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Thursday, June 7

Taking It For Granted

So, imagine the scenario, you trip over a stone one day and bang your head. It puts you into some sort of coma. Medical technology, a few months hence, has moved to the point where you're cryogenically frozen and stored until medical science has a cure. Your cryo unit gets put somewhere and the years tick by. At some future point, after some bizarre apocalyptic event, yours is the only cryo unit left running, the time runs out, you're thawed and, as a massive fluke, you actually wake up, asking "how long was I out?".

The cave dwellers in this archive where you were stored, are not very capable of communicating with you, but soon encourage you to make a life for yourself in a world that you no longer recognise. You decide that you'll start to come to terms with this world by writing a diary. There are no books, so you think "I know. I'll take a few leafs of paper, write on them with a rudimentary quill pen, and hold them together with a paper clip."

Here's the problem though. Never mind that you've no idea how paper and quills and ink are made. How can you make a paper clip? You know what they're made of. They are a piece of metal wire bent into shape. Surely it's one of the simplest devices known to man, second only to the wheel and the wire coat hanger? These post-apocalyptic beasts have figured out the wheel, they've worked out fire too, but they've no clothes to hang on a wire hanger, owing to a mishap with the fire, a poor sense of fashion, and the lack of necessity, since they only have the one set, which they wear all the time. How are you going to make this paperclip?

There's no wire. You'd have to extrude some metal. Huh? You know... erm... stretch it out somehow. Right... and how big a piece of metal do you need? And how many twists are there in a paperclip again? And how do you get it regular shaped, rather than sort of lumpy? And how tall is a paperclip? You're not even going to be able to work your designs through on paper, since you've not even gotten round to sorting out the paper and writing thing. You think "fuck this, I'll just use a stapler" but you've no stapler, or staples and making staples seems even more precise a job than paperclips. Ring binder? You're having a laugh.

In the end, my advice is to forget about it, get a pet, and maybe work out how to make fireworks to go with the big bonfires people insist on having every night. You'd start to appreciate how they start these fires, given that there's no newspaper to use to get it all going.


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