Ideas, that's what we're talking about here

TODAY'S COLUMN is about ideas. Let's start with the one that came from McDonald's - selling its own, fast-food crab cake at outlets on the Eastern Shore. Here's what reader David Reich of Perry Hall thinks about that: "Marylanders need crab cakes at McDonald's like Little Italy needs an Olive Garden."

And speaking of things we really could do without - a new townhouse development in Harford County, the expansion of Arundel Mills mall, another Starbucks in Towson - how about watering the lawn?


Talk about your superfluities.

And yet I saw a guy hosing one down yesterday, and had to ask: What's up with that?


Hey, hey, runoff to bay

The guy was spraying stinking chemicals, of course. But why, with all this rain? The fertilizer trucks are everywhere again, despite nature's massive hose-down this spring and summer. I don't know what to call this. Oblivious capitalism? Evidence of the steadfast determination to kill every last weed and microscopic fungal spore in our sacred American nettles? Mindless poisoning of the Chesapeake watershed? I'm inclined toward the latter.

I mean, these chemicals must wash off readily with all this rain: liquid nitrogen - into the bay in less than a day! What a great idea!

Gunshot cameras

Here comes one of our favorite former bartenders, Greg Glessner, with another one of his Big Ideas. "Lately," he writes in an e-mail, "we've heard some outcry about red-light cameras and their legality, constitutionality. It started me thinking. ... We've got a terrible problem with shootings in the city and an equally daunting challenge in getting reluctant witnesses to come forward to testify.

"So, we take these red-light cameras and put them on poles in the parts of the city where a lot of shootings occur. We modify them to remain inert, until such time as the proper stimuli, such as the sound of a gunshot or light of a muzzle flash, sets them off.

"Then, they kick into action, snapping pictures, or rolling film, all over the scene. This way, we get a good chance of identifying the perpetrators, and nobody has to sweat testifying.

"Another Baltimore first - the Gunshot Camera. Waddya think?"


Think? I think the perps will shoot out the cameras, Greg. Next ...

Crustacean liberation

The next Big Idea comes from Jeff Grutkowski of Baltimore, on the subject of the Chesapeake's crab crisis.

"How about this," he writes. "Encourage your readers to seek out vendors of local crabs, buy a dozen or more live crabs, preferably females, then quickly drive [them] to the nearest habitable branch of the Chesapeake and return them to the water.

"That's right: Crustacean Liberation. Catch and release, only you'd be releasing somebody else's catch.

"It could be a hell of a symbolic gesture for all of us crab-loving Marylanders who agree with you [that a moratorium on the harvest is needed], sort of a Boston Tea Party with crabs. We could have a 'Crustacean Liberation Day' in Maryland. Better yet, let's get a rich corporate sponsor to buy bushels and bushels of live crabs for a 'virtual crab feast,' then set the crusty critters free at a big press event. I can't imagine that environmentalists or watermen would have a problem with any of these ideas.


"I don't know if any of this would work. But I do know that we can't count on politicians to save the Chesapeake. We have to do it ourselves.

"Let me know what you think."


I think I'll try it once - to see if the crabs survive - and get back to you.

Meanwhile, here's reader Harold Screen of Parkville with the Mother of All Ideas on how to save the blue crab, the bay and probably life as we now know it.

Save crabs, and us, too


"The real issue [is] TOO MANY PEOPLE! We continue to use the bay as our sewer. ... All the Smart Growth in the world won't help. Get used to it, or find a way to have zero population growth."

Hey, I'm down with it, Harold. I fully support the idea of more crabs than people - a ratio of about a dozen to one sounds about right.