Well...John Dean seems to think there will be no indictments. Some guy from the Wall Street Journal apparently agrees (remember, he's from the Wall Street Journal). But many others think there will be indictments, anywhere from one to eight or more. No one knows. Fitzerald hasn't leaked. Everything is up in the air. We all hold our breath waiting to see what will happen next week. So, in the meanwhile, here is another essay:
I don’t know about you but I find Gila monsters to be very unattractive, even ugly, and as they are also poisonous, not something I am keen to have around. One of only two species of poisonous lizards (the Mexican beaded lizard is the other), they are found in the southwestern United States and in northern Mexico. They grow to about 20 inches, are sort of fat, with tails that store fat that they use for sustenance during the winter months. They have bead-like scales and pink and black blotches or bands, and some kind of plates on their undersides. They are rather sluggish creatures, mostly nocturnal, and during the summer months they feed on eggs, small mammals and birds. They have a strong bite and some of their teeth are grooved to conduct the venom while they are chewing on their prey. Their bite is rarely fatal to humans. I once knew a man who kept one as a pet in the drawer of his desk.
Although Gila monsters are not extinct (I don’t know precisely what their status is at the moment) they are certainly the kind of creature that could easily be allowed to completely disappear what with development, off-road vehicles, conversion of land use, and so on. Fortunately, however, they have not been allowed to follow many other species into extinction yet – because, of all things, it has been discovered recently that their saliva has medicinal properties very useful in the treatment of diabetes! Don’t ask me who thought up the idea of fooling around with their saliva in the first place. It is hard for me to imagine someone waking up in the middle of the night exclaiming, Eureka!, what we need is Gila monster saliva!.
That Gila monster saliva is useful does bring up some food for thought. The skin of frogs has been found to be useful for fighting microbes. Penicillin is derived from mold. Quinine is made from Chinchona bark. Many kinds of little known beans are presumed to have medicinal and other valuable qualities. And, of course, there are still species that have not been discovered by the west, and hundreds that have been, have not yet been thoroughly investigated.
No one likes mold. It ruins food. But what if people had discovered a way to prevent mold? We obviously would not have penicillin. What if all the frogs had disappeared (and some apparently are, for as yet unknown reasons)? What if all the Chinchona trees had been allowed to have been harvested? Far-fetched? I don’t think so, given how so many other plants, insects, and animals have been allowed to go extinct, and many more on the brink. We need rattlesnake venom in order to manufacture the antidote for it. I suppose, in the case of rattlesnakes, one might argue that if we killed all of them we wouldn’t need the antidote. But that seems impractical and besides, how do we know they may not hold other secrets of use? I hope the Gila monster example may act as a wake-up call so that our own species will actually get the message that virtually all plants, insects, and animals may well have important qualities and uses and therefore should not be treated as casually as they have in the past.
What potential secrets might the Passenger Pigeon have taken to the grave? The many species of birds that have disappeared from Hawaii and elsewhere? What might perish with the California Condor or the Whooping Crane if they don’t make it? Remember, we tried but failed to destroy the estimated 50 million American bison that were here when the first Europeans arrived. Happily, we have not as yet managed to destroy the Grizzly Bear or the Wolves. Prudence would seem to dictate that we not allow these things to happen. And what about the Tasmanians? The American Indian tribes that were completely decimated? Actually, we have been and continue to be so foolhardy and short-sighted we may even make ourselves extinct, in which case the whole point is moot and the joke will be on us.