austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I haven't got time for the pain

Grant that nobody has the time they need anymore. If nobody has the time they need anymore, why don't they?

In the far distant past time was simply gathered by people who thought it was just flowers or sand or stuff. Since there were so few people then --- the difference between the world's population then and now is over 35,000 people and two large dogs both named ``Woodsy'' --- uncultivated supplies were plenty to meet needs. There was so much time laying around in harvested piles that people were able to use it to invent things just to burn off the time, such as card games, civilization, deciding how to stack coffee table books, forming carpool lanes, and squabbling over whether the paper cups should be stored open-end up or down.

Then someone went and invented agriculture and discos and highways and all that in the busiest day known to humanity (also invented that day: Monopoly, rubber stamps, and coffee-table books, although coffee would take another 14 days to be invented, out of unneeded candle fragments) and there wouldn't be enough time growing wild, especially after the rise of late feudalism. Under this economic scheme the resources of the country would be gathered for the benefits of courtly poets who used the abundant hours to put together staggeringly long compositions where most of the words were spelled wrong and some of them were things like ``advowson'' or ``messuage'' even when they were right, or, worse, ``rubricator''. This system worked great for the poets and for the word fabricators or, if you prefer, ``ewerer'', but the scheme fell apart as soon as people started thinking they ought to be asked about what their gathered time was used for, the rotters.

Making time instead of just growing it rose with the coming of industrialization, since around then it seemed sensible to take what was perfectly fine in nature and create hideous simulacra that don't actually do the job right. But the manufactured time, patched up with vitamin supplements and Pure Food and Clock acts, was a very nearly healthy-like substance satisfactory for people who didn't get so much of it.

Following World War II and sneaking up around the corner of World War III was the rise of time as a hobby. Leading kit manufacturers figured out that people of all ages would love taking jumbles of parts out of cardboard boxes and assembling and painting a pleasant chunk of time, then forgetting where they left it. They were sold by the millions in the 50s and 60s and people had all sorts of extra lumps of time, allowing for things like the space race and the expansion of Major League Baseball to encompass Houston and pig farming, somehow. Slightly better than the kits at all was kits that came in different colors, so people could have blue, green, or amber times.

But the kit manufacturers went out of business in the 70s and 80s as people lost their screwdrivers and they started fiddling around on computers instead. And the environmental impacts of those lumps of manufactured time came back to haunt people since apparently we just can't do anything without the environmental impacts coming back to haunt people a couple decades later on. Time lumps fell through the surface and turned into time sinks, swiping minutes, hours, even longer stretches of time just when we weren't looking. Note how we just skipped right from August 1995 to March 1997 without anybody even complaining. The release of time from the Strategic Clock Reserve in late 1999 helped prevent the Y2K panic from getting too severe, but we can't keep that sort of thing up forever since every second put out on the open market is one not being used to keep our time blimps floating.

So what's to be done about it? If history is any guide, probably not quite the right thing, and that probably a little bit too late to do what we quite meant. But if you do come across a little spare time, let it know how appreciated it is and maybe call in a local shelter to see about breeding programs.

Trivia: Chrétien-Guillaume Lamoignon de Malesherbes warned Diderot and d'Alembert in 1762 that their controversial Encyclopédie was about to be seized by the royal censors --- manuscripts, plates, bound and unbound copies --- and convinced them to conceal the text in his own house. Malesherbes was at the time the directeur de a librairie, the official in charge of deciding what books may be published. Source: Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Simon Schama.

Currently Reading: Radio Freefall, Matthew Jarpe.

PS: , How Many Last Rides?, about what might well have happened with the probabilistic scheme for getting in a last ride on Disaster Transport this summer.

Tags: humor

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