China's "One Gerbil" Population Policy: Rodents on the Pill
Posted by: Frederik Balfour on March 27
It’s not as if China’s dry regions don’t already have enough trouble with drought. Water scarcity in the north and west of the country is a chronic problem, as is the increasing desertification of the countryside caused by global warming. But now, in notoriously dry Xinjiang province, authorities are battling a new scourge: gerbils which are the depleting supply of plants by nibbling away at their roots.
The solution? Let’s call it China’s “One Gerbil” policy.” Forestry officials are putting the rodents on the pill to prevent their population from exploding. The method involves scattering feed laced with a chemical that acts as both a contraceptive and an abortion device. Officials say it’s more humane than killing the gerbils out right and I applaud them. I recall my first visit to a market in Turpan, a stop along the ancient Silk Route through Xinjiang province in 1985 and being horrified at the sight of a dead rat displayed next to some other goods. At first I thought it was for sale, but then realized it was a form of crude advertising, a mute testament to the effectiveness of the rat poison on offer. I now wonder if urban rats will be the next group of mammals to be put on the pill.
After maintaining his silence for two days, President Obama will soon make his first public statement about the pirate attack upon an U.S.-flagged vessel off the Horn of Africa. After several inquiries and a few well-placed bribes, Exurban League has received an early transcript of the President's remarks:
'"Good evening. As you know, early yesterday, Somali-based pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama, a freighter carrying relief supplies to Kenya. While we do not yet know all the details, the Alabama's crew re-took control of the vessel and forced the pirates off the ship.
Since the pirates are still holding the captain, I have sent FBI negotiators to facilitate his safe and speedy release. I assure his friends and family that I will not stop until this man-made disaster is resolved in a peaceful, tolerant and ecologically-sound manner.
Obviously, this incident has raised many concerns among Americans. There have been calls for justice and even violence against the misguided perpetrators. But such an emotional reaction has led to the disparagement of entire groups with which we are unfamiliar. We have seen this throughout history.
For too long, America has been too dismissive of the proud culture and invaluable contributions of the Pirate Community. Whether it is their pioneering work with prosthetics, husbandry of tropical birds or fanciful fashion sense, America owes a deep debt to Pirates.
The past eight years have shown a failure to appreciate the historic role of these noble seafarers. Instead of celebrating their entreprenuerial spirit and seeking to partner with them to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
Some of us wonder if our current Overseas Contingency Operation would even be needed had the last administration not been so quick to label Pirates as "thieves," "terrorists" and worse. Such swashbucklaphobia can lead to tragic results, as we have seen this week.
To address this issue, I have instructed Vice President Joe Biden to create a cabinet-level Czar of Pirate Outreach and Buccaneer Interrelation. In addition, June 1-7 has been designated as Pirate Awareness Week, during which all federal buildings will fly the Jolly Roger and sponsor sensitivity training. Thankfully, my American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will fund free grog and hard tack for all attendees.
Finally, to all pirates listening to international broadcasts, shortwave services and ship-to-shore radio, let me say this:
Ahoy, me regret arr relationship has set sail in a scurvy manner. Arr people share many mutual 'alues and concerns on t' raging main. Perchance, could ye handsomely release the cap'n o' the ship and I assure that no harm will come t' ye or ye hearties. Let us smite t' reset button and launch our seabond on a new pegleg. Savvy? Godspeed t' ye and t' ye beauties. Aye, me parrot concurs."
And two links to the movie:Super Size Me is a 2004 documentary film written, produced, directed by, and starring Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker. Spurlock's film follows a 30-day time period (February to beginning of March 2003) during which he limits himself to only eat McDonald's food. The film documents this lifestyle's drastic effects on Spurlock's physical and psychological well-being, and explores the fast food industry's corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit. During the filming, Spurlock dined at McDonald's restaurants three times per day, sampling every item on the chain's menu at least once. He also "super-sized" his meal every time he was asked. Spurlock consumed an average of 20.92 megajoules or 5,000 cal (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Macs) per day during the experiment. As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 24½ lbs. (1¾ stone, 11.1 kg), a 13% body mass increase, and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and liver damage. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight he gained.