Magagula admitted that the landlocked country had completely lost track of its only ship, the Swazimar: “We believe it is in a sea somewhere. At one time, we sent a team of men to look for it, but there was a problem with drink and they failed to find it, and so, technically, yes, we’ve lost it a bit. But I categorically reject all suggestions of incompetence on the part of this government. The Swazimar is a big ship painted in the sort of nice bright colours you can see at night. Mark my words, it will turn up. The right honourable gentleman opposite is a very naughty man, and he will laugh on  the other side of his face when my ship comes in.”