A revealing look into a future clouded by double vision

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Dispatches, June 1997

Science: If You Can't Beat 'Em,
De-Clone 'Em

A revealing look into a future clouded by double vision
By Bruce McCall

For The Record

Just Smush It
"There's too many people making rules for Europe," asserts Dutch clog maker Eelke Scheregon. "In less than four years, clogs will die out for the working people." Admittedly, Scheregon's cause is unlikely to spark massive civil unrest, but his defensiveness isn't hard to understand. It seems the European Union is demanding that wooden clogs, still worn by nearly 800,000 Dutch farmers and gardeners, must now meet the same safety standards as steel-toed work boots — or they'll be forced by law to go the way of the leather football helmet. What's an enterprising Hollander with a backlog of poplar footwear to do? Beat hell out of his wares to prove their mettle, of course. This month, after weeks of dunking the shoes in all manner of fluids, hammering nails into them, and attempting to crush them with 500-pound weights, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research will release the results of its tests, hoping to gain EU approval for the continued use of clogs. Scheregon thinks they have a convincing case. "When the cow is standing on the foot, you know, I think it's OK," he explains. "Maybe the clog breaks, but the foot is fine. The toes are still there."

The (Dirty Little) Secret of My Success
Going into Australia's classic Bells Beach surf contest late last March, the boys from Down Under were in a slump like never before. American surfers, and in particular five-time world champion Kelly Slater, had been dominating the early season, continuing a roll that saw the well-disciplined Yanks take ten of 12 ASP tour events last year. "It was starting to get embarrassing," says Matt Hoy, one of the tour's most unrepentant carousers, who at number seven was the highest-ranked Aussie in '96. "People were starting to say maybe we should stop partying so much and get serious like the Americans." Provided a spark when Californian Taylor Knox bounced a decidedly blas‰ Slater in the fourth round, the Australians jumped on the opportunity. To the delight of 10,000 revved-up countrymen in attendance, the 26-year-old Hoy and 31-year-old Damien Hardman sizzled in the heavy, eight- to ten-foot surf, advancing to the first all-Aussie final in four years. Hoy outpointed Hardman to take the crown, but now seems reluctant to give up the good life for a shot at Slater's title. "I guess I've shot myself in the foot," he confides. "Now everybody expects me to do well."

— Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta
(with Barry Lewis)

It started way back in the late twentieth century, when Darlene-Marlene Bledsoe built a former White House basement copying shop into the powerhouse Office of Duplication. Then President Bono appointed her the nation's first Clone Czarina. But now, with reports just in on the world's first de-cloning — of an ill-advised frog/sheep hybrid by researchers in the Canary Islands — it's time to ask key questions. Granted a brief interview with Bledsoe, we got right to the point.

Ms. Bledsoe, human cloning evoked myriad ethical dilemmas never before faced in human history. Now we have de-cloning. How will this affect American society?

I'll be [deleted] if I know. You must be looking for Darlene-Marlene. I'm Marlene-Darlene, her clone. Yoo-hoo, Darlene-Marlene, visitors! Care for a Certs? Two mints in one. Here's Darlene-Marlene now. Oh [deleted], I'm missing Dead Ringers on TV.

Ms. Bledsoe, human cloning evoked...

Nothing de-cloning can't rectify! For instance, the first mandatory de-cloning order I'm signing is for the McInerney Quadruplets — the Siamese twins who cloned themselves and then made a killing doing Doublemint ads. The Clone Control Act of 2020 forbids commercial gain from human cloning.

But won't de-cloning bring up equally ticklish moral and legal tangles?

Could be. But I also see it helping repair the damage that occurred before Congress passed the emergency "One's Enough" list. Good-bye to second Howard Sterns, Newt Gingriches, Jerry Lewises.

Looking back, society made many mistakes in dealing with human cloning. Which in your opinion had the most far-reaching consequences?

Unquestionably, allowing President Clinton to clone himself. He then runs for two more terms as another person by only the most tenuous and debatable legal definition — and as a Republican, no less.

That seems so long ago. Didn't his wife sue?

She couldn't get permission to be cloned along with Bill. So of course his clone was legally single. It was Bill she sued. Said he'd rigged the whole thing.

Naturally, our readers would like to know how de-cloning will affect their interests.

Interestingly! For example, we're restocking the plains with herds of cloned buffalo. If poaching becomes a problem, presto, we round up the herd and de-clone it. Once the problem blows over, presto again — we clone 'em right back. Or suppose you're backpacking through Nepal with a blowhard who happens to be a clone. Getting on everybody's nerves. Slip a de-cloning lozenge into his trail mix and poof! Happy Valley! Or say you're racing a clone to the summit of K2 on a million-dollar bet and you both pause for a breather. You offer him a slug from your canteen and ... you get the idea.

Like every minority, clones have encountered hostility. How would you size up the pros and cons of being a clone?

Well, that talk about clones being only followers — xeroxed people — is rank bigotry. One clone who was a New York cop even arrested his original for jaywalking when they were out for a stroll. Doesn't sound like some spineless pushover to me! Of course you still see those vicious bumper stickers, like "Honk If Your Dad's An Eyedropper." But it's not all bad news. Cloning is transforming American society for the better.

You mean, because only the rich can afford to clone themselves, the upper class has doubled in size?

Exactly! Millions of new jobs, in everything from alligator-breeding for the handbag industry to door-to-door helipad sales. Plus, the Tyson-Tyson fight pumped millions into the Twin Cities.

But there have been bungles, botches, tragedies ...

Sensationalist media exploitation, 99 times out of a hundred! Yes, the Ross Perot clone went famously, horribly awry, a giant turkey with huge ears that keeps running for mayor of Lubbock. Brrr! But those Elvis rumors — give rationality a break. Elvis was so fat they couldn't have found his DNA. Absolutely unclonable.

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