Hopkins, put that pig down!

James Cromwell is not a farmer, but he plays one in the movie Babe. That gives him the swine cred, he figures, to stick his snout into Johns Hopkins med school business.

Spare with words as Farmer Hoggett, the Oscar-nominated Cromwell has plenty to say about the school's use of live pigs to teach surgery.


"I have seen firsthand that pigs are highly intelligent, social animals," Cromwell recently wrote to med school dean Dr. Edward D. Miller. "Animal behavior experts agree, and scientific evidence suggests that pigs are very smart, very sensitive animals. Experiences like those I had on the set of the film Babe have reinforced for me just how complex pigs are."

Or, as Hoggett might have put it: "That won't do, Hopkins. That won't do."


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which forwarded a copy of Cromwell's letter to The Sun, claims "only a handful" of U.S. medical schools still use live animals.

I called Hopkins to see if anyone there gave a hoot about Cromwell's letter, but no one responded. Perhaps the spokesfolks were busy watching the movie, looking for a good comeback. They'd find it in the words of Ferdinand the duck.

Unless you're at the top of the food chain, he says, "The way things are stinks!" Even gentle Farmer Hoggett eats meat.

A badge, a cart and the power of the sun

Tip for bad guys in Annapolis: If you're going to run from the law, do it on a cloudy day. The cops have gone solar.

State Department of General Services officers, who provide security for state buildings and parking garages, have a new patrol vehicle powered completely by the sun - a first for Maryland law enforcement, I'm told.

It's called a Solar Utility Vehicle, but don't let the big, honkin' sound of the acronym fool you. This SUV is about the size of a golf cart, which DGS says is perfect for zipping around the State House complex. (Same goes for the electric-powered Segway just added to the DGS fleet.)

BP Solar donated the $10,000 solar vehicle to the state. The solar panel on its roof, made at the company's facility in Frederick, can power the vehicle for up to 12 hours. So all hell won't break loose if a few clouds roll in, at least not right away.


In Baltimore the living is easy

A team of Washington reporters reveals to D.C. residents tonight that there is life inside another beltway.

The Live Baltimore Home Center, which promotes Charm City living, has asked Washington journalists who live in Baltimore to talk up their town at a happy hour at the district's Front Page restaurant. (The event was first planned for December, but it got snowed out.)

The ink-stained ambassadors are David Brown, Washington Post medical writer and Mount Washington resident; Ann Hornaday, Post film critic and Evergreen resident; Kevin Naff, Washington Blade editor and Guilford resident; Lisa Simeone, NPR's "World of Opera" host and Charles Village resident; and Zenitha Prince, Washington Afro-American editor and resident of Belair-Edison.

Connect the dots

Even Sheila Dixon's staff seems to have embraced the "queen for a day" thing that rival Mike Schaefer lobbed during the mayor's race last year. Consider the city Web site's bio for Lauretta Brown, deputy director for the mayor's office of constituent services. It says Brown held a similar job "under [Dixon's] reign as Baltimore City Council President." ... Gary Gensler, a Treasury official in the first Clinton administration, would like there to be a second Clinton administration. So he's having a fundraiser at his Chevy Chase home Monday with Bill Clinton. It only costs $2,300 a head. "We will be accepting donations for the Primary Cycle only and encourage those who have already maxed out to help raise $2,300 for this event," says the invite. ... A Lutherville pizzeria misplaces a few vowels but gets its message across: "Try An O'Mally Sub," says the sign outside GT Pizza in Lutherville, where The Sun's Sam Sessa picked up lunch and this tip the other day. "It's a 100 percent Bologney!" Said owner Ricci DePasquale: "I thought he was going to freeze the rate hike for the BGE bills. Utilities have gone up, gas has gone up, and food costs have gone up, everything has gone up. The only thing that's gone down is the price of my pizza." ... Barack Obama tells the Las Vegas Sun that his favorite TV show is a certain gritty drama set in Baltimore. "[H]is favorite character is Omar, a stick-up artist who steals from drug dealers and then gives the loot to poor people in the neighborhood," the paper said. Perhaps it dawned on Obama that the whole Robin Hood thing might not play well, not in the general election, anyway. "That's not an endorsement," Obama added. "He's not my favorite person, but he's a fascinating character." ... Life imitates The Wire. R&B; musician Mary Blige is accused of having performance-enhancing drugs shipped to her under the name "Marlo Stanfield," a drug kingpin on the TV show, the Times Union of Albany reports. ... Baltimore Socialist Bob Kaufman is working on a super-secret plan having something to do with the unequal distribution of wealth. He's not saying any more than that. But he would like you to know he still needs a kidney. He's even worked up a slogan: "Kick in a kidney for Kaufman."