Coconut Crab

Couldn’t resist. This is great.

The coconut crab, Birgus latro, is the largest land-living arthropod in the world and is probably at the limit of how big terrestrial animals with exoskeletons can get under the prevailing conditions. Their body is divided into four regions; the cephalic lobe, forepart, trunk, and opisthosoma. It is a highly apomorphic hermit crab and is known for its ability to crack coconuts with its strong pincers in order to eat the contents.

crab1
Bin raider (credit)

And should you have the misfortune to get pinched by one of these monsters (and assuming you’re still conscious), you’d do well to remember this gem, from Victorian naturalist Thomas Hale Streets:

It may be interesting to know that in such a dilemma a gentle titillation of the under soft parts of the body with any light material will cause the crab to loose its hold.

Yep. Tickle it. Either that or just batter it with a rock. Quick as you can.

Fighting ire with fire

From here, via here.

With the G20 protests taking place in London today, Guido takes us back to previous occasions when demonstrators have bitten off more than they could chew:

WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail. What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement. “We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”

Another said: “I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot.” Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: “Sod off, Swampy.”

Protesters conceded that mounting the operation after lunch may not have been the best plan. “The violence was instant,” Jon Beresford, 39, an electrical engineer from Nottingham, said. They were set upon by traders, most of whom were under the age of 25. “They were kicking and punching men and women indiscriminately,” a photographer said. “It was really ugly, but Greenpeace did not fight back.”

Mr Beresford said: “They followed the guys into the lobby and kept kicking and punching them there. They literally kicked them on to the pavement.” Last night Greenpeace said two protesters were in hospital, one with a suspected broken jaw, the other with concussion.

Classic moments. And I can quite see where those oil traders were coming from. Since my dismissal of all things Earth Hour on here and elsewhere on the web, I have had bunnyhuggers, lefties and bunnyhugging lefties chastising me at every opportunity. Not very pleasant and not very conducive to debate on the subjects at hand. And damn annoying, if I’m honest.

If Earth Hour was so very important, then why don’t they try it every night? Or would that make them miss Desperate Housewives and “Grey’s” (as it has annoyingly become known)?
All about priorities, I guess. Like the hypocrisy of those “eco-warriors” giving their desperately ill child drugs which had been tested on animals. Or the Noordhoek residents who drive 120km round trip to work each day, but consider themselves “green”, because “they do their bit for the environment”.
Oh yes. They certainly do. Probably not in the way they imagine though.

What the whiners about Earth Hour don’t seem to realise (aside from the fact that it made almost completely no difference to South Africa’s energy consumption) is that not everyone chooses to share their point of view. I didn’t go out of my way to waste electricity for 60 minutes. That would have been unnecessarily antagonistic, expensive and equally pointless. I just sat there and watched a bit of Top Gear, while eating a spicy lamb pizza. Apathetic, you might call it. Conscientious objectionism, I might argue.

But even my expressing my viewpoint is apparently not allowed anymore and the vitriol and bile has been free-flowing from the greenies.
Well, sod them. Their continuing insistance that Earth Hour made any sort of difference (especially here) and their ongoing nastiness towards non-participants invite ridicule. If you have more to say, you’re welcome: the comments window is just below.

Bring it, Swampy.  

The Daily Mail quandary

I remember being in the UK. Downing a coffee and heading out into the rain to work. Popping into the hospital newsagents in the morning and buying the paper.
I generally stuck with The Times or The Telegraph. If it was Monday, I might get The Sun for the football news. I wouldn’t touch the Daily Mail, because I didn’t want to read alarmist nonsense about house prices or the latest idiotic health-fad idea, e.g.:

How 40 winks in the afternoon can raise your risk of diabetes.
Daily Mail, 9 March

Diabetes risk ‘soars with lack of sleep’.
Daily Mail, 12 March

Quite. But now, in a sinister turn, it seems that the Daily Mail has run out of bad things to say about Britain and Britons (amazing!) and has turned it’s attention overseas. Peter Hitchens’ piece is arguably the most damning, one-sided, ignorant, pessimistic, alarmist thing I’ve ever read about this country. It’s not the most racist, obviously, because some people have the courage and honesty to at least speak openly about their views, however repugnant those views may be.

I sighed when I got to the standard disclaimer a few lines in:

I can promise you I will be accused of alarmism and pessimism for saying so, and quite possibly of ‘racism’ too.

How many times have I read that? It’s put in there because the piece is alarmist, pessimistic and ‘racist’. And when you point that out, the author can say, “Well, I knew you’d accuse me of that”. Of course, it doesn’t make those accusations any less valid.

The article is also inaccurate on many points. The “African Chernobyl” comment made me laugh – I’m about 12 miles away from Koeberg nuclear power station at the moment and I’m really not scared at all. In fact, I don’t know anyone who is, so where did he get that soundbite? 
The power blackouts indicating “a country on the slide” are long gone, as the nation pulled together to use electricity less wastefully.
The upcoming election is being overseen by the strong arm of the IEC together with international observers – it is not “crooked”.
His comments that we do not hear about crime or HIV or corruption is completely laughable. Would that we could hear about something else for a change.
And finally – that machine gun song – only the most desperate of propagandists have ever been foolish enough to take it literally.

And then on Zuma: jibes about his weight and his “charisma of an ashtray”. This from a man who has Gordon Brown as his Prime Minister.
Hitchens points out that Zuma is a polygamist as if this is unexpected and wrong. Well, yes he is. And in the Zulu culture that’s completely normal. Many from that tribe would probably look at Barack Obama and Gordon Brown and wonder why they only have one partner. This isn’t America or Britain – so why should Zuma conform to your Western norms?
And then the fawning support for (white and Western) “popular and effective mayor of Cape Town and leader of the Democratic Alliance” Helen Zille. I had to read twice and then check I wasn’t reading a DA election ad.

I caught up with her at Stellenbosch University, where she was speaking to an almost wholly white student audience, switching easily from English to Afrikaans. Unlike Zuma, she is a witty, fluent orator. She does not break into song, and critics joke that if she did it would be ‘Bring me my cappuccino’ rather than ‘Bring me my machine gun’.
Her aides, however, point out that she also speaks fluent Xhosa, Nelson Mandela’s language, and that many of her meetings are full of black and brown faces. 

 [Her] diagnosis is impressive, cool and clear. [Her] cure: a real law-governed democracy, is attractive.

Once again – the naïve assumption that Western government is the cure-all South Africa requires. But of course, It won’t happen.

She knows the Alliance must break out of being nothing more than a white liberal party. But alas she is a white liberal, albeit a very impressive one.

Indeed. If only those silly black people would understand that the DA doesn’t stand for “Darkies Aside”. But no – they insist on voting for parties that they choose, instead of the ones that Hitchens would prefer to govern the country. How very trying.

Altogether the worst bit of journalism that I have ever seen. But, of course, there will be those who believe every word, like the Daily Mail readership. And then they’ll tell their friends Roger and Helen over a pineapple juice at the Black Dog on Friday evening, wonder if JZ killed Princess Di and then all worry about how it will affect their house prices. Sad, but true.

So why this “quandary”, then? Surely one just avoids the Daily Mail and its obnoxiously snobbish racist viewpoints?

But no, because the editors (who swore they would never again use paparazzi pictures after that 1997 Paris tunnel incident) drag you in with their loss leader: Kelly Brook in a bikini in the Caribbean.


Kelly – Hello!

It’s unfair, but it’s brilliant marketing. And while I hate to admit it, it’s working on me. I just wish I didn’t have to put up with misleading, racist crap to be able to see skimpily dressed ex-Breakfast TV presenters frolicking in the sea.

Sofa danger

There are a plethora, a myriad, a lot of different things in your home which can do you harm. Your iron may scald you, your oven may burn you, you may plunge from your ladder while trying to rescue the cat from the roof – your cat may scratch you on the way down, your wife may chastise you as you lie, broken, in your hospital bed.
And then there are the soft, safe things in your house: your bed, your newly declawed cat, your sofa.

But you’ll soon scrub that idea, as you read of the terrifying reality of the woman ‘made ill by toxic sofa’.

A woman from Oxfordshire has spoken of the injuries she says she sustained from a toxic chemical left in a leather sofa.
Wendy Preston, 67, from Chipping Norton, is still recovering from the burns and rashes she says she received after buying a new sofa from an Argos store in July 2007.

Can this be for real? Well, yes it can.

Mrs Preston said she noticed the itching a few months after buying the furniture.
She said: “It was very intense and burning. Then it spread up my back, down to my toes and into my hair.”

Hairy toes are considered very attractive in some parts of the world, I’m told.

Mrs Preston was prescribed antibiotics by a doctor – but the itching did not go away. 
“My doctor asked me if I had started using a new detergent,” she explained.
“That’s when I remembered hearing something about toxic sofas.”

Ah yes. Of course – the old “toxic sofas” thing. I often recall it (usually after a couple of beers, to be fair) when I’ve just bought a new sofa and then I start itching up my back and on my hairy toes.
Yes, it’s at those times, when I’m really struggling to work out what it is that’s making my hirsute podial digits so very uncomfortable that it comes to me, like a flash of light in a less light place: it’s probably “something about toxic sofas”. Trouble is, you can never work out where you heard that sort of thing though, even though it should be pretty obvious. I can’t remember every conversation I’ve had about football – there have been millions of them. Or microbiology stuff – cos I do a lot of that, too. But I can’t imagine that I’ve ever really spoken at length with anyone about poisonous lounge furniture.  
But somehow, like Wendy Preston, I do remember hearing something about toxic sofas. And I always bring it up when someone asks me if I’m using a new detergent.

I’m sure you can see the link there, too: New detergent/Toxic sofas. Clear as day.

We’ll leave the last word to Mrs Preston though, bless her blotched and scaly skin:

“It was very frightening. When you buy a new sofa you don’t expect this kind of trouble.”

Well, no. Of course not. I mean, you may expect a little rowdiness from some of the three-seaters, obviously. And some whining and moulting from some of the corner-units, perhaps. But certainly not frightening toxicity.
That’s way out of line.