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Genetic engineering. A new science that promises to make old dreams become reality. Forget alchemy! We're talking about the ancient dream of Lamarckian evolution.

You probably realize what this is and what it could mean for the future of humanity. But in case you're stuck in some cultural backwater school that teaches Darwinism, we'll explain. Back in the 1700s, pioneering smart guy Jean-Baptiste Lamarck gave voice to a radical but striking theory: that organisms could spontaneously evolve and adapt to changes in their environment.

For a time, complacent scientists assumed that this phenomenon occurred on its own, without intervention from anyone but God. After all, clay had spontaneously evolved into a human male, had it not? And -- in an astonishing tour-de-force of convergent evolution -- the male's rib had regenerated to form the first human female. Lucky thing, too, since otherwise man's reign on Earth would have been short! Who knew what other miracles could occur?

For example, look at topsoil. In other words, old dead stuff. Or try peat and coal. Flat old dead stuff. Given that the first life spontaneously generated itself on approximately the fourth day of creation (give or take a few hundred million years), and given that plants need dead stuff in which to grow, early scientists came to the amazing conclusion that dead matter as well as live matter is self-generating.

Think about it. Where did all those zombies come from in Night of the Living Dead? There sure weren't that many corpses lying around in morgues, and the few that were were probably naked. But did you see a single naked zombie? No! It was easy to conclude that even the dead spontaneously evolve to fit their environment.

But scientists were doomed to disappointment. No matter how many giraffes they placed in front of very tall trees, the giraffes refused to grow extra vertebrae in their necks to reach the leaves. Instead, the giraffes starved to death, exposing themselves as the inferior species they were.

But industrial-age optimism refused to banish the old dream. To demonstrate their commitment to spontaneous evolution, nineteenth-century bourgeois women pretended en masse to have evolved large, bell-shaped legs which had to be covered by floor-length skirts. Nudity was out of the question, lest stout-hearted husbands and pillars of society run screaming into the night. Luckily, some few men saw through the ruse -- otherwise the upper classes would have become extinct from lack of copulation.

General malaise was growing, as the suspicion dawned that spontaneous evolution might not be real after all. During the Great War, British commanders were reduced to trumpeting their tommies' ability to grow trunklike masks to survive gas attacks. But these claims did not raise morale sufficiently to make human-wave attacks impermeable to Maxim fire.

In fact, dead people were spontaneously generating all over the place. To control the situation, the dead were refused citizenship by all nations and quarantined in No Man's Land. Ironically, containment of this problem lowered morale further, as people were denied evidence of Lamarckian evolution that might have given them hope.

During the twenties, attempts to proved the validity of Lamarck's ideas were based mainly on finance. More precisely, on the stock market. For a while, money appeared to be the endlessly self-generating motherlode that children of all ages had searched for. Lay a few bucks on hog belly futures, and watch those hog bellies geometrically reproduce! Sadly, evil spirits jumped the gun on Halloween and burst the bubble in 1929.

Malaise grew into worldwide depression, as people grew too depressed to go to work. Entire currencies went to bed and refused to get up again. Production plummeted. The state of Oklahoma would have collapsed into anarchy, but the usual roving bands of cutthroats were too apathetic to rove.

Something had to be done. And, for a time, it seemed that science had the answer. Captains of industry made a bold attempt to revive the world with one word: robots!

For a brief, magical time, it seemed as though robots could solve any problem. Two plus two? Given ten minutes and a few thousand vacuum tubes, this formerly intractable problem could be solved. Assembly-line laborers too depressed to show up for work? Get a robot to affix each Coke-bottle cap with unvarying care. Your small, tiresome boy needs a guardian to protect and accompany him through space travel? Robbie's the name, danger's the game.

But the limitations of robots soon became apparent. No matter how carefully crafted, a robot could only handle problems its creator had anticipated. Early robots were completely incapable, for example, of dealing with the Epimenides Paradox. A statement neither true nor false? Its mere mention caused any machine to sputter and smoke. Even simple staircases defeated mechanical cunning, since -- as any What Jail Is Like listener knows -- robots don't have knees. This flew in the face of conventional Lamarckian wisdom, which insisted on unlimited adaptability.

As the facts dawned, people reacted in various ways. Some of the odder reactions included cults centered on radical reinterpretations of Greek mythology. Their central tenet was that all ancient Greeks were robots.

This went a long way toward explaining the Greek idea of the afterlife -- basically, being trapped in a gloomy underground place. These cults hypothesized that the ancient Greeks were still around, stuck in a basement they couldn't get out of.

These cults believed that the Little Robot Boy had once been Orpheus, who descended bravely into the basement of Hades to retrieve his True Love. Orpheus impressed the Master of the Underworld with his built-in Virtual DJ SamplerMatic software, and obtained permission to save his beloved.

Sadly, Orpheus looked back before he was safely out of the cellar -- causing his loved one to drop her jet pack and bounce back down the stairs. The Robot Boy was so grieved that he lost his memory and began to wander the Earth, seeking friendship from human children threatened by fire-breathing reptiles. Little does he know -- his beloved awaits!

To get back on track: robots provided too limited a palette with which to render the eighteenth-century fantasies America so needed. It required no less a figure than Albert Einstein to fill the void.

In 1939, Al penned an historic missive to President Roosevelt. Apart from encouraging the administration to go soft on communism, Mr. Single-stein proposed that atoms could be used as weapons when split. Before you know it, some sand and foreign civilians were being showered with shiny new atoms.

Finally! The building blocks of matter itself were reproducing! Spontaneous generation at the most basic material level was a reality.

But, before you know it, the miraculous had become routine. Workaday. Uncool, even. Within a few years Uncle Joe filched the bomb -- and you know how cool uncles are. Once a trend works its way down to that level, its only hope is to hibernate until a hot chick finds it and declares it "Retro". And so far the only demographic with Bomb Nostalgia is the CIA -- not exactly a hatchery for hot chicks.

Needless to say, the initial promise of nuclear fission to kick-start evolution never materialized. All that happened was that lizards and bugs grew to enormous size, coming to resemble guys in rubber suits.

For a while these critters were marketed as city-finders. Country folk seeking urban factory jobs no longer had to embarrass themselves by asking for a map. All they had to do was look for the nearest giant reptile, and follow it on its course to obliterate the city.

However, digital satellite technology made these radioactive white elephants obsolete, while cutting down dramatically on overhead. No longer would urban planners have to rebuild flattened factories to provide jobs to those country folk. Instead, they'd just abandon the ruins, flee to the suburbs, and telecommute. Ah, the Information Age...

Desperate to recapture the wave, scientists ran headlong into nuclear fusion. But this blast of radiation had the stink of "premature emission" all over it. Though slick and flashy, fusion bombs are even less cool than fission, since they involve the melding of atoms rather than their production.

This flies in the face of the dominant cultural paradigm, which is of course Lamarckian. Spontaneous generation -- of goods and services! Instantaneous adaptation -- of the world to our consumer needs! Dig up more oil, dammit -- my SUV can't survive on two-fifty a gallon!

Sure, some cultural wags natter on about "morality" and "fidelity". They tout the union of hydrogen atoms to make stable helium as exemplary, as the kind of thing that everyone did in the old days -- before our future component elements were blown out of a supernova, and accreted into dust clouds, which drew tighter as they rotated, and formed the sun and Earth and everything we know. That is -- before we grew weak and soft and stopped bringing our kids up right. To most of us, though, these helium worshipers just talk funny.

Disillusioned with noble gases, the youth of the Sixties searched for alternatives. Their experiments with sex were laudable, but the employment of birth control somewhat missed the point of evolution.

More noteworthy were the experiments with wars and drugs, since these forces had real potential to induce change. Sadly, all the experimenters got for their trouble was a propensity for flashbacks. Old friends shied away from the endless reminisces about firefights, and the stories about that one time Gary thought his Chevy Charger was a chicken and tried to chop its head off.

Thus disillusioned with disillusionment, America settled in for the long haul with celebrity and commerce.

Computers†? Hah. The Internet? Humbug. Electronic marketing brochures, or email messages in all-caps, are unlikely to change anything. But it's hard to face facts -- to admit that such a huge investment is just the equivalent of greyhounds running endlessly after the mechanical rabbit of ever-changing "industry standards". Year-long implementation of a new system that's obsolete in six months does not make a corporation "rad", as the infogeeks like to say. Instead, everyone gets grouchy. They shift the blame to their kids, who somehow haven't become concert pianists by age four. Shame upon this family!

And don't get us started on cell phones.

Thankfully, after all these false starts and red herrings, humanity at last arrived at the Holy Grail of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Welcome to the sexy world of corporate biotechnology.

So. Biotech firms. Amoral giants with the media and politicians tucked securely in their pockets? Absolutely. Yet so much more! These gigantic bean-counters also have the best interests of mankind at heart. How could it be otherwise, when every single bean is lovingly shipped to a boy named Jack -- just so he can make his fantasy come true, and visit those giants in the clouds!

Following are just a couple of the ideas that biotech firms have cooked up to meet your spontaneous-evolution needs. We're not talking X-Men here. We're light-years beyond that, in terms of convenience and affordability. You might think it's cool to suck out people's souls just by touching them, but after five minutes you'll realize that staff meetings provide the same function at a fraction of the cost.

So, without further ado...

  • Wish you had a guardian angel, but wonder if the lack thereof means the Devil has you in his clutches? Tired of faiths with results that are less than guaranteed -- and that are open to differing cultural interpretations? Well, wonder no more!

    Buy the new My Li'l Guardian starter kit from Archer Daniels Midland Co., and your investment of faith will pay off in spades. Unlike many religious systems that milk you for ongoing support and make you jump through hoops to attain worthiness, this product gives you instant results.

    Just add contents of kit to your very own children, and watch them transform! Before your eyes they will sprout wings, robes and haloes. Tired of the whining for big pants and midriff-baring tops? For Nintendo 1024s and Barbie Self-Actualizing Makeover Kits? Be amazed as your kids stop being paycheck-sucking layabouts and start earning their keep with supernatural miracles!

    Worried that your tax preparer or mechanic is overcharging you? Your new guardian angel eliminates bogus "labor" charges, and makes sure you get every penny you deserve. In fact, your angel can petition the government to have your family declared as a religious establishment -- thereby making you tax-exempt for all eternity.

    Do you suspect your coworkers are stabbing you in the back, telling the manager you're the one who turned the Curly Fries into Kinky Fries, and cheating you out of that ten-cent raise? Your angel will make sure these gossip-mongers spend eternity in the Lake of Recycled Grease.

    Frustrated that all the bad people in soaps don't get their comeuppance? Your angel can change the script to make the baddies die painful deaths, and have Corey and Bailey get married and live happily ever after in Monaco and have loads of kids. Plus, you can make sure that Corey and Bailey are members of the opposite sex, as God intended.

    Why use children as guardian angels, you ask? For many reasons. First: cherubs are even cuter in real life than in paintings. Second: you won't have to fork out the dinero for expensive liberal-arts "educations" that only teach your child to feel sophisticated resentment for you and provide zero vocational training. Third: transformation into angels will ensure that your child never engages in sexual intercourse‡ -- an overriding concern for any parent.

    Fourth and finally -- why allow your children to live in useless fantasy worlds, building forts and fighting monsters, when they could build churches and fight Satan? The choice is clear.

  • At the turn of the century, cigarette makers were nearly moribund. Exhausted and short of breath from fighting hordes of health Nazis, the tobacco industry was reduced to rolling over every time a lawsuit reared its head. A cherished American tradition was on the verge of going under.

    At the last moment, the brainiacs at Phillip Morris reversed the tide. True, they frittered away the eighties by using firefly genes to make glow-in-the-dark tobacco. As well as being useless, the concept was obviously wrought by stoners. Thankfully P-M got its act together, and now deals harshly with illicit drug use.

    The breakthrough came when, late one night, the scientists' mascot, a little terrier named Checkers, accidentally fell into a vat of tobacco DNA. Unaware of the addition to their batch, scientists tried out the altered tobacco on their experimental chimpanzees. And the rest became history, taught with reverence to every American schoolchild.

    In the melding of terrier and tobacco genes, Phillip Morris had a satisfying, low-tar smoke that was also man's best friend. When tested in regions of Tennessee, the locals found their cigs could track foxes and coons better than actual hounds could.

    And the benefits weren't limited to those in rural hunter/gatherer clans. Suburban males were amazed to find their morning smoke had brought the paper and slippers. In fact, these enhanced cigarettes could entertain their masters for hours, fetching ashes the master flicked, bringing them back to be flicked again.

    Smokers developed deep relationships with their packs. Many cigarette owners bid tearful farewell in elaborate ceremonies, burying used butts beneath expensive headstones. (Indeed, the undertaking establishment prospered unexpectedly from the tobacco industry's ingenuity).

    As with any revolutionary development, though, there were kinks to work out. For example, early versions of these cigarettes had to be let outside periodically to relieve themselves. This inconvenienced the consumer -- and burdened the manufacturer. For soon, the owner's lawn would be filled with little clumps of tobacco. Apart from being unsightly, they undercut the manufacturer's source of revenue -- since the tobacco could be harvested to make new cigarettes. Scientists had to make the tobacco "dump-free" to have a viable product.

    In addition, early cigarettes had a distressing tendency to sniff crotches. This embarrassed the smokers and their loved ones, although many women claimed to find it cute. In fact, it was much cuter than when the smokers themselves did it. This created needless tension between cigarette and smoker, and again manufacturers had to eliminate this disposition from their product.

    All in all it's been a hard road. At times our freedom was in peril, and the end uncertain. But now I think we all agree it's a good thing that nonsmoking is a thing of the past.

In conclusion: the benefits of genetic engineering far outweigh the drawbacks.

True -- if used carelessly, it can propogate embedded cultural prejudices. For instance, it's widely believed that women enjoy "making house". To this end, some well-meaning dolt might manufacture BioDecor, which telepathically senses a woman's desires and arranges itself accordingly. (Feng shui optional).

This would make it hard on husbands. Everyone knows that women resent their men for not being sufficiently "in love" to anticipate women's needs and respond appropriately. But up to now there's been no alternative to men and their shortcomings.

If home furnishings were suddenly able to read minds, the results would be catastrophic. Women might wed their daises and credenzas, assured that these humble objects would meet their every need. Men would be forced to hit the streets and make do with milk crates.

If used correctly, however, genetic engineering has staggering potential. After all, women love a man who can make them laugh. Imagine how much they'd love a phallus that could make them laugh! Thank you for your attention.

 To be fair, computers aren't a completely malignant phenomenon. For example: they benefit krill fishermen enormously.

In the old days, fishermen had to be courageous, stoic, willing to face anything. They had to be, for the job could destroy the hardest of men.

Krill are tiny squid that travel in vast schools. The task of tallying each day's catch often required months of labor. With the salt spray in their eyes, and waves threatening to upset the ink and parchment upon which the precious inventory was tallied, many a ship's accountant was reduced to a blubbering wreck.

Enter silicon. Before you could say "von Neumann de Goiman", unfeeling machines had assumed the task of krill-counting. The danger was past. As an added benefit, multinational corporations eager to spread tentacles throughout the economy could now know exactly how many tentacles there were to be spread. In other words -- without computers, Rupert Murdoch would not exist as we know him.

 Genetic engineering is obviously poised to make sex obsolete, since all you need is a cell, a dish and some fluid. This takes up much less space than your average "bachelor pad" or "marriage bed". And with the level of skill scientists now have, all your faults can be removed at the genetic level, and your child will inherit only your talents. You'll look on proudly as a new generation carries on the family tradition of belching the alphabet.

Children can now be perfect in more ways than one. Since original sin, like AIDs, is transmitted by sex, children can now be created sin-free. This confers enormous advantages when it comes to the bedtime prayer, since children can now negotiate with God from a position of strength. Grandma's dialysis will now go just great, every time!

Even with these facts before them, many degenerates will still attempt to engage in fornication. So genetic engineers have created strong disincentives.

Taking their cue from the movie Jaws, scientists have created killer sharks made entirely of latex. Introduced to the oceans, these creatures rapidly supplanted the old obsolete shark models.

These deadly animals are now the world's only source of latex -- so manufacture of condoms has become prohibitively dangerous and expensive. Only on the black market does one still find condoms, usually made from powdered rhinoceros horn or mummified tiger penis. No longer in our nation's schools can one find dispensers of any product that's "ribbed for her pleasure".

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