Remote-controlled rats, husbands could mark beginning of Brave New World (and yes, I’m scared)

image As I’ve mentioned before, because of our home’s proximity to the local wharf, from time to time we have a problem with rodents. Now, when I say “rodents,” I mean rats, and when I say “problem,” I mean finding mysterious entries scrawled on our grocery list that read:

Git mor cheeez.

However, I know that we aren’t alone in this, and that our neighbors undoubtedly have the same rodent problem. I know this because 1) They are our neighbors, and therefore live as close to the wharf as we do, and 2) Because we routinely lob assorted cheese curds into their yards before going to bed.

[Note to neighbors: We are NOT trying to entice the rats from our house into yours; we’re simply trying to entice you to eat more cheese.]

That said, some recent discoveries could change the way we go about solving our rat problem. According to a recent article in the journal Nature, researchers at the State University of New York have created the world’s first living remote-controlled rat. By implanting tiny electrodes in rats’ brains, scientists can command the rats to turn left or right, climb trees, navigate mazes, and, in some cases, stage dramatic light saber duels while dressed as tiny Star Wars characters.

The science involves three electrodes, implanted at specific locations in the brain, which are then triggered by a remote device which produces controlled responses in the rat.
Interestingly enough, this very same technology is utilized by many wives, who use the TV remote to trigger controlled responses from husbands by switching the channel whenever they get up to use the bathroom.

“Hey, what happened to the game?”
“You weren’t watching it.”
“I was in the bathroom for 30 seconds!”
“Did you put the lid back down?”
[Controlled response:]
“…I’ll go check.”

Understandably, there are those who think that manipulating rats (or husbands) is inhumane, and that it is only the first step toward an “Orwellian” world of human-control technology. While this is certainly possible, others argue that we can’t dismiss the many practical applications that Robo-rats offer. For example, Professor Howard Eichenbaum of Boston University says the research “holds the promise of using animals as couriers to reach trapped victims.”

I don’t know about you, but when trapped beneath a crumbled overpass, I can honestly say a rat is just about the LAST thing I want coming in after me (not counting Geraldo Rivera.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Robo-rats don’t have their place. It just doesn’t happen to be anywhere near ME.

Or my house.

But at my neighbors’ is fine.

To be honest, it wouldn’t exactly come as a shock. Especially with all of that cheese they’ve got lying around.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications.)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

60 thoughts on “Remote-controlled rats, husbands could mark beginning of Brave New World (and yes, I’m scared)”

      1. I must absolutely agree about the fences………Riaan can try the cheese on our neighbors, if only the problem was just rats 😉

    1. Hahaha! When my son was little, he found a plate with rat poops on it. To avoid freaking him out, I told him I spilled a bottle of chocolate sprinkles by accident. At first, I thought I had been clever in avoiding what could have been a life-changing traumatic experience. That was, until I noticed him going through the plates every day looking for “chocolate sprinkles.”

  1. We have a problem with roof rats here in the desert. It took me a long time to realize who (or what) was adding cheeez to my grocery list. I substituted “cheeez” for poison though, killing enough so that if their relatives ever become robo-rats, they’re not going to save me, but claw out my eyes. …I’m scared by this scientific revelation.

    1. I’m sure there is a commemoration ceremony each year in the rat world, so yes — I would watch my back. Maybe leave some cheese out as a peace offering?

  2. Hmm.

    You know they say you can kill a many with plain ole rat poison.

    I tend to be non specific on what the term many is.

    I do own swamp land. It has been more valuable real estate to me than any other land I own.

    Just sayn. 😉

  3. As a recovering scientist, that Star Wars crack was uncalled for (I didn’t say it wasn’t accurate).

    As a friend, please ignore the men in the windowless black van out front and give some thought to only entering and exiting your house via the neighbour’s back yard.

    PS It would kill you to buy something a bit better than spray cheese?

    1. First, thanks for the heads-up on the black van. They offered me candy.

      And as for the Cheese Whiz, my methods have purpose; it’s a lot easier to leave a trail leading to my neighbors’ back door with spray cheese then it is with cubes. So THERE, Mr. Smarty Scientist…

  4. “They say “fences make good neighbors.I don’t think it hurts to add cheese.”

    Gosh, I dunno, Ned. Minnesota shares a state line with Wisconsin, the land of cheese. We got a serious problem with refugees trying to escape from behind The Cheddar Curtain.

    Well, truth be told, we’re kinda jealous of them too. It’s the only place nearby where we can purchase beer on Sunday.

      1. Beer and cheese is the best – but not to anyone behind you.

        I am here in Minnesota because my feet are fronzen to the ground. I alway promise myself that I will leave with the thaw – but that is mud-season and no one goes anywhere then.

  5. I understand how they would catch a husband to implant the electrode – Super Sunday is approaching. But with rats I bet all the good jobs would go to those over-educated, pampered lab rats. Your wharf rats wouldn’t stand a chance at bettering themselves.

    1. My guess is that the wharf rats will end up doing all the heavy lifting, while the lab rats will keep them on schedule; kind of like husbands and wives… 😉

  6. Dear Ned,

    Listen and learn, young Jedi of the Cheese. The answer to your problem is simple. Black racers, the most precious and functional garden accessories known to man. I know, because I employ them to good use in my own yard, which would otherwise be overrun with fruit rats from the neighboring orange groves. Black racers are quiet, leave no messy piles of poop around like my back-up rat team (two stupid dachshunds), and have an insatiable appetite for ratkind. They are also beautiful, if you like scaly things with no legs. (Luckily, I do.) They make no noise at all, unless you count my neighbor’s screams when she sees one taking a shortcut through her pool area, and they don’t violate any zoning laws. Yep, black racers. Try ’em. You’ll like ’em. The money you’ll save on CheezWhiz alone will make it worth the totally affordable rental fee. Act now, and get TWO for the incredibly low price of $19.99, plus shipping and handling.

    Ma Nature, President
    Ma Nature’s Famous Rent-A-Reptile (Franchises Available Nationwide)

      1. Tsk. Some people just don’t get it. Thinking, here…what would I have done had my husband asked me to make such a choice? Hmmm. Him or the snakes? (Louder) Hmmm. (Louder, still) Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Still thinking, here. Don’t rush me…………………

  7. Oh now I truly have read it all. Que en el mundo??? I’m with you: if I’m trapped anywhere I do not want a rat anywhere near me. Or any other animal being controlled remotely by some weirdo thank you. Hey I know. Put down the toy rat and come help me. How would that be? Sigh.

  8. For a more humane approach, perhaps remote controlled cheese. Also it would prevent you getting busted for throwing cheese into the neighbors yard. Oh well you already copped to that Ned. You screwed the whole thing up nevermind. 😦

      1. Ned it is ok. But if we ever go on a heist, I get to do all the planning. I think there might be to much integrity within you, in spite of all my efforts to school you in the art of deceit.

  9. Roborat, Stepford Rat, Geraldo Rivera…I don’t think I would welcome anyone of those should I ever be trapped underneath rubble.
    It’s nice to know you’re so concerned with your neighbors’ diet though.

      1. There’s a Dutch saying (which I’m not sure is commonly used in English) which says: A good neighbor is worth more than a distant friend.
        I’m glad to call you a distant friend;)

No one is watching, I swear...

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