Time Bandits - Randall

Around this time last year I wrote a column titled "Five Things That Seem Much Bigger Than They Really Are," and one of our contributing writers, Matthew Chard, suggested I write a contrasting follow-up column, to which I replied, "You'll definitely be seeing it in the new year." Since the year is almost over, I figured I'd finally get off my ass and deliver.

Follow along now for what is sure to be one of the most insignificant and meaningless pieces of literature that I or anyone else has ever authored in the history of the written word. (Oh yeah, in case you missed it in the last article, I tend to blow things out of proportion…and it goes both ways.)

5. Ideas

Idea light bulb
"I've got an idea forming in my head."

No one knows what the first idea was, mostly because some of the other things in this list came about long after the first idea ever entered into existence, because they couldn't possibly have been communicated, documented, or created without the existence of an idea preceding them. Confused? Well consider this idea then. Philosophy is defined as a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means. In other words, just sitting around and basically thinking about shit without actually doing anything. History may define philosophy that way, but present day people simply call that happy hour, which incidentally gives me an idea. Do you think thousands of years from now, some of us are going to be revered as great philosophers of our time for just thinking and talking about random shit when we're completely off our face? Maybe not, but I like to think that all the great philosophers throughout history were really just stupid drunk all the time and that is why they were remembered as so philosophical.

4. Words

Words refrigerator magnets
"Now we must bait the hook, see if they bite… and pull them in."

The ability to communicate ideas and document thoughts with words is massive when compared to the actual size of the individual words, unless maybe you're talking about the largest known protein, Titin, which incidentally has 189,819 letters in its IUPAC chemical name. The power of words have incited revolutions, won elections ("Four More Years!"), started wars, caused pain, and brought about genocide, but they have also abated revolutions, lost elections ("Eat a dick, Mitt Romney!"), ended wars, created laughter, and spread a message of peace, love, and acceptance. So it's difficult to say whether words are technically a good thing or a bad thing.

In no other medium has the ambiguity, interpretation, and misinterpretation of words caused so much hate and love at the same time than in religion. Whether you're reading The Bible, The Torah, The Qur'an, The ?ruti, or some other antiquated religious text, invariably those little words you're reading have at some point been used to justify the ending of another human being's life. I think that's my biggest problem with religion in general: so many people justify doing really shitty things to people by simply pointing to a bunch of words in a book written by a bunch of people who were very likely high as fuck when they wrote it. Sometimes I think this world would be a much better place without religion. Word! …Ironically that means "truth," whereas "The Word" is really just a bunch of horseshit lies pawned off as the thoughts of an imaginary invisible cloud person to make people feel better about their meaningless existence…or something to do with a bird, I'm not sure which.

3. Inventions

Earth's global network
"God isn't interested in technology. He cares nothing for the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how he spends his time, 43 species of parrots! Nipples for men!"

Even the smallest invention can have widespread effects on societal development. In fact, some inventions have had such a monumental impact that they altered the course of humanity forever. For instance, the printing press, the steam engine, the telephone, the telescope, the microscope, electricity, the computer, birth control…oh come on, admit it, you know that last one is equally as awesome as some of those other ones are. The ability to have sex without becoming the Duggars is way more amazing than something rendered obsolete by text messaging. Seriously, doesn't anyone talk to each other anymore without using their thumbs?

Oh and to all of you people out there who still send me text messages, knowing full well how I feel about texting, please take comfort in knowing that I did in fact answer you with my finger. All of you make me remember George Carlin's words about the invention of flamethrowers: "At some point some person said to himself, ‘Gee I sure would like to set those people on fire over there, but I'm way too far away to get the job done. If only I had something that would throw flame on them.' Well it might of ended right there, but he mentioned it to his friend, his friend who was good with tools." So next time you pick up your phone to text me, please remember that not only am I good with tools, but flamethrowers have in fact already been invented, as well as many other imaginative lovely little death-bringing contraptions.

2. The Universe

Universe map with stars
"The fabric of the universe is far from perfect. It was a bit of a botched job, you see. We only had seven days to make it."

Whereas the perception of the Earth is historically getting smaller and smaller, regardless of the physics of aging international criminal midgets, (see previous article for shrinking midget physics logic) the perception of the universe is constantly getting larger and larger. Everyone has heard the expression, "It's a small world," but no one has likely ever said, "Wow, the universe is a really small place." The reason is because the size of the universe is fucking huge… almost incomprehensible to most people even after they've had it explained to them by Morgan Freeman in an IMAX theater.

The reason we know it's huge is because a scientist had an idea, that they then expressed with words, and turned into an invention like the telescope, which we now use to observe things like distant galaxies. What Morgan Freeman failed to explain in the Cosmic Voyage power of ten signpost demonstration is why whack-a-mole religious nuts still cling to the idea of an invisible cloud person that created everything when we have inventions now that can see past the clouds. Ever since science started disproving religion the small-minded religious nuts have evolved their explanation on why they think God is still real, thereby ironically demonstrating exactly how people evolve to adapt to their current environment in order to survive.

1. You

Me, Hate, Evil
"What sort of supreme being created such riffraff?"

So given the scientifically proven great vastness of the universe and our completely insignificant existence on our tiny little planet, for what is really a couple of seconds of its geologic time, almost nothing else could seem smaller than a single person. And yet you matter. You matter more than you realize to so many. You matter to me simply for reading this and for that I sincerely thank you. In addition, I'm sure you have many people in your personal lives that you matter to more than they could ever even put into ideas or words. There isn't a single invention on the planet that can adequately express the love one person can have for another, which means even just one person can make a huge difference in your universe. So cheer up, you know what they say, "Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle and this'll help things turn out for the best. And always look on the bright side of life…"

There you have it, five things that seem much smaller than they really are. What do you think seems much smaller than it really is?

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