If Accountants Designed the Universe

Let’s be honest: life is not a commercial decision.  If it had been up to accountants and lawyers, the Universe would never have been built – but let’s sit in on their pre-release committee meeting and see how they’re getting on:

“Kleinberg!! This is ludicrous – we can’t afford stars AND oceans.  Someone has to decide.  Come on people, we’re out of time and this isn’t rocket science. What are your ideas?”

“Well, I see no point whatever in flowers.  So drop the whole bee thing – it’s way too complex at the eleventh hour.   Hives over in R&D came up with some trick wings, some fancy black and yellow stripes but Aeronautics say the things’ll never fly – too fat, wings too small.  These R&D people have no clue and burn through money like there’s no tomorrow.”

“While we’re on the subject, this morning Optics passed me a requisition for a rhodopsin powered 56,000 unit binocular eye.  I almost put it through for P/O when I discovered it’s for a lousy insect.  This isn’t funny, and when I find out whose scrawl this is, I’m going to have them sacked.”

“We might be able to finance a few brown dwarfs but those black holes are a lawsuit just waiting to happen.  I looked into them and can’t see a single dime coming out – shut ‘em all down, like yesterday.”

“Anyone seen the costings from Butterflies? What the hell are they playing at – we’re not Andy f**king Warhol! Fancy eyes, highlights, Tiffany lamps – we could make them transparent, they said. Transparent my ass! That’s gonna look like great value on my report: ‘we would have given you a return this year if not for these lovely invisible wings.  On an insect.’  And now they want different perforations, and a separate 360 hinge, on every scale?”

“Now listen up, people – here’s a colour we’ll all be seeing lots of – red! Red ink!  They can make ‘em all one colour or find a job elsewhere! Tell em, black, black, black, and I don’t wanna hear another word! Black! Like my ledgers used to be!”

“Yes.. yes I did read  ‘we need spiders’.  That’s really what I wanted to talk to you about.. quite frankly, the idea is a non-starter. Six kinds of silk, eight legs, huge concentric sticky nets?  And how many eyes will these things need?  No, no, don’t remind me – I’ve heard enough.  I gave you the benefit of the doubt over the bees-can-make-honey fiasco and became a laughing stock, but this is the last straw. I’m sorry, but you’re fired, Carstairs.”

“Sir, with respect, Alonso’s idea to have every snowflake made different is sheer lunacy. It’s driving manufacturing beserk.  Design storage is maxed out in the high terabytes and we barely finished one blizzard.  This could shut down all of Geo Engineering – I suggest we just go with rain until after the quarterly review.  End of.”

“We can’t get the eyeball working.  Colour is a nightmare, and don’t get me started on binocular.  This retina thing we were given – when we face it forwards it burns out in seconds, and I’m guessing we can’t face it backwards.  We’ve got a pile of them now, all burned to hell.  WTF?  Hamilton over at media suggested we put a heat sink behind it.. hey, why not give it its own immune system while we’re at it? And how about a recycling depot?  Give me a break!”

“..and let it be known, I swear I will punch the next overpaid twat who tells me ‘it wasn’t part of the original spec.’   Yeah, no kidding, Sherlock!  I guess that’ll be why we’re asking for it now!!

“Who asked Hamilton to spend our budget?  Finance says forget them altogether – just give the damn creatures more padding around the head and less pain sensitivity – and let’s make ‘em move slower.. MUCH slower.  Do I have to keep saying this? Bottom line, people, bottom line.”

“With all due respect sir, I did not actually promise to deliver a genome which could re-engineer itself.  What I actually said was, it would certainly save us a lot of time if it could..  Well, certainly, you can call it joking if you like, sir, but I prefer blue sky thinking.”

“DNA Think Tank says we’re asking the impossible – apparently you ‘can’t get 2m of the crap in a single cell unless that cell is a basketball’, and that’s final.  I said we could perhaps meet them half way at 15 microns – and they called me a moron.  Grosjean threatened to hit me.  To be frank, I.. I don’t really want to go in there again.”

“While we’re on this, their ATP motor falls to pieces.  Rotary blames Fuel – Fuel says they did their job so it’s got to be the proton inhibitor.  We outsourced that to get a killer deal, and made sure we paid ’em late, stiffed them real good on their invoices like Accenture said – but they went Chapter 13 in January so now we’re stuck with it.  No way, can’t get it fixed.  Yeah, hire the staff – I thought of that, but all their programmers hate us now.  Most of them lost their houses.  So anyway, I said to R&D we wanna change the spec and make it work in reverse – you know, run backwards and create fuel out the other side.  They laughed at me.  But the joke’s on them – it doesn’t even run forwards.  We’re pushing it at 10 rpm and you wanted 10,000.”

“Old Harry Van der Walls blames Proteins.  I went down to Proteins this morning and it’s chaos; Sidney says the big ones we ordered can’t even form without their own chaperones and a private folding chamber with an automated screw lid.  Maybe it wants a flushing toilet with gold taps and a shoe cupboard?  How about a bowl of blue M&Ms? I can’t even tell if he’s serious.. it’s getting ridiculous.”

“Same story everywhere.  Software blames hardware, hardware say it’s software.  All I know is Schumacher in Genome has been up three days straight and is on the freeway to Breakdown City.  Without him we have no ribosome.  It’s already at 30,000 atoms for Christ’s sake and nobody else can figure out how it works.  His documentation is crap and Digestion say they have to get 30,000 protein cuts per second by close of business tomorrow or your creature things are gonna need a million years to digest a blade of grass..”

“Wait, they want cutting machinery working how fast? 30 thousand imports, rotations, site matches, cuts, and ejections in one second?  You told me our best people were on this – what can we have by tomorrow?”

“We.. we think we can have two, sir.”

“Two thousand..  Two thousand, yes?  Well?  Speak up, man!”

“Er, well, no.. just, um, not to put too fine a point on it.. the ordinary standard.. two.”

“Know what?  I’ve heard enough – email everyone: scrap life, scrap the animals.  What? Of course the bees too!  We almost finished the sand, right?  Please tell me you finished the sand!  Release the sand and a little rain, and call it quits.  Maybe we ‘ll break even by Christmas and go for a late IPO. What’re you staring at?  You heard me: Project Genesis – shut it down!”


There you have it: a look at what might have been.. perhaps in some other Universe.  So let’s look around, and be thankful for this incredible, inexhaustable, ingenious, all-conquering non-accountancy driven world, while so much of it is still in one piece!

Transparent?!! Who signed off on this? Black, you hear me? Black! Black!

About iain carstairs

I have a great interest in both scientific advances and the beauty of religion, and created www.scienceandreligion.com about 15 years ago with the aim of finding common ground between the scientist and the believer, and to encourage debate between the two sides.
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4 Responses to If Accountants Designed the Universe

  1. Maria says:

    You have an incredible imagination. You must have been a precocious child. Great writing. M

  2. Ms. Grundy says:

    I,for one, (and perhaps all) am very glad you did not grow up to be an accountant. Instead, here you are, ready to consider a future in play writing. This would be a hilarious stage sketch, could be developed/expanded quite nicely with the right touch of imaginative backdrops and blocking. Consider collaboration or maybe put it on the back burner to bubble along a while…but don’t leave it for too long or I’ll steal it! It’s too good to pass up.

    • very kind, thanks! but witing is easy – it’s like drawing machinery without ever having to actually mill the steel and see where all the flaws are. I remember charles schulz had a problem when they animated Peanuts – they realised that the front view of the kids when they’d sit with their arms folded so one arm was in front of their face, didn’t work from the side – because their upper arms were too short to project their forearms to reach vertically in front of their face! some things are better left to the imagination

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