The Bunkhouse Chronicle – Meatballs


Last updated 4/11/2023 at 10:56am

What are we, mere monkeys chattering in front of the cobra’s basket, to think about the recent unveiling of a meatball made from the DNA of a woolly mammoth? If you didn’t know, an Australian “cultured meat startup” recently displayed the fruits of their demanding work at the NEMO museum in the Netherlands. The world was gifted this meatball, we were told, in order to “get people excited,” and because the designers wanted to “see if we could create something that was a symbol of a more exciting future…”


My excitement for lab-grown meat is difficult to contain. This is true because, as we are often instructed, ruminants are destroying the world and, even if they aren’t, who wouldn’t crawl naked through broken glass to eat a New York strip grown in a beaker at CalTech? It’s notable that the mammoth meatball — which was, incidentally, plated to Michelin-worthy sophistication complete with a smear of puree and covered in a glass cloche —isn’t meant to be eaten at all, only to represent, in its softball-sized solemnity… progress.

Which seems the perfect sigil to represent our modern House of Confusion. If a mammoth meatball, which took years to create and cannot be eaten, is offered up as a lifeboat for humanity, isn’t that a precise summation of our make-believe world? Perhaps not. Maybe a better example is “plant-based” hamburgers. Never mind that all hamburgers are, in fact, plant-based.

The meatball met with thunderous applause, if only because it is no longer advisable to dispute the expanding liturgy of nonsense. We probably shouldn’t say that wolves are known to devour mountain lion cubs either, mostly because it triggers garment-rending dilemmas in the wonky reasoning of others. But not saying it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

The great risk of talking back in the era of mammoth meatballs lies in cranking up the ire of the net-zero and gender-identity extremists, who go clanking about the village on stilts, demanding they be celebrated and threatening ex-communication. Speak out in defense of your traditional mores and you may find yourself suddenly enrolled in the modern equivalent of an Indian boarding school.

The meatball was brought to us by the same wing of science that believed engineering glow-in-the-dark rabbits was a good idea. This space is all for science — the build a model rocket, get a bionic hip, and cure-cancer variety — but isn’t there a point at which it starts looking creepy, when investigating the motives behind these experiments seems like an actual demand, something more than a rhetorical notion slung-about during cocktail hour?

It is alleged that there are watchdog agencies in charge of doing that, but at least one of them, under the leadership of Herr Fauci, funded an experiment in Tunisia that stuffed the heads of drugged beagles into mesh cages so that they could be eaten by sand fleas. That really happened, among other horrific experiments on his watch, so maybe an inquisitive mind can be forgiven for wondering how reliably these entities can police themselves in the important realm of bio-medical ethics.

Which leads us to AI. Some very smart people, including the historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harrari, have been warning us for years that the integration of humans with their machines is the next big leap in humanity’s quest for immortality. There are now, believe it or not, Singularity Cults where people sit around praying to their MacBook Pro, beseeching it to deliver them from evil. Which would only be surprising if human beings hadn’t already made gods out of everything from golden calves to canned vegetables.

As the great deconstruction gains steam, and modern life continues fracturing into irreconcilable absurdities, it will undoubtedly become more difficult to navigate the issues. A grown man setting a women’s weightlifting record will no longer be news, but raising an eyebrow to that sort of fraud will be to gamble against cancellation and perhaps, as now in Canada, even prosecution. If we aren’t already there. Some would argue that when Americans started arresting children for not wearing masks at the spelling bee we had officially crossed the Rubicon. If nothing else, it would seem to confirm the better aspects of the Asch Conformity Experiment, which showed that, to an alarming degree, people will bow to the majority view even when it is demonstrably wrong.

We should expect very little clarity, to say nothing of reassurance about the nation’s future, from anyone in a position of authority. That’s particularly true in an era where policy is used to circumvent the law, where a former Speaker of the House of Representatives proudly tweeted that the accused must prove their innocence, and where drag queens perform lap dances on elementary school children. The notion of moral authority, which once served as an important cultural guardrail, is now made meaningless by the refusal of our institutions to properly care for it, and by our own failure to insist they do so.

Meanwhile, back in the Netherlands, witnesses to the great mammoth meatball unboxing reported that when it was put to a blowtorch — given a dramatic browning for the cameras and the captive audience—that it smelled strangely reptilian, like alligator. To which Kurt Vonnegut, who survived the firebombing of Dresden and became, ever-after, a reliable pilot through the shoals of human folly, might lean back in his chair, fire up another Pall Mall, and say with a smile:

And so it goes.


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