As if we didn’t have enough things to worry about, now the government is up to another round of doomsday press releases. Before Independence Day the office fax machine churned out releases on picnic food poisonings, children being sucked into swimming pool drains, fatal car accidents, firecracker maimings and urged us to keep our pants tucked into our socks to prevent deadly West Nile Virus.
As if we didn’t have enough things to worry about, now the government is up to another round of doomsday press releases.
Before Independence Day the office fax machine churned out releases on picnic food poisonings, children being sucked into swimming pool drains, fatal car accidents, firecracker maimings and urged us to keep our pants tucked into our socks to prevent deadly West Nile Virus.
Now that Labor Day is upon us, the state is causing fear and trembling about this new problem of rabid bats. Statewide there have been 40 rabid bats collected this year. Never mind that none of those bats have been found farther south than St. Clair County and never mind that last year there was only one human death in the nation caused by a rabid bat — a man in Minnesota.
Still, we can’t be too careful. Nature is a very scary place with all kinds of tricks up its sleeve, so don’t go out handling bats or mixing saliva or blood with bats. Yes, the Illinois Department of Public Health Web site does indeed discourage citizens from swapping spit with bats and if we do make that choice, we are instructed to seek immediate medical attention.
Also, if a bat is discovered in the same room where there is an intoxicated person we are to ensure that person gets checked out for possible rabies. And — just in case — we had better tuck our pants back into our socks West Nile-style lest the bat attempt to roost up our pantleg.
And it now comes to my attention Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signed a law against cyberbullying, considered “a serious threat in today’s increasingly technological society.” What fun will my MySpace page be now that I can no longer torment and terrorize Tom?
I have probably been victimized by “harassing and obscene communications” as much as anybody around here.
My first impulse is to roll up my sleeves, crack my knuckles and type back visciousness until my fingertips blister, but then a realization hits me: Dude, it’s only a computer and there is only some raging drunk on the other end so do something useful with your time. Practice juggling.
The new cyberbullying law could help me out with the slanderous and hurtful comments some people lob at my writings, especially from some of our neighbors up in a central area of the state who recently made unfair remarks not only about my opinions, not only about my writing style, and not only about my worth as a man, but went so far as to attack my innocent father and his livelihood, apparently blaming him for my unfortunate existence on this planet.
You think I’m fair game just because I write things for the public to digest and debate? You think I don’t have feelings? Don’t you know I could be in big trouble with the boss for opening those deceiving electronic messages that lead me to those Web sites involving inappropriate physical contact between humans and bears?
People can be awfully unpredictable.
Maybe the state’s health department has seen those Web sites, too, and that’s why they feel compelled to tell us it is unsafe to exchange saliva with rabid bats.
But we must plow on through the pile of troubling press releases.
Between Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 there is going to be a state trooper every 10 miles on the interstate highways. And here I am, with no cruise control, with a pitifully banged up car and a chronic habit of distracted driving.
It does not look like I’ll be traveling far Labor Day weekend.
If the governor has his way, the interstates will be even more threatening with cameras set up to take photos of me speeding. Seriously, I don’t try to speed, but I get involved looking at the clouds and billboards and state troopers and then notice my speed is way up over 65 mph.
Maybe I could pay a few hundred dollars at the beginning of the year as prepayment of fines so I don’t have to worry about it. Just send me a letter when my fund gets low and I’ll put some more money into it.
With everything else going on, there is a postcard on my desk regarding the U.S. Forest Service’s proposal to drop ping-pong balls filled with a napalm-like chemical from helicopters creating a 5,650-acre forest fire on public and private land all in the interest of creating a healthy forest.
The Buttermilk Hill-Talbott Hollow Blowdown Project is a large area off state Route 3 in Jackson County where a bunch of trees were snapped by a tornado a couple of years ago.
Apparently, instead of leaving these trees to rot, to shelter insects and bats and to return to the earth as is nature’s way the forest is best served by setting all of that ablaze with a “helicopter mounted plastic sphere dispenser” or a “helitorch.”
Our running streams, docile deer, majestic trees with canopies singing with songbirds apparently owe their continued survival to something called a helitorch.
Well, at least this helitorch should take care of this rabid bat problem.
Biran DeNeal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.