It is said that there are seven deadly sins. These include lust, pride, envy, making one too many trips to the all-you-can-eat buffet, anger, voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger, and sloth.
Personally, I think this list misses humanity's greatest and most common sin: procrastination. And no, I am not focused on this because my deadline to file this column is in twenty minutes. Honest.
We probably learn procrastination at an early age. For example, as children, we often hear Mom say, “You're not leaving this table until you finish that pile of beets/chopped liver/pickled herring on your plate.” We quickly learn that if we stay at the table long enough after everyone else has cleared off that A) The family dog will show up and rescue you; or B) Mom will forget about you until it's time for bed at which time you can beat it out of the kitchen and be fast asleep by the time she discovers the stuff congealing under your place mat.
We take this bad habit with us through school (“Hmm, maybe Mr. Timmins didn't really mean that the essay on the importance of chowder in the 18th century was due today. Maybe he's extended the deadline for two more weeks. Yeah!”) and into adulthood (“Hmm, maybe if I hold off issuing this month's mortgage payment, I'll win the lottery next week and the bank will understand!”)
Unfortunately it's not just your average citizen who engages in procrastination and wishful thinking. For instance, the people who look after the Internet only recently discovered that they need to come up with a better IP numbering system.
An IP number is your 'address' on the Internet. The Internet was only set up with 4 billion of these addresses, and we are due to run out of them in 2005. Apparently, planners originally figured that A) Only two-thirds of the world's population would ever bother with the Internet; B) No one was ever going to have any more children and thus our population would not get bigger; and C) People who send junk email were really, deep down, nice people, who would not snap up 3.9 billion IP addresses for themselves.
You can bet that other systems have been set up in a similarly short-sighted way, and that the people in charge of fixing it are basically just hoping the problem will go away.
Consider bank card PIN (Personal Identification Number). Since PINs are usually only four numbers, which doesn't give you very many possible combinations, this system is horribly flawed and that means that there are probably no less than 45,985 John Smiths with the PIN 3589.
Er, sorry about that guys. You may want to go change your number now.
Ahem, anyway, perhaps the worst group of all for being in denial and putting off changes are television studio executives. In North America recently, these executives announced that they were absolutely stunned to discover that ratings for the new fall season of TV shows were abysmally low.
Indeed, they were shocked to find that no one is watching this year's version of the “reality show” called Joe Millionaire. This is possibly because it turned out last year that he was neither named Joe, nor was he an actual millionaire, but I'm just guessing. They were also surprised to find that the show Skin, which is about a cast of characters in the adult film industry, isn't doing well either. Okay, perhaps we can forgive them for not being able to predict this failure. After all, these films are well-known for having engaging, thoughtful plots with unforgettable characters, and make for excellent family viewing.
Since the TV industry is what it is, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the mid-season replacement shows will be about A) cops; B) lawyers; and C) cops and lawyers working together. Will the TV studios ever get around to fixing their programs? Yes, but by that time, most people will have turned off the box in favor of watching their grass grow.
In the meantime, I'll sign off here because I have dishes to do. I'm going to get them all cleaned up.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.