Friday, November 04, 2011


Everything in the man-made world is an idea or thought. The wording of a billboard, the font used on a website. Roads and walls and books and plastic happy meal toys are all based on the thoughts of other human beings. The screen you are staring into, the windshields you peer out of are all the result of ideas piled onto ideas onto ideas, back to the development of glass to the idea that fire might be controlled and made useful. The very thoughts that we think are the result of the thoughts of others.

Our habits are based on the habits of others. What we find acceptable is based on the subset of activities found acceptable by the humans around us.

But WHY does the man-made world even exist? There was a point not long ago when we just scrounged around for food, reproduced, and fended off threats from cold, predators, and other bands of humans. Back then there was just one or two motivating factors:

Where am gonna get more food?
How am I gonna make babies?

Now we have specialized skills, or at least, we are put to specialized tasks. We fix roads or drive trucks or sell trucks or design trucks. We paint or preach or type numbers into spreadsheets. We hunker down in cubicle dungeons, or fly jet airplanes. Humans have decided that other people can grow the crops and raise the cattle, others can slaughter the cattle and others can drive the meat around. Others can process it and package it. Others can cook it. Others can bring it to our table. We get to enjoy it with steak sauce.

How many different ideas are involved to make it possible to walk into a restaurant (restaurants! What an amazing concept) have someone prepare a steak, have someone else bring it to us, all for some pieces of paper with the pictures of long dead leaders on them, or even more amazing, in exchange for the honor of holding on to a rectangle of plastic for a few minutes, and then to return it to us, physically unchanged.

Why this world of music, conditioned air, PEZ dispensers and intercontinental ballistic missiles?

We are primates with the ability to record our thoughts. We can put down our thoughts so that others can later read those thoughts, build on those thoughts, or dismiss thoses thoughts as bullshit.

I know that there is no intrinsic meaning to any of this, yet my life is meaningful (at least it seems meaningful). Life is rich and full of wonder. The man-made world is full of amazing ideas. Amazing concepts and things. Art and sports and literature and video games. That along with the NATURAL world makes eighty or a hundred years on this planet as a human pretty sweet.

I write this in a Panera Bread. I know, what am I doing in an outlet of everything corporate? I don't know, I have some time to kill while I wait for my next appointment. When I'm done writing this, I'm gonna read a book that was published in 1874. I'm going to get lost in a story about people who never existed. How glorious that there are books. How thankful I am for the aproned man who just cleared away my bagel tray. What miracle, my cell phone. It is Friday. It is good to be alive!

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About Me

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I am the author of 5 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, The Cubicles of Madness, Robot Stories, and most recently, Various Meats and Cheeses. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at