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This is your brain with not a whole lot to do with itself

January 05, 2011

Word is just in that, of all things, our brains are shrinking — and this has nothing to do with the new Congress.

No, scientists instead are saying the size of the human brain peaked during the Cro-Magnon period and has been shrinking ever since. The reason, scientists contend, is that we do not need as many wits about us today as we did back then, seeing as how there is far less chance of being attacked by a sabertooth tiger. (Although far more chance of being attacked by Brett Favre.)

You can be comforted by that if you want, but to me that’s an admission of our decreasing mental skills. And this might explain why the world, from a pop culture standpoint, is falling apart around us.
 
In the world of literature, a new version of Huck Finn has been published, replacing what even the most elegant writers in the world are forced to refer to as “the N word” with the word “slave.”

In the world of television, an ESPN announcer has been fired for calling a female sideline reporter “sweetcakes” and, when she didn’t like that, calling her a name that, to his credit, is more often associated as a whole with the male of the species.

In the photographic arts, the aforementioned NFL quarterback Favre is in all kinds of trouble that has nothing to do with blitzing linebackers. While with the New York Jets, he was accused of sending Very Bad Messages to the female help, including a photograph of his — hmm, how to say this. Well, put it this way: My friend Bill actually took a picture of a cucumber and posted it online, with a tag to the effect of, “Hey Brett, Kermit the Frog has you beat.”

And finally, in the performing arts, newly elected House Republicans announced a dramatic reading of the Constitution because we could all use a good reminder of the infallible sanctity of the original document.

Individually, these might not seem like all that big a deal, or even all that bad. For example, one friend said he was encouraged by the news that newly elected House members could read. (Although he was curious to see what they were going to do when they get to the part of the Constitution, Article IV Section 2, that requires escaping slaves to be returned to their rightful owners.)

But when you step back and view all these seemingly trifling incidents through the same lens, I think there is a very real and startling revelation at hand: The story about our brains shrinking must be true! Either that or Americans have way too much time on their hands.

I wish, for example, that I had enough free time —not to mention enough talent — to go back and rewrite Mark Twain. The only thing I can figure is that the project must have involved a federal grant. Indeed, if there’s money in it, I will personally make the time to go back and revise the Bible, replacing the word “harlot” with the word “sweetcakes.”

And if you can insult the intelligence of a football sideline reporter (“Coach, what do you plan on changing in the second half?” “Nothing.” “OK Ron, there you have it.”) who is to say you shouldn’t be treated to a free meal?

The startling truth is that we needed sabertooth tigers to keep us at the top of our game. Without them, our IQ is dropping faster than an Arkansas blackbird. Something needs to change! Unless, of course, it would be too much effort.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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