DEFCON One

by bj max

The United States Military operates at various levels of alert. DEFCON FIVE is the lowest and means that we are at peace. During a national crisis DEFCON FOUR would be the next step up following an orderly progression towards full alert or DEFCON ONE, meaning, in a word, World War Three.

Cats exist at DEFCON ONE and live out their whole lives on full alert. Living under this constant tension wreaks havoc with their nervous system and consequently, they are jumpy as hell.

I was reminded of this fact a few weeks back as I navigated a skinny little Tennessee blacktop in my eighteen wheeler. I was just cruising along minding my own business when I was suddenly distracted by a tomcat (you can tell) in the cow pasture off to my left. Just an ordinary house cat and, crouched as he was with his tail twirling slowly, he appeared to be stalking breakfast. Probably a field mouse. His back was to me and his concentration was such that I don’t think he knew that I, or anything else for that matter, was within a hundred miles. I had been driving for several hours and was getting’ kinda’ bored so, just for fun, I gave old Tom a quick blast from my air horn.

What happened next was the most extraordinary demonstration of athletic prowess I have ever witnessed. With blurring speed and reflexes that defy belief, the cat jumped straight up and after reaching an altitude of three feet or thereabouts, he executed a flawless reverse somersault. About midway through this fantastic maneuver and with precision and accuracy that would have made the Blue Angels turn green, he snapped off a crisp half roll then touched down in a perfect four point landing. Unbelievable

Well I just came apart at the seams and laughed till I almost wrecked. But the cat, having no sense of humor at all, sulked off into the weeds spitting feline epithets over his shoulder, thoroughly ticked at having his dignity slighted by a lowly commoner not to mention having breakfast escape in the process.

Cats are some of the most agile creatures on earth and this little fuzz ball’s athletic prowess didn’t really surprise me. What did surprise me however, was the speed with which he mentally changed gears. He didn’t have time to calculate that his best line of defense in that particular situation was a quick back flip. It just happened, reflexively and without thought. A mechanical thing, pre-programmed and automatic.

As I continued on down the road I got to thinking about that crazy cat’s antics and the speed and agility with which he reacted. His response was instantaneous and, like tripping a spring, he came unwound. It was as though my horn were wired directly to its nervous system. Now wouldn’t it be great if human beings were blessed with those same attributes? Especially two wheeled human beings.

How would they accomplish this mind-boggling task? Hey, don’t ask me, it’s not my field. But if you stop and think about it, with the rapid advances being made in integrated circuitry these days, almost anything is possible and with that in mind, it doesn’t sound like such a cockamamie idea after all.

Just imagine if you will, that the folks who manufacture computer chips could somehow map a cat’s nervous system, transpose the information onto a chip and then, by using available pacemaker technology, implant that information into a human being, the benefit’s to the military and our nations industry would be enormous. The Highways and skyways would be 100% safer overnight. Pilots, truck drivers, cabbies and the everyday commuter would suddenly have the ability to evade hazards and collisions heretofore impossible to avoid. With their super reaction times, the percentage of accidents in the US would plummet and thousands of lives would be saved.

The advantage of the, for lack of a better word, “Cat-Chip”, as far as the motorcyclist is concerned, is obvious. The first thing that springs to mind (no pun intended) is the tremendous benefit for the less skilled rider. Like me for instance. With the Cat-Chip implant, my reaction time would be cut to zero. I could pull all manner of dumb stunts and get away with ’em. I could blast through stop lights without a care, slice through rush hour traffic with contempt and sneer at those silly deer that have been taunting me from the shoulder of the road for years.

Racing might even be possible for the likes of me. With the chip why I might even qualify for the Daytona 200. Qualify? Likely as not, I would grab the pole and give Miguel DuHamel fits all day…Yeah, I can just see me now on the last lap, drafting Miguel outta’ turn four then, at the last second, with the fans going nuts, blasting by like he was tied to a tree, taking the checker flag in the upset of the century.

A few years ago a writer described how birds flit through treetops at blinding speeds without hitting anything. According to him, a bird’s metabolic rate is so fast that everything appears to be in slow motion. This particular writer daydreamed of some scientist somewhere developing a pill that would speed up a human being’s metabolism allowing man to ride motorcycles through treetops at blinding speeds. Just kidding about that. Wanted to see if you were paying attention. Anyway, this guy’s theory, really, was that such a pill would allow motorcyclist to turn bad fast laps and still maintain control. His idea makes about as much sense as the Cat-Chip, the only difference being the “Cat-Chip” would be more exciting. I mean, who would want to win motorcycle races in slow motion?

That wouldn’t be any fun. On the other hand, the “Cat-Chip” would allow you to turn the same fast lap times and still feel the thrill and sensation of speed…Yes, good people, I don’t think there’s any doubt, the Cat-Chip would be far superior to some silly pill designed to speed the metabolic rate.

Of course, as with any new product, there would be drawbacks. For instance, someone with the implant might take up mouse hunting or scratching up the furniture or join that bunch of weirdo’s that make up the crazy world of “extreme” curtain climbing. And they might even develop an affinity the litterbox and embarrass the whole family during reunion’s or Super Bowl parties. Worst of all, at the sound of a car horn an implantee might be prone to do a backflip, right off the rear of the motorcycle and land spitting and hissing, on the hood of the motorist’s behind him. Well, this just wouldn’t do so extensive testing would be necessary before the chip could be marketed to the general public.

So, I guess for now you and I will just have to exercise patience and do the best we can until this technology has been perfected. In the meantime, keep your eye out for Rookie’s that you’ve never heard of sitting on the pole at some of the big time racing events. Like the kid at the Coca-Cola 600 last month, Ryan Newman. Rumor has it that he was testing some kind of military prototype of the “Cat-Chip” processor and this can mean only one thing, a civilian version isn’t far behind…Think about it.

Happy Motoring.

M.M.M.

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