Why Not To Make A Presentation


The thing about making a presentation is there’s no good reason to do it. Nobody likes making a presentation. The normal person, told to present a something, will throw their hands up and shriek. Yes, as though they were a mouse spotting a housewife in a cartoon from the 1940s. Then they’ll run through the most immediately nearby door, even if it’s the one to the linen closet. “Wait,” you protest, insisting that’s not real. “We’re at work. Why would we have a linen closet at work?” Well, if that’s not a linen closet then why is Holden buried under an avalanche of the successfully-folded towels? Hmm?

The other thing is nobody wants to see a presentation. Think of the great presentations of history. There was Stephen Jobs, in 1998, telling the world that Apple had decided to try making computers and music players and phones that people liked. And they’d stop whatever the heck they’d been doing the previous fifteen years. (They had been inventing new numbers to put at the end of fake, vaguely Latin names with meaningless letters suffixed. You know, like, Quadra CE 6122 or Performa XXL 230p or Centris vx715 III+: Turtles In Time.) There was Albert Einstein, in 1915, presenting how the non-Euclidean nature of spacetime explained gravity. There was King James II’s presentation of his son in 1688. This inspired the whole of England to rise up, throw the King into the Channel, and grab the nearest Dutchman to be King instead.

And the next other thing is you don’t have anything to say. Goodness, Dwight Eisenhower thought winning the War in Europe didn’t need anything more than a quick telegram. Yes, yes, he did that thing where he put his thumb on his nose and wiggled his fingers in the general direction of Flensburg. But who doesn’t do that from time to time? What do you even call that? You used to see it in cartoons. I think it was called “Flensburg”. If that didn’t rate a 45-minute discussion about process completion and goal reorientation how does your thing rate?

Also there’s no good way to make the presentation. The best sort of presentation is where you have a giant, cartoony implement with a lot of whirring wheels and spinning belts. You can take a big bucket labelled “STUFF” and pour it in the top. Then there’s a lot of chirring and chugging and whirling around of those little brass spheres on steeply-angled legs and all that. Eventually something goes “DING!”. A neatly-wrapped package drops out from the front. You get to at most three of those presentations a year. The waiting list for that machine is years long. Proponents of capitalism as a theory tell us that of course with such high demand manufacturers are going to step up production and make many more. Capitalists will innovate to make device-manufacture cheaper and more accessible to a wider market. They’re so cute when they talk nonsense like that. Mortals like us have to settle for waiting for the overhead projector to warm up. Then shuffle quickly through the only Powerpoint trick we can do. It’s having a line of text rotate on a central vertical axis until it finally snaps into place. We don’t know how to do it. Powerpoint started doing that one day and it seems to be having so much fun it can’t stop. We have to carry on as if we meant it.

One more thing is who’s got time to get to a presentation? I suppose there are people sprawling out on their floor. They’re thinking how they don’t have anything to do. And they’ve got all the time and energy in the world to do it with. These people are eight years old, nine max. The rest of us have upwards of twelve minutes of unscheduled time per day. If we bunch it all up for a week or so we might be able to fit in watching your projector turn off because it’s overheated. But is your talk worth it?

So if you don’t want to make a presentation, and nobody wants to see a presentation, and you don’t have anything that needs a presentation, and nobody expects any presentation to be all that good, and nobody has the time for a presentation anyway, why are you doing it? I don’t know. We live in complicated times, that’s all. Maybe we should have thought things out when we set up society back when we were starting it like eight years ago. There was someone who had some ideas we thought we should consider but we never had any way of hearing her outline them. Too bad.

What Do Angels Do All Day?


So, what do angels do all day? I wasn’t particularly looking for trouble when I started thinking about this, and I can’t really say I’ve found any trouble, but it has been one of those little things that’s nagged at me for literally minutes and who knows when it’ll end.

I mean, I know, kind of, that angels are busy being in perfect communion with God, and I guess that’s great for them. I suppose that of all the people you’d want to be in perfect communion with, God is right up near the top of the list, well ahead of the guy who draws xkcd or that Firefly person other people on the Internet get all tense about. And I’m sure they’re happy about it, because of perfection and all that and plus, if they weren’t happy, God would know about it right away and could fix that before they even knew they were unhappy. That sounds a little creepy if I lay it out like that, but I have to suppose that God would try to play up the non-creepy side of that, and succeed, if God’s making any kind of effort at it. Also I suppose that if angels are there outside the mortal realm the whole idea of days or even time get pretty vague, but, it seems like being isn’t the same thing as doing. Given that they exist, I mean, what do they exist to do?

Pop culture, as ever, offers suggestions, most of them stupid. If I follow the twee movie industry right, angels can keep themselves fairly busy by coming into the mortal realm and guiding schlubby people into successful romances, possibly with the angels themselves, possibly with some faintly attractive person who has some properties such as existing and being played by the third-billed actor. Some work on teaching mortals to cherish what they have, which I guess is also nice enough. I suppose there’s a couple who have to explain why they can’t get the mortals Peter Falk’s autograph. (He’s getting coffee.)

It used to be different. Going back to the Like 1940s Or Something, angels got to work in vast bureaucratic organizations, becoming parts of the classic Men in the Grey Flannel Halo sort of lifestyle. They’d have titles and ranks and run off to take care of people whom review meetings have found are succumbing to life-threatening despair, or are maybe dying by accident way sooner than they ought to be, or maybe are just driving uncommonly poorly while in New Jersey, or not decorating their homes with enough telephones, or maybe they’re just trying to figure out the right way to bring the world to an end. Some of them might get into hijinks like putting that new-fangled Swing music on trial and deciding to acquit it on the grounds that they can kind of hear how there’s licks from Mozart slipped into it, plus, the people in the movie theaters watching this short really like Swing so they better not disapprove too much.

The angels in these presentations all clearly have stuff to do all day, and they seem to be pretty happy with an existence of staff meetings and interdepartmental communications. They seem to be happier staff meetings than I’ve ever been to, I guess because instead of having walls and PowerPoint demonstrations they have clouds and sunsets and the implication that someone who acts up might lose his cloud-seating privileges, which would be pretty exciting. They don’t have doughnuts, but maybe part of being in perfect communion with God is that you don’t even care about jelly doughnuts while you’re trying to remember exactly which planet Earth is, again. Come to it, worrying about things like Swing music when you aren’t sure about what planet Earth is seems kind of like busy-work. Maybe that’s what was going on in the mid-century like that, and the angels took to bureaucracy because they needed something exciting to do. I bet when they discovered PERT charts they were on cloud nine, if they could be said to exist anywhere.

What I take away from all this is that I believe I’m somehow turning into a precocious yet annoying seven-year-old.