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Issue Date: February 2005 Issue

Health Front

The Editors

Crocodile dung has a use? Australian teens used those candy wrappers for what? These are the sorts of reactions we had to Case Western Reserve University's newly acquired collection of artifacts documenting the history of contraception. Seems the quest to keep our numbers under control started long before couples stopped having a dozen children. Former Ortho Pharmaceuticals CEO Percy Skuy assembled the collection of 650 artifacts and 150 books. "Some [birth-control methods] were useless, some harmful and some could probably have shown a reasonable degree of effectiveness," he says. The birth-control pill maker donated the collection to Case late last year and the university promptly displayed it on the second floor of the Dittrick Medical History Center. Since it's pretty hard to discuss the exhibit without getting into the biology of it all, those interested in learning more should plan a visit.

One small step for homeless people, one giant leap for illustrating how severe the city's public housing crunch has become. Peeved by a 2005 federal budget that slashed urban housing funding by $622 million and boosted NASA's budget by $812 million, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless hit local shelters for one day last year to find out how many men and women currently without affordable housing would be willing to strap themselves into a rocket for the chance to get a roof over their heads. The group's tongue-in-cheek question — asked as part of a larger survey shining light on the 9,000 people waiting for public housing in Cleveland — found 42 percent of the more than 400 homeless people they talked to would accept housing on Mars or the moon if it were to become available before a housing voucher here on Earth. (Forty percent declined and 18 percent didn't answer the spacey query.)

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