Expanded from the 5-1-2005 Daily
Sparks (Nev.) Tribune.
Given the censorship of last week's column, I cannot guarantee that the following will see ink in Virginia City. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: This column was published in the 5-6-2005 Comstock Chronicle.
Curator's note, August 27, 2289: The following text was found on an ancient pre-electrobiocom chip found frozen
with some animal tissue samples at what was once an experimental agricultural station.
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS, 2056
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for braving such a blizzardy cold August night to take part in this historic event. My name is Brasilio Conforte and I am both honored and saddened to deliver the last-ever valedictory address of the University of Northern California-Nevada-Utah.
Tonight, we consign to history the proud achievements of our predecessor institutions and their several million students. A valedictorian is supposed to be forward-looking, but tonight of all nights, we must retrace the journey that led to this, the day our university dies.
I can speak freely for the first time in my five years here because not only do I hold a diplomatic passport, I am also going home to Rio tomorrow, so there's nothing that the censors can do to me. There's a gentleman in the back of the room from the Ministry of Free Speech through whom I cleared my prepared remarks. Mr. Butx, in case you haven't noticed, I am departing from the printed text.
Many of the 47 people in this underground room were not born when the big changes came and much of the history has been suppressed. I will agree with one thing I know you have been taught: greed corrodes.
Those who wanted to destroy the former United States of America exploited the country's greatest weakness, the desire among its people for a four-letter word: more. Because of the economic squeeze brought on by perpetual war spending and job exporting, the national lottery was one of the few vices still permitted.
In 2029, with the grand prize approaching $100 million, the drawing became a feeding frenzy. Chronic fuel and electricity shortages forced the U.S. Treasury to outsource ticket production to countries in the southern hemisphere which still had sunshine and thus solar power.
Terrorists struck at that weakness, coating lottery tickets with a genetically engineered organism which spread through the populace like the fabled black plague of the dark ages.
It may be illegal for a U.S. citizen to say it, but since I'm not a citizen, I will: President Jenna Bush then made the decision which killed the country. Rather than use her emergency power, which is still great under the Christian Constitution of 2008, she deferred to the Ministry of Natural Law.
The ministers of that most powerful fourth branch of government found that while a cure for the plague was available from Botswana and other advanced countries, it could not be allowed into the United States because the medicine had been prepared using stem cells, a violation of the Supreme Natural Law of the land.
Wal-Mart, by then the sole source of all goods and services in the country, tried to market its own synthetic version of the cure, but federal troops immediately stopped them.
Riots engulfed the nation. President Bush ordered every National Guard unit to police a neighboring state, diminishing the likelihood of defection if soldiers were ordered to shoot friends or relatives. After a lot of tragic bloodshed, order was restored, but the nation's spirit and economy had suffered fatal blows.
Not long afterward, the supreme court forced repeal of all environmental laws as unconstitutional takings of private property. Global warming accelerated worldwide, with the U.S. suffering the most because this land became the most polluted.
The case had been brought by the Ministry of Natural Law which asserted that global warming was the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, God's promise to Noah to never again destroy the world by water. The ministers successfully argued that a hotter planet would bring the Lord's fire and hasten the end of days when the righteous would ascend.
Opponents noted that global warming caused polar icecaps to melt, thus destroying much of the world by water anyway. That argument was lost on the judges.
So North America and much of the northern hemisphere have become thinly populated, largely uninhabitable wastelands with weather swinging between vicious extremes.
The world's population has followed the warmth and clearer skies to the south. Antarctica is rapidly becoming tropical as it was eons ago. Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Australia are today the world's economic powers.
Forecasters project that their leadership in cleaning up the planet may result in the repopulation of the north within 300 years. Those of you who want to emigrate to Brazil, you will find Conforte University in Sao Paolo more than willing to help. As you know, my family has historical roots in Nevada.
So I leave you with best wishes for good luck, godspeed, and as that old Nevada saying advises: Be well. Raise hell.
Bad character references
Shoes of the Fisherman
37 cents to God
The finger of God
The column banned in pristine Virginia City and righteous Storey County
Softshoes of the Fisherman
Copyright © 2002, 2005 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan who attended Catholic institutions through high school. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.
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