- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 11, 2009

I was talking to a friend about the conceit of our technological supremacy over that of past generations — you know, the belief that if a modern man went back in time, he could take control of society because of his technological superiority.

We both think that’s a crock.

We use our technology without understanding it. We rely on our technology so much that we are slaves to it.

Send a modern journalist 400 years into the past, and the first discovery he’ll make is that he has no cell-phone reception. Then he’ll find out he’s lost because the GPS isn’t working.

And taking over society? What does he have to offer?

Journalist: “Hi, I’m from the future, and I bring you the five W’s of journalism - who, what, where, when and why.”

Townsfolk: “Witch!”

Journalist: “No, that’s not one of the W’s.”

Townsfolk: “Drown him!”

Journalist: “Oh, I see. A homophone.”

• • •

Astronomers recently discovered that the Milky Way galaxy is spinning a lot faster than they previously had estimated.

What’s more, they found two spiral arms in the galaxy that hadn’t been seen before, and that discovery increases the Milky Way’s mass by 50 percent.

To be quite honest with you, I thought our galaxy was putting on a little weight, but I didn’t want to say anything. You know, with the holidays and all, you’ve gotta expect the Milky Way will put on a few extra solar systems this time of year.

It’s good news for me to learn that the Milky Way is spinning faster. This explains my constant dizziness, especially when I’m driving. It’s not my fault. I blame the galaxy.

• • •

Does Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich look a little like Potsie from “Happy Days,” or is that just me?

And where is Anson Williams now? You never see him and Rod Blagojevich in the room at the same time.

I wonder.

• • •

Did you see that report about how economists are worried that Americans’ newfound sense of thriftiness and saving will hurt the economy? They think it will prolong the economic downturn because a decrease in demand will slow the production of goods.

What is this?

For years, economists were saying that Americans don’t save enough, that we have the worst savings rate of any industrialized nation, that we couldn’t spell “SAVE” if they spotted us the S, the A and the V.

Now that we’ve finally gotten the message (the hard way) and are saving, they’re saying we’re hurting the economy.

Hey, economists! Make up our minds, will ya?

• • •

The 111th Congress convened this week, and they went straight to work. They had an incentive, what with that automatic $4,700 pay raise they got.

Yep, there’s nothing like a performance-based salary inducement to keep the employees happy at work. (Hint. Hint.)

Members of Congress used to vote themselves pay raises, but now they get them automatically. Less paperwork. More time for fundraising.

Automatic congressional pay raises are just another form of merit pay - if you strangle the definition of “merit.”

• • •

This is true, I swear: Australians are being advised to eat kangaroos and camels in an effort to reduce damage to the environment. Yum!

Nearly 1 million wild camels, which are not native to Australia, are wreaking havoc on the environment. So an ecological group is recommending camel hunting - for food.

In addition, the group says raising kangaroos for meat would be better than raising cattle because kangaroos produce much less methane gas than flatulent cows. Who knew? I never considered measuring kangaroo flatulence before, and now that I have, I feel better about myself.

You know, I didn’t know you could eat camels and kangaroos. Not voluntarily, anyway. I had always thought about it as a “last resort” type of thing: You’re stranded in the desert with only your camel and a leather saddle. Of course, you eat the leather saddle first. But then …

I can’t imagine a kangaroo ranch, though. For some reason, “Winnie the Pooh” keeps leaping to mind: All those episodes with Kanga and Roo take on a different meaning when Christopher Robin is hungry. I can hear Piglet and Rabbit breathing a little easier. The pressure’s off them now - but Eeyore’s starting to look a little nervous.

I wonder if camel and kangaroo will be on the appetizers list or the entrees list at Outback restaurants. I hope Outback doesn’t offer them as live samples like a lobster restaurant. “Yes, I’ll take that joey in the corner. He looks delicious!”

Either way, I think I’ll stick with the Bloomin’ Onion.

• • •

I’d like to see a movie in which a modern-day accountant goes 400 years into the past and must explain what he does for a living.

Accountant: “Well, you see, I practice accountancy. That’s a state-approved system to record, verify and report the value of assets and liabilities, and income and expenses in books called ledgers, which maintain a chronological record of changes in debit and credit entries as well as asset value.”

Townsfolk: (Blank, dumbfounded stares) “Huh?”

Accountant: “Um … let me make this easier. I count things, then write them down.”

Townsfolk: (Eyes brighten in recognition) “Ah! … Witch!”

• Read Carleton Bryant’s daily humor blog at http://washingtontimes.com/weblogs/out-context/.

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