Hopkins, put that pig down!


January 23, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA

James Cromwell is not a farmer, but he plays one in the movie Babe. That gives him the swine cred, he figures, to stick his snout into Johns Hopkins med school business.

Spare with words as Farmer Hoggett, the Oscar-nominated Cromwell has plenty to say about the school's use of live pigs to teach surgery.

"I have seen firsthand that pigs are highly intelligent, social animals," Cromwell recently wrote to med school dean Dr. Edward D. Miller. "Animal behavior experts agree, and scientific evidence suggests that pigs are very smart, very sensitive animals. Experiences like those I had on the set of the film Babe have reinforced for me just how complex pigs are."

Or, as Hoggett might have put it: "That won't do, Hopkins. That won't do."

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which forwarded a copy of Cromwell's letter to The Sun, claims "only a handful" of U.S. medical schools still use live animals.

I called Hopkins to see if anyone there gave a hoot about Cromwell's letter, but no one responded. Perhaps the spokesfolks were busy watching the movie, looking for a good comeback. They'd find it in the words of Ferdinand the duck.

Unless you're at the top of the food chain, he says, "The way things are stinks!" Even gentle Farmer Hoggett eats meat.

A badge, a cart and the power of the sun

Tip for bad guys in Annapolis: If you're going to run from the law, do it on a cloudy day. The cops have gone solar.

State Department of General Services officers, who provide security for state buildings and parking garages, have a new patrol vehicle powered completely by the sun - a first for Maryland law enforcement, I'm told.

It's called a Solar Utility Vehicle, but don't let the big, honkin' sound of the acronym fool you. This SUV is about the size of a golf cart, which DGS says is perfect for zipping around the State House complex. (Same goes for the electric-powered Segway just added to the DGS fleet.)

BP Solar donated the $10,000 solar vehicle to the state. The solar panel on its roof, made at the company's facility in Frederick, can power the vehicle for up to 12 hours. So all hell won't break loose if a few clouds roll in, at least not right away.

In Baltimore the living is easy

A team of Washington reporters reveals to D.C. residents tonight that there is life inside another beltway.

The Live Baltimore Home Center, which promotes Charm City living, has asked Washington journalists who live in Baltimore to talk up their town at a happy hour at the district's Front Page restaurant. (The event was first planned for December, but it got snowed out.)

The ink-stained ambassadors are David Brown, Washington Post medical writer and Mount Washington resident; Ann Hornaday, Post film critic and Evergreen resident; Kevin Naff, Washington Blade editor and Guilford resident; Lisa Simeone, NPR's "World of Opera" host and Charles Village resident; and Zenitha Prince, Washington Afro-American editor and resident of Belair-Edison.

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