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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 18, 2008 / 11 Adar II 5768

Technological warfare against mice won't work. Try cats

By Paul Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying: 'If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbour, tho' he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.' I don't know about the first two commodities. There are too many authors churning out words, and who cares for a sermon these days, let alone the preacher? But mousetraps that work, that actually catch mice! Now you're talking, Waldo! I hear nothing, these days, but complaints about mice. What's the word? Infestation? Epiphytic? Zymosis? Pandemia? There has been nothing like it since 10th- and 11th-century Germany, the time of the Pied Piper, when mice were directed to 'get' objectionable people, like the Rhine-pirate Freiherr von Göttingen, Archbishop Hatto, the robber-baron Count Graaf, Bishop Adolf of Cologne and Bishop Widerolf of Strasbourg — all without exception eaten by armies of mice down to their whited bones. Rhineland mice had a contemptuous saying, 'As common as prelate-meat.'


Mice can begin to mate at seven weeks, and reproduce throughout the year, with an average of 5.5 litters and 31 young per female per year in buildings and 57 in farms. Some mice are very small — adults only three inches long including tail and weighing less than half an ounce. Hence Shakespeare often uses 'mouse' as a synonym for tiny, as in the Dover Cliffs speech in Lear, 'The fishermen that walked upon the beach/Appear like mice.' But their numbers make them formidable. Mice population explosions in the Central Valley of California in 1926 and 1941 produced up to 80,000 an acre. The fact that the first was caused by unusual heat and the second by unusual cold cast doubt on claims by the Greens that the present outbreak is (of course) the result of global warming. France between 1790 and 1935 had 20 mouse plagues.


Rodents like the same food as humans and each can easily consume its body weight in a week. They played a major role in destroying the Soviet Union by consuming over 40 per cent of all food produced by a system which took months to get food from the producing to consuming areas — the greatest, perhaps the only, beneficiary of Marxism was the rat. I suspect that research would show a marked correlation in a modern society between the number of bureaucrats and rodents. In a decade of New Labour, a million desk-officials have been added, and the current mouse afflatus is one of the consequences.


People, especially women, often scream at the sight of a mouse and can't abide going into a room where they think a mouse may be. But, until the 19th century, 'mouse' was a term of affection used by men for wives and girlfriends. Edward III called Queen Philippa his mouse. Henry VIII thus addressed both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, before he put them in the Tower mousetrap. Hamlet's father-in-law called Queen Gertrude his mouse, as the Prince remarks just before he stabs old Polonius to death through the arras. Indeed, in the decade in which the play was written, the term was common among lovers, thus the lines from Albion's England: 'G-d bless the Mouse, the Bridegroom sayd/And smakt her on the lips.'


Mice were out of amorous fashion in the rational 18th century, but came back thanks to Beatrix Potter. Her patronage of mice had its effect on Walt Disney, who studied her work, and then picked Mickey Mouse as his super-hero. One of his motives, however, was that a cartoon mouse was reducible to a series of circles, which made it easy to draw rapidly at a time when all images in a movie cartoon were hand-drawn. Disney employed more than 2,000 artists in his studio (more than all the studios in Florence throughout the Renaissance, 1450-1525). His first feature-length movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1936-37), required over three million drawings to make. So the Mickey circle-mouse was an efficiency symbol. He was also more popular than any other film star in history, receiving over 600,000 fan letters in 1935, the largest number ever recorded in Hollywood, or anywhere else. Now people may look down their noses at Mickey Mouse, a name which indeed has acquired all kinds of opprobrious verbal overtones, but if you take the trouble to look again at the first Disney talkie, Steamboat Willie, made in 1928, the year I was born, you will see that this form of tuneful animation was one of the few and rare genuine revolutions in the long history of art, a new kind of art indeed. Mickey Mouse made his specific appearance then and was at the heart of this new form of human aesthetic ingenuity. Three quarters of a century later, it has proliferated into countless forms of animation and graphic anthropomorphisms all over the world, to the harmless delight of our much-battered humanity. It was one of the few good novelties of the cruellest and most destructive century — and it all came from a mouse.


That such a small and pitiful creature should help to cheer us up will have been no surprise to the poets, who have made much creative use of the mouse in all ages. Horace and Virgil liked mice. Shakespeare picked on them to make points more than he did on any other animal. Shelley was keen, too, and Chaucer has one crop up constantly, especially in the Wife of Bath's Prologue of the Canterbury Tales, where he reflects the mediaeval notion that mice like liquor ('Thou comest hoom as drunken as a mous') and are faithless ('I holde a Mouses herte nat worth a leek'). Only Burns devoted an entire poem to a mouse, but it is one of the best ever written and contains an observation of bitter truth, 'The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men/Gang aft agley.'


The word 'mouse' can mean many things, especially in English, German and Chinese — a black eye, a beggar, a precision instrument, a birthmark, a form of poison, a lock, a computer control, and several kinds of nautical knots and rigging; and the term is used in geology, botany, surgery, fishing, engineering, optics, butchery, hawking and medicine. All the same, mice, whether scamperers, burrowers, ricochetals or all three, are always on the brink of getting out of control. They can live anywhere and adapt themselves perfectly to life in the minute crevices of human societies. They are our doppelgängers. Rodents form half of all mammals and keep pace with the population explosion — ten billion of them. Mice are difficult to keep under. Their only effective enemy is the cat, as Chaucer noted 600 years ago in the Manciple's Tale, because cats hate mice and love to eat them:


Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk
And tendre flesh, and make his couche of silk,
And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal,
Anon he weyveth milk and flesh and al,
And every deyntee that is in that hous,
Swich appetite he hath to ete a mous.


A fierce cat has taken to haunting the purlieus of my house in Notting Hill. He is reddish brown with a touch of heliotrope and his eyes flash lethal fire. He originally came to kill birds, especially the family of robins which are my joy, but he has now obviously constituted himself mouser to the Johnson establishment. And very successful he is. We are now mouse-free.

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Previously:

03/03/08: What is a genius? We use the word frequently but surely, to guard its meaning, we should bestow it seldom
03/03/08: Fiction as a crutch to get one through life
02/26/08: Impatience + Greed = Trouble
02/13/08: Shakespeare, Neo-Platonism and Princess Diana
02/07/08: Where Industry Has Failed Us
12/19/07: People who put their trust in human power delude themselves
12/12/07: What is aggression?
12/04/07: Pursuing success is not enough
11/07/07: Are famous writers accident-prone?
10/31/07: Courage needed to disarm Iran
09/20/07: Who Will Say ‘I Promise to Lay Off’?
07/24/07: Greed is safer than power-seeking
04/02/07: Benefactors must be hardheaded
03/07/07: American idealism and realpolitik
11/28/06: Space: Our ticket to survival
10/24/06: Envy is bad economics
10/11/06: Better to Borrow or Lend? Rethinking conventional wisdom
08/22/06: Don't practice legal terrorism
08/08/06: A summer rhapsody for a pedal-bike
08/03/06: Why is there no workable philosophy of music?
07/11/06: Historically speaking, energy crisis is America's opportunity
07/06/06: The misleading dimensions of persons and lives
06/06/06: First editions are not gold
05/23/06: A downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even pretty ones
04/25/06: Was Washington right about political parties?
04/12/06: Let's Have More Babies!
04/05/06: For the love of trains
03/29/06: Lincoln and the Compensation Culture
03/22/06: Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast
03/15/06: Europe's utopian hangover
03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle

© 2006, Paul Johnson

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