Doctors investigating a mystery rise in virus victims discovered that hipster foodies wanting fresh eggs are keeping chickens at home -- and cuddling them. Medical authorities in the US have issued an urgent plea for owners to show less affection to chickens, warning of the "high risk" of "close contact, such as holding, snuggling, or kissing poultry". I am not making this up.
The CNN news item was forwarded to me by reader Wan Yan-ting, who said: "There has to be a joke somewhere about hen parties." The Twitter community (slogan: "Outraged About Everything") reacted angrily to the medical warning. "You can't tell me who to love," wrote Derk Pebblegate.
I mentioned this in the office and a helpful colleague forwarded me a list of Ways to Show Affection Without Touching. This included "writing little notes" and "phoning every day to say I love you". I hope this information helps Mr. Pebblegate's chickens feel cherished.
Personally, I've never found chickens attractive, and that whole irrational screeching at 4.30 a.m. thing is a total turn-off. I know human babies do the same thing, but at least they grow out of it by their mid-20s, I hope.
Anyway, what to do? People are illogical. My kids won't share a glass with dad but will kiss the dog on the lips.
I think if you are worried about disease, choose fish. They can't wander around town picking up germs, except in Pixar movies, and even if they did, your children can't pet their heads or kiss them, although mine have tried. If your kids are fish-kissers, do not buy Indian glassy fish (Parambasis ranga, found in waters around India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia) as it is small and transparent; so disaster is likely.
In some pet shops, transparent fish are injected with neon colours. Dyeing animals is hot right now. Last month in India, news media reported that people are using luminous paint to give their cattle glowing horns to stop them being run over at night. In the UK last week, a farmer said he had painted his 800 sheep glow-in-the-dark orange for security.
Soon, you won't need paint, as you can change animals' genes. This columnist did a rigorous research study ("a Google search") and discovered that in each country, scientists make different animals glow in the dark: In South Korea, it's dogs, in Japan monkeys, in Taiwan pigs, in France rabbits, in the UK sheep and in the US cats. It is clear that the $1 trillion-plus spent globally on science every year almost all goes on answering burning questions such as: "Can I make my kid's hamster luminous?" I suppose that's better than spending it on unimportant issues such as world hunger, the climate apocalypse, the coming zombie war, et al.
The articles say they could inject humans with the same fluorescent protein but you'd never be able to go to the cinema again. Apparently this is not an issue for dogs, monkeys, fish and the like, presumably because they are too cultured to waste their evenings watching blockbuster movies, preferring classical music concerts or fine dining. Whatever.
Now please excuse me while I write a billet-doux to my neighbour's chicken.