Hamsters Can Now Help Halt Identity Theft

By: Dr Andrew Impey


The invention of a hamster-powered paper shredder seems a pretty harmless attempt to harness a bit of pet power to do our daily chores. On the contrary, says Neal Anthwal, we're staring into the abyss with this one.

According to Channel 4, when gaging opinion on David Blain starving himself in a box back in 2003, there are two ways to react to something: you can be angered or you can be amazed. All the other subtleties of human reactions are mere aspects of these two great emotions.

I find myself wondering whether I'm angered or amazed by a hamster-powered paper shredder, the invention of the improbably named Tom Ballhatchet at the Central St. Martins College of Art and Design.

Hmmm, angered or amazed? I think, on balance, I'm angered.

It certainly is a fine piece of design, you feed your unwanted documents into a slot at the top, Hammy runs around on his wheel, driving the mechanism to deposit the shredded paper directly into the cage. Shredded paper is the bedding of choice for any discerning domestic hamster, and why shouldn't they make their own beds? Plus, it's important that we destroy all bank statements, otherwise we might read them and get depressed by the debt we're in. So why am I not amazed?

Energy, it's all down to the energy efficiency. To run one of these on the scale needed to destroy all the angry red letters that the bank and utilities companies send me, I'd need a small team of hamsters, each of which would need food. The energy from this food will mostly be used by the hamsters' metabolism, most being wasted as heat, growth and non-paper shredding related movements.

Don't forget, even the Conservative party are telling us that we all need to do our part in not wasting energy these days. Hamster (or indeed any animal) powered anythings would be wholly energy inefficient, since the energy needed to produce the hamster's food would be much greater than the energy put in to the task at hand by said hamster.

Next, the hamsters would start breeding with each other. The rising population of hamsters would demand more and more paper for bedding and food for metabolism. Once I'd shredded every scrap of paper in the office, I'd have to go and buy more paper to shred, thereby wasting yet more energy. An abundance of bedding would result in an ever-increasing hamster population, which would demand an ever-increasing supply of food and paper.

The situation will spiral out of control until there are more and more hamsters demanding more and more paper and food, forcing the human race in to servitude: constantly feeding the hamsters, building hamster-powered paper shredders, shredding all the libraries of the world and felling the rainforests in order to meet the need for paper, until there is no more wood to make paper.

The increased greenhouse gases produced by this inefficient mode of document shredding will cause the global temperature to rise, the polar icecaps to melt and the world's crops to fail. On and on this circle of despair will turn, until all that's left are hamsters, hamsters and yet more hamsters, rotting on their mountains of shredded paper, beneath a sky chocked with greenhouse gases, the last of the humans wondering why they didn't just go down to Argos and spend 7.99 on a 5 Sheet Strip Cut Paper Shredder and have done with it.

That is why I'm angered by this invention.

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Andy worked for four years studying ducks (no stop laughing, he really did). He went into his PhD thinking he was going to save the world (albeit from ducks) and now spends him time lovingly preening strange but true and other aspects of null-hypothesis

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