By | September 26, 2008 | archive, humour

It’s hard to believe that 17 years ago the Human Gnome Project formally began. It was quite frankly a great day for all of us gnomes as we thought we had finally gained the attention and respect we deserved as a community. But 17 years later, we as a community are disappointed, angry, full of resentment, and still addicted to nicotine.

To our knowledge, of the roughly $3 billion worth of research funds given to the human gnome initiative, none of it ever actually went to fund “gnome” research. Instead, a sizable portion went to human research, and in an apparent slap in the face to my kindred, significant amounts also went towards research looking at bacterial, yeast, worm, fly, and mouse genetics. Suffice to say, that with the exception of humans, these are all organisms that do not smoke. To say that this has been hard on my community is an understatement of vast proportions. Apart from the soaring lung-cancer rates, I find I am continually aware of other lost opportunities the money could have been used towards.

For instance, for whatever reason, we as a race are forever doomed by our incessant need to wear pointy hats. I hate my stupid hat—loath it with a passion. And yet I have to wear it. We all do. Why this is so has been mystery for many an age. Maybe that’s why I go through 70 grams of tobacco each day. And whilst pointy hats are fine for garden work (one of our main sources of economic recovery), they are hardly advantageous in the current global market—especially when first impressions play a key role. Surely, there is an underlying neurological basis for this behavior—a basis that science could have elucidated.

And what about our facial hair? Believe me, it is not because we are particularly fond of our beards. It’s not even because tobacco pipes look cooler in this context. Our beards just happen to grow at amazingly fast rates! This is not such a huge issue with me and the other male gnomes, but my poor wife actually has to shave every 45 minutes or else deal with social harassment (and trust me, you definitely don’t want to look at her legs or armpits). This is also compounded by the fact that services, like laser hair removal or electrolysis, are just too expensive, especially on a gardener’s income. Ironically, the only gnomes who could possibly afford these high tech solutions are the few who have made it into Hollywood where maintaining the typecast “bearded” look is required anyway. Furthermore, even when a hairless gnome is needed on a movie set (e.g., Mini Me in the Austin Powers franchise), we still get passed over because of our goddamn pointy hats! I bet $3 billion could have sorted this problem out a long time ago.

But if there was ever a strong case for gnome research, you only need to look at my poor Uncle Bill. This unlucky bastard of a gnome must have some bladder problem or something, since he is (no exaggeration) urinating constantly. Seriously, I don’t think he’s even had a chance to put his penis away since he started 14 years ago! And the truth of the matter is that this particular problem is relatively rampant in my circles. Most start off fishing, and then they feel the urge and then whammo! It’s like a disease. I don’t think it’s too difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this medical condition. Aside from the psychological pain endured, imagine how uncomfortable it must be to leave it “out” constantly in all manner of weather conditions. I don’t care if you are the gardener type— when it’s cold, it’s cold! Plus, it makes smoking a pipe tricky.

Anyway, I’m not here to preach endlessly about our problems. I just here to say I want a fair piece of the action. If the project is called the Human Gnome Project, then it only makes sense that at least some of the money should go towards gnome research—right?

O.K., I’ve said my piece. I really have to go outside now to smoke my pipe—stupid human nicotine patch, piece-of-crap waste of money …

About David Ng

David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and also as an occasional blogger at If you're looking for a graphic for your next science talk, he encourages you to check out his blog,