The Most Useless Object on the Planet

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I read an interesting short story last night. It was science fiction set on the planet Bagarup.

On Bagarup, people think only of themselves because most of them have so little. You can hardly blame them, because life on Bagarup is very difficult. When one is barely getting by, it’s hard to think about the interests of the whole of society. It’s difficult to see how giving a little of something that you have (like a plot of ground big enough to install a repeater station) to society will improve your lot in life. In the short term, it’s the cash that counts.

However, on Bagarup, there are things that everyone needs – so that the whole of the people can survive and grow. These are things like electricity, roads, and telecommunications, among others.

The problem on Bagarup is that there is a peculiar view in the people’s minds that land can have only one purpose and ownership of land can never change hands.

So, the story revolves around all the suffering of a great deal of the population of Bagarup, because land owners, when they get cross about something, would destroy, interfere with, switch off, steal, or otherwise render useless whatever bit of infrastructure that belonged to all the people.

For instance, if they had a beef with the phone company, they would bagarup a switching station or repeater so that everybody would pay attention to them and their grievances. Sort of the way that a child might do sometimes – tear up a brother or sister’s new toy to get attention and show how important he is. That’s how the planet got its name.

On Bagarup, they have telephones similar to our own dear Telikom phones. But, of course, the story is not about Telikom – or PNG land owners. When a land owner got cross, he would throw a rock at a solar panel, or knock down a pole, or something like that and turn all of the telephones and internet lines into useless objects, causing everybody a great deal of trouble.

 A Telikom Phone

Oh, I should mention also that the Bagarup Telephone and Communications Company Unlimited LTD does not take very good care of their equipment. This compounds the problem. The Bagarupians have a peculiar idea about machines. They believe that machines are eternal and require no care whatsoever. This causes many problems for many people because when things break, there have been no plans made to replace them.

Sad to say that the people of Bagarup are very complacent (a good thing if you are the King of Bagarup). They are so confused and disheartened about the problems around them that they feel powerless to improve the situation. Nobody tells them that they have the power to change things.

As I read, I kept hoping that someone from another planet (It would have to be a very brave person) would come to Bagarup and explain the principle of eminent domain to the Bagarupians so that they would have a fair and equitable way to deal with the problem of the competing interests of land owners and society as a whole.

But nobody ever did.

It was a good story, but the ending was very sad.

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3 Responses to “The Most Useless Object on the Planet”

  1. Robert@PNG Says:

    Hi MadDog,

    You have a gift with words and the ability to make the ordinary sound extraordinary. Perhaps your sense of humour will only be understood by those that have lived in the Land of the Unexpected for a period of time.

    I seem to be going through a very frustrating stage and the niggly things are getting to me. Your story added some lightness to what is otherwise and at times an intense experience.


  2. Papua New Guineans have a great sense of humour | Robert@PNG Says:

    […] has the uncanny ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary through his writings. Click here if you would like a laugh. Share this […]

  3. MadDog Says:

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for your kind words. It helps to hear complements because it’s so hard to do this every day – even when you feel like crap and can’t think of anything to write about. However, it’s good for the soul and a good discipline builder.

    I have so many problems at work now that the only thing I can do to keep myself off of tranquilizers is to try to make it funny. I’d rather laugh (cynically) than cry.