Sunday, August 31, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Don't eat skwerl brains.

A squirrel's brain is said to be the size of a ping-pong ball. Thus, a squirrel theoretically can have a higher IQ than the bulk of radio hosts and TV pundits but likely lower than most members of Congress.

Some might dismiss or even take offense to such notions, but keep in mind the modifiers "bulk," "likely" and "most."

Less theoretical but still open to debate is what happened a decade ago to a number of people in western Kentucky who consumed squirrel brains.

Here's the skinny: They died, which itself is not remarkable among persons age 56 to 78. However, what they died from gave some learned folks reason to pause.

The deaths were caused by Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, wrote behavioral neurologist Eric Weisman in the British medical journal The Lancet. Creutzfeld-Jakob disease is the human variant of an incurable, brain-destroying malady known in its animal forms as scrapie in sheep and goats, mad cow in cattle and chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose.

Neither scrapie nor chronic wasting disease has been known to pass into humans. Mad cow, however, has killed people who ate diseased beef.

Eating squirrel brains is a not-uncommon practice in rustic parts of the South. Janet Norris Gates, an oral historian based in Frankfort, Ky., told the Associated Press that during her childhood in Tennessee, squirrel brain was haute cuisine.

"In our family, we saw it as a prized piece of meat," she said.

Should I even have to pass along this tidbit? We all know that terrorists just ain't right in the head, and skwerls are some of the most pervasive and nasty terrorists on earth.

Stew up their little haunches in some onion and red wine, but remove their heads first and dispose of them properly. Please.

You're welcome.

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