The Right Coast

March 23, 2004
squeaky squeals in mouse tell-all
By Tom Smith

Somebody should ask those starving mice just why they live so much longer than mice that occasionally get to eat their fill. I have an idea. Pure mean-spirited revenge. Furry spite. Rodent malice. Put yourself in their place for a moment. Trapped in a small cage with nothing to amuse yourself but an exercise wheel and a water bottle. Sound familiar? A little rodent action when the lab lights go out? Oh no. Your genes aren't good enough. Well, you can always down another mouthful of those green pellets they call food. But wait! Now you can't even do that! It's just hour after hour of gnawing rodent hunger, and for what? To prove that a miserable mouse can live longer than one that gets to eat. So you hang on, knowing that every hour more you live is thousands more humans who feel guilty for that extra bowl of raisin bran, and ashamed for each additional fry. Vicious, hate-filled little bastards.

I saw some documentary on public TV about this starvation and longevity stuff some years ago. They interviewed some guy who was a professor at some UC school who was on this low calorie regime, along with his daughter if I remember correctly. They were skinny. I mean stick-man, death's head skinny. Every meal was some elaborate salad, piles of vitamins etc. etc. The reporter, to her credit, asked him the important question "Aren't you hungry?" "All the time," he said. And you could tell he really, really meant it. But he said he thought it was worth the trade off. He figured he would get extra years of life out of the deal. Poor, sad, scared little man. However, I do wish I had taken it easier at the Asian stir-fry buffet in the faculty dining room today.