Blog o’ the Humours

In which one modern American man, semi-permeable in both mind and body, through rarefied feats of biochemical introspection (powered by an impeccably cursory knowledge of contemporary biochemistry in admixture with an equally negligible grounding in thoroughly discredited medical theories of antiquity), (a) pinpoints the one internalized substance that has bested all others to govern his thought, temperament, behavior, and overall mojo on a given day, and (b) offers random ruminations on same.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


As I was biting into a particularly mammoth prawn tonight, shell and all, my thoughts turned, as they seldom do at the dinner table, to force protection. All this time in Iraq, I thought, and before that Afghanistan, and maybe by the time you’re reading this, Iran, and we’re still hearing and reading news stories on American troops who’re waiting to be issued proper body armor—or, if their friends and relations have smashed through the ceramic armor of enough piggy banks in their behalf, to be sent some from the homefront. (Though, as of this month, the Army has banned such care packages from home1—because no body armor’s better than non-Defense-contracted body armor, apparently.) Trying once again to achieve clarity, as I savored the peculiar potato-chips-’n’-neoprene sensation that is the shell-on prawn-chewing experience, when confronted with the ever-opaque logic of a Dept of Defense that fails to budget for the basic super-cutaneous defense of its own employees, I realized that the answer to the problem was on my plate and in my mouth: chitin, body armorer to the crustacean world.

Eureka! Instead of waiting for Mom or Uncle Sam to provide armor, the troops of the 21st century could simply grow their own, just like any self-respecting prawn, crab, or crawdad. And since this scribble is being transcribed to the Internet, where every idea one could have has not only already been had, but posted, stolen, and virally re-posted elsewhere, I take comfort in the knowledge that, drawing on the wonders of genome mapping, stem cell research, advanced crustacean morphological study, and Executive Branch Scripture-fueled faith in the intimidation value of really nasty sea-beasties, top-secret plans must surely be underway for the development and deployment of that most organically force-protected of all imaginable forces: The Crustacean Army.

Beyond mere force protection, however, the emergence onto the field of battle of Homochitinus bellicosus will have a wide range of tactical and organizational ramifications, and so, for the heretofore uninitiated, this


• Universal, custom-fitted, self-regenerating body armor (obviously)
• Abbreviated natural lifespan on the negative side, balanced on the plus side by ability to multiply astronomically in short order
• Levels of bravery in the field that are the sole preserve of those possessing 3-5 nerve ganglia for a brain
• Combat nomenclature challenge: potential morale-lowering double meaning of “shelling”
• Replacement of costly USO troop-entertainment programs (singers, rappers, Playboy Playmates, stand-up comedians, etc.) with a few tubs of carrion scattered across a stage
• Replacement of complex food-and-drink supply lines with a few divisions of enemy carrion scattered across a battlefield
• Psy-Ops shock-and-awe value of thousands of serrated claws clicking in unison to seductive tango beat
• Basic-training challenge: As any experienced drill sergeant will attest, getting prawns to march in unison is a lot like herding cats, except much, much, slower
• No more “No Blood for Oil!” peacenik chants to confront, because hey, no blood!
• Ground forces in intellectual synch with drone aircraft
• And when we bring all the troops home, victorious… bouillabaisse for every American!

1 “Army Bans Privately Bought Body Armor,” The New York Times, April 1, 2006


Blogger blueheliotrope said...

I'm not sure, though, that you've solved an essential problem: MOLTING. Dunno about other crabs, but blue crabs are sad and soft and helpless for quite a while after they've lost their shells and before new ones grow in. We'd have soldiers lyin' around the battlefield like newborn babes.

However! I noticed, somewhere, a story about DARPA (which I think is dead? Or did they just get rid of Poindexter) doing some experiment with remote-controlled sharks. Whether they were to swim up to bad guys and eat them, or just spy somehow (hanging innocently off the coast? Does Pyongyang or Tehran have a coast?) was not clear.

Anyway. A fabulous post and picture. You, too, are a mammoth prawn.

4:40 PM  

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