The Cameron Column #41
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      In an extraordinary new scientific study which answers the question, "are we giving scientists too much money to investigate this kind of stuff?" researchers have determined that providing rats the equivalent of six cups of coffee enables them (the rats) to be one percent more productive.

      Several questions immediately leap to mind. First, what, exactly, makes a rat more "productive?" The mice my son had (until he left the door to the cage open, and then the cat had them) "produced" only tiny black pellets. Did scientists count these pellets and find there were slightly more of them after six cups of coffee? If so, they may have inadvertently discovered a job for which my brother-in-law is qualified. As long as counting pellets doesn't involve (a) showing up for work on time or (b) showing up for work, I can see him rising to the top of his profession.

      Second, what is the "equivalent" of six cups of coffee? Maybe the scientists stuck the little rat paws into an electric outlet. In that case, heck YES there were more black pellets, probably left there by rats awaiting their turn at the socket. Do the People for the Ethical Treatment of Rodents We Would Otherwise Exterminate know about this? I'm picturing rats sitting around with tiny cups and saucers, reading the equivalent of the morning newspaper, watching the equivalent of the Today show, getting ready for the equivalent of the morning rush hour so they can get to their little rat offices and start producing one percent more pellets. The scientists studying this must feel they are doing the equivalent of contributing to society.

      Finally, if I drink the equivalent of 600 cups of coffee, does this mean I will be 100% more productive, thus able to stay home and do nothing while my more productive self goes off to work? How the heck can I be more productive if I am in the bathroom all day unloading 600 cups of coffee? If Al Gore drank 600 cups of coffee, would he change expression?

      I have a suggestion: maybe next time the scientists should drink the coffee themselves, and then they could come up with a better idea for something to study. Like, if you gave my brother-in-law the equivalent of six cups of coffee, would he find a job?

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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1997
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