The Funny Times, August 2009

Layout 1Ray Lesser’s “Your Inner Fish” includes these two memorable paragraphs:

In his book Your Inner Fish, [Professor Neil] Shubin describes many of the recent amazing discoveries in paleontology and genetic research to explain human origins and evolution. We quite literally contain the entire tree of life inside our bodies. He says humans are the fish equivalent of a Volkswagen Beetle souped up to race 150 mph. “Take the body plan of a fish, dress it up to be a mammal, then tweak and twist that mammal until it walks on two legs, talks, thinks, and has superfine control of its fingers — and you have a recipe for problems.”

The difficulty of engineering a fish to walk on two legs has resulted in many a sore knee and sprained ankle, not to mention closets full of poorly fitting shoes. The strange loops and detours our nerves and veins have to take to get around various organs lead to other common annoyances such as hiccups and hernias. Four of the leading causes of death in humans — heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and stroke — are mostly due to having at our core a body that was designed to swim around all day, rather than sit on its keister surfing the Internet, or drive truckloads of sardines from L.A. to Indianapolis. Fish don?t get hemorrhoids, either.

Jon Winokur’s “Curmudgeon” column collects quotes on boredom.  My favorite is from Henry Kissinger, “The nice thing about being a celebrity is that when you bore people, they think it’s their fault.”  Norman Mailer and Bertrand Russell are not as far apart as one might suppose; Russell said, “Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by it.”  Mailer said, “”The war between being and nothingness is the underlying illness of the twentieth century.  Boredom slays more of existence than war.”  These two are not far from an author Winokur leaves out, Blaise Pascal, who famously attributed most of the trouble in the world to people’s inability to sit quietly in their rooms.  Frank Moore Colby said, “Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible.”  Nancy Astor said, “The penalty for success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you.”  Rochefoucauld said, “We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore.”

Harper’s Index reports that in April of this year, 27 percent of the respondents to a poll identified as Republicans, while another poll in the same month reported that 20 percent of respondents agreed the “Socialism is better than capitalism.”  So perhaps we should put the GOP on the same footing as socialists.

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