I have my clock radio set to NPR even though for the first 15 minutes or so after it goes off I’m usually too stupid with sleep to understand a word they are saying. This morning, however, I swear I heard a reporter talking about the endangered Northern White Male. Since I am a member of this threatened community, this brought me half awake anyway.
Evidently one of the problems is that Northern White Males are having difficulty feeding their young. Now, I haven’t had a raise in over two years, but I can still feed my teenage son – just barely. If the price of pizza and hamburgers goes up it could get dicey. So I can sympathize with other Northern White Males having trouble making ends meet.
Then, through the gradually lifting fog of slumber, I heard the unsettling news that Northern White Males are on the verge of extinction, even though in days gone by they had been considered quite valuable - mainly because they're big, slow, and float after they are harpooned and killed.
When the reporter added that the biggest threat to Northern White Males consisted of being hit by ships, becoming entangled in fishing lines, and offshore pollution it occurred to my slowly focusing mind that perhaps I had made some kind of mistake. As the report went on it dawned on me that there must be more than the 300 Northern White Males the reporter said were left on earth, and, while the death of any man is a tragedy, losing Northern White Males at the rate of 8 a year doesn’t seem so bad.
After I woke up fully, I checked the NPR web site and found that the story had actually been about northern right whales (they got the name “right” because they were considered the "right" whale to kill in the 19th century – because of that post-harpoon floating thing).
Because of this experience I'm thinking that perhaps NPR requires too much thought first thing in the morning. Maybe I’ll switch my clock radio to a station that requires little thought but still generates enough noise to wake me up. Maybe talk radio.
I suppose you can call me ridiculous for all this. You can call me a fool, if you like. But, please, don't call me Ishmael.