By Ned Hickson
As I've mentioned before, because of our home's proximity to the local wharf, from time to time we have a problem with rodents. Now, when I say "rodents," I mean rats, and when I say "problem," I mean finding mysterious entries scrawled on our grocery list that read:
Get mor cheez.
However, I know that we aren't alone in this, and that our neighbors undoubtedly have the same rodent problem. I know this because 1) They are our neighbors, and therefore live as close to the wharf as we do, and 2) Because we routinely lob assorted cheese curds into their yards before going to bed. [Note to our neighbors: We are NOT trying to entice the rats from our house into yours; we're simply trying to entice you to eat more cheese.]
That said, some recent discoveries could change the way we go about solving our rat problem. According to an article in the Washington Post, researchers at the State University of New York have created the world's first remote-controlled rat (I should mention that no lawyers were harmed during this experiment - not that anyone cares.) By implanting tiny electrodes in rats' brains, scientists can command the rats to turn left or right, climb trees, navigate mazes, and, in some cases, stage dramatic light saber duels while dressed as tiny Star Wars characters.
The science involves three electrodes, implanted at specific locations in the brain, which are then triggered by a remote device that produces controlled responses in the rat. Amazingly, this very same technology is utilized by my wife, who uses our TV remote in order to trigger controlled responses from me by switching the channel whenever I get up to use the bathroom. "Hey, what happened to the game?" "You weren't watching it." "I was in the bathroom for 30 seconds!" "Did you put the lid back down?" [Controlled response] "...I'll go check."
Understandably, there are those who think that manipulating rats (and husbands) is inhumane, and that it is the first step toward an "Orwellian" world of human-control technology. While this is certainly possible, others argue that we can't dismiss the many practical applications that robo-rats have to offer...
OK, I personally couldn't come up with any. That's why people like me, who possess no technological vision whatsoever, must turn to people like Boston University professor Howard Eichenbaum, whose technological vision is so advanced it could be mistaken for hallucinogenic drug use. According to Eichenbaum, the research "holds the promise of using animals as couriers to reach victims trapped in confined spaces."
I don't know about you, but when trapped in a confined space, a rat is just about the LAST thing I want coming in after me.
Except for maybe Geraldo Rivera.
Which isn't to say robo-rats don't have their place; I'm just saying it doesn't happen to be anywhere near ME or my house.
However, at my neighbors' is perfectly fine.
To be honest, it wouldn't exactly come as a shock. Especially with all of that cheese they've got lying around.
You can write to Ned Hickson at:
The Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.