I am pleased to report that we finally have a scientific explanation for why everybody in the world is gaining weight. At least I am, and I know it's not my fault. Granted, I do not have the best dietary habits. Sometimes in a restaurant I will order fried, fatty foods ("Give me a plate of fried, fatty foods, and hurry" are my exact words). But I compensate for this by engaging in a strict exercise regimen of vigorously pounding the bottom of the ketchup bottle for as long as necessary. "No pain, no gain," that is my motto regarding ketchup.

Nevertheless, I have been gaining weight, and you probably have, too, which is why you're going to be happy to learn that neither of us is responsible. The universe is responsible. We know this thanks to a scientific insight that was had by alert 14-year-old Massachusetts reader Tim Wing. Tim reports that he was browsing through "The Usborne Book of Facts and Lists" when he came across the following fact: Every single day, including federal holidays, 25 TONS of space dust lands on the Earth. This means that every day, the Earth weighs 25 tons more, which means that it contains a larger quantity of gravity, which as you know is the force made up of invisible rays that cause all physical objects in the universe to become more attracted to bathroom scales.What this means, Tim Wing points out, is that "without gaining an ounce, people all over the world are getting heavier."

And there is more bad news: At the same time that gravity is increasing, the entire universe is expanding, except for pants. Pants are staying the same size, which means that - and this has been confirmed by extensive scientific tests conducted in my closet - a so-called "33-inch-waist" pant will barely contain a volume that formerly fit easily into a 31-inch-waist pant. Albert Einstein accurately predicted this phenomenon in 1923 when he formulated his Theory of Pants Relativity, which also states, as a corollary, that as the universe grows older, "It will get harder and harder to find anything good on the radio."

But our big problem is this gravity buildup, which has already started to pose a grave threat to public safety. I refer here to an incident that occurred recently in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where, according to a Sept. 16Miami Herald story that I am not making up, "A loggerhead turtle fell from the sky and hit a man in his white Chevy Nova."

(Scene: The hospital emergency room.)

DOCTOR: Where was the victim hit?

NURSE: In his Chevy Nova.

DOCTOR: OK, let's do a CAT scan, and I want his oil changed immediately.

Seriously, the man was unhurt, and so was the turtle, which, according to The Herald story apparently was dropped by a sea gull. But that is exactly my point: Since when do sea gulls - one of the most sure-handed species of bird - drop turtles? The obvious answer is: SINCE TURTLES STARTED GETTING HEAVIER, along with everything else.

And as space dust continues to land on Earth, the situation will only worsen, with chilling results. According to my calculations, at the current rate of gravity buildup, by the year 2038, an ordinary golf ball will weigh the equivalent, in today's pounds, of Rush Limbaugh. Even a professional golfer, using graphite clubs, would need dozens of strokes to make such a ball move a single foot. An average round of golf would take four months - nearly TWICE as long as today.

Is that the kind of world we want our children to grow up and develop gum disease in? I think not. This is why we must call upon the scientific community to stop puttering around with global warming and immediately develop a solution to the gravity problem.

(30-second pause)

Well, we see that the scientific community has once again let the human race down, leaving it up to us civilians to deal with the situation. Fortunately, I have come up with a practical answer in the form of a:


Follow my reasoning: The problem is that 25 tons of stuff is landing on the Earth every day, right? So the obvious solution is to put 25 tons worth of stuff into a rocket every day and blast it into space. It couldn't be simpler!

Perhaps you're saying: "But, Dave, how are we going to find 25 tons worth of stuff every single day that is so totally useless that we can just send it into space with total confidence that it could never possibly in any way benefit humanity?"

I can answer that question in three simple words: "Fourth Class-Mail." Every day AT LEAST 25 tons of material is painstakingly mailed all over the United States and thrown away immediately upon receipt. Solid-waste experts estimate that 78 percent of our nation's landfill capacity is currently occupied by sincere unopened letters from Ed McMahon informing people that they have almost definitely won $14 million. Why not just load this material directly into rockets? And consider this: If we send up MORE than 25 tons a day, the Earth would actually LOSE gravity. I calculate that every human being on the planet would instantly be six ounces lighter if we also sent Ed up there, not that I am necessarily proposing this.

So I say let's fire up the rockets and get this program going before gravity gets so strong that all we can do is lie on the ground, helpless, while turtles rain down upon us. If you agree, write to your senators and congresspersons today and let them know where you stand. Stress the urgency of the situation. Stress their responsibility as public officials. Above all, stress that there's room in the rocket with Ed.