How Will the Human Race End? a Humorous Supposition
Too Much Paperwork!
Have You Ever Wondered About the End Times?
These days, there is a lot of talk and speculation about the so-called "end times" or "end of days" based on wild speculation on the ancient Mayan calendar. And when i say, "these days," I mean an ongoing obsession with this unknowable date. Nearly every year, someone comes out of the woodwork, predicting the "end times," based on some obscure of fuzzy notion dredged up from some "holy book," or ancient reckoning system.
There is an entire segment of society that believes the end date on the Mayan calendar is an accurate predictor of the end of the world; after all, it's carved in stone--quite literally. Well, guess what? The date came and went, and here we all are still.
There are also afficionados of Nostradamus' cryptic writings, of which there have been countless interpretations and translations. His work is not carved in stone, however; it's written on paper, so I doubt it holds as much weight.
Even so, if you pull enough paper together, it does get very heavy, so I guess the way to make something believable is to print out umpty-'leven to the 100th power of copies to give it sufficient weight for people to believe what is printed.
After all, if you state a lie enough times, people begin to believe it as the truth. And as Winston Churchill once said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on."
The Government's Role
Have you ever had a look inside the library of Congress? The headquarters of the IRS? How about the EPA? The Office of the Surgeon General? State Government offices?
I have not. However, I can guarantee you that all of the thousands of reams of paper, much of it in book form, that contain each and every one of our laws about anything and everything are stored in those places: and my list is far from complete.
That's right; they're virtually stuffed to the ceiling with paper. Lots and lots of paper. I bet all that paper weighs at least as much as the Statue of Liberty or the ship Queen Mary. Maybe as much as both together. Maybe even more. In fact, I know it does, for in my article on politcal mailings, I was able to calculate that those batches of paper alone, nationwide, outweigh the Queen Mary!
Yellow Legal Paper. Why Yellow? Who Knows?
Yes, lawyers. The more complex a society becomes, the bigger the role of lawyers. Originally, they served simply as mediators between disputing parties; now, they are responsible in large part for the overdose of paperwork.
It's a game of "CYA" (Cover Your A**). Every possible eventuality must be imagined and accounted for in advance, and addressed, lest some itsy-bitsy technicality let some miscreant off the hook. Most of the time, it backfires, and torches the innocent or the plaintiff.
Way back in days before my time, I've heard it said that deals were cemented and honored based on only a firm handshake and solid eye contact. Now, no one looks you in the eye--they can't--they're too busy bent over the table signing reams of paper.
It is the legal profession in large measure responsible for this obscene paper chase at every level of government. Taking sixteen paragraphs, forty sub-paragraphs and ninety-nine sections to say something that could have been stated in a single sentence is just ludicrous.
For example, suppose someone transfers some land to a city for use as a public garden. Two sentences are all that are needed:
1. "I, so-and-so, freely give this land at such and such location, to the City of Noname, for use in perpetuity as a public garden.
2. This gift is solely as stated; no other interpretations are allowed, implied or acceptable; there are to be no attempts to change this condition of the gift, and if so attempted, the ownership of the property reverts to myself or to my heirs or to my named beneficiary as per my last will and testament."
Done. Clean, precise, simple, clear, and no excess verbiage.
So, not only is this paper chase annoying, it is wasteful of time and resources. Legalistic language is so obtuse that of course, either no one actually reads it, or if they do, few understand it. You need to hire a lawyer to interpret what was actually said. They call that job security, don't they?
And speaking of lawyers, you do know, don't you, why sharks don't attack lawyers? Professional courtesy, of course!
In Triplicate, if You Please! No, Make it Quintuple Copies!
The Medical Profession
Ah, yes. Our esteemed doctors and nurses. When was the last time you or someone you know had to be admitted to the hospital? Remember the forms to be filled out, sometimes in triplicate carbon copies; sometimes several different forms asking apparently the same questions?
Not only medical history on the patient, but also governmental (yes, them again) mandated "privacy act" notifications. You have to sign that you were advised, and are given a copy. No, no one actually advised you--they just shoved the paper at you to sign.
The paper you sign is, in fact, the privacy act notice, but when someone is being admitted to the hospital, they and their loved ones are unlikely to be in any kind of emotional state to read legalese.
Have you ever bought a house? More than one house? I have. Three times. (Well, ok, once it was a condominium, but the principles and realities are the same.)
The first house I bought, with my ex-husband, was back in 1976. We had to sign about a dozen pieces of paper, and we were done. By the time he and I called it quits in 1997 and I bought myself the condo, I had to sign what amounted to an entire booklet of paperwork. Not only were there the sales papers, but also the condominium association paperwork.
By the time my current husband and I bought the house in which we now live, the paperwork had escalated to nearly an entire ream of legal-size papers, in fine print, double-sided. And that was a mere five years after the condo purchase. Oh, and by the way--when you sell a house, you sign all the same papers, so if you are buying one place after the sale of another, you get a double dose of this nonsense.
Most of this goes right back to the lawyers, as ever more petty complaints about assorted imagined slights or non-disclosures about the property have surfaced. Everyone must be "protected," yet in the end, no one truly is.
Buying a House? Get Ready For Writer's Cramp!
Corporations and Computers
Yes, big business is involved, as well in this conspiracy. Yep, there's something here for the conspiracy enthusiasts!
For a time, I worked at a major bakery in their accounts payable department. Every week a report was distributed to all the branches, statewide, outlining sales figures, supply flow, and so forth. Back in the days before computers, such reports would be hand-done by each individual outlet.
Then computers came along and centralized all of it, and massive reports with more information were being pumped out. Reports busy managers did not have time to read. I was witness to more than one office where the reports were simply tossed in a corner to be filed, and were never read.
We're not talking about a couple of pages of descriptions and accompanying statistics--we're talking about those massive computer printouts--you know, those green-and-white-striped-and-fan-folded globs of paper at least an inch thick and 18 inches wide; all of it just columns of numbers.
Very few of these ever got read or gone through in the kind of detail presented. Computers are very good at sorting, comparing, storing and retrieving data. Unfortunately, not all of that data is useful or needed that often. So why did they print out these tons of paper reports? Just because they could.
Hasn't the novelty of "what computers can do" worn off yet? Why print out useless information "just because you can?" Just because you can do something, does not mean you should!
Since computers are so good at sorting and storing, why not just leave the data in the machine; and when someone needs to look up any figure or transaction, it will be available to them, with no waste of paper!
Oh, the Irony!
All of this paper follows on the heels of a government (naturally!) edict demanding a reduction in the amount of paperwork! How can I tell? One of the papers we had to sign in the purchase of the house was acknowledgment of "compliance with the paperwork reduction act."
You have got to be kidding me!
Sign an additional paper to prove the use of less paper????!!!
There was far more paper used than I had ever seen before in a single transaction!
(In retrospect, I should have refused to sign!)
What has become of the "paperless office" we were promised when computers arrived on the scene? It was a lie. Instead, the opposite has happened. Computers have not only not reduced the paper load, they have increased it exponentially!
Reams and Reams of Paper Are Wasted
It's Quite Simple, Really
I have independently figured out the way the world, or society, will end. It truly is quite simple, and despicably fitting.
Due to the "helpful" influences of all the assorted characters listed in the previous sections, it becomes obvious that society, as we know it, and the extinction of the human race will happen in one great avalanche of paper stacks. We will all suffocate and be crushed under the weight of the accumulated paperwork.
It is as certain and equally as guaranteed as the works of Nostradamus, any religious predictions, or the weight of the Mayan calendar stone.
All of the artwork used in this article is from "Art Explosion" software by Nova Development, and is public domain clip art licensed for use in works, including web pages and other internet applications.
So, How Do You Dispose of All This Paper?
There are many ways. Some folks just toss it all in the trash, where it ends up in a landfill.
Most cities now have recycling programs, and residents are supposed to sort their trash; straight garbage, paper and cardboard, and green waste.
Recycling is the best option if it is available. But hold on; you don't want to just stuff in any and all papers! We live in an age where identity theft is becoming all too common. So, don't put anything with your name, address, phone or social security numbers into the recycle bin; likewise any documents referencing bank accounts or loans.
Ideally, run those papers through a cross-cut shredder, as I do. Mine happens to be a It does a great job of obliterating those personal bits of info the better to foil thieves! It even chops up expired credit cards! Fellowes shredder.
Additionally, it has a safety lock, so I don't need to worry about one of our cats perching atop, and accidentally shredding their tail!
The resulting shred can then be bagged and tossed into the recycle bin. Some of it might be useful as tinder in starting a bonfire, and, given that it is so finely chopped up, it can even serve as packing material for fragile items! Now that's really recycling!
© 2011 Liz Elias