Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Inspired by Bumpers (of fishing and midwives)

It is dangerous to think too much while driving. Especially if you are me. If you are me, you might be inspired to have "deep thoughts" like those ones that used to be popular in the early '90s, I think due to a Saturday Night Live skit.

Fortunately, my deep thoughts are awe-inspiring, and worth sharing. They must be, as they not originally thought by me- they were brought up by bumper-stickers and license plates on cars driving ahead of me. Therefore, other people must have thought them first, and thought them so profound that they *must share them all of the time that their car is in circulation*.

First car had a license plate that read "Let M Go." I have this compulsive need to decode vanity plates. This one seemed obvious at first- I read it as "Let Me Go." But looking closer, I realized that the plate had a frame holder from a catch-and-release group: the plate actually should read "Let 'em Go." Peppered on the Prius' bumper were a few other trout fishing bumper stickers. I had not thought about fishing in a long time. I specifically had not thought about catch and release fishing in an even longer time. The last time I thought about fishing was at an A's game- when the fans chose to watch fishing on the jumbo-tron instead of the other two sporting event choices (I always vote for "grass growing"). Apparently fishing is a sport now, as in a sporting event that people watch on TV. A bunch of guys were in a boat, and they were zooming and then floating around in a lake, trying to catch fish by a certain time. The last time I intentionally didn't think about fishing was when I skipped a John McPhee article in the New Yorker. He writes for them a few times a year, and I always skip his articles (which I rarely do with other articles): they are long and boring, and often revolve around fishing. I read one of his books once- it was also too long, slightly dull, and included fishing. The last time I actually went fishing I believe I was less than a decade old and we were at some resort with a stocked pond. My sister and I caught fish which were then grilled (or something) for us and we ate them for dinner. At least, I did. My sister doesn't eat fish.

Getting back to the point of "catch and release": I have always thought, perhaps erroneously, that people do this because it is nicer for the fish. I'm driving behind this Prius and all of a sudden it hit me like a rock to the head of a trout- why on earth would it be nice for a fish to be caught multiple times? Here I am, little trout (or fish in general, who knows what kind of fish people do this with), swimming along, fooled into eating the bait, when OUCH, it hurts, there's something in my mouth that hurts like Hell, and no matter how hard I fight it, something is pulling me and pulling me, through my face, up and out of the water. So, I'm terrified, fleeing, can't get away, eventually hauled out of the water, where my breathing mechanisms don't work right, and handled by a giant two handed thing. He wrestles the painful thing out of my mouth, or tears it out of my mouth, while I still can't breathe very well, then throws me back into the water (i.e. more handling) so that I get a chance to do it all over again. What is nice about this? If we're going to catch fish, can't we just kill them? Sure, I'm an animal welfare professional, but I'm not an animal rights advocate (yes, they are different) and am not wholesale against the killing of animals. Would I go out and kill an animal for fun? No. But I certainly wouldn't advocate going out and hurting an animal for fun, either.

Per wikipedia, catch and release fishing is done with barbless hooks, without exhausting the fish, and potentially even without taking the fish out of water. The technique is practiced to avoid overfishing but still have the "fun" of fishing (I'm not even going there). Further research into catch and release shows that there are specific techniques to minimize stress for the fish. You should use pliers to get the hook out quickly (so add the image of the strange two handed person wielding a strange metal device in your face to the above picture from fishes' point of view). You should keep your hands moisturized.

Bottom line, I didn't invent this debate. I don't have an answer to this debate. Fishermen/women/people know this debate exists. If I were to go fishing (probably not going to happen), I would not catch and release. I would catch and kill. And eat my fish or feed it to a local pit bull, since I actually don't eat fish now (and not because my sister doesn't).

My next deep thought was inspired by a car pasted with bumper stickers about midwives (midwifery?). I couldn't really see into the car, but it was a person with short hair. I just assumed it was a woman, albeit a butch one. This led me to thinking about male midwives. What would they be called? Midhusbands? Is there such a thing? Before I could get home and use the all-knowing Google, I discussed this with aforementioned pregnant friend. She agreed: there may be male midwives, but she would not be seeking one out. No man is looking at my "vjay" she said! I countered, while blushing profusely, that this was not very PC: what if there were men who felt very connected with women, or women who felt more comfortable with men? There are many male OBGYNs, why not male midwives? Well, I am not pregnant, so I deferred to her answer, which was essentially "no way, jose."

But, I can defer no longer, now that I have access to the almighty and allknowing powers of Google. According to "Men Stuff" (try not to laugh) men could not be midwives in the UK until 1977. The first FAQ addresses my very own question:

1. Aren't you called a midhusband?
Answer: I then explain that midwife means "with woman", not "with husband".

The answer, then, is that a male midwife is called just that: a male midwife. And they exist, though barely.