Sex Bomb
3 January, 2012

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My aunt is rearing an Antechinus – AKA marsupial mouse.  He’s a little over two weeks old and sweeter than a candy-coated kitten.  Since we’re not sure if he’s male or female, his name is Piper.  Actually, for his own sake we’re hoping he’s a girl. 

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Apologies for the poor quality antiquated camera phone photos, but I think I’d need a very professional set-up with rapid shutter speed to do him justice.  He skitters around like Speedy Gonzales after sampling a new shipment of Columbian Marching Powder.

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After a feed. His tummy is so hairless and transparent you can see it’s full of formula.

Antechinuses (Antechini ?) are best known for their mating marathons, as a result of which males only live for 11 1/2 months.  In September, they stage a frenetic fortnight-long orgy, mating with as many females as possible.  Because of the stress, aggression and endurance involved, all males die.  Consequently, all Antechinus females are single mums, rearing 7-10 offspring in a sort of open pouch, dragging their bubs along the ground for 5-8 weeks.

I think human society could learn a lot from the Antechinus.  Footballers, for example, enjoying Mad Monday, would be much easier to take if you knew they’d all cark it by the end of the week.  And who wouldn’t enjoy the Gold Coast Indy, if you knew only the ladies would make it past the finishing line?

 

 

 

Snail Misbehavin’
6 October, 2011

Brave Florida resident, Alice, aged 11, confronts an invading Giant African Snail.

Flee, Floridans! Fire up your mobility scooters and wheely-walkers and flee at your own pace… the Giant African Snails are coming!

http://www.news.com.au/world/giant-alien-snails-spark-panic-mass-eradications-in-miami/story-e6frfkyi-1226158458802

Just kidding – they look more like this:

My favourite bit is when the snail gave Mrs Hernandez  a migraine and she had to have a lie down. Really, Mrs Hernandez – after one 13cm snail? I’d love to confront her with a paddock-full of slime mould or a nasty outbreak of feral armpit fungus and see what happens – spontaneous combustion is my working hypothesis.

But it’s not just snails invading Florida. They also have terrible problems with Gambian pouched rats, pink hibiscus mealybugs and Burmese pythons. I know it’s wrong, but that news just makes me want to crate up several thousand cane toads and ship them over to add a bit of hop to the mix.

Still, serious biosecurity issues demand a reasoned response. Stop panicking, Florida. I’ve got several solutions to your “crisis” and so far I’ve only had one cup of coffee:

  1. Slimearama  Start a snail-based takeaway franchise. Sauté in garlic and red wine,  and serve in their own shells. Tastier, healthier and better for the environment than McDeath.
  2. Snail racing  Florida is America’s retirement capital, and seniors appreciate a gentle tempo. Paint numbers on the side of their shells, raise State revenue by taking bets on the… erm, sliders, close off a few main roads and let them rip. Hell, you could start a whole snail racing carnival. Fascinator sales would skyrocket.
  3. Exploit the Food Chain  Feed the pink hibiscus mealybugs and giant African snails to the Gambian pouched rats. The plumped-up pouchies may then be offered to the Burmese pythons. Sated and bloated, the pythons should make easy targets. Skin the pythons and make orthopaedic shoes, or colostomy bag covers.

Florida, no need to thank me – just send me a pair of python slingbacks, size 8.

Mutant Mayhem
23 August, 2011

Add a little spider, and couch man can now get his own damn beer without having to put the remote control down.

I note with interest that an American genetic engineer and a Dutch artist collaborated to weave a lattice of human skin and spider silk, extracted from genetically-altered silkworms, for want of sufficient mutant goat silk.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/entertainment/weird/artist-uses-spider-goat-silk-to-create-bulletproof-skin/story-e6frep26-1226119545

Sadly, the resultant textile of terror proved quite permeable to normal-speed bullets, but it does raise some fascinating scenarios. If you had a nice whack of research funding, and a lab-full of gene shears and incubators, what would you like to hybridise?

First out of my petri dish would be a male of the human species, with the ability bred into his willy… stay with me, it’s not what you think… to aim at and hit the inside of the toilet bowl, every time. I’d just extract the unerring accuracy of a frog’s tongue, or perhaps the directional capacity of a homing pigeon, and whack it into the offending organ.

There’s a scientific advance that would benefit womankind, people.

Now we can cross chooks and pigs, to produce bacon-flavoured eggs. Or how about pigeons and their fellow travellers, engineered to produce poop that acts as a fabric conditioner and deodoriser, putting an end to clothesline blight and rewashing syndrome?

Over to you, science.

Hop Stopped
6 March, 2011

On yet another of my forays to the hardware shop – yes, I believe the long-suffering blokes at our local Mitre 10 are sick to death of me; rumour has it they’re clubbing together to buy me a Bunnings gift-card – I was thrilled to discover a can of HopStop.

HopStop is a humane toad-killer in aerosol form, invented by some clever scientists in Canberra:

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/spray-kills-cane-toads-like-flies/story-e6freooo-1226014611922

Despite my deep and abiding hatred of toads, I don’t quite have the bloodlust – or the swing – to club them to death. We’ve tried the freezer method, but I’m uncomfortable turning my kitchen into death row. Having read about the HopStop release I was eager to give it a burl.

The next day the boys tore around the side of the house, whooping with delight. They’d found a pair of toads in the bucket under the tap.

“They were mating.” Magic Man said, a little wistful for the soon-to-be-blighted next generation of toadlets.

“Fabulous.” I replied “With one spray we can effectively eradicate hundreds!”

Over-turning the bucket, we watched the big male hop away at the first sign of trouble. I shook the can and passed it to Magic Man, who’d volunteered as Chief Executioner. He sprayed the toad – a small to medium sized female – for the few seconds recommended on the can. There was no olfactory evidence of the refreshing lemon scent the manufacturers promised – but nor did we reel back choking up our lung linings as you tend to with bathroom cleaner.

The toad took a few hops, then stopped. Could it really be as simple as that? Not quite. Using scientific methods – a few pokes with the end of his home-made bamboo spear – Magic Man determined that our victim was still extant.

A second, five to six second spray did the trick.The toad writhed away, making paddling motions with it’s back legs.

“Poor thing, it thinks it’s swimming in the dirt.” said Elf Boy

Satisfied that our prey was suffering terminal neurological compromise, we turned out attentions elsewhere. The next day I came back with a plastic bag to act as undertaker, lobbing it in the bin.

Verdict: Win for HopStop, but not quite the quick, painless death advertised. I’d recommend an eight to ten second spray for the average adult. Toad, that is – but I’m sure there’s a market for ex-husband spray, scientists, if you’re reading this. HopStop is easier and much less gory than clubbing toads to death. Unlike the freezer method, you don’t have to handle them while they’re live and squirming – or  risk forgetting about them, mistaking them for a couple of chops and defrosting at a later date.

Reasonable value at 19.95 a can and it’s always good to support Australian scientists. A few caveats, though: HopStop will kill bees, plants and native frogs,  so don’t go carpet bombing the backyard.

Sensitivity Spray
2 May, 2010

Check this out:

http://www.couriermail.com.au/entertainment/weird/scientists-develop-spray-to-make-men-more-emotionally-sensitive/story-e6frep26-1225861283409

Scientists… bless those quirky labcoats, our world would be a drab and far less amusing place if scientists weren’t constantly conducting stranger-than-fiction research and development… have come up with a nasal spray that makes men more “emotionally empathic”.

What I want to know is – how exactly is this supposed to work? Have a snort in the car on the way to date night, perhaps.

Or – does anyone remember the old Palmolive Gold commercials?:

Bruce “Bloody sheilas and your stupid whining about feelings”

Sheila gives a ‘silly Bruce being a sexist caveman again’ smirk and throws Bruce an oxytocin nasal spray

Theme music blares “Don’t wait ’till you’re gray – you need Sensitivity Spray!”

Land of the Sinking Sun
6 January, 2010

Japanese whalers are said to have sunk one of the protest fleet. A “stealth boat” tender. Obviously, I wasn’t in the Antarctic, and don’t know for sure. But how can scuttling boats be regarded as part of a scientific mission? How many people have to die, as well as cetaceans, before the slaughter stops?

Act. Now.

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