A Modest Proposal

March 4, 2005

There’s land pollution, water pollution, air pollution, and noise pollution. There’s even light pollution, for crying out loud. It must be a pain for those guys in orange jumpsuits on the side of the highway with their bags and sticks to have to pick up discarded photons. As if all that wasn’t enough to worry about there’s the problem of invasive species. It’s sort of like the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", except on a global scale. The starlings in my neighborhood are an annoyance, and, let’s face it, no one likes the gypsy moth, but the really exotic ones really get me. Apparently Burmese pythons have been showing up in the Everglades. How’s that for weird? Alligators in the sewers may be a myth, but Burmese pythons are threatening to overtake cartoon characters as the most destructive species in Florida. How did Burmese pythons make it that far? Did they go to Miami for a vacation and decide to move there? Were they deported for supporting Aung San Suu Kyi? No, apparently they were released into the wild by people who bought them on impulse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store and thought, "Hmmm, as long as I’m here I might as well pick up some gum, one of those pocket horoscopes, and…oh, hey, a West Gabon viper!" Although I don’t empathize in any way I do at least grasp the inner workings of the two or three brain cells working inside the heads of people who go out and get a dog, tie it to a stick in their back yard, then go on vacation. Buying a Burmese python then deciding it would be happier in a swamp 9,500 miles from its original home gives "impulse" a whole new meaning. At least Burmese pythons don’t bark all night.

But I digress. Of course there is a solution to this problem. I realized this when I heard about lampreys in the Great Lakes. They’re apparently such a huge problem that P.T. Barnum was right–there really is a sucker born every minute. Lampreys are big bloodsucking eels that, and there just aren’t enough advertising agencies and law firms to hold all of them, so they’re wrecking the Great Lakes ecosystem. Lampreys are a pest in North America, but in Britain they’re a delicacy–which goes a long way toward explaining why the sun set on the British empire. But I digress. Why not eat them? The economic losses could be recaptured by selling lampreys for two bucks a pound, although at that price people might not buy them. Sell them for twenty bucks an ounce and you won’t just make a healthy profit you’ll guarantee the lamprey will be extinct in ten years. It doesn’t matter how wildly successful a species is, or even what it tastes like. I’m guessing lampreys taste like chicken. Tell people it’s a delicacy and sell it at a price that proves it and they’ll buy it by the bucket. And this won’t just work for the lamprey. Why not the zebra mussel? I know they’re small, but they’re not any smaller than the clams in canned condensed clam chowder. And they probably taste like chicken. My mother could do take a can of mushroom soup, a bag of potato chips, and half an ounce of magical mystery meat and turn it into a casserole. Imagine what she could do with a handful of zebra mussels or half a lamprey. Next up on the dinner menu, of course, will be the Burmese python, which probably tastes like chicken. Gypsy moths, tiger mosquitoes, and crab grass, deep-fried, probably taste like chicken.

I think it’ll work so well that eventually we’ll need to start releasing chickens into the wild to keep up with the demand for things that taste like chicken. At that point the only truly invasive species will be those stray dogs, although it’s not the dogs who are a problem so much as the morons who let their dogs run loose, and I have a plan for dealing with those yahoos as well. I’m guessing they taste like chicken. Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. In desperation, John threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arm and said, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, when the bird continued,

"May I ask what the turkey did?"

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