Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Sayings of Fred

Caution: You will be tested on the contents of this lesson.
You ask anyone when “the good ole days” were, and most will say the years of their youth. It strikes me that that is about 25,000 years off. The “good ole days” were when that Neanderthal, Fred, finally had a thought. It may have went something like this.
Fred, sitting across the cave fire from Barney, nibbling on a Mammoth toe, looked across at Barney and Betty and the thought dawned on him that he liked these two Neanderthals, his neighbors. Also, as much a surprise to himself as he could imagine, the thought occurred to him that he liked his other neighbors. He looked around at his sparse cave at the things he owned. The long spear with the sharp flint head that Barney made. He was the best tradesman in the tribe. He made the sharpest spear heads. And, the soft double-bed made with soft and pliant grass stuffed in a sewn cave bear skin that Betty made. And, only last week the Shaman discovered the latest technological miracle: he melted mammoth tallow into an oil that kept those pesky insects in his bed from biting.
Ah, the wonders of this time. It was good to be alive. Who, in all this world, would have thought he would live to see such things?
Wilma, as usual, wasn't paying much attention to Fred, knowing that Fred has a tendency to wander in thought. That was the reason Fred wasn't the chief of the tribe. He was easily distracted.
You know, Barney, I've decided to do something different.”
Oh, oh,” says Barney. “Another cockeyed idea.”
Nope,” says Fred. “This is a good idea. I've decided to treat you like I'd like you to treat me.”
What?” says Barney. “That's not an idea. That's like a... I don't even know what that is. That's like air. It has no substance. Can't eat or smoke it. What kind of crazy idea is that?”
You're right, Barney,” says Wilma. “Fred is always coming up with these brain farts.”
Nope,” says Fred. “It's not a fart. Besides, air is important. If we didn't have air, we would die. So, you're right. My idea is like air. It's crucial. When I come to your cave, Barney, I'm not going to just barge right in like I always do. I'm going to tap on a rock and wait for your invitation. I'm not going to sell you mammoth fat anymore, I'm going to give it to you. And, when Dino shits in your yard, I'm going to clean it up. And, when you ask for warmth, I'll give you my coat. And, when you want to walk a mile hunting, I'll walk two miles with you. And, I won't put my stuff in your cave anymore and I won't claim any part of your stuff as mine.”
What the hell has gotten into you, Fred?” says Barney. “Have you gone soft?. What about your manliness? What about knocking Wilma in the head when you want some?”
I'm not getting soft. I like you and Betty and I'd like you to like me. Sort 'a like real friends. And, I'm not going to knock Wilma in the head anymore. I want her to like me, too - to freely give it up by her own will.”
Wilma looks at Fred with a surprised look on her face and thought a moment. “Why Fred,” she says, “I think I like this new Fred. We need a new word for this. It's like Human. Or maybe Cro-magnon.”
Yep,” says Fred, “It's a new day.”
Bet you thought it was Plato, Socrates, Aristotle or Jesus who thought up how to treat your fellow man or to use reason for that purpose. Nope. It was Fred.

The test:
Question 1: On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is “goddamned stupid”, 5 is “about average” and 10 is “super goddamned smart,” how much more smart is Fred than the modern human in 2010?

Question 2 (essay question): In ten pages, discuss the modern human and environment in 2010, including a brief history of achievements, and include in your summary paragraph your opinion on how much progress we've made in 25,000 fucking years.


  1. 10 – super goddamned smart

  2. Summary paragraph opinion: zilch.


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