Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The three little children that died miserable fiery deaths

Once upon a time in an airliner flying above the Great American Desert there were three naughty children. They enjoyed kicking the backs of the seats of people that had never done them or their people any harm. Despite the patient pleadings of those people and stern warnings from their drink and drug addled mother they continued their naughtiness.

“They can’t throw us off the airplane,” said Jimmy the oldest most repellant boy. “We’re up too high!”

“They can’t give us a well deserved beating because they aren’t relatives and they stand to do some serious time, child abuse laws being what they are, if they lay a finger on us!” Said Maria, the noxious middle girl.

“Lets run in aisle and throw some of the tasty seasoned bits of fried dough, corn chex and pretzels the airline provided at passengers who paid full fair for their tickets.” Said Hector, the imaginative youngest cur and unholy spawn of Satan.

Soon the three naughty children were frolicking in the cabin and people many rows away came to despise them. An elderly woman undid their shoelaces and gave them a razor sharp pair of scissors she’d smuggled on board to hold while they ran around the cabin. The sky Marshall gave them his service revolver to play with in the hopes that an accidental discharge might kill the loathsome creatures. Everyone in the airliner offered controlled substances to the mother to sedate the noisome pack but she gobbled down the collection of opiates and horse tranquillizers herself and fell into a stupor. Various kinds of English and Spanish commands were tried to control the unruly trio but it was to no avail. They continued to annoy the paying passengers.

Because of air traffic delays caused by personnel cutbacks that saved money the airline could pass onto their executives in the form of well deserved pay raises, the airliner had to stay aloft for far longer than was expected so the three naughty children got to play long into the evening being hopped up on caffeine, sugar and Ritalin. For hours they played, kicked, and screamed until the youngest finally filled his pants with a partially digested broccoli and beans mixture that oozed out of his huggies and down his legs. This was the cause of much hilarity among his siblings.

All good things must come to an end however and in this case the airliner had pushed away from the terminal with just enough gas to get from Chicago to L.A. Because of cutbacks and labor troubles this fact wasn’t noticed by the cheaper if somewhat lesser skilled replacement workers now in charge of noticing things like that. The airliner was soon plummeting like a rock through the clear desert sky. It got very quiet in the cabin as the all too reasonable pleadings and prayerful wailing of adults replaced the insane rantings of children.

Some one or some thing must have heard because the temporary secretary that had replaced the striking pilot in this case was able to land the 737 with minimal damage even though she’d only been given 24 hours to study the manual and was only certified on Word for Windows.

Safely on the ground the three naughty children surveyed the cabin and began scampering through the debris and playing with the oxygen masks that hung down from the ceiling. They splashed through the residual jet fuel that had leaked into the cabin as the other passengers evacuated. A quiet man who had been in the row just in front of the kids, tossled the eldest’s hair and told them to stay in the plane until their Mom came to. “Do anything you want.” He said, “the planes a write off anyway.” He gave Maria a lighter he had modified to be not so child proof. He left the plane and shut the emergency exit behind him.

The passengers danced around the subsequent fire in celebration of their good fortune as the superstructure burned with a steady blue flame until it was a pile of twisted metal. The only injuries were to rescue workers who tried to enter the burning wreck to save the children. They were inadvertently clubbed by irate passengers who mistook them for baby harp seals in firemen’s turn outs.


Australia of the antipods, a blessed sun kissed land of beaches, great stands of explosively combustible gum trees and an odd looking collection of endangered agricultural pests is populated almost exclusively by descendants Irish settlers who sought their fortunes in either farming, prospecting or on parole.

The Brits selected it as a penal colony because they felt that the prospect of internment in its moderate climate, good air and clean water would terrify into good behavior any inmates dispatched there. When compared to the drafty, foggy and tuberculosis ridden climate the inmates were used to it was indeed terrifying, so terrifying in fact many never returned. Its only when you see the acres of pink Irish flesh basted in SPF 1000 sun block then burned to a ghastly crisp on Bondi that you realize the Pommy bastards might have been on to something.

Among the charms of the island continent is that death comes at you from a variety pack of different sources. Australia which is Latin for Southern Land means “Get Me The Fuck Out Of Here!” when freely translated from the aboriginal languages. It’s a wonderful place of great beauty and grandeur and some of the most dangerous flora and fauna on the entire planet.

One of Auz’s proudest claims is that it is home to nine of the ten most poisonous snakes on earth. There isn’t a cobra or rattlesnake in the top ten so unless you happen to be in southern Africa and step on a black mamba, you aren’t ever likely to stumble across anything as venomous as anything playing in Australian snake league. And what a large league it is, of 400 or so native species of snakes the majority of Australian snakes are venomous, the only place on earth that can make that claim

Although they make asps and sidewinders appear almost cuddly Australia’s killers have homely even prosaic names. Although being bitten by something called a Death Adder is pretty alarming, how bad could the bite of a Collett’s snake be? Well almost instantly fatal in fact, like wise the Taipan and both Brown Snakes. Yes, it seems that two species of the world’s ten most poisonous snakes happen to be called Brown snakes.

Thanks to either incredibly bad luck on the part of two Mr. Browns who independently discovered how lethal the snakes they were handling were thereby earning the distinction of having the species named after them or a profound lack of imagination on the part of Zoologist, two of the world’s deadliest reptiles have identical names. They could have named one the Khaki Colored Man Killer or Taupe Death Dealer but no, Brown Snake was good enough! I imagine this is a problem when a man goes to a doctor complaining of snake bite and the doctor has him describe the snake.

“Brown,” the patient answers and the doctor tells him to come back in a half hour and he’ll know which anti-venom to give him. The patient wonders why it should take so long to identify a snake and the doctor tells him it if he’s still alive in half an hour they’ll know he was bitten by the less dangerous of the Browns.

Of course there are many other deadly animals in Australia some surprisingly convenient for tourists and the unwary Australians to stumble over. There are huge salt water crocs that denizens of the out back are fond of poking at. There are a variety of man eating sharks swimming off shore, including the Great White, the species popularly credited with eating one of Australia’s prime ministers. Most heads of state have security details that rehearse scenarios to see how they’d react in a given situation; I wonder how many have to rehearse what to do when the old man wants to go for a swim?

Of course in Australia a critter doesn’t need to be big to kill you! Sydney is the home range of the Funnel Web spider, it’s about the size of you fist but it has the largest fangs of any spider, period. There is none of that bullshit about percentage of body size these fangs are bigger than camel spiders or tarantulas carry. The nice thing about the species is it’s aggressive, particularly when it has loving on its mind, it will attack a full sized human under the misapprehension the human is after its girl. Fun Fact: Female Funnel Webs live in holes that bare an uncanny resemblance to shoes, at least to Male Funnel Webs, so be sure you shake out the espadrilles before you put them on when visiting down under.

And don’t forget to check out Redbacks and White Tail spiders on your way to the morgue or the aptly named Paralysis Tick if hiking in high grass is your thing.

Of course you are only likely to encounter Funnel Webs in Queensland, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne but when you head down to their famed beaches death can stalk you in exciting new ways. Lots of dangerous things lurk under the waves, including more lethal snakes, blue ring octopuses and a venomous snail but aren’t considered interesting because they live to far out at sea to rack up a decent body count and their victims usually drown in terrified agony and are ripped to shreds by voracious sharks before they’re missed.

So lets just consider the killers of waders, Stonefish and Toadfish are considered the most dangerous fish on earth and freely available to be trod on in the surf. Victims of the Stonefish’s sting have been known to beg to be killed rather than endure the agony of the injury.

Varieties of jellyfish float on the gentle tide. Portuguese Men O’War or blue bottles if you prefer trail long strands of tentacles studded with stingers that inflict painful wounds and inject toxins. Fortunately the treatment for the agonizing injury is fairly mundane, just apply vinegar or urine to the affected area, it may or may not work. So if you see a bunch of Auzi’s peeing on one of their ilk, it may or may not be what it appears to be at first glance.

Ordinarily the Portuguese Man o’ War is the top of the stinging order when it comes to bobbing lethal blobs of goo but the Auzi’s go one step further and have box jellyfish, all species of which are venomous but with one variety deemed to be the most venomous animal on earth. That’s right the capo d’tui capo of venomous creatures great and small and it wasn’t discovered until some one stumbled ashore screaming “something bit me!” and then died. It is microscopic and apparently so lethal its copious previous victims were presumed to have had heart attacks and drowned. Fortunately medical science has discovered an anti-venom for this mini man killer so a victim of its sting can make a partial recovery with a minimum of disfigurement and surgery if he makes the agonizing ride to the hospital in time.

Urine is of no use for treating the Box Jellyfish sting but do pee on the victim anyway, you'll enjoy it and the victim will probably be dead in a short time.

Of course death stalks the tourist in Australia no matter where you go or what species you encounter. The Emu, a flightless bird is the third largest and most dangerous in the avian order. It has bad eyesight and an evil temper which when combined with its gently curious nature has produced some notable encounters of the last kind. Typically the bird will wander over to the unlucky tourist apparently interested in his head wear or whatever until it comes into visual range, realizes it’s a human he’s been stalking and in flurry of feathers and claws, guts the poor traveler like a catfish.

I could stop here but I won’t because in Australia death hides where you least expect it, kind of like a lethal Candid Camera. Australia has one of the very few venomous mammals: the platypus. Most venomous mammals are small shrew like creatures, not dangerous to man and very rare, Platypus are large, common and lethal. The males have a spur on a hind leg that is connected to a venom sack, the nice thing is when a male has hooked a victim he voids the entire sack into the victims blood stream since the Platypus has no control over the process.

I hope you found these tips handy if you fancy a trip down under. In spite of their incomprehensible English the Auz are a fair dinkum bunch O’lads with more euphemisms for vomiting than any other country on earth. So loosen up in this land of firsts, mosts and deadliest, set your mind at ease, sit back, relax and enjoy Australia until a Dingo eats one of your children.