humour

A CLIMATE CHANGE DENIER GETS HEATSTROKE

By | archive, humour

I’m fine, I just need a sip of water. Can I do that without sounding the climate-change alarms? There are four seasons, you guys. Summer’s the hot one. Always has been. I’m just a little thirsty. And, like, a teeny bit dizzy.

You can split hairs all you want with statistics about temperatures steadily rising each year, or you can spare me the factual histrionics and start enjoying a little summer fun. I’m having such a good time that my head’s actually pounding with the pulse of summer. Really pounding.

That’s strange, I actually feel kind of cold all of a sudden—might go so far as to say I have the chills. That doesn’t sound much like global “warming,” does it? Try explaining that with one of your scientific facts backed by The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change.

I suppose you’ll figure out a way to link my slurred speech to climate change, too. Sorry if you can’t understand me all of a sudden. Summer relaxes me. All of me, including my lips and tongue.

The colors in the summer sky are so pretty, aren’t they? Blue and orange and polka-dotted. Such a perfect backdrop for all those majestic winged bison. They’re so beautiful, especially that one my mom is riding. Hi Mommy! I see you up there. I see you, Mommy.

Oh here we go, now I’m in for it. I should’ve kept that little hallucination to myself. I’m sure an innocent heat vision is yet another red flag in climate-conspiracy land. I just keep handing you more straws to grasp at.

Go ahead and call 911 if you’re so worried about me lying here on the ground. Fine by me. If my skin’s sooooooo pale and clammy and my body is sooooooo limp, then by all means, let’s continue this global warming charade and head to the hospital. I’ll play along.

I hear the sirens approaching now. I hope all that noise pollution doesn’t hurt your precious “ozone layer.” That stratospheric unicorn you love to yammer on about.

Let me guess, everyone in this ambulance is on the global warming bandwagon, too. I love how theatrically you guys are trying to make your point, yelling “Clear!” and jolting my chest with those little paddles. A little much, don’t you think.

I’ll be a sport, see, look I’m frothing at the mouth now. Uh-oh, I’m starting to shake, here comes a seizure, you guys. No one had heat-induced, mouth-frothing seizures like these 400 years ago, right?

Better strap me down and put something in my mouth so I don’t swallow my tongue. The last thing I want to do is fuel your fire for some new climate-related tongue-swallowing conspiracy theory.

Weird, looks like my vitals are flatlining; the machine’s making that dying sound. Man, if only people stopped using cans of hairspray this wouldn’t be happening.

Puh-lease.

- – -

This piece was originally published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

About Colin Nissan

Colin is a humor writer and frequent contributor to McSweeney's and The New Yorker. When he isn't writing humor, he's writing ads as a freelance copywriter, or reading ads out loud as a voice actor.

I AM RUNNING AN EXPERIMENTAL SCIENCE LAB IN MY HOME

By | humour

To Whom It May Concern:

I am running an experimental science lab in my home. If the naked gentleman ranting around the neighborhood is able to direct you back to my house and you happen upon this letter, rest assured that that is what you found: an experimental science lab.

I am a scientist. Not in the strictest sense of the word, but in spirit. I don’t have any degrees or other credentials, unless you count an undying love of America and a giant green thumb. These passions are the foundation upon which I built the secret experimental science lab in my basement.

I believe that America was born with a mandate to excel and I’ll be damned if I am going to sit idly by as we slide down the global rankings. We can’t wait for the do-nothings in our government to turn things around. Funding for science? It’s a joke. That’s why we have to be resourceful. That’s why I developed several clandestine pipelines for psilocybin mushroom spores, marijuana seeds and opium poppy plants.

In order for our nation to thrive, every citizen needs to step up and do his or her part. Whether it is paying your taxes on time from your one legitimate business or, at great personal expense, setting up several hydroponic grow dens in your basement with accompanying experience rooms, it is essential that we focus not on the “I” but instead invest in the power of “We.”

What better way to contribute to society than to discover something new? And what better way to discover something – even things you weren’t looking for – than to experiment? Alexander Fleming went on vacation for a week and when he got back to his lab he discovered that a fungus had grown on a staph culture killing off the bacteria around it. You know what that turned out to be? Penicillin. I don’t know what I’m going to find out in my secret underground lab, but I do know that there is something to be learned from seeing how many hours of Xbox the average person plays after inhaling five feet of marijuana smoke out of a large water bong; there is value in testing the increase in happiness after different dosages of pure heroin.

There are burning questions that need answers and it’s a global race to the top! Can psychedelic mushrooms really open a portal to the fourth dimension, as has been reported? If you make them a pizza topping along with heroin or marijuana, which feeling dominates? Can any drug taken in a pink velvet room with white noise and some heartbeat audio replicate conditions in the womb, and would that be a good thing? We need to know.

As Plato said, “Science is nothing but perception.” I hope you, dear reader, perceive the situation in my basement the same way that I do: a passionate man-of-the-people scientist working diligently in his unconventional yet understandably-secret experimental science lab.

If it’s just you maybe you, put this letter back in the room, take a pound or two and call it a day?

About Matt Greiner

Matt (@matthewegreiner) is a writer and photographer from Chicago who is just getting out into the world. You can see some of his work (in progress) at www.mattgreiner.com.

COMMON SAYINGS TRANSLATED INTO SCIENTIFICALLY CORRECT STATEMENTS

By | archive, humour

COMMON: Hit the ground running.
SCIENTIFIC: Conserve momentum.

COMMON: My gut was telling me.
SCIENTIFIC: My colon speaks.

COMMON: If I had a nickel for every…
SCIENTIFIC: x times 5cents, where x equals…

COMMON: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
SCIENTIFIC: Avoid wet baby head trauma.

COMMON: Go the whole 9 yards.
SCIENTIFIC: Displace by 8.2296 meters.

COMMON: You are in way over your head.
SCIENTIFIC: Anatomically speaking, you are likely upside down.

COMMON: You spilled the beans.
SCIENTIFIC: Entropy went up.

COMMON: A little bird told me…
SCIENTIFIC: Whilst under the influence of psychedelic hallucinogens…

COMMON: Everything but the kitchen sink.
SCIENTIFIC: Almost, but not quite, the entire universe.

COMMON: Beating a dead horse.
SCIENTIFIC: Technically still dead.

COMMON: Break the ice.
SCIENTIFIC: Break the ice.

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 boingboing.net. If you're looking for a graphic for your next science talk, he encourages you to check out his blog, popperfont.net.

ISAAC NEWTON, STANDING ON THE SHOULDER OF GIANTS. EXCERPTS FROM HIS DIARY

By | archive, humour

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Isaac Newton in a letter to his rival Robert Hooke, 1676

- – -

May 14th, 1665
Went to the post office today, thinking that I’d be picking up a grant proposal from the Royal Society.  Imagine my surprise when I turned up and instead of a grant, there was a giant waiting for me.

May 22nd, 1665
A week later and I’m still a bit confused on what to do with the giant, especially since it follows me relentlessly.  Friends have not been much help in this regard; enemies even less so.  Some have even foolishly suggested my kicking it in the shins or standing on his shoulders.

May 22nd, 1665
Do not kick a giant in the shins.  Ever.

May 27th, 1665
Stood on the giant’s shoulders today.  Surprised to say that it was wonderful.  The world looks so different from this new vantage point, and my head is spinning from new perspectives.

May 28th, 1665
Have decided that I am never coming down.

June 19th, 1665
My cat got stuck in the apple tree today.  Luckily, I can easily reach whilst on the shoulders of the giant.

June 24th, 1665
Cat got stuck in the apple tree again.

July 17th, 1665

Let’s call this a lesson learned in unintended consequences.  In essence, a few weeks ago, I was all pleased with myself since I had just invented the cat door – but you know what?  Turns out, this was not a good idea.  Stupid cat is now letting itself out and getting stuck in the apple tree daily now.  The giant, fed up, has left.

August 27th, 1665
Picked up a new giant today.  This one is Welsh and not averse to cats.

September 16th, 1665
With the fall upon us, we find ourselves very popular amongst all the apple tree owners.  Our height makes us excellent and efficient harvesters. Indeed, I feel a bit like a celebrity, albeit a celebrity paid in bushels of apples.

October 4th, 1665
The giant and I are making apple sauce.  This is actually quite difficult when standing on a giant’s shoulders.

October 11th, 1665
More apple picking today!  More apple bushels in my kitchen!

November 2nd, 1665
I swear if I ever see another apple, I will fucking kill someone.

December 16th, 1665
The giant and I had a grand time at our first Christmas party.  He had fun dressing up as Father Christmas, but it was kind of weird when all my friends wanted to pretend to be little and sit on his lap.

December 19th, 1665
Back from my ninth Christmas party. The giant and I are really popular!

December 21th, 1665
Just had the horrid realization that we have only been invited to these so called “Christmas parties,” on account of our height.  Turns out we are useful for putting star and angel ornaments on the top of really big Christmas trees!  I feel so used.

February 10th, 1666
Now, I am starting to get annoyed by the many many locals who constantly come by and ask for some sort of giant related help. Dusting off ceiling cobwebs, hanging up large paintings, and reaching for books on the high shelf – it all gets a little old after a while.

March 28th, 1666
The giant has accidentally stepped on the cat. This seems to be bittersweet.

March 30th, 1666
The weather is starting to clear a bit, but the giant seems different.  He seems melancholy and distant.  The sadness is especially noticeable when I am standing on his shoulders, as they tend to be hunched these days.

June 6th, 1666
I brought home a new cat today, but the giant seemed not to notice.  I am genuinely worried.  Maybe I should get off his shoulders?  But then again, I don’t want to act too hastily.

September 3rd, 1666
It is fall again.  After a difficult few months, the giant has decided to leave.  In a strange way, being back on solid ground feels right.  Even the apple trees look pretty again.  Maybe, I’ll even try sitting under one tomorrow…

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 boingboing.net. If you're looking for a graphic for your next science talk, he encourages you to check out his blog, popperfont.net.

THE BPA DISRUPTOR (A SHORT PLAY)

By | archive, creative, humour

Scene. An empty lecture hall, stage, or an open space. RACHEL, a scientist researching the impact of bisphenol A on Bantam chickens, has entered a science competition requiring her to act out her research topic in pantomime. Enlisting the help of a friend, CARLSON, to help her with the “dance” performance, CARLSON’S reluctance is countered by RACHEL’s enthusiasm for the competition.

RACHEL: (pointing to the script) Just read it.

CARLSON: (in disbelief) Why did I let you talk me into this?

RACHEL: (insisting) Read it.

CARLSON: I’m not even sure I understand what it means.

RACHEL: (confidently) It resonates. It’s the perfect preamble to the dance and my research.

CARLSON: And that’s another story—the dance?! I really think you should go solo with this.

RACHEL: (unmoved) No. It has to be a “Step for Two,” those are the rules. Now, read it.

CARLSON: Okay. Here it goes: (he reads) “Life cannot wait until the sciences have explained the universe scientifically….Life is fired at us point blank.”–Jose Ortega y Gasset

RACHEL: Perfect. Now in Spanish.

CARLSON: What?

RACHEL: One of the judges is a Spanish biologist. It might improve my score.

CARLSON: (again, he reads) “La vida no puede esperar a que las ciencias expliquen científicamente el Universo….  La vida nos es disparada a quemarropa.”

RACHEL: (instructive) Bien. Now, the dance.

CARLSON: You know, we can’t put off living, but no one is making us dance.

RACHEL: Quit complaining. So, this is the way it goes. You’ll step out on the stage and deliver the Gasset quote. Afterwards, I’ll walk out dressed like a chicken, and stand on your right side, like this. (She moves to his right side.) Once I’m in place, you announce my research title.

CARLSON: Why can’t you announce it? It’s your project.

RACHEL: I’m not supposed to speak. It’s one of the rules.

CARLSON: So, there you are, standing on my right, a chicken.

RACHEL: Yes.

CARLSON: (unconvinced) And, I’m your dance partner.

RACHEL: Right.

CARLSON: Representing a….molecule?

RACHEL: An endocrine disruptor.

CARLSON: Okay, a disruptor.

RACHEL: Yep.

CARLSON: (skeptically) What am I wearing?

RACHEL: (without reservation) Well, I thought, maybe, nothing.

CARLSON: (also, without reservation) Think again.

RACHEL: A loin cloth?

CARLSON: (offers an alternative) How about a sheet?

RACHEL: Okay. A sheet. Or, better yet, maybe a large plastic bottle.

CARLSON: (not amused) You want me to wear a large plastic bottle?

RACHEL: That would be great.

CARLSON: This is what happens to people when they stay locked in a science lab all day. I’ll wear a sheet.

RACHEL: Fine. (instructing) State the title.

CARLSON: Here we go.

RACHEL: Speak loudly.

CARLSON: Okay. (He steps forward to deliver the title.) “Endocrine Disruptor in the Masculinization of the Non-Migratory Female Bearded, Booted Bantam.”

RACHEL: Good.

CARLSON: Why don’t you just say chicken?

RACHEL: A like the alliteration. Now, the dance. Let’s rehearse. (But first, she sets the stage.) I’m in a garden, calm, serene, a female bantam, stepping lightly, but deliberately, soaking in the sunshine, pecking at a spread of fresh shelled corn and roasted soybeans, garnished with a splash of oats and alfalfa, and a hint of fish meal.

CARLSON: Yum, yum.

RACHEL: I’m thinking I might need to lay an egg any minute now, but then you arrive.

CARLSON: The endocrine disruptor.

RACHEL: Right. Bisphenol A or BPA.

CARLSON: And how does BPA move?

RACHEL: Well, you have to think like a molecule.

CARLSON: A molecule?

&RACHEL: Right. You’ve got to think like a nasty little monomer, a molecule, found in polycarbonates.

CARLSON: That doesn’t help. Polycarbonates?

RACHEL: Or plastic bottles.

CARLSON: Forget it. So, I’m thinking… (taking matters into his own hands) I’m kind of gangling, loose, and bloated like.

RACHEL: (supportive) Right, that might work.

CARLSON: Kind of like an alien creature.

RACHEL: Sure.

CARLSON: With a bobble head and octopus-like tentacles.

RACHEL: You’ve got it. Let’s do the dance. I’m in the garden pecking away at food. You enter.

[The dance begins. The Bantam pecks and steps with a decidedly feminine movements. The BPA surrounds her a time or two and then finally engulfs her in his arms. When the Bantam is released, she pecks and steps with decidedly masculine movements—the endocrine disruptor has altered the hormonal makeup of the Bantam—the dance ends with the disruptor floating away leaving the Bantam crowing like a rooster.]

RACHEL: What do you think?

CARLSON: Could I be more humiliated? Is that possible?

RACHEL: So, it’s not a production of Swan Lake, but it gets the point across.

CARLSON: It seems so…so.

RACHEL: Scientists need to relieve pressure, you know; we need a little escape.

CARLSON: Some people go to the movies.

End of Scene

About Dwight E. Watson

Watson’s writing appears in several anthologies and journals. A professor of theater, “Science and the Stage” is one of his favorite seminar topics. He currently holds the title of the LaFollette Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Wabash College.