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Always on the scent of good news

People always ask me: How come the newspaper prints so much bad news? How come the front page always has negative headlines such as: "Freak Espresso Machine Explosion Destroys Crowded Starbucks?" Why don't we print stories with a positive slant, like: "Destroyed Starbucks Was Popular Gathering Place for Lawyers?"

Well, okay, then. You want good news? We got yer good news right here, starting with this: EXCITING ADVANCE IN LIVESTOCK FLATULENCE

As you know if you have ever stood outdoors in the Midwest, cows give off methane gas. We don't know why. Maybe they're bored. Maybe they're trying to spoil humanity's appetite for hamburgers. All we know is that scientists believe methane gas is a major factor in global warming.

For the record, I have a friend named Doris who argues, on good authority, that the biggest single cause of global warming is menopause. Also, I recently received a letter from a reader named Ron Houtsma who theorizes that global warming may be related to an alarming increase in the number of pizza ovens, especially in New Jersey.

But methane is surely a factor, and cows produce a lot of it. That's why we should all be very excited about the recent scientific discovery concerning _ I am not making this up _ kangaroo flatulence. According to news articles sent in by many alert readers, scientists in Australia have found that even though kangaroos eat the same grasses as cows, they (the kangaroos, not the scientists) produce no methane.

The question that springs to mind, of course, is: How did the scientists conduct this research? It cannot be easy to collect emission samples from a nondomesticated animal that can travel 40 mph, leap 30 feet at a single bound AND punch. I'm guessing the task of gathering kangaroo gas samples fell to some rookie scientist ("Okay, Sedgwick: Here's a jar, a helmet and a pogo stick. Now get out there and win one for the planet!").

So anyway, now the Australian scientists are trying to figure out how the kangaroos manage to be methane-free. They think the answer may one of the 40 kinds of bacteria they have identified in the kangaroo's stomach. I don't even want to THINK about how they collected those samples. ("Okay, Sedgwick: Here's a jar, a rope and a snorkel.")

The scientists plan to isolate the anti-methane bacterium in the kangaroo's stomach, then see what happens when they put this same bacterium into the stomachs of cows. Speaking as a layperson concerned about the future of my planet (Earth), I just want to say to these scientists, in humble gratitude: ARE YOU INSANE?? What if the bacterium causes the cows to develop other kangaroo characteristics? And what if these modified cows escape from Australia? It would be like the killer bees, only much worse:

"WISCONSIN _ Weary National Guard troops continued to battle a rampaging herd of bacteria-enhanced Australian kangaroo cows that have been bounding around this heartland state, soaring over fences with moos of derision and punching their way into grain silos. "The worst thing,' said one Guardsman, "is when they get airborne, and suddenly you're facing a hailstorm of incoming meadow muffins. Although I have to say they don't smell as bad as the local cows.' "

So a certain risk is involved in the Australian scientists' research. But however it works out, I think we can all agree on one thing: "The Moos of Derision" would be a good name for a rock band.

And speaking of good, our next piece of good news, which was sent in by about 19-billion alert readers, concerns a Butler, Pa., company that is making a:

MACHINE-GUN EQUIPPED SUV

Yes! According to an Associated Press article by Charles Sheehan, a company called Ibis Tek is modifying Chevrolet Subdivisions and other big-momma "sport" utility vehicles to accept machine guns; they are fired by using a joystick inside the car. These armed vehicles are sold mostly to foreigners; to have one in the United States, you need a permit from the federal government, which requires you to have a good reason. Fortunately, I do: I drive in Miami.

I am tired of having nothing but a puny horn to alert the 258-year-old driver in the Oldsmobile ahead of me that the green arrow pointing left means you can turn left now . . . c'mon please turn . . . TURN LEFT PLEASE C'MON C'MON HURRY UP IT'S GONNA CHANGE OH NOOOOO. I think the federal government would have to agree that this is a situation in which a friendly warning burst of several thousand .50-caliber rounds would be a big help to traffic flow.

The Ibis Tek people also offer an option for a grenade launcher, but I think that would be overkill, don't you? Unless those cows show up.

Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. Write to him c/o the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.

2002, Miami Herald

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