The Ten Thousand year Clock and Inequality


The 10,000 Year Clock

I recently heard that Jeff Bezos is building a giant mechanical clock in the remote mountains of Texas that will run for ten thousand years. My first thought was of Egyptian Pharaohs and their Pyramids. I was impressed by the scale and awed by the ambition. To achieve the previously unachievable, to leave a mark on history and to encourage long term thinking. I mentally tipped my hat to the ingenuity of it all and entered a brief state of wonder at the rate of technological development.

I quickly realized that any clock related ambition is bordering on frivolous as it’ll never tell the right time. It is going to be buried under a mountain for one thing. How are they going to relay the time to anyone, anywhere? By the time they relay what is shown on the clock, it will be incorrect. Like any clock it will always be a tiny fraction out of time. Even if Jeff stands in person gazing at his wonderful creation, his own perception of it will cause a delay.

Of course I couldn’t just dismiss it. Looking into it I have learned that the clock ticks once a year so it will tell the right time in a sense. Firstly, it should be called a chronometer and not a clock. Secondly, aren’t there better uses for an amassed fortune than this?

And a trip to the Food Bank

In the vastness of the last three days that made up my weekend I happened to make a private donation of food to a Food Bank. This was the first time I had donated and I didnt know what to expect. The google image had been a terraced house so I was really thinking it would be a small scale operation but it turns out there is a national network of Food Banks across the country. I drove past the pictured terraced house onto an industrial estate and behind a warehouse I dropped off the food to a kindly looking gentleman in blue overalls.

It turns out that;

Between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017, The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16. 

So use of the Food Bank Network is increasing rather than decreasing. That may mean that there are more hungry people or it may just mean more people are getting access to the service. What strikes me is that 1,182,954 three day crises are equivalent to 9,722 years worth of one day crises. That’s very nearly as much time as Jeff’s clock is going to count to.

I understand the need for creating wonders of the world but it seems so bizarre to invest in them when even large numbers of people in modern developed nations are in serious and sometimes perpetual crisis.