This reminds me of why I sometimes think that people are not descendants of Neanderthals, as commonly believed.
We learn in Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the second in his five book “trilogy” Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that our ancestors had been dispatched from the planet Golgafrincha on the pretense that it was about to be destroyed (perhaps as a result of global warming; I don’t remember). They were principally telephone sanitizers and marketing executives. Miraculously, the threat of destruction disappeared as soon as they had left Golgafrincha. It’s a trifle convoluted, but here’s the relevant part of the story:
The teleporter has meanwhile sent Arthur and Ford to the Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B, a ship of fools which crash-lands on prehistoric Earth. They realize that the bumbling travellers are the real ancestors of modern humans, not the Neanderthals originally inhabiting the planet. . . .
As Ford convinces Arthur that there is nothing that can be done to improve the inevitable history of the Earth, Arthur decides that he should make the best of his situation and settles for a life on prehistoric Earth.
When the Golgafrinchans had arrived on Earth, one of the most creative among them suggested that they should invent fire.
“Well, you’re obviously being totally naive”, Said the girl, “When you’ve been in marketing as long as I have, you know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them.”
“Stick it up your nose,” he [Ford] said.
“Which is precisely the sort of thing we need to know,” insisted the girl. “Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?”
Another of the most creative suggested that inventing a “wheel thingy” might be a good idea. But first, market testing would be required.
“And the wheel,” said the Captain, “what about this wheel thingy? It sounds a terribly interesting project.”
“Ah,” said the marketing girl, “well, we’re having a little difficulty there.”
“Difficulty?” exclaimed Ford. “Difficulty? What do you mean, difficulty? It’s the single simplest machine in the entire Universe!”
The marketing girl soured him with a look. “All right Mr. Wiseguy,” she said, “you’re so clever, you tell us what color it should be.”
I don’t recall whether they ever got around to inventing and marketing either fire or the wheel. Someone, without the assistance of marketing executives, must have done so eventually. In any event, Douglas Adams is a great resource for those who want to understand humanity.
It’s funny sometimes how two friends of yours get onto parallel courses, isn’t it? Yesterday I was sitting here,dealing with my normal stuff when I got an e-mail from an old friend. He was incredibly frustrated he said, because he had just come from meeting, in one of his employer’s divisions. It’s a division about which I know little since instead of hard products and services like I work with it deals in support functions. He described the meeting like this.
It really was the worst meeting I have attended here. They are in deep crisis, losing a million and a half a year, and yet still cannot make a decision.
For three hours they talked, and oh, how they talked, they talked and talked and talked, all about how to avoid doing anything except create a structure which would prevent anyone from doing anything. Their VP really has no…
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