This Week in Terrifying Research
As I have mentioned before, this column is meant to do more than amuse, enlighten, and disgust.
It is an ongoing plea to the scientific community: Please, please stop doing research that belongs in the first ten minutes of a horror movie.
Especially if that horror movie has already been remade a couple of times.
Case in point: The New York Times ran a foreshadowing of our imminent doom on the work of Dr. Gerald Joyce of the Scripps Research Institute.
Joyce has already developed some neato molecules that self-replicate. But thatâs not enough! He really wants to give the little dickens enough space and encouragement and âGood job!â stickers to branch out on their own to recombine and mutate and reproduce in completely unheard-of directions and become life forms that have never been seen on this planet before and stop right there, Dr. Joyce, you affable madman.
Repeat after me, scientists: If you create new life, it will eat your face.
This is not paranoid hyperbole, it is a law of the cosmos as sure and immutable as gravity and dropped cell phone calls right when you are in the middle of an awkward breakup.
If your creations spring into true life of their own, Dr. Joyce, it will be because they launched themselves off of your corpse, which will be, if investigators look very closely, riddled with tiny bite marks and perhaps one poignantly left-behind sticker.
The planet is full, people. We have reached maximum population density. Any new life we kickstart will not be proof of our near-divine powers; it will be direct competition for space and resources. Once it properly assesses the situation, the face-eating begins.
Or the âaccidentalâ tripping just as youâre starting down the lab stairs with a precarious armload of Erlenmeyer flasks.
At least our scientific counterparts across the Atlantic can be counted on to be sensible and refrain from HOLY FLIPPING MASCOTS, THE ENGLISH HAVE BEEN MAKING HUMAN-ANIMAL HYBRID EMBRYOS.
As in âhave been.â Past tense. Theyâre not just batting crumpets around and thinking about the possibilities, weâre talking about more than 150 hybrid embryos that have already been created.
The scientists at the three labs in question didnât exactly get around to mentioning it to the public â the people in direct danger of being trampled, stung, or shredded on the tube â until this week.
Oh, and according to Lord Alton, the Member of Parliament who did the most pointed questioning on this little scientific lark, the researchers didnât really have any clear reason behind the genetic smoothie blending beyond âItâs Tuesday.â
And, cautionary tales and profound instinctive abhorrence notwithstanding, this sort of research is going to be hard to stop. As weâve just seen, itâs precisely what every genetic engineer is secretly jonesing to tinker with.
And letâs face it: Even with all the calamitous risks, no one in the general population is going to protest too hard because deep down, just once in our lives, weâd all like to try dating a centaur.
Iâm not worried about people lobbying for gorgeous merpeople â everyone knows that at some point the surface nations will have one oil spill too many and your merdate will hold your head underwater and let manatees give you noogies â or about romantically yearning for sexy cat people, since we already have a more than adequate supply of beautiful sociopaths who will demand lavish dinners immediately after destroying an heirloom.
But the possibility of centaurs may prove to be a fatally irresistible temptation.
Their top halves, male or female, are always illustrated as impossibly hot, and their legendarily poor impulse control is more than made up for by the fact that they can run out for a quart of milk at 30 miles an hour.
Plus itâs like a thousand times cooler than dating someone who rides a motorcycle and itâs eco-friendly.
Yes, everyone is going to bitch when you show up at the movies together and yes, itâs going to get old always following your date around with a shovel and a street-sweeping broom.
But those arenât the sort of things one takes into consideration during the heady early stages of a relationship when your beloved is still being whipped up in a Petri dish.
And so, for many of the same ill-considered reasons that allowed razor scooters and Ed Hardy clothes to proliferate, the human-animal hybrids are going to happen. Your only hope is to raid your local pet store and modify those dog-training clickers for as many species as you can think of.
To deal with the elephaman clicker, youâll need someone who has the strength and broad space to easily carry heavy loadsâ¦ Damn.
This Week in Terrifying Plants
Normally, I am a fan of plants. They put oxygen into the atmosphere and offer cover when youâre trying to escape from the unholy new self-replicating sulphur-based life forms youâve created.
I like the photosynthesizing, the flowering, the producing leaves â all of the traditional plant-based activities.
But youâll have to excuse my stick-in-the-mud attitude toward the discovery of new and dismaying plant skills.
For example, the Cuban plant Marcgravia evenia, which grows little echolocation dishes to help draw in bats. When tested, bats could find plants with the weird sonar-bouncing buds nearly twice as fast as plants without.
Which gets the bats fed and the plants pollinated, so it’s all very cool.
…As long as you assume that bats are all the plants are interested in attracting.
Everyone knows itâs good to talk to plants. Itâs never too early to put your philodendrons on notice: If anything untoward shows up â junk mail, unmanned drones, hybrid manacondas â your houseplants are getting tossed right out on their terminal buds.
Lest youâre doing any thinking along those lines, just remember: Any human-bat hybrids your plants draw have only a 50% chance of being sexy blood-drinking flying people. Youâre much more likely to get a walking batfaced wreck that keeps snorking mosquitoes out of the bug zapper. So get back out there and uproot those sonar-bud plants you just put in right now.
Or at least have your domestic centaurtner keep them closely cropped. You have to be firm.
And be afraid.
Ali Davis is a writer and performer in Los Angeles. Her book has plenty of bad decisions in it, but no human-animal hybrids. She thinks. Itâs available in paperback or on Kindle.
Sky News has confirmed that Amy Winehouse was found dead inside of her home in London. I'm going to need more receipts before I do the slow wall fall while silently screaming out, "Wi-noooooooooooo."
It looks like I got those sad receipts. The police issued a statement to the BBC saying that a 27-year-old woman was found dead in Amy Winehouse's house at a little after 4pm today.
"Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square NW1 shortly before 16.05hrs today, Saturday 23 July, following reports of a woman found deceased.
On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Inquiries continue into the circumstances of the death. At this early stage it is being treated as unexplained."
Unconfirmed reports say that Amy died of an alcohol and drug overdose.
A lot of people are saying that we all saw this coming, but I really didn't. Maybe I'm naive as all fuck. But I thought Amy Winehouse would outlive us all and make a million more albums and throw spit bombs at a million more bitchy fans. You know, like Keef Richards or Courtney Love. I really don't know what to say. I'm sure Amy's sitting around the 27 Club table with Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison right now.
Rest in peace, Amy. Your voice spoke to my broken heart, nobody could wore a busted mound of black polyester hair like you and ballet slippers will never be the same again.
Â A town clerk in upstate New York says she’s resigning over her religious opposition to gay marriage.
Laura Fotusky submitted a letter of resignation to the town board in Barker on Monday, saying her religious beliefs prevent her from signing a marriage certificate for a gay couple, as she’d be required to do as a municipal clerk. The letter was published on the website of the Christian lobbying group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.
The 56-year-old Republican has served since 2007. She says she’ll step down on July 21, three days before New York’s law allowing same-sex marriage takes effect.
Volney Town Clerk Barbara MacEwen told local media outlets last month she opposed gay marriage on religious grounds but would follow the law.
Barker is 10 miles north of Binghamton.
Military officials are charging three California-based Marine corporals with fraud and larceny for entering in a pair of sham marriages to collect housing funding, officials said.
The military alleges that a lesbian couple – one a Marine, the other a civilian – decided to live together off base and wanted to collect the $1,200 housing benefit granted to married Marines.
The female Marine found a male Marine willing to get married, allowing them to collect the housing benefit, and the civilian woman also eventually married a Marine and collected funds, 1st Lt. Maureen Dooley, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, said Saturday.
The female Marine, Cpl. Ashley Vice, told San Diego’s KGTV-TV that she and her partner, Jaime Murphy, were forced to enter sham marriages because the military doesn’t provide allowances for unmarried couples and they couldn’t afford to live off base without the extra money. She and her partner only wanted to “be a family,” Vice said.
“It doesn’t matter what their sexual preferences are, if they’re violating the law and making fraudulent use of government money, they will be held accountable,” Dooley said.
The corporals, assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Camp Pendleton, now face fraud and larceny charges, but more could come later, and the three could have to pay back $75,000 to the military.
The military does not have jurisdiction over the civilian woman, Dooley said, and it was not clear if she would face charges.
Even after the military officially drops its ban against openly gay or lesbian members, same-sex couples, even if married, would still not be eligible because of a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Vice told the station she and the other corporals, Jeremiah Griffin and Joseph Garner, could face at least a year in the brig at Miramar, since none of them can afford to pay the government back.
In addition to jail time, Vice said she will likely be demoted in rank from corporal to private.