Flipper Joins the Navy
JUST in case you wondered what the Pentagon could ever possibly do to top the $600 hammer, the New York Times ran a front-page story on April 9 about the Navy's newest and most advanced submarine defense system--the bottlenosed dolphin. In a clandestine program expanded under the Reagan Administration, the U.S. Navy has spent close to $30 million over the past four years trying to put these highly intelligent marine mammals to military use.
Although the Navy refuses to comment on the nature of the dolphins' tasks, private sources claim the dolphins defend moored nuclear submarines by identifying and killing saboteur-divers. Others are reportedly trained to locate mines (one dolphin died during recent naval operations in the Persian Gulf). Apparently, the CIA has even approached former trainers from the hit 1960s TV show, "Flipper," asking them to train dolphins to place explosives on ships.
All of this has happened despite the objections of highly-respected dolphin trainers over the feasibility of the program. Indeed, Flipper's trainer Ric O'Barry, while admitting that dolphins are highly intelligent, added that they are also highly disobedient and unpredictable. O'Barry notes, "[Let's just say] I wouldn't want them guarding half our nuclear arsenal."
The Navy has ignored these criticisms and continues to forge ahead with its cutting-edge dolphin program. Indeed, the Navy has even opened up a sort of boot camp in San Diego for its force of 100 dolphins, 25 sea lions and three beluga whales--the "Naval Oceans Systems Center."
But don't think that the dolphins and other marine mammals have it easy. Thirteen fatalities in the past three years as well as reports of dolphins being kicked, slapped and struck by Navy trainers has prompted 15 environmental and animal rights groups to file a lawsuit protesting the abuse.
The Navy's response? "There's this unfortunate notion that the Navy is the ogre in all this." One Navy spokesperson even explained (leaving out any expletives): "If that TV show had never been on the air, people wouldn't feel the way they do. Dolphins are cute. They're lovable...I wish we could use cows. It would probably be a lot easier for us."
Now there's an idea for the Navy. I can already see it: a top-secret military program teaching cows how to swim and snorkel.
THE Radcliffe chapter of Phi Beta Kappa recently announced its Junior 12 from among the 24 Radcliffe students with the highest cumulative grade-point averages. One newly-nominated student criticized Phi Beta Kappa in The Crimson saying that "an organization like this highlights the bad aspects of grades."
She quickly added that she would not for that reason decline the award, which she went on to accept. So much for principles.
IF anyone has benefitted from the Valdez, Alaska oil spill it has to be Procter & Gamble. Faced with the problem of cleaning oil-smeared wild-life, Dr. Randall W. Davis, a biologist on the scene there prefers the dishwashing liquid, Dawn. He told the New York Times: "Dawn is chemically quite sophisticated. We went over its composition with chemists at Procter & Gamble and concluded that Dawn had just the mix of properties we needed."
Alice Berkner, another naturalist on scene at Valdez, also told The Times she uses Dawn: "It cuts through this terrible oil quite effectively, but we have to work on the birds pretty hard even so."
So, there you have it folks. Direct from Valdez, Alaska, Dawn really does "take grease out of your way." Twenty dollars says that it will be only a matter of weeks before the Madison Avenue ad agency in charge of the Dawn account gets a hold of these quotes and we see a new nation-wide Dawn media blitz.
In the meantime, I don't know about you, but if Dawn is mild enough for the Northern Sea Otter, I'm going to make the switch from Palmolive.
I'M sure the folks at Pepsico Inc. thought they had scored a major triumph when they persuaded Madonna to peddle their product in a two-minute commercial for which they paid her a cool $5 million.
The commercial first played on March 2, showing Madonna travelling back to her eighth birthday. The problem for Pepsi was that a day later the "new" Madonna aired her "Like a Prayer" video which portrays a young girl struggling with feelings of guilt and sexuality. The video also contains religious imagery that some Christians found offensive.
Pepsi recently announced that it decided to cancel prematurely its Madonna ad, but added that the decision was in no way sparked by outrage and calls for a Pepsi boycott from Christian groups. Sure. Nothing like explaining a cool $5 million toilet flush to your shareholders, now is there?
MOTHERS Against Drunk Driving--better know as MADD--recently announced that it has awarded Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass.) an award "for outstanding public service." It is unclear whether MADD is also now thinking of moving its national headquarters to Chappaquidick, Mass.