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December 19, 2001: Bursting yet another bubble

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According to NPR this morning, the thing about lemmings committing mass suicide every few years is a myth. In fact, it's highly likely that in the documentary produced by Disney decades ago, the lemmings were 'helped' over the cliff in order to make it more dramatic. Turns out that while lemmings do migrate in large groups, and do occasionally cross small bodies of water during their migratory routes, they don't really get a whim every few years to throw themselves to their doom over a cliff.

I'm sure you're all relieved to know that. So relieved, in fact, that you are completely forgetting the fact that I just admitted that I listen to NPR. On a regular basis, no less. In fact, that's usually what the radio is turned to these days. Um. Oh dear.

In my defense, I had no choice. It was either NPR, where I could be reasonably assured of getting actual news without the hype, or TV news, where the news (such as it is) is now given, not by newscasters, but by 'news personalities', and the truth of what's spoken is not nearly as critical as whether it will boost their ratings.

Yes, I suppose I could actually break down and get a newspaper again, but for whatever reason, we never end up with time to actually sit down and read a paper. In fact, we never really end up bringing them in from the sidewalk where the carrier deposits them (and can I just ask why the heck it is that newspaper carriers cannot seem to throw things on the porch any more? Back in my day, I'll hush up now).

So, anyway, where was I? Oh yes. The lemmings. Seems that this story - so long accepted as fact - should really be listed alongside the tales of people having their kidneys removed and waking up in bathtubs full of ice with notes saying 'get to the hospital immediately', or the oh-so-believable email that insists that, if you forward it to everyone you know, Bill Gates will personally send you $5000 (and there are apparently financial penalties if you actually *remove* the insanely long accumulation of headers and forwarding information from the email before subjecting it on your nearest and dearest).

Isn't it comforting to know that urban legends extend into the animal kingdom? Imagine all those little lemmings, sitting around their radios this morning, listening to NPR, sobbing with relief. Finally, someone got it right! They're not suicidal. They're just misundersto

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