It seems to be a cruel trick of the Universe that those with vast intelligence are rarely given the sense to use it in a way that does anyone any good.  If they were, surely all of our problems would have been solved long ago.  Sadly, in my experience, a brighter mind only seems to correlate to a greater capacity to bollocks everything up.    

* * *

The Duplicator  


          That which drives every market, no matter how big or how small.  Without it gold would be worthless, diamonds little more than sparkly rocks.  If God ever did anything for us at all, it was not giving us enough.  Every great accomplishment in history has been driven by someone wanting something they couldn’t have, and if life had been easy we’d all still be naked and hairy in a forest, scratching at ourselves with sticks.  So when I tell you that I received a letter from an acquaintance of mine, promising to make me a very rich man, try not to be too surprised when I go on to say that he must be stopped.  

          His name is Professor Thelonius Wrinkle, and I must say that this is not the first time that I have had to intervene in his half-considered attempts to fix society.  And the fact that he has been dead for over a hundred years should not comfort you in the least.  Time is a river, but it does not flow the way you think, and I fear that at this very moment, in the neighborhood of one hundred and seventy years ago, he is standing in the yellow light of an oil lamp, scribbling away at his blackboard, well on the track toward inventing something that may quite possibly ruin everything.  Again.  

          He has named it, tentatively, The Duplicator.  

          You can imagine what it does.  And if there is anything between your ears besides wool and warm air, you will immediately see why a device that can make more of things might be a problem.  Abandon, for now, your protests of impossibility.  It is a long-documented truth that when Professor Wrinkle is involved, pesky things like the laws of physics have a tendency to take a vacation.  What I need is for you to think logically—and convincingly.  

          I have begged, pleaded, and implored the Professor to see reason, but once he gets an idea into his head it is nearly impossible to stop him from following through with it, no matter how foolhardy.  Nonetheless, he must not create this machine.  This is where I come to you.  I would like you to compose a letter, thoroughly considered and well-argued, demanding that Wrinkle stop to reflect upon the consequences of inventing this device.  

          Two weeks is all that I can give you.  After that we will take a vote, and whoever’s missive is deemed to have most eloquently argued the point, we will send.  I can only pray that it is enough.  

          Should you succeed you will receive from me a boon—and though you will not be lauded, nor praised outside of these walls, you may go to your grave, some day long from now, knowing that you helped to avert catastrophe.  

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