Murphy's Law: March 16, 2003


The U.S. Marines brought some fifty chickens with them to Kuwait. The birds, which are easy to care for, but sensitive to chemical weapons, were thought to be perfect as live chemical attack monitors. If the bird drops, the thinking went, it's a chemical attack. But within days of arriving in Kuwait, most of the birds died anyway. A few marines figured out what was happening and saved the rest. It seems that chickens spend most of their time pecking at the ground for stray bits of food. But these American chickens had never been in the desert before and their encounter with the Kuwaiti sand led to them gobbling up enough of the sand to kill them. Birds are not very bright. So the surviving birds were saved by keeping them off the sand. With most of their two footed "chemical attack detectors" gone, the marines looked around for a replacement. And found one, a critter nearly as clueless (at least in a combat zone) as chickens. It seems that many, if not most, of the hundreds of journalists assigned to combat units can't be bothered with carrying around their chemical warfare equipment. So many reporters plan to use the journalists (at least the ones who refuse to take their chemical protection gear with them) as chicken replacements. On a more practical level, the marines are bringing in several hundred homing pigeons for chemical attack detection duty. The pigeons are smaller, easier to take care of and are known to survive quite well in the Persian Gulf area.


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