Now and again, we check out what's being offered up for sale by the Office for Real Property Utilization and Disposal. It's mostly to rekindle our childhood fantasies of living in a lighthouse — our own hermitage in an eternally fog-blanketed solitary garden. In the past, we had fixated on this quaint Second Empire sea cottage and this oil platform with micronational ambitions. There always seems to be a couple for sale, perhaps because more modern, GPS-augmented maritime navigation systems have created redundancies. And indeed there are four retired lighthouses on the auction block at the moment, or soon will be: all are definite beauties.
A more interesting property, however, is Plum Island, home of Plum Island Animal Disease Center, or “America's first line of defense against foreign animal diseases.”
The island and everything on it is up for sale. That includes buildings that once housed or currently store the pathogens responsible for foot-and-mouth disease, hog cholera, African swine fever and various others that invariable delight fantasists, conspiracy theorists and apocalypse aficionados. To ensure easy access for the new owners, marine ferries will also be included in the sale.
We've always hoped that the government would donate the research facilities, or lease them for $1/year, to Richard Pell so that he can house and expand his PostNatural History Museum.