Amoeba’s Lorica: Diabolical Lexicographer (Genome)

GENOME, n. A petulant and pedantic gnome from Nome with a chilly personality, insisting on proper spelling.

One fine day in Bethesda, scientists were preparing to release the findings from their latest genome project, on the Mississippi Eighteen-Wheeled Crawdaddy (Megaplaustrum caboverpeteium), when a delegation from PAPA (Personal nAme Preservation Association) stormed into the conference room.

“What is the matter with you lazy people?”, the leader of the PAPA group, one Alphonse Gaston Pflugmeister III, demanded. “We don’t know who this Gene is that you’re commemorating here, but his given name was almost certainly Eugene. Give it to him!” He then stormed out, followed by his followers.

After the shock waves from the slammed door subsided, the team leader, George Crisper, turned to the rest, shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose it’ll be all right”, he mused. “It’s not like we work on any fake genes here.”

“Right!”, exclaimed Susanna Splicer, suddenly aroused. “And what do you call pseudogenes, then? Have you forgotten that the Crawdaddy genome, like so many others, is loaded with them?”

The resulting shouting match went on for some time. When the participants finally stopped to catch their breaths, they were surprised to find that the shouting did not stop with them. Worse, they smelled smoke. They ran to the windows and discovered, to their horror, that their building was surrounded by an angry mob that stretched for as far as the eye could see. The crowd members were screaming, and carrying weapons of various sorts, and carrying picket signs that read things like:

STOP THE SEXISM!

NO GENOMES WITHOUT BETTYOMES!

Worse, their building was burning. The ground floors were completely up in flames, and there was no escape …

The riots, abetted by elements from the various anti-GMO groups worldwide, as well as ongoing wars of conquest and insurrection, soon spread to crops and pastures as well as cities and towns, leaving blackened destruction in their wakes. The rioters were soon replaced by parties of armed foragers, which regularly entered into pitched battles over the surviving food resources. Under the pressures of dearth and conflict, these parties rapidly dwindled in number and size.

Two generations later, the surviving human population was living in tipis, with no memory that molecular biology had ever existed.

– Jonah and Cassandra Venter

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