Monday, June 20, 2011


I have one of those refrigerators with a water dispenser on the door. When I am thirsty, I can take a clean glass out of the cupboard and put it under the little spout in the water dispenser and cold filtered water comes out. I can have ice and water and I can drink the whole thing or have another one or only half until the fillings in my teeth hurt from the cold. This miracle happens millions of times a day in developed countries and we are so used to this miracle, we don't even realize how lucky we are to live in this age.

To live in this age. To have conditioned air. Through the miracle of Wikipedia, I can tell you that air-conditioning as we know it wasn't invented until around 1902, and it became commonplace over the following two decades. U.S. Pat# 808897 was granted to the father of air conditioning, St. Willis Haviland Carrier in 1906 for an "Apparatus for Treating Air". It wasn't until 1928 that Carrier came out with a residential unit, and sales only took off after the depression and WWII. So no widespread air conditioning until around 1945. What hellish world did mankind live in before that? That means for tens of thousands of years, mankind suffered through intolerable heat. Can you imagine?

There are people living today (many of them in the hot parts of the world) who have never been in air conditioning. They have no running water. No Internet. They must poop in the streets.

A glass of cold water. Clear and cold in a clean glass. Transparent. Ice floating, cracking. It is a miracle. The odds of being born human in this century, in this age of creature comforts, to be lucky enough to be one of the haves, are very thin. It is much more likely that one is born unlucky, baking in the sun, wasting away, idle and angry. What is man's fate? Why do some get to drink ice-cold water any time they want while someone else is dying of thirst? How many millions go days without a decent meal while I can walk into a cool, clean grocery store and buy a cartful of food and load it into my air-conditioned car, serenaded by music while I navigate smooth streets with orderly traffic and take my load of food to my air-conditioned house and put that food in a refrigerated box that also dispenses cold water whenever I want it? Why do I get to do that while another family somewhere in the world lives in a landfill, sifting through garbage in order to survive?

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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