Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why Is Science So Lame?

Seriously. I mean, scientists are forever dicking around trying to cure malaria or unravel the genome to cancer, or maybe build shinier solar stuff, when what the world really needs is completely something else.

Non-fartogenic beer. That's a good example, right there. Who's out there, researching day and night to save us all from stinking great eye-watering, ass-burning beer farts? Nobody, that's who. But if you turned up tomorrow with fart-proof beer that tasted great and got you drunk just as fast -- dude, they wouldn't be able to get your name on the Nobel scrolls fast enough.

But that's not what I'm really talking about right now. Fart-proof beer isn't a bad idea, but what the world really, really needs is a self-disassembling chicken. Absolutely.

See, today we had some visitors. Actually, we had a couple today, and one leftover from the night before . That was Miss M the Student Dietician who turned up last night for Thai fish stew, and crepes with home-made vanilla ice-cream and garden-fresh raspberries. She stuck around to watch Igor up in the Cinema Zone with Clan Flinthart, plus a whole lot of popcorn and a large pitcher of that gin and curacao stuff... made for a good evening all around.

So Miss M and Nat and the kids were all hitting the blueberry pancakes this morning when our other visitors arrived -- a couple of local folk, who brought with them a pair of goddam roosters. Why? Because the local folk in question, who are perfectly lovely people in their own right, are animal softies. They rescue 'em. And keep 'em. And look after 'em.

And they aren't much chop when it comes to going the chop-chop with the excess of roosterage.

Enter Mr Flinthart and his Cleaver of Chicken Slaughteration.

Once the visitors toddled off, I felt I could go about Silencing the Roosters without alarming anyone unduly. So I seized the cleaver in question, opened the travel cage, and pulled out one of the big, white chooky bastards.

Cranky bloody thing it was, too. Lots of blurrrking and borrking, and attempts to gouge yours truly with the impressively large and sharp spurs on the back of the feet. Nasty. No wonder the lovely visitor-folks wanted rid of the damned things...

So I took Rooster One out to the wood-chop zone, and laid its head on the block. And who should come bolting around the corner but Younger Son, eh? Mightily excited, he is. Apparently some banana-brain has told him that chooks run around after you cut their heads off, and he is truly desperate to see...


No, I'm not gonna consult with Natalie, I figure. The Younger Son needs to understand how this stuff works if he's going to eat meat. I'm no vegetarian, as you all know -- but I don't have much time for people who will eat meat, but can't face the ugly facts behind that delicious, tasty meal. If you can't bring yourself to kill and clean the meat for your table, sez I, stick to the greenery. And no: I've never slaughtered a cow. But the odd lamb, occasional goat kid, and wallaby? Yep. Without blinking.

So I shrugged, and brought down the cleaver - which is fiendish sharp, oh yes - and Rooster One loses its Command and Control module. The head sits there on the chopping block, blinking and opening its beak remarkably like unto a chicken too stupid to know that it's dead, while the body leaps about, flapping and spraying blood, and Younger Son stares in fascinated horror...

I don't think he's going to have nightmares. But just to help him along, I made him put the head into the compost heap. And then, after I plunged Rooster One into a pot of boiling water to loosen the feathers, I left Younger Son hard-a-pluck, and introduced Rooster Two to a chunk of century-old hand-crafted German steel.

And there was much plucking, and stench of wet feathers, and then there was gutting and there was blood and me with my hand deep in a dead chicken's body cavity, grouting around for the little fraggy bits that you can never quite get loose. And at some point or another, Elder Son came out just as Younger Son discovered that you can squeeze a dead chicken and activate its voicebox, so there was macabre Zombie Chicken noise happening. And Elder Son wanted to know what was going on, so I called him over to help hold the remaining unviolated chicken corpse, and just as he was about to reach for it I gave it a squeeze and it went "blu-urrk!" in a convincingly chickenlike fashion and he jumped about a metre and a half and Younger Son fell about the place laughing, getting blood and feathers all over himself, and earning me the Wrath of Natalie who was Not At All Amused by Zombie Chicken antics.

Now both plucked, cleaned corpses are reposing quietly in the bottom of my refrigerator. Tomorrow I will joint them, season them, and slow bake them until they're crispy golden brown, to be served with new potatoes and garden salad and maybe a nice dry white wine... but nevertheless, it was still a horrid, ugly, stinky, feathery sort of job. And what I really want for Christmas, dear Science, is a chicken that will kill itself. And then shed all its feathers in a single fluffy cloud. And then fall apart into nice, neatly sectioned joints, with the giblets in a pile of ugly in the centre, ready to be properly disposed of.

Is that too much to ask, O Mighty Geneticists? Or are you too busy diddling around with second-rate shit like AIDS, Swine Flu, and a cure for Stephen Conroy?

... actually, I have to admit that I'd be prepared to accept a cure for Stephen Conroy. That would be cool too.


  1. Yeah, I'd fund science research like that in a heartbeat!

  2. Gold. I remember'harvesting' some chickens when I was kid in Oregon. All the drudgery after the chop was by far the worst part of the day.

  3. You mean they're NOT born, all pale and featherless and wrapped in plastic? Next you'll be telling me there's no Santa!

  4. Yeah. About that fat beardy bastard. You know how I feel about some bearded guy who flies around the world sneaking into peoples' houses and leaving shit behind him? I totally do NOT see 'Christian Icon' there. I see 'probably Terrorist', and if the bastard rocks up anywhere around my house, I'm shooting first and alerting the authorities later.

  5. Been a long time since I would "help" my grandfather kill and clean a rooster for Sunday lunch, help mostly involving standing around and not getting in the way. This would be behind the machine shed and involve a bucket of boiled water, a tree stump and an axe.

    Not sure I could these days. I'd be fine with the plucking and gutting, just not so keen on the bit involving turning the lights out. Spent too much time with my wife, who habitually instantly makes friends with any animal she comes across, and with years of this it rubs off on you. Of course, in the moment it's purely technical and you don't need to look the other way, as your mind looks the other way for you if you need it to. I don't think I go along with the whole new-agey thanking the animal for giving its life and all that, not when it clearly doesn't want to. It's a pretty straightforward matter of determination and technology.

    Something that comes across in various accounts of ship-board life in the age of sail, is that they had to keep rotating the job of tending the ship's animals. Most of which were simply food before the age of the deep freezer, and a sailor left with that duty for too long would get too close to kill them later.

  6. I fear somethings are beyond science Flinty. The conroy cure that is, the chicken is totally doable

  7. When I visit you Flinty I'm bringing your poor deprived kids Pizza Hut. Greasy, commercialized pizza with processed cheese.

    Later I'll make Rice Krispy Treats with Kool-Aid. Every kid needs a rice krispy treat with kool-aid.

  8. Jenn, they have Pizza Hut even in the wild mountain hills of Tasmania. I bet Dirk makes better pizza though. I certainly do.

  9. It's OK Flinty, I'll alert the border authorities, she ain't getting into the country.

    Developmental biologist lecturer of my acquaintance (he was on my thesis committee, now steering Big Scary Lab in Singapore) figured out how to make the Colonel a bag more money by manipulating the developing limb buds on chick embryos. Basically you invert their position early in development and you get two limbs growing from the same limb bud (cos the early patterning events which set up the limb development field are already sorted by then). A chicken with FOUR drumsticks. He thought this was untrammelled win. However the PR peeps from Kan't F**king Cook were less keen and told him not to contact them again.

  10. Isn't a chicken without processing issues a guinea pig? Easy pelt removal, easy gut, and gelatinous bones that are all soft enough to dissolve after frying?

    I believe Nasa did the numbers, and Guinea pigs were space meat, but pet owners flipped out and Nasa quietly removed the doco.

    Those South Americans know where it's at in that regard.

  11. Damian: you're quite right. You and I both make better pizza than the Hutt... and I say that in complete confidence, having never even stood downwind from your pizza.

    What you need to understand about Jennicki is that in some ways, she's incurably USAnian. For us, pizza is hot, crisp-crusted, lightly loaded with tasty ingredients, sauced with a spicy combination of tomato and garlic and basil, sprinkled with just enough mozzarella to give the pepperoni modesty... it's cooked fast, served hot, and it's tasty as hell without being desperately unhealthy.

    This is not Jennicki's definition of "pizza". If you want to understand her definition of "pizza", you need to wander down to the local Pizza Hutt and subject yourself to the goriest, greasiest, most stale-cheesed pre-processed and packaged monstrosity on their menu.

    There's no point in argument. After all: the Chinese eat things like bear paws, and make drinks out of snake's blood. The Japanese will mince the muscle on a live lobster and serve it still twitching on the plate. And in the USA, they have stuff from places like Pizza the Hutt.

    Bart... I dunno about those 'gelatinous bones'. There's definitely teeth in those little furry bastards.

    And Doc Yobbo? I can't understand why your friend wasn't immediately promoted to head of R&D. Frankenchickens with four legs? Totally excellent!

  12. Dirk you are going to be in soooo much trouble when that comes out at the dinner table. Made me laugh though!!

    Yes self disassembling chickens is a must I am always paranoid about being punctured severly when i do spatchcock for the barbie.