Tuesday, August 15, 2006

a bookworm reads the morning paper

I woke up this morning to the sound of gentle rain falling outside the floor-to-ceiling glass doors next to my bed. I stretched and ordered my two stunning Alsatian warhounds, Leni and Blondi, to patrol the perimeter of my estate while I read the morning paper.

A bad morning for dogs, it was immediately clear. In Boston, a 4-year-old boy was scratched in the face when I pit bull jumped on top of him. The boy wasn't bitten, and the pit bull was gone when police arrived - I dread a pogrom, but this probably won't provoke one.

And on I-495, a TRUCKLOAD of PUPPIES died when their tractor-trailer caught fire. That's pretty freakishly sad news to start the day.

Fortunately, the rest of the paper largely cheered me.

A delicate peace seems to be holding in the Middle East.

No heat waves are in the offing.

No friends of mine showed up in the obituaries.

And it's Ben Affleck's birthday! The big lug has made life very hard for those of us who believe in his acting ability, but maybe 2006 will start to change that. If he's really good - or, dare I hope it, great playing George Reeves in "Hollywoodland," who knows what kind of career revival might not be possible?

True, the Red Sox lost ... but on the plus side, we've got FROZEN WOOLLY MAMMOTH SPERM!

And having read the words FROZEN WOOLLY MAMMOTH SPERM, you just know that somewhere real close by you're going to read the words JAPANESE SCIENTISTS, right?

Yep, Japanese scientists are champing at the bit to inseminate unsuspecting elephants with prehistoric mammoth jizz - presumably to re-create mammoths for a viewing public.

These scientists are a) batshit crazy b) encouraged by their success with frozen frog-sperm, and c) apparently the only people left on Earth who haven't seen "Jurassic Park."

I can't comment on the viability of the proposed mammoth-resurrection (my scientific acumen stopped around the whole alchemy craze), but the thing I noticed about this morning's story was the way Western society has incorporated the phrase 'Japanese scientists' into the lexicon as something quite distinct from scientists who happen to be Japanese.

No, 'Japanese scientists' has come to stand for something else entirely. They're always out there, on the frontier, creating paranoia because YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY'RE UP TO.

An electronic book with magical pages? Carnivorous butterflies? Flatscreen TVs with smell-o-vision? Edible plastic? Head transplants? Frozen woolly mammoth sperm?

"I heard Japanese scientists already HAVE something like that..."

They're the way we've all found to incorporate an element of science fiction into our daily lives. The Victorians believed there was life on the moon. The 1950s and 60s were hip-deep in UFO mania. And today we have those nutty bastards, Japanese scientists, with their liquid cars and their cybernetic dogs and their frozen woolly mammoth sperm.

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