Thursday, June 15, 2006

Alien Invasions and Rubber Bands:

I should start by pointing you to a bit of SF history that is surely on the web, but I simply cannot find it. Around 1953, the editor of one of the more prestigious Sci Fi magazines (probably NOT Fantasy and Science Fiction) suggested that aliens - Martians, I think - were preparing to attack the earth, and he had stumbled over their plan to render us helpless when the attack came. He had noticed that neither he, nor any one he knew, ever had to buy rubber bands, paper clips, erasers, paper pads, etc. These things were just available whenever needed. Since he had no idea where they were coming from, he "realized" they were being supplied by Martians whose plan was to dry up the supply shortly before they attacked. Every defense force relies upon office supplies to get its job done, and suddenly there would be nothing to write on or with. That was the plan.

A few months later, the same editor issued a retraction. He had heard from many angry souls whose refrain was that they were always buying these things but for some reason the supplies always ran out before they had a chane to use them. He concluded that there might not be an imminent alien attack, but instead he had discovered there were two kinds of people ...

It is the supply of rubber bands in our kitchen that often reminds me of these editorials. We hardly ever buy bands, relying on our postman and the packaging of vegetables to build up our own supply. We have a few specific places to store our supply, and the facinating thing is that the little heap waxes and wanes. Every few months there's hardly a band left. At these times I make a mental decision that by gosh the supply is going to increase, and that's exactly what happens, with perhaps fifty rubber bands of various sizes stacked up a month later.
I cannot quite understand how my intention causes the bands to aggregate, although I suspect that:

  • I use them less wastefully.
  • I throw NONE away.
  • I look everywhere for bands to add to my collection...

Still, it's a bit of a mystery, and I'm sure it has something to do with the Martians.
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