Let's start with the first odd word. I promise we'll get to the fish and sex in a minute.
The word is "anadromous," which if I'd had to guess, I'd have said meant a kind of bread or else somebody that it's hard to tell if they're male or female. It could also have something to do with those mechanical things in "Star Wars." Maybe, it's all three.
"Gosh, C-3PO, this delicious loaf of bread you baked makes me wonder, are you a boy robot or a girl robot?"
As it turns out, it's none of the above.
"Anadromous" describes fish that live in salt water, but swim up fresh-water rivers and streams to have sex. Except that if you're an anadromous fish, you don't use the word "sex." You say "spawn." No idea why. Anadromous species include striped bass, Atlantic salmon, alewives and shad.
The reason this is newsworthy - aside from the fact that I just like writing "anadromous" - is that you don't need government permission in Maine to catch stripers and their cousins.
No fishing license required. It's one of our second-tier of fundamental freedoms, not quite up there with freedom of speech or religion, but well above freedom to waltz or the right to bear sorrows.
But if the federal government has its way, all that will change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service has announced it will start licensing anadromous anglers in 2009 and will begin charging $15 to $25 a year for the permits by 2011.
The only way Maine could avoid the national license would be if the state institutes its own program of registering fishers of anadromousity. Last year, Gov. John Baldacci introduced a bill to create a state license, but it was chewed up in the Legislature like chum in shark-infested water.
The Coast Guard is supposed to enforce the new license requirement, Because the Coasties have lots of spare time on their hands.
Is there a reason for this licensing scheme? Of course. You don't think the federal government goes off half-cocked instituting massive-but-pointless intrusions into people's daily lives, do you?
Rhetorical question. Don't bother answering.
The licenses will allow the National Marine Fisheries Service to monitor how many people are catching how many fish. Once that information is collected and analyzed, the feds will know whether they needed to know all that stuff in the first place or whether this small, traditional activity has doodly-squat impact on the species involved.
Next funny word: "genomics." According to a story in the Bar Harbor Times of June 12, 2008 this term was invented by Thomas H. Roderick of Bar Harbor, professor emeritus at the Jackson Lab, to describe the study of genomes. A genome is a species' genetic information, the little squiggles of DNA that make some of us anadromous and others of us happier having sex out of water. In the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Roderick is credited with coining the word. He said he came up with it back in 1986, after he and some colleagues had drunk two or three pitchers of beer.
A funny word intruded on the June 10 state primary: tie. While voters in Maine had no trouble choosing nominees for Congress in the 1st District - Charlie Summers won the Republican nomination and Chellie Pingree took the Democratic race
- and the U.S. Senate - Tom Allen will be the Dems' standard-bearer against the GOP's Susan Collins, the situation in Maine House District 107 was not so simple. Melissa Walsh Innes and Kimberly McLaughlin
each received 485 votes in the Democratic primary.
If a recount doesn't find an extra supporter or two for one of them, the election will have to be settled by the secretary of state drawing lots.
When it comes to crime statistics,
"decline" is an unusual word. But, in this case, appropriate. After two years of increases, the crime rate in Maine dropped 3.4 percent in 2007, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
The state had about one incident of violent crime for every 1,000 people last year. The national average is 4.6 per 1,000. Of course, the numbers were skewed in our favor because nobody gets arrested for fishing for anadromous species here. Yet.
The words "10 years" don't sound frightening, but it depends on the context. Said in conjunction with "car warranty," nobody breaks a sweat. Added to the end of the phrase, "I now sentence you to …" it's more problematic. The latter was the case for Eric Merrill of Lincoln, charged with shooting up his girlfriend's home and car in January.
On June 12 in Bangor, Superior Court Justice John Nivison had just begun passing judgment on Merrill by stating the "10 years" part, when the defendant fainted dead away. Medics were summoned and Merrill was revived, whereupon he discovered he'd only have to serve 2 1/2 years. The rest of the sentence was suspended while he was in suspended animation.
"Optimistic" is a word you don't hear too often these days, but it seems to apply to John Rooks.
Rooks heads a Portland public-relations firm and is the driving … er … peddling force behind the city's new bike-share program. White bikes have been placed in racks in various locations around town. Anyone can borrow them for free.
All potential riders have to do is visit a Web site to get the combination for the bikes' locks.
Rooks may need all the optimism he can muster. A similar program in Portland in 1996 lasted just a couple of weeks before all the bikes were stolen or trashed.
There aren't many Mainers who can truly lay claim to the adjective "psychedelic," but Alton Kelley
was one. The Houlton native arrived in San Francisco around 1965, helped found the Family Dog collective and, with partner Stanley Mouse, created the Grateful Dead's skull-and-roses logo, album covers for the Dead, Steve Miller and Journey, as well as classic concert posters for Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother
and the Holding Company and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
His art still defines the era. Kelley died June 1 at age 67. Dude was anadromous.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.