Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Double attacks! 


At least seven people have been killed after an elephant went on a terrifying rampage through a village.

A further 24 people were injured when the female elephant stormed into Bhudaheda, in northern India, and began destroying crops.


An elephant ran amok in Haridwar district killing five people and injuring three others on Thursday, forest officials said.

Hours after the incident the forest guards killed the pachyderm in the nearby jungles of Bahadrabad area in the district.

The incident occurred at Khuddaheri village in the district where the elephant, which apparently came from the nearby Rajaji Park, began attacking people in the fields on Thursday morning.


A frog he would a-wooing go, Heigh ho! 

Today, I picked up my first frogs from Brian, a breeder in Wisconsin. They are green and black poison dart frogs, actually better known by their scientific name, Dendrobates auratus. Within the frogger hobby, this morph - or variation within a species - is called "turquoise and tan".

Dendrobates auratus

At this stage they can't be sexed. I got 5 total, which gives me a 94% chance of having at least one breeding pair. This morph is somewhat variable - note the frog on the right is bluer than the others.

four Dendrobates auratus

Brian also threw in three auratus eggs.

Dendrobates auratus tadpoles

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Baby cricket factory 

I learned how to do this here, so just a quick walk around the cricket ranch.

Here's the feeding trough. They're eating cat food and powdered milk. As soon as I placed the lid full of food in the ranch, they started carrying off whole nuggets a third their size and greater in weight.

cricket farm trough

Crickets are pretty stupid and will drown themselves in any available open water so you have to give them something to suck on.

cricket farm watering hole

The egg cartons are just for them to crawl around on and hide under.

The small tub of soil is for the lady crickets to lay their eggs in. The broods arising from the small incubator will carry on the colony. As per the baby crickets born of the large incubator ... well, I'm not going to do anything Pol Pot didn't do, but I won't do it as efficiently and on a much smaller scale.

cricket in cubator

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


From the tone of the email John McCain just sent me, it seems he's likely to bow out before Clinton,

Never in memory have the Democrats, liberal special interests groups, labor unions and unregulated "527" soft-money groups come together with so much money and so much determination toward one purpose: Defeating Republicans.

They want the White House. They want Congress. They want total control of government. And with record-breaking fundraising and voter turnout in Democrat primaries and caucuses nationwide, the challenge to our Party is greater than at any time in modern history.

I truly believe the only way we can stop the Democrats is if dedicated Republicans, like you, step forward immediately and support the Republican National Committee's VICTORY 2008 project -- a grassroots effort that is the backbone of our entire Republican Party.

As our Party's presumptive nominee for President and as a fellow Republican, I am asking you personally to help the RNC's critical VICTORY 2008 campaign to strengthen our Party, to spread our conservative message, and to rally more Americans behind our Republican candidates.

Please help me kick-off the RNC's VICTORY 2008 project by clicking here to make a generous online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 or as much as you can afford to support our campaign efforts.

E, let me tell you why your help is so urgent.

The aggressive campaign being played out for the Democrat nomination is showing us one very crucial fact: The Democrats and their liberal allies are building the most massive political fundraising machine ever seen.

They are growing their mailing lists and phone banks, perfecting their technologies, developing their money-raising techniques -- from telephones to text-messaging to mail to the Internet to knocking on doors. And it is working.

With all the hype and media attention focused on their campaigns -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have managed to raise a staggering $425 million between them. Together they raised more than $60 million in the month of March alone. This is an unheard of amount of money in the history of American elections -- it's approaching a half a billion dollars.

The upcoming elections could be the most important in decades -- and have far-reaching implications for America's future security, growth, and prosperity.

If we fail to elect conservative Republican leadership in Washington, D.C. and all across the country, we face a return to the Democrats' tried-and-failed liberal policies that embrace higher taxes, more government spending, socialized medicine, and surrender in Iraq.

These are not the solutions to our country's greatest challenges.

That is why we are calling on our Party's very best -- individuals like you -- and getting them involved at the highest level in the RNC's victory-building campaign.

E, as someone who has done so much in the past for our Party, may we continue to count on your support at this very important time?

Your secure online gift of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 will be used for promoting our Republican agenda, identifying Republican and Republican-leaning voters, conducting voter education and Absentee Ballot programs as well as funding our vital voter registration program, with the goal of registering 2 million new Republican voters before Election Day.

With your help, the RNC will fight to make sure we have a Republican seated in the White House and strong Republicans in Congress and offices all across the nation who will push forward our conservative vision for America that includes lowering our taxes, reducing wasteful government spending, and ensuring victory in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We need you with us. I hope to hear from you soon and I look forward to working with you throughout this campaign.


John McCain

P.S. The Democrats are assembling massive rallies, breaking records at the polls, and raising unprecedented campaign funds for their candidates. Every vote, every dollar makes a difference in this election. E, I'm counting on you, as a loyal Republican Party supporter, to answer this challenge and join the RNC's VICTORY 2008 by making a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25. Thank you.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

An eulogy for movement conservatism 

In his wide-ranging essay The Fall of Conservatism: Have the Republicans run out of ideas?, George Packer observes,

In its final year, the Bush Administration is seen by many conservatives (along with seventy per cent of Americans) to be a failure. Among true believers, there are two explanations of why this happened and what it portends. One is the purist version: Bush expanded the size of government and created huge deficits; allowed Republicans in Congress to fatten lobbyists and stuff budgets full of earmarks; tried to foist democracy on a Muslim country; failed to secure the border; and thus won the justified wrath of the American people. This account - shared by Pat Buchanan, the columnist George F. Will, and many Republicans in Congress - has the appeal of asking relatively little of conservatives. They need only to repent of their sins, rid themselves of the neoconservatives who had agitated for the Iraq invasion, and return to first principles. Buchanan said, "The conservatives need to, in Maoist terms, go back to Yenan."

The second version - call it reformist - is more painful, because it's based on the recognition that, though Bush's fatal incompetence and Rove's shortsighted tactics hastened the conservative movement's demise, they didn't cause it. In this view, conservatism has a more serious problem than self-betrayal: a doctrinaire failure to adapt to new circumstances, new problems. Instead of heading back to Yenan to regroup, conservatives will have to spend some years or even decades wandering across a bleak political landscape of losing campaigns and rebranding efforts and earnest policy retreats, much as liberals did after 1968, before they can hope to reëstablish dominance.

The whole article is good. It lays out that movement conservatives have been replaying the 1972 election ever since and their anti-government views have necessarily made them ineffective at their elected responsibility: to govern.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trampling flap! 


MALAPPURAM (KERALA): A wild elephant went amok and killed a woman at in Malappuram district on Thursday. Ameena (52), a rubber-tapper at a state-run Plantation corporation, was busy working when the elephant attacked, killing her on the spot, police said.

A fortnight ago, a 10-month-old baby was snatched from her mother's hand and killed by a wild tusker at a tribal colony in the area, the sources said.


Purulia, May 21: Six people, including a two-and-half-year-old boy, were trampled to death by a tusker in Purulia today. The elephant wandered into Beladi village in the Joypur area, 305 km from Calcutta, around 5am and killed Nakur Mahato. Nakur, 35, was sleeping outside his hut. The animal then attacked two other women, who were also sleeping, but they escaped with injuries.

Badal Mahato, 30, a small farmer, had come to the field around 7am to pick vegetables. With Badal was his wife Bela, 25, their two-and-a-half-year-old son Goltu, and his mother Sauri, 55.

"I was busy in a corner of the field when I heard my mother shriek. I turned around and saw a huge elephant trampling my mother. I rushed forward but felt helpless in front the giant," said Badal.

The elephant gored Sauri with its tusks and then targeted Bela, who had Goltu in her arms. "When I realised it was not possible for me save them, I ran a distance and hid behind a clump of trees and watched. I watched my entire family die before my eyes," said Badal.


Brent Van Hooft, who has worked with elephants for the past 20 years and been a keeper at the zoo for the past 30 years, was cleaning up the animal closure when Swarna, a 34-year-old female Asian elephant, came up behind him Sunday. "Apparently, he had his back turned and she pushed him or bumped him, and he fell into the wall and struck his head," said Grahame Newton, the zoo's director of corporate services.

The force of being pushed into the concrete wall left Van Hooft with minor chest injuries, cuts and bruises to his face and possibly a broken nose. It's possible Swarna considered Van Hooft a threat to nine-month-old Malti, a calf born to another elephant, Newton said.

Dude thinks about a contraption,

Though the device is yet to be tested on an elephant, Mathew said that the device will work. The device consists of two gear units, operated using a remote, that are placed on the sides of the elephant. The leg is connected to the gear unit with a nylon belt that can withstand a load of 3 tonnes.

When the button on the remote control is pressed, the nylon belt gets tightened. As the elephant raises its leg, the belt gets further tightened and it will not be able to move back its leg unless the lock is released. In addition to the remote control, the device can also be locked manually by pulling the long rope attached to it.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It fell because Republicans think taxpayers know how to spend their money better than government 

A report commissioned by the Minnesota legislature concludes,

For Pawlenty and MnDOT, the harshest criticism may have come in the report's finding that funding influenced decisions concerning the bridge. The decision to postpone a $13 million redecking -- and instead proceed with a $3.5 million overlay that was underway when the bridge fell -- meant "funding considerations deferred work on the bridge that would have improved its structural integrity, not just maintain its drivability," the report concluded.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Need a giant anteater or a pair of white rhinos? 

Ken is your guy.


Friday, May 16, 2008

McCain erndorser is freak. Freak 

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sarracenia purpurea 

My purple American pitcher plant is doing rather well. Unlike other American pitcher plants, S. purpurea collects rainwater in which to drown its prey. I have read that its digestion is aided by mosquito larvae and bacteria living in its pitchers. However, with no larvae and only the bacteria that came with it turned a large cricket into a translucent film on the top of the water in a short week. I first filled the single pitcher with water at the same time I fed it a cricket - a few days before the second following photo was taken.

Here it is at week 0, just planted from bare-root,

Sarracenia purpurea crown

Week 4, digesting its first cricket - it was not until it was fed that the faintly darker green veining became strikingly purple and pronounced,

purple American pitcher plant

Today, a bit shy of week 8,

American purple  pitcher plant

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Fruit fly culture experiment 

I'm growing flightless fruit flies to feed my pet plants. About a month ago I bought a culture of them from a pet store for $5.99 - I believe today I bought enough ingredients to make dozens of times more flies for about the same price. First, here is the store purchased culture.

purchased fruit fly culture

Because millions of people without in-sink disposals unwittingly make fruit fly cultures every day I figure it's rather difficult to fail in the venture. I've read that using vinegar instead of water inhibits mold growth so I threw into the blender a small apple, half a package of potato buds, half a package of baking yeast and wet it down a bit with apple cider vinegar.

diy fruit fly food

I kept the apple peels for springtail food. Or more accurately, food for springtail food. More on that tomorrow.

apple peels

After blending everything down to a cookie dough consistency, I used a root beer bottle to mash the mush more or less evenly across the bottoms of a mason jar and pickle jar. I put one in the freezer for later.


I learned a new word today, excelsior,

wood shavings (thin curly wood shavings used for packing or stuffing)

In this case, the source of my excelsior - pods of a Northern Catalpa - proved the first positive about having a nearly all year mess of the foot-long woody pods in the yard. Those woody pods are perfect excelsior material for my pet flies to find a purchase.


I shook 30-40 flies from the original culture into their new breeding grounds and locked them in with a paper towel and rubber bands.

put a lid on it

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

13 elephants trample crops, man 

A MAN was killed by an elephant during a standoff between a herd of elephants and villagers at Omuntele in the North [of Namibia] on Thursday.

Thirteen elephants, including three calves, escaped from the Etosha National Park. They trampled crops and mahangu fields, and villagers tried to chase them back to Etosha, shooting into the air with their rifles.

One elephant was wounded by a bullet fired by a villager. But this did not deter the elephants, which then stormed at the people. The villagers tried to run away, but two people collided with each other and one fell to the ground.

One of the elephants trampled the villager to death.

[Police Deputy Commissioner Ndahangwapo] Kashihakumwa blamed the villagers for not having informed the Police in time and instead trying on their own to chase the elephants away ... However, some villagers claim that Councillor Sacky Nangula called the Okatope Police immediately when the elephants arrived at the village, but the Police said they did not have a car.


Friday, May 09, 2008


Pictures from the 2008 Chaitén eruption. Before:


Volcanic ash replenishes soil nutrients.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

FYI, McCain's 100 year context 

The questioner asked, "I do not believe that one more soldier being killed every day is success. There were three U.S. soldiers killed today. I want to know, How long are we going to be there?" John McCain replied,

I can look you in the eye and tell you that those casualties tragically continue ... But they are much less, and they are dramatically reduced and we will eventually eliminate them.

To this, the questioner famously responded,

President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for fifty years.

McCain: Make it a hundred.

McCain's goal in Iraq is to stay until no Americans are being killed there. Which to anybody who's been paying attention means never and always. Under McCain, we will be in Iraq, ready to be killed forever.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008


"The bridge in Minneapolis didn't collapse because there wasn't enough money. The bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because so much money was spent on wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects."

- John McEngineering

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Theives target recyclable items 

Oh, oh. I wonder if there were any Cubans involved.

In two states where US attorneys are already under fire for serious allegations of political prosecutions, seven people associated with three federal cases have experienced 10 suspicious incidents including break-ins and arson ...

In Alabama, for instance, the home of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was burglarized twice during the period of his first indictment ... the only items of interest to the burglars were the files in Siegelman's home office.

Siegelman's attorney experienced the same type of break-in at her office.

In neighboring Mississippi, a case brought against a trial lawyer and three judges raises even more disturbing questions ... The main target of the indictment, attorney Paul Minor, had his office broken into, while Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, Oliver E. Diaz Jr., had his home burglarized. According to police reports and statements from Diaz and from individuals close to Minor, nothing of value was taken and the burglars only rummaged through documents ...

The incidents are not limited to burglaries. In Mississippi, former Judge John Whitfield was the victim of arson at his office. In Alabama, the whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case, Dana Jill Simpson, had her home burned down ...

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