A WORTHY CAUSE
The Oakland Junior Chamber of Commerce is trying to save interscholastic sport in its city. In last month's election a proposition which would have provided funds for such extracurricular activities as athletics, band and drama was voted down (SI, June 27). The vote was indefensible. Five of Oakland's six high schools are predominantly Negro. Eleven hundred kids will literally be thrown into the streets, and, as Oakland residents bitterly jest: "If Watts gets any worse, it might become another Oakland."
Although nonleague games have been canceled and several coaches have taken other jobs, some 60 Jaycees are manning telephones nightly in an attempt to raise the $104,800 needed to revive the league. The deadline is August 12, and only $2,000 has been collected so far. The Jaycees have also set up an office for receiving donations. The address is Oakland Junior Chamber of Commerce, 1320 Webster St., Oakland, Calif. 94612.
GILDING THE LILY
Lady Bird, bless her, wants to beautify the highways of America, and who doesn't?—except maybe the pizzaburger and cement dwarf people and, lately, a number of residents of Great, Orrs and Bailey islands. It seems the Maine State Highway Commission wants to spend $100,000 on 22 beautification sites along Route 24—which comes to a dead end at Bailey Island—as the state's first project to be financed under Mrs. Johnson's Highway Beautification Act.
But as Professor Lawrence S. Hall, chairman of the Bowdoin College English department and a leading opponent of the plan, points out, Route 24 is already overloaded with traffic during the summer and already scenic. As a matter of fact, there are those who feel that the relatively unspoiled road, twisting and turning along an arm of the sea, will be spoiled by beautification, which will entail such improvements as the creation or enlargement of parking turnoffs with views of the ocean and the establishment of elaborate picnic areas. Moreover, Route 24 is inadequately patrolled, it will not be improved to handle increased tourist traffic, it is for several miles a residential area and many of the proposed sites face or abut homes.
Following a meeting between Professor Hall and the chairman of the highway commission, the beautification program was shelved for a year's study, but the détente was broken when Hall learned the commission was contemplating a new scheme for Route 24: a picnic area with public toilets, well, fireplace, tables, shelters, 19 parking spaces and room for boat and camping trailers—diagonally across the road from a church!
As Hall wrote Maine's Governor Reed: "This is not a case of one accident befalling one small community with one short road.... If it can happen here it can happen over and over everywhere.... It may not be too late for the example of the 'beautification' of Route 24 to serve as a warning...that roadbuilders—whose aim and ideal is the perfect accessibility of everything including privacy—have no qualifications beyond their roadsides."
BATMAN SAYS REPEAL
If you want to surf at Newport Beach, Calif. you have to come up with three bucks for a municipal surfboard license, a decal that goes on the bottom of the board six inches forward of the skeg. First offenders are liable to a $10 fine, and City Attorney Tully Seymour reports that 23 citations have been issued to date, all pending adjudication.
Edward Barrett, city license clerk, has issued 1,225 licenses so far. "At first there was a lot of static from the kids," he says, "but now the decals have become a status symbol. They want to get one before they are outlawed."
The State Division of Small Craft Harbors has filed a protest contending that it has taxing rights on all vessels in California waters, and that a surfboard is a vessel. And, although the licensing was agreed to by the Newport Beach Surfing Association to avert a possible surfing ban, nonresident surfers are up in arms. A group of 20 picketed last week, carrying placards reading: FREE SURF NOW, BATMAN SAYS REPEAL THE LICENSE, RESIST REGIMENTATION and SWIMSUITS NEXT? The Mid-Day Surf Club and the South Coast Surfing Association are contemplating peaceful demonstrations, perhaps a surf-in.
Surfer, the sport's most widely read magazine, had editorially opposed the Newport Beach tax, but is not against a surfing tax per se, providing the income is put back into the sport, as is the case with hunting and fishing licenses.
The United States Surfing Association, which is also in opposition to the ordinance, feeling that if there is a tax it should at least be statewide, has gotten up bumper stickers reading FREE ACCESS TO THE SURF IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE. As Tom Morey, USSA president, puts it, "We feel it would be more practical to license teen-agers."
The British Columbia Telephone Company is about to spend $90,000 to build a pool for porpoises at the Vancouver aquarium. Porpoises, as everybody knows, are the talkiest things, so, as Dr. Murray Newman, the aquarium's curator says, "It's quite appropriate that a telephone company is sponsoring them."
As a matter of fact, B.C. Telephone is planning to install conduits and a hydrophone in the pool so visitors can eavesdrop on the porpoises. And, Newman adds, "Maybe we can get these porpoises to talk by telephone with porpoises in other aquariums."
But, besides being gabby, porpoises are supposed to be intelligent. It will therefore be interesting for frustrated human parents to observe how adult porpoises deal with the problem of getting adolescent porpoises off the telephone.
Harley Davidson Mitchell, director of recreation at the Temple (Texas) Veterans Hospital, says he is the only man in the world named after a motorcycle—his father was a dealer. He also says he is the only man in history to hit half a home run.
"We used to play on a field behind the railroad yards," he explained the other day. "There was a high guy wire running across a corner of right field. The score was tied when I came to bat in the ninth, and I hit a shot to right. The ball traveled so fast that when it struck the guy wire, it split in two. One half sailed over the fence, and the other half dropped into the right fielder's glove. The umpire ruled it was half a homer and half an out.
"Anyway," he added, "we won the ball game 3½ to 3."
What do the professional Japanese girl pearl divers at Sea World, San Diego's aquatic Disneyland, do for kicks on their days off? They dive for abalone off La Jolla.
During the past week we've heard of two major breakthroughs in our purview and we would be remiss if we failed to pass them on. Word of Breakthrough No. 1 comes from the redoubtable Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod of Jersey City (SI, May 3, 1965), who, among other things, is the world's foremost authority on tropical fish. What Dr. Axelrod has wrought is a new, comparatively inexpensive fish food which he says "will revolutionize the pet industry." The food is entitled Miracle Freeze Dried Tubifex with Fish Nip and consists of freeze-dried tubifex worms sprayed with blood serum. As Dr. Axelrod says: "If you have an aquarium handy, just press a piece firmly against the inside aquarium glass. Wait a few moments until the fishes discover it. Then stand back as they voraciously attack it. No more overfeeding problems! No more soupy tanks! No more foul-smelling, discouraging aquariums! Everywhere we tested it we heard wonderful comments. At last we can bring our fish out of hiding to see them when and where we want to! At last we can train fishes to eat from our hands!" Pet industry revolution? Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod has led us to the threshold of a new, warm, exciting relationship between man and fish.
News of Breakthrough No. 2 springs from the lips of Gerald Marvin, London PR man. In collaboration with a hydraulic engineer, who unaccountably remains nameless, and Hugh Scudamore, an art dealer whose role is merely unaccountable, Marvin has invented the Ski-Naut, a device for learning to water-ski indoors.
"The Ski-Naut will lead to a total revolution in water-ski instruction," says Marvin. "Water skiing can be unpleasant to learn, so we thought we'd look for a cushier way."
The way: the student stands still and the water moves. The training area has two parallel channels of water speeding in opposite directions, enabling up to 16 students to learn at the same time. Each is secured in a very flexible harness and each has a towrope. The water, powered by a 100,000-gallon-a-minute pump, can attain a speed of 20 mph and is regulated by the instructor. One of our British correspondents was fortunate enough to attend a demonstration. He writes: "In a secret London hideout I watched a scale model in action—and the rapid flow of smooth water was quite astonishing."
SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI
The blue whale is the largest creature ever to inhabit the earth. The record specimen was 108 feet long and weighed 152.8 tons. The tongue of a lesser blue whale weighed 7,056 pounds. Thirty years ago there were 200,000 blue whales. Today there are only a few hundred and, though totally protected, 11 were killed by whalers in the winter of 1964-65. It seems likely that the blue whale is doomed; its range is all the southern oceans, and the chances are slim that the deviously cruising survivors will, in that immensity, happen upon mates.
The fin whale, half the size of the blue, has also been decimated by the whaling fleets. Thirty years ago it was as numerous as the blues; now 35,000 remain.
Conservationists have warned whalers that if they don't cease slaughtering they will be out of business. For 1964-65 the conservationists suggested a total catch of 4,000 units (equal to 8,000 fin whales or 24,000 sei whales), 3,000 in 1965-66 and 2,000 in 1966-67. Only then, they said, could the whale population hope to recover. Nonetheless, the whalers went after 8,000 units in 1964-65 but, ominously, fell short by 1,000.
Subsequently, the whaling nations—Russia, Japan and Norway—were persuaded to meet, largely at the behest of the U.S. Although the Japanese, whose ships were almost new and not yet amortized, were unrepentant, an agreement was reached to reduce the total catch for 1965-66 to 4,500 units, 1,500 more than had been recommended. Last winter the whalers fell short by 400 units. In June another meeting of the International Whaling Commission was held to decide on the limits for the coming winter's catch. This time it has been fixed at 3,500 units, still greatly in excess of the suggested figure.
However, in addition to setting a limit, there is the matter of how well the limit is observed. An international-observer scheme was discussed but, alas, not authorized. By the time it is, there is a distinct possibility there may not be any big whales to observe.
WHAT A WAY TO GO
Wall-to-wall carpeting Detroit Entertainer Vic Hyde has in his trailer yet. And why not, when it is pulled by a Rolls-Royce? "Some people chase square dancing, some save coins, some gamble, some rebuild Model T's, some fish, some hunt and some drink," Hyde says. "I'm just Rolls-Royce crazy. My automotive jellies arc appeased only when driving one." This is Hyde's seventh Rolls, and he figures it's the only one hitched to a trailer. He and his wife estimate they spend 200 days a year on the road, parking anywhere but—perhaps as a concession to their patrician Rolls—in a trailer camp.
THEY SAID IT
•Doug Sanders, explaining his short backswing: "I began playing golf with my employer's clubs. He might have come back any minute, so I didn't have time to swing the club very far."
•Jeanni McCombs, strawberry blonde from Texas and one of the top U.S. sky divers: "I suffer from acrophobia. I can't look out of high buildings. I don't even like to ride in planes. When I'm in one, I want to jump out. I guess that's what makes me a good sky diver."