Opinion: Descending into the internet black hole

I have learned that when I am on the computer, as long as I stick with my banking and bill-paying sites, and as long as I don’t linger too long on emails or the two or three daily news sites I visit, I am pretty safe from the curse of the Internet Black Hole. I readily admit this is a discipline I often struggle to maintain.

And speaking of black holes, I just read a report that scientists from around the world have produced photographs of a black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. They call it Sagittarius A. One scientist explained on the evening TV news that if you could go into a black hole for an hour when you emerged it would be for you like 500 years had passed. Not sure if I remember the numbers correctly, but that was the gist of his explanation. That is how I sometimes feel when I eventually shut down the computer. Where did that time go?

Recently, I lost my focus and wandered away from my true computer needs and soon found myself down the black hole facing a shocking headline: The secret laboratory project to breed man-ape ‘humanzee’ super soldiers. The actual news content in the story, about paragraph long, was that a hybrid monkey was discovered in Borneo that contains DNA from two different species that are competing for forest space. The discovery of a previously unknown hybrid happening in wild nature is interesting, but not really earthshaking. The larger story, which took up the rest of the piece, was about scientists in 1920s Stalinist Russia and in 1980s China and their experiments in the crossbreeding of humans and apes. All unsuccessful experiments, the story eventually notes.

My initial response to the headline was: Really? Somebody thought this was a good idea? Have you scientists not seen any of the “Planet of the Apes” movies? Are you not familiar with the theme of “Frankenstein” or any of the thousands of dystopian stories that warn against scientific overreach and human hubris? Yeah. Great goal, Scientists. Let’s make hybrid human-ape super soldiers. What could go wrong?

This story was in The Daily Star, a British Tabloid that finds the most astounding pieces of “news” to share with readers. I was reminded of those tabloids I used to examine while standing in grocery store checkout lanes. They were on a rack right there with the candy, salty snacks and other junk foods. I can still remember one which had a photo of space alien waving from the backseat of a limo under the headline: “Alien has meeting with Clinton.” Or Was it George Bush? Carter? I decided to check.

I continued down the endlessly winding path. Turns out, The Weekly World News reports most U.S. presidents have conferred with aliens. They have pictures of an alien standing with presidents all the way back to Eisenhower. President Clinton reportedly got into a fistfight with an alien over Hillary. He has a black eye in the picture. Photos of an alien with presidents Bush 41 and 43, as well as presidents Obama and Trump also are part of the public record. Not sure if it is the same alien.

And it’s not just presidents. “NASA confirms 8 US Senators are aliens,” declared one headline. Okay, now, I can see how that rumor got started. I was tiring of the political alien stories, and just as I started perusing the Weekly World News Bat Boy archives, I looked at my watch. Yikes. Where did the time go? It was time for me to slowly back away from the computer.


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