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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Et Cetera

Of Mice and Men

Having trouble spawning young? Perhaps you need a little CREM in your coffee.

Scientists have discovered that mice lacking a certain gene can't make sperm. The missing gene produces a protein called CREM, which helps regulate the production of fertile seed. A crimp in CREM might account for a percentage of otherwise inexplicable cases of male infertility, with further research leading to their cure.

More intriguingly, researchers say that if they can somehow get in there and hobble the production of CREM in healthy hormones, they might be able to develop a new form of birth control for men, one not quite so interruptive and which could never be used as a water balloon. The full name of CREM -- cyclic AMP-responsive element modulator -- might itself also act to inhibit procreation if enunciated properly at strategic moments.

When I'm Sixty-Four

They banned them when they sang about getting high. They banned them when they sang about having sex. And now the BBC has banned the Beatles once again because, well, they're old.

BBC 1, Britain's biggest pop music station, has banished the Beatles' new single, "Real Love," from its playlist because, say station officials, they want to attract younger listeners. The move drew immediate fire from fans, other musicians -- and Tory MPs, who planned to protest the BBC's "censorship" in the House of Commons.

"Real Love" features the three surviving Beatles adding music to a vocal track recorded by John Lennon before he was murdered in 1980. The song is part of the "Anthology" series, a compilation of mostly unreleased Beatles tunes whose first volume was a huge seller in Britain last year -- especially among teenagers, who accounted for 40 percent of its sales.

The Beatles, collectively and individually, have been banned from BBC airplay several times, for such offenses as telling listeners, "I'd love to turn you on," inviting their companions to "do it in the road," informing a loved one that they were going "to do you, sweet banana, like you never been done," as well as for the impertinent suggestion to "give Ireland to the Irish."

Perhaps the Tories might pass on that debate after all.

Down by Law

He was one of a new breed of American lawmakers: a soldier of the Christian Coalition who proudly proclaimed his righteous zeal as a member of the Florida legislature's "God Squad." But State Representative Marvin Couch was also an aficionado of the world's oldest profession, and last week he resigned from office after being caught in a shopping center parking lot with a prostitute.

Couch, 42, who had earned a "perfect" rating from the Coalition for his opposition to abortion, his advocacy of school prayer and his condemnation of the "perverse lifestyle" of homosexuals, paid $22 for a noontime session of oral sex in the cab of his pickup truck, police said. He was also charged with "unnatural and lascivious acts" and exposure of his sexual organs.

The lawmaker, most prominent for his denunciations of the Walt Disney Co. for extending health insurance benefits to the partners of its gay and lesbian employees, resigned in a tearful press conference. He confessed to a long history of buying sex, promised to seek pastoral counseling for his proclivity, and vowed to spend a little more quality time with his wife and six children.

Partners in Crime

They came into the grocery store, guns drawn, barking orders to the clerks to open the cash register and drop to the floor: a pair of hardened desperados, holding sway on center stage. It was all done with the kind of gritty panache they'd seen a thousand times on the screen.

But there must have been some flopsweat in the cinematic swagger: one of the would-be robbers, Jeanis Caty, 18, accidentally squeezed the trigger on his pistol, firing a shot that hit his partner, Wesley Steny, smack in his 16-year-old thigh. Steny, stung by the pain, turned wildly and got off a couple of rounds in the direction of his attacker -- and shot Jeanis in the hands and the leg.

The pair lay panting on the floor, as the store clerks looked up, puzzled, and finally called for the police.

"I knew there was a mistake," said Aijaz Rizva, one of the clerks at the Miami store. "They were the only ones bleeding."

Bourgeois Blues

At last: an explanation for the baffling popularity of U.S. presidential candidate Steve Forbes -- a gold-plated preppie with an audacious plan to raise the taxes of the middle class and cut the taxes of the rich -- who nonetheless garnered nearly a million votes of the "common folk" before bowing out of the Republican primaries this week. The reason is simple: these Republicans have their own unique idea of what constitutes "middle class."

The mystery was solved by Representative Fred Heineman of North Carolina, one of the first-term "Republican revolutionaries" who took over the Congress in 1994 and helped propel Newt Gingrich to power. In an interview with the Raleigh News and Observer, Heineman explained that his annual income -- $183,000 from Congressional salary plus a pension from his former job -- puts him in the "lower middle class."

"When I see someone who is making anywhere from $300,000 to $750,00 a year, that's middle class," he allowed. No doubt all those lumpen proles making a mere $150,000 a year were the ones voting for Pat Buchanan.

-- Compiled by

Chris Floyd