Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Getting high in Denver, right with whales, wrong with bureaucrats and singing mice—UPDATED

We’ll just hang around here and wait. Hmmm. Hmm. Still hanging around. Still waiting—The two-month comment period to make Plan B, the "morning after" pill available without a prescription has expired and absolutely nothing has happened. You are shocked to hear this, no doubt. Apparently, the FDA, whose upper level is controlled by the reactionary right—or is afraid of them—is wading through 10,000 comments sent during the period, and according to a spokesperson for the agency, what they will do will depends on what’s in the comments. Actually, many of those comments were stimulated by the activities of two liberal women senators, Patty Murray of Washington and Hillary Clinton of New York. Since almost all the medical experts at FDA agree—and one of its leading adminstrators has quit in support of the experts—what the hell are they waiting for? This is the third review of Plan B. So girls, if you get pregnant (maybe, God help you, raped) and can’t get a prescription, have an abortion and send the bill (and maybe the fetus) to James Dodson at Focus on the Family. His phone is 800-223-6459.

[There is no way I can resist this: if you Google just "Dodson" the first URL on the Goggle List is a psychologist named Betty Dodson who specializes in teenage masturbation. I couldn’t possibly make this up.]

Getting right with the whales—The National Marine Fisheries Service says it is setting up special protection to the endangered right whales in Alaska. A 36,750 sq. mile area near salmon-rich Bristol Bay, will be designated a critical habitat for the Pacific rights. The area would be protected from human activities that would harm the critters. This is serious—there may be fewer than 100 Pacific rights left in the world; they are the most endangerd of the large whales. Some have been seen in the area in southwestern Alaska. Now we get to the politics. Are you surprised that the fisheries under the Bush administration would do such a noble thing? Don’t be. They are under court order. It seems a federal judge ruled that the administratiion had illegally delayed action to save the whales and fisheries had to get off its ass. Whalers almost wiped the whales out early in the 20th century. They are fat and slow and easy targets.

So set ‘em up, Joe. I’ve got a little mouse I want you to know—Disney was right. Mice can sing. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, have discovered that when male mice scent the pheremones of female mice, they sing. Songs. Really. The high squeeking sounds they usually make when lust overcomes them turn out to be far more complex than thought. They are not random and have patterns to them. Part of the problem is that the squeeking is at too high a frequency for humans to hear, but when recordings of the sounds were reduced into the range of human hearing they do indeed sound like bird songs. Porpoises and whales, of course, sing songs, as do birds but we know little about them. No one knows where the songs come from and whether the mice can learn new songs. Are there rodent composers? Every mouse, apparently, gets to make up his own song and presumably scores if his score attracts a babe. Perphaps there is even hip hop.

UPDATE—If you'd like to here the rodent melodies for yourself, click here. Reader Larry Maxcy recommends you play it to your cat.

Denver goes eponymous—Residents of the Mile High City think it’s okay. To be high, that is. In a vote, 54 percent of voters supported a measure legalizing small amounts of marijuana. Forty-six percent said no. The measure legalized an ounce of pot for people over the age of 18. State officials, in a snit, said state law will control and state law forbitds marijuana. Several college towns and Seattle have passed similar measures. All this comes after a study at the University of Colorado, showing that smoking pot is not a cancer risk. It has the same bad things in it tobacco (which is legal, of course) has, but the THC in marijuana seems to mitigate that. Good stuff, that THC. Meanwhile, my old home town, Santa Cruz, CA, has organized a city department to dispense medical marijuana while the locals and the feds fight it out.

No comments: