Monday, January 24, 2011

“Curiouser and Curiouser”!

In Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice in Wonderland, young Alice assesses strange things she observes as “Curiouser and curiouser.” Apparently, according to recent news, we’re closer to Wonderland than we think.

The Pachydermatologist’s Wild and Wooly Plan

Item 1: In Japan, researchers announced plans to “resurrect” a long-extinct mammoth through the use of cloning technology. The idea is to take nuclei from mammoth cells and implant them into an elephant’s egg cell from which the elephant nuclei have been removed, resulting in an embryo with mammoth genes.

Implanted into an elephant’s uterus, the unsuspecting pachyderm will give birth to an infant mammoth. I know: “Awwwwwhhhhh!”

This project, researchers announced, will take about five years. (Why not? Milk those science grants for all they’re worth, and enjoy half a decade worth of guaranteed employment.)

I’m no scientist, so I won’t risk comment on scientific ramifications of this, but can you imagine how surprised the little mammoth would be? After all:

· The last time the mammoth walked the Earth, the wheel hadn’t yet been invented – and look at all we’ve learned to do with it.

· Some of mammoth’s distant relatives have run off and joined the circus.

· The caveman has “left the building” – and so has Elvis.

· Mammoth might be shocked to know it has been turned into an adjective, as in “mammoth sale,” “mammoth snowstorm,” and “mammoth undertaking” – which, by the way, is what this science project sounds like.

The report I read didn’t indicate what scientists would name the baby mammoth if indeed they succeed. I would suggest “Mammy” if it’s a girl, or “Willy” if it’s a boy – you know, Willy the Wooly Mammoth?

No Indigestion With This Gestation

Item 2: In somewhat related news I suppose, country-western singer Keith Urban and actress (or is that, actor?) Nicole Kidman announced the birth of their second child, Faith Margaret Kidman Urban, via a gestational carrier. (Not an elephant.)

No, you don’t need avoid gestational carriers. They’re not contagious. “Gestational carrier” is the 21st century term for “surrogate.” Keith and Nicole had their “stuff” lab-assembled and then had somebody (they didn’t announce who) do the heavy lifting for the next nine months.

Ain’t it grand? Think of it: “I was pregnant. Wish I could have been there!” Or a company advertises its gestational carrier services: “No more morning sickness, no stretch marks, no indigestion or unpredictable late-night cravings. Let us do the carrying; we’ll deliver right to your door, if you like.”

Curses on Cursive Writing

Item 3: And in even more distantly related news, our local paper ran an article about the decline and fall of cursive writing. (That’s handwriting with lots of loops and squiggles.)

With the rise of technology, the art of writing in script (or cursive) faces imminent extinction. In fact, because of computers (desktop and laptop), electronic “tablets” (like the iPad), even cell phones, penmanship is “out the window,” one expert pronounced. If so, can the pen and pencil be far behind?

Being a writer, possessing what some have described as “good handwriting,” I mourn this development. However, I’m not surprised. When I write – like now – I work exclusively at a keyboard. And when conducting an interview, I find my notes a blend of cursive and printing, along with assorted abbreviations.

Thanks to e-mail and texting, handwriting isn’t the only casualty. There’s spelling, too. But don’t get me started.

Back to our mammoth clone – when it was traversing terra firma the first time, its buddies Ork and Grogg were probably proficient at cave writing, carving into stone. Perhaps they were the original rock stars.

Can you imagine their dismay when their children (or grandchildren) started working with primitive ink, scribbling on rocks with abandon? “Kids!”, Ork might have muttered. “What’s going to become of them? One day they’ll start writing on leaves, or something like that. I tell you, the world’s going to hell in a handbasket!”

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