SCIENTISTS in California believe they have discovered a way to extend human life, possibly to 800 years.

They’ve managed to extend the lifespan of yeast bacteria tenfold and they say there’s no reason the method – tinkering with two genes and cutting down on calorie intake – should not be applied to humans.

“We’re setting the foundation for reprogramming healthy life,” says study leader Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.

This method would perhaps explain the wonderfully advanced ages achieved by Abraham, Sarah and other figures of the Old Testament.

The ancient Israelites must have known all about yeast bacteria, gene tinkering and controlling calorie intake.

But would it really be welcome today? Presumably the non-ageing process would be available to all. Think now of your non-favourite political figures; of current rap artists; of the current crop of boneheaded football stars and other shallow celebrities.

Now think of having to live with them for 800 years. Think of having to witness Jacob Zuma’s re-election at Mangaung 160 times. Think of having to watch Hugh Grant for eight centuries playing the English upper-class twit.

Enough! Those geneticists need to think again. Yeast bacteria might be one thing worth preserving. Rap artists are quite another.


NEVERTHELESS, it seems the scientists are about to start their human experimentation on individuals from Ecuador. Is there not something Frankensteinish about this?

And why impoverished Ecuador? Are the Americans afraid of collapsing their social benefits system by having a whole raft of octo-centenarians running about the place? Why should Ecuador pick up the tab?

Somebody must halt this craziness. Life is difficult enough without stretching it out for 800 years.

Those unfortunate Ecuadorians might even have to sit through re-emergence of the Inca empire, with its human sacrifices and reconquest by the Spanish. Why should anyone be put through all that?

Somebody stop this Longo fellow.

Marine canary

A DOLPHIN is the marine equivalent of the canary in the cage.

If the canary dies in its cage down a coal shaft, the miners are in trouble with poison gas and must get out fast.

In New York, a dolphin had somehow swum into the Gowanus Canal, which passes through an upmarket residential precinct, and wildlife experts were waiting anxiously to see if it would swim back to sea on the evening tide.

But it died, having been seen breaking surface trying to shake black gunge from its snout.

The Gowanus Canal has been named a Superfund site, which means polluters can be forced to pay for its restoration. Will the city authorities heed this canary in the cage?

And, come to think of it, when last did we see dolphins in Durban harbour?

Secret weapon?

DON’T mess with the Marines!

A bucket of cleaning solution fell from a US Marine Corps aircraft, smashing through the roof of a garage in California.

It happened near the Miramar Air Station in San Diego.

The large bucket had been strapped down inside an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, but it somehow came loose and slid out soon after take-off.

It crashed down through the roof of a car repair workshop, fortunately closed at the time. The bucket clipped one vehicle and left several others covered in the cleaning solution.

Don’t mess!

Light bulb

HOW MANY writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Ten. One to change it; nine to think they could have done it better.


THIS fellow is being interviewed for a job at the post office.

“Are you allergic to anything?”

“Yes, caffeine. I can’t drink coffee.”

“Okay, have you ever been in military service?”

“Yes, in the Congo with the UN.”

“That gives you five extra points towards employment. Are you disabled in any way?”

“Yes. I lost both testicles in a landmine incident.”

“You’re hired. Our hours are 8.30am to 4.30pm. You can start tomorrow. Come in at 10 every day.”

“But if the hours are 8.30-4.30, why don’t you want me here until 10?”

“This is a state-owned enterprise. For the first hour and a half we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching where it itches. No point in your coming in for that.”

Last word

An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh. Will Rogers