Absolutely Breathtaking

Welcome to The Shield‘s annual satire section.  Writers use satire to improve a problem in society. Sometimes readers misunderstand the satire as they do not recognize the hyperbole, irony, rhetorical questions, sarcasm, and understatements. Readers may mistake the satirical solution for the actual solution that the writer proposes. The ideas in these satire stories do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Shield or Westmont. If one is confused about satire, please contact a friendly neighborhood English teacher.

By Brian Lu

When taking a stroll downtown, one can be grossly interested yet utterly humbled when witnessing the stark contrast in wealth between individuals. Within a single city block, one may find themself crossing paths with a sprucely-outfitted influencer pompously sporting the latest in vibrant and oversized clothing, a middle-class workhorse donning the classic T-shirt and blue jeans combo, or even a schmuck draped in a torn sweatshirt and suspiciously-stained sweatpants. Even more disturbing is that next to the drunken beggar who fell asleep while standing, one may encounter a bloke desperately looking for yet another meal to eat—a truly sky-scraping unit worth his weight in calories, mouth agape, ingesting enough food for a third-world village. Ah, this must be the great American spirit of generosity we’re told so frequently about!

Avoiding common epithets, America is a nation whose people break banks and scales. With roughly 100 million Americans medically classified as obese and just over 6 million declared unemployed—and some unlucky enough to fall under both categories—it is quite tragic that these figures only show signs of increasing. Never fear, for after much consideration and meditation, my brilliant mind has concocted a virtually-flawless proposition to swallow America’s spiraling issue in one gulp. Now, a charlatan unlike myself would make haste to assume the quickest and easiest solution would be to kill off these individuals. However, the average human cannot even begin to comprehend the bounds of my forthcoming genius. Not only will my plan reduce the number of both obese and unemployed people in America, but also it will shrink her growing carbon footprint. How efficient!

It is not unreasonable to assume that many Americans enjoy travel—from the now-dry canals of Venice to the melting ice caps in Switzerland and down to the scorched and droughty depths of the Grand Canyon, who could turn down such a literally breathtaking vacation? With this much travel, it is also safe to assume that one would need to traverse great distances, and what better mode of transportation is better than a bicycle?  Enjoying the scenery—or at least what’s left of it—by bike allows the user to combine the speed of an automobile with the mobility of a regular human, with the added effects of an excellent workout. Sometimes, I stagger even myself with my genius. How efficient!

With this in mind, I propose that we eradicate obesity and unemployment by recruiting qualified people to power bicycle generators as a profession. Obviously, such a proposal has little appetite for ambiguity, so allow me to explain. Effective immediately, any and all obese and unemployed individuals shall find themselves legally obligated to harness electricity for our great nation using bicycle generators. To keep from any cries of inhumanity and cruelty, our newly-conscripted workforce will only have to work for 5 days a week, 9 hours a day, and 55 minutes per hour. Furthermore, some of the electricity generated will directly power a small screen on each of the bikes, on which the aforementioned landscapes will be displayed with PowerPoint®-style transitions. This way, the peace and serenity of our planet’s diverse scenery will take their breath away before any exercise does, thus avoiding any muscle fatigue caused by prolonged physical exertion. Of course, the remaining electricity will be harvested. The scope of my engineering genius knows no bounds, as such a well-oiled machine will guarantee that the obese receive their exercise, unemployed people finally contribute to society, and more Americans will use clean, organic, gluten-free energy. How efficient!

I’m sure most of us have experienced the wonders of the Tour de France at some point. These elite athletes train for months to achieve their chiseled physiques. Following this logic, if Tour de France bicyclists can remain in peak physical condition by biking for months, then surely our employees can achieve the same results. I wager that in one month’s time, everybody running our generators will lose at least 100 pounds, pray their stamina can keep up. Truthfully, I believe that sometimes, my genius, it generates gravity.

Notwithstanding any evidence of my plan’s inevitable success, I have done some light arithmetic to approximate the exact power production figures. On average, a Tour de France cyclist will generate about 300 watts of electricity per hour of cycling. If all 200 cyclists in the Tour de France take an average of 90 hours to finish the race, they could produce almost 5400 kilowatt-hours of electricity! That’s equivalent to 371 gallons of gasoline or 27,000 hours of solar-power production! Now, if we take our 100 million freshly-contracted athletes-in-the-making and divide that by the 200 competitors of the Tour de France, we can produce enough electricity to turn the Sun green with envy! Sometimes, my genius is almost frightening. How efficient!

Perhaps, then, my solution is the most logical and logistically-sound answer to the issues plaguing America’s modern-day society. Some say, that if you listen very carefully, you can almost hear my genius—or maybe I am a cycle-path. Only time wheel tell.