Dear Reader, My name is [asgardshill], and I convey greetings to you and to others of your civilization. I wrote this letter to tell you something about me and about the times in which I live. This letter is essentially a message in a bottle, set adrift from a not-so-distant shore 50,000 years ago. I like to think of this letter as my own personal time machine, providing you with a glimpse into the thoughts of one average resident of one nation-state known as the United States of America. Of course, whether you choose to read it or not is up to you. But I would like to think that your curiosity will get the better of you and that you will read on, as I am optimistic that my antecedents are still a curious race and therefore a successful one. I trust that you have a way to translate our units of measurement to yours, because you will need it to make much sense of what I am about to tell you. As I write this, I am more than halfway through my lifespan. Although I am in average health for a male of my age which is [redacted] years, the average lifespan of a person in my physical condition is approximately 75 years, leaving me with approximately 25 more years of life barring accident or catastrophic illness. I am [redacted] inches tall and weigh about [redacted] pounds. I wear a prosthetic device known as eyeglasses which corrects a congenital visual weakness that I have. My hair is brown in color but most of it is gone due to another congenital affliction called male pattern baldness. I also have a titanium and Teflon implant in my left knee, replacing the original which was necessitated by a vehicle accident. While I am certainly not the most healthy of my species, I am in reasonable condition considering my age and the life I have led. If we were to somehow meet face to face, the people of your time would likely think that we were primitive savages. And by your standards, we probably are. In our time, our physical bodies suffered from a variety of diseases and afflictions for which our science has no cure. We suffer from accidents that sometimes snuff out our lives in an instant. Some of us kill each other using a variety of methods. A few of us burn to death in fires or drown from prolonged immersion in water. And in a (thankfully) few dreadful cases, we sometimes even end the lives of our unborn children in a procedure called abortion. Most of my people must perform work of some sort in order to provide ourselves with basic human needs such as food, water and shelter. The basic unit of currency in our society is called money. The more money you have, the better you can provide the aforementioned human needs for yourself and your family. The people of my time are contradiction personified. Our world has no single planetary government. It is divided into separate unions called nation-states. Each nation-state has its own leadership, interacting with others with varying degrees of civility. We are usually quite proud of the particular nation-state where we reside, sometimes at the expense of others. We make war on each other but are capable of giving incredible amounts of love and devotion to each other at the same time. Many of us travel from place to place in the course of our work or simply for recreation. No matter what we are doing at the moment, most of us would probably rather be doing something else. We venerate celebrities, fashions, money and power, but not our own souls; we willingly rent those to the highest bidder. We seem to want more sex than we get, and we generally get less than we talk about. (And we talk about it endlessly.) We sniffle pathetically when we catch cold and keel over alarmingly when our arteries clog. You'd probably be embarrassed to be seen with us; we're your lower-middle class relatives with the shocking pink flamingo lawn ornaments. You'll have to pardon our oafishness. You've caught us at an awkward age of transition from primate to cybercreature. Electronic screens have replaced the glowing hearths of our ancestors, but we still contend daily with our prehistoric bodies and brains. Even so, you have to admit we made some startling progress during a millennium that began with bands of Vikings terrorizing misty northern coasts. Today, our terrorists sneak aboard state-of-the-art aircraft carrying concealed explosive devices, and the Vikings are a professional football team composed predominantly of African-Americans. During that span of a thousand years, we produced Gothic architecture, "Don Quixote," calculus, the guillotine, postage stamps, baseball, blimps and electronic greeting cards. We snatched the Americas from their original occupants and even sent a few of our brethren to the moon -- though we never got around to building a deluxe resort hotel and casino there. Most impressively, we did it all on our own -- without the assistance of snooty cyborgs or implanted brain chips. I'd be curious to know what you remember about us. Do you still honor George Washington, for example, or does Rodney Dangerfield get more respect? Which if any of our songs, books, films, buildings, foods and mail-order catalogs do you still cherish? Do you take your children to gaze upon the noble ruins of Disney World? Do your scholars still write annotated treatises on the works of Will Shakespeare -- or do they prefer to deconstruct Paris Hilton? Are you acquainted with the names of Chaucer, Rabelais, Voltaire, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Rick Bayan and Dr. Seuss? Or have your own infinitely inventive cyberauthors relegated all our books to the remainder tables of oblivion? When you watch our old movies and home videos, do you chuckle at our archaic accents and borderline Neanderthal demeanor? Do your comedians still do impressions of Ed Sullivan? Can you hum a few bars of "Jingle Bells" and "I Am the Walrus"? Do the words "A penny saved is a penny earned" mean anything to you? How I'd love to sit down with you and guide you through our millennium, introduce you to our notable personalities, recount the words of the wise and the deeds of the reckless. If you caught me in a mirthful mood, I might tell you how the Mongols invented the tuning fork... how George M. Cohan discovered the Northwest Passage... how the Internet was developed by a colony of left-handed Anabaptists. You'd nod appreciatively and ask me to tell you more. But mainly I'd be curious about your own world. Do you still have nations and nationalities? Did Finland ever become a major power? Have you entirely dispensed with God and Jesus, or do you still trot them out for special holidays whose origins you've forgotten? Do you still couple with other humans, or do you prefer the neater intimacies of Woody Allen's orgasmatron? Do you raise your own children, and if so, do they still ignore you? Do you have to work for a living, or does everyone simply trade technology stocks? Has the Dow topped a billion yet? Do your computers still give you error messages that immediately quadruple your risk of stroke? Does the preserved head of Bill Gates smile enigmatically from its laboratory jar, and does it still dictate corporate policy at Microsoft? How goes the planet? I wonder if the winters are balmy in Saskatoon and Novosibirsk... if melting icecaps have turned your port cities into a thousand Venices... if you still wake up to the warbling of birds on bright spring mornings, or if you have to settle for tinny electronic simulations from your computer console. Does the lion's roar still break the stillness of an African night, or is that just the sound of traffic humming down the Central Tanzanian Expressway? Can you rest upon a bank of wild violets in the shade of a willow tree, or would exposure to fresh air broil your lungs? No doubt you've scored high marks in the realm of science and technology, as future generations always do. After all, you've been able to stand on our shoulders and peer over the garden wall. What kind of brave new world have you inherited, and how have you embellished it? I'd guess you've extended your lifespans to the point that our prune-skinned centenarians seem like mere saplings to you. You'd find it hard to believe that when Sarah Knauss left us just a few short years ago at the age of 119, she was recognized as the oldest human being on the planet. In your time, 119-year-olds are probably running marathons and hosting their own talk shows, if not hanging out with disreputable motorcycle gangs. What other wonders have your scientists wrought? Has genetic engineering produced grapes the size of basketballs or gerbils that speak Portuguese? What about "designer" babies with aptitudes for biophysics, golf or investment banking? Have you succeeded in cloning Napoleon Bonaparte, or at least Calvin Coolidge? Can you preserve the contents of your mind after your body has withered away? Have you made contact with extraterrestrial life, and is it stranger than the late Michael Jackson? Can you swallow a pill to memorize the Encyclopedia Britannica? Or do you leave most of the thinking to the humanoid machines that have doubtless surpassed five hundred Einsteins in cognitive brilliance? Do those synthetic creatures continue to serve you, or have they been promoted to management? I'm as full of questions as a five-year old, but you're probably wondering if I have any answers. I'll do the best I can, given my limited cranial capacity. Despite your dazzling accomplishments, I'd be surprised if you didn't suffer from the same eternal woes that have plagued us as a species from day one: greed, factionalism, fanaticism, violence, lust for status, cruelty toward our inferiors, resentment of our superiors, loneliness, alienation, fear of death, fear of change, fear of everything strange. It doesn't make a pretty picture, but it makes a human one. No matter how thoroughly you're connected to your technology, you can't suppress the inner ape. That's not entirely a bad thing. Savor the innocence and fun of the unprogrammed life, and don't let the machines control the meanderings of your mind. Even if it means failing now and then. Even if it means feeling isolated from the herd. Better to be merry some of the time, and miserable some of the time, than to be merely well-adjusted all of the time. Dare to experience rich and ancient emotions like longing and the gnashing of teeth. Lose control of your faculties for a few hours. Forget about placing your firstborn in a prestigious nursery school. Life is more than the procurement of advantages for yourself and your kin. Don't let your world be reduced to bits of information that need processing. Ignore your corporate mission statement; you require texture, color, sights, tastes, smells, and whatever new senses you've developed by now. Climb a tree. Dance a tango. Eat the whole enchilada. Mingle with live bodies and meet mavericks like yourself. Above all, don't forget your primitive ancestors. Make friends with us. Find a photograph of Lincoln and look him in the eye; let yourself be moved by the souls of the dead, who often know more than the living. And if you have access to a time machine, pay us a visit. We'd love to see how you're doing, and whether you've found a cure for baldness. Any stock tips would also be appreciated.