Studies have shown that the average New Year resolution continues in effect for fifteen (15) days.
This high number is attributed to (1) what remains of the Protestant work ethic, (2) the stoical among us, and (3) the tendency among the rest of us to make easy-to-keep resolutions—in a word, cheating.
The same studies disclose that the most common resolution concerns a change of diet. A startling revelation. I would have guessed that the average American would resolve, while watching the Rose Bowl Parade, to become a kinder, gentler, less cynical person in the year to come. (Disclosure: I myself annually resolve to remain the kinder, gentler ass-kicking satirist laboring away in a way that is peculiarly my own.)
The second most common resolution is to make more money. The questionnaire follows up this anticipated response by querying the respondent concerning what he or she plans to do with the extra cash. Leading the list is the purchase of an expensive vehicle, most often a Hummer (men) or a Lexus (women). This, too, awoke me from my dogmatic slumber. I would have thought that the average American craves money in order to distribute it to the less fortunate. (Disclosure: I myself give a tenth of my earnings to the church of my choice. My earnings are, I must admit, meager: I took the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience soon after my wife had me burned to a crisp and deposited in an urn. Ten percent of nothing is—you do the math).
But enough of the studies. I come before you today, my fellow Americans, as the leading, indeed only, former candidate for President of these United States on the—let me check this out—yes, the Dead Rights ticket. You have besieged me with questions, not always kindly put, concerning my proposals for making America an even greater nation.
Today I wish to announce that, if nominated I will run, if elected I will serve, and that one of my first acts as president of the aforementioned great nation will be the establishment of a new national holiday. That holiday will be named Break Day. It will be so named because it will be devoted to breaking the resolutions we as Americans have made on the onset of a new year. Mark this date on your calendar: January 2.
The festivities will begin on Break Day Eve, at halftime of the last bowl game that has been played. At that time all those who have resolved to eat healthier food and less of it will, with no feelings of guilt, put down their alfalfa sprouts and salt-free crackers and follow their natural instincts. The visions of sugar-plummed Hummers and Lexuses will be excised from their morbid imaginations. On that eve, and on the day following, they will go about high-fiving and crying, “Back to the Old!”
My Nobel-studded committee of economic advisors informed me that this day will keep the engines of economic growth humming.
[Inaudible question, but unkindly put.]
I refer all questions to my advisors.
[Semi-audible question concerning identity of those advisors.]
Due to technical difficulties beyond my control, my website is not yet operative. Thank you for your patience on this matter.
Q. Could you speak to the question of what those technical difficulties might be?
A. I have not yet mastered the art of running a computer. Keep in mind that I come from a lowly background. I am the only (former) candidate who can claim to inhabit an urn. As my ads correctly informed you, “There was no room for him in a coffin.”
[Exit former candidate, right.]
I know, it’s late, but I’m going to do my Christmas shopping through a catalog. Those who, like me, count themselves among the elite, sociologically, economically, culturally, and of course astrologically, will know the catalog of which I speak. In a word, and a very good word it is, I speak of Orvis.
This year’s Orvis catalog guarantees delivery to their high-class clientele if they receive their orders by December 20. This gives me just less than an hour and a half to send in my order if I am to finagle my guaranteed delivery.
My spouse has just called my attention to the fact that Orvis simply guarantees a delivery but doesn’t guarantee that delivery by Christmas. Oh? I say. Is that tidbit of any moment to me? She says yes, but. You don’t mind, she goes on, if your gift to me arrives too late for Christmas? Aha! I say. This is my gift to myself, and I go on to point out that the catalog I hold in my hand is for me, if the phrase “Gifts for Men” has any meaning. Besides, I say as I launch my search for self-gratification by going directly to page 6, I won’t be needing this canoe until May at the earliest. And I show her the picture. She glances at the picture but immediately points to the fine print, which shows that this 16-foot long masterwork can be had for $1,200. No problem, is my retort, but before I can point out to her that we count ourselves among the elite, economically, she huffs herself out of the room, uttering a curse followed by a snort. I can hear her mutter words to the effect that I’m not even a fisherman.
Ignoring her minor tantrum, I continue to page through the dreamworld in search of a more modest gift. On the very next page I find it: a handpainted canoe paddle, which can be had for only $498. With what I must admit is a bit of bravado, I call after my spouse with this news, only to discover that she has just left the house.
Okay, I tell myself, I see her point. A paddle without a canoe is as useless as – and here I render one of her favorite quotes – a husband without a wife.
I continued flipping the pages. On page 12 I am enthralled by a picture featuring a pair of ducks. These items are crafted by Colorado artist Tim Bergren from “reclaimed Rocky Mountain homestead fence posts.” A large ducklike fencepost will run you only $239. A small or medium one will run you less, but as a member of the elite can I bear the thought of going for anything less than a large one? Colorado artist! Reclaimed Rocky Mountain homestead fence post! It would make my culturally elite spouse so proud!
Two pages hence I encounter a gift even more auspicious: completely handmade feather ties! And brackish feather ties at that! They come in both bow and neck varieties, with the bow available in Royal Wulff, eddy, chukka, guinea fowl, pheasant, and green pond, and the necktie available in the latter two. Whatever your choice, the cost is minimal: $195 a tie. I drool. I can hardly wait to show these choices to my spouse (did I mention that she fancies herself as among the culturally elite?).
Another two pages and I find the finest of all these gifts: pint glasses, emblazoned with the wisdom of the ancients (Plato or Aristotle, perhaps King David; I can’t be sure): “It’s not really drinking alone if … the dog is home.” A set of four will set you back a mere $59.
Wondering when, or even whether, my spouse will come home, I call my three best friends and invite them and their hounds over for a fine philosophical chat.
Never let it be said that back in Panhandle County (which, as I recall, was located in either Texas or Oklahoma, or maybe Kansas), we didn’t receive a good education. They taught us the Classics, such as that old favorite tune, “Dixie,” and several of the poems of that great American poet, James Whitcomb Riley.
Pan Count Grade School also instilled in me my lifelong love of reading and writing. This was very helpful. Without this installation, I would never have read George Orwell, author of that classic essay, “Why I Write.”
As I recall, George’s major points were, Number One, he wrote because he liked to see his sentences on paper, and Number Two, he got a kick out of getting back at his enemies.
Samuel Johnson, on the other hand, is quoted as having said that only a fool writes for the enjoyment of it. His major point was that money is always the object. This point was probably what inspired his friend, Boswell, to write a book about ol’ Sam.
I don’t write very much anymore. Being dead is only a part of the reason. It could possibly be the only reason, except for the fact that I’ve been cremated and outfitted with a robotic body, like several of my fellow companions. So being dead is not a good reason for not writing much anymore. Oh, I could use it as an excuse, but my buddies would be on my tail in the twinkling of a star. Which is to say, they’d heap hot coals of scorn on my aluminum head in every column. If they can continue to write, why can’t ol’ Orville the Fourth?
I used to write because I was an aspiring writer. Fame, glory, heaping hot coals of scorn on the occasional idiots in our midst—these were among the reasons. I also enjoyed the occasional paycheck doled out by my editor.
Now I don’t write much because I spend my time wisely, in deep meditation. It isn’t the rotgut I imbibe that leads me into the depths of thought. At least that’s not the sole and only reason. It’s the joy, as the composer John Cage once put it, of having nothing to say.
At least that’s how I interpret his motto: “It’s hard to say something as good as simply nothing.”
Sunday afternoon last, the Hopi Orchestra and Chorus launched the recently-refurbished Zuni Concert Hall on its second maiden voyage with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphonie Nr. 9 in d-Moll (Op. 125).
According to the glossy program, designers and workmen had cooperated to knock out the asbestos-laced ceiling, the better to show off the overhead plumbing and to increase the reverberations one hundred percent. Arturo Unknown, director and conductor, wisely chose Beethoven’s tribute to all that is wunderbar in life as the inaugural opus to take advantage of this improvement. Unfortunately, the wonderful harmonies elicited from the second violinists and the front-row cellists by his magic wand were offset somewhat by the misbegotten noises spewn out now and again by a pair of sleepy oboeists, not to speak of a nervous cymbalist and a slight young drummer who did not always perform on cue. On those admittedly rare occasions, the advertised reverberations would better have been held in check by the ancient asbestos.
The mezzo wore a loose-fitting purple tent, the better to hide her excessive poundage. The soprano displayed to good effect a tight red dress, disguising her age with the aid of a carefully-selected Clairol shade and several Revlon products. The Menschsänger were attired for the occasion in penguin garb, the better to belt out the dramatic notes that were called for in the score. The glee club sat above and behind the orchestra proper, patiently awaiting their turns to give lusty voice to the joy for which the piece is noted, resisting the temptation to blow their noses.
The adagio molto e cantabile—the third movement of this magnificent but ageing warhorse—is much too long and repetitive. Mr. Unknown could have cut it in half with no ill effect and for the benefit of those who are trying to hold their water. The bass, much like a prizefighter, imbibed bottled water before each of his allotted turns. The results were breathtaking. Not since the late Martti Talvela has this critic heard a male voice able to strike a low F at a decibel level the equal of an overextended lyric soprano.
Afterwards, all soloists received bouquets from designated music lovers who deluged them as if on cue. At the last curtain call, the soprano graciously deposited hers on the conductor’s stand, signifying thereby her appreciation of the musical background provided by the little people in her life—at least one would wish to think so. She may also have been allergic to the daisies. Another and more garish explanation might be that she wished to signify her undying devotion to a secret lover.
Quick: How many grizzly bears are there in and around Memphis?
Discounting zoos, my guess would be zero. Yet there is a professional basketball team called the Memphis Grizzlies.
Figure that one out. Apparently the NBA has not given the matter a great deal of thought. It made good sense to name the old Vancouver franchise the Grizzlies, considering the wilds of British Columbia. But Memphis, the hometown of America’s lord and savior, who is coming again if he is not already not dead? Lots of possibilities for an appropriate name there. Fans of Memphis, rise up! DJs of that riverboat town, sponsor contests!
Yes, my critics, I can see your letters. “How many bears are there in Chicago?” My answer: Fifty-three, not including the taxi squad. Besides, who can put “football” and “Chicago” in the same sentence and not instantly think Bears? One does not think Maroons, the eccentric nickname of the University of Chicago athletes. One thinks, and I repeat, Bears. Case closed.
It is an odd thing, the naming of sports teams. Odd when they are formed, odder when they change their names but stay put, oddest when they retain their names while moving to another city that has built a finer stadium or sports complex as a come-hither.
New York Jets. Any city with a large airport can lay claim to that plural noun. New Jersey Nets. Any basketball team, etc. How clever: Jets and Nets. When Las Vegas obtains its first NBA team, I lay significant odds that it will be the Vegas Bets.
Then there is the category of teams changing their monikers for ethical reasons. Stanford comes to mind. “Indians” became “the Cardinal.” Palo Alto must have a single member of that species of bird flying around. That’s the first point. The second point is this: how many people are there outside of universities who object to naming a team the “Indians”? A friend of mine is an Indian chief in Oklahoma; he uses the term with abandon, even in the politest of conversations. He reads Tocqueville. He gathers the tribe for powwows. Not “Native American” powwows. Indian powwows.
And now the oddest case in captivity: the Los Angeles Lakers. Lots of lakes in and around Minneapolis, where the team originated. Guess how many in L.A., which seduced them?
One. But only if you count the Brea Tar Pits, which is about the size of a large putting green and is said to contain fossils of mammoths and sabertoothed cats.
Attention, local DJs: sponsor a contest to rename this team. Mammoths? Cats? Tar Pits? Or maybe just the Pits.
(Here is a column Mr. na Gopaleen, Jr. wrote in the distant past; that is, sometime in 2004.)
BBC News recently announced that on January 13 past some members of the scientific community were concerned that an object approximately 30 meters in width was hurtling toward the Northern Hemisphere of the globe we fondly still call home. According to their calculations, this object, presumably an asteroid, had a one-in-four chance of hitting its presumptive target, thus inflicting inestimable damage.
Confronted with this data, these astronomers considered the possibility of putting in a call to the president, who, they surmised, would issue a general alert.
Instead, they chose to call the Myles Junior Think Tank and ask our opinion concerning the options. I replied that, in the jargon of our trade, I would “get back to them.”
“We’ve got 36 hours,” said the near-frantic voice on the other end of the line
“Posthaste,” I replied confidently.
After hanging up, I calmly finished my mug of Guiness while considering the options. Then, posthaste, I strolled briskly into the lounge, where my most brilliant and trusted colleagues were sipping their afternoon ports and sherries while engaged in technical talk concerning a plan we at MJTT are devising to send highly-trained polar bears to the nether side of Mars to report on the presence or absence of other furry mammals in that tiny corner of the Milky Way.
Tersely but coolly, I reported the substance of my recent conversation with a certain highly-placed NASA official.
My colleagues continued to sip, though this time with furrowed brows.
“Perhaps,” replied one of my most brilliant lieutenants, “we should send a contingent of recent winners of the Nobel Peace Prize out there to meet their people. Negotiate with them. Appeal to their peace-loving instincts. Suggest that they aim the missile on which they are perched in another direction. Suggest Pluto as an alternative.”
More sipping. More deeply-furrowed eyebrows.
Then a few skeptical voices voiced their objections to this plan.
“Could we get the Peace Prizers to agree on this strategy on such short notice? Wouldn’t they have to negotiate among themselves on a command structure?”
“Is the asteroid manned? If so, with creatures capable of communication?”
“Suppose their instincts are not, like ours, peace-loving?”
All heads shook from side to side in token of a recognition of a forbidden heresy.
“I was only trying to think outside the box,” apologized the heretic.
“Is there life on Pluto?”
“Pluto is a rock,” came the reply.
“Either that or a bag of gas,” replied a voice from behind a cloud of cigar smoke.
“Look it up,” suggested another hidden voice.
The thinkers simultaneously depleted their sherry glasses. “Either way,” one of them pointed out, “it’s not thought of as capable of sustaining life as we know it.”
All heads nodded in agreement.
With nothing left to sip, several heads nodded off.
“What were those odds again?” inquired a head, still alert to the problem.
“One in four.”
A long silence.
“Anyone for a game of badminton?”
“It’s a little cool outside.”
While three or four chessboards were being peopled with kings, queens, bishops, knights, rooks, and pawns in preparation for figurative battle, I withdrew to my office and placed a call to my contact at NASA.
“Well?” asked the frantic voice. “What did you come up with?”
“Our calculations show,” I said soothingly, “that this object, which we are calling 2004 AS1, is in fact 500 meters wide, and that it will miss us by 12 million kilometers.”
“Thank God!” replied my humanist friend.
And so, the crises averted, we continued to chat about this and that project in which NASA and MJTT are in serious collaboration.
The MJTT wishes to show a sense of urgency concerning a recent report on the disappearance of the hole in the Antarctic ozone layer—a report, he insists, that requires that the MJTT should rethink its earlier theory and recommendations concerning this vital matter.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the U.N. viewing itself as the “authoritative scientific voice on the state and behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere and climate” since 1951, reported that the seasonal ozone hole hovering over Antarctica has, in its words, “disappeared again after reaching record size earlier this year.”
The word that catches one’s attention in this brief missive is “again.” The assumption behind this nomenclature becomes clear as we read on: like our lunar companion, the moon, the ozone layer waxes and wanes in a highly predictable “seasonal manner,” and has done so since the mid-1980s.
“Scientists have said,” the WMO report goes on, that “the phenomenon [of waxing] results from destruction of the gas in the atmosphere by chemical compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons released in some aerosols and refrigerants. The hole refills [i.e., wanes] with surrounding ozone-rich air as temperatures rise.”
“Scientists have said . . .” The use of the passive voice is often a telltale sign of a weak theory, propped up by a reference to an anonymous self-proclaimed authority. Such, we suspect, is the case here.
“[S]ince the mid-1980s . . .” One wonders whether this phenomenon of waxing and waning has been in effect only from the time when the devices for ozone measurement were first put in place, or whether this hide-and-seek act has been at work since the split-up of the original Pangaea into the present system of multiple land masses. If it has been around since before the appearance of homo sapiens, we humans are off the hook; no one should be urged to feel guilty for brandishing a can of air freshener after a trip to the bathroom.
Are these quibbles? Perhaps. Let it be understood that the MJTT does not question the measurements of the WMO. For example, we are in no position to question its statement that the ozone cavity peaked at a record-matching 28 million square kilometers in mid-September. And we certainly have no wish to dispute its contention that the cavity has recently disappeared.
No. What we wish to dispute is the WMO’s dogmatic assertions concerning the causes of both the appearance of the cavity (“chemical pollution”) and its disappearance (“The hole refills with surrounding ozone-rich air as temperatures rise.”).
These assertions rule out ab ovo (Latin: literally, from the egg; or better, from the outset) the original though controversial theories carefully set forth by the MJTT: (1) that the cause of the ozone depletion is the excess of penguin droppings over millennia; (2) that a simple though politically unpalatable solution to the problem would be to issue penguin hunting licenses to wealthy American sportsmen; and (3) that a more prudent solution would be to fill the ozone cavity via the technologically feasible feats of either shipping Hummers to Antarctica and pointing their ozone-creating tailpipes at the sky, and/or creating an ozonaduct that would ship the excess Southern California ozone to that beautiful but dreary continent.
Again, an agency of the U.N. has dropped the ball. Wedded to the orthodox theory concerning ozone depletion, the WMO has nearsightedly missed seeing what we at the MJTT have been monitoring since August 10.
We are now in the position to report that the American government, in conjunction with its British counterpart, has been secretly selling penguin hunting licenses to avid hunters, especially members of the NRA and the fox-hunters of Merry Olde England. Though we cannot yet quantify the effects of this politically-motivated move on the disappearance of the ozone cavity, we have no doubt that this astute but morally-questionable act has contributed significantly to the repair of the offending hole.
More, we have obtained access to classified information that General Motors has signed a lucrative contract with the Sierra Club for the sale of 10,000 Hummers for the environmentally-sound purpose outlined above. To date, over seven thousand of the machines have arrived at their various destinations on and surrounding Antarctica; the remaining are en route.
As for the ozonaduct, our moles at the DOD (Department of Defense) report that the U.S. Government has let unbid contracts for its construction. Some sources say that this has already begun at an isolated spot above Antarctica.
These pieces of intelligence, when dot has been connected to dot, leave no doubt that our original theory of the ozone problem and its solution competes on more-than-equal terms with that of the anonymous “scientists” to whom the WMO makes constant reference.
I have received several e-mails from offended perusers of our column pointing out that our latest project, the blueprint for the neo-modern museum, takes no account of the tastes of the lower- and middle-brow habitués of museums. While our blueprint would no doubt be stunningly successful at the Art Institute of Chicago, one observer noted, it would fail miserably at that city’s Museum of Science and Industry, which boasts an attendance figure at least three or four times that of its downtown rival.
What is called for, it is clear, is a blueprint for just such a museum, in which easily two-thirds of the patrons are under the age of 16.
The solution to the problem of upgrading a museum of this sort to neo status is so simple that I blush to suggest it.
I am referring, of course, to the popular ride common to amusement parks—small vehicles equipped with thick rubber bumpers, the better to absorb the jolts they suffer and dish out as they scurry about the specially-designed arena in a spirit of glee. Not that the idea is to turn such family-oriented institutions into raucous amusement parks. No. The purpose of these miniature autos will be much the same as the purpose of the small railroad that MJTT envisions for the more upscale art museum: to save wear and tear on the feet and lower back and thus enhance the patron’s enjoyment. In fact, scattered among the customers will be traffic police riding unmarked vehicles, apprehending the occasional belligerent who drives around with evil intent.
Naturally, such a museum must be retrofitted to preserve the exhibits. These exhibits will be protected by railings that, when touched by the rubber bumpers, will blow a horn, thus attracting the attention of the traffic police, who will arrive with ticket pads at the ready.
There will of course be a rental fee, to be determined by the size and number of the renters. Fathers accompanied by two children will pay more, for example. Very large persons will be charged double. The rare slender person will receive a discount. All this is predicated, naturally, on the assumption that there will be a variety of choices of vehicles available to the connoisseur of such museums.
MJTT is always on the lookout for significant, socially responsible problems on which we can exercise our not-inconsiderable intellects.
I recently rode about an art museum disguised as an invalid. As others have discovered, the museum as we know it is an antiquated institution that is, among its other faults, hard on the feet.
MJTT has resolved to right that and other wrongs by envisioning a new form of art museum.
In the neo-modern museum, the pictures are all spaced the same distance apart, regardless of their size and aesthetic appeal. Ten feet distant from the wall runs a small battery-run railroad track. On the track is placed a continuous set of chairs facing the walls at intervals of, say, fifteen (15) feet. The chairs are, of course, for the use of the patrons. This train of chairs will not move continuously but will start and stop every fifteen feet, for exactly one minute. Thus the patrons will be allowed to see each exhibit once, after which they will be swiftly moved to the next, so that no exhibit goes unseen by any art lover. Opera glasses are provided to each patron for a small rental fee, this for the purpose of reading the fine print on the wall explaining each exhibit. Alternatively: the patron may purchase a brochure with the same information. A third option. The patron may rent an earphones/recorder combo providing an aural explanation of each exhibit; this will save him/her the trouble of reading. The combo may be rented in four colors (mauve, forest green, gunpowder gray, forest-fire orange) and listened to in any of the six standard voices: soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, all recited by a singer who has performed a leading role at the Met a minimum of three times.
The chairs are equipped with a small foldout table for the use of those who wish to have purchased foodstuffs from the museum cafeteria. Indeed, the cafeteria is to be the first stop on the line. Those who prefer not to eat while engaged in art-loving may rent a small TV set providing a full panoply of channels in order to dispose of the time others will be spending in the cafeteria. The set may also be retained, at a modest extra cost, for possible use within the museum proper. This for the convenience of those whose tastes are repelled, for example, by the Late Impressionists or who are incapable of understanding why a large spray-painted canvas or a men’s urinal, however tastefully wrought, would be considered as art.
What about the problem of restrooms? Though the time it takes for the train to traverse the entire museum will be 75 minutes at the most, the Miles Junior Think Tank takes into account the sudden urges to which a substantial majority of flesh is heir. Thus each chair comes equipped with a button that, when depressed, allows the chair and the patron it bears to leave the train and descend into a basement, which is occupied by a variety of restrooms, each festooned with the early works of an up-and-coming artist. There are stalls at the door of each restroom. For a small fee, the patron may convey his/her chair to that stall. And of course the chair is also equipped with a button that, when again depressed, returns the patron to his/her proper position on the train. (The technical details of this arrangement are being outsourced to a group of brilliant but unemployed mechanical engineers.)
At the end of the line stands the art bookstore. It is here that the museum realizes a healthy cash flow. Each of the abovementioned chairs is equipped with a small computer that allows the individual patron to select from a menu of books he/she wishes to purchase; the decisions re purchases are to be made during the general pilgrimage through the museum proper. The problem of overstocked books is obviated by the use of the POD (print-on-demand) technology, which allows the book to be printed immediately after the avid patron has placed an order.
The neo-modern museum is the answer to the prayers not only of the soft-footed, but of those who have learned to live and thrive in contemporary times while maintaining their taste for the exquisite arts.
We at the Myles Junior Think Tank are never surprised by blackouts, whether they appear in New York, California, or the vast prairies of Canada. In fact, we are near completion of our study of the problem of the world’s inadequate power supplies.
Here, in a word, is our long-range plan for solving this nettlesome difficulty: lunar power.
Solar power has, of course, received a great deal of attention by other seers and think tanks. It has had modest success, beginning with the powering of tiny student-made autos from coast to coast and, more recently, large solar farms sitting serenely in the southwestern desert.
Though in principle solar power is the definitive solution, far outstripping its major competitor, wind-generated electricity (nobody minds having the sun around, but most of us would take to the streets to protest the construction of a huge windmill in our own back yards), there is, sadly, only one sun, which shines on any given spot on earth less than fifty percent of the time. Given the nature of things, it cannot be expected to provide energy (1) all of the time and (2) in sufficient quantities for our growing energy needs.
In proposing lunar power as the solution, we are not so simple as to believe that the present moon, as constituted, has not carried its fair share of the energy burden. What we propose is a change in the moon itself.
Inspired by the example of the artist Christo (1935- ), who has draped Australia’s coast, a Colorado valley, two California counties, several Florida islands, and Berlin’s Reichstag, in fashionable cloth, we are suggesting that the moon—or at least that part of it that faces the earth—be wrapped in tinfoil. Thus the rays of the sun that hit the moon would be reflected onto the earth, increasing our solar power by as much as ten percent.
A quick phone call to our colleagues at NASA confirmed our surmise that this project is feasible within two years, given adequate federal funding; moreover, the folks there agreed that this plan seems to be an efficient, environmentally responsible use of the discarded tinfoil that presently litters our garbage dumps. However, they pointed out that the moon goes through phases. In the jargon of the energy industry, it does not always run at full capacity.
After this conversation, we at MJTT repaired to the drawing boards and, working feverishly yet coolly, came up with what we dare say is a brilliant reformulation of our theory. Is there any reason or intergalactic law to prevent us from borrowing a moon or two from our more plentifully endowed fellow planet, Jupiter?
To our knowledge, there is none. In fact, there is a precedent for just such action. Astronomers now believe it likely that eons ago, Neptune snatched its renowned moon Triton from empty space.
Another quick phone call to the folks at NASA again bore fruit. They referred us to their co-workers at the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), who were near-ecstatic about this general schema and, after only a moment’s hesitation, promised to come up with the technology for sending a space vehicle to the far side of Io and pushing it out of its orbit around Jupiter and into an orbit around us, this in such a way that when our native unnamed moon is in its new phase, Io will be in full mode, and vice versa.
The rest would be easy. After plastering our borrowed moon with used tinfoil, we would, by our mutual rough calculation, have enough energy to last the entire earth for the remainder of this century. This would provide humankind with plenty of time to filch at least half of Jupiter’s remaining moons.
Scoffers will undoubtedly scorn this plan on the grounds that it would deprive us of night and thus of romance. But let it never be said that we at MJTT are behind the curve. Research assistants at the University of Alaska have verified our guess that the mating habits of moose, elk, and caribou are not affected by the long summer days in that part of the world. We have every reason to believe that this behavior will be replicated among humans.
If this surmise proves to be erroneous, the problem of unmanageable population growth will be resolved, and with it, that of insufficient energy.