It’s been hard to read the newspapers here lately, because for several weeks the headlines have been exactly the same. On Mondays it’s: Major Corporation Admits It ‘Misplaced’ Several Billion Dollars. On Tuesdays, it’s: Shareholders Chase CEO to Mexican Border, Threaten Hanging. On Wednesdays, it’s: Celebrity Chef Denies Cooking Books; Says He Only Sauteed Them In A Light Apricot Sauce.
So, it’s with no small amount of irony that I noticed one story that stood out in all that sameness: it was about cloning.
The Russians, it seems, lost one of their most famous trees to a fire. It had been a large and rather magnificent mulberry tree, and was reputed to have inspired the legendary poet Aleksandr Pushkin to write one of his most famous poems, which actually featured a giant oak tree. Scientists were going to try to clone the tree from living tissue found in the burnt stump.
To me, this says two things: 1) Isn’t modern science amazing? and 2) Never trust a poet to keep his trees straight.
Now, lots of people will try to tell you that cloning is weird, or just ‘not right,’ but personally I think the technology has just gotten a bad rap. This is because the first creature ever cloned was a sheep. This was a silly move because A) As New Zealanders will tell you, we already have too many sheep and B) Sheep already looked too much alike — not even sheep can tell one from another. Don’t believe me? Next time you visit your neighbourhood sheep shop, just yell “Hey ewe!” They’ll all reply.
No, I think scientists would be far better off cloning things that we can all use on a daily basis. For example:
Car keys — I cannot go four weeks straight without ‘misplacing’ my car keys. This means I either need to get a key cloner, or I’d make a great car company CEO.
Lamb curry — Instead of cloning sheep, I’d like to be able to clone the dish of lamb curry I made in 1998, because it was the only time I ever got the recipe exactly right.
First holiday — Wouldn’t it be great to be able to make copies of that feeling you had as a kid when you experienced your first birthday party? Or your first beach vacation? So you could break open a copy on days when you really need a pick-me-up, like when your quarterly investment statement shows up in the mail?
Extinct Animals —Forget silly horror stories like Jurassic Park, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bring back animals that we’ve driven to extinction? Like, say, the dodo bird? What’s that you say? We have enough of those in government?
Socks — The next time I buy a pair of socks, I want to clone 12 copies of the left one. This is because my dryer keeps eating all my left socks. Don’t tell me that’s not true, I can see the remnants in the lint trap.
Ice Cubes — Why would I want to clone ice cubes? Because as I write this it’s 10°C (111°F) outside. I live in Canada. It’s winter. Something is very, very wrong here.
Dust Bunnies — No, wait — they clone themselves. Never mind.
Desk Space — Because you never, ever, have enough desk space.
Money — Do I have to explain this one?
Mittens — See Socks, above.
For Women — Wouldn’t it be great if we could clone several thousand copies of a young, cute, single, well-built, intelligent, sensitive man? The trick here, of course, would be finding the source material.
For Men — Wouldn’t it be great if we could clone several thousand copies of a young, single, blonde woman measuring 40-18-32, with multiple career talents and a great kitchen? Hang on, we have! Her name is Barbie.
Blue jeans — In a lifetime of shopping, the average woman finds exactly one pair of jeans that both look good and fit properly. When she does, the company will immediately cease making them. The ability to clone that magic pair would save women thousands of dollars.
And hey, isn’t cloning jeans what it’s all about?