Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DECEMBER 17th [Science Comedy Advent Calendar]

December 17th: Coal

The traditional Santa mythology emphasises how he discerns between naughty and nice children. Nice children, they get toys. But what do naughty children get? It could be anything; reindeer dung, wood shavings, beard clippings, unwashed Santa pants, anything that the big man can get his hands on that he and a child are unlikely to want.

But apparently, he gives them coal. This makes a superficial amount of sense. Coal is ‘dirty’. Coal can’t be played with. Coal is mundane.

That is, unless you’re a science fan, of course. If you are, what Santa Clause is essentially saying to you is; “you’ve been very bad, so what you’re getting is a mass that is essentially the compacted remains of dinosaurs and prehistoric plants, that is millions of years old and has been processed by the incredible heat and pressure applied by the very Earth itself, and extracted from the ground in conditions that are extremely dangerous and regularly kill people”.

Any bad kid worthy of the title should be very happy with coal. But maybe they’re not? Maybe I just don’t understand kids. It’s an old tradition, of course. But imagine the consequences of it all.

Bad kids get threatened with coal, don’t heed the warnings, and then actually do receive coal. Children arguably don’t really have enough appreciation of the consequences of their actions to completely alter their behaviour to appease some omnipresent magic bearded man (whatever the Pope may tell you), so the receiving of coal convinces them that life isn’t fair, and you have to look after number 1 in this world, every man/woman for himself etc.  All other kids would have the cool toys they so desire, but can’t have. This would be compounded further by the revelation that there was never any Santa in the first place, so you can’t even trust your family.

What you’d eventually end up with a large proportion of the adult population who had no real grasp of ethical behaviour, a fierce sense of self interest, a covetous desire for the possessions of others and access to a lot of coal.

(Short one today, and probably tomorrow, v busy of late)

Twitter: @garwboy


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